Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

Tag: AAR

Runners at AAR/SBL 2015

All runners—no matter how fast or slow!—in Atlanta next month for the annual AAR/SBL conference, you are invited to join me and others on a casual run along the Freedom Park Path Trail on Saturday morning at 7am. Here are the details:

When: Saturday, November 21st, 7am

Where: Meet in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta (265 Peachtree St NE.).

What: Run on some streets until we connect to the path. Follow path to Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Turn around and head back to hotel. About 5 miles. You can turn around sooner or continue past the planned turnaround spot, if 5 miles is not your preferred distance.

Who: You, me, and anyone else who wants to run before the conference frenzy hits us. Contact me if you need more info: chris[at]wipfandstock[dot]com.

View route map for Freedom Trail From Hotel on

I Just Felt Like Running

Over eight years ago I arrived in Eugene with my pregnant wife and a new job. Up to that point in my life I had never been much of a runner. In fact, I actively resisted it, much to my wife’s chagrin (she has had running as a part of her active lifestyle ever since I’ve known her). But my managing editor, and therefore kinda my boss, asked if I’d like to go running with him at trail not far from our new house. He even had some hand-me-down running gear that he gave me. So I started to run every once in a while, again much to my wife’s chagrin (being pregnant she was not able to run much, right at the time I started to take it up!). Something took hold. It was the company for sure, but also the culture of running that is woven into the fabric of Eugene.

Eventually I started to run during my lunch hour at work with my colleague and office-mate Charlie Collier. Charlie had run several races in the past but was looking to pick it back up after some time away. Running with Charlie got to be a pretty regular thing. Two to five times per week we would go out from the gym near our office and make our way to the river path or Pre’s Trail. The first time he and I went on a run together, we followed a route of about 3.75 miles that crossed the river twice. At the second bridge, with about a mile to go, we both were out of gas. We walked across the bridge and then picked up the running from there. We got to a point in our running where stopping was not necessary. Later we were able to push a little further and run a route that stretched to just over 5 miles. After several months (maybe even a year or so), we made it a goal to run that route in less than 40 minutes. It took a while, but we did it. Charlie, having run more than I and knowing the personal milestones for races, suggested we try to run a 5K in less than 20 minutes. And so we started training for my first race. On Valentine’s weekend 2011, Charlie blew by me in the last stretch of the race. (This has become a constant theme of mine. I don’t manage race paces well.) Neither of us broke the 20-minute barrier, but we were only seconds off. From that point on, I’ve been hooked on reaching certain goals. Just last month I finally went below 20 minutes in a 5K! It’s the only goal I’ve reached. I’m still working on under 90 minutes for a half marathon (I need to trim three minutes) and hitting the qualifying standard for my age group for the Boston Marathon. My one and only attempt at a marathon was not fun and I’ve had nagging pains ever since. But now that Charlie has done it, I might have to give it another try some time.

All this to say, I see myself as a runner now. And like Forrest Gump, running with company is not a bad thing. (I miss running with Charlie, by the way, now that he’s moved to Portland.) I know there are several folks who attend AAR/SBL every year who also enjoy running. Last year I organized a run for conference goers. A small handful showed up on Saturday morning to run along the San Diego harbor. It was beautiful! This year in Atlanta I am putting together another Saturday morning run. It will be a casual run along the Freedom Park Path Trail section of the larger Stone Mountain Trail. All speeds and abilities are welcome. I’ve mapped out about 5 miles, but the path can be shortened or extended as runners wish. In another blog post to follow shortly, I will provide all of the details. If you are a runner and attending AAR/SBL, set aside Saturday morning at 7am to join us!

Skepticism and Years of Jubilee

The title is a trick. The two things—skepticism and years of jubilee—have nothing to do with one another in my post today other than I want to say something about both of these things without making two separate posts. So first skepticism…

I am pretty skeptical by nature, I think. Lord knows I’ve nurtured that trait as well over the years. So it was pretty easy for me to have my doubts about the integrity of the first ever College Football Playoff selection of teams. I know there were all sorts of criteria and data that went into the selection of Alabama v. Ohio State and Oregon v. Florida State. And these four teams all have good cases for being in. I’m not arguing that, so no comments explaining to me why such-and-such team deserved to be there. Still several things make my skeptical antennae buzz:

  1. Everyone who stands to make money from this must be thrilled! ESPN, NCAA, the conferences with their championship games, makers of swag, the hosting sites, etc. We’ve got four nationally popular teams. Three of the four are storied programs, and Oregon, though not as storied, has implanted itself in the national psyche with the help of the little Swoosh emblem and a long string of successful seasons. Having either Baylor or TCU (or both!) in the final four would have, no doubt, kept almost everyone but the Big 12 from making as much money as they stand to make with the four teams we have in place. I have a funny feeling that if it was Oklahoma or Texas instead of Baylor or TCU, the committee might have had a tougher decision to make. The results this year will almost certainly force the Big 12 to push for a championship game, either by expansion or by exemption, because, hey, there’s money to be made!
  2. And, while we are on money, according to Forbes we have the #3 most valuable team going up against the #9 most valuable team in the Sugar Bowl. While in the Rose Bowl we have #19 going up against #23 (or so; FSU was listed just outside the top 20; TCU and Baylor were not on the list anywhere!). The rich get richer!
  3. We also have two intriguing story lines: the last two Heisman winners going up against one another (Mariota is near certain to win the Heisman this year!); and a reunion of an old rivalry in Saban v. Meyer. What story line would Baylor or TCU have given us? Private Christian school v. Goliaths. Cinderellas are more important to March Madness.
  4. The talk for several weeks leading into the final week of play was whether TCU should be in the final four ahead of Baylor, since Baylor had won the head-to-head game. The committee conveniently got to avoid that dilemma. I’m not convinced the committee would have made a different decision even if the Big 12 had declared an outright conference champion.

My skepticism has not quite reached the level of conspiracy theory, but I wouldn’t be surprised. To add insult to injury, the highest ranked team not to make a big six bowl game is Kansas State, also of the Big 12.

Now to years of jubilee…

I have twins who turn 7 today. The story behind their birth is filled with highs and lows—we were told we lost one during the pregnancy; we feared we lost the other; later the doctor discovered BOTH babies still there; Gail got put on bed rest just before we were to move to Eugene and then again later in the pregnancy; the boys arrive a bit early and have to stay in the NICU for 18 days. Fortunately the final result was a high one, even if their first Christmas was in the hospital.  Today, these two boys are full of energy and life. So while we will not be taking a year of respite (Gail and I could use one though!), we will celebrate their jubilee year giving thanks for God’s goodness these past 7 years.

Alexander on the day of is birth seven years ago.

Alexander on the day of his birth seven years ago.

Alexander just a couple of weeks ago.

Alexander just a couple of weeks ago.

Oliver on the day of his birth.

Oliver on the day of his birth seven years ago.

Oliver just a couple of weeks ago.

Oliver just a couple of weeks ago.

I did say years (pl.) of jubilee. The second bit on this topic comes from the recent presidential address given by outgoing AAR president Laurie Zoloth.

Dr. Zoloth used her presidential address to call on her colleagues to plan a sabbatical year, a year in which they would cancel their conference. In her vision, they would all refrain from flying across the country, saving money and carbon. It could be a year, Dr. Zoloth argued, in which they would sacrifice each other’s company for the sake of the environment, and instead would turn toward their neighborhoods and hometowns.

Read the full NY Times piece here.  I wonder how seriously this idea will be considered.

Being a Good Academic

Each year around this time the pace in our offices start to pick up. Students and professors heading back to school need books. We make books. Academics also seem to get back in their groove after a summer spent feverishly writing enjoying their breaks, and now they want to get their books in shape for publication before the annual conferences taking place in later autumn. Editors, designers, typesetters, and marketers (at least the ones with whom I work!) are doing their parts to make sure these books see the light of day. The intensity builds right up until we board the plane to make the trek to that year’s location for the AAR/SBL conference, the apex of our publishing year.

In many ways AAR/SBL (and ETS, which immediately precedes it in a nearby location) is an exciting and fun trip. It’s a lot of work to be sure, with days beginning in the early mornings and going into the later part of the nights, but it gives us a chance to show off our books, meet in person authors we’ve known only by email and phone for months, see old friends we’ve not seen since the last conference, and meet new authors and friends that will become a part of the two aforementioned groups. A good many of the academics I know who go to the annual conference year after year do so for two reasons: friends and books. Of course there are those younger, eager students or would-be-students who attend to meet luminaries, get that first paper presentation under their belt, and generally soak in the environment. There are also those seasoned veterans who like nothing more than attending sessions and hearing paper presentations. And usually there is a session or two featuring a hot topic, book, and/or figure that people will look forward to attending. But on the  whole the “academic” side of the conference is not at the top of most people’s list of reasons to attend. I’m lucky. My primary reasons for being at the conference—selling books and building relationships—are at the top of most lists.

This post is not about why people attend AAR/SBL, or to tell you how excited we get as the conference approaches. Rather, this time of the year makes two blog posts I’ve read recently especially pertinent, and I want to bring attention to them.

The first is a post from a while back by David Lincicum, “Some scattered tips for not being a jerk at conferences.” (See also Mark Goodacre’s much older post “How to enjoy SBL“) The second references David’s post and was written by an author with whom I’ve had the privilege of working: Christopher Skinner, “Negative Reviews and Unintentional Slights: Some Further Tips on Not Being a Jerk in Academia.” Both of these posts have great advice for academics: praise others effusively and genuinely, network without instrumentalizing, have fun, keep your ego in check, retaliation is rarely worth it, maintain perspective, be nice, etc. The thing is this is all advice for living as a human, whether one within or without academia. Though I wouldn’t use the same words every time, this is advice I’m trying to pass along to my three boys: encourage others, toys do not a friend make, have fun, don’t hit back, keep your reaction the same size as the problem, be nice. What Lincicum and Skinner are really saying to their academic peers is “Be a good person! Or, at least try.” And never forget to use turabian annotated bibliography.

See you in San Diego!

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