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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pets in Costumes

(or: Why some pets attack their owners)

I saw lots of costumes yesterday, but only a few pets in costumes. I always wonder if other dogs that see dogs in costume laugh when they see their canine friends wearing things like this:

Well, these guys didn't seem too upset about their outfits.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dogfight



My 2 dogs like to play. The 8 year age difference and 60 pound advantage make no difference to the Young Pup (YP) and he will still try to to get the toy away from Old Dog (OD). Sometimes he even wins, or maybe OD just lets him win or gets tired. Maybe it is true what they say:

It is not the size of the dog in the fight
It is the size of the fight in the dog that matters most

Remember that the next time you think you have bitten off more than you can chew.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Young Leaders

Ever see a business leader that seemed too young to know what they were doing? They take charge of meetings and projects and lead the charge on new initiatives. Sometimes they don't seem to know what they are doing and sometimes their bold initiatives do not make any sense.

I went for another run today with the dogs. Well, run, walk & sniff would be a better description of the activity. While I like the enthusiasm of Young Pup (YP), I really appreciate the more relaxed approach that Old Dog (OD) takes. OD usually stays right next to me with only an occasional foray into the bushes after some exciting new smell. YP likes to charge to the full length of his leash and tug the whole time. He usually doesn't stop to sniff things and instead prefers to charge ahead as fast as his leash will let him.

YP like to lead, but keeps looking over his shoulder to make sure we are still following him, like the strain of the leash isn't enough of a clue. Some leaders (in business and politics) do the same thing. They will announce a new venture and declare it to be the new and best way and then look to their staff or constituents/voters to make sure that is what they want to be doing.

YP was leading this morning and made a sudden course change and lost his balance right in front of OD. OD did his best to avoid him, but they landed in a brown and black pile of fur. Luckily for me, this was all off to my side, so I just had to stop suddenly. They picked themselves up, none the worse for the wear and after untangling their leashes, YP was off again with OD and myself at our more sedate pace, side-by-side behind him.

We should all keep in mind that failure is not often fatal and all we really need to do is pick ourselves up, brush off the dust and get back to doing what we were meant to do.

I enjoy reading Mark Kolke's columns. With the time difference and the fact that I tend to sleep in a bit more, I can usually read his daily column before I head out for work or for a run. Many times, he has motivated me to take a look at something in a new light that changed a negative to a learning or growth opportunity. Take a look at his stuff and I would encourage you to sign up for his daily emails.

p.s. By request, pictures of the dogs should be coming before the end of the weekend. Facebook friends Fans of Flowing Desert Photography will be the first to see them, so if you are on Facebook, be sure to Fan my Photography page.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Run/Walk/Sniff

I decided to give running another shot, even though after my little 2+ miler on Saturday, I got sicker than I've been in years. I think it was just my turn for the flu, but I felt fine. Went for a little run, showered, had breakfast and got sick within an hour of my run. Maybe the raspberries had gone bad (tasted and looked fine) or maybe it was just a coincidence, but I've been nervous about running again.

In spite of that, I know running does not make me sick, so I decided to just go out and take it easy today. So here is the story:

CAST:
OM - Old man (i.e. me)
OD - Old dog, our 8 yr old border collie/black lab mix
YP - Young pup, our about 6 month old shephard mix

OD was content to start with a warm-up walk with me, but YP wanted to run, so we gave in and let YP set the pace for the first 1/10 of a mile. We slowed so OD could smell some scents left by his neighborhood friends. YP kept the leash tight trying to keep running. You would think that he didn't have a nice big yard to run in or something. He does have plenty of room to run, but doesn't like being more than 2-3 feet away from OD.

We ran through a little park near the house with some medium sized rocks and YP had fun climbing over them. OD is smarter and just goes around, but maybe YP gets a better view for his efforts.

YP kept the leash tight while OD was content to run next to me in a near perfect "heel" position with the leash almost dragging on the ground. Only took me 8 years to get that behaviour perfected.

About 7/10ths of a mile in to our run (and an our way towards home), YP finally started to slow down a bit, either because he realized that is what OD was doing (and YP is a relentless copycat) or because he was starting to get tired. Whatever the reason, the last half mile was the most fun as I didn't have to keep pulling on the leash to keep him from running away.

By the time we were getting close to our house, I started saying "Go home, YP. Go home OD." Something that I have always done with OD so that if he gets out of the yard, he knows the command "Go home" if someone yells it at him. They both went straight to the gate.

A nice run. Hope to have more.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

30 Days

30 days can be a lot of things. A free trial period. An extra month for a paid annual subscription. Probationary period at a new job to see if you are going to make the cut.

In this case, it is simply a time to sit back and muse on my first month as a licensed HAM radio operator.

Why HAM?

I have heard some people say HAM radio is not as useful as it once was due to the proliferation and range of cell phones today. Others see it as "like a CB radio" and really only a time-waster for over-the-road drivers to chat with each other and warn about speed traps.

To some degree these are true, but there is also another side to HAM. When a disaster strikes (natural or otherwise) telephone communication is often the first to go, either as a result of the disaster or from the sheer volume of phone calls to and from loved ones to see if they are ok. This makes communication for rescue workers difficult. HAM radio operators can get communications established with minimal equipment and power, in some cases on battery power alone.

There is the social aspect of HAM radio to consider as well. To those of you that think that Twitter and FaceBook are what gave rise to Social Media, you are wrong. HAM radio enthusiasts have been involved in social media since before the Twitter and FaceBook creators were born.

It is hard. You need to learn Morse Code.

First of all, you do not need to learn Morse Code to get a HAM license. You do need to pass a written test, but with a little studying, that will probably not be any more difficult than passing your written driving test. The night I took my test, there was an 11 year-old at my table that took and passed the same test I took. All it takes is spending a little time with either a study guide (I bought a $20 book) or with a free practice test on the internet (I used the ones at QRZ.com)

First Contact

W1ATV, Bil (with one 'ell') was one of the first people to answer my "signal check" call. He was very friendly, but pretty much everyone I have talked to have gone out of their way in welcoming me to the airwaves. When I have a question about operating procedures or radio usage, I ask and I get answers. I have also joined a couple internet sites and posted questions there and gotten great feedback and advice.

What Next?


Well, there are more frequencies I can use if I pass the next test or two and upgrade my Technician license and get my General or Extra class license. I was close to passing General when I took my test, so I know I can pass it. I think that I will learn more about maximizing my current license so I have a good understanding of what I hope to get out of a higher class license before I start down that road. My current radio will not do High Frequency anyway, so I would need to start spending more money to be able to use HF frequencies.

What About You?

Ever thought about getting your HAM license? Know anyone that is a HAM?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I went for a run last night...

I didn't track my time (even took my watch off). I didn't track my distance (didn't even bring my Garmin with me). But it was still the best run I have had in a very long time.

I got home after work and knew I needed a run. It was 110+ outside and a dust and wind storm were on the horizon, but I didn't care.

I've had stuff going on in my life. Some good, some not-so-good, but a lot of things that have been dragging me down. I haven't been visiting with my friends in my online forums and haven't updated my Twitter pages or Facebook status very much. I finally decided that heat warning or not, I was going running.

I took off and just kept the pace easy. I wasn't worried about pace, just tried to run more than I walked. I turned around after about a mile and saw that the dust storm off in the distance had gotten pretty close. A 2 mile run is no record for me, but this run wasn't about distance, it was about unwinding. I had to get somewhere before I got home. I made it. It was a good run.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tech Tuesday - Mid year review

I have been neglecting my blogging as of late. I apologize, but will not give excuses, even though I have plenty. Suffice it to say that there are more important things in life than blogging.

Since we are half-way through the year, I thought a quick review would be a good idea to see what I have done this year that make me a better Dad, husband, employee, etc.

Personal
Photography has always been something I enjoy, but late last year, I decided to try and start making some money at it. While it has been fun, I have not had crazy financial success. I have however done a lot of learning and am continuing the quest. I will probably not become a full-time professional any time soon (so my boss can rest easy if he is reading this) but I will continue to work on improving my skills, both in photography as well as the supporting tasks like web development, accounting and marketing.


Fitness
Last year at this time, I had finished my first Ironman and was still "recovering". I have made several starts this year, including a streak of over 30 consecutive runs. That has dwindled, but I will be restarting again soon and hope to be able to run a marathon by the end of 2009. If I am able, I will be attempting to set a new PR (personal record) and break 4 hours (an 18 second improvement over my current PR from Dec 2007).


Career
Oracle is an ever-growing animal. It has complexities no single person should ever expect to fully grasp. For most of my roughly 10 years as an Oracle DBA, I have kept my focus on what is typically called the "core DBA" skills. Last year, however, I was called upon to learn enough about the Oracle Financials application to be able to support business while a colleague was scheduled to be out of the office. I did so and kept things running. The temporary need became a permanent need as my company chose to reduce the size of our team and I became the permanent Application DBA. That has been a learning experience for me and has really rounded out my skillset.

While I will continue to develop my skills as much as I can, it is helpful to get some ideas. I was reminded of a January article from Tom Kyte that had his resolutions for 2009. Take a look and see if any of these might be a good idea for you to work into the rest of 2009.

One of the items on Toms list that I have found most useful in my career has been the suggestion to mentor someone more junior. I would not have accomplished as much as I have had it not been for people like Anand, Jeff, Paul, Rich and many more that have been there with ideas and suggestions about Oracle as well as others like Kevin, Scott, Kevin (yes, 2 different Kevin's) and many more that have been there to help me with tasks in other areas like Perl, web development, and system administration. In return, I have tried to "pay it foreword" by mentoring others. I have also participated in user groups behind the scenes and in front of the crowd, giving presentations on things I had learned.

So, what about you? Any progress on your annual goals? Any new goals you want to add to finish 2009 strong? Leave me a comment here or shoot me a message over on Twitter.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I think my post over on my photography blog says it the best way I know how.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Save On Phones

I have been doing a lot of management with my family phone plan lately and just wanted to share some of the things I have learned to save some money on your bill. I also got some parts of this from a friend who had some shortcuts for these. If you have any other tips, please feel free to comment with your ideas. These are from my dealings with Verizon, but most should apply to other carriers as well.

  • Data. Corporate vs. Personal Data plans. Both offer unlimited data, but the personal one is about $15 per month cheaper. The corporate one is needed if you need to access corporate servers (i.e. Exchange for work email sync). Personal one works fine for things like Gmail and web browsing.
  • Data. If you choose to go with a lower level data plan (like pay-as-you-go), check online before the end of your billing cycle. If you are using enough, you can save by moving up a level before the end of the month to get the bulk discount. Drop back later if you no longer need as much data.
  • Text. If you have enough lines/minutes on your family plan, it may make sense to add the unlimited text. Call support (Dial *611 from your cell phone or (800) 922-0204) and ask for your options. They saved me $5 a month and that increased all 4 of our lines to unlimited texting.
  • Text. If you are not on an unlimited text plan, check online before the end of your billing cycle. If you are using enough, you can save by moving up a level before the end of the month to get the bulk discount. Drop back later if you no longer need to text as much. Not doing this one month cost me an extra $60. You can do that from your phone for free by using: #DATA + Send and you should get 3 text messages from Verizon (FREE)... with the data on mins, text, data, M2M and other stuff.
  • Voice Minutes. Check online throughout the month so you can catch overuse before it costs you too much, but for sure before the end of your billing cycle. If you are using too many minutes, you can save by moving up a level before the end of the month to get the bulk discount. Drop back later if you no longer need to talk as much. You can do that from your phone for free by using: #MIN + Send
  • Friends and Family plans. Some plans have this feature. You choose up to 5 (or 10 depending on the level you have) non-verizon phone numbers that you call frequently and calls to these numbers do not count against your plan minutes. Your home landline should probably be the first one you add.
  • Online. Login to the Verizon wireless website or whoever your cell phone carrier is. You can check all of your current usage and get a list of all calls/text/data used for past billing cycles. You can save this to a spreadsheet. Very handy if you lose or damage your phone and are trying to recreate your contact list (but of course you know that you really should back up your phone).
So there you have my tips for saving a few dollars on your cell phone. I hope they help you, and if so, please say thanks by leaving a comment here. You can also pass along a link to this posting on Twitter, FaceBook or any other social media site that you use.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Streaking

No, get your mind out of the gutter. Let me explain. About a month ago, I saw a message on Twitter that said "On 2nd day of my "'running streak'". I realized that since I had run the day before, I could match that streak. I had been struggling with running regularly and thought that I might give it a shot.

According to the United States Running Streak Association, Inc, a running streak is defined as running at least one continuous mile within each calendar day under one's own body power. It says nothing about pace, so I decided to give it a try.

Every runner worth their salt knows that recovery is important. Typically, recovery takes the form of days off from running which would not happen with running every day. Why would someone do this to themselves? Is it safe?

I learned during my triathlon training that recovery can also happen during cross-training (biking or swimming for example) or even on easy running days. During my ramp-up for my Ironman race last year, I went through some streaks where I had almost no time off. I had weeks of 5-6 runs per week and the shortest of those was usually 3-4 miles.

As I planned this, I decided a few things:

  1. Runs with walk breaks count as long as the total distance exceeds 1 mile. You can save your puritan "only running counts " comments for another post that is coming, the "Can you still call it running?"
  2. I would keep at least 4 runs a week as very easy. For me, that means between 11 and 12 mpm. When I run/walk with my youngest son, our avg is usually between 14 and 15 mpm.
  3. I would try to start stretching one run a week as my "long" run.
April 6th was the first day of my first running streak. Even with the onslaught of summer here in the desert, I managed 33 days as of this past Friday when I managed a 1.5 mile run in 103* F. The first mile was even a sub-10 which is pretty fast for me these days.

Saturday morning, I woke up and decided the streak was over. I was tired in a way I had not been for quite awhile and decided that 33 days was a good start for my first running streak. In review of my running, I realized that I ran almost as much during this running streak of just about a month as I had in the previous 3 months. I would call that a success and I plan to resume a running streak again after a few days of rest.

So the short version is that this running streak has reinvigorated my running in a way I had not experienced in over a year. So what tricks to you use to maintain your fitness motivation? Leave me a comment here or give me a shout over on Twitter.

The cost of debt

Any financial adviser will tell you that debt has costs. The cost of interest is the biggest and most obvious one.

Technical projects have debt as well. "Quick and Dirty gets it done", "Deadline Rules" and "We'll fix that in the next release" are but three of the refrains common to almost any technical project. At times, they have their place. It would be foolish to postpone a major "go-live" to change the structure of an index and the lost revenue could collapse the viability of the program.

However, too many times, "putting off til tomorrow", becomes "let the new guy/gal/team worry about it" because of staffing turnover or because the development team and the maintenance teams are in different departments. This maintenance is the technical equivalent of interest in the financial realm.

This blog post is a great read and should be mandatory for all IT managers involved in development or maintenance projects. Jeff explains why shortcuts today can cripple a business in the future. He is not so idealistic to expect that shortcuts will not be sometimes necessary to meet a business requirement, but suggests that some resources need to be budgeted to periodically fix these. I have personally butted heads with several managers over this very issue and have been frustrated in some jobs because there was no willingness to do ANY development that was not directly related to new features or bug fixes.

Consider a company in year 3 of a 7 year plan to move all of their applications off of a specific platform. What percentage of their applications had been moved? Should be close to 50% if it was evenly spread over 7 years right? Sadly, it was 0% and the only activity towards the goal was that most (but not all) of the new projects were being developed on the new platform.

The cost of their technical debt in this case became evident when they had a staff reduction to reduce costs. If the old (expensive) platform decommissioning had been on schedule, the net savings would have likely been more than the salary costs saved by staff reductions. Sadly, now with less people (and some very experienced key team members gone) this project has even less of a chance of success. It is a vicious cycle, like someone with too much debt who is no longer able to make even the interest payments on their debt who will have a large battle to get out of debt or face bankruptcy.

Don't let your company face technical bankruptcy!



Sunday, May 3, 2009

Happy Blogging B-Day to me!

One year ago today....

There is an older post, but that was just a pre-dated entry to record my Ironman Race Report.

In the past year, I have ranted, raved, shared and bragged about everything from running to technology to family and friends. I have not seen millions of hits, but have seen over 2000 visits with over 3000 page views. I had some technical issues getting the statistics working which means that there were many other visits in the 2 months before I got all the bugs worked out and tracking reliably in early July. This many visits produces some interesting statistics. Well, interesting to me anyway:

  • visits came from over 30 different countries
  • visits came from 50 different states in the US. (Iowa & North Dakota missing)
  • top 27 states have 10 or more visits
  • only 5 states had a single visit
I have been neglecting this blog a bit for several reasons. I will tell you what they are and let you decide if I need either a kick in the pants or a pat on the back.

One reason I started this blog was to document my journey from couch potato to Ironman. After a successful race at IMAZ last April, for many reasons, I backed off of my fitness activities. A part of that was due to the mental burnout from 3 years of almost non-stop training. I have recently been more successful in getting some regular training in (running anyway) so I may be spending a bit more time updating this blog.

Another reason for my sparcity here is that I have started a photography business that I have called Flowing Desert Photography. That has taken some of the time I would have spent training or updating this blog. Along with the business side of things, I have also been hard at work with a photo blog for the business. Some of my posting here was the beginnings of that so most photography stuff is now over there, so feel free to drop by over there as well.

Well, hope you have enjoyed reading my ramblings here this year and I hope you stick around for many more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's coming....

Can you guess what it is?



Did a little birdie tell you yet?

I'm not telling....

2 days to go....

Any guesses? If so, leave a comment or shout it out on Twitter...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Triathlon Training Plans

While I am not currently training for a triathlon, I am still interested in tri-training, because I plan to resume tri-training in the future, maybe as soon as 2010 ramping up for another IM in 2011.

I just read an article on training volume that sounded interesting. The concept being discussed is why many age-groupers hit "the wall". Jesse explains his theory of the volume required to avoid what he terms System Failure (walking the last 10 miles of the marathon in an IM for example). He states that for a triathlon, the following required distances should be met at least twice in the 6 weeks before race day. These distances are based on your race distance according to the following formula:

Swim – 9/3 of the event distance, per week
Bike – 8/3 of the event distance, per week
Run – 7/3 of the event distance, per week

For someone training for an Ironman, that means that in their final build block before race day, they should have a week with at least 12,660 yards of swimming, 300 miles of biking and 60 miles of running. For me, that would mean about 29 hours (based on my speed leading up to last years IMAZ race). That is a lot of training and does not factor in things like getting to training locations, gear maintenance, laundry and logging all those training hours. Add those in and you have a second FULL-TIME job if you are a working person like me.

All that work for the honor and privilege of a solid race. A solid race IF your nutrition plan is tested and works well for you on race day, and IF the weather cooperates to some degree, and IF you have a good race pace plan and you stick with it. Some of those are in your control and others are not.

That is a very short summary of the article and he goes into much more detail, so if you want more info, I highly recommend checking it out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cheers!

No, not just the English greeting or a toast. Cheers was one of my favorite sitcoms so while in Boston I stopped by the Bull & Finch which was the inspiration for the show.
That's me next to the famous stairs down the the bar "where everyone knows your name".

I enjoy barfood, after all, what's not to like about greasy fries and a grilled burger. Since I am a bit cynical, sometimes I think that "landmarks" don't have great food. Maybe it is because they get a sizeable chunk of their business from tourists that won't be back for the next weekly special they don't feel the need to try to make their food special. Maybe the demanding nature of some tourists make it hard to keep good kitchen help. Whatever the reason, I have seen it more than once and accordingly was not planning on anything special at Cheers.

I was surprised! The cheeseburger I had was probably second only to a great place in Minnesota. (I think it was called the Lion's Tap. Anyone been there recently? Is it still good?)
Anyway, the burger was cooked the way I ordered it and was just the right amount of greasy. The fries were ok, but with a burger like that, who cares? One of the people I was with had a turkey sandwich and said it was a bit dry and lamented trying to eat healthy. The other person also had a burger and agreed that it was great.

It was also about the only sun we had all week, so I was glad I had my camera with me to get a few pictures, even if it did help make us a few minutes late back to class.

Now I turn it over to you, blog readers. Do you have a favorite restaurant? Any "famous" ones that you've been to with great food? Leave a comment here or shout out over on Twitter. Don't know what Twitter is? Go visit www.Twitter.com and sign up and join the fun. An upcoming blog post will talk about one way Twitter is useful to just about anyone.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Update from Boston

Sometimes a stranger can bring great meaning to your life. - fortune cookie

After walking around in the rain for awhile, I decided to grab a quick bite to eat from McDonald's. Not the healthiest choice, but once in a while it's not too bad. I was partway back and I felt the bag shift a bit. Before I knew it, my bag was torn and most of my fries were on the sidewalk along with my napkins. One friendly passerby chuckled and said something like "sucks to be you doesn't it" which was in line with a fair number of people I have encountered here this week. [Side note: Before all you Bostonians jump all over me, I have encountered a fair number of sociable and friendly people here as well.]

This brings me to the point of my fortune cookie. The whole incident could have ticked me off and ruined my afternoon, but it didn't for two reasons. One is that I try to not let minor things (people cutting me off in traffic, spilled milk, lack of casual dress-codes, etc.) ruin my day.

The other is that another passerby stopped (in the rain) and helped me pick up my stuff. She asked if I wanted the napkins I dropped. I said, I would just throw them away and looked around for a trash can. Not seeing one, she said not to worry, she would throw them away for me. She had no reason to stop and help and in the rain, every reason not to, but she still did.

Just a random act of kindness that someone did that helped brighten up a rainy day for this traveler. Reminds me I need to keep my eyes open for opportunities to "pay it foreword".

Boston pictures to come soon over on my photo blog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hiking & Computers

Hiking and computers really have nothing in common, but I have to talk about both and I'm too lazy to make to make 2 separate posts.

Computers

Good news is my laptop is back and mostly 100%. It did take me about a week to get most of my programs reinstalled and get the operating system patched back to a reasonably current level.

Bad news is the family pc took another dump. Even worse is the timing, I am out of town and can't even work on it till Saturday. That is a bit of a problem for my oldest son will need to use a neighbors computer for his school work. It is a near catastrophe for my wife who will now be hopelessly backlogged on her FaceBook "work".

Hopefully I can get it back up and running quickly, but may need to pick up a new pc since this one has now had strange problems a couple times in the past couple months. If so, I'll put Linux on this and fire up some "uptime" tracking tools to see if I can figure out if it is hardware or operating system related.

Hiking

This past Saturday, one of my nephews came to town for a week with my parents. My youngest son and I talked them into going on a hike with us. We went to the San Tan mountains as they are pretty close and I had not been there since they closed off a bunch of the trails to 4x4 vehicles (used to have some fun with the Durango there, almost rolled it once)desert, hiking, AZ, cactus, San Tan, mountain, boys. There were some up's and down's like this, but nothing to extreme or risky.

Just don't let my sister see that sign in the picture below. :)

We had fun and hiked about 2.5 miles. We might have gone longer, but some of the older group was getting tired and the other one needed to pack for a trip very early the next morning (some would say later that night).

desert, hiking, AZ, cactus, San Tan, mountain, boys

Monday, March 23, 2009

That was quick

A week is an eternity for someone like me to live without their main computing machine, so facing the prospect of 2 weeks of waiting and fighting with the rest of the family for computer time was daunting. But that was the only way to get my laptop back to fully working condition.

Return shipping to the repair center was "next afternoon" service, so I was pleasantly surprised when the next morning I got an email (email on the phone has become vital without a laptop) saying they had received it and were starting to work on it. Estimates were 7-9 working days before they would send it back.

The next afternoon (Friday) I got another email saying it was on it's way back. FedEx web site confirmed that it was on its way and should be home Monday afternoon.

Now the questions are:

1. Is everything working?
2. Did I get my own hard drive back or will I spend the next 2-3 weeks reinstalling and reconfiguring things to my liking?

Stay tuned for updates...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Repairs are underway

My main machine is in a box on it's way to Texas for repairs, so updates may be a bit scarce here for the next week or so. I have all my important files and stuff backed up on 2 different hard drives and am planning on using the family machine to get a few blog posts up, but there will probably be less posts for the next couple weeks.

In the meantime, feel free to browse some of my older posts. Comments on the older posts will not be posted till I moderate them, but that is just to make sure a spam-bot doesn't go crazy on me. Plus that ensures that I don't overlook a comment on an older post.

Also, you can feel free to checkout my photoblog over at Flowing Desert Photography. I may be a bit less frequently visible on Twitter during the week, but feel free to give me a shout there if you want to say hi.

See you soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A New Ironman

St George Utah is a very scenic place and Utah is close for me, so I could drive there and not worry about shipping my bike. May temperatures in Utah should be no worse than April in Arizona was last year.

It would be a beautiful area to race in, but I am wondering how tough the course is going to be. I remember pulling our camper through this area years ago and remember some brutal climbs, but I don't know how they have mapped the course will lay out. Has anyone done a mapmyrun or mapmytri on this yet? Anyone already register for this? Leave me a comment or shout out on Twitter.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Online Communications Methods

Twitter is a great tool for making connections. I think of it as a cross between email and instant messaging, combined with a dose of bulletin board and forums. What do I mean by that? Here is how I see these different technologies being commonly used:

Email:


Usually used for non-real time communication for things where an answer can wait anywhere from few minutes to several days or longer. All parties in the communication do not need to be present at the same time for email to be effective. Email is "directed messaging", that is to say, you specify the username(s) of the intended recipient(s). Barring security glitches or forwarding by a recipient, anyone not on the distribution list is not going to see the message.

Instant Messaging:


IM is usually used for interactive conversation. Very helpful for troubleshooting or actively working on a problem. If all parties are not available at the same time, IM does not work. Like email, IM is "directed messaging".

Forums:


Forums are the modern equivalent of what started out being known as bulletin boards or BBS. BBS's were around before the internet became commonplace and provided "geeks of a feather" a place to hang together. Discussions and replies were mostly public to the members of the board. This provided a great way to have a lively discussion. This is typically less real time than IM, but frequently can get very close to real time. While they usually have a direct message function, forums are usually considered "public messaging" and messages are open either to all participants of the forum or to anyone on the internet.

Twitter:


Twitter only allows 140 characters in a message which can be considered a limitation or a time saver. Most of us have read email messages that were multiple pages long when the relevant information could have easily been contained in a half of a page. Twitter does allow for direct messages, but the primary consideration here are the public messages and what are called "at replies". "At replies" are messages that are intended for a specific recipient and are of the form @username. While targeting a specific user makes it easier for that user to see the message, the message is public. This means Twitter communication can be both targeted and public at the same time.

Direct Messages in Twitter:


While still limited to 140 characters, the dm option allows for a directed message without the public exposure. It is the subject of some controversy in the Twitter world, especially the use of "Auto DM's". Some people use automatic dm's to promote their websites. Others use them for an automatic greeting while others don't use them at all. Finally, some people object to them and will rant and rave about any automatic dm they get.

To try and get a handle on this topic, I have put a survey here and will be asking for votes and opinions to be posted here in the comments. How do you use Twitter, email and other communication? What do you think about direct messages on Twitter? Let me know here in the comments and over on Twitter.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oracle log file maintenance

Though I have been an Oracle DBA for about a decade, I have only recently started taking on responsibility for some of the other tiers that are part of Oracle Applications, Portal, Enterprise Manager and Oracle Management Server. I am a part of a small team that has not had much training other than on the job experience in these areas. We are managing pretty well, but are still trying to find easier and better ways to manage things.

The latest issue was discovered by one of our team as they were doing some preventative system checks. They noticed some largish log files and added them to the archive and clean script. These new files bring to 4 the number in this particular system and as we were discussing it, we wondered several things.

The current list


$ORACLE_HOME/mid/webcache/logs/access_log
$ORACLE_HOME/mid/j2ee/OC4J_Portal/log/OC4J_Portal_default_island_1/default-web-access.log
$ORACLE_HOME/infra/j2ee/OC4J_SECURITY/log/OC4J_SECURITY_default_island_1/default-web-access.log
$ORACLE_HOME/infra/oc4j/j2ee/OC4J_DBConsole_stingray.circlek.com_icprod/log/http-web-access.log

We are using a rudimentary script that makes a copy of the archive, a copy of the current log and then empties the current log. This process gives us 2-3 weeks of history and is self-maintaining (what every DBA should strive for).

There are about a million log files in this rats nest of directories, but they all seem to be pretty small and slow growing. Are there other log files that should be maintained regularly?

An Ounce of Prevention


Besides ongoing maintenance, what can a self-respecting DBA do to reduce unnecessary logging? I do not know of a list of what can be turned off or reduced.

I am counting on my Oracle friends, both here in the blogsphere as well as in Twitlandia to help me flesh out this list so we can all can have a master list of log files to include in maintenance scripts. Your comments here are greatly appreciated.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A New Addition...

Giovanni arrived to the world late last week allowing my little brother to finally become a fellow member of the "Fathers of boys" club. I am sad to report that none of Giovanni's cousins that have met so far wanted to spend any time with him.

baby, newborn, blanket, boy

Just kidding. Not since the arrival of the Wii game system in our house have I seen my boys argue over sharing this much. baby, newborn, blanket, boy


Giovanni's parents also seem to be pretty taken in with him which is a good thing since they will be spending a lot of time with him for the next 15 years or so.


baby, newborn, blanket, family, mom, dad


A few more pictures over at my photoblog if you still have not gotten your fill of baby pictures. Clicking on any picture will take you to a bigger version.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Shooting Jams

My youngest son told me a few weeks ago that he didn't remember ever shooting a gun. He had come with a few years ago once or twice when I took his older brother, but he hadn't wanted to go since then. As it had been about a month since I had been to a range, we made plans to go to a local public range this past weekend.

My Dad came with and brought his .22 revolvers with as they were a good size for a new shooter. I brought my guns with as well since I wanted to shoot the long guns as well as get some trigger practice with my 9mm pistol.

The weather was a perfect Arizona winter. Not cold enough for anything more than a t-shirt and not hot enough to get dehydrated. After showing my son how to load, cock, aim and fire one of the .22 revolvers and supervising him for awhile, my Dad took over supervising duty and I loaded up the .308 and got started on my targets.

My target was about 40 yards away and I was shooting from a bench and leaning on a cement shooting table without blocks. I took my time lining up my shots and did not rush. Three of my first 4 were in the black circle that I was aiming for. Oddly, that was better aim than when I used the .22 rifle a few minutes later. I thought the kick of the .308 would throw my aim off more. Maybe it was the better scope that helped.

After a couple magazines of .308 kicking me around, I was ready to give my Taurus 9mm pistol a workout. The last time I was at the range, I had some jamming trouble. I thought I had narrowed it down to a specific clip not feeding correctly and so I was not using that clip anymore. Sadly, almost every clip I shot had at least one problem. This happened with both types of ammunition I had with me as well as both clips that I was using.

Last time I was at the range about a month ago, another shooter suggested that my problems were lack of lubrication, so when I it that night, I made sure to be more generous with the oil when re-lubricating.

What do you do when you have a problem? You search for the answer online. Who knows, that may even be how you ended up here. Well, one of the first hits I found was from North Carolina Sportsman with an article titled "Why your semi-auto pistol jams." I found this article very informative and useful.

First of all, it appears that my problem is properly defined as "failure to extract" and happens when the empty shell does not get extracted properly after the shot is fired. Furthermore, it seems that the most likely cause of this is what is called "limp-wristing" or not having a tight enough grip on the gun.

It looks as though I have something to practice next time I go shooting. In the meantime, I was able to take advantage of the problems to practice clearing malfunctions.

All-in-all, it was a fun day shooting and we all had fun. I need to plan on doing this again real soon.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Movie Time

I just watched The Flying Scotsman about cyclist Graeme Obree. I thought it was a pretty good movie and it got me thinking about other sports or athletics movies. I realized I could not think of very many off the top of my head so I asked my friends on Twitter for some ideas.

Instead of just giving you a list of movies, I am going to put them in some general categories. I know they could all be put in other categories, but I'll let you provide feedback as I have not seen most of these. Leave me a note in the comments and I'll continue refining this list with better categories as I get them.

Documentaries
What it Takes Ironman - Triathelete documentary
Running on the Sun - about the Badwater ultramarathon
The Runner - about ultra runner David Horton
Spirit Of The Marathon

Other (motivational, inspirational, love story, etc.)
The Flying Scotsman
Breaking Away
Remember the Titans
Little Giants
Rudy
Facing The Giants
Hoosiers
Tin Cup

Comedies
Wildcats
Sandlot
Mighty Ducks
Rookie of the Year
Caddyshack



Thanks to the following members of the great Twitter-nation for these movie names. If you are on Twitter give them a shout and think about following them.

@CalebMasland
@DaniSykes
@Jason_K_Smith
@Loves2workout
@SKDickey
@bikedork
@dbjohnson
@jducey14
@kimba90
@kimokali
@mary_thornhill

I would love to update this list and include more titles, so please fill out a quick comment with your favorite sports movies (I'm surprised no one said Blades of Glory yet) and give a quick review if you want to recommend one (or recommend avoiding any).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

ATM's

I was reading a friends blog about his time abroad and one post made me remember something that happened to me. I tried to post a longish comment, but due to technical problems with his blogging platform, I was not able to. So I decided to post it here.


Funny how things we take for granted are in other countries. I discovered our hotel wanted to charge me an extra 25% if I wanted to pay by credit card, so I went to take a couple hundred out at an ATM. After trying unsuccessfully twice, the machine-gun-armed guard told me I was trying to take out more than the limit. Daily withdrawal limits were $100 USD.

I went into the bank and got $300 when the teller came back with my cash I realized they had not asked me what denominations. Since things were so cheap, twenty dollar bills were difficult to get change for, so it was all in $10 bills. I felt like I was a drug dealer or paying some ransom with my bulging fanny pack and jacket pockets.

I was a bit concerned for my safety till I got back to the hotel and paid my bill for most of the week (getting rid of about half of the cash) and secreting most of the rest in my money belt.

Funny how things we may take for granted (taking $100 from an ATM and getting 5 $20 bills) are not the same everywhere.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's it worth?

Value is often subjective. A gallon of gas is under $2.00 most places in the US right now, but if you needed to get somewhere urgently, you would be likely to pay a lot more.

I can get a gallon of water at a machine near my house for 25 cents. If I was stuck in the middle of a hot desert, I would easily pay $100 (if I had it) for a glass of water to ensure my survival.

Stimator claims to be a Real Website Value Estimator. I was not sure about it, so I took a look at it and ran a couple websites through.

The first was a domain I have had for about 2 years. I use AndertFamily.net to post race reports and some family photos. I would classify this web page as "lightly used, personal information". Stimator reported this domain is worth $54 US dollars.

The second was a domain I have had for about 4 months. I use FlowingDesert.com as a main entry point for my new business venture, Flowing Desert Photography. I would classify this web page as "somewhat actively used, business information" and have been actively promoting this domain as well as 2 subdomains. Stimator reported this domain is worth $1,150 US dollars.

While these numbers make a bit of relative sense based on how and how much I use them, they really have no significant impact on me since I do not intend on selling either domain. It is nice however to see that there is value in the promotion activity I have done with my Flowing Desert domain.

What do you think? Run some of your domains against Stimator and let me know how accurate you think the numbers are in the comments here or give me a shout at @CactusTri over on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No such thing as free lunch.

But there are some contests that you can enter (for free) and possibly win something (for free).

One of the blogs I regularly read, The Pipers are participating in "A Requirement-free Giveaway: Make Your Favorite Picture a Poster". This post is the hardest thing I've done to enter and there are other ways to enter that are even easier. You can also send a tweet on Twitter, click that link to see mine and you can ReTweet it if you want.

If I win, I will probably decide between this one:
and this one:
What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know which you think would look best on a big wall. Or visit my photography site and see if you think a different one would be a better choice. Spread this contest around and say hi to me over on Twitter if you get a chance.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day hike

The Plan.

This kind of weather makes it hard to stay inside so I decided to head out for an afternoon hike up in the mountains. My youngest son decided to join me so we grabbed my camera bag and headed out early afternoon.

Execution.

We headed out to the Superstition mountains and found the trailhead we had selected without any problem. About 3pm, we headed out from the car. We had no rush to set a fast pace and just set out along the trail. We had great weather, mostly clear skies with just a few white puffy clouds floating by. Perfect t-shirt weather.

The chart on the right shows the elevation. Pretty gentle till the last section before we turned around where it go a bit steep.

The overall pace is surprisingly low, even when you consider that this was the longest my son and I have gone together, but we stopped quite a few times for sight-seeing. There are some amazing views in the Superstition mountains as well as quite a bit of wildlife. Several times we saw several hummingbirds at the same time.

The Numbers.

Just over 4 miles
About 1450 ft of elevation gain
Average temp was 56* F
110 pictures taken (keep an eye over at blog.FlowingDesert.com, they will start turning up soon).

Conclusion.

A great way to spend an afternoon.

Love is in the air...

OK, maybe not in the air, but it is definitely somewhere. I know it is. I can smell it. At least I think that is love. Maybe it is just a new fabric softener.

I am scheduling this to publish early on the 14th, so in case you forgot, you still have a chance to get a card before the only thing left are the leftover Christmas cards.

I'll admit it. I am a softie at times. I like to do nice things for my wife "just because". While I do not do them as often as I would like, I sort of resent being told I am required to spend $$ on roses on a specific day when a week before or after that day I could give her twice as many flowers for half as much. And a dinner out the week before Valentine's Day is much more relaxing than bumping elbows with everyone else because the restaurant squeezed another 10 tables to make a few extra bucks.

Will the current financial state curb plans for folks? Will more people have a surprise Valentine's Day a few days early? Will the jewelry gifts be a bit more subdued than during the boom years of dot-com mania?

What do you think? Is Valentines day over marketed? Do some of us need to take a hint and start being more romantic on a more regular (though not predictable) basis? Let me know in the comments or give me a shout over on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sequential or Random Access snack machines

Of Databases:
As a Database Administrator (DBA) by profession and training, I understand a bit about database technology. I have learned about the early versions that required data to be read sequentially. If you had to use a phone book sequentially, that means in order to look up someone with the last name Smith, you would first have to scan past every other name in the book that came before Smith. Anderson, Barker, Cadwell, etc. For some purposes, this was acceptable, since machines were doing the work and it was much faster than a human could do the same thing.

The next major improvement became what is called a Relational Database. This allows the data to be retrieved from any place in the table without needing to read all the records before it. This makes a database more efficient and practical for data sets with very large numbers of records. This allowed what we consider random data access.

Of Snack Machines:
Snack machines allow for the buyer to choose which product (record) they want. Press A1 for m&m's, B4 for Milky Way, C3 for Trail Mix or D5 for Zingers, the choice is yours. When you make your choice, the machine (database) activates the spiral for your product, dropping it into the tray for your snacking pleasure. The selections can be made in any order without a difference in how long it will take to get your snack (data).

So databases and snack machines are both relational. HOWEVER, you may have seen vending machines that intentionally break this by putting different snacks in the same selection. So A1 may be plain m&m's now, but the next one might be peanut m&m's. This is very frustrating if you want peanut m&m's now. One option the vending machine people have is to use the choices as separate selections. This way, A1 will always be plain m&m's and A2 will always be peanut m&m's which is great for thos of us who will only eat plain (or peanut) m&m's. Unfortunately, space is at a premium and doing things like that means that other choices will no longer have a spot, so maybe the Milky Way or 3 Musketeer fans lose out.

In the same way, sometimes people will take a field in a database like SourceID and instead of using it for the ID of the referral source, will use whatever sounds right. Now SourceID has valid entries like TV101 (for a tv advertising campaign) or EC (for existing customer) along with invalid entries like Bob (the name of the friend that referred them) or TVINET (because they saw an ad on tv as well as an email). The problem with these invalid entries is that the people in charge of analyzing the success or failure of a marketing campaign no longer can accurately tell how much business impact a given campaign has produced.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Running

WooHoo! What a great way to end a weekend. Saturday, I drove up to Prescott for a portrait session with my cousin, Frankie! She is a doll and had a great time. My aunt had a great spot picked out and we had a lot of fun. I hope to put a few of the pictures up on my photo site later this week.

Then, later in the day, I went for a 5 mile run. Same as last weekend only with newer shoes. No soreness today at all! Just over 15 miles again.

Sunday afternoon, DS#2 took me out for a run so he can stick to his c25k plan. Just as we started running after our warm-up walk, he asks me if that is a woodpecker. Go take a look and let me know what you think. Or you can cheat and go to my photoblog site when it posts and see it there.

What a fun way to end a week (of course, I'll pay for it tomorrow since I am up so late, but that is the price of playing with Lightroom for hours on end).

How was your week? Leave me a comment here or say "Hi" over on Twitter.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Speed!

Running last night was great. First 2.1 miles were run/walk with my youngest son and was at about 15 mpm avg including the ~5 min warm up and another ~5 min cool down. He is working through Couch to 5k (C25k) and just started week 2. I am using the runs with him as either an easy day or a warm-up depending on my schedule.

So after the 2.1 miles with him, kept going and decided to do another mile or so "faster". To be honest, I was thinking a mile or 2 at 10 mpm or so would be ok. After about 2 min, I checked my pace and Mr Garmin said I was doing about 8:30. It felt ok and I thought I could hold that for a mile, so I picked up the effort a bit, and got my average for that mile as low as about 7:20 for a bit and just tried to hold it together for the rest of the mile. I faded a bit by the end of the mile, but still managed to make that 3rd mile in under 8 minutes.

This morning, I felt fine, with to tightness or soreness. I had a 20 min chair massage and she said that there was very little tightness in my back or shoulders.

I am trying to balance taking it easy with getting back my endurance and speed from last year in hopes of getting another marathon under my belt this year and possibly getting closer to qualifying for the Boston Marathon. That is a big goal and one I want to achieve before tackling Ironman again in a few years.

What about you? How are your fitness goals coming? Are you making any progress toward them? Let me know in the comments or head over to Twitter and let me know.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The List

I have never made a list of things I wanted to do by the time I was 40, 50 or any other age. I never made an infamous "Bucket List", at least not in writing. I am not against any of these lists, but like the idea of having a "To-Do" list. Here is my first official release of my list. I am including a few items that I have already done, just because I feel they are momentous enough that they have influenced my life.

Learn a second language (Spanish 1976ish)
Complete a marathon (Twin Cities Marathon 2006)
Complete an Ironman Triathlon (IMAZ April 2008)
Take a photo workshop/class
Sell a photograph to someone I do not know
Learn to program better in Perl
Learn to fly an airplane
Visit China

I am sure that there will be things that I will discover later. Some of these things are easier to do and some are harder and will take longer. For now though, this will be my list.

What about you? Do you have a list of things that you want to accomplish in your life? Are you making any progress toward them? Let me know in the comments or head over to Twitter and let me know.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

More running!

It was a chilly 42*F when I headed out, so I wore a long-sleeve compression shirt under a t-shirt. I know all you Northerners are laughing at me calling 42 cold, but at my current slow pace, I don't generate enough heat, so I need a bit of help.

I managed to keep an even pace. The first mile was 12 mpm including about 3 min of fast walking to warm up. Overall average was close to 11:30 mpm. This was my longest run so far in 09 and I felt great the whole time other than a bit of an upset stomach.

The total for the week of 12.75 which is, I'm pretty sure, my best week in over 6 months. Woo Hoo! I feel a 15 mile week coming up soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More good news!

Hear me Roar!: Good news!

In addition to being good news for Amanda, it is good news for all of us to know that there are so many men and women putting their lives on the line to protect our freedom.

So, Jarrod, thank you for your service and glad you are home safe and sound. That thanks also goes out to the rest of our armed forces.

Terrific Tuesday

Have you ever lost your wallet or purse? I think most of us have at one time or another. If so, you know the sick-to-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling that hits you when you realize it is missing.

The flip side of losing your wallet is finding it again. Or finding something else. It feels great to find something of value. Finding 25 cents while I was out on a run one day brightened my day. Finding a coupon for a favorite restaurant can make someone happy.

With that incredibly long, but hopefully not too boring lead-in, today's news story is about a movement to help more people feel the good feeling of finding something.

Burger King is dropping real wallets in Chicago and Orlando with real money and real gift certificates in them to brighten people’s lives and make things better for people...

More recently, some other folks have taken this idea and run with it. Nina Hershberger and Daiv Russell have launched a Pay It Forward campaign. Instead of real wallets, which would be a bit more expensive, their plan is using paper wallets. They will provide people with 50 free paper wallets, just for the asking for people that will pass them out as they see fit with the addition of something of value. The item of value can be anything of your choice, whether that is gift certificates, cash or something else is up to you. Check it out and think about whether this is something you could participate in to help spread some good news around.

What do you think about this? A good idea or should helping others be done in other ways? If you do plan on doing this, please leave a comment here. You can also chat about it over on Twitter where you can say "hi" to me as well.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Double Digits!!!

I finally made it to double-digit mileage this week (with a 1-time adjustment from Mon-Sun to Sun-Sat for this week only). 12 miles!!! This morning was a 4 miler which is a new record for 2009, so that was a great way to start the weekend.

Lets see if we can keep this up next week.

Wish me luck! No, really, wish me luck here in the comments or drop me a note on Twitter, it really helps.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This is strange

I logged in to a bill paying site I have used for several years and got this message:

Please note that you will only see this message once and must take immediate action on it.

We take great care to keep your personal information secure. As part of these ongoing efforts, we are notifying you that the computer you use for online bill payment may have been exposed to software that puts the security of your computer's contents at risk. This letter will help you determine if your computer is actually infected and advise you how to fix the problem and protect yourself against future risk.

The malicious software affects some but not all customers who accessed online bill payment on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. For a limited period of time, some customers were redirected from the authentic bill payment service to another site that may have installed malicious software. Your computer may be infected if all of the following are true:

* You attempted to access online bill payment between 12:30 a.m. and 10:10 a.m. Eastern time (GMT -5) on Tuesday, December 2, 2008, and
* You were using a computer with the Windows operating system, and
* You reached a blank screen rather than the usual bill payment screen when you attempted to navigate to online bill payment, and
* After reaching the blank screen, your computer's virus protection program did not tell you via pop-up or other messaging that malicious software was detected and quarantined.

If all four of the conditions above are true, your computer may be infected. We have partnered with McAfee, .... Please contact us ... for further instructions. We will also offer you both advice and free services that can help you mitigate any risk you may face as a result of this incident or other everyday exposures you may encounter. ...

We value your business and your trust, and we apologize for any inconvenience this recent incident has caused.


I am not sure exactly what day or time I logged in, but there is no way I remember what time I logged in or what messages I received. I guess I will give them a call tomorrow and see what is up. I guess I should assume I got hit and get the fix.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Running and stuff

I really started this blog to monologue about my running and have a place to put my race reports for future review. Thus, now that I have started running a bit more regularly, I am going to start logging my runs here. I also log them on BeginnerTriathlete.com (I am CactusTriathlete there) and that feeds my Twitter-stream. But to my loyal blog readers, I will keep the most interesting (interesting being relative, sometimes a run is just a boring run) stuff here.

I ran a total of 3.1 miles in a shade under 34 minutes for an avg pace of 10:52 mpm. Miles 2 & 3 were a tad faster than the first and I ran the whole way with no walk breaks. I feel like I could have gone a few more miles (but not too much further tonight). Effort was moderate and I went without water (trying to avoid water for anything under 1 hour until the temps start to climb back up.

Thanks for dropping by and may your runs be fast and feel easy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Terrific Tuesday

While this is going out Wednesday, I am calling it Terrific Tuesday because of when I heard and found these items.

Item #1.
My mom called. Biopsy results are in. Not Cancer. GREAT NEWS!!!

Item #2.
A friend on Twitter sent a link to this video. That prompted me to dig a bit more to find out about this guy and found his site here. If anyone has a reason to be bitter, Nick would be it, but he is not. You will fall down, but you don't need to stay down. Keep trying and never give up!

Now, your turn. Share something good that has happened to you recently. Or something that you read that made you feel good. Or tell me this stuff makes you sick (though if that is the case, I highly doubt you have even read this far). Hey, that is why the comments are there and I just made it easier than ever to post a comment. As long as I don't start getting a ton of spam, I will leave these looser settings, so if you want to post a motivational message about your discount pharmacy, please don't, as I will just delete it. Anything other than spam is welcome.

Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tech Coolness

A friend just passed this link on to me. Besides the expected low price, this laptop looks like it would meet the needs of upwards of 90% (my guess) of home computer users. Based on only this one post, as long as the drivers for printing are available, my suspicion is that this machine has the potential to be a best-seller. The prototype they are showing looks like something Fisher-Price would make (that is a compliment in my book) and would be pretty reliable which would make it a great addition to any household with kids or new computer users.

I look forward to the continued progress of this product and hope it doesn't languish in development due to the current financial struggles.

What do you think? Would this find it's way into your house? Would it replace some or most of what you do with a laptop? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Almost...

... made it to double digits this week. Just over 8 miles. Nothing record-breaking for me, but a new high for 2009. Maybe next week will be over 10.

Today was a nice 3.15 mile progression run. Each mile was faster than the one before.

That's all. Stay tuned for more running next week (I hope). If you need more before then, feel free to visit my photo blog or head over to Twitter and say "hi".

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I ran again last night!

OK, I ran at the gym on Tuesday as well, but last night I went about 2.4 miles. I made a few up and down sprints at the water retention basins for a bit of extra and threw in a short speed interval to give my son a run for his money (he was pacing me on his bike). I only took about a 30 second walk break after the speed interval to get my HR and breathing back under control.

I managed about 5.5 miles last week (1 of those was walking with my lovely wife) and so far this week I am at 3.9 with 4 days to go (my training schedule starts Mondays) so if I get 2 more workouts in and average 1.55 miles each, I will be at 8 for the week. Any walks and I should be able to hit double digits!

And that is on top of getting off to a spectacular start on maintaining my photo blog. My minimum goal there is to have at least 1 photo a week and try to get post every other day as a stretch goal.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I can't say anything else...

Frankie's blog entry from yesterday is powerful. There is nothing I can add except my own humble thanks to the men and women of our armed forced putting their lives on the line every day to protect my freedom.

Lest the cynical among us (myself included) suspect this is just some political hot air trying to drum up pro-war sympathies, snopes has verified it and lists it as true.

Check it out.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Running?!?!?

Remember that? That was one of the main reasons I started blogging here. That and swimming and biking make up triathlon. Since April about the only time running has come up here is me moping about not doing it very much.

Well, this week I ran 3 times. Only a total of 4.5 miles and at a pretty easy pace, but I have to start somewhere. Also, 2 of those runs were followed by a good 30+ minutes of weight training.

Next week, the goal is at least 3 runs and shoot for 6+ miles. Should be a reasonable goal, but keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blog 2008 year in review

In most sports, numbers are used to analyze everything from a baseball batters performance to the percentage of free throws a basketball player makes. In businesses, managers will use numbers to analyze their profitability as well as well as to identify profitable products and markets. I have likewise been trying to balance what I am interested in with what the people that come to my blog like to see.

To that end, earlier this year, I implemented Google Analytics to track statistics on my visitors. Don't worry I do not track any personal information about anyone stopping by here (I don't even think I can) but rather just information about how many people, what part of the country or world where they are logged in. So how did I do for 2008?

1332 Visits
18 countries
41 states
80 posts

I started blogging in May, but started doing it a bit more consistently in July. Also by July, I had gotten most of the kinks worked out of Google Analytics so the numbers above are not complete for the earlier period of my blogging.

The main goal of this blog was initially to have a place to lecture, rant, rave or ramble to no one in particular. That included topics that interest me including photography. When I started my photography blog in December, I knew that would mean that most of the future entries here would not be directly photography related, but that was ok.

It has been fun watching the statistics here. The one I enjoy looking at most is the countries and states visited. I had visitors from 41 states in 2008 and 38 of them were multiple visits. It was also fun to see visitors from all over the world. I hope that some of them find something interesting or entertaining and keep coming back from time to time.

Now here is the audience participation part. If you are reading this, please take a minute and post at least a short comment to let me know where you are.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Darwin Awards are back

The 2008 Darwin Awards are out. You can vote on your favorites here. I'm sure you know that Charles Darwin is known for the theory of evolution which in a short, non-technical, average-joe/jane kind of way says that species will evolve or change over time by the stronger traits becoming more prominent and the weaker, less useful ones being less prominent or disappearing. If you have not heard about the Darwin Awards (named in his honor), their web site explains it this way:

The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of
the human genome by honoring those who
accidentally remove themselves from it...

In other words, they are awards given to people who managed to kill themselves in some spectacularly idiotic way.

My favorite is Run! No, Run Away! It meets the spirit of the Darwin Awards in a wonderful way.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve Report

Last night, we had a family get together for New Year's Eve. My parents made reservations for a hayride and campfire dinner. We met at MacDonald's Ranch right around sunset. My sister was in town for a few days with her son and my brother and his girlfriend/fiancee also came with. My oldest son brought a friend with as well.

friends, horse
Everyone was entranced by the horses and their willingness to come over to the fence and visit. We got everyone together and made our way over to the wagon. We all piled on for horse-drawn wagon for the ride out to our campsite. When we got there and unloaded our stuff the cowboy took off with our wagon and said he would be back at 9 unless we called for an earlier pickup.

The fire was going when we got there, so all we needed to do was add wood when it needed it.

fire, campfire, bonfire

There was a generator running some lights at some of the picnic tables and a couple porta-potties. We sat down to eat and while we were eating, we heard some coyotes howling. We didn't see them, but they sure sounded close. After we ate, we played some games, made smores and visited around the fire.

stars, cactus, saguaro, night, dusk
We enjoyed our evening under the stars and went back to the cars on another horse-drawn wagon and made it back home by 10:30 so we were off the roads before the highest numbers of drunks were on the roads. It was a great time and we had a lot of fun.