Bengaluru Bound

One of my teammates, Pratik Yadav, lives and works in Bengaluru, India. Last October I had the pleasure of hosting Pratik in Fort Collins for week. Next week I'm going to be in the Mapbox Bengaluru office to work and experience what it's like to be working at Mapbox on India Standard Time.

Unlike my Indian colleagues, who have been to Western universities and travel to Europe for conferences and DC or San Francisco for work, I've never spent any time in the other hemisphere. This will be my first trip east of Prague, 14.42 degrees east, ever.

Bengaluru has a climate that you can't find in the United States. It's at 12 degrees north and 920 meters (3020 feet). The weather forecast for the next 10 ten days is like a dry June on the Front Range: a low of 60 °F and high of 88 °F and no rain. I've been in the foothills of the Venezuelan Andes before, which is probably similar in some ways, but I'm expecting all kinds of surprises. Once upon a time I wanted to be a climatologist and I'm still pretty geeked about climate. Bengaluru's seems to be special.

I'm on the road for 8 days starting tomorrow. Forgive me for late replies to emails and GitHub issues, as I'll be offset 12.5 hours from my usual schedule. I'll blog about the trip after I'm back and will probably post to Instagram a little more than usual.

Midwinter malaise

February has sucked from a health and fitness point of view. I had the flu. I've had bronchitis. Today I have come down with a cold, the day I intended to make up the long run I missed while skiing on Sunday. I've lost a week and a half of training already this month and am going to spend the next two weekends in airports and planes. I'm starting to revise my expectations for the Quad Rock from "kicking ass" to "finishing" and am looking for any silver linings at all. My left hamstring, which I strained at the end of January, is feeling nicely rested, so there's that.

Midwinter running

The Fort Collins foothills trails were closed today because of wet conditions and so I drove to the Riverbend Ponds Natural Area on the east edge of the city to run. It was grey and cold (-8 °C) and muddy or icy depending on how much sun or shade a segment of trail had received on Saturday. I tried out my new shoes, New Balance Hierro (v3), and found them good on ice and snow and less good in the mud.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4704/28305771899_52bcdba6cb_b.jpg

A weird thing happened on the other side of the bridge in the photo above. See the figure in black at the very top right? It was a young man walking his dog, a small German Shepherd mix, on a retractable lead. As I passed them on the trail his dog rushed me and jumped up and seized my arm! Very briefly and lightly I'm happy to report, so I've got no tears in my arm or my clothing. I think the blame here is mostly on me: I didn't read the dog well or slow down as I approached. I got a free reminder of how fast and potentially dangerous dogs are: unless you're Bruce Lee, you're likely to get bitten if you get in a fight with a dog, even if it's just a misunderstanding. Best to avoid these misunderstandings!

The flu

I appear to have the flu. I had chills and a cough on Wednesday night and a fairly miserable trip home from the Mapbox all-hands event. I took Friday off to rest and began to feel better in the evening. I slept well last night and was beginning to make plans to get some exercise so I don't fall too far behind in my training, but my temperature is back up to 39 °C (102 °F) this morning. Instead I think I'll drink cold water and watch Stranger Things, maybe get out for a short run or walk if I feel better in the afternoon. Ugh.

RIP, Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88.

I mentioned Le Guin in my previous post. I did feel guilty about wanting something extra from her books, and feel more guilty today. Her writing moved me, and more as I matured and began to appreciate our mortality.

Ruth mailed me a line from the Lathe of Heaven this afternoon.

"Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new."

― Ursula K. Le Guin

The Broken Earth Trilogy

I've just finished "The Stone Sky," and with that, J.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series. Damn, what a trio of books. I haven't been this engrossed in novels in a long time. I'm behind the curve in reading and figure that almost anybody reading this post has already them. If you haven't, don't worry, no major spoilers here. There are spoilers in the blog posts that I link below, however.

I predict that I'll be coming back to this series in time, like I have with Le Guin's Earthsea books. Essun is, I think, right there with Ged as the most complete and most human wizard in all of fantasy literature. And her family, allies, and enemies are also portrayed with great care. The descriptions of the landscapes and cityscapes, both living and dead, warrant another read, for sure.

I shouldn't compare Jemisin to Le Guin, but I always (guiltily) wanted more action in Le Guin's stories, and I found myself instantly hooked by the punctuations of danger, force, and urgency in the Broken Earth series. It's a thrilling tale that lives up to all the hype.

Next up on my reading list: "The Trail Runner's Companion" and "The Architecture of Open Source Applications." I'm going to cherry pick some chapters from the latter. I'm mostly interested in lessons from Berkeley DB, HDFS, and LLVM.

Bobcat Ridge 2

Inertia struck me and my family and we didn't make the drive to Denver for the Women's March. Instead, I spent my afternoon at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area trying to squeeze in a long run before tonight's storm. I ran up the Ginny Trail and down on and back on the D.R. and Valley Loop trails, 17 kilometers in all, and 550 meters of elevation gain. The view from the top of Green Ridge is great. The only defect is that Longs peak is hidden by other, nearer mountains.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4758/24935209197_6f8acbe979_b.jpg

Palisade Mountain in the center, flanked by Sheep Mountain on the left and Crosier Mountain on the right. Longs Peak is behind Palisade Mountain.

The Ginny trail is named after Ethel Virginia Pulliam and the D.R. trail after her husband, David Rice Pulliam. The couple were the owners of the ranch that became Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4678/39095477924_a5972ff9ab_b.jpg

Mahoney Park

Mahoney Park is a small, flat, grassy basin dotted with rounded granite knobs, like a Vedauwoo or Joshua Tree in miniature. The trail builders made sure that it winds among the rock in an amusing way. Beyond Mahoney Park, the D.R. trail is nicely wooded and covered with pine needles, a very pleasurable place to run.

I sure do feel fortunate to live in a city that has the foresight and funds to buy and preserve such unique open space.

Reading glasses

I bought my first pair of glasses with non-zero optical power last week: 1.0 dioptre reading glasses. These Twist readers are cheap ($20) and fold flat, which is a pretty cool feature. I chose yellow-green frames to help protect them from getting accidentally crushed.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4620/25840583328_42e8c52c80_b.jpg

I had to remind myself what a dioptre is: it's the reciprocal of the optical length (in meters) of a lens, m-1. This unit of measurement is the work of Ferdinand Monoyer, a French ophthalmologist. A Google doodle on May 9, 2017 commemorated Dr. Monoyer's work on his birthday.

https://www.google.com/logos/doodles/2017/ferdinand-monoyers-181st-birthday-5105939098107904.4-2xa.gif

Quack, quack, quack

I ate duck often when living in France and have been missing it this winter. Farm-raised ducks are not easy to find in Colorado. I've never seen duck at King Soopers. Whole Foods has whole frozen ducks occasionally. Some local CSAs advertise duck eggs, but not meat. In Montpellier, fresh never-frozen duck was not cheap, but it was almost always available.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4748/38760801605_67e1819239_b.jpg

The green sausage is chicken, duck, and spinach. To the right: cuisses de canard (duck legs) and magret de canard (duck breast).

I never bought a whole duck, but bought a pair of duck legs or duck breasts, or some links of chicken, duck, and spinach sausage from a vendor at the Arceaux market almost every other Tuesday. She sold chicken, too, both raw and roasted in the rotisserie at the back of her stand. Her only non-poultry product was polenta, which is delicious fried in duck fat.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4676/39658228801_a6da2920df_b.jpg

Magret de canard and foie gras

Duck breast is my favorite red meat and Florence Fabricant describes my favorite way to cook it in this recipe. Seared and then roasted gently in the oven until medium rare, if I had to choose a last meal, this would be it. The sweet and sour five-spice marinade and glaze is nice, but salt and pepper is really all a flavorful duck needs.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4759/38959886554_44655a97f7_b.jpg

Magret de canard with homemade kimchi

Because I mostly worked from the house we rented in Montpellier, I could execute slow cooking recipes while pushing pixels on my computer. Duck legs confit, simmered for hours in their own fat and juices, are easy to do in parallel with other tasks and are extremely delicious.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4628/25796742878_1bd89599ba_b.jpg

Cuisses de canard that have spent a couple days wrapped up with spices

Confit is the past participle of the French verb confire, "to preserve." Before refrigeration, this was one of our options for preserving meat. Pork or duck, covered in steralized fat which keeps oxygen and microbes at bay, can keep stable and healthy for weeks. I never managed to keep any for longer than a day or two.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4745/25796746078_d2859c6568_b.jpg

Lentilles vertes du Puy are my favorite side for cuisse de canard

I enjoy foie gras and have a picture of it above, but I don't know enough to write about it. Ruth and I developed a preference for foie gras mi-cuit (half-cooked), which is a gently cooked piece of a single whole liver, not reformed or "en bloc." I don't definitely know which are the best producers, but had a good experience buying vacuum packed mi-cuit foie gras from a couple of vendors at the Arceaux market.

I'm going to keep searching for local producers of duck and with a little luck might be able to return to these recipes in the fall.

Running at Bobcat Ridge

I ran at the city's Bobcat Ridge Natural Area for the first time this week and loved it. It's a little too far from my home office for a lunchtime run, and because my dog is not allowed at all I always pick other destinations for a weekend outing with my family. I found myself in the neighborhood and jumped at the chance to check it out.

The City of Fort Collins bought 2600 acres (1050 hectares) of land west of Masonville in 2003 and opened it to the public in 2006. It's at the very edge of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, where long linear hogbacks of the oldest local sandstone (from the Permian period) frame the uplifted granite bedrock.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4753/24780706727_eef94488a0_b.jpg

Parking at the Buffum Canyon entrance

The trail that loops around the small valley the settlers called West Glade is 4.5 miles (7.5 kilometers) long. The best stretches roll through Ponderosa pines and over the granite toes of the Rockies on the west side of the valley.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4708/25777850578_eebee672a3_b.jpg

Looking east across West Glade to Milner Mountain from the foot of Green Ridge

I'm definitely going to get back to Bobcat Ridge this season if the dry and mild weather continues. There are many more trails, and a hanging valley, to explore higher up on Green Ridge. I was only there for 45 minutes, but could easily spend half a day or more on the park's singletrack trails.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4741/39657812001_0fea6f9f0d_b.jpg

Valley Loop trail, looking south