Climate change: the wrong and right

Actually, climate science is NOT settled. What is settled is that:
1. the globe is currently warming and
2. humans are having a direct negative effect on this warming.

But we aren’t sure as to what will happen in the future. THAT is hard to predict. That human activity is warming the globe is settled and reducing carbon emissions is indeed a good thing.

And if you think that you know what is what, take this quiz. Or sure, I missed one question when I hit the wrong button and cringed, but I got a couple of guesses too. There are a lot of “metric” questions (e. g. “how much”), and I only got 65 percent (better than average, but still).

Now there is no excuse for ignorance on this level (in Congress, no less).

But conservatives have a point when they point out that preserving the environment starts at home, and large, liberal gatherings generate a ton of trash left behind, even when the gathering is supposed to be about the environment. That irritates the heck out of me too.

Hey, if you want to point the finger at me: I drive a Prius (when I drive) and walk to work everyday, so I don’t drive that much!

September 23, 2014 Posted by | environment, science, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Down for the count

I cancelled office hours yesterday and went home and basically spent the time on the couch or in bed. I did finish some stacks of grading though.
I am requesting to drop to the half marathon this weekend; if the past is a guide, I should feel much better on Thursday and be ready to start the half marathon on Sunday.

But this means I’ll have to find a fall marathon/30 mile/50K to do; probably either the Des Plains marathon (10 hour time limit!), McNotAgain (November 8, but could be muddy), Des Moines (city, 7 hour time limit, same weekend as Des Plains) or the Chicago 50k (8 hours to finish; 7 hours if you want an official time) on November 1.

I’ll get outside for an easy 3 mile walk in a few minutes and try to resume normal activity in a day or two.

September 23, 2014 Posted by | walking | , | Leave a comment

Ranking my top teams in College Football (and an NFL quip)

College Football

Of the teams that I follow (more or less):

1. Notre Dame (easy) 3-0 Predicted record: 10-2 (loss to Florida State and one other stumble somewhere)
2. Navy (two tough losses to Big Ten teams though) 2-2, Predicted record: 8-4 (loss to ND, one upset along the way)
3. Texas (38-7 over UNT, played UCLA tough) 1-2 Predicted record: 5-7: losses to Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and one more.
4. Illinois 3-1 (probably the nation’s worst “power 5 conference” 3-1 team) Predicted record: 5-7. Purdue (home), and possibly either Minnesota (home) or Northwestern (away) are the possible wins down the stretch.

Now if we are talking about the nation, as a whole: right now, I’d go with

1. Oregon
2. Alabama
3. Florida State (played tough opposition)
4. Oklahoma
5. Texas A&M

But there is a lot of football to be played..

NFL quip
How tough is NFL competition? Three weeks into the season, and there are THREE undefeated teams. THREE. Winning an NFL game is hard, no matter who you are playing.

September 23, 2014 Posted by | college football, football, NFL | | Leave a comment

Out of denial: I do have a cold…

Darn it…I knew that things were off because of Saturday and Sunday.

I do have a cold. It should clear up by this weekend, but unless I have a magical recovery by Thursday, I am dropping to the half marathon for this Sunday. Then, I’ll shift to a later October marathon; perhaps the McNot-Again and take it easy this time.

So, no working out today; maybe a leisurely walk in the sunshine to feel better; that’s it.

September 22, 2014 Posted by | Personal Issues | , | Leave a comment

Example of why good blue collar workers deserve good pay.

My passenger rear tire flattened out…fortunately in my driveway.

So, I figured I’d change it myself and drive it to the gas station. “No problem”, I said. I HAVE done this before…a few times.

But…to loosen the lug nuts…mostly frozen. I got all but one off my standing on the handle of the lug wrench. But the last: snapped the wrench head. About 30-40 minutes have elapsed.

So I call AAA.

Guy gets here; tire changed in 10 minutes ……IF that. It was probably more like 6-7 minutes.

Blue collar competence is worth good pay.

September 21, 2014 Posted by | economics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Driving around Peoria: the cycle is about to get worse

How it usually works in Peoria:

Winter: snow, ice…difficult to drive around at times.

Other three seasons: sea of orange barrels; many roads either partially or totally closed; our downtown has been torn up for years. Same for IH-74.

Repeat year after year.

Well, Peoria is facing some budget shortfalls. The problem:
raise taxes, and those who can afford to move, move. Those left behind: those who don’t pay much in taxes, so the tax base withers even if the population doesn’t. So: roughly the same population, but less total revenue.

Evidently, it is about to get worse.

PEORIA — Peoria County Engineer Amy McLaren is already bracing herself for the calls likely to come this winter about snow-covered roads.
“They’re going to be snowpacked some of the time. You aren’t going to be able to drive like you would in the summer without any worry. You are going to have to slow down and use some caution,” she said, days after county officials announced a possible $3 million shortfall for next year’s budget.
One way residents will feel that is on the roads. A possible way to save money is to reduce the amount of salt used by her fleet of trucks. Another way is to plow less or down to the pavement. With initial forecasts of another harsh winter, McLaren is planning for the worst, hoping things will be better than anticipated.
Using salt only on hills and intersections would reduce the amount of ordered. The county’s salt dome near the Peoria County Jail is largely empty because of last winter, and Peoria County will spend about $1.3 million this fall to purchase 16,000 tons of salt at about $80 a ton.


I don’t leave because I can walk to work. But population multiplies even as revenues flatten…or actually go down.

September 21, 2014 Posted by | Peoria, Peoria/local | | Leave a comment

Still feeling run-down….

I felt fine but slightly weak on Tuesday; a bit run down on Wednesday and have felt more so this weekend. Yesterday’s run was subpar and today’s walk: way subpar after getting to the track. 2:35 for 10 miles (more or less; perhaps 10.2): 33:38 out, (via the goose loop), 1:12:57 for 20 laps, lane 2, 14:58 4 laps lane 1 (2:01:34) and 34:11 back.

It was pretty though; perfect weather but my eyes are burning and my nose/throat are slightly sore; I just feel “uneasy”. Time to drink, drink, drink.

Screen shot 2014-09-21 at 3.44.40 PM

September 21, 2014 Posted by | walking | | Leave a comment

Illinois vs. Texas State: adventure all around (or: carbon copy of Western Kentucky game)

The adventure: I had run a 5K and was going to pick up Tracy …and got in the Prius only to find that the right rear tire was flat, flat, flat. But I had the Mustang to use and so I was off.

The game itself: featured a 1:57 (more or less) delay due to lightning; the total game time was a bit over 5 hours.


After the game: we drove through a massive thunder storm that added about 30 minutes to the normally 90 minute trip. But all in all, Tracy was good company and I enjoyed the experience.

Now to the game
Coming in, Illinois had scraped by a FCS team and a middling Conference USA team prior to getting blasted by Washington 44-19. Texas State blew out a terrible FCS team and got whipped at home by Navy (35-21) prior to travelling to Champaign.

Long and short: same formula as the first two home games. Trail, come back to lead in the second half, lose the lead, rally in the 4’th to seemingly put the game away, give up a late touchdown and then seal the win by recovering an onside kick. There was even a pick-6 for Illinois and an “almost pick 6 but set up a touchdown” by Texas State. Illinois got 485 yards total offense, but gave up 475, much of it in the first half.

Illinois got the kick off and scored a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage: 75 yard run “officially” but it was a screen pass where the ball was thrown backward.



Well, that was a fine way to start a game! Ok, the extra point was MISSED and that was to play a role later. But then the offenses stalled; there was an exchange of punts and, due to the wind, Texas State got the better of it. A Texas State drive plus extra point put them up 7-6.

Another Illinois punt, another Texas State touchdown drive; they had success with short passing and middle running. 14-6 Texas State, which is how the quarter ended.

Then came the long weather delay; we found a relatively cool spot to use (window facing the field).

Back to football…people clapped and the stadium was considerably emptier (not that it was that crowded to begin with).

Texas State dominated play; one drive ended in a missed field goal but another one ended in a touchdown, so it was now 21-6, Texas State.

Momentum shifted right before the half when Illinois used the final 2 minutes of the half to drive the length of the field (short passes mostly) to cut it to 21-13.

Momentum shifted then.

The Illinois defense played better in the second half (except for the final Texas State drive); they shut down the middle running game and sacked the quarterback 4 times (it seemed like more).


The defense forced a punt and got a big return setting Illinois up on the Texas State 33. Then on Illinois first play from scrimmage in the second half: another touchdown! But this time, they went for 2, and missed; it was still 21-19.

Another stop, another punt, and another touchdown drive (running and passing), but another attempt to hit a 2 point conversion failed and so it was 25-21, Illinois in the 3’rd. Illinois had the momentum and..once again, got the ball back.

But an errant throw (Texas State had dropped two possible interceptions earlier) lead to an interception and a run back to the Illinois 13. Two plays later, Texas State took the lead back 28-25, and once again, the Illinois offense appeared to stall.

Here was yet another 4’th quarter that started with Illinois trailing.


But once again, in the 4’th quarter, Illinois came back. First there was a 78 yard touchdown drive (score was on a pass); a key play happened when Illinois kicked a field goal on 4’th and 4, but Texas State ran into the kicker. So the Illini took the first down and finished with the touchdown.

Finally: 32-28; the Illini had a lead. Another stop, another drive took Illinois to the Texas State 2 with 3’rd and 1 (for a first down). But a penalty set them back, and so the drive ended in a field goal that put it 35-28 with 6 minutes to go.

Texas State started to throw some risky passes and one was intercepted and returned for a touchdown; now it was 42-28 with 2:41 to go.

But then came the dreaded “prevent defense” and a subsequent touchdown drive by Texas State (75 yards); a pass capped the drive with just over a minute left in the game…it was 42-35.

But an Illinois lineman recovered the onside kick and ran off the field with the ball…in elation.


That, plus one first down ended the wild, wild game.

Check out the Illinois highlights:

Hey, it wasn’t boring.

September 21, 2014 Posted by | college football, football | , | Leave a comment

Parents weekend 5K

It was humid but cool (high 50’s, low 60’s) but few people showed up. In fact, the winning time was 22:3x and the next two were 23:3x (a middle age guy and an older guy). Your’s truly was 4’th in 26:38 and the first woman was 5’th about 1 minute behind me.

I was 16:23 at 2 miles but was a bit discouraged; the two guys in front of me were way in the distance, almost out of sight and I had no one breathing down my neck. It was a decent workout but not much of a race. I finished with about an 8:45 mile; I should have had more mental toughness than that.

Screen shot 2014-09-20 at 10.30.01 AM

Previous times: April 2012
October 2012
May 2013
October 2013

September 20, 2014 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment

Today: 5k, football, weather, etc.

Our university has a 5K that runs right past my house and it starts in 90 minutes. So, of course, I can’t resist. :-) It is in the high 50’s so I’ll have only my lack of running conditioning to blame.

Right now, I am doing a little of everything each week: longish walks (15-20 miles), a few short runs (4-6 miles), a couple of weight sessions and a couple of 2200 yard swims (2 km). After next week’s walking marathon, I’ll probably add a swim/lifting session and cut back a little on the midweek walk.

Heel: still slightly sore; sometimes feels like mild PF..but going up on my toes doesn’t hurt?

I have tickets for Illinois vs. Texas State. Texas State used to be Southwest Texas State (I-AA…now FCS) and now they are a FBS team in the Sun Belt. They lost to Navy at home (35-21); they trailed 28-0 in the second quarter and Navy ran all over them. So, this is a team that Illinois *should* be able to handle; they should be a step down from Washington. But the emphasis is on “should”; who knows until they play the game.

Navy plays Rutgers at home; THAT should be interesting. This is Navy’s second game against a Big Ten team this year. Rutgers is 2-1, having lost to Penn State last weekend.

Also of interest: Miami vs. Nebraska. Is Nebraska all smoke and mirrors or are they for real?

Weather: we are supposed to have rain in Peoria this afternoon, but not in Champaign (where the game is). We’ve had an unusually cool September but the planet, on the whole, has been warm. What is in store this winter? It could go either way. A bad winter could be bad news for us, as budget cuts has cut our plowing/salt budget.
I need to buy some decent snow boots to walk to work and to shovel.

Secularism This is a nice piece in Time Magazine which was generated by the recent incident in which the Air Force wanted to keep “So Help Me God” as a required part of the enlistment oath. They wisely recanted: (this is part of the article)

It took the threat of a lawsuit before the Air Force agreed on Wednesday to allow airmen to omit the phrase “So help me God” as part of a required oath. Until then, they claimed an airman stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was ineligible to reenlist after he crossed out the phrase on his reenlistment form.

This controversy will rile up many people of good will—not against the military, but against the airman. Why make a big deal out of words that the majority of Americans believe in? Just cross your fingers if you must, and say the words. Why rock the boat?

Here’s why: The incident betrays a subtext of intolerance and hostility toward secular people that is embedded in American culture and public institutions. The Air Force was ready to end a man’s military career because he would not submit to its religious demands.

To secular Americans, requiring an oath to God is like asking a Jewish airman to swear, “So help me Jesus” or a Christian to say, “So help me Allah.”

I love the article, but have a minor quibble with the last sentence in the quote: asking me to swear an oath to God is NOT like asking a Jew to pray to Jesus or a Christian to pray to Allah.

Asking me to pray to God is exactly like asking me to pray to the Tooth Fairy. On the other hand, asking a believer to pray to a different deity is asking them to commit blasphemy which, to a believer, is a serious offense which can cause emotional and mental anguish.

September 20, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, religion, running, science, social/political | , | Leave a comment


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