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Howdy, pilgrim! No ads — you're in the ^zhurnal (that's Russian for "journal") — see ZhurnalyWiki for a Wiki edition of individual items; see Zhurnal and Zhurnaly for quick clues as to what this is all about; see Random for a random page. Briefly, this is the diary of ^z = Mark Zimmermann ... previous volume = 0.9926 ... complete list at bottom of page ... send comments & suggestions to "z (at) his (dot) com" ... click on a title link to go to that item in the ZhurnalyWiki where you can edit or comment on it ... thank you!



2017-06-04 - Burmese Food

~8.3 miles @ ~12.7 min/mi

"Welease Wodewick!" and then "A hospital? It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now." Barry quotes from the films Life of Brian and Airplane; I recite a bit of Gerard Manly Hopkins. On a sultry Sunday afternoon we meet at General Getty Park and ramble up Sligo Creek Trail. At Colt Terrace Neighborhood Park we pause to exercise on the children's playground equipment, then hook back via neighborhood streets to return downstream. A big deer peers at us, and a chipmunk dashes across the path. My lunch with DS Merle at the Mandalay Cafe — Burmese samosas, KaYann Thee Hin (eggplant onion curry), and Tofu Ohnno Hin (with coconut-cream curry) — was a tasty but perhaps suboptimal pre-run repast.

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 04:15:04 (EDT)


2017-06-03 - Ran It with Janet 50k

~30.5 miles @ ~14.3 min/mi

Ran It with Janet 50k snakey selfie - by Jennifer HotchkissAt mile 21 a big Black Racer slithers across the road at Manassas Battlefield Park. Jennifer Hotchkiss and I run by it.

"Wait a minute!" I say. "Let me go back and get a selfie!"

As I lie down on the asphalt and line up for the shot the snake pauses, sticks its tongue out at me, and then crawls onward. Jennifer snaps the perfect meta-photo, with the pic I'm framing visible on my phone's screen. Wow!

We're on the last lap of this year's "Ran It with Janet" 50k. Son Merle drives me here at dawn and circulates among the aid stations, helping and taking photos, applauding runners and assisting volunteers. It's a lovely day, partly cloudy, somewhat warm and humid.

Before we begin comrades Ken Swab, Gayatri Datta, and Jennifer Wieland pose for a colorful shoe pic with me. Race Director Janet Choi gives the pre-event briefing. Entry fee is only $5; everything else goes to Cornerstones, ".. a nonprofit organization that promotes self-sufficiency by providing support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare, and other human services." Janet's race raises $4500 this year. Nice!

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/RIwJ/RIwJ_2017_shoes.jpg
http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/RIwJ/RIwJ_2017_Jennifer_Hotchkiss_z_manassas_cannon.jpgThe race consists of three loops around the Manassas National Battlefield Park. The first goes by briskly in 2:15, for an average pace of ~13 min/mi. Likewise lap #2, which takes 2:14 according to the official log. I catch up with Jennifer Hotchkiss and we walk/run together for the final circuit. Much great trail talk ensues, about racing and families and philosophy and life. We finish together at a total elapsed time of 7:16:30, tied for 25th place. Yay!

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 05:18:07 (EDT)


Naked Truth

From Chapter 20 ("The Naked Truth") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

True insight is pointing directly, heart to heart, mind to mind. We must not allow ourselves to be deluded by others, to be confused by others' actions or words. We must not place too much importance on words. Even the word "Dharma" can become an entanglement if we think of it as something outside ourselves. The Dharma is not outside ourselves; the Buddha is not outside ourselves. With true insight, we know who we are. To arrive at true insight, we simply don't wobble. We have faith in ourselves, realizing that each of us is the awakened one, right now.

Without faith in ourselves, we are tossed about here and there, willy-nilly. But this can turn around. We can feel the freedom in each moment, really feel that in the midst of pain, in in the midst of sadness, in the midst of everything that life buffets us with, still, every day is a good day. It's O.K., just as it is, if we do not lack faith in ourselves, if instead of just tumbling along we open up to true insight.

How do we attain this insight? I don't continually come around with the stick and hit you; I don't say, "Kensho, kensho, kensho." I have experienced that approach myself, and I have found it singularly unhelpful. But you know what you are here for. Attain true insight, and you may make free use of every day. You will use things rather than be used by them. You will become the master. You will experience freedom in the midst of all the situations of your life, whatever they are; you will be truly composed. True composure is not just saying to yourself, "Be calm, quiet down now, everything is going to be O.K., just take a deep breath." It is not that. With true insight, there is no conscious trying to become composed. It's no use to try to do that. True composure is zazen condition taken into every circumstance of life. When the ceaselessly seeking mind is given up altogether, there is nothing to do. All we need to do is just be ordinary. Nansen said, "Ordinary mind is the Way." This ordinary mind does not go beyond distinctions of past and present, east and west, calm and constant. This mind is everywhere, in every time and place. It is never lacking for even a single instant. It pervades all things. So we sit, our 84,000 pores breathing in, breathing out, inhaling and exhaling, letting in the whole universe, going out to the whole universe. There is nothing to do. In this condition of mind, we can confront our life and death clearly, calmly.

Zen is not a puzzle. It is not something to be solved by our wits. It is a spiritual food for those who want to learn what life is, and what their mission in this world is. Mere scholarly pursuits will never lead to realization. Zen is not a philosophy, not a religion; it is the essence of life itself. The naked truth of the universe is none other than the experience of this essence. A person who has felt some deep inner uneasiness can come to Zen and find clear understanding, real joy. But Zen does not seek adherents. There is no need for propaganda, for missionaries. Some will come; some will not. Sorrow and struggle may have led you to Zen, but however you come, it must be with a clear conscience and a pure heart. You must have a desperate desire to see life as it really is, and you must not permit anything to keep you from this, no matter how many blind alleys of religious creeds you may have stumbled into in the past. You may read all the books in all the libraries in the world; you may write thousands upon thousands of pages of your own opinions, but if your mind is not thoroughly clear, if your knowledge does not come from the real source, you will never know who you are. You will remain a stranger to the naked truth.

- Monday, June 26, 2017 at 04:16:40 (EDT)


2017-05-31 - Blowdown Monday

~5.7 miles @ ~13.4 min/mi

"Should we all split up, like in a horror movie?" — "Uh, no!" So the Dawn Patrol hangs together on a foggy-humid McLean morning. After leading us down two dead-end streets, Dr Kerry says she's a contrary indicator and we should do the opposite of what she recommends. (But if we all know, and she knows that we know, should we do the opposite or ...?!?)

"Let's move that tree out of the street!" Cars swerve to avoid a blowdown from last night's storm that blocks half of Idlywood Road. The four of us lift the trunk, but it's cracked and not broken, still firmly attached to the stump, so we can't clear the lane. At least we try! Caitlin and Kristin laugh at reports of corporate conspiracy theories. Rabbit count = 1.

(trackfile)

- Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 04:49:54 (EDT)


Meaning and Context

In "How meaning stuck ...", an online essay some years ago, David Weinberger mused about existentialism and Heidegger and the sources of meaning. The core point:

... We are not free to create any old meanings that we want. Rather, we each are thrown into a world not of our making that has a set of meanings (enacted by language) that we are powerless to change. ...

Further, those meanings aren't arbitrary. They express a long history of thought, practice and language. The meanings of the things around us are ways things show themselves to us. We always—almost always—encounter them with a particular project or plan in mind. The hammer shows itself to me as a thing for hammering when I'm hanging a picture, as a paperweight when the wind is lifting my papers, and as a spinner for Spin the Hammer when coeds are in the house (I was 18! It was 1968!). Those meanings are not eternal and universal, but Heidegger critiqued the assumption that only the eternal and universal are real. And that was enough to get me out of my funk: Meanings are not merely my choice, they are in the world at least as much as they are in my head, and they reveal something true about the world.

One more Heideggerian point: Meanings only make sense within a dense web of meanings. Hammers can only have meaning as carpentry tools if you also know about nails, wood, ecosystems and economic systems that turn trees into lumber. ...

And, in the context of "knowledge management":

... First, knowledge isn't everything. Meaning counts for at least as much. Second, what things mean—what they are to us—depends to a large degree on what we're trying to do. Attempts to permanently fix meanings to things, and attempts to identify knowledge as if it were valuable free of your context and projects, are misguided. Finally, we have less freedom than we think we do. Dreaming it doesn't make it so. We are thrown into a world—and a business environment—not of our own making.

- Saturday, June 24, 2017 at 05:53:08 (EDT)


2017-05-29 - Flying Balls

~12.3 miles @ ~13.6 min/mi

"Lions? Tigers? Bears?" - "Sorry, no." - "Unexploded bombs?" - "No." - "Poorly secured facilities for the criminally insane?" - "Nope." - "Haunted cemeteries?" - "Not that I know of." - "Flash flood zones?" - "None." - "Fireswamps? Lightning sand?" - "Uh-uh." - "Homes for wayward ninjas?" - "Are you serious?" - "Chompers? Slowly rotating fans?" - "No and no."

This section of the Fairfax Cross Country Trail seems sadly lacking in danger, at least according to Lucas and Janet. Nonetheless, they give good directions to an access point in the Oakton area. Southbound the pathway is nicely shaded, rolling hills with occasional muddy bits churned up by mountain bikers. Birds and butterflies flit; cicadas whir.

"DANGER   FLYING BALLS" warns a sign next to the Oak Marr golf course. At Jermantown Road I turn back. Continuing north of Vale Road the trail gets narrower and muddier, until it reaches a nontrivial stream crossing. Reverse course!

(trackfile)

- Friday, June 23, 2017 at 04:39:45 (EDT)


2017-05-28 - Towpath Statistics

~15.6 miles @ ~14.2 min/mi

"Beliefs are knobs, not switches!" At least, to a good Bayesian: judgments are never certain, always subject to revision as new evidence comes in. Dr Stephanie and I start at Swains Lock on the C&O Canal towpath and trot up the Potomac River, past Pennyfield Lock to Riley's Lock. Blue iridescent butterflies (red-spotted purples?) explode in a tiny cloud of color as a foot passes nearby. Bright yellow butterflies (eastern tiger swallowtails?) cluster in a mass to mate. Turtles align themselves on logs. A large snake (eastern rat snake? northern racer?) slithers into the grass. Great blue herons glide low, stand in the water, fluff their feathers, and swivel their necks. Geese protect their goslings against passing cyclists. Trail talk is joyous and wide-ranging. There's just so much good in the world to analyze: honesty, friendship, trust, patience, spirituality, kindness, beauty, wisdom, sharing, poetry, love, ...

"Let me now explain the statistics of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and the dangers of merging that with non-proliferative!" We run a few miles to pull our average pace back down after pauses to take photos at the Stone Mill ruins and milepost 0 of the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail. Back at our start, an achy foot mandates a few final miles of walking in the warm rain.

(trackfile)

- Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 04:35:14 (EDT)


Mantra - Say Thanks, not Sorry

Say
  "Thank You!"
      not
        "I'm Sorry"

Instead of apologizing and self-blaming, give a gift: express appreciation for people's forgiveness, patience, kindness, tolerance, strength, and love!

(cf. Yao Xiao's [1] and [2], and Best Response to Feedback (2013-08-31), ...)

- Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 03:56:49 (EDT)


2017-05-27 - Thank You, Dr Stephanie

~23.7 miles @ ~14.8 min/mi

"Where is this going?" asks Dr Stephanie, as I catch my breath during a monologue in preparation for a poetic recitation.

"Well," I reply, "I'm trying to explain the meaning of my life, in answer to your earlier question. A poem that I memorized 45 years ago may help."

"Ah," says Stephanie, "but I just meant: Where is this ROAD going?"

"Oh!" I blush, and we chuckle together.

Barry, Gayatri, and Rebecca trot down Rock Creek Trail. Comic banter soon ensues as we meet and ramble back to KenGar where they started. A double-dog-dare mandates hill repeats on a side path. Then the others, who set out earlier, head for home. Stephanie text-messages and I stroll south to meet her. Frank trail talk follows, as we share joys and woes, hopes and regrets, personal progress and chronic shortfalls. It's so wonderful to have a trusted friend to think aloud with! And the quiet gaps between sentences are as important.

"Smell these roses!" We pause during each climb of Old Spring Road and commit minor trespass to appreciate lovely gardens up-close. A stone rabbit statue invites front-yard selfies. On the third loop we divert into the Mormon Temple grounds to smile at a wedding party, admire the architecture, and cast envious eyes on massive ferns.

Iced coffee from the Old Town Market in Kensington fuels the final 7 miles of today's trek. Zen koans are not-solved as traffic whizzes past. Tiny paths meander eventually back to terra cognita. Stephanie kindly gives me a ride home. We practice saying "Thank you!" instead of "I'm sorry!", questioning what's really important, listening better, and laughing more. How to resolve the tension between taking care of others and properly cherishing self? True balance is so hard to achieve; loving advice and good examples from friends can help.

(trackfile; cf. What Is My Life (1999-04-30), ...)

- Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 05:12:26 (EDT)


2017-05-26 - Newspaper Delivery

~11.2 miles @ ~13.3 min/mi

"Where does that street go?" asks Cait, as we pass a little lane in downtown McLean.

"Oops, you just said the magic words — now we MUST explore it!" is the instant reply. Dead-end Pinecrest Avenue leads to a new cut-through, connecting with the tiny pedestrian pathway to Dolley Madison Boulevard. Who knew?

Dr Kristin navigates through a twisty residential road maze to the other Dr K's home, where we text her a GPS waypoint and leave the newspaper by her front door. The neighborhood along Live Oak Drive is new to Caitlin, so we ramble toward the Potomac River and admire mansions. Three rabbits, two chipmunks, and a big deer later we're back at the office.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 05:07:31 (EDT)


2017-05-24 - Eli Tales

~8.8 miles @ ~13.0 min/mi

"Handsome Dan was chewing on a Y-shaped bone — but he dropped it to stare into the camera!" Cait describes a photo op with the Yale mascot, a bulldog. Sounds just like Winston Churchill's glare at the lens when Yousuf Karsh took away his cigar! The Dawn Patrol rambles south on a delightful-cool morning. We play leapfrog on the W&OD Trail with Caroline, a friendly lady in blue who passes us during our walk breaks on hills. "I'm only doing 3 miles," she says when asked. "You know," we reply, "a NORMAL person wouldn't say 'only' in that sentence!" A tiny front-yard bunny freezes to watch us go by.

"So what WILL you eat for dinner?" Kristin describes trying to get an answer from one of her children, engrossed in Minecraft; her other kid is a voracious omnivore. Caitlin reports on her sister's graduation ceremonies this weekend, and on the Harvard-Yale football rivalry.

(trackfile)

- Monday, June 19, 2017 at 04:45:10 (EDT)


2017-05-22 - Wet Falls Church Loop

~8.4 miles @ ~12.6 min/mi

"It's been a while since we ...", begins Dr Kristin.

"Hold it right there! You KNOW that when you say that the reply HAS to be, 'I'm in!'." So begins a Dawn Patrol trek, as sprinkles turn to drizzle and then full-up rain showers. Monday morning streets are quiet, almost empty. A soggy fox crosses Magarity Road just ahead of us. Brick sidewalks are slippery-slick, coated with fallen flowers and the occasional cicada husk from currently-emerging Brood X. A store in Falls Church features a big display of selfie sticks in the front window. Pastel wall art on a Broad Street yoga studio offers a mystical vision.

(trackfile)

- Monday, June 19, 2017 at 04:42:30 (EDT)


Ultimate Freedom

From Chapter 20 ("The Naked Truth") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

We are not doing this practice to gain some superficial composure; we are not here to feel a little bit better physically. These things may happen, but they are by-products. Gaining true insight is what we are here for. And then we can live our lives unaffected by living and dying. Living and dying includes everything. Not just our own life and death—everything, everything is living and dying, moment after moment.

When we gain true insight into this, then we an freely come, freely go, without getting entangled, without being deluded by others; then we can endlessly transform ourselves, without becoming caught up in the ongoing transformation. Letting it come, letting it go. In the midst of impermanence, we are constantly changing without getting enmeshed in any of it. This is what we are here to experience. We are not here to talk about it, but to experience it. This is absolute freedom, not relative freedom—it's not just being free from a few icky, sticky things.

Ultimate freedom is what we are here for. Ultimate, absolute freedom is what comes with true insight. And again, we do not come by this true insight by trying to become free. The very trying is an impediment. In our trying, we become grabby; we want something; we want to become enlightened. In seeking some supreme state of mind, some supernormal powers, we get caught in the leaves and branches, in stead of going directly to the root.

In truth, there is nothing to do. But we are doing nothing, doing, doing, doing, vividly. We are not sitting on the cushion daydreaming; we are not just passively letting things happen. We are dynamically present to them. Then everything becomes quite extraordinary. Somebody told me he'd like a few more sparkling events in his zazen. But if we are really present in our zazen, the whole thing is a sparkling event! Shining!

What do you think about enlightenment? Don't. Don't think about it even for one second. And don't look to someone else to do it for you. No teacher can give you true insight. True insight simply is. Each one of us must open up to this; each one of us must awaken to it. There is no other way to save anyone. A teacher can inspire us; reading his or her words may spark our energy, give us more stability, more endurance; but true insight is up to us.

(cf. Contract Scribbled on a Rain Cloud (2009-03-04), No Method (2010-01-21), Listen to the Traffic (2014-11-12), Happiness Is (2015-07-28), Enlightened State (2015-08-20), Mantra - Let the Mind Pass By (2016-09-17), ...)

- Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 06:11:12 (EDT)


2017-05-21 - More RCT with RR

~2.6 miles @ ~10.9 min/mi

"Spinach balls!" Rebecca describes a West Virginia recipe involving condensed cream-of-whatever soup, pre-made seasoned stuffing mix, and frozen chopped spinach. Shape, bake, and enjoy! After Dean and Barry declare victory and head for home with half a dozen miles, RR and I head upstream for a wee bit more. She explains how her dog Oreo takes turns with her entertaining neighbors when they go out on walks together. We shake our heads over recent news, catch up on local gossip, fantasize about training for a fast marathon some day, and concur on the value of gumbo as a comfort food.

(trackfile)

- Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 05:43:03 (EDT)


2017-05-21 - RCT with Barry, Dean, and Rebecca

~6.2 miles @ ~12.0 min/mi

"Discus 120 feet, and shot put 48 feet!" Barry reminisces about his salad days in Montana's Glasgow High School, where on behalf of the Scotties he went out for field events ("But not javelin!") We trot along Rock Creek Trail. Rebecca and her friend Dean Palmer dash ahead, then meet us on their way back. Dean confesses to having done a 3:09 marathon in 2002 but claims to be out of shape now; he and I pound out a brisk mile, then climb the KenGar neighborhood side path and come down in time to meet Barry and Rebecca.

"Rob Quist is the Singing Cowboy who's running for Congress from Montana!" Barry tells of Mission Mountain Wood Band legendary performances at Missoula's Aber Day Kegger, a fundraiser for the University's library. Back at our starting point Dean demonstrates a pull-up; I manage about 40% of one.

(trackfile)

- Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 05:41:14 (EDT)


2017-05-20 - Lake Bernard Frank with Stephanie

~14.8 miles @ ~14.0 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Lake_Bernard_Frank_stephanie_z_2017-05-20.jpg"Runners back!" the leader of a training group shouts. Dr Stephanie and I immediately step off the path and look behind, but see no one approaching. The group's members all start to laugh.

"Oh, you mean us!" We chuckle with them. On Rock Creek Trail we're in the hilly zone known as "The Silencer" because of its effect on conversation. Unlike yesterday's high humidity and heat, weather this morning is delightfully cool. Raindrops patter down, then stop. A big bunny races straight ahead of us for a dozen yards before vectoring off into the brush. A tiny chipmunk scurries across the asphalt.

"Want to try something different?" On a whim, at mile 7 we branch off to visit Lake Bernard Frank. It's eerily quiet, heartrendingly beautiful, almost empty compared to Lake Needwood. Ferns and flowers line the way. Silly selfies ensue!

"Hi, Oreo!" In the final mile Rebecca's cute dog accepts our praise, then lies down in the street by the curb. We're mostly walking now, to help a hurt foot heal.

"Jun tea is taking over my home!" Trail talk topics today span fermentation, history, statistics, life goals, sociology, self-worth, metacognition, personal balance, in-the-moment joy, self-sacrifice, fairness, codependency, spiritual relationships, patience, and awesomely more. After thousands of miles running together, there are still so many new stories to share!

"Thank you" we vow to say, rather than "I'm sorry" — even when talking to ourselves!

(trackfile)

- Friday, June 16, 2017 at 04:34:29 (EDT)


In the Presence of Oxygen

Robert Jervis, in his book Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War, offers a lovely example of the need to look closely for real causal relationships and not rely merely on co-occurrence:

... An understanding of the need for comparisons also reminds us that reports like these are exercises in searching on the dependent variable. That is, we have post-mortems only after failure, not after successes. Even if we did them well, and even if we found that certain factors were present in all the cases, we would not be on firm ground in making causal inferences — namely, in providing an explanation — unless we could also establish that those factors were absent in cases of intelligence success. Oxygen is not a cause of intelligence failure despite its being present in all such cases. ...

More mathematically-rigorously, it's crucial to examine false positives and false negatives — or, in the confusing language of Confusion, the "sensitivity" (aka True Positive Rate = TP/(TP+FN)) and "specificity" (aka True Negative Rate = TN/(TN+FP)) ...

(cf. "Reports, Politics, and Intelligence Failures: The Case of Iraq" [1] by Robert Jervis (2006, Journal of Strategic Studies, v.29 n.1), Statistics - A Bayesian Perspective (2010-08-13), Introduction to Bayesian Statistics (2010-11-20), 2013-10-12 - Tesla-Hertz Run - 100 Miler DNF (2013-10-29), Adventure of the Bayesian Clocks - Part One (2013-12-04), ...)

- Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 05:11:27 (EDT)


2017-05-19 - Long Run Short

~16.1 miles @ ~15.3 min/mi

"But could you fire somebody via pizza delivery?" Nowadays one can request "Draw a dragon on the box" or other special features when ordering. As we ramble we muse about management possibilities.

On a hyper-humid morning a red fox with white-tipped tail crosses Creek Crossing Road in front of Kerry and Kristin. Later a tiny bunny scampers across the trail. A can of beer, unopened, gets rescued from the curb along Route 7. At mile 8 we pause at Whole Foods for iced coffee and frozen fruit pops. Even so, after a few more miles in the sun on the W&OD Trail we're melting. Detouring onto shadier neighborhood streets helps.

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 04:37:23 (EDT)


2017-05-17 - Tysons Corner Circuit

~7.7 miles @ ~13.3 min/mi

"Maybe after the amputation they can't read the social hierarchy signals?" - "Maybe they're little kids, who assume that height maps to age?" - "Maybe it's like a poker player who got a botox injection?" Dawn Patrol speculation runs wild as to why two cats, Jinx and Phoebe, who used to be friends are now wrestling over who's dominant, after one tail had to be surgically truncated. Between bursts of philosophy Drs K&K enjoy a mental-health ramble through Tysons on a cool morning before the arrival of a hyper-hot-and-busy day.

"So after the Ages of Physics, and Microelectronics, and Biotech-Genomics, and Cyber, what comes next?" We speculate about the Next Big Thing for society. (Category Theory gets one vote!) Planning for an upcoming long run converges on a likely western route with a Whole Foods aid station break at mile ~10.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 04:45:27 (EDT)


Mantra - Hold More Space

Hold
    More
        Space

... gently make the space between thoughts larger ... pause ... notice the gaps ...

(cf. Emotional States (2012-04-26), Mantra - Pause and Breathe (2015-02-25), Betwixt (2015-07-04), Mantra - Gap (2015-11-11), Mantra - Be Like a Log (2016-01-26), Holding Space (2016-07-22), Mantra - Be the Silence (2016-12-10), ...)

- Monday, June 12, 2017 at 04:31:24 (EDT)


2017-05-15 - Pimmit Hills with Beth

~3.6 miles @ ~13.6 min/mi

"There goes the car-shuffle theory!" The monster pickup is still idling in front of the house on Pimmit Drive when Dr Beth and I pass it on our second lap; first time around somebody was pulling a car out of the driveway. Did they forget that they left the truck running, or is it being kept ready for a speedy get-away? Trail talk is wide-ranging today, touching on diverse aspects of cognition.

"It only needs a spinner on its tail!" A front-yard statue of a llama on Storm Drive features a silver head and neck, faux-stone body, and glass legs. As we finish the run a tiny bunny hops away through a flower bed.

(trackfile)

- Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 07:13:48 (EDT)


2017-05-14 - Running Math

~7.6 miles @ ~13.4 min/mi

"Life is short — Running makes it seem longer!" Rebecca quotes from a t-shirt she saw at the Big Sur Marathon three weeks ago. (Hmmmm — one could interpret those words in opposite ways!) She and Gayatri trot along Rock Creek Trail on a sunny-cool morning, tiptoeing around occasional puddles from recent rains. Three big deer cross the road ahead; a few miles later two more stand close by the path.

"December 4th — in 2017 that falls on a Monday!" The Doomsday perpetual calendar algorithm reminds Gaytri of Shakuntala Devi, the Indian mental calculator. (This year 4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10, and 12/12 are all Tuesdays; it's easy to work forward or back from them.) We talk about Ramanujan and upcoming races, running injuries and streaks, politics and bias, lost hats and found shirts. Rebecca and Gayatri share a sisterly hug. Happy Mother's Day to all!

(trackfile)

- Saturday, June 10, 2017 at 06:10:06 (EDT)


2017-05-13 - Big Train Intervals

~5.1 miles @ ~11.0 min/mi

"Which side of the oval would be better to puke on?" Sir Ken and I do laps at Walter Johnson High School track on a cloudy-cool Saturday afternoon. Girls play soccer on the field, their gear spilling across lanes 1 and 2. The crowd in the bleachers restrain their cheers as we saunter past. Our average speed is identical, but my variance is far higher since Ken keeps a steady ~10 min/mi pace while I "dash" 400m and then walk 200m to recover. (Interval splits: 1:44 + 1:45 + 1:47 + 1:45 + 1:47; peak heart rate ~160.) Then we meander around the 'hood, reviewing recent races and discussing upcoming events. A big rabbit scampers across a lawn.

(trackfile)

- Saturday, June 10, 2017 at 06:09:20 (EDT)


All the Light We Cannot See

Beautiful, brilliant. All the Light We Cannot See, a novel by Anthony Doerr, brings poetry and metaphor to a story rich in sensation and science. It echoes the best of Samuel R Delany, Salman Rushdie, Roger Zelazny: a magical crisp awareness, a deeper, higher presence. In an early chapter ("Around the World in Eighty Days") one of the central characters, a blind girl, answers:

The children she meets brim with questions: Does it hurt? Do you shut your eyes to sleep? How do you know what time it is?

It doesn't hurt, she explains. And there is no darkness, not the kind they imagine. Everything is composed of webs and lattices and upheavals of sound and texture. She walks a circle around the Grand Gallery, navigating between squeaking floorboards; she hears feet tramp up and down museum staircases, a toddler squeal, the groan of a weary grandmother lowering herself onto a bench.

Color—that's another thing people don't expect. In her imagination, in her dreams, everything has color. The museum buildings are beige, chestnut, hazel. Its scientists are lilac and lemon yellow and fox brown. Piano chords loll in the speaker of the wireless in the guard station, projecting rich blacks and complicated blues down the hall toward the key pound. Church bells send arcs of bronze careening off the windows. Bees are silver; pigeons are ginger and auburn and occasionally golden. The huge cypress trees she and her father pass on their morning walk are shimmering kaleidoscopes, each needle a polygon of light.

A few pages later (in "The Professor") two other children listen to a voice on the radio describing physics, geology, and biology via the natural history of coal:

Consider a single piece glowing in your family's stove. See it, children? That chunk of coal was once a green plant, a fern or reed that lived one million years ago, or maybe two million, or maybe one hundred million. Can you imagine one hundred million years? Every summer for the whole life of that plant, its leaves caught what light they could and transformed the sun's energy into itself. Into bark, twigs, stems. Because plants eat light, in much the way we eat food. But then the plant died and fell, probably into water, and decayed into peat, and the peat was folded inside the earth for years upon years—eons in which something like a month or a decade or even your whole life was just a puff of air, a snap of two fingers. And eventually the peat dried and became like stone, and someone dug it up, and the coal man brought it to your house, and maybe you yourself carried it to the stove, and now that sunlight—sunlight one hundred million years old—is heating your home tonight . . .

Reading All the Light We Cannot See, one wants to write a poem, see a painting, hear a concerto, run through the forest — awake. As the story continues:

Time slows. The attic disappears. Jutta disappears. Has anyone ever spoken so intimately about the very things Werner is most curious about?

Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever, and then a piano comes on, playing a lonely song that sounds to Werner like a golden boat traveling a dark river, a progression of harmonies that transfigures Zollverein: the houses turned to mist, the mines filled in, the smokestacks fallen, an ancient sea spilling through the streets, and the air streaming with possibility.

Open your eyes ...

(cf. How Great Thou Art (2005-03-16), No Method (2010-01-21), Wait for the Breath (2013-07-09), Wakeful, Open, Tender (2016-08-25), ...)

- Friday, June 09, 2017 at 05:30:59 (EDT)


2017-05-12 - Hold More Space

~5.2 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"The Fox and the Crow!" Kristin spies a huge red fox crossing Warbler Lane, with a black crow cruising above it; Kerry mentions the associated Aesop's fable. The Dawn Patrol explores cut-throughs to Churchill Road Park and Pine Hill Road. Two rabbits watch us pass. Trail talk includes injuries: bagel near-amputations, falls down stairs, ladder accidents, ...

"Don't let that next idea come!" The sight of lovely manicured lawns immediately brings to mind our need to do garden work. We must learn to stop short — or at least increase the space between thoughts!

(trackfile — and cf. Mantra - Gap (2015-11-11), Holding Space (2016-07-22), ...)

- Thursday, June 08, 2017 at 05:41:13 (EDT)


No Big Deal

From Chapter 16 ("No Big Deal") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

Our Zen life is ordinary life. When we start adding things to it, as Nyogen Senzaki said, it's like "painting legs on a snake." Just to be ordinary is the most difficult thing. To be plain, to be simple, not to make a fuss about anything, this is our Zen life.

Joshu, one of the greatest teachers, always used whatever was at hand. His teachings were along the lines of, "Have you eaten your porridge? Have you washed your bowls?" Of course, when such ordinary acts are done thoroughly, completely, cheerfully, then they become extraordinary. Every single bite of porridge is tasted, fully. But it is not done with the feeling of doing something special. There is no self-congratulatory inner voice saying, "Oh, look! I'm such a wonderful Zen student, sitting long hours, doing everything so mindfully." We just do it, with no thought about it, whatever it is. To draw attention to what we are doing would be sickening, and would have nothing to do with Zen.

We just wash our bowls, washing away any excessive use of Zen terminology, any allusions to enlightenment. For our practice to become more ordinary, more real, we use words that everybody can understand. We refer to what is right here, right now. We sit, we walk, we cook, we eat, we clean, we have nosebleeds, and it's just here, right in front of us. No big deal.

Practicing together is a wonderful, extraordinary experience, yet we are so much in it that we can't even talk about it. There is nothing to say. Every single act, everything we do is the expression of our true nature. We may not know it, we may not be aware of it, we may not even think we have any insight, but everything we do is an expression of who we are: standing up, sitting down, eating, drinking, laughing, crying, washing our bowls. Especially if we do it unself-consciously.

And we have never done any of it before. This is the first sitting, the first kinhin we have ever experienced. We are fresh, completely fresh, taking nothing for granted, with no ideas about what Zen is. Everything is seen as if for the very first time. Even though the sesshin schedule may be very familiar to some of us, we are going through it with keen attention, really being present with each moment, really eating our porridge, really washing our bowls. And when it's done, it's done. There's nothing to hold on to. Nothing.

Nor do we hold anything back. We don't think, "Next time things will be easier, I'll work harder, I'll be able to concentrate better, I'll do better." Right now is all we have. That's it. So let's be here. Let's burn up our resources unstintingly. When we think we have something, we just forget about it. We start all over again, going deeper and deeper, never thinking we have completely understood. Sometimes people ask me, "When did you finish your Zen training?" I have never finished. There's no end to it. When we think we have attained something, we're in trouble. We need to wash away everything and become a beginner over and over and over again.

A young woman called me this week from California to tell me she had cancer. Very worried, very upset, she said, "I am preparing to die." I said, "How about preparing to live? They go together." And then I asked her, "Do you know any people who need help?" She said, "Lots." I told her, "Well, you'd better get busy. Don't worry about your lump. Find somebody else to help." ...

- Wednesday, June 07, 2017 at 04:40:32 (EDT)


2017-05-10 - Pimmit Circuit

~6.0 miles @ ~11.2 min/mi

"I got a bib! I got a bib!" Cait recounts her mother's happy shout at 10:30pm one recent night. Looks like the Dawn Patrol will be out in force at the Marine Corps Marathon this year!

"Welcome home!" A small front yard is densely decorated with American flags, inflated red-white-blue stars, and a sign greeting a returning family member — a US Marine, Cait deduces from the "Semper Fi" logo. Two happy rabbits eye us as we meander along neighborhood streets on a cool spring morning. We run Dr B's 1.000 mile loop, then add an orbit through Pimmit View Park where Cait treads carefully across the shallow stream. Drs K&K are away on travel; we push the pace on their behalf.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, June 06, 2017 at 05:36:30 (EDT)


2017-05-08 - McLean Joe

~6.4 miles @ ~14.1 min/mi

"A Beautiful Thing!" Dr Kristin describes caffeine, specifically eight shots of espresso in the morning, as Dr Kerry sips iced coffee. The line inside Starbucks is long but we score extra mojo points when an office colleague sees us there. With temps in the lower 40's sunrise is welcome. We cut through McLean Central Park and Bryn Mawr Park. Kerry spies deer in the high grass beside Pimmit Run. A house for sale features horse's head statues wearing baseball caps flanking the front door.

"Three months old - his name is Sam!" A neighbor is walking her new uber-cute rescue hound. Puppy break!

(trackfile)

- Monday, June 05, 2017 at 06:05:26 (EDT)


Unsympathetic Sympathizer

Rape is not a metaphor
Torture not a symbol

Please, please, do not read The Sympathizer.

Murder and dismemberment, depicted via clever writing, do not make great literature. USC professor Viet Thanh Nguyen's 2015 novel, despite applause and awards it has garnered, is unworthy. It tries to make torment into allegory, plot vehicle, trope for a "message". Such pornographic usage must not be rewarded.

The Sympathizer begins charmingly, with brilliant prose and gritty humor. It slides gradually into darkness and horror, attempting to convey the story of the Vietnam war. When he was four years old, Nguyen came to the US "... taken from my parents and put into a household of American strangers ...". His personal tragedy, and the suffering that befell so many of his former countrymen, are not appropriately treated in this work of fiction.

- Sunday, June 04, 2017 at 07:02:37 (EDT)


2017-05-07 - UM Speedwork

~3.7 miles @ ~10.0 min/mi

"Rhubarb and strawberry crisp!" Tastes great, but gets its revenge during ten 400m intervals at the University of Maryland track. Oops! Two young sprinters blast along the western straightaway. Orbit lane 2, with half-lap recovery walks between repeats. Splits: 1:56 + 1:49 + 1:51 + 1:49 + 1:53 + 1:51 + 1:51 + 1:54 + 1:54 + 1:50 — followed by a veggie gyro at nearby Marathon Deli: Whee!

(trackfile)

- Saturday, June 03, 2017 at 04:42:36 (EDT)


2017-05-06 - RIwJ Rehearsal with Kerry and Stephanie

~10.4 miles @ ~15.4 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Manassas_jump_Stephanie_z_Kerry_by_Janet_2017-05-06.jpg"... and here's where Ken began his lecture on the Compromise of 1850!" It's a cool morning at Manassas National Battlefield Park. Drs Kerry, Stephanie, and I arrive at 6:30am, greet Sean and Lucas, then set out. We make one circuit around the course for the "Ran It with Janet" 50k, enjoying the gentle hills and sharing trail talk. At mile ~6 we meet a pack of friendly local runners. Open meadows offer lovely views.

"Is cannon the plural of cannon?" On the ridge near the Unfinished Railroad we spy RIwJ's founder, Janet, dancing down the stones and pausing to take photos. We jump for joy, mock-reenact the 30 August 1862 "Rock Fight" from the Second Battle of Manassas, then join JC for conversation and a few muddy-soggy miles. Light rains begin as we finish the loop and head for home.

(trackfile)

- Friday, June 02, 2017 at 06:06:32 (EDT)


Only Sit, Only Hurry

From Chapter 29 ("The Wordless Proclamation") of No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong:

... The spaciousness that characterizes samadhi is not a matter of conscious knowing; it is the equanimity of the "don't know" mind. As you become more and more able to return to this "don't know" mind (which is another name for the unborn, or emptiness, or self nature, or original mind) during zazen, you will find that you can begin functioning with it in your nonmeditation hours as well. For example, you will discover that you are not in the kind of hurry you've been used to and there will be a spaciousness in your work. There will be energy, curiosity, zest, humor, and joy. And there will also be a certain newness to everything because your living is an expression of the unborn. Even if it appears that what you are doing is the same old thing, you will find that it is new; you can see and appreciate the flowers on the roadside even as you just drive by. With spacious awareness as its foundation, this is the way that prajna functions in your daily life.

Remember, the center of a moving cyclone is still. You are not in a hurry, but things still get accomplished. It's not like you will suddenly start walking slowly or thinking slowly, but you will find that things are actually being accomplished and that they are getting done right on time by themselves. "We" are doing less. Nondoing is a good word for this. In this way absolute time is relative time. There's no need to be in a hurry, though if you are in a hurry, you should be aware that you're in a hurry, and you should hurry one hundred percent. When you "only hurry," it's no hurry at all. It's the same as "only sit." Only sit, only hurry. It's quite different and not at all the struggle of the dualistic hurry. It's only hurry as it is. Real practice enables us to live in this way.

When you become familiar with returning your radiance inward to your pervasive awareness and cultivate just this as your life-force, you can return and cultivate it anywhere. No matter where you are or what is going on, you can "fix" or "turn on" your mind. This phrase comes directly from my own experience with my teacher. In the early days Suzuki-roshi urged me to "fix my mind." That's what he said. After all these seasons I am now understanding that what he was urging me to do was to maintain my focus on this pervasive awareness everywhere, not only during zazen. He was encouraging me to regain the imperturbable composure in whatever I did so that I could be free. ...

(cf. Deliberate Speed (1999-08-23), Patience and Time (2005-01-11), Extreme Clarity (2006-12-15), Hurry Patiently (2008-12-14), ...)

- Thursday, June 01, 2017 at 05:52:07 (EDT)


2017-05-03 - John and Mark and Mark

~6.2 miles @ ~11.8 min/mi

"Hi Mark — I'm Mark too!" As Kristin and I cruise through downtown McLean a voice calls out. It's Joe, my "Best Boss Ever", seeing his sons John and Mark onto the school bus. The dawn is cool and pleasant; Dr K's pace is brisk; I call for walk breaks early and often. Venus glitters in the eastern sky as we set out.

"Her birthday was yesterday!" Kristin's daughter celebrated on the beach and, with her brother, in a virtual-world Minecraft marathon. We compare notes on work, family, plans.

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 04:36:30 (EDT)


Mantra - Keep Looking

  Keep
Looking

... from "How to Track an Animal" in the New York Times, a comment by Paul Rezendes:

"Once people label something, they think they know it. They stop looking, and they stop learning. You have to keep looking."

(cf. SeeingNature (2005-07-19), This Is Water (2009-05-21), Coming Back to Your Breath (2011-09-25), Bringing Back a Wandering Attention (2013-02-13), Pay Attention (2013-12-05), Intentional Attention (2014-07-29), Heart of Meditation (2016-01-22), ...)

- Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 05:12:25 (EDT)


Smile at the Buddha in Us

From Chapter 13 ("The Taste of Zen") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

What do we do in our zazen? We cut down the forest of our delusions and cultivate the fields of our true nature. Sitting quietly, we are cutting off, digging, cultivating the Buddha fields. This Buddha-dharma is deeply rooted in our ordinary, everyday activities; lofty discussions miss the mark. In this practice, we engage in our life work completely and fully, reaching our essential being and then expressing it, wherever we are. We can never come to a standstill on this path. We are always moving on, letting ourselves be moved on by the Buddha-dharma.

So how is the Buddha-dharma in Syracuse today? What is our practice right here, right now? It is always different. It is living. Moving. Changing. Always open. No static condition. Simple. Straightforward. Naturally harmonious. And it is a feeling of deep friendliness. This is the Buddha-dharma today in Syracuse in this room: a deep, wonderful connection with one another. We don't need to say a word, but we feel it. We do not need to smile at one another; we feel one another's bodies smiling at one another. But to smile at the Buddha in us, in each other, is not a bad idea. When you are sitting, every so often, smile at the Buddha in us. We do not need to be grim. This is a joyful practice. Coming through pain, coming through weariness, we experience wonderful joy.

These simple, quiet activities—just sitting, just walking, just eating, just cleaning—are helping us to find a vital way of living, a way to face things fearlessly, directly from our essential being. Today, we are looking at everything as if for the first time. We take no fixed positions; we let our opinions fall away. There is no inner voice insisting, "This is the way I have to do it." We are willing to find a new way to do it, a new way to look at it, a new way to open up. This is beginner's mind. We are giving ourselves entirely to each moment, just as we are, rooted on our cushions, rooted in the earth. Sitting on our cushions by our own effort, we feel the wonderful support and encouragement of all others present. What an extraordinary practice we have together: "self" and "other" not separate. In-breath. Out-breath. Receiving. Giving. Just this.

- Monday, May 29, 2017 at 07:11:20 (EDT)


2017-04-29 - C and O Canal 100 Miler

~100 miles @ ~17 min/mi

100

After seven attempts over seven years, the Sun laps me on 29-30 April 2017 and I complete the C&O Canal 100 Mile Race two hours ahead of the cutoffs — yay!

Oddly — or perhaps, not so oddly? — no big deal. From before the start until after the end: let go of expectations; stay open to possibilities; enjoy whatever the day brings; say Yes, and ...; be thankful. (Ditto through the night!)

It's all good.

Official results show total time 27:53:08, 41st of 66 finishers, with 52 DNFs among the 118 starters.

C&O Canal 100 - ^z just before the start

(pre-start - photo by Paul Encarnación)
Apt advice from the Osho Zen tarot card drawn the day before:

Knight of Water: Trust

Now is the moment to be a bungee jumper without the cord! And it is this quality of absolute trust, with no reservations or secret safety nets, that the Knight of Water demands from us. There is a tremendous sense of exhilaration if we can take the jump and move into the unknown, even if the idea scares us to death. And when we take trust to the level of the quantum leap, we don't make any elaborate plans or preparations. We don't say, "Okay, I trust that I know what to do now, and I'll settle my things and pack my suitcase and take it with me." No, we just jump, with hardly a thought for what happens next. The leap is the thing, and the thrill of it as we free-fall through the empty sky. ...

... and so today's race is a Zen leap off the 100 foot pole. No goals ...

Instead of last-minute packing the evening before — getting up at 2am, driving in pre-dawn darkness out to the race location, and starting tired — the non-plan this time is to take off from work the previous day, be at the start/finish area by late afternoon, nap there overnight, and just take it easy. Son Merle lends his car. Dear Dr Fonda, with help from her pup, Louis ze French Bulldog, applies Leukotape to feet to deter blisters and offers sage advice from her experience in 100 milers. Thank you, Stephanie!

Arrive at Camp Manadokan, register, and meet cheery Cheryl Clay and her daughter Emily (in charge of the volunteers). Cheryl and I make friends instantly. We're both in the midst of reading The Girl on the Train, we both are a bit nervous about camping out, we both concur on Big Life Issues, and we both are inveterate optimists. Cheryl and her husband live in Abingdon VA — next to the Virginia Creeper Trail, where Stephanie and I have signed up for a 100 mile race that starts on my 65th birthday in late September. Cheryl instantly makes a kind offer. Thank you, Ma'am!

Pre-ultramarathon diet is ultra-low-fiber: ramen for lunch, cheetos-and-cola-and-candy for dinner, iced coffee and crackers for breakfast. Sit in a camp chair and read as the sun sets. Wake at 2am during a thunderstorm. Get up at 5:30am to enjoy a clean indoor restroom with lights and running water at the camp dining hall. Feel happy.

C&O Canal 100 - ^z at mile 26

(mile 26 - photo by Paul Encarnación)
C&O Canal 100 - Adeline Ntam and ^z at mile 93

(mile 93 - photo by Paul Encarnación)
Prepare for near-record hot weather, temperatures rising into mid-to-upper 80's, humidity high. Trot for the first ~25 miles (~7am to ~12:30pm) at an average ~13 min/mi, with a 3:2 run:walk ratio, watch chirping every 5 minutes. Smile for passing showers.

When it really starts to get warm, shift for the next ~25 miles to a 1:4 ratio run:walk for a few hours, then to virtually all walking with only brief jogs to get through sunny patches. Average pace is now ~15 min/mi. Arrive at the midpoint of the race ~6:45pm, a nice sub-12 hour 50 miler.

On the initial segment of the run, heading toward Antietam, catch up with a group of young ladies. "My GPS says 5 miles," one says.

"What percentage have we done now?" I ask her.

"I don't know — 20%?"

We laugh together.

During the race, eat almost no solid food: a few small boiled potatoes dipped in salt, a couple of cookies, a fragment of fruit, a handful of M&M candies. Instead, at every aid station refill bottles with sugary Gatorade or Tailwind electrolyte liquids. Take ~30 Succeed! e-caps to replace sodium and potassium sweated out. Suck down a couple dozen energy gels.

In mid-afternoon, meet a strange cyclist (Asperger syndrome, perhaps?) who rides slowly alongside and lectures about his plans to grow trees on Mars, to set up orbiting fleets of drones to pick up space debris, etc. He has no fixed address, he says, and is on his way to Washington DC to find a shelter to live in. He hopes to meet with Congressmen to lobby against penalties for non-child-support, then celebrate Ramadan next month. After half an hour, tell him politely that I need time alone to think and recenter. He thanks me and cheerfully pedals ahead.

Throughout the race meet friendly fellow runners, walk and visit with them, then send them onward. Applaud über-helpful volunteers. On the canal towpath greet former colleague Alby (Bill) doing the One Day Hike to Harpers Ferry. Say "Hi!" to comrade Bernadette on her bike, riding behind her son. Spy a northern water snake lying on the trail, and countless turtles sunning themselves on logs by the water.

C&O Canal 100 - ^z with ice pops at mile 93

(mile 93 aid station - photo by Paul Encarnación)
C&O Canal 100 - ^z at mile 99 stream crossing

(mile 99 - photo by Adeline Ntam)
At ~2am, try to take a power nap — sit eyes-closed in a camp chair at an aid station and listen to cowbells ring for runners coming in. Get up after 5 minutes of non-sleepiness and carry on.

Enjoy fascinating perceptual hallucinations from 3-7am: pattern-matching routines in the brain go on overdrive and conjure up artificial structures from random leaf and branch arrangements. See imaginary walls, bookcases, signs, power lines, tunnels, bridges, houses, statues of horses, etc. in the brush alongside the towpath. Know that they're fictional.

Early Sunday morning listen to freight trains clash as they couple and uncouple cars. Change socks at miles 30, 40, 50, and 60. Swap into dry shoes at 9:45pm after getting a wet foot during a stream crossing.

Walk the final 50 miles in ~16 hours, averaging about 19 minutes/mile, staying ~2 hours ahead of all cutoffs. Trade sweat-soaked shirts, and discover that singlets expose shoulders to chafing from pack straps. John Hord greases my back. Thank you, Sir!

"I practice Active Recovery," ultra-buddy Adeline Ntam tells me as we walk together for the final 7 miles. She describes how exercise after an ultramarathon can help.

"OK," I say. "Let's start our Active Recovery now!" We begin to trot together, and laugh. Adeline is signed up for the tough Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 miler next weekend. She takes photos of me as I climb the final hill and reach the finish line. Thank you, Addie!

Thoughts for the future? Mainly, don't be stingy with tape: apply it between toes and farther up the sides of feet and heels, with greater overlap. Blisters are no fun. This time, experience only a few small ones.

And keep letting go of goals!

C&O Canal 100 - ^z at mile 99 on final climb

(mile 99 - photo by Adeline Ntam)

History of ^z 100 mile races:

Date Race Distance
(miles)
Pace
(min/mi)
Time
(hours)
Comments
2010-05-05MMT 100532017.4with Kate Abbott: blisters, tired, too slow for next cutoff
2012-04-07Philadelphia 100521916with Jackie Ong: tired, indigestion, other things to do
2013-04-27C&O Canal 100521719blisters
2013-10-12Tesla-Hertz 100621718crewed by Rayna Matsuno: tired, other things to do
2014-04-26C&O Canal 100691720blisters
2015-03-28Umstead 100751620.4crewed by Mary Ewell: blisters, indigestion, other things to do
2016-12-17Devil Dog 100421812.5ice storm, tired, too slow for next cutoff
2017-04-29C&O Canal 1001001727.9No worries!

Split data from the kind volunteers who check runners into each aid station:

Location Distance
(miles)
Seg.
Pace
(min/mi)
Cum.
Pace
(min/mi)
Elapsed
Time
Clock
Time
Cutoff
Time
Antietam 16.313.313.31:23:338:23 AM
North Turnaround 110.112.713.02:11:389:11 AM
Antietam 213.912.713.03:00:0210:00 AM
Dargan 118.812.812.94:02:5411:02 AM
Keep Tryst 125.713.313.05:34:2212:34 PM
Brunswick 128.814.713.26:20:031:20 PM
Lander Rd 133.014.413.47:20:422:20 PM
Nolands Ferry 139.415.613.79:00:374:00 PM
Lander Rd 245.816.314.110:45:015:45 PM
Brunswick 250.014.314.111:45:076:45 PM
Keep Tryst 253.117.814.312:40:137:40 PM
Manidokan 159.618.914.814:42:459:42 PM 12:00 AM
Keep Tryst 366.120.615.416:56:2011:56 PM
Brunswick 369.219.615.617:56:5812:56 AM
Lander Rd 373.418.515.719:14:302:14 AM
Nolands Ferry 279.819.416.021:18:544:18 AM 6:30 AM
Lander Rd 486.220.016.323:27:096:27 AM
Brunswick 490.418.316.424:43:537:43 AM 9:45 AM
Keep Tryst 493.519.816.525:45:218:45 AM
Manidokan 2100.019.716.727:53:0810:53 AM 1:00 PM

- Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 09:06:25 (EDT)


Mantra - Attention, Attention, Attention

Attention
  Attention
    Attention

... in Philip Kapleau's The Three Pillars of Zen:

One day a man of the people said to Zen Master Ikkyu: 'Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?' Ikkyu immediately took his brush and wrote the word 'Attention.' 'Is that all?' asked the man. "Will you not add something more?' Ikkyu then wrote twice running: 'Attention. Attention.' 'Well,' remarked the man rather irritably, 'I really don't see much depth or subtlety in what you have just written.' Then Ikkyu wrote the same word three times running: 'Attention. Attention. Attention.' Half-angered, the man demanded: 'What does that word "attention" mean anyway?' And Ikkyu answered gently: 'Attention means attention.'

... and note the "gently" in that answer ...

(cf. Present-Moment Reality (2008-11-05), Mantra - Notice and Return (2014-11-30), Attention (2015-03-03), Just Zazen (2017-01-29), ...)

- Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 06:46:27 (EDT)


Quiet Spaces of the Mind

From a eulogy-essay for climber Royal Robbins (1935-2017), "On the Rock, Looking Inward and Outward" by Katie Ives:

The stories of adventurers, Robbins believed, should be about more than just entertainment or escapism; the forms of their narratives become natural metaphors for how humans interact with the wild. Much of modern Western society remains enthralled by tales of human dominion over nature and dreams of endless technological expansion. In contrast, Robbins embraced a philosophy of limits and absences: the holes that climbers didn't drill into the stone; the traces they didn't leave behind; the quiet spaces of the mind they explored in airy solitude. If an excess piton could symbolize a misplaced word in a poem, the silences between the lines represent his proudest work, gaps that reflect an inexpressible mystery he ... sensed within the world.

(cf. California Sherpa (2000-05-27), The Belay (2004-04-10), Touching the Void (2004-06-02), Mount Dana and Mono Lake (2004-09-03), Eastern Yosemite Mountains (2006-06-02), Mount Whitney (2007-06-16), John Muir (2008-07-27), Between (2009-12-10), Gap Between the Worlds (2013-01-12), Space Between (2013-10-13), Betwixt (2015-07-04), Work the Whitespace (2017-05-07), ...)

- Friday, May 26, 2017 at 04:54:01 (EDT)


Become Softer

From Chapter 19 ("You Can't Get Off the Train") of No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong:

... Think of all the people who have the same feeling you have—maybe of failure or of anger at someone. Sometimes when we become very angry, we can do something about it in the situation, and sometimes we can't. So who do you beat up? Guess. You know the answer; the closest one to you is yourself. And you do it even though you may not be aware that you are doing it. This is why we have to become softer. We just need to be kinder to ourselves because we deserve it. Why beat ourselves up? Isn't it better to just let go of the dialogue? Let it go completely? We've been doing this for thirty, forty, fifty years. It's very strong conditioning. And our compassion is the practice of unconditioning. We already have the discipline, and we already have the strength, so all we have to do is to let it go. Little by little allow the old story line to dissolve. ...

- Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 04:47:41 (EDT)


Anna of All the Russias

He loved three things alone:
White peacocks, evensong,
Old maps of America.

He hated children crying,
And raspberry jam with his tea,
And womanish hysteria.

... And he married me.

Born in 1889, died in 1966: poet Anna Akhmatova late in life "... was praised on every side. To the mass reader, her simplicity made her poems easy to understand and memorise. The liberals saw her as an opponent of Stalinism, religious people recognised her love of God, patriots saw she was deeply Russian. Even Communists observed that she had never been outspokenly anti-Soviet."

So reads biographer Elaine Feinstein's verdict near the end of Anna of All the Russias: A Life of Anna Akhmatova. Along the way, though, are decades of narcissistic genius, financial foolishness, heavy drinking, irrational haste, chronic health issues, and embarrassing long-term rivalries with the wives or husbands of many with whom she had passionate affairs. Akhmatova — a pen name chosen in youth — grew up beautiful and brilliant, lived a life of chaos, fought authority, and somehow survived thanks to the charity of friends and admirers and lovers.

Feinstein is meticulous, unblinking in detailing Akhmatova's history. Her personal translations of excerpts from Akhmatova's work are, however, brief and unmusical. Read the poems elsewhere! (The D M Thomas translation above is from Sevenling.)

- Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 05:16:58 (EDT)


2017-04-24 - Baby Whisperer

~6.1 miles @ ~13.3 min/mi

"They call her the Baby Whisperer!" The new job of a Dawn Patrol daughter is taking care of twin 3-month-olds. So far all's well, if rather intense! Light drizzle on a cool morning bedews beautiful tulips and azaleas in Pimmit Hills. Jinx the cat continues to earn the name, as further problems require yet another vet visit. Cait reports on yesterday's GW Parkway Classic 10 miler, which turned out great. Kristin recommends cross-training by stacking cords of wood for the fireplace; Kerry did heavy gardening over the weekend. A damp rabbit scampers across the road in front of us.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 04:46:56 (EDT)


100-and-Crazy Percent

The short-lived comedy TV series Better Off Ted featured a flock of fine over-the-top exaggerated characters who work together at a dysfunctional high-tech company. Best of all, perhaps, is the senior manager Veronica Palmer, played by Portia de Rossi. Sample dialogue between her and minion Linda [1]:

Veronica: A female mentor would have been very valuable for a young Veronica, bursting with potential, yet vulnerable, like a fawn in the woods, but tough, like a fawn in the woods with a machine gun.

Linda: So you're saying you, or this terrifying, murderous fawn, could have used some guidance?

Veronica: Yes, we would have liked that. We're going to raise more money for this charity than it ever has before. The forest will run red with the blood of woodland creatures who doubted little Veronica and will now pay with their furry little lives.

Linda: There's really no middle ground with you. Either you don't care at all, or you care 100-and-crazy-percent.

Veronica: What else is there? Now saddle up Linda, and say goodbye to common sense.

- Monday, May 22, 2017 at 04:55:58 (EDT)


2017-04-23 - RCT Wordplay with Stephanie

~10.3 miles @ ~14.6 min/mi

"It's not the end of the world until it's the end of the world!" Dr Stephanie leads a run northward, with digressions to snag iced coffee and to explore a twisty maze of hitherto unknown natural-surface trails in Rock Creek Regional Park. We encounter a mysterious woodsman who directs us in precisely the wrong direction, discover a secret community garden, loop, branch, backtrack, and eventually find our way to terra cognita.

"Just playing anagrams!" we explain to a passing dog-walker, as we stand on various letters of the words "DANGER - INTERSECTION AHEAD" painted on the path. Big books are analyzed and critiqued: The Sympathizer meets The Master and Margarita versus The Girl on the Train, along with less-literary self-improvement tomes that are still worth skimming. Fast ultrarunner Enrique Rubio greets us as he pauses on a cycling expedition. Lovely flowers provide springtime selfie opportunities.

(trackfile)

- Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 06:03:39 (EDT)


Mantra - Hear the Happy Birds

Hear
  the
    Happy
      Birds!

... a reminder from a dear friend to pay attention, always — and to notice the music, everywhere ...

... especially after a long, hard, sad, dark night — when dawn is about to begin, and the world begins to smile ...

- Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 05:55:04 (EDT)


2017-04-22 - Zoo Ramble with Gayatri

~19.8 miles @ ~13.4 min/mi

"Ghora dekhle khora!" Gayatri teaches me a Bengali proverb. It rhymes and loosely means, "See a horse, and suddenly you can't walk!" For us today, though, it's "See a loo, and suddenly you need to ...!" We're running down Rock Creek to the National Zoo early on a hyper-humid Saturday morning. At ~0535 I set off to the rendezvous point; when we meet at ~0600 Gayatri discovers that she accidentally has her husband Atin's wallet. Oops! After a quick drive back to quietly drop it off, we're ready to start.

"We'll spread a rumor that you're creating gigantic apes!" At the Zoo we explore a side road, apparently toward a restricted area, and are sternly told to turn back. A staffer says that there's a genetics lab hidden in the woods there. Conspiracy, anyone?

"Naach na jaane aangan tehra!" Gayatri quotes a Hindi saying, "Can't dance, says the floor is tilted" - akin to "A poor workman blames the tools." Outbound at Peirce Mill we chat with John and his ultramarathon comrade, David Fink. A colleague from the office running upstream says, "Hi, Mark!" As we return we meet Barry. Small world!

(trackfile)

- Friday, May 19, 2017 at 04:22:26 (EDT)


2017-04-22 - Candy Cane Rendezvous

~2.2 miles @ ~12.5 min/mi

"Good morning, Gayatri!" — "Good morning, Mark!" At 6am we arrive at the Candy Cane City playground on Rock Creek simultaneously, driving and on foot respectively. But suddenly Gayatri discovers that her husband Atin's wallet is somehow in the car with her. Oops! After a quick trip back to drop it off at her home, we're ready to start running ...

(trackfile)

- Friday, May 19, 2017 at 04:19:08 (EDT)


Nothing Lasts Forever

From Chapter 12 ("Taking It Home") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

... Everything changes. Nothing lasts forever—not even these things that we may think are so true. A dogmatic attitude about these matters, about one's beliefs and opinions, is against the true nature of things. It doesn't fit. Sitting on the cushion, we understand this. We come to understand these changes. We are experiencing the subtle changes in our attitude, in our body and its condition, in the way we taste our food in the way our feet feel the floor, in the way we hear everything. Everything changes. This moment is what we have: nothing else. That's it. So open up to it more and more. No intolerant and self-righteous attitudes, please. Just find out for yourselves, in a calm and reasonable way, what this wonderful practice is about. Let us accept and work with whatever our present condition has brought us. And in doing this, even a hard life can become a joyful one. Sitting on the cushion, we are tuning in to the first principle of the universe, sensing what an amazing and marvelous opportunity this life as a human being is.

- Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 04:41:40 (EDT)


2017-04-21 - Jinx Returns

~7.0 miles @ ~13.7 min/mi

"She's got a cone around her neck, her tail is half-shaved, and she's just happy to be home!" Jinx, a family cat, is back after several weeks at an undisclosed location. The Dawn Patrol sympathizes. Low clouds tickle the tops of Tysons Corner office buildings; heavy traffic makes for long pauses at crosswalks. Kristin, Kerry, and Cait catch up on news and share ideas for better communication. Sometimes polishing a message to perfection isn't as valuable as a faster good-enough response.

"Take everybody out shopping together!" - "Assign someone to bake goodies for the next meeting!" - "Teach them to pull their hair back into a Power Bun!" We brainstorm how to help some senior manager-colleagues escape their usual comfort zones. Hmmmmm ... that last suggestion might not work for the follicly-challenged!

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 04:41:36 (EDT)


Compassion_Breath

From Chapter 19 ("You Can't Get Off the Train") of No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong:

... I think it's pretty true to say that we're all on a train. The scenery is going by quickly, and you can't hold on to anything; you have to stay and keep going down the track. It's when you hold on to something, or even try to hold on, that you are not on the train anymore. But our way tells us to release what we are holding so that we can keep going and stay on track. What it really comes down to is the wisdom and compassion of non-avoidance. You just keep going, and as you do, working with the practice called the compassion breath, you know how to transmute what you see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and think every day. And the truth is that, with practice, this process helps you learn to be kind to yourself and to all beings as well.

We have the capacity to take in an enormous amount of negativity and to let it go its way. We don't avoid anything because we know we can work with it. Most people don't know what to do when they notice unwanted thoughts and feelings within themselves, or see a dead animal on the road, or killing on television shows or in the news, or the many homeless and starving people right beside them as they walk down the street. And then there's drugs, alcohol, AIDS, and cancer. People feel overwhelmed, and the result is that often their hearts turn hard and cold. I'm sorry to say it, but it's true. The normal response to these things would be that everyone should be crying—this is the awakening of compassion—but the ignorance of sentient beings causes us to continue to enhance samsara. The practice of compassion breath allows our hearts to remain soft and open while our spirit and life-force are replenished. And our tears are part of this replenishment, an important part. You do not have to be a Buddhist to do this; it is meant to be used by all human beings, everywhere, even while standing on a train. ...

- Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 05:40:05 (EDT)


2017-04-19 - Wet Wandering

~7.3 miles @ ~13.3 min/mi

"Projectile vomiting!" - "Diaper overflow!" - "Three-month-old twins!" - "In the car!" - "At the store!" The Dawn Patrol is full strength this morning, and conversation turns to topics not unrelated to things that happen during ultramarathons, as well as to parents of young kids. Big raindrops fall, pause, then start again as we meander through Langley. Cait and Kerry are back from long road trips to visit family; Kristin updates them on local news. We reverse our usual route and take the Heather Brook - Mackall cut-through in a new direction. Birds chirp and tulips glow. Dogwood and cherry blossom trees drop petals to blanket the sidewalks.

(trackfile)

- Monday, May 15, 2017 at 05:19:24 (EDT)


Peripheral

William Gibson's 2014 novel The Peripheral is a romp, a techno-sf story much in the spirit of his 1984 first book Neuromancer, with nano-scale assemblers, artificial intelligence, robot-body telepresence, vast wealth, ninja-style hyperviolence, cross-time many-worlds communications, mysterious über-powerful characters, and various flavors of dystopia — shuffled together in an alternate chapter structure with near-present-day small-town trailer-park poverty, personal/family loyalty, fast food carry-out, and semi-rural megamarts.

There's not a lot of wrestling with deep philosophical questions, nor radical new scientific concepts. Set aside titanic challenges, like how to power and control nanobots as they break-and-build countless chemical bonds to let characters walk through walls or dissolve enemy bodies. Ignore issues of all-powerful conspiracies that nonetheless require single-person heroics to solve cosmic problems. The language is good, the imagery poetic, the atmosphere and characters engaging, and the story comes together nicely. The Peripheral is a first-class roller-coaster ride.

(cf. Data Space (2005-12-31), Situational Strategy (2007-06-11), ...)

- Sunday, May 14, 2017 at 06:55:29 (EDT)


2017-04-17 - Happy Birds

~7.2 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"Don't say that out loud!" Today's trail talk addresses how to listen better to somebody who needs validation and affirmation, not conversation or communication. Big raindrops fall, pause, then start again. Kristin sets a fast pace as we re-explore the under-construction zone between Hwy 123 and the Beltway, then loop east through McLean. From in front of Starbucks we send a GPS push-pin, "Free iced coffee if your name is Kerry!", but get no response from Dr K who has been away on travel for the past week.

"Hear the Happy Birds!" My boss Joe from 15 years ago drives past and waves. Clouds part for sunbeams to cast long shadows in front of us. What a lovely way to start the week!

(trackfile)

- Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 07:43:23 (EDT)


Category Theory for Programmers

Some comments from from a discussion last month about the book Category Theory for Programmers by Bartosz Milewski:

(cf. Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), Category Theory Concepts (2016-04-25), Bird's-Eye View (2016-07-20), ...)

- Friday, May 12, 2017 at 04:54:06 (EDT)


2017-04-15 - Zoo Run

~18.4 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"Bhattacharyya!" Gayatri patiently pronounces, spells, and describes the name of her Father. "It's actually a formal title," she explains. We're running down Rock Creek to the National Zoo and back. Four deer cross the road and pause to eye us, well-camouflaged against the brown leaf-covered hillside. A family sets up for a picnic-party in the meadow near Peirce Mill. Construction barriers force slight detours where Beach Drive is being rebuilt.

"But he thought things through!" Gayatri compliments a past US President not usually praised for his intellectual depth. We pause for selfies at the Jusserand Memorial and enjoy quiet conversation on a cool morning together.

(trackfile)

- Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 05:14:34 (EDT)


Listen to the Sound of the Gong

From Chapter 12 ("Taking It Home") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

In the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha instructs us to enter samadhi, this deep, concentrated state of mind, from listening—starting with listening, being one with listening. Thich Nhat Hanh asks his students just to listen to the sound of the gong. Every so often he stops talking and just does this. (Gong is struck.) When we strike this gong we should let it sing down to its bottom drop, like this. It takes our zazen right down if your mind is with that sound, the whole body and mind with that sound. It's a most wonderful way to enter samadhi. So those of you who strike the gong, take your time. Don't go (gong is run three times in quick succession). No good. It sounds like a fire alarm. (Gong is rung once.) One clear sound. One pure, clear sound. No thoughts about whether that sound is soft or that sound is harsh or why didn't I strike this gong better or whatever. Just do it! Just listen. Just be here with the sound.

- Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 04:42:14 (EDT)


2017-04-14 - Noughts and Crosses

~7.1 miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

"Like a giant tic-tac-toe board! See, there's an X, the first move!" Kristin points to pink contrails that crisscross the sky as the sun prepares to rise and a gibbous moon sinks in the west. Today's Dawn Patrol is only two strong, one of us puny with a head cold and poison ivy. The other pulls him along at a brisk pace. The fountain on the W&OD Trail at Route 7 leaks a puddle across the path; the Hot Yoga Studio appears to be closed for Good Friday.

"Which way now? Usually we go left here." - "Uh, you do know that whenever I hear the word 'Usually', I have to pick the opposite!" So then, obviously, we head the other way. A fire engine and an ambulance, lights flashing, pull into the Safeway gas station as we sprint past on the final stretch. Rabbit Count = 1, big but scruffy.

"This is so nice - thank you!"

(trackfile)

- Monday, May 08, 2017 at 04:22:52 (EDT)


Work the Whitespace

A colleague recently mentioned the value of "... doing research in the white spaces ..." — attending to the gaps between what others are doing, the holes that need filling, the missing steps where something important might be hiding.

How obvious, and how often overlooked — not just in "research", but in every moment. And, turning that around, what about the "blackspace", the plenum (a wonderful word!) that's full, or seems to be ...

And then: everything in between ...

(cf. Mandatory Inversion (1999-09-02), MarginAlia (2001-03-12), Between (2009-12-10), Space Between (2013-10-13), Pause and Breathe (2014-07-25), Attention (2015-03-03), Betwixt (2015-07-04), Mantra - Gap (2015-11-11), ...)

- Sunday, May 07, 2017 at 06:17:42 (EDT)


2017-04-12 - Short Long Run

~7.5 miles @ ~12.8 min/mi

"I'm still sick." - "I don't feel so good either." - "Let's only do a few miles." - "OK!" ... and an hour later, as the Dawn Patrol is still trotting along, we all laugh about how the definition of "a few" has evolved. Kristin leads us east toward a papaya-orange sunrise. Cait shares photos of her mother's cookie artistry. Tulips and phlox and spiraea and redbuds blossom in profusion.

"Slam dunk!" A basketball hoop hangs far below regulation height by the road. We visit the Eagle House, the Lavender Cottage, and meander back through quiet neighborhoods. Trail talk includes career advice and sets a record for usage of the F-bomb!

(trackfile)

- Saturday, May 06, 2017 at 04:33:04 (EDT)


Being the Moment

From Chapter 19 ("You Can't Get Off the Train") of No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong:

... What zazen really is has been explained in many different ways. Suzuki-roshi used to say shikan taza is our zazen, but as I've mentioned, the words and phrases used to express Zen practice can sound pretty abstract, and almost any explanation is conceptual. It can't really touch the experience itself. Suzuki-roshi put it very simply: "Just to be ourselves." Four words, but what they express is so deep and so subtle that we miss it until we begin slowing down. He said our practice is following our breath. But the true meaning of this, the deep meaning, is that you are vividly alive. The method says to follow your breath, but its meaning is that you are invisibly present and alive, just like a spinning top that goes faster and faster until it disappears. Without method, without expectation, without counting your breath, you are alive moment to moment; alive in this space that is nowhere else but right here within yourself. Others have said that zazen or shikan taza means being present in this very moment, but even that's not it. It's being the moment. It's being each moment after moment after moment in zazen, before zazen, and after zazen as well. And of course that's the manifestation or actualization of your original mind. "Just to be ourselves." This is shikan taza. ...

- Friday, May 05, 2017 at 04:12:51 (EDT)


2017-04-10 - Luggage Problem

~5.3 miles @ ~13.0 min/mi

"Your suitcase is smoking!" Cait recounts an airport situation after a carbon dioxide canister abruptly vents, resulting in rapid cooling, a cloud of fog, and a massive underwear freeze. Oops!

Kristin leads the Dawn Patrol on a meander past the McLean Public Library. Tulip buds are opening. We share a lovely sunrise, and spy three rabbits and three big deer.

(trackfile)

- Thursday, May 04, 2017 at 05:40:50 (EDT)


Girl on the Train

Brilliant: the 2015 novel The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins — with its archetypal unreliable narrator and its explorations of responsibility and consciousness, justice and truth, love and oneness.

Ditto: the 2016 film — dense, dark, and poetic, screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson who also wrote the script for the 2002 Secretary.

Striking: the scene near the end of the movie, as character Megan is told by Dr Abdic:

You don't have to be afraid of being alone.
You're not alone.

Echoes: running solo in the wilderness — deep into the night, surrounded and embraced by the universe, alone and not alone.

(cf. Worst Zen Student That Ever Was (2012-03-10), ...)

- Wednesday, May 03, 2017 at 04:58:03 (EDT)


2017-04-09 - Pizza and Beer

~5.6 miles @ ~14.0 min/mi

"Tic-Tac-Toe?!" Barry accepts the challenge and we play fiercely to a tie on a flip-the-panel 3x3 array of big yellow plastic X's and O's. We're at the Colt Terrace Neighborhood Park, a playground for little kids, stretching the legs and working up appetites for pizza. A young couple busy snoggling occupies the bench where Barry had hoped to do stretches. No matter!

"La Cerveza mas Fina" reads the label on the Corona Extra bottle lying on Inwood Avenue at mile 4, apparently unopened. Finders Keepers! Dr Stephanie texts us from the West Coast, awaiting her flight back after a mountainous trail run. "Barry will be the starting pitcher for the Nats soon," we lie, along with other outrageous tales. "He is a man of many talents, for sure!" she replies.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, May 02, 2017 at 06:18:15 (EDT)


Enter from Wherever You Are

From Chapter 12 ("Taking It Home") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

... What does it mean to study Zen? We often hear, "Where can I enter the way of Zen? How can I study Zen?" When a student asked this of the Zen master Kyosei, the master asked a question in turn: "What is the noise outside?" "That is the voice of the raindrops," the student said. "Enter from there," Kyosei replied.

Right now, enter from wherever you are. It's all open, an open secret. Enter from listening to the birds. Enter from feeling the sunlight in this room. There are any number of wonderful ways to study Zen. There are lots of books about Zen, and some of them are helpful. Some of them are an impediment. What is most important is how you feel it yourself. How does this transform your life? How deeply are you willing to go into the roots of your Self? How willing are you to really know who you are? Many of us are afraid to do that. We just take the soft, pallid approach: "Oh, this makes me feel good. Ah yes, I feel better now." Sometimes I want to say, "I'm sorry about that." I wish you felt something so deeply that then, eventually, you'd have true peace of mind. Then, no matter what comes, it won't knock you about. ...

- Monday, May 01, 2017 at 06:23:41 (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), 0.91 (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), 0.9903 (February-March 2013), 0.9904 (March-May 2013), 0.9905 (May-July 2013), 0.9906 (July-September 2013), 0.9907 (September-October 2013), 0.9908 (October-December 2013), 0.9909 (December 2013-February 2014), 0.9910 (February-May 2014), 0.9911 (May-July 2014), 0.9912 (July-August 2014), 0.9913 (August-October 2014), 0.9914 (November 2014-January 2015), 0.9915 (January-April 2015), 0.9916 (April-July 2015), 0.9917 (July-September 2015), 0.9918 (September-November 2015), 0.9919 (November 2015-January 2016), 0.9920 (January-April 2016), 0.9921 (April-June 2016), 0.9922 (June-July 2016), 0.9923 (July-September 2016), 0.9924 (October-December 2016), 0.9925 (January-February 2017), 0.9926 (March-April 2017), ... Current Volume. Send comments and suggestions to z (at) his.com. Thank you! (Copyright © 1999-2017 by Mark Zimmermann.)

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