Sunday, December 20, 2015

Like, When You Jump Down And Land On The Ground, And Your Legs Flex To Jump Again

Just about the bottom of the year, the solstice only days away -- official winter about to start, and already summer latent in the sky. (It's been freakishly warm lately by the way, but the colder weather has finally arrived, and it feels like Christmas at least, even if it doesn't look like it yet.)

Meanwhile, speaking of triggers being pulled...

Friday was my last work day of 2015, and it was the last day of a hectic, stressful week. There's a decision I/we made about two years ago, and the time we targeted is fast approaching: I'll be giving notice at work, in either the first or the second week of the new year, and my career will be done. This has been in the works for a while, and the target date has long been established; the events of the past year (slow ratcheting-up of the stress levels, increasingly hectic pace, increasing levels of bureaucratic/HR bullshit, and the loss of a bunch of vacation days and holidays, as we get integrated into the company that bought us), and then finally this past week, are not really why I made this decision, but they've certainly done nothing to make me change my mind.

I'm not sure what will come after, but the basic idea is "early retirement." We are now financially independent, if we live simply and sensibly (and maybe even if we don't), and though my original plan was for a career change, maybe some computer/web freelance work, we now are both ready to stop working, at least for a year or two -- until (perish the thought) we grow bored, and tired of "doing nothing."

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Trigger Pulled And Deed Is Done

I left my bike and shoes/helmet/pack/gloves out overnight Sunday, as well as a bunch of clothes I put on the line to dry, expecting yesterday to be sunny... I noticed a cloud on the way home, figured maybe a ride wouldn't be smart, then realized I might not even beat the rain home - almost made it built not quite. Anne had already grabbed my laundry and brought it in, but the bike stuff got a bit damp.

Either way, no ride yesterday, so last night was the night I installed Ubuntu on Anne's old MacBook Pro - it was so old it could no longer get any software upgrades, but the hardware itself still worked fine, and this was something we'd been planning for a while. She'd already backed up all of her files, so I basically overwrote the entire drive, no more Mac and hello Linux.
Looks good, though it will probably take a bunch of tweaks before everything's "just so." If I like what I see I might also upgrade my laptop.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Woo! Holiday Weekend!

Well that was a fun one!

I took off Friday and we had an afternoon pizza party (making our own pizza in the bread oven); Anne invited a bunch of her nieces and other friends with young children, and we had a bedlam-styled blast.

Saturday was the 4th, and unfortunately it rained - as in, it poured - in the morning, so we did not get in the ride we had planned, but we puttered around the house, and later in the afternoon we stopped in at Greg and Judy's BBQ before going up to Jim Thorpe.

We got in our bike ride yesterday morning: just over 32 miles, casual pace. Home, more easy living, then we went over to Steelstacks to watch the World Cup final. Awesome game! Awesome weekend.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

House Guest

We signed up for something called Warm Showers, where touring cyclists can arrange to stay with us overnight, and last night we had our first guest: a young Korean guy named DK Yu, who was passing through on his trip around the world - he'd started in Istanbul, had biked through Eastern Europe, Germany, Denmark and Iceland, and was now working his way to LA and then to Australia. Pretty cool! We had John and Donna over as well, so it was quite a dinner party...

Between his need for bike repairs, and the crazy weather blowing through, he'll be staying again tonight, so maybe we can get more of a chance to talk with him.

Monday, June 29, 2015

High Summer

Morning weigh-in: 196#, 10.5% BF

I had off Friday but took it easy, basically sitting on the porch and finishing Zero History by William Gibson, though we did ride over to Steelstacks to watch the USA-China soccer game (and check out the new elevated walkway through the steel mill), stopping at McShady's for some wings with Scott & Carrie and her friend.

Saturday was rainy so I took it easy some more, doing a bunch of coding and web browsing - we went out that night to see Spy.

Yesterday was a leisurely bike ride: we rode to Sals to watch the MTB race, then over to Emmaus for coffee. Saw Doug & Lori later that evening at Brew Works.

The living, as they say, is easy.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Well, That Escalated

Though I can't say it escalated quickly... You might remember those programs I wrote a few weeks ago, to automate some task at work that I didn't really have to do more than once or twice (but it was a good, fun exercise). Well, I added some things to it, namely the ability to print output as an AutoCAD command script, to draw the defining lines and arcs of my tubes, and as an AutoLisp program, to generate a 3D model of the completed set of tubes. (See the picture below, where my program's results were run through AutoCAD: script on the left side, and lisp-based model on the right.) Anyway, that was an evening of coding here, a few hours on the weekend there...

After I got that working, I thought it would be a good idea if I could access the program via web browser, in other words turn my programs into a CGI script -- what I actually did was write a shell script to act as a "wrapper program " for my other programs, and accessed that via CGI. Some more weekend time burned, some learning curve here and there (I also cleaned up the programs themselves, added error checking and made them more robust in general), and my little extra project worked!

It is up and online, and you can check it out here --  though the input might not make sense if you're not familiar with the problem (which I've been deliberately vague about), and the results are not very useful without AutoCAD. But there it is, and I've been playing with it at work, just to watch how quickly it runs -- seconds, instead of half a day to do it "by hand" -- and how quickly the results draw themselves.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Another High Point

Morning weigh-in: 194#, 9.5% BF

Memorial Day Weekend just flew by in a blur: Friday night with friends in Southside, Saturday towpath group ride and long lunch in Easton, family picnic on Sunday (we took advantage of having cleaned the house for the previous weekend's party), then Monday we just sat in the backyard and read, and napped...

Monday, May 18, 2015

We Burned Through That Weekend

We had volunteered to host our friend John's surprise 50th birthday party, which was this last Sunday, so Friday was an enormous amount of yard work, along with a visit from the plumber around noon (which meant getting up early so we could do all of our weekend errands, running around and being back home before the plumber). We got a lot done, all in all, but it was a long whirlwind of a day.

Saturday was the second in the "Earn Your Beer" running race series, the Weyerbacher 5K. Pretty hilly course, and we kept it to just one beer after the race, but the event was a lot of fun and great people watching. I remembered the first race, where I came home after 7 miles and 3 beers and passed out, so that's why so many of our weekend chores were scheduled for Friday. (I actually did nap for a bit, but Anne got in some more gardening...) The afternoon and evening was spent cleaning and preparing the inside of the house.

Sunday was another early start, getting the last preparation done, and people starred coming over to help around 1:00; the party proper starred at 2:00, and John showed up at 2:30, and was properly surprised - or so we thought. He gets up to say thank you, but then adds "this is a surprise, but not the one you think: Donna and I planned this together, because we are getting married today, right now." And they did!

Most awesome surprise party ever.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It Took A Village

Morning weigh-in: 194#, 12% BF

I have a CAD puzzle or problem at work, bending groups  of tubes in 3D to achieve a certain configuration. It's not hard but it's tedious, and involves a lot of iterative trial and error for each tube - and there are dozens of tubes in each configuration. It takes me about half a day to work through one full configuration, and there are a whole bunch of configurations to look at...

I figured out a way to automate the process, but we don't have access to any real computing power here (we're not allowed to have any programming capabilities, and the most advanced math package available to me is Excel). So, what I did was write a C program at home, using only the typically available libraries, and once it ran correctly I put it on my SDF shell account and compiled it there. Now I log into SDF from my phone and run the program to get my results. It's like I'm using my phone as a calculator; it's (barely) less tedious than my other method, but the process is now moving much faster.

Jumping through hoops FTW!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Squeeze Play

Morning weigh-in: 193#, 12.5% BF

That looks nice, but the lost weight is mostly suppression: I ran yesterday, biked last night, ate a few handfuls of popcorn for dinner, and ran again this morning. My current normal weight is probably higher, but this kind of push is what forces the trend line down.

Tonight I may skip riding, so we can run a bit longer/harder tomorrow morning - we signed up for a (hilly) 5K on Saturday, and I could use the focus.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Moving Forward

Morning weigh-in (Friday): 195.0#, 11% BF
Morning weigh-in (Saturday): 194.5#, 14% BF
Morning weigh-in (Tuesday): 194#, 12% BF

Towpath ride Thursday night, followed by dinner and a nap (which eventually merged into bedtime). Another towpath ride  (longer but easy) Friday night, and some still-easy-but-more-real MTB at Nox on Sunday, while Saturday was an all day schoolwork fest...

I finished the last test for that accounting class (due Sunday at 6:00 PM) on Sunday morning, and after thinking about it, this may be my last NCC class for a while. They're interesting, but they were easy A's, not nearly interesting/challenging enough for the amount of work and time they eat up, and I've flip-flopped on my original motivation: I'm not seriously considering a career change anymore. More on this some other time.

This morning was a short run, tonight will be a towpath ride.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Procrastination FTW

Back when I did that header calculation program, I needed some routine that would do linear interpolation of stress values based on values stored in a database. My eventual solution at the time was to use a function within the C program itself to get the values from the database and do the interpolation, but this bothered me because I thought the database itself should calculate and return the interpolated value. I looked everywhere for how to do this, but found nothing online (other than offers to show me how for a fee).

Then Monday came, with a nice sunny afternoon (perfect for a bike ride), and my accounting class final looming, and a thousand other chores crowding in on me, and I sat down and learned how to write stored procedures for MySQL, then wrote a linear interpolation function.

So once again, I solved a fairly trivial, non-problem problem, simply by having more urgent tasks on hand to blow off. The function works great, too.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Monday, Sunny Monday

Morning weigh-in: 195.5#, 13% BF

Pretty good weekend, especially for getting things done: Saturday was yard work (gardening/planting for Anne, and cleaning up junk for me), and Sunday was more of the same, plus mowing, laundry and house cleaning. Then came a short hiatus where we did a towpath ride, then I got a haircut...

Ended the night at Brew Works with Donna and John.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Just For The Record

Morning weigh-in (Friday): 194.5#, 16% BF

Just thought I'd get that registered, since it's the first time in months that I've been below 195 pounds.

There might have been a bit of weight suppression in there: I skipped the ride Wednesday night, but got one in on Thursday, a short towpath ride that felt like I was bonking or something. Got home and ate dinner, which consisted of a baked potato and some cookies, no wonder my weight was down. This morning was a mile run followed by breakfast, before I had a chance for an official weigh-in, and that's just as well, because yesterday was chores and errands followed by a night out -- I was probably fully unsuppressed by the time I went to bed.

Today is a beautiful day, and I am enjoying it for now by playing with the computer (I got a book on WordPress and am playing with my other site); in a few minutes I'll be going out to do a bit of yard work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

There And Back Again

Morning weigh-in: 195.5#, 11.5% BF

Not bad, but I've been doing some running, some riding, some healthy eating...

If we go back a few Saturdays... I ran in the first race in the "Earn Your Beer" series, a 10K (actually 6.65 miles) from Allentown Brew Works to Bethlehem Brew Works. I did it with Donna S, Carrie O and Kris R, though they all beat me. (Anne missed out because she was fighting a cold.) I finished in 1:15, then had my two beers I earned, then another one, then went home and took a nap.

Sunday I did a short towpath ride, just to clear my legs, then spent the day doing homework, and all the next week I was at a plant in Missouri for work -- hard work too, climbing around taking measurements.

Homework again Saturday, then a towpath run (with Anne and Lori P) and a towpath ride (with Doug P) on Sunday. Monday was a rest day, and yesterday and today are short towpath rides.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Morning weigh-in: 196#, 16.5% BF

Had a salad for lunch yesterday, then a very healthy dinner, with a towpath ride in between...

Counting backwards: we saw poet Billy Collins Tuesday night with Judy (and a whole bunch of other people we recognized in the audience) at Lehigh, then last Thursday we saw the Decemberists in Charlotte NC with Emmi, and the Sunday before that we saw Hamlet at the Wilma Theater in Philly, followed by dinner with Anne's niece Heather who works there.

(By the way, we were on vacation last week, going to Philly, then southern Virginia, then Charlotte and finally Durham. Great trip but we were exhausted afterward.)

Tonight, sad to say, is a viewing for my friend Lori's mom, who passed away last weekend.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Morning weigh-in: 197.5#, 14.5% BF

Cycling should start in earnest pretty soon, and those numbers will hopefully start looking better not long after. Ran 4.5 miles Saturday, 1.7 with sprints (OK, a sprint) this morning, and we've been pretty good about the yoga and lifting too.

It's old news now, but we had a bit of excitement last week: Anne smelled smoke in the middle of the night, so we got up and the power was out. The light of a flashlight beam revealed that the house was full of smoke, so we got our of there pretty quickly, and found the whole neighborhood blacked out and full of smoke, something nasty that smelled of burning plastic. The 911 operator told Anne that there was a warehouse fire in town... We went out for an early breakfast, then after work we came home and aired out the house. Could have been a lot worse, but it was still pretty exciting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Has Sprung

Morning weigh-in: 198#, 14% BF

Bit the grass ain't riz yet, even if the birds are back and most of the snow is now gone. We got in a good (but still cold) run this morning, and Sunday was a longish 4-miler with a couple of sprints thrown in; we've also been doing some yoga and weights the past few weeks, and it's starting to show, in my arms & shoulders if not yet in my waistline...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Holding Steady

Morning weigh-in: 197#, 10.5% BF

Not too bad, still working on doing the weight...

Haven't had a chance to run this week (until this morning), so I've been getting into the weights-at-home scene again. It was surprising, and disheartening, at first, how much I'd lost, then pleasantly surprising how much has come back in just a week or two.

But I did run this morning, just over 2 miles. Felt good.

Monday, March 16, 2015

I Swear I've Been Good!

Morning weigh-in: 199#, 11.5% BF

Except for maybe last night's dinner, a Rueben with hot wings at Brew Works...

RIP Steve Schmidt: That was the painful, stressful thing I couldn't talk about last week. He'd been sick for a while, we knew that, but it turned out to be much worse than we realized, and he passed on Saturday morning. There's a lot to be said about Steve, and his place in our lives as well as his role in the Lehigh Valley cycling community, but it'll have to wait. This past week has been a bit difficult.

Meantime, we hosted some people overnight Saturday for that climate change conference, and that was surprisingly smooth and pleasant -- I'd been stressing about this since we made the decision to host, but the two young women who stayed over were pleasant and charming (and unobtrusive), and in the end I have no regrets about it at all.

Any, it rained all day Saturday do we did some morning yoga and weights, and I did a short ride on the Turner yesterday. The trails? Soon, but not yet. (Roads are fine, but I was on the Turner with high hopes.)

Friday, March 13, 2015

For The Record

Morning weigh-in: 197.5#, 11% BF

Just checking in to post those weights. I had some discouraging weigh-ins during that little hiatus, and also started eating breakfast in the morning (not the cause of my weight problems, but instead a step in the right direction) and I like to weigh myself under the same conditions every time, ie before eating breakfast, thus I was conveniently unable to do any official weigh-ins.

Those bad weights were in the 199#-200# range, by the way, nothing more serious than they had been, but discouraging after I started to try to keep track and cut down... Since the last post though, we signed up for a 10K+ running race and have been training, or "training," intermittently ever since; I've also started to do some light lifting and calisthenics at home too, which I think actually does more for weight loss than even the harder kinds of cardio.

There's a lot to write right now, bad and sad news -- we're fine, but that's not true for big chunks of our world, more on this when I can say more -- and much that's good as well, but all that news will have to wait for another day.

Except this: we decided to go to Denmark this summer; we'll be traveling with our friends Donna and John. Donna has friends there and visits every so often, and we decided to go along and see what this Nordic Socialism and Bicycling scene is all about.

Also this: we've been thinking of doing that "Warm Showers" thing, sort of a noncommercial AirBnB for cyclists. This weekend we're giving it a dry run, not with "Warm Showers" per se, but we've offered a place to sleep for some people in town for the Climate Change conference at Lehigh.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Morning weigh-in: 199#, 13% BF

Well that's not good, maybe a little to much time sitting on my butt this weekend, eating snacks while the plumbers did their thing. (We found a leak in our hot water tank & had to replace it, so we went with a tankless system, which was an all-day install on Friday, then we got a new kitchen sink on Saturday.) Got my homework done, anyway...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Down Or Up With DCB

Morning weigh-in: 198.5, 23.5% BF

That's what you get from bad breakfast/lunch choices, kids... Got home last night, plumber came over to look at our system -- our water heater's tank started leaking & needs replacing, and we're debating whether to upgrade to a tankless system -- then did 20 minutes spinning in the basement before dinner and some mindless internetting. This morning was fruit and cottage cheese, hopefully lunch will also be smart.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Back To Reality

Morning weigh-in: 197#, 14% BF

Not bad after a weekend of outdoor fun and healthy living -- too bad I went on a bad food binge today. Nuff said.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Boots Come Off

Happy Valentine's Day! We're up at Schroon Lake with Eric & Kris, John & Renee, and Scott & Carrie. We drove up yesterday, and today we got in a full day at Gore Mountain. Awesome day, even if it was frigid -- and I also was very happy to get my ski boots off when we were done. Tomorrow we'll probably do some XC skiing, but dinner comes next.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gonna Go Down To The Wire

Morning weigh-in: 198.5#, 12.5% BF

Spent the evening, from about 6:30 until midnight, doing accounting homework and I'm still not finished. I have maybe three or four hours to go, but tonight is supposed to be for packing for the long weekend (Adirondacks with friends, we need to find/bring all our winter toys.), I'm not sure I can do both tonight. My plan was to not bring the laptop, but it looks like I'll be doing some schoolwork this weekend anyway... I know: so sad, must bring one more toy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Little Goes A Little Way

Morning weigh-in: 198.5#, 14% BF

Got home last night, did a half hour on the trainer -- all I could stand, really -- then heated some leftover beef & cabbage and ate it with homemade kimchi, and banged out about four hours of accounting homework. I have to do the same again tonight, at least in terms of homework, since it's all due Monday and we'll be away for the weekend (Thursday night is for packing). Anne was with friends at the Brew Works, and was disappointed I couldn't join them, but hey -- homework's almost done and I'm down a pound.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Still Here

Morning weigh-in: 199.5#, 11.5% BF

I seem to be in a bit of a holding pattern here. The weekend pushed my numbers up a bit with the usual... let's not call them "bad choices," we can just go with "weekend nutritional choices," but the real culprit is the fact that I'm just not getting the exercise I need. That's the notch up to which I need to kick it.

Got home last night, blew off my basement trainer spinning to play at the computer and call it doing homework. (My accounting class is actually going very well though, and I did get a lot of studying done last night, as well as some more of the java self-study I took on.)

Dinner was awesome: sausage, onions & mustard greens with homemade egg noodles.

Tonight I should try for spinning again, but I still need to finish this week's accounting assignments, which are due while we'll be away this weekend.

Balance is what I really need...

Monday, February 09, 2015

Uh oh

Morning weigh-in: 199.5#, 14% BF

A little bit of weekend un-suppression?

Friday, February 06, 2015

Winter, Not Quite Mute

Morning weigh-in: 199#, 13.5% BF

Still trending, sort of...

No spinning last night, but we are getting ready to go ice skating at Lake Nockamixon in a few minutes. Lunch yesterday was a salad and a sandwich, dinner was homemade tacos, and we followed that up with two beers at Brew Works -- we closed the place, which wasn't very impressive since the place was dead and they closed early.

Thursday, February 05, 2015


Morning weigh-in: 199#, 14.5% BF

A meaningless, statistically insignificant change from yesterday, but at least it's meaningless in the right direction.

No spinning last night, did some accounting homework (in other news, I'm taking an online accounting course) along with dinner, then read, or re-read, some from The Name of the Wind. Some yoga and cottage cheese this morning, maybe some spinning will happen tonight.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Back Again

Morning weigh-in: 200#, 14% BF

I guess that's what "starting from zero" looks like... Did 20 minutes on the trainer last night, had healthy dinner (followed by two beers). Moving forward, always moving forward.