Notes from the YMCA

• I mysteriously lost 3 seconds/100 yds recently. Depressing. Couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally, this morning, I found them. Today, sports scientists the world over are dropping their planned research to debate whether it was because I rested yesterday or had leftover quiche for breakfast. The peer-reviewed articles should make for riveting reading.

• Today’s swim workout. 200 free. 2×100 free. 4×50 fly/free, back/free, breast/free, free/free. Kick 100. 5x. 1-2 naked, 3-5 with toys. 3,500 yards. Perfect start to the day.

• There was an Olympic gold medalist (1984, Women’s 8 rowing) in the lane next to me who is also a loyal reader of the Humble Blog.

• Sadly, Free Styler has been missing in action this week.

• There’s another dude who has been completely overlapping with me on the pool deck and in the locker room every Tu/Th morning for YEARS, by which I mean DECADES. Note that I do not know his name. We are engaged in an epic standoff of introversion, each refusing to introduce them self to the other. He has no idea what he’s up against. Sometime, probably 10-20 years from now, he will break. Trust me on this, victory is assured.

The Only Constant Is Change

Dig this beautiful essay on selfishness, selflessness, and love titled “Nobody Tells You How Long a Marriage Is” by Lauren Doyle Owens.

At the end, she writes:

“Nobody tells you how long marriage is. When you fall in love, when you have fun with somebody, when you enjoy the way they see the world, nobody ever says, “This person will change. And so you will be married to two, three, four, five or 10 people throughout the course of your life, as you live out your vows.” Nobody warns you.”

Tru ‘dat.

Same as when I married three decades ago, I have no interest in military history, plant nomenclature, or jazz; now though, I am interested in lots of new things like cooking, food, endurance athletics, North Korea, and Stoicism. When I married I was a pauper public school teacher who was oblivious to the stock market. Now I identify in part as an investor. When I married, I was a conventional Christian, today I am more open to and interested in other religious traditions and forms of spirituality. When I married, I used a lot of product in my (amazing) hair; now, not so much.

When I married I was agnostic about the natural world; today, my well-being depends upon it. When I married I was a son; now, I am not. When I married, I was Lauren’s husband, preferring the suburbs; now I’m Lauren, preferring anywhere else.

Life is fragile and mysterious, meaning best case scenario, the Good Wife and I are in the middle of our life together, meaning she’s been married to four or five Rons* with maybe another four or five to go. Here’s hoping she continues adjusting to my continuing evolution.

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*As a result of this recent Janos tweet, I’ve decided my Witness Protection name is going to be Rondo not LeRon. What, you don’t get to pick your WP name?!

Written while the Celts were losing their last game, “we are need rondos.  I am say all day all night for lots time  but is no rondos.  i  am frustrate.”

The “Interest Continuum”

Where are you on the “interest continuum”?

Think of the “interest continuum” as ranging from “1” meaning “perpetually distracted by different interests” to “10” meaning “so single-mindedly focused on a particular interest as to lose sight of everything else”.

As my preference for cross-training and the range of topics on the Humble Blog illustrate, I’m a 3 or 4, but wish I was more of a 7 or 8. Which is kinda too bad, because self-acceptance is key to a life well lived.

Somewhere around 8 or 9 on the continuum, a person reaches a point of diminishing returns, meaning their singleminded interest creates blindspots that negatively affect their relationships and quality of life.

When it comes to interests, I contend depth > breadth. Which makes me think, like a cluttered garage in April, maybe my pea-brain is need of spring cleaning. Maybe I need to “toss” some interests that don’t spark sufficient joy. Or maybe that’s too linear an approach. Maybe 7’s or 8’s just get so caught up in one or a few interests, that they don’t have the time or energy for additional ones.

Here’s what I’m left wondering. How to avoid distractions? How to limit one’s interests? How to get so caught up in an activity as to lose track of time? How to experience flow?

 

 

 

 

 

Janos is FULL TWITER KING

Ever find a t.v. show really funny and recommend it to someone only to find them question your sanity? Is at example Port Landia.

With that caveat, I have a way to infuse your life with a major dose of humor, especially if you like basketball and follow the NBA. Although Alison Byrnes, Janos’s twitter feed is so funny in some cases that’s not even required.

The second sentence of this post is not a typo, it’s me trying to write “Janos”. I stop not until I perfection it.

When I spent a month in China in the late 90’s, the very first thing I did whenever I checked into a hotel was break open the informational materials. They were so poorly translated, I’d sit on the side of my bed howling.

Janos is China hotel industry on steroids. Thanks to him or her, for the first time in a long time, I think I might be able to survive the Trump presidency.

The only problem with Janos is he’s a Celtic’s fan. Here’s a few recent favs:

I AM TELL YOU ON RONDOS. He is do 17 assist of point also many reband! The Very Smart is talk on his FULL leadership. I am tire Westbok. I am tire rocket beard. I AM PREFER RONDOS!

hi is janos . I am not do a funny on you. i am sad for you . Next couple week you are loose on playof . then lebrun going leave you go new team . nobody going make articles about you next year . You will be forgot team;, no hope. you are get grade F.

Son is ask me not do post on him ;, but he is get new job put window in truck take window out of truck. is long time no job so i am very proud . Trouble now he is want to learn to do boxing . i am not think he is need take punch in face and head . Girl is not like the ugly .

Tatum is one day put number in roof . I am do OFFICIAL PREDICT on this.

Thank you Full Twiter King for lightening ups thing.

It’s So, So Sad, That The Top 20% of Americans Pay 87% of Taxes

Tax day is almost upon us in the (dis)United States of America. What better time to press pause and reflect on wealthy Republicans’ rhetoric about how unfair the tax system is.

Wealthy Republicans routinely lament that The Left “plays the victim” time and time again, but that doesn’t stop them from complaining endlessly about how unfair it is that they have to pay such a large percentage of the country’s taxes. When I listen to them complain about the unfairness of it all, they kinda, sort of, almost sound like victims.

I might have some empathy for them if they weren’t getting wealthier over time, but they are, and that point is lost on passive readers of recent tax headlines. It’s time for at least a little critical thinking by digging deeper into the much publicized 20%-87% refrain.

Specifically, key details from a recent Wall Street Journal article deserve closer scrutiny.

Drawing on research conducted by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, they report:

“For 2018, households in the top 20% will have income of about $150,000 or more and 52% of total income, about the same as in 2017. But they will pay about 87% of income taxes, up from about 84% last year.”

There’s two very different ways to read this. The wealthy Republican way is to focus exclusively on the second sentence. “Hey, now we’re paying even 3% more of the total, whah, whah, whah.” The other way is to ask, “What effect did that 3% bump have on your total income?” The details in the article show that in 2017 the top 20% earned 52.1% of the country’s total income, in 2018 it is projected to be 52.2%. As they used to say on the tough streets of Cypress, CA, no harm, no foul.

Two more critical sentences for our wealthy Republican friends to try to spin:

“To be sure, this analysis doesn’t include the flow-through effects of corporate-tax cuts, which benefit higher earners more than lower earners, or the doubling of the estate-tax exemption to about $11.2 million per person. Neither levy is part of the individual income tax.”

Those ultra-wealthy tax advantages mean the total wealth of the top 20% (including stocks, real estate, and other assets) continues to increase relative to the remaining 80% at an even faster clip than income.

Therefore, all of these things are true:

• the wealthy pay a lot in taxes

• in 2018, the wealthy will pay a slightly larger share of total taxes

• the income of the top 20% tax-payers; and especially their total wealth, continues to increase relative to the bottom 80%

Wealthy Republicans are determined to distract the masses from the fact that their share of the economic pie continues to increase. One tried and true way to do that is control the message by repeating over and over that the tax system is inherently unfair.

Also, ever notice how they keep threatening to stop working as hard given their unfair tax burden, and yet, somehow, their proportion of total income and wealth continues upwards?

Here’s another sentence our wealthy Republicans friends will wrap themselves in like a warm, cuddly blanket.

“Roughly one million households in the top 1% will pay for 43% of income tax, up from 38% in 2017. These filers earn above about $730,000.”

The above logic applies to this factoid in the exact same manner.

In summary, wealthy Republicans only want one question asked, “What share of the income tax do the wealthy pay?” They work tirelessly to avoid anyone asking “How are the wealthy doing vis a vis everyone else?”

Because I’ve raised it, I will now be entering the Witness Protection program. Hoping to land in a warmer, sunnier locale. Depending on how Cleveland does in the playoffs, I will be changing my name to LeRon.

Postscript: WSJ commenters are scary conservative. The linked article has 815 comments attached to it. I would rather serve a ten year sentence in a Turkish prison than have to read any of them.

 

 

 

Friday Assorted Links

1. This Man Expects to Run a 2:50 in the Boston Marathon on Monday. His passion and commitment are inspiring, but it’s also kind of sad that he can’t imagine what else he might do in life post athletics.

2. Roubaix’s showers a dying part of cycling lore. I’m a privileged, aging, soft lap dog for gentrification; sometimes though, we need downmarket grittiness for contrast if nothing else.

“It’s not the nicest of place to take a shower, to be honest. It’s freezing cold and not much privacy. That’s the beauty of it. It was so grim in there that it was a way to finish off a grim race. Why would you have a nice, comfy seat in a cubicle to have a shower after 260km of hell? It was a race from hell, so they were the showers from hell.”

3. What I’m reading.

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4. What I just watched. Among other reasons to commit the 55 minutes, the incredible vividness of the Charlottesville footage.

Trump’s Takeover.

I Don’t Like People

Almost all of my interactions with differently abled people occur at the YMCA. Tuesday morning, while showering, shaving, and getting dressed for work, I surreptitiously listened  to a dude rapping non-stop. Clearly on the autism spectrum, I enjoyed how he rhymed away oblivious to those around him.

Same thing this morning. From the showers I heard, “There’s money all around you, one million right there in the air. . . I am the source and a force” and something about “breaking legs”. Then he suddenly appeared at the blow dryer.

Ron: That’s really good stuff. Is it other people’s or your own?

Free Styler somewhat taken aback: What, my free-styling?

Ron: Yeah. Is it your own stuff?

Free Styler: Yeah, it’s all mine.

Ron: It’s really good.

Free Styler: Thanks.

Ron: Do you perform?

Free Styler: Yeah, all the time.

Ron: Where?

Free Styler: At home. In my studio. I don’t like people. I hate performing for people.

Ron: Cool. It’s really good stuff.

I’m not bullshitting, the guy is talented, but few will ever know that.

Given the (understandable) tendency of artists to market their stuff to the hilt, I dig the image of my new acquaintance sitting in his home studio throwing down original rhymes for hours on end. I’d love to eavesdrop on a session, but know an invitation will not be forthcoming. And that’s okay. Knowing his art enriches his life is consolation enough.