Apologies for the recent site outages — since I moved out of my old place the server also had to be moved to the new Ma and Pa Holliday hosting facility in sunny Concord, California. Hopefully things will run smoothly from this point onwards.
The Browns somehow made it into the playoffs. While no one seems to be able to explain how this happened, every person who currently or has ever lived in northeast Ohio is celebrating wildly. If they beat Pittsburgh in the first round pandemonium will most definitely ensue.
Stumbled on http://www.unitedforpeace.org/ while browsing the web tonight. Sorry about the down message during the holiday season, but the whole situation with the government right now feels like something out of a bad sci-fi movie rather than real life, and I’ve been having occasional nightmares where my brother was drafted and had to fight people that he had no good reason to be fighting with.
It struck me last night that Christmas is practically here, and suddenly all I can think about is getting home on Tuesday night and stringing lights all over the house with my brother, then spending Wednesday with the family laughing as we go through the annual gift exchange. I’m going to be an absolute cyclone of Christmas energy by the time the plane lands Tuesday night.
Aside from holiday joy the last few days have been relatively uneventful. The weekly running mileage was slightly over sixty, and that’s the first time in my life that I’ve done so much. I’m still not in the shape I was in during college, but I can feel myself getting there. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to run under six minute mile pace again, or to actually feel good after running ten miles. Life is treating me very well at the moment — hopefully everyone else is filled with a similar amount of joy during this holiday season.
If the scales are to be believed then I dropped six pounds while running tonight. I therefore decided to take drastic measures, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream is no more. As if a good run and a pint of ice cream wasn’t enough happiness for one night, the local grocery store doubles coupons, so Dr. Pepper only costs $0.26 for a two liter. Maybe I’m simple for being impressed by things like a good run and cheap Dr. Pepper, but if that’s the case then simple and happy is fine by me.
Spent an excellent weekend in Phoenix with friends. Chi and the Tall Guy came through with their usual shenanigans, including dozens of stories involving my brother and vomit. The best of these was a tale that ended with Adam shaking Aaron up and down by the ankles while holding him over the toilet, trying to find out if the goldfish that Aaron had just swallowed was still alive. Beth bravely made it through this dinner and immediately afterwards whisked me off to a holiday party with many people from Intel and much alcohol. Any party that finds Beth fully clothed in a hot-tub and Chris (Beth’s friend) roaming around the living room in a towel without anyone so much as turning their head has to be considered a success.
Chris is also training for a marathon, and despite battering his liver last night was planning to run fifteen miles today. Hearing him talk about eighty mile weeks and his long runs made me feel like a slacker, so I hit the gym with more determination than normal tonight. I managed twelve miles, which is good for me at this point. The weigh-in before I ran was 154, and after running I was at 149. The math says that had I run a full marathon (twenty-six miles) I would have dropped eleven pounds, but somehow I think there must be something I’m missing in that equation.
One of the odd side-effects of running a lot is that you begin consuming rather insane amounts of food. The average person supposedly needs two thousand calories each day to stay alive. If the treadmill is to be believed then I burned an additional twelve hundred calories while running tonight, so I should need thirty-two hundred calories today to keep from losing weight. For lunch I ate two foot-long Subway sandwiches, and ate another for dinner, but I’ve still dropped a bit of weight this week. What that means is that just to maintain my weight I’ll probably need to up my diet to three and a half feet of sandwiches per day — forty-two inches of sandwiches! That’s a midget. One midget worth of sandwiches each day just to keep from losing weight. Utter madness.
Life has been moving at a crazy pace lately. Drove from Los Angeles to Palo Alto and back over the weekend, arriving in Palo Alto at 2:00 AM Friday night and getting into LA at 1:00 AM last night. In between I enjoyed sushi with Nadia, Zac, Scott and Anna, moved most of the rest of my stuff (the Forester rules), scanned in my photos from Cambodia (I’ll put them on the site when I have a bit more free time) and got in an eleven and a half mile run. Left for work this morning at eight, was actually useful while on the job, joined the gym after work (the outfits the women in LA wear while working out make it worth the price of admission PLUS you get to watch six televisions while using the treadmills) and got home at ten, just in time to play with Argus and Fundy before they went to bed. Also met the last of my housemates, J.C. (not to be confused with my old housemate, J.B.) who is finishing up work on an independent documentary. Hopefully those folks waiting for me to write to them will understand why my e-mail output has tailed off as of late.
Having survived four days at the new job I’m on the verge of becoming useful to them. For me, the first day of any new job is generally spent making an ass of myself as I try to learn how to use the copier, get lost going to the bathroom, and greet the senior VP by the wrong name. By day two I’ve found the soda machine but still can’t send e-mail, and I ask enough simple questions to make my co-workers wonder if I’m brain damaged. Day three finds me confidently making my way from my desk around the floor, but invariably ends in disaster as I discover my card key hasn’t yet been activated and I have to wait in the lobby for fifteen minutes until someone can come let me back in. Day four is my first real chance to screw up something important, and by day five I’ve hit rock bottom and have no where to go but up. With that in mind I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow, my fifth day.
In all seriousness, things have been going reasonably well and I like the people I’m working with (honestly, I’m not just putting that here since they might some day read this journal). I finally found a place to live, and the housemates seem to be interesting people (an artist, two architects, and a writer), but the best part about my living arrangement is the two German shepherds, Fundy (three months) and Argus (three years). These dogs might be the coolest canines ever. My daily routine now goes something like this: work – run – play with the dogs for as long as humanly possible – sleep – repeat.
I haven’t even started work yet and already I’m up until midnight frantically trying to finish things up. I miss the retired life before it’s even ended — not a good sign. I must keep repeating: “consulting is a means to an end… it is just a means to an end…”
I’ve been madly trying to update things on this site before I head to LA tomorrow. The latest goodies are:
- A message board. There is absolutely no reason for a message board on this site, so I figured why not add one?
- Lots of new photos, including a few more of the western United States and India. Unfortunately the India photos are pretty lousy, mostly because every time I took my camera out in India I would be barraged by people trying to sell random bits of junk, so I would usually take out the camera, quickly snap a photo, and then run like hell.
- Updated photo gallery and other code on the software page. The logs are showing that people are actually hitting that page and downloading a few things, so if anyone is using a particular piece of code and wants to see something updated please let me know (post on the message board or something).
The discovery of champagne and margaritas for $2.75 near Union Square was a dangerous one, but it did lead to some good times with the Goob and Jenn. Drinks were followed up by a tree lighting with Leah, Nish, and several thousand other people, but since they seemed to be doing everything but lighting the tree we escaped to Sam Woo’s for egg rolls and won ton before parting ways with a group hug at the BART station. Happy times.
The annual Thanksgiving eating contest went horribly wrong this year, resulting in Aaron winning through disqualification. The final weigh-in stood near five pounds gained before the infraction took place. Also of note is that when we discovered Aaron’s list of things that make him happy (written when he was in the sixth grade), “my brother” came in fourth from last, well behind “donuts” and “when my mom gets home from the grocery store”.
All of the details have apparently been worked out so it looks like I will be starting a four-plus month contract with Warner Brothers next Monday in Los Angeles. The last few months of retired life were most definitely an enjoyable time, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who might be considering an early retirement of their own. Going back to work after such a long break is going to feel weird.
On a completely random note, Tom McArdle ran a gutsy race to finish eighth at the NCAA cross-country championships today, while Jorge Torres absolutely beat up everyone, including two highly-touted Kenyans, on his way to becoming only the second American NCAA champion in the last decade (European or African recruits have won every year except for 1998). Meanwhile it’s after 7:00 PM and I still haven’t run today. Time to quit typing and lace up the shoes…
Random happy thing for the day: I stole this photo from an old high school friend’s web site. Enjoy.
Copyright unknown, this image has been floating around the internet in emails…
A quick update on the latest happenings in retired life:
- It looks like I may be coming (temporarily) out of retirement — the latest from LA is that the administrative issues are nearly worked out and they’d like me down there starting the Monday after Thanksgiving for a six month contract.
- The current photo gallery code is now available for those of you (Jason) who might be interested. You need to know Java and be willing to modify the code slightly for it to be of any use to you.
- Went to see a friend do amateur standup comedy last night, and had a surprisingly good time. If you’ve never been to an amateur show it’s a lot of fun since everyone up there is still trying to find their style, resulting in a wide variety of performances.
- The running mileage for the week looks like it might hit sixty, which would far and away be a new record for me. Reading about Tom McArdle and his improvement from running high mileage was a bigger inspiration than I originally realized.
I’ve gotten the last of the Alaska photos online, as well as photos from Egypt and various other trips I’ve taken in the past year — anything prior to that will have to wait until the next time I rent a slide scanner. All photos are linked to from the photos page. I still need to add descriptions to most of them, and there may be some broken links (please let me know if you encounter any). If you’ve got hundreds of photos of your own and want the code I’m using to build the photo galleries, I’ll make it available for download as soon as I find the time to package it up.
They say that when you’re waiting for a phone call the best way to get the phone to ring is to hop in the shower. I guess when waiting for a job offer the best thing to do is to post on the internet that you didn’t get it. I still don’t have the job, but they want to talk to me further later on this afternoon.
At this point it looks like I didn’t get the job in LA — they haven’t called, and they initially said they’d get back to me by Monday (today is Wednesday). It’s a bit of a surprise since they needed a very specific set of skills, but I guess it’s a tough market — yesterday eBay had a job fair to fill 183 positions, and six thousand people showed up.
Since I wasn’t eager to get back to work I may just bum around for a bit longer. In the technology world that’s sort of like career suicide since after six months your skills get stale, but cubicles and hundred hour weeks were never really the thing for me anyhow.
Joe, Sheila and I stayed up and went out to the Baylands to watch the Leonids meteor shower tonight. Light in the Bay Area made the viewing conditions less-than-perfect, but it was still pretty cool to see several hundred meteors over an hour long period. At the peak we had occasional bursts of eight or ten meteors simultaneously streaking down at us, and from time to time a big meteor would leave a green or red trail across the sky — definitely worth being dead tired tomorrow to get to see something like that.
While going through the logs today I discovered that a not-insignificant number of the hits to my site seem to be originating from an Italian porn site. I don’t know whether to be flattered or disgusted.
For the first time in my life I actually have enough time to run each day and also get plenty of rest. The result is that I ran forty miles last week and should hit fifty miles for this week. That’s only about half of what a good runner would be doing, but it’s as much as I have ever done (I was lazy in college). Who knows if I’ll be able to stick to this routine, but if I could I might finally be able to find out what I’m capable of — it’s an amazing feeling to test one’s limits, but very few people (myself included) ever find out exactly how much they’re capable of.
It’s tough not to get excited about running with people like Tom McArdle posting his training on the web and Dathan Ritzenhein reminding everyone of Steve Prefontaine. In addition, living in Palo Alto puts me within a few miles of the Nike Farm Team, so I’ll occasionally find myself at a restaurant sitting next to a table full of folks who are among the fastest distance runners in the country, or I’ll see various elite athletes out running on the roads. Anyhow, I’m a comparative nobody in the running world, and until I’ve been training seriously for a few months I probably should be ashamed to even mention anything to do with myself and running. Still, if I can keep at it the next few months could be a great chance to test my own limits.