[Caveat: what follows includes mildly bawdy banter and low allusion, appropriate only for those who are either highly enlightened or extraordinarily unenlightened. Those in the middle of the sensibility spectrum are advised to avert their gaze.]

Intense mental or physical exercise is a good way to get in touch with one's animal nature. Of course, that nature often isn't pretty --- e.g., consider my purple toenails after a too-long jog in too-tight shoes. But part of animal awareness involves an instinctive appreciation of the finer æsthetic characteristics possessed by other animals of one's species.

At Caltech in the 1970s second-year physics graduate students were impelled to strenuous cerebral effort via eight hours of compulsory written tests that covered classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, mathematical methods, and a variety of topics in "modern physics" such as nuclear, high-energy, and gravitational theory. Those comprehensive exams were a deliberate ordeal, an initiation ritual designed to knock the hubris out of the victim's sails and prepare the now-humbled student for several years of dogged thesis work.

A common method of therapy for those who survived the comp experience was to take time off for total mindlessness. One comrade (name elided to protect the guilty) told me that he went to Disneyland, an hour's drive away, where he rode the silliest little-kid rides that he could find. He reported that while waiting in one line he was privileged to witness the most beautiful vision that he had seen in his lifetime ... or so it seemed, in his stressed-out state of mind.

"A stern chase is a long chase", the old naval proverb says. When one ship pursues another the gap between them closes slowly, at a rate based on the difference in speeds. This is in sharp contrast to a bows-on encounter, where the sum of the speeds governs.

But when standing in line, or when pursuing someone during a long distance run, a stern chase can be a subjectively short and fast one --- and pleasant to boot. Experienced marathoners have recommended this experiment to me: find an attractive runner, one who is going slightly faster than you're comfortable with, and tail him or her. The callipygian view is guaranteed to make the miles fly past. Likewise for the minutes spent waiting one's turn in a queue.

Hmmm ... perhaps it's no coincidence that "hind" is an ancient word for a deer --- since that's the side of the animal that one sees most often, as it speedily bounds away?

(see also AppropriateUnits (2 Feb 2000), GeoMemory (17 May 2001), LensManic (16 Jul 2001), CollegeCollage3 (29 Sep 2001), ParkwayDelay (28 Dec 2001), BottomPower (14 Jun 2002), AwesomeProwess (17 Jul 2003), ...)

TopicHumor - TopicRunning - TopicRecreation - 2003-07-01

(correlates: CrackCreme, ObliviousAce, FinalElement, ...)