Thursday, July 31, 2008

to catch everyone up to speed

For those of you who haven't noticed the little box to the right of this entry, I've started to use twitter to post the little tidbits I see every day. I started using it because there was a way to post from an IM client. I'll be using it even more in the future (more on that later).

Its been so long since I've written anything here my firefox awesome-bar (new feature in firefox 3... if you don't have it you should) didn't even remember the url. So let me catch up a bit by posting not one, not two, but three whole things I learned today.

In no particular order:

My laptop is awesome : The moment I got home I poured myself a nice tall glass of iced tea and settled in to do some interneting. Or at least that was the intent... Instead I poured a nice tall glass of iced tea and then spent the next ten minutes trying to clean the tea off the floor and my laptop. The laptop was fine and the floor cleaned up nicely. Lets here it for ThinkPads... you can drop them, you can spill stuff on them, you can own them for years without an upgrade. (NOTE: dropping, spilling, and lack of upgrading not recommended

My car is awesome : For the last month or so my car has made the most hideous noise whenever I started it moving or went over a bump or roll in the road. I figured something in the suspension was messed up and took it in to get it checked out. One free inspection (For the record, CarX rules) later and my car was given a clean bill of health. Nothing seems wrong, there are no signs of damage, and everything else checks out. Shame the noise is still there.

Resistance is futile : This I almost hate to admit... I'm not an Apple fan. While I have nothing against their technological direction on a theoretical level, I've never been a fan of any of their products. It was sort of a, "wow thats kinda cool, but really not for me." The interface has always taken a back seat to the function and customization other technologies have presented.

That said... I've been looking for an all-in-one gadget to handle gps, social camera (you know... something point and shooty for taking snapshots of friends doing something stupid in a social setting), mp3s, and phone calls. Right now, the iphone is the best (or certainly the most popular) thing on the market. So in 10 to 21 days I'll be the some what hesitant owner of a brand new iPhone. I hope it lives up to the hype.

Thats all from here. I'll post a lessons learned once I start playing with the iphone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

that rock concerts aren't about the music

Some friends went to a Puddle of Mud / Saving Abel / Rev Theory concert and I tagged along. I know none of these bands are really hardcore but they are a lot heavier than the music I normally listen to.

The venue was pretty small and we had general admission tickets. The first few bands were good. They were loud (as you might expect) but ear plugs kept it manageable. Stuff started to get crazy when the headliners came out.

I managed to work my way to the front group of people that were standing near the stage. The crowd seemed to ebb and flow sporadically, so I just got used to getting pushed and pushing back. After a couple of really strong pushes from behind I turned around and discovered that I was part of the wall of the mosh pit.

I started deflecting moshers away from the group of girls that were next to me. One of the girl's boyfriends and I managed to direct most of the stuff away from our area. Two guys came barreling into me and caught me off balance. I fell into someone who promptly launched all three of us back into the mosh pit.

I was still in the air when I hit the far wall of the pit. The wall, who was really just one guy wearing a backwards baseball cap and a polo, sent me back the way I came. At this point I figured I might as well just go with the flow. I pinballed a few times (thank you middle school bullies for the practice) before someone put a death grip on my leg and I had to stop moving to make sure I didn't fall over.

Ah... good times... good times...

The rest of the concert was spent watching people be people at a rock concert. Oh! and I caught a pick from the guitarist with my elbow. "If you can't be good, be lucky"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

its funnier in japanese

I caught wipeout on and had some high hopes for it. I'm a huge fan of Japanese game shows and was hoping for more of the same. I think it looses something when you can understand what they are actually saying.

Did the pushups quicker than I normally do 'cause my collar bone seemed to be popping when I did them slowly. Not really sure what to make of that. On the upside, the quicker pace meant I could hit a new max. Go me!

Today's score card : 16 - 13 - 11 - 11 - 25
Current Max : 25
Total to date : 429

Monday, June 30, 2008

Week 2 day 1

Looks like Week 2 starts with another warmup round. This one didn't do too badly. Probably a good thing... its already been a long week and its monday.

Today's score card : 12 - 12 - 9 - 7 - 12
Current Max : 19
Total to date : 353

Friday, June 27, 2008

that muscles are tiny motors running on strings

Again, it pays to know people who know more than you do. Title says it all.

Day 3 came and went. I didn't the set without too many issues. Its nice to see progress. Still haven't felt like any of the sports I play are easier, but week 1 is in the books and its been fun. Monday starts week 2.

Today's score card : 15 - 13 - 10 - 10 - 15
Current Max : 19
Total to date : 301

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

that it pays to know people

I went rollerblading with a friend last night that has spent some time as a personal trainer. Its amazing what you can learn from your friends.

Apparently the trick to pushups is to put a book under your stomach. When you hit the book you know you can start pushing up. Also, having your stomach hit the book keeps you thinking about it and you'll keep it tighter. My stomach was a little sore by the time I finished.

I think once I'm done with this program I'll switch to the other exercise I learned about. Get two dumbells and use them as handles as you do a push up. Then alternate: 1 push up, 1 left handed single hand row, 1 push up, 1 right handed single hand row. That will handle arms, pecs, back, stomach, and obliques.

Today's score card : 12 - 12 - 10 - 10 - 14
Current Max : 19
Total to date : 238

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 1 (again)

I redid day 1 last night to get everything back on an even keel. Amazing how much easier it was to rattle them off.

It probably would have been a lot easier, but I was in a rush and didn't really take the recommended 60 - 90 second break between sets.

I'm posting late, but I did do all the work last night

Today's score card : 10 - 10 - 8 - 6 - 11
Current Max : 19
Total to date : 180

Friday, June 20, 2008

Persistance pays

Day 2 Week 1

I finished off the day, but that second set almost didn't make it. I also don't think I'm doing a full push up.

I'll be taking the next two days off and restarting week 1 on Monday. This will get me on a more manageable schedule and also give me a chance to do the week with some better form.

Today's score card : 12 - 12 - 10 - 10 - 15
Current Max : 19
Total to date : 135

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

that push-ups hurt

Day 1 (again)

So trying to do day 1 after the initial test wasn't a smart move. Initial set is 10 - 10 - 6 - 8 - max. Assuming the initial 19 were the first rep I made 19 - 10 - 6.

Started day 1 (again) and I was already sore. This doesn't bode well.

Handy note: Use a door jam to stretch before and after. It feels good and should help flexibility. Now if I could only figure out a way to make my wrists stop hurting.

Today's score card : 10 - 10 - 8 - 6 - 7
Current Max : 19
Total to date : 76

Monday, June 16, 2008

to push up?

I've taken a bit of a break from this site. I'm not going to apologize 'cause its not going to fix anything.

... sorta ...

Justin twitter'ed about this : and I'm up for the challenge. I was thinking about starting stomache torture anyways.

I'll try to keep a running report on here. If I'm accountable online I might actually see the thing till the end. With that said, the posts are going to be short and sweet three times a week for the next six weeks.

Initial test : 19 pushups (20, but I didn't want to push it too badly).
I'm going to try to do day 1 of the training today just so I'm on a good Monday - Wednesday - Friday schedule. I'll post on Wednesday about if this was a good idea or not.

Wish me luck...

Friday, May 30, 2008

the best political question ever

Imagine attending one of the many national presidential debates that are about to descend on us. You pay close attention to both candidates as they worm their way though question after question. Each response as carefully crafted and rehearsed as the question that evoked them. Suddenly a microphone is shoved in your face and you get a once in a life time opportunity to ask any question you want.

What question could you ask? What one question could cut at the heart of it all and demand a response that would go beyond all the normal nonsense? Last week I wouldn't have been able to help you, but now I know... you have to fight nonsense with nonsense.

All of that is to say that today I've learned the best political question ever: What would you do if zombies invaded?

I know... it doesn't make much sense, but hear me out. The question has to be asked separately about foreign and American zombies. Its a slight stretch, but the answers you get back will say a lot about they way a person views the world.

Zombies are everywhere these days, but they aren't the stereotypical undead with a jonesing for brains. The modern zombie is more of an idea. Anyone that isn't a zombie can become a zombie if they are bitten. This means every single innocent has the ability to be an enemy. It also means that zombies could very well be made up of people you know and love.

So the first point of order is: do you try to fix the zombie ala I Am Legend (the movie) or try to kill them (every other zombie movie I've seen)? Curing zombieism is an impossibly difficult task, but its the only way to reclaim the innocents that have crossed over.

Of course, killing zombies is about as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Comparatively, they have only rudimentary weapons and are poorly organized. Trouble there is that there are always way to many to kill with conventional means. The only way to truly take them out is to nuke or carpet bomb an entire area.

Political tie-in: Think about Iraq. Switch zombie for insurgents. See where I'm going with this?

Secondly, at what point do you stop caring about the innocents in the interest of self preservation? At some point would you close your borders to everyone? Zombies would create a lot of refugees. Refugees could bring their own zombies with them. Each person that crosses a border is another vector for spreading the invasion.

If you do close your borders, what measures are you willing to take to make sure you stay secure?

On the other hand, do you at some point give up on any innocents in an invaded land and seal off their borders? To take it one step further, if zombies can't be cured or contained, would you authorize the scorched earth approach to cleanse unclean areas?

Political tie-in: If your zombies are economic issues this is basically asking about immigration. If the borders are closed you can start talking about how to handle illegal immigration. Exchange zombies for political pariahs and sealing off borders starts to sound a lot like embargos.

Finally, if the zombies are invading your own land, how do you keep people safe? Do the same rules apply? Do zombies have any rights? Is there such a thing as a suspected zombie? I know I've woken up on more than one occasion feeling like the living undead. If there is any suspicion at all, would I get drug out in the street and shot to prevent the chance of spreading the infection?

Political tie-in: These zombies are closer to home. They are the criminal zombies. Murderers, thieves, and drug dealers. Admittedly, its easier to tell if someone is a zombie than it is to tell if they murdered someone. (The "Braaaaaains" kinda gives them away)

This whole post is absurd but I still maintain it works. For one, no candidate has ever been prepared to answer the zombie question (its just not something you study for). I suspect most candidates would just make a joke and continue. They are masters at side stepping hard hitting questions. A quirky question like this wouldn't even be a challenge to redirect. But, if you could get a solid answer it would tell you everything you'd need to know.

Lesson Learned: Make the object of the question so extreme and idiotic that they stop thinking along political lines and predetermined answers, and you'll get some insight into how they really thing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

the best way to frame a 13x13 print

I got a new office about a month or so ago. I've always worked in a cube before, so having an office with real walls and a door is a bit of a switch. I decided to get some art to fill the place out a bit.

I got two prints from a webcomic that has always impressed me Jump Station and Waterfall. I wanted to frame the prints but it didn't take long for me to figure out its impossible to find a 13x13 inch frame.

A couple of trips to hobby lobby and I had my answer. The guy working the frame counter took an exacto knife to the border around the print and I ended up with two 12x12 prints.

Cost for two 13x13 custom frame was $60.
Cost for two 12x12 frames was $8. ($8 / piece + a 50% off sale)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

that windows has an etc directory

I ran into a problem today where a server I was trying to access fell off the DNS I was using. (Don't ask me how or why, I just suddenly wasn't able to resolve the hostname)

After poking around and chatting with some other computer people I found c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc . This handy little folder contains hosts and lmhosts files that will let you manually define hosts. They also have a few other files that work on network configuration type stuff.

Hopefully you'll never have to edit them, but its still handy to know.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

that I love ballard street

Ballard Street is a syndicated comic that you should be able to find in your paper. I'm not sure what it is about it, but it always manages to crack me up.

The characters are always different in name, but the same in heart. They strike me as the kind of people that have worked long and hard and are now trying to figure out how to make retirement fresh and new.

Each strip shows someone trying to do something different just because they can and not really caring what anyone else thinks about it. But underneath that there is a genuine caring for the other characters in their life.

I was going to post one of the comics, but I don't think one is enough. Check out the last month's worth at Ballard Street @

Lesson Learned : There are so many good ones to pull out of this comic, but here are my favorites. Don't take things so seriously and always be on the look out for something new.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

that Minnesota hates hockey

and it makes me hurt inside.

Seriously Its the playoffs. NHL playoffs. The quest for the cup. In my book, the only thing better than hockey is playoff hockey.

Its game 1 of the playoff and the Wild (Minnesota home team) managed to land a #1 spot. I turn on the TV to find out where the game will be shown and I get informed, for the second year in a row, that our local FSN has decided to air basketball instead of a game that matters. Admittedly, a basketball game is better than last year's fiasco ( a baseball post game show), but still. Regular season anything should take a back seat to a playoff game.

If a regular season hockey game was taken off the air for the national shuffleboard playoffs, I'd be ok with it. I'd probably mock the tournament (seriously... shuffleboard?) but I'd still be ok with it.

And to make matters worse... this is MINNE-freaking-SOTA. We are "the state of hockey". I know this because it says it on flags all around the Xcel Center. Thats the trade off, right? We get the weird accent, freezing temperatures, and hockey. But its hockey, so we are ok with 1 out of 3.

Want to know the saddest part? I've been to Wild games and I've been to Sharks games (San Jose Sharks from California). It hurts me to admit it, but the Sharks fans (from California) are wa-ay more into hockey than wild fans. (And they are from Cal-i-for-ni-a. Winter in CA means the temps go from 70s to mid 60s and every talks about how cold it gets.)

Lesson Learned: Apparently MN is the state of crappy sports coverage.

EDIT : Come to find out, charter must have gotten an earful the last time they pulled this crap. The game is being rebroadcast on a local public access channel (channel 14).

Monday, March 10, 2008

to improv guitar

Or at least I took a shot at recording some of my messing around. I'd really like to turn this one into a song, but I'm not really sure of the lyrics, melody, or structure. All I got so far is a chord pattern I like and a picking pattern that sound cool.

Here is the link Riff Tide. The name is a cheesy play on words (Rip tide) 'cause the site requires a title and I thought the recording sounded a little like waves coming in and out at a beach.

I'll post again if I ever decide to do more with the song.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

to harmonize

I can't embed it here, but I started playing around with an audio recording program called Audacity.

You can hear the results on my music.metafilter page. Lots of stuff still to play with, including remembering how to sing on key :-)

Monday, February 25, 2008

fluff can kill a language

I may have the opportunity to use Ruby in the near future, so I thought I'd sit down and start learning. I picked up Dive Into Python and was amazed by how quickly and easily I could pick up and run with it.

I couldn't find a "Dive Into Ruby", but I did find a cleverly written book called Why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby. The first chapter had me giggling. The second chapter had me interested in this new odd little language. The third chapter made me look up the work poignant in webster's. (Go ahead, click the word)

As it turns out, Why's (anything but poignant) Guide to Ruby started out being 3a, turned 2a, and was never 3b. (told you to click the word) I was so busy trying to skim past the pointless (but mildly amusing) prose that I started to have a hard time seeing the important parts that talked about the language.

The guide would be wonderful if I had never programmed in any language before. Honestly, with a little tweaking it would make a pretty solid source book for a CS 101 type class. At any rate, it would be better than teaching all the little tykes Java. (Sorry, pet peeve) The trouble is, I'm not a freshman CS student. I don't care that a symbol is a little softer on a computer. I want to know what exactly a symbol is and what it is used for instead of a normal variable.

Though it is shame I won't be able to use it to learn Ruby. The comics look like something out of Achewood and the sidebars read like a Douglas Adams commentary.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

to love powder, mountains, and quality time with new friends

I just came back from four days on the slopes of Winter Park Colorado. I'm a little tired, a little sore, and absolutely blow away by how good of a time I had.

In the spirit of the blog I'll list the things I learned first.

1) Flow bindings rule
Check them out. If you snowboard you need to get a pair of these.

2) Powder loves you
I've never snowboarded in powder until this past week. I've now been in powder up to my knees and I love it. Word of caution though: keep your tips up and your momentum moving. I can't count the number of times I was watching clouds from my back after sticking the front end of my snowboard into a deep drift and getting it stuck.

3) ISU scuba club people rule
I laughed so hard my sides hurt. 'Course, that could have been the snowboarding for four days in a row... but I'm going with the laughing.

Its been a while since I've had that much fun. (I've got the stories and bruises to prove it). I posted some of my favorite shots of the week online and the slide show is below. Ask me about it and I'll link you to the full gallery once its up.