Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Fun Continues ...

Last week my friend John (one of my friends named John) and I went for an quick backpacking trip -- 26 hours including book-ending espressos. After an easy hike to a sweet campsite off trail a bit from a couple of quintessential Utah lakes, I'd thought we'd enjoy a short and relaxing pre-dinner hike with packs-off and views like this:

Instead, John trudged us up a scree/rock pile (not really pictured, right edge of the above photo, left edge of the next one) and then across an absurdly narrow boulder-y spine ... we started about halfway in the next picture and headed toward the camera in attempt to summit a peak that John never had. We made it pretty far, at times basically rock climbing, but we finally had to turn back ... at some point dangling on boulders with a cliff on each side loses its appeal.

Given that it was pretty much the longest night of the year, we had plenty of time to kill, even after an epic Epic, so we decided to strive for the most unabashedly cliched outdoor photo ever:

The night we got back was birthday night #2 arranged by Jeanine (this time around, a fun gathering of our Salt Lake friends at Squatters). The fun continues ... and narcissists need two birthday weekends when they turn 40.

Stay tuned for a surprising entry next ...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Turning 40, Part II

Having dispensed with a bit of elegiac angst a few entries ago, I was free to enjoy a wonderful 40th birthday. The night before, Jeanine took me for a killer meal at Forage. I love that Salt Lake has ample pretension (the waiter would not tell us where they secured the wild blossoms put in our bowl before the chef came around and poured "ham tea" over them from a Chinese tea pot) but is small enough to allow chefs to collect wild blossoms nearby for the tasting menu. And the pretension was backed up by a seriously good meal. Honestly the sweet pea dessert was an all-timer. The ambiance was also top-notch. We commented upon arrival that the music was somewhat loud but tolerable for its early-2000s lowfi vibe. We were enjoying some Coldplay when the waiter abruptly came around the corner to change it. We laughed and asked why, and he proclaimed it too "upbeat." About 10 minutes later, the Cure's wonderful "Just Like Heaven" comes on and Jeanine looks at me and says "Oh, this will never fly, way too upbeat" as the waiter comes rushing around the corner to kill the aggressive beat of the Cure. We labeled him "the cleaner." When in Forage, expect mellow. 

My actual birthday was one of those design-your-ideal-day kind of days: a hike/trail run in the foothills, lunch at Epic Brewery (I got a head start the night before with my current favorite beer; note the serious "I drink saisons" expression) and a Salt Lake Bees game with a bunch of friends. It was dark, but you can see how idyllic the view is from behind home plate. The little girl is our friend Ryan and Cara's Anabel on a serious sugar high. Note also that her proclaimed favorite food -- ketchup -- dominates the front of her dress by this point in the evening.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jumping off the Gerbil Wheel

Hi everyone. Let's start with the best news of all: on May 17 our first niece, Gianna -- her parents are Jeanine's brother, Chris, and Christine -- was born. I can't wait to meet her ... c'mon oil, keep ticking down!

Has it really been 6 weeks since I posted? Sam says that for a blog to work, it must be updated at least once a week. So I'll try that pace for the rest of the summer (cancel your automatically generated e-mails now ...) But there was nothing I could do ... the "white paper" that I wrote for the ABC This Week debate nearly finished me off and put me completely behind on everything else I needed to get done, including checking the page proofs for the Minnesota in the 1930s/Contract Clause case book. (And btw, I can safely say that it's hard to move the needle on a national policy discussion, such as we even have rational national discussions; not one of the 349 comments on Paul Krugman's blog entry about the debate mentioned my paper ... and the debate itself was proof that the emperor has no clothes. I think George Will needs a basic reading list in economic history.) Luckily for all of you, that's about all I can remember from the last couple months of the semester -- in fact the entire academic year is now just a hazy blur of copy edits, page proofs, indexes, etc. Of course it's not just me -- this video shows how Jeanine and I feel a lot of the time. But at least we're on it together:

Anyway, goodbye to all that. The books are all but out. Here's the unofficial (and I dare say very cool -- thanks University Press of Kansas) cover for the MN one:

Stay tuned for the fantastic cover that Chicago designed for the State and the Stork, as well. This book is going to be so huge, however, that I don't want to give a head start to some enterprising criminal who would undoubtedly hack into my copy editor's computer, cobble together a pirated book, and start selling it for serious cashish.

Anyway, now I'm in Salt Lake trying to get off the gerbil wheel. This should be the best summer since I started grad school. My back has pretty much healed **, I'm learning to love being online only 4 hours a day as opposed to 12, and I've already tripled for 2012 my 10-year moving average of golf rounds per year. Jeanine is even adjusting to the strange fact that I'm not on edge around the clock.

** Note: this is an unofficial and inconclusive comment, not to be interpreted as disrespectful to the back gods. I don't want to jinx it. Take it from me folks, learn dynamic stretching and how to warm up. But right at the end of the semester I did run my first race since the injury and managed a third place finish (in a weak field). Apparently a back injury and crappy training for two months takes about 90 seconds off my 5k time.

Jeanine and I went to Vegas over Memorial Day. (When in Vegas, we prefer the Suncoast. Thank you Phyllis and Richard!) How did I do? Well, let's just say that the Orioles picked a bad time to go on their first losing streak of the year. But let's also say that if Luke Donald wins the US Open, we're up for the trip. Outside of the casinos, I played golf on the amazing Wolf course with Uncle Richard and the chief of the Paiute nation (playing with the chief meant that we had the first tee time and the whole course in front of us). Yes, I found the water on the first island green hole I've ever played, but, just for the record, the wind was about 30 miles per hour and the ball landed damn close to the hole but then took a giant hop into the drink. We managed to find the best bar in America, too -- the only one I know of with both Carlsberg and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA on tap. And if you ever find yourself in Vegas, ask us for a Thai restaurant recommendation. Finally, we hiked/ran in the Red Rocks National Conservation Area and learned that you can in fact freeze in Vegas without a long-sleeve shirt. Look ma, a generic doesn't-do-it-justice smartphone picture of dry and rocky western hills: