Story

Remembering Fred Beckey

The above trailer is for a documentary: Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey.

Fred Beckey died on Monday, he was 94. Beckey was one of the greatest mountaineers of all time and he was also quite a character.

Robert McFadden at The New York Times does a great job of summarizing Beckey’s amazing life in climbing: Fred Beckey, Conqueror and Chronicler of North American Peaks, Dies at 94.

In the late 1970’s I went to a presentation/slide show that Beckey gave at REI in Seattle. It was amazing, less for the number of first ascents he’d done at that point (and since then he’s done a lot more), more for his lifestyle which was the epitome of the climbing bum, known among climbers as a “dirtbag” lifestyle.

At that point Yvon Chouinard and Royal Robbins, two other pioneers from Fred’s era had already moved away from climbing into business startups (Patagonia and Royal Robbins clothing). But, Fred was all about climbing. He wasn’t a people person either, he was rather gruff during the Q&A after the slide show I went to.

These days climbing is a totally different sport than the sport Fred Beckey took part in: he didn’t compete, he had no sponsors, and he didn’t really care if he was well known beyond the world of serious climbers. He definitely was well known in the world of serious climbers who know the history of their sport and he will be sorely missed.

Here’s Fred Beckey’s Wikipedia entry.

Update: I heard from my friend Chris Jones who shared a Beckey story:

I once got one of Beckey’s famous I-need-a-climbing-partner calls, while he was on his way from Seattle to Smith Rock. This was one of his things – he’d head off somewhere with a climb in mind and go through his call list on the way, and by the time he was there he’d have at least one (sometimes several, just in case) partners lined up. I somehow ended up on his call list for Smith Rock, and he wanted to climb Monkey Face by the Pioneer Route (he would have been 82, though at the time I thought he was closer to 70).

I met him at Smith, but it started to snow. As it started to snow, he asked “What do ya think about the weather?” This was exactly one of the lines he was famous for, heard by many climbing partners through the years. I had read about his penchant for this particular line, and recognized it as he said it. But oblivious that I might have this recognition, he was just asking (for real), what I thought about the weather. We decided the weather was too poor (I pretended this wasn’t completely obvious), so we didn’t do the climb. Right about then a second potential climbing partner showed up, so he had arranged a backup in case I didn’t work out (or maybe I was the backup and I just got there first).

So, I didn’t actually get to climb with Fred, nor did Fred get to climb Monkey Face that day, but I did get to hear him say “What do ya think about the weather?”. And that was better than doing the climb.

I have a message for you

I Have a Message for You

I tried to embed the video, didn’t work so the link.

This is an incredible story. In 1944 Klara Prowisor was on a prison train from Belgium to the Auschwitz concentration camp with her husband and father, who was sick. She and her husband decided to jump the train but they couldn’t take her sick father. She survived and felt terrible about this her entire life until…

[via Kottke.org]

Ivan Orkin

My friend Edward told me about an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix about Ivan Orkin, a ramen cook with a fascinating life story. The food aspect of the documentary is great but his story is even better. Nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn becomes most famous ramen chef in Tokyo, Japan by putting a little schmaltz (Yiddish: chicken fat) in his traditional Japanese cookery. Brilliant.

If you stream Netflix give it a go:

Chef’s Table, Season 3, Episode 4: Ivan Orkin

Anne and I plan to eat in one of Ivan’s two restaurants the next time we’re in New York.

Ivan Ramen

He’s also got a book out that includes his story and the complete recipe for his shio ramen dish, including his ramen noodles with rye flour.

Ivan Ramen on iBooks

Ivan Ramen on Amazon

Of course, pictures of Ivan and his food are all over Flickr.

Loose Tacoma shift knob, what to do?

I just had my truck washed at a “typical” car wash: drop it off at one end, they vacuum it, it runs through the car wash on a conveyor and they finish drying it at the end. People drive it at each end although just for a moment.

I’ve been using this car wash for years and it’s under new ownership and they’re doing a great job. The owner is right in there doing all the various jobs so everyone’s paying close attention.

I drove away and noticed that the shift knob was loose. Odd, this is a 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup and it’s never been loose before. Oh dear. Wondered if the guy who vacuumed it and got it started on the conveyor struggled with it. It’s an automatic, nothing to really struggle with.

What to do?

Bring it back and complain? Maybe but not sure what that would accomplish.

Make an appointment with Toyota to have it fixed? Can’t imagine the fix would be too tough.

Or, search the internet to see if others have had this issue and what they’ve done.

I typed the following into Safari (defaulting to Google search):

“2016 Toyota Tacoma loose shift knob”

The first hit was this one:

Tacoma World: Automatic Shift Knob loose!

I read through it, found this:

“If you push down on the plastic ring at the top of the leather skirt it’ll pop off, then see if you can screw the knob on tighter and snap the skirt back on.”

I went back outside to the truck, did exactly as the commenter said, and fixed it.

I’m not boasting or attempting to pat myself on the back for having fixed this minor issue, I’m pointing out that the web coupled with an intelligent search query can provide amazing support very quickly.

Underlying this is Google and the fact that it does an amazing job of indexing all the various pieces of text information on the web. In fact, this post will no doubt be part of future search results for loose Tacoma shift knobs.

MacPaint print

MacPaint print

I had one of the first 128K Macintosh computers in Eugene, Oregon and while I did a lot of writing with MacWrite, I also did a lot of “drawing” with MacPaint.

MacPaint was written by Bill Atkinson (one of the core members of the original Macintosh team at Apple) who added lots of fun touches to all of his early software. MacPaint had various distortions and to be honest, I can’t remember which one was responsible for this image (maybe “invert” and/or “trace edges”). I didn’t draw this; instead I drew some random shapes and chose what would now be called a “filter” and this was the result. It delighted me to no end and I made hundreds of these which I printed on my ImageWriter dot matrix printer.

I’m posting this now because I’m cleaning our basement and found boxes and boxes of old Macintosh related keepsakes, including some of my old writing and drawing done on my first Mac (not my first computer but close).

I had to run upstairs and pop an antihistamine; between dust and mold it was like an archeological dig.

Discussing the birth of the iPhone

John Markoff interviews former iPhone engineering team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra and Scott Herz, followed by a second interview with Scott Forstall.

This is a two hour interview, Forstall starts about 1:07 but both hours are well worth listening to. Understand that the technology that these people built changed the world and Forstall had an inkling of the importance of what they were doing but really, none of them had any idea that the iPhone would turn out to be the success it has been.

This isn’t just for Apple fan-people or iPhone geeks, this will be interesting for anyone who wants a behind the scenes look at how these people’s careers took shape and how they ended up on the original iPhone team. The personal anecdotes are fascinating.

I was involved with Apple in the early years of the Macintosh and this felt very much like early interviews with Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld, and others on the first Macintosh team. Historic.

This event took place at The Computer Museum and regrettably, the sound and video aren’t great, but it is extremely worthwhile.

Note: Scott Forstall left Apple (was let go) in 2012. Wouldn’t it be ironic (and interesting) if Forstall, like Jobs, came back to Apple later as CEO (or in some other capacity) after going through a personal transformation outside of Apple. Sometimes distance makes for a clearer head.

Sara Berman’s Closet

Sara Berman’s Closet from NewYorker on Vimeo.

This is a brilliant short film about the life of Sara Berman and how her closet ended up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The film is by Bianca Giaever and Elori Kramer for The New Yorker, narrated by Maira Kalman (Sara Berman’s daughter) and written by Alex Kalman and Maira Kalman.

[via The Kid Should See This]