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15 Feb 2011

Fiddle!

Posted by Chris. 1 Comment

Yeah….somehow, I decided that I wanted to learn to play fiddle. Back in October, I think, I bought a fiddle off of Craigslist, and soon I was taking lessons. Eventually, I got to the point that Summer didn’t tell me to go away and close the door (well, not ALL the time….). Then….I bought a mandolin. Then, my friend Peter lent me his Taylor guitar…… This is a spiral of music, you see!

Anyway, this whole post is really just an opportunity for me to link to my first transcription of a tune I like to play: Wagon Wheel, as played by Old Crow Medicine Show. It’s a great song!

Oh, and I want to post pics of my fiddle and mando, too!

photo

4 Jun 2010

Copper Canyon, Mexico, 1998

Posted by Chris. 5 Comments

Can you think back to a time in your life when just about everything changed? For me, it is easy: it was my spring break trip to Mexico in 1998. Together with Dave, Joel, and Anna, we made our way across Texas, into Mexico, eventually descending to the Rio Uribe in the bottom of Copper Canyon and returned intact to Austin in the space of a week. We did it all with forged paperwork, a tent entirely too small for four people, and an astonishing amount of pure luck. It was my first real pseudo-planned adventure, coming just a few months after the death of my mom.

Joel, now a professor at CalTech, was in town recently, and dropped off the pictures from this fabled trip in exchange for kayaking lessons. A great deal! There are hundreds in total, but here are my top 20 or so.

11 Nov 2009

A Low Water Day on the Cheat

Posted by Chris. No Comments

Summer bought be a new camera for my birthday! After a LOT of research online and in stores, we got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35. Good optics, 18x zoom, and near-DLSR controls. It also shoots HD video, so I was itching to get a chance to try it out! I took it with me on the Cheat River this past weekend in a high end drybag, and shot some video at a playspot and one of the rapids on the river. After a few minutes in iMovie, here is the result:

http://www.vimeo.com/7547965

14 Oct 2009

A few months of paddling to catch up on!

Posted by Chris. 1 Comment

It’s been a great boating season! Here are some of my favorite pictures from summer, and the first few months of fall. Highlights of this season include:

-A Summer run of the Lower Big Sandy River
-First runs of the Upper Yough
-Shenandoah Staircase with Summer
-First run of Difficult Run
-Running Ohiopyle Falls
-First run of the Upper Gauley
-Doing the Lower Gauley with Summer on an inflatable Shredder

14 Oct 2009

Thoughts on paddling harder whitewater

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Pillow Rock Rapid
Pillow Rock Rapid, Gauley River, West Virginia

I remember a few years ago, I told Matt Weldon, one of the guys who taught me to paddle, that I was planning on “topping out” in the world of whitewater with the Upper Yough and Upper Gauley. These are very solid Class IV runs with a few easier V’s thrown in for good measure. That seemed like high and lofty goals at the time, perhaps even a stretch. Matt chuckled, and told me “just you wait–you’ll start paddling the Yough, and soon you’ll be eyeing the Blackwater…”

Well, here I am, and I’ve just finished the most amazing three months of boating in my life. In this time, I’ve gotten on the Upper Yough half a dozen times, and just retuned from my fourth run of the Upper Gauley, including a marathon run of 26 miles from the dam to the Swiss takeout. It’s been amazing; they are wonderful rivers, each amazing for different reasons: the Yough, with it’s technical lines and blind drops, and the Gauley with it’s might and power. I’m very comfortable on these rivers now, and have even had the opportunity to show others the lines on both rivers. Paddling these two jewels of the mid-Atlantic has been pure joy, but it’s also caused me to consider what lies beyond.

Whitewater is a sport that is fraught with risk and the management of risk. I’ve had my own close calls: once, at the beginning of my paddling career, when Matt pulled me off of a log on the Wonalancet, and once on a log on the Cheat River (by doing exactly what Greg told me NOT to do!). These experiences reminded me that I’m all too mortal. Much of the risk in whitewater comes not from the “difficulty” of the water itself (well, up to a point…), but from the unknowns inherent on a river. Is there a tree in the water that I don’t see? Is there a rock sieve that I’m not aware of? Is there a situation I may encounter that I don’t have the experience or skill to deal with safely? These risks exist in all classes of whitewater.

I obviously really, really enjoy paddling whitewater. I enjoy the pure physical challenge, but more than anything, I savor the experience. I love paddling with amazing, interesting people. I love being outside, getting astounding views of beautiful gorges that many people don’t have the opportunity to see. I love the rolling sensation of a wave train and the rush of a good surf. I love the way whitewater forces me to forget the daily pressures of life to focus on something clear and simple: get my friends and myself from point A to point B, while having as much fun as possible.

So given the inherent risks of paddling and my satisfaction with the status quo, why paddle harder water? Why should I go beyond the Upper Gauley and Upper Yough?

For me, there is no pressing, driving need. There’s no reason to make it a goal. I’m no hot shot young gun; I have nothing to prove. I’m perfectly content with the rivers I paddle currently. That said, however, if I feel a river is well within my skill level AND I am confident that I can be safe on it (knowledge of strainers, sieves, and I have a very strong crew that I have confidence in), I feel there is no reason to arbitrarily exclude it. This means that there may be some rivers I’ll never feel comfortable paddling, and others I might. In the future, my paddling decisions will not be goal directed, seeking out harder and harder rivers; they will be fun directed. That means paddling with fun people on “easy” rivers, paddling old favorites, and perhaps, on occasion, taking on a “hard” river. Having fun is what it’s all about, and I plan on keeping at it for many years to come!

18 Jun 2009

Awesome summer day on the Lower Big Sandy

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It’s not too often you get to go creeking in the summer, but this summer has been off to a very rainy start. While this is a bit of a bummer for many people, it’s been great for our garden and great for paddling :)

Diego, Fern and I ran the Lower Big Sandy at a low to minimum level–5.25. Yes, it was pretty low, but paddlable, as long as you aren’t trying to keep your boat new and shiny. One of the more memorable events of this trip was that we had local kids offer us beer in the middle of Second Island rapid. Hey, who was I to complain? We even had girls in bikinis :)

8 Jun 2009

Commencement

Posted by Chris. 2 Comments

hooding_family

This past week, my dad and grandparents drove up from Texas for my graduation. This was their first visit to my house in Virginia, and I must admit that I felt a certain satisfaction showing them my own house and household for the very first time. For me, it was a minor milestone in life. Before heading to Boston, we traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the graves of my grandfather’s brother and sister-in-law. It was a very moving experience, and made Arlington more personally meaningful to me. Arlington manages to capture both a sense of awe and peace in a way few places can.

We stayed at the Seagull Inn Bed and Breakfast in Marblehead. It was a wonderful place on Marblehead Neck with great owners. Thursday morning, we took the T into Cambridge for my “hooding” ceremony, where the PhD recipients were presented with their hoods. In the words of Chancellor Clay, “in the tip of your hood, you will find a pocket, where you may keep a small book, a sandwich, ….or perhaps your iPod.”

Receiving my hood after almost seven years of work was an amazingly satisfying experience. I was both amazed and humbled to look across the room to see 600 other PhD students, who all struggled to complete their dissertations and make new and original contributions to their fields. Such an amazing amount of work and knowledge was recognized on that day: “the work required for a Ph.D. from MIT is, as we say….non-trivial.” I felt honored to be among so many bright minds, yet also motivated to continue the work that I have begun. Funny as it sounds, I reflect on an award I was given while a Boy Scout, the Vigil Honor: “this award is given not for what you have done, but for what you will do.” While a Ph.D. is explicitly given for what I have done, the time I’ve spent working at MIT has prepared me for so much more. I felt as the hood was placed on my shoulders that an edict to go forth and change the world was given to me. While this charge seems to be a staple at graduations of all sorts across the country, for the first time, I felt that I finally have the tools, resources, and knowledge to truly effect real change in the world in which I operate. This is it; there are no more excuses. I’m no longer waiting on the world to change.

Philosophizing aside, I was so thankful to be able to share the experience with my family and friends. My personal road through this wasn’t the smoothest, and without their constant love, help, and support (with special recognition to Summer, of course), this wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you is never enough!

25 May 2009

Dr. Christopher G. Glazner

Posted by Chris. 2 Comments

Yep, it’s official. After almost 7 years spent at MIT, I am now Dr. Christopher G. Glazner. On May 8th, I successfully defended my dissertation before an audience of about 30, including my committee, a few other department professors, a dean, and a whole slew of other ESD doctoral students. I was a bit rattled as things began–I had forgotten to run copies of my slides to hand out, and was frantically trying to get the file to our department administrator, who was saving the day as always (Thanks Beth!) Once I started presenting, it was all down hill. I’ve talked about my research so much the past year that it all came naturally. After a few questions, my committee sent everyone out, conferred for a few short minutes, and welcomed me as Dr. Glazner. My dissertation was accepted with only typographical edits. I was done!

Afterwards, I gathered for lunch with my friends and caught up with folks, including several of our old students on Conner 2. Unfortunately, Summer and I couldn’t stay long because we had fancy dinner plans back in DC, courtesy of her firm. Very, very nice. I’ll catch up more with folks at graduation.

With this final hurdle out of the way, my life as a grad student has come to an end, and my life as a professional begins in earnest. My years at MIT have been amazing; I’ll miss it, but I’m anxiously anticipating moving forward.

5 May 2009

One Heck of a Weekend

Posted by Chris. No Comments

Well, I got my money’s worth this weekend :)

For the last two months, I’ve been training for my first ever whitewater race, which took place on the Cheat River this past Friday, May 1. I ended up arriving in Albright, WV 20 mins before the start of the race after speeding down backroads to avoid an overturned semi on I-70.  Just after the mass start of the race in Decision Rapid I was run over as two boats in front of me went up a wave face, got  turned sideways and clotheslined me as I went under them. Upside down, I heard the “wa-thunk” of another boat running over me.  I rolled up and kept going…   I had a nice line at Big Nasty that skipped me ahead of some folks.  High Falls was FUN. Coliseum was a disaster area when I got there–three or four swimmers that I saw and ropes out everywhere.  I helped retrieve a couple paddles before turning on the speed downstream.

 Finishing was a pretty awesome feeling.  This is the first race of any kind I’ve
trained for, and it felt so sweet to cross that finish line after giving it a good shot and working at it so long.   I was fairly surprised that night to find out that I finished second in the short boat “D” class. Summer traveled up in the evening from DC, and arrived in time for the awards ceremony. Yay!

Saturday was an adventure of a completely different sort.   We had a solid six person group heading down the Middle Fork  into the Tygart. Right before the confluence with the Tygart River, Morgan dislocated his shoulder in Wall.  He was actually almost out of the rapid, just eddying out!

Well, fortunately (?),  Fern, Diego and I went through this two weeks ago on the Lower Big Sandy, so everything was fresh in our minds. After Peter, MD, got his shoulder back in on a rock in the middle of
the rapid (MUCH tougher to do than the previous one I saw Nathan do), Risa ferried Morgan to shore.  We got to use our full range of swiftwater rescue training: swiftwater wading, swimming, towing a swimmer, towing boats… it was a full team effort.  The last big challenge was getting Morgan across the mighty Tygart to the other side, which had railroad tracks above the river.  Risa and Peter rafted together with Morgan, and I towed/ferried them to the other side while Fern and Diego were running safety right behind. That got the blood pumping, as we had to make it to the other shore before dropping into the first rapid on the Tygart, which was right there!

Safely ashore, Fern, Morgan and I began the LONG slog out, dragging our boats on the railroad tracks. Risa had the great idea to turn them sideways along the rail, which I loved. Still heavy, though. Morgan was a serious trooper.  We got out around 7:30 pm, just as a train barreled down the tracks.  The ONLY thing we could find to eat between there and the festival was a pizza shop in Grafton that was
closing.  Diego worked his Latin charms on the girl at the counter, convincing her to open it back up for us.  We feasted on pizza and Milwaukee’s Best, the highest brow beer served in this establishment.  With the lights off.

http://www.vimeo.com/4473823

3 Apr 2009

Surfing my long boat on the Potomac

Posted by Chris. 1 Comment

This week, the water level on the Potomac rose to a level that formed some nice, fast, glassy waves near Rocky Island, just below Great Falls. I took my long boat out there with my friends Mark and David to surf it up and have fun. What a blast! Mark took a good deal of video and pictures, and I stitched them together to form a fun little video. Enjoy!

http://www.vimeo.com/3982993