sono.tino

these are the words and photos that depict the world in which we live.


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Going Full Circle

So, while perusing the front page of the NY Times after a killer evening of climbing, I come across an article titled,  “Gas pedal Flaws Lead Toyota To Stop Building 8 Models”.  It might have well of had an exclamation point at the end.  Seriously.

What a fate in this economic climate!  To be struck by an internal quality control issue, especially in an industry where quality control is the Achilles heel of a reputation, is a situation that will never go away.  How many of you remember that tire issue that Ford Explorer’s had almost a decade ago?  The Firestone tires would give way to high speed rollover accidents….really tragic shit.  I don’t think they’ve ever fully recovered to that market leading high before then.  Explorer’s were the top of the market for the popular SUV.  It was the poster boy for the SUV industry.

Anyway….this article is on the front page of the NY Times.  Exclamation.

A rare condition causing the recall of 4.8 million vehicles.  In a time when you dominate the word’s number one auto market, while your competitors are recovering from a financial one-two punch that has left them tightening their belts and reorganizing themselves, their entities and their debt.  Talk about a bad struck of luck.

So what’s the first thing that pops into my mind?  At 9am I would be buying puts on Toyota like they were going out of style.  Then I would find out who their number one suppliers are and buy puts on them if they’re publicly held.  Then I would find out which insurance company was at the foundation of the health-care provider that provided health-care to all of those employees.  Scratch that last one, they’d be covered on the new unemployment insurance for a while.  But I would find out the service providers that depended on the Toyota production model and buy puts on them too.

Once you realize that there are a ton of other people with the biggest plan you start watching the premiums on these puts going through the roof.  So you start selling certain puts and then buying them again when the supply increases from others thinking like you are.  Before you know it, you’ve doubled your money and someone else is collecting unemployment now too.  Then you start looking for exotic derivatives that tie global aluminum into being the correlate for the yen and how it is a proxy for Toyota stock.  That’s the evil wizard behind the drape pulling levers and mixing potions type of shit.

Since most folks will never get within arms length of people who take part in that side of the financial industry we turn to a different indicator of public health besides the financial indicators that reduce the health of our existence down to an index.  That is when we turn to the life we live every day and look around at the signs.  There are a few less gas stations these days and if you’re in the market for a home it’s a great time to buy.  And people are drinking more and doing less sport…or are they.  What of these not-cheap habits that are fundamental in the who-we-are and how-we-are sequences that make up our lives?  And this is how I get back to climbing.

At the climbing gym tonight it was pretty busy.  Tuesdays and Thursdays always are, but today was pretty crazy.  Tonight I was pretty lucky.  I was climbing with two great individuals and the session was something that had a life of its own.  Before I had realized it, there was no more skin on my hands, I had reacquainted with two or three people that I hadn’t seen in years and I was still climbing.  It’s hard to complain about that, especially considering the updates people had been giving me on their lives.

There are so many professionals out of work right now.  IT folk, mortgage peeps, builders…and a lot of them.  But what I thought was even crazier is that somehow, someway, they’ve still found the psyche to go climbing and pursue something that they enjoy and identify with.  Be it from their savings or government aid, it is something that still allows you to enjoy a part of your life even when the days get dark.

Hooray for climbing.  I think we’ve made it full circle.  Isn’t that always fun.  Though if you’re looking for a car these days I’d say take a look VWs.  My Golf has brought me to a lot of incredible climbing spots.

Maybe the next thing will be on wind power or home remodeling…ciao

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Climbanomix

Anyone who climbs often dreams about extended climbing trips where crisp textured rock is contrasted by bright blue skies. A few months on the road where you live simply, explore beautiful places and climb until your fingerprints are permanently altered. With every passing week you feel like a chamber inside you opens up, surrendering yourself to the journey, the excitement that comes with every new day and the challenges that you might cross (like your first 8a). In time your forearms will battle lactic acid Huriyama-like during 45 minute on-sights, your power will be Sharma-esque and your lead head will be full-on Croft-y.

Unfortunately this is no longer the era of sell your car, drop your lease and tell your girlfriend, “It’s me baby, really. It’s not you, it’s me.”. We have to be more astute these days about how we fit the life-altering climbing adventures into the modern world. Job resumes with employment histories that show a turnover every year or so are generally frowned upon. There aren’t many occupations that allow you the flexibility of being able to take off every once in a while for three weeks to a month, let alone a few months (a tear emerges).

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If you were considering sponsorship, well let’s just say in-house development becomes the priority when layoffs and shrinking budgets are becoming the norm. If you worked in the trades, there is a good chance you no longer have a job. If you worked in investment banking there is a good chance you no longer have a job. If you worked for Starbucks, there is a good chance you no longer have a job. But this current period of economic recession just might be the telephone booth you and Clark have been looking for to change into your super-climber gear (picture that great 80s neon and lycra).

Before running off uninformed about why you can do this, let’s quickly cover what a recession is and why they are special. Classically a recession is defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. Or as the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) puts it, ‘a significant decline in economic activity lasting more than a few months’. If you’ve been reading the finance headlines you know this is not new. Yet when you look closer you realize that recessions are natural in the economic cycle. Just like forest fires are mother nature’s way of cleaning house, recessions bring a bubble economy back to it’s fundamental support levels. What does that mean? Things often look worse than they are.

Lets look at the basic forecasting tools of a recession: GDP, inverted yield curve and unemployment. Looking at current GDP stats, each quarter has still been higher than than the preceding quarter, though just by a lesser extent. In times of economic turmoil people are not out buying cars, homes and washing machines. Instead they are buying lower ticket items because, face it, the US doesn’t understand how not to go shopping. Retail soft goods and discount markets often weather the storm better than capital goods, and domestic travel becomes preferred to international travel. You’re reading this magazine aren’t you, because you can’ t think of giving it up, especially now.

Let’s not get technical about inverted yield curves and the psycho-social analysis that goes into expectations and consumer confidence. Better to leave that to the dismal science. However, it is a tool forecasters use in investing. Normally we expect returns (the yield) on any given investment to be higher in the long term than the short term. An inverted curve says people are investing in the opposite manner and expecting the short term gain to be higher than the long term, thus a negative future outcome.

In comparing this to a red-point, you get involved with a route because of the probability of you sending the route in the future. Thus the potential to gain more in the long term than in the present. If you are just climbing 5.10, you could probably send a 5.10a/b almost every session and maybe the occasional morphologic 10c/d. But if you want to start bagging easy 5.11 or even break into 5.12 you need to start investing time and energy towards that now. It may mean foregoing the satisfaction of going out and slaying all of the easy 5.10s you can find, but in a short period of time you’ll be blasting through 5.10 and projecting grades harder.

So if this is reversed, and all that invested energy in the future forecasts to give less benefit than now, logic says take the instant benefit. Cha-cha-ching. The lack of instant financial gratification on the market chart vertical should then result in instant satisfaction on the vertical horizon: it is the time to go climbing.

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The obvious knee jerk response by anyone with a sense of fiscal responsibility would be, ‘Are you crazy?’; as It is true that it will be more difficult to find work in periods of economic downturn. Unemployment is rising, the labor pool is saturating with qualified candidates, thus the competition for every open position is increasing. If you are really excited about your work or knee-deep in parenthood then maybe this isn’t the right choice for you. But for anyone who is dissatisfied with what they do and lacks any form of ball and chain, this is the perfect exit point.

Many employers are willing to negotiate severance packages that reduce their overhead while basically paying you to take a hike (or a climbing trip). In times of recession individuals often turn to further their education or obtain training in another skill so as to widen their range of possible prospects. Why not kick it off with a month in place with delicious regional cuisine and a square footage of rock per square mile that would make Bishop blush?

Climbers are evolutionary chameleons that are innovative and strategic by nature, this can only aid us in our future employment pursuits. Just like altering your style from sandstone to limestone to gritstone, we must fit our surroundings in the current economy. After your hiatus, return to the job market renewed and pursue what you have yearned to do for years. Span the financial gap by selling your story to a publisher and inspiring others to reach out towards their dreams.

If you want to pick up a new side of the sport or another sport in general, you normally require a solid block of time to be able to learn your way in. Looking to bump your bouldering up two grades, live in a tent and make it happen. Think you have the endurance to put twenty pitches of any consistent grade together in a day, harness yourself a partner and find out. Still have that cherry alpine link-up waiting for an FA, buy a plane ticket and get it before someone else does. Inspired to put up new routes, pick a place where you can live for few dollars a day and develop an area.

Two thousand and nine can be the year you talk about as the year that you fulfilled your climbing dreams. It is projected that, well, projects will get dispatched this year at an unprecedented rate. If 2008 was looked upon as a bad-ass year, with all of the crushing that US climbers did in Europe, Jumbo Love and all of the headpointing that went down, just wait for 2009. You might want to get that pre-order in for Dosage VI, because it’s going to be off the hook.

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Possible cons to the situation are navigable, aside from not getting a job for a while when you get back. The US dollar is probably shot to hell from the monetary expansion used to fund the stimulus package, so you will probably be doing DiGiorno and not delivery at your casetta down by Sperlonga. However, other more exotic (code for third world) destinations are close and have a low cost of living (aka cheap eats, treats and sheets) and bountiful concentrations of local climbing. This might be when we start heading south over the boarder and exchanging identification with the guy you share the cactus with while avoiding the coyotes. He might have family not far from El Potrero Chico. There’s always the back-up of sleeping on a friend’s couch when you get back, the stories take at least a month before they get old. And if all else fails, Barack will hook you up with a personalized stimulus package.


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You can’t get theah from heah

On the coast of Maine as a white male things start to get polarized in a fairly unhealthy way. Coming from a minority city, the city of brotherly love, I have issues with this monocultural, monochromatic type of life. Which one of these is not like the other ones? That might be me. If it weren’t for the stark beauty of the cottage I live in and the hearts of the people I am able to surround myself with I do not know how I would have survived from May 2007 to the present.

I am beseiged by hard questions I must ask myself right now, career decisions are coming to head. As a carpenter I am easily affected by market shifts in the housing sector, one of the most vulnerable sectors to health of the nation’s economy. Originally I moved to Maine to find out if Architecture was the right thing for me. Having just come off of two years of pre-medical science that left me tip top for one field I quickly switched to another. The details of that journey and decision making process might be the topic of another blog.

Now I find myself learning hands-on about building from the ground up working in the field for a Harpswellian building firm 19 years in the making.  Online steps in studying high-performance building and sustainable design have occured through the BAC, fulfilling the academic inside me.  The prevalence of the history of new england building practices before the turn of the century and how buildings can still exist, healthily, 200 years later has been a wonderful culture to come across, something unplanned. Fortunately, the secret is not so secret, as it seems the Japanese knew why thousands of years ago since you can walk through some of the Pagoda’s from that time.

Building and crafting definitely find a spot in my soul, but now I see how easily jobs come and go on the monetary tide and it makes me think about better insulated industries. Seeing how many people lost pensions working for companies they did not even like, working there solely for the benefits makes me think about what I would do to make myself happy, and how ironic the situation seemed to be. My attention moves between writing, something I have truly enjoyed my entire life, and business, something I know I have inside of me. My parents may not have been great, affectionate, professorial role models but they did teach me something. When it comes to business you protect yours, work well with others, read people, be efficient and, most importantly, take it serious. I was bred for business yet have searched for Mount Olympus.

Again, I’m a mid-Atlantic city boy who’s looking for excitement and opportunity in the bogs of rural coastal Maine and think the tide has gone out. Diggin for clams, haulin traps and building stuff is about as standard fare as you can be. A year and change of being standard Maine is more than I can handle. In the end I learned a shit tonne about building from the ground up, alternative building methods and about material dynamics. Up here there are some pretty interesting folks. Intellectuals where you expect to find idiots, rednecks when you expect to find well-exposed people, and void where you’d hope to find that salinization line between the country and the city.

But it is getting late (it’s 10:40, I’m pretty lame) and I have to be up at a quarter to six. This early morning routine is something I need to break and I hope to not work another winter outside in Maine.  Starting with a couple of tenets that are almost self-supporting I am not stressed andI look to establish my wants and goals in this next personal focusing.

TJ