Tuesday, August 08, 2017

We Are The Heroes (in the story we tell ourselves)

Did you ever notice that opposition to president Obama's agenda was invariably described as "obstruction" by leftists. How do they describe their opposition to president Trump's agenda? Resistance!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Living The Simulated Life

A couple of mornings ago, I was browsing social media and came across a video of a bicyclist being clipped by a car. The rider was okay and all were in full dudgeon to catch the driver and see him punished. An odd thing I noticed about the video is that the biker was within an arms-length of the center of what looked like a kind of highway. Not saying it is okay to run people over, but WTF is a cyclist doing out in the middle of a high speed roadway? He may have a right to do this (or may not) but getting hit by a car is predictable, inevitable and he might not be so lucky to walk away from the next instance. There will be a next instance if he habitually rides in the middle of a road.

That very day, I was driving to work in our Yukon XL and there is a place where I make a left turn, which is something of a hard-left, say 100 degrees rather than the usual 90. Making it worse is that this is a busy main road and right after that intersection, the continuing road curves to the right. You have to do the whole turn pretty fast and/or be prepared to stop suddenly if an oncoming car appears from around the corner. With my turn signal on and half-way through the turn, I saw something to my left out of the corner of my eye--a bicyclist! He was going about 25 mph and cut in front of me! I had hardly reached the brake and he had already gone past me into the main road. I suspect he had the timing down and figured there would be space between us since we were both turning left. Still, I don't cut through corners and this is a large vehicle, so I doubt he cleared me by even two feet. Since he was to my left, he could likely see down the main road better than I could and cars move fast through there, so he could easily have been flattened by an oncoming car.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Perfect Moment

It was the perfect little moment:

Wimbledon quarterfinal 5th set with Murray v. Querrey. Understandably, given the venue, the crowd was on the side of the Scottish player. Querrey had just made another of his amazing points and the camera panned to the crowd. A lady was clapping, but most people were not. She stopped, looked around and put up her hands. She used no words, but could not have been more clear: What? We all know it was a terrific point.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

4th Of July Physical Activity

It was with some trepidation that I signed up for the John Carson 2-miler this year: Groton was a disaster and I was not sure if I was permanently broken.

The race went well. I was dropped off at the start the perfect 30 minutes early. This was enough time to stroll around and then gradually warm up for 20 minutes. The day was hot, but not unbearably so and I was in a full sweat at the start. This is a good sign that you are properly warm for such a short race.

The first half-mile is a s-show, with lots of little kids placing themselves in the front of the 2,000 runner pack and able to maintain the pace for 200-300 yards and then stopping when they get tired. I was at 3:33 at the end of the first half-mile and happy with the pace even though it was three seconds slower than my goal of being under 14:00 overall. Between the crowded field and the generally uphill trend, these three seconds would be made back up.

The end of the first mile was right at 7:00. So I made up the three seconds, now to power my way in to the end! I finished in 13:47 for a solidly negative split. Not my best time, but better than last year and in the sixes. I was 10th out of 103 in my age/gender group.

I grabbed a water ate a wedge of watermelon, had a chat with Adam and Zach--who finished about a minute ahead of me and jogged home on the bike path, while munching on Lay's Potato Chips.

Cooled down and hydrated at home, showered, ate a bagel (that we picked up in the same plaza as the start of the race) and then got the potato salad made. Finally, with a heavy heart, I went to the basement to do my lifting: Tuesday is a lifting day, but not normally a running day, let alone a race day!

I decided I would be happy with 135 lbs in the clean and jerk. 115 lbs easy, 125 lbs equally easy, 135 lbs easy--success for the day, 145 lbs easy. 150 lbs, got tangled in the bar and dropped the weight, fine, try again. Made it easily. Okay, should I try the rare (made once this year) 155? Yes, try! D'Oh! Did not extend far enough and the bar was too far out in front of me to get fully under it. Try again. Effortless! If you get your weight and timing perfect, it makes a huge difference. I put it over my head and called it a day.

It was a day which would later feature hamburgers, bbq spareribs, potato salad and fireworks. So a very good day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Two Hoes


That's what I would have called it. Norman Rockwell called it The Girls Back Home.

Square!

Update: Two Heaux

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Swift Would Have Understood

When I was a kid and read Gulliver's Travels, there was a part where the Lilliputians tailor a suit for Gulliver by measuring his thumb and multiplying by various amounts to figure out all the dimensions. At the time, I thought "Brilliant"! Later, it was obvious that Swift was making a joke--one which was lost (well, I had an inkling at the time) on my 12-year old self. Nowadays, adults take this kind of logic seriously. Really!

Take the central dogma of climate change: Man is increasing CO2 levels->Increased temperature->Specific (always detrimental) changes in climate->The One-And-Only Solution->Make tiny decreases in the rate at which we increase our CO2 output*. The base stealing goes on in the latter claims: The first couple of things are certain (one can quibble about the degree) but the final bits range from speculative to almost certainly untrue. We can use the scientific method to measure CO2 and temperature changes. Models about what changes in temperature would do to climate are theoretically possible, but I would not put any faith in them until they have established a track-record of predictive accuracy. A prescription for a course to take, falls almost completely outside of Science. There is an infinite set of possible solutions, the application of science and engineering can be used to evaluate their merrits, but one will notice that none of this has happened! It (reducing CO2 emissions) was landed on as if it was the one and only possible solution.

*Really! The vaunted Paris Accords call for cuts in the output of industrialized nations, while 3rd world countries actually increase their CO2 output. Even if every country made a massive cut of 50%, we would still be adding to the total amount in the atmosphere! If there is already too much there, how is adding more any kind of solution?

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 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?"

Hillary:

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.