^zhurnaly 0.9949

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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 = 0.9948.

Fundamental Factors

Alliterative life-themes, perhaps to ponder and improve:



^z - 2023-04-18

- Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 06:11:09 (EDT)

The Pivot

When someone was the pivot
      around which your life turned —
The center of your galaxy,
      the core of your existence —

And then ... they go away,
      whether from death,
      or betrayal,
      or just change ...

What do you do?

What's next?

Yes, and ...

^z - 2023-04-16

- Sunday, April 16, 2023 at 09:04:45 (EDT)

Lockwood and Company

Jonathan Stroud's five-book Lockwood & Co. series of young adult fantasy novels are great fun. In an alternate-world London full of malign ghosts eponymous Anthony Lockwood is the dashing-angsty Sherlock-Holmesian leader of a tiny ghostbuster-detective agency; George Cubbins is the brilliant intellectual-nerdy paranormal researcher; and Lucy Carlyle is the protagonist, a psychically talented self-critical young teen who tells the tales. Setting aside predictable plots, the characters are engaging and the humor is delightful. Most wonderful are poetic descriptions of otherworldly landscapes. From Book 5 ("The Empty Grave"), for example, in Chapter 6, visiting a cemetery:

... I let him lead the way, keeping my head low to avoid the thorns arching above. The track wound among the gravestones and soon opened out into a small cleared space where the foliage had been crushed underfoot and the ivy chopped back with a sword.

Two headstones stood in the center of the space. One of the last rays of sunlight was shining on them. They were made of gray stone: modern, sharp-edged, and unsullied by wind or rain. Neither was ornate, but the one on the left was larger. It was crowned by a carving of a beautiful, sad-faced woman in a hooded cape. On the plinth below, in strong clear letters, was written:


The second stone was jut a simple slab, inscribed with only two words:


I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out. My heart was too full, my head awhirl. I gazed at the stones. ...

It's the final resting place of young Anthony Lockwood's parents and his sister. A little later, in Chapter 8:

... In the late afternoon, with the shadows lengthening, it didn't radiate prosperity. The Palace Theater itself was a hulking construction, standing alone on the edge of a stretch of waste ground. At one time it must have been impressive; it had a columned front, reminiscent of a Roman temple, with carved figures above the pillars depicting tragic and comic scenes. But the concrete in the columns was cracked and broken, and half the carvings were gone. The main doors were boarded up. Entry to the building appeared to be from the field alongside, where many tents of faded colors had been erected, their canvas snapping in the wind. A makeshift iron fence, in which snack food wrappers fluttered like trapped insects, surrounded the compound. A siren played a cheesy melody; this was the cue for the closure of the fair. The last few sad-faced customers, bearing draggled sticks of cotton candy, were shuffling homeward through the rusty gates. ...

And in Chapter 21, in a ghostly parallel London:

... We walked on. The air was bitter—a dry, dead absence that sucked the life from your lungs and the motion from your blood. It clung to the surface of our cloaks, coating them with ice that creaked and cracked gently as we moved. But it could not penetrate. We existed in fragile bubbles of warmth that sustained us as we hurried on. Even so, the silence bore into our skulls, and the countless watchful windows on every side filled us with a slowly mounting fear.

There were no ghost-lamps in that city. No railings, no cars—nothing of iron—and no running water. The drains and gutters were empty, the runnels dry. Street nameplates were gone, and the signs above the storefronts carried no legible words. The route we took was familiar to us, but the overarching stillness made it alien. During my previous visit to the Other Side, I'd been in the open countryside. Here, in central London, the utter silence had even more of a transformative effect. It turned the rows of houses into cliff faces, the streets into a dark labyrinth of canyons and ravines.


... For every street that was empty, there was another with something wandering in the mists. Dark shapes stood at the upstairs windows of hollow houses, staring up toward the sky. Tiny figures sat in frozen sandboxes at the edge of city parks. Lines of adults waited on sidewalks, perhaps queuing for buses that would never come. Men in suits and ties meandered past each other; women walked with hands out, pushing nonexistent strollers. All were silent, gray, and drifting—the colors of their clothes faded, their faces bleached as white as bone. Lost souls, the skull had called them, and I knew that it was right. They were lost, mindlessly repeating actions that no longer had a meaning. ...

(cf Pickwick Papers Ghost Removal (2006-06-11,) ...^z - 2023-04-15

- Saturday, April 15, 2023 at 13:33:04 (EDT)

Reagan High School Friends

An old image (1969?) from John H. Reagan High School (renamed "Northeast Early College High School" in 2019) — Mark Zimmermann and two comrades — what are their names?

(cf High School Suit (2010-08-15), High School Grad (2012-02-14), Not Without Honor (2013-07-03), ...) - ^z - 2023-04-13

- Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 08:03:09 (EDT)

Beautiful Inside and Outside

On a spring afternoon, at a downtown Silver Spring bus stop, a masked old man with a long gray beard arrives on foot. He wears a heavy backpack and carries three small bags, carry-out food and other munchies. A young masked woman rises to offer her seat on the bench.

"You don't need to get up – I'm fine!" he says.

"Oh, I've been sitting all day, please take it!" she replies.

"Well, if it starts to rain you have to get under the shelter here – please!"


He takes the seat. Storm clouds loom. Some minutes later, after two not-in-service buses swoop past, conversation resumes:

"Are you waiting for a #4 or a #5?" he asks.

"Either bus," she says. "But first I'm waiting for my grandmother. She should be arriving on the Metro soon."

A few minutes later a tall, ebony-dark lady appears. She slowly limps across the street. Hugs are exchanged with her pale-complexioned granddaughter. The old man gathers his bags and rises.

"Please sit down, Ma'am," he suggests. "You know, your granddaughter gave me this seat!"

"Oh, thank you but no," she says.

The three stand together outside the kiosk. Another person takes the vacant spot.

"At least somebody is using it now!" the young woman observes.

"Ma'am," the old fellow says with a nod to the elderly lady, "you have a beautiful granddaughter!"

"Thank you," the lady nods back. "Beautiful inside and outside!"

The young woman looks away. The bus arrives.

- Friday, April 07, 2023 at 06:59:53 (EDT)

Legends and Lattes

"It's sweet, beautiful, and, most of all, kind." says Seanan McGuire's perfect blurb on the cover of Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree. Yes! This fun fantasy novel turns the Dungeons & Dragons genre upside down and focuses not on death and destruction, but rather on the good – people helping one another. It's a well-written story of a retired fighter who goes into business as a barista, with coffee and croissants and lots of love.

(cf Here Be Dragons (2000-09-22), Booty in the Boot (2005-02-19), ...) - ^z - 2023-04-05

- Wednesday, April 05, 2023 at 11:38:01 (EDT)


Thisness – the essence and particularity of an individual thing – what a term haecceity is, the opposite of quiddity, a common shared whatness among a class of things.

How wonderful to have the right words for such essential concepts!

(cf Ode Less Traveled (2006-12-18, Nabokov on Bleak House (2007-06-26), ...) - ^z - 2023-04-01

- Saturday, April 01, 2023 at 06:25:29 (EDT)

Little Book of Cosmology

The Little Book of Cosmology by Lyman Page is a compact and delightful summary of recent human progress in understanding the Universe. Much of the story is written in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the leftover glow in the sky from the era when everything was incredibly hot and dense – blackbody radiation now redshifted by expansion to a chilly 2.725 K, barely above Absolute Zero.

But the CMB isn't quite uniform, and therein lies great knowledge. The Little Book explains how the tiny ~0.003% temperature fluctuations between patches of sky in different directions are important clues about the birth of the cosmos. Bottom line: astronomical observations of the past few decades have led to powerful models of the Universe that are testable and, so far, seem about right. The world, writ large, depends on only half a dozen key parameters:

So strange, wonderful, and knowable – this marvelous Universe within which we live!

(cf CherishedBeliefs (2000-04-19), UniversalKnowns (2002-06-13), ...) - ^z - 2023-03-31

- Friday, March 31, 2023 at 17:38:24 (EDT)

Iconic Architecture

Larry Buchanan's NYT essay "Can You Imagine Supreme Court Justices at a Backyard Barbecue?" (2022-10-31) raises wonderful questions of symbol and society. It points out how the US Supreme Court is often shown, in major news media, via photos of its building rather than images of any Justices themselves.

What other concepts are seen as such concrete abstractions? Books, for instance, can represent Knowledge; Light may stand for Good, and Darkness Evil; the Ocean is the Infinite, the Word is God. Victor Hugo argues (in "This Will Destroy That", Book V Chapter 2 of Hunchback of Notre Dame) that the printing press replaced architecture as History.

And next ...?

^z - 2023-03-31

- Friday, March 31, 2023 at 05:57:29 (EDT)

Like a Fly Buzzing around a Cow

Mathematician John Isbell (1930-2005), commenting on his Category Theory colleague William Lawvere (1937-2023):

... Talking with Bill, I often feel like a fly buzzing around a cow. (It seems to me I can liken Bill to a cow, if I’m just a fly myself.) On any easy question, I’ll probably see the answer first. But his thoughts seem to move on a level where I don’t function. I can barely see down there. ...

from "An Interview with John Isbell" by K. D. Magill, Jr. – ^z - 2023-03-19

- Sunday, March 19, 2023 at 19:38:26 (EDT)

Mind Matrix in toki pona

in the toki pona micro-tongue, a sketch of what might be another view of the Awareness Array:


... promising, and needs work! — ^z - 2023-03-06 & 2023-03-13

PS with English and some definitions:

lawa = head, mind
pana = give, emit
wan = one, unique
sona = wisdom, knowing
jo = have, hold
kulupu = community, group
sewi = above, sacred
open = begin, open
olin = love, respect
ni = this, that
kon = air, spirit
pona = good, useful
tenpo = time, moment
ken = may, can
ale = all, everything
lon = present, true
tan = from, by
pali = do, work

- Thursday, March 09, 2023 at 07:53:48 (EST)

Main Use of Category Theory

from "jjtheblunt" :

I sometimes think the main use of category theory is to look like a wizard ...

Then i realize it's also an assertion that there are recurring patterns in functions (in general). And, as such, sometimes results noticed in one domain actually can be expected to have analogous results in another domain.

(hidden deep in the fascinating thread "AI is making it easier to create more noise, when all I want is good search" on Hacker News; cf Category Theory Concepts (2016-04-25), Category Theory is like a Lighthouse (2018-12-24), Why Care about Category Theory (2019-03-03), Applied Category Theory (2019-04-24), ...) - ^z - 2023-03-09

- Thursday, March 09, 2023 at 06:57:41 (EST)

Power of Art

From David Brooks' NYT column "The Power of Art in a Political Age" (2 March 2023) thoughts on the essence of fine music, literature, paintings, photography, and other creative compositions:

... a piece of art has quieted the self-conscious ego voice that is normally yapping away within. A piece of art has served as a portal to a deeper realm of the mind. It has opened up that hidden, semiconscious kingdom within us from which emotions emerge, where our moral sentiments are found — those instant, esthetic-like reactions that cause us to feel disgust in the presence of cruelty and admiration in the presence of generosity.

The arts work on us at that deep level, the level that really matters. You give me somebody who disagrees with me on every issue, but who has a good heart — who has the ability to sympathize with others, participate in their woes, longings and dreams — well, I want to stay with that person all day. You give me a person who agrees with me on every particular, but who has a cold, resentful heart — well, I want nothing to do with him or her. ...


First, beauty impels us to pay a certain kind of attention. It startles you and prompts you to cast off the self-centered tendency to always be imposing your opinions on things. It prompts you to stop in your tracks, take a breath and open yourself up so that you can receive what it is offering, often with a kind of childlike awe and reverence. It trains you to see the world in a more patient, just and humble way. ...

Second, artworks widen your emotional repertoire. When you read a poem or see a piece of sculpture, you haven’t learned a new fact, but you’ve had a new experience. ... These experiences furnish us with a kind of emotional knowledge — how to feel and how to express feelings, how to sympathize with someone who is grieving, how to share the satisfaction of a parent who has seen her child grow.

Third, art teaches you to see the world through the eyes of another, often a person who sees more deeply than you do. ...

(NYT free gift link to article; cf Tuscan Masters (2000-06-25), Art and Ideas (2001-09-01), Clinging to Belief in Art (2001-09-24), Undressed Art (2005-02-01), Portrait of the Artist (2007-02-08), ...) - ^z - 2023-03-03

- Friday, March 03, 2023 at 06:55:27 (EST)


"How a Bit of Awe Can Improve Your Health" by Hope Reese summarizes four ways to awaken to "... the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world". From the 2023 book by Dacher Keltner:

(cf Kundun (2010-03-21), On Good Form (2015-02-08), Wisdom, Love, Life (2015-04-08), Wakeful, Open, Tender (2016-08-25), Awe Walk (2020-10-04), ...) - ^z

- Saturday, February 25, 2023 at 15:38:59 (EST)

California Ballroom Dancing

"After Tragedy, Ballroom Dancers Find Hope in Each Other’s Arms" in the New York Times describes a "... vibrant circle of artistry ...", a beautiful community rich in love. From the core interview, "What does ballroom dancing mean to you?" with Linda Lee and Michael Yang (lightly edited, parts in translation):

LL: "We have been dancing for several years, and we dance several times a week. That's how we can stay healthy and young and active. Dancing brings us energy, happiness, social [connection], good appetite, sleep's good. Right?"

MY: "Right!"

LL: "Happy. Very happy."

MY: "You're the boss. You said it!"

LL: "I'm the boss. He lets me be the boss."

INTERVIEWER: "So are you only dance partners, or are you also life partners?"

LL: "How did we meet? I don't remember."

MY: "One day, you were sitting there. Your dance partner was also your teacher. He left to go to the bathroom. I saw you by yourself, so I said, 'Hi, Gorgeous. May I have a dance?' You agreed immediately. Before that, I had caught you glancing at me several times, so I thought, 'This person definitely likes me'."

INTERVIEWER: "So you're not going to stop dancing because of this tragedy?"

LL: "No, no, no. I mean, life goes on. And this is what we like to do. So we continue."

MY: "Life is so short. And it can be cruel."

LL: "You never know what's going to happen next. So every day I wake up, I tell myself, 'Great! I have another day to have a good time!'"

INTERVIEWER: "Thank you so much – that was great! Anything else?"

MY: [to LL] "Give me a kiss." [they kiss]

LL: "Wow!"

MY: "Thank you!"

(NYT gift link; cf Debutante Dance (2005-03-22), En Déhanchement (2006-04-02), Dance and Sit (2013-11-23), Tribhanga (2017-10-13), Om - Be the Dance, ...) - ^z - 2023-02-20

- Monday, February 20, 2023 at 07:17:27 (EST)

Strong, Steady, Sturdy, Stable

From a dear friend (Dr R), powerful words to tell ourselves:

... we can be good people and good partners by taking turns and practicing these virtues – especially in helping those who are having a hard time, who are weak, broken, fragile, or unbalanced at the moment ...

(cf LensManic (2001-07-16), Acheive New Balance (2002-07-17), Aikido Spirit (2003-12-09), Aikido Zen (2019-04-05), Meditation, Improv, Aikido (2021-04-15), ...) - ^z - 2023-02-15

- Wednesday, February 15, 2023 at 07:00:55 (EST)

Personal Goal Template

A dear wise friend ("🐭") describes a framework within which one can envision a personal future state. Rather than a bucket-list of doing, this template prompts reflection on being and sharing:

I am ____, thanks to _____. 
And I feel ________. 
My best advice is ________. 
My epic moment was ________.

🐭 further explains:

I did this as part of my “10 in 10” exercise, where I wrote down 10 things I’d like to be able to say I did over the last 10 years, when I reflect at the end of the decade. The first month, I just wrote the first line for all 10 things. The next month, I filled out the second line (which forced me to revisit my initial list). Etc etc. You do you 😉

^z - 2023-02-07

- Tuesday, February 07, 2023 at 07:55:42 (EST)

Value of Abstraction

The recent thread "Haskell is not category theory" on Y Combinator includes thoughtful comments by "epgui" beginning with:

The number of times I’ve heard someone say that some academic topic was not helpful and they were right is close to zero. It’s a pretty good heuristic to not adopt that attitude.

after some pushback, epgui expands and explains that:

Indeed you’re free to ignore my perspective, which is just what my comment offered… But this is something I’ve seen play out over and over and over again.

It probably started all the way back in high school with people in the back of the class asking how all this high school maths would help them in real life. Then you get to university and people ask the same in just about every class. Then you get to industry and all the people who had that attitude growing up are calling you for help (and the people who still have that attitude seem to stop learning, or learn at much lower velocity).

It’s always more obvious in hindsight, and particularly with maths: stuff always seems kinda useless before you deeply understand it. That’s unfortunate, because it severely hampers the motivation to learn the stuff in the first place… But it is what it is, I guess.

Even pure mathematicians, who have every incentive to see their own work as immensely useful, are notorious for frequently having no idea just how useful and applicable their work will be in the future (albeit usually over longer time horizons).

My experience is that this is even more true for cross-disciplinary applications, as either discipline naturally is unaware of the perspective of the other discipline. It’s true that it’s important/necessary to specialize deeply and narrowly, but the value of cross-disciplinary skills (especially regarding maths) is probably under-appreciated, IMO.

(cf Applied Category Theory (2019-04-24), More Meta (2019-08-31), Mantra - Be More Meta (2020-01-02), Systems Thinking in a Nutshell (2022-11-05), ...) - ^z - 2023-02-06

- Monday, February 06, 2023 at 05:29:22 (EST)

Age Exuberantly

Jancee Dunn in "3 Steps to Age Exuberantly" summarizes a conversation with Margareta Magnusson, author of “The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly: Life Wisdom from Someone Who Will (Probably) Die Before You”. The key recommendations:

Yes, and ...

(cf Aging Brain (2018-02-05), ...) - ^z - 2023-01-26

- Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 20:20:13 (EST)

Wise Selfishness

Super-self-centered – and maybe that's OK, sometimes and somewhat! Dan Harris, celebrity of happiness, in "The Benefits of ‘Wise Selfishness’", visits the Dalai Lama, celebrity of mindfulness, who suggests balance and compassion, kindness and caring. Not suprising – and maybe that's OK! It's a "virtuous spiral" of altruism.

Getting more specific, Harris recommends four practices:

Loving-kindness meditation

Sit quietly, close your eyes and call to mind a succession of people. Start with someone who’s easy to love, like a pet or a child. As soon as you have a mental image of that person, silently send four kind thoughts their way: May you be happy; may you be safe; may you be healthy; may you live with ease. Then move on to yourself, a mentor, a neutral person, a difficult person and then all beings everywhere. ...

Talk to other people

Focus on increasing the number of positive interactions you have throughout the day, including with strangers ...

Dedicate your everyday tasks to other people

Before starting any activity, take a second to dedicate whatever you’re about to do to the benefit of all beings. Seriously. Before you brush your teeth, take a nap or eat a sandwich, silently say to yourself something like: I’m doing this so I can be strong and healthy — not just for myself, but so that I can be helpful to other people. ...

Take advantage of small opportunities for generosity

... It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone, giving a compliment or texting someone who is having a hard time. ...

And yes, Harris wrote a book and has a podcast, and his op-ed is quite first-person ... and that's OK!

(cf Ten Percent Happier (2015-03-07), ...) - ^z - 2023-01-26

- Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 08:29:50 (EST)

Fall in Love With the Problem

From the 23 Jan 2023 Peter Coy column in the New York Times, some thoughts by Waze co-founder Uri Levine in his book Fall in Love With the Problem, Not the Solution: A Handbook for Entrepreneurs:

... good suggestions for strategic thinking!

(cf 2021-12-12 - MCRRC 8k Jingle Bell Jog where 🦄 says "Fall in love with the problem, not the solution!" more than a year ago) - ^z - 2023-01-25

- Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 06:10:06 (EST)

Depression as a Gift

Debbie L. Whittle asks wise meta-questions in "Another Look at Depression":

What if depression was viewed not as an illness, but rather, a call; a call from your own soul? Is it possible there is a gift in depression? We are told that depression is an illness; one involving brain chemistry. Is it possible to view depression from another perspective? Is it possible that depression can be viewed as part of a larger life cycle? Is it possible to see beyond appearances and perceive a higher vision, a vision of meaning and purpose?

... a powerful transformative viewpoint! – though not perhaps easy (maybe impossible) to apply when in the depths themselves — but maybe at other times ...

(cf Parachute Color (2011-12-06), Live the Questions Now (2015-04-02), ...) - ^z - 2023-01-16

- Monday, January 16, 2023 at 12:07:36 (EST)

Life Questions

From the Financial Times, a series of questions that Eugenia Cheng, category-theory mathematician and musician, answers thoughtfully:

(cf Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), Ingressive vs Congressive (2017-07-18), Eugenia Cheng on Thinking (2017-12-30), ...) - ^z - 2023-01-16

- Monday, January 16, 2023 at 05:05:01 (EST)

Pip's Vision

... from Chapter 93 ("The Castaway") of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, describing how Pip, the Black cabin-boy, was affected when he floated alone in the middle of the ocean:

... The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God. ...

(cf Ishmael on Ramadan (2002-11-21), On the Line (2003-02-07), Tautochrone Moby Dick (2017-02-18), Moby-Dick Symbolism (2022-12-19), ...)

- Sunday, January 15, 2023 at 09:29:52 (EST)

The Good Life

From podcast-interview "Key Insights from the Longest Study on Happiness", a conversation with Dr Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, co-author of the just-published The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, some thoughtful quotes:

... and emphasis on making friends, at work and elsewhere – and volunteering and helping others!

(podcast recommended by Dr Rayna – thank you!)

- Sunday, January 15, 2023 at 06:44:22 (EST)


Instant of This!
      — the being
Moment of Oh!
      — the giving
Center of Aah!
      — the sharing

At the crossroads
Of next and was
Where memory begins
And future ends

We become
        We were
              We are

- Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 18:55:29 (EST)


Like the weather two weeks away
Like the solar system in a million years
Like an electron in a nanosecond –
Forecasts fail
Predictions crumble
No one knows what will happen
Yet ...

Some things are real, and resilient
We can plan, within uncertainty
We can act, and influence
We can build, and choose
We can do ...

- Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 18:54:58 (EST)


Blindfold the darkest night
Take a coin from the emptiest purse,
Mute the quietest sound
Erase the blankest page

Sit still, then stop even more
What remains, colder than cold,
Less than nothing —
Being, itself?

- Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 18:54:16 (EST)


Maybe it's wrong
Perhaps we're confused
Belike there's another answer

Certainty, like a river basin,
Channels many possibilities
Into one

Decisiveness, like a room with only one door,
Discards options, eliminates choices,
Narrows the spectrum

If – hypothetically – we could stay open
Relax in a luxury of ignorance
Ah!the future becomes!

- Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 18:51:52 (EST)

Charles Simic, R.I.P.

From the obituary "Charles Simic, Pulitzer-Winning Poet and U.S. Laureate, Dies at 84" by Dwight Garner in the New York Times:

... The family settled in Chicago, where Charles — he changed his name after arriving — learned English and became a committed reader. Recalling the faculty at Oak Park and River Forest High School in suburban Chicago, where he spent his senior year, he told Mr. Bruckner of The Times: “They did remind you all the time this was the high school of Ernest Hemingway, and that made you wonder who you were. But if they found you were interested in reading they just kept handing books to you.” ...

... and from "Charles Simic in The New Yorker" by Hannah Aizenman:

When I was a student in his workshop at N.Y.U., the poet Charles Simic would frequently counsel me and my classmates, “You could write a poem about anything!” (A toothpick, for example, or a rat on the subway tracks—he would perform a little impression, protruding his front teeth and waggling his fingers before his cheeks like whiskers.) ...

and his poem "Left Out of the Bible" (2021):

What Adam said to Eve
As they lay in the dark.
Honey, what’s making
That dog out there bark?

and from "Charles Simic, Pulitzer prize-winning poet, dies at age 84" in The Guardian:

... “Of all the things ever said about poetry, the axiom that less is more has made the biggest and the most lasting impression on me,” Simic told Granta in 2013. “I have written many short poems in my life, except ‘written’ is not the right word to describe how they came into existence. Since it’s not possible to sit down and write an eight-line poem that’ll be vast for its size, these poems are assembled over a long period of time from words and images floating in my head.”

^z - 2023-01-14

PS and a few rhapsodic lines from Simic's ode Breasts, taken out of their beautiful but naughtier context:

They come in the night.
The bestiaries of the ancients
Which include the unicorn
Have kept them out.

Pearly, like the east
An hour before sunrise,
Two ovens of the only
Philosopher's stone
Worth bothering about.

- Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 18:50:04 (EST)

Inner Monologues

From "How Should We Think About Our Different Styles of Thinking?" by Joshua Rothman:

People with inner monologues, Kross reports, often spend “a considerable amount of time thinking about themselves, their minds gravitating toward their own experiences, emotions, desires, and needs.” This self-centeredness can spill over into our out-loud conversation. In the nineteen-eighties, the psychologist Bernard Rimé investigated what we’d now call venting—the compulsive sharing of negative thoughts with other people. Rimé found that bad experiences can inspire not only interior rumination but the urge to broadcast it. The more we share our unhappiness with others, the more we alienate them: studies of middle schoolers have shown that kids who think more about their bad experiences also vent more to their peers, and that this, in turn, leads to them “being socially excluded and rejected.” Maybe there’s another reason my dad, when asked what he was thinking, said, “Nothing.” It can pay to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Kross’s bottom line is that our inner voices are powerful tools that must be tamed. He ends his book with several dozen techniques for controlling our chatter. He advises trying “distanced self-talk”: by using “your name and the second-person ‘you’ to refer to yourself,” he writes, you can gain more command over your thinking. You might use your inner voice to pretend that you’re advising a friend about his problems; you might redirect your thoughts toward how universal your experiences are (It’s normal to feel this way), or contemplate how every new experience is a challenge you can overcome (I have to learn to trust my partner). The idea is to manage the voice that you use for self-management. Take advantage of the suppleness of dialogue. Don’t just rehearse the same old scripts; send some notes to the writers’ room.

- Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 21:32:47 (EST)

One Word

Zhaozhou asked a monk, “How many sutras do you read in a day?”

The monk said: “Maybe seven or eight. Sometimes even ten.”

Zhaozhou said, “Oh, then you can’t read scriptures.”

The monk asked, “Master, how many do you read in a day?”

Zhaozhou: “In one day I read one word.”

.. from Zen's Chinese Heritage by Andy Ferguson

- Saturday, January 07, 2023 at 20:02:28 (EST)

Peace Now

A dear friend in the midst of hard times texted:

and someone replied:

- Saturday, January 07, 2023 at 05:32:37 (EST)

Soul Resolutions

In "Forget the Beach Bod. Try These Soul Resolutions Instead." Tish Harrison Warren shares some suggestions in the belief "... that renewal is always possible, and with a large dollop of grace we can freely try new things; we can continue to grow and change." Among the recommendations to consider for 2023:

- Sunday, January 01, 2023 at 15:13:08 (EST)


          ... sure!
Someone needs help?
          ... my honor!
Shall we?
          ... of course!
          ... I'm in!
Try again?
          ... Why not!
          ... Let's go!

- Sunday, January 01, 2023 at 05:58:51 (EST)


On this bubble
Blue speck
Tiny pebble
Polished smooth
Spins and orbits

On its surface
Plants grow
Animals wander
People love
Fight and die

And on this spot
We two meet
The most important event
Across all time and space
The point of the universe

- Sunday, January 01, 2023 at 05:58:18 (EST)


Pillow-down whispers
Touch-brushes graze
Faint-scent tickles
Pale-glimpses fade

Resilience echoes
Politeness replies
Forgiveness heals
Gentleness sighs

- Sunday, January 01, 2023 at 05:57:45 (EST)


Toss the coin
Spin the wheel
Throw the dice
Cut the deck of cards

A drop of water lands
On the continental divide —
What ocean does it reach?

A finger points,
A hand stretches out —
What does it pick?

A set of genes,
Half Mommy's, half Daddy's —
Whose life begins?

Permission, possibility
Responsibility, reward
Every moment —
We choose and
We are chosen

- Sunday, January 01, 2023 at 05:56:26 (EST)

Baden-Powell's Last Letter

From the Wikipedia entry for Robert Baden-Powell, B-P's "Final Letter to the Scouts:

I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have a happy life too. I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness does not come from being rich, nor merely being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man. Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one. But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. "Be prepared" in this way, to live happy and to die happy – stick to your Scout Promise always – even after you have ceased to be a boy – and God help you to do it.

(see Peace Scouts 2003-06-17)

- Friday, December 30, 2022 at 08:32:27 (EST)


On the tightrope of life, "It's all right."
Heart pounding before the test, "We got this."
Lost in the forest, "No worries, mate."
Failing and frustrated, "Let's try again."

Best friends are never alone.
Even when far apart, we know.
We care about each other.
We take care of each other.

- Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at 18:33:58 (EST)


Mists rise from the pond surface
Echoes reverberate from surrounding cliffs
Tangled scents of decay fight for dominance
And above it all, stars spin their webs of light

Meaning emerges through awareness,
Existence, transcendence, and methods
That awaken mind, enable
And manage every thought

Meanwhile: eternal timeless acceptance
Extends beyond the present
To depths and breadths and heights
Above all bounds

- Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at 18:32:56 (EST)


Without separation:
      One, the simplest core
Without hesitation:
      One, the open door
Without condition:
      One, forever more

- Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at 18:32:04 (EST)


This is the point
    → focus ←

This is the point
        → here ←

This is the point
           → now ←

This is the point
               → be ←

- Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at 18:31:20 (EST)


Shuttered windows.
Sealed envelopes.
Locked doors.
Closed tombs.
Folded arms.
Cold certainty.
Point taken.
Decision made.
Full stop.

... and yet rosebuds,
      tiny tight flower-fists,
            unfold into glory ...
... eggs hatch ...
... seeds sprout ...
... babies are born ...
... mountains crumble ...
... infinity stays out of reach ...
... old stories flow onward ...
... new stories begin ...
... world without end ...

- Monday, December 26, 2022 at 06:21:14 (EST)

The Words of Risk Analysis

Key concepts from "The Words of Risk Analysis" by Stan Kaplan (Risk Analysis, v.17, n.4, 1997) including the delightful beginning:

Upon being informed that I would be expected to speak today I asked myself what I could say, in half an hour, that would be useful. Upon doing that I got an immediate answer. A voice in my head said, "Talk about the words." My first thought was that this would take more than one half hour. Second thought was: I can squeeze it, and I'd like to do it. Besides, since I don't hear voices all that often, maybe I should pay attention. So here goes.

... and the central definition of Risk, via three questions:

... and then respectively using Si for the ith scenario (answering the first question), Li for the associated likelihood (second question), and Xi for the consequences (third question), the set of all triplets { (Si, Li, Xi) } is the Risk. Kaplan observes:

Notice that defined in this way, risk is not a number, nor is it a curve, nor a vector, etc. None of these mathematical concepts is "big" enough in general to capture the idea of risk. But the set of triplets, we find, is always big enough, and if we start out with that, it always gets us on the right track.

Once scenarios are defined, the likelihoods and consequences of the scenarios can be expressed as probability curves, defined by the evidence via Bayes Theorem. Kaplan says:

... To a Bayesian, this is not just another theorem. It's the fundamental law governing the evaluation of evidence.

To an extremist Bayesian, like myself, it goes deeper than that. It's not only the fundamental principle of logical inference, it's the very definition of logic itself. It's what we mean by logical, rational thinking. ...

Kaplan explains further how to gather and analyze evidence from experts:

By the way, this point of view guides us on how to deal with experts. It tells us we should never ask an expert for his opinion. What we want from an expert is, his experience, his information, his evidence.

It also guides us on how to deal with a group of experts. We must first convert the question to a quantitative form, e.g., "What is the numerical value of this parameter F?" We then ask the experts "What evidence do we have relevant to this question?" As they answer we write down, and enumerate, a list of all the relevant evidence items available. We write down exactly what happened as distinct from our interpretations of what happened. We work over this list with the group until we obtain what we can call the "consensus body of evidence." At this point we apply Bayes' theorem to the list, item by item, at the end of which we have a consensus probability curve expressing what we collectively know about the value of F.

Kaplan goes on to discuss decisions, regulations, scenarios, and communications. He summarizes it all in his Figure 19, "How It All Fits Together". Neat!

- Saturday, December 24, 2022 at 22:48:21 (EST)

Untold Stories of Extraordinary Good

Emma Wilkins in her Guardian essay "I witnessed an extraordinary act of kindness. What if altruism is more common than we think?" comments on the evolutionary pressure to worry about the negative, and suggests instead:

Maybe no one's even noticed the flaw that, when you look in the mirror, is the only thing you see. Maybe you could have got that job; maybe you will. Maybe that new neighbour would like to be your friend. Maybe that date will call you back.

And maybe there's still hope for the planet. Maybe some leaders do care; maybe we can make a difference. Maybe even little things – realising we might often be wrong; paying more attention to good news; making a point of sharing it – will help.


Why not remind ourselves that, for all of the bad that's in the world and in the news, behind the scenes, in people's ordinary lives, lie untold stories of extraordinary good.

(cf Find the Beauty (2011-04-03), Mantra - Stop, Notice, Appreciate (2016-04-03), Stand by You (2017-01-11), See the Good in Others (2018-01-02), ...)

- Saturday, December 24, 2022 at 14:07:08 (EST)


... at the bedside: "Thank you"
... atop the mountain: "It just is"
... across the abyss: "We got this"
... as the door opens: "No worries"
... around the fading fire: "Of course"
... amidst the thunderstorm: "It's all OK"
... among the wreckage: "Well, that happened"
... admiring the stars above: "Right now, right here"
... after the final act: "Whatever was, whatever will be"

- Saturday, December 24, 2022 at 07:08:53 (EST)


Just as a team of oxen join
    ... Agree
Together hitched to move a load
    ... Align
And just as marriage merges souls
    ... Anoint
Into a single, stronger sum,
    ... Affirm
Alliance bonds its members in
    ... Assent
A unity that lifts each part
    ... Around
Repairs the weak, prepares the strong
    ... Amidst
To do great things when called upon
    ... Achieve
Striving together – many, one
    ... Abound

- Friday, December 23, 2022 at 05:31:55 (EST)


Body centered
Deliberate exploration
Forgiveness gifted
Here in just

- Wednesday, December 21, 2022 at 06:33:53 (EST)


Rains fall
Winds blow
Echoes fade
Rivers flow

Hand and self
Open free
Release grasp
Learn to be

Universe blossoms
Patterns unfold
Emerge unforced
Stories untold

Future formless
Past behind
One moment between
Life marries mind

- Wednesday, December 21, 2022 at 06:22:28 (EST)

Moby-Dick Symbolism

in The Endless Depths of Moby-Dick Symbolism David Gilbert comments:

What does it mean? There are so many symbols as to render symbols meaningless. And yet, like Ahab, we insist on plucking the heart of its mystery. As Ishmael says, "And some certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are little worth, and the round world itself but an empty cipher, except to sell by the cartload, as they do the hills about Boston, to fill up some morass in the Milky Way." Moby-Dick might as well be that enigmatic doubloon nailed to the main-mast, the prize for anyone who first grasps the white whale.

And maybe, when all is said and done, the book moves me on a more basic level, because I have always loved whales, ever since I was a boy and pushed aside the impossible math of dinosaurs ''? 65 million years ago? ''? my imagination frustrated by all those bones in need of flesh and skin, my soul crushed by the most awesome aspect of our world, already long gone. Instead I embraced the giants that did exist among us, and fellow mammals too, the blue whale, the right whale, the humpback whale ''? Christ, I loved humpback whales ''? my room littered with books and books on whales, whale posters on my wall ''? the narwhal, the beluga ''? and I joined Save the Whales and stuck their sticker on the back window of our Country Squire station wagon, and I fought against Iceland and Japan and their cruel whaling ways, my fight very local and mostly confined within two-thousand square feet on 73rd and Lexington, but I fought nevertheless ''? though I never did like the killer whale ''? and I cheered on Greenpeace and its Rainbow Warrior. Maybe in my early teens I tittered over the sperm whale and its shameful onanistic shadow, but I certainly did my time in front of the famous diorama at the Natural History Museum ''? sperm whale versus giant squid ''? my eyes keen to the cheap showmanship of poured fiberglass yet also sinking down into those ultraviolet spheres and imagining a secret world that glowed like velvet in black light. So Moby-Dick, in its baroque manner, speaks to me at ten years old as well as to me at forty-six.

- Monday, December 19, 2022 at 08:27:23 (EST)


All the same

- Monday, December 19, 2022 at 08:25:00 (EST)

Toki Pona

from Robin, Toki Pona – "... a philosophical artistic constructed language ... known for its small vocabulary, simplicity, and ease of acquisition ..." and:

...Partly inspired by Taoist philosophy, the language is designed to help users concentrate on basic things and to promote positive thinking ...

... how nice! – see https://lipu-sona.pona.la/ for an unofficial intro short-course ... and pona tawa sina! (literally "Good to you!", more generally "Thanks!" and "Peace be unto you!" etc)

- Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 08:07:40 (EST)

You're Doing Great. Keep Going.

from "The Morning" (17 Dec 2022 New York Times newsletter) by Melissa Kirsch:

... The best piece of advice I got this year came from a story a friend told me about what she would say to herself when her three kids were very young and she felt overwhelmed, as if there weren't enough hours in the day: "You're doing great," she would say. "Keep going." I've found these simple words deeply inspiring at tough moments. ...

- Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 07:27:08 (EST)

O Antiphons

Putting the Poetry Back in Christmas

by Tish Harrison Warren

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/11/opinion/advent-christmas-poetry.html ( gift link )


An antiphon is something that is sung antiphonally – a call and response between singers.

The idea was for those seven nights leading up to Christmas, to call on Jesus by all these wonderful titles, "O wisdom," "O light," "O key."

They're called O Antiphons because they all begin with O, which is exclamatory. It's evocative. The "O" announces that you are now like a supplicant addressing somebody. So you normally expect a name; you might have said, "O Susan, could you go and get the washing in?" We expect a name, and then what we get is a name, but it's a name that is itself a poetic aspect of who Christ is.

If you can imagine them in illuminated letters in a breviary, the book that the monks would have had, there had been this great big O. And then they would have done the first word of the title of Christ in a beautiful capital. So it would have said O Sapientia. O Adonai. O Radix. O Clavis. As we would say now, "O Wisdom," "O Lord," "O Root," "O Key," "O Light," "O King" and finally on Christmas Eve, "O Emmanuel."

All these beautiful titles for Jesus in the Antiphons are drawn from the Hebrew scriptures. I think that's really important. Somebody did an imaginative, poetic reading of the great poetry of the scripture.

When you look at all those capital letters on Christmas Eve, and you look at the capitals reading backward, it actually spells a Latin sentence. It says ERO CRAS, which means "I will come tomorrow."

If you really want to appreciate the coming, you have to get yourself imaginatively into that place of semidarkness and anticipation. The antiphons do that in spades.

(cf O Antiphons )

- Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 07:25:36 (EST)

Luddite Teens Don't Want Your Likes

'Luddite' Teens Don't Want Your Likes (free gift-link) by Alex Vadukul – a lovely article about reading & writing & drawing & thinking & doing & seeing & being, with the insightful observation:

You post something on social media, you don't get enough likes, then you don't feel good about yourself. That shouldn't have to happen to anyone. Being in this club reminds me we're all living on a floating rock and that it's all going to be OK.

- Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 07:20:25 (EST)


"LA's 'orgasmic' $18 Japanese milk bread sells out in seconds every day" by Lois Beckett

"[Tastes] like challah and angel food cake had a passionate but very high-class relationship in a five-star hotel," she texted me. "With champagne. Nothing tawdry."

- Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 07:16:54 (EST)

Attention as a Societal Resource

by Ezra Klein "The Great Delusion Behind Twitter"

I think there is a reason that so little has gotten better and so much has gotten worse. It is this: The cost of so much connection and information has been the deterioration of our capacity for attention and reflection. And it is the quality of our attention and reflection that matters most.

In a recent paper, Benjamin Farrer, a political scientist at Knox College in Illinois, argues that we have mistaken the key resource upon which democracy, and perhaps civilization, depends. That resource is attention. But not your attention or my attention. Our attention. Attention, in this sense, is a collective resource; it is the depth of thought and consideration a society can bring to bear on its most pressing problems. And as with so many collective resources, from fresh air to clean water, it can be polluted or exhausted.

Borrowing a concept from Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win the Nobel in economic science, Farrer argues that attention is subject to a problem known as the tragedy of the commons. A classic example of a tragedy of the commons is an open pasture that any shepherd can use for his flock. Without wise governance, every shepherd will send his flock to graze, because if he doesn't, the other shepherds will do so first. Soon enough, the pasture is bare, and the resource is depleted.

Farrer argues that our collective attention is like a public pasture: It is valuable, it is limited, and it is being depleted. Everyone from advertisers to politicians to newspapers to social media giants wants our attention. The competition is fierce, and it has led to more sensationalism, more outrageous or infuriating content, more algorithmic tricks, more of anything that might give a brand or a platform or a politician an edge, even as it leaves us harried, irritable and distracted.

- Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 07:14:22 (EST)

Slow Birding

Slow Birding: The Art and Science of Enjoying the Birds in Your Own Backyard, a new book by Joan Strassmann, is reviewed in the New York Times in "After a Frantic Year, It's Time for 'Slow Birding'" by Margaret Roach, who ends with:

As the Zen master instructed his students: "Attention! Attention!" That's good advice for the slow birder, too.

- Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 07:01:16 (EST)

Michael Gerson, R.I.P.

Michael Gerson (1964-2022) – articulate, thoughtful, kind, tolerant, devout, wise – wrote speeches for President George W Bush, beautiful and loving, alliterative and powerful. Gerson was also subject to severe depression, and in a 17 Feb 2019 sermon at the Washington National Cathedral he talked of his struggles and his faith. He concluded:

Even when strength fails, there is perseverance.
    And even when perseverance fails, there is hope.
        And even when hope fails, there is love.
            And love never fails.

(see Comments on Michael Gerson, R.I.P. for transcript of the sermon)

- Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 16:35:46 (EST)

2022-09-03 - Anacostia Parkrun and Sunrise Adventure

~4.4 mi @ ~19 min/mi

~3.1 mi @ ~13 min/mi

"Buggs and Little Benny" food truck / "District Walls" murals and signs / Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge / Nationals Baseball Park – 🦄 and 🐇 arrive at dawn and explore the neighborhoods on both sides of the Anacostia River. Then at 9am they both finish in the top 20 at the Anacostia Parkrun 5k – of 21! From the official results, K2 is 30:57 and Roadkill is 40:04.

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 07:37:40 (EST)

2022-09-02 - Matthew Henson Exploration

~3.6 mi @ ~14 min/mi

First to the North Pole / Locally born and raised / Matthew Henson roamed the Earth – Starting in the neighborhood near Connecticut Av, trot upstream along Turkey Branch in the Matthew Henson State Park, then return via streets and sidewalks, searching for cut-through connectors.


- Friday, November 18, 2022 at 06:25:19 (EST)

2022-09-01 - Liquid Death Delivery

~3.6 mi @ ~17 min/mi

I'm thinkin' about / Good hydration – 💦 Cool-for-summer midday loop brings four flavors of canned water to 🐻's home. A Brooklyn Sandwich Company ("Glatt Kosher") food truck is parked in the alley. Bombus impatiens, the common Eastern bumblebee, busies herself in harvesting nectar and carrying pollen among the crimson zinnias.


- Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 05:09:06 (EST)

Categories as Contexts

From Of All Their Possible Variations, by Agnes Cameron (2022-08-29), insightful observations about Category Theory:

... Emily Riehl describes categories as 'contexts' in which to think about a class of mathematical objects, with category theory itself providing a language to move between these vantage points. Continuing with the language metaphor, Barry Mazur describes objects and morphisms (two fundamental components of any category) as the 'nouns and verbs' of a mathematical sentence.

F William Lawvere and Stephen Schanuel's book Conceptual Mathematics uses diagrams as a primary representation from which to explore category theory. To demonstrate this, they frame a thought experiment of Galileo's–on understanding the flight path of a bird through space as a function of time–as an example of what category theorists call 'composition,' where simple representations (or 'maps') of the links between different mathematical spaces may be combined to reason about more complex objects. In this instance, they show how the flight path of a bird can be understood by composing the passage of time with the location of the bird's shadow on the ground, and its corresponding level in the air.

(cf Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), 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, November 16, 2022 at 06:09:30 (EST)

2022-08-31 - Bad Dad Joke 863

~3.3 mi @ ~17 min/mi

To Market, to Market, to ... / Buy ice cream on sticks! – On the way to the Kensington grocery store, from the ongoing "Tom's Bad Dad Jokes" whiteboard on Kingston Rd, a silly riddle for Day #863:

Why was the geometry teacher late for school?
They took the RHOMBUS!

... with the postscript, "Happy First Week of School!"


- Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 05:54:28 (EST)

2022-08-30 - Thunderstorms

~1.7 mi @ ~14 min/mi

Warm rain rumbles / As wet dog sculptures / Guard Green Park – Random-walk around the Gaithersburg neighborhood bounded by Great Seneca Highway, Sam Eig Highway, Muddy Branch Rd, and Diamondback Dr, on the way to Ted's Montana Grill for bison! 🦬 🦬


- Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 05:44:58 (EST)

2022-08-28 - Beantown Tour

~2.5 mi @ ~14 min/mi

Late Sunday afternoon is warm and humid for a meander on the east side of the tracks in Rockville. 🐰 suddenly discovers the MCRRC warehouse-office in an industrial park, along with "Tex's Place" (beer and deli).


- Tuesday, November 15, 2022 at 05:58:21 (EST)

Twelve Prune Audience

A delightful description of the late mathematician John Tukey's style, from a biographical essay by Peter McCullagh FRS ("John Wilder Tukey"):

John Wilder Tukey was a scientific generalist, a chemist by undergraduate training, a topologist by graduate training, an environmentalist by his work on Federal Government panels, a consultant to US corporations, a data analyst who revolutionized signal processing in the 1960s, and a statistician who initiated grand programmes whose effects on statistical practice are as much cultural as they are specific. He had a prodigious knowledge of the physical sciences, legendary calculating skills, an unusually sharp and creative mind, and enormous energy. He invented neologisms at every opportunity, among which the best known are 'bit' for binary digit, and 'software' by contrast with hardware, both products of his long association with Bell Telephone Labs. Among his legacies are the fast Fourier transformation, one degree of freedom for non-additivity, statistical allowances for multiple comparisons, various contributions to exploratory data analysis and graphical presentation of data, and the jack-knife as a general method for variance estimation. He popularized spectrum analysis as a way of studying stationary time series, he promoted exploratory data analysis at a time when the subject was not academically respectable, and he initiated a crusade for robust or outlier-resistant methods in statistical computation.


My first recollection of Tukey comes from a 1977 visit to London, when Tukey was invited to give a seminar at Imperial College. I was a graduate student at the time, and Tukey was well known to all the students, if only by his colossal reputation. A sense of excitement and curiosity was detectable among the staff and graduate students because this was not an ordinary seminar. An extra-large parade of local luminaries occupied the front row, and the graduate students as usual were safely ensconced in the rear. After his introduction, Tukey ambled to the podium, a great bear of a man dressed in baggy pants and a black knitted shirt. These might once have been a matching pair, but the vintage was such that it was hard to tell. An array of coloured pens bulged from his shirt pocket. These, I later learned, are essential tools for data analysis Tukey style.

Carefully and deliberately, a list of headings was chalked on the blackboard. The words came too, not many, like overweight parcels, delivered at a slow unfaltering pace. For the most part, the words were familiar individually, but as phrases they seemed strangely obscure. What did they mean? Was it English? I had no idea, but I was only a graduate student. Surely someone must know, someone in the front row. The list was not long, but seemed to take a long time to write. When it was complete, Tukey turned to face the audience and the podium, a long desk of the type used for demonstrating chemistry or physics experiments. 'Comments, queries, suggestions?' he asked the audience, each word seeming to take a full minute to deliver. As he waited for a response, he clambered onto the podium and manoeuvred until he was sitting cross-legged facing the audience. This activity must have taken a full minute, but there was still no response. As he sat there in a perfectly relaxed Buddha pose, it became apparent that Tukey was in no hurry to deliver his message, whatever it was. He seemed no more ill at ease than if he were at the beach or a baseball game. We in the audience sat like spectators at the zoo waiting for the great bear to move or say something. But the great bear appeared to be doing the same thing, and the feeling was not comfortable. How long could this go on, we wondered. After a long while, as if to confirm the position, he extracted from his pocket a bag of dried prunes and proceeded to eat them in silence, one by one. The war of nerves continued ... four prunes, five prunes.... How many prunes would it take to end the silence? The situation demanded leadership, so we looked anxiously to the front row for relief. Still no response ... eight prunes, nine prunes.... Several prunes later he had had enough, so he passed the remainder in silence to the would-be audience, now spectators. After what seemed like an eternity, someone from the front row asked a safe question: 'John, could you explain what you mean by such and such.'

That was all that was required, and the seminar then continued relatively uneventfully with active participation from the front row. As I later came to understand, anyone who thought that the speaker might cave in first did not know John Tukey. The prunes undoubtedly had a simple dietary explanation, but to some in the audience it seemed that he had instituted his own private classification of seminar audiences, and we were a 12-prune audience.

(cf KWICS, Chinks, and Chunks (2000-01-31), John Tukey (2000-07-31), ...)

- Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 06:27:15 (EST)

2022-08-27 - Locust Hill Estates and Kensington Parkrun

~3.9 mi @ ~19 min/mi

~3.1 mi @ ~11 min/mi

With 🦄 explore a new Bethesda neighborhood (Locust Hill Estates, bounded by the Capital Beltway, Rockville Pike, and Cedar Lane) and meet Yuma (a friendly 15 year old puppy!) twice as our path meanders. Then, at the Parkrun 5k #168, finish both last and first in the male 65-69 year age group, since comrade 🐻 had a recent birthday and graduated to the next cohort. Come in a few seconds behind fast-and-friendly Malynda Chizek Frouard, who pushes a twin stroller; official time 35:05 for 41st place (of 56 total finishers) – mostly jogging but with two major walk breaks in the warm and humid final mile. 🥵

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 06:08:18 (EST)

2022-08-26 - Spicy Thai

~2.8 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Meander midday downtown to pick up Drunken Noodles, Papaya Salad, and Mango Sticky Rice on a hot-and-humid Friday.


- Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 05:55:45 (EST)

2022-08-25 - Twinbrook Trail

~2.5 mi @ ~14 min/mi

          Randy Caruso
(July 4, 1955 - August 23, 2014)

This plaque commemorates the life of Randy Caruso. Widely accepted as the "Mayor of Twinbrook" during the early 1970's, Randy greeted everyone with a warm smile and a friendly handshake He had a positive impact on many who grew up in the area. Those who knew Randy will never forget him.

Diagnosed with William's Syndrome at an early age, Randy broke down barriers and changed the way many people viewed those who are differently abled. Randy was a gregarious and kind friend who made everyone realize that we are all special in our own way. He was an ambassador of love and joy, and a cherished citizen of our community.

Randy frequented this very path to and from the many community events he attended – whether he was walking or riding his bike, "Silver."

A loving plaque honors Randy Caruso in Rockcrest Park, near the Rockcrest Community Center. A trail leads there from the Twinbrook Community Recreation Center through the woods and along small streams by Aleutian Ave.


- Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 08:10:36 (EST)

2022-08-24 - Silver Cock's Comb

~3.2 mi @ ~17 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/arty/Bee_Silver-cocks-comb_Celosia-argentea_2022-08-24.jpg Fiery fountain / For bees to sip / Celosia argentea / Scarlet spikes

Walk the neighborhood to fetch fried fresh fish from Hunan City on a warm summer afternoon; see 2021-10-21 - Celosia Argentea for similar flowers seen later last year.


- Friday, November 11, 2022 at 13:07:50 (EST)

Lessons on Relieving Anxiety

Don't Worry: 48 Lessons on Relieving Anxiety from a Zen Buddhist Monk by Shunmyo Masuno (2022, translated by Allison Markin Powell) is a short book with flashes of wisdom – but it suffers from too much negativity, too much mundanity, too much silliness in its stories, too much narrow advice about corporate office-work (getting promoted or fired, delegating or volunteering, getting credit or getting ignored, ...), and too much argumentation about arguing. Maybe a symptom of the problem is excessive use of the word "Don't", starting with the title and persisting thereafter? 🍂

Nonetheless, there is great goodness within Don't Worry, as hinted by the Table of Contents:

PART ONE: Reduce, let go, leave behind. – The Zen way of keeping anxiety and worry at bay

1. Don't delude yourself. (Zen teaches us not to compare ourselves.)
2. Focus on "now." (This is about cherishing ourselves.)
3. Don't burden yourself or drag yourself down. (Create a spot in your living space where your spirit can settle.)
4. Pare down your belongings. (It will lighten both your mind and your body.)
5. Just be, as you are. (Don't focus on things you have no control over.)
6. Take off your colored glasses. (This will eliminate ninety percent of your worries about personal relationships.)
7. Be gracious. (Be quick to defer, regardless of your status or position.)
8. Recognize limitations. (We can work only within our own abilities.)

PART TWO: Concentrate only on things you can achieve here and now. – By doing so, you'll stop thinking about unnecessary things.

9. Reconsider the obvious. (You'll realize the happiness to be found in the present moment.)
10. Don't rush, don't panic. (Once a day, make sure to stand still.)
11. Respond positively. (It's okay to feel down, but get yourself up again soon.)
12. Cherish the morning. (The best way to create mental space)
13. Live by your own standards. (Don't be swayed by other people's values.)
14. Don't seek out the unnecessary. (Stop bingeing on information.)
15. Shine wherever you find yourself. (If not now, when?)
16. Don't go against your feelings. (This is how to be unfettered by things.)
17. Make your evenings calm. (Late at night is not the time to make big decisions.)

PART THREE: Step away from competition and things will fall into place. – "Everyone is their own person, and I am who I am."

18. Don't fixate on victory or defeat. (It doesn't matter whether you win or lose.)
19. Keep at it, slow and steady. (Do this before you envy others' talents.)
20. Experience gratitude. (What you can accomplish all by yourself doesn't amount to much.)
21. Use the right words. (Words possess awesome power.)
22. Let young people take charge. (Your turn will surely come around.)
23. Accept your circumstances, whatever they may be. (Regardless of whether they are favorable or adverse)
24. Do today's things today. (The secret to feeling unconstrained in life)
25. Don't simply run away. (Failure doesn't mean your life is over.)
26. Be more tolerant. (You be you, and let others be themselves.)
27. Go with the flow. (Solitude is fine, but isolation is not.)
28. Don't talk just for the sake of talking. (Opt instead for a "cordial silence.")
29. Adjust your breathing. (The Zen way of breathing that alleviates frustration and worry)
30. Change the "air" in your home. (Do this first thing, as soon as you wake up in the morning.)

PART FOUR: Surprising tips for improving relationships – How to form good connections and let go of bad ones

31. Cherish your connections. (It's no accident that you happened to meet these people.)
32. Make good connections. (How to create an upward spiral of good people in your life)
33. Yield to others. (One of the best relationship secrets is "After you.")
34. Don't wield "logic." (It's important for everyone to save face.)
35. Spend ten minutes a day in nature. (Find the moment when your spirit will suddenly be liberated.)
36. Make people want to see you again. (The Zen way of cultivating charisma)
37. Admit errors right away. (Not only in words, but make the effort to convey this emotionally as well.)
38. Don't hesitate to ask for help. (Someone will be there to lend a hand.)
39. Be a good listener. (Relationships are about give-and-take.)
40. Don't base decisions on profits and losses. (Relationships that aren't based on personal gain will shine of their own accord.)

PART FIVE: Change how you worry about things and your life will change for the better. – On money, aging, death, and more

41. Money (The desire for more only makes everything harder.)
42. Getting Older (The more you're able to forgive, the happier you'll be.)
43. Old Age (Zen teachings for maintaining your appearance, your posture, your breathing . . .)
44. Love (Even in matters of love, moderation is just right.)
45. Marriage (Words of appreciation make a good relationship.)
46. Children (Helicopter parenting plants seeds of worry.)
47. Death (We should entrust our dying to the Buddha.)
48. One's End (What words will you be remembered by?)

... many suggestions to think about – best quotes to follow!

(cf Don't Panic (2010-11-17), It's Not So Bad (2012-03-13), Without Anxiety about Imperfection (2015-05-21), Moments of Mindfulness] (2016-09-15), Present in Every Moment (2019-11-25), Worry, Stress, Anxiety (2020-03-04), For Positive Thinking (2022-02-07), ...)

- Friday, November 11, 2022 at 08:29:51 (EST)

2022-08-23 - Glenmont Forest

~2.3 mi @ ~14 min/mi

Trippy Tacos / Pupusas / Glenmont village / Four-point buck!

Weiseman Rd leads east-by-northeast to a block of Glenmont Local Park, a tangled woods on the south side of Randolph Rd near Wheaton High School. The "Glenmont Greenway Trail" runs from the Metro station for a few blocks along busy Georgia Ave.


- Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 05:47:28 (EST)

2022-08-22 - Matthew Henson

~2.5 mi @ ~13 min/mi

Cabin boy explores the world / Learns to read, write, navigate / Helps survey Nicaragua for a canal / Lives in Greenland for a year with the Inuit / Reaches the North Pole, or near enough / Matthew Henson, 1866-1955, R.I.P

A marker near the east end of the Matthew Henson Trail shares the local hero's history. Monday afternoon's meander finds new paths through Layhill Village Local park.


- Monday, November 07, 2022 at 05:46:35 (EST)

2022-08-20 - Parkrun 5k PB

~3.1 mi @ ~11 min/mi

Wee bees nuzzle / Cardinal flowers / Answering the call / Of scarlet blooms / Their irresistible lure / And inevitable lust / For incandescent life Cardinal flowers and bee
Cardinal flowers and beeApparently staying up until 2:15am the night before a race – and eating a Big Mac just before retiring – is highly advantageous, as is wearing lighter-weight shoes, and doing interval training at the track in prior weeks.

Today's Kensington Parkrun #167 result: 36th place among 51 finishers, 22nd of 27 males, 1st of 2 males 65-69 years old, official gun time 33:55 – a 3 minute improvement in Personal Best!


- Sunday, November 06, 2022 at 06:39:00 (EST)

Systems Thinking in a Nutshell

Comrade Dr Fred Robinson offers a brilliantly simple test to identify people who, like breathing, have learned to effortlessly think in systems:

Do you communicate effectively
        using metaphors?

(cf Thinking in Systems (2017-11-03), 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), Seven Habits of Highly Effective Systems Thinkers (2021-03-04), Learningful Life (2021-07-02), ...)

- Saturday, November 05, 2022 at 05:50:03 (EDT)

2022-08-19 - New Mural Taking Shape

~1.9 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Like a paint-by-numbers canvas / Or a giant's coloring book / On the side of a two-story building / Lines prepare the pattern / For an artist on a cherry-picker

Friday afternoon's survey of Wheaton finds a front-yard Buddha statue surrounded by flowers under a wooden shelter, as well as geometric designs for fresh office building art near Georgia Avenue.


- Saturday, November 05, 2022 at 05:36:22 (EDT)

2022-08-18 - 4 x 400 Meters

~2.5 mi @ ~13 min/mi

Four fast laps / Sub-ten pace / Climb the stairs / End with grace

Thursday afternoon at the Silver Spring International Middle School, enjoy the contrast of speed and strength; admire the compass rose on the ground and the primitivist-style mural on a roll-up corrugated metal door. Crescens Scientia says the old Montgomery Blair High School crest – "Let Knowledge Grow".


- Friday, November 04, 2022 at 06:07:08 (EDT)

2022-08-17 - Artisanal Sea Salt

~3.5 mi @ ~17 min/mi

The Trojan War / The Battle of Lepanto / Lord Byron's death – / At the Greek town of Messolonghi / Where now salt from the sea / Is sifted and sold

Meander to Kensington to pick up an order from the Mastiha Bakery. Painted stones advise "You Are Limitless", "Enjoy the Little Things", and "Your Smile Lights Up the Room".


- Thursday, November 03, 2022 at 05:30:17 (EDT)

2022-08-15 - Hike to Kensington

~2.7 mi @ ~17 min/mi

New tar / Too hot / To lie
On the street / In front of / The steamroller
A garden frog / Sits in lotus / Like a buddha
Half-smiling / Accepting / One with All


- Wednesday, November 02, 2022 at 05:47:46 (EDT)

2022-08-14 - MCRRC Grooving Woodstock 7k XC

~4.4 mi @ ~15 min/mi

Dew on the grass / Sun in the sky / Hills in the woods / Paisley tie-dye

Silly 60's humor sets the stage for Sunday morning at the Woodstock Equestrian Park. MCRRC's "Grooving' Woodstock" cross-country race mile 1 introduces Loretta Doan – who has run the JFK 50M and the Catoctin 50k, knows comrade Stephanie Fonda, and is training in hopes of doing a 100 miler some day! – and friendly Ainsley Gibson. Soon they speed ahead as walk breaks begin. All goes well, thanks to volunteers including friends Gayatri Datta and Bob Yarchoan.

Official result: 68th place of 78 finishers, 42/47 males, 4/4 male age 65-69, gun time 1:03:01.98, pace 14:30 min/mi (last year's time was 55:11)
MCRRC Grooving Woodstock XC


- Tuesday, November 01, 2022 at 06:37:00 (EDT)

2022-08-13 - Parkrun PB

~3.1 mi @ ~11.9 min/mi

After two months trying
A proud Personal Best
By twelve sweaty seconds!

On a cool and humid summer Saturday morning, "dash" at slightly-sub-12 pace to do the 166th Kensington Parkrun 5k in 36:55, 41st place of 56 runners, a minute in front of 🌸 and 🐻. Lavender-and-white Spiny Spider Flower (Cleome spinosa) blooms by the trail. 🦀 & 🦄 soar far ahead like eagles on the breeze to finish together in 31:32.


- Monday, October 31, 2022 at 07:25:30 (EDT)

Math Without Numbers

Milo Beckman's little book Math Without Numbers explains a lot of good mathematics with a dash of good humor. The table of contents summarizes the scope:

Of course, Math Without Numbers really has lots of numbers in it – just not visibly-explicitly. It successfully shares some deep concepts (with appropriate asides and caveats via a few footnotes) along with puzzles and cute cartoons. And the final parable, connecting Math to Science, works surprisingly well!

(cf No Concepts At All (2011-02-22), Key to the Treasure (2004-04-23), Cartooniverse (2011-06-05), Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Beyond Infinity (2017-07-24), Mathematical Illumination (2017-08-07), Ultimate Abstraction (2017-08-24), Many Worlds of Math (2019-03-15), ...)

- Sunday, October 30, 2022 at 07:28:41 (EDT)

2022-08-12 - Two Track Laps

~2.3 mi @ ~13 min/mi

Take two loops around the track at Northwood High School ("David J Kaplan Stadium"), then cut through the fence and around the soccer field to circumnavigate the neighborhood along Loxford Terrace.


- Saturday, October 29, 2022 at 07:02:47 (EDT)

2022-08-11 - Bees and Butterflies

~3.9 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Trek through Rosemary Hills and along East-West Highway to pick up barbecue for dinner, with pauses to photograph insects busy on the blossoms.


- Saturday, October 29, 2022 at 06:56:50 (EDT)

2022-08-10 - Walter Reed

~3.0 mi @ ~14 min/mi

Survey the Shepherd Park neighborhood of DC, with a cut-through across the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus, now under reconstruction with nice homes. Four painted penguins guard a dry fountain in front of the main building.


- Friday, October 28, 2022 at 05:41:14 (EDT)

2022-08-09 - No Limits

~2.6 mi @ ~18 min/mi

"No Limits" says the faux license plate on the playground toy car. Enjoy a warm midday hike to Donut King in Kensington, to pick up a Queen's Grill Special with ciabatta, to go – for the Queen of the House!


- Friday, October 28, 2022 at 05:33:38 (EDT)

2022-08-08 - New Cut-throughs in Highland View

~3.0 mi @ ~14 min/mi

"He's a good dog!" 🐇 reassures the embarrassed owner of a big barking canine, during a hot evening ramble through Sligo Bennington Park, Seven Oaks Neighborhood Park, and other greenery near the Silver Spring International Middle School.


- Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 07:19:12 (EDT)

2022-08-07 - Warm Chicken Wings

~2.9 mi @ ~17 min/mi

On a sweltering summer evening, meander around the neighborhood and pick up DaVinci wings on the way home.


- Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 07:14:22 (EDT)

2022-08-06 - Walkers

~3.5 mi @ ~23 min/mi

At sunrise meet 🦘 & 🦄 for a walk through the woods of Rockville Central Park, where we find a new path to Norbeck Rd and Gude Dr – perhaps an unfinished Scout project? On the way home the 2013 song "The Walker" by neosoul band Fitz and the Tantrums plays on the radio: "... I walk to the sound of my own drum / It goes, they go, we go ...".


- Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 06:38:31 (EDT)

2022-08-05 - Meet Me at the Triangles

~4.1 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Walk to Wheaton to get banh mi & crunchy noodle soup from Mi La Cay, then take the bus home. An angular shiny silvery sculpture – "Meet Me at the Triangles" – decorates the plaza by the Metro station.


- Monday, October 24, 2022 at 07:23:41 (EDT)

2022-08-04 - Summer in the City

~3.2 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Hot afternoon to shamble downtown in mid-afternoon to pick up dinner and ride the bus home. Even the naughty-beautiful hibiscus blossoms droop in the swelter. 🌺 🥵 🔥


- Monday, October 24, 2022 at 06:49:17 (EDT)

2022-08-03 - Bad Dad Joke 835

~4.1 mi @ ~17 min/mi

If Martin Short married Shelley Long,
would their child be a Medium?

Find a new cut-through hidden sidewalk to Kensington Parkway, and startle a doe and fawn in the woods by the creek, with temps in the 90s and soggy-high humidity. Mission: get ice cream and hot dogs at Safeway. Method: space-blanket insulation in a protective bag for the free county bus ride home.


- Monday, October 24, 2022 at 06:29:31 (EDT)

2022-08-02 - Crispy Salmon and Papaya Salad

~1.0 mi @ ~19 min/mi

Little loop in downtown Silver Spring on a warm and humid afternoon.


- Monday, October 24, 2022 at 06:24:13 (EDT)

2022-08-01 - Bridge to Understanding

~2.8 mi @ ~14 min/mi

Wheaton Regional Park dash to prepare for a big burrito from Trippy Tacos. Bees buzz, and a sign in Brookside Gardens explains:

                          1963 - 2012
                 50th Anniversary
 The Tradition of Friendship Continues
       Between Girl Scouts of Japan
         and Girl Scouts of America


- Sunday, October 23, 2022 at 20:32:51 (EDT)

Peter Schjeldahl, R.I.P.

An obituary "Peter Schjeldahl, New York Art Critic With a Poet's Voice, Dies at 80" by William Grimes shares glimpses of Schjeldahl's generous, positive attitude, including:

"I have no patience for bitterness of any kind," he told Interview magazine in 2014. "Even to be involved with art is to inhabit such a level of privilege in life."

... so wise, to recognize one's own blessings! And others celebrated Peter Schjeldahl as a person, including film critic Richard Brody [1]:

Saddened beyond words by the passing of Peter Schjeldahl, whom I looked up to with astonishment, for the power of his observations, the vitality of his writing, and the ever-youthfulness of his enthusiasm; he was also the most invigorating of colleagues, stopping by my desk and in a couple of quick, incisive sentences, setting off a veritable pinball machine of surprising and far-reaching ideas. Also, big Mets fan, as we long commiserated.

... and Ben Brantley [2]:

I never knew anyone who was so consistently alert to, and thrilled by, big ideas and the surprises of new perspectives. To go through a gallery or museum with him was to see with the unjaded eyes of an incredibly learned child. The brilliant Peter Schjeldahl has died.

(cf "A Look Back at Peter Schjeldahl's Visionary Criticism" in The New Yorker, and Art Newspaper (2001-08-04), Artistic Bequests (2004-05-26), Undressed Art (2005-02-01), Jerk on One End (2009-12-24), Seeking Negative Space (2016-04-21), ...)

- Saturday, October 22, 2022 at 17:55:23 (EDT)

2022-07-31 - Tonya Bunny Fairy

~3.5 mi @ ~17 min/mi

With 🥃 & 🐰, ramble around Garrett Park and discover a front-yard fairy garden!


- Saturday, October 22, 2022 at 12:24:44 (EDT)

2022-07-30 - Halo and Dislocation

~2.6 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Saturday afternoon walk from Reston Hospital Center (where BFF Amy continues to recover from surgery) to the Metro (Whiele-Reston East Station) includes a clumsy silly stumble, fall, and scrapes on knee, elbow, and hands. Thank goodness a dislocated right pinkie pops back into place painlessly! The only regret is not taking photos of the finger before fixing it! 🙃 High cirrus clouds create an icy-bright halo ring around the sun. At Reston Station a statue by Lorenzo Quinn titled "The Force of Nature" depicts a strong woman in control of the Earth.


- Friday, October 21, 2022 at 05:27:29 (EDT)

2022-07-29 - Reston Hospital Center

~2.5 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Walkabout on the W&OD Trail on a cloudy afternoon as a buddy has neck surgery in Reston Hospital Center!


- Thursday, October 20, 2022 at 06:31:23 (EDT)

Geologic Time

From Annals of the Former World by John McPhee, an awesome perspective:

In like manner, geologists will sometimes use the calendar year as a unit to represent the time scale, and in such terms the Precambrian runs from New Year's Day until well after Halloween. Dinosaurs appear in the middle of December and are gone the day after Christmas. The last ice sheet melts on December 31st at one minute before midnight, and the Roman Empire lasts five seconds. With your arms spread wide again to represent all time on earth, look at one hand with its line of life. The Cambrian begins in the wrist, and the Permian Extinction is at the outer end of the palm. All of the Cenozoic is in a fingerprint, and in a single stroke with a medium-grained nail file you could eradicate human history. Geologists live with the geologic scale. Individually, they may or may not be alarmed by the rate of exploitation of the things they discover, but, like the environmentalists, they use these repetitive analogies to place the human record in perspective–to see the Age of Reflection, the last few thousand years, as a small bright sparkle at the end of time. They often liken humanity's presence on earth to a brief visitation from elsewhere in space, its luminous, explosive characteristics consisting not merely of the burst of population in the twentieth century but of the whole residence of people on earth–a single detonation, resembling nothing so much as a nuclear implosion with its successive neutron generations, whole generations following one another once every hundred-millionth of a second, temperatures building up into the millions of degrees and stripping atoms until bare nuclei are wandering in electron seas, pressures building up to a hundred million atmospheres, the core expanding at five million miles an hour, expanding in a way that is quite different from all else in the universe, unless there are others who also make bombs.

(cf Edge of the Universe (1999-06-08), Relativity Plus Astrophysics (2000-03-29), Cosmic Context (2000-11-10), Universal Knowns (2002-06-13) Essential Knowledge (2005-06-20), Seeing Nature (2005-07-19), Assembling California (2007-05-30), Our Job for the Rest of Our Life (2015-07-18), Play Big (2018-08-31), Operating System of the Universe (2019-10-17), Reading the Book of Nature (2021-09-10), Webb Space Telescope (2022-01-29), ...)

- Tuesday, October 18, 2022 at 06:47:01 (EDT)

2022-07-27 - Over the Creek and through the Woods

~2.5 mi @ ~18 min/mi

To DaVinci for chicken wings, via new old paths in National Park Seminary's overgrown brush.


- Tuesday, October 18, 2022 at 06:17:04 (EDT)

2022-07-26 - New NPS Garden Path

~1.7 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Under the bridge at National Park Seminary, connecting Linden Lane to the Newcastle Avenue parking lot, a trail is under construction, perhaps to be part of wetlands erosion control. Graceful arches curve and contrast with angular corners.


- Monday, October 17, 2022 at 06:29:08 (EDT)

2022-07-24 - Mad Dogs and

~4.0 mi @ ~15 min/mi

~1.5 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Set out early on a warm and humid morning, \xF0\x9F\x90\xBBing \xF0\x9F\x8D\xBA to \xF0\x9F\x90\xBBy. Greet a young gentleman along the way: "Sir, that's a great skateboard – the tag is sticking up on the back of your t-shirt – we have to look GOOD, you know!" Then in early afternoon on one of the hottest days of the year, miss the bus by 20 seconds, cancel plan to walk downtown, and instead head straight for the grocery store (ice cream!) and Hunan City (fried fresh fish & french fries!).

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Sunday, October 16, 2022 at 16:14:55 (EDT)

2022-07-23 - Kensington Parkrun Volunteer

~2.7 mi @ ~18 min/mi

~1.4 mi @ ~19 min/mi

Walk to Kensington Parkrun on a warm and humid morning, serve as volunteer timer at the finish line – then meander to downtown Kensington to pick up Saturday brunch and ride the bus home!

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Saturday, October 15, 2022 at 06:48:31 (EDT)

2022-07-22 - Incidentaloma Exam

~0.7 mi @ ~17 min/mi

~1.3 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Miss the bus by moments, so brisk-walk to Forest Glen Metro; learn a new word from the Kaiser physician at the Capitol Hill clinic: "Incidentaloma" – something discovered accidentally during an exam (in this case, dental x-ray) for a completely different reason. Not a serious problem, thank goodness! Walkabout afterwards discovers neat door handles and murals.

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Thursday, October 13, 2022 at 05:56:50 (EDT)

2022-07-20 - Chicken Wings

~1.4 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Bees buzz about blossoms; take the long way to pick up late light lunch.


- Thursday, October 13, 2022 at 05:48:52 (EDT)

2022-07-19 - Franchise Exercise

~4.1 mi @ ~18 min/mi

¡Yo voté! A humid afternoon along Rock Creek Trail leads to the Maryland ballot drop-off box at the Gwendolyn Coffield Community Center (Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville Local Park).


- Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at 06:38:52 (EDT)

2022-07-18 - Car in the Shop

~1.9 mi @ ~18 min/mi

~2.4 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Drop off the car for a week of body repairs, and on the way home pick up breakfast bialys and hamantash; in the afternoon, photograph flowers (and bees!) on the way to get pastrami, salami, bologna, etc.

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Monday, October 10, 2022 at 06:47:44 (EDT)


A clue in the 7 Oct 2022 New York Times crossword, "Animal that the Aztecs called ayotochtli, or "turtle-rabbit", leads to the 2015-2021 lovely labor-of-love blog "A Book of Creatures", where the ayotochtli entry reveals:

Ayotochtli, "tortoise-rabbit", is Nahuatl for armadillo. Two somewhat mangled forms of the word appears in Topsell's work.

Topsell attributes the description of the Aiochtochth or Aiotochth (also known in Spanish as Armato and Contexto) to Cardanus. It is found in Mexico, near the Alvaradus River. An aiotochth is no bigger than a cat and has the snout of a mallard, the feet of a hedgehog, and a very long neck. It is covered by a segmented, lobster-like shell resembling the trappings of a horse. It protects itself with that shell such that neither its head nor neck are clearly visible, with only the ears sticking out. Some of these creatures were brought back to London gardens where they were put to use destroying worms.

The entry for the aiochtochth immediately follows that of the Tatus or Armadillo, and Topsell claims they are comparable.

... where "Topsell" refers to the 1658 book The History of Four-footed Beasts. Will wonders of Nature (and our words for them) never cease?!

(cf "The Beer That Made Armadillos Famous" subtitled "The secret of premium beers is that they all taste pretty much the same. What makes people buy them is image–and Lone Star entered the seventies desperately needing a new one." (Texas Monthly, Feb 1982), ...)

- Sunday, October 09, 2022 at 07:54:22 (EDT)

2022-07-17 - National Ice Cream Day

~51 min @ ~14 min/mi

Join 🐻 & 🥃 to begin their ramble along Sligo Creek, then branch off so they can run downstream.


- Sunday, October 09, 2022 at 07:18:47 (EDT)

2022-07-16 - Kensington Parkrun 5k Tail Walker

~3.1 mi @ ~16 min/mi

Finish last – on purpose! – at Parkrun 5k #162 along Rock Creek Trail just outside the Capital Beltway in Kensington. The "Tail Walker" job is to sweep the course, make sure no one is left lost or alone, and cheer the runners as they dash by. Mission Accomplished!


- Saturday, October 08, 2022 at 21:36:36 (EDT)

2022-07-15 - Mango, Banana, and Chocolate Ice Cream

~2.4 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Doctor's Orders: ice cream! Enjoy a cold dessert on a warm and humid day during a neighborhood walkabout, post-dental-surgery.


- Saturday, October 08, 2022 at 21:29:21 (EDT)

2022-07-14 - No More Wisdom Teeth

~4.2 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Thursday morning after the dental surgeon yanks out the last wisdom tooth, stop on the way home at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park and walk the Maryland Underground Railroad Trail, with a mouth full of gauze to plug the empty socket. See the trail map and brochure for information. Return via Norwood Road. Pause mid-loop to see "The Sandy Spring", from which the nearby town gets its name.


- Saturday, October 08, 2022 at 21:25:26 (EDT)

2022-07-13 - National French Fry Day

~2.6 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Day of the Dead walkway tiles are new in the neighborhood. Lily and gladiolus bloom in front yard gardens.


- Thursday, October 06, 2022 at 06:10:43 (EDT)

Keats, A Brief Life

Lucasta Miller's Keats: A Brief Life in Nine Poems and One Epitaph is a clever combination of literature and history, analysis and explanation. Aside from some slightly-distracting asides (when Miller takes the first person stage and describes her own visits to places where John Keats lived and wrote) the book quietly and brilliantly untangles the complex work and convoluted life of a complicated person. The chosen chapter-verses are:

  1. "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer"
  2. "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever" (from Endymion)
  3. Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil
  4. "The Eve of St. Agnes"
  5. "La Belle Dame sans Merci. A Ballad"
  6. "Ode to a Nightingale"
  7. "Ode on a Grecian Urn"
  8. "To Autumn"
  9. "Bright star"

The book ends with "Epitaph: Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water". Among the best bits to remember are Miller's observations in Chapter 5:

... The most crucial of Keats's "speculations," when it comes to understanding his poetry, remains the comment he made in a letter to his brothers, written in December 1817, in which he jotted down an idea prompted by a conversation he had just had with Dilke after which "several things dovetailed in my mind":

& at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare posessed [sic] so enormously–I mean Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.

Keats never again repeated the phrase "negative capability," although it has since become a watchword in Romantic literary studies and beyond. Its heuristic value to later minds has, however, been incalculable, its resonance reaching across the centuries. Indeed, it has recently been the focus of an academic project exploring how we should define creativity, run by professional philosophers at Oxford and Cambridge.

What Keats meant by it remains, though, a little enigmatic. At one level, he was perhaps responding quite specifically to Shakespeare, whom he in fact mentioned in the same breath: to the way in which the playwright leaves his works studiously open-ended, impossible to pin down by a single interpretation, and therefore infinitely fertile. ...

In Chapter 7, Miller expands:

"Ode on a Grecian Urn" ultimately offers no definitive answer. It is indeed there to "tease us out of thought." It shows Keats using his by now astonishing verbal dexterity to hold art and grubby human reality in suspension. As Helen Vendler carefully puts it, with some understatement, "The attribution of truth to representational art, and the coupling, common in aesthetics, of the terms Truth and Beauty, as the desiderata of art, did not, for Keats, render the terms unproblematic." This ode tells us less about the abstract ideas of "beauty and truth" than about Keats's game-changing concept of "negative capability," as he challenges us, his readers, to take in his words without irritably reaching after fact or reason, while at the same time provoking us to do just that.

And beyond those philosophical comments there are amusing notes on matters of the time both bawdy and charming, e.g., from Chapter 9, "... an English gentleman would as soon think of picking the pocket of a dead comrade as of making public his love letters. ..." – said by Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke. Indeed!

(cf Seeking Negative Space (2016-04-21), ...)

- Wednesday, October 05, 2022 at 20:19:46 (EDT)

2022-07-12 - Beer, Bananas, and a Dramatic Storm

~2.4 mi @ ~17 min/mi

A torrential downpour strikes on the way home from the neighborhood grocery store!


- Wednesday, October 05, 2022 at 12:34:17 (EDT)

2022-07-11 - KenGar Circuit

~1.8 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Afternoon walkabout in the Kensington neighborhood of Kaiser Permanente – bright flowers and statuettes, and an endgame sprint!


- Wednesday, October 05, 2022 at 12:30:29 (EDT)

2022-07-10 - McLean Sunday Sunrise Bunnies and Buzzards

~5.3 mi @ ~16 min/mi

"Is that a Möbius Strip?" 🐰 emulates an Escher-print ant on the elementary school playground climbing-toy. Flags line the pathway as 🦄 leads the way to Starbucks for iced coffee at dawn.

"And we're just animals, walking around on a ball of rock circling a ball of hot gas hundreds of thousands times heavier – and our star is one among billions that are orbiting a black hole itself millions of times more massive than one of them – and our galaxy is one among trillions of galaxies ...".

A vulture perches atop a chimney while another guards a dumpster. We crouch to crawl under a chain and cut through the nursery, formerly a McDonalds, to sniff the basil and admire the blooms.

"And maybe our REAL JOB is to help nudge each other a bit toward balance?"


- Tuesday, October 04, 2022 at 21:22:30 (EDT)

2022-07-09 - Kensington Parkrun 5k

~3.1 mi @ ~13 min/mi

"It's a little technical ahead!" warns a runner. A huge fallen tree blocks both Rock Creek Trail & Beach Drive, and there's flooding from overnight storms. Kensington Parkrun Founder & RD Pam Marcus's game-day modified course is half a dozen repeats of a mostly-runnable half-mile segment, plus a bit – in the pouring rain! Remember: "Parkrun is about fun, and health, and being together!" 🐰 finishes in 33rd place of 34 official runners, time 45:03 officially. Lots of walk breaks!


- Tuesday, October 04, 2022 at 21:06:20 (EDT)

2022-07-07 - No Mi La Cay

~1.9 mi @ ~17 min/mi

What kind of carry-out restaurant is closed on Thursdays? Apparently Mi La Cay is, alas. Geese spread their wings and the Arcola Alligators' playground is empty.


- Tuesday, October 04, 2022 at 07:30:28 (EDT)

Resilience Training

In "Fall Is the Season for Building Mindfulness and Resilience" Erik Vance (New York Times, 2022 Sep 21) discusses the value of inner strength and awareness. He skips Keats's poem "To Autumn" and cites images from Shelley and Shakespeare of fall as a time of death and depression, anxiety and uncertainty. Perhaps, for some!

And autumn is an opportunity to mindfully work on self. Vance quotes Jelena Kecmanovic:

A massive amount of research has been showing that intolerance for distress, for discomfort, for impermanence, for uncertainty, predicts bad outcomes in the long run. ... It's the opposite of "I have assurance of how it's going to be in the next half an hour or next day or next year." It's like, in this moment I'm alive. And that's enough.

(cf Just One Thing (2012-12-02), Emotional Intelligence (2015-04-14), Sheryl Sandberg on the Hard Days & Comments on Sheryl Sandberg on the Hard Days (2016-05-22), 2016-05-21 - Personalization, Pervasiveness, Permanence (2016-06-05), Inner Strength Training (2016-07-05), Simply Deal with It (2016-09-07), Positive Thinking Techniques (2017-09-21), Family Narratives (2018-06-15), Resilience Skills (2020-12-14), Mantra - Together, Lucky, Loved (2021-11-06), Navigating Ambiguous Loss (20212-12-28), Build Resilience (2022-02-10), ...)

- Monday, October 03, 2022 at 06:58:09 (EDT)

2022-07-06 - Warm and Humid and Good

~3.0 mi @ ~19 min/mi

Meander to Mi Rancho in downtown Silver Spring for taquitos, on a sweltering day with temps in the 90s; free bus ride home!


- Monday, October 03, 2022 at 06:39:48 (EDT)

2022-07-05 - Dominos for Salad and Sandwich

~1.8 mi @ ~19 min/mi

Blossoms raindrop-speckled / By afternoon showers / Decorate the sidewalk.


- Saturday, October 01, 2022 at 12:09:27 (EDT)

2022-07-04 - Empathy

~4.6 mi @ ~18 min/mi

~1.3 mi @ ~15 min/mi

"Touch of Grey" plays on the radio, on the way to a Kensington coffee-trek with 🦄. Today's theme is Empathy and how vital (and difficult) it often is. In new shoes, slip-sliding through the woods, we find the rope-swing branch broken off and lying on the ground (cf 2022-06-20 - Swing in the Woods). Then join 🐻 & 🥃 for a quick out-and-back along Rock Creek Trail.

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Saturday, October 01, 2022 at 06:12:41 (EDT)

2022-07-03 - Fish and French Fries

~2.4 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Hunan City is quiet on a Sunday evening; little Lego people wave Ukrainian flags as they guard a mailbox.


- Saturday, October 01, 2022 at 06:05:37 (EDT)

I-less Rule

How to save a lot of time in reading letters-to-the-editor and many other publications? Stop reading when you see the words "I", "me", or "mine"!

(cf Unselfing (2009-01-14), Clinging Is Optional (2013-08-21), ...)

- Friday, September 30, 2022 at 20:43:32 (EDT)

2022-07-02 - Triple Saturday Treats

~2.6 mi @ ~20 min/mi

~3.1 mi @ ~12.4 min/mi

~2.9 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Enjoy Saturday, first visiting Fort DeRussy and the Rock Creek Park stables with 🦄, then the Kensington Parkrun 5k #160 in an official time of 39:05, and that afternoon managing a brisk walk to the Silver Spring Public Library.

(trackfile & trackfile & trackfile)

- Friday, September 30, 2022 at 20:32:11 (EDT)

2022-07-01 - Wheaton Regional Park

~1.3 mi @ ~26 min/mi

Meander through the woods of the big Wheaton Regional Park with 🧪, and see the tiny train in action!


- Friday, September 30, 2022 at 20:23:46 (EDT)

2022-06-30 - Beyond the Silencer

~2.1 mi @ ~14 min/mi

Adventure! – new paths meander through the woods, branching west from Rock Creek Trail near milepost 9, where the hills known as "The Silencer" challenge speedy runners. Sun glimmers off treetops, baby bunnies scamper, robins flit, and woodpeckers hammer near Parklawn Community Garden.


- Friday, September 30, 2022 at 20:19:49 (EDT)

2022-06-29 - Too Many Good Fences

~3.1 mi @ ~15 min/mi

Run 4 laps at the Rockville High School track (~2:15 each) with half-lap cooldown walks between – more speed work is desperately needed, obviously! – then explore neighborhood in search of holes in fences, alas without success ...


- Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 21:26:50 (EDT)

2022-06-28 - Baby Groot

~4.3 mi @ ~18 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Baby_Groot_2022-06-28.jpgTo the pharmacy – and, on the way, meander up to Kensington Heights and down again, past a garden where a little cute Groot statue rests ... and after picking up a prescription, on the bus home.


- Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 21:06:15 (EDT)

2022-06-27 - Fort DeRussy

~2.7 mi @ ~16 min/mi

On Monday afternoon, rediscover Fort DeRussy, according to the National Park Service marker:


and with additional details:

Built in 1861 to protect the Rock Creek Valley during the Civil War, Fort DeRussy's cannon fired a total of 109 projectiles into the northern countryside as 12,000-15,000 Confederate soldiers attacked the city under the command of Confederate General Jubal Anderson Early on July 11-12, 1864. During this two day battle (known as the Battle of Fort Stevens) Fort DeRussy aided the surrounding forts by providing the main suppressive fire to ensure a Union victory on the battlefield.

The largest piece of armament which Fort DeRussy utilized was the 100-Pound Parrott Rifle. This cannon, shown above at nearby Fort Totten, could hurl 100 pound projectiles several miles into the Maryland countryside. During the Battle of Fort Stevens, Fort DeRussy halted the Confederate advance into the city by firing this deadly and accurate cannon a total of 28 times.


- Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 19:51:54 (EDT)

2022-06-26 - Western Ridge and Valley Trails

~7.0 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Sunday morning, saluting the horses at the stable and pondering what "Full-stack Systems Thinking for Decision Insight!" might mean – perhaps a path from data, to policy, to transcending paradigms ...


- Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 19:43:26 (EDT)

Three Minute Warning

Steven Weinberg's book The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe reads quite well today, despite its 1977 (updated edition, 1988) pedigree. Thoughtful especially are the final words of the final chapters. From VI ("A Historical Diversion"):

This is often the way it is in physics–our mistake is not that we take our theories too seriously, but that we do not take them seriously enough. It is always hard to realize that these numbers and equations we play with at our desks have something to do with the real world. Even worse, there often seems to be a general agreement that certain phenomena are just not fit subjects for respectable theoretical and experimental effort. Gamow, Apher, and Herman deserve tremendous credit above all for being willing to take the early universe seriously, for working out what known physical laws have to say about the first three minutes. Yet even they did not take the final step, to convince the radio astronomers that they ought to look for a microwave radiation background. The most important thing accomplished by the ultimate discovery of the 3°K radiation background in 1965 was to force us all to take seriously the idea that there was an early universe.

I have dwelt on this missed opportunity because this seems to me to be the most illuminating sort of history of science. It is understandable that so much of the historiography of science deals with its successes, with serendipitous discoveries, brilliant deductions, or the great magical leaps of a Newton or an Einstein. But I do not think it is possible really to understand the successes of science without understanding how hard it is–how easy it is to be led astray, how difficult it is to know at any time what is the next thing to be done.

From Chapter VII ("The First One-Hundredth Second"):

To me, the most satisfying thing that has come out of these speculations about the very early universe is the possible parallel between the history of the universe and its logical structure. Nature now exhibits a great diversity of types of particles and types of interactions. Yet we have learned to look beneath this diversity, to try to see the various particles and interactions as aspects of a simple unified gauge field theory. The present universe is so cold that the symmetries among the different particles and interactions have been obscured by a kind of freezing; they are not manifest in ordinary phenomena, but have to be expressed mathematically, in our gauge field theories. That which we do now by mathematics was done in the very early universe by heat–physical phenomena directly exhibited the essential simplicity of nature. But no one was there to see it.

From Chapter VIII ("Epilogue: The Prospect Ahead"):

However all these problems may be resolved, and whichever cosmological model proves correct, there is not much of comfort in any of this. It is almost irresistible for humans to believe that we have some special relation to the universe, that human life is not just a more-or-less farcical outcome of a chain of accidents reaching back to the first three minutes, but that we were somehow built in from the beginning. As I write this I happen to be in an airplane at 30,000 feet, flying over Wyoming en route home from San Francisco to Boston. Below, the earth looks very soft and comfortable–fluffy clouds here and there, snow turning pink as the sun sets, roads stretching straight across the country from one town to another. It is very hard to realize that this all is just a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe. It is even harder to realize that this present universe has evolved from an unspeakable unfamiliar early condition, and faces a future extinction of endless cold or intolerable heat. The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.

But if there is no solace in the fruits of our research, there is at least some consolation in the research itself. Men and women are not content to comfort themselves with tales of gods and giants, or to confine their thoughts to the daily affairs of life; they also build telescopes and satellites and accelerators, and sit at their desks for endless hours working out the meaning of the data they gather. The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.

And from the Afterword ("Cosmology Since 1976"):

This work on the very early universe represents real progress but it is progress of a conceptual sort, only distantly related to observations of the present universe. We are today (in 1982) not much closer than we were in 1976 in understanding the origin of the structures that fill our universe: galaxies and clusters of galaxies. As we look out at the night sky, the great arc of the Milky Way and the faint luminous patch of the Andromeda Nebula continue to mock our ignorance.

(cf Edge of the Universe (1999-06-08), Cosmic Chaos (2001-04-14), Universal Knowns (2002-06-13), Four Golden Lessons (2021-08-06), ...)

- Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 21:32:45 (EDT)

2022-06-25 - Wheaton Walkabout and Parkrun 5k

~5.4 mi @ ~18 min/mi

~3.1 mi @ ~13 min/mi

Ramble around Wheaton Regional Park with 🧪 & 🦄, and then at the Kensington Parkrun join Pam & Sharon, doing 4:1::run:walk, for the second half of the race.

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 21:18:43 (EDT)

2022-06-24 - Friday Late Lunch

~2.6 mi @ ~19 min/mi

In Kensington pick up a poké bowl from Hibachi Express and tacos from Java Nation, and catch the bus home.


- Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 21:13:53 (EDT)

2022-06-23 - Wet Walk

~4.6 mi @ ~18 min/mi

A soggy ramble finds beer and sandwiches to bring home on the bus!


- Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 21:10:31 (EDT)

2022-06-21 - Taquitos y Tamales

~2.9 mi @ ~19 min/mi

"Good afternoon!" 🐰 greets the kids under the bridge by the train tracks, as they prepare to smoke and drink. The elementary school is almost demolished. Mi Rancho is always great!


- Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 21:07:23 (EDT)

2022-06-20 - Swing in the Woods

~5.6 mi @ ~16 min/mi

A swing dangles in the woods; rabbits and deer dash away; 🐻 & 🦄 & 🥃 & 🦢 & 🌸 gather at KenGar nine-ish to join in an unusual Monday morning ramble.


- Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 21:00:39 (EDT)

2022-06-19 - Tree Work, Hill Work, Roosevelt Island

~2.4 mi @ ~16 min/mi

~1.8 mi @ ~29 min/mi

On Sunday morning a big crane and a chainsaw gang take down a partially-fallen tree after yesterday's storms; 🐻 leads a little Leland hill climbing. Then in the afternoon, meet Dr A-🐈 to ramble around Theodore Roosevelt Island. Spy a mimosa (aka Persian silk tree, Albizia julibrissin) blooming brightly in the parking lot!mimosa tree at Theodore Roosevelt Island

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Monday, September 26, 2022 at 19:21:35 (EDT)

2022-06-18 - Kensington Parkrun 5k Talk Walker

~3.1 mi @ ~21 min/mi

Finish dead last – as the Tailwalker should always do at a Parkrun! With DS/Merle, ~1:05 – a PB for him, a PW for me, and negative splits for us both! (21:50 + 20:15 + 19:58 and a fractional mile at 18:53 min/mi pace). Mega-TY to 🐻y for Gatorade and cookies at the finish line!


- Monday, September 26, 2022 at 17:41:29 (EDT)

2022-06-17 - Hot Wok

~2.7 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Walk to Kensington with woodsy cut-throughs.


- Monday, September 26, 2022 at 17:38:07 (EDT)

2022-06-16 - Thunder in Rockville

~2.2 mi @ ~15 min/mi

Booming as storms loom on the way to get Bonchon Korean chicken; big deer stare and retreat.


- Monday, September 26, 2022 at 17:34:27 (EDT)

2022-06-14 - Fried Fresh Fish

~3.5 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Fried fish, snow peas, bamboo shoots, and carrots, ... atoning in advance for carry-out from Hunan City!


- Monday, September 26, 2022 at 17:27:08 (EDT)


BLUF means Bottom Line Up Front – it's a style of writing that immediately says what an essay or paper is about, and clearly states the "So What?" that the audience should take away. A BLUF shows respect for the busy reader's time and intelligence. It's efficient and, in its own way, beautiful.

And, if you spell it backwards and flub the reversal, BLUF becomes FLUB!

(cf Meta-Briefing (2012-11-22), Mantra - Say Less, Better (2018-08-09), Less More (2020-01-24), How to Share Hard Ideas (2021-04-12), ...)

- Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 06:29:36 (EDT)

2022-06-12 - Sweat Dialing

~4.4 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Spy a "Heels & Homeware" business sign in Kensington, and with 🦄 & 🐻 & 🥃, take a Beach Drive ramble, then return via Java Nation, as the phone accidentally makes calls.


- Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 07:39:48 (EDT)

2022-06-11 - Avery Adventure, Warmup, and Parkrun

~2.8 mi @ ~23 min/mi

~2.8 mi @ ~19 min/mi

~3.1 mi @ ~12 min/mi

Bushwhack through the woods with 🦘 & 🦄 during a Saturday sunrise ramble around Rockville Civic Center Park, then philosophize-walk with 🦄 in Chevy Chase View, before finishing with her in 36th place at the Kensington Parkrun 5k – 37:14, a few minutes behind 🐻y!

(trackfile & trackfile & trackfile)

- Thursday, September 22, 2022 at 21:14:29 (EDT)

2022-06-10 - Mormon Temple Tour

~2.5 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Such a beautiful building! Walk to the Latter Day Saints temple in Kensington and enjoy viewing the inside just before it is again closed to non-Church visitors.


- Thursday, September 22, 2022 at 06:55:04 (EDT)

Faith and Doubt, Openness and Certainty

From Michael Gerson's eulogy in the Washington Post, "Frederick Buechner was a writer tuned in to the frequency of grace" (22 Aug 2022):

"Buechner ... understood that faith and doubt are not opposites but integral parts of the human journey. He knew that openness is ultimately a more important virtue than certainty. He presented, especially in his powerful novels, the mixture of sacred and profane at the heart of humanity, even at the heart of holiness."

(cf Christmas Faith (2000-12-23), Faith to Doubt (2010-03-11), Nothing But Faith in Nothing (2014-09-07), Mantra - Uncertainty, Kindness, Peace, Hope (2017-06-29), Mantra - Doubt (2018-01-14), ...)

- Monday, September 19, 2022 at 05:50:55 (EDT)

2022-06-09 - Silver Spring Sandwiches

~4 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Saunter down Second Ave to downtown Silver Spring, revisit old mosaics, spy new lawn gnomes, and bring sandwiches home on the bus for dinner.


- Monday, September 19, 2022 at 05:36:35 (EDT)

2022-06-08 - Secret NIH History Warehouse

~3.8 mi @ ~16 min/mi

The steep dirt pedestrian path from Morris Park in Gaithersburg leads across Muddy Branch and through the woods to big satellite dishes and an anonymous building at the dead-end of Industrial Dr – see the National Institutes of Health's history Twitter account https://twitter.com/historyatnih for info on the low-profile vault and the move there a few months ago. Thunder begins, and soon thereafter, torrential rains!


- Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 10:02:58 (EDT)

2022-06-06 - Temple Hawk and Woodland Deer

~2.4 mi @ ~20 min/mi

A hawk circles the Mormon Temple spires, and a deer nibbles foliage during a loop around Forest Glen Park through the woods along Ireland Dr – as a big old Nikon digital SLR with a manual long lens gets heavy!


- Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 09:57:06 (EDT)

2022-06-05 - Dameron Hill Work

~2.5 mi @ ~14 min/mi

Sunday morning loops along the neighborhood streets of Forest Grove with 🥃 & 🐻.


- Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 08:40:09 (EDT)

2022-06-04 - Croydon Creek with Caren

~1.7 mi @ ~25 min/mi

🦘 & 🐇 explore the Rockville Civic Center Park with a side visit to the old Rockville Cemetery – new paths in the woods near the 2022-04-13 - Rockville Civic Center Park initial solo survey.


- Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 07:55:57 (EDT)

2022-06-01 - Wheaton Murals

~0.6 mi @ ~18 min/mi

... small down payment to atone for Mi La Cay's delicious Bánh Mì – and during a speedy walkabout, discover bright new murals near Elkin St and Blueridge Ave, at Blueridge Square and Pembridge Square apartments.


- Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 07:27:32 (EDT)

Secure Attachment

In "The Trait That 'Super Friends' Have in Common" (2022-08-25, The Atlantic) Marisa G Franco writes of the importance of a "secure attachment" style:

According to attachment theory, there are three major attachment styles: secure, anxious, and avoidant. (A fourth–disorganized attachment–is a mix of anxious and avoidant, but it's under-researched in adults.) Secure people assume that they are worthy of love, and that others can be trusted to give it to them. People who are anxiously attached assume that others will abandon them–so they cling, or try too hard to accommodate others, or plunge into intimacy too rapidly. Avoidantly attached people are similarly afraid of abandonment; instead of clinging, though, they keep others at a distance. Attachment is a spectrum, and it can change over time; it's common, for instance, to exhibit more insecure attachment when stressed. But we each have a primary attachment style we demonstrate most often.

Franco discusses optimism as a character trait, and its correlation with feeling secure:

The psychologist Fred H. Goldner coined the term pronoia to describe the optimistic counterpart to paranoia. People with pronoia possess the delusion that, despite any evidence to the contrary, others want the best for them. But presuming goodwill isn't always uncalled for. Unless there's contradictory evidence, secure people tend to assume that others are trustworthy.

It's tempting to think that secure people are setting themselves up for disappointment. But assuming the best sets people up to receive the best. ...

And when untrustworthy people weasel through the cracks and cause harm, secure people are less affected than the insecure. Research shows that security is a strong predictor of resilience and stress regulation. ...

Accompanied by this resilience and good faith, secure people are freed up to take risks in relationships. They're more likely to initiate new friendships, as well as productively address conflict and share intimate things about themselves. ...


... the more positively we feel about ourselves, the more likely we are to assume that others like us. How people thought their romantic partner viewed them, the study found, was less a reflection of their partner's perspective and more a reflection of how they viewed themselves. In platonic relationships, too, how we think others view us isn't necessarily fact.

When secure people assume that others like them, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy termed "the acceptance prophecy." ... "if people expect acceptance, they will behave warmly, which in turn will lead other people to accept them; if they expect rejection, they will behave coldly, which will lead to less acceptance." ...

... the power of positive thinking!

(cf Optimist Creed (1999-04-16), How to Win Friends and Influence People (2008-05-17), Tough-Minded Optimists (2009-12-22), How to Be an Optimist (2011-08-24), Happiness Buffer (2013-12-22), Power of Optimism (2016-02-23), Mantra - Be on Good Form (2016-05-10), Positive Thinking Techniques (2017-09-21), Ten Resolutions by Clyde Kilby (2017-10-16), See the Good in Others (2018-01-02), Five Great Joys in Life (2019-09-24), Mister Pollyanna (2020-01-28), Worry, Stress, Anxiety (2020-03-04), Be More Optimistic (2020-07-02), Anti-Paranoia (2020-09-28), It's a Big Beautiful World (2021-05-03), ...)

- Thursday, September 08, 2022 at 15:40:55 (EDT)

The Best Moment of Your Life

... contemplate that in a very real way,
this may actually be the best season,
the best moment of your life ...

If that was so, what would it mean for you?

From Jon Kabat-Zinn's Wherever You Go, There You Are, part 1 chapter 4, "This Is It" ... in a larger context:

TRY: Reminding yourself from time to time: "This is it." See if there is anything at all that it cannot be applied to. Remind yourself that acceptance of the present moment has nothing to do with resignation in the face of what is happening. It simply means a clear acknowledgment that what is happening is happening. Acceptance doesn't tell you what to do What happens next, what you choose to do, that has to come out of your understanding of this moment. You might try acting out of a deep knowing of "This is it." Does it influence how you choose to proceed or respond? Is it possible for you to contemplate that in a very real way, this may actually be the best season, the best moment of your life? If that was so, what would it mean for you?

(cf Nothing Happens (2005-10-08), This Is It (2008-11-14), This (2013-03-09), Nothing Happens Next - This Is It (2017-02-10), ...)

- Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at 05:54:09 (EDT)

How to Be a More Patient Person

Wise advice from Anna Goldfarb, in her New York Times piece "How to Be a More Patient Person", subtitled "Relax. It's going to be O.K." (5 Nov 2018, gift-link). Goldfarb cites three types of patience:

To become more patient:

And above all, be patient with yourself!

(cf Om - Be Patient, Patience and Time (2005-01-11), Hurry Patiently (2008-12-14), Without Effort, Analysis, or Expectation (2010-08-04), Endurance at Work (2011-07-03), Patience (2013-03-03), Patience with Mistakes (2014-06-03), ...))

- Thursday, August 25, 2022 at 17:55:52 (EDT)

2022-05-31 - Sandwich and Salad

~3.7 mi @ ~18 min/mi

Revisit the 1792 northernmost boundary stone of the District of Columbia during a ramble to pick up lunch.


- Tuesday, August 16, 2022 at 09:15:05 (EDT)

2022-05-30 - MCRRC Sue and Connie Run

~4 mi @ ~12.7 min/mi

A new PW (Personal Worst!) for the Sue & Connie Run on Memorial Day, though 🐰 does manage to wait until the final hills before slowing to a walk. Official Montgomery County Road Runners result is 213th of 251 finishers, 119th/131 males, 8th/11 males 65-69, with a gun time of 50:44. Historical data for the MCRRC Memorial Day 4 miler course:

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
50:44 - 2022


- Sunday, August 14, 2022 at 06:48:15 (EDT)

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