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Foxes were an occasional sight on the central Yellowstone Plateau upon my arrival here, though sightings have become more frequent in recent decades, perhaps as a consequence of the re-introduction of wolves. I am endlessly fascinated by the dynamism of nature here; never is there stasis or equilibrium; what happens with one species affects another. I presume the waltz involves that of a mated pair in a brief emotionally-charged domestic couples conversation.
A Yellowstone fox in twilight trots toward the sound of stirring voles. January 22, —The Language of Snow, Part 1. Surface hoar on snow at the edge of a thermal pool—yet another solid-water manifestation of Yellowstone in winter. The internationally agreed scientific lexicon of the cryosphere distinguishes 29 kinds of snow, 8 falling and 21 fallen. Then, there is the vernacular, the lingo, of skiers and snowboarders. Both scientific jargon and ski speak are dialects of specialized sub-cultures, not the complex languages of peoples who live out their lives in snow worlds.
Sun cups. Sun made snow slab and its cousin wind-slab. Snow rollers, sometimes as big as a tire where snow has rolled down a slope forming a tight coil. Graupel, wind driven pellet snow that stings the face and signals the presence of beautiful snow squall clouds. Says Fuller of this firescape: "The vertical lines are snags, the burned standing lodgepole pine trees of a forest swept by a very hot fire. The horizontal lines are shadows caste by the snags that reveal the snowy contours of the hills on which the charred forest grew. How deep does the snow get?
Digging out to let the sun in. Like Michelangelo plying a piece of carrara marble, Fuller continues the process of cutting away the icy slab almost as dense and heavy as concrete.
January 29, —My Golden Assignment. Winterkeeper Steven Fuller ventures into the geothermal mists of Yellowstone. Photograph courtesy Kerry Huller www. My longtime friend, Mountain Journal editor Todd Wilkinson whom I met when he worked as a summer employee at Canyon during and , asked me to reflect on an article I wrote for National Geographic magazine. Steven Fuller's story was widely read and served as a touchstone for millions desiring to hear about a side of Yellowstone most never see.
It was a matchless education and a life that will forever be imprinted upon their identity. Here, at left, Emma uses a frost-covered window as a drawing board and, at right, reminders of their growing years. This spread appeared in National Geographic. All photos by Steven Fuller. We had a landline telephone, mail came more or less monthly, I had a short wave radio on which to listen to the BBC North America service. Ours was a world without cell phones or internet. The concept of selfie and texting was a generation away from conception let alone universal realization.
To me solitude has always connoted a quiet space away from the white noise, both inner and outer, that isolates us from our opportunity for self-realization. As a family, or with their English mother, they went to England every year and so were comfortable in both worlds, unintimidated by public school boy toffs or by arrogant Wyoming ranch boys.
We homeschooled them, we had both taught in East Africa, until their interests shifted from the home to their peers and so Angela and the children wintered at the north entrance to the park during the school year, while I continued living and working at Canyon. After graduation Emma, with a degree in Central American Studies, traveled the world. She worked three seasons at the South Pole, and in the course of a decade visited 46 countries until she married a grizzly bear biologist and settled in Livingston, Montana, 60 miles north of the park. Skye took her degree in Anthropology and spent five years in LA working for the Natural History Museum before moving to Reno, Nevada and then taking a job with Patagonia, the environmentally active outdoor clothing company.
I thought he was trying to scare me off, but there was a grain of truth in what he said. These photos appeared as part of Fuller's photo illustration for National Geographic. The image on the left features "snow pillows"; on the right is a walk through the Shoshone Geyser Basin while on a winter backcountry ski trip. Fuller and his now-grown daughter, Emma, flip through the pages of National Geographic's issue in which Fuller chronicled his family's life in Yellowstone and his adventures as winterkeeper. Photo by Joe Sawyer. February 4, —Meandering Fates.
I wonder if the antlers will completely disappear before I do? Spoor is an artifact, a trace, a hint, or evidence that tells a story, usually of animals, birds, or insects … day beds, rubbings, horn or claw marks, tracks, scat, an odor, a sound, a feather, strands of hair, bent grass, a dust wallow, or a displaced pebble on an animal trail. Each is an example of spoor. Nothing else.
Coyote tracks cross geo-thermally warmed ground onto snow covered ground…the difference is delineated by a sharp line between the hot and the not. Otter tracks in hydrothermally heated mud next to "frost flowers" at the edge of the Yellowstone River. The bones of a coyote that died of injury or age while seeking succor on the warmth of a geyser cone lie in a pool of supersaturated mineral water that is refreshed with each eruption of the geyser, Fuller explains. Mineral deposits eventually closed over the watery window where the bones lay.
I contour in what I like to think of as compatible curves that reflect and respect the flow of the landscape. No straight lines, no herring-bone vertical climbs, no zig-sag cut backs while ascending a slope. Having been here for a long while I am aware of my own spoor both on foot and on skis. I am a peasant skier, not into performance in any sense of the word.
In Hayden Valley I like to ballroom dance with the topography as my partner—she leads, I follow. My ski spoor is calligraphy writ on the body of the snow world. Go your own way: "A deep trench made by a line of bison, a herd of mostly cows and their recent offspring," Fuller says.
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Follow Us. App Download. US UK. Technology has given us instant communication and made collaboration effortless. The open-source code culture has spread to Open Data initiatives. Viral exposure of incidents or medical breakthroughs make good news that garners high ratings in both social and traditional media. When government decides to collaborate with citizen groups and create Open Data initiatives, good things begin to happen. We begin to heal.
See this example in New Orleans. The present administration has implemented the PIF program. I hope it leads to other open initiatives where inclusive citizen groups become a factor for positive change. Share what you can. Come and play with the rest of us. At the beginning of the year I published my blog on what was trending in If you were following me then, you might recall that these were my predictions on music, social media, smartphones and cyber-security. I was thinking about how you never see people face up to their predictions, and I always wondered how they measure up.
Yet it seems that no one cares about auditing past predictions because we live in the present and look to the future. More interesting, and certainly more important is the need to monitor predictions, especially when they might influence the trajectory of our lives. Let me make a distinction: We understand predictions and trends, but what exactly is a trajectory, and how are they different?
When we think about the trajectory of a life , the geometric meaning is more applicable. Somewhere in this interview with comedian and podcaster, Marc Maron, she mentions the expected trajectory of her life. Expected trajectory. Listen to the whole interview by clicking on the photo below. The difference, I think, lies in understanding that trajectory is not a goal, not a target destination. It is a momentum based on the parameters we are given. Our given system provides a stricture to constantly follow. Rigid acceptance of trajectory has generated a thesaurus of folklore, brainwashing us into believing that doing what is expected, is the right thing to do.
Indeed, society relies on this. But is it the right thing correct? What if the momentum is based on parameters we choose? What if the arrow we launch must alter its trajectory because the target is moving? Inflection Point is well-known in geometry, and in business. The trajectory of a life comes to an inflection point more commonly for negative reasons than positive. People make decisions because they have to. Or want to. Less so because, for their own good, they should.
However I think the tendency is to not disrupt. There should be a word for proactively making a constructive disruption. Your usage of either word will be subjective, but choose you must. Why is this? The Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert tells us that we have a tendency to believe in an optimistic future.
River and Environmental Quotations
So why disrupt that? How much unrealistic expectation can we tolerate? See his Ted Talk here. Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self. It transforms our preferences. It reshapes our values. It alters our personalities. We seem to appreciate this fact, but only in retrospect. Only when we look backwards do we realize how much change happens in a decade. The one constant in our life is change. How has your trajectory changed in the last ten years? And if it did, was the outcome better? Proactively taking action to change your trajectory half way through is exerting your freedom to choose.
It turns out that I was wrong in some cases and, although these are superficial factors, they have changed the trajectory of my life in the sense that the efficacy of my book is based on these trends. Which accounts for my constant revisions, and if those make for a more compelling read, then, yes, the trajectory of my life has changed. NOW: Wrong. Just the opposite. Services get meaner; to the listener and to the artists. What industry? Listen to the Verve discussion here.
The public debate as to whether she owns her private email rages on. NOW : Surprisingly, a slight improvement, so wrong again. See the Fortune article here. See the Wired article. NOW : Okay, I got this one right. See the FireFly report here. BTW, this is exactly the tactic Allison uses to hide from the cybercrime syndicate—or so she thinks. Multiple factor authentication will become normal. Law enforcement will resist encryption.
e-book The Pebble and the Canyon Reflections on Composing Your Life
NOW : In addition to the fingerprint identity sensor on the iPhone 6 released after my predictions , Samsung now has:. THEN: Authenticity: …will bring value to crowdsourced solutions. Authentic ideas will attract followers. When Ellen asks him why he thinks he is so successful, he replies, saying, he thinks people just want to see authentic lives, the good and the bad, and just see him being himself.
That easy. Oh, and BTW, no meanness. I agree. Warning: this is crude. And very funny. With the spring, the usual noise of useless information, that comes to us through new technology, turns to more informative and socially conscious matters, and to the stirrings of malcontent. Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere show us unfolding events that we could not have known was happening prior to the information age we live in. Sure, we have seen these stirrings before. In my case the scenes of the student riots in Soweto in , and the photograph of the Napalm Girl in Vietnam, stand out.
Soweto student protest, , Napalm Girl, Vietnam, , Baltimore tweet, The power to communicate in those images was diminished by their lack of immediacy. The iconic images of our lifetimes have, until recently, been viewed after the fact. And so, because of the delay, we could stand back and declare that what is past is past, and we can postpone our responsibility.
As we know, the Arab Spring changed all that. It came to us in real-time, and in April, the Egyptian government declared the repeal of an emergency law that had been in place since , allowing the government authority to suspend constitutional rights. That month the Syrian government launched the first of what became a series of crackdowns. We have watched the decent into mayhem ever since, and as we watched, the voices of decent have risen up. When almost everyone has a camera in a phone, and has the ability to post their photographs instantly on social media, without concern for publication deadlines, quality or censorship, we are exposed to a wide variety of images that are happening in close-to real-time.
As Americans protest police violence against black and other communities, the story trends up and goes viral almost as it is happening. The television networks chase the story. Seldom do they analyze the root cause, but they air, over and over and over the same sensational clips. Later, they hire paid pundits to weigh in. Meantime, the on-line analysis is crowd-sourced, frequently skewed, and inaccurate. All opinion is welcome, yet the silent majority remains silent, and their silence is taken as conservative and frightened. The protester even asks that the cameras covering his outrage be turned off.
But Rivera refuses to engage him. No conversation. The point of view see video below is one that no network would ever cover, yet the video has been viewed over a million times. Regardless, the discerning reader must find perspective and compare what is happening as Ferguson, Baltimore, and other cities explode. Our watchfulness blocks, what before, was censored, obfuscated and doctored for public consumption.
Instead, a barrage of video and photographic material boils to the surface from a wide cross-section of a population who cared enough for good or questionable reasons to be there to record the event. It is not reporting, but it is a report , and it is plentiful. Even police departments are beginning to adopt uniform cameras, and in some cases have incriminated themselves.
I am grateful I live in an age where technology leads to transparency. Managing space is something we all do. We exist in three dimensions, and, as sentient creatures we want to handle physical space in a way that suits us. While birds fly and build nests, we decorate homes, drive in traffic, and move in buildings where space has been well or poorly considered. Your consideration of space is different than mine.
This is especially true for composers, with their precious rests, sculptors, architects, painters and designers who know that decisions about space determine the effectiveness of the work. For them placement in space is a calibrated and precise decision. When it comes to mental space we act like these artists; earnestly placing ideas in mind-space where better decisions can be made. In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom. I write about personal freedom and privacy in Letters 8 , 9 and Which brings me to Mark Ronson. Notice that the YouTube video below has million views plus , to date. Ronson has put out four albums under his own name, and they all feature other artists singing the songs he co-wrote and produced. So, what does this have to do with intuition and mental space? It is a stunning example of the role intuition can play, and I would go so far as to say that it makes the argument that over-thinking can kill creativity.
See this Psychology Today article. I remember it so well. At the time Mark was building his career, and was relatively unknown. To me, it seems that he acted authentically in that moment. So did the success of that act encourage him to remain authentic? In the moment. Sadly, that act of intuition on his part later became achingly ironic when Winehouse took her life.
And why am I thinking in two dimensions, when stimulus, response and intuition offer me a much wider three-dimensional palate? When I am writing, I occasionally give intuition a voice to shout out, so the reader can hear it echo elsewhere in the book. Then, like the composer, I give it a rest. Samsung also released its new watch. No one is sure that these devices are going to take hold with the masses, but no one doubts that, increasingly, devices will be worn, not carried—at some point they will be called clothes, not devices.
It must not be like fracking: good idea, terrible execution. Notwithstanding our concerns about privacy and security, I wonder about the self-centric nature of this trend. Is it really all about me? My health, my data, my friends, my likes? Me watching me? Because the other side of the watch paradigm is about people watching out for each other. For the crowd. The value that data visualization and mapping brings to the everyday lives of their owners, and more importantly, to the needs of the communities in which they live, is remarkable. The app allows users to rate the urgency of problems and the appropriate action to be taken.
It is hoped in the future that drones will be able to map the slum fully. This would enable residents to obtain full title deeds, gain access to bank credit and put up permanent buildings. Phone access to trash locations to be cleaned up by volunteers. Er, excuse me, I have to go—my elbow is buzzing.
I continue to explore the facets of privacy. It is a meme on the Internet today, and it is mutating from the embryo of the word private. The word is stealing DNA from the words, personal, confidential, secrets and identity. They are all closely related, though the distinction is important. In those private times when we think, reason and create, we are free.
We are free to decide when to subject ourselves to the scrutiny of the world at large. A reader of my blog, Bill, sent me a response to my post last week. There was no privacy when humans lived in communal groups. You fought with your wife—the whole village knew about it. Children acted badly—the whole village dealt with it. How did the concept of privacy come about anyway? Why do we insist on privacy? Why are laws written to protect privacy?
Should any information be private at all?
Can the concept of privacy coexist in an Information Age? We need to think about privacy in a new way! Or, as the electronic information brings us closer in so many ways, are we returning to our ancient communal societal ethos—we share information with our electronic brethren and they with us. Well, Bill—I beg to differ. And let me start with your last statement. He would ask this person to email all his passwords to him. Margge, another responder, points out privacy is a personal choice. Neither position is satisfactory and both have ramifications.
We could protest—privately, but publicly is inadvisable; the unsettling thing about protesting on the Internet is that it serves to attract more attention. Nothing is more true of this than with the privacy issue. It is so common as to have its own label: The Streisand Effect. This term was coined after Barbara Streisand unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia. Of course all the talk of privacy becomes moot if our privacy is watched without our permission.
And while this certainly is a problem, the fact remains that most private information is accessible from the Internet. And most of it is not watched or exploited. Like the economy, privacy relies on trust. My new MacBook Pro laptop was delivered yesterday, on time. I thought about how much trust it took to get it from Shanghai, China to my doorstep. Email Address. Hi: To keep track of my readers so I understand how to better serve you, please accept that your activities only regarding my books will be tracked. Geoffrey Wells. Accept X.
Geoffrey Wells Fiction in the heart of forgotten places. A 5 star review for Atone! Like this: Like Loading Emma S. Stay current: Keep your programs up to date. This includes applications and your operating system.