Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peach Cobbler v3.0

Even after Monday's cobbler catastrophe, I wasn't ready to give up. And everything went right today: I didn't destroy any personal property, and the cobbler survived long enough for us to eat it. And it was delicious.

I got out of class earlier today than I did on Monday, so I was able to pick up peaches at the Allred Orchard place on University. Much better than the peaches at Harmon's, and much cheaper, too.

Of course, they were even better after stewing in their own juices, with a cup sugar thrown in for good measure.

Last time I mixed the batter, it cost me $400. It went better today.

Like most things, it's better with butter.

And peaches.

Here's the finished product. Unfortunately, some of the mix boiled up onto the side of the dish and burned in the oven. The cobbler turned out fine, but it didn't look as nice as I had hoped.

It looked fine with ice cream, though.

And that's the end of my cobbler adventure. The recipe turned out to be pretty simple, once I eliminated all the mayhem, and I think I'll use it again sometime. Cobbler is one of Catherine's favorite desserts, but I don't usually eat much of it. This one is different, though. I think it's the fresh peaches that make the difference.

This last picture has nothing to do with cobbler. But I've posted a picture of Elliott every day this week, so why stop now?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Worst. Interview. Ever.

It's interviewing season at the law school right now. I was going to go into more detail about that, but I changed my mind, at least for now.

This afternoon I had a phone interview with a large firm in Southern California. I'm pretty sure the big firm path isn't for me, but the attorney I worked for this summer advised me to pursue opportunities in the biggest firms in the biggest markets available to me, so I figured I should at least apply. (In the off chance that they don't say no to me, I can always say no to them if I want to, right?)

Anyway, I scheduled the interview for this afternoon because Elliott was supposed to be with a babysitter, and that way I wouldn't have to worry about what to do with a fussy baby during the interview. I was especially worried about that because I knew that if she started crying during the interview, I would have to not only ignore her until I was done, I'd have to move to a different part of the house so that the I wouldn't have to be competing with a screaming baby for the interviewer's attention. That seemed like a bad idea to me.

Unfortunately, something came up, and Elliott was with me this afternoon rather than with a babysitter. And as expected, she woke up and started fussing about 30 minutes before the interview. I fed her, but that didn't help, so I put her in her little Bumbo chair on the table where she could watch me work, and that seemed to do the trick.

Elliott was still happy five minutes before the scheduled interview time, so I decided to leave her in the chair (although I put her and her chair on the floor in case I had to leave her unsupervised for a bit.) I was sure things were going to work out, but less than two minutes into the interview Elliott started to fuss.

I moved into the kitchen so that the interviewer wouldn't be able to hear anything, but a few minutes later Elliott started to cry and I had to move out into the yard. I think moving away from your crying baby is the most counter-intuitive things you can do as a father

Needless to say, I don't recall much of the interview. I remember answering questions, but my mind never left the living room. At one point, the interviewer was giving a fairly lengthy response to one of my questions, so I covered the mouthpiece on my phone and ran inside to check on Elliott. I felt like the worst parent in the world when I stepped inside and saw her sitting there alone and crying her little head off.

But it was even worse when I stepped back in a few minutes later and she wasn't crying any more. Instead, she was slouched in her chair panting with her eyes red and tears streaked down her cheek. As for as I could tell, she had cried until she couldn't cry anymore, and then she just sat there wondering why no one was coming to get her. I'm not sure if I've ever felt so bad in my life.

The interview ended shortly after that and I ran inside, pulled Elliott out of her chair, and sat with her in the rocking chair until Catherine came home 45 minutes later. As I write this, I'm pretty sure she's forgotten the whole thing. But I haven't, and I won't, either.

As for the interview, who knows. Honestly, at this point I'm not sure I even care.

Monday, August 29, 2011

One of those Days

Today is Catherine's birthday. Last year, Amy got some peaches from a roadside place in Provo and gave them to Catherine as a present. They were some of the best peaches we've ever had, so I told Catherine I'd get her some on my way home today. This afternoon I decided I'd do one better and use the peaches to make her a birthday cobbler (Catherine loves peach cobbler).

Unfortunately, I don't get out of class until 6:00 on Mondays, so the peach place was closed by the time I got there. Not to be deterred, I picked up some peaches at Harmon's and went home and got busy in the kitchen.

As I was preparing the batter, I knocked my mixing bowl over, spilling the contents on my computer and destroying it. (It being my computer, not the cobbler. Although the cobbler was pretty dead, too.)

Since I'm at a point in my life where I can't be computerless (and since Catherine is one of those Mac people, I can't really borrow her computer), I had to run over to Costco to see what I could find. I was lucky enough to find a screaming deal on a computer comparable to the one I had just destroyed (better in some ways). Although it was a bummer to have to shell out so much on short notice, I can take comfort in the fact that (thanks to Costco's 2-year warranty) I now have a computer guaranteed to last me through law school. Unless I spill cobbler on it.

While I was at Costco, Catherine called me and I could hear Elliott crying in the background. Catherine had left her on her little play mat, as we always do, and Elliott had then kicked herself back hard enough to bop her head on a bookshelf. She was fine, but it was a bit of a scare for us first-time parents. The silver lining here is that Elliott is showing the first signs of mobility. We're proud of her for that, and we're bracing ourselves for the fact that this won't be the last time she bops her head.

Also while I was at Costco, Catherine had pulled my cobbler v2.0 out of the oven and set it out to cool. Because we have limited counter space, we usually let things cool on the stove top. Unfortunately, I had been so flustered after destroying my computer that I forgot to turn off the stove. A few minutes after Catherine set the cobbler down, it exploded. There's no silver lining here--it was an awesome cobbler, and we were excited to eat it.

Happy birthday, Catherine. I love you, and I'm sorry things didn't go more smoothly today.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

An Experiment

For the past year or so, Catherine and I have been slowly reading through mission journals together. And while mine is not as interesting or as detailed as hers, it is pretty complete in the sense that there was only one day throughout the who two years that I didn't write, and that day was in the MTC.

Since I got home, I've never managed to keep a journal with any consistency. The lack of motivation has carried over into my blogging.

Of course, the key to my writing on the mission was that I wrote something every day. Sometimes that only amounted to a sentence or two. Other times I wrote pages. But I always wrote.

So following the example of another blog I read, I'm going to try this week to write every day. Even if I have nothing to say, I'll put something down. After all, I can always post baby pictures:

Speaking of babies, today was Elliott's blessing. The comment I heard most about her blessing afterward was "short and sweet." Which I guess means that I had a noticeable lack of things to say. But I was nervous (I hate public speaking). And besides, quality over quantity, right?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

2011 Speedgoat 50K - So Not Cool

I signed up for the Speedgoat 50K last year, shortly after a successful run at Sapper Joe. But I injured my knee for the first time a couple of weeks later and ended up deferring my registration. Unfortunately, I've spent most of this year injured, too, so I was going to defer one more time, but a few weeks ago Jared called and peer-pressured me into running. So, after a couple of weeks of light training and a longish run a few days before the race, I found myself heading up to Snowbird with Catherine and Elliott bright and early on Saturday morning.

Here's the elevation profile for the Speedgoat:

And here's my training mileage for the year up to the day before the race. Can you spot the problem?

Anyway, Jared talked me into running by telling me that he hadn't run much either. Of course, his not running much involved a ton of backcountry skiing, including a new speed record on the Grand Teton, whereas my not running much involved not running much or doing anything else.

We decided to take at easy on the opening climb and stay together until the tram. (Andy said he would do the same, but he was gone fifty feet into the race—probably a good call, as he would go on to finish seventh). And we mostly stayed together, I ditched Jared twice on the way up—once when he stopped to figure out how to get water from an aid station with no cups (how's the no bottle strategy working now, Samurai?) and again when he stopped to figure out how to cross a stream without getting his feet wet—but we were still together as we came into the final half mile to the tram station. But then we overshot the trail while climbing straight up a snowy slope, and Jared opened a small gap that would hold for eight miles or so when he slid back down to get on course as I tentatively picked my way after him.

I reached the aid station at the summit and paused long enough to drink some soda before tackling a quick, steep descent along the ridge and then climbing to the top of Baldy. From there it was a longer descent into Mineral Basin, which included a rocky shoot with ropes set up to help me and the other runners not die. Scary stuff.

From Mineral Basin it was a short climb over a ridge, followed by a long descent into American Fork Canyon. The descent was infuriating. I guess you could call it a fire road, but it was covered in rocks and super technical, making it impossible to maintain any speed or develop any sort of rhythm. Also, the course had been heavily flagged up until this point, the flags on the descent were few and far between, making me wonder if I had wandered off course. I reminded myself that I could always just run home if that were the case, but that turned out to be unnecessary, as there was a course marshal at the bottom directing me to the feed zone at the turnaround.

I arrived at the feedzone, comfortably in the top 20, just as Jared was leaving. I loitered for a while before setting back out on course, because I just couldn't bear the thought of the climb in front of me. Although I had felt pretty good for the first half of the race, the long descent had trashed my quads, and 16 miles was about as far as my training had prepared me for. I ended up hiking almost all of the five-mile climb back to Mineral Basin. I wasn't the only one hiking, but based on how many people passed me, I must have been hiking slower than almost everyone. (I say almost everyone because I caught and passed Jared about a mile out of the feedzone.)

I stopped at the feedzone in Mineral Basin to stock up on Jolly Ranchers, salt capsules and water, and I actually felt a lot better for the brtually steep climb straight up a ski slope to the tunnel. But the following descent took everything I had left, and by the time I hit the climb back up to the tram station I was done.

As I shuffled up the ridge, Jared blew past me, then another runner, then another. I eventually staggered into the aid station with my head pounding (from the altitude, the dehydration, the lack of carbohydrates, or some combination of the three) and unable to to walk in a straight line. One of the volunteers asked what I needed and I said a chair. As I sat there with several cups of soda, a tram arrived at the top, and I seriously thought about hopping in and DNFing, thinking I still had 8 miles and another climb to the finish. But when one of the volunteers told me it was only five miles, all downhill, I knew I had to get up and finish.

The descent was slow and painful and slow. And did I mention slow? My quads were so trashed that 12 minute miles downhill were a struggle, and I may have even walked a few stretches. For the last two miles or so I checked my Garmin every 10-15 seconds, wondering why the stupid miles were passing so slowly. But finally I hit the finish line in 7:26. Catherine and Elliott were there waiting for me, and I don't think I've ever been so happy to be done running.

Honestly, this was not a fun race. I was woefully unprepared, and I think I got lucky it went as well as I did. But although I promised myself repeatedly throughout the day that I was going to quit doing this to myself, I'm already planning to go back next year. Assuming I my knee will let me put in the training miles, I know I can do much, much better. My time was the time I deserved, but it wasn't even close to what I'm capable of. Watch what happens next time.