Ask and Ye Shall Receive January 18th, 2012
Well, I asked for it.
Even though it was quietly and I told no one, it doesn’t seem to matter. As always, the question: “did I bring this to myself, or did I just see it coming?”
I’ve been learning to expect these things – if I even expect them – to come later, have a delay. “Patience is the companion of wisdom”, the sign said. This time, however, it came way sooner than I was wanting, and in a way I never would have expected.
But this confluence of events is one I know I must act on. I wrote of “righting a wrong turn” earlier this month. Well, perhaps that wasn’t a wrong turn after all. Maybe it was to line me up for this. Like it’s all part of some master plan. Every thing happens for lots of reasons. What becomes of it is not up to me, but that’s not important; the important thing is I recognize it and act; ride the wave.
Steve Jobs described situations in his life that prepared him for future events, saying “you can’t connect the dots going forward … you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” I still like to argue that you can connect the dots, most of us just don’t see the pattern well enough, or let preconceived notions of certain event’s meanings cloud our judgment.
A phrase popped into my head today, I haven’t the slightest idea why I thought of it, but I know it has meaning. I.e, I know this is either a “dot” or a connection. A particle or a wave. I just can’t figure out whether it’s the original one or the opposite that pertains to me. Or, both.
No vision, all drive.
All vision, no drive.
The Forbidden Planet October 29th, 2011
Last night on the Forbidden Planet: complete blur.
The 80/20 rule was followed
The 20 as acquaintances came first
Still so many I did not see
I saw life passing me by once again when I said ‘hi’ to 5th Element
I said I was one of her 4
But I really rather like the idea of being the 6th
Randomness invited me over to the Otherside
I did not get a chance to find out Weather I could see my reflection in the Mirrorman
I got caught in a Bizarre Liz Triangle!!
I was happy to see the Southern Sun again
And, too, the woman who started it all
Or at least started my absurd relationship with the Whether
Pennycat told me that maybe my idea is not too crazy after all
I had too much to drink
There was a bunch of ice
And we all agreed that time passed too quickly
But it’s quality, not quantity
For me, at least.
Or I should remember that.
Not nearly enough pictures: Flickr
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.
26 Pounds Lighter April 8th, 2011
I lost a bunch of weight in 2010.
My #1 reason was that I just didn’t like how the extra pounds made me feel and made me look. But I was also bumping up against the overweight threshold on the BMI scale, and my doctor had even cautioned me about it.
I started out in March 2010 somewhere between 145-150 pounds. I rather un-optimistically wondered if I could get back to what I weighed just after high school (about 120), more realistically hoped I could reach 130, but in actuality felt skeptical I could accomplish much of anything.
My strategy was rather basic and traditional: reduce fat and sugar, be mindful of portions, exercise more.
At first it felt like the extra exercise was only in frustration: lots of sacrifice with not many pounds coming off. But at some point eating better just sort of became habit, and it helped that I realized many ‘bad’ foods actually made me feel lousy. Exercise was key as well – I got a road bike in late May of last year, and then proceeded to literally bike my ass off over the summer, culminating in a 110-mile ride in one day in October.
My rate of weight loss seemed to go in phases:
March – August 2010 (6 months): dragging along at 1.3 pounds / month
September – October: jumps to 5.5 pounds / month
November – December: moderates to 3.5 pounds / month
January – March 2011: GAINED 1.7 pounds / month
I blame most of my recent gain on winter cabin fever and a cold I got in early March. I think I will lose it somewhat naturally with the good weather boost that spring provides, getting me on my bike or out hiking more often.
I’ve heard it said that losing over about a pound per week is too rapid. I suppose it depends on your initial weight, but for me, I think it was good advice. But again, maybe the trick isn’t so much the speed as making it a habit so that you’re less likely to revert back to old patterns.
Some specific eating strategies I used or continued:
- Reduce or eliminate chocolate. This was probably my biggest weakness – I used to indulge myself with it at least once a day. I found I could still have it once in a while but I would take a really small piece of super-dark chocolate and suck on it instead of chew it.
- Avoid most dairy. It helped that I’m a bit lactose intolerant. (I’m a cheesehead who doesn’t eat much cheese.) Be sure to get your calcium some other way though.
- Switch to no-fat where you can. Smoothies are a great breakfast: 1 banana, 1 orange, about half-dozen frozen strawberries and 1/2 cup non-fat yogurt and blend. (One of few exceptions on my no-dairy rule.)
- Lighten sugar. After abstaining for a while, I realized sugar has an unpleasant aftertaste and I really didn’t want it so much anymore. I still have some in coffee but I don’t drink a lot of coffee.
- Avoid soda*. Get used to water or tea (plain or fruity – with no sweetener). Juice in moderation.
- Avoid chips and similar snacks*.
- Make more food at home.
- ¿Quieres Taco Bell? Go Fresco.
- Hungry and know you shouldn’t eat more? Drink a bunch of water.
* I was already doing these things.
My take on a few debatable recommendations:
- Don’t skip breakfast or you’ll eat more the rest of the day? After a smoothie I’m hungry in an hour or so. Cereal or bread makes me feel hypoglycemic a few hours later so I tend to avoid those. Protein is more filling but then you have to be careful not to have fat along with it. I end up making some sort of unpredictable choice here.
- Drink or don’t drink alcohol? I didn’t cut it out, though I debated it for a while. I read about a study saying those who drink have an easier time losing weight, not harder.
- Are diet drinks ok? On the one hand the sweetener could make you crave food, on the other my cousin Mark seems to live off the stuff and he’s pretty skinny. Unnatural sweet drinks make me feel a bit weird so I just tend to avoid them and can’t really provide too much first-hand experience on this one.
Somehow I did it! A few things I found after losing the weight: I really did feel a lot better. I’m sure I must look a lot better too. I suddenly could jog for several miles at a time instead of feeling agony after a half mile. I got a clean bill of health from my doctor and she was pretty impressed that I weighed 26 pounds less than I did on my previous visit a year prior.
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.