^zhurnaly 0.95

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Howdy, pilgrim! No ads — you're in volume 0.95 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 = 0.94 ... 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

2012-03-04 - B&A Marathon

26.2 miles @ ~9.1 min/mi


On Sunday 4 March 2012 the planets come into alignment and I join the Sub-4 Club. The B&A Marathon is a well-organized race sponsored by the Annapolis Striders. For me it's a solo affair, pleasantly uneventful. Cool dry weather. Steady pace. Aggressive fueling, hydration, and electrolyte management. Flat, fast course. Lightweight shoes. Comfy shirt. Warm gloves. Plenty of pockets in shorts and pouches on vest. No stumbles or falls. Happy ending!

The official results put me in 148th place overall of 329 finishers, 10th among the 26 males 55-59 years old, with a 3:59:24 gun time and 3:58:15 chip time, at an average pace of 9:06 min/mi.

Marathon Comparisons

My 17 road marathons over the past decade tell an interesting story. Note in particular the column of differences: in only three cases is the second half faster than the first, a "negative split". Each resulted in a PB (personal best). Hmmmmm!

Event Time First Half Second Half Difference
2012-03-04 - B&A Marathon3:58:15~1:59.5~1:58.8-1
2012-02-19 - George Washington Birthday Marathon4:20:09~1:59.7~2:20.421
2010-11-27 - Northern Central Trail Marathon4:15:34~1:56.4~2:19.223
2009-11-28 - Northern Central Trail Marathon4:01:06~1:56~2:059
2009-10-25 - Marine Corps Marathon4:25:30~2:11.7~2:13:82
2009-02-15 - George Washington Birthday Marathon4:30:20~2:16.5~2:13.8-3
2008-02-17 - George Washington Birthday Marathon4:43:37~2:17.1~2:26.59
2007-02-18 - George Washington Birthday Marathon5:04:30~2:22.8~2:41.719
2006-10-01 - Wineglass Marathon4:59:47~2:24.1~2:35.712
2006-02-19 - George Washington Birthday Marathon4:59:58~2:28.6~2:31.43
2005-11-13 - Rock Creek Park Marathon5:13:00~2:32~2:419
2005-02-20 - George Washington Birthday Marathon4:49:20~2:26.6~2:22.7-4
2004-10-31 - Marine Corps Marathon5:28:30~2:35~2:5520
2004-02-22 - George Washington Birthday Marathon5:11:17~2:33.7~2:37.64
2003-11-09 - Marathon in the Parks5:03:34~2:24.7~2:38.914
2002-11-17 - Marathon in the Parks4:55:09~2:10.8~2:44.434
2002-10-27 - Marine Corps Marathon4:52:59~2:16.9~2:36.119

Observations and Analysis

Two weeks ago I run the GW Birthday Marathon more than 20 minutes slower than today's performance. Yes, the GWBM course is a bit hilly, but I like hills. The weather is virtually identical. So is my gear, and my nutrition. I weigh a couple of pounds more at the B&A. There's a similar amount of training before each, a similar amount of candy in my pockets. The first half of both races take a hair under 2 hours, virtually identical times. The entire difference occurs in the second half, in spite of my subjectively pushing just about as hard. Why did I run out of energy in the GWBM? I have no idea!

Before the B&A I attempt to pick up friend Cara Marie Manlandro's swag for her, since she can't run today with an iffy ankle after her GW Birthday sub-4 triumph. The race officials won't give out gear without a signed letter, so no joy. I wander about, drink water, take an S! e-cap, suck down a gel, and eventually line up with the masses toward the back of the pack. Over a thousand folks are doing the half-marathon today, and over three hundred are trying the marathon. Dozens more choose to start early. Bib color distinguishes the different categories.

More than a minute after the "Go!" signal I cross the starting-line mat and the race begins. I follow CM's prescription, which she reiterates in conversation, voicemail, email, and text-message: begin slowly! The first few miles are in the 9:20's. We zig-zag along neighborhood streets, then join the B&A rail trail heading southward. I catch up with and pass dozens of runners who blasted out too fast and are already regretting it. A young lady with waist-length dreadlocks is ahead of me. "Great dreads!" I compliment her, and tell her that son Robin's are only down to his shoulders at the moment. She counsels patience.

A steady trot for the next half dozen miles brings the GPS cumulative pace display gradually down to 9:05, where I hold it for the rest of the race. At aid stations every few miles I uncap my bottle (thanks, Caren!) and let volunteers dump in Gatorade. To keep my mind occupied, on every hour and half-hour of elapsed time I take an energy gel. At the 15 and 45 minute marks I swallow a Succeed! electrolyte capsule. Aside from a single peppermint candy that I pop in my mouth before the start I don't take any other food from the aid stations, tempting though the munchies sometimes appear. I'm on a mission.

With the race's proximity to the Naval Academy there are flocks of Navy-garbed competitors. "Go Navy!" I say to them, to provoke the obligatory "Beat Army!" countersign. Army runners respond to my "Go Army!" with their compulsory "Hooah!" A few people recognize me and offer greetings, but sadly I don't remember their names. There are lots of Korean runners and Marathon Maniacs, but few visible from MCRRC. A couple of men push cerebral palsy victims in racing prams. I cheer race leaders when I see them approaching on the out-and-backs.

The mysterious feeling of weakness in the right leg reappears between miles 10 and 15. Is it a quadriceps muscle issue? Or something involving the nerves to that area? Or purely in my head? Maybe it's somehow connected, one friend speculates, with the hip adductor tightness that I feel after mile 20?

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/B_and_A_Marathon_2012_splits.gifDuring the second half of the race to rest the weary legs I take a few 15-second walk breaks, but compensate for them by immediately accelerating a bit beyond steady-state pace. As the chart shows my speed is remarkably even. During the final few miles I push a little faster, partially out of concern that my GPS might be in error and I might end up a few seconds slower than four hours. In the end, however, I've got 105 seconds to spare.

Throughout the race whenever I notice tension I consciously tell myself to relax. I hold fingers in a soft Parvati-style mudra, thumbs touching middle fingers. The "Ronin" shoes tied loosely are comfortable, as are the soft New Balance shorts and the Annapolis Striders vest. On heavy rotation in my mental jukebox are Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" and The Coors' "Breathless". Temperatures hold in the mid-40's. Winds are moderate (5-20 mi/hr) and mostly from the northwest. They blow in my face for most of miles 7-19, but I tell myself that I'll enjoy being a leaf in front of them for the final stretch. There's one frustrating moment, near mile 23. An unexpected out-and-back on a side road is required, and I didn't noticed it on the course map. "Are you sure?" I inquire of the race officials who are directing runners off the bikepath and onto the street for a few hundred yards of hairpin bonus distance. They're sure.

The final sprint along town streets takes me back to the high school. I unzip my vest so the finish-line photographers can capture my bib number, just in case the timing chip fails. The official clock is safely under 4 hours — hooray! — so with my start far behind the line I'm safe. After catching my breath I snag a slice of pizza and chat with comrades Jeanne Larrison and Katie Poole, who did the half-marathon, and Chris Powers who finished the marathon near me. I tweet the result and drive home.

On the way I see a car stopped on the shoulder of the highway with someone in running garb bent over next to it. Is he examining the ground, or throwing up? I'm reminded of a dear friend's experience after her first half-marathon. My legs ache, but it's the usual pain (piriformis?) that sitting in the driver's seat provokes, not anything related to the race. No blisters, minimal chafing, relatively little delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), no groaning when descending stairs. Within a few days I'm out running comfortably.

Split Data

Stopwatch and GPS agree, most of the time, to within ~10 seconds. The exceptions are probably due to mis-located mile markers or GPS fluctuation.

Mile GPS Watch Comment Mile GPS Watch Comment
19:279:36149:008:11~0.9 mile from half-marathon marker
29:23?missed mile marker #2159:239:25
39:2218:38total for miles 2 & 3169:018:59
49:069:06179:058:27suspiciously low — is mile marker misplaced?
58:589:04189:049:51compensatingly high
13.1?0:42half marathon marker end 2:411:41final 0.31 mile on GPS, 0.2 mile official marker

GPS trackfile total 3:58:18, watch total 3:58:20, due to my lack of synchronization in starting and stopping them. Official chip time = 3:58:15.

- Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 05:51:43 (EDT)


In the collection of running stories First Marathons (by Gail Waesche Kislevitz) one-legged Dick Traum describes his early racing experiences in a delightful self-deprecating manner:

Now that I was an official member of a running club, I set my sights on my first race, grandly called the Second Annual New York Road Runners YMCA of Greater New York 5-Mile Championship. The entry tag had only a number—no advertising or bar codes, a reflection of the simpler days of road racing. I finished last with a time of 72:49. A CBS camera crew caught sight of me and ran a story about running the race with only one leg. The story was picked up and I became a local hero. In August of that same year I was ready for a half marathon. It was a hot day and again, I finished last in three and a half hours. Bob Glover, our trainer at the Y, ran with me and to cool me off, he kept pouring water over my head. As the race progressed, my leg felt heavier and heavier, but I attributed that to the distance and my fatigue. After the race, when I took off my prosthesis, a quart of water poured out, the run-off of Bob's attempts to keep me cool.

Again, the story of the man with the artificial leg running races made the headlines. I was deemed an inspiration. I suppose that was nice, but I wasn't trying to be inspirational, I was being normal. Every disabled person who does more than get out of bed in the morning and brush his teeth gets a large amount of support. One one level, we are just the same as any able-bodied person who undertakes the same activity. Disabled golfers are just trying to play golf, the same as a disabled skier wants to ski or a disabled runner wants to run. I didn't want to be the official inspirator. That role tends to make the person an outsider, larger than life, and I wasn't.

- Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 04:40:00 (EDT)

It's Not So Bad

How to cut down on stress in today's stress-filled world? One way is to step back, or pop up a level, and realize that things really aren't as crazy as they seem. As a humorous cracked.com essay "5 Reasons Today Isn't Going to Suck" by John Cheese suggests, "#3. It's Not as Bad as You Think". Or more politely and seriously, take Rick Hanson's counsel in "Notice That You Are Alright Right Now" and consciously become aware of the brain's over-anxiety, then counteract it:

The brain's default setting of apprehensiveness is a great way to keep a monkey looking over its shoulder for something about to pounce. But it's a crummy way to live. It wears down well-being, feeds anxiety and depression and makes people play small in life.

Even worse, it's based on a lie.

The muttering of fear tells you implicitly, "Watch out, bad things are happening you're not seeing, don't ever think you're completely OK, never let down your guard."

But take a close look at this moment, right now. You are probably alright: No one is attacking you, you are not drowning, no bombs are falling, there is no crisis. It's not perfect, but you're OK.

By "right now," I really mean this instant. When we go into the future, we worry and plan. When we go into the past, we resent and regret. Threads of fear are woven into the mental tapestries of past and future. Look again at the thin slice of time that is the present. In this moment, are you basically OK? Is breathing OK? Is the heart beating? Is the mind working? The answers are almost certainly yes.

In daily life, it's possible to access this fundamental sense of alrightness even while getting things done. You're not ignoring real threats or issues, or pretending that everything is perfect. It's not. But in the middle of everything, you can usually see that you're actually alright right now.

That's probably better than the Fight Club approach, "After fighting, everything else in your life got the volume turned down." ...

- Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 04:54:42 (EDT)

Alexander Technique

A colleague at the office recently told me about his experiences with the Alexander Technique and how it has helped him become aware of bad postural habits that were causing back pain. It still seems quite mystical and almost incomprehensible, but I like the little I've read about it. In particular, an essay by Jeremy Chance strikes the perfectly paradoxical note about not-doing and not-knowing:

Here's the first fact that makes this technique such an enigma to everyone who studies it: you are not going to learn anything new–everything you will learn you already knew before you started–but you didn't know that you knew. Confused? Good. You are starting to have your first Alexander experience. Get used to it. In fact, if you try to learn something 'new' you will only hamper your progress. Alexander: "Trying is only emphasising the thing you already know." The thing you want to learn is the absence of what you have, and that's nothing. How can an absence of something be something? As my loved and treasured teacher Marjorie Barstow always used to remind me: "All you want is a little bit of nothing. The trouble with all you people is that you all want something. And the something is your habit."

Tres Zen, eh?

- Monday, March 12, 2012 at 04:46:56 (EDT)

How to Take Great Pictures

Ken Rockwell gives excellent advice on what cameras to buy, depending on one's interests and budget, etc. Far more important than that, however, Rockwell debunks common myths. In particular:

Cameras have nothing to do with taking great pictures. To take great pictures, you have to know How to Take Great Pictures. If you know what you're doing, all a better camera does is make it easier, faster and more convenient to take great pictures.

The pictures you take depend on you, not on your camera. Just as your signature is uniquely your own no matter what sort of pen you use, it's the same with pictures and cameras. If you want to take better pictures, your efforts are better spent learning how to take better pictures, not in buying new cameras.

Of course, the same applies to fancy gear for runners ...

- Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 09:53:05 (EDT)

Worst Zen Student That Ever Was

Opening the anthology The Best of Inquiring Mind at random I encountered Susan Moon's delightfully thoughtful essay "The Worst Zen Student That Ever Was", telling of her own up-and-down experiences with Buddhism, reprinted from the Spring 2001 issue (V. 17, n. 2). Severely depressed, she tells of anguish, failed relationships, obsessions, and self-hatred:

Physical pain is hard to describe, and psychic pain is even harder. I was in intense, moment-by-moment pain, and all I wanted was to get away from it. The pain was in the thoughts, which I didn't (and couldn't) recognize as just my thoughts. A voice in my head repeated what I took to be "The Truth": that I would never again love or be loved by another person.


I couldn't eat—a common symptom of depression. It wasn't just loss of appetite. Chewing itself was unbearable. A blob of bread was scary because it got in the way of breathing, and breathing was already hard enough to do. Liquids such as hot milk with honey and Earl Grey tea were more manageable. It occurs to me now that I'd regressed to the stage before I had teeth, when the only kind of eating I could do was sucking.

Like many other depressed people, I didn't sleep well. I clutched my pillow and called out to the flapping curtains for help. I took sleeping pills—sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't. I couldn't read in the night (or the day, either, for that matter) because I couldn't get past the fear to concentrate on anything.

Waking in the morning was the worst of all. The moment consciousness returned, the pain came with it. Oh no! I have to breathe my way through another day.

Moon's tragic story has a happy ending. After years of meditation without relief, she tried medication and found that it helped nudge her brain chemistry into a better configuration. "Zoloft did what zazen didn't do—it quieted the voices in my head: 'I hate him. I hate myself.' It didn't shut them up entirely, but they weren't as loud, and I was sometimes able to turn away from them." She concludes on a note of realism and acceptance, with a lovely image of self (and non-self) awareness:

Now I can say this: there are times in life when nothing helps, when you just have to feel terrible for a while. All you can do is go through the agony and come out the other end of it. It's a gift, in a way, to hit the bottom (though it didn't feel like a gift at the time!). If you lie on the grass, you can't fall down.

Once, when I called Zen teacher Reb Anderson in despair, he came to Berkeley to see me. We sat on a park bench in a children's playground, and he told me, "The universe is already taking care of you." I said this mantra to myself over and over: "The universe is already taking care of me."

I remember a turning moment when, at the end of a hard summer, I was visiting friends on Cape Cod. One late afternoon I walked barefoot and alone down the beach and into the salty water. There were no people about, so I took off my bathing suit in the water and flung it up on the sand. I swam and swam and felt the water touching every part of me. I was in it—no dry place left. I wasn't afraid to be alone with my skin because I wasn't alone; there was nothing, not the width of a cell, between me and the rest of the universe. I did a somersault under the water and looked up at the shiny membrane above me. My head hatched into the light, and I breathed the air and knew that I would be all right. No, not would be, but was already. I was back in my life.

I still don't know why I suffered so much, or why I stopped. I can neither blame my self for the suffering nor take credit for its cessation.

I sit again—I mean on a zafu—but not as much as I used to. I also bow and chant and pray. I've stopped taking Zoloft, though I'd return to it without shame if I thought it would be useful.

I practice curiosity. What is it to be born a human being? What does it mean to be embodied in your separate skin?

I now admit that I sit zazen for a reason: I want to understand who I am (if anybody), and how I'm connected to the rest of it.

- Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 05:23:44 (EST)


A few days ago I saw somebody on the Metro playing with his smartphone, swiping a finger across the screen. How incomprehensible such a simple-today action would be to a watcher from only a few decades ago! Suddenly to mind flashed a scene from Vernor Vinge's short science-fiction story "Original Sin" wherein a character pulls a supercomputer-ish device out of her pocket:

... The pile she placed on the table had no definite form—yet it was almost alive. A thousand shifting colors shone from within it. Except for its size, her 'mam'ri seemed unremarkable. Tsumo plunged her hand into it, and the device searched slowly across the table. ... "Don't be alarmed. I'm only checking to see that—" and she lapsed into Japanese. Old English just isn't up to describing modern technology. "That is, I'm making sure that our ... shield against detection is still working. It is, but even so it doesn't protect us from pre-millennium techniques. So stay away from windows and open places. Also, my o-mamori can't completely protect us against—" She looked at me, puzzled. "How can I explain f'un, Professor?"

(F'un = 不運 is bad luck in Japanese; nowadays an omamori is a Buddhist or Shinto good-luck charm, an amulet; the word "mamori" means "protector" or "defender" ....)

- Friday, March 09, 2012 at 04:31:03 (EST)

2012-03-01 - Blair HS Track Night Laps

~3 miles @ ~8.3 min/mi

After picking up Chinese carry-out for the starving masses Robin and I go to the Blair High School track and start running. Cara Marie Manlandro has told me to "descend" in pace, and that's the recipe in the darkness, with a first-quarter moon high overhead plus minimal illumination from lights at the football field and parking lot nearby. The GPS trackfile (adjusted to add ~9 seconds per mile, making up for its too-generous distance estimate) says 9:40 ⇒ 8:05 ⇒ 7:15. It's gloomy-spooky, with faint moonshadows underfoot and an unidentified third silent person doing slow laps.

- Thursday, March 08, 2012 at 06:04:08 (EST)

Young Mark Zimmermann

http://zhurnaly.com/images/Mark_Zimmermann_young.jpgAnother photo of young Mark Zimmermann, age unknown (4?), from Mom's photo album.

(cf. Mark Zimmermann, Age 3, Mark Zimmermann, Age 7, Encyclopedia Mark, Sixth Grade Photo, High School Suit, High School Grad, ... )

- Wednesday, March 07, 2012 at 04:34:04 (EST)

Running Friendships

In Gail Waesche Kislevitz's collection of essays First Marathons Tony Baucum tells of training with a new acquaintance, John Brineman:

The best part of training was becoming close with John. Running was the vehicle that cemented our friendship. We'd discuss religion, and we both felt our faith coming alive. John had lots of questions for me, so we constantly challenged each other's assumptions. And there were other common grounds we discovered, such as the blues and jazz. ...


In essence, our training and time together became a collaboration. I can't think of the marathon without thinking of John. It's a time when our friendship flourished, and even after I moved, our friendship continued to grow. Running, more than any other sport, allows the intensity of a relationship to come through. Sweating and pounding pavement side by side for hours is more time spent with a friend than, say, skiing or tennis or even golf.

- Tuesday, March 06, 2012 at 04:34:08 (EST)

Inquiring Mind

The 2008 book The Best of Inquiring Mind: Twenty-Five Years of Dharma, Drama, & Uncommon Insight is a fascinating album of snapshots from a donation-supported long-lived journal of Buddhist thought. In the front-page interview with Joseph Goldstein, from Volume 1 Number 1 in December 1983, there's a representative sample of humor when teacher Goldstein brushes off a compliment about his unassuming demeanor:

I think part of that has to do with the feeling of still being very much on the path, without any illusions at all of having come to a place of completion. Every time I watch my mind, as with most people who watch their minds, I am reminded of the saying that self-knowledge is usually bad news. When one is sitting, in addition to the incredible purity of the Dharma field in which it's happening, what one sees so clearly and so explicitly and without compromise is the junk of the mind, all the defilements that are still there.

I had to chuckle at the quip, so true in my case: "Self-knowledge is usually bad news." More quotes to follow ...

(cf. Inquiring Mind web site, ...)

- Monday, March 05, 2012 at 04:37:57 (EST)

2012-02-26 - RRCA 10 Mile Club Challenge

10 miles @ 7.8 min/mi

Up at 0430, breakfast of coffee and a Greek yogurt and a mini-Snickers candy bar. At ~0615 I jog and walk to the Forest Glen Metro station and arrive at 0625, just as Don Libes pulls in with Ken Swab. Soon thereafter Barry Smith and his daughter Natalie Sayth appear. We all ride in Don's van to Columbia MD. Race bib pickup in the Howard County Community College gymnasium is fast and efficient. Christina Caravoulias takes photos; Ken sneaks up on Chris and her friend to hold up devil-fingers behind their heads and jinx one picture. I suck down an energy gel. The ladies' restroom in the gym floods and we tiptoe out through half-inch-deep water in the lobby.

Then the chilly march down the road to the starting line. Far back in the crowd Debbie Shulman and I chat. As runners begin to move slowly forward we ask each other, "Did they say 'Go'?!?". I hit the button on my GPS as we cross the line, about 10 seconds after the official start. Then, as in the same race two years ago, the urge is irresistible: gotta take advantage of the downhills and push the pace. Approaching mile marker #1 I catch up with Natalie and chat with her. She runs near me for a bit, then slows. Layered and hooded against the elements, Betty Smith is outbound as I'm returning from the first neighborhood loop: we salute each other. At mile ~8 I catch up with Tom Young and tell him I'm ready to drop. His encouraging banter keeps me charging up the hills. Sarah Buckheit, another friendly rival, greets me as I come up behind her in the last mile. At the finish line the official clock ticks just past 1:18:00 before I can dash across the timing mats. Volunteers distribute RRCA runner gloves. I stuff them into my shorts for warmth. With banana and coffee in hand, and cookies and sample yogurt tube in windbreaker pocket, I head back up-course to cheer other runners into their finish.


The course: downhill for the first half and uphill coming back. GPS trackfile splits: 7:27 ⇒ 7:46 ⇒ 7:42 ⇒ 7:37 ⇒ 7:46 ⇒ 8:00 ⇒ 7:33 ⇒ 7:56 ⇒ 7:56 ⇒ 7:39 — but these should have ~3 seconds added to each to correct for GPS distance measurement error.

Official time is 1:18:00.94 and personal GPS "chip time" is 1:17:51, a monster PB improvement from 1:19:06 in the 2010-02-28 - RRCA 10 Miler on this same course and 1:18:41 at the 2012-01-07 - DCRRC Al Lewis 10 Miler Race seven weeks ago.

- Sunday, March 04, 2012 at 04:38:05 (EST)

Email 1987

Before the Internet, there was the ARPANET, with bridges to BITNET and UUNET and other networks of computers. For email to crawl from site to site routes had to be explicit, so addresses looked like decvax!savax!mf@ucbvax.berkeley.edu and davis%wanginst.edu@relay.cs.net and bptpcapb%uiamvs.bitnet@wiscvm.wisc.edu and vinge%sdsu.UUCP@sdcsvax.ucsd.edu. Recently in an archive of DECUS (Digital Equipment Corporation User Society) traffic I found a message that I sent a quarter of a century ago to a flock of acquaintances. It was the source code for a program to compute statistical correlations among words in big files, part of an information retrieval project I was working on at that time. I don't recognize most of the names I sent the message to, but "vinge" is probably Vernor Vinge and "despain" is Al Despain. At the time I was called "science".

13-Jul-87 06:57:57-MDT,20882;000000000000
Return-Path: <science@nems.ARPA>
Received: from nems.ARPA by SIMTEL20.ARPA with TCP; Mon, 13 Jul 87 06:57:03 MDT
Received: by nems.ARPA id AA02207; Mon, 13 Jul 87 08:33:15 edt
Message-Id: <8707131233.AA02207@nems.ARPA>
Date: 13 Jul 87 08:32 EDT
From: science@nems.ARPA (Mark Zimmermann)
Subject: correl.13t3.c program listing
To: kotelly@mitre.ARPA, research@nems.ARPA, cperry@mitre.ARPA,
        mike@media-lab.media.mit.edu, gergely@drea-xx.ARPA,
        decvax!savax!mf@ucbvax.berkeley.edu, pbr%pco@bco-multics.ARPA,
        microsof!brianc@beaver.cs.washington.edu, dlcdev!glenn@eddie.mit.edu,
        mbj@hq.lcs.mit.edu, ed298-ca@violet.berkeley.edu,
        despain@ucbvax.berkeley.edu, science@nems.ARPA, master@nems.ARPA,
        programs@nems.ARPA, rthum@simtel20.ARPA,
        davis%wanginst.edu@relay.cs.net, kersch%gmuvax.bitnet@wiscvm.wisc.edu,
        vinge%sdsu.UUCP@sdcsvax.ucsd.edu, rada@mcs.nlm.nih.gov
Cc: science@nems.ARPA

Appended below, gods of UNIX willing, is a C program to take an inverted index
in my simpleminded format and perform statistical correlations on chosen
words in that index ... as with the indexer.c program, it seems to run fine
on a VAX, a Sun workstation, and on the Macintosh ... any and all bug
reports and critiques of my C coding style would be appreciated, as would
comments "Don't send me any more of this stuff!" .... ^z

The rest is C ...

(cf. [1], ...)

- Saturday, March 03, 2012 at 10:38:57 (EST)

2012-02-23 - Laps at SSIMS

~4 miles @ ~8.2 min/mi

The track at Silver Spring International Middle School, 5:30pm on a warm weekday evening: moms pushing baby carriages, kids kicking soccer balls along and across the lanes, toddlers learning to walk, a pair of scarf-wrapped Islam-observant ladies strolling side-by-side, children pedaling tricycles and coasting on scooters, ... and a few runners. For six ~800m repeats the GPS trackfile shows brisk times of 3:39 ⇒ 3:39 ⇒ 3:42 ⇒ 3:43 ⇒ 3:39 ⇒ 3:34 with that fastest last interval aided by Robin pacing me.

- Friday, March 02, 2012 at 04:36:09 (EST)

Ted Corbitt on Running

In the book First Marathons among the stories that author Gail Waesche Kislevitz shares is that of Ted Corbitt (1919-2007), legendary ultrarunner. In spite of huge barriers, Ted persevered with a positive, low-key attitude. He says, "British runners call distance running 'having a go at it.' They have a wonderful spirit about them. I always considered ultramarathoning a disease and the British had it with fever to spare." He concludes his autobiographical sketch in that same spirit:

I look back at when I was running in the thirties and forties, when most people weren't interested in it. Now I read that we are going through another fitness craze. I am flabbergasted by such things. Running is something you just do. You don't need a goal, you don't need a race, you don't need the hype of a so-called fitness craze. All you need is a cheap pair of shoes and some time. The rest will follow.

- Thursday, March 01, 2012 at 04:34:25 (EST)


Chapter 4 of Moon Over Water describes the purpose of certain meditation exercises, "... mental disciplines aimed at achieving a state of intently concentrated and yet relaxed stillness within ourselves ... an open space in the mind". Author Jessica Macbeth then notes:

The circle symbol used in the illustrations is called enso in Japanese. The Zen calligrapher uses it to symbolize the state of mystical union — "empty yet full, infinite, luminous, complete". In the West, the circle has long been the sign of something that is endless, complete in itself, perfect. As used here, it is a symbol of that open space in the mind, the state of perfect stillness, as silent and reflective as the moon. Let us think for just a moment about what else might happen in this still, open space. Imagery and healing may happen or be evoked in the still and concentrated quiet. Images that occur or are deliberately called forth may be used to help us with self-exploration, self-healing, and relaxation; to gain insight; and to receive inspiration. Images may be visual, as people most often think of them, but they may also be auditory or kinesthetic — that is, we may see, hear, or feel them.

Insight, information, and inspiration may also come into the silent mind in other forms — as if we were remembering something we had once experienced or learned, or simply as a sudden thought, a burst of knowing. These things enter the busy-mind only with great difficulty, and then usually only when there is an interruption to its busy-ness and a momentary silence. This is yet another reason why these exercises, which teach the mind stillness and develop the openness necessary to self-awareness and psychic and spiritual growth, are so valuable.

- Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 04:34:41 (EST)


Another item for the Humorous Transportation-related Lingo File: AIS, a new-to-me acronym used by a running buddy in the phrase "06:30 AIS". Associated with a time of departure for a journey, "AIS" is an oblique way to demand "Ass In Seat", or in other words, "sharp" or "exactly". But "cheeks in seats" with its repeated long-E sounds is more assonant, if off by a factor of two when counting bodies. And in the other direction, "Souls On Board" as an occupancy metric for ships or aircraft is an artful phrase useful to disguise a less-polite acronym that crew might use to describe troublesome passengers.

(cf. CrudeMetrics (2003-02-09), Assonance Mnemonic (2010-07-05), ...)

- Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 04:33:10 (EST)

Sarcophagus Sales

Sign seen on the side of a truck in Boston recently:

Commonwealth Casket Company
      Symbol of Your Love

- Monday, February 27, 2012 at 04:34:12 (EST)

2012-02-19 - George Washington Birthday Marathon 2012

26.2 miles @ ~10 min/mi

Great news: dear running friend Cara Marie Manlandro smashes through the 4-hour barrier and runs today's GWBM in an amazing 3:53:56 to join comrades Kate Abbott and Jennifer Weiland in the elite sub-4 circle. Brava, CM!

Sad news: CM rolls her ankle badly within sight of the finish line and may not be able to run the B&A Marathon with me in early March. Boo-hoo!

Predictable news: As usual I start off too fast, lose energy during the middle half of the race, and in spite of pushing hard for the final miles only manage to finish in 4:20:09. It's my third-fastest marathon thus far, and improves my course PR by 10 minutes over the 2009-02-15 - Washington Birthday Marathon that CM and I did together, her first marathon ever. Given the hills of the GWBM, which some folks say make it 15 minutes slower than a flat course, I did OK.

Pre-Race: Ken Swab kindly picks me up and gives me a ride to the Greenbelt Community Center where the event begins. He and buddy Jennifer Weiland take the hour-early start. Caroline Williams, silver hair shining to match her smile, greets me at registration and gives me a hug; with her permission I pick her up and can't believe how light she is. I give her and Jennifer a couple of Snickers candy mini-bars at the starting line, which reminds Caroline of how I saved her at mile ~35 of the 2011-11-19 - Stone Mill 50 Miler DNF with the same gift. In spite of my best efforts, while cheering the early-start runners I inadvertently walk too close to the timing mats, which pick up the electromagnetic tags in my bib and record me likewise as an early starter in the DC Road Runner Club preliminary race results. Back at the Rec Center, Jay Wind in line ahead of me at the men's room admits that he has a three-decade streak of GWBM finishes to extend. Jennifer Bevan-Dangel sits with CM and me, and during conversation we discover that she ran the Frederick Marathon with CM in 2009, a tough year of frigid rain. CM warms up for the race by working on SAT practice math test questions. I look over her shoulder and suggest answers to the geometry and algebra puzzles.

In the Event: CM and I start together at 10:30am. My feet feel frisky and I dash ahead for the downhill initial miles, fantasizing that today is a sub-9 min/mi pace day for me. Reality intervenes after ~11 miles when my energy level falls and I slow to the 10-11+ min/mi zone. Somewhere before the half-marathon mark, which I cross in ~2 hours, CM passes me. Neither of us notices the other. I suck down an energy gel and swallow a Succeed! electrolyte capsule every half hour. They ward off my nemesis, leg cramps, but I still get mysterious feelings of weakness in my right quadriceps intermittently after mile 15. Later I also get tight hip adductors — not flexors, as CM laughingly corrects me when I apologize for pointing to them. At mid-race my goal shifts from 4:00 to 4:15, and degrades again when at mile 22 I decide to just go for a sub-10 min/mi overall average, 4:22. Pushing hard to run up the final hills I make that target.

Postscript: After crossing the finish line I amuse onlookers by managing to bend over and pick up an empty plastic bag on the ground. "That was harder than the race!" I say. Rebecca Tsai of New York City finishes five minutes ahead of me. We walk together back to the Greenbelt Rec Center and chat; I learn that Becky ran the JFK 50 miler and is hoping to improve her time on that and perhaps in other ultramarthons. Ken and CM and her husband George greet me. We compare notes, eat, drink, and head for home.

Data: The GPS trackfile is high by ~1% in distance, so on the average its pace data is low by ~6 seconds/mile. Most of the error seemed to appear during the first half dozen miles. Splits according to the GPS: 8:40 ⇒ 8:20 ⇒ 8:55 ⇒ 9:01 ⇒ 8:53 ⇒ 9:17 ⇒ 8:56 ⇒ 9:14 ⇒ 9:20 ⇒ 9:00 ⇒ 9:07 ⇒ 9:43 ⇒ 9:58 ⇒ 10:07 ⇒ 9:56 ⇒ 10:43 ⇒ 10:31 ⇒ 10:28 ⇒ 11:09 ⇒ 10:56 ⇒ 11:36 ⇒ 10:51 ⇒ 10:28 ⇒ 10:32 ⇒ 10:20 ⇒ 10:39 plus 8:23 pace for final ~0.4 mile fraction.

Conclusion: Yes, I shouldn't compare myself to other people — especially not to an elite retired long-distance swimmer (CM), nor to young, hard-training, fast, tough ladies (Kate & Jennifer) — especially when I'm almost 60 years old and do only ~25 miles/week. But hmmm: since each extra pound I carry costs ~1 minute in marathon time (~2 sec/lb/mi) if I can lose 20 lbs. from my current upper-140s tonnage then I'm nearly sub-4, eh? And maybe doing zero (0) mileage between 5 Feb and race day, to let my injured right metatarsals heal, was a suboptimal taper? Guess there are still some opportunities for improvement ...


(Mark Zimmermann at GWBM'12 near the mile 22 Aid Station — photo by Bengal Richter)

(cf. Washington Birthday Marathon 2004, Washington Birthday Marathon 2005, Washington Birthday Marathon 2006, Washington Birthday Marathon 2007, Washington Birthday Marathon 2008, 2009-02-15 - Washington Birthday Marathon, ...)

- Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 05:15:28 (EST)

Five Fortune Cookies

Recent Chinese fortune-cookie comments:

Alas, none of these prognostications presaged a sub-four-hour marathon for me, at least not thus far. On the opposite side of the solar system, however, ^z on Counter-Earth got the fortune:

You may attend a party where strange customs prevail.


(cf. UnfortuneCookies (2007-12-04), Zhurnal 10th Anniversary (2009-04-25), Neurosexism Critique (2011-02-16), MetaFortune Cookie (2011-04-22), Hidden Mystery (2011-07-17), ...)

- Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 11:57:28 (EST)

Post-Marathon Syndrome

Earlier this week, after running the George Washington's Birthday Marathon on Sunday, I had Post-Marathon Syndrome (PMS): headache, cramps, weight gain, mental fog — and no desire to run, ever again. But already amnesia has set in and the physical symptoms are fading. Last evening I hit the track for speedwork. There's a 10-miler this Sunday and another marathon the following weekend. Bring it!

- Friday, February 24, 2012 at 04:41:42 (EST)

Norman Foster Ramsey Jr

A gentle, striking, inspirational obituary appears in Physics Today magazine, February 2012 issue. By Daniel Kleppner, it begins:

Norman Foster Ramsey Jr, a towering figure of physics in the second half of the 20th century, died on 4 November 2011 at age 96. Ramsey was widely esteemed for his scientific contributions, his achievements as a statesman of science, and his teaching. He is best known for inventing the separated oscillatory field method and the hydrogen maser, for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1989, but those were just two of his many contributions. ...

... and after a discussion of scientific accomplishments, notes:

Ramsey made a strong impression on most everyone he met. A handsome, tall man with a broad smiling face and an open and friendly manner, he loved to tell stories with a booming voice that was legendary. Once, a visitor passing his office inquired about the noise. Told that it was Ramsey talking to someone in Chicago, he inquired, "Why doesn't Ramsey use a phone?"

It concludes:

Even as Ramsey's health declined in his final years, his cheerful disposition and optimistic outlook never deserted him. As one of his students put it, Norman Ramsey was a role model for everything.

(cf. McGs (2002-02-28), Physics Today Obits (2010-10-20), Sam Hurst Obituary (2011-02-23), ...)

- Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 04:40:18 (EST)

Metro Mindfulness

Down-deep-dark in the womb of the subway station —
Swaying, breathing, watching thoughts flow by
On imagination's screen — and in the distance
Rattle-thrum-rumble grows into roar as a train
Approaches — like a tidal wave of consciousness
Receding from the beach and gathering itself to crash
Upon the sand — like a thundercloud, rising
Higher, tighter, sparkling with electric tension —
Like the network connecting all life, all mind, reflecting
Glows, flashes, lighthouse-beacons of awareness —

- Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 04:41:50 (EST)

Monetary Veil

A major source of confusion in modern life: focus on money, the medium of exchange, instead of actual stuff (goods and services) that people make and trade and consume. Productivity is important — how much stuff is being made per person. Distribution of wealth and income is important — how stuff is shared around. Employment is important — how many people are at work creating stuff. Stop making stuff, or distribute it unfairly, or leave large numbers of folks out of the process, and society is in big trouble. Money-related phenomena — inflation rates, international trade balances, governmental deficits, the stock market, etc. — aren't really significant, except if they mess up productivity, income distribution, or employment. It's hard, but vital, to see through the monetary veil and pay attention to real things.

(cf. BasementWorries (2002-06-15), ...)

- Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 04:35:31 (EST)

Expect Nothing

Long long ago, in high school I think it was, somebody gave me a pin-on button that simply read:

Expect Nothing

It strangely appealed to me. I don't know why. At some point I lost it. But it came to mind again in Chapter 27 of Jessica Macbeth's primer on meditation Moon Over Water when, in discussing self-doubt she says:

When we are meditating, it is helpful to expect nothing and just simply do the exercise. If we are doing the exercise, we are doing the right thing.

Earlier Macbeth expands on the theme in Chapter 25, "Setting Goals":

Inner journeys of this nature are made for the sake of the journey itself — not for some imaginary goal at the equally imaginary end. Meditation is part of a life-long process. The only way we can 'fail' with our meditation exercises is not to do them. We an also inhibit the amount of benefit we may obtain from doing them by constantly criticising ourselves for not 'succeeding' at meditation. Self-criticism, impatience, frustration all work against us , they are both self-created and unnecessary. Success is easy — it is just taking time to do our practice every day.

Regular practice is in itself success.

(cf. This Is It (2008-11-14), Without Effort, Analysis, or Expectation (2010-08-04), ...)

- Monday, February 20, 2012 at 04:29:50 (EST)

2012-02-05 - Sligo - University - Connecticut - Rock Creek Loop

~10 miles @ ~8.4 min/mi

"Mizuo Wave Ronin 3" — new shoes from the half-price room at RnJ Sports — call out for a road test. My cold/cough/congestion is still troublesome, but by mid-afternoon with a cup of coffee in me I'm feeling chipper enough to undertake a trek in the ~45°F Sunday weather. A "ronin" is a masterless samurai, and I'm feeling that way myself. The remaindered-model shoes are size 12.5 and feel comfortable and ultra-light, according to spec only ~8 oz. each. Old feetsies feel like they're floating, and by the GPS trackfile miles click by scary fast: 8:11 ⇒ 8:05 ⇒ 8:21 ⇒ 8:37 ⇒ 8:44 (slight pauses to cross major roads in downtown Wheaton) ⇒ 8:02 ⇒ 8:22 ⇒ 8:00 ⇒ 8:07 ⇒ 9:00 (climb from Rock Creek) plus a fast bit at the end. Nice New Balance pocket-shorts are cosy-sleek. Dog-walkers and other pedestrians, plus a few runners, are out in force pre-Super Bowl on the creek paths. Parking lots at supermarkets are crowded with last-minute shoppers.

(Footnote: all's well the next day, but on Tuesday 7 Feb the metatarsal bones on the outside-top of the right foot are hurting, enough to provoke a limp even walking around the office. Stress fracture? Hope not! But no running for the next dozen days, an abrupt "taper" before the 19 Feb George Washington's Birthday Marathon. By the next weekend the pain has faded; perhaps it was just some bruising or dislocation due to too-tight lacing or too-fast pacing?)

- Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 05:55:48 (EST)

First Marathons

First Marathons: Personal Encounters With the 26.2-Mile Monster by Gail Waesche Kislevitz, is a 1997 collection of experiences told by a wide spectrum of runners. A few are famous or elite, many are ordinary folks, and some overcame staggering obstacles to have a go at the distance. At the back of the book half a dozen coaches each give one page of idiosyncratic advice. My favorite is the meta-counsel by Don Kardong who begins by noting:

The key to running a good marathon is to not listen to anyone's advice the last week before the race. That's when people tend to do stupid things that disrupt all the input and training of the previous months. They're looking for some magical food or special tip to improve their performance and it's just not going to happen that way. If someone tells you to eat a plate of kelp and drink a quart of eggnog to cut minutes off your time, just say no. Stay cool. I've known more people who say after the marathon, "That race went well, but gee, I shouldn't have cut my toenails at the last minute like my friend suggested, because they bled the whole time." Or, "Gee, I shouldn't have worn those new shorts that looked so great at the expo last night, because they cut into my thighs for twenty miles."

(cf. Running Advice (2003-10-02), And Then the Vulture Eats You (2004-12-09), Running Through the Wall (2005-01-23), Relentless Forward Progress (2011-06-13), ...)

- Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 08:16:02 (EST)

2012-02-04 - Rock Creek - Derwood to NIH with CM

~14 miles @ ~9.9 min/mi

Reversal from last weekend: today Cara Marie Manlandro is suffering, and she's not a whiner. After doing 30+ miles since last Sunday, and celebrating a birthday, within the first few miles in the dark from her home CM mentions tight hamstrings. They get worse as we trot around Lake Needwood. Then CM's quads join the chorus of complaint.

Geese honk and flocks of ducks quack as they paddle on the water. Cars pass us and, when we reach Rock Creek Trail and begin to head downstream on the paved path, runners whom we pass greet us and note that they saw us on the road. The chorus of Rihanna's "We Found Love" is on heavy rotation in my head; CM reports that The Who are playing "Teenage Wasteland" in hers. A couple stretching by Strathmore/Knowles Rd in Kensington remember us from last week's run and ask if we're heading for the Capital Crescent Trail again. "Maybe," I respond.

Earlier this week, at the Value Village thrift store near College Park, I was looking for tights or leggings — I can't bear to spend $80+ on new ones — but found none that looked likely to fit. Instead, I scored a pair of extremely nice New Balance women's (or maybe unisex) running shorts: they're comfy, made of soft, technical fabric and have pockets that CM admires with envy. Today I carry water bottle in hand and fill those pockets and the Annapolis Striders vest pouches with energy gels, Succeed! e-caps, candy, a tin of grease, etc. It's good practice for marathons coming up in a few weeks, and somewhat lighter than wearing my usual bum-bag/fanny-pack.

By the time we reach Ken-Gar, mile ~10, CM's pain is bad enough that we change plans: instead of doing 20 miles to Bethesda, I suggest branching southwest at Cedar Lane and ending our run at the National Institutes of Health, where a convenient Metro station will get us back to CM's home and my car. When we get to Cedar I note that we've done a half marathon in 2:10, which only a couple of years ago was my personal record. Now it's a training pace. The down escalator isn't working so we gingerly descend the ~200 foot escalator. CM is shivering on the platform so I lend her the windbreaker that I wore for the first few miles, then tied around my waist.

While we're awaiting the train a man with a cane limps toward us us. He notes CM's Parks Half Marathon 2011 shirt and tells us that he ran that race too, and is planning to do the George Washington's Birthday Marathon in a few weeks. So are we! I assume he's a slower runner, but after a little conversation he reveals that he hopes to run it in 3 hours — turns out he's Leonard Tchuindjo who last year did the PHM in 1:37, the Richmond Marathon in a little over 3:10, and the Marine Corps Marathon in a bit under 3:20. "We are not worthy!" I tell him, and salute.

After a nice ride to Shady Grove and another stressful descent of a flight of stairs, CM and I jog the ~0.8 miles back to her home and discuss plans for the next few weeks. Today's GPS trackfile splits: 9:51 ⇒ 9:43 ⇒ 9:30 ⇒ 10:14 ⇒ 9:24 ⇒ 9:23 ⇒ 9:24 ⇒ 10:32 ⇒ 10:20 ⇒ 10:10 ⇒ 9:28 ⇒ 10:19 ⇒ 9:22 ⇒ 11:00

- Friday, February 17, 2012 at 05:59:06 (EST)


In Moon Over Water Jessica Macbeth uses a new-to-me word — plangent — in Chapter 47, as she talks about "learning to love ourselves" and the process of putting the pieces of one's fragmented self together:

... Imagine the change in energy if you were in a room with many people, all babbling away about their own concerns, and gradually everyone began to hum the same note, until they were all singing one bright, plangent tone. ...

And in Chapter 50, in talking about how "through meditation sometimes and through 'grace' at others, we come completely into focus", the word appears again as she describes that unity:

... In meditation we bring those notes closer and closer, until finally there is only one sweet, plangent bell ringing out out through time and space. ...

The word "plangent" resonates in my inner eye; the dictionary says it describes a loud, reverberating tone. Is that the sound of Om?

- Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 04:38:29 (EST)

2012-02-02 - Groundhog Day Loop

~4 miles @ ~8.3 min/mi

Crimson sun hangs halfway through the horizon, scarlet beams sucking the color out of the old red stone Church of St John the Evangelist. I'm blasting downhill on the last mile home, trying to pull the average pace down to make up for the climb along Stoneybrook Dr past the Mormon Temple. It's a comfortable winter afternoon, temperature ~50°F, and the miles by the GPS go briskly 8:13 ⇒ 8:42 ⇒ 8:24 ⇒ 7:48 plus a final fraction.

(cf. GPS trackfile, ...)

- Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 05:36:48 (EST)

High School Grad

http://zhurnaly.com/images/Mark_Zimmermann_graduation_1970.jpgIn case there's any doubt, here's photographic evidence from 1970 that I did graduate from John H. Reagan High School. I was Valedictorian and gave a two-minute commencement speech, wherein I advised my classmates to light candles rather than curse darkness — but also recommended against burning those candles at both ends. Unlike Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, my remarks were drafted one quiet night at the drive-in movie theater where I was working in the snack bar.

(cf. BookhouseBoy (1999-09-29), ...)

- Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 05:07:41 (EST)

2012-01-31 - Intervals at UM

~4 miles @ ~8.9 min/mi

Daughter Gray is working at the University of Maryland library, and now that the new semester has started Marathon Deli is open for carry-out, so as soon as I get home it's quick-change into running gear head out, accompanied by son Robin, to Kehoe Track at Ludwig Field for speedwork. Two-lap repeats take 3:46 ⇒ 3:32 ⇒ 3:35 ⇒ 3:31 ⇒ 3:40 ⇒ 3:36 and by the final ones I'm hoping that Gray gets out early to give me an excuse to stop. Lane #2 by the GPS makes for distances that vary 0.52-0.55 miles, higher than likely. Robin runs the first lap with me and then does his own intervals, his first training in some time. Other UM students jog or sprint past. A gusty wind from the south feels good on the straightaway in that direction.

(cf. GPS trackfile, ...)

- Monday, February 13, 2012 at 04:34:04 (EST)

Moon Over Water

Of all the mindfulness-enlightenment manuals I've picked up at the used-book sale in recent years, Jessica Macbeth's Moon Over Water: The Path of Meditation is both the most mystical and the most hard-headed. It begins with an image of mind, "The Plain of Reflections", and ends with far more questions than answers. Along the way it maps out a host of methods and explores scores of metaphors. The final section flirts with defining enlightenment and concludes with a lovely butterfly-dance:

Are we like fish looking up through the surface and seeing a bird fly, trying to explain it in terms we can understand? When we get there, will we even recognize it ourselves?

One thing I suspect is that having had the mystical experience is not the criterion by which we can measure true enlightenment. I know too many people, myself included, who have had such experiences and still obviously have a lot of work to do on themselves. Some people have one such experience and seem to think that's it — and they stop right there, camping on the mountain and refusing to notice the heights they have not yet scaled. I do know that reaching the Place of Light, however briefly, leaves its mark on people — but so does climbing the mountain, even part of the way.

I used to think that an enlightened person was one who lived with the fierce, blazing light of mystical union as the bedrock of consciousness all the time, and who had no shadows within himself to block it out, but now — well, I just don't know. But if I keep working at it, I'll eventually find out.

More quotes and notes from Moon Over Water to follow ...

- Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 10:04:24 (EST)

Watching Things

The recent Plain White T's pop song "Rhythm of Love" by Tim Lopez is sweet, catchy, thoughtful. It begins:

My head is stuck in the clouds
She begs me to come down
Says, "Boy, quit foolin' around"
I told her, "I love the view from up here
Warm sun and wind in my ear
We'll watch the world from above
As it turns to the rhythm of love"

When I hear it I'm reminded of my favorite image from the underappreciated 1974 movie Dark Star by John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon. One of the characters in a pointlessly-roaming space ship, a guy named Talby, spends all his time in the observation dome marveling at the universe around him. From the original script:

You see, I can watch things up here, Doolittle. I love to watch things, just stare at the planets and meteors and asteroids, gas clusters ...

And as Yogi Berra reputedly said, "You can observe a lot by watching."

(cf. the video clip and the script, CollegeCollage3 (2001-09-29), GlassDarkly (2003-01-01), PrimeFocus (2006-03-17), ...)

- Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 08:45:08 (EST)

2012-01-29 - Loop with CM

~18 miles @ ~9.8 min/mi

It's 0445 and I"m eating Burton's Digestive Biscuits with Nutella slathered on them. I tell Cara Marie Manlandro in an email and she replies, "Yup me too :) see you in a bit!" Presumably she's up and about, not coincidentally having the same strange breakfast!? We start from my front steps a little after 6:35am, as soon as it's bright enough to see our way. Five deer cross Rock Creek Trail in front of us near the Kensington Parkway. Ice on puddles along RCT make for mini-slips but no falls. A cluster of MCRRC XMP runners are gathered in downtown Bethesda and salute us as we run their gauntlet on our way to the CCT. We then pass two big flocks of lady runners in training groups who are jogging down the CCT.

CM takes a Succeed! e-cap every ~3 miles. I drop a glove in downtown Bethesda, retreat to pick it up, then lose another one along River Road but don't see it as I look back. My little baggie with S! caps falls out unseen from the Annapolis Striders vest pouch-pocket. On Military Rd in DC we proceed east toward Rock Creek. Construction at the Nebraska Av crossing blocks the sidewalk. CM hesitates but follows me as I jump down into the ditch and creep between the big orange traffic-barrier barrels and under the yellow band of caution tape.

I'm getting exhausted, and at mile ~14 CM kindly gives me her last S! as we approach Wise Road climbing Beach Dr — thank you! A mysterious feeling of weakness in the right quad that occurred at mile ~13 yesterday troubles me about the same point today. The GPS trackfile gives our splits: 10:34 ⇒ 9:55 ⇒ 9:23 ⇒ 10:23 ⇒ 10:15 ⇒ 9:23 ⇒ 9:29 ⇒ 9:05 ⇒ 9:44 ⇒ 9:12 ⇒ 9:27 ⇒ 9:22 ⇒ 12:15 ⇒ 9:13 ⇒ 9:22 ⇒ 9:29 ⇒ 10:26 ⇒ 8:54. We blitz out the final mile near my home. Afterwards I find I've lost only ~1.5 lbs, down from a bit above 145 to a bit below according to the digital scale. I shower, eat 4 eggs, a slice of Swiss cheese, and an Icelandic yogurt. Then it's time to set up the bread machine to make a loaf of French bread, start the washing machine going with the sweaty clothes from the run, and take a siesta.

- Friday, February 10, 2012 at 04:44:17 (EST)

Zen Soup

The 1997 collection of quotations Zen Soup: Tasty Morsels of Wisdom from Great Minds East & West by Laurence G. Boldt is thin gruel at best: no index, though the table of contents lists one; pedestrian selections, some badly translated, most without that excuse; poor organization, with near-arbitrary chapter categories; minimal connection to Zen, in spite of the title.

Saving grace? Well, there is plenty of of whitespace between the words. And one proverb near the end of the penultimate chapter leaps out, from Bodhidharma:

Vast emptiness, nothing sacred.

Kinda important, worth more thought: the space between. Vacuum defines all that it surrounds. Not soup, but the bowl that once held it.

(cf. No Concepts At All (2001-02-22), DalaiLamaBirthdayGift (2004-08-24), Kenosis (2008-09-21), ...)

- Thursday, February 09, 2012 at 05:42:06 (EST)

2012-01-28 - Capital Crescent Trail with Rebecca and Sara

~15 miles @ ~11 min/mi

At 7:30am a woman in black is doing a runner's stretch against the rear bumper of a mini-van in the downtown Bethesda parking lot by the Capital Crescent Trail. As I drive by I wave tentatively, and tentatively she waves back. Is it Sara Crum? Park, gear up, trek back, and discover that yes, indeed it's Sara — and she wasn't sure of my identity since she didn't expect to ever see me arrive via automobile. A few minutes later Rebecca Rosenberg runs up to join us, having leapt out of her friend An's car at the nearby traffic light. Out and back ~2 miles we trot, enjoying the freezing morning temperatures. Gayatri Datta appears heading the other way, with Mary Laux. They started running ~7am. We return, do an out-and-back again with Gayatri and Mary, then join Ken Swab, Barry Smith, Emaad Burki, and some other friends of Emaad's. One of them, Alyssa Smith, admires a passing hunk and whispers that she's going to rush home to surprise her husband with her enthusiasm.

"I'm de-layering," Rebecca says, as the morning warms and we rejoin the trail after a break at Fletchers Boathouse. During final miles good conversation ensues with Barry and Rebecca about books and movies including The Right Stuff, Lost Moon, and excessive gung-ho risk-taking that gets people into trouble when conditions become tough. I note intermittent feelings of weakness in my right quad about mile 13. Is it nerves, or electrolyte imbalance, or ...? The GPS trackfile claims 15.25 miles at ~10.5 min/mi pace, but since I stopped it for the rendezvous at 8am and again when we took a porta-john break the actual overall pace is rather slower.

- Wednesday, February 08, 2012 at 05:33:23 (EST)

Don't Do That

The clever series of Dos Equis beer advertisements featuring "The Most Interesting Man in the World" offers many quotes that are essentially retreaded "Chuck Norris" jokes — e.g., "Both sides of his pillow are cool", "When in Rome they do as he does", "Bear hugs are what he gives bears", etc. But among the exaggeration is an excellent piece of advice:

"Find out what it is in life that you don't do well — and then don't do that thing."

Hmmm, that sounds like the economic principle of Comparative Advantage!

- Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 04:43:56 (EST)

2012-01-25 - Dark Tempo Trek along Northwest Branch

~2.6 miles @ ~ 7.9 min/mi

Crescent Moon near Venus peeks through the clouds. It's Wednesday evening, the first day of the new semester at the University of Maryland. Parking lots are full, guarded by police auxiliaries. I cruise along hoping to find a place to stop near Paint Branch Trail, but no luck. So back it is to the scene of 2012-01-04 - Northwest Branch Icy Night Trek but this time starting near the strip mall at University Blvd and West Park Rd. I run until the first water crossing, whereupon I decide to turn back. No wet feet tonight — Taco Bell awaits. GPS trackfile splits: 8:10 ⇒ 7:49 ⇒ 7:32 (pace for last 0.6 mile).

- Monday, February 06, 2012 at 04:44:18 (EST)

Encyclopedia Mark

In the early 1960s the main newspaper in Austin Texas ran a column called "Tell Me Why!" by Arkady Leokum. It accepted questions from around the country and each day selected one to answer. The lucky submitter was rewarded with a set of children's encyclopædias. In 1963 (or perhaps it was late 1962) I diligently sent in several postcards with, I must now confess, malice aforethought: my questions were designed to be easy to answer. Yes, I was a crafty kid! The caption to this posed photo taken at the newspaper's office reads:

BIG WINNER — Curiosity paid off in the form of a 15-volume set of Britannica Juniors for 10-year-old Mark Zimmermann, son of Mr. and Mrs. Werner Zimmermann of 3011 Fontana. He won the reference books by sending the question, "How does soap remove dirt?" to the "Tell Me Why" contest, a daily feature on the comic page of The Austin Statesman.


- Sunday, February 05, 2012 at 09:50:41 (EST)

2012-01-22 - Beach Drive, Western Ridge and Valley Trails

~19.8 miles @ ~11.8 min/mi



After a wet day and an overnight freeze, wisdom dictates a late Sunday morning start. Cara Marie Manlandro has early afternoon work to do, so she stays indoors and attacks the treadmill. At 9:30am I trot cautiously from home on icy roads and paths to Candy Cane City. I arrive on time for the 10am rendezvous but nobody else is around, so I experiment in GPS graffiti by making a scraggly "MZ" on the baseball field, as the illustration shows (against a summer grassy background).

Rebecca Rosenberg, Ken Swab, Gayatri Datta, and Jennifer Wieland soon join me. In parking Gayatri almost backs her car into Ken's and Jennifer's but stops in time. Down Beach Drive we all proceed, and thankfully nobody slips or falls on the nicely cleared pavement. Betty Smith and a variety of other runners are out doing their weekend long runs here too. Rebecca's fleece jacket provokes my usual color-question: is it hot-pink, fuchsia, or some other shade? We pause at the restrooms near Military Rd and turn around at the car barrier-gate at Broad Branch Rd NW. I share a frozen stroopwafel with everybody. During the return trip Jennifer tells us about varieties of woodpeckers and spots one high in a tree. Gayatri and I get dizzy trying to see it.

At the cars Rebecca, Gayatri, and Ken jog a bit extra to make 10 miles for them. Jennifer and I prepare for another excursion: we eat miniature Snickers candy bars that I've brought in my cache, and I take a couple of Succeed! e-caps. Even at near-freezing temperatures I'm sweating out lots of salt. (I lose ~2 pounds during the run, as usual for me, in spite of refilling my water bottle twice.) Jennifer's feet are hurting after all that distance on the asphalt, so when we get back to the DC line we take the Western Ridge Trail down to Military Rd, turn east and pause to view the ruins of Fort DeRussy, and proceed along the horse trail back to Beach Dr. There we join the Valley Trail and run along it back to Maryland, with walk breaks as appropriate on hills and when side stitches trouble Jennifer. (Was it the Snickers I gave her?) Total distance for Jennifer is ~17 miles. She gives me a ride home.

(GPS trackfile, ...)

- Saturday, February 04, 2012 at 04:41:32 (EST)

Ionian Mission 2

Another wonderful paragraph of Patrick O'Brian descriptive prose appears in Chapter 3 of The Ionian Mission as the ship with Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin moors at Gibraltar:

But he was back again the next afternoon, and he and Stephen now gazed upon the Rock at short range, the Worcester having been removed to make room for the Brunswick and Goliath, and Pullings having swung her stern-on so that her starboard side could be scraped and painted. It was one of those days when some particular quality in the light and not merely the brilliance of the sun makes colours glow and sing: a military band was playing on the Alameda, its brasses blazing like gold beneath the shade, while through the gardens and up and down the Grand Parade flowed an easy crowd of red coats, blue jackets, and a wonderful variety of civilian clothes from Europe, Morocco, the Turkish provinces of Africa, Greece and the Levant, and even from much farther east. White turbans and the pale, dust-blue robes of Tangier Copts, the dark red and broad straw hats of Berbers and the black of Barbary Jews moved in and out among the pepper-trees, mingling with tall Moors and Negroes, kilted Greek seamen from the islands, red-capped Catalans, and small Malays in green. On Jumper's Bastion stood a group of the Worcester's young gentlemen, some long and thin, others very small indeed, and Stephen noticed that they seemed to be gathered about a monstrous dog; but as they moved off it became apparent that the creature was a calf, a black bull-calf. Other Worcesters wandered among the geraniums and castor-oil plants: these were the select bands of liberty-men, those who had had the time and the foresight to provide themselves with white or black-varnished low-crowned hats with the ship's name embroidered on the ribbon, watchet-blue jackets with brass buttons, spotless white duck trousers, and little shoes; each had had to pass the master-at-arms' inspection, for although the Worcester was not yet a crack ship or anything remotely like one, Pullings was very jealous of her reputation and he acted on the principle that the appearance of virtue might induce its real presence. Few of them were drunk yet, and most of their mirth — clearly audible at half a mile — was the effect of pure unaided gaiety. Beyond them and the variegated crowd rose the grey and tawny Rock, green only at its lower rim, and above its long crest the strange fog or breeding cloud brought into being by the levanter, a breeding cloud that dissipated there in the blazing light of the western side. Stephen had Mount Misery clear in his telescope, and sharp against the whitish sky an ape: high, high above the ape a vulture hanging on the wind. Both Stephen and the ape gazed at the bird.

(cf. MasterAndCommander (2005-03-04), PostCaptain (2006-10-12), OnTheShore (2006-11-07), ExtremeClarity (2006-12-15), Ionian Mission (2012-01-28), ...)

- Friday, February 03, 2012 at 04:39:23 (EST)

2012-01-21 - Beach Drive with Barry

~9.5 miles @ ~9.6 min/mi

Crimson cardinals flit brilliant across the gray afternoon snow near Rock Creek. A lost driver, confused by weekend road closures, stops to ask for directions to the National Zoo. Barry Smith and I encounter almost no cyclists, a few runners, and multiple dog-walkers along Beach Dr as we trek from Maryland down into DC, turn around at Park Police Hqs, and return.

I arrive early and decide to run a few miles as hard as I can, which turns out to be a sprint from the Boundary Bridge parking lot to Picnic Area #9 and back, with GPS-based mile splits of 8:32 ⇒ 8:11 ⇒ 8:16. At the car I take out a windbreaker and add it to the other layers, then stride about until Barry phones. He parks ~2/3rds of a mile upstream at Candy Cane City. We jog toward each other and meet in the middle, then head downstream together. Our splits: 11:17 (including a stop at my car to drop off his keys) ⇒ 10:27 ⇒ 10:15 ⇒ 10:42 (with a pause at a dysfunctional water fountain and the break for Zoo clues) ⇒ 9:35 ⇒ 9:39 and a final half mile at 9:57 pace.

(cf. GPS trackfile, ...)

- Thursday, February 02, 2012 at 05:36:13 (EST)


Some comments on "evenness of mind ... under stress" in Fully Present, a book about mindfulness and meditation by Susan Smalley and Diana Winston:

When your mind is relaxed and at ease and you feel impartial and balanced, then you are experiencing equanimity. We have all had the experience of being in the midst of a difficult situation that would ordinarily cause us a lot of pain and yet, in spite of the conditions, deep down we somehow feel okay about the situation. This is a feeling of equanimity. Many people report, for example, that they have occasionally received bad news with surprising calm and centeredness. With equanimity, rather than being tossed and turned by the ups and downs of life, your mind feels balanced and even and you are not overreactive—neither suffering nor bliss overwhelms you. Equanimity is a very pleasant state of mind characterized by a sense of "okayness" and well-being.

Equanimity is not a state of disassociation or dispassion but in fact a very connected state of mind. It is a misconception that equanimity places you above worldly concerns or makes you apathetic; neither is the case. With equanimity, you are very engaged in life and not the least bit apathetic. You care passionately about a situation, yet your happiness and well-being are not tied to the outcome of the situation. Somewhere deep inside you recognize that you have preferences, but that your happiness does not depend on fulfilling them. So you stand up for yourself and what you believe in, but you are willing to let go of the results of your actions.

(cf. DarkGlory (2001-03-23), Posture (2009-06-05), Karma (2009-07-15), Steadiness of Heart (2011-07-13), ...)

- Wednesday, February 01, 2012 at 04:45:17 (EST)

2012-01-17 - LBJ High School Speedwork

~8 miles @ ~9.7 min/mi

Urban roosters crow the dawn. Two children wrapped in blankets follow their mother across the street, to finish their sleep at a caregiver's home as their parents go to work. Today is the flight back from my Austin visit, so at 0630 it's time to trot to the local high school, with a long pause at the traffic light to cross Manor Rd on the way. I've got the track all to myself. It's too dark to read a watch for the first few steps up the speedwork ladder, so the GPS trackfile records splits of the 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 lap pattern in lane #2: 1:57 ⇒ 4:00 ⇒ 6:03 ⇒ 7:51 ⇒ 5:52 ⇒ 3:49 ⇒ 1:45 with ~2:15 recovery walks for half a lap between each. Texas temps are already in the 60s. A cool puff of air catches me by pleasant surprise in the middle of the ladder. A few minutes later a low fog rises with the sun over the grassy ballfields. The GPS thinks the distance around the track is 0.26-0.28 miles so it shows my pace as a trifle faster than the lap times would indicate. Maybe it's a quarter-mile track and not a 400m one?

(cf. 2006-07-15 - Final Texas Heatwork, 2009-08-10 - Beep, Beep, Beep, ... , 2010-07-15 - LBJ Ladder, 2010-09-21 - LBJ High School Track, ...)

- Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 07:57:13 (EST)

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), 0.91 (June-August 2011), 0.92 (August-October 2011), 0.93 (October-December 2011), 0.94 (December 2011-January 2012), 0.95 (January-March 2012), 0.96 (March-April 2012), 0.97 (April-June 2012), 0.98 (June-September 2012), 0.99 (September-November 2012), 0.9901 (November-December 2012), 0.9902 (December 2012-February 2013), ... Current Volume. Send comments and suggestions to z (at) his.com. Thank you! (Copyright © 1999-2012 by Mark Zimmermann.)