Archive for November, 2009

Apps Fun

November 30, 2009

I posted recently about buying an iPhone.  Now, I’m not technically a klutz, but I am taking some time figuring out all of the capabilities of the thing.  One of those is the calendar.  I found myself looking for a way to synchronize my work calendar to the iPhone calendar (because the damn IT Nazis at work won’t allow me to hook up directly).

What to do?

Well, let’s look to the Apps Store and see if there’s something there I can use.  I log into the store and type in “Calendars” in the search window, waiting for the standard 25 best bets and doubling that list to 50 for optimal coverage.

Choices galore!  But…ummm…not quite what I expected.

There  were the religious calendars.  Calendars designed to put in the palm of your hands all the religious holidays pertinent to a given religion – – the Catholic iMissal… the Islamic religious calendar… the Greek Orthodox calendar… the Pocket Luach (to convert Gregorian calendar to the Jewish calendar and back).

Then the ones I was looking for…only two offerings which would let me synchronize calendars.  And both of those charging about $5 each to use.

Some random calendars – – a calendar that shows the best times to go fishing… a calendar that helps you track when your bills should be paid… and the obligatory ‘eye candy’ calendars:  SI Swimsuit, Calendar Studs, Hooter’s Calendar Girls (no, I didn’t download any of those).

But the big surprise (okay, to me, anyway)?  In the first 50 suggested calendars, there were easily 15, maybe 20, applications to track women’s menstrual cycles!

Some were just trackers, merely history files to show when things (you know…”things”…) happen.  A few of those trackers were more elaborate, allowing inputs for such fun information like cramp intensity, breast tenderness, flow intensity, and the like.

What, again? I did this just last month...

Other cycle trackers were more predictive, giving best guesses of things like when the next cycle will begin or when to expect PMS (hell, I may get that calendar strictly for defensive purposes….gotta know when to be carrying pre-emptive chocolates with me).  Also some that could predict the best times for getting pregnant (to include best times to conceive a boy or girl).

Seeing Red!

The fun part?  The names…

–  some  expected ‘standards’:  iPeriod (yawn), iMensies, iPreg

–  and others:  FemCal, LadyBiz, and (help me with this one, ladies) Petals

And not so amazingly?  There are no “guy” equivalent calendars available.  But, then again, do we really need a calendar to track things like an “erection tracker” or “orgasm intensity” or the like?

And what would the name of such a guy calendar be (to match up with the wonderful names listed above for the women)?

—  iWood?
—  iGotlaid?
—  iWhackedoff?
—  iSaw, iConquered, iCame?
—  others?  Suggestions?

Nah…

I’m still thinking the best one for me is that PMS predictor…a guy needs all the help he can to survive, doesn’t he?

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Geek Tendencies

November 28, 2009

I wanted to be a doctor.

Briefly…

In junior high school, my peers started talking about what they wanted to do with their lives.  I had no clue.  Zero.  Zip.  Nada.*

But, for a couple years, I considered medicine.  I wanted to help.  So, I focused on sciences and math…and found I liked them.  And was even marginally good at them.

Just this easy.

Then I quickly realized I didn’t have the stick-to-it-iveness… the diligence… to be a doctor.  I just didn’t want to put in the work required.  Still, I hung in with taking advanced math and sciences through high school.

Going in to university, yet still unsure what to do with my life, I declared biology as my major… still clinging to those medical aspirations, perhaps?

Despite getting an “A” in my first lab and a high “B” for the course, I quickly realized that biology was not for me.  It was just too boring.

Second semester, I was undeclared for a major, but still took a heavy math and science course load.

Sophomore year, I decided to try chemistry, based mostly on having had advanced chem in high school which let me get an “A” in the basic college chem course — a matter of rote repetition?

Can I burn your bunsen, miss?

Things started out well that sophomore year.  But, soon, the demon named “Organic Chemistry”** quickly tempered that fast start.  I just couldn’t grasp the core concepts.  I could memorize okay, but without the basic understanding, couldn’t do the necessary extrapolations of free thinking solutions.  I ended up with a painful “C” in that course the first semester.

With a promise to myself to do better, I dug in to studying the second semester — I read.  I re-read.  I took copious notes.  I studied.

– – and was rewarded well for my efforts!!

…with a 32% on the first test…

Ahhhh!!!  I was devastated.  I had no more to give, yet had failed miserably.

I went to the professor for the course who gently suggested that chemistry may not be a proper career choice for me.  I balked…not because I didn’t know in my heart that he was right.  Rather, I said, “But, with a 32%, if I quit now I’ll get a ‘Withdraw Failing’ which will blast my GPA to hell.”

The professor offered, “I’ll make you a deal***.  If you promised to never set foot in the science building again, I’ll give you a ‘Withdraw Passing’.”

Sold!

Not wanting to spend any more time than necessary at university, I looked around…what major could I finish in two years?

…and, thus, I graduated with a degree in business management, which has led me down my life’s path (so far).

But, in my heart still lurks the geek, yearning to experiment.

Oh, and I did sneak into the science building my senior year, taking an ‘easy’ astronomy course.

…hmmm…maybe I should have tried to be a physics major!

Still the geek

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*And, in actuality?  Still don’t know…

**I’m sure any of you who took that course are, even now, cringing a bit at your experience with Organic.

***I got the feeling that he had made just such ‘a deal’ many times before over the years with students in similar circumstances as my own.

Pack Rat Gene

November 24, 2009

Well, here I am celebrating a year (plus a couple weeks) in the new condo.  I had some grand plans for things to be done around here.

–  plans to tidy the place up — organize all my stuff so that it’s accessible, but not cluttering up the square footage

–  plans to personalize it — make it so it doesn’t look like a page out of Better Homes and Gardens, but GnuKid’s Home and Gardens

–  and the biggie plans to just build ‘my bubble’ — that place where I feel comfortable and relaxed when I’m ‘home’, whether alone or throwing a party.

Success?  Marginal.  I’ve done a little of each one of those categories of plans.

What happened was that I got myself moved in ‘just enough’.  I cold find most of my stuff, the place looked presentable, and there was at least a couple square feet where I could settle in with a book or drink (okay…both) and feel ‘home’.

But ‘just enough’ isn’t good enough anymore.  I need to get back to fulfilling the plans.

On the Tidy Up plan?  I’m struggling.  I have the Pack Rat Gene.

might well dressed rats, I'd say

When I left the ex-spouse, she kept a ton of crap.  But, I still got away with a lot of stuff.  Much of it ‘a little bit of this and a little bit of that’.  Books I never read and likely never will.  The old furniture she didn’t want.  About 5 box loads of vinyl records*.  Boxes of papers…records, fun stuff, instructions to things I no longer own, 2 racquetball racquets (even though I haven’t played in 15 years), and so on…

And I can’t find anything because there’s too much of everything in too many boxes in the garage and I haven’t been able to organize it.

Nor get rid of any of it.

How did I get like this?

I am a Baby Boomer.  A child of The Greatest Generation (those who lived…and fought…through World War II).

Those in the Greatest Generation actually lived through one of the worst depressions this country has seen.  For those growing up in the depression, they learned that saving and reuse is not just a good idea, but a mandate to assure money was available for food, lodging, and clothing.

Habits learned by those children of the depression stayed with our parents, even as they transitioned into the economic boom following WW II.

And those habits were passed along.  Genetically?  Is there really a gene?  Nah.  But there is innate habit which is learned…was learned by me.

Now, I’m not talking the extreme of the lady with 93 cats wandering through mazes of floor-to-ceiling stacks of newspapers and magazines being saved ‘just in case’.  But I am talking about keeping things unlikely to be needed again…or at all — old grocery bags, half used paper tablets, those books which I never did, nor never likely will, read…

And I have to learn to let go of it all.  To keep only that which I really need, not that which I think I want because I ‘just might’ have a use for one day.

But it’s a hard habit to break.

Wish me luck.  I’m off to fill the dumpster with another pile of papers I’ve never needed and likely won’t again…

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*you kids who don’t know what those are, go ask your parents…or grandparents.

Diet Contest

November 22, 2009

The gym I use…well, I intend to use*…is running a contest for the holiday season.  Find an exercise/diet buddy (check!  got one…) and weigh in.  The goal is to gain no more than two pounds a piece over the holiday season.  If you succeed, you win an unnamed prize.  But the real reason to do this is to not gain too much weight over that holiday season.

You know that season, right?  The one with tons of delectable cookies, pies, other high carbs like sweet potatoes.  Everything from candy to turkey lures and tempts you for the next 6 weeks.  That, coupled with the onset of nasty weather limiting exercise options, is usually death to any diet plan.

Don't wanna be like this

So we have to maintain our cool, eat reasonably, continue to exercise, and not gain more than two…count ’em, 2!!…pounds by the beginning of January.

Exercise buddy and I had to weigh in separately as she was off pretending to learn something or other in a class.  But we both agreed that it’d be a good idea to load up the pockets with rocks, drink a gallon or so of water, and think heavy thoughts when we weighed in.   Armed with our starting weights, we are set.

Then the gym sweetened the deal a bit.  To help us succeed, they’re offering up a contest with more prizes that include a free personal fitness consultation with a trainer.  Additionally, one grand prize winner also gets a free, 30 minute therapeutic massage from a licensed massage therapist that works at the gym, plus a ‘fitness goodie bag’.  No clue what’s in the goodie bag, but—Sweet!

All we have to do is write a mini-essay (“mini-” meaning it has to be 100 words or less) on why we feel we deserve to win the prize(s).

Diving right into the task, here’s what I wrote up…and submitted already —

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I’m stuck.  I need help.  I’ve been working on my own at weight loss over the last two years.  I’ve done well, shedding 40 pounds.  Yet, for the past 6 months, despite watching my diet (counting those calories) and doing at least 4 days—often 6 days—each week of aerobic exercise, I remain stuck at 15 pounds from my goal (that goal being to get to the stated guidelines of ‘healthy weight’ for my height).  This has obviously been frustrating and is getting moreso.  So, I need help; the help of a professional fitness consultant.  Please “unstuck” me.
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100 words on the button.  And I think it shows I’m committed to the effort, but just need that extra push that only they can provide.

However, I had to strongly resist the urge to say what I REALLY wanted —

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I want to get laid more.  No, really, I NEED to get laid.  Okay, I’m not a bad looking guy now, but I still need help getting that last 15 pounds off my waistline.  I’m counting that losing the weight and toning the muscles will make the ladies swoon at my physique and throw themselves at me.  Losing weight will also give me that extra “optical inch”.  And, finally, the cardio work will kick up my endurance as well, so I can go all…night…long.  I NEED to get laid!
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Okay, not 100 words, but it surely gets the message across.

Maybe I SHOULD have used that last one.

=~=~=~=~=~=
*I haven’t used it much, though you’d think I would use it more.  It’s right next door to my office.  Yeah, I use the excuse that it’s nicer going outside to exercise.  But with winter coming on, I have no more excuses.

Feigned Interest

November 18, 2009

I work with lots of folks in my division who have significantly less than stellar social skills.  I won’t name profession names, as they actually run the gamut of program manager, financial manager, engineer, logistician, and more.

I had the pleasure was forced by my boss into talking with one of these folks today.  They had no clue that the world does not revolve around their profession.  They blithered on as if I really cared  what they were saying and they actually found humor in the driest, most mundane statements.

Specialist: “…and then the RQ713 lasted only 20 hours instead of the 30 in the manual…[giggle, snort, choke]…”

How long could I keep my eyes open?  More importantly, how long can I keep an appearance of feigned interest?  If I fell asleep, how long until I got whiplash from the neck bob?

Or, worse, someday I’m going to get caught as I let loose with a raucous snore.

I need a new job…but I’m guessing there are people like that in every corner of business.

…or I need to win the lottery…but that would actually require buying a ticket.

…or, even better?  I’m taking applications for a ‘Sugar Mama’.

A Pound Of Flesh

November 16, 2009

I’m trying to lose weight with diet and exercise.

With some allowance for differences in base metabolism/gender*/activity level, to lose a pound of body weight, you have to burn 3500 more calories than you consume.  There are many ‘experts’ who say that losing no more than a pound a week is healthy.  So, across 7 days, that 3500 extra calorie burn is ‘only’ 500 calories a day.  I use the quote around ‘only’ because even that is sometimes a bit difficult to maintain.

I use, along with my exercise/diet buddy, a web-based program called FitDay to keep track of caloric intake and burn.  They do lots of the heavy math work for you, as well as having a large (though not all-inclusive) database of how many calories foods have and how many calories activities burn.

Like the good business guy I am, I use metrics to track my progress.  The most simple metric to use is, of course, my weight.

I weigh myself each…well, okay, most…morning(s).

another broken scale, no doubt

And I’m confused.  I know there are lots of variables to weight – – how much water you’ve had, the bulk of a food versus the calories it has, etc.  But how can I eat pretty much the same calories over a 5 day period and have my weight go down then up again…by 3 pounds?  In just 1 day!!   Makes me shake my head.  But, also, awakens the scientist in this business administration brain.  Just out of curiosity, I’ve sort of been keeping mental track of the variables to those weigh ins.

Most notably is the effect on weight of whether I weigh myself pre- or post- deuce (dump, crap, BM, etc.).  This may be a bit scatalogical*** for you, but those can account for anywhere from a quarter to almost a full pound (!) difference in my weight.****

Of milder note is the effect clothes have…weighing myself naked (easy girls) or with partial or full daily clothing.

Recently I added a variable,  I had just had a bad weigh in (meaning I didn’t see the loss I was expecting…rather, it was one of those unexplained gains), and was very unhappy with the results.  Seething over the lack of weight loss while showering, I decided to check again after the shower to see if I really did gain weight.  I was very surprised to see that, although I still had a weight gain, that I weighed 0.2 pounds** less than the first time I weighed myself just 10 minutes prior.

So, just for giggles, I now occasionally weigh myself pre- and post- shower.   I’m amazed to find that pretty near always I will show a weight loss from weighing myself before and after the shower.  And it’s anywhere from 0.2 to 0.4 pounds less!  Now, I realize this is not remotely scientific.  But, I can only conclude that I do  have about a quarter of a pound worth of sweat and dirt accumulated on me that is washed away in the shower.

More experimentation is called for!

But, if I start posting graphs and charts, please come smack me upside the head and tell me to get a life.

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*I knew if I wrote “sex” in there instead of ‘gender’ for male/female, some of you would take that to mean you have to have lots of sex to lose weight…well, it couldn’t hurt!  It’s aerobic!

**my scale weighs to the nearest 0.2 pounds, so there’s obviously a margin of error in here.

*** The study and analysis of feces for physiological and diagnostic purposes.  Also called coprology.

****yeah, sure, go ahead and say it:  “GnuKid is full of shit!”

Synchronicity

November 15, 2009

My bike buddy and I have been talking about trying to kick up our biking exercise level.  We do want to go on longer trips and go faster.  However, she being encumbered with a 15 year old bike and me with the ‘cheap, yet heavy’ model from the store…and neither of us quite ready to commit to spend big bucks for the lightweight, go-fast bikes…we pursued other options to kick up the speed.

Our solution?  Toe clips.

Basically, we now have simple pedals which you push down on to go.  With toe clips, you can push down with one foot…and simultaneously lift with the other.  Sort of like rubbing your belly and patting your head, it takes some getting used to doing. For those of you who know about it, think Spinning Class.

Toe clip options include a simple toe cage you attach to the existing pedals

toeclips

attach to the pedal, tuck the toes, and go

or the much more efficient egg beater pedal.  This requires a special pedal and special shoes to clip into that pedal.

crankbros-candy-pedal-review

swap 'em out and lock 'em in

Everyone (all three of them) we talked to said the best was the latter.  Your shoes lock into the pedal, allowing much better lifting action.

Spying a sale this past week, we decided to open the pocketbooks [sounds of flitting moths escaping] and buy the egg beater shoes and pedal.  The saleslady was helpful, explaining how the system worked and giving us helpful hints like “be prepared to stop” and “be patient learning how to lift and push at the same time”.

After a very festive time trying to replace the pedals ourselves (involving many new combination of swear words and scraped up knuckles), we were ready to try out our new purchases.

Now, as I said, the special shoes have a clip on the bottom that slip into the egg beater pedal and lock in.  Well, that’s the theory.  We spent an easy 10 minutes trying to figure out just how to clip our shoes into the pedal.  Then a few trips around the parking lot, practicing a stop or two.  To remove your foot from the pedal, you can’t just lift it off…it’s hooked in now.  You have to rotate your foot a bit to disconnect first, then lift the foot.

Thinking we were ready to roll, we charged up the short hill to the bike path and we were off!

And it was great!  A little awkward learning to lift with one foot while pushing with the other, yes, but great nonetheless.  I noticed we could accelerate much more quickly.

The bike path crosses quite a few roads, but we luckily didn’t see any traffic at the first three intersections, so scooted right across.

The fourth intersection?  Uh-oh…traffic.

We both slowed down to stop.

We both tried to rotate our feet to release from the locking egg beater pedal.

We both failed miserably.

Braking to a stop well before the intersection, we nonetheless now found ourselves in a frantic balancing act of being stopped on a bike with both feet firmly locked into the pedals while trying to free those same feet from the pedals.

And, as if in a ballet and perfectly in time together, we both collapsed to our left.

Ta-Da!!

It. Was. Beautiful.

And painful.  Still, we were laughing our asses off and wishing someone had a video of it.  If only they had Synchronized Falling as an Olympic event.  I should have heeded that ominous music playing when the saleslady said, “Be prepared to stop!”

Gravity is a cruel mistress with a perfect record and she proved it again.

Deciding to head back, we stopped at every intersection, oncoming cars or not.  And still managed to find ourselves on the ground a few more times…okay, bike buddy only once…me?  Three more times.

And to think, we’re going to have to relearn this all again next bike season when we pull the bikes out of storage.