A more serious approach to getting in shape

For the past couple of years I’ve been struggling to get back into shape.  Not that I was ever the picture of Adonis, I have over the years taken to mountain biking, backcountry skiing, rock climbing and even running.  But not recently.  A series of injuries, nagging colds and rich foods and drink have taken their tolls.

A few months ago, the last of my symptoms finally gone, I decided to get a little more serious about getting in shape.  For the first time in a LONG time, I went to a gym.  I joined a gym.  I chose 24 hour fitness because of their proximity to work (and home) and their cheap price.

I was only slightly familiar with the equipment in the gym, and it took me a few sessions to feel comfortable, each time branching out to try out a larger variety of the items provided.  But I kept to the basics (lower weight, multiple reps) and split the workouts between cardio and weights.

This went along just fine, but I quickly saw the need for a little record keeping.  I’ve found that tracking progress in itself can be a good motivator – and in particular, when dealing in unfamiliar terrain.  Seeing how new I was to the world of weights and heartrates and calories, I felt that keeping track would help me understand the benefits of what I was doing.

I did a little searching around and eventually came upon the site Daily Burn.  This site allows you to track your workouts, caloric intake, and weight.  The interface is pretty straigt forward and allows one to easily enter data and view reports, which I like.  The database of activities and foods is pretty comprehensive, though this (as in many of the sites that I checked out) is definitely one of the weaknesses.  Specifically, I find myself constantly having to *fudge* the food that I’m eating as their database is better aligned to pre-packaged foods rather than freshly-cooked.  I do find the numbers to be good enough for my purposes though.  It gives me a rough idea of the calories (and other nutritional factors) of the food I’m eating and allows me to check out different kinds of foods to better understand some of the choices I could be making.

So just today in the Wired news feed I see this article (with the included sidebars) talking about how Nike’s ipod-integrated tracking system has been a big success.  To me it’s no surprise.

Buying fresh vs. freezing

I’ve never been a member of Costco – I’ve lived in smaller apartments since going to college and lived alone for many of those years and have never had the space or need to buy in bulk.

Additionally, I’ve wondered about the cost-effectiveness of buying such mass quantities (at a discount) and then paying for the local storage (in one’s home).  In essence, by buying in smaller quantities, I’m passing on the cost of storage back to the retailers.

In addition to the physical space required to store this stuff, there’s also costs for things like extra large or additional fridges/freezers.  I found this post from Get Rich Slowly to be pretty interesting in two ways:  First, the breakdown of the cost of operating an additional freezer.  Granted, I believe his math is a little flawed (it doesn’t take into account differences when the unit is opened more or less during a period of time nor does it look at seasonal temperature differences (though he live in Portland so these are probably less extreme than in other parts of the country).  A better test would be to monitor the device over a longer period of time.  I was surprised by the overall estimated cost of running the freezer – not that expensive really.  (I won’t get into other considerations when buying in bulk, storage, the quality of frozen vs. fresh or the cost implications of a long-term power outage…)

The operating cost is an interesting piece of data.  Leading me to the second item I found interesting – the energy measurement device that he has – the Kill-a-watt meter.  This is such a great idea.  You plug in your electronic devices and the unit measures the electrical draw.  I’m really intrigued by this and am considering buying one – I tend to be a little geeky that way.

To me (and it’s not just me, I’ve read plenty of others who are saying the same thing) one of the biggest problems we have today with energy conservation is a lack of measurement tools.  Time and again, reading reports of the hybrid electric vehicles you see the authors talking about their energy use.  Yes, this is key to a hybrid car – but it’s also an indication of how easy it is to report on that statistic – these cars make it incredibly easy to see what your consumption is.

It would be really interesting to see what would happen if all of our devices were telling us how much energy they were consuming on a daily basis.  I for one am OK with energy conservation – I unplug some devices when they’re not in use, but even with my $35 monthly utility bill, I know I could shave off more – I wonder how much.

we’ve redesigned so you can get to the good stuff first

Thanks Yahoo!

Thanks for the great redesign, which allows me to get to the “good stuff” first.

Yes, thanks.


I use Yahoo Mail still, for all of my ‘transactional’ emails – when signing up for sites like Twitter, or buying items on sites like B&H Photo.  I don’t want my other email address to get polluted with spam so often associated with publishing your email on the web.

And I still use MyYahoo, though sparingly.  Really, I just use it as a quick means to access my email and stock information with some other content thrown in there in case I miss it in my other browsing.

The problem I have is this: I access my Yahoo Mail through the Mail widget on the MyYahoo page.  That takes me to my inbox, you’d assume.  Well, it doesn’t.  It takes me to this useless page that shows news items (Today’s top stories) as well as a bunch of other crap I couldn’t care less about.  From this page, I then have to click Inbox to see my actual mail.


Isn’t this news stuff already being delivered to MyYahoo?  And look at all of the redundant links to the inbox – why?  Maybe because people want to see their freakin INBOX when they access their mail, and not your “top stories’ or ‘good stuff.’

Who designs this stuff?  At least make it an option for me to control – most users won’t set the option and you’ll still have the opportunity to put your crap in front of them.  But for those of us who will, we’ll be forever appreciative, and maybe even give you some good words.


Last year it was the Olympics.  For a few years there have been celebrations of these early days and months of the millennium .  And I somehow I’ve frittered them all away.

Perhaps this year I should do something different.  I should partake.

A quick google search pulls up a few interesting options:

How about the World day of Interconnectedness?  I’m not exactly sure what they’re calling for, but it sounds like extra touching.

Or there’s the 090909 Festival though that’s in New Zealand – or so I can only guess by the ‘.nz’ web site.  Man it’s amazing how people manage to leave fairly vital information off their websites.

What about the Big Bear 090909 Sexual Energy Activation?  I’m not really sure what that is but it costs $595 and I think it involves sitting Indian-style (can we still call it that?).

Of course there’s the release of ‘Rock Band: The Beatles’ which I guess is somehow tied to world peace and 09-09-09 and video games and perhaps that’s been the meaning of Revolution #9 all along?

I think I’ll keep looking.

Any suggestions?

more uses of twitter: San Francisco Customer Service

Here’s another story about Twitter that isn’t just another celebrity to follow.

The city of San Francisco now allows you to send a message via twitter to their 311 service – a service that allows you to contact the city about a number of things including complaints and inquiries.

What will make this interesting is seeing the data – opening up the data and allowing everyone to see the issues going in and the responses coming back.  This is sunshine government at its best.

Of course the system isn’t quite that open just yet, but one can hope.