41 Years, 59 Miles May 31st, 2011
Yesterday was my 41st birthday, so I biked 59 miles.
I got this crazy idea from my friend Burt, who, since turning 50, has set and followed a goal for himself: each birthday he runs 100 minus his age in years, in miles. So I thought, if he can do this as running, I will try it biking.I left at 9 am and got back around 3. I decided to head west to Boulder and then north to re-explore some country roads I used to enjoy when I’d bike from my former house in north Boulder. I saw approximately 64 cows, 33 horses, a dozen random unidentified farm animals, 11 rabbits, 43 prairie dogs, 8 squirrels, 2 dead snakes, 1 snake skin, 2 dead birds, 159 live birds/ducks/geese. Around halfway I found myself in Longmont debating about where to get lunch and just standing there I somehow managed to fall off my bike, getting sidewalk rash on my knee and injuring my middle finger. (I’m hoping it’s not broken, if it turns out it is then there’ll be one more bird to speak of…) Anyhow, this is called “making memories“; it was Memorial Day, after all. I added these fresh right-side ailments to my already bruised right foot (where I dropped something on it Saturday) and sore right wrist (fell hard on it snowboarding last week).
A description of this ride would not be complete without mentioning the weather. At the start of the day there was fog and a cool mugginess, which turned to general cloudiness with hints of sunshine. Then when I was enjoying the beautiful but unsheltered St. Vrain Greenway Trail southeast of Longmont, somehow it started hailing and raining. Pea-sized hail falling at 45 degree angles eventually results in one or two hitting your face and this stings a little. I was glad to have a helmet. Heading south from there on County Line Road I noticed a bank of clouds black as night to the east. The image of a man suspended on his bike in the Wizard of Oz briefly came to mind. But, then the sun came out. However, I wished the hail would come back when the 30 mph winds kicked up. This meant my last 8 miles were entirely uphill even on the downhill, being sandblasted and tossed around unpredictably. I was glad to have a helmet.
Typical Colorado weather? Probably. I do like the drama and variety… just not the wind!
In spite of little planning for this ride, I was at about 58 miles when I got back to my apartment so only had to do a little extra tooling around to reach 59. See my route.
I know what you’re thinking: this girl knows how to party on her birthday, huh?
Well, I do find life isn’t complete without both yin and yang. It so happened that someone I know was having a birthday party in the afternoon, at a stunning house in north Boulder with sweeping views, great food and drink, even a dancing violinist and various other activities. His birthday was actually last week but I thanked him graciously for having a party to celebrate. Then 2 of my good friends took me out to dinner + dessert for a bit more of a personal celebration. So I had an all-around great day!
Oh, and on my drive back home I added a coyote to my wildlife sightings.
Resolutions and Laughter December 31st, 2010
Today is that day when many people set New Year’s resolutions. According to one study, about half of us make them, and only about a fifth of these people will succeed in keeping them.
I’m in the first half that doesn’t make resolutions. Not because I don’t have goals or I think that I can’t keep them, rather it just feels wrong to wait for a date that comes once a year to make important changes or affirmations.
Instead, I try to keep a list of things I want to do and a list of things I’ve done. After I had been doing this awhile, I realized there are a few things I should try to do every day:
- explore somewhere new
- learn something new
- meet someone new
I think the first one is the most important; not only is laughing personally fun, it can be positively infectious. I don’t feel like I did enough of it in the past few years, so I’ve been making up for lost time. In doing so, I realized that my laughter falls into certain categories. I’ve seen others describe laughter in as many as 16 stages, but I approach it a little differently and have come up with a more manageable 4 types:
- Normal Responsive Laughter – this is your basic situational laughter that comes from jokes, sitcoms, irony, mildly goofy friends, etc. It generally includes snickers, chuckles, cackles, etc.
- Giggling – this type originates more from a generally happy feeling within rather than from some external source. Just after Thanksgiving I was having a good day at Eldora with my cousin Mark and I found myself in this stage, giggling at my snowboarding foibles. (As an aside, I know I’m in a happy place when just saying the word “foibles” starts me to giggle.)
- Side-splitting / Pulling a Muscle – I considered grouping this one in with the next stage but it isn’t quite the same thing. It’s sort of an extreme on the Normal Responsive Laughter type, accompanied by a brief jolt of physical pain in the abdomen somewhere, but with no crying. Usually I have to rely on a good friend surprising me with something that should have been obvious for this one. Or possibly something from Urban Dictionary.
- In Tears – this is probably the orgasmic equivalent on the laughter scale. It happens infrequently for me (I’m talking about the laughter kind; the timing of the other kinds are none of your business). Like other orgasms, it’s best when shared. I remember a time in La Crosse with my friend Travis, heading down to the bars on 3rd Street one night, I don’t at all recall what was so funny, but for several minutes I was uncontrollably in tears.
Happy New Year everyone – make those resolutions if you have to, but don’t forget to laugh!
Why Blog? Why Tech? November 29th, 2010
I decided to start a blog. I’ve been thinking about this for a few months, as something I should probably do, perhaps even something I want to do. It goes along with an ongoing realization that I want to make my living doing something in web technology rather than going back to work as an actuary.
Practically speaking, I realized I needed an outlet for showing my work, and a blog can help with that. I have a website, which in the past I’ve mostly used for showing photos and doing some testing. I recently gave it a face-lift, and while I still have a number of personal things on there, they are no longer at the forefront, and I want to embed my blog there and make it and some other more professional things more prominent.
So, what brought me to realize I should venture into tech instead of remain an actuary? Why give up the $100k+ annual salary, the job security, the cushy office environment? For one thing, I had already done so… in July 2008 I decided to take a break from my career as an actuary, leaving WellPoint where I’d worked for 7 years. I intended this hiatus to be a year or so in duration, but it has turned into over 2 years now.
Another realization that tech is more my thing actually started way back in my first job working as an actuary, where I learned SAS. While I remained in actuarial positions during most of my 12 years at 3 companies, I often found myself more attracted to programming and related things, like learning all the little Microsoft Excel tricks I could wrap my brain around. I happily lose myself in coding for hours on end, and when I get things working I feel a great sense of satisfaction.
As far as this blog, I’m not sure exactly whether I’ll stick to a small set of topics or be a bit all over the place. While I intend to make it mostly about my fumbling around in web technology, I will probably do an occasional post about travel, photography or some other life-related concern. I’ve found that sometimes I should just let go and see what happens rather than make a distinct plan. Lately when I do this I sometimes get a bit more than I was expecting, and other times I get exactly what I need.