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Archived Entries from June 2009


W4D3 Full Workout!

Well with the help of my re-acquired iPod, I finished a complete workout this morning. 1/4-mile run, 1/8-mile walk, 1/2-mile run, 1/4-mile walk, 1/4-mile run, 1/8-mile walk, 1/2-mile run. It felt GREAT.

It was great having the iPod because I think I spent more time listening and thinking about the music than thinking about my legs and hearing my huffing and puffing sounds. Fantastic.

I may do at least one, if not two, more week 4 work-outs before I graduate myself to week 5, which ends with a full two-mile run with no walking, and that scares me half to death.

Time for a shower and my morning breakfast ration of two hard-boiled eggs. Yum!

Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2009, 11:47 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Running in Soup

The last couple of running days (Sunday and today) have been awful. It's hot. The air is thick. It really does feel like running in soup. Or how I'd imagine running in soup to feel, I guess.

The run today was a little better than Sunday. I made the entire first half-mile without too much trouble. The quarter-mile that followed wasn't fun, and the final half-mile didn't happen. It was more of a quarter-mile run, eighth-mile walk, then run the last few houses until I got home. Oh well. Progress I guess. I'll just keep sticking with the week four workout until I can complete it and then I'll make the jump to week five and go from there.

So last summer I took Amtrak down to Carbondale to help my dad and my brother move some furniture. The one-way ticket was like $13 and I paid a little more to upgrade to "business class" which got me a bigger seat and my own power outlet.

Well, not being an experienced Amtrak rider I ended up in the cattle car with everyone else. I found a seat that had an outlet, so I just kept my mouth shut. Well the train took forever to get down there because it basically rents railroad tracks from Canadian National, and if there's a freight train coming, the Amtrak train has to pull onto a side rail and wait it out. I forgot to mention that the train was delayed three hours to begin with.

Then the air conditioning stopped working. And kids got hot and started crying. And by the time we finally made it to Carbondale the furniture had all been moved. Wonderful.

Well after getting back home (I stayed the night and then rode back in the rental van with my dad) I went to Amtrak's web site and politely, well, bitched.

Surprisingly, their customer service people called me at home. Apparently I was supposed to ask the train people to show me to the business upgrade car and not just go where they pointed me to go. They admitted that the a/c problem was their fault, and gave me the whole spiel about how they have to share tracks with the freight trains, etc., etc. (which I already knew). As it turns out, she told me that they'd send me a $30 certificate.

And that, at the time, seemed sort of useless. After debouching from the train in Carbondale I pretty much decided there was no need to ever take the damn train anywhere again (and there is a reason it's only thirteen bucks...).

So this certificate has been sitting in a pile of stuff on my desk. I looked at it a week or so ago and it expires at the end of August. And I had a thought...

The long and short of it is that the kids and I are taking the train up to Chicago the first week in August and going to see a Sox game with my dad. We're going to go up the day before so that if there are all sorts of delays we won't miss the game or anything, and we're coming home the day afterwards. It's "University and College Grand Slam Club Day" or something like that, so I got half-price tickets for all of us ($20 each, and we're sitting in lower box seats behind third base--sweet!).

And the point of all of this... I ordered the tickets on-line and when I got my confirmation e-mail I sort of chuckled because it said "Your tickets will be mailed to your billing address and delivered no later than 48 hours before the event in a plain unmarked white envelope."

Unmarked? Like secret? Like so that nobody will know what's in the envelope and possibly steal the tickets? You folks know that that's a federal offense, right? And that hopefully jail time will be a bigger deterrent to keep someone from stealing my half-price tickets to a baseball game.

So the tickets arrived yesterday. In a yellow, not white, envelope.

Check out what was in the address window:

I bet nobody would ever guess what's in that envelope. Not to mention the fact that they printed the address and stuff on a blank ticket. Surely that's not cheaper than a plain white shipping label. But what do I know?

(And no, I didn't fuzz out my address--anyone that is even slightly computer savvy can find my address by typing "whois nerdrium.com" at a shell prompt and find out my address--it's not like any of this is a huge secret...)

So we got the tickets. Nobody stole them out of the mail, thank goodness. Sheesh!

Well, I guess that's all for now. I sort of forgot about Green Thumb Sunday again this week. Whoops.

Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 3:08 pm
Mood: Fantastic | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


C25K

Well I finally started the "couch to 5k" plan this morning. Because I've already been running for a few months, I skipped forward to week 4 (out of 9 total). The first couple of weeks were lots of walking, and even week three only has people run 200 yards a couple of times and 400 yards once.

Week four has one walk a five-minute warm-up, run 1/4 mile, walk 1/8 mile, run 1/2 mile, walk 1/4 mile, run 1/4 mile, walk 1/8 mile, and finally run 1/2 mile. Using the "path" ruler function on Google Earth was immensely helpful in creating the path I used this morning.

I did okay. I stopped a few houses short of the first 1/2 mile that I had to do, and the second 1/2 mile I sort of cut in half. All in all, I still ran a lot in total. It felt good. My legs are sore right now.

I'll take tomorrow off, as directed (I could theoretically lift weights and "cross train" but we'll just stick with the running and resting method for now). Depending on how it goes on Sunday, I may re-do week 4 next week. That still gets me with finishing up the routine right before the Ag Days run, and everyone I've talked to at "Cool Running" seems to think that I'll have absolutely no problem running a 5k the first weekend in August.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Yeesh. Glad this week is over. It was sort of a bruiser.

Posted: Friday, June 19, 2009, 8:16 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


A New Hope

So the problem isn't so much that I'm out of weight and am sucktastic as much as it is that I just apparently don't know what I'm doing.

Running as far as I can every day of the week and hoping that week to week I can start increasing distance was probably a noble, though maybe not well thought out, idea.

I found a web site yesterday (and how stupid of me, of all people, to have not consulted the almighty Internet before doing anything) called Cool Running that has a plan specifically for people like me called the "Couch to 5k" plan.

I'm tempted to skip to week 4, but they warn of skipping ahead at all, so we'll chalk the last two plus months of not doing what I was supposed to be doing and start with the middle of week three, which gets me right to the end of week 9 on August 1st--D-Day.

And even after deciding I was going to do this, I was still going to break the rules and go running this morning, because I didn't sleep well.

Unfortunately for me it is pouring rain. (And of course it waited until I got dressed, got shoes on, and did all of my warm-ups and stretches before it started raining).

At least I got some sit-ups and push-ups in, I guess. And my legs are kind of sore, so maybe I do need to take it easy today.

Instead I made a couple of hard-boiled eggs, as usual, paid some bills, and ran to the store for food for Linus. I also cleaned up the kitchen and loaded and started the leaky dishwasher for hopefully the last time ever. I think rain or no rain I'll head to Lowe's today and pick up our new one.

And never, ever run the new one without anti-hard water stuff in it. Ever.

I had another quiz in my class yesterday. Timed--five questions in five minutes. I'm still batting a thousand, thankfully. It's all about picking the right word in the question and searching the PDF in question for that word. Heh.

Go White Sox!

Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 11:54 am
Mood: Hopeful | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Just Plain Awful

So I used Google Earth's "ruler" tool to map out a 1.5 mile route through the surrounding neighborhood, with an optional 0.5 mile add-on depending on how I felt at Landeck's/Knox's house. I made it 0.7 miles. Seriously?

Seventh-tenths of a mile at a time isn't going to cut it. (I did walk a block and caught my breath and then ran the last 0.25 miles home...).

This sucks. I should have just stayed home and drank beer instead of thinking I'm some big "runner" now.

Oh well.

Posted: Monday, June 15, 2009, 11:30 pm
Mood: Disappointed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Non-Green Thumb Sunday

It's a good thing I don't get paid to blog, because I've been awful at it lately, and have done very poorly with this "green thumb thing."

Too late to take pictures outside, so I took a couple of pictures of hydrangea flowers that my wife picked and put in a vase, but they came out fuzzy so I'm not posting them. Oh well.

Yesterday was awesome. My wife, and the geerow, and Aunt Molly, and Gwammo all went to Farmer's Market up in Champaign-Urbana (probably Urbana?) and then went to Tuscola for, well, I'm not sure why. It didn't matter. Alex and I hit the golf course.

It was a lot of fun. And that was just the beginning. After we got home I put the cart back on the charger and called Jeff to see if he was up for playing a round. So I went back out to the golf course (and shot well) and afterwards we came back home and swam. The pool is finally up to 80 degrees or so, which is about where it needs to be before I will get in it.

We had steaks for dinner and then played some Rock Band 2. It was a total hoot.

Today I felt bad about not running either this morning or yesterday, so Linus and I went for a nice long walk. We stopped and talked to Marc, who placed second in a fishing tournament yesterday and is chomping at the bit for night catfishing. I'm ready too. Then I we walked by Tony and Jodi's and stopped to talk to them for a bit.

After we got back home I thought "you know what..." and did my sit-ups, push-ups, stretches, and then went for a run anyway. And I ran longer than normal. I might be able to do this 5k thing after all. Who knows?

I'm not losing any weight, still. Actually, I shouldn't say that. I've stopped checking. I'm very obviously getting skinnier. My face is getting skinnier. My gut is going away. The "number" itself doesn't really matter, does it? The redhead can tell. So can the kids. And I can tell, so something must be happening.

I'm happy about it. I'm enjoying running. It's a nice routine. I need to map out the 5k route and start to see if I can run it in its entirety. Most of the yellow arrows from last year are still on the road and I have a pretty good idea of where and how the route goes. What I need to figure out is where it goes right after it leaves the park. It'd be fantastic if I could start regularly completing the 5k route before the actual race. I don't want to do this if I'm not sure that I can at least finish. Only a month and a half left to go.

But you know what? If I can't run the whole thing, I've still accomplished something. So we'll just keep going and see how it all plays out.

Summer school is going well. Two other students complained about the whole Apple vs. PC thing.

I know I promised the redhead not to get into that argument (it was, after all, just a point), but I chimed into the discussion and said "one *could* argue..." but admitted that I got it wrong as well and noted where it was listed in the Powerpoint slides that 1986 was the first "PC" virus even though the Apple was marketed originally as a "personal computer."

Well, the instructor actually got sort of, well, pissy. Something to the effect of "I've been using computers since 1976 and I've NEVER heard someone refer to something other than an IBM-compatible as a PC." He did, however, give everyone who answered that question a point. Which, of course, was never my intention--I don't care about the point. Grad school is pass-fail land--B or better is all I need and whether I get 100% or 80% doesn't affect ANYTHING.

But yeah, if we're splitting hairs, I still think that "personal computer" refers to more than just IBM-compatible machines.

Again, not a big deal. The class is fun and I'm not worried about whether or not I'll be able to achieve 80%.

What the hell am I going to do with myself win I finish up this Master's degree?

Hard to believe that tomorrow is Monday again already. Oh well.

Posted: Monday, June 15, 2009, 3:08 am
Mood: Fantastic | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


I Do Not Understand

I had intended, when thinking of this post 20 minutes ago, to have my title be "Running Sucks." But now I just don't get it.

I've been frustrated because I've been in a rut. 25 sit-ups, 15 push-ups, tucker crunch, hurdler's stretch, etc., then run around the block (sort of) and feel close to death afterwards.

I ran Saturday, but slept in Sunday and got up late yesterday (and was feeling really guilty yesterday afternoon because that was actually the first time I've missed two consecutive days since I started this whole silly running business).

So today I was up bright and early and did my exercises and stretches an headed out the door. And while walking down the street to my starting point of sorts, I was thinking of posting about how bad this running business has been and that I'm not running further than my six-tenths of a mile, and there's no way I'll be able to run 3.2 miles in two months.

I turned left onto Beech Lane and started running. I got to Hawthorne and things were okay. It was weird, because it normally starts feeling sucky when I'm about halfway down Hawthorne and today it didn't. I was thinking about writing about how I was a sprinter (heh) in high school and while I could run 200 yards, wait 30 seconds, run 200 yards, pretty much for hours on end, running over a half-mile at once wasn't in my nature (or training).

When I turned onto Cherry Lane I still wasn't breathing too badly, and I felt quite refreshed that I wasn't gasping for air. Then an odd thing happened. When I got up to the intersection with my street by Mr. Landeck's house and C. Knox's house (thanks Cole, for the whole "C. Knox" thing...) instead of turning left, running a few more paces, and then walking the rest of the way home, I turned right. Yep.

Went down to Birch, turned left, turned left on Henson and ran all the way down to Willow, turned left once more, and ran all the way to my "starting point" in front of Kurt and Cindy's house. I'm pretty sure that's well over a mile.

And I wasn't huffing and puffing at the end either. I walked the last few feet home and was all but normal when I got to our front door. Weird.

Should I not be running every day? What's the deal? When we were kids we had track practice six days a week. Yes, I realize that the phrase "when we were kids" started that last sentence.

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

Posted: Tuesday, June 09, 2009, 12:01 pm
Mood: Exhilarated | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Waiting

Well theoretically I have a golf date today, but one of my cohorts is the only one that apparently knows exactly when. So we wait.

It's been a pretty good weekend. I've done a lot of weeding and also started a compost barrel using an old plastic soap barrel from the car wash. I broke my jigsaw trying to cut a hole in the top of it (seriously?) and ended up having to use a RotoZip to finish the job. I rinsed out the remainder of the soap and then drilled a bunch of air holes, and now I'm good to go. Turn it every day and I'll have compost in a month (theoretically).

I finally started cleaning out in earnest behind the pool shed. I've struggled with what to do with the four old deck chairs whose fabric was all ripped (and the fabric is what supported those who sat in them, so all four are essentially completely unusable). The garbage company won't take them (without calling ahead and paying a fee) and going and getting a truck and driving 40 miles round trip to the closest recycling place that may or may not take them seemed to not be worth it either, money-wise or environmentally.

The solution? A grown man's best friend--a cordless sawzall. The garbage company gets iffy about extra stuff on the end of the driveway, but as long as I can get it into the big green tote that the company provides, they won't even know. So Alex and I drilled out all the stripped allen-head screws holding the two-piece chairs together, and then I took to them with the saw and cut them down to pieces that would fit in the garbage tote. I know that have an OCD-like quality about me, and those chairs (that can't be seen from anywhere in the yard unless you actually go look behind the pool house) have been a small spot on my compass--a bothersome figment lurking in the back of my brain. And now they're gone. And that makes a small tiny part of my consciousness a bit relieved.

The rest of the wood and lumber scraps back there I'll either take to the burn pile at the farm or maybe we'll just roast weenies with the kids one day this week or next weekend. Then I just need to get a trailer from the farm to get the fort thing over to Shannon and Darren's house for our friend Vanessa to have. She'll be so excited.

Then I can take the pile of rocks that is currently under the fort and spread them behind the pool house. The last step is to install a gutter on the back of the pool house and run the downspout to another plastic barrel to capture rainwater for the garden and flowers and such. Yeah, it sucks that I had to throw those chopped up chairs into a garbage dump, but at least I'll be taking advantage of the freed up space to reduce my footprint water-wise, if only a little. And who knows, maybe the garbage folks will pick out the metal and recycle it on their end.

My summer school class on viruses and worms is already lots of fun, even if I lost a point for the definition of a PC. Oh well.

I vacuumed the pool again this morning. It's finally starting to clear up, thank goodness. Alex just jumped in, actually.

Work is going great. It looks like we (and by we I mean me) are going to install VMWare ESXi on our main server at work and then do the virtualization on top of that. It'll be really cool. We don't have to have an OS installed for the VMWare to run on--it will essentially be its own small operating system. Anyway.

We fried more catfish last night. Quite tasty. I still have a bunch more that we need to cook, and Marc is already itching to go down and catch more. Kind of a good problem to have, I think.

Okay, Vandy, hurry up. I'm ready to golf...

Posted: Sunday, June 07, 2009, 8:43 pm
Mood: Relaxed | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Green Thumb Sunday

I actually found the time this weekend to take some pictures.

Here's our garden, which I finally dug up and planted last weekend. It might be August before we see any tomatoes or peppers, but at least I got them in the ground.


I also planted a few more pepper pots.


Only two of my three hydrangea starts survived, but I guess that's okay since I didn't expect any of them to do so. The two that did are even starting to put on new growth and one looks like it's even attempting to grow a flower. Of course, I found another oak tree out in the yard and we all know that I can't resist digging them up and seeing if I can get them to grow into trees, although we don't really have room for any more trees. Maybe the farm? Maybe I can talk the country club into planting it on the course?


When I re-did the mailboxes last year, I had to dig up a bunch of the irises that were surround the area, which is a good thing because they were so thick that none of them were blooming and I did a pretty good job of thinning them out. My reward:


Here's a shot of the all-out IPM-based war that I'm fighting on the back of the berm and in and around the compost heap. We have a somewhat frustrating invasion of Glechoma hederacea (creeping charlie) that is almost impossible to control by simply pulling it out of the ground (which just makes more!). I don't mind spot-treating weeds with RoundUp, but I'm not much for spraying it all over the place. The solution? Vinca minor. I transplanted a bunch of vinca vines over to the area underneath the pine trees and am going to let them sort it out. And theoretically, the vinca should win.


I think I pulled 4,317 weeds yesterday and still have more to do today. Ugh.

Posted: Sunday, June 07, 2009, 12:39 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Splitting Hairs

So this summer I'm taking my third graduate-level class. It's about computer viruses and worms and such. Fun!

Well I just took my first quiz that is due Sunday and got 9/10. I wasn't exactly sure how I got one wrong on an open book, open notes quiz, and unlike some classes, there was no immediate feedback showing which question I missed.

Being the pain in the neck that I am, I went through the lecture notes one more time to see if anything stood out.

And there it was.

(And the whole reason I'm blogging about this is to get it out of my system before I be "that student" and e-mail my instructor about a lousy point...).

"What year was the first PC virus created?" The options were 1982, and I think 1983, 1986, and some other year.

That's easy. Elk Cloner in 1982 was the first virus, written by 15-year old Rich Skrenta. It was a boot sector virus that infected Apple 2 floppy disks.

Then I found in his notes: "1986: First PC virus, Brain virus, for DOS."

Now wait just a cotton-pickin' minute.

I am well aware that the term "PC" has come to mean an IBM-clone/X86/Wintel machine (as opposed to a "Mac"), but what is "PC" short for? Personal Computer.

And, well, I was going to say "if I'm not mistaken" but that's silly because I *know* I'm not mistaken--the Apple 2 was a "personal computer." In fact, I'm pretty sure it was the FIRST "personal computer."

So I think that question is misleading at best. Sure, "PC" has come to mean the offspring of IBM personal computers, but if we're talking about viruses that are on personal computers as opposed to, oh, mainframe computers, then Apple 2s (and Macs, for that matter) are "personal computers."

It's one point. I'm not going to worry about it grade-wise. This class is going to be very fun and very informative and it's being taught by my favorite UIS instructor. And I have no worries at all that I'll do any worse than an A in the class.

But for the record: I'm right. So there. :)

Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009, 3:50 pm
Mood: Nerdy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


The End of the Nerdrium

Well, the "physical" embodiment of it , anyway. When I bought the flooring for the basement remodeling project I bought enough for the closet and floor of the Nerdrium as well.

The Nerdrium has been full of a lot of the crap that was in the closet that was removed. Lots of that has now been disposed of.

The redhead wants to make the fourth bedroom, well, a fourth bedroom again. And you know what? I kind of agree with her. Well, at the very least, I see her point and have agreed to her plan.

I have to tear out the "structure" anyway if I'm going to replace the floor. The Linux box, which hasn't worked correctly for a while (I think the primary IDE bus is messed up, but haven't tinkered with it too much) is off-line. When re-built, that can go out into my gardening house.

The almost-ten-years-old Quicksilver Macintosh is nearing the end of its life (take that PCs that are obsolete after three years) and, well, I have a plant. I wanted to run my future MAME cabinet with a Linux platform, but it is such a hassle and all of that is already built and complied for OS X, etc., etc., and part of what I wanted to do was have a centralized iTunes hub where I could stream music throughout the house, etc., etc. in addition to having an arcade machine. The fans are dying anyway, and I think that the Quicksilver will start a new life as the guts of our MAME cabinet. (And be networked, and still be the iTunes server, and be able to play music throughout the house, and in the back yard, and, and, and...)....

I already have the flooring. I'll use the desk structure thing to build what I need to have for my gardening shed.

It was fun while it lasted. It became the final resting place for junk, especially now that we removed the closet and remodeled the main basement room.

I have pictures to post of all of that, by the way.

The virtual Nerdium will live on, of course.

The gardening shed will become "Nerdrium II." I'll have a lone Linux box. And lots of dirt and plants.

Anyway.

Yes, I know I've missed the past two Green Thumb Sundays. See why I didn't want to host some long silly list of sites I've never visited just to become a "member?" I actually have photos, I just didn't get around to posting them.

In regular news, class three of grad school started today-yay! The instructor is one of the people that wrote me a letter for my failed attempt at UIUC grad school, and he's definitely my favorite instructor from my second undergraduate degree. He totally knows his stuff and knows on-line teaching and I'm excited. I'm actually taking another of his classes in the Fall. I'll be halfway finished with this grad school sillyness by the end of the year!

The kids are good. Alex is mowing full-time now. It's surprising how much more I enjoy walking around the fresh-mown yard when I haven't had to have been the person to mow it. Sweet!

And I know the burning question--yes, I've still been running. I'm still not losing any more weight. But I will finally admit that my physique is changing. My face is skinnier. My beer gut is going down--way down. I don't know that I'll have a washboard by the Fourth of July, but it won't be the swollen thing that it was.

Alas, I don't think I'll be able to run 3.2 miles two months from now.

But I'm still going. I'm still running. I'm getting in shape. I'm saving my life.

I'm actually pretty surprised that I'm sticking with it. Especially considering that I'm not losing weight and I'm not anywhere near being able to run five kilometers.

Interestingly, my golf game has improved immensely. Coincidence?

Okay, I'm falling asleep.

Posted: Tuesday, June 02, 2009, 3:38 am
Mood: Peaceful | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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