In your face activism …

Just a question: have you EVER had your mind changed by someone getting in your face and calling you something bad? (e. g. an “idiot”, “moron”, “moran“, “heathen”, “un-American”, “sexist”, “racist”, “misogynist”, “rape apologist”, etc.)

My guess: “no”.

So why do so many continue to do this?

If it doesn’t work on you, what makes you think it will work on someone else?

Personally, my response to screaming is to put in ear plugs and to tune out. Get back to me when you are read to engage in a respectful, logical argument with verifiable facts.

September 30, 2018 Posted by | social/political | Leave a comment

The myth of an American meritocracy (NOT totally false)

Yes, I am using “myth” in the traditional sense: a commonly believed story that has meaning rather than “commonly held misconception”.

And yes, that is a common myth of America: there are no guarantees, of course, but you can go as far as your aptitude can take you, provided you make good choices and work hard (and, of course, avoid horrible luck..e. g., dying of a disease, etc.).

Now, many people will cry foul and point to, say, the most recent nominee to the Supreme Court (THAT is the “best and brightest”?), our current President, President George W. Bush or, to be fair, my current US Rep (who was basically hand picked by the party elite), or our current Democratic nominee for governor.

Ok, those, along with “the bosses offspring” might be highly visible “exceptions to the rule”. But there is data that confirms that we aren’t a pure meritocracy:

Figure A shows the percentage of people who have completed a college degree. It groups them into quartiles (groups of 25%) based on their performance in 8th grade mathematics and their SES. There are three test score groups—low score (kids scoring in the bottom quartile), middle score (kids scoring in the two middle quartiles), and high score (kids scoring in the top quartile). In each test score group (low, middle, and high) there are three bars shown, one for those in the bottom quartile in terms of SES (low income), one for those in the two middle quartiles in SES (middle income), and one for those in the top quartile (high income).

BUT…there is another side to things.

Our planes fly quite well. Medicine and science continues to advance. And you are reading this, aren’t you? Why? Consider the computer you are using, or smart phone, and the network that carried this post to you. Those didn’t occur by accident.

So yes, in many fields, the creme does rise to the top…though I admit that it is highly likely that many “diamonds in the rough” remain buried.

Therefore, I see us as a “sort of” meritocracy ..not quite a full one.

Workout notes: easy 6.5 mile walk (15:45 pace) on a hodgepodge of courses.

September 30, 2018 Posted by | social/political, walking | Leave a comment

Real progress

I think that I showed progress with the marathon finish (not a fast one) last week. I showed a bit more progress with an on campus 5K (an accurate course this time) …I didn’t start my stop watch and finished in a chip time of 28:02.

The key error: I was tracking another professor (who is better than I am..he finished in about 25:30) and I was a bit too close to him at mile 2; I had to walk a few steps and then finished too slowly. I should have relaxed a bit more earlier. But I can get this back next week, and this was the best I’ve done since March, 2017.

One reason: I am now 190.5, down from a high of 207 earlier this year. That makes a difference.

BUT, to be fair…I am still 10 lb. more than I was when I last broke 8 minute miles for the 5K (2014) and, yes, 190 NOW is different than 190 20 years ago. I do not have the same muscle mass that I had then.

So, while I’ve made progress, I am still have quite a bit to go. At this age, I should probably be 15 lb. lighter.

September 29, 2018 Posted by | running | , , | Leave a comment

Not caring what “the other side” thinks..

There are many things that struck me about the Kavanaugh debacle. One of them was his very partisan opening statement.

How in the world is this clown going to be an impartial justice? this day and age…it does not matter.

I think that we live in a time when saying something like “well, could be be fair to “the other side”” is seen as being naive and weak. Yes, I do mean “both sides”, though it is my opinion that this toxic atmosphere really got started with New Gingrich and company. But now, liberals are on board as well….and frankly, at times, so am I.

Acknowledging that others aren’t inherently evil is akin to dropping your guard in a boxing match.

Oh, there are other things that bother me too.

The debate: we are seeing the Trump election all over again. The Republicans are rallying around a noxious, ill qualified (albeit with the correct “on paper credentials”), ill tempered, self pitying boorish candidate and the Democrats are doubling down on what didn’t work in 2016. No, this nomination is not going to cost the Republican the “women’s vote”.

Yes, the Democrats MIGHT win the House in the midterms (abut an 80 percent probability…which is NOT a “lock”) but the Senate..the house of Congress that is voting on the SCOTUS nomination, is likely to remain in Republican hands (70 percent). The Senate map is tough for the Democrats and, no…women in general are nothing like the women on a liberal arts department faculty.

This fiasco is turning me off to politics. I’ll still duly vote but…it isn’t with any enthusiasm at all.

September 29, 2018 Posted by | politics/social, social/political | Leave a comment

Why should I believe you?

Some time ago, someone was trying to convince me that the United States “knew” about the holocaust. As evidence, he produced an accurate report that a Polish source had sent to the United States government.

But, I replied, “having an accurate report” does not mean that you KNEW. Reason: we are given a LOT of information, and much of it is false or out of context. Knowing means drawing an accurate conclusion from the information that is available, and how does one discern the accurate from the false or misleading?

I think that such a principal applies to day to day life as well. Yes, you TOLD me that and yes, you were right THIS TIME. But what about all of the other times when you weren’t?

Yes, you complained about that, and yes, this time your complaint was relevant, significant and accurate. But you complain about EVERYTHING; your complaints have become background noise.

And, of course, there are always those who claim that they were right, but, well, they weren’t.

Workout notes weights and an easy 2 mile walk in glorious, crisp fall weather.

rotator cuff, hip hikes and yes, 2:30 of plank afterward (sucked). pull ups 15-15-10-10, bench: 10 x 135, 6 x 170, incline: 10 x 135, decline 10 x 155, military (standing dumbbell) 6 x 50 (very ugly), 10 x 45 (bad), 10 x 40 ok, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110.

September 29, 2018 Posted by | social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Kavanaugh and I am starting to dislike EVERYONE

I did not watch the hearings and I’ve read only a little about the allegations. Based on what I’ve seen (which, I admit, isn’t much) I’d say that a “no” vote is warranted (if, for no other reason, being less than candid during interviews).

But I admit that my emotional reaction to him is more about what he represents to me (of course, I do not know him personally, and my impressions might be either incorrect or incomplete).

His demeanor (wearing his emotions on his sleeve; lack of civility, open anger, apparent sense of entitlement, self pity) really stirs up contempt in me; he reminds me a bit of some of the worst people that I went to college with. Note: I understand that this hearing is about his fitness for the job, and my disgust at him is independent of whether he did any of the alleged things or not. THAT, is a different issue. This hearing is supposed to be finding the truth.

And so…some of the negative reaction to this, well, circus angers me as well.

This hearing is supposed to be finding the truth about the fitness of this individual, which includes, of course, finding the truth about the allegations of what HE supposedly did (or did not do). This hearing really isn’t about other victims of sexual assault and what happened to these unfortunate individuals; the question here is if Kavanaugh is guilty of these things.

And, as far as reaction to his behavior and testimony: yeah, *I* am disgusted and yes, both of my Senators will be “no” votes (if it comes to a vote).

But as far as to the other Republican Senators: they only have to worry about the reaction of their own constituents (e. g. Wyoming and Idaho Senators do not care about my thoughts). And, it is my guess that conservatives/Republicans are seeing it very differently.

Will this change anyone’s mind? Frankly, I seriously doubt it..not a large number of people’s minds anyway.

Yes, read that first sentence. I actually AGREE with that, 100 percent. Kavanaugh represents the divide over Trump in our country.

So…does this mean I am aboard the SJW train? Nope. Identity politics disgusts me (though I am down with equal rights and, no those are NOT the same thing)

An example: get a load of this. The Ohio State football team is travelling to Penn State to play them in a big game…in what Penn State calls “white out” conditions (every fan wears white). They put out a meme exhorting their team to SILENCE the “white noise”. And that was attacked by the “woke crowd” guessed it…being “insensitive to sexual assault victims”.

That is beyond ridiculous; yes, I am growing very tired of professional victims trying to find offense in everything. So I can “understand” wanting to oppose them.

But electing unqualified con-artists to the Presidency of the United States or appointing self-pitying, emotionally immature brats to the Supreme Court of the United States is not the answer.

September 28, 2018 Posted by | political/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Kool aid drinking (how social media can deceive you)

I know that Illinois football is, well, not that important in the great scheme of things, but I am learning an interesting lesson.

This year I started to interact with Illinois Loyalty, The Champaign Room and Illini Football Breakdown on twitter. And so I started to get the feeling: “there is excitement about Illinois football again; maybe things are turning around!!! And yes, I follow Illinois Football on Instagram (and other social media platforms), etc.

But then..let’s look at some objective reality. Illinois went 2-10 last year, to the surprise of almost no neutral observers.

Attendance at the home games last year vs. this year:

Ball State: 41,923 Kent State: 31,898 (-10025)
W. Kentucky: 43,058 W. Illinois 39,252 (-3806) (both Sat. evening games)
Nebraska 43,058 Penn State: 34,704 (-8324) both Fri. evening games)

Then the Chicago Soldier Field game drew 21,725.

Attendance is DOWN by about 7000 per game! And keep in mind, last year’s Nebraska game was the best attended home game..that included home games against Wisconsin and Northwestern. My guess is that this year, Iowa will be the best attended game; don’t expect much from Purdue or Minnesota.

So, the hard core evidence is that interest in Illinois football as DROPPED quite a bit; the “excitement” or “interest” I might be seeing is that I’ve sought out and found other fanatics.

The interesting reality is that the casual observer may well have a more realistic idea of what is happening than the fanatic who is paying more attention.

Case in point: last week’s game vs. Penn State. The fanatics point to the Illini leading 24-21 in the 3’rd quarter as a sign of where we really are.
In fact, I saw a Penn State team that told itself: “ok, let’s wake up and put these guys away”, at which case they buried the Illini with a 42-0 finish. THAT, IMHO, showed the relative difference in the squads.

And so.. yes, this is just football. But I think the same principle applies to politics and work places…it is very easy to fall into group-think and ignore negative information.
But the difficulty of getting out of your bubble is that, well, it is almost no place to be that is NOT in a bubble. Leaving your bubble to get into another bubble really doesn’t help.

I am trying to remedy that by following the most “non-bubble” people I know; I might compile a list.

September 27, 2018 Posted by | social/political | | Leave a comment

Long and lonely

The top is me at mile 20 at the 1998 Quad Cities Marathon (hot day…) and the latter is me at about mile 8 of the 2018 version. Former finish time: 3:55 (my course PR is 3:45). This year: 6:14 as a walker. That is basically a 2 hour and 20 minute difference or a degradation of 7 minutes per year (ok, different forms of locomotion).

Both versions of the course take you off of Arsenal Island and across the Mississippi River and very close to the finish line (perhaps .25-.3 miles or so) and out on a looooong out and back; the 1998 version had you doing a 9 mile out and back. The current version: “only” 6 miles.

But this enables you to see those who are finishing.

Interestingly enough, I would not have seen my younger self as I exited the bridge at 4:40 or so. I might have had a glimpse of my 2002 self (4:44 walking marathon) but my 1998 and 1999 running self would have been finished 45-60 minutes earlier. I did see the 5:00 pace group and most who finished between, say, 5-6 hours.

But as for me and my loneliness! I checked the results: I passed exactly THREE people in this stretch (3 people in 6 miles!) and ZERO passed me.

Yes, I was well under the published cut off (7 hours) and even under the more recent cut off (6:30) but the course was mostly deserted, save some very patient aid station volunteers, police and course monitors (who I WAS grateful for).

The course got somewhat empty in spots when I walked in the 5:13-5:35 range, but wow…after the half marathoners split off from the course, I was mostly by myself, save a few runners who had crashed.

I think that my training alone is good practice for this.

Workout notes weights, 1 mile on the AMT, 2 miles in lane 2 of the track (10:22/8:56 for 19:19).
rotator cuff pull ups 15-15-10-10, bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 185, incline: 10 x 135, decline: 5 x 170, military: 10 x 50 dumbbell, 10 x 45 dumbbell (both standing), 10 x 180 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110. Then , plank (2:30), side plank, then the AMT/run.

Weight (prior) 191.9. First time under 192 in a while. BUT I cannot kid myself; my muscle mass isn’t what it once was; I have more blubber at this weight than I did, say, 10 years ago. I should be a bit lighter (10-15 lb.?)

September 26, 2018 Posted by | marathons, running, weight training | Leave a comment

Why I’ve slowed…

This Sunday’s marathon (walking) took me 1 hour longer than the Rockford Marathon took me in 2009 (similar course, similar conditions). And it was about 24 minutes longer than the Peoria Marathon took me in 2015 (walking)

What is the deal?

I see my slowdown as a factor of:

1. aging.
2. weight gain (I am 192, up from 185 or so)
3. less mileage; I am doing about 80 percent of what I did in 2009 and 67 percent of what I was doing in 2004-2005 (body simply cannot handle more)
4. body changes; I am stiffer in some areas and cannot walk as efficiently as I once did.
5. Surgery: I had my 5’th knee operation in 2010 and I really haven’t been the same since; the body really nosedived in performance after that.

BUT: I am still happy with how I paced myself; this is perhaps the smartest marathon I’ve ever walked. I really stayed steady throughout.

Slow and steady doesn’t win you anything, but it can get you a finisher’s medal.

Note: my “half marathon walk” to “marathon walk” ratio appears to be a “more or less constant” 2.25. To get my predicted marathon time, double my half marathon time and add 25 percent.

Workout notes: still sort of sore (right hip especially); 15:30 on the AMT, 21:46 for 2 miles of running (11:30/10:16). That was enough. 192.7 before.

Current “Marathon and Beyond” list:

Maryland Marathon: 3:33

San Antonio Marathon 3:48

East Lyme Marathon (CT) 4:24

1998 (2)
Quad Cities Marathon 3:55 (hot: 207 out of over 1000)
Chicago Marathon 3:46

Quad Cities Marathon 3:45

2000 (2)
Lake Okoboji (IA) 4:25
Indianapolis Marathon 3:38

Lake Geneva Marathon 3:40

2002 (4) (13 total)
San Diego Marathon 3:57 (run)
Fairfield (IA) 50K 6:22 (walk)
Quad Cities Marathon 4:44 (walk)
Rocket City Marathon 4:04 (run)
(injured going in; had to run/walk)

2003 (5) (18 total)
McNaughton 50K (run) 7:04
Ice Age 50K 7:18 (walk)
Park City Marathon (UT) 5:17 (walk)

Judy Birthday 50K (walk; informal-Fat ass type)
Quivering Quads (MO) 50K 8:11 (walk)

2004 (7) (25 total)
McNaughton 50 mile 12:46 (walk)
Cornbelt (IA) 24 hour (101 miles), walk
Wandleweekend (NED) 24 hour (88 miles) walk

Fairfield 50K 7:16 (walk)
Quad Cities Marathon 5:13 (walk)
Chicago Ultra 50K 6:20 (walk)

Ultracentric (TX) 24 hour 81 miles (walk)

2005 (8) (33 total)
McNabb (IL) FatAss 50K 6:25 (run, sort of)
Chicago Ultra 50K (spring) 6:42 (walk)
McNaughton 100 34:16 (walk)
Andy Payne Marathon (OK) 5:25 (walk)
Lean Horse 100 (SD), 29:34 (walk)

Quad Cities Marathon 5:34 (walk)
Chicago Ultra 50K 6:29 (walk)
Ultracentric 24 hour 70 (walk)

2006 (5) (38 total)
McNabb (IL) FatAss 50K 6:37 (run, sort of)
Houston Ultra 24 hour 76 mile (walk)
Stigma 8 hour 27 mile (trail) (walk)
McNaughton (100 DNF), got to mile 50 then 20 more.
Ice Age 50K 7:36 (walk)
FANS 24 hour 83 miles (walk)

2007 (4) (42 total)
FANS 24 hour 66 mile (walk) (couldn’t train until 5-6 weeks prior)
FX 12 hour 34 mile (walk)
Farmdale 33 miles 9:27 (walk)
Ultracentric 24 hour 58 mile (walk)

2008 (3) (45 total)
McNaughton 50 mile (staged; 31:37 walk)
Andy Payne Marathon 6:16 (walk)
FANS 24 hour 47 miles (walk)

2009 (5) (50 total)
McNaughton 100 miler (47:45; staged, walk)
(brutal conditions; the drop out rate was astounding: 74 started the 100 and 27 finished; 47 started the 150 and 27 made it to 100 (including the 12 who finished all 150); in total 54 out of 121 starters made it to 100 miles and I was one of these)
Rockford Marathon 5:14 (walk)
FANS 24 hour 66 miles (walk)
Mulshoe 44 (DNF, ran out of time at mile 29) walk
Quad Cities Marathon 5:28 (walk)
McNot-aGain 30 mile 8:55 (walk)
(fought through injuries for these last two; almost no training was possible)

2010 (51)
McNotagain 30 mile 9:52 (knee surgery 3.5 months prior)

2011 (52)
Fans 24 hour: 54.5 miles

2012 (53)
We Walk Lake Wobegone marathon 6:58:58

2013 (54)
River City Marathon (run/walk) 5:44:55

2014 (55)
McNotAgain 30 9:54

2015 3 for the year (58 )
FANS 24 hour 59.9 miles

PNC River City Marathon (walk) 5:49:23

McNotAgain 30 (walk) 11:03

2016 2 for the year, (60 and counting)

FANS 24 hour walk 38 miles (35.9 in 10:40)

PNC marathon (run/walk) 5:52

2017 (1 50K finish and 2 DNFs): 36 Hours of Jack 50K (walk) 8:42:42 (7:15 marathon split)

2018: Quad Cities Marathon (walk) 6:14:11.

September 25, 2018 Posted by | marathons, running, walking | | Leave a comment

Damage control

I admit that I am a bit sore today; I was sore yesterday as well. My right hip is especially sore.

What I think: though I had some long walks, I didn’t have enough training miles to get through unscathed. I also note that my current marathon time it comparable to what my 50K walk time once was.
Life marches on. But: I got the pacing right (for a change).

I am about to do some light lower body work in an effort to overcome the soreness; it won’t be much (light jogging, some elliptical, stretching).

yesterday: weights and yoga class. Weights: full workout, lower intensity: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10), bench: 10 x 135, 7 x 170, incline: 10 x 135, decline 8 x 155, military: 2 sets of 10 x 45 dumbbell standing, 10 x 180 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110. Abs: 2:30 plank. Later: yoga with T. I grunted and groaned my way through.

September 25, 2018 Posted by | marathons, weight training | Leave a comment