Day 10.105: Fort Knox

Apr. 25th, 2017 10:23 pm
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Posted by the_exile

As Exile #2 mentioned, after a fairly lazy start to Saturday, we took a small detour to visit Fort Knox on our way back from our mini break. It's an extraordinary place - built in the mid 19th century to repel a largely by-then imagined threat from the British, it never saw battle and is - perhaps as a result - very well preserved.

We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours exploring outside:

Exile #4 is investigating one of the "hot shot furnace" designed to heat cannonballs so that they would set fire to ships that they hit (alas, in keeping with the theme of the fort, the cannons that were eventually installed were of a different bore - so these furnaces could not have been used in any case).

And also inside:

The passageways on various levels around the central courtyard were quite amazing spaces. We discovered that it took eight people to fire one of the cannons and that "A" battery is not a misuse of quotes but we were not sure until we discovered the "B" battery.

Tue, Apr. 25 Electoral Vote Predictor

Apr. 25th, 2017 06:00 am
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Trump Blinks on Wall Funding

In four days, the government will no longer be funded. Congressional Democrats and Republicans had been making progress on that problem until the Trump administration gave Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) a surprise: The President wanted a funding bill with money for the Mexican wall. There was no chance that the Democrats would allow such a bill to pass the Senate, so GOP leaders were left with a pair of unpleasant options: defy the President, or allow a shutdown at a time when their party controls the entire government.

Click here for full story

Day 10.104: Steamy

Apr. 24th, 2017 08:51 pm
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Posted by the_exile

On Sunday morning, soon after the sun came up after a couple of cool wet days, I went out for a run. I noticed some trees steaming in the early morning sunshine in a few places, but when I turned the corner to see this fence in full sunlight, I decided it was worth pulling my phone out for a moment:

I'll write about the rest of our northern adventures soon!

Training log - Week ending 4/23/17

Apr. 24th, 2017 05:01 pm
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Posted by AKA Darkwave, AKA Anarcha, AKA Cris.

This week was 34 miles of running,  32 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Another oddly structured week.    After Tuesday's workout, which was great (but too fast), I received an email from my coach confirming that the morning's workout had been great.  But too fast.  And it would be a good idea to pool-run on Wednesday and Thursday to be safe.

My coach doesn't send emails like that for kicks, so I took it seriously.  Pool-running it was (I grumbled).  Better two days voluntarily than a week or more involuntarily.

I suspect my coach was also trying to rest me up for this weekend's 10K.  Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to him, this was not a particularly restful week.  I had a conference in downtown DC on Wednesday and Thursday that resulted in a LOT of walking up and down stairs and from building to building.  

And then Friday and Saturday were my 25th high school reunion.  (yes, I know that I graduated from high school around the same time some of my teammates were born).  More walking.  More standing.  More socializing in large groups, which drains introvert me.  So...not ideal from a recovery/race prep standpoint.  But not every race is a goal race mandating obsessive rest.  Life is important too, and the reunion was awesome and more than worth any detriment to my Sunday race performance.

I did take an ice bath on Saturday to try to pep my legs up a little.  Life got exciting when one of our kittens decided to check out the bar of soap on the opposite side of the tub and slipped partially into the ice bath (back end).  What was hilarious was that Quartz was so focused on the elusive and alluring soap bar that she paid the ice water no heed.  So there we both sat - me shivering and her pawing at the soap bar.  She didn't start squawking until I extricated her from ice bath (and bar of soap).

My recovery tricks didn't work completely - I was still a bit tired on Sunday morning.  But I ran well, so I can't really argue with the result.  I think I got away with it because of the relatively short distance and my marathon background, which enabled me to grind it out.  But I definitely need to prioritize relative rest the next few days to make sure I'm fresh for Broad Street in two weeks, and don't burn out before Grandma's Half in June.


Monday: In the morning, yoga and 7 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.  (also took the day off from work to track the Boston Marathon)

: In the morning, 12 miles, including a 3.5 mile warm-up (8:58); 2x(1600, 800) in 5:55, 2:49, 5:51, 2:47; 4 mile cooldown (9:08).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Massage at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 12 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night. (also walked around a conference all day.)

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core and 7 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night. (also walked around a conference all day.)

Friday: In the morning, 7 miles, most easy (9:05) but with a mile at 6:23 pace.  Followed with drills, strides, and foam rolling.  Touring my old high school at night.

Saturday:  In the morning, 3 miles very easy (9:27) plus DIY yoga to open up my hips.  Foam rolling and an ice bath midday.

Sunday: In the morning, 3 mile warm-up, 10K race in 38:56, 3 mile cooldown.  Around noon, did 6 "miles" pool-running and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Helped a friend move in the afternoon.  Foam rolling at night.

Low-carb double-gratitude 2017-04-24

Apr. 24th, 2017 01:04 pm
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Posted by Philip Brewer

Since going low-carb a year ago, omelettes have been a breakfast mainstay. To provide some variety (besides mixing up the fillings—a lot of onion, peppers of various colors and hotnesses, sometimes a little smoked meat), I’ve taken to adding various spices: most often paprika, turmeric, and black pepper.

Yesterday the turmeric wasn’t in its spot in the spice rack, but I saw a spice jar out on the counter and had already added some to my omelette before realized that it was not turmeric, but rather nutmeg.

So, my gratitude for yesterday was that an omelette with nutmeg turns out to be delicious. (Who would have thought?)

My gratitude for today is that, having gotten my carb consumption back down after letting it creep up while we had visitors and then again after Jackie’s big walk, I’ve once again got my allergy symptoms under control, and have my weight (which had crept up as well) back down to exactly where I want it.

Mon, Apr. 24 Electoral Vote Predictor

Apr. 24th, 2017 06:00 am
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White House Tax Proposal Coming Wednesday

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was on "Fox News Sunday," and he dropped a bit of a bombshell: The White House is planning to unveil its ideas about tax reform on Wednesday. This news came as something of a surprise to the Treasury Department, and to the members of Congress, neither of whom were consulted about the plan.

Click here for full story
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Posted by the_exile

Exile #2 writes...

After our mad 48 hour dash to Bar Harbor and back again, we were glad to spend a quieter day, soaking in the sunshine which had, with impeccable timing, returned just as we did. Despite the wet and chilly weather, it was a good trip, exploring various sites of historic interest where the British behaved in a pretty shady way. No wonder we are still always the baddies in movies! Still, we did enjoy the fact that we managed to infiltrate Fort Knox, built to defend against the British, with little or no resistance.

Back home, the trees are flowering, and other things have emerged too: Spring flowers, rhubarb, the washing line, various Exiles' legs. Oh, and the grill. The neighborhood has filled with the smell of smoke today. Partly from Spring clear ups that are underway, partly from the firing up of grills. Grilling season is short here, and is vigorously embraced when it comes. So, who are we not to join in? Back to school tomorrow for the Exiles but the end of the school year is surprisingly close.
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Posted by AKA Darkwave, AKA Anarcha, AKA Cris.

I ran the Pike's Peek 10K this morning, finishing in an official time of 38:56, which was good enough for second masters female.  I'm also debating whether to call this a 10K PR (more on that below).

First of all - an aside - it really is "Peek" and not "Peak."  It's a play on words, referring both to the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado and the fact that nearly all of this race is run on the Rockville Pike in suburban Maryland.

Also, unlike the "Pikes Peak" marathon (which is uphill), this race has traditionally been quite downhill.  And that was one of the reasons I'd avoided it.  I've run this race twice before, and run a time ridiculously faster than anything I was capable of on a flat course - which then set me up for frustration when I couldn't come close to my Pike's Peek time on a flat course.  And I'd feel utterly trashed after the race to boot.  Thus the downhill course was also a mental and physical downer.

So why did I run it this year? all goes back to several months ago, when some of my high school classmates noted that our 25th reunion was coming up, and wouldn't it be fun to run a race on Sunday morning.  I was up for it, so I researched options, and concluded that Pike's Peek was probably the best choice, due to distance, location, and start time.  So...what the heck.    Plus I had heard that the course was changed and was now significantly slower - it would be fun to check it out.


Fast forward to this week, which ended up being fairly draining.  Wednesday and Thursday were the annual meeting for a professional organization I'm fairly involved in (The "International Association of Privacy Professionals" - and yes, it's hilarious that this "privacy professional" maintains a blog in which she covers all sorts of personal stuff, some of which is TMI).  And then Friday and Saturday were my high school reunion, with cocktail parties both nights.  So... lots of walking,..lots of socializing.

By Saturday, I was pretty tired and tempted to skip the 10K.  And I was honestly enjoying the reunion far more than I ever dreamed I would (seriously, it was so much fun).  But I kept looking at the forecast, which just kept looking better and better.  Cool, not much wind, with the potential for showers.

So...I reluctantly left the Saturday night reunion party early, to ensure an early bed time to match my early wake-up (4:40 am).  It was really hard to leave - I don't think I would have if the Sunday morning forecast hadn't been so perfect.  

(I will note that, as hard as it was to depart the party early, it was easier than trying to explain to my coach why I decided at the last minute to party and sleep in instead of running a very fast 10K course on a perfect weather day).


Sunday dawned, and it was (as expected) nearly perfect.  My only quibble was that I would have preferred light rain - both because it tamps down the pollen and because I think I run relatively faster in rain than other people - literally a competitive advantage.  But the lack of rain was a very small negative.  Still a near perfect day.

As I did my warm-up jog, I noted the change in the course - while 90% of the course is the same, the start line had been moved, so that we ran through the old start line a quarter mile after starting.  This was significant because the previous start was at the top of a hill; the new start was at the bottom of that same hill.

During my warm-up, I made a point of running up the hill, and measuring the distance on my Garmin.  Just a bit less than a quarter-mile.  Then I did some quick math - a quarter mile at 6:20 pace is 1:35; a quarter at 7:00 pace is 1:45.  Thus, even if I went out super slow on the uphill, I'd only lose 10 seconds, which I could easily make up during the next 6 miles.

Armed with that knowledge, I reaffirmed my intention (that's yoga-speak) to go out very carefully.  A quick chat with my coach altered that strategy slightly - I'd stay conservative all the way until the left turn onto Rockville Pike (about a half mile into the course).  Then I'd start racing.

With my race strategy set and my warm-up+strides completed, I lined up.  There was masters prize money on the line (determined by gun time) so I lined myself up close to the front of the race, but off to one side so that I wasn't an impediment.  I had noted a very fast local masters runner warming up, and I knew that if she ran a decent race I wouldn't be near her.  But, anything can happen in a race, so best to preserve my chances for the masters win, even if it was only an outside possibility.

Then we started.  Per my plan, I went out carefully.  I was actually surprised by how few people passed me.  This race usually goes out quite hard, with people paying the price later in the race.  Not this time - everyone was working off of the same memo I was apparently.  Fine with me - it was nice not being over-run from behind.

Then we turned onto the Pike, and I flipped into race mode, scanning where I was versus other people, where the packs were forming, and where the tangents were (the race has some very slight curves).  And also how I felt.  My legs didn't feel great - not awful, but not as bouncy as I'd like for a half mile into a 10K.  Not great - but not surprising - I had been on my feet a LOT this week.

I was also mentally in a bit of a funk - I think it was just mental fatigue from all the events of the past week.  I always have to work during races to stay in a positive place, and I was straining today to do that, due to the mental fatigue.

Somewhere pretty early in the course, my coach had parked on the side of the course, to observe us as we came through.  When he saw me, I was running by myself.  He barked a command at me to catch the pack ahead - which had the desired effect - I snapped out of it.  In short order I caught the pack, and then passed them (they were slowing).  So I was by myself again.  But I was also in a different mental place now - more focused - and that made all the difference.

The next few miles were the Pike's Peek I remembered - rolling hills, with the uphills being surprisingly significant.  For out-of-towners - this race has a similar feel to CIM, and the hills are similar in the steepness and length.

There was a pack ahead with two of my teammates, and so I spent the next few miles reeling them in - I had hopes of catching their pack, but wasn't quite able to do it.  But just having them creep back towards me helped.

By Mile 5 I was running on fumes.  Somebody announced "the winner has just crossed the line," and I thought "fuck you."  (Apparently everyone else thought the same thing - what a demoralizing thing to announce.)  But I reminded myself that I was a marathoner, and one more mile was a very short distance.  And I grinded on.

This course ends with another left turn onto Marinelli Road, and then a downhill sprint to the finish.  I kicked with what I had, which didn't seem like much.  But I got myself across the line respectably, and noted with satisfaction that I had broken 39.  Woo.

Splits were:
Miles 1-2: 12:35 (6:18)
Mile 3: 6:12
Mile 4: 6:16
Mile 5: 6:19
Mile 6: 6:24
last bit: 69 seconds (5:30 pace)

So...a positive split, but I think that's in part the course - the first half is unquestionably faster than the second, and the last mile appears to be uphill, according to the elevation profile.

As for the fastness of the course - that's definitely changed as well.   While most of the course is the same, the changes to the start (now uphill) and the finish (no longer as downhill as it was) really have changed the nature of the course.

Looking at USATF course documetation (because I'm a numbers girl) - the old course had a drop of 5.8 meters per kilometer.  This course? 2.2 m/km.  By comparison, the Boston Marathon has a drop of 3.23 m/km, CIM has a drop of 2.45 m/km.  The Broad Street 10 Miler has a drop of 2.59 m/km.  All more than this race.  And that doesn't mention the crazy-fast-eyerolly courses like Clarendon Day 5K (12.2 m/km)

Plus... my 10K time today is close to but not quite as good as my half-marathon performance at Shamrock.  Similarly, my teammates who ran Cherry Blossom a few weeks back had equivalent performances today.

All of this points towards calling this a legit PR.   I just need to (over)analyze it (to death) a bit more before I electronically etch the new number onto the eternal granite of the ephemeral internet.

Other notes:

  • Weather was awesome - temperature of 45, DP of 42, not much wind.  What a great day.
  • Warm-up was 3 miles, including a quarter mile at hard tempo effort about 20 minutes before, plus drills and four strides.  Cooled down for 3 after to give me 12 for the day.
  • The pollen was notable, but not a huge issue.  Watery eyes and I was snotty, but that doesn't affect my running much.   I can't say my breathing was perfect today, as I did feel slightly tight.  But nothing like the issues I had a few weeks ago.  Yay for Xolair.  (I did puff my inhaler pre-race just to be safe).
  • I left my house at 6:15, which was perfect for getting me to the race start by 6:45 (race started at 7:50).   I made a point of not parking in the first lot available, but the very last,  Which was also the closest to the start line.  So woo.
  • I did nearly forget to run with my metro farecard - that would have been an issue, since we park at the start for this race, and metro back to the start from the finish after.  I guess worst case scenario I could have run back to the start.
  • I am tired, but nowhere near as sore as I've been in the past after this race.  I think less drop also means less abuse on the body.

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Posted by Elizabeth

This morning I ran the GW Parkway Classic 5K. I had only run this race once in the past back in 2008, when I ran a 23:58. This race also offers a 10-mile race (which is what the event is known for) and I had run that three times, although two of them had been marathon-pace training runs. The 5K is
GW Parkway Classic
the last 5K of the 10-mile course, which runs along the scenic Potomac River.

The GW Parkway Classic is a point-to-point course. Shuttle busses drop runners off at the start line and they run back to the finish line in Old Town, Alexandria. The last bus leaves at 7:00, and the race starts at 8:00. Greg and I didn't think it made sense to arrive at the race an hour an a half before the start and take the bus, so we parked about 2 miles away from the start and simply ran our warmup to the start.

Let me back up a bit.

Last Friday, I ran the Crystal City 5K Friday, in a time of 20:44. It was an evening race and I felt remarkably fast and strong for a warm (70-degree) race that was held at a time when I am usually getting ready for bed! My Garmin clocked an average pace of 6:34 for 3.16 miles, which yielded an official time of 20:44. This was a six-second PR.

I figured that the GW Parkway course, which only has two turns, would be much faster, simply because I wouldn't lose momentum with so many turns and I'd be able to run the tangents, for a Garmin distance of closer to 3.1 miles. Not to mention, the weather was forecast to be much cooler (49 degrees at the start). I figured with all of this in my favor, I would be able to take at least 10 seconds off of my official time; probably even more.

My week of training in between the two races looked like this:

Saturday: 10.2 miles easy @ 8:50 avg.

Sunday: 3.5 miles easy @ 8:39 avg.

Monday: 4 x (600m hard, 200m recovery, 200m hard, 3 minutes recovery). My splits were 2:20, 0:42, 2:16, 0:41, 2:16, 0:41, 2:15, 0:41. So the 600's were between a pace of 6:00-6:20, and the 200's were around 5:30.

Tuesday: 8.6 miles easy @ 8:37 avg.

Wednesday: 2 miles at "steady state" and 1 mile hard. The company I worked for hosted a 5K race at
5K Race to benefit STEM for Her at MicroStrategy World
its annual conference, which just happened to be occurring a few miles from the GW Parkway Classic finish area. I didn't want to race it at full effort, given the 5K from the previous Friday and the 5K on the upcoming Sunday. My splits were 7:16, 7:15, 6:43.  Including warm up and cool down, I ran 5.8 miles.

Thursday: 7.5 miles easy @ 8:21 avg. I was still at the conference, so I had the opportunity to run across the Wilson Bridge, which connects Maryland (where the conference was) to Virginia (where the GW Parkway Race is). I scoped out the course on the Virginia side and figured out where we could park. This was a beautiful run, and it made me think that I should do my long runs in more scenic locations instead of my local neighborhood routes.

Friday and Saturday were both easy low-mileage days, and I felt strong and ready for the GW Parkway race.

Before the Race
Greg and I ran to the start line, and much to Greg's dismay, the porta potty line was extremely long. I, thankfully, did not need to use one, so I continued my warm up. About ten minutes later I found Greg still in line! And he had quite a few people in front of him. There were only 5 porta potties and this race had over 1,300 runners. Definitely not enough, especially since most runners arrived at the start line over an hour in advance.

It was getting late, and Greg wanted to stay in line and wait, so I made my way alone to the start line. Annoyingly, there was a group of about 5-10 children, who looked to be about six years old at the very front. They had an adult with them and the adult was telling them not to line up in the first row, but it was okay for them to be in the second row. I knew they would go out blazing fast and then I'd have to weave my way around them during the first quarter of a mile. With two minutes to go, there was still no sign of Greg. But finally he appeared, with only about 30 seconds to spare.

Mile 1: 6:35
My plan was to run the first mile at 6:31-6:32. The first mile is flat, and I wanted to run my goal pace for the first mile. Much to my surprise, the pace on my Garmin did not match my effort level. I thought I was running really hard, and for most of the mile, I was barely below 6:40. But, I didn't
The bib even matched, and I had orange socks.
judge it, and I didn't do anything foolish like try and surge that early. The race started going south on the parkway, and after a quarter of a mile, we turned around and ran north. We would run north for the remainder of the race, and I'm not sure what the reason was for the turnaround at the start. I noticed there were about 5-6 women ahead of me. I passed the first one about half a mile in, and I passed the second one at the first mile marker. Greg was not very far ahead of me. Typically he goes out really fast in 5Ks and I can't even see him; that's how it was in Crystal City. But I figured I was in good shape if I was only running about 4-5 seconds behind him.

I had to keep reminding myself not to adjust my shorts, which kept riding up. I had fallen in love with a pair of Nike Pro shorts because they matched my McMillan racing gear so perfectly. But they were not comfortable, and probably looked more like briefs by the end of the race. I kept wanting to adjust them throughout the race, but I knew that would take energy away from running so I resisted the urge.

Mile 2: 6:42
This mile was really tough. There was a hill (which didn't look that long or steep) but I really slowed down on it. I think the issue was the headwind. Based on the Crystal City race, I really thought I should have been able to run faster, but I couldn't. I was working really, really hard and I felt pretty good; but my pace simply wasn't as fast as I expected. Most of this mile actually hovered around 6:50 until the downhill, when I really surged and passed a guy, and brought my average pace down significantly.

Mile 3: 6:35
This mile started up a hill that was steeper than the previous one, but shorter. I worked my way up the hill and couldn't even bring myself to look at the pace on my Garmin. We turned a corner and the rest of the mile was one long straightaway to the finish line, on a road offered a slight decline. One of my colleagues who lives in Alexandria was cheering for me shortly after the turn. I knew to expect her and it gave me a burst of energy to hear her call my name. I was hurting pretty badly by this point and I wondered how I would ever make it to the finish line without slowing down. I noticed that Greg had widened the gap substantially. He was going for sub-20:00 and I wondered if he would make it.

I really liked this part of the course because it was mainly flat with a slight decline, and it was really wide with plenty of space to run. But the headwind made it challenging. I can't complain too much about it because it was 10 mph, which is not that strong, and the overall weather was fantastic. But, it definitely made that last mile (and actually the whole race) more challenging than anticipated. I was running slower than I had hoped for, but I was still motivated to get a PR because I knew this course would end up being "shorter" than the one from last Friday.

As I approached the finish line, I was able to slightly increase my speed, and I approached a woman who I had in my sights for the entire race. I was really closing the gap on her, and when I passed the mile 3 mark, I really surged to try and pass her.

The last 0.12: 6:11 pace
She noticed me, though, and she pushed harder and ended up beating me by two seconds. After the race, she thanked me for showing up because she said it motivated her to push even harder. She motivated me to push as well, so it was mutual!

My official time was 20:38, which is a PR by six seconds! Interestingly, the Crystal City 5K was also a six-second PR from my previous time of 20:50. So in the last 9 days, I have shaved 12 seconds off of my 5K PR. This also means that I have set THREE PRs in the month of April: one at the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, one at the Crystal City 5K, and another one today.

After the Race
I found Greg and he told me he ran a 20:02. This was a PR for him by seven seconds, although it wasn't the sub-20:00 he had hoped for. We walked around looking for race results to see where we ranked. I thought I was either the 4th or 5th woman overall. We couldn't find results posted anywhere, so we ran about a mile to where my friend/colleague had been cheering-- which was right in front of her house. She had fresh muffins in the oven and offered us fruit, waffles and coffee. Before indulging, we checked the results on her computer (we don't run with our phones) and as it turned out, I was the first woman in my age group, and 4th overall female finisher out of 870.

So back we ran to the finish line area. We asked when and where the 5K awards would be, and they told us they weren't going to happen for another hour, and that my prize would be a medal. I didn't really want to wait that long, and I decided I would much rather go back to my friend's house and relax. I later learned I can pick up my medal at the running store in Alexandria.

Final Thoughts and Takeaways
One thing that I learned in sports psychology is that it's useful to look at both metrics: official race pace and Garmin pace. The difference between these two is the inability to run perfect tangents, or running a course that is not USATF certified.

Arguably, the Garmin pace is more important. Why? Unless you're a professional athlete, your race time actually doesn't matter. It's important because it shows your personal achievement. But in that case, wouldn't a more accurate measure of personal achievement be to use the same timing system/device across all runs?  I'm sure many runners would disagree with me, especially in this day and age of social media where you don't want to be accused of inaccurately representing your ability. Official is official is official.

I can say with complete confidence that I ran the Crystal City 5K faster than I ran this race, even though my official time says otherwise. I am actually more pleased with my performance last week than with my performance this morning. I think that the course from last week was harder, and I ran it faster. But does that mean I can't celebrate my new official PR? Nope! 20:38 it is, and I'll be having PR cake this evening with a time of 20:38. (Come back later for photos).

I'm looking forward to hitting the track pretty hard over the next few weeks so that I can try and chip away even more at my 5K pace. I'd love to be able to run a 20:17 at some point in 2017. Probably in the fall, but I'll try my best over the summer.

Sun, Apr. 23 Electoral Vote Predictor

Apr. 23rd, 2017 06:00 am
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Scientists March

Tens of thousands of scientists marched on Saturday in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and around the world. The purpose of the event, which was billed as "political but non-partisan," was to draw attention to the importance of scientific research, and to the potentially harmful decisions that the Trump administration has made in regards to the environment, climate change, and research funding. Marchers carried all manner of clever signs, with messages like, "Got the plague? Me neither—Thanks science!" and "Rising Seas? Adios Mar-a-Lago," and "Einstein was a refugee."

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Posted by the_exile

Here is a proper recap of our day yesterday.

After a three hour drive and a quick lunch, we had a short chilly walk on the waterfront in Bar Harbor:

before heading to the Abbe Museum where we learned a lot about the Native American tribes of the area. I also spent a while in the kids room with E5N1 where we tackled two of these beautiful (and surprisingly tricky) jigsaw puzzles:

and he insisted I photography him with every animal puppet in the menagerie:

After that, we took advantage of the free Acadia park access to drive up Cadillac. The top of the mountain was in the clouds and we didn't even bother to stop, but once we came down a bit we pulled over to admire the view:

There was time for one more quick stop on the island, so we stopped in at College of the Atlantic's Natural History Museum:

which has fantastic Maine animal dioramas and - more surprisingly - these:

Our day ended in Ellsworth where we were staying. We had dinner at Finn's - after posing in the shop window for a while:

After a large meal - a short walk took us along the river where we saw spring flowers and a dam (pictured) and had a close up view of a bald eagle when I stepped on a twig and disturbed it from the branches just above our heads (sadly not pictured).

Sat, Apr. 22 Electoral Vote Predictor

Apr. 22nd, 2017 06:00 am
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Russians Tried to Infiltrate Trump Campaign

More and more, "what we suspected" is turning into "what we know" when it comes to the Russians and the 2016 election. On Friday, several intelligence establishment sources confirmed that they have proof the Putin administration attempted to infiltrate the Trump campaign through his strategic advisers, including Carter Page. It is not yet clear if Trump's advisers were aware of the plan; they may have been unwitting accomplices. This means that Page (and, potentially, Michael Flynn, and Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, and others) were either Putin's agents or his dupes. Hard to say which one is worse, though presumably only one of the two would be illegal.

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Rapunzel 1999–2017

Apr. 22nd, 2017 01:31 am
[syndicated profile] philipbrewer_feed

Posted by Philip Brewer

Rapunzel was poorly yesterday. In the morning it was just some weakness in her front legs that we’d seen before, but in the early afternoon it got much worse—rather abruptly, she was unable to stand.

I tried carrying her to her food and her water and her litter box, but being unable to stand, she couldn’t make use of them.

At bedtime I put her in one of her favorite nighttime spots, then laid down on the floor next to her for a long time.

In the morning we found that she’d somehow made her way downstairs under her own power and curled up on the floor in the living room. She still couldn’t stand, still wouldn’t take water even when I brought her water dish to her, even when I tried holding her up.

I called the vet and made an appointment for mid-afternoon.

The vet examined her and offered a new diagnosis. Before, when it was just the front-leg weakness, the doctor had thought it might be a nerve problem, perhaps pinched where they exited her spine. Based on how things had progressed and her other symptoms, the vet now thought it was probably a brain tumor.

She offered to get us an emergency consult with a veterinary neurologist, but that didn’t seem promising. Rapunzel was a very old cat. If they found a brain tumor, what could they do? I doubt if she would have survived either surgery or chemotherapy. I didn’t see any prospect for a return to health, nor a long life. The vet agreed that euthanasia was probably the best choice.

So this afternoon Jackie and I said goodbye to Rapunzel after 17 years.

The image at the top is how I remember Rapunzel. She always liked to be on top of things. But here are another few pictures.

Here is our best picture of Rapunzel as a kitten. I haven’t liked to show this one around, because I didn’t think much of it as a picture of me, but it’s such a good picture of Rapunzel I’m letting that go.

Rapunzel always liked to get into things. I actually have a bunch of pictures of that—Rapunzel in baskets, Rapunzel in buckets, Rapunzel in boxes, Rapunzel in drawers, Rapunzel in the sink. But here is a picture of Rapunzel in the loom, shoving her face through the warp threads.

Finally, here’s a picture of the way I imagine Rapunzel would have been looking at us toward the end, if she’d been still able to jump up to the window sill. (In actual fact, this picture was taken when we were running the vacuum cleaner, and she was looking on disapprovingly, waiting for us to stop.)

Rapunzel was the best cat. She was friendly and fierce. She tolerated us and never held a grudge. She could get along on her own just fine, but was always glad to see us. She sat in Jackie’s lap most mornings. Instead of sitting in my lap, she liked to climb into my arms when I sat at the computer—and I was happy hold her, although it made it hard to type.

Good bye Rapunzel. Thank you for 17 wonderful years. We already miss you terribly.

[syndicated profile] philipbrewer_feed

Posted by Philip Brewer

The headline makes me think of the old joke: Eat plain food, take cold showers, sleep on the floor, abstain from sex, tobacco, and alcohol. Maybe you won’t live forever, but it will seem like forever.

A good article on mindfulness anyway.

Want to live twice as long? Meditation might help

From The Guardian.

[syndicated profile] philipbrewer_feed

Posted by Philip Brewer

The headline makes me think of the old joke: Eat plain food, take cold showers, sleep on the floor, abstain from sex, tobacco, and alcohol. Maybe you won’t live forever, but it will seem like forever.

A good article on mindfulness anyway.

Want to live twice as long? Meditation might help

Fri, Apr. 21 Electoral Vote Predictor

Apr. 21st, 2017 06:00 am
[syndicated profile] electoral_vote_feed

Trump Wants Obamacare 2.0 Next Week, Not Likely to Get It

When he was in Wisconsin earlier this week, Donald Trump asserted that, "No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days." This is a dubious claim, first of all because he hasn't actually accomplished all that much, and second because of a fellow named Roosevelt, who managed to give America a "New Deal" in his first 100 days, and who holds that honor until further notice. Consequently, the Washington Post rated the claim "four Pinocchios." Trump himself doesn't seem to believe it, either, since he is pushing for Congress to give him a signature accomplishment before 100 days are up—something that presumably would not be necessary for someone who already had the most successful first 90 days under his belt. And what the President wants that accomplishment to be is the passage of an Obamacare replacement bill.

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Day 10.100: Technological solution

Apr. 20th, 2017 10:44 pm
[syndicated profile] exilesme_feed

Posted by the_exile

I noticed this at Exile #4's school concert a couple of weeks ago:

I could help wondering if the microphone next to the speaker wasn't the best possible way to get the music through the P.A. system.


ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

April 2017

161718192021 22

My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31


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