Monday, June 29, 2009

Hiking across SCRA

Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
Yesterday was my birthday, and to celebrate I organized a hike across the three gulfs that make up the South Cumberland Recreation Area. It's a 14.1-mile hike with trailheads that are a one-hour drive apart, so we ran this hike as a key swap. Our group started at Stone Door, hiked across the Connector Trail past Collins Gulf, down the South Rim Trail to Savage Gulf. The other group reversed this route. In the middle of the hike, the our groups met and swapped car keys.

It's a beautiful area, so the scenery was lovely, but the weather was brutal - about 90 with 90% humidity. A couple of hikers had the brilliant idea to bring a couple of watermelons on ice for after. This photo is of our group enjoying a post-hike treat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chugging along

PPI went off well last week, and now I'm diving back into analyzing gubernatorial election data, revising a manuscript, and chasing down institutions for participation in my dissertation. Right now I'm working at a coffeeshop - yes, I'm kind of broke, but a cup of coffee costs only twice what gas to campus does, and I get much better people-watching. The office has a sad, deserted feel in the summer.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

North Chickamauga hike

Mountain man
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
Yesterday we did a fabulous hike in scorching heat - the high was close to 100 degrees. The hike is pretty, but the real reason to do it is the swimming.

This segment of the Cumberland Trail follows a creek that has several swimming holes along the way. Locals tend to prefer the spots closest to the parking lot. The upside (and downside) of these spots is that anyone can get there. We out-of-towners instead head four miles to Green Hole, which we then have pretty much to ourselves. The water is refreshing, and there is an excellent rope swing. (Note: There is a hornet nest on a tree right at the nexus of the trail and the water. So don't go grabbing or disturbing the tree!) We spent quite a while swinging, floating, and generally frolicking.

This time we weren't quite alone; a local trail runner showed up and we co-opted him. He proved handy later, as we shall see.

After swimming, a small group of us headed .5 miles farther to the Stevenson Branch campsite. It is a very nice campsite, but the trail is really just a series of blazes and not worth hiking to just to hike. It took much longer than one would anticipate. As we went along, we found the smoldering remains of a campfire. Geniuses had tried to burn plastic and then not put their fire out completely. That's sheer laziness; the water was only 25 feet away. Our new friend showed proved his worth by getting water and smothering the remains.

What with the swimming and the extra bit, not to mention post-hike pizza, it was quite a long day. I would suggest, if you do this hike, not going to Stevenson Branch, and instead using that time to hop into one of the local's swimming holes as you near the end of the hike.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weekend shenanigans

I went out to Percy Warner this morning and hiked the Mossy Ridge Trail, and I could really feel that the last few weeks have been light on hiking. I've been working out but not getting many trail miles in. There are some big hikes coming up, and I not only need to have strong muscles but be acclimated to hiking in the heat. My time for Mossy Ridge was 1 hour, 43 minutes, not great but not bad either.

Today the Peabody Professional Institute for Institutional Advancement Leadership starts, and since I am working this one I'll be busy the next few days. Tonight I have to start by eating barbecue ... tough, I know.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The best statement I've seen of why "going green" (whether it's "you can save the planet just by switching lightbulbs" or living so greenly that other people despair) as individuals just isn't enough.

Searching for a job: "'Listen,' she said, 'I've never seen anyone in your stage of graduate school who has felt good — physically or mentally. I'm just not sure it's possible for you to be wrapping up your diss, looking for a job, teaching, and feeling calm and healthy.'"

"The postindustrial world is not in fact populated — as gurus like Richard Florida, who has popularized the idea of the 'creative class,' would have it — by 'bizarre mavericks operating at the bohemian fringe.' The truth about most white-collar office work, Crawford argues, is captured better by 'Dilbert' and 'The Office': dull routine more alienating than the machine production denounced by Marx." (Review of a new book.)

Construction is one area where a lot goes to waste. Here's one case where the transaction costs of sharing information were low enough that everyone won.

Tweet: "Women Thru-hikers Increasing on the Appalachian Trail." Really? I'm sure there are some pregnant women on the trail, but enough for a headline? Oh, wait, you mean the number of women is increasing. I know 140 characters is limiting, but the character limit isn't always the problem. "More women thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail," for example, would have actually been shorter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jobs roundup

I promised that when my job search was over for the year, I would share some details of the search. That time has come.

First, the most important news is that I will be sticking around Vanderbilt for another year as a student, finishing up my dissertation and getting some articles out.

I applied for 11 positions, which included one postdoc and two strictly assistant positions. The others were either open-rank or assistant/associate. (What that means, for non-academics, is that there is a lot more competition, including luminaries in the field.) Three schools requested more information or interviews of some kind from me. And I received one offer, which I ultimately declined.

Several of the positions weren't offered to me or to anybody else because of state budget cuts. That, combined with the number of open-rank positions, made it a difficult year for someone finishing up. In some ways I'm relieved, because I can use the next year to get a lot done.

Monday, June 1, 2009

SERA 2009

Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
I'm back from SERA 2009 and I'm tired! We worked hard and had fun.

This photo was supposed to be your standard boring group shot, but a reveler enlivened it considerably. We're all dressed up for the Mardi Crawl parade held Saturday night.