Friday, February 05, 2016

The Manchurian Celebutard?

The more Lena Dunham talks, the more she raises the question: Is her entire career and persona an ingenious undercover scheme dreamed up by a GOP operative specifically to discredit Millennials, feminists, and progressives? Is she the Manchurian Girl?

I think it is more likely that she is merely a knee-jerk leftist who has never had an out-of-the-box thought in her life. But Kyle Smith's thesis is possible.

Lena Dunham: The Manchurian Girl

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Discipline and Organization

Tuesday we went to the middle school's string ensemble performance. In the middle of JS Bach's Sleepers Awake, I was struck by the micro and macro displays of discipline on display. Each of the players had to: Learn how to play a violin, cello etc; learn their part of the song. As a group, they had to learn how to play it with 70 other kids. Finally, they had to all show up, on the same night, in the same place, prepared.

Here is the song, not by them, but just so you don't have to Google it if you want to know how it sounds.

Contrasting with the virtues ably demonstrated by the performers, the audience: Texting, coming and going in the middle of numbers, rattling their candy wrappers (in an auditorium clearly marked with no eating or drinking signs). The boy in front of us was nestled between both of his parents and was a non-stop motion machine. Did they make any effort to bestill his distracting antics? Yes, if feeding him a Hershey's bar counts.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Four Years of Runnning Data

I now have continuous data for the last four years of running--See posts 2012, 2013, 2014.

Year Total miles, Pace, Barefoot miles, Pace, Miles with Shoes, Pace
2012 1,502.13 7:57 640.65 7:50 861.48 8:03
2013 1,571.55 7:58 577.77 7:49 993.78 8:03
2014 1582 1/2 7:55 446 7:47 1136 7:58
2015 1573.61 7:57 334.09 7:48 1239.52 7:59

One may easily note that there is a steady decline in barefoot miles and yet the overall pace is pretty similar, with 2004 being a kind of banner year. Barefoot running is consistently faster than with shoes, but I have come to think of it as more of a training aid than a place to accomplish conditioning. It keeps my running smooth, so that I can run without injury. Now that I have better form, I do not need to rack up so many barefoot miles to keep me under 8:00--I have run sub 8 with shoes the last two years.

An additional note: I was 70 miles in the hole at the end of Feb, due to heavy snow. It took me most of the rest of the year to make up all those miles.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Because 40 and breaking the trend.

I would not normally post about such a jejune happening but I want to get it in--just in case the rest of the rushes by and I forget. If you look at posts/year (on the left). Since 2008, each year has been fewer posts than the one before it. Already this year is tied with last year, so only one more and BOOM! trend broken!

So here is the post:

Last night, Dahlia had a dozen friends over to exchange the gifts from a secret Santa they did. It ran from 5:30 to 10:30 and we have heard of such events, happening at other people's houses, where the refreshments consisted of chips and soda. We are not those people, but the guests are kids--so we made kid-style hot hors-d'oeuvres. Chicken nuggets, tater tots, nachos, pigs in blankets, pepperoni bread (this last one was pretty elaborate). Plus chips and cookies. I think we could have added in Crudités, but I will rack that up as an oversight. We parents grazed on these offerings and felt full, so. Success!

And 40!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Morning Adventure

The plan was simple: Take the truck to work today. The freezer for the in laws is already in the truck and I can go to their house at lunch to drop it off.


My wife needs to take a whole bunch of girls to a dance tonight--I don't remember how many but it is more than five, so only the truck will do.


I unloaded the freezer from the truck and moved it to the Subaru, in which it just fit. With the back seats down, it filled the Japanese car. In the Yukon, it fit behind the 3rd row of seats.


A mile from home, I got the low tire pressure light in the Subaru. I pulled over and one of the tires was really low. Full enough to get back home but not full enough to risk going the rest of the way to work. Especially when one considers that the freezer would have to come out and sit on the side of the road while I deployed the spare.


I went back home and: 1. Moved the freezer back to the Yukon. 2. Filled the Subaru tire so that when I come back home at lunch, I can see how it is holding. Drove to work only 10 minutes late.


I will fill the truck up with gas since it is on empty. Drop off the freezer. Go home to switch cars. Stop on the way back to work for some McDonalds--for which I have coupons. (Buy one, get one free.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The cleverness of "Scream Queens"

It is my daughter's favorite show, so naturally she gives it a glowing review in The Odyssey online

One example: Jamie Lee Curtis. She plays the dean of the college where the show takes place.

1. Her mom Janet Leigh was the original scream queen:

2. Jamie Lee became famous for her roles in "slasher films" starting with John Carpenter's Halloween. Followed by many more horror films.

3. That is all history and not really cleverness by the show--except that it was clever to cast her in the role. But, they also named her dean Munsch. There is a painter with the same sounding, but differently spelled name famous for this delightful painting:

The painting is known as "The Scream". It is officially, Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). Linguistically, I would say "shriek" is probably a closer literal translation. Shriek Queens does not really roll off the tongue and besides, "scream" was how schrei was translated--for whatever reason.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

That's Entertainment!

Last Friday began a weekend of live entertainment:

I went straight from work to our high school's rendition of The Sound of Music. I noted that, probably due to a lack of boys who can dance, one of the "men" in a waltz scene was played by a girl. I was impressed, though in another way the opposite of that, when at the end of the dance all the women jumped into the arms of their dance partner. Impressed that the not especially large girl who played a man, was strong enough to seemingly do this with ease. The other part of me was amused to think that Austrian aristocrats in the 1930's did any of this kind of dance move.

Saturday, after an hectic outing filling our truck with Ikea, we went to an acapella show at UML. Impressed as I had been with how much entertainment the Friday musical delivered for only fifteen dollars, the acapella show blew it out of the water. First of all, it was free. Second, these college kids must practice all the time; their arrangements were perfect and they all had great voices and showmanship.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


There is, or I should say, I thought there was, a meme or saying along the lines of; If you survive the first few seconds of battle, the chances of surviving the war are good.

What brought all of this to mind was that I took my middle daughter out driving for the first time today. What made it all so scary is that after the struggle to get the car moving and not die from dropping the clutch too fast, new drivers are so relieved that they forget the need to steer. After a couple of basketball stands were narrowly missed, she got the hang of it and my terror abated. The open road will deliver a whole new batch of thrills, but I think the car and I will survive.

A new bout of optimism about running came from this Thanks giving race. According to the race calculators, I should be able to run a marathon in about 3:25, which would be well under what I need if I run one at age 55, the qualifying time is 3:40 for men at that age. I could qualify as early as next October.

Distance Age grading VO2 max Riegel formula Cameron formula Time Min/mile

Marathon 03:22:14 03:23:48 03:24:37 03:28:12 03:24:43 07:48

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


"I am not a conspiracy theorist", is pretty much the caveat that every conspiracy theorist opens with, just before launching into their theory.

So here is mine:

I will not re-hash the Greek debt crisis (See here if you are curious about it, but somehow never heard of it till now) The upshot is that the Greeks wanted another bail-out and Germany said Nein!

Now, millions of "refugees" are streaming into Europe and heading mainly for Germany. Which country in Europe is next to the middle east? Greece!


Merkel is showing grim-faced resolution by committing to taking millions of these people and settling them in Germany.

My theory will be, not exactly proven, but given some heft if in the next year or so, some financial solution is found for Greece and the flow of migrants slows-down. And that is if everything works. Given the famed Greek reputation of excellent planning and execution, they may try to stop the flow but fail. Now that bunches of Syrians and others are happily ensconced in Germany, their relatives and friends will want to join the party.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making My Weight

I was sorely tempted to weigh myself after going for a run: I was planning on going for a run anyway and should come back a couple of pounds lighter... I knew I would regret it if I came in at 155 lbs or more, but if I went for a run and came back below 155 I could never know if I was below before running.

Note: For some reason Blogger cut off the right side of the pictures, so to see the whole weight on the scale, you can click on the picture and see the whole thing.

Whew! Okay, that was close.

Last time I made a weight, I had just made 150 lbs and my body weight had been 145-150 in those days, so I thought "mission accomplished". Nope. I weighed in at 158 lbs! It was last February and the snow kept me from making even half the normal running mileage*. It was most disappointing; I was lifting 5 more pounds, but had gained 10 pounds--I was actually getting worse, in a relative fashion.

I know, it is kind of numerology, what difference does it make if you can lift your own weight over your head? I can't say it makes a difference but it was a goal that I had since starting to lift a couple of years ago. It was a goal that I thought would be pretty easy too: I lifted for about three months in high school and was able to surpass my body weight by ten pounds. As a distance runner and young, my body fat level must have been in the single digits, so I was essentially just muscles, skin and bones. Now I am a middle aged man with a middle aged dad-bod.

The bar is 45 lbs, and there are two each of 35 and 10 lb disks and four 5 lb plates. Total 155.

What did I do differently this time? Normally, I start with the 35 lb plates because I want a warm-up weight of less than 135 lbs, which is what you get with two 45 lb plates and one 45 lb bar. I would switch back to the 45 lb plates once I got above 135 lbs. This time I decided to just work with teh smaller plates. In theory, I have to do more work to lift the barbell when the smaller diameter plates are on, since the bar is about 1 1/2 inch lower at the starting point. The height of the lifted weight is the same either way. The reason it is easier is that there is a lot more strength at the bottom of a lift and so by the time I am a couple of inches off the floor, I am moving faster with the small diameter plates compared to the larger ones. That added momentum takes me to the top.

*I missed out on running around 70 miles in Feb, this translates to about 7,000 calories, which should be around two lbs. I must have been eating heavily too.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Journey Of 1,000 Miles...

May begin with a single step, but you have to get out the door first!

I realized the moment after I parked at work that I forgot my badge at home. I normally keep it in the car, but the girl was going to be using the car over the weekend and so I brought it into the house Friday after work.

I got a guest badge and went about my business.

Later, I found out that everyone who was not going to a re-branding party could get lunch for free in the cafe today. I normally run from 1:00 - 2:00 and then eat a lunch brought from home, at my desk after my run. The problem is that the cafe closes at 2:00, so I ate at Noon on the theory that running with a full stomach is better than forgoing a free lunch!

Later, on my way to the bathroom to change, I remembered that I keep my locker key with my badge...which I left at home. I was just on my way to going for a walk instead of a run when I remembered that I KEEP A SPARE LOCKER KEY ON MY KEY CHAIN for just such occasions--though it took me 10 minutes to remember this small fact.

It was a good run and a bright Fall day. I am glad I planned ahead key-wise, even if all that planning nearly went to waste due to forgetfulness.

For no particuar reason: Here is a giant pumpkin that was at our local garden store.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Weekend Race Report

So, there were two races scheduled for last weekend. It is part of a grand prix and somehow even though there are only 5 races in the whole series, two happened to be on the same weekend.

The running week had actually gone swimmingly: I had finally done a long run (>10 miles) at below 8:00 pace, got in a barefoot run and had 30 miles in the bank by Wednesday with an average pace for the whole below 8:00.

I was a couple of minutes slower in the 10 miler this year than last. I chalk it up to caution: Last year I went out fast and was at 7:15/mile at the 6 mile mark. I ended up averaging 7:30 and so really died in the last couple of miles. This year I took it easy for the first three and then picked it up from there and felt solid the whole way.

25 2/14 DAVID PECCHIA 52 M 89 CHELMSFORD MA 1:17:06 7:43

The next afternoon was a 5k and I was worried that I would not have any legs left for it. My legs were fine but I felt really limited by my breathing.

33 22:02 7:06 4 50-59 28 M 527 David Pecchia Chelmsford, MA

In both races, I was second in my age group. What was weird is that three guys in the Harvard race, older than 60 came in ahead of me, but in the larger Littleton race, none of them did. The 60 year old the came in just before me at Harvard was right behind me in Littleton.


Meghan Curran won the race on the women's side and I noted that she is from Chelmsford. Two of my daughters run on the Chelmsford HS Cross Country team, so I thought they might know her--she was in the 20-29 bracket, but I figured 20, right?

Nope: She is 28 and an Army Captain. She graduated 10 years before my older daughter, so they would not have met in High School.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Humans Don't Deserve Dogs

I knew just what S meant when she said it, but on reflection it is tangling my mind into knots.

We were on the T, going to a Sox game and a lady got on the Orange-Line car with a dog on leash. She sat next to S and the animal immediately made eye-contact with the girl. S petted the dog and the dog rested its head on my daughter's knee. It was all quite endearing.

I replied that Humans deserve dogs since we created them. The wild creatures from which we bred them were not finely tuned to Human behavior, they got that way in the process of becoming our companion animal.

All of this flies in the face with the standard "creator archetype" Dr Frankenstein made a creature that was superior to Humans in some ways, but only was able to bring misery to itself and all who came near to it. Similar even to the creation story in the Judeo-Christian tradition: God makes everything perfect and yet Man messes it all up.

Man, for all his flaws has made a perfect little creature, the domestic dog: They are content in their lives, or seem to be. They certainly give us pleasure being around them. It is to my mind one key flaw to Islam. Dogs and Humans formed civilization together, they are a valuable part of humanity. I cannot see how it would be a wise God's will to cut-off this part of ourselves.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Modern Polack Joke

Have you seen this one?

Politicians say a lot of stupid things, if you have to make them up, you're probably doing it wrong.

I was thinking on the drive home from my daughter's CC meet that this kind of joke "works" in the same way as the old polack jokes:

1. Take an object of scorn.

2. Put words in its mouth, harharhar!

3. Polacks are so stupid!

Who would do such a thing? Archie Bunker types? No. It is done by super-evolved progressives.

Irony meter, pegged.

Added: It is all so lame since she published a Happy Rosh Hashanah message 5 years ago.

And don't get me started on Nativia. It is well known that her husband is part Yup'ik. It is almost like, in the attempt to make her look like a clown, they beclown themselves.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Respect My Authority

I had three interactions with authority in the last few weeks and each was different.

In one, I was trying to get directions in a gated condo parking lot. The directions made no sense, so I ignored them and the guy really got unhinged about it. Thing is, if he hadn't been such an asshole, I would have done what he asked, just to be nice. Just because a guy thinks I am going to do what he says, does not mean I will do what he says. The problem the guy has is called, "Being out of touch with reality".

The second instance was in the parking garage while moving our daughter into her dorm. We left our cellphone # with college kids minding the garage so they could call us if they wanted us to move to a distant satellite garage. After we emptied the truck, I moved it to the mostly empty upper half of the garage. Still, I got a call that I needed to move. I asked the kids why they called when the garage was empty. They made up some bull about how it was likely to fill-up anytime (it never did). The thing is that they did me the courtesy of pretending there was a good reason and I moved the truck without further question. The real (obvious) reason was that they were just following instructions and either afraid to use discretion or just didn't think of it. A better policy would be to only call people if the garage gets crowded.

The third instance was mainly imaginary but serves as a thought experiment. I was taking a lunchtime walk at work through the office parks and neighborhoods nearby. While walking, I saw something I had never seen before: There was a uniformed police officer riding through the office park road on a dirt bike. I thought it made a lot of sense since neither a squad car nor a street bike could really get through the little dirt paths between residential areas and office parks. There are even paths between adjacent office parks. So this would be great for pursuit of suspects who are on foot. I was just approaching one of these paths and imagined what would happen if the cop was there. Answer: I will still take the path through to the neighborhood unless he tells me it is not allowed. I might ask him some questions, like "I've been taking this path for years--I hope I haven't been breaking the law all this time"? Etc. But, I would not defy him even if he was impolite. Why? Because he has legitimate authority and while unlikely, he could shoot me!

Parking Do's & Don'ts

1. Do try and park equally distant from the lines that define your spot.

2. Don't take two spots.

3. If you take two spots, be honest about it: None of this, just enough over the line to dissuade anyone from parking next to you business. Better to be thought an asshole than a sloppy parker.

4. Do not take four spots! Yes, I know it is way in the back and the lot is only half full. You could have taken one spot in the back and nobody will park next to you because it is further from the building. Do you think those magical lines will protect you? They didn't stop you from straddling them did they?

Slow, Fast--No, just Slow

The bulk of my miles were in on Wednesday and yesterday was too complicated to consider running. This morning I decided to leverage the fact that I don't need a lot of miles but do need some fast runs to get my weekly pace on par.

I took off and felt fast. I even felt strong going up a moderate hill--not a killer hill, but also not a gentle rise either. A woman walking her dog was approaching from the crest of the hill and just as I was timing my breath to say hi, she complimented me on my speed. This felt good but it was a short-lived feeling; I hit an intersection just a moment later and this is a spot where I have a benchmark time, I was 15 seconds slow.

I pressed on, feeling fast the whole way. My time said otherwise: 7:54/mile is under the 8:00 that I try to be under, but I typically am in the 7:30 range for a run this short (only about 2.8 miles).

I still need some mileage for Saturday, so hopefully I can be at least fast enough to be under 8:00 on the week.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

W H Auden: He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest

Funeral Blues
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.