Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve at the Jogger Household

The Little Joggers will try to stay up until midnight. The girls will make it. I was under the impression that the medium Little Jogger hasn't made it, yet, but the kids assure me that he made it last year. The littlest Little Jogger doesn't have much of a chance, but I don't think that he cares that much.

This year, we have a non-standard form of New Year's Eve entertainment. The Packers are playing the Bears on Sunday Night Football. The game doesn't mean anything to the standings. The Bears are in the playoffs and the Packers are out, win or lose. But it's Packers/Bears, so it's important. The oldest and newest Little Jogger has been teasing me this year by rooting for the Bears, which is smart in the short run, since they are having abetter season, but not so smart in the long run, since she'll be left out of my will.

No big excitement this year. We've never been much for parties, and when you have young kids, there aren't a lot of places to go. We'll just quietly watch the new year come in.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Day 257 -- Jogger's Progress

Time8 days, 8 hrs, 54 min

I'm doing Jogger's Progress today, even though it's not the last day of the month, because I'm definitely taking tomorrow off. After 7 miles yesterday, and 9 today, I need a break. I meant to do more today, a half marathon, but after 9 miles, I was through. One thing that I've learned this last year, as I've pushed my time and distance, is to know my limits.

I made my goal of matching my mileage for November, in one fewer day. For the year, I have 1374.5 miles, which is over 52 marathons. So, see, I can run a marathon, if you give me long enough. Another way I like to think of the year is that I proved that I can run from New York to western Missouri in less than 8.5 days, as long as I don't have to stop to rest.

What's in store for next year? Well, it's easy to set a couple of goals: I'd like to run at least 257 days and at least 1375 miles. I'd also like to go the whole year without ever taking more than two days off in a row. I took as many as four this last year, once in January and once in March. Of course. I plan to run my first marathon, in the Quad Cities in September. And I'd like to hit my goal weight. If I can do all that, it will be a great year.

Actually, I think it will be a great year, even if I don't make all my goals.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Day 256 -- Pattonsburg

The town of Pattonsburg, Missouri, experienced terrible flooding in 1993, so bad that they actually moved the whole town three miles, to higher ground. They weren't able to move the school at that time, because insurance didn't cover it, but three years later, there was a fire. Above, you see me in front of the burned out school building.

Having the opportunity to start from scratch, the people of Pattonsburg did it up right. Here you see their "Monolithic Dome" school. Is that a cool looking building, or what? And, as you see below, it's just as cool inside. This is the kindergarten room. The various domes hold the different grade levels, so the kinders don't have to share a hallway with the high schoolers.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Day 255 -- Exit 84

At, we find Eric Stuve, a young man with an unusual hobby. He is recording roads in Oklahoma, and roads extending out of Oklahoma. It's not clear to me entirely why he's doing this, but he's been at it for four years, and has extended his reach to 41 states. You really have to read his "About" page to get an idea of how this project grew.

Anyway, it works out for me, because I was having trouble finding any photos of this area to post. OK, so this photo is northbound, and I'm southbound. It's not as bad as some of the wild things that I've done.

I went three miles today, in the new white shoes. They really are noticeably lighter than my other pairs of shoes. I doubt it makes me any faster, overall.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Day 254 -- New Shoes

I got new running shoes for Christmas! Both pairs are Reeboks, which is basically the only brand that I wear. This morning, I wore the super cool black pair, above. Tomorrow, I'm wearing the super light white pair, below. I may still get some miles out of my old shoes. I've been keeping track, and they have 300 miles on them. Most places say shoes should be good for 400-500 miles, but I'm pretty hard on my shoes, because all of my miles are on concrete, and because I'm still not a lightweight. Anyway, the black pair is really comfortable. I often get some chafing from new shoes, until I get them broken in, but I didn't notice any this morning.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Day 253 -- Bethany, Missouri

Bethany, Missouri, is "Tomorrow's Town Today," according to their web site. I'm not sure what that means, but there it is. I'm standing in front of the Edna Cuddy Memorial House and Gardens, which was built in 1882. So apparently Tommorrow's Town was built yesterday. Actually, the day before yesterday.

I ran three miles today in the cold. Then we jumped in the van and drove down to Grandma Jogger's house. It's just me and the Little Joggers. Mrs. J has to work this week. Frankly, I think that she's looking forward to a few days away from the Little Joggers.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas.....

...from all the Little Joggers! (And from me, too!)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Day 252 -- Ridgeway, Missouri

Here's a photo of me in front of Ridgeway Elementary, which seems like a nice school. There's one tiny little problem. It isn't in Ridgeway, Missouri, which is about where I am in my virtual journey. It's in Columbia, 175 miles away. It's named after John C. Ridgeway who was the first soldier from Boone county who lost his life in World War I. Oh, well, yesterday I was even further off track. Someday, perhaps, I'll get a photo from this area of Missouri.

I ran nine miles today, which was a good workout in the sub-freezing temperature. We'll see whether or not I get out on Christmas day.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Friends Call Me "Duke"

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Duke Jogger the Flavoursome of Tempting St Mary
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Hat tip to Addy N.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Day 251 -- Brooklyn

No, not that Brooklyn. But it's hard to find images of Brooklyn, Missouri, so I stole this image of the Brooklyn Bridge from Anders Brownworth. Thanks, Anders.

I ran four miles today. My legs were pretty dead, even after yesterday's light workout, so I'm going to take tomorrow off. I've also decided now that the term is over, I'm going to start controlling my diet again. I've let my weight creep up very slightly, and I don't feel good about it.

I gave my last exam today. That's right, we have exams on December 22. Last year, I had an exam at 1:00 on December 23, so it could be worse. I've got the exam half graded already. I'm hoping to have it done tomorrow, and to submit my grades by Sunday.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Day 250 -- Eagleville, Missouri

In some of these little towns, I've had trouble finding any interesting photos. No such problem in Eagleville, Missouri, thanks to Somebody has gone to a lot of trouble with this web site. OK, it's a little tacky in places. (Click around a little. On some pages, patriotic music starts playing. And there's no way to stop it.) But I had my choice of quality photos. Of course, I went for the funnel cakes.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Final Grades

The final exams are graded in Calc II, and the scores totalled. The scores on the finals were pretty bad. The mean and the median were both 11% lower than the mean and the median on the previous exams. Ouch! There are a couple of obvious contributing factors. Calc II tends to be a hodge-podge course. It doesn't tie together as well as some other math courses. So it's easy for the students to forget things from early in the semester. The final also had a tendency to combine two or three different ideas in one question, so if I student had problems with even one of them, they did poorly on that question. Next semester, I'll have to anticipate that better, and give them more questions like that during the semester. I also think that I graded the final pretty harshly. I think I tend to feel more free to be harsh on the final, knowing that I'm not going to have to defend my scores to the students. Which is totally unfair to the students, of course.

So, anyway, I decided to adjust the scores on the final exam. Basically, I simply added about 11% to everyone's grade, to bring the scores into line with their previous exam. I think that that's reasonable. There didn't seem to me to be any evidence that the class as a whole really was worse at this material than they had been all along.

Of course, I kept track, and the bonus didn't change that many grades. It helps that my university has a five point grading scale: A, B, C, D, and F. No plusses, no minusses, no half-step grades. That means that each grade is pretty damn broad. This can be a problem when you are trying to motivate people for the final. I had a student in last week to check what he could potentially get in the class. He was sitting at 85%, so basically to get a B, he needed to score between 63% and 114% on the final. Not a lot of reason for him to break his neck trying to do his best on the final. If I had a B+ or an A- to dangle in front of him, it might help.

The one group that was strongly affected by the bonus was the A's. Going into the final, I had three people who had A's, and all of them dropped to a B using the straight final score. All of them bounced back up to an A when I gave the final bonus. And that seems reasonable. They did relatively badly on a straight scale on the final, but they were still the best students in the class.

One other student who was affected was a student who just went into free fall at the end of the semester. He had started as a borderline A/B student, then slipped to a solid B. Then he did really poorly (a D, I think) on the fourth exam, and simply bombed the final. He had several questions that he just left blank. With the original final score, he dropped to a C, but with the bonus, he held his B. I feel a little bad about that. When you bomb the final that badly, it should affect your grade. On the other hand, I know that he's a bright guy and a good student. It's likely that he had some sort of personal issue that distracted him for the last month or so. Anyway, I'm going to go with the B, because it stays consistent with the way I'm grading everyone else.

None of this is quite decided, yet. I always like to leave my final grades for at least 24 hours before committing to them. So I haven't posted them, and I haven't turned them in to the registrar. I'll look at them again tomorrow, and see if that's what I want to do. I'll want to check the highest B's and the highest C's and the highest D's, to make sure that they shouldn't be bumped up.

And everyone thinks that math is such a subjective area!

technorati tag:

Day 249 -- Welcome to Missouri

I crossed over into Missouri today. Mrs. Jogger said that it seems like I haven't been in Iowa for that long, but it was the end of October when I was in Burlington, so it's been almost two months. Missouri seems nice, so far.

I ran 5.3 miles today, indoors, at a moderate pace. A moderate pace means different things indoors and outdoors. Yesterday, I ran a little over six miles in 56 minutes, just slightly longer than a 9 minute mile pace, and it felt pretty good. Today, I didn't feel like I was working much harder, but I ran my 5.3 in 43 minutes, a little over an 8 minute mile pace. Of course, indoors, there are no hills, no wind, and no bulky clothing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Day 248 -- Lamoni, Iowa

According to this web site, "Lamoni Iowa is a quaint community with a population of approximately 2,500." It's home to Graceland University, although I would have guessed that was in Nashville. It should be my last stop in Iowa.

I reached a new low this morning, namely 20 degrees. I used to have a general rule of no running outside if the weather is below 45 degrees, but that has gone by the wayside. It was nice that there was virtually no wind, although my face still got cold, and of course my nose ran faster than my feet. But I put in six miles, which isn't bad coming off 11 on Sunday. Tomorrow, I'll have to take it a bit easy.

After my post yesterday about getting antsy and thinking about changing my training schedule, I went and counted 18 weeks back from the Mad City Marathon. That took me to January 22, the first day of classes for Spring semester. Well, I can't pass that up! So I'll start a training program that day, although I think I'm still only going to shoot for the half marathon in Mad City.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I'm getting antsy...

I am not doing any particular workout routine at this point. For much of the fall, I was going Hal Higdon's Spring Training to improve my endurance and speed. At the beginning of March, I'll begin his half marathon training preparing for the Mad City Half Marathon in Madison on May 27. After that, I'll jump right into his full marathon program to train for the Quad Cities Marathon. But right now, I'm getting antsy....

I'm tempted to push up my schedule. If I ran the full marathon in Mad City, I could start the training earlier, since the marathon training program is 18 weeks, as opposed to only 13 for the half marathon. The only problem with that is that it's silly. I originally decided to try for a fall marathon so that I could train over the summer. The longest training run for the marathon are 20 miles, which is going to take me more than three hours. I can afford that during the summer much more than in the spring. Plus, if I want to start training earlier, I can start earlier for a half just as well as for a full marathon. But I'm still getting antsy....

I shouldn't need any motivation. I ran for years without any particular motivation. I started some time in 1998, and I just ran my first race of any kind last year. At this time last year, a marathon wasn't even on my radar. In fact, it was just about this time last year that I conceived of the idea of JogAmericaBlog, which was supposed to keep me motivated, at least in part. And I'm not going to quit. I need to run. I'm just getting antsy....

So, we'll see what I'll decide to do. For right now, I just need to make it through the holidays, and then I'll pick it up a little.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Day 247 -- Slip Bluff Lake

Not a lot of information on Slip Bluff Lake in Decatur County. It's an artificial lake, with boat access and camping available. I note that it had some sedimentation problems, but that the EPA has reduced sedimentation by 85%. Way to go, EPA!

I ran 11 miles today. It was tough, but I made it. A marathon is more than double that, and it feels like it's a long, long way off. But I'm just going to keep on plugging, and I'll be ready when I need to be. Now I'll take tomorrow off, because I have an early exam.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Day 246 -- Leon, Iowa

I'm not quite to Leon, but I'm almost there. And if I follow my current plan, next time I check in, I'll be well through it. I had a rough run this morning, so I'm planning to take tomorrow off, but Sunday morning is supposed to be beautiful, and I'm hoping to do ten miles. Wish me luck.

Leon boasts an award winning IRCA rodeo over the 4th of July weekend. (I'm not sure, but I think I'd much rather be behind the fence above.) Although it has only about 2,000 people, it has 16 churches. That's actually pretty typical for Iowa small towns, I think. And, it has a very attractive city hall, seen below.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Day 245 -- Decatur County

I've crossed into Decatur County. The page I've found lists schools and festivals and all sorts of stuff, and at the bottom, has a category "Bragging Rights", where it boasts, "Decatur County has always been a thoroughfare for interstate travel." Now that's what I call bragging! "You can get through our county and onto someplace good."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Year-End Meme

As seen at Dr. Crazy's and Addy N.'s:

The idea is to post the first sentence from each of the last 12 months, and see what (if anything) it says about your blog.

January 2006: "Weather this morning was cool but clear in NYC." This was the very first day of my virtual journey. At the beginning, I kept a careful eye on the weather where I supposedly was, but I soon gave up on that.

February 2006: "I ran 5 miles today." In this post I set my February goal.

March 2006: "Well, I'm starting March off with a whimper." I gave my excuses for not having run that day.

April 2006: "Good thing that I have lost weight..." Follow the link to get the joke. Or possibly to not get it. I don't think now that it was all that funny.

May 2006: "I am really past Latrobe, but only just past the exit, so I thought that I would drop in to Saint Vincent College, the first Benedictine college in America." I'm much more relaxed now about posting photos from just about anything in the same county (or the next county over) as my current virtual whereabouts. Back then, going back a few miles to Latrobe seemed like cheating.

June 2006: "It was inevitable that while I was in Canton, I would visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame." And some day I plan to be there in person.

July 2006: "Today is the oldest and newest Little Jogger's birthday." Should I explain this joke every time? She's adopted, so she is physically the oldest, but the newest member of our family.

August 2006: "To make up for the lack of pictures the last couple of days, today I have included two." No comment.

September 2006: "Once again, I have managed to find the actual sign that I would be standing under if I were out there on the road where I claim I am." My first post in Illinois.

October 2006: "I stopped to see my dissertation advisor on Friday." A little post about my love/hate relationship with my advisor.

November 2006: "On October 28, 2005 (just barely over a year ago) an Amtrak train caught fire around Lockridge, Iowa." Fortunately, I got there a year later, or I could have been seriously virtually hurt.

December 2006: "Halfway between Knoxville and Chariton is the little town of Belinda, Iowa, where I found the Belinda Toy and Antique Museum." In rereading this post, I found a missing right parenthesis. I hate that! Compulsive that I am, I fixed it, even though no one is ever going to read that post again. Unless you'd like to read it now, to see the parenthesis that is no longer not there. Go ahead. Click on the link. I've left a subtle clue so you know which one it was.

So, what does all this add up to? I don't know. I note that 9 of the 12 days were running days. For comparison, I've run 244 of the 347 days this year, which is just over 70%, so that's about as close as I could expect. Of course, when you consider that on many of the days when I don't run, I don't post at all, it seems a little low.

It's in the bag....

From a student's proof on the take-home portion of exam 4:
Assume for the sack of argument that...

Day 244 -- Highway 2

I've just jumped onto Iowa Highway 2. I wasn't able to find any good photos. Although Highway 2 is 258 miles long, I'll only be on it for a few days. In 14 miles, I'll jump onto U.S. 69 at Leon.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Day 243 -- Round Barn

I'm a few miles south of Humeston now, but when I've got a great source of pictures, I don't want to waste it. The McCullough Round Barn is, alas, no longer there. There were two of them, one west of town and one south, but the one collapsed and the other was torn down to make way for a new, square barn.

I ran six miles today.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Jogger!

Today is Mrs. Jogger's 42nd birthday. She's much younger than I am. We have been married a long, long time, and I only wish I had married her sooner. She is the one sane thing that I have been able to count on for the last twenty plus years. I love her, I need her, and I'm glad that she's part of my life.

Many happy returns, Mrs. J!

Dean Dad Nails Another One

At our university, we've been going through some hassles over diversity. What does it mean? How can we improve it? What policies are needed to increase the pool of applicants from backgrounds unlike our current faculty? To what extent is each individual in the university committed to diversity, and is it enough? We are hardly alone in this sort of institutional soul-searching, as this post from Dean Dad makes clear. As usual, he is absolutely right about the real institutional needs, and the real costs of current efforts. The money quote, for me, is this one:
A really productive approach to diversity, I'd hope, would take as a starting point the idea that we shouldn't just find different-colored pegs for pre-existing holes; we should re-shape the holes.
Our real challenge, it seems to me, is not to find people of color who want to come to our university as it is. It's to change our university to the type of place where people of color want to go.

Day 242 -- Humeston, Iowa

As regular readers may have noticed, I often have a hard time finding pictures of these little towns. Not so Humeston, Iowa, thanks to this site. Somebody named Pauline has put an awful lot of time and effort into making a record of her home town. This is Jimmie's Hi-way Cafe, established 1936.

I ran 3.3 miles this morning, indoors. It was warm enough to run outside, but I didn't, mostly because I was planning to lift weights, anyway.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Day 241 -- Last Chance

Running guru Hal Higdon says on his winter training page that even runners who run indoors "probably need to get outdoors at least once a week to run long." Well, I can't promise to run outside every week this winter, but I made it out today.

It wasn't really that bad. We've been having lows in the teens, but today it was 30 degrees (F) when I went out. It was a bit windy, so running south was worse than running north. I did six miles by running my three mile route twice. The plan was that if I was freezing my ass off after the first lap, I could quit there. But I made it all the way.

A few miles west of Derby, Iowa, is the little town of Last Chance. It's impossible to Google images for Last Chance, of course, because that phrase shows up on so many more popular web pages. Mostly sports. It's the University of Iowa's last chance to win a football game or whatever. So, no pictures from Last Chance, but at least we know that it's there.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


I've kind of let Reading for Pleasure Wednesday slide. Hey, Dr. Crazy, who started the whole thing, has let it slide, too. I haven't been reading that much, and I'm usually busy in the middle of the week, and insert your own excuse here.

However, last night I finished Black and Blue, by Anna Quindlen, and I was blown away. It's a remarkable book, that gets inside the head of a battered wife as she flees to make a new life. I suppose most of us have had that question: "How could she do it? Why did she stay with him? What was she thinking?" Well, Anna Quindlen has some insights. As in One True Thing, her characters are achingly real. The reader can understand this woman, her fears, her motivation, her life.

I didn't think the writing was quite as remarkable at the writing in One True Thing. I didn't reread whole passages just to savor them. But the story is every bit as remarkable. Quindlen portrays her character as a perfectly ordinary woman with a horrible, dark secret, and makes us really believe that she is not so different from you and me.

I am now an official Anna Quindlen fan. I think I'll stop by the library today and pick up my next Quindlen book.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Day 240 -- Derby, Iowa

OK, did you know that there was a Post Mark Collectors Club? I guess it's no weirder a hobby than any other. As they say, "With over 35,000 named Post Offices in the U.S. and many more around the world, the collecting potential is limitless." So, as part of their website, they actually have pictures of post offices, which is where I stumbled across this picture of the post office in Derby, Iowa (pop. 131.) I'm only surprised that I haven't run into the PMCC before.

As you may have noted, I didn't run yesterday. I woke up, took inventory, and went back to bed. Bad mistake. I was in a funk all day. I just couldn't snap out of it. So I ran four miles this morning, and I felt much better. Now I'll probably take off both days this weekend, since the gym isn't open early, and it promises to be cold and windy. So two more days of funk, it looks like.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Late Again

I never make a big deal when students are late to my class. Every once in a while, I steal a joke from my old Shakespeare professor, and right after someone walks in I say, "...and that is the most important thing that you need to know about statistics." But mostly I just ignore them. I keep talking, and if they ask a question about something I did before they came in, I answer and move on.

So, some students are chronically late to my class. I imagine some of them have pretty good reasons -- their previous class is far away and tends to run over, or they are working a job where they can't leave until their replacement shows up. And I imagine that some of them don't have a very good reason at all -- they are just the type of person who shows up late to things. And it never gets them in trouble. At least not in my class.

Some days, though, I'd like to lock the door at the beginning of class. This morning, my 11:00 class was terrible. There were about six students (out of 20) who came in after the start of class. And they all felt obliged to bring their homework up to the front of the room and put it on my desk. Oh, and half of them missed the handout (which was on a desk by the door) so they had to get up again and go get it. I wanted to shout "Will you people please sit down! I'm trying to teach, here!" But I didn't.

So, any advice on how I should deal with late arrivals? It's probably too late for this semester, but I could change my behavior, if I could figure out some way to do it that would actually help the problem.

technorati tag:

Day 239 -- Unnamed Road

I am standing (virtually) on an "unnamed road." I don't know whether it's literally unnamed, or whether its name just hasn't gotten into the Mapquest database. But in any case, Mapquest has me run 0.9 miles on an unnamed road south of Chariton.

Above, I've joined the crowd for a Kerry campaign stop in Chariton in 2004. I'm not the world's biggest John Kerry fan, but I did think he was a damn site better than the alternative in the last election. (Photo from the archives at U.S. News.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Day 238 -- Chariton, Iowa

This is "Old Betsy" in the Chariton Homecoming parade, from the Chariton web site. I know that this is dangerously close to my photo from just up the road in Melcher-Dallas. What can I say? I'm in horse country. When I get out to Wyoming, I'll probably have nothing but horses, every day.

I ran 7.4 miles, which is quite a long workout for me in the middle of the week. But of course, I didn't get to run long this last weekend, so I just let myself go. I was indoors, so it was 56 laps in lane three of our 200 meter oval. BORing! And I got a blister. I never get blisters, except when I have new shoes. These aren't new shoes, but something went wrong. So now I'll have to treat it tomorrow, so it doesn't get worse.

Nonetheless, I felt good about my run.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Day 237 -- Tipperary, Iowa

It is, indeed, a long way to Tipperary. At least by the route that I ran, it's 1,261.8 miles. No pictures on the web of Tipperary, Iowa. It's so small, it doesn't even have a page in Wikipedia. For all I know, it doesn't exist. It's one of those ghost towns that map companies allegedly stick in their maps so they will know if anyone steals from them.

I took both days off this weekend. I really meant to go out one day, but it was so damn cold. We had lows near 10 degress (F), and brisk winds. So I slept in. Today I ran four miles, and I'll try to run a little longer tomorrow. We'll see.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Day 236 -- Belinda Toy and Antique Museum

Halfway between Knoxville and Chariton is the little town of Belinda, Iowa, where I found the Belinda Toy and Antique Museum. Not a whole lot of info about them on the web. If they have a web site, I couldn't find it. But perhaps I can go there for real some day. (This image is from an Iowa Public Television feature on the museum.)

I did a four mile tempo run today. The first mile was about 9 minutes, the second about 8, the third about 7 (which is really booking, for me) and the fourth about 8 again. It felt good!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oh Spammer, Where is Thy Sting?

I don't understand spam. Everybody hates it. People spend big money trying to figure out how not to get it. So why bother? I understand that it's a relatively cheap form of advertising. But if the return is zero, it's still too expensive.

I suppose that the return isn't actually zero. For every 100,000 messages they send out, they probably get one hit, and for every 200,000 hits, they make a sale. Which covers their costs.

Still, why go to a lot of trouble to force it down people's throats? Why try to get around their spam filters? If they set up spam filters, they aren't going to buy anything. So leave them alone!

I felt the same way about the National Do Not Call list. The telemarketing companies were against it, but I couldn't see why. The government is compiling a list of people who aren't worth your time. Isn't that great? I wish the government would step in and compile a list of students who aren't going to study, and then we could simply not admit them. But no, the telemarketing companies held out hope that if they could just get through to these people, theirs would be the one offer that the customer decided to pursue.

I bring all this up because my comments have been spammed. I'm set up so that someone comments, I get e-mail. Look through the recent posts, and you'll see that this isn't exactly threatening to bust my inbox. So today I got a comment that said "Looking for information and found it at this great site.. and went on to list a bunch of semi-random words and phrases (ones that I think they expected would be googled fairly often, like "weight loss" and "chicago cub") each with a link. I don't know where the link goes, because I haven't clicked on it.

I thought that I would try to figure out how to erase this blight, but here's the thing: I can't find it. It wasn't added to any of my posts in November. Or October. So they attached it to some post at least two months old. I'm sure they weren't expecting anyone to actually notice it. It's all part of some clever plot to defeat some search engine's algorithm by creating a bunch of phantom links to their site. I'm sure someone out there understands it, but not me.

I still don't get the point. Suppose that this plan works, and their site rises high on the list of sites that Google returns for "chicago cub." So they get people who are trying to find out something about the Cubs, and these people go to their site. Then what happens? They curse and click the back button. Nobody is going to stay and buy something because tricked them into being there. So why do it?

A Message of Hope

I just got a call from my sister. She has had one of her sermons posted on the web site of a world famous magazine. Well, no, not quite. The magazine is something called The Wittenberg Door, a religious satire magazine. I suggested that there may be a reason why it's not up there in circulation with Sports Illustrated. Anyway, I wondered whether or not to link to it, which is a kind of a compromise to my pseudo-anonymity. Then I read it. I'm a totally unbiased observer, of course, and I have to say that it's a damn good piece. But don't take my word for it. Go read it yourself.

Day 235 -- Jogger's Progress

Time7 days, 15 hrs, 14 min

Considering the way that it started out, it wasn't a bad month. It was my lowest mileage since April. Interestingly, I had two fewer days in August, but 15 more miles. Of course, in August it was easier for me to get out running and just run as long as I wanted.

My goal for next month? I'm not sure. I'd like to at least match this month -- 23 days and 110 miles. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Day 234 -- Melcher-Dallas

Here you see the good people of Cherry Creek Acres on their way to pick up a lucky couple to take to the prom in Melcher-Dallas, Iowa. Melcher-Dallas is somewhat west of where I am now, but it's within spitting distance, so I thought it was fair. Also, one of these horses has the same name as one of the Little Joggers, which is a good a reason to post them as any.

I ran 4.4 miles today outside. It looks like that will do it for running outside for a while. We have a horrible sleety slushy cold front coming through, which threatens to turn into snow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Day 233 -- Knoxville, Iowa

Knoxville, Iowa, is home to the Knoxville Raceway and the Sprint Car Hall of Fame. At some times of the year, there is much ado as Sprint Car fans from all over (all over the state? all over the country? all over the world?) flock to Knoxville to watch people in little cars go around and around and around and around and around and... I, personally, am not much of a race fan, so I've never been. But I hear that it's very nice.

Five miles today. It was raining, so I went indoors. It's now supposed to turn cold, so I may not be out much for the next little while.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Jogger v. the Whiny Student

Bear with me; this might be a long post.

I have blogged about this student before. He's been a pain in the ass all semester, because he's a uniquely irritating combination of outspoken and lazy. He never does any work, but he's quite willing to jump in and say "I don't understand what you are doing." Most student who ask for help that much are at least willing to work in between questions, and most student who do so little work are at least sensible enough to keep quiet about it.

So now we are exchanging e-mails on what his potential grade is. Here is his opening salvo...

I will be in tomorrow morning bright and early at 8am to go over my grade with you, and for us to come up with a plan together of how I can pass this class with a C. It is very, very important to me despite bombing the last exam. I want to finish the year with two 90s or better on the exams.

He didn't come in. I looked at his grades, and determined that two 90's on the remaining exams would bring him up to almost a D. I prepared what I thought was a reasonably level response.

The main thing that you have to do to get your grade up is to start working on the HW. It's too late for you to get a really good grade on that portion of the course, but every little bit helps. I truly believe that doing the HW will help you prepare for the exams. The exam questions aren't taken from the HW, but they cover the same ideas.

A C is a long shot at this point. There's just too much damage. However, if you perform well on the remaining exams, and get your HW and quiz scores up, you might pull off a D.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings.

The original response was quite a bit snarkier, including a gripe about not showing up when he said he would. But I toned it down.

He came back with:

so you're telling me if I give it everything i've got and get an A on the final showing I know and understand all the covered material in the class, and get an A on the last exam I will still end up with a D? That just doesn't seem too fair to me because it should ultimately be about learning the material, not about how well you take tests in my opinion. Personally, I'm all for throwing the spreadsheet out, spending hours in the math lab and with you in your office hours learning the material and clearing up the conceptions, and finishing strong, deserving a C.

OK, now I'm starting to get mad. (This is a total lie. I've been mad at this guy for weeks. Now I'm starting to not care that he knows it.) I wrote a lengthy response, which I will resist the urge to quote in full. The two main points are (1) there's a lot of assessment that goes on that isn't covered on the final, and (2) I don't want to make a special exception to my grading scheme for someone who has done so little work. The last paragraph went:

The bottom line is that when the signals are flashing and the whistle is blowing, you can't blame the wreck on the train. You could have -- should have -- seen this coming all semester. I'm sorry that you didn't.

He's still not done. His response:

I guess this doesn't make a lot of sense to me because professors are supposed to want students to pass their classes....

I almost can't type because I can't see through the steam coming out of my ears. Here it is, my fault, because I don't want badly enough for the student to succeed.

My response:

No, professors are supposed to want students to learn the material. Passing and learning are related, but not identical. I do want you to learn this material, and I have serious doubts about your ability to do it well enough in the next month to earn a C.

[I give an explanation of just how deep a hole he is in.]

So it comes down to this: If you work hard and study your ass off, you might pull your average up to 58% or 59%. In that case, I will strongly consider giving you a D, rather than the F that the syllabus assigns. But the only way for you to get a C is for me to make major modifications to the grading scheme, and I'm not going to do that.

I know that your grade is important to you, and I'm not particularly anxious to make you take this course again. But you should start planning for what you are going to do if you earn an F or a D in this course, because those are really the only two serious possibilities.

No doubt he'll come back with even more whining.

So, why am I posting all this? Partly out of a sense of frustration. Partly so that someone will pat me on the back and say, "Poor baby. What a crummy student you have."

I hate to say it, but I really will enjoy giving him an F. That's pretty rare for me. Usually, I feel sorry for students who get F's, rather than anything else. But this guy has just gotten my goat. I just hope he manages to take the course with someone else some time in the future.

technorati tag:

And on the twelfth day, Jogger rested....

I skipped running this morning. I was working on a streak of 11 days in a row. But I rolled out of bed, took a personal inventory, and rolled the heck back into bed. Oh, well.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Day 232 -- Lake Red Rock

I finally ran the eight miler that I've been promising myself for three weeks. It felt pretty good. I was tired, but not exhausted. Eight miles carried me across Red Rock Dam, south of Pella. This is actually a photo of two of the Little Joggers taken a Lake Red Rock a year or so ago. I don't think it's quite that cold out there today, which is just as well, if I'm going to be standing around in shorts.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Day 231 -- Grandma Jogger's House

Three miles today took me just about exactly to Grandma Jogger's house. Actually, I think I got there, stopped to rake a few leaves and clean out the gutters, and ran back to the corner of Elm and Broadway. Can't dilly-dally. I'm on my way down to Kansas City to visit Tracie.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Day 230 -- Pella, Iowa

Five miles today brings me to Pella, Iowa, the closest thing that I have to a home town. I lived in various places growing up, but I went to high school and college here in Pella, and Grandma Jogger still lives here. I'm coming in from the south east, and she lives in the north west, so I still have almost three miles to run to get to her house. In fact, I haven't passed either of the landmarks pictured here, but I only know that because this is my home town. I'm quite sure that I never come within miles of some of the photo ops that I post from other town that I don't know so well.

Above, the chapel at my Alma Mater. Mrs. Jogger and I were married in this building, almost 20 years ago. (I don't know why the photo is crooked. Try tilting your head a little.) Below, the Molengracht, a sort of faux-Old World shopping district in downtown Pella. Pella is a town of Dutch heritage, and is quite proud of this fact. This is the largest windmill in North America. It's by no means the only windmill in Pella. There are lots of windmills, Dutch fronts, and, every spring, a Tulip Festival.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Day 229 -- Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the U.S. Happy Fourth Thursday in November to everyone else.

I slept in this morning. I wasn't planning to run at all. But by midmorning, I started to notice how nice it was out. Sunny and 44 degrees. By 11:00 I had the itch to run, and so I scratched it. I ran three miles. I didn't even time myself, but I guarantee you that it wasn't very fast. But it was nice to get out and get some exercise.

Grandma Jogger and her housemate arrived for a visit around noon. We had a relatively light lunch, and we'll be pigging out on turkey this evening. Then I'll feel guilty, and I'll have to run again tomorrow! If I run far enough tomorrow, I can get to Pella before they get home. Then I suppose that I could rake leaves or something to surprise them.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Day 228 -- Oskaloosa

I'm a little past Oskaloosa, actually, somewhere out by Leighton, but I didn't want to leave the area without visiting William Penn University. This college I definitely knew was here. There was a big rivalry between Penn and my alma mater, since they are so close together. During the time I was there, the rivalry was dulled by the fact that we were so much better than they were in most sports, but not entirely gone. I don't know what the balance of power is now. In any case, this is me standing on the construction site of the new student activity center. Should I be wearing a hard hat?

I ran intervals today -- 200 m fast, 200 m slow, 200 m fast, etc. I think I'll probably take tomorrow off from running. Somehow, without really having planned it, I have run eight days in a row, ever since I got up from my deathbed last week.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Sixth Grade

Tonight we went to a choir concert at the Middle School. The first Little Jogger is in the choir this year. It was a pretty good concert. They did a lot of good songs, like "Amazing Grace," and "500 Miles," and "Puff the Magic Dragon." (They did Bowdlerize Puff, leaving out the verse where Jackie Paper grows up and Puff sadly slinks into his cave.) I enjoyed it, anyway.

We were there early, watching the kids running around and laughing and nudging each other, and I noticed that the first Little Jogger kind of kept to herself. She's comfortable enough with her friends, but she clearly isn't the kind of kid who just knows everyone and works a room. I got to thinking that it was just about sixth grade that I began to morph into a real geek. Up until then, I was just a kid, but sixth grade is when the cool kids start to sort themselves out, and I wasn't one. I don't recall that I enjoyed it much. I hope that the first Little Jogger won't have it quite as rough as I did. But I know that she's going to have to live her own life, and that I won't be able to protect her.

The D-List

As seen at Addy N.'s blog:

D-List Blogger

There is no F-list. Nowhere to go but up, I guess.

Day 227 -- University Park

University Park, just east of Oskaloosa, Iowa, is home to Vennard College. I can't seem to find the size of this school, but I can tell you that it's small. I went to high school and college twenty miles from here, and I've never even heard of the place! I never would have claimed to have known every little college in Iowa (there are tons of 'em) but I would have thought that I knew every one in Mahaska County. Just shows that you can always learn something, even about your own neighborhood.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Day 226 -- Givin, Iowa

This is some sort of old general store in Givin, Iowa. I don't have a lot of details about it. The Team Mahaska web site has a very thorough photo gallery, but not a lot of captions or anything. (If you're curious about the name, I am now running through Mahaska County, the next county over from where Grandma Jogger lives.)

Three brisk miles this morning, plus weights. I was indoors at the track. I'm going to have to run outside on the weekend, so I'm pampering myself these next three days.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Day 225 -- Eddyville

Greetings from Eddyville, Iowa. According to the Team Mahasaka web site, "With a population of 1064, Eddyville is proud of their good school system." 'Nuf said.

Five miles today, bright and early. It was cold, but not windy, so I was OK.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Day 224 -- Dudley, Iowa

I'm passing somewhere north of Dudley, Iowa, today. I couldn't find any good photos of the Dudley area, but I did find a cute photo of a cat named Dudley that was adopted through the Iowa County Humane Society. That is, of course, Iowa County Wisconsin. So this cat ain't anywhere near where I am on my jogging map. (I was about to say it ain't anywhere near me, but actually, it is. The Iowa County Humane Society is in Dodgeville, just a stone's throw away from where I'm sitting as I type.)

Four miles today, and, if I can make it, I'm shooting for five tomorrow. Then I'll declare myself officially back from my illness, and I'll start in on my regular routine (such as it is) on Monday.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Day 223 -- Chillicothe, Iowa

Chillicothe, Iowa, home of the gravesite of Curtis King, the oldest person to serve in the civil war. The man was 80. Holy Cow! "Mama, can we go visit Grandpa?" "Now, son, you know that he's off fightin' Johnny Reb."

Three miles today, a bit faster than yesterday. I'm coming back.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Day 222 -- Back to Work

I noticed that it was Day 222, and I decided to do a little tribute to Room 222, a show which I am definitely not old enough to remember. Then I realized that only a few days ago I was posing with Radar O'Reilly. Maybe the theme of this blog will switch from posing in front of various landmarks as I move across to the country to posing with various old TV characters. Next week: Gunsmoke.

I did run the two miles that I promised myself today. I decided also that I was going to hold my speed down, so that I was running neither far nor fast. Then I got out on the track and determined that it wasn't going to take any special effort to keep my speed down. If I was moving any slower, I'd have been going backwards. That's OK, though. Tomorrow, I'll go a little farther and a little faster, and pretty soon I'll be back to "normal."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Death Flu Update: It must have been something we ate

On Sunday, we went over to a friend's house to watch the Packers/Vikings game. They served a very nice meal, and we grazed all afternoon. By Tuesday, 10 of the 12 people at the party were sick to their stomachs. The only two who escaped were the baby, who didn't eat any solid food, and the oldest and youngest Little Jogger. I don't know if she skipped something the rest of us ate, or if she just has guts of steel. She did like on Ukranian food for the first ten years of her life.

Anyway, it's mostly out of our systems, now. I feel bad for my friend, who feels terrible about the whole thing. I would tease him about it being just what you'd expect from a Vikings fan, but I don't think that he's in a mood to get teased.

Tomorrow, I'll be back to running, but I think that I'll start out slow and work my way up. Two miles tomorrow. That's my goal.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Martian Death Flu

The Jogger family is deep in the grip of the Martian Death Flu. It started suddenly last night, when the first Little Jogger got Mrs. Jogger out of bed to help clean up a mess. But the time I got out of bed at about 2:00, the littlest Little Jogger and Mrs. J herself were both throwing up. I don't think the medium Little Jogger ever actually threw up, but he had an upset stomach and a headache, so he stayed home from school. I never threw up, either, so I bravely took myself to school first thing, and then thought better of it and slunk back home.

Only the oldest and newest Little Jogger seems to be unaffected by it. It must be that strong Ukrainian genetics.

Needless to say, I didn't run today, and don't plan to run tomorrow. If I am still alive on Thursday, I'll consider it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Day 221 -- Still More Ottumwa

The Ottumwa, Iowa, web site is thoughtful enough to provide you this image to be a desktop wallpaper. Lord knows, everyone wants an Ottumwa desktop. Alas, it's only 800 x 600, and my screen resolution is higher than that. (By the time Blogger has resized it, who knows what size this is going to be. But if you want the original 800 x 600 image, it's here.)

I ran three miles today, and lifted weights.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


The student who managed to be clueless on the assignment that he had almost two weeks to work on managed to find a solution to his problem. He cheated. Unfortunately, he copied from someone who had made a response that was so spectacularly bad that it was memorable. And of course, once I put the two papers together, the overlap was striking. So now I have to give them each a zero and file the appropriate paperwork. I hate doing that, but I hate even more not doing it.

technorati tag:

Day 220 -- More Ottumwa

One can't visit Ottumwa without metioning Radar O'Reilly, the erstwhile clerk of M*A*S*H 40077. The character of Radar appears in the novel M*A*S*H, and is from Ottumwa. Gary Burghoff is from Connecticutt, and as far as I know, never went near Ottumwa, but is forever destined to be associated with it.

I ran six miles this morning. After a rough week, I didn't want to push myself too hard. So my goal this week is the same as my goal for last week: run every day Monday through Friday, and run 8 miles on the weekend. I didn't make it last week, but perhaps this week, I will.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Accent? I don't have no stinkin' accent!

As seen at Dr. Crazy's.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Yes, I do call carbonated beverages "pop."

In which I vent a little about student work ethic

The last couple of semesters, I've been using a two-class-day timetable for my homework. So if I talk about Section 20 on Monday, the homework is turned in Friday. The idea, of course, is that all the students will work on it Monday and Tuesday, and if there are any problems, we can talk about them in class Wednesday, and they still have time to finish the problems and hand them in on Friday. In execution, of course, not every student quite keeps on schedule.

In Discrete Math this semester, I am trying something a little different with the proofs. The homework that involves writing proofs, they write up once (in two days), I grade it and make comments, and then they type it up formally for more credit (in another two days.) The idea being that I want to instill in them the notion that a good proof should be well-written, and that that usually takes more than one attempt.

So, with the proofs that I collected today, the problems were originally assigned on Monday, October 30. Some students did have some questions about them, so we talked about them in class on Wednesday, November 1. I collected them on Friday, graded them over the weekend, and returned them with instructions to type them up and hand them in on Friday, today.

So, last night when I got e-mail from a student -- a particularly loud-mouthed student, who is always complaining about how darn hard this material is -- saying, basically, "I don't understand this homework at all. Can you give me a little hint," all I could say was "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!"

technorati tag:

Day 219 -- Ottumwa

I'm not quite to Ottumwa, but there's not much in the area, and I've got several good Ottumwa places I can visit. This is Ottumwa High School, where I have actually been, once in my life. There was a regional speech contest there when I was in High School. As I recall, I got 2's (on a scale of 1 to 3) on both my speeches, which at the time was a disappointment, but now, a mere 25 years later, I'm completely over it.

I didn't run yesterday. My left knee has been giving me a little trouble, and then all of a sudden on Wednesday, my right knee started acting up. So I took yesterday off, which I think was a good idea. Both knees are better today, if not completely normal. I'm afraid I'm going to have to see a physical therapist if they don't settle down.

The big problem with taking a day off is that without my daily shot of endorphins, yesterday was a pretty rough day, particularly in the morning. It didn't help that it was a day of swatting mosquitoes. No big thing to do, but a million little tasks that seemed to multiply even as I got them done. So it was frustrating, but I made it through. Today I ran five miles, and my morning went better.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Importance of Silence

I had a student in my office today. He wasn't one of my regulars. He was pretty confused. My temptation, of course, was to run off at the mouth. "Let's do this example. Let's do that example. Look how easy it is when I do it." But I resisted. He was processing, but he was processing very slowly. So I had to remind myself to just shut up and let him think. It took time. But he got it. I need to remind myself of the importance of silence.

technorati tag:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

RfP Wednesday -- Prisoner of Trebekistan

This is a "Reading for Pleasure Wednesday" post that I'll enjoy writing. I've gotten my hands on Prisoner of Trebekistan by Jeopardy! champion and fellow blogger Bob Harris. I had an Amazon gift certificate that I had to use up, that I got from some publisher or someone for filling out a survey or something. So I actually bought a recent book, and Mrs. J got a couple, too.

Prisoner of Trebekistan is laugh out loud funny. Often. I'm just enjoying the hell out of it. The theme, sort of, is how Harris managed to remember all the inane trivia it takes to win on Jeopardy!, and how it felt to do it. But in the meantime, it manages to wander all over the areas of cognitive science, human biology, sociology, and entertainment. In a funny way. Sample sentence: "Believe it or not, your body reacts to stress--virtually any stress--with almost exactly the same biochemical changes it would use to evade a horny ocelot." Now that's literature.

I'm not sure that the memory tips will do me any good. It's all about how to remember useless and unconnected stuff like the Secretaries General of the U.N., or the names of the novels of E.M. Forster. It's great advice, but I don't ever expect to go on Jeopardy!, so I don't know when I'd use it.

In any case, it's good reading. I got it on Monday, and I'm 120 pages into it.

Keeping Wisconsin Safe for Married People -- Somehow

There is much celebration today on some of my favorite blogs. I admit that it's some relief to see things finally swinging the other way. I don't have any illusion that the country is suddenly going to go sane, but perhaps a Democratically controlled house can put a check on some of the most egregious abuses of executive power.

My own celebration is tempered by the fact that Wisconsin, my home state, has enacted a "Marriage Amendment." The amendment provides that "a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state." Note that this half of the amendment doesn't mention the sexes of the people involved. It's unconstitutional to treat unmarried people as married, no matter what their sexuality. Within six months, we'll be seeing employers dropping benefits for domestic partners, gay and straight. After all, it's the law.

The net gain for married couples in Wisconsin? Zero. Our taxes are not lower. Our jobs are not more secure. Our streets are not safer. And our marriages are for damn sure not any more stable than they ever were, even though that's the language used to sell this bastardized ammendment. "Protecting the institution of marriage." How, exactly?

I know, I'm bitter. I had hoped that Wisconsin would prove itself more rational than that. As it was, the ban was enacted 59% to 41%. It had been predicted to be a lot closer, meaning that a whole lot of people were telling pollsters they were against it but actually voted for it when they got into the voting booth. The vote on the marriage ban in South Dakota was closer than in Wisconsin, for Pete's sake!

Other than that, it's been a good election. That's something I haven't been able to say in a long time.

Day 218 -- Eldon, Iowa

If the house behind me looks familiar, it's because it's the house featured in Grant Wood's American Gothic. I was going to go all out, and give myself a pitchfork and an unmarried daughter (the first Little Jogger, perhaps), but there are so many send-ups of this painting out there, it wouldn't be very original.

I ran an easy four miles today.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Day 217 -- Jefferson County

Jefferson County has a very nice trail system, which is still being expanded. It seems to be mostly in and around Fairfield, which means that I'm past it, but what the heck.

I ran six miles this morning, at a decent pace. I'm supposed to run intervals tomorrow, but I suspect that I won't. I'll probably just go for a short jog. I'm still pretty tired, and I need to be in early tomorrow, so a quick workout will do me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Day 216 -- Bernhart, Iowa

Got this cool image of the Bernhart, Iowa, station for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Company from the John P. Vander Maas Railrodiana Collection at the University of Iowa. I just like the word "railroadiana." It's a neologism, but it's a cool neologism.

I ran to the gym, lifted weights, and ran home this morning. I was still pretty sore from my long run yesterday, so I didn't push myself.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Day 215 -- More Fairfield

I ran 12 miles today, so you'd think that I would have moved on to the next town. But I decided that I wasn't quite to Fairfield on Thursday, and I'm a little past it today. And I found this terrific Victorian Mansion outside of Fairfield from a a blog called Colorjoy!

I was kind of hoping that after two days of rest, I would cruise to an easy 12 miles, with lots of leftover strength and energy. Well, no. The first nine or ten miles were OK, but it was pretty rough at the end, and I really had to drag myself that last mile. But I did it! The plan for this week is to run all five weekdays, and cap it off with a relatively short long run -- eight miles or so.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Light Running Week

Well, this is my second day off in a row. The last time I did that was the 9th and 10th of September. I really didn't plan to do that. I had to take the first Little Jogger to school early yesterday, for Swing Choir practice, so I decided to run at noon, when I wouldn't be so rushed. But I neglected to pack socks in my gym bag. I couldn't run without socks, and I didn't think that my dress socks would be padded enough (nor did I really want to run in them and then wear them around all afternoon.) So I took yesterday off. Then Mrs. J went with the first Little Jogger and the girls scouts on a camping trip last night, so I couldn't run this morning, because I was the only grown-up in the house. So I took two days off. I'll have a good long run tomorrow, and get back on track.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More Diversity Training

I had another session of diversity training today. There have been a series of all-day workshops this fall, and it was announced with much fanfare this fall that it was mandatory that all employees attend one. Of course, the Faculty Senate got its shorts in a bunch and declared that no one had a right to add mandatory training without consulting appropriate governance structures, specifically the Faculty Senate. So it may or may not have been mandatory. In any case, I went. I have no strong objection to diversity training, other than it usually turns out to be a lot of finger pointing and guilt-wallowing, with a minimal amount of contructive suggestions for improvement.

This one started out OK. They talked about goals, specifically to increase the number of faculty and students of color. They talked about their own backgrounds and qualifications. They talked about some of the issues that have come up on campus, about historical problems of racism, and yes, they talked about the fact that it was mandatory (unless it isn't) and they recognized that we may not be the most willing participants in the world.

And then they let Professor Martyr talk.

I don't like Professor Martyr. I never have. He was part of a panel on diversity during my orientation to my university, and I didn't like him then. Just recently, Dean Dad gave me the proper language to describe him: he's a "victim bully." He uses his status as a minority to club people. If you don't agree with him -- hell, if you aren't 100% behind his particular grievances -- then you are part of the racist structure that keeps him and his people down. He's very much an "us vs. them" kind of guy, and you can't be sort of "us".

An example. During the discussion of why we might not want to be there, one of the Economists spoke up and said that, in his view, it didn't pass a cost/benefit analysis. The possibilty that he, personally, would help attract more students or faculty of color seemed sufficiently remote so as not to balance the cost in time spent away from his current students and his responsibility to them. This seemed like a reasonable position, but Professor Martyr took several opportunities to mock it. He didn't come right out and say it, of course, but he managed to imply that this position was right next door to putting out a sign that said, "No minorities need apply."

Professor Martyr talked for a long time. He made a big point of making sure that we knew that he knew that we weren't up to his standards. Why didn't we attend the seminars that he had arranged? Why didn't we attend activities put on by minority students? Why didn't we want to be there? If it hadn't been mandatory, most of us wouldn't be there, and doesn't that speak volumes about our commitment to diversity on this campus? Didn't we appreciate the opportunity to come here and be berated by him?

Just before I lost it, he was talking about an argument that he hears about the difficulty in hiring minorities. People suggest that it would be easier if we offered more money. The fact is that all the time we have candidates --minorities and non-- who seem like a good fit, but who end up taking another job at a higher salary. So, Professor Martyr said, what does that say about me and the other minorities that are currently here on campus? That we had to settle for this job, because we couldn't get anything better?

He caught me shaking my head at that and singled me out, and I suggested, ungently, that not everything in the whole wide world was meant as a personal affront to him. I used the word "asshole." I am not proud of this. This is not normal behavior for me. But I did.

I did apologize, publicly, after the break. He didn't seem very upset, although I know full well that I'm on his shit list, and I always will be.

I've been trying to decide why I was so upset. Often I can let B.S. like this roll off my back. "There goes Professor Martyr again." But not today. At least not right at that moment.

Part of it is his grating personality. As I say, I took an instant dislike to him six plus years ago, and have never seen any reason to change my mind. Part of it is, I suspect, a guilty suspicion that he's right about me. It's certainly true that I benefit from white privilege. I take for granted things that Professor Martyr has had to fight hard for. Maybe I haven't done enough to help erase racism and sexism and other types of discrimination. The burden shouldn't be on the minority, but on the majority.

That's the galling thing. I agree with this guy. On lots of stuff. I know that racism is still pervasive in our society. Indeed, it's a fundamental part of our society, and if that's changing at all, it's because of people like Professor Martyr who won't let people forget it. I just know that there are lots of people who manage to make that point in a more inclusive way. Indeed, all the other presenters managed to make me feel like I have an opportunity to be part of something good. Professor Martyr just made me feel like I'm already part of something bad.

Day 214 -- Fairfield, Iowa

I couldn't pass Fairfield without visiting the Maharishi University of Management. Once upon a time, this place was Parsons College, but in 1974, it was bought out by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Now it's a college where they teach Transcendental Meditation(tm) and Computer Science. I guess. I don't know much about the program, but they apparently attract enough students to survive.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

RfP Wednesday -- The Parable of the Sower

I've missed two Reading for Pleasure Wednesdays in a row. Not that I haven't read anything, but I haven't really had much time to post, and haven't had anything really great to write about. But I'm going to get back to it.

I'm currently re-reading The Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. I think this is the third time I've read it, but it might be the fourth. Like most of Butler's novels, it is kind of difficult to read. A lot of really bad stuff happens to the main character, and to her friends and family. But, like most of Butler's novels, it carries with it a hint of inspiration. Lauren survivies, in spite of all the terrible things. This is a very strong theme with Butler. Her character's persevere in the fact of truly terrible pain, and somehow grow.

This particular novel is set in the near future (the 2020's), in an America on the decline. Crime is rampant. Most people live in walled communities, and go out only in well-armed, large groups. The economy is stagnant. If people can find work at all, they can barely afford basics. Nobody has money for luxuries like TV's, microwaves, or even phone service. The police and firefighters charge per call, so they are rarely called, even for major emergencies. People regularly disappear, and are just never heard from again.

And that's at the beginning of the novel. It gets worse. It's somewhat comforting to read it, and to realize that things aren't that bad in America. But I have a terrible fear that they may become that bad, perhaps in my lifetime. Perhaps within 20 years.

I'm not sure why I'm reading it again. It isn't my favorite of Butler's novels. But I'm far enough into it now that I can't stop. I'll press ahead, and probably read the sequel, The Parable of the Talents, as well.

Day 213 -- Lockridge, Iowa

On October 28, 2005 (just barely over a year ago) an Amtrak train caught fire around Lockridge, Iowa. I know this, because Erika at The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things was there. It's always nice to visit, although this is a pretty flimsy excuse. Anyway, I'm glad that Erika wasn't hurt, only inconvenienced.

I ran intervals this morning. After a warm up, I ran 400m fast, then 400 m slow, then 400 m fast, etcs. I did 6 rounds of that, and was pleased that I managed to run the 6th just about as fast as I ran the 1st. (No, neither one was exactly World Record pace.) It was a good workout, and I probably burned off about 1% of the calories I've consumed in the form of tiny little candy bars in the last 24 hours.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Day 212 -- Jogger's Progress

Time6 days, 23 hrs, 1 min

After the long runs on the weekend, I took yesterday entirely off, and didn't even feel bad about it. Sometimes on an off day, I feel cranky and out-of-sorts, but yesterday was just fine. Maybe it's because I was still pretty sore. Anyway, today I did five miles. The one thing that I regret is that yesterday was the warmest morning for some time, and promises to be the warmest for some time to come. It was cold this morning, with a stiff wind.

October was a good month, overall. I'm pretty sure that my days and mileage will start to drop off, as it gets colder. But I did OK this month. One fewer day than September, but only 1.2 fewer miles, so my average was higher.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Day 211 -- Mount Pleasant

It has been a big week. I don't normally run on both Saturday and Sunday, but I decided to take advantage of the clock change. With the clock set back last night, I could sleep in and still get out early. So I did.

Being me, I didn't just settle for a light four mile jog. I didn't get a real long run yesterday, because Mrs. J had to work, so I did ten today. That caps a 37 mile week, with 20 of them in the last three days. Neither of those is a personal record, but it's been a while.

I was pretty tired by the end. My 10 mile route brought me back close to home after seven miles, and I wanted to quit then. But I imagined myself three miles from the end of a marathon, and decided I wasn't going to let a little fatigue stop me. So I toughed it out. I'm tired now, but it's a good tired. A well-earned tired.

Virtually, I'm in Mount Pleasant. I have a nice picture of a blacksmith's forge, but blogger won't let me upload it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pumpkin Carving

Today tbhe kids and I carved our Halloween pumpkins. Usually, Mrs. Jogger is the artistic director, but she's at work today. So we did the best that we could. From left to right, the pumpkins are owned by the oldest and newest Little Jogger, the medium Little Jogger, the medium Little Jogger, the smallest Little Jogger, the smallest Little Jogger, and the first Little Jogger.