Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Welcome, Lucas

Michelle and Bill delivered their first child, Lucas Corey into the world this evening at 7:16. Welcome to the wide world, Lucas. I hope you enjoy your stay.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Need to Recover

Alison and I had a busy weekend.

On Friday, we drove to the Philadelphia area and met up with my grad-school friend Ketan and his wife Patricia.* Patricia is also a Georgia Tech graduate, and she was, very briefly, Alison's last roommate in Atlanta. We had a nice dinner** with Ketan and Patricia, and they were kind enough to put us up for the night.

On Saturday, I spent all day at an Evolution autocross school,*** which was the event that instigated the whole trip. Meanwhile, Alison spent the day with Ketan, Patricia, and their nephew Dhruv visiting the science museum in Philly. I met up with all four of them in the evening and, after dinner, Alison and I drove into the city to see my Rice roommate and Joint Best Man, Shuaib. After some Guitar Hero World Tour, we all crashed at his place.

On Sunday, the three of us enjoyed a nice breakfast before Alison and I headed back to the Grondulbarn in Maryland. We then set to work finishing wiring the house for surround sound. Apparently our coax/network-cable project wasn't arduous enough for us. The wire-running went well enough, but the 'barn contained no new Cracker Jack style surprises, like last time.

So, it was a fun and productive weekend, but not exactly a restful one. I think I need another weekend to recover from this one.

* Be sure to pronounce this name as if you were Bolivian.

** Mmmm, sushi.

*** I hope to say a bit more about the school in a later post.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

PR: Miscellany

Tonight, I recorded a PR on today's workout: 7 rounds exactly. That's an improvement of 2/3 round over my previous best. I'll have to put in a big effort to beat that score next time.

Afterwards, I experimented with my new sandbag, which I've loaded to about 73 pounds. It's very unwieldy, and much harder to manage than a similar-weight dumbbell or barbell, but that is, after all, the point.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Risto! No, it's not What You Say when Doing Magic Tricks.

Regular readers of our blog know that I've been doing CrossFit for about 2.5 years now. I like that it incorporates multiple exercise modalities and tries to provide general, functional fitness. Not surprisingly, CrossFit includes a bit of Olympic weightlifting,* which is great for developing explosive power and good for developing balance and flexibility. The Olympic lifts are also a lot of fun, at least in my opinion. The skill element is so great that I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I execute a lift properly.

One problem with these lifts, though, is that it's difficult to do them correctly with the typical cushioned athletic footwear. Shoes that are great for jumping, running, and other activities will leave you without enough stability when you are accelerating more than your bodyweight off the floor, or, especially, when you are at the bottom of the overhead squat phase of the snatch. Thus, I recently ordered a pair of Risto weightlifting shoes from Gwen Sisto and Ivan Rojas.** Gwen spent a lot of time helping me with the sizing. Determing the correct shoe size over the internet is always a challenge for me, in part because I'm so picky about it, and in part because my feet are unusually small. Sadly, the first pair were too big---I like my shoes to fit snugly---but Gwen sent out the next smaller size. The new shoes arrived today, and they fit quite well. So, after doing yesterday's workout of the day---I'm a day behind---in the new shoes, I practiced my overhead squat, clean and jerk, and snatch. Everything felt much better. I still have a lot of work to do in order to perfect my technique, but the shoes are already helping.

The Risto shoes, by the way, are hand-made in Columbia with local-to-there materials. The price is very competitive with other weightlifting shoes, and I must say that the service I received was very good. So, if you do any Olympic lifts, I recommend tyring dedicated weightlifting shoes, and, if you do, I further recommend that you give Gwen and Ivan your business.

* That's the snatch and the clean and jerk, and variations thereupon. Don't confuse weightlifting with powerlifting or weight training.

** Wife and husband, respectively. You can see guess where the brand name came from.

Friday, June 19, 2009


This is the most geektastically funny xkcd in recent memory.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Formula One Teams Association to Create New Series for 2010

If the Formula One Teas Association follows through with their announced intention to create their own race series in 2010, that would be huge news in the mortorsports world.

Lessons Newton Taught Us: Tails

Here's more valuable knowledge I would never have acquired without our critter:
I wish I had a tail.
I mean, I could wag it when happy, hang it low when frightened, move it slowly back and forth when uncertain, and chase it when excited. Wouldn't that be great?


I went up into our attic for the first time today, to run cable as part of our plan to wire the Grondulbarn for the 21st century. While there, I discovered these interesting artifacts positioned just next to the trapdoor:
  • A machete, with scabbard, made in 1945.
  • The barrel of a double-barreled shotgun. Don't ask me where the rest of the weapon is.
  • A Winchester Model 1894 .30-30 lever-action rifle, in a leatherette case.

I checked that the rifle was unloaded, and Alison called the police to come run its serial number, to see if it had been stolen.

While we waited, I got Google smart on the rifle. The Model 1894, or Model 94, it turns out, was one of the most popular hunting rifles ever made. About 7.5 million were made during its 112-year production period, which started, not surprisingly, in 1894. The internet tells me, based on the serial number, that this particular weapon was made in 1974. The gun is in near-new condition; there's essentially no wear or rust on it. Interestingly, my father owns a much earlier example of the Model 1894; that weapon belonged to his grandfather and was made, if I recall correctly, right around 1900. My dad's rifle, in addition to looking both more aged and more worn, has an old-school octagonal barrel in contrast to the round barrel on the gun we found in the attic. The newer rifle also has a safety on the lever; I'm not sure if my dad's has that feature.

The 3 policemen who arrived at our door---apparently, it was a slow night for crime fighting in Montgomery Village---ran the serial number, and found that the rifle was "clean." I've decided to keep it. So, suddenly and unexpectedly, we own a gun. Now I need to learn how to safely operate it.

And I guess I need a gun rack for my Miata.

The Grondulbarn will be Wired

Thanks to Ketan's suggestion, we've decided to take advantage of the partially disassembled state of our house by wiring it up with coax and networking cables. We are routing coax to most of the rooms so that we will have the option of cable TV in each of them. Also, we're running Cat 6 cable to the same rooms, so that we can set up a home network that will run at up to 1 Gb/s, much faster than our wireless network can. Eventually, we plan to get rid of cable and stream video over the network, so additional bandwidth will be critical.

To me, this aspect of our reconstruction project is easily the most interesting.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Future Futurama

Great news, everyone! After several years away from broadcast TV and a couple in the wilderness of direct-to-DVD, Futurama has been picked up for a 26-episode season by Comedy Central.

Forza 3

Speaking of the Xbox 360, I'm very excited about all the features of the upcoming Forza Motorsport 3. Is it October yet?

Even Felicia

Even Felicia Day looks silly when playing with Microsoft's new Natal full-body interface for the Xbox 360. Keep that in mind when considering what you would look like.

And It Goes On

I apologize for the light posting of late; we are still busy rebuilding the house. On the upside, Ketan suggested I take this opportunity to run both networking and coax cables throughout the house, so that's my new plan.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

DJ Hero

Are you bored with your fake guitar, fake drums, and fake microphone?  How about a fake turntable?  That's right, DJ Hero is coming.  

Monday, June 01, 2009

Alien Prequel?

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm not going to place it in my "Who ordered that?" category, but I'm not sure I endorse the idea.

My Thumbs!

Guess what arrived on my doorsted today: Olympic Weightlifting, by Greg Everett, the guy who taught the seminars I attended. I'm excited put it and my new bumper plates to work.

PR: Thruster

I set a new personal record for 1-rep maximum on the thruster* last Friday: 170 pounds. That's only a 1-pound increase, but I feel that I went down lower on the front squat part, so I'm pretty happy with it.

* Be sure to watch through the end, to see Annie's face after the last rep.

PR: Barbara

Last Wednesday, I set a new PR for Barbara: a total time of 29:07. I'm fairly please with that performance.