Tuesday, January 20, 2004

In Which Our Heroine Tries to Pay Tribute
As many of you are aware, I have just returned from the funeral of my friend Jonathan (Jock) Smout, who died in an avalanche two weeks ago. (news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3355577.stm)
Jock and I had been friends since our first day of college, when we were in the same entryway in our hall of residence. One of my favorite stories of him was an erg test on the first day of our second year. We were being measured on wattage per stroke, and when he saw how well I was doing, he came over and quietly coxed me to an even better score, all the while warning me to maybe lay off a little as I was beating his score, which as a member of the men's varsity 8+ was a bit much. I unfortunately walked away afterwards, getting about 10 feet before suffering a massive seizure in the hallway. When I woke up in the hospital the next day there was the usual card signed by all the members of the squad. In large writing in the middle was the note "Serves you right for beating my score. Love, Jock"
Though winter training was overdue when I planned to start it two weeks ago, and for obvious reasons it was again delayed, I have decided to compete in the world indoor rowing championships (CRASH-Bs - www.crash-b.org) here in Boston on February 22. I have done this before, and it is quite fun, which is rather bizzarre for an event that conveniently has bins lying around for you to be sick into when you've finished. I only have a month to train, which isn't much, but I will be racing as a tribute to Jock. To further pay tribute, I will be using the occasion to raise money for the Huntingdon's Disease Society of America. (www.hdsa.org) Huntindon's Disease is a genetic disease which is completely fatal. This disease was quite prevalent in Jock's family and he lost a number of family members. He twice ran the London Marathon to raise money for funds to battle Huntingdon's, and I feel this is a very fitting tribute to his memory and to carry on his work. The HDSA is ranked one of America's top philanthropies, which means that by far the majority of the money raised there goes to actual research and work. It was founded thirty five years ago by Nora Guthrie, widow of the great American songwriter Woody Guthrie, who himself died of the disease and whose children are at risk of developing it (symptoms do not appear until the late thirties, early forties). I feel confident that money given to them is being given to a worthy organization.

I hope that you will help me in this tribute. If you choose to do so, please send me a cheque made out to the Huntingdon's Disease Society of America. Do not make them payable to me! I will spend checks made payable to me on booze, fast living and other reckless things not considered charitable, and as such will not be tax deductible the way ones payable to the HDSA will. Please send your cheque to me so that it arrives before Feburary 22, 2004. E-mail me for the mailing address - I don't think posting in on the web for strangers to read is a good thing. And feel free to come down to the Reggie Lewis center on the day and watch me sweat it out!

Thank you for your help and your consideration. I'm developing a drastic training plan right now!

Much love,


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

In Which There are Updates
There is a lot to write about Christmas. It was great. Harters was here, lunches were had with old friends, new friends were made, much beer was drunk. Jim was here for New Years and Christmas, and that was great joy. Ethan got married, David's wife had a baby girl and Nils got engaged. I tried to write about it last night (and it was loooooooooooooooooooooooooong) but it didn't go through for some bizarre reason. Unfortunately, the holidays came to a hard end with a phone call this morning that informed me a good college friend had died in an avalanche in France. I've copied an article I found on line below.

Avalanche skier attended county school

A British skier who died after being caught in an avalanche in France was a former Shrewsbury School pupil, it emerged today. Management consultant Jonathan Smout was on holiday with friends in the resort of Tignes when the accident happened.

The former public schoolboy was pushed into a hole by the impact of the avalanching snow.

The 34-year-old Briton was part of a seven-strong group of skiers, which included an instructor, who were travelling off-piste when the avalanche happened on Monday. No-one else was injured in the accident.

Mr Smout's father, David who lives in the Scottish borders, said: "We were told Jonathan didn't really have a chance, that the compacted snow would have been like being hit by concrete.

"Jonathan was a very loyal son who lived life to the full. Skiing was one of his great interests, along with mountain climbing."

Mr Smout lived in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, and was employed through an agency by Barclays Bank.

He had been a boarder at Mowden School in Northumberland before attending Shrewsbury School and later the University of Nottingham.