Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


Happy Air Force Birthday!

Happy Birthday, U.S. Air Force! For 62 years, the Air Force has merged technical excellence with mission focus -- ensuring that American power is without peer in the air, in space, and most recently in cyberspace.


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2nd Blogiversary

Wizards of Oz is now two years old! Thanks for continuing to follow and indulge my sporadic musings -- more than 75,000 visits in the past year, nearly double the total for year one.

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Happy Birthday, Carl!

229 years ago today, Carl Philipp Gottleib von Clausewitz was born in Burg bei Magdeburg in the Kingdom of Prussia. In addition to being a noted reformer in the Prussian Army during the Napoleonic Wars, he is also one of the most significant military theorists of our modern age. His magnum opus, On War, is required reading at nearly every intermediate service school in the world -- though his work is frequently misinterpreted, or only partially read. (Thankfully, the Chicago Boyz blog recently hosted a "roundtable" on Carl von's tome -- and Nimble Books will soon publish those proceedings in book form.)

Happy Birthday, Carl von!

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60 Years Ago: Secret No More

The city of Oak Ridge, founded solely as the site for enriching the fuel of the world's first nuclear weapons during the Manhattan Project of World War II, was a cloistered community where residents had to wear identification badges outside of their homes and visitors needed security clearances.

All of that changed sixty years ago, on March 19th 1949, when the "Secret City" of Oak Ridge was opened to the world at a "ribbon burning" hosted by Vice President of the United States Alben Barkley. Today's commemoration featured the contemporary peers of the dignitaries from that day (with the exception of VPOTUS): Gerald Boyd, Manager of the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge Office, for John Franklin, the 1949 Manager of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's Oak Ridge Operations; Dr. Thom Mason, Director of ORNL, for C. Nelson Rucker, the 1949 Director of X-10; Mayor Tom Beehan, for 1949 Town Council Chair W.A. Swanson; and Rev. Mark Walton, 2009 Pastor of Glenwood Baptist Church, who delivered the same invocation as Rev. Roy Arbuckle, the 1949 Pastor of Glenwood Baptist Church.

In the 1949 "ribbon burning", following remarks by Fred Ford (the 1949 U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Director of Community Affairs), George Felbeck (who led the K-25 gaseous diffusion purification plant for Carbide) made a 13-word telephone call to the operators at the Graphite Reactor in X-10 (ten miles away in Bethel Valley, today's Oak Ridge National Lab) to initiate the energy pulse that would burn the ribbon and officially open the Secret City to the world. While the 10,000 onlookers on that day had to wait nearly three minutes for the capacitors to charge and the ribbon to burn, today (after city historian Bill Wilcox's identical call), we only had to wait about 40 seconds:

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AMSE and Neighbors

Today I took the older kids (two plus visiting friend Jake, who was Shelby's Baby Hui pal way back when in the 1990s) to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. AMSE is the best museum deal we've found, with a family membership for only $35 and several pages of reciprocal museum listings worldwide.

This week is the 60th anniversary of both the founding of AMSE as well as the "opening" of Oak Ridge, so admission was just a quarter (yep, $0.25) per person.

Jake showed how to levitate (with the help of a floor-to-ceiling mirror), while (below) Shelby tried the Van der Graaf generator and Jarrett worked in the Y-12 style glove box.

After a quick stop at the Razzleberry Ice Cream Lab, we walked down the hill for a "farewell party". Dozens of neighbors and friends came to wish us safe travels -- a bittersweet evening!

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One Day Old

Baby girl made it through the night with some sleep. Actually, with a lot of feedings -- and, now that it's daylight, ample naptime. Our dear friend Becky from Virginia drove in last night from the Hampton Roads, and is showing off her new Nikon D90 SLR digital camera with the shot above (one of the first ever with the new cam).



Day of Deliveries

It is a day of deliveries! What better way to see in the Autumnal Equinox, which is occurring the moment I am writing this.

First, Annasophia-to-be has decided she wants to be an Equinox Baby (or maybe she just wanted to be born under Virgo). So this morning, at 0300 EDT, CINCHOUSE's contractions intensified in their 30-40 second duration every 3-4 minutes. Not quite the "4-1-1" metric for heading to the hospital (i.e., 4 minutes apart, 1 minute duration, for 1 hour), but after three hours of contractions we headed to the hospital anyway.

So now we are in a labor-and-delivery room, epidural administered (as well as Pitocin, to further encourage the Peanut M&M's arrival), and I'm capturing this for posterity:

In addition to a baby girl on the way, today is also the formal release of the first book I have been a part of -- The John Boyd Roundtable, ably edited by Mark "Zenpundit" Safranski and published by Nimble Books.

So it's truly a "Day of Deliveries"!

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Coast Guard Birthday

The U.S. Coast Guard is our nation's oldest continuously-serving maritime agency. What began under Alexander Hamilton's Dept. of the Treasury in 1790 (as the Revenue Cutter Service) has become the standard bearer for preparedness and service to our citizens.

From the Coast Guard website:
1790-Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's proposal to build ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue (Stat. L. 145, 175). Alternately known as the system of cutters, Revenue Service, and Revenue-Marine this service would officially be named the Revenue Cutter Service (12 Stat. L., 639) in 1863. The cutters were placed under the control of the Treasury Department. This date marks the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard.
Happy Birthday, Coasties!

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1st Blogiversary!

Exactly one year ago I ventured into the deep waters of the 'blogosphere, inspired by the likes "of Tom, tdaxp, Zenpundit, Shlok, Soob" to "see how deep this rabbit hole goes."

After 213 blog posts (many from my Treo 680), 37,873 hits (since we started tracking in late August of last year), many face-to-face meetings with Überbloggers whom I had only known online before taking the red pill, and a vastly expanded Blogroll, the ride keeps getting better.

My humble thanks to all who have visited, commented, advised, challenged and cajoled. I have learned volumes, and hope that the coming years will continue to present even greater opportunities for exchanging ideas in order to make our world a better place.

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Happy USMC Birthday!

Though November 10th is revered as the birthdate of the Continental Marine Corps (at Tun Tavern on the Philadelphia waterfront in 1775, when Major Samuel Nicholas [the Corps' first Commandant] was charged to stand up two battalions of Marines), the formal creation of the United States Marine Corps is this date, July 11th, in 1798.

The Act of Congress that split the Department of the Navy out of the Department of War also called for the "Reestablishment of the Marine Corps". Monthly stipend for a major, as stipulated by the law, was to be fifty dollars per month and four rations per day; "and to the nom-commissioned [sic] officers, privates and musicians, conformably to the act, intituled 'An act providing a naval armament,' as shall be fixed by the President of the United States..."

Semper Fidelis!

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Happy Army Birthday!

Happy 233rd Birthday, U.S. Army! J-HOOah!

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Birthday Sex & the City

SatC GirlsCINCOZ celebrates her birthday today, so we honored the occasion with a "cocktail party / Sex & the City movie night". Mind you, CINCOZ is not one for imbibing whilst expecting -- so I ensured that her want of a Cosmopolitan was duly noted on her shirt:

(Gratuitous, unpaid promotion: Check out Kristen's most excellent site, Baby Brewing, with some hilarious tee shirts and maternity wear -- R is sporting a "Mommy Wants a Cocktail" maternity tee, while I am "Drinking for Two". And if you really want some world class parenting humor, check out her 'blog Mommy Needs a Cocktail.)

Thankfully, I was well-versed enough in the characters (thanks to R's weekends watching re-runs via HBO-On-Demand) and their various psychoses. I was even pre-briefing a couple of R's friends before the movie (a feat they all found quite humorous). As one of only seven men in an otherwise packed theater (and the only one accompanying seven stunningly attractive, intelligent and successful women), I had a great time. (Top that, Dante!)

Definitely a trail to avoid....

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Happy Navy Birthday!

On this date, April 30th, in 1798, President John Adams signed into law the bill that established the Department of the Navy. While the U.S. Navy celebrates its birthday on October 13th (honoring the 1775 founding of the Continental Navy), the modern U.S. Navy -- with its leadership vested in the civilian Secretary of the Navy -- was created on this date. Benjamin Stoddert of Maryland became the first Secretary of the Navy.

Happy Birthday, Navy!

(And a belated Happy Birthday to blogfriend Shlõk, who just yesterday attained an age sufficient to be entrusted with the purchase of alcoholic beverages.)

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Big changes are afoot in Oz. First, and certainly most importantly, Lady of Oz is expecting:

The little cashew is due in late September, so we're hoping for a cool Tennessee summer.... And since I'm probably twice the age of your average blogger (i.e., shlok + tdaxp = Oz), this is doubly joyful -- and doubly daunting!

As if adding a third child isn't enough for 2008, I have moved on to other professional opportunities. It was a fun year-and-a-half with Enterra Solutions -- I learned volumes from Stephen DeAngelis and Tom Barnett, and am thankful for the opportunity to hitch my wagon to their star. However, my role in Tennessee and the company's explosive growth in other areas (e.g., Kurdish Iraq) were not a good fit.

So, effective tomorrow, I will join Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam and his extremely impressive team at the New England Complex Systems Institute as their Director of Program Development. Since I have long believed that "Complexity Theory" will be for the 21st century what "Quantum Theory" was for the 20th century, I am very excited to help apply new scientific methods to everyday challenges.

In addition to joining NECSI, I am also launching a new company: EMC2 LLC, a consulting and team-building firm that seeks to fill a void between high-level emergency management and local (individual, family and company) disaster preparedness.

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same

Strange fascination, fascinating me ... :-)

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Space and Cake

All the banter about the U.S. Navy shoot-down of a failed spy satellite distracted me from the lunar eclipse last night. Thankfully the local Fox news affiliate made mention of it at the top of the 10 o'clock (EST) hour -- plenty of time for me to set up the 5" Maksutov-Cassegrain and snap this photo through the clouds. The moon (well above the horizon) looked like a dreary, rising harvest moon -- even the big crater Tycho was hard to discriminate.

As for tonight, Eldest of Oz decided she wanted to bake her own birthday cake (with assistance from Man-Cub) for tomorrow's party:

Big changes ahead in Oz -- I hope to post more by early next week.

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Tagged: Christmas Meme

Local friend Citizen Netmom has been tagged by LissaKay to provide a "Christmas Meme" profile, so I'm following her lead. Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share Christmas facts about yourself.
3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of "Getting to Know Your Friends."

1. Wrapping or gift bags?
Gift bags - the ultimate convenience in gift-giving!

2. Real or artificial tree?
Artificial pre-lit. (See comment on "convenience" in 1. above.)

3. When do you put up the tree?
Me? Never. My bride? Usually just after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down?
After our annual Epiphany Party in early January.

5. Do you like egg nog?
Not as much as what you can put *in* the eggnog.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
A BMX bike when I was 12 years old.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes (a small porcelain one).

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
At an office "gag gift exchange", I ended up with a plastic hand pedestal that was supposed to be a remote control holder. We kept it in the closet until the follow year's gift exchange.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Despite my comments on "convenience" above, this is one area where we go all out -- mail is the only way for us. Our family photo is planned months in advance (this year's card was from a February trip to Mexico, complete with Santa hats in the luggage), cards are ordered shortly after Halloween, and labels printed the week before Thanksgiving. We have made a habit (perhaps bordering on Obsessive-Compulsive :-) of mailing them the day before Thanksgiving -- sort of a green flag for friends and family of the start of the holiday season.

10. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Black Friday. My lovely bride, however, starts the day *after* Christmas for the next year.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
My bride's crockpot turkey (never dry!). And my Grandmother's & Aunt Peggy's Secret Toffee.

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree?

14. Favorite Christmas song(s)?
Sarajevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

15. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
We usually travel -- we have family and friends scattered throughout the country.

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Yes (though it might take me a while). Don't forget Olive! (As in "Olive, the other reindeer..." :-)

17. Angel on the tree top or a star?

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
One selected gift on Christmas Eve, the rest on Christmas morning.

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Some people let themselves get too stressed out -- so courtesy seems to be too rare this time of year, ESPECIALLY on the roads and parking lots.

20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color?
Classic white lights, gold trimmed ribbon, with lots of sentimental-value ornaments.

21. What do you leave for Santa?
Milk and cookies, of course. And some carrots on the lawn for his reindeer.

22. Least favorite holiday song?
Anything with "singing" animals.

23. Favorite ornament?
Our Macy's-New York City "Curious George" ornament (showing George climbing the Empire State Building in a clear glass globe) from their 75th Anniversary Parade.

24. Family tradition?
Besides what's already been described here (decorations, cards, gifts), we have an emerging tradition of performances. Both kids play in holiday piano recitals, and Renee always performs with the church choir in their Christmas performances. Also, Shelby has performed in The Nutcracker three of the past four years now -- and Jarrett has said he wants to be a "party boy / mouse soldier" in next year's Nutcracker.

25. Ever been to Midnight Mass or late-night Christmas Eve services?
Yes, a couple times (once in San Diego, when my mother-in-law visited us there; and another time in Minnesota at her church).

I will be passing this "tag" on to the following blogfriends (updated to link to their replies):

Sean Meade

Can't wait to see what they post... Merry Christmas to all!

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National Guard Birthday

The oldest organized military establishment in the Americas, the National Guard of the United States, was founded December 13th, 1636. (Yes, 1636 -- less than a generation after the founding of the Plymouth Colony, and only 29 years after the first permanent British presence in the New World began at Jamestown, Virginia). From Wikipedia:

"On December 13, 1636, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had ordered that the Colony's scattered militia companies be organized into North, South and East Regiments--with a goal of increasing the militias’ accountability to the colonial government, efficacy, and responsiveness in conflicts with indigenous Pequot Indians. Under this act, white males between the ages of 16 and 60 were obligated to possess arms and to play a part in the defense of their communities by serving in nightly guard details and participating in weekly drills. After the United States came into existence, state militias would develop out of this tradition."

According to Title X of the U.S. Code, Section 311, the militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and ... under 45 years of age who are ... citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. This militia is organized into two parts: the National Guard, and the "unregulated militia".

Happy Birthday, National Guard!

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Birthday Race Day

Man-cub turned 7 today, and decided it was fitting that the state-champ Oak Ridge Cross Country team also hosted their annual "Elementary School Turkey Trot" today as well. Jarrett has shown to be quite a runner, completing a 1.2 mile run (the last 2k of the Knoxville Marathon) back in March and taking 2nd place in a local 1/2 mile race this past summer. So he entered the 1st Grade heat of the Turkey Trot with a lot of confidence -- and, as the photo above shows, blazed into the home stretch with only the ORCC wingman ahead of him.

Despite an errant turn on the final approach, he quickly corrected his course and rounded the last turn with a strong kick to take first place. Final time for the 3/4 mile (1200m) course: 6:37. The photo to the right is Jarrett (and trophy) with legendary coach Allen Etheridge, himself an accomplished distance runner with a 15:05 record 3-miler and a 2nd place finish in the 2006 Knoxville Marathon. Coach Etheridge led this year's Oak Ridge High School teams (both boys and girls) to state titles, and later this week will fly with his team to Portland, Oregon for the Nike Team National Championships! GO WILDCATS!

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New Arrivals!

Earlier today, my daughter's pet chinchilla Duchess had her first litter: two kits, a white one (tentatively named Marie) and a tan (name still TBD). She got her first chinchilla (Chippy, not seen in the photo above) more than three years ago as a reward for enduring the Mother of All Road Trips. This past spring we found Chippy a mate, which now makes us "Chinchilla Ranchers".

These have got to be the best pets ever! They have soft fur, no smell, take baths in a dry "dust bin", and their scat is like dry grains of wild rice (very easy to clean up). And the babies have open eyes and are mobile from birth, so there has been zero effort required on the part of the humans in the house.



Happy USMC Birthday!

The Marine Corps was founded 232 years ago today, on November 10th 1775, in a tavern on the Philadelphia waterfront near today's Penn Landing. A marker denoting the approximate location of the Tun Tavern (now under Interstate-95) is located on the east side of Front Street, between Walnut Street and Chestnut Street.

In 1921, Commandant Lejeune began the tradition of formally recognizing the founding of the Corps:
On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of it's existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the nations foes. From the battle of Trenton to the Argonne. Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home. Generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term Marine has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.

As the proud descendant of a long line of Marines (grandmother, grandfather, uncles, dad, cousin), and having had the privilege of serving as a civilian in the Fleet Marine Force for four years, it is with great pleasure that I say, "Happy Birthday, Marines! Semper Fidelis!"

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Happy Navy Birthday!

On 13 October 1775, the Continental Congress of the fledgling United States passed a resolution to purchase and fit out two vessels as warships. This naval force was intended to intercept British supplies that were supporting and sustaining the occupying forces in America. That same resolution also created a Marine Committee consisting of John Adams, Silas Deane and John Langdon to oversee naval affairs. The Continental Navy was born! The resolution read:

Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct.

That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an estimate of the expence, and lay the same before the Congress, and to contract with proper persons to fit out the vessel.

Resolved, that another vessel be fitted out for the same purposes, and that the said committee report their opinion of a proper vessel, and also an estimate of the expence.

For nearly ten years of existence, the Continental Navy served to bolster American morale during the Revolutionary War. However, its cultural success far exceeded its tactical success -- virtually every ship constructed was either sunk or captured. Those that weren't were eventually auctioned off, the last remaining vessel (
USS Alliance) being sold on 01 August 1785 for $26,000.

After the American victory at Yorktown and the disarmament that followed (since many felt that having a standing military force would "only serve to involve America in conflicts it had no service in being a part of" [1]), it would be nearly 13 more years until Congress authorized the creation of a permanent naval force in response to an overseas threat. The United States Navy was formally chartered in April 1798 to protect America's growing interests abroad, and to thwart the threat posed by the Barbary Pirates.

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Cresting "The Hill"

At 8:35pm EDT tonight, I will complete my fourth decade on this earth. Since we've heard the iconic Raquel Welch declare that "60 is the new 40", does this mean "40 is the new 20"? I guess I need to go back to campus and find a kegger or two... :-)

To kick off my "Cresting 'The Hill'" weekend, last night I decided to climb the hill -- literally -- by riding my trusty steel-frame Moab mountain bike over Blackoak Ridge on the Dept of Energy "North Boundary" Greenway. Usually I'm able to crest the 400' vertical climb (7-8% grade for about 1-1/2 miles) without much trouble; this time I had to stop three times. Feeling old and decrepit as I stored my bike, I noticed that the rear tire rim (which I had removed earlier to replace the tube) was rubbing against the still-hot brake pad. So while I take solace in the fact that my physical stamina is as good as ever, my mechanical skills have clearly atrophied...

(BTW: The photo in my profile, as well as my "hyperlocal" personalized WIRED cover for the July 2007 issue, show my Moab in much better operational condition.)

In the Blogosphere, Dan tdaxp and Tom Barnett yesterday made similar posts on the quest by some for the "compassionate" side of conflict. Dan's is the second installment of his six-part "Dreaming 5GW" series, this time delving into the deliberate and explicit thought processes needed to conduct war: war, that is, except in the 5th Generation. Paralleling Zenpundit's recent post on Superempowered Individuals (exceptionally intelligent "lone wolf" actors who dispassionately leverage and exploit society's complex systems) Dan underscores the implicit and esoteric nature of the 5th Gen. warrior's ethos.

Tom's post is a critique of James Taranto's July 26th Op-Ed in the WSJ, decrying the circular logic apparent in the Democratic Party's platform on U.S. interventionism abroad. Tom, one of the most optimistic people I've ever met who always sees opportunity for growth and betterment, aptly notes the dichotomy between his lifelong registration in the Democratic party and Bill Clinton's self-deprecating psychoses in Rwanda and elsewhere as he whines that he should have done something. Tom has truly embraced the entrepreneur mantle, which (as our mutual boss Steve DeAngelis has written) demands optimism.

I believe these posts are very positive developments in our collective understanding of conflict. Regardless of how we segregate the historical evolution of warfare, the basic tenets of "Just War" doctrine remain apt in any conflict. [Donning flame-retardant coat in expectation of a thumping critique from 4GW and 5GW theorists...]

As for birthday festivities, Household 6 presented me with a very cool "Life is Good" technical t-shirt after a morning run with Deichman the Younger (who, at 6, demonstrates far greater physical abilities than I did at 16). With the New York City Marathon barely three months away, it's time to get serious about training -- and to consume as much carrot cake as possible to ensure my glycogen stores remain fully stocked! :->

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