Friday, December 19, 2008

it's official, just like that

Yes, it's 2:08 in the morning and in another three hours i've got to go to the airport to fly to Indiana for my commencement. but what's more exciting (and a tad bit anticlimatic as i sit here tired as hell all by myself) is that i just submitted my dissertation in all of it's complete, revised, approved glory.

Clicking the mouse to submit.

Confirmation that it was in fact submitted (and my credit card was charged).

Yup, with this new, fancy internet thing, submitting a dissertation is as easy as clicking a mouse (and entering your CC number for the various charges). All 12 years it took me to get here brought to an end with a mouse click. damn!

Now what am i going to do with myself? And what am i going to do with this blog. It's raison d'etre is now nonexistent.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

one too many


I came into the final CX race of the series in 2nd place. I left in 4th after a lousy 14th place finish. Started out feeling good, but quickly faded and just sat in for 45 minutes. Too many papers to grade, too little sleep, and not enough riding. Fortunately i only have weeks like this a couple of times a year; too bad it matched up with the week of the double points race finale this semester.

It looks like i'm leading out, but don't be fooled. I'm really just trying to stay in the top 15.

TW did great this year, especially considering she just started riding in August. She kicked ass in the women's B, upgraded to the women's A, and held her own there as well. If she can keep her knees out of the dirt she'll be a serious threat next year.

Notice a pattern. I sure have lots of photos of TW's bloody knees and elbows.

The artist came to the finale with his game face (and something from a country music video) on.


video

This is not a slow-motion replay. He actually is going that slow up the hill, but it was the final lap after two hours of racing at LT threshhold and he's still running.



And congrats to DC. Even though he looks like he's just out for an Z1 recovery ride in these pics, he killed it this year to take the 35+ B series title.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

QoS Index

Now that i'm studying economics i've learned that economists are fond of acronyms and graphs correlating lots of things together. Sometimes just one graph isn't enough, so they line up four or even six graphs side by side and draw lines from one graph to another to show how stuff like fiscal policy will affect interest rates or inflation or price level or employment (unless you're a neoclassical economist and believe we're always at full employment) or any other number of things. It makes my head hurt because i'm not used to seeing the world in graphs like this, but in an attempt to become better at it i have developed my own way of indexing the correlation in my life between quality of sleep and number of papers to grade. I call it the Quality of Sleep index, or QoS for short. It's really very simple. The higher the stack of papers, the lower the quality of sleep.

For example, this is the stack of papers that was recently on my kitchen table. As you can imagine from the height of the stack, i have not enjoyed real quality sleep for the last few days (nor have i had time to post on my blog). My students are fond of blaming me for having too much to grade. They say if i didn't assign as much, i wouldn't have to grade as much. True, but you wouldn't learn as much either. I think i'm going to have to create another graph or means to measure this and correlate it to the Q0S and try to establish where the point of equilibrium lies. Economists are also very fond of finding the point of equilibrium.

At any rate, the stack is much smaller tonight, so i'm looking forward to a good night's rest. Unfortunately my writing students have two more papers due in the next week, so the reprieve is short lived and as the stack of papers grows higher again, my quality of sleep will once again decline.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

DC lied to me.

Before the race today DC told me he hadn't ridden all week and wasn't feeling that great. Then he went out and killed it again, two weeks in a row. I'm not going to believe him anymore.

A few vids from the A and 35+ A races and the super-muddy run up.


video

video
video

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes we can!!

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes


Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?


I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

CX is fun (and muddy)


It was perfect blustery fall this morning when i got up and took the dogs out, but by about 11:00 it started to clear. The clouds parted here and there and the sun poked out a little and i thought we might have warm temps again for our race, but about 20 min. before start time a big cold front rolled in and brought more wind and rain. I was drenched before i had even finished a warm-up lap.
The race started really well for me, for about the first 500 meters. I got a good sprint off the line and was sitting right behind DC and Pasternaky coming into the first transition from dirt road to single track. With about 15 guys chasing hard behind me i laid it down sideways and skidded across the grass. Another guy t-boned my bike and did a beautiful endo right over the handlebars. Amidst the mayhem i grabbed my bike and jumped back on, but was now in about tenth position as opposed to 3rd. For the next three laps i worked hard and made my way back up to about 4th or 5th. I had come around a few guys on a straight away and had only one more guy ahead of me before i was in 3rd. I was sitting on his wheel into a tight, muddy corner and he went down, and i went down right on top of him (i know a few posts ago i said i didn't believe in karma, but this has made me reconsider).
While i was picking my bike back up, the six guys i had passed all swept by me, and i was playing catch up again. The crash had caused my front wheel to burp, however, and my rear tire skewer to come loose, so i rode half a lap with a low front tire and a loose back tire until i could get to the pit and change bikes. By the time i got going again i was out of contention for a good finish, so i just tried not to get caught.

TW flatted out on the first lap, but she got to hang out and cheer with this guy.



And super props for the superamiga support crew who came out in the cold, wind and rain to bang pots and pans and cheer me on, even while i was bringing up the rear of the pack.


Despite the lousy finish, i was bummed when i realized that we are more than half way through CX season. Only five more races! What a downer!

Oh Yea, but the worst part of the day was that my hot water heater went out yesterday, so i wasn't able to go home and take a hot bath. I was tempted to get in the hot tub, but was too dirty (it's amazing how much of that mud can get through your clothes). Instead i just opted not to bathe at all until i get the hot water heater fixed tomorrow. Probably doesn't matter much anyway because i spent most of the day before and after the race cleaning up the mucky, stinky basement which had been flooded by the leaking water heater.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

CX is fun (and bloody)


I'm not gonna lie, RMR has never been my favorite venue for a CX race; too much gravel, no single track. Even after the new course today, that continues to be true. So far this year the venues have been great, but i wasn't real fond of the thick gravel and motocross woopdeedoos (ok the woopdeedoos were kind of fun, but the gravel sucked). They moved the course from winding around the oval to the motocross track (and gravel parking lot and then some more of the gravel parking lot), and although some aspects were better, it definitely didn't favor my strengths; actually accentuated my weaknesses, namely that i'm a lousy technical rider. The gravel took lots of riders out today, including TW who models her post-race legs in the pic above. Despite going down a few times, however, she still managed an impressive showing of 3rd place, even after upgrading to the women's A group.


video
The run-up and up and down (watch the third guy's technique for the 2nd barricade).


The nasty gravel corner that took out countless riders (though by the time i took this pic at the end of the day a lot of the gravel had been pushed away from the corner making it a lot cleaner than it had been for most of the races).

The run-up and down.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

inspiration



The words of Haile Selassie through the musical inspirations of Bob Marley



I first became familiar with Edwin Starr's song "War" when Frankie Goes to Hollywood covered it in the 80s, but these days i'm digging the force with which the Boss belts it out.

a few more suggestions

Given that the Republicans aren't fairing so well nationally, and inspired by today's news about Exxon's record breaking profits, i have a few suggestions for extending the Utah Republican Party "i can" campaign to national politics, as well as a few more suggestions for the Utah Republican Party.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fort BV

Congrats to TW for winning again! Even after knocking the course markers down, taking a wrong turn, and ending up mid pack on the 2nd lap, she still managed to work her way past everyone and win by a convincing gap (she must have a good coach). No more B races for her. Time to move up to the A group.


video

I didn't fare quite as well. Sloppy mount at the start put me in about 7th or 8th position around the first turn. I passed a few guys, but the lead group of 3 was away by the time i made it through the traffic and i could never catch up. Pasternaky worked his way up to join Leakman and i, but Leakman crashed out superman style on the barriers, so Pasternaky and i rode circles together for the last few laps and came in 4th/5th with a pretty good gap on the rest of the group.


video

Can't wait for the new course out at RMR this weekend.

Monday, October 27, 2008

red-baiting and what's wrong with spreading the wealth around anyway?

The red-baiting that was prominent during the red scares and which has been resurrected with a vengeance by the McCain camp should frighten us all. As election day draws near the McCain camp has increased its attacks on Obama as a "socialist" who will destroy the U.S. through his big-government tax plan. With the assertion that Obama is a socialist, understood within the context of red-baiting, is the notion that socialism is antithetical to freedom and democracy
(and to take it a step further that freedom and democracy go hand in hand with individual property rights):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/25/palin-obamas-tax-plans-co_n_137851.html


There are so many problems inherent in this particular attack it's comical, but also disheartening because such a baseless claim has been so effectively used to scare so many voters, and even more disheartening that the accumulation of individual wealth has become such a top priority for so many U.S.ers that such an attack is not only considered valid, but since the final Presidential Debate, has even became a centerpiece of the McCain campaign.

While Palin told crowds that Obama's tax plan "sounds like 'socialism'" to her, McCain was scaring voters with the threat that Obama was going to "spread your wealth around." "That's one of the tenets of socialism," he told Chris Wallace on FoxNews.

My immediate response: "what's wrong with that?"

When 2% of the world's total population control over half of the total household wealth and when CEOs' pay increased almost 300% from 1990 to 2005, while production workers gained a scant 4.3% (adjusted for inflation) and the purchasing power of the federal minimum wage actually declined by 9.3%, (when inflation is taken into account), it's time to spread the wealth around.

I'm a bit amazed that McCain can take this unbridled selfishness and get away with making it a major point of his campaign with such huge crowd support. Maybe i shouldn't be.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Break

I had lots of good intention to ride and write a lot this week over fall break. Unfortunately, i didn't get much of either done. Tuesday evening i came down with the nasty cold that has been going around and that waylaid my best plans. Instead of getting lots of miles in on the bike or finishing my diss revisions i spent a good part of my fall break right here:


By friday the worst of the sore throat had passed and i was mostly just contending with cough attacks and phlegm so i decided to get out for a ride. I felt alright, so saturday morning i determined to go race, even though i was still sniffling a lot. After a few warm-up laps i wasn't feeling too strong, and almost decided to sit this one out, but talked myself into at least starting the race. "You can pull out if you're feeling real lousy," i told myself. So i started, and i hung in with the leaders the first few laps. Team Revolution (Pasternak, Sherwin, and I) opened up a fair lead on most of the pack, thanks in part to some other riders crashing out over the bunnyhop log.

TW runs the small log that claimed quite a few riders who were bunnyhopping it.

After four of five laps it was down to Pasternak, Sherwin, a ski utah cyclist (Taft), and I. With three laps to go Pasternak got a little too showy with his bunnyhops and went down over the log, leaving Sherwin, Taft, and I. On the last lap, after the barricades i jumped and came around both of them on a corner, hoping to either draw Taft into an attack so i could block for Sherwin, or just take it, though honestly, since i have been sick, i didn't think i would have much for a sprint against two riders i had been struggling to hang onto for the last few laps. I'm not sure what happened behind me because i didn't turn around to look once i jumped, but i suspect Sherwin blocked for me and i made it through the technical multiple turns of the race and across the finish line in first place. Wow! Didn't expect that, especially since i hadn't ridden much all week and have been fighting this lousy cold. But a big thanks to my teammates for my first cycling win ever. Finally!

TW also rode strong and won her race by quite a margin. I promised her that when she won a race she would get props and pics on my blog, so Congrats!! Do it again next week!!


Much to my dismay, the weekend is almost over, which means fall break is more-or-less over, and i didn't get shit done. Feeling just a bit overwhelmed right now with all the stuff i've got to do, and not sure how it's going to happen. i think i'll go ride my bike.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

i can

The Utah Republican Party has launched a new ad campaign that oh so cleverly plays on the "i can" at the end of Republ-i-can. It's a feel-good campaign meant to highlight how good we have it here in Utah and how much we have the Utah Republican Party to thank for such prosperity. Utah does have one of the strongest economies in the nation, and for that i'm grateful, although the current financial meltdown has effected us as well, leading to a recent special legislative session to address the state deficit. But all is not as rosy as the Republicans would have us believe. The current financial crisis is largely a result of Republican deregulation and one not need spend much time on capital hill to realize that racism and homphobia persist. Utah has consistently ranked as one of the nations biggest polluters. And although we spend a larger percentage of our state budget on education than almost any other state we still have the lowest per-pupil spending. Many Utah politicos counter that despite the low per-pupil-funding, we have some of the highest achieving students. They omit, however, that we also have one of the largest achievement gaps between white and minority students (and it's not getting any better), and that even white students in Utah score below the national average on standardized test scores.
So, here are a few suggestions for other ads, though i don't think you're going to see these on billboards along I-15.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Privilege

When living in the comfort I enjoy, it is very easy to forget the toll my privilege extracts from the rest of the world. And i have to ask, Am i willing to walk the walk? what stand am i willing to take? what am i willing to sacrifice? what am i willing to risk?

The People Speak

During election time, it's often easy to forget that those who we elect to political office, those who steal political office, and those who buy political office, often don't represent the very people upon whose backs this country was built. Power to the people!


Video preview of The People Speak -- forthcoming documentary based on A People's History of the United States from Voices of a People's History on Vimeo.

The end of Summer, my friends!

Yea, i know, it's already mid-october and summer was over a month and a half ago, but i was hanging on as long as i could.

I can no longer deny it. I woke up this morning to find my garden covered in this.


Dr. L managed to get a lot of her harvest in before the snow. She just sent me this pic.


I wasn't so lucky, and still have lots of peppers and tomatoes out there under the white stuff, but it's supposed to warm up again this week, and we didn't have a hard freeze, so i'm hoping to still be able to get a bunch of the peppers to hang and dry. I've also got to pull in the corn, black beans, butternut, and pumpkin, even though they can handle the cold a little better.

It's also election time, my friends. Fortunately Hans let our marxist econ class out early enough tuesday that i could get home and watch the second debate, which was supposed to be in the "town hall" format. That just bascially meant McCain got to walk around calling everyone his friend while Tom Brokaw tried to enforce the rules about time limitations with no actual "town hall" type conversation. Folks asked their questions, then sat down. Why bother with the town hall format if it is moderated so heavily that conversation and debate can't actually take place? Quite a let down. At least i got in a 90-minute work out.

CX no. 2

Last year we had warm, sunny weather for the first few CX races. Not so this year. Last week was windy, rainy, and cold. This week was windy, snowy, and cold.

Heber usually gets real awful in the mud, but despite the rain and snow, the course wasn't too sloppy today. They did, however, add a run up this time that made for some good, leg-burning fun.

video

I got a bad sprint off the line and came into the first turn in about 10th or so (out of only about 15 guys this time), but managed to work my way up to 4th. I stayed there most of the race. Dave C. and Macci were just a few seconds ahead of me and another guy was a few seconds behind me. I was trying to catch Dave and Macci, but they were spurring each other on. It wasn't until Macci went down on the barricades that Dave dropped him and i was able to catch him. We rode together the last couple of laps. The last lap i sat on his wheel hoping to be able to come around him for the sprint, but the sprint was too short after the hard, rutted turn, and Macci held me off. My lungs hurt, my legs hurt, and my heart was beating well above my LT for most of the race, but i just kept telling myself that what it's all about.

Macci held me off at the finish.


One of the things i truely enjoy about CX is harrassing friends while they are racing. Nothing beats trying to make someone laugh or smile when they can barely breathe. Mavis and Jamerson both started racing this year, and both races they have been neck and neck, trading the lead from lap to lap. I take pure pleasure in egging them on and chiding them for giving up the lead or letting the other pass when i know their lungs feel like they're going to explode and they're trying their best to ignore me.


Mavis in the lead on the run-up. That's Halverson in the 80s kit just behind him (i don't know if he pulled that out of his old duffel bag from when he used to race BMX as a teenager, or if he is really on top of the fashion thing and has jumped on the 80s renewal. My bet is he pulled it out of his old duffel bag). Jamerson is just behind Halverson—you can just see his front wheel and right arm).


Mavis' ass with J. in hot pursuit. In the end, Mavis flatted on the last lap and J. took the victory in the M/J showdown.

Garden Harvest Smackdown

Winter is closing in, which much to my dismay, means the end of fresh produce. Even though my garden was a bit slow and late this year, i now am getting lots of tomatos, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, and various other veggies. Since i can't possibly eat it all myself i decided to take a creative approach to fall harvest time: a garden harvest cooking smackdown (with some inspiration from Iron Chef). So i invited some family and friends to participate and sent out the rules:

1) dishes will be judged on a) presentation b) taste and c) orgininality/creativity
2) dishes must incorporate the secret ingredient, as well as produce from the garden goodie bag
3) extra points will be rewarded for using local products for your other ingredients
4) you must cook as a team
5) finished dishes must be on the table at my house, presentable and ready to eat by 6:30.
6) judging will be by peer review

Saturday i coordinated for all teams to get a bag full of stuff from my garden, then saturday around 3:00 i announced the secret ingredient: pumpkin.


We had four teams compete:

Team Bradley: heavily favored to win by Catydid who wondered if we could require that they be handicapped and required to compete without an oven. The cook's cooking blog has received international acclaim: http://bradleykitchen.blogspot.com/ . There was some controversy over whether the cook's winning main dish, which only included pumpkin seeds, should have been eligible, but in the end, judges agreed it was absolutely delicious. Check the cook's blog for recipes from the competition.


Team ZB: a late addition, but with extensive knowledge of both American & Mexican cuisine, they were serious contenders, despite being 45 minutes late. Willy-G should have won the dance competiton.


Team CreepyCrawly: Caitydid has been known to create some amazing marshmallow dishes, so we were all prepared for a pumpkin marshmallow dessert that could steal the show. Although we didn't get anything with marshmallows, the creepy halloween spider get-up and musical accompaniment garnered them points.

Team Ringer: there were rumors that this team was bringing in a "ringer" to help in the kitchen (though the teammember closest to the "ringer" allegedly laughed out loud when he offered his help) . Even without the help of a ringer, however, this culinary powerhouse promised to easily wow judges with their creative presentations and tasty creations, and as it turns out, the ringer's spicy pumpkin seed dish won for best appetizer.


Despite the fact that team Bradley tried to stack the ballot by bringing enough small children to ensure a family victory . . .


in the end, everyone was a winner. We all went away happy and stuffed with plenty of leftovers to keep us eating for the rest of the week. Although the artist said he wouldn't post any photos of the dance competition, if caitydid will share her photos with me, i certainly will.

Mini spicy pumpkin pie and Team Creepy Crawly's tasty pumpkin phillos.

No. 1 surveying the spread. I should note that Team ZB should have lost presentation points for serving their dishes in tupperware.

Team Ringer's pumpkin empanadas.

The dessert spread.No. 1 cleared her plate.

Team Creepycrawly demonstrates how to do the twist (and Caitydid illustrates her addiction).