Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mission Day and Finnegan's First Hike!

My Team-in-Training Mission Day has come and gone and I have survived.  It was a hard run yesterday - the longest I will do until the day of the Canyonland's Half-Marathon on March 19th.  The day started early as I arrived at the site of our run around 7:30AM.  We were meeting at the Nazarene Church on Hampden in Southeast Denver.  The Nazarene Church backs to the Highline Canal which was the course that we would use for the run.

The first 30 minutes after I arrived was mainly spent in conversation with all my fellow team-in-training participants.  There were about 50 - 60 people there as it covered all the team-in-training teams from Metro Denver - including teams from as far away as Fort Collins and Colorado Springs.  The program got going around 8:00AM with a "mission moment".  The "mission moment" is a time when a team hero - usually a survivor of leukemia or lymphoma will get up and give a talk about what it means to them what we are doing raising money to fight for a cure.  Yesterday we had a total of six different speakers.  After that we went around the room and every person there had the opportunity to say who they were dedicating their efforts towards.  Of course I have dedicated my efforts to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to the memory of Patty - my late wife.

After all the motivational speeches and discussion it was time to hit the trail.  We set out on our run around 8:40AM.  My goal for the day was to run for 2 hour and cover at least 10 miles.  I definitely learned some lessons from Saturday's run.  The first is when I am bunched up with a large number of runners at the beginning of a run, I really tend to outpace myself in terms of the speed at which I want to run.  My plan for Canyonlands is to run around a 12:00 minute mile pace.  My first mile yesterday I ran a 10:30 minute mile - which was just too quick.  The second lesson I learned is I really need to watch my hydration status going into the race.  I started the run yesterday already dehydrated.  I had done nothing to specifically hydrate myself for Saturday and I think I had a fair bit of salt in my meals on Friday - so I went into my 10 mile run dehydrated and I definitely paid the price.

At my turnaround point I was definitely feeling the effects of not being properly hydrated.  I really felt like I was going to puke and my legs felt like lead.  After I turned around I decided that I just had to walk for a while.  I ended up walking for about half a mile before I felt like I could run again.  I managed to carry on about a 14 minute pace for the remainder of my way back to the starting point at the Nazarene Church.  In the end run I covered 10.1 miles in a little bit over 2 hours.  I met my goal but I did feel a little disappointed that I ended up walking for part of the run.  At first I felt really bad about it and felt like an epic failure but after I thought about it I realized I still accomplished something pretty darn good - I still made my 10 miles.  And how many people do something like that on their typical Saturday - not too many!  Regardless I learned a lot of good lessons for race day that I plan to put into action!

The rest of Saturday was spent doing some things around the house and being a bit lazy as I was tired from my run.  We did manage to get out for dinner on Saturday night with my brother and his family.  We went to one of my favorite places - Ted's Montana Grill - yum!

This morning brought a new experience for us.  We decided today was the first day to get Finnegan out for a hike.  Now that he is "street legal" (i.e. all his shots are in order and his immunity is where it is supposed to be) we can take him anywhere.  Our hike today was a low-key hike as we headed to the wetlands at Chatfield State Park.  This hike was totally flat and meandered through all the different ponds and small lakes where the South Platte River enters Chatfield Reservoir.

The following pictures are some of the cute ones I took of Zack and Finn while we stopped at a pavilion along the hike.

The rest of the day has been spent doing all those things that you need to do to keep the house running - laundry, grocery shopping and other fun chores.

I hope everyone has a great week a head!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Strategy Dinner and Mission Saturday

My Leukemia Lymphoma Society team in training event is rapidly approaching.  As of tomorrow I am only 3 weeks away from the Canyonlands Half-Marathon.  As the event is approaching the number of team-in-training events that are taking place are rapidly picking up.

This evening we had our Run Strategy Dinner at the Liquid Coffee House in Denver.  The purpose of this dinner was to assemble our entire team and talk through all strategies that we needed to follow to make our race days a success.  Our team captain Colin did a presentation of all the things to do and all the things not to do in the remaining 3 weeks before race day.  With tomorrow morning's run we will run the longest distance in preparation for our races.  After that, we are on a "taper" until the race day itself.  The taper is the time right before the race in which we give our bodies time to heal and relax before the race itself.  Tomorrow's run will stress our bodies the most at any point right besides race day itself.  After tomorrow - it's time for rest!

It is actually kind of funny to see all the people who you run with outside of their running clothes.  We are all used to seeing each other all bundled up to keep warm while we have run in the cold winter weather.  We are use to seeing each other with snot dripping from our noses and sweat pouring down our faces.  Tonight for a change we got to see each other looking normal and not all worn out from running.  That was definitely an interesting experience because it is actually hard to recognize some of the people.

Tomorrow's run is called our "Mission Day".  Before our run we will remember the people who we are running our races for and do some final discussion of race strategy.  Once we start our runs tomorrow we will run as close to the pace we hope to run on race day as possible.  Basically tomorrow is a dress rehearsal for our actual runs on race day.  The run will start early tomorrow.  Normally we start our runs at 8:30AM, tomorrow we will begin at 7:45AM because of the distances that we will cover.  I am one of the luckily ones in the fact that I will only run for 2 hours as I am only doing a half-marathon.  My teammates who are running the LA and Paris Marathons will run for 4 hours.  That is a lot of running!!

It was special to have today be our strategy day as I am running the race in memory of Patty.  Today would have been Patty's 47 birthday if she were still alive.  I am trying to figure out a way to run my race on March 19th with a photo of Patty with me.  It will motivate me and inspire me to run well.  Hopefully I can figure out a way to do that.

Not much else to say for the day.  Tomorrow is all about the run.  I am planning on actually doing more than 2 hours.  I think I am going to run for 2.5 hours and then hang around and welcome my teammates back as the come back from their 4 hour runs.  So much of the day will be spent doing that.  I think once I get home I am going to be tired, so it might be a good day for Zack and I just to hang around home.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend so far!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


In the time I have been writing this blog I have occasionally, indicated the company that for whom I work.  Often I just refer to it as "my employer", but sometimes I spell it.  I work for IBM.  I have been part of IBM since 2002 when my previous employer - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Consulting was acquired by IBM. PWC Consulting was the consulting division of the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers. We were spun off as a result of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002.  The Sarbanes Oxley act required accounting companies to maintain independence from the companies that they audited - which meant they couldn't do consulting work for them.  Given this law we were spun off to pursue better opportunities in the market place. 

Though the acquisition resulted in most of the people with whom I worked being laid off or quitting, the acquisition was a good thing, as PWC was considering spinning off the consulting division into it's own company that was to be called "Monday".  (Dear God - who in their right mind came up with that name!  We would have failed right out of the gates because of that name!)

I mention all of this because of the TV event that is happening this week on the game show Jeopardy.  This week a supercomputer developed by IBM - code named Watson, is competing against the all time most winning human players.  This is actually very scary when you start to think about it.  What this means is that "Watson" is able to effectively think and process information in direct competition against humans.  This isn't the simple task of executing millions, billions or trillions of computations in second, this is almost like thought.  "Watson" is able to interpret the questions, analyze what is being asked, search through it's "memory", decide what fact in it's "memory" is correct and then articulate the answer it has arrived at.

"Watson" is a very amazing supercomputer.  It's technical specs will leave any geek with their jaw scraping the floor in amazement.  Here are the basics of what makes up "Watson"
  • 90 IBM Power 750 servers enclosed in 10 racks
  • 16 Terabytes of memory
  • A 2,880 processor core
  • Linux operating system
  • Watson is estimated to have cost $1-$2 billion
  • Uses "DeepQA": a technology that enables computer systems to directly and precisely answer natural language questions over an open and broad range of knowledge
Bottom line - that is one amazingly powerful computer.  But the sick thing is...  give it a few years and that processing power will be available on a device the size of a smart phone of today.

So what's the point of all this?  The point is critical thinking intelligence is no longer going to be limited to human beings.  With the advent of "Watson" and the computers that will inevitably follow in the wake of "Watson", we will need to deal with a whole new class of sentient beings - computers.  This is one of the scariest thoughts my mind has processed.  It will effect all of us, because in the future there will be a second group of "organisms" on this planet that possess human like levels of intelligence or greater.  How will we deal with our creations?  How will we keep them in check?  Someone better start thinking about all of this cause in 20 - 30 years we will be dealing with it.  Hopefully it will all come out better than the situation in the Terminator movies - when "SkyNet" decided that humans weren't the best alternatives for this planet.  Don't laugh...  because at some point that critical thinking power will be sentient and start making decisions for it's best interests.

In the end run, I feel proud that my company is at the forefront of these developments.  I just hope that as we employ the computer scientists and programmers who have made "Watson" a reality, we are also employing the philosophers and ethics thinkers who will give "Watson" and it's descendants morality.

Just a few freaky thoughts for this day after Valentines Day!  I hope everyone had a great V-Day yesterday.  I shared my Valentines Day with Shelly and we had a wonderful evening going to dinner and just hanging out together.  It was fantastic.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Emergency Room Saturday

Some years it seems that every flu, cough or cold that comes along plays a visit at our house.  This is truly one of those years.  Friday night started out pretty nicely as Zack got to bed at 8:30PM and then Shelly came to over to watch a movie with me on Netflix.  The movie was really good  - it was the 3rd movie in series based upon Steig Larsen's "Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" books.  However around 11:00PM, there was commotion upstairs.  I heard a giant "thump" and then the sounds of running.  It was of course Zack.  He had jumped out of bed and made a head long dash to the bathroom.  You can imagine where this is going.....

It turned out that Zack was sick as a dog and had woken from a sound sleep to coat his room in vomit.  And by coating his room in vomit - I truly mean it.  He had puked everywhere!  Once he was done throwing up in the bathroom and I got him cleaned up and lying down on the couch in the family room, I set to cleaning up his room.  It was very nasty and it me about 30 minutes to get everything in state in which I had things cleaned up, had clean sheets on the bed and had him lying down to go back to sleep.

Unfortunately, this was not a one time event.  Over the next 7 hours Zack proceed to puke at least 7 or 8 more times.  It got to the point where there was absolutely nothing left in his system to puke out and he could only heave up small amounts of bile.  He was looking so bad that at 6:00AM we decided he needed to go to the hospital to get re-hydrated and get some medicine to stop the vomiting.

We took him to Skyridge hospital in Lonetree and thankfully their ER was pretty dead.  As soon as we got checked in they got him into a room and we had a nurse come in.  It only took about 20 minutes until a doctor came in to see us.  The doctor felt he probably either had food poisoning or some kind of viral stomach flu.  The treatment was pretty simple - get him re-hydrated with lots of fluids and give him an anti-nausea medication.

Over the course of the next 6 hours he was filled up with 2 liters of fluid and 2 doses of anti-nausea medication.  We finally got the green light to walk out of the place around 12:30PM.  Zack was a trooper throughout the entire process.  He didn't even make a fuss when they needed to put the needle in his arm for the IV.

Zack spent the rest of Saturday on the couch sleeping and watching TV.  But you could tell he was feeling much better and by the end of the day he was feeling almost back to normal.  I missed my team in training workout for Saturday as a result of his trip to the ER - which was a bummer, but Zack is so much more important than my running!

This evening he managed to have his first food besides crackers since Friday night.  He will be going back to school tomorrow as he missed 3 days for the flu back at the end of January and I don't want him to miss any more if possible.

That was the main story of our weekend.  Now I just want all the illness and sickness to go away and not come back!  I hope everyone has had a great weekend and has a good week ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Just a Game....

Please consider supporting my effort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through participation in their Team-in-Training program.  I am training to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 19, 2011.  You can support my effort by pledging contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my Team-in-Training web page at:
Race day is only 40 days away!  I would like to gather $5000 in donations by that date.  Please consider helping!!

All contributions are tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!!!!
It's Monday and the day after the Superbowl.  Throughout America the followers of one team are celebrating while the followers of the other team are weeping.  I supposed I should classify myself in that second category this year.  As a Pittsburgh native we have gotten way too accustomed to being in that first category, but sometimes things must even out and we have to be on the losing side.

Despite that I think as a Pittsburgh Steeler Fan we still have a lot to celebrate.  Though we didn't win this Superbowl, we still have won more than any other team in the National Football League.  Secondly, there is a darn good chance our team will have the strength and determination to be back there next year.  Lastly, it is time to face the fact - it is only a game.

Yeah - I know, I no longer live in Pittsburgh but I am dedicated to the football team enough that every year I spend something like $300 getting the NFL Sunday Ticket on DirectTV.  So that would tend to make me seem to be one of those rabid "Stiller" fans who would mourn the loss very hard.  But...  it's just a game.  No different than football games that are played in countless high school football stadiums every fall around our entire country.

It is really fun to watch and feel good when your team wins, but is it really important?  Does it make the difference whether somebody lives or dies?  Nay - it's just a game!  So for the fans of the Green Bay Packer's celebrate your day today, but then tomorrow you'll wake up and the snow will still be on the ground, the kids will still have to go to school, you'll still have to go to work, the dogs will still need to be walked and feed everyday, and then we will all remember - it is just a game.

Anyway - if you rooted for the Green Bay Packers - congratulations!

The weekend for us was really good!   We didn't do anything of any serious consequence at all.  On Friday night I went to the Nuggets game without Zack as it was a really late game.  Tip off was at 8:30PM because of TV rights.  (It was the second game in a double header on ESPN.)

Saturday morning brought my return to the Team-in-Training group running.  I had missed the previous week's Saturday morning run because I had the flu.  Saturday's run wasn't particular hard as we were only doing about 5 miles.  It was a step back day from the extremely long runs we had been doing in previous weeks.  I made the run a little bit harder for myself by maintaining a relatively fast pace throughout.  I did about 10:30 per mile - so it was a good workout for me.  It is now less than 3 weeks til the race and I am getting more and more excited about it!  I am really looking forward to doing the distance and it is making me think about doing more competitive running again.  (By that I mean running 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons. Not that I am planning to win any of them!)

Now it is time for another work week.  It should be an interesting week as things really need to start moving with my new position.  So...  Hopefully it will be a very good and productive week.

I hope everyone has a great week a head!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Week of Crud - And Some Thoughts on Organization

For the last week the crud has stalked us and made us feel bad.  But at last it seems we are free of the malingering, festering illness that has plagued us.  Yes - we fell prey to whatever the name of the crud that is circulating through society at this time.  Zack brought it home from school last Tuesday and it made itself comfy and at home with us.  Zack bore the brunt of it as he ran temperatures as high as 103.6 on several occasions.  But we are healthy now and so we are much happier!  Unfortunately, I do believe we managed to infect at least one other person with this illness.

Since we were sick I really didn't have the desire to sit down in front of the computer and write the blog.  Despite not having the desire to write - my mind has been churning over many different subjects that I want to write about.  As a result I have a backlog of probably 10 different topics that I want to write about.  Most of them have been triggered by items that I have read  or have been covered in the news in the last few days/week.  It seems that there are some many different things going on in the world right now that it leaves you grasping to make heads or tails of everything.  But I will save those topics for another day.

This evening while I sit in front of my computer, I was dumbfounded by the amount of data that I generate every year.  I have so many photos, videos, songs and documents that I really don't even know where to begin to organize it.  Today I was pondering this problem when I think I at least made some headway about how to attack it.  (I am sharing this as I figured others might benefit from my thought process.)

If you are like me, you probably have a gigantic hard drive on your home computer that pretty much holds your entire life upon it.  For me I have 2 Terabytes worth of data between my home computer, my home network drive and my work computer.  There is so much data that I really can't make sense of it.  I need to find some way to organize it all and make it useable.

I decided today that to make it usable I need some way to organize it.  I don't feel that there is one solution that will work for all my data.  I am going to need to use a specific solution to organize each type of data.  So to sort this whole thing out my first decision is what tool I will use to organize each type of data.  I came to the following conclusions:

Music/MP3 Files: Stored and organized in iTunes
Pictures and Graphics: Stored in directories by Month/Year and organized in Adobe Photoshop Elements
Videos and MPGs: Stored in Directories by Month/Year and organized in Adobe Photoshop Premerie Elements
Documents/Articles/PDF: Storied and organized in Nuance Paperport

The really cool thing about all of this is that I will have the capability to search through every kind of document/file and find want I want.  For example, if I want to find all pictures of Bailey in the mountains - all I need to do is go into Adobe Photoshop Elements and search all my photos with that criteria - Bailey, Mountains.  As long as I have them tagged correctly then all of those photos will pop up when I do the search.  How cool is that???  So time to get to work implementing all of this!

Today was picture day for Finnegan.  I sat at the kitchen table today looking at him and I realized that he is growing up quickly.  So I pulled out the camera and shot a bunch of photos of him so I can capture him as a puppy.  Here are a few.

 I hope everyone has had a good week and is looking forward to the weekend!
Thanks and peace to all! ~J.