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Archive for May, 2013

It started out innocently enough.  An odd pain in my heel.

It could have been the clown shoes.  That’s around the time it started.

It could have been the rock I found wedged in the heel of my Mizuno running shoes.  I have no idea how long that was there.

Rock my sole in the bosom of Mizuno

Rock my sole in the bosom of Mizuno

But the pain continued and swept through my heel like Germany invading Poland, and my plantar fascia put up about as much resistance as a legion of the French Army armed to the teeth with white handkerchiefs.

I feared a stress fracture.  My podiatrist called it plantar fasciitis.

I call it plantar fascism.

I am a runner.  It wasn’t a fracture.  So I continued to run.  I’m an American . . . I couldn’t let the fascists win.

The pain continued to escalate.

I tried stretches.  A night brace while sleeping (which actually enabled me to walk to the bathroom in the morning without pain.)  And ice.  Ibuprofen by the bottle.  I even allowed the podiatrist to inject my foot with steroids.  You’d think the needle alone would frighten away the pain.  Or me screaming like a girl.

As I limped home one day, I had an epiphany.

Runners are well aware of the theology here.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, versus 12-26:

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body . . . And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.

I had to stop running for a while.

GASP.

There.  I said it.  I am sore ashamed.  And my heel was sore.

But one part was making it miserable for all the other parts, and some of my other parts were very unhappy about it.

My heel needed healing.

But I am happy to report (as are my other body parts) that after a brief rest (4-11-13 through 4-30-13) I am back on the road, with only a hint of discomfort after a 6-8 mile run.  I still stretch and ice it down afterward.  I am still wearing the brace at night–just in case.

Because you never know when the fascists (or fasciitis) will return!

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You may not have noticed, but the PowerballTM Jackpot is up to $600 Million ($376.9 Million cash value.)

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 175,223,510.00.

They've got BALLS!

They’ve got BALLS!

For the sake of argument, let’s assume everyone bought the standard $2 ticket.  That’s 300,000,000 million tickets sold.  The odds of winning are slightly less than half that.  Therefore, the odds of someone (or some ones) matching tonight’s drawing are actually pretty good.

I think most people buy a ticket, and then PRAY that those numbers come up.

Like any gambler, I’m always in search of an edge over the house.  Some of us are really poor at math, and refuse to be constrained by silly laws of probability that apply to the rest of the human race.  I hoped to find a way to PREDICT which numbers were going to come up, rather than sitting back and waiting and praying for them to match.  I wanted to be PROACTIVE!

So I downloaded all the winning numbers since 11/1/1997.  The numbers are actually listed in the order in which they are drawn.  I decided to look and see what was the average number drawn for each ball, fully ignoring understanding that the chance of any given ball being drawn at any given time is always the same.

I discovered something interesting–or not so interesting if you consider the Law of Averages.  A truly random sample over a large number of attempts will eventually reflect the underlying probability.  There are white balls numbered from 1-59, of which five are drawn.  There is a set of red balls numbered 1 through 35 which represent the powerball; one of these is drawn.  One must match all six to win the big prize.  So with an event that has an equal chance of drawing a number between 1 and 59, the average should fall between those two–roughly 30.

But when I did the calculations, the average number of the first ball drawn was . . . 27.

At first, this was a head scratcher.   If the odds are that the first ball will be less than the expected average, I may be on to something here.  Perhaps there is some variable which we cannot see or understand which keeps some of the higher balls from falling first.  Maybe the amount of ink on the ball–single digits have less.  I don’t know!  I am starting to tingle!

The lottery states that the odds of matching one red ball (the power ball) is 1 in 55.41 rather than 1 in 35.  It’s not because they are cheating, but rather that is the odds of matching ONLY the red ball, and none of the white balls.  The odds of matching a red ball are still 1 in 35, but some of those people will also match white balls, which makes the odds of getting only the power ball slightly higher or less likely.  But I digress.

After a little research, I discovered that the power ball drawing used to pick five balls from a pool of 55, rather than 59, and the power ball used to be drawn from a selection of balls numbered 1 through 42, rather than 35.

Twenty-seven is roughly the average of a sample between 1 and 55.  The tingling, it turns out, was from my butt going to sleep spending so much time doing these calculations.

So then I checked the other numbers.  The average number drawn for the second number was . . . 27.  The third . . . 27.  The fourth–and fifth . . . you guessed it, 27.  Damn you, statistics!

I can’t play a ticket with nothing but 27’s?

So then I reordered the picks into numerical order.  If the actual draw was 6, 23, 19, 43, 13 then the new array was 6, 13, 19, 23, 43.

So guess what the average lowest ball to be drawn each time is?

Nine.

The second lowest ball to be drawn?

Eighteen.

The third lowest ball to be drawn?

Twenty-seven–same as the overall average for the picks in order.  Do you see a pattern emerging here?

The fourth lowest (or second highest) ball to be drawn averages 36.

The highest ball drawn for over more than a decade of draws is 45.

A ticket with 9, 18, 27, 36, 45?  Try again.  That combination NEVER came up since 1997.

The stats seem to affect the Powerball a little more.  The average Powerball drawn is 20, which is higher than what you would expect for 35 balls (17 or 18 depending on how you round it off) but lower than when they used 42 (which would be an average of 21.)  That number will supposedly start to creep down towards 18 as more draws are done with only 35 numbers.

In the end, I bought a quick pick (letting the computer randomly pick my numbers since I haven’t the faintest idea what numbers to pick) and will spend tonight praying and promising God a percentage of my winnings if only He would let me win.

Six numbers for $600 Million?  That can’t be too much trouble for the Almighty?

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That only a Mother can love.

When I was younger, my dad and I went out shopping for Mother’s Day.  Maybe it was Christmas.  I don’t know.  This is Mother’s Day so it was a Mother’s Day gift.  Dammit, Jim, I’m just an eye doctor!

My mom wanted a new lamp for our end table in the family room.  The one she had still worked.  Neither my dad nor I could understand why a perfectly good lamp needed to be replaced.  Seriously . . .do you change the bulb before it burns out?  But I digress.

So we went in search of a lamp.  At a furniture store–which also sold “accessories.”  It really wouldn’t have mattered if we went to a lamp store.  We were both clueless if we couldn’t find it in the hardware store.  And even then . . .

After wandering around with glazed looks on our eyes, a sale person finally took pity on us and helped us find a lamp.

Neither my dad nor I could find anything wrong with the lamp.  It looked nice next to the display furniture that looked nothing like our family room, but we could kind of picture it on the end table.  Who am I kidding?  The sales clerk said it was a nice lamp.  We were getting hungry and woozy.  Therefore . . . it was perfect.

My dad questioned the price, because it was apparently more than what he wanted to spend on a lamp.

The lady explained to him that the lamp was actually sold as a set of TWO lamps.

My dad told her we only wanted one.

She explained that this was not the way lamps were sold.

He explained that we only had one end table and one lamp to replace on that end table.  (He also explained that the current lamp worked just fine, and he was still unsure why we were here.)

She would have to check with her manager.

Breaking Up is apparently hard to do.

Breaking Up is apparently hard to do.

After  what seemed like days of debating to a teenager who would rather be home watching TV and filling my young mind with important things, the manager finally relented and sold my dad ONE lamp–for slightly more than half price.  This apparently was an accord of epic proportions like the Sadat-Begin Treaty (which I believe was going on around this time–eventually signed in September of 1978.)  You would have thought we were breaking up Sonny and Cher!  But I digress.

I think we also wrapped up the scissors in the box.  The paper mostly stayed on until she opened it.

She loved the lamp!  Success!

But then she looked around and with the most curious look on her face, she asked, “where’s the other lamp?”

My dad replied that we only needed one for the one end table.  This was it.

“But they usually come as a set.  I want to put the other one over there.”

My mom did eventually get the other lamp.  The sales clerk at the same furniture store that sold her the unmatched lamp to the one she had told her this amusing story about the two guys that refused to buy both lamps.  They didn’t think they’d ever be able to sell this odd one, and they were thrilled my mom was willing to buy it by itself.  My mom didn’t mention my dad or I.  I’m pretty sure she pretended she didn’t know us.  The store clerks may still be laughing about this in their retirement.

So here is my Daily Prompt letter to Mom:

Dear Mom:

          It was all dad’s fault.

          I love you.

Me

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Have you ever played golf?

No?  If I hum a few bars, do you think you could play it?

If you have, though, I am sure there have been times that you stand over that little ball on the green and ask yourself, ‘why didn’t I go bowling today?’

GolfPutts

You are faced with a daunting task.  Your ball is here.  The hole is over there.  If you’re like me, it’s waaaay over there.  And you have to figure out some way (other than picking the ball up and dropping it in the cup, which although that makes perfect sense, is not allowed by the rules of the game) to get the ball from here to there in the fewest tries.  In short, you can’t get there from here.

Who came up with this?

Sure, it’s not that big of a problem for Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus or Sammy Snead, but you and I, my friend, are not professional golfers.

If we somehow manage to map the landscape of the green and predict the probable trajectory of the ball, we are sure to hit it too hard or leave it short.  If by some stroke of luck we find the proper putting swing to impart the correct speed on the ball, it will not roll in the direction of the hole.

This, in a nutshell, is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

The uncertainty principle also called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, or Indeterminacy Principle, articulated (1927) by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, that the position and the velocity of an object cannot both be measured exactly, at the same time, even in theory.

In other words, it is impossible for me to know the location of the ball and it’s speed during a given putt–I may not know either, for that matter.  But it would appear that it is just dumb luck if I manage both trajectory and velocity at the same time.  Ergo, it is not my fault I can’t putt.  It’s physics.  I’m sure if I research this long enough, I’ll be able to prove why I can’t drive, chip or hit an iron straight.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to eventually come up with a Unifying Theory of the Universe to explain why I can’t cook, do laundry or vacuum the house.

And as for the professional golfers . . . they are either the luckiest bunch of macrophysicists on the planet, or the Laws of Physics don’t apply to them.

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But if you can have a free refill.

The Daily Post asks the question, “Is the glass half-full, or half-empty?

To be honest, I always thought the real philosophical issue at stake here was not whether my glass was half-empty or half-full, but rather who drank half my beer!Beers

After all, it’s just a matter of perspective.  I went golfing last week.  I can brag that I was at least putting for a par on every hole.  Of course, more than a dozen of those putts were from the fairway or the sand, sometimes a hundred-yards away, but I still putted for a potential par on every hole!

I read somewhere once that the optimist sees the glass as half full, the pessimist sees the glass as half empty, and the realist simply drinks the rest.

Which got me to wondering . . . what do other people think about this question?

The opportunist sees a chance to sell you more beverage.

The surrealist sees a glass with arms and legs beneath a green sky with three moons.

The fundamentalist wonders if the glass has been saved.

The scientist wonders what is in the glass, and what would happen if he heated it with a Bunsen burner.

The psychiatrist wonders how the glass feels about this.

The artist sees a still life.

The perfectionist sees that the glass is too large.

The minimalist thinks there is too much fluid.

The stock analyst wonders if the level will be going up or down.

The racist is sure that a minority is responsible.

The plagiarist took the glass from someone else and claimed it as his own.

The diarist plans to write about the glass tonight.

The jurist will look for a legal precedent, but either way, will take 40% of what’s left.

The masochist won’t drink it no matter how thirsty he gets.

The sadist will make the masochist drink it, even though he doesn’t want to.

The therapist will try to make it feel better.

The dentist wonders if it is sugar-free.

The optometrist focuses on the glasses.

And the centrist is ecstatic.

I’m sure you can come up with more . . .

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