Thursday, July 29, 2004

New Shoes

I finally got new running shoes, and so was able to go hit the treadmill today. The shoes definetly made a bigger difference than I thought they would. I expected not to really notice a difference, but to have better long term effects on my legs (which based on todays run are pretty much completely healed). Instead I had a great deal of comfort in just my standard running. My heals were very comfortable cushioned as I ran, and I think that this is going to be a big help.

The two weeks off did hurt my stamina a bit though. I didn't want to push myself too hard for the first day back, so I backed off on my pacing and wasn't able to run as far as I had hoped. I managed to get my 4 miles of running though so I'm pretty happy with my exercise today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Like when we used to climb the rope in gym class

So in the last few weeks I've started to notice that the time I've spent in the climbing gym has started to really help my arm strength. I've been doing pull-ups in the morning, and at about the time I was able to do 5 in a row, I started thinking back to high school where my gym teacher said that when you were able to do 10 pull ups in a row you should be able to climb the rope without your legs. This got me thinking about how and where I could find a rope to test the theory with.

I wandered to Home Depot to see if they sold the appropriate rope (I have a place in mind at home where I could install a climbing rope) but what I remember from high school was a good deal thicker than their largest ropes. Maybe I'm just remembering incorrectly, or from a smaller size, but I also didn't see any tensile strength ratings on the ropes at Home Depot, so I put off the idea of building it myself for a little while.

Then I started taking care of Rich's house and he has a couple of rope swings in his backyward. I thought 'what the hell' and tried to climb one of them. Surprisingly I was actually able to make progress. I have never been able to make any semblance of upward progress before, so I was quite excited. And after a few times of trying I was able to get the motions right, and can now climb up the 10 - 15 feet of rope that he has.

It feels very good to be able to make the vertical progress with only my arms, and I'm definetly going to ask the guys at Home Depot about some tensile strengths.

The Caretaker

So I'm housesitting for my friend Rich. That's at least how I word it to you unknown teeming masses on the internet. To those of you who know me enough to realize that I wouldn't do this to maintain employement I would say that I'm housesitting for my C.E.O. And I'm being paid by having free reign over his liquor cabinet.

Rich lives up in the hills of San Carlos, so it's an easy drive for me to get between his place and mine which is nice. (I can easily move DVDs and books between the two locations). And the place brings a nostaligic feeling to me. I'm not entirely sure whether it's the backwoods feeling reminding me of the small town in which I grew. Or if it's the house in the hills feeling that reminds me of some of the places I've been to in L.A. Or it might just be a quiet outdoors thing.

Regardless it's a nice place to sit outside at dusk and watch the sunlight on the trees and listen to the crickets.

Anyway I've been living it up by myself in his house. And while it's a good place to sit and relax, or watch a DVD, it's a large home and I feel a little like the caretaker from The Shining. Not in a crazy homicidal way of course. A not in an all that lonely sort of way, as I get to see people during the day. But, since I am acting as caretaker, and there's more space than I could possibly use by myself it makes for an interresting feeling.

No beer and no T.V. make Keith ... something ... something ... :)

Thursday, July 22, 2004


I've been thinking a lot about scalability. Over the last few years in the computer industry of course the issue has come up at work. And I think that I've gotten pretty good at recognizing and addressing the needs that it brings up. The thing is I've started to think about these sorts of issues on a wider scale than just programming.

The way I see scalability now is more of a set of complexities that you deliberately add to a system. Usually you don't want more complexity. It makes problems harder to debug, makes the code harder to maintain and explain to others, and just gives you an icky feeling if you've been trained as a computer scientist who likes neat "all edge cases included" solutions. The thing is, that the complexities you add are to address the real world "greys" of life (I'll need to write something on that later, but now is not the time.

You do things like design a complex way of separating the problem to allow it to be run on multiple computers simultaneously, or to not be entirely resident in RAM. Or you do things like add tracking numbers where a naive programmer wouldn't see the need and would figure they just waste bandwidth in a data stream. But again these complexities are specifically because naive solutions, while nice when written in papers, don't cut it when you actually have to build a system.

Anyway this has been on my mind with my shin splints.

"How?" you might ask. Well the thing is part of the problem was a lack of scalability in my running shoes. While I probably did push myself too hard, I think that a contributing factor to my injury was the $20 pair of sneakers I bought at Target. Now I didn't buy them for running, it was just that I needed a cheap pair of sneakers. But since that was all I had when I decided to start using a treadmill, I couldn't think of a reason for them to be any different than any other pair. I mean, really. What good would a little extra cushioning do anyway? You can hardly notice the effect.

Well it turns out you can notice the affect after weeks of running several miles every day. And I've started to notice other things around where you hardly notice the affect, and doubt the usefulness of some given add-on, and yet after a lot of use it makes a difference. It's the exact same affect as scalability concerns in programmingand yet for some reason I missed the logical connection.

To move a mountain, sometimes you need to move one pebble at a time. If you do, you need to have faith that the little bit you do per unit time adds up in the long run.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Puzzle solving

It's been a while since I've done any really abstract puzzle solving, so I'm glad that I took some time with an IQ test last night that Denny blogged about. (You can find it here). It stretched parts of my brain that haven't had exercise for quite a while which was a lot of fun. And I was pretty impressed with the format they used. In an attempt to remove out social, racial and literary differences among those who took the test, it was done strictly through visual pattern matching. Of course this isn't perfect, and there are a number of points through it where familiarity with the methods of the testers certainly can be advantageous. (Mostly in what they consider a 'pattern') Overall though lots of fun.

I feel the need...

The need for expiditious velocity. Or at least the need to exercises. Since I haven't been running, I've actually started to need to go out and do something active. As a result I went to the gym yesterday to go do some bouldering. It was so good because there were a couple of bouldering classes going on, so it was reinforced in me that I still need to learn a lot of technique. On the other hand, a couple of the problems also helped reinforce that I've come a fair way with technique and strength in the last few months. Some of the underhangs aren't as hard as they used to be, and some of the times on the climbs I get that good "I'm doing this right" feeling as I do the work with the correct muscle groups.

Still, it will be good to get back to doing some aerobic exercies on a daily basis.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

As Andrew says:

I spend a good deal of quality time in the sun this weekend. I set up a nice place to sit and read in the back yard, and finished up Dracula this weekend. (I'm not sure whether I think the sitting in the sun, reading a vampire story is a good mix or a bad, but it certainly feels like there's some symbolism there) The thing is that I thought that since my arms were tanned nicely (at least below my t-shirt line) and my legs were tanning, I didn't really nead sunscreen on them. I was very wrong, though the burn I received was nothing like the burns I got as a kid when I just couldn't go in the sun between 10 and 4. Sunscreen or no.

Even with my slowly improving resistance to sunlight, I'm not invincible. Yet.

Leg Update

Turns out that the problem with my legs is/was shin splints. I remember my mom talking to me about them when I was like 10, and in the context of having run for 5 minutes straight as a kid. Because of that I had dismissed the idea that something as serious as what I was going through would be the same cause. Little did I know that I had underestimated shin splints.

So I've taken a week off from running, and my leg is doing much better. It feels like I'll be able to start up again (albeit with much less impact) by the end of the week. Regardless I went climbing with Pat again on friday, though this time at Planet Granite. It was good to climb there again (I haven't in a few weeks). And there are now a bunch of new routes to try. Including this 5.8+ climb with "big reaches". And they weren'y kidding. I didn't make it, and in order for Pat to he literally had to jump for a few of the holds. It was very impressive.

A week with no updates...

And apparently I was starting to worry people. Well worry no longer because here I am, alive and well, to keep you up to date on my happenings. It's good to know y'all cared.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Youth, Friends and Exercise

So let's start at the top. This weekend I was twice flattered about my age. The checkout lady at the supermarket called my "Young Man" and "Son" and it made me feel very nice. I wasn't sure if it was just her perspective (though I wouldn't put her age past high 40s) or if she was just being polite, though I hadn't gotten those names prior to shaving.

But then, when I went to hang out with Bruce, etc. in Santa Cruz we went out to a restaurant for some dinner and beers, and when the waitress brought the pitchers out she asked me to confirm that I was over 21. That hasn't happened since long before I was 21.

I definetly like being seen so young, though there's a bitter-sweetness to it, since it means that I've crossed to the age where I am flattered by being called a lower age, rather than a higher one.

Friday, July 09, 2004

DrinkClub with Kevin

So Kevin and I went out to Drink Club last night. It was good to go out and feel guilty about not talking to women. I keep thinking that if I do that enough, eventually I'll build up the courage to do it on my own...But Wen is out of town (visiting his fiance in Singapore) so I'm very glad that I brought Kevin along to hang out.

And we also checked out the Baghdad Cafe in the Castro after clubbing. It's a 24 hour deli type place, and had pretty decent food. But it was a real experience to be in the Castro at 3a.m. It was a very flamboyant crowd, and was definetly a little different.

And speaking of flamboyant, one of Kevin's neighbors was a real asshole about my parking in his driveway for 5 minutes. He gave me the whole "what make you think you have the right..." delivery which pissed me off greatly. I mean I know I was in the wrong, and as a result felt a little guilty, but it was amazing how quickly the guilt burned off and was replaced by rage when he started to hassle me about it. And he wouldn't event take an apology he just kept bugging me.

It's been a while since I really wanted to hit a guy, and really annoys me that it came up over something where I'ld be pretty pissed off if the cituation were reversed. But I've already check that one off of the list so I'll just let it go

No coconut bra's yet

So as it turns out neither Cynthia nor I was able to win the bet set before us by Jason (and as it turns out neither of us could make the Hawaiian themed Earthquakes game) so we'll have to put off the coconut bra bet for a little while. It'll probably be resurected as we approach the luau at the end of the summer. I'm interrested to see what Dr. Cyn can do to come up with a soy pig for the vegetarian part of the luau.

Since it wouldn't have paid off, I think I'm very glad I didn't commit any felonies in the pursuit of that bet.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

That kid's got balls

I love this article. I'm glad that there are kids out there that not only enjoy pointing out the Bush's stupidity, but also enjoy pointing out the irony of legislators and governors requiring standardized tests that they themselves wouldn't be able to pass.

A little hint to the the legislators out there...Standardized testings is not the way to improve our educational system. Finding and training qualified people to help our kids learn is going to do a lot more good than whether or not you can say that the average on some arbitrary (and biased) test went up because you kicked kids out of school.

I know that this means that you don't have numbers then to show that you are "good on education" to the voters, but I think that just means that we need a more educated voting population in the first place.

You know you go to Blockbuster a lot when...

the staff comes up to you and asks "You know that movie where...?" That actually happened tonight. I did rent about 20 movies this weekend (it's the 4th of July weekend. I had lot's of time) and the guys at blockbuster are really starting to recognize me. So one of the staff asked if I knew the movie where a bunch of guys go to Las Vegas for a bachelor's party and end up killing a hooker and burying her in the desert. Of course I remember it but can remember no proper nouns to help identify it. So we spent the next 15 minutes combing the store looking for it (apparently he had spent considerable time prior looking for it as well), before I end up sequentially going through the comedy section and eventually stumble across "Very Bad Things". After a brief congratulatory (and manly) hug he assures me that he'll have the only copy back tomorrow so I can rent it then.

I must try my best to remember it tomorrow...

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Celebrate the independance of your nation by blowing up a piece of it

Well after the last few days of being pretty lonely (what with Andrew and Lexi out of town, and being dumped) I was getting all set to celebrate the 4th of July alone. I figured that I would go up on the roof this year and watch the Foster City and Redwood City shows (and some of the people in the area who have illegal fireworks) like the other two 4ths I've spent in San Carlos even if I was going to be alone this year. So I went and bought a cigar (I'm trying to develop some skills at selecting cigars as I think that will be the next area of faux-snobbery I get into) so I went to the cigar shop on Laurel Street and had the guy pick me out something interresting (see the review below).

Well in all fairness I knew I wouldn't be alone since I was going to bring Ishy up on the roof with me. It was a bit of a chore to carry him up the ladder but I managed without him breaking skin anywhere so I was pretty happy. And once he got on the roof he seemed to enjoy himself well (and he knew better than to mess with the 20 foot drop so I didn't have to leash him to one of the vents up there).

The thing is that before it got too dark, Cathy (my neighbor) set off a firework in her yard, and I had fun watching it and calming Ishy with the noise. We talked a bit and she came up to watch the fireworks with me (and bring some of her personal stash up where nothing was flammable).

It was good to have someone to talk to up there tonight while we watched the fireworks go off. And it was good to talk with her for a while. I hadn't had much of a chance to do that in the last few weeks being out of town a lot for outdoorsy adventures. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, well what are you doing reading my blog, but you should check out the pictures anyway)

Now I'm off to watch the Will Smith Independence Day to finish off my July 4th.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

No more Bush

I finally put my money where my mouth was and gave some money to Kerry. Rob convinced me over the weekend that the little that I could afford to give could do good work, and he also gave me reasons to vote for him other than "We can't have Bush for 4 more years." That was certainly a good enough reason to vote for Kerry, but not necessarily to donate money.

Oh, and I've already noticed that I'm on the "sucker" list of donators. I'm being hit up for money by other sources now. It's amazing how fast that gets around.