Tuesday, August 31, 2004

House Painting Finish

The house painting job I mentioned previously is nearly complete. What remains to do are a few touch up items and some trim. A few external fixtures are still taped or wrapped in plastic so I know they'll be back to finish up tomorrow. Besides, they left some ladders in the side yard and I know they will need those back!

New Color

For comparison, here is a pic of the previous color:

Monday, August 30, 2004

Spectate Ironman Canada (?)

I intended to drive out to Penticton and spectate Ironman Canada. I really just wanted to see the 12+ hour finishers, because if I were to participate, that's where I'd be. Heck, I'd likely be in the 14+ hour group! So I planned to leave in the afternoon for Penticton and not be there the entire time.

Spectating Ironman Canada is one of the few ways to guarentee an entry spot. This event is so popular it has a qualifier system - do well at some other races and you'll earn an entry spot! If that isn't an option, the line forms at 10 a.m. the following day, and you are allowed to register yourself and one friend. Any remaining spots enter an online raffle after a few days.

Showing up and waiting in line was my original plan... except over that past few weeks I really though about whether or not I could really find the time to train for an Ironman. Given I wind up juggling around my olympic distance training, and fell far behind on a half-ironman training plan, I talked myself out of an ironman next year. Therefore, it would have been a really long round trip drive to Penticton to not sign up. So I didn't go. Instead, I followed the coverage on Ironman Live for a while.

In the afternoon, Gail and I walked around Vancouver some more, and visited the "James Bond 007" special event at Science World. I'm a James Bond fan, even though most of the movies are just so-so. Still, I enjoy watching them. Some of my favorites are From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights, and GoldenEye. Thunderball is an interesting one also, because it was remade as Never Say Never Again!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Vancouver Wedding

It was a drizzly day in Vancouver so Gail and I ducked into Urban Fare, an upscale grocery store, to get out of the rain. We tried a few items on various sample trays, and found a huge ceiling mirror in one part of the store.

At Urban Fare

Later at her friend's wedding, Gail was busy taking pictures. Her gift to the couple was a photo album, so she was busy taking pics and printing them out using her photo printer. The guests were so excited to see the wedding album being constructed on the spot, and of course receive a copy of their photo.

I think Gail could open a small business doing this service: event photos, on-site printing a copy for each guest, and delivery of a photo album plus a CD of all the pics! Some extra work could be digital photography touch-up, and so forth.

Traffic Circle at the Sheraton

Friday, August 27, 2004

House Painting Start

As a home owner I have my share of improvements and maintenance chores. Earlier this year I replaced my furnace, because it was the original one that came with my house and therefore was a bit over 20 years old. It was working fine, but I decided to replace it before the winter just in case. Besides, a newer furnace should run more efficiently.

Another maintenance item my house needs is exterior painting. It doesn't look bad, but one side of my house looks a bit worn, and some of the paint is peeling off the chimney. I was going to wait until next summer, but I took a good look one day while mowing the lawn and decided I would try to schedule it to happen this year.

The side of my house that looks worn is the two story side, so when you add in the roof height that side is at least 25 feet tall, maybe even taller. I could paint the other three sides without too much difficulty (I could get a 10 foot ladder and reach almost everywhere) but I don't want to be that far off the ground painting the last side. So rather than wait until my parents visit next year and draft my father into helping me paint, I just hired a company.

They came by to pressure wash the house in preperation for painting. After a few more days they came by and painted two test patches of colors I picked out: Modest White and Simplify Beige.

Paint Colors

The test patch shows the original color, around the upper and left edges. The bottom shows one and two coats of white, and above that is two coats of beige. I want to lighten the color of my house a bit, so I'll go with two coats of white. My house is a darker color than that, and will show through the two coats of paint and give me the result I am looking for. The trim will be white, and since there isn't a darker color underneath it will come out looking white, just like in the picture.

I'm not sure when they will start painting, as we are currently in a week of mild rainy weather. The convenient thing about exterior painting is I don't need to be present at all, so they will start when they think the timing is right.

If I feel the urge to paint something myself, there is always my fence... ;)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Good Week At Work

This week at work was much better. I chased down two memory leaks, and fixed them. Friday afternoon I was assigned another five more to hunt down!

What is a memory or resource leak? How about an analogy. You are at a restaurant and notice the guy at the next table keeps asking the wait staff for silverware. The staff never questions him and keeps bringing silverware until it is piled all over his table. Eventually, there isn't anymore clean silverware anywhere in the restaurant. At this point, even though tables are available, new customers can't eat their food.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Some Tri Stats...

You know how some people really get into baseball statistics, studying averages of all kinds? I can relate, because I pore over my triathlon results. I usually look at percentiles because it is difficult to compare race times directly, even if they are the same distance class - tri courses vary in difficulty, due to hills, winds, and other factors like the weather or course (mis)measurement. Presumably, these affect everybody and thus percentile comparison is best.

First, I'm a solid middle-to-back of packer. At sprints, I can finish somewhere in the middle. But at olys, I'm near the back. There are many reasons for this, chief among them is the fact sprints draw people that are newer to the sport. You have to start somewhere, and while I have a friend whose first triathlon was a half-ironman (!!), most people opt for a gentler entry point.

My last tri of 2003 was the Kirkland tri, a sprint. At that race, I was 550th out of 1063 in the swim, 639th out of 1060 in the bike, and 480th out of 1057 in the run, for an overall 508th out of 984. A few people drop out as the race progresses, which is why 1063 finished the swim, but only 1060 completed the bike, and 1057 completed the run. Why the big drop to 984 overall? That's because people who are on a relay team are counted in the individual stats, but for the overall results they are placed separately.

At Kirkland last year, percentile-wise (lower is better), I was 51.7% in the swim, 60.3% in the bike, 45.4% in the run, and 51.6% overall. Percentile-wise, running was my strongest and biking was my weakest. I'm a slow swimmer and my explanation for finishing near the median is that many people in sprint tris breast stroke the swim, so the average is skewed by them.

Another view: out of the water I was 550th, by the end of the bike I was 583rd (this placing is listed as another column in the results), and by the end of the run I was 508th. So I gave up some spots on the bike but managed to reel in a few competitors on the run.

Things are a bit different at an olympic tri! At my most recent oly, Apple Capital, I was 114th out of 121 in the swim, 110th out of 120 in the bike, 99th out of 118 in the run, for an overall 97th out of 107.

Percentile-wise, that is 94.2% in the swim, 91.7% in the bike, 83.9% in the run, and 90.7% overall. Obviously, more serious athletes show up at olys! The results are more in line with what I expect: weakest on the swim, strongest on the run ("strongest" is relative of course).

At Apple Capital, I was 114th after the swim, 111th after the bike, and 97th after the run. This is excellent - I caught people and improved my standing the entire time. Of course, the people I caught were my fellow back-of-packers!

I extracted a little more information from the results as well - how far away from the median I was in each discipline. For the swim, the median time was 22:51, for the bike it was 1:12:27, and for the run it was 50:26. I need to improve my swim 23%, my bike 13%, and my run 13% to achieve the median overall times, based on the Apple Capital results. The median overall time was about 2:32, which is about 24 minutes better than I did.

The swim is unrealistic, 23% better will take all off-season of work, perhaps even more than just one year. But the bike and run are tantalizing, 13% better is something I could achieve for next season if I really worked on it. Or at least make a major dent into it.

My next tris are four weeks away, so I have a bit of time to attempt to "improve" this season. To that end, I plan a speed session for running and biking each week. Nothing too brutal, just a workout where I push a bit harder than usual. Normally I don't even bother, as I just work on endurance and train slow and easy. This methodology has prevented me from injuring myself and thus missing the event entirely.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Olympics Junkie

I'll watch nearly any sport in the olympics.

Archery? Check. Air pistol? Check. Water polo? Mixed doubles badminton? Check. 50 meter 3 position rifle? Why not. Lightweight double sculls rowing? Slalom canoe? Yes. Gymnastics? Yes. Track and field steeplechase? Sure, it is entertaining. Men or women's 20K walk? I guess... they'll just broadcast a clip here and there anyway, if that. Group rhythmic gymnastics? Hmm.. okay. Men's synchronized 10 meter platform diving? Yes, but watching the women's competition is easier for me. ;)

Sports I actually participate are the ones I really want to watch: indoor volleyball, men or women's? Yes. Triathlon? Yes! Running events? Yes! This time around I'm excited about cycling and swimming as well. Although I don't really play beach volleyball, I will nevertheless search for any TV coverage, especially of the women's matches. ;)

The one exception is boxing, I just don't like it. That is probably because the idea of rendering your opponent unconcious through repeated blows to the head just doesn't appeal to me.

One sport I have never seen broadcast is team handball, a mix of basketball and soccer. I used to play that in high school during P.E. when it rained and we had to stay inside. The coach used to explain the rules and tell us, as we stared in disbelief there was such a sport, that team handball was in the olympics. Sure enough, it entered as an outdoor game in 1936 at Berlin, but has since moved indoors.

In addition to NBC coverage, I can also watch CBC coverage since I live near Canada. I flip between the NBC coverage and the CBC coverage constantly, and work my ReplayTV as well. Generally I'll tape certain afternoon broadcasts from NBC or CBC, then skim at 4X speed to find events I'm interested in or haven't seen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Gizmo Rewards

One of the reasons I have so many gizmos is I reward myself with them. For instance, in March I had some pretty bad food poisoning, a solid nine or ten hours of sickness, and I bought myself an iPod Mini afterwards!

Since I was quite please with how the Apple Capital triathlon went, I spent the entire drive home thinking about what I could get myself. The choices are either a) upgrade my Nokia cell phone to the Motorola V400, or b) buy some music from the iTunes store.

I'm leaning towards the music, since I don't really need a fancier cell phone, and there are several cd's I'd like to buy.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Apple Capital Triathlon

This morning was my 3rd olympic triathlon of the season. Good thing it started at 9:00 because I overslept until 7:30, rushed around to get ready, checked out of the hotel and drove to the event site arriving at 8:50. I barely had time to pick up my registration info and set my transition zone before I was in the water swimming!

The tri started in three waves: all women and relay teams, men 34 and under, men 35 and over. Since I was in the last wave it gave me a few extra minutes to prepare, but it also meant I was one of the last people out of the water - I am a slow swimmer. I had a great swim and came out at 0:29:46! In fact, the swim was so good for me I suspect the course was a bit short. :)

The tri was held at Daroga State Park, which is on the shores of the Columbia River, a bit north of Wenatchee in central Washington. It is hilly as you can see from the picture below, and that meant the first thing on the bike course was a climb out of the park to the highway, a climb that continued alongside the road for a few miles. The bike course was a simple out-and-back along a highway, which was uneventful other than the headwind and heat. Bike time was 1:23:27, a great ride for me considering the hills.

The run course was a double loop, which was totally devoid of mile markers. I only knew I went through 5K when I passed the starting area. As an extra challenge, the run course climbed the same hill out of the park to the highway. At this time, it was at least 90 degrees, and I was thinking that this event really needs to start earlier - but in that case I would have missed it. Anyway, I play a game with myself at olympic distance tris, where I check the time when I have 5K to go - to see if it is feasible for me to break three hours. Today I was under 2:30 when I went through 5K, so I knew I could do it, with some effort. So I dug in and ran as fast as my various side stiches and minor cramps would allow, and did the 10K run in 0:58:49, good enough for a 2:56:40 overall time!

So, a great day for me - only the second time I've broken three hours at an olympic distance tri, and this was far more challenging then the other one I broke three hours at.

I liked this tri - it had a small, local feel to it. But I'm not sure I'd do it again because of the heat. It was over 90 degrees for most of the bike and run, and the announcer kept mentioning that we lucked out as far as weather - normally it is even warmer! Well, that doesn't sound like much fun so next year I'll likely do the Beaver Lake tri again.

Daroga State Park

This is the view of the Daroga State Park area, the event site. In view is the swim area on the Columbia River - if you look closely you can an orange buoy that marks the swim course.

After the race

Here I am posing wearing my snazzy SeaTri bike jersey.

Heart rate and Elevation profile

heart rate 040815

Check out the bike course elevation - the leftmost two large bumps in the graph. The run was also a bit hilly as well. My heart rate crept up the entire run, to nearly 90% (185-190 beats per minute for me). So I was working hard. ;)

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Starting up Exercise

I have a few friends who are starting out on exercise programs. It is FASCINATING for me to read about it from their viewpoint. It's always tough to make a change like that, and I am happy to see them gutting it out.

It has been a tough week - work was really busy and I had a friend visit from out-of-town one day. Recently, while I was running, I thought back to what it was like when I started to exercise...

I had tried twice when I lived in Houston. As a student, I ran a lap around campus two or three times, taking plenty of walking breaks. Years later, I ran with some co-workers during lunch, in the hot and humid Houston weather, and also gave that up after two of three times, because it was just miserable.

When I moved to Seattle in 1997, I decided to get healthier. I didn't do anything about that for my first year, as I was busy adjusting to work and my new life in the Pacific Northwest. Some friends in Houston visited family in this area, and we got together. They told me they planned to climb Mt. Baker later in the year and invited me along. That sounded exciting, so I decided I needed to "do something" to get in shape, and thought I would try running for the third time. It was early May and the climb was to occur in late August or maybe September, so I had a few months.

So one morning I set my alarm, dressed, and walked over to Green Lake (a park in Seattle I lived very close to) with the goal of running one mile. I made it, very slowly, and walked back home.

Two days later I repeated this scene, but it was much harder to get out the door. I was sore from the previous run, and my ankle hurt. After spending at least 15 minutes waffling, I finally made it out, resolved to plod my one mile or stop when my ankle bothered me too much. Green Lake has a gravel trail around it, so it was nicer than running on pavement.

As a child, I twisted my left ankle pretty severely goofing off chasing a pet around the yard. Later as a freshman in college I re-injured it basically playing tag. So my ankle always bothered me a little - it would typically start to ache slightly after walking any distance. Of course, this would happen during my run but I decided not to let that stop me unless the pain got really bad. At the least I would run on gravel and walk if necessary.

I fell into a pattern of running one mile three times per week. After two months of this, I felt like I could do a little more. My ankle wasn't hurting as much after the mile, so one day on a whim I decided to add another half-mile. Over the weeks I gradually inched my weekly run volume up until after nine months from when I started, I was running two miles three times per week! I was within striking distance of circumnavigating Green Lake, which was 2.8 miles around the inner jogging path.

They day finally arrived - I pushed through to a full lap, and I felt like a hero. As in, finding some stairs and doing the Rocky 2 dance at the top. I didn't want to push myself too much, so I just did the full lap once a week, and again, gradually, built that up to one lap three times per week.

It took me about a year from starting out to get to 2.8 miles three times per week. One day I realized that my ankle didn't bother me any more - running had gradually strengthened my ankle to where the ache I used to eventually feel just walking around, had disappeared. These days my ankles are at risk for a different reason - volleyball. ;)

What happened to the Mt. Baker climb? Well, my friends came back and very apologetically informed me there wasn't room on the trip. They looked like they felt bad, but then I told them that it was OK, I was going to back out anyway! I had zero experience with hiking, climbing, ropes, ice axes, any of the gear involved, and didn't want to be one of those people responsible for a rescue team to come out. It is one thing if you are knowledgeable and have something unplanned happen, and it is another if you are a clueless newbie. And that's what I was, a clueless newbie - I hadn't even hiked up Mt. Si (a nearby eight mile popular challenging hike) so I told them I didn't have any business trying to summit Baker. Later I joined the Mountaineers and learned navigation, ice axe, snowshoe, scrambling, and found that climbing isn't for me. Hiking, backpacking, low grade scrambling is OK, but schlepping around 60 pounds of gear plus the very real risk of injury... nah. I'm glad I didn't go, but the thought of climbing is what originally provided the exercise motivation for me!

Mariners vs. Yankees

I attended tonight's Mariners game with my friend Krisanne. Unfortunately, the Mariners were beat like a drum. The good news is I saw a grand slam, and the bad news it wasn't the Mariners...

Bases loaded

See all the Yankees on the bases? See the pitch on its way to the batter? Sierra hits this for a grand slam.

Final Score 11-3

Me at the Glove

Friday, August 13, 2004

Frustrating Week at Work

It was one of those weeks where I felt incompetent, and even worse, thought other people felt I was incompetent. ;)

We are trying to hit a deadline of zero Priority 1 bugs, by next Monday. Those of you who work in the software industry realize bug priority is a bit arbitrary. But anyway, I was given a bug to investigate. The bug touches on an area I'm not as familiar with, and involves a second product.

It went as follows:

Day 1

Read the bug report, and spent at least half the day trying to reproduce the bug. The bug was reported by another group inside the company that was trying to use a library my group publishes. The bug is an error message, "credentials invalid", when resubmitting some information.

So, I find a copy of their program and install it. Hours later, nothing. I can't get anything to work with this program. All I get is an error "can't scan remote object." Remote object? I'm trying to find a file on my own computer! I call and talk to somebody on the phone.

Them: "Which build did you install?"
Me: "The latest, the 2041 build."
Them: "The dot zero build or the dot one build?"
Me: "The dot one, it had a later timestamp."
Them: "Ah, that's probably it. Dot zero builds have all the features enabled for testing. Dot one builds require full licensing info."
Me: "(thinking) @#$&%*&!. (speaking) Okay, I'll install the dot zero build."
Them: "Also, you have to join a domain for the reporting option to work."
Me: "(thinking) #!@%^**, %%@#!*!)"

Well, the reporting option was what I need working to repro the bug. So it is important to have that option actually work. After more time installing, I still can't get their program to work, even after joining the domain.

I fish around and drag up some test code, maybe I can use that to repro the problem. After a false start, I am setup to avoid using the actual product reporting the bug.

I can't repro the bug, after spending a huge amount of effort trying.

Day 2

I have some test code running that does everything required, but I don't see the bug. Essentially, the other team reports a problem when resubmitting some information that was already submitted. The test code submits with no problem, and resubmits with no problems.

I step through the info submitting code, and examine the program state. Everything looks fine. Something that looks odd are the user credentials - they are empty. Aha! A flag goes up in my mind - after all, the error message has to do with invalid credentials. But, after reading our source code for a while, I determine that empty credentials actually means to use the default credentials (i.e. the credentials supplied when our product is installed).

I exchange email with the other group. Plus, I asked about remote access to a machine which exhibits this problem, because I am just not seeing it.

Me: "I still don't see this. I've installed a half dozen time, tried flipping all sorts of config options, the product errors out before I am far enough to see the bug. I submit with no problem, and resubmit off the properties menu with no problem."
Them: "Oh! You have to go to [other location], double-click, and submit from there. Then it fails."
Me: "(thinking) Well why the !#$@%^*# didn't you write that in the bug report."

So finally, I am able to reproduce the problem. This is good, I fire up the debugger and start to investigate. It is most convenient for me to examine the test code with the debugger, so I spend some time examining the information the test code sends off to the product.

I'm not getting far, everything looks the same. The infomation supplied the first two ways (original submit, and propety submit) match the info supplied the third way ([other location] submit).

I set a few breakpoints in the debugger, thinking I'll just trace execution and see what happens. I pay extra attention to the empty credentials, as it seems related to the error message. Unfortunately, as I trace in the debugger and confirm by reading source code, the credentials pass through untouched! I was expecting them to be modified somewhere along the way, causing the failure. Something doesn't add up though, if it is a credential problem, why did it work two ways but not the third?

At this point, I've mined the test code as much as possible. Time to start debugging on the product. So I check around, set a few breakpoints, and then go to reproduce the problem. The program should halt on one of my breakpoints, and I can try to see if there is a problem.

Unfortunately, the program executes right through and shows the error. Argh, none of the breakpoints was hit! As an analogy for non-programmers, imagine the police setting up a roadblock to catch somebody. He gets away, and later the police realize they forgot to block one road out. Or, in this case, had setup the roadblock in the wrong neighborhood.

Day 3

At this point, my boss drags somebody else over to help me. Well that's good, I'm not too familiar with this area of the code.

My co-worker quickly notices the credentials are empty. I point out yes, the test code purposely sets that and empty credentials work for the job submit and the resubmit. Plus, empty credentials mean to use the default credentials.

Eventually, we bring in a third person who is directly familiar with the affected area. He notices what the problem is - the machine name needs a double backslashes in front!

I work on a Windows product and in Windows, computers have what is called a UNC name, which is "\\" preceeding the computer name. The UNC name is used mostly to refer to files on a remote computer, for example if a file on my computer (KBARRUS-N) is named info.txt, I can refer to it remotely as (\\KBARRUS-N\path\info.txt).

Earlier when I had checked the information submitted to our product, I dumped the computer name variable. Sure enough, it was correct, but without the preceeding backslashes. I didn't think this was a problem, since the submit and resubmit worked. But the third way to submit a job allows the user to edit various fields, so that likely involves stricter validation of the information before continuing. Actually, the info was submitted anyway and somehow the missing backslashes led to a credential error message. In any case, the third guy most familiar with the area said that was the problem, the computer name needs to be in UNC form, and the fact it worked through two other methods was a coincidence.

We resolved the bug back to the other group, telling them to add the backslashes before calling our code. In reality, our code should either convert names to UNC form, or refuse to accept names that aren't in UNC form. Since we're in crunch mode and don't want to change computer name parsing in the product right now, it is easier for the other group to fix their code. Perhaps later we'll fix ours to make it consistent.

Anyway, that was three days searching for basically the wrong naming format. Of course, it would help if our error message were actually useful, such as "Error in computer name". The red herring about credentials wasted a lot of our time!

I'm glad we found the problem. Because that means I didn't have to stay late last night, this night, and work as much as possible over the weekend. All the same, I would rather have found it on my own. But, given the problem was so subtle it may have taken me a long time of eliminating other possible failures before finding the root cause.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Investment Club

I recently attended my first meeting of CHIC (Capital Hill Investment Club) as a full member. All that meant is I was able to vote on a handful of items that came up. Since a few members were absent, we decided that everyone should stack rank our existing stocks by whatever criteria we choose. The goal is to compare the various lists and perhaps prune a stock or two from our holdings.

Obviously, alphabetical or stock price isn't very useful! I've decided to rank our holdings by return on equity, a percentage than encompasses profit margin, asset management, and financial leverage. If I have extra time, I might choose a second criterion to rank the companies against.

I'll be studying up on financial terms as I go. Many years ago I became interested in personal finance issues, but for the last two or three years all my investments have been through retirement plans provided at work, which don't offer many choices.

Here are the rankings, using data taken from MSN Money - Finance Site.

  1. Johnson & Johnson - 29.5%

  2. Bed, Bath & Beyond - 20.4%

  3. Home Depot - 20.0%

  4. Affliated Computer Services - 19.1%

  5. Health Management Associates - 17.6%

  6. Walgreens - 16.4%

  7. Commerce Bancorp - 14.7%

  8. Starbucks - 14.6%

  9. Fiserv - 14.5%

  10. AFLAC - 14.4%

  11. O'Reilly Automotive - 13.2%

  12. Pfizer - 12.1%

Companies we are considering purchasing are:

  1. Lincare Holdings - 27.6%

  2. Omnicom Group - 19.3%

  3. Washington Mutual - 16.7%

  4. RedMed - 15.6%

One thing for me to research is industry averages, as a typical ROE probably varies from industry to industry. When it comes time for me to investigate stocks, they will mostly likely be in the healthcare, biotech, or finance industries.

It will be interesting to see what criteria the other club members used, and compare our various lists.

Dining Room Art

Here is what is on the wall in my dining room. What could be more appropriate, than a summer picnic watercolor?

Dining Room Art

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Half Ironman - Not This Year

I've all but decided to withdraw from the Black Diamond half-ironman which will take place on September 26. Since I haven't officially registered for it, I'm not withdrawing per se, I just won't sign up for it. Instead, I'll either do the Kirkland sprint tri on September 19 or the Black Diamond oly on September 26, or maybe both.

The reason is simple: I am just too far behind in training to enjoy doing the event. I think if I entered I would finish, but it would be slow and painful and I wouldn't really enjoy it. This isn't to say I'd be fast if I did have the time to train! Best case finish would be about 6:30, which breaks out to a 45 minute swim, 3 hour 15 minute bike, 2 hour 15 minute run, plus some extra time in transition. But with training, I would be able to smoothly move from bike to run; without and I'd be really tired towards the end of the bike and wind up walking most of the half-marathon. Behind on the training is one thing - a related issue is I'm certain I do not have the time to catch up over the next five weeks until the event.

I looked through the training plan trying to figure out where I derailed. There is no exact spot, but obviously there is a gaping hole in my schedule where I was on a two week business trip.

Week 1 of training called for 1:30 swim, 4:00 bike, and 2:00 run. What I actually did was 1:00 swim, 4:00 bike, and 2:00 run. Looks pretty good, I was just 30 minutes short on the swim.

Week 5 of training called for 1:30 swim, 4:40 bike, and 2:00 run. I did 1:00 swim, 2:40 bike, and 1:50 run. So, 30 minutes short on the swim, 2 hours short on the bike, and 10 mins short on the run. The problem here is the bike - I missed out on 2 hours of training.

Week 10 of training called for 2:45 swim, 9 hours bike, and 3:20 run. I did 1:00 swim, 4:30 bike, and 3:15 run.

A trend emerges - I did the run mileage I was supposed to. However, I fell short on the swim, missing out on nearly 2 hours. I fell really short on the bike - I only did half the amount! I was probably able to keep up run training as running is more familiar to me (I've been at it longer than biking or swimming) but fundamentally running is easier to do - less equipment, minimal travel needed, etc. Plus bad weather doesn't shoo me off from running.

To really train for a half-ironman I need to make a point of doing the swim and bike workouts. This means juggling my schedule around to prioritize those workouts, which can be difficult to schedule because bike volume tends to run so high. Plus, and this is really the key: I don't want to give up everything else I do.

During the off-season I'll do more planning and see what I can fit in for next year. If I start with a higher base bike fitness, then it will be easier. To do this I must ride at least once a week with my bike club (Cascade Bike Club), and on my own a few times as well.

Living Room Art

I don't have much art on the walls of my home, but I'm trying to change that.

The first step was deciding on a general theme for various rooms. I decided the living room theme is abstract, the dining room theme is food-related, the master bedroom theme is Asian (drawings of cranes or landscapes with huge mountains), and the study theme will either be old maps or skylines (ideally a Seattle skyline). That leaves the den and spare bedroom to decorate as some time in the future.

Living Room

I saw this piece of art and really liked it, so now it is up in the living room. There is another wall with space for a small piece of art that I'll look to fill.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Vancouver Afternoon

We were all starving, so after returning to Granville Island we ate a nearby market.

View from the Granville Island market

This is a view to the north from our lunch area, a farmer's market with fresh vegetables, meat, and food vendors. The bridge on the left is Burrard Bridge.


One of the public transportation options in Vancouver is the aquabus!

Me, standing on Gail's Balcony

Gail calls her blog Gail's Balcony. Thus, I had to get a picture of myself actually standing on the balcony of her apartment.

What will be interesting is reading the other accounts of the weekend, since all of us are bloggers!

Vancouver Boat Ride

We rented a boat and headed out for a tour - English Bay to the Lions Gate Bridge, back to Horseshoe Bay, and a return to Granville Island.

I took the first driving shift, from the rental dock to the Science Museum, and then back along False Creek around Stanley Park to the Lions Gate Bridge. The water was choppy and I kept it about half throttle for most of the trip in English Bay. Once I got a better hang of steering, I dropped the boat to full throttle, thought of the three women with me, the movie "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle", and a theme for the trip sprang into my mind. Hence "Karl's Angels: Full Throttle!" :)

Karl's Angels

Gail, Heather, Krisanne.

West Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge

Krisanne took over as pilot and we had a fun and faster trip, bouncing along the water to Horseshoe Bay.

Horseshoe Bay

Gail took over on the water back from Horseshoe Bay. This part of the bay was very busy with small sailboats and windsurfers, so we had to slow down.

Vancouver from English Bay

It was a sunny, beautiful day and we were out for about three and a half hours.

Fireworks Show

I roadtripped up to Vancouver with Krisanne, to meet up with Gail and Heather for a fun weekend.

Tonight was the finale of the Vancouver Celebration of Light, a fireworks competition between China, Spain, and Sweden. Gail's apartment had a perfect view of the event, so we watched from her balcony.


Saturday, August 07, 2004


Today and Sunday were the final days of Seafair, a festival that concludes with hydroplane races and an airshow. My friend and co-worker Maggie invited me over to watch the festivities from their home, which has an incredible view of Lake Washington and the events.

Maggie and Dante's House

Their house is on the side of a hill - I'm at street level looking up.

Lake Washington View

As you can see, their view includes the hydroplane race area!

Setting up the Webcam

Some of our coworkers couldn't make it, so Maggie decided to setup the webcam and broadcast the races and airshow. Her husband Dante is looking on and laughing!

Hydroplane Races

Saturday was only qualification rounds, so the hydroplanes weren't going all out.

Blue Angels

The airshow highlight is Navy's Blue Angels - always a crowd pleaser. Since it was cloudy, they did a "low show" where most of the flybys were low and loud. They flew straight over head twice during the show!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Volleyball Team

Volleyball is my favorite team sport to play - it is fast paced, non-contact, and I just have a lot of fun playing. Height helps for hitting, but coordination and timing are as important. Plus, there are other aspects to the game: setting, defending, serving.

I played a bit on an intramural team in college, and not again until I met some people at Green Lake (a park in Seattle) during the summer of 2000. We formed a team and have played in a league ever since. The league plays all year long - outdoors during the summer, and indoors the rest of the year.

The 2004 summer season is over except for the tournament in a few weeks. We did OK in our division, winning 22 games and losing 23 games. In reality we were an even 22/22 with one forfeited game because we forgot to bring the net - by the time we got a net, set up, and started playing, enough time for one game had passed. It may seem like the division was evenly matched, but that wasn't the case as most matches were definitely one-sided.

"Reeking Havoc", Summer 2004

From left to right: Lynn, Jaewha, Kathy, Todd, me, Ken. Not pictured is Mariusz who couldn't make the last game.

Our team used to be called Widespread Panic but last year the team juggled around membership and we reformed as Reeking Havoc.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


I just received some handmade chocolate bars I ordered from DessertWorks. Here are three of them on display. Don't they look delicious? I have one dozen bars total, and am planning to pass a few out to friends, while keeping several for myself. ;)

DessertWorks Chocolate Bars

Silly Patents

I've heard of several silly patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but U.S. 5,443,036 seems like an abuse of the system.

From the abstract:

A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct.

What's next? A patent on swinging on a swing? Oops, that is already covered by U.S. 6,368,227. Fortunately this patent covers side-to-side swinging, so most kids don't need a license to enjoy the swings at their neighborhood park. Maybe the patent holder tried to file for a patent on back-and-forth swinging, but found too much prior art.

These two patents were awarded years ago, so who knows how many other gems like these have been awarded since then. Clearly, I should have gone into Patent and Intellectual Property law!

Patents are becoming bargaining chips used for deal making between companies, especially in high-tech. My employer always advocates patent filing, or bringing up potential ideas with others for discussion and/or collaboration. I don't have any patents and honestly don't think I'm working in an area that will generate many (any?). If I ever get a patent, I'd like it to be meaningful one that I'm proud of, and not some joke like the patents listed above.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Medieval Clock

I received this postcard from friends Shaula and Darrin who are currently on a six month trip to the United Kingdom.

Before leaving, they had a going away party and asked for opinions on what to see and do. I told them my favorite day trip when I visited in 2000 was Salisbury, because Stonehenge is nearby, the Salisbury Cathedral has a very legible original copy of the Magna Carta, and the Cathedral also has a medieval clock.

I was fascinated by the clock. It has no face, no hour or minute hand - it only chimes once on the hour. As I remember, the clock was only accurate to within a few seconds or a minute. But, this clock has been continuously running since the 14th century, except for brief periods of maintenance! This is the oldest functioning mechanical clock in the world.

Medieval Clock

Since I went on and on about the clock it is fitting they sent me a postcard of it. This is great actually, this postcard is better than the pictures I took of the clock.

Speaking of timekeeping, I read Longitude a few years before my 2000 trip. The book described the competition to create an accurate method of determining longitude, particularly while at sea. John Harrison did it through sheer genius by inventing clocks that worked properly on boats. I was thrilled to see some of his Harrison clocks on display in Greenwich!

Monday, August 02, 2004


I'm trying out the Hello BloggerBot and Picasa software Blogspot makes available. So for now, here is a pic of the electronic gadgets I brought with me to Florida.

Pictured: gold iPod Mini, Nokia cell phone, my work Dell notebook, Garmin eTrex Vista GPS, and Toshiba e310 PocketPC. Not pictured: the various cables and charging devices for all these items! And of course, my Canon S30 digital camera.

Gizmos. Posted by Hello

Hello BloggerBot is pretty nice - it will save me time resizing pictures and creating thumbnails. Plus, it stores the pics on Blogspot which saves me space on my website. The only issue is a separate blog entry is created for each pic uploaded, so if I want two or more pictures for one entry, I have to do a little cut-n-paste. Also, if I want to show a pic at a higher resolution than 1024 x 768, I'll need to keep it on my website, as Hello BloggerBot resizes to 1024 x 768.