Saturday, January 05, 2013

Solar Tower

I saw an incredible solar tower on the way to work yesterday. The sun was just up, but below a hill in front of me, and the tower was a bright pink-orange; it looked almost like a searchlight it was so strong, and seemed to be in front of the pink-purple clouds that were a little higher in the sky (the horizon was mostly clear).

Later as the sun got above the horizon, the tower seemed a bit diminished, but there came a time where the sun was mostly blocked by (bare) trees, and the tower again was more pronounced. It was mostly orange by this point, with maybe a bit of yellow-orange mixed in, and looked less like a tower than a steady jet of flame coming out the top of the mostly obscured sun.

It was gone a few minutes later, when the sun was high enough to be yellow instead of of orange.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Pattern Recognition

Morning weigh-in: 187.5#, 14.5% BF

Just put that in there to show where things stand... We did our dumbbell routine this morning, and I ate close to correctly, but when I got home (from the first day back at work in almost a month) I had no interest in riding. So in terms of my resolutions, I'm probably batting about .900 -- for today.

They came in peace, and we ate them.
Anyway, here's something I'd never seen before, until it started showing up in our local supermarket. It's called romanesco broccoli. It looked so perfectly like 80's- era CGI fractals that I had to take a picture in the store, and apparently the flowers have something to offer fans of Fibonacci numbers and logarithmic spirals as well, at least according to Wikipedia. I may get some to try eventually, but right now it looks too good to eat. And probably not from this planet.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Power Stroke

There's a significance to the solstice coming just before the New year. It's sort of like in the I Ching, when some phenomenon or process nears its maturity, the first signs of change, of the coming new phenomenon, are already starting to show themselves. We pass bottom dead center of the year at the solstice, the shortest day, and momentum takes us on to the new year when we make our resolutions -- maybe there's a crankshaft and piston somewhere, now it reaches the position to get the most benefit from any effort, and so now is the time when we commit to the efforts we resolve on. So anyway, in that spirit, here are my New Year's resolutions:

1. Get my diet under control: Things aren't really all that bad right now, my diet has been worse in the past, but I've been developing bad habits recently -- especially at work where it's easy to get a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich for breakfast and a burger for lunch -- and this is a good excuse to do something about it. Nothing too crazy: we've cut way back on eating out, basically by eating at home before we go out, and that's been major improvement.

Strange to say, it's more an appetite thing than anything else: when I'm hungry I want the greasy bread and cheese mistakes more than anything else on earth, but I'm usually sated just as well, and for a longer time, with healthy stuff, especially if I didn't already reach the "crave" stage -- I never want an apple when I'm hungry, but I eat one and I'm satisfied. Meantime, when I eat a cheese steak for dinner, I'm bloated immediately afterward but ravenous in the morning, while if I eat, say, some vegetarian dinner, I'm less stuffed afterward, and less hungry the next morning; things are in better balance when I eat to make it so. I guess the trick is to unlearn desire for the things I crave.

2. Exercise more: This goes with the first resolution; though exercise can sometimes mask rather than compensate for bad dietary choices, some of my less-than-swimsuit fitness can be chalked up to a drop-off in my level of activity, with no concomitant reduction in my food intake -- the eating stayed the same, but I was no longer burning it off. A quick look at my Garmin data shows that in 2009 I averaged about 6 hours of exercise a week -- at a time when I did not record much exercise other than cycling, but was going several times a week each to yoga and the gym, so that 6 was more likely 12 hours a week -- to averaging 4 hours a week total in 2012. So yeah, there's been a drop-off...

My exercise resolution is just to stick with a more active process. Anne and I have been running every other morning, and lifting at home on the off days. Neither workout is very intense: the run is about 2.5 miles at a 10 minute pace, and the weight workout is a short upper-body dumbbell routine with light weights. I think I'll keep that the way it is, but add an afternoon bike ride on the weight days and a short yoga routine on running day afternoons. (These configurations may change, we'll see how it works out -- yoga may be better for the morning, and weights in the afternoon.)

I think I'll keep the intensity pretty low for the first few months, though maybe increasing the volume of the afternoon workouts. Rubber and road may have something to say about these plans.

3. Bring more organization to my finances: Not much to say here -- I've fallen under the influence of Mr Money Mustache, and I just want to save a bit more money, maybe get a better handle on budgeting and knowing where my money goes now, spend it more wisely, and start investing some more of what I save.

4. Put a little more effort into work: Again, nothing much to say here, and I have no specific plan -- I'm pretty happy with my job, and I think my employers are happy with me, but there's always room for improvement...

5. Read a little more: I was planning to set a goal, say one book a week, but there are books, and books -- some are longer than others, or more difficult  reads, and these are usually the ones I like. This resolution was inspired by someone else's resolution to read a book a day for a year, but the details of how he did it (shorter books, easier books) were less than inspiring. So, since my other resolutions are more about self-improvement process than specific goals, I'm just going to resolve to read more.

6. Write a little more: This one sort of developed while I was talking about the "more reading" resolution with Anne last night. I may write in other venues (like those nature journals), but I think that this resolution will essentially mean that we can expect more blog posts here.

So there you have it -- my resolutions for 2013. I might add that I'll try to be a better person (not that I'm an especially bad one).