in the thicket of the devil

In the "thicket of the devil" is a bit dramatic for describing me riding to the top of Mount Diablo this weekend. Not a big deal at all except that it was crazy hot this weekend and going to the top of Mount Diablo is considered a Category 1 – 2 climb (e.g. how climbs are measured in the Tour de France) — it wasn't that bad.

The elevation at the top of Mount Diablo is 3,800 feet. I had been up there once before but with a triple chain ring (as opposed to a double chain ring which I have, or a "compact crank" set which is double chain ring but w/ smaller gears so acts more like a triple.) With a double chain ring, you're supposed to be a stronger rider and you can go faster. I do feel much stronger on the bike than the past couple of years. Let's just say I didn't fall at the very top, where the % grade is fairly ridiculous and pretty mean considering you've climbed all that way already.

The views from the top are good but frankly it's the same as the views from 2,400 or 3,000 feet. The climb is pretty challenging and the descent from the mountain is epic.

I'll probably look to climb Mount Diablo again before this season is over. It's really a slow, slow climb. I much prefer the East Bay hills where it's a 20 minute climb, a bit of a descent or flat, and then climb some more.

Ironman Training tricks

This is my third year doing Ironman (2 more Ironmans next year) and I've condensed everything down to a few tricks. There kinda has to be a few tricks in order for normal people like me to swim a couple miles, bike a 100 or so miles and then do a marathon.

So here they are:


The trick to swimming long distances freestyle is body roll and position. You kind of just move (twist) from one side to the other and try and keep your body shaped like a canoe (versus a rowboat) and slice through the water moving side to side. You don't have to kick at all because the side to side movement propels you forward and you use your hips|stomach|core muscles to power you through not your legs and not necessarily your arms. The concept of this can be found in the Total Immersion book.

Focusing on body roll and position makes swimming so much easier. Not having to kick allows you to go much further.

Road cycling

There are really no tricks here, you just have to get out on the road and get time in on the saddle. But two things, if you buy a really, really light bike like one made out of carbon fiber or titanium, and you focus on spinning 90+rpms (rotations per minute) on lower gears, you're going to be in good shape.

Focusing on spinning makes your cycling much more efficient since lower rpms and higher gears will blow out your knees and will get you hurt. Other than that, there are really no tricks to cycling unfortunately. Road cycling is pure power, leg strength. During the offseason, doing leg presses and squats will help a lot or riding a bunch of hills will get you stronger and faster.


There is, however, a trick to running. With running, you have to do the forward lean as if you're falling and catching yourself. You're not leaning from the hip down, but leaning from the ankles. The feeling is like falling forward and catching yourself on a wall. What happens then is that you're striking the ground with your mid-sole (or most of the foot) versus hitting the ground with your heel and rolling over on to the balls of your feet. It's almost like your running flat footed. This means that where you get sore gets shifted from your shins to the lower back of your calves where you have more muscles.

They call this Chi running just to sell you a book. They'll tell you what I just told you in a few pages and then pad the book w/ nonsense like running is all mental, you have to be in tune w/ your body crap.

Practice leaning forward from the ankles, practice 90 foot strikes per minute (so fast rotation while running too), and practice striking the ground w/ your mid-sole versus heel. With those things you can run pretty far w/ out feeling it. It doesn't feel natural at first because that's not how you would run when running a sprint. But it is a good way to run long distances or for casual running.

Raf's Garden

This is the plant list of what we're supposed to have in our front/side/backyard. I have it here for reference to print out when we get out to East Bay nursery to grab 'em and for me to reference them again when we have to actually take care of these plants.

On paper, the plant list looks pretty good.

Botanical Name
Common Name
2 Rhododendron10 x $45 – $50 (?) Rhododendron
3 Anigozanthos2 x $13 Kangaroo Paw
4 Agapanthus "Tinker Bell"33 x $8 – $10 Lily of the Nile
5 Calibrachoa4 x $8 Million Bells
6 Eigeron
karvinskianus1 x ?
Santa Barbara Daisy
7 Cornus florida "Cherokee Princess"2 x $150 Flowering Dogwood
8 Herbs Herbs
9 Citrus "Improved Meyer"1 x $35 Improved Meyer Lemon
10 Sarcococca ruscifolia3 x $13 Sweet Box
11 Pittosporum "Silver Sheen"10 x $29 (?) Pittosporum
12 Camellia japonica "Debutante"8 x ? Camellia
13 Geranium incanum "Philippe Vapelle"21 x $10 Cranesbill
14 Lobelia tailing1 x ? Lobelia
15 Distictis buccinatoria6 x $40 Trumpet Vine
16 Galium odoratum5 x $5 Sweet Woodruff
17 Hydrangea "Endless Summer"4 x $13 – $35 Hydrangea
18 Acer palmatum "Bloodgood"1 x $400 Bloodgold Japanese Maple
20 Heuchera sanguinea3 x $11 Coral Bells
21 Astilbe arendsii "Amethyst"3 x $11 False Spiraea

status since leaving

It's been a month since I left MozCorp and so far was able to do the following:

  • vacation for a week in Hawaii
  • weekend training trips to Clear Lake and Lake Berryessa, trained a bunch
  • get out to the Berkeley's farmer's market during the week
  • catch up w/ a few folks for lunch (jen, john, jag)
  • caught an Oakland A's game sect 112, row 6!, 1st base line (Joe Blanton pitched 5 hit shut out)
  • "supervised" the contractors who rebuilt our front porch, added a gate, extended the back fence, cleaned up the house/garage
  • painted master bedroom, hung and frame wall pictures/posters
  • shaved my legs
  • voted

I still need to:

  • pull up the weeds, prep land for landscaping
  • stain/seal the back porch and fence
  • catch up w/ more folks
  • Disneyland trip, London trip
  • clean up this blog, maybe update the design, post some more content like recipes, other stuff
  • train even more

My MacBook configuration


I'm not getting one until I get back (and unfortunately my Apple employee friends don't get discounts on them yet so I may wait a little longer, not sure yet).

But here are the specs for $1,717:

  • 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo
  • 1GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM – 2×512
  • 80GB Serial ATA drive
  • SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW)
  • Keyboard/Mac OS – U.S. English
  • Apple Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter
  • AppleCare Protection Plan for MacBook/iBook – Auto-enroll
  • AirPort Extreme Card & Bluetooth

This is going to be my new work/play computer. Our home computer is Mac Mini w/ a 23" display. We have a pretty phat computer set-up, w/ AT&T DSL Pro, wireless network (wireless printing)…happy, happy.

Not much more you can ask for. As far as software is concerned I use:

  • Firefox daily builds
  • Thunderbird for email/addressbook
  • Seamonkey for Composer
  • iPhoto, iTunes, iChat
  • Flickr uploader
  • Not often: Word, Excel, Keynote

And that's it. All the other apps I use are through Firefox.

gay marriage

A few thoughts on gay marriage:

  • I can't even imagine how gay marriages are going to turn the wedding industry upside down. How cool can gay weddings get? When you get a wedding invitation from a straight couple, isn't your first reaction, "oh shit, another wedding. When is it?" But when you get a wedding invitation from a gay couple, your response is probably "oh cool, that'll be fun." (depending on the couple of course)
  • I've been to one lesbian wedding already (last year?). It was a beautiful wedding and it was a lot of fun.
  • I'm invited to a gay wedding for a good friend of mine in August but unfortunately can't attend because of Ironman. I wish I could go though.
  • We all need to leave gay people alone. It's hard enough to find a life partner (and live in general), we shouldn't make it more difficult for people to share their life w/ someone they love.
  • I don't think folks who are against gay marriage know enough gay people. I'm not exactly sure how I know so many gay people, maybe living in the Bay Area and having gone to school in Boston. Maybe I just opened my eyes a bit.

So, we need to get off the subject of gay marriage, stop discriminating against gay people, and if gay people want to get married and be all miserable, let them be miserable.

For Christians who want to make this a religious/biblical issue, don't bring your religious issues to state affairs. I'm a Roman Catholic w/ 12 years of Catholic school and there is nothing in the Bible in opposition to gay marriage. If Jesus were alive today, he would slap you upside the head for being so stupid.

desperate house-husband

Man.  This staying at home stuff is some hard work.  Stay at-home Moms should get a medal.  Can I get a medal?
Some observations and things I'm doing:

  • I'm somewhat watching over the construction guys who are rebuilding our porch (woohoo!)
  • I've thoroughly cleaned the bathroom, cleaning the bathroom is usually something I don't do.
  • Making dinner and thinking about stuff to make is harder now than when I had less time, because now there's more time to think about it.  It's counter-intuitive but true.
  • I'm doing a bunch of laundry and constantly washing dishes or loading/unloading the dishwasher.
  • When I go out I'm surprised to see a lot of people out and about — a lot of older people and I'm not sure about the rest, retired young people, off day?  Why isn't everyone working.

I still have steam clean the carpets, work on the landscaping outside and getting a landscaper, paint the master bedroom, get some artwork hung up, and lots of other stuff.

Rather than soap operas though I'm surfing the Web and checking out what's happening in Mozilla-land here and there.  I'd like to devote the two hours I used to use to commute to work for stuff.  What's interesting about not commuting to Mountain View is that my car stays a lot cleaner longer.