Our lives: our decisions plus circumstances

Of course, it would be ridiculous to discount the role that external circumstances play in how things go for us. After all, some get horrible diseases, die in accidents that they had no control over, and some people’s successes are made possible by the circumstances that they were born into (e. g. President G. W. Bush, Senator Ted Kennedy).

And no: unless you were born with extreme talent, you’ll never be an Olympic athlete, Nobel Laureate caliber physicist, etc.

But all too often, people discount the role that their own decisions played in where they ended up.


Though there are NEVER guarantees, you can significantly lower the probability of ended up in a bad way simply by not doing stupid stuff.

August 19, 2014 Posted by | social/political | , | Leave a comment

President Obama’s main weakness

It is no secret that I am a fan of the President. But like the rest of us, he has weaknesses. This is one of his: he seems to have a disdain for building the personal relationships with members of Congress that people like President Clinton did.

Now, I happen to PREFER working with someone who is curt and to the point so *I* could probably work with him. But I don’t have a politician’s personality.

August 19, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment


The windows are rattling from the thunderstorms. But I got my run in ahead of time.
I woke up sore and stiff. So I backed off of the idea of an interval workout:

4.2 mile Cornstalk classic (outside)
5K on the track (middle lane): 8:51, 8:51, 8:39 (26:41), 27:37 total (slow last lap).
Then 18 minutes on the bike (5 miles); this hurt at first.

I do have to watch my back on the bike.

I’ve returned to doing back stretches (McKenzie, down dog, up dog, Camel, Standing Back Bends) , but nothing quite this extreme:

August 19, 2014 Posted by | running, spandex, yoga | | Leave a comment

Sadly still relevant


August 19, 2014 Posted by | racism, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Comedy: John Oliver on Ferguson (Police militarization)

This is some of the best commentary that I’ve seen.

August 19, 2014 Posted by | humor, racism, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Why the Travon Martin case bothered me more than the Ferguson shooting case…

In the Travon Martin case, the kid was walking along when a thug and would be vigilante took it upon himself to hassle him. Had that idiot just minded his own business, Mr. Martin would be alive.

In the Ferguson case: sure, police misconduct is possible (likely?); but we don’t have all of the facts about the shooting.
But in this case, the person who was shot:

1. Robbed a store and intimidated the employee who attempted to stop him.
2. Openly defied the police when told to get on the sidewalk, and then scuffled (at least) with the officer.

Now, of course, neither of the above points excuses the police shooting him while he was not threatening anyone…IF that was the case. I am wondering: where was the taser?

But in the Ferguson case, the dead young man would still be alive had he not broken the law and acted like a thug.
In the Martin case, it was a thug doing the killing.

I suppose that I can relate to being the victim in the Martin case but not so much in the Ferguson case.

Ironically, this case is seen as being racial by more people than the Martin case, though this might be a result of the “after the fact” protests.

And when it comes to the police response to the protesters, I can relate more to the protesters than the police. This is NOT the case with the looters; the looters are opportunistic sociopaths.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | racism, social/political | , | Leave a comment

More energy than I thought…

I felt tired this morning; I felt the effects of yesterday’s 18 mile walk.

But things went fine for my workout:

pull ups: 15, 10, 10, 10, 5 (hip hike/Achilles rest)
bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 180, 10 x 160 (rotator cuff)
incline: 10 x 135
military: barbell, 10 x 85, 3 x 85, 10 x 80, dumbbell: 10 x 40 (standing; rotator cuff)
rows/pull down: 3 sets of 10 each with the other machines.
McKenzie exercises plus some up/down dog. the back is a little achy.

Swim: 2200 yards
1000 free (easy)
10 x 100 (alt 25 fist/25 free) on the 2:05 (1:55-57 each)
4 x (25 fly, 25 free) with fins.

Ok, off to the office to get ready; classes start a week from Wednesday.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | swimming, weight training | Leave a comment

Yes, we should hold our police accountable, but they are far from the biggest threat…

Yes, I share the concern about the over militarized police (as expressed by this retired police officer)

And yes, credible accusations that a police officer shot and killed someone attempting to surrender should be taken seriously and investigated in a dispassionate manner.

And of course, there is a big problem when the police, who are supposed to be there to serve the citizenry, has poor relations with a large subpopulation of citizens.

But when it comes to the killing itself, well, Eugene Robinson claims that our outrage is selective, and he has a point.

Our population is about 62.6 percent white (non-Hispanic) and 13.2 percent black.

But look at the murder rates: (via the FBI)

Screen shot 2014-08-17 at 7.21.24 PM

Blacks are much more likely to be murdered than whites, and are more than TWELVE times as likely to be murdered by another black than by a white (whites are “only” 5.9 times more likely to be murdered by another white than by a black. )

What about law enforcement? We don’t have up to date data nor is it broken down by race, but look at the numbers that we do have:

Screen shot 2014-08-17 at 7.26.21 PM

Deaths due to “justified” homicide by law enforcement are dwarfed by the murder rates, regardless of race.

Again, this is not an argument that law enforcement treats everyone equally. I believe that minorities (especially African Americans) aren’t treated as well. And non-lethal mistreatment by law enforcement really sucks; remember they are supposed to be there to PROTECT us.

But being shot by the police is not nearly the biggest threat to life that anyone has (regardless of race); the sociopaths are far more dangerous.

Now one can argue (as Stephen Pinker does in Better Angels of our Nature) that the higher murder rate is due, in part, to the black population being underserved. For example, if someone steals something from me and I know the thief, I’ll file a police report and probably take it to court. But residents in poorer areas have far less confidence that their complaints would be taken seriously, hence “taking the law into their own hands”.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | racism, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Good advice to students from President Obama

Note: the increase in the cost of education comes mostly from increased administrative costs. Drivers: student services, learning assistance centers and technology!

But students have some responsibility for their own educations as President Obama makes clear from 3:00 to 3:40:

August 17, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, education | , | Leave a comment

A humid longish walk, plus some reptiles and amphibians

Today: more marathon walk training. It was damp, sort of warm and humid; it started off at 68 F, 90 percent humidity and ended at 75 F, 79 percent humidity:

I wasn’t sure as to what course I wanted to do, so I found myself heading down the bluff toward the river trail. But my initial pace was painfully slow! It took me 16 minutes to do the first 1.03 miles (along Moss Avenue). So I knew that somewhere I’d need to put in some “pick ups” to get within shouting distance of a marathon race pace.

So I walked down the trail and up to the old Woodruff track (5.17 miles), did 32 laps on the track (mostly right on the outside line of lane 1 as it is a 400 meter track) and then walked back.

Times: 1:17:35 for the first 5.17 miles
1:50:07 for 8 track miles (3:07:42)
1:16:58 back
4:24:40 for 18.35

2 mile segment times: 27:48, 27:37, 27:23, 27:16 track

This walk: I had to stretch my back (McKenzie exercises) prior to getting out there. Also this weird weather has been playing havoc with my left knee. But I had no problems while out there.

It was drizzling (lightly) at the start. The out and back were the easiest parts; the stuff on the track was the toughest stretch. I kept telling myself “I goat this”. The final stretch was easier than I had feared it would be; note the “back” stretch is net uphill so it is good that it was a tiny bit faster than the outstretch.

This is my 5’th walk of over 17 miles in my build up. The marathon is 6 weeks away; that gives me 4 training weeks left. One week will feature a parent’s weekend trip to see my daughter, and one will feature a hilly half marathon; I might have to get in an easy 4 miles prior to that.

So my plan:
24 August: 20 or bust.
31 August: lift/swim (4 mile race on Monday), 2 September (Tuesday): 4 hours in the morning.
7 September: half marathon with extra (17 total)
14 September: Parent’s weekend. 16 September (Tuesday) : 4 hours on the morning.

I’ll have MP walks (10 miles) at pace on Wednesdays when I don’t have a long walk on Tuesday.

Reptiles and Amphibians: Barbara and I usually eat Indian lunch on Sundays. Afterward, we went to a Reptile/Amphibian exhibition. I think that the African Bullfrog stole the show. It is one of those frogs that sure looks like a toad. There were some geckos and other iguanas, turtles, and yes, snakes.


August 17, 2014 Posted by | family, frogs, marathons, walking | , | Leave a comment


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