Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Of Science and Skiing

I most recently returned from a scientific conference in Taos, NM. It is of the Keystone series of symposia. If you haven’t heard of it already, you should really check it out. They have conferences on all kinds of science, from migration in invasion and inflammation to the future of biofuels or the genetics of sleep. This is the second keystone conference I have attended in my stint as a scholar of science. The greatest thing about these conferences is that they are deliberately held at ski resorts. The intention being, you listen to the science in the morning, hit the slopes during the 6 h afternoon break, and then return for another evening of more science. The day is ended with an open bar and a full buffet-style dinner. Who could ask for anything more? Exceptional science, coupled with exceptional skiing.

My trip did not fail to disappoint. Luckily, I was accompanied by some great people who are a blast to hang out with and like to do “stuff”. Admittedly, we skipped out on the keynote address the first night to try watching the Carolina game at a local bar, Shadows. You would think with a name like that and a neon sign blinking beer that it would be a dodgy place. Actually, it was quite the contrary. There was live music and there were many families with children amongst the rest of us heathens. The manager Pedro was even so kind as to change the T.V. station, to allow us to watch our beloved Tar Heels.

We were able to spend two days on the slopes. I have to tell you Taos, NM when they have snow, especially fresh powder, is *the* place to ski. Long runs, friendly staff, and no people! It was relatively inexpensive as well (granted us Keystoners got a discount). Drive in, ski the better of the day, and drive out; it was as simple as that. Coming from the Midwest, this was a new experience for me. Usually, what we consider “ski resorts” (i.e. converted trash heaps, no joke) are constantly packed with people. The hills are always icy and short (we don’t have real mountains or powder for that matter), and you spend most of your time dodging the ski school if you were ever able to find a parking spot to even enter the place. Perhaps I am becoming somewhat of a ski-snob, but I don’t care. Especially as a beginner skier, a situation like that is counterproductive.

The rest of the conference was spent admiring the local color of the town, and experiencing the enchantment that is NM. It lived up to all my stereotypes, complete with red muddy earth, miles of nothing, and true cowboys that looked weathered by the earth and too much alcohol.

We also hit the local spa one day for a nice long massage after our first day of skiing (which was sorely needed, no pun intended). If you have the opportunity, try the RIVER STONES massage. OMG, heaven on earth. Then sit in the outside hot tub. Conference? I felt like I was on vacation. In the spirit of my first Keystone with Lil Kate, I just had to go snowshoeing again. My experience in NM was a little different then the Utah adventure. In Utah, we had a cute scruffy guide who carried our supplies and led us up to some beautiful panoramic mountain views. In contrast, the NM outing was more like being dropped off in the middle of nowhere and told that you have 2 h to be back at the spot you started or you would be left behind. Regardless of the odd circumstances we had a blast.

The remainder of trip, when not attending poster sessions and talks, was spent sitting around the fire, drinking beer, and partaking in witty banter. I think I could do this as a full time job. Although, by the time the symposium was completed, I was completely exhausted. I took a full day to recover (mainly sleep).

All in all, good fun. I highly recommend it!

Oh, and I'll try and upload some photos later (I'm sure you will all writhe with anticipation!!)

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Every time I see him, I smile. (:

Friday, February 1, 2008

Back in the Day (which was a Wednesday if you didn’t know)

(Reminiscing) I remember when I could drink and drink and drink and reach that perfect point of pure euphoria-with no repercussions.

Well, times, they-are-a-changing.

I went to a hockey game this week, which involved your typical pre-game tail gate. The food was sizzling and the beer was flowing. Life was good. I had consumed 2 beers prior to entry into the rink, where I went on to purchase another cold one. I was feeling great, screaming my heart out (which I don’t get to do as much as I would like), chatting, laughing, blah, blah blah. At this point, my beer count was only 3, and since I wasn’t the DD, and the game was going into over-time, like most, I got up and purchased another beer. Now I am not a *small* person. Three beers shouldn’t put someone like me “over the edge.” I had trained myself in the UK to be able to drink at least 4-5 of the Queen’s pints, which for me, was completely respectable. However, once I took a sip of #4, my body went into a slight convulsion. I quickly pawned the beer off to some other, much willing recipient and left it at that. My team won the game (whoo hoo!), and after some more congregating we were on our way home. That turned out to be the longest car ride of my life as my body slowly started to destroy itself from the inside out (well, that is what it felt like at any rate). I did manage to make it home, but quickly set up camp in the bathroom were I sweated out my convulsions and the emptying out of my stomach.

More than anything, I am upset that my body can no longer tolerate what I once so enjoyed. I did have an incident back in college, where I can honestly say I drank way too much, as I was left incapacitated (and by incapacitated, I mean unconcious) for over 48 h after. I have never been the same since, but I am sorry body, that was years ago. Get over it.

The sad part is as well, that I FEEL hung over. I shouldn’t have the pain without the glory of the drunkenness that precedes it. Stupid body.