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.

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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Flaming Lips

Manspreading--Perfect Feminist Nonsense

No objective standard: Check

Low on the list of things which actually cause inconvenience on public transportation: Check

An offense which only men, by definition, can commit: Check

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Poor Leadership AND A Bad Deal

The polls are all over the place on the "Iran Nuclear Deal", with one of the latest showing the public opposed to the deal by nearly two to one. See the WP story here.

My analysis is that if the deal is good, then it would sell itself--the president could be a poor leader and the deal would be popular. A good product sells itself. If the deal was bad and we had a very persuasive president, he could move opinion. There are many elements to this ability beyond persuasion alone. If the public had seen the president take stands which were unpopular in the past and they worked out well, this would build credibility. Also, presidents who own their mistakes gain credibility as well. As has been pointed out here in the past, Obama takes credit for anything that works out well, even if he opposed the plan. He also blames others when things that he promoted go badly. He has no credibility with the broad public.

Since the deal is not popular, we can only conclude that it is a bad deal. And Obama is a bad leader.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Last Wednesday Odds and Ends Plus One Perfect Moment

It felt as if little was accomplished because I was not rushing around. Afterwords, when I toted it up, there was a lot completed:

1. Roasted four batches of coffee. This needed to be done first thing because we were all out. Plus, you need to open the windows and it was due to be very hot and humid, so better earlier than later.

2. Mowed the lawn and cut down some invasive vines. They have killed before (a tree I did not care for) but now they had their sights and tendrils set on a sugar maple, Japanese dogwood and something that looks like a black walnut, but I am not sure.

3. Changed the oil in the Subaru, also added air to the leaky wheel. As an aside: I was ready to throw away the air compressor. It leaked and hesitated while trying to start. The starting issue was fixed when I used a plug that was at a higher amperage and the leak was fixed when I replaced the drain cock. It stars right up now and has held pressure for a couple of weeks.

The oil change went well until I realized, once oil was pouring out of it, that the oil drain pan has a leak in it. I had some sawdust to throw in it and a good heavy rain last night finished the clean-up of the driveway.

Shower: Did I mention it would be hot and humid? Any parts of me that lacked grass and vines was covered with used motor oil and/or sweat.

4. I made some great guacamole and THEN realized we had no chips! Grocery time. Always a touchy subject. Me: I am going grocery. Wife: There is a huge list in One Note. Me: I don't want to get deli. Wife: You don't have to get anything! Me: I just want to get the things we really need and not spend all day at the store, I just want to get chips and not blow the rest of the day.

5. Went grocery and got just about everything on the list, minus the deli.

6. Got sucked into watching a dark and creepy movie with the oldest daughter: Nightcrawler. Not to spoil things (and note: I liked the movie) but it was essentially Jake Gyllenhaal as a psychopath who transparently manipulates everyone around him using glib b-school jargon.

7. Took middle daughter to "captain's practice" This is unofficial CC training run by the students themselves so it doesn't violate league rules.

8. Went for a short, 4.3 mile, run. Normally Wednesdays feature at least 8 miles but I was tired, it was crazy hot and I needed fast times to get back under 8:00/mile on the week.

9. Grilled the salmon I purchased at grocery earlier this day.

One Perfect Moment:

It had been a hard day a few weeks ago: Driving back on small twisty roads, stuck behind slowbots etc. Finally I was getting on the freeway for a few miles and it was moving well but really packed. I looked over my shoulder for a slot while on the entrance ramp and noted a motorcycle. I made eye contact to reassure him that he was seen and then he made a move which encapsulated elan. He braked slightly and then waved me in with a sharp leftward gesture of his head. It seems so little but I had been in a bad mood and I was cheered up the rest of the day.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

4th of July Double Header

Much like the races themselves, it is with some trepidation that I attempt to make sense of it all:

The plan was ambitious but doable and it would save me from a hard choice: There are two races on the fourth of July that I like to run. One of them is a two miler through the center of our town which takes the same route as the parade that immediately follows. The other (a 5-miler) is part of a grand prix series that I have been doing the last few years and you have to do all the races. There would be two obvious drawbacks to running both: Can I actually run a 5-miler that starts at 8:15 and then get to another race, 20 miles away, that starts at 9:30, on time? The second issue is performance: 7 miles is not such a long way but one would have to expect a fall-off in performance--at least in the second race.

The problems started with the first few steps of the 5-miler. I had worn thin socks since my racing shoes are too tight with normal socks and sockless was out since I tried that in Groton and ran well but got blisters from it. In warm-up everything was fine but when I accelerated up to speed at the start of the race, the problem became clear. The thin socks were slippery and my feet were sliding around inside of my shoes. I had a real hard time going as fast as I wanted to because my feet would start to slide if I went above 80-90% effort.

The course is hilly and of a distance such that there is some drama. Some people can really power their way up hills while others can fly on the down hill portions. In the first mile, the runners sort themselves out: The sprinters burn-out and slow down while the people who take a while to fully hit their stride, finally come up to speed. By the end of the first mile you are with the people who will be running with you for the rest of the race. At this distance I passed an older man who was breathing heavily, I honestly thought he would keel-over and I would need to administer CPR. Also there was a woman in her 30's that I caught up with. There were others, but in general they either passed me and were never seen again or I passed them and never saw them again. The lady stayed ahead of me while the old man and I would pass and repass each other. He would pass me on the up hills and I passed him on the down. Finally, there was the giant hill. The lady was walking up it and I passed her plus the old guy on this hill. The lady passed me again on the flats and some spectators had encouraged her by telling her she was 5th among women. So I thought some drama was afoot when I heard a very feminine wheezing coming up from behind me. It turned out to be the old guy who sounded even more like he was about to die. Whatever sounds he was making, he passed me and I never caught him again. As for the lady, I finished right behind her and could have passed her right at the end, but I am not that guy.

Last year, I was third in my age/sex group so I was tempted to stay around to see if I placed this year too. On the other side of that, I was about a minute slower this time and I had places to be. I got in my car and zoomed out of there!

I will admit that I exceeded the posted limits but I made it to Drum Hill with about 5 minutes to spare. I took the time to get those infernal socks off and get my feet back into the racing shoes and then jogged to the starting line. Or rather, mob. Harvard was a petite race of around 200 runners, Chelmsford had over 2,000 official runners and lots of non-official ones as well. The first few steps toward the start reminded me of how, even though I didn't run very hard in the 5-miler, I was still not my freshest. I had already vowed that anything under 15 minutes would be fine, so I posted myself in the middle of the starting pack. It took a mile to get room to maneuver, which was about 8 minutes. I bridled at the poor pace but it gave me time to work out the kinks and start to feel like pumping it up a notch. Based on the total race time, I must have done well under 7 for the final mile and caught up to a bunch of kids I knew from the high school cross country gang.

I should be happy: I made it to both races, and ended up taking 2nd place in my age group at Harvard. Still, the times were slow: I would normally have run about one minute faster in each of the races.

39/205 overall 2/20 M5059 37:34 7:31

256/2085 overall 25/128 M5059 14:40 7:20

Added: A couple of coincidences. In the Harvard run, the other runner from Chelmsford also took second in his age division. In the Chelmsford run, a girl I know who runs with my middle daughter on the HS cross country team came in just ahead of me and she finished in the top 20% of her age group 9/45 while I also finished in the top 20% of my age group, 25/128.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ginevra, Up Close and Distant

This portrait by Leonardo da Vinci is the only portrait by this artist to reside in America. In this first image, the young lady is beautiful if somewhat unapproachable seeming.

In this next shot, I was trying to get a detail of the background and ended up also getting the lower half of her face too. In this view, her lips look, inviting.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Groton Road Race AKA the first race of the year

I was a little apprehensive about the race this year, since I would be going into it about 10 lbs heavier than I have been in more than a decade. I place the "blame" on weight-lifting. No, it isn't all muscle, but you have to be in "caloric excess" to gain muscle and so I would say the extra weight is about half muscle and half fat. Either way, it is weight that needs to be carried around and the cardiovascular system is the limiting factor--or so I thought.

Since 2007, with one exception in a very hot race day, I have been running between 44 and 45 minutes for the 10K. This year, I went in cautiously and did not go all-out but still ran 44:44!

Here are some pics.

At the start, nervously clapping after the national anthem.

The lady in the plaid dress and I played cat & mouse the whole way: I thought I had buried her around mile 4 when I opened up a big lead after she had been 100 yards ahead of me. The 5k and 10k races joined together in the last mile and a half and I really blew my pace from dodging the slower runners. She finished about 50 yards ahead of me based on time--I didn't see her at the finish and my guess is that she went in with the 5k runners.

Passing slower runners in the last half mile.

Photos from Jim Rhodes of CoolRunning.


Shots of me and the woman that beat me at the finish:

Added: If you look at the second picture, you will see the woman who came in immediately before me and also a young man with a red shirt and sunglasses. In the final picture, you can see this same man behind me in the final stretch. It made me think that we didn't need to run 10k when we three were already together at the 1k mark.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stephen King: (Choose Your Adjective)

As I skimmed through this Stephen King piece in the Daily Beast, I struggled with which word best described the things he was saying: Dishonest, unhinged, illogical, I couldn't pick one and so will do a abbreviated Fisking.

I pointed out that I was paying taxes of roughly 28 percent on my income. My question was, “How come I’m not paying 50?"

You want to pay more, but if the above is true, you are not even paying what is required by law: The current top Federal Income Tax Bracket is 39.6%

He quotes the Governor of NJ as saying:

"I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check—go ahead and write it.”

Good point Gov! The point is never really addressed because of the dishonesty of his premise. He doesn't want to be taxed more, he wants other rich people taxed more.

There is a kind of incoherence at work in the piece: He makes the claim to speak for "rich people" since he is one of them, but he clearly loathes them and perhaps himself in some way. If rich people were to elect a spokesperson, they would probably choose somebody who likes them. Unless they are all self-hating rich people too.

Why pay more tax?

The rich people he praises, including himself--though excluding by name, Mitt Romney (who gives far more to charity than King)--he praises because they donate money to good causes. None of them, including King, donates to the Federal Treasury. Why? That is where the money would go if taxes were increased. If it is such a wonderful place to send money to, why are you sending your money to a bunch of places that are not the Federal Treasury?

A tribune for the working man

Maybe he cares about the little guy, but what I am betting on is that he needs us to get at his enemy, other rich people. Stephen King cannot get tax rates raised by himself, he needs us voters to do it. So here is a guy who is worth an estimated $400 million, who earns as much in one month as most of us will see in a lifetime of work, trying to act like he is on our side. He is on his own side and wants to use us to punish his enemies.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Let's Not Rule This Out So Quickly

Hillary Clinton likes the idea of "...camps for adults," according to Newsday.

Her idea is that it would be a way to force people to listen to each other. I think a better idea would be to use it as a way to help us all focus a bit better. With our hectic life-styles and so many issues competing for our limited attention, we need a camp to help us gain the patience to really think for a long time on one issue at a time.

I'm just throwing names out, but how does "Concentration Camp" sound?

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Chutzpah Of Hope

1. Oppose a thing, claiming it will make the situation worse.
2. The thing is done anyway and the situation improves.
3. Claim credit for the improvement.
4. Do something that makes things worse.
5. Claim you had nothing to do with the thing that made things worse.

In Foreign Affairs:

Then-Senator Obama opposed the Iraq surge, claiming

"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse,"

There is some debate about whether the surge worked or not, but certainly the situation improved rather than worsened. The state of affairs in Iraq by 2011 was so good that the President could claim victory.

Back in 2012, Obama took credit for removing all troops from Iraq,

"With regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should be a status of forces agreement," Romney told Obama as the two convened on the Lynn University campus in Boca Raton, Fla., that October evening. "That’s not true," Obama interjected. “Oh, you didn't want a status of forces agreement?” Romney asked as an argument ensued. “No,” Obama said. “What I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. That certainly would not help us in the Middle East.”

Now that Iraq is in chaos, not so much,

On Thursday, Obama addressed reporters in the White House Briefing Room about Iraq’s latest crisis. “Do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq? Any regrets about that decision in 2011?” a reporter asked. “Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me,” Obama said. “That was a decision made by the Iraqi government.”

Both quotes from the WP

In Domestic Affairs:

“They’ve said no to extending unemployment insurance for more than three million Americans who are out there looking every single day for a new job, despite the fact that we know it would be good not just for those families who are working hard to try to get back on their feet, but for the economy as a whole,”
From Roll Call

This effort seems to be the main reason (besides the ongoing decline in labor participation rate) for the recent decline in unemployment.

The Impact of Unemployment Benefit Extensions on Employment: The 2014 Employment Miracle?

It is not clear-cut that he is taking credit, but he sure is't claiming that it is in spite of his efforts.

"Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999," Obama said to applause. "Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis."
CNS News (Quotes are also available in the transcript from the 2015 State of the union address.)

Interesting side note: from Wikipedia

The cognate of chutzpah in Classical Arabic, ḥaṣāfah (حصافة), does not mean "impudence" or "cheekiness" or anything similar, but rather "sound judgment".[3]

Friday, March 06, 2015

Unnecessary Violence Problem Solved

According to President Obama:

“As long as you can go in some neighborhoods and it is easier for you to buy a firearm than it is for you to buy a book, there are neighborhoods where it is easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable, as long as that’s the case, we’re going to continue to see unnecessary violence,”
The Blaze

Since there are no neighborhoods where it is easier to buy a firearm than a book or vegetable, I guess we will not continue to see unnecessary violence.

Unnecessary? I guess we will only see the necessary violence that we really need.

Clips? I think he means a magazine. I never saw ammunition on a clip outside of the Marine Corps. That was rifle ammunition, is pistol ammo on a clip even a thing?