blueollie

Fun with the mundane….

Yes, I ran a 5K this morning. And yes, I cut the grass for the first time in 2017. That wasn’t fun, though I wanted to get a photo of the tulips for Barbara, who is in Cuba.

But I also saw something more gruesome: there were the remains of a bunny that became a meal for a predator. Nature…

No, the yard was not entertaining. But I did have dinner with a dear friend on Friday, and a different dear friend tonight. THAT was fun.

And there was Bradley baseball: it turns out that the starting pitcher and one of the relief pitchers were/are students of mine. Oh the game: that didn’t go so hot; Bradley lost to Illinois State 9-4 based on the first inning (3 runs) and the 7’th (5 runs, all of which came AFTER 2 outs). ISU got 4 hits and 3 runs in the first and were more or less held in check for the next 5 innings. But the ISU starter struck out 7 in 5 1/3 innings.

The day was sunny but windy which made it chilly in the shade; note the fans seeking out the sunny areas.

For a few innings, I had the volleyball team sitting next to and around me (they came next to my seat when I went to the restroom between innings; they were seeking the sunny areas.

So, the loss aside, it was a fun weekend so far.

April 23, 2017 Posted by | baseball, Friends | | Leave a comment

Not giving up on a workout too early

I decided to try to run outside. And my first .25 miles were TERRIBLE; it was almost as if I could barely breathe and my legs felt like lead. I even walked a few steps.
But I stayed with my shuffle and made it to the first downhill section (Bradley Park) and by then, I had started to sweat and all was good from there out.
For some reason, there are days when the first mile feels like death.

The weather was pretty and I did my “jog, then run up the hills “hard” (say, 1 mile race intensity), walk a few steps to recover, jog and repeat. So I did 6 “hard” repetitions total and I even timed my final hill: 2:10 (better than any of my repetitions a week ago). This was from the gate in lower Bradley park to the parking lot entrance in upper Bradley Park. The whole workout took 1:02 to do (5.1 miles) and I am glad I stuck with it.

By the way: in statistics class, I am teaching about ANOVA. I used my own 5K run data from 2012 to now; my slowdown is about 20-25 seconds for the 5K per year. That adds up and seems to fit back to the late 1990’s.

Grading on a curve
I joked with my wife about the following: if she posts that she, say, finished a 4 mile walk at, say, an 18-19 minute per mile pace (she is, well, “elderly”..though it is hard for me to think of her that way), get gets 100+ “likes” and tons of complements (“you go girl”, etc.). If I post that I finished a marathon, MY FB friends critique my time and give consolation if it is worse than expected, kudos if it is better than expected.

Why I mention this: I have a FB friend that I’ve grown quite fond of. But she has serious injury history; I jokingly referred to her as “Humpty-Dumpty”. She finished a mile walk and I was genuinely overjoyed; I like her and love it that she is working toward taking care of herself and pushing through some pain to do so. So my praise WAS genuine, even if it was less than what my wife can currently do.

And we had a talk about having a “1 mile body but a 6 mile mind”; pre-injury she could easily walk 14 miles (albeit many years ago).

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Friends, running | | Leave a comment

Opening training for the Steamboat 15K: I’ve gotten soft.

I slept in a bit and didn’t start my run until 9 am. That was ok; the Steamboat 15K is almost always run in heat and humidity so I need to get used to it. It was 69 F at the start; 75 F at the end but the humidity went from 68 to 55; in other words, not that much.

I chose a “Steamboat simulation” course: behind the Riverplex ..NO goose loop, NO ball field wall. I did pass an interesting looking accident; there was a wrecked automobile across the railroad tracks near the ball field. That altered my route just a little bit. Then up Abdington to the path along Perry into lower Sprindale. I went the normal route, turned left at the bridge and hugged the right turn path up the hill to Prospect then went down the other direction. Once down, I went to the entrance, back on the regular path and past the bottom of Soldier hill, turning around and doubling back at the sidewalk; the map says that this was 3.95 miles or so. It was 48 minutes when I started the double back.

Once I got to the Rivertrail again I noticed a 5K race in progress. I sped up (return leg was 45 minutes, or 3 minutes faster, most of it on this stretch) and I went back and forth with one of the 5K runners (a younger male). I had spied a MILF rocking a pair of granny panty lines but she got away. Then I walked enough of a cool down to get to 8 miles total.

Then to the weight room. On one hand, my weight workout was low energy. But on the other hand, all that sweating made me lighter; my 5 sets of 10 pull ups went very, very well.

pull ups, rotator cuff
bench press (sucked) 10 x 135, 2 x 185, 5 x 170, incline press: 10 x 135
military presses (dumbbells) sucked: 5 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 40
rows: machine: 10 x 90, 140, 140.
There is usually some “hot babe” doing squats and this time was no exception; very tight “Los Angeles Laker purple” spandex leggings.
Then came a diet Dr. Pepper; lady …more eyestrain.

Oh, the workout summary: very low energy in the weight room; the 5K race runners sped me up a bit. Perhaps I was doing low to mid 9’s on the way back?
But the “bottom” line…LOL…is that I’ve gotten very, very soft. My run started off badly; I even thought about modifying it but told myself “STFU you big baby..quit being such a whiner”.

Then came pre Easter dinner with the family. Good stuff.

Thursday: I participate in a walking group; we are now up to 2.25-3 miles

April 15, 2017 Posted by | family, Friends, running, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Minor League Baseball and Friends: happy to let them go…

The Peoria Chiefs (low A, Midwest League) start up this month, but I’ll spend most of my “baseball time” watching Bradley and pick up the Chiefs in May.

The Chiefs made the playoffs the past two years. But last year: by the time they got to the playoffs they weren’t the same team; most of their good players had been promoted.

And that is how it goes in minor league ball: you start to get attached to a player and you want them to do well. But when they do well, they leave, as they well should. And though you miss seeing them, you are happy for them.

Sometimes, something similar happens to one’s friends. A few weeks ago, my wife said “you probably won’t be training with X now that they have a love interest that runs”…and my reply was “I hope not.” She looked surprised, but then understood exactly what I meant.

Workout notes Weird. I still have a scratchy, “sometimes” cough and feel slightly weak; this is a continuation of what I had last week. But weights went very well:

rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10: strong)
bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 190 (wanted to keep the hips down), 10 x 170 (strict)
military press: dumbbell, 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
incline: 3 sets of 10 x 160 (45/35 on each side) Hammer machine

I tried to run…no dice, walked 5 miles outside instead. The gates to the hills of Bradley Park are now open; beautiful day but some traffic. I got shocked into picking it up on the way back..a young woman who was walking deliberately was gaining on me. My “mind wandering walk” is no longer fast; I have to be deliberate and concentrate.

April 2, 2017 Posted by | baseball, Friends, illness, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Eating alone with an opposite sex person who isn’t related: ok or not?

Note: I am using a simple “male/female” model here, and assuming that the woman and man are not related, not married to each other, and that at least one of them has a spouse and that their marriage is NOT open (e. g. sexual and romantic fidelity is expected).

This poll is motivated by the recent revelation that Vice President Pence “does not dine alone with a female that isn’t his wife”.

Feel free to add comments.

Disclaimer: I often share meals, workouts, sporing events, with opposite sex friends. But certain caveats apply; spouse has to know and approve (nothing kept secret) and, in general, these friends are my spouse’s friends as ell. And common sense applies: a hike, run, lunch buffet or a basketball game is very different than a candlelight dinner.

March 31, 2017 Posted by | Friends, social/political | Leave a comment

Harsh, blunt but to the point

I’ve referred to this article “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person”. It starts this way:

Feel free to stop reading this if your career is going great, you’re thrilled with your life, and you’re happy with your relationships. Enjoy the rest of your day, friend, this article is not for you. You’re doing a great job, we’re all proud of you. So you don’t feel like you wasted your click, here’s a picture of Lenny Kravitz wearing a gigantic scarf.

For the rest of you, I want you to try something: Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here’s the catch — you’re not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I’m a nice guy, I’m honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts). If you found that difficult, well, this is for you, and you are going to fucking hate hearing it. My only defense is that this is what I wish somebody had said to me around 1995 or so.

Now…I am not going to do that….not that I haven’t done so. And clearly this article applies to the workplace; really, you are paid your salary to do your job well. And yes, it applies to what WE like: we cheer for champions, we seek the best value for our money; we spend our money on things that work well, we like pilots that can fly well, lawyers that win our case or settlement, doctors and physical therapists that heal us, etc.

But for today, I’ll focus on friendships. And yes, this is very true for me.

I have a variety of friends, both on social media and in person. What makes a person desirable to have as a friend and to keep as a friend?

Well, as the article says, we seek to fill our needs. I do not do this consciously, but I find myself drawn to certain people. I’ve tried to figure out why those people.

I’ll use an example of someone what was on my Facebook friends list for some time until we became much closer friends as of perhaps 13 months ago or so. I’ll just call her Diana.

She is one of those half-dozen people whose posts I always look for first; if I haven’t seen them on my timeline I go to their wall to check them out. I notice whether or not she likes or comments on what I’ve posted. Why?

The reason, of course, is that I feel better after my interactions with her, but why is that so?

I’ve thought about it: I think that she is informed, but others are more so. But she is witty and funny; she frequently makes me laugh. That is something of value.
She has “friendship skills” (subtle ways of making someone feel special); that is something of value.
But there is something more. I’ve found out that she, along with her husband, are raising kids that really aren’t theirs because the kids parents cannot (or will not) properly care for them. That is a life changing decision.
Now that has nothing directly to do with me. BUT, I respect that and it challenges me to do better. I sometimes find myself struggling to show patience with some family members…and Diana’s example leads me to challenge myself: “if she can do THAT, I can be civil for an hour or two…”

This sort of thing carries over to other things. Example: Mamma T (and many others) have hung in there to finish marathons and ultramarathons. No, that has no intrinsic value to me. But since it is my goal to finish such things..I sometimes draw on their example when I am deep in the race, hurting, slightly sick and disgusted with my own performance. I find myself thinking “T, David, Mat, Damon, Donna, Jennifer, Mary, Steve, Robert, Cassie, Frederick (etc. too many to name them all) wouldn’t quit just because it was hard…so do you deserve their company or not?” And it motivates me to stay with it. Their success, while hardly professional level, still has value to me and I think that is part of what makes them desirable friends to have. The blunt truth if that they were quitters, I wouldn’t be as interested in their friendship. That isn’t a conscious decision, it just “is”.

So to me, you aren’t necessarily your job, you, to me, ARE what you do. And yes, there are some who I do identify with their jobs (example: Rory the physicist, Linda the lawyer, Ann the businesswoman, Lynn the accountant) but…part of what attracts me to them is that they are good at those jobs and have tangible proof of it. Again, this isn’t a conscious decision on my part.

Baseball
We had a nice Bradley vs. Eureka baseball game: Bradley raced to a 9-1 lead after 6 innings and withstood a scary 4 run “top of the 9’th” rally to win 9-7. Eureka started and closed their scoring with home runs by their burly first baseman; a solo shot early and then a 3 run blast in the 9’th. He went 4-5 with a double in addition to the 2 home runs.

It was entertaining (though a bit too entertaining in the 9’th) and it was BU’s 3’rd win for this weekend.

Here is early action:

And the cool drizzle, plus a couple of other athletic events on campus kept attendance down a bit.

Workout notes

2 mile walk
weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, went well)
bench pres: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 5 x 185 (empty gym…did not push for 6 reps)
incline press: 10 x 135 (strict)
dumbbell military press: 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45 (standing)
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110
abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches, 10 yoga bridges (half)
headstand
in between the upper body stuff I did 8 x 5 goblet squats: 0, 35, 45, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65 and, ironically, the best set was the one with 65. I also got 10 x 250 leg press…almost gave myself a headache.

Then I did a 4 mile walk to finish it off.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Friends, social/political, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

And the Laplace Transform offends…

This Friday, we start Laplace Transforms in differential equations. By “Laplace Transforms”, we mean the usual simplified Laplace Transform we teach to beginning differential equations students; we do not know what a Lebesgue or a Stieltjes integral is.

That reminded me of what happened in my first differential equations course, back in the fall of 1978. I was sitting next to Vince and the instructor wrote the following on the board:

That, of course, is the gamma function (think of it as a way to extend the factorial function into a continuous function on the reals, though there is a more general version). If you must know, for positive real numbers, \Gamma(x) = \int^{\infty}_0 t^{x-1} e^{-t} dt . This is a convergent improper integral for x > 0

Never mind that.

Vince said “box of x, what is box?” I replied “that is the gamma function, Vince”.

“Box…what’s box? They are just making stuff up! They are making it up as they go along!” Vince was just so offended by the gamma function!

Anyway, that is a memory that made me chuckle; and yes, Vince ended up passing the course.

Workout notes: Not sure what was wrong; my nose is runny and I had a tough time breathing in the gym as the pace got harder (heat? dehydration? allergies?) So my planned 10 minute warm up, 10 x (2:30 at 6.7, 2:30 at 5.3) workout became 10 minute warm up, 6 x (2:30 at 6.7, 2:30 at 5.3) followed by a 5 minute walk, then enough running to get me to 6.1 miles in 1:05, and 1:44 more of walking to get me to 10K in 1:06:44.

I call that a “rescue of a workout”; for me, a 10K training run at under 11 minutes per mile is a valid training run, and I did get some pace changes.

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Friends, humor, running | , | Leave a comment

Tough loss for Illinois State

What is a safe lead in basketball? Answer: a “win”. Illinois State stated with very hot 3 point shooting (5 of 7) and took a 33-15 lead with 4:07 to go in the first half and lead 36-23 at the half.

In the second half, Central Florida started to attack the basket more but ISU still lead 52-42 with just under 11 minutes to go.

Still, the UCF guards penetrated and their 7′ 6″ center (not a misprint) seemed to be more comfortable. So while ISU made all 8 of their free throws, UCF made 14-18 and that proved to be the key difference: more attempts from the line.

UCF took the lead for the first time with 1:41 to go (61-60) and used great defense (some good blocked shots) to hold the lead. But with 4 seconds to go, ISU drew a foul and calmly made both free throws to lead 62-61.

On the ensuing play, the UCF guard drew a foul (a force out) with 1.3 seconds to go and made both free throws (madhouse atmosphere) which sealed the win.

It was a terrific basketball game and a great atmosphere; I just wish ISU had gotten one more stop so we could have had a Wednesday game vs. Illinois (who won at home later that evening).

Socially, it was fun for us to go with Vickie and Harry.

Some game action:

Couple selfie:

Our group:

Vickie sizing up the offerings at the concession stand.

March 22, 2017 Posted by | basketball, Friends | , | Leave a comment

Pitts: What if we just don’t like each other…

Today’s article by Leonard Pitts starts off as follows:

So this driver is stopped at an intersection. A pedestrian is dawdling in the crosswalk. Driver leans out the window and yells, “Get out of the street, you damned liberal!”

It’s been years since I read that in a magazine. I can’t remember if it was a true story, though I think it was. But even if only apocryphal, the picture it paints of American acrimony in the post-millennial years is true beyond mere facts.

As such, it leaves me questioning the likely impact of two recent well-intentioned pleas for ideological outreach. Joan Blades, co-founder of the liberal activist group Moveon.org, wrote an essay for The Christian Science Monitor, asking progressives to stretch beyond their left-wing comfort zones and “love thy neighbor.” And New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof warned the left against a tendency to “otherize” Donald Trump voters.

I’ve got no real argument with Kristof or Blades. It’s a noble gesture they’re making. It occurs to me, though, that none of this addresses a question that has come to seem obvious:

What if the problem is simply that we just don’t like each other?

As I’ve said often, our acrimony is not political. It’s not about tax rates, government regulation or even abortion rights. No, this is elemental. This is about the city versus the country, higher education versus a mistrust thereof, Christian fundamentalism versus secular humanism. And it is about social change versus status quo.

I recommend reading the rest.

That got me to thinking about some things I’ve seen and read.

1. Some time ago, a friend (fellow liberal) posted a photo of an old-to-middle-aged white guy with a restored antique 3-wheel vehicle …and talked about him being “a douche” though her only contact with him was, well that photo. Later I asked my wife if she had seen the photo….and she replied “of the creepy guy”?

2. I thought about my own reaction when I saw some elderly (ok, not THAT much older than I) men with a Trump hat or a Trump shirt. Yes, I felt a snarling contempt. I noted that I was in much, much better condition than they were…then I recalled I know some Trump voters who are my age (or slightly older) who can run and walk circles around me; in one case, his 100 mile walk pace would be a decent marathon walk pace for me.

But, yeah, I am as tribal as anyone else, though my “tribe” really isn’t purely political.

I have Republican friends, and by that I mean there are Republicans that I happily socialize with; one is a frequent, welcome dinner companion. I look forward to spending time with her.

BUT: she is secular, pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro-science and very knowledgeable. She believes in public investment and knows that there is a time for a government to spend and at time for austerity (“basic macro”, she says). We have some disagreements on the degree to which businesses should be regulated and taxed. But we agree on quite a bit, especially on social values. Ok, ok, we disagree on some things too. 🙂

Then I think: what about the baseball and football games I attend? Almost every single time, I end up in a conversation with a fan about the game; I always enjoy these. And I can assure you, statistically speaking, at least some (most?) of those said fans vote differently than I do. But for the purposes of the game, we are in the same “tribe” (football or baseball fans)

I don’t know; maybe public events are a good way to bring different kinds of people together? After all, there really isn’t a black/white/conservative/liberal way to discuss the action in a football game.

Same thing with running races: I KNOW that many of my running/walking friends have different politics than I do. But our experiences..our way of encouraging each other to bring out the best in each other really isn’t partisan.

Workout notes
weights then a 4 mile walk (28:00 first 2, 26:41 second 2: 54:41 for 4).

Weights: rotator cuff
pull ups: 5 sets of 10…very careful in the “recovery” motion to protect my arm.
bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 8 x 170 (very conservative)
incline press: 10 x 135
military presses: standing, 10 x 50 dumbbell, 6 x 50 standing dumbbell, 10 x 45
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
squats: lots of free squats, then 3 x 5 with 45, 2 x 50 goblet, 2 x 60 goblet
leg presses: 10 x 250
abs: 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts
headstand: ok, but was distracted getting into it.

March 14, 2017 Posted by | Friends, political/social, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Cactus Classic, 2017 version

I’ve only attempted this race once before. That time I signed up for the marathon and bailed/DNFed half way; I did take a 15 mile version for the first 13.4 mile loop.

This time, I wasn’t even tempted to sign up for the marathon; I did not have the long run/walk background necessary for success. But when I saw the potential for dry conditions, I thought “why not; it is a pretty course and will get me about a 3 hour run/walk” …and that is what happened.

The day could not have been much better; a few degrees below freezing at the start and to freezing at the end (of my half), dry …just a pretty day.

And there were old trail friends here, many who I have not seen in a long time. My knees just do not permit comfortable trail running in bad conditions, hence I have become more of a road person. But today: great.

And, Mamma T (and her (new?) friend) and Jennifer (who suffers next to me in exercise class) was there too. Oh hell, though I like a good run/hike in most circumstances, there are times when I’ll do a race that I am not really prepared for because I am in the mood to socialize. And that is a good thing.

Oh, the race. I started back in the pack and, as things settled, I moved in a very loose group of 5 runners or so, one of who was to finish the marathon (and Julie’s second loop was only 30 minutes or so slower than the first…great pacing for this course).

I let Mary go..she was moving swiftly and she too did very well in the full marathon.

I was figuring on a 15 minute per mile average pace as the sand was dry and quite deep for much of the course (about ankle deep, and soft). I tried, as did others, to run on the part with grass. I seemed to be averaging about a 13 minute pace for the first few parts (1:06 for the 5 mile aid station, 2 hours for for the 9 mile, 2:30 for the 11 mile station.

But I never really knew where I was on the course; it was well marked but I didn’t have a good feel of when to start a “finishing kick”; so I mostly tried to keep within sight of Jason and a couple of ladies (one tall and close to my age, one shorter and younger).

I lost to Jason about 5 minutes and finished 1-2 minutes ahead of the ladies in 3:02 (40 out of 55 finishers; winning time was 1:34, which is my old road PR).

Though I wanted to finish 3 minutes faster, well, I didn’t completely embarrass myself and never got grouchy; the race ended while it was still fun.

March 12, 2017 Posted by | Friends, running | Leave a comment