Monthly Archives: February 2013

Gone skiiting

Yesterday we took a day off to go skiing or skiiting as Nicholas likes to call it.

He could move forwards and hang on to go downwards.

I am worried because he kept wanting to go off trail… He was so frustrated when I said that the area cordoned off was off limits.

It was a great day at Dodge Ridge.

Week 5 – Aut viam venviam aut facias

Every Thursday morning sucks. Every Thursday I hit this brick wall. I wake up tired. The accumulated stress of workouts and work has almost drained me. And I realize every Thursday that there is four more hours to go …

For those who care by Thursday I’ve:

  1. Sunday: Bike 1:20->1:45
  2. Monday: Run 1h, Swim 40min
  3. Tuesday: Run 1h45
  4. Wednesday: Swim 40min

And then I still have to

  1. Thursday: Run 1h, Swim 40min
  2. Friday: Run 2h

It’s a permanent brick wall that I have to go through. My body is screaming: give up. The exercise has exhausted my brain, my legs and my arms. And I just want to give up.

If you’ve ever worked at a tech start-up you’ve seen this before;

File:Gartner Hype Cycle.svg

My Thursdays are my weekly Trough of Disillusionment about this whole Ironman plan.

And I think to myself another year of these Thursdays and I just want to give up.

And it would be so easy to just quit…

And it doesn’t get easier after I finish my run and swim on Thursday. And it certainly doesn’t get easier on Friday. By Saturday, I’m just wondering what in God’s name was I thinking… This is insane.

And then by Saturday night my body is feeling better. And my energy level starts to kick in…

But on Thursdays, I remember what Hannibal said to his generals:

aut viam venviam aut facias – I’ll either find a way or I’ll make one.

And so I find some way to get through that brick wall

and make it to Sunday where I start this cycle all over again…

Week 4 – Pride cometh before the fall

Christians believe that Lucifer, Satan, is a fallen angel. That his hubris lead him to be cast out of Heaven.  He falls from nice cool heaven, to end up in blistering hellish heat. Given my run today, I felt like I had been sent to some blisteringly hot hell hole..

In many ways, I felt like a fallen angel today. Normally I go for a run in the evenings when it is nice and cool. Today I had to go in the middle of the day. 

This is what I thought I would look like:

Such form, such poise, such speed, such beauty…

I’ve lost weight and I crushed my last long run in awesome time… Today I was going to run with no kid stroller, and I was going to come home in blistering form.  Pride!

But the Good Lord likes to punish pride… and so instead I looked like this:

The problem was that I completely miscalculated how much water I needed to drink. After the first three miles I drank 1/2 of a cup of water. After 6 miles I drank another 1/2 cup of water. Between miles 6 and 9 I was  cramping, unable to move my feet – my cadence was collapsing etc. At mile 9, I drank a cup of water … and then as my body started to recover, I ran into my house and drank …

Not quite … but if I could have I would have. And the last mile and half was actually quite pleasant…

Moral of the story if you want to look great while running in the sun remember this image:

Drink early, drink often.

Week 4 – Eating is hard


One of the biggest challenges when training for a long distance endurance event is eating.

On the one hand there is this myth that you can eat whatever you want. That the world is your oyster. That the entire gamut of edible things are your buffet.

Except – it’s a lie. A damn lie. Why?

Well let’s see,.. Your body is craving calories. And I don’t mean a few calories, but awe-inspiring amounts of calories. For example, my body requires about 4000 calories a day. That’s equivalent to 6 big macs




1 loaf of bread and 1 gallon of whole milk and one big mac…

So on the one hand your body is like GIVE ME FOOD NOW! With such a huge calorie deficit the temptation is to go for the cheap calories… To get the big mac or the cookie dough or the ice-cream. And when you do your body is like:


Except when you go train when you’re body is like WTF? Or you get on the scale and realize that you are putting on weight or ..

And so you swear to not over eat the next day, But now you’re on a frigging yo-yo of a sugar high followed by a sugar crash. And your body KNOWS how good it felt when you gave it the simple sugars and there is no way it’s going to suffer through the salad and the nuts and the chicken, no way.

And this can go on for weeks. And it takes this superhuman effort of will to get back on the balanced plan.

And so you have a super bowl party with your friends and you gorge on the cheese and the bread and the sweets, and you’re like: This feels good. And you can’t stop eating these simple processed carbohydrates.  Until finally your wife hands you a healthy meal and you realize that this feels so much better.

It’s like going on a drinking binge and then going sober.

Every hour of every day you’re in this constant war with your body that just wants to eat high calorie foods to make the hunger go away while you have to teach your body patience and the virtue of eating a lot of the good stuff because the high calorie stuff is just a quick fix that goes bad fast.

So no, eating while training for an endurance event is not fun. It’s this never-ending war with a body that just wants the hunger to go away.

A day at the farmer’s market

My son and I go to the farmer’s market in mountain view every Sunday.

We’ve been doing it since he was barely three months old.

In many ways it was the first father and son only activities.

Nicholas loves the trains and the treats but mostly the trains. His exuberant outbursts of the train the train remind me of Fantasy Island and the plane the plane .

The picture I took shows his absolute concentration on the train..

He has his own friends here. The apple folks from Rainbow Orchards and the Russian deli dude. And since he has been coming so regularly people have seen him grow up… Just as I have…

Microsoft Surface RT – Review

Thanks to the awesomeness of working for Zynga, I was able to get a Microsoft Surface RT as a loaner.

I used to be a huge fan of Microsoft products until one fine afternoon a virus struck. Right in the middle of a huge ops crisis with me frantically trying to get control of an errant set of web servers, some virus took control of my machine. Frustrated, I came into work the next day and said “Give me a Mac”.

After that 3 year experiment, I am moving back. Mostly because I found myself using a UNIX box disguised as a Mac instead of a Mac. The original Mac experience was nice because shit just worked. But now, after many years of customization I have basically replaced every single piece of Mac software with some downloaded application. And now I am dealing with the incredibly complicated configuration system that is UNIX. For me, the promise of the mac of was a simpler easier to use more robust system and that is no longer true. Therefore, I might as well use a device I am more comfortable using. More concerning is that the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, views me as an uninteresting customer, preferring to sell tablets instead of making great laptop/desktop software..

So …

The Microsoft Surface RT is an interesting piece of hardware.


The form factor is unlike every other tablet. Following in the foot steps of Steve Jobs, the Android community makes Apple knock-offs. Microsoft chose to go different. The tablet screen is much longer than an iPad and much narrower. At first it was off-putting but it turns out that the form factor works great for surfing the web and for watching movies. Surfing the web is better because you see more of the web-site. As web-sites have gone from the page form factor to essentially an endless scrolling bottom, the long form factor is great. Watching movies is better because the screen aligns better with the 16×9 HD form factor.


The keyboard isn’t that great. But then again, unless it’s an IBM ThinkPad (not a Lenovo) the keyboard on all laptops etc suck. But it’s serviceable.

In use

Folks who claim you can’t put the device on your belly and watch a film are too thin. Fat Guys of the world rejoice, you can put the tablet on your belly with the kickstand and watch films… What is really cool is that you can use the kick-stand to watch a movie on your bed without holding the device…

I am finding myself using the device to surf the web, watch movies on netflix and talk on skype, and follow the world on Facebook…


It’s painfully obvious that the device has an underpowered CPU.

It’s painfully obvious that if you have 1 neuron you’ll build an app for RT. If you have 2 neurons you will build apps for Windows 8 Metro. If you have 3 neurons, you will build an app for Windows 8… If you actually have a brain then you will build a Windows 8 app, that allow pieces of your app to be tiles on the Windows 8 metro interface. Evernote, honestly, does this best. If you are a windows 8 developer, use their product every day until you get what they did.


The digerati and the cognescenti are apple fan boys. The press is in love with Apple, mostly because their customers are Apple fans. And rightfully so. Apple has had an amazing run in terms of it’s products from the time jobs joined …

But… Microsoft Surface RT is an interesting piece of hardware. And the core problems with the device, a lack of performance and a lack of apps will be addressed by the Surface Pro. If the reddit thread is to be believed, then Microsoft has ways of addressing the battery power issues as well…

If you look around my office these days I see a lot of people running around with iPads hooked to keyboards… Which tells me MS is in the right ball park with their hardware…

Microsoft is an interesting company. With their cash reserves, and the sheer talent they have locked into their headquarters, they seem to be willing to lose money at rates that would cause other companies to panic to win in a market. Their first entrance into this market wasn’t a hit, but it wasn’t a miss. And the idea that a tablet is really just a different form factor for a laptop is looking increasingly prescient.

If I had some money sitting around I would buy a Surface Pro. Which is more than I can say about an iPad which I have never bought… (I own one because my wife loves them. She gives me her hand-me-downs…)



Week 3 – 20m down, 3980 to go


When you read about swimming free style, there is a lot of discussion about smoothness and balance. When I swim free style the water looks anything but smooth.

My body is flopping around, my arms creating drag and interference at every possible moment.

And I keep reading this whole smooth and balance thing and all I can think is – damn. It’s like runners high. There is no such thing as smooth swimming. Until I see this dude and…

And I feel worse. It’s like watching someone who can dance, dance just after you think it’s impossible. It feels like Luke Skywalker being schooled by Yoda in Dagobah after he fails to use the force to free his star ship from the swamp.


And I am thinking, this, this kind of beautiful swimming is so far out of my reach it might as well be from another species.

But once you see something is possible, there is this bit that flips, and you think – okay there is something there that I can strive for. So back to the pool, back to doing the work. And I start doing research on the perfect stroke, on the concept of weightless arms, of rotation and of using your chest as a buoy…

And then for about 20 meters, I am able to get all of this to work. My head is in the right position, my arms move in the right way, my hips rotate and it feels different. I mean, it actually feels like a different body is swimming through water, and then the turbulence takes over.

So it’s like riding a bike. It takes a while to get all of the pieces in place, and then you just have to build on it.

Obviously, I don’t have the physical strength and technique to swim 3980 meters perfectly, but I do have the strength to do 20m – not perfectly but at least with less turbulence. So we have a start. And that start, at this moment is all that matters…