The professional hazards of a linguist: Chomsky

One of the professional hazards of being a linguist is being asked what you think of Chomsky.* I never have a good answer because we didn’t actually study Chomsky in school. The linguistics department at Rice does what’s called ‘functional linguistics’, and Chomsky is ‘formal linguistics’. The names have to do with having different opinions about how language evolved and is produced, and why languages are similar to each other, but the explanation is a little esoteric.** At any rate, we didn’t learn much about him, and I didn’t get any clear idea of what he thought until later, when I read an interesting book called The Linguistics Wars.

Today, though, I realized on re-reading The Most Human Human that the author captures a distinction in computer science that I wasn’t aware of, which has a lot of similarity to the way the formal/functional distinction plays out in practice (as opposd to the esoteric theory): the distinction between computability theory and complexity theory. In computability theory, your concern is determining what is possible or impossible to compute, according to the principles of computation. Complexity theory deals with whether you could actually build a computer that could compute something, in, say, less than the total age of the universe. Chomskyan linguistics is similar to computability theory, and the type of linguistics I studied is more similar to complexity theory. Chomsky wasn’t interested in linguistic performance — he’s very clear about that. He studied what is and isn’t possible in language, under very idealized conditions. In practice, it means he mostly studied nicely-written sentences, and determined if they were allowed or not, and what that means about the language. (So, also, he mostly studies syntax.) Functional linguists study something more like complexity theory: what people actually do, when they’re speaking and writing, under the often sub-ideal conditions of the world. So they study speech errors and hesitations and the circumstances under which a seemingly-nonsensical sentence might make perfect sense and a lot of things that Chomskyans tend to just say are irrelevant.

I find this comparison very helpful, because (along with a better grounding in Chomskyan theory that I got from reading The Linguistics Wars) it helped me get beyond my knee-jerk belief that Chomsky is clearly irrelevant. Computability theory is very interesting. It’s where things like the Halting Problem and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem live. But computability is sometimes not very relevant, if you could compute something but it would require more time than the age of the universe. Likewise, there are very large domains of linguistic endeavor that Chomsky simply ignored. Where I disagree with him is that he tended to think that these areas are not important at all — that performance is incidental — whereas I think it’s critical to understanding what language really is. So my answer is something like: Chomsky is good as far as he goes, but he doesn’t go very far in the real world — the way that computability theory is great as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far in the real world in which you’d like your computer program to finish before next week (let alone before the end of the universe).

* Not the most common one, though; that would be the question “How many languages do you speak?” My answer to this is decidedly unimpressive.

** In short: Functional linguists think it’s because language serves a common function, regardless of its specific implementation (that function being human communication), and that it evolved from and/or is produced by a collection of adapted general skills. Formal linguists believe that languages are similar because we all have a specific brain module called a language acquisition device — ie, that language is a specialized skill, not a general one, and that languages are similar because they’re all produced by this special module. I think it’s possible that both are true, although having been educated by functionalists, I tend to wonder whether the formal bit is actually necessary.

Adventures in fermentation

A while back I started making kombucha, and this is bascially a bunch of meanderings from my first three months of experience with it (mostly for my reference). I took a class at People’s Co-op given by Dori Oliver of Nourishing Foodways, and I use her recipe and simple 5-step process, and also received a scoby from her. I don’t bother trying to dechlorinate or use distilled water, though. It seems not to be a real problem.

The first batch seemed to take forever to start. Dori had said that oolong tea (which I was using, as it was the only thing I had around) was the slowest, with black the fastest and green in the middle. Both my own experience and information from my friends has since suggested that the tea type is not the most essential thing about speed, but more the conditions of the brewing area and how much starter is included and the size of the mushroom. I had just half a cup of starter from Dori (the suggested minimum), and a small mushroom (she grew them in little bottles; they grow to the size of their container). Also, our kitchen is very cold. I started in mid-April, when temperatures in Portland were around 50-60 degrees, and our house is heated to between 64 and 66. This is too low for optimal kombucha growth, according to most sources, which suggest somewhere between 72 and 79 degrees.

The first batch did taste great once it finally finished almost two weeks later. I was pretty enchanted. The oolong tea turned out to be a good choice. It was Harney and Sons Formosa Oolong (not the Fanciest Formosa, but their regular), which my brother gave me at Christmas. I was using a large jar, but not large enough for a full batch, so I made a half batch (about 1500 ml or 1.5 quarts). This works fine. Later I bought a full-size jar so I can now make 3 quarts.

Subsequent batches have been faster (still around a week to ten days, sometimes more, until recently), so I developed a theory (with no factual basis) that the scoby was also adjusting to my teas and environment. It seems more likely to do with the larger scoby, warming weather, and later more starter (because I had more of a bottled supply, so I was fine with letting more of it be re-used rather than drunk).

Since then I have tried some green tea called Soaring Crane that I bought at Townshend’s, and some black tea, also from them, which purported to be English Breakfast. The Soaring Crane tends to turn out too sour and herbal for me. It’s a fairly grassy tea, although not so much as some, and I did ask them for a nuttier style, but I don’t think they have anything really suitable. The English Breakfast from them was also a failure, too smoky for me. I think I am more used to an English Breakfast style heavy on the Assam, and I suspect this one had too much Keemun. This type improved after some storage in the fridge, but still didn’t get to a point that I really liked. (The Soaring Crane doesn’t seem to be affected by the aging in the fridge as much, although it does help.) Later, I bought some English Breakfast from the Alberta co-op which I preferred, and then an “organic black tea”, also from them, that I think is Assam. The latter has produced very textbook brewing and scobys so far, but the taste is nothing remarkable. Rather than tasting like any particular tea, it tastes ‘like kombucha’.

For a time I was taking the starter off the bottom of the jars where the yeast tends to hang out, because a friend recommended it (and because this part often has more floaties and such anyway, so why not put them back in?), but recently I learned that this can cause sour kombucha and thin scobys if it gets out of hand. It may be a good idea to alternate taking from the top and buttom. Apparently the bacteria tends to hang out at the top. I think it was a good idea to take the yeasty bit for a while, because my kombucha was not very fizzy at all, but it got out of hand, especially in some of the green batches, which taste very sour.

I learned from another friend that he was trying chai kombucha. This isn’t recommended, because of the amount of oil in the tea, which Dori had mentioned, although she also said that it was important for the tea to be caffeinated, which I understand now not to be the case. Peppermint is also not recommended. Basically, the chemicals in the actual Camellia sinensis leaf, particularly when more oxidized, are particularly good at keeping the cultures balanced (tannins, acids). But it’s all right to use some herbs, or mix herbs with tea, you just want to be careful about re-using the scobys — either throw them out, or use them consistently for one kind of tea. I decided to try chai kombucha anyway, with an extra scoby I had stored. I tasted it yesterday (it’s not quite done) and I am skeptical. My blend may have too much clove (a common problem with chai mixtures).

Mostly I have had too many rather than too few scobys. If they are not in great shape, I compost them, otherwise I store them if I have room. I am running out of room and have tried to give away and sell them, but aside from two successes giving them to friends, there is not great interest that I can tell.

I had some problems with ants. My jars were on top of the fridge, and I thought they were well-sealed, but apparently not well enough. After that I was more careful about sealing them, and eventually I moved them to a table. We don’t know where the ants are coming from. The first two batches with ants were badly infested and I threw them out and threw out or really rinsed the scobys (what a waste of tea!), but in the one that only had a few, which brewed while I was in Vancouver, I actually drank that kombucha, as well as rinsing and re-using the scoby. It seems to have had no ill effect.

I had one batch go bad for no discernible reason. It just didn’t taste good. I threw out the batch and the scoby.

Recently, with the summer weather arriving, our kitchen has been at a better temperature. However, this has mostly caused the kombucha to brew faster and taste sourer, so I am ending up with more bottles than I can drink before the next batch finishes, and even with buying new stoppered bottled from Storables (very excellent for bottling, although you have to be careful as they can overflow when using a funnel, because the escape of air is very slow and it’s easy to accidentally overfill the funnel; this problem is less severe with jars, which I had been using, putting wax paper under the lid as Dori suggested) I still did not have enough space to store it. Then, since it’s warm and I am delaying bottling a bit, it gets overbrewed (to my taste) and sour, with less character. So lately I have not been as happy with the batches I have made, although I have a lot of batches.

Also, I have noticed that when the scobys fit tightly to the container, gas bubbles become trapped under them and it can push the scoby out of the water. My latest batch of Soaring Crane had this problem and the new scoby basically had a hole in it. You really have to open the top and push the scoby down a bit if this happens, or preferably don’t fill the jar too full (since jars narrow a bit at the top, having the scoby close to the top is more likely to cause this).

Soon I’d like to try secondary fermentation, probably not by itself, but with flavoring sounds nice.

The importance of being afoot

On Sunday I injured my left foot walking off a walkway. It was one of those freak accidents where you just land wrong. The friend whose house I was at told me I sounded remarkably calm when I told her that I thought I had hurt my foot more badly than the routine “Whoops, I rolled my ankle, it’ll be fine in a few minutes” type of hurt. Indeed, I had, and it hurt quite a bit and started to swell fairly quickly. She helped me inside, gave me ice and ibuprofen, and drove me home.

On Monday, the doctor said it wasn’t broken, but it was sprained (probably at the anterior talofibular ligament) and that I should stay off it for a few days, then work toward weight-bearing as I felt comfortable. So I’m on crutches at the moment (thoughtfully donated by my friends) and experiencing life as a gimp. And not just any gimp: a carfree gimp!

As a carfree person, my feet are my mode of transportation, whether I’m biking or walking, and even taking transit requires walking. All of a sudden I can’t walk to my friends’ houses, I can’t bike to work, and I can barely walk a half or even a quarter mile to the transit stop. Any unevenness in the ground will throw me off, whether because it means I can’t set the crutches down evenly or because I start swinging too fast (downslope) or can’t swing fast enough (upslope). I can’t hurry up to “make” lights or shoot the gap to cross a road, and I definitely can’t jaywalk; I have to wait for the crossing to be clear. I have to head for the curb ramp if at all possible. I can only go about 150-200 feet without resting (a block or less).

With all that crutch work, my whole upper body is sore — it’s a serious workout. Even standing isn’t much of a rest because I can only stand on one foot, which means the muscles in my leg and the bottom of my foot are sore. I’m left-footed, so it’s my weaker leg that has to hold me up.

Thank goodness for yoga! I have far better strength and balance than I used to from my yoga practice. Still, I find that gimping around is giving me a whole new perspective on life, and reminding me about something I had largely forgotten since 2006 when my arms were injured: Life is full of small efforts that add up, and anyone who has fewer resources than normal sometimes struggles to manage all those efforts, so it’s really important that in our social structures and behavior we accommodate and are patient with those who have a few extra needs. Why does the TriMet trip planner need 1/10 mile walk settings? Well, that’s about all I can manage right now, frankly, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Why do we need signalized or improved crossings and long walk light times? Not everyone can walk even a moderate pace of 3 miles an hour. It took me half an hour to go half a mile today!

This is definitely is one of the major challenges of being carfree — because I rely so much on my physical capabilities, a change in them that might be minor for someone else is major for me. Sure, even if I had a car I’d still be struggling with things like going up and down the stairs at my house (my house is terrible for a gimp, something that never occurred to me until Sunday afternoon) or doing any kind of shopping (you can’t drive your car through Rite-Aid, and, despite the good intentions of the women who tried to help me there today, when you’re on crutches you can’t drag a rolly shopping cart through the store either). But most people (in the US) in my situation, although they’d still have trouble getting around between their car and  buildings, and inside buildings, wouldn’t have to think about the distance to the bus stop or their friend’s house, and aside from recreational limitations, might be able to carry on mostly as usual for their major trips.

That sounds a lot easier, but ultimately, despite the challenging workout, I’m glad to be carfree right now. It exposes me to the challenges that other people face on a daily basis, and to the kindness extended by the people I encounter — the bus drivers who wait patiently for me, the people who stop and leave me a clear path on the sidewalk, and most of all the friends who offer extra help with rides, equipment, and care. That sense of contact and community is one of the things I most value about being afoot, and in tough times, it’s something I need more than ever.

Something I don’t like: my laptop

I got my laptop last summer from ZaReason. It’s a Strata Pro 13 that came pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux 10. Although it does basically work, I’ve had a lot of trouble with it. First of all, I dropped it when it was about a day old. That’s not ZaReason’s fault, but once I sent it back to them it did take them and awfully long time and a lot of pestering from me to get it back to me (the repair wasn’t terribly complicated, only the part of the case that holds the battery was somewhat broken), or give me any status updates about when it would get back to me (something I was naturally concerned about). It was really frustrating to call them up and get these very opaque responses to my questions, even after I had given the order number (the original and the second order, for repair and battery replacement). They’re not a big shop where the person who answers the phone has probably never talked to you or heard of you before, so there’s no reason for this kind of opaqueness.

When it came back, I updated it to Ubuntu 11. After that, it would sit and not boot unless I pressed enter twice. I’m not sure why. I did some work trying to get the bootloader (GRUB) to work better/be clearer about what was going on. That got it to boot on its own some of the time — most of the time at first, but later less and less. This again is probably not ZaReason’s fault, but it was frustrating for a laptop that was supposed to work with Linux to be having issues with bootloader configuration when all I did was update it.

Also, the battery life was very poor. After a while, the battery almost didn’t work. So I contacted them again and they said that it was probably a bad battery and they would send a new one. They did do that fairly quickly and the new one worked. Until recently, when it died at only 9 months old. According to them, it was not under warranty anymore (despite being newer than the computer).

They offered some suggestions to try to improve the charge, including updating the BIOS. I tried all that and it didn’t work so I asked if I should order a new battery, since they had mentioned it could be the motherboard going bad. No response. Which, again…I guess it isn’t their job to tell me when to order a new battery, but it would have been nice to hear “Yes, sorry, we don’t have any more suggestions, would you like us to initiate a new battery order for you?”

I’m also just not wild about the laptop. It was on the expensive side at about $1000, but isn’t incredibly high powered or light. It has sharp edges that are uncomfortable to type on or hold. It’s thick and bulky and even when the battery works, it only lasts 2-3 hours on regular use, which is barely adequate. The dock it came with is awkward to put it into. It doesn’t have a built-in DVD drive (which is why I bought the dock), despite being thick and bulky, and Netflix doesn’t work on it, so my Netflix subscription is useless to it unless it’s docked, which it rarely was when the battery worked. It’s 64-bit Linux so there’s no Amazon downloader (there are ways around this, but it’s still annoying). And I don’t really like the Ubuntu desktop (Unity) which also isn’t ZaReason’s fault, but it does negate some of the benefit of having a Linux distribution pre-installed if it turns out you don’t like its defaults that much anyway.

So personally, although I hope my laptop doesn’t die anytime soon, and that the new battery works, because I’d like to not spend another $700-1000 on a new computer only a year after the last, when it dies I will not mourn it, and I will definitely NOT purchase another laptop from ZaReason, even though I like that they pre-install Linux and I like that they sent me a screwdriver and told me it doesn’t void my warranty to open the case. Good intentions, not so great execution.

Fat focus

I went to an event at Metro tonight with Richard Jackson. The event was supposed to be about his work on Retrofitting Suburbia, but if that got discussed it was after I left. Mostly it was about how people are fat and it’s because we aren’t active anymore (and a little about how that’s related to car-dependent sprawl), and how being fat increases the risk for terrible diseases like diabetes.

I felt really uncomfortable after a while because there was so much focus on how it’s bad to be fat and it makes you sick and so many people are fat and sick. I understand that Jackson is in public health, and that he is concerned about weight as it affects health and about establishing that the epidemic of obesity is caused by a change in the environment (a common-source epidemic). That’s really important and it’s an essential role for public health to play: to make the connection that more calories and less activity are making it hard to be healthy, and to find the causes for both and work on how to change them.

But I wish that he had spent a lot more time talking about health and the built environment, and a lot less talking about how so many people are fat now. My personal relationship with weight and food is fairly untroubled, but my family history has made me very conscious of the potential for illness if that changes, and I have seen many friends (who are as active and eat similarly, but don’t have the same body type) really struggle with weight and food.

Did you go? If you did, how did you feel? If you didn’t, how does my description strike you? Would you have been uncomfortable, or felt ashamed or strange?

Crossposted to Facebook and Google Plus for the sake of varied discussion.

Something I liked: Superhero Photo

Recently I did the Superhero Photo: The Basics class. I had a great time with the class. I’ve been looking for a  photo class that would fit my needs for ages, but it never occurred to me to take one online. When Tea interviewed Andrea, I knew her class would be a great fit because she is interested in capturing life’s beautiful moments and being more present through photography. That’s also what I enjoy the most about taking photos — the way it helps me see and be more, and capture the beauty that I enjoy so much.

California poppies along a fence

Golden poppies

I wasn’t able to participate in the class as much as I would have liked, but it really woke me up out of a photographic slump (I haven’t taken nearly as many photos since moving to Portland as I did before — yes, the slump was three years long, yikes) and got me excited about color, light, and focus again, and about doing more than just shooting a pretty flower now and then and taking a picture casually just to document something. I was really looking for the good shot, or the creative shot, even when I was just documenting or shooting pretty flowers.

White iris, closeup

Iridescent iris

And there were absolutely no technical hiccups. You get the lessons in your email inbox, share photos on a private Flickr group, and comment on a protected website. Simple and easy.

It was a great community of people, and being in the course Flickr pool and getting to see everyone else’s pictures was a fantastic opportunity for me to be inspired by looking at other wonderful pictures, and also to try to see something good, something interesting, in each one (including my own!), rather than being a critic. I took so many bad pictures in those six weeks, but also some great ones that I will treasure, and I even love the bad ones because I was trying to do something interesting, which is much better than not trying to do anything at all.

Depression management

Some time ago I wrote a post about my experiences with depression (dysthymia) and with therapy and how it had really helped me. At the time I was only six months or so out from the end of regular therapy. The legacy of that work is definitely lasting, but in the years since I’ve also learned that I do have a chronic tendency toward low mood (it’s not clear whether the cause is chemical, habitual, or both), and taking care of myself and keeping certain routines plays a much bigger part in managing my mood than I realized when I was all excited about how much therapy helped. I wanted to record this both for my own reference, and as part of my story.

I currently take physical inventory whenever I notice myself getting into a funk, mentally evaluating whether I’ve slept adequately, eaten appropriately, had a moderate dose of caffeine, and exercised recently. I become unpleasant to be around, and to be, if I don’t get around 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep and 25 to 250 mg of caffeine daily, eat when hungry, and exercise almost daily at moderate intensity and a couple of times a week at high intensity. Last week I was in a pretty bad funk one day and realized I hadn’t had any high-intensity exercise for a while. The next day I went running, and it was amazing to notice that while I didn’t feel fantastic, it was no longer almost automatic for me to drop into a broody state the way it had been the day before. (My carfree life definitely makes regular exercise easier, since pretty much every I leave the house, I leave it under my own steam.)

Taking care of the physical inventory is only the first step, but it is often the only step I really need, and if it’s not, it at least puts me into the best possible shape for the rest of the work.

Why I’m an Options Ambassador

PBOT’s Transportation Options division is recruiting for new outreach volunteers — Options Ambassadors — for 2012. A few weeks ago Andrew at PBOT asked me if I would be willing to share why I volunteer with Options as part of their recruitment. I think my response is slated for a brochure or email because I couldn’t find it online, but I thought it would be nice to have it available for the future, and for my own purposes in promoting Options’ recruitment!

Here are Andrew’s questions and my responses.

Q. Why did you decide to become an ambassador?

A. I was lucky enough to live in the SmartTrips area when I first moved to Portland in summer 2009. I thought the rides would be a great way to get to know the city and meet some people. I was also looking for ways to use my bicycle advocacy skills in Portland. I enjoyed the rides tremendously, and I really liked how prepared, thoughtful, friendly, and fun the Options team was. I decided if there was any way I could get involved, I wanted to do it. I’ve always really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and encouraging others to ride, so it seemed like a perfect fit. At the last summer ride, I was excited when Timo announced that they would be recruiting for new Ambassadors in April and encouraged me to apply. And the rest is history!

Q. What is your favorite part about being an Ambassador?

A. I really like to help with the bike rides. I am best at encouraging people when I’m riding because my enthusiasm for the ride is contagious — I enjoy exploring new routes and appreciating the wonderful things about Portland (including the summer weather). I also really like helping people learn and get more comfortable with riding in a context where I can talk with them one-on-one for extended periods of time. Finally, I love hearing people’s stories about why they are interested in riding more, and what got them out to the event, and I like to see how they appreciate each other’s company and support. Seeing people enjoy riding and grow in their skills and abilities is what inspires me as an advocate.

 

I didn’t want to go on too long in my response about how wonderful the Options group is, but it really is a huge part of the reason that I volunteer. Timo and Janis are fantastically cool, funny, enthusiastic, fun, and prepared. On the Autumn Adventure ride in 2009, I was badly under-gloved for the severity of the rain (and probably underdressed in general — it was my first fall in Portland), and Janis lent me some extra gloves with no questions asked. That’s the kind of leader I always appreciate and aspire to be. Every time I assist them I enjoy their company and I learn a lot about how to make riding fun and accessible for everyone. Every year as people rotate out, we need awesome ambassadors to replace them, so if you love to share your knowledge and enthusiasm for riding or walking, please volunteer!

Besides a few hours for training, it’s as much of a time commitment as you want or don’t want it to be. In 2010 I volunteered most weeks, but in 2011 I could only make a few rides in the summer because of my work schedule at SMART Transit. Luckily Timo extended the season with some weekend rides in the fall, and I’m hoping to volunteer more again this summer. I can’t wait for the season to start.

Mistaken beliefs about myself: poetry edition

One of the questions that I find myself perennially engaging with is about whether we are the authorities on ourselves, and what epistemic status our knowledge about ourselves has vs. others’ knowledge of us.

I was reminded of this when I was out running this morning along the Alameda Ridge and went by one of the Poetry Posts. The owner had chosen e.e. cummings “in Just-“ to put in the post, and I stopped to read it, appreciating its timeliness and the lovely rhythm of the poem. I’ve heard it before, but not for years, and never in the outdoors in the moment of “Just- spring”.

After I stopped to read it I remembered that I’ve said to myself many times that I “don’t like poetry”, by which I mean if you’d asked me “What do you think of poetry as an art form?” I probably would say that I generally find it pretty hard to engage with. I don’t like to read poetry the way that I like to read novels or nonfiction prose. But actually, there are many individual poems, and many poets, whose work I enjoy — like e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, Longfellow, Wordsworth (whose “Daffodils” was in yet another poetry post I saw on my run today; also timely and beautiful), Frost, and Keats.  My yoga teacher reads poetry to us sometimes, and I’ve enjoyed that (she likes Mary Oliver). I also write poetry myself, mostly haiku, because I like to capture beautiful moments that I can’t photograph. And I always stop to read the poetry posts when I see them!

In retrospect, seems strange to think that I would have said I “don’t like poetry” until I suddenly realized that it didn’t seem like an apt description of my experience! The idea of not liking poetry was, I guess, a story I came up with to explain why I often don’t enjoy reading poems (which is true). What I think I was missing is that for me, appreciating and enjoying poetry comes in the form of ‘liking’ poems because they resonate with me in the moment that I experience them, not in the form of enjoying reading them in sequence at arbitrary times. It’s an excellent example of a case where I didn’t have a very clear sense of what my experience really was, and was definitely not a clear-eyed authority on myself. But now I am. Right? :-)

Back to running, with better understanding

I went running this morning, repeating C25K Week 2, Day 1, after a three week break. I was having a lot of pain in my feet and ankles after completing Week 3, and decided to take a week off — which turned into two and then three weeks before my feet stopped hurting.

I made some mistakes in my first attempt at C25K in my FiveFingers that I think I’ll be able to avoid the second time around.

The biggest one was just plain overdoing things. I’m new to running, so I was training feet, legs, and lungs all pretty strongly. I got all excited about exercise and activity and went on a 6.5 mile hike in FiveFingers after a week of running during which I’d begun to get sore. That pushed things over the edge, and in retrospect, reminds me of one of the early weeks of Waves to Wine training in 2008. I went farther than the schedule said (because it felt fine at the time) and then felt exhausted and sore for three days.

During the time off, I realized I was using my feet to absorb most of the shock of landing. I was walking downstairs one day and noticed a huge difference in the amount of force on my feet if I absorbed the jolting with my leg muscles instead of my feet. Apparently, I can get away with this while walking in FiveFingers, but not while running in them. My leg muscles, it turns out, are not thrilled about this change.

I also became very aware while running today that I’m still pronating my feet, which tends to direct pain to the outsides of my ankles in a funny way. I’ve been aware of this tendency since I had a bout of foot pain in 2004, and have been trying to counteract it, but I found that it was particularly difficult to do when I got tired and when the ground was very soft. Feeling too tired for good form should have been a big clue to mistake #1.

I haven’t always taking time to stretch and do muscle maintenance after running. My calves got overworked and tight, which certainly exacerbated, and may have caused, the foot and ankle pain.

Finally, it turns out that I feel a lot better running in my Sprints than I do in the KSOs. I started out in the KSOs because it was cold and wet outside and the Sprints tend not to keep my feet warm. But the Sprints seem to be more comfortable for running, at least right now. Not surprising, since that’s what they are supposed to be for.

Today’s run, on much firmer, drier ground using Sprints, was definitely much more comfortable than the first iteration of W2D1, which took place on a cold, rainy, windy morning, on sploshy ground, in KSOs. I’m hoping that can continue, although it doesn’t look like the weather is planning to cooperate on the “firmer, drier” point!