stumbling and bumbling into the end of Thanksgiving break (whiny)

First: workout notes: easy 5 mile run in the morning; no watch. I was about a 12 mpm shuffle.

These holiday breaks have almost been a “ok, you think that you’d like a break from work, so let’s ensure that you look forward to work again” type of thing and this year has been no exception.

Oh, I’ve enjoyed some things about it (the Turkey Trots and the occasional live football game) and this year:

1. I had a lovely 3 hour walk with a dear friend that I don’t see often enough..followed by coffee and photo sharing and conversation.

2. There was the Turkey Trot where I saw a ton of cute spandex and ran reasonably well (averaged under 9 mpm, which is good for me right now)

3. Basketball game yesterday.

4. Hopefully, an NFL game today…albeit with …well…never mind.

Downers: daughter couldn’t make the trip and the usual family gathering stuff…and in a blended family, there is no “shared history” to connect to.

Then, when I tried to prepare lessons…I got stuck on a problem..or so I thought. After running the problem through the spreadsheet, I think the key may be in error or there may be some unstated assumption.

And…well…let’s just say that I am in a hotel room..alone…after driving an intellectually challenged individual for 3.5 hours to his place. I made the mistake of stopping to eat at a place where you are supposed to read the menu on the wall and order and he didn’t think to tell me he couldn’t read the wall because he didn’t have his glasses on. We got it figured out..eventually.

Then I incorrectly entered a hotel address into my google maps and was directed into an apartment complex. I managed to look up the correct hotel and get there, but that was an extra 15 minutes I didn’t need when I was getting cranky.

And then the drive back tonight: snow is forecast. Oh joy..followed by a prompt 8 am meeting at work, which is being held because two Ph. D. adults cannot work things out, followed by…well, never mind.

Oh, not a single one of these things in and of itself is a big deal, and I suppose all taken together, it still isn’t a big deal. But I don’t understand why the ritual of stressing yourself out without adding any benefit.

Next year’s holiday, I may well just pack a bag and leave…alone…even if it is to a hotel room in town. And those who enjoy the socialization can do so…without Mr. Grumpy Goat. Win/win.

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Personal Issues, whining | Leave a comment

Yadda, yadda, yadda

Personal and trivial I’ve been out of sorts the last few weeks; my guess is that the gloomy weather (darkness) and cold weather (snow, again…albeit light snow) has me down a bit. Oh yes, the spouse has been gone, and her return is an adjustment. But there ARE things to look forward to: football this weekend, basketball tomorrow night and I do have some NFL games this December.

The roads are a bit slick outside.

Workout: weights; usual PT stuff with plank at the end, pull ups (15-15-10-10), bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 185, incline: 7 x 145, decline: 8 x 165, military 9 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45 standing, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine. Weight: 189.6 before. getting there, even though I am not training.

November 13, 2018 Posted by | Personal Issues, weight training | Leave a comment

Watching dreams die

I’ve been fascinated by this topic for a long time; here is a post that I wrote 13 years ago.

What I am talking about: a young person grows up and maybe has a bit of success at something, be it academic, say, musical or in acting, or sports. They see the world around them and see the most successful getting public adoration and start thinking…”hey, that could be me!”

And the people around an attempt to pump up their confidence, encourage them. The result is predictable.

And yes, it is common…students routinely spout out lofty goals…and I smile and think to myself “if you achieve even 10 percent of that…you would have been successful.”

I posted some stuff about my life in the above link. The “TL;DR” version: making the varsity as a 10’th grader at a small high school doesn’t not mean that better things are ahead. And merely getting a Ph. D. from a genuine R-1 university in a STEM field is decent…but few of these are destined for science or mathematical greatness. I wasn’t.

And I see this is sports. I remember reading the account of a Hall of Fame football player’s son finding out that while his son was good enough to start for a SEC school (an awesome achievement), he simply wasn’t NFL material.

I remember watching a heavyweight boxing match. A prospect was making his first step to higher competition (but below “contender” competition). But he didn’t have it; the journeyman he was facing had little trouble with him…and afterward the boxer broke down and cried..realizing that his dream would be forever out of reach.

And I am seeing it in a former college player. He came to a Big Ten university having been “all state” in high school. But as time went on..his playing time went up, peaked..and went down in his senior year as he was beaten out by new prospects. But still, he had NFL dreams and the local media carried stories about his quest to get noticed by the NFL (participated in his university’s “pro day”…he talked about “IF he got drafted” or “what teams he might be called to try out for”.

Reality: he was not getting many snaps for a 2-10 team that failed to win any conference games. True, an Ohio State or Alabama might have 2-deep NFL talent at some positions, but not 2-10 teams, especially when they are coached by someone who has proven ability to recognize NFL talent.

And so the calls never came..and now he is on Twitter still begging NFL teams for a chance that will never come.

Facing up to “it is over..time to do something else” is very, very tough to do.

And yes, I’ve had to make adjustments at my profession.

Workout notes: weights and a 2 mile walk.
I was a bit bloated; 194.5 but..well, TMI…
PT, pull ups 5-5-5, 15, 10, 10, bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 6 x 170 (out of gas), 10 x 135 incline, military: 10 x 50 standing, 10 x 45, 10 x 45, rows: 3 sets with 10 x 50 dumbbell.
plank, headstand.

October 1, 2018 Posted by | college football, NFL, Personal Issues, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Onward to Fall, 2018

I spent much of my time getting my stuff ready for Fall 2018. I’ll have to spend more time tomorrow..and then review my paper again. Summer is all but over. 🙂

I was sore and stiff from this weekend’s walking so I just lifted; usual PT
pull ups (5 sets of 10)
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, dumbbell: 10 x 70
incline: 10 x 135
decline: 10 x 165
military: 10 x 50 dumbbell, 8 x 50 dumbbell (standing), 10 x 45 dumbbell
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine

plank, twist, headstand, more back stuff.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Personal Issues, weight training | Leave a comment

Yes, many on the left wing deserve contempt. But that is not a reason to support Trump.

Let me make this clear: this is not one of those “white men are victims” posts. I honestly believe that racism’s primary effect is against “people of color”; in particular, black people. As Chris Rock says “none of you (white men) would trade places with me, and I am rich!”

Yes, issues of race, class and sex/gender in society should be discussed and honestly debated..and honesty does NOT mean “immediately accept what comes out of the mouth of a liberal”. Yes, some who think that they are arguing against racism or sexism or religious prejudice make stupid statements, get facts wrong, get on high horses and..some are walking, talking examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Having a moral or ethical goal does not make you neither informed, smart nor does it make your arguments correct.

I remember something that happened in a faculty gathering many years ago. One of our women’s studies professors was talking about moving and made a somewhat anti-male joke (something about an activity elevating their testosterone thereby giving them negative male traits) and I joked “oh, so you became more logical and accountable too?” That did not sit well with her..she tried to explain to me that, as a woman, her “invoking male stereotype joke” was, well..strength..sort of a truth to power thing. I responded something to the effect “save that bullshit for your impressionable undergraduates”.

I noticed later that the department sponsored some, well, I think, very ill conceived posters. I even complained about one of them to her. She was skeptical. So, to her credit she asked some students for their opinions..and she was shocked that the students saw them the way that they did. All her posters did was to alienate potential allies.

But she ASKED.

And yes, I’ve been wrong about how things would be taken; I do NOT claim a perfect track record. In fact, I’ve had my own bad ideas challenged and ..yes, changed by intellectual honest colleagues.

IMHO, we ALL have bad ideas from time to time.

But, as I said, that was years ago. These days, all too often, dumb and sometimes prejudicial behavior is tolerated if it comes from someone from a “victim class”. Here is an example of that.

And I think that this is on point:

In my opinion, this issue really reared its ugly head in 2016. The Republicans elected someone who ran, in part, on a platform to “oppose political correctness”..this was from the FIRST political debate of the 2016 election season (from August 2015)

Of course, this blew up in our faces (ok, one of many, many, many factors)

All too often I’ve heard those who voted the same way that I did respond with a cry of “that is racist”, “that is sexist”, “that is misogynistic”, “that is islamophobic”, etc. as if it were some sort of trump card that would end the argument in their favor. And surprise, surprise, the USA is not a liberal arts department; the voters are not humanities professors.

And so the Trump voters decided to give us the finger.

And hey, I get it. My “blocked list” consists mostly of stupid, sanctimonious liberals; I don’t like them any better than you do. And I get it: some safety net programs benefit at least a (statistically) few horribly irresponsible people, and yes, many of my friends (include some that I haven’t blocked) will go through hilarious gymnastics to avoid criticizing.

So to you who are disgusted by Trump’s arrogance and incompetence but loathe us liberals: yes, many of us are unpleasant people. I don’t want to associate with them either. But reelecting an incompetent is NOT the solution. By all means: make fun of me and my Prius. Avoid socializing with me. But please…if you want to back a conservative, back a competent one. But the current POTUS is doing damage to our country.

August 4, 2018 Posted by | Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, social/political | Leave a comment


Dang it…appears that I lost a couple of my favorite books. I need to learn to not take them with me when I travel…anywhere.

workout notes: easy 5.2 mile walk on flat ground (W. Peoria course).

August 2, 2018 Posted by | Personal Issues, walking | Leave a comment

Has my empathy been destroyed by social media?

First of all, I know that I am a highly imperfect person. I know that I benefit from those who have more ability that I have in many things: plumbing, carpentry, construction, being an airline pilot, surgeon, and in entertainment (no sports league would thrive if I played). This is just a tiny list. I am reasonably good at something, but pretty bad in many others.

So where am I going with this?

Well, time and time again, I hear about bad things happening to people. And in some cases, I just think: OMG, what horrible, horrible luck!

But in many cases, I find myself thinking “what a frigging idiot”. Often (but not always), people who end up in bad situations have done a great deal to put themselves there and in many cases expect others to bail them out.

What does this have to do with social media? Because of social media, I see more video clips and read more things about the person in need..and find…OMG…”father of 6….OMG why?” “single mother of 4? What a moron!”

I have to be very deliberate to remind myself that no one behaves optimally ALL of the time and that some have no margin of error.

And, any safety net program that is usable will benefit some good for nothing slackers, ingrates and idiots.

August 1, 2018 Posted by | Personal Issues | Leave a comment

Practice can improve YOU but won’t make you more talented…

There is an interesting thread about an article. Upshot: studying can improve YOUR performance in a given area but really won’t make you smarter. And this is interesting too:

Upshot: an Olympic runner trains hard to beat other Olympic runners..they do NOT have to train to beat me. 🙂

Or put another way: talent is a non-negotiable prerequisite, no matter “how badly you want it.”

Workout notes: easy weight day: 5 sets of 10 pull ups, (easy), bench: 2 sets of 10 x 70 dumbbell, 5 x 170 decline. Military: 2 sets of 10 x 50 dumbbell (standing), 10 x 45, rows: 10 x 70 dumbbell, 10 x 60 dumbbell, 10 x 110 machine, 2:30 plank, other stuff. Then 1 mile on the track in 15 minutes, 4 mile walk outside in glorious weather.

August 1, 2018 Posted by | Personal Issues, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Random gripes, quips and inconsequential observations

1. I ran fairly hard on the treadmill. How hard? When I walked a cool-down mile on the indoor track, I could see a trail of sweat drops from my previous laps.

2. I hate it when I see something I want a photo of…but when I get out my phone, I find that I had it turned off. By the time it switches on (searches for signals, etc.), the potential object has left. Over the past few days, I missed a genuine albino squirrel and a chance to troll my yoga teacher with a butt shot.

3. Sometimes I’ll see a selfie posted on social media and think..OMG, they look terrible..not like I remembered them. Then I realize that they are either an age peer..or someone younger than I am.

4. When discussing my change of workout cycles, I found myself saying “I am not 45 years old anymore”. Then I realized that 45 is actually old, in terms of sports.

5. I am typing this because I am avoiding work on a paper..this is the dreadful “proofing” phase.

6. It is humbling to realize that I’ll never be as good as my graduate school advisor. Then again, he got that position because, well, he is out-of-this-world good. Put another way, if you are reading this, you are probably not “major league talent” (with p = 10^{-3} or so).

7. A meme asked if I’d like to “know what I now know” back when I was 10. If that meant, say, being able to foresee which stocks grew and which ones flopped, sure. But if it meant “wisdom” then…HELL NO! I’d rather that my dreams of being truly special not get crushed that early and glad that I really didn’t understand the concept of an “outlier.”

8. Success, the vast majority of the time, requires both intense hard work AND extreme luck. The luck part comes with avoiding terrible things (e. g. horrible diseases or accidents) and being in the right place at the right time. Example: consider Larry Bird. Obviously he is an excellent athlete that worked his butt off. But if he were born, say, 100 years earlier, he would have been, at best, moderately successful at something that most of us would have never heard of. He was fortunate to be born at a time when athletic ability could mean fame and fortune.

Or take Steven Hawking. 200-300 years earlier, he would have died an early death and not been remembered. Even healthy geniuses of today may well have been people of less than average value in the world of 5000-10,000 years ago. They were fortunate enough to be born at a time when their abilities could be nurtured into something special.

9. I had dreamed of being an athlete. During the summer of 1969 I tried out for baseball teams (Little League) both “major” and “minor” league. No team wanted me. BUT I received an unsolicited invitation to a summer math camp (based on teacher recommendations). Think that there was a message there?

10. I think that social media has made tribalism worse. We tend to pick a side and defend people within that side, regardless of whether they are worthy of defending or not. On the other hand, we are expected to swallow criticism of the villains from the other side, whether justified or not. This pressures those who “love the truth.”

11. Books: I like the scholarly ones that attempt to seek “what is true”. Those that are really advocating some previously held point of view irritate me. IMHO, true scholarship seeks out truth, where ever it is. Advocacy seeks to persuade, in much the same way a good lawyer seeks to persuade a jury. A scholar really has to play…many sides and attempt to blow up the current hypothesis. Yes, a scholar does have to have some base assumptions, but those should be clearly understood from the start (e. g. naturalism, laws of gravity, laws of logic, “Axiom of Choice”, etc.)

12. My high tech workout shirts really do reek after I’ve sweated in them a bit.

13. In baseball, an “out is an out”, be it a strike out or a fly that is caught on the warning track (assuming there is no one on base to advance). But I always felt worse after a strike out.

14. When I am watching a baseball game and the pitcher is on, I often find myself being glad that I was not in the batter’s box!

15. My strongest memories of football: wiffing on blocks and on tackles. Gads, I sucked.

16. Whoever said “you can be anything you want to be provided you try hard enough” should be tarred and feathered.

17. Everyone should be treated fairly, including those I do not like.

Ah, time to end this silliness.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | baseball, football, laughing at myself, Navel Staring, Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

It was 41 years ago today…I Day at the Naval Academy

It can still remember the …smell of starch. We were in our “white works” uniforms with Dixie Cups…getting sworn into the Navy at the Naval Academy.

I remember being in Austin on July 4, 1977..feeling a bit of trepidation and anxiety as I watched the fireworks display with my family. My parents were understanding.

What brought on this memory: a classmate’s post. He used the hashtag “bestdecisionever”.

For me: well, I’d have to say that I am deeply ambivalent. Yes, I feel a tie to the place; it bubbled out unexpectedly when I went to the Armed Forces Bowl to watch Navy play.
But was it right for me? Probably not, at least from the Navy’s point of view.

The mission of the place is to “train Midshipmen mentally, morally and physically to be an officer in the Naval Service”. So in that respect, it was wrong for me. I really didn’t have it in me to be a good officer. I am disorganized, scatter brained and do not concentrate well. And I don’t “get” people; I am not a natural leader. And I am very slow to catch on to social cues..I don’t “fit in” at first. And I do NOT think on my feet very well.

So, much of the time I was miserable.

Academically: the training was very broad…but also somewhat shallow. Example: I knew what a Fourier Series was but I couldn’t tell you why term by term integration worked (reason: Lesbegue’s Dominated Convergence Theorem). When I got to graduate school in mathematics I got my ass handed to me.

BUT…in a certain way, the school taught me some big time humility. It seemed that EVERYONE there was better at SOMETHING that I was. I remember being discouraged at doing relatively poorly compared to many others in the physical education program. There were those, ok, a few, who better at academics, people who were good at so many things. And in military..oh boy.

BUT…in another way, I left there with a snarling contempt toward those who, well, were average or worse. I supposed that I pushed myself hard only to find myself average…in turn I found it hard to feel anything but contempt for the slackers who were good at nothing but still thought the world of themselves …

The best thing I got out was that I found that I could be uncomfortable and miserable for a long time and still get the job done. I learned some discipline that helped me get through graduate school. And I learned to get back up off of the canvas when I was knocked down; I learned to risk failure.

And no, I didn’t turn into a Republican, despite my contempt for underachievement. I felt that my country gave me a shot and I wanted others to have the same shot, even if by a different avenue. I am a big fan of “hand up” programs.

Still, I feel warped in ways that make it difficult for me to get along with people.

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Personal Issues, social/political | 2 Comments