Samuel Smedley Talk

Samuel Smedley, Connecticut PrivateerTomorrow night — Thursday, February 21 — I’ll be speaking about Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer at the Black Rock Yacht Club, 80 Grovers Avenue in Bridgeport, right on the shores of Smedley’s very own port o’ call.

I’ll talk about Smedley, Defence, and how the division of prizes — that is, the proceeds from captured ships and their cargoes — impacted the Connecticut state navy during the American Revolution.

You don’t have to be a member of the club to attend! The presentation begins at 7pm.






Running Up That Hill

“One Running Shoe in the Grave” screams a Wall Street Journal headline:

In a study involving 52,600 people followed for three decades, the runners in the group had a 19% lower death rate than nonrunners, according to the Heart editorial. But among the running cohort, those who ran a lot—more than 20 to 25 miles a week—lost that mortality advantage.

Meanwhile, according to the Heart editorial, another large study found no mortality benefit for those who ran faster than 8 miles per hour, while those who ran slower reaped significant mortality benefits.

I won’t be throwing my New Balances on the bonfire anytime soon. “8 miles per hour” is an awkward phrase — runners gauge their pace in minutes per mile — concocted to mask how few people this second study applies to.

Eight miles an hour is a 7:30 pace, which is a good clip for most. To give you an idea of how few runners that is: In this year’s New Haven 20K (12.4 miles), only 379 of 2,373 finishers ran a 7:30 or faster. That’s 16 percent. In the 5K (3.1 miles), 410 of 3,548 finishers ran 7:30 or faster. That’s 12 percent. The remaining 84-88 percent of those racers, meanwhile, can expect to reap “significant mortality benefits.”

There’s not even an impairment here — the study simply showed no benefit for anyone running at sustained high speeds.

From this rather dull news peg the story then slides into the horrors of extreme sports like Ironman racing, which should shock the same folks who don’t realize pro boxers and NFL players sometimes experience brain trauma. Yes, elite (generally regarded as the top 10 percent of the field) and/or professional runners and triathletes often sustain injuries like “cardiac abnormalities,” increased risk of stroke, and a host of orthopedic ailments. That’s why it’s no country for old men. But the hebephrenic headline and tone of the article are misplaced, as are the “See? I told you so!” opinions of many of the commenters extolling the virtues of an inactive lifestyle while they rub the pizza grease on their bellies.

I’ll keep running up that hill, and if you run, so should you.

Samuel Smedley Commemoration

Hey sailor! Do you live in or around Fairfield, Connecticut? If so, on Saturday, October 27, I’ll be at the Old Burying Ground on Beach Road to speechify at the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Samuel Smedley’s death. Come on out.

The fun starts at 10am at the intersection of Beach Road and Fairfield Beach Road — we’ll meet there, then walk up the street to the Burying Ground. You can park at Jennings Beach.

Update: Here’s a write-up of the event.

Training Camp

Today the Kuhl family persevered through gnarly traffic and inclement weather to attend Patriots training camp.

Here’s Tom Brady completing a pass to running back Danny Woodhead.

Brady handing off while Bill Belichick scrutinizes every motion.

Aaron Hernandez catching.

Quarterback Tom Brady.

The man you want in a pinch: kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Third-string quarterback Ryan Mallett. According to Mrs. Kuhl, Hoyer will soon accept a starting job with another team, positioning Mallett to be our next starter once Brady retires in a few years. Time will tell.

“This Guy Was Living an Action Movie”

The local Minuteman has a nice write-up of my book by way of the restoration of Smedley’s gravestone:

The value of the captured cargo was then shared with the government and therein lay the rub. While the Continental Congress shared its spoils 50/50 with the crew of a ship, Connecticut kept to a two-thirds/one third division, which meant that Smedley had trouble getting crew, Kuhl said. With his ship thus undermanned, it was more vulnerable and hit a shoal off New London.

As for that gravestone, Lee told those gathered in Judge Caruso’s chambers on January 12, that he expects repairs will cost about $525 and that there was a prospect of some small donations already, but he wouldn’t mind if more were forthcoming.

Huzzah to reporter Meg Learson Grosso for highlighting the issue of prize division. It’s one of the most important points I hope readers take away from Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer.

Meanwhile, the judge signed off on the restoration. I’ve been skeptical of it being completed in time for a June 13 dedication ceremony, but now that wheels are moving I’m optimistic we can hit the deadline.

One misunderstanding I had: the inscription will not be recarved. Apparently the stone is too weathered and brittle. Disappointing news since the text is shallow and indistinct, although both expert Melanie Marks and D.A.R. rep Betty Oderwald told me the inscription is in good shape for its age, so maybe it will be easier to read once the stone is cleaned and the lichen brushed off.

Meg and I also made a short video in the cemetery on a cold windy day. Pop your Dramamine and have a look-see: