Feeling Burned

Nanakorobi yaoki  – Japanese proverb.  (Translation: “7 times down, 8 times up”)
We had a 12-mile run scheduled yesterday.  We covered the distance.  I am sun-burned and sore and wishing I had worn adequate sun coverage.  Seriously, I need to get a Monday to Friday* visor.

Here’s how the run — which we were supposed to do at a 11:20-11:40 pace, and ended up doing closer to a 13:00 pace — went:

Miles 1-4: Hey, this isn’t so bad.  Sort of boring running through corn and soy fields.   And the deer and horse flies are annoying.  But the butterflies are nice.  Josh to me, “Do you think you’ll ever do a full marathon?”  Me, “I dunno, maybe.”  Josh, “I bet you will in the next couple of years.”

Miles 5-6: The headwind after turning (South?  East?  It’s all the same out in Flatland) and all the traffic on this road is terrible.  Thank goodness we had to stop for a freight train so I could get a rest.

Miles 6-8: Hey, doesn’t your friend live on this road?  Maybe we should go say hi.  We did stop and he gave us more water and let us be in his air conditioned house, which was AWESOME.

Miles 8-10:  Did it get about 15 degrees hotter while we were in his house…and sunnier?

Miles 10-12: You know, I am totally okay with our walking these last two miles because I think I might pass out.  By this point I was wishing for some UV coverage.

And upon completing our 12th mile in 2 hours and 34 minutes, not counting the break, we called my in-laws to pick us up about a 1/2 mile from their house.  Father-in-law rolls up in his truck quipping, “Ha, couldn’t make it up heartbreak hill, huh?”  No, no we couldn’t.  But you know what — our time even with the walking was not that much slower than my first 5K a couple of years ago.  So, maybe I do have a marathon in me in the next couple of years.

* “Monday to Friday” is a euphemism.  Because we keep a clean blog here, right?


From: Design Sponge

My brother-in-law was telling me this weekend that he and his wife are thinking about redoing their kitchen.  He mentioned that he’s pretty sure that underneath the old linoleum there’s hardwood, like there is in the rest of the house.  The hall way outside the kitchen is bare wood and it could use some refinishing, but it could be lovely and it would only be the work of a weekend.  Instead, his wife is thinking about putting down more linoleum, linoleum that looks like tile, because it fits their budget and she really wants tile.  I just don’t get it.  If you can’t have what you want, work with what you have that you could make beautiful rather than covering it up with something that is your second best.  They could always put tile in later if they don’t end up liking the wood.

They have a 5-year-old son so utility probably trumps beauty, but I don’t think wood floors are any less useful than linoleum, and they are much more beautiful.

Still Logging Miles

In case it wasn’t obvious, this has been a rough month at work.  Lots of late nights and scrambling to get things in order and it looks likely to continue through mid-March/early-April.

On the plus side, I have been continuing to get my runs in for training.  Food tracking has been spotty, but the exercise helps keep me calm. Josh and I ran a 10k race this weekend and then treated ourselves to new running shoes.  Our local running store, Fleet Feet, takes video of you jogging on a treadmill and then recommends shoes if you over/under pronate.  They said my old pair of Brooks should work for me, but didn’t have them in my size (did I mention I can’t find my Brooks…those suckers are expensive and still have a few miles in them, and I want them back) so I got a pair of Saucony Guide 7:

Look at all the wild colors!


As If I Needed More Proof Libraries Are Awesome

This is FOR REAL — The Palo Alto Public Library is offering classes on brewing!

Libraries are important cultural and learning centers, folks.  Members of the community can show up and without paying for private classes talk with librarians who will point them in the direction of learning materials, help organize talks and discussions, and generally assist in access to information.  Go buy a librarian a beer, everyone!

One thing that puzzled me in the article was the class title, “The Techie Side of Beer.”  At Stanford, there was a common debate about whether things were “fuzzie” (humanities) or “techie” (sciences) and where one placed oneself on the continuum.  We even had to read a book about it the summer before my freshman year at Stanford, so that we could all sit around in sharing circles  (I mean in dorm lounges) and talk about what it felt like to be considering a humanities major at a university that was massively invested in engineering.

Stanford: “Don’t worry, we love you too even though your work is less likely to subsidize us in years to come; unless you become a real estate developer, or pro athlete, or maybe an investment banker.  You can do all those things with a fuzzie degree.  Just kidding guys, some of you may actually write books that are commercially successful, or become professors here, or get MacArthur Fellowships or Pulitzers so we can feature you in our alumni magazine.”

As cynical as the above may sound, I loved Stanford, and was never made to feel unwanted or unsupported for my interests in, say, Classics.  The Classics Department newsletter is probably the one publication from Stanford I receive that I read cover to cover.  My 10th year anniversary is coming up and I’m considering attending.  Doesn’t hurt that a trip out to the Bay Area sounds like a nice vacation now that I live in the Midwest.  Problem is that many of my college friends are spread in a 2-year band on either side of me, so I would have had as many people I wanted to see at the 2003 Reunion as I would at the 2004 Reunion.  The plus side is burritos…and sushi…and micro greens…and the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.  At least it’s sunny here in Columbus today.  It makes me miss the Bay Area less when I can see the sun.  So, should I go to Reunion?

Back to beer: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of beer is a “techie” pursuit, in that brewing beer involves knowledge of chemistry and strict attention to procedure.  Drinking beer involves hedonistic pleasures that could be considered more fuzzie, but if it’s a class on brewing, I would think the technical elements would be emphasized.


Books, Glorious Books

I continue to be astounded that there is such a thing as the public library.  Having a safe, well-lit, inviting place where anyone in the community can go to read and relax is, quite possibly, the best expression of what makes civic life in America great.  It makes me sad to think that there are communities out there that aren’t able to maintain their public libraries.

When we lived in San Francisco, we briefly belonged to a private library, which was convenient to where we lived and ran all sorts of film nights and lectures.  But, it also served to insulate its members from the substantial homeless population of the City.  In hindsight, while I don’t regret joining the Mechanic’s Institute in SF, I’m glad to be able to go to the Columbus Main Library for nothing more than the costs of my taxes.  And I am fine with people who pay no taxes at all (children, those who make too little to pay) using the space as a clean, warm, comfortable place to spend their afternoons.  And while I don’t like the idea of people using the computers to look at adult websites, I’m proud of Columbus for respecting the right of users to make those decisions for themselves.

Columbus Main Library (in a warmer season)

Books.  For FREE.  One more reason why I wouldn’t want to live any other time in history.

How to Become a Better Beer Drinker

Hat tip to John Verive at the LA Times for his article on How to Become a Better Beer Drinker.  He has excellent suggestions on how to learn more and track your knowledge about beer.  Here are his suggestions and some of my own comments, but I definitely recommend you check out his original article.

1. Take Notes: As I mentioned in an earlier post, we like to use the Beer Judge Certification scoring system as a guideline for taking notes about beers.  The basic scoring elements are below, though the official scoring sheet deals with many more flavor/aroma components.

Aroma (as appropriate for style) _________/12
Comment on malt, hops, esters, and other aromatics

Appearance (as appropriate for style) _________/ 3
Comment on color, clarity, and head (retention, color, and texture)

Flavor (as appropriate for style) _________/20
Comment on malt, hops, fermentation characteristics, balance, finish/aftertaste, and other flavor characteristics

Mouthfeel (as appropriate for style) _________/ 5
Comment on body, carbonation, warmth, creaminess, astringency, and other palate sensations

Overall Impression _________/10
Comment on overall drinking pleasure associated with entry, give suggestions for improvement

Total _________/50

2. Book Learning: I’ve met the author of one of the books the LA Times writer recommends: Josh Bernstein’s Complete Beer Course.  (LA Times needs to fix his name, though.)  Josh is a Cleveland native and we ran into him one day while he was signing copies of his previous book, Brewed Awakening , at Nano Brew in Cleveland.  I haven’t read his new book yet, but was eying a copy at Founder’s Brewery the other days, so I may have to get it.

Josh Bernstein’s first book


3. Take a Class: We joined the Scioto Olentangy Darby Zymurgists (SODZ) club, which has regular meetings with workshops and competitions.

4. Discover New Styles: The LA Times writer likes Belgians.  I might try to focus more on local or smaller breweries in the area.  There have been a ton opening up these past few months.

5. Learn to Brew: Check.  We’re going to work on trying to brew once a month and developing more consistency in our production methods.  We brewed twice in December – a smoked porter and an American pale ale.

6. Cross Train: Drink other things – Check. We need to throw more parties to spread the wealth on the booze we’ve accumulated over the years.

7. Get Certified: I’ve been thinking about the Cicerone Certification just for fun.  The first level’s mostly about how to serve beer appropriately, which may just end up in my buying a bunch of extra glasses we’ll rarely use so that each beer can be served with its matching glass.


Monday Mantra: Coupons Aren’t Worth It

I went shopping today.  At a strip mall adjacent to a larger mall.  It was exhausting, but since I just got a Fitbit (thanks, mom!) I walked the perimeter rather than get in my car and drive from the big box store at one end to the big box store at the other.  I think I’ve gotten too caught up in promotions and somehow gaming the shopping system this holiday, and I have learned that coupons are only worth it if:

you would have bought the thing in the first place.

Simple, right?  Everybody gets this, no?

Well, of course not, because coupons are there to make us buy things we might not have bought in the first place.

The thing that drove home the futility of coupons: Bed Bath & Beyond.  I had one of those 20% off coupons, but this wasn’t for one item, it was for an entire purchase.  Oh, goodie, I thought, I’m going cash in without having to rely on Amazon and shipping, and nascent guilt about excess fuel or putting mom and pops out of business (ahem, BB&B is big box store, yes, I know).  Once I got into the store and found the fancy kitchen electronic item I desired I pulled out the coupon to read the fine print and it said:

Here’s a list of 50 brands this discount doesn’t apply to, and every nice, expensive item in this store is on this list of excluded items.  Perhaps you would like some plastic mixing bowls or scratchy towels?  If so, you might find a brand to suit, but let’s just forget about kitchen electronics or designer bedding, shall we?

I like to picture Loki from the Thor movies delivering this message.

So, BB&B, I am done with you.  Unless you send me Loki.  In that case, we can be BFFs.

Reading a book, swoon.

Monday Mantra: “inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion”

I’ve been around the health and fitness block enough times to know that this is a mental effort as much, if not more, than a physical one.  It’s not my hand acting by itself that drives my car to Taco Bell on the way home from work.  It’s not my legs held to the carpet by cast irons that keep me from taking a walk or run.  My rear end doesn’t decide it needs to surf the Web a few hours longer.

One of my biggest projects as I work on reshaping myself, is bolstering my self-compassion, and my compassion for others.  As I’ve lost weight, I’ve noticed myself becoming more an more judgmental about how other people look.  But that judgment always ends up turning inward.  I need to learn to let it go.

The Dalai Lama

I’m not a Buddhist, but I have worked over the past five or six years on cultivating mindful awareness.  As part of that training, you end up reading a good amount of Buddhist philosophy, and the Dalai Lama seems to have self-compassion figured out, so here are a few excerpts from some of his writing on compassion.

Unless we are either gravely ill or deprived of basic necessities, our physical condition plays a secondary role in life.  If the body is content, we virtually ignore it. The mind, however, registers every event, no matter how small. Hence we should devote our most serious efforts to bringing about mental peace.

From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.

Indeed.  I barely noticed the weight creep back on until I stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office and then – anxiety spike!  It wasn’t as if I hadn’t felt pants getting tighter, but I managed to ignore it and I continued to tell myself that other things were more important for months after that initial weigh-in.

The Dalai Lama goes on to speak about the inter-connectness of all things, and the need to have a “sincere concern for the welfare of others.”  It is important to be reminded at this time of year especially that being concerned about others is necessary for one’s own happiness.  He gives some examples of scenarios in which a person can exercise compassion for others:

If a teacher not only imparts academic education but also assumes responsibility for preparing students for life, his or her pupils will feel trust and respect and what has been taught will leave an indelible impression on their minds. On the other hand, subjects taught by a teacher who does not show true concern for his or her students’ overall well-being will be regarded as temporary and not retained for long.

It’s finals period where I teach, and I’ve been feeling punchy lately about my students asking for extensions on an assignment they’ve known about all semester.  Respect doesn’t mean that I’ll grant them that extension, but it does mean that I treat all of my students equally and give them the benefit of the doubt as to why they feel like they need that extra time.

I am going to work this week on cultivating a spirit of love and acceptance toward all the shapes and sizes I see out in the world.