Tuesday, September 20, 2011

today's grammatical gem--it sounds GRATE!

A student of mine, earlier today, wrote this:
     "passed tents"

Ahh....grammar and the tricky terrain of homophones...
Verbs, kiddo, we're learning VERBS, as in
        present TENSE, past TENSE, future TENSE!!!

I can't make up this stuff.

I"m feeling a bit tense. Maybe I should go camping?
Oh no, vacation time has passed...

To work.
And boy is there a lot of work to do in the language classroom...

Here's a poem using homonyms/homophones.
Fun for word-nerds, from

An Ode to the Spelling Chequer

Prays the Lord for the spelling chequer
That came with our pea sea!
Mecca mistake and it puts you rite
Its so easy to ewes, you sea.

I never used to no, was it e before eye?
(Four sometimes its eye before e.)
But now I've discovered the quay to success
It's as simple as won, too, free!

Sew watt if you lose a letter or two,
The whirled won't come two an end!
Can't you sea? It's as plane as the knows on yore face
S. Chequer's my very best friend

I've always had trubble with letters that double
"Is it one or to S's?" I'd wine
But now, as I've tolled you this chequer is grate
And its hi thyme you got won, like mine.

                                       Janet E. Byford

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday after work in one of "the 19 best"

Tucson was just listed in October's OUTSIDE magazine as one of 'the 19 best towns' in the country...

After you've lived anywhere for a while, the 'honeymoon' wears off and quotidian reality sets in, producing the occasional love/hate-fest of 'home'-town-feelings...The past couple of years in Tucson have had their ups and downs for us...

But yesterday evening, after work, I went for a bike ride in Sabino Canyon--featured in the OUTSIDE article, and rightly so. (I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's one of the most beautiful places in the Southwest.) The recent monsoon rains have filled the creek and pools in this oasis in the Santa Catalina Mountains--a good reminder of one of the 'pluses' that can outweigh the 'minuses' of living here...

So, with scenery like this a ten-minute drive from home (well, plus the hike/bike-ride into the canyon), yes...there are worse places to live...

If you're curious what the 'rest of the best' are, check out these links:

Reader's Choice for Best Town Ever (?): Chattanooga, Tennessee
Portland, Oregon
Issaquah, Washington
Boulder, Colorado
Missoula, Montana
Charleston, South Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Durango, Colorado
Madison, Wisconsin
Traverse City, Michigan
Tucson, Arizona
Flagstaff, Arizona
Ashland, Oregon
Chico, California
Portland, Maine
Hardwick, Vermont
Burlington, Vermont
Ithaca, New York 

Some more fact-checking could've been done, though...

The blurb about Issaquah states that it's 'only a 20-minute from downtown Seattle and oyster-flats'...
Huh!? MAYBE on a post-apocalyptic traffic-free Sunday morning, you can make it from Issaquah to downtown, and 'oyster flats' of Puget sound are definitely further afield...The article about Portland, ME says that you can ski and then surf on the same day--hmm, so after a several hour drive down from the snowy mountains on the ME/NH border, one is going to don a wetsuit for the frigid North Atlantic in January? Really?! 

Caveat lector.

But the list is a fun way to gauge cities' 'liveableness'--if your definition is skewed toward outdoors-recreation and scenic splendor...At least it gives you an idea where to go for a vacation; for relocation, though, don't rely on a magazine article...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Another Labor Day, another T-shirt...earned! Running among the saguaros...

During these past three weeks of back-to-school madness, I've been looking forward to this three-day weekend: Labor Day! So, this morning, I slept in...until 4:30 a.m. Time to get up and join a thousand other early risers to RUN the Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-miler! This was my second year doing it; as long as I live in Tucson, I hope to make this an annual tradition.

Last Thursday's Tucson newspaper, (click here for more info; above photo of last year's starting crowd from the article), had a lengthy article about the race, which has taken place here for 42 years. I didn't notice it, but my wife pointed out to me that I'm in the photo! Towards the right, I'm in the blue/white shirt, wearing a red cap.

A friend of mine drove over so we could carpool to the National Park; my wife volunteered to come along and be our logistics coordinator--all of this well before sunrise. And it was a muggy dawn--temperature already in the 80's in the desert! Fortunately, we had a cloudy morning--the thermometer never did rise above about 83 degrees while we ran.

That made climbing the numerous hills less of a chore; check out this topographical map (printed on the front of the race t-shirt from a few years ago) of the route:
About halfway through the loop, you have to climb the equivalent of a 40-story building.

It is a scenic route through the cactus-studded foothills of the Rincon Mountains. Come on and check it out!

This year's t-shirt:
Incidentally, the friend of mine who carpooled with us--he won his age division easily...AND he won the 'Masters,' meaning he was the fastest runner over 40; the only guys faster than him were a decade or two younger!.

As for me, I did make my goal, which was a minute slower (alas) than last year, since I missed about six weeks of consistent training runs this summer, with traveling to and from Asia, jet-lag, etc...I still consider myself a 'newbie'...and in about an hour, I am going to meet up with some friends at an Italian restaurant to celebrate, as I did last year, with a big plate of spaghetti alla carbonara. (Hey, runners deserve their carbs, right?) For health's sake, this too should be a once-a-year tradition only--the last time I tasted that piatto de colesterolo was Labor Day of last year...

Below, a few photos of the scenery in Saguaro National Park...
The Park is divided--one section is west of the city, and the other (about a 15-minute drive from where we live, where the race takes place) is just east of Tucson...With all of its flaws, it is cool to live in a city sandwiched between National Park lands...

I am especially fond of this park because it helped make me a runner. L'app├ętit vient en mangeant--the saying is smooth in French, awkward in translation: 'the appetite arrives while eating,' or, 'you get hungrier as you eat,'--sometimes you don't know you want/need/enjoy something until you are already in the process of trying it...

As an all-too sedentary adolescent, busy with music and books and GPA, running was totally off my radar...Running this cactus-lined loop last year, I realized that I enjoyed the mind-clearing motion of running longer distances outdoors. After I finished the 8-miler last year, I then set my eyes (or my legs, I guess I should say) on '13.1'...and a few months later, I finished my first half-marathon! So now, as the weather finally begins to cool down, time to train for another one...