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

  • 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.


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


  • 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.


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.