Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tank thirty-eight

Total miles: 14248. Trip miles: 319.0. Gallons: 6.56. Price per gallon: $3.019.

Screen mileage: 49.5 mpg. Tank mileage: 48.6 mpg. Combination of long and short trips.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Icy trail at Cold Spring Park

Icy trail at Cold Spring Park
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went for a little hike over at Cold Spring Park today. The snow on the trails has been tramped down so much, and there has been enough freezing and thawing, that the trails are now one massive icy glaze. This turned my hike into an exercise in staying upright.

January - Breakfast with Buddha

I’ve already read a couple of books in January, and will probably get in another one before the month is done.

The one I enjoyed most, so far, is Breakfast with Buddha, by Roland Merullo. It’s a sort of road-trip, foodie, Buddhist adventure. Lots of fun and a quick read.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A review of "Crossing to Safety (Modern Library Classics)"

by Wallace Earle Stegner

Crossing to Safety is the story of the friendship between two couples, focusing primarily on the academic struggles of the husbands, and the health troubles of the wives. The book did not resonate with me, and I found the portraits sometimes shallow. In particular, Charity, one of the wives, is so overbearing that the book is rather unpleasantly overwhelmed by her personality. I kept wanting to hear about the other characters, but then there’d come another earful about some controlling action by Charity. I sometimes felt that I was sitting in the narrator’s kitchen, listening to him vent about yet another egregious episode perpetrated by his friend’s wife. The book is only saved by rising above these petty details to deal with the subject of death in an poignant way; at least it got some tears from me, although I may be an easy mark.

On a side note, I also liked the fact that Stegner delved into certain mundane life issues, like financial difficulties, and surviving in academia. One of the characters is quite wealthy, and we get a different take on the whole Friends with Money situation.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Wallace Stegner. Apparently it was his last novel. I’d be willing to try something else by him, if only for comparison.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tank thirty-seven

Total miles: 13928. Trip miles: 308.4. Gallons: 6.06. Price per gallon: $3.199.

Screen mileage: 47.8 mpg. Tank mileage: 50.9 mpg. Traveling around...

I did an oil change last Friday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view along the trail at Wilson Mountain Reservation. The park seems to be a popular one for dog-walkers. I was very impressed with the fact that the parking lot was all cleaned up, largely free of snow. This makes a good first impression of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Sky and ice

Sky view
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went hiking at Wilson Mountain Reservation in Dedham, MA, today. It was a beautiful, invigorating, blue-sky day, temperatures just around freezing. Snow was still everywhere. Slightly sticky, not slippery on the trail. I had no trouble just hiking in my boots, no snowshoes or YakTrax needed.

I did about 2 miles in 35 minutes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Snowy tree

Snowy tree
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Nice snow yesterday, even if the power did go out!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Metropolitan Museum

Museum scene
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

My vacation wound down in NYC, with a short visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is a view of a sculpture and a couple of paintings from the Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, now showing there. Definitely worth the trip, it fills numerous rooms with modern paintings, lots of Miro, Klee, Balthus. There's a really beautiful painting by Frankenthaler with salmons, pinks, and blues; a super Pollock; and a few interesting pieces by artists that I'd never heard of before (Esteban Vicente?). I could have spent more time looking around... hope to get back there soon.

Stratton Mountain

Stratton Mountain
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view along the blue piste called Lower Standard, under the gondola, looking down at Stratton Village.

We had the best ski conditions on Monday. By Tuesday, the warmth had caused the snow to get a bit icier than I like, but it was still not bad.

On Wednesday, we had really bad luck - we got hit by a rainy downpour just as we were heading for the ski tent, so we decided to skip skiing for that day and headed into Manchester for sightseeing and good eating (Zoey's maple bread pudding is a must, IMHO).

On Thursday, we did more skiing. By then, conditions had worsened. The trails were becoming granular and icy, due to the rainfall. However, my skiing skills were up to the challenge and I enjoyed the day overall. In fact, I actually enjoyed the increasing test of my skills as conditions gradually got a little worse the longer we stayed there...

Unfortunately, Friday was a total bust, with rain making the conditions so poor that we decided not to ski. Luckily, we got comped with two "gift certificates" that we happily spent in the village. I would have preferred a good day of skiing, but it was better than nothing. Stratton does a good job of keeping people happy even when the weather does not cooperate.

Altogether, we did cover quite a lot of territory at Stratton, doing multiple runs of the greens - Lower Middlebrook and 91 - over by Sun Bowl Lodge; skiing most of the little maze of greens in the area of Lower Tamarack; and also most of the greens that start at the summit with Mike's Way and Upper Wanderer. We became comfortable with some of the blues as well, including Betwixt and Yodeler. I think if conditions had been better, I would have done a lot more skiing along the blues.

Stratton Village

Stratton Center
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went on a ski vacation with a friend last week. This year, after considering my perennial favorite, France, and also looking into options in Quebec, we decided to give the Northeast US a try. The exchange rate was a big factor here.

We decided on Stratton, given the large number of easy and intermediate trails, and the convenience (within reasonable driving distance).

We had good luck and bad luck. The week prior to our vacation, the northeast had been through a few frigid days (in the teens), with a good snowfall. This must have helped to build up the snow base at Stratton.

However, by the day that we arrived, Sunday, January 6, the weather had begun to warm up. On Monday, it had become unusually warm, in the 40s. Snow was rapidly melting. The photo here was taken on Tuesday. By that time, practically all the snow was gone from the center.

Something else you can notice in this photo is the lack of crowds - indeed the lack of people altogether. Apparently during this particular week, the one after Christmas week, there is a lull at Stratton (perhaps this is true of all US ski resorts?). Since I hate crowded skiing conditions, this helped a lot. It is something that I will keep in mind for my next trip.

A review of "The Old Woman Who Walked in the Sea"

by Laurent Heynemann

Perhaps I am a philistine in this matter, but I am not a fan of Jeanne Moreau. I am almost embarrassed to admit it. True, I haven’t seen much of her stuff. I have seen Jules et Jim, a movie which did little for me – and I just don’t get the attraction.

The movie The Old Woman Who Walked in the Sea does nothing to change my mind. Poorly executed, acted, scripted, directed, and filmed – there is nothing that I liked about this film!

I will continue to sample Moreau’s oeuvre, however, in the hopes of discovering the charm in her talent. Michel Serrault doesn’t come off very well in this movie, either, and I know from previous experience (Rien ne va plus, The Girl from Paris) that he can be quite a good actor.

If you want to see a good French film themed around a con artist, take a look at Isabelle Huppert in The Swindle (Rien ne va plus). Caveat: I am a big fan of Huppert, and can’t get enough of her.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tank thirty-six

Total miles: 13620. Trip miles: 367.0. Gallons: 7.457. Price per gallon: $3.139.

Screen mileage: 52.4 mpg. Tank mileage: 49.2 mpg. Just home from vacation.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tank thirty-five

Total miles: 13253. Trip miles: 257.6. Gallons: 5.524. Price per gallon: $3.299.

Screen mileage: 47.5 mpg. Tank mileage: 46.6 mpg. Still on vacation...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Tank thirty-four

Total miles: 12995. Trip miles: 335.9. Gallons: 7.73. Price per gallon: $3.049.

Screen mileage: 49.5 mpg. Tank mileage: 43.5 mpg. On vacation.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A story about "Locked in the Cabinet"

by Robert B. Reich

The book is great so far. I love Robert Reich’s self-deprecating humor. Here’s an excerpt from February 7, 1993. Reich, man of the people, has just closed the executive dining room. The well-meaning intent is that “This is a Democratic administration. We eat with the workers. We wait in line with the workers.” So there he is, standing on line to pay the cashier in the cafeteria, along with everyone else:

Ten minutes later, still standing in line, I feel my egalitarian zeal beginning to wane….

The line creeps forward. What if the President of the United States is trying to reach me? “I’m sorry, Mr. President, the Secretary can’t come to the phone right now. He’s in the cafeteria. Been waiting in the cashier line for twenty minutes.”

While on line, the woman in front of him strikes up a conversation with him, failing to recognize that he’s the new Secretary of Labor. Really fun stuff! I wish I’d been there.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A story about "Locked in the Cabinet"

by Robert B. Reich

I’m at a friend’s house, and picked up Robert Reich’s Locked in the Cabinet, buried amongst a ton of other books here. I enjoyed his book I’ll Be Short, so I’m giving this a try. Interesting, so far.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Tank thirty-three

Total miles: 12659. Trip miles: 145.2. Gallons: 2.794. Price per gallon: $3.219.

Screen mileage: 47.5 mpg. Tank mileage: 52.0 mpg. Usual pump. A few short trips.

This was an unusual case, in that I filled up with more than half a tank of gas in the car, in preparation for a long drive. The tank mileage is better than the screen mileage, also unusual. I'm not sure, but the pump may have stopped early, before completely filling the tank.

I moved my home base yesterday, so I've said good-bye to the "usual pump." I'll have to seek out another one around my new temporary digs.