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 We managed slightly better than a quorum for dragonboat practice today. For some reason, most people have gravitated away from Tuesday practices (which, for obscure and not necessarily relevant reasons, is my preferred day). A big factor is that our head coach doesn't come on Tuesdays and the people who are practicing all out for race season align their schedule with his.So Mondays get a boat and a half worth of people, but Tuesdays we occasionally don't even mange the five people (4 paddlers and a steersperson) that are pretty much the minimum for taking out the 10-person boat. (The regular boats are 20-person.) In deep winter, I do a lot of steering--often I'm the only qualified steersperson there on Tuesdays, but this time of year we can usually count on another of our regulars who doesn't mind steering because he gets his paddling time in earlier in a kayak. But today he waved at us from the sailboat he was helping take out--it looked like they were training up an inexperienced crew, from some of the maneuvers. So it was just me steering and five paddlers. A nice laid-back practice with the advantage of a stiffer than usual breeze so we could alternate resistance training and speed training.

I keep saying that one of these years I participate in the races again, but really I just like getting out on the water and getting in a good workout. I don't need the anxiety of race training.
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Interestingly, according to the Fitbit, I take more steps with my left leg than with my right. Today I went back to wearing the device on my ankle, but I rigged it up to tie with a ribbon so I could wear it on my (preferred) left ankle. Same basic routine as the first two days of wearing it, but at the point when I got home (at which point the day's activities diverged) it had recorded 1000 steps more than it did at that point the day I wore it on the right ankle. Not sure what to think about that.
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So as predicted, wearing the Fitbit on my wrist (as intended) rather than the ankle resulted in a noticeably lower step-log for the exact same activities. I can't do an exact comparison because I didn't track exact intermediate numbers during the day, But by the time I got home, the step-count was approximately 2000 lower than yesterday's. (Approx. 10,000 yesterday, at that point, approx. 8,000 today.) Now my overall day's total ended up higher today because yesterday when I got home and did yard work, I was running the weed-whacker in the back yard with involved a lot of planting my feet and moving the arms back and forth (less foot movement) whereas today I was raking up the cut grass/weeds which involved a lot of hand movement (also more foot movement but remember I have the Fitbit on the wrist this time). And I also went out to see a movie after that, so more walking. But as predicted, the specific vigorous activities that I do get under-counted based on wrist movement. So for maximal tracking, I should wear it on the ankle during the day but on the wrist when I get home (or for dragonboat practice!).This suits me since I'm disinclined to view the device as a desirable fashion statement. But I'll probably come up with some alternate method of fastening it on my ankle because even the loosest setting on my skinnier ankle is a little tight.

At any rate, an amusing gadget. It will make the corporate fitness program happy. And it's an easy way to get a relative read on my day-to-day activity. I'd be happier if it gave more accurate metrics. Note that the default step-goal is 10,000 per day and I manage that only by dint of putting in at least 80 minutes of vigorous exercise.
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It's probably premature to do a review of a product I only started using today, but this will probably be added to.

I'd been looking vaguely at various "fitness tracker" devices that sync to your smartphone but I hadn't yet found a sales person who actually knew the mechanics of how the things worked and I was having a hard time translating the somewhat grandiose claims ("tracks how many calories you burn", "analyzes your sleep patterns") with the lack of any obvious mechanism for true biometrics (e.g., heart rate, brainwaves). And, in fact, as far as I can tell, the vast majority of entry-level devices rely solely on accelerometers. They track how and how often you wave them around due to their positioning on some part of your anatomy.

So I hadn't yet found the information and/or features I wanted in order to be willing to shell out the non-trivial cost … until my employer decided that this year's inducement to participate in their "healthy living" program was a free Fitbit device. Well, "free" -- that's worth the experiment. So I signed up and selected the "Flex" which is the wristband style. Being the perverse sort of person that I am, my first day's experiment involved putting it on my ankle instead. (Since it's designed for a wrist, it only fits on my right ankle -- the one where the sciatica has caused enough muscle wasting at the ankle to slim it down sufficiently.) My theory is that since -- as I've determined -- the device relies solely on an accelerometer, it may measure rather differently when tracking foot movements than hand movements. And since my major exercises (bicycling and elliptical) involve functionally immobile wrists, I expect that tomorrow's experiment -- with essentially identical activity but the band on the wrist -- will show substantially lower numbers.

The nature of the measurement also ensures that vigorous exercises that don't involve high-impact don't count as "very active" for the devices metrics. (The FAQ outright states, "your active minute count will be lower for activities that are not primarily step-based, such as weight lifting, cycling, and rowing." Hmm, weight lifting (check), cycling (check), and rowing (check). Also, I would add, elliptical (check). No doubt due to the smooth motion. In other words, "If you do an activity that will fuck up your knees, then we'll give you extra points, but this actually has nothing to do with intensity of effort." So my day included at least 40 minutes of vigorous cycling and slightly less than 40 minutes of vigorous elliptical but my Fitbit only credits me with 11 "very active" minutes.

On the other hand, the device does seem to count all my leg movements as actual steps (although it only counts steps by the leg it's attached to -- as I assume it only counts as a "step" the motion of the wrist it's attached to). I know this because the elliptical counts both feet and gives me my full 5000+ steps for my workout but in the same time the Fitbit only credited me with ca. 2500. OK, fine, it's a relative measurement. But it isn't actually counting "steps".

The "sleep tracking" is similarly less useful than the hype. You start tracking your sleep by tapping on the device to say "start sleep tracking" and you stop by tapping again to go out of sleep mode. So let's say I'm having bouts of insomnia and repeated waking. I will be able to track exactly how much sleep I actually get because at that point when I finally manage to drop off … I will wake up sufficiently to tap the device, ensuring that I will then lie awake for at least another half hour. Or am I missing something? (It does track movements during sleep, so I guess tossing and turning will be tracked.)

So let's see what Fitbit claims today's numbers are. I took 11,100 steps, covered 4.63 miles, had 11 "very active" minutes, and burned 1810 calories (they include basal metabolism in this). I'll accept their "step" count with the above caveat, but bicycling and elliptical combined I know totals over 13 miles (so they're calculating how far I would have gotten if I low-impact walked 11,100 steps). And as noted I actually had more like 80 "very active" minutes. Based on calorie guides for specific activities, based on specific effort levels, my high-impact activities estimate out at about 1100 calories (not including low-impact stuff and basal metabolism). And I predict that tomorrow's tracking (on the wrist) will even more drastically under-report my activity.

So unless your primary exercise activity is running, don't count on a Fitbit to track your actual exercise efforts. But if you calibrate it against whatever your target activity routine is, it may be useful for tracking whether you hit that target.
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So normally I do my daily gym workout on my lunch hour. But on Tuesdays, I have a standing lunch date with [livejournal.com profile] thread_walker. So on Tuesdays I do my workout after work. But due to miscellaneous logistics, this means that it makes more sense to drive on Tuesdays rather than take BART/bike. This also gives me an opportunity to do weekly grocery shopping at Berkeley Bowl without having to schlep the results on BART/bike. This is the context in which I was wandering around the Cultural Celebration at work last Wednesday and fell in to chatting with the guy manning the dragon boat table in the Asian booth. I knew -- vaguely -- that the Big B has a dragon boat team, but I assumed that some sort of serious commitment was required to participate. He assured me that it was ok to just show up for practices as I pleased and participate in races if it was convenient. (The Big B team gets filled out by members of another club, evidently.) And lo and behold, one of the regular practices is on Tuesdays after work. At the Berkeley Marina, which is right there half a mile from work.

So today I turned out for my first practice. I actually didn't recognize any other Big B people there. (Mind you, I'd probably only recognize about 20% of fellow employees by sight.) It's evidently a completely open practice -- any random people who show up. They're fairly laid back about newcomers. I had to emphasize several times that it was my first time and I needed some help knowing what to do. On the other hand, I think I was roughly in the middle of the pack in terms of ability. (Did I mention this is a random, just-for-fun, pick-up type situation?) So we did an hour of energetic rowing, with a light amount of technique coaching. It wasn't quite as much of a workout as I'd get at the gym, but it worked different muscles and it was a nice change-up. I think I'll keep doing it. It's fun getting out in the water ... even if it is just doing circuits of the marina.
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The headless chickens failed to consume my weekend, despite the creeping advance of work deadlines. (I.e., the deadlines have been moved to earlier dates, not simply that time marches forward and the deadlines with them.) If I hadn't been able to tell my boss in advance that I had a pre-existing social commitment for this weekend, I'd be in at work at this very moment. I did, however, bring some files home to work on. 2010 is not "back to normal" yet.

Today is all about finishing the start-of-year housecleaning (especially since it involves the two rooms most involved in tomorrow's tea party) and doing some advance food prep. Oh, and relaxing. I'm scheduling some relaxing. The middle brother gave me some fancy imported bubble bath for Xmas and I'm planning to try it out.

Given the recent and current weather, I'm perusing the calendar and thinking about scheduling a getaway ski expedition. I've been thinking about checking out Royal Gorges, and it would be easier on my wallet if I did a non-weekend stay (Sun & Mon nights) rather than the weekend rates. The first half of February looks good all around. We'll see if I do anything about it before time creeps up on me.
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I may yet get to that "start the year on the right foot housecleaning" thing, but in the meantime I've been playing in iTunes putting together some new exercise playlists. Just because other people might find this amusing (or even useful), here's a description of the sort of parameters I'm working with. This could get really boring if you're not into geeking out about exercise music. )
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I called the concession group that runs most of the Yellowstone campgrounds and got reservations for Monday through Friday. (Two days at Madison, three days at Bridge Bay. Sorry, [livejournal.com profile] cryptocosm -- I considered following your suggestion to try for a night at the Old Faithful Inn with a geyser-view room, but although the same concession company runs both the Inn and the campgrounds, they're handled by different reservations operators, and I didn't feel like dealing with the added complication of juggling options.) I was worried that there would be major availability problems on this late notice and still (barely) within the season, but it turns out that camping out of the Element means they can fit me into sites that don't work for either full-size RVs or serous tent-campers, so they had plenty of spots I could use.

The general plan was to spend Saturday and Sunday driving there, and (ideally) sleep at a rest area those two nights, then set up at Madison (near the West Entrance) Monday and spend Monday and Tuesday doing the sites between Madison and Old Faithful. I figure one day of biking between the two and doing all the little side sights and trails, then one day driving to some of the longer hikes on that route (like Fairy Falls). Then Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I move to the Bridge Bay campground. (I'd originally thought about doing even more moving about -- since camping out of the Element means I pretty much pack everything up every day anyway -- but one of the campgrounds I'd been thinking of they don't do reservations, and a couple others were already closed for the season.)

So I was figuring for the next three days, I'd spend one hiking the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone area, one doing things around the lake, and one left unscheduled. It occurred to me that "doing things around the lake" might be improved by doing things on the lake, so I went online and turned up an outfit that does half-day guided kayak tours in the Grant Village area. So I called them up for a reservation -- it seems they require a 4-person minimum to do a tour, so my first choice of Thursday was out because they didn't have anyone else signed up for that day, but they already had a 4-person group reserved for Wednesday morning, so I went with that one. (I briefly contemplated simply seeing if I could rent a kayak, but with only that one day's lesson I've had, I'd rather be in company.) This means that Wednesday morning I need to pack up early enough to drive from Madison to Grant Village by 9:30, but I figure I'll cope. So Wednesday will be Lake Stuff Day, then Thursday will be Canyon Day. And Friday? Who knows, maybe Friday I'll just hang out in camp and do nothing.

So Saturday I'll start with a nice leisurely exit via Grand Teton Park and get as far as is reasonable, then Sunday's all about getting home.

I have a packing list. I have most of my preparatory shopping done. I have the cat and the CSA box taken care of. I have ... *ACK* Cal Shakes is this Thursday ... I have one less evening to prepare in than I thought. (Ok, that last was for dramatic effect. I actually noticed about Cal Shakes yesterday.)
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Yesterday I went to the porkgasm party thrown by [livejournal.com profile] ppfuf and husband. An homage to the pig, and the many wonderful (and sometimes unexpected) ways one can eat it. I made a deal with myself that I wouldn't worry about portion control or tracking if I put in a bike ride of at least 40 miles today. (I'd been planning a ride one of these weekends anyway.) As those following the ride on facebook may already know, it ended up at 50 miles (exactly -- the bike trip odometer says "50.0something").

I started out thinking in terms of a San Francisco loop and took the same route I did last time: start at Embarcadero BART, light breakfast at the Ferry Building, then along the Embarcadero, past Fishermans Wharf, the Marina, Chrissy Field, climb the hill, and across the Golden Gate bridge. But that's only about 10 miles, and I wasn't sure how much wandering around in SF I wanted to do to stretch it out, so I consulted Google maps on the iPhone and headed down through Sausalito. They have some great bike paths in Marin -- once you claw your way through the hordes of tourists in Sausalito (many of them on rental bikes, creating vast safety hazards for all and sundry) you can take a mixed-use recreation path along the shore (well, actually directly through the wetlands for a lot of it) then eventually turning onto Blithedale, over 101 where it becomes Tiburon Blvd, then following Tiburon Blvd and Paradise Dr to entirely circle the Tiburon peninsula, cut back across on Trestle Glen Dr at the base of the peninsula, and then back along the same route I went out. I wasn't sure whether it would fit my mileage goal, but when I paused at the Tiburon ferry landing, I was at mile 24, so I figured I was good to go.

I stopped for a late lunch in Sausalito to recoup my strength for the climb back up to the bridge (which had seemed very long and steep when I came down it earlier) but it ended up not being too bad at all. In fact, while I won't claim it was a particularly strenuous ride (in terms of Serious Bike Riding), I'm proud of never having stopped to rest or gotten off to walk. And it was all very very scenic and reasonably safe, traffic-wise. There were twice as many bikes as cars on the road around Tiburon and I generally felt in far more hazard from the clueless-tourists-on-rental-bikes than from any of the auto traffic.

I am now totally wiped and intend to do nothing more strenuous than the laundry for the rest of the evening. But I think I'll take this route again in the future. It could be extended maybe another 10 miles by continuing on Paradise Dr up past Corte Madera to Larkspur Landing, then West on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, and south on Camino Alto -- although from the twistiness of that last on the map, I suspect it would add a bit more elevation change as well as miles.
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Mostly behind a cut, due to being image-heavy, but here's the final pic as a teaser. Read more... )
And that was my weekend as a Death Ride groupie.


The scary thing is that I'm feeling just a little bit inspired ....

a few more details )
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I desperately need to put together some new exercise playlists in iTunes. Currently I have 12 half-hour sets -- that is, half an hour plus an additional cool-down song -- although not all of them are for everyday use. (The "marches" playlist is for light days, since I can't get a full 500-cal workout out of a 120 bpm tempo.) I don't like using the same set more than once a week, and even at that I tend to rotate them out of use after a month or so. It's interesting seeing which bands and performers fit my needs best. The Beatles come in three speeds: way too slow, right in my zone, and brief sprints only. The Carpenters are great: a nice variety of speeds within my overall required range (roughly 130-180 bpm) and a good solid beat (duh!), similarly Paul McCartney, also Simon & Garfunkel. ABBA has just barely enough to cobble a set together: mostly too fast or too slow. Carly Simon, way too slow; Eagles, alas, ditto. Elton John, solidly in the zone. Heart: a few at the slow end but nothing in mid-zone. Gordon Lightfoot, a couple in mid-zone but mostly way up in sprint territory. Queen has a nice range of tempos but I'm working mostly from a live album and the tempo consistency and intro material is a problem. Some favorite performers just never quite hit the mark: Steeleye Span is all at barely-warming-up speeds, Plethyn's all way too slow, any entirely too many great bands are enamored of constant tempo changes. Hmm, looks like I have enough tempos plotted out to put together a Beach Boys set. It's a starting place, anyway.
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I carried through on my Sunday preparations and returned to bicycling to work today. At the time I leave the house it's just barely turning towards dawn: still dark enough to require lights, but probably only for another couple of weeks. So I plunged back into my full 10-mile route at lunch and was much more awake through the afternoon that has been usual lately. That might also have to do with project-direction-whiplash. It's a good thing I didn't actually put time in on the Work Brought Home yesterday, because today it was all about, "Let's not waste time on another detailed interim report. Just do the executive summary and then we'll finish everything up in the final report for the next version." So by spending yesterday evening sewing, I dodged a bunch of wasted effort. Sewing? More progress on the Gothic Underdress and more alterations on some modern outfits. Nothing completed at the moment.
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Memo to self: You know better than to download a new free computer widget right at bedtime. Especially one with a near-endless potential for time-gobbling. You know better. And yet you did it. So now you have an Apple dashboard widget for calculating beats-per-second of any song playing in iTunes and automatically adding the data to the song file. And now you have close to a hundred song tempos recorded. And now you have a set of playlists organized by tempo-group and a first experimental cardio workout playlist designed to match the song tempo with the desired exercise pace. But you know what? You didn't get to use that playlist in the gym this morning did you? You know why? Because you may not know better than to download software at bedtime, but you do know better than to get up to go to the gym on 5 hours sleep.

The preceding notwithstanding, I did go to the gym after work and gave the new playlist a try. I've been having problems with low energy during my morning workouts and had been blaming it on everything from shorting myself on sleep to exercising on an empty stomach to circadian mismatch. But I think the real answer is too much reliance on talk-podcasts and not enough rousing up-tempo music. New resolution: talk-podcasts are for weight training; cardio requires music.

Deja books: Recall how back last June I wandered into Lacis for some notions and fell upon a book entitled Kölner Patrizier- und Bürgerkleidung des 17. Jahrhunderts: Die Kostumsammlung Hüpsch im Hessischen Landesmuseum Darmstadt? Well today I wandered into Lacis for some notions (needed a nice peacock-blue buttonhole silk for the lacing holes on the new Gothic gown) and noticed that the aforementioned book now comes with an accompanying volume supplying an English translation for the main discussion chapters.  When I asked if it were possible to buy the accompanying volume by itself (explaining my previous purchase) it turned out that they'd been supposed to be sold as a set but there had been a miscommunication with the supplier and Lacis didn't know about the second volume back when I bought mine.  So I got volume II for free (or rather, for no additional charge).

Rain, rain, come again:  Thank goodness we're finally getting some serious rainstorms.  I think the paper said that SF was up to 90% of season normal at this point.  (Of course, this isn't as positive as it sounds because there's still a lot of snowpack, aquifer, and reservoir depletion to be made up for, and that requires surplus, not just 100%.)  But still, we're moving closer to target.

Freezer-container surprise:  There are several useful purposes to actually labeling freezer containers with the nature and production date of the contents.  On the other hand, life is an adventure.  And green-garlic soup is just as interesting when made with salmon broth as it would have been made with chicken broth, or lamb broth, or beef broth, or any of several other possibilities for those unlabeled zip-locks.  It would, however, likely not have been as congenial if made with the apple puree.  Fortunately, those are labeled.  I've been on a fanatic purge of the random freezer containers lately.  Given my produce-buying habits, there are only a few things that make sense to buy and store frozen, and most of those are needless convenience (e.g., the bag of pre-sliced bell peppers -- simply picking up one pepper a week would take care of any incidental uses).  I'm down to one more container of salmon broth, two quart bags of apple-puree-for-jelly (which must date to back before the second apple tree was taken out), and one sad slightly used back of frozen oriental veggies.  To be kept are the zip-lock of lemon-juice-and-zest ice cubes from the last harvest of my lemon tree, the assorted bags of frozen berries (used in baking or smoothies), and of course such things as the whole-bean coffee.  No doubt I'll come out of this downswing and fill it back up a bit, but food in the freezer tends to sit there longer than it ought and in general my eating plan centers around cooking only what I plan to eat in one meal, not on making multiple meals up in advance.
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So some time Saturday morning on the ski trail, I took a spill and managed to munge my right thumb (caught the pole, twisted the strap, etc.). Definitely sprained. By dinner time I had temporarily left the ranks of Those With Functional Opposable Thumbs, at least on the right hand. This made handling silverware amusing. Opposable thumbs are also useful for things like handling zipper pulls and straps and buckles. Also tying book laces. They are not, however, essential for the actual act of cross-country skiing. In fact the thumb didn't particularly interfere with the sking at all for the rest of the weekend, even though by Sunday morning it was significantly swollen and unbending. Huh. (By Monday morning I had returned to the ranks of the functionally opposable, although it still aches and is still visibly swollen.)

Ski conditions were peculiarly Spring-like. Highs up in the 40s; a distinct slushiness to the non-shadowed parts of the trails by afternoon. Still, all in all, a good weekend. I even took a couple of trails marked "advanced". (The rating system seems to be base more on how much climbing is required, as there were "intermediate" downhill slopes that were much more daunting than anything on the "advanced" runs.) By Sunday afternoon I was quite exhausted, but in a "played hard" way. I could, however, have done without the additional excitement that [livejournal.com profile] cryptocosm details in his entry about the weekend. So what with one thing and another and the detour to Sacramento on the way home, I didn't get to bed until midnight.

Saturday evening we initiated [livejournal.com profile] scotica's friend R. into the mysteries of Settlers of Cataan (now becoming a ski-trip tradition). He promptly bid fair to trounce us until the usual dynamic kicked in and the other players all ganged up on the leader, allowing the just-barely-in-second player to win.

Now I plan to do as little as possible for the next week while recovering. (Won't succeed, but I can plan.)
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The oldest and youngest brothers have flown back to California (since they have a play rehearsal for 12th night). I'll still be here in Maine until the 1st and have shifted home base from the middle brother's house (formerly Sibling Central) to the parents' house. The great skiing has passed -- yesterday I went out for a couple hours but the packed trails had turned to ice and the wind had blown all manner of organic material into the tracks. The best runs were across the open meadow where the grainy crust had warmed up just enough to give the right balance of tooth and drag. There was a small shower of new snow last night but nothing useable. The forecasts suggest there may be more snow Monday night and Tuesday, so I may get a couple more decent days in. Or, I suppose, I could drive somewhere that has better conditions, but I could do that back home. The novelty here is the whole "walk down the street to the ski trail" aspect.

Other than that, I've been messing around on the computer a lot. Mostly doing a bunch of really tedious coding in the Medieval Welsh Names database. When I get around to making my New Years' Irresolutions, I think one of them will be to get the names database online in interactive form. It will always be a work in progress -- and people who want to use it for researching and documenting names for the SCA are going to need some serious training in "you can't just say 'I found it on hrj's website'." When I started this project, I saw that I could go one of two directions. I could either make the data "safe" to use, with highly filtered and interpreted content and eliminating anything with any degree of uncertainty. Or I could present the material simply as a data resource, with all the interpretations flagged as to degree of confidence and rationale, and with all the background information about context dumped into the user's lap, and with the onus for responsible usage also dumped on the user. And I concluded the only sane path was the second one. The first approach would only reinforce the illusion that there are simple answers and absolute truths. The second approach reminds people that there is always uncertainty and interpretation and you just have to lump it and do your best.

The one nod I'll be making to user "safety" is that the planned report form for search results will have all the background data on the source and all the explanations of confidence levels included in the format. It'll be repetitive and redundant, but it will make it much harder for an end-user to take snippets of data out of context and claim that I said they mean things that I never said or meant.
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I doubt I'll manage to get on the skis every day I'm here in Maine, but so far I'm three for three. The snow is still incredibly sweet -- no ice or slush, and a gradual accumulation of more packed trails. We're slowly working our way through all the standard family holiday meals. We've done smoked ribs night, steak and lobster night, tomorrow is turkey afternoon, later in the week is "local Chinese buffet" night. After that, I think it'll be leftovers until further notice. Daily ski time is a critical part of maintaining the balance here!
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Skied over to the Colby campus yesterday to do some cross-country. It was cold enough that there was enough residual snow on the sidewalks and road margins that it was almost possible to ski the whole way between my brother's house and the trailhead. Note that skiing in a foot and a half of fresh powder is quite a different experience than on groomed tracks. Equally fun, but quite different. Did a certain amount of breaking trail then took a couple loops on the existing tracks. I got over there again today in the afternoon (the morning having been spent raking snow off my parents' roof). They still haven't groomed the trails, but several more loops have been pioneered, and only the tracks along the open meadow had been mostly filled in by drifts. The rest of the time has been filled in with Settlers of Catan, as usual. Met the middle brother's new girlfriend last night. She seems to be amused by us, which is probably the best response to have.

Nattering

Oct. 15th, 2008 07:43 pm
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I'd been planning to camp for Mists Coronet this weekend, but I've rethought the matter. When I started plotting out planning a menu, shopping, packing, and whatnot, I got to feeling overwhelmed (and even had a brief moment of irrational depression). And then I got to thinking that I still have to prepare my classes for Collegium the weekend after. So I'm currently thinking about possibly day-tripping, but all in all I'd rather save my energy for Collegium. And I still want to do another car-camping trip before the holiday season sets in -- Halloween weekend looks like a possibility, but I have to come up with a destination.

The official invitation arrived for the Big B's semi-formal dinner Thing in mid-November. I've set myself a goal of finding a date for it, but the prospect is a bit daunting. I mean: are free food, drinks, and dancing sufficiently enticing to balance having to socialize with a large mass of unknown co-workers? For an adventurous spirit, perhaps, but it seems a lot to ask. I sometimes think that while the whole Blind Date Project has been ok in terms of proving I can work outside my comfort zone, it hasn't really changed the overall paradigm. I still have no idea where one manages to find Eligible Parties. And I still haven't worked out the social economics of how one discovers a Romantic Attraction without having spent a year or so getting to know each other in depth.

I'm settling in more to the shifted workout schedule but one, perhaps predictable, change has popped up: I'm ravenously hungry for breakfast. Rather than juice and coffee sufficing to hold me over until lunch, I've been craving something more substantial. This will be a challenge to manage without involving baked goods. I actually went so far as to get oatmeal at the cafeteria one morning. If I'm going to do that, I need to work out something I can take from home (but that doesn't involve any prep time in the morning).

On my lunchtime bike ride today the wind seemed to have shifted back to cold-and-damp, so maybe our October fire season is on its way out. That would be nice. Now, onward to filling out my mail-in ballot so I can ignore politics. (Well, except for stressing out about the chances of Proposition 8 passing.)

Seasonings

Oct. 10th, 2008 10:01 pm
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Whatever the calendar may say, today was the first day of Fall for me. We had one of those Arctic October winds blowing through, doing its usual thing of whipping up enough dust and whatnot to give me a splitting sinus headache. And to round off my "weather and earthquakes" topic tag, we had a cute little 3.1 movement right at the end of the workday -- just barely enough to make the disco ball in the office sway a little. (Don't ask.)

It looks like I've successfully shifted my gym routine to mornings. It took me a couple of days to get completely with the program, but the issues were things like "must remember to pack comb" and "figure out misleading settings on elliptical equipment" rather than having problems dragging myself out of bed at 6am. The circadian rhythm is still working on getting caught up, but the key thing is making sure I get to bed earlier.

Got my absentee ballot in the mail yesterday. I only have a few of the local races to do some research on before filling it out. Then I can try to ignore all the politicking for a while, except as bad theater. Gah! I hate what US politics have turned into.
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Today I closed the only investigation currently on my plate that does not involve alpha-galactose. That only leaves six investigations. And a vast feline herd of Subject Matter Experts from whom I'm supposed to extract and synthesize a Root Cause. If it weren't fun it would be terrifying.

I finally made it to my new gym today, although I fumbled on remembering to bring a lock for the locker and remembering to bring shampoo for the shower. They had loaners for the former, and for the latter I just waited to get home to shower since it was post-work. Tomorrow is the real test: can I drag myself out of bed promptly enough to get to the gym pre-work and still get there by my target of 8am? How low my sights are set these days. Still, even though I was there at peak time, there wasn't any problem about equipment availability. And watching the folks on the climbing walls (even through glasses-less fuzz) is mildly entertaining. Lots of kids -- I hadn't expected that. (Not as in "run around and get underfoot" kids but as in "after-school sports program" kids.)

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