Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."



So much for the theory of "escaping winter" by moving to the South.... Of course, mom-in-law from Minneapolis called yesterday to tell us it was too cold for her to even take her daily walk (wind chill in the Twin Cities was around -20 deg. F., compared to our mere "single digits"). I can't wait to see how the fans at Lambeau fare with the projected 30-below-zero wind chill for the NFC Championship this afternoon!

Zoo Run

Man-cub took 3rd place overall in the second wave of yesterday's "Cariten Kids Run" at the Knoxville Zoo, completing his mile run in 9:21 (more than a minute better than his 2007 time). He ran a very good race, especially considering that (a) it was in the mid-30s, (b) it's a very hilly and narrow course, and (c) there is a mandatory "walk zone" by the zebra habitat.

Covenant Health, sponsors of the springtime Knoxville Marathon, have developed a great program to encourage kids to "run a marathon": starting with yesterday's one-mile run at the Zoo, kids receive log books to record their physical activities (running, biking, jumping rope, etc.) for the next eight weeks. 30 minutes of "free play" counts as a mile, and their goal is to reach "25 miles" before the morning of the marathon on March 30th.

On marathon morning, the kids will have a special 1.2 mile course (from the official start by the Sunsphere to the finish line on the 50-yard-line inside Univ. of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium) to complete their two-month "marathon". Those that complete enough activities for the full marathon distance in that time will receive a special certificate. (Last year Jarrett proved to be an "ultramarathoner", completing more than 60 miles worth of activities between the Zoo Run and the marathon....).



[Moblog] Shreddin'

While CINCHOUSE and eldest trekked to Chattanooga to be fitted for pointe shoes, man-cub and I hit the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg for a day of snowboarding. Though nearly a year out of practice from his first sessions, Jarrett fared quite well in the intermediate class. Coach Dan at the Ski School gave him some good tips on how to balance his turns (and helped me stop thinking like a skier who relies too much on my hips instead of my knees and ankles).


Crossing the Rubicon

To "Cross the Rubicon" is to pass a point of no return -- to commit yourself to something. In late 50 B.C., the Roman senate ordered Julius Caesar (then Governor of Gaul, a military hero whom the Senate feared) to disband his army and return to Rome. Since his term as Proconsul had ended, and the Senate forbade Caesar from running for a second term in absentia, Caesar knew he would be politically marginalized -- and possibly imprisoned -- if he returned to Rome without the immunity of a Consul.

So, on the 10th of January in 49 B.C. (converted to the Gregorian calendar), Caesar crossed the southern border of Cisalpine Gaul and entered Italy with one legion, Legio XIII Gemina. Since armies were forbidden by Roman law to enter Italy proper (primarily to defend against internal military threats), Caesar's actions marked the beginning of the Roman civil war. He is reported to have said "Alea iacta est" ("The die is cast"), hence our modern association of "Crossing the Rubicon" with passing a point of no return.

What's ironic is you can learn far more about "Fiume Rubicone" (literally "River Rubicon") from Webster's Dictionary and Wikipedia than you can from Rand-McNally. On a March 1994 trip to Europe with my then-girlfriend, I harbored a plot to "pop the question" on the bank of the Rubicon -- after crossing it in our rental car while driving from Venice to Assisi. (If there had been 'blogs in 1994, the dawn of the old NCSA Mosaic web browser, I would have probably done like Dan at tdaxp.... :-)

Only by consulting some large maps at the Navy lab where I worked was I able to find the river. And when we saw it in person, I had a brief pang of regret that I didn't ask Renee to marry me while we were on a gondola floating on the Canale Grande in Venice the night before. But since I had a plan, I stuck to it -- the arrow below shows the spot, and the "scenic grandeur" of what was simply an archaic border between Roman provinces (or a ditch by modern standards):

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With LSU's 38-24 victory over Ohio State in the Bowl Championship Series "National Championship Game", we have a fitting end to a crazy football season. For the first time ever, a team with two losses is the undisputed "National Champion" (though some fans in Kansas may believe their Jayhawks deserved a chance to play for the crystal football).

LSU's victory in front of an ostensibly "hometown" crowd in the Superdome of New Orleans, Louisiana, also gave fans of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) bragging rights with the most Bowl Game wins this year. The final Bowl Game standings (in order of wins):
  • Southeastern Conference (7 wins, 2 losses)
  • Big-12 Conference (5-3)
  • Mountain West (4-1)
  • PAC-10 Conference (4-2)
  • Big East Conference (3-2)
  • Big-10 Conference (3-5)
  • Conference USA (2-4)
  • Atlantic Coast Conference (2-6)
  • SunBelt Conference (1-0)
  • Western Athletic Conference (1-3)
  • Independents/Div I-A (0-1)
  • Mid-American Conference (0-3)
Just what we need -- another excuse for SEC fans to declare their "greatness"... :-)

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