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Archive for February, 2010

Am I forever doomed to having odd neighbors?  Is everyone’s situation like this?

When I first moved to Seattle, I lived in an apartment complex in temporary housing.  I was on the bottom floor and the neighbors would make all sorts of loud banging noises at night.  I have no idea what they were doing, but it was annoying.

I moved complexes, and last year I complained that these ones would play all sorts of loud music at inopportune times.  I couldn’t figure out what they were doing but it was annoying.  Eventually, they moved away.

And who takes their place?  A new guy whom I shall refer to as Sir Snores-a-lot.  This guy’s bedroom is right beneath mine and he snores so loud at night that I can hear him.  And he keeps me awake.  And it drives me nuts.  And it’s every night!  Not only that, but the other day/night at 5:15 in the morning, he had an alarm clock going off with an irritating “beep-beep-beep” for 15 minutes!  How could he not hear it?  Was the sound of his snoring drowning it out?

Yeesh.

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Today, after what I think is a 3-month hiatus, I returned to the gym.  I can’t remember the last time I went but I think it was in early December.  I haven’t gone because I’ve been quite busy, what with relationships and travel and whatnot.  But the primary reason I haven’t gone is because my hip has been quite sore and slow to recover.  It still hurts quite a bit to rotate it in certain directions.  However, there are other movements that definitely feel better than before.  But I figured it was time to start my physical therapy.

I went there, got changed, and stepped onto the scales.  I was pleased to see that I have not gained any weight in the past 3 months.  I am within my target range (I fluctuate in a 5 pound range) so that was good.  I was somewhat concerned that I my lethargy was taking a measurable toll.

Next, I got onto the elliptical machines (look it up if you don’t know what they are).  These machines are better for me than treadmills.  The motion is not natural but these are far easier on my joints than running.  Basically, I have accepted that I will be a runner, not that I ever was except for a couple of summers.  The impact on my hip joint and lack of cartilage there causes too much discomfort.  But the smoother ellipticals are pretty nice for me.  The only thing that hurts is the extended motion, which is natural for my recovery.  I did 20 minutes of those plus 5 minutes of cool down.  In the end, I was all sweaty.

Next up I went to the rowing machines.  I knew that prior to my hiatus from working out, I couldn’t do these as well as I used to.  These machines are the things where you do kind of a rowing motion.  My goal is to do 2000 m in 10 minutes.  Last April, after a number of sessions of trying to do it, I succeeded.  You really have to keep a motor going, though.  It’s tiring.  But as I moved to sit ups last summer, I returned to the rowing machine and tried doing it again, and I couldn’t.  I could do it in maybe 11 – 11 1/2 minutes (or even 12?) minutes.  Today, it took me 11.5.  That means that I am 15% slower than my record from back in spring 2009.  My goal is to get back to 2000 m in 10 minutes.  I ended up taking a 2 minute break and doing 2000 m again.  It took me 12 minutes.  Obviously the first time was not a fluke.

Next, I did some exercises that the physical therapist gave me last year.  At this point, my legs were tired.  These involve working the muscles of your posterior.  Tomorrow, I will find that I have sore muscles in my gluteals, abductors and gracilis.  In fact, I am feeling it now.  The gluteals are the sides of your buttocks, while the other two I mention are the upper inner thigh muscles and upper hamstrings (the ones that go into your buttocks).  I did one set of exercises rather than two because that’s all I could do.  While I was doing them, my legs were shaking and I said to myself “Okay, I’m out of condition.  Let’s build on that rather than push it.”

I left the gym all tired and sweaty, but I was doing stuff for about an hour or so.  We shall see how I feel tomorrow.

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A close call for an accident

The other day, I was coming home from Seattle and nearly had a collision mere seconds away from where I live.  I’m not sure how it could have been avoided.  Thankfully, nothing happened.  But it was close.

I live down a street that is a two-lane, each way, divided highway.  And at certain times of the day, it can get to be extremely busy.  When I turn off to go to my place, it is at an uncontrolled intersection.  There is a turning lane and if there is a bunch of traffic coming in the opposite direction, I have to wait a long time before I can turn.  So, there’s basically five lanes but one is the turning lane that only is there for a short time otherwise there is a median.

Sometimes, the traffic in the other way backs up quite far all the way past me where I am waiting.  When that happens, drivers are frequently courteous enough to see that I am waiting and will allow me to space to pass through and exit up the small street to where my apartment complex is.  Being from Winnipeg, at first this behavior was unfamiliar to me because in Winnipeg, a driver will see that and will deliberate inch forward such that you cannot turn even though he cannot go forward either.  Winnipeggers reading this will confirm this.

Anyhow, I was coming home from Seattle and waiting to drive into my small side street when I got stuck in one of those familiar having-to-wait-for-traffic-to-clear incidents.  But as I was waiting, a curious thing happened; a car travelling in the median lane stopped and was allowing me to pass through so I could go on my merry way.  The one problem was that this car was not in a good position to do this.  Traffic had not backed up all the way, so he was basically holding up traffic.  I began to feel the psychological pressure of not wanting to waste his time.  What do I do?  Just stand there?  He’s letting me in so shouldn’t I take advantage of his generosity?

The thing is that he was in a truck, which blocked my field of vision (I’m in a Toyota Corolla).  I could see that he was waiting but I couldn’t see the other lane.  This driver might be a nice driver, but who’s to say that the drivers in the curb lane would similarly be so nice about things?  The risk I saw was that while I would have time to go in front of this guy, I wouldn’t have the sight lines to see who was coming in the other lane.  Since traffic was not backed up, they still had a clear path to go and wouldn’t have cause to slow down and let another car through.

I sighed.  Well, I guess I should go.  I creeped forward into the other street and tried to peer forward but couldn’t.  The sight lines were blocked.  I decided that if I were going to go, I would have to go quick.  I accelerated and just as I did, I had to slam on the brakes!  Just as I had feared, another car was traveling in the other direction!  Had I decided to quickly go all the way through there would have been a collision.  We both kind of looked at each other, but what could I say?  I went first, he went behind me and 15 seconds later I pulled into my parking spot at home.

Sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to be the nice guy when it doesn’t make sense to do so.

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Funny stuff

From xkcd:

Devotion to Duty

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Olympic hockey

A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I was gearing up for watching hockey in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  I must confess that I haven’t been following the Olympics that closely.  Every day I do go to Yahoo.ca and check the medal count.  But in all honesty, I haven’t been tracking them that closely.  I figure why bother following the sports if I will never be able to compete anyhow?  That’s not the real reason, the real reason is that I have been too lazy to keep track and I have kept myself busy with other activities.

Except for hockey.

I have tracked the men’s hockey pretty closely.  I watched the Canada/Switzerland game last Thursday where Canada beat them 3-2 in a shoot out.  That was a great game to watch, I got really into it and cheered out loud, involuntarily, when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal against the Swiss netminder, whoever he was.

I missed the Canada/US game (which Canada lost 5-3) and the Germany game (which Canada won 8-2).  However, I did catch the last half of the Canada/Russia game (which Canada won 7-3).  One thing is for sure, I will not be missing the Canada/US gold medal game in a couple of days.  I absolutely plan to watch that and sink into a deep depression and not go into work for 10 days if Canada loses.  It will be a sad, sad time if that actually occurs.  We might even call it our own Pearl Harbor Day.

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You know you want to…

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Super cool stuff in science

As I said in my previous post, I went to a conference in San Francisco last week.  At these conferences, the way it usually works is that the first night, you all hang out at a bar, sponsored by a company (and get free food). The second night, there is an event or a night out, and you get free food.  There is free food in the morning and at lunch for the entire conference.  Only on the last day when the conference ends is there no more free food.

This year’s night out was at the Exploratorium museum in San Fran.  This place is so awesome.  Like, unbelievably awesome.  It has all sorts of cool science things and experiments that it explains right there for everyone to see.  It is so neat!

In this post, I will give you an example and I hope to give you more in future posts.  So let me give you one.  They had a little station set up where they had a bunch of copper tubes wrapped in a circular pattern, looking a lot like a coil.  This copper tube coil thingie had water going through it.  The demo station said to put your hand on the copper tubes.  I did so and almost immediately said "Ah!" and pulled away in pain.  "WTF?  Why would they say that?"  The tubes felt hot and prickly to my touch.

But they weren’t actually hot.  What it actually was, was a copper tube with warmer-than-warm (but not not) water flowing through it, and in-between those warm tubes were another set of tubes with cold water flowing through it.  So, it went hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold, etc.  But if you put your fingers individually on the hot ones, it didn’t really feel very hot at all.  It was just warm.

Here’s what happens – when you put your hands onto the pipes of interspersing hot and cold water, even though the water isn’t hot the sensation tricks your brain.  It isn’t used to feeling the rapid change in temperature and so it interprets the distinction in sensation as being painful.  Well, my brain was completely tricked because I totally felt the pain.  But putting your fingers on the water one at a time was easily tolerable.  Only by putting them on at the same time was I to experience the painful sensation.

That was so awesome.  Seriously.

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