May 14

A race, a game and a cookout :: A fine, full day

This morning we ran the Ft. Benning Reverse Sprint Triathlon. It is a short course, featuring a 5K run, a 20K ride and a 450-meter swim, in that order. Here we are after the finish:


This is the first triathlon we did last year, making this the first time we can compare times to previous efforts on the same course. I have a few things to be pleased with here.

The run is almost perfectly flat, and there are a lot of soldiers in the race, so they dominate the run, of course. You see them at the start and somewhere on the bike course or in the pool, if at all. So I’m not running with those guys, but I pulled away from a few people in the run. In fact, I didn’t get passed at all. My time was still slow, but I shaved a great deal off of last year’s run.

The bike is a super-fast ride with only two real rollers to think about. I was pleased with the ride last year, and I did it in three-and-a-half minutes less time this year. When you look at the average speed I was on the upper-end of average riders and almost break into the fast rider speeds. Only one guy dropped me here, and I’m not sure how. I looked down at my gears on that first roller, looked up and he was gone. I didn’t see him again until I passed him in the last 100 meters of the pool.

The pool was an improvement for me as well, if only because I was barely swimming last year. Remember, I was still dealing with shoulder problems and couldn’t even pretend to freestyle. I was disappointed in my swim today. The lanes were crowded for the first half of the short swim. Meanwhile, it takes me almost that entire distance to get warm anyway. I also had some energy excuses. (I even came up with a phrase for the latter, the red line of regret. I could have redlined the thing. I should have. Then I wouldn’t have regretted what I left in the pool because I was a little tired and winded. I could have been faster, but I didn’t overcome the red line of regret.)

Overall, my time was 17 minutes faster than last year’s race, which was very slow. This year’s was merely slow. But that’s a fair amount of improvement, with plenty of areas in which to continue to grow.

I’m bummed that I won’t get to do that race again for another year now. I want to measure these performances against another effort.

Today was senior day for Auburn baseball. Here the mother of one player and the grandmother of another shared a big hug and a kiss on the cheek of celebration. They’ve been coming to these games for four years. They’re going to miss each other.


They are sweet ladies.

Here’s another one. This is Morgan Jackson, Bo Jackson’s daughter. We’re buds:


This was the last time we’d see the team on the field this season:


My new Aubie gimmick — no one steal it! — is the Aubie selfie:


Another of Aubie, relaxing with the ladies.


Auburn lost the game, 8-1, bringing their season to a close with a 28-28 record (10-20 SEC). But the friendships are the thing: parents of five different players came to say goodbye to us today and then we had a cookout tonight with the nice group of people with whom we sit. That’s not a bad season at all, captured in one sentence.

After the cookout we picked up the traditional post-triathlon celebratory ice cream:

ice cream

May 14

Where I recall my economics coursework

We made it to 70 degrees today, late in the afternoon. The weather is perfectly pleasant, the spring we somehow missed this year. Soon it’ll be inexplicably hot and no one will be prepared. Acclimation is an important and understated feature, I’m sure of it. This summer we’re going to prove the point.

More baseball this evening. Another unfortunate defeat, 11-3, for the good guys. “A pair of five-run LSU innings were too much for Auburn’s baseball team to overcome” reads the story. That stings, especially since Auburn was only able to put together nine hits on the night. And yet, somehow, Auburn’s very slim post-season hopes remain alive until tomorrow. LSU, meanwhile, has now scored 48 runs in their last 23 innings of ball. They’re just good everywhere.

Things to read … because reading makes you good everywhere, too.

I talked about this in a panel last month. Consumers losing doctors with new insurance plans:

Some consumers who bought insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law are experiencing buyer’s remorse after realizing that their longtime doctors aren’t accepting the new plans.

Before the law took effect, experts warned that narrow networks could impact patients’ access to care, especially in cheaper plans. But with insurance cards now in hand, consumers are finding their access limited across all price ranges — sometimes even after they were told their plan would include their current doctor.

There will be a significant amount of second-tier disappointment and backlash as it relates to the ACA. People just don’t think about these sorts of things until they have too. And you only discover what your doctor is carrying when you need to see your doctor. That’s how more people are discovering what this legislation is doing. There’s a difference between “coverage” and care. People are just starting to figure that out. Next the premiums will surge. After that there’ll be some period of government “blaming” insurance companies and companies “blaming” the government. And then the bailouts begin. And people will still be looking for a new doctor. (Period.)

FIFA is easily one of the worst organizations in the world operating in daylight. And I like soccer. But what’s going on in Qatar should change that for a lot of people. ‘Untouchable’ FIFA, president Sepp Blatter need to answer for atrocities in Qatar:

Workers’ rights groups and Amnesty International have been shouting about this for a couple years, but Qatar often dismissed the claims, saying things weren’t that bad and advocacy groups were overplaying things. Still under international media pressure, led by the relentless Guardian newspaper in London, the government hired a law firm to conduct its own investigation.

It concluded this week that there have been 964 deaths of migrant workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh in 2012 and 2013 alone.

How we can look upon a sport that callous escapes me.

Here’s a unique analysis on the far east. Ties with Russia moving in China’s favor:

The highlight of the two-day state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to China on Tuesday is probably going to be the signing of the long-awaited 30-year mega gas deal. The Russian media have been speculating such a strong possibility.


Essentially, an unbalanced relationship is moving progressively in China’s favor by the day. For Russia, it is going to be an entirely new experience, historically speaking, to settle for the role of a junior partner in relations with China. Putin’s visit will be closely watched for signs of new thinking in Moscow.

Do you buy things? You’ve noticed this. Wholesale prices rise by most in more than a year:

Wholesale prices in the U.S. rose in April by the most in more than a year, reflecting broad-based gains that signal the threat of deflation is ebbing as the economy improves.

The 0.6% increase in the producer price index was the biggest since September 2012 and exceeded all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of 69 economists, figures from the Labor Department showed today. Over the past 12 months, costs climbed 2.1%. Food costs jumped by the most in three years.

When was the last time higher food costs was pitched to you as a good thing? Western droughts figure into that, they aren’t good. Putting more and more corn into ethanol figures into that. Your mileage varies on whether that’s good. It takes fuel to get those foodstuffs from the farm to your house. Have you noticed those prices lately? Up next is cost-push inflation.

Meanwhile, here’s a term you’ll want to learn: velocity of money – the speed at which a dollar moves from one transaction to another, the greater its velocity, and the quicker the economy grows. It has been on the decline for five years. Where will it go next? That’ll be a big indicator in the near and medium future.

Our immediate future holds an early morning and a sprint triathlon. So, until next time, happy racing.

May 14

My new spring wardrobe: My winter wardrobe

Of course we received a temporary fix to our air conditioner problems as the temperatures dropped 20 degrees. But today’s overcast skies didn’t include any rain, so I was able to get in a little bike ride. I took a simple 15 mile spin around the neighborhood as I try to save my legs — the legs I haven’t built up whatsoever recently — for the weekend.

I had two disparate thoughts on the bike.

On the flat stuff, which was much of the route I chose: I’ll have a great race this weekend!

On the hills, which are somewhat unavoidable: I’ll have a lousy race this weekend …

And so it goes.

So we bundled up in sweatshirts for tonight’s baseball game. An outdoor event which took place in May in Alabama:


In the sixth inning I was chosen to take part in a promotion. And I won! They walk you down to the dugout and they present two Yeti coolers. You open one and there’s a gift inside. Then you play Let’s Make A Deal. Do I want what I found in the white cooler? Or should I try my luck with the blue cooler?

The white cooler held a broken fungo bat and a few baseballs they haven’t been able to give away all season. They’ve sweetened the offer with a t-shirt that features the new baseball coach. It is a line art likeness of his face, but the mustache is creepy. So I opened the other cooler and won a gift card to Kinnucans. That’s great timing, I need new outdoors shoes, so I’ll be there tomorrow.

Oh, and Auburn lost 10-0 to LSU. LSU, which is a very good team, has scored 37 runs in their last 15 innings of play. Auburn is still looking to find itself, and this loss all but sealed their fate of being shut out of the postseason. The dream isn’t over yet, but drubbings like that aren’t a good way to start the last series of the season.

Things to read … because reading is always a good start.

This is gobsmackingly foolish. Newspaper nabs website’s article, claims most of it is ‘public domain’ — The Georgia Press Association’s non-action is disappointing as well.

This isn’t the sign of a healthy democracy. Where are the candidates? No contests in 20 of 35 Alabama Senate districts on June 3:

All 35 seats in the Alabama Senate are up for grabs this election year.

But candidates are sparse.

There are no contested races in 20 of the 35 districts in the June 3 primary, now less than three weeks away.

In fact, 14 senators – eight Republicans and six Democrats – will coast to new four-year terms with no opposition in either party.

Job growth! 2013 New & Expanding Industries Report highlights solid year of economic development in Alabama:

Companies launching operations in Alabama or expanding existing facilities in the state announced nearly 17,000 new jobs and more than $4.4 billion in capital investment during 2013, according to a report released today by Governor Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Commerce.

There are plenty of details at the link.

Are you building for mobile? Quantcast: Social drives 34 percent of mobile Web traffic, 17 percent of desktop traffic

In Kansas, Professors Must Now Watch What They Tweet

One of these is a former student of mine. He’s a sharp young man. I knew him when: Three From Samford Earn Fulbright Grants

May 14

‘You’re going to need a bigger sack’

Auburn hosted UAB in baseball tonight. The Blazers had a 10-game winning streak (the sixth longest in the nation) on the line. Auburn had beaten UAB 15 games in a row in the series. So naturally it came down to a bases loaded walkoff walk:

Auburn won, 6-5, and they did the traditional baseball “We won the pennant!” dogpile after that.

Just before the game several of the electricity transformers just behind the baseball stadium exploded. We were treated to green smoke and acrid smells for a while. Eventually the scoreboard and the lights were restored, and that became just one more story in the baseball season. Dude. Green smoke.

Speaking of things you never want to hear about: our air conditioner is definitely broken. Two days in a row I’ve worked in the yard and now I’m sweating as much inside as I do outside. (Though half the yard looks much nicer now, thanks.) So the A/C guy will be by tomorrow.

Here’s something that could happen at a lot more local television stations:

She got a lot of pats on the back for that around the office, I promise.

Things to read … because I put the words here.

This is the first story that the new staff for the Crimson has published. They did a nice job, especially considering it is an under-deadline, semester’s-end, big story assignment: Memorial service remembers Foreman as a ‘blessing’

The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Reputation Management

I only have a minor in economics, but if you’re counting on a late Easter to give the national engine a nudge … you’re living on the margins: Retail sales flatline, disappoint in April despite warmer weather

There is an impressive picture with this story, just so you know. Woman gets slithery surprise when she finds a 12-foot snake in her bathroom:

“When the officer showed up, he came with a brown paper sack,” she recalled. “I told him, ‘you’re going to need a bigger sack than that.’”

Gonzales, who’s been with the police department about five years, said he’d previously responded to three snake calls, but nothing like that.

“When I opened her bathroom door, there was a 12-foot python,” Gonzales recalled. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with a snake that large.”

He asked dispatchers to send animal control officers. Shortly afterward, another College Station officer arrived, also armed with a paper bag, and soon the animal control officer showed up with a 10-gallon bucket.

And then they had to fight to get the thing into a large garbage can. Close your doors.

May 14

Running in the rain

Received an email from a student that read, in part, “I just wanted to thank you for your character and personality throughout this year … ” So maybe I got something right this semester. I receive a few of those a year, and they are all appreciated and gratifying.

Today I graded things, working down the stack to the point where, really, it can’t grow back into something insurmountable. There is only 113 more things to read, if you’re keeping track.

We listened to baseball on the radio and the good guys won, 8-1.

We went for a run. We got caught in the rain:


This is the time of the year, suddenly, where it is warm. And after it rains it is proportionately more intense. On the one hand I could run under tree branches, jump up and shake one down upon me. On the other hand we have 90 percent humidity.

I’d much rather ride my bike in the rain. I don’t know why, but riding in it is just amusing. Running is something else. At least the cleanup is easier.

Things to read … because reading in the rain would be the best.

This is just hard to conceive. After 6 siblings lose houses in Limestone tornado, family ‘home place’ burns week later:

April 28 was the only time the Farrar siblings didn’t consider living in close proximity a good thing. The homes of six of the seven siblings were struck by the EF-3 tornado that ripped through western Limestone County just before 5 p.m., but the family emerged from a nearby storm shelter grateful. They were all unharmed and “the home place,” built by their late mother and father, sustained the least damage of any of the five homes.

The siblings, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren moved into temporary housing in local motels and tried to regroup.

Then, exactly one week later, on Monday, May 5, the home place on Parker Road burned after catching fire when power was restored to the area.

This sounds like a lovely family. IRONMAN Mourns Passing of Dean Bullock:

It is with great sadness that we pass on the news that 2013 Kona Inspired winner, Dean Bullock, succumbed Thursday to the brain cancer that forced him to call it a day at the IRONMAN World Championship last October.

A day after Bullock was pulled off the bike course, his wife and nine children did the marathon course for him to take care of his “unfinished business.”


Last August, Gaylia Osterlund wrote a profile on Bullock. “He talked about death openly,” Osterlund remembers of her interview. “He told me if he died tomorrow or when he was 100, he did not want to be remembered for racing. He wanted to be remembered for his now 37 years of marriage, his kids, grandkids and his faith in his Heavenly Father. He truly believed nothing else mattered.”

He was 59, running the Ironman and had 17 grandchildren.

This one is unique: Denmark’s unprecedented media scandal – A gossip mag takes a page from News of the World’s playbook.

Analytics are the key here: Internal innovation report says the New York Times needs to up its digital game or else.

Have a nice day: ‘We Kill People Based on Metadata’.