Monday, June 22, 2015

Rabbi Jonathon Sacks

“Atheism deserves better than the new atheists,whose methodology consists of criticizing religion without understanding it, quoting texts without contexts, taking exceptions as the rule, confusing folk belief with reflective theology, abusing, ridiculing, and demonizing religious faith and holding it responsible for the great crimes against humanity. Religion has done harm; I acknowledge that. But the cure for bad religion is good religion, not no religion, just as the cure for bad science is good science, not the abandonment of science.”

Rabbi Sacks speaks a language that I understand. I plan to read many of his books. I started with The Great Partnership (Five Stars!). Rabbi Sacks inspires me.


 
 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ironman Arizona 2014

A few brief comments written soon after the Ironman Arizona November 16, 2014:

The Swim
The Tempe Town Lake water level was lower than normal, had no visibility, and over 3202 crazy athletes fought  hard for positioning as we swam the first half of the swim directly into a blinding sunrise. Everybody was aggressive.  I bumped into swimmers the whole time. And these swimmers were not inclined to just glance off my body but they would actually push off my body to try to get ahead. I kept thinking: water polo. There were log jams in the swim. I kept reminding myself that I was not having fun yet. About four or five times I repeated in my head, “I suck at swimming” (and I don’t ever use that expression). Swim 01:14:51. Not bad.
 
The Bike
I loved the three loop course but unfortunately it was a windy day (but not as windy as my 2005 Ironman Arizona). The wind slowed my progress to 10.5 mph for a few brief moments as I neared the turnaround point on the Bee Line Highway but I tried to make up for it by hammering on the return with a tailwind (max speed of 37.7 mph). The exhilaration of flying back to town made me feel that I wasn’t working hard but my heart rate actually remained about the same as when I was climbing into the wind. I passed people steadily on the bike but on the third lap I had to be more careful when passing riders who were still on their second lap. Bike 05:27:26. Respectable.
 
The Run
It didn’t take long to realize that I undertrained the run (I suspected as much). I started cramping at around mile four. I ran easy to find my running legs and relax the cramps in my left quad. I thought that my legs would loosen up eventually. When I started to become alarmed that my legs were not settling in to the run, I decided that I was going to flood my system with fluids, calories, and electrolytes. I decided not to worry about potential gastrointestinal problems like I had last time (Ironman Arizona 2005), nor worry about needing to take many port-a-potty breaks if I drank too much. I thought that my priority should be to feed my legs. And I did. I walked through every aid station and drank, and drank, and drank Perform, ate ripe bananas, had some Gu gels, water, Red Bull, and Cola. I must have used the port-a-potty 10 times including mile 25, haha. My stomach was fine but my legs just got worse. Not even my Hoka One One Bondi Bs could compensate for my lack of training for the run. But I made it...barely. Run 04:48:04. Lame.
 
Random Thoughts:
Ironman is just too long to be practical.
There was an army of ironman volunteers and they were wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Here is just one example of what I mean: At the end of the day one volunteer offered to get my transition bags for me. And after I told him my number he ran, did not walk, to retrieve my bags and hand them to me.
I had the best shirts on the course and they were complimented.
Most runners were getting cold during the marathon because they were still wearing their sleeveless lycra shirts. Not me, though, and a few other wise ones.
There were not enough port-a-potties at the start line!!!
I saw many funny signs on the course. One made me laugh out loud: “If you are not divorced, you are not training hard enough.”
I saw many people with the Ironman logo tattooed on their calves or ankles.
As I strolled through the Ironman merchandise tent I couldn’t stop thinking that the act of wearing all that groovy Ironman attire would be an act of shameless boasting. So I only got one cycling jersey so that I could be a more modest boaster.
I had two goals for this Ironman: Finish in under 12 hours and feel good doing it. I achieved the first goal.
My name was printed on my race number and hundreds of spectators used my name as they cheered me on. But two different times I heard Pam’s voice say only one syllable as I quickly passed by her and without seeing her in the crowd. “Todd,” she said. Only one syllable and I knew it was Pam.
After the race we stayed with Kristina’s family. Kristina had been following my Ironman progress all day on her smart phone. She asked me if I thought of myself as an athlete and I responded that I prefer to think of myself as a life-long fitness enthusiast.  I want to live a balanced life. Ironman is something that I have done but it is not my label or identity. In fact I don’t have any label that I would give to myself.

I beat 85% of all the participants and did very well except for the run.

Time 11:43:26
(almost as good as Ironman Arizona April 9, 2005 11:42:47)

Note to self: Don't do another Ironman.
 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rick Santelli: "Stop Spending!"

Rick Santelli suggests that perhaps the government should stop spending:
 
 
 
Rick Santelli's most famous rant (below):

 
 
The Best of Rick Santelli:


I like Santelli's candor.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/08/17654349-the-quotable-thatcher-15-of-her-best-quips?lite

"I don't think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime." (BBC, 3/5/73)

"Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them." (Thames TV, 2/5/76)

"Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country." (BBC, 1979)

"Pennies don't fall from heaven, they have to be earned here on earth." (Speech at Lord Mayor's Banquet, 11/12/79)
 
"No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well." (London Weekend Television, 1/6/80)
 
"My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day's work for an honest day's pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police." (News of the World, 9/20/81)

"You know, if you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything, wouldn't you, at any time? And you would achieve nothing!" (Interview for Press Association, 5/3/89)

"The choice facing the nation is between two totally different ways of life. And what a prize we have to fight for: no less than the chance to banish from our land the dark, divisive clouds of Marxist socialism and bring together men and women from all walks of life who share a belief in freedom." (May 1983)

"Throughout my life, I've always believed that life's path is determined by a Force more powerful than fate. I feel the Lord has brought us together for a profound purpose and that I have been richly blessed for having known you." (From eulogy to Reagan, 2004)

"We fought to show that aggression does not pay and that the robber cannot be allowed to get away with his swag. We fought with the support of so many throughout the world... Yet we also fought alone." (7/3/82, on Falkland Islands War)

"It was a lovely morning. We have not had many lovely days. And the sun was just coming through the stained glass windows and falling on some flowers right across the church and it just occurred to me that this was the day I was meant not to see." (10/15/84, following an assassination attempt by IRA)

"It pays to know the enemy - not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend." ("The Downing Street Years", 9/8/83)

"To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects." (Speech at Monash University, 10/6/81)

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning." (Speech at Conservative Party Conference, 1980)

"I've got a woman's ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it." (BBC, speech in 1975)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to Invest Money

When students ask me how to invest money I tell them to read everything at the Bogleheads Forum and then Vanguard.com.

http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Bogleheads_Investment_Philosophy

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/index.php

https://investor.vanguard.com/corporate-portal



Know and follow John Bogle.




Sunday, August 26, 2012

"A badass on the bike" -Floyd Landis

“To all the cynics, I'm sorry for you, ... I'm sorry you can't believe in miracles... This is a great sporting event and hard work wins it.” -Lance Armstrong (Farewell speech at the Champs-Élysées podium, after winning his seventh Tour de France.)

Much has been written about Lance Armstrong that I will not repeat here, but I do want to write a few things.

I have had a picture of Lance Armstrong in my office for maybe eight years (Tour de France 2003 Stage 15 Luz Ardiden). I watched him daily starting at 5:30 A.M.PST during the Tour de France. I watched bicycle racing DVDs for countless hours while exercising on my indoor trainer. I followed Lance's twitter updates during his comeback. I cannot think of any other athlete that has captured my attention and imagination as Lance has. I always rooted hard for Lance.

Over the years I kept abreast of doping allegations but I was never too concerned about the possibility that Lance was a doper; I assumed he was. I assumed that all the top cycling competitors were doping to the extent that the doping controls could not definitively detect; all those that finished on the podium in the Tour de France during the years of Lance's seven victories were all involved in some doping scandal in their careers. Moreover, I figured that since Lance only had one testicle, he had to be getting his testosterone from somewhere. His hematocrit was always very "healthy," but never exceeded 50 percent. Besides all this, Lance passed over 500 drug tests (or did he?). In spite of all the hearsay and allegations I have always been excited by Lance's extreme competitiveness. Floyd Landis even admits, "He was a badass on the bike."

One interesting point about all this is that even though I have long considered Lance to be an under-the-radar doper, I have rooted for him nonetheless. I have enjoyed the hero's tale. And Lance is a hero of sorts. I think that Lance quite possibly would have been the best cyclist of his generation anyway; we'll never know for sure.I am not excusing Lance, just saying that I've enjoyed him regardless, for being an entertaining, fierce competitor. The real shame is that he was allowed to go on for so long. There is something very unjust about the belated justice that is being meted out to Lance now.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing for me is to watch the familiar patterns of human behavior in the attacks, denials, and defenses.

And as usual the real heroes are unsung.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Free Will

I had long avoided studying the concept of free will until I read a book called Conversations on Consciousness: What the Best Minds Think about the Brain, Free Will, and What It Means to Be Human by Susan Blackmore. In this book, Blackmore asked many of the best thinkers of the new science of mind if they believed in free will and consciousness. I was surprised that for the most part this set of thinkers explained away both free will and consciousness as illusions. What?

Rene Descartes said, "I think, therefore, I am." This statement was the axiomatic starting point upon which Descartes wanted to rethink all of philosophy. But according to Blackmore's collection of great minds, even Descartes' philosophical axiom is false. What?

Finally the issue of free will has become interesting to me. (I will address consciousness in a separate post.)

My childhood training on this subject included the Book of Mormon verse that God "created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are,"both things to act and things to be acted upon" (2 Nephi 2:14).

So my bias is toward a belief in free will. But a belief in free will is so natural and pervasive that even Descartes considered it to be the unassailable bedrock of his philosophy. Everybody naturally believes in free will.

The strongest argument against free will is called determinism which basically says that all effects have causes, and all behaviors and choices are caused by events outside the control of individuals. For example a person cannot choose not to yawn, sneeze, or have a bowel movement, etc. (I admit that I am oversimplifying here.) The problem with denying that free will exists, as is so commonly done in the scientific community, is that it follows that no one can be held responsible for his or her actions since they have no free will.

So I believe in free will for practical reasons, first of all.

In recent years the scientific vogue has been toward a reductionist emphasis that causes come from the bottom (subatomic particles) and work their way up through atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, and eventually to human beings who are controlled by the underlying forces.

I am going to be short and unscientific here: I believe that some forces come from below but I also believe that the emergent consciousness of human beings can, within many constraints, make choices that have effects that work their way back down the chain. So there is both upward causation and downward causation.

There is much here that judicial systems need to ponder but as far as I'm concerned, people have the power and agency to make choices. And the consequences of those choices have very real effects in the undetermined future.

So this boring topic of free will is important because the denial of free will leads to a denial of responsibility, and the belief in a deterministic universe may lead to feelings of helplessness and the futility of trying to build a better world.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Movies (mostly family)

Natalie and I sat down and she helped me recall my favorite movies. Natalie read through the family collection to jog our memories. Then we rented a movie at Red Box and bought slurpies.

We don't own R rated movies, thanks to Pam. And I am happy about that. Nowadays most kids have easy access to R rated movies, even porn. I can't see how this is a good thing.

This list is hopelessly incomplete but I'll leave it as is.

2008 Iron Man
2008 Fool's Gold
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
2004 The Bourne Supremacy
2004 Napolean Dynamite
2003 The Rundown
2003 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
2002 The Bourne Identity
2001 Zoolander
2001 Rat Race
2001 A Knight's Tale
2000 Shanghai Noon
1999 The Mummy
1993 Jurassic Park
1993 Groundhog Day
2001 "Crocodile" Dundee in Los Angeles
1992 Wayne's World
1990 Back to the Future Part III
1989 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
1989 Back to the Future Part II
1988 The Great Outdoors
1988 Rambo III R
1988 Die Hard
1988 "Crocodile" Dundee
1987 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles R
1986 Three Amigos!
1986 "Crocodile" Dundee
1985 Back to the Future
1985 Rambo: First Blood Part II R
1985 Back to the Future
1984 Romancing the Stone
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
1982 Rocky III
1982 First Blood R
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark
1980 Seems Like Old Times
1979 Rocky II
1976 Pumping Iron
1975 Jaws
1973 Tom Sawyer
1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
1971 Fiddler on the Roof
1971 Bedknobs and Broomsticks
1969 The Computer that Wore Tennis Shoes
1968 The Love Bug
1967 The Jungle Book
1967 The Happiest Millionaire
1965 The Sound of Music
1965 The Greatest Story Ever Told
1964 Mary Poppins
1964 A Hard Day's Night
1963 Son of Flubber
1962 In Search of Castaways
1960 Swiss Family Robinson
1959 Ben Hur
1956 The Ten Commandments
1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
1951 Alice in Wonderland
1939 The Wizard of Oz

Albums I've Returned to a Lot (work in progress)

2012 TBA
2011 TBA
2010 TBA
2009 TBA
2008 TBA
2007 TBA
2006 Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
2005 Van Morrison Magic Time
2004 TBA
2003 TBA
2002 TBA
2001 TBA
2000 Elliott Smith Figure 8
1999 Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning
1998 Jewel Spirit
1996 Counting Crows Recovering the Satellites
1995 Tracy Chapman New Beginnings
1995 Queen Made in Heaven
1995 Jewel Pieces of You
1994 The Cult Ceremony
1994 Live Throwing Copper
1993 Counting Crows August and Everything After
1990 Jeff Lynne Armchair Theatre
1993 10,000 Maniacs MTV Unplugged
1992 REM Automatic for the People
1992 10,000 Maniacs Our Time in Eden
1991 Queen Innuendo
1991 Ozzy Osbourne No More Tears
1991 Crowded House Woodface
1989 Tracy Chapman Crossroads
1989 Queen The Miracle
1989 Paul McCartney Flowers in the Dirt
1989 Lenny Kravitz Let Love Rule
1988 Tracy Chapman
1988 Freddie Mercury Barcelona (with Montserrat Caballé)
1988 Crowded House Temple of Low Men
1987 Def Leppard Hysteria
1987 10,000 Maniacs In My Tribe
1986 Queen A Kind of Magic
1986 Crowded House
1985 Freddie Mercury Mr. Bad Guy
1985 Les Miserables London Cast
1985 Big River (musical)
1984 Roger Waters The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking
1984 REO Speedwagon Wheels Are Turnin
1984 Queen The Works
1983 Elton John Too Low for Zero
1983 Def Leppard Pyromania
1982 Queen Hot Space
1981 Rush Moving Pictures
1981 Ozzy Osbourne Diary of a Madman
1981 Elvis Costello and The Attractions Trust
1981 Electric Light Orchestra Time
1980 Queen The Game
1980 Elvis Costello and The Attractions Get Happy!!
1979 Queen Live Killers
1979 Pink Floyd The Wall
1979 Led Zeppelin In Through the Out Door
1979 Fleetwood Mac Tusk
1979 Elvis Costello and The Attractions Armed Forces
1978 Queen Jazz
1978 Paul McCartney & Wings London Town
1978 Emerson Lake & Palmer Love Beach
1978 Elvis Costello and The Attractions This Year’s Model
1977 Julio Iglesias A Mis 33 Anos
1977 Roberto Carlos Amigo
1977 Pink Floyd Animals
1977 Queen News of the World
1977 Pink Floyd Animals
1977 Fleetwood Mac Rumours
1977 Emerson Lake & Palmer Works Volume 1
1977 Elvis Costello My Aim Is True
1977 Electric Light Orchestra Out of the Blue
1977 Billy Joel The Stranger
1976 Rush 2112
1976 Queen A Day at the Races
1976 Paul McCartney & Wings Wings over America
1976 Electric Light Orchestra A New World Record
1976 Boston
1975 Triumvirat Spartacus (1975)
1975 Queen A Night at the Opera
1975 Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here
1975 Paul McCartney & Wings Venus and Mars
1975 Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
1975 Jethro Tull Minstrel in the Gallery
1975 Fleetwood Mac
1975 Elton John Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
1975 Electric Light Orchestra Face the Music
1975 Aerosmith Toys in the Attic
1974 Triumvirat Illusions on a Double Dimple
1974 Queen Sheer Heart Attack
1974 Queen II
1974 Elton John Caribou
1973 Queen
1973 Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon
1973 Paul McCartney & Wings Red Rose Speedway
1973 Paul McCartney & Wings Band on the Run
1973 Emerson Lake & Palmer Brain Salad Surgery
1973 Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
1973 Elton John Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
1973 David Bowie Aladdin Sane
1972 Emerson Lake & Palmer Trilogy
1972 Elton John Honky Château
1972 David Bowie Ziggy Stardust
1971 Led Zeppelin IV
1971 John Lennon Plastic Ono Band
1971 John Lennon Imagine
1971 Emerson Lake & Palmer Tarkus
1971 Elton John Madman Across the Water
1970 Beatles Let It Be
1969 Beatles Abbey Road1968 Beatles The Beatles White Album
1967 Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
1967 Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
1966 Beatles Revolver
1965 Beatles Rubber Soul
1965 Beatles Help!
1964 Beatles A Hard Day's Night

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Indoor Rowing

[Temporarily borrowed photo of the British Indoor Rowing Championship.]

I had been training for the 2012 Tour de Tucson but was having difficulty finding the motivation to put in the necessary miles. Then two weeks before the event I learned that my friend whom I was planning to meet in Tucson had pulled out of the event. I was discouraged and relieved at the same time. That same day I ordered online a Concept2E rowing machine (ergometer).

The purchase of this erg was less impulsive than it sounds, as I had been talking about it for several years but was waiting for my enthusiasm for cycling to die down. (There is some literal truth to this as my good cycling friend Fred Fischer actually did die unexpectedly). Furthermore, as I approached my 50th birthday, I wanted to do something new.

My erg arrived on November 7, 2011. Erik, Grant, and I set it up and did what comes naturally; we all attempted a 500m sprint and recorded the results. My initial goals were to achieve a 2k in under 7 minutes and achieve the 90th percentile in my age group.  Well, since it only took me 15 days to go under 7 minutes, I started to make some more ambitious goals.

I learned that in the Southwest USA there are two main indoor rowing competitions, the San Diego Indoor Classic (Jan 28, 2012), and the Long Beach Indoor Sprints (Feb 4, 2012). At first I wanted to attend those events as a spectator but then I decided that I should compete and use the ambiance to achieve a personal best.

I fanatically read the Concept2 forums to learn all I could about training and racing strategies--especially drag factors was a big concern of mine. I knew that my cardiovascular system was in peak condition (almost) from cycling, and my legs were also strong, but my back and arms were a little atrophied from all the cycling. Since I naturally have a strong back, and since there have been times in my life that I have worked my back hard with weights and yard work, I had a pretty good idea about how long it would take to build my upper-body strength.

My training strategy was fairly simple. I tried to spend as much time at race pace as possible without over training (short intervals). That means my total volume was low but my quality was high. I rowed five or six days a week, two speed days per week and one or two tempo days per week. I allowed my body weight to increase to 208. It was really enjoyable not to have to keep my weight down as I did in cycling events. In rowing my extra weight would not be the handicap it was in cycling, although extra fat is still a handicap.

On Feb 4th I drove myself to San Diego and couldn't find the event or a parking space. So after a bit of panic I finally parked a mile away at Mission Beach and hiked to the competition. I was greeted by a happy woman at the registration table but all I could say was, "I didn't know there would be no parking; I didn't train for that." She happily said, "Well, now you know."  I tried to muster a little happiness and wistfully said without making eye contact, "Maybe I'm taking this competition too seriously."

I walked around and sized up the event and saw Steve Krum, age group world champion for the last two years, who unfortunately was in my race. So I had no illusions about winning on this day. I simply had my own target pace and was attempting to achieve a new personal best.

When it was time to stage, I was in lane one, David Frost (President of the San Diego Rowing Club and past winner) lined up next to me in lane two. Steve Krum was in lane three. Two of the race officials approached Frost and Krum and said that they would be putting their foot on the back of their machines to prevent their machines from hopping during the first few violent pulls (legal assistance). Immediately I turned to the officials and asked, "Is this a service that you provide everyone?"  The race officials looked at each other quizzically and one said, "We can." In retrospect I wish I had said nothing but I was feeling edgy and competitive, about to have a self-inflicted near death experience and wanting every microsecond.

"Sit Ready." "Attention." Row!" And we were off. I raced without my glasses and could not read the bottom half of my screen to know what place I was in. I didn't care because I was doing my own thing. I had targeted a pace of 1:39 per 500m. I did not want to do what is called a "fly and die" which is when beginners go out too fast at first and then can barely finish. My race strategy was even splits, start to finish, which I achieved. I finished in 6:36.8 drag factor 135, second place to Krum and third for the entire event. I was happy with that. Afterward, Frost and I shook hands and he said, "See you on the water," which to me suggested that he was a little frustrated about losing to two ergers who had never rowed on the water. Ha.

Afterward there were a few people who were interested to know who I was. One of the race officials said that while I was rowing, they were trying to figure out who I was (and probably if I was going to fly and die). I must have looked a little funny because my stroke rate per minute was probably the highest of the day, which means that I was relying on cardiovascular fitness more than strength to achieve my results.

It seems that I am a small rower when compared to others at my speed. In rowing I have to compete against Goliaths, many of whom I can slay but there are some that I can never slay--physically impossible.

The next week in Long Beach I improved my time to 6:34.5 drag factor 140. The Long Beach event seemed bigger and had some more very fast times. I saw Krum again, and also Mike Caviston who was another age group world champion and author of the famous Wolverine Plan for rowing training. But the highlight was another guy, Jack Nunn, who was the best rower of the day. I talked to him a bit after his race and he told me that he was using a drag factor of 140 with a stroke rate of 31. I concluded then that if such a musclar guy could use a drag of 140 then I surely do not need to go any higher, if that, but I will experiment.

I hung around until the end of the event and then purchased one of the almost-new machines to bring back home to my cycling buddy, Brian McNeece and his wife Angie, which I set up in their house and gave them a quick introduction. I hope they become converts and will want to compete next year.

I still haven't decided how far I want to take this rowing thing. For now I am going to focus on yardworkouts.

Check out this clip of Cracknell and Pinsent in one of the all time great match ups.



Training for First Indoor Rowing Competitions 2012

What follows comes from my the Concept2 Logbook. I preserve it here as a benchmark and reference for comparison with future training.
Meters & Time     Date          Pace & Comments
 
2500              2/4/2012      warm up
2000 6:34.5       2/4/2012      1:38.6
Long Beach Indoor Sprints PB
Second Place (age group) 

1000              2/3/2012      1:57.3(26)d140 
1013              2/3/2012      1:54.4(28)d140
 
1005              2/1/2012      1:55.8(26)d140 
 500              2/1/2012      1:41.8(33)d140 
 200              2/1/2012      1:33.0(45)d140 
1008              2/1/2012      2:11.7(23)d140 
 200              2/1/2012      1:36.2(45)d140 
1000              2/1/2012      1:58.8(26)d140
 
1000              1/31/2012     1:59.7(26)d90 
1000              1/31/2012     1:54.7(25)d120 
1098              1/31/2012     
(Intervals 5x200@3'r d140)
1:34.0(41)
1:34.0(40)
1:28.5(66)
1:36.0(37)
1:37.0(40)
r98
Still weak from last. Next race 4 days. 
1000              1/31/2012     1:56.9(26)d140
 
1059              1/30/2012     2:04.0(24)d102 
1004              1/30/2012     1:57.5(27)d114 
1000              1/30/2012     1:51.5(27)d135 
 500              1/30/2012     1:34.4(35)d153mhr179 
1000              1/30/2012     1:50.3(30)d135
 
2500              1/28/2012     warm up
2000 6:36.8       1/28/2012     1:39.2(34?)
San Diego Indoor Classic
2nd Place (age group)PB
3rd Place Overall

2500              1/27/2012     2:12.2(25)easy, including 10 pulls at race pace.
 
4000              1/25/2012     4x1k easy with a few accelerations.Felt sluggish.
 
3020              1/23/2012     easy 
 200              1/23/2012     1:38.0(38)d135 
1000 3:06.6       1/23/2012     1:33.3(38)
(43)152 1:31.5
(36)168 1:30.5
(40)172 1:30.5
(36)177 1:32
(39)180 1:33
(38)182 1:34
(35)182 1:34
(38)182 1:35.5
(40)182 1:36.5
(38)181 
 733              1/23/2012     2:39.4(23)easy
 
1003              1/21/2012     2:04.7(27)d134 
 500              1/21/2012     1:48.7(29)d165mhr151 
 100              1/21/2012     1:32.5(58)d165mhr139 
 500 1:28.4       1/21/2012     1:28.4(44)d165mhr177
@100m
1:27.0(52)147
1:26.5(49)166
1:26.5(52)170
1:28.5(54)175
1:33.5(58)177
1st pull 2:00 
 506              1/21/2012     2:04.6(22)d134 
 500              1/21/2012     1:38.2(37)d134mhr173 
1000              1/21/2012     1:57.9(22)d115mhr163 
 500              1/21/2012     1:38.4(36)d135mhr174 
 550              1/21/2012     1:59.6(29)d135
 
1000              1/20/2012     1:52.5(30)mhr150d135 
 500              1/20/2012     1:44.9(35)mhr160 
 500              1/20/2012     1:40.1(37)mhr167 
 500              1/20/2012     1:39.0(38)mhr170 
 500              1/20/2012     1:37.8(38)mhr169 
 500              1/20/2012     1:34.7(43)mhr173 
 500              1/20/2012     2:01.2(28)
 
1000              1/18/2012     1:55.6(29)d130 
1000              1/18/2012     1:48.4(32)d130mhr163 
1000              1/18/2012     1:39.4(36)d130mhr181
hr@200m
152,168,175,177,179 
1000 00:00.0      1/18/2012     1:38.9(35)d130mhr181
hr@200m
158,170,175,179,181
 
 600              1/17/2012     2:03.0(23)d135mhr126 
 500              1/17/2012     1:48.4(30)d135mhr147 
 500              1/17/2012     1:45.4(34)d135mhr156 
 500              1/17/2012     1:46.1(34)d120mhr159 
2000              1/17/2012     1:45.9(33)d120mhr174
Was going for 5k but handled down. 
 500              1/17/2012     1:38.3(37)d120
First 100m 1:44.5(44) Back pain. 
 400              1/17/2012      
 500              1/16/2012     1:55.3(30)d140 
 500              1/16/2012     1:44.5(35)d140 
 500              1/16/2012     1:38.0(37)d140mhr168
hr@100m
136 1:40.0(45)
149
155
163
168 
 750              1/16/2012     1:38.1(36)d135mhr176
hr@100m
139 1:40(48)
153
162
167
172
174
176
176 
1241 4:00.0       1/16/12       1:36.6(39)d135
splits@1'
1:35.8(38)169mhr
1:36.7(35)177
1:37.4(36)181
1:36.4(37)180 
 500              1/16/2012     2:06.8(29)d135
 
 500              1/14/2012     1:51.2(28)d142 
 500              1/14/2012     1:39.0(33)d142mhr162 
 750              1/14/2012     1:38.4(33)d142
hr@100m
1 135
2 148
3 156
4 163
5 169
6 170
7 171
8 173 
1000              1/14/2012     1:39.7(34)d142
hr@100m
1 138 1:43.0
2 155 1:37.5
3 161
4 165
5 167
6 171
7 172
8 174
9 175
10 175 
1000              1/14/2012     1:39.1(33)d135
hr@100m
1 140 1:43.0
2 153 1:38.5
3 160
4 165
5 169
6 171
7 173
8 175
9 175
10 176
 
 500              1/13/2012     1:40.5(32)d137 
 500              1/13/2012     1:42.2(32)d149 
 500              1/13/2012     1:38.6(34)d183mhr174 
 500              1/13/2012     1:38.5(33)d183mhr173 
1200              1/13/2012     1:39.9(34)d142
splits@400m
1:40.3(34)mhr168
1:39.2(33)mhr178
1:39.7(34)mhr178

 
1037              1/12/2012     2:03.4(31)d81 
1018              1/12/2012     1:53.7(31)d106 
 500              1/12/2012     1:37.3(36)d157 
 750              1/12/2012     1:37.6(34)d142mhr176 
1000              1/12/2012     1:39.9(34)d128mhr177 
 750              1/12/2012     1:38.8(32)d180 
 500              1/12/2012     1:39.4(34)d135mhr170
Back still sore. Required 10-12 strokes to reach pace.
 
 500              1/11/2012     1:52.5(32)d102 
 513              1/11/2012     1:43.2(34)d119 
1000              1/11/2012     1:46.9(34)d119 
7547 30:00.0      1/11/2012     1:59.2(30)d119
Back still sore. Couldn't pull hard.
 
 500              1/10/2012     1:50.2(32) d102 
7505 30:00.0      1/10/2012     1:59.9d102r31.5
Back still too sore. Afterward I went to the mall and got a 20' table massage out in the open.
 
 500              1/9/2012      1:52.4 d162 
 500              1/9/2012      1:48.0 d162 
 500              1/9/2012      1:46.7 d162 
 500              1/9/2012      1:49.1 d127 
 250              1/9/2012      1:36.9 d127 
1600 5:20.1       1/9/2012      1:40.0 d127
splits@400m
1:39.2(36)mhr168
1:39.7(34)mhr177
1:40.2(32)mhr178
1:40.8(34)mhr177 
 400              1/9/2012     1:40.6 d127
Back still sore (right middle). Tried to warm it up but could not. Workout cut short. Couldn't pull hard.
 
1000              1/7/2012     2:04.9(28)d115 
1000              1/7/2012     1:48.1(32) 
2000              1/7/2012     1:49.0(32)mhr166 
 500              1/7/2012     2:02.0(26)d78
Limited workout due to sore back from shoveling in a.m.
 
 500              1/6/2012     1:53.0(29)d162 
 250              1/6/2012     1:38.2(35) 
 500              1/6/2012     1:37.3(35) 
 750              1/6/2012     1:38.7(33)mhr168 
1000              1/6/2012     1:38.7(33)mhr175 
 750              1/6/2012     1:38.2(34)mhr174 
 500              1/6/2012     1:34.6(38)mhr171 
 250              1/6/2012     1:31.0(43)mhr160
 
 500              1/5/2012     1:50.4 
4000 14:23.9      1/5/2012     1:47.9d133
split pace@5'
1:48.1
1:47.9
1:46.9
Handled down. Seriously tired from operating a trencher earlier this week. 
 500 1:49.0       1/5/2012     1:49.0(22) d116 
 500              1/5/2012     1:34.1(40) d116
 
7767 30:00.0      1/4/2012     1:55.8(28)d133
hr@5'splits: 145,156,162,175,167,170
 
 500              1/3/2012     1:41.8(33) d115 
 500              1/3/2012     1:57.9(18) 
1000              1/3/2012     1:44.8(32)mhr169 
1000              1/3/2012     1:43.8(32)mhr173 
 500              1/3/2012     1:39.4(33)mhr172
 
 500              1/2/2012     1:46.5 d161 
 500              1/2/2012     1:48.5 
 500              1/2/2012     1:47.5 
1600 5:19.9       1/2/2012     1:39.9
splits@400m
1:39.6(35)mhr172
1:39.6(32)mhr181
1:39.5(32)mhr185
1:41.3(33)mhr183
handled down on 2k 
 400              1/2/2012       1:48.3
 
 500              12/31/2011     1:46.1 d161.5 
 250              12/31/2011     1:37.6(34)mhr150 
 500              12/31/2011     1:36.9(33)mhr168 
 750              12/31/2011     1:37.0(32)mhr179 
1000              12/31/2011     1:38.8(33)mhr180 
 750              12/31/2011     1:38.2(34)mhr180 
 500              12/31/2011     1:37.8(34)mhr173 
 500              12/31/2011     1:56.7
 
 500              12/30/2011     1:55.0 d172 
 500              12/30/2011     1:38.5 d140(33) 
 500              12/30/2011     1:38.4 d110(37) 
 500              12/30/2011     1:39.9 d90 (34) 
 500              12/30/2011     1:42.0 d80 (37) 
2000              12/30/2011     1:47.5 d140(32) 
 500              12/30/2011     1:57.7 d212
 
1250              12/29/2011     wu cd
pyramid with unmeasured rests 
 250              12/29/2011     1:38.9 d171 
 500              12/29/2011     1:38.8(35) 
 750              12/29/2011     1:39.3(35)mhr181 
1000              12/29/2011     1:39.0(35)mhr184 
 750              12/29/2011     1:39.3(33)mhr182 
 500              12/29/2011     1:39.3 
 250              12/29/2011     1:36.8(35)
 
 500              12/27/2011     1:53.5 d158 
 500              12/27/2011     1:40.5 d158 
1000              12/27/2011     1:39.4 d172 
 500              12/27/2011     1:57.2 d172 
 500              12/27/2011     1:41.7 d172 
 500              12/27/2011     1:39.0 d172 
1000              12/27/2011     1:53.3 d172
 
 500              12/26/2011     1:59.1 d8=181 
 500              12/26/2011     1:59.7 
 500              12/26/2011     1:54.7 
1000              12/26/2011     1:39.4 
1000              12/26/2011     1:40.5 
 500              12/26/2011     1:43.0 
 500              12/26/2011     2:09.9 
 500              12/26/2011     1:38.5 
 500              12/26/2011     1:58.9 
 500              12/26/2011     2:06.1 d111
 
7660 30:00.0      12/24/2011     1:57.4(27)d143ahr161

500               12/23/2011     1:54.3 
(5x1500m)
7500 26:56.5      12/23/2011     1:47.7d183
splits@1500m
1:44.6(33)d8
1:44.8(31)d8
1:45.8(31)d8(died last 500m)
1:50.2(30)d7
1:53.2(30)d6
 
500              12/21/2011     2:01 
1500 4:34.8      12/21/2011     1:31.6(58)d185
15x100m@1:20r 
1000             12/21/2011     1:57.7(22)d125 
500              12/21/2011     1:43.4(36)d133 
500              12/21/2011     1:35.9(36)d160
1000             12/21/2011     1:47.4(36)d160
 
500 00:00.0      12/20/2011     1:55.8 
500 00:00.0      12/20/2011     2:01.1 
5000 18:09.3     12/20/2011     1:48.9d130
splits@1k
1:48.8(31)164
1:48.9(29)171
1:49.1(31)177
1:49.7(31)179
1:48.0(33)181
aw271
ahr174
 
3000             12/19/2011     
2000 6:43.8      12/19/2011     1:40.9(34)d183
2k
splits@500m
1:39.2(37)
1:40.3(34)
1:40.9(34)
1:43.5(34)
aw340
 
700              12/17/2011      
7899 30:00.0     12/17/2011     1:53.9(30)d142
30'
splits@6'
1:49.6
1:51.5
1:55.4
2:00.4
1:55.2
aw237
ahr170
r30
(72 of 692)
 
1000              12/16/2011     1:59.7 
1000              12/16/2011     2:20 
4000 13:41.5      12/16/2011     1:42.6d141
(last two at d5=126)
4x1k@5'r
1:41.0
1:41.3
1:43.6
1:44.7
aw323
mhr177,182,181,182
r34
 
1500              12/15/2011     2:08.5 
500               12/15/2011     2:08.1 
5000 18:06.0      12/15/2011     1:48.6(31)d142
splits@1k
1:47.0
1:47.9
1:49.0
1:50.8
1:48.2
aw273
mhr177
 
1000              12/14/2011     easy 
3000 10:50.4      12/14/2011     1:48.4(31)d142
splits@1k
1:46.6(32)289w
1:47.4(30)283w
1:51.2(31)255w
aw274
 
6000 24:05.5      12/13/2011     2:00.4d120
6x1k@3r
1:59.9(19)
2:01.4(18)
2:00.0(19)
2:02.2(19)
1:59.5(19)
1:59.8(20)
aw201
 
1500 00:00.0      12/12/2011      easy 
4000 13:11.8      12/12/2011      1:38.9d217
8x500m@3:30r
1:37.0(35)
1:37.0(36)
1:37.2(40)
1:38.3(37)
1:39.4(35...)
1:40.1
1:42.0
1:40.9
aw361
 
1200 00:00.0      12/10/2011     easy 
1000 3:09.5       12/10/2011     1:34.7(38)d217
splits@250m
1:30.6(40)
1:32.4(38)
1:34.8(37)
1:41.2(38)
Still feeling weak with a cold.
 
1000              12/9/2011     easy 
2000 6:51.9       12/9/2011     1:42.9(32)d184
splits@1k
1:43.5(32)
1:42.4(32)
Not bad considering I've had a
cold all week and felt weak.
 
6000              12/8/2011     d126
r23
 
4500              12/5/2011     easy 
500 1:29.0        12/5/2011     1:29.0 d202
splits@100m
1:30.5(37)
1:28.0(38)
1:27.5(41)
1:29.0(41)
1:30.5(40)
 
500              12/3/2011     easy 
6000 21:51.5     12/3/2011     1:49.2(31)d142
splits@2k
1:48.9
1:49.6
1:49.3
aw268
ahr174
 
1000              12/2/2011     easy 
4000 14:03.1      12/2/2011     1:45.3d160
(Intervals 4x1k@5'r)
1:37.9(372w)
1:47.6(281w)
1:46.1(293w)
1:49.9(264w)
aw299
r32
 
5000              11/30/2011     d150
 
500               11/28/2011     easy 
4000 13:28.0      11/28/2011     1:41.0(33)d150
(Intervals 8x500m@3:30r)
1:40.2
1:40.7
1:40.5
1:40.0
1:40.6
1:41.8
1:41.1
1:43.2
aw340
 
5000 18:30.2     11/27/2011     1:51.0(32)d141
splits 
3:32.8
3:40.8
3:45.6
3:49.0
3:41.9
ahr172
 
6000 22:23.0     11/24/2011     1:51.9(32)d141
splits@2k
7:28.5
7:27.8
7:26.8
aw249
ahr175
 
3000              11/22/2011     easy 
2000 6:54.8       11/22/2011     1:43.7(34)d152
splits@500m
1:37.8(374w)
1:45.8(296w)
1:45.0(302w)
1:46.1(293w)
aw314
 
1000              11/21/2011     easy 
4000              11/21/2011     d152
(Intervals 8x500m@1:30r)
1:44.8
1:41.5
1:44.8
1:44.1
1:44.2
1:44.7
1:44.8
1:42.5
aw312
r34
 
6000 22:44.3      11/19/2011     1:53.6(30)d150
splits@2k
7:37.8(233w)
7:37.3(234w)
7:29.3(247w)
 
250 00:43.6       11/18/2011     1:27.2d8aw527 
1000 3:22.8       11/18/2011     1:41.4(36)d150
2750              11/18/2011     d8
(Including 1k@3:28.8)
 
1000 00:00.0      11/17/2011     easy 
5000 18:45.1      11/17/2011     1:52.5(28)d5.5
splits@1k
3:43.0 
3:44.1
3:44.9
3:47.7
3:45.2
ahr175
 
5000 20:00.0      11/16/2011     2:00.0(27)d132
r27
 
6000              11/15/2011     d7
(Intervals 6x1k@3r)
3:58.9(28)
3:43.1(28)
3:40.8(31)
3:34.3(31)
3:46.1(31)
3:55.0(27)
 
1000              11/14/2011     d7
6000
(Intervals 10x500k@2r)
1:47.1(31)
1:44.0(30)
1:44.1(33)
1:46.4(35)
1:47.6(36)
1:45.6(33)
1:54
1:56
1:50
1:51
 
5000              11/12/2011     d5
1k wu 3.5k wd
500m@1:38.0 (lost power after 1 minute)
 
2000 7:41.3       11/11/2011     1:55.3(30)d3
splits
1:55.7(30)
1:56.5(28)
1:55.1(30)
1:53.9(32)
3000              11/11/2011     d3
(Intervals 10x250m@1r)
1:03.7
0:51.9
1:05.5
0:52.0
0:59.1
0:55.0
1:03.5
1:01.5
1:01.3
0:53.7
 
5000              11/9/2011     d6
(Intervals 5x500m@1r)
2:00.6(32)
1:52.2(35)
1:49.2(32)
1:48.4(33)
1:54.6(32)
and
2500              11/9/2011      2:10
 
5000 20:36.6      11/8/2011      2:03.6(32)d4
splits
4:10.3
4:12.9
4:11.6
4:00.9
4:00.9
 
5000              11/7/2011     d8
FIRST TIME ROWING!!!
Warmed Up 500m then 500m @ 1:39.9.
Ran out of power early.
Poor technique. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

People Love Rituals

People love rituals and therefore people will have rituals.

People love religion and therefore people will have Religion.

One of my favorite rituals is the celebration of Thanksgiving. I love getting together with family and friends once a year to enjoy good food (usually a turkey) and good company, in the spirit of gratitude.

The meal is the central act of the celebration, and turkey is the orthodox entre. The origins of Thanksgiving have become legendary and are part of the oral tradition of those who celebrate the ritual. Very few people care enough to study the history of the ritual to get a realistic understanding of its origin. Most are content with the oral tradition and would think odd or irrelevant, any academic sort that would want to clarify the foundational events of the holiday. As long as everyone feels good, the ritual goes on.

There is a power to Thanksgiving. It can cause family and friends to travel many miles to renew their bonds of friendship while subtly causing many to reflect on the past (and the present) with gratitude.

Who can deny that the world is a better place because of the ritual of Thanksgiving? It is inconceivable to think that the world would be a better-off without Thanksgiving.


Burning Man

Most people like Thanksgiving, even anarchists. In fact, anarchists love rituals too; just look at the annual Burning Man event, with its ritualistic temple construction and burning, and many other predictable attractions. This is an exhibition of primal human activity, and an example of the formation of new rituals.


Kasey’s Baptism

Baptism is a ritual. While some call it an ordinance and others call it a sacrament, it is still a ritual performed by people for people. And there is a power that inheres in this ritual, although that power is not magical but psychological.

A little over a year ago, on a Saturday afternoon, my wife’s friend, Kasey, was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I attended the baptism with my usual smidgin of Sherlock Holmes awareness. I played the piano, as requested, for the couple of hymns that were sung and Pam directed the music. The crowd was limited to a small subgroup of the congregation and were congregated in the Primary Room which was converted to a Baptismal Room by rearranging the chairs and by opening up the baptismal font by sliding open the metal curtains. Mormons believe in baptism by immersion. The font was filled with about four feet of fresh warm water.

Before the intimate meeting started, Kasey and the Elder (missionary) who baptized her were dressed in borrowed white jumpsuits and barefooted. They sat on the front row along with Kasey’s extended family and husband, all of whom knew very little about the Mormon Church. After some welcoming remarks, an opening hymn, prayer, and a brief talk about the ordinance of Baptism, Kasey and the Elder proceeded to the font. The Elder entered the water first and then faced Kasey as she descended into the water. Many of those in attendance stood up and crowded around the sides of the font to get a better view, children sat on the floor next to the glass; others remained in their chairs. There are always two official witnesses at Mormon baptisms that stand on both sides and watch carefully that the initiate is completely immersed.

The Elder raises his right arm to the square position and repeats one of the few scripted prayers in Mormonism:

“Kasey [Full Name], Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Then the initiate bends both knees and slowly leans backwards into the water as the baptizer supports her in a rehearsed fashion.

The baptism symbolizes the death of one’s old life and a rebirth into a new and better life, with new commitments and resolve to live a Christ-like life, a life of charity, and to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth. And in so doing, one’s sins are washed away and forgotten.

Kasey, like so many others before her, came out of the water exultant…and dripping wet. She and the Elder changed into their dry clothes and rejoined the meeting a few minutes later.

Before the meeting came to a close Kasey was asked to speak a few words. This was the good part for me. I sat on the piano bench at the side of the room and could see both Kasey and the audience. All eyes were on Kasey. All was silent. I watched Kasey carefully as she approached the small podium. She was beaming. She was nervous but spoke with a strong voice,

"The Church must be true. [Pause] Otherwise, why would I feel so good."

Everybody quietly laughed. I liked Kasey's words and thought that they captured the essence of all religious rituals.

Mormon baptisms, in my opinion, are among the most uplifting meetings conducted in the LDS Church.

The next day, Sunday, in the chapel, in front of the entire congregation, Kasey was asked to come forward and sit in a chair while a small group of Elders from the Church stood around her,placed their hands on her head and conferred upon her the gift of the Holy Ghost with these words:

“Kasey, By the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood we place our hands upon your head and confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And say unto you: Receive the Holy Ghost. [A few more sentences of blessing and admonition are added at this point.] In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Afterwards, Kasey stood and shook each of the Elders’ hands and then returned to her seat in the congregation.

The Bishop then addressed the congregation and said , “All those in favor of welcoming Kasey [Full Name]as the newest member of our Ward, please manifest it,” whereupon, the entire congregation raised their right hands.

No matter how much rationality and objectivity I use to analyze this initiation process I must conclude that it is powerfully inspiring to those that watch and participate in the event.


How Rituals Can Go Wrong

Just as there are good rituals in the world, there are also bad ones: being jumped into a gang or murder as prerequisite for admission to some secret society are two quick examples.

The thanksgiving ritual could go wrong if, say, a family would bicker over the serving of ham instead of turkey and thereby weaken the bonds of familial love. While turkey is the customary entree, it is not worth fighting over in the short-run, but in the long-run tactful and gentle persuasion should be used to reason out the situation; No more. Likewise, churches have no need to contend one with another.

Baptism can go wrong when people think that the event itself has magical powers of cleansing rather than the event being a symbol of cleansing, or of turning over a new leaf. For instance, some have wished that they could be baptized just prior to their death in order to be perfectly qualified (clean) to face their judgement and enter heaven. Such a literalist mentality can lead to fundamentalist thoughts and sometimes to bad choices.

All rituals have the potential to go wrong.  I will not take the time now to list any of the many egregious over-beliefs (literalistic beliefs) in rituals, though it would be easy to do so. Besides, to focus on the over-beliefs would detract from the spirit of the ritual, and so I guard my words while ever maintaining my religious sobriety just in case I am needed as a designated driver (so to speak).

Religions are full of rituals and those rituals can be truly powerful, although their power is not in magic, but in the effect they have on the human mind. The power is real nonetheless because ideas have consequences in the real world. And that is why those who administer the rituals have a big responsibility to see that the rituals and their theological interpretations are not carried out too far, beyond what makes this world a better place.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008)

In the early 70’s I watched Los Angeles television channels (2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13) on a little black and white TV, no remote control, and would, while searching for Gilligan’s Island or other such show, happen upon a boring man sitting diagonally in his chair. Inexplicably I would linger on this station while I tried to figure out who was this man with the smirked face, who mumbled while either touching his face or poking it with a pencil, all while attempting to recline almost crossways in his chair. He wore his tie loosely and had short hair for the times, slightly out of place but not buzzed. I was captivated by his language, though I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He had an interesting accent and used big words that sounded like English crossed with Latin. Easily I would watch him until roused by the next commercial break. This was my first exposure to Firing Line hosted by William F. Buckley Jr. (WFB).

Over the years I have been too busy to follow WFB as closely as I would have liked and wished I had the time to continue my subscription to National Review beyond the early 90’s. When I learned of his death I knew that I had to find the time to more fully understand this man that I had found to be so interesting. So almost three years after Buckley died I finally chose six of his books to read:

God & Man at Yale
Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography
Let Us Talk of Many Things: The Collected Speeches
Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith
Cancel your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes and Asides from National Review
Saving the Queen: A Blackford Oakes Mystery
Since so much already has been written about WFB, the man who used words like Thelonious Monk used notes, I will not write much more. WFB may not have been correct about every opinion that he held (he didn't like the Beatles) but what matters more to me is the way that he went about forming and sharing his opinions. He always offered clear logic for all to scrutinize, even his faith in Catholicism was logical. And he had style. In retort to a man who had written a rude letter to National Review, WFB didn’t merely reply by calling this writer an ass, but instead proffered a more subdued, “Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus, ass.” But for the most part he debated his opponents with civility, respect and logic, not declamations; Although I did burst out laughing when WFB interviewed Noam Chomsky:

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: I rejoice in your disposition to argue the Vietnam question, especially when I recognize what an act of self-control this must involve.
NOAM CHOMSKY: It does.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Sure.
NOAM CHOMSKY: It really does. I mean, I think that it’s the kind of issue where —-
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: And you’re doing very well. You’re doing very well.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Sometimes I lose my temper. Maybe not tonight.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Maybe not tonight, because as you would, I’d smash you in the goddamn face. (WFB winked at the camera.)
Too funny! Find the clip. Listen to as much WFB as you can find. Study him. Enjoy him.

Buckley's debate with Reagan regarding the Panama Canal exemplifies how to debate civilly.

Of the WFB books I have read, the one that I would most recommend would be, Let Us Talk of Many Things.

William F. Buckley was another of life's originals, perhaps the key conservative of the 20th century. His arguments are worthy of being studied. Here are a few short Buckley quotes for fun:

"I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 2000 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."

"The academic community has in it the biggest concentration of alarmists, cranks and extremists this side of the giggle house."

On grammar rules: "The general rule is not to begin a sentence with "and"; the particular rule is that writers with a good ear know when to break the general rule."

"I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would affront your intelligence."

"Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive."

"One must bear in mind that the expansion of federal activity is a form of eating for politicians."

"The more complicated and powerful the job, the more rudimentary the preparation for it."
"Truth is a demure lady, much too ladylike to knock you on your head and drag you to her cave. She is there, but people must want her, and seek her out."

"The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense - the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy."
"Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great."

"I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said."
"To fail to experience gratitude when walking through the corridors of the Metropolitan Museum, when listening to the music of Bach or Beethoven, when exercising our freedom to speak, or ... to give, or withhold, our assent, is to fail to recognize how much we have received from the great wellsprings of human talent and concern that gave us Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, our parents, our friends. We need a rebirth of gratitude for those who have cared for us, living and, mostly, dead. The high moments of our way of life are their gifts to us. We must remember them in our thoughts and in our prayers; and in our deeds.

"I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth."

"Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi."



Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Get Real!" (The Mystical Story of Our House)


[Candid photo of my pump house built on three cistern tanks. Setting the ridge on a double hip roof all by myself was not easy. Wish I had removed the metal fence railing first...but oh well, that's what makes it candid. Also note the new (last year) septic cover. I decided against making custom chamber lids and used potted cacti instead.]

I do not consider myself to be a very mystical person, but here is somewhat of a mystical (and true) story.

In November of 1991 the family was driving to Mesa, Arizona to spend the night at Diane and Bill’s house for Thanksgiving. I was driving, Pam was in the passenger seat and the three kids were in the back. As we drove eastbound on Highway 8, everyone dozed off while I enjoyed looking at terrain that I had never before seen. Pam woke up to enjoy the drive through the rocky gorge on the border of San Diego and Imperial Counties. We descended 4000 feet to the low desert and wide-open desert sky. We were in a lonely and desolate part of the world. The landscape was sparsely dotted with creosote bushes, ocotillos, and other dead-looking shrubs as far as the eye could see.

After about 15 miles of driving in the flat desert, I suddenly saw deep-green, lazer-leveled fields. We drove another 10 miles through this greenness with very little sign of human life or development when suddenly I saw a house a quarter mile north of the freeway and I came out of my pensive stuppor and blurted out,
“Look!..There is a house!…I wonder what people do here…How would you like to live in a house like that? (Of course, I was kidding.)
Pam came out of her stuppor and bluntly said,
“Get real.”
We returned to our thoughts as we passed through the humble City of El Centro.

**********

Fast forward to spring of 92.

I was looking at job opportunities in the state of California community college system and noticed a job announcement at Imperial Valley College. I had already taught part-time at Mira Costa College for two years and had formed the opinion that teaching at the community college was the best kept secret in all of education. I applied and got the job.

I started teaching at IVC in August 1992. At first I had to commute or spend nights at a friend's house (David Bates) while I looked for a house to buy or an apartment to rent.

I drove many miles around Imperial County and explored each of the dispersed communities. Soon I narrowed my search to west El Centro, then I began driving every street, including country streets, looking for For Sale signs. I saw an old country house for sale that I liked about a quarter mile north of the freeway, just west of town.

The house had been listed for only a week. I called Pam and described it to her and asked if she wanted me to go ahead and make an offer without her seeing the house first. (My sense was that this house would not last long.) She said she trusted my judgment and so I made the offer and we got the house.

The house was 80 years old, made of adobe, on three acres with the nearest neighbor a quarter mile away, in the direction of growth, in the district of the county’s best school, just outside the edge of the city limit, across the street from a fresh water canal, with quick back road access to CostoCo and WalMart, with no close-by dilapidated structures except our own.

After signing escrow papers and getting the keys, we entered the house as a family and walked around. Then I gathered the kids together and said, “let’s have a screaming contest.” Alison, the reigning champion, would go last. After each took a turn, Alison let out a scream that was about 50% louder than everyone else’s which made everyone laugh in amazement. Then we had a group scream…because we could. No more would we have neighbors who would ask us to keep our kids quiet.

Before I made very many improvements I overheard Erik tell one of his friends that "We live in a wrecked-out old house." I was a little sensitive to this critique and slowly I tried to improve the house as time and money would allow.

When Alison was about seven years old and we had our finances under control and our future looked easy, I remember one night walking out to the goat’s field under the clear desert sky and thinking that Pam and I could get old now and have no problems. Or we could have more kids. Though I didn’t bring it up to Pam, I thought that this was the kind of house in which to raise kids and we were the kind of people to do it. We had two more kids.

We were living in the Walden-equivalent of the desert, not for two years but for decades. (The book Walden by Henry David Thoreau is a favorite of mine.)

Now here is the mystical part. I have driven the freeway on the west side of El Centro looking at all the houses that are visible to the north (of which there are almost none) and wondering which was the house that roused me as we drove past on that Thanksgiving-Day drive in 1991. While trying to be as objective as possible, I have come to the conclusion that we did indeed buy the very same house.

We moved in during the Thanksgiving holiday 1992.

Since then I have continued looking for another house but have never found one and have never regretted buying our old home. Recently, since the housing bubble burst, I have looked to see what kind of bargains might be found.

Pam, sensing this, said,
“Remember, buying another house is a group decision and I like living here.”
And so we remain, happy in our way.