The Benefits of Optimism Are Real

General

Having a positive outlook is the most important predictor of resilience. This is something I always notice, either consciously or sub-consciously about people that I meet. Being optimistic is a choice that is often entirely within our control. And it demonstrates the work one has done to confront one’s own self, and the ability to act on a longer term, holistic view of things.

“Pi says, “You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better.”

“Pi’s resilience is incredible once you realize what happens on board the lifeboat and how Pi copes with the tragedy that he witnesses and endures. There’s more to the story than the boy and the tiger. Though what really happened is terrible, Pi chooses to tell a different story. His story parallels what really happened, but is beautiful not bleak, transcendent not nihilistic.”

“Which story do you prefer?” he asks at the end.”

— Read more on www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/03/the-benefits-of-optimism-are-real/273306/

Moral dilemma when trying to help street children in Mumbai

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In Mumbai, you experience a lot of poverty everywhere. It’s a very hard place where we have to confront our darkest and most difficult truths.

Jeremy Horner/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Most traffic lights have panhandlers who walk around asking for money. The ones who stand out are the women with babies in their arms. You feel terrible for the children and you give money to those mothers, hoping it would give the child an opportunity at a better life.

Talking with friends and acquaintances who do humanitarian work in this space, I learned that this is just a business. Panhandlers have a “license” to “work” a neighborhood. And a percentage of their revenue goes to the local underworld. Babies get rented out, drugged, and used to increase the earnings by the panhandlers. Often times the babies are abducted. Many times they are hurt and intentionally disfigured and maimed as that means even more collections at the traffic lights.

This made me realize that my actions coming from a moral dilemma of trying to help a child can sometimes be putting more children in danger and not doing much to solve the real problem behind the issue.

Camping at the base of Brokeoff Mountain

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This was our campsite in Lassen Volcanic National Park. The “black” triangle in the top center is Brokeoff Mountain (also known as Mt Tehama). This was at 4am. We had just woken up to an “alpine start”, to try and summit the peak while the snow was still hard, before the sun came out and turned it into something too slushy to ascent in. The moon had just set in the West behind that ridge – and its afterglow still leaked into the sky, leaving only the brightest stars visible.

Wayfinding in the backcountry when the GPS fails

General

When out in the backcountry, especially in the winter, you can’t really count on having any marked trails. We spent a good amount of time studying maps of the area, identifying the trailhead, waypoints and landmark features before we even left home. We also researched recent trip reports from others and talked to the rangers on the phone to better understand what to anticipate on the ground. Then we plotted our planned route with waypoints on the map using the Garmin software on my laptop. We loaded the map and route onto the GPS. And then also printed the map on paper and laminated it so it wouldn’t get damaged in the snow.

On the trail, it took us way longer than our most liberal estimate as we got lost quite a few times and had to backtrack and re-evaluate our plan a few times. Eventually, the GPS battery died. We had 4 more sets of backup batteries between the two of us so that wasn’t an actual problem. But a GPS can stop working for various other reasons.

So we decided to use this as an opportunity to sharpen our compass-based way-finding skills. Paper doesn’t run out of power 😋 Not so fast, however. We hadn’t checked our compasses closely. Both of them had developed bubbles after years of use. Maybe we left our packs out in too much heat without realizing it. But that meant it became very unreliable to sight using the compasses.

So we finally switched to the last fail-safe. Using landmarks (and elevation using the solar altimeter) to locate ourselves and chart our progress. That turned out to be quite easy as there were a lot of streams that served as natural guide-rails. We emerged exactly where we had parked our car within +/- 10ft error. That was a little surprising but quite awesome.

Always carry extra batteries for every electronic device you rely on. Always have an analog backup if possible. Spend some time thinking about things that are most likely to go wrong and have mitigations in place.

FaceId on iPhone X tested in mountaineering gear

General, Photo

I was blown away by something unexpected this weekend. I looked like this but the FaceId on My iPhone X recognized me each time I looked at it!

I didn’t really expect it to detect my features but it kinda makes sense as the glasses block UV and visible light but FaceId uses IR light.

I didn’t do any additional testing to check if this was more of a false positive. But it was nice not having to unglove the hand to use a fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone in the cold, chilly weather.