Menlo Park 94025

May 30, 2010

Reading the papers, it’s easy to despair of the survival of integrity in this world.

And yet, every so often, my faith is rejuvenated.  Yesterday, for instance:  my starving grad student neighbors were dumpster diving to put dinner on the table, when they found a wallet containing $1200 in foreign currency.  Caring not how a semester’s worth of In ‘n Out burgers might revive their emaciated frames, or for that matter how large sums of cash are often linked to dealing in controlled substances, they tracked down the delinquent owner, and returned the money untouched.

Now that just warms the cockles of my heart.

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Unwelcome

May 27, 2010

This past Sunday, after a rushed but wonderful tour of the Maker Faire, I enjoyed an afternoon picnic in Golden Gate Park with a college buddy and his family, and some friends.  And their small children.  That last bit is important, because the sign nailed to the tree shading us read “No Adults Without Accompanying Children.”  Or, to put it more bluntly:  “The City of San Francisco Assumes All Single Men Are Pedophiles.”

That is a pretty sad reflection on the state of our society.

Kill Your Television

May 27, 2010

I just returned from a blind date.  Ok, not “just” – I got back home at a decently platonic hour.  She was, as I’d surmised from her okCupid profile, a Googler.  Proud of that bit of deduction.

She doesn’t cook, it turns out.  Why cook, when you can eat breakfast, lunch, AND dinner at work, every day?  Wow.  Can boyfriends get in on that plan?  I will say that she had great skin – daily oyster shooters must have a moisturizing quality.  And apparently Google has replaced M&Ms with cherries – on the occasion last month of their first ever employee 40th birthday, they’ve begun to take a look at food choices for longer-term health.

Despite the skin, it was not a match made in heaven.  I think it’s true what they’ve been telling me all these years:  “you’ll become set in your ways.”  I came home and updated my profile to specify a non-TV owner.  My four randomly assigned immediate neighbors are non-TV owning marathon runners.  Is it too much to ask the same from the love of my life?  Besides, with Law & Order coming to a close, there’d be nothing to watch on her TV anyway.

Not a melting pot

May 6, 2010

Yesterday I watched the exquisite The Portuguese Nun, showing at the UC Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archives as part of the SF International Film Festival.  To beat traffic, I got to campus early, and had more than an hour to hang out and reminisce on the south side of campus.

Walking around, I was struck by the proportion of Asian American students – noticeably higher than I remember from my undergrad years.  Then I realized that almost all the little groups of students sitting or walking around were racially homogeneous.  Three young Indian men.  Four East Asian men.  Three white women.  Three Indian women.  Two white guys.  Two more East Asians, then two more, and two more.   Six Koreans at the table next to us at dinner.  How much effort it must have been to get six Korean Americans all together with nary a single non-Korean!

The rare exceptions to the rule were mostly white guy-Asian woman couples – apparently that preference begins early.

I’m not sure what to make of it.

more American every day

January 24, 2010

Yesterday I learned that in the US, pineapples are not “tinned” – they are “canned.”  I feel more assimilated every day.

Unfortunately, canned pineapples have lost most of what’s healthy about them:  the compound bromelain.  On the bright side, frozen pineapples, such as those I use to sweeten my green smoothies, do retain their full complement of bromelain.

Come over, and I’ll make a green smoothie for you.  Pineapples, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, kiwi, mangos, chia, home-made-yogurt, a date, maybe,  and a whole lot of greens … mmm good (for you)!

Borderline day

January 12, 2010

No no no – it’s been a great day!  Progressed on the job front, ate good food over good conversation, saw friends, bought greens for my smoothie.  But I can’t recall when the weather last changed so often from sunny to cold and overcast and back.  Driving around town, my hand seemed to hover over the dashboard, switching between AC and heat every few minutes.

Such a labile temperament, I’m told, defines the “Borderline Personality Disorder.”  In human beings, that is, not the weather gods.

To learn more, I borrowed a book on BPD:  Stop Walking on Eggshells. Hope it includes some good stories.  I live for anecdotes.

January 11, 2010

I’m reading a book called What I Wish I Knew [sic] When I Was 20. Worse yet, I’m enjoying it – getting some good insights.

What is the point of grammar anyway?  Looking at my last post, and then this one, I realize I’m coming across as quite a fuddy duddy, like the nun who rapped you over the knuckles when you broke some rule of conduct.

Are there no standards any more?!  There, just broke one of my own standards – to avoid the verb “to be” in reference to a non-existent standard.  I suppose I should feel better.  Feel closer to the hoi polloi.

Programming, or mathematics, needs to be precise down to the last semi-colon or equal sign.  Well, unless you work for Microsoft.  I realize that natural language, and more generally, human interactions, are less precise.  And allow for more subtlety of expression.  But … is there no longer “right” and “wrong”?!  (My last writing instructor disliked my use of ellipses – said they were a lazy substitution for a thought that would better be expressed in words on the page.  Gotta be better about that.)

What’s in a name?

December 16, 2009

My chiropractor is a genius, or a miracle-worker.  His methods of diagnosis defy scientific explanation:  “lift [my] arm against pressure.  Now look up and left, and lift it again.”  Different result!  And that’s just a mild example – far from the most outrageous.

The guy can relieve severe back pain in a single visit – he’s done it for me, and for others I know.  It’s not just mumbo-jumbo – he understands something – more than the highly overpaid MDs I try to avoid seeing.

But you know why I have a hard time with the field of medicine we’re discussing?  Well, Dr. Moreno is a “chiropractor.”  So, does he practice “chiropraction”?  “Chiropathy”?  No!  They called it “chiropractic”!  ChiropractIC?!   That’s not a noun, that’s an adjective.  A discipline of medicine should be a noun!  Look it up, people!

I cringe every time I see that horrible word.  It’s worse than Jinky, or <censored>.  What a terrible shame.

Please, the next time you have a world-changing invention, give some thought to the branding.  Better yet, call me.

writing for myself

November 19, 2009

No more writing class.  The job search is heating up, and I have way too many interesting tasks on my to do list.  After a great first few sessions, the energy level in class dropped off – even the instructor seemed to lose interest in us. Fine, I’ll let him return to his poetry.

I prefer blogging, frankly – prefer an exploration of ideas that doesn’t need to devolve to the relentless self-flagellation of “memoir.”  And some day I’d like to write for The Onion, or Shouts and Murmurs, but I don’t believe that’s a style of writing Stanford would deign to teach.

In other good news, I’ve finally got around to starting my behavioral economics blog, and will link to it as soon as I have a respectable number of posts, as well as Google Analytics up and running.

Most of all, I think I like to write for myself.  To answer another criticism, yeah, I guess I am happy with “pretty.”

over the speed limit

November 8, 2009

Today I unexpectedly ran 12.5 miles, bringing my total for the week to almost 56, my highest ever.  10-milers are beginning to seem commonplace – now to run them just a bit faster.

The marathon is four weeks from today, and my goal is to finish in three hours and twenty minutes (3:20), to qualify to run in next year’s Boston Marathon.  I’ve been trying to figure out how that might happen.

A common rule of thumb is to predict marathon time by doubling one’s half marathon time and adding ten minutes.  I finished my latest (and only) half in 1:39:51 – call it 1:40.  So, (1:40 * 2) plus ten minutes equals 3:30.  Hmmm, did I do that right?  Yeah.

So that leaves me with an apparent deficit of ten minutes to close.  Let’s do some accounting.  Caveat:  this will not be double-entry bookkeeping.  We will be looking at one side of the ledger only.  And I’m fine with that.

A ten minute deficit, is that right?  Well, actually, we’re given 59 seconds slack, so my effective qualifying time is 3:20:59, or 3:21 for short.  Deficit down to 9 minutes.

The attentive reader will recall that I ran my half marathon with a very bad cold.   At 100%, I would have done better.  How much better?  Let’s say 3 minutes, or 1:37.  That’s partly a made up number, partly my original pre-race and pre-cold estimate, and it’s a bit slower than the finishing time of my friend Mark, who passed me at Mile 10.  Doubling the 3 minute savings here helps us by 6 minutes on the full marathon, leaving a deficit of just 3 minutes.

I’ll be running the marathon with a pace group, which will prevent me from making the classic going-out-too-fast mistake.  That’s worth at least 1 minute.  (Very possibly more.)  Deficit down to 2.

About that pace group:  the psychological benefit of a pace setter, especially for the last 10 miles, has got to be worth at least 1 minute.  (Possibly  more.)  Deficit down to 1 minute.

By race day, I’ll have had 9 additional post-half marathon training weeks, including 5 weeks of 50+ miles.  That’s worth 2 minutes.  (Probably more.)  Whoa – we’re looking at 3:19!

Alexander Technique lessons are beginning to sink in, and I can feel my posture improving by the week.  That will help stave off late race fatigue.  1 more minute.  3:18!

Last but not least, the flexibility and strength I’m gaining from my P90X and (soon) Hip Helpers workouts have got to be worth another minute.  3:17!

Looks like this race is going to be easier than I’d expected.

Ain’t math great?!