Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book #58 - Amped

51kCGBo5iBL._AA115_I had a friend recommend Amped to me as a science fiction book, but it starts out more like a thriller, with a detective hired to find a girl that’s on the run. She escapes, in a few creative ways as we cut to a former Delta Force commando brought back and hired to find her. We’re told she’s a brilliant scientist that is working on a biological terror weapon with Al Qaeda.

From there the book moves quickly and we find the science fiction. David Desh, the commando, hires a hacker, but the girl, Kira Miller, turns the tables on them and kidnaps David. We learn that she discovered a way to enhance intelligence, making a person hundreds of times smarter.

Desh slowly begins to believe her and we have a combination of science fiction, which moves slowly to more fiction than science. There are also thrills as the military is chasing them towards an exciting conclusion.

Exciting, just like Daemon was to me, and worth the read. This is a two part series, and I grabbed the second one as soon as I was done with this one.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Ethics of Industries

Something that has concerned me lately as we have a Presidential election year and debate the value of regulation or de-regulation of industries, is that there are so many industries that have a mission that is fundamentally opposed to making profit. Or at least there is a severe ethical clash with the profit motive. Consider these industries:

  • health care
  • education
  • journalism
  • retirement services

We’ve had issues in the financial sectors, and it could be argued that many industries should put product quality, customer service, etc. ahead of profits, but in many cases that’s a choice the consumer, and the producer, can make together. If I want a lower quality car or software or tool, I can pay less and get one. Or pay more and get a better one. Quality doesn’t always rise with price, but in many cases there is a correlation.

Consider healthcare. In many cases, the primary mission is to improve the health of the body. Unlike a car or tool, if there’s an error made, this can be rectified. Not always true with health. There’s also the matter of poor care, which may not be discovered, can have a dramatic long term effect on a person. If profit is your primary goal, then you have reason to cut care if it will increase profit. Especially when you get to make decisions about volumes of care (meaning lots of patients). A savings of $10 a person doesn’t necessarily help the family practice doctor who see 100 patients a month ($1000). However the leader of a hospital, or an insurance company that might oversea 10,000 has a much different incentive. He/she can changes the profits of the company by $100,000, which might translate into a bonus of $10k, or even $100k for themselves.

Why would they get $100k for saving $100k? Executives sometimes have these big bonuses on metrics. Perhaps $10/patient is a metric or maybe profitability is a metric. Support you could lose $90k or make $10k with this $100k swing? Your bonus might be $100k to do this. Crazy, I know.

If you look at education, it’s similar. It’s a long term effect, that can be affected by short term swings. There’s also the effect of colleges that need to make short term impacts on students (for enrollment) or staff (for marketing). Easy to see how these groups might sacrifice the goal of education effectiveness for profitability. This isn’t a great example, and the study is poorly done (but not necessarily wrong in its conclusions).

Journalism is worse because people compromise the truth. There’s a bit of journalism in education as well, and in health care, since we get information from those groups, but ultimately we’d like to think that our reporters are looking to provide the truth, or at least the truth from their perspective. However as we see so many media companies struggling financially, at least to their investors, they cut corners. Reporters worry about their jobs, and sensationalize or make up facts to gain attention, at the expense or reporting something more accurate, but perhaps less exciting. Too many examples to link, but ThinkProgress is a good example. Despite the fact I think they want to make the world better, at least from a liberal point of view, I find headlines on the site that bear little relation to the facts of the story. One items is highlighted or even distorted in a headline or short abstract to get eyeballs.

It’s horrible.

I add retirement services in because even though I believe in the Libertarian viewpoint overall, it breaks down in places. Retirement is one of these. If you can’t trust these services, and many of them have an incentive to get you to be happy with their services in the short term, not the long term (for their payroll and bonuses), then what do you do? How can you invest for the long term without good information? How can you recover from someone that’s intentionally steering you to investments that will benefit themselves, but not necessarily you? When you figure this out, it may be too late. After all, retirement is a lifelong thing, not one you recover from at 50 if you realize you’ve made mistakes for 30 years.

In all of these cases you can say the market weeds out the frauds or the poor performers, and you’d be right. However in many of these cases, the fraudulent people can do substantial damage to the long term success of many individuals in society. To me, that’s a fundamental problem, and it makes me seriously question whether we should allow these industries to operate as pure profit entities. It also makes me worry the MBA explosion of the last 20 or so years needs serious reform, not just in the curriculum, but also in culture.

I don’t have a great solution, but I worry as I see so many businesses, and entire industries, driven to be profit at all expense, without regard to the ethical and social impacts these decisions have. I see the wanton excess of worship of wealth and dollars in large (and ever larger corporations) over the steady hand of business owners who want to earn a decent profit, but aren’t driven to “exceed” expectations in a cycle of never ending growth.

Limits on growth aren’t all bad. If Wal-Mart were limited to one store in each city, they’d still be hugely successful. Perhaps not a runaway stock, but then again, there would be a bunch of other companies doing similar business and instead of the Wal-Mart/Target duopoly ruling the US, we might have dozens of similarly sized entities, all turning a profit, providing a steady return on investment, and likely employing more people in aggregate.

Sore Knee

After running Friday in Sacramento, on a hard packed surface, I knew I’d overdone it slightly. My right knee was sore on Sat morning when I hit the treadmill, and sitting in the various sessions, it was swollen (slightly) and right. It ached a bit when I got up to walk after flying home.

Sun I could feel it when I ran after a few balls at baseball, and then more when I took the kid biking later. Trying to show them a few wheelies was probably a bad idea. I dropped ice on it last night, and cringed when Tia rolled over and bumped the front of it. It’s better today, but sore.

As such, I’m glad no BLF run, and I’ll jog lightly at lunch, but I will also need to take it easy when lifting today.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Wheels are off the bus

We got ten runned again today. It was a train wreck from the first inning onwards, once again. We had 13 people, so I skipped batting. I just played the field, alternating between third and right, which was interesting. At third, I missed a hard grounder in one inning, and let a bad throw get past me on a steal of third. That was about it. In right I came up and dove, barely missing a short ball dropping into shallow right. Other than that, not much. A few errors from our team, but no real hitting. I think it was 13-1 today in 7.


Hopefully we'll turn it around a little in the next few weeks as we close out the season. I certainly  need a little practice.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book #57 - Star Fortress

51V VsYGLuL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The sixth book of the Doom Star series, and potentially the last, is Star Fortress. As soon as I saw it, I grabbed it and eagerly started reading. I was curious what would become of Marteen Kluge after the Planet Wreckers were stopped, and would Social Unity prevail over the Highborn? Are the cyborgs still attacking?

This book is action packed from start to finish. We find humanity and the Highborn taking a collective breath after the planet wreckers were stopped. As the Highborn bicker, Hawthorne has a truce with them, and the begin planning to attack the Neptune system.

Marteen is trapped on Earth, and concerned as Hawthorne agrees to meet with the Grand Admiral. That doesn’t go as planned for the Highborn, who believe both leaders killed. Meanwhile Hawthorne secretly joins the fleet that heads out into the solar system, with 3 Doom Stars. Marteen manages to escape from Social Unity, with infighting occurring, and moves to get to his shuttle and make his way to Mercury, where he suspects the Highborn have a new weapon.

The book jumps between the cyborgs, the fleet heading to Neptune (human and Highborn) and Kluge’s journey. It’s an exciting one and I don’t want to give anything away, but there is an amazing battle with the Prime Web mind of the cyborgs. Read the other books first, and you’ll love this one.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book #56 - A More Perfect Constitution

51K6vp9kDcL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_Professor Sabato was at the University of Virginia when I was there. He was one of the more popular teachers, and his political science classes filled up early, and every semester. I never made it to one, but I saw him on TV many times, and thought he was very thoughtful. When I saw A More Perfect Constitution in the library, I grabbed it. I’m curious how we might make this a better country, and this seemed like a good place to start.

The book presents a number of proposals for amendments to the Constitution, along with a few ideas of how we might go about getting the states to petition Congress for a Constitutional Convention, the likes of which we haven’t had in centuries. It’s an easy read, and includes some research done on how the public has reacted to these proposals in surveys.

The proposals are interesting, and cover all different parts of government. There are ideas that hit all branches, as well as the public at large. Universal Service is one I have long advocated for, but there are others, like a 6-8 year Presidential term and an expanded Congress along with limits for judges that make sense.

If you are interested in this country, and how we might change it, it’s worth a read. I didn’t agree with all proposals, and I doubt anyone would, but they do make you think.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


The best sermons are lived, not preached.

- Cowboy Wisdom.

Training Camp

Broncos training camp opened today. It’s exciting to think about another season of football, and doubly exciting to have #18 on our team. I thought I’d run down there early, watch a bit and then come home. I’ve gone on opening day, which is usually a little busy, and sometimes on other days. Practice at 8:50 usually, and if I arrive around 9, usually the main lot is just filling up.

Today I left the house at 7:30, arriving before 8 at Dove Valley. The main lot was full and people were starting to park on the side street across from the facility and the park. I walked in, in a line (that’s never happened) and then saw the inside was packed. The west hill was full, as was most of the South hill, which is rarely open.

I sat under a tree, checking email and reading some links for work. Then at 8:45 a cheer went up as Peyton Manning walked out. He looks good in dark blue and orange.


I watched about 40 minutes of drills, not much at first, but then the teams started running through drills. 7 on 7 with the offense, with the four QBs taking turns, then just the QB and receivers/backs doing throws. Peyton looked strong with his throws, almost all of them on the money, hitting people I stride, in the right places. He wasn’t rushed, or pushing.


Nothing too long, nothing too strong, but he looks good. For the first day, it means an optimistic look forward for the season.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I saw this:


I wrote this:

This post is a weak analogy, but entirely correct on the issue. If you, in your religion, want to protect it, do so inside your religion. The change being requested in government is that we simply codify decent human behavior and equal rights. It honestly, and apologies in advance, has fuck all to do with your religion.

Elevation Volleyball

Kendall started a new volleyball league a few weeks ago. It’s Elevation Volleyball and it’s a program using a few high school coaches that run the girls through a tough routine.

Photo Jul 24, 4 48 25 PM

All the girls of all ages have a bit of a workout routine, and then a set of drills that keep the busy. Kendall struggled the first week, worked really hard the second week, and is enjoying it.

Photo Jul 24, 4 46 02 PM

Last night was her first set of games, with her team playing 2 matches. They only had 6 girls, so no one say, and they did really good in the first two games. They won by a mile as I kept score.

Photo Jul 24, 4 42 48 PM

The third one they struggled, missing lots of serves and lost. In the second match, they were up and down, but won all three again.

It’s exciting to watch them and I think Kendall has improved dramatically in a few weeks. She’s hitting the ball harder and learned some new skills like spiking and overhand serves.

I need to take a pad to the practice tomorrow and make notes. Got a few drills we need to add to our team in Parker, which I start coaching in two weeks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book # 55 - Galileo’s Daughter

31MEC5KyhBL._AA160_I picked Galileo’s Daughter up for free, along with Longitude and More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionised the Cosmos. Longitude was very interesting, and easy to read. This one was much harder, and moved slower. It’s also from a more ancient (1600s) time, and I think that was part of it.

The book somewhat follows Galileo’s career, but also the life of his daughter, who was cloistered in a nunnery. She was born out of wedlock and at that time, it was very hard to secure a husband for her, so she entered the nunnery. She followed her father’s progress through life as a mathematician and author who came under fire from the church. Along with the narrative of the events, we see a number of letters of hers that survive.

I have to admit I struggled with this book. The first half was very hard to read, and I picked it up and put it down numerous times as I worked on it over months. It’s tough to read, for me at least, but if you’re interested in Galileo and how the church viewed the world, it’s interesting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Absolutely Excellent

Made me laugh. Because it's true.

How to Suck at Your Religion

Opting out of Social Security

I've been following a few debates over at the GOPPlatform2012 site, where they are looking for ideas and arguments about how the platform for the party should change. I was a Republican as I left high school, somewhat switched to the Democratic party with Clinton, but have leaned towards the Libertarians in the new millennium.

However I try to follow both major parties more as they shape our country. Without a lot of people thinking, and talking, more about politics, I'm not sure the Libertarians will come to power in any significant numbers in the near future.

One of the debates is on opting out of Social Security/Medicare. I supported this as a college kid, thinking obviously I could do better than social security. As a middle-aged adult, I'm not so sure, and more importantly, I'm not sure most people can. Financial planning is hard, and it's not something most people do well. While I think those that do it poorly should perhaps retire poorly, I don't think anyone should retire without anything, and I don't want people going homeless at age 80 because they didn't save enough. By the time you know what's "enough", it can be too late.

We are frail as humans, fraught with inconsistencies, short-sightedness, and an astounding lack of discipline. Diet marketers make millions a year because of the latter. In the Christian world, we absolve people of sin, not accepting it, but allowing for the fact that people make mistakes. People are imperfect, and they can't be condemned for a single mistake.

In terms of retirement and healthcare I believe people will make mistakes. More will than won't, and while a small safety net is good, I think some structure around forced savings ought to be included here. Call it a tax, call it a framework that requires you to save xx% of your income and self-direct it through certain investments, but I think the idea of SS/Medicare are good. We can make it better, but we can't eliminate it, and I think allowing people to opt out, who think they are smarter than the system, will lead to more problems than it will eliminate.

Working Hard

Tia didn't want to lift today, but I did, and Delaney did, so we convinced her to come do upper body. A hard hour, and hard work by me, but it felt great afterwards.

I love exercising.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


No errors at first, but 3 errors by me. In the same inning. Ugh. The kind of game that makes you want to skip the rest of the season. Two Ks (first and 3rd bats) and a long fly in the middle. A grounder at third that I made a play on, but most of the game I played second.

In the 4th or 5th, there was a grounder to me (1 on) and I was ready to start the double play. I yipped and pulled up just as the ball got to me, leaving it on the ground. I then paused, and missed the chance to get the guy at first. The next play was a grounder to third, throw to me at second, and I pulled the glove too soon, letting it glance off my right hand and roll to the edge of the grass.  A pop up a few plays later, behind first that should have been infield fly, but the umpire says I couldn't get to it. It bounced about a foot and a half in front of me. I should have gotten it, but looked at the first baseman, worried we'd collide.


A month layoff was no good for me. I need to get some swinging practice in, since I didn't see the ball great. Need some grounders first. A mess of a game. Not just me as we ended up getting 10-runned in 7 innings.

Ugh. Time to forget and move on.

More Gun Control?

A tragedy in Colorado Thursday night/Friday morning. Twelve people killed, and 58 or so wounded, most with gunshots as a crazy killer shot up a movie theater during the Dark Night Rises premiere. It's nuts, and I don't know what we do from here. There are any number of complaints about gun control, as well as counter arguments against it, in CO. Our governor in Colorado, who was shaken at a press conference Friday, refuses to call for more gun control laws.

I have to admit I'm somewhat torn here. I don't think that assault weapons are to blame for this. It's the actions of a crazy person. A loner, whose mother wasn't surprised. That alone is a little scary, and it makes me agree with my wife that perhaps we should be de-stigmatizing the idea of mental health counseling, and watching people that are extreme loners or maladjusted and getting them help early on. I'm not sold it would have prevented this, though maybe it would have delayed things. Hard to tell, and I'm not making a judgment until we know more about what happened.

However despite my thoughts that we should not be preventing the sale of guns to people, perhaps we should be examining sales a bit more. I'm a data guy, and I know there are patterns to be found. This guy bought 4 weapons in 60 days (or something like that). I know there are legitimate reasons to do that, but should more than 2 purchases (or even 2) trigger some response from somewhere?

He bought thousands of rounds of ammunition. That along with a large capacity magazine, and the timing, should probably have raised an alarm. I think there are legitimate reasons to need thousands of rounds. I might be stocking up from a sale. I might be buying because I'm taking 50 Scouts camping at a range and they'll be shooting. There might be other reasons, but in no way should I be offended if the local sheriff comes and asks me why. I ought to have a reason, and most of them should satisfy the officer, and we can both go on our ways. If I can't satisfy him, perhaps the sheriff has some right to confiscate things, but there needs to be a clear appeal process, not involving the law enforcement groups, that allows owners to recover their weapons in a timely manner.

But I might be crazy, I might act very strangely. I dislike the idea of being accused of a crime without committing one, but I also dislike the idea of letting violence go because no one wants to intrude on a right to privacy, which I'm not sure applies here.

Weapons are a fact of life. They're listed in our Constitution, and I do think we ought to be able to own, collect, use, and carry them. I don't like the idea of everyone carrying a gun everywhere, but I also think that's not necessarily a bad thing. I do think that the right to bear arms isn't unconditional, and there is a level of responsibility in owning them. If you're responsible, and not a criminal, then any questions about unusual purchases shouldn't be a problem to answer. If you're a criminal, perhaps a small check or red flag might alert police to potential problems.

There's no perfect solution here, and I don't think less guns prevent problems like this, but perhaps a little more intelligence applied to the data can help.

An Exciting Finish

I'm not big on watching golf. I used to love playing it, and may again one day, but right now it's too much time for too little exercise for me. Other things I'd rather do.

However when Tiger's in contention, I'm interested. Watched him win a few years ago at the US Open after surgery, watched him in a few other tournaments when he was in the lead. Today I knew he was close, but when I'd turned on the TV, he'd fallen back to -3, 6 shots off the lead with 6 to play.

So I watched a recorded show on the DVR, and then was about to go run. As I turned off the show and saw the British Open, I saw that Els (who was 3 back with 3 to play when I started) was tied with Scott. Seemed like a collapse in the making and lots of drama, so I watched. Els was done, and Scott had dropped the ball in a bunker, about 150yds from the pin. I saw him come out and then make a great shot to about 10-12 feet away.

I changed into running clothes and put contacts on, waiting for his putt for par. In and it's a playoff, and without Tiger, I'm not interested. Miss and he loses, bogeying 4 of the last 4 holes, and Els wins.

Els wins, a little anticlimactic, but still an exciting shot to see Scott try.

If Tiger can't win, the tournaments need more close finishes, though I don't know if that will help. Maybe if someone else can win 2-3 majors in the next two years they'll be a new person to root for.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Horsey Mailbox

I got up early, partially from a full bladder (getting old sucks) and partially a dog that kept barking. I made coffee, had a cup and checked work, and then headed out to feed horses. My sister-in-law had filled water and mucked last night, and the hay didn’t fall apart, so feeding went quickly.

With some time, I decided to work on Tia’s horsey mailbox. It took about 40 minutes, though I’d set some wood aside the other day and done a rough measure of the design. I cut and screwed things today, and got it together.

Photo Jul 20, 10 18 10 AM

Looks pretty good. I think she’ll like it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


In trying to give the kids some chores this summer, we're asking them to take care of little things. I've had the kids taking turns watering the garden while Tia's gone, and Kendall helped me feed last night. Today I was busy, and told Delaney to cook, and he did. He made quesadillas for himself and Kendall.

Then it was back to his desk to eat :)

Kendall wasn't much better, spending the afternoon playing games and using Facetime with a friend. I'm trying to get them to move more, and they don't complain, which is good. They're also doing some chores as needed to help me out around the house.

Tonight I got Delaney to feed the barn cats, which was nice. I didn't want to do it.

Elevation Volleyball

Practice #2 for Kendall. Tia took her last week while I was in London, and apparently it was really hard. Like tears hard. Kendall never wanted to go back when she was done. However by Sunday, when I returned, she was fine, and Monday was disappointed there was no Tuesday game this week.

Today I took her, leaving a bit early so we were on time. We were early, but one coach showed up and had two girls practicing. They did some overhand serving, and I was surprised how well Kendall did. It was actually pretty amazing how hard she hit the ball. I was impressed.

They did bump and set drills, a few of which I need to steal for the other league. It was neat to see them moving around, and Kendall was working. Red-faced, sweating, but smiling and doing well. She was still a bit confused by some drills, but it was neat to see her working so hard.

I'd have taken pictures, but Delaney confiscated my phone, so he could read. Can't complain about that.

Book #54 - Triggers

This sounded interesting at the library, so I grabbed Triggers, but didn't take it with me to London. I was looking for something else last night and picked it up. It's written by the guy that wrote FlashForward (which became a TV show). I noticed that near the end, and it made sense with the strange sci-fi nature of the book.

The President is shot at a speech. He's brought to a hospital where they try to save his life. At the same time a scientist is working on a laser treatment to erase memory from a PWSD patient, a veteran of the Afghanistan war. A bomb explodes, destroying the White House, emitting an EMP, and causing power to fade in the hospital briefly as the President's heart stops. When he awakes, he realizes he can read someone else's thoughts. Actually, there are 21 people within 32 feet of the scientist's machine (in all directions) that are affected. They form a chain of people reading each other's memories.

It's a neat idea, one that makes you think. It's a story not to far in the future, where terrorist acts have taken place all over, including the US where the Sears Tower, Golden Gate bridge, and Liberty Bell have fallen victim before the White House. That's important as it colors some of what happens in the story. It's a very neat look at a possible future, one that I hope doesn't come true.

Worth reading. I want to find a few more of his books.

New Fan

Worked great last night.

Photo Jul 19, 10 10 23 AM

Actually was a touch chilly and I turned it off at 2am.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bike Riding

Delaney had a good time riding bikes Sunday night with the family and wanted to go again. So we planned to pack up this afternoon and head out. A slightly late start getting things together and me finishing work, but the kids loaded the carrier on the car and got things ready so I could work a touch longer.

We drove down to Parker, with the intention of running first. Trying to get Delaney in shape for cross country, so we set out on a mile jog. Kendall joined us briefly, but gave up quickly and walked back. Delaney struggled a bit, but finished strong.

Then we started riding. We headed North on the Cherry Creek trail, getting almost back to our old neighborhood in Chenango. Three and a half miles of riding up before we stopped, had a break and some water and turned around.

Photo Jul 18, 6 25 04 PM

Delaney was leading the way and doing well, but Kendall struggled a bit. We stopped a few times, went slow, and she was working hard. I told her at one point we could go ahead and get the car and bring it back about a mile closer, but she’d have to ride alone and wait for us there. She declined.

Photo Jul 18, 6 25 41 PM

When we got back to the rec center together, she decided to keep going and pushed along, finishing strong herself. Afterwards we went and had some dinner before the kids got a little frozen yogurt

Photo Jul 18, 7 32 34 PM

A nice night out with my little kids.

A Hot Day

It's hot today. I didn't think much of it when I got up and had a conference call, enjoying my coffee. After that, at 10, I had to go feed horses. I walked outside, and then loaded hay into the ATV and drove it out there. I got back and I was sweating. It's reading 84F, but it's hot.

Fortunately it will cool tonight. We get our whole house fan installed today and that should make a huge difference at night.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Balancing Work and Life

Too many people pay lip service to this. I had a friend remind me of this today, with a story of his boss not letting him. Someone else reminded me that I do a good job of this, based on my Twitter feed ;)

So I'm taking advantage of this. Gone last week, traveling Sun, gone Sat, I'm going to break a little early today and get the kids to the pool.

The Shadow

Monday, July 16, 2012

Back Home

And glad to be here. It was a short, but long trip to the UK. Felt like one long day that mixed speaking, talking, running, and napping.

Went to bed a little early last night, up late today (9:0am), so I’m not sure what time zone I’m on, but fortunately I’m in the Denver one.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book #53 - Redshirts

Possibly the craziest science fiction story I've ever read. Redshirts was completely unlike anything I expected, even as I got into the book. A new ensign, assigned to the fleet's flagship, soon realizes something is wrong. People are constantly getting killed on away missions.

He investigates, and runs into an amazing theory, which I don't want to share, but it had me smiling and chuckling a few times as I got halfway into the book. If you like sci fi, and want something that's not too serious, give this a try.

Book #52 - The King of Swords

Book two after Night of the Assassin, the King of Swords picks up the story. Another amazing killing, and then a little different back story on El Rey, the King of Swords assassin. It's consistent with the prequel, but from a slightly different view that tells us more about him.

That's only a part of the book. The rest of the lead cop in Mexico tasked with controlling the cartels gets wind of a plot to kill the Presidents of Mexico and the US, who will be together in Cabo. No other groups thinks he has any evidence, so he must work to try and find out information and foil the plot.

The book alternates between El Rey and the cop, both working to complete their mission. It's an exciting end, but open ended. We'll see these characters again.

Book #51 - Night of the Assassin

I loved the John Rain series from Barry Eisler, and I thought I'd try something else. Night of the Assassin is a prequel to another series, the Kind of Swords. It's not usually the type of book I read, but it captured my interest and I had a hard time putting it down.

Mexico has become a land of cartels, which have become crazy rich. The leaders are men earning tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a month. They pay their protection well, and as a result the men are loyal, and brutal. There are regular killings and wars, with deaths creating power vacuums.

This is a look back book. An assassin makes an amazing kill at the beginning, and then we go back to the point when he was the son of a cartel leader, learning to be a man. Growing up as a teenager, being mentored and taught to control his body, become a warrior, and be strong. The book follows his life, and then his turn into an assassin for hire, the best in the world.

It's exciting, and action packed, but also a little gruesome at times. Not graphic, but detailed enough descriptions of how bad people are treated sometimes made me a little ill in places. Definitely it made me not want to travel outside the US into Mexico anymore. It's fiction, but somewhat disturbing.


And glad to be back, even if was traveling for 14 hours.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

SQL in the City - London 2012

The kick off of the 2012 SQL in the City tour yesterday. Back at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, this time staying in the hotel that's a part of the complex. That seemed like it might be stuffy, but with Hyde Park and Regent's Park both about  6.-.7mi away, and the weather being nice in the am, it's been OK.

I ran both mornings, today with my CEO, and had a good start to the day.

Yesterday I was a bit nervous about my talks, both of which were new. I had done a version of one last month in Pensacola, but I'd changed and added things for this event, and I was hoping I'd fill the time, and have things go smoothly.

I was in the middle of the day, just before lunch, and just after, so I had a little time to watch other talks, and to go over my talks in my head again. I'd rehearsed both a few times this week at home, and on Thur after I arrived, so I felt fairly confident.

Both went well. I was in the large room, with lots of people attending. They listened, but the British audiences tend to be a little more reserved.

Only a couple minor script issues, mostly because I wasn't completely paying attention as I was running  them, trying to talk through the process.

My second talk was one I didn't love, but I got pushed into doing on the new AlwaysOn technology. I skirted that a bit, since it's rather complex, and I didn't want to do a demo that broke, and I'm not completely comfortable with it. I had warned my boss and the organizer that I'd like to change that one for the US part of our tour, but apparently people enjoyed it, so I may be stuck with it. Not the worst problem to have.

The event was good, things ran smoothly, and I people had fun. Lots of talking, and I was beat by dinner. I think that's why I had two glasses of wine and ate appetizers, blowing the diet. I'd been good all day, and hungry, and was worn out.

Today is free day, so I'll enjoy the day, have a few beers and head to Heathrow tonight, ready to go home in the morning.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book #51 - Trial Junkies

A free thriller I grabbed, Trial Junkies was rated highly, so I gave it a chance. It's not bad, perhaps a little predictable and the writing is so-so, but I enjoyed it over the last week.

A former movie/TV star comes home when one of his friends from college is murdered. He had a circle of 7 or 8 friends that lived together for years, and it's his former girlfriend that was killed. He returns from the funeral, and as he starts to catch up, one of the group is arrested.

The book is mostly from the point of view of the star, interacting with his friends, emotional, and it feels real, but isn't written great. It doesn't lose you in the story, but it's not bad. The plot isn't great, and it lacks some of the uncertainty that some great reads have, which almost seems to lead you along a different path with a twist. This one has a twist, but not a great one.

Still, if you like legal thrillers and mysteries, this one is a cheap, and enjoyable, read.

Regent's Park

Despite living here, despite being near the park with the family a few years ago, I don't think I've ever been in the park until today. Someone suggested it and Regent's is slightly (.1 or .2mi) closer to my hotel than Hyde Park, so I planned a run there this morning. I was thinking to walk over and run in the park, but was really tired this am. Jet lag catching up, so I started jogging on the way, and didn't get to the zoo, but I did get to the park.

I turned left when I got near instead of right, which would have been better. I ended up running along the outside for a bit until I reached a point near a bridge to turn in and then cruised along the outside of the park. It was nice, especially when reaching the fountains and running through that no-dog section of the park. I would have liked to spend more time there, but work calls and I was slightly worried about exhausting myself with another day of talking tomorrow.

A great morning run, jacket and hat not needed, and I'm looking forward to cruising over there tomorrow and running through to the zoo before the event.

No BFL run in the city today, just a nice jog that I enjoyed.

Eating in London

A bit of a struggle to eat on Body for Life in central London. Most restaurants are a bit pricey and I don't want to hit them every two hours. After landing, I subsisted on coffee, water, and 3 bars for the early part of the day. A quick nap made me feel better, along with a run, and then it was time to find food.

I was tempted by a McDonalds, seeing a big ad in the window for a grilled chicken sandwich, but I saw a Pret a little further on and wandered in there. It's supposed to be fresh made food, wrapped in plastic every day in coolers. I saw a similar display in a Marks and Spencer in Cambridge earlier this year, and have wanted to check one out. For 9 pounds, about what a meal would cost in any of the restaurants I passed on Oxford Street, I ended up grabbing:

  • chicken chorizo and butterbean soup
  • a half ham sandwich on multi-grain
  • a chicken, yogurt, avacado and lettuce sandwich on wheat.
That isn't quite true. These are British equivalents, not what I'd normally expect in America. However it's two meals for me, even with a small diet coke tossed in.

Soup and the half sandwich for now, the other sandwich saved for later.


It's been a heat wave in the US. Last year when I was in London for this event, it was hot as well, so I'm not sure what I was thinking when I packed. I even saw the forecast was for rain. I grabbed a light windbreaker for running, but didn't think about anything else.

Walking around this morning wasn't bad, and my run was nice, but it started raining when I want to get food. It was chilly, and with rain forecast, I knew I'd be struggling for the next two days. As I was looking for food, I saw a sporting goods/shoe store with some sweatshirts on display and wandered in.

I didn't want to spend a lot, but I needed something. With the Olympics coming, lots of choices, though not too many in XXL. I managed to grab a subdued zip up hoodie on the clearance rack for a reasonable price and grabbed it.

Now I should survive London in July.

Back in Hyde Park

After a 3 hour nap, I got up to go run this afternoon in London. I'm at The Royal Society of Medicine, about 3/4 of a mile from Hyde Park. When I lived here in college, I used to run through the park 4-5 times a week and was looking forward to going back on this trip. A short walk over there and then a Body for Life run.

It was nice to go through, and I ran along the North side, getting down to the Bayswater tube stop, which was where I used to enter the park. A short jog down memory lane on the path through the park before turning back.

Nice to be back there, hoping I get the chance to run there the next two days.

Book #50 - The Bourne Legacy

After I read The Bourne Ultimatum recently, I was looking for the next book in the series at the library. I found The Bourne Legacy, which is written by Eric Lustbader instead of Ludlum.

I wondered where the series might go. In this one we find Bourne lured to Conklin's house, where he finds Alex and Mo dead, killed by someone. As he's processing this, police are arriving, and he must disappear. He knows he's been set up and is on the run. As he's trying to escape, Khan, an international assassin attacks him, but they manage to turn the tables on each other and separate.

The writing is definitely more modern here, and different. Bourne is more logical, and the flow is smoother, less distracted. The last book by Ludlum was choppy, almost frantic and panic'd in the writing at times. This one is easier to follow and move on.

We find Bourne on the run, a worldwide sanction against him, and he must evade the CIA as he makes his way to Paris and then Budapest. Meanwhile there is a Hungarian humanitarian that is backing a Chechan terrorist group for some reason, planning on releasing a biological weapon at a peace summit in Iceland. As the tales wind in the book, we have the terrorists, Bourne, and Khan chasing one another and doing battle.

Khan's relationship with Bourne is complex and it's one that develops in each of their minds throughout the book. It's an interesting read, and I enjoyed it, but was a little thrown by the fact that Bourne doesn't seem to feel his age in this one, when he did in the last one. A little inconsistency, but it makes me wonder what will happen in the next book.

Starbucks in London

No cell service, an early (6:40am) arrival, and not completely prepared. I'd checked my reservation and looked at a map before I left, but I didn't have the actual reservation because the iPhone doesn't have forwarded, attached emails downloaded by default. Surprise, surprise when I got into the terminal and was looking for the exact address of my hotel. To top it off, I didn't have a pen in my bag (an oversight I've made a note of).

Fortunately a nice lady let me borrow a pen and I included a partial address on my immigration form, which worked fine for the border patrol agent. I couldn't remember the exact tube stop to take, but Oxford Circus was close. I was thinking Bond Street, but didn't see it on the map right away, so I went to Oxford Circus. Fortunately there are maps near the underground and I oriented myself for the Royal Society of Medicine. As I came down Margaret Street towards Wimpole, wanting coffee at 8:30am, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Starbucks, the same Starbucks I'd sat outside of last year with a friend after the event.

Properly oriented, I went inside, got coffee, had a bar, and sat down to work a bit. I still have some stuff to get done today before I can relax and prep for the event.

A long trip from Denver, via Houston, but one that worked out fine. The plane was OK, and at least I had Plus seating. It's not as nice a plane as Air Canada, but I had more leg room, which was nice. Not much sleep on the plane, so I know this afternoon will be hard.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Climbing

I finally got the pictures off the camera. A few more of Delaney climbing











Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Almost Ready to Travel

I rehearsed presentations today, copied stuff to drives, and am in the process of double checking my list and getting things packed into bags. Tomorrow am, a quick run and then off to the UK.

Book #49 - Third Down and a War To Go

51qsRlMsnXL._AA115_Part tribute to his father, and part historical look at the 1942 Wisconsin Badgers football team, Terry Frei takes us back to the middle of World War II in Third Down and a War To Go. Terry is a local sportswriter in the Denver area and I heard him talk about this book on the air, and decided to read it.

His father was on that team, nothing special in there, but left to serve in the Air Force during WWII, eventually coming home to become a coach at various levels, including the Denver Broncos. His son went to track down the story of that team after his father passed, writing this story of the team, which exceeded the expectations of the time, had a great season, even as many of the boys were preparing to go to war. Many of them did, and some didn’t come back.

It’s a look at the world from sports, but with the idea that sports is only a part of life. Those boys loved football, and were invested in having a great season (including beating Ohio St), but also were planning on leaving school and entering the service. Many of them had signed up for the reserves once Pearl Harbor was attacked, and after the 1942 season, many were gone until some came back in 1946.

It’s inspiring, and admirable, though the writing is a bit flat. I know this is more history than drama, but it could use a little more excitement. It definitely evoked emotion near the end, as some of the men died and didn’t return. Their deaths have been carried through the years by those that did come back.

A read I enjoyed, and one that made me remember that there are many more important things in life than work, or school, but especially sports.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Free Day

Yesterday was free day from the diet for us. Tia had a long drive home, not arriving until 4 or 5am, so she was beat. I was ready to get up and enjoy the day. First thing, get up and eat some granola with blueberries. The diet limits sugar and carbs, so I was looking forward to this breakfast.

When Tia did get up, she wanted some KFC chicken. Her Dad was coming over, and she called for him to stop by there. He did and came by with a bucket of chicken that Delaney and she enjoyed for lunch. I had a biscuit and a piece of a leg, but it was so greasy, I struggled to eat much. The diet is already affecting me.

From there I didn’t really have lunch. I went for a fun, and then it was off to a party with all the volleyball parents and girls. It was at one of the teammate’s house and we’ve had a few parties there. Only 5 families came, but we ended up with a good time, with some mixed volleyball on a sunny day and a few drinks.

I sat inside for a bit, eating (too many) chips and guacamole, chatting with other parents. It was great, and I had a few margaritas and a burger. By the end I felt that I had enjoyed free day quite a bit.

Home, bed, and waking up at night with a touch of a headache and a little dehydrated. Water all night, with some ibuprofen, and I felt better this morning.

Now another week of eating carefully, which will be a bit of a challenge as I fly to London and spend two days there before I can enjoy some meals on Saturday.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Book #48 - Why Capitalism

I picked Why Capitalism? up at the library, from conservative economist Allan Meltzer. It's an interesting look at our capitalist system, how it differs from socialism and the practices in the rest of the world. It's a new book, talking up through events in 2011, and rather fascinating.

The more I read it, the more I agreed that we are in a crisis, though the author and I aren't sure when it will come to a head. However it's a problem and it's a problem from both liberals and conservatives, who have grown increasingly far apart and have allowed special interests to cause issues.

It's not too much of a political book, but it does make the case for very free markets, with some regulation, but regulation that is designed to punish based on actions, rather than set rules by unelected officials. The cigarette tax is an example. You are free to smoke, but it costs.

It's also interesting that only Eisenhower and Clinton ran surpluses, showing us that both the GOP and Democrats are to blame for our issues.

A Quiet, Stormy Night

It was a quiet night for us last night. A rainstorm blew in, and we all just hung out. Kendall getting home after dinner, and everyone watching some TV and relaxing. I read a bit, after braving the rainstorm to get groceries, return library books, and bring Delaney some food. It was a big storm in Parker, but just a nice rain here in the country.

Coming home did remind me that I needed to clean the windows. My front wipers were struggling in town, so I did a quick clean and Rain-X in the garage when I got home.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Relaxation and Chores

A bit of both this morning. First I was woken up by Uma around 7, but managed to lay in bed until the AC guy came at 8. While he did his check, I made coffee, read some email and news, and lounged a bit. I wasn't expecting good news from him and I was right. No coolant, likely leaks. He can run sealant in and charge the system for $500 or replace it for $3800. I declined both, sending him on his way and drank my coffee.

Then it was chore time. Feed the horses and fill the water, which was much easier with the ATV and a trailer behind it. I still had to mess with hay, and muck stalls, but it went relatively quickly. The tractor tire was low, so I filled that as Kendall left with friends  for a day of selling lemonade at the neighbor's workplace.

It was sunny, and I felt I should do something, so I did. First a quick sanding of the bench and a second coat of finish. It's looking good, but I definitely need to widen the legs slightly. Once that was done, clouds gave me some cover and I had no excuse, so I mixed some weed killer and sprayed a bunch of the driveway. I need to scrape it as well, and I'll get to that Monday or Tuesday, once the weeds die a bit. Probably need to pull a few.

Then a run. A quick one, and I feel good, not pushing too hard. Free day got moved to tomorrow, so I'm working out today, trying to convince Delaney to go lift with me.

Library this afternoon and then probably hanging out with kids tonight, taking it easy and waiting for Tia to get home.

Fixing Health Care

An excellent read, and one that makes sense to me. I think we need to do something, and while Obamacare isn’t necessarily the solution, or even a good one, it’s a step. I’m not in favor of the GOP loudmouths repealing it. They can replace it, but not just remove it.

I have seen various posts on health care, including this one comparing it to cars, which are all flawed arguments. Unfortunately nothing is really like health care. It’s unique in that we get one life, one body, and we can’t trade it in or replace it. It’s up to us to take care of it, something so few people seem to do.

The first link, Philip Grenspun’s take, makes the most senses to me. We ought to open up the market, remove some of the government impediments, but also provide a government framework. Universal health care makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is limited, or very low payments. The idea of collective bargaining for health care makes sense. What sucks is the government caved on the idea of dropping all citizens into one large pool for coverage (or a series of pools).

We ought to be the customers. We ought to have some ability to make decisions, shop around, and make our dollars go further. I don’t want anyone excluded from care because of any condition, and I don’t want treatment withheld, but I do want people to have to pay more when they want more care. At some point, if you’re too sick, we can’t cover everything.

As I’ve watched all the Obama tweets about the people helped by the ACA, I’m happy for them, but disappointed at the misleading messages. Some of these people had bad luck, some didn’t take care of themselves. Some need to pay a bit more of a price.

However it shouldn’t be $500k or more for some of the treatments we give. That’s outrageous. I see doctors making $1mm in salary, not because they work their asses off, but because they’re in a system that rewards them for their limited skills in a very limited market. One that has so many government (public) and insurance (private) rules that they can take advantage of it. To be clear, I do think doctors work their asses off, and most of them deserve to go through life making a good, even a top 5% living, without worrying about being sued to bankruptcy.

The whole system is a mess, and trying to fix one part without the rest is hard. I’d like to see some of Mr. Greenspun’s ideas moved forward, some of the stuff in TED talks moved forward, building a system that has compassion for the individual, and a sense of fairness in the economic sense, without a lot of the “closed market” abuse we have now with employment-based coverage and closed insurance companies. Limit legal awards, make insurance a personal asset, and lower all the red tape by implementing openness throughout the system.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Another Race

Tia left today, heading up to Wyoming for an endurance race tomorrow with a friend. She’ll race tomorrow and be back in the evening. Meanwhile, I have kids and horses today. I hope she does well, and I think she will, with a short 30 miler scheduled.

A fairly quiet day, with Kendall off to swim with the neighbors. Delaney went running with me and now it’s a low key night.


The IKEA store opened in Denver last year with packed crowds and my friends raving about the store. I wasn’t sure what the big deal was, but searching for a table of some sort that would support my keyboard at the standing desk, and Tia with a late horse lesson had me packing the kids in the car and taking a trip to see what all the hype was about.
After parking downstairs, and taking the escalator up, we were greeted by a desk display that creatively used a few elements to get Kendall excited.
Photo Jul 05, 6 09 29 PM
The store isn’t really like a traditional store, with sections and display and lots of aisles. Instead it’s really a winding path through different areas. A few shortcuts, but for the most part they lead you through different areas, allowing you to wander around.
We enjoyed it, and saw some cool stuff. Kendall is certain she needs a new desk, and pointed this trestle stand out. You can get this, and a top separately, and assemble it. I now see some of the DIY ideas of Ikea firsthand.

She’s also enamored with the idea of blue these days, and wanted a blue chair, lamp, desk, and more. I told her we’d talk about it, and see.
Photo Jul 05, 6 54 07 PM
At the end we ate in the restaurant, which was OK. Cafeteria style, with a mix of US and Swedish dishes. Caeser salads for Kendall and me, chicken tenders for Delaney. Not great, though we did try Lingonberrry tea (interesting and good) and Elderflower drink (weird). There was a self-service area to walk through for lots of assemble yourself stuff, similar to other stores, but this was a warehouse. There was also a supermarket where I was going to grab and try some Swedish chocolate, but there were only 4 self-service registers open, each with 20-30 people in line. No patience, so we left.
I’d like to go earlier, when more of the store is running and perhaps more interesting. I found a table that might work, though I need to re-measure and make sure. I wasn’t overwhelmed, and for the most part the styles are neat, but not great. I think I prefer American Furniture Warehouse in the Denver area.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Standing Up Experiment

Here’s my desk today:

Photo Jul 05, 9 34 25 AM

I wanted to try a stand up desk, with so many of my friends giving it a try, so I bought a monitor stand that would hold 4 monitors (up from my 2) and lift them up. However I had issues with my old desk, so I ended up in the basement.

Photo May 31, 4 31 55 PM

This was the first attempt, using my podcast desk, and having a stool nearby. It worked well, and I spent about 3 weeks down there, and realized I liked it. Life has been busy, but I decided yesterday to take some time and switch desks, moving the old one down, and the new one up reconnecting all the cables and cleaning the office a bit.

I’ve got my laptop there as well, for conference calls today. Now I just need to get a more permanent keyboard/mouse stand. The books and boxes work OK, but I want something there that will give me more space at hand level, and hold my coffee.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New Router

Our wireless router has been giving us fits lately, losing connections and causing issues. I suspect that it's just not built that well and after 2 years or so, it's dying. I did a little research this am, and then headed out to Best Buy since I had about $40 in credit from them.

None of the routers are rated really highly, which means to me they're all about the same. The Apple Extreme is rated well, but at $150, not sure I wanted to get that. As I looked at the DLink, Linksys (Cisco), Belkin, and Netgear, my eyes glazed a bit. One interesting thing is that most of these are just routers, not ADSL modems, which stopped me for a minute.

I decided that our old one seems to hold the ADSL connection fairly well, and if not, I have another one we can try there, which doesn't have great wireless either. In the end I decided that price mattered a touch and I wanted to try Belkin. We've had DLink and Netgear over the last few years, none better than any other.

I grabbed a NB600, which is supposed to have great wireless signals. At home we used Delaney's laptop with a CD drive to set it up and it connected quickly to our old router. I added new wireless networks, with passwords, and stuck them out there, leaving the old ones available for guests.

We'll see what happens. Not sold this will work, but fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book #47 - The Bourne Ultimatum

A re-read for me, but one from 20 years ago. This is the third Bourne installment, The Bourne Ultimatum, and in this one Carlos is tracking him again. Conklin and Pavov are set up, almost killed, and they start to set things in motion. Bourne sends his family to see Marie's brother in Martinique while he retreats into his Bourne persona.

The book is slow to start, lots of drama, of hints and partial ideas at the beginning. Conklin and Bourne discover that Medusa from Saigon is still alive, though as a corporate entity that spans the globe. They try to use this to lure Carlos out. It somewhat works, but it has Bourne in between Medusa and Carlos throughout the book, always one step behind. Even the dramatic conclusion is really the result of someone other than Bourne acting.

The book is OK, not great, though I do want to read the Lustbader additions to the series. This one shows Bourne getting older, less confident, and less of Bourne as most of the book is with other characters, not so much in his head. Lots of references to the two previous books, so you want to read those first. I hadn't read either in years, so I struggled to recall a few of the details and references.

A Missed Day

We didn't lift weights last night, which was on the schedule. I ran late in the afternoon and then Tia was hungry, tired, and late with chores. I helped her get hay out, but by the time we had life settled, I was too tired to lift at 9:30. I think the run didn't help, so we skipped a day.

Today we're supposed to be back on track.

At least I ate well yesterday.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Not Much of a Free Day

Tia and I started the Body for Life program again on Wednesday. Our plan is usually to take Saturday off, since we often have plans, and so we only had 3 days of dieting before and open day. Yesterday I spent half the day with the Scouts, then some work around the house, and finally a dinner out with the family.

However I wasn't gorging myself. I didn't even feel the need to press much during the day. I had a burrito with the scouts and a brat since we were cooking out. When I got back, I ran and then had a heer while I sanded the bench down. When we went out, I had a Red Robin burger, fries, and a drink later, but not much of a free day.

I'm not sure if I've matured, or I'm coping better. Maybe I'm more relaxed at home and not being as strict as I should, but I've tried to stick to the diet, eating every 2-3 hours, and having smaller meals. I've definitely felt hungry, and weak sometimes, but not starving.

I'll keep an eye out, and try to cook a variety so this doesn't get stale, but the idea of being strict 6 days a week and then enjoying myself for one day makes some sense, mentally, and I'm coping much better than in the past.

Misc Fixes

A little outside work today. First some sanding on my bench, then putting a post in the ground and helping Tia hang a new fence charger, and then back to the first coat of finish on the bench. It's looking good. I think the legs might be a touch close together, but I can fix that later and move them if need be.

Then some rest, in the 95F weather.

Prius Maintenance

Slept in, but had to get up around 9 to make a 10am appointment for the Prius. I needed the oil change (badly, 7k miles) and a tire rotation. While I was there reading, they also found the serpentine belt needed placement, as did the air filter. I can handle the latter, but the belt I had them do. $160 later, the Prius is mostly looking good.

There's a weight sensor at the back that helps with braking, and it's broken, but it's an east replacement. Just need to find the part. I also got to look under while the guy had it in the air (he showed me the sensor) and I saw where I need to fix a couple of the guards for the bottom.