Friday, July 27, 2007

This generation's Lord of the Rings?

I was thinking about Harry Potter the other day, and wondering how it will be looked back upon in 20 years.

We know it's a huge commercial success, making JK Rowling more money than she can possibly hope to spend in her lifetime. And we know it's had a huge cultural impact, with nonsense words like muggles being meaningful to (probably) the majority of the population. We know it's getting kids to read again, though some folks question whether it's having any significant impact on children's reading.

I can't really call it this generation's LOTR, though. LOTR was counter-cultural. It took decades for a successful mass-market movie adaptation to be made. LOTR became, in some ways, a commercial success despite the intentions of its author -- Harry Potter, not so much.

No, I think it's more accurate to say Harry Potter is this generation's Star Wars. A huge commercial enterprise around something which, once you look deeply into it, is more fluff than substance, but fun fluff nonetheless.

Maybe in a couple decades these kids can have their "new trilogy" where Rowling writes a prequel about the early years of James, Lilly, and Severus.... And we can all smile knowingly when they whine about how it's ruined their memories of the pure originals.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Punished my legs on Sunday

So, I broke my non-running streak and went for a tough run on Sunday. After all, what better way to reintroduce your legs to running after a week than with a big hill? So, I can feel it in my legs today, but much more importantly I feel good about getting back on the road after a short break.

I hit a weight loss milestone this weekend too. I was hoping to hit this weight by my birthday (Aug 20) and I'm almost a month early. So, that's encouraging, and exciting.

In unrelated news, I spent much more time this weekend reading the new Harry Potter than you'd expect, given how nice it was outside. Oh well. Gotta read it before the ending is spoiled for me. I've already heard more than I want to just walking the halls at work....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A week without running

For the first time since I started aggressively working on my fitness this year, I've gone a week without running.

I'd like to say this is part of my big plan, and that I am saving up my energy or recovering from an injury. The fact is that I've been busy, and it hasn't been enough of a priority to push other things out of the way.

So I thought I'd write about it as a way of trying to understand why this is. Why was it that during my Couch-to-5K program, I made time 3x a week no matter what, but right now I've managed to not find time for seven consecutive days?

I think I can break it down into several factors:
  1. Running outdoors has spoiled me; I look at the treadmill and think boredom (but don't necessarily have time to do other than the treadmill)
  2. I'm doing well, fitness-wise, and am making progress without the exercise
  3. I'm not tracking towards a planned objective
So, assuming that I want to be a better runner (and I am pretty sure I still do), what can I do to address those three points?
  1. Find time to run outside, even if it's just around my neighborhood. Accept that some workouts are just to maintain running fitness, not for fun, and sometimes the treadmill accomplishes that just fine.
  2. Remember that I've never been successful at keeping weight off without maintaining exercise.
  3. Plan an objective and track to it (pick a race, pick a training program to reach that race).
On the third point, many training programs are 9-12 weeks. So if I were to find a race in 2-3 months, I'd be able to track towards it. I've been talking about a fall race for a while, so maybe it's time to pick one and sign up. That should give me a motivation boost, no?

At the same time, I also want to open myself up to other options for point number two. If I'm just slumping on my running, I may need to pick up the slack elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Series 3 "Lite"?

A few months back, I said that if the Series 3 TiVo was $299, I would have argued with myself but eventually bought it.

Well, looks like I may have to look at those words a bit more seriously, in light of some leaked news out of TiVo-land.

If the rumors are true, for $299 you're getting dual HDTV tuners, the big selling point of the TiVo S3. There are a bunch of other minor changes, but that's what it boils down to.

On the other hand, my cable box HDTV recently got its firmware upgraded. Most of the annoying bugs are fixed, and I've learned to deal with the feature gaps between the DVR and the TiVo. Is it worth $299 to close those gaps? Especially when we're talking about saving money? Probably not.

Probably not.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

See what I read

I've added a new feature to the blog; a rolling list of items I've marked from my RSS reader. This is mainly stories I found interesting ... you probably won't :).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The best things in life are free

(or at least paid for by other people)

Last night, we got a last-minute invite to head over to a cabin by a lake in Phillipstown, owned by in-laws of in-laws. Said in-laws (Jess's brother and his family) were staying there for a couple nights. With no other plans, and an unexpected free evening, we took the long (well, 45 minutes) country drive (one of the more pleasant drives I've taken in this area) north, and ended up on a narrow dirt road that ended by a cabin on a lake.

We stayed for a bit over 3 hours, and in that time we fished, swam, sat by a fire, made s'mores, burned popcorn, and stood quietly on a dock watching lightning flash in the sky so far away we never heard thunder. The lightning-watching was especially memorable. We were looking up into the hills that surrounded the lake, seeing far-away lightning take a pitch-black sky and illuminate the shapes of distant clouds. Sometimes the lightnings would come with startling frequency, sometimes you could even make out the shapes of actual bolts of lightning. Other times it was just a vague flicker of light from afar. Either way, we realized we were seeing something special.

I can't remember a single more relaxing evening I've had on a work night. Those moments were precious, priceless even, and all it cost us was a willingness to say, "Sure, we'll go for a drive."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Who is that (un)masked man?

I'd had this goatee for six months now. I started it over the Christmas/New Years holiday, and maintained it until yesterday.

I'd been itching for a change, though. It kind of aggravated me, though it shouldn't have, that I had the same style facial hair as both my boss and his boss. And as it got warmer, the goatee got less and less appealing, trapping sweat and generally increasing the feeling of heat on hot humid days, especially days spent outdoors.

So in a fit of inspiration, I stepped out of the shower yesterday and cut the damn thing off.

I don't recognize myself in the mirror. It's honestly freaking me out. I see shapes and patterns in my facial structure which don't equate with "me". I reach for my face and pull back my hand quickly, in shock, like I touched something I unexpected and unpleasant.

I don't know how long it will take to get used to the clean face, but I know it's not going to be fun. I miss the scruffy bastard.