Monday, January 31, 2005

Monday Update; The Geek Has Won

My inner geek boiled over this weekend. He took over my body, demanded by credit card, and wouldn't stop until the stores closed.

What actually happened is that we did a first run at figuring out our taxes. Normally, Jess works but makes substantially less money than I do. This causes her taxes to get withheld at a lower rate, so I end up having to withhold more to make up for this. Except she barely worked last year, so our refund is going to be a nice little injection of cash. We decided that while we couldn't afford to go crazy with it, we could allow ourselves to buy a few things.

First on my list was an alleviation of my computer's growing pains when it comes to storage. This is an entirely separate issue (or, as you might say, "a whole nother thing"), because little did I know how much goddamn progress the HDD world was making in my absence. PATA, SATA ... these aren't specialty drives anymore; evidently everyone has them. Well, my ancient motherboard (which I thought was still fairly up to date) doesn't support them, so I either had to buy a controller card with the drive or buy an older tech drive. I found a nice fat normal EIDE drive over at Circuit City on sale for the same price as drive + controller elsewhere, so I decided to just buy the drive. I also grabbed an external HDD, which I'll use for offsite backup, to listen to my MP3s at work, and to alleviate the process of swapping out one drive for another when I do the upgrade (later today).

But, yeah. While I was at Circuit City is when the inner geek took over.

See, I've been lusting after HD TV for a long time. I've been telling myself I wasn't going to upgrade until I could do it right -- redo a room as a home theater, get a 40"+ screen, etc. Well, who knows when that will ever happen? So I started looking at CRT HDTVs which would fit into our current entertainment center cabinet (can't justify spending on LCD). Not a lot of options, especially in 16:9 sets. There was one questionable 30" set which put the speakers under the screen instead of on the sides, which might have fit. But it had a really shoddy reputation (shoddy as in "I returned 3 of them before I gave up and bought a better one"). The other problem is that 27" range 16:9 TVs give you a fairly small screen for watching 4:3 content (say, standard cable, which is what Jess spends a lot of time watching). As much as it pained me to admit it, I was probably going to be better off getting a 4:3 set.

Sony to the rescue! Last year they introduced a 27" 4:3 HDTV set. Feature-packed, reliable, and dead sexy. Best of all, it fit in the room. I read up on it recently and saw that Circuit City was selling it at 10% off AND offering interest-free financing for 2 years if you bought it. With a price tag of 800 (including tax and extended warranty, which I usually skip but with an HD set it seemed worthwhile), that meant I wouldn't even need to use my tax refund; I could just pay it off at my leisure. What's funny is that I think I did the same thing with the TV we are replacing, back in '97. I think it cost about this much too.

To cap off this orgy of capitalistic outlay, Jess told me she wanted to sign up for NetFlix. Come again? Turns out she loves to watch DVDs with the subtitles on while running on the treadmill, and she's burned through the movies she cares about at home and would love to have a steady supply of them coming in. Well, yeah, sure! Done! Welcome to NetFlix. She's going to cancel her Curves membership which will more than balance out the price of NetFlix (because she never goes anymore and will be using the treadmill instead).

I'm sure the sticker shock will hit me soon enough. For now, I'm basking in the electronic glow of it all. I now have all 9,000-something music tracks at my fingertips at work, I have a 250 GB HDD waiting to be installed at home, and I have a TV which looks pretty goddamn good if I say so myself. Now I just gotta call Charter and get my HD cable set up. More geeky goodness on the way. I might even take the HDD I'm replacing out of my home system and try and put it in my TiVo. If only this TiVo could handle HD. Ah well ... looks like something else to geek out about later.

Oh, and if you're a thief trying to figure out my address so you can steal all my new shit, please don't.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Brief Movie Review: The Butterfly Effect

I've had a lot of success lately with enjoying movies by setting low expectations. This was no different. For whatever reason, I had knocked this movie down a few notches in my mind as a cookie-cutter thriller, maybe a sort of weird knockoff of Final Destination.

Hmm, yeah, not at all.

This movie was fairly smart, dark, almost edgy in a few spots. Overall I'd recommend it, warts and all. It wasn't perfect; the writing at times seemed intentionally dumbed down and the cliched behavior at times was a bit much. But through it all the movie was imaginative and engaging, and really what more do you want?

On a binary scale, this receives a "yes." On a broader scale, it would tend towards the low end of above average. Enjoyable but probably not worth putting aside something you know you'll love.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Fitness Foolishness

Ok, enough geekiness. Back to running! While I keep finding reasons to eat badly, my exercise is managing to keep up (barely!).

Some kindhearted folks over at the Cool Running Forums convinced me that while I may need to build aerobic capacity and base mileage, I need to occasionally mix it up with a little speed. Just once or twice a week. I'm going to take their advice, if for no other reason than that it keeps me more interested.

My current 10K training schedule has two short runs a week, one medium run, and one long. The long and medium I will run at my recovery pace (70% reserve heart rate) and my two shorts I will run faster. How much faster? I'm not sure. Today I just set a pace and didn't worry about my HR. It ended up between 85-90% of reserve HR, which is probably a touch too high. Aiming for 80-85 is probably smarter.

In other news, 24 is still good (great), SG-1 chose what I felt was a mediocre episode to come back from their break (though SG:Atlantis was badass), and while Amazing Race is finishing up, Survivor is coming back. My TiVo gets no rest.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Have Some Snow

Good 20 inches here.


Also, new pointless picture of me at my desk, playing World of Warcraft.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

All Geek

Ok. This update has nothing to do with running. I promise.

First off, let's talk World of Warcraft. It appears my friend Clint is buying a copy. His conversion is complete. Of course, now when he finds something to hate about the game, it'll be my fault. Oh well.

I had an interesting party experience the other night, when my L16 hunter was joined by a L16 Rogue for some partying to finish a few quests. One thing I noticed is that my lack of secondary tradeskills (first aid and cooking) really bit me when it came to downtime. When soloing, a little extra downtime is no big deal. But in a party, your group mates are patiently waiting for you to regen ... ugh. Oh well. So, yeah. Time to powerlevel my tradeskills. Figure I can fish for a while, cook the fish, and then when I'm bored to tears go kill humanoids, get cloth, and make bandages. *yawn*

Of course, if Clint doesn't play on the same servers I already have characters, I might need to spread myself even thinner among different places to play. Gah!

Ok, switching gears to another geeky subject, let's talk about TV shows. Bear with me; it's geeky. Friday night the Sci-Fi channel will start showing us SG-1, SG: Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica every week. My TiVo might just catch fire from all that activity in one night. Add to this my weekly Huff, Amazing Race, 24, Lost, and Alias and we're up to 8 hours of TV a week not counting sports. This could be some kind of record for me. I'm serious. I'm not sure I can take it. How the hell am I supposed to watch this much TV and still keep up all my WoW characters? Not to mention I've got this pesky Real Life I'm supposed to be living. WTF?

Clearly, something has to give.

I vote work.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

More Running?

I know I said this blog wasn't about running, but I seem to end up posting about it a lot. I even specifically said I needed some geek credibility after my last post, and here I am talking about running again. Sorry.

This morning I decided to do a little experimentation on my HRM training. First off, I skipped my morning coffee (rather, I delayed it until after my run). Second, I allowed myself about 3-4 bpm of wiggle room from my computed recovery ceiling. If my HR spiked within that zone, I watched it ... as long as it fell within 10-15 seconds, I didn't stop to walk. If I stayed at +3 or higher for longer than that, I did a walk break.

The results were spectacular. I maintained an average pace of 15:00 instead of 15:30 like my last couple workouts. My HR didn't go above 150 until after an entire mile of running, and even then it would hover at 152-154 for a few seconds and then drop back down to 148-150. It wasn't until well into my second mile that I started needing to take walk breaks, and the walk breaks were measurable in the dozen-seconds zone. Overall I probably only took 4 walk breaks instead of the ten or so I took the last few workouts, with considerably less disruption on my average pace.

So, yeah, the coffee will have to wait until post-workout, I guess.

After I finished my run I decided to try and test my HRMax by doing hill intervals on the treadmill. I did 3 intervals at 12:00 pace on a 10% incline. I know that may not sound that intense but I was near the limit of my capabilities there. My HR got up to 192 on the third interval and I called that close enough. My body feels like it's still recovering.

10K Training Progress: 2 workouts down, 33 to go. 5.5 miles down, 117 to go!

Maybe I'll write a post about World of Warcraft or something soon. Gotta get all this jock out of my system.

(PS 24 still awesome)
(PPS Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica all have new episodes this Friday. Is that geeky enough?)

Monday, January 17, 2005

Monday Bloody Monday (no actual blood)

Playoff football ... it makes January the true "most wonderful time of the year." Gotta love it.

My weekend was pretty relaxed and not very productive, but that's the way it goes. I did manage to get Clint hooked on World of Warcraft, and watched (parts of) all four NFL games. I sat my mother down in front of the TV with the 24 Season One DVDs and she's now passed where I've seen. Oh well; I can catch up. New episode tonight, too. W00t.

In other news:
  • The HRM training regimen is still busting my balls. Reports from the front indicate that some folks find the first "couple hundred miles" difficult as they adjust. I have a 9-week training schedule I'm going to stick to. If I still hate it then, I'm chucking it, even if that's only 130 miles.
  • Someone online suggested that I not worry about my recovery ceiling of 151 bpm, but instead run as slow as I can without breaking up my form. This will result in slower aerobic gains but will not be as frustrating. I may try that in a week or two if I'm still having problems.
  • I will probably try to get a solid max HR reading tomorrow. Do 2 miles slow, then start to speed up. As I get to 3, do the hill interval thing to try and measure my max HR.
  • A running store opened up in Westboro. May have to go there and get fitted for new shoes soon, if I want to have new shoes for the 10K in March.
Wow, how many running-related bullets is that? I need to do something to show some geek credibility after that. Maybe tomorrow....

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy

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No weekend update yet. High point of the weekend is encapsulated in the image above, anyway.

Friday, January 14, 2005


I once determined that I could maximize my joy in life if I stopped looking forward to future events. For example, if you spend all week looking forward to Friday, you are missing out on possible joy during those other days.

This pseudo-zen attitude is very hard to maintain, and in the spirit of violating it, I say I'm very glad it's Friday.

Some random bloggy tidbits for today:

I ran 11 miles this week. I did so at an absurdly slow pace as I try to build my aerobic base capacity by running below a certain recovery ceiling (151 bpm). I'm going to give this training method two months of my life (coincidentally, the two months I'll be training for the 10K), and if I don't see an improvement during that time I'm going to throw it out and try something else. Even if it means I cannot run on my "slow" days, so be it. I'll run on fast days and bike on slow days if I have to, but I will go mad if from now on I have to run at 15:00 every time I run. MAD!

Speaking of running, the Garmin Forerunner 301 is starting to show up at various places for pre-order. Amazon has it at 300 but I've seen it as low as 215. Hopefully Amazon will figure out that they need to cut the price if they want to sell it. Still, it's a combined GPS and HRM and pretty much screams running geekery to me. For ~200 it's very tempting. It would be more tempting if I actually had ~200 available to me. Holiday bills plus tuition plus unexpected travel expenses late last year have pretty much tapped us out moneywise. Tax refund is going to be very useful this year.

Speaking of gadgets I can't afford, I have decided my next computer purchase will likely be an external HDD. I just have to decide how I want to use it.
  • Theory one is that I move all my media onto it (music and movie files) to give me more HDD space inside my system for other stuff (like, uhm, games I guess). I then transport it back and forth to work so that I have my full music collection at work and at home. Risk: if the unit goes south, bye-bye media collection.
  • Theory two is that I use it as an offsite backup. I copy (not move) all my media files as well as other things I need backed up. I take it to work and leave it there during the work week. On weekends I take it home and sync up (store any new media content, backup as needed). It doesn't free up any HDD space on my system but is otherwise a great solution to my "I wish I had that song at work" problem.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Watch out, it's Thursday

Boring story time! This could be my least-interesting blog entry yet!

In Middle School, I had a friend named Dave. Dave, like myself, was a bit too smart and a bit too geeky for his own good. Part of the problem was that Dave suffered from a few ailments, including one which was scheduled to kill him before he turned 25. This will impact your outlook on life, I'm sure. Add to the mix a fairly unstable family with a father he never talked about, a stepfather he didn't like, and an overprotective mother, and you see some of the picture.

For a while, Dave and I were pretty inseparable. At one point, one of us was describing the other to someone, and said, "Yeah, he's usually a nice guy, but don't mess with him on Thursdays." This was, I swear, completely random. It was like an early-teen attempt at bizarre humor, but whichever of us did it, our delivery was completely off. Nobody realized it was a joke.

This thing took on a life of its own. Maybe the incident is taking on a larger importance in my mind than it really had, but honestly I have distinct memories of people mentioning Thursdays for a good chunk of one year of my schooling, for absolutely no reason at all. I'm talking teachers, students, family members ... whatever. It was really odd.

So, yeah, it's Thursday. Thursday the 13th. Ph34r.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The week drags on

I don't want to get into the habit necessarily of updating every day, but for now it seems to be a good way to play around with it and get a feel for what kind of posts I want to make.

So, with that in mind, Happy Tuesday to all of you (crickets chirp).

I stayed up too late last night dealing with admin issues in the online community I help run. I was hoping to sneak in and actually play some computer games after 24 last night, but it was clearly not meant to be as by the time I finished up it was midnight and I was getting up in less than 6 hours.

On the plus side, I got in a short run yesterday (2.5 miles) and went for a stroll in the mild winter air at lunchtime. It felt good to get the blood flowing and heart pumping a little. Hopefully my lungs will not riot. I just found out that the lady in the cafeteria has bronchitis and was out a few days. Lovely. I'm just going to assume my system kicked this chest cold's ass before it could turn into anything that nasty.

Random tidbits:
  • My mother's hotmail account categorizes mail to her from my GMail account as Spam. WTG Microsoft.
  • We expect my brother-in-law home from the Middle East before Feb 28.
  • If Randy Moss gets fined more for a fake moon than players do for a real flip-off, I'll be disappointed.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Weekend Update

Ok, here's my first shot at posting a real honest-to-goodness blog entry. Let the boredom commence.

Obviously, my first question is who my audience is. Let's be honest, nobody is reading this but me and spam-bots, but it is searchable and someone might accidentally stumble onto it. So, hi there. Plus, I might point friends at it (hi Clint). So far, that's fine. But then you get that hairy situation where I bitch about my family and then my family finds my blog someday and I am forced to fall upon my sword to restore honor to my clan or something.

Yeah. So anyway.

The weekend was not bad, as weekends go. I mean, I spent a lot of time playing World of Warcraft on Saturday. I watched (parts of) four football games, and two hours each of Alias and 24. I had brunch with good generous friends and ate too much food.

On the "not so cool" side of things, insert miscellaneous stories about the challenges of playing caretaker for a depressed mother who is needier than expected. Is that vague enough to avoid the necessary sword-falling-on? Only time will tell! I also got zero exercise. My hiking boots are staring at me and trying to make me feel guilty. It's working, especially since I know I hate walking in the woods in the summer (bugs!) so I should do it now.

Anyway, I think it balanced out okay, all things considered.

Random ramblings?
  • Nice to see Northborough in the news.
  • Our WoW guild has over 500 characters in it, which starts to expose problems in the guild management UI. We're being asked to de-guild alternate characters we don't play, as we only have 150-200 actual individuals playing those characters. I have 3 characters and play them all. If this is the worst thing that happens to me this week, I guess I'm doing ok.
  • 24 is hot shit (look, a swear-word! Let the sword-falling commence!).
  • My gym bag is packed and I'm going to go work out later this morning. It'll be my first real workout in like ten days. Fortunately I don't appear to be in too much trouble from those ten days; only up a pound from my New Year's Eve weight (every ounce well worth it, mmmm breakfast).
  • My brother-in-law and his wife want me to run a St. Patrick's 10K with them in March. I am understandably nervous about this but it certainly would be cool.
  • I'll probably putz around with the various templates to make this blog prettier. I might add links, too. The insanity!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I am Fox's bitch

I saw Alias the other night, and thought it was pretty good. I mean, we all know Jennifer Garner is totally hawt, but it has more going for it than just that.

Then I tuned into Fox tonight for the first 2 hours of season 4 of 24.

Yeah, never mind what I said about Alias. I'm sorry I ever strayed, Fox. You may be a scumsucking corporation out to destroy us all, but I'll be damned if you can't keep us happy while you do it.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Welcome to Eager Feet

The title is stolen from Tolkien, but this isn't any kind of LOTR fansite. It's just a pair of easily remembered words that seem to fit my life pretty well.

I want to live my life with eager feet. I want every unknown to excite me, and I want to charge into it with a youthful hunger for new experiences. In reality, it's a constant struggle to remind myself that while the old and known is comfortable, the new and unknown is where true growth and wonder can happen.

In that spirit, I took a friend's advice and set this little blog up. If nothing else, it will give me something to tinker with and a place to dump my boring opinions on movies, books, and video games. At best? Well, "whither then? I cannot say."