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June 24, 2008

One Hundred Pushups


So, I was surfing about, when this link caught my eye. Normally I ignore a lot of the flotsam and jetsam that is served up while I'm searching for other things, but something drew me to this link so I checked it out.

The premise is that 1) Push ups are good for you, and 2) if you stick to it, you can eventually do 100 push ups in a single sitting. 100 push ups sounds kinda intimidating, but it's a nice round goal to shoot for.

Of course I realize push ups are good for you, but, I've always had low upper body strength, and now that I'm older, fatter, and have a sedentary desk job, I have REALLY low upper body strength. But, the more I read through the site, the more intrigued I became. It's nothing new really, you do your push ups in stages, building little by little until after about 6 weeks or so, you should be able to rattle off 100. The site has the entire 6 week program laid out in PDFs that you can download and print if you desire.

It's fairly straight forward, you rattle off as many good ones as you can to start with, and that sets your baseline level. Then based on that, you follow a preplanned sequence for 2 weeks, 3x/week. After the second week, you again test and see where your new baseline is, then that sets the tone for the next 2 weeks. Rinse and repeat for weeks 5-6. At the end of 6 weeks, your test is to try to do 100 in a setting. At any of the test points if you can't do the minimum baseline for the next set of weeks, you go back and redo the previous week until you can. Each set consists of anywhere from 5-8 sets of push ups with prescribed rest periods anywhere from 30-120 seconds between sets.

So, yes, I'm going to try this challenge. I'll try to see it all the way through. I'm not expecting a miracle, but what the hell, it costs me nothing but my own sweat, and I've got nothing to lose but a few pounds, and a lot to gain. There is one caveat though, I'm gone to Japan from July 23-August 3, which would kinda cut right into weeks 3-5, but I figure I can either pick up where I left off, or start again, but I figure starting now is worth it rather than waiting another month and a half to start.

June 21, 2008

Colorado 2008 - pt 3

Another stop on the vacation was the Garden of the Gods. A beautiful area of red-rock formations. It was a little cloudy so the lighting was pretty flat, but you can still see the nice coloration on the rocks.

Most of the area is paved, so it's not exactly a major hike to get around, but the paths weave in and amongst the outcroppings so you can get some really nice angles on some of the formations.

As you can imagine, this would be a rock climber's mecca...and it is. There's a number of permanent routes in place, and there was no shortage of climbers working their way along.

So, I'd like to say that I'm just really creative with my photography and the lighting was just right and...well, I WISH I could say that...but this was just pure dumb luck. Somewhere amongst dodging the people, and swapping lenses, and everything else, my camera got switched to full manual mode, where the shutter speed was set to 1/4000, and the aperture was set to f19 or so...needless to say you other photogeeks who might actually read this, with cloudy conditions, and the ISO set to 200...that's really not a good exposure. But, with some post-process exposure adjustment, and a healthy dose of luck, I came up with some interesting shots:

June 10, 2008

Colorado 2008 - pt 2

Here's some more pictures of the Elk in the Rocky Mountain National Park:

While we were driving through RMNP, we went up the road to the Alpine Visitor Center. Essentially the highest point along the road we were on. The air got a bit thin up there, as we were at 11K feet or so. But the views were gorgeous.

They had just plowed and opened the road the day before we went up.
The little red sign says "AREA CLOSED - Dangerous Snowfields" Notice the height of the pole it's attached to. That pole is there so that the snowplows know where the building is...

And here's the visitor center. The sign above was just to the right of the entrance way, just past where the lady in pink is standing. Notice the other poles at the front of the visitor center...

June 01, 2008

Colorado 2008

Recently went to Colorado to take a nice little vacation and to visit some friends. I'd never been to CO, so I was looking forward to visiting with my friends and seeing the mountains.

A note to the Aladdin Parking Garage in SD: We sat around for about 15 minutes while the driver was off chatting/helping some others. In the mean time, the shuttle was slowly filling up. People were getting antsy because it takes a while to get through security, and we were wasting time sitting at the garage. And, here comes another shuttle. Finally, we're down to 2 seats left, and the driver is still trying to load people on the shuttle. Their own policy says no people standing while the shuttle is in motion, and...you guessed it...he tries to put 3 people on the shuttle. I give up my seat to a lady, and I'm comfortably balanced and standing in the aisle like you might on a bus, holding onto the rails, when the driver asks me to sit down near the front (on the entrance steps) because "it's a safety issue." Of course he has 3-4 large suitcases crammed in the aisle, and me sitting blocking the only exit is probably yet another safety issue, all because he tried to put 3 people in the shuttle when there were only 2 seats left.

Flew on United Airlines. Actually pretty comfortable seats for economy class. Enough leg room, and seats wide enough for my fat behind. Not much for upper back support though. On the flight back I had to resort to sticking a pillow behind my upper back to get the support I needed.

Denver International Airport is pretty nice as airports go. I'd never been to the old Stapleton, so I have no comparison, but everything seemed to be clean and more or less orderly. Quite the long walk to get from one end to the other, but nothing too bad for a major hub. I didn't have to go through baggage claim (all carryon) which I understand is the bad part.

We had a rental car from Hertz. A 2008 Nissan Altima. Not a bad car, but not what I would have called a "full size" car. A full size car to me is like a Lincoln Town Car, or a Ford Crown Victoria type car. The Altima I'd categorize as a mid size sedan.

The Good: Decent mileage, was roomy, and had adequate power for the mountains.

The Odd: Had a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Hit the gas, and the revs climb...and stay there...no change in revs or anything until you let off the gas. A little disconcerting at first, but not bad. The other oddity was that there was no "key" per se. Just an electronic fob that you had to put into a spring loaded slot on the lower left of the dash (yes, opposite, and lower than where you might normally put the key). Then you had to push the brake in then push the "start/on" button. If you didn't put the fob in the slot just right, it would pop out. To stop the car you just pushed the "start/on" button again. Not sure what would happen if you just pulled the fob out of the slot...I should have tried that.

The bad: The seats were not very comfortable at all. The front seats had little to no upper back support, and the rear seat angle (not adjustable) was reclined back quite a bit. The driver's seat when I had adjusted it to be somewhat comfortable, put my eyes behind a very wide solar band at the top of the windshield. The brakes were very twitchy, all you had to do was just lightly touch the brake and they grabbed quite strongly. Steering was a little twitchy as well, and the car wanted to dive around a bit. The car let in quite a bit of road noise. Almost as much as my truck (lifted/modifed Toyota Tundra). The 12V lighter socket (so I could plug in the GPS) was buried way inside the center console, behind a little panel, and the windshield wipers sucked.

I do have some complaints for Hertz: 1) Clean the inside of the damn windows. One of my pet peeves is a dirty windshield, and the front windshield was quite ugly. 2) Fix your ordering site. I was trying to see if I could get their GPS system (called Neverlost), just for the convenience sake. However, their website kept indicating it was not available on the vehicle I had selected. Not a big deal, I have a GPS unit, so I figured I'd just bring that along and use it. But, once I get there...yep...it had one.

Anyways, you're probably more interested in pics:

This is a shot from near Boulder. The collection of red roofs to the left is Boulder, the one to the right is the University of Colorado campus. This was taken from Panorama Point. The weather overall was nice. A bit windy, which made it a tad on the cool side.

As a flatlander from sea level, the altitude did have a noticeable effect. It wasn't so bad at the typical 5K feet or so, but when you went up in to the mountains, crossing to 7-8K feet or higher, it became quite noticeable. Especially while hiking around with a big camera bag. My really bad level seemed to kick in around 10K feet, where I would really feel the effects even just standing around. Of course being fat and really out of shape doesn't help matters.

Elk in the Rocky Mountain National Park. They were pretty relaxed around people. These were grazing probably 30 yards from me, and about 20 yards from the road, more or less unconcerned with all of the people slowing down/pulling over to gawk at them.