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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Dylan lyric for parents

As a result of some recent challenges associated with parenting my kids, this Dylan lyric really struck a cord with me:

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Looking Back 15 Years

I'm sitting in the Community Food Co-Op in Bozeman on a Thursday morning. This place remains my favorite grocery store/cafe in Montana; the Good Food Store in Missoula doesn't hold the same sway for me. Part of the reason has to be that I used to come here as a 23 and 24 year old, sit at a table with coffee, and soar in idealism as I wrote in my journal and dreamed of a life of freedom. 

Am I living that life. Well, it's complicated, as most middle-aged readers will understand. On the one hand, a few of my pipe-dreams from back then have been realized: I have a great family, a beautiful home, have traveled the world, am a professor at the University of Montana, and I am still able to get out and do the things I love in nature. On the other, I must admit that I don't carry the weight and worries of life as lightly as I would have hoped. But I'm working on that.  

I drove to Bozeman from Butte, where I stayed with Mom last night. The air is clearer in Butte and Bozeman than it is in Missoula, and it's more open. I noticed on the drive that the transition occurs around Drummond, where Ponderosa Pine forests stop and arid high desert begins. It's probably the altitude that does it, as the air feels closer to alpine, especially in Butte, where the great beauty of Summit Valley, surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Highlands and Pintlers, is offset by the ugliness of 100+ years (and still going strong) of heavy mining. 

Today I give a talk on my research in the MSU Applied Math Seminar. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No More Telemark Skiing -- The End of an Era

That's me tele-ing Guns and Roses on the backside of Discovery several years back. So long free heels.
On a Friday in early February, I forgot my boots on the way up to Snowbowl and so rented some equipment for the afternoon. I had been thinking about getting rid of my telemark gear for weeks (even years) and had been alpine skiing on my tele equipment for a while. The experience on some proper alpine gear convinced me that it was time to make to switch. So I bought myself some boots, grabbed some bindings off of an old pair of skis, had them put on my tele boards, and that was that, I was a tele skier no longer.

This may sound like no big deal, but it kind of is for me. I started telemarking back in the winter of 1992-93 as a freshman at Montana Tech. I was passionate about skiing from the start and remain so, but I always was proud of the fact that I was a telemarker, especially back in the 90's when that was the 'cool thing'. Over the years, I got to be pretty proficient on the teles, moving from leather boots to the modern, beefy plastic boots that are as stiff as an alpine boot.

I probably would never have given telemarking up, but my knees began to hurt me a few years back. I was able to ignore the pain for a while, as it wasn't so bad, but finally this year it began to impinge on the fun, and so I figured it was time. I've been glad to find that the move to alpine from telemarking is easy. Indeed, alpine skiing is significantly less strenuous and so I can enjoy a longer day, I feel like I can ski harder, and most importantly for me, it doesn't hurt.

Okay it hurts a little, but that's skiing for you. Where else can you ride 2500 feet down a mountain, weaving through trees and snow, in five minutes. (Oh yeah, mountain biking!) It's a feeling like few others. Anyway, I say good bye to telemark skiing, in the hopes that I'll be traveling to the hill in winter for decades to come.