Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 And 2016 Swim Goals

2015 And 12016 Swim Goals

I will not make my 2015 swim goal this year (150 miles) but I'll go over 120 miles for the year, this morning I posted 120.68 miles for the 2015 calendar year.

I have collected two swim caps from USMS this year:  A 100 mile cap around May 1st and a 150 mile cap around the end of September.

This morning I had very nice workout.  I did something I have not tried before (in recent years that is).

When I first start (first length, and part of second length) and after I pause at the half-hour/half-way mark; I usually try to swim a few strokes without breathing on each stroke.  Then I fall into my normal cadence of stroke/breath-stroke/breath.

So today I decided to go ahead and give this a shot not just at the beginning of the swim and after the half-hour/half-way pause but in the middle of the 2400 I swim on Mon and Fri.

I did it! The key is not to dig-dig-dig quickly in order to get to the stroke on which you can breath but instead to consciously rotate side-to-side  skipping the exhale and the next inhale but doing the full side-to-side rock as if you did exhale/inhale.

It works!  I have, of course, not arrived at the place where I do this constantly but I now have a goal for 2016.

My goal for 2016 is to swim my entire 2400 yard set using this breathing technique.  I think that this could really work for me.  I think it could increase my stamina and perhaps even increase my pace through the water.

Then in 2017 or perhaps part way through 2016 I'll work on breathing from the other side so I have a more symmetric stroke.

I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Past, The Future, And Imagination

The Past, The Future and


The way I currently understand General Relativity these days I have two thoughts about time. I have a third thought about our experience of time and that thought is all about how Natural Selection molded our understanding of time.

[THOUGHT-1] The past is immutable.
[THOUGHT-2] The future is dynamic, and if not dynamic then 'unknowable' or (shielded) from scrutiny.

[THOUGHT-3] The "Back To The Future" movies are some of my all time favorites. They represent the realization of the most basic and powerful attribute of mentation and that attribute is "imagination"! 

We (as are all sufficiently complex motile organisms) were designed by Natural Selection to form models of our sensory inputs and to run, in real-time, those models in order to predict the short term evolution of those same inputs. To the extent that the model is successful the organism can successfully negotiate its environment.

This 'modeling-of-sensory-inputs' is nothing more and nothing less than what we call imagination. 

Oh yes, and when you consider the above three 'THOUGHTs', they too are examples of our imagination. In this case about the process of mentation itself.

And finally one last thought:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Three Wishes

Three Wishes 
(Well Really ONE Wish)

Recently as a result of conversations with my daughter when she and her husband visited recently, remembering and talking about our past as I and my sister visited our old growing up homeplace, and new understandings that arise from one of the books I'm currently reading; I've come to what I think is a wise statement for me at this time of my life.

To get to the statement I have to talk about wishes.  As a young child we all had fun playing the Wishing Game:  "If you could have anything you wanted what would it be?"  This game when pursued with some vigor (and rigor) does eliminate all sorts of things that you would like to wish for.  I recall as a very young child listening to my father discuss the paradox of "Wishing for more wishes."  We all realized why wishing for more wishes is out.  The interesting thing is once you dispose of this ultimate wish then all the others wishes that are essentially the same also fall by the way.

As a child I had (and I think still do) a very rich imagination.  This imagination was encouraged by the way we were raised as children.  Your imagination was like a toy that you could invent yourself and there were no boundaries and no limits.  To say that we are limited only by our imagination is to say, in some sense, we are limitless.

By the time I was a young/middle teenager I had taken an avid interest in all things technical and scientific.  I often wonder how I would have developed if I had at my disposal what the Internet offers all of us these days.

As a result of my interests and my imagination the "Wishing Game" took on a deeper significance.  I recall thinking, "I wish as I grow I could know everything!"  Of course, it was the case that this wish was immediately sorted into the pile that contained "I wish for more wishes."  I recall modifying the wish to be: "I wish as I grow I have enough sense to understand the advances in knowledge that occur around me."

It turns out that this wish too is a bit much as I look back on the past 68 years of my life.  To some extent, and associated with some small bits of knowledge, this modified wish has been partially granted.

I still have and cherish all my wishes.  I do still wish I understood everything,  I do still wish I can continue to understand new knowledge that develops around me.  

And now I have a new wish:

I wish for peace of mind.  This is the peace of mind that must necessarily accompany the realization of just how profound our ignorance of The Cosmos is.

The new book I'm reading: The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us.

One final thing.  I will continue to pontificate on the latest version of my Theories of Everything.  I can not help myself, as I read new ideas and think about old ideas I must continue to try and integrate all these ideas into a meaningful whole.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How Fast Can 50 Years Pass?

When I graduated from MOHI in '65 the very first thing I did was to enlist in the US Navy.  That was just the thing for someone like myself.  I was not ready to go on to more school I was ready to get away.

The Navy certainly provided me the opportunity.  I was sent to the Aerographer's Mate 'A' and 'C' schools for Weather and Oceanography following boot camp.

Following the schools my duty station was NWSED NAS Moffett Field California.  At that time the base hosted a P3-Orion Submarine Hunter Squadron and it also hosted the NASA Ames Research Center.  NASA is still there to this day while the Navy has left.  The last time I went by Moffett Field there was one lonely jet on the ramp and on the tail of the jet was the word GOOGLE.  Turns out Moffett Field is right in the middle of Silicon-Valley.

After Moffett Field I did a tour of duty with NSA Danang RVN.  While I was there I was attached to Staff Weather. We were responsible for the Surf and Swell forecasts for the supply boats and ships that traveled between Danang and the various bays and rivers in the I-Corps region of Vietnam.

When I finished my tour in Vietnam I had less than 90 days left of my service so I was mustered out when I returned to the US.

I spent the remainder of 1969, and part of 1970 traveling, and working for my Dad at his wholesale grocery store.  I also met my wife, Evelyn, and we were married on August 1st 1970, 45 years ago this year.

Subsequently Evelyn and I raised three wonderful children who have now all moved away.  Our oldest two (both girls) are now married and live in California and Georgia.  Our youngest, our son lives in Boone NC.  We found ourselves rolling around like two peas in a tin can in the house we have lived in for the past 30 odd years and decided to 'downsize' last March and moved to our new house  (a town-house) in north Raleigh.

Evelyn and I were married on a Saturday and Monday morning I went to work for the National Weather Service, Office of Hydrology, Special Studies Branch, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  We spent a year in Silver Springs Maryland then moved back to North Carolina.

After coming back to NC I attended university at UNCW and earned a degree in Math with concentrations in Physics and Computer Science as well as a secondary level teaching certificate.  I taught school for two years in Duplin County (Charity Jr Hi and Wallace Rose Hill High School, an old rival of MOHI).

After our first daughter was born in 1976 we stayed for one more year in Rose Hill NC and then moved to married student housing at UNC-Chapel hill.  I earned my MS in Mathematics while teaching there and then took a position as a math and computer instructor at Louisburg College.  We lived in Louisburg long enough to have two more children before I left teaching and joined "The Industry"

I just retired from "The  Industry" in 2012 and now get to do all the projects that I've saved up over the years and new ones that suggest themselves.

I now enjoy Swimming, Cycling, Reading, and messing around with Computers, Math, Physics, and AI.  And most importantly enjoy watching our kids grow up to be really cool adults.

I look forward to the reunion in September.

p.s.  The 50th Reunion of the Last Graduating Class of MOHI was  a week ago last Saturday (the 19th of September 2015).  I told Evelyn when I got back that I wondered where all my classmates went.  I said that some of their parents showed up and were wearing name tags of their kids, but I could not find the kids in those photos.  When I got back to Raleigh and took a long look in the mirror the only thing I could see was my father looking back at me.  The 18 year old kid whose picture was on my name tag was nowhere in sight.  I still had a super time hanging out with all those 'Old-Folks' and am happy to be counted to be one of them.  There is no way I could have anticipated the events of the last 50 years.  One thing is for sure, the old High School building has NEVER looked so good.  It now belongs to Mount Olive University and houses the music department and is a dorm.  The classrooms have been converted into apartments and the auditorium is fancier than it ever was in my times there.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dog Days Of August News Cycle - And One Year Away From Knowing Who Will Be Running

I got an email from a cousin asking me who I thought the next president of the US would be and who I thought the next president of the US should be.  Here is my response:


  • ​The current front-runner (Hillary) is taking a lot of heat​ this week.

    I wonder how much of it is just misogyny and how much of it is Dog-Days-Of-August-News-Cycle.  The split is probably pretty even.

    And to be fair: The exact same comment could be applied to Trump's situation. (Except Trump is doing everything in his power to push along the misogyny angle).

    This time next year (August 2016) will be very interesting as compared to today.  I am not enough of a crystal ball gazer to say how but I do think things will be different when we have both tickets decided.


  • Given that the current state of things do not change in some huge way, Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton will be the next President of the United States of America.


  • Back in 2008 I supported Hillary, until Obama came to the front and I supported him and continue to this day to support him.

    I think Obama is the best thing that ever happened to the United States. I make that statement based on what I consider the state of our country in 2008 to have been, from a foreign policy and financial standpoint. And, when you throw in the Affordable Care Act my statement is even more correct.

    In 2008 the whole world had great hopes that Obama would pull its chestnuts out of the fire and Obama delivered. (That is, he delivered if you are not one of those folks who keeps their head in the Fox-News/GOP "Echo-Chamber").

    And that very echo-chamber's existence is a tribute to just how good Obama is.  I say that because there is zero content coming from the echo-chamber; only ugly-spew against Obama which proves that he is getting things right, otherwise you can bet your life they would be calling out real ideas rather than the junk they do spout.

    Back in 2008 things were a wreck, and now six and a half years later our situation is much, much better thanks in large part to the Obama administration (and no thanks at all to the other side).  I include in my assessment the fact that we are not fighting a war in Syria and we are not fighting a war against Iran.  Instead the Syrian situation will sort itself out without us losing our young people in a fight and the situation with Iran is better than it has been since their revolution.

    For sure Hillary is no Obama.  However, I do think she is smart enough not to send the country off the rails and back into the ditch that the Obama administration so carefully dug us out of and the rails they put us back on.  So for that reason and because no other serious Democrat is challenging her, I think she is the best candidate from both parties.

    Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are both very truthful about how things are and how things should be, but the Democratic establishment would never stand still for either of them to be the top of the ticket.  That and the fact that Senator Warren is not even running.

    Hillary sounds more middle-of-the-road than either Senator Sanders or Senator Warren for good reasons:  The election will not be decided by the Wing-Nuts in either the GOP or the Democratic Party but will be decided by more moderate voters.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Nice 36K Greenway Ride

I'm back in the US now and am tuning up after missing 3 weeks of swims and bikes.  So today I decided to do an easy greenway ride.

I left Allan's Landing and headed down Old Lead Mine Road to Prospector which will cut-the-corner over to Sawmill.  Down and up Sawmill to Longstreet.  Down Longstreet to the start of the greenway.  Down the greenway crossing under Lynn Road and North Hills Drive and around Shelly Lake.  Then on down Lead Mine Creek to where it joins Crabtree Creek.  Then up Crabtree Creek to near Crabtree Valley Mall where I took the greenway over to where it crosses Blue Ridge Road.  I actually actuated the solar powered 'pedestrian-crossing' blinkers and after a few cars went past one actually did stop and let me cross.  It was then on up House Creek Trail all the way to the pedestrian bridge that crosses I440 near Wade Avenue.  That was the official turnaround point.  On the way back I decided to throw in an extra 6K and ride all the way up Crabtree Creek to the end of the trail and back.  Then it was just retracing my route to the house.  I placed the route on MapMyRide.COM and took the screen shot below.

Here are some stats:

36.43 KM .... Total Distance
16.10 KPH ... Average Speed
57.00 KPH ... Maximum Speed (sawmill road)
02:15 HH:MM . Elapsed Time (on the bike)
107 ......... Average HR
135 ......... Maximum HR
1773 ........ Calories Burned
02:42 HH:MM . Elapsed Time (wearing HR monitor)

Friday, June 12, 2015

A 100K Bike Ride (On the Neuse River Trail)

First 100K Bike Ride
of 2015

Short Version:

On Wednesday of this week I left the house around eight am and arrived back around one pm having traveled about one hundred kilometers in about five hours.  Here are the specifics of the ride:

(From The Cycle Computer)
04:52:03 hh:mm:ss (Rolling Along Time)
97.69    km (61 miles)
53.00    kph maximum (33 mph)
20.00    kph average (12 mph)

(From The Wahoo Tickr-X)
05:55:35 hh:mm:ss (Total Elapsed Time)
114      bpm average heart rate
157      bpm maximum heart rate
4066     calories burned 

The Route:

I left Swan Neck Lane and traveled up Old Lead Mine to Forum Drive then over to Strickland Road to Falls of the Neuse.  Up Falls of the Neuse to Old Falls of the Neuse then down to the parking lot for the Neuse River Trail.  That leg of the ride was about 14km.

The next leg of the ride was down the Neuse River trail to mile post 26 which is just as you cross back over to the north side of the Neuse river after swinging away from the Neuse to avoid some southern Wake County landfills and the police firearms range.  So, milepost 26 (42K) was the turnaround point and it was back to Anderson Point Park.

At Anderson Point Park I took the Crabtree Creek Trail all the way up to where Lead Mine Creek joins it where I turned onto Ironwood Trail and biked  up to Shelley Lake.  I rode around the east side of the lake and turned onto Bent Creek Trail and followed it up Lead Mine Creek to Longstreet.

I rode up Longstreet to Sawmill Road and then took Sawmill road west toward Lead Mine Road.  I did a 'cut-the-corner' on Prospector Place which took me back to Old Lead Mine Road and then it was just a few hundred meters back to Swan Neck Lane.

Pictures And Graphics:

Here are some pictures and graphics from the ride.

You can count the hills by noting the spikes.
The graphic above is from my Wahoo Fitness Tickr-X heart rate monitor.  The drop about one third of the way is when I arrived at Anderson Point Park the first time and stopped for a break.

Arriving At Anderson Point Park (the first time)
I took a picture of myself when I arrived at Anderson Point Park (the first time) on the way to the turnaround point at mile 26.  Anderson Point Park is about mile 17 on the trail.  I finished my first water bottle and ate a piece of a banana and a piece of an apple.

This link "(YouTube.COM - Crossing The Neuse Near The Turn Around Point" is to a YouTube.COM video of my favorite bridge across the neuse river.

Flowers At Anderson Point Park
On the back from the turnaround point and having arrived in Anderson Point Park I took the above picture of some beautiful flowers.

A Panorama of Crabtree Creek Trail and Neuse River Trail
Here is where I left the Neuse River Trail having joined it at the Falls of the Neuse Dam and riding down to mile twenty six then back to mile 17.  I think of Crabtree Creek Trail as 'the-way-home' from here, only about 30km to go.

Preparing to go through the tunnel.
There is a tunnel for the bike path as it crosses under North Hills Drive while following Lead Mine Creek.  This tunnel for years had no lights.  I am glad to see they have been added.  The lights give the tunnel a whole new look and are greatly appreciated by cyclists.

The Tunnel

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Good News And Bad News

Good News and Bad News

All this: "An Interesting Observation About Conservatism In America" is 'spot-on' (Give it a read before proceeding).  This post came out of my reaction to the article and could have been given the title:  "An Explanation of the Conservative Train-Wreck".  And to be fair the below content is not reserved for just conservative thought, progressives can also fall prey to the same problem.

This following quote in particular has what I think are many key phrases:

"... The publication, as a publication, creates this nation-wide imagined community that cuts across denominational lines ..."

The keywords are 'publication', 'nationwide', 'community', 'cuts across'.

It is my thesis that human intelligence is tightly coupled to our ability to communicate with each other.  Out of this process comes the ability to exchange thoughts, to bounce them back and forth between individuals.  What results is something that defines our abilities as what we consider 'intelligent beings'.  

There is very good news about this and very bad news about this.

The very good news is that when done properly the exchange of mental models of reality by humans when mediated by something called "The Scientific Method" results in an almost unbelievable explosion of knowledge about ourselves, our immediate biosphere (our blue marble) and the cosmos in general.  This explosion has given rise to what we call "Modern Civilization".  Of course we have not actually created a Utopia and have many challenges ahead of us that were actually created by the same explosion of knowledge.

The very bad news is that when NOT done properly the exchange of mental models of reality by humans when NOT mediated by "The Scientific Method" results in fantastic, bogus, idiotic models of almost everything; including moral and philosophical codes of conduct that translate into the sickening frameworks that are held up as 'The Right Way To Go' by groups as diverse as terrorist and conservative political and religious leaders of all ilks.  Additionally we even see folks who are responsible for making our economy run falling into many of the same quicksand pits that our minds are capable of constructing.  

The emergence of "The Scientific Method" is a tribute to a basic built in behavior that our species evolved.  Our minds are designed by Natural Selection to make 'Snap Judgments on Poor Data' and our minds will always 'Resolve Paradox'.  And further "The Scientific Method" is not something that comes built in.  This method is contemplative, to use it takes time for reflection, testing, modeling and constant tweaking.  We are NOT designed to do this.  We are designed to make quick decisions and stick by those decisions.  One attribute of this is called "Confirmation Bias" which can even infect folks who are trying to follow "The Scientific Method" and most certainly folks who pay it no attention whatsoever.

We naturally form communities.  We exchange our mental models of reality with our communities.  When such an exchange of ideas is mediated by "The Scientific Method" things for the most part work just fine.  When such an exchange of ideas is mediated by some other 'authority' who has spent many years (centuries) thinking and reformulating, testing, discarding it can also work out.  When such an exchange is insular and NOT based on either of these two authoritative methods you get what I like to call "A Train Wreck".  Modern conservative thought about such items as: Religion, Moral Codes, Economic Policy, Multinational Policy, Global Warming are for the most part sterling examples of just such a "Train Wreck".

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

First Greenway Ride Of The Year

First Ride Of The Year
2015 MS150 Rider #334
Busts A 68km Bike Ride

In retrospect using my perfect 20/20 hindsight I probably should have not gone this far today, but ... I did it anyhow and it was the first ride of the year for me.

What with one thing and another, we moved and taking care of my sister and everything I just have not had time to go on bike rides.  I have kept up my exercises and swimming three days a week I have swum over 50 miles so far in 2015 and I attend a 'spin-class' every Tuesday and Thursday, for about a 50 minute workout.

One of the things we do in spin class is to simulate hill climbs and standing up on the pedals.  I can now report that this exercise in spin class does indeed transfer over to riding on the road.  

There is the one hill that I have to climb because the greenway stops winding beside the creek and you have to take to the streets.  It is very short but very steep and I am sure the 'Max-HR' below of 143 bpm was due to that hill.  I took the hill in a completely different manner today than I have in the past.  

I usually just go to the lowest possible gear and grind/creep up the hill.  This time I stood up on the pedals and cranked up the hill.  And at the top of the hill I thought, "Dang!  I better get back on the saddle!"  

I did not have the HR monitor tied directly to my iPod-Touch so I could not get 'instant' feedback but at the time I definitely felt that I hit my max.  Also on the other side of that hill is a steep short downhill and I am sure the 56.0 kph max speed was on that downhill.

I below among the pictures from this ride is one of the HR monitor data screen for today's ride.

Cycle Computer ..... Numbers
Time On The Bike ... 03:36:46 hh:mm:ss
Distance ........... 67.82 kilometers
Average Speed ...... 18.70 kilometers per hour
Maximum Speed ...... 56.00 kilometers per hour

Tickr X Cycling .... Numbers
Total Time ......... 04:34:26 hr:mm:ss - Getting Ready To Ride Also
Average Heart Rate . 116 beats per minute
Maximum Heart Rate . 143 beats per minute
Calories Burned .... 3,193

The route for today's ride is a new one, since we have moved I thought about how to go about making a nice loop from our house and I do believe I have it now (with a tweak).

I left Swan Neck Lane and took Old Lead Mine Road down to Lead Mine Road and turned south (left).  At the first traffic light I turned left on Sawmill Road and rode to the greenway (actually walking trail) entrance that is right beside Lead Mine Creek.  Here is where the tweak comes in:  Next time I will NOT get on the walking trail because on a number of occasions I had to dismount and carry my bike.  Next time I'll just crank up the hill and take Longstreet to the paved greenway entrance.

Once on the greenway I took it under Lynn Road, then through the tunnel under North Hills Drive and around the east side of Shelly Lake.

I took the greenway south from Shelly Lake along Lead Mine Creek down to where it joins with Crabtree Creek.  I then stayed on the greenway till I left it at Alleghany Street and then rode down Alleghany to Transylvania where I took a left then an almost immediate right on to Orange street.  

This street climbs straight up to the top of the hill where you ride along beside the Carolina Country Club golf course to Rutherford Drive which turns into Scotland St.  This is the monster downhill.  

At the bottom of the hill where Scotland Street crosses St Marys St/ Lassister Mill Rd and turns into White Oak I turned left onto Lassiter Mill and pedaled across Crabtree Creek and got back on the greenway and followed it all the way to the end.  

The end of the Crabtree Creek greenway is now a Anderson Point Park which is near where Crabtree Creek joins the Neuse River.  Anderson Point Park is a good rest stop (the distance was 28km).

Once I finished my banana and switched my water bottles I headed north along the Neuse River Trail toward Falls of the Neuse Dam.  

I've ridden the Neuse River Trail many times now but this is the first time I've had the opportunity to travel on the new part (the missing link) between Horseshoe Park / US401 and the WRAL Soccer Center.  That bit is a lot nicer than having to leave the trail, wind through a shopping center to Perry Creek Road then go through the Soccer Center to the very back and ride on slippery slidey gravel to get back on the trail.

I took the trail all the way to the Falls of the Neuse Dam.  I even walked my bike up to the top of the dam itself and took some pictures.  The road that runs along the dam goes on out to Falls of the Neuse Road and is much nicer than riding from the dam all the way up Falls of the Neuse Road.

Once on Falls of the Neuse I rode to Strickland Road and then on to Six Forks Road and Forum Drive and Old Lead Mine Road and back to Swan Neck Lane.

Here is a link to some pictures of this ride. And here is a 'Map-My-Ride' route map.