Working on Waking Up – a 30 day challenge

October 31st, 2011

After years of struggling with early mornings I’m going to try something a bit drastic. For 30 days I’m going to wake up at 6:30. I haven’t decided yet if this will include weekends. My initial thought is to allow for moderate sleeping in but not my usual 11am/noon hibernation that often happens.

Today was day 1, and I woke up at 6:45 then snoozed to 6:50 before getting up. Not bad, but I’ve realized I need to be up by 6:30 to make the morning routine not feel rushed.

More to come as the challenge continues.

Live from the Nexus S

December 18th, 2010

I got my hands on a Nexus S today. After having a Nexus One and Droid for the last year (plus a fling with the Evo) I have to say this is a mighty impressive phone.

Major likes
Screen is phenomenal. I really liked the Nexus One for its rich colors, but it almost appears dingy in comparison.

Additionally, the oleophobic coating keeps the screen looking clean.

The subtle haptic feedback. It feels crisper and nicer that other Android phones I’ve used. Not sure how it compares to other Samsung devices.

Speed. The Nexus S is running great. Everything is nice and smooth as it should be.

Dislikes
I don’t like the power button on the side or the headphone jack on the bottom. I’ll probably get used to these.

There isn’t a notification light.  No notification light means I have to check my phone more often. As a personal choice I don’t have email notifications turned on, but other notifiers are pretty important like text messages.

Those are my first impressions having spent about 12 hours with the phone. Overall, I feel it’s a winner over my Nexus One, but time will tell.  And yes, I authored this whole post from the Nexus S.

Creating a new Google Doc from a Bookmark (or Quick Search Box)

April 13th, 2010

For a long time now (pretty much as long as I’ve been at Google) I’ve been a heavy user of Google Docs. One of my favorite tricks is that I have a bookmark to create a new document. I click the bookmark and was taken to a brand new document. This is a great little time saver, so add: https://docs.google.com/MiscCommands?command=newdoc&redirectToDocument=true, if you want to do the same.

Yesterday, Google released an update to the Google Docs editor. If you haven’t had a chance to use it yet, I’d encourage you to give it a shot. The new real-time collaboration and commenting systems make collaborative document-creation so much better. Well, my bookmark broke. In truth, it didn’t break, it just created a document using the old editor. But what if you want the new hotness?

Add the following to your bookmarks: https://docs.google.com/document. And voila!

Creating a new Google Doc from Quick Search Box

The other thing I wanted to do was to make this accessible without being in the browser. So I thought of how I could Quick Search Box to do this. QSB can index bookmarks from Firefox and Safari, but it can’t index Google Chrome bookmarks just yet (go figure). So, I fired up Safari, added a bookmark, and voila. Just one day later, an update to QSB came out that lets it index Chrome and Chromium bookmarks. This intermediate step is no longer required. Huzzah.

Creating a new Google Doc with Quick Search Box

New Google Doc from QSB

Hope this helps you save a little bit of time in your day.

Sprained

March 23rd, 2010

Trampolines are awesome

Dodgeball is awesome

So why not combine them for something truly amazing?

TRAMPOLINE DODGEBALL

Sprained ankles, that’s why.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of heading to Skyhigh Sports for an awesome work offsite. I had been to Skyhigh a number of times both for work and for pleasure. I even threw a birthday party for my girlfriend there. This last time though I managed to really injure myself, though not while playing dodgeball.

I was innocently bouncing with a friend on a trampoline. This turned into a bit of the ever dangerous double-bouncing, but we were keeping it tame. Then it happened, I came down just he had jumped. The trampoline was still sunken from his jump. My ankle landed, compensated for the sunken trampoline and then continued to completely roll over itself.

And that was the last time I would walk for almost a week. Two weeks later I still have pain. This is by far the worst sprain I’ve had. I even went to the ER, where I thankfully found out that nothing was broken. In a weird twist of karma, the friend who took me to the hospital got appendicitis three days later and also found herself in a hospital.

Dealing with it

While laying on the ground at Skyhigh clutching a bag of ice to my ankle I knew I’d be out of commission for some time. I knew this wasn’t a sprain I could just walk off. Two days earlier I was achieving new personal bests in overhead press and sumo deadlift, and now I was realizing that I wouldn’t be lifting anything for a couple weeks (and what now looks like a month). Topping it all off was that I had planned to begin my running training that weekend for the Bay to Breakers race in May.

So how did I deal with it?

I knew this was a bad sprain so I had a doctor look at it. I know there’s a temptation to be macho and just deal with it. I’m really glad I had someone look at it. He did a 30 second test and knew that I needed an x-ray. Thankfully, the x-ray showed no breakage.

The other trick with any sprain is RICE – Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Stay off the ankle as much as possible. Ice it 20 minutes at a time. Compress using an ACE bandage, and elevate the ankle above your heart when possible. All of these can help reduce swelling and improve the healing process.

I’m also a big proponent of using your sprained ankle. After a day or two (or more depending on your sprain) I’ve seen improvements in sprained ankle by walking. Walking helps with circulation and provides vital nutrients to improve recovery. You should expect some pain during this, but it shouldn’t be agonizing. If it is, stay off it for another day at least. Overdoing it will not help your ankle heal.

Not being able to exercise for the last two weeks had me concerned about my weight. While I’m certainly losing some muscle mass, I’ve managed to avoid weight gain by keeping to my slow carb diet. In fact, I’m closer to my goal of 200 pounds than ever. The other benefits of exercise are sorely missed though. I’m finding my energy level to be lower than usual and I’m having trouble focusing for long periods of time. Two areas that I know exercise helps with.

The lesson in all this is to be safe on the trampolines. Despite the injury, I hope to play trampoline dodgeball again soon.

2010 Goals Update

January 20th, 2010

In this blog’s inaugural post, I gave myself some goals. Here’s what they were:

Goals for January 2010:

  • Drop the holiday weight
  • Increase my lifts
    • Squat – 245
    • Bench – 200
    • Overhead – 135
    • Deadlift – 250
  • Be able to run 8 miles again
  • Move into my new home
  • Meditate three times a week

I’m tracking well against these goals, but I’m definitely a little concerned with only 11 days left in January. My most important goal, which was to drop the weight, has been going great though. I’m down to 212 from 219. I imagine within the next week I’ll drop to 210, and hopefully more weight will come off as I continue. As for the lifting, well, I’m getting there, but the goals I set were big. On squats, I managed to do 5 sets of 5 reps of 225 pounds. Given that I feel that I could squat 245 for 1 rep, but I won’t make that attempt until closer to the end of the month. For bench, I’m comfortably benching 175 also 5×5, and made my first attempt at 185 pounds.  Next week, I’ll try for a full 5 sets at 185. Again, I think I’ll be very close to doing 1 rep of 200.

This all sounds like it’s going great, so why the concern? Well my overheads are pretty much stalled around 110 and I haven’t deadlifted since catching the flu in November. To top it off, between being sick and travel, I’m not going to get any lifting in this week. I’m confident that I’ll be able to get close to these goals, but I’m uncertain if I can meet them at this point. We’ll see.

Well then, “How’s the running going?”, you ask. I went for my first run in months last weekend and managed a nice two miles. My next run, I’ll shoot for 4, and then go for 8. However, given the torrential rain fall and my big move happening this Sunday, I’m dubious about my chances of getting two runs in before the month ends. I did, however, sign up for the Bay to Breakers in May. I also put myself in the 9-minute mile corral. It’ll be my third year running the Bay to Breakers. The first year I did it was my first experience with actually running, and the experience jump-started me into running two half-marathons. This year, my goal is to run 7.62 mile race in 75 minutes or less, essentially under 10 minute miles. I’ve never been able to maintain a sub-10-minute mile pace for more than 4 miles, so this will be a big jump, but something I believe to be within my reach.

My move is also going well. I’ve got the keys to my new home, which is a mere two blocks from my old one. I’m about one third through packing, and the movers are coming on Sunday. Saturday will most assuredly be spent packing, but I’m comfortable with the impending move. All the other pieces of the move are in place as well.

So out of these, the only goal I’ve really flubbed is to meditate three days a week. I haven’t meditated at all in 2010. I still believe in the value of meditation, so I will keep this on my list and hope that I can pick it up again. Maybe in February or after my move I will make progress towards this goal.

Overall, I’m pleased with my progress here, and think that monthly, public goal setting is a viable technique for achieving a goal. Tomorrow, I’m heading off to Seattle where I’ll be speaking at Avvocating, a technology conference for lawyers. It’s my first speaking engagement of the year. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll talk about it when I get back.

Until then, enjoy a picture of a rainbow from yesterday’s storm

If you look closely, you'll see the rainbow is coming out of the goal

Cooking breakfast

January 7th, 2010
image

2 eggs, spinach, clementine

Many people think that making breakfast us a huge undertaking. They resign themselves to eating cereal or some kind of on-the-go meal. Meh. I’m a huge fan of hot breakfast and I love to cook. Additionally, since I’m doing the slow carb diet most breakfast food (bagels, cereal, toast, juice) doesn’t work.

I have found that you can make, eat, and clean up an excellent breakfast in a little more than 10 minutes. My traditional breakfast is 2 eggs over medium, some cooked spinach, and a clementine. The eggs are topped with salt & pepper and my favorite hot sauce Tears of Joy’s August in Austin.

Here’s my method:

  1. Put skillet on burner under medium heat and turn on oven (10 seconds)
  2. Put a plate in the oven to warm it up (cold plate + hot breakfast = luke-warm breakfast) (5 seconds)
  3. Grab ingredients (2 eggs, hot sauce, precut piece of butter, precut frozen block of spinach, clementine) (45 seconds)
  4. Throw pat of butter on the skillet, put spinach in a bowl and put in microwave for 1 minute (45 seconds)
  5. Crack eggs into pan, once they set, add salt & pepper, turn off the oven (1 minute)
  6. Stir spinach, add a dash of garlic, microwave for 30 seconds (30 seconds)
  7. Flip the eggs (10 seconds once you practice)
  8. Peel the clementine (30 seconds)
  9. Flip the eggs again (5 seconds)
  10. Pull plate out of oven, plate eggs, spinach, clementine (45 seconds)

Total time: 5 minutes to cook

Eating and clean up take up the other 5 minutes. Enjoy your breakfast.

Starting 2010 right

January 7th, 2010

Today was my first day in the office of the year. My last day being December 18th. I’ve spent the last two weeks with my family in various parts of the country. First a week in Bronxville, NY with my brother and his family for Christmas, and then a week in New Orleans with my parents.

Coming into this trip I knew I wouldn’t have much of a chance to exercise. I also knew that I would be eating very well and, as is the case in my family, drinking a lot. Gaining weight over the holiday would pretty much be unavoidable so I gave myself a threshold. I allotted myself 10 pounds of holiday weight gain.

Well between baking cookies with the kids, po’boys at Parkway (who by the way has the most unnecessarily long domain name ever), beignets in the quarter, and *cough* two bottles of wine a night, I almost achieved my goal. I ended the trip at 219 pounds, 9 pounds more than when I left.

Returning to California I have given myself the goal to remove that weight by the end of January. I suppose it’s more of a deadline.

Resolutionaries Invade

Since I first started going to the gym in November 2006 (losing 35 pounds), I’ve held onto the workout habit. Over the years, I’ve noticed patterns amongst my fellow gym-goers. One of my personal favorites is the onslaught people trying to “start the year right.” These “resolutionaries” descend on the gym, mostly taking up the ellipticals and treadmills.

During the first few weeks of January, especially Mondays, the gym is slammed. But it doesn’t take long for that resolute determination to fade. Beginning a workout regimen is a great tax on the body and most people don’t realize, or remember as the case might be, how long the body needs to adapt to the new stress. Whether it be by over-training, injury, or the simple, “I don’t feel like it,” these folks burn out and within weeks the gym is again left to the dedicated. It’s fascinating to watch, but also a bit sad to see so few people carry on with the exercise habit. I’m a firm believer that you can’t be at your best mentally if you don’t take care of yourself physically.

How I’ll drop 10 pounds

Really the key to weight loss for me has been consistent workouts and watching what I eat. So I’ll be shooting for 3 strength training workouts a week (with a minimum of 2 unless I’m travelling). Running, which I took a break from in the late part of last year, will again become part of my week. I like to run 5-11 miles on Sundays.

Lastly I’ll be working on my diet. The last time I had lunch with Tim Ferriss he strongly encouraged me to try the slow carb diet that he detailed on his blog. It’s a very manageable diet, so I’ll try to continue with it through January. An added benefit of this diet is that you can enjoy your favorite carby foods (burritos, pasta, pizza) after a workout. In a way, it’s more incentive to hit the gym hard.

I’ll be detailing my progress throughout the month. There’s a couple other habits (one of which is writing on this site) I’m trying to pick up as the year starts and I’ll talk about those in future posts.

Goals for January 2010:

  • Drop the holiday weight
  • Increase my lifts
    • Squat – 245
    • Bench – 200
    • Overhead – 135
    • Deadlift – 250
  • Be able to run 8 miles again
  • Move into my new home
  • Meditate three times a week

Looking forward to a great 2010