^zhurnaly 0.9944

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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 = 0.9943. 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.

2021-02-13 - HOPE

~6.6 mi @ ~20.8 min/mi

"Beware the cabbages!" Roadkill warns Square Peg as the Dawn Patrol twins hurdle a street median full of ornamental kale. An early Saturday morning ramble leads to new cut-throughs, fascinating architecture, unique lawn art, and deep conversation about the journey from awareness through acceptance into action – and when and where to pause along the pathway. Should one try to help change troubled people, or just acknowledge their suffering and work on changing one's self? What are the right ways to be open and soft, loving and kind, attentive and objective? How can we embrace our ridiculous animal-humanity and laugh at our situation, while caring and transcending? Much to ponder, much to explore. A downtown Bethesda mural counsels "Hope". Yes!

"Starting to sleep now!" Autocorrect garbles a text-message warning that sleet is beginning, soon followed by freezing rain. Danger Man and K-Pop appear and join Square Peg; Roadkill punches out early.


- Monday, March 08, 2021 at 06:58:09 (EST)

2021-02-12 - Kensington Paths

~5.4 mi @ ~19.2 min/mi

"Just picking up litter!" Roadkill prepares a cover story, made true by trash he snags off the ground, in case anyone asks why he's there. Friday afternoon's ramble leads to marvelous new pedestrian paths from a modest condo complex into a neighborhood of super-stately homes on Rickover Rd and adjacent lanes. East of Connecticut Ave steep streets lead to dead-ends and pocket parks, front-yard rabbit statues, and tempting (but too icy to risk) cut-throughs.


- Saturday, March 06, 2021 at 06:57:43 (EST)

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Systems Thinkers

Systems Thinking suggestions in The Bridge: Linking Engineering and Society, journal of the National Academy of Engineering, in the Winter 2020 issue, pages 4-5 "Editor's Note" by Guru Madhavan, George Poste, and William Rouse:

  1. Specialize less, systematize more. Working across divisions and abstractions can inform and guide better concepts, principles, models, methods, and tools. On matters of complexity, engineers need to confront the true value of various specializations, how far they can take us, and how they are rewarded.
  2. Get over physics envy, try ecology envy. Less Newton, more Darwin. Engineering achievements and ruins both hinge on reductionism fueled largely by physics. It's time to refocus on deep lessons from nature and culture and all their evolutions.
  3. Evolve logic and psychologic. Engineering training and algorithms encourage context blindness. Being sensitive to environments will require exercising intellectual senses as well as prudent forms of engineering.
  4. Foster discipline over disciplines. Complex systems can change faster than the mind can conceive them, and "solutions" can trigger undesirable outcomes. Staying attentive to failure modes requires discipline.
  5. Relate first, rationalize next. Complexity builds from relationships. Relating to one another is a civic act and engineering should be too. Rationality works only part time–and it's often hard to tell which part.
  6. Progress comes from participation. Engineers often feel conflicted about being "hired guns" or "order takers." Active reflection becomes a challenge. Broadening participation across populations may alleviate this discomfort. If there are no sacrifices, one might say, there's no engineering. Similarly, if there's no public participation, there's no progress.
  7. Focus more on care than creation. Capitalism is fueled by newness and novelty, or so the belief goes. But maintenance and care are sources of essential wisdom and traditions. Vital systems that support people need more care than reckless new creations.

... in other words, think bigger, think better, think together!

(cf Fifth Disciplinarians (2000-09-10), Systems Dynamics Advice (2017-07-12), The World We Truly Want (2018-10-13), Superpowers - Systems Thinking, Asking, and Listening (2019-01-29), Dancing with Systems (2019-06-21), Systems Thinking Icebergs (2019-06-27), Stocks and Flows and Causal Loops (2020-02-14), Scenario Planning and Probabilistic Forecasting (2020-12-10), ...)

- Thursday, March 04, 2021 at 06:30:59 (EST)


~4.4 mi @ ~18.4 min/mi

"You have to keep your eyes open / Finding wildflowers is not all luck", says the bright mural on the tiny bridge in Kensington at Clum-Kennedy Park. Roadkill spied it on yesterday afternoon's walkabout; today he heads the opposite way, southeast. Snow flurries make a streaky 3-D dynamism as he scampers across busy streets. In preparation for a blizzard helpful people spread salt on sidewalks by hand, like sowing seeds in a field.


- Wednesday, March 03, 2021 at 05:44:55 (EST)

Social Good and Partisan Politics

E J Dionne Jr observes in a recent op-ed essay "In defense of partisanship – the right kind" that there are good reasons for political parties to differ, both on values ("... the relative priority of liberty, equality and community ...") and on specific policies. Both sides do need to agree, Dionne argues, "... to abide by the results of free elections, to tell the truth about those elections and to offer all citizens equal opportunities to participate in the electoral process ...". His bottom line:

... in a good society, most political differences involve not a choice between good versus evil, but among competing goods – efficiency, security, entrepreneurship, fairness, individualism and solidarity, to name a few. ...

As Rushworth Kidder said a few decades ago, the dilemmas that thoughtful people wrestle with are not right vs. wrong (violations of values), but right vs. right (conflict of two or more core values). Justice demands thinking better, a nuanced balancing act in multiple dimensions on multiple timescales.

(cf Ethical Fitness (2000-12-15), Circle of Concern (2012-07-18), Left, Right, and Wrong (2017-12-21), Righteous Mind (2020-07-12), ...)

- Tuesday, March 02, 2021 at 06:51:10 (EST)

2021-02-09 - Prayer Labyrinth

~5.2 mi @ ~18.7 min/mi

"Prayer Ribbons - Take One, Tie It On, & Say a Little Prayer" suggest the instructions at the meditative stone labyrinth in the grass. In the hollow base of a nearby tree a studious stone rabbit reads while a cat naps. Up the street a lawn dinosaur lurks. Flattened cans form arty armor on the chain-link fence at the local school. Roadkill slips and falls on the wet hillside of a cut-through at Manakee Place. He gives thanks that the windbreaker is tied around his waist. Instead of a sloppy-stained sleeve, it's just his arm that gets slathered in mud!


- Monday, March 01, 2021 at 06:10:53 (EST)

2021-02-06 - In the Woods

~9.0 mi @ ~22.8 min/mi

Bamboo grove - In the Woods - North Chevy Chase - Outdoor Nursery School"Do little children nap in the leaves?" asks Square Peg, as the Dawn Patrol duo discovers the Outdoor Nursery School. It's a beautiful part of "In the Woods", estate of David Fairchild, US Dept of Agriculture botanist who in the early 1900s brought avocados, mangoes, pistachios, cherry trees, and countless other plants to the United States. Urban trail talk includes "Prototype + Incubate + Grow" (PIG!) plus musings about respect, resilience, and how weird it feels to imagine that bits of our DNA are wandering the world. We're animals in a big universe!

"Bat habitats are disrupted by wind power turbines" explains Doc Bob, and discusses his son's work on remediation. With Half Full and Danger Man he joins the walkabout at mile 5. Lawn sculptures pose for pics, including one in front of the Chevy Chase Psychic center. No doubt it expected to be photographed this morning ...


- Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 06:25:53 (EST)

Be Kind

See the 2013 Syracuse University graduation speech by writer George Saunders for some excellent advice that all boils down to:

Be Kind

... with many lovely thoughts along the way, such as his reflection, "What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness ...", and his observation about three human-state "confusions" that reflect, respectively, failures to realize Mindfulness and Oneness and Nonattachment:

Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian. These are: (1) we're central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we're separate from the universe (there's US and then, out there, all that other junk – dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we're permanent (death is real, o.k., sure – for you, but not for me).

... and his punch-line suggestion:

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There's a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there's also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare's, bright as Gandhi's, bright as Mother Teresa's. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

... shades of David Foster Wallace's 2005 Kenyon University commencement address "This Is Water"!

cf Comments on Be Kind for the full talk by George Saunders, and Comments on This Is Water for David Foster Wallace's talk, and Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), ...)

- Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 06:16:06 (EST)

2021-02-04 - Bondage Drive

~3.1 mi @ ~22.1 min/mi

"Bondage Drive?" Kanga leads Roadkill on a Thursday evening Gaithersburg neighborhood walkabout where many mailboxes are brightly decorated and some streets are named nonjudgmentally.* Snow covers the hillsides as eight deer feed under trees in a valley. A black cat perches atop a storm drain and gives a silent meow. Good memories abound of friends and family and trail runs over the past 16 years. Stretch goal: another ultra together some day?

* Kanga suggests that, based on the nearby Exodus Drive, the name "Bondage" likely is a Biblical reference


- Friday, February 26, 2021 at 06:15:30 (EST)

2021-01-30 - Col Jos Belt

~11.6 mi @ ~21.5 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Colonel_Joseph_Belt_plaque_2021-01-30.jpg"PATENTEE OF 'CHEIVY CHACE'." On the boundary of DC a plaque dated 1911 commemorates Colonel Joseph Belt (1680-1761) and the origin of Chevy Chase, Maryland. With sunrise temps in the low 20s Square Peg and Roadkill meander mindfully and consider issues of caring, careers, comfort, control, category theory, cute canines, and cold hands. They conclude: "We're all human beings – well, most of us, anyway!"

"A blizzard would be exciting – even though we've effectively been snowed in for 10 months!" At 0845 Coney Counter appears, soon followed by Danger Man and Half Full. A northward ramble, following local walkers through a new cut-through, discovers a zone of mega-mansions and angular architecture. The Bethesda Trolley Trail leads to a loop around the NIH campus where cherry blossoms shimmer in the sun.


- Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 05:57:15 (EST)

Liberty, Equality, Truth

A rousing manifesto for a new political party, from an op-ed essay by Evan McMullin in the 15 Dec 2020 New York Times [1]:

It should start with unyielding commitment to the equality and liberty of all, and then to facts, reason and knowledge. It should champion democracy and its improvement and cherish life in all its phases. It should promote personal responsibility, limited government and government's vital role for the common good. It should advance for justice to all, and uphold the personal and religious freedom of a diverse people. It should expand economic opportunity, rejecting cronyism and protectionism, while defending innovators and workers from theft and predatory practices abroad. It should recognize immigration as a vital national asset and universal access to quality health care, public and private, a national obligation. It should imagine new methods of learning and work. It should be decent, ethical and loyal to the Constitution.

... so good to present a positive vision for the future!

(cf Traditarians vs Libertitionists (2000-08-03), Lyndon Johnson Political Philosophy (2006-10-06), Roots of Morality (2009-04-03), Righteous Mind (2020-07-12), Humane Conservatism (2020-12-29), ...)

- Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 06:59:42 (EST)

2021-01-28 - Bad Moon

~1.3 mi @ ~15.2 min/mi

"Your warmup, my cool down!" says Roadkill, and, "There's a bad moon on the rise!" The first quarter mile climb to General Getty Park takes him 3:08, at which point his cardiovascular system tells him that more speedwork is needed. Danger Man then leads the way on a quick survey of early-Valentine late-Xmas lawn decorations. A neighbor's laser projector sprays brilliant green-and-red berries onto the grass.


- Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 06:47:12 (EST)

2021-01-24 - Comity

~3.9 mi @ ~20.5 min/mi

"Comity" says the front-yard chalkboard – a noble social sentiment. Half Full shows Roadkill the remains of what was once the active White Flint Mall, followed by a sunny-brisk Sunday afternoon ramble around the neighborhood. A small flock of lawn-ornament frogs, dogs, hedgehogs, and other creatures guards a big black bowl.


- Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 06:45:39 (EST)

2021-01-24 - Selena Gomez

~3.2 mi @ ~18.2 min/mi

"Selena + Chef is a great show!" Roadkill recommends the new cooking series to Danger Man, who leads a 6:30 half-mile dash up to General Getty Park and down Sherwood Rd. Sunday morning temps are in the mid-20's; the air is still. While Danger Man runs extra distance Roadkill takes a deer trail through the woods near Sligo Creek and Dennis Ave, discovering remnants of mysterious old stone-and-mortar walls.


- Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 06:43:49 (EST)

Upside Surprises

Thomas Friedman in a New York Times op-ed column last month offers a positive, optimistic strategy for the future:

... I've got good news. We can recover, provided that we all – politicians, media, activists – focus on doing what [the previous President] never could: surprising each other on the upside.

Upside surprises are a hugely underrated force in politics and diplomacy. They are what break bonds of pessimism and push out the boundaries of what we think possible. They remind us that the future is not our fate, but a choice – to let the past bury the future or the future bury the past.

... and making that choice – to be kind – is what counts!

(cf Tough-Minded Optimists (2009-12-22), Power of Optimism (2016-02-23), Trustworthy, Helpful, Fair (2020-11-12), ...)

- Monday, February 22, 2021 at 07:22:09 (EST)

2021-01-23 - Rock Creek Cut-Throughs

~8.99 mi @ ~19 min/mi

"They're all friendly!" says one of the four men, of six dogs leading a sunrise ramble through the woods. A chipmunk zips across the trail; a pup barks but refrains from giving chase. After a precarious scramble on a fallen tree across a tributary stream Roadkill takes a side path and finds a cut-through to Ellingson Dr. The meandering return trip follows Boundary Trail and Valley Trail in Rock Creek Park, heads upstream along Beach Dr, takes another cut-through from Western Ridge Trail to Oregon Av and Daniel Rd, a rather sketchier cut-through from Wyndale Ln to Western Av, and eventually loops back to Candy Cane City at mile 5. (The Apple Watch GPS omits the first 4 miles, alas, from its map.) One of the dog-walkers re-encounters him near the end and asks, "Are you starting another lap?"

"Born-again Christian, guitar musician, and motorcyclist!" says someone, describing NIH Director Francis Collins. Coney Counter, Danger Man, Doc Bob, and Half Full join Roadkill for a northeasterly ramble along neighborhood streets. After a brief inspection of construction near the old single-lane bridge over the railroad tracks, the gang takes the Georgetown Branch Trail detour route. Lawn pinwheels spin furiously in the icy wind. Snow flurries stop after early morning.


- Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 07:48:05 (EST)

2021-01-21 - On Top of Mount Getty

~3.3 mi @ ~18.3 min/mi

"General Getty should have a mountain named for him!" Roadkill warms up and flames out running up Belvedere Blvd to General Getty Park. The first quarter mile takes 3 minutes, as does the downhill return – and the old knee doesn't complain, much. Slowly, Rabbit, slowly! Patience! 🐰

"I closed The Rings with only minutes to spare!" Danger Man recounts falling asleep early and awakening just before midnight to maintain his Apple Watch fitness-goal streak. The twins ramble in the dark, pausing for photos of decorative lights. Reminiscing includes weird words from youthful Morse and Semaphore code proficiency tests.


- Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 05:58:04 (EST)

2021-01-19 - Sligo Shortcut

~2.4 mi @ ~20.4 min/mi

"Hate cannot drive out hate; only Love can do that." Chalk on Sligo Creek Trail quotes Dr Martin Luther King Jr. ❤️ Roadkill takes a solo circuit around the big fields behind Sligo Middle School in search of a cut-through. He emerges with scratched legs from thorn bushes but no new escape route.

"Do you hear that?" Sharp-eared Danger Man calls a halt and, by headlamp glow, four pair of beady eyes gleam as a small herd of deer picks its way through crunchy leaves.


- Friday, February 19, 2021 at 06:10:07 (EST)

Body Budgeting

Useful suggestions from "Your Brain Is Not for Thinking" by Lisa Feldman Barrett in the New York Times (23 Nov 2020):

Your brain's most important job isn't thinking; it's running the systems of your body to keep you alive and well. According to recent findings in neuroscience, even when your brain does produce conscious thoughts and feelings, they are more in service to the needs of managing your body than you realize. ... Your brain runs your body using something like a budget. A financial budget tracks money as it's earned and spent. The budget for your body tracks resources like water, salt and glucose as you gain and lose them. Each action that spends resources, such as standing up, running, and learning, is like a withdrawal from your account. Actions that replenish your resources, such as eating and sleeping, are like deposits.

... and operationally:

We're all living in challenging times, and we're all at high risk for disrupted body budgets. If you feel weary from the pandemic and you're battling a lack of motivation, consider your situation from a body-budgeting perspective. Your burden may feel lighter if you understand your discomfort as something physical. When an unpleasant thought pops into your head, like "I can't take this craziness anymore," ask yourself body-budgeting questions. "Did I get enough sleep last night? Am I dehydrated? Should I take a walk? Call a friend? Because I could use a deposit or two in my body budget."

This is not a semantic game. It's about making new meaning from your physical sensations to guide your actions.

(cf Let the Mind Pass By (2010-12-28), Coming Back to Your Breath (2011-09-25), Inner Iguana (2013-07-05), Body Mind Consciousness (2015-01-26), Inhabiting the Body (2015-09-10), Body, Treat Your Mind Well (2016-11-30), Just Zazen (2017-01-29), ...)

- Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 06:39:12 (EST)

2021-01-18 - Ladybugs

~3.7 mi @ ~20.0 min/mi

"Ladybugs!" Half Full and Roadkill discover a new cut-through and find themselves at the Garrett Park pool, where a red-with-black-spots design hints at the name of the swim team. A University of Maryland basketball gnome stands guard atop a stump. Chalk street sketches are labeled with creative spelling. ("Piteza", "Apele", "Graffe", "Rabit", "Unbrala", etc.)


- Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 05:55:30 (EST)

2021-01-17 - One Lap Plus

9.3 mi @ ~20.1 min/mi

"He just pulled up his pants!" Roadkill and Square Peg avert their eyes from a bushy-bearded pot-bellied gentleman (?) standing on his front steps facing a busy street. "Look the other way, at that statue of the Virgin Mary – and try to forget!" they advise each other.

"That's ... a 2:10 ... quarter ... mile!" A crimson sunrise fades as Roadkill pants in lane 3 while Square Peg chaperones him around the track from lane 4. Coney Counters analyzes track dimensions. (The Internet says standard lanes are 1.22 meters wide, so multiplying by 2π gives roughly a 7-8m bonus per lane as one moves out.) Half Full and Danger Man reminisce about past races. A trail through the woods dead-ends at a shed by a barrel full of empty beer cans. A tree on the Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail in Breewood Park is decorated with a deer skull.


- Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 06:51:08 (EST)

2021-01-16 - Onslaughted

~11.0 mi @ ~21.9 min/mi

"I was Onslaughted!" says Square Peg, describing yesterday's hectic pace of events. After a dawn-of-the-dead-like shuffle to Starbucks the newly caffeinated duo meanders in North Kensington and confirms that "No Outlet" signs aren't always entirely true. Mindful conversation focuses on paying attention, cherishing differences, learning new things, recognition of one's worth, and above all sharing joy and caring for one another. A portajohn teeters at a precarious angle.

"This year is different!" says Half Full. Maybe hard-and-fast rules about when (or if) to take down holiday lights can be bent? Doc Bob and Danger Man compare the hills of Chevy Chase View to the Rocky Mountains. A friendly cat graciously accepts some love.

"Baruch Atah Adonai, Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe. We thank you for the holly. We thank you for the ability to climb. Thank you for the whole forest." The Rainbow Trail behind the Temple Emanuel synagogue is overgrown with brush – perhaps another day!


- Monday, February 15, 2021 at 06:26:59 (EST)


Hans Rosling (1948-2017) and two of his kids in 2018 finished a fun, fluffy, fairly useful book Factfulness. It's subtitled "Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think". It's optimistic in tone and metacognitive in content, chatty and slow, full of what it ostensibly opposes: first-person anecdotes about politics and economics and life. Briefly:

Factfulness spins those three themes, at length, into a book that could have been (and maybe was) a fine short talk or essay. A Busy Executive Summary, based on the book's own synopses of ten things to beware:

(cf [1], ...)

- Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 06:09:29 (EST)

2021-01-14 - Evening Ramble

~5.1 mi @ ~17.2 min/mi

"It helps if your night vision is as bad as mine!" Roadkill replies to a woman who admires his headlamp. A fingernail-clipping moon, only 42 hours old, dips low toward the horizon. Starting in late afternoon a brisk walk discovers some late Xmas lawn ornaments. A water company crew is finishing their work by backhoe light.


- Saturday, February 13, 2021 at 20:15:16 (EST)

2021-01-13 - Skunk

~3.4 mi @ ~20.5 min/mi

"Princess Alice was deaf and could lip-read in four languages!" says Danger Man, describing byways of British royal family history, springboarding off the TV series "The Crown". Roadkill demands adventure and leads a trek around the extended neighborhood. Orion rises to dominate the eastern sky; an airplane cruises across his Belt. "Is that a skunk we're smelling? Or is it me?"


- Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 07:04:46 (EST)

2021-01-11 - Unicorn

~3.4 mi @ ~21.3 min/mi

"This only cancels out half a slice of pizza!" Roadkill wishes it were magically possible to burn more calories as he rambles with Danger Man on Monday evening. Earlier he planted Sochi tea and Lingonberry bushes, good down to sub-zero temperatures. The owners of an awesomely lit front yard graciously accept praise for their glowing unicorn 🦄 and other decorations. A crèche stands near General Getty Park.


- Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 06:14:04 (EST)

Ode to Cold

As temps plunge to single digits
    Winter makes extremities
And other fragile body widgets
    Subject to calamities

Muscles weaken, joints grow rigid
    Cheeks turn scarlet, toenails blue
Feet are frosty, fingers frigid
    Hands take on a zombie hue

Stalactite ice hangs from mustaches
    When after a chilly ride
Snowy fronds extend eyelashes –
    Now it's time to go inside!

- Tuesday, February 09, 2021 at 05:37:38 (EST)

2021-01-10 - Heritage and Beyond

~6.2 mi @ ~21.6 min/mi

"History looks small in the rear-view mirror!" At Sunday sunrise Square Peg and Roadkill amble mindfully downstream on the C&O Canal Towpath, musing about recent events and how they compare with those of the past. Antique machinery stands unused by a lock just inside the Beltway. Nice ice rimes the puddles. Doc Bob, Danger Man, and Half Full arrive at Carderock and the group proceeds upstream and back. Sunbeams glitter on the Potomac. The GPS inexplicably omits the first few miles.C-and-O Canal milepost 11 with Santa hat


- Monday, February 08, 2021 at 05:38:30 (EST)

2021-01-09 - Lawn Angels

~2.3 mi @ ~17 min/mi

"You take the short way, I'll take the long way!" Danger Man tells Roadkill. They loop along neighborhood streets near Sligo Creek, one mostly running, the other mostly walking. On Saturday afternoon a small quartet of lawn angels play musical instruments on Julep Street.


- Sunday, February 07, 2021 at 06:00:28 (EST)

2021-01-09 - Moravian Stars

~8.1 mi @ ~20 min/mi

"Maybe we should run now!?" says Roadkill, as speedy cars loom on Connecticut Avenue. Saturday sunrise Square Peg and he start by returning books at the Chevy Chase Public Library. Mud is frozen in ruts on the cut-through by Coquelin Run, a tributary of Rock Creek. Mansions grace hilly Farmington Drive. Some are garish-rectangular gray-and-white blockhouses, but others display well-integrated classic architecture. Cars threaten walkers on the narrow shoulder of East-West Highway where sidewalks are lacking. We meet Coney Counter, who discusses the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling, points out vast numbers of Adirondacks (brightly-painted wooden lawn chairs) arrayed in front yard pairs, and outlines the history of Moravian Stars. Danger Man and Half Full join at mile ~5 and continue on for more mileage. The GPS trackfile omits the first half of the walkabout.


- Sunday, February 07, 2021 at 05:50:20 (EST)

Remember the, Uh

Remember the AlamoWhat was that again? Something to keep track of? A recollection of, hmmmm, ...? Never forget? Could you remind me, please? A hint?

(cf Longhorn near Schulenberg (2015-06-05), ...)

- Saturday, February 06, 2021 at 06:12:51 (EST)

2021-01-07 - Peace

~4.0 mi @ ~19.6 min/mi

"Peace!" advises the chalk inscription by the bench on Sligo Creek Trail. (Past admonitions include "Gratitude" and "Hope".) On Thursday evening Roadkill and Danger Man banter as they meander in the gloom. Dogs bark, eyes a-glitter in headlamp glow. Hello Kitty greets passers-by in a residential front window display-array.


- Friday, February 05, 2021 at 07:37:47 (EST)

2021-01-04 - Muddy Cut-Through

~2.5 mi @ ~21.9 min/mi

"Roadkill never said that before!" Danger Man disbelieves his ears when he hears the words, "That cut-through looks too muddy – let's turn back!" On a damp Monday evening after DM's marathon the duo stretches legs via a late survey of local Xmas decorations. Glowing globes high in a tree look like radioactive hornet nests. One front yard remains rich in animated light-show effects.


- Thursday, February 04, 2021 at 05:30:44 (EST)

Comfort and Agency

Two key dimensions that perhaps explain why some people are particularly vulnerable to conspiracy-theory irrationality, hinted at by a recent New York Times article by Sabrina Tavernise about "One Woman's Journey Out of QAnon". A central paragraph:

The theories seem crazy to Ms. Perron now, but looking back, she understands how they drew her in. They were comforting, a way to get her bearings in a chaotic world that felt increasingly unequal and rigged against middle-class people like her. These stories offered agency: Evil cabals could be defeated. A diffuse sense that things were out of her control could not.

That is:

(cf Stupidity and Conspiracy (2001-02-05), Absence of Evidence (2003-03-17), Honest Voting Machines (2006-09-19), Reasonists (2009-09-09), Consparancy and Transpiracy (2010-08-06), Conspiracy Theory Recognition (2011-02-02), Pearl Harbor - Barriers to Warning (2017-12-12), ...)

- Wednesday, February 03, 2021 at 05:41:20 (EST)

2021-01-03 - Barry's Dopey

~3.6 mi @ ~15.8 min/mi and ~2.4 mi @ ~15.3 min/mi

"Bacon!" Danger Man's solo Dopey Challenge marathon begins as rain pauses on Sunday morning. Roadkill arrives to take photos at mile ~6 and donates a few slices of salty greasy wonder-food, aka bacon. By the time the duo meets again, half a mile up the trail, it's all gone! Maybe fry more for the next race?

"A 50 minute 5k!" Without a trekking pole, Roadkill walks and quasi-runs in 30-second intervals, thankfully without major knee pain. He joins Danger Man along Sligo Creek Trail and in Wheaton Regional Park, capturing video and enjoying the wet woods.

"Look behind you!" A few hours later, at Danger Man's race mile ~20, Roadkill returns and gives chase for half an hour before finally catching up. Again, minimal knee pain with no cane during 30 second slow-jog intervals is a happy sign of healing since the November 2019 femur fracture.

(trackfile and trackfile)

- Tuesday, February 02, 2021 at 05:35:59 (EST)

2021-01-02 - Data to Decisions via Causality and Chance

~7.8 mi @ ~20.6 min/mi

"We Rise by Lifting Others!" On a mural in Kensington monarch butterflies take wing to symbolize "... the power that a community has to help its members soar". Square Peg and Roadkill begin the Saturday sunrise trek sipping coffee and dreaming of a graphical language to help people think better: diagrams to connect data to decisions via causality and chance – "evidence-based model-driven decision advantage". After a few miles they loop back to meet Coney Counter for an easterly ramble.

"Why not be polite and build professional relationships for the long term?" someone asks. And, "Isn't it sad to look up words like 'narcissist' and 'sociopath' on the Internet, only to see you've already visited most of the links?" Danger Man appears, doing his Disney Dopey Challenge half marathon, and soon Half Full joins the gang. The Apple Watch omits the first few miles from the route map. Roadkill does almost the entire distance carrying his trekking pole under one arm, and the old knee seems no worse for it. Yay!


- Monday, February 01, 2021 at 05:35:43 (EST)

2021-01-01 - Throw Away the Cane

~3.1 mi @ ~19.2 min/mi

"Where's my stick?" Sri Roadkill forgets his trekking pole at home – maybe it's less essential than he thought? G-ji leads an amble along the Bethesda Trolley Trail on a brisk New Year's Day morn. A recently-built condo complex near Fleming Park features seasonal wreaths and a front door bearing musical motifs. Lawn art includes a stone dog and manic squirrels. Shrimati G explains Hindi/Bengali honorifics.


- Sunday, January 31, 2021 at 05:15:06 (EST)

Late on the Sixth Day

Late on the Sixth Day new ideas
        for creatures ran a little dry,
and when someone said "Panda Ants"
        the First's reaction was, "Let's try!"
Soon fuzzy myrmidons of black
        and white began to crawl the floor.
"That's Good!" said the All-Mother, and
        with that she opened wide the door
to Orca Hawks and Penguin Pigs,
        Scorpion Hamsters, Aardvark Frogs,
Koala Cobras, Beetle Squirrels,
        wee Titmouse Mice, huge Slime Mold Dogs.

But after crafting countless more
        chimeras, Nature had to ask
what was the point of portmanteaus?
        And so she set herself the task
to make a hybrid with contrasts
        impossible to supersede,
a combination so outré
        that when she finished with the deed,
She disbelieved that there could be
        a single species with a span
so disparate. Yet there they stood,
        ... Woman ... and ... Man.

- Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 05:47:48 (EST)

2020-12-31 - Bumble

~1.7 mi @ ~23.4 min/mi

"That's Bumble, the Abominable Snowman, from 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'!" Danger Man identifies the masked blue-faced creature wearing a Santa cap in a neighborhood front yard. Candy canes and inflated reindeer dominate other displays. Roadkill is on the clock with Thursday evening dinner cooking on the stove.


- Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 05:45:44 (EST)

2020-12-30 - Say Her Name

~3.6 mi @ ~21.0 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Say-Her-Name_flags_Silver-Spring_2020-12-30.jpg"Say Her Name!" pennants along the median of Columbia Blvd remind, as they hang like prayer flags on strings between the trees. On the eve of New Year's Eve's sunrise brings scarlet skies. Tassie and Roadkill meander past an old cemetery and pause in front of a friend's new home. They find a hilly cut-through in the woods by Sligo Creek just inside the Capital Beltway. Mindful conversation includes wildly obscene mnemonics (the best kind are unmentionable and unforgettable!) as well as thoughts on self-care and loving-kindness.


- Friday, January 29, 2021 at 06:50:27 (EST)

2020-12-29 - Gas Giants

~2.5 mi @ ~30 min/mi

"Saturn at 5 o'clock to Jupiter!" Danger Man peers through binoculars at the largest gas giants of the Solar System as Tuesday evening deer nibble the grass. Roadkill leads the duo into a thorny cut-through at the Sligo Middle School soccer fields.


- Friday, January 29, 2021 at 06:41:29 (EST)

Humility, Learning, and Respect

Wise thoughts from "Day One Message to the Force" by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, 22 Jan 2021:

... None of us succeeds at this business alone. Defending the country requires teamwork and cooperation. It requires a certain humility, a willingness to learn, and absolute respect for one another. I know you share my devotion to these qualities. ...

... and the leader of the US Department of Defense concludes the memorandum, "I am proud to be back on your team."

(cf Bluffing vs Humility (1999-04-22), Liberal Education (2005-11-02), Eric Clifton on the Fellowship of Ultrarunning (2008-03-17), Franklin's Virtues (2008-05-23), Christensen on Humility (2010-09-03), Humility, Physics, and Philosophy (2011-11-13), Hanson on Humility (2013-03-28), Good Manners and Taiji (2014-04-03), Mantra - Love, Simplicity, Humility (2016-03-29), What Moderates Believe (2017-08-26), Christmas Strength and Weakness (2020-01-03), ...)

- Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 06:49:31 (EST)

2020-12-28 - Garrett Park Winners

~4.6 mi @ ~20.8 min/mi

"Yes, they're nutcrackers!" the passing cyclist says to Danger Man, Half Full, and Roadkill, rambling on a Monday afternoon. The late survey of holiday season lawn art discovers, via a new cut-through, prizewinning ginger bread men and candy canes in Garrett Park.


- Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 05:51:14 (EST)

2020-12-27 - Lanark Way

~3.0 mi @ ~21.5 min/mi

"Where does that snaky sidewalk go?" Roadkill rediscovers a winding new cut-through path connecting segments of Lanark Way; Danger Man found it from the opposite side scant hours earlier. A frigid fairy holds a tiny bowl and stands atop an island in a frozen birdbath.http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/frozen-fairy-birdbath_Silver-Spring_2020-12-27.jpg


- Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 06:34:06 (EST)

Comfy Jeans

Comfy jeans, faded and soft
Not tight, not a threat
Neither prelude nor lure
Pure pants, cozy and close
A friendly hug

(thanks to 🐭 for encouragement and inspiration!)

- Monday, January 25, 2021 at 07:51:24 (EST)

2020-12-26 - Flying Dogs

~5 mi @ ~23 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/flying-dogs_greentree-Bethesda-MD_2020-12-26a.jpg"Flying dogs!" Happy pups dash across the frosty ground as their owner jogs behind. Puppylike Roadkill predictably requests "Adventure!" and with Court Jester, Slow Twitch, and Square Peg rambles from the Woods Academy along Greentree Rd to circumnavigate the big field where, only 4 months ago, radio transmitter towers stretched skyward.
The towers are gone, and soon this will all be a housing development (cf 2020-08-09_-_Tall_Towers). The quartet ambles mindfully, with cut-throughs and conversation, for about 5 miles; GPS omits the first segment. Happy Boxing Day!http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/flying-dogs_greentree-Bethesda-MD_2020-12-26b.jpg


- Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 07:11:34 (EST)

2020-12-22 - Julep Cut-through

~3.2 mi @ ~26.3 min/mi

"Your 'uncanny' sense of direction is what worries me!" says Danger Man, as Roadkill directs a Tuesday evening ramble. "You never believe a NO OUTLET sign!" A new cut-through from Julep Avenue leads to the big ballfields behind Sligo Middle School. As the sun sets, faint Saturn and giant Jupiter glitter in the southwest sky. Tiny painted pumpkins and patriotic political posters join Xmas lights and front-lawn Santas.


- Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 06:31:04 (EST)

2020-12-21 - Conjunction Junction

~2.4 mi @ ~26.5 min/mi

"No, Ma'am, it's not an eclipse, it's a conjunction!" says Roadkill to the lady in the parked car. "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?" Danger Man quotes Sesame Street. Jupiter and Saturn play peek-a-boo with thick clouds, allowing sporadic glimpses of their close encounter. Roadkill recalls his Xmas 2012 love poem "Conjunctions".


- Friday, January 22, 2021 at 07:22:09 (EST)

Chance, Cause, Clash

The three dimensions of Thinking Better, in a nutshell, are understanding:

That is:

(cf Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Think Better - Three Keys (2019-06-05), More Meta (2019-08-31), Clearly, Dearly, Nearly (2020-02-05), May I (2020-03-22), ...)

- Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 07:26:11 (EST)

2020-12-20 - Stables Sunrise

8.0 mi @ ~21.2 min/mi

"You probably don't have AIDS in your heel!" Doc Bob offers a cautious diagnosis of Danger Man's painful foot. Square Peg and Roadkill do a mindful Sunday sunrise saunter around the neighborhoods near Rock Creek and East-West Highway, sipping coffee and pausing to wish the horses "Good Morning!" at the stables. Then Coney Counter, DB, and DM arrive for another ramble. The ice has mostly melted from last week but pedestrian bridges remain treacherous.


- Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 06:19:34 (EST)

2020-12-19 - Starbucks Santa

~8.0 mi @ ~21.2 min/mi

"That way looks dangerous. You go first!" says Roadkill to Square Peg, as the duo explore a potential creek crossing early Saturday morning. They follow a deer track but the water is wide and icy banks are steep. Instead, a slightly sketchy cut-through via an apartment complex gets them to Connecticut Ave and back in time to meet Half Full and Danger Man for a safer ramble southward.

"Their bullets might hit Santa Claus!" Childhood worries resurface, from when a nine-year-old witnesses police, guns drawn, close in on a convenience store robber taking refuge in a barn. Fortunately no shots were fired!
Rock Creek Trail near KenGar


- Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 06:16:57 (EST)

2020-12-15 - Zivaara

~4.7 mi @ ~17.4 min/mi

"Radiation, Convection, Conduction!" Heat loss mechanisms make ice crystals linger on the surface of shaded ponds near Rock Creek after a cool clear windy night. Roadkill speed-hikes to Zivaara, local chocolatier. The big box of candies makes for an upper body workout during the final mile home, trading it and trading trekking poles back and forth between arms. "I would give up Chocolate, but I'm no quitter!" reads a sign in the shop.


- Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 06:05:16 (EST)

Foreign Policy Predictions

Daniel Drezner in his recent essay "Wonks Gone Wild" (Foreign Policy magazine online, 15 Jan 2021) writes:

A review of the worst predictions and most useful ideas of the past half-century reveals a few lessons for the readers of Foreign Policy. The first is that foreign-policy observers are a pessimistic lot. We are awash with doomsaying that has proved no more accurate than a cult member holding a sign declaring "The end is nigh" on the street corner. The second is that when examining trends within countries, the primary source of bad predictions is the fallacy of extrapolation: the belief that the future will be just like the present, only more so. The third is that the most useful ideas are not rooted in grand strategy or doctrine. Sometimes grand narratives get the big things right, but just as often they create cognitive blinders that make it difficult to recognize error. By contrast, small-bore ideas–grounded in concrete, specific, well-defined problems–have made the most tangible contributions to international affairs.

Drezner appropriately quotes Phil Tetlock:

Fifteen years ago, in his book Expert Political Judgment, the political scientist Philip Tetlock warned about the poor predictive ability of most political experts. The discipline's short-term predictive abilities are lackluster. Worse, the public tends to pay attention to the out-of-the-box prediction that proves correct. The problem is that these kinds of predictions also tend to be wrong more frequently. Tetlock later wrote that these conditions would create a ripe environment for charlatans: "The demand for accurate predictions is insatiable. Reliable suppliers are few and far between. And this gap between demand and supply creates opportunities for unscrupulous suppliers to fill the void by gulling desperate customers into thinking they are getting something no one else knows how to provide."

And as Drezner concludes, with self-referential humor:

The takeaway from all this is clear: To stand out, future foreign-policy observers will become less pessimistic and more concrete. Of course, I am making a prediction here. The odds are excellent that I am wrong.

(cf Expert Political Judgment (2010-05-13), Characteristics of Superforecasters (2015-11-21), Superforecasting (2016-02-21), ...)

- Monday, January 18, 2021 at 05:48:02 (EST)

2020-12-13 - Rugelach

~5.2 mi @ ~20.5 min/mi

"Rugelach require you to be in the mood – chocolate chip cookies are great ANY time!" Half Full analyzes traditional holiday fare with Danger Man and Roadkill during a Sunday morning ramble along Sligo Creek Parkway. Front-yard Santas proliferate.


- Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 05:55:18 (EST)

2020-12-12 - Woods Academy

~3.7 mi @ ~21.8 min/mi

mosaic at Woods Academy in Bethesda MD"Look closely and you can find LOVE, FAITH, ART, and other good words!" Square Peg spies a mosaic on the Woods Academy; it features an owl and much wisdom. A big mansion has yippy little dogs and musician statues with, um, geometric chest decorations. During a small stream crossing Roadkill slips, sits down abruptly, and thanks to kind Peg's quick-reflex hand of stability doesn't spill his coffee. Yay!


- Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 06:02:26 (EST)

2020-12-11 - Donut King

~2.0 mi @ ~24 min/mi

"Donut King is where I get my hair cut!" says Danger Man, who adds, "Well, quite near it, that is." As usual, for the Friday night walkabout Roadkill requests "Adventure!" so the twins meander by streetlamp and headlamp across Sligo Creek to survey a new neighborhood's lights. "Happy Chanukah" says an inflated menorah. A wire-frame angel invites visitors up a candy cane sidewalk to a manger-crèche.


- Friday, January 15, 2021 at 07:19:30 (EST)


A wise thought in Nicholas Kristof's New York Times op-ed column a week ago:

Patriotism is not about words. It is not about waving flags or singing "America the Beautiful." It is about struggling, imperfectly and inadequately, to make this country we love a better one.

... and a few centuries ago, Edward Gibbon in Chapter 1 of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

That public virtue which among the ancients was denominated patriotism, is derived from a strong sense of our own interest in the preservation and prosperity of the free government of which we are members. Such a sentiment, which had rendered the legions of the republic almost invincible, could make but a very feeble impression on the mercenary servants of a despotic prince; and it became necessary to supply that defect by other motives, of a different, but not less forcible nature; honour and religion.

(cf Simultaneous Chess Matches (2004-03-15), ...)

- Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 07:01:49 (EST)

2020-12-10 - No Outlet

~4.5 mi @ ~19.0 min/mi

"No Outlet? No way!" Roadkill disbelieves signs that claim Harmon Rd is a dead end, and soon discovers a short scramble through some brush leads to Patternbond Terrace and Pennydog Lane. Earlier he spies a walker taking a narrow path between two houses and finds another new cut-through, between Brunswick Ave and Insley St.


- Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 06:22:06 (EST)

2020-12-09 - Gratitude

~5.0 mi @ ~20.0 min/mi

"Gratitude!" says cursive chalk by a bench on Sligo Creek Trail. Headlamp glow reveals the encouraging word – last week here the unknown calligraphic artist counseled "Hope". Roadkill rambles past inflated Santas to meet Danger Man for part of the journey.http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/gratitude_sligo-creek-trail-bench_2020-12-09.jpg


- Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 06:38:03 (EST)

2020-12-08 - No Temple Show

~3.5 mi @ ~25 min/mi

"So where are the lights?" Danger Man is disappointed. Roadkill is embarrassed to find the LDS Temple display seen the previous week must have been just a test. The official Xmas drive-through with crèche doesn't begin until Friday the 11th. Bummer!


- Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 06:30:05 (EST)

2020-12-07 - Tail Lights at Merriweather Post

~1.1 mi @ ~36 min/mi

"Betzee, meet Guiness!" Monday is "Tail Lights" night for dogs to walk through the holiday display of decorations at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Slow Twitch invites Roadkill, Charlene, and Todd. Arf!


- Monday, January 11, 2021 at 06:08:49 (EST)

Just for Today

On New Year's Day in recent years the "Dear Abby" newspaper advice column says "I will share Dear Abby's often-requested list of New Year's Resolutions which were adapted by my late mother, Pauline Phillips, from the original credo of Al-Anon". They are:

... echoes of the classic Optimist Creed!

- Saturday, January 09, 2021 at 06:18:51 (EST)

2020-12-06 - Rock Creek Park Primrose Trail

~7.6 mi @ ~22.9 min/mi

"Tree down on Wise Road!" reports Danger Man. The Galactic Patrol (Terran Regiment #1) proceeds to investigate. On the way they discover a steep yellow-blazed path through the woods from Grubb/Primrose Rd to the Rock Creek Park's Valley Trail. Coney Counter, Square Peg, and Half Full navigate. Roadkill shares news of chafing in an unmentionable zone; Danger Man counters with incipient holes in his lower garments. Before others arrive, Peg & Road loop about Chevy Chase, philosophizing and helping each other be more mindful.


- Friday, January 08, 2021 at 06:45:17 (EST)

2020-12-05 - Sourdough Encounter

~8.6 mi @ ~23.0 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Bethesda_mural_z_2020-12-05.jpg"Now this is unpleasant!" says Doc Bob. He claims to refer to Sligo Creek Parkway being open to traffic, not to the arrival of Peg and Roadkill. They start early and enjoy a mindful sunrise trek, counseling each other on nonattachment, empathy, and kindness – including toward one's self. A cute dog wears a Santa coat for warmth; tromp l'oiel murals tempt the viewer to step in.

"We're all brave until we realize the cockroach has wings", "Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else", "Don't tread on my lady parts", and "I get enough exercise just pushing my luck", advise stickers on a parked car. Half Full and Danger Man arrive, and the gang of 5 sets out for further adventure. Surprise: Peg's dear college friend Sourdough appears! She leads us via a muddy cut-through to her neighborhood, and we work to lure her onto the slippery slope toward her first marathon. Snake gourds guard a front porch.


- Wednesday, January 06, 2021 at 06:23:09 (EST)

It Always Happens

"What We Get Wrong About America's Crisis of Democracy" by Adam Gopnik is subtitled "The interesting question is not what causes authoritarianism but what has ever suspended it." Gopnik's short essay in the New Yorker turns the issue around, and points out that the normal state of things is what we see as today's catastrophe.

It always happens. That's Gopnik's refrain, quoting a line in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass. It always happens. Gopnik writes:

... Lurking behind all of this is a faulty premise–that the descent into authoritarianism is what needs to be explained, when the reality is that ... it always happens. The default condition of humankind is not to thrive in broadly egalitarian and stable democratic arrangements that get unsettled only when something happens to unsettle them. The default condition of humankind, traced across thousands of years of history, is some sort of autocracy. ...


... The interesting question is not what causes autocracy (not to mention the conspiratorial thinking that feeds it) but what has ever suspended it. We constantly create post-hoc explanations for the ascent of the irrational. The Weimar inflation caused the rise of Hitler, we say; the impoverishment of Tsarism caused the Bolshevik Revolution. In fact, the inflation was over in Germany long before Hitler rose, and Lenin came to power not in anything that resembled a revolution–which had happened already under the leadership of far more pluralistic politicians–but in a coup d'état by a militant minority. Force of personality, opportunity, sheer accident: these were much more decisive than some neat formula of suffering in, autocracy out. ..."

and he concludes:

The way to shore up American democracy is to shore up American democracy–that is, to strengthen liberal institutions, in ways that are unglamorously specific and discouragingly minute. The task here is not so much to peer into our souls as to reduce the enormous democratic deficits under which the country labors, most notably an electoral landscape in which farmland tilts to power while city blocks are flattened. This means remedying manipulative redistricting while reforming the Electoral College and the Senate. Some of these things won't be achievable, but all are worth pursuing–with the knowledge that, even if every box on our wonkish wish list were checked, no set-it-and-forget-it solution to democratic fragility would stand revealed. The only way to stave off another [failure] is to recognize that it always happens. The temptation of anti-democratic cult politics is forever with us, and so is the work of fending it off.

The rule of law, the protection of rights, and the procedures of civil governance are not fixed foundations, shaken by events, but practices and habits, constantly threatened, frequently renewable. "A republic if you can keep it," Benjamin Franklin said. Keeping a republic is a matter not of preserving it like pickles but of working it like dough–which sounds like something you'd serve alongside very weak tea. But it is the essential diet to feed our democracy if we are to make what always happens, for a little while longer, happily unhappen.

... and – generalizing – the same holds for the current crisis in public health, and even more broadly the current crisis in deeply caring for one another. Loving-kindness is the exception. Acceptance is the exception. Selfishness and separation are so seductive, so nearly inevitable. It always happens.

(cf Why So Bad (2002-10-20), Authorized vs Forbidden (2005-07-03), Viewpoint Convergence (2012-07-24), ...)

- Tuesday, January 05, 2021 at 07:41:58 (EST)

2020-12-04 - Mormon Temple Christmas Lights

~3.3 mi @ ~18.8 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Mormon-Temple_xmas-lights_2020-12-04.jpgFriday evening: Roadkill scrambles across a ravine and up a steep hillside to avoid rush-hour on narrow neighborhood streets. Passing cars pause at a glimpse of his bright pink shirt. Mormon Temple Xmas lights are awesome in a preview before the official drive-through event begins.


- Monday, January 04, 2021 at 07:07:53 (EST)

2020-12-03 - Hope

~3.8 mi @ ~17.5 min/mi

"Hope", reminds the chalk script on Sligo Creek Trail, illuminated by headlamp glow. Roadkill pauses in gratitude during a brisk Thursday evening walkabout.http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Hope_headlamp-glow_chalk_Sligo-Creek-Trail_z_2020-12-03.jpg


- Monday, January 04, 2021 at 07:03:11 (EST)

2020-12-01 - Hat in the Road

~4.4 mi @ ~21.2 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/z_winter_trek_shorts_gloves_hat_mask_2020-12-01.jpg"The tire tread marks go with your Trail Name!" says Danger Man to Roadkill, who recovers his old white cap after a wind gust blows it into heavy traffic and it gets repeatedly run over. Early Xmas lights add drama to an evening trek with woodsy cut-throughs.


- Sunday, January 03, 2021 at 05:50:51 (EST)

2020-11-29 - Bless the Barista

~3.2 mi @ ~21 min/mi

"Decisive, not hasty!" and "Elite, never arrogant!" Square Peg and Roadkill muse about personality characteristics for leadership and growth. A slightly sketchy cut-through takes them over a chain and through prickly bushes between business parking lot and dead-end residential street. On a frosty morning the kind Starbucks barista orders them out for a quick walkabout while she fixes fresh hot coffee; they sit on the curb for a minute to figure out how to add a retrospective tip on the app. Peg's butterfly wings unfold in a Bethesda alley as she prepares to take flight.


- Saturday, January 02, 2021 at 21:32:24 (EST)

2020-11-28 - Sandworm Facts of Life

~9.2 mi @ ~21.3 min/mi

"But how do giant sandworms mate?" Danger Man and Roadkill ponder biology, recalling Dune, Tremors, Beetlejuice, and The Mandalorian. With Square Peg and Half Full they loop down Rock Creek and return via the Bethesda Trolley Trail and Garrett Park. Earlier Roadkill gets lost and leads Peg on an accidental tour of North Kensington. The Apple Watch map omits the first 1.7 miles of the trackfile. On Beach Dr comrade Vixen shouts "Hi Roadkill!" as she dashes past.


- Saturday, January 02, 2021 at 21:29:32 (EST)

Life Lessons from an Ad Man

Poetry is
when you make
new things familiar
and familiar things new.

... and ...

We are perishing
for want of wonder,
not for want of wonders.

... from the conclusion of "Life Lessons from an Ad Man", a TED talk by Rory Sutherland on the value of intangibles:

Two quotations to more or less end with. One of them is, "Poetry is when you make new things familiar and familiar things new." Which isn't a bad definition of what our job is, to help people appreciate what is unfamiliar, but also to gain a greater appreciation, and place a far higher value on those things which are already existing. There is some evidence, by the way, that things like social networking help do that. Because they help people share news. They give badge value to everyday little trivial activities. So they actually reduce the need for actually spending great money on display, and increase the kind of third-party enjoyment you can get from the smallest, simplest things in life. Which is magic.

The second one is the second G.K. Chesterton quote of this session, which is, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders," which I think for anybody involved in technology, is perfectly true. And a final thing: When you place a value on things like health, love, sex and other things, and learn to place a material value on what you've previously discounted for being merely intangible, a thing not seen, you realize you're much, much wealthier than you ever imagined. Thank you very much indeed.

(cf Birdless Silence (2004-06-05), Uproarious Amateurishness (2004-07-12), Rhythm Method (2006-02-24), Seeking Negative Space (2016-04-21), New Ideas (2016-10-18), All the Light We Cannot See (2017-06-09), ...)

- Friday, January 01, 2021 at 06:26:42 (EST)

2020-11-27 - On the Edge

~4.0 mi @ ~18.4 min/mi

"Maryland" and "Jurisdiction of the United States" say letters cut into the sandstone post, installed in 1792 to mark the northernmost corner of the District of Columbia. Roadkill jaywalks across East-West Hwy to visit the historic survey point late Friday during a brisk walkabout. He finds himself trapped on busy 16th St with no sidewalk, and has to scramble along the overgrown edge of a road barrier atop a steep hill. Thank goodness for a trekking pole!


- Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 07:20:08 (EST)

2020-11-26 - Thanksgiving Run

~3.5 mi @ ~17.6 min/mi

🌷🌷 "Softer than ... uh,something that's so soft I can't mention it!" Roadkill gives thanks and blushes to remember the resilience of the new track at Blair High School. He runs a lap (2:40), for the first time in more than a year, and then after a walk break runs another (2:30) paced by Danger Man. And the knee doesn't hurt (much). Yow! Heart rate is up near the Death Zone (170) due to poor fitness. A cooldown walkabout finds mosaics on the school wall, plus graffiti and lovely-artistic political posters. 🌷🌷


- Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at 06:06:06 (EST)

Humane Conservatism

From E J Dionne Jr's column in the 6 Dec Washington Post [1], quoting English political philosopher Michael Oakeshott:

... To be conservative [is] to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to Utopian bliss. ...

... and there's much to be said for all of those choices, sometimes ...

(cf Traditarians vs Libertitionists (2000-08-03), Roots of Morality (2009-04-03), Righteous Mind (2020-07-12), ...)

- Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at 06:05:14 (EST)

2020-11-25 - Thunderclap

~3.8 mi @ ~20.2 min/mi

"Lewis & Clark carried 'Thunder Clapper' pills from Dr Benjamin Rush, and somebody may have died from them!" Danger Man continues the history lesson as he finishes a run and then rambles with Roadkill. Passers by wish Happy Thanksgiving to one another.


- Monday, December 28, 2020 at 06:09:10 (EST)

2020-11-24 - Onionskin Paper

~2.6 mi @ ~23 min/mi

"Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were co-leaders," explains Danger Man, as the twins do a Tuesday evening survey of holiday lights in the 'hood. Roadkill wonders how they took so many notes during the expedition's three-year journey. "Lucky they didn't use clay tablets to record their observations!" he opines.


- Monday, December 28, 2020 at 06:06:07 (EST)

2020-11-23 - Sending Out an SOS

~3.6 mi @ ~23 min/mi

"If anybody near me gets hurt, I just throw myself to the ground and the Apple Watch automatically calls for help!" Danger Man assures Roadkill during their Monday night meander. Xmas lights shine bright in front yards; an inflated Thanksgiving turkey smiles.


- Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 06:51:23 (EST)

2020-11-22 - Jump the Tree

~2.2 mi @ ~23 min/mi

"When I was younger I would have leapt it!" Danger Man and Roadkill clamber over a fallen tree on a trail through the woods. On a gray Sunday morning they follow a tributary of Sligo Creek parallel to Dublin and Dameron Drives. Yesterday's Richmond Half Marathon provides good anecdotes. The parkway is closed to cars and features encouraging chalk slogans for a girls race.


- Saturday, December 26, 2020 at 05:33:40 (EST)

T-V Distinction

Language is fun, human society is fun, and when they are combined in a tradition so common as to be almost invisible, like air, that's even more fun! Hence the "T-V Distinction" – special-familiar tu versus normal-formal vos. In times past thou and similar tu-words in other languages, according to linguist David Crystal, could be used:

In contrast, you and other vous-words would be said to one's superiors or among the sophisticated. Nowadays, in most languages, social gradations are faded and disapproved. But among family and friends, tu-ing is still something sweet to show connection!

(cf The Classicist (2004-09-09), Smell of Good Prose (2006-07-03), Babel-17 (2015-10-20), Language, Science, Art (2018-05-24), ...)

- Friday, December 25, 2020 at 06:09:46 (EST)

2020-11-21 - Head, Heart, Hands, Health

~9.3 mi @ ~21 min/mi

"Head, Heart, Hands, and Health!" Square Peg and Roadkill score 50% in remembering the 4-H Club motto as they do a sunrise walkabout in the national headquarters grounds. It's great to have organizations that help youth learn to be better people. ("I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.") Good goals for grown-ups too!

Stone Mill 50 Miler race director Barry Hauptman greets us as he runs by. Back in Bethesda we rendezvous with Doc Bob, Half Full, and Coney Counter for a walk along Little Falls Parkway. Philosophical questions range across cosmology, investment strategy, the Mind-Body problem, and whether the world should be arranged to be satisfying for its occupants. Peg's kind college friend waves and offers us water as we pass her home. An ambulance from the Bethesda Fire Department arrives to aid a runner who tripped and fell on his shoulder. The GPS map misses the first 1.8 miles of the trek.


- Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at 06:27:54 (EST)

2020-11-19 - Grace Church

~3.2 mi @ ~24 min/mi

"Since it was built on Grace Church Road, they decided to name it Grace Church!" Roadkill's logic seems persuasive to Danger Man, as the twins take a Thursday evening trek past the tiny cemetery and around the neighborhood. The church dates from the mid-1800s and includes a grave of 17 unknown Confederate solidiers who died in the nearby battle of Ft Stevens.


- Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 06:21:30 (EST)

2020-11-18 - Lincoln Park

~2.4 mi @ ~19.3 min/mi

"Unity Bridge", says a plaque on the pedestrian span behind the car wash and strip mall. Roadkill explores on Wednesday evening and finds Lincoln Park, a Rockville historic district literally on "the other side of the tracks". It features cut-throughs, cute classic homes, and Lincoln High School, the only secondary school for Black children in the entire county from the 1930s into the 1960s. Near Pint Isreal Park is a 1997 "Memory Walk" with iconic images: Vigilance, Hope, Peace, Wisdom, and more.


- Monday, December 21, 2020 at 06:12:31 (EST)

2020-11-17 - Grateful

~5.7 mi @ ~17.8 min/mi

"So glad we met at Eliot and Cathy's party - 45 years ago!" On a Tuesday night walkabout Roadkill feels gratitude for the event that brought Paulette and him together. Gusty north winds slice as temps drop into the lower 40s. Early Xmas lights are dramatic at a North Chevy Chase home on Connecticut Ave. Purple Line construction work mandates detours on the way home.


- Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 05:44:57 (EST)

Sol LeWitt Advice

Artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) in 1965 wrote a letter to artist Eva Hesse focusing on creating – letting go, accepting whatever happens, hitting the "pause" button on the inner critic. The simple word DO appears frequently in LeWitt's handwritten note. His letter is full of naughty words and typographical errors; a full transcript is in Comments on Sol LeWitt Advice. Busy Executive Summary:

... echoes of Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet", and Keith Johnstone's "Impro"!

(cf [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], and Not Easy (2001-03-31), Live the Questions Now (2015-04-02), Rilke on Being Human (2015-04-22), ...)

- Friday, December 18, 2020 at 06:38:35 (EST)

2020-11-16 - Symbolic Logic

~5.5 mi @ ~18.6 min/mi

"Honk IFF You Love Symbolic Logic!" says the bumper sticker on a car with license plate "MATHGRL". Flamingos form a skull-heart on another decal, joining political slogans and ads for local businesses. On Monday night Roadkill spies the well-decorated vehicle while exploring a new cut-through at a Wheaton condo complex. Early Xmas lights glow. A UFO flies above a home near the neighborhood cemetery. The Apple Watch GPS records full distance but the map omits the first 1.6 miles.


- Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 06:43:31 (EST)

2020-11-15 - On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

~7.6 mi @ ~22 min/mi

"They stayed up all night reading the new translation, and the next morning Keats wrote a sonnet about it!" Roadkill tells Square Peg the story of "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer". Dawn Patrol ambles through Garrett Park and finds a friendly cat, a new cut-through, and deer breakfasting. Then with Danger Man and Half Full a meandering route through Chevy Chase View reveals large numbers of front-porch wrinkly-dog sculptures. A secret Shar Pei admiration society? A too-successful community fund-raiser? Crabby and Mr Bill emerge to wave from their front porch. Out-of-season forsythia blooms and golden ginkgo leaves swirl down to decorate swanky sidewalks. With cherry blossoms appearing in November will the traditional spring run be held this season instead?


- Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 07:47:16 (EST)

2020-11-14 - Artemesia LaNedra

~1.8 mi @ ~24 min/mi

"Me and Julio down by the schoolyard!" sing two guitar players. A great blue heron stalks its prey, neck S-shaped, as Nini and Pokey circle Lake Artemesia on Saturday afternoon. Cyclists pedal and families push prams. A setting sun glints off the water; a Siberian Husky puppy rolls on its back and blinks blue eyes at strangers.


- Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 06:15:04 (EST)

2020-11-14 - Towpath Reunion

~3.5 mi @ ~22 min/mi

"Red-winged blackbirds and bald eagles!" Dr Coney-Counter & Roadkill tutor each other on bird identification during a reunion ramble along the C&O Canal, skirting puddles and stepping aside for cyclists. A great blue heron catches a fish, then hastily swallows it as half a dozen ducks approach.


- Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 06:13:02 (EST)

2020-11-14 - Swiss Peloton

~4.7 mi @ ~19 min/mi

"We rode through my least favorite city in Switzerland!" remarked a Peloton cyclist whom Square Peg knows well. Unique perspective?! Trail talk revolves around loving-kindness and helpful mental models of folks whose viewpoints we find challenging. We detour through a corner of the Chevy Chase Country Club and ponder how to organize data on expertise and technical opportunities to maximize ease of building, maintaining, discovering, and using. If someone were to move to Japan, what should they do there? Roadkill reminisces about the Fifth Generation Computing Project and speculates that a Category Theory perspective could suggest good opportunities.


- Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 06:10:47 (EST)

Resilience Skills

By Katherine King, "Seven Skills of Resilience: Practical ways to enhance well-being in these trying times" (Psychology Today, March 2020), good suggestions on staying OK:

  1. Cultivate a Belief in Your Ability to Cope – ... Take a moment to list the capacities that you can bring to bear in this current situation. Focus on those things that are not dependent on other people or outside circumstances, qualities like adaptability, intelligence, a sense of humor, courage, perseverance, resourcefulness, assertiveness, gratitude, and so on. ...
  2. Stay Connected With Sources of Support – ... This is not the time to say "I don't have the time" to be in touch with friends, loved ones, and other supportive people in your life. This is the time to double down on these connections. If you are busy, it might mean sending short text messages or scheduling a 10-minute phone call on one of your breaks. We are social animals, and we need a tribe. Tribes make us feel safe and supported. A tribe will deliver toilet paper to your doorstep in the middle of the night. A tribe will send you funny memes to get you through a hard day. ...
  3. Talk About What You're Going Through – ... If it's hard to find someone to talk to, you might take to journaling or sending letters or messages to loved ones who are far away. If you do have people nearby, one simple structure is to do a paired sharing activity. ..
  4. Be Helpful to Others – ... It can be very rewarding and empowering to help other people during hard times. When we see that we can make a difference and reduce someone else's pain, it reduces our own feelings of helplessness. It enhances our sense of control and efficacy in the world, which helps protect us from feeling overwhelmed ...
  5. Activate Positive Emotion – ... Find things that make you laugh, and commit to watching, following, and connecting with whichever of these sources most amuse you right now. ... there are countless potential positive emotions to cultivate. Think about how to feel gratitude, appreciation, love, intimacy, connection to the beauty of nature, the pleasure of a home-cooked meal, a "runners high", the joy of tapping your foot or dancing to music, the sense of accomplishment of completing a home maintenance project. ...
  6. Cultivate an Attitude of Survivorship – ... we are all going through hardship at this time, and that there are indeed circumstances beyond our control. We are not completely in control, but we aren't completely helpless either. Regardless of the reality, a survivor narrative is much more supportive of our mental health in the long run. ...
  7. Seek Meaning – ... You might believe that what matters most is how you treat others and connect to a deep personal sense of the value of family. ... Another simple practice is to read or re-read something meaningful or inspiring to you each day. There are websites that will send a poem or quote a day, or you could read a paragraph from a favorite self-help book or spiritual text. ...

... wise thoughts on how to bend, not break!

(cf Optimist Creed (1999-04-16), Sheryl Sandberg on the Hard Days (2016-05-22), Positive Thinking Techniques (2017-09-21), ...)

- Monday, December 14, 2020 at 05:57:11 (EST)

2020-11-11 - Warm Veterans Day

~1.8 mi @ ~23 min/mi

"Thanksgiving lawn decorations?" Danger Man and Roadkill do an early evening walkabout survey but spy none, as weirdly warm drizzle pauses on Armistice Day evening. Cars slow for red headlamp glow.


- Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 07:30:00 (EST)

2020-11-10 - Pi Beta Nu Castle

~2.7 mi @ ~20 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Pi_Beta_Nu_castle_National_Park_Seminary_2020-11-10.jpg"Pi Beta Nu was formed in 1903, and the following year, the Castle clubhouse was built. A drawbridge connected to the main bridge to the rest of the campus. In 1921, an additional tower was added ..." says a web page on the history of the National Park Seminary. Roadkill bushwhacks across a ravine to photograph the abandoned ruins of the building. Nearby the DC Fencers Club door is open. On the grass a heart-shaped pin says "Love Yourself" - wise counsel indeed!


- Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 05:58:23 (EST)

Scenario Planning and Probabilistic Forecasting

In the Nov/Dec 2020 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, J. Peter Scoblic & Phil Tetlock share insights in their essay "A Better Crystal Ball: The Right Way to Think About the Future". BLUF:

In other words, use observables to define indicators, and apply good systems thinking to build mental models of the future!

(cf Fifth Disciplinarians (2000-09-10), Forecasting Lessons from Systems Dynamics (2017-07-05), Superpowers - Systems Thinking, Asking, and Listening (2019-01-29), Dancing with Systems (2019-06-21), Systems Thinking Icebergs (2019-06-27), Mantra - Be More Meta (2020-01-02), ...)

- Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 06:25:14 (EST)

2020-11-09 - Shared Streets

~3.3 mi @ ~18 min/mi

"Shared Streets - Road Closed to Thru Traffic!", say signs for a new country initiative to make more walkable neighborhoods. At sunset on Monday Roadkill wades through autumn leaves that spill across sidewalks.


- Wednesday, December 09, 2020 at 05:55:49 (EST)

2020-11-08 - Out of the Road

~8.2 mi @ ~20 min/mi

"Out of the road!" Square Peg uses the same phrase to keep Roadkill safe that she & her DH have taught their dog Sid. "The harsher your tone of voice, the more you love them!" she explains. A meandering ramble discovers a new cut-through to Connecticut Ave. Crabby and Mr Bill are still asleep when the Dawn Patrol gemini/dioscuri divert to pose on their front porch rocking chairs with coffee. Danger Man appears at mile ~3 and leads a Mormon Temple hill climb. Trail talk is mindful and joyous.


- Monday, December 07, 2020 at 05:26:35 (EST)

Too High or Too Low

Further wise observations from 1750 by Samuel Johnson ("No. 43. The inconveniences of precipitation and confidence.") on the dangers of flying too high or lurking too low in one's life strategy — and in particular on the risks of hastiness and hubris:

There seem to be some souls suited to great, and others to little employments; some formed to soar aloft, and take in wide views, and others to grovel on the ground, and confine their regard to a narrow sphere. Of these the one is always in danger of becoming useless by a daring negligence, the other by a scrupulous solicitude; the one collects many ideas, but confused and indistinct; the other is busied in minute accuracy, but without compass and without dignity.

The general errour of those who possess powerful and elevated understandings, is, that they form schemes of too great extent, and flatter themselves too hastily with success; they feel their own force to be great, and by the complacency with which every man surveys himself, imagine it still greater: they therefore look out for undertakings worthy of their abilities, and engage in them with very little precaution, for they imagine that without premeditated measures, they shall be able to find expedients in all difficulties. They are naturally apt to consider all prudential maxims as below their regard, to treat with contempt those securities and resources which others know themselves obliged to provide, and disdain to accomplish their purposes by established means, and common gradations.

(cf Johnson on Perseverance (2020-10-12), ...)

- Sunday, December 06, 2020 at 05:33:55 (EST)

2020-11-07 - Ten Miles Plus

~10.1 mi @ ~19 min/mi

"Tell them it's exploring new corners of their flight envelope!" suggests Roadkill, to nudge data-driven engineering-mindset folks out of their comfort zones. A 10 second handheld iPhone Night Mode exposure catches Orion setting. Apple Watch 3's GPS inexplicably omits the first 2+ miles of Saturday's sunrise stroll to Sligo Creek (blue segment on map). Square Peg and Roadkill arrive simultaneously at Forest Grove Park, and proceed from there to Starbucks. After a brief loopback to fetch Roadkill's forgotten treking pole they return to meet Danger Man. The trio take the Parkway southeast to the middle school track, pausing to photograph chalk sketches and a new BBQ sign. Roadkill's solo saunter home is the first 10+ mile trek since the Fractured Femur at the 2019-11-09 - Stone Mill 50M 24k DNF.


- Saturday, December 05, 2020 at 05:44:23 (EST)

2020-11-05 - Special Dumplings

~2.2 mi @ ~17 min/mi

"Hot & Sour Soup, please! And Mamma's Special Dumplings!" Roadkill phones in a carryout order to nearby China Bistro during the last mile of an evening walk around the COVID-empty Rockville campus of Montgomery College. Gaps in fences lead to two new cut-throughs.


- Friday, December 04, 2020 at 06:06:10 (EST)

2020-11-01 - Lonely Orange Skittle

~4.8 mi @ ~23 min/mi

"At least the rain didn't start until we were halfway!" says Half Full, optimistically. Danger Man walks strong the morning after a marathon. Roadkill's 1.5 mile loop to Starbucks recorded by the Apple Watch doesn't appear on its GPS trackfile map, which oddly enough begins only when he joins the others. A happy golden buddha occupies the front window of a downtown Bethesda psychic parlor, surrounded by occult paraphernalia; an inflatable Halloween spirit looms. The only Found Candy on Hallowmas is a lonely orange "Skittles" on the sidewalk. It tastes good.


- Thursday, December 03, 2020 at 06:16:04 (EST)

Disagreement under Disagreement

From David Brooks' NY Times opinion essay "Nine Nonobvious Ways to Have Deeper Conversations" (19 Nov 2020) a wise suggestion for thinking with those on the opposite side of an issue:

Find the disagreement under the disagreement. In the Talmudic tradition when two people disagree about something, it's because there is some deeper philosophical or moral disagreement undergirding it. Conversation then becomes a shared process of trying to dig down to the underlying disagreement and then the underlying disagreement below that. There is no end. Conflict creates cooperative effort.

Brooks's overall list:

(cf Shotguns and Rifles (1999-11-06), Big Lessons (2001-02-17), Superforecasting (2016-02-21), What Moderates Believe (2017-08-26), ...)

- Wednesday, December 02, 2020 at 06:04:14 (EST)

2020-10-31 - Virtual MCM Aid Station

~1.7 mi @ ~20 min/mi

"Adults wear tutus too!" Roadkill meets friendly runner "Zoe" who gives permission to photograph her outfit; she hopes to run a marathon some day. Danger Man and Square Peg are doing their virtual Marine Corps Marathon. Their virtual Aid Station fits on the hood of Roadkill's roving car.


- Tuesday, December 01, 2020 at 05:44:05 (EST)

2020-10-30 - Halloween Eve

~4.5 mi @ ~19 min/mi

"Awesome yard!" It's Hallowe'ene'en, and Roadkill compliments owners of displays, who respond modestly. A fast cold front brings brisk north winds and dramatic but short-lived stratocumulus perlucidus clouds. Danger Man joins for a segment of the ramble; he's doing a marathon tomorrow. Construction work proceeds furiously at Friday sunset, finishing up paving before the weekend.


- Monday, November 30, 2020 at 06:32:16 (EST)

2020-10-29 - Railroad Crossing

~2.3 mi @ ~22 min/mi

"I need one of those!" Roadkill's trekking pole appeals to the lady who meets him on the Beltway bridge. ("It takes some weight off my knee," he replies.) A quarter mile into today's ramble Roadkill realizes why he feels naked: he forgot his facemask! Double back, put one on, and retrace. At the railroad crossing the gates go down, and he scampers under to get across before a slow freight train blocks the passage. In the National Park Seminary a pair of 12 foot tall skeletons guard the fire house and power plant.


- Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 13:53:51 (EST)

2020-10-27 - Unicorn Skeleton

~3.7 mi @ ~21 min/mi

"Look back!" Roadkill texts Danger Man, heading west and unaware that someone is following him half a block behind. On the way to their rendezvous Roadkill explores an overgrown path along a creek near the local swim club, only to discover it dead-ends in an impenetrable thicket. He backtracks and scrambles up a slope to escape. Halloween lawn art features a skeletal unicorn and other oddities.


- Saturday, November 28, 2020 at 05:52:04 (EST)

In Favor of Both

Thomas Friedman in a recent op-ed column offers a nice non-partisan list of things to support on both sides of the political fence:

... for BOTH redividing the pie AND growing the pie, for both reforming police departments and strengthening law and order, for both saving lives in a pandemic and saving jobs, for both demanding equity in education and demanding excellence, for both strengthening safety nets and strengthening capitalism, for both celebrating diversity and celebrating patriotism, for both making college cheaper and making the work of noncollege-educated Americans more respected, for both building a high border wall and incorporating a big gate, for both high-fiving the people who start companies and supporting the people who regulate them ...

... a marvelous statement of how to achieve key meta-goals: balance, partnership, insight!

(cf Make Money Whisper (2002-11-09), Overrated and Underrated (2004-03-13), Tilt Theory of History (2004-06-01), Lyndon Johnson Political Philosophy (2006-10-06), After-Shock (2011-03-30), What Moderates Believe (2017-08-26), ...)

- Friday, November 27, 2020 at 06:10:34 (EST)

2020-10-26 - Purple Line Peek

~4.2 mi @ ~17 min/mi

"¿Dónde estás?" asks the Mommy, pretending not to see her happy little girl peeking out from under the playground slide. Roadkill leaves the car at the mechanic's garage and takes the long way home via interim Georgetown Branch and Rock Creek Trails. Kids practice soccer at the community rec center. Halloween decorations abound. The wooden trestle, 1400 feet long and built in the late 1800s, has now been replaced by steel girders for the Purple Line light-rail.


- Thursday, November 26, 2020 at 09:03:50 (EST)

2020-10-25 - Tea Sipping

~7.5 miles @ ~24 min/mi

"Pinkies Up!" We pause to sip tea, masked and socially-distanced, during a soggy Sunday morning walkabout. Autumn leaves are lovely in the chilly drizzle. Half Full and Roadkill rendezvous with Danger Man and proceed upstream along Sligo Creek Parkway to Wheaton Regional Park.

"There's a cut-through here somewhere!" promises Roadkill as he leads a damp tour around ballfields to eventually find the path. Dr Slow Twitch joins for the return trip, stretching her legs after yesterday's 100 miler. Law lectures explain existential entities such as companies, corporations, and persons; math lectures explain the nuances of rationals, irrationals, and transcendentals. Mindful dialogue includes the need to empathize with those who may disagree with us, and especially to leave no one behind – in society as well as on the trail. The GPS pauses, resets, and omits half the journey. No matter: with friends, just being is a blessing!


- Wednesday, November 25, 2020 at 06:46:43 (EST)

Self-Care Leadership

From Harvard Business Review "Serious Leaders Need Self-Care, Too" by Palena Neale, a short essay about how to "... reframe self-care as an investment that can increase ... overall productivity and effectiveness ...", with some suggested strategies:

(TY, Brigitta-sensei! – cf Comments on Mantra - Say Thanks, not Sorry (2017-06-21), Opening to the New (2019-05-19), Cats and Chocolate (2020-04-27), Happier and Healthier (2020-07-08), Self-Care Matrix (2020-10-15), ...)

- Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 06:26:09 (EST)

2020-10-24 - Way Down Yonder

~8.1 mi @ ~22 min/mi

"Mom, where is 'Yonder'?" Square Peg reports cognitive dissonance and a new regional vocabulary when abruptly transferring in 4th grade to a western North Carolina school. She escorts Roadkill at sunrise from Candy Cane City uphill through Rock Creek Forest, recorded by GPS but not mapped until ~1.8 miles into the trek. They return via the Rock Creek Park valley trail and meet Danger Man and Doc Bob, then loop through the Audubon Naturalist Society.


- Monday, November 23, 2020 at 06:18:26 (EST)

2020-10-23 - Live Love Laugh

~2.0 mi @ ~18 min/mi

"Breathe" - "Everything Will Be 😊K" - "Live Love Laugh" - "Faith Can Move Mountains" - "Vote" - "You Make Me 😎" - "Life Is Beautiful" - "Be You" - "Friendship" ... and more! A flock of new inspirational painted rocks-in-a-box have joined those first spied during the 2020-05-14 - Cat Practice walkabout. Roadkill rambles to mail a letter, buy lottery tickets, and pick up the car from the shop. Carved pumpkins decorate a front yard stump.


- Sunday, November 22, 2020 at 07:32:20 (EST)

Caring for Each Other in Some Strange Night

A thoughtful op-ed by Susan Faludi in the 29 October New York Times echoes Eugenia Cheng's Ingressive vs Congressive remapping of "female" vs "male" classic behavior patterns. The core of Faludi's argument:

The masculine archetype of the 1930s and '40s was the anonymous common man who proved his chops through communal building, not gunslinging. In a 1932 speech, Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that "the man of ruthless force had his place in developing a pioneer country" but he now endangered the nation.

"The lone wolf, the unethical competitor, the reckless promoter," he said, "whose hand is against every man's, declines to join in achieving an end recognized as being for the public welfare, and threatens to drag the industry back to a state of anarchy." New Deal America championed a manliness of usefulness, demonstrated through collective service and uncelebrated competence.

The '30s ideal of heroic civil servant carried into World War II, and was enshrined in Ernie Pyle's battlefront dispatches valorizing unsung grunts – "the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys." Pyle disparaged the silk-scarfed "flyboys," whose camera-ready star turns Pyle instinctively distrusted.

Of the grunt ethic, Pyle wrote, "We are all men of new professions, out in some strange night caring for each other." This service-oriented prototype of manhood – tending to the needs of others, providing protective support, spurning the spotlight – was essentially a maternal masculinity, all the purported qualities of motherhood, recoded for the Y chromosome.

(cf Howards End - Women and Men (2017-09-17), Eugenia Cheng on Thinking (2017-12-30), ...)

- Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 05:48:48 (EST)

2020-10-22 - Pennydog and Patternbond

~5.6 mi @ ~20 min/mi

"Pennydog Lane and Patternbond Terrace?" Somebody has a wicked talent for street names! Roadkill emerges from an wildly overgrown corner of Carroll Knolls Local Park after a new bushwhack cut-through over poison ivy, bogs, and tangled deadfalls. He seeks a secret back way to Wheaton and finds it, thanks to a well-hidden stairway behind Stephen Knolls School. Then it's back to meet Danger Man, who is working late. A Halloween black cat prepares to pounce and a skeletal dog has improbable bony ears. On the way Roadkill rescues a lost My Little Pony cap and a chocolate Hersheys candy bar. "The calories in this will cancel out most of today's exercise!"


- Friday, November 20, 2020 at 06:47:31 (EST)

Knowing Stuff Is Hard

In "The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse" by Graeme Wood (The Atlantic, Dec 2020), two memorable quotes:

(cf What We Know (2006-08-15), Know and Do (2019-05-25), ...)

- Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 06:26:42 (EST)

2020-10-21 - Halloween Merewif

~2.9 mi @ ~22 min/mi

"Mermaid skeleton?!" Halloween lawn decorations continue to proliferate, including a wall of ghoulish portraits and a Little Free Library covered with faux cobwebs. Danger Man reports soreness from a long run yesterday afternoon; Roadkill's knee is achy after he pedaled an hour on a stationary bike. The GPS shows 2.98 miles when he stops. A curious cat follows for part of the walkabout.


- Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 06:14:49 (EST)

2020-10-19 - Strava Means Strive

~2.9 mi @ ~22 min/mi

"2.99 miles! You go another 50 feet – I can't!" Roadkill touches the finish line, aka his parked car, while Danger Man gets ready to add a run to his daily log. Strava means "strive" in Swedish. The word "compete" is from the Latin, "strive together". Tomorrow the Dioscuri begin another silly week-long Apple Watch activity competition. By a fluke Roadkill "won" the first one. Won't happen again!


- Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 07:00:09 (EST)

The Truth

From Terry Pratchett's comic-fantasy Discworld novel The Truth:

"A thousand years ago we thought the world was a bowl," he said. "Five hundred years ago we knew it was a globe. Today we know it is flat and round and carried through space on the back of a turtle." He turned and gave the High Priest another smile. "Don't you wonder what shape it will turn out to be tomorrow?"

... parody-echoing the film Men in Black:

"Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the earth was flat. And fifteen minutes ago you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."

(cf What We Know (2006-08-15), ...)

- Monday, November 16, 2020 at 05:41:02 (EST)

2020-10-18 - Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

~7.4 mi @ ~19 min/mi

"Lovely long ears!" says Roadkill, admiring the brown-and-white Cavalier King Charles spaniel that a masked lady is out walking. "Yes," she replies, "they pick up all the leaves!" Sunday morning's brisk ramble begins with a chilly solo walk to Starbucks for hot coffee, a quick survey of downtown Bethesda, and a return to join Danger Man, Doc Bob, and Half Full at the Bethesda Outdoor Pool, aka "SEE-ment Pond" as Roadkill pronounces it. Trash talk is strong as the group proceeds south along Little Falls Parkway and continues on the natural-surface Little Falls Trail south of Mass Ave. At his mile #5 Roadkill takes a side pathway to Westmoreland Hills Local Park and returns though a neighborhood of mansions. He discovers a good cut-through near Little Falls Swimming Club.


- Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 05:41:27 (EST)

2020-10-17 - Lawn Angel

~2.6 mi @ ~24 min/mi

"The angel is crying!" Halloween decorations are dense in Half Full's neighborhood. On a crisp Saturday afternoon Danger Man and Roadkill follow her directions to explore Garrett Park streets and admire lawn art, autumn leaves, and architecture.


- Friday, November 13, 2020 at 05:03:24 (EST)

Trustworthy, Helpful, Fair

From "The state of Americans' trust in each other amid the COVID-19 pandemic", a survey of more than 10,000 US adults performed in April 2020 by the Pew Research Center found that:

... and then, looking at combinations of the three criteria:

... startling and sad numbers in many ways – but a small improvement in altruism and optimism and hope since the prior Pew survey in 2018!

(cf Underappreciated Ideas (12999-07-06), How to Succeed (2005-03-11), How to Win Friends and Influence People (2008-05-17), Tough-Minded Optimists (2009-12-22), How to Be an Optimist (2011-08-24), Life Partner Criteria (2014-05-15), Action to Raise Trust (2015-09-05), Principles of Trust-Building (2015-09-23), Nine Beliefs for Success (2018-03-02), Kevin Kelly Advice (2020-09-22), ...)

- Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 05:35:09 (EST)

2020-10-17 - Black Hill Horror

~3.2 mi @ ~17 min/mi

"Clack! Clack! Clack!" The tapping sound of Roadkill's trekking pole on the path behind them reminds Square Peg and Danger Man of a classic film trope, as if they're being chased by a monster-murderer. They run the Saturday morning MCRRC 5 miler at Little Seneca Lake in beautiful Black Hill Regional Park and finish in just under an hour. Roadkill cuts the course, omitting out-and-back segments, to take photos. An old stone marks the boundary of a William & Mary land parcel from centuries ago.


- Wednesday, November 11, 2020 at 06:51:17 (EST)

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