Out There: A Voice From The Wild Book Review

out there a voice from the wild

Out There tells a pensive, thought provoking and immersive story of being outdoors. In it, author Chris Townsend fleshes out his 40-year experience of climbing mountains and walking cross-country. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of — at least by travel junkies and myself.

That said, Out There is very much an approachable book. Most other outdoors books are usually bogged-down by technical mumbo-jumbo and humblebrag feats of conquest. On the other hand, Townsend writes as if his adventures could be done by anyone, and implied that he himself started out as a clueless beginner.

He does advice being prepared, but he says so in a manner that is welcoming, warm and inspiring. An outdoorsman through and through, he shares the lessons of his errors, like how a torch could have kept him from stumbling over rocks and falling into bogs.

But aside from those helpful bits of tips, I was awed by Townsend’s clear-sightedness and thoughtfulness. It’s as if his opinions were patiently and carefully distilled during his hours of solemn contemplation while on the trail. This is obvious throughout Out There — which is actually a collection of his best articles. The articles were originally published in the John Muir Trust Journal, Adventure Travel, The Great Outdoors and other magazines.

Townsend is an evangelist of his own view of what the outdoor life is: going through the roads less traveled, figuring out an itinerary as you go, and setting up “stealth camps” to encounter wildlife more often. But he is never preachy, and that is obviously a good thing. Fans of writings about great adventures will also find a lot to explore into in Out There. There’s the immersive stories of ski touring explorations, like those in the Yukon and Spitsbergen. And there’s the awe-inspiring accounts from his “major” expeditions, notably the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile walk to Canada from Mexico.

Out There: A Voice From The Wild is now available in paperback and digital format. It is published by the Sandstone Press LTD, who also published Chris Townsend’s other books like the Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams.

My Opinions on Tankless Water Heaters

In the past, having that giant water heater taking up valuable real estate in the basement or garage was just a regular part of life. But not only was it mammoth in size, it also wasn’t entirely efficient at heating water fast. Even worse, having that water sit around in a tank meant that it was more susceptible to picking up scale or rust.

Thankfully though, dealing with that huge, old, inefficient water heater doesn’t have to be a reality anymore. With the advent of tankless water heaters, space and efficiency are no longer the big issues they once were. These new eco-friendly heaters save you money and space — and that makes them a wise investment.

A tankless water heater (photo by Navien).

A tankless water heater (photo by Navien).

With that said, I share below what I think are the best tankless water heaters on the market right now. In my opinion, these are the good ones that I found while looking for a replacement of our tank-style heater (which just broke down and is beyond repair).

Navien Water Heater

With traditional tank-style heaters, people tended to have to wait a few minutes for the water to heat up. Not so with tankless water heaters. With condensing technology and high-quality heat exchangers, the hot water comes out nearly instantly, in a highly-efficient manner that saves you money on your gas or electric bill.

And since all of Navien’s water heaters come with a remote control, it’s easy to adjust settings or make changes without a lot of fuss — even when that tankless heater is in a location that’s less-than-ideal to access easily. Some models even come with “intelligent preheating,” meaning the heater has the ability to recognize the hot water usage patterns in your building, and will pre-heat water accordingly.

And even better for the environment, the Navien brand takes special care to avoid emitting noxious gases into the air. You could check out a review of a Navien water heater to know more.

Rheem Water Heaters

Like other models of tankless heaters, the advantage of Rheem brand water heaters is their small size. Another selling point of this brand is the wide selection of model sizes, so you’re sure to get just the right size for the space in which you’ll be using the heater, with the option to choose models that run either on electric, propane or natural gas. With water output options that range from 1.5 gallons per minute all the way up to 9 gallons per minute, you can choose your model based on how much hot water your household uses.

Rinnai Water Heaters

Rinnai’s line of water heaters are, like some other brands, Energy Star Qualified, so you can rest assured knowing that you’re getting an efficient machine that will save you money on your overall utility bills — as well as options for tax credits and energy rebates. With temperature lock options and built-in recirculation features, Rinnai’s heaters will deliver the hot water you want, at the time and temperature that you want it most.

You can choose among different natural gas or propane models, all with a condensing technology that ensures you get your hot water without a lot of excess waste. Most Rinnai water heaters are relatively high-output, at up to 9.8 gallons of water per minute.

Getting Your Voice Heard Through Vinyl Records

I’m on a music binge, so I decided that I would pick up where I left off in my previous post. I’d like to talk about one of the ways to “relive” recorded music, and that is through good old vinyl records. The format is again becoming a means of recording and distributing songs from musicians (especially indie rock bands).

Musicians are particular about the sound that they are creating. Every note or instrument has to be just right, or they just wouldn’t sound “them.” It’s totally understandable for musicians to be discerning about what they put out. After all, it’s their voice, it’s their expression — it’s essentially “them” that they are putting out.


When you’re as concerned as most musicians about getting the music just right, it also follows that you’re going to be concerned about which formats you record onto. And in my opinion, that’s exactly why vinyl is the best choice. Simply put, it enables you to express yourself better. Here’s why.

Remember that vinyl is the only format that is completely lossless — so even when you play it on a cheap record player (like these), the music will still sound more natural, more “organic.” You can transfer your studio recordings from a magnetic tape directly to the record with almost no loss of quality. So from a musician’s perspective, you’re giving your listeners the best possible experience by putting your album out on vinyl. You’re giving them an experience that’s as close to your original recording as possible.

If you can deliver that kind of experience to people, isn’t it likely that they’ll respond? And doesn’t that make your expression — your song — more meaningful?

In a lot of ways, musicians are like other artists. They learn about a new, easier way to do something (in this case, recording and producing music through completely digital means), and before they know it, the old ways have gone by the wayside. Factor in things like costs, and it’s even more of a loss for the more traditional forms of anything.

Think of a photographer. Many don’t use film anymore because it costs a lot more than digital photography — but they forget that digital files might not actually last as long as they thought (not to mention that you could lose everything if the files get corrupted).

To the seasoned musician, that analogy should be yet another reason to make music that is playable on cheap record players, instead of only through digital means. And by putting out analog copies, musicians can get their voices heard through a medium that’s more personal, intimate and relatable.

Expressing One’s Self by Recording Music

Music is probably the most interesting way to express one’s self. Even with just a few notes, music can already convey someone’s feelings and emotions. And often, you don’t even need lyrics or even a single word to be able to describe your mood.

Making use of music as a medium for expressing one’s self is probably as old as time itself. You can tell who a musician is by listening to his compositions, in the same way that you can tell who someone is based on his friends. After all, an artist’s music can be influenced by the generation and culture surrounding him. But still, songs are more of a personal expression than the amalgamation of environmental factors.

For me, music is more substantial than blog posts or other forms of writing (which I nonetheless love just as much). With writing though, it’s easy to “capture” an expression by using only a pen and paper at most. Whereas with music, you’ll have to use recording studio equipment (like the ones on this article) that are anything but cheap. But then, they do allow you to capture even more dimensions from an expression.

Music is multidimensional — so much so that it allows you to vividly express how you are feeling. For example, you might have had a tough day so you vent out your frustrations by playing guitar. With home recording studio equipment, you can “extract” your heavy feeling into a guitar riff. Then, you can add more dimensions or layers like lyrics and other instruments to make your expression more experiential.

Speaking of experience, recording studio equipment allow you to relive your expression again in the future. Recording music is just like taking a photograph — you are capturing a moment wherein you are expressing joy, sadness and everything in between.