Friday, December 30, 2005

park city, day one

I've gotta start posting regularly again.

I got back to Colorado Wednesday evening after a restful few days at home in Maine for Christmas. But yesterday I packed up my stuff again and Ralph and I drove nine hours through a snowstorm, mostly in the dark, to Park City, Utah. (There are some pretty desolate stretches of road between Winter Park and here, let me tell you.) We have races here Jan. 3–5, but we decided to come over a few days early to get in some training and free skiing and help out a little with the Park City Disabled Ski Team's training camp, which starts tomorrow. Today we slept in before taking a half-dozen runs in the afternoon. Park City is a great place to be if you're a U.S. Ski Teamer: since USSA's headquarters is here, we get treated well and get free season passes to the ski area. Through disabled skiing connections, we also get to stay really cheaply at the National Ability Center's beautiful, recently built bunkhouse at their ranch outside of town. The rest of the team will be joining us here on Sunday, and we'll also be sharing the place with disabled ski teams from Australia and Canada.

After a day of pretty wet snowfall here today, I'm very thankful for my new electric glove dryers. Thanks, mom & dad!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mortgage Capital

That's what it says on a sign outside the second floor of the building I live in. I don't know much about mortgages, but I'm guessing the kind of "capital" they mean here is "wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available or contributed for a particular purpose such as starting a company or investing" (thanks, NOAD!). Nonetheless, it makes me think of the Jay-Z song "Lucifer," where Jay raps the line, "I'm from the murder capital, where we murder for capital." I think there should be a Herbert Kornfeld-like white rapper from, like, Connecticut who raps about how he's "from the mortgage capital, where we mortgage for capital." I have this thought every time I see the sign as I'm entering my building.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

race results, etc.

Sorry, I've been slacking a little on the blog recently — no Internet access at our condo here in Breckenridge. We had our first two races of the season on Thursday and Friday, a slalom and a GS. I came here feeling pretty prepared but not really knowing how things would turn out. I felt like I could win a race or just as easily come away without finishing either one. In the end it was somewhere in the middle.

On Thursday it was super-cold (around zero), which is kind of the norm in Breck, but at least there wasn't much wind. The hill we race slalom on here is longish but pretty flat, with just one moderate pitch in the middle. I usually tend to do better on more difficult hills; on Thursday I felt like I carried good speed in the first run but found myself in 5th place. I tried to let things run downhill a bit more on the second run, but I think I ended up jamming it in a few places where I should have been arcing. I think I was 4th in the second run and ended up 4th in the final results. Not a bad start at all, and room for improvement the next day. My friend and training partner Ronny Persson got a much-needed win in his first race back after missing a year of racing with a torn shoulder. He's now well on his way to getting his points back down to the level he needs to qualify for the Paralympics. My U.S. teammates Roger and CDY were second and third, respectively.

Friday morning was a little warmer but also windier, especially at the start. The GS course here is easy too, and also fairly short, the start being only a few dozen meters above the slalom start. On my first run I made a small mistake near the top of the pitch, but it wasn't too costly. I did probably lose some time near the bottom by trying to "cheat the line" a bit — i.e., aim straighter at the gates than I should have. I was 4th for the run, about two seconds behind the leaders. In the second run I resolved to lay it on the line — I'd rather crash than end up 4th or 5th again, since I knew I was capable of winning the run. I nailed the flat top half of the course and came onto the pitch with big speed. But a few gates down the pitch I got a little rotated into the hill — a bad habit of mine — and the tail of my ski slid out. I found myself skiing backwards out of the course, heading straight for one of my coaches. I managed to stop right next to him, and he turned to me and said, "Get back in there!" It was possible for me to traverse back into the course and still make the next gate, so I did. Of course I was pissed off, so I skied the bottom half of the course really aggressively and fast. I wish I could channel that kind of energy every run without messing up first. I ended up way out of the picture, time-wise, in 9th place. The bright spot for the day was my friend Nick, who picked up his first-ever win in a technical event. He's had trouble putting together two solid runs of GS despite skiing really well, but yesterday he nailed it, winning both runs. We're all really psyched for him.

Today we stuck around in Breck for a fundraiser race for DS/USA. Tonight we'll go to the closing banquet before driving 3 hours to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where we'll do our quarterly fitness testing on Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

why ski movies are like pornography

Last night my roommate and I went to see a screening of Matchstick Productions' latest movie, The Hit List (watch the trailer). It was a sweet movie, full of amazing skiing footage, and I even ordered the DVD. It occurred to me only later that evening how much ski movies have in common with porn:

  • Probably 90% of the audience for them are men.

  • They can inspire you to try something new that you've just seen on the screen and never realized was even possible.

  • You usually watch them as a substitute for the real thing. Or when you're not getting enough of the real thing. If you're doing a lot of amazing skiing of your own, you have little use for ski movies. But in the middle of the summer, you can watch ski movies to satisfy a craving.

  • Sure, you can always fantasize about being that good. But the people in them are way better at what they're doing on camera than you'll ever be.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Here I am in the Twenty-Seventh City, St. Louis, Mo. I came here to get acquainted with my new sponsor, Charter Communications. When I arrived yesterday afternoon, they took me to a photo shoot to get some head shots done. The photographer's studio was in a really cool old building downtown called the City Museum, and the photographer was this recently divorced middle-aged guy who lives in his studio and knows lots of dirty jokes. I liked him a lot.

Last night a couple of Charter people took me out to dinner (at a steak restaurant, unfortunately), and today I went to the corporate HQ to meet Jeff, the VP who's organizing this whole sponsorship deal here. This afternoon we went over to their local office and I gave a sort of motivational talk to some of their call center employees. I'm not much of a public speaker, but I think it went pretty well, and people asked a lot of questions. I'm going to be doing a bunch more of these things over the coming year. Tomorrow I fly back to Colorado and resume skiing.

Monday, November 21, 2005

with apologies to Leno...

So you know those lists of unintentionally funny headlines that people periodically forward you? I definitely just stumbled upon a new one.


The most popular posts on this blog generally seem to be the ones where I tell about some misadventure I've gotten myself into. With that in mind, here's what happened to me when I was skiing on Saturday.

We spent the morning doing lots of boring technique drills. After lunch, a small group of us went out free-skiing. The other guys still had their race skis on but I had on my big fat powder skis, so I decided to go ski some bump runs by myself. There was still quite a bit of soft, fresh snow everywhere from the storms last week, and I was having a blast. I'm not much of a mogul skier, but I was really getting into it. On my third run, I was skiing a steep, narrow run called Outrigger when I misjudged a bump and landed pretty far forward on the tip of my ski. As I landed, the rear screws holding the heelpiece of my binding onto my ski ripped out, my ski fell off and tumbled down the hill, and the heelpiece landed a few feet away from me. I bounced upright almost immediately and sat there with no ski, looking around the vacant run and surveying the situation. I was more annoyed than distraught — I would probably have to get a ride down in a ski patrol sled instead of getting to finish my run.

A few people soon skied by me, and one woman skied right by my heelpiece. "Is this yours?" she asked. Meanwhile, a guy on a snowboard rode by my ski. Putting together what had happened, he took off his board and began hiking back up the hill to bring me my ski. Strangers are really nice to people they perceive as being in trouble, so I didn't bother telling either one of them that it would do me no good to have my ski and binding back, since I wouldn't be able to use them unless I had a couple Helicoils and a drill to fix the binding with. I thanked the guy and asked him if he would go tell ski patrol to come and help me out. He said he would, and took off.

For the next twenty or thirty minutes, I sat there in the middle of the run holding my ski and broken binding, admiring the mountain panorama, blue skies, and the towns of Winter Park, Fraser, and Tabernash stretched out in front of me along U.S. Route 40. People skied by occasionally, and some of them stopped to ask if I was OK. I smiled and said yes, explaining that I was just waiting for a ride down from ski patrol. Eventually the guy who had originally alerted ski patrol for me rode by again

At last a ski patroller in his fifties, with a white beard, picked his way down through the bumps to where I was sitting. He wasn't a great skier. I told him I was glad to see him and tried to explain what had happened. By then I had realized that I wouldn't need a sled ride down if I could get him to ski down to the locker room, find another one of my skis, and bring it up to me. I managed to convince him to do this after he had radioed his supervisor for permission, and he took off down the run with my ski and broken binding.

Two more ski patrollers soon approached, and I started explaining that I was all set, or at least would be as soon as the first guy got back. They seemed confused. "Or did you not hear about this on your radio?" I asked. They shook their heads; I guess they hadn't been paying attention. They continued on their way. I went back to admiring the view and started trying to think about how I could use this misadventure in one of the speeches I'm going to have to give in front of the employees of my new sponsor. If there were any didactic life lessons to be gleaned here, they were escaping me at the moment. It grew colder, and eventually the sun had moved enough that it left the trail cast in shade. I shivered a little.

Twenty minutes went by, then thirty. Going inside to get a ski should take at the most three minutes, and the lift ride up only takes about twelve, so I was starting to wonder. After thirty-five minutes he finally showed up — with the same ski, the original binding reattached. He explained that he hadn't been able to find my other skis, so he had the comp center ski shop fix the broken one; that's what had taken so long. The issue now was whether the repair would hold long enough for me to make it down the rest of the mogul field. I picked my way down with the ski patroller following me, and eventually made it to the safety of a groomed run. I thanked him while internally feeling annoyed at his incompetence; I probably should have been more grateful. After all, he saved my ass.

brokeback mountain

In case you hadn't heard, the Ang Lee-directed film adaptation of Annie Proulx's gay cowboy short story Brokeback Mountain will be released Dec. 9, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall. Which logically leads to two questions:

1. Did Ang Lee take on the project before or after the publication of this Onion column?

2. Will Ledger and Gyllenhall be eating pudding?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

B & S

If you have RealPlayer and happen to be a fan of the Scottish band Belle & Sebastian, click here to watch them performing a new song for BBC TV.

Monday, November 14, 2005


The resort has some nice photos of today's snowstorm.

the frolic architecture of the snow, pt. 2

Last year I wrote a post by this title (I think), in which I linked to its source, this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I was reminded of it again today in one of the nastiest blizzards I've seen in quite a while. It's been snowing for the better part of two days, and it hasn't let up yet. On the contrary, at one point today it was probably accumulating at about two inches an hour, and blowing like hell to boot. I was up at the ski area unloading skis and gear from my car into the locker room, and each trip I made outside was nastier than the one before. One time when I opened the trunk of my van, it only took a minute for the interior to be covered by a half-inch thick carpet of blowing snow. By the time I left the ski area, the wind was so strong that it was difficult to walk in a northerly direction without goggles on.

After the snow off the side of my car, I got in and tried to wipe the accumulated snow off the windshield with my wipers — big mistake. The wind had packed the snow much denser than the usual Colorado powder, and my wipers struggled to push the snow once, then gave up. No amount of finagling would get my wipers to move, so I cleared the rest of the windshield off with a brush and started to drive away. I only drove a few meters before realizing that I would never be able to get home this way; I'd have to stop every thirty seconds to brush the snow off the windshield. As I came to terms with this while stopped on the resort access road in a near-whiteout, a guy driving in a van behind me got out and asked if I needed any help. Not to get all Blanche DuBois, but thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. He followed me as I turned around and drove back to the parking lot, and then gave me a ride home from there. I guess I'll get a ride back there tomorrow once it's stopped snowing and see if I can get someone to fix the windshield wipers...

Now Ted Leo is on the stereo and I'm in front of the fireplace with pizza and Seinfeld reruns. Things could be a lot worse.

As a side note, you don't have to be a rock geek to appreciate Pitchfork's latest feature, "The Worst Record Covers of All Time."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

caught on camera

Abby, her friends, and I were snapped by a Time Out Chicago photographer at the wine tasting we went to last week. We are in the second photo down on the right; too bad it's so small.

Monday, November 07, 2005

kearney, nebraska

Stopping in central Nebraska for the night after driving from Chicago today. In three eventful days there with Abby and Shifra, I: went to a wine tasting, a Ben Lee concert, and a sketch comedy show; drank at four bars and ate at three restaurants; bought a business suit; and tagged along with Abby to a breast cancer support group of middle-aged evangelical African-American women in a megachurch on the South Side. That last one was a highlight — I don't think I've ever been more out of my element before, at least not in this country.

When I pulled off I-80 in Kearney this evening, I gassed up, got some food, and drove down the main drag to see what there was to the town. Like many western towns, you get the sense that there's not much left of this place other than a five-lane concrete road lined with fast food franchises, motels, and gas stations. But it turns out that not only does Kearney still have a downtown, it still has businesses in many of its storefronts even as so many other downtowns out here sit vacant as the local Wal-Mart Supercenter's parking lots overflow. Of course everything except the bars was closed when I drove through at 7:30 p.m., but the town is obviously still proud of its old bank buildings, five-and-dimes, and especially a big white-columned building that houses MONA, the Museum of Nebraska Art.

I guess Kearney is still thriving in comparison to some other towns because of the steady stream of road-tripping families who stop off here to check out the historical monuments — in particular the ridiculous Archway Monument they built across I-80 in 1999. Build a big pedestrian bridge, add a gift shop, and call it a tourist attraction? Hey, whatever works.

(Researching links for this post, I learned a great little tidbit about Kearney's name. It was built on the site of Fort Kearny, and the city of Kearney derives its name from the original fort, but due to a postal error an "e" was inadvertently added and then never changed." —

Monday, October 31, 2005


I'm sitting outside the Portland Public Library across from Monument Square, mooching off their wireless connection. Although I have no costume, I'm getting ready to go out for a bit of carousing this evening. I like the whole costume thing in principle, but this year I just couldn't be bothered to come up with one. Lame, I know.

A few big things have happened since I posted last. A fairly mundane one is that I crashed pretty hard on the last day of slalom training in Hintertux and kind of messed up my shoulder. It's weaker than normal and my range of motion is limited a bit, but it has already improved in the course of a few days, so I should be fine by the next time I'm scheduled to ski.

A more significant happening is that Charter Communications, a cable TV company, has agreed to sponsor me this season. They will be paying for just about all my training and travel expenses in exchange for me speaking at some of their corporate events. I'm somewhat terrified at this prospect, but I'd be willing to do just about anything in exchange for a company that's that generous to me with its money. What can I say, I'm a ski racing harlot.

OK, time for the carousing to begin...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Three days of skiing left for us here in Austria now. Today was GS training; yesterday we got to free-ski on our super G skis for a while, which is always fun. (Super G skis are long — 200-205 cm — and built to ski really fast.)

On Sunday we drove over to Sölden, a couple hours away, to watch the opening men's World Cup GS race. The American Bode Miller had a commanding lead after the first run and even halfway through the second run, but he was outskied on the bottom half of the run by the Austrian Hermann Maier, who managed to beat him by 0.06 seconds... still, second place is not a bad first result of the season for Bode. The best story of the day for the Americans, though, was the 8th-place finish by Ted Ligety, who's only 22 or so and had only once before cracked the top 10 of a World Cup race. Although he was best known as a slalom skier until now, he really showed off his GS skills on Sunday. Because of his low international ranking in GS, he started with bib number 64 out of 75 or so. He finished the first run in 24th place, and then moved up to 8th by winning the second run outright. He got a special award for being the racer who finished the furthest ahead of his start number.

World Cup ski races in Europe are a big spectacle. No ski event in the U.S. can really prepare you for how much they care about ski racing over here. Almost all the Europeans in the race (even the rookies and also-rans) have their own fan club, usually based in their home towns. The clubs charter tour buses and party the entire way from their little Italian or Austrian or Slovenian village to the site of the race. The night before the race, they stake out a section in the finish-area bleachers and erect huge billboards praising their athletes. Then during the race they blow air horns and ring giant cowbells when the skier is on course, all the while consuming massive quantities of beer, schnapps, and glüwein.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

subject? nah.

We trained on a pretty steep, bumpy GS course sandwiched right in between the T-bar and another GS course. The other course was so close to ours that our coaches had to set our almost identically to theirs to make sure we wouldn't collide with other the racers if we were on course at the same time. That's kind of standard procedure over here in Europe; not as much attention is paid to safety as in the U.S., and space is at a premium.

That said, training was a blast. I got four runs on the course, and I really got after it every run. I haven't seen our times yet, but I'd be surprised if I wasn't consistently one of three fastest monoskiers.

Tomorrow we head over to Sölden to watch the opening men's World Cup GS race. You can check out the results here if you're interested.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

gold soundz

For about the past 48 hours, my waking life has been dominated by internally-mounted speakers playing music by the band Pavement. This is a band that existed from 1989 to 1999, releasing five albums of music that, for most rock snobs, pretty much came to define the subgenre known as "indie rock." Their music built on the punk, post-punk, and new-wave movements of the 1980s, but introduced new elements that became widely imitated, namely: (1) dense, muddy production that at first sounds almost chaotic, despite that containing the same instruments that had been the backbone of rock and roll for decades: electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and vocals, plus the occasional keyboard; (2) lyrics laden with self-conscious irony; and (3) most distinctively, the careless, sometimes even bored-sounding vocals of lead singer Stephen Malkmus.

Malkmus, who has released three excellent records since Pavement's breakup with a backing band called the Jicks, is a sort of indie-rock poster child, his unkempt golden hair, lanky frame, and devious grin serving as a role model-cum-sex-symbol for aspiring hipsters everywhere. The adjective that music magazines always seem to use when describing him is "impish." His lyrics and vocal style can both sometimes be infuriating. At first he seems not to give a shit about anything at all, since all his studio performances seem so tossed-off and unstudied. But the album and song titles are the first clue that this isn't the case. They sometimes consist of words and phrases that sound vaguely familiar, but out of context in rock music ("Major Leagues," "Shady Lane," "Western Homes," "Embassy Row"), but more commonly they're non-phrases, nouns and verbs and adjectives strung together in ways that are grammatically correct but utterly novel, like Noam Chomsky's famous example of a perfectly grammatical nonsense sentence, "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." Some examples from Pavement titles: "Elevate Me Later," "Hit the Plane Down," "Soiled Little Filly," "Hands Off the Bayou," "Kennel District," "Zurich Is Stained," "Conduit For Sale!," "Spit On a Stranger," "Carrot Rope," "Half A Canyon," "Grave Architecture," "Serpentine Pad"... the list could go on for pages. These are the sorts of phrases where, if you Googled them in quotation marks, you would never get a single non-Pavement-related result because no one else has thought to combine these words in this particular way before.

I first became aware of the existence of Pavement sometime in the mid-nineties when they recorded a song called "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" as a sort of tribute to R.E.M., another favorite band of mine. But it wasn't until a few years ago, spurred on by my cousin Finn's affinity for the band, that I began seeking out their music and discovering my own favorite nuggets contained within the hectic boundaries of Pavement's first two (and best) albums, Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.

If there is an archetypal Pavement song, surely it is "Gold Soundz," found on CRCR. First off, it features the signature bright, jangly guitars, herky-jerky rhythm section, and perhaps as memorable a melodic hook as the band ever came up with. But you're really only going to appreciate those elements if you actually listen to the song. What's really amazing about "Gold Soundz" are the lyrics, which straddle the boundary between sincerity and irony with breathtaking aplomb:

Go back to those gold soundz
And keep my advent to your self
Because it’s nothing I don’t like
Is it a crisis or a boring change?
When it’s central, so essential,
It has a nice ring when you laugh
At the low-life opinions
And they’re coming to the chorus now...

I keep your address to myself
’Cause we need secrets
We need secrets -crets -crets -crets -crets -crets back right now

Because I never wanna make you feel
That you’re social
Never ignorant soul
Believe in what you wanna do
And do you think that is a major flaw
When they rise up in the falling rain?
And if you stay around with your knuckles ground down
The trial’s over, weapon’s found

Keep my address to myself
Because it’s secret
'Cause it’s secret -cret -cret -cret -cret -cret back right now

So drunk in the August sun
And you’re the kind of girl I like
'Cause you’re empty and I’m empty
And you can never quarantine the past
Did you remember in December
That I won’t eat you when I’m gone?
And if I go there, I won’t stay there
Because I’m sitting here too long
I’ve been sitting here too long
And I’ve been wasted
Advocating that word for the last word
Last words come up all you’ve got to waste.

Only Malkmus would dare follow the line "It has a nice ring when you laugh" with " the low-life opinions," or "You're the kind of girl I like" with "...because you're empty, and I'm empty." I think the narrator genuinely does like this girl, and he genuinely knows that he likes her for all the wrong reasons: because she's a shallow, arty snob just like him. It's easy to read these lines as a critique of the indie types Malkmus hangs out with, but the "I" in the song could just as easily be a younger, more jaded version of Malkmus himself. (The hipster's progression of personal growth, of course, runs not from simple to complex but from complex to simple, as s/he realizes the value of straightahead sincerity — remember Dylan: "I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now.")

Another Pavement hallmark on view here is self-referentiality, self-awareness, being "meta" — whatever you want to call it. After the line about "low-life opinions," Malkmus needs another line to finish the verse before his bandmates kick in for the chorus, so what does he do? He actually sings, "And they're comin' to the chorus now"! Inspired, or idiotic? Your call, I guess, but I think the man is a goddamn genius.

And what of that chorus? "We need secrets back right now" — is this some sort of large-scale social commentary in which the "we" represents the Indie-Rock Nation, or all of America, or the whole world? Or is it just a throwaway, a backhanded slap at bullshit lit-crit theorists who would dare to make pronouncements like that? Somehow Malkmus manages to leave it open-ended.

The last thing I'm going to say about "Gold Soundz" for now is: how awesome is that title? Remember, this is 1994. White teenagers do not yet regularly pluralize their nouns on AIM by adding Z. No, Malkmus is on the cutting edge here. If I had to make a conjecture, I would say he stole it from hip-hop — after all, N.W.A. stood for "Niggaz With Attitude," and that was back in '88.

Well, all that must have been on my mind all day; maybe that's why slalom training sucked. Thanks for reading this far. Now maybe I can let go of Pavement and listen to something else.

Monday, October 17, 2005

alpine adventures

We had some fun times after training today. In Hintertux there are three gondolas in a row; this time of year, you have to take all three to get to the top of the mountain, where the snow is. At the end of the morning's training, we ride the top two gondolas down, then eat lunch at a mid-mountain lodge at the top of the bottom gondola. Today Nick had the idea of wheeling down the access road from the lodge to the bottom of the mountain instead of riding the final gondola down; other people have done this in years past and come back with lots of tall tales. Originally I wasn't going to go, but all the other monoskier guys were doing it so I caved in to peer pressure.

It was a pretty amazing ride down — a really steep, rocky road that we had to pick our way down reeeeally carefully. The views around this place are pretty phenomenal; some of my teammates had cameras with them, so I'll post links to pictures when I get them. After about two hours, we made it down through the forest and emerged into the grassy hillsides above the town of Hintertux. The town is still as much a farming community as a resort, and there are farmers out there herding cows and spreading manure around with little tractors that on our team are known as "poo flingers." We came to a road with a sign pointing to Hintertux, but rather than take it, everyone else thought we should go a different way. Hard-headed as I am, I said I was going to go my own way. Turns out that this road (which I soon noticed was grown over with grass) does not go all the way to Hintertux but rather ends by a long fence in the middle of a pasture. To get over the fence and down into town, I had get off my wheelchair and drag it up a couple of steps that led over the fence. I got my chair over the other side, but then I accidentally let go of it and it started slowly barrel-rolling sideways down the steep, grassy hill. I had no choice but to crawl after it at full speed, through the (fortunately dried-out) grass and manure, in hopes of intercepting it. After maybe 50 feet, I successfully wrangled it and got back in. I was picking my way down the hill when I eventually lost control — it just got too steep. I was hurtling toward the fence enclosing the bottom edge of the pasture with no hope of being able to stop, so eventually I just bailed. My chair got hung up in the fence, and I got even dirtier but was pretty much fine. I got back in my chair yet again and went along the fence until I came to a gap which led me onto an actual paved road, which led me back into town. This was all in my ski clothes, by the way.

Turns out that Joe knew all along that the road led nowhere; he just wanted to see what would happen if he didn't tell me.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

First day on snow in Hintertux today. The conditions could hardly have been better: sunny and ranging from 0-10 degrees Celcius, but well below freezing last night so the snow was firm in the morning. A few icy patches and slushy mounds by midday, but that's par for the course on a glacier. I took at least one run on all 6 lifts that are currently open (2 chairs, 4 T-bars). We were just free-skiing around for a couple hours and getting the feel of our skis back again; tomorrow we'll be up training GS. I might need to make my T-bar strap a little longer tomorrow, because on one lift my ski was getting pulled up off the ground. At one point I think only about the last 4 inches of my ski were touching the snow!

Had my first Hotel Alpenhof espresso this afternoon, and it was just as good as I remembered it, although our bartender friend Andreas isn't working here anymore.

Currently reading: Lost For Words, by the excellently named Lynda Mugglestone. It's yet another book about the making of the OED, and it's a little dense and academic, but interesting enough.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

no more shoes

Sometimes the best songs are ones that sound instantly familiar, like you've known them all your life. "No More Shoes," from Stephen Malkmus' latest album, Face the Truth, is like that. Come to think of it, did he steal those opening "doo-doo-do-do-doos" from somewhere??

Arrived in Tux today... getting settled into our usual fall training digs, the Hotel Alpenhof. It's a nice place to stay, and Gabi takes good care of us.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Leaving for Austria tomorrow... this will be basically the beginning of the nonstop part of my winter. We'll be training at our usual fall site, the Hintertux Glacier in Tirol. Based on what I see on their live cams, it looks as though they've already had some decent snowfall there recently. With any luck, the training up on the glacier will be wintry and the weather down in the valley will still be autumnal. Keep checking this space for updates.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

For the record...

Great correction from today's New York Times:

A sports article in some copies on Sunday about Texas' 45-12 defeat of Oklahoma in college football misstated the dominant color worn by Oklahoma fans. It is crimson, not maroon.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

why I hate movie trailers

They are usually horrible distortions of what the movie is really about. Case in point: this spoof.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Paralympic tickets

They're now on sale on the web, right here. The dates I may be competing are March 12, 14, 17, and 19.

Here's the press release, for what it's worth:

FAR HILLS, N.J. - CoSport, the Official Ticket Sales Agent of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), is |
| excited to offer tickets for the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games to residents of the United States. |
| |
| |
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Thursday, September 29, 2005

current iTunes: Bright Eyes, "Lua"

Does drinking coffee, doing crossword puzzles, watching Six Feet Under, listening to Red Sox games on the radio, and translating Gabriel García Márquez qualify as being a productive member of society? I think not, but it sure is a great way to spend the fall.

By the way, my trip to L.A. was sweet. In addition to taking me on a tour of Paramount, Erik brought me to this creepy restaurant in the middle of downtown in an old converted dining car. It's a throwback, but not a self-conscious one. It genuinely seems to have no idea that the world has moved on since the 1950s. The waiters wear jackets and ties, the menu is meat and potatoes and creamed spinach, the decor is green velvet and yellow light and dark wood paneling, and the bartender has been working there for like 40 years. Not the best place for vegetarians (or cheapskates), but highly recommended for nostalgics.

We went to Six Flags too, and rode, like, six roller coasters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

a joke from my brother Will

A drunk had been at a pub all night. At last call, the drunk stood up to leave and fell flat on his face. He tried to stand one more time, to the same result.

He figured he'd crawl outside to get some fresh air, since maybe that would sober him up. Once outside, he stood up and fell flat on his face. So he decided to crawl the four blocks to his house.

When he arrived at the door he stood up and again fell flat on his face.

He crawled through the door and into his bedroom. When he reached his bed he tried one more time to stand up.

This time he managed to pull himself upright, but he quickly fell right into bed and was sound asleep the second his head hit the pillow.

He was awakened the next morning by his wife shouting, "So you've been out drinking again, have you?!"

"No! What makes you say that?" he asked, putting on his best innocent expression.

"The pub called... you forgot your wheelchair again."

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Writing this from the airport in Minneapolis, halfway home from San Diego. After our training camp in Chula Vista ended on Thursday, I rented a car (a little black Chevy called the Cobalt — shouldn't they all be blue?) and drove up to Los Angeles. Erik, an old friend from middle school, lives in Altadena, right in the foothills at the northern edge of the megalopolis with his wife Melanie; I attended their wedding in July. He does lighting for movies and TV, and he's currently the gaffer for the UPN TV show Everybody Hates Chris, created and voice-overed by Chris Rock.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Katrina first-hand

A little after-the-fact, but I'm glad I stumbled upon this.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Good on ya, Dartmouth

They invited Sarah Billmeier to speek at Convocation!

Three Notches summary

I got back from my little White Mountain adventure on Wednesday evening. I would say it was a big success, both in terms of being a fun and challenging experience and raising some money to benefit Northeast Passage. Thanks to all of you who donated, I raised $125 more than my goal.

For the first leg of the ride, on Monday, we rode west from the base of Loon Mountain ski area, north through the town of Lincoln, and up some hills into Franconia Notch before stopping for lunch at the base of Cannon Mountain ski area. Then we rode through north through the town of Twin Mountain and east to the Appalachian Mountain Club's new lodge, the Highland Center — 38 miles in all. There's a pretty extensive network of paved bike paths running through the national forest in Franconia Notch, but riding them was unexpectedly much more tiring than riding on the road; since they're not graded for car traffic, they constantly dip up and down. You end up using short bursts of anaerobic energy rather than getting a long-term, controlled aerobic workout... although come to think of it, that's actually pretty optimal training for alpine ski racing.

The lodge at the Highland Center is a neat place. Unlike most of the AMC's network of mountain huts, it's just off a major road (Route 302), it's capable of housing hundreds of people, and it has such modern amenities as trash cans, flush toilets, numerous hot showers, comfy leather couches, and even an (i.e., one) Internet connection. And the bunk rooms are small, holding 2 to 6 people each rather than 20 or 30. But it's still a nice alternative to a hotel for people who want to experience the mountains in a somewhat traditional way: no TV, a strong emphasis on conservation, and good food served family-style at big, long tables. The building itself is beautifully designed, with a really high, barn-style beamed ceiling in the dining room. (Click here for a panoramic view if you have the Java plug-in.) And since it's so new (I think it was completed in 2004), it's fully ADA-compliant, which was nice for a group that included six wheelchair users. The other big group at the Center that night was the reunion of a dozen or so hikers in their 60s and 70s who come there from around the Eastern U.S. every year, having first met on a trip through the Presidentials 20 years ago. That's pretty damn cool.

I had met almost everyone on the trip for the first time on Monday morning. Seeing people out of their cycling clothes that evening, new sides of them seemed to emerge, and it was possible to see style differences within a group that had looked pretty uniform all decked out in Lycra. The only people I already knew were Craig, a retired wheelchair athlete in his 40s or early 50s who introduced me to handcycling years ago, and Jeff, a monoskier, downhill off-road wheelchair racer and ski instructor whom I vaguely new from past ski events. Jeff's roommate in Lincoln, N.H. happens to be Andy Parr, a visually impaired ski racer originally from Maine who has been on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, on and off, for the past four or five years. Although he's only in his late twenties, is in very good athletic shape, and has some real ski racing talent, he just recently announced he was retiring from the team for good because he can't afford it. Expenses for visually impaired ski racers in the United States are essentially doubled because they have to pay for all their guides' expenses as well as their own. Andy showed up on his bike to join us for most of the ride on both Monday and Wednesday. He's a really strong rider and a hilarious, profane guy with short, bright-orange hair, which he sometimes wears in a black skull-and-crossbones 'do-rag. He bears a passing resemblance to a shorter, more compact Josh Homme with a Downeast Maine accent.

On the second day, we had an easy ride: about 25 miles east, and most of it downhill. We began with a gorgeous, breakneck descent through Crawford Notch and through towns like Bartlett before stopping for lunch at Story Land, which every New Hampshire resident knows for its cloying radio spots. The park was closed, so we couldn't get on any of the kiddie rides, but hey, they did give us free ice cream. From there it was a short ride into North Conway, where we checked into a bland new hotel adjoining a mega-complex of outlet stores.

After testing out the pool and Jacuzzi, a bunch of us congregated in the hotel's back yard, which features two horseshoe pits. Someone bought a bunch of light beer in plastic bottles and smuggled it past the glaring hotel staff, and we contented ourselves with playing horseshoes for a while. Dinner was pasta with the world's heaviest Alfredo sauce, served in a hotel conference room while the Northeast Passage staff and the event's sponsors thanked us for participating. It wasn't so bad.

The third day was certainly the most grueling ride. First we rode south a few miles, over back roads and two covered bridges, to the Kancamagus Highway. If you've lived in northern New England, you probably know the Kanc. (You probably don't know it's technically N.H. Rte. 112.) Beginning in Conway, near the Maine border, it runs west through one of the more rugged and remote sections of the White Mountains, climbs over the Kancamagus Pass, and passes by the base of Loon (where we began) before ending in Lincoln at Interstate 93. It's one of the only east-west routes through that part of New Hampshire, and driving it in winter can sometimes be quite sketchy. I'm happy to report that in mid-September, it's absolutely beautiful. After 10 or 15 rolling miles (one or two of them torn-up for repaving), we stopped for lunch. Shortly thereafter, the road started up a constant incline of about 7 or 8% grade — not ridiculously steep, but consistently challenging. The thing is, it seemed like it would never end. Most long hill climbs have dips and rises, but not the Kanc. Around the next curve is, inevitably, more of the same. It continues uphill like this for maybe 8 miles, and the last three were some of the toughest riding I've ever done. Even at a slow, consistent pace (try 3 m.p.h.), it was exhausting. I was determined to make it up without stopping to rest, so I had to resort to mental tricks like counting my revolutions, counting down from ten over and over again. After more than two hours, I made it to the top (second to arrive out of the four handcyclists), and I drank a lot of water and smiled a lot and took a lot of pictures of people. It sure was worth it — beautiful view up there, and a killer ride down the back side to Loon.

Pictures will be up on my Flickr page shortly.

OTC, San Diego

I'm writing this post on a flight from Detroit to San Diego. The ski team is meeting at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Cal., for about a week for the quarterly testing and conditioning camp we usually do at the OTC in Colorado Springs. It was raining steadily in Maine this morning, but now the air below us looks hot and dry, and the land is brown, wrinkly, and mountainous. We must be crossing Arizona or New Mexico about now. I was looking at an aerial view of Chula Vista on Google Earth, and it looks like the place is really in the middle of the desert. This is pretty unfamiliar territory to me.

I just spent two days at home in Maine, moving my stuff out of our house in Cape Elizabeth for the last time. In case I haven't mentioned it, my parents have sold the house where I've lived since I was four and bought a new one just a couple of miles away, in South Portland. (For now, at least until I move back from Colorado at the end of next ski season, most of my stuff is residing in a storage unit. I'm going to refrain from speculating on whether that's an apt metaphor for anything else in my life.) Although our old house is gorgeous, I've been in favor of the move for some time. Now that my brother Will is away at Brandeis, neither of us will be living at home most of the time, so it hardly makes sense for my parents to occupy a house as big as the one in Cape. Besides, it will be so refreshing for my parents to live in a neighborhood (Knightville) where they can easily walk to a local grocery store, several restaurants and shops, and a post office. Downtown Portland is just a quick bike ride across the bridge. And the new house is right on the water — albeit more of a tidal backwater than the ocean proper. Its address is 3 D St., the terseness of which inspired my mom to ask me to try sending a postcard from New Zealand to "K.E. & N.B., 3D, S.P., ME 04106, U.S.A." It worked.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Three Notches ride

I just decided to take part in a really cool event next week, a cycling ride in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It's run by and for Northeast Passage, which is a nonprofit based at UNH that does some really great disabled sports and outdoor programs. Over three days (Sept. 12-14), we'll cover about 100 miles through Franconia Notch, Crawford Notch, and the Kancamagus Highway. There will be six or seven of us handcyclists and maybe a dozen able-bodied cyclists as well.

Northeast Passage provides us with meals, accommodations, the works — in exchange for us riders helping them raise some funds. Because I'm registering late (I just found out about this trip after I got back from New Zealand last week), they're cutting me some slack and I only need to raise $500 rather than the usual $1000. But I don't have much time to do it... less than a week! That, of course, is where you loyal blog-readers come in. Any amount you could donate toward helping me reach that goal would be huge. You can donate online and it only takes a minute or two. Just click on this link.

Finally, whether or not you can contribute anything, be sure to check out my photo gallery after the ride to see what it was like.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Friday, September 02, 2005

a good place to find free mp3s

is here. There's a new one every day, and they tend to be pretty well selected. Make sure to check out the "archive" link as well.
It's nice to see a judge help someone take a stand against one of the RIAA's more ridiculous lawsuits. (thanks to Sam)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

last post from NZ

Well, the guy at the internet cafe knows me by now, and the lifties at the Remarkables all know the drill when they see a monoskier coming (slow the chairlift) without us having to say anything. They've even set up a "US Ski Team only" liftline for us. But tomorrow after training we'll be leaving Queenstown for Christchurch, and then leaving New Zealand for good.

It's been a fantastic trip on more than one level. We've gotten in great training here despite low snow levels, we've had a lot of fun on our days off, we've eaten really well and seen a lot more of the region than we usually get to on these trips. I think two weeks was just about the perfect amount of time, too.

The coaches set up timing for today's slalom training, I think more out of their own curiosity than for our benefit, since they weren't telling us our times. But our ski tech Ben, who was recording the times, told me I was consistently the fastest mono-skier today, which is nice. Not that I don't still have a lot of work to do if I want to out-ski the Europeans and Japanese (not to mention Chris, Tyler and Bramble, who aren't here)... but hey, it's only August.

Friday, August 26, 2005

taking the plunge

Today I got to go bungee jumping. (Or "bungy jumping," as the Kiwis would have it, but to me that sounds like it should be pronounced like "bung" + y.)

In the mid-'80s a Kiwi named AJ Hackett pioneered the sport/activity (you decide) and launched the first commercial jump site at the Kawarau Bridge just outside Queenstown, NZ. That's where we went today. There are higher jump sites nearby, but it's hard to imagine a more beautiful setting.

I had been wanting to jump since we first drove past the bridge on our way into town. But surprisingly, given the nature of our sport, it was hard to find other people who wanted to go. Nick thought he might want to, and it sealed the deal when we met a Kiwi disabled skier at the race yesterday who said he had a voucher for a free jump sitting around that he could give us. We agreed we'd split the voucher so we each got to jump at half-price. (It is kind of expensive at NZ$140 a jump.) Nick made the arrangements for us to go around noon today, our second day off. I had no idea so many people would accompany us, but half the team ended up going up in a van driven by Ben, our ski tech -- and then four of them decided to jump as well: Monte, Allison, George, and Laurie. We made an afternoon out of watching & cheering on each other, and commenting on how scared each other looked.

You can watch a movie of some people (not me) jumping off the Kawarau Bridge here. As you can see, there's only a second or two of actual freefall, but man is that part crazy. It's weird to think that in 24 years of existance I had never experienced falling freely through space for more than a fraction of a second; now I have. Jumping off wasn't so terrifying for me, but those one or two seconds before the bungee started kicking in sure were. On the digital video that they took of me (and I decided not to pay $40 for), you can see me clawing at the air as I try to do... I'm not sure what. My mind was telling me that this was not what my body should be doing. Of course, as soon as I overrode that notion and the bungee began to slow my descent, exhilaration replaced terror as the dominant emotion, and goddamn it was fun.

I was the first of the wheelchair users to jump, but we had figured out a pretty good plan. In addition to the standard waist harness, I wore a chest harness instead of the standard ankle attachment, and I had them tie my legs together just so they didn't flop around too much. After the jump and subsequent bounces, they lowered me down to the crew members in an inflatable boat in the river, where they disconnected my harnesses. On shore, they helped me get up the stone stairs to the landing where my wheelchair was waiting for me. It worked out nicely.

In other news, yesterday was the slalom, the final day of racing at Cardrona. All I'm going to say is that if I was one of the best skiers on the hill in Tuesday's super G, I was definitely one of the worst yesterday! I love this sport; it keeps me humble.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Zealand national super G champion... oh yeah

So yesterday's news is that I won the super G race at the New Zealand Disabled Snowsports Championships in Cardrona. This is less of a big deal than it sounds, because the race basically consisted of our team plus a few aspiring racers from New Zealand, South Korea, and the UK. It is also less of a big deal because the weather conditions were so terrible and foggy, with really flat light and soft snow, that several people didn't even race. Basically, I had to beat about five people. However, the races were mentioned on CNN International (in the same breath as some cultural festival in Hong Kong) when I was watching the other day, and besides, it's the first race of any kind I've won since a really low-level Eastern race back in, like, 1996. So I'm milking it for all it's worth. Next time you see me, please address me as "Mr. New Zealand National Champion." ("Bro" will also suffice.)

In other news, when we were training slalom today at The Remarkables, they were blasting various aggressive music on some huge speakers at the top of the lift, when on came none other than Coolio's mid-nineties rap hit "Gangsta's Paradise." I was riding the chairlift with a Francophone couple who immediately started rapping along with him. When I commented on how long it had been since I'd heard that particular song, the Frenchman told me, "In my Eenglish class, we listen to zis song and lehrn ze words for practeece." It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud at the thought of someone teaching a bunch of French people the meaning of lines like "You better watch how you're talkin' and where you're walkin' / Or you and your homies might be lined in chalk."

(An interesting side note to this story is that the Frenchman was currently living on the island of New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, and his girlfriend was from the island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean. As he pointed out, the French have island possessions everywhere, and most of them are obscure as hell. I defy you to find these two on a map; I pride myself on my geographical knowledge and yet I probably couldn't do it.)

This afternoon I read the first chapter of an old paperback I took from my mom's bookshelf, Dylan Thomas' "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog," an autobiography. As a kid growing up in Wales in the early 20th century, he uses a lot of strange words, of which I couldn't help but take note. For example, talking about leading a horse:

"He led the hollow, shappy statue towards the stable; clop, clop to the mice-house."

What does shappy mean? A quick perusal of online dictionaries revealed nothing -- anyone have access to the OED, or prior knowledge of this word?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Zew Nealand 2

Third day skiing today; we went to a ski area called The Remarkables. Like Coronet Peak and Treble Cone (where we skied yesterday), it's a long, windy drive up a sketchy dirt road to get to the base area, which is situated right at the snow line. The valleys really don't seem to get any snow; I guess the elevation is too low. (The top of these peaks is only about 1500 m/4800 ft, and yet they are totally treeless.)

After the morning GS training session and a quick lunch, Joe, Roger, Tyler, Lacey and I went up a different lift that services a high traverse with lots of really steep, ungroomed terrain. We made a couple of fantastic runs down a narrow chutes and a wide snowfield. The snow cover isn't great right now, so we sort of had to pick our way down in places, but it was so worth it -- got my heart racing.

Tomorrow we have the day off, and I'm hoping a couple of us will get in some bungee jumping.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Zew Nealand

So much to talk about... we flew into Christchurch, NZ two days ago, spent a day and a night there, and then drove to Queenstown yesterday. Today we had our first day of skiing here, at a place called Coronet Peak. So far, New Zealand is pretty much just as I expected: beautiful scenery and very laid-back, cool people. And it's even pretty warm, for midwinter. The only big minus so far is money... everything here is super-expensive, even with the favorable US/NZ exchange rate.

Christchurch, where we spent Tuesday, is called the Garden City and it's built around an enormous park with vast botanical gardens inside. Because it's winter, nothing was in bloom, but the trees there were really impressive, like some fantasy illustration. Tall & skinny or 6 feet thick or gnarled and vine-covered -- I didn't know trees came in so many different shapes. It's also a surprisingly diverse city; there are immigrants from just about every Asian country as well as native New Zealanders both white and Maori. I would say more than half of the restaurants in both Christchurch and Queenstown serve Asian cuisines.

On Tuesday afternoon, Roger, Lacey and I took a shuttle ride to New Brighton Beach, a sort of faded-glory summer beach town like Old Orchard Beach or Coney Island. The purpose of our trip was to ride something called the Sling Shot, which is basically a vertical or upward bungee jump. Roger and I ponied up our $40NZ each, and Lacey decided to stay on the ground and watch. It was a pretty exhilarating ride: from the ground to 50 meters in the air in under 1 second, then we bounced up and down maybe 10 times, spinning all the while. The view was incredible; we could see the sun setting to the north of us (strange) and the beach stretching for dozens of miles in either direction. The craziest part was plummeting downward as our seats were tilted forward, so we were looking straight down at the ground as we descended. It was so worth it.

Queenstown is known as the adventure-sports capital of NZ, and with good reason. You could spend hundreds of bucks a day going on various excursions: jetboating down rapids, bungee jumping, paragliding, four-wheeling, kayaking and a million other things besides skiing. The snow line is hundreds or even thousands of meters above the town, so during the day it's pretty warm here -- maybe 50-60 degress F. There are big lakes and rivers everywhere in this region (Central Otago), although I bet the water's pretty cold for swimming. We should have no trouble keeping occupied in the afternoons here.

On the hill today, a bunch of the US (able-bodied) ski team guys were training: Erik Schlopy, Ted Ligety, TJ Lanning... no Bode sightings though. There was also a FIS slalom race today, a crazy icy course. Roger and I skied a bunch off piste in between the groomed runs (it's all above treeline), and at one point we ended up on a short cat track with no snow on it. We had to very carefully pick our way through and around rocks and mud to get back onto the snow... I don't think our ski tech will be too happy when he sees the results of that little adventure.

OK, time to push back up from this internet cafe in town to our hotel, which is inconveniently located at the top of a huge-ass hill. Blah.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Part one of Memories now online

I finally got around to posting the first chapter of my translation on my other blog. In case I haven't told you yet, one of my summer projects has been an English translation of Gabriel García Márquez's latest novella, Memoria de mis putas tristes (Memories of My Melacholy Whores), which came out in Spanish last year and has not been published in English yet. With any luck I'll get the whole thing done and posted up there before the "real" translation comes out. Be sure to read my first post over there (at the bottom of the page) for my background notes on the project.

Monday, August 08, 2005

bike race

I competed in my first handcycling race yesterday, the Elgin Cycling Classic in Elgin, IL. (I'm out here in the Chicago area for like a week visiting my friends Abby and Shifra.) There were only three people entered in the handcycling division and I finished third, but it wasn't really a disappointment. It was harder than I thought it would be, though.

The race was a criterium, which is a short course around several city blocks. You ride lots and lots of laps along the course (this one was about 1 km long), and the winner is the rider who is ahead after a certain period of time has elapsed (in this case, 40 minutes plus four additional laps). The course was a little hillier than I thought I expected for Illinois, and some of the curves were really sharp for a three-wheeled handcycle. (Regular two-wheeled bikes have a much easier time since they can bank into the turns.) I definitely got better at riding the right line through the curves as the race progressed, and I also got better at finding the right gearing for the hill. About twenty minutes in, I started hitting my knee with the hand crank because my foot was sitting at the wrong angle. To fix the problem I had to yank off my shoe and toss it to Abby on the sidelines. On one lap my water bottle skittered across the pavement as I went around a corner, but the next time around a police officer was holding it out for me to grab back. I got lapped a few times by the leader and once by the second-place guy, but I was OK with it. They were nice guys and gave me some tips on riding better. I'd do it again sometime.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

why I love Sarah Vowell

Let me count the reasons:

  1. She recently wrote a book chronicling her trips to various sites around the country that had to do with presidential murders and titled it Assassination Vacation.

  2. She talks so much like a 12-year-old girl that she was cast to do the voice for one (Violet) in The Incredibles.

  3. Writing in an op-ed in The New York Times earlier this week, she referred to herself as "a namby-pamby liberal writing for the most uppity newspaper in the world."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

couch surfing

I've not been a very productive member of society lately. Instead I've been chilling at my parents' house on Peaks Island, Maine, riding my handcycle, and volunteering a bit at STRIVE's BookWorks program. (Our eBay auctions are now online through a great website called MissionFish. You can view and bid on our currently listed books here.)

More recently, I've been on the road a bit. Las Saturday I went to my old friend Erik Messerschmidt's wedding in Connecticut. I got to see some friends I hadn't seen since middle school, and the ceremony was neat; it was performed by a friend of Erik and Melanie's. Rather than sitting down, the guests were standing around drinking cocktails during the ceremony. It was basically just a big party... I approved.

After that, I drove out to Quaker Lake, in north-central Pennsylvania, where Tracy's family has a summer place. We played a lot of Boggle, ate ridiculously well, and went swimming several times a day. It was rough.

Now I'm in Arlington, Va., at my friend Will's place. He's at work, so I think I'll head out to a library or a café and do some work on my translation. If I haven't told you about it yet, I'm translating a book by the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, and I will be posting my translation in installments right here beginning very soon... keep checking that link.

Currently loving: Swearing by Geoffrey Hughes (thanks, Bonnie) and The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (thanks, Finn).

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

flaming lips weirdness

You know the White Stripes song "Seven Nation Army"? Well try singing along with it, substituting these lyrics:

I'm going to Florida
I'm gonna bowl me a perfect game
I'm going to Florida
I'm gonna cut off both my legs

And if Sidney Poitier is a blind man
And he made love to Chairman Mao
Then the world would be a whole lot of nothing
But an abortion when there ain't no child

I'm going to Florida
I'm gonna hold back the hands of time
I'm going to Florida
Where the lobbyists can change their minds

And if Colin Powell is a scarecrow
And John Ashcroft is a steely tin man
Then the Rumsfeld Donald can't go on lying
Cause Harry Potter's telling George who to slam, who to slam

(lyrics thanks to Emerald Wizard Radio)

Beyond the vague Bush-y references, I'm not sure what the hell this is supposed to mean. But then again, it's a Flaming Lips cover, so what else would you expect? You can find this version, which the Lips call "Seven Nation Army (Harry Potter and George W. Bush Severed Head Mix)," on the Flaming Lips' LateNightTales mix CD.

While we're on the topic of "Seven Nation Army" covers, how about this one? (link requires iTunes)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Mt. Hood photos

I just posted some on Flickr; click here to view them.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

mt. hood, last day

I guess it's been a few days since I rapped at ya... sorry 'bout that. Training's been solid; basically I've just been doing drills for five days, some on my own and some with the Winter Park team. The second day, Winter Park had the day off but I went to the mountain on my own. It was pretty cold and windy up on the mountain, and it even snowed a bit. Kids were huddling in the building at the top of the lift to try and stay warm in their summer training clothes, and ski patrol kept shooing them out. I didn't have much winter clothing on that day either; it was raining lightly down in the town of Welches that morning, but usually on the drive up to Timberline we pass through the clouds and into the sun... not the case that day. The last three days have been nice and sunny and warm — by noon, it can even get downright hot up there. I just stumbled on this live cam of the view from Timberline Lodge on the mountain... wish I'd discovered that earlier. Tomorrow it's home to Maine for some more traditionally summery pursuits.

Currently listening to: the mid-'80s power-pop outfit Let's Active

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

mt. hood, day 1

A few days ago, as the rest of the US Disabled Ski Team was leaving Mt. Hood, I decided I should probably make a trip out there myself. I missed the last two team training camps because of school and graduation, so I was feeling a little guilty — plus I just really felt like doing some skiing. I'm out here in Oregon for like 5 days of skiing, staying with the Winter Park team but just kind of doing my own thing, lots of drills and free skiing, no race courses. I'm gonna bring my camera up on the hill one of these days and take some pictures so you can see what Hood is like in the summer... there's really nothing else like it, a whole mountain full of racer kids and freestyle snowboarders. Usually really great, warm, sunny weather too, although today around midday it got so foggy it was pretty much a whiteout... kind of freaky!

Friday, June 17, 2005

post-graduation, post-DSNA

I'm back in Maine now at my parents' house, sitting in my bedroom with every surface covered with random clothes and books. But at least now I'm the proud owner of a $160,000 piece of paper that says, in a language I can't read, that I graduated from college. Tomorrow I'll begin volunteering with a service organization in South Portland called Strive. I'll be helping out with a fundraising program they have called BookWorks and helping them to extend it from just a bricks-and-mortar operation into an online operation as well, via eBay or Later in the summer I will be pretty busy with skiing though; we're heading to New Zealand for a couple weeks in August, and I may even head out to Mt. Hood for a little training on my own next week.

Senior week, graduation, and the following couple of days were all really fun. Instead of sticking around campus for all of the final week (after exams), I went to the biennial Meeting of the Dictionary Society of North America in Boston for a couple of days. Apparently someone from the Phoenix was there on the first day, and they wrote this story... pretty funny. There were indeed lots of lectures on obscure and funny topics, and there were indeed lots of obscure and funny people in attendance, most of them a lot older than myself. I did, however, meet all the hip young lexicographers I had read about a while back in this article, and one of them (Grant Barrett of the HDAS and OUP USA) even offered me an internship, at least unofficially. So that may happen sometime next year.

When I got back from the DSNA Meeting, the family and friends began pouring into Hanover for graduation weekend. In all, 13 people came for the festivities, including six of my friends from the Dartmouth class of '03 (my official class year, even though I graduated two years late). It was a hot weekend but we enjoyed ourselves immensely in Hanover and up at Hinman Cabin in Lyme, N.H. My friends Abby and Tracy helped me get everything packed up, and we drove back to Maine and spent a few (much cooler and rainier, but still idyllic) days, including my birthday, in Cape Elizabeth and on Peaks Island. I got some fantastic graduation and birthday presents, including an issue of Playboy from the month and year of my birth and a beautiful photomicrograph of a snowflake taken by William Bentley, the guy who supposedly first hypothesized that — you guessed it — no two are alike. He called snowflakes "exquisite crystals from cloudland."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


I left Hanover around noon today and drove down to Boston for the biennial meeting of the Dictionary Society of North America. I'll be here for the next two days listening to people talk about lexicography — not the most interesting topic to some of you, I know, but I love this stuff. I'm hoping to meet some people in the dictionary world and make some connections.

This afternoon after I registered for the conference, so I had some time to kill. I wandered around Comm Ave. in the 94-degree heat and bought an old paperback of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls and a used copy of Bob Dylan's Infidels on vinyl for $4. (If you haven't heard it, I would say it's highly underrated. It came out in 1983 and includes some of his most lyrically challenging songs, like "I and I" and "Jokerman." Then I got my hair cut. I really should get that done more often...

Friday, June 03, 2005

one more to go...

So I'm sitting in Collis Café right now, doing some research for my last paper, and what happens? Two girls wearing ski helmets, goggles, minskirts, fluorescent Spandex, and butterfly wings come Rollerblading into the room. One of them is holding a boombox playing "Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band, and the other is tossing out candy onto all the tables occupied by people studying. Some people roll their eyes; others smile; none are particularly surprised. A minute later, the girls leave and people resume studying. It's finals weekend at Dartmouth.

On a less upbeat note, there's some sad news in the disabled skiing world. Mike Goodman, who for many years ran Radventures, the company that builds Yetti monoskis, died on May 24 of prostate cancer. I just found out about it today when I sent the Goodmans an email about my upcoming graduation and change of e-mail accounts. Mike had been sick for quite a while now and I guess it was just a matter of time, but it was still a shock to learn the news. He was an immense help to me over the years, building and maintaining my monoskis for me from the time I was 11 or 12 until just a couple years ago. He and his family hosted me (and in the early years, my dad too) at their house in Oregon numerous times over the years while they fit me for new equipment or made modifications.

A dentist by trade, Mike bought one of the first American monoski companies, Fallon-Ski, from Dan Fallon in the early 1990s. From the beginning it was a family business, with Mike's wife Genie handling the business side of things and his son Jeff helping out in the shop. Their other son, Joel, has spina bifida and skis in a monoski himself. Jeff is the one who took over the main work of the business after Mike stopped spending much time in the shop a couple of years ago due to his illness. For most of the time that the Goodmans have been running the monoski business out of their basement workshop, Mike was also continuing to practice dentistry at his office in the Portland, Ore. suburbs.

Mike was a remarkably soft-spoken man who somehow never had anything bad to say about people, even those who probably deserved it. A wiry, gray-haired Montana native with a perpetual twinkle in his eye, he had that classic Western amiability without any cowboy bravado. I got the impression that beneath his quiet exterior he was a brilliant man, and that was reflected in his monoski designs, which were revolutionary for their time. For most of the mid-to-late '90s, when I think Mike's heart was most in his work, Yetti was the monoski to have if you were a serious skier or racer, and I would credit it with a big part of the success I had in first making the team in 1998. For now, the Goodman family continues to run Radventures in Mike's absence.

In her e-mail to me today, Mike's wife Genie wrote me the following:

Mike always had a special affection for you, Carl. He enjoyed working with you and your dad - we always looked forward to your visits here. He and I both regard you and your family as an extension of our own. I hope you'll stay in touch because I think of you often and love to hear what's happening with you.

In the end, Mike went very quickly. He was suffering a lot though so I was happy when he was freed of all that pain. In my most selfish moment, I couldn't wish that he would stay any longer. I will miss him every day that I have left. My wish for you is that you'll find someone to love and who will love you that much.

Jeff, Joel and I are holding each other up. We'll be ok. It was Mike's adamant request that there be no services, so please tell anyone that you talk to not to send flowers. If anyone wants to "do something," I have been suggesting that they make a contribution in his name to Prostate Cancer Research at OHSU. In doing that, they will be doing something to help themselves, their sons and grandsons as well as remember him — he would like that kind of sharing.

Take care of yourself, and enjoy this special time. I'll hope that the sun shines on your graduation. I have a feeling that Mike just might look in on you!


Monday, May 30, 2005

I've been up all night working on one of my final papers, which is due tomorrow morning... 4 or 5 pages to go in the next 26.75 hours should be doable. After that I have another paper due the next day (Wednesday), but fortunately I've already written the bulk of that one. That's the last day of classes. I have no exams this term, just these final papers, the third of which isn't due for another week or so. I could potentially get it done by this weekend and get to relax while everyone else stresses over exams... that would be nice! I'll try to keep y'all posted.

Barring catastrophe, I will finally graduate from Dartmouth on June 12. That's now less than two weeks away... whoa. If you're reading this and want to come to graduation but haven't heard from me yet, it's due to my not getting things together enough to send out invitations or anything, but please do e-mail me and you can get in on the posh digs [scroll down to Hinman Cabin] that we're renting for Commencement weekend.

Oh, that reminds me: my student BlitzMail account will be turned off pretty soon, so you have two options: (1) don't e-mail me, (2) start e-mailing me at my alumni account, (or, if you're not into the whole brevity thing) inst—Three! You have three options. One, don't. Two, do. Three, I also have a Gmail account which I don't check very often:

The paper I'm currently writing is on machine translation, and I just came across the following gem on one translation company's website:

Q: How does Logos assure finest quality in translation?
A: All translation will be reviewerd by a Senior Editor who is responsible for overall quality control

Sunday, May 22, 2005

a few random links

Here is a fantastic interview with a man whose company designed and built giant fiberglass roadside attractions in the 1960s and '70s.

Latest read: Harry Frankfurt's On Bullshit.

This new White Stripes song is pretty... different. I guess I like it though.

Monday, May 16, 2005

what a cool guy

Judging from his bio, I bet this guy is pretty much the coolest guy in Japan.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

still the hardest-working man in show business?

My friend Lindsay and I drove down to Northampton, Mass. on Monday evening for a concert by the legendary Mr. James Brown, a.k.a. Soul Brother Number One, a.k.a. the Godfather of Soul, a.k.a. the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business, a.k.a. the Guy With the Most Semi-Official, Self-Congratulatory Nicknames.

Maybe you didn't know James Brown was still actively touring these days. He is 72, after all, so the hip-shaking and screaming and "unnnh!"s aren't as plentiful or as impressive as they used to be, but that's not to say that his stage show doesn't still kick some serious ass. Lindsay wrote all about it for yesterday's issue of The Dartmouth, but there are few more interesting things about the show that he didn't have the space to mention:

  • Of the two quasi-pornographic stage dancers that were part of the show, one of them surprised pretty much everyone by approaching the mike during one song and rapping for a minute or so in very rapid Spanish.

  • James Brown's head and body are amazingly well-preserved. He looks very fit, and he must have a good makeup person and a good plastic surgeon because his hair is so thick and jet-black and his face is so smooth and his teeth are so white that it's kind of creepy. He didn't even break a sweat until halfway through the show, and given the way he still moves, that's really strange.

  • The band's uniforms are absolutely amazing. They are bright red and look straight out of the early '60s show-biz world that Mr. Brown obviously still holds in the highest regard.

  • Jeff Watkins, one of Mr. Brown's two saxophone players, is one of the ugliest men ever to take the stage, and from his mustache and mullet he is apparently still living in the 1970s as well. (Here's another pic of the guy; he's on the right, apparently posing with a fan.) Even worse, he is apparently a graduate of the Annoying White Man School of Funk Saxophone Performance, which requires its students to take long, squealing solos that push the upper limits of the instrument's intended register.

  • Not surprisingly (given that the audience's median age was probably around 52 and average complexion was Extra-Pasty), Mr. Brown did not play "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)."

  • Mr. Brown did play the excellent song "Mother Popcorn (You Got to Have a Mother For Me)(Part 1)," but lamentably did not play any of his other popcorn-related hit singles, such as "The Popcorn," "Lowdown Popcorn," "Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn (Part One)," or my personal favorite, "Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn (Part Two)."

But it was still a great show.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

no two are alike — or are they?

So I was just wasting time as usual, instead of studying, and I decided to see if my blog showed up on a Google search. (Apparently, it does not.) I of course ran across a number of interesting sites along the way, such as this installment of "The Straight Dope," the venerable Chicago Reader column. The snowflake explanation is okay, but the ensuing argument about math is even better.

It's weeks like this one that are going to make me go broke: too many good albums being released. I just picked up the new Ben Folds album, and I'm intending to purchase the new Eels disc as soon as possible. In the meantime I am staying happy by listening to this online over and over again. This is a band I was really disappointed with on their last two albums, but they appear to be kicking it back up several notches. I approve. (I think iTunes needs to rethink their pricing policy for double-disc albums though. I was going to skip buying the CD edition and just download the album from them, but they charge $19.99, twice the price of a single album! The 2-disc CD edition is going for around 14 bucks.)

Ben Folds, on t'other hand, gets forty lashes for allowing his record label, Sony, to release his new album as a DualDisc. In theory it's not a bad idea — a normal audio CD on one side and some bonus DVD content on the other side — but it turns out that there's a little issue: "The audio side of this disc does not conform to CD specifications and therefore not all DVD and CD players will play the audio side of this disc." (That's verbatim from the back of the jewel case.) Turns out that my PowerBook's CD/DVD drive is one such player, so I can't import the disc onto my hard drive or my iPod. Boooooo.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

latenite musings

I'm very excited to have found this link to Saul Steinberg's 1976 New Yorker cover drawing, "A View of the World from Ninth Avenue." My grandparents have a framed copy of it on their wall and it is one of the funniest things ever.

Just got done watching two music DVDs with my friend Lindsay. The first was a collection of musical performances from an old British TV show called The Old Grey Whistle Test that ran during the '70s, and some of them are absolutely fantastic. This must've been the real-life inspiration for stuff like This Is Spinal Tap. The second DVD was the Radiohead documentary Meeting People Is Easy, which is probably the weirdest concert/tour film ever made. At several points, filmmaker Grant Gee cuts away from the performance going on onstage to security cameras positioned outside the venue as people mill around and the band can be heard faintly in the background. He's more interested in what other people think of the band than in the band itself. This holds throughout the movie, as when we see clueless reporters asking the band members the same stupid questions over and over. It's a movie you could potentially enjoy even if you weren't a big fan of Radiohead but were a big fan of avant-garde documentary filmmaking — but then again, it's a hard to imagine there's anyone under 40 who fits into the latter category but not the former.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Patriots' Day

No skiing-related news to speak of these days, as I'm back at Dartmouth focusing mostly on classes these days. (OK, focusing occasionally on classes and more frequently on Red Sox games, music, handcycling, and generally enjoying the spring.)

If I do get around to posting here, then, it'll probably be to give you random links like these:

  • I really like this new Beck video.

  • Some people are making a big deal about this new "people search," ZabaSearch, saying it represents an invasion of people's privacy. But it really doesn't provide any information about people that isn't already available elsewhere for free. More interesting (to me) is the site's connection to the Heaven's Gate cult.

  • I'm very excited about the new White Stripes single, "Blue Orchid," which was released on iTunes this morning. It's a very rocking, Led Zep/blues kinda thing — totally worth your 99¢.

  • If you're a Daily Show fan, you may have already caught this report about choosing a new Pope. If not, that clip is a pretty good introduction to the best show on TV.

Sunday, April 10, 2005



Arrrggh. There's a nasty little blizzard raging here in Denver, and all of today's flights out of town were cancelled. So here I am, stuck until Tuesday morning, at which time United Airlines has decided to allow me to fly to Boston, buy a bus ticket to Manchester, and drive myself back to Hanover. I'll miss two more days of class in addition to the three I missed last week for SkiTAM. This is no fun. At least my friend Charlie is very generously letting me stay at his place for a couple days until I can get a flight out of here. And at least tonight I might get to go see Electric Six and VHS Or Beta play the Larimer Lounge... heheh. Maybe every cloud does have a silver lining.