Thursday, August 31, 2006
Congrats Erin and the entire
Congrats Erin and the entire Houston, We Have a Problem relay team, featured in an article in the Chronicle today. They finished 51st out of more than 1000 teams at last weekend's Hood-to-Coast Relay in Oregon.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Our seats for the Astros
Our seats for the Astros game last night were in Section 256. For those not familiar with Minute Maid Park, section 256 is about as far as you can possibly get from home plate. Thus when the 0-0 pitcher's duel ended with the Astros scoring in the bottom of the 9th on a rather confusing play, it shouldn't be surprising to hear that those of us in section 256 didn't have the slightest idea of what had just happened. We saw the home plate umpire signal safe, but even that took a moment.
As it turns out, even the players weren't sure what had happened. "I hit the ball, saw Cirillo grab it and step on first. Then, I was confused," said Aubrey Huff. "I don't care, we got the win, and that's what matters."
We stood in the stands to watch the game highlights, and after seeing the replay, we still weren't sure what happened. We debated it the whole way to the car. This morning, I'm finally getting myself cleared up on the play.
"The question Astros players wanted answered: How was Huff's game-winner scored?
"Is it a fielder's choice?" Huff asked.
"It's a fielder's ... something," Lamb replied.
Actually, Huff was credited with a walk-off RBI groundout. No joke. He came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth against reliever Jose Capellan and scorched a hard grounder down the first-base line.
Brewers first baseman Jeff Cirillo made the stab, dove toward the bag for the forceout and fired a throw to the plate. Fortunately for the Astros, the out at first eliminated the force at home, where Lamb beat catcher Damian Miller's tag."
Sounds simple enough now. But it sure was confusing last night! The bases were loaded, with Berkman on first. All Cirillo really needed to do was tag first base and then tag Berkman, who was also confused and didn't run anywhere -- he just stood on first, apparently thinking it might have been a line drive. But Cirillo's snag carried him a bit into foul territory, and he tagged the base, and then somehow Berkman got back on first base safely, which was open again after Cirillo tagged it. So he threw home, where Miller didn't realize that he no longer had a force out. Lamb slid past him. Safe, score, Astros win!
It must be added that Willy Taveras played some outstanding center field last night, and the Astros would not have been in a position to win 1-0 if Willy hadn't 1) gunned down Jeff Cirillo trying to stretch a double into a triple in the 4th, 2) made a catch almost at the wall in the 6th, and 3) made a spectacular diving catch with the bases loaded in the 7th for the 3rd out.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Photos from the recent trip
Photos from the recent trip Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness, and my drive from the Denver airport to Keystone are up in my gallery. Most are mine, but the ones at the end were taken by Jose using my point-n-shoot.
No pics from the conference, of course, because who wants to see pics of people watching presentations?
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I walked outside this morning
I walked outside this morning to get in the car and head to work and it was gasp sort of cool. Cool front? Really? My first thought: "Wish I had time for a run." Heh.
We went to the Astros game last night and saw a great win, which was nice. The Astros went up 3-0, but the Brewers tied it with three runs off Oswalt in the 7th. I was dreading what might happen next, but suddenly the Astros caught on fire and scored seven runs in the 8th, capped off by Jason Lane's grand slam. It was all very exciting.
The only real disappointment was that Willy Taveras didn't get a hit, so his streak was stopped at 30 games. Of course, he might have gotten a hit if he hadn't lost not one, but two at-bats to getting hit by pitches. Both from Tomo Ohka. Both on the first pitch of the at-bat, and, the first time, on the first pitch of the entire game. I don't buy that they were both accidental. Ohka is a bum.
We're also going to the game tonight, where we will hopefully see another win.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I shall from now on
I shall from now on refer to STS-115 as the "Will They, Won't They?" shuttle mission.
Lightning strike. Hurricane. What's next? Locusts?
So we decide to roll back to the VAB. We drain the fuel tanks and disconnect the shuttle from all the stuff at the pad. We leave the launch pad and get halfway back to the VAB...
Wait! Maybe the winds won't be that bad. Stop -- reverse.
We are now heading back to the launch pad.
Will we? Won't we?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I'd seen this size comparison
I'd seen this size comparison of the planets before, but not with other stars included as well. Antares is, like, 200 times bigger than the Sun! Whoa.
Thanks Brian for the link.
Monday, August 28, 2006
I'm taking a third design
I'm taking a third design class at UHCL this fall -- Advertising Design. The semester started last week, but I missed the first class since I was at the conference in Colorado. Our first assignment, however, is due tonight:
"Download 5 high-quality photographs that would make a wonderful setting for an advertisment. Turn each photograph into an "Advertisement" by typing an original word, phrase, sentence, or slogan onto each image using Photoshop. Use all your knowledge of Photoshop's Type Tools, Layer Effects, and advanced manipulation techniques to make these Ads as professional as possible."
I decided to use NASA images since 1) they're readily available and 2) they're in the public domain and can be used freely. Instead of five separate ads for separate things, I went with a single theme and got inspiration from the NASA Exploration website, an old PBS ad campaign that Jose told me about, and the fact that I think the solar system is pretty amazing. I compared some features on other planets to those on Earth to make what, I hope, is easily recognized as a sort of "awareness ad" campaign. Not selling a product, obviously, but just trying to make people think about and remember NASA.
Anyway. Click to see larger versions.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
This morning was the Cinco
This morning was the Cinco Ranch Triathlon, the goal race of the 10-week training program I've been doing all summer. It was an up-and-down race, but in the end I earned my first official piece of hardware! Read on for all the details...
I'll start with the bad: my run was absolutely horrible. It turns out that any benefit I might have gotten from spending the past week in the thin air of 8,000-10,000 feet altitude were completely outweighed by the negative impact of not staying adjusted to heat and humidity. As if that weren't enough, I started in the last group, so we got to deal with the most sun. I walked as much, or more, than I ran. I got a cramp in my side. I felt tingly. In short, I overheated! I struggled to a 35:58 time for the 3-mile run. That's 11:59/mile. OUCH. The only silver lining is that since I wasn't wearing a watch, I actually thought I might've done worse. I was thankful just to see that it was under 12:00/mile.
But on to the good: I had my best bike leg ever. I'll chalk up part of it to my legal blood doping (the altitude thing), and another part to having finally cleaned my bike yesterday (so the chain and cog were finally degreased and re-lubed and shiny), and a final part to my training program. I covered the 12 miles in 39:34, or an average of 18.2 mph! I was very happy with my ride, and felt good the whole way. Sadly the training I've done doesn't seem to have improved my running much, but it has definitely improved my biking.
The swimming also went well, despite the fact that the lake was downright nasty. Tons of grass and weeds (I think I may have been dragging an additional 10 pounds of lake plant crap through the water), and because I was in the last group to start, the water had gotten so churned up by that point that I couldn't see a darn thing underwater. There was so much dirt floating around in there that while standing there before the start, with my hands under water, I couldn't see them until I brought them to within an inch of the surface. I covered the 500 yards in 9:44, which is about what I expected. (Just under 2:00 per 100 yards is always a good estimate for me.) I probably could've finished closer to 9:00 but I was forced to do quite a bit of pulling up at various points due to people that couldn't swim straight and were therefore either smacking my legs or kicking me in the head. It was one of the more violent swims I've done.
I expected to finish faster than the Tejas Tri in June (where I did 1:28:48) and even told someone yesterday that I hope for better than 1:20, but in retrospect I was obviously misestimating. The swim was 300 yards shorter than Tejas, but I'd forgotten that the bike was 1.5 miles longer -- and those two almost cancel each other out; -5:45 for the shorter swim, but +5:00 for the longer bike, so I'm saving less than a minute. My bike was faster, but my transitions were much slower (explanation in a minute) and my run was about 2:30 slower. All that added up such that I finished 3 minutes slower than Tejas. The breakdown:
Swim (500 yards) - 9:44
Transition 1 - 3:40
Bike (12 miles) - 39:34
Transition 2 - 2:52
Run (3 miles) - 35:58
Total Time - 1:31:46
And now the best part: I earned my first official piece of race hardware! Like in June, I chose to forego my age group and entered the "Annie Oakley" category, for women who weigh more than 150 pounds, and lo and behold, I finished 3rd in that category! 3rd out of 17! I got a cool plaque and the satisfaction of a legitimate hardware result. Cooler still is that after checking the results, I see that I beat one of the girls who finished ahead of me in June (where I was 5th in the weight category). I'm still bummed about my crappy run, but the two women ahead of me were there by more than 6 minutes, so a good run for me still wouldn't have gotten me higher on the "podium." But a worse run would have dropped me quickly -- 4th and 5th place each finished within 1:30 of me.
This was my first time at this event (this was its 14th year) and while overall I think it was well-organized, I did have one fairly major complaint -- the transition area. Here's a quick graphic I drew to show you what I mean. Number 1 was racked right next to the bike in/out, while number 1000 was racked at the far end. My number was 866, so I had to rack my bike on the 5th rack from the end of the transition area.
Do you see the problem? People with low numbers come out of the water, enter transition, and pass their bike on the way to the bike out. People with high numbers (aka me) come out of the water, enter transitions, have to run all the way down to the far end, get their bike, and run all the way back to the other end before they can finally get on their bike and get going (you cannot mount your bike until you're outside transition). And of course while with your bike, you're running in clunky clicky bike shoes (i.e. not easy). When you return from the bike it's the same thing -- run the entire length of the transition area to re-rack your bike, then run halfway back to finally start the run course.
To the race's credit, they do put each age group or weight category together, so that everyone in my category had the same disadvantage. Still, the result is that each of my transitions were a minute or more slower than they would've been had I had a low number. In June at Tejas, my transition times were 2:48 and 1:35, and that was before I had my tri shorts and quick laces and therefore was doing additional clothes-changing and shoe-tying. Today? 3:40 and 2:52. I think the impact is obvious.
The funniest part is that I think the issue could be quickly fixed by simply shifting the transition area down the street (it was in the middle of a completely blocked-off street) such that the swim in and run out gates are at the far end of the area. Then everyone has to run the length of transition exactly twice while getting their stuff for the next leg of the race. I may send the organizers an email suggesting just that. Not sure what their reasons are for the way it's currently done.
But ANYWAY: a great bike, a horrible run, and my first real piece of race hardware. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
I was just channel flipping
I was just channel flipping and stopped on the Discovery Channel, where they are doing a marathon of a show called "Dirty Jobs." Literally -- dirty jobs, where people get all sorts of messy.
The current show is about the KC-135 tanker, how they refuel other planes in-air, and how they're cleaned by "tank rats." They cleaned out the fuel tank in one of the KC-135s, replaced one of the fuel bladders that had been leaking, and then took it on a test run over Kansas.
I couldn't help but think of Becca when I noticed that the tank cleaner, the KC-135 pilot, and the fuel boom operator were all women. Becca, though I know you're not big on the military, I thought you'd appreciate that. :)
Friday, August 25, 2006
I'm back from Colorado and
I'm back from Colorado and it SUCKS.
Ok, actually, it's not so bad, except that it's hot here. And humid. And flat. On the upside, I can go up a flight of stairs without getting winded.
My schedule immediately got busy again now that I've returned from vacation. (Yes, even though the conference was technically work, it felt like vacation.) Tonight Jose and I are going to the Ballunar Festival to watch the hot air balloons. I've never actually watched them officially -- just seen them from my apartment, or been crewing for one of them. I'm hoping to get some neat shots of the balloon glow.
Tomorrow morning I'll be stopping by HARRA's Party in the Park for a bit, then over to Katy to get my packet for Sunday's Cinco Ranch Triathlon. After that, my apartment needs major cleaning.
Sunday morning, of course, is the triathlon (and I'll be doing another one next Sunday). Sunday afternoon is the STS-115 launch! It seems amazing that one is launching so quickly after STS-121 in July. I think that's a sign that it's been far too long since shuttles were launching regularly.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Today Rich, Lyndon and I
Today Rich, Lyndon and I went mountain biking. Not Houston mountain biking. Colorado mountain biking. As in, we rode the ski lift up 2,300 feet with our bikes and then rode all the way back down to the village. It took about an hour and a half.
Here I am faking a crash. We thought it would be funny.
Here I am face down after a real crash. Rich was taking a photo before he even thought to ask about my well-being! I'm ok, but my knees each have a lump and I suspect they'll be sporting some lovely bruises tomorrow.
I gave my presentation this morning and it went very well. Of the six papers in my session, mine drew the biggest audience which was a nice little ego boost. ;) I got some good questions that I was able to answer, so all in all, things went very well.
Tomorrow it's back to Houston. It feels like I've been gone for a very long time.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Another day, another dollar. If
Another day, another dollar. If only I could earn my salary like this every week -- in a gorgeous location, and listening to interesting presentations. Of course, conferences would get really boring if they were all I ever did, but once a year, they're a nice change of pace.
I just practiced my presentation here in the condo. It took 22 minutes (perfect) but I felt very out-of-breath trying to speak authoritatively and constantly for 22 minutes. Hope it's better tomorrow.
In the "it's a small world" department, while stopping in the hall to get a coke between sessions, I met a girl who lived in my apartment complex this summer while grad co-oping at JSC. She recognized me and asked. Random.
Rich and I had both lunch and dinner with the FAA guys. They are really funny; I'll miss working with them when I move to my new job in a month or so. Dan offered me one of his free drink coupons as a way of thanking me for putting up with all their 20-minute telecon roll calls. It's funny to realize that in the end, everyone puts up with the same frustrations no matter where they work. It also turns out that Dan helped program the ARD. (That will make more sense if you're a coworker, but ARD Support is the flight control position I'm currently training for.) I asked him why it's so crappy; he just laughed. RANDOM.
Now that I know I'm heading for flight control and leaving the analysis stuff that's been my job for the past four years behind, I'm feeling some nostalgia for it. It's been fun to be part of the very small group of people concerned with predicting where space junk will go and therefore protecting the public from it. Being here makes me feel like I'm an expert on my one little piece of the puzzle, and that's a pretty cool feeling.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
These past two days of
These past two days of running have been maybe the two most difficult runs of my life. Is there such a thing as altitude-induced asthma? Today when I walked back into the condo, I don't think I was audibly wheezing, but it felt like it. Deep breaths made me cough a bit. I realized that while I was breathing hard, my breathing was also very shallow.
I feel better now, after a shower and a sit. I ran what I estimate, via Google Pedometer and its not-so-good map and satellite imagery of Keystone, to be about 5 miles. It took me 57 minutes, which actually isn't that bad! That's about 11:30/mile pace. At 9,300 feet! Amazing. I could be overestimating slightly, but I really think 5 miles is pretty close. Maybe 4.8-4.9. Damn Google Pedometer -- why don't they have higher res imagery? :) No matter how you slice it, I definitely went a little faster than yesterday, so that's good.
Keystone slopes down from end to end. I'm at the higher end, which is at 9,300 feet. I started out running down the valley in a 10/1 run/walk pattern until my watch read 27 minutes. (That'd be 25 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking so far.) I wanted to run for an hour total, so at that point I decided to turn around, figuring it would take me quite a bit longer to run back uphill. I think I lost about 150 feet of elevation in total before heading back uphill, which sucked. Still, I made it back to the condo quicker than I expected -- 30 minutes! (Or, 27 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking.)
I may not run tomorrow, since Rich and I are planning to go mountain biking. You can take a bike to the top via the chair lift, and ride down. Should be really fun.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Three things I've learned today:
Three things I've learned today:
+ Ski towns in summer resemble ghost towns -- empty and slighty creepy.
This morning when I left the condo, I didn't see a soul until I got to Starbucks. (Thank goodness for Starbucks!) There are very few people around. I mean, there are at least a few hundred people here for the conference, but they're spread out in lodging across the resort, which is 6 or so miles from end to end.
While running, I ended up at the bottom of a couple of the ski lifts that I swear were swinging and creaking in the breeze like the saloon doors in some old black-and-white 1930s western. I expected to see a tumbleweed blow by at any minute! There were lift ticket windows, stores, and restaurants -- and every single place was shuttered up tight.
+ You don't truly realize how much time you've been spending with someone until you are suddenly deprived of their company.
I spent all afternoon alone in the condo. There weren't any great talks at the conference, and I needed to spend a solid few hours putting together my presentation for Wednesday morning. It was really, really quiet. I had to keep the TV or iPod on to make things seem more normal.
+ At 9,500 feet above sea level, you can be gasping for air even if you're running really, really slowly.
I went running tonight for the first time at serious altitude. Though I've hiked at 9,000 feet and above many times, I've never attempted to run. It's tough. Of course it's tough. I knew it'd be tough, and it was.
Keystone has a nice long bike trail that runs the length of the resort (about 6 miles in total from what I can tell). I ran from my condo to one end and back then down to Rich's condo and back for what, as far as I can tell, was about 3.5 miles, give or take a bit. It took me a huffing, puffing, heaving, and gasping 44 minutes to do the run in a 6/1 running/walking pattern.
Even the downhill portions were hard, and in addition to the massive amounts of air I was trying to gulp down as quickly as possible, my legs were completely and utterly dead. No spring, no zip, no energy. I wonder if that has something to do with the altitude as well? In any case, I'll try again tomorrow and if nothing else, a week at altitude is bound to do me some good in the Cinco Ranch Tri on Sunday. Hooray for legal blood doping! ;)
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I made it to Keystone
I made it to Keystone tonight, after dropping Jose off at the airport and wallowing in self-pity for a bit. I'd just gotten over the fact that I'm now going to be alone for the next few days when I checked in to my hotel room and found out that I've been upgraded -- to a one-bedroom condo. All this room and all these amenities! And it's only me.
Camping was lovely, despite some gloomy weather Friday and Saturday. We didn't end up trying for Mt. Audubon today because we didn't get up early enough ("we" really meaning "me and Jose") so the four of us went up to Blue Lake instead. It was lovely, and was only 700 feet up instead of the 2700 to the top of Audubon. ;) I'll post some photos tomorrow once I get a chance to download them all.
This afternoon as I drove away from the airport I saw a tornado! Only I wasn't quite sure it was a tornado at the time. It was lighter than all the clouds around it -- almost like a sideways S-shaped beam of light coming down from the dark clouds. It didn't look like any tornado I've ever seen on TV. But I later found out that there were tornados east of Denver that delayed Jose's plane, so it was a tornado! That's the first one I've ever seen. It was very far away, so no worries. I can't believe I didn't stop to take a picture, but a lot of other people did -- check it out.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
This morning I managed to
This morning I managed to spill my entire cup of coffee in the parking lot on my way in. I salvaged exactly one sip. I was so mad.
I think this means it's time for vacation.
Tonight Jose and I will be staying with Chris in Denver, tomorrow night we'll be in Rocky Mountain National Park on our own, and Saturday night we'll be in Indian Peaks Wilderness with Gavin and Jen. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning we'll be doing a couple small, easy hikes in RMNP. Sunday morning we'll be heading for the top of 13,223-foot Mt. Audubon. I am looking forward to hiking, and mountains, and trees, and lakes.
Last night was my final brick workout before Cinco Ranch, since I won't be able to do a brick next week in Colorado. I did 20 miles on the bike in 1:10:36, which is an average of 17.5 mph. I was surprised to see that average, since I didn't push very hard. I think the wind was nonexistant last night, so I was able to cruise at my normal speed instead of getting slowed by the wind. From there I took ~2:00 to transition and headed out for 3 miles of running, which was downright miserable. The heat index was at about 100 degrees, and it zapped just about every ounce of energy I had. I did the first two miles in something like 23:00 with a minute of walking each half mile, then faded even more in the last mile to finish the run in a pathetic 36-37 minutes. I am a little discouraged that after my sub-20:00 2-mile run in the first stage of the Duathlon a month ago, I haven't been able to get back there, even in the 5Ks I've done.
I'll be back online Monday.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
June, I just saw your
June, I just saw your comment on the previous entry and WOW -- I definitely could not have made it through 18 innings last night. Too bad the Astros still lost. What's up with Lidge? That's been the question all season. Five blown saves, but it feels like 50.
I spent last night relaxing and destressing. Like I said, I have a tendency to get overwhelmed at times, but I always feel better if I just take a step back and look at the big picture. So I did.
I went swimming after work in the overchlorinated pool (two showers later, I still smell like chlorine) and did 1500 yards in 37:45. 800 yards of that was warmup and cooldown, so less than half of the yardage was the actual workout. Following this training program has gotten me more using to warming up and cooling down before going hard -- something that I have always been bad at. I tend to just get out and go! Good news is, I think I've gotten a little faster in the water. I can consistently do 50s in just under 1 minute now, even at the end of the workout when I'm tired.
After that, I had dinner with Jose and we headed to Academy to get him ready for camping this weekend. He needed a sleeping bag and a raincoat or poncho, and we found both at Academy. He got a 25-degree mummy bag that's got all the same features as mine for $36! I'm pretty sure I paid more than that for the one I got online a few years ago. Mine might be a little lighter, but if so, it's only be a few ounces. I was impressed.
At dinner I rattled nervously about hiking, to the point where Jose finally said "you know, you're making me think I won't like it." It was only then that I really realized how nervous I've been about the prospect of going hiking and camping with him. When hiking, I am a very destination-oriented person, and am always looking for something to summit. I like to get to the highest thing around and see what I can see. I think, I know, that he will prefer a slower pace. I know our styles will be different, but why does that bother me? I have plenty of friends that I hike with who prefer different paces and destinations, and that doesn't bug me. For some reason, I kept thinking this would be a problem with me and Jose, but of course it won't. As he said last night, "I don't like baseball, but I go with you to games because you like it." Good point. If he doesn't like my rather intense style of hiking, it doesn't mean he doesn't like me.
Anyway, I got over it, and I am mega-excited to be going to the mountains with my boy. Tonight after my brick workout (the last before the tri, since I won't have a bike in Colorado!), I'm going to pack. Packing is yet another thing that stresses me out, but not if I have a list, so this afternoon I will make one. I'm going to have to take the big suitcase since I need 1) hiking clothes for this weekend, 2) work clothes for the conference next week, and 3) running clothes since running will have to substitute for all my biking workouts for the next week. Well, maybe. Rich will also be at the conference, which is at Keystone Resort. There's no snow, of course, so no skiing, but he mentioned going mountain biking. That would be really fun.
Today I'm listening to my new favorite album: Under the Iron Sea, by Keane. All the songs are poppy. They make me happy.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I've been feeling a bit
I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. It's no one thing in particular; rather, it's a lot of small things that are making me feel panicky when stacked atop each other. That said, you don't really have to read the rest of this entry unless you want to see how neurotic I can be...
I'm moving to a new group at work within the next month. What if they don't like me? What if I don't work hard enough for them? What if that really quiet guy thinks I'm annoying? What if moving into the same office as someone who means a lot to me is too much for us?
Because I'm leaving my current group, I suddenly find myself with a lot of wrap-up tasks on my plate. Unfortunately, we always procrastinate when it comes to knowledge capture, and I find myself with a long list of things I know and processes I've developed that I want to document so that the next person won't have so many struggles. How am I going to get all that done? Because on top of that, I want to spend some serious time studying for my back room flight control position since I discovered that I have so many areas for improvement after last week's midpoint. How am I going to fit all this in?
This morning I missed the presentation of Matt's big award, the one he got for working his butt off over the past year, which bummed me out. I missed it because it was early and I wasn't at work, and I forgot because I didn't have it on my calendar, and I didn't have it on my calendar because my palm pilot had a dead battery. Because of the lack of calendar, I also missed a telecon that, by a lucky twist of fate, didn't happen anyway due to technical difficulties. When did my life become so scheduled that I can't live without my palm pilot?
I'm leaving town on Thursday night for three days of vacation in the mountains followed by four days of a work-related conference. My paper is done, but when am I going to put together the presentation? How am I going to get my triathlon training done when I won't have my bike? I'm excited to be going on vacation, but what if the weather is bad? What if Jose doesn't like my style of camping and hiking? What if he doesn't want to climb to the top of that 13,000 foot mountain, but I do? What if I can't build a fire? Sadly, despite my camping experience, I must admit to never having built a fire on my own! What if we can't find Gavin and Jen on Saturday when we're supposed to meet up with them?
The HARRA website still needs some major work. People keep asking me about feature on the route creater that I don't know how to answer because I don't understand the Google hack that the previous webmaster set up. Why did I think that my web skills are up-to-date? How am I going to easily manage this web database so that I don't have to manually type in all the changes?
I'm skipping the Astros game tonight because I went last night, and I just don't have time or energy for two nights in a row. Why did I get season tickets this year if I knew I was going to be so busy? I've used maybe 3/4 of our ~20 games so far, but probably more like half. Wasted money. Why do I always waste money?
The Cinco Ranch Tri is on August 27, and the Summertime Blues Tri is September 3. I'm doing both of them, and I've been training consistently for more than two months for them (which is saying a lot for me). But I haven't really gotten much faster, and I haven't lost any weight. What's the point in doing all this exercise if I'm not improving something?
Monday, August 14, 2006
I had grand plans to
I had grand plans to get up early yesterday and get my 30-mile bike ride in while it was still cool. I was up at 7:00 and ready to walk out the door a few minutes later, but I couldn't find my garage door opener. With a sinking feeling, I realized that after having taken the opener I usually keep inside the apartment with me the night before, both of my garage door openers were now inside my car. Which was inside the garage.
After a halfhearted effort to lift the door myself (which was made difficult by the fact that I couldn't get my fingers underneath it), I gave up. My only real option was to wait until the apartment complex office opened at noon, so I grumbled a bit and went back to bed.
By noon, of course, it was downright steamy outside. I might have gone riding then anyway, but I had a soccer game last night and riding in the noon heat would've killed me for the rest of the day. On top of that, Gilruth is closed on Sundays and my apartment gym doesn't have a bike! Gah! In the end, Jose swooped to the rescue with a guest pass to 24 Hour Fitness, where I rode the stationary bike for an hour while watching, alternately, both the Astros game and the muscleheads working out.
Other than that my weekend pretty much went as planned! Fish Night at Becca's on Friday, Houston Running Bloggers at Run The Woodlands on Saturday morning, and tickets to the Dynamo game on Saturday night! It was only my 3rd game of the year and it was nice to get back out there and see some quality soccer. The Dynamo beat cross-state rival FC Dallas as well, so that was awesome. Also cool was running in Erin, who hadn't been able to make that morning's race.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Despite the long drive, I
Despite the long drive, I had a great time at Run The Woodlands this morning, where the Houston Running Bloggers challenged the Seven Hills Running Club to a friendly competition. We bloggers were defeated before the race even began due to participation points -- SHRC got 40+ members out there, while HRB doesn't even have 40 members total -- but everyone still had a great time and Run The Woodlands set a new participant record of ~170 runners! Not bad at all for a race that costs only $1.
I ran a pretty good race -- I forgot to stop my watch until a bit after the finish line, but I think I was right at about 32:30, same as Maribelle's last week. I ran the first mile with Cassie and Donna and we covered it in about 10:20. Donna and I stopped for a quick walk break before running some more. I got ahead of Donna but couldn't catch up to Cassie, and passed the mile 2 marker in 20:50. I think I pushed a bit too hard in that second mile, because I had to take three quick walk breaks in the third mile as the heat got to me. ("Acclimated" as I may get to the heat, it still gets to me. Last night I ran 4 miles in an overall average of 10:50 on the treadmill and had gas left in the tank at the end. Today I had no gas left when I huffed across the finish line.)
So, it was a good race for me and I had a great time seeing all my "internet friends." I also saw Gavin's dad and -- very randomly -- Amy Cupitt (I play softball with her husband Sean). Amy couldn't believe that she actually saw someone she know at Run The Woodlands (she was up to hang out with a friend) and I thought it was pretty unbelievable as well! I had to tell her that it was a special occasion, and that I'm not actually crazy enough to drive an hour both ways to do RTW regularly.
After the race I made it back to Clear Lake in time for lunch with Jose, Becca and Cari who'd all gone flying this morning. Becca's trying to talk Jose into taking flying lessons (he's interested enough that she may actually be able to do it) so she can have another pilot friend. :)
Friday, August 11, 2006
Happy Birthday Carter! Edit: And
Happy Birthday Carter!
Edit: And Holden! :)
I guess there's nothing like getting thrown back into the fire to make you get over your bad day. I had another sim this morning, a FDO/Booster, which means that all sorts of craziness happens. Though it wasn't nearly as tough as Tuesday night, it was still challenging, and I did pretty well.
One of the most interesting aspects of working in the control center has nothing to do with flight control though -- it's the interesting and/or famous people that pass through. This morning I looked up on the TV that shows the front room (which is about 20 feet from where I sit) to see Buzz Aldrin wandering around with a couple camera guys. He was in the room for about 20 minutes and basically debriefed our last run for the cameras; I think it was for NASA TV or something. As I walked past the door on my way to the coffee, I glanced in the doorway and yep. Buzz Aldrin.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Everything that happened between my
Everything that happened between my midpoint and last night is sort of blurry. I was so upset about the way things went that I walked around in a daze for basically the next 24 hours. I got hugs and reassurances, I ate, I slept, I spent yesterday in a training class on "Communication Skills for the Technical Professional" that had some good tips, but was mostly boring.
A day later, I found myself in a much better place: on the field taking photos at the Houston Dynamo vs LA Galaxy / FC Barcelona vs Club America soccer double header last night. I haven't had time to go through my photos yet, but I think I got some good ones. And even some good ones of mega-star Ronaldinho. It was very strange seeing him in person after watching him on TV during the World Cup. He looks the same. As if he wouldn't.
The Dynamo game was ok (though they lost to Landon Donovan and the Galaxy), but the Barcelona/Club America matchup was incredible! The stadium was completely full -- 70,000+ people -- and Club America stunned everyone by racing to a 4-1 lead by halftime. Ronaldinho, who had been on the bench thus far, came in at the start of the 2nd half and the crowd went crazy. He immediately started pulling his fancy footwork, though for a while it had no effect. In the last five minutes of the game, though, Barcelona scored 3 goals, including a penalty kick from Ronaldinho, to finish the game in a 4-4 tie! The crowd went crazy all over again.
I'm dreading the post-midpoint discussion on how I did and what I need to work on, but I am determined to redeem myself. I have another sim tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
My "midterm" is over and
My "midterm" is over and it went pretty crappy. I feel like I was unprepared, and then on top of that, I got sucker punched. And I don't really want to talk about it at the moment.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
At Vic's suggestion, I'm thinking
At Vic's suggestion, I'm thinking of adding this to my triathlon training program... ;)
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Tonight I have a midterm.
Tonight I have a midterm. Seriously! I know I'm not taking any classes, but that's what it is -- my midterm.
I've been training for this backroom flight control position for about 8 months now, and it's time to assess my progress, so tonight from 5-9 I will be slogging through my ARD Support Midpoint. It's also a Targeting Final and a Control Final. That basically means that there's going to be a whole lot of crap going wrong during our fake shuttle launches tonight.
Wish me luck!
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I'm not dead; I've just
I'm not dead; I've just gone three days without a blog entry. Strange, I know. I've been busy. I am getting tired of hearing those words come out of my mouth. "I've been busy." Yuck. It's starting to sound like an excuse. I'm just not sure exactly what to do to calm things down.
I emailed yesterday to say that I cannot volunteer for the Ballunar Festival this year after all. Something had to give, and that's the first thing I chose. It was so much fun last year to help launch the balloons, but I just don't have time this year. The festival starts on Friday the 25th; I'll be getting back from the AIAA Conference in Colorado Thursday night. I was already going to have to miss Sunday morning's flight because it is the day of my triathlon. I was trying to squeeze in something that I don't have time to do. I'm glad I realized it two weeks ahead of time and could gracefully back out. Now I'll be able to go to the festival and take some photos once, instead of having to work five balloon launches. There is always next year to volunteer.
I ran a 32:30 at Maribelle's 5K on the Bay last Saturday morning. I was hoping for better but had no watch (my HRM is still broken), so I had no idea how I was doing until the finish. I thought that might be a good thing; who knows. Still, 32:30 certainly ain't bad for August and I wasn't upset about it. I am, however, hoping to improve on that a bit at Run the Woodlands this weekend.
I rode 23 miles this morning on the bike, starting at 7 am. I had a surprisingly nice time at the early hour. It was cooler and cloudy, there was less traffic, and I saw a lot of other bikers. I'm thinking I should get out there early more often! So things were great...until the heavens opened and I got absolutely poured on. The rain itself actually didn't deter me -- I laughed out loud of the absurdity of it as the water dripped off my helmet, and hands, and glasses, and shoes, and every other exposed part of me and my bike -- but but the HUGE BOLTS OF LIGHTNING had me scurrying for home around mile 20. After one crack that I swear was right above my head, I decided that being outside in a thunderstorm with a large piece of metal between my legs (rubber tires be damned) was maybe not such a good idea, and I think I rode faster than I ever have without going downhill. About 22 mph on the flats! Lightning is scary! It was supposed to have been a 35 mile ride, but 23 will have to do.
In non-running news, I gave Vic and his family a tour of Mission Control today and afterward, I showed Jose the cool stuff at Space Center Houston that they do a horrible job of advertising. GRR. I get so infuriated when I think about the way they have set up their museum-quality items. Their coolest things -- the Faith 7 Mercury capsule, Gemini 5 capsule, Apollo 17 command module, and a moon rock -- are stuffed in a dark corner where half the visitors never go. There is just no excuse for it. I feel like going over there and giving visitors an exit poll. "Did you see the moon rock? How about the Apollo 17 spacecraft?" I think I'd get a lot of responses that go something like "There was a moon rock in there? Where??"
This afternoon I also installed a programmable thermostat. Jose monitored things to make sure I didn't, you know, electrocute myself, but I did it allll by myself. I feel very handy. :)
Thursday, August 03, 2006
I survived the mega-crazy-brick-workout-extravaganza. I
I survived the mega-crazy-brick-workout-extravaganza. I felt like I might die, but I didn't.
Physically, it went perfectly fine. With my HRM broken, I don't have a watch capable of giving me splits, but the bike computer told me that the 3 5.9-mile bikes were done in 1:02:12 for an overall average of 17.1 mph. My very basic stopwatch told me that my total time for the workout (5.9 mile bike, 2 mile run, 5.9 bike, 1 run, 5.9 bike, 1 run) was 1:51:43 which means there was 49:29 leftover for 4 miles of running plus 3 bike->run and 2 run->bike transitions. If that'd been all running, it'd be a 12:22/mile average. In reality, I probably spent at least 4 minutes in those 5 transitions changing shoes each time and dealing with my helmet, which gives me a more promising 11:22/mile average for the 4 total miles of running.
So yeah, physically things were good. Physically.
Mentally, unfortunately, I was in alllll the wrong places. I was tired. I was hungry. It was hot. I forgot my water bottles and had to make do with a 20-oz bottle of Dasani from the vending machine. Almost two hours of exercise and only 20 ounces of water meant that I was dehydrated. (Post-workout, within an hour, I had gulped a bottle of Gatorade, a bottle of chocolate milk, and another bottle of water. MMM.) I was the last to finish the workout, and for the entire two hours I mentally berated myself for being so slow. Why was I putting myself through this? Why do I bother? I haven't lost any weight, and while I've gotten faster, I'm not exactly going to be winning races anytime soon...or ever. I had to walk a little bit during the runs to catch my breath. I was mad. I was grumpy. Most of all, I was scared. I didn't want to do it. Somehow as yesterday progressed, I totally psyched myself out about the workout.
On Tuesday morning I was thinking about a Half Ironman. On Wednesday night I was telling myself that even a sprint tri was a dumb idea. I had a good swim workout and felt like I could do anything; then I had a bum day at work, and felt like I'd be better of quitting.
It's funny how quickly attitudes can change, and how much external things affect you. I plan on getting back into good mental shape right away.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I mentioned the thought of
I mentioned the thought of doing a Half Ironman and immediately, a conflict appeared. The Ironstar in Conroe is on October 29, and I found out yesterday that 1) I'm invited to Rachel's wedding and 2) it's been moved from October 21 to October 28. Not a problem...if the wedding was in Houston. It's in Georgia. So, it looks like the Half Ironman is not meant to be this year. I even looked up a calendar to see if perhaps there was another one nearby, but alas, nothing. I may set my sights on the Half Ironman in Galveston next April though...
I basically did nothing last night except run 4 miles on the treadmill (averaging 11:00/mile which is fast for me when running on the 'mill) and then ignore Jose for two hours while I messed around with the HARRA website database (the subject of my previous "help!" post). We did have a yummy dinner at Mediterraneo though, so I wasn't a totally horrible girlfriend. Whew. As for the website and its database, I've basically decided that for once, the solution to my problem might be to just go buy one of the "For Dummies" books and work through it.
Tonight is a crazy brick workout with emphasis on transitions (this workout was rained out last week): 6 mile bike, 2 mile run, 6 mile bike, 1 mile run, 6 mile bike, 1 mile run. I think I may die.
Despite the workouts, I seem to be gaining weight. This morning I weighed more than I have in at least two years. NOT COOL. The problem is that with all the workouts, I'm always hungry! I was hungry when I woke up this morning, and my stomach is already growling in anticipation of lunch. SIGH. Goals for the next few weeks: start packing lunches a couple times per week, and go out to each a few times less.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
For my more computer-saavy friends:
For my more computer-saavy friends: I need an easy way to import an Excel table into a SQL database. I know this is possible. I just don't know how. Help!
Update: Ok, hopefully this is more accurate. What I really need is some sort of SQL database management software. This is my first time working with databases. I understand the concept -- tables and stuff. Is there something that will let me manage the tables similar to Excel? Like a database-connected version of Excel? Am I sounding crazy? If that doesn't exist, I just want a way to upload an Excel table and merge it into the database.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Yesterday was a big swim
Yesterday was a big swim workout -- 2000 yards, which didn't sound like a lot until I realized it was 40 laps in my apartment complex pool. I don't think I'd ever done that many laps there before. I was a little intimdated, to tell the truth, because the meat of the workout called for 2x500 with only a one minute break between the two sets. I've swum 500-yard sets before, but never doing freestyle the whole way.
I'm happy to report that all this working out is still paying off -- I did the two 500-yard repeats in just under 11:00 each, without much of a problem! After that it was 4x25 backstroke (random), followed by another 500 yards of cooldown. For the cooldown, I messed around with all kinds of stuff. Some breaststroke, some freestyle, some drills.
The other interesting item of note was that during my 400-yard warmup, I never got winded. The schedule called for using a pull buoy (a floatation device that you hold between your legs so you don't have to kick -- like the opposite of a kickboard), so I was only pulling with my arms. I wasn't going hard, obviously, since it was warmup. But man, I could have done laps like that forever! It was interesting to notice how much more tired you get when you have to involve your legs in the stroke as well.
When all was said and done, I'd done 2000 yards (400 warm up, 1100 workout, and 500 cool down) in 50 minutes. 2000 yards is 1.25 miles, which got me thinking about something else...
I'd like to do a Half Ironman. That's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. It's been in the back of my mind, and I know there's the Ironstar in Conroe at the end of October, but I'd always been sort of thinking about it for next year. 2007. Not 2006. Last night though, I started toying with the idea of trying to do it this year. I mean, by the end of August I'll be halfway there -- doing bike rides of 35 miles, runs of 8 miles, and swims of 2200 yards. I could sign up for On The Run's next tri training program, which begins right when the current one ends. The Ironstar's cutoff time is 8 hours, which I can do -- a reasonable estimate for me would be something like 45 minutes for the swim, 3:30-3:45 for the bike, and 2:45-3:00 for the run, which would leave me with half an hour to an hour to cover transitions and a bad day.
I could wait until next year, and start all over again. Or I could build on what I've already started. Hmm.