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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 = 0.9935 ... 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!

2019-02-23 - Poiuyt House

~8.5 mi @ ~14.6 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/architecture_3-prong-blivet_2019-02-23_t.jpg"Twix!" Roadkill spies half a candy bar in a wrapper on the grass by the street. "Tastes great!" Nearby, Danger Man rolls his eyes. The duo rambles neighborhood streets, rediscover lost cut-throughs ("The Elusive Forest Glen!"), and arrive at a track to run a couple of brisk laps. Hypermodern architecture on Brunett Avenue brings to mind MAD Magazine and the infamous Three Pronged Blivet aka Impossible Trident aka Poiuyt.
On the way to Danger Man's home, an ice cream truck features SpongeBob SquarePants and other happy characters on sticks. Frozen joy!http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/ice-cream-truck_sponge-bob_2019-02-23_t.jpg


- Monday, March 18, 2019 at 04:59:46 (EDT)

2019-02-22 - Scherenschnitte

~4.4 mi @ ~15.0 min/mi

"A 'Cricut' machine, kinda like a CNC lathe for paper!" - "Like scherenschnitte, on steroids?" - Dawn Patrol discusses modern craft technology as we finish a chilly McLean ramble to Starbucks and back. K2's kids had the mojo to make chocolate-covered strawberries materialize on her front doorstep yesterday. Roadkill blames meat products for his excessive chattiness. We analyze foot pains (neuroma? cyst? fibroma?) and their treatment. A sign on the local nursery promotes "Black Gold": not "Texas Tea" aka crude oil, but rather a brand of potting soil.

"Coaching and facilitating better thinking has been most of my entire career!" - "Under stress, people revert to their norm." - A recent class on Systems Thinking and a conversation with Dr K2's thesis adviser make for musings on how metacognitive self-awareness practice "... helps people be at their best more of the time ... 'on good form' ...", to quote Prof Guy Claxton. Worth making a habit of!


- Sunday, March 17, 2019 at 06:24:02 (EDT)

2019-02-18 - Scones

~6.5 mi @ ~14.0 min/mi

"Haven't seen you forever!" The lady walking a schnauzer greets Dawn Patrol, then crosses the street to hug a long-missed acquaintance. We're finishing a cool morning ramble around the neighborhood, punctuated by a pause at Starbucks. Roadkill rolls an ankle on a curb in the gloom, a fortunate accident since it masks the pain from a blister on the other foot. He and K2 tell K-Rex of the 10k race yesterday, taking turns crediting each other for the good outcome.

"Sometimes during a meeting I go into a meta state and start thinking about how many times I've heard this same argument before!" Metacognition is good, but the big challenge is to help advance the conversation without antagonizing the participants. No easy answers, especially when debate focuses on tightly-held beliefs about unimportant aspects of a larger issue. (cf Law of Triviality)

"Scones - with orange and lemon zest, but no clotted cream!" K-Rex baked over the weekend, and her family was happy.


- Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 05:23:05 (EDT)

Many Worlds of Math

In a recent NPR Science Friday broadcast Prof Eugenia Cheng talks about why she loves mathematics:

... those of us who love math love it for some of the same reasons that people hate it. So everyone hates it because they think it's about memorizing and about formulæ and about getting the right answer. Whereas we love it, probably because ... you don't have to memorize anything, because it's all about understanding, and there isn't a right answer. There are many possible different worlds in which different things can be true. ...

... it's all about understandingyes, and ...

(cf Hal Clement (2003-11-05), Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), Beyond Infinity 2017-07-24),Mathematical Illumination (2017-08-07), Explicable and Inexplicable (2017-08-20), Eugenia Cheng on Thinking (2017-12-30), ...)

- Friday, March 15, 2019 at 04:28:31 (EDT)

2019-02-17 - Middle Lap of the GWBM

~7.4 mi @ ~14.2 min/mi

"Fancy meeting you here!" Danger Man greets Roadkill at mile 7.6 of the George Washington Birthday Marathon, and they run a lap of the course together on a chilly Sunday. We salute Derek who, for more than a decade, provides music for runners (cf 2017-02-19 - GW Birthday Marathon etc). Fusillades of gunfire from a nearby range echo across fields of corn stubble. A tow truck rescues vehicles stuck in roadside mud.

"No weapons allowed? Then I can't enter!" Danger Man controls his deadly hands as we pass the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory, its fences covered with warning signs. Earlier conversation mentions Chuck Norris, not (yet!) a Marathon Maniac. Roadkill lectures on electromagnetic theory when the course goes past a NASA antenna research facility. After surviving close to 2 hours of that, the remainder of the race is easy for Danger Man!


- Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 05:53:41 (EDT)

2019-02-17 - Kemp Mill Chills 10k Race

~6.2 mi @ ~9.5 min/mi

"We need ... to invent ... a Code Language ... to save breath!" K2 and Roadkill push hard and gasp encouragement during the MCRRC "Kemp Mill (C)hills" on a brisk Sunday morning. We start far back in the crowd and have to weave between runners for a downhill initial mile of 8.6 minutes, followed as crowds thin with solid splits of 9.6 + 9.7 + 9.5 + 9.5 + 9.5 and then a final uphill dash.

"Хорошо!" and "Спасибо!" Roadkill's Russian reaches its limit as he cheers fast Igor and gives thanks that we're in different age groups. Nearing mile 6, "2 minutes to spare!" he estimates, before realizing that 10k is 0.2 miles longer. Oops! Official results set K2's gun time at 1:00:03, tantalizingly close but not quite below 1-hour. Maybe next time, on less-undulating terrain!?


- Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 04:30:55 (EDT)

Good Job

A dear BFF's list of factors to consider when choosing a project to sign onto, a group to join, a corporation to stick with:

... quite akin to Life Partner Criteria or other long-term decision inputs!

(cf Life Partner Criteria Revisited (2016-06-02, ...)

- Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 05:34:32 (EDT)

2019-02-16 - Rock Creek R2

~12.6 mi @ ~12.9 min/mi

"Vienna Sausages? Slim Jims?" Roadkill, experimenting with carnivorism, wonders what fleshy products are the least-compassionate choices. (Veal and pâté de fois gras fall completely beyond the pale.) Chill north breezes lead to a couple of solo sub-10 minute miles, baby steps that inch toward the true speedwork he needs to train for upcoming endurance races. At Meadowbrook Stables horses and their young riders practice jumps over low flower-box barriers.

"He thought the note he carried said 'I don't eat animals' in Chinese, but it actually read 'I am a Buddhist'." A vegan friend of R2, traveling solo around China and not speaking the language, had asked for something to show people in restaurants or markets; he didn't get the literal translation that he expected. We ramble along Rock Creek, then divert west to avoid a construction zone. On Rittenhouse St NW a small house with bright trim features gigantic weathervanes and a painted pigeon statue.

"National Endowment for Libraries?" someone suggests, as a fortuitous encounter leads to discussion of books and their display. Libraries should be well-endowed! Homeward bound at his mile 10 Roadkill is startled to spy a familiar blue-and-white striped shirt and a "Clem cap". He tries to run between Dr Slow Twitch and Jaybird, but they block him. Banter ensues, with reminisces of long-ago long-runs together (e.g., 2013-04-07 - Fletchers Boathouse and Lincoln Memorial). So good to meet dear friends on the trail!


- Monday, March 11, 2019 at 05:34:18 (EDT)

2019-02-15 - Zombie Ranger

~4.7mi @ ~14.1 min/mi

"I dreamt that the barista wouldn't make a Zombie Ranger venti coffee for you," Roadkill tells K2, "because it was too early in the day for Starbucks to serve alcohol!" Dawn Patrol cruises a short route today to get back in time for early meetings. K-Rex tells of her son's creative-sweet Valentine for his sister, made entirely of Legos. Temperatures are in the 50s but winds make it feel cooler. We discuss the importance of learning Systems Thinking at all levels of an organization. As the sky brightens school bus drivers check their vehicles in the George C Marshall HS parking lot.


- Sunday, March 10, 2019 at 10:17:17 (EDT)

Ultimo, Instant, Proximo

Archaisms are such fun! Although "inst." meaning "this month" is still sometimes seen, its siblings "ult." and "prox." seem to be extinct or almost so. From [1] on Alison Kilpatrick's site Arborealis:

"Instant," for instante mense, in the current month; "Proximo," for proximo mense, in the next month; "Utlimo," for ultimo mense, in the last month (Latin).

Source: Brewer, Ebenezer Cobham. Etymology and Pronouncing Dictionary of Difficult Words. London: Ward, Lock, & Co.; New York; 1882.

(cf Ai Ren (2004-03-02), Factor and Factotum (2004-11-04), ...)

- Saturday, March 09, 2019 at 04:29:06 (EST)

2019-02-13 - Puddle Hop

~5.8 mi @ ~14.8 min/mi

"Hound of the Baskervilles?" Two glowing eyes peer at us from the far end of the wooden bridge. Then they begin to shift hue, until one shines blood red and the other glows green. An ominous figure stands above them - who at our approach turns into the owner of a pair of friendly dogs, each with a light dangling from its collar. "Good morning!"

Dawn Patrol dodges puddles en route to Starbucks. In Bryn Mawr Park agile K2 avoids a swampy zone by leapfrogging across via slippery tree stumps; K-Rex and Roadkill take the muddy low road. A vacant 0.2 acre lot at the corner of Great Falls and Hunting is on sale, asking price $525,000. We discuss upcoming changes, new jobs, skillful ways to handle delicate relationship issues, and the happiness that comes from having friends to share life with.


- Friday, March 08, 2019 at 05:09:43 (EST)

2019-02-10 - Draft Snake

~8.7 mi @ ~14.1 min/mi

"Draft Snake — or maybe Mouse Magnet?" Slow-twitch describes a craft project, a cloth tube filled with rice to block air flow under a door. A draft snake apparently can also become a feeding station for a cute rodent, one of whom is now BFF with her cat and dog. Early Sunday morning we converge on Fletchers Boathouse and ramble downstream along the C&O Canal. Ducks dabble in the water where it's not yet frozen. A bald eagle soars above the Potomac.

"You're both wearing Clem Caps!" K2 and Jaybird have identical headgear, named for a fellow runner whom Slow-twitch lent hers to during a super-cold ultra last year. Today with temps in the 20s Crabby, K2, Slow-twitch, and Roadkill trot together toward Georgetown, with Jaybird speedwalking behind as he recovers from injury. Alas, while four are in Starbucks one zips past and belatedly texts from the Lincoln Memorial, wondering where we have gone. Oops!

"There's nothing quite like it!" Crabby reminisces about rowing, crew, and scull — new interests of Slow-twitch's daughter. K2 describes a blizzard adventure, and near the waterfront we spy an abandoned copy of Ken Follett's novel Whiteout. Other jetsam includes tasty tater tots (yes, someone eats them) and a rainbow-unicorn party napkin. Roadkill's wizard hat (TY, Danger Man!) garners kudos from passers-by, including Mike Edwards who is shepherding a training run this morning.


- Thursday, March 07, 2019 at 05:48:07 (EST)

Be the Gateless Gate

Be Meta — mind all emptiness
  Attentive and awake, aware,
  Watching without a watcher to
  Transcend this time, and be ...

Be Open — soft and flexible
  Accepting all and not attached,
  Fluid, possible, changing,
  Maybe not, perhaps, may be ...

Be Kind — shining with total love
  Affirming and approving and at one,
  Saying "Yes, and" to all that is, and all
  That ever was, and will be ...

(cf Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), Mantra - Mindfulness, Nonattachment, Oneness (2017-01-25), Mindfulness in Three Words (2018-06-13), Mantra - Be Meta, Be Open, Be Love (2018-11-11), Om - Fine and One and Blessed (2018-07-07), Meditation Map (2019-01-19), ...)

- Wednesday, March 06, 2019 at 05:22:29 (EST)

2019-02-09 - Pause, Breathe, Yes

~14.1 mi @ ~14.1 min/mi

"Trick-or-treating?" the bus driver inexplicably asks Roadkill as he exits. Random strangers all morning compliment Slow-twitch on her cap. Why, we wonder? And whence the enigmatic sushi-like design on the jigsaw-tile found by the sidewalk?

"You're hot!" - "No, you're haaaaaaaaht!" - We practice faux Boston accents, give thanks for windbreakers and handwarmers, and yearn for additional layers as a gusty north wind and subfreezing temps cut through clothing and turn skin red. Starbucks coffee warms; the detour generates a 2.7 mile GPS bonus glitch. In front of St Elizabeth's Catholic Church we pause to admire a beautiful bronze sculpture, then explore the path through the woods and across the stream between Woodmont Country Club and Montrose Park. Sharp-eyed Slow-twitch spies two deer feeding in the brush.
sushi bear tile
caption"Oh, I can wait — at least 15 seconds!" Besides warmth and wakefulness, coffee prompts a search for facilities. After a gas-station-convenience-store pause we ramble onward, with no plans, no goals, no worries — only thankfulness for freedom, health, and the chance to see the universe in the company of a dear friend. Roadkill quotes the final "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip: "It's a magical world. Let's go exploring!"
"See the face? And the bird inside the cat?" A bright mural on the side of The Terano apartment complex lures us across the road. And when a mysterious path through the woods beckons we climb the Veirs Mill Road high metal guardrail (ouch!) and discover a "Trail To Nowhere" aka the unfinished Twinbrook Connector (see [1] for history and details). We run its full length, then turn around. Slow-twitch compliments Roadkill as he overcomes his OCD aversion to backtracking. Along Rock Creek Trail we dash up the hills to prepare Slow-Twitch for upcoming races. Roadkill's pointy Merlin hat (thanks, Danger Man!) brushes against branches overhead. He feels a burst of vertigo, perhaps from dehydration. Slow-Twitch gently suggests strategies to help get his weight back down.Rockville Terano apartment mural
statues at St Elizabeths"Jaybird!" Suddenly, a familiar face appears heading upstream. After a pause for photos and fist-bumps, onward! At Grosvenor Metro we pass former homes of friends, share memories of times both happy and sad, and discover a flock of fresh artwork: bright totem poles alongside the parking garage. Some appear innocent; others seem to show Freudian subtexts. (Or is that just our naughty interpretation?) We give thanks for circles of loving friends, always there for us. Trail talk turns mindful as we analyze fear, the urge to take control of uncertainty, the challenge of not-responding to stress — and the benefit of breathing and pausing at the point of highest tension. So difficult, so Zen, sometimes so good ...


- Tuesday, March 05, 2019 at 05:57:54 (EST)

2019-02-08 - Gnats on Crack

~4.8 mi @ ~14.4 min/mi

"Like Gnats on Crack!" Buzzing with energy, two comrades spend the weekend downhill skiing during a blizzard that drops 7 feet (!) of snow on the slopes. Avalanche-control explosions go off as they schuss by. Orange-clad rescue squad members eye them with disbelief in the resort lobby. They have the outdoor heated pool all to themselves. The flight homeward at 5pm on Sunday is on an aircraft storm-delayed from 8am. And all ends well!

"Who else would enjoy such a crazy adventure?" asks one.

"Let me tell you about my Dawn Patrol friends!" replies the other.

We meander through Langley on a foggy morning and find a Little Free Library full of like-new children's books. Roadkill spies a biography of Shakespeare titled Will in the World and recommends it to K2. A cookbook of fancy breads catches K-Rex's fancy. We share family news, happy and sad, hopeful and scary. Whatever happens we'll help each other get through it. All will end well!


- Monday, March 04, 2019 at 05:30:04 (EST)

Why Care about Category Theory

Mark Chu-Carroll in his blog Good Math/Bad Math offers thoughts from a computer science perspective in his October 2018 post "Another Stab at Category Theory: Lesson one: Starting with Monoids":

Ok, so why should you care about category theory?

Category theory is a different way of thinking, and it's a language for talking about abstractions. The heart of engineering is abstraction. We take problems, and turn them into abstract structures. We look at the structures we create, and recognize commonalities between those structures, and then we create new abstractions based on the commonalities. The hardest part of designing a good library is identifying the right abstractions.

Category theory is a tool for talking about structures, which is particularly well suited to thinking about software. In category theory, we think in terms of arrows, where arrows are mappings between objects. We'll see what that means in detail later, but the gist of it is that one example of arrows mapping between objects is functions mapping between data types in a computer program.

Category theory is built on thinking with arrows, and building structures using arrows. It's about looking at mathematical constructions built with arrows, and in those structures, figuring out what the fundamental parts are. When we abstract enough, we can start to see that things that look very different are really just different realizations of the same underlying structure. Category theory gives us a language and a set of tools for doing that kind of abstraction — and then we can take the abstract structures that we identify, and turn them into code — into very generic libraries that express deep, fundamental structure.

(cf Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), Category Theory Concepts (2016-04-25), 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), Category Theory is like a Lighthouse (2018-12-24), Macro vs Micro (2019-02-03), ...)

- Sunday, March 03, 2019 at 05:39:04 (EST)

2019-02-04 - Virtue

~7.3 mi @ ~13.5 min/mi

"Respect!" - "Fairness!" - "Responsibility!" - "Openness!" - "Caring!" — K-Rex and Roadkill ramble in the freezing-foggy darkness and share thoughts about dimensions of balance and justice in relationships. The Greeks called it arete (ἀρετή); the Romans, virtue. Bill and Ted said, "Be excellent to each other." Dawn Patrol meanders through Pimmit Hills, walking carefully across remnants of ice. Blinky lights under the eaves of one bungalow modulate through the color spectrum, ready to celebrate any seasonal holiday. An alert dog barks when it hears our conversation.


- Saturday, March 02, 2019 at 06:24:29 (EST)

2019-02-03 - Never Look Back

~6.0 mi @ ~15.3 min/mi

Caitlin, Joyce, Santa Steve, Roadkill on the CCT"Fail falling forward!" Crabby and Roadkill concur on the spirit of the athlete (Greek "athlon" = feat or contest) — strive, fail, repeat — regardless of the realm. For some it's doing an ultra in an ice storm; for some it's adding a minute to time on the elliptical or pushing through one more push-up; for some it's driving to an event with the chemo drip-bag hanging from the rear view mirror; for some it's hitting "send" on an email, signing up to take a scary test. It's all about expanding the envelope, cheerfully going a step beyond the comfort zone and helping others do likewise. We chase a pair of fast runners for a 10:18 first mile, then settle down to walking with sporadic intervals of slow jogging.

"Never look back!" Roadkill sneaks up behind Santa Steve and tugs on his t-shirt, and Crabby salutes Princess Penguin. We last saw each other at the Disney Dopey races 3 weeks ago. A passer-by on the Capital Crescent Trail takes photos, carefully posed with a snowy background to avoid showing the real urban Bethesda context.


- Friday, March 01, 2019 at 04:51:21 (EST)

2019-02-02 - Kensington Shuffle

~4.3 mi @ ~15.6 min/mi

"Sanctuary!" say the deer nibbling grass near Cedar Lane Unitarian Church, standing their ground as a pair of two-legged technical-garbed monsters approach. On a brisk Saturday afternoon Crabby and Roadkill circle the neighborhood, catching up on news and plans three weeks after their Disney Dopey Challenge. A trio of cast-iron children play Ring Around the Rosie on a snowy front lawn. St Mary cradles the infant Jesus at the Holy Redeemer School in Kensington.


- Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 05:53:57 (EST)

Odd and the Frost Giants

Neil Gaiman's 2008 children's short novel Odd and the Frost Giants is ... odd. It feels as though it's striving — to be engaging, uplifting, innovating — and instead it's ... flat. The plot: pedestrian, with no real surprises. The language: workmanlike, with minimal imagery or metaphorical twist. The characters: gray, with voices that fade into each other. Akin to Gaiman's 2013 adult nightmare story Ocean at the End of the Lane, but at the JF/YA level. "Happy" ending. Page count achieved. Assignment completed. Meh ...

The illustrations by Brett Helquist, on the other hand: good!

(cf Rules for Writing (2010-03-07), ...)

- Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at 05:42:32 (EST)

2019-02-02 - The Shroom

~5.2 mi @ ~15.2 min/mi

Wesley United Methodist Church"Hobbit Home!" Danger Man and Roadkill skate along icy sidewalks near Western Avenue to find an oddly-shaped concrete mushroom-like house that sold for 1.5 M$ just a few months ago. (cf [1]) Our journey includes pauses at a DC Boundary Stone (NW6), a snowy slope in Ft Bayard Park, and cheery playground art in front of Wesley United Methodist Church on Connecticut Ave NW. After some frigid days temps have risen to the mid-30s.


- Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 04:42:21 (EST)

2019-01-28 - Bread Run

~6.3 mi @ ~14.5 min/mi

"Brioche, damper (Australian soda bread), and a chocolate-coffee-cream-cheese cakey concoction!" K-Rex makes mouths water describing her family's weekend baking. Dawn Patrol pauses at Peet's, gaining a +0.8 mile GPS glitch in exchange for a gift of hot caffeine. Our retrograde orbit leads into the wind and through an under-construction zone where, some day soon, Yet Another Starbucks is fated to appear next door to a sports bar that promises 15 big screens of action. Life is Good!

"Should I add more weights to the bar? And is that enough, or do I actually have to lift once in a while?" Roadkill wonders whether more upper-body development could distract from his ever-expanding midsection. K2 reports on her daughter's battle with polar vortex chills in Michigan, while her son enjoys Floridian warmth and she faces a snowy Nevada future. "The mountains are calling and I must go!"


- Monday, February 25, 2019 at 04:30:04 (EST)

Finite and Infinite Games

Comments in the Greater than Code conversation #118 "A Piece of Luck With Jessica Kerr" held in February 2019:

JAMEY: ... This is silly but I saw a piece of graffiti one time when I was traveling that I think about a lot and it said, "Everything will be okay in the end. If it isn't okay, then it isn't the end." I find that very comforting. I try to think about that as the comforting side of this kind of frustration in life, so I wanted to share.

JESSICA: Yeah, there are no endings but there is better. There are many, many, many tiny little betters and we can get those. There's a beautiful book called Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse that you can download the PDF online. That's really good about this because we do have finite games that we make for ourselves but in the end, life is an infinite game. There are no endings.

SAM: There may be an ending for you, specifically but it's not really an ending for everybody else. They go on. Even after you've died, your contribution can live on: your words, your ideas, some of your actions, they continue to have repercussions even after you've gone.

Such an important and comforting thought:

"... there are no endings
  but there is better.
There are many, many, many
  tiny little betters
and we can get those ..."

- Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 05:05:13 (EST)

2019-01-27 - Calvert Cliffs

~5.1 mi @ ~26 min/mi

Calvert Cliffs State Park warped warf"The Martian?" Roadkill speculates about potential Trail Name themes for Dr Mary as two physicists hike Calvert Cliffs State Park early on a chill Sunday morning. Wikipedia describes cartoon character Marvin the Martian as "... funny ... soft-spoken ... clever and competent ..." — hmmmm, excellent potential there! The park is almost empty, mud frozen and boardwalks frosty-slick along the Red Trail. An abandoned warped wooden wharf curls its lip at a swamp of despair.
"Goodness gracious!" says Mary, as we categorize oaths as blasphemous, obscene, scatological, profane, etc. A receding tide exposes countless shells on the sandy beach; a mammoth container ship idles offshore. Our return trip follows the more strenuous Orange Trail. We analyze geology and art, families and future races, hopes and plans.Calvert Cliffs State Park with Ma


- Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 05:40:58 (EST)

2019-01-26 - Amber Observations

~6.7 mi @ ~11.5 min/mi

"Imagine what you'll know tomorrow!" says Roadkill to fast Frau Doktor when she suddenly sees, after living in the area for years, the Secret Pattern of Washington DC street names (alphabetized letters, then 1-syllable words, then 2-syllable words, etc. as one progresses northward). Discovery is fun! — as is quiet conversation with a wonderful friend, and revisiting landmarks, and sharing good news, and remembering great times together, and helping one another.

"They scold you as a Bad Parent if you jaywalk with your child across an empty road — but they blithely ride bikes without wearing helmets and let their 6-year-olds walk completely by themselves to and from school!" Doktor A reports never feeling more truly American than when in another country. We pause for photo ops at scenic corners, sculptures, and murals. The Dok's training pace is brisker than Roadkill's race pace, and he thanks her for every walk break. And yes — It's All Good!


- Friday, February 22, 2019 at 04:52:07 (EST)

2019-01-26 - Towpath Trek

~7 mi @ ~15 min/mi

"If you owe him forever, then he will never lack money!" observes the wise lady behind the counter at McDonald's, when Danger Man says that he will always be in Roadkill's debt for buying coffee today. We're recovering from a brisk Saturday morning trek along the C&O Canal with temps in the low 20's. Inside Starbucks at Washington Harbour the GPS glitches and adds half a mile to the trackfile. A hollow tree in Georgetown features tiny figurines. Trail talk includes an analysis of post-meal plate-stacking etiquette.

"Did you drop your beard?" asks a woman, who picks up a tuft of faux-hair from the ground at Fletchers Boathouse. As K2 leads the way back to our start we see a crowd gathering on the towpath, led by a swashbuckling pirate wielding a plastic sword and wearing an eyepatch, fake beard, and big black hat. In a thick Irish accent he starts the race, a free Parkrun 5k event. We divert to the parallel trail and run alongside. At the Arizona Avenue Trestle energetic Danger Man demonstrates how to leap up stairs, two-at-a-time. Back at the boathouse, when we pose with the pirate race director he loses his beard. Oops!


- Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 04:44:26 (EST)

Shelter from the Storm

Bob Dylan's 1974 song "Shelter from the Storm" speaks on many levels; it's a messy muddle of images and a razor-edged Zen koan and a group hug of all-that-was-and-will-be. The first three verses say it best:

'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
    "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
I'll always do my best for her, on that I give my word
In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm
    "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"

Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved
Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm
    "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" ...

... yes, and to delaminate a few transcendent phrases of that:

(cf My Generation (2001-10-02), Lyric Notes (2002-03-29), Street Songs (2003-12-29), Southern Cross (2005-07-28), Mystery Religion (2005-02-08), Sound of Bangles (2005-08-24), John Darnielle (2006-09-24), If You Say 'Run' (2010-05-14), Nothing But Faith in Nothing (2014-09-07), Story of My Life (2016-03-04), Mantra - Things Can Only Get Better (2016-09-11), Stand by You (2017-01-11), Heroes (We Could Be) (2018-01-25), In Your Eyes (2018-08-04), ...)

- Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 06:21:51 (EST)


~3.1 mi @ ~13.1 min/mi

"It's a Four-day Crush Zone!" declares K-Rex, as Dawn Patrol commiserates about how a holiday-shortened week becomes hectic when the usual five days of work gets squeezed into 20% less. Venus and Sirius glimmer side-by-side through high clouds, and a beautiful stained-glass window glows above a garage on Thrasher Road. Slick ice puddles turn exposed asphalt surfaces into skating rinks, even though the air temperature is slightly above freezing. Roadkill lectures on the physics of Planck-law black body radiation and why darker surfaces cool faster. K2 leads the way through neighborhood cut-throughs.

"You are the greatest athletes in the world!" We salute each other and debate whether decathlons or triathlons are appropriate next-steps beyond ultramarathons — and concur that injury avoidance and efficient use of limited training time are key factors to consider — not to mention glory and mental health and cultivation of friendships!


- Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at 05:22:57 (EST)

Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy

Writing in The New Yorker almost half a dozen years ago about health care issues, physician-researcher Atul Gawande riffs on the theme of Wicked Problems ("Something Wicked This Way Comes"):

In 1973, two social scientists, Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber, defined a class of problems they called "wicked problems." Wicked problems are messy, ill-defined, more complex than we fully grasp, and open to multiple interpretations based on one's point of view. They are problems such as poverty, obesity, where to put a new highway—or how to make sure that people have adequate health care.

They are the opposite of "tame problems," which can be crisply defined, completely understood, and fixed through technical solutions. Tame problems are not necessarily simple—they include putting a man on the moon or devising a cure for diabetes. They are, however, solvable. Solutions to tame problems either work or they don't.

Solutions to wicked problems, by contrast, are only better or worse. Trade-offs are unavoidable. Unanticipated complications and benefits are both common. And opportunities to learn by trial and error are limited. You can't try a new highway over here and over there; you put it where you put it. But new issues will arise. Adjustments will be required. No solution to a wicked problem is ever permanent or wholly satisfying, which leaves every solution open to easy polemical attack.

Two decades ago, the economist Albert O. Hirschman published a historical study of the opposition to basic social advances; "the rhetoric of intransigence," as he put it. He examined the structure of arguments—in the eighteenth century, against expansions of basic rights, such as freedom of speech, thought, and religion; in the nineteenth century, against widening the range of citizens who could vote and participate in power; and, in the twentieth century, against government-assured minimal levels of education, economic well-being, and security. In each instance, the reforms aimed to address deep, pressing, and complex societal problems—wicked problems, as we might call them. The reforms pursued straightforward goals but required inherently complicated, difficult-to-explain means of implementation. And, in each instance, Hirschman observed, reactionary argument took three basic forms: perversity, futility, and jeopardy. ...

"Perversity" means that the proposed solution will only make things worse; "futility" means that it won't make any difference; "jeopardy" means that costs will be so high as to hurt in other areas. All three are possible, and all three require modeling and systems thinking to confirm or refute. They aren't arguments; they're possibilities to analyze.

And then Gawande turns to the larger ethical and moral issues of selfishness and caring and good ...

(cf The Rhetoric of Reaction, Fifth Disciplinarians (2000-09-10), Circle of Concern" (2012-07-18), Thinking in Systems (2017-11-03), The World We Truly Want (2018-10-13), ...)

- Monday, February 18, 2019 at 04:56:16 (EST)

2019-01-23 - Feedback Fun

~4.4 mi @ ~14.8 min/mi

"Spit-take?" Roadkill suggests a comic way to feign surprise, when trying to conceal prior knowledge of a secret.

"Well, I've been told that I seem too calm," K2 says. "Perhaps if I tried that once and spewed coffee, I wouldn't ever need to again?" Dawn Patrol rambles carefully along icy sidewalks to Starbucks, K-Rex leading the way. Early morning meetings mandate a short trek. Landing lights on descending aircraft streak like comets in a foggy sky.

"You should take a cooking class; you could learn a LOT!" - "Go on that trip; you're not getting any younger!" - "Donate those clothes that are too tight; you'll never fit in them again!" We share stories of feedback from kids and comrades. "Thank you!" is always the right response.


- Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 06:35:54 (EST)

2019-01-21 - Temps in the Teens

~3.3 mi @ ~14.9 min/mi

Merlin is back from Bermuda Vacation!"Stay warm, Deer!" With temps in the mid-teens Danger Man extends best wishes to the small herd of four-legged locusts by Rock Creek Trail. Icy patches decorate the path as we trot upstream into brisk breezes, bantering about the Disney Dopey Challenge last weekend and comparing twinges.
Then it's time for hot coffee and a visit to the shoe store where Roadkill can't resist the Half Price Room. "But I saved so much!"No Silver Skates today!


- Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 07:18:50 (EST)

2019-01-20 - Archaic Torso of Apollo

~1.9 mi @ ~12.7 min/mi

Takoma Park art"Against the Wind!" Sound advice from Bob Seger for venturing out, so the return trip becomes a downhill run with a following breeze. Molly and Roadkill tack northwest into the polar vortex on Sunday afternoon, temps falling into the 20s. We pause to photograph a mural near the corner of Greenwood and Piney Branch, then dash to Sligo Creek, dancing over icy patches.
A headless statue stands alone in the woods, arms crossed. Not Rainer Maria Rilke's "Archaic Torso of Apollo", yet nonetheless "... still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp ...". Or so it would be, but for a joker who perches his chin on top!archaic torso of apollo NOT


- Friday, February 15, 2019 at 04:47:32 (EST)

2019-01-20 - Windy Wandering

~6.7 mi @ ~12.3 min/mi

"No 'stache-to-'stache?" Bewiskered Roadkill and The Swabinator discuss how to perform CPR; the simplified modern method doesn't incorporate mouth-to-mouth resuscitation between consenting adults. "Fake stone!" A boundary marker at Westmoreland Circle is not one of the Oldest Federal Monuments, but Ken poses by it nonetheless, rabbit-ears added by R-Squared. The painted CowParade statue on Mass Ave attracts Roadkill who pauses for a selfie.

"Another one bites the dust!" - "Pennies from Heaven!" - "Jump!" - "Blowin' in the Wind!" And the music just keeps coming, while chill northwest winds whip and snow flurries commence. R-Squared riffs from Jack Black's School of Rock: "Isn't that a song?" - "No, I don't think so." - "Are you sure?" A fast couple sprints by us in the final quarter mile; we cheer them.


- Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 04:55:33 (EST)

Mathematician's Apoplexy

G. H. Hardy (1877-1947) wrote A Mathematician's Apology in 1940, late in life, during wartime. It shows. The book is short, argumentative, often wrong. Hardy insists that the "pure" parts of mathematics and physics are irrelevant to ordinary life. How silly — increasingly, obviously so! His thesis that knowing "...a little chemistry, physics, or physiology has no value at all in ordinary life"? Ditto. His claim, "Real mathematics has no effects on war. No one has yet discovered any warlike purpose to be served by the theory of numbers or relativity, and it seems very unlikely that anyone will do so for many years ..."? Already wrong when he wrote them, more blatantly so now.

Wiser, perhaps, if Hardy had stood on his head, smiled, and said:

(cf Strands of Truth (2000-11-02), Millennium Math (2002-12-05), The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics (2008-02-17), Progress in Math (2017-07-30), Ultimate Abstraction (2017-08-24), ...)

- Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 04:42:21 (EST)

2019-01-19 - Downs and Ups

~11.2 mi @ ~13.1 min/mi

"I'm down with that — or maybe I'm up for that?" Emaad and Ken compare modern ways to concur as they ramble with Roadkill and R-Square on a comfy-cool Saturday morning. We inspect two Boundary Stones placed in 1792 and proceed along the razor's edge between DC and MD, aka Western Ave.

"Dead animal products?" A farmers' market in Chevy Chase is mostly vegetarian, but the manager abashedly points to a carnivore-friendly section. We explore dead-end streets in search of new cut-throughs without luck. Emaad reports on a super-steep Marin County trail race last week. Roadkill recommends "The Mechanical Universe", a long-ago PBS series, for a fine introduction to freshman physics.


- Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 05:34:09 (EST)

ZhurnalyWiki Random Power Thought Server

Like the ZhurnalyWiki Random Tarot and ZhurnalyWiki Random Unicorn Server, another click-to-mix-and-pick feature just installed: the ZhurnalyWiki Random Power Thought service. Optimism and cheer abound in this deck of 64 created by Louise Hay (1926-2017). See her corporation, "Hay House", for further information and to get a set of physical "Power Thought Cards".

Yes, and as with the "ZhurnalyWiki Random Tarot" service and other pseudorandom offerings here, click on the words "Power Thought" in the menu-bar at the top of all ZhurnalyWiki pages to get a chaotically-chosen bit of positive advice. Try one a day perhaps, let it nudge your mental state in a hopeful direction, and don't take it too seriously ...

(Power-Thought URL = "http://zhurnaly.com/cgi-bin/wiki?action=randommatch;match=%5EPower_Thought_-_")

- Monday, February 11, 2019 at 05:42:30 (EST)

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