Thank You!!!!

It finished snowing again. 😦

I admit that it wasn’t always easy to get inspired to get out there. But there were a few factors that helped me keep going:












December 31, 2012 Posted by | big butts, racewalking, running, spandex | | Leave a comment

2012 Walking, Running and Endurance Sports Summary

Workout notes Went ok, though I didn’t do abs.
Rotator cuff
Pull ups: 5 sets of 10
Bench: 10 x 135, 5 x 180, 4 x 180
dumbbell rows/bench: rows: 2 sets of 10 x 65, 1 set of 10 x 70, bench: 1 set of 10 x 65, 2 of 10 x 70
military, curl, pull-downs: military: 15 x 45 dumbbell, 15 x 50 dumbbell, 10 x 180 (machine),
curl: 3 sets of 10 x 70 (machine) pull downs: 1 set 7 x 162.5, 2 sets of 10 x 150.

Then: 3 miles on the treadmill: 10:19, 19:09, 27:33 (28:23 for 5K) Sped up; kept the level at 1 after a warm up.

I saw some I knew: Peggy, Bob, Rich, Ana, Cathie R. and lots of women in spandex; some very tight and clingy.

Summary of 2012 (running/walking)

I’ve added the running/walking miles since 1997; note that all miles prior to 2002 were running miles only.

Year Miles remarks
1997 1378 20:02 5K, 5:54 mile
1998 2129 19:53 5K, 41:27 10K, 5:41 1600
1999 1274 achilles, 1:34 half, 3:45 marathon
2000 1729 3:38 marathon, 1:35 half
2001 2165 1:37 half, 3:40 marathon, 20:47 5K
2002 1967 achilles, walking, 21:37 5K, 3:57 run, 4:44 mar. walk, 6:22 50k walk, 30:43 5K walk (j)
2003 2514 ultras, 2:17 half walk, 30:42 5K walk (j), 8:31 1500 m walk (j)
2004 2714 23:41 100 walk, 12:46 trail 50 walk, 18:03 3K walk (j), 6:20 50k walk
2005 2778 2 trail 100 finishes, 6:29 50K walk
2006 1498 piriformis, 83 24 hour walk
2007 1794 ultra fails
2008 2059 24:22 5K, 2:25 half walk
2009 1934 24:01 5K run, 5:12 mar. walk, 100 mile (47:55), knee
2010 1273 knee, 30 mile trail walk, 17:30 2 mile run
2011 1601 25:35 5K run (end), 54 mile 24 hour walk, 2:22 half m. walk.
2012 1922 24:34 5K, 1:23 15K, 6:59 mar. walk(!), 2:24 half mara. walk.
total 30,729 10642 from 97-02, 20087 from 03-12

AG means I won an age group award or “walk category” award of some sort
Non-5K Spandex Chases
First Light Half Marathon Walk 2:34 (AG)

McNaughton 50 mile DNF

Wildlife Prairie Park 4 mile (6.4 km) XC run 37:07

Lake Wobegone Marathon walk 6:58:58(AG)

West Peoria Jamboree 4 mile (6.4 km) 33:52

Galesburg Half Marathon walk 2:30:18

Pair Up for Health “3 mile” XC/obstacle 25:33(AG)

Steamboat 15K 1:36:55

Track meet: (dnf 5K, 7:08 1500)

Main Street mile 7:18 (100 F)

Jubilee trail 10K (1:27)

IVS Half Marathon walk 2:24:46

Morton Pumpkinfest 10K run 53:50

Bridge to Bridge 4 mile (4.2) 35:29

Canal Connection 10K 54:28

ICC Run101 15K 1:23:18 (AG)

Trot for Tots 2 mile (1.95?) 14:53

2012 5K runs:
26:12 Jingle Bell 5K: 7:38/8:49/9:43 (1 December) (3.15 miles?)
24:51: Boo Run 5K: 8:08/7:56/8:46 (20 October) (AG)
25:45: Bradley Homecoming Tippet 5K (13 October) (AG)
(25:53 for 3.2) 8:01, 23:53 (3). Stride to Unite (22 September) (AG)
25:27 8:00, 8:20, 9:06 Pekin Marigold 8 September (AG)
25:12 (Hanna City 25 August) 8:04, 8:05, 9:01
27:21 (Cystic Fibrosis 25 August) 8:53 8:43, 9:44
25:47 (Yates City, 18 August)
27:59 August 5 MathFest (7:36)
26:07 Run for the Health of it July 14 8:28 8:49, 8:49 (AG)
27:46 July 4 Firecracker 8:09 8:43 10:53
25:03 May 26 River Run 8:08, 8:07, 8:47
25:13 Race for the Cure May 12 (8:25, 7:34, 9:12) (AG)
24:34 May 5 Run to Remember (7:54, 7:45, 8:54)
25:41 Bradley U. April 28
25:14 CIDA March 31 (8:27, 8:17, 8:29) (AG)
25:08 Interplanatary March 24 (8:14, 8:19, 8:34) (AG)

December 31, 2012 Posted by | running, time trial/ race, walking | Leave a comment

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 430,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 8 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I don’t like winter!

Screen shot 2012-12-30 at 11.27.52 AM

Ok, I forced myself out into the 20 F degree winter morning (sunny) and attempted to run 10 miles on the East Peoria Trail. There were several 100 meter long ice patches; I’d say about 75 percent of the trail from the Fondulac building to what I call the 5 mile turn around (near Morton) was runnable. But those ice patches wore me out; I was reduced to shuffling and it took me 1:55 to do the course (usually 17-20 minutes less).

Even worse, my legs ached; this was sort of like trail running. I am not used to it. Or I’ll put it another way: the return trip took 1 minute LONGER than the out; usually the return is 4-5 minutes faster.

I saw a couple of other runners out there and a couple of walkers; and there was the usual 18-19 minute a mile couple going out for their 2 mile walk giving the exaggerated GOOD MORNING at about the time I was struggling. I gurgled a greeting back; I wanted to flip them off. 🙂

Why I hate winter:
1. Snow.
2. Ice
3. Static electricity (I get shocked all winter long, though the use of lotion reduces this somewhat)
4. Cold.
5. Pounds of extra sweaty gear.
6. putting on and peeling off all of that sweaty gear.
7. scraping the car
8. People who like winter, especially couch potatoes who like winter. My response to “I hope that we get snow” is “f*ck you!”.
9. Holidays: socializing that I don’t want to do and travel that I don’t want to do.
10. Early darkness.

Every year, I complain about winter all winter long; I whine and grumble and wish that I had written a better dissertation so I could have landed a job in a warm weather location.

Screen shot 2012-12-30 at 11.38.05 AM

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Peoria, Peoria/local, running, whining | , | Leave a comment

Shying away from the cold

All of my miles, save the 4 I just walked, have been inside. The cold really isn’t that bad and the footing isn’t that bad right now. But I just don’t feel like fighting the cold outside; that is unusual for me.

The Illinois River is NOT frozen though there is some thin ice in the marinas. I saw a couple of dog walkers and a couple of runners; that is about it. Though the temperature was only in the mid 20’s, the wind really kicked up and I pulled up my hood.

My mood went from “being down” to perking up a bit.

Football: right now, Navy is being blown away by Arizona State; sorry to say I am not surprised. Navy doesn’t have the speed to stay with the Sun Devil pass receivers.

December 29, 2012 Posted by | college football, walking, whining | Leave a comment

Non-custodial parent follies

Well, one thing about being a non-custodial parent in a case in which one lives a great distance away from one’s kid is that some things can come up that upset visit plans.

My daughter was scheduled to fly into Chicago today, but she ended up throwing out her back and wasn’t in shape to fly; the doctor prescribed a few days of bed rest followed by a few days of very light activity.

Unfortunately, my back issues started an an earlier time in my life, and as a young man (18) I had such a problem that required bed rest followed by physical therapy. It wouldn’t surprise me if I passed these “tricky back” genes onto her. That is far from fatal though; I am pretty active most of the time. But alas, no winter visit from my daughter this year.

Hence in a few days, I’ll drive to go see her; fortunately hotel rooms aren’t that expensive. It is a long trip, but getting out of the cold is always nice, though winter has not terribly bad by our standards…so far. And, she can use the money sunk into the airline tickets within the next year to come see me; perhaps this summer.

Who knows; perhaps by the time I am through with this trip we’ll have a reasonable deal on the fiscal cliff, though no deal is better than a bad one.

And please, stop it about “Obama is raising Congressional pay>” What has happened is that he has lifted a federal pay freeze, which mostly affects low to middle income federal employees, many who are facing either a lay-off or a furlough. It would be wise politics for Congress to exempt itself from this.

December 29, 2012 Posted by | economy, Personal Issues, politics | Leave a comment

Projections…a loss of information.

Workout notes Weights then a 4 mile treadmill walk. In all honesty, I walked on the treadmill because I was lazy; the roads aren’t that bad.

rotator cuff
pull ups: 5 sets of 10
superset: abs and incline bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 155, 5 x 150, 6 x 145
superset rows and dumbbell bench press: rows: 3 sets of 10 x 65, bench press: 2 sets of 10 x 65, 1 set of 10 x 70
superset: military press, pull down, curl: military press: 2 sets of 15 x 50 dumbbell, 1 set of 10 x 70 (each) machine,
pull down: 3 sets of 10 with 160 (one with a rotated grip), curl: 3 sets of 10 x 70 (machine).

walking: treadmill, 2 miles at 15 mpm where I upped the incline from 1 to 8 (every two minutes) and then back down, then with the incline decreasing from 5 to eventually 1, increased the speed to 12 mpm. Second 2 miles took 25:10. Again, I was too lazy to put on cold weather gear.

But it paid off as it turns out that Barbara was leaving HER workout (third one in the last few days) and so I caught her in time for us to eat at the Indian buffet.

I admit that this is a cool video:

So what is going on? This is an example of mathematical projection: the image you are seeing is a projection of objects in 3 space being projected onto a 2 dimensional screen (sort of). Our brain attempt to decode what it sees.

Schematically, it is something like this:


Imagine a light at the origin and a vertical screen 3 units away. In between you can place objects; here you see the “semi-circle” (looks too bent to be a circle) and the line segment are different objects at different distances from the screen, yet BOTH objects cast the same “shadow” or “image”. You could NOT distinguish these two objects by the image they cast on the screen.

In short, “projection” loses information, by design.

There are all sorts of examples and implications of this concept. One of the most interesting ones comes from statistics and the famous Anscombe data sets. These are 4 very different data sets which, when one applies simple linear regression, yields not only the same regression line, but also the same correlation coefficient r and the same confidence intervals for the regression coefficients (up to a tiny difference).


Mathematically, think of it this way: a linear regression in this case can be thought of as a map from the set of, in this case, 11 different vectors in R^2 (denoted by (x_i, y_i) ) to 5 real numbers: \sum x_i, \sum y_i, \sum (x_i)(y_i), \sum x_i^2, \sum y_i^2 . (linear algebra exercise: write these 5 quantities in terms of the inner products of the various vectors and vector components). Or, one could see this as a projection from the sets of two 11 dimensional vectors (one consisting of the x components, one of the y components) onto the same set of numbers.

Why? Remember that the linear regression coefficients, the confidence intervals and the correlation coefficients are completely determined by these 5 quantities. So, a linear regression is a type of projection, and yes, you lose information when you do it.

December 28, 2012 Posted by | mathematics, statistics, walking, weight training | , , , | 1 Comment

Unity My….Gluteal Muscles

Step One. Atheist Scientist (often a prominent one) says (honestly): “science and religion are not compatible”.

Of course, this is true, if one defines religion as it is often practiced in the west (evolution is directionless, our planet is only one super tiny place in a vast, multi-billion galaxy universe, virgins don’t give birth to babies, snakes don’t talk, dead people don’t come back to life, etc.). One can find types of religion that talk about how people should live their lives, but that isn’t the type of religion that people in the western democracies are exposed to. One can also talk about an “indifferent to humans” deist type of deity, but that isn’t what is usually meant by religion.

So I see this movement as one that is trying to put some honesty into the discussion. But we seem to have an etiquette (in the US) that puts religious beliefs into the category of “stuff that shouldn’t be critiqued” and to offer a critique is to behave a bit like this:

Speaking of common “feel good” misconceptions, there is the misconception that, because the American People like policy X, Congress (particularly the House) will pass policy X. Wrong. The House is elected locally, and what seems like “common sense” in one region is an anathema in another. What I see as “obstructionism” is seen as “standing up for us” in another district.

And no, businessmen (or business people) wouldn’t solve our problems if only they could bypass Congress and get together. For one thing: their point of view is very narrow and, they often simply don’t know what they are talking about WHEN IT COMES TO A NATIONAL ECONOMY. One succeeds as business by getting one’s group “on the same page”, delivering as little as possible for as much as possible (profit is revenue minus expense, so you maximize the revenue while minimizing the expense) and by running competitors out of business.

On an unrelated note: here Paul Krugman talks about Social Security. When it was “fixed” a few years ago, increasing life expectancy was factored in. What was NOT factored in is how the share of GDP that somes from payrolls would drop; right now capital is a bigger part of the slice. Hence reforms might have to change the mix of how Social Security is funded.

December 28, 2012 Posted by | Democrats, economy, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, science | , , , | Leave a comment

Come together? Not in this lifetime…

Workout notes Since I won’t be running on Saturday, I figured out that I needed a medium/long run today and one on Sunday (weights and medium walking tomorrow).

So I went to the university gym (local roads still have icy patches) and decided to run somewhere between 8 and 10 miles, split between our “8 laps to the mile” indoor track and the treadmill.

What happened: 10K (50 laps) on the track in 1:01, 5K (3.11 miles) on the treadmill in 29:04. The track: 19:55 (2 miles), 9:49, 9:35, 9:40, 9:37 (58:38) then the treadmill went 9:50, 19:05, 28:12, 29:04 (slight variation of the incline). That is 1:30:04 or 9:40 mpm for 15K. That is far from stellar but better than my usual post-blood donation week workouts.

Note: I decided to leave the track as it is a “some rubber on concrete” type of operation; it is probably just a tiny bit softer than pavement but I could feel the pounding a bit. The whole time: first 58 minutes: one walker (a guy); last two minutes: two guys got on. It was very, very empty.

I like the Field Museum in Chicago, but there is trouble afoot. Evidently, there is some movement to cut back on the science research being sponsored/performed there. As Jerry Coyne points out: that is really the heart of a top caliber museum, even if the cutting edge research is hidden from view. Yeah, I’ve noticed the “dumbing down” of the displays, but the reality appears to be this: (opinion only)
the more expensive a museum is, the more patrons it needs. The more patrons it draws, the more “regression to the mean” effects occur which leads to the museum playing lighter demands on the visitors.

I still remember my trip to the Los Alamos science museum. It was small, and I spent 4 hours there! But you should have seen many of the other visitors; it was a “come in…give a blank glance and leave” all within 15-20 minutes time.

This was one of the exhibits: they explained why the Tokomak had to be in the shape of a torus: the only two smooth surfaces that have nowhere vanishing vector fields are the torus and the klein bottle, and only the former embeds in 3-space (this is a consequence of the Gauss-Bonnet Theorem).

They gave a display of the “hairy ball” theorem, etc. The museum worked for me, but I wonder how popular it was with the public in general. 🙂

Speaking of education Randazza’s blog takes another swing at campus speech codes. The argument here appears to be: if you don’t let students discuss emotionally charged topics, then the dialogue becomes sterile and students with differing views might tend to withdraw into like minded groups.

I don’t know; one thing is that student with student speech is different from faculty to student speech. Here is why: when I am in the front of the class room, my job is to teach mathematics and NOT to have a captive audience for my social opinons. And were I to say something like: “well, Mexicans are too stupid to ever learn math”, I would probably damage my credibility to teach mathematics to this student population, thereby harming my ability to do my job.

On the other hand, being too PC might also harm our ability to educate. Example: yes, the earth is about 4 billion years old, modern animals did evolve by a process that shows ZERO signs of being designed and the current animal kingdom shares common ancestry. Those are FACTS.

Other facts: certain racial groups in the United States commit certain crimes at a higher rate than other groups (African Americans are more likely to commit homicide (and be victims too, especially males), white people are more likely to drive while intoxicated, etc.) Statistically speaking, women are not as physically strong as men (though a female Olympic weight lifter is stronger than all but a tiny percentage of males). Certain groups score higher on IQ tests than other groups. Countries with higher religiosity commit homicide at higher rates than countries with lower religiosity, and the same applies to states in the United States.

These are all facts and all of these make one group or another uncomfortable. But part of education is learning to confront uncomfortable reality and make sense of it.

So, I understand the need to, say, keep a skinhead group from burning crosses on the quad lawn. But controversial topics SHOULD be discussed on a college campus!

This is tough to remember: politically speaking, one person’s obstructionism is someone else’s “stand up and fight for us”. Our House of Representatives consists of people from wildly differing districts and while Congress has a low approval rating on the whole, people, in general, disapprove of OTHERS in Congress and not their own Representative. Example: my friends (and I!) might think that John Shimkus is a delusional idiot but he is reasonably popular in his district.

I admit that I live in a place that made things worse. For the longest time I was in a Republican US House District (IL-18) but, thanks to redistricting, put into a Democratic leaning one (IL-17). So for the first time since 1990 (when I lived in Austin, Texas), I voted for the winner in a contested US House race. I did vote for Ray LaHood a couple of times, but that is when he had zero or crackpot opposition.

As far as Republicans go, read this “mainstream” article from Town Hall:

As a candidate for president of the United States, it is incumbent on me to make a statement regarding the Sandy Hook massacre and to explain how my policies would help prevent other such massacres should I become president. As I discuss this sensitive topic, it is also incumbent on me to sound more rational and articulate than the incumbent. That will not be difficult.


First and foremost, concealed weapons permits decrease violence. The rationale is simple if we consider that crime only happens when a motivated offender encounters a suitable target in the absence of a capable guardian. Everyone knows that the gunless are suitable targets for violent crime. This is particularly the case when there is no one around to guard them.

So my plan will turn these teachers into capable guardians. I really think everyone will benefit when teachers stop taking “social justice in the classroom” and other silly education classes in order to be certified to teach our kids. Simply put, there can be no social justice when children are being slaughtered in the schoolhouse.

2. More male teachers (and fewer metrosexual students). Some have suggested that most female teachers would not feel comfortable around guns. So they might be deterred from teaching if they have to go through weapons certification, which requires firing a weapon. This is not a problem as far as I am concerned.

For far too long, men have been grossly underrepresented in the teaching profession. This has had a profound impact on young men. From kindergarten to high school graduation, they are too often in the position of trying to please a female authority figure. This lack of balance affects their relationships with both women and men. A constant concern with pleasing women eventually turns a man into a woman. That is why we have so many young adult metrosexual males talking about their feelings.

Simply put, having gun toting male role models in the classroom will be good. Having your student taught by Ted Nugent just might keep him from becoming Ted Baxter.

3. Fewer liberals in the teaching profession. For years, conservatives have been looking for a cure to the problem of liberal indoctrination in our schools. […]

Ok, on the flip side of this: what would I find appealing? This Slate article is about how a candidate can appeal to the “no specified religion” voter (different from an atheist voter; the atheist voter would be a proper subset of this block).

I’ll highlight a couple of points:

2. Even if you’re religious, don’t gratuitously bash or exclude those who aren’t. For the most part, the nonreligious are politically realistic. We know that in a society as religious as the United States, some amount of pandering is an electoral necessity. But just because you speak to churches doesn’t mean you can’t also speak to the unchurched. In March 2012, for example, the Reason Rally brought together tens of thousands of American nonbelievers on the National Mall in Washington, DC. One of the speakers at that event was Iowa senator Tom Harkin, and despite some grumbling over his support of non-evidence-based medicine, we recognized that it took political courage for him to address us. The next time he’s in a tight race, it’s very possible that a few Iowa nonbelievers will remember that, and will be willing to do just a little bit more to support him.


6. Stand up for science. The nonreligious have no use for religious dogmas being passed off as science. We want candidates who take a firm line against creationism or abstinence-only sex ed, who affirm that these are religious ideas that can be taught at home or in church, but which have no place in our secular public schools. But it doesn’t end with opposing religiously motivated pseudoscience: we also want to see good science promoted and supported. We want candidates who’ll support generous funding for fundamental scientific research, and not just those branches of science that have military applications. We want to see candidates who accept, and are willing to act on, the overwhelming scientific consensus about the reality of human-caused climate change (as compared to the conservatives who deny it for explicitly religious reasons). We want investment in alternative energy, in next-generation infrastructure and mass transit, and in making higher education as widely available and affordable as possible. Since it’s a well-known fact that greater education correlates with less religious extremism, this is not only good policy, it’s good politics, and it benefits both progressive Americans and America as a whole.

Yes, Sen. Harkin’s support for quack/woo “medicine” irritated me too. But no one is perfect.

December 27, 2012 Posted by | atheism, Democrats, economy, education, Illinois, mathematics, politics, politics/social, republicans, running, science | , , | Leave a comment

Some science, social speculation, and fun

Fun: if you have xfinity, the Brothers McMullen is a sort of fun comedy. It also raises some interesting points about domestic violence, relationships, infidelity and religion.

One note: during the movie, one of the characters has an affair. Of course, the wife confirms it when she finds an unopened prophylactic in his pants pocket. I’ve sometimes thought that if I really wanted to get back at my wife for something, I’d buy one and leave it in a pants pocket for her to find. Unfortunately I doubt that it would fool her. 😦


A bit of science
Drug testing: drug tests are not foolproof:

Last year, UNC Hospitals increased use of a urine test to identify tetrahydrocannabinol-delta 9-carboxylic acid, or THC, the main chemical component of marijuana. The screening protocol had been revised to be consistent with the latest recommendations for newborn drug screening.

In the study, Hammett-Stabler said that clinical labs received a call in July 2011 from nurses in the newborn nursery asking about an increase in positive THC results from the drug screens. While urine samples tested positive, samples from the first bowel movement were not. Something was causing the positive test results and it wasn’t marijuana use. The mothers’ and newborns’ drug histories showed no potential agents that could alter a screening test.

So what was it? Evidently it was something in the baby wash! Wow. Hat tip: Randazza.

Science and Faith
Jerry Coyne gives a 68 minute talk on why “science” and “religion” are incompatible. Personally: most religions that are practiced in the USA require that the laws of science be suspended at isolated moments (some “ration of miracles” as Richard Dawkins puts it). But there is more to it.

Society and Economics
Has technology advanced to the point to where our current economic system will no longer grow? (Idea: we are at a point where very few workers will be required, so…)

Paul Krugman throws out this question…and does NOT dismiss it as a crackpot question.

December 26, 2012 Posted by | economy, humor, movies, religion, science, social/political, technology | 1 Comment