Prime Speed Limits, Negative Socks, And Can I Put An Intravenous Line In Your Arm Today?

Hi folks, welcome.

Life is full of odd conversations, each containing buried wisdom. They just go by us all the time. You’ll miss them if you don’t pay attention, like the way I lost my Hawaii Ironman slot by missing the roll down meeting. Sports, like blogging, requires that you pay attention to what is going on around you, especially on those dangerous descents on the bike or when you have writer’s block. Recently I had several strange conversations, the first being about a speed limit sign at a local mall. The limit posted around this particular mall is 19 mph. Why 19 mph I asked myself and my companion Nick (13-years old)?

A great book that opened my mind to the beauty of primes and the Reimann hypothesis. From:

I love prime numbers, and 19 is one of my favorites, which reminded me of an excellent book on the subject, entitled ‘Prime Obsession‘. In fact, I read it in Hawaii when my son, Nigel, was in the Ironman (He was number 96 overall one year – proud dad). The beauty of this book was the fact that the chapters alternated. There would be a brief account of a portion of Riemann’s brief life, and then a chapter of mathematics written in such a way that you needed very little math to understand the gist of the story. Gradually you were taken through Reimann’s life, and towards the goal of comprehension of his hypothesis on prime number theory. Both were really interesting, so I mentioned this to Nick, who is a bright kid, but he gave me an odd look as if to say, “Yep! You’re really weird, Kevin.”

‘Man Striding’ by Alberto Giacometti. His sculptures always seem to have big feet. From:

Just prior to seeing that bizarre speed limit sign, Nick and I had been having a conversation about socks. We were at the mall to purchase shoes as his were now too tight – he is shooting up and his foot size reminds me of a Giacometti statue, meaning he is going to be tall. Nick was in the store explaining that his shoes had been tight for a while, so I suggested that he buy some negative socks. I received an odd look, and he said “What?” “Well, Nick,” I replied, “if your shoes are too big you can put on thick socks to fill up the extra space and they feel better, right?” He nodded in agreement. So I then said, “That is because they take away or fill up actual or positive space in your shoes. But if you had negative socks they would add space, and then your tight shoes would be looser and more comfortable. Right?” He looked puzzled, then the light went on and it got him thinking, which was what I was trying to do in the first place. The idea of ‘negative socks’ came to me from a couple of sources, one being the negative space used for improving your drawing, and which has been applied cleverly in advertising (just look at the FedEx sign). The other source was my interest in ‘inner space’ as a kid. Basically, if you can go outwards to infinity, why not inwards too. This idea used to fascinate me as a kid, when I would imagine worlds within worlds within worlds? You might wonder who would be interested in the silly idea of negative space. Well, a couple of days later this conversation was mentioned to a group of teenagers, and they immediately got into a long and interesting debate about it, including comments on the nature of Mary Poppins handbag.

Outdoor seating area at the Looking Glass Cafe, Carrboro, NC.

The Universe is an odd place, so it pays to question everything, even the ‘obvious absence’ of negative socks. Well, in that mall, anyway.We still wonder about this idea from time to time. So a speed limit sign of 19 mph didn’t seem so odd after all. When I am in long races on hot days my feet swell a bit, and I sure would like to have a pair of negative socks in my pocket, in fact I could store things in them, like extra food.

A few days later, whilst sitting at the Looking Glass Cafe, the name of this coffee shop reminded of negative socks because of the similarity of this idea to the journey Alice took through the looking glass. It is a nice place, with cedar chips under foot, and some of the best coffee around. As I was following this train of thought my partner, and enthusiastic nurse Deb, initiated odd conversation number three. She said, “can I put an IV [intravenous line] in your arm today?” I said, “No!” as I always do to this question. Deb loves her profession as nurse, and she is always looking for ways in which to improve her skills.

FitOldDog’s veiny arms. It is funny what impresses girls. Being fit is certainly one of them, even if your 68!!

Every time Deb sees the veins in my arms they are viewed as the perfect target for venipuncture. It is true, triathlon training does give us nice prominent veins, and practice makes perfect if you are a nurse. That said, I don’t want my arms punctured unnecessarily, thank you very much! What has this to do with triathlon training? Several things, actually: (1) question the obvious, including the general state of knowledge on training and nutrition, we are still guessing to a large extent, (2) looking good makes you feel better and can provide you with more choices in life, and (3) contrary to my initial assumption, my last race number, 2877, is not a prime.

Finally, if you don’t want people sticking needles in your arms at the race, stay out of the medical tent by getting your nutrition and hydration right.

By the way, if you do find a source of negative socks, please be kind enough to let Nick and I know as we would love to buy some.

-k Your Medical Mind



  1. Negative socks.
    If you try very hard not to look for them to the point where you are actually aware of yourself actively not looking – then they will just pop into view.
    You will see them bigger if you are actively not looking through a telescope and as very small if you are actively not looking through the other end of the telescope.
    Things have a different perspective depending upon the direction from which you do not look at them.

    On the subject of perspective, or viewing point: This is an old one of mine:-

    Fred came home and found that his goldfish was swimming up side down
    in it’s bowl. He rushed it to the vet who could do nothing for a
    fish. So he took it home again. Throughout this experience the
    goldfish observes all that’s going on and sings this song:-


    Chorus World’s walls are made of clear glass
    Outer space is such a scream
    Watch it as it floats past
    like living in a dream

    There’s gravel for my ceiling
    The floor is made of air
    This is my natural being
    It’s the same everywhere
    Green weeds hang from the skyline
    Food floats up from the floor
    It rises to my eyeline
    And eating’s such a chore


    Just watch that weird space being
    He lives out there in hell
    Stuck onto his ceiling
    And swinging like a bell
    He’s made the floor a quiver
    With his flapping around
    What sometimes makes me shiver
    Are the ripples on the ground


    World’s caught up by this being
    As it flies through the doors
    Rolling and a reeling
    Chaos churns up the floors
    And trees grow from hell’s skyline
    Space floors are fluffy clouds
    Torment flies by the eyeline
    Beings spin round in crowds

    World’s walls are made of clear glass
    Outer space is so inane
    Chaotic as it whirls past
    It’s driving me insane

    Oh! look at these space beings
    Two now out there in hell
    Stuck onto their ceiling
    One cannot be too well
    His eye’s gone big and shiny
    It gloats below the floor
    Bright lights start to blind me
    And I can take no more

    World’s walls are made of clear glass
    Outer space now makes me scream
    I’m watched as it floats past
    It is an eerie scene

    World’s grabbed now by a being
    And flies around once more
    Spinning and careening
    Violent froths the floor
    Lampposts are on hell’s skyline
    Hell’s floor is a blue void
    More torment’s at the eyeline
    This could get me annoyed

    World’s walls are made of clear glass
    They see through glass darkly
    Watch them as they float past
    I see them quite starkly

    World’s put down by this being
    And settles down once more
    With gravel for a ceiling
    Floor is flat as before
    Green weeds hang from the skyline
    Food floats up from the floor
    It rises to my eyeline
    And eating’s such a chore

    World’s walls are made of clear glass
    Outer space is now serene
    Watch it as it floats past
    Like living in a dream


    Tune something like “I had a little nut tree”

    • Kevin Morgan says

      Hi Trevor,

      I enjoyed that, I really did. So at least one person seemed to like the ‘negative socks’ idea.

      -k @FitOldDog

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.