Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Those who can't... teach

The saying that "those who cannot, teach" have the misconeption that teachers, coaches, etc. are failures, and learning from the successful is more helpful. But what really is happening is that the successful are less likely to be successful teachers because they do not understand failure as well as those that have. 

This is an important lesson to learn because without having a check on this logical pitfall, this could lead us to problems like gambling addictions, not seeing the correct problem, solving the wrong problem (survivor bias), blindly follow seemlingly successful people to bigger failure (ponzi schemes), etc.


Reference

http://douglastclee.blogspot.com/2016/06/survivor-bias-logic-and-statistics.html

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Normal to lose weight after taking a break from working out? (Speculation)

This has been kind of nagging in the back of my mind, but I think I lose weight after I take a break from workouts (ie walking, lifting). I've barely been doing my 10k the last couple days and noticed that I have been able to maintain a lower weight average (around 2 pounds).

It'll go back up in a week if I do nearly no steps. Going back to working out, I'll go back to the same pattern of gaining weight then losing it slowly.

Does muscle atrophy work that fast? Or maybe I somehow change my diet due to my change in workout? I don't think my diet changed much. Although, I ate a lot of PB&J over the weekend which could be less than I usually eat. I'll need to note further data on this.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fitbit ChargeHR (2 months)

I've been wearing my Fitbit for just under 2 months.

The Fitbit website does track the number of times you hit certain goals (ie 5k steps, 10k steps, etc.). I'm not sure if this is new since my last post, but most likely I just didn't notice since I use my phone to check most of the stats. So, that is pretty cool.

Another ask was to compete with other types, and Fitbit does have their data available to download so this is possible if someone developed such an interface with other devices.

I have been on an exercise tear, averaging about 20k steps per day so I have been crushing my challenges for a pretty long time. I think this may have discouraged some of the bottom steppers or "more"-competitive people. I would really like some challenge that would help encourage people to move more. I try to get people to go out more, but "unfortunately" that also means that I'm out more thus getting more steps too.

Sadly, I could not come up with any good ideas that would motivate people. The best idea I could come up with is some challenge based on improvement from the previous week. Or maybe some sort of handicap, like they would get 1.5 step points per step.

I have forgotten to take off my Fitbit a couple times when I showered. It did get soaked for a second or two. I have had no problems at all.

It is not comfortable to wear while playing volleyball, but is still playable. I prefer not to wear the Fitbit. I've only tried a couple times. It does not really impact my actual play... just uncomfortable when I bump.

Overall, I am still quite satisfied with my Fitbit. It has pushed me to be more active.


Reference
http://douglastclee.blogspot.com/2016/07/fitbit-chargehr-two-week-impression.html
http://douglastclee.blogspot.com/2016/06/fitbit-chargehr-first-impression.html

2 smaller workouts VS 1 big workout (part 2)

Near the end of last month, I walked about 50000 steps in a single day. I was near 40k steps before my volleyball game. That day was also one of the hottest and most humid days. After a couple of intense points, I was breathing very hard and I can feel my heart rate really pounding. Even after the match and sitting for half hour, my heart rate was still pretty high. Some time during that day, I think I injured my knee. I didn't notice it was sore until the next day, and my knee is still sore today (~2 weeks).

Because of this, I went back to a single workout days. My weight has maintained the same throughout the 2 weeks. One difference to the previous 1-day workout was that I only walked but extended to 1.5 - 2 hours which included more weight lifting. Although I maintained weight, I did notice that my upper body becoming ever so slightly more lean. The first indication was that my arms can now touch more of my sides.

My knee has improved a little. It feels most sore after my body has cooled down (especially when I wake up). Once I have warmed up, the soreness goes away. I can feel my knee when I jog (around 6mph), feels fine around 5mph. I only did this for a minute just to test my knee. Soreness is worst if I lift my leg, leaving my low leg hanging. I can mitigate some of the pain if I squeeze the sides of my kneecap. Fortunately, I was able to do some jogging this morning in the park. The soreness today is extremely mild except after I get out of the car after driving.

Overall, I think my hypothesis is still that two half workouts are better than a single whole workout. I feel that 30 minutes is a good target for a small workout, and 20 minutes is the minimum for an effective workout. But that does not mean to avoid moving if you have the chance if you only have 5-10 minutes, or to stop after 30 minutes if you have more time.



Reference
http://douglastclee.blogspot.com/2016/07/2-smaller-workouts-vs-1-big-workout.html

Saturday, August 6, 2016

97% of quitters employed by 3% who don't (misunderstood)

There is meme that pops up every so often that goes, "97% of the people who quit too soon are employed by the 3% who never gave up." This statement does not provide any new information.

Logic Problem

A lot of people read the quote as the 97% of the people vs 3% of the people, but really the quote states 97% of quitters and 3% of never gave up. Technically speaking, there is no mention how large the population is of quitters versus those who never gave up.

What can be extrapolated from the quote (assuming you trust the numbers) is that a very low percentage of those who did not quit are employed by a large percentage of those who did quit. Which in itself is quite reflective, because that would also mean that 3% of those who quit also became bosses, and that 97% of those who did not quit became someone elses. 

So technically, the statement is not a logic issue or problem. The issue/problem lies on the people either jumping to conclusions or misreading the statement.


Math Proof

Assuming life is binomial in that all people are either quitters (A) or non-quitters (B), and also that all people are either employees (C) or employers (D).

97% of A = C, therefore 3% of A = D
3% of B = D, therefore 97% of B = C

In conclusion, this statement works for anything that can be broken into two groups which provides no new analysis whether the numbers are correct or not.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

2 smaller workouts VS 1 big workout (personal non-scientific experience) for effective weight loss

For one of our fitness challenges at work was to walk 300 miles in 60 days, thus 5 miles a day. This was very extremely challenging. I was on vacation for a week and averaged 14-17 miles a day. Yet, I still barely reached the 300 miles on the last day (12 miles on the last day). I changed my schedule by doing 2-3 miles in an hour during lunch (40 minutes of actual walking).

During this period of time, I lost quite a bit of weight (around 10 pounds in 1 month). Before this I lost maybe 3 pounds over 4 months.

Once the challenge was over, my feet were quite sore so I took a break from the lunch walk, returning to my normal 1-2 hours workout after work. For the next 3 months, I gained 5 pounds. Granted, some of the gained weight was from the increased weight training (instead of pure fat burning or cardio). I do feel stronger and people say that I have trimmed a little (although I still cannot tell if they are just being polite).

I just returned back to walking during lunch since I got the FitBit. I am quite passively competitive. (I also learned someone was quite aggressively competitive but that's another post.) For me it is not all about winning (getting more steps than someone else) but more that I improve faster each week. To beat some of the FitBit friends (although I say it is not about winning, internally I still strive to beat them), I returned to my lunch walk.

In just a week, I have lost 3 pounds (under the minimum weight of my weight swings). After work, I still retain my usual routine but shorter.

I will continue to monitor this pattern but I am a believer that 2 smaller workouts are much more effective than 1 big workout for weight loss.


Update:
8/20 - Updated some grammatical structures.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Fitbit ChargeHR (two-week impression)

Comfort/Style

I seem to keep changing where I lock the band. Is it natural for my wrist to change sizes? The largest problem is trying to get the watch to sit about an inch under my wrist where it gets the best heart rate accuracy. Otherwise, comfort is fine with the usual discomfort of a watch.

Accuracy

Heart Rate does not seem to be very accurate (comparing with treadmill's heart rate) when running. Rest heart rate seems quite reliable. I'm not sure about the average resting heart rate which seems a little low. My current heart rate is around 74 bpm (measured with fingers on the inside part of my wrist with a time watch for a minute), the watch shows 73, but the phone app shows 65 bpm. Maybe writing a blog gives me the increased rate.

Steps are quite accurate. The elevation can be tricked when pumping your arm in the car. I don't care much for distance so I have not been monitoring the accuracy of distance. Since I do a lot of walking in place or treadmill, I do not expect it to be extremely accurate.


Mobile App

Not as impressed as I thought it would be but is functional. My favorite component is the sleep log. It has some bug with finding Facebook friends (Motorola Turbo) even though it is connected and can post achievements to FB. 


Web Service

This is much more useful than the mobile app. It provides a much more detailed report of the same status provided on the mobile phone.


Competing/Accomplishments

Adding people to challenges is easy. Seems that steps are the only metrics available to compete against. 

Accomplishments are very standard with different metrics to be accomplishments. There are two types, one for one-time single-day goals and the other is one-time lifetime goals.

Asks

It would be nice if Fitbit could track the number of times that I hit certain accomplishments, like 20 days of 10k steps, 5 days of 5k steps, etc. Same with steps.

Would be nice if it could be configured to compete with other people with other pedometer devices or step-tracking devices.

Reference

http://douglastclee.blogspot.com/2016/06/fitbit-chargehr-first-impression.html
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Target-Heart-Rates_UCM_434341_Article.jsp#.V4EbTbgrKUk

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Fitbit ChargeHR (first impression)

I have finally succumbed to popularity of the FitBit. Up to this point, I have been using Google Fit on my phone which can be kind of hassle to carry while running.

Why FitBit?

Why FitBit over the other brands? Mostly because my circle of influence use FitBit. That was basically the only factor with the assumption that the top smart-pedometers have similar features. I do like the ability to track how much activity I have during the day.

The price has been keeping me from buying FitBit. Is it worth $120+? This will have to wait to see.

I decided to go with the HR because I am curious about my heart rate history but more for the sleep tracker.

Setup

Setup is easy. Install the app on the phone. Follow instructions. This took 15 minutes.

Comfort/Style

It's simple but stylish enough for my needs. The band is comfortable and wears like a watch. I kind of wish the button was on the other side (or I suppose I could also wish I was left-handed). It would be cooler still if I could just tap the screen.

Accuracy

I did not do not super scientific test for this. My test is just an approximate accuracy with Google Fit. I check how many steps before an activity, then check the steps after an activity. I know Google Fit is not completely accurate due to the way it sits in my pocket (which I keep in the front pocket of baggy shorts). Overall, the steps were pretty aligned. Over 500 steps, FitBit registered 8 more steps than Google Fit. With over 7000 steps, Fitbit was around 50 more steps.

I typically run on the treadmill, so I have done some tests with the heart rate monitor. Most of the time, they seem to match within 1-2 bpm. When the FitBit does not sit very securely on my write, the readings could be off by quite a bit, the difference around 20 bpm (treadmill reading 140 bpm). I do not know the accuracy of the treadmill, so I cannot say what those numbers really mean.

More importantly, the numbers go up with I feel my heart rate going up and down when I'm resting. For me this is good enough to track. Especially since the target bpm is an estimate anyways. As long as it is consistent, I mostly just want to watch my efficiency increase as I get more fit.

I've worn it for two nights of sleep. I find it interesting how often I move around while I sleep and how consistent I am. I seem to move around almost every hour. Unfortunately, I haven't been getting a lot of sleep due to work.

Reporting

Looks nice. There is a charge for the fancier reports. The basic reports are standard and has more than Google Fit.

Overall

I'm pretty satisfied with the FitBit.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Survivor Bias - logic and statistics

I've had to explain this to many people but never knew there was a name to it. And now I know... and feel a little dumber because it took me so long to learn about it. :D

Reference

https://youarenotsosmart.com/2013/05/23/survivorship-bias/

Monday, June 13, 2016

What do I want to be when I grow up?


"I want to be what every grown-up wants to be... a kid." James Aubrey (Bones, ep 11.18)
"Someone that has given more than they've taken." Seeley Booth (Bones, ep 11.18)




Other References

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakillgrove/2016/06/04/bones-season-11-episode-18-review-the-movie-in-the-making/#7f8c7fb33d64

Friday, June 10, 2016

Learned about Side Stitches (pain right below the right ribcage) - Running Symptom

It has been a while since I had this sharp pain where it feels like on the right-side of my body, right below the rib-cage. For as long as I can remember, I have had these cramp-like pains every so often in the middle of my runs. And today, I finally decided to look this up and learned that they are called side stitches (or more scientifically, “exercise related transient abdominal pain” (ETAP)).

I am actually kind of relieved to know that this is kind of normal. For me, slowing down or focus on breathing helps me through the cramps.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side_stitch

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trading Endurance for Burst Speed (running)

Although I feel more fit from training to run 5k races, I am noticing that I am not moving as fast for sports like volleyball. I feel slower but not in a reflexive way. I see the ball moving but my body does not move as fast as before.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Executive vs Associates Emails

This comic was not so interesting until I read the comments. What I found so interesting is how quickly everyone jumped onto the idea that the ideal email is to be brief and to the point.

Yes, that the associate email is a bit lengthy but there is no way they could get by with the executive message. The lengthy version is very much the safer route than being too brief for an associate.

People should know their audience even among peer-to-peer messages. Some people need to have the flowery-words, and some people don't. Some people are easily offended if not enough proper respect is included in the email. And quite easily, someone like an executive gets thousands of emails and simple message of "please see below" will be quickly forgotten (intentionally or not).

Even for such a message from an executive, I have listened to many colleagues confused on what the message even meant in the first place. What thoughts? Grammar? Content? New idea? On every single bullet point or a subjective top 10 list? You're the executive what did you not like about that email?

It saddens me that even the experienced professionals make such simple, over-simplified comments. Yes, some messages could be more brief and some could be more descriptive. Most messages need to be tailored not only by who it is written to but also the author's experience/rank.


https://image-store.slidesharecdn.com/8b670d02-0525-40e8-9d57-735086deefdf-original.png

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Can "I" be someone else? (thought experiment)

A thought experiment... is it possible that the perception of "I" in a person can be warped to be someone else in such a way that I believe that I am the other person. And, if I were to suddenly be aware of my actual senses, it was seem unbelievable or even as if it was someone else. I imagine it would almost seem like an out-of-body experience.

Part of this thought experiment is to determine if our belief in what is true primarily due to the weight of certain information. We have our perception of "I" because of all the senses that we have with us all the time. It clearly overrides any other information as true by this hypothesis.

Thus this is how we deem what is true and false, even though we do not really know what is true or what is false. Our brain is like a natural scientific experiment. We believe in the patterns that we can perceive and understand.

This is why it is harder to gain trust than to lose it. It takes information and (in our current mode of information input) time to confirm that the pattern of information from a certain source is trust worthy. The trust of that information is compounded by the source. Thus as the source becomes more trusted, the more trusted the information is (whether that information is true or not). Thus it is possible that a false information can be trusted merely by the trust coefficient of the source. On the other hand, once the trust of the source is broken, all information will lose all the trust bonus. This does not mean the information is false but rather it requires other values like repetition of information from multiple sources or repetition of experiments (science).

Meta-hack

So my experiment is to wonder if I am able to block all sensory information from a person. The person would be "bound" or perhaps in weight-less environment like space. Then have a monitor or even a VR headset that displays another life like a TV show from a single point of view. Would all that new sensory change the person's idea of self?

Interestingly after this thought, I was watching the TV show Person Of Interest (POI) where Samaritan was attempting to brainwash her. Although fictional, it is kind of in-line to the experiment except from the very beginning.




Possible Repercussions

I wonder if this could potentially explain brainwashing. By overriding the sensory input with overwhelming information, a threshold could be met to essentially override existing beliefs. Another trust coefficient is probably introduced for survival purposes. Basically, the weight of trust level is increased by the urgency for surviving. This could also explain Stockholm syndrome.

On a lesser level, this could also explain religion. On the same level, a similar argument could also made about science.

Then on the white-lie level, repeating a lie could even convince ourselves of something not only of little basis but something even knowingly false.

Perhaps this is why I always have some sort of self-doubt.


Background

Just to reiterate, this is just a though-experiment as it is impossible (at least morally/ethically) to actually do. Second, I have little knowledge about brainwashing, illnesses, etc., except what is known through pop-culture. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Greek Yogurt (dislike)

Sorry, Greek yogurt. I still do not like the taste or texture of a simple Greek yogurt. Maybe if you bury it in a bunch of fruits then maybe. The smell alone is enough to scare me away. I can tolerate Yoplait Greek yogurt but then that makes me wonder if that is real.

I do not know why I don't like Greek yogurt. I used to not like plain yogurt but I am now fine with it. But then again, plain yogurt was more tolerable after I tried Greek yogurt. Which is almost the same way that I learned (ie acquired the taste of) to drink beer. I just did not like beer. Then at some social gathering they had some really strong (ie not light) beer, and ever since, light beer is perfectly fine for me. Although my taste for beer has improved since then, I still cannot pretend to enjoy the foulest tastes of some beers... perhaps they just need to make one even worse.

Anyways, I still try it every so often because it is a healthier alternative. So far, it is only healthier for me because I do not have much appetite after smelling it.

Reference

Review: Yogurt, Yoplait vs La Yogurt vs FoodTown vs Others (not a nutritional review)
http://douglastclee.blogspot.com/2013/08/review-yogurt-yoplait-vs-la-yogurt-vs.html

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Did you ask a good question today?

Some times I wish I spent more time reading but I just love figuring things out. The little details bore me, and I do not have the patience to trudge through all those words to find the golden nugget of information.

Although people say I am smart, but in comparison to most people... I really am not. I am good at asking questions: questioning the status quo, questioning thoughts, questioning answers, and even questioning questions. Perhaps that is why I can be very dumb at times.

They say there are no stupid questions, but there are. The internet has resoundingly proved that with a lot of anger and a lot of hate. But when we say that there are no stupid questions, we really mean that I would rather that you asked and learned than not ask and remain stupid... with some reservation.

But... there is a time and place for questions. If the question is a low level question (i.e. a very general question) and the audience is a high level group, then save the question for later (i.e. a smaller group). If the audience is a low level (e.g. introduction course) group, then ask away. If you are not sure, wait till you are in a respectable sized group. Bottom line... although you should ask questions, be mindful of other people's time. It is better to take up 1-3 people's time than 10s, 100s, or an internet-worthy number of people. Time and place is more about respect to those around you.

Unlike Chelsea Handler (article below), my parents didn't have a lot of impact on that front of my life. For me, they couldn't figure a lot of things out so I suppose I got my inquisitiveness from need rather than encouragement. So fear not if you didn't come from a more curiosity-nurturing background, there is still hope for you. Lucky for you, the lesson is quite simple. Question anything, everything, or "nothing."

But we wary not to be stuck with asking "why" about everything. "Why is the sky blue?" "Why is the world round?" "Why am I here?" Although "why" is a good place to start, it does not easily lead us to the answers. The reason is that asking that question does not lead us to consider new ideas because the question does not bring us new information that we didn't already know. If we knew, then we wouldn't be asking why.

"What if" is my method of curiosity. What if I took part of A and a part of B, what will happen? What if I wore the brown shirt with the purple pants? What if I mixed Teriyaki with horseradish? Unlike asking why, we can begin to create new ideas even with a set knowledge base by re-ordering certain information. And if we cannot figure it out, we then can attempt to try.

Even questioning existing knowledge can be fascinating. To pick a sensitive topic, the existence of god. There is nothing wrong with questioning your belief to see if the new idea enforces or deters your original thoughts. If it deters, don't let a single idea threaten your belief. On a indifferent topic, the workings of a door. How does the hinge carry the weight? If the top hinge carries more weight, why are both hinges on most doors the same? Isn't it amazing how 2-3 pieces of metal can hold up the door for several years without any physical wear-and-tear to the naked eye? What if one of the hinges broke? What if we keep adding layers of paint? What if we hung on it?

Ultimately, questioning is not really about how things work but how we think things work.

Reference

This blog was inspired by this article:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-journey-from-academic-reject-semi-respectable-adult-handler

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Body weight exercises


Sometimes, I wish sites would just provide a list at the end of their articles (and would it kill them to add dates to the articles?).
  1. Lunges
  2. Double Leg Lifts
  3. Lying Hip Raise
  4. Push up
  5. Sit up
  6. Plank, Squat
  7. Superman
  8. Reverse Crunch



http://myhealthy.tips/best-bodyweight-exercises/?utm_content=12822e&utm_source=Outbrain&utm_medium=53149542&utm_campaign=outbrain-mht-desk-us-bodyweight

Monday, May 2, 2016

Writing for those who hate writing or are afraid of writing... say it out loud in writing

There are times when I wondered if I was blood related to my family because everyone in my family was art-inclined. They liked music, singing, and can draw with ease (in my opinion). While... I became an engineer and been blamed for being too logical. All the notes seem the same to me, drawing out of the line was blasphemous, and I cannot sing (still can't). Although there are a billion stories, I think we get the gist of my difference in the family.

But I suppose good is relative, like how some of my college classmates felt inadequate compared to the other students in a top tiered university. Yet I would hire any of them in a heartbeat in place of some of the coworkers I have had to deal with in the past.

I do occasionally sketch-draw cards for people. Primarily because it has a greater personal impact in relation to the cost of the card (free versus $5 at a store). Later in life, I found it to be good practice for the artistic side of me. Everyone says that I am good. At first, I thought they were just being nice. But after some time, you can tell when they seem to be saying it genuinely. So like my drawing, I also picked up writing because I wanted to share my ideas. And as I continued to write, I found different ways to write. And now when I read, I can see some of the structure of how other people write.

Although I cannot change your hatred towards writing or fear of writing, I can only suggest that you should start (or continue) writing even if you are the only reader like this blog of mine. Even just learning the difficulties of writing is worth the experience in understanding other people from a different perspective.

What should you start writing about? It does not need to be a book, a short-story, or even a blog. Even writing a review is good enough or even a tweet. Write how your day was, what you think is right or what was wrong. Write why your favorite color is your favorite color. Write that the food at A is better than B, or that it was comparable or it depends on certain factors.

Do not be afraid to write even if there is no reason or have no answer. Like, I do not know why my favorite colors keep shifting between blue, green, and black... yet blue and orange has a special meaning for me (the repressed school pride that I claim that I don't have?). I don't know why I enjoy being sarcastic all the time. They say it is because I am trying to hide something. It could be true, or it may not. I really don't know. And if you don't want to publish it, don't publish it. But try not to delete it, although there is nothing wrong with that either. Write on little scraps of paper. I wrote in a tiny notepad while I was on the plane. I wrote why the flight attendant was not smiling.

Once you have written a few things (this could be days, weeks, months, or even years), you should review what you have written. Try to figure out what you are trying to convey. Write about writing, write why your writing is so random, but pick up tidbits of what worked for you and if you are ambitious, what did not work for you?

Why write? I think we all succumb to our own beliefs and take for granted that others should know exactly how we are thinking or feeling without considering that they really do not. Even if we think that we are open-minded, we may not be as open-minded as we think we are. Even when I thought that I was open-minded, it embarrasses me to admit that positive-reinforcements (especially from my mom) has made my ego greater than it should be... no matter how hard I try to see through it. And the same goes with negative-reinforcements where my self-worth is lower than it should be at.

Writing is the mirror of communication. You can see how your ideas are delivered, how they fit together, how there is always a flaw and room for improvements. And like a mirror, we still need to be careful on our perception of the reflection. The flaw is like the blemish that you think everyone sees, but what everyone really sees is something else.

And to take this one more level, don't be afraid to try something that you are not good at. Although you may never be as good as your circle or even the majority of people, it is a good exercise to empathize, understand others, and really appreciate their talents.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cooking pork chops by newbie

I buy the cheapest stuff so the cuts are not always great nor consistent. In general, I found pan-frying the pork until brown on both sides then putting in the over for 20 minutes (at 350) has worked for me. The chop is around 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.

1 inch thick was still pink in the center near the bone. 25 minutes worked for me. And use less time if the cut is thinner.

Day 2:
15 minutes at 400 degrees seem to work better after browning both sides with a non-stick pan. Not as dry and less raw in the middle by the bone..


For something extra:
http://www.asweetpeachef.com/entrees/garlic-roasted-pork-chops/

  • 5 ingredients and I have all of them! :D
  • In the picture looks thinner, recommends 400 for 4-5 minutes (but there is flipping the chops around the 2 minute mark). Also boneless.
  • I like there is a recipe type, if only I can figure out how to just filter by easy recipe types.


http://damndelicious.net/2015/01/31/easy-pork-chops-with-sweet-and-sour-glaze/

  • I may try as I usually have most of those ingredients or easy to find
  • This also uses 400 for 8-10 minutes (I'll have to try that next time)

http://www.food.com/recipe/pork-chop-sandwich-292269

  • Looks tasty. I probably won't try this any time soon as it includes batter and frying... both of which is too messy for my taste ;) 


http://www.chowhound.com/food-news/160530/9-reasons-to-cook-pork-chops-tonight/

  • Super fancy. I will probably never try cooking these.

2 day break from workout, easier faster pace today

Pre-run

I've had to work several hours for the last couple days so was not able to workout out all. I've logged maybe 1 mile for each day. Physically, I felt rather energetic today. I also lost 3 pounds during that span, but probably just from eating lightly (mostly ramen and salad... mostly because that was all I had left). This morning I was really hungry and decided to dig deep into my closet and found a bag of chocolates (I don't really eat sweets but will eat them occasionally). I ate a couple reese's cups before running. I only mention that because that may also be what contributed to the run.

Run

I walked the usual 5 minutes then started jogging at 5mph for a couple minutes. I found this to be extremely easier than usual, so I changed it to 5.5mph. By the 20 minute mark, I was still feeling good where I was probably at 70% (usually I would be around 85% at this point). I think upped it again to 6mph. I was able to struggled to 28 minutes, unable to reach the 30 minutes. Overall, still a pretty decent run for me.

Of course, the girl next to me was doing 7mph like it was cake-walk >:O... you just wait! I'll be there someday! sigh... To think that I once was able to do 6-7 minute miles. Feels like two lifetimes ago. Anyways, I still felt great that I am making progress... at least I hope it is and not caused by eating candy beforehand (although it makes me tempted to experiment that a little more).

Now that I am able to jog most of the 30 minutes, I will likely start increasing the incline grade or go at a faster pace. This will mostly be determined on how well my feet feels. They have been kind of sore lately like when you stand for too long. I think it is also a sign for new pair of shoes. I've had these for a year now so it is about time to retire them from running shoes to everyday shoes.

Post-run

After some other random workouts and shopped for food, I feel pretty normal... no sore, no pain. My right fore-arm feels a little tight though from holding weights. The odd part was that my left arm did not have any problems (I'm right-handed). Lately, I've been wondering if maybe I may have been left-handed but ambidextrous enough to follow the general public of being right-handed... or maybe my right side is so worn-and-torn that it tires faster.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dear Managers, Don't be so damn lazy or cheap!

Lazy

Group punishment

"Team, do this. Team, do that. Team, you're all punished." Will an extra minute kill you to do your job properly? Stop generalizing us as a team when we all know who you are talking about except for that one guy you are actually trying to speak to, especially when it is something negative.

We have this new guy on the team. He came in late, left early, and did poor quality work. What made him especially hated was how pro-active he was about looking like he was always available to back up people, knew how everything worked, etc. but never backed it up (he missed his own calls, had earphones on while in training, caught snoring on a conference call). And that is just the tip of the iceberg of issues.

Sadly, this is not even my issue about work because there is always someone like him in the corporate world. My beef is actually with how management deals with this.

We used to be allowed to work remotely twice a week. The new guy abused this system. So management's solution was to have a team meeting to discuss how the remote work is being abused and now is now only once a week. On top of that, notifications are now required the prior day. Not only that, there was an issue that we must be at work on-time and not to leave early.

We are not a large team (5-7), so we all know each others work schedule pretty well. Two of the members are always in early by an hour. Two of us always stay late at least an hour later. So it is very easy to know exactly who this was being addressed to, yet we are all being punished for this? I barely even work remotely even once a week yet I felt slighted by this rule change. My commute is pretty bad, yet I make it in on-time almost everyday. I used the remote work when I see that there was an accident.

After a couple months of this in place, there have only been two people who have been consistently late and leaving early... the new guy and the manager. And this was not even a slip from good behavior, they violated the new rule since day one. Both were late, both left early, although the new guy checks to see that the manager leaves before he leaves. Both have sent notices the day of, and sometimes no notices at all.

And to kick us while we're down, the manager labels this as a corporate-wide mandate as if we don't speak with anyone else in the company. Our jobs has us speaking with a lot of people, so we know that none of the other groups have even heard of those restrictions.

General Fear Tactics

As if my respect for management could be any lower, they threaten us with a question: "what is the difference between off-shoring our jobs and letting use work remotely full-time?" Yea, good luck finding a comparable off-shore resource. First, if that were true then there is even larger cost benefit to replacing someone who works on premise than someone remote. Second, management barely understands when someone speaks with an accent. Either they waste all of our times asking to repeat themselves 20 times or they pretend to understand than waste my time later to explain or worse misinterpret what was said. Last, management is going to stoop so low to use fear as their tactic to keep us happy? That is the best weapon they can use. I barely see my manager or anyone on my team. I actually go out of my way to see my colleagues just to make use of going to the office. I know none of them ever goes to see anyone else. For meetings, they are all over phone or online so it is basically like working remotely anyways. And then at the end of the day, who do you not see in the office most of the time? Management... of course.


Distribution Blast

We all dread doing timesheets. We hate them. What does management do when there are violators of not submitting your timesheet? Why don't we blast everyone that there is a minority of people that are not submitting their timesheets? Not only are they the minority but they are the multiple offenders. So let us just waste everyone's time to recheck that their timesheets are submitted.

OH! It is month end, let us send another blast that these timesheets are extra important to be submitted.

OOPS! If you are going to be out of the office, another email to remind you that you should know that you took time off and do your timesheets earlier... JUST IN CASE that you didn't read the previous emails that came in the last 10 minutes that your timesheets are due.

OOPS AGAIN! If you are working tonight or the weekend, you can submit it later. Well, if we can submit it later why do we need to submit it now? 

Then I have to get another email from my manager that there are some timesheets not submitted. COME ON! There are only 5 people in your team. I know two of them submitted, and I know I submitted. That leaves only 2 people left and I am pretty sure he also submitted it. You could not spare 10 seconds to just address that one person?! Of course, I had to triple-check just so that I didn't have to eat my own words later.

On a side note: Is there no one in upper management that finds it so damn stupid on how you expect to get a report on hours worked before the end of the time range but yet ask us to submit our hours as precisely as possible? For example, upper management always require an EOM report on the last day of the month. Why not the day after when the month actually ended?!? This simple logic does not even include the amount of time and effort that it takes to build some of those reports, so in reality the reports are built almost a week early so the report is either missing a week or estimating a week. Then they complain why the report is not accurate and puzzled when we explain that there are estimations needed even though we explain this same thing every month for years. To top it off, they don't even need the report immediately. That is corporate America for you.

Cheap

Candy

The other day, I won a raffle (first time in my life). I do not each chocolates and a colleague mentioned that the executive VP really liked one of the containers of chocolates. So I gifted it to him through his secretary.

I do not interact with him at all. I am pretty sure that he does not even know who I am. I thought he would have at least shared it with his functional area. Nope... he just brought it home and shared it with his wife. What did I get? Not even a thank you, a pat, or a handshake. Didn't even bother to know who I was.

I am not sad or angry over this, but I surely lost a lot of respect for him. At least I can see why management is the way it is. I believe that values and culture starts at the top. Clearly, no respect for the small people (although there have been many other red flags, imo). I have crossed paths with him and direct reports multiple times, and they also do not care to know who I am.

I shared the rest of the basket to the people in the company. Sometimes, I wonder if I am just double damning myself by making other people feel better about the company at my expense. Then, I feel guilty that even crosses my mind... because there does not need to be a reason to be good.

Food

We had a company day and everyone was excited about the free lunch. In my opinion, it was a measly lunch: sandwich, cookie, chips, and a drink. We could buy it for $5 at most, so I'm sure it cost the company less than that per person. AND... my problem is not even that it is a cheap lunch.

My issue was that there were some speeches from the CEO, COO, and CFO. Most of the people left after some time and went to get food. While a few of us remaining stayed to listen (the speeches were bad and boring). When the speeches were done, we went to get food but they had run out of food. They ran out of food well before we even got there. 

The silver-lining was the amusement because the speeches were about how well the company was doing: record profits, record growth, and thanking us for our contributions and loyalty. 



Rant

Sorry, there may be a lot of grammatical errors and other mistakes especially when I think faster than I type. As you can tell, a lot has been festering in the back of my mind. As much as I try to be positive, there is still a part of me that is constantly disappointed by people who are more fortunate. 

Drinking water doesn't quench my thirst - solved with more salt?

There were several occasions when I drink water where my thirst does not go away. For me this is not a consistent problem, so I do not think it is diabetes (also I don't have any of the other symptoms of diabetes). After searching online, I found a few articles about not having enough salt.

So I tried this option. The primary reason is that I do have a very low sodium diet. When I cook, I do not use any salt, pepper, or other spices. At most, I use some oil but mostly to keep the food from sticking. Otherwise, I boil-fry most of my food. By boil-fry, I mean I just use just enough water to have the food stick to the pan... so I guess I basically steam my food or stir-fry with water. Anyways, the point is that I don't consume a lot of salt. I also don't eat out a lot. When I do, most outside food tastes salty too me.

I also drink a lot of water consistently so it is kind of odd that there are times that the quench does not go away. At first, I drank soda. One can or half bottle is enough to remove my quench for the episode. Now I keep energy drinks around, and that works just as well. It has been a while since the last I have had this issue (I just remembered to share this point only because the energy drinks are still sitting in my cabinets). I speculating that I have not had this problem for a while mostly because I have started to use some salt in my foods.

Anyways, this is my personal experience and experiment into the matter. I have also been exercising more regularly, averaging almost 5 miles a day. That may have a factor but I haven't found or felt like it contributed or helped with the problem.



References

http://forums.prohealth.com/forums/index.php?threads/why-doesnt-water-quench-my-thirst.96154/
http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/why-am-i-always-thirsty?page=2

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Morning Calf Cramp

When waking, I typically stretch out my legs and this morning I pulled my calf muscle while doing so and it was quite painful. Needless to say, that woke me up this morning. I tried to massage the muscle but it is quite painful to the touch. I can walk around with some strain but unable to put any more pressure than that.

After taking a hot shower, I was able to get a little more flexibility and probably could jog on it. It does not feel like I can jump on it although I may test that out later today.

I then went out for a walk for about an hour to an hour and a half. My calf now feels much better and feel a dull pain only when I pull my foot all the way up.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Workout Slump 20150414

This has been my worst workout week this year. I just didn't have the energy to do anything... averaging about 2-2.5 miles a day with strength training at a low too. Intervals kind of help. Hopefully, I'll get out of this rout eventually.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

5k results - April 2016

I posted a slightly slower time (33") than last year, but overall I felt great. The weather was extremely cold so I was running with a long-sleeve and a hoodie, still kept my shorts. I was able to stay at least a jogging pace for 2.5 miles of the 3.1 miles. 

Another plus was that I didn't feel too exhausted afterwards, and was able to play volleyball later even though I did not eat well on Saturday.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Preparing for 5k race in two days

I think I am still on pace for a 36" 5k run. Taking a workout break today by walking 1.5 miles around 3.5 mph. Tomorrow will do a 5k warmup jog pace.

Only problem is that I tweaked the muscles around my neck and between my shoulders. I haven't been able to move my neck all day. I hope it goes away tonight. Amazing that this could happen just from drying my hair this morning after my shower. Fortunately, it was not too bothersome on the treadmill. I hope this won't be a problem for my run.

Weight-wise... I think I am starting to lose a little weight. I have finally started to cut down on the amount I eat at night. Now it is a more normal serving size. I was eating maybe 2-3 times normal meal. Now, I need to figure a way to eat earlier instead of late at night (around 9pm).

I've actually started drinking soda at work because water doesn't seem to be quenching my thirst recently. I was doing some research online and I think I may need to increase my sodium intake. I don't use any salt in my cooking and I have not been eating out lately, so this seems to make sense. I think I'll have to buy some energy drinks as emergency reserve at work, and maybe start getting sea salt (after reading that table salt is not terribly good for sodium). Worth a try to keep myself away from soda.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Chicken Weight Distribution (Chicken 1)

Most of the weights are from memory as I didn't want to keep washing my hands. I did this because I noticed that the cheap chicken contains a lot of water while the organic chickens do not, also I was curious about the cost effectiveness of boneless vs bone-in. Interestingly, I figured that the water was part of the weight but it is interesting that they also include the packaging.

Basically if you eat only meat and value time, then the boneless option is about twice the cost of the bone-in option. If you want value, then the


Buying weight = 5.67 lbs = 90.72 oz
Buying price = $0.79 / lb = $4.48

Break-up by Parts (in oz)
Back = 13.4 (14.8%)
Leg = 11 (12%)
Wing = 4 (4.4%)
Breast = 16 (17%)
Gizzards = 3 (3.3%)
Total = 78.4 (86.4%) [$0.91 / lb]

Wastes = 12.3 oz [water + packaging]


Break-up, meat vs bone/fat (in oz)
fat = 8
thigh bone = 1
thigh meat = 4.5
leg bone = 1.7
leg meat = 2.4


Chicken thighs (cheapest within last year) = $0.79 / lb
Chicken thighs (regular within last year) = $0.99 / lb
Chicken thighs (boneless) = $1.79 / lb
Chicken cost ratio (cheapest) =  1:2.2
Chicken cost ratio (regular) =  1:1.8
Chicken weight ratio = 1:1.22

Saturday, March 26, 2016

48 minute 4 miles

Excited that I was able to run a constant 5 mph pace for 4 miles, yesterday. I probably won't make the under 30 minutes for a 5k race in a couple weeks, but it will be close. I'm able to keep a 6 mph pace for 10 minutes.

I always forget if I run faster off the treadmill. Usually by my first race of the year, I start running outside so I don't have a way to track my speed. Then by winter, I eat all the food back and get out of shape again.

I typically just listen to my body so usually not that important, although I am looking into getting a fitbit. There's a 300 mile challenge that I have joined and need a fitness tracker to measure the distance. I will need to average 5 miles a day which I think is a worthy challenge as I do not reach 5 miles even with my 3 mile runs every other day.

The con to this is that it will take more time out of my person software development project.

I have also just started looking for workout videos online. I'm open for some recommendations.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Facebook on Hulu without my permission

Another reason I do not like single sign-on. While on Hulu, I noticed in the comments section had a friend's profile picture even though I was logged in via Hulu account (not attached to Facebook). The cause is that a friend had signed onto Facebook and didn't logoff. 

I do not like that Facebook is allowing third-parties to access fb information without additional security to allow information to be transferred. There is no settings to disable this (at least not one that I can find).

Although there is a setting to sign-in via Facebook, I do not use single sign-on primarily for reasons like this. Although Hulu is a more legit company, this means that other sites are also capable of tracking without my knowledge. With all the data that is shared and distributed, more shady companies are capable of finding information that they should not have.

Lee Sedol defeats Google AlphaGo - Weiqi

http://recode.net/2016/03/13/score-one-for-humanity-googles-go-machine-finally-loses-to-korean-champ/ - Kurt Wagner 3/13/2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

So hard to find a volunteer opportunity for full-time employees

I have been wanting to volunteer for a long time but I seem to spend my entire weekend just looking for one and still end up empty handed. I feel my biggest obstacle is that I am a full-time employee (FTE) and just searching for something to do in the evening or over the weekend.

Majority of opportunities found on sites are for full-time volunteers, so all of these are instantly struck out because there is no way that can fit into my schedule.

The second obstacle is that my job also have last minute assignments for any given evening or weekend of the week. This means that I cannot commit to something that is down the road or require recurring attendance.

Basically the remainder of the opportunities full under that category, so what does that leave me? There are some rare ones that require certain certificates. Even soup kitchens now require sign-ups and fill up.

Perhaps I am looking in the wrong places, or perhaps using incorrect keywords. This really should not be harder than finding a paid job.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cost of a Smoothie

Banana (8 oz) - $0.79 / lb = $0.40
Strawberry - $2.50 = 4 of 16 = $0.625
Kiwi - 4 for $1 = $0.25
Yogurt - 1/5 of $3 = $0.60
Pineapple - 1/8 of $3 = $0.375
Some orange juice ~ $0.10

About $2.50 for ingredients.

Takes only a few minutes to make and a couple minutes to wash.clean.


So spending about $5 - 6 for smoothie seems somewhat reasonable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Never Remember Until I Need It - Windshield Wipers

For a couple years, my wipers have been barely sufficient to wipe away the rain. No matter how hard I try to remind myself to buy them, the instant I step out of the car and run into the house...

Ahh... warm... nice... back to normal life.........

Next time it rains, same pattern again.

After some number of rains over 2 years, I finally thought I should blog about this.

That very night as I ponder what to blog, I finally recalling the need for new wipers.

3 hours later (doing some research if I have the correct refills then needing to find more items to go over $25 to get the Amazon add-on something-or-other), I have finally ordered them!

And that's my post today.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Corporate Bad Apples are Toxic and Cannot be Removed

There's always a bad apple wherever I have worked. I never understood the reason why they are never fired until the company has lost several of their good apples. In some rare cases, the bad apples even get promoted.

Whatever the case may be, I always stay professional and sincere. Perhaps this is the reason managers do not recognize them until it is too late, but managers need to understand the situation their direct reports will rarely say anything outright. Why? Because no one likes a tattle-tale plus we do not know what the situation is, perhaps there are other motives this person is on the team... perhaps he is related to someone higher-up. And when there are obvious violations that the manager has picked up on and no actions were enacted, we are even less likely to report other issues.

With a single bad apple, the manager now has lost a lot of respect from his direct reports. Especially if the manager enforced certain rules prior to the bad apple, then suddenly the bad apple gets called out but nothing happens. Even worse when new rules are enforced on the entire team because of the bad apple. Are we now treated like a second grade class? Besides now feeling belittled, we are even more disgruntled. Then to take it another level, manager says it is a corporate initiative but we all know none of the other groups are following it. Yet the bad apple continues to ignore the new rules yet the good apples have less flexibility because they are too afraid to go against the rules.

After a few weeks, others are now taking advantage of the lack of consequences. If he can get away from being late 30-60 minutes, we can be in late. What is the manager going to do? Fire him but not the bigger offender? He leaves early. Others start leaving early. So even if no one leaves, the team is now less motivated and less productive because a new status quo has been set.

Yet the manager continues to pretend that his direct reports are blind and deaf. How many offences can the bad apple do until something is done about it? In one case, the bad apple has never (not even once) come in on time... not even close to being on time even when working from home. Quality of work is not good. Clearly some excuses are lies. There is very little good qualities except being able to talk his way out of things. The clues could not be any more obvious to the point that it almost seems comical.

How can the manager possibly fire someone for lesser reasons? Yet good apples will slowly find new jobs or transfer to another group. The good apples will never say why except to say they have a better opportunity. Thus the average quality of the team will slowly decrease over time.

I have actually tried to say something once. After I quit (after giving them a 2 month notice) because nothing was done and more than half the team has left, the company finally decides to "force" the manager to quit. That's right... they didn't even have the nerve to fire. Then they have the nerve to ask me to do some "incomplete" work for free (they couldn't find a replacement even with a 2 month notice). By incomplete, they meant new requirements that they didn't specify while I was there. As upset as I was, I was still professional and provided a quote for the work. Didn't hear from them again. The irony of it all, they are considered one of the best places to work in the state. That just shows how rampant these issues are where companies with bad apples can still be considered for best places to work... or how rigged those awards are (did you know that companies have to pay to be considered a participant?).

The saddest part was probably that the rest of team was actually decent to work with. But as each good person left, that left more burden to those remaining making it easier and easier for others to go out the door. Until all you have left are those who cannot find another job.

A colleague that is a bad apple can be tolerable to work with at best. A manager that is a bad apple is a recipe for disaster for the group. There is no win situation for the direct reports. All paths are negative... be a tattle-tale then play a war of he-says-she-says and lose because you're lower on the totem pole or keep your mouth shut and have your career move backwards.

So the best solution is to just find another job quickly and burn no bridges. Lie how great it was to work there. Thank everyone for the wonderful experience. If managers cannot fire someone, they will unlikely be strong enough to promote you.... not matter how nice they are.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Review: Exploding Kittens (enjoyable, replayable, easy rules, new player friendly, party game)

Exploding Kitten is a strategic, social, card game.

First Impression

I played Exploding Kittens for the first time with 4 players. It was kind of interesting. The rules are simple and the pace can be fun.

Luck does play a role in the game. There are two luck factors in this game. First is when you get the exploding kitten and which cards get stolen. Second is the mind games on where the player puts the exploding kitten.

There is little that can be done with the first exploding kitten. Since everyone starts with a diffuse, there is a little buffer. But the first person to use the diffuse first have lost first in both games. I was not the first, but lost the first game because the other player was fortunate to get multiple diffuses.


Enjoyable, Replayable, Easy Rules, New Player Friendly

With the pace and duration of the game, this game is fun to play. There is enough strategy to manipulate but still enough randomness to keep less-strategic-minded players interested. The rules are simple but complex enough to make it replayable. Simple rules also make this a good party game with people who do not play a lot of games.

More maximum fun, play at most in semi-serious mode. It is just as fun to end up with exploding kitten and lose as it is to win so just enjoy hanging out with everyone. If one particular player does seem to win more often, target that person more often. In other words, don't think too much on what to play.

Cons

Once you are out, that player is out. Unlike Mafia, Werewolf, Bang!, and other similar games, the game is much shorter so it is really not that bad. The player can still taunt the other players or add to the mind games, although they should refrain from spoiling any clues to give a live player an advantage over another.

From how we played, the first person to lose their diffuse was unable to come close to winning. Majority of the time, they were the first to be completely out. If not the first, always the second. This could possibly change if we were more experienced.


Strategy - Placing Exploding Kitten

Once you get the exploding kitten card and you use the diffuse card, you get to place the exploding kitten anywhere in the deck. Obviously, you should remember where you placed the card so that you do not get it yourself. This is actually harder than I initially thought because you cannot predict how the others will change the order.

I have tried putting the exploding kitten on the bottom and top. Most of us put it near the top which caused us all to be very suspicious, so by putting it on the bottom, players were more likely to play their special cards.

I have not been the first to draw the exploding kitten card. But if I did, I think the strategy is to target the next player. You do not want the exploding kitten to end up with the player before you because that player will more than likely play the exploding kitten at the very top knowing you are now without a diffuse. This strategy should hold because if successful that player will target the player after him. If he targeted you, he may end up with the exploding kitten card if you had a way to skip your turn.

Of course, it is difficult to predict what the players would do especially when there are more players. On some occasions, the exploding kitten ended back at the original player. So this poses where in the deck you want to put it but still end up with the next person.

I think if you have more special cards than the rest of the players, then you should place it closer to the top. If you have no special cards, you should place it near the bottom if not the very bottom (that way you do not have to remember where it is). At the bottom, you continue to play as if you do not know where the next exploding kitten will be (since the remaining cards are in random locations above the bottom card). The other players will likely play their special cards to avoid the possibility that you placed it at the top because they do not know how many special cards you have while you continue (hopefully) to pick up more cards.

There was a time where a player placed the exploding kitten card near the top but ended up with another exploding kitten card that happened to be above the replaced card. Although unfortunate, this does add to the hilarity of the situation thus making this quite fun as party game.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Review: Castles of Mad King Ludwig (good)

I've played this game maybe 5-10 times now with different number and skilled players. Overall, this is a great game for both competitive and co-op-friendly players even though this game is more competitive style. Actually, it is a competitive style play but there is a factor that seems to keep some of the less competitive players interested. So it is a great game to bring to a party of unknown players or even first time players.

Although playable with less than 4 players, I agree with most of what Lyrisse (link below) said about fewer players. We actually made it a 5 player game and it seems to work out just fine too. We used a coin or some other small object for the score keeping and made another foyer.

I am not sure if there is a favorite to who goes first and winning, at least not an obvious one. Two big factors seem to be the big value rooms and bonus cards. As long as a player sticks to a game plan, I've found that the scores usually came pretty close at the end. Lucky players with good bonus cards usually do end up winning by a larger margin but does not happen often. I have also found scoring the last place person first at the end of the game keeps the lower skilled people more involved with the game so that they can at least feel like they led even if it is a short period of time.

The game is very replay-able. I still have not found a strategy that dominates another nor which rooms to keep at what cost. I found that it did not really matter that much.

At the beginning, I said that it was also somewhat fun for less competitive players because they just enjoyed building a castle and if they are adventurous a theme to their castle. Sometimes, this made it an interesting twist for the more competitive players.

Besides making it 5 players, we've even added another bonus point system at the end. If there are other non-players around, we had them vote on who had the "best" castle. You can make it a blind judge where they do not know who owns which castle, but it was a lot more entertaining having the players "sell" why their castle is better. You can use the same bonus structure as the middle bonus (8 for first, 4 for second, 2 and 1)... or really could be any system you want to use.


Reference
http://www.boardgameauthority.com/castles-mad-king-ludwig-review/

Friday, February 5, 2016

Evolution - The Wrong Point of View

I am on the side of "evolution" in the discussion of evolution versus creation. But unlike most evolutionists, I can understand where creationists can also be correct. I chose my side because it coincides with my essence to seek the truth. My problem with creationism is that there really is not much else to seek because logic can basically stop at any point where my mind cannot conceive the idea and say it was just created that way. So it really is not a matter that I "picked" a side but rather I accept both as a possibility except that there isn't much else to "study" for creationism.

Back to the topic of the point-of-view of the word "evolution," to clarify, the evolution of animals/creatures. Fundamentally, I believe the word evolution is not the proper root to use because the connotation is that evolving is a positive mutation as if there was control of the mutation. Looking back in time, it appears to be evolving because it "adjusted" to the changing environments as if the animal decided on its new features.

The better term should be that animals are mutating (although mutation does have a negative connotation... perhaps there is a better neutral term). And only those that have the mutation that can survive the current and future environments keep living. Unlike movies or tv shows that show radical mutations, mutations are usually very small changes. Most of those small mutations are not life altering. Mutations happen all the time and can easily be observed even among ourselves from generation to generation.

Let's say a hypothetical situation where people build a higher tolerance to either heat or cold. Because we are much more mobile and free to move from place to place, people with higher tolerance to heat will slowly migrate towards hotter locations while people with cold tolerance move to colder locations where they will meet other similar people. These mutations are harmless. If the pattern continues, people will likely mate with similar people due to closer proximity to similar people. Eventually, the extremes of both people can no longer tolerate the opposite extreme but life continues.

So neither side really consciously chooses which mutation to change towards, but the natural habitat plays a factor in increasing certain mutations. While a mutation to have an extra finger may not have any factor (except maybe social ones where 5-fingered and 6-fingered people fight).

Now let us say there was a catastrophic world phenomenon where the world is freezing over. The heat tolerance people start dying off because they can no longer survive. While the cold tolerance people are surviving just enough to have future generations. In another 200 years where "freezing" temperatures are not normal weather, the cold tolerance people "evolved" to the new extreme. On the other hand, the opposite scenario could happen if the world heated up.

Of course, physics is much more complicated than that where the extreme tolerance would have likely changed other physical attributes of a person. Of course, there is guided "evolution" where we artificially bias a mutation over another for example plants. Sweet fruits used to spread because their seeds were able to travel further distances by the animals that eat them. Poisonous fruits protect themselves by preventing animals eating them. Now we produce sweeter fruits by only breeding the fruits that are sweeter.

So evolution is real or at least a pattern shown by the current creation iteration. Can I really "prove" that evolution occurred over millions of years? No, because nothing can survive even remotely that long. We cannot even prove someone did something even when strong evidence shows the high likelihood that it happened only 24 hours ago. Neither can I disprove that a fossil was created yesterday but "created" in such a way to carbon date millions of years ago.

So I do hold that creationism is possible and one that I would at least be partially possible. I would imagine that a replicator (like the one in Star Trek) would have the same principle where it could just "create" a million-year-old fossil even though it was just created.

Anyways, I hope this helps clarify some basic points and also hope that there are people who are capable of accepting multiple possibilities (a confident doubt, if you will).


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Human Spirit - Always looking for a way (transcribed)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgYZ32_5iOQ

Les Brown
One of the things that we know about life
  is that it is always changing. 
Sometimes you’re up,
  sometimes you’re down.
Sometimes things go real well, 
  and sometimes they don’t. 
Sometimes you’re happy, 
  and sometimes you’re sad. 
Now that's that thing called... life. 

And when we begin to understand and know that, accepting that reality, that... 
that we will never ever have things just on an even keel all the time. 
That you are going to have some ups and you’re going to have some downs.

But during those down moments, 
  that's where the growth takes place… 
  that's where the work is. 

Anybody can feel good when they have their health, their bills are paid. 
Anybody can be positive then, 
  anybody can have a larger vision then, 
  anybody can have faith under those kinds of circumstances. 

See... but the real challenge... 
The real challenge of growth, 
  mentally, emotionally, spiritually, 
  comes when you get knocked down.

It takes courage to act. 
Part of being hungry when you have been defeated. 
It takes courage...
  to start over again. 
The power... to hold on in spite of everything, 
  the power to endure. 
This is the winners' quality. 

This is an opportunity for you to grow. 
You’ve got to be so relentless, 
regardless of what comes down the path, 
that you are always looking for a way to get over, 
Always looking for a way... that you can break through. 
Always looking for a way... that you can win.
Always looking for a way... that you can strike a telling blow. 

Decide that you are going to push yourself.
Most people won’t do that. 
Most people give up on themselves easily. 
You know the human spirit is powerful? 

There is nothing as powerful, 
it's hard to kill the human spirit. 
You have got to be willing to go against the tide, 
you’ve got to be willing to harness your will, and say 
“In spite of this, I’m in control here, 
I’m coming back, 
and I’ll be stronger 
and better because of it.”


Friday, January 29, 2016

Men's Haircuts 2016

http://www.lifehack.org/362653/top-mens-hairstyles-2016?ref=tp&n=1

These articles are actually somewhat interesting for me to read to understand other options. I probably won't change but still good to know.

I will easily admit that I am not one that is hyper-focused on fashion. Going to the barber is a place where I am still a bit uncomfortable. I just go with the numbered guard for clippers, then just tell them to trim the top. Basically, letting the barber to interpret however they want.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Skiing vs Snowboarding

I've skied up to high school, snowboarded since until last weekend. I returned back to skiing and was a lot of fun.

I enjoyed that I no longer had to unstrap before getting on the lift then restrap after the lift. I liked that I had more control on the speed especially with a group that had a lot of diversity in skill-levels. When I was on my own, I was able to squeeze in more runs. I don't have to worry about being stuck on flat paths. I had poles to help balance.

One thing I dislike about skis are the boots. Also, I thought it was a little more tiring to ski. Snowboarding could be a little more relaxing. Otherwise, there is little else that I preferred in snowboarding than skiing except for maybe a cool/skill factor.

If you are deciding between the two, my recommendation depends on your tolerance of fear. I think it is faster to pick up skiing if you more averse to fear of falling. If you are ok with taking more risks, snowboarding may be easier. The reason is that most people afraid of falling will naturally lower their center of gravity. This is not very detrimental to skiing but makes it much harder to learn snowboarding. To add to the fear, there will be at times when you'll be snowboarding with your back down the slope. Some people feel more uncomfortable not be able to see everything.

Another factor is flexibility. You will need some flexibility to continuously unstrap and restrap your snowboard. So, you will need to be able to bend over and reach your ankles with slightly bent knees. You'll also need some agility to slide with one foot like a skateboard.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Exercise 20160109

Well, I am basically where I started last year. I was doing well prior to the end of year break...... then just gained it all back. At least my tummy was very happy... my feet, not so much... probably not for the rest of my body either. On the bright side, I am a tad slimmer so hopefully I can shed these pounds a little faster and continue where I was a couple weeks ago.

I found the google fit app which is fun to play with. I averaged about 8000 steps per day. The steps are super erratic where I have a lot of days less than 1000 (mostly because I do not carry my phone with me most of the time) and a bunch over 14000.

Now that I am in the habit of going to the gym, I am now focusing to be more efficient with my workouts. My first step is to do a 15 minute exercise at an increased heart-rate. I hope this will improve my speed which in turn should also help my endurance indirectly. Hopefully, I can reach my goal of 10k this year (set from last year).

In the last couple months, I have also added some free weight training. Still not sure what to do there yet but it is a nice break from the treadmill. I think I've gained some weight from it, but I think my muscles are getting more tone. My only measure is just my clothes... so either I'm toning or my clothes are stretching :D

In the last month, I have also started to making smoothies. This I really enjoy because I sometimes waste some fruits because it ripened too much, especially bananas. I also go through my berries faster. I can also now freeze my fruits. So overall, a great addition to my diet.

Good luck to 2016!