Tuesday, August 26, 2008

OK, School Can Start Now

Nothing gets the I-spent-all-summer-indoors-studying ya-ya's out like running 100 miles, so I took the train up to Truckee and fast-packed the Western States 100 course from Squaw Valley to Auburn. Starting at the base of the resort, the trail climbs through the Granite Chief Wilderness, crosses the PCT, crosses canyons, and follows ridges above the American River down through Foresthill and California's gold country, ending in Auburn. I'd only done the ~15 miles from Foresthill to the river crossing before, so it was fun to see some new terrain. I had originally hoped to keep going along the American River 52 more miles to Sacto, but it was crazy hot out, so I decided to take it (relatively) easy and just do the first 100, in two full days with a tiny bit of change on both ends.

Before starting I spent a few hours hanging out with my friends Scott (read about his recent speed hike in the SD Union-Tribune), his wife Michelle, and the superstars of PCT trail angels, Jeff & Donna Saufley.

Little Bald Mountain Lookout

Deep Canyon Creek

This is totally a mountain lion track, right? But what is the circular pad behind the main one? It doesn't appear in anything I googled. I also saw a bobcat, a few deer, lots of bear scat, and a couple bow hunters.


The hike was pretty frustrating at times, not only because it topped 101 degrees on Monday, but because I wasn't really sure what route to take. The Western States 100 course isn't always exactly the same as the Western States Trail, which sometimes, but not always, is the same thing as the Tevis trail, and sometimes there are separate horse and runner trails. To boot, there was a run on part of the WS100 course the previous weekend that hadn't yet cleared its flagging, so after leading me appropriately for many miles, it helped to confuse things at the Oregon Bar river crossing. (To those who know the trail, the recent race was flagged going up White Oak Flat, the course normally crosses the American at Oregon Bar, the horse ford is 3 miles downriver at Poverty Bar, and the American Discovery Trail route, which I took, avoids crossing the river and goes up to Driver's Flat. I got to Oregon Bar right around dark and didn't feel great about crossing by myself (during the race there's either a rope or a raft). It seemed doable in other places or in daylight, but not right then).

Big and Little Bridges Over the North Fork of the American

Placer High School track in Auburn. While covering the last mile into Auburn, I ran into this cool old retired guy Rex Maynard who's done the race twice and been an aid station captain for years, and as I was doing a ceremonial finishing lap around the track, a teacher who's done the race who was out with some students congratulated me too. That was a cool way to end a run that, although too hot, was a lot of fun.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Victory!

Sweet Lady Justice prevailed when the officer didn't show at court today, so the saga of my $503 bicycle ticket has come to a victorious close. Since I'm now (sort of) $503 richer, I think I'm gonna go buy me a PLB.

Then I'm going to walk to Truckee. OK, not really. My original hope was indeed to walk out my front door and go all the way to my friend's house in Truckee (a while ago my buddy AR said Sacto was "within walking distance" for me, so I have to prove him right), but it's 289 miles, and I have to be back for a meeting Wednesday morning, so I think I'm just gonna take the train up to Truckee on Saturday, run the Western States 100 course from Squaw Valley to Auburn, and hopefully tack on the 52 more from Auburn to Sacto.

I have this same problem.

I can totally sympathize with John McCain's not knowing how many houses he owns. [Insert angry sarcastic remark here.]

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Do the Right Thing, 19 Year Later

I just watched Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing for the first time (the AFI released a new top 100 list, so I guess I have to watch all the ones that weren't on the original list now, and Right Thing is #96). I remember Spike Lee being pretty controversial when I was a kid growing up in a mostly white suburb, but I hadn't seen many of his films and mostly just thought of him as a big Knicks fan, so it was interesting to go back and see what all the talk was about. I've previously only seen Malcolm X (amazing job by Denzel Washington, but the long extraneous dance scenes wore on me) and Inside Man (good, if just a regular bank heist movie) and I thought Right Thing was very uneven. It's a scorching hot day, so everybody's supposed to be upset, but it all just comes across as caricatured and jokey (maybe that's partly because of the colorful way the film was lit and the awful 80's neon spandex everyone is wearing, but one character's name is "Buggin' Out," and he plays the goofy part), so I felt absolutely no tension building throughout the first hour and a half of the movie, and then all the violent emotion at the end felt totally odd. Radio Raheem only appears in a few scenes before the final one, and despite the fact that Spike Lee calls him Mookie's "best friend" in the DVD commentary, it wasn't clear to me that he was particularly tight with any of the main characters, so I hadn't grown attached to him at all.

In the DVD director commentary, both Spike and Joie Lee talk about how people who view the destruction of the pizzeria as more important than Raheem's death need to re-evaluate their priorities. I would completely agree with that in real life, but in the movie I think that's an unfair comparison. Raheem was a bit character who showed basically no emotion through 75% of the movie, but you grow deeply attached to Sal the pizzeria owner: you spend time learning about him and you see him show his care for his sons and Mookie and his sister. So yes, I cared more about the pizzeria than Raheem, and if a minor white character had been killed by cops, I wouldn't have cared about them either--they were a minor character. The movie made me care about Sal's pizzeria, and Raheem was only on screen long enough to boss a couple people around with his big boom box and then he was seriously trying to strangle and kill Sal until the police came. The police are another thing. They were introduced in a comical scene about a fire-hydrant, so the movie didn't give me any reason to think that they serially mistreated the neighborhood. So I think it's a phony comparison and I don't like that Spike Lee might think I'm racist when I really don't think I am.

I happily admit, however, that the movie made me think, a lot, and about important things, which is way more than I can say for Tropic Thunder, which I also watched yesterday. And the image of Mookie calmly taking the trash bag out of the can then throwing the can through the window and instigating the riot is a great moment in film.

Records Fall

Looks like only half of the trail record attempts I know about will be successful this year. David Horton's attempt to do a supported CDT run and break Squeaky's unsupported 75-day CDT record ended after one truly hellish day, and Karl Meltzer won't be beating Andrew Thompson's AT record of 47 days and change thanks to an injury, but I'm pretty sure that Scott and Joe broke the PCT speed record, finishing yesterday evening for a total of 71 days and a few hours, taking 8 days off Joe's previous record (unconfirmed but near certain given location a day or so ago), and Jennifer Pharr Davis destroyed the women's AT record, finishing a couple days ago in 57 days, 16 hours. Happy trails to all.

Update: the first link made it clear Karl was still going to finish the AT, but an updated post implies the record will still be within reach. He's resting today, but he was several miles ahead of Andrew Thompson's splits before this. Best wishes for a full speedy recovery.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I think I did OK

The test is over. I had to answer 3 of 3 questions, one on comparative negligence, one on contingency fees, treble damages, and the loser-pays system, and one on the efficiency of federalism. All pretty open-ended non-mathy questions, so I ran out of time and didn't go back and see if anything I'd written made any sense, but I think I did OK.



I thought I did fine last time too, but apparently not, so like she says, I don't even want to talk about it. Results in a couple weeks. I'm the only one that took it, so it shouldn't be too long. I'm going to court on Thursday and plan to get the hell out of Dodge immediately thereafter. School starts for me next Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grr. Arg.

Conservatives hate endangered animals, and the state of Wyoming hates roadless wilderness.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Freecycle Score

How cool is freecycling?

Free bike panniers cool. They were made by Overland Equipment in Chico, but it doesn't seem like they make them anymore.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Links

1. barackobamaisyournewbicycle.com is funny. So are copy-cat
ronpaulisyournewbicycle.com
and
johnmccainisyourjalopy.com
, albeit to a lesser extent. (MJ)

2. Last night, I was very sad that I couldn't find anybody with whom to go to the US Air Guitar National Finals, held in SF. Seriously, click on the link and watch the first video by Hot Lixx Hulahan. Freaking amazing. Then read the article about the NYC winner that lost a toe!
The Chron article about a local competitor.
If anybody has a copy of Air Guitar Nation I can borrow, hooks me up.

3. Karl Meltzer is trying to run the AT in 47 days.

4. I really dislike Olympic opening ceremonies. I was tempted to watch some of yesterday's because one of my favorite directors, Zhang Yimou, was in charge of it, but I didn't. For a film and politics buff like me, the NYT article about how Zhang used to be banned by the government, but is now buddy-buddy is very interesting. (And while I'm at it, shame on the IOC and the Chinese government for not letting foreign journalists use the full series of tubes.)

5. I love this Chron columnist. How you can make it up to the world for having voted for W.

6. Sorry, but I loved neither Flags of Our Fathers nor Letters from Iwo Jima. Flags, watch the moving The Best Years of Our Lives instead, and Letters, the only good Japanese Army officers are the pseudo-American ones? Lame.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Berkeley

76 was giving away free gas, but the billboard didn't last long.

Steve-o, back from Thailand.

I suppose this one could be offensive if interpreted in a certain fashion, but I thought it was kind of funny in an I'm-so-completely-not-ready-to-be-a-father-knocked-up sorta way.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Counterexamples?

Can someone please counter these examples (Prop 8, NRA) of underhanded tactics by conservative groups with examples of underhanded tactics by progressive groups so that I just spend this week being disillusioned rather than angry and arrogant?

No Longer Just Daydreams

I had a dream about the PCT last night. I was hiking somewhere on the JMT near a beautiful alpine lake; the trail, with steps carved and blasted into granite, was descending to the east side of the lake (I was hiking north) and to the lake's outlet, which passed through a logjam and then cascaded down. A male hiker who sort of claimed to be a thru-hiker but was skipping around a lot came up to me while I was looking out at the lake and started complaining about his ankle hurting him. He said it didn't hurt that bad, but he wanted to skip ahead further north to around Seiad Valley or Burney Falls or Belden because of his ankle. I got really mad and told him that was a stupid idea. If his ankle hurts here, it's going to hurt there too, so it would be retarded to miss the most beautiful part of the trail, and if you're going to skip any part of the trail, it should be the boring stretch in Northern California. Then he talked about how scary this place called "Deadman's Lake" was, and then we watched two cartoon beavers have a log-rolling competition (standing on the logs and trying to spin it to knock the other off) in the lake's logjam, a girl floating on a log raft in the lake weighed in on the matter, and I woke up.

Not quite as messed up as the time I was a flying graham cracker mattress floating down the street I grew up on, but interesting nonetheless. I should go study now.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bush's War

I stumbled upon a PBS documentary from earlier this year Bush's War on TV in the break-room at work. From what I saw, it was really good. You can watch the whole thing free online.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Nothing to Report

I haven't done any interesting lately, but I'll tell you all about it anyway.

I've been abnormally domestic of late. 3 loaves of banana bread, 3 loaves of honey whole wheat bread (first time I've used yeast in my life), two more batches of energy bars (same recipe as before, but I bake/dehydrate them now so they do better outside the fridge. Do not use tahini as the base, since it is gross. Using brown rice syrup as the base a la Clif Bars turns out good, but a lot stickier.) and I picked 7 pounds of blackberries and made one batch of freezer jam and cooked/canned another, first time I've ever canned anything.

Watched a lot of movies:
A Fistful of Dollars (None of the Dollars trilogy withstands the test of time)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Extremely well acted, but unnecessarily non-linear, and there wasn't enough motivation for otherwise not-horrible people to all the sudden up and start a life of violent crime)
Gone Baby Gone (Very very good)
American Teen (Basically a documentary version of The Breakfast Club. It's really good, you squirm in your seat the whole time over the awkwardness of teenage life, and the artsy girl is really cool. Read this review. Go see it.)
American Gangster (Decent)

Did a little studying, too.