^zhurnaly 0.83

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Howdy, pilgrim! No ads — you're in volume 0.83 of 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 = 0.82 ... 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

2010-05-15 - Half Massanutten Mountain Trails

~53.6 miles @ ~19.5 min/mi

A week ago Kate Abbott and I push the edges of our envelopes and get more than halfway through the 2010 MMT hundred mile race before withdrawing after almost 17.5 hours on the trail. We achieve one of our goals, a sub-20 minute/mile average pace over some incredibly tough-lovely terrain. We don't finish, and that's OK. It's a painful, joyous experience. No regrets!

See Massanutten Mountain Trails 2010 for Kate's report on the journey. Herewith a few snapshots that I brought back, focusing on some of the wonderful people we met along the way. Kudos meanwhile to all the race organizers, volunteers, families, friends, and fellow runners involved in MMT 2010.

Caren Jew

It's Caren's fault! After I melt down during the Chocolate Bunny training run I'm perched on a ledge about to jump—or rather, drop my name from the MMT waiting list. Night running is too hard. Massanutten is too rocky. I'm too weak, too slow. Comrade Kate is correct in her estimate of our chances of finishing MMT together: slim to nil.

Far too true—but as dear friend Caren gently advises in my moment of despair:

I just think you should at least give it a shot. There is no shame in a DNF. That is one tough course. Plus I think you're better than you give yourself credit for. And you're tough too.

Maybe your spouses have taken out extra insurance!

Cheerful thoughts! So thanks to Caren I stay on the MMT waiting list, and a few days before the deadline enough other registrants drop so I get in. Kate remains in the race likewise, though she still thinks we have at best only 1 chance in 10 of finishing. Ragingly optimistic Mr. Pollyanna, aka me, gives us 1:5 odds. I point out that Kate did well at the JFK and BRR 50 milers. She finished 52.5 miles in 11 hours at another event a week later. So why not roll the dice for a 100?

In response, Kate mercilessly reminds me that when we initially signed up I neglected to mention that MMT is ranked the toughest 100 miler east of the Rockies, among the 10 hardest in the US. But as Barkley Marathons veteran Ed Furtaw observes, it's good to seek one's limits, measure oneself against the impossible. And in fact, MMT this year turns out much like the Catoctin 50k 2008 race that Caren and I DNF'd together. We are better than we think we are. Thank you, Caren!

Carolyn Gernand

"I want Kate's escalator shoes—I've only got stair shoes!" groans veteran trail runner Carolyn Gernand at mile 41 as we climb the steep slope toward Veach Gap. Kate is power-walking the rocks ahead of us, arms pumping, hips swinging. All day Carolyn has been playing leapfrog with Kate and me along the trail. She catches us and passes on level and downhill segments. We catch and pass her during the climbs.

Like Kate and me, Carolyn is slower than most runners doing MMT today. Unlike Kate and me, Carolyn has finished The Ring and several other audacious trail runs. See 2009-09-05 - One Third of The Ring for Kate's and my attempted Ring last year; Carolyn passed us when we dropped at mile 25. Carolyn has huge stamina and a huger sense of humor. She also has a deep well of experience on the trails.

Today, Carolyn gives us impromptu nature lessons at several places along MMT course. She identifies squaw root, mountain laurel, flowering milkweed, flat green mosses with sprout-like blooms, and a host of other plants. We marvel at butterflies together, and jointly curse the gnats and stinging insects. Carolyn also provides background on notable features such as the dramatic overlook and hang-glider launching point near Woodstock Tower, mile 19.

A few miles after Powells Fort the MMT route leaves the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail and follows the blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail as it switchbacks over a steep ridge. Kate blasts ahead and as we approach the crest I leave Carolyn behind in an effort to catch up. When I get to the top I plunge onward without looking about. I think I'm following the trail, but strangely enough there aren't any blazes. I'm lost!

After some minutes of blundering along the rocks I get scared, give up, and backtrack. As I return I suddenly see Carolyn vanishing over the hilltop in front of me. I scamper along to catch her, and find that if I had only turned my head I would have seen the yellow ribbons marking the correct course.

Carolyn and I speed-hike down the trail, but Kate is still nowhere to be seen. After a mile or so Carolyn tells me that a runnable section is coming up, so I race ahead and half a mile later spy Kate. At the Elizabeth Furnace aid station, mile 32.6, Carolyn cruises in as Kate and I prepare to leave.

The last time we see Carolyn during the race is near mile 47, where the course leaves the Massanutten Trail to zigzag down the steep Indian Grave Trail. The sun is setting behind the mountain range. Carolyn vanishes into the gloom ahead of us, dancing down the rocks.

On Sunday morning Kate and I are driving down Crisman Hollow Rd at 7am to pick up our drop bags from the Visitor Center aid station (mile 77.1). As we approach the Gap Creek aid station who's walking up the dirt road toward us? A tired but still chipper Carolyn Gernand! She's missed the 5:25am cutoff and can't find a ride to the start/finish area. So after running through the night and reaching mile 68.7 she decides to walk another five miles to Caroline Furnace. She's awesome!

The back of the MINI Cooper is full of Kate's and my gear, so Kate leaps out and gives up her seat. As I drive back to the start Kate visits with volunteers at the aid station. She applauds runners looping through, mile 95.4 on their return to the finish. Meanwhile Carolyn calls us "angels" and answers my questions about blister prevention (recommendation: tape hotspots early) and how the race went for her. I make Carolyn promise to run trails with me in the future. What a lady!

Stan Duobinis

"Stan! Stan!" I shout at the receding figure on Friday evening. It's almost 9pm, and Kate and I have just arrived at the Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp, the start/finish area. Unlike many race participants, we work today and hit the highway as rush-hour traffic begins to recede. A major thunderstorm en route further slows our progress.

Stan Duobinis is the MMT race director, and even though it's late he cheerfully returns to issue us our race packets with t-shirt, water bottle, and numbered bib. His wife, Margie Schlundt, has reserved our quarters: a bunk bed in a cabin for Kate near the starting line, and for cheapskate me a cot in a sukkah, a screened hut half a mile up the road. Both Stan and Margie are ultra-helpful. Stan entertains us with his commentary on the history of the race—he's one of the few to have been at all 16 years of it.

Stan discusses course conditions, the reasons for choosing the new starting area, the tough hot-humid weather last year, Margie's post-retirement career in medical student training, and the true story of how he became MMT race director. That last anecdote involves a beer party at VHTRC founder Anstr Davidson's home and an offer that the prior race director claims not to remember when sober.

I retire to my sukkah to try to catch a few hours of sleep. There's nobody else in the building, so I get my pick among the dozen cots. Half an hour later Bill Sublett comes in and inadvertently wakes me. We met at the 2008-01-01 - Red Eye 50k, of which he was the founding father. I quote what I think is his rule for finishing a 100 miler, "You just have to not quit", but he disavows responsibility for the aphorism. (It turns out I was mistaken; another Red Eye 2008 runner, Lou Jones, told me that.) Bill and I fall asleep, but half an hour later I wake again as Anstr Davidson arrives at the sukkah. He apologizes and after a brief chat I close my eyes.

Revenge comes when at 3am Saturday morning my alarms go off. Bill and Anstr roll over. I gather up sleeping bag and pillow, then hike back down the half mile to leave the gear in my car parked by Kate's cabin. Indefatigable RD Stan is already bustling about, making coffee, setting out pre-race munchies. I help where I can, chug a Dr. Pepper, and nibble donut holes while Stan recounts more race tales. Margie appears and after another half hour other runners materialize, first in a trickle, then a flood. Kate and I find each other and get ready to rumble.

About 11:30pm that evening Kate and I are back, thanks to a ride from helpful volunteers who pick us up at the Habron Gap aid station. Stan is waiting at the finish line. Nobody has come through yet, but he's patient. Kate takes a long hot shower and retires to her cabin. I shower, chat some more with Stan, and nap in my car. At 1:25am the winner crosses the line. I'm slumbering. Stan is there.

Caroline Williams

Last year in a fit of Massanutten Mountain Midnight Madness Kate and I meet Caroline Williams at mile 48 of the 2009 MMT. Between 7:30pm and 2:30am Kate runs 17 miles with Caroline, through a violent thunderstorm, down flooded creek beds, over slippery rocks, and up precipitous mountain sides. Alas, Caroline misses the cutoff at mile 65 so I don't get a chance to pace her for the rest of the night. But I fearlessly predict that Caroline will succeed in her MMT quest another year.

In 2010 that prediction comes true: in an incredible feat of toughness (and with incredibly tough feet) Caroline crosses the finish line with less than 2 minutes to spare before the ultimate cutoff. Total time: 35:58:39. How does she do it? I can only quote from the movie Fight Club, "I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more."

Caroline gives us hugs before the race starts at 5am. She goes out fast and by the time Kate and I drop at Habron Gap she's almost 90 minutes in front of us. As we drive down Crisman Hollow Rd toward the Visitor Center, after giving Carolyn Gernand a ride back to the start from Gap Creek, we spy a pair of runners trotting along the road ahead where the course joins our route. It's Caroline and her pacer! Kate and I roll down the windows to shriek cheers of encouragement. We drive on to the aid station to tell her crew, inestimable ex-husband Walker Williams, to get ready for her. At 8:05am she's there.

Odds seem long against Caroline's success, but we still have hope. "MMT Live" updates during the afternoon first indicate that she drops several miles later. Kate and I are sad—until the final report corrects the mistake and tells the tale of her last-minute finish. Brava!

A week later Kate has Caroline over to a family dinner. I'm invited to eat out about once every decade, but by sheer Dickensian coincidence I'm already booked at another friend's that very same night. So I make abject apologies, leave the other party early, get lost in Arlington, find the freeway, speed through the rain, and fortunately see Caroline at Kate's lovely home late Saturday evening. I admire her MMT finisher's buckle, praise the scars on her legs, interrogate her gently about the experience, and extract her promise to run with me again soon. Amazingly Caroline is almost recovered already. She ran 17 miles earlier that day.

Caroline tells how delighted she was to see us drive by her during the race. Her most vivid memory of that moment: Kate's beautiful skin, glowing radiant like a 20-year-old's. "Of course, you looked good too!" she tells me.

Carl Camp

"At MMT, if you think you're not going fast enough, slow down!" Kate advises me during the first mile of the race. She learns the rule from Carl Camp at the Hampton 24 hour run last month. Carl is a delightful gentleman whom Kate and I saw at several points during our attempt at The Ring last year. That day Carl is coincidentally crewing for both Caroline Williams and Carolyn Gernand. At Camp Roosevelt, mile 25, he commiserates with us when we drop. Caroline is through that location 45 minutes earlier; Carolyn comes past 20 minutes later. When we fail to rise to her challenge to continue, she treks onward. Carl then kindly gives Kate and me a ride back to our starting point at Elizabeth Furnace.

During MMT 2010 Carl runs ahead of us from the start of the race. But he doesn't feel good in the heat of the day and has to start spending more time in aid stations recovering, so by Veach Gap (mile 40.7) we're within 10 minutes of him. On the ridge a few miles later Kate and I catch up with Carl, just before a majorly scary "billy goat" part of the the Massanutten Trail. (It's the section described in 2009-01-04 - Massanutten Mountain Mayhem that Caren and I did in the opposite direction.) At this point my lower back is starting to ache, perhaps due to the weight of my hydration backpack, perhaps due to my leaning away from the cliff edge from frantic fear of falling.

Carl has drunk all his water but refuses to take any from Kate or me. "You might need it!" he says, and trudges along making cheery small talk. We come upon a couple of suffering runners who are complaining loudly about their ordeals. I'm reminded of the lines in the movie Kelly's Heroes by Donald Sutherland's ur-hippie character Oddball: "Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" We hasten out of earshot.

Carl and Kate trot on ahead of me. Soon Carolyn catches up and passes too. Besides a backache and a tendency to list to the right, I'm starting to feel dizziness, intermittent weakness in the left leg, and an increasing number of blisters. Hopes of making it the whole distance, always a long shot, begin to crumble. Now the focus is on staying upright, catching Kate, and making it safely to the next aid station. I scramble down the rocks, having to actually sit at one point to lower myself in a steep spot. Kate materializes in the gloom and I learn that Carl and Carolyn have rushed down the hillside. We don't see them again—they're 10 minutes gone by the time we reach the next aid station. Later we learn that Carl makes it to Camp Roosevelt (mile 63.1) but becomes increasingly ill, misses the cutoff, and has to drop at 3:20am.

Mark McKennett

Powerful Mark McKenett's story has a happier conclusion. He's already finished one 100 miler, Grindstone, and is attacking MMT with confidence. We greet him at the start and admire his hair, which has been shaved into the letters MMT 100. Marks blasts out, and at Habron Gap is almost 3 hours in front of us. He survives the night, presses onward through the next day, and finishes in under 35.5 hours.

Mark has a Grindstone 100 tattoo on one calf. He tells me that he's not planning to get a separate MMT tat, but perhaps will add a silhouette of the VHTRC mascot bear, "Furbutt", below the Grindstone emblem. I see Mark at the MCRRC Thursday evening run and he looks strong and happy. We discuss future ultra plans. Bravo, Sir!

Kate Abbott

There's no way I can thank Kate enough for her constant and cheerful companionship, even in the toughest of circumstances. So instead, I must scold her! During MMT Kate fails to tell me how close to her edge that she's going, how much she's suffering, and how little she enjoys the final miles of our journey. Bad Kate! Next time, please let me know sooner, eh? Pushing the envelope is fine, but trail buddies have to share everything, good and bad, up and down. Otherwise, we might make a Very Bad Decision and get into Real Trouble.

But in fairness, Kate tells me that she doesn't fully realize how rough things are getting until the next day when, she says, "Everything hurts except my hair." OK, I'll forgive you—this time.

"I've just gotten my 17th wind!" Kate tells Carl Camp and me as we stumble along the trail near mile 45. At MMT Kate experiences more bad patches than in any prior ultra. Fortunately the bad patches are short, 5-10 minutes each. In between she's relentlessly joyful, relentlessly brisk in zipping through the aid stations, and relentlessly determined in attacking the hills. I salute her, relentlessly.

For my part of the social contract, I try not to contribute too much to Kate's woes. When she declines my offer at the start of the race to lecture on quantum mechanics I bite my tongue. When she threatens to pull out her MP3 player and crank up the volume to block out my blatering, I smile at her. When we're hiking along the road to the final aid station and I stop every quarter mile to gape upward at the stars, I accept the snub as Kate trudges on. Kate does in turn listen to my explanation of the Earthshine we observe on the setting Moon's dark side. (Yep, the Mr. Know-It-All personality emerges as the sun sets!) But when we see the glow of the roadsigns in our flashlight beams, Kate for unknown reasons spurns my offer to explain the optics of retroreflection. She also inexplicably asks me not to sing "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" whenever I see a plastic yellow trail marker hanging down from a branch along our course.

And seriously, I apologize for not realizing the extent of Kate's blisters and other race-related stresses. I don't know that she thinks she sees a bear as she leads our twilight scramble down Indian Grave Trail. And I take full blame for snookering her into the final 3.9 mile deathmarch down the dirt road from the penultimate aid station to Habron Gap. Yes, it does get us to 52.7% of the way to the finish line. Yes, it does lower the cost of the race to under $3 per mile. Yes, it does move us up 7 notches in the DNF list. And honestly, I thought it would be easier to get a ride back to Caroline Furnace from there. Sorry that we have to wait for 90 minutes, wrapped in blankets, shivering as mosquitoes feast on my bald pate. But it's noble of us to stick together and not take advantage of the cars that have room for only one rider. "Leave no one behind!" remains our mantra.

The next day at McDonald's in New Market I'm struck by how similar Kate's and my blister patterns are, in size and location, as Kate takes off her sandals to exhibit yesterday's handiwork. I'm sure the other people eating breakfast don't mind.

Next Steps

Future plans for Team Alpha-Omega? Hard to say right now. Kate firmly disavows all desire to revisit the Massanutten Trail, whether for some hypothetical Ring or MMT or other adventure. I'm less certain.

But I must confess that somebody has lured me into registering for the Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 mile night run this coming August. Wonder who did that?

Data Dump

Based on unofficial times that I recorded during the MMT 2010 race, this table lists the distance between aid stations, cumulative race distance, cutoff times, Kate's and my pace on that segment, and our overall average pace to that point. See [1] for a course map and elevation profile.

Aid Station Dist.
Cutoff Split Time Clock Pace
Caroline Furnace 0005:00 AM 00:0000:0005:00 AM --
Moreland Gap 3.63.606:15 AM 00:5400:5405:54 AM 15.015.0
Edinburg Gap 8.111.709:35 AM 02:3903:3308:33 AM 19.618.2
Woodstock Tower 8.219.912:55 PM 02:4406:1711:17 AM 20.018.9
Powells Fort 5.225.102:50 PM 01:4007:5712:57 PM 19.219.0
Elizabeth Furnace 7.532.605:20 PM 02:2110:1803:18 PM 18.819.0
Shawl Gap Parking 537.607:00 PM 01:3711:5504:55 PM 19.419.0
Veach Gap Parking 3.140.707:55 PM 00:5712:5205:52 PM 18.419.0
Indian Grave Trailhead 949.7none 03:1516:0709:07 PM 21.719.5
Habron Gap Parking 3.953.612:05 AM 01:1717:2410:24 PM 19.719.5

(cf. Between, Big Stick, MMT from A to Z, Massanutten Mountain Midnight Madness, More MMT 2009 Notes, Massanutten Mountain Trails 2010, 2008-01-20 - Massanutten Mountain South Training Run, 2009-01-04 - Massanutten Mountain Mayhem, 2009-09-05 - One Third of The Ring, 2010-01-15 - Massanutten Trail over Short Mountain, 2010-04-03 - Chocolate Bunny...)

- Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 20:12:43 (EDT)

Metro Chat

Another reason to take public transportation: on Friday afternoon, as I sit on the subway working on The Onion crossword puzzle, a young gentleman sits down beside me and tentatively asks if I'm a trail runner. Apparently he remembers my ugly mug from a zhurnaly.com photo several years ago, and that (plus my VHTRC backpack that features the Bull Run Run) gives him courage.

The conversation then turns into a verbal tennis volley that lasts for 20+ minutes and includes:

... plus a host of other fun topics. Fortunately for me our train arrives at the Forest Glen station and I have to bolt for the door before the shallowness of my knowledge becomes too apparent. Tnx, Noah!

- Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 04:18:52 (EDT)

2010-05-09 - Seneca Creek Greenway Trail

~4 miles @ ~14 min/mi

Cloud banks piled high like mountains of meringue block the rising sun. I leave home at 0510 in hopes of beating ever-early Caren Jew to the parking lot on Rt 28. She says we'll meet at 0600, but when I arrive ~0545 she's already there—as expected! We start running south at 0550. Brush grows thick alongside the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail. It's chilly, temps in the 40s, so we both don windbreakers. After a mile we're warmed up enough to take the jackets off. We walk the hills, and I tread carefully over roots to avoid a fall. At the 2 mile point by my GPS, just after a half-mile marker post, we turn back. Happy Mother's Day, Caren!

- Friday, May 21, 2010 at 05:28:13 (EDT)

Exotic Artifacts

Two antique objects that intrigue me:

http://zhurnaly.com/images/beard_token.jpgBeard Token: When Tsar Peter the Great (1682-1725) decided to modernize Russia he ordered men to remove their beards or pay an annual tax of 50 rubles. Those who chose not to shave but to pay were given "beard tokens" as receipts. I've seen one in the Smithsonian's National Numismatic Collection. Nice examples sell for a few thousand dollars. (image courtesy Smithsonian Institution)
Monocle: Since I'm nearsighted in only one eye, it seems a waste to wear glasses. Most monocles for sale are costume-jewelry, but it would be fun to wear a functional one with a lens that would properly correct my vision. Occasionally monocles show up at thrift stores, presumably when somebody dies and their estate is donated. (image courtesy Wikipedia)http://zhurnaly.com/images/monocle.jpg

- Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 20:05:04 (EDT)

Big Stick

In Chapter 30 ("Barkley Philosophy") of Tales from Out There author "Frozen" Ed Furtaw describes what the Barkley means to him:

Since most runners finish most ultramarathons they start, they are using a measuring stick that is smaller than they are. But the Barkley is the biggest measuring stick known to running. To me that's intriguing, knowing I can't possibly finish those particularly hard 100 miles in 60 hours. But, I do know I can go there and run until I can't run anymore. Run myself out before I run out of race. To know I can attempt a challenge I can't conquer. Not everybody likes confronting their own limits and failing. Some people hate the Barkley because of that. But some people, like me, go back again and again.

The Massanutten Mountain Trails is a Big Stick too. By many standards MMT is among the 10 toughest races in the US. It's likely the hardest 100 mile run east of the Rockies (excluding the Barkley). A few days ago comrade Kate Abbott and I measured ourselves on it. We enjoyed 17.5 hours of Massanutten before DNF'ing at mile 53.6, Habron Gap. At times along the way it wasn't much fun. But it was good to do, and we're happy we did it. Kudos to the race organizers and props to all the participants! (race report to follow)

- Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 05:34:56 (EDT)

Valorization of Mind over matter

A handy word that I've just learned: valorize, meaning to give something a value, the opposite of denigrating it. Stephen Batchelor uses it in Chapter 4 of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, in a fascinating and important comment:

As soon as you split the world in two parts—one physical and one spiritual—you will most likely privilege mind over matter. Since mind—even an impermanent Buddhist mind—survives bodily death and is the agent of moral choice, then it is not only more enduring and "real" than mere matter but also the arbiter of one's destiny. The more you valorize mind and spirit, the more you will be prone to denigrate matter. Before long, mind starts to become Mind with a capital M, while matter becomes the illusory sludge of the world. The next thing you know, Mind starts to play the role of God: it becomes the ground and origin of all things, the cosmic intelligence that animates all forms of life.

Hmmm ... maybe as a devout materialist I should start capitalizing the word "Matter"?!

(cf. MeanMeaners (1999-07-03), ThoughtfulMetaphors (2000-11-08), CeramicMantra (2002-05-25), DiffuseConsciousness (2003-05-21), ...)

- Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 22:19:26 (EDT)

If You Say "Run"

The chorus of David Bowie's song "Let's Dance" includes one of my favorite lyrics of all times, a sort of silly syllogism:

If you say "Run" I'll run with you.

That's my mini-mantra. I just love to run with nice people!

- Friday, May 14, 2010 at 05:56:44 (EDT)

Expert Political Judgment

Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? by Philip Tetlock is extraordinarily important. I hesitate to call a book "essential reading" for a thoughtful person, but Tetlock qualifies if anything does. After a rigorous multi-year study of hundreds of experts and a detailed analysis of their responses to diverse questions about future political and economic developments, the Big Conclusion is that expert judgment is quite bad, only slightly better than random chance and significantly worse than formal models. People, even those who should know better, have unconscious bias. They're inconsistent and illogical. They explain away or forget their failures and they exaggerate their successes. Experts are no exception.

But the Good News is that some experts are significantly better than others. As Tetlock puts it:

... What experts think matters far less than how they think. If we want realistic odds on what will happen next, coupled to a willingness to admit mistakes, we are better off turning to experts who embody the intellectual traits of Isaiah Berlin's prototypical fox—those who "know many little things," draw from an eclectic array of traditions, and accept ambiguity and contradiction as inevitable features of life—than we are turning to Berlin's hedgehogs—those who "know one big thing," toil devotedly within one tradition, and reach for fomulaic solutions to ill-defined problems. ...

Expert Political Judgment is full of statistical analyses. Those who don't enjoy conditional (Bayesian) probabilities and correlation coefficients may wish to read it like a novel, skip the equations, and focus on the graphs and associated discussion. Throughout Tetlock is scrupulously fair: he bends over backwards to understand, allow for, and explain potential flaws in his research. An entire chapter—"The Hedgehogs Strike Back"—is devoted to making the opposition's case. His study of scenarios highlights the rarely-recognized risks of using them. And throughout the book, Tetlock's dry humor sparkles.

Bottom line: I wish I had read Expert Political Judgment a few dozen years ago.

- Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 04:20:44 (EDT)

Rational Animal

My optimistic assumption (following Aristotle) that people are rational animals turns out to be only half right ...

- Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 04:41:28 (EDT)

Tales from Out There

Tales from Out There: the Barkley Marathons, the World's Toughest Trail Race is a delightful surprise of a self-published book—well-written, meticulously detailed, technically accurate, with useful maps plus several black-and-white photos. "Frozen" Ed Furtaw has done a fine job of recording the history of the Barkley, a 100+ mile trek across the rugged terrain of central Tennessee's Frozen Head Environmental Education Area. Chapter 16 (covering 1997) of Out There offers "Famous Inspirational Quotes" from Barkley runners, including:

In the HAT Run 2006 I ran briefly with Keith Dunn, who had done a partial Barkley lap the prior year and who planned to go back. "You don't have to be fast to run Barkley," he told me, "just stupid!"

- Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 07:28:11 (EDT)

Commonplace Books

The Glass Box And The Commonplace Book, a lecture by Stephen Berlin Johnson, talks about search-engine results as something like a "commonplace book": a collection of quotations assembled with common themes sorted together into "common places", as in a concordance. That metaphor leads Johnson to talk about intellectual property in the Internet age, an important topic.

But equally fascinating is the historical aspect of commonplace books. A wide range of thinkers kept them, including John Milton, Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. Locke designed a clever system of cross-indexing the entries in his book based on the first letter and following vowel—a primitive hash table algorithm. And the commonplace book concept is essentially a pre-computer era personal wiki—an idea-scrapbook. Rather like large parts of this ^zhurnal, eh?!

(cf. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. [6], ...)

- Monday, May 10, 2010 at 04:50:42 (EDT)

2010-05-01 - Catoctin Reroute

20+ miles @ ~22 min/mi

This Saturday on the Catoctin Trail should be called Bugsday, as swarms of gnats and other little flying critters buzz Gayatri Datta and me for much of the morning. Lovely black butterflies, on the other hand, flit away as we approach. So do black flies that cover little piles of animal poop that dot the rocks. Woodpeckers hammer away unseen on distant trees.

Gayatri picks me up at home and we cruise north past Frederick to park on Hamburg Rd, the only car there when we start running at 0630. The day dawns warm and humid, but fortunately the Cat Trail is well-shaded. I wear sunscreen and Gayatri puts on bug repellant. My cap makes my head hot. I dip it in the water at a stream crossing and wear it wet to enjoy a few moments of cooling.

The Catoctin Trail takes a major detour between Delauter Rd and Fishing Creek Rd to avoid a badly eroded segment—but the new course includes a truly ugly gully and a truly lovely pine-forested hill. It adds half a mile or more of distance to the trail and several hundred feet of climb.

At the pond just before we reach Gambrill Park Rd I take off my hydration backpack to get something out of the compartment on the back and don't notice that I knock off my velcro-strap watch. A minute later I discover that it's missing, trot back, and spot it in the grass by the trail

At the halfway point we spend a few minutes studying Little Hunting Creek and trying to discern a way to reach the Cunningham Falls State Park's Manor Area without getting wet feet—then we give up and wade across, water up to mid-calf. We see nobody at all until the Manor Area turnaround, at which point there's a parked car and a few people walking around nearby.

In the Manor Area the restrooms are locked, but Gayatri spies a water faucet near the picnic pavilion across a ravine, so we scamper over there. She refills her bottles and I drink but foolishly think I have enough water left in my backpack bladder. Instead, I run out of water during the return trip with a few miles to go. I survive but really should learn a lesson.

On the way back we meet a dozen mountain bikers and one other runner, a young lady who says she's doing 30 miles today. I give her a ginger candy. We also see two backpackers, a young couple who look tired and say that they plan to do the entire Catoctin Trail over two days, camping overnight at the Manor Area. We drive past the Tea Room where I show Gayatri the first bit of the Catoctin 50k course. There appears to be a wedding reception or some other party underway. On the way home several cars are stopped by police along I-270, including one which has two bottles of whiskey sitting on the roof, one bottle half-empty.

- Sunday, May 09, 2010 at 13:54:36 (EDT)


"Be with myself and center," goes the Fergie song lyric. Nowadays everyone's into centering, cultivating a focused present-moment awareness, a form of meditation.

But how about sintering — heating a powder below its melting point until the particles stick together? It's what happens when ceramic pottery is fired. The technique is also used to make complex ultra-high-purity objects.

And sintering is just like what goes on when a person goes into a stressful situation and comes out stronger. Fragmented thoughts and emotions get sorted out and combine. Weak bits fuse into a coherent whole.

I want to be with myself and sinter!

- Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 09:44:52 (EDT)

MMT from A to Z

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. — Matthew 20:16

I've been a bit coy recently about my upcoming race plans, but might as well admit it now: I made it through the entry process into the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 miler this year. The random number assignment back in December 2009 put my ultrarunning friend Kate Abbott and me only a short distance apart, and my analysis (cf. Lottery Correlation Calculation) said that there was a 95% chance that we'd either both be selected, or neither would be. Alas, when the stock market closed on 8 December the DJIA fell into that unlucky 1 in 20 zone. Kate was among the 180 runners selected. I was number 87 on the waiting list. I started to taunt her in earnest about Running Alone through the Woods at Night. We even developed an acronym for that: RAWN.

But many of those ahead of me decided not to enter, and by January 2010 I was #47. Then the trickle of dropouts slowed. Early February saw me at #44, early March #37, early April #28. As the deadline to withdraw and get money back loomed, however, those who were injured or otherwise couldn't train enough started to leave. By 25 April I had bubbled up to #1 on the waiting list, and the next day my luck ran out: I was in.

So on 15-16 May comrade Kate and I plan to attempt MMT together and see how far we get. Alphabetically she's first and has been assigned bib #1. I'm DFL among all entrants, bib #180. Appropriate, eh?! My right knee still hurts intermittently, as it has since January. I've never run more than (a little over) 50 miles before, never run through the night, never done more than a few dozen miles on the über-rocky Massanutten Trail. But I think there's a finite nonzero chance that Kate and I can finish within the 36 hour cutoff. We'll see ...

- Friday, May 07, 2010 at 04:58:34 (EDT)

Handshake Puzzle

A rather amazing puzzle that a friend posed to me last year:

Four couples attend a party. Some of them shake hands when they meet. Afterwards I ask everyone else how many hands they shook. I get a different number from each person. How many hands did my wife shake?

It's amazing because there seems to be far too little information to solve it, yet there's a unique answer. And there's no "trick" either: no one shakes their own hand or their spouse's hand; the seven people I ask each answer my question with a different integer (0-6).

Hint: draw a diagram. Challenge: consider a different number of couples.

(this puzzle turns out to have been in a Martin Gardner "Mathematical Games" column decades ago; cf. OnSomethingness (2000-01-17), No Concepts At All (2001-02-22), GatewaysToMathematics (2004-05-20), ...)

- Thursday, May 06, 2010 at 05:03:48 (EDT)

Vartan Gregorian and Andrew Carnegie

In the Postscript of The Road to Home, Vartan Gregorian talks about the job he took on in 1997 as the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In comparing himself and his background to Andrew Carnegie's he notes:

We had something else in common, too: we both loved books and libraries. Wen I assumed the presidency of the New York Public Library, I came to appreciate the historical impact of Andrew Carnegie who, in launching public libraries, not only in New York but all over the United States and abroad, must have taken great pride in building libraries and providing books—hence, knowledge—to ordinary citizens eager to read and learn. I certainly was proud and felt triumphant that the boy from Tabriz who was too poor to own his own volumes and was even unable to borrow and rent books ended up lending millions of books to the people of New York, including the multitudes of newcomers who continue to flock here, to the city near the Statue of Liberty.

To this day, the walls of my office are lined with books; people send me books and talk to me about books and I still delight in the weight of a book in my hand. A book, to me, is still one of the most extraordinary creations of man, because it is a gift of knowledge: someone wrote it because he had something he felt was worth sharing with others, including you; someone gave it to you or recommended it to you or your found it by yourself on a shelf in your favorite bookstore. However it came into your possession, a book is a treasure troe that you can carry with you and learn from wherever and whenever you choose. A book contains dreams, ideas, and ideals, it contains notions about reality and utopia, about revolutions and clues about life and freedom and happiness. A library, a place where books can be lent freely to those seeking knowledge, is a testament to men and women's concern and caring for each other and for each other's children—for everyone's children: to construct and cherish a library is to invest not only in ourselves but in future generations. A library is a legacy. A library is a mirror to the past and a window to the future.

Because of the role that books and libraries have played in my life, I am gratified that at Carnegie Corporation, I have been able to help direct one aspect of our focus on international development toward African libraries and librarians, in order to help them create the gateways to tomorrow that will best serve the people of Africa. As someone who has had the opportunity to lie in different countries and different cultures, I know how extensive the cultural divide between different peoples can seem, how exotic differing beliefs and customs can appear to be, so it seems to me that knowledge about the world, both its tangible qualities and ephemeral mysteries, and about each other—about our glories and our follies—is the only way to narrow the great gulfs that divide us. The place where we can all find that knowledge is in books and in libraries as well as in the new technologies that enhance our ability to share the precious "knowledge and understanding" that Andrew Carnegie believed in so deeply and sincerely. The dissemination of knowledge and understanding is, in fact, the mandate he gave the institution I now serve, and I am pleased to be one of those entrusted with the task of carrying out his vision.

(cf. Boston Public Library (2002-06-20), RoomToRead (2004-10-23), EstateTax (2005-05-06), LibraryHistory (2007-02-06), Philanthropy and Charity (2010-03-28), ...)

- Wednesday, May 05, 2010 at 04:49:23 (EDT)

Silly Science Season

I know, I shouldn't care—but when a major newspaper and a professional journalist get goofy about something scientific, I feel an obligation to respond. The latest, from a source that I won't deign to name: a column about the marvelous potential of generating electricity from human motions, specifically pedestrian traffic and similar activity.

Hello? Has anybody heard of conservation of energy? Maybe it's not taught to reporters, but maybe it should be. If any device is producing electricity from people, then it's really producing electricity from the food that those people have eaten—minus all the inefficiency that humans have in digestion, muscular motion, etc.

Look at the numbers: a person ingests a few thousand food-calories per day, which converts into ~10,000,000 Joules/day. Sounds like a lot! But in electrical units that's only ~3 kilowatt-hours, roughly ~30¢ worth of juice. And that assumes 100% efficiency in converting food to useful work. In reality one might hope for a few percent of that, at best. Plus which, do folks want to feel like they're walking uphill or through molasses all the time? To maximize energy capture, that's what they'll have to do. And how much energy is it going to require to manufacture these devices, and how long will they last before they break?

Far be it from me to deprecate the value of exercise, for health and enjoyment. But journalists who rhapsodize about the potential to capture "free" energy from human activity should realize that it's a gimmick, not a game-changer. They've fallen victim to techno-promoters. And it's not even a new notion: does anybody remember self-winding wrist watches? They had a pendulum inside, a weight on a pivot that, via a ratchet mechanism, quietly wound the mainspring as the owner turned his wrist throughout the day.

It's silly to think about generating significant amounts of electricity via people-power. But realistically, motions by the wearer could be used to energize ultra-low-power "smart" garments, like motion-canceling active mechanical structures. Hmmm—perhaps a Brainy Jogbra™ needn't use batteries after all!?

- Tuesday, May 04, 2010 at 04:40:00 (EDT)

2010-04-25 - Cabin John Stream Valley Trail

~3.8 miles @ ~14 min/mi

"You have great calf definition!" I compliment one of my fellow runners. Maybe it's genetic; I certainly don't get that kind of muscle visibility. At 2:45pm I pick up Gayatri at her home and we zip down Democracy Blvd to park at the nature center on Cabin John Trail. We're 5 minutes early and, as expected, Caren appears within seconds. We gear up and trot north on the CJSVT. Caren sets an aggressive pace, with Gayatri and I trailing behind her. At Tuckerman Lane I tag the street. Our loop back via the parking lot is uneventful.

- Monday, May 03, 2010 at 04:41:52 (EDT)

Higher Power

Stephen Batchelor in Chapter 14 of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist nicely summarizes the problem with mystical beliefs:

What is it that makes a person insist passionately on the existence of metaphysical realities that can be neither demonstrated nor refuted? I suppose some of it has to with fear of death, the terror that you and your loved ones will disappear and become nothing. But I suspect that for such people, the world as presented to their senses and reason appears intrinsically inadequate, incapable of fulfilling their deepest longings for meaning, truth, justice, or goodness. Whether one believes in God or karma and rebirth, in both cases one can place one's trust in a higher power or law that appears capable of explaining this fraught and brief life on earth. One assumes the existence of hidden forces that lie deep beneath the surface of the contingent and untrustworthy world of day-to-day experience. Many Buddhists would argue that to jettison belief in the law of karma—a scheme of moral bookkeeping mysteriously inhering within the structure of reality itself—would be tantamount to removing the foundations of ethics. Good acts would not be rewarded and evil deeds not punished. Theists have said exactly the same about the consequences of abandoning belief in God and divine judgment.

- Sunday, May 02, 2010 at 12:47:17 (EDT)

2010-04-24 - Catoctin Trail with Gayatri

~16.5 miles @ ~22 min/mi

"This is beautful, but it's tough!" Gayatri Datta says, halfway through our trek on the southern end of the Catoctin Trail. She's doing hillwork in preparation for her October stage race in the Himalayas [1]. Our wrist GPS units estimate that today we've done 7700 feet of total climb (and an equal descent). My 200-300 feet/mile GPS noise correction factor suggests that the actual elevation change is 3000-4000 feet.

We start early: Gayatri picks me up at my home a bit after 5am and refuses to let me pay for her gas or buy her breakfast. From the Gambrill State Park lot we start running at 0630 as the sun rises through the trees. Woodpeckers drum and water splashes down the streams as we progress through the first several miles. There are at least half a dozen creek crossings. As we tiptoe across on rocks we both think of friend Caren Jew, who has family duties this morning and can't join us on her favorite trail. (She would have run through the water!)

We chat about upcoming races. Gayatri names three out of the four mountains visible from northern India where she has signed up to do 100 miles in five days: Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu. (She misses Kanchenjunga.) Today's terrain is probably rockier than the dirt and gravel roads in their foothills, but of course we're far below 10,000 feet elevation. We take our time on the climbs and walk a lot. My right knee is twingy but tolerable. I wear a black neoprene brace that Mary Ewell has lent me, and perhaps it helps a bit.

At Hamburg Rd, about 5.5 miles out, we begin to see other people: mountain bikers park their cars there and mostly go north, the way we're proceeding. We get confused when blue Catoctin Trail blazes are scarce and backtrack a quarter mile or so at one point along a wide rutted downhill segment. But there's no place else for the trail to go, and after casting about near a pond in the Frederick Municipal Watershed we try the same way again and eventually discover where the blazes recommence. After roughly three hours we turn around on a hillside and head back.

Now a few more people are out, and a couple walking a big black labrador dog greets us. A noisy goose scolds them as they pass its domain. About 11:30am a light rain starts, drops pattering on the brown leaves that cover the forest floor. We have ~3 miles still to go. I set a record today for pausing to leave the trail and water the bushes. Perhaps I'm drinking enough water, but am low on salt? We stay on course for the final climb back to Gayatri's car and give advice to a couple of lost mountain bikers who should have turned earlier in the maze of yellow, green, black, and blue blazes.

- Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 04:38:42 (EDT)

Fitness Profile

On 28 April I venture into the office gym, where normally I only go to change clothes before heading outside to run. The mission: a "Fitness Profile" set of tests. It's an entertaining experience, but although I love numbers I'm quite skeptical about many of these, particularly ones reported with excessive false precision. But for the record, my blood pressure is rather too high, 150/91 at a pulse rate of 68. Perhaps I'm nervous? The results from a "Tanita" stand-barefoot-on-the electrodes and grip-the-electrodes "Body Composition Analyzer" printout:

Those are apparently all within reasonable ranges for a 57-year-old male. The machine suggests that I could stand to lose half a dozen pounds or so; no argument from me on that. And I'm probably a bit dehydrated this early in the morning, which may cause errors in the machine's analysis.

Then I do a set of "Microfit" measurements, using machinery for testing endurance, strength, and flexibility. The results there:

The Aerobic Fitness measurement is done on a stationary bicycle with increasing resistance, and cuts off when the heart monitor says I'm up to ~147 beats/min, before I really start sweating much. That V02 Max number claims to be in the "Fit" range, but I think I can do much better. Also supposedly "Fit" are Biceps Strength and Back Flexibility; perhaps the standards are low for old men? My hand grip strength number, in contrast, falls in the "Needs Work" (aka "Pitifully Weak") category.

Overall verdict? Moderately interesting, but not terribly scientific. Perhaps I'll try again in six months and see if there's any improvement, though I strongly suspect a huge amount of noise is in with the data. Controlled experiments would be fun, but I've got better things to do—such as get outside and run!

- Friday, April 30, 2010 at 04:49:29 (EDT)

Black Swan Swindle

Warning: negativity follows!

Nassim Nicholas Taleb's bestselling 2007 book The Black Swan is a thoroughly annoying example of fuzzy thinking. It's a chatty mix of shallow truisms and fallacies, overstatements and misunderstandings. There are a few good ideas, the biggest one being: don't ignore low-probability high-impact events. But it doesn't take 300 pages to say that. And Taleb's references are a mess, not tied in any auditable way to his claims in the text. The bibliography is almost worthless, a 28-page fine-print laundry list of 800+ books, many irrelevant. The index is incomplete. The author fails to explain, and apparently doesn't understand, the mathematics of probability and statistics. But he's pretty good at ad hominem attacks on his enemies, and shines at self-promotion.

Earlier this month Tom Slee, a Canadian essayist and software engineer, posted a thoughtful critique of a semi-famous technophilic author's most recent bit of fluff. Slee's memorandum proposes tongue-in-cheek "Four Rules of Big Ideas":

  1. Tell stories and argue by analogy
  2. Make the point catchy but ambiguous
  3. Simplify and exaggerate
  4. Cast yourself in a rebellious and revolutionary light

That's a perfect description of The Black Swan. Beach reading? Maybe. Useful to learn from? Not very. And no, the book doesn't make any falsifiable predictions, and certainly doesn't anticipate the recent financial crisis. Disappointing? Yes.

(cf. AggressiveAggregation (2007-05-10), ...)

- Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 04:42:28 (EDT)

Science vs. Fantasy

Roger Zelazny in his sf novel Lord of Light conveys the distinction between fantasy and science during a comic dialog in Chapter One:

"Then the one called Raltariki is really a demon?" asked Tak.

"Yes—and no," said Yama. "If by 'demon' you mean a malefic, supernatural creature, possessed of great powers, life span, and the ability to temporarily assume virtually any shape—then the answer is no. This is the generally accepted definition, but it is untrue in one respect."

"Oh? And what may that be?"

"It is not a supernatural creature."

"But it is all those other things?"


"Then I fail to see what difference it makes whether it be supernatural or not—so long as it is malefic, possesses great powers and life span and has the ability to change its shape at will."

"Ah, but it makes a great deal of difference, you see. It is the difference between the unknown and the unknowable, between science and fantasy—it is a matter of essence. The four points of the compass be logic, knowledge, wisdom and the unknown. Some bow in that final direction. Others advance upon it. To bow before the one is to lose sight of the three. I may submit to the unknown, but never to the unknowable. The man who bows in that final direction is either a saint or a fool. I have no use for either."

- Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 04:47:58 (EDT)

Death of the News

The problems of the newspaper industry have a simple root cause: most people most of the time don't want news—they want to spend a few minutes of quiet time looking at interesting semi-random "stuff". I just got through doing that this morning online, then walked outside to pick up the papers at the street. The front pages have some nice things on them which would ordinarily be highly entertaining: politics, disasters, accusations, striking photographs, funny surprises. But since I've already had my fix of "stuff" their appeal is considerably reduced.

- Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 05:14:59 (EDT)

Lobbyist-Induced Torpor

Every once in a while, Congress awakens from its lobbyist-induced torpor, realizes that the masses are cranky and sets out to appease them. ...

So scathingly begins Gretchen Morgenson's column in yesterday's New York Times. As long as money dominates politics, alas, this will continue. There is a solution, a simple (but not an easy) one: (most) voters need to ignore (most) political advertising. When will we ever learn?

(cf. Make Money Whisper (2002-11-09), Campaign Reform (2003-12-30), ...)

- Monday, April 26, 2010 at 17:40:57 (EDT)

Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

Stephen Batchelor, former monk and author of Buddhism Without Beliefs and The Faith to Doubt, has a new fascinatingly chaotic book: Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. I was befuddled by the mix of autobiography and theology until Chapter 18, when Batchelor clued me in while describing another book of his, Living with the Devil:

After Buddhism Without Beliefs, I contracted with my publisher to write a book that would further develop my ideas about an agnostic approach to Buddhism. As usual I started writing notes, collating ideas, gathering quotes, reading relevant books and articles, designing chapter plans, toying with titles, and generally letting my mind wander as it would around the theme. Then I began to write. Within a week, I abandoned everything I had planned. The act of writing, following its own inscrutable logic, had guided me to the topic of the book: ...

That says a lot about the style of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. It's both insightful and frustrating as it random-walks through Batchelor's life story and his exploration of the roots of Buddhist philosophy. There are too many thoughts in it to encapsulate in a single review; I'll post some bits that resonated with me here in weeks to come. Meanwhile, one key notion that appears in Chapter 12:

Rather than dismiss the self as a fiction, Gotama presented it as a project to be realized. By "self" he referred not to the transcendent Self of the brahmins, which, by definition, cannot be anything other than what it eternally Is, but the functional, moral self that breathes and acts in this world. He compared this self to a field: a potentially fertile ground that, when irrigated and tended, enables plants to flourish. He compared it to an arrow: a wooden shaft, metal head, and feather fletching, which, when assembled, can be projected on an unerring course to its target. And he compared the self to a block of wood, something one can fashion and shape into a utensil or roof beam. In each case, simple things are worked and transformed to achieve human ends.

... Instead of training oneself to achieve a serene detachment from the turbulent events of this life, [such a model of self] encourages one to grapple with these events in order to imbue them with meaning and purpose. The emphasis is on action rather than inaction, on engagement rather than disengagement. ...

This brings to mind a remark by Ken Knisley in his No Dogs or Philosophers Allowed TV show: "... you're an ongoing project. How should one ongoing project, like me or like you, think of and deeply regard this panoply of other ongoing projects, peculiar living creatures that they are? ...".

(cf. What is My Life? (1999-04-30), Buddhism Without Beliefs (2008-09-19), Faith to Doubt (2010-03-11), ...)

- Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 11:48:22 (EDT)

2010-04-17 - Catoctin Trail with Caren, Gayatri, and Ken

7+ miles @ ~25 min/mi

Caren Jew has recovered from ankle injuries and survived income tax season, so it's time to celebrate by returning to her favorite haunt, the tough Catoctin Trail north of Frederick MD. After extensive negotiations Ken Swab concedes to a 0515 start for the ride with Gayatri Datta and me. Various of us have family duties that make the early start preferable.

Bad news: when we reach the Manor Area of Cunningham Falls State Park we discover that Ken has forgotten his running shoes. Good news: he doesn't need them! We cross Little Hunting Creek—Caren & I wading through, Ken & Gayatri leaping between rocks—and proceed up the steep slope. My GPS says that we go from ~550 feet elevation to ~1500 feet at the highest, which roughly agrees with the PATC map's contour lines. On the way up Caren takes a scary fall on some tree roots, but escapes injury.

Then my phone rings. It's Caren: her cellphone has spontaneously called mine—oops! At the scenic overlook we catch our breath and survey the valley below. Caren spots a scattering of ice on the ground; I dismiss it as broken glass until I check and confirm her observation. Somebody has emptied a cooler recently and there are beer bottle caps scattered nearby. Ken points out a blue tarp/tent halfway down the cliffside. We move on quietly.

In the Frederick Municipal Watershed after the second pond or so between Gambrill Park Rd and Fishing Creek Rd we turn back. A pickup truck of hunters in camo outfit cruises by slowly, and reminds Caren and me of our run here (2008-05-18) when we saw some sketchy-scary-looking guys on the trail. (cue music from Deliverance) Back in the Manor Area we ford the stream. Caren goes home while Ken & Gayatri & I do a bonus mile on the trail in the other direction.

- Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 04:19:59 (EDT)

Vartan Gregorian on Libraries

After graduating and serving as a teacher and leader at several major universities, Vartan Gregorian from 1981-1988 was president of the New York Public Library. In Chapter Twelve ("A Rendezvous with the New York Public Library") of his autobiography The Road to Home he quotes a speech he gave at the White House in 2002 about which he says, "I poured all my thoughts, speaking from my heart about my passion for libraries and for books":


Let us now turn to real libraries, which are as old as civilization—the objects of pride, envy, and sometimes senseless destruction. From the clay tablets of Babylon to the computers of a modern library stretch more than five thousand years of man's and woman's insatiable desire to establish written immortality and to ensure the continuity of culture and civilization, to share their memories, their wisdom, their strivings, their fantasies, their longings, and their experiences with mankind and with future generations.

Let us now turn to real libraries, which have always occupied a central role in our culture. They contain our nation's heritage, the heritage of humanity, the record of its triumphs and failures, the record of mankind's intellectual, scientific, and artistic achievements. They are the diaries of the human race. They contain humanity's collective memory. They are not repositories of human endeavor alone. They are instruments of civilization. They provide tools for learning, understanding, and progress. They are a source of information, a source of knowledge, a source of wisdom; hence they are a source of action. They are a laboratory of human endeavor. They are a window to the future. They are a source of hope. They are a course of self-renewal. They represent the link between the solitary individual and mankind, which is our community. The library is the university of universities, for it contains the source and the unity of knowledge. The library is the only true and free university. There are no entrance examinations, no subsequent examinations, no diplomas, no graduations, for no one can graduate—or ever needs to!—from a library.

Above all else, libraries represent and embody the spirit of humanity, a spirit that has been extolled throughout history by countless writers, artists, scholars, philosophers, theologians, scientists, teachers, and ordinary men and women in a myriad of tongues and dialects.

The library, in my opinion, is the only tolerant historical institution, for it is the mirror of our society, the record of mankind. It is an institution in which the left and the right, the Devil and God, human achievements, human endeavors, and human failures all are retained and classified in order to teach mankind what not to repeat and what to emulate.

The library also marks an act of faith in the continuity of humanity. The library contains a society's collective but discriminating memory. It is an act of honor to the past, a witness to the future, hence a visible judgment on both.

The existence and the welfare of the library are of a paramount importance in the life of a society, in the life of a community, the life of a university, the life of a school and a college, the life of a city, and the life of a nation.

Indeed, the library is a central part of our society. It is a critical component in the free exchange of information, which is at the heart of our democracy. In both an actual and symbolic sense, the library is the guardian of freedom of thought and freedom of choice; hence it constitutes the best symbol of the First Amendment to our Constitution. For what will be the result of a political system when a majority of the people are ignorant of their past, their legacy, and the ideals, traditions, and purposes of our democracy? "A nation that expects to be ignorant and free," wrote Thomas Jefferson, "expects what never was and never will be."

Through the development and spread of the academic and private libraries, and the central role that our public libraries and school libraries have assumed, we have come to view the library not only as a source of scholarship, knowledge, and learning, but also as a medium for self-education, progress, self-help, autonomy, liberation, empowerment, self-determination, and "moral salvation," as a source of power. That is why the library was dubbed the "People's University" by Emerson and the "True University" or the "House of Intellect" by Carlyle.

Libraries are not ossified institutions or historical relics. Libraries and museums are the DNA of our culture. Cemeteries do not provide earthly immortality to men and women; libraries, museums, universities, and schools do.

(cf. Libraries on the Road to Home (2010-04-08), ...)

- Friday, April 23, 2010 at 04:54:38 (EDT)


The heart is a golden fawn,
     trapped in a tangle of barbed wire

The heart is a tunnel,
     with the faintest glimmer of light at the far end

The heart is a nightmare,
     as the dreamer falls, breathless, waiting

The heart is an infinite circle,
     formed by angels holding hands

- Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 04:42:10 (EDT)

Garmin File Extractor

It's been a long time since I wrote any code, but yesterday the old dog dusted off the Perl manual and managed a few simple tricks. The Garmin GPS unit that I have produces a *.tcx file which is a succession of XML-tagged data points. With every outing the file grows a megabyte or so in length, depending on the duration of the run. In order to produce maps and elevation profiles I've been using a text editor to strip out a single day's trek from the mass. But as the file gets larger, that's more and more inconvenient.

Hence, the following tiny Perl script to pull a run's trackfile out of an arbitrarily-large Garmin *.tcx file:

#! /usr/bin/perl

# extract_garmin.prl version 0.1 - ^z - 2010-04-20
# usage:  perl extract_garmin.prl datepattern <infile.tcx >outfile.tcx

# take a Garmin *.tcx file and extract a chunk for a given date
# example:  perl extract_garmin.prl 2010-04-10 <Garmin_2010-04-17.tcx >Garmin_BRR.tcx

# method: print out header down to and including line containing <Activity Sport="Running">
# scan until find line that matches datepattern
# print out that line and all subsequent lines until and including next </Activity>
# print out </Activities> and </TrainingCenterDatabase>, and finish

$datepattern = $ARGV[0];
while (<STDIN>) {
  last if /<Activity Sport="Running">/;
while (<STDIN>) {
  last if /$datepattern/;
while (<STDIN>) {
  last if /<\/Activity>/;
print " </Activities>\n</TrainingCenterDatabase>\n";

- Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 04:47:29 (EDT)

2010-04-16 - Woodsy Path Loops

2+ miles @ ~12 min/mi

The morning is humid and though our pace is slow I'm soon dripping sweat. Clair is getting back into running and I'm recovering from mysterious shin twinges so we walk the hills of the paved forest path and enjoy the morning break from the office grind. It's a happy chatty trek: we talk about personal stuff, share secrets, gossip, and marvel at the day. Our quantitative personalities similarly enjoy doing quantitative experiments on our respective selves. No deer or rabbits seen—maybe the sun is too bright?

- Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 04:38:25 (EDT)

Our Optic

An odd phrase that I've seen in certain bureaucratic memoranda: From our optic, meaning "based on our point of view" or "in our perspective".

Hmmm—wonder if there could analogs for other senses? From our nasal = "that has a whiff of" or "we sense that" ... From our tongue = "that smacks of" ... ?

- Monday, April 19, 2010 at 04:53:58 (EDT)

Hogan Development Survey

Last month I took an online personality assessment, a few hundred true-false questions. According to the write-up I received from the psychologist, the Hogan Personality Inventory "... measures the 'bright side' of personality—those behaviors others see on a day-to-day basis." The Hogan Development Survey, on the other hand, highlights "dark side" traits that appear under high-stress conditions, when placed in a leadership position, etc. My HDS results, sorted from "high" to low":

Like the HPI, the HDS results seem reasonable but not terribly surprising. It reminds me of the Strengthsfinder survey I took a few years ago—or of the Chinese astrological characteristics of a Dragon: dignified, magnanimous, good-hearted, active, fun, happy, protective, versatile, eloquent, ...

- Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 12:49:50 (EDT)

2010-04-10 - Bull Run Run

50.4 miles @ ~13.5 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/BRR_2010_Kate_Z_as.jpg"Ouch!" I exclaim after reaching back to get my water bottle. "I just tore my thumbnail on my shirt. That's it—I'm dropping out now!"

"Yep, your race is over." Kate Abbott agrees. We're trekking through the woods, a few dozen miles into the Bull Run Run 50 miler.

It's a lovely day for my fourth BRR, Kate's second. Temperatures rise from the 40s into the 60s. We improve on last year's result by almost 18 minutes, finishing in 11:22:06.

But there is one snag at the finish line: the race officials ask me if I've seen Kate? "Yes, she's been beside me all day," I reply. We discover that her number is pinned on upside down and reads "98" instead of "86". Oops! Course marshalls think she got lost somewhere along the stream. We soon set them right. And Race Director Anstr Davidson tells us afterwards that he wasn't worried—he knows that Kate knows the trail and that we're running together.

(photo by Aaron Schwarzbard near mile 26)

Bad Patches

There are problems along the way:


A crescent moon hangs low in the east as I arrive at Kate Abbott's home ca. 4:45am. Zena, the family dog, greets me. Kate cooks grilled cheese sandwiches and we each have one. I drive us to the starting area, Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. Our walk in the gloom to the packet pickup area is tricky on the hills and at a water crossing. We get our shirts and race numbers, greet friends, and prepare for the race.

Where the heck are we and what the heck are we about to do? Bull Run is a famous stream that flows to the Occoquan Reservoir and thence into the Potomac River. The area was the site of several major Civil War battles. As the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club web site notes, "The Bull Run Run is a beautiful, tough run on the Bull Run Trail in Northern Virginia. The VHTRC was formed in 1992 to sponsor the first Bull Run Run in April 1993." The 18th annual BRR takes place on 10 April 2010. Here's a map of our path, thanks to Google Maps, GPS Visualizer, and the Garmin GPS that I wear on my wrist.


As we line up for the 6:30am start I tweet the news and Ken Swab texts a friend. Then we're off, taking our time and cruising near the back of the crowd. Caroline Williams is nearby; she was with me last weekend at the Chocolate Bunny night run. So is John Godinet, whom I also met there. Ken and I banter as usual during the mile loop before we head down the steep single-track trail to join the BRT. Kate leads our little group, as usual setting a perfect pace, aggressive but not irrational.


We follow the course upstream, walking the uphills, running where feasible. Caroline blasts ahead; Ken follows her, though we see him briefly at the first aid station, mile 7.2, Centreville Rd. Bluebells bloom, painting cerulean fields beside the trail. Tiny white flowers accompany them. I ask a photographer what they're called, and she tells me "spring beauties".

After the northern turnaround Kate and I catch up with Ken; he sticks with us for the next ~35 miles. We grab-and-go briskly through aid stations. I snag the usual cookies, chocolate candies, and salty potato chips. I also take Succeed! electrolyte capsules at almost every opportunity and nibble Clif shot blocks from my stash.

Back at the start/finish area, mile 16.6, Kate ditches her outer layer, since the day has begun to warm. She continues in her orange "Cody's Crew" singlet, in honor of a friend's son who died too young. I'm in red garb today and have already rolled up my sleeves. I post our location to Twitter, Facebook, and Google Buzz. We're 3:38 into the race, the same as last year.

As we head downstream the firing range across Bull Run is noisy and leads to some jokes about shooting laggard runners. We note the memorial shrine near the Marina as we pass by. Typical trail humor surfaces sporadically, not to be repeated here. Muddy bogs and water crossings are small and narrow.

The Wolf Run Shoals aid station is a delight, with ice cream sandwiches for hot runners and silly costumes for volunteers. During the White Loop trail segment we encounter a fast runner heading the wrong direction. We try to get him turned around, but he ignores us and adds a couple of miles to his day. Rob Dolan, recovering from bronchitis, greets us from his chair at the Do Loop. Gary Knipling, 66 years old and on his way to a sub-10 hour finish, is all smiles as usual. So is Mark McKennett and Ken's cousin Peter Kozlowski.

The End

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/BRR_2010_Kate_Z_ds.jpgWe arrive at the finish line at 5:52pm. Kate's husband Victor and her sons Sebastian, Joaquin, and Jacian appear a few minutes later. Kate and Ken express doubts about running ultramarathons in the future. Of course, Kate is scheduled to do a 24 hour endurance run next weekend, and Ken has signed up for the Miwok 100k on 1 May. I laugh about how one's sense of "reasonable" gets recalibrated after an ultramarathon.

(photo by Doug Sullivan near mile 32)

(cf. Kate Abbott's report 2010 Bull Run Run 50 Mile Race Report and Bull Run Run 2007 (2007-04-15), Bull Run Run 2008 (2008-04-19), 2009-04-18 - Bull Run Run (2009-04-24), ...)

- Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 19:17:08 (EDT)


Trail running friend Caren Jew taught me another new useful acronym the other day: GSD. Formerly to me those letters meant "Ground Sample Distance", the spacing between pixels on a remote-sensing image, a measure of resolution. That didn't make much sense when Caren wrote that GSD was her Mantra for the Day. Nor did another primary definition, "German Shepherd Dog", seem likely.

But then I discovered that in context GSD can also stand for the noble and important goal of "Getting Stuff Done". Yesterday for the little group at the office I created a new quick-start FAQ web page of instructions on how to order books, how to sign up for computer services, etc. I titled it that.

Knowing Comrade Caren, however, I suspect that in GSD the "S" sometimes stands for another word!

(cf. Catoctin 50k 2008, where Caren teaches me the meaning of "DFL" ...)

- Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 04:59:35 (EDT)

Supervisor Mode

The original Apple Macintosh (like most other early computers) ran all the time in "supervisor mode". The processor could do whatever it wanted to—or rather, whatever the machine-language instructions told it to do—and so any program could run amok, overwrite another program's data, and crash the entire computer if a programmer made a single fatal mistake.

Modern operating systems, in contrast, run ordinary programs in "user mode". The processor is limited in what it can do, crashes are much less frequent, and when a program fails it can't take down other programs. Supervisor mode is reserved for the operating system, the master controller. It monitors what's going on, and can if necessary force individual programs to take turns and play nicely with one another. In extreme circumstances it can interrupt and shut down a user-mode program that goes astray.

Speculation: perhaps higher-level self-awareness—such as that cultivated by mindfulness meditation—sets up something like a modern computer operating system? A part of the mind stands apart and quietly watches the rest. It need not judge or interfere; it just observes. Maybe that's enlightenment?

(cf. EngineeringEnlightenment (1999-10-09), Wherever You Go, There You Are (2008-10-26), Coming to Our Senses (2009-01-01), Bind the Monkey (2009-11-21), Finding the Quiet (2009-12-05), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-20), ...)

- Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 04:45:55 (EDT)

Lord of Light

Roger Zelazny (1937-1995) wrote some excellent, unconventional science fiction and fantasy stories. During the past few years I've been scanning the shelves at the used-book sale for one in particular: Lord of Light. I read it as a teenager when it came out in 1967. Last month I found a copy.

The verdict, upon re-reading after 4 decades? Lord of Light holds up fairly well. It's no literary masterpiece, major plot improbabilities distract, and of-its-time sexism occasinally creeps in. And it suffers from a weakness that is shared by J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and other novels that reach high: if powerful god-like beings exist, why bother with human-scale battles? That's like mustering an army of kittens to fight before launching the thermonuclear missiles. The scales of destruction are too disparate.

But setting all that aside, Zelazny's prose includes many fine bits, some of which still echo in my memory—arch humor and poetic passages that go beyond pretty. For instance, in Chapter Two's painting of a daybreak:

He seated himself upon a crate at the foot of a pier. The dawn came to lift the darkness from the world; and he watched the ships stirring with the tide, empty of sail, webbed with cables, prows carved with monster or maiden. His every visit to Mahartha brought him again to the harbor for a little while.

Morning's pink parasol opened above the tangled hair of the clouds, and cool breezes crossed the docks. Scavenger birds uttered hoarse cries as they darted about loop-windowed towers, then swooped across the waters of the bay.

He watched a ship put out to sea, tentlike vanes of canvas growing to high peaks and swelling in the salt air. Aboard other ships, secure in their anchorage, there was movement now, as crews made ready to load or unload cargoes of incense, coral, oil and all kinds of fabrics, as well as metals, cattle, hardwoods and spices. He smelled the smells of commerce and listened to the cursing of sailors, both of which he admired: the former, as it reeked of wealth, and the latter because it combined his two other chief preoccupations, those being theology and anatomy.

And at the beginning of Chapter Four, another soaring description:

Hellwell lies at the top of the world and it leads down to its roots.

It is probably as old as the world itself; and if it is not, it should be, because it looks as if it were.

It begins with a doorway. There is a huge, burnished metal door, erected by the First, that is heavy as sin, three times the height of a man and half that distance in width. It is a full cubit thick and bears a head-sized ring of brass, a complicated pressure-plate lock and an inscription that reads, roughly, "Go away. This is not a place to be. If you do try to enter here, you will fail and also be cursed. If somehow you succeed, then do not complain that you entered unwarned, nor bother us with your deathbed prayers." Signed, "The Gods."

It is set near the peak of a very high mountain named Channa, in the midst of a region of very high mountains called the Ratnagaris. In that place there is always snow upon the ground, and rainbows ride like fur on the backs of icicles, which sprout about the frozen caps of cliffs. The air is as sharp as a sword. The sky is bright as the eye of a cat.

(cf. HinduVsBuddhist (2008-01-01), ...)

- Monday, April 12, 2010 at 06:25:50 (EDT)

Driving the Little Cart

Every so often, when running through the real woods, stumbling on real rocks, and becoming really tired, a classic Scott Adams "Dilbert" comic strip comes to mind. I saw it again in a collection last month. Dilbert and his not-quite-girlfriend are sitting under a tree, each holding a book:

"What did you bring to read?" she asks him.

"Its a book of tips for my new computer golf game," he answers.

"So ... you're reading a book ... about a simulation ... of an activity that's almost a sport ..." she says. "That's about as close as you can get to being a non-organic lifeform."

"This chapter is about driving the little cart," Dilbert says.

Not a fair criticism of real golf, of course — but there is certainly a difference between simulation and reality, and folks who settle for the fake are shortchanging themselves. Who's going to look back years later and be proud of their high score in long-obsolete whatever-it was?

(cf. CutTheVolume (2004-03-05), CondescendingComputerUser (2005-02-03), TheBigRoom (2007-10-21), ...)

- Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 19:40:51 (EDT)

Crooked Cucumber

David Chadwick's biography Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, is a flip-book of glimpses of a monk who, like a snowflake triggering an avalanche, brought one form of Buddhism to thousands of Americans when he came to the United States in 1959. And also like an avalanche, the cascade that Suzuki created spread and slowed and eventually settled the landscape into a new stability.

Crooked Cucumber follows Suzuki from his birth in Japan (1904) to his death by cancer in California (1971). The book is is full of anecdotes and encounters, many funny, many tragic. Suzuki stops by the highway to relieve himself and drops his false teeth down the embankment. He orders a double-meat hamburger at a fast-food joint and then trades it for a grilled cheese sandwich that his vegetarian companion has started eating.

And there are a plethora of delightful paradoxes. For example:

Even "Not always so" was not always so. It wasn't offered as a formula to cling to.

"There is no question," a student said, "because there is no answer. Whatever you say will not always be so. So I will just sit."

Suzuki shook his head.

"No?" the student said. "But you said ..."

"When I said it, it was true. When you said it, it was false."

I've dipped into Cucumber and read chunks; some day perhaps I'll plow linearly through it. Then again, maybe not. Suzuki himself rarely talked much about his life. When a student asked permission to print biographic material, Shunryu Suzuki said, "I'm not interested. I have no accurate record of my life, and I don't want any."

(cf. Not Always So (2009-07-04), Self-Unawareness (2010-01-02), Shoes Outside the Door (2010-03-03), ...)

- Friday, April 09, 2010 at 04:52:46 (EDT)

Libraries on the Road to Home

Vartan Gregorian's The Road to Home is a charmingly written autobiography by an amazing Armenian-American. Gregorian, born in 1935 in Tabriz Iran, grew up in tough circumstances but managed to become "a person of learning and consequence" thanks to hard work, a brilliant mind, and the help of family, friends, and strangers. Libraries were important throughout his life. In Chapter Two ("Childhood") he observes:

From age eleven on, I was a part-time page at the library, which proved to be a great oasis of privacy, peace, and occasional solitude. I loved to read and I read everything. I understood some of what I read, was bewildered by much, but over time the library introduced me to Armenia's history and literature, and Russian, English, German, and Polish novels in translation. The library opened a new world. At age fourteen, with two friends, I edited a newspaper named Ararat for the library's bulletin board. I wrote an editorial titled "Our Voice" and the first obituary about the late, beloved prelate of our Church, Archbishop Nerses Melik-Tanguian. At the same time, I started to write articles for the respected Armenian daily Alik in Tehran, beginning with obituaries and reporting on cultural events in Tabriz. I wrote under a pseudonym in order to be taken seriously by the readers. Neither the library nor the newspaper paid, but I benefited immensely from both. I was poor, but I was not alone.

In 1956, after attending school in Beirut Lebanon, Gregorian came to the United States to go to college. In Chapter Six ("Stanford University: A New World") he notes:

My courses were great. But I found myself in the position of a thirsty person who wants to drink water from a fountain and is given a hydrant. This was the case with my courses as well as with the Stanford library. The library was a mecca for me. I spent long days there in awe of the collection of books, like a little kid jumping from one toy to another. An interesting item led me to another and on and on. Even at the end of the day, I still felt intoxicated. At long last I had a personal library, open, accessible, and always there.

(cf. Boston Public Library (2002-06-20), Philanthropy and Charity (2010-03-28), ...)

- Thursday, April 08, 2010 at 04:41:52 (EDT)

Shared Pain

"Love is not shared pleasure. It is shared pain."

(from Charlotte Joko Beck's book Nothing Special, "Struggle: The Cocoon of Pain"; cf. Cave of Pain (2009-12-18), ...)

- Wednesday, April 07, 2010 at 04:34:06 (EDT)

For back issues of the ^zhurnal see Volumes v.01 (April-May 1999), v.02 (May-July 1999), v.03 (July-September 1999), v.04 (September-November 1999), v.05 (November 1999 - January 2000), v.06 (January-March 2000), v.07 (March-May 2000), v.08 (May-June 2000), v.09 (June-July 2000), v.10 (August-October 2000), v.11 (October-December 2000), v.12 (December 2000 - February 2001), v.13 (February-April 2001), v.14 (April-June 2001), 0.15 (June-August 2001), 0.16 (August-September 2001), 0.17 (September-November 2001), 0.18 (November-December 2001), 0.19 (December 2001 - February 2002), 0.20 (February-April 2002), 0.21 (April-May 2002), 0.22 (May-July 2002), 0.23 (July-September 2002), 0.24 (September-October 2002), 0.25 (October-November 2002), 0.26 (November 2002 - January 2003), 0.27 (January-February 2003), 0.28 (February-April 2003), 0.29 (April-June 2003), 0.30 (June-July 2003), 0.31 (July-September 2003), 0.32 (September-October 2003), 0.33 (October-November 2003), 0.34 (November 2003 - January 2004), 0.35 (January-February 2004), 0.36 (February-March 2004), 0.37 (March-April 2004), 0.38 (April-June 2004), 0.39 (June-July 2004), 0.40 (July-August 2004), 0.41 (August-September 2004), 0.42 (September-November 2004), 0.43 (November-December 2004), 0.44 (December 2004 - February 2005), 0.45 (February-March 2005), 0.46 (March-May 2005), 0.47 (May-June 2005), 0.48 (June-August 2005), 0.49 (August-September 2005), 0.50 (September-November 2005), 0.51 (November 2005 - January 2006), 0.52 (January-February 2006), 0.53 (February-April 2006), 0.54 (April-June 2006), 0.55 (June-July 2006), 0.56 (July-September 2006), 0.57 (September-November 2006), 0.58 (November-December 2006), 0.59 (December 2006 - February 2007), 0.60 (February-May 2007), 0.61 (April-May 2007), 0.62 (May-July 2007), 0.63 (July-September 2007), 0.64 (September-November 2007), 0.65 (November 2007 - January 2008), 0.66 (January-March 2008), 0.67 (March-April 2008), 0.68 (April-June 2008), 0.69 (July-August 2008), 0.70 (August-September 2008), 0.71 (September-October 2008), 0.72 (October-November 2008), 0.73 (November 2008 - January 2009), 0.74 (January-February 2009), 0.75 (February-April 2009), 0.76 (April-June 2009), 0.77 (June-August 2009), 0.78 (August-September 2009), 0.79 (September-November 2009), 0.80 (November-December 2009), 0.81 (December 2009 - February 2010), 0.82 (February-April 2010), 0.83 (April-May 2010), 0.84 (May-July 2010), 0.85 (July-September 2010), 0.86 (September-October 2010), 0.87 (October-December 2010), 0.88 (December 2010 - February 2011), 0.89 (February-April 2011), 0.90 (April-June 2011), 0.92 (August-October 2011), ... Current Volume. Send comments and suggestions to z (at) his.com. Thank you! (Copyright © 1999-2011 by Mark Zimmermann.)