Tuesday, September 30, 2008

End of the Summer

Sunday morning brought snow to Fairbanks, enough snow to stick around for a while and get many roads, parking lots and driveways pretty icy. Enough snow to get me to reluctantly park the bike in the back of the garage for the winter. Most of the leaves are off the trees and it just feels like it is going to be a long, bleak winter. High fuel oil and electricity mean cost cutting all around. I was thinking of going for a longish walk yesterday evening but the roads in the subdivision were still pretty slick. They don't get enough traffic. This evening, there is a scout meeting at the university so between 5 and 7, I'm going to walk through the West Ridge trails ending up at Wood Center in time for the meeting. After all, I need to try out my new toy.

While I was in Barrow last week, a package was delivered to my office from the WIN for Alaska program with a wrist mounted gps. Too bad I didn't get it in time for the Equinox but I'm not complaining. It stores tracks (something I didn't expect) as well as report on distance, speed, heart rate, etc. so I'm looking forward to trying it out. You can then connect it to a computer to upload all of the information. I don't think it records elevation or at least I haven't found it yet. Pretty cool device, Thank you to the WIN program. I will probably still carry my Nike+ device since I still like to be able to compete in the challenges on their web site. I'm about 55 miles short of the 1000 mile mark. This is just on actual "exercise walks/runs" so it is less than half of my total walking for the year. The pedometer total for the past year is just over 6 million steps (~2,700 miles) so it is no wonder I keep wearing out shoes. Which reminds me, it's about that time again...

Tuesday afternoon - I went on a short walk during lunch and here is the type of data that gets stored on the device. Primarily, speed and location. I didn't try out the heart monitor since it was going to be a short walk. I'll try that out this evening.

The map is pretty minimal and even the main roads aren't located very accurately. The number of data points seemed pretty minimal but I attributed that to the memory on the device. The base map on the 305 is pretty low resolution but you do have the ability to create waypoints as well as follow your track back ala bread crumbs.

Just on a hunch, I tried out the Garmin Mapsource program that I have to use with my 60csx, and it recognized the Forerunner 305 just fine and uploaded the track. This is a screen capture from that program. As you can see, the maps are much more detailed and accurate and the track information does include elevation. So I think I will end up using both software tools with this new gadget. I forgot to grab my iPod so no comparative data from the Nike+ device.

This last screen capture shows the elevation from my short walk this afternoon. I'm not really sure why the plot isn't symmetric since I just walked out, turned around and headed back. All in all, a really cool gadget. Too bad winter is upon us...

Tuesday evening - Walked in the snow this evening to try out the new gps. My heart rate registers higher than I thought it was though my counting method is pretty approximate. Count beats for 6 seconds and multiply by 10. I did run some since my feet got wet from the fresh snow. Time for some non-mesh shoes. The Nike+ registered 4.33 miles and the gps registered 4.27. Close enough for me especially since I paused the gps when I went into Butrovich to pick up my medicine. There could have been 0.06 miles inside the building. The heart rate monitor is what I'm really interested in. Back when I used to bicycle a lot, I would use my heart rate to pace myself. I would try and maintain ~80% of max for my age for literally hours. I think I actually am doing about the same when I walk as well. Using the old age formula, max is about 172. I noticed that several times on my walk this evening I was up there and didn't feel like I was pushing myself that hard. I wonder if there are other ways to calculate this? I have an appointment next week at the clinic. Maybe I should bring it up.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Modern Art on the Beach

Today, after lunch, I remembered seeing this interesting sculpture near the beach in Barrow, right across from Arctic Pizza. There is a real nice boardwalk so you can easily walk out to it. It turns out to be a memorial to two Japanese individuals (assumed from the names) who died in a plane crash at that location. It is located a bit NW of the end of the runway so I am assuming it was either taking off or landing. Brad, the Barrow resident I do a lot of work with, remembered hearing about a charter that had crashed maybe five years ago so I would assume that it is the same event. Anyway, it is a very interesting, modern sculpture that just seemed a out of place here in Barrow. I noticed it the last time I was up here but didn't have a opportunity to walk out and see what it was or why it was there.

Friday morning - Yes, that is a light dusting of snow in the parking lot next to the NARL hotel. It is windy and cold this morning. I did get one phone problem figured out that was really bugging me so now my laptop soft phone works with the VoIP system I set up as well as other VoIP phones outside of the primary site. Hopefully, I can now expand the system throughout the rest of the facility.

Not much walking at all while I've been up here. Most days don't finish until about 9, then look for dinner (the really good Japanese restaurant up here is open again!) before heading back to the hotel. The NARL hotel, for those of you who haven't been up here before, is more like a dormitory than a hotel. I.e. bathrooms down the hall. Anyway, time to get moving....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slowly Recuperating (in Barrow)

I'm almost able to walk normally but still feel very stiff when I first get up from sitting still. The last time I was in Barrow was right after my 22 mile "training walk" and I was pretty sore then. Maybe I can just blame the aches and pains on Barrow and as opposed to being self-inflicted. There always seems to be a lot I want to get done whenever I'm up here and the days just seem to fly by. I did get some of network testing done last night and everything passed with flying colors. The next project is to get them off of RFC 1918 address space and get rid of the problematic appliance that has provided less than reliable networking for quite a while. Hopefully, we can remove the device this evening. Moving everyone to public address space will dramatically simplify support.

I was told that one sure fire way to get rid of the stiffness resulting from too much exercise is to just do more of the same. I did walk around the outside of the building a couple of times today and the soreness did go away while walking but returned pretty quickly after stopping. I guess I'm just not allowed to stop. There are still reports of polar bears in the area such as the one by the Barrow football field in a recent photo in the News Miner. I guess they were sort of trapped on the land when the sea ice retreated. I believe that they normally spend their summers on the sea ice and not on the land. Anyway, I'm not really inclined to take a long walk anywhere due to the bears (convenient excuse) and I'm wary of even doing much running around the NARL campus for the same reason.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Equinox Marathon

Well, today I completed the 2008 Equinox Marathon and it took me a long time. Not quite "red lantern" but close. The first third was not much different from my normal weekend walks except that much of the run is on trails so there were wet leaves covering slippery tree roots and mud on the trail. It is really amazing that folks can run over this terrain. In fact I lost my footing on one muddy, steep uphill section and went down very fast and hard on my right side. At 8 1/2 miles, the route starts to head up Ester Dome and continues 1800 ft up in the next four miles. I think the most challenging part came after that with a section called "out and back" which meanders up and down after reaching the summit for about four miles. This is also the half way point. You dread the downhills since they turn into uphills on the way back. This section was really cold, rainy and windy and I ended up wearing everything I brought to stay warm. After getting back to the summit, there is about a 1000 foot drop along a power line. Very steep with treacherous footing. This is followed by a wonderful walk through the woods towards Henderson Road. I remember skiing this part some 25 years ago and except for the initial steep drop, it was pretty nice. All in all, it was a good experience and I still had energy after getting to the end so I probably could have pushed myself. I really wanted to make sure I finished so no jogging at all. I probably could have jogged on the gradual downhill sections and could have cut down my time, but my goal was to finish and get the patch. I averaged 3 mph which is slower than I normally walk (3.5 mph) and my Nike+ indicated over 28 miles instead of 26.3 miles. I think that is because the shorter steps in the uphill and muddy sections. I'm glad I took some snacks as the food provided was pretty minimal. Right now, I am lying down with a heating pad due to a very sore back and leg muscles. The "training walk" I did 3 weeks ago didn't include the steep trails on Ester Dome since I just stayed on the road. I've always wanted to do the Equinox ever since I moved up here in 1982. I think it may have been easier for me back then when I was in my 20's. At least I wasn't the last person to come in. I think I should have tried a marathon without all the hills for my first one. I'm told that the Equinox is one of the toughest marathons in the country due to all the hills. The volunteers and other participants were very encouraging and to them, I say a very sincere "Thank you!".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rainy Day Walk

This morning brought a bit of rain but not enough to cancel the last WIN noontime walk for the summer. Three participants showed up with raingear to join the WIN consultant who showed up carrying a small beach umbrella. The WIN consultant handed out gift cards for Gulliver's book store for participating in the noontime walks. Thank you! Instead of the normal walk consisting of two short 25 minute walks, we went all the way to northern end of the "T" field before heading back to West Ridge. The rain stopped shortly after the walk started but the mud on the trail made for slippery footing. I hope that this isn't what I have to look forward to on Saturday. I ended up wearing my motorcyle boots since it was pretty wet so I wasn't able to try out the replacement Nike+ sensor. I guess that will have to wait until Saturday as well. I took a good look at the insoles in my walking shoes yesterday and they were really worn out. Pretty well compressed at the ball of my foot so I took the bike to the sporting goods store after work to pick up a new pair. I guess they last around 6 months or so based on the last couple of pairs I've had. They are the green Superfeet brand and can recommend them highly after using them for almost a year and a half. I think I have a bit over a thousand miles on this pair. I decided not to walk to the store due to the Equinox on Saturday.

I rode the bike to work this morning in spite of the rain and because of the humidity, I had to leave the visor cracked open to prevent it from fogging, so it was pretty chilly. I had to switch to reserve on the way in and was debating whether or not to get more gas. I need to overhaul the fuel petcocks this winter since one of them leaked a little a couple of weeks ago. I think it would be easier if I start out with an empty gas tank. Other maintenence tasks for this winter is changing all the fluids including the brake fluid, new throttle cables and springs, new clutch cable, grease the transmission splines, grease the rear axle splines, check the valves, maybe even pull the heads so the shop can check for valve recession, anti-sieze on the exhaust nuts, and maybe a thorough cleaning. After all, this is a 25 year old bike. I've learned a lot about it during the last 8 months and I would like to take a long trip next summer. Plenty to do this winter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quiet Sunday

Feeling better today but not much walking. I think that I've decided to take it real easy this week so I can push myself next Saturday. I did walk down to church this morning and even tried a bit of jogging. The good news, no more sore spots behind my left knee. I think I want to keep it that way for the rest of the week. I went for a short bike ride this evening and the bike felt a little squirrely. Almost like there were gusts of wind so I took it really easy. When I got back home I checked the tire pressure and the front tire was low. I guess I really should check it every day like they taught in the MSF class. It made a huge difference in the handling of the bike. I'm really going to miss riding once the snow arrives. I don't know why it is so addictive. I originally thought that maybe it would be like when you first learned to drive but a better analogy would be bicycling downhill with a tail wind. I also enjoy all the mechanical sounds from the engine and really enjoy curves in the road. I don't think it would matter the size of the bike as speed and acceleration aren't a significant part of the experience. At least not for me. I'm glad that the bike I did get has the carrying capacity to use for long distance touring. Maybe next Summer...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

20% & Chrome

Not feeling well at all and it's a Saturday. Can't get anything done and can't get any walking in either. I think that whatever this is has been sneaking up on me for a while. Last Wednesday during the noontime WIN walk, my heart rate was much higher than normal while going up some small hills. I thought that maybe I was going faster than usual but in reality, according to my Nike+ gadget, I was going a bit slower than usual. I have been tired for most of the week as well. But, for some reason, that felt "normal". In fact, yesterday morning, I met my middle son at the campus barbershop and chose to ride the shuttle bus to lower campus instead of simply walking. What's that all about. I don't think that has happened in a long time. Maybe I just to get more rest. I guess that ten hours of sleep last night wasn't enough. My left leg now feels fine but it seems foolish for me to go on another "training" walk and just do the race next week. I'm not trying for any record but would like to finish before their deadline which I think is 5:00pm. That's 9 hours. Right now, I fell like I'm about 20% of normal.

Currently, I am editing this entry using a beta of Google's new web browser called "chrome". It seems to run even faster than Firefox and hasn't crashed. I downloaded it from http://www.google.com/chrome and it is only available for Windows systems. No Mac or Linux version yet. Since I'm kind of stuck at home, I have a Windows machine available so I thought I would try it out. Supposedly, it is more suitable for things like web apps since each window or tab runs in it's own sandbox, so to speak. A problem in one tab will crash that tab and not cause the application to crash. If you were editing a document using Google Apps in one tab, a problem in another tab won't cause you to lose all of your work in another. At least that is how I think it's supposed to work. It seems to work fine on this site but then again this is Google's blog site. It would have been a huge surprise if there was a problem. I have been doing just about all of my posts in 2008 using my iPhone. Also, just about all of the photos are taken with the phone camera so using a regular keyboard almost feels odd.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

WIN Walk

There was a WIN noontime walk through the University ski trails today. There is no question that Fall is here as the leaves are now completely turned. The two 25 minute walks seemed pretty short but I'm still feeling it in my left leg. I keep wondering whether I should be exercising or sitting with ice on it. Stretching really helps and the WIN consultant stopped for stretch breaks three times during the walk. I also received some much appreciated advice from another participant who is an Equinox veteran. She suggested bringing food along and not relying completely on the stops provided by the event organizers. I was looking at the marathon route and I had covered a much of it on my walk two Saturdays back. I hope my leg feels better by next week. Maybe, no long walk this weekend.

Thursday Morning - Well, the weather guessers were wrong and it didn't snow here in Fairbanks. In fact it is still well above 50°F today though it did feel a bit chilly riding in this morning. There is a lot more traffic in the morning now that school is in session and since it is no longer bright and sunny, I no longer feel compelled to take the scenic route. I think it will soon be time to park the bike for the winter and move the truck back into the garage. I am planning on taking the bus in whenever possible, not because the truck gets terrible mileage but more because short trips aren't very good for the long term life of the engine. It doesn't even get close to warming up in the summer let alone the rest of the year.

Monday, September 8, 2008

This evening was a beautiful time to ride. I needed to run some errands so, I took the bike. Last week when I took a long walk, I noticed that cotton socks were a poor choice for walking all day. Years ago, I used to use polypro socks when I went hiking and they worked great so I stopped at a local sporting goods store to find some. I, initially, got a blank look from the clerk when I described what I was looking for but we eventually found what I was looking for. Nothing more uncomfortable while walking than wet feet. I think what is sore after walking is the hamstring on my left leg. When I do a hamstring stretch, I can really feel it.

I had to pick up a prescription at FM and the route from Beaver Sports to East Fred Meyer seemed to run through Chena Ridge. I almost dropped the bike at an intersection because I was still braking the front wheel with the bars turned. The bars then want to turn to full lock and the bike leans rapidly in the direction the bars are turned. This is the same thing I've done before both in the class last year and at the beginning of the summer. Earlier, it resulted in me dropping the bike at an intersection after stopping. Embarrasing. Now, I'm able to easily catch the bike but I need to stop doing it. More slow speed practice needed.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fall's Here

It looks like Fall is here. I was hoping for a little more Summer so I can ride my bike but, unfortunately, I think my riding days are numbered. I went for a walk today after church since it felt so warm. It was overcast but after being in Barrow for the last week, it seemed pretty warm. I was tempted to ride the bike to church just so I would be able to go for a ride afterwards but thought I really needed to get in some exercise. I've slacked off on any sort of exercise during this last week. After my long walk last Saturday, the back of my knees were sore for the next couple of days. I've walked more than that distance before many times but last week's walk was the first time I really went looking for hills. In fact, I went up just about every hill I could find. Some of them more than once. Let me tell you, hills makes a BIG difference. Fortunately, BASC wasn't really busy, so I was able to use one of their vehicles. It made things much easier. When I left Fairbanks last week, there were only a few leaves that were just starting to turn. Now, there are only a few leaves that are still green. At the higher elevations, the leaves are completely turned. The picture is taken on the upper portion of Eton Blvd. where just about all of the leaves have turned.

Sunday Evening - After the relatively short walk this afternoon, the back of my knee is sore again. I hope I didn't injure myself. Maybe I need to stretch more after walking. I'm really bad about that. Usually, there is something else I need to do so I don't do any stretching. There has been a great series on the science channel (103 on GCI) on physics. It has been great. I have also been watching "The Long Way Down". This is about two guys riding BMW R12GS's from Scotland to the tip of South Africa.Pretty good show. I think that I like their first series "The Long Way 'Round" better. Maybe because they went through Fairbanks on that trip so there is some connection. Anyway, great shows.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Still Dreary

As you can see, it is still overcast here in Barrow. The whale bone arch is in town, just outside a Korean/American restaurant called Browers. Pretty good food and they even had home made ice cream. The Arctic Ocean can be seen in the background and there are very few waves and tides are almost non-existent.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dreary Weather

As you can see, the weather here in Barrow is rather dreary. This is the view to the west (towards town) from the Barrow Arctic Science Center a.k.a. BARC. I thought about going for some walks in the evening since it isn't too cold yet but one of the cooks in the college kitchen said that there were sixteen polar bear sightings around the NARL campus in the last month. Apparantly, these were bears that missed getting to the sea ice before it retreated from shore. I'm told that the ice edge is now several hundred miles away from Barrow.

The college used to generously share their gym with BASC but no longer since the BASC affiliated folks didn't seem to clean up after themselves a couple of times after using their facilities. Too bad. But then again, the last time I used the gym, the treadmill was still broken.

I still haven't finished working on the BARC phone system. I needed to modify the dialing plan to be a little more consistent. Yes, I could have made the change from Fairbanks but I wouldn't be able to test it. I don't want to make that kind of a change on a production system without being here. I'm not sure why but everything always seems to take extra long around here. I did get the NDT server up and running so we can measure network performance and throughput. Complaints about the network up here are common but it usually turns out to be the setup of the PC or laptop. I've read on the Internet that Mac 10.5 automatically changes your TCP window size for the speed and latency of the connection but Windows still needs manual optimization. At least for now. We now have a way of testing the performance of the network using a set of standardized tools.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nice Bike Ride

Since I was heading to Barrow this afternoon, I needed to pick up my laptop from my office at the University. I took the bike and for some reason, the trip to the University got longer than usual. I took Ballaine Road to Goldstream to the University. After picking up the stuff that I had forgotten, I went to the gas station to fill up the bike. Then headed towards the Parks Highway lookout at the top of the hill just past Ester before heading back towards town on the Old Nenana Highway. There is still a lot of road damage on some sections of that road in spite of a lot of repairs being done this summer. I then headed back down Goldstream Road towards home. All in all, about 60 miles. Not real far but enough to get rid of the cobwebs. I'm not sure how many more riding days there are going to be. I thought that this may be my last chance for the summer. Winter seems to be coming quicker than usual this year. In fact, when I checked the weather at 7:00am this morning, it was below freezing. I definitely don't want to be on the road when there is a possibility of ice. I saw a couple of other bikes out including one of the "last edition" white, BMW R100RT's. I think those were made in 1984 which makes it just one year newer than mine. I wish that I had more time to ride this summer but I guess that is the price for taking a one month road trip in the middle of the summer.

Barrow is also just barely above freezing this evening. In addition, it is a bit windy. When the plane was coming in, there was a layer of clouds as far as you can see in all directions. The pilot announced that Barrow was overcast with 1000' ceilings. I was told that the weather was going to stay this way for the rest of the week. My favorite Japanese restaurant was closed this evening probably because of the holiday, but Sam & Lee's had excellent Cantonese dishes. There is a lot of things that I need to get done while I'm here. I haven't been here since the end of June. I'm glad that the phone system ran without any problems, at least none that I am aware of.

I have received a number of emails asking what I thought of the choice of Sarah Palin for Vice-President. I believe that she has been doing a phenomenal job as the governor of the state, specifically, dealing with the gas pipeline and some of the ethics "issues" which seem to plague our congressional delegation but I also believe that she does not have enough experience at this point in time. Plus, I don't think much of her running mate. I think that win/lose would be good for the state of Alaska.