Things that amaze me

1. Sunsets. Yeah, I’ll admit it – there’s something about watching the sun slip behind the planet that works wonders for my mind. First, there’s the longer shadows, then the indeterminable period of golden light, the dip behind the trees, the brilliant gold fade to orange fade to crimson through pink, and the final fade through purple to blue to grey to night. Wow.

2. Running on trails. The trees, the quiet, the soft crush of leaves underfoot, and the slight slipping and sliding – puts a smile on my face every time. Dirt on my shoes? Even more of a plus. Man, I cannot get enough of this stuff.

3. Food. Food is good. Good food is great. And running only lets me enjoy more of it.

All right – enough of the digression.

So, the trip to Natick this week was excellent. THe class ended up being better than I could have hoped, and I think it’ll help me at the office. The running in Natick ended up being wonderful, too. The capstone was Thursday afternoon – got out of class before sunset, and went and parked on MA 135, which I believe is the Boston Marathon route. Ran through Natick Center, and veered up Marion Street. Marion Street climbs straight up a hill until it runs into the 100 Acre-Plus Town Wood, which is lined with beautiful, wide trails. Phenomenal.

Left the wood just after the sun dipped below the treeline, and made my way back into town, flashing the nod and half-wave to the other runners enjoying the fabulous afternoon.

By the way – running on Rt 135 was amazing, just thinking of the history and effort that’s gone into the 111 marathons that have passed that way. I had supper last night with a couple of fraternity brothers, and a friend of one of them who’s run Boston like 8 times. The first couple, he jumped in as a Maverick (or whatever), but he’s qualified for like the last 6. Then, thinking about Jeff and the other RBF types who have made the wicket – well, let’s just stay thinking. I need to hold the (waist)line through the holidays, then drop 20 lbs, make it through another marathon season, and then maybe, MAYBE, it’ll be worth a think.

The class was at the Army’s Soilder Systems Laboratory. We got to see a couple of pretty cool demos, including chewing on one of the new, high-tech “Shelf Stable” sandwiches, and a “Hoo-Rah” bar, the DoD’s version of the PowerBar, which is worth every penny they spent researching it – delicious.

Tonite? Took the boys to movie night at the elementary school. Missy’s off at her office Christmas party, and I’m playing with the refurbished Airport Express I just picked up. Actually, there’s not much “Playing with” that needed to be done – I plugged it in, plugged in the speaker cable and ethernet cable from my existing home network, and it works like a champ. Pretty freakin’ cool to be able to send iTunes to real speakers.

Now to build the built-in’s in the basement…

Enjoy the weekend, y’all

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links for 2006-12-14

Three quick ones

But a huge moral victory in more ways than I can count.

I blew it this morning – completely didn’t set the alarm in the hotel room correctly, and woke up just in time to make it to class. Then, class runs late, and it’s dark when we get out. Plus, I blew it in arranging the hotel, and got one between Route 9 and the Mass Pike – so running on actual streets isn’t an option.

But, being re-dedicated to the whole life concept of fitness as a life skill, I broke down and headed to the hotel dreadmill for the three miles that were on the schedule.

About a mile into the run, the two instructors for the class walked into the fitness center. We nodded at each other, and they started working out. Of course, I had to take the opportunity to crank up the incline and the speed on the mill, and the run went by. Finished with Lance Armstrong congratulating me on improving my mile time thanks to Nike+iPod.

I walked out of the center without speaking to the instructors, which likely was a mistake. I’m realizing that I’m way too hardwired as an engineer, and need to spend some mental capital on figuring out how to read people and build relationships. Anyway, water under the bridge there. I’ll bring some coffee and donuts to class tomorrow morning.

The workout was completely eradicated this evening by supper at Legal Seafood. Wow. I suppose they’re getting big enough to where I should be cynical of them, but somehow I cannot. Shellfish and a delightful glass of Spanish rioja. Only thing missing was the sparkling eyes and warm body of my lovely wife…

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Many times I wish I had this attitude

Jim Harrison said, “I like grit, I like love and death, I’m tired of irony. … A lot of good fiction is sentimental. … The novelist who refuses sentiment refuses the full spectrum of human behavior, and then he just dries up. … I would rather give full vent to all human loves and disappointments, and take a chance on being corny, than die a smartass.”

The Writer’s Almanac from American Public Media

Unfortunately, I’m well on the road to dying a smartass.

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Oh, Snap!

Wow! Sorry I forgot to post last night, but I did it! Hit all three days on the schedule for the weekdays this week, plus two nights of stretching Pilates – excellent.

Why I forgot to post? Well, mostly ’cause of “My Name is Earl”. It was a ONE HOUR SPECIAL last night. I knew it was going to be good, ’cause Earl (Jason Lee of skateboarding fame) and Randy were heading down to Central America to bring back Catalina, but it was even better than good. If you’re not watching the show – well, zip on down to BestBuy to pick up Season 1 and get caught up.

OK, back?

Anyway, Joy (Jamie Pressley) stole last night’s show. I’m still giggling from the bit she did in her last scene. Distracted me completely from pressing issues.

The other thing throwing me off was pickin’ on the guitar a bit. Missy had bought me a cheap acoustic guitar for Christmas a few years back. I’ve tried to pick it up for about 5 years, two DVD sets, and a half-dozen books, but it hadn’t stuck. Until now, that is. During my last visit to the Groton Public Library, I picked up a “Reader’s Digest (no kidding!) Guide to the Guitar”, and stuff is starting to stick. Though I think that the boys are getting tired of hearing “Bad Moon Rising” throughout their bath. Anyone else got a song to recommend that uses only the A, D, and E chords?

Anyhoo, got out of the office before sunset yesterday, and did the daily 5K at Beavertail. Few things finer in this world than sunset, running in shorts, and gentle sea breezes. There were deer grazing in the grass near the parking lot where I was parked, just outside the area marked with “Open for Bow Hunting” signs. Who knew deer could read?

Don’t like the weather? Wait a while and it’ll change

So, one of the pluses to living a mere tens of miles from the Gulf Stream is that winter’s a constant battle between cold air shipped down from our lovely neighbors to the north and warm, tropical air on its last legs. The classic Nor’easter stems from this phenomena – warm, wet air slams into frigid, arctic air, and I get to go do some XC. Yeah, baby.

Anyway, this evening’s run was a spectacular feat of endurance. There was a tropical air mass moving out of the south, pushing the cold air back up where it belongs. The consequence was that, despite a clear sky and fabulous sunset over Jamestown, there was about a 35 knot wind blowing out of the south during this evening’s 5K.

The first part of the loop wasn’t bad at all – wind was at my back, etc. However, at the turn – man. Y’know those winds that just kind of stand people up? This was one of those. I totally felt like I was trying to run uphill even though the ground was sloping back down towards the bay. There was spray coming off the waves at the seawall – absolutely amazing.

As I write this, I just swung by the car, and the temp is up in the high 40’s, up about 10 degrees from this afternoon’s run, which was up about 15 degrees from this morning’s commute. When I left the office this afternoon, felt the breeze, and saw the waves on the bay – man, that sealed the deal.

Anyway, two days down this week. I feel good!

Nike + iPod kerffule

So, there’s been a bunch of flopping and twitching lately about the fact that the wonderful Nike+iPod kit can be used to track users, and isn’t that a terrible invasion of privacy, and wah-wah-wah.

Well, ladies and gents, I hate to break it to you, but the problem is not so much that Apple and Nike failed to adequately secure the device, but that the laws of physics do not have any privacy provisions, nor do they listen to lawyers from either the EFF or the ACLU (insert your branch here if you’re outside the US).

Can I let you in on a little secret that I picked up back in middle school while reading a book on radio waves in the library? Radio waves don’t care who is listening to them – they continue to radiate from their source, in all directions, and their strength at any point in space is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source.

So, yeah – given an antenna and a receiver tuned to the proper frequency (which is in Apple’s patent disclosure for the product), it’s entirely possible to hijack the radio signal from a Nike+ kit. And I, for one, am psyched that it’s been done.

Why? you might ask.

Why not? I’d answer. The Nike transmitter is absolutely freakin’ cool, extremely low power, and cheap. Hack the protocol between sensor and receiver, and you’ve got instant motion sensing for the price of a case of beer.

But what about privacy? What about it? Do you go out of the house with your cell phone? There’s a device for which you should have distinct privacy concerns. Sure, there’s laws against eavsdropping into cell networks, but if someone’s out to harass you or otherwise exploit the Nike+iPod’s miniscule signal, are they going to have qualms about jacking into your cellular signal in roughly the same radio band?

In a larger sense, you should always remember that a loss of privacy is always inherent with the use of any wireless technology. Use a wireless keyboard and mouse? Guess what – someone with an antenna can be logging your keystrokes without even being in the same room as you, or having access to your computer. In Houston, our baby monitor operated on the same band as our neighbor’s cordless phone – we could overhear their conversations, which was supremely spooky the first time it happened – I burst into the baby’s room thinking there was an intruder in there…

There are things you can do to protect yourself. Use a wireless router at the house? Make sure you’ve enabled the encryption scheme – for most routers, there’s a HTML based interface to set the password and require all wireless traffic to use encryption. For cell phones, turn them off when you’re not yakkin’ or expecting a call. Use cash instead of plastic….

The takeaway, I guess, is that, like the old saw says, be careful about airing your dirty laundry in public – if you’re using a device that transmits, assume you’re being spied upon. If you don’t want to be spied upon, send letters.

El Grande Giro ‘007 – Licensed to Thrill

Wow, can’t believe I missed this: Giro d’Italia to open on island of Caprera

Next year’s 90th Giro d’Italia will open with a 24-kms team time trial on the tiny island of Caprera off the north coast of Sardinia on May 12 and finish in Milan on June 3, organisers said on Saturday.

Being a submariner, Caprera has fond memories. There’s been a US sub tender at La Maddelena since the end of WWII. The collective wardrooms of the Atlantic Submarine Fleet own a villa on La Madd, where I’ve spent several evenings diligently studying reactor plant operations, tactics, and techniques, as a good, upstanding fighting officer of the US Navy line should.

Oh, internet – I cannot lie to you: We got loaded on local wine and went carousing. What wonderful times, even in the dead of winter.

So, I’ve got tasking: How to get orders cut to La Madd at the end of April/Early May…

Basso signed with Discovery, Puerto seems to be ancient history and ruined careers, and I want to believe again….

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