January 30, 2006

Dealing in slaves

In the database of the United States 1880 census there is a person whose occupation is transcribed as "DEALING IN SLAVES." There's another person whose occupation is transcribed as "DEALER IN SLAVES STOVES". I say "transcribed" because it's possible (likely) that with the civil war being 15 years over that the former person was dealing in, oh, "STAVES" or "STOVES." Such are the hazards of transcribing old handwriting from microfilm. "SLAVES STOVES" is at least plausible, since it may describe a kind of stove. We can deal with that!

Now that we're wrapping up our coding of this data by coding the products people were selling, the question arises how would you classify someone who really was dealing in slaves. The United Nations has a classification scheme for economic activity which understandably doesn't include trade in slaves. You know, declaration of human rights and all that ... The least inaccurate option would be to include slaves under "live animals."

In this case I'm inclined to give the person a code for "we don't really know," not because I'm squeamish about calling slaves animals (we're all animals, after all), but because I think this is a transcription error that has got this far.

Enjoy your freedom.

Posted by robe0419 at 3:43 PM

They don't read the newspaper

In the New York Times they quote the Secretary of State as saying:

Ms. Rice pointed out that the election results surprised just about everyone. "I don't know anyone who wasn't caught off guard by Hamas's strong showing," she said on her way to London for meetings on the Middle East, Iran and other matters. "Some say that Hamas itself was caught off guard by its strong showing."

I guess Dr. Rice should get to know me, and we could read the f***ing newspaper together at breakfast, so as not to be surprised by entirely predictable events. Just this morning I was finishing the Guardian Weekly from before the Palestinian election which predicted that Sharon's stroke, and Fatah's impotence would make it highly likely that Hamas would do very well. In any case, isn't it the job of the Secretary of State and her staff to imagine the possible outcomes of the election and prepare for them? That really couldn't be too hard in this case: there were two main parties contesting the election, how much effort is involved in wondering about what would happen if each of them were to win?

Posted by robe0419 at 1:06 PM

January 29, 2006

Still looking for the next Toqueville

Garrison Keillor writes a hilarious review/spoof of Bernard-Henri Lévy's book, American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville (via Marginal Revolution)

An early version of Levy's ramblings was published in the The Atlantic last spring. From that excerpt I determined I would not buy the book. I will pretend to not understand how such poorly edited, over-analysis came to be published. I'm as sympathetic as the next person, maybe a little more so, to tales of foreigners in America, and Americans in America, trying to understand how a nation of millions (the exact number, of course, having been quite different at various points in time) scattered over such a distance functions, nay, thrives as a nation, as a community. It's a fascinating country. Much to love, much to wonder about, no more to dislike than in any other country.

The trouble with Levy's Atlantic article, and I'm guessing, the book too, is that he seemes determined to essentialize America, to yoke the culture of Texas and Minnesota closer together than I-35 brings them. Maybe, just maybe, in Tocqueville's time you could essentialize about the American "character." Easier to do with thirteen million than three hundred million. But that was the insight of Tocqueville, he tempered his generalizations with an appeciation of the variety in American life.

If you are going to try and explain America, to itself, or the rest of the world I don't think you can start with the presumption of unity. You have to presume diversity and variation, and let the guiding question be what unites the country in spite of that diversity. How does the nation hang together, though at times it has hung separately.

To give you a sense of Levy's over-analysis without subjecting you to the whole first chapter, take a look at this excerpt. It is a good question, why do Americans fly their nation's flag more than in Europe or Australasia, or Canada? But the question is not that profound. But "strange," "obsession," "a response to that trauma,"neurotic abreaction," or "something else entirely"? I'd say "something else entirely," without endorsing any of the other over-reactions to the flag that Levy has.

It's a little strange, this obsession with the flag. It's incomprehensible for someone who, like me, comes from a country virtually without a flag-where the flag has, so to speak, disappeared; where you see it flying only in front of official buildings; and where any nostalgia and concern for it, any evocation of it, is a sign of an attachment to the past that has become almost ridiculous. Is this flag obsession a result of September 11? A response to that trauma whose violence we Europeans persist in underestimating but which, three years later, haunts American minds as much as ever? Should we reread those pages in Tocqueville on the good fortune of being sheltered by geography from violations of the nation's territorial space and come to see in this return to the flag a neurotic abreaction to the astonishment that the violation actually occurred? Or is it something else entirely? An older, more conflicted relationship of America with itself and with its national existence? A difficulty in being a nation, more severe than in the flagless countries of old Europe, that produces this compensatory effect?
Posted by robe0419 at 5:21 PM

January 28, 2006

Unintentional irony of the day award

Yeah, you would hope that the first time you ran an event you would set a PR (or PB, for personal best, in NZ-run speak).

(from Wellington Scottish Athletics homepage)

Kate McIlroy is one to watch over the steeplechase, she's tall, has the strength from winning the World Mountain Running champs, and has developed steadily over the past ten years.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:37 PM

January 27, 2006


A few months ago I mentioned how I was using the digital camera to make copies of a lot of material for my dissertation. On the laptop, iPhoto is all that you would expect from Apple. Easy to use, doesn't hog memory, perhaps lacks some advanced features, can't quibble with the price. But I also manage some of my gigabytes of digital data on the PC at work, and frankly the default picture viewers in Windows weren't great. Enter Picasa. From Google. Highly recommended, and I am not on commission.

Posted by robe0419 at 5:37 PM

Friday cat blogging

another entry in an irregular series

Posted by robe0419 at 6:34 AM

January 25, 2006

Tuesday's child

A couple of weeks ago I did a long post about the hundred mile week, and suggested something like this start to the week:

Sunday: 22-24 miles
Monday: 8-9 miles (with strides)
Tuesday: am: 13-17 miles, pm: 3-7 miles (to make 20 miles for the day)

In comments and then by email Eric and I discussed the long Sunday run, and whether to do that run with gels or not.

I should just note after three weeks of this [approximate] schedule that I've been doing the long runs without gel. Like Greg McMillan I think there's a lot of benefits to be had from doing these easy, base phase, long runs without gel and getting used to running on fumes, or at least body fat rather than glycogen. Monday's run is just an easy recovery anyway, so I'm never too concerned if I feel crap then.

What is more interesting is the pattern with the Tuesday runs. While I typically feel pretty good on Tuesday morning and get through my 13-15 miles easily enough at my normal training pace, I can still feel the last effects of glycogen depletion. Rarely on Tuesday mornings do I pick it up towards the end. Long and steady. Tuesday evening is a different story. With the benefit of a 13-15 mile warmup in the morning, but more importantly, an extra 2 meals in the legs, Tuesday evening is often when I push the pace again. Last night, for example, I threw in 1.5 miles at just over marathon pace and then some surges up the hills.

Doing a longer morning run on Tuesdays means an extra 2-3 miles of running on low fuel. This is valuable, but not as much fun as an impromptu tempo run. Stopping after about 13 in the morning, and doing 7-8 in the evening means getting in more quicker stuff for the day. Different benefits from each arrangement, which is why every high mileage week should be a little different than the one before it.

Happy running.

Posted by robe0419 at 9:23 AM

Canadian election

How about that Canadian election,eh? I guess the only way I could lose more readers would be to say I was thinking about this entry while I was running. Well, I was!

(I shamelessly stole this graphic from the cbc.ca site). If you were the Liberal party you'd have to be somewhat pleased with this outcome. When the Conservatives lost in 1993--ushering in the Liberal government that has just lost office--they were reduced to just two seats. It was one of the most, if not the most, ignominious defeats of a government in a Western democracy.

Losing an election is never a great thing, but every party needs its time out of office. And frankly the Liberals were due their time in opposition. But at 103 seats, and facing a Conservative minority government, the Liberals could be back in power at the next election. Or not. Democracy is like that. 103 seats is plenty enough as a base to retake power at the next election. But it's not so many that anyone will see the Liberals as a potential alternative government in this parliament. In short, they have the space to regroup, elect a new leader, and come back next election.

You have to wonder how much of their agenda the Conservatives will actually accomplish. Neither the Bloc nor the NDP are their natural allies. Legislation will inevitably be modified to gain the support of two other parties.

The American media will probably repeat a canard about parliamentary politics, the idea that the largest party in parliament always forms the government. Not so. Not always so, at least. The largest party is typically offered the first chance to form the government, but if they can't ... there's nothing to stop the government being lead by the smallest party in parliament. Now, in this case, the Conservatives will get their chance. The Bloc and NDP will probably support them on a confidence vote so the Conservatives can get a government started. But after that everything will be up for negotiation. I'd put good money--or a fruitcake--on the next election being in 2008.

Posted by robe0419 at 7:03 AM

January 24, 2006

Down with dynasties

On Friday I wrote:

Hillary, if you're reading, please don't run! I write this completely independent of their other merits and demerits, but it's been slightly corrosive for American democracy to have the son of a recently former President be elected President. It would be just as corrosive to have the wife of the previous one run and be elected. Democracy, if it means anything, should be an open, competitive system, not something resembling a feuding aristocratic house.

Now, Josh Marshall writes:

here's a reason for not supporting her candidacy that I don't hear often enough: political dynasticism. I don't just think that's a bad thing because it's a political family whose politics I find egregious. I think it's just a bad thing for the republic, period. Nor is it only the Bushes or only the presidency .... Again, not unprecedented by any means, but a tendency that is growing and one I don't think is healthy in the aggregate.

Great minds think alike ... fools never differ.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:12 PM

International inefficiency

John Quiggin at Crooked Timber saves me the trouble of having to write down thoughts I've long had about America.

On some levels America is very capitalist, materialistic and efficient. But then there are four layers of government, including hundreds of teeny, tiny counties and cities that must have a higher per-capita cost of local services than they would if they amalgamated. Many professions and occupations are regulated by the states which impose different requirements for licensure, making the American labor market quite a lot less free than we imagine it to be. The meeting of two tendencies in American life--local control and the free market--explains many of these quirks, and are part of the rich diversity of life here.

But as I said, someone else wrote about this better than I could.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:01 PM

Important news from Canada!

Wouldn't want to get too excited about the election when Mario Lemieux is retiring.

Posted by robe0419 at 10:27 AM

January 20, 2006

Random ramblings

I should be writing an abstract for a conference. On a Friday night. "Should"? But the week kind of got away on me, and it's not as done as it "should" be. That's the trouble with wanting to get it written early. Now, even if it's on time I'll still feel it's late. Oh well. So instead of getting on with it, I'm blogging a post no-one will read ... Not that I keep very close track of the matter, but readership declines markedly on Saturday, and picks up on Sunday. This is not unique to me, the famous bloggers have noted this too.

[The cat does not understand that when I have the laptop on my lap she cannot also sit there. Hey, it's a magic Apple cat-warmer pad, she's thinking.]

But anyway ... where was I. No-one's going to read this. More stuff I can't really link to stimulating bloggable posts.

We were at Half Price Books this evening looking for Christmas presents for my parents (the strange advantages of visiting your parents six weeks after the actual holiday ...) and I came across Jim Fixx's Complete Book of Running. (possibly annoying bold text to help the one person reading this navigate the topics) And his Second Book of Running. Came across? Well, I suppose that after we'd found the Christmas presents I might have made a beeline for the sports section. That brought back some memories. Memories of being a 12 year old kid getting into running, and reading my father's late 1970s collection of running books. You see, I don't actually remember the late 1970s jogging craze in America. Though I've read more about it than you might guess. Or as much as you might guess, given my academic inclinations.

I digress ... Fixx was a good writer. His sheer enthusiasm for running came through. I didn't see anything about capping your mileage at 40 miles to avoid injury. You can, I'm sad to say, read that nonsense in Marathon & Beyond this month. Now, 40 miles is a totally fine mileage if that's all you have time for, if you're susceptible to injury, or you're just not really into running a lot. But Marathon & Beyond? It has always seemed to me to be a magazine that caters to a people with, at the least, an intrinsic enjoyment of running a lot, and at the most a verifiable obsession. I can't quite understand how it is that we currently have a boom in participation in marathons, and a print media for the sport that mostly caters to the idea that going beyond 60 miles is dangerously high mileage. And I exaggerate somewhat when I say 60, "run a marathon on 40 miles a week" is a not uncommon article summary in Runners World.

[the cat has left ... momentarily ... for a drink]

This time last week I was telling myself that I should probably take a recovery week in the running. I didn't. That was the right decision. It's been a great week running. 4 weeks into this buildup and the pace is starting to come. At the end of runs I find myself pushing down towards marathon effort for a couple of miles without really thinking of it. I was also telling myself a week ago that I would top out at 100 miles (repeatedly) in this buildup, but just try to run it at a strong pace. Now I find myself wondering if by the end of the 12 week buildup I might not be able to run more miles (111 miles per week has a nice ring to it ...) and keep them at a decent pace. We'll see. Expert opinions vary. I have been reading Run Strong and John Kellogg writes about doing base mileage at 60-65% of maximum heart rate. This seems slightly slower than I've been going. Time will tell. I do have a dissertation to write too ...

Moving right along to the next magazine rack, I was browing tonight while doing errands: Minneapolis/St. Paul magazine at Lunds. Once you get past the 400 pages of semi-advertising for the city's top doctors you can find interesting, balanced—in the best sense of the word—yet still skeptical articles. Like one about Al Franken, and his potential run for the Minnesota Senate seat in 2008 againt Corm Noleman or whoever the current incumbent is. The gist of the article, so you don't have to read it, is this: "Al is serious about running. But a lot depends on what happens in the 2006 elections."

[the cat is now quietly resident on the sofa behind me ... time for catnip, no?]

Online I read this article about Hillary Clinton, which argued that, really, she did not do that well in upstate New York in the 2000 Senate race, and that her ability to do well in "red states" is being overblown on the shaky grounds that she did well in upstate New York. Who knows? I'm somewhat skeptical that Hillary Clinton would make the Democrat's best candidate for President, and frankly that's all that matters to me. Here's the trick the Democrats need to pull off: to nominate the most 'winnable' candidate, without that turning into a superficial rush to annoint a biographically driven candidate with little demonstrated appeal and ability on the national stage. Not that I'll have any input at any level ... Nor will I likely be here for the election. But I'm still interested!

In any case, Hillary, if you're reading, please don't run! I write this completely independent of their other merits and demerits, but it's been slightly corrosive for American democracy to have the son of a recently former President be elected President. It would be just as corrosive to have the wife of the previous one run and be elected. Democracy, if it means anything, should be an open, competitive system, not something resembling a feuding aristocratic house.

They're having an election in Canada on Monday. It looks like the Liberals will lose, after 12 years in office. I don't keep much of an eye on Canadian politics, but the Liberals look tired, the Conservatives have found something of a theme and consistent voice, and that should be enough to seal the result. Interesting how the slicker, more polished Paul Martin has proven to be a much less adept politician than his tough, gritty predecessor, Jean Chretien.

If you're still reading, get in touch, and I'll send you a fruitcake by way of appreciation.

What a great issue of the New Yorker this week! Interesting—if short—article about the Diversity Visa program (online). A retrospective on interviewing Ariel Sharon. And an article on car chases in Los Angeles. All very interesting. And so different. So truly random. Whereas I give that adjective to a post on my predictable interestss.

I rarely read the fiction in the New Yorker, and suspect I am not alone. The real life they write about is more interesting than the fiction. You can't make a lot of that stuff up!

Posted by robe0419 at 9:10 PM

January 17, 2006

Historical census occupation of the day

An irregular entry in an occasional series


Mmmmm ...

Posted by robe0419 at 4:50 PM

"NO" would be a good answer

As the price to pay for the chance to live in the United States, filling out the three application forms for a non-immigrant visa is a small one.

I'll try to make this amusing for my mostly American readership, who probably don't get the opportunity to see how their nation's border security works. If any of my sponsors happen upon this, really, I love being here and appreciate it immensely. Some of the forms are just a little bemusing.

Back in those innocent days before September 11, 2001 there was just one form to fill out, the DS-156. As far as I can tell they haven't revised this form, so you still get this gem of a question:
"Do you seek to enter the United States to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities, or any other unlawful purpose? Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization as currently designated by the U.S. Secretary of State? Have you ever participated in persecutions directed by the Nazi government of Germany; or have you ever participated in genocide?"

Bad stuff. Not to defend the Nazis, but it's interesting how they get identified and all the other twentieth century genocides are lumped together. There's also questions about having "been a prostitute or procurer for prostitutes?" among others, and then they tell you "While a YES answer does not automatically signify ineligibility for a visa, if you answered YES you may be required to personally appear before a consular officer." (emphasis added)

May be required? I'm sure you're glad to know that admitted terrorists may be required to be interviewed by a consular officer! Actually, even if you answer "NO" to all these questions you still have to show up. I imagine this makes the interview a little shorter (never having answered "Yes" to any of them).

After September 11, 2001 they added two new forms, the DS-157 and DS-158. It really is slightly interesting that the numbers of the forms are sequential. In other parts of the American government (to say nothing of other, similarly disorganized governments) it seems to be an empirical rule that related forms and publications are not given identifying numbers anywhere near each other. Take a look at the IRS website if you doubt me. So good on the Department of Homeland Security for a little bit of easy-to-understand form-numbering!

The DS-157 is funny: you don't have to sign it. Not sure what that means. Do you not really have to give a true answer? I still do, honest person that I am. Most of the questions are pretty standard, name, family, places you've been, why you're going to the United States, and then these.

13. List all Professional, Social and Charitable Organizations to Which You Belong (Belonged) or Contribute (Contributed) or with Which You Work (Have Worked).
14. Do You Have Any Specialized Skills or Training, Including Firearms, Explosives, Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical Experience? If YES, please explain.
15. Have You Ever Performed Military Service? If Yes, Give Name of Country, Branch of Service, Rank/Position, Military Specialty, and Dates of Service.
16. Have You Ever Been in an Armed Conflict, Either as a Participant or Victim?

I always get a little bit of a laugh out of being able to put down such subversive groups as the Economic History Association, the American Historical Association, and Wellington Scottish Athletics Club as potentially subversive organizations I belong to. Thankfully I don't have to explain that, and it makes me extra glad I don't have any specialized skills outside of social science. Probit regression is not yet directly applicable to terrorist activity ... Though someone is probably working on it somewhere.

Somewhere along the line the formatting guide for these forms must have included the instructions that "All Questions be Asked in Mostly Title Case Sentences. Except when they are not for reasons that are hard to work out." And they also lost the Adobe Acrobat manual somewhere along the way too, because the DS-158 has fields where the text expands or contracts to fit the whole box. Like so. It looks odd. The other forms don't work like that.

Whether all this will keep out potential terrorists, I don't know ...

Posted by robe0419 at 3:30 PM

January 16, 2006

26 cents of misgivings

If you happened to buy thirteen more two cent stamps than you needed, can you buy old 37 cent stamps to use them up?

Or, should I use twelve of them on a postcard and just have one left over?

Posted by robe0419 at 12:05 PM

January 12, 2006

Undivided spouses

Here are two recent headlines; one from the Washington Post, about the faux-19th century drama that ensued when the wife of Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito, left the Senate hearings in tears. The other is from the local alt-weekly, City Pages, about the possible influence of health-care executive Lois Quam on her husband's campaign to be the Democratic Attorney General of Minnesota. They're really unconnected in their details, but juxtaposed illustrate how the modern marriages of professionals co-exist in our society with still-prevalent 19th century and Shakespearean ideas about marriage and public politics.

It's interesting that Samuel Alito's wife does not go by the title, "Mrs Alito," though there's no shortage of commentators, left and right, who can't read a newspaper or use Google, and call her just that. A woman keeping her own surname is a long way from being the entirety of her and her husband's political philosophy, but it's a more liberal action than I would have expected from a judge being cast in the role of uber-conservative. It's less surprising that the DFL House minority leader in Minnesota is married to a woman who kept her surname. In both cases I'd guess that an independent career established before marriage was a (if not the only) factor in these women keeping their names.

Yet now the media yokes them together with their husbands, though in somewhat different ways. The flap over Ms. Bomgardner ("Mrs Alito") leaving the room in tears is, as I say, so 19th century in its allusions. The emotional woman who bears the sorrow of the thuggish political attacks on her husband, because she and he are one. And to a reduce a woman to tears is just beyond the bounds of civilized politics. Perhaps those Democrats were drunkards! After all, women are the moral guardian of the nation, if they could only vote they would establish a good and temperate republic. I exaggerate to make the point, but really only slightly. But the key to the faux-outrage expressed about "Mrs Alito" being reduced to tears is precisely that she is seen as an extension and part of her husband's persona and political appearance. None of the news reports appear to ask her what she was crying about. Because women shouldn't actually speak in public for themselves. Or something like that ...

The City Pages article on Lois Quam and Matt Entenza taps into a slightly different set of ideas about politics and marriage; more the improper influence of a Lady Macbeth figure. Yet again, one of the central assumptions of the article is that a man's politics are not independent of his wife's. On the one hand, of course a man's wife's career will have some influence on his politics. On the other, what is the remedy? Should people with potential conflicts of interest with their spouse's career not enter political life? There is no answer in the City Pages article, just a series of questions about potential conflicts, if Matt Entenza is elected Attorney General, if there are health care cases referred to the office. That's a lot of "ifs" to base an argument on.

Moreover it seems kind of silly that questions about health policy are being resolved in such a legalistic fashion through the Attorney General's office. It's understandable— the litigious nature of American life intersects with its corporate health care system, but still. Should the state Attorney General be a major player in health policy? Isn't that something the Governor and legislature should be dealing with instead? All of which is to say, that independently of whether his wife is Dr. Macbeth, Matt Entenza's seeming lack of interest in health care litigation might be the right policy.

In most ways these stories are unrelated. As more women pursue professional and political careers, and are married to similarly professional and political men, we'll see more articles like the one in City Pages. Yet at the same time, the "Mrs Alito" flap demonstrates that we haven't entirely lost our 19th century sense about marriage as an unequal pairing where women bear the emotional burdens and their husbands have the political and judicial careers.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:01 PM

January 11, 2006

Tweak UI

Frustrated by the standard Windows dialog boxes not providing quick access in the "Places Bar" to your own frequently used drives and folders? Wish you could add whatever folders you wanted to the "Places Bar" like you can in Mac OS X? You can, with Tweak UI, a little extension for Windows, endorsed but not officially supported by Microsoft. Nifty and free.

Posted by robe0419 at 2:08 PM

January 10, 2006

Re-imagining the hundred mile week

100 miles a week is a nice round number, and a nice round number that many runners aim for. But always remember Don Kardong's quip that "My feeling is that people pick 100 because it's a nice, round number, but an even rounder number is 88." Indeed.

Nevertheless 100 miles per week (mpw) is something that many runners aim to get to, for whatever reason. I should note that I'm thinking about the 100 mile week in the base phase, and moreover for people thinking about running marathons who put more of a priority on longer, single runs, and achieving the adaptations those confer. Also, if you're going to hit 100 mpw multiple times in a buildup, getting to that target in different ways is probably more effective than doing the same schedule week after week. Not to mention that actual real life will often require a different schedule than the model. So the 100mpw schedules I present below are starting points for myself and anyone who finds them somewhat useful.

I don't think I'm the only person that has found there to be a world of difference between 85-90 miles in a week, and 100 miles in a week. No doubt, there is a similar breakpoint when you start heading for 120 or 140 miles a week, but I've never been there and might never. 85-90 mpw is pretty achievable on one run a day, and it's quite feasible to schedule a day where you just amble round for 6 miles or 10km. With 100 mpw your 6 mile day is purchased with even higher mileage on another day.

100 mpw in singles is not that hard, and Arthur Lydiard has a classic schedule for getting there.

Monday :10 miles (15km) at 1/2 effort over undulating course
Tuesday:15 miles (25km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Wednesday:12 miles (20km) at 1/2 effort over hilly course
Thursday:18 miles (30km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Friday:10 miles (15km) at 3/4 effort over flat course
Saturday:22 miles (35km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Sunday:15 miles (25km) at 1/4 effort over any type terrain

I've done weeks similar to this, and you certainly get to your 100 miles. One issue I have with this schedule is that the 10 mile days are not really recovery days, since you do them faster or over hillier courses. But as a way of dividing up the miles, this approach is pretty good.

Ron Daws' book, The Self-Made Olympian has a modification of this schedule in which Monday and Friday become basically recovery days, and split into doubles for even more recovery effect if necessary. Another issue I have with the original Lydiard schedule is that the Saturday long run and Sunday moderately-long run are in the wrong order. Running 15 miles followed by 22 is not a lark, but it's not too difficult paced correctly. Running 15 miles the day after 22 is not the most fun. Since 22 miles will deplete your glycogen stores a bit, heading out for another 90-120 minute run the next day is not the most effective form of recovery.

My modified way to get to 100mpw in the base phase starts from the presumption that the most important runs are the long runs and moderately long runs, and being able to run quite strongly on some of those, and making creative but not excessive use of double run days. Thus, there's more variation between the different days than in the classic Lydiard schedule and its variants.

Monday: 8 miles (with strides)
Tuesday: am: 13-17 miles with some tempo running, pm: 3-7 miles (to make 20 miles)
Wednesday: am: 10 miles (with strides)
Thursday: am: 13-17 miles with some tempo running, pm: 3-7 miles (to make 20 miles)
Friday: 8 miles (with strides)
Saturday: 12 miles with some tempo running
Sunday: 22 miles

By making Tuesday and Thursday bigger days in total through running twice, it's easy to schedule two 8 mile recovery runs. The pace on the Wednesday 10 mile run can vary. Some days on this schedule I've felt great on the Wednesday and run my normal steady run pace. Other days it turns into a 10 mile jog, or if I feel really beat up, I'll split it up into two 5 milers or 6 and 4 miles. If it's going to be one 10 miler, it's easiest to do it in the morning, assuming the Tuesday and Thursday runs are also in the morning. This allows the most recovery. In the second half of the longer runs on Tuesday and Thursday I will typically throw in some aerobic surges, or turn it into a progression run. When I say tempo running, I don't mean Daniels' T pace (one hour race pace), but marathon pace + 30 seconds, down to marathon pace. This is a less rigorous definition of tempo running than some would allow, but is a pace range that has a lot of benefits without taking too much out of you. The benefit of the second run on Tuesday and Thursday is that you start the run glycogen depleted and get some of the benefits of a 20 mile run without the tiredness of doing 20 miles in one run. Saturdays run, being a little shorter, often, but not always, turns into a tempo or progressive run. If I'm still a little tired from Thursday I'll run Saturday relatively easily so I can have a good long run on Sunday. Sunday is the more important weekend workout.

My other variation on the 100 mile week is relatively similar, but makes Sunday even longer and Thursday a single 18 miler. This is a somewhat tougher way to the same total, with the 100 miles coming in just 8 runs if done as scheduled. The important workouts are still Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. If some of the recovery days become double days so you're recovered for the big days so be it.
Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday: am: 13-17 miles with some tempo running, pm: 3-7 miles (to make 20 miles)
Wednesday: am: 10 miles
Thursday: 18 miles with some tempo running
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday:12 miles with some tempo running
Sunday: 24 miles

By distributing the miles more unevenly over the days of the week than the Daws or Lydiard schedule, this approach places more stress on three or four days of the week, and gives a slightly different stimulus to the body. In closing I would emphasize that varying the way you reach the same total is probably more effective than repeating the same schedule, and these are two model weeks that I work from in planning my high mileage weeks along with the Daws variation on Lydiard's schedule.

Posted by robe0419 at 5:55 PM

Time for tea

One of the small disappointments I have with American life is the absence of that fine Commonwealth social activity called morning tea. (At which you discuss cricket ... except in Canada).

Really, morning tea is nothing more than a 10-20 minute break in the workday when people take a break and have a drink or snack, and converse with their colleagues. Right now, American readers are probably wondering what could be less exciting. What makes morning tea different than a coffee break in an American workplace is that at morning tea [nearly] everyone takes a break at the same time, and gathers in a common space to have a drink or snack. Tea itself is not compulsory, in fact I would assume that in the Antipodean coffee paradise that is Australasia more people now drink coffee at morning tea than tea.

This linguistic imprecision is probably what confuses Americans about morning tea, and the other forms of "tea" that are taken in the Commonwealth. I was trying to explain all the tea distinctions to my wife the other day, and have to confess that she had a point when she said "that doesn't make sense!" Well, neither does silly mid-wicket (another story). Let me see if I can explain it concisely.

  • If you say you are "going out for tea" or that "you will meet for tea" this will likely refer to a traditional English-style afternoon tea (tea or coffee, scones, cucumber sandwiches, floral decorations on the china, etc ...). Thus, when talking to people who don't live with you about social engagements tea means afternoon tea.
  • "Tea" without any qualifiers can also refer to the main evening meal (dinner). If you were to dine out for this meal it would be "dinner," but eaten in with just your normal household it is "tea." If you were invited around to someone's house for tea, and expected to arrive after 6pm you could reasonably assume it was for an evening meal "tea," but not a very fancy one. If it was fancy it would be called "dinner."
  • In the morning, before a reasonable morning tea hour, if you were to refer to "tea" in conversation ("When are we going to stop for tea?") it would be morning tea.
What's not clear about that? Quite a lot, it seems.

Posted by robe0419 at 5:26 PM

January 7, 2006

You can't [always] link to print

The holiday season always finds me reading more stuff in print and less on the internet. One of the perils of being a social historian is that in your search for interesting evidence you read a lot of dull printed matter. Really, the newspapers and magazines of the past were not much better than what we read today. So it's nice to read good stuff in print.

Like the Financial Times. I happened upon a copy of the weekend FT today and found it to be like a smaller version of the Guardian or the Times, which put out substantial weekend editions. That take a whole weekend to read in full. Growing up in that newspaper wasteland that was New Zealand it was always exciting to get to Australia and enjoy the Weekend Australian or The Age or the Sydney Morning Herald. Or all three. As my uncle used to say, they call it the Weekend Australian because it takes you the whole weekend to read it. Something you could never say of the Sunday Star Tribune, where my challenge is to see if the interesting bits add up to more than an hour's reading. And the interesting stuff in the Star Tribune includes the coupons.

The British papers are always great to read. The opinion columnists are more acerbic, more cynical, less respectful of power, less predictable, engaged in politics without being partisan.

I also happened across Esquire magazine over the New Year weekend. Nothing terribly intellectual, but one article stood out: Thomas Barnett's argument against the current round of China-bashing. I can understand why some American politicians would want to make sure that America remains the world's largest economy. Money begets power and all that. But the idea that China's growing economy is a threat to the United States is absurd. If young Chinese grow up thinking that America tried to keep them poor that will lead to conflict. If China believes America has helped it to grow there could be conflict (you can never rule anything out), but it will be far less likely.

Posted by robe0419 at 1:01 PM

January 3, 2006

Good coffee, obscure places

One of the delights of my last trip to New Zealand was the discovery that you could get a good espresso lots of places. Not just in the "main centres"—that New Zealand English phrase for the four largest cities, now expanded to include up-and-coming cities like Hamilton and Palmerston North. I can't believe I just called those cities "up and coming," it's like describing Des Moines as a rising, attractive urban area. Low housing costs, higher fertility and in-migration do not always lead to the promised land.

But I digress; good coffee in obscure places. There was great espresso at the old railway station (two trains a day) at Tongariro National Park. (This is like finding great espresso at Lake Itasca or Yellowstone). It helped that they got their beans from Supreme Coffee, but there's a gap between great beans and great espresso which is not always filled.

Given that you can't easily find great coffee in many cities in America, my expectations for places off the highway are pretty low. Really low? But I had some hopes for the Norske Nook in Osseo (WI). Good pie. Good lefse wraps. But they burn the espresso and serve it just that little bit too hot. And I'll keep trying to find that great espresso in odd places ...

Posted by robe0419 at 1:48 PM

January 1, 2006

Keep the snowman in Christmas

While running this morning I saw a yard sign with the words "Keep the Christ in Christmas," and a picture of a snowman. A snowman! A well known worldwide symbol of the birth of Christ. One of those moments I wished I carried my camera with me. And when words would have failed me. If the snowman isn't a symbol of a secular American Christmas I don't know what is. And a very regionally-specific American Christmas at that.

Posted by robe0419 at 8:11 PM