I have been working on the tech post and am at a decision point. I either need to do an exercise in linguistic economy of which i am capable but do not prefer, or serialize the tech post into two or three episodes. I am leaning towards serializing at this point and will know in the next day or so. Either way, I will be mixing some insight with some whining about technology here quite soon.

General news – work is going well. I am not sure yet what form the current India project will take. The more I learn, the more the picture changes, but it is a very interesting project. Of course, working on one kind of new thing makes me have many other new project/product ideas and I am slow cooking development on a second idea to pursue in tandem or as a replacement should that become necessary.

I passed seven weeks off the booze and that is still going pretty well. The biggest adjustment issue remaining (at least so far) has to do with writing. I still have lots of ideas in my head, and I still think that many of them are decent ideas, but the process of writing does not have the same magic to it these days. I expect that this will pass/change with time and so I do still write despite not being filled with energy by the act. My suspicion is that this is tied to a larger and deeper issue related to my long term suppression of emotions and passions. Hopefully I can learn how to feel things and experience passion again without getting overloaded (in any sense).

The exercise front is a bit of a good news bad news deal. I run at night and it has been so cold this month that I have only three runs to my name. I will do more as the weather improves. On the plus side, I have been sticking to the stretching and floor exercise routine. I am doing that twice a day consistently now and have upped my reps this week to hit 360 ab exercises daily. While I am definitely still squishy, I am down to 185 and wearing 33s again. I plan to continue upping the reps weekly by 10 per activity and staying with two-a-day workouts so that I should be hitting around 700 reps of ab-tivity by the end of April!! I do have one day hike and one multi-day hike coming up in March and I could not be more excited about that unless it was back in California with my trail dogs! Whoooooop Whooop!!

Enjoy the rebirth of Spring and treat yourself to some outdoor time.


I finished all the house painting about 10 days ago. Since then there have been a few small chores on the punch list – finishing with de-clutter, rearranging and reorganizing stuff, usual things. But these tasks have not occupied me daylight to dark the way the painting did.

I have applied for three jobs. A small feat for some of you out there that are job seeking juggernauts, but a pretty good rate for me. I even had one interview already. I did not get that job, but it was awesome to seek a job and get an interview. That has actually never happened to me ever in my life. So – progress. These have all been local prospects, which is not what I really want, but only one is a full-time gig and ya gotta start somewhere.

As always, there are some things stirring with RAI, and as always, i ain’t gonna talk to y’all about deals that have not been signed, but there is some potential in that direction.

With the manual labor completed and having a nicer and much quieter place to work, i am now situated to dedicate much more of my time to the job hunt process. Many things i am interested in will be a bit uncertain until at least Nov 7, if not until 2013, but there are loads of things i can do to be ready when opportunities become viable/reliable. Revamping my online files with the US gov and private sector Aid sites i use for job hunting as well as a few of the companies that work in areas that interest me, and research, and apply apply apply.

That is what’s on the table for me now. It is liberating and daunting this go round, the Job Hunt, doing this without having to consider my canine dependents. I can go anywhere! There are a few international opportunities i am looking into, but i really want to move to California. Whenever i tell someone that they always ask, “Where?” The answer for me is easy – anywhere that allows me to easily spend time in the Sierras. I am not generally a fan of clothing as a gift, but i got a fantastic shirt from my folks that expresses what i mean to the letter.

"The Mountains are Calling and I must Go." John Muir
“The Mountains are Calling and I must Go.” John Muir

If you are curious, my resume is available online to read and/or download. And if you are hiring, i have done and can do almost everything. Thus ends shameless self-promotion.

In the meantime, i got out to golf 6 times this Fall: twice with random folks at my local course, once with Vance and a neighbor at the local, twice with Vance at my favorite course in the area, and once with Vance at the annual NGEF tournament on the MINDS team. These were my first six outings in a year and i/we broke 100 four of those times – one 98 at the local with my dad, a 98 and a 95 at my favorite (and more difficult) course with my dad. We were 1 under par at the tournament. Not great for the format, but the first time any team i have played on broke par. I think it is too late in the season to do much more work this year, but i was on a good track putting my game back together, my swing is doing awesome, and i am adding a few utility shots that are helping me bring the scores down. If i have time and money to play, i expect to be shooting in the 80s next season.

It has been a long time since i stopped running, but i have restarted with my stretching and floor exercise routine. So far, i have only been doing it once a day, in the mornings, but i hope to add an evening session in soon. I am holding off entropy and maintaining 185 or less. With the second session, i should be able to get even less jiggly.

Oh, i joined LYP last December and was very active for about a month, before moving back to AZ to help Jake with some personal stuff. I am reengaging with them, attended another mixer, and volunteered at a fundraising event to support housing for moms and kids Nov 2nd. I like the LYP folks i have met so far, but i have not met too many as i am less interested in the social events. Some of these are called networking mixers, but the potential to meet with employers or decision makers has been nil. However, the group has grown and things could be different now. I will have to try out a few more social events. I do like volunteering and appreciate the outlet for doing good locally.

There is another tech related update in the works and still the JMT!

Be well.

Big Ball o’ Random (or small pile of unassociated items)

1. Kelly made me realize that i did not put out the word on Lucas. After writing about it here, i never closed the loop. He is doing great. His stomach was pretty much settled by the time i got back on Monday. The vet visit on Tuesday was super and he passed all his various blood work and other tests. It was just a simple upset stomach with no larger issues related. That is what i suspected, but it always nice to get more definitive analysis.

2. Last weekend’s trip to NOVA was fantastic.  It was better than i could have imagined it would be.  I am not finished processing and feeling and remembering – but it was a great time.  The music was awesome, and seeing old friends was hard to describe – in a good way.  There are many people who showed up that i did not get to spend much time with, and there were definitely folks missing, and other friends that i did not get to see – but that is kind of the nature of trying to fit twenty plus years of catch-up into one weekend.

JS, TS, NR - photo KAB
NR, KAB, LT, KM(R) - photo some guy we got to snap a shot

Aside from seeing old high school buddies, i got to re-connect with some “newer” friends as well. When i lived in Annandale in 2006/7, Lucas and i made many friends through the Mason District dogpark, but there was one family we bonded with deeply and almost instantly. The whole circumstance is strange in that two less-than-social dudes met, bonded, and have stayed great friends. Like many situations, the dogs had a lot to do with it. Lucas will get along with just about anyone, but he has had few great dog friends. There were a few other street dogs or dogs that got loose regularly that he played with as a puppy before he joined my team. Of course he loved Guthrey. But Fox is the first dog since Guthrey that Lucas really seemed to love. And, Fox was the same way. He also liked to see other dogs, and could get along fine, but had really only had one other dog friend before Lucas. Who knows what the factors involved really are.  Did the dogs know that Mehdi and I had few friends and though we liked being alone, we were also lonely? Did the dogs simply like each other regardless of how the bipeds felt? Is it something deeper but ephemeral – that because these dogs chose us individually, that we were predisposed to like the same kind of people? Is it a combination? I don’t know, but i am glad it happened. I met Mehdi’s wife and we all became close.

N, L, G - Chimbo RVA 2002(ish)

As things do, we drifted apart a bit once i left for India and i had not really gotten back together with them since i came back to the states. In the interim, Fox passed and they have two new friends now. Not being able to bring Lucas to see Mehdi and Maria was the big downside of leaving him home last week, but i still think it was the right call. It was excellent to see my old friends and to meet the new dogs and go on some of our old walks. It did not take us long to discuss and then move past “the missing years”. The stuff i wrote above is of course “the good parts” version of the story. Not that there were problems between us, but that was not a very good time in my life – which is a different story – or a part of much longer story.

FOX - Mason District Dogpark - 06/07

3. La Traviata arrived and i have really enjoyed listening to it this week. I was planning on continuing to refine my Spanish skills (and vocab!) this year, but i may have to hit an educational detour to learn more about the lyrics to this opera. I only know a handful of Italian and have not used it since 1992. But that is quite a decision to make. I love this music and wouldn’t it suck to discover that the lyrics are trite! It is hard to imagine in this case, but let’s face it, most musicals are trite… My mom asked me recently if i wanted to go see a high school musical with her.  She has one private student that she has been teaching for about 8 years, and this girl was making her singing and dancing debut. I asked my mom, “what show is it?” She said, “The Music Man!” I told her, “No. Mom, that is a terrible show.” Which is true. I was in it. Like most musicals, it was fun to be in – and i believe we performed it well – but, like Tim Kelly adaptations, that does not make it a good show. Anyway – i am trying to decide whether or not to learn more about what is happening in La Traviata.

4. One of my very smart friends misused ‘comprised’ in a recent online self-published venture. I spent a few days trying to figure out how to deal with this. I am not a grammar or punctuation or even spelling Nazi like some of my smart friends. But the proper use of words themselves is one of the areas of language that i do care about. Comprise is one of my pet peeves. I do notice and get bugged by the common faults – their, there, they’re and such. But they generally make me less fussed than a misuse of ‘comprise’. People who mess up with something like ‘there’ and ‘their’ may have never learned the difference, or may be lazy, or may have difficulty proofreading. But comprise ain’t one of your common everyday words. It is one of those book learnin’ fancy words. I do not assume that my friend was attempting to put on airs by using the word, but i see this error all the time and generally, it is someone trying to sound smarter than they are, or trying to make their argument sound fancier, or more authoritative.

So here is a good rule of thumb, a fast and loose usage guideline for you folks. ‘Comprise’ means ‘made up of’, ‘consists of’, or ‘composed of’. There are many specific cases we could go through, and i will be happy to address any if you send in your questions, but the most common mistake is people saying ‘comprised of’. As you can see from having just read the definition, saying ‘comprised of’ is like saying ‘composed of of’ which sounds a lot less fancy and authoritative than the user is probably going for. “The US is composed of 50 states.” “The US comprises 50 states.” Those two sentences mean the same thing. That is probably enough said.

Wrapping up now as i want to finish some research and preparation then head down to Maryland for a quick look at REI (i got my 2010 dividend in the mail), and then some hiking.

– – In the next episode –

Exercise update

Spam Bin update

an informal poll on the issue of discussing hiking equipment

What has been happening? – Part I

Here is a relatively brief update given the preceding period of silence –

I had a little alone time here in PA as my folks and grandpa went to Florida for Spring Break! It was an up and down week for me.  It should have started with a phone interview with “Big Consulting Firm”, but that did not happen, which made me less than positive feeling. I fell off of the regular exercise, I did not run for about a week, the weather went into the cold cold place again with touches of snow, and I got a little cold that I am still fighting off. I almost never get sick so I tend to fight sickness with denial!

Odd timing – my folks came home and I had the phone interview the next day.  That went very well and has my spirits lifted. I am still pursuing some other leads, but I would really be pleased if this one worked out.  I should know more within two weeks or so. I am still a bit under the weather, but I am doing my stretching and exercises and running again.

Running –

That week long break is going to disrupt my first set of goals, but I will keep going and simply make new ones after the 20th.  It is now impractical to meet my frequency goal, and my distance goal, but I might still make the pace goal.  The pace goal was simply 5 runs at or under 9’00/mile pace by 3/20. I got my first one on a two mile run about 11 days ago. Last night I ran 1.4 at a 9’00 pace.  I did not quite make it up the hill after the break and with the sicky feeling, but it was awesome to get out there and run through the first wall of discomfort.  But that gives me two runs towards the goal of 5 at that pace.  I walked for awhile and then ran the last .5 back to my house when “For Whom the Bell Tolls” kicked in.

Tech goodness –

My Lacie 2TB firewire 800 drive arrived and I am very pleased with it.

Lil' Lacie

This allowed me to move all of my data off of the Seagates and reformat those.  They were still formatted for Windows, and had some suspect sectors as well.  Now all my data is not just stored, but actually backed-up. I have not gone to the next next level with off-site back-up but this is good enough for now.

In honor of the new drive, I decided to take the time to learn how to rip my dvds. I am not interested in piracy or anything like that – I just wanted to back-up my tv shows and movies as i already have several damaged disks, and I would like to be able to watch my collections without carrying the disks, and being able to watch on the iPhone and (one day) iPad is also a plus.

I knew that I had the software to do this as I have started this process several times, but got confused and quit.  You need Handbrake, which is free (or something similar).

I finally found a decent enough step-by-step guide online to help me have the “Ah-Ha” moment. For me, the problem was looking at all the files on a dvd and trying to figure out “where is the movie, or episode”.  Even in Handbrake, with a dvd inserted, then mashing “source” you get the same kind of view as in Finder or Windows Explorer – what files to choose?

The “Ah-Ha” moment came in realizing that all I had to do in the source window was select the DVD and click OK.  Then Handbrake would read the DVD and give me new options. For movies, it is pretty simple, you select the longest unit.  For TV shows, you have to do a little leg-work.  Note the total time of the individual eps, then you can select them and get the right names or ep numbers with the right episodes.

Smart folks can probably do cool stuff with all the options, I just left the stock settings and mashed the iPod 5 support button and hit start.  Voila!

These import into iTunes as movies and thus are under the movies tab instead of the TV tab (another good reason for giving your new files good names.) But that is a small issue and they move right on over to the iPhone – which is lovely.

I have not done my whole collection (much of it is still in India) but I did a few seasons of TV and some movies and some comedy shows. Not since the era of cassette tapes and Walkmen have I been able to listen to the comedy stylings of Chris Rock while out walking, but now I can – again!

Lil' Lacie playing with all her Apple buddies

The new iPad has been released and I did have to fight the urge to go get it.  Several things made that simple to do.  That’s a lot of loot to put on credit without a better paying job than the ones I have now. They two key elements I was most excited about did not materialize – the bigger 128 GB HD (which is still very small to me, but much better than 64GB, and a method to access a USB external drive to move data without needing a computer.  That second part was not in the official plans, but I can’t be the only one who is excited about moving into a “Post-PC” world (to quote Steve Jobs).  I can’t go on the road for very long with just a 64 GB HD.  I can go longer with a 128, but it would be best if they just built/released/fixed the interface to allow something like Finder to work on the iPad to move stuff on and off via the USB kit.

And finally, the Otterbox defender case will not be ready for a while yet. As cool as the new little magnetic cover they built is – that is not enough protection to me. I am not sure for whom that would be enough protection.  So, hopefully the universe will align and I will get a new job and Otterbox will release the defender case at about the same time!

More odds and ends

I do have several substantive posts either brewing in my head or shaping up in outline form – but have not had/used the time to get that stuff down. Brief highlights follow…

I had an awesome meeting in the DC region with a family friend high up in “Big Consulting Firm”.  I got some excellent practical advice on the job hunt in general and pursuing a job with this company.  Also got some great intel on other good possibilities with firms that we know are hiring right now. This firm wants a fairly exhaustive long form resume, so i have spent the past few days turning my one-pager into a 4 pager.  Final edits to happen momentarily and then get sent out.

I may have to position myself somewhere in NOVA/DC for a week or so to be more prepared/available for meetings, and i have some things in the works for that – though input an/or floor space is appreciated.

Speaking of floor space, Big Agnes has an undetectable leak somewhere 🙁  It has been getting worse the past week and Thursday, when i woke up at 4 to get ready for the trip to DC, my back was killing me.  She is less than a year old.  She has been backpacking twice and spent a grand total of 2 nights in use in the woods. She has acted as my portable mattress for about two weeks. I cannot find the receipt, but hopefully i can still get some help at REI.  That trip will happen today after the resume edits.

Big Agnes looking after some of my books

Another time sucker – i found where you can play the Original Legend of Zelda online! I loved this game and spent many many hours playing it with my dad back when it came out around 1986.  But i think the Nintendo folks have a Microsoft bias even in online gaming!  I have not gotten the game to load in Chrome. I can play in Firefox, but the graphics are just jerky enough to get you occasionally killed. It works very well in Seamonkey.  But – in all of these, the java applet mechanism that allows you to save your game and quit your browser and come back in later – that does not quite work out.  I can see a java screen flash momentarily with the save code, but it goes away very quickly and i have not been able to actually recover a prior game.  I tried just leaving the game on pause.  This worked out well on the overnight in Seamonkey. (The Mac still goes to sleep and manages the power well.) I have not tried Safari yet – but i might, just as an experiment.

The brief return of snow put a kink in my renewed running.  I was eager to go, but the roads were a little too slushy/icy.  It looks good for today though! I have kept up with the daily stretching and at least once daily (though frequently twice daily) floor exercises.  I have been increasing my reps as well.  I am up to 18 push-ups, 55 crunches, 55 leg lifts, and 50 twisty crunches.  I am still weighing in at 187.

Hope you all out there participating through the series of tubes are rocking out.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” Abe Lincoln – via Mike Birbiglia

More Running and Gadgets!

Despite a return to colder weather and loads of wind, i nabbed another run late this afternoon.

1.7 miles – 9’15” pace

I did slow down going up the hill, but i made it up and made it almost back into the neighborhood.

While running, it was my breath that felt taxed near the end.  My legs felt great.  As soon as i switched to walking, my breath was fine and my legs began to burn a bit.  But the cool-down walk and then stretch session calmed that down.

It is early to speculate, but i think that having a more dedicated and slightly more rigorous program is helping this time around. I must say that the music is definitely helping as well.

I do not expect that this will have an impact, but i did set some goals inside the nike+ online thingy where your numbers go.  I just set the same goals there that i have in my head, but we’ll see.

The big reveal – i want to run at least every other day – so 14 times in 4 weeks.  I want to be running a minimum of two miles – so 30 miles in 4 weeks.  I want to run better than 9 minute miles – so 4 miles under 9 minute mile pace in 4 weeks.

Them’s the goals for now.

Back to the tunes. Today also started out with RPG “Right On”.  This is the first track on the running playlist, so each run starts with it before the shuffle thingy kicks in.  At least i think that is how it works, today is only the second time i have ever used shuffle.  But i am ok with that.  I love all the RPG songs, and this is one they played back in my era also.

I had to skip a few tracks (too slow – need to edit list) and then “Like Suicide” kicked in. Not just a good song, lots of great memories.  I went to a show at American University in DC during the Superunknown tour around 94(?) with one of my good friends/love interests. Let’s just call her Marie.  I was desperately hoping for them to play “4th of July”, which they did not but they did play “like suicide”.  The “sad” songs always call to me.  They do not make me feel sad, depressed, or suicidal or anything like that.  They just resonate better with me.  I think it may be similar to the Metal effect for me.  People used to ask if playing loud angry metal made me extra aggressive.  Truthfully it has the exact opposite effect on me.  I left all that at the show and got filled with peace. Anyway – it was a great show and has many great memories attached to it.

Earlier in the day, my dad told me about an email from Emirates Air.  He had qualified for one of a few free flights or some really nice upgrades, but they all expire on Feb 28th. The stuff on Emirates is all business related and we are partners and my pop is a nice guy, so we looked at the options together.  Neither of us can use this before the 28th so we looked at the other ways to spend the miles.  The cash equivalency is always poor, but you can get stuff you want for “free”. In 7-10 days, 2 iPod shuffles will arrive. My pop wants his for the gym and i will love to clip mine on for the running.  Thanks Emirates!

Doin' the Shuffle

PS – i highly recommend that you go back and re-listen to Ratt!  Both Out of the Cellar and Invasion of Your Privacy really stand the test of time!

Fitness Update

It was beautiful, but i skipped the run yesterday in favor of a leg rest. I feel good, but a few of my leg muscles are a bit stiff. It was like this in the beginning back in October as well. Hopefully it will pass. I did of course still get in about 6 miles of dog walking.

Instead of the run, i doubled up on the floor exercises – morning and evening – 15 push-ups, 40 twisty crunches, 40 crunches, 40 leg lifts.

I also did three long stretching sessions to stay loose.

187 on the scale – already in better shape than this guy…

Yosemite - Valley Floor Loop - Spring 2009

But i could still climb…

Descent - Yosemite Falls - Spring 2009

Today i have a two and half mile walk and the morning session of stretching and exercise knocked out.  Again with the 15/40/40/40.  It is lovely outside, but quite windy.  Should be a fun run afternoon…

Back to exercise…

I have been doing the stretching and floor exercises every day for a few days now and hope to keep that up. I have not made it into double sessions yet, but once a day is better than nothing. I shall run again soon.  It is largely a weather thing, but today looks promising.

This morning – 15 push-ups, 40 twisty crunches, 45 regular crunches, and 35 leg lifts.

I want to get ready to hike something like this again –


Yosemite Falls - Spring 2009




Almost Warm! Exercise!

As you can probably tell from the lack of talk about running, i have not done any since it got really cold about mid November.  I could have used a trial pass at my folks’ gym, but i am still a little wigged about going to the gym, and i am mot sure that if i do go to a gym, that i want to go to my folks’ gym.

But, i have done most of my stretching routine the past two mornings.  I have also started doing my floor exercises again (also two days now) – the two kinds of crunches, leg lifts, and push-ups. I would like to have this exercise re-start morph into a more rigorous version than last year.  So far, i am hitting 25 on each of the crunches and leg lifts and 10 push-ups.  In addition to doing these everyday, i would like to start doing morning and evening sessions.  It is really not a vast amount of exercise, so i should be able to do that.

The temp has hovered near 40 for a few hours around noon the past few days. There is enough snow melt that i believe i can start running again.  I may try this out today.

My weight has stayed at about 197 through the roughly 3 months of limited exercise (and the 3 weeks of beer drinking in Mexico!).  Again, i am not concerned about the number on the scale, nor i am i too concerned about the image in the mirror.  I want to get healthier and stay that way.  Aside from toning some muscles, i am trying to work up to getting 15 minutes of good cardio several times a week.   I have a few smoke free months under my belt and i know that getting good cardio workouts will help my heart and lungs repair themselves.  Also, as it warms up, the mountains begin to call.  I want to do more hiking this season than i managed last year.  Sleeping in my sleeping bag on my hiking air mattress helps keep those thoughts fresh in the mind.

Of course, job searching is still primary.  Over the past 6 weeks of searching, i have applied for about 12 jobs.  So, i really need to up my numbers. But of those, i was really interested in 4 of them, and two of them i would love to get.  One of those is right here in Lancaster PA and i believe i have a good shot at that one.

Time will tell, and i need to keep focused on applying for more jobs, at least one a day would be nice.

Anyway – to all my fellow runners in hibernation, Let Us Take to the Streets!



On Thumb Butte - looking at Granite Mountain, Prescott AZ




A little victory

I made it up the hill again!

Ran 1.41  – Pace 9’03” – I felt good.  My legs felt good.  My breathing was pretty good.  My head was good.  I was rarely even thinking about the run and i did not obsessively look at the watch thingy to see how i was doing.  I found a good pace and tried to stick with it and thought about other stuff.  I was feeling it when i got to the top of the hill and i did walk for the next .2 or so, then ran .2, then walked it in.  It is reasonably level from the top of this hill back to my house.  I think that a few more times reaching the top of the hill at a good pace and i should be strong enough to still run the remaining .6.  It will take as long as it takes, but it was nice to make some progress.

40 of the new crunches/10 of the bicycle twisty crunches (i was better at these today, but it is still an odd motion)/25 leg lifts/ 10 push-ups.

Yesterday i did a good stretch routine around noon, and an even more in-depth stretch session before bed.  Using the information from many sources and then the videos on Runner’s World has really helped.  The dynamic stretches are great as well as the IT Band stretches (thanks Abby).  I am beginning to see flexibility progress after just about 3 weeks of doing this regularly.  I have had the most and the quickest progress from the dynamic stretches.  I am doing 5 leg related dynamic stretches.  3 of them were difficult for me to even do and maintain my balance when i started them a week or two ago.  Now I am raising my knees up to smack my chest.  Doing the hacky-sack stretch i am kicking my hand almost nipple high.  And the swinging leg thingy i can do well with my right leg and better than before with my left (there is no falling or danger of falling anymore).   I did not do my traditional floor exercises yesterday, but in addition to two stretching sessions, i practiced golf for about 3 hours.  I will get more into the golf stories a little later.  I am keeping a bit of an offline golf journal for now because i am not done writing the intro to golf that i want to throw on the site for those who may be interested to read, but don’t know anything about golf.  That is coming along and i hope to have that done, some golf stories posted, and incorporate regular golf entries by the end of November.

I am not just a crazy person or a slacker with my 3 hours of golf, i took my dad. It was good for him to be out there again.  He helped me with a few things on the driving range, and then we both had short chip and putt practice and then 2 – 18 hole rounds of chip and putt competition.  Not only was it fun and informative for us both, as well as great practice, it is another layer of motivation for my dad to keep at the recovery process and to follow the schedule.  He doesn’t have trouble doing that, but i don’t think you can have too much incentive to help you do the right thing.