4:02.42 !!!


And typically, she kicked my ass.  Okay, I helped train her, so she got to learn from my training mistakes, but really she kicked my ass because she’s skinny and dedicated.

Her official time in the Winterthur Marathon was 4:02.42!  So she ran almost a half an hour faster than me.  And I should mention, I ran the Munchen marathon, which is flat, and considered a pretty fast track.  The Winterthur marthon has significant hills (not a lot, but a little matters in a marathon), and is mostly gravel.  This is pleasant to run on, but it’s not the fastest, as you have to pay attention to irregularities in the road.  If I had to guess, Bettina woulda run in at 3:50 on a fast Marathon track.  So fucking kudos to Bettina!

Heres a  picture of her finishing:

Bettina comin across that line


Bettina and I are taking place in the Fit for Life Trophy, a program run by Fit for Life magazine, created to encourage people to diversify their training. To satisfy the trophy requirements you have to take part in sporting events for 6 different types of event. Of the available choices, Bettina an I are planning on doing running, cycling, mtb-marathon, snowshoing, triathlon, and mountain-marathon.

Two Saturdays ago we ran in the 20 km de Lausanne, which is a great event. It’s like a big party for the whole town, with wine tents, music, and kids events, culminating in the 20k race at the end of the evening. We were both pretty happy with our times. I came in at 1:57:01 and Bettina came in at 1:51, or thereabouts. Last Saturday we took place in the Berner-rundfahrt, the cycling event linked to above. We managed not to come in last place, not even for our age-catageories, but it was a pretty challenging event: 33km with 450 m elevation gain. We hadn’t been on our road bikes but once since last summer, so we were pretty content to just pull it off.

But I gotta say, two events in two weeks is just too much. I’ve been completely knackered all week. I had to take 4 recovery days this week. I’ll be heading to the pool this evening, hopefully I’m feeling a little better. Bettina has her marathon in just 8 days, and the next event we’ll both be doing is the Elsa bike trophy. So Bettina gets to slack off a little soon, which is good. I think she’s getting a little burned out on the running. As for me, I have to get fit for the Elsa.

Anyways, here’s a picture of B and Me before the B.R. Don’t we look cute?Glen and Bettina before the Berner Rundfahrt:

Optimizing Happiness

I once had an ethics professor who explained Hedonism as being an ethical theory in which the goal was to be as happy as can be (at least I hope that he explained it that way, my mandatory ethics class was a LONG time ago). Contrary to popular opinion, hedonism doesn’t mean abandoning ethics or morality.   Rather it means allowing ethics to come to  result from, or at least harmonize with,  people’s inherent selfishness. For example, people like safety, so they impose laws which punish murder and violent assault. People who enjoy those things will refrain from them because the happiness they gained from the illegal activities would be less than the happiness they would lose from the punishment (e.g. prison). Note the prof didn’t propose this as a system for an ideal world, rather as a framework for thinking about how the world works.

Hedonism has a pretty bad rap in the United States. The word is mostly used pejoratively, which I find ironic. We are after, constitutionally guaranteed the right to pursue happiness (cough). Neo-cons, who are the most anti-hedonist of the lot, are typically social darwinists, and believe firmly in the inherent selfishness of man. They believe deeply that this inherent selfishness can lead to an ideal world. They use this to justify those aspects of a free market which serve their interests. But they think Hedonism is bad. They accomplish this by simply not thinking about it very deeply. Trying to have a good time is bad because the bible tells them so. Well in fact, the preacher tells them the bible tells them so. Even those that bother to read the bible seem to only understand it selectively.  The neo-cons seek to build a society where people are inherently selfish, but not allowed to be happy.  I think this creates a twisted, self righteous, harmful and fundamentally unhappy society.

But I digress.  If we  leave the word Hedonism out of it, I think that most of us agree that, under certain constraints, it’s a good thing to strive to be happy (we may not agree on the constraints, but let’s leave that aside for the moment). I think I can also say, without fear that I will stir a great deal of controversy, that many of us aren’t having a lot of luck being happy.

Now for some of us, this is caused by certain pathological and easy to identify problems. Maybe they are problems we aware of, or maybe everyone can see it but us, but the fact is our unhappiness is our own fault. I couldn’t hazard a guess as to how many people are like this, but I think everyone knows one or two. But a great many of us are unhappy and can’t readily identify a cause, or even a significant variable which we can control. Thus more and more people turn to pharmaceuticals.

One of the most difficult variables to control is stress-levels. In fact, for a great many of us, excess stress is clear and beyond the dominant variable in the equation that determines out moods. For most of us, it’s pretty much impossible to decouple the problem of minimizing stress from maximizing happiness. It may even be possible to frame them as equivalent problems.

The problem is that optimizing happiness is incredibly difficult. If you’re dealing with a person who has their shit reasonably together, and has eliminated all the obvious problems over which they have any control, you are left with many, many significant and interdependent factors. The weather, your family, your lover or lack thereof, your diet, exercise. So if you’re trying to determine if the johaniskraut or the omega-3 fatty acid supplements are making any difference, or if it’s just because the weather has been a bit nicer lately.

So the problem is, once you get to certain point, it’s just bloody difficult to optimize happiness. There are so many significant variables it would be incredibly tedious (and stressful!) to keep track of them all. Beyond that many of the significant factors are terribly difficult to quantify. Mood itself is terribly difficult to quantify. Finally of course, it’s pretty taboo to talk about maximizing our own happiness. Tell someone one of your interests is pursuing enlightenment, see if they laugh.

Nevertheless, I predict that there will be a resurgence in this field of human endeavor. As pervasive-computing becomes a reality, people will begin tracking their own biometric data, and tracking those factors they think will have an influence. Biofeedback therapies will advance. Someone will create an open access database to allow people to freely contribute their data, and we will begin to explore inwardly, using technological tools.

There will be resistance to this. It will be considered hedonism. The technology, data, and human energy involved will be directed towards sex and drugs. Some individuals will see this as a lapsing of morals. It will be an influence which brings society in a more empathic direction, which will threaten the violent, and those who are financially or politically empowered by violence. It will teach us that the pursuit of wealth, and our commercial culture have only limited benefits. So like the counter-culture movement in the 60’s, this movement will be attacked. The attacks will be the same as we always see: cultural (like the ridiculing of 60’s counter culture), legal oppression (e.g. most drug laws), and of course commercial co-option (e.g. the commercial counter-culture movement of the 90’s).

But I have faith because I must have faith. Let’s struggle on my hedonistic brothers! I do actually think, on scale of hundreds of years, things have been getting better. Our only problem now is that our rate of technological advance now dwarfs our rate of social advance. But that’s no reason to give up on technology. Just keep trying to apply it to something that actually matters. Kudos to the man who makes the first biometric happiness tracker! Keep it free please!

A poem

I was rooting through my hard drive, when I stumbled across this poem. I have no idea if I wrote it, or if I just heard it somewhere and wrote it down. If you know the original author, please let me know.

Tell me why the stars do shine,
Tell me why the ivy twines,
Tell me why the sky’s so blue,
And I will tell you just why I love you.

Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine,
Phototropism makes ivy twine,
Rayleigh scattering makes the sky  so blue,
and sexual hormones are why I love you.

I really want to believe I wrote this…It seems like something I’d write, particularly the last line, which doesn’t seem quite right… But the line about Ivy twining doesn’t really sound like something I’d come up with…

March 31 2008

No special subject today.

Shoulder hurt worse this morning. Butchie doing well. Cough kept me awake a lot, but still got up at 8:30. Got some work on meeppp done, should be seeing that and other code up here within the next couple of days.

Since the shoulder is still bothering me and the health isn’t the greatest, I restricted myself to a short bike ride with Butchie. Todays image is from that ride. As you can see Switzerland’s georgeous, but the weather often leaves a lot to be desired. At least it isn’t still snowing.

Butchie by a nearby creek.  He's happier than he looks

Back again

Well, after years of silence, I thought I’d get my website running again. I wanted to create a personal subversion repository (not through work) for myself and Bettina, and I wanted a webhost for a few other projects, which will be appearing soon. I’m also going to be looking for a job soon, so I figure it’s time I got some of code back on the web for people to see. Old friends with good memories might realize that the domain name has changed from .org to .net… I should look into getting my old domain name back…

As for this page, maybe I’ll be able to get in touch with some lost friends, and vent some of my political rage. Who knows. The message here is, I guess, expect rapid changes to this site. Said changes could include me never logging in to, or looking at this site. Thus, even a lack of change is a change…

For this site, I’m trying the wordpress software. Normally I like to do things locally on my linux box, using text editors, but it seems web applications are the wave of the future. It would probably behoove me to keep apace with modern technologies and trends, giving them a fair shake before discarding them in curmudgeonly disgust.

Regarding me, I’m doing okay. I’m a bit frustrated. Bettina and I have been training pretty diligently for the Winterthur Marathon the last few months, and last week I injured my shoulder/neck (yeah, I injured my shoulder/neck running, go figure). I’m in physiotherapy, and the damn thing still hurts, so I’ve missed about a week of training. This pretty much means I have to reset my goals to the Winterthur half-marathon and support Bettina for the main event. Maybe in December we can do the theNeujahrsmarathon if Bettina is still interested. But that means another round of running all winter. Blech.

Okay, well today’s image is Bettina and Butchie on our 8k loop. I rode my bike and took a few photos…
Bettina and Butchie on the 8k loop