Working out: How I see myself vs. Reality

When I work out, this is how I see myself:


But there is reality:


Oh goodness……:-)

(ok, that was from 2011)

March 3, 2013 Posted by | laughing at myself, running, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Who are the bad guys? Who are the good guys?

First, a bit of mathematics and physics in action: coffee rings and randomness. There are several ideas in this “non-technical but non-insulting” article. One is that the shape of the tiny particles themselves help shape the patterns that they eventually form. Another: there is a nice lesson in randomness here. Please surf to the article to see an animation of a random Poisson process in action.

Conservatives vs. Liberals
On a personal level, conservatives (on the whole) are not that bad. In fact, it appears that they will intervene more quickly to help someone out:

And some research indicates that they might be more generous with individual charity, volunteering and blood giving. Yes, I know: blood donation rules are biased against liberals (no gay men, no one who has spent too much time abroad in certain countries (like the UK!)) and I know that much of conservative individual charity goes toward sprawling churches (of course, liberals tend to give to museums…yep..guilty…which is hardly “alms for the poor”). On the whole, I think that conservatives ARE better in this area.

But when it comes to the POLITICAL LEADERSHIP (and no, Democrats can’t point a finger about corruption: here, here), well, I think that too many Republicans are both exclusionary and too bent on short term political gain.

As far as being exclusionary: even Newt Gingrich sees it.

As far as being too focused on winning a short term political battle: the Republicans simply won’t negotiate. This comes as no surprise to many of us.

And as far as their “policy experts”: much of the time they consist of snake oil salesmen and credentialed people of limited competence:

In the article, the case for slow growth forever is mainly made by quoting Kevin Warsh, a former Fed governor. And Warsh is indeed someone who has been wrong about everything; a bubble denier who spoke of strong capital markets before the crash, a hawk who has been warning about the risk of inflation for three years, an invoker of invisible bond vigilantes who somehow managed to describe the supposed threat from these vigilantes as somehow both a certainty and unknowable.

If there is a special distinction to those of Warsh’s speeches and articles I’ve read, it’s this: he has had a habit of saying and writing things that are supposed to be profound, but say nothing at all. Can anyone tell me the point, if any, of this WSJ op-ed?

But wait: who is Kevin Warsh, anyway? Well, he’s a lawyer turned investment banker turned Bush appointee to the Fed turned Hoover fellow — not an economist at all. Now, I hate credentialism: there are plenty of fools with Ph.D.s, some fools with fancy prizes, and a fair number of first-rate economic thinkers without formal qualifications. Still, if someone is going to make pronouncements about how the whole nature of the business cycle has changed, you’d like some sign that somewhere in his life he has thought hard about, well, anything.

So why pay any attention at all to this guy on these matters? I guess it’s a different kind of credentialism — the Beltway notion that because somebody was once appointed to a policy position, he must be an expert. But that is, of course, ridiculous — and people at the Washington Post, who get to see former officials all the time, surely must know better.

Thanks Paul Krugman! 🙂

(cons vs. libs charity)

March 3, 2013 Posted by | mathematics, physics, politics, politics/social, republicans, statistics | , , | Leave a comment

Running Part II: run/walk calculator and shoe sole repair


I never had much with Shoe Goo lasting; I barely get a week out of it. But then, based on something I read in Bill Squires and Raymond Krise’s running book (they recommended athletic tape), I tried to put duct tape on the heel of my shoes. I found that three overlapping strips (3 deep) worked well; it is prolonging the sole life.

Back in 2002 I wrote a small program to calculate run/walk intervals (what pace one has to run and then walk in order to achieve a certain time in a race); I did this to practice Javascript programming. I let anyone use it; and someone did!

The original has since been taken down (it is an old geocities page) but here is a copy. This is of interest to me as I will probably have to run/walk my May marathon, and perhaps my training runs.

March 3, 2013 Posted by | marathons, running | , | Leave a comment

Am I doing it wrong? My Journey toward Physical Entropic Equilibrium

Workout notes
It was T’s birthday so I decided to do my short run with her small group; this was the course:


We started together and Crystal Kyle (a 1:43 half marathon runner) started talking to me and we kind of drifted away; a guy named Dave went with us. Note: Crystal was running my pace; I could not run her pace. 🙂

It was sunny, low to mid 20’s F (-7 C) and I was huffing and puffing; we averaged about 9:20 mpm because of me. But I got a nice, short workout which is what I wanted. While we were running; well, I let Dave and Crystal talk; I wanted them to talk! 😉 But Crystal brought up “speedwork”; it was just general discussion but I sort of “heard” (“you know you might not be so slow if you did some”). But I did ask about the type of workouts that they did.

Also, Running Central had a marathon group going and some of them were really doing well, even though they were late in their training runs. The runners I saw looked like “in shape” runners and one lady worked to stay ahead of us (ok, ahead of me; Dave and Crystal were slowing down to run with me) and she was near the end of a 16 miler.

Then I went home, changed into other workout clothes and hit the gym for some weights. My weight performance wasn’t that degraded, though the workout took me 80 minutes (which surprised me)

Rotator Cuff
Pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (first set was broken)
pull downs/Hammer Rows/pulley Curls: 3 sets of 10 each: 160 pull down, 200, 210 for the rows, 52.5 for the curls
bench: 135 x 10, 180 x 4, 160 x 9
incline press: 135 x 8, 135 x 9
military press: (supported, seated dumbbell): 10 x 50, 10 x 50, then 10 x 70 machine.
I also added 3 circuits through the ab machines: crunch, twist, sit back, vertical crunch (10 reps, 20 for the vertical crunch)
and 3 circuits though the leg machines: adduction, abduction, push backs. (10 reps each)

It doesn’t look like that much but it took me 80 minutes.
Note: I “rested” between upper body exercises with the legs/abs.

All of this is significantly degraded from where I once was; the 5.15 mile run would have been well under 40 minutes (at this effort level), the pull ups would have been sets of 15-20, and the bench: probably 4 x 225. Even worse, you can SEE the changes in my body as the photos toward the end of this post will show.

So, what can I do about it?

Answer: probably nothing. From the Boston Globe:

Of course, you can follow the perfect diet and be an avid exerciser, yet still face muscle loss as you age. Wolfe noticed a precipitous decline in his marathon performance a few years ago when he reached his early 60s; his pace was slowing and he felt more winded during training, despite his efforts to maintain his regular fitness regimen and eat adequate protein.

Just like you can’t ultimately avoid wrinkles, gray hair, and reading glasses, growing old with less muscle is inevitable. “You just have to reset your fitness goals,’’ Wolfe said. “You might be a little slower or weaker – maybe you can’t hit that golf ball as far – but you do your best without giving up on it.’’

Reality: I am working out as hard as I can; any more and I’ll visit my doctor again. I don’t want to do that. But that is reality: instead of training to improve, I am training to slow my rate of decline. Hey, I am not at ambient temperature yet…and ultimately I am getting a better deal from nature than many my age (or younger get).

So this isn’t so much a complaint (who to complain to: the Second Law of Thermodynamics?) as it is an acknowledgement that goal setting will become trickier and trickier, at least in terms of performance goals. Eventually, I might have to abandon that type of goal setting all together and instead say: “this season my goal race is: xxxx and I’ll strive to, say, beat the people who were finishing just in front of me last time” or something like that.

In running: my goal is my department chair and the two biologists at the Ag Lab. 🙂

My trip to Entropic Equilibrium: the first steps.


This was my only sub 40 minute 10K; I could bench press 205 7 times and 200 9 times in those days. Today, at perhaps 5 pounds lighter, that is 170 7 times and 165 10 times, on a good day. I’ve lost 35 pounds of bench press strength.

Here my 10K had slowed to 44 minutes or so (I got under 42 in 1998, and 42 in 1999). I could still do 15 pull ups then; now I can barely do 10.


Not much has changed since 2000, though I now walked more than I ran. My 5K run was still 23:15 even though most of my training was distance walking training (my 101 miles in 24 hours year).


Me in March 2010, 3 years ago. I had quit running and walking due to my meniscus tear (didn’t know what was wrong at that time) and was swimming and lifting. My bench press creeped up to 210 (about 15-20 pounds more than now) and I was perhaps 5-10 pounds heavier than I am right now. I was to trash my rotator cuff and end up having to lay off swimming and lifting as well; that was to happen a few months later.

Note how my muscles had become less defined than before. The loss of definition is stark.

2011: my post morbid obesity low point:

I had just started back with the weights after a LONG lay off. How bad was it? Bench pressing 135 was painful. Doing ONE pull up was painful. It was to get better. These photos were taken before a mile race where I struggled to run a 7:52 DOWNHILL mile. Yes, I had given double red blood cells (never again! whole blood only!); my legs felt like cement stumps.

July 2012: I’ve recovered somewhat.

My 5K had dropped to the high 24 to low 25 range. My distance running still sucked though. I had boosted my lifting a bit;
I was roughly to where I am currently, though I couldn’t swing 50 pound dumbbells into position to do the military presses. I can now.

March 2013: current:

Not much change since 2012; I am oh-so-slightly stronger in some exercises and have a tiny bit more endurance in the 10-12 mile run range. But the definition still isn’t there; my muscles are still “soft”.

March 3, 2013 Posted by | Personal Issues, running, weight training | , | Leave a comment

War on cancer and pop-tart guns?

This Smithsonian Magazine article on cancer is interesting. It talks about new “stealth cures”: this involves sending in molecules that have markers to not trigger immune system responses, or to get the cancer cells to not fight it. There is a lot here.

Evolution: Wallace worked out a theory of natural selection that was similar to Darwin’s yet he isn’t as well known as Darwin. Why? Here is a discussion on that topic. I recommend reading the comments: remember that, in a way, Darwin knocked humans off of the perch of being “different from the other animals” in some fundamental way.

Guns A kid shaped his strawberry pastry into a gun shape (so the teacher says) and gets suspended for two days? How does such BS make us safer? How does this teach students to respect authority? This is absurd.

March 3, 2013 Posted by | biology, evolution, science, social/political | , , | Leave a comment