Category Archives: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Am I Too Old to Run Cross-Country?

On Saturday I joined the Eastside Runners Club to compete in the Sundodger XC Invitational at Lincoln Park.  The men’s open race was an 8K (about 5 miles) with a lot of local community college runners.  The whole field went out fast and I threw some elbows to maintain my space and position.  Going through the first mile in 5:30 felt good… better than it should have.

Somewhere around 2.5 miles I stepped on something, or took a misstep, and sprained my ankle.  When it happened, I screamed and stopped, and quickly made the executive decision to drop out of the race.  Those of you who’ve read my blog for a while now might know that this is a recurring theme for me.  I hate it.

The answer to my titular question is, of course, no.  I know many strong XC runners who are decades older than me.  But I think I have to  come to terms with some subtle lessons about what I can sustain as a runner at this point in my life.  Important lessons from this sprain include, but are not limited to:

  • Listen to my body – For over two weeks, I’ve been complaining about foot pain.  It didn’t hurt while running, just while flexing it in particular ways (imagine doing calf raises), so I procrastinated every time I thought to call a PT about it. I’m sure that this was a portent about my more catastrophic injury in the race. I should have taken time off and fixed what was wrong before doing a hard race, particularly one that involved running 5 miles on trails with a crowd of (real) athletes a decade my junior.
  • Eat and sleep right – I’m embarrassed to admit the number of nights I ate a peanut butter sandwhich for dinner last week, and I’ve been staying up late to satisfy an eerie obsession with work. The days leading up to the race I felt sluggish, sickish, and generally broken.  Garbage in, garbage out.
  • If I’m not running, don’t race – I’ve been looking forward to XC for so long, and running this race was pretty important to me.  So when I ran out of time for regular running in the last two-weeks, having trouble fitting in runs of even a couple miles, I did not reconsider my race schedule, and I should have.  That 2.5 mile run the night before the race was not enough to get me back in the game for a hard 5-miler.
  • Take a holistic approach to fitness – I’ve always valued a well-rounded approach to exercise…  in principle.  But when I get busy, I prioritize my activities and make cuts.  Maintenance activities like ankle-strengthening drills are the first things to go (haven’t done them for at least a year).  Stretching, weight lifting, form drills, strides – they’re all gone the moment I get busy.  Usually, the actual running is the part I hold onto the longest.  And when the busy time is over, I don’t add the other activities back in.  So I’m left with a 100% running regimen, which is fun, but not sustainable.  I need to hold myself to not running if I don’t have time for proper warm-up and stretching at the minimum.  Even if it means I run less.
These lessons apply to athletes of any age…  I think I’m just too old, or too busy, to get away with skirting around what’s good for me anymore.



Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Garbage In, Garbage Out, No Easy Days


What Do You Do With the Mad You Feel?

Been having a rough time recently, and heard an excerpt of Mr. Rodgers reading his song “What do you do with the mad you feel” before a U.S. Senate committee in 1969. It really hit home.

(the song/poem starts at 4:45)

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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Considering Blogging again

Trying out the Choco theme on WordPress.

If you still actually read this blog (via RSS or some other such monitoring system), toss me a comment or an IM to let me know. Knowing that people are watching might motivate me to publish some old drafts I have lying around and get the ball rolling again.


Posted by on March 6, 2011 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


The Miracle of Flight / Confidence Week

I’m such a nerd/internet addict I can’t resist pressing a WP post using my in-flight internet!

I’ll also take the opportunity to remind everyone that it’s Confidence Week. Take a moment to think about how today you can avoid being passive or aggressive (or both), and instead take steps to be assertive.


Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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The Big Finish

Apparently the Diesel Wi-Fi terms-of-service requires users to blog.

So here I am.

In the next six months, my three major activities are:

  1. TA a “drug delivery” class (provides current income).
  2. Finish and defend my thesis.
  3. Find a job (provides future income and intellectual fulfillment).

TAing isn’t so hard to fit in because it’s scheduled into the academic year.  I go to class twice a week.  Immediately after class, I review the notes for the class using a codified note-taking system.  Once a week, I hold office hours.  Three times this semester, I’ll have to grade about 90 exams.  These activities fit themselves into my schedule.

It can be harder to make time for dissertation work and job searching.  Essentially, these are both full-time jobs being fit into a single set of full-time man-hours.  Overscheduling seems to be the hot business strategy in this economic downturn, however, so I’m trying to view this over-commitment as my way of cutting back (“I had to let the guy who normally applies for my jobs go — we just couldn’t justify his salary to corporate in this climate.”)

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Posted by on September 8, 2009 in Alchemy, Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Your Beautiful Parts

Today Shakesville asks what part of your body is most beautiful/handsome?  It’s a bit awkward to think about, and that’s why I’m forcing myself to answer here.

I think I have to follow suit with Melissa and choose my eyes.  I like their blue (though sometimes I prefer to call them grey), and I have really long eye lashes, which I make wishes on whenever they fall onto my cheeks.

Anyone else care to choose a favorite part/feature of themselves?

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Posted by on January 29, 2009 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Confidence Week 3 – Emergence Day

Two years ago I started this blog with a post about Confidence Week, which falls during the week of Thanksgiving and reminds us to be confident in who we are and how we feel.  I haven’t had a chance to wear anything super ostentatious this week, but it has been an interesting week in terms of apologies.

Being confident doesn’t necessarily correlate to apologizing less.  Rather it’s about expressing regret and empathy for violating someone else’s comfort zone while simultaneously maintaining your own.  This is tricky to due genuinely, but in the end I think it makes the apology more sincere.

So this week, I’m trying to focus on addressing my own needs and the needs of others (where appropriate) simultaneously.

Thanks again to Jason for the original holiday suggestion.
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Posted by on November 26, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Hiatuses, Part 2

It seems like June is a bad month for blogging. I’ve been busy with conference travel, and an office move that brought me into this shiny white new building:

Weill Hall, Ithaca

(artist’s rendition).

Now that things are settling in, I’m hoping to resume my occasional posting sometime soon.

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Posted by on June 25, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Terror Alerts, Too

Things that Do Not Matter:

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Posted by on May 28, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Blogs, Too

Things that Matter:

  • People
  • Friends, especially if they are Family
  • Trying
  • Coffee
  • The People who you Run into after many years, for whom it seems like no Time has passed Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by on May 27, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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My Feminist Identity

Jessica Valenti opened her talk tonight by asking the feminists in the audience to raise their hands, and I froze.  I take the classes, I read the books, I try to monitor the research, and I obsess over the blogs.  I know what a feminist looks like.  I’m a feminist.

But I didn’t raise my hand. 

Initially I figured that her question had caught me off guard, and I just hadn’t reacted quickly enough.  That seemed like a proper excuse.  But I don’t think Jessica, the Executive Editor of, and author of Full Frontal Feminism, would let me get away with that.  I don’t think I should let myself get away with it. 

I kept my hand down because I was embarassed.  It’s the same reason that I’m careful not to talk about Feminist Studies courses with most people.   I get sick of hearing “Why are you taking that ?”, or of pretending to ignore the wisecracks about how I must be trying to get laid.  When I get that response, my stomach shrinks, my neck goes frigid, and I find myself backpedalling, and explaining why I find value in learning about giving everyone equal rights, opportunities, and control of their bodies.  I’ve conditioned myself into avoiding talking about a large part of my interests, just to avoid the haters and the stereotypes.

FUNK THAT.  I’m sitting at my computer, raising my hand right now.  And I’m not going to back down next time someone asks me if I’m a feminist.


Posted by on April 10, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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No Cussing Week

A couple weeks after I wrote a post about my lack of swearing, South Passadena became the first city to sponsor a no-cussing week (no causation implied there). The initiative, conceived by a local 14 y.o. boy, has temporarily derailed my plans to start swearing more. Interestingly, the photo accompanying the story is of someone flipping the reader off.

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Posted by on March 7, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Projection and the Will of the Electorate

“… voters are finally focused on who they think will be the best commander-in-chief…

… Now that senator McCain is clearly the nominee, democratic voters are taking their decision very seriously…”

– Hillary Clinton on Today, this morning

It’s a bit tiring to hear everyone (McCain, Clinton, Obama, the media, everyone) constantly explain why people voted for who they voted for. I believe many people have unpredictable reasons for voting the way they do, and to say that they voted for the candidate they did for a particular reason trivializes the complex set of issues underlying these elections. Furthermore, statements like this seem to imply that before, voters were not focused on who will be the best C.I.C., or taking their decision seriously. This isn’t directed in particular at Senator Clinton, rather I’m just bored of seeing this filter constantly applied to election results.

I know that candidates have to do this – it’s to their advantage to interpret their success as a portent of something larger, and then to project that interpretation onto our monitors and our brains.

But the media doesn’t have to do it (do they?). They don’t have to interpret every single voting block’s majority as a swing for a particular reason. When CNN tells me that voters chose experience over change yesterday in Texas and Ohio, I don’t want to believe them. It may be true that Clinton is correlated with experience, and Obama is correlated with change, but that doesn’t mean that votes for one or the other correlate the same way; and if they do correlate that way, there’s no way to deconvolute that from the affect of the media. Does this make sense?

Anyways, I’m often a big fan of controversy, so I’m not unhappy to see the nomination process carry on a bit longer.


Posted by on March 5, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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This Post May Contain Strong Language (But it Probably Does Not)

The conversation usually goes like this:

Friend: Wow. Did you hear the way so-and-so cursed me out back there? That was pretty bad.

Me: Yeah he sounded pissed.

Friend: Nobody’s ever spoken to me like that in my life, and I think I’m sort of sensitive to it since I don’t like to curse.

Me: I know what you mean – I don’t ever swear.

Friend: Yeah, I never swear either.

Me: No, I mean, I can count the number of swears I’ve said out loud in my entire life on one hand.

Friend: Yeah me… Wait what? Oh… What…? wow.

A post Dan put up about swearing has been on my mind for several months now. I was recently reminded of it when the topic of swearing on blogs came up here. I like learning about why swears are considered swears, because I don’t swear, but I don’t know why.


It feels awkward that I know this about myself, or that I have such an internal track record. I recognize that the words I have grown to count as swears are somewhat arbitrary (the ones I can think of start with f, a, s, h, b, and sometimes d). Avoiding these words can be hard; I remember dreading English classes where we read books out loud, because there was always a possibility that I would have to either break my streak or feign a coma. Somehow I manage to avoid typing these words explicitly (though copy/pasting them feels OK), but I admit that it feels strange when I type words like assist, as if I have to type them really quickly without pausing in the middle.

The silly part is that, like the children and teens we’re ostensibly trying to protect by censoring these words, I think swears all the time. Beyond that, I have no problem hearing them! They can often be best way to express yourself, and I sometimes find myself wishing I could use them (I can use them of course, but I’ve built up a mental hurdle about it). In the past few years I’ve resorted to using the cheat-words that often serve as swear replacements (e.g. “That’s freaking awesome”).

I’m not sure when I created this rule for myself. Obviously swearing was always discouraged at home and school. I do have one memory from my childhood of my younger brother telling my mother that I had said a swear (when I had not actually done so) and getting punished for it. The injustice of the situation was so infuriating, because not only had I not committed the crime in question — I had never sworn at all!

Occasionally I think I should just go into a room an swear my lungs out, just to get over the hurdle. I honestly don’t know why I haven’t done that.

[For completeness, most of the situations where I swore came at times when I was inadvertently (as in, without thinking) parroting something that someone near me said.]


Posted by on February 25, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out


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Visual Acuity

Last week I had an eye exam and got my new lens prescription filled. I decided to reuse my old frames to save a bit on the new glasses. The woman who sells the frames and lenses was pushy and irrational as usual. For example, consider this exchange where we discussed the anti-reflective coating for my lenses (the woman’s name is Pat):

Pat: Ok, so you can either get the anti-reflective coat put on my the manufacturer, or you can get ours.

Me: Oh ok. What’s the difference?

Pat: They are totally the same.

Me: I see. Is there a cost difference?

Pat: Oh, well ours is just $8 more.

Me: Well, since they’re the same, I guess I’ll go for the cheaper one from the manufacturer.

Pat: … but the warranty on ours is better.

Me: Huh? Howso?

Pat: Yeah. It’s just better.

Me: That’s alright, I’ll go with the one from the manufacturer.

Pat: ooook. If you say so.

This nonsensical behavior is typical of Pat. The whole procedure of building the new lenses and putting them into the frames takes about a week. When I got a call from Pat this morning, I was expecting to hear that they were ready.

Pat: Hi this is Pat from Dr. Markowitz’s office.

Me: Hey Pat.

Pat: So as we suspected, your frames broke when they tried to put the new lenses in.

Me: I didn’t suspect anything like that, but ok go on.

Pat: So I remember that you had a second pair of the same frames. Would you like to use those or purchase new frames?

Me: Oh… welll, can the price I paid for the new lenses still be applied to the new frames?

Pat: Oh sure no problem!

Me: hmm… And is it possible to get a refund?

Pat: Well, they already made the lenses, and when you were here we discussed that the frames could break, because they are three to four years old, after all.

Me: We discussed no such thing.

Pat: Yes we did, I remember it very clearly.

Me: No, we did not discuss this at all.

Pat: In fact, you signed a release form saying that you understood that the frames might break. It’s right here in your file.

Me: Excuse me? No, I did not sign any release form. Do you have a copy of this form? Did you give me a copy of this form?

Pat: Well I’m looking for it in your file right now.

Me: I did not sign any release form, so you won’t find a release form in my file. I’d like a refund now please.

Pat: We discussed that the frames might break.

Me: ummm… Well, why don’t you give me the phone number of the company that produces the lenses, so that I can call them and get a refund.

Pat: You’d have to do a refund through us. I’ll have to have Dr. Markowitz call you back.

Me: Yes, please do so. *click*

The only paper I signed in their office was the receipt of services. It is possible that their receipt was also a release form in disguise, because they had me sign it while my pupils were dilated and I could not read anything. However, I have a copy of that receipt, and it’s just an itemized bill, so unless they did something unscrupulous to capture my signature onto a hidden second form, then they have no release form, and I want a refund.

The worst part is that I understand that these things happen, and I don’t really blame them (it’s not as if I’m asking them to replace my destroyed frames). If Pat had called and just told me what the deal was, rather than trying to scare me into buying their stuff by lying about a release form and a conversation that never happened, I would have been much more inclined to just give in and buy new frames.

Dr. Markowitz called me back a few minutes later. He gave me the same spiel as Pat, except with much less pressure and much more respect. I told him that I had already decided I want a refund, and he said he’d see what he could do. I also left him a complaint about Pat, and he half apologized and half defended her. I guess that’s the most I can hope for.


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