Monday, May 6, 2013

A Small Reprieve...

First, I have to share how awesome it is to climb out of bed at 11 am on Sunday morning & see that the first handful of posts in my facebook & twitter feeds are pictures & announcements & congratulations on all manner of race-related accomplishments. So first, some hearty congratulations to friends from the blogosphere & beyond:

  • Layla & Sam for their fantastic PRs at the Pittsburgh Marathon;
  • Robin, for a sweet 24 minute PR + BQ at the NJ Marathon;
  • Dave, for leaving it all out there & getting it done at a crazy tough NJ Marathon;
  • Brooke, Cate, Jana, & Kimra for rocking various parts of Wildflower on a super-hot day;
  • Sesa & any number of my former colleagues for finishing The [12 person, multi-day, 200 mile] Relay from Calistoga to Santa Cruz;
  • Anyone else I missed (I have pretty much been a social media failure for the last week or so....but what else is new.)

Please humor me as I *do not* feel much like writing about my own running right now, though.

Instead, how about one of those posts where people talk about other stuff they do in their lives besides run? Those are nice. Let's have one of those.

1) Karate. I still need to do something about collecting all the pictures & video taken at my testing by various cameras, but there was one in particular that I was waiting on.

This is me with my panel (ie, the people who tested me) after the testing. In general I am a pretty un-emotional person but for some reason this one makes me emotional.

You can tell I was the one testing because of the translucent gi. Also, the hair. As always at Berkeley Isshin-ryu, QUALITY post-testing hair.

2) Books. One of my goals this year was to read 12 books. I am constantly depressed by my "To Read" list on (BTW, you can follow me or be my friend there or however it works if you like to see what people are reading. I've found a lot of awesome books following folks on GR). I have started actually reading more, but at some point I had to just bite the bullet & accept that I'm never going to have all that much time to sit on a couch / lie in bed / whatever & read pages & pages at a time of anything. Not without quitting something.

On the other hand, I have a pretty reasonable car commute most days, so I finally took the advice of some friends & hopped on the bandwagon. Yes, it means I am spending money on books and then not physically owning them, but on the other hand, I think I've gotten through an order of magnitude more books in the past four months than I've read old-school in any of the past few years. And that makes me happy. And the truth is that sometimes money can buy happiness.

Some of my favorites so far this year:

The Disappearing Spoon, by Sam Kean. What a great read! I was looking for something interesting, well-written, and not overly serious, and this fit the bill. I would recommend this book for the following people:

  • People who enjoy amusing stories about science told through a historical / human interest kind of angle. (If you like RadioLab, you'll enjoy this book.)
  • People who knew their chemistry at some point & would kind of like a refresher of the basics explained through entertaining stories.
  • People who are curious about chemistry / particle physics but find terms like "covalence electrons" and "ionic bonds" kind of intimidating.
  • Young people who have not yet studied chemistry formally (whether they're interested in science or not -- I could totally see this book turning a "fuzzy" on to science).
  • Anyone who enjoys unconventional histories various & sundry.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. A smart & cute read, especially if you live in or know the Bay Area, especially if you are in any way tech-inclined or even tech-curious. (You certainly don't have to be knowledgeable to follow what's going on.) Lots of books try to be "young" and "modern" and totally blow it (especially with pop culture & dialogue), but this one pulls it off. If The Da Vinci code were hipper, cooler, better written, took itself less seriously, and set in SF / Silicon Valley, it might have turned out something like Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

The Glass Bead Game, by Herman Hesse. The best way I can think of to describe the feel of this classic is as a literary mash-up of Siddhartha, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, & Anathem -- a deeply abstract & cerebral bildungsroman full of interesting ideas about life, philosophy, academics, & the meaning / purpose of art, knowledge, & culture, in a kind of monastic setting. Not what I would call a beach read, but I've been meaning to read it for years & was happy that I finally got around to it.

Bossypants, by Tina Fey. This book was so much fun. It clearly shares DNA with Caitlin Moran's "How To Be A Woman," except more jokey & humorous (though she does make some serious points). Tina Fey is hilarious & it was fun to learn more about her & her career. (Basically, all I knew was that she was on Saturday Night Live & did Sarah Palin. I didn't even know she was connected to 30 Rock. Or what 30 Rock even was.) This, I WOULD call a beach read, in the best possible way.

3) Sorbet. I'm kind of obsessed with it right now. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the new ice cream maker. Maybe it's all the amazing fruit that's available right now. I don't know. What I DO know is that I could freaking live off this stuff (er....if it had, like, nutrition & stuff).

The Alliterative Gourmets & I had an 'M' themed dinner party Saturday night, so I brought mango, Meyer lemon, & mojito. NOM.

Not pictured: mint julep, because I ate it all.

It's actually pretty easy to make even without an ice cream maker; just freeze a pan of the syrup (there are tons of recipes online), then stick it in a blender for a few seconds to fluff it up.

4) Wine. Because if I was going to have a blog, it was either going to be about running or wine, and there are times when I am still not convinced I made the right choice.

What we've been drinking lately:

1999 Woodward Canyon Cab (Walla Walla, WA). Because Don's birthday, and also 30-day aged sirloin. Highly recommend, but let it age. It's that kind of cab.

2009 Kenneth Volk Pomar Junction Touriga (Paso Robles, CA). "But what is Touriga?" you ask. "I have never heard of that one." Never you mind; it's a grape, and you need to have some. It doesn't taste like pinot, but it's comparable in terms of body & mouthfeel (ie, lighter in flavor / medium bodied). The main flavors in this one were plumb & other "magenta" fruit, baking spices, & very faint vanilla & anise. This one does not need to age more than a few years & went quite well with Mediterranean chicken pizza from Little Star.

2008 Williams Selyem Westside Road Neighbors Pinot. Uh. Mazing. One of the most fantastic pinots I've ever had. Tasty red fruit balanced with lovely baking spice all the mushroom-ey things I love about a pinot nose, and a nice, light body that makes it perfect for drinking on a hot day. If you are in Sonoma, call & make an appointment.

Finally, this was purchased on Saturday.....


....yeah. The difference between 'hoarding' and 'collecting' is sometimes a matter of appropriate storage, and I'll give you one guess as to which message the cardboard box system sends.

Okay, two sentences about running: I have a very bizarre, very geographically small yet extremely painful strain to something in the general vicinity of my right adductor that's making even walking quite painful, so I haven't run a single step since last Wednesday in an attempt to let it heal (since I know trying to run even a little would just make it worse), and I am hoping against hope that a rest week four weeks out from the marathon is a better idea than trying to run through the injury. I am going to try running a few miles tomorrow and see how it goes; hopefully it will be solid enough that I can jump back into my schedule for the last three weeks.

Sigh. Anyway, I hope your training week has been better than mine. Catch you later this week!


  1. I just bought "Bossy Pants" on my Kindle yesterday. I am excited to start reading it! Love the Woodward Canyon wine too, so tasty!

    I hope that your running gets better soon!!!!

  2. Thanks for the shout-out!
    I loved Bossypants. I really need to read more but right now so many other things are taking priority.

  3. Thanks for the mention! Sounds like I need to recommend Glass Bead Game to my husband and read Mr. Penumbra for myself. I find I read more when I'm reading through the Kindle app on my phone, because it takes away the, uh, "hassle" of carrying a book from place to place. (#21stcenturyproblems?) Fingers crossed that your rest week does the trick!

  4. I may well try the Herman Hesse...I need something to read! Have you tried any Banana Yoshimoto? Japanese writer, I'm on her second novel. I read 'Kitchen' and really liked it. And her name is Banana!

  5. Aww, thanks for the kudos! (Yes, I am responding long after the fact. Oops.) I have the same book dilemma: So many unread books, so little time! Actually, the second half of that sentence should read, "so much time spent on the Internet." It wasn't too long ago that I read 52 books in a year, and now I'm failing at my "read 12 books this year" goal. And now, thanks to your blog, I want to read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore...