Sunday, February 6, 2011

Triangulation, Honesty, and Culture

I enjoyed a three hour solo run yesterday afternoon. I can't say exactly how long I was out and I can't say exactly how far I ran; I use the iphone as my measuring device but part way into the snowy wet run I discovered that it was getting wet even in the Zip-lock baggie and it was inexplicably displaying Facebook, sharing that a high school friend of my sister's enjoyed the Mellencamp concert, instead of presenting my up-to-the-second data on MapMyRun. I decided I should shut it off and try to dry it out; I put it inside a couple of extra gloves I had brought along. I would be off the grid and have to reconstruct my data; my elevation gain, mileage, and time would all be estimates now.

My experience is that runners generally tend to be honest. I think I've read a discussion before about whether running makes one honest or whether running appeals to honest people. I think part of it is that runners constantly face undeniable personal truths. Our challenges are with ourselves. Collectively, this contributes to the character of the runner's culture. I define culture as the actualization of the unwritten rules that we follow to survive. Running is often done alone but through common experience a runner can connect with a runner from anywhere. Second to second triangulation of my location helps me document the honest facts of my running.

On Wednesday GPS helped me determine the facts about the dishonest disappearance of said iphone. It was on my desk for most of the day (I teach at an alternative high school) but I left for a while to make some copies and evidently forgot to lock the door to the classroom. Through a trial offer of FamilyMap by AT&T I was able to determine the location of the phone and cross reference that to the address of a student. The center of the GPS circle placed the phone at the driveway side of the house. When the police showed up, the student removed the phone from her backpack that was sitting right there by the door leading to the driveway.

The student lied about taking it, saying she had merely found it in the girl's bathroom. In the course of the investigation a friend of hers gave her up saying that he witnessed her taking it. These kids live in a culture where the the only running they do is from the police, and the unwritten rules are you tell a lie instead of the truth, if no one is looking you take it, and you don't snitch because you wouldn't want someone to do that to you. And you get mad at the people who catch you and you blame the victim.

Maybe running should be part of the correctional process. Notice I didn't say punishment; I would never want someone to run as punishment.


  1. My favorite was the very last paragraph. That said, I love the t-shirt that says, "My sport is your sports punishment"

  2. Thpugh running can be punishing at times, it is never punishment!

  3. Great post John. I am sure working in this school brings you a lot of joy and reward regardless of having to lock up the doors. It is you that will change their prospective on life and break the cycle. Cheers to teachers!!
    And, glad you got your phone back.. I would be devastated without mine.