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May 23, 2010

Training Cycle Complete

For most of the past two months my weekends have been spent out on the rode getting in bicycle miles to ensure that I'm in shape for my upcoming trip in June. It's mostly been fun being back out the bicycle and this weekend I hit my training milestone right on schedule: a 100 mile weekend, done as two 50 mile days. Alas aging has started to rear its ugly head. This year, much more so than previous years, my longer rides left me unable to take deep breathes at the end. I thought it was just being out of shape. However, the symptoms persisted even as my training progressed.

I decided to narrow down the cause and started with getting my VO2 max tested. My results (70 ml/kg/min) were well above normal. Clearly not the issue. In discussing the issue with my physician he surmised that I have a mild case of exercise-induced asthma. Mild because it is only with extended exercise (90 minutes plus) or very high intensity (175 BPM plus for > 15 min) that it gets to the point that it bothers me. As a result of this for the past couple of weekends I've been using an albuterol prior to exercise and no longer return from my rides unable to take deep breathes. Given my general avoidance of medicine over the years I'm a little torn by this turn of events. Ideally I'd like to avoid the use of it as much as possible but really need to do more research into what alternatives may exist. I wonder, in what little reading I have done, that maybe my year round bicycle commuting and the high pollen counts right now might be added triggers.

In any event I'm where I wanted to be training wise. My short bicycle commute should help maintain me until my trip starts with maybe a little inline blading thrown in to keep the heart rate up.

Tags: bicycle life training trips

May 16, 2010

Off my game

The weather this weekend has been great for riding. Well I could do without the winds from the west but those just make the return trip easier. Yesterday I had a lovely ride out through Concord to Groton and back. Today I did a shorter higher intensity ride along the Minute Man Trail and was off my game on the return trip :( Coming up the hill after 95 there was a long string of riders that I was passing. I could have sworn I was announcing "on the left" but this one women broke the line and almost took me out. I ended up only a couple of inches from the left side. Thankfully no one was hurt but she did have some choice words for me. I stupidly responded over my shoulder that I'd announced but that only antagonized her more. I ended up just riding on trying not to agonize about the situation too much as I'm want to do.

Alas the ride got worse at the end of the trail. At the end I merge back into traffic to make the left hand turn onto Mass Ave. It requires getting across two other lanes of traffic, one turning right, and the other turning going straight. I won't claim it is fully legal, with that said I've made the merge about a hundred times without any issues. Today however after already having one unfortunate situation I got a driver who didn't think I should be there. I was merging as the light was going from green to yellow, so I unfortunately surprised the driver as he was pulling up to be second in line. He honked like mad and for awhile after as I was waiting at the light with him behind me. "Next time I'll hit you" I hear shortly before the light turned green. When it did finally turn green I make a wide turn to make sure I was out of the way. He pulled over and did a hard stop 10 feet after the turn, trying to get me to crash into him. I braked with room to spare and just waited for him to drive off.

Clearly I'm culpable in both situations but hope that there is some understanding that no harm or foul was intended, only what could be construed as a fleeting lack of judgement and etiquette.

Tags: life

May 14, 2010

From Eternity to Here

From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book is a through and frequently tedious exploration for a theory of time. Pay close attention to the word "Quest" in the subtitle. This books poses many questions that don't have answers yet and instead focuses on the various theories that currently exist. The book starts with an introduction to possible definitions of what time is, the role of entropy, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. With that foundation it dives into microscopic constituents, macroscopic systems, and quantum mechanics before finishing off with inflation, the reversibility of time, and multiverses. I found as I went along the tractability became further removed from everyday life and ended up almost entirely in the realm of theoretical physics and dare I say philosophy. If you are interested in understanding the current state of thinking about what time is, the origins of the universe, and similar topics the author's writing is excellent and the copious footnotes helpful. It just felt like it took an eternity to read.

View all my reviews >>

A few of the notes I took while reading:

* Time labels moments in the universe [10]
* Time measures the duration elapsed between events [10]
* Time is a medium through which we move [10]
* An event is x, y, z and time [14]
* Spacetime = every point in space at every moment of time [14]
* The duration elapsed along two trajectories connecting two events in spacetime need not be the same [20]
* A straight trajectory between two events in spacetime describes the longest elapsed duration [21]
* Time has a direction, space doesn't [21]
* Take milk and mix it into a cup of black coffee; never take coffee with milk and separate the two liquids = irreversible processes [28]
* There are many different arrangements of particular atoms that are indistinguishable from our macroscopic perspective [36]
* Being - existence in the world, Becoming - a dynamical process of change, bringing reality into existence [42]
* Extraneous motion decreases the time elapsed between two events in spacetime, whereas it increases the distance traveled between two points in space [76]
* Thermodynamic arrow of time (defined by entropy and the Second Law), cosmological arrow of time (the universe is expanding), psychological arrow of time (we remember the past and not the future), radiation arrow of time (electromagnetic waves flow away from moving charges, not toward them), ... [171]
* There are more ways to be high entropy than low entropy, so most microstates in a low-entropy macrostate will evolve toward higher-entropy macrostates [176]
* The information content of a message goes up as the probability of a given message taking that form goes down [190]
* Essence of life: staving off the natural tendency toward equilibration with one's surroundings [195]

Tags: books

May 10, 2010

Static Const of the reference not the content

In the middle of helping a co-worker debug a unit test, we had a test method that ran fine by itself but failed when run with the rest of the tests in the same class. Looking over the code there was no obvious reasons why when both test methods were run the second one failed.

Turned out to be a duh moment. At the top of the unit test there were a bunch of XML fragments declared with private static const. Problem was one of the two test methods was modifying the children of the XML. XML is a complex Object, unlike an int or a String, so the constant keyword doesn't prevent changes to the structure within the XML, it just prevents the reference from changing. A couple of simple fixes:

  1. Make the XML fragments be class instance variables, since each unit test creates a new instance of the test class
  2. Before using the XML use its xml.copy() function

Tags: e4x flex testing xml

FLA version reporting?

With the release of Flash CS5 we have an issue that some files we distribute to customers need to be saved as Flash CS4 compatible. I'm looking for a cross-platform utility that I can easily call from Ant that will report the Flash version that an FLA file was saved as. The goal being to add a source control hook that prevents an FLA in the wrong version from being checked in. Anyone know of such a tool?

Tags: fla flash tool version

May 1, 2010


Choices, I have too many. It seems every day I run across something else that I want to learn and play with. Attending BarCamp didn't help. Reading blogs and newsgroups isn't helping. Buying more books definitely isn't helping. I've only got so much free time and right now a good portion of that is being used up training for my upcoming bicycle trip. I'm beginning to wonder if there is some other underlying reason for all of the intellectual angst. Too bad I'm not disciplined enough right now to actually list out and rank everything and just focus on something.

Tags: ideas life