Friday, December 31, 2004


It's the New Year. I've not really made any resolutions like losing weight or anything, but I've decided to make some changes.

As opposed to the vague resolutions of years past, I've decided to be specific.

The first change revolves around my diet. I know I eat too much, but I don't really know how much I eat. So I'm going to start journaling what I eat. And perhaps that will motivate me enough to actually modify my diet. I figure I'm eating an average of 3300 calories a day. And while my 250# frame seems to absorb that just fine, I'd rather not have a weight that can be labeled as 1/8 ton. Granted, 200 pounds (a weight I'll only achieve if I get very sick) is still 1/10 of a ton, but at least we're talking double digits there (10 has two digits...). Besides, the number 250 just seems too large for anyone who isn't a professional athlete.

The other change is to become more active. Ok, that's still a vague resolution. But I've got a plan. My first goal is to race in sprint triathlon the Beaver Freezer. I'm not sure what my goal time is, but I figure I should be able to beat 1h30min pretty easily. Perhaps I'll shoot for 1h20min. And then I'll look for other triathlon's in the area, perhaps one at Hagg lake.

And, I hope to race in a few mountain bike races. I'd like to find someone with whom I can race, but people haven't really been all that excited. If I can get someone to join me, I'll do the Spring Thaw in Ashland at the end of April. That's the race that got me all excited about riding a singlespeed.

Since I'll be logging all my food (starting tomorrow I guess), I'll also be logging my exercise. I found a web page that not only has a bunch of good articles about triathlons, including a nice training schedule for someone who's going from couch to sprint triathlon, they also offer a free service for logging your exercise. It's pretty trick. I might log stuff there as well.

The exercise is really just an excuse to use the new heart-rate monitor I got for xmas.


Mary and I went to the beach for the week after Christmas. As opposed to driving into work every day, I've been working from Seaside for the past few days. There's a little coffee shop, Espresso Connection, that has free Wi-Fi.

The italian sodas are tasty, if a bit expensive. But I figure that's the price I pay for working from the coast.

There were some interesting characters that came through the shop in the past week. Here were a few of choice quotes:

"It's an ice machine, I don't know why it's spitting out so much damn heat." (Someone obviously didn't pay attention in physics class.)

Two people were complaining about money: "I've got 4 TV's, but that doesn't mean they're nice."

No explanation needed:

Q: "You ever get your cigarettes in the mail?"

A: "No, I've got 20 cartons in the mail. They're all lost in the mail."

And I wasn't sure what to make of the last one:

"He didn't need to be drinking a beer while having that radioactive stuff put into him."

Monday, December 20, 2004


For as rainy a reputation as Oregon has, we've been having a great winter. Though the skiers would probably disagree - here it is less than a week before Xmas and Mt Hood only has 30+ inches of snow, Bachelor weighs in at a whopping 48. Not good. In fact, pretty piss-poor. I'm glad I've not been so keen on skiing lately b/c I'd be crushed.

Anyway, the weekend was beautiful. I took my new singlespeed into the hills on Saturday. I have a newfound respect for those blokes who ride singlespeed the entire time. I did a loop in McDonald forest I've done dozens of time, and I couldn't make it up that little section of switchbacks. Usually, when riding uphill, I can stand on the pedal and my weight will be more than enough to push the pedal down - making me go forward. No longer, with the 2:1 ratio, I had to muscle the pedals around on the hill, and my legs weren't up to the task on the steeper section. Usually, the only place I walk my bike is in Moab, on 30 degree slopes.

Needless to say, I'm gonna have to get out more often on that bike. I don't think I want to do any races with it, but I do want to be able to actually ride with my wife. At this point she'd just pedal past me - probably gloating. I know she'd pass me b/c she's ridden up that stuff before.

But, needless to say, it was a great ride. It began in the fog, and as I gained elevation in the forest the sun started to shine through the trees and the fog - making cool shadows. Soon enough I was above all the fog and in the sun. I wished I'd had a camera, but that would have meant more weight - and I was barely making it up most of the incline anyway. The ride down really showcased the difference between the plush full-suspension ride offered by my Epic, versus the old, bottom-of-the-line-when-it-was-new, front shock and hard tail Raleigh M-600. The latter feels more like riding a jack-hammer when coming down gravel roads.

That evening I made egg nog - from scratch. I love egg nog, but I've never actually made it before. I took a recipe out of the Joy Of Cooking and modified that. It was the standard recipe that had you beat the egg whites until stiff, and fold them into the rest of the ingredients. I used half-and-half instead of cream, and of course, only the freshest of organic eggs. The result was a very light nog, a little too light - the liquid would usually drain out of the egg white foam while I drunk it, leaving behind a tasty, but frustratingly difficult to drink, foam. I think the next time I make egg nog I'll only beat the whites (yeah, beat whitey - so many ways to take that) until they have a good body - but not to the point of even soft peaks forming. I think that would result in an easier to drink, and richer, egg nog. By Sunday, the foam had dissipated, and I was left drinking "flat" egg nog. It was still very tasty, but not as thick as the store bought egg nog.

On Sunday, Mary and I again celebrated the beautiful weather and hiked in the forest for a couple of hours before the sun went down.

What a wonderful winter...

Friday, December 17, 2004

Latest Engaging Thoughts

I've had some Engaging Thoughts you may or may not find interesting. The Bush administration is behind two of them - and the result of a third.

privitizing social security

school teaches that slaves had good lives

national parks service sells book with biblical explanation for grand canyon

the rapture index and the election

YAFL (yet another frivolous lawsuit)

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Gads, nearly 3 years ago I received a unicycle for my birthday. The party was rad, Mary set it all up as a surprise down at the beach house. Best 30th birthday party ever.

Anyway, I got a unicycle because I'd had the hankering for doing something new and different, and unicycling always seemed cool. This from the guy who thinks telemarking, single speeds, and the hammered dulcimer are all just the neatest things since sliced bread.

The actual goal of the unicycle wasn't just to ride around the neighborhood. The two little girls that lived across the street from the duplex Mary and I used to rent could do that. They were always taunting me, riding by on one wheel. I had to learn.

Plus, years ago I'd seen some footage of Kris Holm riding around the North Shore on Vancouver Island, B.C. Now, if you don't know about the North Shore, the bikers up there decided that single-track just wasn't interesting enough. Instead, they modified the terrain by adding bridges made of 2x4's (and I mean that the bridge was 4 inches wide), teeter totters, huge drops, and all sorts of crazy structures. These trails would be hard to walk, let alone ride with two wheels, forget about riding a unicycle. Well, Kris rides this stuff with his unicycle - I saw footage of him taking a 6 foot drop. Apparently he did not suffer damage to the family jewels.

Just take a look at some of these pictures of Kris from his 'best of' album: tall bridge, Bhutan, wire bridge, santa cruz, hand rail, vegas baby, and prow wall.

Wow. Seriously, take a look at all of those pics.

Anyway, I decided that my goal would be to get good enough to do some basic mountain unicycling (aka muni). And I would define success as being able to ride up Bald Hill.

Well, it's been two years, and my longest, unaided, ride was about 30 feet. And I haven't been on the unicycle since early spring.

Mary was talking to someone who's husband rides with the local unicycle (and juggling) club. Actually, he's so into it, that he got a bunch of guys from his work to start unicycling at lunch and doing muni on the weekends. So, I'm going to give the club a shot. I'd figured it was a bunch of kids, but now that older farts (like myself) do it I'm not so intimidated.

Google Library

As you may have heard, Google is going to digitize the contents of several libraries and make them publicly available. While this is an admirable task, I think the press it has received is a little too much.

The announcements often talk about the idea that the public will really win from this, that it sort of turns copyright on its head - wrestling control away from the publishers and giving it back to the people. And others think that Google will just increase its level of copyright infringement.

The reality is you probably don't care about the books they'll digitize.

You will only get full access to books whose copyright has lapsed. Copyright has only lapsed on books that are 75 years old or so. Remember the Mickey Mouse copyright battle in the courts (aka Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act? Well, it keeps books in the hands of the publishers. Most people really don't care about books that were published at the turn of the century. Seriously, when was the last time you picked up a book back then?

Any queries that hit newer books (the ones you read) you'll get a couple lines of context, which is nice, but it's not turning copyright on its head or somehow making the books available to you and me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Santa Clara

I had the pleasure of working at Intel's Santa Clara site all last week. Our customer wanted some re-assurance that they were getting the level of support and focus they were hoping for. So I hopped on the plane and flew down Monday morning.

This was my first time in SC with a car rental. Normally I just went for the day and took the shuttle that provided door-to-door service (the two doors being the charted-Jet-center location and the entrance to SC12 (one of Intel's buildings). I don't have a Hertz Gold Card, so I had to hoof it a quarter mile to the building where Hertz kept their service people.

Driving in SC is just a bit busier than driving in Portland. All the main streets are a minimum of two lanes each direction, and the main thoroughfares are actually 4 lanes each direction. You can take U-turns at many intersections, and traffic is (of course) worse.

I made it to Intel's building just fine, and I even saw the hotel where I'd stay (all of 2 minutes from SC12 - an easy walk if it weren't for the 8 lane road you'd have to cross).

I worked a bunch, and hung out with Bill one night.

Work progressed fairly well, we got some results for the customer and a new release for them to play with.

I was booked on the 4:30 flight out, and since the Jet Center is all of 2 miles down the freeway from Intel, I gave myself plenty of time (30 minutes) to get there. I didn't count on the fact that my directions were not to the Jet Center, but were instead to the main airport. So I took the exit toward the airport and drove in circles - looking for any sign of the jet center. Of course the Jet center was nowhere to be found, and a couple of the people I asked had no idea what I was talking about. Long story short, I arrived 7 minutes late and lost my seat.

Great. Thursdays are packed and I wasn't able to get on the later flight. I broke the news to Mary and back to the hotel I went.

Now it's Friday morning, and I'm here at the Jet Center 20 minutes before I can even check in. And what happens? The place is fogged in and flights are delayed at least an hour. sigh...

By driving around SC I've been exposed to new things and I have a few observations.

1) all the parking places are way too small

You'd think that in California, land of the car, they'd make the parking spots large enough to accommodate the mid-sized sedan I drove. Yet most every parking lot I had the pleasure of navigating had about 2 feet of clearance on either side. That's barely enough space to open the door and stick my foot out.

2) apparently SUVs aren't as popular in SC as they are in Oregon.

Especially at the parking structure at SC12, but in general, I saw very few SUVs. Most people seemed to actually be driving regular cars. I found this very refreshing.

3) many many many radio stations

This is obvious. The Bay Area just has a ton of radio stations. I never get to listen to them when I'm in SC because I'm usually working. Driving around affords me the luxury of checking out all the stations. I found myself listening Usher, popular Mexican, techno, and, of course, KQED. I've always liked that name (read the definition of QED). I got accustomed to the radio stations while at grad school, and have missed them ever since I went back to Portland - and especially now that I live in Corvallis. While a great city to live in, Corvallis boasts only about 5 radio stations.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


I get all these ideas of what to blog about, usually while I'm on the pot or while driving my long commute, or any of a variety of times where I don't have the computer handy. And, "no," I don't use my wireless laptop while on the crapper, but that's not a bad idea.

Miles has taken to carrying a little audio recorder to take messages, which is kinda dorky. Plus, next to his cellphone and pocket PC, it seems a bit redundant. Whatever, that's not for me. Plus, I'd have to listen to myself, and I don't like that - I'm lucky other people are nice and pretend to listen to me.

My latest idea was to blog about my xmas wish list, but that seemed even more vain and self-absorbed than normal. So I'll have to slide the gift ideas in subtly. Like, if I were to get something to record voice messages, I'd probably go whole-hog and get the iRiver 799 because it plays mp3s as well (and can now be found for under $200). Though the N-10 looks real slick and is less than half the size.

I'm still looking for good programming blogs, but it turns out that most of the good programmers spend their time programming, or if they've got enough ideas, writing books like Modern C++ Design or C++ Template Metaprogramming. Maybe if I spent more time programming and less time looking for blogs on programming I could write a book. (BTW, both books are on my wish list).

About the best thing I've found is USENET. I've been reading usenet for years - before the Web was even around (not long before). I read the emacs newsgroups (, gnu.emacs.gnus, gnu.emacs.sources), the C++ group (comp.lang.c++.moderated), and occasionally comp.lang.tcl. The C++ one generally has some pretty big names on it and the quality of the information is relatively high - especially when Andrei or Dave Abrahams writes.

The one thing I've gotten really accustomed to is RSS. I wish all web pages would provide an RSS (atom, whichever) feed so I wouldn't have to manually check them for updates. I really appreciate the "pull" model it provides, as opposed to the barrage of email and spam I get in my inbox. I think it'd probably work well in the work setting as well.

But enough of blogging, must get back to "reality."

Monday, December 06, 2004

Movie Review: The Contender

Mary and I rented The Contender last weekend. We knew only what the back of the DVD case said about it, and forgot all of that before we even watched it.

Great movie. It seemed kind of slow, but totally kept us enthralled. The character development was good, the acting great. All in all, most definitely worth the rent.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


I finished the singlespeed bike. Yay.

I even test rode it: just a little jaunt to the gym and back. Both times I started biking I immediately tried to shift up as soon as I hit a certain RPM. Of course there was no shifting to be had.

I did not feel super efficient riding w/out the shifters, and I certainly didn't notice the lack of weight. The bike feels different enough from my full-suspension Epic just because it's a hard-tail, with a 7 year old bottom of the line front shock, and narrow handlebars. Oh, and the pedals are still my Speedplay Frogs, so my feet got sore b/c I was just wearing normal tennis shoes.

So, if someone wants to get me a pair of $12 platform pedals (metal please), or, if Santa wants to be real nice, the crankbrothers mallet c (color: anthracite).

Friday, December 03, 2004


Over Thanksgiving I got to eat Ambrosia. I've always loved this salad for some reason, it's probably the marshmallows.

My mother-in-law made it with yogurt which was yummy. She didn't put in any marachino cherries, which I missed. But I can't turn my nose up at Ambrosia.

The other interesting food I recently became aware of is the persimmon. Last year we got some in our food box. I didn't really pay them much mind last year, but I've been eating them up this year. My latest finding was a persimmon salad:

slice 1 persimmon into wedges
slice 1 tomato into wedges
tear up spinach or arugula
toss with your favorite savory dressing


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hidden Rose Apple

Wow, I picked this apple up from the co-op a couple of days ago. It's a variety I've not seen before and it was on sale.

As you can see from this picture

it's a pretty apple, and it happens to smell nice as well. So I bought a couple and didn't really think about it.

Today I bit into the apple, looked down and saw a bright, pomegranate red interior! Amazing! What appears to be a normal apple is actually hiding a vibrant interior. Really cool. The apple tastes pretty good, but visually, this has to be my favorite apple.

It reminds me of my first experience with a blood orange.