Monday, December 30, 2013

The Year in Running

I did my last run of the year today and it was kind of a pathetic effort but when it gets averaged into a whole year the stink is diluted.

The goal for the year was 30 miles per week at a pace of 8:00/mile or better. 30 X 52 = 1,560, which I cleared by a massive 11.5 miles!

The grand total is 240 workouts covering 1,571.55 miles and taking a total of 208 hours, 42 minutes and 36 seconds. The average is about 6 1/2 miles with a pace of 7:58.

It can be broken further into runs with shoes and barefoot runs:

Shoes: 161 runs in 133:23:53 with 993.78 miles covered. Average pace of 8:03, average distance of a little less than 6.2 miles.

Barefoot: 79 runs in 75:18:43 with 577.77 miles covered. Average pace of 7:49, average distance of 7.3 miles.

I experienced much greater soreness after barefoot runs than with shoes and one can wonder if it is due to more intrinsic wear-and-tear or from running more than a mile further and 14 seconds faster per mile when barefoot as compared to running with shoes on.

No Picture, So It Didn't Happen

Actually a picture wouldn't really have added much, other than, ironically, filler.

We had gone to the 99 (right by where I work) after seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and I ordered a seafood sampler which included one stuffed clam.

The thing about stuffed clams is that I have never eaten one that was home made--most were the ones you get at the grocery, ready-made and frozen. You put them into the oven and like them but feel like they could be a lot better.

I decided to try and make them because I wanted to see how good they could be and the large clams used (quahogs) are a much better deal than the small ones that you might use for linguine sauce.

The ones I made were the best I've ever had, so here is how I made them:

I started with about 10 large hard clams (around 4 lbs total) I soaked them in a bowl, with many water changes for about 6 hours. This was to get rid of any grit that might be contained in them.

While steaming them in a covered pot, I browned a medium yellow onion and a similar volume of finely chopped celery (inner leafy part) along with a couple cloves of garlic in lots of butter and olive oil. The usual clan of herbs were added: Fresh parsley, bay leaf, black pepper, sage, oregano and I could have added paprika but forgot it. Into this I crushed about one sleeve of Ritz crackers.

If the above seems familiar, it should: It is essentially the same stuffing used for any seafood. I minced-up the clam meats, which had finished opening up by then and added that, along with fresh lemon juice to the stuffing and packed all of this into a dozen of the half shells.

These were arranged into the same skillet I had done the browning in and I added a tablespoon of the clam water from steaming to each shell as well as a bit to the pan to avoid scorching. This was put into a 350F oven for about 20 minutes, till the tops started to brown.

They were, as my wife put it, "guest worthy".

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Training v. Exercise

I got this picture from an article by the legendary Mark Rippetoe on cross fit.

He makes a great point about the distinction between exercise and training. As good as the writing and points he makes, I was even more taken with the picture.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Double McDouble Day

I felt a little bad afterwards:

I had stopped in at McDonald's on the way back from running errands because:

1. I was hungry, it being around Noon and I had a small breakfast.
2. The McDonald's was one that I would drive right past on the way home.

I didn't feel bad for having a McDouble, I felt bad for succumbing to temptation and having two. Why did I have two?

1. It seemed wasteful to expend the time and effort of stopping and then only purchasing one.
2. They are so cheap (they were a Dollar but I think they jacked it up to $1.19 which is still cheap) one might as well order two.

Later, I felt fine.

1. Later, I had gone for a 13.1 mile run.
2. Later, I calculated that two McDoubles have (combined), 780 calories and my run burned 1,387 calories.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Obama and Mandela

Obama was in Johannesburg today, rightly eulogizing Nelson Mandela. The event brings to mind how opposite they are and were.

I was really apprehensive at the time Mandela took office in South Africa. He had been imprisoned for 27 years and the record of leaders like Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not encouraging. I was surprised and thankful that Mandela turned out to be greater than his personal grievances.

Obama has been the opposite. Yes, a minority but raised by affluent relatives on his mother's side of the family. He wanted for nothing and attended the best private schools. He was elected by a white majority country even as he had minimal accomplishments of his own. And yet he has been a divisive leader who acts like the victim of some grievance rather than one of the luckiest guys in the world.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Journey...

There is an old saying, supposedly of Chinese origin that goes:

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

There is a lot of wisdom contained in this and also a couple of unspoken assumptions. First the wisdom: The goal may take a lot of time and effort but it will never happen unless you start. The parts that are not mentioned all fall under the category: Just setting out does not guarantee you will succeed. First, you have to go in the right direction. If I set out for Spokane Washington from my home in the Boston area, I had better head West. If I go North or South, each step gets me a little further from my destination. If my destination is London, I had better build a boat. Walking will not get me there.

I got to thinking of all this in conjunction with the complaints we hear from the left that us mean Republicans are undermining the healthcare law and dooming it to failure. That is not the way we see it. Rather we see it as already doomed. We would just like to avoid walking 500 miles in the wrong direction before having to make the inevitable course correction.

I will stipulate that in the broadest sense, our goals are the same: We would all like for the health and well-being of our people to improve and to do so in an efficient manner. We do have quite different ideas about what an "ideal" system would look like though. In general, I think those on the right would like to see more market based systems which have the natural tendency to improve quality and reduce cost but have the drawback of inequality between the quality of care wealthy people and poor people can obtain. The other side, I think does not acknowledge any trade-off between equality of access and efficiency, but if they had to choose one--they would choose equality of access.

Just a final thought: The new healthcare law is intrusive in many ways and certainly will be expensive too. If we could "spend" the intrusiveness in some other way, could we achieve more positive results in some other hypothetical law? What if instead, we had a law which required everyone who is physically able, to walk 30 minutes/day? It could be nice-n-complex with waivers for people who do more vigorous exercise and documentation requirements, plus of course a tax/penalty if you refuse to participate. Does anyone really doubt that this program wouldn't improve overall health and well-being more than the new law*.

*My view is that the ACA will actually harm overall heath since it will make an already inefficient delivery system even more convoluted and inefficient, with the end result that more will be spent on administrative costs and less on actual healthcare delivery.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Time, Time...

I do a running loop from home that is close to eight miles and the nice thing about it is that I can easily add another four miles at the end. The problem is that I almost never do the extra four.

Time: I don't want to do the extra four if my time for the first eight is bad--I don't want to convert a mere bad run into a disaster.

Time: It seems like whenever I do have a good time going, I have stuff to do and don't have time to add another half hour to my work out.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Well, That Was Different

Remember when this was true?

Now, we have a new standard: Voting in a way that one side doesn't like, should be criminalized.

A petition on the website is calling for the Department of Justice to arrest some House Republican leaders for their roles in the government shutdown and debt-ceiling debates.

Yeah, it is MoveOn. But they are taken seriously in some quarters and you will notice the sound of silence in place of denunciations from the left.


Friday, October 04, 2013

Broken Sauce

Wednesdays I am usually off from work and do a small mid-week grocery run to get whatever we are out-of or forgot to get on the weekend "big shopping". I had just seen Surenna's cross country meet and she was probably on my mind when deciding what kind of fish to get for dinner. Wednesdays are great for fish since I have time to cook and can get them fresh the same day they will be prepared. Anyway, the girl has long complained about us always having salmon, the monkfish looked good...(it was in fillet form) and variety is the very spice & etc.

I had a vague memory that this was one of the few white-fleshed fish where the meat does not go flaky when cooked. I like to grill and flaky fish doesn't really work but I figured I could look it up when I got home and if I have to bake it or fry it this will not be the end of the world. When I looked it up, the internet tubes all agreed that the fish has the texture of lobster. For this reason, I decided to serve the grilled fish with Hollandaise sauce on the side--it is mostly butter and lemon juice, both of which go great with lobster. It ended up being a big hit with the kids and I liked it. The wife, not so much.

One odd thing was the making of the sauce: I have made Hollandaise many, many times with no problems. I pre-melted the butter and allowed it to cool before adding the lemon juice and egg yolks and only then turned on the double cooker. I whisked continuously and then all at once it broke and became all grainy. I took it off the heat and whisked rapidly; the sauce thickened and became creamy. Whew!

It got me thinking about the seeming randomness of my being sore and injured from sports. I can understand it when it is weights. There are lots of ways to hurt yourself when dealing with free-weights, especially something like the clean and jerk. But I don't think I can run wrong. I ran 13 on Sunday, barefoot and fairly slow. Yet on Monday I powered through a short 3.5 mile run at 7:32 (which is fast for me). Tuesday, again I felt fine and did a 6-miler safely under 8:00, finally on Wednesday an 8-miler under eight, but it was a struggle and was only slightly under. I am still sore now--a couple of days later.

What is the "take-home" here? Just run everyday? I could barely walk on Thursday, let alone run. It would be glib to try and see the parallel between the broken sauce--just keep whisking--and being sore/injured. some things are just different.

It is almost enough to make one shout, "We are Nihilists! We believe in nothing"! Almost, but not quite.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hat Trick or Troika Monday

There are three things I do which are health-related:

1. Starting on Sunday, I run every day until I have run at least 30 miles. Then I take off from running until the next Sunday. I normally have Saturday off, Friday is fairly common and every once in a while, I have Thursday off too.

2. I fast on Monday and Thursday. This might move around depending on my schedule--If I have to go out to dinner on one of those days or if it is Thanksgiving, then I might skip it or move it up or down a day.

3. I weight-lift every other day.

Being Monday, running is essentially inevitable and fasting is normally scheduled on Monday. The wild-card is lifting, which being every other day should fall on half of Mondays. When it doesn't fall on a Monday it will fall on a Thursday, so the only way of avoiding this triple "fun" every week is to make sure I have 30 miles logged by Wednesday.

Monday, August 26, 2013

First CC Race In 33 Years

I've been to a bunch of races in the last couple of years since Surenna runs on her HS team but finally I got to participate in one:

Thanks to Jimmy S. of GLRR for the picture.
I found out that the Thomas Chamberas 6K XC was being run practically in our back yard at Great Brook Farm in Carlisle.

As for the race:  The start was along a corn field on a tractor path.  There was about 1/4 mile of this before it turned a corner with a meadow on one side and the corn on the other.  This was the first place where one could break-out of the crowd and go to full speed.  I saw Glenn (the president of the GLRR) ahead of me and figured I would just attempt to keep up with him.  He is more than ten years older than I am but I have never beaten him in a race.  There was only about 3/4 mile of wide running area before the course narrowed into a one lane path.  A good mile and a half of mostly being stuck behind other runners but I had done a lot of passing in the earlier part, including Glenn and so was running with people moving at a good clip. The last 3/4 mile was more-or-less constant double path and I found myself catching and passing for the rest of the way.  

The obstructions on the path; roots, boulders loose gravel were a treachery and a saving:  When following close behind another runner, the path ahead would only come into view when it was too late to react.  On the occasional small opening, the uneven ground kept runners slow and so if you were willing to risk a fall, some good passing could be done. I saw frequent, though did not get, turned ankles in this part of the race.

In a road race it seems like essentially a one dimensional competition:  How hard can I push myself at any given moment in the race?  On a course like this, sometimes you were just stuck behind a person and so all you have to concern yourself with is keeping up.  On a path, running at high speed, there is a constant mental effort to choose your footing--do I take a long step here to the top of this boulder, or take a short step to the base of it and then step over it with the other foot?  While racing, I noticed I was having fun in a way that I don't really have so much in road races.

I would normally be happy with my performance:  6:56/mile, except that I suspect that the course was short. I had to have lost at least 30 seconds in the start, due to crowding and I heard somebody's GPS watch chime at the first mile and a glance at my watch showed something like 7:30.  It seems a little hard to believe I made back something like 45 seconds (below a 7:00/mile pace) in the last 2.7 miles, especially when I was stuck behind people for at least half of that distance.  In addition:  I hardly would make that pace on roads and trails really are a lot slower than pavement.  I did the Medical Center 6K a couple of years ago in Nashua and got 26:01 compared to this race a 25:49.  I would like to believe that I've gotten a lot faster in the last two years but I am 50 years old and don't believe in fairy tails.

Wife's picture of the finish--partially photo bombed...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

List of Wednesday's Activities

1. Lift Weights:  First time at 90 lbs for the clean and jerk.  I have been adding 5 lbs/week.
2. Breakfast after a fasting day:  Swiss cheese omelette on a mini croissant with bacon.
3. Take Jemma to Revolution Dance Academy.
4. Roast coffee.
5. Take Dahlia to the eye doctor to have her fitted for contact lenses and learn how to put them in, take them out and care for them.  She did pretty well and enjoys the new, stronger prescription which gives her super-girl vision.
6.  Lunch:  A beer and left-over roasted chicken wings.
7.  Find studs so that I can install the remaining baseboard trim in the addition.
8. 7.85 mile run.  Fairly slow on a fairly hot day; my pace tends to decay as the week progresses due to build-up of soreness.  I had planned to tack-on an extra 4 miles at the end to complete the week's mileage but just didn't have it in me.
9. Take Dahlia to karate.
10.  Fuel car.  I usually try to make it to 400 miles and had 430 on the tank, so I was sweating bullets.  Based on the amount of fuel taken-on, I had a good 12 miles more range.
11. Take Surenna to cross country practice at the high school.
12. Pick-up window screens:  The contractor was supposed to have done this but we have given up on him.
13. Pick-up Dahlia from the dojo.
14. Install the screens.
15. Eat dinner:  Vaishali made Indian stuffed peppers from peppers we grew in our garden.
16. Get interrupted from sleep about a dozen times due to the fire alarms going off.  They are all wired together and so it is tough to figure out which one was causing the problem.  I think I uninstalled 7 units by the end of the evening.  Fun!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This Guy Was A Serious Presidential Hopeful?

Okay, it is pretty scummy but I can get why he would trade in the old model for a new one that looks like this.

But he reportedly met her at a symposium organized by Deepak Chopra.  General Clark was the supreme commander of NATO!  WTF is he doing with a two-bit charlatan like Chopra?  Maybe he is like Ted Turner--obviously brilliant at some point and yet went sadly downhill without many people noticing.

Here is the Post Story from which the facts and image were obtained.

Friday, July 26, 2013

It Makes You Stupid, Stupid AND Dishonest.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
One might think that it takes special cleverness to lie.  Well, to lie and then get away with it.

This post makes a great argument for the opposite effect:
Habitual dishonesty (most notable political correctness) is a form of learning; and learning strengthens some brain pathways and brain connections; while allowing other pathways and connections to wither and (perhaps eventually) perish.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Out Of The Mist of Time

The lads from Vampire Weekend are smart guys, they all went to Columbia U. on financial aid after all.  So when they put a picture of a girl, taken in 1983, on their second album, there were two predictable outcomes:

1. The album bombs and it doesn't matter who the girl is--the album is a failure.

2. The album is a big hit (which is what actually happened) and the girl will discover that she is on the cover and then there will be legal trouble.  (There was and it was settled)

Some levity did come out of the "discovery" as related by her local paper: Fairfield Citizen

To add insult to injury, in addition to the alleged misuse of the photo, Kennis said it isn't one of her better shots since it depicts her with a vacant look.                                             
"It's like someone called my name and I turned." 
Even so, some don't think it's as bad as Kennis thinks. 
In fact, one of her nephews, a sophomore at Columbia University in New York City, said members of his tennis team were talking about the "hot" girl on the Vampire Weekend album cover. He had not seen the cover at the time the discussion was taking place sunsequently told his friends, "she's my aunt."
It all came full-circle, what with the Columbia connection and all.

Satire Is Dead

National Hot Dog Day.  Anthony Weiner. AKA Carlos Danger.

Twitter, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Would be Less Likely To Wash My Hands

If I had to do it right in front of a urinal--maybe especially so if there was a queue.

Both the author of the NPR article as well as the inventor of the device make the claim that this arrangement will encourage hand washing.  I think most men will be skeeved-out by standing in front of a stinky urine receptacle while washing.

I like the idea of using the same water for two uses but maybe the idea could be salvaged:  How about making the sink offset so that you are not right over the urinal when hand washing?  They could be made left and right handed and installed alternately.  This way it would be two sinks, then two urinals, then two sinks.  The ends of each row would be be either a single sink or a single urinal.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Talk Left

Jeralyn E. Merritt's reporting on this case has been excellent.  
I am very disappointed that the President has chosen to endorse those who have turned a case of assault and self-defense into a referendum on race and civil rights. And that he is using it to support those with an agenda of restricting gun rights.

The rest of her post is here.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Three Reasons

Greg Mankiw very succinctly gives three reasons why people who largely agree on "the facts" and are reasonable can fall into either a conservative or liberal mindset.
Arthur M. Okun, who served under President Lyndon B. Johnson as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote that the big trade-off faced by society is between equality and efficiency. We can redistribute income to give everyone a more equal slice of the economic pie, but as we do so we blunt work incentives and the economic pie shrinks, he said. From this perspective, the Democrats are the party of more equality, and the Republicans are the party of more efficiency.
Another view is that the important tradeoff is between community and liberty. As members of society, we have goals we want to achieve with others. But as we reach those shared goals, we are asked to sacrifice some personal freedoms. From this perspective, the Democrats are the party that emphasizes communal values, and the Republicans are the party that emphasizes individual liberty.
Finally, there is the issue of how much one trusts centralized governmental power. Democrats tend to want to expand the scope of the federal government to improve the lives of the citizenry, while Republicans are more fearful that centralized power leads to abuse and lack of accountability.
The whole thing is here

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Everything Back To Normal and A New Beginning

Back to Normal:

I finally got my car back today after it being in the body shop for two weeks.  It wasn't too bad since we have a 3rd vehicle, a GMC Yukon XL that normally only gets out for family vacations and hauling things.

Also nice was that the shop is close enough that I could easily ride my bicycle down there and not  inconvenience  my wife with having to drop me off.

The ride seemed nicely smooth and sporty after driving the truck for two weeks.  Also, the shop detailed the car to the point that it looked better than when I picked it up from the dealer new. One gripe is that on my errands today it rained.  It seems like it always does this whenever one of the cars is freshly waxed.

A New Beginning:

In anticipation of turning 50, my plan was to get weights and start to pick them up to avoid muscle loss from aging.  Now more than 6 months past that point, I have finally gotten the weight set.  It is just a barbel, which is 45 lbs by itself and an additional 255 lbs of plates.  My plan is to lift the empty bar three times in the first week and then add five lbs each week until I can't lift it.  My thinking is that I really don't have time for a long workout and so 5 minutes of clean and jerk will have to do.  The first week is mostly done and I am happy to report that I can lift the awe-inspiring weight of 45 lbs over my head.

Update:  A few weeks in now and the weight is up to 65 lbs.  It is still pretty much effortless but I'm sure the end is near.  I got headaches the first couple of weeks; probably soreness in unfamiliar areas leading to tension.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So, If I Understand You Correctly...

It hasn't accomplished anything in 48 years and therefore it is a "vital law"?
"The landmark civil rights law that Congress passed almost five decades ago, and reauthorized with overwhelming bipartisan support only seven years ago, has been an important tool to protect voters in places with a history* of discrimination. The law is as necessary today as it was in the era of Jim Crow laws. We must act immediately to rewrite this vital law.” link
--Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

 *history: From Chief Justice Roberts's opinion:

"In 1975, Congress reauthorized the Act for seven more
years, and extended its coverage to jurisdictions that had
a voting test and less than 50 percent voter registration or turnout as of 1972.
In 1982, Congress reauthorized the Act for 25 years, but
did not alter its coverage formula.
In 2006, Congress again reauthorized the Voting Rights
Act for 25 years, again without change to its coverage
formula. "
So the plan was to keep this law which discriminated against some states and parts of some others based on conditions in 1972? Why not base it on more current discrimination?

Too hard to find is a more obvious reason for being stuck in the 70's.  And therefore, it is not that the law was useless, it is that it worked and is no longer needed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wrong For So Many Reasons

There was a contest on a social media site for a  list of  50 objects that say Vermont.  One entry was "One word: Empathy (with one another)"

Wow!  Where to begin?

1. Object!  Empathy is not an object, it is a thing but is not visible or tangible.  We are looking for things like Fall folliage, sugar shacks or trustafarians on Church Street in Burlington.

2. "(with one another)"  As opposed to what? Rocks, trees and rivers?  

Enough with the trivial and easy criticism, what is the underlying meaning that is being, perhaps unwittingly, betrayed?

Since the contest is for things that say Vermont, a fair assumption is that they should be things which would be particular to Vermont and not to other places.  That is, we are looking for things which are distinctively Vermont.  The implication is that empathy is something unique to Vermonters.  Well, don't we have a high opinion of ourselves?  And by implication, low opinion of people from outside.

Clannish, check.  Self-satisfied, check.  Fully confident in one's moral superiority, check!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Because I Can

So, what should one make of this Superbowl ring controversy?

In case you haven't heard, the story is in all the papers, here is the Washington Post's version:

What are the facts and what should one make of them:

1.  There seems to be no dispute that the ring was passed between Mr. Kraft and Mr. Putin.

2. Kraft has variously claimed it was stolen from him and that he was just joking about it being taken and that it was actually a gift.  What makes this hard to believe:

     --Kraft's own claim that he was pressured by the Bush administration to not make a fuss over this is believable and even though he claims it is all a joke, his current backing-off from the story could just be that the Obama administration is applying the same pressure on him that was done before.

     --Who would give away such a one of a kind object?  It just seems unbelievable.

     --If Putin was a "normal" kind of person he would diffuse this by making a public statement that, if there is some kind of misunderstanding, then Mr. Kraft can have the ring back any time.  He only needs to ask.  This has not happened, or if it has, it has not been reported.

     --The ring is claimed to be on display in the Kremlin library.  This claim could be easily checked, though to my knowledge it has not been verified.  If it is true, then I would find this fact to be exonerating of Mr. Putin.  If he did not take it for his own personal pleasure, then he must have been acting out of higher motives.  On the other hand, one could suppose that the ring was put on display exactly for the reason of insulating the Russian President from criticism.  He would still have the pleasure of seeing his own power validated by being able to steal a prized possession with no repercussions.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Okay, Hot Chicks Finally

I have not been able to decide whether to be impressed with or appalled by Edward Snowden:  

Here is a guy who looks like this.

Who reportedly pulled down about $ 200,000.  And is only 29 years old and apparently abandoned a girlfriend who looks like this:

So, in other words-- Idiot!  or Wow! A guy who would give up all of that must have some inner drive that is stronger than what would seem to be a pretty ideal situation.

Hamburgers and Hot Chicks

They are only related in that I've had small thoughts on both and neither are really enough for a blog post, but possibly, together they will clear the bar.

I have a self-imposed "goal" of running 30 miles/week with an associated goal of keeping the pace to under 8 minutes/mile.  The week worked out well and my mileage was in by Wednesday, which was great for two reasons:

1.  Thursday was a fasting day and it is not fun at all to; first of all, run on an empty tank and second of all, to not get to eat after the run.  So, I went for a nice walk in the drizzle of Thursday and it really helped to ease the soreness from Wednesday's 13 miler.

2. I've been wanting to try the Deluxe Quarter Pounder and have a coupon for a free medium fries and medium drink with the purchase of the sandwich.  The problem is that I normally run every day on my lunch break and that does not allow time to drive to McDonald's.  See above, my lunch hour has been freed-up by early week diligence.

My normal order is for a McDouble since, even though I like the Big Mac better, the McDouble is pretty good and is 1/4 the price.

Recently, I came across a variation on this burger, the Daily Double, which is more-or-less the same except has mayo, lettuce, sliced (instead of minced) onion and a slice of tomato.  It looked good so I tried it:

It really is quite different and I liked it a lot.  The Deluxe Quarter Pounder looks like it is essentially the same except for one large piece of ground beef rather than two small ones.  I wanted to try it, plus the coupon--but there is a fly in the ointment:

That bun looks too bready for my taste.  "Have it your way" is that other place and so I was reluctant to ask but the guy behind the counter was very friendly so I asked if they could make me one with a normal Quarter Pounder bun.  No problem!  Verdict:  It was good but I think that I like the Daily Double better.  Cheaper too, double plus good.

One thing I would like to try is to make my own root beer float:  Normally a small beverage is on the dollar menu and they have been offering small cones for 49 Cents.

Pour a root beer, lop the top of the cone off into the drink & voila!

Hot Chicks?  Eh, there is enough here for a post after-all.  Hot Chicks can wait.

Will This Convince Them?

In my judgement.  No.

Case in point:

The left is still lionizing Paul R. Ehrlich even as his predictions have proven comically wrong.  It is almost as if the guy has been on a 40 year conceptual art project with half of us taking him seriously and the other half thinking he is a moron.

Monday, June 10, 2013

So, Let me get this straight: He is wrong about something?

Prog:  I have no problem with these shady teabagger groups being investigated by the IRS.

Me:  Well, President Obama said he was outraged by it.

Prog: So?

Me: Well, is the President lying about being outraged?

Prog:  Yes.

Boom! The President is a liar.


Prog:  No.

Me:  Is he wrong to be outraged?

Prog:  Yes.

Boom! The President is wrong about something.

Note:  This fantasy is flawed by the fact that progs often take exception to anything the president does that smacks of moderation.  That is to say, when he deviates from their far-left ideology, then and only then is he flawed.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

A Great Observation From Neo-Neocon

"...if even the great and noble Obama fell prey to the seduction of power that Big Government represents, then wouldn't practically anyone?"

The rest here:

How To Change Your Mind and Not Be a Hypocrite

1.  Acknowledge that your view has changed.

2. Explain why you now think differently on the issue.

3. Give some credit to those who disagreed with you before you changed your mind--you know, since you have come around to their view now.


Do it Obama's way:

I welcome this debate and I think it's healthy for our democracy. I think it's a sign of maturity because probably five years ago, six years ago we might not have been having this debate. And I think it's interesting that there are some folks on the left but also some folks on the right who are now worried about it, who weren't very worried about it when it was a Republican president. 

1. No mention that he was one of the fiercest critics of President Bush' intelligence gathering.

2. None given.  We did have this debate "five years ago, six years ago" and Obama was on the opposite side of it then from where he is now.

3. No.  Rather criticize them for now believing what you used to believe.

The exact opposite of what it means to be a statesman.


Just so head-off the possible complaint that there is no graceful way to perform my statesman-like standard, the below is a shot at it.  Bear in mind, I am not a professional writer and so this could probably be greatly improved.

Fellow Americans.  I'm sure you are well aware that when I was a Senator from Illinois, I was one of the most fierce critics of President Bush's intelligence-gathering program under the Patriot Act.  I think this stemmed from at least two sources:  First, a general distrust of the Bush administration and second, as an outsider to the executive branch, a lack of understanding for the capabilities and responsibilities of that branch.  As President, I have come-around to the need for programs such as these since I take seriously my responsibility to protect the American public from attack and see the programs as well within constitutional privacy protections.  As for liberal and conservative critics of theses efforts, some of whom did not oppose them when George W. Bush was President:  I understand your concerns and share those same concerns.  People of good faith can come to different conclusions about the balance between privacy and security.
Thank You and God Bless. 



"As for our common defense," Barack Obama declared in his First Inaugural Address, "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. . . . Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."

Last Friday the president said this: "I think it's important to recognize that you can't have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a society." 

Scientists Behaving Badly

When I had read about the study indicating that a bit of extra weight might not be so bad, I kind of expected the pushback that ensued.  A nice surprize is the editorial in Nature linked to below:

Shades of grey
It is risky to oversimplify science for the sake of a clear public-health message. 

The problem with simple messages and black-and-white statements is that they tend to be absolutes and so the easiest to falsify. The line that the science of global warming is ‘settled’ must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and when taken to refer to the narrowest of scientific questions it is correct, but it was (fairly) interpreted as insistence that no queries remained. Even legitimate debates on outstanding issues — climate sensitivity, say — can now be painted as unsettling not just to the scientific position, but also to the policy response it demands.
Scientists or I should say "scientists" who make claims which go beyond what the actual data says, think that they are furthering social good.  They are not.  They are trading in credibility for short term goals.  Ultimately, a technological society depends on belief in the truth of science.  The foisting of junk science has the result in all of it being seen as garbage.

Yeast Waffles

For some reason I have long wanted to try making yeast waffles.  Possibly it is because in the foam stage of bread making that batter just looks so fry-able.

I tried this recipe from King Arthur Flour

Verdict:  It is good, though not really a huge amount better than with normal baking soda based versions.  It is not really much more work though. All you have to do is mix the batter up an hour before cooking.  Next time I think I will sub in a cup or 3/4 cup of butter milk.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The "Bounty" of Self-Help Experts

New York couple, hosts of self-help radio show, commit suicide, authorities say

I suppose one could say, " The jokes write themselves" but I want to focus on something else.

Read more: 

They were very smart about how to go about it:  The story above gives these details:
Autopsies found that both Littig, 47, and Rosen, 45, died from asphyxiation after inhaling helium, a spokeswoman for medical examiner's office said Thursday.
Asphyxiation by inert gas is thought to be totally painless.

An additional detail is that their bodies were only discovered by the smell from decomposition.  
So they planned out very well how to easily and painlessly dispatch themselves, but could not be bothered to arrange for someone to find them before the stench did this?

I don't know.  It might be hard to send out a notification that doesn't risk being found while still alive, right?  Wrong!  You can schedule a blog post.  This post, for instance is scheduled to go out at 7:00 but I wrote it earlier today.

This couple wins my "prize" as the most self-adsorbed.  Who will win the next Bounty prize?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Last Week's Running Workouts

For reasons which do not matter here, I ran three days in a row on the same course:  An 8 and one quarter mile loop.

The first run was on Wednesday, which was cool but which was also a fasting day (my wife and I are trying the fast diet, which is a subject on which I will probably blog about at some point).  Anyway, I had nothing to eat that day except for coffee in the morning.  I did fine on this run and kept the pace at 7:55

The next day I had a good breakfast but by the time of my run in the early afternoon, it was already in the low 90's. The run was miserable and slow at 8:26.

The final run was both a fast day and slightly hotter than the day before.  Yet somehow I pulled my self together and ran slow but not by as much as the day before:  8:22/mile.

Either the fasting is not a problem for running or my ability to adapt to heat made up for the hot fasting run.  I do feel tired and weak on fast days.

I generally consider any run of 13 miles or less to be a failure if it comes in over 8/mile, but I have to cut myself some slack considering the weather.

All of this effort, concentrated in the last three working days of the week, set me to musing about why I bother with it.  I've been 30 pounds heavier and I looked fine.  I felt fine too.  Why can't I settle into being a short, fat balding and jolly creature?  Maybe I will at some point.  I don't after-all feel any contempt for, or superiority to, other people who have let themselves go.  Anyway, the key point I was left with is that it is really hard to stay in shape.  I do it for some reason and it is my choice to do so.

I choose to make the efforts needed to stay in shape but how would I feel about such exertions if they were forced upon me?  Hard to imagine, but I think being forced would make it even more difficult because instead of it being a manifestation of my freedom, it would be the opposite:  It would be proof that I don't have freedom.  This is the fundamental problem with socialized medicine (actually, it is the problem with socialized anything):  If your health is the state's business, then they might intrude on your freedom to eat what you want, to exercise or not, to smoke, to drink etc.  Alternatively, they will not meddle; but then how is it fair for me to be in the same risk pool as an obese, sedentary alcoholic who smokes?

This is what socialism always comes down to:  Infringe freedom, punish virtue or both.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grate expectations

The difference between the theft of my bike and the GOP's attempted piecemeal dismantling of Obamacare is that theft is a crime, while an opposition party's strategic resistance to the implementation of a law reviled by the party's supporters is practically an obligation. In any case, it's predictable.

Well worth a full reading... 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Without Double-Standards, They Wouldn't Have Any Standards At All...

The left likes to harp on how the right is just awful because of their endless desire to force their values onto the rest of the country.  The dirty little secret is that they are not so much against the imposition of moral values per-se, as they are against the imposition of conservative values.  They have no problem with imposing liberal values.  At all.  The really insidious thing is the refusal to admit* that they are trying to impose values too.

*I think "notice" might be a better word here.  They really are oblivious to the fact that they excel in doing exactly what they accuse the other side of doing.

The below article is exactly on-point.  In fact, its quote from Paul Ryan is the same one liberal friends on Facebook used to "prove" that the Wisconsin Congressman was basically an ayatolla.

America’s Anti-Gun Theocrats

Should rabbis and other clerics engage in politics? Only, it seems, if they support liberal policies.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Like Downhill Snow Skiing (in reverse)

Today, it fell to me, to empty-out the truck of the bamboo flooring which has been residing there.  Wife needs the truck early on Saturday to take another mom and six girls to a DI competition and I only have today off.

Each trip from the truck to the third-floor addition left me winded but I would recover on the way back down to the truck.  This is a lot like how I used to ski.  I would go from top to bottom and be out-of-breath by the time I got on the chair lift, but by the end of the ride I would be fully recovered.


  1. Today, there were 32 runs up the steps with a load of flooring--three more trips with underlayment, but it was light, even taking two rolls at a time.  The most ski runs I ever did in a day was 25 top-to-bottom runs on the last day I was at Sun Valley.  3,000 vertical feet each run.
  2. One trip up 33 steps with a 50 LB load is quicker (about one minute) and less strenuous than  skiing down Baldy (about 5 minutes).  It only took an hour to haul the wood, but it took me all day to get in all of that skiing.  In fairness, the 9 minute chairlift ride was probably the most limiting factor to the number of runs I could get in, though I was very tired by the end of the day.
  3. Obviously, the skiing was more fun.
  4. Moving the flooring was more useful than skiing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Losing Weight is a Bear

I don't understand what the problem is:

I lose the weight every Winter--but then I have gained it all back by Fall...

I am tempted to just leave it at that but will risk going on from here any way.

It is my hypothesis that a healthy person who eats whatever they want and doesn't exercise, ought to gain weight.  (I will note here that I claim no special knowledge:  My method is to see where commonly known facts lead us.)

Given that for most of human biological history, we have been hunter-gatherers;  the nature of this life style is that there are times of abundance and times of want.  There would thus be a huge survival advantage in being able to store energy on-board your body.  To survive in this kind of environment, you must gain weight when there is plenty so that you do not starve when there is scarcity.  

What about storing food externally?

With the exception of Diamond's pre-historic Japanese, H & G groups had to be on he move all the time and so transporting foods would be a challenge in a couple of ways:
  • It takes time to preserve food by drying and this works against being constantly on the move.
  • Once preserved, food needs to be packaged and carried along.
Once Humans took up farming and herding, the ability to lay-in fat was much less a benefit.  Farmers were, by their nature, fixed to a location and would have the time to preserve food and no need to transport it.  Herdsmen were still on the move, but the herd was the source of food--so they didn't need to transport or store it.   Additionally, it is hard to engage in the challenging physical activities associated with farming and herding without being physically fit.

The very physicality of the work was enough to keep its practitioners fit.  Now we have jobs that do not require physical fitness and are not demanding enough to keep us fit and so Quelle surprise  we are getting fat.

I have, no surprise, some thoughts on how to avoid getting fat and will outline them below...


Actually, my own experience has been that around 40 I started to steadily gain weight.  I began to exercise regularly and cut down, though not eliminate, the starchy parts of meals.  The weight I had gained was quickly lost.  But I did not continue to lose weight. 

I know that I could lose more weight if I ate enough less, the laws of thermodynamics being what they are and all.  It is just that as any dieter can point out; the body adjusts to caloric restriction and becomes miserly about expending energy.  In our modern times this is a bug, in times of need it would be a really nice ability.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Campodimele, Italy

How do you like them apples?

I had a bit of idle curiosity about the place where some of my ancestors came from and I came across a whole book about the community.  It seems that Campodimele is famous for its residents' long life span.

Many of the articles on the place say that the name means "Field of Honey" though a quick perusal of the web tells me that mele means apple in Italian.  This is a little disapointing since Pecchia supposedly means "industrious" or like a worker bee.  It should be noted that Pecchia is the most common last name in Campodimele, so it would have all made a lot of sense.  Though, if Campo (country) di (of) mele (apple) is apple country, then it is only fitting that my relatives settled in Washington State, which is famous for its apples.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The True Believers Know It's a Lie

“I actually don’t think we should ban handguns,”


But it is okay. He needs to fool the rubes that stand in the way of progress and when the time is right, he will show his true feelings.

Remember when?

"marriage is between a man and a woman".

The Telegraph

Charlie Freak

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sonia Sotomayor on Charlie Rose

Not a show I normally watch but as is typical of my late-night television viewing, I fell asleep while watching something else and awoke to it.

I haven't had much interest in her beyond some attention paid to "a wise latina woman" of her confirmation hearings.

I was really impressed with her affect: Here was a woman who does not just love life, she is in-love with life! She came across as smart and well-informed as well. Except for one thing: Mr. Rose asked something along the lines of what she looks for in a law clerk and she said that she wants someone smarter than herself, or at least better at the thing she needs them for. She also noted that President Obama is the same way. What!

It is pretty clear that Mr. Obama does not admit the possibility of there being anyone smarter or better than himself at anything. So, Obama may want to do that kind of hiring, but why would he waste time pondering impossibilities?

What to Expect When No One’s Expecting

Demographics is destiny.

Tyler Cowen has a post on this important book, along with links to commentary.

Monday, February 04, 2013

"Gun Deaths"

I have found that this is a term mostly used by the "sensible regulations" crowd. It seems an odd term to use, why not gun murders or fire arm homicides? The reason is that; of the usual 30,000/year figure given, 8,600 are homocides and the remaining 21,400 are suicides. (You can get to these figures either from published statistics on suicide rate or from FBI crime statistics--all easily obtainable on the web).

These sites almost never point-out this breakdown, so I can only assume their intent to deceive. But still, a death is a death and tragic whether cis (suicide) or trans (homicide). Surely, guns play some role in both, given that most (8,600 out of 12,700) trans and about half of cis killings use a fire arm.

There is certainly a factor of utility: A murder victim is likely to resist and a gun makes the outcome of the encounter more certain. Similarly, a gun is a logical choice when considering cis killing:

1. It is certain.
2. It is fast.
3 It is painless

Most other choices fall down in one or more of these categories. Take hanging for instance; it might not work, it will be both painful and slow. The only drawback I could see to shooting is that it leaves a mess. I make no claim to mental health insight, but it seems like cis killers do often want to lash out at those they leave behind. So, a mess may be more a feature than a bug.

Guns help if you want to kill yourself and so, logically, the availability of a fire arm would make it more likely that a given person would go through with it.*

To see if there is a correlation between the availability of an easy cis killing method and actual cis killing, we can compare suicide rates with other countries which have much more restrictive gun laws than we do here in the USA:

Japan is often held-up as a great example of how a low murder rate correlates with gun restrictions. Indeed, their rate of 0.4/100,000 is much better than our 4.8/100,000. On the other hand, their suicide rate is 21.9/100,000 to our 12.0/100,000! So clearly, the lack of guns is not sufficient to stop people from cis killing if that is what they want to do.

*I will note here that asphyxiation with an inert gas would be ideal in terms of the above three consideration and have the virtue of being less messy than a gun shot, but it is not a method which is well known. It seems that the feeling of suffocation you get while holding your breath is due to CO2 build-up in the blood causing a drop in pH. Breathing an inert gas allows the CO2 to be driven-off.

Added: Tom Maguire points out that if the problem is 30K "gun deaths" and most of them are suicide--then isn't the problem mostly a mental health issue?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some, Middle Weight

I've been avoiding a task for some time now because it had required too long of a time commitment. Rather than find a ten-hour window of time, I found a way to do a smaller bit of the work.

I have been doing the tile work for the new bathroom and have completed the floor part, but the tub enclosure remained. The mortar comes in a 50 lb bag and not only does it provide enough material for a whole day of work, it is also a bear to mix in the winter time.

What I decided to do was divide the bag into 6 parts since the whole bag requires 6 quarts of water. One 6th is 8 1/3 lbs. This is too much for the kitchen scale and too low for the bathroom scale. A solution was hinted-at by the recollection that we have a set of 8 lb dumbbells. A four foot board and a triangular piece of wood later, a serviceable balance was formed.

I did two 8 lb batches of tiling and feel like the project is back on track.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Idol worship

I can understand being a supporter, but even if you like the guy, doesn't this make you even a little sick?

Here is how the press shows the President when they are properly skeptical of authority.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Day Off Doings...

After breakfast I assembled all the items which the "scrap metal guy" is willing to pick-up. An old window AC unit, a broken lawn mower, a broken refrigerator, two computer towers and misc. odds and ends. The only things notable were that I removed the two hard drives from the computer towers, more as a security precaution than a need for the files. I pushed the fridge up the basement stairs and at about the half-way mark I came to a realization: If my strength fails, I could very well die. The bottom of the stair is a concrete wall, which would be the anvil to the fridge's sledge hammer.

Next, I went and did a full shopping at the grocery store. Salmon steaks for tonight!

Then, I went for my first barefoot run of the year. I couldn't do my regular route since it is on the bike path and still snowbound. 8.74 miles @ 7:35/mile. So this makes both the first barefoot run of the year and the longest sub-8 run and the fastest single run of the year!

Last (so far) a man-lunch: Homemade guacamole, tortilla chips and a beer. Hey! It is vegetarian, for whatever that is worth.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Let Us Take A Little Philosophical Trip Together.

According to PEW, only a tiny minority of Americans consider themselves to be atheist (1.6%). There is a wide range of how religious the rest are, but around 98.4% are at least open to the idea that there might be a God.

This is why I find it troubling when elected officials are deemed unfit to represent the public due to insufficient "scientific" purity.

The case in point is from ScienceInsider: New Head of NIH Appropriations Panel Known for Conservative Views and Support for Research Spending

The article is actually very fair-minded:

He's also known for being skeptical that humans are contributing to climate change and for rejecting Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. But although that record might make many scientists anxious, his reputation as an inside operator who understands the importance of funding research makes many science boosters breathe a little easier.

But the reactions to his appointment demonstrate a rather dim attitude toward democracy. After all, if the democratic process of elected representatives gives unacceptable results, the implication is that there must be some other, better method.

But let's leave all this aside for a moment and think about religion.

The vast majority of our republic either believe in God or are open to the possibility. If there is a God, then the implication is that he created the universe. Most think this was accomplished long, long ago. Fine. But a God who could create the universe billions of years ago, could also have created it five minutes ago too. That is, all our memories, geologic erosion, dinosaur bones--everything that is now, could have just been made! How would we know the difference? Or better, nothing exists except our minds and they are merely little subroutines running in God's mind. Anybody open to the possibility of divine power could agree with this if they thought it through a bit.

All that being said, I would rather have my representatives believe in natural selection than not, though what they claim and what they actually believe may be two distinctly different things. It may be difficult to get elected in rural Georgia as an evolutionist, just as it might have been hard for President Obama to get elected if he admitted to being an atheist.

In any case, I see far more harm from politicians who honestly fear and oppose things such as GMO's, Fracking and Atomic power which have risks which range from nonexistent (GMO's), easily managed (fracking) and manageable with sound engineering (atomic power).

Friday, January 04, 2013

Jokes, Lame and...Also, lame

1. Just before wrapping up to go home after seeing-in New Year's Day there was some small talk about Brandy. It seems she had been a force in the pop-music scene 9 years ago and was just on one of the "Rockin' New Year's Eve shows".

Anyway, one of the guests thought she might have gone by the name Brandi in her earlier career but the TV had her as Brandy now. I suggested that in a few years more she could change it to cognac. I did not expect more than a polite chuckle, but my host just about lost his footing. I suppose one never quite knows what is going to work.

2. I put a lot more into one from last night and it got barely a snigger:

Me: So, you know cats?

Wife: Yes...

Me: Well, sometimes they get run-over. If the car hits the front of the animal, it usually dies on the spot. But if it gets winged in the hindquarters it will often survive.


Me: But, what can happen is that the cat will be paralyzed in the rear-legs, much like a human paraplegic.

Wife: Awwe...

Me: So, because of the lack of exercise the cat gets in the rear, the back legs can waste-away.

Me: They call this condition a Cat-Asstrophy!

Wife: Groan!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Memory Conforms With What We Now Believe.

The lake used to be frozen over by New Year's. Sadly, no longer.

The above is a quote from someone I know on Facebook who is a "worrier" when it comes to global warming.

He was refering to Lake Champlain. I was in Vermont for eight years (1992-2001) and I had vaguely remembered that it froze the first winter I was there and the second but then maybe only once after that, so I was curious if my experience was typical.

The records were easy to find.

The records go back to 1816 and there is no year in which the lake was frozen by New Year's. January is the most common month though. Also, while the lake did freeze more often in the past, 1851-1918 without missing a year, this is long before this guy was alive. In his personal memory, it freezes about half the winters. The trend is slight: 19 times in his first 30 years of life and 15 times since then.

Probably the largest influence, besides confirmation bias, is that the lake has gone 5 years in a row of not freezing. By March, we will know if it has made it 6 years in a row.

Update: It did in fact go 6 years without freezing since it didn't freeze in 2013. It has come back with a fury though: Frovze in mid Feb in 2014 and 2015.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Painting The Addition

On the last day of 2012 I spent the bulk of the day painting. I expected that it would go fast and it did--there are no floors in yet, or trim, or even switches, electrical outlets or lights.

I blew-through five gallons of primer in 6 hours of continuous work and then I was done, not with the job, but at least with the day since I was out of paint.

As I was progressing I had a couple of thoughts:

1. I am glad I ignored the advice of the paint clerk at the hardware store. He thought I should need only two gallons of paint, reasoning that each will do 400 square feet and the addition is about 800. I reasoned that the 400 figure was wall area not floor area and that is about the coverage I got.

2. I nearly got one gallon of paint onto the walls per hour of effort and so wondered what kind of benchmark "real" painters achieve? On further reflection, I doubt painters measure their work that way. Most are probably paid by the hour, not by how much paint they use-up. Even if you paid by some measure of how much work was completed, you probably would not want it to be by paint volume since that might just encourage wasteful application of product.

I have never hired a painter since it seems like the quintessential do-it-yourself kind of thing. But I may look into how they quote for jobs. Do they just come in and do everything? Or do you buy the paint and they just apply it?

At the end of the last day of 2012, I was exhausted. I don't know how I managed to find the energy to go out after that and pick-up more paint, but somehow I did. Yet the next day I (with Wife's help) finished the primering and the amount of time on the job was similar to what I had spent on painting on the day before. But I felt fine. I suppose that one's body adapts to whatever kind of work is demanded of it.

His Ethics are...Situational

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. . . . Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Obama 2006

But Obama warned again that he would not negotiate with Republicans over the $16.4 trillion debt limit, which must be raised in the coming weeks. “While I will negotiate over many things,” he said, “I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether they will pay the bills they’ve already racked up.”

Obama from today's Washington Post

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012 running

Running report for the year: 1,502.13 miles at an average pace of 7:57. 861.48 miles with shoes @ 8:03/mile and 640.65 barefoot @ 7:50/mile. I was hoping for 1560, so that the average would be 30/week.

I think that I get about 500 miles on a pair of shoes, so if nothing else, I saved about $50 on shoes this last year. The real reason I do it is the savings in time: 13 seconds/mile on average and what makes it more impressive is that the barefoot runs were mostly medium distance and long distance while the ones with shoes were mostly short runs. The other big savings is on injuries: I get more superficial cuts, blisters and abrasions on my feet; but my joints have never felt better.