What are some of the great examples of coincidence?

My answer to the above question, posted on Quora…

In the early 1980s, I was hitchhiking from Massachusetts to Virginia to attend a wedding. My brother dropped me off at the junction of the Mass Pike and route 495 that morning, and, about ten minutes later, a trucker picked me up. I rode with him all the way to Baltimore… a great first ride.

More than two weeks later, after visiting Virginia, Illinois, and Wisconsin, I was hitchhiking home and my ride dropped me off after sunset at the junction of 495 and the Mass Pike. Getting rides after dark is almost impossible, so I was facing sleeping out or walking 15 miles home.

While standing there by the side of the highway, thinking through my options, I jumped straight up in the air when a truck hit the brakes so hard the tires smoked and the truck looked like it was about to jack-knife. After the truck stopped a few yards from me, I ran up to the passenger side and opened the door; there was my friend from the first day of my trip. It turned out that he lived about a mile from my house and he dropped me off right at my street. He was so stunned that he had given me both the first and last ride of my trip that he couldn’t stop exclaiming about it during the drive.

Nevertheless, he could not have been any more astonished than I was, and it still stands out in my mind as one of the most impressive coincidences of my life.

The original of my answer: http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-great-examples-of-coincidence/answer/Jorah-Lavin

1,000 sword cuts: Happy New Year!

January 3, 2015

I just completed my test for sixth kyu level in aikido. This is the very first test you take as a new student. We did testing during our dojo’s New Year celebration. We marked the event (the new year, not my test! :-) ) by performing 1,000 swings of our wooden swords. I found the exercise interesting and really painful. I’m barely able to hold my hands up to type this! To avoid having this difficulty next year, I’m thinking of practicing the cuts once a week. I also think there is something to learn in doing a motion that seems so simple on the outside, but may have depths to explore.

It was a pretty big day for several folks in our little school. Senior student Jason got his USAF teaching license, Brenda got her 3rd Dan, and Eric passed his 1st kyu test.

My new Road ID thingy


Fitness folks, guess what? I’ve started a light exercise program again. After two years (or has it been three?) I’m back in the game–in a small way, at least. I’m doing a light lifting/bodyweight workout and riding about 40 miles a week on my bike, working up to a planned 60 miles per week commuting.

As part of being out on the road a lot, I’ve recently realized that having some ID on me would be good if I’m in a wreck, and decided to go with the “Road ID” thing; it’s like a dog tag. The version I got has a phone number the first responders can call to learn about who I am and any medical conditions I have.

If you’re interested, and use the link below, I’ll get a little credit toward any future purchases I make on their site…

(in other words… full disclosure, I will benefit if you use that particular link)

…update as of July 6: and here it is!


My Road ID wristband


Starting a new adventure… learning Spanish

Affiliate link to the program

The Language Hacking Guide

I’ve been having fun for the last few weeks, taking lessons in basic Spanish using the duolingo.com iPhone app. I’ll try to post regular updates here as I move forward. So far, this is the most excited I’ve been about learning something new since I started learning to knit. One reason I’m excited is that I found a very interesting site and program called “Fluent in 3 months,” by a very funny guy who calls himself ‘Benny the Irish Polyglot,’ which focuses on an idea he calls language hacking. I love the very pragmatic approach he advocates; so much so that I bought his Speak from Day 1 training program. I’ll let you know how it works out for me.

Old nerd

Back in the 1970s, when I was a teen-aged nerd, being a nerd was horrible. People made fun of you, you couldn’t talk to girls, you probably had bad clothes and bad glasses.

Being a nerd when you’re in your 50s is entirely different. You’re probably being paid for many of the qualities that made you a nerd in the first place.

There’s no need to (attempt to) hide your nerd status, since everyone around you already knows you’re a nerd and accepts you for that. Besides, there’s a lot more social acceptance for nerds and you are also probably hanging around with–or are married to–other nerds.

You may also find that you just don’t care as much what people think of you!

First on-air contact with my HT

I made my first on-air contact on Sunday. I got a warm reception from some folks on the repeaters, including a chat with a gentleman in Goose Creek, SC, about 160 miles south of here. Turns out that some of the repeaters in South Carolina are networked together on the weekend.

I was surprisingly nervous putting my call out for the first time!

“Kilo kilo four lima zulu Quebec, monitoring”

CQ, CQ, CQ This is KK4LZQ calling

CQ, CQ, CQ calling CQ 2 meters. This is KK4LZQ calling. Kilo Kilo Four Lima Zulu Quebec, KK4LZQ in Indian Land calling.

…or words to that effect. I haven’t done it yet, but the first time I call CQ I’ll probably say something like that. I just got my amateur radio license from the FCC this past Thursday, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my new radio. I have a fear of sounding utterly stupid on my first contact, so I’m planning to listen for a few days before keying the mic for the first time..

The gun lobby is jerking you around (so’s the anti-gun lobby)

There have been a number of high-profile shootings this year, including the killings at the Sikh Temple, the “Batman” killings at the Colorado movie theater, and what I understand to be a shootout that started when a constable tried to serve an eviction notice.

As is often the case, media coverage (if it bleeds, it leads) is intense after one of these incidents, even when—as it appears with the “Empire State Building” shooting and the Texas A&M-neighborhood shooting—the events are not strictly of the same sort. The shooting of the constable might not have even made the national news if it hadn’t seemed on first report to fit the ‘mass shootings’ model. Don’t believe me? Did you hear about the “weekend of violence” in Chicago at the end of August? Nine dead and another 37 wounded. But… no nationwide headlines, because these are “ordinary” killings. As a side note, why are the seven folks at the Sikh temple more newsworthy than the nine in Chicago? Bear with me.

After each of the mass murders in the last decade, you can count on seeing certain things in the media…

Continue reading

Weishi Shaver

This has to be one of the best bits of packaging I’ve ever seen. I bought this product when I was first trying to move away from using disposable razors. I have moved on to much better razors, but I’ve kept this package.

One of the greatest packages in history

Entirely Luster

Here are the key portions of the English text:

“Weishi Attend Entirely Luster”

Nobleness: Made of noble cuprum metal and apply advanced computer product line proceeding supercicies plating disposal.
Layont: outfit 5 pieces of stainless steel double-sided blades and a cleaning brush.

Needlessly load and unload shaver
Inimitable rotating handle.

A tiny fragment of insight this morning…

A few months ago I realized that just working out wasn’t helping me make any progress on my goal of getting lean. I’d been seeing quite a few people on fitocracy.com talking about the success they were having with Intermittent Fasting and LeanGains. I read up on these (different but related) plans and realized that I was unlikely to be willing to put up with the careful menu planning and calculations that I feel are needed or at least implied by LeanGains, so I decided to go with IF—along with a sloppy-casual nod to LeanGains, meaning I’d try to generally estimate my macros. I knew that this approach would slow down my fat loss, but I’m fine with that. I’m not in an particular hurry, and I’ve heard for years that losing weight fast tends not to be sustainable.

Anyway, before starting on IF in early March, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to stand the fasts. I have been eating huge breakfasts all of my life, often having two full breakfasts in a single morning. I was surprised and gratified to discover that I could skip breakfast with no huge hunger pains. My biggest ‘symptom’ was a sort of antsy feeling that I should stop for breakfast on the way to work. I also miss my morning eggs, so I’ve been trying to have breakfast-type foods now and then for dinner.

So, I’ve been doing 16/8 fasts most days for three months, life is good, and I can tell by looking in the mirror that I’m gradually getting leaner. Sometimes I get frustrated by not making faster progress (despite my best intentions, I’m often not very patient), and I know that part of the problem is simply that I’m still eating a lot of food. I am eating about the same size dinners, but my lunches have grown.

This weekend, more or less by accident, we ate very lightly. I had a salad for lunch on Saturday, dinner was chops and more salad. On Sunday I had leftover chops and salad for lunch, and supper was spinach salad with grilled chicken. Four meals in a row that matched my concept of “what I should be eating.” I even kept my ice cream consumption to a minimum.

Today I found myself walking around at work feeling …skinny. And I realized that I was alarmed by the sensation. As I became aware of all of this, a tiny light bulb lit up in my mind.

I equate being skinny with having cancer.

The last time I was this lean was probably back in late 1995 into early 1996, from the time I started having symptoms related to my stomach cancer through my surgery and recovery. I went from ~195 lbs in August to 155 lbs in December of ’95. Since then, I’ve been as heavy as 198 and as light as 178, but mostly have hovered around 190. Even when I weighed 178, it was ‘skinnyfat,’ meaning I wasn’t very fat, but I had no muscle.

I believe now that some (at least) of my overeating is a way for my subconscious mind to fend off being skinny!

I’ve got to work through this in my mind, because I really want to get down to about 10-12% BF!