Weekend Required Reading

1. Running a two-hour marathon. Strong opening:

“Here’s a quick and convenient way of finding out whether you’re ready to run a two-hour marathon. Head to the track and run six laps (roughly 1.5 miles) at two-hour pace (4:34.6 per mile), then run one more lap as fast as you can. Have a nearby exercise physiologist fit you with a portable oxygen-measuring mask, to measure your energy consumption at that pace. Then crunch the data to see whether your metabolism is settling into a sustainable pattern, or whether it’s spiraling out of control toward a fiery explosion.”

2. A female high schooler ran a 2:31:49 marathon. Leaving my brother disgusted with her parents.

3. Florida man becomes first person with Down syndrome to finish Ironman triathlon. Incredibly impressive, especially at 21 years young.

“Inclusion for all of us with all of you.”

4. The heartbreaking reality — and staggering numbers — of NCAA teams cut during the pandemic. Damn invisible enemy. Meanwhile, this week I was very pleasantly surprised to see an Olympia High School senior sign to play Beach Volleyball at Stanford. Take that SoCal!

5. And because we can’t live on swimming, cycling, and running alone, Mark Bittman’s Master List of Interchangeable Ingredients.

Seeking A Role Model

Man alive, nearly all of my boyhood heroes are biting the dust. Especially baseball players from the late 60’s and early/mid 70’s. Guess that’s how the life cycle works.

But one is still very much alive and kickin’. A golfer with 18 major championships. Goes by the name, “The Golden Bear”. Yesterday, TGB penned a love letter to the President and urged everyone to vote for him. Out of respect to you, I am not linking to it. Of course that’s his prerogative, just like it’s my prerogative to boycott him and his commercial empire.

There were clues along the way. He had zero sympathy for Casey Martin.

Now I find myself rooting for Collin Morikawa to win 18 more major championships sometime before I bite the dust.

So there’s a void in my life. Absent a role model, I feel adrift.

Maybe you would like to apply for the vacancy. Please submit an application starting with who you’ve voted for—or if an international friend—who you would’ve voted for given the chance. Major championship titles will only be used to break ties.

The Inaugural ‘Gal Pal’ Award

She tries. But it makes no matter, the Gal Pal routinely botches sports lingo. In her honor I am creating a new award whose prestige I’m sure will only grow over time.

The ‘Gal Pal’ will be awarded annually to the person who makes the biggest mess of basic sports terminology. I will present the award myself to the recipient who will be put up in one of downtown Olympia’s nicest tents. All expenses paid.

The first recipient is Roger Whitney whose podcast I enjoy. Recently Rog was talking about the importance of trying new things in retirement. He went on say he wasn’t a very good golfer but he and his wife had started playing regularly. And while still not very good, “I’ve improved by about 10 points.”

No, no, no! I didn’t even have to get the Award Committee together before declaring RW the inaugural winner. He is on his way to Olympia as you read this.

For those scoring at home (baseball lingo), what Rog meant to say was something along the lines of, “I’ve shaved 10 strokes off my average score.”

For the love of Golf, always “fewer strokes” never “more points.” Go and sin no more.

And The Winner Is

In the (dis)United States, politics has become an intense, zero-sum competition. No one is ever changing their mind again. Neighbors signal their team affiliation with signage like TikTok’s Tony and Ezekiel.

We’ve become way too competitive for our own good, and yet, to differing degrees, we’re wired for competition. So what are we to do?

There are lots of different non-political ways to get our competition fix. We should turn our attention to them.

Professional soccer is alive and kicking. As is professional basketball and golf. Maybe we should argue about the Lakers and Clippers chances of winning it all. Or Milwaukee’s? Or be like the young dude on Harrison who when he saw Blanca and me ride up to him Tuesday morn, dug down and rode especially hard to make sure we knew he was faster. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. That’s the spirit.

Psychologists refer to it as displacement.

Or compete with those closest to you. Who does more of the household work or runs more of the errands or listens better? That always ends well. Or see if you can choose the fastest check-out line at the grocery store like me. Or be the driver who gets the most miles per gallon for your model of car like me. Or see who can save the most money in a month by not eating out and other self-imposed austerity measures. Or see who can collect the most masks. Or see who knows the most people at the farmer’s market.

If we just turn off the cable news and unplug from our devices, the possibilities are endless.

I’ll start. No more politics for me. For at least a few hours.

 

 

 

Pandemic Ponderings

  • I’m worried about one of the humble blog’s most faithful readers, MZ, who is the Seattle Mariners #1 fan. I hope she is doing okay without beisbol. Then again, as a Mariner fan, she’s proven to be extremely tough, so she’ll probably be fine.
  • Sigh. Tomorrow would be the men’s NCAA national championship basketball game between the surprise of the tournament, the UCLA Bruins, and Dayton.
  • If the Royal and Ancient really follows through on cancelling the The Open Championship, MZ and all of the humble blog’s loyalists should begin worrying about me. Why go on living?
  • The key to surviving our lockdown is going to bed with a clean kitchen. If I keep waking to a clean kitchen, I could do this for a very long time. Then again, I’m an introvert and I’ve been cutting my own hair for decades.
  • How much $ have I saved cutting my hair over the decades? Where is that $?
  • ESPN is considering televising a game of H-O-R-S-E. They are almost having as hard a time with this pandemic as the Trump administration.
  • After considerable thought, I’ve decided not to wear a mask and instead just pop the malaria pills I have leftover from my last trip to Africa.
  • To young scientists just getting going, epidemiology is sexy.
  • Pray for my soul. I will not be going to church on-line.

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Triumphs

A friend dislikes the President’s personal style, but supports his policies. I’m baffled by his ability to compartmentalize. Most people, like me, do or don’t give a politician the benefit of the doubt based upon their personal feelings for them.

That sure seemed to be the case among conservatives during the Obama years.

I strongly dislike the President’s personal attributes. In fact, he’s a composite of my least favorite attributes—a serial braggart; dishonest; incurious, sexist; racist; xenophobic; insecure; uncaring; coarse; and most of all, self-centered. If I walked up to the first tee of a golf course as a single, and the starter asked if I’d like to join the President’s threesome, I’d pass.

I also dislike the people he keeps company with and his privileging of money above everything else no matter the issue. Yesterday, he tweeted, “Just spoke to my friend MBS (Crown Prince) of Saudi Arabia. . . .” MBS, one of the few people on the planet whose megalomania rivals his own and the person who oversaw the grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The take-away is sickening—you can dismember the body of an American journalist if you buy enough military hardware.

Apart from material gain, I don’t know what he stands for.

And yet, the more critical I am of the President, the more my conservative friends are critical of me. For being divisive. For not giving him any credit for anything. For being predictable.

I’ll never conform to their way of thinking, but I never want to be predictable. Then again, most partisans, meaning all of us these days, are so predictable as to be boring. We pretty much know what each other is going to write and say, how each other is going to vote.

So in the spirit of fairness, a mental exercise. I’m going to give the President credit for some things. Maybe this exercise will inspire my conservative friends to do the same, in retrospect, in the context of the Obama years.

As this pandemic makes painfully clear, I believe the President’s intense isolationism is a grievous mistake; however, I applaud his reticence to use military power to solve international problems. He has done a very good job not starting any wars.

He also has done a good job getting other developed countries to pay a fairer share of their security needs. There’s no reason for us to float anyone anymore.

And, despite his nonsense about China paying the tariffs*, his administration has done a good job laying the groundwork to reduce the US-China trade deficit, which is unsustainable.

And, as his daily press conferences illustrate, he’s a master communicator. Just contrast him with Pence who will put you asleep faster than a million melatonin. Of course a lot of what he says is patently false, which makes for an extremely dangerous combination. His base cares more about how he communicates than whether he’s truthful or not. They like how he makes them feel better about themselves, and at the same time, aggrieved by secular elites and liberal media. But I digress. In short, I don’t like what he says, but I concede he combines very simple language, intonations, and idiosyncratic syntax extremely effectively.

That’s the best I can do. We now return to regular programming.

*economists are clear, US consumers pay them in increased prices

Weekend Assorted Links

1. Radical Survival Strategies for Struggling Colleges.

“Moody’s projects that the pace of closings will soon reach 15 per year.”

Sobering. How will my employer, Pacific Lutheran University fare? If it was a stock, I would not buy it because of the larger context, but I am cautiously optimistic about our future because our brand new president is as smart an entrepreneur as I’ve known. He’s quickly learned about the never ending peculiarities of academic culture and faculty-based governance. But the Warriors may not have much success this year even with Steve Kerr as coach.

2. Payne Stewart’s daughter writes him a letter twenty years after his tragic death.

“People say time heals all wounds, but I don’t believe that. Sure, as the years have gone by, I’ve learned how to manage my sadness in losing you. But the pain never really goes away. I think about you every day, miss you every day.”

3. It turns out there are (really) bad questions.

4. How to Travel Like a Local. Thorough.

5. Why Don’t Rich People Just Stop Working?

“Are the wealthy addicted to money, competition, or just feeling important? Yes.”

6. Song of the week. So effortless.