Sunday, December 27, 2009

Week 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 & 46 - 100in1001

Man, these updates are getting pathetic. I would blame it on work and school as I have recently been doing, but I think it more squarely falls on lack of progress, much to my chagrin.

On movies and books, I've been getting plenty of them in but not many that are in relation to this list! I am almost through reading a version of Arabian Nights that has been good so far and will knock another one off of my classics list. I also saw Do The Right Thing for one of the Top 100 movies and it was another surprise for me. Much like Ben Hur I let it sit for quite a while and wasn't all that enthusiastic but it ended up being a great story that (sadly) still has applicable lessons today. I think the best scene was where many of the major characters got a small soliloquy of sorts where they hurled racial insults against a particular race (not of their own of course) at the camera.

I'm still looking for ideas for new list items but one thing as far as bookkeeping goes is I think I'm going to drop the counters for some of the weekly or other "do this frequently" type items because I can't realistically expect to do, say, disc golf twice a week when it is snowing or something like that. Thus far when I couldn't do a periodic item I would take that period off of the total, but I think I'm going to drop that entirely and just keep track of the number of times I've completed the item. This is supposed to be a positive list after all so it doesn't make as much sense to indirectly keep track of the failures.

In terms of these items I've been making decent progress, especially in the exercise category. After yet again falling off the 100 pushups horse I'm back on it and doing fairly well. The fourth week really is a bear. I've also been sticking to Pilates and been doing some fitness stuff on the Wii, which I find much easier to do in terms of motivation.

I think a "yearly cleanup" is in order for the list as a whole just to make sure everything is relevant to what I want to be doing over the next two years. Do this in February most likely at the one year mark.

Outside of the list, my first semester at NKU has come to a close and I'm finally taking a bit of time to relax. How wonderful!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 & 40 - 100in1001

Whew yet another string of a complete lack of weekly updates on my part. But, really, I don't feel anyone is missing anything because my progress on any items other than the incremental ones has absolutely slowed to a crawl. Work and teaching combined is just a bit too much. No work or work and only one class would be fine, but my current schedule is overboard. The good news is, now that the semester is nearing an end, I'm finally a bit ahead in my preparation and such. With next week being Thanksgiving with several days off I should be in a good position to knock out at least the lectures for the rest of the semester.

I recently finished A Storm Over the Land, a book about the Civil War. This is one of my favorite subjects in history so I of course enjoyed reading the book. Early on it is quite choppy but it catches its stride about 1/3 of the way through and is quite good from then on. It is a compression of a much larger series on the Civil War and I think Sandburg does a good job in presenting the important things concisely. A great read for the newcomer to the topic especially.

One thing I've found extremely hard to do is the 100 push up challenge. Sometimes it is simply hard for me to remember or have the gumption to do them 3 times a week. I have found that even missing a day seems to put me back a week on progress, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The larger problem is I've hit a much bigger wall with getting over week 4 (as the middle column) than with week 3. I'm not sure why, but I just am not seeming to build up any more endurance at this point. The only thing I can think of is I'm not getting enough protein in my diet. When I kept track of meals over the summer on dailyburn.com I noticed that typically I didn't meet the recommended daily intake. Protein powder perhaps? Similarly, my yoga and pilates have been suffering equally, though my body has seemed to maintain their levels of fitness fairly well. Oh well, I'll keep looking towards getting ahead with my teaching stuff and hopefully getting back on the horse here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Weeks 30, 31, 32, 33 & 34

Wow, has it really been five weeks since I last updated Sugary Donut? Yikes. I have been absolutely swamped at school making up lessons and grading. That was bad enough, but I have also started doing some part-time development work and, at 30 hours a week, all free time I had left has been completely sucked up. I won't lie, it hasn't been a great existence but it's only temporary.

Have some interesting stories from NKU though. One of my classrooms has a door that must be locked at all times, it even has a sign on the door saying this, and for the first week I lacked a key so someone from the university was supposed to unlock it before class. Day 1 this did happen, but day 2 it was locked when I got there and, by 15 minutes before class, I had to start making calls. No one from the right office answered the phone so I had my chair start calling around for me. By about 10 minutes after class was supposed to have started a student managed to jimmy open one of the doors. Convenient and a bit scary all at the same time. I was ready to call DPS... what a hassle.

The next week I hopped in my car and headed to the same class and halfway to school I realized that I left the classroom key at home. It was now 5:30 and I had about 45min to go snag it and get to class--just enough time. I knew 17 was backed up onto the interstate so that was out, but I could get off at 16. When I got to the exit there was a wreck that has just happened blocking the off ramp. Great. I had to go up to Turkeyfoot to get home and hit what seemed like every light on the way. I made it to class eventually but 10 minutes late. Fortunately the students gave me the "professor 15" and were all sitting in the hall still waiting for me to arrive.

My part time work is with Cincinnati Bell and I'm grateful for the chance to get some work experience, network, and make quite a bit extra cash. However, their desired 30 hours a week plus the drive time up to Evendale is what has really start to put a crimp in my style. Oh well, I guess I can suck it up until the end of the semester when I need to figure out what is going on.

None of this is really helping my 100 things list but they're the reason I haven't made much progress, yet again. Mostly just incremental stuff. I think I'm going to have to drop Meatless Mondays until I get a place of my own because I can't get mom to remember it and I've mostly been forgetting it myself. Not a huge loss for now but I'm going to try to figure it out. I may do two or three days of meatless lunches as a replacement.

Ben Hur was crossed off the movie list as well as Doctor Strangelove. I didn't know what to think of Strangelove going in and I came out loving it. Excellent dark comedy with good acting and witting dialog. Have to know a bit about the Cold War time period to truly appreciate it though. 5/5.

Ben Hur was a movie I was actually kind of dreading to see. To begin, it's a REALLY long film (the prologue screen was literally 10 minutes long just by itself!) so you have to be ready for a marathon, which took me a while. A lot of really old films like Ben Hur have a pacing we just aren't used to today and large epics can often come across as too self-important. This film was amazing though, didn't have any of those drawbacks in too serious a fashion. The pacing is a bit slower than today, but it was appropriate for the scope of the movie. Good acting, cinematography, and sets too, I don't even want to think about how much this movie cost for the time. One of the most interesting things for me was the story plays around the events of Jesus Christ's life and the full title of the book and movie is Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, although Jesus himself only makes a couple appearances. Very subtle and too good effect. 4.5/5

And finally I finished reading Pillars of the Earth. Damn, what a great book. This is one of my favorites. Great story where you learn about the time and architecture while also being roller coaster ride of emotions and action. This is one of the few books I've actually had "damn! did that just happen!" type moments. Plenty of intrigue, back-stabbing, good vs. evil, religion, government, nobility & peasantry, and realistic (re: non-cheesy) love to keep everyone interested. I obviously really got into this book and I'd recommend it to anyone really. I myself can't wait to read the sequel, World Without End.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Week 28 & 29 - 100in1001

Whew. It has been a rough couple of weeks due school getting into full swing. Without much upfront effort, I have been spending a lot of time getting ready for classes and making sure I stay up on grading. Everything has gone smoothly on the teaching end; just a couple of problems like not having keys--and thus being locked out of a classroom one night--to make things interesting. The worst part in teaching always is doing a new class due to all the prep work. If I get the chance to do it again I bet it'll be even better.

As far as progress on 100in1001 goes I've been maintaining exercising for the most part, though some of it has been outside activity (e.g. racquetball and tennis) rather than an actual workout like Pilates. One thing I've been wondering about is whether I should keep the "one scientific paper a week" thing going. I'm not sure I can really find that many interesting papers nor really have the time to read AND understand them. Will have to think on it a little more.

I finished The Inferno and I have to admit that I'm rather disappointed. I know that I'm going to get sacked, beaten, drawn and quartered by the literary crowd but that's how I feel about it. I went into it imagining a rich, vivid description of Hell. What I got was nowhere near that. Way too many required endnotes to understand what Dante was saying, too much stuff only relevant to his time and politics, and not that great of a tale really. I think the end notes were probably the hardest part to jump over for me because, due to the flipping back and forth every couple of lines, the narrative was very broken and I lost the flow. My problem is I wouldn't have understood a lot of it without them. Several end notes point out what an amazing thing he's done (like imagined the metamorphosis of two people into one when past writers had only morphed one person) that don't seem like that great of leaps. Dante also had a very high opinion of himself, another thing that turned me off. I understand there's a lot of interesting literary stuff going on and he pulls together a lot of stuff, but in the end those things did not make it entertaining to read.

I also watched Yankee Doodle Dandy to knock off another AFI film. Unlike The Inferno I was not disappointed here, but that's because I was dreading watching it. A musical (bad!) with lots of dancing (even worse!) about a guy whom I only know little about (ugh!). I imagine this film means a lot more to people from those times because they can relate to it more, but I just can't. I ended up giving it 2/5 stars on Netflix (1.5 on my site) simply due to the acting and the assumed relevance to the period. I wouldn't watch it again though.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Week 27 - 100in1001

I signed up for Netflix this week and got my first movie: Blade Runner (Final Cut). It happens to be #97 on the AFI list so good news there. The problem with it is that I didn't find the movie all that great. After watching I read up on the movie and it appears that on release it got very mixed reviews and was often cited for poor pacing. I completely agree with this assessment: it was portrayed as a type of action film but ends up being a slow drama. I, and the friends I watched it with, were sometimes confused as to what was going on (like why were they in that hotel where the scale was found?). I read up on the themes and arcs, which I found sensible, but I wasn't thinking about these things the entire time I was watching and I feel they could have been portrayed much better than came across. The question posed to Decker if he was ever mistaken and retired a human was good but the part I found the most impacting is when the soldier replicant gives his little speech and retires in the rain. His dialog there was great and I wish the movie had tried a little harder to make moments like these. I have a feeling that if I give it another try I will find it a much better film.

I also started on The Inferno by Dante. I am not very far in but I am having a bit of a hard time reading it. Not so much because it is hard to follow but because there are so many endnotes (they are almost literally half the book), almost one per line or two. At first I was reading them all but then I realized more than half of them were explaining themes or references that I already understood. I've started skipping some but I always have the urge to look because I feel like I will miss out on something important. The problem is flipping back to all these endnotes really ruins my immersion in the poem itself.

Other than that I've now completed weeks 1 and 2 of the 100 pushups challenge. Week 3 is where I stalled out last time--partially me, partially life getting in the way--so I'm looking forward to making further progress. I've also started playing more disc golf again and, despite a terrible round yesterday, I feel that I'm playing well and my drives are again starting to improve a bit. School starts in a week and I really need to get moving on getting stuff ready for my classes!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oil vs Gas Prices

I am hoping this is still a work in progress, but I am going ahead and putting up the current results. I started this project basically because I (and everyone else) notice huge jumps upward in gas prices but not downward, and basically for no apparent reasons. So, this project is partly to see how closely tied to oil prices gas really is and second just as a programming exercise in Python and its graph capabilities. Overall it appears that, in terms of % change since 1997, gas pretty much follows oil at the high level. I started at 1997 because that is when the government sources I got the data from become consistent for both data sets. See the graph for more information and here are some simple statistics. Although the average upward changes are higher, they are not enough to be that significant. Similarly, the max upward changes are close to the max downward (which I call min change below) changes; oil's downward change even beats out the upward. Note that oil is in $/barrel and gas is cents/gallon.
  • Max oil change: 9.17
  • Min oil change: -11.85
  • Avg oil change up: 0.691491628615
  • Avg oil change down: 0.626773211568
  • Max gas change: 45.9
  • Min gas change: -33.3
  • Avg gas change up: 1.74642313546
  • Avg gas change down: 1.54368340944

To read more about the programming end see my KuhlTech blog and check out the code on my main site.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Week 24, 25 & 26 - 100in1001

Whew. No update in three weeks? For shame. I think my problem was two-fold: doing other stuff while finishing up at TIP and lack of overall progress. TIP, for some reason, really threw me for a loop this summer and prevented me from making significant progress on the list for a couple of months. TIP is now over though and I'm at my pseudo-temporary residence in KY until I concretely figure out what I want to do with myself. While I teach at NKU, I'm pondering the full-time job route, going back to grad school, and even doing something like the Peace Corps or UN Volunteers while I've still got nothing tying me down.

My serious workouts were intermittent while at TIP but I've gotten back into the swing of things here at home. Started back on the 100 push-up challenge and Pilates as well as doing chin-ups and some additional exercises. I just need to dig up my Yoga book (or get batteries in the Wii Fit) and I should be set.

I'm going through the rest of the stories in the Stevenson collection. The Suicide Club series was really good and now it's just a few standalones left, or at least as far as I can tell. I did have to skip one because it was written to show the narrator's accent, which made it a complete pain to read. It was so bad after about a page that I just decided to skip the story entirely, as sad as that is. I understand the author's want to portray the character but is it a good idea at the expense of annoying your reader? Stephenson did this in The Baroque Cycle for an Irish or Scottish character's dialogue and it bothered me there too, but I plowed through it because I couldn't just skip sections of the book or I'd quickly get lost.

I guess the last thing is that I really need to sign up for a Netflix account and get moving on my AFI 100 list. I think their prices have gone up a bit since I last looked at them, blah.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Animated DVD Menus Begone!

I've been watching a lot of movies recently as background noise and I've come to notice that one thing that is common to many really bugs me: long menu animations. It's bad enough that the "take me to the menu" button is frequently disabled during commercials and previews, but on top of this the menu is usually considered to start at the beginning of these animations. The viewer is left a captive audience of some lame montage before we get to what we care about (the movie). And by lame I mean only the intern who made it thinks it is worthwhile. Some of the worst offenders have been the Harry Potter movies, especially The Chamber of Secrets. On the positive side some movie makers who get it, like the Lord of the Rings Collector Editions. A simple panning of the table to the book whose pages show the DVD menus. Something so easy yet so hard for Hollywood to grasp it seems.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Week 23 Addendum - 100in1001

I forgot to mention that I completed The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for this week. It is only a novella but it is one of my favorite stories. I first read this as a freshman in college and I remember it captivating me in a way few books have, and I'm an avid reader! Coming back to it seven years later I enjoyed it just as much and probably appreciated the story more. I think it's a great read for anyone, but especially for those who love Victorian gothic horror like I do. The book I have actually includes other works from Stevenson so I'm not marking it off on my books page of my main website, but I'm counting it off as one in the "read the classics" list item. Next up is The Woman Who Wouldn't by Gene Wilder so I can finish it before TIP is over so I can give it back to Katie and then back to Stevenson's short stories.

Week 22 & 23 - 100in1001

TIP has been keeping me extremely busy. While I have had to do less planning and such for class, I still have had improvements and coding to do, as well as thinking up new material because we are progressing slightly quicker than last term. I'm looking forward to seeing the students' final projects, there should be some great things to come.

As for everything else, just the usual updates. Did a few workouts and have been practicing guitar, but the "afternoon TIP malaise" combined with the frequent activities with TIP staff have kept me quite busy. Ever since going to Justine's lake house there's been a lot of cribbage playing that I've enjoyed quite a bit; it's brought back memories of playing with Grandpa Bob when I was younger.

I've been talking a lot about people's post-TIP plans and, though I'm teaching at NKU in the fall, I wish I knew what I will be doing past that :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

The problem with eBills

Okay, besides the stupid name, I really like getting my bills via e-mail. It's quick, easy, saves paper, and helps alleviate the "I only get bills in the mail" doldrums. For me, it's much better to get an e-mail, quickly login to online banking, pay the bill, and be done than waiting for a physical bill and paying via some means of basically giving personal information away. So what's my beef? Well, it's my beef with a lot of companies and large organizations these days: they just don't get the internet.

Some ebills are fine, like the one for my cell phone which clearly shows the total *in the email*. This is the critical point. Many of mine do not, including Time Warner (with whom I've had all kinds of other problems). I get an e-mail telling me my bill is ready. Oh boy, that's helpful. I then have to click the link, login, and locate what I owe through the biller's online system. Talk about a bunch of wasted time and effort (side note: I can see why TWC would be in favor of this, with their vile pushing of metered internet access).

Wise up companies, it is your responsibility to make things easier on your customers as long as security isn't compromised.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Week 21 - 100in1001

Mostly the usual this week. Played a spot of tennis and also made it to the gym. I could definitely tell I haven't been keeping up with my workouts, as I was quite sore the next day. It is amazing how fast one loses push-up and ab endurance. Polished off one term of TIP successfully I think. The students enjoyed the class from what I could tell and I have a few refinements for next term, but it should be a lot less planning at least!

The highlight of the week was hitting Justine's lake house Sunday and Monday for an end-of-term celebration. Got to do some tubing, rowing, games playing, and general horseplay at Lake Kerr and bunked up in her rather awesome house. It was my last chance to hang out with Meg and Jason so it was bittersweet; I'm losing not only tennis partners but some fun friends!

I did update the list a bit and removed some of the items that no longer apply, as I've been threatening to do for a while. Finished up the Motley Fool book--alright, but nothing amazing--and started in on Jekyll and Hyde, which is awesome of course. This coming week should be restful to give my mind a break but I will hopefully get in some good workouts to start back on the fitness items in earnest. That is, after the sunburn from being out on the lake too long on Monday clears up.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Week 19 & 20 - 100in1001

For all of my loyal readers, I'm sorry there was no update last week. To be honest, TIP has kept me rather busy since the start because of all the lesson planning I've been doing. That is really no excuse but that's all I got.

It's been a good couple of weeks though. I have met a lot of great people on staff and have been going out and having a fun time with them. The students show moments of brilliance right alongside displays of lack of wisdom and/or maturity. I definitely have a fun time teaching my class though and this term is no exception. One great moment is the students walked into class one morning and several were debating whether going into the past and killing your past self is suicide or homicide. This gave me a good laugh, but it got better when the "winner" emerged as homicide citing Dragonball Z's interpretation of time where each decision creates parallel universes as the evidence.

Using Python and PyGame have turned out well, though PyGame has presented some stumbling blocks. The worst thing I've come across so far is rotation is not handled well and the finicky screen setup and drawing that often leaves a blank screen reminds me a lot of my frustrations with OpenGL. Oh, and no built-in sprite animation, not even animated gifs, is a terrible oversight. Both the class and I have gotten a better grasp on it though so next semester should be much smoother. I've been developing a Sprite OO based API into PyGame that I'll probably post on my regular site's code section once it gets a bit more mature. Why am I doing this? Quite simply I think PyGame is a bit too functional for new programmers. sprite.rotate( 45 ) makes more sense than sprite = pygame.transform.rotate( 45 ).

Outside of teaching, I've played a lot of tennis and basketball. It's been great to get back into physically intensive sports after really only playing disc golf for quite some time. Tennis game is getting back in shape, all those rounds of racquetball with Jon screwed up my tennis stroke. Basketball has been similarly fun and my shot has definitely only starting to dust off, but I think I'm going to stop playing. I turned my right ankle a bit when someone (a much larger someone) bumped into me and it's obvious it hasn't fully recovered from the sprain this past spring. Unfortunately all the teaching and tennis have put my disc golf game behind a bit, only been getting out once or twice a week and my throw rebuild is kind of stagnating without the consistent practice.

Finally, I watched Casablanca so that was the beginning of the AFI 100 list. What can I really say about this movie? It's fantastic: great cinematography, lighting, mood, and dialog. I haven't been disappointed with a Bogart movie yet. While I can relate to the story, I feel that I'm a bit too far removed from the time period to fully feel the impact of the story. It is still a timeless story I would say, but it probably does lose just a little to a younger viewer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Week 18 - 100in1001

What a waste of a week in terms of 100in1001. I spent it moving to Durham, settling in at Duke, and doing training and prep work for my Programming for Video Games class at Duke TIP. I did get a crossword in thanks to Katie, so hopefully I can start that up again since I have been slacking because of no Technicians from NCSU. Got a pull/chin-up bar for the dorm room and I'm going to grab a balance ball and resistance bands to start on the 300 workout type stuff and switch over to some more back-friendly exercises in the pilates routine. I've started really keeping track of what I'm eating on dailyburn.com and my workouts. Now that I have been doing it for a couple weeks it's been really enlightening to examine my habits. I eat a *lot* of carbs and do not get enough protein while and I workout a moderate amount. The Wii Fit, trips, and "waiting to get to Duke" put my workout schedule out of whack so this week hopefully marks my return to the home gym.

On the positive side, it's great being back on Duke West for TIP and meeting all the great new staff and catching up with the returners. The kids aren't even that bad ;) Each summer at TIP reminds me why I like teaching so much, it's really making me think hard about whether I want to be looking back to grad school or taking a job this fall.

Tomorrow will be the first night for James Joyce trivia, which I'm excited for, I hope planning for class won't keep me from making it!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Week 17 - 100in1001

Another slow week. More and more things are coming to my attention that I need to change on my list with very few ideas coming in to fill them. The latest interest is that crunches and the like are apparently bad for your back, which puts a real crimp in my pilates plans. Many of the exercises require this sort of "flex" motion while laying on your back and I'm now wary of doing it too much. I think I'm going to continue to do pilates, but cut out some of the exercises that fit into this category. One the other hand, I found a some videos of 300 workouts that look good, so I may add those on as a challenge since they look like great training. Modified pilates, yoga, and 300 training seems like a good combo... at least that's what I'm hoping.

Other than that, I drove to Duke today and am now back in the Triangle region to corrupt the minds of the youth. Seems like I took sooo much stuff with me, but it doesn't look too bad now that it's all unpacked. Back to dorm life though *sigh*.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Week 16 - 100in1001

Again not much to report. I've gotten a lot of disc golf as well as Wii Fit in, along with my normal exercises. One Hundred Push-ups is going to be rebooted once I start at Duke because I fell off of it while in Baltimore/DC and I had seemed to be stalling a bit anyway. Bought a jump rope but have yet to start on that challenge and I unfortunately haven't really made progress on any new ones. The only thing is I'm mostly through an investing book (The Motley Fool Investment Guide) and have a couple more on the way that will knock off that item.

I keep saying it, but my big project really needs to be to update my list because so many things are just not applicable at this point. That leads to the other problem of finding more items to round out the 100 things :)

On a side note: temporary moves suck. I tried to pack my things well and label the boxes, but the inevitable mixing occurred when trying to appropriately fill boxes. I currently cannot seem to locate my newest pair of gym shoes! It will be nice to figure out my future post-summer, get a place, and unpack all my stuff again (and hopefully purge some more stuff on top of what I did when I packed it up!).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Media Bias

The "oh they are biased" argument springs eternal, yet no one does anything about it. Why? Because that's what most people want. You'll hear a conservative Republican complain about the bias of, say, the New York Times or a liberal Democrat about Fox News simply because they hold the opposing view (let's assume their reporting is factual, which is a huge assumption). You won't see the Rep. complaining about his beloved Fox or the Dem. about NYT.

People don't want their views challenged, they want them reinforced and so seek outlets that affirm their beliefs. In Sunstein's new book Going to Extremes he talks about how polarizing the online news world is because we filter news into a "Daily Me" of only reinforcing information. I think this is absolutely true, but extends to traditional media as well as the web.

The solution is easy: get a wide range of views and begin coming to your own conclusions. Start reading some of that "garbage" from the other side. I would recommend getting a little news from each side the spectrum along with some international outlets. I, for example, use all of the following for my "Headlines" category in my RSS feeds: BBC, Reuters, NYT, NPR, Financial Times, Slate, and (occasionally) the Washington Post. Wall Street Journal used to be on there until they decided to start charging. I don't read every story, but I browse through them all.

In the end it comes down to wanting to challenge yourself and your views. I think once you get into the swing of things you'll appreciate the new perspective.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Week 15 - 100in1001

Wow. This post is really late. But this time I have a decent excuse. I was in the Baltimore/Wash. DC/Virginia area having some fun!

The trip began as interviews for possible government jobs in the area. During this time I was able to hit four of the disc golf courses in Maryland and, overall, they were solid venues. The four I got to were Patapsco Valley, Rockburn Branch, Druid Hill, and Seneca Creek. The last was definitely the best; you can see my reviews of them on my DGCR profile.

Also during this time I was able to explore a bit of Baltimore. Went to the Inner Harbor a couple of times and got some good Salmon and Tilapia while I was there. Note that this is saying a lot because I'm not a big seafood eater! I was able to climb up to Federal Hill, which gave me a great view of the harbor and surrounding area. There was a lot of neat sites like the Domino Sugar factory and the ugly new condo/apartment building that Dave (someone who showed me around and had dinner with) and I dubbed the Lego building. I also went to the George Washington monument and the Basilica/Cathedral a little more inland. The Basilica is awesome and quite beautiful. Apparently you can arrange to get up on the top of it and check out the inner dome, something I'd love to do if I get back there. The GWM was a high circular tower that affords an excellent view of Baltimore once you hoof it up the 228 (?) steps.

After this I hopped down to Arlington to visit my friend Katie. Had a great time here also, though I think all the bikers and tourists there for Memorial Day weekend were a bit annoying. Yes I realize the irony in that I was a tourist, let's just ignore that for now. I got two whirlwind driving tours of the monuments and Katie got lost once, though I can't blame her, the roads are not planned well for a modern city. I'd like to go back and actually see them up close sometime but this was not the weekend due to the sheer number of people walking around. Also got out to a vineyard to sample some wine and take in a little folk music, got in a small hike at Greak Falls Park (on the Potomac), and got to Arlington Cemetary on Memorial Day itself. Didn't see the President, but got to check out the grounds, the Lee house, and the changing of the guard. The CotG ceremony was interesting to watch for the sheer focus and precision the guys go about it and I wish I knew more about why everything happens the way it does. I have to note that it has an air of unnecessary military procedure though :)

The most important thing is that visiting Katie was one of my 100in1001 items so got something big knocked off the list, woohoo! I had to put a hold on my exercise items because, well, it as just too hard to keep up in the hotel and such. I'm starting back on it today though!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Worst hotel keycard ever

As some of you may know, right now I'm in the Baltimore/DC area for a job interview. I arrived today, checked into my hotel and unpacked. It was late afternoon so, after wasting some time, I headed out for dinner and a round of disc golf at Patapsco Valley State Park. Upon getting back to the hotel I march up to the side door, swipe my card, and.... red light. Stupid cards, swipe again. The red light just laughs at me. Hmmm. Walk to the other side door same story with the same mocking light. Fine, I'll use the main entrance. I get to the room only to find yet another red light staring blinkingly at me. Grrrr. So back to the lobby I head where I get my card fixed. When the attendant returns my card I am informed that "the card will demagnitize when it is near credit cards or a cell phone." Immediately the who, what, where, and why came to mind...

What?! Who thought this was a good idea?! Where am I supposed to keep the thing, in my shoe?! Why doesn't it work like every other hotel keycard I've had?!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Week 14 - 100in1001

Yet another week of incremental updates... I'm starting to feel like a broken record here. I've added some new items to the list but I haven't pulled the trigger on removing some of the ones that no longer apply. I bought a jump rope to get on that list item but I've mostly been relying on Wii Fit for my exercise (other than pilates) since I relocated to KY.

This week I mostly just spun my wheels and prepped a little for a job interview in DC. I've got to give a half hour long "tech talk" as part of the process so I've been trying to put something together for that. I have gotten in plenty of disc golf games and practice. It is kind of frustrating because I've definitely reached a distance plateau that Blake T. talks about at ~350ft. On the practice field I can concentrate on getting a snappier elbow release but on the course I just devolve back into the old motion that is a bit too much of a windmill. Also, I keep making subtle changes to my grip based on how I'm throwing each day; I need to find a nice consistent one that I can stick with.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Joe's Woes

I've moved from the Ferrari of oat cereals to the Cavalier and I'm jonesing for the good stuff.

Let me explain.

I'm a big time cereal eater. Love the stuff. Eat it for breakfast almost every day and usually for lunch too. Nothing like a big bowl of cereal with LOTS of cold milk (you people who like your cereal practically dry are heretics!). Through most of my life Cheerios have been a mainstay in the rotation; the core of my cereal diet if you will. Cheerios and I were happy. I moved to Raleigh however, and a young sexy thing in a hotter yellow box lured me away. Joe's O's became my new favorite, for both taste and price. Now my affair with Joe's has come to a forced end due to my moving away from Raleigh so I'm stuck with boring old Cheerios. They no longer taste as good nor have the right thickness nor the proper crunchiness.

Now that I'm no longer anywhere near a Trader Joe's I've fully been hit by how much I liked that quirky little grocery store. I still have some Soyaki socked away in the cupboard, but what is really giving me the parting blues is no more Joe's O's.

Week 13 - 100in1001

Another slow week, mostly due to an absurd amount of disc golf and procrastinating on several job related items. The biggest news is the completion of the Harry Potter series. Despite their considerable length towards the end of the series I think I made pretty good time, at least for my reading pace. I can't hold a candle to say, Kate, but hey I do what I can.

The books felt pretty epic and reaching the end was bittersweet. Rowling created a delightfully quirky universe hidden beside our own that probably makes it more approachable to people resistant to fantasy literature. Though a bit predictable, I think she brought things together well for the end and didn't spell too much out while also not leaving anything important dangling. My only real disappointment was the final showdown where Potter faces off with Voldemort felt a bit anticlimactic, but battle scenes haven't Rowling's forte throughout the entire series really. The characters were the most important part and she gave them a lot of depth, especially for a kids book, tied to a fairly complex plot. Now to await the drawn out releases of the last few movies....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Week 12 - 100in1001

Well this week was the big move back home to KY. I'll be going back to the Triangle to teach at Duke in June and July, but I needed to get all my stuff out of the apartment so here I am. Spent most of the week disc golfing and packing things so not a whole lot of progress really.

My main concern at this point is some of the items have become outdated or unreasonable or some other excuse. I may continue graduate school (immediately or in the future), but until that time some of the list items just don't make sense. There is also so much reading that it is probably insurmountable in the time frame. I think I will go through the list soon and pare down some items. I'm still not up to an actual 100 things so I'm going to have to think hard about some things to add! One thing I'm putting on now is being able to jump rope for ten minutes straight. I remember my Uncle Mike telling me about how he took on this challenge when he was younger due to some fitness expert saying it's a measure of being in really good shape. Mike said it definitely is hard and it took him some time to build up. I figure this is a great addition to my pilates and 100 push-ups so up it goes!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great Day for Nature

On my way back from the recycling center, where I had dropped off 4 (count them 4!) phone books, I decided to stop at Yates Mill. For those not in Raleigh, it's simply an old mill on Yates Mill Pond that has been preserved and has a walking trail around the lake. Now that I've been there I can say it's a great way to spend an hour walking around and enjoying the out of doors. The thing that was particularly great about this stop was that my brain decided, for some odd reason, I should turn around as I was crossing the stream by the mill. As I turned I caught sight of a small turtle in the stream. This isn't too remarkable in and of itself but it was eating a crayfish (or crawfish or crawdad if you're from the south), and doing so rather viciously. I was completely fascinated watching this turtle eat its meal. I have never seen a turtle eat anything other than boring old vegetation. Much like a dog, it would hold its quarry out with its legs and then rip with its teeth. The neat thing about how it works is the turtle uses its retractable neck to do more of a straight pull than a dog, who is limited to sort of a sideways rip. Very cool. To the right is a not-so-great picture taken with my lame camera phone. It's low res so a little hard to make out but that's all I could do lacking a camera. The turtle is in the center and the crayfish is the white stuff around it.



The other sight for today occurred while I was out at Middle Creek playing disc golf. Coming up to the 16th tee I spotted a cardinal which had the most brilliant red I've seen on one. It was very deep, rich, and dark but at the same time extremely bright and radiant. It's very hard to explain, just trust me, seeing a plain old cardinal is not something I'd think is noteworthy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Week 11 - 100in1001

Okay I'm a day late but yet again not a whole lot to say. I've been playing so much disc golf I developed and popped quite a large blister right on the index finger where the disc rips from your hand. I also ordered a few new discs that I can't wait to give a try. Also have been pounding through Tales of Symphonia. It is one MASSIVE game, I think I'm about 1/3 of the way through (if that) and I'm somewhere around 30 hours played already. This is like Neverwinter Nights all over again!

Getting ready to pack up and leave Raleigh to head back to old Cincinnati-town... only to return to the Triangle again in June to teach at Duke. Moving is such a hassle, but it's great to clean out even more stuff than my "great purge" of earlier this year. Sending a bunch of old towels to the animal shelter and clothes to Goodwill too.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cell phone hacks

I just saw this wonderful article at Lifehacker and I really like these tips. The article is aimed at Sprint customers but I'm sure Verizon, ATT, and others have similar options. It mentions using your setting to turn off caller information (so you don't have to wait for it to say date, phone numer, etc. of the person who called before each voicemail) and to enable expert mode (cuts down the bot chatter to more concise speaking of menu entries).

The most important, which everyone should do, is disabling numeric paging. I had no idea this could be done and it's really annoying when I'm getting ready to leave someone a voicemail and have the bot ask me if I want to leave a numeric page. No. No one does. Ever. Let's all take this off our accounts and make the world a happier place.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week 10 - 100in1001

Another week of "not much." Did the gym, exercise, and disc golf as I should and have part of a crossword waiting to be finished. One of my disc golf rounds was played with Dave "Peanut" Brittle, who is apparently a pro and was, at one time, very highly ranked. He beat me by 3 or 4 strokes playing from the white tees, so I think I held my own fairly well. I'm still trying to get the hang of varying throw strength. I also played a lot of Tales of Symphonia this week, so I guess that counts as progress on getting all of my currently owned games finished.

I forgot to mention that last week I finished Order of the Phoenix and this week I sprinted through the Half-Blood Prince, so the Harry Potter series is nearly at an end, which is sad. I went to get the paperback of Deathly Hallows today and I couldn't believe that there still isn't a paperback out yet. Supposed to be coming out this June, roughly two years from the hardcover release, which I think is a bit excessive, especially since the British paperback has already been available for a year. Well I'm sticking it to the publisher for such outrageous policies: I bought a used copy off Amazon Marketplace.

The other important happening this week is that I made the decision that I won't continue through with the PhD at NCSU (I received a Masters this past December). It's been bouncing around the old brain for a while and, as I began seriously considering it, it seems the right thing to do. I'm going to apply to U of Cincinnati and try to enter their Mathematics PhD program and return to cryptology. If that doesn't work out I'll be on the job market! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fox News makes bold, BOLD predictions!

10 Technologies About To Go Extinct

Make sure to note that there is an *about* in the middle of there and then read the list. Way to go Fox! Floppies are almost dead?! No ways! Typewriters?! Discmen (or is that Discmans?)!? Ack! This really only confirms their average viewer age is well over the hill. Yet another reason to not pay attention to Fox's news offerings...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Commercials: the last bastion of creativity

Okay, maybe the title is a bit of a stretch. But I must say new, quality TV shows and movies are getting extremely hard to come by; studios won't take risks, movies are heavily biased towards established franchises, and TV shows follow the same old formulas (he solves crimes but he's a MENTALIST and can make up stuff no one could really do!). Yes yes, I realize shows are often more about the characters but there still has to be something interesting for those characters to actually do. Independent and foreign films do still show the quirks and sparks that I appreciate, but I'm talking mainstream here.

As my Grandpa Leroy so often pointed out, commercials are one of the few things left watching on TV. I was sitting the other night admiring yet another AT&T Wireless commercial looking for the "signal bars" they have hidden in nearly every scene. When they, as Cingular, started this a long time ago they were explicit about pointing out the bars but now they are there just as a sort of Easter egg for those wanting to look for them. Though they do not spend a lot of time, effort, or money on that the thought is appreciated, and many of the below ones did incur significant costs in those categories. I've compiled a list of some of the better commercials I remember, there were a few I had vague recollections of but not enough to look them up so add your own in the comments.

Sony is usually a good source of commercials, even though I try to avoid their products (stop being so stubbornly proprietary!):
Superballs in the streets
Bunnies in the streets

Honda is another quality contributor:
Accords
Choir
Grooves

Toyota has a creepy and fun one all at the same time:
Human Touch

HP "Out of the Picture" series:
Out of the Picture

Dove:
Evolution of Beauty

Axe is consistently good too, but this one takes the cake:
Beach

AkBank

Miller

And finally I think Apple's "I'm a Mac/PC" ads deserve a mention. Very funny and they are a stroke of brilliance. However, these do not entirely make up for the misery contained in their other commercials of recent years.

It's official: GM is toast

I'm sure everyone has seen the new GM advertising campaign by now. The smiling average Americans doing American things and everything is just peachy. The sun is shining and people are just happy to be alive. They are wearing their rally caps and washing their GM cars that they love so much that they bought to support "the team."

Please.

Simple fact is GM has fallen behind the curve and is not making products anyone wants to buy right now. And I have to hope and pray that people aren't going to fall for this lame Hail Mary at trying to save their business. It's simple GM: simplify your brands, simplify your offerings, offer a la cart add-ons instead of lame packages, raise quality, and make the cars people want rather than what has the highest profit margins. You had an amazing opportunity years back with Saturn and you blew it. You never learned your lesson and you're going to pay for it now. Consumers aren't going to buy your product to be patriotic.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week 9 - 100in1001

Much like several of my entries not much new this week. I was able to update my list a bit by making it look better on my website and doing some restructuring. I created a new "Talents or Hobbies" section, moved several items there, and wrote in a few more like completing a Rubik's Cube. I had intended to get to the gym this past Saturday to get in my exercise item but it was closed all weekend due to Easter. I also didn't have a meeting with my advisor (I now have the Gabor filter finished so I actually did want to see him, darn) so I did not have a chance to pick up a Technician to do the crossword. So I'm going to chalk these up as "not my fault" and take off the total tally for each of these rather than not getting a point in progress.

Most of my week was taken up by my friend Sarah visiting. We had a good time and hit the science museum, WRAL's Azalea gardens, and Umstead for a hike. We had intended to go to a play (another list item!) but no one really had anything showing in the middle of the week while she was in town. I actually kind of regret she didn't have a bit more time where we could have done a few more things, like hit a Durham Bulls game, check out the art museum, and visit the Flying Saucer. Oh well, I guess there's only so much one can do in two days.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Week 8 Addendum

I forgot to add that yesterday was quite a day for finding lost items. At Cornwallis I found a nice multi-tool pocket knife on the road close to my car. It may have been the guy's who was parked behind me, but I couldn't be sure and I didn't want to leave it sit somewhere where either 1) a car could run over it (it has a corkscrew) or 2) someone else would just take it. It's not particularly amazing and isn't branded so it couldn't be worth too much... I hope. The second item was found on a stump seat on the course at Valley Springs. It is a microfiber cloth that was laid out over the top of the stump like a guy had used it to dry his discs while waiting to tee off. I assume it is from someone in the tournament and odds are they were not going back for it so I do not feel as bad about this one since it probably would have blown off the stump and deeper into the woods by the storm today and never been found again. What makes it kind of interesting is it has a patch that marks it coming from Calapooia Brewing, which I've found is in Albany, OR, and it apparently came from Festivus Six. This fact made me quite excited. Festivus for the rest of us!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week 8 - 100in1001

Not anything big on this update because mostly what I did was incremental. I've made it back to the gym--as my sore muscles can tell you--so hopefully I can keep that up now. Pilates and yoga are definitely good workouts but I think the gym is needed to supplement.

Got in some quality disc golf rounds, especially today (hit Cornwallis and Valley Springs up in Durham). I thought I was starting to develop some consistency but my round at VS was not overly impressive; my short game saved my poor drives. I had meant to do my bike tune-up item today but I was in Durham longer than expected. I originally set out just to play VS but when I got there it was the tail end of a tournament so I went and played Cornwallis to bide some time until VS was reopened to the public.

Still working on learning Drifting for guitar but am making progress. I also wrote a nice little D-C-G pick/strum combination that I can probably put into my future song for the list. Finally got back on the video game horse by getting back into Tales of Symphonia. It had been so long I had almost forgotten what I was doing. The story is motivating but the combat is still a drag. Finally, Travis and I had some time to look at hiking routes and it looks like we'll be doing the Art Loeb and some surrounding hikes, which will mark off yet another list item in May! My long ago sprained ankle is almost back to fighting condition so I think I'll be able to take up racquetball with Jon again, let's hope I don't sprain it again on my first outing.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It's Officially Spring!

Ahhh yes, it's Spring time again. Don't I listen to the groundhogs and official seasons? No, I pay attention to other things. It's warm, the sun is out, people are wearing shorts, the grass is growing at an obnoxiously fast rate. Most importantly, however, my car is covered daily in a fine yellow powder: tree pollen. There is no winning battles against this menace and there is absolutely no hope of winning the war. No matter how nice your car looks one day, it'll look like complete garbage the next. See for yourself... these pictures were after one day of pollen accumulation.

(click pictures for more detail, hard to tell this small)

I was walking around outside yesterday and could literally see the pollen blowing around in the wind, almost like a poisonous gas coming to get me. It's only a matter of time before a The Happening-like event occurs, mark my words! Shyamalan wasn't making his first R rated movie, it was a futurementary (a documentary based on future events)! The trees have obviously nearly perfected the distribution system now, next up is the make-us-go-crazy component. Maybe they are just tired of Cary tearing their brethren down for boring, homogeneous shopping areas and housing developments...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April First Update

Well I pondered doing an April Fool's joke but, considering my readership is probably one (myself) I didn't want to spend the time crafting the perfect joke. I will however pass on a nice, legitimate bit of math and nerd humor. Check out PC-BSD and notice--besides being an alternative OS you should try out instead of Windows or Mac--what the new v7 is being called. That's right, the Fibonacci Edition. The only problem is 7 isn't a Fibonacci number. Math fail!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week 7 - 100in1001

In the education category I went ahead and marked off the visual perception textbooks. Though I didn't read them in whole I got what I needed out of them and turned them back into Ben. I also gave a crossword a go but was not able to complete it, this one was from the LA Times and was unusually tough.

For technology I posted a small C++ project for converting colorspaces to serve as the small open source project. It works with RGB, HSV, and HSL and can be found here. I wrote it a while ago for RGB<->HSV but never got around to cleaning up the code and posting. I did so and added RGB<->HSL while I was at it. It's a fairly simple set of functions and I think is better than some of the other code out there for this in C++.

I have not been making much headway on the "pile o' magazines" objective because I'm really just treading water with trying to first get through recently arrived ones (especially with all these out of town trips I've taken). I'll get there one day. As usual making good progress on Order of the Phoenix.

Getting much better at getting some yoga in every day, though it's somewhat cheating because it's mostly been just Sun Salutation warm up sets in the morning. Still not getting to the gym much though. New recipe for March was a broccoli-chicken-cheese-rice slow cooker recipe that was quite tasty.

Lastly I have been hitting Drifting on the guitar quite hard and it's been easier than I thought it would be. Watching McKee play it is awe inspiring, hopefully I can get there at some point. My right hand fingers are getting rather sore from all the hammers they are having to do. Today as I was tuning back to standard after practicing my high E string broke so bad news there. I have a spare set of Elixir lights, I think these will actually make playing Drifting easier but it won't sound nearly as deep and complex. Oh well.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What an Elite Eight

It seems like NCAA basketball has gotten a lot less exciting these last couple of years. I used to wait for March with anticipation and then stay up until all hours of the night watching all the games I could. Monitoring the scores in the top corner while my heart raced over how terrible my bracket was soon to look. Those were the good old days: Cinderellas screwing up my picks, unexpected heroes like Gonzaga going deep into the tournament.

But all that seems a distant memory. It is so bad that I haven't really watched much of the games at all this year. I didn't approach the tournament with excitement and it can no longer be called March Madness because it doesn't even finish in March! I scan the Elite Eight and we have all 1, 2, and 3 seeds. How boring. Last year all the Final Four teams were #1 seeds. In the last three of four tournaments the championship game was two #1 seeds. This year is the first time ever that all 12 of the 1, 2, and 3 seeds made it to the Sweet Sixteen. George Mason's run and a No-#1 Final Four in 2006 seems to be the outlier in recent NCAA history. I'm not sure what the reason for this thinning of the heard is, but whatever it is it's a shame. March Madness is just the March Mundane these days.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Week 6 - 100in1001

Other than the usual incremental updates not much happened this past week.

Oh wait, I visited Kate and Katie in Nashville! Woohoo! Good to see those two again, shame I don't see them more often. Visited Gruhn Guitar for the second time and it is definitely impressive, along with the Gibson factory store. Good places to check out some truly unique stuff. I had half a mind to buy a mandolin while I was in town but everything those places sell are way out of my price range. Several good disc golf courses in town, Cedar Hill being the best of the ones I got to. The downtown area along the river is cool and had a couple of good meals at McCabe's and Big River. Had one awesome waiter at Big River, he sounded like he should be on a cheesy Top 40 radio station and announcing contests. I forget the name of it, but one thing is we ate popsicles at this "gourmet" popsicle stand on the way back from the Crockett Park disc golf outing. Definitely the best picture taken and describes how the trip went. That is Kate happy and enthusiastic, Katie being exacting in form and function, and me doing who knows what to provide the comic relief.


Saw the Parthenon... whose idea was it to build this thing? It's got a great (and busy) park around it for people to enjoy and the building serves as the art museum. I still can't get over the fact they chose the Parthenon and I'm not sure I buy Nashville is the "Athens of the South" as the reasoning. I'm declaring Raleigh the "Rome of the South". Why? Because I said so and it has nice alliteration! In any case it is nice to check out if you're in the city.

My only regret is not making it to any bluegrass music or the Grand Ole Opry (how about some affordable ticket prices people?!). Overall a successful trip!

In addition I finished Goblet of Fire while there and have set into Order of the Phoenix. I resisted reading these books and watching the movies until I saw Goblet of Fire when mom happened to rent it and since then I've overcome my skepticism--"it's just a kid at a British school... boring!"--and have really enjoyed the universe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

US Automakers Still Clueless

GM to cut prices to lure back US buyers

I read the headline and I had such hope. After years of inferior products at high prices the automakers are getting it: raise your quality to the standard set by the Japanese makers and simplify your pricing. But no, these price cuts are in the form of "discounts and other promotions."

Ever since I had awareness of cars and car prices, the US makers have been pushing rebates and similar discounts; "Employee pricing" has also been a popular one in recent years. I think these are an antiquated way of tricking people into thinking they are getting a deal--as are many sales and discounts. "Hey look, they're giving me $10K off, what a deal! I HAVE TO BUY IT NOW!!!" Consumers today are much more informed thanks to websites that allow for car comparisons, resale value history, etc. etc.. A customer these days can easily use all the information out there to see what price a car is worth, not what the sticker price claims it to be. Really, we should feel insulted by these tactics.

The better way, by far, would simply to offer lower prices. There would be a small segment of people that would miss the haggling and (falsely) thinking they pulled one over on the dealer. However, everyone else would enjoy the simpler process, especially those not interested in messing with car salesmen to get a "deal" on a car that should be priced that way to begin with. It is obvious you need to try something new Detroit, you've been failing for a while now. Take some ideas that other industries and companies have come up with: simplify your line, offer quality products, and make it easy for the customer to buy your products.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Push up tip: Save your wrists!

I started the 100 push ups challenge and so far it's been, well, a challenge. I've had to repeat week 2 twice now because the first time week 3 was just too hard. Note that I decided not to re-evaluate myself at the week 3 mark as they suggest, I decided to stay in column 2. After my second week 2 I had to mostly take a week off because my wrists were hurting.

The traditional push up is not the greatest thing for your wrists so I personally would not recommend doing too many of them at a time. An alternative is knuckle push ups, but I find these uncomfortable also. I scoured the internets and many people recommend "push up bars" to ease the wrist strain. They mostly end up being bars or rungs that sit on the floor for you to grip. They end up looking sort of like the bars on a pommel horse, if you replace the pommel with the floor. To continue with this visual, you'd then lay between the bars with the bars on each side of your shoulders. Then it is as simple as gripping the bars instead of placing your hands on the floor and doing a push up like normal. The result is the pressure and weight are still on your palms but no longer are your wrists at a poor angle.

As far as what kind, you can find plenty of options at a brick-and-mortar store or somewhere online like Amazon (I think I saw some for $15 there). I have a better option though. I realized a pair of dumbbells can accomplish the same task, while also giving you a pair of weights to use with other exercises. I ended up using a set of 12lb dumbbells that I already had and they work great. Any dumbbells can be used as long as the weighted ends are large enough to raise the bar high enough to allow your fingers to comfortably slide under.

With the above solution I'm back at it and really enjoying the challenge. I'd highly recommend taking it on yourself! Just make sure you have your set of dumbbells ready...

100 in 1001 update

I started this blog partly to keep track of my progress and thoughts on my 100 things in 1001 days list. So far I've been making decent progress.

Education/Learning, Tech, Art, Entertainment: Almost nothing here.

School: Haven't really hit the "normal work schedule" thing, but that's for various reasons. This should iron itself out--one way or another--by the end of this semester.

Reading: Doing good on Harry Potter but really need to set myself to task on the magazines. Barely staying ahead of the Newsweek-each-week curve (thank goodness US News is no longer weekly... how did I do both before?).

Exercise: Yoga every day hasn't quite been happening but I've been good about sticking to Pilates and 100 Push ups three times a week. Also need to get to the gym more.

Music: Making decent progress on learning Drifting by Andy McKee. I think a grand orchestra guitar is really needed to give all those hammer-ons enough sound. My Ibanez seems to have a semi-dead note on the G string 6th fret, which is unfortunately a frequent note in Drifting. The Martin is a bit harder to play this song due to its higher action.

Organize/Home: I have my room mostly where I want it by now as far as organizing and cleaning. This will further improve with the addition of bookshelves. All pictures now on the walls so room looks even better than before. Clothes have gotten the once over also and have a box of clothes ready for charity.

Travel: Off to Kate and Katie's this coming weekend, yay!

Misc: Obviously got the blog in full gear!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Dawn

This is going to be my first "blog" entry, though I loathe to use that name. While blog, blogosphere, etc. terminology has become commonplace on the internet and even in other media, it still maintains a certain stench that my nostrils have yet tolerate. Why? Blogs are mostly garbage, simple as that.

So how is this any different? I have no idea really, I like to think I'm a bit above at least some of the riffraff and this will *not* be a diary of any sort. I'm hoping to provide insightful and concise comments from my perspective on a variety of topics and give people some info on my whereabouts and what I'm up to these days. I'm not writing about any specific topics, just whatever comes to mind in my observance of news, pop culture, etc.. It is a fine line between eclectic and rambling so I'll do my best to stay concise and focused.

What's my street cred? I'm of the Millenial generation, one of those hot up-and-comers in the world. We've also been collectively called Generation Y (very creative!), the Net Generation (snooze), Echo Boomers (ugh), and iGeneration (this i-in-front-of-everything trend makes me angry), and Trophy Kids. This last comes from the observance that we've mostly been coddled, told we're special, and everyone gets a "you did your best trophy" for everything. Other negative attributes include rampant consumerism, poor English skills due to IM and texting, and a serious sense of entitlement. I wouldn't dump myself into any of those bins, and I doubt that anyone that really knows me would either. I'm young while at the same time not partaking in everything boxed or technological just for the sake of doing it. I'm a graduate student in computer science, have a Midwestern-ish background, currently live in the new South, and all kinds of other interesting stuff that should provide plenty of perspective and insight. Enjoy!