Saturday was the annual Hays Elementary School Husky 5K Run/Walk. The school uses it as a big fundraiser, which includes a silent auction and other money-making activities. The morning was crisp, below 40 degrees, but sunny.
This race was my second in a month to be hosted by the Rockwall Running Club, which coordinated the course flawlessly. And once again, I’m thrilled and shocked to see I made a personal best, clocking in the 5K at 25:59 for a 8:22/mile pace. I was fourth in my age group, but I’m still wow’ing at the overall winner, a guy just one year younger than me who finished over six minutes faster for a 6:21 pace. Impressive.
I just finished Bill Bryson’s latest book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.
I had read it about a year ago when it was released in hardcover, and I enjoyed it so much I re-read it when it was just released in paperback.
So much of history ends up littered on the floor of our homes (figuratively, that is.) Bryson wanders room by room through his own house and asks why things are the way they are where he lives.
Why do we keep salt and pepper on our tables, instead of any of the other of hundreds of available spices? Bryson writes: “I can tell you at once that nothing you touch today will have more bloodshed, suffering, and woe attached to it than the innocuous twin pillars of your salt and pepper set.”
Why are bricks so difficult to make? “Perhaps the greatest demonstration of the difficulty of making bricks–or possibly the greatest demonstration of single-minded futility–was in the 1810s when Sydney Smith, the well-known wit and cleric, decided to make his own bricks for the rectory he was building for himself at Foston le Clay in Yorkshire. He was said to have unsuccessfully fired 150,000 bricks before finally conceding that he probably wasn’t going to get the hang of it.”
Why was personal hygiene so out of favor in medieval Christendom? “When Thomas a Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, died in 1170, those who laid him out noted approvingly that his undergarments were ‘seething with lice.'”
Bryson fills his book with countless facts and anecdotes illustrating the world inside our domiciles. With rich history informing every object and room we occupy, this book brings a new meaning to the phrase, “There’s no place like home.”
This weekend I participated in another 5K race, my fourth in as many months. This one was in my hometown, so there was no way I could pass it up. The race was a part of a city event called Rib Rub and Run, which also featured a BBQ cook-off and live music on the town square.
The race started on time, and took us through some back streets and around Harry Myers Park. This was my first race in which vehicle traffic was a factor, but Rockwall’s Finest was on hand to make sure no one got plowed over by an SUV.
And the results? Once again, I’m pleased to say I made a personal best, beating my previous time by more than thirty seconds. I finished the 5K in 15th place overall for a time of 26:54. That’s an 8:40 per mile pace, beating my best pace by ten seconds per mile.
After the race I wandered around the square enjoying the smell of smoke and BBQ, although it was a bit early for lunch just yet. I ate a couple of breakfast burritos before heading home smelling of BO, smoke . . . and glory!
Okay, not glory so much, but definitely like BO and smoke. Which in certain circles is exactly the smell of glory.
My goodness, it seems the internet is just crowded with beautiful science today.
Richard Dawkins has written a beautifully illustrated book called The Magic of Reality.
I’ll let the book’s own blurb tell the story:
Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back—earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality—science.
This would be a perfect book for a young person with an aptitude for science, but it’s rich with clear descriptions even for adults. With brief helpful explanations about how genes work, or stellar fusion, or plate tectonics, Dawkins contrasts the myths of ancient (and some modern) cultures with the real story of how things work. The result is a beautiful and informative introduction to this magical place we call reality.
Well here you are. Pretty landscapes, pretty music.
Recommend letting it load fully (it’s a big file) and watching in full screen. We live on a beautiful planet, don’t we?
Okay, did I say the previous post was funny. That was totally my bad. THIS is the funny of the day.
We’ve all seen the photos that amusement parks take of riders as they plummet down a roller coaster, or what have you. Well, the folks who run a haunted house in Canada do the same thing when people work their way through to the maximum scariest segment. And the results are High-larious:
Even better are the comments for each pic, such as this one for the one I posted above:
“HELLO?! NO I’m IN A HAUNTED HOUSE!!! A HAUNTED HOUSE!! CAN I CALL YOU BACK???”
You can view the entire stream in all its funny here.