Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to school

It is nice to be back at home in New York. This time of year is always cheery in Morningside Heights, with students moving in and the optimism of a new school year!

I got home from Cayman yesterday evening, did a dissertation defense this morning and then came home and crashed for a deep and discombobulating three-hour afternoon nap that will probably wreak havoc with tonight's sleep possibilities, but I think it was worth it regardless. I still have one surplus cat staying with me, which is nice (two cats are more than twice as funny than one cat).

I need to get in gear for my opening classes next week (this means trying to unearth notes, course readers, books etc. and wondering why I do not leave them in some better and more systematically accessible fashion) - both are classes I have taught before and enjoy, so it shouldn't be too overwhelming. I'm on a big committee this year that will take up a significant amount of time and attention, and I also have three or four talks scheduled for October and early November, so I think things will be fairly busy.

I am done with the bulk of Ironman training and now have eleven days before I race next weekend in Madison! I am actually finding it nice to have the school stuff to worry about/concentrate on, it takes a bit of pressure off the other. I need to pick up my tri bike tomorrow from the store where it was having a tune-up, make all my complex lists for gear and travel and then drop off my road bike (which I'm actually using for the race) and gear bag on Friday to be transported in a truck to Wisconsin. One more long day on Saturday - the recommendation in the training plan I'm loosely following is to swim 1hr, ride (I will spin indoors) 2hr and run 2hr - at this point, that actually seems pretty short! Otherwise just bits and pieces to stay sharp/fresh.

(Over the past twelve weeks, I have completed approximately 165 hours of training - my biggest week was 20 hours, but many hovering in the region of 15 and recovery weeks at more like 6 or 8. It has been a pleasure and a privilege - I do want to do another iron-distance race in the not-too-distant future, but I think the training has to come in a semester where I have a sabbatical and am not trying to start or finish a major book! Next summer probably just a couple of half-ironman races and an Olympic distance or two.)

Light reading (airport edition): Samantha Shannon, The Bone Season (quite reasonably good - a thousand times better than The Night Circus, which only suggests itself as a comparison because of industry hype, but not perhaps as perfectly suited to my tastes as Laini Taylor's wonderful Daughter of Smoke and Bone books, with which it has a good bit more in common); a super book by David Epstein, The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance (I only wished it was longer - had the same experience with Wright's Scientology book - if the notes in the Kindle edition take up the final 30%, one comes very abruptly upon the end of the narrative while still wishing for more!); Kelly Braffet's Save Yourself, which I enjoyed very much indeed. Now reading Elmore Leonard's Raylan Givens stories.

Closing tabs:

The distribution of octopus intelligence.

Grizzlies prefer the overpass, black bears prefer the underpass. (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Another good interview with Wayne Koestenbaum. (Courtesy of Dave Lull.)

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