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Howdy, pilgrim! No ads — you're in the ^zhurnal (that's Russian for "journal") — see ZhurnalyWiki for a Wiki edition of individual items; see Zhurnal and Zhurnaly for quick clues as to what this is all about; see Random for a random page. Briefly, this is the diary of ^z = Mark Zimmermann ... previous volume = 0.9936 ... complete list at bottom of page ... send comments & suggestions to "z (at) his (dot) com" ... click on a title link to go to that item in the ZhurnalyWiki where you can edit or comment on it ... thank you!

2019-05-06 - Run with Scissors

~5.8 mi @ ~11.5 min/mi

"Let's Race!" declares Roadkill, as he stoops to pick up a pair of rusty shears lying in the street. A block later he tosses them toward an open trash bin. "Missed me!" taunts E.R., cruising just behind. Dawn Patrol cheats death yet again! During the dash to the coffee shop we challenge each other on hills and point out hidden cut-throughs.

Trash-talk escalates: "After your sandbagging attempt last time, I won't believe that you're really hurt unless there's a bone sticking out!" The pace is fast enough that Roadkill accepts it as speedwork-substitute in lieu of climbing the fence to run laps at the high school track.

"Mathematicians seem oddly obsessed with numbers!" notes E.R., as conversation moves from bottomless mimosas to Erdös anecdotes. A pomegranate sunrise brightens the sky. Coney Count = 1 after a tiny bunny scoots across the sidewalk ahead.


- Friday, May 24, 2019 at 04:18:43 (EDT)

2019-05-05 - Beach Blanket Superhero

~10.5 mi @ ~15.7 min/mi

beach blanket superheroes"Damp socks yesterday, a sopping wet towel today — what will I discover tomorrow?" Pippi Roadkill is a thing-finder, this morning snagging a soggy old Marvel superhero beach blanket abandoned by the roadside. Lugging it is good weight training! Pink flamingos dance menacingly across a front yard; a bronze garden statue depicts a girl and boy reading. The Ken-Gar parking lot is full, so G-ji parks upstream and runs to the rendezvous. A warm-up walkabout rediscovers a hidden cut-through at Edith Throckmorton Park, where Roadkill slips and almost falls on a wet log. Danger Man, tracking their motion, arrives.

"Flood alert!" The trio tiptoes through puddles as rain rattles on the leafy canopy above. We share race plans, offer healthy diet tips, and commiserate over injuries. Back again at Ken-Gar, Roadkill rejects an offer of OJ — "My new regime allows fruit but not fruit juices!" — and splits a banana.

"This isn't a connector path, it's a waterfall!" Drainage from Howard Avenue makes the climb from Rock Creek Trail slightly treacherous in spots. But all's well that ends well (enough)!


- Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 06:22:13 (EDT)

Ideas vs Beliefs

From the 1999 film Dogma, by Kevin Smith, on the importance of openness, flexibility, and not-clinging to judgments:

Rufus: ... His only real beef with mankind is the sh*t that gets carried out in His name. Wars, bigotry, televangelism. The big one, though, is the fractioning of all of the religions. He said mankind got it all wrong by taking a good idea and building a belief structure on it.
Bethany: You're saying having beliefs is a bad thing?
Rufus: I just think it's better to have ideas. I mean, you can change an idea; changing a belief is trickier. People die for it, people kill for it. ...

... quoted by a colleague at the office in response to the Bayesian mantra, "Beliefs should be knobs, not switches".

- Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 04:28:21 (EDT)

2019-05-04 - Meet Vixen

~9.5 mi @ ~14.4 min/mi

"There's always a cut-through!" says Vixen. "Go ahead and find it — we'll wait!" So Roadkill climbs the fence and creeps behind the French Immersion School. Around the corner, there's the path! "Allons-y!"

It's a humid morning of robins and rabbits, soggy socks and dewy grass. A cloth banner en route to the rendezvous exhorts: "Wage Hope". At Candy Cane City G-ji introduces Vixen. We run past the stables, greet a Galloway training group, then meet up with Danger Man. In the road-closed zone of Rock Creek Park busy construction workers build a new gravel base for Beach Drive. We dodge a peleton of cyclists on Western Ave, where G-ji finds a dime and a nickel, and visit DC Boundary Stones NW9 and NW8. Neighborhood lanes take us back to Leland St where a lovely-curvy wooden sculpture stands not far from a classic lawn-dog-flower-basket ornament. Danger Man reports on his Big Sur International Marathon experience last weekend; Vixen and Roadkill compare notes on Pasadena California. "Très bien!"


- Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 18:29:25 (EDT)

2019-05-03 - Think Better

~9.2 mi @ ~12.5 min/mi

"Manic Monday?" Roadkill reports hearing the Bangles tune on the car radio, and launches into a chaotic explanation of the Metacognitive Mafia's latest plan for world domination. No secret: it's simply a scheme to nudge everybody toward better thinking, and thus make the universe a safer, kinder place. <<insert fiendish cackle>> K2 listens patiently as her mantra is quoted back at her: "What can I myself do, right here and right now, to make this situation better?" (Hmmm ... perhaps sketch a causal flow diagram of feedback loops, time delays, and leverage points?)

"She said this has been the best year of her life!" Such a happy thought — and rather than cynical allusions to "Glory Days" a better musical accompaniment would be "These Are Days" by 10,000 Maniacs, with its lovely-poetic: "And as you feel it, you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky." Yes, and ...

"Oooh, gotta give chase!" says Roadkill as Scoot Faster zips by, his slow warmup matching Roadkill's 5k race pace. At 0-dark-5:49am they sprint together for a few steps. Miles later K2 leads Dawn Patrol on a 1:52 lap at Langley High School track, surface slippery with morning dew. Cut-throughs between neighborhoods are muddy.

"It's Freaky Friday!" booms the Cooper Middle School public address system. "Don't ask what the acronym 'WOW' stands for in 'WOW Wednesday' please," suggests someone. Oops!


- Monday, May 20, 2019 at 04:21:30 (EDT)

2019-05-01 - Support Vector

~5.4 mi @ ~11.6 min/mi

"Anaphora? Is that a Grecian urn?" Roadkill emulates a troublesome professor on a final oral exam committee and interrogates E.R. about computational linguistics. "And could you explain a support vector machine — to a 4-year-old?" E.R. does a fine job as we dash 2 fast miles to the coffee shop, then explore the neighborhood as we sip java.

"Eureka! E.R.'s cut-through #1!" Dawn Patrol considers wading across the creek to Bryn Mawr Park before discovering a hidden pathway between Emerson Avenue and the shopping center. After inspecting a little free library and an enigmatic iron sculpture ("rusty turtle?") we take K2's cut-through #1 past McLean High School. "Are those hearts?" - "No, it's a baseball!"


- Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 04:58:26 (EDT)

Intimacy 201

Further edgy thoughts from Andrea Howe's "Get Real Project", in her essay "Intimacy 201" about how to be a trusted advisor:

(cf. Trusted Advisor (2012-12-23), Action to Raise Trust (2015-09-05), Principles of Trust-Building (2015-09-23), Three Little Words (2017-04-08), Get Real Project (2019-05-01), ...)

- Friday, May 17, 2019 at 05:31:18 (EDT)

2019-04-29 - Stippled Sunrise

~4.8 mi @ ~11.4 min/mi

"Hackamore?" K2 explains bitless bits of horse tack in response to Roadkill's equestrian questions about the difference between a halter and a bridle. "And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim", says Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "Pied Beauty". Dawn Patrol admires stippled "skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow" and gives thanks for dappled things. Four deer stare and then retreat into the brush by Lupine Lane. A new gray blockhouse stands across the street from stately conventional mansions with manicured broad lawns. "Their owners must be driven crazy when they look out their front windows!"

"Almost a hole in one!" E.R. recounts an extraordinary golf event yesterday. Skeptical Bayesians speculate whether he was pranked by a friend, hallucinated, or actually hit an awesome shot that landed within half a club-length of the pin. Odds favor the final hypothesis. We trot by the Stations of the Cross, straighten ornamental birds perched in a tree near a little free library, and finish in time for early-urgent phone calls. After a good run with friends, all's well in this fickle, freckled world!


- Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 05:26:58 (EDT)

2019-04-27 - Wind and Sun

~11.7 mi @ ~14.9 min/mi

Wind"I love the smell of paint! Do you feel high yet?" Solvent fumes waft from the industrial park. G-ji and Roadkill divert to inspect artwork and check out a coffee warehouse-outlet where chia seeds are on deep discount sale.
"Tomorrow? I thought the race was today!" We can't run as bandits with friends, and instead circle Rockville on the cherry-blossom-bestrewn Carl Henn Millennium "Trail" aka sidewalks with stripes. Bright sun's warmth alternates with gusty wind's chill, both of which are depicted by arty house decorations. Thomas Farm Community Center is 10 minutes shy of opening when we arrive, so we orbit the neighborhood and take photos at the Mile 0 marker.Su


- Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 04:29:08 (EDT)

Overcoming Time Management Regret

Thoughts on self-forgiveness and opening-to-change in Elizabeth Grace Saunders' New York Times article "Your Past Is Not Your Future: Overcoming Time Management Regret":

(cf Life Time Management - 1 (2001-06-13), Life Time Management - 2 (2001-06-17), Practical Productivity (2004-01-20), It's About Choices (2009-04-21), Mind Like Water (2011-12-24), Getting Things Done - Summarized (2012-05-14), ...)

- Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 05:35:17 (EDT)

2019-04-26 - Potomac Trek

~14 mi @ ~14.4 min/mi

Martin Luther King Jr memorial"We didn't take a wrong turn, we took a different turn!" E.R. offers an optimistic perspective on unanticipated detours. Starting at Potomac Yard the Dawn Patrol follows Four Mile Run to the Mount Vernon Trail and proceeds northwest. Martin Luther King Jr approves of the adventure, as do Presidents Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ, whose memorials we visit.
"Training for Life, and for Lunch!" - the answer to a questioner who wonders why we're out today. A visit to Starbucks in Georgetown adds major GPS glitches to the trackfile distance estimate.Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting PoolAircraft on final approach to National Airport swoop low overhead at Gravelly Point. K-Rex and K2 dash ahead with E.R. as Slow-Twitch and Roadkill pause to inspect vegetation near the Potomac River. Keith Knipling gives a shout-out as he bikes upstream.
"AREA CLOSED"? It doesn't say that on the side of the barrier from which we arrive! Trail talk includes technical issues of epidemiology and linguistics, plus lots of lessons-learned from mistakes. "Don't do what I did!"Georgetown construction barrier


- Monday, May 13, 2019 at 04:30:55 (EDT)

Frog and Toad - The Surprise

A Zen-ish children's story told by Arnold Lobel (1933-1987) is titled "The Surprise" (published in Frog and Toad All Year). Kathryn Jezer-Morton comments on it in "Discovering the dharma in 'Frog and Toad'":

To me, The Surprise is about the pleasure of loving-kindness. There is no goal or endgame required in the practice of loving-kindness. It is not a practice that requires a reward; it is its own reward, it reflects back on you. The kindness that Frog and Toad show each other is ultimately invisible, but it warms them both. As Shunryu Suzuki writes in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves."

The story, with a few of Lobel's illustrations from [1]:

It was October. The leaves had fallen off the trees. They were lying on the ground. "I will go to Toad's house," said Frog. "I will rake all of the leaves that have fallen on his lawn. Toad will be surprised." Frog took a rake out of the garden shed.

Toad looked out of his window. "These messy leaves have covered everything," said Toad. He took a rake out of his closet. "I will run over to Frog's house. I will rake all of his leaves. Frog will be very pleased."
http://zhurnaly.com/images/frog-and-toad_arnold-lobel_the-surprise_2.jpgFrog ran through the woods so that Toad would not see him. Toad ran through the high grass so that Frog would not see him. Frog came to Toad's house. He looked in the window. "Good," said Frog. "Toad is out. He will never know who raked his leaves."

Toad got to Frog's house. He looked in the window. "Good," said Toad. "Frog is not home. He will never guess who raked his leaves."
Frog worked hard. He raked the leaves into a pile. Soon Toad's lawn was clean. Frog picked up his rake and started home.

Toad pushed and pulled on the rake. He raked the leaves into a pile. Soon there was not a single leaf in Frog's front yard. Toad took his rake and started home.
http://zhurnaly.com/images/frog-and-toad_arnold-lobel_the-surprise_4.jpgA wind came. It blew across the land. The pile of leaves that Frog had raked for Toad blew everywhere. The pile of leaves that Toad had raked for Frog blew everywhere.

When Frog got home, he said, "Tomorrow I will clean up the leaves that are all over my own lawn. How surprised Toad must be!"

When Toad got home, he said, "Tomorrow I will get to work and rake all of my own leaves. How surprised Frog must be!"

That night Frog and Toad were both happy when they each turned out the light and went to bed.

(cf Frog and Toad (2009-01-09), ...)

- Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 16:53:18 (EDT)

2019-04-24 - Justice like Tinted Glass

~4.7 mi @ ~13.1 min/mi

"With fingernails that shine like justice / And a voice that is dark like tinted glass!" Roadkill tries to remember the best similes in Cake's song "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" as he and K2 admire vintage-retro dresses in downtown McLean shop windows. We sip iced coffee and discuss Edward Gibbon, Thornton Wilder, and the beautifully structured prose of some authors. Creative energy can work miracles; a child's schoolwork may some day become a keepsake-journal to share memories with future generations.

"Runs on Sunshine!" K2 sees a sign inside Starbucks and requests a Roadkill selfie in front of it. We shake our heads at the coarsening of public discourse and proliferation of foul language in sidewalk conversation. Alizarin crimson clouds glow low in the east.

"Good morning, again!" Scoot Faster greets us for the second time as we finish. A few miles earlier he zoomed past us near McDonalds, and now he's out walking the dog. A huge empty flowerpot beckons from the roadside where it awaits today's trash pickup. Carpe Urna, Roadkill!


- Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 05:25:34 (EDT)

Opening to the New

Soft thoughts on self-care in a recent New York Times essay "Why You Need a Network of Low-Stakes, Casual Friendships" by Allie Volpe:

Volpe's list of gentle practices:

... all in the spirit of acceptance and openness to possibility — "Something wonderful may be about to happen!"

(cf Opening to Love (2013-09-27), Ground of Being (2013-10-03), Virtues of Softness (2014-03-20), Rilke on Being Human (2015-04-22), Wings of Acceptance (2015-05-26), Taiji Mnemonic Principles (2017-09-15), Mindfulness in Three Words (2018-06-13), Meditation Map (2019-01-19), ...)

- Friday, May 10, 2019 at 06:45:33 (EDT)


~7.6 mi @ ~12.6 min/mi

"'Posh' does NOT come from a passenger ship acronym 'Port Outward, Starboard Home' as folk-etymology suggests", E.R. notes; he recently read The Man Who Knew Infinity, a biography of mathematician Ramanujan that repeats that incorrect claim. K2, the only one wearing a headlamp, leads Dawn Patrol for the first mile until gloom lifts. We pause at McDonalds for hot coffee on a cool morning. Geese feed on a football field.

"Bats? Whether or not, let's say that they are — it adds drama to the report!" Winged silhouettes dip and flutter overhead. Cars pause politely on off-ramps for us to cross. A pack of other runners gathers at a street corner as we approach.

"Can we take them?" Roadkill wonders. "They're twice our number, but we're twice as tough!" Now that E.R. has signed up for the Columbus Marathon in October, K2 and Roadkill commence greasing the slippery slope and suggest that he run Richmond with us a month later. Why not?


- Thursday, May 09, 2019 at 05:29:27 (EDT)

2019-04-21 - You Are Loved

~20.1 mi @ ~14.2 min/mi

U R ❤️'d"You must love your self. Then things will begin to get better." Slow-Twitch shares words of great wisdom from an online health forum. Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol? Just numbers. Self-care is crucial. So is helping friends, and widening the circle of concern. At mile ~17 a sidewalk stencil reminds: "U R ❤️'d". Easter blessings to all, today and every day!

"Swordfish!" G-ji shares a recipe for a delicious meal as she and Roadkill meet in Ken-Gar and jog upstream along Rock Creek. Multiple mini-packs of cute dogs are out for strolls on leashes. During our return along the Matthew Henson Trail we spy three pencils, a pen, and a pair of chocolate candies on the ground. Roadkill dives and snags them, his only fuel of the day. A mile later we're delighted to meet Slow-Twitch and join forces for bonus miles. Cherry blossoms puddle in the streets. On the solo homeward trek Roadkill pauses to admire the Ernest Park eagle, sakura trees blooming in the background. Bunny count = 1, in a Kensington front yard.


- Wednesday, May 08, 2019 at 04:42:27 (EDT)


From Chapter 1 of Herman Wouk's 2010 book The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion, words from Richard Feynman:

and from Chapter 3, quoted from James Gleick's 1992 biography Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman:

(cf Fractal Feynman (2003-01-30), Feynman Lectures (2006-11-26), Feynman on Poetry and Science (2015-11-03), Symmetry in Physical Laws (2015-12-12), Alternative Paths (2017-01-15), Feynman on Good Stuff (2018-06-03), ...)

- Tuesday, May 07, 2019 at 06:01:11 (EDT)

2019-04-20 - Candy Biker

~5.1 mi @ ~12.5 min/mi

Wild Hair z"Peppermint?" Roadkill and Danger Man pause to offer aid to an inconsolable little girl, stopped on the bikepath after what seems to have been a minor cycling accident. Her parents approve, and she immediately stops crying and takes the candy. Future ultrarunner material, eh?! Next time, no doubt, if she finds one of us fallen she'll just say "Suck it up, Cupcake!" and "If the bone ain't showin', keep on goin'!" A big deer feeds nearby as we trot upstream. Ladies dash by, then turn back. We pet dogs and essay feats of strength at Colt Terrace Park, take the side route to Arcola Ave, and return to the trail.

"Magellan the Great Navigator?" Roadkill suggests a new name for Danger Man, who leads the way as we bushwhack past a pair of ponds and eventually emerge from the brush, scratched and slightly scathed. We sing together, "There's a man who leads a life of danger / To everyone he meets he stays a stranger / With every move he makes / Another chance he takes / Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow." This time, thankfully, tomorrow is another day. As we approach the finish line Roadkill poses for a photo in an antigravity-wild-hair zone.


- Monday, May 06, 2019 at 04:43:56 (EDT)

2019-04-19 - Sakuro Cadence

~10.9 mi @ ~13.5 min/mi

"I want to be an Army Ranger / Live a life of sex and danger!" K-Rex reports overhearing a slightly-naughty cadence when passing a phalanx of military runners. Dawn Patrol scarcely needs headlamps this morning as we trot around Pimmit Hills, past the Metro and back via pedestrian cut-through paths. ER sets a brisk pace for the first half dozen miles, after which Roadkill and K-Rex drop him off to make early meetings. We then throttle back for a bonus mindful meander.

"Yoshino has five petals; Kanzan look like carnations." K-Rex identifies cherry blossom varieties and names other flowering trees. At McLean High School track the chin-up bars reveal a great opportunity for more upper-body strength work. Coney Count = 2, big bunnies at miles 5 and 8.


- Sunday, May 05, 2019 at 05:25:46 (EDT)

С Днем Рождения

"None of us remembers our birthday
    — but we all celebrate it!"

... what else has that paradoxical quality?

(from the lovely 2015 Russian film "I am Dragon" = "Он - дракон")

- Saturday, May 04, 2019 at 05:39:51 (EDT)

2019-04-13 - Vermont Runamuck 50k

~31 mi @ ~14.6 min/mi

Vermont Runamuck 50k horses and riders South Pomfret"Ultrarunners are so nice - I Heart You!" says the young lady, holding up hands in a <3 shape. So many such comments happen during the Runamuck 50k today, as we offer one another food, drink, salt, etc. The slopes in Vermont's ski region are icy, dirt roads muddy, vistas dramatic, hills unrelenting, and people uniformly ultra-friendly.
"I hired extra medics and alerted all the rescue squads along the way!" Race Director Jonathan Vass teases Roadkill, who takes a 45-minute-early start expecting to be much slower. Even with pauses to photograph horses, refuel at aid stations, and doff garments as the day warms, he finishes in 7 hours 25 minutes, 75th of 80, last of 5 in his age group, winner of the "traveled farthest to run" gift certificate. Yay!Vermont Runamuck 50k m
Vermont Runamuck 50k Mary Ewell and Mark Zim"Thank you, Mary!" Roadkill says it often throughout today's race. The inestimable Dr M drives, crews, runs alongside for miles, and cracks the whip as needed to help him enjoy the race and finish far more comfortably than anticipated. Great day!


- Friday, May 03, 2019 at 04:34:25 (EDT)

2019-04-10 - Capital One Coffee

~5.2 mi @ ~13.6 mi/mi

"The new Starbucks is open!" Dawn Patrol dashes up and down the Metro stairs past sleepy commuters to check out the long-rumored coffee shop less than a mile from the office. We deem it worthy, though GPS makes mega-glitches while indoors. When we attempt to escape the new neighborhood we're thwarted by fences and construction barriers. Cut-throughs another day, and perhaps a sidewalk to explore by the new highway on-ramp? Let's hope!

"Stop here and pose!" Roadkill takes photos of E.R. at the tree stump carved into a giant grizzly bear. K2 leads us on a natural-surface short-cut through Olney Park. Daffodils and narcissi line the streets.


- Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 05:27:26 (EDT)

Get Real Project

A list (and Table of Contents) from Andrea Howe's Get Real Project manifesto, "17 Ways to Transform Your Client Relationships", ideas on how to be a better "trusted advisor":

  1. Curiosity is king.
  2. Stop selling; start helping.
  3. Business is personal.
  4. Humor and levity do more than break the ice.
  5. Trust is non-linear and paradoxical; embrace the opportunity.
  6. Be quiet and listen if you want to be heard.
  7. Mistakes are inevitable; how you handle them reveals your true character.
  8. Being vulnerable takes chutzpah.
  9. The soft stuff is the hard stuff—master it.
  10. Control is an illusion; the best moments are usually improvised.
  11. No risk, no trust, no doubt about it.
  12. It's your job to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  13. You get what you give.
  14. Be human. Please.
  15. Change begins at home. Work on yourself first.
  16. If you can't be yourself, change jobs. Or hire a therapist. Or both.
  17. Keep it real.

In his foreword to her Manifesto, Andrea Howe's mentor-collaborator Charles Green comments: "You can read these 17 pearls as daily meditations. You can also treat them as subjects for discussion and even, on occasion, data collection. Any way you apply them, you'll be transforming yourself."

(cf. Trusted Advisor (2012-12-23), Action to Raise Trust (2015-09-05), Principles of Trust-Building (2015-09-23), Three Little Words (2017-04-08), ...)

- Wednesday, May 01, 2019 at 04:54:58 (EDT)

2019-04-07 - Haiku Tree

~6.2 mi @ ~15.5 min/mi

Kenwood Cherry Blossom haiku tree"Fleeting beauty makes / Time stand still beneath the pale / Blossoms of pink bliss." R2 shows Roadkill the Haiku Tree, limbs heavy with clothes-pinned poems. We roam the streets of Kenwood, admiring sakura and attempting not to photo-bomb busy lensmen. Young couples kiss and hug, take selfies and pose, blush and snuggle for cameras. Pale petals rain down at breeze's delicate touch.

"Run gently!" Earlier this morning Roadkill gives Danger Man a ride to the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in downtown DC. Bright murals on the West Education Center call to him from the corner of 14th and Farragut NW.


- Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 05:52:14 (EDT)

Awakening Matrix

mindfulness   nonattachment  oneness
attend accept affirm
empty glide serve
meta open kind
here soft love
now may yes
be if go

(another draft sketch — cf Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), Meditation Map (2019-01-19), ...)

- Monday, April 29, 2019 at 04:44:23 (EDT)

2019-04-06 - Merlin Loves Sakura

~7.9 mi @ ~17 min/mi

Merlin Loves Sakura - Kenwood Maryland 2019 Sakura"Hanami!" -- the Japanese word for flower-viewing, especially cherry blossoms -- brings G-ji, K2, and Roadkill to Bethesda early Saturday morning. We warm up, meet Danger Man, and proceed to the Kenwood neighborhood where more than 1,000 trees are abloom. Little kids cease posing for photos and swivel their heads to stare at Roadkill's wizard hat. Some dogs admire the pointy cap; others decide it is too unnatural and bark violently.

"Excessive turrets!" - "Incongruous angles!" - "Distracting pillars!" - We critique mansion architecture and pause to applaud artistic garden choices. Branches arch low over streets. Flower beds are freshly mulched. A random-walk strategy covers the majority of the area within an hour.

"Maybe he's on the lookout for counterfeiters?" A secret service police vehicle idles at a corner. Trucks and cars pause politely for pedestrians. G-ji heads home, leaving K2, Danger Man, and Roadkill to amble west and rediscover cut-throughs. The local neighborhood association offers tables of free food to sample. We analyze superhero movies: Jason Momoa is easy on the eyes but everyone in "Aquaman" seems to solve problems by hitting or stabbing; "Shazam!" gets a positive review; advance ticket prices for "Avengers: Endgame" are simply silly.

(trackfile & trackfile)

- Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 14:25:09 (EDT)

Retra Remarks

If you live under a rock,
you might think that the sun
is a crack in the Earth.

... a poetic image posted in reply to a Category Theory question [1] by user "Retra", some of whose comments seem similarly intriguing, e.g., excerpted:

... and in response to a critique of such comments, Retra's meta-comment:

(typos fixed and comments extracted from context for impact)

- Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 05:52:52 (EDT)

2019-04-05 - Nice Day to Start Again

~14.0 mi @ ~14.0 min/mi

Graffiti under GW Parkway bridge over Pimmit Run"Faith! We've gotta have Faith!" says K2, alluding to the George Michael hit song while Dawn Patrol trots along the narrow shoulder of Chesterbrook Road. Earlier she croons an excerpt of "We Belong" (Pat Benatar, by Lowen & Navarro) as we claim the right to be here.
"Hey little Sister, what have you done?" Roadkill in turn quotes from "White Wedding" by Billy Idol. We're alternately lost and found, enjoying an adventure on a soggy-wet morning, following the path by Pimmit Run, dancing over rocks and roots, creeping along the eroded stream bank. Roadkill's memory is foggy from the last time he ventured here almost 7 years ago (see 2012-05-19 - Pimmit Run Trail (Downstream)). Fresh graffiti under the GW Memorial Parkway shines bright.Graffiti under GW Parkway bridge over Pimmit Run
stripy lawn sculpture"Lawn zebra!" K2 points to a stripey garden sculpture. We pass a pair of fierce lions by a driveway, embarrassed to wear bunny ears and guard their Easter baskets. A cut-through takes us to civilization where a woman running with her dog is clueless as to which way we should turn to get back. No matter! "It's a nice day for a white wedding. It's a nice day to start again!"


- Friday, April 26, 2019 at 04:12:21 (EDT)

2019-04-03 - Acupuncture

~4.0 mi @ ~16.3 min/mi

"It all goes through the stomach!" J-Ro quotes his acupuncturist on a tenet of Asian traditional medicine. "Literally, that's true," comments E.R., as Dawn Patrol shares experiences with injuries and recovery therefrom. The cloying scent of mulch rises from flower beds on Windy Hill Road. An airplane with brilliant landing lights cruises past Venus low in the east. Frost rimes tiny gardens by an apartment complex, each of which has a sign indicating its owner's room number. K2 leads us through half a dozen cut-throughs, across Old Dominion to Lewinsville, past a cemetery, and by the flying-disc golf course. We note the paucity of Little Free Libraries in some neighborhoods.


- Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 05:31:23 (EDT)

Applied Category Theory

be more Meta
It's all about abstraction

Suggestions from yet another recent thread about the value of Category Theory in computer science and engineering [1]:


... learning about techniques used in functional programming that have their origin in category theory (maps, folds, algebraic data types, monads, monoids, etc) can allow you to think about how to solve problems (even in non-functional languages) in ways that can be more "natural" to the problem, in that the abstractions used resemble the problem description more closely. That ability to decompose difficult problems in new ways can definitely make you a better engineer. ...


... category theory is massively useful in understanding the similarities between fields, and can be used to transfer understanding from one field to another. It it also useful for understanding more abstract fields where the intuition must be gained by analogy with something more concrete. ...


... Category theory is about abstracting away the details of mathematical domains so that fundamentally parallel proofs and constructions can be seen to be essentially the same. It also allows you to create constructions that allow problems in one field to be transformed into problems in an apparently unrelated one where you might find them easier to prove. The result is that in a new field, you recognize the category and suddenly have a whole bunch of results, and some important constructions to look at. ...


... Category theory is about making trivial things trivially trivial ...


... category theory ... draws out the significance of relationships in a system. We often spend a lot of time thinking about the things, themselves, in a system. ... What are their properties? What do they mean? What is their identity? In category theory, almost all the significance of individual things is erased. Instead, you often group things up into sets and other structures, and then call the whole set an object. Then you think about the existence of morphisms from one kind of object to another. A morphism is kind of like a function, in the sense that something goes in, and something else comes out. Except that we're not concerned about the properties of what's going in and coming out, so the function body doesn't really matter. A morphism is something more general than any specific function. It's more like a function declaration--specifying that something does exist without saying anything concrete about what it does. So, you're operating on a level of abstraction that removes basically all unnecessary details about things and relationships, other than existence and some basic rules for how those relationships can be composed to form new ones. As it turns out, there's a whole lot you can say and prove about categories once you know a bit about their structure. ...


... CT is really what happens when you boil and boil and boil away these different fields and are just left with some very universal ideas. Abstract nonsense. ... The thing you can learn from CT which is interesting and valuable is the very powerful, universal perspective of "if you want to understand something, look at how it relates to other things". Category theory is absolutely focused on this idea and most of its insight is that this idea, taken in its extreme, is extraordinarily far reaching. ...

(cf Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), Category Theory Concepts (2016-04-25), Bird's-Eye View (2016-07-20), Category Theory for Programmers (2017-05-12), Ultimate Abstraction (2017-08-24), Put the Vast Storehouse in Order (2017-10-04), If You Need a Theorem (2018-11-08), Category Theory is like a Lighthouse (2018-12-24), Macro vs Micro (2019-02-03), Why Care about Category Theory (2019-03-03), Structure Itself (2019-03-22), ...)

- Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 04:51:23 (EDT)

2019-04-01 - Starry Morn

~3.7 mi @ ~11.8 min/mi

"Despite the light pollution!" E.R. spies Cygnus overhead; we speculate about Lyra, Aquila, and the "Summer Triangle" of bright stars. Jupiter shines bright in the south and a skinny crescent moon rises on a crisp Monday morning. Dawn Patrol dashes at sub-10 min/mi pace to the McLean HS track, where a lap lasts 1:42 for Roadkill and a dozen seconds less for speedy E.R. We ramble back and discover a new cut-through behind the apartment complex swimming pool. An under-construction fence lies flat on the ground. Call Security!


- Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 05:46:37 (EDT)

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