Thursday, December 31, 2015

Four Years of Runnning Data

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Because 40 and breaking the trend.

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

So here is the post:

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

And 40!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Morning Adventure

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


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


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


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


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


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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The cleverness of "Scream Queens"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 10, 2015

That's Entertainment!

Last Friday began a weekend of live entertainment:

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

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

Saturday, November 28, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


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

So here is mine:

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

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


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

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

UPDATE: The UK just voted to exit the EU! This could all be traced back to Obama "leading from behind" on Syria. Good job champ! You wanted the UK to stay together but you caused them to break-up.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making My Weight

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

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

Whew! Okay, that was close.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Journey Of 1,000 Miles...

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

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

I got a guest badge and went about my business.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Weekend Race Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Humans Don't Deserve Dogs

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Modern Polack Joke

Have you seen this one?

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

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

1. Take an object of scorn.

2. Put words in its mouth, harharhar!

3. Polacks are so stupid!

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

Irony meter, pegged.

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

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

Friday, September 04, 2015

Respect My Authority

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

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

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

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

Parking Do's & Don'ts

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

2. Don't take two spots.

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

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

Slow, Fast--No, just Slow

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Flaming Lips

Manspreading--Perfect Feminist Nonsense

No objective standard: Check

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

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

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Poor Leadership AND A Bad Deal

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

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

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

Friday, July 10, 2015

Last Wednesday Odds and Ends Plus One Perfect Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Perfect Moment:

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

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

4th of July Double Header

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ginevra, Up Close and Distant

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

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Groton Road Race AKA the first race of the year

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

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

Here are some pics.

At the start, nervously clapping after the national anthem.

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

Passing slower runners in the last half mile.

Photos from Jim Rhodes of CoolRunning.


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

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

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stephen King: (Choose Your Adjective)

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

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

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

He quotes the Governor of NJ as saying:

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

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

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

Why pay more tax?

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

A tribune for the working man

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

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Let's Not Rule This Out So Quickly

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

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

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

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Chutzpah Of Hope

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

In Foreign Affairs:

Then-Senator Obama opposed the Iraq surge, claiming

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

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

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

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

Now that Iraq is in chaos, not so much,

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

Both quotes from the WP

In Domestic Affairs:

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting side note: from Wikipedia

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

Friday, March 06, 2015

Unnecessary Violence Problem Solved

According to President Obama:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


We made a trip to NYC two weeks ago and engaged in some ad hoc activities and some events that were planned well in advance.

The first day was free and we came to find out from our dog sitter (who was also the breeder of our pet) that the Westminster Dog Show would be happening the week we were there. We went to the Monday session down at the Chelsea Piers and found out from the fact that everyone knows our breeder, that she is pretty famous and well-regarded in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels circles. The nice thing about the show at the pier is that you can get right up close to the animals and really appreciate how fine they are. Also, the breeders were very friendly and happy to talk about their dog's temperament, upkeep & etc.

Having gone to the show, we were following the competition during our stay by watching the happenings at Madison Square Garden on the hotel room TV. We even set a recording on our home DVR since we would be driving back on that day and might miss the show.

The final full day in NYC we went to a show: Matilda. Miss Trenchbull was scary and funny. The children were spunky and cute. The kind adults very humane as the bad adults entertainingly vacuous.

The trip came full circle once we were home, watching the dog show on TV. They opened the show with the cast of Matilda singing the national anthem or America The Beautiful.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

This Is How You Retract A Story (and this is how not to do it)

First: The Good. From The Daily Beast.

ON WISCONSIN? 02.27.15

Walker Unfairly Attacked on College Rape - ORIGINAL STORY RETRACTED
Scott Walker’s budget proposal to delete the requirement that universities report sexual assault cases has been incorrectly reported by the Beast and others.

Here is how not to do it, from the original source, which got it wrong:

Scott Walker Wants Colleges to Stop Reporting Sexual Assaults [UPDATE 2]
Natasha Vargas-Cooper

Update? Your headline still implies something that isn't true and update could be added information, not necessarily a fundamental change. Look! You screwed-up, this kind of half-assed correction only makes you look worse.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Misc. MoMA pictures

Klimt-Abstract and Concrete

If there wasn't the figure of a woman at the top of this one, it would be an entirely abstract piece.

this is a fairly concrete scene...

But a detail of the foliage could easily be an abstract painting of its own.

MoMA portraits

We worked ourselves from the bottom floor upwards and the art got progressively better as we went: One final bit were portraits and I liked them a lot.

"Self-Portrait with a Cigarette"  by Max Beckmann 

Another self portrait of the artist as he paints a portrait of a model.

Scenes from MoMA

Below are some phone pictures I took at the MoMA but first, an original composition of my own made from coasters acquired at the gift shop:

Wife and green swirly picture

Eldest daughter evaluating Jack the Dripper.

The first one was made of some 40,000 squares and the artist drew in red or blue based on if consecutive numbers in a phone book were even or odd. Tedious but anyone could do it. The other one seems almost impossible to execute: I couldn't even look at it very long, yet the artist had to make perfectly regular lines of even curve and continuous change to the thickness of the lines.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

MSM And A Tale of Two Stories

Mattress Girl Story:
MSM--Let's talk about the problem of campus rape.

UVa Rape article in Rolling stone:
MSM--Let's talk about the problem of campus rape.

Both stories debunked:
MSM--Let's talk about the problem of campus rape.

Rape, both on and off campus have been declining for decades:
MSM--Let's talk about the problem of campus rape.

Rudy Giuliani suggests that Obama does not love the United states:
MSM--Let's talk about why this idea is pretty believable to many if not most Americans.


MSM--Let's attack the former mayor of NYC.
MSM--Let's attack any Republican that fails to disavow Mr. Giuliani's claims.

It is a lot like your run of the mill progressive: They will happily defend socialists, vote for them and support socialist governments around the world. If you call one of their politicians one, they will act like you are the reincarnation of McCarthy!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Validation: Very Late And Randomly Discovered

Some years ago, when we lived in Vermont, I got it into my head to swim across Lake Champlain. It seemed easy; there was New York just a couple of miles away. But it turned out to be pretty complicated:

--One needs to train, this wasn't hard. I swam at the UVM pool the Winter before and I got a beach pass and swam at North Beach every day after work through the Summer. By late Summer I was ready.
--One needs to find a place to start and a place to end and they need to be roughly across from each other and neither too far apart nor too close.

This second one was very hard. There were not a lot of public beaches or other access points across from each other. I found only one route that I thought would work: Essex NY to Charlotte VT.

Now 16 years later, I was searching for information on current ice conditions for Lake Champlain and found an article from last Summer in the Burlington Free Press where a group of 14 swam the lake. Their route: Exactly the same as mine--except they went in the opposite direction. This was very gratifying. I thought that my choice was systematic and rational but I had nothing to compare it against. Seeing that somebody with no connection to me came up with the same solution makes me think it was a pretty good solution.

I believe that my direction was better though. From the NY side, you cannot easily tell where the Charlotte beach is located. From the VT side, you can easily see the buildings of Essex. So my route makes navigation much easier.

Added: Images from the event (I took digital pictures of the photographic prints in an album)

Here I am with my mom and oldest girl (the other two children were not born yet).

Here I am with Andy. We swam "together" which means we started together but he was much faster and so was dressed by the time I came to shore. He was a monster and probably would have finished an hour ahead of me even without his wet suit. I went the Speedo route.

A shot just as I prepared to get out of the water. My daughter on the shore, nonplussed at me showing up and asking why I was swimming.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Do Non-Handy People Do?

We received about 33 inches of snow in the blizzard of 2015 and I waited until the snow was done falling before clearing our driveway.

Early into the task, I noticed that the snowblower was not working as well as usual. One side of the first stage was dead.

The shear bolt on that side had, sheared. I have a lot of odds and ends around and felt confident that I could find something to fit. What I found was an actual shear bolt that was from a batch I bought ten years ago, the last time this happened.

It was somewhat tricky getting the remainder of the bolt out and the repair took about half an hour. This effort got me thinking, lots of people are not very handy. They certainly could effect the repair as I did, but they just wouldn't. They would not even consider trying.

The problem is that the snow machine is too heavy to pick-up and put into a vehicle, so it is not easy to take to a repair shop. Are there repair services that will come and fix your machine on-site? I suspect that people who cannot fix their own machines just hire people to clear their driveways.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Limits To Self-Trickery

Last Wednesday, I lifted 145 lbs for the first time in a long while. Now it was Saturday and I knew, just knew that I was strong enough to do it again. But would I let myself even try?

The clean and jerk is a hard lift to do: It takes strength, of course. But it also takes a fair amount of nerve and coordination too. It is not dangerous--you can easily push the weight away if things don't go right. But it feels like it is dangerous and the result are half-hearted attempts at a lift, which leads to failed lifts.

I thought of this trick I had read about: You tell yourself that a task is easy, or you have done it before, etc. and even though you know it is untrue, some part of you believes it and you are given a boost. Often what I will do when I have failed on a lift, is to take 5 lbs off and lift again. So, without taking any weight off, I told myself that I took weight off the bar and then did the lift at 145. Even as I was doing the lift I could not believe it worked.

It has its limits though:

Yesterday this same trick failed to work. I think I know why though. On Saturday I had not done anything tiring and had not lifted since the Wed before. Yesterday I was fasting all day, ran 4 miles AND had run 11 miles on Sunday. I was pretty weak and all the trickery in the world couldn't change that.

I did lift 140 twice though.

Update: The next Wed, Sat, Mon and Saturday after that featured 145 lb lifts. The Monday was at the hotel and I was amazed that they had a barbell that was not locked into a cage. I had to move some things around to have room to lift and felt a little rushed as well. In that session I made 145 on the clean but did not put it over my head. The rest were complete. I am (hopefully) getting into the habit of making this weight.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Sophie's Choice

It has been a while since I saw the 1982 film but was reminded of my thoughts on it by NEO-NEOCON's post on "Coco".

Spoiler Alert! (Is this really needed for a 30 year old film?)

Sophie arrives at a concentration camp with her two young children (a boy and a girl) and the camp doctor tells her that she can only bring one with her, the other will go to the gas chamber.

I won't say what she does, but here is what I thought she ought to have done:

Sophie: Why should I trust a man who will order a child to be killed?

Officer: I do not understand...

Sophie: You tell me that I can choose which one will live and you will honor that choice. Why should I believe you? It is in your power to kill none of us, all of us or some of us. Perhaps I would say, "Save the boy"! and out of perverse pleasure, you will kill him first.

Officer: I will kill both children if you do not pick one.

Sophie: I will not be complicit in your evil. You can choose to kill one, both or neither. This is your choice. I have no reason to believe anything you say and will not cooperate. Even if I did trust you, I think that you may believe that my playing along will dilute your guilt. I will not allow this! You are responsible for our fate.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

5,000 Years

Note to Reader: I have been noodling around with an analogy for some time but just couldn't quite get a grip on the scope. Finally I just decided to write it out and let the chips fall where they may.

In my lifetime there have been two major genocides which I would like to make a note of: Cambodia back in the mid 1970's, where something like 1/4 of the total population was killed and Rwanda in the mid to late 1990's where about 1/5 of the population was murdered.

To get some perspective, those who would like to ban the private ownership of firearms like to trumpet the US murder rate*, which is something like 12,000/year. At this rate, it would take 5,000 years for murderers to equal what was done in Rwanda in 100 days.

Now for the analogy: It seems like one could think of murder by criminals as analogous to side effects from vaccines. Each is tragic but far more lives are saved than lost. Could either of these genocides (or any genocide, ever) have been carried out in a well-armed society?

I used the above historical events because they happened in fairly recent times--if we go back a further 50 years, the National Socialists, Soviet and Chinese Communists, between them racked-up over 100 Million deaths. Criminals kill a paltry number compared to what governments can and have done to their own people.
*The anti-gun folks are not even close to this honest. They will talk about "gun deaths" and never mention that 2/3 of these are suicide. Nor will they mention that in gun-free Japan, the suicide rate is twice that of the US.

Added: To give a feel for the span of time. It has taken only about 12,500 years for the Niagara Gorge to be formed from the origin of the falls to their present location. The gorge is close to 7 miles long.

Thursday, January 01, 2015