No…you can’t start over

I had talked about going with my daughter to orientation.

Needless to say, I thought about my undergraduate years.

I was last in the classroom, as a student, when I took some masters degree classes in industrial engineering. I stopped and never did the thesis. I took 33 hours; 4.0 but never did the thesis or project. But…my classes were mostly applied statistics; it wasn’t as if I was learning something that was completely new to me.

So…the fantasy that THIS TIME, I’d do it right, carry my undergraduate knowledge straight to grad school and then kick butt and finish at the top…are BS. Eventually, I’d bump up against my natural limitations, just as I did before.

I had my chance and now it is time for the young people (such as my daughter) to have their chance.

You cannot go home again, and there is no “starting over from scratch with a young mind”; I can only go forward from where I am now. 😦

I wish I had done better but I suppose that is common.

June 30, 2013 Posted by | education | , | Leave a comment

Knowledge: becoming an everyday part of the mind

Workout notes
Weights only. I was sort of distracted; I went at noon and there were people there. One young man did vertical sit ups while hanging upside down from a bar…with extra weights.

I wasn’t that impressive. 🙂

Hip Hikes, Achilles, Abs (3 sets of 10: v. crunch, crunch, sit back), squats: 4 sets of 5: 45, 65, 95, 95. The last sets were easier.
Pull ups: 2 sets of (3 x 5), 1 set of (2 x 5), 1 set of 10
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 8 x 170
incline: 7 x 150, 5 x 150 (very distracted on the last set…my head wasn’t in it)
seated military: 3 sets of 12 x 50
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 65
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
curls (pulley) 3 sets of 10 x 57.5

I am going to have to jazz it up a bit. I appear to be “stuck”.

The weather was pleasant so I just cut grass and gave the legs a day off. I ran on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

I had some conversations with my daughter. I warned her that there is a difference in depth of knowledge and how one uses it.
There is the level of knowledge in that you can, say, “do” a physics problem that is presented to you.
Now given a general problem and figuring out WHAT physics problem it is: that is a higher level knowledge.
Higher still: is having that knowledge as a daily working part of the brain.

Here is an example of this in action:

Imagine a ball on a string that is going around a center pole (like a tether ball). If the string is suddenly cut, how does the ball travel: in a curved path or a straight line? Answer: find out here. For many of us, our “common sense” tells us that if the ball has a curvy path and then the string is cut, the ball still has some “curviness” left; it is an “impetus” type of physics.

What is going on? Well, part of it is that it takes time for new knowledge to seep though the brain. Part of it is that new knowledge is often taught in simplified form.

Example: when we do the “fire a bullet straight up in the air” problem, IF we neglect air resistance, the bullet returns to the muzzle height at muzzle velocity. Now when we factor in air resistance, that isn’t quite true, but it does come down fast enough to be lethal in some cases and fast enough to cause injury in any event.

Still, you can’t convince some people that firing a gun into the air is NOT harmless!

I also remember the days of discussing curveballs in baseball. Yes, they do follow a “curved line” path (the spinning ball causes pressure differences which moves the ball sideways) but, in spite of how they look to a batter, they do NOT go straight and suddenly shift direction.

And if you think that moving objects is easy to analyze, read this article about boomerangs.

So my summary:

1. It takes time for classroom knowledge to become everyday working knowledge
2. One has to be intellectually mature enough to know what simplifications are made in the classroom and how they affect the predictions that one might make. Reality often induces a need for correction factors (e. g. friction, air resistance, etc.)

More articles:
Still, there are some who will NOT change their minds no matter how much evidence to the contrary is presented! There is a fine line between rejecting a general principle based on either an exceptional event or a “false positive” and hanging on to a long discredited hypothesis.

IMHO, a conservative is someone who is prone to making Type II errors and a liberal is prone to making Type I error.

Evolutionary behavior
This bird will lure you away from its nest…and even feign injury to get you to attack IT and leave its eggs alone!

June 30, 2013 Posted by | evolution, nature, physics, science, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Return to Peoria

Workout notes: This morning it was cool and drizzly. I ran 21:00 out (20:30 for 2 miles), 20 minutes back (18:09 for 2 miles; included 4:20 half, 8:34 at one mile; had to walk at 10:20; walked again a minute later and ran it in from 13:40 on. It was “almost tempo”.

I finished the second day of orientation and had a lot of fun with my daughter; I then drove her to the airport.

Some interesting things happened:

1. At the pizza place where we ate lunch: we were waited on by a young woman who will be taking her orientation at a later time; she got to talk to my daughter.

2. At the airport: many of the NFL rookies at the symposium were flying out. The linemen were HUGE…HUGE. All were buff.

3. At a rest stop: it was crowded and I saw a SUV back out; I pulled into that space. The SUV had a Naval Academy alumni license plate holder.

4. Along one of the highways, I saw the proverbial chicken! Yep; it sure LOOKED like a domestic chicken and it was walking alongside the road.

5. At one rest stop, (off of I-80) a car came in too fast; it pulled into a parking spot and overshot; the bumper went onto the sidewalk. A young woman got out…it appeared as if she had a beer. A young man got out, threw a fast food container onto the sideway (two trash cans just a few feet away) and stumbled to a picnic table. They got back in the car and I walked in front of it, glared at them as I picked up the container and threw it in the trash. They kind of looked back; then the male and female switched places but they did NOT drive away. WTF? Drunk?

When I got home, my wife informed me that someone is having fun at my expense (from May, 2011):

Screen shot 2013-06-29 at 10.46.58 PM

This means: NO partial credit for anyone this upcoming semester!

June 30, 2013 Posted by | running, travel | , | Leave a comment

Baldwin Wallace Orientation

Workout notes Just over 4 miles on a bike path; 21:30 out, 19:45 back (9:45 pace on the way back); the cool air (60’s, but very humid) felt good compared to yesterday. Note: every .5 mile is marked; I might do some “broken” 800 meter intervals on that path tomorrow.

Today’s run felt better than yesterday’s run, but that was mostly because it was 15 F cooler.

We are at new student orientation. It opened at 8 am; we got there at 8:10 (no line); now it is 8:45 and the line is out the door. I LOVE getting there early; my daughter has checked into her dorm room, has her student ID and is filling out work study paperwork. This is going to happen.

In all honesty, I first heard of Baldwin Wallace when I watched some of the Division III football play-offs. It is a small school near Cleveland, Ohio and about a 7.5 hour drive from Peoria (470 miles via I-80).

I am wearing a name tag with her mom’s first name crossed out. 🙂

June 28, 2013 Posted by | running, travel | , | Leave a comment

At which point I hated myself……


76 F, 80 percent humidity. Bleah.

I decided to try to get some steady state running in; I did 7 miles of my 8 mile course in 77 minutes. Yuck. I had just finished all of the hills and had 1 flat mile to go; I started to pick it up and then just quit and walked the short cut home; I have an 8 hour drive to do today.

I was completely drenched in sweat; just drenched.

Going up the hills I cursed myself for giving blood…”why do I care if I help out some (&*^%$#!!) (insert type of person that you don’t like here)”…I thought at the time. I didn’t say I was being reasonable; I was cranky and whiny.

The 10 mph wind did me no good at all; the air was too saturated to have a cooling effect.

But I got my distance in, and I’ve got my running shoes with me. I’ll probably get in a short (3-4 mile) run tomorrow; perhaps a short I or T workout Saturday, and if I am still on the road, perhaps a trail loop on Sunday.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | running, travel | , | Leave a comment

DOMA, climate change and all that

Workout notes
weights: usual hip hikes, achilles, rotator cuff, ab sets (3 sets of 10: crunch, v. crunch, sit back)
squats: 4 sets of 5: 45, 75, 95, 95
pull ups: 2 sets of (4 x 5 reps (tiny rests; change grip), 1 set of 10 (burn!)
dumbbell military/row super set: 3 sets each (12 x 50 military, 10 x 65 row)
incline: 10 x 135, 5 x 155, 7 x 150
curl/pull down super set: 3 sets each: 10 x 160 pull down, 10 x 30 dumbbell curls
back, etc.

See a butterfly that appears to be right side up when it is actually upside down; this fools predators.

President Obama’s climate change battle plan: involves executive orders and science. Here is a short Scientific American write up:

The plan, which consists of a long list of actions the executive branch can take with no help or hindrance from Congress, has three “pillars.” One is to cut carbon dioxide emissions, two is to “prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change,” and three is lead international efforts to achieve the same two goals.

Many of the preview stories streaming across the media focus on the first goal, which includes a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions of 17 percent by 2020, below 2005 levels. The big provisions there are to have the Environmental Protection Agency limit CO2 emissions from power plants, especially coal-fired plants, and from heavy trucks, buses and vans. But little is being written about how the plan intends to reduce death and destruction from the ravages of climate change, including heat waves, more severe storms, storm surges and sea level rise—what Obama calls “American’s climate resilience.”

The plan, released to the media before the speech, calls for conserving land and water, making agriculture more sustainable, reducing the effects of drought and wildfires, improving flood protection, and hardening power plants, hospitals and fuel-supply channels against extreme weather of all kinds. The key to all of that, the plan notes in surprising detail, is more science.

For example, to ensure that flood barriers provide protection long-term, federal agencies will update their standards to account “for sea-level rise and other factors affecting flood risk. This effort will incorporate the most recent science on expected rates of sea-level rise (which vary by region)…” Another example: The Department of Agriculture will create seven new “regional climate hubs” to deliver “tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.”


Weather: we seem to be getting pounded unusually often by lines of thunderstorms. The cause: unusual sinusoidal path of the jet stream. Instead of staying on more or less the same latitude, it is dipping and rising in a circular wave pattern.


Yes, the loss of Arctic sea ice is affecting the path of the jet stream, and did last year (felt mostly in Europe).

Social/Political Issues
No, Keynesianism doesn’t mean “always run deficits” and “always spend”. “Spending for the bust, austerity for the boom”, is the motto.

Gay Marriage: the SCOTUS decision is good news:

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

He said the law was motivated by a desire to harm gay and lesbian couples and their families, demeaning the “moral and sexual choices” of such couples and humiliating “tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

The constitutional basis for striking down the law was not entirely clear, as it had elements of federalism, equal protection and due process. Justice Kennedy said the law’s basic flaw was in its “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

He added that the ruling applied only to marriages in states that allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The part of DOMA that says that states don’t have to recognize same sex marriages made in other states was allowed to stand:

The decision leaves in place another provision in the law that says no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state. That provision was not under challenge.

Still, we need to pass gay marriage in Illinois; the roadblock is the Democratically controlled State House (it has passed the State Senate and the Governor said he’d sign it); the churches are the fly in the ointment.

Of course, some are throwing a tantrum:

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 10.36.06 AM

Sorry, but religions that posit a deity that has “a will” ARE dangerous. Imagine: policy is being decided, in part, by what someone thinks that their imaginary entity thinks.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, climate change, economics, economy, evolution, huckabee, human sexuality, science, social/political, Spineless Democrats, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

It is summer….

White is in fashion after Memorial Day, no?


And it is raining outside:

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 7.44.58 AM

Interesting possibilities. 🙂

June 26, 2013 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, butt | , | Leave a comment

A comment and some science…

Paula Deen: this New York Times article talks about some support she is getting from fans; her show was cancelled by The Food Network. Frankly, this was a business decision by The Food Network: they figured that they’d lose advertiser revenue due to companies pulling their ads; my (uneducated) guess is that the pressure on advertisers would come from a much larger population than the viewership audience.


This is the crowd: as much as I’d love to lampoon the lack of physical fitness of this crowd….in terms of body type, this crowd is pretty much what you’d see at most places around here OTHER than the hiking trails, bike paths, gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts or participant oriented public sporting events. In fact, if you added black and brown people to this crowd..this could be a Democratic rally event. Given how white the crowd is, it could have also been a Republican event too. 🙂

Epigenetic Effects
Smoking while carrying a baby not only gives the baby a higher risk of asthma, but an increased risk extends to two generations:

Having a grandmother who smoked can increase your risk of suffering from asthma – even if your mother didn’t take up the habit.
Researchers say the discovery shows how the chemicals and environmental factors we are exposed to today could determine the health of family members for generations to come.
Writing in the Review of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the scientists cited a rat study they say has major ramifications for human health.
They found that pregnant rats given nicotine produced asthmatic babies.
These rats, in turn, went on to produce their own asthmatic children, despite the fact they had not been directly exposed to nicotine.
The researchers, from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, say the findings show that nictotine can leave a ‘mark’ on the genome (our complete set of DNA), making future generations more susceptible to respiratory conditions such as asthma.
In other words, the cause of the grandchild’s asthma was a genetic change caused by an environmental factor – in this case, smoking.
As a result, they concluded that environmental factors experienced during pregnancy – such as smoking – will not just affect the child in the womb, but those further down the line.

Note: if you click on the link, read the comments. So many make the comment: “MY mother/grandmother smoked but neither I nor my siblings got asthma”. Upshot: many people don’t understand what “increased risk of” means.

Botany and Math
There is evidence that plants can do some sort of biological calculation to figure out how to use starches during the hours when the sun isn’t shining; they can adjust for having less or more daylight:

Computer-generated models published in the journal eLife illustrate how plants might use molecular mathematics to regulate the rate at which they devour starch reserves to provide energy throughout the night, when energy from the Sun is off the menu1. If so, the authors say, it would be the first example of arithmetic division in biology.

But it may not be the only one: many animals go through periods of fasting — during hibernations or migrations, for example — and must carefully ration internal energy stores in order to survive. Understanding how arithmetic division could occur at the molecular level might also be useful for the young field of synthetic biology, in which genetic engineers seek standardized methods of tinkering with molecular pathways to create new biological devices.[…]

Plants make the starch reserves they produce during the day last almost precisely until dawn. Researchers once thought that plants break down starch at a fixed rate during the night. But then they observed that the diminutive weed Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant favoured for laboratory work, could recalculate that rate on the fly when subjected to an unusually early or late night2.

To Alison Smith and Martin Howard of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, and their colleagues, this suggested that a more sophisticated molecular calculation was at work. The team hypothesized the existence of two molecules: one, S, that tells the plant how much starch remains, and another, T, that informs it about the time left until dawn.

The researchers built mathematical models to show that, in principle, the interactions of such molecules could indeed drive the rate of starch breakdown such that it reflected a continuous computation of the division of the amount of remaining starch by the amount of time until dawn.

For example, the models predicted that plants would adjust the rate of starch breakdown if the night were interrupted by a period of light. During that period of light, the plants could again produce starch. When the lights went out again, the rate of starch breakdown should adjust to that increase in stored starch, the models predicted — a result that the researchers confirmed in Arabidopsis plants.

The researchers looked at mutants and found that a particular mutant could NOT alter its starch consumption rate. Hence some genes have been isolated; it will be interesting to see how the calculations are performed.

Taking on the “alternative medicine industry“: A famous doctor, Paul Offit, wrote a new book:

“Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine” in which he takes on the vitamin and herbal supplements industry, alternative medicine of all kinds, Congress and celebrity doctors who peddle their own products. It hits the shelves on Tuesday.

Here is one example of what is going on: remember Vioxx? It was pulled when it was found out that it increased the risk of heart attack. But some vitamins can increase health risks by at least as much, but they are on the market! The bottom line: the vitamin and nutritional supplement industries are not regulated as well but yet get a free pass.

June 25, 2013 Posted by | biology, evolution, obesity, science, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

My running: 2013 experiment

Workout notes 23 minute warm up jog,
8 x 200 with 200 walk recoveries
23 minute cool down jog (about 10K total)
200’s: 57, 53, 53, 53, 52, 52, 51, 52
recoveries: 2:42, 2:52, 2:53, 2:12, 2:06, 2:26, 2:12, 2:25


Screen shot 2013-06-25 at 10.59.56 AM

76 degrees, 85 percent humidity. But that really didn’t affect this type of workout too much.
Note: I could feel slight tightness in the left hamstring; hence I made an effort to keep a “quick” turnover and to not over-stride, and I did a few yoga stretches afterward.

Note: it always seems as if my first rep is way slower than the rest of them, though all were slow (of course).

The post 200’s jog felt good.
Sure, this is too little but it is my goal to work up.

My plans:
Each week, do: 8 x 200, 1.5 mile tempo, then I session (say, 8 x 400 or 4 x 800 at 2 mile race pace) or a race, 8-10 mile steady state, then some recovery walks or runs. Build to 10 x 200, 2 mile tempo, 5 x 800, 10-12 long.

My conjecture: at this stage of my life, my weak legs are holding me back. We’ll see; I KNOW that what I am doing right now isn’t enough to get better, but I am trying to build myself up to be able to do real running training.

June 25, 2013 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment

Diverging from some of my fellow liberals…sort of…

Workout notes
Weights only: rotator cuff, hip hikes, Achilles exercises, 3 sets of 10 abs: sit back, v. crunch, crunch.
Pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (tougher than usual today)
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 8 x 170
incline: (weak); 2 sets of 6 x 150
dumbbell military: 3 sets of 12 with 50
rows; 2 sets of 210 Hammer machine, 1 set of 10 (each arm) 65 pound dumbbell.
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
curls: 2 sets of 10 x 57.5 pulley, 10 x 65 EZ curl bar.
squats: 5 x 45, 5 x 65, 5 x 85, 5 x 95. Note: getting “down there” is easier; some day I’ll be able to use real weight. I think. Right now, this is almost more “assisted stretching” than anything else.

Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 11.09.19 AM

I remember when reel to reel was state of the art, when it came to listening to music; this was the mid to late 1970’s. Have things changed! Now-a-days, today’s technology is almost obsolete tomorrow.

Check out this gecko whose tail resembles a decaying leaf. Just seeing the gecko in the photo is difficult.

Military Sexual Assault
While it is true that a woman in the military is much more likely to get sexually assaulted than a man, it is also true that MOST of the sexual assault victims are male! Of course, some of it is gay related, and some of it is brutal hazing.

I remember when I was in the Navy: it was a joke that one major steam valve in the engine room was something that was used to “grease” uppity new crew members (“uppity” in: not showing enough deference).

There is now a business for cheap satellites to take images to aid conservationists, businesses and the like. The idea that cheap cameras can help track things, if their images are linked together. Examples: one can keep track of how crowded a business parking lot is, the growth of a mine area, overhead damages to property after a storm, etc.

It is true that, in the United States, those who are openly opposing GMO’s via a protest lean liberal. But as far as rank and file opinions on the issue, there isn’t much difference between conservatives and liberals on the issue:

Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 11.59.11 AM

Note: there is a caveat here. I am NOT a knee-jerk anti-GMO type, but I agree that often, the organic stuff tastes better so sometimes I prefer that.

But there is more here:

What this tells us is that elite opinions matter a lot in public discourse. The gap between liberals and non-liberals is not really there on this issue at the grassroots. That could change, as people of various ideologies tend to follow elite cues. This is why the strong counter-attack from within the Left elite is probably going to be effective, as it signals that being against GMO is not the “liberal position.”

Note: my counterattack is against the unreasonable “if it is GMO then it must be bad” types; unfortunately many of these are very noisy.

I am not a scientist and so do NOT have professional level knowledge of the science of the issue, though I am well versed in the statistical issues of an experiment.

Therefore, I tend to rely on science sources (e. g. science magazines) and here is Nature Magazine’s GMO special. I’ve read most of it; it appears to be nuanced.

NSA and “whistle-blowing”
There is a fine line between being a responsible “whistle blower” and being reckless and seeing yourself as being more knowledgable than you really are. It appears to me that Edward Snowden crossed that line.

June 24, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, science, social/political, weight training | , , , , | Leave a comment