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  • The Green Knight: 2012/06 - 2012/07
    a delicious buffet Everything in the buffet was labeled as Turkish this or Turkish that I have my doubts as to how authentic the Turkish chocolate mousse was but it was all delicious This dinner was a fun opportunity to catch up with many people I knew from Houston in a very different local setting something I have always enjoyed Moreover it was a great chance to meet several Turkish alumni I reconnected with one of my classmates who is Turkish whom I haven t seen since graduation what fun The trip was off to a good start Saturday morning began with an amazing breakfast at our own hotel The buffet was set up on the top floor with 270 degrees of view overlooking the beautiful Bosphorus strait The Bosphorus surprised me with how much traffic it supported even early in the morning there were ferries cargo ships and huge barges crisscrossing all over the place We made our way back over to the Ritz where we were treated to a morning of lectures and panel discussion including Ambassador Edward Djerejian also a founder of Rice s Baker Institute of Public Policy on repercussions of the Arab Spring and David Leebron discussing the future of the university with the president of the American University in Cairo As a group we then took a bus to the Old Town where we had lunch and toured two mosques The first the Blue Mosque was really impressive with its very elaborate tile work the rich colors of which give the mosque its name and the second Hagia Sophia was equally impressive with its huge dome and frescoes and mosaics After a sunset cruise along the Bosphorus and Golden Horn we were received by Ali Koç a Rice alum whose family is very prominent in Turkey s private sector He hosted an al fresco gala dinner at his family s industrial museum which was a wonderful setting aided by continued wonderful weather Sunday we took an organized tour with several other weekend participants We started at Topkapi Palace home of the Sultan for centuries It was a fascinating compound with an amazing view Of particular interest was a collection of incredibly ornate jewelry and arms as well as a collection of relics including a bronzed footprint of the prophet Mohammed and the staff of Moses On our way back to the bus we stopped by an artist s shop to see Ebru artwork in action It was really cool and the artist produced a work specifically in celebration of Rice s 100 years Given that we had spent the previous 24 hours immersed in locations dating back multiple millenia Rice s centennial seemed a bit small by comparison Still the gesture was very well received and much appreciated Lunch was at a restaurant that specialized in traditional Ottoman cuisine For the first time I felt like we might be dining on something pretty authentic There was a great deal of cinnamon even on our

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  • The Green Knight: 2012/05 - 2012/06
    than I used to I m very relaxed and I ve had a great time with old friends new friends and most importantly Katie This has been a great trip and we will certainly look for excuses to come back again Adios Buenos Aires Posted by Bryan Hassin at 16 05 No comments Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels Argentina Buenos Aires 2012 05 06 Buenos Aires Part 1 For our one year anniversary Katie and I decided to go somewhere we ve never been before Buenos Aires Argentina Thanks to recommendations from many friends who have visited or lived there we have more on our BA bucket list than we could possibly handle in a week but we ll certainly make a noble effort After an overnight flight direct from Houston There was another Rice alum in our row on the plane small world we arrived Friday morning to glorious weather Although it s Autumn here it felt much more like late summer We checked into our hotel which is right off of one of the main throughways Avenida del Libertador a wide street 10 lanes one way lined with parks for miles and miles We re in the Palermo neighborhood which is very walkable and full of shops cafes bars and restaurants on every block Our first order of business was to break our fast so we struck out walking I was stunned by how much green space there is even in the heart of this large urban area Every few blocks there is another park or monument with lots of grass around it Combine this with the extreme walkability and A everyone is out walking all the time and B it seems that everyone has a dog This is great except that people don t seem to pick up after their dogs here Early in the morning the shop keepers hose down the sidewalks but as the day wears on you have to be careful of stepping on land mines We found a little cafe with no English on their menu so we figured it was safely not a tourist trap Katie ordered a pizza while I took the salad bar Because of Argentina s high Italian immigrant population it seems that we will never find ourselves more than a block away from pizza or pasta This is great for Katie but not so much for me as I m rarely eating grains or starchy carbs these days My salad bar by contrast consisted of at least 75 meat options which Katie a vegetarian can t eat Yes we re definitely in Argentina Between the two of us we can eat just about everything but rarely the same thing On a related note I m relaxing my grain avoidance rules while here to eat empanadas which we have had with almost every meal including breakfast We spent much of the afternoon just wandering around and then I went for a run in one of the nearby parks There are miles and miles of trails I could probably run a different route each day and still have not covered them all by the end of this vacation For dinner we met up with two of my IMD classmates Felipe and Hernan and their wives at Sucre a modern Argentinian restaurant The food was fantastic and of course we accompanied it with Mendoza Malbec From the reviews it seems that this restaurant is considered pricey but due to the exchange rate with the US dollar it is actually quite affordable even by Houston standards which is already pretty cheap Saturday we put together a breakfast from the bakery down the corner and then struck out to La Recoleta where we visited the craft market and the cemetery I was blown away by the cemetery it s like an entire city of mausoleums with different streets and paths and avenues between them Some of them are more dark and somber some are more colorful and vivacious but they re all really impressive with really detailed craftsmanship Some haven t been terribly well maintained though and you can even see the coffins inside We were there on a sunny day but I have to believe that it would be incredibly creepy to be walking around all those tombs at night Saturday evening we did a wine tasting at Anuva an exporter of boutique Argentinian wines It was fun not only to taste wines we had never heard of there but also to meet other couples who were interested in wine Because Argentinians eat dinner very late we then had some time to kill and had a drink at 868 an old school speakeasy style cocktail joint Our drinks were delicious and expertly crafted by a very nice talkative bartender Finally we had dinner at Casa Felix a small private dining establishment that grows all of its own herbs and seasonings on site and sources everything else locally Here again it was fun to meet other couples including another Rice alum who value the locavore lifestyle enough to seek it out while traveling Dinner was delicious Bolivian peanut soup salad with homemade burrata and spicy plum marmalade cocoa chili crusted Patagonian sand perch and three different papaya desserts It was a very very satisfying way to end the day Sunday has been a wonderful ride as well We spent the day out on Felipe s boat with Laura Hernan and Natalia getting a tour of the many rivers around Buenos Aires Eventually we stopped for an outdoor lunch mostly meat but they managed to find some ravioli for Katie and just relaxed along the beach for some time We followed this up with alfajores a traditional Argentinian cookie that can be thought of as an oreo but 800x better and headed back to the city a fun IMD mini reunion boat trip After nearly three days here I m beginning to get the feel for

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  • The Green Knight: 2012/03 - 2012/04
    years ago yesterday Katie gave me a hug for the first time and the rest as they say is history Before we dove into the Brunelli though one of our guests brought another wine to celebrate another vintage 1979 the year I was born The 1979 M Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche was exquisite vivacious and had plenty of life left as I hope I do Our first two Brunelli were 2001 Castello Banfi Poggio alle Mura and 2001 La Poderina Again these weren t necessarily natural pairings with our food but they were great on their own and the La Poderina especially went well with the buffalo As we moved onto pecorino and gouda cheeses we brought out the other two Brunelli 2001 Castelgiocondo and 2001 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova As you may recall I ve had negative experience with Castelgiocondo in the past but this was my first time actually drinking their wine It was good but not good enough to cancel out my grudge from that visit The Casanova was Wine Spectator s 2006 wine of the year I m not sure it s that good but it was definitely my favorite of the night and will keep getting better over time Completely stuffed we moved on to dessert homemade blueberry cobbler and chocolate cake Good thing I was carb loading for Sunday s 10k race For this course we had a Sauternes like late harvest wine from California Imagine my surprise then when I took my first sip and it was spicy It turned out that this was not the dessert wine we thought it was It was experimental jalapeno wine our friends had made and bottled in a dessert wine bottle While it certainly wasn t for everyone I happen to love spicy wine so it was a perfect end to a fabulous evening Five hours of wine dinner great company and a spicy surprise what better way to begin my next trip around the sun Posted by Bryan Hassin at 11 21 No comments Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels birthday Brunello di Montalcino food Jimi Hendrix music wine 2012 03 11 Bayou City Classic 10k 2012 Race Report Despite horrible running conditions I PR ed in yesterday s Bayou City Classic 10k I hadn t raced a 10k for nearly a year but theoretically my fitness has improved since last March and I ve been mixing in some 10k training runs since January My goal with this race was to beat my 44 41 PR set in last year s Capitol 10k or at the very least beat my 45 43 course record set in last year s Bayou City Classic There was no cold or injury this year and I had had a good week of running taper carb loading and general recovery preparation so I was hoping for a very solid performance I set my race plan based on a 44 42 time

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  • The Green Knight: 2012/02 - 2012/03
    172 I was 9 seconds ahead of my race plan After a major left turn the next km slowed a bit to 4 16 but still with an average HR of 172 At the halfway point I was 6 seconds ahead of my race plan but I had slowed and it seemed clear that I wasn t going to pull 4 13s moving forward So much for a PR The next km was really bad 4 22 and an average heart rate of 174 I was now 3 seconds behind my race plan only 2 seconds ahead of my PR At this point the race course U turned and so did my performance The next km breezed by in 4 09 at an average HR of 177 I was back in business 1 second ahead of race plan What accounted for this change in performance I have a few hypotheses 1 I just dug in deep and found extra juice but I don t think this is what happened 2 There was a slight elevation increase over the previous two kms and a slight decrease over this km not enough to account for this difference though 3 The previous 2 kms were going one direction and this km was going the opposite direction so perhaps this was the effect of the wind Regardless I was feeling good and had slowly passed several runners and caught up to several more I turned it up a notch for the next 400m completing them in 1 30 at an average HR of 182 and passing all the runners in my cluster At this point I was 7 seconds ahead of race plan but didn t have nearly enough blood going to my brain to realize that I kicked it hard to complete the final 100m in 17s at an average HR of 198 my HR peaking at 207 both of which are all time highs for me My final chip time was 20 30 7 a PR by 14 seconds and 8 seconds ahead of my race plan This was the 28 finish overall 98th percentile 26 among men 95th percentile and 3 within my M 30 34 age group 96th percentile My actual base pace averaged out to closer to 4 14 the strong start and finish were the legs that gained me seconds over my race plan If I can lower that base pace to 4 06 I ll have a legitimate shot at breaking 20 minutes which is my goal for this year My next two races are 10ks though so my training focus will turn to that distance over the coming weeks I m pleased with the performance 24 seconds faster than my time on the same course last year Katie did really well too beating her goal time by more than a minute To celebrate we crushed pancakes and omelets at Buffalo Grill and watched Star Wars Episode I in 3D Posted by Bryan Hassin at 18 09

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  • The Green Knight: 2012/01 - 2012/02
    separate post but suffice to say I m really excited We have lofty ambitious goals for the course but with capable motivated students anything is possible Also regarding Rice Katie and I have been tapped to chair Homecoming this year Normally we would be honored by this consideration but we are especially tickled since this is Rice s big Centennial year We ll work hard to ensure that this is the biggest best Homecoming ever It s not all Rice though as I m working hard this year to foster community among IMD s nearly 500 alumni in Houston Instead of the traditional big event model I m hoping to generate momentum from the ground up with more frequent lower overhead events Additionally I m coordinating with the other North American IMD alumni club presidents to organize an all continent reunion this August in Boston On the health front I didn t hit my goals last year so I m doubling down in 2012 Already I ve made some great progress separate post to follow which I intend to keep up This has required much more focused attention nutritionally which has been a big change My top goal for 2012 Keep my awesome wife happy Her birthday is coming up and we re celebrating with what should be an amazing wine dinner tonight a great start to her next year 2012 full of excitement and possibility Enter the Dragon Posted by Bryan Hassin at 18 14 No comments Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels 2012 2012 01 06 2011 Wrap Up Another year has come and gone and this was a particularly momentous one This year I got married advanced my startup and accepted a faculty position at Rice University wow Let s take a look at the goals I set at the beginning of the year and see how I did Relationships Due to my wedding in May this was the most significant area of 2011 accomplishment Even outside of the wedding Katie and I had the chance to spend a great deal of time with family this year and we really paid a lot of attention to our local friendships We traveled less this year though so there was less development of our global relationships something I ll hope to rectify in 2012 Health I will remember 2011 as the year I got old and my body broke down I spent much of the year harassed by injuries to my foot shoulder hip flexor and probably some other stuff I m forgetting Let s face it I m not getting any younger I need to work out smarter not harder as much as possible and focus more on recovery Last year I began an intentional regimen of post workout recovery nutrition and this year I am adding compression to the mix as well I began 2011 at 156 lbs lean and 39 lbs fat I finished at 156 lbs lean and

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  • The Green Knight: 2011/12 - 2012/01
    and with plenty of variety I had a vegetarian pumpkin tamale Delicious which I promptly doused in guava lava hot sauce from the vendor next door There were many dogs along with their owners which made the experience even more pleasurable Orange Table was something else for breakfast Not only did they offer delicious omelets The Greek omelet was the consensus 1 they also had something else on the menu that I would have been remiss not to try jalapeno pecan pancakes I love spicy sweet flavor combinations and this one hit it on the head I m actually getting hungry as I type just thinking about it again With our bellies full we spent the afternoon and evening prepping for Christmas Dinner More accurately everyone else was prepping for Christmas Dinner While they were slaving away Mike Kelly s boyfriend and I were staying out of the way by occupying ourselves with some early Christmas presents remote control cars Once the novelty of racing them around the floor in a makeshift demolition derby wore off we constructed our own track using the couches chairs coffee table cardboard boxes and magazines to create ramps between sections of different heights The end result wasn t beautiful but it served its purpose Whether its purpose was to provide a path for the cars or rather to occupy the two of us such that we weren t crowding the kitchen and offering to quality test each of the dishes in process is still up for debate Dinner turned out to be delicious as expected Wild caught Alaskan salmon from the farmer s market along with many many vegetarian friendly accouterments ensured that we would all be well nourished for the race the next day Instead of going to bed early to rest up though we opened presents played games and laughed a lot late into the night I ll save the race report for a subsequent post but suffice to say the weekend was a huge success Fun food and family what more does one need in life Posted by Bryan Hassin at 23 28 No comments Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels Arizona Christmas Sonoma Day 3 Our final day in Sonoma began once again with exercise Our friends went for a bike ride while Katie and I went for a run I was very pleased that this was my first run in weeks during which my hip flexor did not feel injured now I could get back to training After breakfast we set out in our car to explore the wineries around Healdsburg First stop Unti Vineyards Unti s wines didn t jazz me that much but I did like that they produced several Italian varietals including a sangiovese and barbera On the recommendation of one of Katie s coworkers we stopped at Dry Creek General Store for lunch and it did not disappoint We strongly recommend the eggg salad with smoked salmon sandwich Next on the tour was Preston Vineyards which had been recommended to us by a friend of a friend While we loved that it was all organic the wines didn t appeal to any of us and for the first time we poured many of ours out into the spit bucket The olive oil they made there was delicious though A bit disgruntled by that experience we were looking for something to turn it around and did we ever find it As we were driving out of the Preston estate we saw a sign for barrel tastings at Zichichi a winery we didn t know but a proposition we clearly couldn t resist Zichichi s wines were pleasant Some of their zinfandel vines are 85 years old their office walls were covered with football pictures and they had an adorable doberman pincher puppy outside we had our mojo back While biking that morning our friend had seen a sign for grilled oysters so we decided to go get some as a mid afternoon snack Unfortunately when we arrived at Lambert Bridge it was immediately evident that A the sign had actually advertised wood fired pizzas We blame the misreading on the previous day s wine consumption and B they were all out of pizza Doh Not to worry though their wines were great and they had some great dogs a great pyranees puppy and a 200 lb saint bernard Our final stop of the day was to Christopher Creek Winery where we tasted all of their award winning wines There was a kindly old man telling funny stories and pouring wine which really enhanced the experience My favorite there was their port Having missed out on our grilled oysters by this point we were raring for dinner The restaurant we intended to frequent turned out to be closed Monday so we picked up a late reservation at Cyrus which was highly acclaimed To kill time before Cyrus we stopped into Willi s oyster bar which had great seafood and good local wines to pair with it This place was a real pleasure and we were almost sad to leave it for Cyrus Our table wasn t quite ready yet at Cyrus so we had a cocktail in the bar Their cocktail menu was very innovative and the drinks were great You can read our full review of Cyrus at Yelp but the short version is that we were horribly disappointed by our experience there The food was generally good but not great and some dishes were very over salted The wine pairings selected for us were mediocre didn t pair well with our dishes and were ostentatiously presented by a wine steward who knew very little about wine outside of his rehearsed speeches Perhaps they didn t have the A team going because it was Monday night but a Michelin two star restaurant should not have off nights especially at the prices they were charging Our closing dinner was a

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  • The Green Knight: 2011/11 - 2011/12
    PR at the Houston Great Pumpkin Run 5k In the week leading up to the run I had a sore throat and even lost my voice while yelling all night at a Huey Lewis and the News concert so it s my own fault so I made a morning of decision whether or not to run The good news about this was that I had been planning to taper my running later in the week anyway so I rested up got plenty of nutrition and hoped to be in good form Saturday morning Race day came and while I still had no voice and still had a stuffy nose I felt pretty good so I decided to go ahead with the run It would start downtown and proceed along Allen Parkway for an out and back course The course was pretty flat and the weather was great sunny and 50 degrees F so other than the lingering cold it was a great situation for a PR My race plan as always was to start off with a fast launch finishing the first km in 3 59 I would then settle into a 4 12 km pace for the next 3 65 km at which point I would kick up to a 4 00 pace for 250 m and an all out sprint for the final 100 This would bring me in at 20 39 6 seconds under my previous PR of 20 45 The starting line was close to my office so I camped out and stretched in my building until 15 minutes before start time Then I jogged to the starting line warmed up a bit and positioned myself near the front 0 6 seconds after the gun went off I was across the starting line and tearing off down Walker Street The first km went basically as planned It included a bit of a downward dip so I found myself speeding along always trying to flow with the downhill grade rather than resist it a bit more than anticipated early on I finished the first km in 3 51 with an average heart rate of 171 higher than anticipated especially given the low temperature By comparison my first km in my previous three PR 5ks were June 3 58 166 BPM April 3 53 167 BPM and February 4 01 165 BPM This didn t worry me much though I was feeling good The second km breezed along too finishing in 4 06 at 175 BPM I was then 14 seconds ahead of my target I was still feeling pretty good but it was starting to feel clear that I wasn t going to keep this speed up forever I was hoping though to stick to my 4 12 target for the remaining kms The third km is where things got funky It turns out that the race organizers had not marked the turnaround point The runners in front of me turned around at the near side of Montrose which is where the course map had specified but there was nothing to indicate whether this was right or wrong If I had been paying close attention to my GPS I would have noticed it telling me that I was still 70 m short of 2 5 km but I wasn t And even if I had been I wouldn t have trusted it since lord knows it has made errors before It turns out that the correct turnaround point was just beyond Montrose Some people turned early as I did and some kept going all the way to Waugh which was way too far Epic fail race organizers I finished the third km in 4 15 with an average heart rate of 177 and the fourth km in 4 23 still at 177 BPM At this point I was still 2 seconds ahead of target but clearly I was losing steam I m not sure if this reflects my fitness level simply not supporting such a fast burn up front or if this is a result of the sickness I had been battling and possibly still was maybe a combination of both The next 650 m went by in 2 48 a 4 18 pace As I began the final ascent I kicked it up a bit but owing to the shortened turnaround all of a sudden I could see the finish line rushing toward me I sprinted the final 100 m passing a couple of tapped out runners along the way My official time was 20 02 which would have been a PR by a long shot if it had been for a full 5k My GPS showed that I had run 4 86 km by the time I crossed the finish line I estimate that at this rate I would have finished around 20 40 which would still have been a PR but I guess we ll never know I feel good about the race especially given the circumstances Katie and I have already signed up for a December race so there will be another chance to shoot for a new PR before the year is through In the meantime I ll work on bringing down the pace of those later kms Posted by Bryan Hassin at 23 09 No comments Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels running Magical Weekend in Florida Last weekend we went to Florida to celebrate our nephew s sixth birthday It s been years since I ve been and a great deal has changed since the last time I was there Katie and I flew in Thursday and were immediately treated to a wonderful dinner of fish tacos at my brother s new house Both he and his girlfriend are conservation minded marine biologists so we had high confidence that the fresh fish we were eating were sustainably caught To add to the enjoyment we drank some very good Bordeaux and were serenaded by

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  • The Green Knight: 2011/10 - 2011/11
    on the national stage in November In a similar vein last week I returned to Third Coast Training to do another metabolic profile The good news my resting metabolic rate has increased by more than 200 calories per day I attribute this to moving from a calorie restrictive diet to one in which I m eating plenty just better foods Also my aerobic and anaerobic threshold heart rates have moved up meaning that I am running faster and at higher intensities with lower levels of effort This is the result of my running training and other anaerobic fitness conditioning The bad news just as I did last time I quit the running test too early I felt like I was completely tapped out but based on the level of lactate in my bloodstream I probably could have kept going for another several minutes at greater speeds This comes as a shock to someone who has typically regarded himself as having a high tolerance for pain I ve spent most of my life in short bursts of intensity though so now I need to work on sustaining such levels of discomfort for longer durations So in both my professional and personal life I am both achieving successes and enduring failures Clearly my goal is to learn from the failures to increase the magnitude and frequency of the successes This can be a somewhat frustrating experience but it sure helps having secure bases people who love and support me no matter what all around Posted by Bryan Hassin at 12 47 No comments Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels Cleantech Open failure fitness running Smart Office Energy Solutions 2011 10 03 Austin is Awesome I came to Austin to compete in the CleanTech Open and attend the Clean Energy Venture Summit but as long as I was already going to be here Katie came up and brought Max and we stayed an extra day for a mini vacation We ve always liked Austin a lot and periodically we discuss whether we should be living there instead of Houston Having a dog with us has added more points in Austin s favor but the debate is still inconclusive Following are a few thoughts about how the two cities differ Social Culture Austin has a more laid back hippie vibe whereas Houston has more of a formal business driven culture Winner Austin Active Culture Austin wins by far when it comes to fitness and outdoor activities Pedestrian friendly biker friendly outdoor activities friendly Austin is basically everything that Houston isn t in this regard With a big spring fed natural open swimming pool right Barton Springs and running walking trails around the lakes it s positively easy to be outdoor active Plus as we discovered on this trip both the social and active culture extend to pet owners Most restaurants with patios are dog friendly outside and there are many off leash parks throughout the city We

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