Team Fencing Competition in Los Alamos

Yesterday, headed up to Los Alamos to participate in a fencing competion — my first in something like 20 years (except for that one afternoon in Fairfax sometime in the mid-'90s). The "unsanctioned" competiton (meaning not an official USFA event), hosted by the Los Alamos Fencing Club, was a team event, so I was fencing alongside two teammates from NMFF. Not only are they both usually épée fencers, but they'd spent the morning competing in the team épée competion.

There were a total of seven teams. The format for each team bout: three fencers on each team, rotating through so that eventually everyone fences everyone else on the opposing team. Each individual bout goes to a multiple of 5 touches (first to 5 for the first, first to 10 for the second, etc.) or until three minutes are up. First team to 45, or leading when the time for the last bout is up, wins.

Our first bout was rough, starting with me. My position in the team meant that I fenced the first and last bouts. So I led off, after a long, long time away from doing this sort of thing. We all fenced well, but ultimately lost that to that team by 3 points (or 2; there was some question about the scorekeeping).

It was undeniably a rush to get back into competing, but it was a frustrating reintroduction. I think that if we were up against them later in the day, warmed up and more in the groove, we would've done better.

We went on to face two more teams, both of whom we beat. The adverse affects of fatigue started to set in, but were offset by the rhythm of competing and, at least some of that training all coming back.

At the end of the day, by the way standings are compiled, we placed fifth. But I'm pretty darned sure we could've taken that team in fourth.

Last bout of the day:

On the drive back down from the mesa, the sun was catching the snow on the Taos peaks:


Message on the Answering Machine

"Hi, I'm trying to reach . . . what am I trying to reach . . . Galisteo . . . oh, phooey." Click.


Milwaukee Art Museum Photos

My co-worker has passed along her photos of our trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The exterior of the addition:

The view up to the "wings" from the main hall:

The hallway to the original building, which houses the permanent collection:

At the end of the day, the "wings" close. We watched, in the cold, from the end of the walkway:


Museum of Fine Arts

Spent the afternoon over at the Museum of Fine Arts, checking out the Lichtenstein exhibit before it closed. Small, but interesting; divided into two sections. The first, from the '50s, was Picasso-inspired reworkings of classic paintings, photos, and sculpture about American Indians; the second half, Surreal, abstract works more in the style you think of for his work, utilizing American Indian motifs. I preferred the first.

It ends at Native Pop, an exhibit of artists using traditional native imagery to make contemporary statements. There were some wonderful, clever pieces in there.

We walked the rest of the museum, including up into the permanent collection to the Baumann room. It was there we were able to identify the dance we attended on Christmas as a "Deer Dance," based on one of his paintings that really looked just like what we saw.


gummy bare

When I was maybe 5 or so, my Dad had his wisdom teeth out. They were so impacted, it required general anesthesia and an overnight hospital stay. I was somewhere in my teens when Mom had hers out — the oral surgeon severed a nerve and her tongue is still numb on one side.

Over the years, my dentists have told me both that wisdom teeth should come out, and that they don't have to. Based on my immediate family experience, I decided that they could stay riiiight where they were, thankyouverymuch. The top 2 had sprouted (I don't think that the correct dental terminology, but you know what I mean) — one in the mid '90s, one around 2000 — and the bottom two were still asleep in their gummy beds.

Since the top two wisdom teeth were "unopposed" (and that is the correct dental terminology), I was warned they might move around. I dunno about that... how can you tell? They were still there every morning when I woke up. I was also told that they'd be harder to keep clean, and that I can definitely say I experienced first-hand. Despite what most of you think, apparently I have a small mouth. It's a pain getting back there. And, as fate and insufficient brushing and flossing would have it, my new Santa Fe dentist discovered a cavity in one of them last fall.

So. Get a filling or have it yanked?

Well, as you've probably guessed by now, I decided on the latter. This afternoon I said goodbye to my top, driver's side wisdom tooth, or, as they called it at Dr. Roybal's office, "16." So long, tooth. Enjoy your new life in the little plastic box where Bram keeps his wisdom teeth.


happy birthday, Tess McGee!

14 March 196x




We awoke to snow this morning. How much? Let's check the Throckmorton Gauge:

A couple inches, there's still some coming down (or maybe just blowing around) that ended while this was posting.

Apparently, there was some snow up in the mountains this past week. And now it seems like they're getting some more.

Certainly not the answer to all our problems, but should add to the .04" of precipitation we've got so far this year.

Arrived back home without incident last night, beating the storm (which I just figured was weatherman panic and/or wishful thinking anyway). With a little time between check-out at the hotel and check-in at the airport, I headed to Brennan's to bring home a brick of cheese, and then to the Pabst Mansion for a glimpse at Victorian-era life. Handcrafted woodwork everywhere throughout the house, just amazing to look at. In many ways, the building was innovative (heating, cooling, electricity); but with its soaring ceilings in the huge spaces that still managed to be dark, also very much of its time.


Touring Milwaukee

Printing concluded in the early hours Thursday, but there were no flights I could get on that would get me home earlier than my scheduled departure on Saturday. So today was a day to sleep late to try and catch up, then head out into Milwaukee.

I started with the factory tour at Harley-Davidson.

Arrived at the plant a bit before 11:30, got in on the next tour, my only tourmates a couple. It begins with a video detailing the (pretty remarkable) history of the company. The soundtrack in the shop and waiting area is all classic rock; by contrast, for the video, we suddenly get fat electronica beats, including, I'm pretty sure, Oakenfold's remix of U2.

This factory manufactures the powertrain for the Sportster and Buell (rhymes with fuel) lines, the smallest of Harley-Davidson's models. Other operations, mostly in Wisconsin, make the powertrains for the other models and assemble them. It also handles the engine rebuilds and a variety of replacement parts, the oldest of which is a 1916 kick-starter. It's an enormous operation, dedicated mainly to machining parts out of cast metal and assembling them. Problem is, with a kind of late start to the tour, we were in there a bit after noon. And the entire factory had stopped for lunch. The video had showed assembly line operations, but I was looking forward to seeing the whole thing in person.

The squished penny machine at the end almost made up for that. Note to self: return for the tour, next time earlier in the day.

Continuing on, headed to Miller for their brewery tour.

Back in DC, I'd been on the Old Dominion Brewing tour plenty of times, and it seemed that I should experience how the other half brews. Plus, with a 150+-year presence in Milwaukee, Miller is an integral part of the city. And, seemed appropriate, having caught the exhibit featuring their advertising last time.

Their operation was slicker. Beginning with the (I guess, obligatory) video, the propaganda was much more prevalent, and carried on throughout the tour. Our views were generally behind the glass (or barriers), unlike Harley-Davidson, where we were walking the floor. The truly amazing thing about Miller was how big it was — not just the vats for all beer in its various forms and the sheer volume of beer they produce, but the whole (as they refer to it) campus. I think they said something like 46 buildings. The effect is like a small main street of all brewing operations. At one of the most interesting points, you wind up in the caves, dug out by hand, 62' feet underground, which used to be packed with ice from neighboring rivers to keep the beer cold. One of Miller's grandsons thought it would be a good idea to them into a restaurant; it lasted two weeks. Now it's the next-to-last stop.

Photography (and cell phones, and pocket knives) prohibited at Harley-Davidson, so no loss there. But pictures encourged at Miller. Sorry.

The sun was out later in the day, making for a beautiful early spring day. The coldest point at this trip was still easily 10ยบ+ warmer than the warmest point last trip. And then there was the rain that the Santa Feans were watching with envy. After all, our drought has made the big time.


A Little Time for Some Culture

With a little time between press checks, and sleep deprivation not having set in yet, one of my co-workers and I headed downtown to the Milwaukee Art Museum. I'd passed by on my last trip out here, so was able to kind of retrace my steps when we go lost (actual navigation technique: that big gray area over there is the lake; let's aim for that and turn before we hit it).

Of course, the big draw is the Santiago Calatrava Quadracci Pavilion, a big, beatiful soaring white annex to the main building. Inside, it's an amazing open space, with kind of a "bow" surrounding by windows pointing to the lake, where the gray sky that had accompanied our arrival was starting to break. A huge oval atrium kind of thing allows you to look straight up at the Burke Brise Soleil (the "wings"). There's a long hallway, all swooping arches and windows and gleaming white that leads to the original part of the museum and just put me in the mind of a '60s sci-fi epic. It was an impressive entry to the main building.

We passed on paying the additional entry fee (I'm still adjusting to paying to get into museums, coming from DC) to the Bruce Nauman and headed to the first floor permanent collection. It's a series of around 24 rooms, maybe 10-15 pieces in each room, arranged chronologically from Medieval art to contemporary. We started at the end, in the Minimalism room, and worked our way through from there. An impressive collection, and though we were messing with the flow of time by working backwards (and stumbling into the wrong gallery occasionally), it's a plan that works well. My favorite discovery was a painting by Everett Shinn, one of those painters whose work up close just looks like slashes and blotches of paint, but from away presents an dynamic, evocative image.

We were there at closing time, so headed across the pedestrian bridge from the Pavilion to watch the Brise Soleil fold its wings down to cover the building for the night.

Still regretting not having brought the camera, but my co-worker took some photos. I might be able to get some to show here later.


They Got Snow In Milwaukee

Arrived in Milwaukee tonight (without too much incident) to a couple inches of snow on the ground. A little slushy, and the snow itself had kind of tapered off to a freezing mist, but it's still kind of a treat. Because I get to leave it behind. (Actually, supposed to be 50s by the time I'm heading out.)

Shoulda brought the camera. Almost did.


Friday Night Funk

Caleb just tipped us off to the Friday Night Funk show over at KBAC, so we tuned into it last night for the first time. As they play it, "funk" is a little loosely defined, but still it's a good way to wrap up the week. KABC seems to be an odd station (with a pretty useless Web site) — owned by Clear Channel, but still retains at least some amount of local control.

Off to Milwaukee again tomorrow for the big press check.


the first prairie dog of spring

On Monday it was 70 degrees. More water woes here in the desert, as this winter is shaping up to be driest in 25 years. On the other hand, it was around this time last year, while Bram was scouting apartments, that they had that big snowstorm...