Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Deep Time

Deep time is the concept of geologic time first recognized in the 11th century by the Persian geologist and polymath, Avicenna (Ibn Sina, 973–1037, and the Chinese naturalist and polymath Shen Kuo (1031–1095). In Europe, the modern scientific concept was developed in the 1700s by Scottish geologist James Hutton (1726–1797).

An understanding of
geologic history and the concomitant history of life requires a comprehension of time which initially may be more than disconcerting. As mathematician John Playfair, one of Hutton's friends and colleagues in the Scottish Enlightenment, later remarked upon seeing the strata of the angular unconformity at Siccar Point with Hutton and James Hall in June 1788, "the mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time."

With the addition of a couple new Friends on Facebook, I now have a continuous string of acquaintances that runs from when I was about 5 and had recently moved to Connecticut, to the present. I have “curated” people from elementary school up there, to Middle and High School here in Jersey, my brief stay in College, Art School, bar life in Philly and most of my employment history.

Granted there are still some gaps, mostly in my memory or accounting of my timeline, but it still quite a stretch. Plus, I now finally have people that can corroborate some of my “tall tales”

The furthest down the line, I found after the oddest turn. I friended someone from Art School on Facebook and was looking at her friends list [in search of an ex-girlfriend, of course], when I saw a name I never thought I’d find. His first name is the same as mine and he had a very unusual last name, making for a unique combination. Yet, this person lived in California and my Art School friend was from Jenkintown then and now lived out by Allentown.

Two questions came to mind:
1) Is this the same person I knew from my kidhood?
2) How could they POSSIBLY know each other?

The first answer came pretty easily. I asked this person “Did you used to live in Connecticut? Did your Dad work at such-and-such? Did your parents play Bridge by any chance?”

Sure enough!!! Yes, yes and yes. Not only that but his mom and MY mom have the same first name as we do [a pair of Randy’s + a pair of Nancy’s]

Then we pieced Part Two together.

Apparently, his family moved to West Chester about the same time we moved here. As luck would have it, my friend Terri lived down the street from him. Fate took its course; she and I met in Art School.

Then there was ... well. I would say “Missing Link” as she’s not really a link to anything. Although, I did begin doing triathlons in the off chance I’d run into her some time.

Karen Smyers (born September 1, 1961 in Corry, Pennsylvania) is a triathlete from the United States, who won the inaugural women's triathlon at the 1995 Pan American Games in Mar del Plata (1995). She grew up in
Wethersfield, Connecticut, in an athletic family of seven children and one cousin that lived with them. She joined her older siblings on the town swim team at age eight.

Known for being an Ironman World Champion, Karen is also known for overcoming her setbacks.
- A bike accident leaving her with a broken collarbone.
- A collision with an 18-wheeler truck leaving her with broken ribs and multiple lung contusions.
- An accident with a storm window that severed her hamstring
- She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and survived
- Suffering a miscarriage and still being able to compete in the world championships three weeks later

I sent her a friend request on a whim, thinking that no “Legend” would possibly have the time or the interest in a BOPer like me. I was moderately shocked when she accepted. I was now in the company of
Scott Tinley, Chris McCormack, Greg Welch [another vertically-challenged retired triathlete LOL], Simon Lessing, Carol Montgomery ...

"I asked myself, 'Self? How did I get here?'

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yep ... THAT Danny Bonaduce

Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I am trying as hard as I can to catch up. To be honest with you, this isn't even a personal response. I mean, I am typing it and everything, but then I am going to cut and paste it (a skill I have recently learned) and send it to a couple hundred people. I'm sorry if I've missed any important questions or requests, but I'd rather get back to you this way than have you think I've forgotten about you. After all, I do work for you.

Thanks for listening to my show.

Your friend,

Danny Bonaduce

You see, I was just ON his show. Okay, just for a couple of seconds, anyway.

With the passing of Ken Ober [MTV’s “Remote Control”], Danny was talking about “famous last words. The first one to come to mind [naturally] was “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do” – Oscar Wilde.

Guess which one Danny says? BUT he can’t remember who said it.

I dialed.

The helper monkey [actually, a Gibbon in this case] picked up.

“Danny Bonaduce Show”
“Let Danny know it was Oscar Wilde, who said that”
“Hold on”

Hold on? I heard Danny talking on my phone mid-sentence.

“… Usually when I quote an Oscar, I can’t remember which one said it. Randy, go!”
“It was Oscar Wilde who said the ‘wallpaper’ thing”
“You know Oscar Wilde better than I do? Good man!!! Every read anything but Wilde?”

“’The Importance of Being Earnest’”
“Well done, man"

… and I was out.

Yeah, I was kinda taken by surprise and didn’t have my “A material” ... plus I might have been a little start-struck. Danny’s ALWAYS been a role-model to me:

5’6”? Check
Fake bass player? Check

… and so on.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

'Roid Rage???

There were a couple of domestic management mishaps around the house last week that were met with an unusual reaction, especially coming from me.

Never mind what they were exactly, but each would have normally sent me into a howling rage. You see, I’ve always had massive anger management issues. In fact, it was my temper, adrenalized might and unwillingness to back down from a fight, which prompted my best friend in high school to take up martial arts – his dad was tired of this little skatepunk going ape-shit on his kid and giving him a pretty good beating before he ran out of gas; usually over nothing significant.

Ken learned well, and has done alright for
himself in the years since.

Anyway …

So, instead of blowing my stack, flying off the handle, yelling, screaming, blaming and carrying on; I calmly said, “Well there’s nothing I can do about it right now. I’ll take care of it in the morning.”

What prompted this change in behavior???

I’d like to say that running has brought me a new, passive and reflective attitude, with less worries and strife; but that’s not it … at least I don’t think so.

It’s hormones … specifically, the LACK of hormones.

It occurred to me that we hadn’t had red meat in the house for about a month. I made a roast beef at the beginning of November, but that was the last time I could recall having anything beefy in quite some time.

If someone had told me “No red meat for a month” I would have naturally resisted. “You can’t tell ME what to eat and what NOT to!!!” Since the change was voluntary and apparently subconscious, I have no one to argue with.

I really don’t feel like arguing anyway.

I’m saying that I’m giving up cow for good either … just cutting way, WAY back. Besides, I would REALLY like to make this:

Beef and Barley Stew with Stout – from
Culinary Competitor

There are few things that take the edge off a cold winter training session like returning home to a bowl of hot beef stew with stout. This stew's primary carbohydrate sources are the yams and pearled barley. Yams are particularly high in vitamin C, and have respectable amounts of potassium and vitamin B6.

Stew beef is generally taken from less desirable cuts of meat--which here is a good thing. "Less desirable" cuts are often leaner, which in the case of a slow-cooked meal is a non-issue as the meat will be plenty tender and full of flavor. It is very important for athletes to maintain iron levels, especially during the winter months when training miles can be pretty big, and the occasional serving of red meat is a great way to do so.

I love to cook a double batch of this beef stew on a Friday night (then I can drink a few of the stouts that go into making it in the process....), and round up the boys after a big day on Saturday to eat all the leftovers. My stout of choice for this stew is
North Coast Brewery's Old Rasputin. Only sold in 4-packs (it is questionable as to whether any human being could even consume 6 Rasputins...), this beer redefines stout as most of us know it. If you can get your hands on some Old Rasputins--you will not be disappointed.

1 ¼ lb lean stew beef, trimmed and cut into one inch cubes
1 large yam, cubed
1 medium celery root, peeled and cubed
½ cup pearled barley
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T fresh ginger, minced
8 cups beef broth
12 oz stout beer
2 T flour
2 T olive oil
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t allspice
1/8 t cumin
salt and pepper

Makes 4 servings.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the cubed beef to the olive oil to brown and season with salt and pepper. Cook for eight to ten minutes, until browned on all sides, and remove with a slotted spoon, reserving juices. Set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, celery root, and ginger to the pot over a medium-low flame and cook for eight to ten minutes. Add the flour and stir to form a pasty consistency. Add the stout, bring to a low simmer, and cook for about eight minutes until reduced to about 1/3 the original volume. Add the cinnamon, allspice, and cumin; stirring to combine. Add the beef broth and barley, then return the browned beef to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Simmer covered for about one hour, then add the cubed yams and cook just until soft, about fifteen minutes.


Yeah, I could pass on the abstinence for a day [plus however long the leftovers (leftovers???) would last]