Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Little Running App That Could

I've used a few. But they all die. First, they lose the ability to create a post to Facebook. This is understandable since Facebook constantly changes how they interact with apps and the apps are mostly done by a hobbyist, who just wanted to try out a new skill but has moved on and can't be bothered to maintain the site. Next goes the post to Twitter and the ability to log a run on Facebook. All that remains is the site itself, which starts to error-out and not let you post to it, or it renders your 5.5 mile 8:21 pace into 100,329,285.10007 miles at who cares what pace? Strangely, they will still let you download all the past runs.

I've been using RunningAHEAD for a bit over 5 years now and well, you can only post at the site and it no longer makes Facebook posts or Tweets, though it does update the sidebar on this blog (upper left corner, see?). But it works! 8,004 miles of posts. The average pace is 7:59/mile. It will soon be over 8:00 since I rarely do sub-8 workouts any more.

This mileage is a fraction of the total since I took up running 15 years ago: First of all, it excludes the high mileage I was doing in the marathon era--I ran 5 between 2008 and 2011. The whole 15 years is probably something like 25k miles.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

You Can't Leak Information You Don't Have

The press correctly, but deceptively report that Susan Rice did nothing illegal by asking for the names of American citizens whose identities had been redacted from intelligence reports. It is legal for her to make the request.

It is illegal for that information to be divulged to the public. We do not know if she did this or not, but here is the thing: She couldn't have done it if she didn't know the names in the first place.

We ought to be able to trust public officials, but part of the reason for that trust is that they need to be held accountable when they abuse that trust. Ms Rice remained in the Obama administration after going on all the Sunday political talk shows claiming a film was the cause of "protests" in Benghazi. Nobody was charged in the IRS abuse scandal--they persecuted Tea Party groups. Why should we trust people like Rice to have not leaked the names? She has given us no reason to trust her at all.

O. Henry (in reverse)

In O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi, a poor couple grapple with what to give each other for Christmas. Each has a prized possession, the wife has beautiful long hair, the man has a gold pocket watch. He pawns the watch to buy her decorative combs for her hair. She sells her hair to purchase a chain for the watch.

My mom was always hard of hearing but it got worse over the years. An obvious solution would have been for all of us to have learned sign language--she took some lessons, but nobody else did. Instead, she worked at lip reading and that plus the bit of hearing she had was enough to get by. Later, technology came along (cochlear implants) which enabled pretty normal hearing.

As fate would have it, an odd thing has happened. My dad is losing the power of speech--I am not sure the cause, but his voice is reduced to a whisper. Now, even a person with normal hearing has difficulty making out what he is saying. Sign language seems an obvious answer. If he had learned it 40 years ago, he would be pretty good at it by now. Bygones. Still, learn a few basic words and phrases like, "could you pass the X" or "I'm tired and going to bed" etc. and there will be a big incentive to expand vocabulary.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Winning At The Half

There is an obvious advantage to being ahead at the halftime mark. If the status quo stands, your team will win the game. This is not the whole story as anyone who saw the historic win by the New England Patriots over the Atalanta Falcons is well aware of.

The advantage the Patriots had was that while Lady Gaga was wowing the nation with her show, the Patriots were work-shopping and planning how to stop Atlanta's offense and how to defeat their defense. Atlanta could not and did not need to do this--what they had been doing was working and they had no way to know what changes (if any) the Pats had up their jerseys.

The Patriots had a big points deficit to overcome, but with a lot of luck as well as figuring out how to give Brady time to throw and figuring out how to stop Atlanta's formidable offense, they found a way to win.

Some of it was structural: The Pats offense was on the field a lot and the defenders who sacked and knocked down Brady just got tired out. It wasn't the plan, like Mohammad Ali's "rope-a-dope" but it had the same effects. And it's small things: So many game changing passes were missed in the first half, but not by much. In the second half, the passes were caught--including ones that seemed as if God was in the mix:

Monday, January 16, 2017

Believe It, Or Don't, The Choice Is Yours

You don't have to protest. You could just do what you expect your opponents to do: Learn to live with not getting your way.

Oh! But this is different! You see, I am obviously right and they are benighted and are of closed-mind.

Yes, obviously. But just as obvious, is that there are still people who believe otherwise and since their beliefs are clearly wrong, it should be a snap to change their minds. Right?

Just a helpful hint and I do not mean to take sides, especially since I have no idea of what you are for or against, but I think complaining about the need to protest will not be persuasive to your opponents.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It Was Bloody Chaos

It sounded much worse than it actually was, or at least must have seemed so since our future nurse came running down-stairs to see what the medical emergency was all about.

I was clearing the table after dinner and felt a tickle in my nose. I wiped it with a napkin and this quickly stimulated a bright red drop of blood to fall neatly to the floor. This was instantly noticed by our dog, who is accustomed to swooping in and devouring anything she sees falling to the floor. Mid pounce, I commanded her "un uha"! and that paused her for the moment. Then I squatted down to wipe up the blood spot. Henceforth, the blood started dripping at about one drop every 3 seconds. I was behind the curve--I could not get the floor clean before the next drop fell and I did not want our spaniel getting a taste for Human blood.

So I called out to my wife, in the adjacent kitchen, to bring me a paper towel. She showed up at the same time as the future RN who countermanded my wife's advice to tilt my head back. Her training was that one could choke or become sick from ingesting blood, though it seemed too little to cause any such harm. I did follow her advice, to be supportive and really the crisis was past, now that I could hold my nose with one towel and wipe the floor with the other.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Massachusetts Lowest "Gun Death" Rate

Our local NPR station reported this morning that we have the lowest gun death rate in the nation. Yeah!

Does that mean we have the lowest murder rate? Um, no. We are 6th best as of 2015 (latest data I could find) Here 1.9 murders/year/100,000 people.

That leaves suicide and accidents. Well, the suicide rate in MA is 8.3 suicides/year/100,000 people and while it is 4 times the murder rate, it is nonetheless the lowest in the nation, please see here.

They could have been more honest and simply said that Massachusetts has a lowish murder rate but mostly a very low suicide rate. I think that most people care more about murder and suicide than about how these acts are performed, so the obfuscation of "gun deaths" distracts from the real story.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Thoughts On ‘Chuck Norris vs. Communism’

This is not a movie review: You can find a good one here, or just google the title for several choices.

At the height of the cold war in Romania, mid 1980's, Western action films were voiced over into Romanian and shown to eager audiences willing to pay and take a risk. The interviews all show people who were greatly impressed and moved by Western society compared to their own: The freedom displayed as well as our opulence compared to what they had, made a big impression.

One ironic thing was that this was capitalism in practice: The people who arranged viewings, did so in their own apartments and had to acquire expensive (like the cost of a car) VHS machines. They charged guests to see films and hence recouped their investment as well as turned a profit.

The main thing that struck me was a kind of hope/despair dialectic: We are not such a beacon now. Does this mean we in the West have stagnated and are no longer in the vanguard of Human civilization? Or is it that the world is just more free now and so many more people are catching up to what we've had for so long?

Consider The Alternative

President elect Trump has come under some fair criticism for his New Year's Day tweet:

Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!

The most common criticism I've seen is that Trump should refer to people who disagree with him as opponents or something less harsh than "enemies". Sure, okay. But you realize that the only likely alternative to Trump was Hillary Clinton, who famously said in response to an Anderson Cooper question:

You've all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?"


Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians. Probably the Republicans.

Nice! 4 groups of Americans that oppose her agenda and one foreign enemy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Semi Day-Off activities

Roast coffee.

Go for a run--8.8 miles barefoot: First barefoot run of the year, still not under 8:00 but I'll get there, still have post vacation slows.

Ordered some green coffee beans--remembered we were all out when I got them out for the earlier roasting. Remembered that the vendor had a deal on shipping, so I will get 35 lbs delivered for $7.99.

Took Dahlia to the oral surgeon for a follow up on her root canal. This place is great! The waiting room looks like a nice home library/sitting room and she has little dogs that want to snuggle (and will fall asleap on you while you are being operated upon.

Made some ham and bean soup for dinner.

Took Jemma to dance lessons.

Logged into work and put in 2.5 hours.

NOTE: These items are not in order.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Chichen Itza

I did not leave my heart in Chichen Itza, others were not so lucky...

The standard understanding is that the Human sacrifice was done at the top of the pyramids, most was but some were killed and thrown into the cenote, which was their only source of water. Gee, I wonder if this is why they died out? This settlement was abandoned before the Spaniards arrived.

Christmas in Mexico

Forgotten Middle Child

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kin Ha Senote Jump

The kids in the back of our rental car on the way to the cenote were asking what it is called. My wife spelled: it is K, I, N, splash, H, A. Splash, space whatever--definite splash place!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Vacation Week Time Use

I took this week off since my employer does not allow any carryover of PTO. In the unlikely event I suddenly become CEO, day 1, 8:00 AM, employees will be allowed to carry some amount of paid time off. I think one year's worth is reasonable. I know the accountants want to zero out every year, but screw them--99% of the company are not CPAs! I do not believe the HR BS that carryover encourages the use of PTO. I would take a lot more early Winter and Spring time off, but I haven't accumulated much by then and don't want to be in the hole.

Anyway to the point of this post: What have I been doing with my time?

Monday, it snowed and so I spent a fair amount of exertion shoveling the driveway. I had to go to the store since I make falafel for our dept party and needed fresh parsley. Later I went for a run, which was slow due to fatigue from shoveling and the presence of snow on the ground. I took Jemma to the orthodontist to have a look at her broken retainer. Later, time was taken up with attending Dahlia's induction into what she calls "the cult" of NHS. We are so proud, her first cult!
Home just in time to watch the Patriots play Monday Night Football! I only watched to the half because it was 23-3 and looked like a Pats blowout. Turns out the Ravens made a big, but ultimately failing comeback in the 2nd half. Too bad I missed it!

Tuesday, I made the Falafel and had to deal with our food processor dying--we have a smaller, older unit that could do the job in several batches. Also, made a large batch of pizelles, because I bring these to the party as well. I only had time to make a couple dozen before having to wrap the Yankee swap gift and go to the party.

The party ended and I had just enough time to get Jemma from School and take her to get a new retainer at the orthodontist. Then power lifting, followed by dinner.

Wednesday, I cooked up the rest of the pizille cookies and did some shopping for Christmas things to send. It was a fiasco. I was looking for candy to send to people and must have left my hat somewhere and I could not find it. Called today and I think they have it in the lost and found. Next, I went to the grocery for some rustic bread, which they had, but also I wanted some great and inexpensive bacon they had. They had the bacon but now it was normal price, so no point in stocking up. Also I wanted pomegranates--which they normally have, but did not have on this day. They had something called "pepino melon" which smelled intriguing, but they were half the size of a mango and priced at $5 each, so no. I got home in just enough time to go for my run--the day was warm enough for no shoes, or so I thought. I had to run a course I hadn't done in a while and there were some patches of ice to cross. All in all, it was a good run, 8.8 miles at a 7:44 pace. It was too late for lunch since the concert was soon. Later, the Winter concert, featuring Jemma on violin. (It should be up on the Chelmsford Telemedia youtube channel soon).

Thursday, I got the packages sent and did an easy clean and jerk workout. Made my 150 lbs easily but elected to stop there and not spoil it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Movies Within a Sitcom

A repeating motif on Seinfeld was that the characters went out to the movies a lot. Sometimes they were real, such as Shindler's List or The English Patient. Often times, they were fake movies with titles which sounded real-ish.

Now that there is an internet, you may have realized that nothing you think of has not already been thought of by someone else. And obsessed about and posted onto the internet. So, yes. There is a genre of movie posters for fake movies from Seinfeld.

First: The Rochelle, Rochelle ones:

Other ones which even I, a Seinfeld fan, barely remember...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dog Whistles and Mind-Reading

Everybody is a Carnak now.

Trump is an antisemite, racist, homophobe, sexist etc.

How do you know this? Let's set-aside that nobody (okay, no Human) can divine the content of another's soul. But still, how about some evidence?

It is all "dog whistles". So, his heart is judged by how well his enemies can interpret his words to suit their thesis?

Go ahead and Google: "Trump anti semitic dog whistle" for examples. They are perfect examples of seeing all kinds of meaning in random noise. Eg. Complete avoidence of them is what is technically called, "An impossibly high standard", which is another way of saying no standard at all.

Also, a one-way standard: Did Obama ever get criticized in an anti semitic context in the main stream media for having Al Sharpton over to the White House several dozens of times?

Kidding! Of course not.

Anyway, what is the point of a dog whistle if the dog can't hear it? These claims rely on such subtlety, do you really think some troglodyte from the back woods will hear it? The troglodyte may have access to the internet and find out that many of Trump's business associates are Jewish, his son in law too and that the PM of Israel likes Trump. If the kid is motivated by hatred for all things Jewish, I don't think Trump is going to get him fired-up.

But if it can only be heard by enemies, is it still a dog whistle? No. I think the term you are looking for is imaginary whistle.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


The temptation to gloat is strong: How many years has it been rubbed in our faces when our guy lost?

Let's not.

To those disappointed, sorry, we know how you feel. Lots of us felt that way a few months ago when Trump won the Republican nomination and 4 years before that too. We know how you feel because we've been there too.

I voted for Johnson, so I expected to be disappointed no matter what. Hillary would have caused more pain than Trump, but not by much.

So, to those in pain. Try not to lash-out. Somebody had to lose, lots of good (yes, even people you don't agree with are good) people were bound to feel despondent on Wed. It happens to be you, it could have been them. Those feelings are valid, no matter which side is on the losing side.

We are all fellow Americans. We fight hard over real issues, but let's not forget that at the end of the day, we are partners in this nation.