Wundervölker, Monstrosität und Hässlichkeit im Mittelalter (German Edition)

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The grant was set up in memory of an alumnus who died in an avalanche while mountaineering. They seemed insufficiently prepared. He was bright but scatterbrained, forever picking up things and putting them down, both figuratively music projects, conversations but also literally. I can still picture him hustling around the house we shared in college, hunting for his keys or his soldering iron, having gotten in over his head rewiring some device. He was an artist; one piece I remember consisted of a half-peeled banana, implanted with circuitry and suspended in a jar of formaldehyde. Once, he grew grass in our upstairs bathroom — a living bathmat, he said — until the turf became muddy and flooded the downstairs.

Jon had no serious concerns about our safety, but he felt he bore responsibility for our emotional well-being. To enjoy ourselves, we would need to feel comfortable, not just in the wilderness but also with him as a leader. We knew him before he became a professional guide, and our perception of his expertise lagged behind the reality.

Do we have everything we need? Jon seemed to have solid answers for all of them. He was living alone for the summer in a house that an acquaintance was building in the woods. The structure was framed-up but largely wall-less, and Jon, to be safe, needed to check that no moose had wandered in. After a spectacular first day of paddling, we came ashore on a rocky tidal flat about two miles from where we were dropped. Jon gave us his detailed tutorial about bear safety while we set up our campsite.

The last thing you wanted was to come across a brown bear unannounced. This was intentional. It was essential for their safety, but it felt silly or vulnerable somehow, like singing in public. It loosened everyone up. They were performing for their friends now; the whole group was in on the joke. I had never seen a wild bear, though I have backpacked in bear country a handful of times.

I felt comfortable with the animals in the abstract. There were bear trails everywhere, leading from the tree line to the water, and disquietingly close, I felt, to where we were pitching our tent. We found heaps of their scat. We saw trees where the animals had slashed off the bark to eat the inner layer, tufts of fur from their paws still plastered in the sap. I pretended I was having fun. But that evening I grew increasingly petrified, almost delirious.

My eyes tightened, scanning for bears. The sound of the wind became bears, and so did the mossy sticks cracking under our feet. I gave myself a migraine, then phased in and out of sleep. At sunrise, I woke feeling foolish. While Jon cooked pancakes, I reasoned with myself, privately, in a notebook I brought on the trip. I tried to conceive of the situation as a geometry problem. Yes, some number of bears roved this landscape, I wrote: relatively tiny, independent blips, going about their business randomly, just like us.

In all that empty space and confusion, a lethal collision of their moving blips and our moving blips would be an improbable coincidence. It was embarrassing, really. I was reminding myself that freakishly horrible things are, by definition, unlikely to happen. Even now, my reasoning feels sound. Day 2 was a slog. We paddled through a spitting drizzle in an endless straight line, along the high granite walls of the coast.

We talked less and less, just pushed through the emerald chop. Then eventually we gave up, hauling in our boats and making camp in a wide, crescent-shaped cove, short of the site that Jon originally picked out on his map. In the s, one prospector built a cabin not far from our campsite and brandished a gun at the Alaska Natives who passed through. We intuited that the scenery was beautiful, but we could see very little of it through the fog.

Soon, the big rain started. We rushed through dinner, then loafed in our tent until, eventually, the loafing turned to sleep. Gale winds, with gusts up to 59 miles per hour, turned back two cruise ships in Skagway, about 85 miles north. Around 2 a. We heard torrents of water lashing down and the waves crashing in the cove. We got up three or four hours later.

The rain and wind no longer felt ferocious but were still too gnarly to paddle through; there was no question, Jon said, that we were staying put. We cooked breakfast and took turns playing chess in the tent. By late morning, the storm seemed to have passed. We were antsy. We figured we would take a look around. The terrain was crammed with thickets of alder and spruce, underlain by ferns and a furor of prickly things. The plant pierced fleece and hurt like fire. There were no trails. We followed it downstream, looking for a way across, and eventually found it bridged by a hefty tree trunk.

It seemed like an easy crossing. Jon stepped up and led the way, and Dave and I waited in a single-file line on the stream bank behind him. The creek was loud, like a factory with all its gears and rollers churning. But I must have scanned those trees long enough to feel satisfied and safe, because I know I was turning my head, to go back to my friends, when I saw the dark shape rushing forward in my peripheral vision.

What I heard must have been roots popping. If a tree is large enough, you can apparently hear them cracking underground like gunfire. The thud was seismic. The trunk crashed down right next to me. Mapping out bits of evidence later, we concluded that the tree must have been about 80 feet tall and perhaps two feet in diameter. It was some kind of conifer — a spruce or cedar. When I got to him, he was crouching, stunned but O. The sight of Dave going down had canceled out everything else. It had narrowly missed his head, struck his left shoulder, shearing it from his collarbone and breaking many of his ribs.

Jon had heard nothing, seen nothing. He was turning around to help Dave onto the log — again, feeling responsible for our safety — and the next thing he knew, he was in the water. He tried to reach out his left arm but could not make it move. He could not move his legs. He felt a bolt of pain down his spine.

Jon later described flashing through an idiosyncratic sequence of thoughts, all in a few milliseconds, as if watching a deck of cards fanning across a table. One was an image of himself in a wheelchair, sitting behind a mixing console in a fancy recording studio. He had never worked in a recording studio and, though he played music, he had no particular plans to. Still, this vision apparently felt like an acceptable future and freed him to resurface in the present. That was when he registered me, screaming his name. He knew from his many wilderness first-responder trainings that moving a person with spinal injuries risks paralysis.

He somehow hoisted himself out of the stream before Dave or I got to him, using his right arm and his chin and biting into something loamy with his teeth, for additional leverage. He reassessed the situation: better. Also: worse. He now realized that we were at least a mile inland from our camp. Suddenly, his body was walking; his legs just started working.

Dave and I put him between us, supporting his frame. He was moving faster than we expected, but uncoordinatedly. Then he crumpled between us. We tried again; Jon was dead weight. Dave noticed that his breathing was shallow and his voice was low — signs, Dave knew from med school, of a collapsed lung. He began battering Jon with a pep talk, telling him, firmly, that he had to get up, that we had to get out of here.

He looked down to see why this log he was resting on was so lumpy and realized that he was, in fact, sitting on his left arm. Jon had zero feeling in it. He found it amusing, this sensation of complete estrangement from one of his limbs. Jon had been stressing that it was important to stay together. But this was another theory of wilderness survival that appeared to be breaking down in practice. Someone would have to get on the radio back at our camp. By chance, while marooned in our tent during the rainstorm the night before, Jon showed us how to use the device, though he did it almost as a formality; the hand-held VHF unit was merely a line-of-sight radio, he told us, meaning its range was small, its signal too weak to pass through most obstacles.

There was a moment of discussion, or maybe just an exchange of looks between me and Dave. I told Dave he should go. Besides, I took for granted that Dave would make it. He was more capable in my mind, less likely to cinch himself in indecisive knots. I know that you, growing up, definitely felt insecure about things, and I think you looked at me and thought, Dave has everything figured out.

But I had so much anxiety. But I guess I thought of the tremor as strictly physiological. What if he broke the radio, foreclosing whatever marginal chance we had of getting help? There were lots of ways to screw this up, Dave realized. More occurred to him as he ran. He found the radio. He turned it on. He was lying near a log on his injured side, his beard and glasses flecked with dirt and tendrils of moss. He seemed to be on the brink of losing consciousness. Still, I knew I was supposed to keep talking to him, to tether him to the world with my voice somehow.

I started vamping platitudes: We were going to get out of here soon, and so forth. But I could feel myself treading water, even blundering, at one point, into a long-winded apology, worried I overstayed my welcome that one Christmas with his family. I was afraid that the helplessness in my voice might be counterproductive, unsettling Jon instead of steadying him. It was a tremendous silence to fill. What can a person say? I had two literature professors in college who made us memorize poems.

You never knew when some lines of verse would come in handy, they claimed. One liked to brag that, while traveling through Ireland, he found that if he spat out some Yeats at a pub, he could drink free. This is how I wound up reciting a love poem to Jon. After that, I imagine I also did some W. Auden; I knew a fair amount of Auden back then. Jon and I would spend about an hour and a half together alone on the forest floor.

I ran through everything in my quiver — Kay Ryan, A. Ammons, Michael Donaghy — padding each poem with little prefatory remarks, while Jon said nothing, just signaled with his eyes or produced a sound whenever I checked in. I felt like a radio D. I must have also done at least one by Hayden Carruth, my curmudgeonly pen pal at the literary magazine. Hayden and the animal pass a moment in stillness together. The foot patrol boat normally spent its time coursing through the Gulf of Alaska, inspecting halibut-fishing vessels, or circulating, as a terrorist deterrent, near the oil terminals at Valdez.

It was home-ported in Seward, hundreds of miles from Glacier Bay. But the crew was transiting to Juneau for a training when, a few days earlier, they were smacked by the same storm that later poured inland, over us. For two days, the boat swished around in foot-plus seas. Finally, the Mustang slipped into Glacier Bay to find some protection.

The weather started to ease. That afternoon, as Roberts piloted the Mustang east, toward Dundas Bay, his pallid crewmates were finally staggering back up to the bridge, asking where the hell they were. Our signal would have covered two or three miles at most. And yet, a boat — a Coast Guard boat, no less — happened to be passing through that exceedingly small window at precisely the right time. A moment earlier or later — seconds, potentially — and we might have slipped out of alignment.

The moving boat would have cruised out of range, uncoupling from us forever. It was p. Then he turned and asked his watch commander to pull out all the standardized search-and-rescue paperwork. He was steeling himself, resummoning his professionalism. Roberts was the crew member on the Mustang with the most current medical training; he would complete his E. We were nautical miles from the nearest hospital; a half-day trip, even in ideal conditions. He was still in front of our campsite, facing the water.

He aimed straight up, then watched as the bright tracer rose and arced somewhere far behind him, deep in the woods. He was uncertain whether this counted as a success. He started scanning the fog in front of him, but the Zodiac never appeared. And yet, this was lucky: they wound up coming ashore much closer to where I was waiting in the woods with Jon. Soon, whatever poem I was reciting was interrupted by whistles blowing and voices calling, and eventually three shapes, wearing hard hats and heavy orange rain gear, rushed toward us out of the trees.

Roberts was especially impressive, a reassuringly large Boston-area native with a booming voice. The information was troubling: his pulse was 60 beats per minute; his breathing, fast and shallow. They put his neck in a brace and eased him onto a kind of truncated backboard, called a Miller board, to move him out to the beach.

Dave had returned by then. Later that night, lying down to sleep in a bed-and-breakfast in Gustavus — stunned and depleted, but dry and warm — Dave and I would talk and talk, reviewing the entire ordeal. We had drooped into a long silence, coasting toward sleep, when Dave spoke up with one last observation. When we were getting ready to lift Jon on the backboard, he said, it occurred to him that this was one of those crisis moments you hear about, like when mothers are suddenly able to lift a car off their baby.

Dave expected we were going to have superhuman strength. We did not have superhuman strength. Then, in one motion, they took off downhill, with negligible help from us. The network had sent crews to other Coast Guard stations around the country too, though this assignment appeared to hold the most dramatic potential.

Air Station Sitka was unique: Its pilots were responsible for 12, miles of coastline, a sprawling, treacherous wilderness riven with fjords, inlets and glaciers, often buffeted by implacably horrible weather. She was taking the call from behind a semicircular counter, like the reception desk at a midlevel corporate branch office.

Karl Baldessari, informed everyone that this mission would take longer to plan. Baldessari was a year veteran of the Coast Guard, a fast-moving, sinewy man in a blousy flight suit, with a tidy mustache and spiky hair. His role at the air station was that of a firehouse chief. He was responsible for the safety of everyone working there, which meant making judicious decisions about what warranted sending them hurtling through the sky.

That calculus got knotty in conditions like these, though there was a baseline volatility to flying in Alaska at all. Visibility in Alaska was frequently poor; conditions changed quickly. It was like taking an exit off the interstate, except there might be a granite wall in front of you wherever you chose to get off. It was possible the pilots would travel very far — a half-mile away from whoever needed their help — only to discover that the last leg was too risky and be forced to turn back.

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This Inian Pass, right here, is the worst place we could possibly go. Inian Pass is a slim channel near the center of the Icy Strait, the long, interconnected system of waterways stretching through Glacier Bay. Conditions in the Icy Strait can be bad days of the year, Baldessari recently told me; wind, rain and storm surges all push through it fast from the open ocean. But Inian Pass is a narrow keyhole at the center of the strait — a mile-wide opening between a few uninhabited islands and a rocky point — where all that weather speeds up.

The only way for the pilots to reach us would be to fly straight through it. Nothing in the National Geographic footage, at this point, feels reassuring. The flight surgeon holds his hand over his mouth and bites his lip. The co-pilot, Chris Ferguson, only a few months into his posting in Alaska, mills around and fidgets with his ear.

Lying on his backboard like a burl of driftwood, Jon was conscious and cognizant of his pain, but he had started to feel somehow buffered from his body, uninterested in connecting with the world beyond it. It was a very passive experience. He was confused and felt impatient. This was supposed to be the simple part, when everyone rushed him to the hospital.

Instead, his condition deteriorated. Within 10 minutes of reaching the beach, Jon threw up. I took out my wool cap to wipe his face, and he retched a second time, straight into my hat. It made Roberts anxious. He reported back to the Mustang that Jon had thrown up, then soon radioed again, explaining that Jon was going into shock.

He kept giving and requesting updates, trying to gauge how long this might take, and eventually started erecting a makeshift shelter out of plastic sheeting and medical tape, hoping to keep Jon out of the rain. Out of earshot of us, Roberts explained to his crew mate Eamon McCormack what the vomit meant: The possibility of Jon dying, here under their care, was real. They would go and give it a look, Baldessari explained over the radio, but the outlook was iffy. The guys on the beach, he said, must be prepared to get Jon back on their cutter and haul him to a hospital themselves, as fast as they could.

One evening this winter, my phone rang, and it was Karl Baldessari. Long retired from the Coast Guard, he was teaching aviation at a community college in Oregon, where I left a voice mail message earlier that day. I meanwhile had metamorphosed into a year-old father of two and fumbled to explain to Baldessari that, as thrilled as I was to have tracked him down, I was, at the moment, racing to finish a risotto for my daughters before gymnastics practice and would have to call him back. However dramatic it remained for me, I assumed it would have been obscured in a yearslong wash of more sensational incidents.

But everyone I spoke to did remember it, immediately and in detail. It was almost like it was yesterday. There was something about the supreme freakishness of the accident that left a lasting impression. For those who came ashore, the experience was also marked by a feeling of subtly escalating chaos and the pressure to surmount it. McCormack told me that ours was a story he retold endlessly, often to the younger Coast Guardsmen he was eventually tasked with training. McCormack was not supposed to be landing an inflatable boat on an unforgivably rocky Alaskan shoreline, for example.

But there he was, anyway, beaching the Zodiac as gingerly as he could, so that Roberts and the other men could load Jon aboard. As relieved as Jon had been when the Coast Guard first arrived, he also felt instantaneously more vulnerable. Strapped to the back board, his neck in the collar, he surrendered control of his body, however imperfect that control had been. He was being hauled around as an object now, with no ability to wriggle or shift positions, to manage his pain or even to turn his head and see what was happening.

He was helpless, entirely dependent on the upright people operating around him, those voices he could hear discussing him on the far side of some gauzy divide. One side was completely deflated. Instead, McCormack found the puncture and wedged the nozzle of a small pump inside. Then — steering the boat with one hand, operating the throttle with the other — he started working the pump with his foot, essentially doing leg presses, to keep the fender partly inflated.

The ride was already bumpy in four-foot seas. Roberts and the other Coast Guardsmen on the Zodiac leaned over Jon to shield him from the splash. The pain was heinous; Jon seemed to be passing out. Roberts talked to him, held his hand. Roberts felt crushed, he told me; he was torturing this guy in order to save him. Jon was still battened to the backboard, wedged up to keep the weight of his body on his less-painful side. Dave and I knelt and rubbed his feet. The helicopter was going to make it. Now the crew got busy below: tying down anything that could be blown off by the rotor wash or stashing it in the mess.

Instead, I remember only a heavy door to our left swinging open to reveal, like a scene from an action movie, the silhouette of a man in a blue flight suit, feet planted shoulder-width apart to steady himself as the ship rocked sideways. Soon, everyone was working to squeeze him back through the narrow doorway and onto the deck where the helicopter, an MH Jayhawk, was idling overhead. Until recently, the story I told about the accident unfolded in two basic acts: the tree fell, instantaneously unleashing a kind of unfathomable chaos; then the Coast Guard appeared and, just as swiftly, regathered that chaos into order.

It was like watching footage of an exploding object, then watching it run in reverse. The maneuver the Coast Guard was readying to execute now, on the deck of the Mustang, would be the climax of that progression. The helicopter hovered 30 or 40 feet over the boat, mirroring its speed and trajectory, while both vehicles moved slowly forward.


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Forward and right The whole procedure, from our vantage point, seemed seamless and routine. In a way, it was: After the agonized deliberation at the air station, the pilots exited off their GPS route into fairly manageable conditions around Inian Pass. Ultimately, scooping Jon off the deck of the Mustang would resemble a standard exercise that the pilots drilled in their trainings. A few moments earlier, as the men scurried around Jon on his backboard, packaging and fastening him for the hoist, Jon worried that the second he got airborne he would start twirling uncontrollably, like the feathery end of a cat toy, and potentially thwack his head on the equipment on deck.

But now, he was levitating smoothly — a solitary, swaddled bale of a man, perfectly perpendicular to the ground. Dave and I watched it happen: our friend rising steadily away from us, improbably, to safety. As Jon floated higher, he could hear the Coast Guardsmen on the Mustang beneath him begin to cheer.

He felt it was safe to open his eyes. When he did, he saw someone, hunched in the open cargo door of the helicopter, pointing a television camera at him. Jon was rushed into surgery at the hospital in Sitka that evening. His spleen had been macerated into countless flecks. After awakening from surgery, Jon was disappointed that the doctors had swept those shards into a bag and thrown his spleen in the trash; he wanted to get a look at it, maybe even keep it preserved in a jar, alongside his cyborg-banana.

He felt he would need to face conversations like these if he was going to be a doctor. I guess, logistically, we did. We had zero sense of accomplishment, or even agency. In our minds, all we did was avoid screwing up until the real help could arrive and save him. From the instant he willed himself out of the water, he felt all of us locking into that same seamless flow of order steadily displacing chaos that Dave and I only experienced once the Coast Guard arrived.

It was amazing to him how the three of us managed to generate solutions for each successive problem. The feeling of inevitability that day became only more pronounced for Jon as time passed and the entire story of our rescue receded into a prologue to the rest of his life. The surgery in Sitka was only the first of half a dozen, and it would take several years for him to regain 60 percent of the use of his arm, wrist and hand, as the nerves gradually regrew along his injured side.

He could repair kayaks but needed help lifting them. He was unable to wrestle the mattress corners into the fitted sheets when he made the beds. After that, he started working at a recording studio in Portland, just as he envisioned while stuck in the water, and he now runs his own audio-mastering company: Spleenless Mastering. Eventually Jon seemed to have recovered from the accident without any conspicuous disabilities.

But his life has been quietly corroded by chronic pain and, almost equally, by the stresses of navigating the doctors, medications and their side effects to manage it. About two years after the accident, he learned he had PTSD. It manifested as a kind of unbearable empathy for anyone who was suffering. He would hear interviews with natural-disaster victims or the homeless on NPR and have to pull his car over. There continued to be other tribulations, too — more mundane ones.

A few times a year, he still rebreaks a rib out of nowhere; once or twice, Jon told me, all it has taken is an especially affectionate hug from his wife. Jon found early on that he could cordon off this suffering, both in his own mind and in conversation, by making jokes about the accident itself and sticking to the happy ending of our rescue, a trick that got much easier after the National Geographic show aired later that year.

The soundtrack was all heart-thwacking synth drums and shredding guitar.

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Initially, the schlockiness of the production felt like a blessing. The show depersonalized the accident, giving us all a shorthand to convey how dramatic that day had been, without confronting how destabilizing and senseless it might have felt. But we never realized the degree to which that kitschy shorthand started to obscure the real story — then, gradually, to replace it. The morning after the accident, Dave and I traveled back to Dundas Bay to pack up our campsite and collect the kayaks we abandoned the previous evening.

We were shuttled there from Gustavus by the same boat captain who dropped us off three days earlier, a forbiddingly taciturn commercial fisherman named Doug Ogilvy. He asked if we had waders. We did not. So Ogilvy put on his, climbed down the ladder and told Dave to get on his back. Then stoically, like an ox or an old-timey strongman hauling a safe, he trudged through the thigh-high water, dropped Dave on the gravel beach, then lurched back and hauled me the same way, as if I were a man-size infant in a papoose.

That is, he half-expected to find evidence that the accident had been fortuitous somehow, that there was a reason, or redemptive value, behind it. My mother had the same instinct when I called her the night before. On the phone I strained to emphasize for her — she was only two years into her cruelly premature widowhood, and I was new at being the overprotective son of a widow — that Jon was going to be all right, and that Dave and I were safe.

She told me that my dad must have been up there looking out for us somehow. I resented all the supernatural thinking. A tree fell in the woods. It might not have, but it did. As strange as it sounds, it was years before I realized that the tree could have hit me — and only after a friend pointed this out, as I told the story around a fire one night. And it was only a few weeks ago, while on the phone with Jon, that it occurred to me that the tree could have hit all three of us — we were standing in a single-file line, after all, waiting to cross the creek — and that we all might have wound up clobbered and scattered in that river, dying slowly and watching each other die.

And so, the real meaning of the accident, if I felt compelled to find one, might be that it validated my most exaggerated fears. But instead, it somehow helped cleanse me of them. There was comfort for me in accepting the arbitrariness of what happened, in regarding it as a spasm of random damage in time and space that, just as randomly, a small number of human beings got the opportunity to repair.

We were more capable than I had understood. We were also far more helpless. On the ride back to Gustavus with our gear, I pictured myself, again, as a small blip in empty space. The ride was rough and jumpy as Ogilvy impatiently pounded his boat through the last vestigial wave energy of the storm; Dave and I had to hold on, to plant ourselves on the bench behind him. But there was a moment when I felt so safe that I loosened my grip, leaned slightly into the motion of the boat, and, closing my eyes, felt myself lift off the seat.

Jon Mooallem is a writer at large for the magazine who is working on a book about the great Alaska earthquake of His last feature for the magazine was about our climatological future. Tell your fellow americans that you plan to cross the United States by train, and their reactions will range from amusement at your spellbinding eccentricity to naked horror that they, through some fatal social miscalculation, have become acquainted with a person who would plan to cross the United States by train.

Depending how you slice it — time or money — there are either 61 or immediate reasons not to travel by Amtrak trains from New York City to Los Angeles. Covering the interjacent 2, Because of this ability to effectively teleport between locations, 21st-century Americans have become flippant about transcontinental voyaging. To truly appreciate the size of the landmass the third-largest country in the world by land area and the variety of its terrain rain forests, deserts, prairies, Margaritaville, etc.

Or me. Why not me? My boyfriend and I were planning a short vacation out West anyway. I could just leave a few days before him and get there after he arrived. As I quickly learned, there are no passenger rail routes that cross the entire United States in a single trip, nor are there likely to be any soon. While the trip planner cannot identify the train station nearest to an address, or even a city, it can tell you the name of the city you have already typed into its search bar, provided there is an Amtrak train station there.

What Amtrak has managed to cram into this minuscule space is impressive: a fold-down sink, two cushioned benches that convert to a bed, a second premade bed that lowers from the ceiling, a tiny foldout table with an inset of alternating colored squares for checkers or chess, a coat hook, a luggage cubby, a large picture window and the largest variety of not-quite-matching shades of dark blue upholstery fabrics ever assembled. There is even a small metal toilet covered with a puce-colored lid, which invites the brainteaser: Is it more luxurious to have a private toilet inches away from your sleeping area, or a shared toilet elsewhere?

To prevent occupants from rolling off their inch-wide mattresses the same width as a standard casket and falling several feet to the floor, stowed beneath the mattress of every upper bunk is a kind of net of seatbelts that hooks with grim determination into the ceiling. Once on the bed, I subjected my body to a series of Cirque du Soleil-inspired experiments to confirm that this safety web would indeed hold my weight, were I to roll unconsciously into it at 2 a.

I tested the strength of the straps with one leg. I rolled from the wall into the net, flopping my limbs. I placed each hand on a segment of net and pushed against it with the full force of my upper body, something that I had never done in my sleep but that now seemed possible or even probable. It seemed secure. The freedom to move about in a train evokes an illicit, almost danger-courting autonomy.

The instructions given by conductors and attendants were not so much formulaic as they were desperately obvious — a black comic litany of bare-minimum survival tips. On trains, passengers are treated as individuals even more powerful than adults: independent teenagers who just want to smoke. Amtrak knows you want to smoke. Amtrak knows you love to smoke. In winter, the Lake Shore Limited experiences just 90 minutes of daylight before darkness descends for a majority of its journey west to Chicago.

The first leg of the trip follows the Hudson River, revealing glimpses of hidden islands and idyllic ruins — like the crumbling remains of a fanciful 20th-century castle built by an arms dealer in need of an out-of-the-way place to stash his stores of live ammunition, some of which eventually exploded, creating the crumbling remains. At sunset, when all that was left of the day was a tangelo slash along the horizon, that same color flashed up from partly melted ice craters that caught the light as the train chugged past.

Suddenly, the air outside the train became crows — thousands of crows, rushing in from all angles and alighting on the blue-white frozen river, as if deposited there by an unseen hand. Sleep the first night came easily and, as it was interrupted several times, frequently.

After performing the traditional nighttime rituals of climbing atop the toilet and carefully catapulting into bed, I was rewarded with the gentle rocking of a hammock experiencing a constant minor earthquake tremor.

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The most unifying characteristic of my fellow passengers was not age although, as a rule, the sleeping cars skewed retired , race very mixed , income while sleepers are astronomically priced, coach seats can be downright economical for shorter segments or even fear of flying no one I spoke to had it ; it was their relaxed, easygoing, train-lulled contentment. Train people are content to stare out the window for hours, like indoor cats. The trouble with the Lake Shore Limited is that the amount of enjoyment it is possible to derive from staring out the window of a train is inversely proportional to the population density of the land you are traversing.

People need things, and unfortunately most of those things are ugly to look at. Many of them are gray. Shortly into its route, the Chief passes the single best thing in the United States: a silo in Mendota, Ill. Train people are also individuals for whom small talk is as invigorating as a rail of cocaine. For them, every meal on board Amtrak communal seating like a Benihana, reservations only, included with the price of a sleeping-car ticket, check in with the dining-car attendant is a rager.

A white middle-aged man in motorcycle gear discussed leukemia treatment with a swish black grandmother. Another man, while gathering up armfuls of research books from a table, bid farewell to a farmer and suggested that he might run into him on the same train next year.

At another meal, my table mates were a Missouri-based retired physician and her husband, a retired special-ed teacher, plus a retired architect from Arizona who was traveling alone. In the middle of a conversation about how they met their spouses, the architect suddenly seemed preoccupied with his iPhone.

Her soothing voice made everything she said sound like the hurried recitation of a familiar recipe. Kansas shares a border with Colorado. I never could have imagined that I would one day say this, and I know many people will be disconcerted by the statement.

They will wonder if, this whole time, they have been reading an avant-garde work of science fiction, or perhaps a Mad Lib. Some will claim I am lying. Many will assume I am wrong, demented or a clumsy typist. I woke in Colorado to a weather phenomenon called the pogonip — freezing fog that condensed on tree limbs and sagebrush until they looked dusted with powdered sugar.

The terrain of the Colorado tablelands is so flat that it seemed possible to detect the exact location where the pogonip ended and blue skies began, the margins of the changing landscape revealing themselves as definitively as gutters between panels of a newspaper comic. A childlike compulsion to identify distant cows rippled through the observation car as we hurried along. Whichever way you face, you are privy to an all-day show, although there is a nagging sensation that by being focused in one direction, you are missing something spectacular unfolding in another.

Sometimes you are. Unknown to me, on the north side of the train, the Rockies had just begun to loom up out of the prairie. Azure and golden orange were the colors of the afternoon. Action-movie posters are dominated by this color combination, famous for its vibrancy, and indeed, a horizon filled with just these hues seemed to draw the Sightseer Lounge into a kind of trance.

For a long while there was nothing but sky and earth to observe — I saw actual tumbleweeds somersault by — yet everyone, me included, remained riveted to the windows. It was possible, in the Sightseer Lounge, to watch weather roll in from a great distance, even from one side of the car to the other. As we ascended hills covered in pinyon and juniper, flakes began to fall, and soon we were in a winter forest.

As quickly as we had entered the snowscape, however, we were back in dusty New Mexican grasslands, rolling through a hailstorm of white birds. Sunset pushed the denizens of the Sightseer Lounge to the brink of insanity, as all but the Amish frantically tried to capture the flame-colored sky on our cellphone cameras.

A companionable mother I met earlier in the day, accompanying her own parents on a casino trip to Nevada, dashed from another car to make sure I was facing out of the best side of the lounge to photograph the heavens. When the sun dipped below the horizon, the sky turned the color of wet slate, then dark denim blue with a pale apricot smear that we chased west for several miles. We live so much of our lives close-up — scrolling through phones, watching our type appear on computer screens, scrutinizing papers, preparing meals, cleaning our homes room by room.

An extended train ride affords a chance not just to see a horizon but also to soak it up. To luxuriate in the far-off for uninterrupted hours. To exist, briefly, in the uncharted sections of the cellphone-coverage map. Amtrak takes advantage of this circumstance. It is fortunate that its routes were laid during a period of industrious optimism, when everyone assumed the West would soon be made as unbearable as the East; if they had known it would remain beautiful, it would have been difficult to justify the financial investment.

Lying in my berth, I felt as happy as an egg in an incubator with no plans to hatch. It turned out to have been a supplement for adults 50 and over. I had become train-lulled. When I awoke on the third day, we were about an hour behind schedule. It had happened, our attendant explained, when assistance for a handicapped passenger was slow to arrive at an overnight stop. As we approached our final destination, the scenery deteriorated, the red rock vistas replaced by heaps of wooden pallets stacked in strip-mall parking lots. When we pulled into the last stop on the line, the train was almost empty.

She last wrote for the magazine about the actress and comedian Maya Rudolph. Holly Andres is a photographer known for her cinematic style. She last photographed the figure skater Jason Brown for the magazine. Please upgrade your browser. Until It Upended Our Lives. But I Did It Anyway. Rick Steves seems miraculously untouched by the need to look cool, which of course makes him sneakily cool.

Travel, to Steves, is not some frivolous luxury — it is an engine for improving humankind. You are commenting using your WordPress.

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You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration. What can I do, to improve my skills in tournaments, how can I practice despite my busy day? What kind of tournaments do you suggest, are there any?

Greetings from Vienna.

Like Like. Also, look around for training sites like TournamentPokerEdge, DeucesCracked, RunItOnce, but makes sure you review them first so you can find your best fit. Like Liked by 1 person. Anyone can learn the mathematics and mechanics of the game. I say this as a lifelong poker enthusiast and as a professional poker writer, poker note-taking app developer, and poker podcast co-host.

This program diagrams approaches that make the choice of range of hands to make your game non-exploitable. Actually I got two tips from you Tim! Via your books. My friends bought this ridiculously complicated board game called Dominant Species, it takes about 8 hours to play.

Since most of the time a player is watching other players play, I decided to reread the rulebook. Suddenly I see an exponential point distribution and another one. I start thinking about why the game-designers put it in there, then I noticed that it unbalanced the game unless other players saw the exponential distributions as well. So I started to reframe the game as a math game. So I won my first game just by utilizing one of those point payouts, because no one was focusing on it.

Before I played my second game, I theorized a few things here and there. I applied graph theory, multicore processor programming, probability theory, The Mathematics of Poker the book and general cognitive biases. I started to dissect the pure deterministic mechanics from the game and the probabilistic mechanics from the game. Eventually I understood when and where I needed to apply a certain field of math. I leveraged almost all of my math knowledge that I learned from my computer science and psychology classes.

I always win after 8 hour battles. Transferable skills and points of amazing leverage within the game. With every game that I play I always use them. Tim, thanks so much for your generosity in sharing these materials — hope you post show note for each episode! My kids and me are wolfing down the whole series except the dating episode! You truly are a beneficial trojan horse to advance the cause of true learning. Thanks so much, Avi! Developing an imagery of the desired outcome gives a clear-cut path to achieve it.

Should I start attending real tournaments? Who wants to stake me? Like Liked by 2 people. That does not discount attrition as a viable strategy, but attrition needs an endgame where you take control and sweep. When I was a teenager, I used to compete at the Pokemon video games at a high level 4th in nintendo official magazine pokemon tournament etc. Your team consists of 6 Pokemon where you choose each of there 4 moves, distribute stat points, give each a held item that has battle effects and choose which pokemon leads the battle.

As a turn based game, Pokemon is like chess, but where you choose your pieces. Building your team really depended on current metagame and what compromises you were willing to make: adding a point of speed to outspeed your oponent on an equal speed tier would take a point away from another stat, which pushed other percentages harder to make. The variety of strategies viable was wide enough to allow you to surprise, whilst more standard teams were more likely to overall win tournaments especially with swiss tournament rules: therefore creativity was encouraged whilst a strong cycle of metagame vs.

I am a musician now, but I recieved a huge education mentally from being obsessed with Pokemon to the point of getting deeply into this stuff: damage calculations led to learning much complex mathematics; learning to think long term strategies through a match and play psycological games to lead the opponent to play certain strategies I wanted them to as they played into the Pokemon I had remaining vieled.

It also of course gave me self-beleif: I could rank highly at something given the obsession. The obsession is now a canon: what do I aim it at next? Lol does Phil Gordon still make money at poker? I thought he was outclassed by the internet kids these days. Hey Tim, the link to Itunes, is broken,because of the last s. Poker like many card games has many statistics to watch and observe.

The one that I always apply before going to a game with friends or at a casino is that I want to play at minimum hands based on the type of play. Same thing down here in Australia. I feel like we are missing out on all the fun, with your TV show being available in the US, but not here yet. Hope you wade through the red tape, and open your adventure up to the rest of the world soon! All they do right now is encourage piracy, because Europeans literally are without any option to watch most of the content. Legal streaming services are a step in the right direction, but again restricted by country and new episodes are sometimes slow to appear.

Same with talk-shows, I used to love Craig Ferguson but no channels in Denmark showed it an the official website was geo-restricted. My only grace was somebody illegally uploading all episodes to YouTube. Sorry for the rant. Is this in any way related to the removal of your notes from Scribd? The best sporting tip I was ever told and possibly the greatest piece of advice I could pass on.

When my dad was a kid, he was studying to become a professional chess player. In elementary school, he played chess for a team at the US State Department where my grandfather worked. He was impatient and playing older opponents, some chess champions. Time moves different for an eight year old, than an eighty year old, and he had to train himself to think every move through rather than acting impulsively.

Of course these four questions are a good checklist not just for chess but for any decision in business or life. All this stuff is gold. I really wished you could have focused more on presentation. Each episode could have been a 90min to 2hr documentary. TFX was too short to give it justice and too technical for light surface watching.

No idea why you chose that spot. The show tried to be entertaining and educational in the span of 20 minutes and achieved neither. Focus on one. Your show is covering a lot of my favorite hobbies-thanks for that!

How to Be Constantly Creative

The middle space, where your opponent has trouble advancing or retreating, is best for the guard player. I agree! You will frequently make errors. I really like the breakdown for decision making and those heuristics that are then put into place. Wish I was able to watch the full episode. Anyone know how to get access in the UK? Not having much luck with Itunes. Excellent post and follow-up comments — I love games that are mixture of strategy and chance like Poker and Risk — I guess because they most resemble real life.

One of the best tips related to games I ever got was from W. Natural learning is and always will be from the inside out, not vice versa. You are the learner and it your individual, internal learning process that ultimately governs your learning. You learn poker first and foremost by playing poker. Books about poker can be extremely helpful but to ultimately get really good at poker or any game or anything else you have to develop your own style, reflective of your own strengths and weaknesses, through observation and practice.

Someone explained to me the simple concept of EV or Expected Value. Using this concept I proceeded to always raise my blinds in Texas Hold-Em. Led to me winning a few poker games. Good booze money for a student. Having trouble at high levels? Work on fundamentals. Work on stances and basic kicks. Tripping over yourself sparring? Practice core techniques like block and counter or touch-control-hit or simple, effective footwork. When you become stuck on the particulars of advanced techniques, make a point of going back to and continuing to strengthen the foundations on which all of those things are built.

Advice courtesy of a BJJ black belt. He also was a certified hostage negotiator, and a former rodeo rider. Nice, really enjoyed this, Tim. Love the videos. Never try to do them simultaneously. My best tip is related to clay pigeon shooting. This way you account for the lead and the recoil. I immediately hit both clays. Whatever happened to the scenes we worked on together?? Thanks again Tim for the best thing about television since fast forward!

When I first started playing I thought I was being bullied because I was a girl. Once I was able to get over that emotion poker became easier. I have no idea about all the rules of bridge, only the KPIs. The only thing we can really count on is getting surprised. Conditions might not be calm or reasonable. It may feel as though the whole world is stacked against us. This is when we have to perform better than we ever conceived of performing. I believe the key is to have prepared in a manner that allows for inspiration, to have laid the foundation for us to create under the wildest pressures we ever imagined.

I used to believe that winners are able to plan and execute every detail of their strategy flawlessly and that in the end the best strategy will come out on top. When Joshua Waitzkin describes his mastery of chess and tai chi, he highlights the moments of uncertainty, the scores of variables and the losses he endured to reach the top. Ultimately, these are the very things that pushed him to the top, being able to experience every variation of a challenge enough to understand the root principals behind it!

I am now beginning to learn that the truly elite are those who are the most flexible, who focus on the conceptual principals and apply strategies almost instantly to any new obstacle. These are the performers who excel and are inspired by new challenges because they have prepared the tools needed succeed. It has always started and ended the same With his book Joshua Waitzken has inspired me to re-start my journey into the martial arts because he has demonstrated top performance is about depth of understanding not breath.

All of the episodes in your show are pure gems. I love seeing the raw materials of the shows as well like you did with this post on Poker. If you end up releasing more of it, that would be awesome. Thanks for everything Tim! Tiger Woods mid-Prime hired a swing coach who wrote a book on the experience. He said Tiger would hit 10 shots on the driving range, then sit. Also, forget being well rounded. Find your strength, exploit your strength, leverage your strength and be the best at what you do.

I had the great pleasure of spending 5 solid days teaching Tim to play poker. Here are a few of the many things I learned during the week:. I put together a comprehensive training plan that would prepare him as fully as possible in the time allotted, but only if he did the work. Poker is a game that is a perfect blend of math and psychology. Interestingly, Tim had more trouble with the math part than I had expected.

So, we worked around it. If you suck at one part of the game, do enough to get by, and excel and dive deeper in the other parts. Tim was an excellent student and took instruction brilliantly. I also let him tell me when he was ready to move on. Before each new section, Tim asked me to state clearly what we were about to tackle, why it was important, and how the skill fit into the larger picture.

Because he knew what we were tackling and why, he could effectively let me know when he was ready to move on. As I said earlier, we put in some incredibly long hours. It was also clear that they really cared about Tim. Treat your coworkers with respect. Hire the best you can. Give experts room to be experts and self-manage. Collaboration is the key. And, be nice. I had a blast. Want to chat more about the show?

In the moment you go all in or you bet you should have the better odds to win or at least positive pot odds. What I mean is and that is something a lot of beginners do: For example they have 27 and fold that preflop, but the flop turns out to be A lot of beginning players would be sad because they could easily win a big b pot with the nuts. But they are angry for no reason.

They did the best possible decision preflop because the odds of getting something with 27 are too small. To be honest, few months back I was a complete noob at poker. Just like you i have never played a single hand even though most of my mates were poker players and some of them were actually making a living out of it. I started playing poker because I felt I good probably make some money and stayed at it because I loved the game. Thanks, Joseph. Really appreciate the kind words. I heard Tony Robbins say this idea about business, yet this phrase pulses through my thoughts during every TRX, kickboxing, and boot camp class.

This tip powered my workouts up several notches. Yet, I can apply this tip to everything, including business, cooking, conversations, and sex. Put this idea to the test! I have tried and tried to get iTunes to let me buy your Experiment tv series, but it is not co-operative. I am writing to ask that if I download it from elsewhere, how I can send you some money for it, as I have received a lot of benefit from your works and firmly believe in paying for what I use. Instead, play your position at the table relative to that of your opponents.

This is accurate! The cards only matter when they will frequently be turned face up, which is when you are playing with a tiny stack. Please forgive me for this Tim and team but I am a big fan of your work and I got the chance to see you when you gave a talk for Alternatives in London a couple of years ago when promoting 4 Hour Chef.

Much love and respect. Enormous thanks for posting these notes and your video description. I was excited to see this as the poker episode was one of the ones I found most satisfying to learn from at home. This is actually from the movie The Patriot Mel Gibson is teaching his sons how to shoot British soldiers — aim for a single button on their chest , but it applied in my life to pitching in baseball.

Aim for a tiny spot, so that if you miss, it may still be close to where you want it. Shrink your mental margin of error and strive for an absurd level of perfection so that your bad days, your bad plays, your mistakes, are still excellent. Combine bodyweight, weightlifting and cardio. Make workouts last minutes and be as fast as possible or do as many as possible in assigned time.

Hi Tim. I love everything you produce. While there are times to use a chart mainly when your opponents are world-class and the stacks are short they leave a ton of money on the table against almost all players. I made this short video explaining my thoughts. I wish you infinite success in everything you do. We started at 1-pair, 2-pair… long way to go from there to playing good players heads up without a few shortcuts along the way! I agree that you must start somewhere. I loved the episode. Nice work. Thanks very much, Jonathan! Really wonderful to see you here.

Much obliged and hope to bump into you some day soon. The game is evolving so quickly, and there are many ways to learn, even for rank beginners. Play only solid hands. The best way to be successful in tackling a runner, or stopping them defensively is to watch their hips. If you need to check, tackle or neutralize them, wherever their hips point is where their body can go forward. Focus on the hips. Overall, it was pretty cool to see how Phil Gordon broke this down for you as a pure beginner.


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  • Good luck! In baseball, when playing infield start at least 5 steps back from your terminal position. As the pitcher is delivering the ball creep up and right before he hits his release point do a little hop. This will keep you fluid and ready to react. Some of the best advice I ever got actually came from Phil Gordon himself.

    As an avid tournament poker player, I immediately snapped it up. I found it very helpful and useful and it contained alot of great information on tournament play. One of the things that really stuck with me was the concept of inflection points. Inflection points are simple things like bust outs, bed beats, successful or unsuccessful hero calls, bluffs, etc. These are points within the poker tournament that we all see, but rarely deal with on a deeper level.

    At least a level and in terms that we can and should exploit. This one single concept in paying more attention to the dynamics of the table and having a strategy to exploit them via action or conscious inaction paid for the cost of the DVD many, many times over. I also took down a very nice score at a daily tournament at the Sahara…and others. But more importantly, it helped to give me a life strategy.

    Business situations, personal interactions, etc. I am now always looking for these inflection points with an eye to position myself for the best possible outcome. Because of this, I pay more attention. The results of this, I think, have made be a better person…from a single piece of poker advice. I took a long break from the tables to focus on business. I know I will be using inflection points and other things I have learned for Phil. And who knows?

    Maybe a good coaching lesson before I head out? Most players mistakenly try to limit their risk. Game selection is crucial. In tournaments you want to pick the best format in terms of starting stack, length of rounds, rebuy or freezout. And of course , buyin amount.

    Pick formats where you have an edge. I spend a lot of time each month doing that. My kids 11,7, and 4 all competed at the tournament. This advice was given to us because when you play a tougher opponent by trading pieces it reduces the number of complexities and things to watch out for. It proved to useful as I felt my kids as a whole had one of their best chess outings.