Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Lost Turtle

I drove home to drop off my bike - despite the beautiful weather we're all too busy to ride at lunch today - and a block from my home I spotted a turtle struggling mightily to cross the street. It was most of the way over but having a tough time negotiating the curb.

Once home, I grabbed my camera and jogged back to find it. Gail would probably tell me "this is why you should ALWAYS have your camera with you!"

The turtle did successfully scale the curb, and was at a neighbor's entryway, clearly lost. So close and yet so far from the small lake...

Lost Turtle

I got closer and the turtle started to click a bit, and then withdrew into its shell. That made my job easier - I picked it up and walked it over to the lake. After I set it down on the grass a few feet from the water, it poked its head out and then eagerly waddled into the water.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fat Intake

The interesting thing about fat intake is that unlike the other nutrition which is spread throughout everything I eat, fat usually comes in one giant chunk. Most of the time, the offender is one single food that contributes the bulk of my recommended daily intake, which is about 54 grams of fat per day.

For example, looking over my food diary:

  • A strawberry milkshake is about 23g of fat - 43% RDI.
  • Half of a sierra turkey sandwich at Panera is about 27.5g of fat - 51% RDI.
  • A regular classic Italian sub from Quizno's (with dressing) is 60g of fat - 111% RDI (!).
  • A cup of Thai chicken curry is 23g of fat - 43% RDI.
  • One slice of a supreme pizza is 27g of fat - 50% RDI.
  • 4 tablespoons of peanut butter is 32g of fat - 59% RDI.
  • A 7 oz bag of corn tortilla chips is 65g of fat - 120% RDI (!).
  • 4 tablespoons of pesto sauce is 29g of fat - 54% RDI.

Carbs might be everywhere, but fat is concentrated. In theory, it should be easy to moderate my fat intake to the recommended levels... by simply cutting out the one food item per day (on average) that contributes the most.

However, there are some relatively easy things I can change. I can have the Quizno's sandwich without the dressing. According to the food database, the dressing alone is 27g of fat for the regular sized sandwich. While I love munching chips with salsa or queso, I have to moderate that as well. I didn't expect this, but corn tortilla chips make french fries look like health food. Another easy change is not having the pesto sauce with QDoba's poblano pesto chicken, or eating something equivalent without the pesto sauce.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Chasing Lance

One benefit of the Discovery Channel sponsoring a pro cycling team is that the Discovery Channel makes documentaries. They have slipped a bit over the years, with shows like American Chopper ;), but they still turn out the occasional winner. One such series that plays on the HD Discovery Channel is Chasing Lance. I'm sure part of Discovery's sponsorship agreement includes making documentaries about the team. I think yesterday's show was the last one, because it was a summary show.

The series covered much of the team's preparation, from an early winter training camp near Solvang, CA, to the Spring Classics in Belgium and France (including a lot of coverage of Hincapie's 2nd place at Paris-Roubaix), to the warmup Tour De Georgia. We saw race tactics, Johan Bruyneel on the radio with Lance relaying information during events, bike maintenance and washing, the European equipment garage jammed with spare parts, the chef preparing meals, warmups on trainers, stretching, and so forth. Major competitors and other team members got good coverage as well, in the stage highlights of the Tour itself.

Some of the tech segments were very interesting. Trek did a lot of wind tunnel testing, Nike supplied time trial jerseys with dimples like golf balls, Steve Hed (of Hed Cycling) consulted on aerodynamics, and so forth. Trek even was curious how hot the wheels got during braking so that added temperature strips.

While the Spring Classics were taking place, Lance would ride in California. He'd ride off with Bruyneel following behind him in a car, just out climbing hills all day. They'd pull over and check the map, Lance would wave his arm down a road and say "Let's go this way for a few hours" while munching on a bar. No definite route, just him and a support car! His preparation included previewing the entire route, sometimes riding important sections multiple times. He said he used to be the only person there so early, but now more and more teams are doing the same thing - riding important stages at least. The crew showed a squad of T-Mobile riders and later some Phonak guys, all out riding various sections.

I think this series was interesting enough that people who aren't into cycling would enjoy it. All in all, the series was great... and in High Def to boot. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ben and Bev's Visit

I hosted my first out-of-town friends last night: my friend Ben and Bev and their two kids Dylan and Sam. They are here on their way to a Disney Cruise family vacation, which departs from Cape Canaveral. I'll see them again in a week after the cruise is over.

Jet Lagged Sleepy Kids

It was tough to get the kids up, and I'm sure that had a lot to do with the 3 hour time zone change. That all changed when I started up a Playstation 2 game Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. That brought Dylan running and he wanted to play! I started a new game for him, and as we began to watch the opening cut-scene which sets the tone of the quirky humor in the game, Dylan wanted to skip it. "Show me how to move and kill! Move and kill!!" he insisted.

Breakfast at Panera's

After considerable effort peeling him off the PS2, we drove over for breakfast at the Panera Bread company. Dylan, still excited from the game, offered to help me past the level I was on, noting "you just need to double jump to kill the helicopter guy" and "robot are so dumb". Ah yes, the joys of video games...

Me, Dylan, Sam, Bev

Bev said they'll just take their next vacation at uncle Karl's, since I have a swimming pool, unlimited video games, and a big screen TV. ;)

Now they are off to the cruise. I'm curious what is in store and I'll ask when they return. Before they had kids, Ben and Bev took six months off and traveled the world - I went to meet them in Europe in 1997. Back then they cruised in the Greek islands so I'll ask how this compares.

Bev said they picked this week to go because it was the cheapest cruise, due to the holidays and the fact they had to pull the kids out of school for a week. I think Dylan is in Kindergarten and Sammy is in pre-school, so that isn't a big deal. The total cost of the trip is around $3,000, including airfare, and that is only because they chose the 2nd cheapest rooms. One of Bev's coworkers took the same cruise during the summer and picked the fanciest room for their family, and the cruise cost $8,000! Bev joked "Wow, I guess it is a choice between the cruise or sending a kid to college."

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Dave, a friend in the Orlando Running Club, invited me to Thanksgiving brunch. I was a little hesistant to accept, since I thought it was a family gathering and I don't really know him that well, but he insisted it was OK. As it turned out, he did have some relatives there (his sister, uncle, and grandmother) but everybody else there was connected in an interesting six-degrees-of-separation way that traced back to... being neighbors in a condo complex years ago.

It made me think, of the years I lived in Seattle and Kirkland, I barely knew my neighbors at all. In the apartment near Green Lake, I barely talked to two of the other four units. In Kirkland, I only ever met two of the four others on my cul-de-sac. I certainly never visited my neighbors in their home or anything like that.

Anyway, brunch was great and there was plenty of food. I was stuffed and we left after chatting a bit. Two of the people there raised horses on a farm, so I listened to them talk about the work involved. I'm too lazy to get a dog, much less care for a stable of horses!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Car Maintenance

I hadn't taken my car in for scheduled maintenance since I moved, so I got that out of the way. My car is at 117,800 miles, close enough to the 120K major service I just had that done.

Naturally, that wasn't all my car needed. In addition to the stuff they did for 120K miles, my car needed something or other done with the "left front CV axle" and replacement of the front brake pads. The total was $1020... after I elected not to replace an oil seal, somewhere so difficult to reach it would require removing nearly everything and cost and additional $1100 (mostly for labor) just for that (!). The dealership said the seal replacement was optional; I will just need to pay attention to the oil level. Sounds good for saving $1100.

My last few major service visits have run about $2000 each. That is annoying, but it is also much less than having a car payment every month. ;) Still, there is a good chance by the end of 2006 I'll buy a new car. Mine has served me very well but it will be 10 years old.

I'm leaning towards a hybrid. It will be icing on the cake if I can fold down the rear seats and fit my bike into the trunk.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Horrible Hundred

The Florida Freewheeler's Horrible Hundred bike ride was this morning, so I drove out to Clermont to participate. This ride is the big end-of-year event, and the long route covers all the "mountains" in Central Florida.

At the start, I saw a few people I know from the YMCA bike group, but I lost them in the crowd. I biked my registration packet to the car, and by the time I rode off the start, 2/3rds of the people had left. That's OK, I decided I would just take it easy and ride along at my own pace.

Random start crowd

Florida Biking in November - all short sleeve jerseys and shorts :)

Three routes were offered: 38 miles (1910 feet of climbing), 74 miles (4273 feet of climbing), and 102 miles (5080 feet of climbing). As a comparison, the Kirkland Centennial Century ride was 7203 feet of climbing. So there is some decent climbing available in this area. Wait, I think I just heard Sandy choking back laughter... ;)

Fresh Fruit

There were SAG stops, but you could always pick some fresh fruit too!

I checked the routes and saw the three hills I wanted to be sure to do (The Wall, Buckhill, Sugarloaf) were on both the 74 and 102 mile route, so either route was fine with me. When I came to the 74/102 split, I made the tactical decision to do 74 miles; after all, there is a fine line between an enjoyable event, and biting off too much and being miserable. Today, I just felt like 74 miles - after all, this is supposed to be the offseason. The ride went very well. It was windy and overcast, but in the low 70's so it weather was quite nice.

Green Moose Cafe

Francesca's Cafe in Monteverde was closed this Sunday. The little sign by the door says "Welcome to our hideaway. Moosey on in..."

We got a T-shirt for the event, and afterwards I decided to buy a bike jersey as well. It is neon yellow and pink, with a flamingo riding a penny farthing bike. The flamingo does have a bike helmet, promoting safety. Nice! It is missing a palm tree and gator, to really be an authentic Florida jersey.

Bike Jersey

I did 74 miles in 4:40, for a 15.9 mph average. Maybe next year I'll do the century!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Diet Update 2

I've now logged a solid week in a row of nutrition, and I've come to a few conclusions. I am basically neutral on net caloric intake, but that is only because of exercise.

I decided to increase my protein intake, since I need that to repair muscles. I wasn't concerned about carbs, fat, or fiber, since I felt modifying more than one thing at a time would be difficult. One night for dinner, I essentially ate half of a supermarket bag salad plus a can of tuna (2.5 servings, thank you very much), trying to get more protein. Yesterday, I treated myself to sushi (sake, maguro, shiromaguro, unagi) in an effort to eat more protein. On average, I was able to eat 90% to 95% of my suggested protein intake, but I felt like I was chomping a lot more meat than I am used to. Interesting!

I got the YMCA running group talking about nutrition on Tuesday, and heard some interesting options. One woman said she often ate protein bars to work more into her diet.

Fiber is something I am deficient on. As in, roughly 50% of my suggested intake. I'd like to think I don't need to supplement with Metamucil... so I need to find some high fiber foods to eat as an alternative. ;)

Carbs... it is mind boggling how easy it is to eat carbs in modern U.S. society. I suspect the very air we breathe has carbohydrates! I effortlessly eat 50% too many carbs, without even counting sports drinks or gels. However, I'm not going to worry about this yet, until I can balance protein, fat, and fiber first.

After logging for a mere 12 days, I can now appreciate the difficulty people face trying to lose weight. I don't think it is possible without exercise. There just isn't anyway that doesn't involve serious discipline. If I want to lose one pound a week I'd need to run a 500 calorie deficit per day, and that means roughly eating 30% less food per day (without exercise).

I branched out and tried another nutrition tracker - Fit Day. This offers a free online account, and an offline program for $20. The cool thing is FitDay is the very powerful graphing and reports. This program will monitor your intake of vitamins/minerals and tell you how you are doing versus the %RDI! Unfortunately, the food database isn't a good as Calorie King's, which makes food entry more tedious. Still, I will try to get up to speed with FitDay because now I'm curious if I get enough Vitamin E or whatever. On the other hand, maybe a multivitamin will take care of this so the extra work to track with FitDay wouldn't be worth it.

FitDay also offers a nutrition search, where you can look for foods high in certain nutrition content (e.g. fiber, vitamin B12). I'll see what it turns up for fiber, but I suspect since I'm 12+ grams short every day, I'm going to supplement to make up the difference. 12 grams of fiber is 6 medium sized bananas or 2 packages or raw spinach... seems like a lot to eat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I enjoy the military/intelligence agency shows, so I've been watching this one which is new this season. The show is interesting, but it not quite as believeable as Threat Matrix, or my favorite, The Agency. I haven't watched enough episodes of NCIS, but that one looks OK too. Of these, only NCIS is still on the air.

E-Ring's basic premise is Major Jim Tisnewski (Benjamin Bratt) spends the first half of the show convincing a Pentagon committee to sign off on a special forces mission. There is no tension if everybody agrees immediately, so he winds up brow beating, outwitting, end running around, black mailing, or arguing persuasively to get approval. Or, just does it anyway on his own. The other half of the show, the special forces are deployed to their mission.

One thing the shows gets pretty well (so I think) is the buck passing between various branches of government. Many times someone will bring up needing to go through proper channels, waiting for the Secretary of Defense to get approval from the Attorney General or President, or carefully navigating legal issues. Of course, the red tape doesn't stop the military planning - that proceeds on the assumption approval is forthcoming.

E-Ring took a major turn over the last few weeks by killing off Tisnewski's girlfriend, and adding the squad he used to command to the show (they all got recalled from Iraq). I'm not sure if this will be good or bad...

The reason I liked The Agency the best is because it seemed most realistic. None of the characters were superhuman, and the show had a half dozen or more characters that had to work together. The most important supporting characters were the artists Terri Lowell (Paige Turco) and Joshua Nanik (David Clennon). These two spent all their time making fake documents (train tickets, passports, diplomas, official seals, you name it), photoshopping pictures, and forging signatures. Many episodes revolved around the artist's work: having the correct fake passport stamps to enter/exit a country, correct throwaway documents (e.g. train ticket stubs), faked pictures to show to interviewees to convince them something happened and they should cooperate, etc. I remember one episode Lowell painstakingly created a replica of an ancient middle eastern ceramic pot and painted it so it could pass as a museum piece, all so the CIA could plant a bomb in it and deliver it as a gift to some terrorist. Another episode had them matching wallpaper for hours so they could disguise a bug, and so forth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

City of God

I saw this movie recently, and it was really good. The movie mostly follows the story of Rocket (Buscape in Portuguese) who lives and grows up in a slum of Rio De Janeiro named "City of God" (Cidade de Deus).

Rocket dreams of being a photographer after some local thugs give him a gift of a camera. But first, he has to survive his childhood, which is no easy task since there isn't much economic opportunity in the slums except to become a gangster (rob utility trucks) or deal drugs.

The lives of several others are interwoven into the story. One of the most interesting and shocking is that of a friend Lil' Ze (nee Lil' Dice), who starts as the lookout for a trio of small hoods, and later becomes a murderous drug lord controlling various zones of the city.

Fernando Mierelles also directed The Constant Gardener, which I am now eager to see.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

10K and 5K

  • In the morning I ran the Founder's Day 10K, a race in the Track Shack grand prix. The event is also known among local runners as the Celebration 10K, since it takes place in the community of Celebration (a Disney master-planned community).

    I lost or misplaced the mounting bracket for my polar footpod, so I used my Forerunner 201 instead. It measured the course at 6.34 miles... it is ironic I get more accuracy out of the footpod than the GPS system! I would expect the reverse to be true.

    I finished in 46:03. Dang it, I was hoping for better, especially since I ran a 45:45 at the Dawg Dash just a few weeks ago, and this course was easier - more turns, but no hills. But, I've been slacking this week, due to my business trip.

    My tradition is to wear the event T-shirt to work on the Monday after the race. I'll delay that since the T-shirt was a long sleeve, and it just isn't cool enough yet. ;) Fortunately, I got a short sleeve T-shirt at the next event...

  • In the afternoon I ran the Fall Classic 5K. I don't normally stack two events on the same day, but the timing just worked out like that. My company is a co-sponsor of this event, so as part of their community outreach program, employees could enter free (plus families or one guest). Basically, the free T-shirt and food drew me in.

    I decided to go as hard as I could and did 22:42 according to my watch. Official time was 22:44 - this event was only about 300 people so I could start close to the line. This event was non-chip and non-scored, so these times are from my watch and the official clock at the end; results won't be published. The food afterwards was fantastic - catered by three local restaurants.

    Anyway, this is my new 5K PR, by 10 seconds! I'm very pleased I was able to eek that out.

Total running today was 15K in 68:45, or 9.3 miles at a pace of 7:23. I'm beat and ready to cool off in the pool, shower, eat more, and have a milkshake. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Be My Neighbor

There is a unique opportunity to be my neighbor, because BOTH of my next door neighbors are selling their homes. That's right, in only four months, I've driven them away! ;) Just kidding. At least one neighbor is moving for work - he is a partner in a small pool heating business, and is moving to open and oversee a new store in Ft. Lauderdale.

The double sale gives me a chance to evalute my property value, something of interest to all home owners. The asking prices are eye-popping. I bought my house for $325K in early July. My home is about 1820 square feet (does not include the garage), and has a pool. My old home in Kirkland was supposedly 1850 square feet, but that must have included the garage (or was just flat out wrong) because this place is definitely bigger.

The neighbor at 784 Pickfair Terrace is asking $360K. He has about 200 more square feet, an extra bedroom, and a larger lot since he is the corner. Like his home, I have a zoned sprinkler and a security system as well.

The neighbor at 792 Pickfair Terrace, who is moving to open a store, is asking a mind-boggling $426K! He's got about 150 more square feet, a bonus room, and a three car garage. I see from the pictures the home has hard wood floors, where I have ceramic tile. In the little slideshow, picture 8 shows the patio - you can glimpse a tiny bit of my home behind the fence on the right! ;)

All of our kitchens look about the same. Our homes are by the same builder and all were built in the year 2000. All I can say is WOW. I thought homes in Florida were supposed to be cheap. I guess you have to move further away to get the bargains now. There are two or three other homes for sale in this subdivision as well - I bet some people are cashing out before the property bubble bursts. In the meantime, rising property values is good news for me, since I'm not planning to move anytime soon.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hungry Squirrel

I startled this little guy getting into the car after eating breakfast. He/She was clearly stocking up for the winter - see the large nut in its mouth? I tried to get closer but the squirrel spooked and darted up the tree, to stand on a branch and eye me suspiciously.

Hungry Squirrel

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In-N-Out Burger

After my short run, I decided to try out IN-N-OUT Burger, a chain I've heard so much about from various friends, chiefly Krisanne. :) I used their helpful store locator, and found one VERY close by... 0.2 miles from the hotel. The address gives a hint: I was at 190 E El Camino Real and the In-N-Out was at 50 W El Camino Real.

I decided I would be humiliated to drive such a short distance for fast food, so I walked, thus getting in a tiny bit of exercise to help burn off the lunch I was about to eat.

I had a single with cheese, and it was in fact really good. However, I think Red Mill Burgers in Seattle holds its own. Any small burger place would probably be able to serve up a very competitive burger. To be fair to IN-N-OUT, they are a larger chain, and as far as comparing quality among large chains, they blow away all the national brands. I'm amazed the burger was as good as it was, keeping in mind they are a regional chain.

What I found interesting were the french fries. I love fries. I recently finished The Botany of Desire and the chapter on the potato was very interesting, maybe I'll talk about this book later. As I looked at the fries, I read a little notice that informed me IN-N-OUT Burgers prepares the fries from fresh (and never frozen) potatoes, in 100% cholesterol free vegetable oil. Well that sounds great! So I dug in...

And found the fries were a bit different. They weren't salted, which was probably healthier. The texture was hard to describe, but they didn't crunch like I was expecting. They had a bit of a grainy texture, and this will sound grosser than it is, but it reminded me of chewing lima beans. The fries tasted good, but even that was a bit muted - the potato flavor wasn't as strong. I puzzled over this and recalled a passage from Fast Food Nation that said fast food restaurants have essentially engineered the food to taste and look a certain way, through various additives. I think the different fries at IN-N-OUT (i.e. no crunch, blander taste, different texture) were an example of how I, an occasional fast food french fry gourmand, had been conditioned to my expectations of french fries. Confronted with fries cooked fresh and with fewer chemicals, I thought they tasted odd and different.

Now I'm bummed, I would rather eat the fries from IN-N-OUT knowing they are fresher and less doped with chemicals. I am sure I would come to prefer them.

The final part of my meal was a strawberry shake, which was decent. I think the shakes at Burger King or even Jack-in-the-Box are as good; these are all actually made with real ice cream and milk. The Frosty at Wendy's is good but almost too thick for me, plus it is only available in chocolate. Certain other large national fast food chains make really lousy shakes - they taste 100% artificial. Fortunately that was not the case here.

Anyway, my first trip to IN-N-OUT was a success. Dang good fast food for $5.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

64 Advantage Program

The reason I'm in Mountain View is to attend the 64 Advantage program, hosted by Microsoft and Intel. Microsoft wants to sell 64 bit OS'es, Intel wants to sell 64 bit CPU's, and both need applications that run on them... so I'm here on behalf of my company, which hopes to sell 64 bit apps. A three-way symbiotic relationship. ;)

Last week when I returned from my Seattle trip, my boss sent mail that said "hey, sign up for this". I was too late for the Boston session, which would have been nice since I have never been, but I did squeeze into the Silicon Valley session. This is fine since I've got a few friends in this area also.

I went through the registration process, which didn't ask for much beyond my name, work phone number and email address, but it did require a password. So I created a throwaway password which I forgot about 15 minutes later. I received an email and a phone call from a lady at Microsoft confirming my registration.

Forgetting my throwaway password came back to haunt me, because the website has zero useful information "in front of" logging in. Check it out, tell me if you can find out where the program is held (something more specific than "Silicon Valley"). Well you can't, and I tried the "forgot password" link but nothing came back after a few hours. So I emailed the nice lady at Microsoft who was in charge of this and essentially asked "where is the program held? And what time does it start?" She was understanding and mentioned she wasn't sure why all the useful info was hidden.

It turns out the program is held at the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus, right off Highway 101. Today's agenda was 2/3rd presentations and 1/3rd lab work. Overall, the presentation were really good, all kinds of stuff about mixing 64 bit and 32 bit code, which is a large chunk of my job!

In the evening I met up with my friend Jimmy. We were coworkers back at Compaq in Houston... 10 years ago now. Wow. I caught him up on my big news of this year (IMCdA and moving to Florida) and in return I found out Jimmy is getting married next year!

Monday, November 07, 2005


I have a business trip to Mountain View, CA this week, so I did a bunch of house stuff yesterday in preparation. I'd really rather stay in town this week, but no such luck. At least I should be able to see some Silicon Valley area friends this week.

My original flight left at 7:30 am to Phoenix, where I would have had a mind-numbing 3.5 hour layover before continuing to San Jose, arriving at 4 pm. I managed to shift that flight to a 4:30 pm departure, with a much shorter pause in Phoenix. The new flight got me into town about 9:30 pm.

San Jose airport (SJC) is clearly from another era, and can barely handle the volume of traffic it now gets. It has to be the busiest airport in that nation that makes you walk on the tarmac. The terminal is cramped, and there aren't as many services offered (e.g. behind the security checkin there is no food) in the terminal. One service usually offered in the terminal is rental cars - at least the counters are there so I usually start the rental car paperwork while waiting for my bag. At SJC, I had to take a shuttle to a nearby offsite location. No big deal, except this forced me to wait for my bag first, and then wait through the rental car shuttle line and ride, and by the time I did all that, the rental car office was closed. I must be spoiled by Orlando airport, which easily accomodated this situation, undoubtedly due to the massive tourist volume for the area's theme parks.

Last time I was here, there was all sorts of construction at the airport, especially in the entry/exit to the airport. It still looks the same; I'm not sure there has been any progress in the construction.

Since I couldn't get my rental car, I had to take a taxi to my hotel (which only has wireless internet and I don't have a wireless card for my work computer, another annoyance). Tomorrow, I'll have to return to the airport in order to pick it up. What an inconvenience.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Five Day Diet Update

I completed logging five days of my food. My diet next week will be atypical because I'm traveling, so I thought I'd take a checkpoint now. I've just eaten what I normally do, with no effort to game or skew the results positively - which of course would be bad. After all, anybody can log a perfect diet over one week, I'm more interested in what I'm really eating.

This nutrition diary and logging effort is very interesting. How'd I do? Okay I suppose, but there is room for improvement.

5 Day Diet
RecommendedWhat I Ate
Carbs216.4 g455.6 g
Fat53.4 g74.9 g
Protein114.0 g93.5 g
Fiber25.0 g18.3 g

This was a major jolt of reality! I'm way over on carbs and fat, and not getting enough protein or fiber. It looks like a dietary disaster, except for the fact that I also burned an average of 1055 calories per day through exercise (as estimated by the diet diary). This means instead of a daily surplus of 1041 calories (i.e. gain a pound every 3.4 days), I am barely under by 14 calories (i.e. lose a pound every 250 days). Since many of the counts depend on volume estimates, I'm not sure I can log to that precision. The good news is that it appears I am eating and exercising to maintain my weight, more or less.

However, I need to juggle my diet and get more protein and fiber, while cutting back on fat. Carbs will always be in surplus because those are what give me energy for exercise.

I'll keep logging and get a good month of data before I look into sweeping changes. For now I'll just try to eat healthy, and think of decreasing carbs and fat while increasing protein and fiber. Nutrition tracking is so interesting!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Specialty License Plates

Florida offers a dizzying number of specialty license plates - not vanity plates where you choose the numbers/letters - but plates with a fancy background design. Check out the list of current offerings - 91 of them! (No I didn't count, this was from another page that listed them by popularity).

One of these is the "Share the Road" design, which I have. Part of the money goes to Bike Florida which uses the money for awareness and events that promote bicycling.

There is currently a contest for the next iteration of this plate, so I took a look at the various designs. Note the site makes fun of Florida voters at the top. Too many choices! Argh!! All I can tell is I don't like designer #4's plates, while designer #2's look really cool to me.

OK, I decided on design d2c. I think that one looks the best: nice colors that a license plate from Florida should have, palm trees, sun, blue skies, bikes in FRONT of the car on the road (and of course the car sees them and is sharing!). It was a close choice between d2c and d2e for me, but I like the idea that the bicyclist is with a friend in d2c, and not all by himself/herself, as in d2e. I like the speed blur on d2b, but overall I like d2c better. The road is more accurate in d2f, but I think the green border in d2c sets off the "share the road" message better. Finally, designer #2 gets my nod because all the bikes have front and rear disc wheels! ;)

I'm voting once for each email address I have. :)


We had a group outing to the movies this afternoon, and our choices were: Jarhead or Chicken Little. One person chose to see Chicken Little while the rest of us including me, went to see Jarhead.

Krisanne recently read the novel and liked it, and that makes me curious if the movie is as good.

The most interesting thing is the odd sense of disappointment felt by Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is trained as a sniper. The marines are whipped into a frenzy during training ("I just want to see the pink mist" he says as he practices shooting through the head of a target) and while seeing war movies as a group. In Saudi Arabia, they are bored, playing football with their protective gear on while practicing removing imaginary mines and patroling against imaginary targets. The men are disillusioned and are almost envious the Air Force guys are getting all the kills. One fellow marine complains the enemy retreats faster than they can follow, so the Air Force is the only branch that can keep up.

In one scene, he and his sighting partner are sent to shoot two high ranking Iraqi officials, but at the last moment, they are called off in favor of an airstrike. His partner flips out and is angry they are denied the kill - he asks if they could shoot right before the airstrike hits, and nobody would have to know.

Jamie Foxx does a great job as Staff Sargeant Sykes. When Sykes and Swofford are sitting alone, he confesses he'd rather be here than at home with his family, working as a partner in his brother's business, because he's loves this job. He mentions that nobody else sees the things they do, and then the camera reveals the landscape: night in the desert, raining oil, with several wells on fire. I think it was supposed to look a bit like hell.

The movie closes with them returning to camp to find everybody celebrating the war is over. Six months in the desert, four days of war, and he didn't even fire his rifle in combat.

As far as war movies go, it was OK. It doesn't rank up there with Platoon or Full Metal Jacket.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Nutrition Tracking

Over my weekend Seattle visit, I found several friends were planning to track their nutrition. Of course, I don't want to be left out of the fun, so I decided I would try it as well. I suppose this could be considered rising to new heights of obsessive compulsive behavior. ;)

I looked at HealthEtech and Calorie King. Both have an online version, where you can publish your nutrition to the world (woohoo!!), and both have an offline program. I decided to go with Calorie King because it had a free 14 day trial, and is cheaper on top of that. I'm not sure I'll subscribe to their service and post my nutrition info to the web; I'm really just looking for an offline program to use.

After filling in the initial profile, Calorie King told me a good daily diet is:

  • Net Calories: 1802 cal
  • Fat: 53.4 g
  • Carbs: 216.0 g
  • Protein: 114.0 g
  • Fiber: 25.0 g

This will maintain my weight, given my job is mostly sedentary. The important thing is this diet excludes any exercise... to fuel myself for workouts I'll eat more.

Logging will be a challenge, because I am bad at estimating food volume. Plus, it is time consuming, although I'm sure I will get faster at entering the data. I want to log for at least two weeks, preferably longer, just to see where my diet stands. Maybe I'll find it fun and keep it up even longer. During the logging period, I plan to eat like I normally would - I don't want to skew the results by putting on a special eating behavior.

Tonight I made a simple dinner: fresh green beans, deli section whole wheat ravioli (Monterey Pasta Company brand), marianara sauce (Bertolli brand), and a caffeine free diet coke. Doesn't it look good?


Dinner took ~15 minutes to prepare (boil water, boil ravioli, cut green beans and steam with my microwave steamer, heat sauce) and probably twice that to count the calories. I'll rely on the Calorie King software to do this for me in the future, because it is really tedious doing this by hand.

November 2nd Dinner
Ravioli Sauce Green Beans Diet Coke Total
Calories 600 120 42 0 762
Fat 17.5 3 0.2 0 20.7
Carbs 80 24 8.2 0 112.2
Protein 30 4 2 0 36
Fiber 7.5 6 3.8 0 17.3

I'm not sure how this dinner stacks up. It looks good to me, in that all the numbers are less than what I'm suppose to have for the entire day. The interesting thing is portion size - I had 2.5 servings of the ravioli, 2 servings of sauce, and I guesstimated 2 servings of green beans. It looks like I'm eating for two people!

This is the result of all the food I ate today:

  • Calories: 2274/1802
  • Fat: 68.5/53.4
  • Carbs: 302.1/216.4
  • Fiber: 20.9/25.0
  • Protein: 117.0/114.0

I'm over on calories, fat, and carbs. Very interesting.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


On Saturday, Francesca and I wanted to relax. We had biked with Mike and Alexandra and loaded up on Red Mill Burgers, so I suggested we see a movie. But a search of what was currently playing proved fruitless - every movie out that we hadn't seen looked horrible. Netflix is cool but doesn't satisfy the "see a movie immediately" requirement, so we went to Hollywood Video.

After checking out what was available, I suggested Troy. I was sure I saw a moment of glee in Francesca's eyes but she hid it well. ;) It came down to that or Meet the Fockers and I went with Troy.

A plot summary would be pointless because surely everybody has heard of the Trojan War. Or read The Iliad. I hope it isn't a spoiler to mention the Greeks snuck into Troy by hiding inside a giant statue of a horse they built? ;)

Instead, I'll comment on the fighting. I understand that Brad Pitt worked out for months for this role: weight lifting and weapons practice. Well it paid off because I thought the fight scenes were really well done. He fights in a "god like" fashion (after all he is Achilles) which comes down to being faster and stronger than his opponent. The long one-on-one battle with Hector (Eric Bana) was a treat, it started with shields and spears and eventually was sword versus sword. You could see Hector knows he doesn't have a chance but he can't be a coward like his brother Paris (Orlando Bloom). So he fights and is methodically out maneuvered until he falls.

Achilles is substantially arrogant, self-centered, and definitely has a "what's in it for me" attitude. Sean Bean plays Odysseus, who has a small role in Troy - he is the only other Greek that Achilles respects and listens too. Achilles doesn't think much at all of the Greek King Agamemnon, and basically doesn't care what the King has to say.

Overall I really enjoyed Troy. I'm sure students of the classics and of the era would find tons of little details where the movie departs from the book, but the whole thing is a legend anyway.