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Howdy, pilgrim! No ads — you're in the ^zhurnal (that's Russian for "journal") — see ZhurnalyWiki for a Wiki edition of individual items; see Zhurnal and Zhurnaly for quick clues as to what this is all about; see Random for a random page. Briefly, this is the diary of ^z = Mark Zimmermann ... previous volume = 0.9934 ... complete list at bottom of page ... send comments & suggestions to "z (at) his (dot) com" ... click on a title link to go to that item in the ZhurnalyWiki where you can edit or comment on it ... thank you!

Meditation Mantras

Breathe: sit quietly. Let mind be still. Let mind be. Let be. Be ...

Sense: the floor, the ground, the earth pushing upward. Feel the air surrounding, clothes touching, heart beating. Feel ...

Hear: the sigh of the world, the hum of life, the silence that separates every sound. Remember the atoms, the stars, the vast emptiness. Notice ...

Attend: to the present moment. Here. The past behind, the future ahead. Between them, now. Only now. Now ...

Accept: what is. Soft and gentle. Open. May, or may not. This just is. This is. This ...

Affirm: say "Yes!" to everything. Love. No others, no self. All one. One ...

(cf Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), O (2012-10-24), 01 (2013-11-05), Mantra - Mindfulness, Nonattachment, Oneness (2017-01-25), Mindfulness in Three Words (2018-06-13), Mantra - Be Meta, Be Open, Be Love (2018-11-11), Meditation Map (2019-01-19), ...)

- Monday, January 21, 2019 at 07:48:59 (EST)

2018-12-23 - Terrible Idea

~15.1 mi @ ~15.2 min/mi

"That sounds like a terrible idea! What time?" Certain friends are also enablers - no one we know, of course! Danger Man and Roadkill ramble west, with pauses in Kensington to admire glittery porch decorations and sunrise on the train tracks. We meet Rebecca, greet her happy pup Oreo, and head south past the Strathmore Hall totem poles.

"Black has a slimming effect and I need to lose weight, so I'm wearing black today!" Roadkill explains his outfit to Crabby who joins the gang on Rock Creek Trail. We brainstorm make-up, and beard dyes for the upcoming "Dopey Challenge". Faux-topiary animals are bedecked for the season. "America: Home of the Free, Because of the Brave" reads a grocery bag rescued from the road. Cait takes a group photo for us in her front yard.

"Merlin's Bermuda Vacation!" Crabby suggests a theme for Roadkill's costume at Disney World, based on a segment in the classic animation The Sword in the Stone. Danger Man has the garish Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts. A pointy wizard's cap could be procured. Roadkill sports a long gray beard. Hmm!

"Why are they smiling and wishing us 'Merry Christmas'?" Danger Man wonders. He's wearing a technical shirt printed to look like a knit reindeer-snowflake sweater; Roadkill has his red Santa cap on. Cars honk. Passers-by wave.

"Adventure. And Variety. And a weird trackfile Map. And Safety. And Hills. And ...". Roadkill lists criteria for a great run. Not to mention the most vital: therapeutic trail talk with good friends!


- Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 06:07:26 (EST)

Meditation Map

attention acceptance affirmation
    meta    open    love
  here   soft   kind

and Be ...

(cf Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), O (2012-10-24), 01 (2013-11-05), Mantra - Mindfulness, Nonattachment, Oneness (2017-01-25), Mindfulness in Three Words (2018-06-13), Mantra - Be Meta, Be Open, Be Love (2018-11-11), ...)

- Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 07:18:09 (EST)

2018-12-22 - Pimmit Xmas Walkabout

~3.4 mi @ ~18.8 min/mi

"Looks like a battlefield!" A yard is strewn with corpses, slumping structures, crumpled vehicles - or rather, dark deflated Christmas decorations. Dr B and Roadkill take an early evening random-walk through Pimmit Hills, expecting streets bright with lights. Not so much this year, though there are exceptions. A few small houses go overboard; some mini-mansions take the plug-in-a-single-string opposite approach.

"Very like a whale!" as Polonius and Hamlet described a cloud. At one angle a set of white lights seem to depict a huge spouting sea creature. Upon closer inspection they turn into strands draped about a tree. And when underneath, "We're in the belly of Leviathan!" We catch up on news of family and friends, and resolve to get together more often.


- Friday, January 18, 2019 at 05:34:40 (EST)

2018-12-18 - Pokey

~8.2 mi @ ~13.7 min/mi

"Now I know how MEN feel!" says someone who recently was the target of a non-stop monologue by a hyper-chatty young lady. Monday morning Dawn Patrol concurs on the value of mindful listening as well as awareness of one's own tendencies to occasionally over-communicate. We admire Xmas lights on brightly trimmed trees along Route 7 in downtown Falls Church.

"That lump growing on your foot is probably an Alien. You should name it before it pops out. How about 'Pokey'!?" K-Rex and K2 offer helpful advice to Roadkill and his self-diagnosed ganglion cyst, both of whom accept their suggestions.

"Don't see that too often!" A pair of blue jeans lies abandoned at a bus stop shelter. A chill west wind cuts through our layers. Hot coffee from Starbucks helps.


- Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 06:32:56 (EST)

2018-12-17 - Dinosaur Skeleton

~6.5 mi @ ~13.8 min/mi

"This toy has gotten smaller in the past six months!" Roadkill complains, astride the Colt Terrace playground rocking-duck. (Can't possibly be that something else is now much larger!) Barry leads a Sunday afternoon jog past puddles and Christmas decorations. A skeletal tyrannosaur guards one front yard.

"I did make a mistake once — when I said, incorrectly, that I was wrong!" We meander with confidence, backtrack from dead-ends, and discover a new cut-through at Evans Parkway Park. Barry's proposal to square his training distance provokes a lecture on dimensional analysis.


- Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 05:09:45 (EST)


Management wisdom from Doris Derrington — friend, colleague, leader — at her retirement ceremony last week: "Delegate what you know best. You can check the work quickly, and you'll gain time to learn something new!". Good advice, like Andy Grove's "Because it is easier to monitor something with which you are familiar, if you have a choice you should delegate those activities you know best." and Henry Ward's "How do I decide what to delegate? Delegate the work you want to do."

(cf On Delegation (2000-10-17), Minor Imp (2003-05-14), [[Ementor Emantras] (2011-05-02), ...)

- Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 06:07:43 (EST)

2018-12-16 - Ganglion Cyst

~3.7 mi @ ~13.3 min/mi

"We don't smoke! We don't drink! Norfolk! Norfolk!" somebody quotes a rumored cheer-leading chant from a coastal Virginia school. Rain pauses for Slow-Twitch and Court Jester to escort Roadkill on a Sunday Morning tour of the neighborhood. A pack of runners chase us along the Bethesda Trolley Trail, as we catch up on family news and give thanks for friendship, kindness, health, and safe spaces. Sculptures and totem poles at the Strathmore Arts Center are eye-catching.

"Your Mother could run an ultra without complaining on a foot like that!" Sympathy abounds when Roadkill exhibits the strange lump (ganglion cyst?) atop his right foot. Likeliest diagnosis: extreme laziness. Prescription: "Up your mileage!"


- Wednesday, January 09, 2019 at 03:22:40 (EST)

This Moment

Nothing has ever existed
    Except this moment
That's all there is
        That's all we are

... from Nothing Special by Charlotte Joko Beck. In more context, as it appears in Part VII "Wonder" (chapter titled "The Fall"):

Most of the time we don't think there's any crisis. ("So far, so good!") Or we think the crisis is the fact that we don't feel happy. That's not a crisis; that's an illusion. So we spend most of our life attempting to fix this nonexistent entity that we think we are. In fact, we are this second. What else could we be? And this second has no time or space. I can't be the second that was five minutes ago; how can I be that? I'm here. I'm now. I can't be the second that's going to arrive in ten minutes either. The only thing I can be is wiggling around on my cushion, feeling the pain in my left knee, experiencing whatever is happening now. That's who I am. I can't be anything else. I can imagine that in ten minutes I won't have a pain in my left knee, but that's sheer fantasy.

I can also remember a time when I was young and pretty. That's sheer fantasy also. Most of our difficulties, our hopes, and our worries are simply fantasies. Nothing has ever existed except this moment. That's all there is. That's all we are. Yet most human beings spend fifty to ninety percent or more of their time in their imagination, living in fantasy. We think about what has happened to us, what might have happened, how we feel about it, how we should be different, how others should be different, how it's all a shame, and on and on; it's all fantasy, all imagination. Memory is imagination. Every memory that we stick to devastates our life.

Practical thinking—when we're not clinging to some fantasy but just getting something done—is another matter. If my knee hurts, perhaps I should investigate treatment for it. The thoughts that destroy us are the ones in which we're trying to stop the fall and not hit bottom. "I'm going to fix him." "I'm going to fix myself." Or "I'm going to understand myself. When I finally understand myself, I'll be at peace and then life will be all right." No, it's won't be all right. It will be whatever it is, just this second. Just the wonder.

As we sit, can we sense the wonder? Can we feel the wonder in the fact that we're here that as human beings we can appreciate this life? ...

(cf Giving Up Hope (2014-09-01), No-Self and the Space of Wonder (2014-10-20), Listen to the Traffic (2014-11-12), Aspiration, not Expectation (2014-12-12), No Drama (2015-01-06), Moving from Experiences to Experiencing (2015-08-06), ...)

- Tuesday, January 08, 2019 at 05:45:38 (EST)

2018-12-15 - Book Drop

~5.1 mi @ ~11.5 min/mi

"Northeast Passage - found!" Roadkill runs on Saturday afternoon through heavy rains to pick up a book on reserve at the Silver Spring library. Return ramble (book safely bagged against the elements) rediscovers the long-lost Alton Parkway path that he and Barry failed to find 4 weeks ago.

"That's an ugly bump!" The top of the old right foot suddenly starts to hurt badly at mile ~3.5, then recovers after a short walk. Ganglion cyst? Stress fracture? Or more likely, overactive imagination plus hypochondria? Today's soggy solo trek is overdue atonement for past and future dietary sins. More mileage (and fewer desserts), STAT!


- Monday, January 07, 2019 at 04:09:10 (EST)

2018-12-14 - Naughty Foods

~3.9 mi @ ~14.2 min/mi

"They're visible from space! My neighbors can't get any sleep!" Christmas lights shine bright at K2's place, thanks to her Better Half's creative energy in decoration. Dawn Patrol rambles in search of holiday ornaments through the Balls Hill neighborhood. Conversation likewise rambles through a discussion of naughty-sounding foods ("Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls", "Spotted Dick", "Sex on the Beach", "Slutty Brownies"), cryptocurrency wallets, family vacation plans, etc.

"Fun Bun passed away this week. There were tears — and there will be no more indoor pets!" The much-loved rabbit in residence at K-Rex's home is now buried in the front yard; a memorial marker is on order. As Richard Adams wrote in Watership Down, "My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today." And we who remain shall keep taking care of each other.


- Sunday, January 06, 2019 at 07:08:24 (EST)

2018-12-12 - Hugs and Kisses

~6.6 mi @ ~13.7 min/mi

"It's like being a parent, but without the hugs and kisses!" K-Rex captures the essence of the manager's job in a busy high-performance organization. Dawn Patrol random-walks based on where Xmas lights catch our eyes. Suddenly we realize that we're touring a neighborhood via the reverse of a course we took one week ago. Everything looks so different when inverted! "That's a Category Theory principle," notes Roadkill, predictably. Trail talk includes the importance of safe places to live, shop, work, learn, and just be — especially valuable as catalysts of open, soft, joyful peace of mind.


- Saturday, January 05, 2019 at 07:12:13 (EST)

Distilled to Pure Love

He dispenses love
    from a bottomless well.

In the collection, "Your Hopes for 2019", brief aspirations for the New Year sent in by readers of the New York Times:

I have been married to a man for almost 40 years. He's a good man, but he's not my soul mate. I have wanted to leave him several times. I never did, for the usual reasons: kids, economics, laziness, fear of the unknown. We went on, the kids grew up, and we just settled in. About six years ago, he was diagnosed with dementia. In October 2018, he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. I thought I knew everything about this man but he has surprised me and, moreover, given me a lesson in love. He used to be full of anxieties and anger. Now he has distilled himself down to pure love. It's who he is and how his days go. He tells us how much he loves us, he tells people he's supposed to know but has forgotten how much he loves them. It's not just words, it's action; in his eyes, his face, his gestures. He lights up at your presence; he kisses your hand; he tells you how wonderful you look. He dispenses love from a bottomless well. There is no filter, no bargaining for affection. And I stand here, in awe. — Mary Carroll, Copake, N.Y.

(cf How Great Thou Art (2005-03-16), This Is Water (2009-05-21), Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), Ground of Being (2013-10-03), Buddhism and Love (2017-01-09), Mantra - Be Meta, Be Open, Be Love (2018-11-11), ...)

- Friday, January 04, 2019 at 04:53:27 (EST)

2018-12-10 - Xmas Inflation

~5 miles @ ~15 min/mi

"We should put some money in their mailbox to help pay their electrical bill!" K2 & K-Rex admire a hyper-Christmas-spirited home at the corner of Storm and Pimmit Drive. The cozy front yard is dense with decorations: Santas, elves, dogs, candy canes, sleighs, trucks, hot air balloons, and at least one unicorn. The hum of air compressors blankets the neighborhood. Impressive display!

"We are not alone!" Mindful trail talk reviews the needs that all share for respect, affirmation, esteem, understanding, and a measure of control over circumstances. It definitely helps to have a sympathetic ear. Major GPS glitching while inside Starbucks adds a bonus of ~1.6 miles to the trackfile. Dawn Patrol doesn't actually run 6.66 miles!


- Thursday, January 03, 2019 at 05:27:26 (EST)

2018-12-09 - Western Ridge

~10.2 mi @ ~14.3 min/mi

"What was the Quote of The Day? Something about forgetfulness?" Professor Rebecca and Barry crunch through mounds of brown leaves on the Western Ridge Trail, joking and meta-joking, as Roadkill leads the way back. Two horses climb the hill and turn south. Humidity is high; temperature hovers at freezing, portending snow.

"Oops!" Steppingstones in Pinehurst Branch, a tributary of Rock Creek, are small and tippy and too far apart for 2/3rds of us to cross with dry feet. No matter, on a quiet day in the woods with good friends!


- Wednesday, January 02, 2019 at 04:36:59 (EST)

Gentleman in Moscow

A rich guy in post-revolutionary Russia is confined to a fancy hotel for decades. Not much happens.

That's A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. The protagonist lives in a nutshell, dines well, drinks a lot, has sophisticated-sounding conversations, makes friends, finds a discreet if implausible lover, and ... not much happens. Language is lovely at intervals, workmanlike throughout. Scenery is ornate. Characterization is thin. Plot is glacial. After some coincidences, it ends. Okay.

- Tuesday, January 01, 2019 at 05:12:10 (EST)

2018-12-08 - Tea for Three

~14.0 mi @ ~16.2 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Henderson_tea_Caitlin_Barry_z_2018-12-08_t.jpg"And but for the sky there are no fences facing!" Roadkill sings at mile 10. Mr Tambourine Man (aka Barry) notes the absence of barriers, bushwhacks up a slope in Kensington, then pauses for pics by a giant stone head. Today's temps begin in the mid-20s as Crabby (aka Cait) trots to Barry's 'hood. Roadkill leads the way via a cemetery where American Founding Father Daniel Carroll is buried. We run hill repeats; Cait spies a family of lawn dinosaurs.

"Does the Second Amendment guarantee the right to bare not just arms but also, uh, ...?" someone wonders, as we trot along Sligo Creek and discuss top-free sunbathing, subject of a current lawsuit in Ocean City. Bawdy banter pauses at the Colt Terrace playground for feats of strength and toy-duck-riding. Roadkill rolls an already-twingy right ankle during an off-trail cut-through. We meet Robin near Wheaton Regional Park and pause to sip green gunpowder tea that she has kindly prepared to warm us. Thank you, Ma'am!
"Cross Traffic Does Not Stop" warns the sign at the intersection of Grandview and Arcola Avenues, where two cars have just collided. A few blocks later at mile 8 Cait's knee suddenly goes bad, possibly an ITB issue. We await her husband Bill's arrival; she reminisces about drawing chalk outlines around childhood playmates in the street, faux crime scenes to startle passers-by.

"You, Sir, are The Bad Influence today!" Roadkill salutes Barry, who takes us on a scramble through a brushy ravine to Einstein High School. Plans for speedwork on the track are thwarted by ongoing construction to upgrade the football field. Trail talk today includes superhero films, plans to see holiday lights, upcoming race logistics, and family news.


- Monday, December 31, 2018 at 05:03:07 (EST)

Leaders Eat Last

Another book (or "book") with a great truth — let's all take care of each other — and not much more. Movingly-told anecdotes, yes. Testable, statistically-based evidence? Not so much, if any. Pop neurochemistry = endorphins + dopamine + serotonin + oxytocin — plenty of it. Bottom-line-up-front? Still looking for it. Simon Sinek's Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't — an excellent 2009 TED Talk, in 300 pages.

- Sunday, December 30, 2018 at 05:56:38 (EST)

2018-12-07 - Dreams and Code Words

~7.4 mi @ ~14.6 min/mi

"Slippery slope!" K2 warns, as K-Rex tells of a Pony Play-Date offered by the local stables for young people. Likewise, a half-mile walk-run on which K2 took a colleague who said, "I can't run" — first steps on a slippery-slope toward ultramarathoning! Dawn Patrol lopes along, talking about calendar issues (don't ask!) and codewords for Recent Events That Must Not Be Spoken Of.

"I had a very interesting dream last night!" — the most frightening sentence in the English Language, according to Oscar Wilde, disproved by K2 as she describes a kindly-portentous dream. A hawk takes off from the ground near us as we approach. Such a wonderful morning!


- Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 06:03:00 (EST)

2018-12-05 - Dawn Patrol with Cait

~5.4 mi @ ~13.7 min/mi

"Are you going to wait until I die before you propose to her?" asks somebody's Grandma, impatient about the engagement process's slow pace. (Deservedly so: she donated a diamond to get things going!) Dawn Patrol is rejoined by Caitlin, who tells of cutthroat competition for over-the-top holiday lawn decorations in her parents' neighborhood. Christmas lights on a tree glitter in reflection off a glass-fronted home; adjacent three-garage mini-mansions feature giant inflatable ornaments. Laser-projected spots converge into snowflake shapes and dissolve into speckles. Spiky pastel-glowing spheres cling to tree limbs. K-Rex navigates through McLean cut-through paths on a frosty morning.


- Friday, December 28, 2018 at 06:02:49 (EST)

2018-12-03 - 10x Ironman

~5.6 mi @ ~12.7 min/mi

"Let's stay lost!" says K-Rex. Dawn Patrol takes a new cut-through, from McLean High School down slippery stairs and a ramp, then wanders into a dead-end decorated with traffic cones. Retrace our path to terra cognita? Never! Onward we ramble, in search of adventure and holiday decorations.

"That house has the whole neighborhood covered!" Even though the Xmas season has barely begun one front yard features glowing candy canes, polychromatic hedge lights, dancing laser spots on the facade, and an inflated boat ("Jolly Roger") manned by a pirate Santa and friends. Overkill, thy name is Lewinsville!

"Please, Sir, may I touch your medal?" Roadkill asks, with great respect. Al Manning greets Dawn Patrol as we begin our cooldown. At DecaMan last month Al did a 24 mile swim followed by a 1,120 mile bike ride and then a 262 mile run. Ten times the Ironman event distances in 13 days. Alexander Pushkin said of Leo Tolstoy: "Even if you are aware that you have never accomplished anything, you don't feel so bad, because Tolstoy accomplishes enough for everyone." And after what Al did, there's no need for any of us to feel bad about our cute little marathons and sweet ultras. Thank you, Al!


- Thursday, December 27, 2018 at 05:59:37 (EST)

2018-12-02 - Takoma Park Murals

~5.1 mi @ ~16.1 min/mi

"Oh, heavens!" exclaims Molly, as we discover that once again we're heading in precisely the wrong direction. No matter! Morning meanders lead to new perspectives, unexpected connections, surprise gifts. Lawn art lures: a Virgin Mary behind a wire grid; swans and geese on leashes; a bed of oyster shells with dog and bird statuettes; a wall-mounted witch above a miniature Madonna.http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Takoma_Park_mural_Molly-Graham-Hickman_2018-12-02_t.jpg
http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Takoma_Park_Northwest_Branch_bridge_out_sign_2018-12-02_t.jpg"Hands like you're holding a ball!" Molly and Roadkill pose in front of "Turning Point", a huge mural now 10 years old at the corner of Piney Branch Road and New Hampshire Avenue. We seek adventure, and are amply rewarded. A slippery slope takes us onto Northwest Branch Trail, where recent floods have left muddy detritus in dark underpasses.
"DANGER! Bridge Out - Keep Off" Roadkill recalls running here but somehow forgets to warn of water crossings. Oops! As we wade across Molly tells of hiking a New York trail that vanished on one side of a river and reappeared on the other. We take the Quebec Street bridge and return home with soggy socks. Coffee and conversation with her husband Giulio ensue: category theory, Haskell programming, Terry Pratchett, and more!http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Takoma_Park_mural_z_2018-12-02_t.jpg


- Wednesday, December 26, 2018 at 04:51:49 (EST)

2018-12-01 - Rock Creek Ramble with Gayatri and Barry

~12.2 mi @ ~15.5 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Rock_Creek_caution__Gayatri_Barry_z_2018-12-01_t.jpg"They have to catch us first!" say the women who run ahead as Gayatri, Barry, and Roadkill venture past construction signs warning "DANGER - Keep Out!" Adventure continues for a dozen miles, not to be stopped by mere "CAUTION" ribbon in Rock Creek Park.

"Is he strong? Listen, bud. He's got radioactive blood!" Roadkill renders a fragment of the Spiderman TV show theme song, as we take turns leading the way up hills, past leaf-blowers, over tree roots, across streets, around parked cars. The friendly-familiar McDonald's on River Road at the Capital Crescent Trail is an aid station. A whiskery gardener on Leland Street gets a salute.
"No, it's Fake Food!" Waiting for a light to change in Bethesda, we joke about the nearby "True Food Kitchen", much to the amusement of a lady nearby. "We've been bantering furiously for the past 9 miles!" we tell her. She says she wishes she could run with us. Maybe some day!http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/River-Road_Love-Makes_Everything_Disappear_sticker_t.jpg
http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/River-Road_Thank-You-for-Not-Thinking_sticker_2018-12-01_t.jpg"Love makes everything disappear" and "Thank you for not thinking" read stickers on a bridge railing. Little girls sit atop huge horses that walk in sedate circles at Meadowbrook Stables. Rain politely waits until after we finish running and get coffee.


- Tuesday, December 25, 2018 at 09:05:08 (EST)

Category Theory is like a Lighthouse

From replies to the question "What is category theory useful for?" on Mathematics Stack Exchange, some metaphors are enlightening.

Asaf Karagila:

Generalization is the bread and butter of mathematics. The idea is that often there are many similarities between two seemingly unrelated objects, but their difference itself is very cluttering. It makes the analogy hide under the surface and not jump right at you.

When you abstract something by cleaning up the clutter you find yourself with highly concentrated theorems about tons of objects. Sometimes it would have been very hard to prove each case, let alone to come up with the idea to prove these cases. The generalizations can make things easier to see, easier to prove and easier to handle.

That been said, the de-generalization of going back from a very abstract theory to a more "down to earth" one (even if it is a very abstract theory on its own) can be a very hard process as well. Sometimes the abstraction process kills a lot of interesting information that you would like to know. Things like actual calculations or methods to calculate certain values. Restoring the details can be quite the hard work, but the abstraction helps us see what is true to begin with, and that's an incredibly important thing in mathematics, which is often similar to wading down a bog of peat, blindfolded with your shoelaces tied from one shoe to the other. Generalization and abstract theorems are lighthouses.

Ittay Weiss

Category theory serves several purposes. On the most superficial level it provides a common language to almost all of mathematics and in that respect its importance as a language can be likened to the importance of basic set theory as a language to speak about mathematics. In more detail, category theory identifies many similar aspects in very different areas of mathematics and thus provides a common unifying language. The fact that almost any structure either is a category, or the collection of all such structures with their obvious structure preserving mappings forms a category, means that we can't expect too many general theorems in category theory to be really interesting (since anything you can prove about a general category will have to be true of almost everything in maths). However, some general truths can be found to be quite useful and labour saving. ...

Continuing the analogy between set theory and category theory as common languages for maths, the situation is like saying "a set is just a bunch of points. No structure. Nothing. How interesting and relevant can it possibly be to study set theory?". As it turns out it is both interesting and very important to the rest of mathematics. ....

Less superficially, category theory encourages a shift in attention to what structure is. In category theory the particular inner workings of an object do not matter at all. All that matters is how that object is related (via the morphisms) to the other objects in the category. ...

A Ellett

At a certain level, mathematicians study structures. In a very small nutshell, category theory allows you to talk about structures recurring throughout other disciplines of mathematics; it's a kind of unifying theory. Much like Algebra studies various arithmetic structures and distills their properties without having to worry about whether you're talking about integers, matrices, families of functions, etc. which in the specifics are quite different, so category theory distills properties across various disciplines of mathematics. ...

(cf Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), Bird's-Eye View (2016-07-20), Category Theory for Programmers (2017-05-12), Ultimate Abstraction (2017-08-24), Put the Vast Storehouse in Order (2017-10-04), Yoneda Perspective (2018-10-03), If You Need a Theorem (2018-11-08), ...)

- Monday, December 24, 2018 at 05:36:53 (EST)

2018-11-30 - Persimmon Ornaments

~5.8 mi @ ~15.4 min/mi

"They're not decorations - they're persimmons!" K-Rex identifies festive orange globes hanging from a front yard tree; K2 picks up a fallen one to inspect. Dawn Patrol meanders through Pimmit Hills questing for early Xmas lights. Alas, all we spy are a few inflated snowmen. Perhaps next week! A black cat on a front porch watches warily. The last quarter Moon swings high above brilliant Venus, location confirmed by a phone's planet-finder app. Discussion centers on how to prepare for a child's first horse ride. "Oooh, this could get expensive!"


- Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 05:58:14 (EST)

2018-11-26 - Gratitude and Thanksgiving

~4.6 mi @ ~14.5 min/mi

"We can't afford a Unicorn, so we'll have to strap a Narwhal onto a Horse!" Roadkill quotes a colleague bemoaning the challenge of recruiting a rare skill mix. Rain holds off just long enough for Dawn Patrol to make it to Starbucks and return on a warm post-Thanksgiving morn. K2's kids had a great time at home for the holiday and returned safely to school. The results of Mom's arm-wrestling matches with them were positive. At least three ITBs twinge, tolerably. We thank each other every mile.

"She just talked and talked and talked, nonstop stream-of-consciousness — I didn't have to say a thing!" K-Rex describes a young girl who seems to channel the same inner Tigger as Roadkill's. We divert through a pine-scented Xmas tree mini-forest that now occupies much of a downtown McLean nursery. Wreaths are lovely but pricey, and adding a bow costs an extra $20. "I could get one for a dollar at the craft store!"


- Saturday, December 22, 2018 at 05:04:57 (EST)

2018-11-25 - I Have a Dream

~13.5 mi @ ~18 min/mi

"I HAVE A DREAM" says the marker on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Joyce & Roadkill pause where Martin Luther King Jr gave his speech 55 years ago. Tourists stroll by, posing for selfies with the Reflecting Pool behind them.I Have a Dream
Macarthur Avenue tunnel shrine Capital Crescent Trail"Believe it or not, most managers are human beings too!" We share career experiences and jog down the Capital Crescent Trail. Front yard art features big marbles overgrown by foliage. Rebecca and Win greet us, run ahead, then turn back. A fox crosses the path and vanishes into the woods. In the tunnel under MacArthur Blvd a tiny shrine commemorates "all those no longer with us". On the Georgetown waterfront we admire ducks paddling on the Potomac and peer at strange sculptures.
"Get to bed early!" Joyce offers sage advice for the Disney Dopey Challenge that Roadkill and friends plan to attempt next year. She is Perfectly Dopey, one of the rare few to have finished the 5k, 10k, half-marathon, and marathon every year since the 4-day event began in 2013. Near the White House we pat the Zero Milestone, then take Metro back to our start. A lovely day for mindful conversation and friendship!I Have a Dream


- Friday, December 21, 2018 at 05:55:32 (EST)

2018-11-24 - MCRRC Turkey Burnoff 10 Miler

~10 miles @ ~9.6 min/mi

photo by Dan Reichmann near mile 5 MCRRC Turkey Burnoff 2018"We took turns pulling each other along!' — "And pushing each other along!" Friendly rivals Richard Jefferson and Roadkill play leapfrog during today's MCRRC 10 mile "Turkey Burnoff" race on a chilly morning. Barry, Gayatri, and Ken shout greetings as paths intersect on the out-and-back course.

Ocher leaves swirl in the breeze, and a frosty fog hangs low over Clopper Lake in Seneca Creek State Park, where one week ago K2 and Roadkill dropped at mile 44 of the Stone Mill 50 miler. Today the hills feel steeper than in years past, when Roadkill ran this same course far faster. But, as his wiser friends gently remind him, "It is what it is!" and "Let go and let be!" Alas, nonattachment doesn't come (or go) easy for him! (Perhaps he needs to stop clinging so hard to the meta-goal of "no goals"?)

Preliminary official stats: 128th place of 215 finishers, behind 82 men and 45 women, #1 of 3 in the 65-69 male age/gender group, with chip time 1:35:09 and gun time 1:35:39. The result is good enough to guarantee a win in the MCRRC 2018 Championship Series for his cohort — yay!

Past results:


- Thursday, December 20, 2018 at 05:14:52 (EST)

No Goals, No Opponents, No Times

From an October 2018 New York Times profile of elite marathon runner Allie Kieffer, thoughts about letting-go and self-affirmation:

... After a few years, she missed running and started again — but this time was different. There were no goals, no opponents to compare herself with and no times to record. Everything was on her own terms. She made friends jogging in Central Park. She joined CrossFit, unheard-of in elite running, a sport whose athletes are not exactly known for their bulging musculature. She began running more miles than ever, she was healthier than ever, and she was happier, too. And then something unexpected happened: She got faster. Much faster.


Suddenly, Kieffer wasn't just trying to be one of the hundreds of elite runners in the country. She had become one of the best runners in the world.

In doing so, Kieffer has given us a powerful example of what can happen when we stop trying to force ourselves to meet preconceived notions of how to achieve success — especially unhealthy, untrue ideas — and go after our goals on our own terms. When we focus less on fixing what we consider to be inadequacies and more on reinforcing our strengths, we can realize potential we didn't even know we had. ...

Yes, and with a small correction: not so much "... go after our goals on our own terms ..." — rather, let go of goals and let be!

("Who Says Allie Kieffer Isn't Thin Enough to Run Marathons?" by Lindsay Crouse; cf Relax Into It (2011-01-09), That Feeling of Weightlessness (2012-06-23), Radical Acceptance (2015-05-13), Inhabiting the Body (2015-09-10), Mantra - Let Go and Let Be (2015-12-02), ...)

- Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 05:57:24 (EST)

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