March 12, 2008

Beautiful oritental girls, or how to increase your page views

Write about your mundane Thursday morning workouts at the track and on Oriental Parade.

Posted by eroberts at 9:04 PM

March 8, 2008

This week's sign of the apocalypse

Athletics NZ has a quote from Newt Gingrich on their homepage. Newt Gingrich, well-known American athlete ... oh, wait!

Posted by eroberts at 8:59 PM

March 6, 2008

Fun on the run

On an otherwise mundane 13km tempo run this morning, there were two things of note. The first was "meeting" one of those guys who wants to race you. They are always men, and always slightly socially awkward. I mean, in a sport like running which attracts introverts and characters, you can tell these people who want to race you on a training run are even more loopy, even more out of touch with social mores. What was impressive about this guy was that I was clipping along at 3:45/km, and as soon as I pass him he shoots off at 3:30 pace. His other oddity was that on a beautiful morning for running (13°C/55°F) he was wearing long underwear and a thermal top. Eventually he slowed down, and I caught him, passed him, and he takes off again. As he accelerates he smiles with an idiot grin to invite the race and seems puzzled I'm not taking him up on the offer. Eventually we got to a junction, and he headed off the other way but not before we'd gone through this 'race me' grin routine several times (each time his acceleration got shorter ... but still impressive speed for a guy who looked to be in his late 40s or 50s).

That bemusing 5km over I kept on heading round the bays, and managed to get on the radio in a manner of speaking. One of the local DJs, Nick Tansley, was broadcasting outside. He used to be somewhat "cool" when I was in primary school, but now suffers from a yawning gap between his chronological age and the age he plays on the radio. As I went past I heard him say "it's a beautiful morning here on Oriental Parade, and there goes a runner, he looks like's too busy to stop and talk to me ..."

Between these two 'events' I got from 20 to 45 minutes into my 50 minute tempo run with little thought for how far into the run I was. This was good, and made it a remarkably easy run. 50 minutes quicker than marathon pace should not be difficult, but normally requires more concentration than that.

Posted by eroberts at 6:36 PM

March 4, 2008

An update on the New Zealanders with Disabilities Act

Two years ago I reported how we'd seen a man in a wheelchair being loaded onto a plane in a forklift, and this spectacle was publicly announced as the reason for the delay with the flight. It's a good story, though "good" does not mean reflecting well on my home country, or being the desirable way to help people in wheelchairs get onto planes. Good as in unique and distinctive, and certain to raise your attention.

Now I can update this story, and report that there are well signposted lifts/elevators in the Auckland domestic terminal. They may even be functioning, but I didn't check that. There was also no sign that people in wheelchairs were prohibited from using the lift, and had to wait for the forklift. For the sake of New Zealand's reputation, I am relieved ...

Posted by eroberts at 11:42 PM

March 2, 2008


No ... One of the perennial [trivial] challenges of my life is keeping straight when to use New Zealand and when to use United States English. In this case I'm writing a book review about a New Zealand book for a journal published in the United States, so I have set the language of the text in Microsoft Word to U.S. English. But then I have to use New Zealand words and phrases which get marked with the dreaded red squiggle.

This is what God created copy editors for ...

(Pakeha. Or shorter)

Posted by eroberts at 8:39 AM

March 1, 2008

Hearing placebo

The study widely reported this week that new antidepressants were no better than placebo led the media to find people who would say on TV that they believed their antidepressants were working.

Well, of course ... on the one hand that's precisely the placebo effect in action. If you believe the pill is making you better, you get a little better. On the other hand, it's also variation in the population. Some people do benefit from the antidepressant more than the placebo. Just because the treatment is no more effective than placebo on average doesn't mean there aren't people who benefit more from the treatment. The trouble is that it's a little hard to identify who those people are, since you can't be taking both antidepressants and placebos at the same time.

Posted by eroberts at 5:23 AM