Sign of the times: efficiency at the expense of the participant/customer

Yes, the specific situation isn’t that big of a deal.

I went to pick up my packets for the Steamboat Classic races.

In the days of old, you’d find your name (and the names of those you were picking up for) on a list. You’d write down the number and walk over to the table with that number. You’d be handed a preformed packet with the race number in it, and then walk to the “shirt” table and you’d be done; in and out was usually less than 10 minutes, if you were so inclined.

Not now. Now, you stand in line to be waited on by a volunteer with a computer. They would listen to you give the name and (often unsuccessfully, at least on the first try) type in the name, at which the number would be assigned. Then you’d get your number and walk over to get your shirt. Though this might not seem like much of an extra step, it actually is…and the time from start to finish (given the lines) was tripled.

Of course, this method requires fewer volunteers and no time spent packet stuffing and the like (I used to do that). And yes, there is less waste (numbers are only assigned as they are claimed).

We can debate the merits but, without a doubt, the process has changed. I remember this computerized check in process causing problems in a couple of other races (the now defunct Screaming Pumpkin, and the first Peoria Marathon back in..2012?)

This particular type of process works ok for the smaller races though.

Workout notes reduced weights, easy but warm 2 mile walk.

Weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (3 sets of 10), bench: 10 x 135, 6 x 185, decline: 10 x 165 (not bad)
military: 10 x 50, 10 x 45 standing, 10 reps machine, machine incline: 2 sets of 10 with 140, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine.
No abs. 🙂

Weight: 199 before. Still too much; I’d like to drop 10.


June 15, 2018 Posted by | ranting, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Being sure and being exasperated

1. Most important issues are very complex, with many layers to them. And often there is no one optimal answer; often the choice is between “less evil” solutions. And there are many factors, some which are missed by some smart people who have thought long and hard about such issues.

Therefore I am surprised…(ok, disgusted) that so many, well, non-experts are so confident in their opinions on such subjects. Yes, I can see rejecting crackpot positions (creationism, anti-vaccination views) but many issues go well beyond “rejecting the crackpot”. And when the issues have any brush with politics, the zealots are the most likely to be uninformed.

2. I do have one advantage: while I tend to associate with liberals, I grew up on Air Force bases and spent some time in the Nuclear Navy. So I had the pleasure of having some brilliant, accomplished conservative friends, and I got to know at least a bit of their frame of reference, even if it is one I do not share.

3. But when I find myself getting exasperated by liberals…well, the conservatives I end up attempting to talk to online,…well, for the most part…tend to be downright awful. In their world: the political process gives slackers, deadbeats and losers too much say in things like tax policy, taxes are theft from the winners to give to the losers, white Christians are the most discriminated against group in the United States, Trump is a “man of the people” and the US is constantly being picked on by other lesser, green-with-envy countries. Black Lives Matter is just police hate and criminal coddling and statistical black underachievement in the economy is mostly the result of bad culture, sloth and bad attitude.

Oh, and science is “junk science” when you talk about climate change and evolution..but to believed when it backs up what they believe. (ok, liberals too, are pretty selective when it comes to accepting science)

And of course, we are a Christian nation, and while some other religious people (Jews) are tolerated, atheists are really heathens who are merely defiant about the One True God. Oh sure, Trump isn’t religious at all…but you know, he is the “broken vessel” in the way that King David was.

Anyhow, there is nothing for me in modern conservatism (Trumpism).

June 13, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, ranting, social/political | Leave a comment

Some random, disconnected rants …

First of all: I did a “Steamboat preparation” run..ok, 12 mpm shuffle, in nice weather: from in front of the Riverplex, NOT around the goose loop on the way out, up Abington, into lower Glen Oak Park, two small hill loops (up on the right), then back on the trail to Springdale, up the massive hill to Prospect (staying on the right hand most path up the hill), back to upper Glen Oak Park, down the hill and back up it again and back down, then to Abington, River Trail ..this time taking the goose loop, then back to the front. Total time: 1:37. Though I was a bit heavy legged toward the end, it really wasn’t much of an effort.

Weather was glorious…couldn’t have been better.

I even surprised myself a little until it dawned on me: yeah, I am older but I am not an invalid. Yeah, I’ve had some bad runs before, but I’ve had plenty of decent ones too. It seems as if I let a few bad experiences override many more good experiences. I SHOULD have been able to complete this workout.

And now we get to my first rant: over-exuberance of the mundane can lead to screwed up expectations.

I remember some time ago..I was working with “Building Steam”; a program to help new runners and walkers build up to finishing our 4 mile Steamboat course. Now finishing 4 miles: for a non-elderly, non-handicapped, non-“special needs” person, that is a “oh, nice going” thing but, let’s face it: very routine. It can be a personal milestone, I suppose, for say, an obese person, or someone coming back from a “I never thought I’d run again” injury, etc. But a personal milestone is all it is..there will never be anything “special” about it.

I really wonder if more would be successful if the attitude was more “ok, nice going that you did it, but that doesn’t surprise anyone. Now let’s try to improve some it faster, or go longer, etc.”.

And again, I am talking about an average 30-40 year old person with all limbs, not undergoing chemo, etc. and I am talking about an easy sea level road course, not some 1000 feet of climb at 8000 feet of altitude course, etc. and I am talking about “just finishing” (heard someone saying that they “cried like a baby” when they finished in 48 minutes…RUNNING); I am not talking about smoking the course in 20-24 minutes, etc.

And yes, we have GRADUATIONS …from kindergarten, 6’th grade, 8’th grade…etc. (eyeroll). You’ve got to be kidding me. I hear all sorts of bullshit justifying this; my guess it is people trying to make money off of selling graduation crap. seriously, at that age, what are they going to do? Avoid drooling??

Seriously; I have a hard time taking some college gradations seriously. I understand some of what some parents go through: some are happy their kids made it without melting down.

I remember sitting in some meeting where our administrators talked about “you have to remember, some of these kids are the first in their family to go to college…” at which point another professor and I put our hands up and reminded them that WE fit into that category too. In fact, neither of my parents made it out of junior high.

And for and the Ph. D. really weren’t that big of a deal. You showed up, did what was expected of you, and then did the next right thing, rinse, lather and repeat until you were told that you were done. That is all it was. I didn’t have an administrator telling me how difficult it was supposed to be..and I think that I benefited from that.

Political rant

No, Trump will not be removed from office.

May 19, 2018 Posted by | ranting, running, social/political | | Leave a comment

And I grow more disinterested …

I admit that most of what I do on Facebook is **itpost; aside from an article here or there, it has become a waste of time to post anything with substance.

I thought that Twitter might be different, but in some ways it is even worse. If you respond to, say, a pundit, someone who has no clue as to what they are talking about will move in and attempt to “correct” you. At least with FB, there is more of a filter (if you are, say, responding to a friend). But then you fall into groupthink and that isn’t useful to me.

Take Trump’s “they are animals” remark. He was clearly referring to members of a disgusting gang and not to all (or even most) illegal immigrants.
Sure, his early remarks have (justifiably) cost him “benefit of the doubt” but in this case, he really was NOT referring to the bulk of illegal immigrants.

And the protests in Gaza: the “good guys vs. the bad guys” rhetoric doesn’t help. Yes, Israel does share quite a bit of blame but there are some serious misconceptions and Hamas IS exploiting the dire situation for their own gain. What is clear is that the situation for those in Gaza sucks way more than it has to but ..well, it is NOT as if Israelis and just shooting random protesters, as one meme seemed to imply (they compared the deaths to what the Nazi concentration camp commander did in Schindler’s List).

How about face to face conversation? If one talks to friends, the reservedness can be both a positive and a negative. It is positive because you are starting with the assumption that you like the other person. The downside is that they might hold back from what they really feel (that has happened).

And in a group setting …you might run into the same problem when some “know it all who really knows almost nothing” tries to “splain” it to you. Online, you can just block. In person, saying “you are so dumb that talking to you is an unpleasant exercise” just sounds…well, socially unacceptable.

And they will…I can’t tell you how many times I heard some jerkoff who has had an electronics for electricians course try to “splain” the concept of electrical current to a physicist or an electrical engineer..or someone trying to “splain” to a professional scientist how “evolution is impossible”, or some moron trying to tell me that a poll with a margin of error of 4 points that showed Clinton with 1 point lead in a state and said that “Clinton would win”..and don’t even talk about any issue that requires an understanding of conditional probability (e. g. why a 10 percent “false positive” rate for a test of a very rare condition all but robs a test of its predictive power).


Let me make this clear: I am not saying that I’ve not wrong about some things; I can’t think of a period of time when I have NOT gotten one issue wrong or ended up changing my mind. But when it comes to correction: the vast majority of people who have attempted to correct me have not known what they are talking about. Almost always, it has been an expert or some smart person who directed me to a well written, well researched article.

I’ll probably return to talking about stuff here and save FB for baseball game photos and things like glitter butts.

May 17, 2018 Posted by | ranting, social/political | Leave a comment

One attitude I cannot stand….

I was discussing something with a colleague. I recounted a conversation I had with an engineer; in the past he had written a letter to the editor “correcting” a science article for, well, citing an adaptive change as an example of evolution. He was under the mistaken impression that evolution was speciation.

Yes, evolution is a change in the frequency distribution of alleles in a population over time. But did he bother to check with an expert (e. g., his biology colleagues) before writing a letter to the editor? Of course not.

I let my disgust show, and my colleague replied “hey he KNOWS that “god is on his side” no need to check.

And THAT is an example of an attitude that I have the highest amount of contempt for. Religious nutters have it. And so do the more extreme social justice warriors.

If you KNOW that you have “RIGHT on your side”, then well, who has need for experts in biology, psychology, statistics, genetics, etc.?

I think that has lead to more “blocks” by me on social media than anything else; my record is 3 blocks off of one thread on my Facebook wall. Yes, they were all liberals.

April 21, 2018 Posted by | ranting, social/political | Leave a comment

Running, lifting, weight and aging …the formula keeps shifting!

Yesterday, in addition to my usual weight workout, I did two sets, count them…TWO sets of goblet squats (do the window sill which gets me a bit past parallel)…with…wait for it…a 53 pound kettlebell (for those who are unfamiliar, that would be awesome..for say, a 90 pound 70 year old woman..but pretty pathetic for a 205 lb. 58 year old male).

And today I was sore! Seriously. Here is what I’ve found:

1. I need more “easy days” between hard workouts else I don’t recover AND
2. My “off season lay-offs” have to be shorter..I lose too damn much, too quickly.

The formulas keep changing on me.

And as far as weight: I gained about 10 lbs (noticed it in July) and haven’t lost it. Why? My guess: I am eating the way I used to when I did more mileage and was younger; now I have the double whammy of fewer miles and a slower metabolism.

But…I am stronger than I’ve been since 2010, and I can still do my 5 sets of 10 pull ups. So, what do I want to be: a lifter who walks and runs, or walker/runner who lifts? I have to choose.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not strong at all; my bench press workouts include a set of 5-7 with 185 OR 4-5 with 190, followed by 8-10 with 170, or 7-9 with 175. That isn’t exactly NFL linebacker strength.
But when I was below 190 lbs, even 2-3 reps with 185 was hard.

Yes, I know, one has to take age into account, but still…the weights don’t care how old you are. Either you can move them or you can’t.

Rumours Tribute Show We went last night; it was good.

One funny thing: the Stevie Nicks character wore a thin white dress …and appeared to have a white leotard underneath which showed up as a full brief panty line. And of course, regardless of what formed that wonderful “parabola”, I liked it. Why?

And that took me back to weightlifting. Way back in 1994, the conference was in Auburn. My buddy and I found a nearby gym and I went there to lift and I was doing multiple reps with 225 (4-5 I think, then again I weighed about 235 in those days). I miss being that strong (ok, that wasn’t that strong). But I remember catching the eye of the females in the gym; she wore some very thin, white spandex shorts with..yep..white briefs underneath.

Ah, when I was handling 300-310, other guys would look.

Now: no one cares what I lift. LOL…I admit that I miss that.

Workout notes: treadmill froggy workout (5 miles) followed by 2 miles of walking on the track in lane 1 (compensated by adding extra distance) 27:44
treadmill: (0.5 incline after .25 miles) 1 mile (4.9-5.2 every .25 miles (11:57), 6.0-6.7 (30:52), 31:49 to get to 5K, walk .1, run to 42:47 for 4 miles, walk .25 miles, run to 54:36 (picked it up last .5). Then the 2 mile walk.

Legs are still sore, but not that bad. My guess: the flat-to-shallow inclines didn’t tax my thighs.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | ranting, running | , , , , , | Leave a comment

And I grow more and more intolerant of…

The Al Franken debacle has sure helped me purge my friends list on Facebook (I’ve blocked a few and made my wall “friends only” again). Now as far as “the issue” goes, I like this take:

Zero tolerance should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality. As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on social media.

Due process means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond. And proportionality means that while all forms of inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, the response should be based on the nature of the transgressions.

So I brought this up and one of my friends posted some photos that showed Leean Tweeden, one of those who made the first complaints, in some sex shots (thong butt shot, her groping a guitar player, giving sexual hugs to men etc.). He was attacked by someone who brought out the usual stuff (e. g. sexy photos is not permission for sexual abuse ..which I completely agree with but saw as irrelevant here). In the discussion, I mentioned the “staged fake groping” photo of Franken with Leeann Tweeden, (yes, the PHOTO was genuine; his hands are poised to look like he was touching her breasts, but she was wearing a flak jacket at the time) and said that “this is not abuse”.

He responded “all touching without consent is abuse” which, is factually incorrect. (online law dictionary definition here) and pointed out that I have been touched, sans consent..and this case was NOT abuse.

Well, that brought another “SJW” on who said my example was “fantasy” (it wasn’t), doubled down on saying that the first person was right and attacked my friend for “slut shaming”, etc. So I blocked him (and said some impolite things in the process) and when the first SJW person returned and doubled down, blocked him too.

And I blocked someone who “liked” one of the SJW’s statements (I was cranky).

But here is my point: my Facebook wall is my space. If someone wants to engage me with a different opinion, fine. But they have to have at least an elementary command of logic and reason.

If they make a statement “touching without consent is abuse” and I point out that there are instances where I’ve been touched without consent and it was NOT abuse, that makes the original statement logically false. If someone cannot understand that, I don’t want to talk to them about issues.

In the past, I’ve mostly blocked Bible beaters, creationists, and the like. In these times, I am mostly blocking “social justice warriors”.

Oh yes, I blocked a Moore supporter on Twitter too, but that is more SOP for me.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | politics, ranting, social/political | | Leave a comment

Goat Rant 4: how to get me to skip your post/article part 2

Ok, I posted a part I of this. Here is part II:

first, let me make this clear: there is nothing wrong with writing for a specific audience. I do this when I write mathematical articles. So having me scroll past or otherwise ignore what you write might not be a bad thing.

So, I’ll merely give my algorithm for deciding “probably nothing to see here”: I listed titles that turn me off. Now I’ll focus on buzz words.

If an article starts off with buzz words like “misogyny”, “racism”, “patriarchy”, “deep state”, “God”, “Bible”, “family values” “Islamophobia”, etc. I tend to just scroll past.

Reason: these buzz words appear to be associated with religions of a sort, and I am not interested in dogma.

Now I am interested in justice issues. And if you want to make the case that, say, African Americans are treated unfairly in a job applications process, then I am willing to give your evidence a hard look. If you want to make the case that women aren’t given a fair shake in a give profession, then make your argument and provide your evidence. I’ll seriously consider it. And for the record, I HAVE been convinced of these things, many times. But statements such as “it is about the misogyny” might draw applause in some quarters, but little more than a “scroll past” reaction from me.

But I respond to arguments, logic, data and facts, not to bumper stickers.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | ranting, social/political | Leave a comment

“Speaking Truth to Power”…yeah, sure….

I’ve heard this phrase many times. Liberal activists say it. Trump supporters say it.

And I roll my eyes with contempt.

To “speak the truth” one must first “know the truth” and frankly, to many, “the truth” is what “makes sense to them.”

Often, the “truth” is horribly complicated. And so many of these types are so sure of themselves, even though they have no special qualifications nor accomplishments to speak of.

So unless I am reasonably sure that the person knows what they are talking about, I just dismiss them.

workout notes: treadmill run; 5.2-5.6 (2 min) for 10 minutes, then 50 minutes of 2:30 on, 2:30 off (on: 6.7, off: 5.3). I got to 6 miles in 1:00:50 and 10K in 1:03:00. I found out that my having to walk during past versions of these was due to trying to go faster during the “on” sections”. Next time: try the last 4 “on” at 6.8 and go from there.

Later: exercise class.

March 9, 2017 Posted by | ranting, running | Leave a comment

Rant: recognizing the limits of what one knows

I’ll admit that I am an expert in a very narrow slice of mathematics. But I am at least an AU from being an international or even a national caliber expert in that narrow field of mathematics.
And yes, I often read about topics that are not in my area; I enjoy popular books and articles on topics from the various branches of science, economics and the like.

Nevertheless, I also realize that when I read such a book or article, or when I attend a public lecture, I am getting a watered down, simplified treatment of the subject. I lack the context and the prerequisite knowledge to appreciate a presentation aimed at the experts.

And there lies one of my biggest frustrations when it comes to talking to people, either on the internet or in person. There are so many who really can’t detect the difference between expert knowledge and what they read (and perhaps half-digested …if that much) from a popular book. It is THAT level of “lack of humility” that makes some unpleasant conversation companions; I am ok with ignorance. After all, I am ignorant of the vast majority of human knowledge. I think that all of us are.

And, sadly, I see this lack of intellectual humility in political or social issues discussion, especially from the “losing side”. It appears to me that being on the losing side of an election (and I’ve been there, many, many times) brings out the worst in people in several ways.

Example: I had someone try to tell me that Hillary Clinton’s popular vote is “within the margin of error”, when one factors in the caucus states.

Of course, that is a dumb statement for a number of reasons.

1. There is a difference between a vote count and a poll count, even though both have a margin of error (remember Florida in the 2000 general election). The margin of errors in vote count is much smaller than it is for a poll.

2. The margin of error for a poll is 1.96 * \frac{.5}{\sqrt{n}} (assuming a 95 percent confidence interval and a relatively close election; this comes from the normal approximation to the proportion distribution. So as n increases, the confidence interval, and therefore the margin of error, decreases. Note: for more on polls, read this wonderful little article written by a physics professor.

3. Hillary Clinton leads by about 3 million votes, even when one counts the caucus votes. The latter doesn’t add much as there are fewer caucus states, and these tend to be smaller states. Anyhow, she leads about 57-43.

4. The person making the claim appeared to not understand that winning a small state by a very large percentage didn’t make up for winning a bigger state by a smaller margin.

Yes, by knowing that Sanders won a lot of caucus states and that there IS such a thing as margin of error puts this individual into the “above average” category. But this person was clearly ignorant of their own ignorance.

There is another factor in play: I really think that desperation makes one dumber. When one really likes a candidate or a person, or even a sports team, it is tough to accept an unpleasant reality. I’ve become acquainted with the latter as an Illinois football fan (“yeah, we have a shot at being Wisconsin!” Sure.)

Desperation can lead to an abandonment of one’s values. Check out the Republican Chairman’s take on Donald Trump

Oh sure, few would be surprised at Donald Trump’s behavior, and I doubt that a certain type of Republican really cares that much (“hey, what do you expect with Trump anyway?”)

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Personal Issues, political/social, politics, poll, ranting, statistics | , , , | 1 Comment