Steve Jobs

Sad to hear about the passing of Steve Jobs. I've been an Apple fan since late 2001, when I bought my first Titanium Powerbook G4. Steve was a futurist, and the latest iPhone is definitely an achievement, especially with the new AI that he was no doubt instrumental in envisioning.



LinkedIn went public today.  Facebook's business-centered competitor went from $45 a share to over $115 before settling in the 90's.  I think LinkedIn is a solid company, given that its user base tends to be more wealthy and more into networking.  However I'm not entirely sure its worth this price right now, as a friend has pointed out that this values each user at $90 a share, but since most users don't use it too much its probably more like 200-300$ each. 


Bin Laden Dead

Osama Bin Laden is dead.  I think it's time we declare the "war" on terror over.


A few thoughts on the nuclear situation

I think it is great that Americans are now concerned about Japanese exposure to radiation...

On a less sarcastic note, I hope this situation does not get out of control since nuclear power is probably the cleanest and most efficient sources of power.  Very safe too, despite what you'll hear about on the news.  Even when all hell breaks loose, it's still probably a lot less detrimental to the environment compared to coal.


NFL Lockout

The NFL Players union has decertified.  The NFL owners will likely lockout the players at midnight.  I'd say there is probably now at least a 30% chance of no SuperBowl next year.


No fly zone over Libya a bad idea

Despite pleas from some on the right and the left, imposing a no fly zone over Libya would be devastating to US interests from a geopolitical perspective.

Many people assume a "no fly zone" just means we won't allow their airplanes to take off.  That's part of it, but usually it also involves bombing air bases, among other things.  As Ron Paul has rightly pointed out, a no fly zone is an overt act of war.  And what if Qadaffi still wins?  Then we will have made a new enemy. For our interests, it is best to not get involved.


Best Superbowl Ad 2011

This was without a doubt the best ad.  Not a good car, but great advertising. 


2010 Year In Review

2010 was quite a year.  It started off with some interesting news.  For one, Apple introduced the iPad.  While I was initially a skeptic, I have to say I've done almost a complete 180.  My mom got one for Christmas, and she seems to love it.  I played with it and I agree it is pretty slick.
Moving further into winter, we had the 2010 Olympics.  This is the first Winter Olympics I've really watched and it was great.  I loved it.
In March, historical Healthcare Reform passed, but its yet to be seen what the impact will be.
Later on, we had a crazy day in the stock market.  Then a massive oil spill.
I told you why its a bad idea to buy a Kindle.  And sold mine for a good profit.
Later on in the year, the Democrats got creamed in the midterms.
And then, the lame duck session of Congress actually compromises and passes several great pieces of legislation.

On a personal note, I completed all of my running goals, which was to run a 5k, a 10k, and a half marathon.  In the end, I ran 2 5k's, 2 10k's and a half marathon.  In fact, I ran a total of 889 miles in 2010.

I also became a father in September.  And I got a new job, which I'll be starting in the next 2 weeks.

It will be interesting to see what's in store of us in 2011.  So long 2010.


Lame Duck Session = Great

There are several great lameduck compromises that actually show why this session isn't so bad after all.  These are a big bipartisan wins for Obama.

DADT - I'm very happy to report that the military's policy of discrimination against gays is over.  Don't ask Don't Tell is history, although actually changing the minute policies will take some amount of time.

Tax Cuts - This saves most American families thousands a year

START - We need to get rid of nukes.


TSA Body Scan Controversy

There is quite an uproar over the TSA's insistence that passengers undergo a full body scan.  Something I find very ironic, is that most of the uproar is coming from republicans, Fox News, etc, the very groups that have always wholeheartedly supported the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security.  These scanners actually appear to do a much better job of screening passengers than an x-ray machine.  However, I think there is still a problem with luggage, since it is likely still easy to camouflage items in a carry-on.

Anyway, there is a video circulating where a passenger told the TSA agent not to touch "his junk" and is now upset he may be fined $10,000 for leaving the screening.  People are aghast that you can't leave the screening once it starts.  But if you let people leave the screening, the screening is even less effective, since a potential terrorist could just keep trying until he did not get selected.  Anyway, I don't have too much of a problem with the scanners, or the new regulations.  I actually think this is one of the first steps the TSA has taken that addresses security, unlike the ID checks, and other nonsense.


Richmond Half Marathon Recap

On Saturday I completed the McDonald's Half Marathon (now there's an appropriate sponsor) in Richmond, VA.  The main charity involved was Donate Life.  If you are not signed up to be an organ donor, I strongly encourage you to learn how to here: http://www.donatelife.net/

This was my first half marathon and was also the furthest I've ever run in one outing; a half marathon is 13.1 miles.  At the beginning of this year, when I signed up for my first 5k, I set a goal to complete a few 5ks and 10ks this year, and if possible a half marathon.  In June I figured that signing up for Richmond would be a good idea, since it is late in the season and would give me ample opportunity to prepare.  For the last few weeks, I upped my goal and challenged myself to finish in under 2 hours (more on that later).

We arrived in Richmond yesterday.  The race expo was nothing like the larger races, like the Marine Corps, but was still decent if a bit cramped.  We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, which was surprisingly nice, in downtown Richmond.  The pasta dinner was less expensive across the street at the Marriott though, so that's where we had dinner.  We hoped to see the Poe Museum, but didn't have time.  I spent last night reading about 100 pages of Dean Karnazes's book 50/50 for extra motivation.

I awoke at 5am with multiple alarms ate a banana, got dressed and headed out.  The temperature was about 35 but felt surprisingly warm, maybe due to the thousands of people in the streets.  I decided to cast aside fashion, and forego the tights today since this was still shorts weather.  Since I had indicated I expected to finish in about 2 hours, I was assigned Wave 2, which means I could not start until 3 minutes after Wave 1 started.  There were a lot of people in Wave 2.  I drank my Gatorade Prime 1 beverage and bummed a piece of gum from a man named Bart, who said he hoped to break his 2 hour record from last year (unfortunately, he was not able to do this, falling short by less than 60 seconds).

You can follow along with my GPS route here if you want: http://connect.garmin.com/player/56561979

The first 2 miles down Broad Street were pretty uneventful.  I was able to stay above target pace (probably not a good idea) without any problems.  
Between miles 2-3 there was a rather steep hill to go over train tracks.  We then moved into a small loop down Brookland Parkway, which seemed to be a nice neighborhood.  There was a good turnout of residents here.

At around mile 5, I noticed a cramp in my left big toe, which continued until the end of the race.  Every step hurt, but it did not worsen, otherwise I may not have made it.

Next up came Bryan Park, which was by far the worst part of the whole course.  Thankfully, if I choose to run the full marathon here, this part is left off.  The roads were paved but strewn with gravel; I almost tripped several times.  There were also a lot of hills, and the roads were rather narrow.  They also decided to put the a water stop at a curve in the narrow road, which is not good planning.  Did I mention there were a lot of hills?

After the park, the rest was just mentally tough.  At this point my pace had moved from the low 8:00-8:10 of earlier miles to 8:30.  My GPS unit was set to warn me everytime I dropped above 8:45 miles.  It started beeping here.  It took everything I had to keep moving, and to make it even worse I managed to drop my Clif Shot Bloks.  I had a choice: stop running to pick up my fuel or keep going.  I kept going.  There were a lot of crowds here, mostly residents.  Some passed out beer.  I didn't take it, but I did manage to spill powerade over some poor volunteer and myself.

Once I got back into downtown, I picked up speed again.  The crowd was really good at this part and there was music playing.  The last bit is down hill, which makes getting to the finish that much easier.  I was able to muster up a sprint across the finish line.  I was given a very nice finisher's medal and got my picture taken.  

My legs felt really spent.  They cramped up considerably and I had to keep moving else I would have to lay down.  Unfortunately, the entire walk back to our hotel was up hill, but I made it.  

Here are some things I learned today:

  • Signs can be motivational.  A few that I saw today: "Run like snot."  "Don't poop your pants."  "Pain is temporarily, pride is forever."  This last one is definitely true; the pain in my toe is now gone, so it is a good thing I ran through it today.
  • It is easy to go from couch to 13.1 in 1 year.  I started running on November 2, 2009.  I ran about 1.5 miles and thought I was going to die.  I had to walk the rest of the route.  The pace I ran that 1.5 miles at was nothing close to what I ran 13.1 at today. 
  • Setting goals is powerful.  At the beginning of this year, my goal was to simply run a 5k.  It morphed into running a 10k and possibly a half marathon.  Yesterday, it was to run the half marathon in under 2 hours.  My finish time was 1:48:58 so I was able to meet all of my goals.
  • Cold water is a good pain reliever.  I felt like complete trash until I took a shower that included putting my legs under freezing water for about 2 minutes.  
  • It is all about making small steps, and not making excuses.  
So, the bottom line is, I challenge all of you to set some fitness goals and meet them this year or next.  I don't have any races scheduled at the moment, but as soon as I complete my next goal I'll let you know.

Thanks for your continued support.  Don't forget to register as an organ donor.


Half Marathon Training Completed

On August 24, 2010 I began my half marathon training program.  As of last night, I have completed nearly all of my training runs, and have no further training planned before the event on November 13.

In the past 12 weeks, I have run a total of 246.6 miles.

Assuming an average pace of 9:30 per mile, I estimate I spent about 39 hours training, or about 3 hours, 15 minutes per week.

The race begins at 7:30 EST on Saturday.  You can track my progress at www.richmondmarathon.com


Midterm 2010

As expected, Republicans have retaken the House, but not the Senate.  Should make for an interesting 2 years.  I can't say I'm too disappointed, the Democrats have done nothing with their majority, even the healthcare package fell well short of what they hoped to pass.  The only disappointment, in my opinion, is that California voted against legalization marijuana, 54-46%, though I doubt that fight is over.


My Ballot - 2010

US Representative, VA-11: David Dotson (Libertarian).  I'm not pleased with the Democratic congress, but I can't vote for Keith Fimian the Republican.  He has instructed his company's insurance carrier to not cover birth control, which is very extreme.

Questions 1 and 2 both amend the VA constitution to reduce or eliminate property taxes for seniors and disabled military veterans.  I voted no on both issues.  I don't see how someone who is a disabled military veteran is more deserving of a tax break than someone who is non-military but disabled.

Question 3 increases the amount of the "rainy day" fund from 10% - 15%.  I voted yes.  This is plain fiscal responsibility.

Question 4 requested more money for Fairfax County roads and transportation.  I voted no, because the roads don't have many issues these days.


Marine Corps Marathon 10k

I just completed the Marine Corps Marathon 10k.  My chip time was 49:30, which blows away my previous personal record of 52:51.

The start was a bit problematic.  I started in the 50:00 - 1 hr group, but it was quite evident there were a lot of walkers (or just plain slow people) in it.  That's why my first mile split was about 8:28, while the rest were all below 8:00.  

The route is quite stunning, since you get to cross the 14th street bridge, and it ends at the Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial).  This includes running on the GW Parkway, which is very scenic.  There are also views of several DC monuments.  The whole thing is concrete, so it is a bit tough, and it ends on a steep hill.  

If you are interested in seeing how I did, here are some more details from my GPS: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/54985231

I also seem to have set a new personal record in 5k if you take my second split, which was about 23:30 - 23:40.

The atmosphere was very festive.  Most of the on-course support was provided by Marines and it was very well organized.  I got a cool medal and 2 beers afterwards, which was a nice touch.