Friday, August 27, 2010

In Which We Contemplate Walking

"I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it."

Soren Kierkegaard

Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Which We Celebrate Sufragettes

Happy 90th birthday, 19th Amendment!  And thank you, Miss Anthony and Mrs. Catt and Miss Mott and the thousands of nameless women and men who fought for 72 years for a woman's right to vote. Thanks to you, I voted in my state's primary on Tuesday. Thanks largely to you, I am no longer chattel. I can go to college. I can keep my children in a divorce. I can inherit property. I can own property, not be it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Which I Confirm a Cliche

In which I confirm that Midwestern residents are, indeed, nice and polite. 

The first leg of my return flight was from Indianapolis to Minneapolis (a lovely city I'd like to revisit as I haven't been there in over ten years--lots of good food there, too). When the plane rolled up to the gate, everyone remained seated and waited, patiently, till their row was ready to disembark and then stood up and retrieved their luggage from the overhead bin. No leaping into the aisle the minute the seat belt fastened sign is turned off, no opening of bins from which bags tumble out, no flinging of bags over seats hitting people in the head, no pushing and elbowing their way down the aisle, regardless of the presence of grandmothers with handmade noodle art clutched preciously to their chest or people with canes or pregnant women, or even just tired middle aged travelers like me. Everyone waited their turn.

It was wonderful. It was so kind and stress-free. It was so the opposite of what it was like when the next leg arrived home here in the Old Metropolis.

So I confirm, even though it is not a statistically and therefore scientifically valid sample, the cliche that Midwesterners are polite.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Which We Eat, and Eat, and Eat...

I know I haven't written in a while,. but that's because I've been off doing Science, visiting a Professor and several other Scientists at a workshop at Indiana University. Well, a workshop of a sorts. The various participants have all worked on aspects of the same project over a 20-year period, and The Professor decided it was time we wrote A Book. So we all got together to brainstorm the content and outline of the book.

Of course, many of the collaborators hadn't seen each other in years, so while there was much socializing, we really did knuckle down and talk science from 9 a.m. until after 5 p.m. It was exhausting. My brain is tired from so much thinking. And I think for a living!

But, perhaps more importantly, we ate, and ate. You see, The Professor has always been proud that, as the Project Director, when we were in the field, there was lots of food. And good food, too, despite being in the Middle of Nowhere, a.k.a., Deep in the Jungle. And Bloomington, it turns out, is a fine eatin' town. A fine eatin' town!  We ate at the Irish Lion Pub (fish and chips, and Irish apple walnut cake), at an Afghan restaurant called Samira (chicken manto, with a delicious eggplant starter), at an Indian restaurant (Taste of India, where The Professor had ordered a smorgasbord of Indian delights--2 veggie, 2 chicken), at a Thai restaurant, Siam House (tofu and veggie stir fry and a Chai tea) and finally, at The Farm, which specializes in using locally grown organic foods (and where a project alumni has found his calling as chef de cuisine). I had that night's special, which was brisket, smashed potatoes, and sauteed greens. They brought out a huge bowl of parmesan and garlic fries to tide us over while we waited for some of our party to arrive (by themselves they would have kept me supremely happy, trust me, they were that good), and the chef sent out a delicious crab appetizer. Blackberry tart with tea for dessert, and a Blueberry Chiller cocktail started all that gustatory heaven. All were outstanding and delicious, and I think I gained 10 lbs. No joke, the final night, when I returned to my hotel, the button on my pants popped off.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Which Genetics Dazzle

The website Science Daily (a favorite of the Mossy Nest) published a brief summary of a longer article on canine genetic variation today. The results of the study reported in SD indicate that 80% of canine morphological differences in height and weight are controlled by just 6 or 7 locations in the dog genome. In humans, those kinds of physical traits are controlled by hundreds of different genes. And yet, we humans differ physically far less amongst ourselves/our species than dogs do, with hundreds of different breeds.

Totally cool genetics!

Oh, and if you have time, surf on over the Scientist at Work blog on the New York Times, which always has fascinating, first hand blog entries from field scientists of all different disciplines and around the world. This week's blogs include the Congo and 800 ft below the ocean's surface.

Totally cool science!

Friday, August 6, 2010

In Which I Post a Marathon Training Update

Training for my December marathon officially starts in September, 17 weeks before the event, but as you know, I've been trying to get my sorry butt into better shape before I start training so I can maximize whatever benefits that training will have on a sagging, pasty, inflexible middle aged body. It's really sort of the anti-marathoner body.

So, after 3 months of increasing both distance and rate, I can happily report that my basal walking rate has moved from 3.6 mph to a very comfortable 3.8 mph. It takes me between one-half and one mile to really hit my stride, but I've found the past three weeks that I can easily walk the next 3 miles at 3.8 (or more) without a hitch. I've been doing some interval training on certain days, which has definitely helped. 4.0 mph may be attainable after all! (Don't worry, I still hate running with a passion!)

So now, my weekday walks will settle into walking for speed to build up my pace, while the weekend walks will start getting longer. I've only done 4 miles so far, partly because it's so dang hot, but next month it should start to cool off in the early morning hours, which should make increasing to 6 and then 8 and then 11 miles much more easy.

I now have three of those cute little skort exercise skirty things and they make me feel like a real athlete. Not a jock, because jockdom is way beyond my capabilities, and always has been. But an Athlete with a capital A. One even has flirty little one-inch slits on each side, the purpose of which I am unclear about but which make it more skirtier. It's hot pink. Can you see my big smile just thinking about it's pinky glory? And three pairs of those scientifically designed socks that wick sweat away from you. They don't wick away my hot flashes, though. Now that I have the uniform down, my next adventure will be in the Food Category. Apparently there are gels and nut butter tubes and all kinds of disgusting things out there to keep the marathoner upright. I'm contemplating how to stash a blueberry muffin in my 1.5-liter hydration pack because the thought of squirting some gel thing makes me shudder. But I'd want a nice cup of hot, strong tea with that muffin and there's no way I'm carrying my thermos with me.  Although, there is a bungee cord stretchy thing on the front of my pack...

Oh, but that might lead to bathroom issues, and I just read the section on that in my How to Walk book and am wondering about adult diapers as a desperate measure.

I'm listening to Charlaine Harris this week. Not the Sookie Stackhouse series, because paranormal stuff doesn't interest me, but the first Aurora Teagarden mystery, Real Murders. This is the best reader so far of the audio books I've listened to the last month.