Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My 2008 Review

Well it's here, the last day of 2008 has begun and is about to end. I just wanted to get a quick post out to say that I had a great year!

What cool happened this year?
Now that 2009 is about an hour away, I think it's time to set goals for the year so that I stay happy and driven. I'll post my resolution (merely for my records) shortly...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


My eyes have been opened!

I've heard a lot about jQuery in the last few years, but was too stubborn to try and figure it out.

I thought it was not for me; I barely did any web development.
I thought it was something that only pertained to elite web developers.
I thought it was probably too complex to learn... let alone use.
I thought it was just a fad.
I thought way too much.
I thought wrong!

Tonight I was chatting with a buddy of Skype and asked him how to get around a problem I was facing in my web app. He turned me onto the jQuery site and praised how useful it was. Of course, my immediate reaction was a cringed and I thought "damn, now I have to try and learn this thing".

Man, was I wrong; there isn't much to learn at all! I simply went through the 5 minute tutorial on how it works and I'm up and running with a killer javascript API.
jQuery is a fast and concise JavaScript Library that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating, and Ajax interactions for rapid web development. jQuery is designed to change the way that you write JavaScript.
If you have ever used javascript (or html even), download this and add it to the top of your page html header section. Period. Thank me later...

Be sure to go through the tutorial: How jQuery Works - jQuery JavaScript Library

Thanks Ivan!

Friday, December 12, 2008

DevExpress Refactor!

As most of my geek friends know, I'm a huge advocate of DevExpress CodeRush with Refactor! Pro add-in for Visual Studio. I honestly feel lost when coding without these two tools and they are the first thing that I install on a new box.

It's a great product. However, I never understood why they named their product "Refactor!" with the exclamation point. I always thought it looked out of place with the exclamation point after it, but they trademarked it and everything... Well, tonight I was going through some nasty code that I'm working through and saw a set of methods that I needed to fix, so I highlighted them and pressed [CTRL]+[3] to create a region and then I typed "Refactor!".

I get it now.

Friday, December 05, 2008

CodeMash 2009

I CaN't WaiT!! Jason just posted his excitement about the session list for CodeMash 2009! I must say that it is very impressive. This event kicks ass! This year will be very different for me, as it's the first time ever that I'm going as an attendee rather than an exhibitor. The first year, I took my family, last year I went with my DD family and had a blast. This year, I'm going solo! No family, no booth, and no last minute presentation changes to worry about with James. I never minded hovering around the booth talking about Data Dynamics great products, but there was that whole "look professional" aspect to it.

This year, InfoPlanIT is sending me and I'm free to not worry about anything for 3 full days. I will be wearing un-tucked street clothes and I'm going this year to just learn, learn, learn. My latest project at InfoPlanIT has got me doing a lot of web development these days. I've been trying to learn the best way to build customizable enterprise business intelligence web portals... from scratch. The session list at CodeMash is very impressive and gives me a lot of different opportunities to learn from (Ruby, Silverlight, Flex, F#, and so on..).

If you are into technology and can talk your employer into sending you to CodeMash, then, by golly, do it! This is the hippest event in the midwest and you will get your money's worth, ten fold! Not only in the value of the sessions, but also in the fun factor, I mean it's an indoor water park!?. When you're not hanging out with geeks talking about code, your jamming out to Rock Band or screamin down the slides at the indoor water park. Oh yeah, you can also learn about the latest and greatest technologies in the industry by some of the smartest people in the industry.

So there it is! Lots of .NET, Silverlight, Flash, Python, Ruby, Java, PHP, F#, you name it... there's even sessions on developing applications for Microsoft Surface computer and the iPhone. Excuse the huge link, but I'm that impressed with where it takes you. :) I'm going with a wide open mind this year and not restrict myself to any one topic. Hope to see you there! Oh yeah, did I mention I'm taking my drumset again!? I told you this event kicks ass!

Monday, December 01, 2008


Tonight, Jennifer and I went to town to recycle our cardboard, magazines, newspapers, plastics, and drop off some clothes at the Goodwill. I realized tonight that recycling should be less stressful and made more mainstream and easier. I know this sounds selfish and lazy, but it's true. If you want to recycle, you have to make the conscious effort and either go to some recycling drop off location (like Jen and I do), or get with your trash company and get on a "recycling plan".

Recycling should be a mandatory and free service for every trash company in the US. The ideal solution would be for me to throw all of my trash (milk cartons, newspapers, beer bottles, pop cans, food scraps, etc..) into a single bin, just like I do today. I would take my trash down to the road once a week (again, just like I do today). The trash company comes and puts it in their truck, and compacts it down just like normal. Once all of the garbage gets back to the company, they run the garbage through some magic machine that gets out all of the aluminum, all of the metal, all of the plastics, papers, iron, copper, leaves, grass clippings, clothes, shoes, wood shavings, glass, , etc... Once all of the different materials have been sorted out, there would only be a handful of actual trash that would ever make it to the landfills.

I know it sounds far fetched, because it really is. However, I feel somebody needs to step up with some ideas to start making baby steps with the garbage that people just pitch. I drive by landfills every now and then and just cringe sometimes. Trash companies should try to start thinking of a way to (somehow) sort out what is recyclable vs. what is trash, rather than just packing it all together and unloading it into the ground. People are lazy by nature; I mean, I know Jennifer and I are. Making recycling an effortless process is key in my opinion.

If a new company came into town claiming they were working to resolve this problem, I would pay 2x more than I do today and make the switch.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Google Maps Update

I logged into Google Maps today and saw that they had subtly changed their UI. I really like the new concept of their navigation controls on the top left, as well as the draggable Google dude. Before I wasn't too keen on the whole "Streets View" button. It felt like I had to make the decision up front as to whether or not I wanted to view peoples houses, etc... It was interfering sitting at the top with the other views (Maps vs. Satellite), but didn't really 'fit'.

The new UI allows the user (ie. Me) to find the address I want as I would normally, then when I get to where I want to go, I can then decide where I would like to see 'Street View' simply by dragging the little Google dude onto the map. If there is no image available for that area, it will show up, "Image not available" and that's it. It's simple and elegant.

Eventually, I could see Google integrating Google Earth functionality on their site (using Flash or something) and I can't wait for that day! Until then, I'll just keep checking their site, recommending it to everybody I know, and wait impatiently for more updates. If you haven't checked it out, be sure to do so.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


This is how I picture it all going down today. Notice that Ohio St. is on top of Michigan St...

This picture was taken in Chicago where Michigan Avenue crosses Ohio Street.

View Larger Map

I just had to take the picture because IDOT put Ohio Street is on top of Michigan Avenue. :) PRICELESS!!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 21, 2008 "Movement Against Unsolicited Phone Book Delivery"
Movement: ...stopping the madness.
Ok, who's idea was it to print a 1,000 page book and send it to every American whether they wanted it or not? Jennifer and I get 2 or 3 a year and we end up throwing them away or giving them to people that need one. Back in the day, it may have made sense. However, today most of us use the internet, or our iPhones, or some digital address book to keep track of phone numbers. I know 95% of the time whenever I need to find a phone number for "donatos near newark, ohio" or some random company, I just Google it! I get the number in sub seconds. Honestly, I haven't used the phone book in quite a while because I'm usually near the internet. Besides, everybody that is "in the book", can be found "on the web" anyway (duh).

I've decided that Jen and I can live without the book; I haven't told her yet though... so. (?) I'll just explain that I "did it for the children", and it'll be cool. :)

I'm anxious to see how it will all play out:
  • Will I be able to keep a comfortable lifestyle without the book?
  • When I tell Jen about the big news, will I get the "you did what" w/ complimentary eye roll?
and (most importantly)
  • Will my effort really help save our planet?
I guess the reason for my post is to say this: If you get the Yellow Pages and/or White Pages, then please know that they have websites. You can take advantage of technology, de-clutter your house, and save a tree. I took the plunge. Stop relying on "the book" and just use "the web".

Thank you Corey Haines (aka: Trucker Dude) for the tweet!

Oh yeah, another way everybody can help save the planet is by switching to your 'trees' theme in Gmail. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Stellar Funk

Stellar Work
I'm kicking ass at my new job and I've just recently (last week) began implementing Data Dynamics Analysis into our product suite at InfoPlanIT. It's very exciting and everybody seems to really like it. I'm learning a lot in the mean time as the requirements are forcing me to really focus on the "architecture" of the solution rather than just the end result. I learned my lesson the hard way when the last version got convoluted with "quick fix" code everywhere. We decided to just hold off on refactoring the old solution and give 100% focus to the new (DDA) solution instead. I'm pumped about getting this into the customers hands; they're gonna flip out when they see this new pivoting chart thing! :)

Stellar Side Project
Ben and I are still grinding away on the BuckeyeOutdoors plugin for SportTracks as well (details). This thing is turning out to be really slick and our beta testers are real excited about it. Even Steve Runner is using it and rumor has it that he loves it! :) Ben is great to work with, he takes ideas and considerations very well and it's been a pleasure to work with him. We've become pretty good buds in the meantime, so it's a win-win-win. We are expecting to release the V1 product of the plugin within the next couple of weeks, so for all my running readers out there stay tuned for a slick plugin!

Funk Running
I've been in a deep funk lately in regards to my health and my passion. I've only been running about 3 times a week and they're not the ones that leave me feeling like I'd gained anything with them (no speed, hills, intervals... just nice jogs). Since my stellar PR @ the Columbus Marathon, I've been lounging around and just "recovering" for the last month. :) Today I got out and did a nice 3 mile trail run in the snow and it rejuvinated me to get back outdoors for the winter. Call me crazy, but I love running in the cold weather.

Funk Blogging
I've also been slipping on my blogging. I've had some people email me to see how I'm doing and I realized that blogging was really the only way that some of you know what I'm up to. :) Even more so now that I never leave the house. I've totally lost touch with reality and society since I'm working from home full time. I actually have a huge backlog of post ideas that I want to blog about, so I may start picking them out one at a time and get back into my groove.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to. Busy, lazy, and happy. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

SNR Russia Blog

Back in June, I told you about a new blogging buddy of mine, Scott, that was traveling to Novosibirsk for business. He was directed to my blog by a friend of his and he quickly caught up with the blog and became a reader.

Just last week, Scott began his journey over to Russia and he is staying in Akademgorodok (the same place I stayed) while he teaches at the Novosibirsk State University. He has been through the Moscow Airport (though I think he went through a different one than I did). Regardless, he has been blogging about his visit and I must say that it's fun to read about his experiences, and see pictures of buildings and places that I visited.

If you get a chance, head over to the SNRRussiaBlog and read up on his daily experiences.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Remembering Heather Pick

A beautiful young wife and mother died today after a 4 year battle with breast cancer. Heather Pick was a news anchor for Channel 10 News in Columbus, Ohio. Jennifer and I watch the news every night @ 11pm. We switched to Channel 10 News when Chris Bradley transferred from Channel 6 (he's an awesome weather dude) and we quickly got to know all of the Channel 10 News team very well. It is as if we lost a friend too. :( Here is her full story:

Today I was outside on the tractor getting ready for our bonfire and I came inside to ask Jennifer a question. I saw that her eyes were filled with tears and she told me that Heather Pick died today. I couldn't believe it! She was so young and pretty and full of life that nobody would ever guess that she was fighting the terrible disease unless she told you. She was a very strong voice for breast cancer awareness and did a lot for the community.

My thoughts are with her family and friends. She has left behind two young children and a loving husband. I didn't know her personally, but I must say that I feel as though I knew her simply from watching her on the news every night for the last few years. We will miss you Heather!!

Channel 10 is dedicating the whole day to her memory and it is very touching... Her early passing makes me (again) realize how short our time is on this planet. :(

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Forget the PR 50K

I just signed up for the first ever Forget the PR 50K at Mohican State Park this morning. Today was the first day to sign up and I did it while I was eating my breakfast. Let the training begin! :)

My good buddy, Rob, is the coordinator of this race, and he has put his heart and soul into it. :) Rob grew up running through the Mohican State forest, even as a kid. He's also participated in the Mohican 100 mile race a few years as well. So it's only fitting that he organizes his own race here. If you're into running beautiful trails in the woods for a couple of hours, then go sign up. It's going to be a great trail run!!

Congratulations Rob! I'm looking forward to this race, and can't wait to get my first race buckle.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gas Prices Fall

But I'm still bitter as hell about the whole thing. I seem to get more and more mad as they go down.

It's almost as if the oil companies are putting it in our faces at this point. How can gas go from $4 / gallon down to almost $2 / gallon in the same year!? My biggest pet-peeve these days is listening to people around me praise the oil companies and the government for lowering the gas prices. Not me! I'm still mad as hell and will be for quite a while...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

iGoogle Now

Wow, I've not looked at my personalized Google page in a long time. Today I was directed there when I tried to find out how to translate french to english. In my search results I saw a link to add a translating tool to my Google home page, and this lead me down a series of clicks that brought me to my updated Google home page. Wow! Totally different from what I remember.

Stop: Go there now:

I really like how they've added the expandable tabs on the left of page. This helps them layout the information very elegantly on the main content area, while keeping the left side as the navigational area. I can hide or show the subcategories as I wish, and showing them let's me scan them very easily and painless.

For example, I have 3 groups:
  • Home
  • Quantum
  • Fun
Note: The fact that Quantum is in this list tells me how long it's been since I've used my personalized Google home page.

Below each group is a list of sub categories. For example, under 'Home' there are all of my various Google services: Blog Reader, Gmail, Calendar, News, Maps, Weather, Notebook, and so on.

Under Quantum, the subcategories are nothing more than daily RSS feeds from various Scientific news sources.

Under Fun, I have local movie times, various bookmarks, TV program schedule, Word of the day, etc...

I could see me adding a lot more categories to this when I find some time. One idea is to add various groups like
  • .NET Programming
  • Application Design
  • Trail Running
  • Hiking
  • Product Searches
Anyway, if you haven't checked out the latest user interface on the Your Personalized Google Page, you should definitely check it out and try to use it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Blogging Revolution begins...

Tyler finally realized that blogging is what all the cool people are doing. Welcome to the 'in crowd' my friend. :)

Columbus Marathon 2008


I did it! What a great experience it was too. Similar to my last marathon, I thought about downgrading my goal to simply "beat my last time", because 4:30 seamed like a far stretch. This was more than a half hour faster than my last marathon. This was 2 1/2 hours faster than my first marathon! Regardless, I stuck to my word and aimed for the 4:30 goal anyway. The end result was me running the best race of my life (so far). I walked away from this marathon (actually I hobbled, but...) I left nothing on the course and have a stellar PR to show for it!

I ran the whole race... meaning, I didn't walk a single step or stop for anything the entire 4 1/2 hours. I didn't realize that fact until after I crossed the finish line. Once I realized it, it really hit me that I'm getting stronger with every race. I can't believe how far I've come since I set out to be a runner last year. It feels very good.

Pre Race Training
My training had gone great up to the race. I was slipping up on my schedule of runs, but I was getting my miles in. My weekly routing was shot because I've been so crazy busy with everything new (new job, new projects, new schedule, etc...). I was able to fit in my 21 mile training run 2 weeks before the race. Then the week before the race I ran my World Wide Festival of Races 1/2 Marathon with a very nice time. The day after that race, I finally finished my 100 pushup test. Basically everything had fallen into place and I was in top-top shape (for me anyway) going into the marathon.

The day before the marathon, my dad and I cut down a huge tree in my side yard, so I had an intense full body workout and I was feeling it. After climbing trees with a chainsaw, cutting firewood, and then hauling wood and brush all day, I was sore. By the time I got to bed and fell asleep, it was almost 1am. I only had about 5 hours before I needed to head to the starting line for my 26.2 mile run.

Starting Line
I called Nick and Rob to try and meet up with them, but never got too. The starting line was absolutely packed. There was no way I was going to find anybody in that crowd. I literally found a parking space, pounded a gel pack and a gatorade and made it to the starting line right before the gun went off.

Miles 1-5
This was easy running! I was doing 9 minute miles with no problem. I actually felt like I was holding back at times. I knew better than to take off like a banchee and burn myself out too quick. The first few miles were very crowded. I was weaving in and out of people and moving aside for those that wanted to pass me. I literally forced myself to find my own pace and just relax. I hit every water station and took a gel pack at mile 4 so that I could begin my feul and hydration plan.

Miles 6-10
Again, these were easy miles. I was sill keeping my quick-but-relaxed pace of 9;15 miles consecutively. I was starting to work up a sweat so rather than holding my handkercheif in my hand, I decided to put it on my head so that I could just do some "hands free running". I must say it was pretty nice. :) I always run with a water bottle... always. Anyway, these miles were very uneventful and I was just enjoying the race atmosphere. Lots of spectators and lots of entertainers along the way.

Miles 11-15
By this time, the sun was out and it was turning out to be a beautiful day! When the 1/2 marathoners separated from us, the crowd thinned out a lot and I was running on an open road by myself for a few miles. I had runners about 30 yards ahead of me and 30 yards behind me. I was still keeping my pace pretty quick. I had let my miles get down to about 9:45 - 10 minute miles by this point, but I still felt strong and was very confident about finishing in under 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Miles 16-20
Here, I was starting to feel the regular marathon "pains". It wasn't necessarily pain, but rather I was feeling the things that runners feel when they run long distances. My hips were hurting, my shin muscles felt like they were separating from the shin bone, and my lower back was acting up from time to time. My abdominal muscles were pretty sore, but I'm not sure why. I've ran these distances before and never had abdominal muscle problems. The only thing I could think is that it was probably from the tree climbing the day before.

I called Jennifer around mile 19 to see where she was at. She told me that she was still at home! She hadn't left yet and I only had 7 more miles to go. To both of our surprise, I was kicking ass and was going to be done by noon at this rate. I couldn't wait to see my family at the finish line. The girls were going to make signs for me and just the thought of seeing them cheering me on at the finish line perked me up a bit. After I talked to Jennifer I put a little skip in my step for about a mile.

Miles 21-25
Ouch, I was really feeling the pavement here. I'm used to running on trails mostly and really don't run for such long distances on 100% roads. I'm not sure if it's the way I run or if it's just "running on roads" in general, but there is a big difference. I was really starting to slow my pace down through here. Putting in the faster miles at the beginning was proving to pay off. I did a few 11 minute miles and maybe a 12 minute mile. I was still on pace to beat my goal though, so I didn't let it get me down. I'm really kicking butt at this point. I saw everybody around me dropping off like flies. People were walking, some people were stopped along side the road stretching or sitting even. It felt good to jog by them knowing that my race plan was working.

Mile 26.2
I rounded the corner and headed down the hill to the finish line. I was looking for my girls with every step. There were probably 2,000 people lining the streets though and I couldn't find them anywhere. :'( I did hear my name on the loud speaker and was hoping that they heard it too so that they could find me running. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours 27 minutes 31 seconds!

My Reward
After I crossed the finish line, I hobbled around looking for my girls. I called Jennifer and she said that they were looking for me, but couldn't find me. I totally understood because there were just way too many people at the finish line. We eventually met up and all decided to eat at the Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner. Here is a picture of me with my trophy girls at the finish line:

Time Off
This will be my last marathon of 2008. I'm going to take the rest of the year off and do some chill running with no set training plan for a while. I'll be preparing and planning my 2009 race schedule in the mean time and really hope to do more ultra's next year (no roads, just trail runs). This is my first year of being an official distance runner; I've ran 3 marathons and 1 ultra marathon. Not bad for a rookie!?

Mission "Distance Runner" accomplished!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jazzy Quote

I really enjoy reading Kimpassionate's kid quotes. Therefore, I thought I'd share one with everyone...

Yesterday, I overheard Lizzie and Jazzy talking about some of the words in their activity book. As I walked past them, I heard Jazzy say:
Yeah Lizzie, cause there are all kinds of whites. There's black and white, and white and wong, and white and left.
I can't make this stuff up.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Data Dynamics Business Intelligence Suite

Today Data Dynamics announced an insane discount on their extremely powerful and feature rich component package: Data Dynamics Business Intelligence Suite for only $899!

This suite includes Data Dynamics Analysis and Data Dynamics Reports together. For a comparison on what this means, each one typically sells for $1,499 each. That means that they are offering both for less than you can typically purchase one. The two products truly deliver a full blown business intelligence solution. Trust me! They've done the research and interviewed the proper people to prove this. If you've heard me talk about these products in the past, but never gave it a second thought, please download each product and run it against your own data. You'll be a believer right away.

Both products have been built from the ground up at Data Dynamics. Features are constantly being added and samples are continually updated to help teach you what each product is capable of doing. Watch some of the screencasts (DDA / DDR) if you are not sure what they can do, and see what you're missing.

Update: Oct, 6 @ 9:30 pm
Data Dynamics Analysis just announced support for trend lines, part-to-whole calculations, extracting data from the selection, and many other new features. Download it now and see for yourself... I am!

See what people are saying:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Meadows Family Charity Auction

Event raises $20,000 for local family | | The Newark Advocate

Talk about a heart-warming day in Newark, Ohio. The entire community came together today and raised $20,000 at a 100% volunteer donation auction for a 27 year old widowed mother of 3 girls. Jennifer and I took the girls and spent most of the day there bidding on stuff. We had a really good time, and there were so many people there that we knew. This auction helped shed some light on a very dark day that took place last month. Lucy Meadows husband was violently murdered in front of his family in his home by his best friend, over a stupid bottle of Oxycontin. Here's what I know (which isn't much).

Back on August 8th, James, Phil, and I were in Tennessee at CodeStock. I got a call from Jennifer around 8am that next morning and she was on the edge of hysterical. She told me about this horrific murder that took place about 6 miles from our house (that's considered "close" out here in the boondocks), and we knew all of the members involved. The victims were James and Lucy Meadows and their 3 little girls (Mackenzie, Madisen, and Morgan). Apparently the night before, they were letting their close friend, Jason, stay the night. James had recently undergone surgery, and therefore had a prescription for Oxycontin and a bottle in his house. Unfortunately, Jason had a very strong addiction to Oxycontin and he killed his best friend to get access to these pills.

Jason wanted some of James' Oxycontnin, but James refused. James wouldn't give Jason any, so Jason stabbed James and then went for Lucy so that she could get it. Lucy struggled and fought off Jason; she suffered strangulation bruises and many cuts on her face, arms, and fingers... She struggled with Jason in front of her 3 little girls. Luckily, Lucy did fight him off and she is now raising her 3 girls. For more details, I'm sure there's a lot of information on the internet. I know a lot more than I'm writing, but see no need to share all the details here... they really suck.

I can't imagine how scary that night must have been for Lucy and (especially) those 3 little girls; they literally watched the whole thing unfold in front of them. I think about them a lot. Attending James Meadows' funeral last month was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Lucy was there with all of her bandages and stitches and she was "a rock" (as Jennifer says)... she smiled and let people shower her in love. She was a hero that night and will always be a hero to those girls. The funeral was full of mixed emotions, there was a lot of sadness, a lot of love, a lot of hate, and a lot of confusion. I was experiencing all of them and it's had a very large impact on me. The worst part for me was letting Morgan (the 5 year old, and Lizzie's friend) take us up to her Daddy's casket. She put her little hand on his head while she talked to us about him. I cried like a baby while she talked. Jennifer and I talk about the Meadows' girls a lot.

Tonight was absolutely amazing. More people showed up than anybody ever expected, and more money was raised than was ever expected. Our girls played with James and Lucy's girls the entire night just running around the gymnasium. They were just being kids, and that was comforting to watch. All the volunteers had shirts that had "In Memory of James Meadows" and "We Will Never Forget..." Everything was paid with through donations. All of the money went directly to Lucy. How wonderful is that? However, no amount of money will bring James (aka: Daddy) back.

The thing that I remember most about James Meadows was that he always had a smile on his face. It is amazing how such a good person can go so violently and sudden. His death has really had an impact on me. I don't take my time with my girls for granted one bit. We miss you James.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My New Job

As I recently stated, I changed careers... Well, last week was my first full week working for InfoPlanIT and I really like it so far. My new job title is not really defined, but I guess you could say that I'm a "business intelligence developer". My role is to develop business intelligence solutions for clients. Period. I am also the lead developer on the company's flagship product: Business Analyzer

The company is based out of Chicago, but InfoPlanIT has clients all over the world. So there is definitely an opportunity for travel. Jennifer and I took a few days earlier this month and went up to Chicago so that I could meet everybody and get acquainted with the main office. We had a lot of fun, though we didn't really get to go around and hang out together a lot. Jennifer had a lot of free time, therefore she shopped while I was out getting introduced everywhere. In her defense, she did shop at the "discount stores" in downtown Chicago. :) We took lots of pictures, and I'll be sure to upload them to my online photo album soon...

So going back to my role in the company: if you look at Business Analyzers' homepage, you will see that it has a large focus on a certain pivot table control. Yes, that's right, the Business Analyzer uses DynamiCube to deliver a dynamic dashboards and reports in a completely disconnected manner. Since I've come on board full time, I plan to integrate Data Dynamics Analysis and Data Dynamics Reports heavily into the product for the next version.

As an old employee of Data Dynamics, I know exactly how solid their products are and how committed they are to ensuring top quality and ingenuity into their products. Integrating Data Dynamics Analysis into Business Analyzer will add so much to the product.

So there it is, I have moved from a focus in .NET components to actually using them in real world .NET applications. How exciting!? I must say that it's really fun being on the other side of the API. Most of all, now I get to do all fun things like continuous integration, test driven development, refactoring, and all the other fun stuff that us .NET developers love to do.

Best of all, I get to do it from the luxury of my own basement.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Indian Run 2008 - My First Ultra

I did it!
Yesterday I was introduced to Ultra Marathon Running and I loved it! It was definitely one of the hardest things I've done up 'til now and I want more. :) My last two marathons put me on my butt for quite a while after the races. The Trail Marathon put me down for 2 days, the Grand Island Trail Marathon put me out for 1 day. This race was 11 miles further, so I thought I would be down and out for a while... it didn't put me down at all!?! Today my legs are surprisingly fresh; I still can't believe it. You'd never guess I ran 37 miles yesterday if I didn't tell you. I'm sure it has a lot to do with my long training runs, but I didn't expect to feel this good at all. It is a nice surprise.

For those that just want the results and not the fluff, here is a quick summary:
  • Started around 7:15
  • ran 60 kilometers (ie. 37+ miles)
  • met a great new friend
  • struggled on the last few hills
  • fought a spout of nausea
  • ended around 3:45
  • drove ~2 hrs home
  • I feel great today
For those that want the whole story, read on...

Friday Night
I drove down the night before and camped out under the stars in my sleeping bag. I stayed at the same place I stayed last year. I wanted to get to bed early because my race started at 7am, which meant I had to be there by 6:30am... which meant I had to wake up around 5am to break down the tent and drive to the Hocking Hills Dining Lodge. It was hard to fall asleep since I was not tired. I got in the tent and tried to go to sleep around 8pm. Unfortunately my brain was going crazy and I didn't actually fall asleep til around midnight.

Alarm Clock
The cell phone alarm went off at 5am, and I hit snooze a few times, then decided to get up and pack the tent up. The moon was awesome and it had the whole camp ground naturally lit up. I didn't even need to use my flash light. I got everything packed up and headed for the Hocking Hills Dining Lodge. When I got there, there were only a few cars there so I got a great parking spot near the starting line. I decided to use my trunk as my "drop bag". Before checking in, I got my trunk organized and laid out so that as I came through, I could get in and get out. I had replacement head bands and handkerchiefs (I sweat like crazy), 2 peanut butter sandwiches, a couple of high calorie granola bars, a few bottles of Gatorade, a change of socks, Vasoline (yes, you read it), and oodles of gel packs. The routine would be to empty my pockets of the gel packs, pick up some new packs, swap sweat rags, consume lots of calories, and move on. I got everything lined up and headed up to the starting line to get ready for the start.

My trunk with all the essentials

Mike Allen

Let me start this race report by thanking Mike Allen of Ohio River Road Runners Club. He totally helped me finish this race and I'm very fortunate to have run into him (pun intended). Mike is 60 or more years old and is one of the most active people I've ever met. He does triathlons, ultras, and is also into adventure racing and orienteering as well. I hope that I'm half as active as Mike when I'm his age. He and I found that we actually had a lot in common: he started running at age 30, I started at age 28. He raised 4 girls, I'm raising 3. What a dude! He kept conversation with me while we "chugged" along; his conversation really helped me to not focus on the 37+ miles. He complimented me many times for silly things too like my running form, my ability to laugh at his zany humor, and my passion for this sport. Thanks Mike!! I can't wait to see you at Mohican 50 miler and/or Forget The PR 50K next year. Call me any time you need a pacer. Seriously.

Starting Line
All the runners gathered around the starting line while the park ranger briefed us all on the course. He went over each step of the way and told us what to expect, where to expect it, and warned us about some tricky spots. The 30 (or so) of us all took off around 7:15 am. The first loop was so much easier this year than it was last year. :) I made sure not to take off at the start, I just started off jogging very slowly, which was extremely difficult with all the adrenaline. Around mile 2, I ran into a runner by the name of Mike Allen, and we talked for the next 6 miles about all kinds of stuff. He was great company and I learned a lot of history about Dayton, Ohio and the Great Flood of 1913. I would have never guessed I would learn so much history on this race, especially by mile 3. :) We parted ways around mile 8 and I ran the remaining 4+ miles of the first loop alone with no problems what so ever. I remembered back to last year and compared my fitness level to today's level. WOW! First loop was no problem this year and I felt great!

Here's me after my first loop

Second Loop

I stopped at the car and threw away my empty gel packs, grabbed some new gels, pounded a bottle of Gatorade, grabbed a peanut butter sandwich to go, then took off again for my second loop. The whole process took me right at 1 minute. As I started my second loop, I ran past Mike on his way in and we traded greetings. I felt real good on the road course and had no problems what so ever. Around mile 15 I ran into Steel Hill again... This is a hill that goes strait up for about 1/4 mile. Ouch. During my climb, Mike caught up with me and started conversation back up. He and I ran together for the next 8 miles keeping conversation and just talking. It helps so much to keep conversation with another runner. I now understand the importance of "pacing" people in ultra marathon races. The second big hill on this loop was very tough for me. I came to a crawl and Mike went on without me. I told him I catch up to him later but had to catch my wind up this thing. This was around mile 22 and I was feeling pretty used up by this point. Once I got to the top of the hill, I got my wind back and caught back up with Mike. We crossed the lap marker together.

Here's me after my second loop

Final Loop
At the lap marker, I stopped at my car again to dispose of my trash, pack some more gels, replace my sweat band and handkerchief, pound a Gatorade, then grab a high calorie granola bar to go. Off I was to the 3rd and final lap.

About 1 mile into my 3rd loop I came upon who other than... Mike again! We ran a few miles with another runner named Alfred. A few miles down the road, Alfred held back a bit and let us move ahead. This time Mike and I really bonded. I had already told him it was my first ultra and he was genuinely excited for me. He told me on this lap that (pending no injuries) he would help me finish this thing and it was "his pleasure". I thanked him big time and ensured him that he was not obligated. He was very sincere in his claim and I was extremely grateful.

Ironically I looked down at my watch and it showed 26.22 miles on my Garmin. This meant that every step from here on out would be farther than I've ever ran before. I was surprisingly in really good shape at this point; a lot better than I thought I would be. My quads were a bit tingly, but not necessarily hurting and my knees had a bit of pain only when doing the downhill sections. Nothing serious at all. As we approached the end of the road section down RT 664, we ran face first into Steel Hill again. This time, it literally crushed me... I wanted to get on all fours and crawl up it. However, I kept some dignity and pushed down on each leg with my hands every step of the way. It probably took me 10 minutes to get up this hill and I was totally spent when I got to the top... I mean completely exhausted. It was right at the mid day heat by this point, so I took some time at the water stop and poured some water over my head to cool down. It helped.

Mike totally waited for me at the top, then we took off up the (now gradual) hill on Chapel Ridge Rd. Right before we entered "Old Grandma's Trail" for the last time, someone left a pleasant surprise at the entrance to the trail. Someone had left a gallon jug of water sitting in a tub of ice with a bunch of cups... I drank a big cup of ice water (right or wrong) and then we mozied on into the forest with welcoming shade and breeze. This part of the course got me back to reality, and I really soaked in the beauty of Hocking Hills this time around. My legs were pretty numb by this point so I walked up most of the hills, even the small ones. I totally appreciated the flat sections and downhills. When we got to Rose Lake, we ran into another runner named Ted (I think... may have been Tom??) and he was taking his time through this area, as it was very technical. There were roots, bumps, dips, rocks, and drop offs for about a mile. I was slipping into a deep funk about this time and Mike really pulled me through it with his conversation.

The Last 5 Miles
The last 5 miles were pretty hard for me. There was a big hill at the end of Rose Lake that got me winded again, and then the nausea came. I couldn't drink my water because I feared it would make me barf. I didn't want to consume any gel packs for the same reason. I think the jogging motion of bouncing up and down was just shaking me up and I felt I could toss my cookies at any minute. I decided to walk for a while to see if that helped, and it did... a bit. The last 2 mile climb to the finish line was very slow going. I jogged when I could and walked only when I had too... Sure enough, Mike stayed with me each step of the way. What a guy! He could have finished his race 1 hour ago if he wanted to, but he didn't.

The Finish Line
Mike and I crossed the finish line together.

Me after the 3rd loop with Mike

There were only a few people remaining at the finish line when we got there around 3:45pm. No roaring crowd, no balloons or fireworks, and no bikini models. It was just me pushing the 'Stop' button on my Garmin and telling the lady at the finish line my finishing time. I sat down and got my stomach back in order and let my legs recover for a minute, then waddled to my car for the 2 hour ride home.

The After Math
Nothing! I feel fine! Can you believe it? I was a little sore when I got home last night, but today (ie. Sunday) I feel great. I've been on my feet all day with very little pain whatsoever. Daizi had her 2 year birthday party today and I cleaned the yard, hauled things up and down stairs, everything I'd normally do and I'm fine. Here is a picture of me with my (extremely cute) little niece, Gracy on my shoulders. I think this is my body telling me that it's ok with my decision to continue running ultra marathons... which I plan to do.

It's official, I'm an official ultra runner, and proud of it. :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Changing Jobs

Yup, you read it right. Today was my last day at Data Dynamics. Leaving DD was a tough decision. Especially after the company has done so much for me and my family. DD was, is, and always will be an amazing company. They took a chance on me and they helped shape who I am today. For the sake of good blogging, let me tell you what I mean by "they took a chance on me". Don't worry it's just a recap of the first year or two at the company... :)

The Mooch
Back in 2000, Jennifer and I got married in June and I was a student at CSCC looking for a job doing Assembler Language, COBOL, or AS400 programming. I was working 2 piddly jobs making a total of about $100 a week and completely mooching off of my new wife. At the time, I was a COBOL whiz kid and breezed through all of my programming classes. CSCC didn't offer very good courses at the time for Visual Basic, but I really wanted to know how to create windows applications using that fancy GUI stuff. I had done some small database projects for some friends here and there just so I could self teach myself VB5.

The Interview
Fall was quickly approaching that year and I had been through countless dead-end tech interviews. Everybody wanted someone with "experience". However, how was I supposed to get experience if I didn't have a JOB!? I had to start somewhere... So sometime around September 2000 (exactly 8 years ago this month), I got called in from some head hunter telling me to show up in Columbus for an interview at some company called Data Dynamics.

Lucky for them, I had just cut my long hippie hair and bought some new clothes. This picture was actually taken the morning of my interview. Jennifer took the picture before we hopped in the car and headed to DD headquarters (I can't believe I found this pic!). So anyway, I walked in the door and was pummeled with a ferocious roar of a miniature pincher named Zeus. This really added insult to injury at that point; I was nervous, looked like a dork, and now everybody in the office knew that the potential "prospect" had arrived. Aside from the ferocious beast, this looked like a hip place to work. They had a pool table with tie-dye pool balls... I mean, it doesn't get much cooler than that! Right?

Immediately, the boss at the front desk (aka: Tim) starts yelling at this dog and comes out and shakes my hand. By this point, I didn't know what to think; I had a cloudy fish tank to my right, a really cool pool table in front of me, a snarling miniature pincher at my feet, and I'm shaking the owners hand. He told me to have a seat, so I did. About 2 minutes later I see this scruffy looking dude (aka: Scott) come out of one of the offices near the back and he tells me to come on back. He looked like Jesus, so I listened.

The interview was absolutely painful! Scott had a wrinkled up t-shirt, cut off shorts, long scruffy hair, a go-T, and he was sportin' Jesus-sandals. Tim looked like an owner (whatever that means), but I couldn't help but notice that he was drinking coffee from a VBITS '99 mug. I had heard about that conference (VBITS, now VSLive) from my Visual Basic Programmers Journal magazine (now Visual Studio Magazine) subscription. I thought it was so cool that this company exhibited their products at that show! This is what I wanted to do! This is the job that I want! I answered the questions as best as I could, but the one thing that sticks out for me (and always will) was when Scott asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years... I froze. Who knew this would be a question at an interview. I stuttered for a minute and thew up my index finger so that they knew I was onto something. Right then, I pulled out my Palm III out of my jacket pocket so that I could remember exactly where I wanted to be in 5 years... Lucky for me, I took notes before the interview and had this information readily available. I told them that I wanted to be a developer and that I wanted to be a drummer in a successful rock band. We talked a bit more, and then I shook their hands figuring it would be the last time I'd ever see them...

The Call
The whole ride home, I was pissed! I told Jennifer that there was no way they were going to hire me. I barely knew Visual Basic and this was a cutting edge company that was writing ActiveX components specifically for Visual Basic. We laughed about my interviewing skills for a while and talked about how cool it would have been if I could have worked there... But, I was going to keep interviewing until something else came up, since I tanked this interview.

The rest of the day just played out, and we had friends over that night for some cards and beer. I had just come back from the store or something and when I walked in the back door, all our friends at the table were looking at me with big smiles and Jennifer was grinning ear to ear... "What's going on?", I asked... "You got the job!"... "WHAT!?"... "YOU GOT THE JOB!!" Talk about a life changing sentence. I couldn't believe it. I had pretty much written them off since I was nowhere near qualified for the job. I remember how exciting it was to know that we were gonna be making some real scratch now. Jennifer and I had lived on pennies for way too long, and the starting salary at this job was waaay more than I could even fathom at that point. We all got drunk.

The Rookie
My very first role at Data Dynamics was DynamiCube 2.0 support. I would be in charge of assisting other programmers about how to use this product in their applications. Not only did I know very little about Visual Basic, but I knew NOTHING about pivot tables and analyzing numbers in a cross tab. I felt like I was in way over my head right out of the gun. Scott was my mentor for the first few months on the job and rather than helping me by answering my immediate question, he helped me teach myself how to learn. Rather than bugging him with insanely stupid questions day in and day out, I would basically spin my wheels for hours on this component trying to figure out how it worked and why anybody would even want to buy it. At times I felt like I was on my own trying to support these users while at the same time trying to learn this epic product. Looking back now, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Thanks Scott! :)

In no time, I was traveling all over the place. My first trip was to head out west to San Jose (aka: Silicon Valley!). It's safe to say that I felt like I had "made it" in my career by this point. I had never been past Indiana before that trip, so going out to California to learn some new technology was huge for me. After Silicon Valley, I was pretty much on the move all the time after that (or so it seemed). I was going to places (some regularly) like Orlando, San Fransisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Denver, Pittsburg, Las Vegas, Seattle, Tulsa, Russia!, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor (puke), Tulsa, and of course various cities around Ohio. Since the day I started, I've supported and some what mastered :) DynamiCube, ActiveBar, SharpGrid, ActiveCube, ActiveSizer, ActiveReports, SharpUI, SharpGraph, and Data Dynamics Analysis. The company has let me develop my speaking skills, my PM skills, all kinds of stuff!

Well crap... I had a whole huge post written up that was going over everything that I had learned and experienced while I was at Data Dynamics. I wanted to give credit where credit was due, but once I got towards the end of the post, I realized that it started to look more like a resume. Rather than post a list of "look what I can do now", I just deleted it all and decided to stick to the point of the post. The purpose for this post is really to just say that I'm very happy to have had the chance to work for such a cool company. They took a chance on me, and really helped me "be all I could be" for many years.

The Data Dynamics motto is deliver reporting and analysis tools to developers, and that is exactly what they are still doing today. It's amazing how the vision hasn't changed in my 8 years there. They are constantly striving to deliver stellar products at a fair price. There is some intense competition right now in the component market, but I know that Data Dynamics has some tricks up it's sleeve... some of the upcoming products are sure to take the component and BI market by surprise.

I'll forever be a customer and proud alumni if Data Dynamics. I'm going to miss everybody! Tim, Ferhat, Issam, Scott, and everybody else... Thank You!

What's Next for Me?
Without going into too much detail right now, my new gig is this: I will be working from home, writing code out of my basement full time for a small software company out of Chicago. This is a dream come true for both me and my family. I've always wanted to be able to stay home and write code to "bring home the bacon" and that's exactly what I'll be doing now. It's for that reason that I decided to change jobs...

I'm following my dream. :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Google Chrome

It's now 2pm on Tuesday, September 2nd, and I (along with half the world) am still waiting on the official announcement and download link for Chrome. If you've not heard of Chrome yet, take a few minutes and check it out:

Til then, we wait...

Update: It's heeeeere:

Preparing for My First Ultra

My first ultra is less than 3 weeks away now and I'm getting pretty excited. Jennifer and the girls will be coming down with me this year and we're going to make a weekend camping trip out of it. So cool! Training has been going really good and I'm feeling really strong. I'm doing my pushups religiously and building my base up for the hills of Hocking. However, I may have sprung a slight injury in my right ACL last week... I've been worrying about it pretty bad and concerned how it will affect my training and ultimately my race.

So, this morning I was catching up on my blog roll and found a cool post that helped me convince myself I can still do this thing. I stumbled upon an old post from the iRunFar blog, titled Ultra Advice From a Master. I faintly remember when it was posted last year, but at the time I was only doing 5k's, so I had little interest in the advise and didn't really read it. It had a whole new meaning to me today when I found it on a whim... Best yet, I saw comments on this post from two of my buddy-bloggers (Olga & Jamie). :)

While reading through the tips, number 6 was the one that stuck out the most for me:
6. Don't over train AND taper well....your base is well established and you will be better off rested than running a lot up to the race even though you may think you are not in the best of shape. Muscle memory is there for those who have run a lot over the years.
My Sunday long run this past weekend was supposed to be 25 miles, but I was only able to do a little over 9 miles, for I didn't want to completely shoot my chances for running the race. My right ACL was pulling pretty bad and all hills were totally out of the question. It's feeling surprisingly better today and I'm scheduled for an easy 4 miler; I'm anxious to see how it holds up. I'll admit, I've been getting pretty discouraged since my Sunday run, but I'm not letting it get me down and out completely. Since revisiting the iRunFar post, I've decided to downsize this weeks miles and I've reduced my Sunday run from 30 miles to a 20 miler instead before my taper week. I figure I have enough training behind me to finish 37 miles fairly easy. Especially since I'm not going for a time; finishing will be no problem.

Notice the optimism here. :)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hartford Fair Girls

The Hartford Fair Girls

(Daizi, Jazzy, and Lizzie)

The fair was a few weeks ago, and this picture pretty much captures the girls involvement. Jennifer took the girls to the fair grounds pretty much everyday. I've got oodles of pictures from this years' Hartford Fair, and I'll be sure to upload them to my online photo album. For all you RSS junkies, be sure to subscribe to my online photo feed. ;)
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Brooks Cascadia 3

It's crazy to think that I've ran over 550 miles since March. My New Balance 908's have become Old Balance (as Lizzie says) and they... kinda... stink up the house these days. Everybody in the family has gotten new shoes for the new school year, and Jennifer informed me that it was my turn. Today I got paid and it was my personal little splurge day.

I met a friend for a coffee today at Cosi and after wards I went to FrontRunner with a goal in mind. I was on the hunt for another pair of 908's. However, I didn't want to go in there completely narrow minded and insane. So, at the door, I stopped and told myself to approach this like a casual person. I mean, how normal does this sound:

Walk in, point to my torn up / green fumed trail shoes, and loudly say "Yeah, I want these, only newer!"

Yeah, too weird... So when the lady asked me if I needed help, I "casually" told her that I was looking for some new trail shoes because mine were gross. Before we got too far into the hunt, I explained that I have a wide foot and natural pronation, and I'm currently using the 908's. She suggested a few shoes to me, but stated that the 908 is probably my best bet. She went in the back and brought out 5 different shoes for me to try on. NorthFace, Asic's, Merrels, Brooks, and the 908's. After a few lacing sessions and quick 20m sprints back forth along the wall, I wiped the sweat from my brow and settled with the... (wait for it and don't look at the title)

Brooks Cascadia 3 trail shoes:

This was the first shoe that I tried on and ended up never taking it off. I tried all of the other models on my right foot while keeping this shoe on my left foot the entire time. Even when I got to the 908's, I realized that the Cascadia's felt more comfortable... Sold!

Oh yeah, Rob, I finally got those RaceReady shorts! :) Jennifer had a good laugh because they are a little high up on the thigh for my style. However, the mesh pockets kept me occupied while she tried to catch her breath. These shorts will help me finally expose my ridiculously white thighs to the world. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Running in the Rain

I had some pretty stellar runs recently, and I'm realizing that the rain had a lot to do with them. On Sunday, I did 15.5 miles in the rain and loved it. It was all pavement running, but peaceful none-the-less. The only problem that I had with that run was the painful nipple rubbing of my wet shirt. Yeah, I still have the scabs... Wanna see? :)

Yesterday I took a 5 mile run at Marie Hickey trail and it was a total "zen run" for me. There is nothing better than running through the woods listening to the rain hit the leaves above you while listening to birds chirping here and there to interrupt your thoughts. I was totally in my element yesterday and can't wait for the next rain day.

Friday, August 22, 2008


It's so easy to overlook blogging now that I am hooked on twitter. I only follow about 39 people, and tweet from time to time. When I first started twitter, I wasn't sure what all the hype was about... I now get it.

James and I were attending a Dayton Developer Group and everybody was talking about twitter. I finally built up the nerve and asked "What's so cool about twitter?". I got a lot of strange looks and Jeff Blankenburg explained it to me pretty well. After the meeting, we stuck around all sparked up a very informative conversation about how people use it and I was able to watch the "Twitter in Plain English" video:

After watching the video, Jeff and Tim Wingfield described how they use twitter and I started thinking about how I might use it. So, that night I went home and created an account; my user name is LucasHardbarger (duh) and I started following a few people that I knew just to see how it worked. I didn't really spend a lot of time with it at first, but now I can't seem to stay away from it. :) I understand the hype. It may not be extremely useful in a business sense, but it really keeps me connected to the people I have met over the years on a more "personal basis". The way I look at it, the only reason they would tweet anything anyway would be so that others know what's going on. It's fun.

My biggest growing petpeive (?) so far are the tweets that are just tinyurl links. To me, that's pretty useless and annoying. It really has no value to me, and I'm starting to just ignore them. At least provide a brief description with the link so that I can know what you are linking to. Anymore, when I see a link with nothing more, I ignore it. Oh yeah, watch for the fail whale.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fun Run Monday

Today, I took a fun run with my buddy, Jonathan. He lives in Columbus and took the long drive to meet me over at my house (way out here in hick-town). He and I took a 30 mile bike ride the week after my marathon and we had a blast! We rode all the way from Newark to Johnstown and back on the bike path. During that ride I invited him out to my place to do some trails with me. He took me up on that offer and we hit the trails today.

We started off by parking at the Blackhand Gorge bike trail parking lot. We ran from there over to Marie Hickey trail. Jonathan kicked butt! The road to Marie Hickey was pretty hilly and he burned through it like a pro. We kept a slower pace, but we didn't do any walking really until we hit the parking lot to Marie Hickey. Even then, we walked for about 30 seconds and got right back into it. Once we got on the trail, we really felt the relief from the shade. In the woods it was about 20 degrees cooler than out on the road under the sun. Jonathan ran about 2.5 miles without stopping and even then, it was mainly because we were on a hill.

After conquering Marie Hickey trail, we headed back down the road back to the bike path. We hit the bike path at about 4.6 miles into the run and Jonathon was doing pretty good. He had a quick dizzy spell, but I think it may have been due to his first introduction to GU @ around mile 4. :) By the time he got the dizziness out of him, we were at the Quarry Rim trail and we decided to take it easy up the hill and then pick up pace once it flattened out. The trail was beautiful as always and we just jogged real slow through the woods with no hurry. We came back out on the bike path and made a pit stop at the Blackhand Rock overlook to admire the river and beauty of Blackhand Gorge.

Jonathan kicked butt today and I really enjoyed his company. He showed up with the agreement to run 5 miles with me. However, I was able to sucker 6.57 miles out of him instead. :) Not only was it farther than he'd ever run, but I'm sure these were probably the hardest miles he'd ever run. We even talked about how running on flat roads will now be considered the "easy miles". :) I'm hoping that I converted him to a trail runner, as he did claim that he enjoyed the hills, rocks, roots, and woods when it was all over with. Unfortunately, I think I may have grossed him out when I squeezed all of the sweat out of my headband at mile 6. :) He was warned that I sweat a lot while running, but even I was surprised at the 2 liters I rung out of that little thing. None-the-less, it was a nice change to actually be in good company and shoot the breeze with a bud out here for a change. Thanks Jonathan!

Even better, I may have talked him into joining me @ Hocking Hills next month for the Indian Run (5k or 10k), but we'll have to see. :)

The details of our run are found on (see right sidebar on my blog), but here is the map:

Here is the elevation:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Crayon Physics

I was catching up on my blog role and found a game called Crayon Physics. I decided to see just what it was and was pretty amazed. I may have to introduce this game to my girls.

This reminds me of the ol' Physics Illustrator that I got hooked on when I first got my Tablet PC.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

High Class = Chris Horner

I just stumbled on this post in my blog role and felt it was worth sharing:

Chris Horner ensures that a rider (and his bike) finish the Cascade Cycling Classic. After riding almost 69 miles, Billy Demong took a nasty fall and tore himself and his bike up. Rather than taking the DNF, Chris Horner came along and picked him and his bike up to ensure that he finished the last 1+ mile of the race.

High class!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hiking the Appalacian Trail

Last year, I posted about my desire to hike the Appalachian Trail in the past, and I still plan to do it one day. I'm addicted to nature trails and this is the ultimate nature trail, as it spans from Georgia to Maine. I really think I'll do it in the future, but I need a lot more money and a lot more available time-off before thinking about something like this. I'll probably have to plan for after my journey sometime after the girls grow up and move out. Just know that it is on my list of things to do before I die. :)

Anyway, I was doing my blog roll today and stumbled upon a post by Anthony about a guy named Karl Meltzer. Anybody that knows anything about ultra running, will know this name; I (for one) have heard his name quite often since I started reading trail magazines and reading news and blogs about ultras. Last week, Karl started his trek to hike the Appalachian Trail in 47 days... 47 DAYS!? Most people do this in about 5-7 months. Karl, plans to hike (calculating in my head...) almost 47 miles per day, for 47 consecutive days!? Wow! Go Karl!!

The best part is that he's keeping an online journal of his trek. Check it out:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CodeStock 2008 is a Success

As I mentioned back in June, we attended the Codestock down in Knoxville, TN. I'm so happy we did! We got to meet some really cool people and I think that the the way they handle the Data Dynamics sponsorship was very unique.

We heard about Codestock at a speaker dinner in Grand Rapids, Michigan before West Michigan Day of .NET. We were sitting around eating our dinner and drinking some booz and ended up sitting next to Wally McClure. Wally had nothing but great things to say about Data Dynamics products. We talked a bit and he asked about sponsoring a cool event in Tennessee. We told him to send us some information, and immediately he got on the phone with Mike Neel (head coordinator) to tell him about out possible interest. Well, the rest is history.

The most appealing thing about Codestock (to me) was that they were going to dedicate speaker rooms to the sponsors. By this I mean that each sponsor would have a speaker room named after the company. For example, there was a Data Dynamics room, a Red Gate room, a Microsoft room, etc... I thought this was really cool. Best of all, the Data Dynamics room was the first room and had the nicest chairs. Our room was a lecture room that had nice 'movie' chairs. The other rooms had college (half-table) desks. The sponsors were able to setup anything they wanted in this room, so we took our pull ups and set them up at the door. This ensured that everybody who attended a session in our room would see our name everywhere. Major kudos to Codestock from Data Dynamics!!

So anyway, James and I did our session on "Simplicity in Visualizing Numbers" and this time it went much better than we had both thought it would. Before we left the office Friday, we had a dry run in the lunch room in front of everybody. It paid off big time! During this dry run, we smoked through the talk in about 20 minutes... This was way short of 1 hour. We also found out that we (ok, mostly me) said "um" and "uh" a lot.

We left the office around 2pm and headed down to Tennessee. It was a pretty uneventful drive down and we arrived at the hotel around 8:30 - 9:00pm. Once we got settled in, we hooked up the laptops, turned on the TV, and ordered some pizza. James and I reformatted our talk a bit after some great feedback from Philip and the DD crew. I wound up falling asleep around 2am and James was still working on the slides.

The alarm went off a few minutes later (or so it seemed) and we headed to Pellissippi State Technical Community College to get setup. We setup our banners in the Data Dynamics room and wound up missing Jeff Prosise's keynote. Our session went off without a hitch! James stood behind the podium, while I stood off to the side, in front of the podium. We basically took turns talking; I would talk through a few slides, then James would talk through a few slides. At the end, people spoke up and asked some really good questions about some problems they're facing building charts and graphs at their company. One of the developers in the audience stated that she was doing everything wrong according to us and asked for some advise. It was at that point that I knew the session was a success. A few other developers asked for some advise and we answered them to the best of our ability. I'm sure that our insight helped them go back and apply some of our ideas.

After our talk, we did lunch, then attended some other sessions. James and I both attended a session titled "Mono and Open Source .NET". I learned quite a bit, but admit that it was hard to keep my eyes open after eating lunch. After that session, James and I attended a session titled "Getting Dirty with httpModules and httpHandlers" in the Data Dynamics room. This was a very cool session and Chris Love knows his stuff! The last session that we attended was (again) in the Data Dynamics room and was titled "Linq Migration Strategies" by Joe Wooley. This was a very informative session and it really made me want to get neck deep in to VB 9's XML Literals. Wow!

To finish off the day of sessions, there was a big sponsor giveaway in the auditorium. It was fun to say the least. After the sponsor giveaway, we headed outside to the concert area and got to listen to some live music by a band called Hanover Fist. They were pretty good, but we only got to hang around for 3 songs before we decided to hit the road. Codestock was a hip-hip event, and the logo pretty much says it all (hippy / rocker look). Congrats to Wally, Alan, and Mike for a successful event!

The drive home was pretty uneventful as well, but we all had some fun conversations. :) I got home at 2am, checked some emails and tweets, then went strait to bed.