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2009 Health Report

I got rid of the clot in my left leg, but because of damage to the valve I was told I need to wear a compression stocking for at least two years.

Having healed legs I trained for and completed the Turkey Trot 10K, a new personal distance record. Very slow, but I did it.

From the morning of Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day morning I lost 0.8 lbs.

On the 30th of December I got a clot in my right leg to match the one in my left leg. The similarities don’t stop there. It’s even in about the same place and five days after when the left leg one make itself known to me last year. This one was caught earlier so my leg isn’t as swollen and doesn’t swell as much. Hopefully this time a cause can be determined.


Tuesday Media Roundup #43

I’ve been avoiding books this year because I’m supposed to be reading War & Peace. I still haven’t picked that up again since the first attempt, but it’s in my backpack to start tomorrow. That being said, I get “Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook” as a gift and I read that. It has cast bios, food trivia, some techniques, and a number of interesting recipes. I’m hoping to come home to a set of ingredients and the book opened to one page and Nicole telling me “Your time starts now.”

Nochnoy Dozor (Night Watch) – This apparently was supposed to be the pilot for a television series. I’m glad they decided to take it to the big screen because it’s totally worthy. Interesting story and characters.
Dnevnoy Dozor (Day Watch) – This feels like the was the television series that would have been, but all crammed into one movie. Nothing has time to develop which by the end makes you think “Really? That’s it?” Just watch the first one.
The Final Season – Yay! A baseball movie! Actually it’s about small town vs larger interests, with the little guy not being listened to. It manages to avoid being sappy or even too cliche. Don’t go out of your way for it, but it was better than expected.
Couples Retreat – Fairly funny. I was thinking all the funny stuff was in the trailer but such is not the case. It’s almost like an episode of The Love Boat, but set on an island. I’m surprised no one has made a movie version of Fantasy Island yet. How, according to there is one in production.
Capricorn One – I think this movie is as relevant today as it was when it was made. Apparently someone else thought so too since it appears to be headed for a remake. If they were to re-shoot the old script with modern props, costumes, and effects I think it would be just fine. I can think of a number of good angles to include and explore in a re-make. I hope they think of them too. Anyway, totally worth seeing.
The Final Cut – Good idea, uninspiring execution. It feels like it’s just slightly off from its target. Is this a criticism of today’s funeral industry? Lack of privacy in society? I think it needs to show more motive for the characters.
Be Cool – I like “Get Shorty.” I was hoping I would like this as well. It’s fully entertaining because each character is entertaining to watch. The structure those characters fit in is pretty boring. I didn’t care too much though because the characters are cool.
Marley & Me – This was better than I expected. The family story is interesting and it isn’t just Marley constantly on the screen destroying their lives. The bond between Marley and the family comes across on screen.
My Name is Bruce – Can a movie about Bruce Campbell be a bad thing? If you have enjoyed any Bruce Campbell movie, you will enjoy this. Heck, if you’ve ever enjoyed a B-movie you will enjoy this. Just see it!
Sherlock Holmes – I don’t remember many details from the stories I read long ago, but I like the movie and look forward to a sequel. I like that Watson is more an equal than a sidekick. I like the thoughts before action. I like the film as a whole.

Nintendo DS:
Professor Layton and the Curious Village – I got this as a gift and dove right in. It’s essentially a series of puzzles of varying types you need to solve to move the story ahead. You don’t really have any control over the story. The story is told mostly with textual dialog and occasional animated scenes. They really blend together well and the story works well as a nice reward for the puzzle solving. The puzzles generally aren’t extremely difficult. Most of the times I had problems it was because I was mis-reading what he puzzle was asking for. I have one more bonus puzzle to go and then I’m on to the sequel.


I guess I’ve been too busy (bad sysadmin, me)

This morning I went to update some things on my page and I found the web server had crashed. How long had it been down? I have been logging in regularly, but never thought to check that the web server had crashed since that has happened only a few times over the years. Looking at the logs it’s been down since December 10th at about 5PM. Apologies to anyone who was trying to access it. I guess I need to put something in place to alert me when that happens.

Nicole just reminded me that the time it went down is the time we had the power outage. So that just means that I need make it start automatically when the system reboots. I feel slightly better about it but not completely.


2009 holiday weigh-in

First thing this morning I weighed in at 193.4. The last few years I lost weight from beginning to end, but then I also weighed more. We’ll see how it goes this year.

Now it’s time to eat!


Santa Cruz Turkey Trot 2009

I was undecided on whether I wanted to run in the turkey trot. The training program was for a 5k but the Sunday runs the last couple of weeks were an hour or longer. My pedometer was telling me I was doing close to a 10k, so when I woke up this morning feeling good I decided to do the 10k.

My goal was to run just like I had on the Sunday runs, slow and steady, with the addition of running the whole way. The race workers at every mile marker let me know I was keeping up a steady 11.5 minute mile. The mile markers themselves let me know that my uncalibrated pedometer had been telling me I was running further than I actually was. My push from Sunday run distance was going to be harder than I thought.

I did stop for about 5 seconds to have a small cup of water at the halfway point, but aside from that slow and steady was working. I slowed a bit in the second half and I think miles 4 & 5 were the hardest. Mile 6 got easier just because I knew I was almost done. My legs were done at the end; definitely a lot more effort than they were used to. Now after I recover I need to decide what my running goals are going to be. Probably getting 10k to be a comfortable distance and a bit faster.


Exercise induced asthma – a new theory

In the course of taking the same running training program that I took last year when I got my DVT I think I’ve come to a new realization about exercise induced asthma*. Before I couldn’t find any pattern and the seemingly random nature could be frustrating. Will it happen this time?

During the course Tom, the owner of the Fleet Feet in Aptos and instructor, made every effort to make sure we didn’t over-do the training. Sunday was the long conversational run and Wednesday was the speed building run with a few walk/run miles on other days to keep things moving.

Sunday also had various health and fitness guest speakers. One of those speakers was a physical therapist at Dominican. He explained that the cardio-vascular system will get to where it needs to be a lot faster than the muscles that do the work will. Also that it’s important not to push beyond what you can do. He didn’t explain where that limit was or how to find it, but he at least did say that you shouldn’t increase more than 10% from week to week.

So on the final long run this last Sunday I realized that at the slow pace I don’t seem to get any exercise-induced asthma, while when the Wednesday runs got intense enough out it came. I missed one of the Wednesday nights but I tried to make it up on a Thursday morning and as soon as I tried to push it the asthma came.

So maybe the onset of asthma is my dividing line; where I push myself beyond what I’m capable of. I know I used to be able to do more before it kicked in when I’ve been in better shape. It’s frustrating, but at the same time it’s also really satisfying to learn the signals of my body and learn where the limits are so I can begin the push to extend them.

* I also can have allergy induced asthma, but I can generally tell if that’s going to be an issue before I begin exercise.


Tuesday Media Roundup #42

New TV shows
Glee – Without a doubt the new show I’m most enjoying. Fun characters with good song and dance! It’s the only show where I would be disappointed if it were to be cancelled, and I see myself getting it on DVD.
Cougar Town – It’s like getting a Scrubs fix, not in content but in presentation. The rapid fire joke style and editing are much like Scrubs which make sense since it’s the same creator. I don’ tknow if they can keep it up but it’s fun so far.
Modern Family – Documentary/reality style comedy. Because of that it can spend a long time building up a joke, but they often pay off. It’s fairly uneven, but there’s almost always something I find funny enough to keep going.
FlashForward – Clearly meant to replace Lost when it ends, but I don’t know if I’m totally sold on it yet. There are a lot of things they can explore with the idea and so far it’s been smart, but I’m not convinced it will stay that way.

The Receptionist – I just thought I would mention this channel. It’s a channel for short films he makes while at work. Everything in the video aside from himself is made form the office supplies. Good stuff!

88 Minutes – 16 minutes. The time it takes to be fully convinced it’s going to be pretty dump. Luckily the actors are generally entertaining and it’s pretty short.
The Jane Austen Book Club – I like the parallels between the characters and the books they read. It all ties together well and seems thought out. Of course I’m just basing this on the movie and other Jane Austen movies (not including Jane Austen’s Mafia).
No Country for Old Men – More intense and less violent than I anticipated. Not to say it isn’t violent, just not as much as I was led to believe. The use of silence in the film was great. Everything about it was compelling.
Quarantine – Watch this movie with the best sound system you can. The helicopters and other outside sounds were completely immersive. The single camera shoot works well too and wasn’t a turn-off like in The Blair Witch Project.
Becoming Jane – What made Jane Austen into Jane Austen? I don’t know how accurate this movie is in answering that question but it is pretty entertaining. I’m sure the entertainment value goes down the more you know about her life. Good thing I don’t know!
Snow Dogs – Have you wondered what Cuba Gooding Jr is up to? This is it. It’s a mildly amusing, cheesy, light film. Something that’s completely non-offensive.
WALL-E – Great movie about humanity and is very close to being a modern silent movie. A lot is communicated with an economy of words. Also it’s a more realistic look than your typical Pixar movie which I think is a good thing.
The Truth About Charlie – While I was watching this movie I kept thinking that it felt like an old movie. Sometimes I was able to picture the scene with the exact same dialog. It turns out it’s a remake of Charade. I think it should have been pulled fully into the modern day because it felt out of place in the modern day setting.
Kickin’ it Old Skool – It started off with some funny stuff, but then it went stale.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – I was thinking this was going to be the same joke over and over, but instead there were a good variety as it was able to mine the history of pop music. I probably would have been happy enough with a machete fight an the Beatles in India, but I know I have low standards.
The Foursome – A reunion movie and a golf movie mixed into one. I normally like golf movies but this one is one to avoid. It’s dull, predictable, and poorly delivered.
Bedtime Stories – This movie doesn’t fit too well into categories. Maybe Adam Sandler and fairy tale work. It’s a pretty enjoyable movie unless maybe Adam Sandler bugs the shit out of you.
Gray Matters – An odd love triangle movie that pays homage to old Fred and Ginger type movies. It’s a good bit of fun!
Summer of Sam – After the first hour is settled down and got pretty good. Until then you’re wondering what anything you’re watching has to do with anything else. Overall I’d recommend it, but be prepared for it to take awhile.
First Sunday – It seems like it would be an offshoot of the Friday series, and I think that what they want you to think but they have nothing in common except for Ice Cube. There are some good community building messages among the hit and miss comedy.
This Christmas – Family holiday gathering with all the family comedy that goes with it. It’s probably most similar in feel to The Family Stone. I think it comes off well, but then again I like these kinds of movies. My favorite is still Home for the Holidays.
The Invisible – Most similar to Ghost, but it’s pretty good. I haven’t seen the Dutch film this is based off of but I thought this version was well done.
We Own the Night – I wasn’t expecting much based on the trailer, and it turns out the trailer for this only covers about the first thirty minutes of the movie. There ends up being a fairly good cop-brother drama in there.
Die Mommie Die! – This is a 60s parody. I think it started as a 60s porn parody because there are a lot of scenes that lead right up to getting it on. But it’s also a parody of other films of the era. It’s purposefully bad and it doesn’t carry that off at first like an unintentionally bad film can. I don’t know what changes but the camp starts connecting. I think I have to attribute it to Natasha Lyonne.
Fido – A great boy-and-his-dog movie, but with zombies! It’s not scary and has very little gore so it’s safe for pretty much everyone to watch.
Pineapple Express – Why do I like stoner movies? I don’t know, but this one is pretty good. Maybe it’s the pothead logic? This one has characters aware that they have pothead logic and an over the top ending.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant – The pacing on this kept it pretty entertaining from start to finish. I also like their take on motion blur and I hope it’s used elsewhere.
Head Over Heels – It’s like Zoolander except with female models, and they all live. Freddie Prinze Jr is the love interest and that’s find but he’s not very believable at playing someone in his job… either of them. There’s enough funny to keep it entertaining though.
Capitalism: A Love Story – So far my favorite Micahel Moore movie is still Sicko. It is straight to the point and doesn’t rely on his usual gimmicks. This one shows in general he’s improving, but he still falls back on his gimmicks from time to time. The first hour feels scattered, and while the stories are sad, they have little connection to one another or the point he’s trying to make. Later he finds his focus and that’s great! Except you’re wishing he would have tied those earlier stories in to the now focused narrative to drive the point home.
Trojan War – This movie must ahve been sponsored by Trojan condoms. It’s one of those everything goes wrong in a night kind of movies. In this case the guy is trying to get laid and his quest is to find a Trojan condom. Not the best movie of its type but it’s amusing.
Miracle at St. Anna – Good WWII movie, but it’s about the black soldiers who served. Surprisingly there is a decent amount of humor to keep it from getting too heavy. It’ll still get heavy but it won’t stay there. It doesn’t feel as long as it is.
The Brothers Solomon – This has to fall along the lines of A Night at the Roxbury. Except these two brothers aren’t dumb, just insulated from the world and insanely positive about everything. Nothing escapes their positive spin.
Inkheart – Bringing characters to life in a story can be tricky but this manages it well. Kind of like an inverse Never Ending Story. Unfortunately I don’t think it did well enough for the sequels to be made into movies.
Easy Virtue – Funny period piece about an American woman causing upheaval in an English family. It didn’t have the ending I was expecting, or a lot of events throughout the movie for that matter. Check it out.
Lakeview Terrace – Samuel L Jackson plays the neighbor from hell. The trailer only shows a small portion of what goes on. It’s not like there’s even a transformation, he’s just messed up from the start.
A Christmas Carol (2009) – The level of detail was amazing! The leather, the wood, the buildings, the cloth, the motion! You could even see that the outside of his foot comes down before the inside when he climbs the stairs! On top of it, it was a good telling of the story. It even make use of an absence of sound. How often does that happen in an animated movie?
Factorum – This has the same main character as Barfly. I’ve never seen Barfly, and I’m not sure I want to. The main character is interesting in that he can be repulsive and sympathetic at the same time. It’s listed as a comedy, but the only really funny part I though was when he got crabs.
We Don’t Live Here Anymore – Irritating characters who don’t like one another destroying their relationships. Surprisingly the kids don’t seem too effected by the whole situation despite Laura Dern having some impressive angry yelling and throwing things.


Yay for nice people!

We received a refund check from our insurance company. I had it with me Sunday when we went downtown with the intent to deposit it, but instead it was forgotten. When I got home I realized I no longer had it and it must have fallen from a pocket.

Monday I called the insurance company to cancel the check and issue us a new one.
Tuesday we received an envelope with the check and this note in it:
“Found this on the street. (Pacific Ave)
In Front of Borders.
Figured you could use it.”

There was no identifying return information. Thank you anonymous
nice person!


Oddly quiet

Today, in addition to being warm, is oddly quiet downtown. There is very little traffic, there are few people walking around, and I didn’t even hear any street musicians as I walked around running errands. Was Halloween night that taxing on everyone?


Storm prep 2009

Yesterday was sent getting ready for the first big rain of the season. Boards that were still scattered about from the fence building were put away. Loose items secured for the wind. I took down the chimney from the wood-burning stove we no longer have. It’s always leaked so it’s good to have it down. Last year in a hurry we taped a plastic bag over it but that is long gone. The screws for the supports came out without unscrewing them so I think we got to it just in time.

For future weather I dug a hole to put in a pole for the satellite dish so it stops going out of alignment every six months. Then I found out that there aren’t any 2-inch diameter, 8-feet long fence poles around on a Sunday so that will have to wait.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to putting a layer of plastic under the house and after this rain it’ll probably too wet under there to do that easily. Next year for sure!

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