Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I've become interested in tanto/wakizashi/katana style edged weapons lately. I used a short tanto blade, and not a great one, to hack a limb off a live tree with amazing speed recently to create a stick to lure the dog back after an escape. This is a good blade style.

My friend Joe knows a lot about weapons, and gives me really good advice about the subject whenever I ask. He vetoed my shotgun adventure, and also my wakizashi experiment. He said stick with handguns, they are quick to deploy and fire in confined spaces. He's right, of course.

I'm still going to get the Ko Katana,though. Being half assed left handed, I am a decent shot one handed, either hand, and the same with a blade, either hand. I want to have the terror aspect of swinging the blade in the face of a home invader on my side as part of the last-ditch plan.

Joe doesn't know much about edged weapons anyway. I think this is a good addition to the mix.


Last Week of May

This week brings me closer to actually having to give our beta testers our Factor Athletic Preparation Software so they can beat it up. Since my partner has been training and conditioning his son, who is undoubtedly going to be a superstar professional soccer player (at age 16 his speed and explosiveness equal that of the top soccer players in the world, completely unbelievable but true), I have a bunch of his training data to use to create the data import packages that we will need to stand these teams up on our software. Next, we have a large Rugby team in France that will be using the software and giving us feedback. I'm looking forward to doing some data integration work for a change.

I think I have perfected the vinaigrette we put on our weekly big dinner salad. The one I made today tastes just right. I upped the acid and it has more bite. Wednesday is farmer's market day here in the pueblo, so I have some nice greens, picked today, hearts of palm, white asparagus, fresh peas, avocado, other regular veggies, and leftover top sirloin, which is delicious cold.

Vinaigrette (based on Julia Childs recipe)

scallions or shallots
dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
balsamic vinegar
good olive oil

The trick is getting the proportions right, right being whatever makes a dressing you like. Put as much of the shallot (1 tbs, for me), mustard (1 tbs),  vinegar (4+ tbs), lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk all that together. Start adding the olive oil, slowly, as you whisk continuously to make an emulsion, until the olive oil ratio to the acid mixture is about 5 to 1. Taste. Refrigerate until nice and cold, and then taste again, and add more acid if it needs it. It might well after it gets cold.

Put it over whatever makes an over the top salad for you, and there's a good meal.

Physical training is on the back burner this week. I'll only get three good days in at best, but it's a marathon, not a sprint. It's hard for me to gauge whether my cardio fitness is good enough to survive a Krav Maga class yet (my first try at one nearly killed me). I guess the only way is to take another class and see how I hold up. I know I'll get there, it's just a question of time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

More Concept2 Good Stuff

I'm liking the Concept2 LogBook app. It's completely specific to their product line. I can't log bag time, for example, and the bag work is the most quickly exhausting stuff for me. I might have to just dump those bag data in Excel if there's any benefit to tracking them. 
Concept2 LogBook automatically ranks you with other folks in your age group and in distance/time rowed. It's quite a good app that way.  I think the only reason I'm up in the lower middle on the 5000M is that I was doing interval work today, my strokes per minute would have been much lower if I was just going steady, and I really pushed it hard today. But I'm in the pack, which should mean I am getting fitness benefits, and that's all I care about;  I obviously have a lot of room for improvement, and that's good too.

The rowing machine has changed my interval work from a chore into a fun thing. I really hated running on that damned treadmill.

Meters    Total Time    Pace    Date        Age    Class    Slide?    Comments
5000    20:00.0        2:00.0    5/18/2012        54    H    standard    2:1 interval   
2500    10:00.0        2:00.0    5/17/2012        54    H    standard    2:1 interval   

Exercise And ERD's

We get to make Entity Relationship Diagrams! Hundreds of them.
In the athlete preparation software we are writing (it's getting close to done!), one thing we manage for athletes and coaches is injuries and muscle tension as drivers for training restrictions and other stuff.

So in our software, athletes have a training status, ranging from full bore train hard, to no train at all, and a bunch in between. One of those in between status' is "Train with Pain". I can tell you that "Train with Pain" sucks, but you know that - I didn't know. Last week it did suck for me. This week, though, I have no abnormal pain, have increased my workout, and have decreased recovery time. So after just a few weeks, some measurable fitness improvement. Yay! Lesson is, I guess, that you have to train through pain.

The new routine is pee/poop/bike_run the dog in the morning as long as she'll take the run - we want her to get a lot of exercise. Then to the gym for me, for exhaustion bag work on strikes/kicks/knees/elbows  (all I know at this stage), bike for a fast interval run (short), and then the rowing machine for as much interval as I can do. I throw in more exhaustion bag work at the end.

I want one of these in my house. Rowing is so much more enjoyable than the awful treadmill, and it's full body. I'm happy that I have one at the gym.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Survive the ED - Good Outcome? Maybe Not...

Back in the 90's I worked at Battelle Memorial Institute Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation in Baltimore, developing database software to collect and analyze public health information. Battelle is a pretty unique organization, in that their charter is to only do work that is "good". Public health research meets that criterion. I liked working there a lot, because everyone there was well educated and really, really smart. Smarter than me for sure.

Our biggest customer was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and one of their pet projects was to find ways to increase the use of bike helmets. Smart people at CDC (Jeff Sachs) reasoned that if we could demonstrate to each state government that they could save money by enacting laws that required the use of bike helmets by everyone, they would do it, and the CDC would have succeeded in their mission, by preventing some terrible head injuries. It turns out that bike helmets are really effective at that, and that biking without a helmet is a good way to get a terrible head injury (although apparently scientists argue about the relative risk associated with bike helmet disuse, relative risk being a concept that I still cannot fully understand).

Schwinn Thrasher Adult Micro Bicycle Helmet (Adult)
A bike helmet. You should wear one if you ride a bike.
So I got the project to write the Preventable Injuries, Costs, and Related Deaths (PICARD) application. Woo-hoo. It was daunting. They fed me tons of economic data (projections for lost income, cost to the state to care for these people, much more) , medical outcome data (how many people survive the ED to linger in a brain-damaged state for dozens of years after a helmet-less bike crash, and at state expense, versus what those numbers would be with helmet laws), figuring out what the prevalence of helmet use would be under different circumstances, on and on with arcane to me concepts like these.

It's a stout metal rod with a short
leash at the end. You attach it
to your seat post. Keeps the dog
right where you see this one, safely
away from the bike and running
alongside. It works.

I went to my great boss Jane and said HELP, I'm not qualified as a business analyst to figure these data out. So she got me an economist and a biostatistician to tell me what all this stuff meant. Wow. Jane, you rock! And then I was the weakest member of the team, and grateful for that, and I got the software built with their help. Couldn't have succeeded without those guys.

So Kim and I decided that our dog Phoebe needs more exercise, and that a way to do that was to increase the intensity rather than the amount/time of exercise she gets. How? Strap her to a bike and run her. 

We get a bike, and a device  to lash Phoebe safely to it, which keeps her from getting tangled up in the wheels, chain, etc. Off we go.

Phoebe was a little skittish on our first test ride, but she got with it much quicker than I thought she would. She didn't pull the bike over like I thought she might. I think she'll do better tomorrow morning when she has a lot more energy.

I also got a bike helmet. We both thought that after all the pain of building PICARD, if I did this without a helmet, God would see and be unable to resist the irony of having me go down head first, survive the ED, and then spend the rest of my life wrecked with a terrible head injury. I'm wearing it. Every ride.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week of May 13

Well, it's been a quiet week here in the pueblo, my home. Not. We had some turmoil, now resolved, in our programming personnel. The core guys, Mark and Munish, continue to be superstars, so it's all good. They work so fast, I have to struggle to keep up with them, a good problem to have.

Nambe Pueblo
The vastness of this place is making me rethink landscape photography, something I have always enjoyed. The desert and mountains cry out for normal landscape work like this shot of Nambe Pueblo I made yesterday. It's OK, but that's all it is.

Desert flowers near our place

When things are big, I say look for the cool details, so I'm working on what I think of as micro landscapes. I'm photographing the tiny desert flowers we have around here and looking at other details as subject matter. I don't have it down photo-technically yet, but I like the composition and tension possibilities of the micro landscape school.

I'm still determined to be able to do at least one session of Krav Maga a week. Pretty modest goal for the kids in that class who are doing it with high energy, God bless 'em; a less modest goal for an older guy. Not that I'm old, but it requires a lot more cardio fitness and endurance than I have right now, so I'm building that stuff. It takes time. I'm happy that my shin splints I got from sprints (Bob sprints, not real sprints) are totally gone now, and that Kim understands all this exercise stuff and can tell me how to go at it right.

After I torture myself with interval training on the bike and the treadmill each morning, I get a little soak in the hot tub as a reward most days. Nice. To be honest, I actually look forward to the exercise each day, and that's a very good thing.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

May 5 Stuff

Swim, Phoebe, swim!
 On our last trip to Dixon, NM, about an hour north of where we live, a woman with a yard full of barking dogs (barking at us) showed us a secret path to the Embudo River, which feeds into the Rio Grande from the east. I think she wanted us to go somewhere where her dogs wouldn't bark at us. We went where she said, Phoebe jumped in and loved it that day, so we went back today with the long leash which I fabricated from eighth inch three strand and a snap shackle (thank you dad, for teaching me how to splice rope) which is 30 feet long.  Hooked her up, and in she went. She really showed her intrepidness when she stumbled into the deep part and had to swim back to shore in a fast running river. I knew she would go into that deep water, and I was pleased with her courage at one year making it ashore. All the photos from this little adventure are here. I had her leashed up and ready to haul in if necessary and was ready to go in after her.

Dixon NM
Dixon has a number of wineries, a cool community owned grocery store, and a lot of organic farmers, and was one of the earliest places where irrigation was done out here. Kim got some nice handmade gifts for Mothers Day in the grocery.

On other fronts, our contract programmer in the UK continues to be perfectly brilliant. I want to make him permanent as soon as we can. He's really driving development forward. The other one in Texas is done. Too bad.

Writing our athlete preparation software, I've learned that a reasonable athlete status is "Train with Pain". After my mostly self-inflicted over-training on Wednesday at Krav Maga, I understand what train with pain means. I so overworked my muscles grappling and doing exhaustion drills that they still are sore three days later, I also brought on a sudden and unexpected set of shin splints. I'm going back to the normal training routine tomorrow, including interval running. It's in the gym every day for cardio work for me, bike and treadmill, so I can survive the next Krav Maga hour long workout. I'm going to try one again in two or three weeks. I know I am going to have to improve my fitness level a lot to do this crazy Krav Maga stuff. It's 1,000 miles per hour from minute one to minute 60.