Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday morning ski report

Two facts:
1) on Thursdays I have no classes this semester.
2) Crested Butte is offering free skiing until Dec. 15th.

Okay…what do you think I did yesterday?

Why, yes, I did sit in my office and worked. Um. Yea.

So anyway, I borrowed one of Dr. Bones’ cars and headed for the hills. The drive from Gunni to Crested Butte is about 30 minutes and quite lovely. Again, hard to work a camera whilst driving, but there are a couple of points where one comes to a stop and can safely snap a picture. Most of these stops are expected…this one – not so much.

Once I got to Crested Butte, the first stop was Crested Butte Mountain Sports to check out the boot selection. SpudBro and SpudSIL got me a gift certificate for the shop for my birthday, and I have desperately needed new ski boots for years. My last pair was purchased during the first Clinton administration, and while they certainly remind me of happier political times, there’s only so much abuse polythene padding can handle. I tried on a couple of pairs and wound up with Technicas that the guy in the shop (the super-helpful and friendly Steve) had sold to a friend who used them once and didn’t care for them. Since they were technically used, I got a great price. More importantly, they hold my delicate little heels in place – something I’ve always found troublesome in most ski boots.

Here are my be-booted and be-skied lower extremities riding the lift. (The rest of me was also riding the lift, but is less photogenic.)

As you can tell from the picture, there’s not a great deal of snow yet. Actually, there’s only enough snow for skiing on the runs – the surrounding area is pretty bare, especially anything South-facing.

However, as they say, the worst day skiing is still better than the best day at the office. Granted, this is probably said by those who have neither experienced massive head trauma nor received a Lasker prize, but I can confidently say that I’ve paid well over a day’s wages to ski on substantially lousier snow that was available yesterday for free. There were a couple of slippery spots, but the fall lines down the edges were superb. Having heard a lot of chatter from my students about the prospects of a new run opening up today, I expected to see at least one of them on the mountain, and I wasn’t disappointed. Not sure if it helps or hurts my classroom cred to be seen sporting pigtails whilst wearing Gortex, but I’m willing to risk it.

Here's a prettier view farther up the mountain - still not much snow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Turkey Basement

Here Mr. PotatoHead and his parents, Kartoffel and Lefse, admire his busy afternoon's work on the Thanksgiving turkey.

Mr. PotatoHead went on to wield that knife he's sharpening to carve up the turkey using a spiffy new method from the New York Times. Evidently you remove each breast as a whole blob of meat and then cut slices off of that. It's easier than cutting directly off the carcass, if less dramatic.

It does look very pretty on the table next to china. I still love that pattern. Granted, it's not entirely logical to own a set of dishes you only use 2-3 times a year, but they are lovely.

Actually, in this shot there are two set of china represented - the Waterford Seville is our wedding china and the Rosenthal is from Mr. PotatoHead's Tante Lotte. I like 'em both.

You may be asking yourself what the heck Dr. PotatoHead brings to the table, and you'd be correct to do so. Be assured that I can set the table correctly more than 50% of the time, and I make a mean centerpiece. All the stuff in the pineapple bowl was grown on our majestic 0.05 acre estate.

In all seriousness, while Mr. PotatoHead was slaving away in the kitchen I was painting the basement. Not as nifty-looking as the turkey, but considerably more waterproof. And we need's a picture of the basement after I'd patched one of cracks and started the painting.

And here's the finished corner.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another self-portrait. Here is my shadow wantonly tromping over the endangered sagebrush ecosystem. The ecologists in my department are very into sagebrush and I've sat through several seminars on sagebrush, sage grouse, fritilliary butterflies that live in sagebrush, etc. (No, I don't know what fritilliary butterflies are, nor how to spell them. I've been too ashamed to ask.)

All kidding aside, I've learned a lot about
a neglected and underappreciated ecosystem. It's easy to get people psyched up to save the rain forest, but sagebrush is a harder sell. It's scruffy, it's brown most of the year, and it doesn't exactly have the most spectacular biodensity on the planet. To the casual observer it seems pretty dull and empty. But if you start hanging out in it you begin to notice little bits of exquisite beauty: unexpected flowers, flocks of birds, perky little chipmunky things, and, yes, the butterflies. Alas, it is generally regarded as a far better use to let cattle eat it than to let the flowers, birds, butterflies and chipmunky things live in it, so vast tracts of federal sagebrush are leased to ranchers. And after the cattle are done eating it, cheatgrass grows in its place which the cattle can't eat and the birds can't hide in. Somehow this all makes sense, but this was 1hr 35min into the seminar late on Friday afternoon so I missed that part.

Anyway, here's more sagebrush for 'ya. Enjoy it while it lasts.

This is path back to town - I wasn't actually standing in sagebrush. The palisades on the far right are all the way across the basin. I saw a herd of deer this morning but had some camera issue. There's no way you'd believe that the blob in the picture is actually a deer. This is one of the downsides of hiking in the morning - the light is fantastic one way and totally lousy the other.

Even the high mountains don't have much snow yet.

And we have trees, too! Or at least one.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Potato Farm

This weekend I drove to the old homestead to visit the original Mr. and Mrs. PotatoHead. It's a breathtakingly gorgeous drive: up 3000 feet in elevation, back down 6000, through wide basins and narrow passes.

And pictures. It's very hard to operate the camera and the steering wheel at the same time.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I keep having these little "I'm really a professor now" moments.

Many of them are just generic...the first student who obviously lied about completing a paper, the first annoying coach conversation, getting called "Hey, doctor" in the townie bar, etc.

But some are much more specific: a student is missing class today to go elk hunting with his uncle.

Does this happen to, say, NYU professors?