Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The New Twitter

I'm not a big Twitter user. I tried it for a while but then got overwhelmed with social media chaos. When I found something that I liked and wanted to share, I didn't know where I should share it. It became a juggling act for me to decide who I really wanted to see it. Did I want my Twitter followers to see it? Would any of my Facebook 'friends' want to see this? What about my friends that follow my blog on Google Reader? It's almost too much!! I found myself spinning out of control inside of this colossal web of social networking bookmarks. There's Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn, Blogger, WordPress, FriendFeed, PicasaWeb, Flickr, Stumbled Upon, Delicious, Reddit, Digg, now Google Buzz... Oh and let's not forget to check your emails throughout the day too in between your IM's back and forth to your friends and coworkers.

Facebook has really become my main social media networking site. My wife and almost all of the people that I know around here are on Facebook. It's a great way to stay connected with everybody local and overseas. However, I'm noticing that it is kind of getting to be a little to much like high-school all over again. Every now and then I'll get a friend request from someone that I passed in the hall my freshman year. Should I accept? We weren't really "Friends" per se... Should I really be getting an invite to this event from someone that knew a guy that dated a girl I used to sit by in math class? Should I ignore or decline? The concept is great and it seems to be working. I do like the concept of 'Events', and my wife uses the crap out of the 'Photo Albums'. Our entire family is able to keep up to date with how fast our girls are growing and so forth. I do like it and it has added value in regards to keeping up to date with what's going on with those I know (near and far).

Twitter had always seemed like just another way for me to kill my precious time. It appears to be nothing more than a public area for anybody to do a quick brain dump about anything they wanted. To me, I can see this from Facebook (ie. Status Updates). Right?...

A lot of my geek friends use Twitter with great success. There are many Tweeters(?) out there that only tweet valuable links and content and to those I thank you. There are also those that use it as a public conversation log. It took me a long time to realize why anybody would want to post a tweet to somebody on twitter (for all to see). Why tweet a buddy when you could just email them or IM them? It's so that other can get involved if they want to.

There are also lots of Tweeters (again (?)) out there that tweet nothing but crap, rants, and random thoughts about nothing (ie. "I'm eating a burrito"). Occasionally, those "nothing tweeters" have some value in what they say though (ie. "I now have explosive gas"). So I do want to follow them, just not as close as I do those that consistently tweet valuable content all the time. After a while I found that Twitter was only useful (to me) when I followed a select group of people. The rest were just noise makers that wanted to get in on the action.

I know it's not just a noise collector. I know there is some great value out the. I know that 50 million geeks can't be wrong. I just need to figure out the best way to use it. Facebook is brainless to use. Twitter has a bit of a learning curve it seems (for me). There appears to be a science in filtering and searching for the most valuable content. I just haven't figured it out yet.

Today I learned that Twitter has changed it's design drastically. While I might not be a Twitter geek, I can appreciate the severity of re-architecting and redesigning a popular and extremely active website. It's epic really.Perhaps this new redesign will help me make sense of it all. We'll have to see...

Check out this cool video that they did for the new release:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our Bad Dogs Made Front Page News

Our dogs made the front page of our local newspaper, the Newark Advocate today (direct link). Needless-to-say, it's been quite the story. Each person we've explained it to has been pretty amused. It was quite the hit at the local Sheriff station. I guess our insurance company (Cincinnati Insurance Co.) has sent the story around internally to share it amongst their staff. Of course everybody we have to tell the story to can't believe it. My wife posted the pictures on Facebook and it's gotten shared by numerous people (including myself). :P Enough people thought it was worthy enough to make the local paper, so we called and they were right. It made the front page! :)

Once I stop and think about it... yeah, I guess it is pretty bizarre.

Here is my side of the story:

Dan and I were 2 hrs into our drive home from Pennsylvania and we're rocking out to some old school Motley Crue. I get a call from Jennifer and pick up the phone:

"Wassup girl?!..." I say loudly with the window down and my cool shades on.

"Babe...", she says. "I got some really bad news..."

"Oh my gosh, what happened!?"

"It's bad."

Immediately I start thinking one of our girls got hurt or something.

"Ok, tell me what happened please."

She says: "The dogs destroyed our new minivan...", and then she explained it all to me in detail. I couldn't believe it.

Apparently, the girls went out to play and came back in screaming that 'the dog's had scratched the car really bad, Mommy!'.

Jennifer just thought it was a regular scratch and went out to see what they were talking about. She saw plastic pieces in the driveway, but didn't think anything of it. That is until she got on the other side of the van and saw this:

She could only cover her mouth and cry. The van was 3 weeks old and was now un-drivable. The dog's "went to town" on it. Of course, the dogs were sunbathing at this time and thought nothing of it. Just another used up chew-toy. Right?

We had no idea why they would do this, but there was nothing I could do for her. She was extremely upset and the girls were all crying. I told her to just calm down and try to calm the girls down. I'd be home shortly.

As Dan and I drove down Toboso Rd. we saw the Sheriff in my driveway and everybody was outside gathered around the carnage. I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing...

The front drivers' side has been fubar'd:

The front tire has been chewed through in multiple places and entire front end of the van is covered in claw marks.

"Why," you might be asking yourself "would two loving family-dogs do this to a beautiful 2006 Honda Odyssey?"

As it turns out, there was a pile of raccoon feces under the van where the dogs had trapped a raccoon. Rather than patiently waiting for it to come out from under the new van and play, they decided to completely destroy the minivan instead.

Here is a picture of our youngest dog (taken 4 months ago), Ivy:

Here is a picture of the older (wiser?) dog, Valley:

They have been tied to their doghouses for the last 5 days in "time out". People have been coming and going and can't believe that these nice friendly dogs did such a destructive thing. We just released them today and they have been running around releasing their energy. We think that they finally "get it": Don't use Mama's new minivan as a chew-toy.

They're already back to their normal selves tearing up our yard in their never-ending-hunt of the local mole.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oil Creek 100 Race Report

Yesterday was a great (but very long) day. I ran Oil Creek 100 km race, and earned my belt buckle.

I'm doing surprisingly well today. My feet have a few nasty blisters on them and my quads are really sore, but I am doing so much better than I thought I would be doing on "the day after".

The journey started on Friday. Dan picked me up around 5 or 5:30 pm and we hit the road toward Titusville, Pennsylvania. It was an amazing 4 1/2 hr drive through the most beautiful autumn countryside that Ohio and Pennsylvania had to offer. The treetops were a mixture of all the great fall colors: red, orange, yellow, brown, green, tan, etc...

About 45 minutes into the drive, we were approaching a little storm cloud in the road. Along with this storm cloud came a beautiful rainbow. The rainbow stretched all the way across the sky in front of us. Eventually, we found ourselves directly underneath a "full on double rainbow".

How cool is that!? We could see both ends of the rainbow from the highway. I've never witnessed a rainbow where I could see both ends. The second rainbow was a little less vibrant, but it was visible nonetheless.

We witnessed this for about 10 minutes, and then shortly thereafter the sky slowly turned from yellow to orange to red to maroon all the way into darkness. This was a great way to start the weekend. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful in comparison.

We arrived at the hotel around 10 pm and immediately got settled in and tried to get some sleep before the 4:30 alarm clock...

Race Morning:
We woke up around 4:30 and got suited up in all of our trail gear. It was pretty chilly, but I knew not to bundle up too much, for I'd be warmed up in no time at all once I got moving. We stopped at McDonalds and ordered 2 McGriddles each and a small coffee each to get us moving.

We got to the Titusville Middle School around 5:30 to checked in and get our bib numbers and race packets. There were some last minute announcements to be made before we all headed out to the starting line.

The runners counted down from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!! And we were off @ 6 am sharp...

The first hour of the race was pretty dark. The sun wasn't up yet, so all of us runners were running through the streets of Titusville with our headlamps and reflective gear. From the street, we made our way onto the bike path for a mile or so before ticking into the woods for the rest of the day. I was feeling great through here, so I separated myself from Dan and ended up running some pretty fast paced miles. I made it to the first aid station about 3 minutes before Dan and hung out to wait for him.

The next section was a series of switchbacks up the side of a mountain. Not only was it steep, but it was also pretty narrow path, so each step had to be given some attention. We made it to the top of the hill and then came into some really cool big rocks deep in the forest:

Shortly after this, we separated again. Dan was starting to experience some knee pains and stayed back a little. However, I was still feeling pretty strong so I pushed ahead. As I approached the 2nd aid station, I went looking for my drop bag. As it turned out, I had put my drop bag in the wrong group at the middle school, and it was waiting for me at the last aid station. Oops. :) Luckily I didn't have anything in there that I really needed. I ended up putting my toboggan, gloves, and headlamp with Dan's drop bag. I pounded a steaming cup of ramen noodles and a chilled cup of Pepsi. A minute or two passed by, and once Dan arrived we headed back into the woods.

Around this time I separated from Dan, because his knee was really acting up on him by this point. I pushed ahead for about 2 miles, and then my conscious got the best of me. Dan had stuck it out with me at the Forget the PR 50K earlier this year when I was hurting real bad. It was only fair that I show him the same respect and help him along. I hung out at the top of a huge mountain for a couple of minutes. Once he arrived, we jogged together for a while. About 1/2 mile later, we hit some downhills and Dan came to a crawl. I tried to wait for him, but he insisted that I move on and run my own race. I wished him good luck on his race and pushed on. I wouldn't see him again until after the finish. He ended up toughing it out for a solid 50K! He limped 15+ miles on a bad knee to make it back to the middle school... Tough as nails!! Congrats Dan!

After leaving Dan and all guilt behind me, I was free sailing to run my own race. I only walked on the steep uphills. The rest of the time I was running, jogging, or shuffling. My plan was to do the first loop like I would any 50K, and then wing it on the 2nd loop since I had no idea what to expect after that... I'd never ran more than 38 miles, so shortly after the halfway point I would be moving into unchartered territory. Ultimately, I had one simple goal today: Finish.

I ran through some extremely beautiful areas. Pennsylvania is so beautiful this time of year. Here is one picture that I took at the top of a big mountain side. If you look close enough you'll see the derricks on the other side of the hill. I would eventually be running under these 12 miles later.

It worked out great. I hooked up with various runners and passed the time with great conversation. I came back into the Middle School around 1 pm and felt very strong still. I ran my first 50K in 7 hrs 11 mins (a new PR for me by +1 hr!). Instead of grabbing a bunch of snacks and heading right back out, I decided to sit down and sip on some hot soup and drink some Pepsi. I wasn't fighting any cut-off times and I didn't have anything else on my "to do list" today besides run this race. :) I just took my time and didn't rush it.

Second Loop:
I spent about 5 minutes at the aid station and then headed back out for the second loop with high spirits and sore quads. I jogged for about 2 or 3 miles and then hit the forest again. Once I got to the forest, I walked on the uphills and shuffled the flat sections. Depending on the grade of the downhill, I would either jog down it or gracefully walk down it if it was too steep. The steep downhills were starting to really hurt my quads.

This whole first 5 miles looked totally different in the daylight. It was like running a totally new part of the course. For example, I didn't even notice that this huge power line section showcased this much beauty when it was dark:

I made it to the first aid station and had some pizza and more Pepsi. I got to see a bunch of runners I knew from other races. It seems like every race I go to, I run into Roy Heger. I just saw him at RunWoodstock a few weekends ago. I also met up with Brian Hart who I just saw at the Indian Run a few weekends ago also. It's amazing how small (but spread out) this runner community is. We can almost predict who we'll see at the various events.

From the aid station, Brian and I stuck together for a few miles. We made our way up some crazy-steep switchbacks to the top of the mountain again. About this time, I was fighting with my stomach and was forced to keep a slow trot / walk until I could get it back together. It was like I was on the verge of throwing up for a few miles... Not a good feeling. It went away once Brian and I got to talking about something. Simple conversation is really all it took to take my mind off of it. Once I shook the nausea, he and I were able to jog for about 5 or 6 miles together. We had a great time and learned quite a bit about each other.

Brian got ahead of me around mile 45 as I stayed back because I had another wave of nausea coming back again. Grrr... As we came into the next aid station around mile 47 or so, Brian was trying to wait for me. Instead I shook his hand and thanked him for sticking with me while he did. He hung around for a few more minutes and sipped some soup with me and then off he went into the dusk. I'm sure we'll be crossing paths again soon.

I shuffled out of the aid station with my headlamp, toboggan and gloves. The sun was starting to settle over the hills and the sky was beautiful. I snapped a bunch of photo's while I still had the chance:

These were the derricks that I saw in the other photo, only up close.

These things are pretty tall, and fit into this country side very elegantly.

These are some of the rocks that we have to climb between on our way up the hill side, from the derricks.

You can see how the rocks just nestle into the hills all throughout this area. It was so cool to dodge these as we shuffled into the night.

This was another bench on the other side of the hill. I'm basically taking a picture of the area that I took a picture from earlier (make sense?).

This was the last picture that I was able to snap before the sun officially fell behind the mountains. The woods got dark again. However, this time I found myself alone for extended periods of time. There was no longer a line of head lamps in front of me or behind me like there were this morning.

Off and on, other runners would come up on me or I would come up on another runner and we would stick together for short periods of time just to keep conversation as we jogged through the trails in the dark. I spent quite a bit of miles with a fellow named "Bob" who was running the 100 miler. I really enjoyed his company. He has ran a handful of 100 mile races and was telling me lots of crazy stories about his adventures on these runs. My favorites were the hallucination stories, because I'm simply amazed at how the mind works after running for so many hours non-stop. We eventually got separated somewhere in the dark and he became just another headlamp in the woods.

My nausea was gone for the moment and I was running again. I picked up a lot of time through here for about 2 or 3 miles with this new spurt of energy. My feet felt light again and my breath was nice and steady as I churned my legs up and down the hills. If only I could run the whole race like this...

Shortly before the last aid station, my stomach got sour again. I'd been moving for about 54 miles and this nausea has been the only thing that has really "beaten" me down today. The thought of food or water was enough to make me want to chuck. I walked about a mile to the last aid station and let a lot of people passed me through here.

Final Aid Station:
Once I arrived at the final aid station, I sat down by an open fire and began force feeding myself mashed potatoes and some pretzels. The volunteers got me hooked up with some sea salt in my mashed potatoes as they assured me that it would help my nausea. I had some more Pepsi too. Believe it or not, I don't drink much Pepsi, but this run I drank a lot because it was really helping me get out of these slumps. Perhaps it had nothing to do with helping me feel better, but it tasted great. :)

I spent way to much time here. A lot of people came and went while I was sitting by the fire talking to a few other runners who were fighting similar problems. There were a few 100 milers taking a short mid-race break, and there were a few of us 100K runners there trying to gather a final spurt of strength for the last 8.4 miles.

I hobbled out of the last aid station at a snails pace and a very deep chill that I couldn't seem to shake. The fire pit was great, but turned out to be a bad idea. It warmed up my outer "skin layer", but my inner "core layer" was still pretty cold. My t-shirt and shorts were damp from sweating off and on all day and it was about 50 degrees with a clear sky showcasing all the stars. I had 8+ miles to go in the dark with nothing more than two gloves, a wet t-shirt and a wet toboggan to keep my mohawk tame.

I was literally shaking like crazy. My teeth were chattering and every muscle in my body was tense while my body tried to warm itself back up. My muscles were so tense that it was hard to breath at times. I was out of energy and here I was in the middle of the woods with two soggy handheld water bottles, a headlamp, and a pocket full of Combo's trying to calm my body down enough to take some deep breaths. This was an extreme case of the cold chills. I can't remember the last time my body was this pissed at me... ?

Luckily I had a huge hill to climb and it eventually warmed me back up so that I wasn't shivering anymore. The darkness became very peaceful again and I wasn't so nervous about the next 8 miles. I just focused on the reflectors through the trails and saw head lamps from other runners every now and then.

Eventually I came upon a runner that I'd been playing leap frog with all day. His name was Mike and he and I ran together for the remainder of my race. He was running the 100 miler and was trying to convince me to pace him on his last loop through the night. He said that he was on pace to finish around 12 o'clock noon... I could only chuckle and wish him good luck. He claimed I helped him back to the aid station, but I'm convinced he helped me because I didn't think about my stomach anymore after meeting up with him.

I crossed the finish line at 11:19 pm.

Official Time:

17 hours 19 minutes - OC100.org

I crossed the finish line and Dan was there waiting for me. I got my belt buckle and sat down for a while. I ate a few pieces of pizza and talked to some other runners before we headed back to the hotel.

I was pretty excited to talk to Jennifer and tell her the news. I called her and we talked for a few minutes, then I took a shower, stretched a little, and shut down.

Dan and I hobbled back into the CR-V that next morning and drove home...

Oil Creek 100K... Check!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Testing Blogo

I'm sick of the html editor that Blogger.com offers me. It's too invasive and modifies my html with all kinds of tags. I'm anxious to see how Blogo works since I can't use Windows Live Writer anymore.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Internet Explorer vs. All Other Browsers

All other browsers would win! Internet Explorer loses bad.

I have spent a significant amount of time fighting a CSS bug that only happens in Internet Explorer. It's not a bug that is hard to notice either, rather it has completely broken my page from top to bottom and renders a nasty display when using IE. It works flawlessly in every other browser that I've tried:
Unfortunately our users are predominantly IE users, which means I have to fix the problem. I don't mind fixing the problem. However, I'm noticing that most all of my problems are directly related to our IE 6/7/8 users. I never use IE anymore, and it's because of crap like this. Perhaps I'm so bias because I am a web developer. What makes IE so special anyway!? I understand "backward compatibility", but damn...

I wish I could just put a banner at the top of my page when the user is using IE. Something like:
You're using an antique, dinosaur of a browser. Please open this page with any other browser on the market for best results.