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^zhurnaly v.9937

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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 = 0.9936 ... 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!

2019-06-15 - Dragon Ball

~13.9 mi @ ~14.1 min/mi

"Uh, $10?" Trash transmutes into treasure at a yard sale when somebody asks for a price. Roadkill trots northwest, pausing for pics of Kensington lawn art and greeting 1 deer and 2 bunnies en route. R2, Danger Man, and Sakurako converge at Ken-Gar and head upstream. A pack of cyclists politely zoom by; they pause to catch breath at the top of The Silencer, a long steep climb. "Will you sell me that bike?" asks Roadkill. "Anything is negotiable!" replies the owner.Kensington lawn art Dragon Ball
Sakurako and Barry and z on Rock Creek Trail mile 10 mosaic"Great Blue Heron!" A majestic bird launches into flight over Rock Creek, startling Sakurako. At the decorative plaza we pause for a photo with heads askew to confuse face-recognition AI. "CWRU stands for Case Western Reserve University," explain a fast pair of cross-country racers as they pass. Back at Ken-Gar the ladies sensibly declare victory and the boys add a couple of bonus miles including hill work. Roadkill exercises his self-control by stopping with a GPS display of 13.99 miles.


- Friday, July 05, 2019 at 04:41:50 (EDT)

Mitch Hedberg Humor

Stand-up comic Mitch Hedberg (1968-2005) told jokes that often have metacognitive principles of Category Theory as underpinnings: identity, regrouping, inversion, transformation, renaming, etc. Some samples from [1]:

And, after a failed joke: "All right ... that joke is going to be good because I'm going to take all the words out and add new words. That joke will be fixed."

(cf MetaJoke (2001-10-18), Hello Sailor (2003-05-01), Undead Traffic Incident (2004-03-20), Dyslexic Metahumor (2004-08-26), The Crack Cocaine of (2004-05-09), Read Likely (2005-04-04), Card that Poet (2006-08-24), Secrets of the Padding Masters (2006-11-27), Sticky Thoughts (2009-01-13), ...)

- Thursday, July 04, 2019 at 06:17:11 (EDT)

2019-06-12 - Techno-Intellectuals

~4.7 mi @ ~10.7 min/mi

"That's so important - to know that two people can disagree about many things and still cherish each other!" says K2. Whether it's books or beets, "De gustibus", etc. With early meetings to attend Dawn Patrol dashes up hills and dances over cut-through steppingstones on a quick survey of the 'hood. A tragically flat fox lies on Benjamin Street. Sunbeams glow golden, and the air is crisp. Cicadas trill from meadows alongside Dead Run.

"Let's mention TensorFlow," suggests Roadkill, "so we'll sound techno-intellectual!" New car options are analyzed, with decision criteria including size, range, cost, efficiency, maintenance, and of course fun. Affirmation is the spirit of the day: "That sounds like a wonderful choice - but of course, you knew I'd say that!"


- Wednesday, July 03, 2019 at 04:30:59 (EDT)

2019-06-09 - Clean Drinking Manor

~9.7 mi @ ~14.1 min/mi

"Candy Cane? Or Capital Crescent?" As usual Roadkill gets confused and dashes to the wrong rendezvous. No matter! He pauses to photograph lovely lilies and irises, finds treasures along the way (golf ball and glass marble), and meets Danger Man and G-ji. The trio set off on hilly Leland St toward Bethesda. Tired muscles and tummy trouble slow the pace for some. R-Squared soon appears from the opposite direction, escorting Don, Emaad, and Ken, whose trail names are not yet revealed.

"Ek, do, teen, ...", G-ji teaches Roadkill to count in Hindi. We spy two ("do") rabbits and one ("ek") deer. A slight detour takes us to the "Clean Drinking Manor" spring where, supposedly, George Washington tasted the water and pronounced it excellent. Given the vast number of places where the first President slept, ate, and drank, it's hard to see how he had any time to govern!


- Tuesday, July 02, 2019 at 05:38:07 (EDT)

2019-06-08 - Fort Stevens Danger Man

~16.2 mi @ ~14.8 min/mi

HOPE says chalk on Sligo Creek Trail"Hope", counsels sidewalk chalk on Sligo Creek Trail, as Danger Man and Roadkill trot downstream "Looking for adventure / And whatever comes our way." Cars speed along the parkway and scrape metal as they bounce over a speed bump. "NKRC" reads the shirt of a fast neighborly runner. It stands for "Northeast Kingdom Running Camp" in Vermont, and he's on his way to climb the fence and do 12 x 1000 meter intervals on the local high school track. His marathon PR is 2:36 at Richmond. "It was a high 2:36!" he admits, modestly. Awesome!
"Frogger, anyone?" We cross busy New Hampshire Avenue, where pastel rocking chairs at the bus stop tempt (just as they did G-ji & Tassie & Slow-Twitch five years ago). A garden-globe unifies the pathside flowerbed. On the line between Montgomery and Prince Georges County we pose for boundary pics.Pastel rocking chairs at the New Hampshire Avenue bus stop
Bienvenidos and Welcome on the line between Prince Georges and Montgomery County"Candy!" chortles Roadkill at the sight of brightly-hued M&M's scattered across the sidewalk near North Capitol Street. "And here's the torn bag they came from!" Danger Man averts his eyes to avoid witnessing what happens next. Less litter remains after we pass. Taco Bell is not yet open but a 24-hour McDonalds offers cola for rehydration and caffeine.
"Get down, you fool!" quotes Danger Man, alluding to (likely apocryphal) words of Oliver Wendell Holmes to Abraham Lincoln, as we survey Ft Stevens where the President came under fire in 1864. An elderly couple on Missouri Avenue flash friendly V-for-Victory signs and cheer us along.

"And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street!" Roadkill reaches up to get ripe fruit (plus purple juice-stained fingers) in the home stretch. Danger Man awards him a fist-bump at the parting of ways.
Sligo Creek Trail garden globe


- Monday, July 01, 2019 at 04:42:21 (EDT)

Why Buddhism Is True

Robert Wright's 2017 bestseller Why Buddhism Is True begins and ends by disavowing much of its own title. The author carefully defines "Buddhism" in the secular sense of mindfulness meditation and associated philosophical concepts (self, emptiness, oneness, etc.) — not the historical or mystical religious faith that millions of people profess. With equal care he defines "True" in the scientific sense of something well-supported by generally-accepted evidence — yet subject to modification or even total falsification in the face of new observations.

With such a cautious approach, by a science writer with a technical education in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, one might expect ... logic? ... a few numbers? ... explicit discussion of where and when, how and why? ... fair presentation of the other side of the case?

Unfortunately, there's far too little of that. Why Buddhism Is True is engaging and well-written, and contains much goodness. And alas, it's also overflowing with Self (rather odd, given the recurring theme of unselfing). Robert Wright had an Experience, with a capital "E", during a meditation retreat some years ago. Was it a glimpse of Ultimate Truth? Or was it a passing delusion, a temporary mental state-change surrounded by feelings of profundity? Wright apparently cannot conceive of the latter possibility.

And yet, as Charlotte Joko Beck said: "I meet all sorts of people who've had all sorts of experiences and they're still confused and not doing very well in their life. Experiences are not enough. My students learn that if they have so-called experiences, I really don't care much about hearing about them. I just tell them, 'Yeah, that's O.K. Don't hold onto it. And how are you getting along with your mother?' Otherwise, they get stuck there. It's not the important thing in practice."

Another weakness of Wright's presentation is the complete lack of critical, quantitative analysis about how evolution by natural selection could have created the cognitive patterns that he sees Buddhist mindfulness addressing. Have there been enough generations of human society to evolve the thought structures that Wright fingers as crucial? Is differential reproduction strong enough? Are mental features better explained via non-genetic sociocultural adaptations of existing faculties? Even a few words about timescales and order-of-magnitude estimates could hugely strengthen Wright's case.

Wright's ultimate motivation for mindfulness-meditation Buddhism seems to be a Utilitarian one: to promote world peace. Uh, ok — but that's not an argument for or against its truth, is it?

So: is "Buddhism" "True"? That's complex, and perhaps unimportant. Seeing clearly, accepting what is, acting with lovingkindness toward all — those seem valuable. Mindfulness, nonattachment, oneness.

(cf Core Buddhism (2011-11-17), No Beginning, No End (2013-03-24), Subtle Sound (2017-01-03), Mantra - Mindfulness, Nonattachment, Oneness (2017-01-25), ...)

- Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 17:06:05 (EDT)

2019-06-07 - Master Lockout

~3.9 mi @ ~13.3 min/mi

"KeyMaster?" Roadkill suggests a trail name for the newest member of Dawn Patrol, who recently completed his Masters degree work and, this morning, locks himself out of his car — again. Oops! But all ends well; Roadkill drives him to the office to get a spare, prepositioned there after an earlier incident.

"Chengyu are four-word idioms in Chinese," explains KeyMaster. — "Like 'Suck it up, Cupcake' in English?" We discuss randomly initializing a neural-net machine-learning system versus using some real-world knowledge to start it. Roadkill quotes a parable [1] from the early days of the MIT AI Lab:

... Sussman began working on a program. Not long after, this odd-looking bald guy came over. Sussman figured the guy was going to boot him out, but instead the man sat down, asking, "Hey, what are you doing?" Sussman talked over his program with the man, Marvin Minsky. At one point in the discussion, Sussman told Minsky that he was using a certain randomizing technique in his program because he didn't want the machine to have any preconceived notions. Minsky said, "Well, it has them, it's just that you don't know what they are." It was the most profound thing Gerry Sussman had ever heard. And Minsky continued, telling him that the world is built a certain way, and the most important thing we can do with the world is avoid randomness, and figure out ways by which things can be planned. ...

"My daughter crossed the stage with me at graduation!" K2 recalls finishing her PhD two decades ago, and how much hard work went into it. Flowers bloom at the downtown nursery. The dash to Starbucks for iced coffee slows to a leisurely ramble back. Category theory banter centers on the prefix "co-", which means "opposite". (Hmmmm, funny to a mathematician, perhaps?) God rays fan across the sky from a rising sun.


- Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 05:45:50 (EDT)

2019-06-05 - Mulberry Street

~3.0 mi @ ~16 min/mi

"Mulberries!" Yukon pauses to pluck and snack on ripe fruit that overhangs the sidewalk. Dawn Patrol begins with a beeline to Starbucks for cold-brew almond-milk iced caffeine. We discover a new cut-through via the Capital One parking garage, thereby avoiding the need to traverse a hard-hat-only construction site.

"Maybe for homework your students could write machine-learning essay-grading code?" We discuss how to get free labor out of unwitting undergrads. Roadkill quotes David Stern's #1 life-lesson advice (cf HelpfulHomilies) — "Keep notes!" The new synthetic-surface ballfield at Westgate Park has a long list of rules. "No sunflower seeds? But other seeds are OK?"


- Friday, June 28, 2019 at 04:31:17 (EDT)

Systems Thinking Icebergs

The "Iceberg Model" depicts deeper (or higher) levels of understanding that Thinking in Systems can lead to. Three versions:

Didem Guerduer icebergfrom Didem Gürdür, a minimalist iceberg with labels "React → Anticipate → Design → Transform" parallel to "Events → Patterns → Underlying Structures → Mental Models" (cf [1])
from Spinnaker Systems, an iceberg with labels "Observe → Discover → Understand → Predict" parallel to "Event → Patterns → Architecture → Model" and the questions "What has just happened? → What has been happening? → What has caused it to happen? → What can be done?" (cf [2])Spinnaker Systems iceberg
NWEI.org icebergfrom Northwest Earth Institute, an iceberg with "React → Anticipate → Design → Transform" parallel to "Events (What just happened?) → Patterns/Trends (What trends have there been over time?) → Underlying Structures (What has influenced the patterns? What are the relationships between the parts?) → Mental Models (What assumptions, beliefs and values do people hold about the system? What beliefs keep the system in place?)" (cf [3])

(cf Still Life in Ice (2001-02-28), ...)

- Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 06:24:09 (EDT)

2019-06-03 - Kindergarten to College

~5.6 mi @ ~11.7 min/mi

"I dropped my daughter off this morning at the train for New York," says a friendly neighbor. She waves at Dawn Patrol, hands gauntleted in gigantic garden gloves for early yard work. "She's going to UC/Davis soon!" At Starbucks, awaiting iced coffee, we meet another neighbor with his daughter, getting caffeinated before her first day on her first job. K2 recalls when their kids played together, back in kindergarten. Tempus fugit!

"Kinda amazing that mere animals can do all this," Roadkill muses, as Dawn Patrol admires attractive new mansions springing up like mushrooms. We set stretch goals during hill climbs and discuss potential fall marathons. It's a lovely-brisk morning, lilies and hydrangeas in bloom. A speedy bunny dashes along Earnestine Street and dives through the hole under a fence. Pink flamingos migrate to cluster along a hedge.


- Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 04:25:13 (EDT)

2019-06-02 - Call Me Shirley

~7.2 mi @ ~14.2 min/mi

"I don't have a time thing," says Danger Man, i.e., no imminent appointments. "You mean a Watch?" - "Sir, surely you jest." - "Don't call me Shirley!" R-Squared and G-ji chuckle as Danger Man and Roadkill banter. Ken-Gar parking overflows with multiple groups gathering on a cool Sunday morning. We trot up- and down-stream, stepping aside for cyclists, pausing to visit with friends, sharing film/video series reviews, and striving not to compare ourselves to others when fit fleet-footed folk blast past.

"The dog-water tastes great, but I recommend against putting your lips to the pipe," Roadkill helpfully advises others who stop at a half-broken fountain. A commemorative towel from the Baltimore 10 Miler makes a Superhero-like cape for Danger Man, who ran that race yesterday. R-Squared is ramping up her mileage in anticipation of a fall marathon; G-ji is back from hiking in Costa Rica; Roadkill tries to live in the moment, with only momentary success.


- Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 05:38:29 (EDT)

Mantra - Think Through


... pay attention to the situation — go beyond first-order implications — look at feedback loops, time delays, limits, goals, and other system-level issues — and analyze before acting!

(cf One Transcend Suffices (2009-10-14), Metacognition and Open Mindedness (2015-11-15), Mantra - Open the Aperture (2018-10-30), Mantra - Be Meta, Be Open, Be Love (2018-11-11), ...)

- Monday, June 24, 2019 at 04:29:19 (EDT)

2019-06-01 - Ran It with Janet 50k

~32 mi @ ~14.3 min/mi

RIwJ mile 23 sachem butterfly milk thistle"And as First Runner-Up, I pledge to serve if the DFL Winner is unable to fulfill her duties!" promises Roadkill at the end of yesterday's trail run. (DFL = "Dead ... Last", the slowest official finisher.) Today's "Ran It with Janet 50k" is a tough, happy trek in which Roadkill makes the critical mile 21 noon cutoff with ~15 minutes to spare, thanks largely to the help of kind comrades. Michael Hart pushes the pace smartly for lap 1 (~2:20), with bonus Civil War historical commentary along the way. In lap 2 (~2:25) Stephanie Fonda (and her dear daughter Haven) serve as escorts for the middle miles, share tips on hill techniques, and lead the way across field and stream.
The final circuit (~2:50) is solo, accelerated by efficient aid station captain Jon Jester and others who provide ice, pickle juice, salty snacks, and endless encouragement. Son Merle Zimmermann flies a photography drone at the start/finish and plays keyboard music mid-course near the Stone Bridge — shades of the famous Pacific coast pianist in the Big Sur Marathon!RIwJ glass with tick
RIwJ mile 10 by Jillian Enoch"Two slices of greasy pepperoni pizza and a Big Gulp!" Roadkill's nutritional experiments on race day morning turn out OK. Clouds of insects rise up as the trail passes through shaded groves. A pair of lovely horses and riders canter past, then pause at a fork in the pathway. Milk thistles attract sachem butterflies that pose for photos. At the end of the race, eponymous RD Janet awards RIwJ commemorative cups. Fellow runners Sirisha and Sean, paced by ultra-Jennifer, offer friendly hugs and fist-bumps. A feisty tick seeks to acquire superpowers from Roadkill, who carefully detaches it and returns it to a grassy homeland.

(trackfile; cf 2015-06-06 - Ran It with Janet 50k-ish , 2016-06-04 - Ran It with Janet 50k 2016 , 2017-06-03 - Ran It with Janet 50k , 2018-06-02 - Ran It with Janet 50k , ...)

- Sunday, June 23, 2019 at 06:18:32 (EDT)

2019-05-31 - Best Days, Worst Days

~6.3 mi @ ~15 min/mi

"We've never tried that before!" A construction barrier says SIDEWALK CLOSED, "but not on the other side of the sign!" Dawn Patrol explores the new Beltway flyover that doesn't yet appear on maps or imagery; "Scotts Crossing" is an apt name. We pause to photograph curvy corporate artwork and a "Coexist" lawn banner guarded by a pink flamingo. K-Rex tests her strength by lifting massive concrete blocks with bent rebar handles. K2 and Roadkill sip iced coffee and applaud.

"My worst days feel like her best days!" We remember a loved one, incredibly tough despite huge health challenges. Somebody is not-tapering for an ultra tomorrow. Somebody is recovering from the 'flu, but only throws up once. Somebody is happy that the charter members of Dawn Patrol are reunited today for a lovely sunrise run together. A father supervises kids doing jumping-jacks. They smile at our cheers.


- Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 05:46:33 (EDT)

Dancing with Systems

Donella Meadows (1941-2001) wrote Thinking in Systems, a fun-fast introduction to understanding complexity, feedback loops, time delays, and the patterns that they create. An excerpt-essay called "Dancing with Systems" suggests a list of practices to ponder:

  1. Get the beat.
  2. Listen to the wisdom of the system.
  3. Expose your mental models to the open air.
  4. Stay humble. Stay a learner.
  5. Honor and protect information.
  6. Locate responsibility in the system.
  7. Make feedback policies for feedback systems.
  8. Pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.
  9. Go for the good of the whole.
  10. Expand time horizons.
  11. Expand thought horizons.
  12. Expand the boundary of caring.
  13. Celebrate complexity.
  14. Hold fast to the goal of goodness.

The essay ends:

... And so we are brought to the gap between understanding and implementation. Systems thinking by itself cannot bridge that gap. But it can lead us to the edge of what analysis can do and then point beyond?to what can and must be done by the human spirit.

(for various versions of "Dancing with Systems" see [1], [2], [3], [4], and cf Thinking in Systems (2017-11-03), ...)

- Friday, June 21, 2019 at 04:34:25 (EDT)

2019-05-27 - MCRRC Memorial Day 4 Miler

~4.0 mi @ ~8.6 min/mi

MCRRC Memorial Day 4 Miler photo by Dan Reichmann"You're ahead of your Pace Group!" notes the lady who passes Roadkill at mile 3. He's wearing an ancient singlet that says "12:00+" on the back. Leaves flutter down through sunbeams along Rock Creek Trail. Runners cheer each other along, pushing hard, dancing around or running through puddles.
Today's MCRRC Memorial Day 4 mile race turns out OK: 2nd place of 11 (by ~3.5 minutes, alas) in the 65-69 year old male age cohort, 153rd of 377 finishers — consistent with age-adjusted (+1 %/year) and weight-adjusted (+2 sec/mi/lb) experience.

Historical performances:
    34:11 - 2002
    45:51 - 2006
    41:36 - 2007
    44:27 - 2008
    46:15 - 2009
    31:04 - 2010
    32:07 - 2012
    30:36 - 2014
    32:59 - 2016
    33:32 - 2018
    34:11 - 2019
MCRRC Memorial Day 4 Miler photo by Alex Reichmann

Prescription: lose 20 pounds, lose 5 years, train smarter and train harder!


- Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 05:53:18 (EDT)

Brief Living, Slow Learning, Sudden Problems, Tricky Evidence, Hard Choices

The proverb "Life is short, Art is long", turns out not to be (originally) about the enduring nature of beautiful works that last far beyond the span of their creator. Rather, it's a statement by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates aimed at students of medicine. It tells them that learning the principles of healing ("the Art") will take a long time, and that applying them is even tougher. In a more complete and literal translation: "Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate."

(cf Ars longa, vita brevis for "Life is short, and art long, opportunity fleeting, experimentations perilous, and judgment difficult.")

- Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 06:36:09 (EDT)

2019-05-26 - Cabin John Stream Valley Trail North

~10.4 mi @ ~16.4 min/mi

"We've never gone THAT direction!" says someone — and the inevitable follows. Roadkill hijacks the post-MMT recovery run that Slow-Twitch and Jay-Bird had planned and turns the trio northward into overgrown-and-undeveloped zones of Cabin John Regional Park. White butterflies kiss hips when the narrow dirt path slices a meadow. Fern gardens and mossy rocks border shaded stream valleys. Ripples vibrate across mirror-ponds; mallard ducks paddle. We meet three mountain bikers on the noisy Highway Loop Trail, then have the Kidney Bean Loop Trail all to ourselves. Graffiti decorates walls where a creek emerges from under I-270.

"It's the long-sought super-elusive Crazy Lost Dutchman Northwest Passage!" Roadkill chortles. He dashes through a shallow water crossing. Jay-Bird navigates it dry-footed via stepping-stones and smiles like Mona Lisa — but declines the suggestion to re-enact it for the camera. "All right, we're almost outta here. From here on, it gets normal." Roadkill quotes the film "Big Trouble in Little China" as we emerge into suburbia. We wrinkle our noses at prices of mini-mansions with For Sale signs. "It can't be as ugly inside as it is outside!" - "I'd consider living in any house on this street, except for THAT one!" - "Take off $15k for the Headless Cow mailbox!"

"OK, if you insist you can show me your Thing" Roadkill accepts Jay-Bird's offer to reveal the metatarsal pad that protects his foot from blisters. A few miles later, "Could our sense of time be sped up?" We analyze competing hypotheses for what appears to be the Slowest Ambulance in the World as it creeps along the road. Back in terra cognita Slow-Twitch leads the way home, with a mini-detour to Seven-11 for cold recovery drinks. Perhaps living with minimal air conditioning will prepare us for summer ultramarathons?

(see also long-ago 2005-10-30 - Cabin John Trail (North), 2007-05-05 - Lost and Found on the CJT, and 2017-12-17 - CJSVT with Gayatri)


- Friday, June 14, 2019 at 05:18:26 (EDT)

2019-05-25 - Traumatic Mind Injury

~20.6 mi @ ~14.3 min/mi

"Gnomes riding rabbits and snails!" Roadkill spies lawn decorations at a little house in Danger Man's neighborhood. A woodpecker hammers on a tree. "Doesn't that cause Traumatic Brain Injury?" - "Or maybe Traumatic Mind Injury? Is that TMI?"

"A Woman of Valor - A Woman of Vision - A Friend to All Children" reads the commemorative plaque at Henrietta Schwartz playground. We join R-Squared for a half-dozen miles and reminisce about classic comedy — "The Odd Couple", "Gilligan's Island", "Petticoat Junction", "Green Acres" — and collaboratively identify most of their actors.

"You can't step into the same river twice!" Danger Man quotes Heraclitus as Rock Creek flows below a bridge. He demonstrates how to do planks and other bodyweight exercises at Ken-Gar. Delicate blue irises bloom in swampy lowlands by the trail. A half-marathon training group dashes past, and further downstream there's a CrossFit pack, many wearing weight vests. "We run a mile, do 100 pull-ups, and then start the REAL workout!" says the leader.


- Thursday, June 13, 2019 at 05:23:02 (EDT)

Design Patterns and Category Theory

The recent thread "From Design Patterns to Category Theory" (on Y Combinator's "Hacker News") comments on essays by Mark Seeman and includes some delightful bits by various contributors:

(cf Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Category Theory Concepts (2016-04-25), Ultimate Abstraction (2017-08-24), Put the Vast Storehouse in Order (2017-10-04), Category Theory is like a Lighthouse (2018-12-24), Why Care about Category Theory (2019-03-03), ...)

- Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at 04:40:36 (EDT)

2019-05-24 - K2-Prime Directive

~4.1 mi @ ~12.5 min/mi

"I'm going to see my sister!" K2's weekend plans include a sibling sighting at an equestrian event. K2-Prime's awesomeness is legendary: she makes Chuck Norris look like a limp tulip. She doesn't lead horses to water, she commands them to go, and when they're finished drinking they return for further instructions. After a recent eventing tumble she lifted the steed that fell on her, put it back on its feet, and finished the ride. If only we could work so hard! Dawn Patrol dashes to Starbucks for iced coffee on a humid morn. Zinnias bloom in the downtown nursery, and the eastern sky glows an angry orange.


- Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 05:48:41 (EDT)

2019-05-22 - Pimmit Run Run

~5.3 mi @ ~11.4 min/mi

"Say 'could', not 'should'!" E.R. corrects Roadkill's normative/deontological language as Dawn Patrol finds itself on the wrong side of the creek, cutting through back yards and getting damp feet in the dewy meadows under the high-tension power lines. Pimmit Run Trail features new graffiti on the rocks where it crosses under the highway. We pause for pics and to remind ourselves to breathe. Then off again, dashing fast, missing turns, getting confused at corners, and ending up climbing out of the valley through a new neighborhood. At McLean High School track a brisk lap (1:43 for Roadkill, half a dozen seconds faster for E.R. in lane 4) gets hearts pounding. Coney Count = 1, a fleet-footed bunny in Olney Park.


- Monday, June 10, 2019 at 04:21:31 (EDT)

2019-05-20 - Scotts Run Run

~5.8 mi @ ~13.7 min/mi

"Steeplechase!" K2 demonstrates proper form and leaps across a double-wide stream emerging with only one wet foot. Roadkill splashes through and enjoys double-soggy socks. Dawn Patrol transits the super-elusive Scotts Run Passage, first sought without success by K-Rex more than 3 years ago.K2 at Scotts Run under I-495 Capital Beltway
graffiti under I-495 Capital Beltway with RoadkillFrom a mansion-lined cul-de-sac we trek north-by-northeast just inside the Capital Beltway until the end of the paved path. Then "Excelsior!" via narrow trail, past deer who munch the verdant foliage and eye us with deep suspicion. A sandy tunnel under the freeway is decorated with brilliant graffiti art.
"Oops!" - never a good word to hear during a cross-country trek. Roadkill is looking back and talking (as always, yeah!) when suddenly he vanishes into a mini-sinkhole. K2 pulls him out. No harm done, since he hands on his, uh, bum. We backtrack and bushwhack past a transformer farm to the road. On the other side of the chain a sign reads "No Trespassing". Thanks for telling us!I-495 Capital Beltway sound wall graffiti with Roadkill
K2 with I-495 Capital Beltway graffiti underpass"Confirmation Bias? Fundamental Attribution Error? Be sure to signal me when you notice!" We promise to keep each other out of cognitive pitfalls in years to come.


- Saturday, June 08, 2019 at 06:06:01 (EDT)

Cutting In

The flip-side of my feeling lonely and left-out is the sensation, provoked in others, that I'm is cutting-in — intruding, reducing their choice of who to be with. Sometimes being the outsider is appropriate, if I really don't bring anything to the group. Sometimes not being asked to join is an inadvertent oversight. Sometimes it's a lesson in independence, a chance to get stronger, to fly solo. Sometimes it's necessary so others can flourish without my help. And sometimes, it just is ...

(cf No Worries, Mate (2012-12-24), ...)

- Friday, June 07, 2019 at 04:26:26 (EDT)

2019-05-19 - Listen for Peace

~10.4 mi @ ~13.2 min/mi

Lime green short shorts"Parse this pic, Mr Artificial Intelligence!" challenges Roadkill, in an Adversarial AI attempt to extend the Turing Test into new dimensions. Today's puzzle photos feature a faded Red Sox singlet and lime-green thrift-store running shorts in the context of sidewalk chalk and a matchy-hue striped construction barrier. What do they mean? Answer correctly, and perhaps you've solved the Hard Problem!
"Excuse me -- may I stand on your park bench?" Roadkill asks permission to intrude between two ladies doing stretches at either end of a structure on Sligo Creek Trail. The words "Peace" and "Listen" are mindful mantras on the asphalt. "Instagram that!" suggests an onlooker.Sligo Creek l
Sligo Creek "Now show me what you got!" commands Danger Man, as Roadkill hesitates at the starting line. Off he dashes, for a 1:44 lap at the cushy Blair HS track. A roadside little free library features a small ceramic bell in its mini-campanile. Today's trek yields Coney Count = 2, one cute bunny by a woodsy cut-through and another cottontail in General Getty Park.


- Thursday, June 06, 2019 at 04:33:39 (EDT)

Think Better - Three Keys

How to add appropriately semi-quantitative "thinking tools" to the analytic arsenal? What components are most vital? Three candidates:

... all of which are founded upon applied psychology and epistemology and mathematics. Glimpses of good thinking appear in Tetlock ("Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?") and Wohlstetter ("Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision") and Allison/Zelikow ("Essence of Decision") and Gigerenzer and others ...

What else is needed? ... hmmmm, maybe creativity and openness and humility?

- Wednesday, June 05, 2019 at 05:05:58 (EDT)

2019-05-18 - Ran It with Janet Preview

~10.7 mi @ ~14.8 min/mi

Manassas National Battlefield Park millipede"Skywalker? Or maybe Skysweeper?" suggests Roadkill, pondering candidate Trail Names for "Ran It with Janet" 50k co-director Lucas Moten. We're cruising behind four fast runners - Elsa, Amanda, Brian, and Mike - and enjoying the warm, humid, mostly-cloudy morning for a single-lap anticipatory glimpse of the race on 1 June. Roadkill finds a lucky castoff snakeskin on the path and pockets it. Tourists politely step aside as we trot along the boardwalk. Trail conditions are good, with swampy spots in the final miles. Brightly colored millipedes scramble through the grass. Cylindrical bales of hay line a field.

"I love horses!" says Roadkill to folks getting ready for their ride around Manassas National Battlefield Park. They reply, "We do too!"


- Tuesday, June 04, 2019 at 05:49:42 (EDT)

2019-05-17 - Dead Run Run

~7.0 mi @ ~13.2 min/mi

"Uh, sure you don't want to change indoors?" K2 expresses concern as Roadkill arrives, jumps out of his car, and begins to take off his office clothes. "You can avert your eyes," he suggests, "but don't worry, I've got running gear on under this!" Today Dawn Patrol begins at 3pm (Good morning, Tasmania!) in search of sinkholes along Dead Run. Recent rains created some big ones that have disrupted major roads.

"Sunk Cost Fallacy?" - "No, we've come this far, we might as well go on!" We smile for security cameras and scan for paths to enter the woods between homes. ("Don't shoot! This is a public safety inspection!") Finally, by the bridge on Benjamin Street, K2 spies a rutted muddy track. A pair of mallard ducks, female and male, paddles in the stream. By a flood gauge a lonely hut measures water quality and relays results via radio. Bugs buzz; the day feels oppressively humid. Eventually we come to our senses and climb up to civilization.

"It's better to have an idea. You can change an idea; changing a belief is trickier." Bayesian Roadkill quotes the film Dogma about openness to fine-tuning one's opinions as fresh evidence comes in. ("Beliefs should be knobs, not switches!") We mull over the distinction between exploring deep, subtle theological concepts vs mocking religious doctrine. Sometimes convention should be challenged - but always with reverence and respect. A twee-sweet angular home stands on stilts by Whann Avenue; we eyed it previously more than three years ago. (cf 2015-11-20 - McLean Cut-Throughs)


- Monday, June 03, 2019 at 04:26:53 (EDT)

Risk Shift

Jacob Hacker writes insightfully last month in the New York Times in an op-ed essay "The Economy Is Strong. So Why Do So Many Americans Still Feel at Risk?" about a major social trade-off: safety versus prosperity. Hacker's situational synopsis:

The basic problem is that most of the jobs offered today don't provide the guarantees that workers once expected. This transformation is obvious in "gig economy" jobs like driving for Uber. But the gig economy is still pretty small; for most Americans, the problem is that their work has been gig-ified. Corporations used to pool major economic risks within their labor forces. They did so because they could — the pressures of financial markets and global competition were less constraining. And they did so because they thought they had to if labor unions were to remain satisfied. Now those risks are mostly on workers alone.

That's important, and mostly accurate. (The part that's arguably off: personification of corporations as quasi-conscious actors making choices.) Key, which Hacker attempts to do in words, and which should be done quantitatively: examining the economy as a system with feedback loops and time delays on disparate scales, and making explicit the probabilities of various outcomes, not just the overall average state.

Kinda like the decision to buy insurance: not just yes-or-no, but how much, how likely, what if, and what then ...

(cf Bigger Pictures (1999-11-22), Shoot the Moon (1999-12-29), Since Fire (2000-04-29), Social Robustness (2000-05-17), For Great Justice (2002-12-01), ...)

- Sunday, June 02, 2019 at 06:00:20 (EDT)

2019-05-15 - Yoneda Joke

~4.7 mi @ ~12.2 min/mi

"Another house under attack by flamingos!" K2 leads Dawn Patrol through back roads; we're constrained by early meetings to dash for iced coffee and then make a speedy return. The Four Seasons nursery is rich with spring flowers, leading Roadkill to muse about "A rose by any other name...", the Yoneda Lemma, and the associated joke: "If it's just a lemma, then what's the theorem?" Answer: "All of them!" (OK, a Category Theorist's sense of humor is, uh, ...)

"God Bless America" says a faded lawn sculpture depicting either a puffball mushroom or a giant golf ball on a tee. Black vultures graze at a dumpster. We give thanks for the peachy sunrise. "Gratitude creates joy!"
McLean Lawn Flamingo attack


- Saturday, June 01, 2019 at 04:19:56 (EDT)

2019-05-13 - Meta Don't Know

~5.1 mi @ ~13.6 min/mi

"So what do you know that we don't know you know?" Roadkill asks K2, after the shocking discovery that E.R. is into Category Theory but somehow has never mentioned it.

"I don't know!" responds K2. And just as she says that we arrive back to our starting point, saving Dawn Patrol from runaway epistemological catastrophe. Thank goodness!

Flashback to 0543 as we set off in search of coffee. Light rain falls, pauses, resumes. K2 reports on happy family graduation news, E.R. on kudos for a successful project, Roadkill on muddy cross-country racing. We meander through a downtown McLean nursery, admiring chrysanthemums and irises, peonies and lilies. Tomatoes on the vine are green enough to make temptation resistible. There's a new cut-through, up a slippery slope behind overflowing dumpsters. "Look! Abandoned treasures!"


- Friday, May 31, 2019 at 04:22:29 (EDT)

Bayesian Life Analysis

A powerful explanation of why some people see racism (or other forms of sinister discrimination) in cases where others dismiss or overlook it — Doug Glanville writes in a recent New York Times opinion essay "I Was Racially Taunted on Television. Wasn't I?" about how evidence accumulates and properly influences interpretation of what seem to be ambiguous events:

... The communication breakdown here can be illustrated by imagining a coordinate graph on which you plot what you understand to be the racist episodes you experience or hear about during your life. The x-axis represents the passage of time and the y-axis represents the degree of racism of an episode — from someone's assumption that you're a valet when you're parking your own car to the burning of a cross on your lawn. For each experience, you mark a dot.

Over time, the dots accumulate, and you start to see a pattern. You draw a curve that connects the dots and you develop a keen sense of things that happen to you because of your race. The pattern allows you to notice correlations, to make predictions. You are learning from evidence, in part for your self-preservation.

Now imagine someone plotting a graph who encounters such episodes from a more privileged or isolated perspective. Maybe this person hears about them only if they are sensational enough to make the news. He sees evidence of racism only from time to time, and when he does, it tends to be stark and unambiguous — the use of racial slurs, an explicit avowal of hate. ...

... and yes, as with all events throughout history, interpretation should be Bayesian. Prior experience establishes the baseline probability for a hypothesis (e.g., "Such an Act is X% likely to be racist."); the current situation is judged in that context; and the estimated probability distribution for future events is updated. Reported observations by others contribute to the constellation of evidence, appropriately weighted by their reliability and ambiguity.

... and when something truly surprising happens, the posterior probability estimate changes a lot more more than when events are ho-hum as-expected. In brief, Bayes Rule simply says to update the odds:

before * likelihood = after

... and that's how to be a better thinker!

(cf Statistics - A Bayesian Perspective (2010-08-13), Introduction to Bayesian Statistics (2010-11-20), Change of Heart (2011-06-21), Adventure of the Bayesian Clocks - Part One (2013-12-04), Forecasting Lessons from Systems Dynamics (2017-07-05), Be Skeptical of Bluster (2018-04-02), ...)

- Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 06:10:19 (EDT)

2019-05-12 - Happy Mother's Day

~3.2 mi @ ~9.6 min/mi

"Хорошо!" Roadkill cheers Igor Luovskyl in the final sprint toward the finish line. Mud decorates the trails in Cabin John Regional Park for the Mother's Day morning cross-country event. Runners dodge puddles when possible, splash-dash through when necessary. No major falls on rocks and roots, and no lost shoes this year, thank goodness!

Official results put Roadkill first of 2 (!) in the 65-69 year male cohort - 59th of 137, behind 41 men and 17 women, in 29:44 - alas, about 1 min/mi slower than in 2012 and 2015 - roughly par given 20 pounds extra weight and some extra years.


- Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 04:24:30 (EDT)

2019-05-11 - Sufferfest

~15.4 mi @ ~14 min/mi

"Agony? Exhaustion? What was the name of that beer at Big Sur?" Danger Man scratches his head to recall what the marathon finish-line tent at offered for rehydration. "Ah, Sufferfest!" Roadkill runs from KenGar toward a cheery cherry sunrise, past a pensive cherub sitting on the fence and a foggy mirror that reminds passers-by that they are free. He meets Danger Man, and the duo meanders back to Rock Creek Trail where R2 joins them. Along the way a lawn-art eagle spreads its wings to protect an alabaster rabbit family and a coppery turtle.

"Maybe it's a Therapy Whale?" R2 speculates about the friendly beluga recently seen near Norway wearing a harness, and tells of law students finding comfort from a dog brought into the classroom. Sparrows dance a pas de deux on the sidewalk. The "Wish Bowl" accepts and dispenses rocks. Coney Count = 1, a big bunny that dashes across a front yard to reach cover.


- Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 05:40:07 (EDT)

Power vs Freedom

Tim Kreider in a witty New York Times essay ("Power? No, Thanks, I'm Good") muses about the yin-yang of negative vs positive liberty:

I would define power as the ability to make other people do what you want; freedom is the ability to do what you want. Like gravity and acceleration, these are two forces that appear to be different but are in fact one. Freedom is the defensive, or pre-emptive, form of power: the power that's necessary to resist all the power the world attempts to exert over us from day one. So immense and pervasive is this force that it takes a considerable counterforce just to restore and maintain mere autonomy. Who was ultimately more powerful: the conqueror Alexander, who ruled the known world, or the philosopher Diogenes, whom Alexander could neither offer nor threaten with anything? (Alexander reportedly said that if he weren't Alexander, he would want to be Diogenes. Diogenes said that if he weren't Diogenes, he'd want to be Diogenes too.)

... echoes of Sir Isaiah Berlin and "Two Concepts of Liberty". Kreider goes on to comment on self-awareness, non-attachment, proper estimation of one's own status, and a flock of other important issues.

Yes, and like both Isaiah Berlin and Robert Nozick, there's the joy of inspiring others to live a mindful, open, loving life ...

(cf. Embarrassed Libertarian (2000-05-28), Freedom Peace Commerce Education (2002-09-13), Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), Awakening Matrix (2019-04-29), ...)

- Monday, May 27, 2019 at 06:19:25 (EDT)

2019-05-08 - 3M

~6.2 mi @ ~12.9 min/mi

"They have three types of people: Military, Management, and Mathematicians." E.R. caricatures each category as Dawn Patrol meanders across McLean. We preview part of the fun-run course that he will cover with a camera later today. Cut-throughs connect ball fields, parking lots, and culs-de-sac. A peachy sunrise illuminates dappled altocumulus clouds.

"It reminds us how blessed we are!" K-Rex tells of a recent scary situation that could have resulted in grave injuries if timing had been a little different. At Opalacka Street we near Pimmit Run Trail but decide to save it for drier times when it's less overgrown. Schoolchildren drift zombie-like toward their bus stop. A scarecrow stands sentry duty inside a trash can at the street.


- Sunday, May 26, 2019 at 06:14:46 (EDT)

Know and Do

"We know things, and
We get stuff done!

... comment by a kind comrade, not being arrogant but rather speculating as to why physicists — or those from any other rigorous discipline — might bring exceptional strengths to a new field that is still in many ways getting its act together (in this case, she was talking about Machine Learning).

(cf Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones, "That's what I do: I drink and I know things." and Oliver Platt's line in Lake Placid, "They conceal information like that in books.", as quoted in Hidden Knowledge; see also Knowing, Choosing, Doing (1999-05-29), ...)

- Saturday, May 25, 2019 at 05:31:23 (EDT)

2019-05-06 - Run with Scissors

~5.8 mi @ ~11.5 min/mi

"Let's Race!" declares Roadkill, as he stoops to pick up a pair of rusty shears lying in the street. A block later he tosses them toward an open trash bin. "Missed me!" taunts E.R., cruising just behind. Dawn Patrol cheats death yet again! During the dash to the coffee shop we challenge each other on hills and point out hidden cut-throughs.

Trash-talk escalates: "After your sandbagging attempt last time, I won't believe that you're really hurt unless there's a bone sticking out!" The pace is fast enough that Roadkill accepts it as speedwork-substitute in lieu of climbing the fence to run laps at the high school track.

"Mathematicians seem oddly obsessed with numbers!" notes E.R., as conversation moves from bottomless mimosas to Erdös anecdotes. A pomegranate sunrise brightens the sky. Coney Count = 1 after a tiny bunny scoots across the sidewalk ahead.


- Friday, May 24, 2019 at 04:18:43 (EDT)

2019-05-05 - Beach Blanket Superhero

~10.5 mi @ ~15.7 min/mi

beach blanket superheroes"Damp socks yesterday, a sopping wet towel today — what will I discover tomorrow?" Pippi Roadkill is a thing-finder, this morning snagging a soggy old Marvel superhero beach blanket abandoned by the roadside. Lugging it is good weight training! Pink flamingos dance menacingly across a front yard; a bronze garden statue depicts a girl and boy reading. The Ken-Gar parking lot is full, so G-ji parks upstream and runs to the rendezvous. A warm-up walkabout rediscovers a hidden cut-through at Edith Throckmorton Park, where Roadkill slips and almost falls on a wet log. Danger Man, tracking their motion, arrives.

"Flood alert!" The trio tiptoes through puddles as rain rattles on the leafy canopy above. We share race plans, offer healthy diet tips, and commiserate over injuries. Back again at Ken-Gar, Roadkill rejects an offer of OJ — "My new regime allows fruit but not fruit juices!" — and splits a banana.

"This isn't a connector path, it's a waterfall!" Drainage from Howard Avenue makes the climb from Rock Creek Trail slightly treacherous in spots. But all's well that ends well (enough)!


- Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 06:22:13 (EDT)

Ideas vs Beliefs

From the 1999 film Dogma, by Kevin Smith, on the importance of openness, flexibility, and not-clinging to judgments:

Rufus: ... His only real beef with mankind is the sh*t that gets carried out in His name. Wars, bigotry, televangelism. The big one, though, is the fractioning of all of the religions. He said mankind got it all wrong by taking a good idea and building a belief structure on it.
Bethany: You're saying having beliefs is a bad thing?
Rufus: I just think it's better to have ideas. I mean, you can change an idea; changing a belief is trickier. People die for it, people kill for it. ...

... quoted by a colleague at the office in response to the Bayesian mantra, "Beliefs should be knobs, not switches".

- Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 04:28:21 (EDT)

2019-05-04 - Meet Vixen

~9.5 mi @ ~14.4 min/mi

"There's always a cut-through!" says Vixen. "Go ahead and find it — we'll wait!" So Roadkill climbs the fence and creeps behind the French Immersion School. Around the corner, there's the path! "Allons-y!"

It's a humid morning of robins and rabbits, soggy socks and dewy grass. A cloth banner en route to the rendezvous exhorts: "Wage Hope". At Candy Cane City G-ji introduces Vixen. We run past the stables, greet a Galloway training group, then meet up with Danger Man. In the road-closed zone of Rock Creek Park busy construction workers build a new gravel base for Beach Drive. We dodge a peleton of cyclists on Western Ave, where G-ji finds a dime and a nickel, and visit DC Boundary Stones NW9 and NW8. Neighborhood lanes take us back to Leland St where a lovely-curvy wooden sculpture stands not far from a classic lawn-dog-flower-basket ornament. Danger Man reports on his Big Sur International Marathon experience last weekend; Vixen and Roadkill compare notes on Pasadena California. "Très bien!"


- Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 18:29:25 (EDT)

2019-05-03 - Think Better

~9.2 mi @ ~12.5 min/mi

"Manic Monday?" Roadkill reports hearing the Bangles tune on the car radio, and launches into a chaotic explanation of the Metacognitive Mafia's latest plan for world domination. No secret: it's simply a scheme to nudge everybody toward better thinking, and thus make the universe a safer, kinder place. <<insert fiendish cackle>> K2 listens patiently as her mantra is quoted back at her: "What can I myself do, right here and right now, to make this situation better?" (Hmmm ... perhaps sketch a causal flow diagram of feedback loops, time delays, and leverage points?)

"She said this has been the best year of her life!" Such a happy thought — and rather than cynical allusions to "Glory Days" a better musical accompaniment would be "These Are Days" by 10,000 Maniacs, with its lovely-poetic: "And as you feel it, you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky." Yes, and ...

"Oooh, gotta give chase!" says Roadkill as Scoot Faster zips by, his slow warmup matching Roadkill's 5k race pace. At 0-dark-5:49am they sprint together for a few steps. Miles later K2 leads Dawn Patrol on a 1:52 lap at Langley High School track, surface slippery with morning dew. Cut-throughs between neighborhoods are muddy.

"It's Freaky Friday!" booms the Cooper Middle School public address system. "Don't ask what the acronym 'WOW' stands for in 'WOW Wednesday' please," suggests someone. Oops!


- Monday, May 20, 2019 at 04:21:30 (EDT)

2019-05-01 - Support Vector

~5.4 mi @ ~11.6 min/mi

"Anaphora? Is that a Grecian urn?" Roadkill emulates a troublesome professor on a final oral exam committee and interrogates E.R. about computational linguistics. "And could you explain a support vector machine — to a 4-year-old?" E.R. does a fine job as we dash 2 fast miles to the coffee shop, then explore the neighborhood as we sip java.

"Eureka! E.R.'s cut-through #1!" Dawn Patrol considers wading across the creek to Bryn Mawr Park before discovering a hidden pathway between Emerson Avenue and the shopping center. After inspecting a little free library and an enigmatic iron sculpture ("rusty turtle?") we take K2's cut-through #1 past McLean High School. "Are those hearts?" - "No, it's a baseball!"


- Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 04:58:26 (EDT)

Intimacy 201

Further edgy thoughts from Andrea Howe's "Get Real Project", in her essay "Intimacy 201" about how to be a trusted advisor:

(cf. Trusted Advisor (2012-12-23), Action to Raise Trust (2015-09-05), Principles of Trust-Building (2015-09-23), Three Little Words (2017-04-08), Get Real Project (2019-05-01), ...)

- Friday, May 17, 2019 at 05:31:18 (EDT)

2019-04-29 - Stippled Sunrise

~4.8 mi @ ~11.4 min/mi

"Hackamore?" K2 explains bitless bits of horse tack in response to Roadkill's equestrian questions about the difference between a halter and a bridle. "And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim", says Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "Pied Beauty". Dawn Patrol admires stippled "skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow" and gives thanks for dappled things. Four deer stare and then retreat into the brush by Lupine Lane. A new gray blockhouse stands across the street from stately conventional mansions with manicured broad lawns. "Their owners must be driven crazy when they look out their front windows!"

"Almost a hole in one!" E.R. recounts an extraordinary golf event yesterday. Skeptical Bayesians speculate whether he was pranked by a friend, hallucinated, or actually hit an awesome shot that landed within half a club-length of the pin. Odds favor the final hypothesis. We trot by the Stations of the Cross, straighten ornamental birds perched in a tree near a little free library, and finish in time for early-urgent phone calls. After a good run with friends, all's well in this fickle, freckled world!


- Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 05:26:58 (EDT)

2019-04-27 - Wind and Sun

~11.7 mi @ ~14.9 min/mi

Wind"I love the smell of paint! Do you feel high yet?" Solvent fumes waft from the industrial park. G-ji and Roadkill divert to inspect artwork and check out a coffee warehouse-outlet where chia seeds are on deep discount sale.
"Tomorrow? I thought the race was today!" We can't run as bandits with friends, and instead circle Rockville on the cherry-blossom-bestrewn Carl Henn Millennium "Trail" aka sidewalks with stripes. Bright sun's warmth alternates with gusty wind's chill, both of which are depicted by arty house decorations. Thomas Farm Community Center is 10 minutes shy of opening when we arrive, so we orbit the neighborhood and take photos at the Mile 0 marker.Su


- Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 04:29:08 (EDT)

Overcoming Time Management Regret

Thoughts on self-forgiveness and opening-to-change in Elizabeth Grace Saunders' New York Times article "Your Past Is Not Your Future: Overcoming Time Management Regret":

(cf Life Time Management - 1 (2001-06-13), Life Time Management - 2 (2001-06-17), Practical Productivity (2004-01-20), It's About Choices (2009-04-21), Mind Like Water (2011-12-24), Getting Things Done - Summarized (2012-05-14), ...)

- Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 05:35:17 (EDT)

2019-04-26 - Potomac Trek

~14 mi @ ~14.4 min/mi

Martin Luther King Jr memorial"We didn't take a wrong turn, we took a different turn!" E.R. offers an optimistic perspective on unanticipated detours. Starting at Potomac Yard the Dawn Patrol follows Four Mile Run to the Mount Vernon Trail and proceeds northwest. Martin Luther King Jr approves of the adventure, as do Presidents Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ, whose memorials we visit.
"Training for Life, and for Lunch!" - the answer to a questioner who wonders why we're out today. A visit to Starbucks in Georgetown adds major GPS glitches to the trackfile distance estimate.Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting PoolAircraft on final approach to National Airport swoop low overhead at Gravelly Point. K-Rex and K2 dash ahead with E.R. as Slow-Twitch and Roadkill pause to inspect vegetation near the Potomac River. Keith Knipling gives a shout-out as he bikes upstream.
"AREA CLOSED"? It doesn't say that on the side of the barrier from which we arrive! Trail talk includes technical issues of epidemiology and linguistics, plus lots of lessons-learned from mistakes. "Don't do what I did!"Georgetown construction barrier


- Monday, May 13, 2019 at 04:30:55 (EDT)

Frog and Toad - The Surprise

A Zen-ish children's story told by Arnold Lobel (1933-1987) is titled "The Surprise" (published in Frog and Toad All Year). Kathryn Jezer-Morton comments on it in "Discovering the dharma in 'Frog and Toad'":

To me, The Surprise is about the pleasure of loving-kindness. There is no goal or endgame required in the practice of loving-kindness. It is not a practice that requires a reward; it is its own reward, it reflects back on you. The kindness that Frog and Toad show each other is ultimately invisible, but it warms them both. As Shunryu Suzuki writes in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves."

The story, with a few of Lobel's illustrations from [1]:

It was October. The leaves had fallen off the trees. They were lying on the ground. "I will go to Toad's house," said Frog. "I will rake all of the leaves that have fallen on his lawn. Toad will be surprised." Frog took a rake out of the garden shed.

Toad looked out of his window. "These messy leaves have covered everything," said Toad. He took a rake out of his closet. "I will run over to Frog's house. I will rake all of his leaves. Frog will be very pleased."
http://zhurnaly.com/images/frog-and-toad_arnold-lobel_the-surprise_2.jpgFrog ran through the woods so that Toad would not see him. Toad ran through the high grass so that Frog would not see him. Frog came to Toad's house. He looked in the window. "Good," said Frog. "Toad is out. He will never know who raked his leaves."

Toad got to Frog's house. He looked in the window. "Good," said Toad. "Frog is not home. He will never guess who raked his leaves."
Frog worked hard. He raked the leaves into a pile. Soon Toad's lawn was clean. Frog picked up his rake and started home.

Toad pushed and pulled on the rake. He raked the leaves into a pile. Soon there was not a single leaf in Frog's front yard. Toad took his rake and started home.
http://zhurnaly.com/images/frog-and-toad_arnold-lobel_the-surprise_4.jpgA wind came. It blew across the land. The pile of leaves that Frog had raked for Toad blew everywhere. The pile of leaves that Toad had raked for Frog blew everywhere.

When Frog got home, he said, "Tomorrow I will clean up the leaves that are all over my own lawn. How surprised Toad must be!"

When Toad got home, he said, "Tomorrow I will get to work and rake all of my own leaves. How surprised Frog must be!"

That night Frog and Toad were both happy when they each turned out the light and went to bed.

(cf Frog and Toad (2009-01-09), ...)

- Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 16:53:18 (EDT)

2019-04-24 - Justice like Tinted Glass

~4.7 mi @ ~13.1 min/mi

"With fingernails that shine like justice / And a voice that is dark like tinted glass!" Roadkill tries to remember the best similes in Cake's song "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" as he and K2 admire vintage-retro dresses in downtown McLean shop windows. We sip iced coffee and discuss Edward Gibbon, Thornton Wilder, and the beautifully structured prose of some authors. Creative energy can work miracles; a child's schoolwork may some day become a keepsake-journal to share memories with future generations.

"Runs on Sunshine!" K2 sees a sign inside Starbucks and requests a Roadkill selfie in front of it. We shake our heads at the coarsening of public discourse and proliferation of foul language in sidewalk conversation. Alizarin crimson clouds glow low in the east.

"Good morning, again!" Scoot Faster greets us for the second time as we finish. A few miles earlier he zoomed past us near McDonalds, and now he's out walking the dog. A huge empty flowerpot beckons from the roadside where it awaits today's trash pickup. Carpe Urna, Roadkill!


- Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 05:25:34 (EDT)

Opening to the New

Soft thoughts on self-care in a recent New York Times essay "Why You Need a Network of Low-Stakes, Casual Friendships" by Allie Volpe:

Volpe's list of gentle practices:

... all in the spirit of acceptance and openness to possibility — "Something wonderful may be about to happen!"

(cf Opening to Love (2013-09-27), Ground of Being (2013-10-03), Virtues of Softness (2014-03-20), Rilke on Being Human (2015-04-22), Wings of Acceptance (2015-05-26), Taiji Mnemonic Principles (2017-09-15), Mindfulness in Three Words (2018-06-13), Meditation Map (2019-01-19), ...)

- Friday, May 10, 2019 at 06:45:33 (EDT)

2019-04-22 - Backronym

~7.6 mi @ ~12.6 min/mi

"'Posh' does NOT come from a passenger ship acronym 'Port Outward, Starboard Home' as folk-etymology suggests", E.R. notes; he recently read The Man Who Knew Infinity, a biography of mathematician Ramanujan that repeats that incorrect claim. K2, the only one wearing a headlamp, leads Dawn Patrol for the first mile until gloom lifts. We pause at McDonalds for hot coffee on a cool morning. Geese feed on a football field.

"Bats? Whether or not, let's say that they are — it adds drama to the report!" Winged silhouettes dip and flutter overhead. Cars pause politely on off-ramps for us to cross. A pack of other runners gathers at a street corner as we approach.

"Can we take them?" Roadkill wonders. "They're twice our number, but we're twice as tough!" Now that E.R. has signed up for the Columbus Marathon in October, K2 and Roadkill commence greasing the slippery slope and suggest that he run Richmond with us a month later. Why not?


- Thursday, May 09, 2019 at 05:29:27 (EDT)

2019-04-21 - You Are Loved

~20.1 mi @ ~14.2 min/mi

U R ❤️'d"You must love your self. Then things will begin to get better." Slow-Twitch shares words of great wisdom from an online health forum. Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol? Just numbers. Self-care is crucial. So is helping friends, and widening the circle of concern. At mile ~17 a sidewalk stencil reminds: "U R ❤️'d". Easter blessings to all, today and every day!

"Swordfish!" G-ji shares a recipe for a delicious meal as she and Roadkill meet in Ken-Gar and jog upstream along Rock Creek. Multiple mini-packs of cute dogs are out for strolls on leashes. During our return along the Matthew Henson Trail we spy three pencils, a pen, and a pair of chocolate candies on the ground. Roadkill dives and snags them, his only fuel of the day. A mile later we're delighted to meet Slow-Twitch and join forces for bonus miles. Cherry blossoms puddle in the streets. On the solo homeward trek Roadkill pauses to admire the Ernest Park eagle, sakura trees blooming in the background. Bunny count = 1, in a Kensington front yard.


- Wednesday, May 08, 2019 at 04:42:27 (EDT)


From Chapter 1 of Herman Wouk's 2010 book The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion, words from Richard Feynman:

and from Chapter 3, quoted from James Gleick's 1992 biography Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman:

(cf Fractal Feynman (2003-01-30), Feynman Lectures (2006-11-26), Feynman on Poetry and Science (2015-11-03), Symmetry in Physical Laws (2015-12-12), Alternative Paths (2017-01-15), Feynman on Good Stuff (2018-06-03), ...)

- Tuesday, May 07, 2019 at 06:01:11 (EDT)

2019-04-20 - Candy Biker

~5.1 mi @ ~12.5 min/mi

Wild Hair z"Peppermint?" Roadkill and Danger Man pause to offer aid to an inconsolable little girl, stopped on the bikepath after what seems to have been a minor cycling accident. Her parents approve, and she immediately stops crying and takes the candy. Future ultrarunner material, eh?! Next time, no doubt, if she finds one of us fallen she'll just say "Suck it up, Cupcake!" and "If the bone ain't showin', keep on goin'!" A big deer feeds nearby as we trot upstream. Ladies dash by, then turn back. We pet dogs and essay feats of strength at Colt Terrace Park, take the side route to Arcola Ave, and return to the trail.

"Magellan the Great Navigator?" Roadkill suggests a new name for Danger Man, who leads the way as we bushwhack past a pair of ponds and eventually emerge from the brush, scratched and slightly scathed. We sing together, "There's a man who leads a life of danger / To everyone he meets he stays a stranger / With every move he makes / Another chance he takes / Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow." This time, thankfully, tomorrow is another day. As we approach the finish line Roadkill poses for a photo in an antigravity-wild-hair zone.


- Monday, May 06, 2019 at 04:43:56 (EDT)

2019-04-19 - Sakuro Cadence

~10.9 mi @ ~13.5 min/mi

"I want to be an Army Ranger / Live a life of sex and danger!" K-Rex reports overhearing a slightly-naughty cadence when passing a phalanx of military runners. Dawn Patrol scarcely needs headlamps this morning as we trot around Pimmit Hills, past the Metro and back via pedestrian cut-through paths. ER sets a brisk pace for the first half dozen miles, after which Roadkill and K-Rex drop him off to make early meetings. We then throttle back for a bonus mindful meander.

"Yoshino has five petals; Kanzan look like carnations." K-Rex identifies cherry blossom varieties and names other flowering trees. At McLean High School track the chin-up bars reveal a great opportunity for more upper-body strength work. Coney Count = 2, big bunnies at miles 5 and 8.


- Sunday, May 05, 2019 at 05:25:46 (EDT)

С Днем Рождения

"None of us remembers our birthday
    — but we all celebrate it!"

... what else has that paradoxical quality?

(from the lovely 2015 Russian film "I am Dragon" = "Он - дракон")

- Saturday, May 04, 2019 at 05:39:51 (EDT)

2019-04-13 - Vermont Runamuck 50k

~31 mi @ ~14.6 min/mi

Vermont Runamuck 50k horses and riders South Pomfret"Ultrarunners are so nice - I Heart You!" says the young lady, holding up hands in a <3 shape. So many such comments happen during the Runamuck 50k today, as we offer one another food, drink, salt, etc. The slopes in Vermont's ski region are icy, dirt roads muddy, vistas dramatic, hills unrelenting, and people uniformly ultra-friendly.
"I hired extra medics and alerted all the rescue squads along the way!" Race Director Jonathan Vass teases Roadkill, who takes a 45-minute-early start expecting to be much slower. Even with pauses to photograph horses, refuel at aid stations, and doff garments as the day warms, he finishes in 7 hours 25 minutes, 75th of 80, last of 5 in his age group, winner of the "traveled farthest to run" gift certificate. Yay!Vermont Runamuck 50k m
Vermont Runamuck 50k Mary Ewell and Mark Zim"Thank you, Mary!" Roadkill says it often throughout today's race. The inestimable Dr M drives, crews, runs alongside for miles, and cracks the whip as needed to help him enjoy the race and finish far more comfortably than anticipated. Great day!


- Friday, May 03, 2019 at 04:34:25 (EDT)

2019-04-10 - Capital One Coffee

~5.2 mi @ ~13.6 mi/mi

"The new Starbucks is open!" Dawn Patrol dashes up and down the Metro stairs past sleepy commuters to check out the long-rumored coffee shop less than a mile from the office. We deem it worthy, though GPS makes mega-glitches while indoors. When we attempt to escape the new neighborhood we're thwarted by fences and construction barriers. Cut-throughs another day, and perhaps a sidewalk to explore by the new highway on-ramp? Let's hope!

"Stop here and pose!" Roadkill takes photos of E.R. at the tree stump carved into a giant grizzly bear. K2 leads us on a natural-surface short-cut through Olney Park. Daffodils and narcissi line the streets.


- Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 05:27:26 (EDT)

Get Real Project

A list (and Table of Contents) from Andrea Howe's Get Real Project manifesto, "17 Ways to Transform Your Client Relationships", ideas on how to be a better "trusted advisor":

  1. Curiosity is king.
  2. Stop selling; start helping.
  3. Business is personal.
  4. Humor and levity do more than break the ice.
  5. Trust is non-linear and paradoxical; embrace the opportunity.
  6. Be quiet and listen if you want to be heard.
  7. Mistakes are inevitable; how you handle them reveals your true character.
  8. Being vulnerable takes chutzpah.
  9. The soft stuff is the hard stuff—master it.
  10. Control is an illusion; the best moments are usually improvised.
  11. No risk, no trust, no doubt about it.
  12. It's your job to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  13. You get what you give.
  14. Be human. Please.
  15. Change begins at home. Work on yourself first.
  16. If you can't be yourself, change jobs. Or hire a therapist. Or both.
  17. Keep it real.

In his foreword to her Manifesto, Andrea Howe's mentor-collaborator Charles Green comments: "You can read these 17 pearls as daily meditations. You can also treat them as subjects for discussion and even, on occasion, data collection. Any way you apply them, you'll be transforming yourself."

(cf. Trusted Advisor (2012-12-23), Action to Raise Trust (2015-09-05), Principles of Trust-Building (2015-09-23), Three Little Words (2017-04-08), ...)

- Wednesday, May 01, 2019 at 04:54:58 (EDT)

2019-04-07 - Haiku Tree

~6.2 mi @ ~15.5 min/mi

Kenwood Cherry Blossom haiku tree"Fleeting beauty makes / Time stand still beneath the pale / Blossoms of pink bliss." R2 shows Roadkill the Haiku Tree, limbs heavy with clothes-pinned poems. We roam the streets of Kenwood, admiring sakura and attempting not to photo-bomb busy lensmen. Young couples kiss and hug, take selfies and pose, blush and snuggle for cameras. Pale petals rain down at breeze's delicate touch.

"Run gently!" Earlier this morning Roadkill gives Danger Man a ride to the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in downtown DC. Bright murals on the West Education Center call to him from the corner of 14th and Farragut NW.


- Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 05:52:14 (EDT)

Awakening Matrix

mindfulness   nonattachment  oneness
attend accept affirm
empty glide serve
meta open kind
here soft love
now may yes
be if go

(another draft sketch — cf Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), Meditation Map (2019-01-19), ...)

- Monday, April 29, 2019 at 04:44:23 (EDT)

2019-04-06 - Merlin Loves Sakura

~7.9 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Merlin Loves Sakura - Kenwood Maryland 2019 Sakura"Hanami!" -- the Japanese word for flower-viewing, especially cherry blossoms -- brings G-ji, K2, and Roadkill to Bethesda early Saturday morning. We warm up, meet Danger Man, and proceed to the Kenwood neighborhood where more than 1,000 trees are abloom. Little kids cease posing for photos and swivel their heads to stare at Roadkill's wizard hat. Some dogs admire the pointy cap; others decide it is too unnatural and bark violently.

"Excessive turrets!" - "Incongruous angles!" - "Distracting pillars!" - We critique mansion architecture and pause to applaud artistic garden choices. Branches arch low over streets. Flower beds are freshly mulched. A random-walk strategy covers the majority of the area within an hour.

"Maybe he's on the lookout for counterfeiters?" A secret service police vehicle idles at a corner. Trucks and cars pause politely for pedestrians. G-ji heads home, leaving K2, Danger Man, and Roadkill to amble west and rediscover cut-throughs. The local neighborhood association offers tables of free food to sample. We analyze superhero movies: Jason Momoa is easy on the eyes but everyone in "Aquaman" seems to solve problems by hitting or stabbing; "Shazam!" gets a positive review; advance ticket prices for "Avengers: Endgame" are simply silly.

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 14:25:09 (EDT)

Retra Remarks

If you live under a rock,
you might think that the sun
is a crack in the Earth.

... a poetic image posted in reply to a Category Theory question [1] by user "Retra", some of whose comments seem similarly intriguing, e.g., excerpted:

... and in response to a critique of such comments, Retra's meta-comment:

(typos fixed and comments extracted from context for impact)

- Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 05:52:52 (EDT)

2019-04-05 - Nice Day to Start Again

~14.0 mi @ ~14.0 min/mi

Graffiti under GW Parkway bridge over Pimmit Run"Faith! We've gotta have Faith!" says K2, alluding to the George Michael hit song while Dawn Patrol trots along the narrow shoulder of Chesterbrook Road. Earlier she croons an excerpt of "We Belong" (Pat Benatar, by Lowen & Navarro) as we claim the right to be here.
"Hey little Sister, what have you done?" Roadkill in turn quotes from "White Wedding" by Billy Idol. We're alternately lost and found, enjoying an adventure on a soggy-wet morning, following the path by Pimmit Run, dancing over rocks and roots, creeping along the eroded stream bank. Roadkill's memory is foggy from the last time he ventured here almost 7 years ago (see 2012-05-19 - Pimmit Run Trail (Downstream)). Fresh graffiti under the GW Memorial Parkway shines bright.Graffiti under GW Parkway bridge over Pimmit Run
stripy lawn sculpture"Lawn zebra!" K2 points to a stripey garden sculpture. We pass a pair of fierce lions by a driveway, embarrassed to wear bunny ears and guard their Easter baskets. A cut-through takes us to civilization where a woman running with her dog is clueless as to which way we should turn to get back. No matter! "It's a nice day for a white wedding. It's a nice day to start again!"


- Friday, April 26, 2019 at 04:12:21 (EDT)

2019-04-03 - Acupuncture

~4.0 mi @ ~16.3 min/mi

"It all goes through the stomach!" J-Ro quotes his acupuncturist on a tenet of Asian traditional medicine. "Literally, that's true," comments E.R., as Dawn Patrol shares experiences with injuries and recovery therefrom. The cloying scent of mulch rises from flower beds on Windy Hill Road. An airplane with brilliant landing lights cruises past Venus low in the east. Frost rimes tiny gardens by an apartment complex, each of which has a sign indicating its owner's room number. K2 leads us through half a dozen cut-throughs, across Old Dominion to Lewinsville, past a cemetery, and by the flying-disc golf course. We note the paucity of Little Free Libraries in some neighborhoods.


- Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 05:31:23 (EDT)

Applied Category Theory

be more Meta
It's all about abstraction

Suggestions from yet another recent thread about the value of Category Theory in computer science and engineering [1]:


... learning about techniques used in functional programming that have their origin in category theory (maps, folds, algebraic data types, monads, monoids, etc) can allow you to think about how to solve problems (even in non-functional languages) in ways that can be more "natural" to the problem, in that the abstractions used resemble the problem description more closely. That ability to decompose difficult problems in new ways can definitely make you a better engineer. ...


... category theory is massively useful in understanding the similarities between fields, and can be used to transfer understanding from one field to another. It it also useful for understanding more abstract fields where the intuition must be gained by analogy with something more concrete. ...


... Category theory is about abstracting away the details of mathematical domains so that fundamentally parallel proofs and constructions can be seen to be essentially the same. It also allows you to create constructions that allow problems in one field to be transformed into problems in an apparently unrelated one where you might find them easier to prove. The result is that in a new field, you recognize the category and suddenly have a whole bunch of results, and some important constructions to look at. ...


... Category theory is about making trivial things trivially trivial ...


... category theory ... draws out the significance of relationships in a system. We often spend a lot of time thinking about the things, themselves, in a system. ... What are their properties? What do they mean? What is their identity? In category theory, almost all the significance of individual things is erased. Instead, you often group things up into sets and other structures, and then call the whole set an object. Then you think about the existence of morphisms from one kind of object to another. A morphism is kind of like a function, in the sense that something goes in, and something else comes out. Except that we're not concerned about the properties of what's going in and coming out, so the function body doesn't really matter. A morphism is something more general than any specific function. It's more like a function declaration--specifying that something does exist without saying anything concrete about what it does. So, you're operating on a level of abstraction that removes basically all unnecessary details about things and relationships, other than existence and some basic rules for how those relationships can be composed to form new ones. As it turns out, there's a whole lot you can say and prove about categories once you know a bit about their structure. ...


... CT is really what happens when you boil and boil and boil away these different fields and are just left with some very universal ideas. Abstract nonsense. ... The thing you can learn from CT which is interesting and valuable is the very powerful, universal perspective of "if you want to understand something, look at how it relates to other things". Category theory is absolutely focused on this idea and most of its insight is that this idea, taken in its extreme, is extraordinarily far reaching. ...

(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), Category Theory for Programmers (2017-05-12), Ultimate Abstraction (2017-08-24), Put the Vast Storehouse in Order (2017-10-04), If You Need a Theorem (2018-11-08), Category Theory is like a Lighthouse (2018-12-24), Macro vs Micro (2019-02-03), Why Care about Category Theory (2019-03-03), Structure Itself (2019-03-22), ...)

- Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 04:51:23 (EDT)

2019-04-01 - Starry Morn

~3.7 mi @ ~11.8 min/mi

"Despite the light pollution!" E.R. spies Cygnus overhead; we speculate about Lyra, Aquila, and the "Summer Triangle" of bright stars. Jupiter shines bright in the south and a skinny crescent moon rises on a crisp Monday morning. Dawn Patrol dashes at sub-10 min/mi pace to the McLean HS track, where a lap lasts 1:42 for Roadkill and a dozen seconds less for speedy E.R. We ramble back and discover a new cut-through behind the apartment complex swimming pool. An under-construction fence lies flat on the ground. Call Security!


- Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 05:46:37 (EDT)

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