Saturday, December 15, 2007

PDFs and Film Festivals

Whoever invented the PDF file format should be sent to the same sort of hell reserved for whoever took the auto-fill thingamabob off of gas pumps. In this hell, Mr. PDF and Mr. "Stand there and pump gas instead of doing something useful like checking the oil" will argue endlessly about exactly who has wasted more of modern humanity's time--while the guy who invented internet blogs looks on. Here's why:

I send a lot of films out to mountain film festivals, of which there are now hundreds. I receive three or four emails a week asking for my films, which is a really nice compliment in a way, and I usually take the time to send each one a DVD. Unfortunately, most film festival entry forms now require either a convoluted on-line system (total waste of time, usually resets on page 7 of 11) or PDF documents, which are the single greatest waste of time, paper and energy ever invented. PDFs must be good for something, but they are totally worthless as a form of two-way communication in the digital age. You can't fill them out electronically--unless you pay extra for some sort of Adobe secret de-coder ring to open 'em up and actually work with them, instead of just admire the pretty layout some frustrated art-school dropout produced.

I hate it every time I see that file extension on a document; unless it's really important, like a film festival entry form, I'll usually just ignore it. In fact, I've started ignoring even film festival PDFs and just sending back a plain email with the info they want. Seems to work, who would have thought?

Anyone who sends someone else a PDF is obviously either plain clueless or actively dislikes the recipient, perhaps both. The sender is asking the recipient to print it, fill it out by hand (anyone who has seen my writing knows that this is a further waste of time as far as any actual communication goes) and then scan it and email it or fax it back. Twenty years ago this process would have seemed kinda high tech and cool; now it's like a brick-sized cell phone or a voicemail instead of a text: a total waste of time. Lawyers also seem to love PDFs; "Here's a 27-page contract, mind finding a printer while in some no-star budget hotel and faxing that back tonight? We know we've got you by the short hairs on this one, so don't even try to use something modern like a digital signature." Send me a Word document, a text file, a simple email with questions, an "Open Office" form, a Keynote form, even an ancient Quark file and I'll fill it out. But the next person who sends me a PDF? I'm going to do what my mother used to do with those "postage guaranteed" solicitation forms: attach a brick to it and send it back "postage due."

PDFs suck, BAN THE PDF! PDF stands for, "Pretty Damn Fecking Useless," they just forgot the U.

In other news, climbing sure has been fun lately. Fully analog, all physical, no computers, no PDFs, what a great sport. I had so much fun yesterday I ripped a stomach muscle, so today I can't really sit up. Kinda cool to have a new injury. On the left side of my body I have the following problems: Elbow tendinitis, jacked knee, strained oblique, infected cut from the Whistler rock gym's hand crack, and a some sort of pustilence where a spider bit me. I'm really not making this up; my right side is totally fine, but my left side appears to be about age 75 right now. Which is why I'm surly and writing about PDFs. I hope your day was PDF-free and outside.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Haffner Mixed

Haffner is a small canyon near my home. Really small-about 40 feet high, but with at least 20 mixed routes worth doing. I've been hitting it for almost ten years; it's close, has a lot of fun routes, it's close, etc...

Yesterday was my first time in there for a long time. Last year I didn't climb much between the fall rock season and the spring ice season as my elbow was tweaked; no new mixed routes, no 50 days or more of scrabbling on the rock and dangling icicles I so love. Yesterday reminded me of exactly why I love mixed climbing. It's brutal, aggressive, mental, tenuous, annoying, satisfying and downright engaging. No other form of climbing combines so much emotional response in such a short period of time for me. I've done some more alpine climbing this fall, and love that too, but mixed climbing just distills all that I like about climbing into one rope length of giving it.

It's so hard at first; every season I'm definitely a novice for the first few climbs. I don't trust my tools, get super pumped on "easy" terrain, my feet blow and it takes everything I have to not melt down into a quivering pile of mental mush. Then it gets a bit better by the second or third pitch, and usually by the end of the first day I forget about all the mechanics at least for a few moves and simply climb. I find mixed climbing requires a much stronger mind than rock climbing, at least for me. On rock I just climb, but on mixed I've got to get through this mental barrier before I can truly move. I've got to get over the fear of the tools, rock, my feet don't work naturally. But when I finally get that mental boulder off my shoulders it just feels so good...

Then there's just being outside in winter. We had to break trail up to the Haffner Cave, which was a bit arduous for me as I tweaked my knee kite-skiing the other day (not a good idea to launch big when you don't really know what you're doing). I always like hiking through that burned but still standing stark black forest, watching the big peaks, and just being out there with friends. I can get the same experience ski touring in a way, but ski touring doesn't have the same mental "ambush" for me as mixed climbing. I know I can ski, I'm never sure I can mixed climb, and often can't until things get moving again... All climbing is mental, but mixed climbing is definitely more mental than any other form of climbing for me.

Yesterday I flailed on routes I used to do laps on with a weight belt. But by my last go I was linking big sections, and climbing with the pump instead of pumping out instantly. My hands were suddenly warm and my body relaxed instead of frozen and tight. I'm back on the curve, and can't wait for tomorrow, when we'll do it all again. Game on

As always, there's no point to this but damn is mixed climbing fun! I hope everyone is getting out...