Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bike Maintence

Bike Maintenance is important, and something I don't do enough of!

I'll keep track of some useful links for myself here!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

My Personal Fitness Journey

  In 2007 when I graduated from college, I had ballooned up to 210lbs.  After getting a job offer out of college, I signed up for a starting month of September, and took my summer off to go sailing on the Kalmar Nyckel as a part of their sail training program.  

2007 at around 210 lbs
  I volunteered on the Nyckel, I really wanted to be a Tomman on the ship, which means that you get to climb aloft and work on the sails and the rigging.  To qualify to be able to climb on the ship, you had to be able to do three pull-ups, on a rope! 

  I could only do about half a pull-up, being a weak, freshly graduated computer engineer who spent entirely to much time sitting on my butt, eating takeout/freezer meals who had no upper body strength!    To reach my goal I had to train and train!  I did 'reverse pull-ups' where I would jump up and go though the pull-up up motion in reverse as slow and controlled as I could.  Combine literally 'hanging around' as much as I could along with the natural progression of hauling lines each day, my strength quickly grew until I could finally eek out my 3rd rope pull-up.  

  After I had reached that goal, I was allowed to go aloft!  Climbing up and down the rigging every day to loose and stow sails, I quickly progressed to 4,6, 8 and eventually 10 pull-ups!  At my best, I was down to 175lbs and was in the best shape that I'd been since Junior year in highschool.  

About 180lbs on the Kalmar Nyckel
Life went on, summer was over and my job started up.  I still went down to the ship almost every weekend for a few years.  I slowly began gaining weight as I ate out frequently and became more sedentary.  Even though I was going down to the ship just about every weekend, my trips down were full of stops at gas stations for meals and lots of other processed junk food.    

In August 2009 I went sailing on the East Indiaman Götheborg.  I was still fairly ship-shape, but looking back I can tell I was starting to put on some weight!

At some point in 2010/2011, While doing my (at the time) daily wii-fit workout and weigh in, it told me I was obese.   Not overweight, but obese!  I was in disbelief!  I didn't feel like I was THAT out of shape.  I realized that I needed to make a change.  I didn't want to 'lose weight', I wanted to get in shape and healthy.  

Christmas 2010, near my peak weight of 217.

I (and my now wife) were planning to get married in 2012.  I wanted to get into shape for our wedding/honeymoon.  When we would eat out, instead of eating my entree and finishing hers, we would get a single entree and split it.  She helped me get my portion sizes under control, and began cooking more foods from scratch instead of us relying on as much processed food. 

I managed to get down to about 185~195 for the wedding.  Honeymoon was great (Amazing SCUBA diving!) and then life continued on.  I was inspired to start bike commuting to work when I discovered Mr Money Mustache.  
My Daily Driver!

Around March of 2013, I started my bike commute to work.  It was 5.5 miles each way, and for about two weeks.... it sucked.  I was sore, it was still pretty cold out, and I was still working out the whole 'what to wear' process.  I started out wearing wool layers under the clothes I was wearing to work, but chain grease and the occasional time my pants cuff would catch in the chain.   I then switched to bringing my clothes in a bag on my back and changing at work.  I evolved into keeping clothes at work so I didn't need to carry them with me every day. 

Road work started on my route to work, and my trip went from 5.5 miles each way to 8 miles each way.  For the first two weeks.... it sucked again, it was hard.  But I adapted... I got stronger and faster, and continued to drop more weight.  Sometime around September 2013 we took part in a local Color Run, and I was down to the lowest weight I had ever been, at 147lbs.  

  Ever since then, I have been doing pretty well at keeping healthy, thanks to the constant support of my wonderful wife.  I always end up swinging up after the holidays.  I usually end up at about around 155 before Christmas, and after I'm around 165.  Having the holiday off from work means I don't have my daily commute for 3~4 weeks, and there is a LOT of food and sweets available.

Anyone can do it.  It takes a routine so you don't have to make decisions every day.  It takes a support structure, it takes hard work, and being cognizant of what you are eating.  You WILL backslide if you are not careful, but you have to know that it's not about your failures, it's about how you handle them!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thoughts on podcasts...

Did you ever feel stuck in a rut? I sure did!

In 2012, I  realized I was not growing at my job.  I had been there for 5 years, but I felt like I had 5 first years of experience.   My skills were atrophying and I was not growing as a programmer. I was also putting on a bit of weight (Up to 220 lbs). 

No one was going to help me improve but me, so I decided to get both my coding knowledge and my body into shape.   I started riding to work (5.5 miles each way) and listening to podcasts while I was riding.  I also began tracking down a bunch of technical blogs  and adding them to my Google Reader.

It was difficult to track down technical podcasts that had useful information for me at my particular point in my journey; Computer Engineering grad, 5 years of dev experience with Java, just discovered TDD. I had been mostly listening to NPR's Radiolab.  

I eventually stumbled onto Ruby Rogues.  I listened to a few episodes that seemed to have language agnostic topics... This began to open my eyes to some of the current state of the art ideas that I had been missing.  Eventually, I just started listening to all of the episodes, and then stumbled onto JavaScript Jabber. Similar layout, some more relevant things (I have done a bit of JavaScript at my job).  

I had been following Alan Ashcraft's Morning Dew Drop, where I found several podcasts that were starting to pique my interest... (The Changelog, Walled Garden Weekly), but eventually saw a link to  This was a great podcast... focused on fitness for programmers, exactly what I needed!  Though listening to getupandcode, I saw that John Sonmez compiled The Ultimate List of Developer Podcasts and found a few more on there!  

I had found SoftwareEngineering Radio, but the episodes were very long and mostly didn't keep my attention.  I stumbled onto Java Posse.  This podcast seemed like the best overall fit for what I had been looking for - Java specific practices and concepts, enterprise focus, and not to dry!  I heard them talking about Puppet, Chef, and other DevOps concepts and thought it sounded like a pretty amazing place to be.  I eventually found some references to some DevOps concepts, and found DevOps Mastery and DevOps Cafe

While bouncing around between podcasts, I heard Saron on RubyRogues, and that she was starting up a site/twitter chat/podcast called CodeNewbie.... only one problem, I didn't have Twitter!  I started up a twitter account, and began participating in the twitter chat.  

Though the CodeNewbie shoutouts, I found another very interesting podcast.... This Developer's Life.  Like all podcasts, I listened to an episode, liked it, and started back from the beginning. 

Where does that leave me now?  I've started this blog, and I've been bothering my co-workers over and over with all of the interesting things that I've been exposing myself to.  I figured I would try to start putting up posts about individual episodes... either going back and re-listening to some that really stood out, or just commenting on new ones as they air.   

What did I gain from all of my podcast listening?  I've been exposed to all kinds of 'state of the art' ideas and tech, I had someething to do on my bike commute (which brought me down to ~155 lbs), and it helped me rediscover my desire to learn new things!  What it DIDN'T do was help me get any side projects done really leveraging these new ideas and tools that I was hearing about!  Hearing is no replacement for doing, so I'm going to try to do some more hands-on diving into frameworks and languages. 

Are there any podcasts that you enjoy listening to?  Leave a note below!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Obligatory first post

Hello everyone!

I've finally decided to start a blog.  Here I'll be mostly posting about fun and useful links from around the web that I've stumbled onto, and that I'd like to share.  I'll try to add some basic commentary, but mostly it is a collection for myself that I hope others will find useful.

I'm a software developer who has spent lots of time as a 'Dark Matter' developer, and am working on doing some self improvement on the side.  Working on learning new frameworks, and doing a bit of RaspberryPi/Arduino based hardware hacking.

I've recently found the amazing community at, I recently joined Twitter @ and I'm hoping to see amazing ideas across the web.