• 1/2/2018 Running with Dogs

    While on a run, I thought of Candace Burt's recent postabout running with her dogs. Current research suggests that dogs were domesticated from wolves multiple times in multiple places as humans spread across the Earth. This suggests that the mutual benefits were strong. It is easy to see how homo sapiens or even his predecessors derived advantage from this partnership. Proto dogs brought increased visual, aural, and olfactory acuity to the relationship. Wolves and humans are nearly unique in their ability to trot and run across vast distances to hunt or, in the case of humans, gather. Some paleoarcheologists believe that running may have been humans' killer advantage in competition for scarce food. But, as I run and think of dogs as running companions, have to wonder if the partnership between humans and dogs might have been the actual advantage that propelled humans to the position of apex predator. Dogs extend human hunting senses far beyond our natural limitations. It is easy to envision how this was a strong selective mechanism on both species; we both ate well thanks to the partnership. When the night came, humans must succumb to sleep in a world of night time predators. Any dog owner knows what good sentinels his partners can be. Likewise, with our relative lack of need to sleep, proto dogs may have gained increased protection by remaining near human encampments.


    As Canis Lupus slowly became Canis lupus became Canis lupus familiaris, it became the only animal that could actually read human facial expressions, as research now suggests. This would be valuable feedback to man's best friend as not all humans and not all human emotions are beneficial to dogs. There is some preliminary research suggesting that dogs can even communicate back to humans with facial expressions of their own, increasing the richness of the inter-species communication. One can view the human-dog relationship, at least in hunter-gatherer societies, as a symbiotic one.


    In light of this, we can understand the human love for dogs and their mindless, instinctive need for us, no matter how we often treat them. We can also think of those who abuse them as something proto-human, sub-human.

  • 10/18/2018 Ego and Will

    When I lift, my mind sets itself against the gray weight in a Sisyphean contest. With each repetition, my Will dominates the weight as I lift it through multiple repetitions and sets. I am not the weight; I control it. Yet, I grow weaker with each lift. The effort is ultimately futile. Each lift is pyrrhic. Gravity and steel ultimately crush Will and flesh. I arrive at the point where another repetition is impossible. My flesh is crushed, but not my Will. I am not the weight. I am the Will that demands that I will return to that lift, stronger than the last time. I am not gravity and weight; I am flesh and Will.

    The deadlift is brutally simple in concept. It is a matter of squatting down, gripping a heavy weight, and standing with it. In execution, the deadlift requires fitness, skill, and knowledge to derive maximum benefit from it while minimizing the risk for injury. But nothing tests and grows brute strength like the deadlift. Feet, calfs, quads, glutes, hamstrings, abs, spinal erectors, deltoids, lats, traps, forearm, hands.....and lungs...and mind are all recruited for maximal effort to lift the weight. Nothing tests elan vital like the deadlift.

    “Steel is not strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?”

    When I run, I float across the earth a homeless interloper. Tiny in the landscape, I become part of the landscape. The wind does not blow against me, it blows through me, it blows with me. I become part of the wind all the while it buffets. My mind ceases to be separate. There is no Will in the endless repetition of steps forward. Mind and Will and body cease to exist separately from Nature. I blend with it. I cease to exist as I float across the landscape, a homeless interloper.


  • 11/16/2018 Facebook

    I've said it before. I don't like Facebook....on academic grounds (you can't use a search mechanism to cite what you've said before), on political grounds (it was used to throw an election), on cognitive grounds (it degrades discourse to aphoristic-sized texts that require no thought to produce), on didactic grounds (degraded discourse leads to degraded thinking...which makes you stupid), and on social grounds (it give too big a bullhorn to stupid people). To this, I add another: It is another soulless corporation which will get in bed with the devil to protects profits: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/15/technology/facebook-definers-opposition-research.html

  • 12/13/2018 Setbacks

    Jack Daniels calls time off from running due to injury a "setback". He identifies their cause as an error in judgement in training. Seeing the positive side of setbacks, he notes that they have a positive effect on the runner's attitude. While a runner often become depressed while experiencing the setback, he/she usually returns to running with heightened motivation. This enthusiasm can lead the runner to become injured again by returning to previous running mileage and intensity.

    My setback was the first in three years, an unusual healthy period of time for a recreational runner. I attribute this to a holistic approach to exercise. In my previous setback, I discovered the split squat. This movement provides a strong stimulus to peripheral muscles in the leg and along the kinetic chain to provide greater stability while running. I ran without issue until my experimentation with zero-drop and minimal shoes. However, I do not think that running in shoes made with this design philosophy caused my current setback. Rather, the particular model I chose is extremely light and, I believe, unstable for my needs.

    As with previous setbacks, the extra time and energy I have from not running gives me opportunity to increase my strength training. My knowledge of this form of exercise was mostly gained in the 1980's. I have learned a lot from re-focusing on strength in the era of the Internet and YouTube. My technique in the dead lift has improved dramatically. I learned about the split squat. I have also become convinced of the advantages of combining strength and cardiovascular training to create a more holistic approach to training for health.

    Honestly, the setback experience has not been completely positive. I've manage to put on roughly five pounds over the many months. This has a strongly negative impact on my self-image and sense of well-being.

    When thinking about the conflicting emotional currents that I've experienced in this Setback of 2018, one moment stands out. An older non-runner remarked at one point during my long down time: "Well, you are getting older...", expressed with emphasis on the verb. Yet, I have watched my non-running peers, often while predicting my eminent demise from running by injury, get knee and hip replacements, pacemakers, or succumb to the universal expanding waist line. I've found the remark to be somewhat taunting and exceptionally motivating. My non-runner friend completely misses the point of all the physical activity. Getting older mandates the activity, it does not provide an excuse to quit it. In our society, the remark becomes an invitation and a challenge: "Give up what you're doing and come get old like us. It's easier. Come be mediocre with us." I train because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

     I have said it before: what we associate with getting older is nothing but the accumulated effects of lives spent poisoning ourselves with poor nutrition and completely inadequate amounts of exercise. Miraculously, these effects are reversible, but are best avoided altogether.

  • 12/16/2018 Food, Obesity, Life

    A set of links to follow up.....stream of consciousness thoughts....

    New York Times article suggesting that bariatric surgery is the only truly successful way to lose obesity. She contradicts herself when, after noting that the obesity rate in America has gone from 15% to nearly 40% since 1976, she notes studies suggesting that obesity is strongly inherited. Among other things, it cites food cravings as a reason people who lose weight put it back on.



    Yet, with bariatric surgery, patients begin slowly putting on the weight again. Given the relative novelty of the procedures and their rare use, definitive data does not yet exist. But it appears that weight begins to return after as little as two years. By year 5, they have regained 44% of initial weight loss.


    Likewise with food cravings, there is evidence that they are modifiable.


    Anecdotally speaking, I remember clearly in my youth that the smell or sight of a hot hamburger or warm Cinnabon used exert a huge attraction. In 1997, I returned to vegetarianism and also gave up all foods that had added sugar for taste. By 2007, I found the smell of cooking beef to be revolting and no sweets had any effect on me at all. Interestingly, when I subsequently started eating limited amounts of ethically raised meat, the appeal smell of cooking flesh returned almost immediately. Yet, no cake, cookie, or candy has any effect on me.

    We wonder what is the solution to the obesity epidemic and focus on the high the failure rate, but we rarely those who are successful. The National Weight Control Registry, http://www.nwcr.ws/Research/default.htm, tracks individuals who have lost 30 or more pounds and kept them off at least 1 year.  Of these successful individuals, 78% eat breakfast every day, 75% weigh themselves at least once a week, 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week,90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day. I suggest we study those who are successful to see what they are doing right.

     As for diet, once again anecdotally, I see it almost every day. In the grocery stores, observe the carts of the obese and those of people who are not. Likewise, my work place has a cafeteria with several venues for food. There is a noticeable difference between people at the grill, which only offers fried food and grilled red meat, and at the Subway or salad bar. Maybe the failure rate of dieting is so high because the advisors are wrong. I have noticed how addictive foods can be: there is no moderation in candies, sweetened baked goods, and sugary beverages. It is all addictive poison. This appears to apply to fatty foods also. Nothing fried is ever in moderation. At one time, I measured 26% body fat, obese for men. I have kept it off since 2005, in part, with the conviction that sugar is the enemy, frying renders everything poisonous, and all red meat demands exceptional respect.

    Maybe the solution to the obesity epidemic is so far out of the conception of our advertising-shaped culture that we can no longer envision it. The "you deserve a break today" world paradigm is hedonism and materialism. It makes us obese in mind and body. Marcus Aurelius understood this when he listed the advice from people for which he was grateful: "Not to waste time on nonsense. Not to be taken in by conjurors and hoodoo artists [advertisers, motivational speakers] with their talk about incantations and exorcisms [anything that can be sold]...Not to be obsessed with quail-fighting [football] or other crazes like that. To hear unwelcome truths....To write dialogs as a student [study and write upon those studies]. To choose the Greek lifestyle--the camp-bed and the cloak." This last item is pivotal: simplicity and rigor in life, studies, and exercise.


  • 5/23/2018 Karma

    "The law of karma is a special instance of the law of cause and effect, according to which all our actions of body, speech, and mind are causes and all our experiences are their effects."

    Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (1)

    This is the most satisfying definition of Karma that I have come across.

     I came to the notion of through Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. Dostoyevesky's intent is to demonstrate how



    (1) 1931-, Kelsang Gyatso, Geshe, (1995). Joyful path of good fortune : the complete guide to the Buddhist path to enlightenment

  • 6/8/2017 I Don't Like Facebook

    Internet social media has been a series of steps shortening the creation process to post thoughts online. A website is an n-dimensional model of a set of thoughts or abstract concepts. Each page is a static whole and a part of


    I don't like Facebook. You get a brief thought, which you can share with a select audience with minimal effort. You can easily attached some underscoring media, such as a photograph or a brief video. You come away with a false sense that you have communicated something to an audience that is actually listening. You gain a feeling of accomplishment, of authorship. Then your communication becomes part of an unsearchable stream of other trivial thoughts that follow in time sequence into near oblivion. Or worse, as a demagogue, you conjure up some half truth or lie, create some slick media with it, and publish it to a focused group of followers who take your post as truth because it is on the Internet, despite the complete lack of any standard of proof, and contribute to the increasing polarization and shallowness of American politics.

    But Facebook is just part of the trend. Twitter has reduced communication to 140 characters. We have a president who fits the times. He struggles to be coherent in 140 characters. There can be no complete thoughts in Twitter, only impressions and memes. It is the deconstruction of thought.

  • 6/8/2018 Colorado Dreams

    Facing the Collegiate Range, we came across this diner. Amazingly, the interior is done in a Caribbean style. It's just a burger and breakfast but it all tasted great in that high altitude mountain air.





    Mesa east of Durango, facing north. It's just outside Pagosa Springs.

    20170814 183852


    The Gunnison etched a vast, deep canyon into the Mesa over millions of years. It is called the Black Canyon because, at best, sunlight reaches its bottom for only 32 minutes a day. The local Native Americans avoided it out of superstition.




    The Collegiate Range, the second range just west of Colorado's Front Range. While the latter contains Pike's Peak and is home to four 14'ers, the Collegiate Peaks rises off the valley between them with a line of 9 14'ers, another six 13'ers, and is home to the Continental Divide. It is an incredible sight of one massif after another, a wall of massive peaks. Coming upon them going east after Monarch Pass takes the breath away.


  • 8/19/2018 Will in Life

    "The essential thing is action. Action has three stages: the decision born of thought, the order or preparation for execution, and the execution itself All three stages are governed by the will. The will is rooted in character, and for the man of action character is of more critical importance than intellect. Intellect without will is worthless, will without intellect is dangerous."
    —Hans von Seeckt

  • 8/31/2017 Social Media: I don't like Facebook

    On Twitter, people think in phrases. On Facebook, people think in full sentences. Users can rise to the level of an essay on a blog. A website challenges its owner to create an organic whole. Twitter and Facebook are fundamentally democratic and populist. There is no entrance criteria, no need to construct cohesive thought, not enough content to contain quality. The writer can just blurt out any half-baked impulse that comes to mind. Witness POTUS.