Sunday, August 31

Olympics - All-time hardest and videos

+ I'd swear I've written this before, but I can't find it here on my weblog. The hardest athletic event I can think of is balance beam. How do little girls do it? Tiger Woods won't hit without silence. These little girls backflip on four inches with music blaring for the nearby floor exercise, clapping for other events and announcements. How do they do it? Truly amazing.

+ kottke had a great post about Olympic moments on YouTube:
One of the best ways to watch the Olympics is to chase down all the references made by NBC's commentators on YouTube and watch them in addition to (or instead of) the regular telecast. Here are some of the ones I've found.
He's got some great stuff there I'd encourage you to check out. The two that make my greatest hits are:
Some of my others (in (why not?) chronological order):
Without committing myself, the performances that stand out to me from Beijing are Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

How about you? What did I miss?

Stokes champ election

+ This issue of Sports Illustrated includes one prediction that the Cubs will make the World Series, one that the Vikes will make the playoffs, and two that the Pats will win the Super Bowl. I am doomed ;-)

+ My friend Benet, who happens to be African-American, has a nice post about the historical nature of the Obama nomination in terms of her own family's history.

+ defective yeti mostly does comedy, but here's an interesting piece of political analysis: choosing such a young and inexperienced VP candidate will give the Dems more license to talk about McCain's age and health.

+ Remember when I posted about having coffee with the Stokes clan but no picture. Well, this is pretty much what they looked like (down to Mary's car with bike on back):

Such great folks! It's like being with family :-)

+ When they visited, Paul gave me the book Mover of Men and Mountains, the autobiography of RG LeTourneau. Very interesting book about a pioneer in the earth moving and heavy equipment industry. Out of his Christian conviction he resolved to keep only 10% of his profits and gave the rest to charity.

Friday, August 29

Friday weigh-in


Hooray! I lost 2.5 pounds last week! Finally, something more than 1!

The Weight Watchers site, when I put my weight in today, said something like 'We don't recommend that you lose more than 2 pounds a week. Please change your approach.'

Me: Are you out of your mind? ;-)

Anyway, it's a nice surprise because, as I wrote in my belated post last week, I totally fell off the Points wagon Friday, Saturday, and some of Sunday. But I was down to 198.5 by Wednesday. Up a little Thursday, but back down today. Hooray!

Impossibly hopeful wish: If I could keep up 2 pounds a week, I'd be down to my goal by December 12th. Seems kind of unrealistic, though. I mean, there's our anniversary, Disney World Vacation, probably two business trips, Christine's birthday and Thanksgiving. What do you think? I think it's too much to hope for.

How many times have I had to get down below 200 again? I think this is the 4th. That sucks.

The desperate prayer that always comes to mind:

'Dear God, please don't let me get up above 200 ever again.'

Obviously I've been the problem, and this is not a mature prayer, but there you have it.

Push-ups continue to go well for my part. I hedge because some genius thought it was a good idea to go from 69 push-ups at the end of week 2 to 99 on the first day of week 3. Not possible, at least for me. I did all of the first 4 sets, 74, but only 10 of the last set of 25. I'll either stay on this day until I can complete it or repeat the week until I can complete it. We'll see.

Thanks for your continued support. Keep those thoughts and prayers headed my way.

Wednesday, August 27

Johnny and June

Christine and I are watching Walk the Line and we like it pretty well. Most historical movies send me to Wikipedia to research the real history.

In this case, I'm looking to YouTube, too.

First off, Phoenix and Witherspoon's performances are amazing. All the more reason to look back at the real thing:

I Walk the Line - unfortunately (in a 'sad when relationships are broken', non-moralistic sort of way), Johnny was not 'walking the line'.
Jackson - Witherspoon is much prettier than Carter, but there's no denying Carter had all kinds of personality (as played up in the movie). Carter's vocal style is almost Broadway (which Witherspoon mostly did not match).
It Ain't Me, Babe - I was pretty sure this was a Bob Dylan cover.
Johnny Cash & June Carter, 1967, rare footage - interesting mostly for the interaction between June and Johnny he'd kicked his drug habit and they were married.

Upon finishing the movie, it could be called 'The Apotheosis of June Carter' ;-) She definitely comes across as a saint.

Love's angel queen

I don't know why, but Juice Newton's song Love's been a little bit hard on me popped into my head today. The video is really painful, but if you liked it back in 1982 you might enjoy listening to it again now.

While you're traipsing down memory lane, here's Queen of Hearts (also bad video) and Angel of the morning (barely tolerable video; didn't notice the cheesy arrangement when I was 9 ;-)

Tuesday, August 26

Olympics wrap-up

Well, it was a great, fun Olympics. A few last thoughts:

+ Good article from the recent SI. As much as I'm a huge advocate of peacefully rising China, it's important to remember that they have a long way to go on freedom and human rights. The IOC and NBC both took it pretty easy on China.

As for China authorities, the pretty little girl stood in for the more homely singer. Digital fireworks were added to the original picture. No protests were approved, and some who applied were reportedly detained. Tourist visa requests were denied. Foreign protesters were deported. And some suspiciously little girls helped China win the women's gymnastic team gold medal.

+ As the same article said, and Bob Costas waxed eloquent about at the close, the people of China were very friendly, helpful and welcoming. And we hope those people get more freedom as soon as possible.

+ Someone said somewhere that the US shouldn't try to match China's medal haul. I basically agree with that. If we want to invest more money, that's great (especially private money). But, they have a system we can't and don't want to replicate.

+ Another good article in SI about how Michael Phelps is not the greatest Olympian of all-time, bar none. That's probably right. Others had impressive longevity. Greatest single Olympics performance of all time? No question. Among the very short list of greatest Olympians? Indubitably.

+ My faves: Michael Phelps (of course), Shawn Johnson (Iowa, represent!), the Dream Team (despite myself, to some degree), and Usain Bolt.

+ All in all, a lot of fun, and I got surprisingly into it. Wonder if that'll ever happen again. We'll see...

Monday, August 25

Hooray for my new desk!

I finally decided I work better with my two laptops on a real surface rather than trying to use them a lot of the time literally on my lap. So I started working more at the kitchen table. Well, no offense to me, but Christine didn't like that: she uses the kitchen for her work, including stuff on the table, so I was cramping her. She likes to listen to books on tape while she cooks and cleans and washes dishes, but I don't. Plus, with school starting back, the twins need the table after school and Christine also sits for two other 4th grade friends, so I certainly need to be out of the kitchen by 3.

Besides, typing on a surface that high isn't good for my wrists.

So, I was looking for a table that would adjust down to a good height for typing. I was shooting for 24" (all the way at the bottom of what's recommended).

In addition, this table would go in the front room, which I use for an office, but which also has to double as a guest room. So this table has to fold up and disappear when guests (primarily Christine's parents) come (to allow the hide-a-bed to fold out).

So, I was looking for an adjustable height folding table. And, guess what? They're pretty expensive. I was willing to spend $75 or $100, but I was hanging up on the shipping. Couldn't find any in stock anywhere locally, and the office superboxes (Staples, Home Depot, Office Max) didn't seem to have them available to order for in-store pick-up.

Yesterday I had a brain storm: I'll build one using sawhorses and a door. I've seen doors and filing cabinets advised before, but, again, the desktop would be higher than I wanted. Plus, filing cabinets aren't very mobile (and casters don't roll well on carpet, and add height).

So, I went to Home Depot last night. Found the exact door I wanted: 18" wide (as a door, that's the depth dimension for a desktop), 80" long.

Excellent. Started looking at sawhorses...

and didn't really want to spend $20 each for the cheapest adjustable, foldable ones. So I decided, where angels fear to tread, to make my own from those basic brackets @ $4.99 for two ($9.98 for all 4).

I had some 2x4s at home from my last project, so I just bought one more @ $2.54. If your project's roughly similar to mine and you had no wood at all to start with, you'd need 3 2x4x8s ($7.62).

I already had wood screws, so I didn't need those. Added expense if you don't have any already (but you only need 24 or 32 :-).

To recap my goal and a major value for me: cheap ;-)

I bought a circular saw for my last project (around $50) and borrowed my neighbor's drill for driving screws (I have a little, cordless drill without much oomph).

Next, begin to build (this is a quote from the old Fairytale Theater Three Little Pigs :-)

I got lucky here, and didn't even realize it until the end. Since my desktop would only be 18" deep, I only made the connecting 2x4s for my sawhorses 17" long. See the luck? Purchased sawhorses would have been much 'deeper' and taken up much more space. I lucked into one of the best aspects of my project.

Next, I cut the legs, figuring I needed them 20" long, accounting for the brackets, 2x4s, and desktop thickness.

What I didn't realize until I got almost all of them cut: I didn't account for chair height and leg clearance under the table. (Can you tell I'm not a project stud?)

At which point, I panicked. I thought 'Man, I've got to add height!' So I didn't set the legs all the way up in the brackets; just far enough to catch the first screw hole. Probably added about an inch and I was still worried about clearance.

I worked pretty hard at getting the legs evenly situated at 18 1/4" from frame to ground, but the legs still came out pretty uneven. The biggest part of that was the variable width of the 'bite' on these particular brackets. If I had bought the next more-expensive model (about twice the price, IIRC), I bet my results would have been 100% better.

However, they're sitting on carpet and it doesn't need to be completely stable, so there's no problem. I don't notice any wobble as I type or write.

Time to assemble the desk.

I really like it!

I shouldn't have panicked on the chair and leg clearance. My resultant desktop height was 26 3/4". Still better than standard table tops, but I could have gone 2" lower and I think I would have liked it for typing more (especially on my work Dell Latitude D620 which runs so amazingly hot that I usually sit in on a cooling rack (like for cookies (idea may have come from Lifehacker)) or use a water bottle as heat sink (idea definitely came from Lifehacker) when on my lap).

So, that's pretty much it. Would've made some changes knowing what I know now. Got a little lucky. All in all, I'm satisfied.

Total cost for me (not including stuff I already had): $31.06 and about 3 hours, including the Home Depot trip. Excellent.

Here's the same spot, broken back down. (It really is an 'after' pic and not a 'before' ;-)

The door is easily stowed, behind the couch if I want. The legs go into the garage for the duration of the stay.

Potentially important usage note: I will try to keep 'permanent' items off of the desk and only put stuff on that is easily moved and stowed. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, August 24

Obama and predisposition

Ok, I took the plunge and support Obama on my Facebook profile. Lisa (Mark's better half ;-) asked me about it, and here's what I wrote:
sure, since Mark is a conservative, he can counter every pro-Obama point, just like a real liberal could counter every pro-McCain point.

i recognize in myself a tendency to rationalize to the left. i say i'm a moderate, even come out a moderate in those tests you can take, argue both sides, then vote for the Democrat. i see this same bent in most people, i daresay including Mark ;-)

predispositions, assumptions, presuppostions, heck, even just plain old values (not moral values, necessarily, but like 'i value X over Y'). that kind of stuff.

i've certainly never been susceptible to being argued or convinced into voting Repub, though i can recognize valid positions and criticisms. haven't run into too many many people who are truly uncommitted, though there must be some.

Friday weigh-in (a couple days late)

I did weigh-in on Friday; just writing it up now.

Weighing-in is no science. Weight varies a lot from day to day. That's one reason people say don't weigh yourself every day.

On the other hand, I started weighing in ever day on two versions of the Hacker's Diet that uses a weighted average (no pun intended ;-)

If you can keep from riding an emotional coaster from elation to disappointment, it's nice to have more data. It can even be encouraging.

Because it's possible to have 'bad' weigh-ins. Sorta like mine on Friday.

'Bad' is probably a little too strong. But at least one day last week I was 199.5. That was exciting. Friday, only 201.5. Still, I'm in that range, so that's encouraging.

Most of us want to lose weight faster than it comes off.

On the other hand, steady weight loss is usually pitched as more desirable by reputable outfits because we're striving for holistic behavior and lifestyle changes. After all, we probably never gained more than one pound per week.

Plus, I think I'm getting my points tuned. I had a problem with accounting for one of my staple foods. Now I've got it worked out. I was under-reporting points, so it'll be interesting to see the result as I stick to a more accurate accounting.

Still doing well with exercise, especially push-ups. So I'll start week 3 on Monday.

Sunday update: Ok, I wrote most of that on Friday (at least the notes). Totally fell off the wagon Friday night (pizza at a friend's house) and Saturday (in-laws in town Saturday - Mexican and Olive Garden). Going out is bad for me. Must get back on wagon. It's a waste of my WW investment to not be working on my weight loss, right?!

Ack! Almost forgot: please keep praying and thinking about me! And thanks for all of your support so far!

Saturday, August 23

Pickens Plan

My good buddy, Jim, has a post about the Pickens Plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

This Pickens guy has some good ideas: more wind generation and more natural gas (LP) for cars. Great. Some thoughts (adapted from my comment over there):

+ First, as I've said many times before, we need to let the market work on energy like it's starting to do. Would be better if we didn't subsidize gas and roads so heavily.

+ I may have said this before, but independence from foreign oil is not the goal. It's a form of isolationism that we don't need. We need to be better engaged with the world, not less.

+ Natural gas is great. Let's ramp it up, by all means.

+ Wind plan sounds good. A lot of the land he's targeting is not particularly arable anyway.

+ 3:55 (in the video): first check: OK, what's the cost of all that wind generation (new infrastructure) and conversion of cars to natural gas (including refueling infrastructure)? Surely that would cut into his $300B savings.

+ Not to mention his premise: Can we really not handle buying foreign oil? We have the number one economy in the world. Sure, we're a little depressed right now, not least of all from the housing correction. But is $700B for foreign oil per year really unaffordable and undesirable?

All in all, I'm not convinced this is the way to go. But there's no question we need to do lots of things better WRT energy.

Kinetic RPG indignation

+ Dan had a post on YouTube kinetic typography. I found this style interesting, but, from what I know of and subscribe to re:design, a little too busy, too precious. (No criticism of Dan.)

I liked the Abbott and Costello, of course, and the Hitler piece was very chilling. But I bet they both could have been even more effective if they were less fussy.

+ Clive Thompson has a point: Weight Watchers Online is sort of like a role-playing game. The more they can make it like an RPG, the more 'fun' it'll be. We shouldn't be far away from integration with WiiFit and the iPod/Nike system, right? (via)

+ The parents of the Chinese gymnasts can be as indignant as they want at suggestions of cheating. I'm indignant that their system of girls, coaches, parents, and government broke the rules.

Friday, August 22

Redeem Team is right

Had a chance to watch some Olympic basketball. It is SUCH A RELIEF that the Dream Team is better-representing us these days, both athletically and in terms of sportsmanship. It's fun to watch them play as a team and drub some of these upstarts ;-)

Mike Krzyzewski is obviously doing a great job in the wake of Jerry Colangelo's reset of the whole national team approach. I wonder if it makes Coach K any more interested in an NBA job...

Finally, I really liked Doug Collins' color commentary. Knowledgeable and calm, unlike some dufuses we get.

Wednesday, August 20

Michael Stokes

+ What makes Michael Phelps so good?

+ If you haven't seen it yet, the SI frame by frame Phelps victory by .01 seconds. So awesome!
Michael Phelps was in big trouble in the 100-meter butterfly. He was seventh in the eight-man field after 50 meters.
Look! By frame 3, Cavic already had his head up! That might have lost it for him.

In addition to being an amazing swimmer, Phelps must have some intuition about how to get to the wall fastest!

(via, which also links some of Cavic's nice post race commentary.)

+ Paul, Carol and Mary made it to Philly. I neglected to mention that they drove through Columbia and we got to grab a nice hour at Starbucks. However, we were having such a good time that none of us took a picture :-(

Saturday, August 16

I've got soul...

... but here's a commercial ;-)

I'm not too commercial. It pains me a little to embed a commercial, but...

The song dominates! (and the video's not too bad, either ;-)

Friday weigh-in

Ok, I did weigh-in yesterday; just didn't get it posted.

202. One pound down. Not as much as I would hope, but...

When I try to think on the positive side, this is life change, right? I'm trying to change how I eat for good. As long as I'm doing that and losing weight, I'll eventually get where I want to be.

Sure I wish it would be sooner. I even wish I had started on a lower-calorie diet to begin with, maybe even just liquids to get that first big bump I've gotten before.

Oh, well. The main thing is to be going in the right direction.

Further, when I got on the scale this morning (I weigh-in everyday, though many people say you shouldn't), I was 201.5. So more of the right direction.

I did all my push-ups this week, too, but came to realize I was a little mistaken last week. In the first week, you don't do the same numbers everyday: they change each day. I did 5 sets for a total of 41 push-ups Mon, Wed, and Fri. I was supposed to do 5 sets for 41, 54, and 63.

Oops. Corrected that this week, basically doing week 1 over again. No worries. Still getting good exercise, including yoga.

Please remember to pray for me/send positive thoughts my way. And thanks for your support this far!

Friday, August 15

Olympic roundup

I've been enjoying the Olympics, especially the amount of news we can get on the web. I can plan my viewing more judiciously. Miss something? No problem to watch it later. Other thoughts:

+ In that spirit, I watched some on-demand judo and tae kwon do. I thought they might be interesting. Wrong. Very boring. Stylized scoring with very little continuation. Mix it up a little, then go back to the center, sometimes scoring a point. I'd rather watch wrestling (no dig, since I used to wrestle).

+ 4 days old now, but Jason Lezak was absolutely amazing in the 4x100 free. How do you make up that much space in 15 meters?

Lezak's swim is one for the ages
Who’s talking now? USA Men’s 4x100 Free Relay!!
Video: U.S. men win 4x100m free relay

+ Is it even remotely possible that all of those little Chinese girls were at least 16 years old? My universalizing nature is tempted to call them a whole nation of cheaters, but that wouldn't be fair. Still, it casts a little pallor on the games.

IOC turns blind eye to controversy over China's kiddie gymnasts
Chinese news service reported that gold medal gymnast was 13

+ Great individual competition last night. I was really pulling for Shawn Johnson, since she's from Iowa, but it's a subjective sport and Nastia Liukin was really good and absolutely stuck all of her landings, so good for her.

Felt like sort of a referendum on short, powerful and cute or tall, lithe, and graceful.

Something else good: Shawn was very gracious re: Nastia's win.

+ Michael Phelps is a beast. What else are you going to say?

I really like the lead on this story:
On the seventh day of the Olympics, Michael Phelps rested.
I'm enjoying watching swimming a lot, including all of the events that are on around Michael. This week switches to track, which I almost certainly won't watch as much.

+ Remember when we were kids (if you're my age or older ;-)? We had one culture, only 3 networks, and the Olympics were huge. Now, my kids barely know about it and the good stuff is on too late for them to watch anyway. News flash: different world ;-)

Monday, August 11

Superman, Batman and Fuelly

+ My buddy Lexington Green (not his real name) has a GREAT post over at Chicago Boyz about the REM classic cover, 'Superman', including the original by The Cliques, which I'd never heard before. I really like it. It's crazy.

+ From my work feeds, Defense Tech has an interesting post (with an excellent picture from 'The Dark Knight Returns' on the possible reality of Batman, pointing to an interview with a guy who wrote a book on the subject.

+ A really cool website that I neither need not want: Fuelly. Created in part by Matt Haughey, the mastermind behind MetaFilter and its associated sites:
Fuelly is a site that lets you track, share, and compare your gas mileage. Simply sign up, add a car, and begin tracking your mileage.

By recording and analyzing your mileage, you can see how much money you can save with small driving changes. You can also see how your mileage compares with EPA estimates and the mileage of other drivers using Fuelly. Tips and a discussion forum also offer ways to save. The site is free to use, so sign up to start tracking your miles today.
In my humble opinion, it's not worth all the work. Saving gas is not going to save the planet (which may not need environmental saving in the first place, and if it does, it's going to take something much bigger).

My opinion/position aside, it's cool and very well-done, like everything Matt does, and I wish him all the best.

Friday, August 8

Friday weigh-in

Well, I did what I was supposed to do: a good amount of basic exercise and kept under my points. But I only lost a half pound since last week, so that's pretty disappointing. I'm hoping it was just one of those bad weigh-in days when, if i weigh myself tomorrow, I'll be another pound lighter or so, but we'll see.

Benet swears I should be sure to eat all of my points. This is really hard to believe. Maybe I'll try it this week.

Something that makes it hard to believe is I get 33 points per day, plus another 30-some discretionary for the week, PLUS a point here and there when I get enough activity in. I'm eating way more than my previous diets (although not with the periodic binges).

Like I said, I did well with my exercise, including all 41 of my pushups, broken up in three sets, repeated M, W and F (today). So that's good.

Well, the main thing is to keep up the fight. And I sure would appreciate your continued prayers and well-wishes. Thanks!

Thursday, August 7

Viking coffee battle

+ I really like Galrahn's post The Greatest Battleship In History. Short version (he's said this before) current Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have more firepower than any warship in history. The rest of the world can't compare. But we keep building more and proposing bigger ones. I close with his final comment:
The surface fleet is too big (ship sizes) and too small (numbers).
+ Another NFL season begins, another year of hope for the Vikes. I even wore my tshirt today. SI has a postcard from Vikings training camp where the biggest question, no surprise, is how will Tavaris Jackson do this year?

Otherwise, the defense and offense are both upgraded and pretty highly regarded. We'll see...

+ Pretty interesting post about Starbucks' attempts to get their oomph back. (via)

Wednesday, August 6

Various and sundry (Dark Knight)

I psyched myself up so much about The Dark Knight, that I started watching clips on YouTube (some of them illicit). Thoughts:

+ Gary Oldman's understated performance as Lt Gordon is perfect.

+ I've always thought of Alfred as a proper English butler, but Michael Caine's accent is more common.

+ This interview with Christopher Nolan talks about a conscious choice to show more of Batman and his fighting style.

+ In this interview, Heath Ledger seems very unsettled, fidgety. Foreshadowing?

Monday, August 4

Dark Knight on IMAX

Woo hoo! Plans to go to Charlotte Friday night to see it with my buddy, Kurt, and maybe my new pastor. No one else has answered my emails and they are all lame ;-)

Here's a glowing TDK review that says it's the best comic movie ever and 'one of the best movies ever to show up in a theater'.

Now I don't know that I'm ready to go that far, yet, but it's pretty awesome.

Also, I was mistaken about the whole thing being filmed in IMAX. Only some scenes were. From the same article:
Nothing is wasted, there’s not a minute in the film that doesn’t fit into a bigger, broader, deeper picture. That goes for everything, right down to the way Nolan filmed it. When you see it (and you will), settle for nothing less than IMAX. Portions of the film were shot in specifically in IMAX, but not as some gimmick. They play a key role in setting the tone of the story. Most interior scenes are shot using normal film, and when displayed in an IMAX theater, they use only a portion of the total, massive screen, thus conveying an intimate setting. Exterior shots, flyovers of the city and amazing, breathtaking chases are done using IMAX, stretching out to cover the entire, enormous IMAX canvas, conveying a tremendous sense of scope by rote of contrast. Gorgeous, dark, city flyovers are used to hammer home the size of the world Batman and Joker are operating in, and pummel the audience with the scale of this place and hopelessness of Batman’s task in guarding it. None of that will be quite so evident seen anywhere but in IMAX, and you owe it to yourself, perhaps more with this film than with any other in the history of the format, to see it in the best way possible.
Awesome. Can't wait.

It brings up an interesting point that I've been mulling, one possible imperfection in the direction. I have a minor quibble with so many (how I remember it) daytime shots of Gotham, Hong Kong and fully lit shots of Batman. I don't think that's quite as effective as something darker. Batman is the Dark Knight AND the Dark Night Detective. Shadows help our willing suspension of disbelief. Burton's Batman seemed to hit this tone right more (again, in my memory). I'll watch more for that this time.

And here I see '“The Dark Knight” has been out for 17 days, and it’s already No. 8 on the all-time North American box-office chart'.

Excellent. Shouldn't have a problem getting more excellent Nolan movies. And the next Batman movie ALL in IMAX if he wants.

Ooo. The picture in the second article makes my point for me:

Look at all the light. Why so bright?

Hypothesis: Nolan was lighting Ledger, who deserves every ray. Would that make him the star? Believe me, more light does not work well for Bale as Batman.

One more interesting item, and then to bed. My buddy, Bill M, told me that Jack Nicholson warned Ledger. I understood that to mean about getting too deep into the psychopathy of the Joker. This article makes it sound more like Nicholson warned Ledger about Ambien. But then it goes on to say:
Ledger had acknowledged that his brooding character drained him physically and mentally and caused him to have trouble sleeping, a condition for which he said he took prescription pills.
Very interesting connection between the two Jokers.

Sunday, August 3

One hundred pushups [updated]

(Spending the whole weekend at home with no major engagements is really good for my weblogging! ;-)

Ok, I'm going to start the hundred pushups training program tomorrow. I've been thinking I need to do more pushups. In fact, I've been looking for a simple weight bench to do dumbbell flys to work that same muscle group. Will probably still keep the latter aim, but why not give the pushups a try? Besides, I like this kind of training program and had great success with one the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college.

10 minutes 3 times a week should be easy, right?

I did the initial test yesterday and got 20 without really killing myself. Not too bad considering how much weight I'm carrying (though it ranks between poor and fair on this WaPo test).

Tomorrow: five sets totalling 41 pushups. Pumpitude here I come ;-)

Extremely important update: I decided I needed to take one of the WaPo tests that I'd be better at, so I took the Sit and Reach Flexibility test. 19.5 inches = excellent. Might try again tomorrow night after yoga ;-)

Saturday, August 2

Another gem from the geniuses at Despair

The most bang for billions of bucks

I really like, as I've said before, Bjorn Lomborg's approach to world challenges: what will give us the best return on our investment (including results sooner rather than later)?

I think, though I cannot confirm, that I first stumbled on his thinking on MetaFilter back when we were living in Tulsa. Could have been this post - First things first :: prioritizing the world's problems - but, again, I cannot be sure.

(Part of my point in my Lomborg time speculation is that I'm pretty sure I came across his stuff before Tom's, but the similar approach is part of what attracted me to Tom's thinking.

All of that to say, Lomborg's apparently running a similar series in the WSJ. The first article is very good: How to Get the Biggest Bang for 10 Billion Bucks. If you are not acquainted with Lomborg's thinking, I urge you to read it! A small taste:
In poor countries, where heart disease represents more than a quarter of the death toll, these cheap drugs are often unavailable. Spending just $200 million getting them to poor countries would avert 300,000 deaths each year. The lower burden on health systems, and the economic benefits, mean that an extra dollar spent on heart disease in a developing nation would achieve $25 worth of good. ...

It makes sense to combine prevention options like bed nets with subsidies on the new treatments for poor nations. Spending $500 million would save 500,000 lives a year -- most of them children.

Each dollar spent on ensuring people are healthier and more productive would generate $20 in benefits.
Compare this with global warming where, given current approaches like the Kyoto Protocol, 'for each extra dollar spent, we would get 90 cents of benefits'.

Please, people, can't we see reason here?!

Friday, August 1

I have an old website?

Yeah, I have a few of my old things floating around the intarwebs. I was looking for something else tonight over on MetaFilter and found this old link:

do we have a future?

I'm not as worried about Joy's fears as I apparently was then. I've accepted Jaron Lanier into my heart ;-)

Most significantly, to me, it pointed me to the pages I had on Tripod back in the day:

welcome to Sean’s home page
Sean’s recommendation page
Christian recommendations

Just so cute! :-)

Friday weigh-in

203.5. Pretty good, but the initial loss is always the fastest. It's like the body wants to shed weight.

So, I'm encouraged - 3 pounds in 4 days - but I know it's probably not a number indicative of the days to come.

And don't worry: I ate pretty normally. In fact, I ate MORE on the Points program than I'd been eating under my own 1500 calorie program.

That may have been part of the problem. There were some indications that maybe I wasn't eating enough in my previous attempt. It'll be REALLY interesting to see if eating more actually helps me lose weight.

So, keep wishing me well and praying and thanks for all the support so far!