Saturday, January 06, 2007

Fitness Tips That Work

For the full detail, read this Wired article about Dean Karnazes, "The Perfect Human", which starts with:

DEAN KARNAZES WAS SLOBBERING DRUNK. IT WAS HIS 30TH BIRTHDAY, and he'd started with beer and moved on to tequila shots at a bar near his home in San Francisco. Now, after midnight, an attractive young woman – not his wife – was hitting on him. This was not the life he'd imagined for himself. He was a corporate hack desperately running the rat race. The company had just bought him a new Lexus. He wanted to vomit. Karnazes resisted the urge and, instead, slipped out the bar's back door and walked the few blocks to his house. On the back porch, he found an old pair of sneakers. He stripped down to his T-shirt and underwear, laced up the shoes, and started running. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

He sobered up in Daly City, about 15 miles south. It was nearly four in the morning. The air was cool, slightly damp from the fog, and Karnazes was in a residential neighborhood, burping tequila, with no pants on. He felt ridiculous, but it brought a smile to his face. He hadn't had this much fun in a long time. So he decided to keep running.

You can read the explanations in the article, but I'll summarize the tips for you:
Most of the steps seem quite doable to me, but doing 50 marathons in 50 days still seems, to me, somewhat difficult.

Hat tip: Coyote

It's going to be a long night

Jocelyn went to bed a bit earlier than usual tonight, right after we watched Jeopardy. (8PM)  It was nice to see a computer guy win, but it's a shame he didn't have more hair...he made light of it in one of his category "Hair" choices, though! ("This is not my strong category!")

I need to deposit some checks anyway, so I'll probably head out to Alexander Street and see what's up there.  It's been over a week!

Update:  The Toad was fine.  Almost everybody was there.  All of the staff were working for some reason.  Monty's was disappointing.  No Wendy.

Friday, January 05, 2007

More bullshit!

We watched another two episodes of Penn & Teller's second season of Bullshit! last night.  We watched them in reverse order because the second was more relevant than the first...the first we watched was College.  While they did not attack the concept of college itself, they did attack the "speech codes" that many colleges have that stifle discussion in order to avoid offending groups of people.  Bullshit, indeed!  I entirely agree that college is the last place you want discussions fenced into "safe bounds".  They managed to pick a diversity specialist that was very amusing with his own biases, as well as somebody that found the way to milk that sacred cow to the tunes of thousands.

The second episode we watched target people who were "holier than thou".  Yes, they went out of their way to attack Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama!  I am sure this episode would have been banned by some college speech codes!  They also attacked the personality cult of yet a fourth "saint", but it would spoil the surprise if I revealed who that was.  This was supposedly in response to a viewer letter that asked sarcastically "Who are you going to attack next, Mother Teresa?"

The only one of the three they really went after whole-heartedly was Mother Teresa.  Being atheists themselves, using the wretched to raise money to build a series of religious institutions (mostly to raise more money) while keeping the wretched still pretty much as wretched as ever seemed particularily heinous to them.  Of course, they didn't really have to make their case...Christoper Hitchens and Aroup Chatterjee pretty much did it
for them (see "Controversy and Critics" in the Wikipedia article on her).

With Mahatma Gandhi, they did not attack his primary work, with which they agreed.  They did emphasize that he was human, and had a down side.  His racism regarding blacks was pretty much standard for the time, but his sleeping with naked young girls and giving enemas to nuns were probably a bit tittilating even then.

As the Dalai Lama goes, their only real personal criticism was regarding his hypocrisy in speaking out against violence while taking money from the CIA to train guerrillas.  Their major point was that the Tibetan society that the Dalai Lama is presumably trying to restore is arguably even worse than the communist oppression of the Chinese.  While they certainly showed that old Tibet, with a large serf-(or arguabley even slave) class supporting the few ruling priests, and the punishments of eye gouging, the pulling out of tongues, hamstringing, and amputation that were used to keep the serfs in line were pretty repellent under the Dalai Lama's rule, they did not really make the case that he would be able to restore that sort of treatment. They did not mention, as even his detractors have, that at the time he was "in charge" of these atrocities, he was only 15 years old.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The things we think but do not say

New blog discovery. I can't say I've read much of it, but if

It’s almost like this Wicca shit doesn’t even work.

This time it was for real!

Not too many words this time.  Just captions.

The Party Parents


Cameron - and his partners


Girls, girls, girls




My mom's visit

It has been hectic. 29 Jan 2006 I picked up my mom at the airport (she flew from San Antonio via Newark
) about 14:30....she had been traveling since 6AM. But no rest for the not-so-wicked....instead of driving her home, I drove her to Batavia for the placement rehearsal (our first time on the real stage) of the Nutcracker ballet.

Having to pick my mom up made me a bit late, so Cameron and Carla were already rehearsing
The only thing that I really got to accomplish, practise-wise, that day, is a chance to practice walking up to take our bows

We had a dinner at the Red Osier. If you've heard anything good about the place, it is true. Everything was wonderful (except the lemonade), and it was pricy but not unreasonable.

Then we stopped at home to prepare for karaoke night. I couldn't convince Jocelyn to go, and although my mom made the supreme sacrifice of going to see me
she was not much more fun than Jocelyn, mostly interested in when she could go home. Can't blame her...she was pretty tired...but it would have been the same even if she were in top form. Even my signature move in "Tubthumping"
did not win her over. She did, however, capture evidence of yet-another-pants-related-mishap in one of those pictures only a mother could shoot:

The next day: dress rehearsal. First things first: we were supposed to arrive already wearing makeup, courtesy of my wife
Either (1) I just am so good looking that make-up cannot possibly improve on me, (2) I look even more hideous without the make-up, or (3) doing guy's makeup is not Jocelyn's forte. I would like to believe (1), but I am hoping (3) is the most likely explanation. Still, we were a fine-looking group in costume:
Cameron kept jeans over the tights until the moment of truth, much to the dismay of the ladies present. Once the jeans came off, he was magnificent
but not always easy to recognize
(yes, that is him in the nutcracker mask).

The day after it was for real.

"Rumors about Fidel Castro's health continue to swirl..."

If you haven't read Dave Barry's 2006 review yet, consider it mandatory.

Some favorite excerpts:

...the overwhelming favorite for best picture is "Brokeback Mountain," the story of two men who discover, while spending many isolated weeks together in the mountains, that they enjoy exchanging instant messages with Mark Foley

...rogue state North Korea test-fires seven ballistic missiles, including two believed to be potentially capable of reaching U.S. soil. World tension goes back down when the missiles, upon reaching an altitude of 200 feet, explode and spell "HAPPY BIRTHDAY."

...the TSA issues a new directive stating that "passengers may carry small quantities of liquids on board, but only if they are inside clear, one-quart, sealable plastic bags." This leads to still more chaos, as many TSA employees interpret this to mean that the passengers must be inside the bags. Eventually the TSA issues a clarification stating that "if necessary, the bags can have air holes."

...As the campaign lumbers to the finish line, the Republicans desperately hope that the voters will not notice that they — once the party of small government — have turned into the party of war-bungling, corruption-tolerating, pork-spewing power-lusting toads, while the Democrats desperately hope that the voters will not notice that they are still, basically, the Democrats.

The Crack Spider's Bitch

While I frequently rip-off other bloggers (giving due credit, of course), I rarely do it as blatantly as this:

DJ Tracy's You-Tube selection was just too good not to re-post.

My life on drugs

I took a second dose last night just before going to sleep, and had 5 coughless hours of sleep, so I can't complain!

I figured 5 hours was a bit short for a convalescent, took another dose and went to bed again.  I rested very comfortably for over an hour, but there was not going to be any sleep for me.

I think I am pretty close to healthy again, the rest of the mucus is starting to dry up.

Tolkien and the Finns/Elves

Kaaos's bulletin of a poem or song with a Finnish title (I believe it means "temporary":


Nothing lasts forever
not this day, not tomorrow
everything is temporary my friend

Nothing lasts forever
not my love, not my life
everything comes to an end my friend

Nothing lasts forever
not tears, not sorrow
even friendship comes to an end my friend
led me to thinking about Finnish, which reminded me of Tolkien, because Finnish was a large influence on his development of the Elvish languages.  A little googling brought up this article, which touches on the Finnish Runesingers, Tolkien, and the Kalevala:

The Kalevala "is fundamentally a story of a sacred object which has power, and the pursuit of the mythic heroes who seek that power, to seek a way of understanding what that power means." Väinämöinen is a wise old man with a long gray beard who has magical powers. He must destroy a forged magical mill called the "Sampo." The bearer of the Sampo is given great wealth but becomes greedy. Therefore, for the good of everyone, the Sampo must be destroyed. If you've seen the latest Ring Trilogy movies or read the books, this should sound very familiar. Gandalf, in the Lord of the Rings, is a wise old man with a long gray beard (Väinämöinen!) who has magical powers. He must destroy the forged object of power, a ring, for the good of everyone. Whether through the Kalevala or the Ring Trilogy, it is gratifying to know that the ancient wisdom of our ancestors, so sorely needed in today's world, is being passed down to today's generation.
For the link to the National Geographic special, you'll have to click to the original article, which is worth reading anyway.   What, you want me to do everything for you?

My Brain on opioids

I took my prescription drug medicine half an hour ago.  My wife told me I should not be driving, I should not be drinking, and I should not be doing karaoke.  This is the hard stuff, hydrocodone (a relative of codeine) mixed with a cough supressant.  People go to jail to get their hands on this stuff.

So, what do I feel?  I just coughed a moment ago, so maybe it is not 100% effective at its primary function.  As dizziness goes, I was able to hop about on either leg with no unusual difficulty.  As drowsiness goes, I haven't noticed it - Jocelyn says nothing makes me drowsy.  As pain relief goes, whacking my butt with a spatula feels pretty much the way it usually does (mostly silly).  As typing goes, I might be having an extra typo a paragraph or so.

As Leonard Cohen said in "Death Of A Ladies Man",

Now the great affair is over, but whoever would have guessed
It would leave us all so vacant, and so deeply unimpressed.

I can't believe people get addicted to this stuff. 

One side effect the pharmacists did not mention, however, is that it appears to insert your current mood into your category?  Maybe it is stronger than I thought.

Update (0:23):  it is about an hour and a half later.  I haven't coughed since the last cough I blogged (coughblogging instead of snotblogging?  what is happening to me?).  Ooops.  Thinking about it made it happen!  Still, one cough in 90 minutes is not too bad.  Drowsy?  Not particularily.  Dizzy?  No, but there is a bit of a dull feeling in my head, kind of like when drinking.  Pain?  The spatula actually stung a bit this time, but I don't know if I might have just been swinging harder.  Not an easy-to-calibrate measure!  Still not impressed.


Missed Out

Well, my mom is on her way back to Texas.  It was nice having her here.
Unfortunately, I was not able to go along with her and Jocelyn to see Niagara Falls.
This is because I was sick.  I still am sick.  The night before last I slept on the couch because I did not want to keep Jocelyn awake with my coughing.  Last night Jocelyn gave me some cough syrup, and I slept in our bed, or at least tried to.  It did not work very well, and I suspect Jocelyn did not get much sleep either.  Tonight I have a Vicodin prescription, so maybe that will help.  Although I will probably miss karaoke.

Perverse Incentives

Walter Williams has an article in which he discusses Charles Rangel's plan to reinstate the draft.  Rangel's claim is that this would make use of military force less likely because we would not be sending in volunteers.

Most economists would, of course, expect the opposite effect.  Reducing the cost of soldiers by using forced labor would tend to encourage their use rather than discouraging it.  As with all cases of price-fixing, this also distorts our economy and allocates resources to low-benefit areas.

Read the article, it has some interesting tidbits in it about Williams's own experience with the is kind of intriguing hearing about this Rush Limbaugh stand-in's youth as a rebel!

My Love Affair....

...with language will probably be life-long.  I enjoyed this quotation, which describes me to a "T":

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while, you realise the pig is enjoying it.
         -- Jamie Lawrence.
Even on myspace you can find original gems:

Ahhh...the magic of technology. Helping drunk girls everywhere piece together their nights!!
         -- Sassily
But for the guaranteed smorgasbord, one returns to the classics (granted, a modern classic in this case):

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

                           S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
                           A persona che mai tornasse al mondo
                           Questa fiamma staria sensa piu scosse.
                           Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
                           Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero
                           Sensa tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

                Let us go then, you and I,
                When the evening is spread out against the sky
                Like a patient etherized upon a table;
                Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
                The muttering retreats
                Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
                And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
                Streets that follow like a tedious argument
                Of insidious intent
                To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
                Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'
                Let us go and make our visit.

                In the room the women come and go
                Talking of Michelangelo.

                The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
                The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
                Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
                Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
                Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
                Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
                And seeing that it was a soft October night,
                Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

                And indeed there will be time
                For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
                Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
                There will be time, there will be time
                To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
                There will be time to murder and create,
                And time for all the works and days of hands
                That lift and drop a question on your plate;
                Time for you and time for me,
                And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
                And for a hundred visions and revisions,
                Before the taking of a toast and tea.

                In the room the women come and go
                Talking of Michelangelo.

                And indeed there will be time
                To wonder, 'Do I dare?' and, 'Do I dare?'
                Time to turn back and descend the stair,
                With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
                [They will say: 'How his hair is growing thin!']
                My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
                My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
                [They will say: 'But how his arms and legs are thin!']
                Do I dare
                Disturb the universe?
                In a minute there is time
                For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

                For I have known them all already, known them all—
                Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
                I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
                I know the voices dying with a dying fall
                Beneath the music from a farther room.
                So how should I presume?

                And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
                The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
                And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
                When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
                Then how should I begin
                To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
                And how should I presume?

                And I have known the arms already, known them all—
                Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
                [But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
                Is it perfume from a dress
                That makes me so digress?
                Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
                And should I then presume?
                And how should I begin?

                                         .      .      .      .      .

                Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
                And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
                Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .

                I should have been a pair of ragged claws
                Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

                                         .      .      .      .      .

                And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
                Smoothed by long fingers,
                Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers
                Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
                Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
                Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
                But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
                Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter
                I am no prophet—and here's no great matter;
                I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
                And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
                And in short, I was afraid.

                And would it have been worth it, after all,
                After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
                Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
                Would it have been worth while
                To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
                To have squeezed the universe into a ball
                To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
                To say: 'I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
                Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all'—
                If one, settling a pillow by her head,
                Should say: 'That is not what I meant at all.
                That is not it, at all.'

                And would it have been worth it, after all,
                Would it have been worth while,
                After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
                After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
                And this, and so much more?—
                It is impossible to say just what I mean!
                But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
                Would it have been worth while
                If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
                And turning toward the window, should say:
                'That is not it at all,
                That is not what I meant at all.'

                No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
                Am an attendant lord, one that will do
                To swell a progress, start a scene or two
                Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
                Deferential, glad to be of use,
                Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
                Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
                At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
                Almost, at times, the Fool.

                I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
                I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

                Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
                I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
                I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

                I do not think that they will sing to me.

                I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
                Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
                When the wind blows the water white and black.

                We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
                By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
                Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

If your Italian is a bit shaky, the Italian part translates to:

"If I thought my answer were given
to anyone who would ever return to the world,
this flame would stand still without moving any further.
But since never from this abyss
has anyone ever returned alive, if what I hear is true,
without fear of infamy I answer you."
This is from Dante's Inferno.

A Tiger In The Tank

Well, it isn't the Cambodian Midget Wrestling League (an article faked to look like a BBC article claimed 42 Cambodian midgets tried to fight a lion...and lost.  My link takes you to the author's apology/explanation/gloat), but there have been some impressively unbalanced showdowns in history.

Recently, while reading about historical gaming, I came across a reference to Franz Staudegger.  Here is the Wikipedia summary of the encounter:

On 7 July 1943, a single Tiger tank commanded by SS-Oberscharführer Franz Staudegger from the 2nd Platoon of 13th Panzer Company of 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler engaged a Soviet group of some 50 T-34 tanks around Psyolknee (the southern sector of the German salient in the Battle of Kursk). Staudegger used up his entire ammunition after destroying some 22 Soviet tanks, while the rest retreated. For his achievement, Franz Staudegger was awarded the Knight's Cross.

Franz Staudegger

The T-34 was unable to penetrate the Tiger's frontal armor at any range, and needed to get within 500 meters to penetrate from the side.  There is some argument about whether this was actually done in a Tiger, though...German archives claim that the actual combat was in the less formidable Panzer IV, because his Tiger had broken down!

While continuing to be active during the war, the rest of his life was a bit of an anticlimax.  He became a railroad official, then an insurance salesman, and then spent a long time unemployed.  Staudegger died, childless, in 1991 of cancer of the larynx.

Holy Night

The Defective Yeti also points out possibly the worst....Christmas Carol...ever.

Women, don't click on that link.  We need you to bear the children of the next generation.  If you insist, stop after the first half...the beginning is survivable.

Men, if you can manage to listen to the whole song, without putting out your eardrums with a butterknife, then you are truly tough.  Chuck Norris himself would quiver before your flintiness.