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 = 0.9920 ... 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 ...
Personal productivity guru David Allen advice:
... Keep lists, folks. The key lists are Projects, Calendar, Next Actions, and Waiting For. Look at them as often as you need to. Not so that you have to do everything. On the contrary, so you don't have to do everything. You can only do one thing at a time. You can either feel good about what you're doing, or awful about all the things you're not doing. Your choice. ...
(from "Feeling Good About What You're Not Doing", in the Huffington Post, 2008; cf. Earning Red Checks (2011-11-28), Mind Like Water (2011-12-24), Getting Things Done - Summarized (2012-05-14), David Allen Summarized (2014-04-29), Mantra - Mind Like Water (2015-05-04), ...)
- Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 05:28:44 (EDT)
"At Hurricane Point I was almost blown into the ocean!" Rebecca describes the Big Sur Marathon she ran two weeks ago, in rougher weather than any of her prior six times there. Conditions for today's trek along Rock Creek are far gentler, except for the ordeal of parking at KenGar given all the training groups that meet here early Sunday morning. I run up and down the steep path by the railroad tracks to Plyers Mill Road a couple of times until Rebecca finds a space for her car and arrives on foot.
Then downstream we trot, discussing injuries and a half-marathon opportunity next weekend. Big puddles force a detour on a muddy forest track near milepost 6, but the paved trail under the Connecticut Avenue bridge is surprisingly not flooded despite recent rains. In our final mile we meet Peter, a fit 71-year-old who mentions an upcoming 10k race he hopes to compete in. "Why don't you try a Decathlon?" I suggest. "Thank goodness we're in different age groups!".
- Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 21:03:30 (EDT)
"So my luggage included a Mother's Day gift: a big chunk of wood with rusty nails sticking out of it!" Barry and Gayatri are amused by the description of a TSA inspection a few days ago, which approved for carry-on a cedar brace from my great-grandfather's ~120 year old barn in central Texas. The old square nails are authentic, and DW asked me to bring the historical artifact back for her.
Saturday's run begins with a chilly loop through the Rolllingwood neighborhood near Rock Creek, where stately mansions decorate the hills. Then Ken and Rebecca join us and we proceed down Beach Drive into DC, detouring to visit a 1792 Boundary Stone (NW9). Rebecca reports on a windy but beautiful Big Sur Marathon last month. She and Ken turn back at the old stone bridge; Barry wants a few more miles, so we continue downstream. He's suffering from pain in his right leg; Gayatri recommends against a spicy dinner before a long run; I feel a blister develop on a right foot toe. Big puddles remain from recent rain.
- Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 21:01:48 (EDT)
A thoughtful-wise commencement talk by Sheryl Sandberg for the UC Berkeley class of 2016, appeared recently in edited form as an essay in the Boston Globe. It's titled "Sheryl Sandberg graduation speech: It's the hard days that determine who you are". Sandberg's husband died, suddenly, last year. She reflects on three characteristics of grief:
Those principles are based on psychologist Martin Seligman's work on "Learned Optimism". Many of the thoughts resonate strongly with Buddhist/mindfulness principles. Sandberg's big conclusion is uplifting:
Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year's resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful.
(a transcript of Sandberg's address is at ; cf. Optimist Creed (1999-04-16), Thank Goodness (2002-12-25), Move On (2007-01-16), Solve the Problem (2007-05-24), How to Win Friends and Influence People (2008-05-17), Personal, Permanent, Pervasive (2009-04-27), Tough-Minded Optimists (2009-12-22), How to Be an Optimist (2011-08-24), Smile at Everyone (2013-02-15), Mantra - It's All Good (2015-01-09), Mental Toughness (2015-12-06), Power of Optimism (2016-02-23), ...)
- Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 19:04:31 (EDT)
"Red Fox!" Kristin spies a huge furry Vulpes vulpes dashing into the woods by Lewinsville Park. "Maybe that explains why we only saw two rabbits this morning?" Thus far the McLean unicorn count is zero, but we remain hopeful that if we keep looking we will catch one soon. Light drizzle keeps Kerry and Kristin and me cool as we meander through Southridge neighborhood streets, catching up on gossip and discussing Mother's Day plans. Perhaps a new puppy is in somebody's future - but it's being raised "raw" and there are tests to pass before the adoption will be approved. Fingers crossed!
- Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 14:08:42 (EDT)
Hill Country provides partial penance for a Krispy Kreme donut breakfast! Edwards Plateau limestone in northwest Austin is well-dissected into valleys that offer good climbs and steep descents. Local stream paths lead through Great Hills Park along Laurel Oaks Creek, then dead-end at the Floral Park trailhead. A local dog-walker doesn't know of any secret continuations downstream, so it's sidewalks for the rest of the loop, past big churches, gated apartment complexes, office buildings, and shopping centers. A streetside Little Free Library on Welcome Glen features children's books. Mist rises from the water hazard on the golf course.
- Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 14:06:58 (EDT)
An aphorism for infinitely patient mothers everywhere, invented independently during one early morning commute a fortnight ago:
| You can't spell|
- Friday, May 20, 2016 at 04:42:15 (EDT)
"WARNING: 8% Grade Next 1/2 Mile" The road sign features a picture of a truck careening downhill. Don't think about what that portends for the return trip! Nine deer munch a front lawn near the corner of Oak Knoll and Fireoak Drive. A few blocks later a herd of eleven look up from trimming the grass at another home. A jackrabbit scurries off the sidewalk. Then it's time to hike along the scary shoulder of Spicewood Springs Rd, where pelotons of bleary-eyed Monday morning commuters slalom along a narrow two-lane road with decaying bridges over Bull Creek. Poison ivy is the least worry!
- Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 05:49:14 (EDT)
Daunting padlocks and chains secure all gates to the track at Canyon Vista Middle School, so circle campus and meander amidst mansions in the nearby neighborhood. There's a reason for the school's name: hillwork! A waning crescent moon peeks between clouds. Northeast breezes make temps in the 60s and humidity of 80%+ relatively comfy. Inspired by friends (some completing the C&O Canal 100 miler this morning — go, John and Stephanie!) and pushing hard, mile splits = 10:06 + 8:37 + 10:45 + 9:35 + 9:17 + 8:40 + 7:51 with the final blitz aided by downhill Q-Ranch Rd.
- Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 05:45:28 (EDT)
On the back wall of the Tefa Cafe in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, USA:
... and the caption, attached to the telephone pole on the left side:
|The Global Refugee Mural|
by Joel Bergner (c) 2009
creative director Tom Block
This mural tells the stories of 3 refugees who live here in Maryland, who were interviewed for this project.
Georges, a former mayor of his city in eastern Congo (DRC), fled with his family when the war came to his region. Mai, from Myanmar (aka Burma), was unable to return to her country due to religious persecution by the government. Taameem, from southern Iraq, fled after her brother was murdered by local militia members and she was targeted as well.
Funded by the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County. Partnership with the International Rescue Committee's refugee resettlement center in Silver Spring. Special thanks to Kefa Café.
Artist & project info: (415)845-2699
(photographs taken in May 2016; cf. Joel Bergner in Wikipedia, "In bold brushstrokes, refugees tell their tales" in the Montgomery County Gazette, gallery of Joel Bergner murals, ...)
- Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 05:55:31 (EDT)
Visiting Aunt Froggie and Cousin James, with Mom and DS Merle: the Blinn College Buccaneers play a spring baseball game. The track around the football field is open, but one lap in the east central Texas sun is enough today. A two-car freight train pauses for a crewman to climb down, flip a switch, and watch while the engines reverse to drop off boxcars on a siding. Lizards scurry across the sidewalk and hide under rocks.
Important observation: jalapeño poppers are suboptimal for dinner and breakfast before a brisk run!
- Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 06:20:52 (EDT)
"Javelin, discus, shot put, long jump, high jump, pole vault, 110m hurdles, 100m, 400m, 1500m — doesn't sound impossible!" Dr Kristin patiently listens to havering about the decathlon, triggered by the recent discovery that the local Potomac Valley Track Club is holding one 11-12 June 2016. When Jim Thorpe won the first decathlon at the 1912 Olympic games, legend says that King Gustav V of Sweden told him, "You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world!" Thorpe's reply: "Thanks, King."
We meander through Pimmit Hills as intermittent light drizzle falls. Vertical stripe lights flicker blue-green/grue-bleen on the 7777 Route 7 office building. A gang of young men run around the library parking lot, then drop to the ground for sit-ups. Two tiny dogs yip and tug on their leashes; a cat crouches in the long grass and monitors our passage. Dr Kerry texts from the airport where she's awaiting a dawn flight. We transmit back our GPS coordinates.
- Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 06:16:31 (EDT)
Dave English's collection of thoughts about imperfection and mind and poetry and life is called "The Inner Art of Airmanship". It's a labor of love, a curated set of quotes in memory of a friend named Sam Hamilton. As English introduces the enterprise:
We learn from every pilot we fly with, every pilot we talk to. Sometimes we learn a lot. My life changed thanks to a quiet little flyer, an instructor who danced with clouds in the perpetual pursuit of piloting perfection. I'm Dave English; 17,000 hour airline pilot, writer and sometime aviation psychology researcher. The instructor was Sam Hamilton. He seems to have disappeared, but I'm compiling an exploration of two summers with the safety warrior who blended leading-edge neuropsychology with ancient wisdoms—to become one with the wing.
The quotes include Zen-like musings such as:
... "Remember the inner world is vast and filled with many games. We have one head, only six inches between the ears, but there is room for many processes. We must learn to still the monkey mind, let the conscious step aside so our hands and eyes and ears and hearts can fly. Build strong habit patterns, accept whatever may happen and take the right action. By standing aside, the conscious mind is now free to review the big picture, free to build situational awareness. Here too, for us to see things as they are, we must take off our judgmental glasses. Look with the eyes of a child, for pure awareness allows us to just observe and just report and just act. Mushin no-mind is remaining calm and at ease in any situation, while Zanzshin situational awareness is knowing your environment and what actions are possible."
And there's English's description of how his anthology of Sam's suggestions came to be:
He forced onto me his collection of quote cards. It was a huge cardboard box held together with safety wire and aluminum tape. Inside on 3 by 5 inch cards were hundreds of quotations, each with several little holes near the top where he would pin them onto the bulletin board over the sectional chart. Sam changed the worn cards on a seemingly random basis. On some of the backs were notes, references or lists of things to research. He said he had boxes of hand-written flash cards with limitations and memory items for all the airplanes he had ever flown, but the quotes and the Cessna 150 box were the only ones he kept at the airport. Sam knew I'd been copying the ones he pinned up onto my laptop computer, and now wanted me to have them all. I said I could not take these, he said had many more at home. Henry David Thoreau copied quotations by hand, ending up with five or six thousand pages of notes, so Sam said the box was of no great import, just a small peek into living a higher life.
... which is, perhaps, a description of what this ZhurnalyWiki attempts as well.
(cf. Great Peace of Mind (2011-02-20), ...)
- Monday, May 16, 2016 at 06:00:02 (EDT)
"Smith grabs a bat and hits a home run! Then he steals the basketball and it's a slam dunk!" We're on a Sunday ramble around Barry's extended 'hood. In Wheaton Regional Park we pass ballfields where a game is about to begin. Near the ponds at Dennis Avenue kids shoot hoops. "Walter Mitty!" says Barry. I ask a man in black at the baseball game what team he's on. "I'm the umpire!" he replies.
We analyze "Game of Thrones" dragons and Marathon Maniac qualifying events. Quadzilla, anyone? Sligo Creek side paths lead us to Blueridge Avenue, temptingly near a Taco Bell and a 7-11. "How many miles does a slice of pizza cancel out?" DS Merle answers my knock on the door of House Henderson but reports no ice cream in the freezer. Barry leads us past two little free libraries near his home, one of which has a miniature music box attached. I turn the crank and it plays, "If I Only Had a Brain". If only!
- Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 05:56:26 (EDT)
... good advice whenever things are tense and thoughtful action is needed — words from Masao Yoshida, chief manager at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, as told in the New York Times article "Videos Shed Light on Chaos at Fukushima as a Nuclear Crisis Unfolded". Shortly after the earthquake, tsunami, and explosion, Yoshida told his men, "I fear we are in acute danger. But let's calm down a little. Let's all take a deep breath. Inhale, exhale."
(cf. Try It for a Few Years (2009-05-19), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-10), Coming Back to Your Breath (2011-09-25), Inhale, Exhale (2012-08-12), ...)
- Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 20:55:14 (EDT)
"They don't believe in Christian miracles; we don't believe in Jewish miracles!" Jerry Epstein quotes somebody's distinction between Unitarianism and Reconstructionism. It brings to mind the Zen joke, "Are you not thinking what I'm not thinking?" — or maybe the Existentialist jest about asking for coffee without cream and, when the cafe is out of cream, settling for coffee without milk.
We're causing along Beach Dr, each faux-blaming the other for the happy-brisk pace. Humidity turns to drizzle, then rain. Mud from the 2016-04-09 - Bull Run Run 50 Miler washes off shoes. Gayatri and friends meet us just after we turn back near Peirce Mill, and Barry greets us at both start and finish at Candy Cane City. Jerry's knee does well; my left hip complains quietly. Mile splits by the GPS: 10:43 + 9:46 + 9:46 + 9:24 + 9:10 + 11:35 + 9:51 + 9:45 + 9:27 + 9:39 + 9:10 — yay!
- Friday, May 13, 2016 at 04:43:34 (EDT)
"It was only 20!" Drs K&K comment on how they felt after last Friday's trek. "Perfect!" is the payoff verdict from good pacing on the day, and gradual ramp-up of training mileage over the past year. Bravi!
This humid morning Kristin and I ramble around the West Langley 'hood, exploring dead-end streets, admiring new homes under construction and searching for potential cut-throughs to the Scotts Run trail. We add a lap on the mini-track behind the elementary school. Kerry joins us midway and leads us on a lovely new path through Churchill Road Park. Everyone has a long day of meetings ahead and a busy weekend, so we alternately commiserate and give thanks for the chance to run together. The full moon peeks through clouds as it sets, and rosy-fingered dawn greets us from the east.
- Friday, May 13, 2016 at 04:38:08 (EDT)
Historic images from the late 1970s and early-to-mid 1980s resurfaced recently, including unique Polaroid shots and prints from film cameras, of the Dickerson Zimmermann clan. An initial sampling:
|DW Paulette, in "classic" clothing from the 1970's ...|
|DW, solo and with me and my Mother (Minnie Merle Zimmermann) ...|
|^z and DW, in the latter image with an Appalachian dulcimer|
|DS Merle, with early Rubik's Cubes and phonograph records, and a family group including Robin, Merle, Paulette, and Gray|
- Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 05:18:52 (EDT)
"I can smell that fresh coffee brewing in my Mind's Nose!" We're stretching after laps at McLean HS track, where Beth joins Kristin and me as the rising sun casts long shadows. Passing the Safeway outbound we get the aroma of donuts cooking; returning it's more like pizza. Spring birds chirp loudly and a rabbit takes refuge under a parked car. Two young women run up and down the aluminum bleachers. Ten 400m speedwork intervals average ~1:50 each. A bald guy in a Navy shirt says "Hi Mark!" as he zips by.
- Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 04:22:55 (EDT)
"Rabbit!" Kristin spies the first coney of the day. A dog strains at its leash and tries to give chase, but to no avail. After a symbolic Dawn Patrol lap on the McLean HS track our feet take us along small streets to random-walk through sleepy neighborhoods. Gray houses in fifty different shades, all with white-trim windows, are a local fad. Cherry blossoms rain down when a hand brushes a low-hanging branch. After witnessing hundreds of awesome sunrises, one might think they would become boring. Never!
- Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 04:20:15 (EDT)
A delightful British idiom that aptly names a mindful non-goal goal:
| Be on|
... as in the Optimist Creed, "... to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind ... to think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best ... to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble."
... and as Guy Claxton describes one approach to it in The Heart of Buddhism:
... Buddhism helps people be at their best more of the time. All of us have periods when we are "on good form", in which these qualities are available to us. But we are also only too aware of the other times, when we are ratty and muddled, mean-spirited and intolerant. Buddhism expands and consolidates our better natures. ...
... and how? Well, that's a longer story — maybe it involves waking up, and letting go, and saying "Yes, and..." to oneself ...
(cf. Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), Mindfulness for Beginners (2013-07-18), 0-1 (2014-08-29), ...)
- Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 05:31:22 (EDT)
"Just say, 'Set the stress-energy tensor equal to the spacetime curvature, and you'll get the Einstein field equations'," I advise Amy and Liz, friends of Emaad training for the Frederick half-marathon coming soon. "You only need to learn two minutes of physics jargon — after that, people lose interest and stop listening." We're on the Little Falls Trail, diverting from the Capital Crescent to add a bit of mileage.
The morning begins as Rebecca, Gerald, and I give chase to Santa Steve, who took a head start. A big deer crosses the path near him. "Was that a reindeer? What color was its nose?"
Ken rejoins us and leads the gang ahead while Barry, whose hip is still twonky, jogs with me and reviews the current baseball season, Marathon Maniac regulations, and the movie "Everest". We catch up with Gayatri, Amy, and Liz who have reached their distance goal of the day and are walking. Everybody reunites in downtown Bethesda where we began.
- Monday, May 09, 2016 at 04:23:34 (EDT)
"No!" Kristin corrects me, and gestures toward the river, the land, the sky, "It's all special!" We're in the middle miles of a joyful run along the Potomac River and around the National Mall. She and Kerry humor my requests for photo pauses. After a coffee break in Union Station we divert past a lovely home where Kristin once lived. Hydrangeas and crab apple tree that she planted more than a decade ago are thriving.
"Did I forget to lock my car?" I ask at 0540, a few blocks into the journey. As the sun rises over the Potomac a rat scurries away at the Jefferson Memorial. The boardwalk near Teddy Roosevelt Island sways and squeaks underfoot. Yesterday during planning I ask everybody to keep expectations low and warn, "We may not see any unicorns this time."
Kerry replies, "Well, I'll be disappointed if we don't see at least two!"
Running past the Library of Congress we concur, this isn't good — it's perfect. And yes, the car is unlocked when we return. All's well. "Best Day Ever!"
- Monday, May 09, 2016 at 04:20:12 (EDT)
Tarot cards can be fun and artistic — and as a character in Samuel Delany's classic sf novel Nova says, they can also provide an out-of-the-box input to better thinking about a situation. "Osho", aka "Rajneesh" (1931-1990), was an Indian guru/philosopher, and a nontraditional tarot deck called the "Osho Zen Tarot" is associated with him.
The Osho cards are, however, rather different from the "classic" system. Various conversions and translations exist. From kathryn.mnsi.net, with links to descriptions and images:
|0||The Fool||The Fool||Water (Cups)||Clouds (Swords)||Fire (Wands)||Rainbows (Pentacles)|
|1||The Magician||Existence||Ace||Going with the Flow||Consciousness||The Source||Maturity|
|2||The High Priestess||Inner Voice||Two||Friendliness||Schizophrenia||Possibilities||Moment to Moment|
|4||The Emperor||Rebel||Four||Turning In||Postponement||Participation||The Miser|
|5||The Hierophant||No-Thingness||Five||Clinging to the Past||Comparison||Totality||The Outsider|
|6||The Lovers||The Lovers||Six||The Dream||The Burden||Success||Compromise|
|10||Wheel of Fortune||Change||Ten||Harmony||Rebirth||Suppression||We Are the World|
|12||The Hanged Man||New Vision||Knight||Understanding||Fighting||Intensity||Slowing Down|
|18||The Sun||Past Lives|
|21||The World||The Universe|
(cf. , , , , , ...)
- Saturday, May 07, 2016 at 19:49:15 (EDT)
"Chateau-ian? Chateau-ic?" Today's trek is a Dawn Patrol architectural tour; I'm groping for the right adjectival form to describe a sprawling mansion we've just admired. Kerry pauses to check the handouts under a for-sale sign, and I inadvertently dis the 'hood by guessing $2.5 million, low by ~20%. "Maybe it's on a big lot?" Across the street from Hickory Hill, the Kennedy estate, a fresh hole in the ground portends construction.
Kristin texts us as the sun rises and we share the lovely dawn virtually with her. Conversation ranges widely and includes the distinction between sandbagging and true modesty. I quote one of my (many) favorite scenes in Vernor Vinge's ur-cyberpunk novel True Names, when the Turing Police pull open a drawer in Mr Slippery's living room "... to reveal at least five hundred cubic centimeters of optical memory, neatly racked and threaded through to the next drawer which held correspondingly powerful CPUs. Even so, it was nothing compared to the gear he had buried under the house." Sometimes it's wise to keep a low profile!
- Friday, May 06, 2016 at 04:19:41 (EDT)
"So I canceled my 8am meeting today, which was to discuss my overloaded calendar of meetings!" Kerry reports, metacognitively. Kristin and I concur that schedule management is a Turing-complete challenge worthy of Strong AI. The Dawn Patrol ramble this morning explores two new cut-throughs between Route 7 buildings and the Pimmit Hills 'hood. We find 54 cents in dropped change on sidewalks, parking lots, and dead-end streets.
Drs K&K brainstorm work issues after suggesting ways to sanitize my Bull Run Run report for family audiences, possibly via Seinfeld allusions or L33t Speak. Two days post-BRR I'm largely recovered. But as we descend a stairway to Burnside Court, "Yesterday here, you would have heard my quads crying!".
- Friday, May 06, 2016 at 04:14:30 (EDT)
A thoughtful, tragic, beautiful article by N. R. Kleinfield, New York Times senior Metro reporter, appeared last week: "Fraying at the Edges", an extended profile of Alzheimer's victim Geri Taylor. Amidst the frustrations and fears as her mind goes, meta-paradoxically shrinking cognition brings expanding freedom, transcending of self — a Zen Buddhist-like escape from the "I" delusion:
... "Years ago, I definitely had more of an ego. Now I don't have an idea of myself. And so I have less of an ego. Frankly, I don't care what people think of me. I'm more in a survival mode, one foot in front of the other. Don't spill the coffee."
This idea that Alzheimer's swallowed up the ego was her own unproven postulate. "I don't know why this is," she said. "But I've tested it with a few other people with Alzheimer's, and they say the same thing. It's our dirty little secret."
So Ms. Taylor didn't care what people thought of her?
"I don't know if I totally don't care," she said. "But I'm as close to it as I ever thought I could be." ...
And in an accompanying piece ("Learn You Have Alzheimer's, Then Invite a Reporter to Tail You? Really?") Kleinfield told how the project began:
I needed someone introspective who could distill what was happening inside the brain. Ms. Taylor was ideal, both bright and reflective. She was not reluctant to talk generously about what the disease was doing to her. In fact, she enjoyed doing so. Her insights enabled me to comprehend the movement of Alzheimer's through her mind.
Alzheimer's is far from a cheerful illness. It eats at one's soul. When I began with Ms. Taylor some two years ago, I did not know what the journey would be like, only her prediction.
At the conclusion of that first meeting, when we agreed that we wanted to proceed, she wrapped up the conversation by looking at me with her gentle eyes, flashing her smile and saying, "Well, you better be prepared to have fun!"
Did we ever.
(cf. Coming to Our Senses (2009-01-01), Unselfing (2009-01-14), Contemplative Zombie (2009-08-04), Unselfing Again (2009-11-01), Anatman Living (2013-07-13), Clinging Is Optional (2013-08-21), It is Thou (2014-09-24), Fear of Failing (2015-07-08), Mantra - For Us (2015-11-28), I Want Happiness (2015-12-04), No Me (2016-01-18), ...)
- Wednesday, May 04, 2016 at 20:21:39 (EDT)
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
King Lear, Act III, Scene ii
|Sleet, hail, snow, thunder, mud, and wild winds: it's an ultra-beautiful day for a ramble in the woods!|
Along the way there are slips and falls but thankfully no game-enders. Early in the event, walking in reverse to chat with new trail friend Donald Halke II, my foot drops into a mud pit. Gayatri Datta scolds, "Mark, please look forward, not back!"
|The day starts before 5am at Gayatri's house. Kind comrade Ken Swab picks us up to carpool to Hemlock Overlook Regional Park where the BRR begins, ends, and returns at mile ~16 en route. Cold rain patters, then pauses. We snag our starter's swag, which this year includes an awesome camp chair and cool commemorative socks. Then it's time to take our traditional position at the derrière of the pack. At 0630 we commence running as dawn brightens behind thick clouds.|
Gayatri and I stick together, and Donald Halke introduces himself to us. As so often happens during ultramarathons soon we're fast friends. He tells of his work, family, health, plans, and past running experiences. The back of his shirt today reads:
Gayatri and I pause for Donald to take pictures of us. We admire the bluebell flowers that carpet the valley, and average a comfortable 16-17 min/mi pace. At mile ~4 when the hills steepen I trot ahead to reconnoiter.
|"Hail, Chief!" As icy pellets sprinkle the earth like white peppercorns I punnishly salute fast runners coming back from the northern turnaround of the BRR course. A rumble of thunder is followed by light snow. Then rain resumes.|
Approaching the Mile ~7 (Centreville) Aid Station, I hold out my bottle. "Please, sir, I want some more!" After inhaling cookies and a couple of salt capsules it's time to dash away, dash away, dash away all.
|Extreme weather this year plus recent injuries makes many runners go slower than planned. Ultra hero Tom Green is picking his way gingerly over rocks and roots. This is his 24th Bull Run Run; wisely he withdraws and ends his streak, rather than risk a bad fall.|
At mile ~12 I catch up with Dr Stephanie Fonda, still suffering from damage incurred two months ago when she raced a 100 miler in Texas (see 2016-02-07 - Rocky Raccoon 100 Sweeper). To cheer her and encourage her to continue I cajole, tease, joke, quote naughty bits from Shakespeare, and remind her of past runs of legend that we've completed together. When even bawdy bardish banter fails, I attempt a guilt-trip: "If you abandon me and I'm alone in the woods, when I fall down and the bears are chewing on my toes I'll whisper, 'If only Stephanie had stayed with me...' — and you'll feel so guilty!" She meta-ripostes, "But you will feel even more guilty about the guilt I will feel when I make you miss the cutoffs by being too slow!" OK, you win, Stephanie.
At mile ~15 we pause at the Cara Golias Graffiti Memorial under the railroad bridge for a dual-selfie. Then away I trek, climbing the steep slope back to Hemlock Overlook as briskly as possible.
|"Wait — you mean there's another 32 miles to go??" I feign disbelief when Robert Fabia takes my picture at Hemlock Overlook.|
Ken Swab arrives about 20 minutes ahead of me, half an hour behind his usual time at this point. He texts to check on my status; I reply hyper-optimistically (as always!). But, Ken writes in his BRR race report, maybe his heart just isn't in it today. Cold wet feet, slippery mud, and the prospect of even worse conditions in the mountainous southern 30+ miles of the trail conspire and persuade him to punch out.
I dash onward in hopes of making the next cutoff. It's now mile ~17, roughly 11am. In my haste to move out I forget to pick up the battery pack from my drop bag, needed to recharge my phone/GPS. Half a mile down trail I discover the error, and ponder going back. "No!" is the right answer.
|Pushing the pace cautiously, keeping energy in reserve, running the downhills with care to avoid a stumble — everything feels incredibly good, in spite of a couple of slip-slides in the mud. "It will turn out OK", as a good friend taught me long ago. All will be well.|
At the Wolf Run Shoals aid station I snag a strand of Mardi Gras beads to wear around my neck. The weather keeps improving, and trail conditions are better than expected.
Fountainhead is the first BRR cutoff, mile ~28, at 1:45pm. Zoom in on the watch in this picture: it reads 1:41:57 — more than 3 minutes to spare. Yay! Refuel, pop two more salt capsules, and get outta there!
|Onward, around the White Loop horse trail, then south and east. No time to pause for selfies now. Always-cheerful Adeline Ntam, miles ahead of me when we meet, gets gifted my bead necklace. You go, girl!|
Next cutoff at ~32 miles: ~4 minutes to spare. At the Do Loop aid station James Moore swears it's under 2.5 miles to Fountainhead. "Thank you, Sir!" I give him a big hug. "There's a chance!"
Winds gust to 30+ mi/hr. Leaves swirl and trees sway, creak, and groan as they threaten to fall and make new widows or widowers. None does.
|At Fountainhead, mile ~38, the clock says I'm ~6 minutes to the good. Don't blow it now!|
True Confession: at mile ~24 an impolite and overconfident thought surfaces: "This trail is my B17cH!" On the way back, after mile ~40, comes the realization: "I'm this trail's B17cH!" And there's no time to waste pondering that duality — the ultimate 13 hour cutoff still looms. Terrain in the final miles is rocky and steep. The GPS/phone battery dies.
And then, the finish line.
Result: 256th place of 258 finishers. Two women are behind me so I claim DFL male honors. Frank Probst, age 72, is just ahead and completes his 24th BRR — that's every single one.
Past times and race report links:
Next year? Who knows!
- Monday, May 02, 2016 at 20:28:52 (EDT)
| It Will|
... the faith that, ultimately and in the end, everything really will be all right — as it always has been, and as it always will be — and that, as a dear friend once pointed out, my stories always end with, "... and it turned out OK" — because it did!
(cf Karma (2009-07-15), Equanimity (2012-02-01), Mindfulness for Beginners (2013-07-18), Equanimity and Magnanimity (2015-02-19), This Is Equanimity (2015-03-15), Vastness, Equanimity, Selflessness (2015-06-04), Perfect Size for Letting Go (2015-09-14), ...)
- Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 00:08:01 (EDT)
"And it just keeps getting better!" Kerry and I pause to admire the glorious dawn. Rich indigo clouds frame flamingo-pink gaps. Then the phone chirps. It's Amber, sharing even more awesome photos of sunrise over the Potomac. "Kerry says 'Wow!'" I text back.
Then sudden and total disorientation, as subtly curving Ridge Road utterly confuses my sense of direction. I react in disbelief when Kerry points out the walkway into the woods, opposite to where it "should" be. Conversation meanders from puissance (high jump competition for horses) through category theory (duality and isomorphism) to social justice, corporate architecture, and how tragic it is when people become chronically bitter and negative. "If only a gentle nudge could help them return to balance!"
We give thanks for sharing a planet with Shakespeare and J. S. Bach. At St Luke's School we walk the Stations of the Cross pathway. Finishing, I'm tempted to add mileage but Kerry wisely counsels, "Save some for tomorrow!" Thank you, Dr K!
- Friday, April 29, 2016 at 05:53:26 (EDT)
"... a long list of the names of her pets, with 'DECEASED' after each one!" Kerry describes how her daughter is filling out forms to adopt a new dog. We concur that perhaps some editing, or at least contextual background, could be helpful in the application process.
Frost whitens the grass. We loop through the Evans Farm community (verdict: great architectural variety, but too few weather vanes) and then attack Pimmit Hills. Beth reports on Friday evening's 5k race in Crystal City. Kristin's new shoes and velcro band haven't yet cured a twingy knee. Contrails radiate from the rising sun.
- Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 05:22:21 (EDT)
More than 14 years ago in "Half-Remembered Worlds" (2002-02-18) I described two science-fiction stories stuck deep in my head that I couldn't properly identify. A few days ago, on the Stack Exchange sf Q&A board, I asked again — and one of the tales was immediately identified! In fact, somebody else had asked about it in 2011. The description:
... a surreal planet where, as one moves toward the poles, time flows faster, words get shorter, language becomes crisper — and at the northernmost zones a war rages forever, apparently in a mirror-reflection across a singularity ...
... and the answer: "Traveller's Rest", by David Masson, published in 1965 and anthologized the following year in a couple of collections. The full text of the story is online. It's still fascinating to read, though more amateurish than it seemed at the time. Rich Horton writes about the author in an online essay. Thank you!
- Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 04:18:31 (EDT)
"Let's run into the sunrise!" Kristin suggests, as the Dawn Patrol trots along Leesburg Pike toward a thin crescent moon low above the coral-peach horizon. So we abandon prior plans and continue eastward. And it just keeps getting better! We catch up on news (Kerry is back from visiting friends) and share the peaceful morning. In a back yard on Haycock Rd a black-and-white dog stands on hind legs and leaps to play with a dangling toy. Kids awaiting the school bus step aside for us to pass. A woman emerging from her apartment catches us laughing and smiles. "You're all having too much fun!" she says.
- Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 04:12:56 (EDT)
Learning a bit of mathematical Category Theory is by turns fun and frustrating — ideas transition from obvious to incomprehensible within a few pages. But a small clan of key principles, perhaps with wide application, already seems to be emerging from the fog. For now, with the acronym TRIBE:
(cf Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Simplicity via Abstraction (2016-01-07), Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), ...)
- Monday, April 25, 2016 at 04:20:07 (EDT)
"Superman wears Gary Knipling pajamas!" That's just one of the comments and stories shared online in an outpouring of love from fans of Gary, local ultrarunner who suffered a major stroke a few days ago and who is already home, recovering speedily. Gary's boundless enthusiasm and legendary kindness echo and help all of us be better. Thank you, Gary Knipling!
Today's temps are in the 40s, and north winds gusting 30+ mi/hr have blown most of the cherry blossoms off the trees in Wheaton Regional Park. A huge goose hunkers down, then waddles away to avoid being photographed. Pace-pushing (and luck at major road crossings) produces splits of 8:19 + 8:56 + 8:50 for the final miles. An attempt to stop the GPS at 9.99 slightly misses the mark.
- Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 09:11:30 (EDT)
|"Was that Meb Keflezighi?" I ask Dr Amber as we run across the 14th St Bridge into DC. Heading the opposite way are three fast runners, one of whom looks rather like the elite American Olympian, in town for tomorrow's Cherry Blossom 10 mile race. When we see the trio again a few miles later, cooldown-stretching at Graveley Point, Amber urges me to work up my courage and ask. They deny it, but I cling to the fantasy. "Maybe he's traveling incognito!"|
Raindrops wet our faces when we set out, zig along Four Mile Run, then zag to join the Mount Vernon Trail. We pause mid-course for selfies under the dome of the Jefferson Memorial. (Tom photo-bombs us). Amber goes slower than her usual pace, for which I thank her every mile. Tulips blossom at National Airport, so bright an alizarin-crimson that they look artificial. Post-trek the Alexandria farmers' market provides yoghurt, scones, and cookies.
- Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 17:03:36 (EDT)
"They can be the 'Dawn Patrol Irregulars'!" I suggest, alluding to junior affiliates of Sherlock Holmes, as Kristin and I ramble the roads of Southridge and encounter multiple other folks out on pre-sunrise spring jogs. Warm and humid weather is a gentle introduction to sultry summer conditions soon to come. We admire giant sunroom windows ("... and the neighbors must get quite a view too!"). Blossoms cascade down from the trees and speckle the streets.
- Friday, April 22, 2016 at 04:15:08 (EDT)
Chris Messina writes beautifully (if at times incoherently) in the essay "Seeking Genius in Negative Space" about looking at and thinking about negative space — the complement-inverse-dual that defines and surrounds every object. It's a concept in art and Zen (and everywhere else!). As Messina meanders through both he quotes John Keats, via the Brain Pickings short piece "The Art of 'Negative Capability': Keats on Embracing Uncertainty and Celebrating the Mysterious"). From a letter dated 1817-12-22:
... what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakspeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason ...
Messina's musings conclude with nine notions:
... nice thoughts on mindfulness and meta!
(cf GreatIdeas (1999-05-03), No Concepts At All (2001-02-22), DalaiLamaBirthdayGift (2004-08-24), Kenosis (2008-09-21), Poetry 180 (2009-09-30), Zen Soup (2012-02-09), O (2012-10-24), Notice and Return (2013-03-11), Space Between (2013-10-13), Countdown Breathing (2013-12-18), Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain (2014-01-18), Swiss Cheese (2014-07-04), Learning to Pause (2015-08-10), 0-1 (2014-08-29), ...)
- Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 05:46:09 (EDT)
"Good luck finding something safe to quote from this morning's conversation!" Dr Beth says. We're in the final quarter-mile of a trek rich in "frank and open" dialogue, to use a term from diplomacy-speak.
"Hmmmmm ... maybe I'll quote that statement!" replies Mr Meta. Frost decorates windshields of parked cars. A scrawny rabbit scampers away as we prepare to set out, eastern sky beginning to glow orange. Ice cubes are strewn across the sidewalk as a food service truck cleans out yesterday's bins in preparation for a fresh start.
- Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 04:10:27 (EDT)
The "Marathon Maniacs" are a fun group of long run fanatics that Barry Smith told me about recently. In order to apply for membership one must gather data on completed races of 26.2 miles or more — an effort that took me quite a while and perhaps should be preserved as a cross-index to some of the logbook-reports here. The current version, subject to correction:
|2016-04-09||Bull Run Run 50M||12:55||BRR #9: sleet, hail, snow, thunder, mud, wind!|
|2016-01-01||VHTRC Red Eye 50k||7:43||"Superforecasters tend to be good Bayesians!" - with Don, solo final third ...|
|2015-11-14||Stone Mill 50M||13:40||"Cheese burn — Ow!" - 45 minute early start, walk last ~20 miles of SM #4 ...|
|2015-11-08||Potomac Heritage 50k||10:07||PH #5, with Dr Kerry first third, Amy middle third, solo finish ...|
|2015-10-25||Marine Corps Marathon||6:21||"This day is call'd the feast of Crispian!" — MCM #5, first marathon for Drs Kerry & Kristin ...|
|2015-04-11||Bull Run Run 50M||12:08||BRR #8, recovery run after Umstead DNF a fortnight ago ...|
|2015-03-28||Umstead 50M||11:58||blisters on the way to 76 miles of the 100 — kudos to dear Dr Mary! ...|
|2015-01-01||VHTRC Red Eye 50k||7:44||selfies in the woods ...|
|2014-11-15||Stone Mill 50M||12:59||3am solo start for SM #3, finish in time for evening concert ...|
|2014-11-02||Potomac Heritage 50k||9:54||PH #4 ramble with Gayatri and new friends ...|
|2014-07-26||Catoctin 50k||9:11||"Breathe in, breathe out ..." ("Machinehead") — cutoff-chasing, 4 minutes to spare ...|
|2014-04-12||Bull Run Run 50M||12:25||BRR #8, "Mark! Whenever I see you, I know I'm having a bad day!" - Tom Green|
|2014-03-22||HAT Run 50k||7:38||HAT #6, return to the scene of my first ultramarathon ...|
|2014-03-08||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon||8:33||SCGT #9 — ice, mud, muck, and mire ...|
|2013-11-16||Stone Mill 50M||11:40||SM #2 happy trek chasing Marshall & Stephanie|
|2013-10-27||Fire on the Mountain 50k||8:14||beautiful western Maryland woods with Stephanie|
|2013-07-27||Catoctin 50k||8:35||CAT #3, close-up of a Timber Rattlesnake! ...|
|2013-04-13||Bull Run Run 50M||12:29||BRR #6, comfy ramble with Stephanie ...|
|2013-03-02||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k||8:58||SCGT #8, DFL with Stephanie ...|
|2013-02-17||George Washington Birthday Marathon||4:14||3rd place 60-69 males — cold and windy GWBM #8 ...|
|2012-11-17||Stone Mill 50M||13:30||SM #1, Stephanie's first ultra ...|
|2012-10-28||Marine Corps Marathon||5:29||MCM #4, with injured Stephanie|
|2012-03-04||B&A Marathon||3:59||join the sub-4 club! ...|
|2012-02-19||George Washington Birthday Marathon||4:21||CM goes sub-4-hours, GWBM #7 ...|
|2011-07-30||Catoctin 50k||9:04||CAT #2, sultry-hot weather, squeaking under cutoffs all day ...|
|2011-04-09||Bull Run Run 50M||11:56||"Well, that was rather bracing!" — surprise baptism at a water crossing, BRR #5 ...|
|2011-03-05||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k||7:02||SCGT #7, good result after illness & injury ...|
|2010-11-27||Northern Central Trail Marathon||4:16||cramps and other excuses ...|
|2010-11-07||Potomac Heritage 50k||7:14||PH #3, solo fun in the woods ...|
|2010-10-09||Andiamo 45M||8:41||beware eating dried pineapple during an ultra!|
|2010-07-10||Skyline Challenge 50k||9:24||Kate and a big black bear in the West Virginia hills ...|
|2010-04-10||Bull Run Run 50M||11:23||BRR #4, with Kate ...|
|2010-03-06||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k||7:36||SCGT #6, cheery trek in the snowy woods ...|
|2009-11-28||Northern Central Trail Marathon||4:02||24 minutes off the marathon PR!|
|2009-11-01||Potomac Heritage 50k||7:45||PH #2, floodwater fun ...|
|2009-10-25||Marine Corps Marathon||4:26||MCM #3, PB for me, PW for Kate ...|
|2009-10-10||Andiamo 45M||7:56||pushing hard, an hour faster than last year!|
|2009-08-01||Catoctin 50k||7:53||earn first Cat Card! ...|
|2009-04-18||Bull Run Run 50M||11:40||BRR #3, with Kate, 45 minute improvement in BRR time ...|
|2009-03-07||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k||6:51||SCGT #5, longer course, but I'm ~10 lbs lighter than last year ...|
|2009-02-15||George Washington Birthday Marathon||4:31||GWBM #6, CM's first marathon!|
|2008-10-02||Andiamo 45M||8:57||the full length of the W&OD Trail!|
|2008-04-12||Bull Run Run 50M||12:51||BRR #2, hot day, partway with Caren ...|
|2008-03-29||HAT Run 50k||7:46||HAT #5, new course, with Caren ...|
|2008-03-01||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k||6:56||SCGT #4, poor pacing, big bonk ...|
|2008-02-17||George Washington Birthday Marathon||4:44||GWBM #5, nice day ...|
|2008-01-01||VHTRC Red Eye 50k||7:54||ramble in the woods ...|
|2007-10-27||Potomac Heritage 50k||8:27||PH #1 fun, multiple falls, minor blood ...|
|2007-04-14||Bull Run Run 50M||12:26||first BRR!|
|2007-03-24||HAT Run 50k||7:57||HAT #4, sole-sucking muck - and meet Dr Mary!|
|2007-03-03||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon||7:39||SCGT #3, ultra-icy and ultra-muddy ...|
|2007-02-18||George Washington Birthday Marathon||5:05||GWBM #4, "brisk" winds!|
|2006-11-18||JFK 50 Miler||11:26||first and last JFK ...|
|2006-10-01||Wineglass Marathon||5:00||in New York with Ken ...|
|2006-03-25||HAT Run 50k||7:34||HAT #3, Ruth's first ultra!|
|2006-03-04||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon||7:21||SCGM #2, Caren's first trail "marathon" (28+ miles)|
|2006-02-19||George Washington Birthday Marathon||5:00||GWBM #3, mostly with Ruth, starting temps in the teens ...|
|2005-11-13||Rock Creek Park Marathon||5:13||first long race post torn toe tendon ...|
|2005-03-19||HAT Run 50k||7:13||HAT #2, with Amanda on her first ultra ...|
|2005-03-05||Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon||6:51||SCGT #1 - meet Rayna, who shares salt & saves me!|
|2005-02-20||George Washington Birthday Marathon||4:50||GWBM #2, happy laps ...|
|2004-10-31||Marine Corps Marathon||5:29||MCM #2, oppressive humidity and record high temps ...|
|2004-10-02||Tussey Mountainback 50M||12:58||first 50M, mostly with Steve, cramps and course-slow record DFL!|
|2004-03-27||HAT Run 50k||7:34||HAT #1 — superb first ultra!|
|2004-02-22||George Washington Birthday Marathon||5:12||GWBM #1, meet and get lapped by fast Morgan ...|
|2003-11-09||Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks||5:04||steady solo run...|
|2002-11-17||Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks||4:56||cramping and poor pacing ...|
|2002-10-27||Marine Corps Marathon||4:53||first marathon, with brother Keith!|
(cf Medallic Memories (2004-08-22), Running2006Analysis (2006-01-27), Year of Running - 2009 (2010-01-08), Year of Running - 2009 - Further Observations (2010-02-01), Road Running Records (2012-04-16), Running Relationships to Analyze (2014-09-30), Ultrarunning Result Analysis (2014-12-02), ...)
- Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 04:28:47 (EDT)
"Thank you!" I tell Kristin as we ramble in the rain. "For a morning when I seriously thought about calling in sick, this is the best day ever!" Yesterday's dizziness (BPPV) is mostly gone, and as the sun rises we discover a new playground cut-through ("Tysons Pimmit Park"), find a quarter on the pavement, slip but don't fall down on muddy sidewalks, climb a few steep hills, and manage to achieve soggy double-digit mileage while staying mostly within the Pimmit Hills neighborhood and not repeating too many streets. Kitschy lawn art and dozens of wind chimes decorate a yard near the corner of Cherri Drive and Leonard Road. It's trash day and we chase a garbage truck for a few blocks. "What will we do if we catch it?"
- Monday, April 18, 2016 at 04:09:19 (EDT)
is to be
... as Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests in Mindfulness for Beginners and in Coming to Our Senses:
The Buddha taught for forty-five years. He is said to have said that all of his teachings could be encapsulated in one sentence. If that is so, perhaps we might want to remember what it was, even if we don't necessarily understand it all at first. Imagine forty-five years of profound teaching distilled into one sentence: "Nothing is to be clung to as 'I,' 'me,' or 'mine.'"
(cf. Cling to Nothing (2011-01-29), Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), 01 (2013-11-05), 0-1 (2014-08-29), Nothing But Faith in Nothing (2014-09-07), ...)
- Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 09:23:07 (EDT)
"Please Do Not Climb Trees!" say roadside signs in the cherry-blossom-rich Kenwood area of Bethesda. Sam, Jerry, and Barry have varying degrees of knee or hip injury at the moment, so relatively-healthy Gayatri, Rebecca, Ken, and I escort them in various combinations to walk/run a mile down the Capital Crescent Trail, then meander under branches heavy with pink flowers. Cars cruise slowly, pausing for photographs. Meticulously trimmed lawns lead the eye to modest mansions with stone facades. One house features a sculpture that Gayatri identifies as a dhoti-clad Gandhi.
Back in downtown Bethesda we pick up Dr Kerry at 9am (her daughter is taking school exams nearby). Further hillwork accompanied by sakura viewing ensues. According to Wikipedia, there are more than a thousand cherry blossom trees in Kenwood. Kids selling lemonade for $2+ per cup have not yet set up for business, however, when we leave the neighborhood and continue down the CCT, then return. Kerry, Rebecca, and I do a final trot eastward to add more distance and reach Rebecca's 18+ goal. (The GPS inadvertently pauses and misses 2+ miles.)
- Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 14:14:13 (EDT)
"Rabbit crossing!" Kristin spies the Easter bunny-in-training ahead of us on a dark street. A few miles later, "Deer crossing!" for a small herd of big does making their way across Dead Run to visit the local garden buffet. The morning is warm and humid. We divert past Kerry's place to check for March Madness party detritus. (None seen, thank goodness!) Today's top-trending NY Times article "13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married" lists "5 love languages", of which I can only name a subset (canonical answers: affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch — cf. Nano Languages). Car headlights flash as drivers emerge from their houses and remote-unlock. Fingers crossed that the Dawn Patrol make it into the Marine Corps Marathon this year — yesterday we all entered the lottery!
- Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 14:11:04 (EDT)
"Raise your hand if you're a Frequentist!" Nathan tells of a Bayesian professor at the University of Washington who asks for a Day One vote by his students and taunts those who answer "incorrectly". Kristin leads the Dawn Patrol as it discovers massive holes in the Evans Farm gated community security perimeter. A construction project gets us back via Mayflower Drive and Pathfinder Lane. We analyze Seattle graffiti ("$500 reward" scrawled in chalk on a mailbox next to a shakily-drawn quadruped) and politics (voting by mail, with rational argumentation on ballots). Beth joins us for Wednesday laps at the McLean High School track (five 400m intervals at 1:44 + 1:43 + 1:41 + 1:40 + 1:40) during a beautiful pink-salmon sunrise.
- Friday, April 15, 2016 at 04:16:09 (EDT)
"Nothing can stop us!" Kristin cheerfully quotes a children's book that she has read aloud far too many times in recent years. It's also the perfect sentiment on a beautiful brisk morning. A sleek red fox trots across Westmoreland St just in front of us. Stiff breezes make us say "Brrrrr!" whenever we run northwest. Quiet stretching fills the hot yoga studio picture window, and although the main water fountain on the W&OD Trail near Route 7 is turned off, the dog-water tap on the side works. Pink-lined clouds decorate the sunrise.
- Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 05:32:08 (EDT)
Chapter 7 ("What to Do with Your Mind") of Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana muses on some phenomena that often come along with "following the breath" as a tool for calming and observing one's mind:
... Do not be discouraged if you find your own will getting in the way. Just use that as an opportunity to observe the nature of conscious intention. Watch the delicate interrelation between the breath, the impulse to control the breath, and the impulse to cease controlling the breath. You may find it frustrating for a while, but it is highly profitable as a learning experience, and it is a passing phase. Eventually, the breathing process will move along under its own steam, and you will feel no impulse to manipulate it. At this point you will have learned a major lesson about your own compulsive need to control the universe.
Breathing, which seems so mundane and uninteresting at first glance, is actually an enormously complex and fascinating procedure. It is full of delicate variations, if you look. There is inhalation and exhalation, long breath and short breath, deep breath, shallow breath, smooth breath, and ragged breath. These categories combine with one another in subtle and intricate ways. Observe the breath closely. Really study it. You find enormous variations and a constant cycle of repeated patterns. It is like a symphony. Don't observe just the bare outline of the breath. There is more to see here than just an in-breath and an out-breath. Every breath has a beginning, middle, and end. Every inhalation goes through a process of birth, growth, and death, and every exhalation does the same. The depth and speed of your breathing changes according to your emotional state, the thought that flows through your mind, and the sounds you hear. Study these phenomena. You will find them fascinating. ...
... the music of the moment — not to be intellectualized or analyzed or controlled ... but to be experienced and embraced and lived within — simply the Now.
(cf. Try It for a Few Years (2009-05-19), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-20), Breath and Awareness (2011-03-12), Calm Technique (2011-05-07), Look at Each Second (2015-11-17), ...)
- Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 04:43:50 (EDT)
"This is not Wise!" I observe. Rebecca interprets it as a judgment, but what I'm trying to say is that the street we've stopped at isn't Wise Road NW, but rather Bingham Drive. We take the Western Ridge Trail in Rock Creek Park, then come back along the Valley Trail. A big white horse wearing plastic ankle-skirts pauses at a stream crossing. "She's afraid of slipping in the mud!" says the lady leading her.
It's a dog day, with lots of cute pups and their owners out on strolls through the woods. Rebecca and I do ~3 miles on the Rock Creek Trail before meeting up with Rebecca's friend Win for ~7 together on muddy natural-surface paths. Win, appropriately named, is a children's chess instructor, gardener, and enthusiastically voluble companion.
- Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 05:55:46 (EDT)
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