Paul Ryan’s marathon claim is about as real as Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan

Paul Ryan’s marathon time: as mythical as Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe

Okay, I know this controversy is pretty well over — Paul Ryan has copped to the facts: He never ran a sub 3:00 marathon as he claimed on a radio talk show. Here’s the relevant snippet from the 8/22 interview with Hugh Hewitt:

HH: I’ve just gotta ask, what’s your personal best?

PR: Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.

HH: Holy smokes. All right, now you go down to Miami University…

PR: I was fast when I was younger, yeah.

Runners were immediately suspicious. And even though he’s already admitted that his marathon claim is fictitious as Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, it still keeps bugging me. Continue reading

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Foraging with the Wildman

Steve Brill with fawn mushroom

“Wildman” Steve Brill examines a fawn mushroom

I’d heard about this guy for a while. Turns out  the “Wildman,” a.k.a. Steve Brill, looks pretty normal, more like your high-school biology professor (albeit one who wears a pith helmet) than Crocodile Dundee. Brill has spent the last 30 years tasting his way through parks and preserves in the northeast, cataloging edible plants and fungi, and teaching others to do the same. This past Saturday, I was pretty frantic with joy to discover he was leading a group on a trek in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, a stone’s throw from my house. Continue reading

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My troubled relationship with Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Serena at the Olympics

I think there needs to be some sort of 12-step program to help me sort out my feelings about Serena Williams. Particularly when the US Open rolls around, I find myself thinking far more about her than any other player. And those feelings are complicated. It’s hard to reconcile the contradictions: Her boiling passion with her seeming indifference; her prescient court sense and movement with her luggish¹ physical presence. I just find that I CARE more about whether Serena wins or loses than with any other player. But it’s not like I’m obsessed with Serena… or am I? Help! Continue reading

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US Open quallies: Great free tennis

Tennis Balls

Big tennis balls ready to be autographed

During the week prior to the start of the US Open tennis event here in New York, there are four blissful days of superb tennis, no crowds, cheerful security people and big names. And it’s free. Really. You walk straight in — and sometimes you walk straight into tennis players, like I did yesterday to David Ferrer.¹ Continue reading

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An ode to self determinism

“But for each of us, isn’t life about determining your own finish line?”   Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad

I read this quote hours after Diana Nyad dropped the curtain on her fourth attempt to swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida without a shark cage – something she’s dreamed about since she was 8 years old. She knew there would be aches and pains, jellyfish, sharks and storms — but she probably didn’t think they’d come all at once. Continue reading

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A better 3-bean salad

A better bean salad

Picnic-friendly bean salad without the sugar

I love three-bean salad — the kind we used to make in the Midwest as a picnic staple. Thing is, your typical three-bean salad recipe calls for about 3/4-cup of sugar — crazy! So I’ve been playing around with bean salads trying to get that same sweet/sour taste without the refined sugar. I think this one is pretty darn good. The sweetness comes from fresh corn, not sugar. Sunflower seeds add nuttiness and crunch. Continue reading

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Bumper crop? Make a sage smudge

Garden sage

My bumper crop of sage

Sage does really well in my garden — I mean REALLY well. As a result, a dozen Thanksgivings could not employ as much sage as I’ve grown. Even if I dry all of it for use in cooking, I don’t think I have enough foodie friends to give it to. So I decided to make some sage smudges — sticks of the dried herb that smell nice when burned.

The Internet tells me that smudging is associated with some Native American ceremonies. Various new-agey and Pagan practices also use them in cleansing ceremonies intended to balance energy in a home. But dried sage also just smells good, and the smudge sticks look pretty; put them in a bathroom and the steam will release a nice aroma. Continue reading

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