Monday, February 06, 2017

Houston, mostly

I'm stuck in Bush Intercontinental Airport at the very end of a long work trip. I went to DC to teach version control for research reproducibility at the World Bank on Wednesday. Thursday, after stopping by Dianne and Kamala's offices to advocate for unified NO votes on the cabinet, I flew to Boston, where I got to see MHD briefly. I presented at the National Bureau of Economic Research at a conference for research on SNAP (food stamps) on Friday, and then flew to Houston to run my first race of the year: Rocky Raccoon 100.

Rocky Raccoon is a flat course run on five 20-mile loops in Huntsville State Park. Ian Sharman ran the fastest trail 100-miler on US soil here a few years ago, meaning if I were in shape it would be an opportunity for me to set a PR or at least go under 24 hours. However, I'm not in shape, so it just turned into a not-at-all scenic suckfest from mile 40 to mile 98 or so. Whatever. At least I stuck with it and got to catch up on a bunch of podcasts. I also met a couple nice liberals from red states and had decent gripe sessions. I wasn't really too concerned about the race anyway, it was more just an excuse to visit W&V, since they live nearby, and was a good training run. I'm in desperate need of training since I haven't done a run longer than 20 miles since October. The visiting W&V part was great, and I presented on research transparency in the department this morning.

The guy at the airport is loudly claiming that the Mayans "had help" building their pyramids. He would know because his dad's an engineer. I am going to put headphones in. My flights delayed because, suprise! it's raining in San Francisco.

Enjoy some Houston street art.
Not cool to put George and Charlie next to Andrew Jackson

Two out of Three

Houston, please explain yourself

I'm a zoning nerd

Houston, with its lack of zoning, has a lot of single family homes right next to townhomes. This is fine, and not in the dog sitting in the room on fire fine, it's actually fine. For this zoning nerd, aside from the obvious fact that the city isn't walkeable/bikeable on a large scale, it's also not walkable on small scale either--sidewalks are completely non-function since everyone, myself included, parks across them.

Lone scenery photo from Rocky Raccoon


Well, regardless of what happens to my home university/state/country/planet thanks to our new president, I got to see Hawaii before it all went up in flames. One of the funders of my data science home (the Moore Foundation) set up a conference in Hawaii for their postdoc and early career researchers. (If anybody wants to set up a research transparency and reproducibility-related conference in Alaska, that's still on my list.)

I flew to Kona a few days early, rented a car, and went to Volcanoes National Park. If I'd had more time to do research I would have hiked in the Waimanu valley instead, but VNP was pretty cool. I backpacked in to a pair of secluded beaches where I had small beaches and coves, with camping and snorkeling all to myself. The hiking to get to the beach was pretty underwhelming, as it was mostly lava and grass with no shade, but obviously the point was the beach, not the hiking.

After the beaches, I drove back to Kona around the island in the other direction, and it was far prettier. The rainy side of the island had huge lush gullies with steep cliffs and rivers running into the ocean. The conference itself was at a Marriott in what is likely a pretty standard resort on the leeward side. The snorkeling was pretty lame as visibility was very low, but I did see my first couple sea turtles.  

Great trip. Looking forward to going back someday and checking out the windward side of one of the islands.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Ultra 2017 Update

My update is that I got into Lake Sonoma, and I am number 17 on the Barkley waitlist. I was 28 last year, and the list went 13 or 14 slots deep. That means I've got a shot. The worst possibility is if I get to be number 2 or 3 on the waitlist and then don't make the trip out there, but then my name gets called, that's apparently my shot, and I go to the back of the ~1200 person waiting list.
  • February 4, 2017 Rocky Racoon 100
  • March 4, 2017 Way Too Cool 50k 
  • March 11, 2017 Marin Ultra Challenge 50-Miler
  • April 1, 2017 Barkley Marathons 
  • Backup: April 1, 2017 Bone Tempest 
  • April 15, 2017 Lake Sonoma 50M
  • May 14, 2017 Quicksilver 100K 
  • June 24, 2017 San Juan Solstice 50 (lottery Jan 15-22)
  • July 14-16, 2017 Hardrock 100 
  • August 11-15, 2017 Bigfoot 200 
  • October 7, 2017 Euchre Bar Massacre
Anyway, I ran 2,178 miles in 2016. That's 10 miles more than the AT is long (or at least how long it was in 2002 when I hiked it) so I don't feel terrible, but it is a few hundred fewer miles than last year. With Hardrock, Bigfoot, and potentially Barkley, I hope to step it up in 2017. And read books, and stretch, and waste less time on the Internet, and wake up and get to work earlier, and publish my old paper on the military, and do regular push-ups and pull-ups and sit-ups, and everything else.

End 2016

GF and I wished 2016 good riddance together, which was fun. We had the house to ourselves for Christmas and after making pancakes and vegan (TVP) sausage Christmas morning, I found a discarded tree in perfectly good shape not half a block from my house. So we gave it a new home and decorated it with cut-outs from Science and the New Yorker.

We also went to see the SF Gay Men's Chorus at the Castro Christmas Eve. Camp is definitely, definitely not my style of humor, so mostly I enjoyed it for the fact that they, unlike MoTab, would pretty clearly not perform at the inauguration of the next president even if they'd been invited.

I finally managed to find GF a steel-framed bike that fits her (47.5cm Terry Symmetry), so that was her present. We took it for rides around the marina and Treasure Island.

We also went to Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. I didn't really know anything about it before going, I was just looking for nearby BLM land a month or so ago. I assumed there had to be some, and there is (see to find public land near you). BSM is just 90 minutes to the north, and then there's a patch just west of I-5 as you head south called Clear Creek, but apparently that'll give you cancer because there's so much asbestos in the soil, so no thanks. BSM is new (Thanks, Obama!) so it was hard to find information on it on the fly. It's Forest Service land in the north half, and BLM land in the south.  The Tuleyome non-profit's trail guide is the best resource for the southern BLM portion, and the standard FS maps of Mendocino NF and Snow Mountain Wilderness will get you through the northern FS, though the Snow Mountain Wilderness map is outdated and doesn't show the expanded coverage of the wilderness.

Anyway, if you're looking for easy dirtbagging as I like to do (sleeping in your truck on the edge of wilderness) I'd recommend both the north's Snow Mountain (FS) or the south's Cache Creek (BLM) wilderness area for a couple days of winter exploration, where you can get snowed on and potentially stuck on the top of Snow Mountain, or be in short sleeves among oaks and grassy slopes the same day. There's no granite, and I'm sure it's hot as hell in the summer, but off-season it was nice. There are a million places to car camp in Mendocino NF to the north, but we actually ended up coming home a day or two early because we kept striking out when looking for places to dirtbag on the edge of Cache Creek. All the sites along Highway 16 (Cowboy Camp, the Yolo County's Cache Creek Regional Park) were closed, with gates locked, and the bridge on Road 40 across Cache Creek itself is out. If you're on the west side along Berryessa Knoxville Road, I think you'll have better luck.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Ultra 2017

2017 is shaping up to be a year. Bold typeface indicates I've already registered.
  • February 4, 2017 Rocky Racoon 100
  • March 4, 2017 Way Too Cool 50k 
  • March 11, 2017 Marin Ultra Challenge 50-Miler
  • April 1, 2017 Barkley Marathons 
  • Backup: April 1, 2017 Bone Tempest 
  • April 15, 2017 Lake Sonoma 50M (Dec 1-15 lottery) 
  • Backup: April 15, 2017 Grizzly Peak 50K 
  • May 14, 2017 Quicksilver 100K 
  • June 24, 2017 San Juan Solstice 50 (lottery Jan 15-22)
  • July 14-16, 2017 Hardrock 100 
  • August 11-15, 2017 Bigfoot 200 
  • October 14(?), 2017 Euchre Bar Massacre
That's about it. Rocky Racoon isn't really my style, but it's an excuse to visit friends in Houston, and I think I can wedge it into a multi-destination work trip. Barkley I'm not sure about, and I never am, but why not go balls out the same year I finally get into Hardrock and have already signed up for a 200-miler?

That's right. I got into Hardrock on my fifth application. To be exact I'm fourth on the waitlist, and the waitlist has never gone fewer than four spots, so I'm almost guaranteed entry. I'm pretty excited about that. And since I am unable to keep my big mouth shut and I'm supposed to be some sort of expert on research transparency and reproducibility, I will say regarding the lottery kerfuffle that running a lottery on a computer is exactly  how you leave an audit trail. Write the code, put it on the Internet beforehand, hundreds of us will inspect it, then you livestream a few people rolling dice to set the seed for the psuedo-random number generator, or use atmospheric variation from if that's not good enough for you. Cutting up strips of paper introduces a far greater possibility of human error, and if you're not livestreaming the whole paper-cutting and name-picking process, forget it.

Also, I keep making (lowball) offers on houses, I've got a few papers in the hopper, I plan to go on the job market again (contradicts point one, I know), and the world is going to Hell in a handbasket. So there's that.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

A Month Part 2

I also:
Enjoyed vegan ramen with friends.
Then I went up to the Sierras.

Got into Emigrant Wilderness one last time before serious snow closed the trailhead.

Ran on the lower Tuolumne River canyone

San Francisco's Water Supply

That's a nice canyon you got there.

I was a little cold and wet so I just came back to the East Bay and hit a far flung park I hadn't been to yet.
 Brushy Peak

I also rode bikes with friends.

Pt. Reyes

And now you're caught up. Oh wait, did I mentioned that I'm pretty sure I cracked a rib falling while climbing into the back of my truck in the middle of the night while camping? And that I'm number four on the waitlist for Hardrock next year? Both those things happened, too.