Mathematics, Medicine, Marathons and a Moron

10/22/00 06:00 Chicago Ė Soldier Field Parking lot

Captain Quirk: Bridge to Spotty: we are getting some readings in the yellow on those myosin units along the back of the superstructure and the temperature on the bridge has been up a bit for the last month Ė is this a go or no go?

Spotty: It looks ok down here Captain, it should be in the green by now, also that flight through the Muskegon Quadrant 26.2 last month showed no abnormalities and we were all back in the green by 24 hours after the race. The main power units and warp drive have never been in better condition. I think we will be fine.

07:30 Chicago Ė Grant Park

Weather: Temperature 60ís, skies clear, wind SE 10 knots, sun coming up, the horizon is filled with a pink smelly haze from the Gary Indiana steel plant.

Quirk: Smock what do you think?

Smock: Well Captain the objective here is to make the leap into Math Land. We just havenít been able to work out the digitalization of the Lebesgue space-filling curves. I suggest we move up to the 4:30 pace to stay in the shade early then walk the last 5 miles in the sun and smog.

Quirk: set the coordinates.

Chicago: mile 0 to 7 nice and slow. All sensors are in the green.

Chicago: mile 8. Not a bad run. The right foot is coming down, almost to the pavement. The marathon is crowed with people, runners and the usual festivities. It is a symphony of the senses.  All feelings, sounds, odors, tastes and sights are magnified, as the neurons are exquisitely aware of their inputs. The right foot is still coming to the ground. Chicago disappears.

Quirk: Smock what happened?

Smock: Sir we have made the leap into Math Land.

Quirk: On screen. Smock, what do you make of that?

Smock:  Captain that is the unit interval. It is folding itself to fill an n-space then unfolding back to the unit interval. The cantor points are the hinges. This is the Lebesgue space-filling curve we have been trying to visualize. The Lebesgue axis allows us to digitalize the mapping and obtain arbitrary precision in both directions. As long as it keeps on this side of infinity the transition is one to one, connected and smooth almost everywhere. At infinity the hinges fuse and the n-space cannot be unfolded. This may eliminate the computational curse of n-dimensions.

Quirk: Beam us down.

Quirk: All right Smock, make measurements and try not to forget any of this.

Smock: To see and feel something is not the same as programming. It will still take us quite a bit of time and we are going to run into unforeseen difficulties. There is always more than meets the eye. This will take some time.

Quirk: No more than 30 minutes or the allure of mathematics will become irresistible and we will not make it back to the ship.

Chicago: mile 8. The right foot hits the pavement. Math Land evaporates. Chicago is back live.

Jennifer: Dad you are weird.

Chicago: mile 10. The Sears Tower is on the left. It is too tall to see the top.

Spotty: Engineering to bridge. Captain there is something fishy going on down here. Something doesnít smell right.

Quirk: What? All the sensors are in the green. What are you suggesting?

Spotty: It is difficult to explain but there is a monkey wrench in the workings.

Wild Oats: An intelligent runner or program would have stopped my race here.

Chicago: mile 11. The alarm sounds.

Spotty: The lateral head of the right gastrocnemius muscle has gone into spasm.

Quirk: Wonderful.

Chicago: mile 11.3 more alarms.

Spotty: All muscle groups of both lower extremities are about to spasm. We have to walk.

Quirk: What? Here we have been strolling through the park and you tell me we have to walk from mile 12 to 26.2. That is pathetic.

Spotty: Aye captain.

Quirk: Wonderful.

Chicago: mile 19. The air is warm with a heavy industrial smell. Ambulances are frequently heard. The worst part of the course is coming. A crowd is ahead. A runner is down. He looks about 45 and overweight and dead. Poor fellow. A prayer is given for his soul and mine and everyoneís. Two ambulances, doctor, nurse and medics are performing CPR. Nothing I can add. All faces show the bewilderment and confusion at the mystery of death. We are all going to die but no one understands the meaning of it all. This guy would be alive if he had stopped five miles back. Possibly a clot in a 2mm coronary vessel narrowed to less than 1mm. Easy to fix. It is amazing what a difference 1mm makes. (Later it was shown  to be hyponatremia.) In the future we will have little robots floating in our blood stream clearing the plaques as they form. Chips will also monitor the ship and steer it to the harbor before it sinks. I have witnessed the death of perhaps a hundred people and the meaning of life is far beyond the grasp of my understanding. Some are saved. They have no doubt. If there is no doubt, there is no need of faith. Without faith, life is absurd. Others have only doubt, which is equally absurd. Faith and intellect, can they be modeled? If a computer has a free will does it have a soul? Do we have a soul? Why was I born? When will I die? Interestingly my death is of no concern to me, I only worry about my wife and the children.

Chicago: mile 22. More alarms.

Spotty: Something is very wrong.

Quirk: Could you be more specific?

Spotty: Nothing imminent Captain. We are not going to collapse or any thing like that.
Fatigue is setting in. Heart, lungs and blood pressure are all nominal. It is as if we havenít started but are very tired at the same time. Interestingly, all muscle groups ache, even the upper body.

Chicago: mile 26.2 Time is six hours. Good grief, what a crummy time. No shortness of breath, no sweating, heart rate in the 60ís, good blood pressure, good hydration, awake, alert but also a very strange tired sensation, all muscle groups, including shoulder and neck are very sore.

McCormick Place: that afternoon Ė going to meetings at the American College of Surgeons Ė sleepy. I didnít exert myself, nice and easy, what went wrong?

Marathon Plus 1 Day: More meetings, tired, everything is sore, even my eyeballs. My sinuses are plugged with slag. I should be recovered by now. It is time to go home.

Sleep for two days.

Operating and sweating and fatigued, this has never happened.

Sleep for two more days.

Something is quite wrong. It either canít be fixed or will get better on its own. I hate going to see the doctor. They make you wait, have you undress, then fill you with holes and other instruments. A few more days of this and my wife will throw me out if I donít see someone. As always, she wins.

WBC: 29K (normal 4-10K) mostly lymphocytes, my guess is leukemia.

Liver enzymes: 10 times normal. Probably hepatitis C from the prisoner I operated on two months ago.

The transmission of AIDS and hepatitis from the patient to the surgeon is so small, no patients should be refused treatment. However, if a surgeon has AIDS or hepatitis the patients deserve the protection from an infected physician. Contradictions abound in medicine and result in a lot of waste, most of it is our fault, but that is another story.

A Real Doctor: No nitwit, you donít have leukemia and hepatitis. You have mononucleosis. Any moron that would run a marathon with mono doesnít have enough neurons for a synapse.

Moron: The last three weeks have been spent in bed planning another marathon. The office has offered to arrange for a kissing booth at the annual party.

10/07/01 Another great Chicago marathon except a young man died from dehydration at the finish. Many "USA - USA" chants filled the air and while I don't recall the Chicago Police as coming across so warm and fuzzy during the distant Democratic Convention, I felt like giving them each a hug. This years story, however, is about my older sister whom I dislike for two reasons. One, she is my sister. (When we were kids she beat me in checkers so I hit her over the head with the board.) Two, she is a girl. Girls always win and that gets annoying*. Neither of us have time to prepare for a marathon but she has pushed the envelope into new dimensions. Typically she runs three miles once a week but did eight for the preceding month. Our older brother provided the game plan and a block or two was walked each mile. The glycogen stores lasted to mile 20 and we walked to the finish which she ran across at 5:40 with a smile on her face.

*The Philosophy of Perceptions:(unknown)
"If a man says something in the woods and there is no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?" 

Genesis Revisited (unknown):
God: Hey Adam! I have an idea! How about if I make you a mate? She will be just what you always wanted. She will do the cooking, dishes, laundry and raise the children. She will always be at your command and do what ever you wish.
Adam: Neat! How much?
God: An arm and a leg.
Adam: Hmmm, sounds pretty steep. What do you have for a rib?

My Wife: 
"God made woman because He didn't get right the first time." (Every Woman)
"If you really loved me, you would have married someone else."(The Lockhorns)

Nit Wit: "There you are Sweetie. The sun catchers you wanted are hanging. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Sweetie Pie "Well Honey, lets see, what could I possible want done a year from now?"
Sarcasm interpretation: It took me one year to hang the sun catchers.

Christie: "Dad I have to ask you a question but I want you to listen. Don't just stand there, smile, and shake your head yes like you do when mom is talking to you!"

Chicago Marathon 2002:
Time 5:01:18

Chicago Marathon 2003:
Too tired. Took a short cut after 10 miles back to the park and went to sleep.
A 29 year old woman died after crossing the finish line. She was in excellent physical condition. The day had
a high of 71 degrees. Three people had a temp of 107. One had a temp of 109. All survived.

Chicago Marathon 2004:
Time 6:06:53

Chicago Marathon 2005:
Time 5:53:19

Chicago Marathon 2006:
Time 5:44:04

Chicago Marathon 2007:
Too Hot. Another death in a 49 year old male with mitral valve prolapse. The condition is present in 2% of the
population including myself. It is not a risk indicator. After a bit more than 10 miles I ran back to my car. The
temperature was 89 at the time. They then stopped the race. The first 12 miles have some shade. The remaining
is all in the sun.

Chicago Marathon 2008:
Time 5:58:25