Friday, December 14, 2012

That's It

As my office-mate Jim says (well OK, I say it more now), "that's it." As in, that's all folks. J'ai fini. I'm in Salt Lake now, and once I grade an enormous virtual pile of papers, I'm on sabbatical and counting down to Germany. Sure, I'm looking forward to starting a new main research project, and dusting off a couple of little ones, and I have the usual sabbatical goals like finally cleaning up my computer's files, learning how to work the streaming Netflix, getting my German beyond its present "beer please," and watching every episode of The Inbetweeners. But mostly, I just plan to become this guy. I have no idea who he is, but he's definitely an inspiration.

And speaking of gratuitous pictures of skiers, our friend Sean always gives me grief for reading Men's Journal. So I felt wonderfully vindicated when I saw that Kris Freeman, who might be in the best shape of any male in America,

has finished 4th in World Championship races (despite having diabetes), and has modeled on the cover of Outside to boot,

Still brushes up on his manliness by reading MJ.

Brian: do not let Katie read this entry.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Important Updates

1) My college roommate Jason suggests that Alexander von Humboldt looks more like Bill O'Reilly than George C. Scott. (I don't see it. Any thoughts?) 2) Forget about three podiums in two weekends -- how about five podiums in three weekends!? Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won the two-person sprint Friday outside of the Parliament in Quebec (a historic first for the US), and Randall won the individual sprint Saturday. This is getting serious. We're talking societal tipping point here. She's got to make Sportscenter's Top Ten Plays of the weekend ... Finally, 3) bad news on the roundabout statue front (see two entries below). Despite my fervent lobbying, your Arts and Humanities Advisory Board is not going through with a recommendation to the city commission of the knife-through-the-bread design. In the spirit of excessive deliberative democracy, and apparently fearing some sort of backlash if we spent $170,000 on a copper loaf of bread, the committee decided to re-open the bidding process for another 90 days so that we can have more designs to chose from. But I fear the mob if the people have to wait that much longer for their art.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Das Ist Gut

Holy ^&%$# where did November go? All has been a blur since the election. But Jeanine and I did get some fantastic news: because Jeanine is such a kick-ass researcher, she won a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship from a (state-sponsored) German foundation. So we'll be headed to Tübingen -- the Charlottesville of southern Germany -- where Jeanine will be based at the Max Plank Institute (where she already has some collaborators). Thank you rational nations that still support research! We're aiming to be there from sometime in February all the way through the summer (I'll be on sabbatical, by the way). Of course, I had already started reading a great book about Humboldt, my new hero, before we heard the news.

Um, doesn't he sort of look like the actor George C. Scott?

Turns out Humboldt was an incredibly important late-seventeenth and eighteenth-century explorer and scientist who pretty much invented ecology (he coined the term "cosmos"), influenced Thoreau and Muir, and, if you want to exaggerate it, created modern environmentalism.

This entry henceforth has absolutely no consistent theme. Unless you'll allow that Germany brings us to beer and meat, and we had a beer-y and meat-y Thanksgiving break (which was the best part of the week, given Jeanine was sick, I was grading relentlessly, I arrived too late to enjoy the fantastic-but-sadly-it-seems-not-season-pattern-setting early snowstorm, and K-State saw its national championship chances end brutally in Waco). With Chris, a friend visiting from Australia, and Cindy, one of Jeanine's college roommates who happens to be living in Park City for the year (yeah), and, of course, John, we had this meal, which was truly spectacular. There is no doubt that the current meat craze uses the localvore movement as a front for old-fashioned gluttony, but whatever: 

Sorry for the small print. Google seems to think that the JPEG of the original is too large. Anyway, we liked Finca so much (how can you not like lamb belly twice in one meal?), that we returned a few days later with our new friends Brian and Katie, at which point we learned that they want $45 for the bottle of Moab Scotch Ale. Another great meal, even if their shrimp tapa(s?) can't touch the legendary grilled giant shrimp dish at Mas in Charlottesville.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I flew to KC, drove to Topeka, and then immediately ran a 5K with Sam and Gretchen. I just missed the "invitational" race (for those with sub-23 minute 5Ks), so I ended up "winning" the non-invitational race. I felt like a fraud running behind the motorcycle cop, but hey, I drove as fast as I could from the airport and just missed the earlier one. I was feeling great and headed for the low 18s (it's a fast, flat course through downtown Topeka), but about 2 miles in I got a bad cramp down the side of my stomach. True, I stupidly went out too fast, running the first mile sub-6, but I'm chalking this one up to excessive hydration -- I was so worried about racing two hours after getting off a plane that I drank way too much, even paying for a bottle of water in the airport! I can truthfully say that the last mile was one of the most miserable I've ever had in a race, but I limped in at 19:16, which would have been about 18:45 had the course not been a tenth too long -- good enough for an age group 2nd. Sam, who leads a charmed life, continued his habit of setting PRs with little training. From Topeka we proceeded to the Rieger Grill in Kansas City, which I thoroughly recommend for anyone enjoying the said meat craze. The pork cheek pie and the rabbit were excellent. The next day (after a meat-y brunch), we met Brent at the Chiefs/Broncos game. The Chiefs are truly horrible, and yet somehow Peyton Manning could not cover the spread, thereby ensuring that Sam, who leads a charmed life, won yet another bet against me.

This past weekend was the Winter Runderland, the traditional last race of the year on Manhattan's circuit. (Thankfully we all passed on the Donut Run, which required eating 3 donuts at mile 1 and then 3 more at mile 2.5. Now if it had been ribs ...). This day I avenged my August loss to the new-to-town minister. He went out too fast, and so I caught him about mile 2, after the hills, and then pretty much shadowed until about 100 yards remaining, when I finally had the dramatic sprint pass at the end I've been seeking ... er, too bad it earned me only 7th. Rob also won his age group, and Brent podiumed too. A very solid outing capped (in the spirit of this entry) by fried chicken at Ramblers. Lydia, be sure to show Owen my finish by clicking here, then clicking results, my name, and video.

Wir sehen uns bei der Nordischen Skiweltmeisterschaft in VdF! Considering that the U.S. women already have three podiums in only two World Cup weekends, including a historical first medal in a relay, it's going to be an epic world championships.