So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Strong Convictions

Listening to a Public Radio International program, The World, a researcher is trying to help reconstruct the voluminous amount of un-shredded (but hand-torn) data left behind by the East German Stasi (state security service) after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. To this point, the information has been picked out and rejoined by hand; the best reconstructionist on the project to this time can put together the contents of one bag (presumably the size of a full-sized grocery bag) in a single year. Yep, that's a needle in a haystack in a barn full of haystacks. The researcher is trying to find a methodology, using scanner and computer technology, to subdivide the material into smaller piles so reconstructionists can have an easier time.
In the case of a single person's life (if they were considered a dissident) that's probably thousands of pages; probably millions of pieces...and in the best case, all together in the same bag. I guess the first question would be to someone looking from the outside, 'who cares?' But, if you're the person whose life was adversely affected by the decisions of a handful of bureaucrats, you'd probably be screaming for justice, or at least something that resembles closure. It might not make everything better, but it certainly would provide that AHA! moment that would better explain why something went wrong for you, given all of the available information to the contrary.
Basing strong convictions on exceedingly small amounts of data are never really good. Yes, there is that faith thing, but it usually pales in the face of the scientific method. If you're out and running little more than five easy miles at a stretch a couple of times a week, the odds are good you're not going to be able to run a terribly fast five kilometers. Stepping to the line without the prerequisite speed work, the right kind of tempo work, long aerobic running, or sufficient rest in your training plan is like trying to read a smudged, torn-up document...or applying make-up while the bathroom mirror is dirty and smudged. Your results are probably going to be less than stellar; you'll miss the gist of the message.

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