Jun 272008

Went to the gym this morning around 7:15am, then over to my physical therapy appt. next door. Michele took new measurements on my range of motion and apparently all the PT has been working, because I gained 20 degrees on my left hamstring, and 10 on my right. Ankle range increased by similar but smaller amounts, with the right still less than the left. This was surprising, since my left heel has been the one in the most pain. Their theory is that because the right leg and right side of my back are stiffer, it throws off my gait and puts more impact on the left side.

Afterward I had my usual ultrasound and ice massage on my heels. The ultrasound tech girl had another girl help her with the ice so they could do both heels at once. We all chatted for a bit til it was done. I got up off my stomach and sat on the table to put my shoes back on. I had a tight black t-shirt on and must have been still a bit pumped up from the gym, cuz the perkier one looked me up and down and said jokingly, “Geez, don’t you work out? Like, ever?” I just kind of smiled, blushed, and mumbled something, but it made my day. I told Aaron about it, but he didn’t understand why it was a compliment. I guess you had to be there.

Not wanting to spend the day at my desk, I took myself to see Wall*E at 1:30, and it was up to Pixar’s usual great standards. Really a fun, cute movie, with just enough adult references snuck past the kiddies. On the way to the theater I stopped at the GNC to grab a meal replacement shake and as luck would have it, they had cases on sale for $30 instead of the usual $60, so I picked one up. It also gave me an excuse to talk to and ogle the very cute, muscular sales guy. He looked familiar enough that he might go to my gym but if not I’ll have to find excuses to buy more stuff there. :oP

Since the movie I’ve done pretty much nothing but play City of Heroes, and now that I’m on call my options are limited anyway.

Jun 262008

Found an interesting article on Lifehacker this morning: What Books Have Changed Your Life?

"Technologist and well-read fellow Kevin Kelly lists the books that have changed his life. Life-changing books are not just your favorite books, he explains, but 'books that altered your behavior, changed your mind, redirected the course of your life. Books as levers.'"

While I have a lot of favorite books, here are the ones that have changed my life in some way: changed my beliefs, altered my behavior, or just broadened my worldview in profound ways, in no particular order.

Also on the list, but not available on Amazon, are:

THE NEW MAGUS by Donald Tyson (which introduced me to concepts of quantum physics before I knew what it was)
TIME TO STAND UP, a speech by Richard Dawkins (which was my "shock and awe" introduction to atheism)

The Celestine Prophecy Driven To Distraction : Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Throug Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist Where the Red Fern Grows (A Bantam Starfire Book) The World Without Us

Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics Mage: The Ascension (Revised Edition) The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence Wraeththu (Wraeththu)

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Jun 262008

Today I’m out at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, MI for their big press-only Ride & Drive event. I’d never been out here before and it’s pretty damn impressive. I meant to bring the camera, but totally forgot in the rush to get packed last night and drive to the hotel. roadster_guy joined me shortly after I arrived at the hotel, and I left him snoozing away this morning, since I had to meet the others at 5:30, and he’s not scheduled til 8.

The proving grounds themselves are HUUUUGE; I expected maybe just a large test track and a garage, but no. This place covers what seems to be hundreds, if not thousands, of acres and mostly resembles huge tracts of farmland and trees, just like the surrounding area. Various types of roads run everywhere, and the shuttle bus to the main tent crossed over a four-lane highway that took me a few seconds to realize was also part of the proving grounds, and not actually a public highway. It’s very peaceful out here, at least until the journalists (including roadster_guy) arrive. All the rolling fields and stands of trees are covered in a heavy mist, and the isolation makes it very quiet.

The main tent is an enormous steel-framed affair with seating for over 350 people. The restroom trailer looks like a refrigerated truck on the outside, but like the bathroom of an expensive hotel on the inside: faux granite, dark wood, two flushless urinals, and two fully enclosed stalls with their own doors. I’m parked in one corner at the IT table, where there are ten laptops and two printers set up for journalist use. In theory I’m here to make sure everyone can get access to the internet but, since I already made and tested the changes necessary, my day will be spent catching up on some work and surfing.

Zingerman’s is catering the event, and there are endless supplies of all kinds of things I shouldn’t be eating. I’ve already been seduced by a chocolate croissant, and I’ll try real hard to restrain myself throughout the day, but it’s free Zingerman’s. *swoon* I intended to get up early enough to do cardio, shower, and change in time to be in the lobby at 5:30am, but just couldn’t make it. Mungo needs sleep.

And there are cars, and more cars, and MORE cars, and trucks. Entire rows of them lined up for various press types to be impressed by and drive around. Rumor has it that even the lowly IT hacks will get to do some test driving, but Aaron already promised to take me along at some point if I can’t.

Supposedly this will be over at 2, and we’ll be out of here around 3, after which I’m off until Monday because I worked (ha!) four 10s this week due to the summer hours program at work. Unfortunately I’m on call starting tomorrow at 5pm, but I’m not complaining.

Jun 252008

For the third time I actually got my ass out of bed and to the gym early enough to work out, shower, change, and be to work by 7am. This despite forgetting to reset and turn on the alarm for 4:45. Luckily(?), Aaron was in "snore like a wood saw" mode all night, and one of the five times I was woken up was at 5:10am: just barely enough time to get up and out by skipping my stretches.

This is all well and good so far, but I'm usually good at starting new projects; it's finishing them that becomes an issue. We'll see. About two weeks in is where I start to get lazy about planning and preparing food, making bad choices when we go out, etc.

I've weighed myself all three mornings so far before showering, and the gym scale has read 1 lb. less each morning (197-196-195), even though I'm eating all damn day. Our scale at home needs to be tossed, because it randomly adds or subtracts up to 5 lbs each time you get on it.

I've decided not to set any complicated goals, like a certain number of inches gained for each muscle measurement. Instead I'm keeping it basic:

– Add 10 lbs. of muscle.
– Drop 4% body fat (from 14% to 10%).
– Comfortably wear nearly any pair of size 32 pants I pull off a store shelf (since they vary so much between manufacturer).

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Jun 232008

Visited Mom on Saturday. She's getting around great now, and has all but stopped using the cane. She still has to take stairs slowly, but otherwise the surgery pain is all gone but for her kneecap (which was split open to do the knee replacement). The original pain from the bad knee is completely gone and she can walk without limping. I helped her haul many bags of trash to the dumpster; the aftereffects of major redecorating, painting, and reorganization. Now that she's fully mobile again, she's been using the time off work to catch up on all her projects, and the house is looking great. She starts back to work tomorrow, however.

I also got to spend more time working on her iMac. Mom needed a refresher course and some fixes to things that had seemingly changed on their own (translation: user error), and I wanted playtime on it. That thing is such a joy to use that it keeps me motivated to keep saving for my own. I ran some updates that hadn't been caught by the automatic updater yet, installed the trial of Comic Life, showed her the cool screensavers (including the mindblowing RSS feed display), and, in a "Duh!" moment, found that iPhoto does indeed have basic editing functions. What it doesn't have, at least that I could find, was a way to add keywords to multiple photos at once. Very annoying.

After I left, I decided to finally stop at the Sonic in Southgate to see what all the fuss was about. Aaron was put out that I was going without him, but said that I may as well, since he has no idea when he'll be able to get down there.
I pulled into the Meijer parking lot to access the Sonic and encountered a sign in the road saying "Sonic traffic right turn only". The Sonic was to my left, and I didn't see anything to my right except the vast expanse of Meijer's parking lot, so I turned left anyway. The first of the two entrances/exits was blocked off with sawhorses, so I had to go in the further entrance and make a complete orbit of the parking lot to get in the drive-thru lane. There were two high school/college kids hanging around the entrance, getting in the way, and twice tried to tell me something but I ignored them, figuring they were gonna ask for money, or to buy them something so they could skip the line.

I got my food (double cheeseburger, jalapeno poppers, cheesecake bites with cinnamon caramel sauce, and cranberry slushie), pulled out of the lot, and discovered what it was the kids were trying to tell me: the line to get in was actually in the Meijer parking lot, where there were two columns of cars waiting their turn to be allowed into the Sonic lot. I had accidentally jumped ahead of about a dozen cars. I felt like a bastard, but if Sonic has people managing the parking, they should have them dressed in something other than scrubby shorts and tank tops so people KNOW they're actually working. Another sign of the place's popularity is that they had an entire refrigerated semi trailer on the lot to restock the store from, and I saw a couple employees coming out of it loaded with boxes of food. The place is a zoo, but the food is very tasty.

Most of yesterday was spent (after our usual Dim Sum Sunday) clearing out junk from the basement. The broken refrigerator which had sat there for about three years was emptied out, the Lovecraftian horror in the produce drawer banished through the use of an Elder Sign, the doors removed, and the whole thing hauled up the small square staircase accompanied by much swearing, sweating, gouging of walls, and cursing of the laws of geometry.

Also disposed of were the old wrought iron patio chairs, the chimenea (used once, followed by a cease & desist letter from the condo association), and boxing bag and stand, which was claimed by our cute neighbor two doors down. The Jawas* had claimed the chairs, the chimenea, the fridge doors(?!), and its copper tubing and coils, by the end of the evening. Wish they would have taken the whole fridge, and spared the garbage men the effort.

After buying some cheap metal shelving from Home Depot and organizing the camping and homebrew equipment, the laundry room is now a thing of wonder. I discovered that it does indeed have a floor that reaches all four walls, despite years of evidence to the contrary. Clouds of dust and lint no longer swirl at our feet like a Depression-era dustbowl. I finally found that damn sock. Next on the list is the basement's main room, which should go much more smoothly now that there's room to actually store things.

In order to actually start lifting weights again, I decided to give the Body for Life program another shot (but not the actual contest). The first attempt, years ago, was a failure because I didn't plan well, didn't buy enough food, didn't have good equipment, and wasn't used to the method. Now that I've spent a couple years doing something similar with the trainer, I've got a feel for how it's done, which should help my progress.

I prepped all my food and clothes last night, turned out the light at 10:15, and was actually out of bed and headed for the gym by 5 a.m. I miscalculated how long exercises would take me, and ended up cutting the last one short (bicep curls) so I could shower and change, and that took less time than expected, so I was in the office 10 minutes early.

We'll see if I can keep this up, but if I can get through the first two weeks, it should be ingrained enough to have become a habit. The change in sleeping times will be a killer, but I've found that working out first thing in the morning makes me feel good for the rest of the day, instead of sitting in the cube for 8-10 hours, then facing the prospect of the gym afterward, when my energy is low.

* Jawas are my term for the neighborhood scavengers who cruise the streets the night before trash pickup day, hauling away any "treasures" they find. I'm all for it, as I'd rather see someone else get use from my old stuff instead of it ending up in a trash dump.

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Jun 202008

Apple just announced full support for Sun’s ZFS (Zettabyte File System) in the next version of Mac OS X Server, 10.6. This won’t provide me any direct benefit until it’s released for the desktop version (and not much even then), but I’m still geeked about it from a pure nerd standpoint.

Gory tech details can be found here, but basically:

– It has complete end-to-end data integrity. It always knows when a block of data is corrupt and corrects it automatically. No more Disk Doctor or checkdisk required after power failures, BSODs, etc.

– It implements high-speed RAID with full stripe writes throughout, with no controller card required.

– It does away with the concept of disk volumes (no more C: drive). All drives become a single “pool” of storage. As drives are added (or removed), the size of the pool changes on the fly.

– It can manage a maximum single file size of 16 exabytes, and a single storage pool size of up to 256 zettabytes, which is…really frickin huge:
1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
1000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
1000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte

Jun 182008

After churning through another batch of them, I’ve dumped them up to Flickr. These are my rock climbing and Skagway shots, sandwiched between Glacier Bay and the zipline trip in Ketchikan. Next set will be from the land & sea photo safari in Juneau, most of which were taken by Aaron.

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