Track crash

Grade ten exams - post on my blog. That's the way the system works. During this procrastination break, I will entertain you with a photo from the recent track cycling world championships. Ouch.

Attention minorities - watch out for my wife!

I was working at the Steep & Brew near the Scrapbook Superstore this afternoon, when who should storm in but my lovely wife - looking quite frazzled! Apparently a customer had asked the use their die-cut machine, for which you have to be a paid member of the Die-Cut Society. The machines are crazy-expensive, so they're not included in the free part of the classroom space. This customer, however, wasn't listed in the SS system as a DCS member - at least according to the SS computer system. The customer claims to have paid already, and that this had happened last time she asked to use the die-cut machine. M.Bro told her that time (last week, I guess) that she could use the machine that day, but just needed to bring a receipt showing DCS dues had been paid. "No problem" was the response last week.

When the customer walked up to the SS counter today, M.Bro was working on a different project and said that A.Hens (another SS employee at the next register) would be happy to help her. The customer asked to use the die-cut machine and was told that she needed to be a member - this made M.Bro remember the customer, and she asked the customer whether she had her receipt per their last conversation. M.Bro again offered to let the customer use the machine for the day, provided she brought in the receipt next time. The customer was none-too-pleased, however, and engaged M.Bro in a tense conversation in which the entire staff was called "very rude" and M.Bro was accused of being a racist.

When M.Bro retold this story, her (rough) reaction was along the lines of, "I didn't even care that she called us rude or that she yelled in front of a dozen other customers, because we did everything we could do for her - but I'm really shaken up that she would accuse me of being a racist!" That's a big card to pull out, especially at a place of business in front of a store full of customers, and it was way over the line. M.Bro, to her credit, told the customer as much.

Once again, back to grading PS103 papers.

I'm getting 5-to-4 odds on tomorrow

The pope has been given the last rites. Who's got him in the pool?

Update: Herr Goebbels has informed me that the pope's death ceremony includes chanting his birth name three times (in her words "Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! BEETLEJUICE!") and hitting him on the head three times with a tiny golden hammer. And then Fox News will show hours upon hours of photos of him when he was young, virile, and attractive.

My friends and family

I got it under the table, and I'm passing it to you the same way -'s Friends and Family sale starts tomorrow, and you can get 30% off anything on their site with the code FF45FL45. This is only valid 4/1-4/3, so order fast.

Men's Nike Zoom Waffle Racers

Women's Nike Zoom Waffle Racers

G-Unit T-shirt

Once again, order Waffles 1/2-1 size larger than you regularly wear. Order the G-Unit t-shirt 3-4 sizes larger than you usually wear.

Now, back to grading Intro to IR papers.

Althouse on cyclists and bikers

Ann Althouse posted about her annoyance with people riding bikes on sidewalks, against traffic, against lights, etc., which prompted me to send the following e-mail:
On the issue of cyclists on campus, I think you'd find that those of us who count ourselves as serious cyclists are just as annoyed, if not moreso, at cyclists who disobey traffic laws. My commute to campus is around 8 miles, and I want nothing more to be treated like another car while I ride in. Cyclists ignoring traffic signals, riding on the sidewalk, or riding against traffic in the bike lane all contribute to a situation in which automobile drivers stop seeing me as a valid user of the road - that's dangerous for me.

Which, in part, prompted this update:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Several Madison bicyclists have emailed to say that they follow the rules and are dismayed that other bicyclists don't and ruin everybody's reputation.

New reader

It's always a grand day in blogger-ville when I get a new regular reader. Last night, Ms. Ashley came on board, and is already forging ahead with comments on my taste in shoes and Ann Althouse's taste in "teen" "pop" "stars". Ms. Ashley will be reading and posting from Lincoln, NE and will be awfully embarrassed when she sees the first picture I've decided to post of her. Feel free to welcome Ms. Ashley to the fold by guessing her astrological sign, giving her a cookie recipe, telling her about your first childhood pet, convincing her to come to UW-Whitewater, etc.

Ms. Ashley in 5th grade:

A much more recent picture (with her very hot sister):

Racing quandary

This is quite the pickle - it turns out that the Crazylegs Classic 5 mile run and the WEMS (Wisc Endurance Mountain-biking Series) John Muir race are on the same Saturday this year. The Crazylegs is at 10:00 a.m. and it's an hour drive to Kettle Moraine state park (where the mtb race is). That means the 12-hour mtb race is out, but that I could probably make the 6-hour race (which starts at 1:00) or the 3-hour race (which starts at 3:00). What do I do - WHAT DO I DO?!


Law school professor Ann Althouse has a nice little blog going - there's law, campus-stuff, and American Idol. She claims to be a moderate, and from what I've read, generally takes positions that back that up.

University Health Services

I received this e-mail from a student at 12:44 p.m. on Monday - almost three hours after the deadline to hand in papers:
I was not able to attend class today to hand in my paper, the reason for this is I had to make an emergency trip to the doctor this morning becuase of some heart problems I'm experiencing. At this point I am not sure if there is need for immediate concern, we are still awaiting the results of the tests. I can give you my paper Wednesday morning in class personally or if there is another method you'd prefer please let me know. Also, I have a dated letter from the health office, just in case.

My response was:
A medical emergency would exempt you from the late penalty - I'll get the paper and note from you on Wednesday.

Now I'm not suggesting that this student is faking the medical issues, because she's been a very good student otherwise, but this is the letter UHS gave her to give me:
Dear Colleague:

Just as the University does not require its employees to provide a written "medical excuse" for absences due to illness, most instructors do not demand that students provide "medical excuses" for their absences due to illness or injury.

It is, and has been for many years, the policy of University Health Services not to provide such "excuses." Our reasons are several, including our finite resources (which are better devoted to health care), our lack of direct knowledge about illnesses or injuries effectively managed by self care, and our commitment to student privacy. Our policy resembles those of many other major universities; it is consistent with the recommendations of the American College Health Association, and is supported by the Dean of Students.

This policy is respectful of students, promotes mature behavior in our campus community, and avoids inconvenience for both students and instructors.

I'm pretty lenient and she probably would have been given the two-day extension anyway, but I'm a little annoyed at the rampant condescension in the letter from UHS. From the implication that I'm asking doctors to let patients die so they can write excuses (sorry - "excuses"), to the suggestion that I'm not behaving maturely - I'm annoyed with it all. And I didn't even "demand" this letter - she offered to bring it!

Am I being heartless here?

Go ahead - try it!

Cool - I'm the third link on the second pagefor anyone that googles "picaresque mp3" (Picaresque is the new Decemberists album). This post may be relevant for 4-7 people!

Having some weather

As I walked to the bus stop 20 minutes ago, I noticed that the western horizon looked dark. No, saying that it looked dark doesn't really do it justice - it looked like impending doom. I watched it roll toward me well past the time my bus was supposed to arrive. A friendly passerby eventually told the assembled bus-stoppees that service was on hold because of a tornado warning. In the 5 minute walk back to my office, the temperature dropped by 10-15 degrees and it got subtantially darker. Still, in the end, I'd take a mouth-of-hell spring storm over a blizzard any day.
From Weather Underground:

Interesting offer

We had an interesting housing-related offer in our mailbox last night. As I've posted before, our townhomes are being sold as condos and we don't want to buy. We were planning to move to the Monroe St area when our current lease ends on 7/1, and had even been doing research and scoping out places. Yesterday, however, our landlord made us this offer -

-Sign another one-year lease to continue renting at our current rent
-Sign with the provision that our landlord can end our lease anytime with a 60-day notice
-If he ends the lease early, however, rent for those two months is waived
-At the end of the 60 days, we can move into one of two other apartment buildings owned by our landlord and receive another free month's rent.

Thoughts? Feedback? Bemused wonderings at the state of the cosmos?

Instant 5:30 mile

I was hesitant to unveil the secret weapon by which T.Bone will be defeated at next month's Crazylegs Classic, but my hesitation was overcome by my schoolgirl-like giddiness at the coolnes of my new Zoom Waffles. They're crazy-light (7.6 oz each according to the Scrapbook Superstore postal scale) and have no heel support to speak of - it's like standing on an incline.

If you're going to order a pair (from the link below), I would suggest ordering a full size larger than you usually wear. I wear an 11.5 in every other pair of shoes and these 12s would be uncomfortable with thick socks.

Waffles for chicks - wafflettes?

Apparently Footlocker also has womens' Nike Zoom Waffle Racers on clearance for $19.99. Between the eight available colors, I think every size is available. From what I've been told, though, you should order 1/2 - 1 size larger than you typically wear.

Mine shipped from Wausau, WI and got here in two days - I can't promise that yours will ship that fast though, so don't hold me to that.

If you're lucky enough to need a 5.0-6.5 or 12.0, they have these beauties in your size -

Employee of the Week

One of my other-job-friends, Brian Baldis, was BMX Online's Industry Employee of the Week.

From the interview:
Where do you see the BMX industry in general headed?
Unfortunately, in the near future I see it being flat. Industry wide, BMX sales are soft and electronics have really taken people and dollars away from doing physical activities. We have to get kids out from in front of TVs and computers. So stop reading this and go ride your damn bike!

charred coal

To make my favorite day of the year just a little better, someone near us is grilling. I can smell said grilling because every window in our house is open.

I didn't realize

When I posted this morning about the weather, I didn't realize that today was going to turn into my favorite day of the year! Today's the day that, despite what the calendar says, winter is really over - it's not just that it's 65 degrees outside, it's that the 65 degrees promises months and months of better weather to follow. I imagine the weather is like this all the time in the SF Bay area, which might make you think that I'd be eternally happy there. That may be true, but not because it'd be my favorite day of the year every day - it's the change, not the day.

My favorite day of the year also included a trip to the less-spectacular east-side(yo) Princeton Club for swimming with M.Bro, Spice, and Herr Goebbels. It was supposed to be the 500 and 50 meter swim tests for the 30-day midpoint of our 60-day Fitness Challenge (c)(r)(tm). Apparently I hit the wrong button on my watch for the 500, but didn't realize that until we were done. I was ready to go again, but M.Bro nixed the idea, noting (correctly) that we had plenty of other days to try. The 50 sprint went much better - M.Bro cut over four seconds off hers (from 60.2 to 55.8) and mine was a ridiculously fast (for me) 36.8. What better day to break 40 seconds than my favorite day of the year?

The swim was followed by a 1:45 ride in...wait for it...shorts and a short-sleeve jersey. Sadly, I only saw one other cyclist on my route. I live on the east side (yo), though, and the main loops are south and west.

Help needed

Missy and I are the only Married Under 80 team registered for Max-O-Mania without a snappy name. Your suggestions are welcome.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns just by virtue of your being alive - breathing, dividing cells, pumping blood, growing fingernails, blinking, etc. You can calculate yours here.

At 25, 6'2", 177 lbs, my BMR is 1935.7 calories. What's yours (no need to list age/height/weight if you don't want to)?

Interestingly, as a blast-from-the-past post by Spice noted, fidgeters (like me) burn quite a few extra calories per day on top of this - in the neighborhood of 350 calories per day according to the NYT.

So I start by burning 1935.7, add 350 for relentless fidgeting, add another 908 for my daily activities, 100 for every mile I run, 250 for every half hour of swimming, and 750 for every hour of cycling - that's almost 3700 calories burned during a rougly average day! I can't imagine that I eat more than 2500, so why don't I weigh 110 lbs? Not that I want to, mind you - I'm just wondering which of these numbers is wrong.

Hey, hey, odelay!

Public service announcement - Beck's new album, Guero, will be released tomorrow.

Pitchfork only gave it a 6.6 -
All in all, my assessment of the patient's recent advances is a mixed one. Mr. Hansen has certainly attempted to follow the regimen recommended to him, and has done his best to recapture earlier moments of lucidity and unity, but in many ways the final result feels rote and calculated. It seems likely that what worked for the subject almost ten years ago may not be appropriate at this later stage; in today's landscape, the methods seem a bit obsolete and over-prescribed. Mr. Hansen may have given us what we demanded, but, at this juncture, we should consider that his personalities have drifted so far apart that they are better left that way.

good riddance, but we'll miss you

It's days like this that make me kind of grateful that winters in Wisconsin are so snow-filled and cold. Seriously, go outside and smell the air - that's some good-smelling, Spring-ey air. It's the kind of air that smells like it's going to stick around.

I'm Big Brother

Big thanks to Spice for pointing out Sitemeter to me. Not only can I track the ISP of people that visit my blog, I can see how much time they spent, how many pages they visited, what operating system they were using, and how they got to my blog. This last one is the most fun for me - for example, I've had three hits thanks to people searching for some variation on "Adidas one first intelligent shoe". If you recall that post, I wasn't kind to the Adidas One - it's fun to think that I'm high on that google results list.

The Saddest Easter Ever (behind the scenes DVD special)

Spice has a good summary of our afternoon, but she doesn't answer some critical questions - Seriously - Boston Market? But what did J.Bro and M.Bro do before the .Bone car got there? And what did they do while everyone else was giggling at T.Bone's medical and auto emergencies?

Rewind to November, 2001 - M.Bro and I had lived in Madison only a couple months, but lo, Thanksgiving was upon us! Without any family close and with no intention to cook (read: clean up after) a holiday-level meal for two, we looked for dining-out options. Everything nice - full. Boston Market, with its shimmering-in-the-sunlight chicken and formerly-made-in-little-bread-pans-but-now-just-blobs-of-cornbread cornbread, fed us well. In fact, when Spring rolled around and brought us Easter, we decided to return. Since then, it's been our holidays-without-family tradition. This is the first year others have joined us, but the plentitude of food and excellent service (which turned our piesicle into a not-completely-frozen-throughout-and-in-fact-hot-near-the-surface apple pie without a complaint) will bring them back.

Before we ate, however, there were some tense minutes in the parking lot. The .Bone car was a few minutes late, and Mrs. Bro was a little concerned when she discovered the lack of detail in our dinner plans. "So you didn't say WHICH Boston Market?" was one of the things she said. Plausible deniability - I still don't even know whether there's another Boston Market in Madison. The .Bone, .Goebbels and .Licka car eventually pulled in, not really very late at all, and we began what would be a solid three hours of fun-making at T.Bone's expense.

One of my running goals is to beat T.Bone in the Crazylegs Classic (last year: him 33:01, me 44:06) - a broken foot would have made this a lot easier. This "serious strain" he now says he has is going to put a hamper in my plans. I may have to find some other way to sabatoge him.

After gallons of unused gravy from our pail o' gravy were thrown away, the .Bone car proceeded to the hospital, and M.Bro and I headed home. We listened to the Badgers lose, but neither of us cared very much. I believe M.Bro said, "Ohh - I feel kind of bad for them". That's the extent of our involvement in the NCAA tournament - sympathy for the players on losing teams. Then came the napping. In fact, she's still napping as I write this. Digestion is exhausting.

Pope John Paul - alien from the future?

What does the Catholic church know that we don't know?
From Google News (emphasis added):
A man threatened to throw himself from the cupola of St Peter's basilica in the Vatican on Saturday as the Catholic Church prepared for its final Easter Holy Week celebrations.

Update! Pope does not speak at Easter mass. The story does not deny that this was because the real pope has already been secreted away to the pope-bunker under Vatican City.

Maybe someone needs to consider a logo change?

I have a hard time believing that no one thought this was a bad idea before it went up -

Closer view-

Friday bike blogging

I don't know the story of this photo, but day-um those are some large wheels! Bikes at the time were fixed-gear or direct-drive, meaning that there was no need to fit rim or disc brakes - to stop, you just pushed backwards on the crank. It's different than a coaster brake, though, because fixed-gear cranks are still going to be trying to turn as long as the rear wheel is moving. I have a fixed gear that I ride in the early season - you can't coast because of the direct-drive, so riding it is a fantastic way to work on your cadence and pedaling motion.

According to my photo hosting service, this was my 150th picture.

Vitruvian review

Here it is - the long-awaited review of the much-hyped Vitruvians! I only had time for a quick four miles, but I think that's enough for a good first cut.

The ugliness of the uppers doesn't stop them from being really well-fitting. They were snug without being tight and flexible without being stretchy. The tongue is very long, which looks a little goofy, but doesn't have any ill effects on the way they run. I also noticed that the shoes felt really, really light - not racing flat light, but lighter than any trainer I've worn before.

I started relatively slow just to get a feel for them - around 9:30/mile. I've been trying to forefoot-strike for a couple weeks now, and I was pretty sure I was getting the hang of leaning forward and taking short strides. The Vitruvians weren't what I expected, which is not at all a bad thing. I expected a shoe that was good for people who already knew how to forefoot-strike - I got a shoe that's hard to run any other way in. In a sense, the shoes don't accomodate that style of running - they force it.

Speeding up to my 5K pace (7:00/mile) made them feel even more natural. With a higher leg turnover, I really noticed the shorter amount of time my feet spent on the ground and how much nimbler I felt. I watch fast runners and they look like they're gliding - I clearly didn't look like that, but I felt it a little bit.

I tried to heel-strike to see what it would feel like - because there's no big heel wedge, my heels crashed down and my forefoot flopped down noisily in front of them. It was awkward, loud, and felt unnatural. Forefoot-striking, on the other hand, is clearly what these shoes were designed for.

The lowers are stiff, but not so unflexible that I couldn't roll off my toes comfortably. I think they'll be even better after a couple dozen miles when they break in. This, I think, is one of the key differences between the Vitruvians and the Nike Frees - the latter have a very, very flexible forefoot.

I realized, though, that I must not have been forefoot-striking the last couple weeks as well or as much as I thought I was. After the Vitruvians forced me to do it, I found some heretofore-undiscovered arch and calf flexibility and strength issues. From everything I've read, my body will adapt in a couple more weeks - it was just a surprise. I must have been striking my heels more than I thought in my Mizunos - it's troubling to think that I couldn't run like I wanted to in those shoes even when I was trying to.

Swimming records falling like drunk Spices!

Like Spice after being the vice-asshole for 4 1/2 straight hours, swimming records are crashing down around us! Fred Bousquet of Auburn swam a 18.74 in the 50 Free in prelims at the NCAA meet to break the world record, and J.Bro of UW-Madison swam a 1:32.3 in the 100 Free during his workout at the Princeton Club last night to break his personal record .

More signs of spring

My mountain bike team has a jersey - we're so official-looking! I've never really been sponsored for anything before - Pacific is paying for our jerseys, Kenda is giving us free tires, and Pacific is giving all non-employees on the team the employee-discount price on bikes. I have to commit to seven races, so I'll be doing more mountain bike races than triathlons this summer. Fortunately, WORS sponsors the MTB series and the trail run series that I'm doing, so I'll still get my cycling-and-running-in-the-same-day fix.

Must be spring

I'm on some sort of a new-shoe kick (fortunately, it's a cheap-new-shoe kick) - I just ordered this pair of Nike Zoom Waffles to race in. If you have giant feet or tiny feet, you can pick up a closeout pair for $19.99 at

We had to clean the house we're house-sitting, so I didn't make it back to the gym to road-test the Vitruvians last night. More to come this evening though...

Everquest - not what you'd expect

"Oh, Everquest - isn't that the game where you pretend to be an elf and fight orcs with swords?" is what you say. Honestly, that's what I thought too, until I found out that Everquest also has a big woodworking and interior design component!

Vasques, Velocities, and Vitruvians - oh my!

We're going to play a little game called "Name the More Aesthetically-pleasing Shoe". It works like this - you name the more aesthetically-pleasing shoe.

First impressions:
-The Vitruvians aren't as ugly in person as they are on the website. M.Bro agrees.
-Both shoes are very, very comfortable, even before they've been properly broken in.
-The Vitruvians have almost no heel-to-toe drop and walking with a Vitruvian on my left foot and a Vasque on my right feels awfully strange. The difference in heel height is very noticeable.
-The Vasques feel really, really sturdy - exactly what I want out of a trail shoe.

The Vitruvians are coming to the gym with me in a few minutes.

Shoes x2

I ordered more shoes last week than I typically buy in a year. Apparently both pairs were delivered to the Scrapbook Superstore today, and my loving wife has decided to taunt me with a photo of them -

With this ring...

After a silent panic this weekend after I thought my wedding ring had been lost to the snow after a hike through the woods, I decided that I should make plans for a replacement should I ever need one. A sort of living will for my wedding band, if you will.

I think, clearly, there are only two options - carbon like my bike's fork, or titanium like my bike's frame. Silver and gold just don't meet my performance standards anymore - they're too heavy, not laterally stiff enough, and don't absorb road vibration worth a darn.

Male nudity? Sign me up!

My wife's boss just gave us her tickets for Saturday's showing of The Full Monty at the new Overture Center. I don't know what to expect.

Lake Wisco

If you have the connections to spend a long weekend in a forest-surrounded cabin on a Wisconsin lake, you should buy those connections a drink. You should be warned, however, that said spending-time-in-cabin is very likely to result in excessive eating and drinking and a painfully awful gym experience on the Tuesday after.

This evening was, however, the first time since Saturday afternoon that I didn't feel disgusting and bloated. Not even a 2 1/2 hour forced march (some might argue forced by me) though the tundra on Sunday afternoon helped. Monday morning was the worst - I'm not sure whether it was from the M.Bro-dominated game of Asshole the night before or the 3 lbs of processed sugar I had eaten over the previous two days, but I was in a bad way. The drive home was far less entertaining than the drive there - the hope of a fun weekend was now the depression of going back to real life, and there was a lot of falling asleep or long pauses in conversation which no one was energetic enough to fill in.

Today was better - until I tried to do my normal 2 hour Tuesday night workout. After 800 yards of painfully poor 100 repeats in the pool, I gave up and climbed out hundreds of yards before my training program told me to. I was due for an hour on the bike, and would probably have quit early on that as well if Amazing Race hadn't been on. People have said it's not very good this season, but those people are wrong.

Bike blogging

I got an e-mail last night from my summer job boss. He wanted to know whether I had 20-25 free hours this week to help them with some packet-making for presentations the sales department is making next week. Since I'd spend that time TAing anyway, I said I'd do it. It turned out to be a horrible, horrible job - making copies, collating, stapling, assembling various marketing things in the correct order, boxing, labeling, and various other paper-cut-giving things. I like having steady summer employment though, so I'll be back tomorrow morning.

I also would have missed this cool story -
Aris Georgiades, Professor of Sculpture at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, has accomplished something beyond what any bicycle fanatic wouldever dream possible.

He has linked 18 Vintage Schwinn Bicycles together to form one continuous, rideable circle. Through participation on this component bike sculpture, the work becomes an interactive piece that explores the frustration of going around in a circle throughout our daily lives.

He has made this piece, titled "Spinning Our Wheels" specifically for the featured piece in the Scottsdale Arts Festival, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Aris Georgiades has lived & taught in Seattle, Chicago, and now Madison, Wisconsin. He is a professional artist and instructor, who creates both public and gallery sculpture.

X-Files pre-celebrity celebrity guest-o-rama

The house we're house-sitting has a giant TV in the basement, and the giant TV is hooked up to the extendo-superplus cable. Right now, I'm watching an X-Files guest-starring both Jack Black and Giovanni Ribisi, pre-High Fidelity and pre-Phoebe's-brother-on-Friends, respectively.

This is a lame first-post-after-extended-weekend-away, but there you go.

Out of town

The blawg is being decommissioned for the weekend so that I can enjoy drunkenness, chili, and cinnamon rolls (and, perhaps, cinnamon rolls dipped in chili) at a cabin in the woods. The blaug and I will be back on Monday.

More on Nike Free and Vitruvian philosophy -

The function of shoes, as I understand this philosophy, is to interfere with your stride the least amount possible - you wear them to protect your feet from broken glass, thorns, and porcupines. From Slowtwitch:
Modern shoes don't force runners to land on the heels, but with the heel slightly (and in some cases considerably) thicker than the forefoot area they certainly encourage it, particularly among slower runners. Landing on the heels isn't simply a question of asking the rocket science of today's shoe to absorb three to six times the body's weight - realistically, they can't. Landing on the heels requires the foot to remain in contact with the ground far longer. Apart from slowing the runner down, this form of footstrike makes little use of the important shock-absorbing arch muscles in the foot and in very many cases leads to problems of over-pronation. In the early years of a runner's life over-pronation is "corrected" (as the shoe giants would have it) by expensive stability shoes. In later years your podiatrist will be charging even more for custom orthotics.

This is not new research. The information that harder midsoles attenuate shock better than soft soles has been public since 1987. "We've known about it for a long, long time," said Mr Bartold. The problem, he says, is that many sports shoe manufacturers have spent considerable amounts of money marketing certain products and are unwilling to change their marketing focus. "What you are dealing with is a very unusual crossover between hard-core science and a commercial product, and it's an unholy marriage."

And more:
Even with the best posture, running with a heel strike puts a greater loading on the quads and the iliotibial band, whereas forefoot running spreads the loading more evenly, encouraging muscle elasticity in the hamstrings, calves and foot flexors in absorbing shock and generating elastic rebound: calf and thigh muscles work together to absorb the body's weight. This relieves the knees, iliotibial band, hips and lower back and results in a far lower incidence of training injuries.

One more:
Gordon Pirie (former 5,000 WR holder) argued that 70% of running injuries today are directly attributable to the poor running shoes of today that force people to run incorrectly (and that correct running is injury free). The heel-strike character of most running shoes is troublesome. First, the heel is not a natural shock absorber. Your arch, and foot are the first areas of shock absorption while the achilles and calf muscles control pronation. Furthermore, landing flat footed allows for the knee to come over the foot and bend more quickly which allows the legs to take up more of the shock absorption. Some studies have actually shown that barefooted running is more shock absorbent than running in common running shoes.

Little girl or shark?

If a girl 1/3 my age can swim twice as fast, does that make her six times better than me?


Update on this: Although my order was placed around 11:00 p.m. last night, Vitruvian put my shoes on a UPS truck this morning!

Based on a some glowing recommendations at Slowtwitch, I ordered a pair of Vitruvian Proportion running shoes last night. My Mizuno Wave Riders are getting floppy and worn anyway, and for $30 shipped (for the old models), they're worth a try. They're ugly, even for someone who appreciates the aesthetics of ugly, but I like their development and design philosophy -
Who are we? We're just people who've made some shoes. Running shoes.

Lots of 'em. For quite a while. Famous brands. Famous names. Famous feet. Then something occurred to us while we were toiling away bringing the ideas of others to fruition. Their focus was in the wrong direction. Their ideas are of shiny materials. Their ideas are about new goofy gizmos dubbed "technology". Their ideas are meant to sell shoes. Their ideas are meant to sell more shoes than the competition. This is called "gaining market share". And that's what it's all about, for them.

For us, it's all about making the best possible running shoes that we can.

As we've noted, we've got some experience to help us. Trying to keep a bunion from getting irritated. Trying to squeeze out that last gram of weight. Trying to keep the cushioning from fading before hitting the finish line. Been there, done that.

Most athletic shoe brands have their "gimmick". You know, a midsole with a capsule full of air, jelly, water, etc. Cool looking doo-dads that are molded into the upper. Special space-age polymer stabilizing bars, pods, posts, etc. Funky lacing systems or no laces at all. Doesn't it make you wonder who's right? What really works?

Let's take a look at the technology that goes into every Vitruvian Running shoe, or maybe we should say "lack of technology".

My shoes should be here by the middle of next week - you'll get a full report after I put some miles under them.

Further proof

Want more proof that Wil Wheaton is cool? Apparently he reviews video games for the Onion's AV Club. If I hadn't been primed to be on the lookout for Wil Wheaton, I probably would have just chalked it up to someone with an unfortunate name!
Enduring contribution to gaming history: R.C. Pro-Am combined the simple concept of racing a little car with the equally simple concept of blasting the crap out of your opponents. This was such a successful formula that Rare went on to combine the simple concept of a father and son running through the jungle with the equally simple concept of talking monkeys, creating Donkey Kong Country, one of the greatest Super Nintendo titles of all time. —Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton is the author of Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek. He has a magic remote that controls the future.

Trail shoes

I took your recommendations into account, but decided to ignore you - I just ordered the tangerine Vasque Velocities.

Anger-inducing appointment #2

First Michael Bolton's UN-dismissing brother for UN ambassador, and now neo-con Wolfowitz for World Bank president?!? These appointments could have easily been me (for UN ambassador) and Bono (for World Bank president) - it would have saved a lot of people a lot of hassle.

My new dissertation topic: Rate that flag!

I suppose you could rank states by GDP or balance of payments or military budget or per capita health care expenditures, but let's be honest with ourselves - it's all about the flag. According to the site's author -
I assigned the letter grades in the way I usually mark student papers. C would be assigned to flags that were just satisfactory, but seriously flawed in some way; B to strong attempts with minor flaws; and A to inspired or advanced work. Anything lower than a C- is a fail: that country would be better off without a flag at all.To recieve an F, a flag had to be so awful that its level of badness was clearly qualitatively different from that of any flag receiving a D. I had to feel that a country receiving an F had really set out to create a genuinely horrible flag, or didn't really know what a flag was.

Best - Gambia (90/100) - "Great design and colour choice. Also represents the geography of the country (without being a map)."

Note: I suppose the author means that the center stripe looks long and narrow like Gambia. Judge for yourselves:

Worst - Northern Mariana Islands (2/100) - "Appears to have been constructed from clip art. Truly awful."

Beware the Ides of March

But continue to ignore the Nones of July. Wikipedia has more information about the Roman calendar than you ever cared to know.
The Romans had special names for 3 specific days in each month. The system was originally based on phases of the Moon (Luna), and these days were probably declared when the lunar conditions were right. After the reforms of Numa Pompilius, they occurred on fixed days.

Kalends - first day of the month, from which the word "calendar" is derived. Interest on debt was due on Kalends.
Nones – depending on the month, could be the 5th or the 7th day; traditionally the day of the Half Moon
Ides – depending on the month, could be the 13th and 15th day; traditionally the day of the Full Moon

Days were numbered in a way that is quite different from the modern Western calendar. The Romans did not count the days of the month retrospectively, looking back to the first of the month (that is: 1st, 2nd day since the start of the month, 3rd day since the start of the month). They counted forward to their named days. Also, to the distress of moderns trying to work out dates in Roman calendar documents, they counted inclusively, so that September 2 is considered 4 days before September 5, rather than 3 days before.

The example of September
The following example spells out how days were named for the pre-Julian September, which had only 29 days. It shows the Roman form of the date, the translation, and how we would say it today. The Romans used abbreviations: "a.d." = "ante diem" = "day before", "prid." = "pridie" = "the day before", "Kal" = "Kalends" etc.

Kal. Sept. = Kalends of September = September 1
a.d. IV Non. Sept. = 4 days before the Nones of September = September 2
a.d. III Non. Sept. = 3 days before the Nones of September = September 3
prid. Non. Sept. = the day before the Nones of September = September 4
Non. Sept. = Nones of September = September 5
a.d. VIII Id. Sept. = 8 days before the Ides of September = September 6
a.d. VII Id. Sept. = 7 days before the Ides of September = September 7 and so on till
a.d. III Id. Sept. = 3 days before the Ides of September = September 11
prid. Id. Sept. = the day before the Ides of September = September 12
Id. Sept. = Ides of September = September 13
a.d. XVII Kal. Oct. = 17 days before the Kalends of October = September 14
a.d. XVI Kal. Oct. = 16 days before the Kalends of October = September 15 and so on till
a.d. III Kal. Oct. = 3 days before the Kalends of October = September 28
prid. Kal. Oct. = the day before the Kalends of October = September 29
Kal. Oct. = Kalends of October = October 1
Notice that by counting inclusively and by having a special name for the day before a named day the Roman calendar loses the possibility of saying: 2 days before a named day. Also, after the Ides, the date no longer mentions September, but is counting down towards October.

When Julius Caesar added a day to September, he didn't add it to the end of the month. Rather, the new day that got added was the day after the Ides:

a.d. XVIII Kal. Oct. = 18 days before the Kalends of October = September 14
As a result, the position of all the following dates in September got bumped up by one day. This has some unexpected effects for modern readers. For example, the emperor Augustus was born on 23 September 63 BC. In the pre-Julian calendar this is 8 days before the Kalends of October (or, in Roman style, a.d. VIII Kal. Oct.), but in the Julian calendar it is 9 days: a.d. IX Kal. Oct. Because of this change, in some parts of the Empire his birthday was celebrated on both dates, i.e. (for us) on 23 and 24 September.

Iteration 17

Like a Traveling Wilbury, this set of questions goes from blog to blog. Answer them on your own blog, so like billionare adventurer Steve Fosset, they may continue to circle the globe.

1. Total amount of music files on your computer?
1.21 GB, 540 files. I'm still warming up to the idea of digital music on a large scale - I'm very tactile.

2. The last CD you bought was:
Francis the Mute - Mars Volta. I feel like they make music that I _should_ like, but I haven't been able to get into the new CD or De-loused in the Crematorium.

3. What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?
New Pornographers - "It's Only Divine Right"

4. Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
Hmmmm - is it sad or telling (or both) that I can't name these off the top of my head? Here are five songs that I would be really excited to hear on the Current -
The Black Keys - "All Hands Against His Own"
The Shins - "Young Pilgrims"
Elliott Smith - "A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to be Free"
New Pornographers - "The Laws Have Changed"
The Decemberists - "Billy Liar"

5. What 3 people are you going to pass this baton to and why?
Like J.Po, I'll also be encouraging Spice to post, and I'll also be encouraging ELF (because I don't have a good sense of what kind of music she likes) and T-bone (because his taste overlaps with mine) to play.

Beginning of the end

This morning I found a patch of white hair in my beard - only two or three hairs, but I think that qualifies as a patch. Missy also told me that I'm starting to look like a lumberjack. She didn't say "elderly lumberjack" but I could tell she was thinking it.

A Very Long Engagement

Missy and I just got back from (1) seeing A Very Long Engagement, a French film about hope in the face of WWI, and (2) arguing most of the way home about whether it had a sad and satisfying or happy but disappointing ending. Watch it and get back to me.

Still better than anything else

Despite my newfound appreciation for The Current, I'm finding that their playlist skews heavily toward the singer-songwriter end of my musical taste. Some new stuff from The Hives or The Strokes or Trail of the Dead, or any of the heavier stuff from Modest Mouse, would bring The Current's mean a little closer to my mean.
And now the Current is playing Neko Case. Let's start an underground radio station in Madison.


There's an embarrassing amount of free music to be had through Fingertips - thanks to Salon's Audiofile for the link. In particular, check out the Top 10 lists and the list of mp3 hubs.

The New Music page also has excellent reviews of the music, in case you like to download sparingly. For example, the site has this to say about "The Engine Driver" from The Decemberists not-yet-released album, Picaresque:
With crisp, minor-chord rhythm guitar, spacious yet intimate percussion, and an unusually effective melodica, the Decemberists deliver a haunting take on the time-honored train song--whether metaphorical or actual, the train conjured here both lyrically and musically feels lost even as it chugs by necessity along its predestined tracks. While not as obviously a historical tale as many this unique band has told, there's yet something in the graceful fabric that suggests history (and history's handmaiden, loss)--something that has much to do with the distinctive, nasal urgings of singer/songwriter Colin Meloy's voice and his singular syntax and vocabulary. "The Engine Driver" will be found on the band's new Picaresque CD, due out on the Kill Rock Stars label on March 22. The MP3 comes to us via Filter Magazine.

A bold prediction

AM/FM radio is a dead-end technology, and I predict that we'll see its demise in the next 10-20 years. It's something we'll tell our grandkids about when they visit us in the home. I don't know a single person that listens to AM/FM radio outside of their car, so in my mind, the only barrier to its end is that wireless internet coverage isn't broad enough to let me listen to The Current while I'm driving. Once we have a wireless internet blanket over the country, you'll be typing urls into your car stereo instead of tuning the radio. Satellite radio like XM and Sirius are a stopgap, but I don't think subscription-based broadcasts can overcome our social expectations of free radio.

Frankly, with the general crappiness of Madison radio, the change can't come fast enough for me.

"And here's some local stuff..."

Wow - I feel cooler just listening to Minnesota Public Radio's 89.3: The Current. And I'm pretty cool in the first place.

Edited to add: Seriously, who else is going to play "Nowhere Again" by Secret Machines? No one, that's who. "There's a woman in the mirror in a firey state. She motions to me - I start pulling away" indeed. Ack - in the time it took me to post this, they started playing "My Mind is Rambling" by The Black Keys!

Madison has to have the market for a station like this, doesn't it? Why is our college station so craptacular?

Over-engineered vs. barefoot

Adidas and Nike have both launched a new flagship running shoe - interestingly, they're based on very different biomechanical philosophies. The Adidas 1: The World's First Intelligent Shoe is an overengineered monstrosity - a microcomputer in the heel analyzes your footstrike and tells a motor (yes, a motor) how much cushioning and support you need. The Nike Free, on the other hand, is meant to simulate barefoot running with a flexible footplate, little cushioning or motion-control, and very light weight.

The debate that caused this shoe-development divergence is based on a relatively controversial (well, as controversial as these things get. It's not abortion) new method of running. The POSE method advises runners to employ the ball of their foot and strike the heel second - the natural result is that you run leaning forward more and feel like you're pulling your hamstring forward instead of pushing back. I think there's something here - try running barefoot (like we were designed to do) - you won't strike your heel first. The minimalist design is also a response to recent research which has shown that motion-control and support technology has increased dramatically over the last 15-20 years, but running-related injuries have held steady.

Adidas does have a good commercial though (about 7MB). Nike counters with a pretty good selection of wallpapers, including this one, which I've replaced J.Po's toasted toaster with.

Also, I've learned that shoe company websites are the most flash-heavy things I've ever visited.

I touched her arm - eeeee!

After a few hours of dissembly, hauling and unloading last night, the Midwest Scrapbook Expo-a-thon-palooza is over. The surprising star of back left corner of the show was none other than M.Bro herself. She's been doing pages for EK Success, a scrapbook supply company based in New York City, primarily for their displays at shows like the one in Madison. The last three pages she did were for a new line of nesting circle and square punches, and EK decided to use her pages not only for show displays but as their in-store displays. Every store that orders these punches from EK will also receive a display of M.Bro's three pages to give customers an idea of how to use them. People at the show were very excited to meet M.Bro when they found out that she's a designer for EK - seriously, one woman left to get her friends. Like any good celebrity, M.Bro said she was red-faced and embarrassed.

A non-smoking room, please

Sometimes, even though I'm a really famous blogland personality, I like to do social things with my readers. Last night, for example, I let a few of them come with me to Hotel Rwanda. I can't say much about the bulk of the movie that hasn't already been said, but I do think that it would have won more awards with a different ending. If you haven't seen it, stop reading right here. The last shot, of Paul, his wife, and all the kids smiling and walking directly into the camera, struck me as something from an 80's film - I wouldn't have been surprised if the last shot had been them in mid-celebratory-jump with their arms splayed in the air. I also think it gave viewers a false sense of closure - the post-film text wasn't strong enough to convey that the movie ended at the beginning of the civil war, and that many hundreds of thousands more would be killed before it came to an end.

Star Wars geekery

All this talk about how "dark and disturbing" the third prequel is going to blow up in George Lucas' face. I'm sure he's a smart guy, but he needs to learn a thing or two about raising expectations - the people that are most excited to see this movie aren't the eight year-olds who really might think Episode III is dark or disturbing - they're 25-30 year-olds who have already seen - gasp! - R-rated movies and aren't likely to be disturbed by anything that's only rated PG-13. These guys are going to believe the hype, go to the movie with high expectations (because, although they've been disappointed by Lucas in the past, they really, really, really want to believe in the franchise), and be disappointed when they don't get soul-wrenching, ultra-violent scenes of brother-on-brother genocide.
[Entertainment News]: New York, Mar 12 : "Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith" will be dark and disturbing and may warrant for parental guidance for the first time since the series began nearly 30 years ago, revealed director George Lucas.

The film, which opens in May, "is much more dark ... more emotional. It's much more of a tragedy," he added.

Lucas explained that Anakin Skywalker's transformation from cute good guy into the evil Darth Vader features a scene that could scare little kids.

Landing on a volcano-ridden planet called Mustafar, Skywalker makes "a pact with the devil," he says. "The lava at the end ... it ends in hell." (ANI)


I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror at the gym tonight - is it irresponsible of me to want to have kids someday when it's likely that I'll pass the excessive-chest-arm-and-leg-hair gene on to them?

Welfare, Health Care, and Caring for the Health and Welfare of Bosnia

I'm often the token International Relations grad student at American Politics-oriented functions - they like to feel like they're multi-subfield and I like to feel like I have friends, so it works. Last night, Spice and the person that Spice makes a nice couple with presented a paper on elite discourse and public opinion to a group of 7 Americanists and me. I didn't have much to add for most of the conversation, but it did strike me while I was reading the paper and during discussion how similar their ideas were to some of the stuff on Bosnia that I'm working on for J.Peve. They're writing about how streams of information from elites shapes the formation, intensity, and direction of public opinion - we're writing about how Congressional cues during the build-up to war affect the probability that the public will support the war. Maybe we're not so different after all. We ended the evening with a big hug and some Salad Toppins.

Even I have shortcomings

I decided to bite the bullet, admit my shortcomings, and e-mail my gym to see if any of the trainers are trained in swimming instruction. I've progressed quite a bit in the last three years - from not being able to swim a 25 without treading water to hyperventilate to pretty consistent 1:50 100s - but I'm starting to feel like that's about as far as I'm going to be able to go on my own. I've seen my wife progress much faster thanks (at least in part) to input from me, but I need to find a faster, better, more efficient swimmer to learn from.

If you swim well and you live in Madison, there's a day-pass to my pool and a dinner on me in it for you.

Skull and bones and cheese

I don't know if my students think they're in a finishing school for professional elites, but there's certainly a sense of entitlement - to A's, to large amounts of my time whenever they want, to special consideration for any excuse. I'd much rather teach students that worked hard in high school to get B's than a great deal of my students - many of whom I suspect received A's without much effort. I've yet to meet a TA that would characterize the general UW-Madison undergrad population as hard-working and intellectually curious. Admittedly, it's possible that's just a function of their age and the transition from being taught to learning - maybe my expectations are too high. Are my students qualified to be at this school? Sure. Are they the students who will benefit the most from the type of education that we try to provide? I'm not so sure.
To prevent failure, middle-class parents pass along to their children every possible advantage, in the form of "social capital," or those habits of speech and self-discipline that allow a child to thrive in the classroom. Middle-class parents who can afford the property taxes move to the best school districts, or send their children to private schools. Economists have a vocabulary for this: They write about "Cobb-Douglas utility functions," whereby parents forgo current consumption in order to secure for their children high levels of future income. Legal theorists have a vocabulary for this: They talk about inter vivos bequests, whereby parents pass along a good education as a kind of inheritance. (Even literary critics have a vocabulary for this: They talk about Bourdieu-ian "reproduction.") So there's a technical language for inherited middle-class advantages; but as of now no ideological, no emotional, and no public-policy language for the phenomenon. Held to the impossible standard of the Golden Age, universities are now easily portrayed—even public universities, and even the old land-grant colleges—as finishing schools for a stable professional elite.

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid

Spice burned a pile of my CDs last week, including Sgt. Pepper. I haven't listened to that album since my Beatles phase (which every future nerd goes through apparently) 9 or 10 years ago. I needed to swap the pile of CDs in my car anyway, so I decided to put it int he mix. It turns out that it holds up pretty well, although I appreciate it an good-pop-album sort of way now instead of a only-music-that-has-ever-and-will-ever-matter kind of way.

Oh, and that other one too

In preparation for this weekend's Midwest Scrapbooking Expo, the Cap Times ran a story this morning about the industry. In this story, they listed every retailer in Madison - except for the Scrapbook Superstore. I'm not even putting a link to the story in this post.
For the cutting edge of new products, check some popular online sites, such as, and A few of the local scrapbooking stores include Archiver's: The Photo Memory Store, 1661 Deming Way in Greenway Crossing; Madtown Scrappers, 1601 Thierer Road; and Got 2 Scrap in Sun Prairie. (Check the Web and the phone book for more local listings.)

Rita, the owner, called them to point this out, but she said they were less than accomodating. So I'm pointing it out - if you're shopping for scrapbook supplies in Madison, I highly recommend the Scrapbook Superstore at 6684 Odana Rd. Look for the tall, pretty lady - she'll take care of you.

Old photos

My grandfather (who is one of my regular readers) and grandmother, Eldon and Barbara, are celebrating their 50th anniversary this weekend. Feeling a little nostalgic, I reckon, Grandpa has been sending out old photos of their kids (including such people as my mom), nieces, and nephews.

My grandfather took the photo below with a 35mm Argus C-3 Rangefinder that he bought many years ago in the Navy. He didn't say, but I suspect that he developed it himself too. He used to have a photo lab on the second floor of his house - if I can get him to scan and send more of his photography, I'll post it.

The kids in the photo are (front to back, left to right) - Angie Marsh, Kirby Marsh (my uncle), Joni Miller, Krista Marsh (my aunt), Russ Marsh, Jacque Marsh, Denise Marsh (my mom), Gayle Marsh (my aunt), Julie Miller, Mark Miller, and Carla Marsh.

Red shoes on the swingset

Apparently someone beat both me and the MBG to the punch - the Orange Shoe Gym has just opened in the '19 area ZIP code (that's a new thing I'm trying - Missy and I are '16ers, but I work in '11). It's really quite similar, to the point where I'm having trouble believing they're not related somehow.

MBG has boot camp and body power - OSG has recess and push-n-pull.
Remember how much fun recess was as a kid? Always staring at the clock waiting for it, never wanting it to end, and never, ever boring! Recess inspired us at Orange Shoe Gym to go back to the drawing board and create a one-of-a-kind class that recreates the good ol' days of being in shape.

Strength and power give you the ability to do short-term work and one-time movements. PUSH 'N PULL helps you develop functional strength and power by doing exercises related to the activities of daily living—lifting your kid out of the car, helping a friend move, or even hitting a golf ball off a tee.

Some photos of the OSG's interior:

I just sent them an e-mail asking whether my (fictional) membership at the Williamson St gym was good for both locations - I'll post the answer once I get it.

Edited to add: That's just the kind of keen eye for detail you'd expect from an '03 dork.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

I, for one, welcome our new feline overloads.
BATES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- An Upper Peninsula man cooking in his kitchen was shot after one of his cats knocked his 9mm handgun onto the floor, discharging the weapon, Michigan State Police said.

Pre-emptory protest?

I sent my students an e-mail two days ago outlining the procedure for challenging a midterm grade - 48-hour cooling-off period, submitted in writing, all that jazz. I'm going to start handing the exams out tomorrow - no one has seen their scores at this point. When I got back from Dissertateurs sans Frontieres tonight, I had a response from student that read something like, "I need to set up an appointment next week to talk about my exam grade." I'm hoping she knows she did poorly on the exam (which she did) and wants to talk about that, and not that she's planning to protest my grade no matter what it happens to be.


Kathy Falk is sitting at the table next to mine at Michaelangelo's.

Qdoba, Qdoba - Threeeee Generaaations of Valluuuuuue!

Local burritory Qdoba has begun their first radio advertising program (to my memory, at least), and I have to say - it's quite terrible. They've adopted the faux-live-broadcast genre of commercial, which is second only to faux-customer-testimonial genre in terms of my hatred. Let me give you a little snippet:
Interviewer (who is in the Qdoba kitchen, sampling their amazing freshness and quality): Now which of these is the medium salsa?

Peppy Qdoba employee: Oh, we don't have medium salsa. What would "medium" taste like anyway? This is the Salsa Grande!

Interviewer: Mmmmmm!

That's right - Qdoba would like you to believe that "medium" has no taste, but "large" is packed with authentic southwest flavor!

Also, you have a chance to impress me by naming the company that originally did the jingle in the title.

Ohhh, despair and woe!

God - it's depressing outside today - gray, dismal, windy, 30 degrees colder than yesterday, and all under the threat of impending snow. I'm going to get a lot of work done though.

Half of an Ironman (roughly)

Tomorrow I'm starting my 14-week half-ironman training plan in preparation for the Menomonie Tinman, which is not quite a half-ironman - 1.5/58.5/12.4 instead of 1.2/56/13.1. It's a modified 18-week plan - I shortened it to fit the time I have before my race, and lengthened/increased the frequency of the long bike rides to help me prepare for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike race the weekend after my half-ironman.

This'll be the first time in three seasons of racing that I've followed an actual day-to-day training plan - I've always just trained based on intuition and how much time I had. My hope is that this will keep me honest - that a detailed plan will keep me from skipping pool workouts just because I don't feel like doing them.

My goals for the Tinman are pretty aggressive, so I think I'm going to need something structured. My last half-ironman was two seasons ago - a 6:21:06 (46:39 swim / 2:58:16 bike / 2:30:17 run). My goals for this race (which has slightly different lengths) are:

Swim: 49:00 (pace - 1:54/100 yards)
Bike: 3:00 (pace - 19.5 mph)
Run: 1:40 (pace - 8:15/mile)

With a few minutes for each transition, my overall goal is 5:35. In the 2004 event, that time would have given me 11th place (out of 28) overall and 3rd (of 7) in my age group.

The Menomonie Tinman is my early-season test for my A-race - the Lake Geneva Half-Ironman on September 10th. That's an office half-ironman distance, and I'm hoping to push my time down to 5:15 (37:00 swim / 2:45 bike / 1:45 run).

"Hey - that guy on the bike looks like an irresponsible grad student!"

That was fun. My plan was to start from the Pacific Cycle parking lot, take the SW bike path to Seminole Highway, and do a quick Paoli loop - all told, just under 30 miles. The combination of warm temps and a low-lying bike path made the first mile of my ride more of a wade - my shoes and socks were soaked and I was cold. But I was outside, my bike was with me, and I was going to go for a real ride soon. I met a couple slogging in the other direction, and wished them luck and dry socks.

Seminole was dry, and I was pleased to find that I hadn't lost my cycling legs - the off-season running and weight-lifting paid off I guess. I climbed Observatory Drive around the halfway point, and very surprisingly, didn't feel too bad. People who've ridden it with me before have been known to comment, "That's strange - I HEAR an ashmatic donkey, but I don't SEE one anywhere." It wasn't a training ride for me - just a chance to put some miles under my wheels, so it really was a pleasant surprise to find that I hadn't lost too much cycling fitness in the off-season.

The Paoli loop was packed with cyclists - I was paying attention, and there were only two times when I couldn't see someone either approaching me or being reeled in by me. Almost everyone waved or said hello - we're a nice cycling community here.

The snow runoff outside of the city is really a sight to see, as stupid as that sounds. It's like tiny raging rivers coming down the sides of miniature 200' mountains. Really - some of them had whitecaps.

I think of the Madison package as three parts - the city as a whole, downtown/campus, and the surrounding countryside. If you live here and you're only experiencing the first two, you're only getting 2/3 of the experience you deserve.

What's this contraption I'm sitting on?

The forecasted high for today was 48 degrees - which the thermometer in our car had already passed by the time we got in at 9:30 this morning. I'm done grading and I'm blowing off Bosnia to pull my bike out of the basement and see if I remember how to work it. It's not on my training plan for today, but pre-Spring warm days like this are just too good to pass up.

A full ride report will follow...


"An example of this is pre-World War Two, meaning right before World War Two, when there were many nations with power, which lead to war - World War Two."

Aw - does some wittle guy feewl wike his answer needs to be just a teensy-weensy bit wonger?


My grading hand is cramped like a claw. Strangely enough, this doesn't seem to affect my blogging.

Feet that are Fleet

After the Valentine's 5K, there was a flyer under my windshield washer for a new running store in Madison - Fleet Feet, which is part of a national chain. The store, which is on Old Sauk Rd, is set to open on April 1 (unless it's all an elaborate prank. Which would be really funny). I'm pretty loyal to Movin' Shoes on Park Street, and naturally distrustful of national chains, but I read a post on TNO today that gave me a nice, warm feeling about Fleet Feet.
When I walk in, I see a hub of activity. A woman (who is one of the owners) came over to help me. She put me on a treadmill (with running shoes) and videotaped me while I run. She analyzed my run and suggestsed several different pairs of shoes. While I'm tried on a pair of shoes, she showed a stretching exercise to two women who were in the shop. She was constantly looking around to make sure all the people in there were being helped. I got the instant feeling that they were an integral part of the running community.

I never asked her how much the shoes cost, but as I was checking out she said "Oh yeah, those shoes are 30% off. I didn't tell you because I didn't want to influence your decision." She very well could have let me pay full price, but instead gave me the discount; even though she knew I was from out of town and probably wouldn't be back.

grad school loser

Man, what a rockin' Saturday night! I'm just chillin', kickin' back, and gradin' some Intro to International Relations midterms. Partying? Drinking? Having fun? Naw, man, I'm in grad school - this is how I like to spend my Saturday nights. And my Saturday mornings. And all the hours in between.

The last exam I graded contained this gem:
"John Kerry and other members of the Democrat party incorrectly assumed that the President was satisficing when he went to war in Iraq." I'm surprised it wasn't followed up with, "Isn't freeing people from tyranny and oppression completely rational?"

Beltline accident

When Missy and I were driving home from the gym on Thursday night, we thought it was really strange that there was no traffic on the eastbound beltline after John Nolen drive. At the South Town exit, we saw the multi-vehicle accident, and realized what was going on. A semi rear-ended a car during rush hour, causing a six-car pile-up and killing the passenger of one of the cars.

On the same night, in what you would think is a completely unrelated story, two women didn't show up for a class at Missy's store. She had planned to call them this morning to let them know that since they didn't cancel within 24 hours. Fortunately, before she dialed, she realized that she recognized one of the names - Debra Callies was the woman killed on the beltline Thursday night, probably on her way to the Scrapbook Superstore for the class. She didn't call the other woman because she's pretty sure it was the driver (whose name hasn't been released). It's such a strange feeling - I couldn't pick this woman out of a lineup, but the connection makes the accident seem much more concrete.

Sometimes karma involves graphic violence

Fair warning - this video is disturbing. If you watch closely, the kid at the beginning of the video is trying to open his car door to hit someone riding a bike with it. As the title of this post indicates, sometimes karma involves graphic violence. Having been threatened by more than my fair share of drivers while riding, I can't honestly say that I didn't wish this kind of thing would have happened to them.

You can stop the video after the first slo-mo repeat if you want to (and you'll probably want to).

Varieties of Dorkitalism

You've got your everyday sci-fi dorks. You've got your math and science dorks, which sometimes grow up, go to grad school, and become more highly-advanced methods dorks. You've also got your gaming dorks. "Wait - what are these 'gaming dorks' of which you speak?" If you'd like to explore dorky subcultures outside your own, please visit king gaming-dork's blog.

"What are his credentials?" Excellent question - not only is he willing to use "aggro" as a verb AND a noun, but he admitted on a very public website that he spent two nights waiting for a griffyn to spawn. No idea what that means? Check out his intro-to-the-terminology posts.

A loser, but a fast one

Michael Phelps, who brought shame upon the entire country by not coming back from Athens with 74 gold medals, swam the 200 freestyle in 1:32.08 last night at a meet in Texas. That's about the time it takes me to swim a 50 and catch my breath enough to be ready for another lap.

For fun, let's extrapolate that to a 2.4 mile Ironman swim. The current record is 46:39, set at last year's IM-France by Cyrille Nevue. If Phelps could hold that 200 speed for 4200 yards, he would be out of the water in 32:13.72. It's a good thing he's too gangly to ride a bike.

Delayed another season

I was crushed after the Ultramax Ironman that was supposed to be held in September was cancelled, both because I was excited to race it and because I hadn't signed up for Ironman-Wisconsin. Registration for officially-licensed Ironman races fills in aobut 12 hours (except Ironman-Malaysia - see a few posts down), so there was no way I was getting in three months later. Or was there? Apparently the Ironman Collegiate Championship is held on the same day as IM-WI, starts at the same time, uses the same course and finish line, etc. I'm a dissertator, which qualifies me as a full-time student! I'm in!

Unfortunately, the Collegiate Championship is capped at 150 entrants, and I just found out that my application was too late to get in under the cap. IM-WI is turning into a really popular race (#6 on Inside Triathlon's reader poll of must-do races), and people are getting in any way they can. I just wasn't mean to race an Ironman this summer, I guess.

I'm disappointed, but I'm not crushed. When I race another Ironman, I want to really race it, not just try to finish. This summer, with a pretty full plate of mountain bike race/trail run events that were going to involve camping out on Friday and Saturday nights, there were going to be multiple weeks without a long run or bike. I want to be able to toe the line (or tread water in the lake, as it were) knowing that a time goal (other than the 17 hour cutoff) is doable, and that probably wasn't going to be the case if I had raced in September.

Or maybe I'm just burying my disappointment in excuses.

Without that to cap my season, I decided to find a Half-Ironman around the same time - late August or early September. Fortunately for me, the Lake Geneva Extreme (note: not X-Treme) Half-Ironman is not only around the same time, but the day before IM-WI. I'm doing the Tinman Half-IM on June 12, so it'll be interesting to start and end my triathlon season with the same distance.

Kids and Triathlon

There's a thread on TNO about kids and triathlon - it's turned into a thread about adorable stories about kids saying the darnedest things. A couple of the best -
So, the other day I was wearing one of my race tshirts at home. My son looks at it & starts pointing out the pictures...

Son: "Daddy, that is swimming. That is running. That is riding a bike!"

Me: "That's right. Do you remember what it is called when you do all of those together?"

Son: "Karate!"

"Oh... Daddy?"


"That's Daddy's racing bicycle over there."


"You should go ride your bicycle and watch your video so your belly can get littler. I will watch you and tell you to go faster."

Trail shoes - help me pick a color

Since I'm racing a trail run series this summer, I decided that I should probably invest in a pair of trail-specific shoes. After a little research, the Vasque Velocity offers the combination of lightness, traction, and motion control that I want. Since the WORS series is in a bunch of locations, I really need a set of do-it-all shoes – I’d be better off with my road shoes on some of the tamer trails, but I think I’d be at a disadvantage with those on some of the more technical courses. I can get last year's model on clearance for $54 at the outlet (with free shipping to boot), but I can't decide whether I want the gray/red or gray/tangerine. What would you do, were you me?

The Vasque Velocity is a state-of-the-art trail runner, and it’s got proof: Outside Magazine recognized it as the 2003 Trail Runner of the Year. Built for motion control on rugged terrain, the Velocity provides rock-solid stability in any condition. An aggressively-lugged Vasque Mako outsole offers superb traction, while the dual-density EVA midsole, which is stiffer in the medial and postal regions of the foot, reduces pronation and collapsing. Vasque includes a nylon plate that extends from the forefoot to the arch, providing a comfortable flex with incredible torsional rigidity. TPU-reinforced Airmesh offers support and prevents the synthetic leather upper from stretching out over time. Further support is provided by lacing that extends near to the toe for a high-performance, precision fit. A burly toe rand protects those tender toes from rocks, roots, and other obstacles in the trail.

Bottom Line: While the Velocity isn’t the lightest of the light, it does absolutely everything well, providing superb trail stability in a durable shoe you won’t have to replace every couple months.

Strange goings-on at Ironman Malaysia

Head on over to my Ironman blog and read the third post, then the first post. Crazy, huh?


When the gods wrote the syntax for "grad students" they never really intended them to play floor hockey anyway, so we're calling a 1-2-1 season a triumph of sacreligious proportions. The official score was 9-1, but we kept playing after the mercy rule was invoked and brought it around to a slightly-more-respectable-but-unofficial 15-3. Goal #3 was scored by Andy, our goalie, after I proposed an all-out offensive charge in the last 45 seconds.

Dunn Bros

If you don't want to drink at coffee-shop-of-the-moment Fair Trade (maybe it's too far down State Street, maybe you can't find a table) I'd like to recommend Dunn Bros on Lake Street. Cheap coffee, free wireless, close to campus, and an in-house roaster that smells better than a new baby's head. I'll be here for most of the afternoon looking for articles about the '92-'94 buildup to Bosnia.

Then it's floor hockey MAAADNESS!

An hour of discomfort

I told my students that sections this week would be optional writing workshops - if they had questions about their papers, I would be sitting in the room where we have section for the time period that we have section. Otherwise - no discusssion this week. My 9:55 section was about what I expected - myself in a room for an hour.

When I walked into my 12:05 section, though, my hour of discomfort began. There were three students here - two of which like to ask me questions about Bush and Iraq. One student actually had questions about his paper, so he asked them and left. The other two seemed to be waiting for me to take charge and lead discussion. I told them multiple times that I'd be happy to answer any questions they had about their papers, but that they were free to leave anytime they wanted to - that there was no expectation that they were going to have to stay the whole period. After I said that, there was an uncomfortable silence (initiated by me so that they would take the not-so-subtle hint to leave), and then one of them asked me where I got my undergraduate degree. I talked about Wayne State for a couple minutes, and then asked them how their papers were coming and maybe, possibly, they might have some paper-related questions. The other one asked me what I thought of the recent events in Syria, and between Bush and Putin, and other things.

At this point I decided to change tact. I told them that I didn't think anyone else was coming and that I was going to take off. After I put my coat on, they tailed me down the hall - I ducked into the bathroom. The coast was clear.

I went back into the room so that anyone with questions about their papers could find me. Ack - who's this stranger in the room? I asked her whether she was looking for me (I'll admit that there are some of my students that I couldn't pick out of a lineup yet). She said she had a class in this room at 1:20 and was just planning to read until then. I told her what I was doing, and she said OK and put her head back into her book. I'm not going to tell her to take her Sartre somewhere else, especially since I'm pretty sure that no more of my students are coming, but now we're just two very quiet strangers sitting in a relatively small room.

Such an idiot

Remember how naive I was yesterday? Look at my post about the review sheet - particularly where I made that "joke" about giving an historical example of rationality. Oh, those were the good old days! Essay option #2 on the exam this morning was, "What are the theories of foreign policy decision-making? Use specific historical examples in your answer." According to C'lucci, the "theories of foreign policy decision-making" include...get ready for it...rational choice, bounded rationality, satisficing, prospect theory, cognitive dissonance, "muddling through", and bureaucratic politics.

Such an idiot

I sat down at my laptop and put in a New Pornographers CD to listen to while I figure out what exams I'm missing. My headphones were on, but the music was really quiet. "Huh," I thought. I tried to turn up the system volume - no better. The WMP volume didn't help either. Stupid me - I had my headphones ON but I was playing the CD through my computer speakers. I'm sure the TA office appreciated hearing most of "Mass Romantic" while I figured that out.

It's a 103-tastrophe!

Egad. C'lucci sent a review sheet to the classlist for the exam tomorrow with almost no supporting documentation.

(1) It's not clear whether the short answers will come directly from this list (which seems unlikely since "IR Theories" is on the list), which is not to say that the students are going to stop asking questions like, "Could you tell me how I'd write a short answer about 'decision-making'?"

(2) There are terms on the list that were not in lecture and are not from the book, but are so vague that we're pretty sure they have some meaning in his head ("Divisions of Power" for example). A few of us were in the TA office at the same time after lecture yesterday and decided on consistent answers, even though they may be wrong ones.

(3) The documentation that was included told the students that their short answers needed to include a "time context". Don't get me wrong - I'm all for grounding theory in reality, but these students needed a better lecturer in order to be able to do this. They don't have any idea what good a theory is for, and that you can't just say that the US-Vietnam conflict was an example of realism or liberalism or constructivism or one of the theories that he made up. It's like asking students to give an historical example of rationality, or asking whether the Cold War ended because of optimism or pessimism. Apparently the review session last night was a little contentious thanks to this.

These students are going to be in so much trouble when they try to take more advanced IR classes. Fortunately, the IR faculty consists of one guy at the moment, and he's acutely aware of the problem. It's been the most frustrating TA experience I've ever had.

"Not nerdy, but definitely not hip"

That was the evaluation the quiz gave me. If I'm not nerdy and I'm not hip, then what am I? Do I have an identity?

I am nerdier than 34% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

So close to being national champion I can taste it

I just got this e-mail from USAT, the governing body of amateur triathlon in the U.S. I think it's hilarious that I can "qualify" for the national championship by writing USAT a check for $100. There was a little fracas a few months ago when USAT lowered the qualifying standards from top 3 placing in an official qualifying race to top 50% in any USAT sanctioned triathlon. They must be really desperate for entrants! I'd be tempted to go, just so I could brag about racing in the national championship triathlon, but I wouldn't want someone who was deservedly racing to have to stand next to me in my water wings at the swim start.
"USA Triathlon is offering an exclusive Timbuk2 messenger bag as one of the benefits of purchasing a Silver or Gold membership this year. In addition, Gold members receive automatic entry into our USAT Age Group National Championship, not to mention a $15 discount on the entry fee."