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!