Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In what may well be the final post of the year...

Thanks for my 4 readers, maybe in 2009 I will pick-up a 5th.

I pledge to try and post in 2009 more than the 368 times I did in 2008, though I have kind of run out of things to write about.

Oh yes! I will spend my leap-second thinking about this:

He is nigh-invincible.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas montage

A fetching Christmas package from my younger sister's family.

Opening presents...

These creche figures look slightly Chinese. They are from China...

The kids love to decorate sugar cookies the day before Christmas.

" Bassenian said he doesn't take lightly the task of creating a built-in environment for people millions of miles away."

All I can say is, I hope Bassenian doesn't design anything requiring lots (or actually any) math.

The title quote is from an interesting story about suburbs in foreign countries.

Architects create American-style suburbs overseas

Dec 26 01:01 PM US/Eastern


Associated Press Writer

Friday, December 26, 2008

Roast Beef Sandwich Au Jus

I love the period between Christmas and New Year's Day.

There are lots of days off to have a relaxing lunch at home and there is an ingredient available for a really great classic sandwich.

We normally will have a prime rib roast of beef for Christmas dinner, this is the perfect cut for Roast Beef Sandwich Au Jus.

It is simple to make: Just slice beef and place between bread. The hardest part is making the broth. Instant bouillon is easy and plenty good, but it is best is to use actual drippings from the roast itself.

A meal of sandwich, broth and either a beer or hard cider is perfection on a cold Winter day. Especially if one has just spent time out of doors skiing or sledding or splitting firewood.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Massive shoe buy...

I like to purchase several pairs of running shoes per visit to the store. It saves me time and by wearing lots of different shoes, I hope to stave-off injury.

I got such a deal at Kohl's

I had a 30% off coupon that they sent me in the mail and that was all the motive I needed. The nice thing was that all the shoes were on sale.

The list price for all five was $309.96, but since they were all on sale it came to $211.91, then the 30% discount brought it to $148.33.

But it gets even better: I also got a $30 coupon good for anything in the store on my next visit, so effectively the total is $118.43 for one pair each of; Nike, newbalance, Fila, Avia and asics. I should be good right into the heart of Summer.

ADDED: I haven't been running much, what with ice storms, snow storms, broken-down dogs and broken-down cars. Maybe new shoes will get me out the door. Two pair will be for the office, two for runs originating from home and one held in reserve in case a pair doesn't work-out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A nice salad

1. Layout romaine lettuce and red onion on each plate.

2. Sprinkle on some cranberry sauce, garnish the edges with some nice olives and dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

3. Add heated roast duck, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Throw on a few candied walnuts and crumble Stilton cheese over the top.

5. Enjoy with some nice artisan bread.

Note: You may notice from the picture that there is another ingredient present but not listed. We like a bit of heat, so there are sliced cherry peppers in ours.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Science and distant relatives

Over the past weekend I had the pleasure of spending some time with relatives of my wife. A couple that I met for the first time, I had a lot to talk about: The husband is a scientist at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and so it was a great chance for me to talk science. I have been out of research for 7 years, so he probably didn't get anything out of it, but I learned a lot and really enjoyed our conversations. The wife has a lot in common with me too. She just took up marathon running and is working on an MBA. I finished mine a while ago, but we still had lots of notes to compare.

Oh, also their twin girls are the same age as our youngest girl and my sister had twin girls; so there was lots of kid-stuff to talk about. So just what do I mean by distant relatives? Okay, here is how they are related...

Step 1. My wife's cousin: Me to my wife, then her to her mom, her mom to a sibling and then that sibling to her daughter (The Cousin).

Step 2. The cousin's husband.

Step 3. The husband's sister is the wife from above and of course, her husband is the scientist.

If you count it all up, there are 7 degrees of separation between me and the scientist. I am pretty sure there is a shorter path too: When I worked for Affymetrix I dealt with scientists at Roswell Park, so that would be only 2 or three degrees of separation.

In The Land of Coincidence

The other day I noted how I ran into my next-door neighbor at the hardware store. He was his usual cheery self and gave me some sound plumbing advice. Now, a few days later I met his ex-wife for the first time.

There were three of us in the vet's procedure room, plus the dog. While the doctor was off preparing a debridment solution of betadine and sucrose, the assistant and I were chatting. I was telling her how we were staying at our in-laws due to the power outage and their house is set very close to a busy road--which Meenah chose to dash across. Then I started-in with how our road is a dead-end and the houses are far back from the road. She said, "Oh yes, I know. My son lives next door to you." Given her apparent age, I figured she was the mom of the boy next door, not the man. So, I replied, "So, you must be xxx's ex-wife"? Yes.

Small world.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Night and day

Actually, flash and no flash...

This year, with everything going on; we just decided to find a likely-looking victim in our own yard. I think it was actually once a shrub, which went feral since the foliage is identical to some shrubs in the front of our house.

Meenah The Gimp

Getting geared-up for Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A day of chores around houses...

The first part of the day started out well: I went to my in-laws to put together a couple of chairs they had ordered. It went fine since we had put together the first two over the weekend, so we already knew how. I had thought to save time by bringing my drill and a hacksaw. The chairs are held together by a bunch of Allen bolts, so I planned to sacrifice one wrench to make a bit for the drill. The hacksaw wouldn't make a dent in the wrench though.

After this I helped my Father-in-law put in a new light switch. This was very easy since he had all the tools ready, had purchased the right replacement part and knew which breaker to shut off.

The whole trip was kind of a two-fer since they live right by the hardware store and I needed to go there for a pail of plaster and a new kitchen faucet.

It was once I got home that things started to go South. I have installed new faucets before and am aware of what a pain it is. The main problem is that all the connections are up behind the sink which means that you have hardly any space to work between the wall and the back of the sink--everything is in this dark narrow crevice. The only way to reach it is to lay on your back inside of the cabinet. This is uncomfortable and every bit of rust, debris and water that comes from the work lands right in your face. All of the above was the routine and expected kind of hardship which goes with the job.

The next part was special bonus hardship. The existing couplings were an old fashioned copper compression fit and would have to be bent into the shape of a capitol N to meet with the faucet inlets. A really good plumber could have probably made this work and I tried even though I knew what the outcome would be. So, back to the hardware store for retrofit items. The guys in the store were helpful in that they spent some time trying to line-up the right parts for me, but they really didn't have a clue. After about 30 minutes of poking around, I was pretty sure that I knew what I needed to get. Just then my next-door neighbor (a former plumber) came in, and offered to help. I described the problem and he led me right to the parts I had figured would work. Having a concurring 2nd opinion filled me with confidence and I went home with my parts.

I always face a soldering job with trepidation, but this time it all went easily and quick. The faucet is in and an annoying leak is gone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bernie Madoff and the 50 Billion Dollars

Poof! 50 Billion Dollars have disappeared. Where did they go?

I think it is safe to say that Bernie Madoff does not have a secret vault with 50 Billion in gold, so where is it?

1. The idea of a Ponzi scheme is that early investors make great returns and this encourages more investors to put money in. The problem is that the "gains" of the early investors are paid by the contributions of the latter investors. So some of the loss is just a function of a zero-sum-game: Some people lost money and others gained money.

2. The news stories lack sufficient detail to really know, but I suspect that the 50 Billion amount is not based upon what was payed-in, but rather on the values claimed on investor's statements. This value was always just a fiction, but if you pulled your money out a few months ago they would have payed-out the full statement value.

3. Trading losses: Madoff's company had to put the money somewhere and given the market conditions, they probably did loose whatever money they actually had in real financial markets.

Other thoughts:

Did Bernie Madoff think he could just keep this scam going forever? He did keep it going for decades, so maybe that was in fact his plan. I would have trouble sleeping at night with a plan like that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five days without power--how about some pretty ice-storm pictures?

A big oak branch crashed to the ground in the back corner of the yard, just as I left for work. The icy coating is very pretty. It looks just like glass. This branch shattered when it hit the ground. It happened just as my wife was trying to get the dog to go out for her morning "rounds".

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another ice storm--oh no!

A few years back, when we lived in Vermont, we endured an ice storm. We had no electricity for about 5 days. That house had a wood stove, so we could cook and keep the house warm. The main problems were related to water: We had well-water, so no water pressure for the duration and we had water leaking into the basement with no power for the sump-pumps.

This time we faced different problems. We have city water and the hot water heater is gas, so we have hot & cold running water. The basement is dry and we don't even own a sump-pump. The only way to heat the house is by the gas range (which works, but you have to light it manually) and the fireplace (which doesn't help much for the whole house, but makes that one room very nice).

My wife stayed home with the kids on Friday and she took a bunch of pictures which I will post once we have power back.


Sunday 6:00 PM--still no power. Houses which are tantalizingly close, do have power. I have seen hardly any utility crews, but they are out there making progress.

Update 2:

Tuesday morning--Still no power. The morning news said there are still around 70,000homes and businesses without power. This is down from the more than 200,000 in our state without power at the end of the storm. So they have fixed 2/3 of the problem and all resources are concentrated in 1/3 of the original area.

Friday, December 12, 2008

High speed approach technique

I have flown a lot over the years and I have noticed that pilots do not all handle the final bit of a flight in the same way.

What it seems like some do is they cruise at altitude until pretty close to the end and then they throttle-back and let the plane loose altitude as they approach the destination airport.

Other pilots start their descent from further out. They keep the engines on roughly cruising power (based on the sound) and the descent is more gradual in terms of lost altitude (based on ear-pressure) and the air-speed is kept high.

To me, the second method seems better. They are using altitude gained at great expense in the start of the trip to get something back: Speed at the end of the trip.

It could be deceptive though. The sound of the wind rushing past the fuselage makes me think we are going faster on the high speed descent. But the air is thicker as you descend, so that could be the source of the added sound. It is easy to think of ways of testing which method is superior: Just set the engines to burn at the same rate and fly both profiles. If they use the same fuel, but one gets there faster, then it is a better method.

I haven't kept good (or any) records, but anecdotaly it seems as if the high speed approach is used more when the flight is running late and the slow approach when the flight is ahead of schedule.


You cannot exceed C, but you can feel like you are...

Actually you can't even do that.

The technology is a long, long way off to be able to accelerate at one G for more than a few minutes. Let's just say though that in the distant future there will be energy sources sufficient to accelerate at one G for months at a time.

If you could maintain this kind of acceleration for around one year, you would be going around 99% of the speed of light.

If you were going on a journey of 20 light-years' distance, in the first year you would cover about 0.5 light-years. Due to Lorentz contraction, over the period of acceleration, the distance will appear to shrink to only one tenth the original distance. So, the destination will now appear to be only 1.95 light years away.

If the destination looked 20 light years away at the start of the trip, but only looks 1.95 after one year, then it will appear to the passengers on this ship that they have covered some 18 light years in one year. Actually, less than a year for them since by the end of it, time will be moving only one tenth as fast as at the beginning.

It would all be spoiled if they looked back at their starting point: That 1/2 light year will have also contracted to 1/20th of a light year and so it will seem to them that they are making woefully slow progress getting away from the starting point.

What would be really odd is if they decided to decelerate over the course of the next year: The whole time they would be moving toward the destination and yet it would look as if it went from 1.95 LY distant to 19 LY distant over the one year period. The starting point too would go from looking .05 LY to 1.0 LY. Both would appear to be getting more distant! Odd stuff.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Why not see how far you can go too.

This profile is like that of Virgin Galactic's: It just goes up and then glides down back to the starting point. My bet is that more people would pay for the experience if they could go from L.A to N.Y.C. in 40 minutes, in addition to all the going into space stuff.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Seasonal Rolls

6 year old, Jemma was asking for Chinese food tonight and my wife was trying to ascertain what she likes...

You like noodles? Yeah.

Egg rolls? No. I like those um Winter..

Ah, yes.

Spring Rolls!

Later, we are watching a cooking show and she asks to watch, "Boy". We don't know what she means by that and so ask her to describe it. He goes to different places and tries their food.

Acha! Guy Fieri

Final update: My wife tells me that Jemma actually said "Summer" not Winter. You see how memory works? Or rather kind of fails to.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Home Made

Beef Curry with some left-over steak from the other night. Saffron Basmahti rice. The saffron came from flowers grown in our garden and collected with tweezers. A dozen bulbs-worth of crocuses made enough for one pot of rice. At least the flowers are pretty too.

Unpictured, since it was already on the table--a green salad.

Visitor from out-of-town

I haven't seen this friend for around 24 years. He was in the area for business and so it was great to get together.

There have been a lot of changes since then and this is to be expected. What was a happy surprise is how much he seems just like he did from back in the days when we were in school together. Even though our lives are filled with much more responsibility now, he is still the same easy-going guy.

Lots of coincidences too: We were both runners, but we both just ran marathons in the last couple of months after not running one since the 1980's. We each have three children, and each got a dog after never having one or growing-up with one.

Last Thanksgiving morsel

The last of the turkey meat went into this pretty pie made by my wife. She made a bunch of pie dough Thanksgiving day. I made one pie that day and three more the next day (those three went straight to the freezer).

The cheese went well with the meal and is itself very special: Cougar Gold. My wife and I met at WSU, so there is that but the cheese is objectively sublime. The fresh grapes (red are better) made a good counterpoint to the other savory offerings.

Cookie Box

A friend visiting from out of town gave us this tin of cookies. If they taste half as good as the picture on the outside, they will be delicious! Thanks!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Both are great books to read to your child.

But one is better. The chapters in Around The World in 80 Days are really short. This is good because who can't spare 5-10 minutes most nights before bed? The Hobbit, on the other hand has some very long chapters and so I wouldn't want to read unless I had half-an-hour to spare and still sometimes ended the night mid-chapter.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Gas is cheap again!

This last Summer, we took the Yukon on a couple of long trips and filling the tank was painfull. The self-service stations have limits on what you can spend, which I think they raised as a result of higher prices. So it was quite common to run into a $100 limit and still have room for a couple more gallons of fuel. Yesterday I filled the tank with something like 28 gallons and it was only a few cents over $50. What a deal!

I'm not that fanatical, look at these guys!

I use my lunch break at work to go running and I get my fair share of grief about it when I run in bad weather. Around here that can be a lot of the year. Summers of 90F and high humidity, Winters of heavy snow and rain at any time of the year.

Now, I usually don't let the weather stop me, but I do not run every day. I normally take Saturdays off for running errands. Also, it is nice to take a day off before my traditionally hardest run on Sundays.

There are people, mostly guys but some women, who have run every single day for years. Years! Every single day!

Check it.

There is a guy who has run every day, every single day since July 23rd 1968.

Compared to that guy I am barely an aficionado.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday--We get our baby fix

We missed-out on getting to see our baby nephew on Thanksgiving day, but we got invited to the cradling for the baby of some family friends. The baby was so tiny. You forget how small they are when newly born.

The brother of the mother was also there and he is always friendly and enjoyable to talk to. We got to meet his fiancee, Beth is her name and she is incredibly sweet. Her whole family was there as well: A sister who looks a lot like her, only brunette instead of blond and her parents, who were very pleasant and engaging folks.

Surenna noticed the piano right away and asked for permission to play. She studies the violin, but is able to pick-through songs on other instruments. They had a songbook with the page opened to Ach Du Lieber Augustine and she had fun working through that.

The IKEA store is a long way from our home, but more-or-less right on the way to the friends' place in Plymouth, so we had the grandparents take the kids to the party and my wife and I took the Yukon, with a stop at the store. It was a productive trip, we got tons of cabinets and such for the new room we are working on. Now we will have to redouble our efforts and get that project done! IKEA stores, in case you have never been to one are huge and designed like a maze--you have to go past every department in order to get from the entrance to the check-out. The thing is that it is a kind of nice maze and so you don't mind so much going through it. It does eat up a lot of time though. Don't go unless you need a lot of stuff. Or if you don't mind spending two hours buying three coffee cups.

Thanksgiving misc.

The day was really very laid-back. My wife's brother and his wife were going to come, but had to cancel as their baby was sick. So all we had was us 5 plus my wife's parents. We did some things differently as a result of this:

We didn't stress-out about the meal being in the early afternoon, which made the day more relaxing. I even managed to do some yard work--prune the roses, dig-up the dahlias, put the picnic table into mothballs and rake the leaves away from the crocuses. We all had time to go for a bike ride/walk (some of us rode, some walked) to the Byam School.

Normally I would cook two small turkeys; One in the oven and one on the charcoal grill for that smoky taste. This year I did just one. I have also added another tradition to the mix--focaccia, as a snack around lunch time. My grandmother, who was as we say, "off the boat" made this lovely savory bread all the time. Although she always called it pizza. It is really great and I make a batch of dough anyway for rolls, so it isn't much extra work.

We missed-out on getting to see the little cute baby, but we had a quiet, happy thanksgiving.

Sunday Marathon Training

Kind of a mixed bag today:

1. A couple of miles after I left home it began to sleet and it kept it up the whole way.

2. I pushed much harder than I had been and it seemed to have an effect. Last week I ran 8:45 miles (IIRC) and today it was 8:27.

3. This is the 4th time I have run this same route and today I took a wrong turn. It took me around 0.35 miles to figure this out, so the run was more than 19.5 miles. Maybe my brain was addled by fatigue and cold, which is why I missed my turn. The kicker is that the correct road was only like 10-15 yards past where I went. I could (have) see(n) it from where I turned.

4. The iPod really helps. I don't usually wear it for such long runs because I am afraid that I will get sick of listening to music and then it will be dead weight from that point-on.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Nice Story

Via The Corner:

This is a good story. If a tear comes to your eyes — it's OK.

By Catherine Moore

'Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!' My father yelled at me. 'Can't you do anything right?' Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.

'I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving.' My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess. The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived.

But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind. But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered. In vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, 'I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.' I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons, too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog. 'Can you tell me about him?' The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement.

'He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him, that was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.' He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. 'You mean you're going to kill him?'

'Ma'am,' he said gently, 'that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog.'

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. 'I'll take him,' I said.

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch.

'Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!' I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. 'If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it' Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples.

'You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!' Dad ignored me. 'Did you hear me, Dad?' I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.

We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne 's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. 'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.'

'I've often thanked God for sending that angel,' he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article.

Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter … his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father … and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all. Life is too short for drama & petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time.

Please share this with someone.

Wednesday training

10.32 mile tempo run. 83:59. Around 8:08 per mile. I really should be pushing myself harder. April 20th approaches...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008


Obama Names Bill Clinton to Presidential Post

WASHINGTON DC - Ending weeks of speculation and rumors, President-Elect Barack Obama today named Bill Clinton to join his incoming administration as President of the United States, where he will head the federal government's executive branch.

Click title for Iowahawk's full post...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Marathon Training

I finally got my running watch to work--needed a new battery. Again. 2:46:30 which gives a pretty slow time of around 8:45/mile. I am starting to doubt the time I just ran last month--Did I imagine it all?

UPDATE: Ran 3.54 miles at lunch today at a 7:45 pace. It felt like a dash! Hard to believe that I maintained a faster pace for the first 18 miles or so of the Bay State Marathon last month.

Time for a Fisking

Time for Him to Go


Published: November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving is next week, and President Bush could make it a really special holiday by resigning.

Seriously. We have an economy that’s crashing and a vacuum at the top....Blah, blah blah. Yes Bush like all the other presidents since the 20th amendment are lame ducks and it is suddenly a problem now because? Anybody? Buhler? Ah, yes! It is a problem now because a D is replacing an R. Got it.

Putting Barack Obama in charge immediately isn’t impossible. Dick Cheney, obviously, would have to quit as well as Bush. In fact, just to be on the safe side, the vice president ought to turn in his resignation first. (We’re desperate, but not crazy.) Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would become president until Jan. 20. Obviously, she’d defer to her party’s incoming chief executive, and Barack Obama could begin governing...

And now, back from liberal fantasy land: Why should Bush and Cheney go along with this scheme? They undoubtedly think the country would have been better off with McCain winning, so the later Obama takes over the better.

Can I see a show of hands? How many people want George W. out and Barack in? Just guessing here, but I would bet that almost all of the 58 million votes for McCain would be against this. And this isn't even counting all the people who are already regretting their votes for Obama.

A great many Americans have been counting the days all year on their 2008 George W. Bush Out of Office Countdown calendars. I know a bunch of people like this. They seriously entertained the idea that Bush was a dictator who would never give-up power . Now the same people think he would give it up early? So what is it? Lack of memory or cognitive dissonance?

In the past, presidents have not taken well to suggestions that they hand over the reins before the last possible minute. Senator J. William Fulbright suggested a plan along those lines when Harry Truman was coming to the end of a term in a state of deep unpopularity, and Truman called him “Halfbright” for the rest of his life. Bush might not love the idea of quitting before he has a chance to light the Christmas tree or commute the execution of one last presidential turkey. After all, he still has a couple more trips planned. And last-minute regulations to issue. Are you trying to get him to go or to stay?

On the other hand, he might want to consider his legacy, such as it is. Because, nothing says success like quitting early.

“Doing nothing is almost the worst thing a president can do,” said the historian Michael Beschloss. Actually, most conservatives' fondest hope is that the president will do as little as possible. 9 out of 10 problems will solve themselves, but any problem "solved" by government, will likely either make the problem worse, permanent, or create two other equally bad ones.

Time for a change. Yes, the Times need a change: They need sane editorialists for a start.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Best comment in a thread about tattoos..

EDH says it best:

...I've developed a theory about tattoos and tattoo placement: Anyone accused of crime that has a tattoo on their neck is guilty, if not the crime charged, something.

Child Labor in 2008

The factory, just before the day-shift shows up.

The sweatshop in full-swing...

Product, ready to ship.

November Ice

The slab of ice I fished out of the pond behind me was a good 2 inches thick. You can tell from the ice stuck to bushes and higher ground, that when this ice formed the water elevation was maybe 15 inches higher than it is at the time of this picture.

A Latin Translation of an Earlier Post.

Translator here.

1. Is est valde pro nostrum populus ut nos denique got a niger praesieo. Is est a dedecus is had futurus unus quisnam ( in paper utique ) videor habeo parum relevant usus quod est recedentia ut left of plurimus Americans.

2. Totus of institutio matrimonium proventus inter rus ruris obduco. EGO don't have a ingens penitus in proventus , tamen is est nam a subcribo ut nos es etiam a center / vox terra.

3. Si McCain had won , tunc is would exsisto 12 annus of Res publica sceptrum obvius Niveus Domus. Illic est haud via a Res publica could have won in 2012, iam is mos plerumque pendeo in quam puteus Obama does.

4. Obama may exsisto an novus lefty , tamen sit a velox bulla. Sit valde perspicuus quod should polleo surgo ut volo velociter. Aut via January 20th palaestra rota adveho off.

The problem with tatoos..

This would make a cool tattoo, problem is that I don't practice Kung Fu and even if I did, could I be sure that I would stay interested for life? Because that is how long the tattoo will last...

Image from here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Type of Blog am I ?

This site allows you to analyze your blog.

Not sure how accurate it is, but interesting nonetheless.

Sorry about the weird-looking graphic. I had to convert the file 5-ways to Wednesday to get it into postable format. Yes, am aware of snagit, but my trial ran out..

Here is the type given in words:

ESTP - The Doers

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Marathon Training

Same as last Sunday, except I ran it in the opposite direction. Thrilling, I know. Distance: Around 30K, Time: around 160 minutes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A day off and some errands around the house...

My wife had been asking for a coat rack by the back door. I took a piece of cherry, cut it to size, planed the corners and then put a little linseed oil on it. The hooks are solid brass and only a couple of bucks each from the hardware store.

Update: What pleased me the most about this project was that it took so little time and yet the result was pretty good. Not counting the time spent to go to the hardware store, (It wouldn't be fair to count the time picking up the hooks since I got three other things there, had a haircut next door and visited the package store across the street), the whole project was maybe 45 minutes and even if I bought a coat rack I would have still spent 20-30 minutes mounting it.

How is this thing mounted to the wall? Hint, it is not attached from the back like a picture frame.

I used anchor bolts...Mounted from under the hooks. I just counter-sunk the heads so that the hook flanges could still be flush mounted.

I organized the pot-lids with eye-hook screws.

My thumb does not have a nasty scab on it. That is a rust mark on the lid. You can tell because the "scab" is only on the reflection.

Now that I see these pictures, I think that the inside of the cabinets need to be painted.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A fun game and it teaches physics too


Just click on the link to play...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Great movie, loved it, but this is not a movie review. I just wanted to point to something which troubled me throughout the film.

In the late great TV series Arrested Development Michael Cera and Jason Bateman play son and father and are the center of the story. In this film, the actors are both in it and yet are never in a scene together. It just gave an odd feeling, like will they meet? How will they interact if/when they do?

It gave the same feeling one might get when two of the actors in a film are married in real life.

Sunday Marathon Training

The five towns are: Chelmsford, Carlisle, Concord, Acton & Westford.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Shampoo Conservation

Probably a lot of other people do this little trick too, but I am sure that plenty do not.

Whenever a shampoo bottle is "empty" my wife will put it on top of the shower enclosure so that she will see it later and throw it into the recycle bin. What I do in the couple of days before she actually removes it, is use it some more. I take the cap off and fill it with about half a cup of water, then I swirl it around to dissolve the remaining product. This method will usually give me a couple of hair washings.

The fact that I can do this is proof that she does not do it and she is pretty smart*--Masters in Biochemistry after all. In fairness, she has much more hair on her head than I do and so it takes much more shampoo to wash. The remainders are plenty for me but probably wouldn't make a dent in what she needs.

This "shampoo conservation" as I call it may seem insignificant, but it all adds up: If it saved one bottle of shampoo over a lifetime (and it probably saves more than that), it would save 300 million bottles of shampoo in the United States alone. Prices are pretty variable, but this could represent a billion dollars. This is a drop in the bucket for an economy well-north of 10 trillion. On the other hand, I could live quite well for the rest of my life on 1% of a billion (10 million dollars).

Spread-out over a lifetime it shouldn't make a dent in profits for makers. So hopefully, nobody from this secret society

will come and break my kneecaps. Heck, nobody reads this thing anyway!

*She is also pretty conservation-minded: She will extract the last molecule of toothpaste out of the tube before throwing it out. It is almost a contest with us, who can get one last use out of a tube. She wins this pretty often given that my hands are much stronger than hers.

Typical Dinner Conversation, while watching the food channel...

Wife: Someday I want to go to culinary institute and become a chef.

Husband: Someday you should go to a mental institute and become a patient.

Wife: You think I'm crazy?

Husband: No. Just too good a setup to leave alone.

Post of the day at "The Corner" and it is only 7:30

Hilarious [Jonah Goldberg]

Michael Graham forwarded me this.

From CBS MarketWatch:

How Obama Can Win Over The Media

Next in the series: "How Obama Can Win Over Blacks, Upscale White Liberals and Chicago Activists."

11/08 07:35 AM

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Not Happy, Not Happy At All...

So, Mamma gave me a bath today. Now I have to wear this humiliating get-up to go for a walk, just because the ground is still wet?

A dog's life: One assault on my dignity after another...


From a little distance Hope and the initials for High Density Polyethelyne look a lot alike. Up close you can tell the difference.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Looking on the bright side...

1. It is great for our nation that we finally got a black president. It is a shame it had to be one who (on paper at least) seems to have little relevant experience and is far to the left of most Americans.

2. All of the traditional marriage issues around the country passed. I don't have a huge interest in the issue, but it is surely a sign that we are still a center/right land.

3. If McCain had won, then it would be 12 years of Republican rule in the White House. There is no way a Republican could have won in 2012, now it will mostly depend on how well Obama does.

4. Obama may be an inexperienced lefty, but he is a quick study. He is very bright and should be able to get up to speed quickly. Either way, January 20th the training wheels come off.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Obama supporters of two types

To those on the left-hand side of the Democratic party, a vote for Senator Obama is totally rational. He is as liberal a candidate as his party has run in recent history. This article is not for you, if you fit into the above category. This is for a class of Obama supporter which can be represented by Christopher Buckley:

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

I think these people are mistaken when they think Obama will be pragmatic: Here are two reasons why.

1. In the April 16th Democratic debate, Charles Gibson pointed-out that when cap gains tax rates are lowered, the government takes in more revenue. Obama responded (to the effect) that it was a matter of "fairness". This is not the mind of a pragmatic person.

2. History: Back when Bill Clinton was first elected President, he too had a Democratic Congress. He tried to finesse a progressive agenda. It didn't work. The things he got done were not all that radical, but they were radical enough to loose him both houses of Congress. The only significant legislative accomplishments from then on were moderate/conservative in nature (Nafta and Welfare Reform). He never got another chance to push-forward anything remotely progressive.

Obama is smart enough to realize that if he does what Clinton did, he will have no legacy. If he rams-through big stuff in the first two years it won't matter if Congress goes Republican. The Republicans will not get veto-proof majorities and will thus not be able to reverse any of what he does in the first two years.

The pragmatic camp will regret their hope that Obama doesn't mean to do what he has promised to do.

ADDED: Yes, I know that Obama's 180 on taking public financing argue that he is indeed pragmatic. Yes, if pragmatic=dishonest. This only benefited him personally, as I have argued above; he will not gain anything from being pragmatic once in office.

new longish run

I hate to run out and back; I much prefer loops, so I had to look at a number of options when running down toward Concord. As it was, I wish I had gone a little further South since I had plenty of energy left at the end of this run.

This is the eternal problem with long runs: You need to develop long range endurance and so it is the last 6 miles of a 20 mile run that are doing you good. So, it is a total pain to do the first 14 since they are basically just prep-work. They don't feel like prep work, just work! I could feel at the end of this run that I was just getting to glycogen depletion and switching over to fatty-acid metabolism. It is not an on-off switch, "the wall" notwithstanding.

Practical matters intervened in that my wife needed to be out of the house by 11:45 and I didn't want the kids left unattended any longer than necessary, but still, an extra 40 minutes would have put me into the 20 mile range and would have done me a lot of good.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Better asthetics--More honest

On a jog through Bedford last week I saw signs for Obama that looked like this.

There are two reasons to like this design more than the more common one with the swooshie thing in the O.

1. The red star is better looking.

2. The red star traditionally represents Communism, so it might well turn out to be a more honest sign. Which is good. Can't say we weren't warned and all.

Friday, October 31, 2008

This is Halloween

Yes, She barked each and every time the door bell rang.

The girl holding her own head is too cute to be scary.

Meant to be a devil holding his own head. I am more artistic in my head than my hands...

Meant to look like Stewie Griffin.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Math...Sort of...

Before I had decided to run in the Bay State Marathon, I was considering running in the Cape Cod Marathon. The CCM is one week after the BSM, so they are both at the perfect time of the year here in New England for marathon running.

I ended up choosing the BSM entirely because it is very close and convenient to where we live, in fact part of the race is in our town.

Partly as a result of almost running the CCM and that it was only a week after my run, so I still had marathon running on my mind, I was interested in seeing the results.

2008 Cape Cod Marathon--899 finishers, 20th percentile time 3:41

2007 Cape Cod Marathon--1006 finishers, 20th percentile time 3:33

2008 Bay State Marathon--1195 finishers 20th percentile time 3:19

2007 Bay State Marathon--717 finishers 20th percentile time 3:24


1. The CCM is smaller this year than last, while the BSM got bigger this year.

2. The BSM is faster than the CCM.

3. In both cases, the larger field had faster times.

Here is my all-purpose hypothesis. This year, the BSM was selected as a New England championship race. This would account for the larger field this year as well as the faster times. It may be that we can divide runners into elite runners and local runners (there is lots of overlap between the groups). So when a field is larger or smaller than normal it is due to the presence or absence of the elites. The elites are by definition faster and so a large field gives a faster times.

Update: I am tempted to run the Cape Cod next year since it would be fun to place in the top 10% (as I would have this year with my time in the BSM), instead of the top 25% in the BSM. On the other hand, the CCM course might just be a lot harder; if I placed at the 25th percentile in it this year, I would have missed qualifying for Boston by 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Too good to not repost

This is from National Review's The Corner

Keeping Brothers & Sisters [Jonah Goldberg]

From a reader:

For crying out loud: there IS no "Biblical injunction" to be one's brother's keeper. The phrase only occurs once, in the Old Testament, and was a one-line attempt by Cain to deflect God's rhetorical query as to the whereabouts of his (murdered) brother. God neither spoke it Himself nor replied to Cain's asking of it. He instead immediately turned to punishing Cain for the murder of his brother.

We as individuals are enjoined to have charity toward the poor and misfortunate, which in Biblical times were almost always the physically and mentally handicapped. Also, both the Old Testament and the New Testament address responsibility as to family members or church officers looking after widows and their minor children. However, even those calls to charity are never extended to able-bodied adult "brothers" (or sisters, for that matter).

Paul in 2 Thess 3:10-12 says, "10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat. 11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat." (KJV)

Jesus in Mark 14:7 - "The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me." (NIV) (italics mine)

Update: From a reader:


Re: "Again, I’ll start by noting an incidental incoherence. If individualism is the way to go, where is the self-evident rightness in the biblical injunction to be our brother’s keeper?"

As a Christian myself, I find no incoherence between individualism and the injunction to be my brother's keeper. The key to the puzzle that Holbo finds so insoluble is simple: free will. WE are commanded to help our neighbor. We are NOT commanded to force some of our neighbors to help other neighbors.

The Charity commanded in the Bible (not compelled, you'll notice - God invented free will) blesses all sides of the transaction. The giver is blessed by God, and by the joy that comes from choosing to help someone. The receiver is blessed by, not just the gift, but the knowledge that it was freely given by someone who cared about them and their situation.

Forced "charity" destroys all parts of that equation, creating feelings of resentment on one side, and entitlement on the other. And there in the middle? A massive and overly intrusive government that gets to pick and choose the "Haves" and the "Should Haves" . That's not giving. That's just taking . And that has a Commandment all to itself.

Update II: The first emailer adds:

Just saw this up on the Corner site - wow, never expected that! One thing, though, and it's my bad - both quotes are NIV (I have KJV on the first one).Best wishes and thanks for all the great writing!

I especially like what the second writer has said. In essence what the government does by taking over the charitable function is turn the gold of charity into the lead of faceless bureaucracy. Not to mention the loss of efficiency in replacing a free-market system with centrally-planned one-size-fits-all solutions.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Press Bias, Example # 2,718,281...

Bias is not just in how a story gets told, it is also in what stories get told and in what stories don't get told.

Google search for "palin wardrobe cost" gives 608 news stories.

Google search for "obama hawaii trip cost" gives 87 hits, only one of which was about the expense for these trips to Hawaii. The rest were just stories which had the word "cost" in them and mentioned that he went to Hawaii. A perusal of the first couple of pages of palin hits showed that almost all of the stories were about the excessive ($150,000) cost of her wardrobe. This, inspite of the fact that each trip Obama took to Hawaii cost several times as much (about $400K each time).

Here is the one story I could find on The One's Hawaii junkets...Newsmax.

From the Chicago public radio interview...

I just want to do a little deconstruction on the below bolded part of the quote.

In normal usage "I'm not optimisic about.." would imply that the thing I want is not likely to happen. For example, say I had gotten a blood test for cholesterol. I hope my level is low, but worry that it might be high. Would I say:

"I am not optimistic that my levels will be low".


"I am not optimistic that my levels will be high".

..... Karen (Caller): The gentleman made the point that the Warren Court wasn't terribly radical with economic changes. My question is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically, and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place? Host: You mean the courts? Karen: The courts, or would it be legislation at this point? Obama: Maybe I'm showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. Y'know, the institution just isn't structured that way. You look at very rare examples where during the desegregation era where the court, for example, was willing to, for example, order changes that cost money to local school districts, and the court was very uncomfortable with it. It was hard to manage, it was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, y'know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time. The court's just not very good at it, and politically it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So, I mean, I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, y'know I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts. .....

He gets on track later in the quote (my italics) as far as courts not being a suitable place for redistributive change. But his clear intent is that the legislature is better suited to this kind of work, and it is the kind of thing he is for.

As an added note: Let me just point out that steep income taxes are not true wealth redistribution. Income is a measure of current productivity: Someone thinks that your work is worth what you are payed. Wealth as an accumulation of savings or inheritance is not touched by changes in income tax. So those who already have a pile of cash will be okay, but those of us trying to get there will find ourselves thwarted.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yard Signs in deep blue MA

Four years ago I don't think I saw a single Bush '04 yard sign. Not a big surprise given that the Bay State was never (seriously) considered in play. It probably isn't in play this year either, yet I have seen tons of McCain-Palin signs. Noticeably more than Obama-Biden signs.

Maybe 04 wasn't all that typical: After all, Mass Senator Kerry was at the top of the ballot and local pride goes a long way. Other things could be in play as well. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary here by a lot, as did Mitt Romney on the R side.

Everything seems pretty civil so far. All the signs I have made note of are still standing--none defaced. This is how it should be.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Mystery...

So, my wife is taking me out tonight, but she won't say where we are going or what we will be doing.

Hopefully it is not one of those things where I end up encased in concrete at the bottom of a lake.

Update: I am safe and sound. She just took me to a place in Groton we have been wanting to try. I had the 24oz porterhouse.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some thumbnails from the race...

My wife and two of my daughters are in the background of this finish line shot.

the guy with the gold shirt beat me by 4 minutes and so this picture should be from somewhere around mile 20-24.

At about the 1/2 way point on the Rourke Bridge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Plus 6 and Minus 6

My time in the latest run was 6 minutes slower than I did 28 years ago in the Seattle Marathon and 6 minutes faster than it had to be to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

And now more numbers, because I like numbers and their possible meanings...

In the latest race, I came in 10th among the 32 "Davids" entered, 289th out of 1193 overall, and 4th among the 20 Chelmsfordians. If you look at the ratios, I did best v. my fellow townspeople, then among all entrants and worst against Davids. Here is my hypothesis: Chelmsford is one of the three towns the race went through and so this race is very convenient for us. Maybe this caused people who are not as serious about running to give it a try.

As for the fact I did worse among Davids than overall: Davids are all men and men are faster (on average) than women. Only 42 of the 289 who beat me were women, although if they were a small percentage of the total entrants, this wouldn't suggest anything. If only 22% of the entrants were women and 22% beat me, then it would show that they are as fast as the men on average.

I don't want to go through the whole 1193 and count the number of women, but if they are slower, maybe they will be a higher percentage of the last 289 finishers...(A pause while I look at the results)...152 of the last 289 were women.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Mark Steyn classic

Joe the Plumber vs. Joe the Hair-Plugger Put that in your pipe and solder it.

By Mark Steyn

Supposedly, under the Obama tax plan, 95 per cent of the American people will get a tax cut. You’d think that at this point the natural skepticism of any sentient being other than six-week-old puppies might kick in, but apparently not. If you’re wondering why Obama didn’t simply announce that under his plan 112 per cent of the American people will get a tax cut, well, they ran it past the focus groups who said that that was all very generous but they’d really like it if he could find a way to stick it to Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove and whatnot. So 95 per cent it is.

Should you read it all? Yes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Bay State Marathon

289 89/250 M4049 3:24:49* 7:49 3:25:26 David Pecchia 46 M 1551 Chelmsford MA

The key to all these numbers: 289 was my overall place out of 1189 who finished, 89/250 was my place among the guys in the 40-49 age bracket.

The 3:24 is the net time and the 3:25 is the start time: The chip system deducts the time it takes you to cross the start line from the total time.

The asterisk means that I qualified for the Boston Marathon. (Ask me later how I feel about that.) It was my formal goal for this race, but the idea of running a marathon is not really attractive right now.

The race went pretty much according to my plans. I have noticed from training runs that I really fade after 13-16 miles. So what I wanted to do was to run fast for the first 13 miles and get myself ahead of my 8 min/mile schedule. I was around 3 minutes ahead at 6, then 5 minutes ahead at 10 and about 10 minutes ahead by 16 miles. At this point I figured I had it in the bag: I had 10 miles to go and could do it at a 9 minute pace and still make 3:30. At 18 miles, nature showed she still had some trump cards. My left calf started to cramp. If you have ever had a leg cramp, you know that all talk of maintaining 9 minute miles is out, along with running at all, or even walking. The cramp never did develop but my legs felt like one mass of pulled and sore muscle. My pace deteriorated from there. I lost 5 minutes in the last 8 miles and would bet that half of that loss was in the last 2 miles.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Checking out the scene.

My wife and I went up to Lowell this afternoon to check-out the race course. We walked from the starting point, an otherwise undistinguished street in downtown, to the end, which is the baseball stadium.

Here and there, we would see runners: They had white and blue race packet bags and were all skinny bony types. This caused me a little panic since I am neither skinny nor bony. I am not as young as these people looked either.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


All Recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Campaign Contributions, 1989-2008
Name Office State Party Grand Total Total from PACs Total from Individuals
Dodd, Christopher J S CT D $165,400 $48,500 $116,900
Obama, Barack S IL D $126,349 $6,000 $120,349
Kerry, John S MA D $111,000 $2,000 $109,000
Bennett, Robert F S UT R $107,999 $71,499 $36,500
Bachus, Spencer H AL R $103,300 $70,500 $32,800
Blunt, Roy H MO R $96,950 $78,500 $18,450
Kanjorski, Paul E H PA D $96,000 $57,500 $38,500
Bond, Christopher S 'Kit' S MO R $95,400 $64,000 $31,400
Shelby, Richard C S AL R $80,000 $23,000 $57,000
Reed, Jack S RI D $78,250 $43,500 $34,750
Reid, Harry S NV D $77,000 $60,500 $16,500
Clinton, Hillary S NY D $76,050 $8,000 $68,050

And way down the list...

McCain, John S AZ R $21,550 $0 $21,550

And McCain has been in the Senate for around 20 years to Obama's 2. Source

Added note: McCain is only a couple of points behind Obama even though he has been outspent 2 to 1.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Astronomy done in your head...

On my trip this last weekend we were driving back from hiking and noticed the Moon. It was low in the sky and looked to be a couple of days away from being full. It was hilly country, but the sky was bright and I thought it might be right at or right before sunset based on how light it was. The Moon was high enough that I figured it rose before sunset. I didn't know the answer yet, but figured that given what we know about the moon we should be able to figure out if it was getting fuller or less full. (Waxing or Waning, I know)

I tried to picture the above sketch in my head and got the answer exactly backwards: Now that I have the sketch (and assuming I am right that the moon orbits from West to East) the Moon should be growing if it rises between sunrise and sunset.

Now I will go check the Internet tubes to see if the Moon is waxing...

Hmmn. It is full tonight and it wasn't full on last Saturday, so I guess I got it right.