All posts by New Britain Bo

2017 Fitness+Health Redux

Had a weird year in 2017 for health and fitness.  Started the year with a month of planks (starting with 50 second plank and ending with a monster 6 minute plank, but it was an ugly plank).  Feb was a month of squats (starting with 30 and ending with 130).

Got the colonoscopy done this year (no polyps), but bowel prep OMG.

Had some great skate-skiing at Winding Trails in WeHa, but a spectacular wipeout on ice left me beaten/bruised, and soon I was at PT with a torn MCL.

Oncet the knee was healed, I picked up roller skate-skiing, and it is hard-going balance-wise:  any crack in the road or stick can send you caterwauling.

Noticed some blood in the urine after longish runs in May, and had visits to Dr. Fear, ultrasound (nada), and a cystoscopy (all clear).  Still had coloration until kidney stone passed in Sept.  Yikes, that was an awakening.

Lots of quality hiking in Scotland, Santa Barbara, and H'istan through the summer.

The race wall had been empty until a 5K in August (lousy timing, had to walk).  Started filling up the fall with short races, including Twin Cities 5K at the Capitol - first race I didn't have to walk some this year.  Last race was Moustache Run 5K in Minneapolis.

NBBW and I got mountain bikes for each other for our anniversary, so started getting into that - there are good trails not far from where we live.

Lots of swimming throughout the year - the only constant through all of this other stuff.

Discovered that Forest Lake School has their pool open for public lap swimming on weekdays from 5:30-7:30AM ($3) so started taking advantage of that over Thanksgiving and Xmas breaks.

Closed out the year with some cold-weather grouse-hunting with the little Hnos earlier this week, and an indoor triathlon this morning in Stillwater at a club (short swim, long spin, short run).

So Nation, what are you doing to keep yourself healthy and sane?

FMMD – The Economist

First Monday Book Magazine Day - The Economist

I’ve been a subscriber to The Economist for many years. I like that it has kind of an external view of things (a different perspective than what I read in the daily online broadsheets). I also watch BBC World News.

I usually get it in the mail on Saturday, and a goal has been to get through the prior week’s version before the next one shows up (a goal often missed). In fact, one time I got so backed up that I cancelled the subscription, but then caved and re-upped. I’m at parity this week.

It’s where I often learn new words, like Iftar (first meal after Ramadan), bête noire (a person or thing that one dislikes), liguica (Portuguese smoked sausage with garlic), poisson d'avril (April fool), civvy street (civilian life).

I generally share the world views of The Economist editors (open markets, free trade, cultural liberalism).

I read The Economist from back to front (the obituary, world market charts, exotic job postings, book reviews, articles about natural selection (in markets, economies, insect-world, shopping behavior, etc.), then country-specific blats, and if I can’t get to the first part (recent news) that’s OK as I’ve heard all of that stuff on the Internet or radio.

They’ve got some standing opinion columns I enjoy – Johnson writes about language (e.g. Oxford comma – “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.” “We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.”) Schumpeter (business), Babbage (technology), Buttonwood (Finance), Lexington (US stuff), Charlemagne (EU stuff), Bagehot (British stuff).

As an analytics guy, I like their charts/graphs. Big Mac index is good. I find it interesting how they selectively pick which countries to include on their graphs. I’ve made several investment decisions based on their articles (SQM – huge win; NBG – win but right before Greece went kaput; and several disasters - genomics  startups comes to mind).

So, WGOM peeps, what books/magazines are you reading?

FMBD – February 2017

I got in some interesting reading over the holidays:

Flashman – George MacDonald Fraser

A wild romp of a book features Flashman, a swashbuckling, womanizing, scoundrel in Victorian England’s Army, on assignment to a cantonment in Kabul. A raunchy coward, he bumbles his way miraculously through thick and thin. This is the first of a series. I just started another book in the series (Flashman in the Great Game) where Flashman gets caught up in the middle of the Sepoy Revolt.

The Last Moriarty - Charles Veley

We were at my next-door neighbor’s house for a pre-Holiday soiree and got to talking with this couple who live across the street. The conversation somehow got to Benedict Cumberbatch and the BBC’s Sherlock series.

I’m a big fan of the canon, and recalled a recent A.C. Doyle story I had just downloaded from Project Gutenberg and read on my newly purchased Kindle. The main jist of my observation was about what an a**hole Holmes could be to Watson.

So this couple both start to smile broadly, and it turns out he is a UTC engineer by day, but a fiction writer by night, and a big Doyle fan.  He had also recently written (and had published) a Sherlock Holmes ‘continuation’ story which fits into the canon with historical precision.

The Last Moriarty picks up after Reichenbach Falls, when Holmes finally comes out of hiding, and gets involved in an intrigue involving several industrial magnates from America, some Connecticut connections, and even a reference to Farmington’s Miss Porter’s school.

The Noise of Time - Julian Barnes

I’d read Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending after a positive review in the Economist (+ Man Booker Prize winner) and really enjoyed it.  I’m also a Dimitri Shostokovich fan, so when I saw this book reviewed, I immediately ordered it and devoured it.

The book starts with Shostakovich in a panic as he has just had his first opera performed (Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District) and the three figures in Stalin’s box seats walk out after the first act (including Stalin).  Shostakovich'  music is soon after denounced in Pravda.

He proceeds to dress up every night and sit in a chair next to the elevator with his kit and toothbrush, because he expects to be taken away by the secret police at night, and doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of his wife.  A lot of Soviet history mixed in with the musician's life and music.

A Whole Life - R. Seethaler

A tender read about a simple man who lives a simple life in the Austrian Alps, overcoming adversity, and yet persevering. Well written - a sad story but not a bummer.

So Nation - what have you been reading?

Smoking Char


Ordered these fine fellows (Arctic Char) from Coastal SeaFoods on Snelling in St. Paul, approx 3 lbs each.  Originally I was going to get Lake Trout but they can be iffy to get fresh.


Soaked them in a brine (salt and brown sugar) for 6'ish hours.

fullsizerender-3Then on to the smoker with Alder chips soaked for about 15 minutes.


Turned the smoker on to 200F and let them cook for about 3 hours (turned up the temps slightly for the last 1/2 hr.  Meanwhile me and the brothers were chainsawing trees in the yard.  Awesome Alder smell from the smoker.  Can't get too far away as the chips sometimes catch fire and need to be doused.


Tender, moist, and wonderful flavor.  Char (Salvelinus alpinus) is a delicate, fatty fish - smoking is a great way to make it.


γνῶθι σεαυτόν – Know thyself

Looking back on 2016, I had some high points (Simsbury TryAthlon, TrapRock 17K Trail Race, Ragnar Trails in MA, Longest Swim Evah in Carnac-Brittany, Narragansett Wheelmen Century Ride), but I also had numerous nadirs.

A glance at my training spreadsheet over the summer yields several gems: "more limping", "muscle spasms", Select Therapy sessions, "sore ankle", "sore knees", "epsom salt/vinegar bath."

Thanks to Baby Jeebus that it's not age-related.  And, this boyo ran my first mile in a month two days ago,  and the knee is behaving.  I'm trying to run responsibly while on the heal, but I want to go out there and run 10 miles.

What are you Citizens doing?