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Howdy, pilgrim! You're in the ^zhurnal — since 1999, a journal of musings on mind, method, metaphor, and matters miscellaneous — previous volume = 0.9946. Click headlines to browse, comment, or edit the ^zhurnalyWiki. Page-top links provide random mantras, tarots, unicorns, power thoughts, and meditative suggestions. For a lovely little mint-tin deck of mindfulness reminders see Open Mind OM Cards.

LOOPY - From At Risk to Thriving

http://zhurnaly.com/images/LOOPY/LOOPY_from-At-Risk-to-Thriving.pngHow can a child (or anyone else!) move from deep poverty toward a happy, productive life? A thoughtful talk at the October 2021 "Black Heroes of Mathematics" conference by Maurine Atieno Songa suggests factors that can work together to catalyze success:
      • identifiable heroes
      • dreams beyond one's current surroundings
      • financial resources
      • encouragement
      • long-term career vision

Ms Songa went from a rural village in Keyna to her current place as a PhD student of Category Theory at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She credits a combination of these forces.

How to improve the odds for others to do likewise?

(sketch thanks to LOOPY2, an ultralight tool for systems thinking ©2021 MITRE Corporation ...)

- Monday, October 25, 2021 at 06:43:11 (EDT)

2021-09-25 - Milking Stations

~8.3 mi @ ~21 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Milking-Station_Glen-Haven-Park_2021-09-25a.jpg"They're milking stations!" Farm-bred 🔥 identifies mysterious iron artifacts that 🤖 discovers on a narrow path through the woods to Glen Haven Neighborhood Park, between McMahon Road and Windham Lane.
Perhaps the structures are remnants of a barn? Concrete slabs are covered with graffiti. 🧸 tells of the Montana Marathon and Stella's Bakery with its legendary cinnamon rolls.http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Milking-Station_Glen-Haven-Park_2021-09-25b.jpg


- Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 07:19:05 (EDT)

2021-09-24 - Grateful, Thankful, Blessed

~1.6 mi @ ~23 min/mi

"You have time to get coffee!" the dentist's aide promises. That doesn't allow for Friday morning rush hour lines at the Olney Starbucks, or for getting lost, climbing through fence rails to escape a dead-end, and pausing for pics. No worries though – as a painted mailbox promises, "Grateful, Thankful, Blessed!" The Metrobus homeward is empty.


- Saturday, October 23, 2021 at 07:40:32 (EDT)

2021-09-23 - Falafel Run

~2.9 mi @ ~16.1 min/mi

"We close in 20 minutes!" warns the voice on the phone from Goldberg's New York Bagels.

"I'll be there in 10!" promises 🤖, on a Thursday afternoon mission to get falafel wraps for a late lunch. Run the downhills, speed-walk the climbs, and make it on time! Three little birds perch in a front yard.


- Friday, October 22, 2021 at 05:56:46 (EDT)

Metacognitive Reading

Thomas Oppong's essay "How to Use Metacognition Skills to Remember 90% of What You Read" (subtitled "Reading is not a race – make time to learn, recall and think") offers a range of good suggestions for awareness and improvement of one's reading. He quotes:

Oppong observes that deep readers often:

His concluding recommendations: "Slow down. Think about the ideas. Be analytical. And remember to summarise in your own words. Start every book with a goal. Some books are not meant to be read faster. Choose your reading style wisely."

(and contrariwise, as Owen Webster said in his wonderfully metacognitive 1965 book Read Well and Remember, sometimes it's best to consciously speed up, then reread – or as Boswell described Samuel Johnson as doing, scan and skim without guilt! – cf. Read Well and Remember (2002-07-31), Read Through (2003-02-16), Ralph Waldo Emerson (2003-08-05), ...)

- Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 06:46:51 (EDT)

2021-09-20 - Bananas and Chocolate

~2.2 mi @ ~20 min/mi

"Whole Wheat EVERYTHING!" Afternoon selection at the bagel bakery is limited, yet somehow perfect. Cover-for-Action on Monday's ramble is a falafel wrap fetch. A quick side trip to the grocery store finds bananas and chocolate. All Food Groups are covered!


- Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 06:29:35 (EDT)

2021-09-19 - With the Tide

~2.4 mi @ ~18.3 min/mi

"Out with the ebb tide, on some farther quest." A grave marker quotes Edith Wharton's poem "With the Tide", written the day after Theodore Roosevelt's death. It's a celebration of friendship and duty, adventure and hope, life and love – a thoughtful gift at the local cemetery, a mindful surprise on the way to pick up Chinese carry-out for a late lunch!


- Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at 06:13:20 (EDT)

2021-09-18 - Submarine

~2.9 mi @ ~14.5 min/mi

"Let's try a Chicken Parm Sub!" The direct route is to Pacci's Trattoria is only a quarter mile, so take the long way to earn (some of) the calories. Gates and pool are closed at the local swim club, and paths through the woods are overgrown. Sporadic semi-sprints pull the pace down to sub-15 min/mi and make up for food delays. Forest Glen "Castle" looms nearby.


- Monday, October 18, 2021 at 06:08:42 (EDT)

2021-09-17 - Open Mind

~3.2 mi @ ~16 min/mi

"What if there's something you haven't learned that could change everything?" asks a mindfulness bulletin board near the meditative labyrinth. What a perfect question! Other postings counsel Silence, Hope, Appreciation, Discovery, and Care. Friday afternoon's taco trek sees wee bits of all those, along with Kensington Bad Dad Joke Day #517: "When I was at the beach I saw a big Seagull – maybe a D-gull, but not big enough to be an Eagle."


- Sunday, October 17, 2021 at 05:20:56 (EDT)

2021-09-15 - Crosby Place

~2.6 mi @ ~19.6 min/mi

"END" says the sign at the end of Crosby Place, a mystery street with hypermodern houses on one side and thickets of impenetrable vines on the other. A tributary of Forest Glen Creek stops at a barrier of ragged brush. No new ways through today!


- Friday, October 15, 2021 at 05:57:49 (EDT)

Peter Schmidt

Peter Schmidt (1931-1980) was an artist and art teacher who worked with musician Brian Eno. From Eno's "Homage to the Missing Collaborator" (1987):

"... he was remarkably free of envy. His work was very much a personal inquiry, a continuous questioning of deeper and deeper assumptions, a delight in finding himself in new territory without answers, and thus innocent. We are always innocent, unless, from laziness or for convenience, we decide to overlook the novelty of the moment, this particular now. It seemed to me that Peter was more capable than anybody else I have ever known of following that understanding through in his actions. He was always alert to those little byways of thought that might open out onto whole new vistas, and he followed them with a quiet kind of courage ..."

"... He wrote to me once, 'In a roomful of shouting people, the one who whispers becomes interesting.' ..."

"... his work is full of seeds, any one of which could form the basis of a healthy artistic career (and many of which probably have). ... To follow the threads that are woven through his work, to watch the way that they cross and mesh with new threads and with older ones picked up again is to see a graceful and brilliant dance in motion. That this same pace and brilliance characterized his everyday life came, at first, as something of a surprise. He never raised his voice. ..."

And another Brian Eno comment (from "A Year With Swollen Appendices", 1996):

"... My friend Peter Schmidt used to talk about 'not doing the things that nobody had ever thought of not doing', which is an inverse process – where you leave out an assumption that everybody has always made and see what happens ..."

Zen thoughts on the value of nothing and noting and not and now!

(cf http://www.peterschmidtweb.com/, and No Beginning, No End (2013-03-24), Charlotte Joko Beck (2014-08-18), No-Self (2014-12-25), Holding Space (2016-07-22), Naked Truth (2017-06-26), No Separation (2017-08-03), Nothing, Sacred (2018-06-07), ...)

- Thursday, October 14, 2021 at 06:12:35 (EDT)

2021-09-14 - New Old Motor

~2.2 mi @ ~19.8 min/mi

"Come see your car without an engine!" invites the mechanic, midway through a major operation. Tuesday afternoon revisits wooded trails leading to Rock Creek, narrow pathways between trees and ivy. A garden gnome bears a striking resemblance to somebody. "I'm hiding in the bushes!"


- Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 06:54:36 (EDT)

Mantra - Think Small

Think small and
big things happen!

(... said baseball player Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers, after his two-run homer ended a crucial playoff game on 6 Oct 2021, as quoted in "The Dodgers beat the Cardinals in walk-off fashion" by Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times; cf Small Ideas (2005-12-12), Mantra - Relax - Slow Down - Breathe (2016-07-10), ...)

- Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at 05:54:39 (EDT)

2021-09-13 - Kensington Errands

~3.5 mi @ ~22 min/mi

"Make Way for Wire-frame Ducklings!" Fall flowers flourish at the Mormon Temple, and sidewalk art decorates downtown Kensington. Point-to-point Monday morning errantry visits the Post Office, picks up a prescription, and snags the weekly CSA bag o' veggies from the Greek bakery, plus a fruity bonus of dried apricots. Then a bus arrives for the quick ride home!


- Monday, October 11, 2021 at 06:55:50 (EDT)

LOOPY - Problem Solving

http://zhurnaly.com/images/LOOPY/LOOPY_Problem-Solving-Process_2021-10-10.pngClassical problem-solving is described as a one-dimensional flow: QuestionDataHypothesesResearchAnalysisPublication.

But in reality, to produce data-driven model-based decision-relevant insights requires a flock of feedback loops, some of which take significant time and effort. Key Questions need to be developed in consultation with Subject-Matter Experts and with Concerned Customers. Data Collection and Hypothesis Generation are tightly coupled to Modeling and Analysis. Results must be conveyed to End Users who likely will ask new Questions. And ...

(cf Insight Modeling (2019-12-31), LOOPY - Knowledge Organization (2021-09-21), LOOPY - Model Validation (2021-09-24), ...; sketch thanks to LOOPY2, an ultralight tool for systems thinking ©2021 MITRE Corporation ...)

- Sunday, October 10, 2021 at 13:17:26 (EDT)

2021-09-11 - Deli and Carry-out

~5.3 mi @ ~21 min/mi & ~1.7 mi @ ~25 min/mi

"Cookie?" - "Coffee?" - "Hamantashen?" Bidding escalates as 🐻y & 🤖 ramble toward the Parkway Deli on a crisp Saturday morning walkabout. "Climb up that scaffolding - it will make a great photo!" - "You first!" And later that same day ...

"Hot and Sour Soup! And add apples and oranges!" A late-afternoon walk to the grocery store for fruit and the carry-out restaurant for Chinese garners a bonus mile of indoor GPS glitches, as well as pink flamingo and flower pics.

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Saturday, October 09, 2021 at 12:34:01 (EDT)

2021-09-09 - Discite Servature

~1.4 mi @ ~18 min/mi

"Discite Servature", motto of the Washington Latin School. It means: "Learn, those who are about to serve" – a noble sentiment for a bumper sticker! Thursday's late lunch walkabout arrives at Pacci's Trattoria just in time to pick up an "Ultimate Cuban" sandwich before the restaurant closes for an afternoon break. Construction work continues below a narrow bridge. Polychromatic hair is on sale. Not much help for a bald 🤖!


- Friday, October 08, 2021 at 08:21:33 (EDT)

LOOPY - Funding for Research and Discovery

http://zhurnaly.com/images/LOOPY/LOOPY_research-discovery-weapons-civilian_2021-10-07.pngLarge-scale R&D in recent centuries seems to take two primary paths: "Civilian", driven by profits from corporate investments, and "Weapons", paid for out of governmental taxes. The competition between those two reinforcing loops has shifted from time to time, and varies from field to field of research. Nuclear fission, computational science, biochemistry, precision timekeeping, space, ...


(sketch thanks to LOOPY2, an ultralight tool for systems thinking ©2021 MITRE Corporation ...)

- Thursday, October 07, 2021 at 07:09:46 (EDT)

2021-09-08 - Ave Maria, Gratia Plena

~1.2 mi @ ~20 min/mi

"People are dying to get in!" says 🐻y, on a path by the neighborhood cemetery during a Wednesday evening walkabout. Ditto the competition is fierce just to enter the Big Sur International Marathon, and without winning the drawing for a slot one might pay double via donation. Time to buy lottery tickets to pay for the privilege? "Ave Maria, gratia plena," remind signs at the Virgin Mary's statue nearby.


- Wednesday, October 06, 2021 at 06:39:40 (EDT)

2021-09-07 - Asian Dinner

~2.3 mi @ ~20 min/mi

"🦀 🥦 Crab Rangoon & Beef with Broccoli!" GPS glitches scribble noise onto the trackfile while underground at the Metro pedestrian tunnel and waiting for carry-out inside Hunan City. Wind chimes and pendant artworks dangle and sway from a tree at the local cemetery.


- Wednesday, October 06, 2021 at 06:31:54 (EDT)

Gospels - Sarah Ruden Translation

The Gospels: a new translation by Sarah Ruden (2021) is dedicated "To the Quakers". The author's Introduction begins with context:

As a Quaker—a member of perhaps the least theological, most practical religious movement in the world—I'm supposed to be open to looking first at a thing in itself, whether it's a head of Swiss chard, money, a gun, a book, a belief, or anything else. As a Quaker translator, I would like to deal with the Gospels more straightforwardly than is customary, to help people respond to the books on their own terms. Yet never before, in nearly forty years of translating, have I found texts so resistant to this purpose.

As in her fascinating translation Confessions: Augustine, Ruden addresses the four books of "Markos, Maththaios, Loukas, and Iōannēs" with a mix of quirkiness and humor, precision and poetry. She offers detailed explanation and justification along with "A Discursive Glossary of Unfamiliar Word Choices in English", and above all strives to follow the earliest and best Greek texts wherever they lead. Extensive footnotes add further context. As she notes in her prefatory remarks:

Sometimes the difference made by the correct translation of a single word can be shattering. In the famous passage in John, Chapter 3, about being "born again" into eternal life, the meanings "again" and "from above" (which here implies "from heaven") are equally valid for the Greek word anōthen. Jesus is teasing the quizzical Nicodemus with a pun, which is itself a lesson. Nicodemus never does understand what Jesus is saying about salvation; nor, apparently, is he meant to; nor, actually, can I. Through the inquirer's obtuseness and Jesus' scolding, the reader also is warned not to construe divine purposes as "Do this, get that"; everyone must simply trust Jesus. This is one place where a single rendering of a word is not adequate to the sense, so I write "born again, taking it straight from the top."

Sarah Ruden follows the truth – logos – as well as she can, wherever it leads her. She fights "... against anachronism, obfuscation, and lethargy, which drain communications of their primordial electricity." The results are impressive: the Gospels escape into new life, sharpen into new focus. As she writes:

In the face of all this, I have done what I can to reconstitute the Gospels as books—to be read, understood, interrogated, enjoyed, and debated as they are. Fundamentally, I make for this translation the plea I have made for all my others: I love significant writing, and I try to love it for the best, which means calling every word as I see it, after the requisite research. How can anyone claim to love something—be it a book, a child, a country, a faith, or anything else important—that in its essence relies on her honesty, and yet try to keep that thing outside the reach of reality? This is particularly important for translating scripture. Reality is what God is, if there is a God.

(cf Bearing Witness (2002-01-17), Confessions of Augustine - Sarah Ruden Translation (2021-09-23), ...)

- Tuesday, October 05, 2021 at 05:57:44 (EDT)

2021-09-06 - Labor Day Pi

~3.6 mi @ ~14 min/mi

"The guy in front is much tastier – you should go for him!" 🤖 advises a barking dog, as 🐻y dashes ahead on the path. A holiday Monday rendezvous leads to multiple cut-throughs on a northerly loop. Q-Tips litter the street: "Did you know you can compute the value of π by counting how many land on a crack?" A "Joseph's Coat Climber" rose blooms by the front door.


- Sunday, October 03, 2021 at 05:13:31 (EDT)

2021-09-05 - Train Spotting

~4.0 mi @ ~15 min/mi

"Don't lie down on the tracks – it sets a bad example for little children!" 🤖's classic Utilitarian argument doesn't deter 🐻y, at mile ~9 with 🔥, from posing on the rails. Fortunately no vulnerable observers are present. Sunday morning tourism in Kensington reveals the secret workings of a fire hydrant and maximal coolness of a dinosaur skeleton. Then it's time for pulling up weeds and pulling down vines in the front yard!


- Friday, October 01, 2021 at 05:53:38 (EDT)

LOOPY - Caregiving vs Caretaking

http://zhurnaly.com/images/LOOPY/LOOPY_caregiving-caretaking_2021-09-30.png"Think about caregiving less as a bundle of services and more as a web of relationships that encourage human flourishing." In The Atlantic Anne-Marie Slaughter and Hilary Cottam describe a "Caregiving Economy" that contrasts with the mostly-paid "Caretaking" system for supporting children, the elderly, and the disabled.

A LOOPY causal flow cartoon illustrates connections among their concepts. It's all about relationships – affection, consideration, and respect – that lead to growing, learning, thriving, and making the best of life. The coaches and guides who help catalyze that journey are special. They need support and solidarity. (And besides building better outcomes, they save the System money!)

Slaughter and Cottam conclude: "Care jobs help humans flourish, and, properly understood and compensated, they can power a growing sector of the economy, strengthen our society, and increase our well-being. Goods are things that people buy and own; services are functions that people pay for. Relationships require two people and a connection between them. We don't really have an economic category for that, but we should."

(sketch thanks to LOOPY2, an ultralight tool for systems thinking ©2021 MITRE Corporation ...)

- Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 07:04:57 (EDT)

Act of Creation

From a Kurt Vonnegut video interview (ca. 2002, part of an ad campaign for TIAA, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association) by Michael Ward:

Tonight, before you go to sleep, write a six-line poem.
When you have made the poem as perfect as you can,
tear it up and scatter the pieces through widely-separated
trash receptacles – and you will discover
that you got your full reward already,
simply by the act of creating.

(cf In the Palm of Your Hand (2006-09-11), Life Lessons from an Ad Man (2021-01-01), ...)

- Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 07:32:03 (EDT)

2021-09-04 - Kensington Arts Weekend

~8.2 mi @ ~20 min/mi

"Nominal Aphasia? Or some such term – I forget!" 🤖 leads Saturday's semi-sketchy shamble around a memory-care facility ("Don't go in!") and through the woods while trying to remember 🐻y's daughter's name. 🔥 points out that he left his keys and wallet in her car, which tosses a spanner into his point-to-point plan. (It all turns out ok, thanks to the help of friends!)

"I'm a Guide, not a Coach!" A dawn quest for coffee leads to Chevy Chase and mindful conversation about how to encourage others – and self – to be one's best. Cut-through paths arrive at the Kensington Farmers Market and Arts Weekend, where dozens of painters wield brushes and slap pigment on canvas. "Bad Dad Joke: Day 504" asks "Why are fortune tellers so easy to buy clothes for?" (Answer: "They're all Mediums!")


- Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 07:50:28 (EDT)

2021-09-03 - Molang

~6.4 mi @ ~16 min/mi

"I want to be Bob Dylan / Mr Jones wishes he were someone just a little more funky!" Friday morning special-holiday conversation goes maximum meta. "Have you seen Molang?" The animated French TV show for kids is calm and loving – just what we need sometimes in a stressful world. Molang focuses on "... the relationship between an eccentric, joyful, and enthusiastic rabbit, and a shy, discreet, and emotional little chick ..." (cf Wikipedia). Hmmm, not at all like 🤖 & 🔥, eh?

"The Space Force needs new metaphors!" Where are the poems and songs about transfer orbits, gravity assists, or lagrange points? How can smart people create radical collaboration in a new environment? "Graphical Languages for thinking better? What about other senses – touch, taste, scent?" Mind tools need to play their music together as an orchestra, an ecosystem; they must be extensible, responsive, based on solid mathematical-epistemological foundations. And delightful!

"Oh, no – we're trapped!" Beach Drive was wide open at 0645, but gates at both ends of the Connecticut-to-Cedar segment are closed and locked shut a few hours later. The curb is too high to drive over. Ah, a short detour across the grass enables escape. Whew!


- Monday, September 27, 2021 at 06:08:23 (EDT)

Future of Work

It's all about balance – among meaning, compassion, helping one another flourish, and maybe remembering to cherish oneself as well. "Productivity"? Maybe a bit less. Jonathan Malesic in the New York Times raises important and challenging issues in his essay "The Future of Work Should Mean Working Less". Setting aside debatable-political asides, a key bit:

... those of us fortunate enough to have jobs that consistently provide us with meaning ... [need] ... a reminder that we may not always have that kind of work. Anything from a sudden health issue to the natural effects of aging to changing economic conditions can leave us unemployed. So we should look for purpose beyond our jobs and then fill work in around it. We each have limitless potential, a unique "genius," as Henry David Thoreau called it. ... Pursuing our genius, whether in art or conversation or sparring at a jiujitsu gym, will awaken us to "a higher life than we fell asleep from," Thoreau wrote ...

And among other insightful thoughts:

... Patricia Nordeen would like to teach again one day, but given her health at the moment, full-time work seems out of the question. ... Patricia said that making art is often "meditative" for her. "If I'm trying to draw a plant, I'm really looking at the plant," she said. "I'm noticing all the different shades of color that maybe I wouldn't have noticed if I wasn't drawing it." Her absorption in the task – the feel of the pen on paper – "puts the pain out of focus." ...


"... I've had to evaluate my core values," she said, and find a new identity and community without the work she loved. Chronic pain made it hard to write, sometimes even to read. She started drawing, painting and making collages, posting the art on Instagram. She made friends there and began collaborations with them, like a 100-day series of sketchbook pages – abstract watercolors, collages, flower studies – she exchanged with another artist. A project like this allows her to exercise her curiosity. It also "gives me a sense of validation, like I'm part of society," she said. ...


... each one of us has dignity whether we work or not. Your job, or lack of one, doesn't define your human worth. ...


... The idea that all people have dignity before they ever work, or if they never do, has been central to Catholic social teaching for at least 130 years. In that time, popes have argued that jobs ought to fit the capacities of the people who hold them, not the productivity metrics of their employers. ...


... It's true that people often find their jobs meaningful, as Patricia did in her academic career or as I did while working on this essay. ... For too many of us, if we aren't breaking our bodies, then we're drowning in trivial email. This is not the purpose of a human life. ...


... Dignity, compassion, leisure: These are pillars of a more humane ethos, one that acknowledges that work is essential to a functioning society but often hinders individual workers' flourishing. This ethos would certainly benefit Patricia Nordeen and might allow students to benefit from her teaching ability. ...

Maybe most important:

Your compassion can evoke mine.

(cf Practical Productivity (2004-01-20), Steady State Economy (2005-06-11), Steadiness of Heart (2011-07-13), Yasutani Roshi (2015-01-28), World as Ocean (2015-03-25), Wings of Acceptance (2015-05-26), Our Job for the Rest of Our Life (2015-07-18), We Are One (2017-07-22), Bob Sutton on Work and Life and Balance (2019-10-30), Chaucer Doth Tweet (2020-05-23), Self-Compassion (2020-06-08), Compassionate Living (2020-08-30), ...)

- Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 07:17:44 (EDT)

2021-09-02 - Dipsacus fullonum

~2.3 mi @ ~17 min/mi

"Wild Teasel!" At the bus stop prickly geometric seed pods of Dipsacus fullonum flourish. Thursday walkabouts include a cubano sandwich pick-up at the local cafe and a dental visit to install a new crown. And why is there a sign "Please Ring Bell" at Amanda the Psychic's door? Doesn't she already know somebody's there?http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Dipsacus-fullonum_teasel_2021-09-02.jpg

(trackfile & trackfile & trackfile)

- Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 07:01:57 (EDT)

LOOPY - Model Validation

http://zhurnaly.com/images/LOOPY/LOOPY_Model-Validation-Process_2021-09-23.pngModels represent reality, but simplified to highlight key concepts. How to verify and validate?

Begin with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), people who know something about the issue. SME judgments can define the Domain within which the model is reliable, and can suggest good Test Challenge Questions to ask the model. Combined with past collections of Ground Truth Data, those tests begin the Model Validation process.

And there's more: model results can and should be further evaluated with New Data and in simulation exercises with human players. That's how to develop Credibility and an appropriate amount of Trust in the model results!

(sketch thanks to LOOPY2, an ultralight tool for systems thinking ©2021 MITRE Corporation ...)

- Friday, September 24, 2021 at 06:21:22 (EDT)

Confessions of Augustine - Sarah Ruden Translation

Sarah Ruden's 2017 translation of St Augustine's The Confessions is delightfully colloquial and precise, modern and meticulous. It's a showcase for what she describes as Augustine's paradoxical self-deprecation: "His purpose is always to show human worthlessness extravagantly blessed with gifts from God .... It's necessary, in this schema, for the author to denigrate his own expressive genius even as he parades it, and he makes this reversal many times with considerable wit and charm."

In her Introduction Rudin explains her key linguistic and stylistic decisions, including the word "Master" rather than "Lord" for Dominus, and "Slave" rather than a gentler term for Servus. She notes, "This imagery, with its reminders of American plantation slavery, may be harsh and off-putting, but a translator must govern her distaste and try to make her author's thought and experience as vivid and sympathetic as it plainly was to his contemporaries. Otherwise there can be no limits to the demands of a condescending, manipulative, and anachronistic political correctness." Likewise Rudin notes with honesty:

As a partly folksy, sometimes smirking writer—or just as a man of his time—Augustine sometimes commits himself where his translators have wished he wouldn't, and this has led them to gloss over what he does plainly express. He speaks, for instance, contemptuously of women as women .... And Augustine really does talk about the embarrassment of nocturnal emissions for a man called to celibacy (book 10, chapter 41). He can't have meant his readers in any language to chew a fingernail and ask, "Could he be saying—that?" Yes, he's saying it. But I would have had trouble picking this up from even the best current translations on their own.

Ruden herself is Augustinian in her lithe footnote-asides, with gems such as:

Augustine shines via Ruden's words. Confessions – or more accurately, as she notes, Testimonies – is thoughtful, humorous, and moving in its celebration of God's timelessness and perfection, despite humanity's sinfulness and fallibility. Yes, sometimes it's over-the-top, quibbling, doctrinaire. But overall Augustine's public prayer is a showcase for the Universe's beauty and the eternal truth of love.

(cf Bearing Witness (2002-01-17), Unsystematic Theology (2002-03-15), Kenosis (2008-09-21), O (2012-12-24), Help, Thanks, Wow (2013-02-25), ...)

- Thursday, September 23, 2021 at 07:23:04 (EDT)

2021-09-01 - Rastaman

~2.7 mi @ ~16 min/mi

"Good job, Rasta!" An elderly gentleman with a curly white beard salutes another with a scraggly straight beard as they meet in an alley. Remnants of Hurricane Ida threaten the region on a humid Wednesday noon. Flower vases by the lovely Virgin Mary statue have blown over and get a bit of tidying up. A food truck ("THE SPOT – Wings – 21 flavors") features graffitish art.


- Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at 06:29:21 (EDT)

2021-08-31 - Catwalk

~2.7 mi @ ~17 min/mi

"I trained her to follow me – it's a COVID trick!" says the lady out walking her cute cat. Taco Tuesday features a point-to-point trek to JavaNation where carnitas is on the menu. The #5 Ride-On bus is on time for the trip home. An almost-spherical bunny sculpture watches over a garden; Beltway traffic is at a near standstill after an overturned tractor-trailer mishap.


- Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at 06:24:52 (EDT)

LOOPY - Knowledge Organization


How does a consultancy-knowledge-expert-advice organization work? Well, it has to have Customers, and those Customers have to have important unanswered Questions and Needs. To meet Customer requirements demands People, whose special superpowers involve good thinking – applying appropriate Tools and methods to relevant Data, thereby producing valuable Answers and Advice.

Those key elements form the central positive-feedback loop that keeps a learning organization healthy in the long term.

(causal cartoon-sketch thanks to LOOPY2, an ultralight tool for systems thinking ©2021 MITRE Corporation; cf Bossy Questions (2001-04-06), Buckman Mantras (2001-04-13), Discussion and Dialogue (2006-01-07), Learningful Life (2021-07-02), ...)

- Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 07:10:37 (EDT)

2021-08-29 - Closure

~4.3 mi @ ~15 min/mi

"Just seeking Closure!" says 🐻y during a super-humid 16 mile loop that generates the trackfile he craves. Happy 🔥 and he accept Gatorade from a mobile Aid Station between their miles 12 and 14, but decline a butter-walnut cookie or a well-aged chocolate energy gel found on the ground. The new bridge over Silver Creek has a 10 Ton weight limit; 🤖 avoids testing it. He meets VHTRC trail comrade John Fitz finishing up a Sunday long run.


- Monday, September 20, 2021 at 05:35:10 (EDT)

LOOPY - Arms Race


In an "Escalation" situation (like the US-USSR nuclear arms race of the 1940s-1980s) a tiny initial difference grows exponentially. Each of the actors in this LOOPY sketch adds to its weapons stockpile at a rate governed by its (delayed!) perception of the other's stockpile size. The result is a stair-step climb toward infinity.

What can stop this dash to destruction? One way is to change the system's structure – breaking the positive feedback loop via arms-control treaties, mutual inspection, etc. Other ways include economic ruin, or thermonuclear war ...

(causal cartoon thanks to LOOPY2, an ultralight tool for systems thinking ©2021 MITRE Corporation ...)

- Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 07:20:43 (EDT)

Practice of Contentment

In A Morning Cup of Yoga, Jane Goad Trechsel offers gentle thoughts on nonattachment, letting-go of expectations. In the section "Practice of Contentment (Santosa)" she writes:

A beautiful niyama to work with is the practice of contentment, or santosa. In this practice, we decide that in this very moment we will be contented, no matter what storms are threatening. The fact is, there are always storms. If we wait for things to become as we demand them to be in order to be contented, we will always be waiting. Contentment can be enjoyed in small tastes. On the worst of days, it's possible to pause and look at the world with unclouded eyes for a moment, see the sky, hear a bird, see a child's face and say, "For this tiny moment, I choose to be contented."

Begin to look for those moments. When you crawl into your bed at night, let your body relax. Let go of the concerns of your day. Stop trying to control events and people around you, and, as the Beatles said, "Let It Be." When we quit fighting and resisting, contentment arises naturally.

(cf This Is It (2008-11-14), No Method (2010-01-21), Without Effort, Analysis, or Expectation (2010-08-04), Groundhog Day (2013-06-19), Let Go (2013-10-18), Aspiration, not Expectation (2014-12-12), Aspire without Attachment (2015-12-28), Morning Cup of Yoga (2021-07-17), Power of Intention (2021-07-24), ...)

- Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 06:59:26 (EDT)

2021-08-28 - Lost Fiver

~8.5 mi @ ~19 min/mi

"And at least it wasn't a $20 bill!" Pollyanna-bot 🤖 finds a bright side to losing $5 from a too-shallow pocket in the women's shorts he bought half-price some years ago. (And at least it wasn't a cellphone falling out of the pocket in a porta-john, as happened at 2019-09-29 - Clarence DeMar Marathon, Keene NH – don't even think about that!) 🔥 paces a fast lap (2:02) around the local high school track. 🐻y joins in retracing the route during a fruitless search for the missing fiver.

"And behind Door #3?" The quest for coffee leads past a COVID vaccination/test site. At sunrise two bucks, antlers still velvet, pose in a front yard near the Capitol Beltway. Trail talk includes the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park and "Openness" as the key psychological trait for good thinking.


- Friday, September 17, 2021 at 05:55:25 (EDT)

2021-08-27 - Lunch via the Woods

~2.0 mi @ ~21 min/mi

"Not ALL who wander are lost – but SOME are!" A paved path through the woods above Rock Creek leads to a well-trod dirt trail that branches onto a deer track that turns into thickets of brush. Back yard fences block the way to Forest Glen Park streets. Eventually, though, scramble onto Woodstock Ave after scrambling over-and-under deadfalls and shaking off a minor fall.

"Thank you, but calling it 'running' is an exaggeration!" A sweaty Thursday afternoon jogger dismisses a compliment as he crests the steep Forsythe Ave hill. At Pacci's Trattoria a carry-out Cubano sandwich is ready for pick-up.


- Friday, September 17, 2021 at 05:48:53 (EDT)

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