The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Feb 2010

Twitter Confounds Olympians

Lindsey Vonn has posted on her Twitter account that she will not be tweeting during the Vancouver Games because it's against Olympic policy. But there's actually no such policy, reports. Bob Condron, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, says that athletes are allowed to blog and post on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as long as they post in first-person--not as a journalist--and they don't include mention of sponsors that aren't official partners of the Olympics, which includes a ban on photos that reference sponsors.

Condron says that although some athletes are confused about the rules, he expects heavy tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging during the Games: "These are going to be the Twitter Olympics. There'sno telling where the updates will come from. It could be the benchduring a hockey game, or even on the medal stand."

You can check out our list of the top ten Olympic athletes on Twitter and follow the Olympians on our Twittter page.

--Aileen Torres

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Lose Weight on Super Bowl Sunday

Chips Jamie Dukes, a former NFL lineman for the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals, is on a mission this Super Bowl Sunday, reports. This day sees the highest food consumption of the year, apart from Thanksgiving, and Dukes wants you to put down those chips and get healthy by watching what you eat.

Dukes, who will cover Sunday's game between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts on the NFL Network, has become an advocate for eating less and exercising more ever since he found himself battling with obesity after his retirement in 1996. He went from 290 to about 400 pounds and resorted to getting his stomach stapled in 2008 after not being able to get his weight down. He saw several ex-NFL friends of his die of obesity, and he wants to spread a cautionary word.

"Use Super Bowl Sunday as your New Year'sresolution part deux," Dukes says. "This is the day where all the foodis being consumed and so you have to do something to work that foodoff." He recommends getting off the couch and tossing a football around during the game breaks.

--Aileen Torres

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

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Kick Kennedy

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The dynastic brothers are gone, but up comes the next generation. Kick, 21, a senior at Stanford, has quietly built a résumé fighting for water conservation. In 2006, she joined an Imax crew filming Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk and became an ambassador for dad Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Waterkeeper Alliance. In January she attempted Tanzania's 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro for the Summit on the Summit, an awareness-raising trip for water issues. Grayson Schaffer spoke with her before she left.

Which Kennedy are you again?
Give me one and I'll relate myself.

He's my grandfather.

How'd you get named?
My great aunt Kathleen. Her personality was a kick.

She was a badass, right?
I don't want to say badass, but definitely rambunctious. She went to England to help out with the Red Cross during World War II. She died in a plane crash with the man she intended to marry. He wasn't Catholic; my great-grandmother didn't approve.

When did water become a big issue for you?
I grew up on the water sailing, swimming, fishing but it's only been during the past four years that I've gotten involved publicly in advocacy.

What's the Summit on the Summit all about?
I hope we can broaden public knowledge. Water is a precious resource, and we're misusing it flagrantly. One billion people don't have access to clean water. I hope we can work toward strategies to fight the water crisis.

How are you fitting this trip into school? Are you on the Chelsea Clinton program or something?
Wait, there was a Chelsea Clinton program? I can't imagine my professors giving me that deal. I'll get the reading done before Kilimanjaro, because I'm going to need my beauty sleep.

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Discovery's Life Series: Whales In Heat

"Tonga is one of the few places where you can get in the water with humpbacks. The caveat is that you can't scuba-dive; the bubbles disturb the whales. We'd go out each day in a small boat and try to spot a blow on the surface. I'd sit with my camera for ten hours. We were trying to film the heat run, when several males chase a female. After two weeks we got lucky, spotted a huge heat run heading offshore. They're moving fast. You try to get ahead, then you drop in the water quietly, freedive down, and wait for the whales—ten amorous, 50-ton males barreling toward a lucky female. It's a shallow dive, about 35 feet. From the moment they come into visibility, you have about 15 seconds to film. Four or five steamed past, and I was running out of air. I started to come up and then saw there was one more coming. You never want to see something like that blocking your way to the surface."

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Discovery's Life Series

Ever since Discovery's Planet Earth shattered cable viewing records, producers have been scrambling to cash in on the public's rekindled affection for wildlife television. First came Disney's Disneynature brand, which borrowed Planet Earth footage and called its big-screen production Earth. Now, on March 21, Discovery returns with Life, an 11-episode series narrated by Oprah Winfrey and, like Planet Earth, co-produced by the BBC. Whereas Planet Earth broke down the globe by ecosystem, each Life episode focuses on a different animal group. But as with Planet Earth, the real wonder is how the hell they got those images. We decided to find out.

"We wanted to film a dragon hunt, which had never been done. We went in the dry season, when there was one good watering hole left on the island. We knew the buffalo needed to go there. From the ranger station to the hole, it was a 3.5-mile hike with a 70-pound camera. At noon, the buffaloes would come to the watering hole. For days the dragons showed no interest. On the sixth day a buffalo walked toward me, flicking blood over its back with its tail. Within minutes, dragons were walking toward it. The next day we got our first bite. Then we decided to follow the buffalo with the bitten leg. Five days after the bite, the wound opened, swelled, and festered. The buffalo would be limping with five dragons following. It became upsetting. We'd gotten to know that buffalo. One day a big dragon bit it three times. It happened in fading light and we had to leave. We hardly slept that night and ran up the hill at sunrise. The buffalo had died. There were nine dragons ripping it to pieces. They ate everything but the bones and walked away with their bellies rubbing the ground."

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