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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 = 0.9919 ... 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 ... RSS



2016-01-31 - Snowy Sunday Vienna Venture

~9.4 miles @ ~12.5 min/mi

"Do you need me to come pick you up?" It's total role-reversal: last night Kerry is at a friend's birthday party; her daughter, with newly-minted driver's license, texts to check. Later when Kerry gets home she discovers DD fallen asleep on the couch, waiting up for the prodigal Mom's return. And so the wheel turns ...

On Saturday morning, "Anybody feel like a run tomorrow?" Kristin texts. Assuming she's confused about the date I reply with Monday plans — but no, she really wants to do a Sunday expedition! The W&OD Trail is ice-clad and the Vienna Community Center parking lot is snowed in, so we rendezvous at Whole Foods and random-walk along neighborhood streets, doubling back from culs-de-sac and stepping into driveways to let cars pass. Impressive mansions line the roads, with faux-Victorian turrets, towers, dormers, cornices, and gables.. Afterwards Kristin confesses to running on no sleep and being tempted to eat snow for hydration.

(trackfile)

- Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 05:23:10 (EST)


Mantra - Relentless Forward Progress

An ultrarunning motto that applies everywhere:

Relentless
Forward
Progress

... no matter how bad the current situation is, don't give up — walk a mile, take a nap, eat a snack — things will get better!

... and if not today, then learn something (if only "No Goals!") and try again another day!

(cf. Move On (2007-01-16), Solve the Problem (2007-05-24), Tough-Minded Optimists (2009-12-22), ...)

- Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 04:39:21 (EST)


2016-01-30 - CCT with DKR

~15.0 miles @ ~12.4 min/mi

"Ice up!" The Capital Crescent Trail south from Bethesda is amazingly snow-free, but melt-and-refreeze makes for dangerous footing in a few patches. Don, Ken, and Rebecca maintain nonstop banter about flaws in Social Security law, medieval history, cosplay, decades-old issues of "Playboy" magazine featuring an interview with Donald Trump and images of the women of Enron, a questionnaire that candidates for elected office in the local running club must fill out, droll British comedy shows, false memories, and more, including the observation "Pandas are tasty!"

Streets seem safer than sidewalks, though it's necessary to step into shoveled driveways or lean back toward high snowbanks when cars must pass on narrower segments. At dawn contrails from high-flying jets streak the sky next to the gibbous moon. Training groups of local runners do out-and-back mileage on the CCT, exchanging greetings and hugs. Temperatures rise from the low 20's to above freezing.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, February 09, 2016 at 07:21:17 (EST)


Learning vs Performing

Among the tiny epiphanies from volunteering to work overnight at an ultramarathon aid station:

  1. Some people really are different than others — there's a huge range of personal abilities in any topic (and one's own abilities change over time)
  2. Everybody can strive to improve, to learn, to maximize their potential

That latter is the "Growth Mindset" that Carol Dweck's work on "self-theories" emphasized, and that features prominently in Phil Tetlock and Dan Gardner's recent book Superforecasting among the "Characteristics of Superforecasters". Adapted from various sources including their work:

Learning Orientation Performing Orientation
Belief that effort leads to success Belief that ability leads to success
Trust in one's potential to improve and to learn Concern about being judged as able and performing well
Preference for challenging tasks Preference for doing better than others or succeeding with little effort
Satisfaction from personal success at difficult tasks Satisfaction from interpersonal comparison and public evaluation
Problem-solving and self-instruction when task is difficult Helplessness and self-criticism when task is difficult

(cf. Self-Standardization (2002-04-06), Hardest Possible (2003-03-02), ...)

- Monday, February 08, 2016 at 08:51:10 (EST)


2016-01-22 - Cookie Dough Blizzard Mission

~15.4 miles @ ~13.2 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Northwest_Branch_Trail_pre-blizzard_2016-01-22.jpg"No time for pleasantries ... we have a Level 5 Emergency!" Yes, the snowstorm of the millennium looms, and we're completely out of chocolate chip cookie dough. Although ancient legend holds that alchemists once knew how to concoct such amalgams from mysterious substances — e.g., "flour", "sugar", "salt", "toll house morsels" — such art, if ever it existed, has long been lost.

Hence, today's quest. The route meanders past Wheaton Library (where a book on hold must be picked up) and House Henderson (where mail for Robin and Merle must be dropped off). In Wheaton Regional Park the only other souls seen, if beasts have souls, are six big does and a buck. They startle, stare, and sprint away through the brush. On Arcola Trail a wrong turn adds a half mile. Northwest Branch is beautiful, the stream already half frozen. Snow flurries begin at 1:13pm.

Emerging from the woods onto a US Route 29 traffic jam, Trader Joe's has just closed. Safeway is open but lines are far too long. Sidewalks are slick, not from ice but from pellets of ice-melt chemicals spread thickly. Fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars line Forest Glen Rd where something burnt and is now safely extinguished.

Finally — success! Snider's Supermarket has the Holy Grail. Now let the storm strike. "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!" With four pounds of cookie dough in the refrigerator, all's well in the world.

(trackfile)

- Saturday, February 06, 2016 at 06:18:56 (EST)


Snow Country

Yasunari Kawabata's novel Snow Country (in the translation by Edward Seidensticker) was written in the 1930s-1940s and was praised by the Nobel Prize committee when Kawabata received the Literature award in 1968. It's a quiet, moody story of a doomed love affair between a young geisha and an older man visiting a small mountain village in northern Japan during a few winter months. Not much happens. The language and images are beautiful, even rendered into English. Halfway through Part One:

It was a stern night landscape. The sound of the freezing of snow over the land seemed to roar deep into the earth. There was no moon. The stars, almost too many of them to be true, came forward so brightly that it was as if they were falling with the swiftness of the void. As the stars came nearer, the sky retreated deeper and deeper into the night color. The layers of the Border Range, indistinguishable from one another, cast their heaviness at the skirt of the starry sky in a blackness grave and somber enough to communicate their mass. The whole of the night scene came together in a clear, tranquil harmony.

The central character Komako's face is described near the end of Part One as she performs a song:

The high, thin nose was usually a little lonely, a little sad, but today, with the healthy, vital flush on her cheeks, it was rather whispering: I am here too. The smooth lips seemed to reflect back a dancing light even when they were drawn into a tight bud; and when for a moment they were stretched wide, as the singing demanded, they were quick to contract again into that engaging little bud. Their charm was exactly like the charm of her body itself. Her eyes, moist and shining, made her look like a very young girl. She wore no powder, and the polish of the city geisha had over it a layer of mountain color. Her skin, suggesting the newness of a freshly peeled onion or perhaps a lily bulb, was flushed faintly, even to the throat. More than anything, it was clean.

At the beginning of Part Two, an observation, this time by Shimamura, the male viewpoint character:

The windows were still screened from the summer. A moth so still that it might have been glued there clung to one of the screens. Its feelers stood out like delicate wool, the color of cedar bark, and its wings, the length of a woman's finger, were a pale, almost diaphanous green. The ranges of mountains beyond were already autumn-red in the evening sun. That one spot of pale green struck him as oddly like the color of death. The fore and after winds overlapped to make a deeper green, and the wings fluttered like thin pieces of paper in the autumn wind.

And near the end of the story, more sky:

The Milky Way. Shimamura too looked up, and he felt himself floating into the Milky Way. Its radiance was so near that it seemed to take him up into it. Was this the bright vastness the poet Basho saw when he wrote of the Milky Way arched over a stormy sea? The Milky Way came down just over there, to wrap the night earth in its naked embrace. There was a terrible voluptuousness about it. Shimamura fancied that his own small shadow was being cast up against it from the earth. Each individual star stood out from the rest, and even the particles of silver dust in the luminous clouds could be picked out, so clear was the night. The limitless depth of the Milky Way pulled his gaze up into it.

Love, and loss, in meticulous detail ...

- Friday, February 05, 2016 at 09:27:33 (EST)


2016-01-18 - DC Boundary Stone Tour

~10.6 miles @ ~12.2 min/mi

"Rose, from Norway!" the cheerful young woman introduces herself. "I like it cold!" Temps are rising from teens into the low 20's, with brisk north winds that make it a good day to test breathing through a "neck gaiter" covering nose and mouth. Rose is just beginning her morning run near the northernmost point of the District of Columbia, and follows me as we meander around her apartment complex, seeking an unlocked gate through the fence. I tell her about the DC boundary stones, markers placed during 1791-1792 when the Federal City was first being surveyed.

Today I'm on my way home, taking selfies every mile at a boundary stone as I run along Western Avenue, starting near River Road where DD drops me on her way to teach a violin student. But the yellow-blazed Pinehurst Branch Trail lures me off the sidewalk, and I follow its natural-surface path downstream to Rock Creek Park. On the way, "Hello-o-o-o-o-o-o!" says a lady walking her dalmatian, startled to see anybody else out in the woods. A light dusting of snow on a gray-brown log is all that remains of yesterday's flurries. Waters are low and half a dozen stream crossings are easy. Trees groan and sway against each other as breezes blow. What a wonderful day!

(trackfile)

- Thursday, February 04, 2016 at 08:51:37 (EST)


Taxonomy of Con

Teresa Nielson in her 2002 "The underlying forms of fraud" lists seven varieties of Confidence Game:

  1. Simple misrepresentation.
  2. Using high-pressure tactics to confuse or intimidate the victim.
  3. Shell games, sleights of hand, and switch-and-retraction cons: the pigeon drop, the Jamaican switch, Three-Card Monte, etc.
  4. The Spanish Prisoner
  5. Ponzi Schemes
  6. Pyramid schemes
  7. Selling information about, or access to, uncommon opportunities

Wikipedia's current "List of confidence tricks" article has a more ornate schema:

  1. Get-rich-quick schemes
    1. Salting
    2. Spanish Prisoner
  2. Persuasion tricks
    1. Grandparent scam
    2. Romance scam
    3. Fortune-telling fraud
  3. Gold brick scams
    1. Pig in a poke (cat in a bag)
    2. Thai gems
    3. White-van speakers
    4. Iraqi Dinar
  4. Extortion or false-injury tricks
    1. Badger game
    2. Bogus dry-cleaning bill scam
    3. Clip joint
    4. Coin-matching game
    5. Fraudulent collection agencies
    6. Bogus or fraudulent law firms
    7. Insurance fraud
  5. Gambling tricks
    1. Fiddle game
    2. Glim-dropper
    3. Lottery fraud by proxy
    4. Three-card Monte
  6. Spurious qualifications or endorsements
    1. Diploma mill
    2. Vanity publications and awards
    3. Who's Who scam
    4. World Luxury Association
  7. Online scams
    1. Fake antivirus
    2. Phishing
    3. Fake support call
  8. Other confidence tricks and scams
    1. Art student
    2. Big Store
    3. Change raising
    4. Fake casting agent scam
    5. Fraudulent directory solicitations
    6. Jam Auction
    7. Money exchange
    8. Mystery shopping
    9. Pigeon drop
    10. Predatory journals
    11. Promotional cheque
    12. Psychic surgery
    13. Rain making
    14. Recovery room
    15. Rental scams
    16. Rip deal
    17. Unsolicited goods
    18. Wedding planner scam
    19. Blessing scam
    20. Pay up or be arrested scam
    21. Dropped Wallet scam

... not as well-organized or structured as it might be, and all (not including simple cheats) essentially variants on the same thing: a wonderful opportunity, secret or otherwise unavailable to others, to make a huge profit on a small investment.

(cf. Techniques of Financial Fraud (2015-05-02), ...)

- Wednesday, February 03, 2016 at 04:44:33 (EST)


2016-01-17 - 5k Race with Amber

~3.1 miles @ ~8.0 min/mi

"Too bad the snow didn't start sooner!" Flurries commence during our cooldown walk after this morning's brisk "Celebrate Community - ALIVE!" 5k race. It's a calibration experiment for Dr Amber, who claims not to have trained but who nonetheless keeps up with me for a slightly sub-8 min/mi overall pace. Flashing red/blue strobes on police cars (protecting the course) contrast with leaden skies. A doppelgänger for colleague Dr Beth fools me during the race but turns out not to be her upon closer inspection afterwards. Both Amber and I finish in 2nd Place for our respective age/gender cadres. Faster next time!

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, February 02, 2016 at 05:21:58 (EST)


Perfectness versus Goodness

A friend's young son (DS) relays great wisdom from his elementary school teacher about the proper level of attention, about keeping self-criticism under control: "It's about perfectness and goodness. It doesn't have to be perfect. It has to be good." Executive guru David Allen likewise counsels in [1]: "We've got to learn to declare things done. Especially when they're not. Not completed, that is, to the level of perfection or result that we initially visualized or committed to."

"Good" is good. And part of good is timeliness, efficiency, and balance — mental peace about outcomes that could have been different, but at a cost that would have damaged other things more.

(cf. SelfReliance (1999-06-16), WickedWork (1999-09-08), SolublesInsolubles (2000-07-15), Pursuit of Happiness (2008-11-19), It's About Choices (2009-04-21), Iterative Delivery (2014-05-10), ...)

- Monday, February 01, 2016 at 04:27:23 (EST)


2016-01-15 - All In

~10.8 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"I'm in!" That's what a good friend instantly replies when you propose something audacious. Kerry and Kristin are thinking about the Rock & Roll DC Marathon in March. They could survive it now, but perhaps putting a long run or two into the logbooks would enhance confidence and comfort. "Doing anything Monday?" — "Nope, I'm in!" — "Me too!" That's why we run together!

Near Idlywood Rd two rabbits dash away from Kristin's flashlight beam. A mile later a pair of deer bound across the path in front of us. A luminous chiaroscuro sunrise begins with pink pastels shading into azure above the horizon. The W&OD Trail bridge over Route 7 passes near a hot yoga studio picture window. "They seem quite, uh, ...," I pause to select the right word, "limber!" K&K laugh.

Everybody feels great this morning so we extend the run to a Starbucks where Kerry shares iced coffee. A few minutes later friend LaNedra texts, "Did I just see you running on Broad St?" Apparently the long gray beard is rather recognizable!

(trackfile)

- Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 05:52:44 (EST)


Mantra - Yes, and...

  Yes,
And ...

As Keith Johnstone says in Impro:

There are people who prefer to say 'Yes', and there are people who prefer to say 'No'. Those who say 'Yes' are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say 'No' are rewarded by the safety they attain. There are far more 'No' sayers than 'Yes' sayers, ...

So just say, "Yes, and..." ...

(cf. Yes, and... (2012-11-14), Mantra - I'm In (2015-10-12), ...)

- Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 05:58:03 (EST)


2016-01-11 - David Bowie Smiles

~4.0 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"Co-enablers in cold craziness!" Peer pressure combined with early morning meetings and stiff northerly breezes plus temps in the upper 20s make for a short Dawn Patrol ramble. Before lips go totally numb we catch up on weekend family news and mourn the passing of David Bowie. Kerry mentions the film The Linguini Incident in which he stars; her college roommate was involved in producing it. Other performances are saluted: The Prestige, Labyrinth, and Into the Night. Icy patches alternate with muddy puddles. A meteor streaks overhead — perhaps a late Quadrantid, perhaps Sir David checking that we're ok.

From the song "Let's Dance":

If you say run, I'll run with you!

(trackfile)

- Friday, January 29, 2016 at 04:32:53 (EST)


How to Explain Anything

Develop a mental model of what the listener:

Then look for the intersection of those three sets!

(cf. One Transcend Suffices (2009-10-14), Principles of Better Teaching (2012-09-14), ...)

- Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 05:18:13 (EST)


2016-01-10 - Sligo Creek Night Run with Amy

~12.4 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"Is the green fur his hair, or a hat?" I ask Amy as we pass a young fellow in Wheaton Regional Park. "You may be a bit too old for that look," she suggests gently. As the sun sets we ready our flashlights. A cold front has just passed through the area, bringing ten minutes of torrential rain that delays our start. (Amy saw a double rainbow earlier as the squall line came by her home.) Winds gust and temps drop from the upper 50s into mid 40s.

We proceed upstream along Sligo Creek Trail from near Colesville Road. Conversation is thoughtful and inspirational. I learn a new word, "spectrumy". (Yes, it reminds me of Category Theory - but so does everything nowadays!) And we muse: "Why do people give so much praise to somebody just for doing what any really good friend should do?" - "Well, maybe not so many people are really good friends nowadays?"

DS Merle greets us at mile 5 and offers a can of "Surge" brand soda water for rehydration (accepted) and a Rubik's Cube for entertainment (declined, with thanks). The carbonated drink leads to a result Amy anticipated, and she counts my belches. Total at journey's end: twenty-one!

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 04:21:22 (EST)


2016-01-10 - Rock Creek and Chinese Food with Mary

~4.9 miles @ ~17.5 min/mi

"This feels great!" Mary observes as we experiment with speed-walking backwards up the hills along the Western Ridge Trail in northern Rock Creek Park. Her left knee has been troublesome since a New Year's Eve race. Today we test a velcro band and compare natural-surface with paved road. "Cute-sicle" dogs cavort on- and off-leash. Cyclists zoom along Beach Drive. Temps are in the upper 50s and morning drizzle has left scattered puddles and muddy patches. Our post-trek reward: egg fu yung and broccoli-eggplant in garlic sauce at the nearby Chinese restaurant!

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 04:15:12 (EST)


Mantra - Be Like a Log

Be Like a Log

... in times of conflict and stress, try to bite your tongue, pause before replying, observe your emotional state, and de-escalate — you will feel better, the battle will be briefer, and maybe it will turn out not to be a battle at all, just a brief ripple on the surface of the ocean that soon returns to calm awareness ...

(highlighted by a friend when reading Emotional States (2012-04-26); perhaps the phrase alludes to Shantideva Chapter 5 in the Bodhisattvacaryavatara; cf. Space Between (2013-10-15), Betwixt (2015-07-04), Moving from Experiences to Experiencing (2015-08-06), Learning to Pause (2015-08-10), Mantra - Gap (2015-11-11), ...)

- Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 07:34:18 (EST)


2016-01-09 - KenGar and Ken and Rebecca

~7.1 miles @ ~10.2 min/mi

"So I'm a water molecule," says Ken. "I always thought so!" interjects Rebecca. We're in the midst of discussing thermodynamics, two miles into a brisk trot along Rock Creek Trail, and the Ken-^z improv act is at full throttle. Conversation random-walks from a Shakespearean episode of the Twilight Zone through general relativity, Edward Gibbon, category theory, and into accountant jokes. Light drizzle falls, with temps in the low 40s. We dance around puddles and pause to cross busy Randolph Road. Ken spies a pair of soggy gloves by the path and snags them for me on the way back.

At Ken-Gar parking is already tight at 0745. The DC Road Runners Club is setting up for a race that starts just as we return. Climbing a long hill known as "The Silencer" I pause to catch my breath before explaining the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. "Have I lectured on this already?" Rebecca's answer is kind but ambiguous: "I always enjoy hearing your lectures again!" Hmmmmmm ...

(trackfile)

- Monday, January 25, 2016 at 08:03:42 (EST)


2016-01-08 - Tysons Trip

~7.3 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"Curb!" Kristin warns, for the fifth time. She's being kindly cautious after I take a near-epic stumble and make a skin-of-the-teeth recovery in a close encounter with a dark median-divider on Lisle Avenue whilst running ahead to avoid inadvertently overhearing management-talk between Drs K&K. We conjure technical solutions. Curb-feelers? Proximity warning sensors on shoes? Stabilization gyroscopes? Runner airbags? "Maybe I could develop a bat-like echolocation sense." Better still: pay attention!

A neon "7777" sign on Route 7 glows fiery crimson in the mist. We loop through Tysons Corner, admiring lights and reminiscing. Kerry recounts her daughter's feats of memory from infancy. I recite bits of the Optimist Creed. Kristin's feet feel fleet. She pulls Kerry and me up the hills along Lewinsville Rd as a foggy dawn begins.

(trackfile)

- Monday, January 25, 2016 at 08:00:56 (EST)


Living Mindfully

Singularly flat: the new book Living Mindfully: at Home, at Work, and in the World feels oddly dispassionate, and not in a deliberately-mindful way. The language, with few exceptions, is polysyllabic declarative. Poetry is scant; metaphors are few. (And typos, at least in the first several chapters, are distracting: "breath" for "breathe" on pages 8, 24, 34; "chaffing" for "chafing" on page 12, etc.) The author, Deborah Schoeberlein David, takes center stage and intrudes as First Person in describing how she escaped an unsatisfactory childhood, encountered Buddhism, struggled with depression, met with various teachers including the obligatory Tibetan lama, and eventually arrived at the mindful place she is today. As do the authors of so many books of this genre.

And when a chapter titled "Mindful Sex" takes itself super-seriously, something may be missing from the agenda!

Nevertheless there's great good here, presented in a calm and workmanlike way. Starting from the beginning, Living Mindfully leads baby-step-wise through a gentle progression of practices. First suggestion, "Take one Mindful Breath":

Brilliant, simple, and worthwhile. Likewise in the next chapter, "Pause":

Author David explores attention versus awareness, and proceeds to explain mindfulness meditation via following multiple breaths, without and with counting ... and then the focus fades. Lectures ensue on mindfulness and thinking, feeling, listening, and sensing — but without obvious conclusion. Likewise lovingkindness is discussed, directed toward oneself and others, in relationships and at work and toward one's children. All good enough, all presented with gentleness and tolerance ... and flat. Where's the joy of now?

And maybe that's ok ... now happens elsewhere.

(cf. Try It for a Few Years (2009-05-19), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-20), Breath and Awareness (2011-03-12), Just Sitting (2011-05-21), Coming Back to Your Breath (2011-09-25), Notice and Return (2013-03-11), Mindfulness for Beginners (2013-07-18), Beginning Mindfulness (2013-09-22), Pause and Breathe (2014-07-25), ...)

- Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 07:54:52 (EST)


2016-01-06 - Frigid Pimmit Hills

~3.0 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"You caught me!" Kristin arrives to find me foraging for leftover cookies in the kitchen area near her office. Kerry meets us at the loading dock and, with temps in the upper teens, we concur on a short neighborhood loop. Lips are soon too numb to talk much; Kristin reconfigures her hood into a ski mask; Kerry offers to share handwarmers. Low in the east the waning crescent moon, in line with Venus and Saturn, brings to mind long-ago Texas observations of far-southern Omega Centauri, the largest globular cluster in our galaxy. Post-run in the locker room, as I stoop to turn off red-green shoe lights, water drips onto hands from thawing icicles in the beard. Brrrrrr!

(trackfile)

- Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 07:57:21 (EST)


2016-01-04 - Happy New Year, McLean

~9.4 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"We'll run by your place and join you there!" Kristin and I suggest to Kerry, whose alarm didn't go off this morning in time for her to meet us at 0545. We catch up on holiday news and wish each other a Happy 2016. Xmas front-yard lights glitter and a few lonely snowflakes fall. It's within a day or so of the latest sunrise (which happens later than the winter solstice because of the earth's orbital ellipticity).

(trackfile)

- Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 07:55:15 (EST)


Heart of Meditation

Lovely metaphors, in the essay "The Heart of Meditation" by Lama Surya Das:

Meditation, simply defined, is a way of being aware. It is the happy marriage of doing and being. It lifts the fog of our ordinary lives to reveal what is hidden; it loosens the knot of self-centeredness and opens the heart; it moves us beyond mere concepts to allow for a direct experience of reality. Meditation embodies the way of awakening: both the path and its fruition. From one point of view, it is the means to awakening; from another, it is awakening itself.

Meditation masters teach us how to be precisely present and focused on this one breath, the only breath; this moment, the only moment. Whether we're aware of it or not, we are quite naturally present to this moment—where else could we be? Meditation is simply a way of knowing this.

...

Like the archer straightening his arrow and perfecting his aim, the practitioner of meditation straightens out the mind while aiming his or her attentional energy at its object. Learning to drop what we're doing, however momentarily, and to genuinely pay attention in the present moment, without attachment or bias, helps us become clear, just as a snow globe becomes clear when we stop shaking it and its flakes settle.

(from the collection Commit to Sit of articles from "Tricycle" magazine; cf. Contemplative Zombie (2009-08-04), Without Effort, Analysis, or Expectation (2010-08-04), Quiet in There (2011-05-31), Ceaseless Society (2012-05-10), Notice and Return (2013-03-11), Mindfulness for Beginners (2013-07-18), ...)

- Friday, January 22, 2016 at 20:29:38 (EST)


2016-01-03 - Derwood with CM

~2.8 miles @ ~15.4 min/mi

"My phone is on the kitchen table — in Saint Augustine, Florida!" says Cara Marie, whose early flight back this morning from a family holiday visit left a few things behind. And yes, all's well! Her husband George and I shake hands and wish each other a happy 2016. CM and I walk and jog a loop around the neighborhood, sharing cheerful news and plans for training and racing in months to come. Fingers crossed: no injuries!

(trackfile)

- Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 04:18:04 (EST)


2016-01-03 - Towpath with Mary

~5.4 miles @ ~14.2 min/mi

"Quantum mechanics: we're running but only when you're not observing us!" Mary Ewell and I tell Bob Yarchoan and his wife, who pass us during our warmup and cooldown walks. Mary's schedule has her running four miles, so for variety we head upstream from Lock 8 on the C&O Canal towpath. A bald eagle (or excellent eagle-impersonating vulture) soars over our heads. We catch up on family news, commiserate about bad pre-run dietary habits, and compare sins of overindulgence from the recent holidays. Bob offers a mini-lecture on how to optimize Boston Marathon qualifying. And he compliments me, "You've got a fast look-alike with the same name!" In my dreams, maybe ...

(trackfile)

- Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 04:16:38 (EST)


Mantra - The Method of No Method

The Method
        of
No Method

"... no going anywhere, nothing to practice, no beginning, middle, or end, no attainment, and nothing to attain ..." — just being awake to what is ...

(cf. No Method (2010-01-21), Mantra - No Goals (2015-07-26), ...)

- Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 05:27:43 (EST)


2016-01-02 - Neighborhood Tempo Run

~4.6 miles @ ~9.7 min/mi

Chili, chips, hummus: not the best breakfast before a dash around the 'hood! Mini-moped idles on its kickstand by the sidewalk, rear wheel slowly turning. Perambulators are out in force along Sligo Creek, babies singing to themselves as parents talk to each other. A sub-10 pace blows a bit of dust out of the pipes after yesterday's ~15 min/mi at the 2016-01-01 - VHTRC RedEye 50k.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 04:44:02 (EST)


No Me

In Chapter 2 ("What Meditation Is") of Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, a stirring call to self-questioning:

Vipassana meditation is a set of training procedures that gradually open us to this new view of reality as it truly is. Along with this new reality goes a new view of the most central aspect of reality: "me". A close inspection reveals that we have done the same thing to "me" that we have done to all other perceptions. We have taken a flowing vortex of thought, feeling, and sensation and we have solidified that into a mental construct. Then we have stuck a label onto it, "me". Forever after, we treat it as if it were a static and enduring entity. We view it as a thing separate from all other things. We pinch ourselves off from the rest of that process of eternal change that is the universe, and then we grieve over how lonely we feel. We ignore our inherent connectedness to all other beings and decide that "I" have to get more for "me"; then we marvel at how greedy and insensitive human beings are. And on it goes. Every evil deed, every example of heartlessness in the world, stems directly from this false sense of "me" as distinct from everything else.

If you explode the illusion of that one concept, your whole universe changes. ...

(cf. Unselfing (2009-01-14), Unselfing Again (2009-11-01), I Q's (2012-04-28), Mindfulness in Plain English (2015-11-01), I Want Happiness (2015-12-04), ...)

- Monday, January 18, 2016 at 06:48:45 (EST)



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