Monday, July 31, 2006

Sticks and stones won't break my bones...

but crashing my bike apparently will.

I hit a large pothole yesterday about ten miles into a ride, did an endo, and crashed hard. Fixed my bike and rode home. My right elbow got progressively more painful until a friend dragged me to the ER. Looks like I broke it, though not badly. It's in a splint now, awaiting an appointment with the orthopedist.

<whine>I can barely type code. I can't play guitar. I can't lift. And I'm going to miss RSVP this weekend because I can't ride. </whine>

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Richard III

This past Friday my friend Amber and I went to see the Intiman Theatre's production of Shakespeare's Richard III. The performance was impressive. Nearly all of the actors and actresses were superb, the drums were thoughtfully arranged and played, and the set was well-designed. Above all, I was struck by how well the Intiman writers reduced a five-act play to approximately 2 1/2 hours without causing the play to feel particularly abridged.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Flying Wheels 2006

I just rode Cascade Bicycle Club's Flying Wheels Summer Century for the second year. The route was as beautiful as I remember, meandering up and down hills through Sammamish, Duval, Snohomish, Carnation, and probably a couple of other towns I can't recall.

I was pleasantly surprised that, with the exception of a little ITB strain I sustained about twenty miles from the finish line, I really didn't feel like I had ridden a hundred miles. I also didn't subject myself to massive Clif Bar intake - I ate a bagel with lox and a shmear before the ride, had a tomato and mozzarella sandwich at the forty-mile mark, and downed just one bar down the home stretch. My body seems happier with me today than it did a year ago.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Books Everyone With a Job Should Read

The short list now includes:
  • Peter Drucker: The Effective Executive

  • For knowledge work, DeMarco and Lister: Peopleware

  • New on the list: Buckingham and Coffman: First, Break All the Rules
I'll be posting my notes on all these works shortly.

yes, I'm alive

Due to popular demand, I'll start being more regular about writing. :) I might as well start with recent events.

Trip to California
Just before I started my new job in March (with a different team at Amazon), I took a week off and spent a few days in LA. One of my closest friends, Dan, is a dental school student at UCLA, and another good friend, Regan, works in the Irvine area for an insurance company. I had a really good time catching up with them, and discovered a part of LA I actually liked (the area around the campus). Highlights included
  • hitting Santa Monica with Dan, who played "All I Wanna Do" on the stereo as we drove down Santa Monica Blvd.

  • driving to Pasadena at breakneck speed for drinks with Dan and Regan in Regan's modded A4, with Jay-Z and Linkin Park providing the soundtrack

  • walking down the red carpet just before the Oscars

  • finding out that Dan is seriously rocking dental school, and Regan's doing quite well himself

I bought a Tag Heuer Carrera on a bit of a whim.

Trip to Portland
I spent a fantastic weekend in Portland that took off about two months of stress. It started with a train ride down on Saturday morning, and ended with a return trip Sunday afternoon.
  • The train ride down was on the Coast Starlight, which runs from Vancouver to LA. I sat in the observation car on the double-decker train - the car had bay windows, the weather was gorgeous, and I was grooving to everything from John Fogerty to Elvis on my iPod. As a bonus, these guys from "Trails and Rails" would occasionally point out sites and give the history behind them.

  • The Fifth Avenue Suites Hotel, where I stayed, had extremely friendly staff whom I immediately hit it off with. Keegan, Meaghan, and Lucy, among others, were terrific. The hotel does a really great wine reception every evening as well, with guests socializing in a way I've rarely seen in Seattle. Upon entering my room I found a teddy bear on the bed - the hotel used to be a department store, the store's mascot was the cinnamon bear, and this is their way of keeping history alive - very cool. At the end of my stay the bear looked sad, so I brought him back with me - he seemed happy about that. :)

  • I met a lot of great people in general. While eating a sandwich outside the Pearl Bakery I met this guy and his dog, and we hug out and shot the breeze for awhile. At dinner at the Heathman I had a great time talking with my waitress. And so on.

  • Saturday was prom night. It was extremely amusing to see hordes of girls in black dresses taking over the sidewalks.

  • After dinner Saturday I hit the 20-odd floor restaurant at the Hilton for dessert, and downed a chocolate souffle and ruby port while looking out at the city from the windows on three sides. Then suddenly a fireworks display ensued (possibly since it was the day before Mother's Day). While leaving the restaurant I encountered a great jazz performance in the lounge, and left to a beautiful smile from the singer.

  • Sunday I met Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles and toured his shop. The man does AMAZING work. I'm now in line, and about two years from now should be a proud Vanilla owner.

Trip to NYC
Just a week ago I took a last-minute flight to NYC, arriving Friday night at midnight and leaving Sunday morning at 8 AM. I stayed with my friend Christina at her "crib" by Gramercy Park, and it was great to catch up with her - we had a late dinner and drinks after I arrived, joined some folks for a ridiculously rich brunch the next day, had coffee at 9th St. Espresso that afternoon, and then ate at a fantastic Italian restaurant that's apparently one of the top five in the city. My folks drove up from NJ and met us for coffee, which was really nice since I don't get to see them very often. Saturday night I headed to the Katwalk Bar and Lounge for my ten-year summer school reunion (yes, you read that correctly), and was psyched to meet up with Sofia, Charlie, Brad, Kjell, Howard, Brooke, and others I had lost touch with since Harvard '96. It turns out that Charlie has become a very accomplished comedian, and we got to see him perform with Upright Citizens Brigade. After that we ended up at a wine bar, and then Kjell took me to a bar where we drank until the 4 AM close. At that point I headed back to Christina's, hung out with her on the couch in a stupor, and then caught a cab to the airport. What a weekend!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New Gig

Three and a half weeks ago I started in a new position at Amazon. Our team is building a really cool and rather ambitious system for a supply chain/logistics management problem - I can't disclose any more information than that, but suffice to say I'm excited. So far I've done our high-level system architecture, nearly completed our initial data model, and started getting my head around our mathematical problems. It's been great to hit the ground running - I don't think I've ever come out of the gate quite like this before.

On the other hand, my personal interests have been slipping. In particular, I've been spending very little time with my guitar, which needs to change soon. I _am_ starting to get back into cycling, and need to take this pretty seriously as I've entered the lottery for RAMROD this year.

While I'm writing, I should mention that I read a fascinating book recently. It's "Notes on the Synthesis of Form", by Christopher Alexander - the book is about designing forms to fit complex requirements, and it's absolutely brilliant. It's timeless and quite universal as well - what Alexander wrote forty years ago is extremely true of software design today, and for that matter even applies to musical composition. It's also a quick read, so stop reading my crap and pick it up.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"For My Active Lifestyle"

Seeing as I probably own myriad consumer goods intended for "the man with an active lifestyle", I figured it was about time I started taking care of myself.

Historically I've been pretty good about lifting weights, and this past spring, summer, and fall I consistently rode my bike. But lately I've been slacking on physical activity, working extremely long hours, and eating poorly, which I have a feeling is why I've been getting sick a lot. But no more.

I got back into the gym today, and it felt great. I was also disciplined about my eating, starting with a multivitamin and the granola/yogurt/fruit cup from Specialties that kicked off my day (at, err, noon). I'm going to start commuting on my bike again. And I even bought nuts and fruit to snack on at work, to avoid the otherwise inevitable afternoon cookie urge.

Don't get me wrong, I'm probably still going to eat something every day that's bad for me, and I'm still going to be eating out a lot. But I'll be more conscious to get calories from whole grains, protein without saturated fat, and to eat more fruits and veggies every day.