Sunday, December 15, 2013


Taken near South of the [NC/SC] Border on my drive to Florida. Man, that is one boring drive.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Race Photos, Except Not

You know how all my races take photos of everyone and then you can buy expensive prints of them after, like at theme parks or roller coasters? Well, economics conferences do the same thing. Except the prints are free.
Woo! NEUDC 2013!
I cut my hair since then, FYI.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Idealism Compared to the Control Group

I read Nina Munk's recent book The Idealist to possibly add it to my Development course syllabus. It's about Jeff Sachs (he of The End of Poverty fame) and his Millennium Villages Project. Basically, Sachs is an idealist, he insults you if you disagree with him, and his program doesn't work and isn't being rigorously evaluated since there was no control group. I usually want to cut Sachs some slack, maybe because I think I'm already too cynical so I shouldn't bother wasting energy criticizing his (naive) optimism, and I tend to agree with his statement that the amount of money we're talking about for his desired big push of foreign aid is pennies compared to our military spending. But the book really portrays him as a bully. (And also possibly a washed up bully since his fame seems to have waned of late.)

Anyway, I'm clearly not a fan of MVP. The book itself was alright, if not stunning: B, maybe a B-.

Listen to this:

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

New (to me) Books

For my development course.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Rocky's Training Run


Took George to the Schuykill dog park in Philly. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Me and George

The last of the color.

G is for Garret

Steve's brother has a luxury box at FedEx Field, so I was offered a free invite to the Skins-Niners MNF game, including pre-game on-field access. As a Skins fan the game was a stinker (L, 27-6) but the night was awesome. However, given the recent spate of horrible news from the NFL, and the dumb Washington fan who was mad at everyone else on the train because nobody liked hockey as much as he did, I have to agree with Mark Kleinman, Matthew Yglesias, and others: taxes on alcohol should be much higher.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

JFK 50 Miler

1. Never buy an inflatable camping air mattress. If I've advised you to do so in the past (Ashley), I apologize, because I was wrong. Leaks are inevitable. If your trip is long, you'll get used to the cold hard ground and sleep well on just the Gossamer Gear Night Light, torso length. If it's a short trip, you're probably not hiking that far. So suck it up and just carry a bunch of foam pads. I've got two Night Lights, a Ridgerest and a Z-Lite: put them all together, and you're much more comfortable than when you bring your stupid EMS Air Channel, which will leak. From the seams, not because you punctured it.

2. Here's my hotel for the night before the race. An easy half mile from the road, had it all to myself, and it's only 5 miles or so from the race start. Just north of the AT's crossing of I-70.

Free awesome stuff in the shelter. (Sorry about the glare--it's flavored pipe tobacco, which I can only assume is awful.)

3. I ran the JFK 50 Miler. This year was the 51st running--it was started by JFK the spring before his assassination, but changed to a memorial after. (See more history in the link.) Mostly, it's the largest field of any ultra in North America, 11 miles of it are on the AT, 12 are on pavement and the rest are on the C&O Canal towpath. I liked the AT section, and the rest was actually fairly scenic, but all in all, quite flat and boring. I'd much rather run the hilly AT section three times.

I was a little worried about the race because I have had no time to train--before last weekend's Philly Marathon, I've run ~100 miles total since the end of August. I felt recovered from the marathon by Thursday, but I woke up Friday with a sharp nagging hamstring, so I was limping all day. But after I warmed up in the race, it was mostly fine. In fact, it was a little easier to run, which I could do without limping, while I had a hitch in my step when I slowed to a walk. Since the course is pretty easy, if I were in shape I would hope for low 8 hours on the course (if I could somehow manage to overcome the boredom of the flats), but I finished in 10:30:50, which is fine by me.

The Hokas worked out fine. They did not grip very well on the dry leaves covering the AT rocks, but I didn't eat it, and I bombed down switchbacks passing people picking their steps, as usual. Then I was glad to have the extra cushion on the C&O section (crushed gravel/dirt) and very glad for them on the paved finish. They definitely will not become my main trail shoe, but for pavement they're OK. If you're curious, they run fairly narrow, so you might want to go a half-size up, and watch out, because a lot of people seem to have problems with chafing from the uppers.

Here's my Garmin track:

Lastly, runners of the world, this neon clothing revival must stop. I'd share a photo of the race shirt, but my camera is not doing the hideous neon yellow justice.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ridiculous, hideous, or both?

Delivered today, just in time for JFK 50 on Saturday. Running 50 miles with no training in brand new crazy shoes. What could go wrong?

152 job apps in.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


That was kind of fun. Not too bad for having run further than five miles only twice in the last 2.5 months, and only 100 miles of "training." Hope I recover for JFK 50 in six days.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How We Do

What I do (when not running ultra-marathons) is featured in Wired magazine. My academic grandfather (adviser's adviser) and postdoctoral supervisor is the lead figure in the article.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

My Quality of Life

has improved dramatically since I learned to use Google Scholar's Cite-->Import into BibTex-->Copy-->BibDesk-->Publication menu-->New Publication from Clipboard.

It'll change your life, I swear.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

To Do List

  • 10 Easy Races
  • Use Ken Train's code for mixed logit discrete choice models to estimate the willingness to pay for chlorine in western Kenya.
  • Apply to a couple hundred jobs.

Friday, November 01, 2013

I was made to believe there would be guac.

Headed to Boston for NEUDC and meetings. This airport burrito was a huge disappointment.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lehigh Gap

George, gf, and I took a quick trip to the AT. George got cold, so he dressed up like Yoda, or maybe E.T. The leaves were pretty.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Links of the hiking, running variety

The Hardrock 100 lottery opens today.

This past summer I saw a guy in the Telluride grocery store with a ULA pack on, who looked like a long-distance backpacker. I said "You look like a thru-hiker, but you're not anywhere near the CT or CDT." It was these guys, who were thru-hiking all 58 Colorado 14ers, which had never been done before. Looks like they were successful, so good for them.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Because I like computer stuff like this, and because "51% likelihood of being foreign" doesn't really seem like probable cause to me, I figured out how to encrypt e-mails with PGP (wiki explanation). My public key is here.

If you're interested, you can set it up quite easily on a Mac with GPGTools.
h/t MrB

Dirtbagging at Walmart

Walmart lets you sleep in your RV or car in their parking lots. I've taken advantage of this a time or two, and I've read that Clarence Thomas does the same. The NYT magazine has a photo piece on people from Arizona Walmart lots.

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Updates

As you can see below I sold my Subaru for scrap, because it would have cost too much to get it to pass PA inspection. I may or may not turn that cash into 13% of a used Suzuki V-Strom 650, or maybe just a Burly trailer so I can get George places. For the time being, I'll just be renting on occasion, because it's pretty ridiculous to own a car when you live half a mile from your office.

Apparently the College eliminated a lot of low-fee retirement investment options. This is unfortunate. I may not believe all of what my father taught me as a child anymore, but "put your retirement investments in a low-fee index fund and leave your money there, because you'll lose a bunch of money in taxes and fees if you try and beat the market" is something I am still 100% on board with. Watch this PBS Frontline, or listen to this NPR Fresh Air if you don't know what I'm talking about.

I got my first solo-authored journal submission rejection yesterday. A revise and resubmit would have been great for the job market this fall, but alas. There were some constructive empirical critiques (include a placebo/falsification test by showing that there's zero effect in time t+1, for example) but also claims of a lack of sufficient general interest. That's fine, though obviously subjective. I can't be too down since at 6 weeks from submission to rejection, a pretty excellent turn around time, at least for economics. Onward to another journal!

A Colorado mountain magazine, Mountain Gazette, has a Mountain Dog photo competition. Apparently my facebook friends think below is my best chance. Based on last year's winners, I'd say I don't have a chance unless I go with something over the top artsy or over the top goofy, but whatever.

A million of your facebook friends will share this Louis CK bit about kids using cellphones to distract themselves from the howling void that is the meaninglessness of life. Here's an NYT article about atheists filling that void with church-congregation-like community.
UPDATE: The ex-minister in the above article was fired for overstating her academic credentials. [NYT]

So long, subi. No hard feelings, I promise. For an 8-week one-way rental from CO to PA, you actually did pretty well. Enjoy your new life as a refrigerator.

Sunday, September 08, 2013


I saw John Prine live at the Wilmington, DE Grand Opera House last night. I went by myself, and I was probably the youngest person in the audience. That said, it was amazing. I cried. I only learned he was playing nearby (I'm equidistant from Philly and Wilmington, plus there's a cheap beer store across the state line in Delaware) from his appearance on Colbert on Thursday, which I thought was only mediocre, but made me want to see him before he got any older. I had previously never heard the two songs below.

This afternoon on the way home from my run, I realized I had no way to pay for my standard two veggie burritos, because my wallet had been ransacked. I accidentally left it in the car overnight, and accidentally left the car unlocked. $36 and three bank/credit cards gone. Thanks for leaving my driver's license. If you'd left me $13 for burritos, I wouldn't even be mad. Thus far Swarthmore Police are great and doing even more than I expected (hoping to track down video from the Best Buy and gas station where stuff was purchased today) which is great. I guess I don't live in Oakland anymore, where police won't come unless the home burglary is in progress.

I posted the Subaru for sale on Craigslist. I don't really need a car except for occasional rides to/from the airport, and they have these things called taxis, and I think this would take a little work to pass PA inspection, though the engine will probably last a while. I'll probably take it to the shop this week to get an estimate on all the repairs; if <$800, it's probably easier to just keep it--it got me across the country, after all.

Should I have drafted Colin Kaepernick instead of RGIII in my fantasy leagues? We'll see.

I switched from theoldreader to feedly for my RSS feeds. The Old Reader is too slow.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Colorado Photos

I probably won't get around to doing a full write of my Colorado trip, but here are the photos.

Briefly: I drove to Colorado and stopped in Salida for a day or two of running in low, BLM-y type hills. I tried to drive to Lake City, but I got sidetracked by rolling my SUV. So I was stuck in Gunnison for a weekend. I bought a crappy Subaru and finally got to Lake City. I half stayed at the hostel there and half car camped, while doing four 14ers in one day and meeting some very cool CT and CDT hikers. I drove around to Silverton, but stopped at George and Elisa's goat farm in Montrose for a night. In Silverton, I car camped, and again hung out with the CT hikers. I ran part of the Hardrock 100 course, and George got into a porcupine, so we had to go to Durango to sort that out. After Silverton I stopped in Ouray and ran more of the Hardrock course, then went to Telluride to run more of the Hardrock course, hang out with Hawkeye, and watch a Johnny Cash coverband. From Telluride I briefly went to Crested Butte and hung out with Trainwreck. From there it was on to Leadville to pace Nano in the Leadville 100 (finish time 24:24). I did a couple more 14ers there, then went to Denver to pick up Mr B. We ran in the Boulder Flatirons, then I was a guest panelist on The Trail Show episode #15. Mr B and I bagged a couple 14ers in the Collegiates, then drove over Independence Pass to Aspen for the Maroon Bells 4-pass loop as an overnighter. I did a final run in the Sangre di Cristo range not far east of Salida, and we hit the road. We took 50 and 54 across Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, stopped at Tina's in Lexington, and then were home. First things first, I caught up on Breaking Bad.

I also submitted one article to a journal, another to a conference, a third to my co-authors, and wrote the syllabus for the new labor economics course I'm teaching this semester. Working remotely worked pretty well. And damn, the running was good.

Just added to the to-do list: PTL

Nano just told me about PTL, or La Petite Trotte à Léon, an "enlarged Tour du Mont Blanc." A new-ish race that's part of the UTMB set of races, PTL is 300 km long, 24,000 meters of vertical, must be done in 2 or 3 person teams (simultaneously, not tag-team), 136 hour cutoff, only 3 aid stations, and goes over 30+ passes/summits. Apparently it's a lot off-trail too. My friend Lint did it the last two years; he DNF'd in 2011, and hallucinated-but-finished in 2012.

I'd love to, but as with the rest of UTMB, it's the last week in August, which is a problem with many universities. I guess I just have to get a job at a school on the quarter system.

[race official site]
[participant pre-race report, with link to google earth of the course]
[participant after action report]

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Small to Medium-Sized Motorcycles

Also, Honda made a tiny 250cc bike and some old guy is riding it across the country and writing about it for the NYT. Quite good if you like motorcycles/the road/adventure.Part 1, 2, 3, 4

The Suzuki V-Strom I checked out a while back is still for sale, according to the website.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I Do

Some wonderful popular pieces about econ lately.
  • This American Life on maybe just giving poor people cash instead of training/cows/whatever.
  • Jacob Goldstein, reporter for above story, in the NYT. 
  • Blattman, professor interviewed for the above, grad school peer of mine, discussing the same, and the broader idea that not running the experiment is the crazy/immoral thing to do.

  • Stiglitz in the NYT on inequality and the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington. He describes the Chicago school of free-market economics thus: "unemployment (if it existed) was the fault of workers." I distinctly remember the moment in Advanced Macroeconomics as an undergrad where the professor said essentially the same (that there is no such thing as involuntary unemployment). I thought it was stupid at the time, and I still do.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Leadville Hostel

Fun times.

Leadville 2

Nano says we beat Scott Jurek's split for the section on which I paced him.


I'm not sure I have any desire to run the Leadville 100, as it seems like a lot of road, but I had a blast pacing my good buddy Nano from mile 73-86. I emulated Gazelle's pacing at States, by which I mean I actually pushed him. ("It's going to hurt tomorrow regardless, let's move." "Start running again." "You can hike faster than this.") We crushed that section, passing two or three dozen people, and he finished in 24:24, earning the ridiculous pie plate-sized sub-25 hour buckle. Congrats to Nano, and I hope he pushes me the same way at Hardrock next year (fingers crossed for the lottery).

Yesterday I started my Nolan's 14 recon by doing a Mt. Massive traverse, then driving past Twin Lakes to the La Plata trailhead and bagging that. The parts took 4.5 and then 3.5 hours, with a total of 9,000 feet of climbing. Fun! (I've already done Elbert, plus it's a veritable sea of humanity, if you're wondering why I skipped it.)

Today Mr B is flying out to Denver, so I am picking him up, and hopefully going to be a guest panelist on my friends' hiking podcast: The Trail Show. (Which you should totally listen to if you're into long-distance backpacking or beer.) Mr B and I don't have much time, but I think we'll try and do Huron plus the three other 14ers right next to it one day, the Maroon Bells loop, and maybe one other thing before having to drive home, so I can fly to Florida to see gf in her new environs before starting school on Labor Day.

Cramming it in/eating life with as big a spoon as possible. I hope the Subaru holds up.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Give me a break, Crested Butte

Do you really need this sign every 20 yards on main street?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ranking San Juan Mountain Towns

I'm in Ouray now, and the hubbub in this coffee/chocolate shop is killing me. In terms of views from downtown, I'd have to say Ouray>Silverton>Lake City, but in terms of places I'd actually want to spend any time the order is exactly reversed. Lake City>Silverton>Ouray. In Lake City, hikers roll into town, and it's immediately Locals plus hikers versus Texans. The tourists do their ATV thing, but the kids also play volleyball and frisbee in the park. In Silverton, the park is on the far edge of town, and empty. The locals are cool, but the people most willing to hang out with hiker trash are themselves ski-bums instead of true locals.  The Texans don't even spend the night, they just take the narrow gauge railroad up from Durango, crowd the sidewalks during the day, then leave on the last train. The jeep road out of town has more mines and less free car camping than that out of Lake City. Outside Ouray as far as I could tell it's totally private and you have to hit the fee-charging Forest Service site. The hostel in Lake City is owned by a hiker, and the Silverton one is definitely not.

That said, I ran the Bear Creek National Recreation Trail from Ouray up to Engineer Pass this morning and it was phenomenal. Up there with Eagle Creek on the PCT. And I'll be back in all these places whenever I get into Hard Rock.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Look at me, I can fall asleep standing up with enough anesthesia.


After I picked up George from the vet, I went to a brewpub my brother recommended (Carvers) and ran into Kittens and Moonbeam, who had just finished the CT, and were angling for the free brown ale that they give out to CT finishers. George was groggy from anesthesia.

I camped up Maggie Gulch outside Silverton, and bagged Handies this morning, which is the 14er that's on the Hardrock course. (I also did into and out of Silverton in both directions over the past few days--the race is a loop that switches direction every year--one of those runs led to the porcupines.) I did a little bit more of the course on jeep roads after Handies, but they were full of jeeps, so it wasn't much fun.

I'll probably spend a day near Ouray, and one near Telluride, next.

Friday, August 09, 2013


I wish Colorado would stop trying to kill me and my dog. Awesome 15 mile run on the Hardrock 100 course turned shitty after George got a mouthful of porcupine. Thing is, it was the second one we saw! I was in front for the first and almost stepped on it myself, but kept George away. Then a couple miles later it was getting dark and I lost the trail at the river crossing. While looking for it, George found the second porcupine. Dammit.

UPDATE: The car wouldn't start this morning. I drained the battery using headlights to pull quills. Everything was frozen to boot. A jump solved that, and now George is at the vet in Durango waiting for his appointment. They said it didn't look as bad as many cases they've seen. And they're open for regular business, so no emergency fee. All should be well.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Colorado: Working Remotely

I just posted a few dozen photos from the trip so far. Here they are on Picasa.


As the Hard Rock photo demonstrates, I'm in Silverton now. I left Lake City, spent a night at new friends' new goat farm outside Montrose, and drove in yesterday. I submitted our WASH B pilot paper to the Northeast Universities Development Consortium Conference (NEUDC), so now I need to go running.

I am so jealous.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Four 14ers

I did four 14ers yesterday. I started at 7AM with Lucky (Lake City hostel owner, who hiked part of the CDT in '07, met a girl (now his wife) in Lake City, and has spent six and half years of zero days here ever since) and a friend of his. We took the winter route up the south side of Sunshine Peak, traversed to Redcloud, then George and I went off on a different ridge to bag two more by ourselves. The ridge was sketchy in parts, with quite crumbly bad rock. George was not too confident on it, even though he's more stable on it than I am when it comes down to it. Weather came in, so I bailed off the ridge a drainage earlier than would be optimal. I thought the day was done then, but during the gnarly bushwhack down Copper Gulch, the weather cleared, so I kept going. I did a long roadwalk up to the Wetterhorn trailhead, left George tied up below the summit, which requires serious class 4 (low 5?) climbing, then we took the trail around to Uncompahgre, and bagged that probably around 9PM. I was definitely not carrying enough food, so this was a long grind. After Uncompahgre, it was a few miles to the trailhead, then 9-10 miles of dirt road into town. I had hoped the day would be faster and that I could catch a ride into town, but not a single car passed me so we walked it all. All told the trip was probably 40 miles, and 13,500 or 14,000 feet of climbing, and it took me 18 hours, from 7AM to 1AM.

I think I'm going to take a nap. Here's the GPS. I called it Part 1 only because my watch ran out of battery, so I only recorded selected bits after about halfway between Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre.

I don't think George will be moving from this position today. (His longest day ever yesterday, 35 or so?)

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Did I mention what a great trail town Lake City is?

Lake City, CO

Still the right choice?

Enjoying Lake City. A couple people remember me from the CDT, one's the RD for an ultra, so he's seeing if anyone is doing any cool runs this week. In the meantime, yesterday I went east and ran in the La Garita Wilderness. Bushwhacked down a drainage, saw a live moose and a dead elk. This morning I ran west from HWY 149 on the CDT/CT towards the San Juans. It's just a high plateau, but it's got great views of the Matterhorn, which, if not too technical, I will try this week.

I'd share pictures, but I think I forgot to pack the appropriately sized USB cord for the camera, or my SD card reader, so it'll have to wait.

Also, I totaled my 4Runner. I took a turn on a gravel county road (the Doyleville cutoff) too fast, went into the ditch, and rolled 3/4 of a revolution. George and I weren't obviously hurt. I scratched my wrist, and after the adrenaline wore off, my left ankle hurt. The only person to drive by did so in a monster truck, and he had a flatbed trailer at his ranch. He towed me upright and into the road, then got the 4Runner onto his trailer and into Gunnison. I thought I had insurance, but apparently I only had comprehensive, and not collision, and I had a collision with the ground. (The normal definition of the word "comprehensive" doesn't apply in the insurance world.) While I was picking belongings out of my 4Runner, a kid who works at the shop across the street from the body shop where I left it came over and offered me $300 for it so he could put the engine into his truck. Deal. (There are no salvage yards for miles from Gunnison, so getting rid of the wreckage promptly with no storage or towing fees was ideal.)

That was Saturday. I spent Sunday looking at used cars. Monday I bought a '97 Subaru Legacy with 230K on it for $1550. It was either that or a '97 Blazer with 136K on it for $2,000. Subaru's have great reputations, and people say this will last forever, but there are so many tiny half-broken things inside, that now I feel stupid for not buying the Blazer and selling it when I got home, because it was nice inside. It also sucks that I probably can't drive the Subaru over Cinnamon, Engineer, or Stoney Pass to get to Silverton, and have to go all the way around on pavement. (Lake City, where I am now, is home to a famous 4x4 track called the Alpine Loop, that gets you to my next destination, Silverton. The 4Runner wasn't 4WD but had high clearance, the Subi is AWD but low clearance.)

Whatever, I just need to stop thinking about it and go running more.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just arrived in Lake City. Gunnison was nice, but I wasn't there by choice. I'll explain in a future post for non-fb-friend readers. Lake City was one of my favorite trail towns on the CDT, so let's see if I can relive the magic.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Does this still work? I haven't posted via SMS in a while. Drinking beer in a windy but free BLM campsite on the Arkansas River outside Salida. Ran a great 12 miles, made significant research progress at the library. Life is good.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

So much better

The weather is so much better. So is the running.

Lake City, Silverton, and Leadville are all on the list, maybe more. I just need to find a coffee shop that will let George inside, or a hostel that will let him in the bunk room, and then I'll be all set.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I couldn't resist.

This is my office thermostat. So I'm driving to Colorado. I just bought a cooler at the Wal-Mart on the "Avenue of Mid-America" in Effingham, Illinois. I can't believe it's another 1000 miles to the Rockies.