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Virtual Big Sur

January 15, 2021

Last week, after more than 3 days of total running time, I reached Monterey on my virtual run across California. Usually when I finish my run in the real world I will use the tools from the Tahoe-to-Malibu site to look at where I am on the virtual course. My runs last week took me past virtual landmarks that I recognized from my years living in Pacific Grove including Carmel-by-the-Sea, Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was a fun part of the run that I hadn’t really thought about when I signed up for this challenge.

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Twitter Rules

January 8, 2021

The End of Something

January 8, 2021

I consume a lot of news media these days. Probably more than I need to, but it feels like I am doing something when there feels like little else I can do. Wednesday was one of those times.

A longtime House aide texted me tonight, and they said, today feels like the end of something. And I don’t know why, but that’s really stuck in my head.

– Susan Davis, Congressional reporter for NPR Politics Podcast, January 6th 2021

Yesterday on my run I caught up on the NPR Politics podcast and heard that line. Much like the reporter it has stuck in my head. Maybe it describes how I am feeling without defining what exactly I feel is ending.

We’ve had a couple days to process the information so I don’t have that same disoriented feeling of not believing what is happening, but at the time I couldn’t get enough information to get my head around it all and make myself understand. The information was delivered in bits and pieces and by the time the Congress had reconvened to certify the election it still wasn’t clear exactly how this was able to occur.

There are so many aspects of this assault on the nation’s Capitol (a phase I can actually use without hyperbole) that it will be analyzed for months or years. I hope that smarter people than me are able to research and determine HOW this happened. There will be a lot of talk about WHY people did this (there already is), but I think that on the surface it’s not too difficult to grasp the WHY. We have spent four years with a president who has no relationship with the truth and after he lost the election he dialed up his lies and no one held him accountable. People believed his lies and acted on it. Seeing the images of the insurrectionists in the Capitol my mental picture of all of them is that they are just people who want to see the world burn, because it still seems impossible that they actually believe the alternate reality a third of the country seems to want. Mostly it upholds the image of an ignorant redneck that I have come to think of as “them” during the last four years. In 2016 I tried to remind myself that there isn’t really any “them” or “us”, but sometime in the last four years I got too tired to keep trying.

On Wednesday night I stayed up watching the certification (easier to do from California since Congress didn’t finish until about 4am EST). When I tuned into the live feed from the House of Representatives they were debating an objection to certify the votes from Pennsylvania. I did not know this before this week, but they way the certifications work is that the Vice President lifts up the actual Electoral Certificate from each state in alphabetical order and when they reached Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo) objected (it takes a Representative and a Senator). This triggered a vote in both houses. The Senate declined to debate and voted 93-7 to certify the votes from Pennsylvania. The House debated for almost three hours and voted 232-138 to certify the votes. 7 Republican Senators and 138 Republican Representatives voted against certifying the votes from Pennsylvania AFTER being evacuated from the chambers due to the failed insurrection.

I watched much of the House debate and it was truly surreal. We are used to hearing the lies from the President and he delivers them in such a clumsy fashion it is amazing that it has worked for him this long, but to hear United States Congressional Representatives stand up and eloquently spout lies claiming that they could not certify the votes because they believed in the Constitution and were fighting for their constituents was hard to stomach. It was hard for some of the Representatives in the room to here as well. Rep Conner Lamb (D-Pa) blatantly called out the Republicans on their lies and some of Representatives almost came to blows before being House staffer intervened. The result of the debate vote was never in question as even several Republicans argued in favor of certifying the Electoral. After the debate was over a simple oral vote was taken and Nancy Pelosi declared that “The No’s have it.” – meaning that the objection was voted down. At which point a Republican asked for a recorded vote which wasted another half an hour.

After the objection to certify the Pennsylvania Electoral College Votes was voted down the Vice President then starting reading out each state and certifying each state in a matter of seconds until he reached Wisconsin. At which point Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) objected, but he did not have a Senator to vote with him. At which point I found comfort from a very unexpected place. Vice President Pence shut down the objection quickly by saying the “It would not be entertained.” Seeing him follow the rules was oddly calming. The remaining states were certified and then Pence announced that Joseph R. Biden Jr. of the state of Delaware had received 306 Electoral votes making him the next President of the United States.

I had not intended for this post to be a recap of Electoral College certification, but it is how my day ended on January 6th and it was a process that made sense unlike the rest of the days activities. I still don’t know exactly what has ended in our country, but it does feel like we our grieving something. I can only hope that something better is in our future.

Often, when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.

– Mr. (Fred) Rogers


November 22, 2020
May 2015 Runs from Endomondo

The year I turned forty-five I decided to run every day for 45 days. I often set arbitrary running goals as my birthday approaches (e.g. 50k while I am 50). When I started this goal I decided to start using a new running app. Prior to this I think I was using Nike+, but I’m not entirely sure. I am also not sure why I switched apps for this run streak – maybe I knew someone else using Endomondo? Maybe I just wanted something that showed the whole month at a glance? No idea. But I used the app for 45 days straight and then for the next five years, for a total of 570 recorded activities – mostly running.

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Arcadia Heat

November 20, 2020
This is a heat map showing the 350km I have run since our move to California.

A Harp of Disaster

November 19, 2020

There are 42 days left in 2020.

My donation this week is going to Triad: Boston’s Choral Collective.

In 2019 Kira and I were lucky enough to see Melanie perform or rehearse with three different choirs in Boston. Since the pandemic began we’ve only seen Melanie in person once and while I am sure she was singing absentmindedly, under-her-breath during most of that visit it isn’t quite the same. In 2020 Melanie has shared some songs online with her “Quarantunes” series and there is a great socially distanced edition to the canons, but no choirs. (It’s possible there have been and I missed the announcement or that I have just forgotten because time and memory are illusions. It’s easier to hype if we just go with the idea that this is the first choir performance in 2020.)

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Just OK Ramen

November 13, 2020
Note for future Mike to place this in your mental timeline: This was the week we found out we had a new president and also when you burned off the fingertips of your right hand making this just ok tasting bowl of chicken ramen.

What Is My Mother’s Birthday?

November 11, 2020

I asked my mother who I should donate to for her birthday and she gave me a couple of suggestions. (Her Birthday isn’t actually until tomorrow, but we’ve celebrated on Veteran’s day for so long that I sometimes can’t remember which day it is on.) One of her ideas resonated with me and I picked it immediately. She suggested that I donate to an organization doing research on Pancreatic Cancer to honor the passing of Jeopardy Host Alex Trebek.

Alex Trebek’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

I grew up in a Jeopardy household. I think my father has watched the show almost everyday since it started airing in the 60’s and certainly since Alex took over as host in 1984. I suspect my mother, being the giver that she is, gave me this suggestion because she knew I would like thinking about and writing about Jeopardy and honoring Alex Trebek. But maybe I do her a disservice, she has been there watching Jeopardy with all of us. My father was a contestant on Jeopardy when I was in high school so I tend to think of it as his passion, but everyone in our family enjoyed watching the show. I haven’t watched it as regularly since I left home, but I always enjoyed the show when I made the time for it.

When Alex announced his cancer in March of 2019 we were all sad, he’d been a part of our “family” for so long. Almost every story I have heard about Pancreatic Cancer has been about the disease spreading swiftly, so I was pleasantly surprised when Mr. Trebek returned for one last season of Jeopardy this year. Often when celebrities pass there is a tendency for only the good stories to come out, but usually there a a few bad ones. But everything I have heard about Alex Trebek has been that he was kind and decent – in addition to being a great host of a quiz show.

So on my mother’s suggestion I did a little research and found a charity that rated well and funded research of diseases of the pancreas, the National Pancreas Foundation.

The National Pancreas Foundation provides hope for those suffering from pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer through funding cutting edge researchadvocating for new and better therapies, and providing support and education for patients, caregivers, and health care professionals.

A Big thank you to my mom for this suggestion and also a

Big Happy Birthday Mom!

Click on the mask to donate to the National Pancreas Foundation. This yellow flower mask has nothing to do with the pancreas, but I thought my mother likes yellow flowers.

Hammer and Scorecard

November 10, 2020

There are 71 days until the next presidential inauguration.

While the truth of the election continues to be Joe Biden is the President Elect, there are several conspiracy theories floating around about the election. When I heard one of them was about a software hacking attempt I decided to learn more about it.

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To Boldly Present

November 9, 2020
This is the very small data set I am using in my Azure Synapse Analytics presentation tomorrow.