Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Abby Normal


Well, I got my heart monitor results. Here is what the preliminary evaluation is.

Hi Marty,
We just received a copy of your Holter Monitor Accession results. It indicated that there is a first degree block which means that the impulse from the atria (upper chambers) to the ventricles (lower chambers) is delayed and travels slower than normal......

The cardiologist makes note that there were occasional arrythmias but overall the findings were that the rhythm is "benign" or normal. Stephanie (NP) said that if you still want to move ahead with the stress test she would order it but feels as though you are good to wait and discuss this with Dr. Best in February when you see him. Let me know if you'd like a copy of the report or if you'd like to proceed by talking to Stephanie or one of the other Nurse Practitioners again.

In other words, my drummer really is out of syncopation. (ba-da bum tish). Now I'll need to discuss with the Doc my prognosis for a continued Ultra career. I'm sure he considers the rhythm 'benign' or normal, for a regular person, sure. But what does it mean to someone pushing on the edges? Do I need to slow down? Ack, I'm slow enough already, and now my impulses are delayed and slow.

I think Dr Frankenstein put Abby Normal's heart in my chest when I wasn't looking.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Maxims Of Conversation

Quantity:
  • Say no more or less than the conversation requires.
  • Learn to listen as least as much as you talk.
  • Pause. Try it on; ponder someone's point so that you feel it.
  • Let air in; its ok for pauses to appear.

Quality:

  • Don’t say what you believe to be false.
  • Don’t say things for which you lack evidence.
  • Learn your own bad logical habits.

Manner:

  • Engage; eye contact, let distractions buzz like flies. Stay on target.
  • Don’t be obscure.
  • Don’t be ambiguous.
  • Be brief.
  • Be orderly.
  • Check your ego at the door.
  • Smile when you can; it creates a connection.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Deep End


Every day we face exposures from a substance sometimes called Dihydrogen Monoxide. Campaigns to ban this substance have been occurring since 1990, with no success. Just to name a few of the dangers' you face everyday from this chemical:

1) At certain temperatures, exposure can cause 3rd degree burns;
2) at lower temperatures, exposure can cause frostbite;
3) if inhaled causes asphyxiation and painful death;
4) is used as an industrial solvent and can oxidize metal;
5) is used as a fire retardant and in the application of pesticides.

Of course, if you remember the campaigns to ban' this substance, you will also remember that most of them were done to demonstrate deficiencies in the public understanding of chemistry.

Dihydrogen Monoxide is also known more commonly as water. The chemical name tells you what it "is", but not what it "IS", that is to say, its essence. It may be two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, but the sum of its parts its much more than that.

I make the comparison here, Dihydrogen Monoxide vs. water, to draw a personal parallel to religion and spirituality, at least for me. Dihydrogen Oxide is to water what religion is to spirituality.

For me, Religion is Dihydorogen Monoxide; its the parts. Its the rituals, unexplained, misunderstood. Its the social pressure to conform to a particular pattern on a chart, in a book. Its the dissection, dissemination, and spoon fed answers. Its a drop, that can't quench my thirst. Its the shark infested shallow end of the ocean. When its broken down, I cannot recognize it. I have the barest understanding of Dihydrogen Monoxide.

For me, Spirituality is water; its the whole. Its life giving, its the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Its the essence. Its wordless, quiet and peaceful, its complete. Its the wave, momentarily apart but never apart. Its the deepest deep end of the ocean. Its the total immersion in the unbelievable, floating lightness of being.

Water, I understand.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice

Stonehenge could be a monument to the sun's movements.


Welcome to Winter! Astrologically speaking, the earth's 'lean' away from the sun reaches its maximum sometime tonight (or tomorrow depending who's wielding the sextant).

The ancient pagans saw this as the figurative 'death' of the sun as it appeared to move to its farthest point south on the horizon. The Winter Solstice, or "Sun Standing Still". The celebration of the re-birth will soon follow, as the earth tilts and the sun appears to move back northward and the days get progressively longer until June.

Astronomy is quite a fascinating subject. Even more so when you consider ancient man, his geocentric perspective and his logic of why all this occurred, as well as what he could do to 'coax' the sun to come back.

Happy Winter everyone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Harness Power


So, somewhere between Glacial and Ozark I developed a ..... Hiccup of sorts. The drummer in my chest needs inspiration, he's got a lack of syncopation.

I thought maybe rest and a some other adjustments would set it right, but its not quite there on its own. OK, I've only given it about 4 weeks, but when your ticker is acting up, usually it causes the alarm bells to go off. It did for me anyway. They symptoms were similar to something I have had before, and are probably related to running, stress, caffeine, and rest (lack thereof). Just for sanity sake, I went to see a doctor. And you know what that means. TESTS. The picture above is completely accurate, although its not me (I don't have that much hair). Its the exact monitoring harness I'm wearing right now.

The heart goes in its rhythms for most people along smoothy: 1 <> 2 <> 3 <> 4 <> 5. Most of the time mine looks like this too, but not always, sometimes I get this: 1 <> 2 <> 34 <<>> 5. A double beat no space (34), with a double <<>> pause. Its a hitch in my giddy up. Its a tiny misfire on the electrical charge, and apparently its easy to get out of sync.

Its like most people have a polka heart, with a slight back beat but continuous rhythm, but my heart is playing jazz. It knows the beat, but prefers to play all the way around it once in a while.

Lest you be alarmed, I feel pretty good. I am still running, and in fact the time everything feels best is when I go out and RED LINE. Get my heart rate up to 180 beats per minute and the drummer has to keep time. No skipping around playing Jazz. I cleared this with my doc, and let her know that I'd be doing it, and she didn't have an issue with it as long as I wasn't having chest pains. I don't.

I had blood tests, and all kinds of other things, and everything points to a very healthy man, regardless of my age. Resting heart rate is around 60-65, Oxygen markers in the red blood cells are 99% effective, which the doc said is unheard of. (I said great but that doesn't seem to make me any faster... anyway). Cholesterol is a little bit high, but no medications needed, just some minor tweaks in diet and is unrelated to the current issue.

But here's the thing: when the the medical community gets someone who is healthy, they have a tendency to want to dismiss your other symptoms; a nurse took my pulse for over two minutes, and of course the drummer played nice and kept perfect time; it looks like nothing is wrong with me.

But. Its still there. I had to INSIST on the harness, as well as I will INSIST on a treadmill stress test regardless of what the harness data shows. I am thinking of insisting on the ink check for arterial plaque too, if the other tests prove nothing.

Mostly, by this time, its just kind of irritating. And, I hope I can sleep with this dang harness on without pulling the wires all over the place.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Bathtub



I haven't been running as much lately, so I've been spending my time on philosophy, logic, and rationality studies. Since I don't have a peer group (yet) to discuss these, well, here is what I've been thinking about. I gotta stretch em out somewhere. So I want to talk for a minute about logic and its conclusions. The topic for this post is rejecting a conclusion(s) of an argument, based on its use of faulty or incomplete logic. Wow. That sounds deep doesn't it?

To say it in plain English, "your throwing the baby out with the bathwater". Lets use an example, a classic one employed by many non-Christians.

"Hey you Christian (said with accusation), you say God wrote the bible, and the bible says he exists, that's circular reasoning. Your argument is faulty, therefore your conclusions are false and God doesn't exist".

While the first statement: "Your argument is faulty" is correct, the speaker makes his OWN conclusion "God doesn't exist" based on someone else's argument. Now we have two mistakes in reasoning instead of one.

It doesn't matter how many arguments you refute; it does not invalidate the conclusions (Atheists: We won't get into burden of proof, or that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. The "fact' remains that people do experience something which requires an explanation, so a conclusion must be drawn).

Other examples would be: "Evolution is a fact, therefore GOD does not exist", and the reverse argument as well Evolution is "NOT" a fact, therefore GOD "DOES" exist. Neither conclusion can be drawn from it's original premise.

Of course, its a hot topic, and emotional content and personal belief spill into this argument. This baby has been in the mud, rendering most conversations on it dirty water at best.

Most of you know that I am not a Christian. Many of you don't know, that I am NOT an atheist. I find as many or more faulty conclusions from Atheists as I do Christians. Many times, I also find Atheists emotional, pig headed, stubborn, and angry. This is not to say they all are, that would be a faulty conclusion. My point is, many Atheists have a habit of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

In this rejection, they will alienate many Christians. They've not only thrown out the baby and the bathwater, they've thrown out the 'bathtub', that is to say, the place for discussion, discourse, and reasonable understanding of both positions.

Therein lies one of the first problems for the Atheist: they tend to live in the blank space without filling it in. This makes Belief look "Positive" and non-belief "Negative".

Now, you may declare me a fence sitter. Fair enough. But all I am really saying is that I have not experienced God in the way many Christians claim, therefore I cannot come to a definitive conclusion. I remain open to the possibility. I think, to stretch out a thought here, that the experience of God is a personal one, and this experience cannot be imparted from one person to another person.

So, logically, if we start with:

"I have experienced the hand of God, Therefore I believe he exists", we see no faulty conclusions, and no way to refute the statements or claims.

Now, we have a bathtub that is clean, and a place for reasonable discourse. Lets all start there, shall we?

Friday, December 16, 2011

On the Contrary





Christopher Hitchens died yesterday. I am sorry he's gone. I didn't agree with all he had to say, but he certainly had a way of defining the outer edges. Christopher made you think hard about your position, and would never let you be 'lazy' about your arguments.
We shared a love and respect of Thomas Jefferson, George Orwell, and Thomas Paine; we didn't share a support of the war in Iraq (he did, I didn't).

We definitely shared a distrust of belief and action without reasonable arguments. Read Arguably; Essays by Christopher Hitchens.


Last, a salute to Christopher, the fiercely independent thinker, malcontent and gadfly to those who are convinced of their absolute certainty.

1949-2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Choice Words




I haven't written a conclusive report for my Ozark DNF over at the LPTR site, though I have a whole bunch of stuff started. I have something like three different approaches to the report, but none of them are coming out complete. Its just sort of a disjointed collection of thoughts, feelings, and more importantly effort to get the thing written. Its probably not going to get completed, even though I have some strong feelings about what happened. More on that later. Lets talk about writing. When you make an effort to write, it shows. Its painful for the writer and the reader.

Mark Twain once said that good writing isn't what you write, its what you leave out. I am paraphrasing here. I can't find the exact quote.

The thing is this: when you try to hard and write something, you start adding all kinds of grandiose ideas, making allusions, trying to sound important. Instead of just .. well, using plain english and your own voice. It comes out so much cleaner. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't put some effort into it. It takes practice.

Another Twain Quote:

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.

This doesn't mean writing short, choppy sentences. I think I have posted here before on my favorite sentence of all time, from the Declaration Of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident".

That. is a round sentence. Round, meaning no end, meaning very full, meaning curving back on itself in its completeness. Round, meaning no sharp edges and no big words. Plain, easy to understand, and elegant all at the same time.

Choice words. Here's to plain english, which when written well, is as full and round as it should be.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Polite Company




Recently a friend of mine sent me an email, and below is the base of his statements that I want to explore. He and I were having an exchange on a different topic, and he happened to comment on my recent posts here. I really appreciate the fact that he was reading, was intrigued, and was also showing concern (Thanks dude).

Been reading your blog and watching your FB posts, Seems like you have a lot going on right now. Hope the running is going ok, I know that is one thing we all rely on being consistent during times of chaos and searching........

As far as the searching thing, yeah...the 3 questions, the empathy and conflicts posts. They intrigued me because I am a Christian, and have asked many of the same questions. I certainly don't have it all figured out, I think God has that built in to the plan, but I am confident in what I believe in. BUT, I respect everyone's ability to believe what they want, but do feel certain that only one way is the real truth. How could we have multiple truths? I guess you have to pick the one you believe, that's the whole free will thing.

First off, I appreciate the fact that he is solid in his beliefs. Its refreshing to hear someone make a solid stand on what he believes, and not be bashful about saying it. (I do have an issue with the bit at the end, with the idea of "picking the one you believe, that's the whole free will thing." I wonder if he was just making allowances for my beliefs, and was worried about offending me. I wasn't. His statement about picking the one you believe is a topic for another day; postmodernism, or relativism, and subjective vs objective truth. Big topic.).

I don't like to scare, intimidate, attack, or disparage anyone. I like to discuss their beliefs. I know, this is a culturally taboo topic. In polite company, we don't discuss religion or politics.

Why? Its the elephant in the room. Everyone knows its there, and yet we all find ways of dancing around it. Ignoring it.

It is an emotional hot bed. I think the problem, many times, starts with people NOT being solid in their beliefs. Its the fear that any discussion leads them to feel like they are standing on shaky ground. Many people don't want to consider their belief system, especially under scrutiny of someone who does not think the way they do. My contention: its the only way we learn; its the only way we develop our intellectual and spiritual muscles.

Asking questions. Its so fundamental to learning, its so fundamental to seeking the truth, yet we avoid it, dance around it, make allowances for other beliefs for fear of offending someone. I believe we must be polite to people, but not to ideas. We must question and question them until we stretch them and find their breaking points. We must reset the elephant of an idea on the beach ball and continually try to knock it down. We must stop avoiding it, and dancing around it. This elephant, is so big we are afraid we can't move him; but he stands on a beach ball, and it takes merely the push of a finger to knock him off.

People, I respect. Ideas? Not so much; even my own are subject to scrutiny, maybe more so.


(Paradoxically, Socrates knew he was not wise,
and in that knowledge was the wisest he could be).


You know, its really the thing that got Socrates killed. Questioning. He was considered the 'gadfly' of the state. He was pesky, always asking questions. Rabble rousing the youth, questioning authority, making the supposedly wise look like fools. Now, I'm not saying I am some deep thinker, or that I have some special power of teasing out the truth in a complex world. On the contrary: I think Socrates even, was asking the most fundamental questions there are to ask, not letting the elephant stand there for one minute

Quote Socrates:
"I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quote For The Day




"There is only one decision you need to make: either you are working at your freedom or you are accepting your bondage.”

Robert Adams

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

62 Mules to Pull That Train






Happy Birthday, Tom Waits!

So on the 7th of December, 1949, they got what they were wishing for all the time. He grew up in trailer by the time he was nine, Rolled off to join the circus telling fortunes on the side......

(Copyright Tom Waits, 1999, "Eyeball Kid", Mule Variations)

This is the greatest song writer you probably have never heard of. Do yourself a favor: BUY Mule Variations (or any of his other 20 or so that have come out since 1972).

Now, BEFORE you give up on it as something that sounds hard, gravely voiced, overly percussive, or confusing: LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN to it over and over again, at least five times.

If you know anything about music, you will start to hear the layers, the depth. The stuff that absolutely gets under your skin and into your brain and won't let go.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stair Repeats





So I am in San Francisco, and I am staying at a condo in Mill Valley.

Get this: The Dipsea race runs right past the place I am staying.

In fact less than 100 ft away from my door is the very middle of the infamous Dipsea stairs. 676 stairs, and we are at 300. Tomorrow, I am going to do some stair repeats.

Or maybe just one set will do.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Koyaanisqatsi



This word is Hopi for "Unbalanced Life".


It can mean you have too much of any one thing in your life. Too much work, too much stress, too much exercise, too much alcohol. It especially can mean too much mental processing on one topic or another (money for example). Paradoxically, sometimes we need to unplug to re-charge.

Right now for me "Balance" has meant more down time, not so much 'body in motion', but more importantly, dropping the sense of urgency to do do do go go go.

So I have had a few weeks off of running and traveling. Just running when I feel like it, and not having to travel too much for work has certainly helped too.

Next week I leave for San Fransisco, and some deep woods walking in the John Muir woods, and the Point Reyes National Sea Shore.

Will I RUN? Maybe.

More importantly, this trip is about being there. Seeing the giant redwoods, and the pacific ocean. I really am enjoying the calmness right now, and I'd like to keep that sense on this trip.

How much balance do you have in your life?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Subjective Experience




A car accident happens. In an instant, less than a second, events start to unfold: Metal is twisted, glass is shattered, brakes are engaged and tires are skidding and squealing.

Everything finally comes to rest. Cell phones call 911.

The police arrive. Witnesses are called upon. The people involved with the accident are always questioned, but their testimony is often tainted, subjective, emotional. In fact, even the so-called 'objective' witnesses many times see the situation from a different angles, and with different cognition.

Everyone experienced something in those moments, sometimes traumatic, sometimes life-changing.

Authorities can many times re-create the facts, based on the final positions and conditions of the cars, but without that how often do we ever get to the truth of what really happened?


How many of our life experiences (both those we witness as external events, and more importantly those that are products of our perceptions and emotions) are colored by both our cognitive and emotional biases and our lack of understanding of the physical world?


Memories. As time goes on, memories of an event change. In fact, as we recall a memory, we are not even recalling the original event. We are recalling the last memory we had of the event. A memory of a memory of a memory.

What does time and replaying do to that?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Big Three Questions





At the bottom of it all, I have three BIG questions.

1) Why are we here?

2) Who is God?

3) What am I having for Lunch?

The first two are easy to understand, and seemingly universal. The third is a joke of course, but if you think about it, humour has bits and pieces of truth layered in its DNA.

GK Chesterton once said:

"all the jokes about men sitting down on their hats are really theological jokes; they are concerned with the Dual Nature of Man. They refer to the primary paradox that man is superior to all things around him and yet is at their mercy".

So often I find that the AHA! lies in the HAHA!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crap I Find

The one thing I can say for religion is most of the time, it seems to lack a sense of humor. So for today, lets lighten up a little bit.

I would give credit to the original author, but as far as I know its unknown.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Heart and Mind




One of the loneliest things to be is without a peer group. Without support, without understanding, without friendship.

One of the issues I face with this blog, and some of its contents is that much of it at times feels like, well, verbal masturbation. It has no rebuttal, it has no dialog, it has no support. Recently, I found an on-line group where many share my thoughts, feelings, questions, etc. There, I hope to continue not only my own self-education in critical secular thinking, but with a gentler approach to those who still follow a theistic view. I want to understand, I want to approach it with an open mind and heart, in safe discussion with those who do think differently than I. If the result is a changing of some of their views, or a better understanding of mine, so much the better.

The Group is called "Project Reason" and I believe it was started by Sam Harris. I started with Sam Harris' blog, and I have Brothergrub to thank for that.

I trust that my running friends and family weren't not offended by whatever I have written. It certainly was never my intention. I know that asserting anything against someone's deeply held beliefs is no way to get them to see things differently; all I have to do is consider how I feel when a fundamentalist approaches me with fire and brim stone. This kind of attack is met with resistance and much opposition. Might is met with might, fire with fire. It has a galvanizing affect on both parties. Please, lets not have oppression in any form, from either you, or I.

Our hearts and minds are built for each other, and without each other, we are nothing. Lastly today, I leave you with a quote from Bart Ehrman, writing in the Humanist. It succinctly makes my heart yearn for such a world:

....
When someone leaves the womb of the church, they need to have somewhere else to go. They need warm, loving, welcoming, safe communities of like-minded people where they can establish social networks and find fellowship with people who share their world views, their loves, hates, concerns, passions, and obsessions. They need context within which they can discuss the big issues of life, not just politics but also life-and-death issues. They need places where they can celebrate what is good in life and where they can work to overcome what is bad.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New 2012 Plans




Jan 14 : 5 day CC ski trip, Ski race in Iron Mtn MI
Feb 4: John Dick 50K
Feb 5: Backpack trip to Superstition Wilderness, AZ
Feb 25: Birkebiener 50K Classic Ski Race, Hayward WI
Mar 31: Clinton Lake 50K
Apr 28: Chippewa Moraine 50K
Apr 29: Sedona and Grand Canyon Hiking Trip
May 12: Ice Age 50 Mile
June 2: Kettle. Not sure what yet, 100 Mile or K? Or just pace?
June 16: PIE Ride 100K or 100 Mile
July 6: Kickapoo kayak trip
July 14: Dances With Dirt 50 Mile
July 23: 7 day Backpack trip to Superior Trail
August 18: Marquette (MI) 50K
Sept: Superior Trail races? Date?
Oct 14: Glacial 50K -OR- Wild Duluth 100K
Nov 3: Ozark 100 (tentative)
Dec 1: Pine Mountain 40 (tentative)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fueling The Machine


As Athletes, how often do we think about our recovery?

Does pH give a good indication of our recovery process? (A pH of 7.0 is considered Neutral, but a body pH of 7.5 is more in line with optimal health and performance). I think it might be a good measurement (my recent pH measurement was a dismal 6 -6.5. A good indicator of a system under stress?).

What am I willing to give up or change for better recovery? Coffee, alcohol, meat products, dairy products are all acidifers. So are many simple sugars we consume during our events or long training runs.

Are there replacements for these simple sugar intakes? Or if not, are there things we can do post-recovery to speed the process and re-balance our system so it can heal and recover?

After my recent experiences with sub-optimal performance (and health), I am much more interested in how diet can affect my performance.

Training I understand. Diet? Recovery? Not so much. For the past six months of so, I have broken the circle of TRAIN > STRESS > REST> RECOVER > REPEAT. Too much 'train' and too much 'stress' without recovery leads to breakdown; along with too much of the wrong things going into my machine. Garbage in > Garbage Out.

Right now, All I have are questions, but for now I am going on a coffee hiatus (OK, 5 out 7 days), alcohol hiatus, red meat hiatus, and I am looking for a good pinole recipe.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Recovery and Plans for 2012



Thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for quick healing.

Well, thanks to two weeks off and doing almost NOTHING, my overall system seems pretty well recovered and the heart blips have settled down. Every body has a multitude of systems (skeletal, muscular, digestive, cardiovascular) and they all need rest and recovery. In my case one system just had not received enough recovery time and was showing signs it needed a break. I need to be a little cautious, and not return to full blown training but ramp it up slowly in preparation for the 2012 Ultra season (as well as my skiing, backpacking, kayaking and biking trips).

Its too bad I have to work, there is so much to do!

Jan 14 : 5 day CC ski trip, finish with Ski race in Iron Mountain MI (my first!)
Feb 4: John Dick 50K
Feb 5: Backpack trip to Superstition Wilderness, AZ
Feb 25: Birkebiener 50K Classic Ski Race, Hayward WI
Mar 31: Clinton Lake 50K
Apr 28: Chippewa Moraine 50K
Apr 29: Sedona and Grand Canyon Hiking Trip
May 12: Ice Age 50 Mile (Its payback time!)
June 2: Kettle. Not sure what yet, 100 Mile or K? Or just pace?
June 16: PIE Ride 100K or 100 Mile
July 6: Kickapoo kayak trip
July 14: Dances With Dirt 50 Mile (tentative, I'd like to find another race in July)
July 23: 7 day Backpack trip to Superior Trail
August 18: Marquette (MI) 50K
Sept: Superior Trail races? Date?
Oct 14: Glacial 50K -OR- Wild Duluth 100K
Nov 3: Ozark 100 (tentative)
Dec 1: Pine Mountain 40 (tentative)

Its what I have so far...... Some race plans may change, especially for races I've done already.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Conflicts




In my last post, I spoke about empathy and the belief in a higher, supernatural power.

My plan is to not write about it again here, for a time. Instead, I will devote myself to the understanding of Christianity point of view, so as to better frame my position. I'll start by reading "Mere Christianity" (CS Lewis), and "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" (Josh McDowell).

I hope that those who profess a faith in Christianity will do likewise, and read the following:

Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary (Ken Daniels)


The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ

I've disabled comments once again here.

Cosmological argument





I wrote this up, without having researched it first. Once I started looking around I found I had essentially re-created the Cosmological argument. I have some difference, but the likeness is interesting. My Notes and comments are of my own doing. These combine many different disciplines and influences from my reading. They are however, still my own thoughts and musings.

---------Argument starts here---------

Observation: “Objects” or “Effects” appear to exist separate from the “Object” I call myself. I say “appear” because technically speaking, I can’t prove that. There is a whole school of thought around the concept of “Adviata”, and is too much for this discussion. For the purpose of this discussion, I will take it as a given that “Objects” or “Effects” happen outside and independent of the “Object” called “me”, the observer. The appearance of separation and the separation are considered equal.

Observation: Every “Object” or “Effect” seems to have an underlying cause. IE: If A moves or is created, it is because B moved or created it, and B was moved or created by C, etc, until we get back to the ORIGINAL CAUSE.

Deduced: Therefore, there must have been an ORIGINAL CAUSE which started the chain of events leading to everything’s existence.

Inferred, from most major religions: the ORIGINAL CAUSE is a supreme, supernatural (read: outside of nature) being who has an interest in what we do, and made us in his likeness and image.

--------Argument ends here--------------

Comments: Why do we infer this? We think about the logic that takes us back to a beginning cause; is the idea that the creator made us in his image just anthropomorphic? Why wouldn’t it be a whale, or an invisible pink unicorn?

We are complex enough to believe that we must have a reason for existing. We are self aware; within our puny brains we believe we have ‘heard’ the creator speak to us, give us instructions. So we postulate that the creator endowed us with the SAME abilities, and a connection to the creator. Those thoughts, connections and instructions are unverifiable, but also un-falsifiable.

What if the original cause is beyond our understanding? What if those instructions are all in our heads and the result of seemingly disconnect thoughts coming from our own chemistry? Since anything we think is within the frame work of our understanding, anything we can postulate, think or imagine could automatically be what the original cause is NOT. Maybe the ORIGINAL CAUSE is by its nature beyond our understanding. Can you understanding a larger picture when you are a part of it? In other words, can "you" stop being "you" even for a second?

More Comments. The idea that there must be a 'beginning' of a chain of events implies "time". Time exists only within the framework of 'our' universe. Before there was something, was there nothing?

If this universe (including time) was created from 'nothing', by definition, the ORIGINAL CAUSE must be outside of that. This is subject to our idea of "beginning" because beginning automatically implies a starting point in time, which as I just stated only exists within the framework of what we know, and this universe.



I know its a lot to digest. but this is what I think about.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Empathy



Definition, EMPATHY: The intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

WARNING: This post is about the belief in God. I am not discussing the existence or non-existence of God; only the belief therein. I do not mean to offend anyone. If speaking empirically about the existence of that belief, or lack thereof, will possibly offend you, please read no further. Go in Peace. Realize that I mean no harm, nor disparage your beliefs; I am not trying to de-convert you. I only question your logic because I want to understand it. A word of caution, I have spent a life time looking for that belief for myself, including in the Bible. I once had a running partner who was an Evangelical pastor, and after three years he still couldn't convince me, even with his vast knowledge in apologetic's. I would like nothing better than find that belief and faith, to work around the logic and doubt lodged in my mind. To have that community, the sharing of those deeply held convictions. To allow the ad hoc explanations for the contradictions, the faults, the outright immorality found in the good book.

When we speak with someone on a given topic, one of our first responses is to find common ground, to create harmony and connection in conversation (ie: Where you from? Really? I live only a couple miles from you). We do this instinctively; we are pack animals, we want safety, connection and trust.

To the word, empathy. Listening to those who believe, I cannot get to any sort of empathetic position for your belief; its an empty glass. Vaporous. No, not even vaporous; Null. I cannot have any empathy for anyone who claims a belief in God; I can only have questions, which I continually ask when given the chance.

On the other hand, ANYONE who has Christian beliefs understands perfectly my position of non-belief; if you doubt that, Christian friends, consider Islam. You have no trouble dismissing the God of Islam under the pretense of non-belief; whether you've ever considered it or not, we are all ATHEIST NON-BELIEVERS from someone else's religious perspective.

So, Christian friends, before we converse on the belief in the Christian God, if our discourse is strictly on the Islamic God (or even better, Evolution), you and I, we will surely find common ground. We share the same thoughts, mis-givings, questions, and logic. We have empathy you and I. As I do with the Islamic believer when discussing the non-belief in the Christian God. We are all empathetic with others when it comes to non-belief; it just depends on whose God we are discussing.

The only difference between you and I: I extend it one non-belief further than you do.

I do not know and probably will never experience what it feels like to know or believe in the Christian God, though I tried for a long time. I cannot fake it, or declare I do believe, without a deep fundamental misgiving that I am lying. Lying at my core. I was once given the advice to 'fake it until you feel it', which felt even worse. Faking creates a wall, a receptacle of the lie, and the original conviction only grows stronger, not weaker. I don't recommend that tactic. Its something akin to brain washing.

So, I hope in this short post, I hope, we have found empathy you and I. We both use a critical eye to look dispassionately and logically, trying to find the evidence, discarding faulty thinking and unreasonable belief. If only in the negative space; the emptiness, the void of the thousands of other options in the word non-belief.

Its what we've got; its our empathy, yours and mine.

So dear readers, for the first time in a loooooong time I am opening up this post for comments.

(Footnote Warnings. If you start quoting the bible as evidence for your belief in it, I will declare your logic circular and immediately dismiss it. Example: I have a book that was written by a pink elephant. I know the pink elephant exists because I have the book, and it says he exists. Another example, called un-falsifiable evidence: He is invisible and lives in my pocket; you are asked to disprove it. The burden of proof should always lie with the one who makes a claim, not the other way around. This last example is more on the existence of God and not your belief in him, I provide it mostly as a warning to think critically.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Do No Harm





So two days after my Ozark DNF, I am putting some reflection on it. First, I am 99% sure I would have made it with no repercussions. However, it was that 1% that stopped me, because of the ramifications of that 1%.

Ir-repairable harm to my heart, and/or forever ending my running career. Forget about DEATH, I was worried about LIVING with a really bad decision; and maybe still DNF'ing just at a later time. My heart was BLIPPING an extra beat about every 5 minutes. Its a feeling like your drummer is out of syncopation. I have had it before; its a sign of over-training and too much stress (work this time).

I had a chance to think long and hard about while I was running that last 10 miles. For two and a half hours, I dissected my logic to drop. I tried to take out whatever pain I was feeling; which was about none, actually. I have felt much worse on three of my four 50 milers. My legs felt great, sort of like they had about 20 miles on them; energy level was through the roof; I had managed my nutrition better than I have ever done. I could have 'mailed in' another 10 or so to make it to total of 50 miles, but you can't do that with a hundred miler.

Logic simply said to weigh the cost-benefit, the risk-reward of continuing onward.

And the risk, however small was too great, too big of a price to pay if my decision to continue turned out to be the wrong one. As an ultra runner, like most, I am my own best doctor. That holds true ONLY when I can be objective about my decisions not being colored by my desires. I had a desire to run 100 miles, and I had to take that out of the equation when I made my choice. Then it became easy.

DO NO HARM
.

Do no harm does not equate to inaction, meaning do nothing. The choice to STOP is an action, not inaction. Logically speaking, I had to choose, there was not a "no choice, no action" option in this case.

This does not mean I am not disappointed. On the contrary. Now, I've got a pebble in my shoe. Just like when I DNF'd my first 50, it gave me the resolve and drive and commitment to do what it takes to get it done.

I am definitely not done with the HUNDO. Not even close.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting My Kicks




Its been called “The Mother Road”, officially “The Will Rogers Highway”, “Main Street of America”, and finally “The Most Famous Road in the World”.

From 1926 to 1985, that iconic road existed from Chicago to Los Angeles. Named Route 66. It was an idea, a collection of roads, and to travel it was to travel for the journey as much as the destination.

So this weekend, I’ll take the vapor trail of the Route 66 past St Louis, into a rural area south called Steelville, MO. I’ll have the honor of wearing the number 66 in my attempt at 100 miles. 102, to be more specific.

How to prepare for a journey longer than any other you’ve taken? One mile at a time, one Aid Station at a time. Remembering first, its about the journey, and not the destination.

Frankly, there have been times and days recently when I believed I just wanted to say I’ve run a hundred miles, not that I actually wanted to do it. I wanted to get there, and wear the mantle.

But that’s just ego talking. You can’t run a hundred miles by being impatient; by trying to be there, instead of here.

I really want to run a hundred miles, not say I’ve run a hundred miles.

Route 66, it was about the journey. The diners, the roadside attractions, the miles, each one holding the promise of something new and exciting. Watching the miles go by from the back seat of a station wagon when I was 10 years old, I didn’t want to be anywhere but right there, at that moment.

Fields of corn and wheat zipped by, gas station soda pop from a clear bottle. Red and orange and yellow. A jack knife from an old Indians road side store. I still have it.

So one hundred miles. I don’t know if I can do it, I don’t know what will happen. But I’ll give it my best shot. Always do.

Closing:

A travelin’ man,

Knows ease and speed,

He carries with

All he needs

Burma Shave.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pacing at Ozark

Here is my pace calculations for Ozark. Obviously it won't be this even, given course anomalies, weather, crying jags, questioning my sanity, breakdowns, AS time etc. But at least its a starting point.

Ozark
Aid Station Miles into race Next Seg Dist Total T Segment T Cut-off Time Clock reads:
Start 0 8 0 2:08
6:00 AM
Grasshopper Hollow 8 9.6 2:08 2:33
8:08 AM
Sutton Bluff (1)* 17.6 5.2 4:41 1:23 11:30 AM 10:41 AM
Stillwell Hollow 22.8 5.2 6:04 1:23 12:45 PM 12:04 PM
Johnson Hollow 28 6.8 7:28 1:48 2:30 PM 1:28 PM
Gunstock Hollow (2) 34.8 8.7 9:16 2:19 4:15 PM 3:16 PM
Brooks Creek (3)* 43.5 7.5 11:36 2:00 6:30 PM 5:36 PM
Highway DD (4) 51 8.2 13:36 2:35 9:00 PM 7:36 PM
Martin Road 59.2 9.3 16:11 2:56 11:45 PM 10:11 PM
Hazel Creek (5)* 68.5 7 19:08 2:13 3:00 AM 1:08 AM
Machell Hollow 76.1 5.4 21:21 1:42 5:30 AM 3:21 AM
Berryman campground (6)* 81.5 6.5 23:04 2:03 7:30 AM 5:04 AM
Billy’s Branch 88 7 25:07 2:13 10:00 AM 7:07 AM
Henpeck Hollow (7)* 95 7 27:20 2:13 12:00 PM 9:20 AM
Finish – Bass RR 102 0 29:33 0 2:00 PM 11:33 AM







First half pace 16





Second half pace 19





Numbers are Drop bag locations





Asterisks are Crew Access





Friday, October 28, 2011

Trippin'

One week to an epic road trip down to Missouri. Down a fabled road way, that no longer exists. A road that once ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.







Oh yeah, got my race number for the Hundo.

Sixty Six.

Nice.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ZIP




So, I have been "down' for a week. No running for 6 days. Nada. I started to have doubts about doing the 100 miler in Nov, let alone actually finishing it.

I was zapped. Tired. Fatigued. So I took nearly a week off, to let my system catch up. Legs felt OK, but I just had no energy. Some of it was running, some of it was work. Lots of stress there, given a variety of unknowns.

Today, I feel like the ZIP is back. I am excited again for the attempt at 100 miles. (I need to get some planning done!)

I will do somewhere between 15 and 20 today, but really slow (no watch). No stress on the legs. I will probably stay out for 4 hours, mostly because it looks like such a beautiful day.

Running time is play time. Get out and play today!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Elimination




Random Foolish Question of the Day:

Creationist typically criticize "natural selection" by claiming the mechanism to trigger "change" is absent.

I think this is a valid argument.

But what if natural selection works the other way around?

Attrition/elimination of those things/organisms that DON'T have an attribute, thus leaving the gene pool filled with those that do. The stronger the characteristic, the more that gene or trait is emphasized. Maybe the 'change' is simply the change in the environment. That change is well documented (ice ages, volcanoes, meteors).

I have not researched this angle at all, so don't throw arguments my way.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Down By Law




Newton formulated three laws of motion, and the first states (paraphrased and misquoted): that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest, unless acted upon by an external force.

For the first weekend since I can remember, I am at rest, having been in motion for the entire summer.

Over the past four months, I've been either running or training for 50 mile races (4 in 90 calendar days), with hiking, backpacking and kayak trips sprinkled in between.

Unlike physics, the forces exerting on me come from within.

Desire and Discipline.

Discipline is the opposing force on desire. The discipline to follow though on long term goals is very very hard in a world of instant gratification, and one where our desire can blind us to obstacles; a desire without planning, without reason is just a wish. Discipline is seen as inertia to desire in our hearts. But really discipline is patient when desire wants to act. Discipline is not inaction, but planned and deliberate action.

Discipline says now its time to STOP the motion, at least temporarily; REST. Let the body come to rest, and recover.

Down.

What I need right now, is to stay down; reflect on the past four 50 mile races. Look for the things I did right, the things I did wrong, the things where I let desire impede my progress.

Down.

Over the past four months I have ping ponged between over planning (which leads to inflexibility) and under planning (which leads to mistakes). For the Ozark 100, coming up in three weeks I need to get down with a plan.

Look for a detailed plan here soon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seed





A seed is planted in my mind. An idea, a hatch ling that won't go away.

I tried to reason with it. Then I fought it. I tried to push it out, make it wait.

The whine of the buzz saw. The grinding of the grist mill.

I tried to pound it down, but an organic thing isn't stopped by all the industrial gears of logic toothing away at it.

Sigh. So I gave in. I signed up. More details to follow (look right Brother Grub).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Clang. Boom. Steam.

Clang. Boom. Steam. Three Running Stories




I have not made a habit of posting about running. Its not that I don't like to post about it, its just not all that interesting to me, its starts to sound kinda the same..... after a while. But, I'll make an exception for this week. I ran and hiked a total of 95 miles. My biggest total ever. By a long shot.

Chug chug chugging along. Riding the rail, life gets louder with the clang boom and steam of a rolling train.

CLANG: Superior, the rest of the story.

53 miles in the Superior Trail race. OK, the race was 52, but I got some bonus miles in due to getting lost. Wow, what an adventure I had. The race didn't turn out at all as I had 'planned', but I had an amazing time anyway. One of the best part was Jodie T. Jodie and I ran probably half of this race together, and I reported on it in my blog post over at the Lapham group site. I left a LOT of stuff out of that race report.

In short, let me say while I didn't do all that well in the race, and I hopefully helped out Jodie, I had my own motives to do what I did: I abandoned my race plan and stayed with a fellow runner to see her to the finish. So there was some compassionate, empathetic behavior going on from my part; I really wanted to see her finish that race.

I had two roads: one, in which I ran a sub-par race with a luke warm time. and Jodie does or doesn't finish. How would I feel about that had she quit? I would have second guessed any decision to leave her behind. The second, solution to my mind was to stay with her and give it a shot, and that's what I did. Did it make a difference? I certainly hope so, but I'll never know. The luke warm race result was easy to give up, and I have not had any misgivings for doing it.

Things are other things I learned on that run.

- Prepare and Execute. Don't let desire and expectations change your plan. THINK execution, not results.

- always have fun. This is play time, don't make a job of it by creating unrealistic expectations.

- Be prepared to fail, and not have it ruin your day. Be joyful in the efforts. Adjust your plan. Go with it.

- Every race is different! No two courses are the same, the conditions, everything. Every race is a gift, and an adventure.

- Stop trying to meet some time goal. Really, when I do that, I am running someone else's race. I don't frikin' care about TIME. I care about the effort. I will choose to run with who I want, and I will likely run with someone who is slower unless I choose to run alone. This, for me, is like family time. Learn something from whoever you run with. This is the gift. The time elapsed you will soon forget; the time well spent with someone you will not. Case in point: one of the best runs of the year, Pacing Angela. Time for me was never a factor. From today on, I refuse to predict any finish time. It has zero payback, its a no win. I'll take the time spent with my fellow runners any day.

- From today on, I refuse to wear a watch. Its not about getting there quicker, its about being here. Running fast and efficient doesn't get easier because you are watching a watch or GPS (that's the measure). I want to run with grace, the time takes care of itself as a result of running well; as a result of good execution.

BOOM:More Superior, being out there for the fun of it.

Robyn and I hiked for three more days on the Superior trail, getting in about 20 miles. OK, its not running, but it was moving, and that trail dictated a slower pace anyway. We hiked The Split Rock river trail, the area around Tettagouche State Park, and the area that leads up to Bean and Bear Lakes. We had great weather, and a great time doing it. We camped under the most brilliant moon, all three nights. It was so bright, that when the moon was low on the horizon coming off the lake, I had to actually shield my eyes while walking down a path.

STEAM: Running with Nebraska Bobbi.

I was set up to sweep 22 miles of the North face 50 mile course this past weekend. Brad B and I had started at Emma Carlin on the Ice Age trail. If you are not familiar with sweeping; the role is to get behind the last runner, and pick up all the course markings and arrows, as well as make sure the course is 'clear' of anyone out there still running.

I found a drivers license laying on the trail about a 1/2 mile into the job. It belonged to a woman from Nebraska. I put it into Brads pack for return later after our duties were complete.

After making contact with the slowest runner, we plodded along, picking up trash, removing flags. It was a glorious day, temps in the 60's, sunny. We came into the area at McMiller, which is a CC ski park, and suddenly the last place runner changed places with another runner, so we stuck with her for a while. Brad started to chat with her, and asked her where she was from.

Nebraska.

Huh. Uh, lady, I think I found your drivers license.

Her name is Bobbi, and she was there with her husband, Ron. He's a nice guy; and we actually caught him at mile 40 after pacing Bobbi for about 8 miles. The two of them had 9.5 miles to go, and were now going to run it in together.

But there was a problem. They had made the last cut off, but the pace had slowed because Bobbi had hurt her foot. I radioed in about our situation, and the RD said they could keep going but it would be an unoffical finish if they came in after 6 pm. It was now 3:30 pm. So Brad and I decided to stay with them and finish.

It took three and a half hours.

Patience, and perseverance. You can't give it lip service, you have to live and breathe it to your core. I talked to Bobbi for several hours, to take her mind off the pain in her foot. She finished. With tears streaming down her face. She was grateful, beyond words. It was a cool sight, to see her tough it out. It was one of the gutsiest running performances I have ever seen. Reaching the finish line, there were no runners left, no one to cheer for Bobbi's efforts.

None.

But, the North Face people were very cool. They hung out an extra hour, created a big scene at the end, music, tunnel of people with raised hands, and they saved them some food. Bobbi shivered in the cold, and we got her covered up and tried to get her to eat. They gave her a medal, I gave her a clothes pin with the flagging tape from the course. Her husband drove the van over, we got her in. they drove away, and Bobbi was smiling. Bobbi, Thank you for the inspiration, thank you for the lessons on perseverance. You are one tough cookie.


Station to Station.

Whistle. Whoosh. Stop. 95 Miles. All out.