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Howdy, pilgrim! You're in the ^zhurnal — since 1999, a journal of musings on mind, method, metaphor, and matters miscellaneous — previous volume = 0.9944. Click headlines to browse, comment, or edit the ^zhurnalyWiki. Page-top links provide random mantras, tarots, unicorns, power thoughts, and meditative suggestions. For a lovely little mint-tin deck of mindfulness reminders see Open Mind OM Cards.



How to Share Hard Ideas

Paul Krugman, economist, wrote an essay in 1996 called "Ricardo's Difficult Idea". It's about Comparative Advantage, and more generally about how to help smart people understand non-obvious concepts, and in particular how to explain model-based thinking. BLUF:

From the beginning of his discussion, Krugman's diagnosis:

At the deepest level, opposition to comparative advantage – like opposition to the theory of evolution – reflects the aversion of many intellectuals to an essentially mathematical way of understanding the world. Both comparative advantage and natural selection are ideas grounded, at base, in mathematical models – simple models that can be stated without actually writing down any equations, but mathematical models all the same. The hostility that both evolutionary theorists and economists encounter from humanists arises from the fact that both fields lie on the front line of the war between C.P. Snow's two cultures: territory that humanists feel is rightfully theirs, but which has been invaded by aliens armed with equations and computers.

... and from his conclusion, Krugman's prescription:

5. What can be done?

I cannot offer any grand strategy for dealing with the aversion of intellectuals to Ricardo's difficult idea. No matter what economists do, we can be sure that ten years from now the talk shows and the op-ed pages will still be full of men and women who regard themselves as experts on the global economy, but do not know or want to know about comparative advantage. Still, the diagnosis I have offered here provides some tactical hints:

(i) Take ignorance seriously: I am convinced that many economists, when they try to argue in favor of free trade, make the mistake of overestimating both their opponents and their audience. They cannot believe that famous intellectuals who write and speak often about world trade could be entirely ignorant of the most basic ideas. But they are – and so are their readers. This makes the task of explaining the benefits of trade harder – but it also means that it is remarkably easy to make fools of your opponents, catching them in elementary errors of logic and fact. This is playing dirty, and I advocate it strongly.

(ii) Adopt the stance of rebel: There is nothing that plays worse in our culture than seeming to be the stodgy defender of old ideas, no matter how true those ideas may be. Luckily, at this point the orthodoxy of the academic economists is very much a minority position among intellectuals in general; one can seem to be a courageous maverick, boldly challenging the powers that be, by reciting the contents of a standard textbook. It has worked for me!

(iii) Don't take simple things for granted: It is crucial, when trying to communicate Ricardo's idea to a broader audience, to stop and try to put yourself in the position of someone who does not know economics. Arguments must be built from the ground up – don't assume that people understand why it is reasonable to assume constant employment, or a self-correcting trade balance, or even that similar workers tend to be paid similar wages in different industries.

(iv) Justify modeling: Do not presume, as I did, that people accept and understand the idea that models facilitate understanding. Most intellectuals don't accept that idea, and must be persuaded or at least put on notice that it is an issue. It is particularly useful to have some clear examples of how "common sense" can be misleading, and a simple model can clarify matters immensely. (My recent favorite involves the "dollarization" of Russia. It is not easy to convince a non-economist that when gangsters hoard $100 bills in Vladivostock, this is a capital outflow from Russia's point of view – and that it has the same effects on the US economy as if that money was put in a New York bank. But if you can get the point across, you have also taught an object lesson in why economists who think in terms of models have an advantage over people who do economics by catch-phrase). None of this is going to be easy. Ricardo's idea is truly, madly, deeply difficult. But it is also utterly true, immensely sophisticated – and extremely relevant to the modern world.

(cf OptiMizers (2001-04-01), AdvantEdge (2001-04-15), Insight Modeling (2019-12-31), ...)

- Monday, April 12, 2021 at 05:57:30 (EDT)


2021-03-16 - CJ Reunion

~6.2 mi @ ~17.9 min/mi

"Courtney!" Roadkill greets a friend out for a walk in her new neighborhood. Quick chat ensues and prepares for future rambles together. They part ways; Roadkill delivers adult rehydration liquids to Danger Man, then takes dirt paths over the hills and through the woods behind Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten & Nursery, near the Sligo golf course. Lawn gnomes laze.

(trackfile)

- Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 06:18:31 (EDT)


2021-03-14 - Dark Matters

~5.0 mi @ ~21.3 min/mi

"It is quite dark underground!" Silver Surfer notes, as Danger Man discusses the search for Dark Matter via detectors buried deep inside the Earth. Literal-minded Roadkill gets the joke belatedly. Half Full leads the gang on a Garrett Park walkabout exploration of the Schuykill Rd dead-end community trapped between the train tracks and Rock Creek. A resident reports that his car and $1300 was stolen; he found the car, damaged. Before the rest of the crew arrives Roadkill checks out industrial park culs-de-sac near White Flint, where geese honk at him.

(trackfile)

- Friday, April 09, 2021 at 06:07:11 (EDT)


Constant Miracle

Infinite God-hammer
Strike the anvil
Of this world
Shatter it
And then
Reforge it
Moment by moment
In a constant miracle
That no one ever notices

- Thursday, April 08, 2021 at 05:57:46 (EDT)


2021-03-13 - Unknot Theory

~5.8 mi @ ~21.9 min/mi

"Rogers Pass holds the record cold for the continental US!" Danger Man suggests points of interest to visit in the northwestern states, as he rambles with Square Peg and Roadkill through new neighborhoods in Chevy Chase and back to Bethesda on a sunny Saturday morning. New developments in Knot Theory (last month, a long-sought quasi-polynomial time algorithm for recognizing the unknot!) and cosmology ("Hey Siri, what is Dark Matter?") accompany discussions of new streaming video shows. A US Space Force flag flaps in the breeze.

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, April 07, 2021 at 06:02:43 (EDT)


2021-03-13 - Girl With Hoop

~4.3 mi @ ~21.9 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/arty/Girl with Hoop by Jenny Read"Grand Teton – what does that mean?" Roadkill and Square Peg muse about the entymology of geographic names during an early Saturday public art walk around downtown Bethesda. They find sculptures and murals, silly and serious.

Conversation wrestles with how to think better about complex issues, especially on topics that some people find painful. Feedback loops between individuals and society can run either way, and are hard to interpret. As Mister Rogers said (Tikkun Olam): "No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we all are called to be Tikkun Olam – Repairers of Creation. Thank you for whatever you do, wherever you are, to bring joy and light and hope and faith and pardon and love to your neighbor and to yourself."

Yes, and...

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, April 06, 2021 at 07:01:15 (EDT)


Confusion of Ideas

To teach, to explain something, to answer a question, one must have a good mental model of what the listener already knows and doesn't know. Otherwise the explanation won't be at the right level and the transmission won't make sense when it gets to the receiver. Charles Babbage in his autobiographical Passages from the Life of a Philosopher writes:

... On two occasions I have been asked, – "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. ...

... correctly identifying the main challenge of responding!

(from [1]; cf [2] Chapter 5, "Difference Engine No. 1" final page, and Common Understanding (1999-10-08), Technical Minded (2003-07-18), Impute Motives (2009-03-18), How to Explain Anything (2016-01-28), Eagles Are All about Efficiency (2020-05-12), ...)

- Monday, April 05, 2021 at 06:42:40 (EDT)


2021-03-12 - Discovery

~5.1 mi @ ~17.7 min/mi

"No Trespassing! - Danger! - Caution! - Warning!" Scary signs (and vigilant guards) at the water tower deter Roadkill from a quick inspection despite a temptingly open gate. Friday afternoon's walkabout leads past downtown Silver Spring murals on the (former) Discovery Communications building, enamel panels of the universe by artist Narcissus Quagliata. A standing-defiant turtle sculpture is covered with peaceful Einstein quotes, and a masked lawn cat is surrounded by rabbits.Discovery Building mural Silver Spring MD

(trackfile)

- Saturday, April 03, 2021 at 04:54:42 (EDT)


2021-03-07 - Yoda

~4.4 mi @ ~16.8 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Yoda_2021-03-07.jpg"Mercaptan!" Roadkill sniffs trace amounts of the stenchy natural gas additive as he explores Westmore Road by the big Washington Gas facility. The "Dead End" sign is missing at the industrial park's entrance and the street stops abruptly at the train tracks. A brisk Sunday afternoon walk brings back memories of the Rockville "Millennium Trail" on Gude Drive. Yoda in his bathrobe stands guard in a Lincoln Park front yard.

(trackfile)

- Friday, April 02, 2021 at 06:22:12 (EDT)


Network for Goodness

A cheery hopeful thought from George Saunders in his book on writing fiction, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain:

... There's a vast underground network for goodness at work in this world –
a web of people who've put reading at the center of their lives because they know
from experience that reading makes them more expansive, generous people ...

(cf On Booklessness (1999-07-18), Pursuit of Excellence (2002-02-22), Improving My Mind (2003-06-22), Knowledge and Public Happiness (2003-07-29), Reading at Risk (2004-09-01), Learning to Pause (2015-08-10), ...)

- Thursday, April 01, 2021 at 06:30:11 (EDT)


2021-03-07 - Do Not Compare

~5.1 mi @ ~21.3 min/mi

"He didn't go into physics because he compared himself with the only other high school physics kid he knew," says Silver Surfer, "and thought he wasn't smart enough – unfortunately the other kid was Richard Feynman, a future Nobel Laureate!" Canada Geese honk, a Northern Cardinal sings, and an Eastern Bluebird chirps near Sligo Creek. The Dude from Far Rockaway joins Danger Man, Half Full, and Roadkill for a chilly Sunday morning ramble.

(trackfile; cf Self Standardization (2002-04-06), Do Not Compare Yourself (2020-03-08), ...)

- Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at 06:26:46 (EDT)


2021-03-06 - Kimchi Girl

~5.1 mi @ ~21.0 min/mi

"My Mom made the best kimchi!" declares Tyger (aka 김치 여자), as she crosses a corner of the country club with Danger Man on a bright and chilly Saturday morning. Roadkill joins the duo for a walkabout on steep neighborhood streets after a solo survey of North Chevy Chase Park, where two of the town's Finest return his raised-coffee-cup salute from the warmth of their patrol car idling at the entrance. Hope they don't worry when he never exits! A woodsy path with a bit of off-trail bushwhacking leads back to civilization via another dead-end street. Lawn art abounds including a leprechaun astride an inflated unicorn. Happy early St Patrick's Day!

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, March 30, 2021 at 06:26:00 (EDT)


Shiller_Price_Earnings_Ratio

For quick, clean, revealing charts see Shiller PE and similar dimensionless ratios of prices/earnings (e.g., on multpl.com). In brief:

So remember: don't get caught up in fantasies of wealth without work, save money for the future, avoid high sales or management fees, and rebalance annually between "stocks" and "bonds" (or their equivalents — shares in major businesses and fixed income investments). It really is that simple, over a lifetime!

And for some additional good suggestions, from a Wikipedia summary of Andrew Tobias' "The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need":

1. No reliable methods exist of speedily accumulating vast riches.
2. One's income should exceed one's expenditures.
3. If one's expenditures exceed one's income, one should determine the nature of the expenditures and whether they can be foregone with equanimity.
4. One should beware of financial advertising. The advertisers and the financial institutions who offer it often have interests that run counter to those of the small investors whom it targets.
5. One should put one's first several thousand dollars into an account which is unlikely to lose its nominal value.
6. One should employ tax-sheltered accounts to invest for one's retirement and for advanced academic education of one's progeny.
7. One should commit a fixed sum to no-load, low-expense stock index mutual funds every month for the remainder of one's term in the labor market. One should not commit less money than usual after a severe or prolonged market decline. Nor should one commit more money than usual after the market has ascended sharply for years.
8. One cannot reliably achieve higher returns from the stock market than the market average, no matter how much time and effort one devotes to the task. And one can achieve nearly the same return as the market average almost without devoting time or effort to the task by periodically committing a fixed sum to index funds. Therefore, one should make the periodic commitment of one's money and return to one's regular routine.
9. One should omit complex, laborious, expensive, unreliable tactics that are alleged by some to enable one to achieve higher returns than the stock market average. One should merely periodically commit a fixed sum to index funds.
10. Investing in commodities, or coins, stamps, automobiles, collectables, autographs, pictures, art or anything like that is not worth the cost for the amateur investor because of two reasons: You are not an expert, so you will probably be buying from an expert. Second, even if you buy at a good price, you will be selling to an expert, and lose money by selling to one.
11. Low Price-Earnings stocks beat the market the majority of the time. If all stocks are high PE stocks, wait six months for the market to crash.
12. Buy stocks that have dividends at least equal to the amount you would find at a bank.
13. Only invest money you do not need for the next five years, and diversify by not buying all stocks at the same time, or with the same company.

(cf Money Wisdom (2001-05-20), Bubble Busters (2002-02-06), Back to Normal (2008-11-13), Boom Times Loom Soon (2012-08-30), Harry Browne Rules of Financial Safety (2019-12-24), ...)

- Monday, March 29, 2021 at 07:00:24 (EDT)


2021-03-05 - No BBQ

~5.2 mi @ ~18.6 min/mi

"If only they had barbecue tonight!" Danger Man and Roadkill yearn for Sligo Pit BBQ (closed until 1 April) as they speed-walk up narrow-steep Dallas Avenue at the southern edge of the golf course. A new cut-through leads past the Maryland Parks headquarters building to Burnett Av where they part ways at sunset. Another brisk climb takes Roadkill via a narrow dirt path to Harvey Road. Miniature gnomes guard a local lawn.

(trackfile)

- Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 06:29:39 (EDT)


2021-03-04 - Beltway Bridge Graffiti

~2.9 mi @ ~22.0 min/mi

"Good evening, Deer!" At sunset Monday Roadkill startles four does grazing at the Forest Glen Creek buffet. Ruins of old brick structures bear bright graffiti, as does the Capital Beltway sound-barrier. Scramble down through thorny brush, dance across the stream via steppingstones, and find a stick to assist the return climb up a muddy slope. Caryatids line a courtyard at National Park Seminary.

(trackfile)

- Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 05:10:56 (EDT)


Invisible Fixers

What a neat concept: tikkun olam meaning "Repair of the World" in Hebrew — working to help make this universe better, sort stuff out, fix what is broken, nudge society into harmony, promote justice and fairness for all. "Olam" can mean "all of time", and it can also mean "hidden".

How marvelous, to be a selfless, unseen, quiet World Repairman!

(and though "Tikkun Olam" may have other meanings, how nice to think of it this way! – cf No Glory (2000-01-11), Dark Glory (2001-03-23), Invisible Web (2002-12-08), Tikkun Olam (2019-12-11), ...)

- Friday, March 26, 2021 at 06:39:50 (EDT)


2021-03-02 - Botero Ballerinas

~5.6 mi @ ~18.0 min/mi

Botero Ballerinas by Barton Rubenstein"Botero Ballerinas", the downtown Silver Spring kinetic sculptures first found during 2021-02-17 - SS Ballerinas, sing metallically as they twirl after Roadkill gives them a polite nudge. (Click to see a movie clip of them turning; may not work in some browsers.) He carries 5 library books on his back and turns them in through the slot on a chilly Tuesday evening. A new narrow path leads down from the 16th Street bridge over the railroad tracks to a quiet (between trains) neighborhood.

(trackfile)

- Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 05:53:07 (EDT)


2021-03-01 - Parkside

~3.0 mi @ ~22.5 min/mi

"Dodge Stealth Parking Only - All Others Will Be Crushed" reads the sign behind classic sports cars parked on Dallas Ave, eastern boundary of Sligo Creek Golf Course. At sundown Danger Man and Roadkill explore a new neighborhood and refrain from venturing through a hole in the fence. (Maybe next time!) A mystery building in the woods turns out to be "Parkside", headquarters of the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). The twins reminisce about college sports: both took weightlifting as freshmen, and both got an "A" for improvement! 🏋🏻 🏋🏻‍♂️

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 06:40:21 (EDT)


2021-02-28 - Slurpee Sale

5.9 mi @ 22.6 min/mi

"So what were the Six Flags that flew over Texas?" Danger Man comes up with almost all of them in response to Roadkill's challenge. Half Full is amused. Four big deer watch from the woods by Beach Dr as the trio amble downstream and back. Rain pauses, starts, and stops again. We discuss cosmology, taxes, gambling, and mysterious car symptoms.

About 90 minutes earlier Roadkill, solo, watches ducks dabble in the floodwaters that blanket much of KenGar Palisades Park. He climbs the steep path, crosses the train tracks, and finds a semi-sketchy shortcut between Howard and Knowles Ave via the Arden Courts "memory care community". Other cut-throughs lead back through Kensington to a 7-11 where Slurpees are on deep discount. On the return trip he discovers a steep path from dead-end Mertford St down a Rock Creek tributary that feeds the bogs where he began.
http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Flag_Kensington-park_Eagle_2021-02-38.jpg

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 06:34:54 (EDT)


2021-02-27 - Smurf Village

~9.0 mi @ ~22.5 min/mi

"Avocado toast with salmon!" tempts the breakfast menu at Java Nation. Square Peg and Roadkill arrive far before official opening, find an unlocked door, and are thankful for kind staff who bend the rules and serve excellent coffee. Saturday's trek starts in light rain at White Flint Park. The twins explore the Timberlawn neighborhood ("No Non-Resident Dog Walking!") in search of enlightenment, resolve to be kind, and discover a hole in the fence behind Tilden Middle School.

"It's a Smurf Village!" says Coney Counter, who arrives to lead an architectural history tour. Caro-LINE gives chocolate to K-Pop; Half Full and Danger Man join for a survey of the other side of the tracks. We share gratitude for good friends, good health, good times together!

(trackfile)

- Monday, March 22, 2021 at 05:37:50 (EDT)


Hard, Hard Problem

Hard, hard problem:
You turn it over
Study it from the other side
Push it around the floor
Bend it, but it springs back
Gnaw it, until your teeth hurt
Try one thing on it, then another
Set it aside
Pretend not to care about it
Sneak up on it and surprise it
Trade it for another hard, hard problem
Take it back again
Carry it with you wherever you go
Sleep with it beside you
Wear it like a collar
Wear it down
Weary it
Worry it
Dirty it
Clean it
Chew on it
Find a tiny crack in it, maybe that it had all along
Make the crack in it a little larger
Give it to the next dog

(cf Richard Hamming's "You and Your Research", Applied Bypasses (1999-04-14), Genius and Complexity (1999-05-25), DiffiCult (2001-06-28), Insight Modeling (2019-12-31), ...)

- Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 06:55:35 (EDT)


2021-02-25 - Language Lesson

~3.5 mi @ ~19.7 min/mi

"Plantar fasciitis? Achilles tendinitis?" Danger Man and Roadkill practice their Latin and Greek during a sunset ramble. Cyclists on Sligo Creek Trail swerve and warn as they swoop past.

(trackfile)

- Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 05:45:21 (EDT)


The Way It Is

William Stafford (1914-1993) wrote thousands of poems. Or maybe he discovered them, or brushed away the words that weren't right leaving the poem behind. He wrote this one on 2 Aug 1993, less than a month before he died.

The Way It Is

There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.

In the collection of Stafford's work The Way It Is that she edited, poet Naomi Shihab Nye sees and seizes him:

... An intense awareness of presence and absence permeates here. He embraced and saluted the process of working. He meandered, and valued the turns. He honored, while demystifying anything that rang of pomp. He dug in the ground. He picked things up and looked at them. He had so many frequent flier miles he could have started his own program. He answered people's letters diligently, often closing with "Adios."

He sent poems to people who asked for them. No magazine was too small for his consideration. He was marvelously funny, with a wry tip of wit, the folded poems coming out of one pocket, going back to the other. He left devotees in his wake but wouldn't have thought of them that way. He befriended the earth and its citizens most generously and attentively, at the same time remaining solitary in his countenance, intact, composed, mysterious, complete in his humble service. ...

... echoing Stafford himself.

(cf In My Journal (2005-01-29), William Stafford (2017-10-29), ...)

- Friday, March 19, 2021 at 06:38:13 (EDT)


2021-02-24 - Flamingo Love

~5.5 mi @ ~17.9 min/mi

"🦩❤️!" says the display of Valentine hearts and lawn ornament flamingos. Roadkill discovers multiple dead-ends on the periphery of aptly-named Woodend Sanctuary, the Audubon Naturalist Society headquarters. Warm weather melts icy patches into slippery mud. Near "Rancho Relaxo", a spectacular sunset!

(trackfile)

- Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 06:32:03 (EDT)


2021-02-23 - Riprap

~5.3 mi @ ~19.0 min/mi

"Rip-Rap: Piedras de Retención" says the sign by Sligo Creek, a 1-to-3 length ratio in the two languages. A life-sized deer poses for selfies with Roadkill near the Clement Rd cut-through to the park. Icy-muddy patches add slippery messiness to a new connection between bikepath and Dameron Dr. Pansies bloom despite the cold.

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 05:48:46 (EDT)


Certain Uncertainty

Uncertainty is the only certainty there is,
and knowing how to live with insecurity
is the only security.

... from the Siobhan Roberts essay "The Lasting Lessons of John Conway's Game of Life" in the 28 Dec 2020 New York Times, quoting Melanie Mitchell quoting John Allen Paulos:

Given that Conway's proof that the Game of Life can be made to simulate a Universal Computer – that is, it could be "programmed" to carry out any computation that a traditional computer can do – the extremely simple rules can give rise to the most complex and most unpredictable behavior possible. This means that there are certain properties of the Game of Life that can never be predicted, even in principle!

In this moment in time, it's important to emphasize that inherent unpredictability – so well illustrated in even the simple Game of Life – is a feature of life in the real world as well as in the Game of Life. We have to figure out ways to flourish in spite of the inherent unpredictability and uncertainty we constantly live with. As the mathematician John Allen Paulos so eloquently said, "Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security." This is, I think, Life's most important lesson.

(cf Dead Beginnings (2002-09-28), Mind Children (2003-04-17), Pyramid Building (2004-02-21), Genius at Play (2018-11-04), ...)

- Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 06:31:26 (EDT)


2021-02-21 - East Village

~1.3 mi @ ~23.5 min/mi

"Maybe if we lie down in the middle of the street?" Kanga and Roadkill watch a turkey vulture circling overhead and wonder how to lure it closer for a photo op. An ice-clad meadow makes for an instant skating lesson. "Should we stick to the sidewalk?" Speculation includes treks on the Catoctin and Seneca Creek Trails. Or maybe a time-limited distance challenge? Hmmmm!

(trackfile)

- Monday, March 15, 2021 at 06:20:08 (EDT)


2021-02-21 - Believe

~4.4 mi 2 ~24.7 min/mi

"2,864,974" say stickers on cars in Garrett Park. Danger Man, Doc Bob, Half Full, and Roadkill meander on a snowy sunny Sunday, admiring architecture and sharing silly stories. "I sleep 6 hours 25 minutes most nights!" and "I dream about work, and sometimes actually get work done in my dreams!" A festive ribbon decorates a tall tree; a Moravian Star dangles from a branch. Why are Bitcoins worth anything? Why is anything worth anything? Roadkill suggests that it all comes down to trust.

(trackfile)

- Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 06:51:50 (EDT)


In the Woods

http://zhurnaly.com/images/walk/Fairchild-House_In-the-Woods_2021-02-06.jpgFairchild House and five acres of adjacent grounds were acquired in 1959 by CCRA. It is the remainder of a 34-acre estate, named "In the Woods," developed by Dr. David Fairchild, the renowned botanist, and his wife, Marian, in the early part of the 20th century. The house was innovative for its emphasis to connect with the natural setting via its many exterior doors, roof deck terrace and interior detailing that celebrated the natural world. On the property, beginning in 1906, Dr. Fairchild planted many important tree species including the Dove, Cedar of Lebanon, Chinese Fringe, Nikko Maple, Oriental Oak and Flowering Japanese Cherry, many of which survive to this day on the CCRA property and are listed as Maryland Champion Trees. As a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist, Fairchild traveled the world and brought over 200,000 plants and seeds to the U.S. He is responsible for introducing many foods to Americans that are now commonplace, such as avocados, mangos, and more. He also became well known for his role in the introduction of the Japanese Cherry trees at the Tidal Basin and in the Kenwood neighborhood.

(as seen during walk 2021-02-06 - In the Woods)

- Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 05:46:40 (EST)


2021-02-20 - Rise Above

~9.5 mi @ ~23.2 min/mi

"I need to work on my Spread sheet!" Danger Man and Roadkill analyze weight records (and sometimes set weight records). Square Peg tells of satellite orbital equations and kids' happy accomplishments; their tragedies often are less scary than first feared. The trio's rambling route takes them along icy streets and brings back memories of where they lived years ago, carbon-dated based on who was in labor and gave birth to whom during which weather event. Speaking of which: today is Peg's happy birthday!

"Dig deep!" and "Rise Above!" Metacognitive metaphors, maybe useful. Then there are the benefits of mistakes, serendipitous email address errors in bringing new talent to bear. Explorers Lewis & Clark make a cameo appearance during a discussion of hydrological divides, the Chicago Canal, and the Great Basin. Social justice issues involve {urban, ethnic, educated} populations – and the opposite. We remember times when we could have done better toward others – and the opposite. Life is often tough – and the opposite. It's not a zero-sum game. All we can do is our best, given the circumstances. And we can help each other do better!

"Be kind!" a 2013 graduation speech by writer George Saunders suggests. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, "When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I'm old, I admire kind people." And Saunders himself seems to be even more optimistic than Roadkill: "Oh, there's a nail in my head. It's great, I'll hang a coat on it, that'll be good." Ha!

(trackfile)

- Friday, March 12, 2021 at 05:28:08 (EST)


2021-02-17 - SS Ballerinas

~5.2 mi @ ~18.4 min/mi

"With curvy shapes evoking the feminine form, these ballerinas interact with slow rhythmical movements, symbolizing the dynamic nature of human interaction." In a downtown alley the triplet shiny-steel wind-kinetic sculptures named "Botero Ballerinas" pose en pointe. Roadkill pauses to admire the art by Barton Rubenstein. A masked neighbor emerges from a day of work at home and says, "Hi!" as she sets out for her evening walk. "Shine Brighter in Dark Times" advises a cheery window decoration in downtown Silver Spring.

(trackfile)

- Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 05:25:31 (EST)


2021-02-16 - Love, Kindness, Respect

~5.0 mi @ ~19.0 min/mi

"I'm still wandering around lost!" Roadkill texts comrades, as a northward ramble drifts west. Then suddenly, deja vu on Casper St, as from the opposite direction he spies scenery last seen at sunrise with Square Peg a month ago (2021-01-16 - Onslaughted). Small planet! Kensington front yard art counsels Love, Kindness, and Respect.

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 07:22:12 (EST)


Easy to Forget

Most of the time it's so easy to forget that:

(cf My Business (1999-05-30), My Religion (2000-11-06), Most Important (2002-05-16), 2008-03-23 - Sunrise Service at Seneca Creek (2008-03-24), Purpose of Life (2009-01-28), ...)

- Tuesday, March 09, 2021 at 05:49:09 (EST)



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