Sunday, May 31, 2009

i sent this from my

i sent this from my phone. Does that make it more interesting?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Light Grey Screen of Death

I was considering sending myself my old Rio MP3 player halfway through the trail, but when I tried syncing it with my computer, it gave me the light grey screen that says "You must restart your computer" with a picture of the power button behind it (apparently technically called a "Kernel Panic") on four consecutive reboots and attempts. This is the first instance I can recall of getting this screen in the year and a half with this computer. Screw it, I guess I'll listen to nature, because I don't want to listen to what's currently loaded (Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) on repeat the entire hike. I'd be curious if anyone has any AA or AAA battery-powered, AM/FM-receiving, large capacity (5+ gigs) or SD card slot-having MP3 player suggestions.

All food, guide and databook sections, batteries, TP, Vitamin I, band-aids, duct tape, electrolyte tablets and such are now allocated, Brooks gave me a pro-deal on shoes, and I think I'm nearly good to go.

I'm stoked about the hike and not too worried about grad school (it doesn't make you want to stick around when the building is almost 100% deserted). The only thing I've been thinking about is how I don't like the disposable nature of my gear for this (or any other) hike. To save time I probably won't be using a bounce box or shipping anything back home (with the possible exception of my bear canister, but I can also totally see myself saying "Here, want this?" to a random day-hiker when I'm two feet out of Yosemite) so I'll just chuck stuff I don't need. I expect to burn through 7 pairs of shoes, 35 pairs of socks, 18 AAA batteries, at least a couple pairs of shorts and t-shirts, and lots of plastic bags. I guess that's not that much, plus I think we've set this up to be a no-car hike, so that's cool (not that hitching burns much extra carbon). Anyway, just a thought.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I'm Going to Stop Buying Food Now

Too lazy to rotate this picture. I think I'm done buying food. I've boxed most of it, and now I'll start putting in socks, batteries, toilet paper, and (crap I need to buy some) hand sanitizer. Do you think all these boxes plus three people will fit in a Subaru? That's kind of my current plan for getting them to the person who'll be mailing them for me. I'll probably mail the first four before I leave town, so that should help. This preparation stuff is getting annoying. I'm trying to be more prepared for this trip than for any other because I can't be wasting time in town ordering gear, mailing bounce boxes ahead, or shopping if I need to be hiking 41 every day. Maybe the prep would be more fun if I spread it out over months instead of putting it together in a week while I was also moving.

Econ nerd moment: maildrops are a constrained optimization problem. More frequent packages means lighter loads, and less catastrophic problems if one package doesn't arrive, but more time wasted in town.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Do You Eat?/Time to Make the Donuts

On previous hikes I ate "Snickers, Pop-Tarts, and Bagels." One time I accurately recorded everything I ate in a day and it was 2 bagels (total 580 cal/7 oz.), a bag of PF Goldfish (840/6.6), 3 Quaker Chewy granola bars (270/2.52), 4 Odwalla bars (900/8.8), Peanut Butter Twix (280/1.84), 3 Balance bars (630/5.28), Milky Way (260/2.05), and Hot Fudge Sunday Pop-Tarts (400/3.6). That's 4160 calories and about 38 ounces (i.e., too few calories and too much weight.)

This time I'd like to not guarantee myself diabetes, so I'm copying my buddy's healthier diet. Basically, it's a protein shake for breakfast, fig bars, pretzels, and rice crackers for snacks, a giant-home made energy bar throughout the day, and re-hydrated beans with corn chips for dinner.

Along those lines I've got 43 energy bars, 66 dinners, 25 bags of chips, 65 breakfast shakes, and 60 bags of snacks so far. I'm hoping that if my food's a little healthier I can get by with a little less of it, but I'm positive I'll have to pick up junk along the way regardless. Obviously I will be porking out in town restaurants as frequently as possible as well. Here's what I've done so far:

Shakes: ~4 oz. of milk powder/soy milk powder, plus a scoop of Spirutein or Fruitein protein supplement (rice, pea, soy blend), some Amazing Grass Green SuperFood, Spirulina, and ground golden flax meal, or occasionally some cheap whey protein supplement I have a bucket of from Costco that's unfortunately sweetened with Splenda.

Bars: Same recipe as always. I'm liking almond butter right now. It's a little (lot?) spendy at $7 a pound. I'm getting about six 6 oz. bars with a one-pound jar. Also using peanut butter, and I've got one jar of sunflower seed butter (worked OK before) and one of cashew butter that I've never tried before.

Snacks: 3 or 6 oz. bags of honey sesame sticks, poppy onion sticks, yogurt covered pretzels, walnuts and raisins, hummus mix, dried fruit. Basically anything from the bulk food aisle at the B-bowl that could be described as an instant snack. Still a lot of work to go here.

Dinner: A variety of different flavors of Garden of Eatin' organic corn chips in 7.5 oz. bags (they seem to rotate the flavor that's on sale at B-bowl every day, so it'll take me a while to stock up) plus about 5 or 6 ounces of Fantastic Foods dehydrated black/pinto beans or Tabouleh salad mix. I threw in some dried tomatoes and chili peppers as well. I don't carry a stove, so I'll carry one of those white plastic TANG/Gatorade drink-mix containers, and soak the stuff in cold water for an hour or so before eating it, it seems to work fine.

I'm not sure how many calories this will all add up to--the beans/tabouleh are about 520 (4 servings @130 each), half a bag of chips a day (not sure that's enough) would be 560, the protein shakes I could figure out the next time I visit the bulk aisle, but as far as the energy bars go, there's 2940 cal. in a jar of peanut butter and 2700 in almond, so that's 490/450 cal just in the base of each bar. So I'm thinking with shakes, snacks, bars, chips, and beans, I've got maybe 2500 a day? I guess I've got a lot of work left to do.

Also, I hit my head on the playground today and cut it open a tiny bit. It's been 11 years since I got a tetanus shot, so I'll probably hit the travel clinic on Monday and get a booster.

Friday, May 22, 2009


$36 at REI on a new Platypus, stuff sack, and tiny plastic vials, $88 on a second trip to B-bowl, and $50 on 19 pairs of cheap nylon dress socks at Target. Rayon is a wicking fabric, right? Moved half my stuff into storage in my friend's kitchen. Just put my PCT permit app. in the mail. Still need shoes and boxes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It Begins

Just dropped $233 at Berkeley Bowl on food for the trip. I expect I'll triple that by tomorrow. Let the mail drop prep begin.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Decision (for tonight at least)

I think I'm going hiking. When else will I have the chance to try and break the supported PCT speed record unsupported with one of my best friends? The job market will probably stink this coming fall (although one you introduce the game theory of other students realizing this and also delaying a year, you probably can't be sure what type of equilibrium will result), if I really want a teaching (as opposed to solely research) position going in 7 years will only let me get more teaching experience, a prof. I hugely respect said it doesn't hurt to go in 7 if you've got a good paper, perhaps if I manage to finish, but not quite in time for the real job market in October/November, maybe I could still manage to get a post-doc somewhere else if I were sick of Berkeley (maybe I'm just dreaming that), and I've become less certain that baseball salary data is going to be immediately forthcoming anyway because a prof. who would know says it's way more complicated than I imagined.

Who knows? All I know for sure is that I'm extremely indecisive and that my gram-weenie scale is on the counter and I'm weighing homemade almond-butter energy bars.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

I'm guessing these thoughts will sound better in my head than in print, but regardless, here they are.

I stumbled across a mildly amusing commencement speech this weekend, and among it's more maudlin pieces of advice: get somebody to pay you to do what you love. So what do I love? Being sarcastic in front of an audience, hiking long distances, running long distances, and getting well-identified estimates of causal effects through randomized controlled trials, regression discontinuity, or valid instrumental variables and two-stage least squares techniques. So who out there is going to pay me to be roughly 25% teacher economist, 35% fast long-distance backpacker, 15% ultra-runner, and 25% research economist?

I don't actually want anyone to pay me to hike or run, so mostly I just want someone who will pay me to be an economist. Except I pretty much need to go hiking all summer every three years or I'll go crazy. It takes six years to get tenure, so is there a school out there that actually encourages its faculty to go do other weird cool stuff? I've long pretended that Evergreen (which according to Wikipedia is the alma mater of "Burke Kenny, winner of the Full Beard with Styled Moustache category at the 2007 World Beard and Moustache Championships. Also believed to be the youngest ever World Facial Hair Champion at age 22") is such a place, but I don't actually know. Professors don't usually don't get paid for the summer, but they're still expected to be there, mentoring students if at a liberal arts college, or doing research if at a research school. Sabbatical every 5 or 6 years sounds awesome, but it's so you can go do research at some other school, not go hiking. The security of tenure is positively dreamy, but then again, I'm pretty happy with my current state of affairs: I earn $15,000 a year and can't imagine what I'd do with more, I have health insurance, and I'm only really required to be at work 4 hours a week for about 8 or 9 months of the year.

Why am I all worried about this now? Because my feedback at orals was better than I expected. I was thinking I'd get "You pass, but we don't like this idea, so start over," but I sort of got "You pass, and it's unfortunate that you got a zero as your result because that's not sexy and you can't publish it, but you know what you're doing and all the possible extensions you mentioned are good, so maybe try and go on the job market this fall." That would almost certainly mean no hiking this summer, which for one, is lame, and two, if I really intend to convince a good liberal arts college (Reed?) that I care about teaching, I should definitely do the Summer Institute for Preparing Future Faculty next summer (I didn't apply for this year because I hadn't passed orals yet, now it's too late) and possibly teach my own course--either Econ 1 here and try and get better reviews than my favorite ones from that other place, or maybe an intro course in Development Economics to Masters students at USF. Except I can't think of a single person that's taken 7 years to finish my program and gotten an academic job. Except the job market will probably suck this coming year thanks to the recession. Except who knows, it might still suck in two years.

So yeh, basically my problem is that I was already planning on going hiking for 65 days starting in a few weeks, and now I'm thinking I maybe shouldn't. If I did graduate this coming year, I'd finish in 6 years, and having taken a year and a half off that means I win. But what are the chances I'd really be ready to go in October? (That's the deadline.) I'd say pretty low, and then I'm going to fucking hate myself all next year for sitting in my windowless office all summer instead of hiking. Maybe you're thinking I should suck it up and try and graduate. But my wanderlust is not going away. If I'm not going to be able to do what I want when I get a job, I probably won't end up keeping the job for very long, so why fake it?

So is there a school out there that will be OK with my taking 7 years to finish (or call it 5.5 since I was out for a while), expect me to teach two courses every semester, be a decent teacher, do a medium amount of research, and in exchange let me disappear for five consecutive months after working hard for 31 months without terminating my health insurance and only expect me to come back with some rad photos and entertaining stories about wolves, bears, and the kindness of strangers with which to enliven your chi-chi wine and cheese parties? Also, mountains should be visible from campus and single-track trails no further than two miles. I'd do it for $40,000 a year. If you're aware of such a place, please let me know.

Scouting, PCT History

A post from a while ago I never finished:

Using parts of the school library I've never been to before, I watched the 2001 Sundance Best Documentary Audience Award winner, Scout's Honor, about people trying to get the Boy Scouts to change their discriminatory policies. It's not the greatest documentary I've ever seen in my life in a technical sense, but I strongly support the cause and it's worth watching. Film website. Scouting for All, the organization featured in the film.

I also looked at a 1945 copy of Clinton C Clarke's book Pacific Crest Trailway from the Bancroft library. It had 12 loose prints of famous mountains along the trail, and eight maps of the trail, all on delicate tracing paper, hence the book's location in the fancy-pants no-circulation no-pens-allowed we-have-Mark-Twain's-private-letters Bancroft library. It was interesting to compare the original idea with the finished version. I'd say the original is very close to today's, except the mileage estimate was a very low 2156. The miles on private land estimate was spot on (160) and I think that's pretty much the same today, with the exception of last year's successful first purchase by the PCTA (Yay!)

Neat original trail details:
  • The current Glacier Peak detour was one of two suggested original routes in the area.
  • The maps made it look like the trail summited (or at least went really close to the summit of) Mt. Hood.
  • The original trail went east of Mt. Shasta.
  • South of Mt. Whitney the trail went over Siberian Pass instead of Cottonwood and then did the largest section of trail where I didn't recognize any names--I believe it was all further west than today's version.
  • Trail hit PO's in Weldon and Piute.
  • Trail went right through the towns of Big Bear Lake and Idyllwild.
  • Trail conceived as part of "Trail of the Americas" from Aconcagua to Denali.

"Mechanization has created a soft, flabby civilization; there is a marked deterioration in the physical, mental, and spiritual caliber of our youth due to too much bossing, regulation, and regimentation."

"The masterpieces of Mother Nature have a lasting curative and civilizing value that should not be lessened by mechanization and commercialization except under dire necessity, and this necessity no longer exists."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm a PhD Candidate.

Always include pictures of Jessica Simpson and Marilyn Monroe in academic presentations as it helps to lighten the mood.

Time to go running for several hours.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Now or Never

Orals/my qualifying exam/trying to advance to candidacy is tomorrow. So I thought I'd take this moment to tell you that I finally mapped the Butte Super Cutoff that I took sobo on the CDT in '07. You can go there and download the maps (23 jpegs, 51 megs) if you want.

Also, Rachel Getting Married is perhaps the most annoying movie ever, Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres is a great "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me" motivational book for empirical social scientists although it gets repetitive by the end, Earth the movie isn't different enough from the BBC's Planet Earth to warrant paying to see it, and that's about it.