Know when to reevaluate your goals (running update)

I thought I'd do something a little different here and move the post to early in the week, since the podcast posts at the end of the week. I'm not really sure if I can keep up a new publishing schedule like this, but there's only one way to find out, right? If need be, I'll just go back to Thursdays.

Anyway, onward.

Some of you might be aware that I set a goal to run 1,000 miles this year.

It's been almost 11 months since I started training for a half marathon, which I ran last November.

I went into that training with no time expectations, and by the time I got through the summer heat and really settled in, I decided I'd set a goal of 10-minute, 40-second miles (which from now on I'll format like 10:40 so as to not only sound like I know what I'm talking about, but save some space). I was right around that (a little behind — I finished in 2:21:12, which is a total of eight seconds behind over the course of 13.1 miles, if my math is correct).

I've kept running, which, I understand, is unusual for someone *cough cough* my age who only just started running. And like I said, I set a goal of 1,000 miles for the year.

I'm going to keep that goal, knowing that, as it gets warmer, I'm going to taper some miles. Sure, I'm still putting in some miles while it's 85 and humid, but given how early in the year the heat's hit, I expect we'll see some 100-plus weeks.

I'm also going to have a couple of weeks when I know I'm going to not run or maybe just get out for a few miles once or twice. My typical week consists of three, maybe four runs for a total of between 22 and 27 miles. This week will be more like 5 or 6 runs at a total of around 20 miles. Those weeks we have friends coming into town, we'll wind up walking 25-30 miles, and I won't run at all. I'll be out of town on vacation for a week and a half, and I'll run sporadically and enjoy myself instead.

That said, if you watch the progress on the right side of the website, you'll see I'm averaging more than the 2.75 miles a day I need to reach 1,000 on the year. I'm also well over the 85 miles per month, so I'm giving myself some breathing room.

All this time, I've been maintaining my goal of running at 10:40 a mile, and I realized on a run Monday that I need to stop that. I need to give myself the opportunity to fail as the weather gets less runner-friendly. I've been setting PRs almost every week at one or more of some of my more common distances (2, 7 and 12 miles).

I'm moving my goal up to 10:00, and I'll revisit that in September. That'll also make the math easier for me along the way (I have Runkeeper tell me where I am every quarter mile — just time and distance — and I calculate where I am compared to my goal to keep myself focused a little bit).

This is a good reminder to reevaluate your other goals, too. If you're knocking your goals out of the park, maybe it's time to set more difficult goals. And...go!


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Josh: The Podcast, Episode 2: Of earthquakes and gardens

Links to stuff I talk about:
• Big earthquakes hit Japan and Ecuador over the weekend
Pea sprouts are coming in! Also, we have basil and oregano!
Morgan Spurlock's "Inside Man"
Fire & Wine at Foxy Loxy Cafe in Savannah
The fun at the New York primaries
1 Million Cups
Foosye
Dean McCraw at McCraw Energy
David Simon on WTF with Marc Maron
Donald Trump flubs, refers to 9/11 as 7-Eleven
American Psycho: The Musical
Morgan Spurlock on Tim Ferriss' podcast

Bonus material for patrons is a discussion of balance in the universe, including the concept of the sefirot and what comedian Joey Diaz calls the universe's vig (and here's a link to Diaz's podcast).

Don't forget to visit the Patreon page and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud or wherever else you usually get your podcasts. Reviews in those spots will help people find the show! You can also get the RSS feed here.

See more episodes on the podcasts page.

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Date Night Savannah: Fire & Wine at Foxy Loxy


I was lucky enough to get a Saturday evening off recently and saw a post from one of my favorite cafes in the neighborhood, Foxy Loxy.

It turns out that every Saturday night from 7-11, they put together some s'mores kits, knock half off their bottles of wine, and light two fire pits in their courtyard.

It really is a beautiful, relaxing night with great people-watching. We shared a bottle of rosé and skipped the s'mores, but if we'd gone with the dessert in addition to the wine, we would have come in under $30 for a lovely evening together.

You can bet anytime I take a day shift instead of my usual evening shift on a Saturday, you can find us in the courtyard at Foxy Loxy for a couple of hours. Hope to catch you there!

Guess what? I’m launching a podcast!

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I've finally decided to launch a podcast. It's been in the works for a while. I had to learn some stuff. I had to make some decisions on platforms, equipment, what it's going to be, if and how it's going to make money and all that stuff.

Anyway, I'm excited to get it started.

The introductory episode is Episode 0; you can find it here. Episode 1: Impossible, is also up, here.

Go to podcasts page for subscription information.

I'm also launching a Patreon campaign with it. Go check it out.

Josh: The Podcast, Episode 1: Impossible

Links to stuff I talk about:
"It's All Happening" podcast with Joi Ito
Trump shouts down RNC
Breakthrough Starshot Initiative
Nanobots in the blood
SENS Foundation
Goat busts out, goes to Starbucks
Illustrator Alejo Porras
1 Million Cups
Art Berg
The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan
"Nature: India's Wandering Lions"

Bonus material for patrons is a discussion on the changing role of news media, particularly from the print side, over the years. I mention this photo collection.

Don't forget to visit the Patreon page and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud or wherever else you usually get your podcasts. Reviews in those spots will help people find the show! You can also get the RSS feed here.

See more episodes on the podcasts page.

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Josh: The Podcast, Episode 0: Introductions

Welcome to the show! This episode is just an introduction, so it's short, without many notes or links. I talk about what to expect for the show, where it might head someday and all that.

I drink a cup of Juggernaut by PERC, brewed as regular ol' drip coffee instead of espresso.

Don't forget to visit the Patreon page and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud or wherever else you usually get your podcasts. Reviews in those spots will help people find the show! You can also get the RSS feed here.

See more episodes on the podcasts page.

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About a book: The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan

Zoltan Istvan is running for president this year, as a member of the Transhumanist Party.

He has some reasonable ideas amidst the stuff that you know will keep him out of serious running. On the one hand, he wants good education for everyone, a flat tax and a has a Libertarian stance on recreational drugs. On the other hand, the party platform has stuff like phasing out jobs for humans, creating rights for cyborgs and stressing secular values.

If his novel, The Transhumanist Wager, however, is more of the platform manifesto it seems to be, he'd be a bit on the dangerous side for the world.

The novel itself paints a picture of a futuristic, science-based capitalist near-Utopia that really is not all that far off. People will live forever in good health thanks to medical procedures that renew our systems and a change in telomerase rates (that's something SENS is actually working on in real life — I've written about them here before) and the introduction of mechanical implants.

The nation that develops this technology, Transhumania, exists because some of the world's great scientists, under the direction of American movement leader Jethro Knights, are forced out of their own countries for their views on transhumanism, the idea that humans can evolve into something greater.

The anti-transhuman movement is driven in large part by religious groups in the U.S., and in particular by Reverend Belinas, a megachurch leader with deep political connections. He advises the president and many members of Congress, as well as some of the country's wealthiest individuals.

The world's top powers get together and decide to put an ultimatum on Transhumania, but Knights goes before their leaders and demands their surrender. The powers eventually kidnap Knights, but he escapes thanks to some of Transhumania's inventions and a chip implanted in his neck. When the top nations attack Transhumania, it turns out the defense systems are so complex there are barely any injuries on Transhumania's side; meanwhile, redirected rockets are responsible for the allies hitting each other's ships, killing thousands.

At this point, Transhumania puts its military might to work, letting all the countries know which symbolically powerful landmarks will be wiped out so that people can be cleared away. Knights' forces then destroy religious and political landmarks, from the Vatican, Mecca and the Western Wall to Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the White House.

Once the centers of superstition and power are wiped out, the reasoning goes, science can take over.

After this attack, Knights launches into a speech that feels as long and overwrought as John Galt's 98-page monster in Atlas Shrugged (it's not nearly that long, but sometimes it feels like it). Join us and live forever, Knights says, or we're just going to leave you behind. You're to be well-educated and productive, or we might as well just kill you and have you stop using our resources. There are too many people; decide which side you'd like to be on.

The book ends with some medical science at work; medical science that we're headed toward in real life. Morgan Spurlock saw some of it in Season 2, Episode 2 of "Inside Man" (see him talking about it a little bit here).

There's certainly some validity to transhumanism. We're not ready for it in our current generation, I don't think; it requires allowing everyone to rise on their own merit, turning ego only to improving oneself without allowing for competition. The kind of empathy transhumanism allows is evolutionary, not individual — we're not out to save all lives, just the lives that will help advance humans.

But read the book. Get educated. For as alarming as the anti-religion, anti-nation bits are, there's a new perspective that a growing population is finding worthwhile.

Unbiased vs. objective: The real role of media

I was having a discussion with someone recently about media bias, and more specifically about how reporters are biased.

"Of course they are," I said. "They're human. Their job is not to be unbiased, it's to be objective."

Let me explain.

People are biased. We like some candidates better than others. We like some sports teams better than others. We like some dog breeds better than others. We like some foods better than others.

If you take away the biases a person has built up, you take away something of the essence of the person. Something essential — something that maybe led them into writing, into reporting, into being the sort of person people trust enough to talk to.

Objectivity, on the other hand (at least from a journalistic standpoint), is coming at an issue from multiple angles, reporting as many reasonable angles as possible (hang on, we'll get there), and allowing people (readers, viewers, etc.) to reach their own conclusions.

Why do so many journalists seem to have a liberal bias? Because something on the order of 70% of journalists (according to the recurring study The American Journalist) claim liberal views.

So, there's the bias. Now take that bit of information and allow it to color how you take in stories. You should ask your reporters to give you as much information as possible, not tell you how to think about it.

Now, what do I mean as many reasonable angles as possible?

I mean, at some point, you have to stop digging and just get the information out. If you're doing a story on the Patterson-Gimlin footage, maybe you find someone who thinks it was really Bigfoot, maybe you find someone who things it was a Bigfoot costume, and maybe — just maybe — you find someone who thinks it was an alien. But you can't just keep going down the spiral, looking for someone who thinks it was a giant deformed rabbit and claims he has the DNA to prove it.

Even when the Fairness Doctrine was really in effect, it allowed media outlets to stop at some point. You had to give Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders equal time, but you were under no obligation to the Zoltan Istvans of the world.

Not that I don't think Zoltan Istvan wouldn't make a wonderful president. Just he's not exactly really in the running.

We're certainly in an interesting time in journalism. More than ever before, we have the ability to say, simply, "this happened," and we can do it by showing you. But I think journalism really needs to do well at providing context.

To truly act in the public interest, media needs to go back to their role as "The Fourth Estate" — that body, independent of government control, that keeps the power in check.

Journalists aren't just supposed to tell you what the power elite (be it the government, celebrities or big business) are up to, but also provide you with some clues as to what it means in your life.

You should still take in stories with an eye toward understanding where the reporter comes from, but also understand that the reporter's job, fundamentally, is to provide you with more than just a report of what happened. Understand also that, whatever the journalist's biases, most reporters will have some history reporting on the same topic over and over again, so will have wider material to draw on than you will — the same way that you'll have better insight into your job than the journalist will.

I do want to touch a little on news consumer responsibility, too.

Inasmuch as I think it's up to a good journalist to come at stories objectively — give me information and context without judgment — it's up to me as a news consumer to take the information, determine what is fact, what is opinion and what is context. It's also up to me to determine whether I think the journalist fulfills his or her job, but after I do that, it's up to me to determine whether I consume news from that source again, not whether the journalist should be fired.

It's also incumbent upon me to take in news from multiple sources, preferably with a variety of perceived biases — the stuff that overlaps in reports is fact and/or context, the rest is commentary.

It's not my job as a news consumer — and, let's be honest, in this season, a voter — to either take all information without consideration, or to take out my frustrations on people who have presumably been hired and retained because they're good at what they do.

Rebounding

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It occurs to me that you can't have good days without bad days.

Running is front of mind for me, because I do it so often.

Saturday, I ran what Runkeeper tells me was my 99th fastest 3-mile run. Ugh. It was crap. I knew it was going to be crap, of course. Thursday had been St. Patrick's Day, and I partied it up with the best of the Savannahians. OK, let's be honest, I was definitely second tier. That morning, I was out for a run and by 6:30 a.m., people were already well into their second round of brats and second cases of beers.

By Monday, I ran my fastest seven-miler and then Tuesday was my third fastest 3-mile run. Good days, rebounding from the bad ones.

This happens everywhere, though. In sales, at work, whatever. Take the bad days as lessons if you want, but whatever you do, don't use them as fodder for quitting. Use them as motivation to not only have, but also enjoy, the good days.

Have elections officials lost faith in the American voter?

I spent a little bit of time the other night piecing together the photos below of huge lines and crowds from the primaries in Arizona and the caucuses in Idaho and Utah.

Some people in Arizona were voting two and half hours after polls closed — after standing in line for three or more hours.

In Idaho and Utah, officials had to open not only auxiliary rooms to handle caucus-goers, but in some cases auxiliary buildings.

In both Arizona and Utah, they ran out of official ballots and had to hand out provisional ballots, which means they'll need to verify all the voters are actually registered, since there's no way to determine whether the provisional ballots were handed out because there were no official ballots or because the voter was supposed to fill out a provisional ballot.

How did officials underestimate the number of voters who turned out so badly? Do they think people just aren't interested in voting, despite the fact that we've had record turnouts throughout primary season?

It really is a shame. I don't have any answers as to how to fix this election system, but it definitely needs to be fixed.