Category Archives: Ramblings

Scouting new bike commute route

Since I got offered a job at Union High School out in Camas, WA, I’ve been resigned to having to drive out there to commute come September. This would be the first real job where I’ve had to drive to work. All my other jobs I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to walk, take public transit, bike, or run to. Not this one.

However, since bike commuting 20-24 miles round-trip from home to Scappoose High School for my student teaching gig, I’ve been toying with the idea of maybe bike commuting out to Union one day a week. So today, I figured I’d see what it takes to get out there by bike. Here are the details on Garmin Connect (be sure to click the “play” button).

It was a bit tough going over the ascent on the I-205 bridge, but at least that was early on in the route. Another rough ascent was going up Ellensburg Rd in Vancouver, though, again, it was early on. Going back down those descents was fun, though.

Here was the ultimate destination… the 400 Building at Union HS, the Visual and Performing Arts building.
400 Building
I’ll be in Room 424. It took 1:15 to go the 16-ish miles from home to here. I could probably cut it down by 5 minutes after accounting for a slight detour to a friend’s house, making a couple of wrong turns, and not being exactly sure where I needed to go. On the way back I decided to take the more scenic route on Marine Dr. Not such a grand idea since I ended up riding a few miles into a headwind. Thinking about lunch kept me going.

Grand total: 34.55 miles in 2:36:50, all powered by one Accelerade gel. A completely do-able ride, maybe not 5 days a week do-able, more like 1-2 days a week do-able.

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Lack of training

Only 73 miles of running for the month of May. And this on only 3 runs (2 50K races and 1 11 mile training run). Not so good. On the upside, I biked 404 miles this month. Can’t wait for this bike commuting thing to end.

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Me at Diamond Valley Lake Marathon




One of many Maniacs at the race

Originally uploaded by jakerome.

jakerome was out there taking pictures of runners. Here’s his shot of me.

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If I only knew

I read this interesting piece from Science Daily:


New Computer Program Enables Powerful Data Analysis On Small Computers

ScienceDaily (2009-01-10) — A powerful new tool that can extract features and patterns from enormously large and complex data sets has been developed. The tool — a set of problem-solving calculations known as an algorithm — is compact enough to run on computers with as little as two gigabytes of memory.

Pretty exciting stuff. Then I read:

A mathematical tool to extract and visualize useful features from data sets has existed for nearly 40 years – in theory. Called the Morse-Smale complex, it partitions sets by similarity of features and encodes them into mathematical terms. But working with the Morse-Smale complex is not easy. “It’s a powerful language. But a cost of that, is that using it meaningfully for practical applications is very difficult,” Gyulassy said.

What a minute… it that Smale guy the same Smale I took numerical methods from at Berkeley? Holy crap! If I only knew what a mathematical big shot he was (Erdos number 4) I might have paid more attention in that class.

BTW, the A- I got in that class pushed my GPA a smidge above 3.0. And I took the final exam the day after my graduation ceremony.

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This is completely weird

I’m not sure what the make of this.

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Science Debate 2008: Obama vs McCain

Two weeks ago Barack Obama submitted responses to 14 questions about science and the future of the United States. “These questions are broad enough to allow for wide variations in response, but they are specific enough to help guide the discussion toward many of the largest and most important unresolved challenges currently facing the United States.” These weren’t trivial questions. Nobel laureates, university presidents, every major scientific organization, and others contributed to the formulation of these questions. Today, John McCain released his responses to those questions. A side-by-side comparison of their responses has been posted at Science Debate 2008.

I’m going to try to carve out some time to read the comparison. But one thing that immediately jumped out at me was the contrast between their responses to question 4 about education

A comparison of 15-year-olds in 30 wealthy nations found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 17th, while average U.S. math scores ranked 24th. What role do you think the federal government should play in preparing K-12 students for the science and technology driven 21st Century?

Obama’s leading paragraph is (emphasis mine)

All American citizens need high quality STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education that inspires them to know more about the world around them, engages them in exploring challenging questions, and involves them in high quality intellectual work. STEM education is no longer only for those pursuing STEM careers; it should enable all citizens to solve problems, collaborate, weigh evidence, and communicate ideas. I will work to ensure that all Americans, including those in traditionally underrepresented groups, have the knowledge and skills they need to engage in society, innovate in our world, and compete in the global economy.

McCain’s leading paragraph is (emphasis mine)

My Administration will promote economic policies that will spur economic growth and a focus on an innovative economy. Critical to these efforts is the creation of the best trained, best prepared workforce to drive this economy through the 21st century. America’s ability to compete in the global market is dependent on the availability of a skilled workforce. Less than 20 percent of our undergraduate students obtaining degrees in math or science, and the number of computer science majors have fallen by half over the last eight years. America must address these trends in education and training if it hopes to compete successfully.

There seems to be a fundamental difference in how to two candidates view the purpose of education. To McCain, education is a means to an end; people are just cogs in a machine and education makes for successful cogs. For Obama, education is a pathway towards wisdom.

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US Olympic marathoner seals and mows

This is why I’ll be much more interested in the less flashier sports than, say, mens basketball, when the Beijing 2008 Olympic games begin.

Sell, 30, still doesn’t own a cell phone. He seals his own driveway. Just last week, he came home during his lunch break from Home Depot in Rochester Hills – where he works in the garden department as part of the Olympic sponsor’s jobs program – and mowed the grass, said Clint Verran, his teammate on the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project.

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