The power of running … and the running community

Running equals sneakers plus putting one foot in front of the other. Period. Or I suppose some people might even eliminate the sneakers. The point is that it’s the easiest possible physical activity to get started with. At least in theory. In practice, there seems to be a mental block that convinces many people that they couldn’t possibly do that one foot in front of the other thing. Too hard. Impossible.

The wonderful news is that the community of everyday people who run – In some capacity or other – has grown exponentially. There are the elite (professional) runners, who are simply astounding and a joy to watch. And there are the very serious aspirational runners, who strive for personal bests that most of us mere mortals can only dream of. And then there are the rest of us, the hundreds of thousands who lace up and head outdoors just for our own personal goals and satisfaction. It’s all good.

A few of those serious aspirational runners are missing the “welcoming running community” gene that applauds everyone who laces up and heads out the door. Those are the precious few who scorn the concept of finisher medals for all finishers, regardless of time: “Why should everybody get a medal; they didn’t win.” The precious few who lament how the running newbies crowd their race venue and get in the way. Those few who think that recreational runners have no place in their world of I’m-faster-than-you-are racing.

Thankfully, runners who are missing the welcome-all gene are very few and far between. In fact, there possibly is no more welcoming group in the world than runners. And surely the world should rejoice to see so many people of every size, shape and age getting out and giving running a try. Folks, it’s not only fun and surprisingly satisfying, it’s good for you! Continue reading

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All Guns In US Recalled After One Found Covered In Romaine Lettuce — The Out And Abouter

More brilliant satire from Out and Abouter!

“We just can’t be too careful when it comes to the possible risk of E. coli contamination,” said the head of the CDC, Ned Sanders, speaking to reporters shortly after his agency informed Americans they would need to turn in their guns, in the wake of a firearm being found in close proximity to some romaine […]

via All Guns In US Recalled After One Found Covered In Romaine Lettuce — The Out And Abouter

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China: empires come and empires go … and come back again

The New York Times is running a 5-part series on China, and it makes for fascinating reading and plenty of thinking. The first article, this past Saturday, was entitled “The Land that failed to fail”. The second article appeared almost immediately thereafter, called “The American dream is alive. In China.” Both titles give you a sense that there is a lot to absorb and understand about China, both past and present. In the so-called West, for decades we were accustomed to thinking of China as a poor dictatorship, a developing country under oppressive rule. As things started to change in the aftermath of the truly failed “Cultural Revolution” of Chairman Mao, the West may have come to see that China was indeed “on the move”, becoming a success story for a developing country. But there is so, so much more to the China story. It has a very, very long history with many extraordinary firsts to be proud of. With several centuries-long empires of amazing scope and scale. With many of the world’s important innovations across millennia. A diversity of populations and religions absorbed into one vast empire. Trading and interacting with many other cultures through the ancient and now not-so ancient Silk Road.

Years and years ago, an esteemed professor at my university gave a talk on being a good teacher. He used an illustration that stayed with me. It brilliantly illustrated how important it is to keep an open mind and to be able to think from different perspectives. I can’t find the illustration anywhere online, so you’ll have to imagine it:

A line drawing of an explorer in a pith helmet, holding a magnifying glass and looking carefully at the ground right in front of him. From his perspective, he’s exploring in a large geological depression, but when viewed from a greater distance, the depression in which he’s working is one ENORMOUS footstep! Continue reading

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Rake News from Finland

Thanks for sharing the longstanding culture of forest raking in Finland, Bill!

Common Sense and Whiskey

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How to lead a good life, from an unlikely source

There’s no doubt about it, we’re not all going to agree on what constitutes a “good life”. Some people will measure a good life in terms of good health, some in terms of their wealth, some in terms of the strength of their circle of family and friends, and some by personal accomplishments. Others will measure a good life by the fulfilment they feel from contributing to making the world a better place, however small that contribution may seem. The list is long. As has become abundantly clear recently, we’re never all going to agree on what making the world a better place means, but hopefully we can all agree that making others feel good helps us feel good, too. That’s a good starting point. In fact, in Cynthia Reyes’ excellent blog post today, she makes the point that when life brings you disappointments and you struggle to get past them, helping others is one thing that can lift you up.

It turns out that the real experts on the definition of a good life are dogs. I hate to have to admit this, because I am a lifelong cat person. However, one cannot argue with the truth. This particular truth is illustrated by a story that has been widely distributed across the Internet, whose original author appears to be unknown. It concerns a family whose family dog was dying of cancer.  It had been arranged to have the beloved pet euthanized. The parents decided to take their 6-year old son with them to the vet’s, so they’d all be together at the end of their pet’s life. As the dog breathed his last and the family petted the dog for the final time, the parents and vet wondered aloud about why humans live for so long and dogs live for such a short time.

The young boy didn’t hesitate to reply. He said, ‘People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?’ The six-year-old continued, ‘Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.’ Continue reading

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American Spy Plane Detects Canadians Conducting Peace Exercises Along US Border

More Out and Abouter satire that’s too good not to share. We have to be able to laugh, right?!

The Out And Abouter

img_8306 Alarming footage of Canadians engaging in peace games within sight of the U.S. border. A clear provocation.

In a flagrant escalation of their agenda of utter non-aggression, and a continuation of their publicly stated desire to just get along, the Canadians have today made good on their threats to conduct large-scale peace games in close proximity to the uncontested Canada-U.S. border. 

A spokesperson for the CIA has released footage of the Canadians engaging in such inflammatory actions as looking at the United States border, playing pick-up hockey in close proximity to said border (while openly inviting their American counterparts to join them), and waving good-naturedly. The images were reportedly captured by a high-altitude surveillance drone that was sent aloft to search for signs of Democrats illegally using democracy to win elections. It was while doing this that the spy plane stumbled across the Canuck’s worryingly inoffensive actions.

“It appears the Canadians…

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100 years of Remembrance Days: what we remember and what we forget

November 11, 2018. One hundred years since the signing of the. Armistice that ended World War I.  One hundred years of remembering the many, many sacrifices made by millions upon millions of people. Horrific sacrifices. Heartbreaking sacrifices. For far too many, the ultimate sacrifice. Sacrifices made by countless young people – on both “sides” – who had little or nothing to do with the decisions that led to the war in the first place.

What we remember

Every year in most towns and cities in Canada, and I assume most places in the western world, people of all generations come together to honour those who have served and those who have laid down their lives in past wars, especially WWI. Our town happens to be located in close proximity to Base Gagetown, the largest military training base in Canada, and as a result we have an extremely impressive and moving parade of service men and women marching in our Remembrance Day ceremony each year. It’s a sight that stays with you. The few remaining WWII veterans leading the way, with fewer and fewer each year. Then of course there are a few vets from the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and many who have served in Afghanistan, sometimes several times. Not to mention many dangerous peace-keeping missions. To watch all those soldiers, probably spanning three generations or even four, marching proudly in uniform, is to be reminded in a profoundly moving way of just what our service men and women sacrifice in taking on the role of protecting our country and our freedoms. The applause for the men and women in uniform as they march past all the spectators is loud and heartfelt. Continue reading

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