Monthly Archives: August 2009

Running sucks

Okay, I guess it doesn’t really, but I certainly seem to suck at it. I can ride a century on my bike, but running for a few hours hurts — a lot. I let one of my friends talk me into signing up for the Disneyland Half Marathon, so I’ve been training at running for a bit.

The 10K I ran this past Saturday was supposed to be my last long distance run prior to the half marathon, but I felt good tonight so I decided to run around the marina. Then I got the idea of running around the marina and on the way back running each of the streets that project into the marina as well. That totals 11.6 miles per Google Maps, and I finished in about 2:02 (I wasn’t timing, so that’s based on the playlists I went through). Not exactly the sub-two hours half-marathon I was looking for, but it will have to do. Here’s a picture of the route, linked to a map:

That's a long way.

That's a long way.

Tired now. Going to sleep.


Google, get out of my head!

Google is testing a new search algorithm/server configuration code named caffeine. It’s supposed to be faster, more relevant, and more real-time. The first two characteristics are presumably intended to counteract Bing, the last to counteract Twitter. You can test caffeine here.

Tonight something happened that makes me wonder if Google isn’t testing caffeine on their main site as well. I watched the trailer for Legion. It’s fantasy movie about god losing his faith in humans and sending the angels either to end us, or bring about armageddon — the description says one, the trailer seems to indicate the other. The focus of the action is a small group of isolated people, defended by the angel Michael (who my wife tells me is the angel of war, so the filmmakers got their mythology right, which I appreciate).

The trailer reminded me of a much more low-budget film from back in the nineties. In that film as well there was a small group of isolated people defending themselves against an angel. I wanted to check to see just how similar the plots were. I couldn’t remember the title, but I remembered that Christopher Walken was in that film. So in Safari’s search box I entered two words: imdb walken.

The first link returned was the imdb page for Christopher Walken — nice job, Google, but no less than I expected. But as I clicked that link I noticed the second link returned: IMDb: The Prophecy (1995). Christopher Walken has over a hundred credits on IMDB, including such major motion pictures as Catch Me If You Can and Wedding Crashers— both much more popular films than The Prophecy.

The trailer for Legion has only been out for a few days. So was it chance? Or am I not the only one who thought of this and searched for The Prophecy based on remembering Christopher Walken? That’s some crazy search mojo if it’s not just happenstance. You can try the search yourself if you like, and post the results.

Cholesterol Update — Low carb plus exercise = good health

In November 2008 I started an experiment on my body. I significantly reduced my carbohydrate intake (no formal diet, just focusing on not eating high-carb foods), which resulted in a measurable  improvement in my overall cholesterol, and a large improvement in my HDL (the good cholesterol). It also peeled 35 pounds off me, without even thinking about it.

My last cholesterol check was January 2009. My total was 175, with HDL 50. Since then I’ve been bicycling long distance, but not too many times, and running a bit. We had a health screening at work today, and as much as I love pasta, I think I’m done with it:

  • Cholesterol: 152
  • HDL: 50
  • Triglycerides: 102
  • Blood pressure: 104/63
  • Body fat percentage: 10.7

That gives me an HDL ratio of 3, when the goal is to be under 5 and excellent is under 3.5, so I can’t complain there.

The blood pressure is good. My blood pressure was 100/60 when I was twenty so that’s about as good as I can hope for. Right after I changed my diet my blood pressure tested at about 130/75, so I was concerned that the diet change was causing that, but it seems to have corrected itself.

The body fat is puzzling. My scale at home says 20%. 10.7% is really low. I’m going to ask them to do it again.

EDIT: I had them test a second time, with a second instrument, and the result was the same. I checked with many other people at the office, and all the readings people received seemed reasonable, so I have to think that 10.7 is close to accurate. Given that, I’m really pleased. Losing weight wasn’t the original goal, but when I thought I was stuck at 20% body fat I wondered why. Now I don’t have to wonder, since 10.7% body fat is about as low as you can expect without extreme measures.

The Diet

For anyone who’s interested in the diet, it’s basically low carb, but with no set rules. Other than a bite or two now and then, I don’t eat any rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, or sugary drinks (soda or fruit juice). I don’t have Instant Breakfast or Ovaltine for breakfast anymore (I really miss that). I eat limited amounts of things like beans and chips.

I significantly increased my consumption of nuts, and I generally have an apple and peanut butter for breakfast. I eat more salads. I switched back to whole milk (lower ratio of carbohydrate calories). I eat more meat, but not that much. I eat more eggs.

I eat enough of the low carb foods that I’m not often hungry, so it’s not that hard to keep with it. The first month was a little rough, since  new foods felt strange in my stomach, but that went away and now it’s pretty easy. I just need to make sure I have enough of the right foods on hand.

Age Puzzle Solution

If you haven’t already, take a look at my birthday puzzle. Be sure not to look at the comments if you want to solve it. Likewise the rest of this post.


Answer below.

Okay, now that it’s just you and me, consider this figure:


I’ve marked each of the pairs of vertical lines that are just one unit apart with the numbers 1 through 4. I’ve marked each of the pairs of horizontal lines that are one unit apart with the letters A through C.

Now, anywhere that the marked horizontal lines intersect the marked vertical lines, a unit square is the result. So since there are 4 sets of vertical lines and 3 sets of horizontal lines, they should produce exactly 4 * 3 or 12 unit squares. A quick count shows that’s correct.

Rather than counting all the squares by hand, it’s much simpler to count the gaps between the horizontal and vertical lines, and work from there.

There are 3 vertical gaps that are 2 units wide, and 4 horizontal gaps that are 2 units tall. So for 2×2 squares you know that there are 3 * 4 = 12 squares.

There are 3 vertical gaps that are 3 units wide, and 2 horizontal gaps that are 3 units tall. So there are 3 * 2 = 6 squares that are three units on a side.

This continues up to the 2 * 2 = 4 four unit squares, the 2 * 3 = 6 five unit squares, the 3 * 1 = 3 six unit squares, and the 3 * 1 = 3 seven unit squares.

Therefore the total is 12 + 12 + 6 + 4 + 6 + 3 + 3 = 46.

This method applies to the Window Pain puzzle at the U.S. Puzzle championship as well (on which this puzzle was based).