Mindshare 24 March

I played soccer tonight. Tons and tons of fun, but I cannot get to sleep thanks to adrenaline. So, here’s what’s been bouncing around inside my head.

1. “Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the papers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. Leadership becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en masse.”Clay Shirky. He’s talking about the train wreck in the newspaper world, but this bit could be applied across the board. Thinking big thoughts is good for society.

2. “Lee Smolin, a physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, who was one of the authors, said, “What is amazing to me as I learn about this is how flimsy was the theoretical basis of the claims that derivatives and other complex financial instruments reduced risk, when their use in fact brought on instabilities.” – New York Times. I considered “financial engineering” while I was working on my MBA, but the reliance on much of what I was exposed to on equations extremely sensitive to a single assumption made me leery. As I keep listening to Planet Money, I’m more a believer that the 3-6-3 model (Pay 3% to people in savings accounts, lend at 6%, and be on the golf course at 3PM) for the banking and finance industry was a system that didn’t need a lot of tinkering. Plus, who really needs millions of dollars?

3. “Getting things done, especially the right things, is incredibly satisfying, but waking up one day to realize you’re a stressed-out workaholic at the age of 28 is not. Life requires balance. You’ll be more productive, more creative, and more satisfied if you calm down and unplug every once in a while, even if it’s once in a very long while.” Questioning the ‘Cult of Done‘. I hadn’t heard of the ‘Cult of Done’, but this is a great piece encouraging taking even good stuff with a grain of salt. Understanding the limits of models, etc. See item 2.

4. “(F)inancial warfare comes with all sorts of risks. The Unites States is deeply in debt to other countries — especially China, which holds over a trillion dollars in U.S. securities — and that kind of leverage, in the wrong hands, could be destabilizing.” Danger Room (Wired). This keeps me up at night. Actually blowing stuff up is risky, expensive, and morally ambiguous. Blowing $100 billion on wrecking a country’s market over a dispute is arguably just expensive.

5. Belated reminder that William Gibson’s birthday is St. Patrick’s day. Makes a phenomenal excuse to go drunk driving on the information superhighway. His guest series over the last week is very NSFW, but worth a look. (Assuming you’re on a personal computer, of age in your jurisdiction, and not averse to boobs and foul language).

6. This is big and interesting – MIT backs free access to scientific papers. Cool counterpoint to the newspaper story.

7. For file under studies noone really needed: The data suggests that relevant information will emerge even when the group’s communications aren’t firing on all cylinders. Groups where at least one member had a requisite answer to the problem tended to be more successful than those that rated highly for the open sharing of information. The sharing did seem to help the group build a cohesiveness in a way that simply obtaining the answer did not, however. So, being stuck in a meeting where people are discussing things you already know can serve a positive function.” Really? Having a clue helps? But if you don’t have a clue, at least you can have that in common with the rest of the clueless…

Be good to each other.


I’ve been slacking lately. Warren is going to hand me my hat in June.

I got exactly two (2) good workouts in this week. Monday my excuse was being stuck in the ATL (second least favorite airport in the world after IAD – even Bahrain has a good airport). Tuesday, I had a GREAT 4+ mile run at 8 minute miles, with the last quarter mile at sub-6 pace.

Wednesday – worked through lunch, then building Pinewood Derby cars with the boyos, and troubleshooting the Pinewood Derby track with beer with a couple of the other Cub Scout dads after everyone was in bed. Finally found something about the Cub Scouts that I liked. So, no time to work out.

Thursday – yeah, just lazy here, I guess. I worked through lunch again, but probably could have swum or rode after the kids were in bed.

Today, I spent a quality 55 minutes on the bike at 150 BPM heart rate during lunch. A bit disturbed that NONE of the TVs at the gym were showing the College Basketball playoffs. But, I had two great talks from TED – Dan Arley on why we all cheat on occasion, and Stuart Brown on Play. (I like to think that’s why we run, bike, and swim – what’s better than hammering, especially on the off chance there’s someone else to chase?)

So, pretty much a bust. Missy’s off at a well-deserved women’s retreat this weekend, so I think the boyos and I are going to have a little bit of male bonding. Pinewood derby and bar-b-q. First at Chester’s, and then I may get a smoker while we’re buying stuff to build garden boxes.

Or, has anyone ever cooked in a chiminea?

Colchester Half Marathon 2009 / Lent

I ran this over the weekend with a bunch of guys from the church.

Missy ran it last year, and had been warning me about how tough it was. I was kind of skeptical – our first stretch living up in Connecticut, we lived just off of the course, and I didn’t recall it being that hilly of an area.

Thing is, I wasn’t a runner then.

This is one of the toughest races I’ve run – up and down all over the place. TRCWTOH has said she wasn’t crazy enough to run it (though I’m guessing she could run anything. But won’t press it, as she volunteered to bring beer and chips to the finish next year). And we ran it this year in completely benign weather – mid to upper 30’s, not terribly windy. Missy keeps reminding me that there was a bizzard the day before last year’s running, and she still finished.

Anyway, I felt pretty good throughout the whole race. Set a pace and mostly stuck to it. I walked a bit of the last mile, just because I didn’t want to go all-in, as this was a training run and not a flagship race. I’d set a goal of finishing in 2 hours with gas left in the tank to keep training this week, and think I hit that goal well.

Almost too well – I finished at just over 1:54, which is within spitting distance of my 1:53 PR from the OKC half last April. Considering the degree of difficulty for the course, I’m over the moon with the performance. I’m still carrying at least 10-15 lbs more than I should be (probably closer to 20-25 lbs over optimal), but it’s a sign that the motor is working well.

And look at that effective transition to talking about Lent!

Since I’ve put on a few pounds since the New Year, I’m giving up (in order of priority):

  1. Drive-Thrus
  2. Deep-Fried Stuff
  3. Soda

Drive-thrus make sure that I’m going places with good food choices, and providing the ability to eat well. Deep-fried stuff eliminates french fries and onion rings, which, while especially delicious, are nothing but empty calories, and lots of them. And while I drink just diet soda, I’m beginning to buy the argument that it just doesn’t matter. Between the artificial sweetener and carbonation, there’s got to be lots of bad stuff going on in soda that the body doesn’t like.

I broke down and had a soda on Sunday, but that’s only one in an entire week, which isn’t so bad.