Musical Inspiration

What inspired you today? What made you get up and do your best with what you have, not wishing for things you don’t?

Wishing isn’t doing. Doing is doing.

Hanz Zimmer

Be inspired by Hans Zimmer, one of the greatest composers of our time. In two notes, he created the sound for the Batman trilogy. Just two notes! It’s all about how they’re presented and they’re emphasized. That means everything.

Through this promo for his music master film class, I was inspired. Even though I have no musical skill, he made me feel like I could create something. I’m not going to delude myself by buying an instrument and trying to make something, though!

 

I love his quote:

“The interesting ideas come from some kid in a garage in the Bronx.”

Hans Zimmer’s promo video

Watch his Youtube trailer and be inspired.

“If you have a story, you can do whatever you want to do.”

What’s your story? What’s your skill? I’ll bet you have something lurking inside that’s just waiting to burst forth and shine. What’s stopping you from sharing it?

What do I do?

Instead of trying to compose music, I perform the music in my heart. I have a conversation with audiences, sharing my experience of risking everything to pursue a dream.

They see a guy who doesn’t look like someone who could drag a refrigerator across a continent. experience how a software engineer became the second only American to successfully ski to the South Pole against all odds. That’s what I do.

People learn my improbable story in Antarctic Tears. They see a guy who doesn’t look like someone who could drag a refrigerator across a continent standing in front of them. Audiences experience how a software engineer became the second only American to successfully ski to the South Pole against all odds. That’s what I do.

What Will You Do?

You were put on the Earth to do something, to share and use something special inside of you. Do you use it? Are you afraid of it? That’s okay, so many of us are afraid to fail. But really, what’s the worst that happens? You learn something that doesn’t work. That’s okay. Failure is a necessary path to success. Failure and failing doesn’t mean you’re a

That’s okay. Failure is a necessary path to success. Failure and failing doesn’t mean you are a failure. It only means you gained more knowledge than you have before. And the next time you’ll be better for it.

Keynote Speaker Testimonial

Thank you to Adrian Hackett for hiring me as the keynote speaker for the West Tennessee Boy Scout Council’s annual fundraising dinner. The goal of this event was to raise funds for the Boy Scout program. The objective of my talk was to integrate scouting with my message of building grit and courage while keeping … Continue reading “Keynote Speaker Testimonial”

The post Keynote Speaker Testimonial appeared first on AARON LINSDAU Motivational Speaker.

Thank you to Adrian Hackett for hiring me as the keynote speaker for the West Tennessee Boy Scout Council’s annual fundraising dinner. The goal of this event was to raise funds for the Boy Scout program. The objective of my talk was to integrate scouting with my message of building grit and courage while keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity.

Watch Adrian’s testimonial on what he thought about Aaron as the speaker for his event.

Keynote Speaker Testimonial Adrian Hackett

Working as a Keynote Speaker

I wanted to make sure I delivered the message the council needed to achieve their objectives, in this case raising funds. As a speaker, it’s important to communicate exactly what a client needs for their event. My goal is to be as easy as possible to work with and to provide the best value for a client’s investment in my program.

 

The post Keynote Speaker Testimonial appeared first on AARON LINSDAU Motivational Speaker.

Stormy animal day

Hills of Gros Ventre and Blacktail Butte south
Hills of Gros Ventre and Blacktail Butte south

It was a stormy day in the Jackson Hole area, so we decided to go out looking for animals. There were moose reported out past Kelly and that’s what I was hoping to capture. As luck would have it, those moose were as far away as possible. That’s the way animal photography works most of the time.

The first shot on the right ended up being my favorite because of the interplay between light, shadows, shapes, and branches.

As luck would have it, there were several nice images that rendered well in black and white. One even surprised me that I thought it would look good in b&w but actually looked better in color because the green standing out against the plain brown and slate gray of everything else is what caught my eye.

DSC_D8_9777DSC_D8_9752< Posing, making some interesting triangles with his face and horns.

Walking in the landscape as a small animal, this young one has to keep a sharp eye out for trouble. As bighorn sheep seem to have very acute vision, this didn’t seem to be a problem for him. >

DSC_D8_9747DSC_D8_9740< I was quite excited to actually get an “okay” shot of two bighorn sheep head butting. I heard the crack several times but every time I looked, they were just standing around like nothing had happened.

Some of these sheep will come right up to your vehicle on the refuge road. Of course you have to be very careful when you drive around and it’s best not to get out of the vehicle. They like the chemicals and salts falling off vehicles, so they’ll actually come up and lick car tires. I did my boy scout duty today and towed a guy in a Nissan Altima out of the ditch on the side of the road. He tried to be proper and pull off to the side, only to immediately sink into 2 feet of snow, swamping his car. A little tow strap action got him on his way.

DSC_D8_9738DSC_D8_9727These young bighorn sheep look rather cuddly, though I’d not like to have one around once he gets older. He might give me a huge headache.

Kelly was able to get some video of this young ram munching on the refuge road twigs. He was so loud her iPhone actually captured the crunching. That was the funniest thing of the day.

DSC_D8_9723DSC_D8_9716Even though the animals were fun to photograph, I found some arguably more interesting scenes to capture. A few of them turned out fairly well. I haven’t decided what the power line and the crepuscular rays say, so you’ll have to make your own interpretation.

The sastrugi raking off the sage sticking out of the snow reminded me of Antarctica. Of course continent 7 doesn’t have any plants, but the windswept shapes of snow reminded me of Antarctic Tears.

DSC_D8_9711-Edit-2

At first I thought this shot would look great in black and white but it was the green against the brown gray of everything that actually caught my eye. Once I toned the image, it had not excitement. So the color version actually ended up working better. Finding shots where there’s a single item that’s out of place with the rest always makes for an interesting shot.

DSC_D8_9703DSC_D8_9684The moose was way out there, sitting, down, and facing away. He was no doubt tired from the photography and video he enjoyed having done on him the past couple days. I was hoping for something more exciting. But I’d be resting, too, if I had to run around all day in winter munching on twigs. The wind cooperated and make a blasting bison shot. I was hoping for some worse wind but this worked okay.

DSC_D8_9671DSC_D8_9669Hunters were along the refuge road looking for their prize elk all day. There have been some big disputes about the hunting here but I’ll leave that to other forums to discuss.

The hunters had to slog through knee deep snow to go after the animals they were looking for, so they had to work for their food.

DSC_D8_9663

Flat creek is the perfect place to catch swans, cygnets (baby swans) and mallards One doesn’t even have to drive barely past town to capture these magnificent animals.

Bad weather days are actually very nice to photograph in because there are far fewer people, the light is more interesting, and the drama can be much higher. A plain bison standing in sage in the middle of the summer – boring. A bison laboring to find something to eat while being blasted by 20 knot wind-driven snow – interesting.

Click on any of these photos to see a larger version.

Note – As always, all of these images are copyright and are not in the public domain. Please contact me if you’d like to use them. For most uses, I’ll happily oblige.

Happy shooting as we head into Thanksgiving!

Post-processing symposium

DSC03347smThis weekend the Teton Photography Group is hosting their 3rd symposium, Post Processing for Digital Photography in the Black Box theater at the Art Center in Jackson Hole.

If you have taken many photographs but aren’t sure how to process them to get them to the next level, this is the event to attend.

Many photographers take shots and then just email/print/post them as is and they receive a tepid response. Why is this? Because they aren’t sure what their final image was going to look like when they took the shot. Visualization of what the final product is going to look like is of the utmost importance when photographing. Otherwise you end up with shots looking like they were taken in a parking lot.

You will be motivated and excited by the speakers, as all of us have experience in how to make images better. But it’s not about our ability to make images better, it’s about us teaching you how to make YOUR shots better. All of the speakers are entertaining, educational and, most importantly, accessible. We do our best to answer questions and to help guide you through the labyrinth of photo editing.

9 panel, 3-d panorama stitch
9 panel, 3-d panorama stitch

This symposium will cover some shooting and composition with respect to post processing, that is, what you do after you click the shutter. How do you use Lightroom, what’s the best way to edit your shots, and more advanced techniques for:

  • Panorama multi-image shooting
  • HDR (high dynamic range) images
  • Focus stacking
  • Black and white processing

These symposiums have been very well received because attendees get a lot of education for their time and the nominal cost. If you have ever wanted to learn the basics of how to make your photographs look better, this is the event to attend.

Click here for the symposium link and become a better photographer today.

Jackson Hole Daily news article about the symposium
Jackson Hole Daily news article about the symposium

 

Pearls luster photographs

Pearls have been one of the most difficult things to photograph I’ve run into yet.

Milky pearls
Milky pearls

Bison being aggressive toward me were nothing compared to these tiny little round spheres.

My first photos were too milky and bead like, as you can see in the photograph at the right.

Although I created the nearly perfect light tent with no particularly hard edges, this ended up being a total failure for pearls.  Many objects are very nice with uniform smooth lighting but not these.

According to what I saw on PearlParadise.com, I was making these nice pearls look like they were of low quality.  That is because the edge of the reflection is not sharp.  “You should be able to see your reflection in the pearls.”  For many things, I work hard to put a nice, smooth gradient on.  Pearls are just the opposite.  The harder the edge of the reflection, making the pearl look more mirror-like, the better.

Fail on the first attempt.  Oops.

So, after studying pearl images from Mikimoto, I figured out their image magic of

Same pearls with luster
Same pearls with luster

how they make the pearl look round and lustrous.  It’s a combination of their pearl quality and using one of the types of classic portrait photography.  In many of their images, they use what is termed butterfly lighting.  Not all of their pearl images are like that but most are are a variation of it.

Of course, making this style of image requires a softbox and reflector.  As my awesome parents are shipping me my softbox, I’m going to have to figure out how to get by with what I have for now.  Using very non-photography items like paper, cardboard, posterboard, and the like, I’ll be able to create a make-shift softbox.  As you can see with the second image, the same strand of pearls as above looks much more lustrous.

Like all photography (and really, everything else), you have to keep working it and studying what was done.  Then you can match and maybe even go beyond what anyone else has done.  This takes lots of effort and keeps you up late at night.  But if you keep at it, chances are you will succeed.

Just don’t give up.

Death hike into Grand Teton National Park

For the first night in nearly a week, the sky was clear in Grand Teton National Park.

Questionable weather
Questionable weather

With the storms and snow blowing through in late September, hiking up and around the Teton Crest Trail had looked pretty dubious from continuous poor weather.  But there was a break.  It was supposed to be clear for two days and then a storm was to move through the area.  I had a very short window to make this happen.

I had wanted to hike the Teton Crest Trail straight through from the Granite Canyon trailhead to Jenny Lake via Paintbrush canyon for some time, as I am training to climb two 18,000′ volcanoes in Mexico.  It required me to do a death hike, that is, a hike that is done straight through without camping or sleeping.  I’ve done two in my life.

Grand Canyon
Notice the tiny trail on the right side cliff face. That goes up the north rim.

The first was hiking the Grand Canyon rim-rim-rim in 2006 from the south rim to the north rim (8,000′) and back to the south rim (6,000′) in 24 hours.  This is a classic must-do for distance runners.  Using the Bright Angel trail both down and up, I completed the 49 mile round trip in exactly 24 hours, starting at midnight and finishing at midnight.  I had to stop and tape up my ankle on the way back down from the north rim, as I had twisted my ankle on a rock.  That was by far the longest distance I had ever hiked in 24 hours.

My second death hike was off Highway 395 in California, just south of Independence and Lone Pine in 2010.  After chaining my bike up at the Onion Valley campground, I drove back around to Symmes Creek.  Starting at 7am, I hiked from the Symmes Creek trailhead, over Shepherd Pass (12,050′) , to Tyndall Creek

Forester Pass at midnight
Forester Pass at midnight

(10,870′), to Forester Pass (13,160′), past Kearsarge Lakes, over Kearsarge Pass (11,823′) and arrived in Onion Valley at 9am, a full 26 hours straight hiking.  I then picked up my bike, rode it down the massive hill and back to Symmes Creek.  Even though this trip was only 26 miles, it had far more vertical relief and higher altitude than Grand Canyon.

Now, I wanted to do the Teton Crest Trail as a straight through hike in 2013 (I had backpacked it in 2007). Realizing my time was very short, I went over to Smith’s in Jackson Hole and bought a small mountain of food to fuel me.  I had lots of calories in a relatively compact form.  I did not take any butter with me this time, though.  Lara Bars, Pringles, Smokehouse Blue Diamond almonds, Chex Mix, and a few more food bars made up the $33 of 3,200 calories I took with me.  All I had to do was fill up my Platypus water bladder, a generic 0.5L bottle and I was ready to go.  That was, except for sleep.

This week is the series of talks at Photography at the Summit.  I did not want to miss the

Teton Village streaking clouds
Teton Village streaking clouds

speakers that evening, meaning I wouldn’t get home until at least 10pm.  Heck, I had traversed the Grand Canyon on 4 hours of poor sleep.  I figured I might do it again.  And, I wanted to do it in the same style as I had done the Crest Trail before, leaving from the trailhead rather than cheating and starting off on the Jackson Hole Resort Tram.  As I was leaving early, the tram was not an option anyway.

Granite Canyon morning
Granite Canyon morning

Leaving Jackson, my girlfriend Kelly dropped me off at the Granite Canyon trailhead at 6:15am and I was off like a shot.  I had a lot of miles to cover and the sun had just begun to barely brighten the sky.  Wandering through the brush with a headlamp and a bottle of bear spray was fun but disconcerting.  Even though I had the bear spray in my hand, ready to fire off at a moment’s notice, the early morning sounds of the forest spooked me.  There have been a few grizzly attacks lately and my biggest fear was running into one in my haste.  So, every minute or two, I yelled out, “No Bears!”  The best part was the bold warning sign about being bear country right at the trailhead warning not to hike alone.  Yet, here I was.  I couldn’t scare anyone else up for a death hike, so this was a solo activity.

The hike up Granite Canyon is pleasant compared to Death and Paintbrush canyons.  The

Thin clouds coming in
Thin clouds coming in

grade is evenly spaced, so as to not feel like going up a massive set of stairs.  I spent the first 45 minutes in the dark, listening to the elk bugle.  It’s an ethereal sound normally, but by yourself going into the dark woods, it’s downright spooky.  It did not take too long to make it into the canyon and begin ascending the long grade.  The weather was pleasant for the first few hours.  But soon, a thin layer of clouds came in from Idaho.

On the way up, I ran into an entire herd of moose with one bull.  They were quite close to

Bull moose stealthing around
Bull moose stealthing around

the trail and I did not even realize I was in their midst until one of them spooked.  The sudden motion spooked me, too.  With bears on my mind, I was vigilant.  But moose are not to be trifled with, either.  Telling the large beasts, “Nice moose, I just have to slowly pass by you, moose,” I tried to charm them and let them know I was no danger to them or the two calves wandering around.  It was good none of them flicked their ears or stomped, as there were not too many trees to hide behind.

As I reached Marion Lake at 1030am, thicker clouds had begun to move in, cooling the

There are bears out there
There are bears out there

temperature down considerably.  It felt like when I was in Antarctica.  The moment the sun’s warmth is taken away, the perceived temperature drops rapidly.  I was doing pretty well on 4 hours sleep thus far.  I found dog tracks (coyote, wolf?) of some sort following deer and also a single bear track.  That was rather disconcerting.  Though the paw mark looked more like a black rather than grizzly bear.

I forged on toward Fox Creek Pass.  Hiking up Snow King with a 35 pound pack 3-4 times a week was really paying off, as I was able to push and hoof it without having my legs burn out.  Very soon, I started to get into a little bit of snow.  With only trail gaiters on, I knew that if it got too deep, there was no way I was going to make it very far.  But I had hopes.  Then, one of the trail drops had a cornice of snow and I went in up to my bare knees.  That was not very pleasant.  And, by this time, even thicker clouds had rolled in, the type that portend snow.

Fox Creek Pass
Fox Creek Pass

At Fox Creek Pass, I had to make a decision.  With satellite phone in hand, I was able to connect with Kelly and get an up-to-the-minute forecast.  Not good.  There was an increasing chance of rain in the valley with highs in the 40’s.  That meant there was going to be freezing rain or snow up at this elevation.  Even though I had all the right gear with me, I was still pretty cold due to the lack of sleep.  I wasn’t sure of the intensity of the storm coming in and didn’t want to get buried.

Even though I had been over Paintbrush Divide in a storm, I was not sure how deep the

4 backpackers on Paintbrush Divide in a storm, 2007
4 backpackers on Paintbrush Divide in a storm, 2007

snow was going to be on Hurricane Pass.  If Hurricane was impassable, I would have to backtrack 4 miles to reach this junction again.  Looking north, I saw snow and knew that it was pretty risky.  The trail going up Hurricane was tight, so with snow on it, there was real danger, as I had never been on it with ice before.

The lateness of the season conspired against me.  It had snowed a week before and had melted off pretty well.  But the farther north I looked, the worse things looked.  I just didn’t want to get trapped with no way out.  As I was lightly geared without a shelter, I would be in trouble if I got stuck.  So, I decided it was time to cut this one short and head down Death Canyon.  As I had wanted to take this route at one time or another, it was a bonus.  Plus, I had recently read a geology report of the area and learned of several caves on Death Shelf, so had the chance to scout those out.

For the sinister name, Death Canyon is beautiful
For the sinister name, Death Canyon is beautiful

After slipping on one steep, snowy slope, I felt better about my decision.  Getting smashed up prior to a big trip was no way to go.   I knew I had been over the north side of Paintbrush in snow with a backpack, but the forecast freezing rain was another matter.  I had no backpack to keep me warm, even if it slowed me down.  I’d rather have it snowing and 20 degrees than raining and 40 degrees.  It’s much easier to deal with blowing snow than rain.

On the way down Death Canyon, I ran into a small group of deer.  And I saw one pika, though I heard several higher up.

Late season flowers
Late season flowers

They’re just so fast I only hear and rarely see them.  By the time I exited Death Canyon neared Phelps Lake, the rain had started coming down, making me quite cold.  I decided to head toward the park’s south entrance to be picked up around 730pm, as Kelly was unable to come much earlier anyway.  Moving fast kept me warm, though barely.  It was ironic that carrying a pack made me slower but kept me warmer.  For a death hike, I need to move fast but can’t generate as much body heat.

The rain went from a drizzle to a steady gentle stream.  With the wind, it was getting a bit

We see you...
We see you…

unpleasant.  When I stopped to prepare for night travel by pulling out my headlamp, I was able to get a cel phone message to Kelly.  She would be able to meet me at just the right time when I would be coming out of the park.  Since my shorts were fairly wet by this point (yes, shorts….it seems crazy but it’s not that bad), I had to put away my camera to prevent damage.  I mentioned in the last video recording that once I put the camera away, something interesting would happen.

Sure enough, I ran into a bugling bull elk with six cow elk.  Classic.  It was so dark I would

Phelps Lake color
Phelps Lake color

have had a grainy, cruddy picture, so I just enjoyed the sight.  I wondered how they dealt with sleeping in freezing rain.

Reaching the Granite Canyon trailhead again, I began walking toward the south entrance in hopes that Kelly would find me.  Sure enough, her FJ’s headlights shone through the rain and I was out.  The thermometer showed 38 degrees F.

It was only a trip of 26 miles over 13 hours.  It wasn’t nearly the 35+ miles I had hoped to do.  But with sketchy conditions and a very long walk back

The pika's view
The pika’s view

through the park, I thought it was the prudent thing to do.  I’ll just have to wait for a better weather window next time.  Much to my surprise, I only ate two Lara bars, a Ziplock full of Chex Mix and half a Ziplock full of Pringles.  When I’m going downhill, I hardly stop to eat.  Knowing this, I’ll carry far less food next time.  As a bonus, the next morning I saw I had shed a full pound just from this hike alone.  This is a way better way to lose weight instead of dieting.

Death hikes rule.

Alaska wisdom

A few words of wisdom from Alaska guide Willi Prittie with 38 years of experience on

Willi Prittie
Willi Prittie, Talkeetna, Alaska

National Geographic Channel’s Ultimate Alaska Survival:

Some of the best things in life – you can’t plan for, because you have no idea they’re going to be there.  They just happen.  And to be open to those kinds of experiences in your life really is a great deal why so many of us enjoy the back country and the wilderness.  Because so much happens – that’s life, that’s real, that you can’t plan for. – Willi Prittie

Willi is 57 years old and he really looks like he’s spent serious time in the Alaskan back country.  He said what so many, including myself, have had trouble elucidating why people go out and experience the wilderness.

There is the old saying, “For those who understand, no explanation is necessary.  For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.”  At first, this saying entertained me.  But, thinking about it more, it is off-putting to someone asking an honest question.  And, as seen above, Willi did a good job of sharing just why.

Part of my book, Antarctic Tears, will explore this topic further.  Explaining why I found it enjoyable to spend great time, effort and money on my Antarctic expedition is a challenge but I hope to be up to it and share that with others.

I’d like to post a clip of Willi saying this on Youtube, but copyright infringement is generally frowned upon.  If I can find it legitimately on the National Geographic website, I’ll link to it.  The above screen capture is from using a video camera to film the image on my television.

One freakin’ step

When you were ten years old, you thought 30 years old was a gazillion years away, that the age was ancient and that there was no way you were going to get there. And then, one day, you woke up and realized it was your 30th birthday. How had you gotten here? Certainly not beamed through time in a parallel timeline like Star Trek. No, you simply lived out every day. Some days were the best and others were certainly the worst. Yet there you were, getting out of bed every day because you had to.

Maybe, just maybe, you completely stayed in bed by choice in the ensuing years between 10 and thirty. Sure, some times you were sick and you were forced to stay in bed. And you really wanted to feel better so you could get out of bed and do whatever it is you needed to do. There’s a peculiar point in this. When you are forced to do something you don’t want to do, it sure tastes and smells bad. Like meat that’s long since forgotten in the freezer and why the heck isn’t the Arm n Hammer doing it’s job? That white junk is supposed to suck up all this malodorous stank, yet it eventually gets overwhelmed. The little yellow box just can’t take it any more because something has finally run it down by doing its thing one tiny slice at a time.

Take that bad smell. How did it get smelly? Did it smell instantly when you brought it home from the grocery store? No, of course not. Because otherwise you would not have bought it. And, if you did purchase it knowing full well that it smelled bad, you have either a defective nose or some very strange things going on. That’s the subject of other blogs, not this one.

That now bad smelling meat got noticeable one day at a time, slowly. And likely with you totally forgetting about it. Yet, there it is. Completely enveloping your fridge in rotting stench. Now you are forced to take care of it. Again, this is something you don’t want to do, yet you are forced to because you don’t want it ruining the rest of the contents of the chiller and, eventually, the entire fridge. Imagine how much money would go to putrefaction if that smelly meat ruined everything, even the invincible ketchup and mustard. If you took the time to add it up, that would really blow your mad tachometer because you see that something that did its best to do something, aka rotting, one day at a time just became a bigger deal and now it has to be dealt with.

It happened one day at a time, one hour at a time, one second at a time.

That is the same with you.

No, hopefully you don’t smell like rotting meat. Take a shower you doof. In fact, if you smell like rotting meat, you probably better go to the hospital because that nasty gangrene is just about to turn your whatever into an amputation and you just don’t want to go there. Bad news. Again, something you don’t want to do.

Now that you’ve taken care of your wretched gangrene mess, you look at yourself. How did you get to this point? That’s right, if you didn’t get it before – one day at a time. How about that homework you’ve been putting off? The book you’ve been meaning to read? Like all that entire series of the Three Musketeers, all 5 books of it. Did you even know there were five?

While watching fail videos on YouTube, though entertaining, you could have taken that 10 minutes you wasted watching dumb people do dumber things with shaky grainy video, you might just have learned something. Enriched yourself. Made yourself just the tiniest bit more intelligent, well rounded (whatever that means), and maybe even have the guts to brush the hand of the cute girl who just walked by. And you know what, you’ll actually have something interesting and intelligent to talk with her about. Maybe she likes Jude Devereux and hates French authors but would certainly like to go to France. Or, more likely, Italy.

But that’s not the point. Don’t get all excited because you think you’re going to woo a girl because you read a translation of a book in French. It’s just not the same. If you were really slick, you would have spent your time learning French, read about D’Artagnan in French, and then been super sexy because you’d be able to order that French meal in French at a French restaurant and have your date go much better, not because you’re buying a French dinner but rather you’re showing the girl you bother taking the time to learn something, better yourself, and show her you might just take the time to get to know her. But, the only way you got that date in the first place is because you knew French.

And how did you know French? Yes, again, by taking a daily step. A single step, and learning that first French word, bonjour. D**n, there you go! You just learned one word. What does it mean? Look, if you can spend endless hours watching entertaining but meaningless videos on YouTube, you can certainly take less than the fifteen seconds it takes to open a new tab, copy “bonjour in english” into google, click search – yes you have to do that – and find out what it means.

Now, you have just learned a language. Granted you only have a tiny part of the few hundred words you need to communicate. What was that? Only a few hundred words? That’s right – you’d be amazed how far in the world you can get with just a few hundred words. And how did you learn those few hundred? By starting with the first.

You took a step. Now, was that very difficult? NO! And, if it is, you should see your doctor because you’re having trouble walking. And for those unable to walk, move yourself one foot forward, however you can get that done. And if you’re bed-ridden, roll over. And if you can’t do that, as the person who is taking care of you to shift your head slightly. There, you have now done it, you have taken that tiny little step.

Yes, I know, it’s only a figurative thing. How many texts do you send per day? Do you know how long that really adds up to? How about those meaningless web surfing sessions? If you only tossed in one more French word search, say “merci”, you would have increased your knowledge of French by 100%. Doubled. Wouldn’t you like to double your income in fifteen seconds? I sure would. But are you going to do that by following those 364 spam messages you received about instant, free home income with no work what so ever? No selling? Just get ten of your friends to sign up…

No. It doesn’t work like that. You have to take that one, singular step. Heck, maybe you think French is stupid and French people are stupid. Fine. Learn “hola” and “gracias”. That’ll sure come in useful if you’re ordering a taco. Or, if you want to be really cool, learn “konichiwa” and “arigato”. Are you going to be able to speak with someone on the street for very long with those two words? No, probably not. But, you just communicated with someone from another country and shown them that you aren’t such an American clown, unable to learn anything, ranking at the bottom of every measure except prison rolls and bad education results.

All you now have done is taken two steps. Holy heck, that won’t even get you to the refrigerator to take care of that bad meat. You’ll need a few more. But, if you’ve already taken two, what the heck is the problem with a third? Even if you face plant ending in an elegant scorpion fall because you failed to note your untied shoe laces, you still moved forward.

Get up and take care of that rotten meat, look up those two words, then go back to the stupid YouTube video. But know that you’ve just expanded your world.

Doubled, in fact.

Up to here, I’ve written 1395 words. My book, Antarctic Tears, is expected to be 80,000 words. I just typed 1.74% of my book in word count in half an hour, if the above words counted. I don’t type as fast as I used to but that’s another matter. But, string together another 28.6 hours and I’d have 80,000 words cranked out, give or take. That’s not even a freakin’ work week. Unless you live in France.

Granted, my book would suck because typing stream of consciousness will make a mess of a book, but at least I’d have something down on paper that I could add to, shuffle around, and make less sucky. And how did I get to the point of having a small but measurable percentage of my book done? That’s right, I stopped watching stupid youtube videos, which I laughed when the guy scorpion fell off his skate board, and sat down to this jazzy Macbook Retina and started clicking keys. That was it.

Nothing grandiose or amazing. No comet from afar flew past, lit up the room and I was inspired. No, only I, from the inside, did it. I want to see my book in print. How am I going to get there? That’s right – sitting down and typing that crap out. You probably don’t want to write a book or cross Antarctica dragging 300 pounds of supplies. But, there IS something you want to do.

Put exactly one minute into it. Since you’ve put in zero thus far, that’s an incalculably vast improvement to what you did before. Why is that? Because it’s that whole division by zero thing. My math PhD buddy can explain it better but most anyone wouldn’t understand the explanation anyway. The time would be better spent, that one paltry minute, in moving yourself forward to your dream of getting X done.

X = whatever you wanted to get done.

Go do it. Now. Stop reading this blog post and do it. Then, come back to the blog for more motivating.

Take the step

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“A pathetic voyage”

It’s interesting to read post-mortems about my Antarctica expedition; from

Explorapoles
Explorapoles commentary

Explorapoles:

This young San Diego resident, Aaron Linsdau (38), wanted to become the first American to complete, solo and without any means of assistances (no kites), the classical Hercules Inlet -> South Pole trek – 1 450 miles trip. [actually about 700mi]

Aaron Linsdau (a Carlsbad software engineer) has attempted to be the first American to ski solo and unsupported from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. But after the worst voyage ever (he had encountered almost evevry setback possible), he made it to the SP [South Pole] but had to give up the idea of the return trip. Consequently, one may say that it was an abandon. And that his expedition is not a successfull one.

See here his pathetic voyage (his daily blog, about 40 pages)

The commentary at the end, about being abandoned and not successful are definitely correct!  I was not successful at completing a round trip.  In fact, I was successful at spending the most time ever getting to the SP.  And I enjoyed every minute of it, no matter how brutal it was.  Originally the expedition was listed as abandoned, suggesting that it was packed in and sent home.  Quite the contrary!

From Explorapoles description of my daily blog:

Here is the daily blog written by American Aaron Lindsau during his voyage : he seems to have endured almost every setback and difficulty possible (coldest temperatures, highest sastrugis, dirtiest snow, strongest winds, worst weather, he had problems with alsmost every part of his equipment, etc.) during his pathetic march to the SP.

As some hold the speed record, he seems to be (on this distance and itinerary at least) the slowest trekker ever. Be ready anyway to read 40 pages of a pathetic voyage.

When you look at it in the high performance perspective, then yes, it was a pathetic attempt.  However, I did not give up.  When that much goes wrong, how many remain in the hunt?

Pathetic Blog
Dramatic and pathetic Blog

Yes, I was not able to make a round trip out of it.  I didn’t plan to kite back, I just planned to ski back.  Slowly learning what others have done, I can see that it was crazy to try something so big for a first major expedition.  Every advantage to overcome every problem I encountered was used.  And, in the end, some things helped and others actually hindered me.

When I read Explorapoles description of the expedition as pathetic, I just had to laugh at myself out loud.  A crippling lung infection, wild conditions, and a stunning list of gear failures made the trek that much more memorable.  As I learned from another explorer this past year, I feel much better to have failed in the trip goal under the worst conditions rather than making it under the easiest conditions.  It’s difficult to explain this and I hope to clarify this more in my book, Antarctic Tears, planned for release at the end of this year.