Going to Boston soon

After dithering quite a bit I finally decided to attend the Centennial Celebration of the founding of the MIT chapter of my fraternity (Kappa Sigma) in a few weeks. Plus I hope to get an extra day and try (most of) the ascent of Mt. Washington, reliving another memory.

In general I don’t like reunions and have avoided them like the plague. In fact my 50th high school reunion was just held this summer and I did invite one attendee over for dinner who swore I/we (plus my wife was in same class) missed a great event. But even with that enthusiastic description I wasn’t sold and so don’t regret not going.

But in a couple of years I have my 50th MIT reunion which to me is a bit bigger deal, plus obviously a once in a lifetime event. But due to the circumstances of my undergrad days I actually had few friends outside of the people in my fraternity (which, then, was across the Charles and so isolated from other school social events).

So when I got the invitation to attend my fraternity’s Centennial that sounded more promising. Not only might I know more people at that event, but the obligations of brotherhood in a fraternity require everyone to be on best behavior and be civil and so forth. Even the young current members will be pleasantly attentive to us old farts because that’s their obligation. So this is more likely to be a better social event for my taste. And it’s not so packed agenda so there will be lots of time to see the surrounding area.

I have been back to Boston multiple times on business trips (only once for vacation) but I was usually too busy with work to do more sightseeing, so this trip fits the bill. And it settles the issue of attending 50th reunion (of course this event may reduce my aversion to reunions and I’ll attend that one too).

So soon off for hopefully a fun trip. Then a week later is our fall vacation so I get to throw the canyon country of Utah and later Santa Fe in for an interesting contrast to the intensely urban area of Boston. Now the question is: can I still drive like a maniac Boston driver?


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Programming post; can’t crosspost it

I spent a long time writing a post based on a simulation I was doing about certain behavior in an application I’m writing. I thought I’d be able to crosspost it here when I was done, but that doesn’t appear to be a feature.

So here’s a link:  Testing randomness in my application


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Back at Starbucks – 11

I thought I might be done with this post thread but here I am at Starbucks yet again, exiled (somewhat suddenly) from my home where I was busily and eagerly working on a personal programming project. I hate be interrupted in mid-thought when I’m working as my stack of ToDo’s evaporates when I have to switch gears. And seating arrangements and Starbuck’s environment are not very conducive to programming so I guess I’ll find other things to do, my usual routines here.

For several months now the cause of my exile has not been present, but now it’s returning. As usual there is the steady creep back to the previous expected conditions of entitlement of the person who wants the services of my house. Of course that person would love me around, as another cook and waiter, too, but I’m at the very least not going to do that routine.

Meanwhile this situation gives me a chance to catch up on some posting. The good thing about being stuck at Starbucks is that it’s a good place to work on posts and so not being here has been one of several factors why my posting has been so light lately. The others are: a) my obsession with getting weight back under control, so much of my day is spent on exercise machines, b) home is not a good place to have the privacy to do these posts, c) my programming projects consume most of the rest of my available time. Hard to believe, that retired, I don’t have time for a few posts. Of course I’ve been posting other places as well.

And soon it’s about football season and I’m stuck with season tickets (yet again, not my choice, hopefully most will get sold this year) and that really blows the weekend. Or, of course, geodashing trips that eat up at least one weekend. And at the September will be another vacation. It seems like just yesterday I was on the road, but in fact it’s now about four months ago. I really wish I could do a lot more trips, especially solo, but it seems I have the pattern now, no (long) travel in summer or winter, fall is for “family” travel, and spring is my only chance for solo trips. Given I just turned 68 there won’t be many more opportunities for camping trips so I hope I can get a few more while I’m still able.

I’m not going to post my weight charts since I pigged out yesterday and blew my record (even after hitting new (recent) low during the week). The tyranny of my data collection is an occasional discouragement but I know today’s number was semi-bogus so I’ll just keep going and focusing on longer-term, but I was thinking with the interruptions of vacation and football games it’s going to be hard to hit my target. Sure I could try to maintain eating discipline (exercise is almost impossible) during these other activities, but that kills some of the fun so therefore I end up blowing a full week of progress just by having a little fun.

But enough of this, more posting to do other places and usual Sunday online chores.

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Time to get back on the wagon – 2

Now 12 days into my renewed discipline I have only a bit of progress to show. I’ve succeeded in building exercise back up, probably adding 300 cals/day burned, but this isn’t enough. Unlike my original major weight loss I’m having a harder time trying to maintain calorie intake discipline. And my statistics are unclear as to whether I’m making much progress:


The chart above extends the previous one in my first post with this title with the 12 days in August (shown as red markers). Note that my first two days of renewed discipline actually hit recent highs and then weight began to decline. The regression line’s slope (1.43 lbs/wk) may actually overstate the loss, esp. given the usual effect that immediately upon starting weight discipline there is a early big drop. The real bad thing is the high variability, rather than nice steady decline. Now part of this is undoubtedly the poor measurement (I’m not doing multiple weigh-ins and averaging like before so I know each point is probably around ± 1.5lbs. BUT, the good news is the gain has been arrested and at least I’m showing a few points down in the 192-193 range. To the extent I can trust the regression line as a future prediction it looks like I might hit my August target, but even assuming I do that’s still a long way to go to where I need to be, so we’ll see.

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Added another blog

I’m mostly creating this post to have a link to my new blog, A Place for Words as it doesn’t appear that Google is indexing it yet. I’m not actually notifying you, Dear Reader, about this as I don’t (necessarily) want my loyal readers to check it out. This new blog represents a programming and knowledge project that won’t be of general interest here.

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Time to get back on the wagon

For the past three months I’ve gone on my fanatical record keeping and weight control and I’ve paid the price. I have collected minimal daily weight (single reading from scale, known to be inaccurate, plus a single (first) weight tends to understate actual average of multiple reading due to some weirdness in scale). But no matter how I look at it the last three months have been a bad trend I now must reverse before it gets worse. So here’s the bad news:


The gap between week 82 and week 86 was the time of my retreat to the Dakotas where I have no data at all. The first data in week 80 was the first week in May and the last data is for first day of August. Piecing this together was a chore since I had multiple flaws in my data collection: a) before my retreat I had no absolute calendar dates in my solid record keeping so it was a lot of deduction to correctly set my scale, and, b) I had no absolute calender dates (just day-of-week) in my sporadic weigh-ins since returned. But I did manage to piece the data together to create continuity between recent infrequent data and earlier (for 81 weeks) solid data. Then I can put this together for the graph above to show the overall consequences.

I was fairly steady, in April and May, before my retreat, right at my target (185lbs). Of course during retreat I had no data at all but I can recall many days with substantial eating, other days with “normal” (not too much, but not diet either). And during retreat, while I did some “real” exercise, my fanatical exercising (nearly 1000 cals/day) definitely dropped off. Since returning my exercise has probably been about 300 cals/day below what I was doing during intense weight control and fitness, which actually adds up to about 3.5lbs/month. And interestingly, that’s most of my weight gain.

IOW, I’ve managed to pack on about 0.9lbs/week in past three months or a total gain of about 12lbs, i.e. about 3lbs/month. It appeared, in late June and early July I was doing OK job of maintenance, but toward end of July a lot of feasting undermined that and so I hit, for several days, my “trigger” weight (195lbs) where I have to get back to discipline and reverse the gains.

Contrary to my intuitive notion I’ve actually do a little better after the retreat than during it as shown below:


But it is a fairly steady trend upwards, although at somewhat lower gain/week, in the last eight weeks. I thought, wrongly, I was doing more or less OK for about 1.5 months, but taking the long view it’s clear I was not at maintenance and my infrequent weigh-ins were deceiving me.

So what do I learn from this:

  1. I must do daily weigh-ins (at least mostly) and pay attention to these. Contrary to a lot of the stupid weight control advice, more data, more weigh-ins is critical.
  2. I have to return to my higher level of exercise, getting those 300 cals/day back into my exercise plan.
  3. And, given I will have some eating days above my target calorie limit I have to compensate with days below, so at least my average is my target (I think my “good” eating days were probably just about my target level, so the “high” days are not compensated for).

The real point though, is I must continue to be moderately fanatical about record keeping so these graphs and analysis drive my disciple. Without all the statistical stuff (including getting back to intense exercise recording and analysis) I just get this drift up that goes largely unnoticed in short time periods but adds up over long intervals. Of course I can also tell this by the tightness of my pants but that takes at least a month to be noticeable. In short it’s the disciple each and every day that matters, not the less frequent data gathering and concern.

So where does this leave me. I gained 12 lbs during this three-month period of inattention, less exercise, and more eating. I need to reverse that. I need to try (possibly won’t succeed) to lose not just the 12 lbs I gained, but actually get a bit lower, so 15 lbs needs to be my target. But my most immediate goal is more like 10lbs. I suspect, if I really get my discipline back, I’ll do better during August than after I’m back down a bit.

So my targets are:

191.0 by Aug 31 (i.e. 5lb loss)

187.0 by Sep 30 (4lb loss)

184.0 by Oct 31 (3lb loss)

These are doable but not easy especially as the next three months is going to have days with over-eating (various dinner parties and eating out, possibly a trip, in late Sep) so my real emphasis needs to be burning calories with exercise. During July I hit a record of “real” biking which also meant treadmill and stationary biking were lower and I need to reverse that. Hopefully I can make most of my progress in next 1.5 months since a possible trip at end of September is going to be some backsliding (definitely less exercise, probably more eating), so to make my October end goal may require aggressive loss during the time after returning from vacation.

But the key point of all this is that I can’t be casual about weight maintenance and have to use most of the same disciple (and record keeping and statistical analysis) I was doing before during my very successful (and huge) weight loss.

One day at a time, with a few “bad” days that have to be compensated for with better-than-average days.

So, Dear Reader, you may get to start seeing all my charts and Nate Silver-ish analysis you probably thought had disappeared. Get ready for boring posts.

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My longest ride on MoPac

As I’ve reported before I do a lot of riding on my stationary bike, now over 9000 miles in about 16 months, but I relatively rarely ride my real bike (I have three, leftovers from my California riding). When I first moved to Omaha I tried to keep up my riding (I’d usually done about 4000 miles/year, much of it through commuting to work), but it was just too hard. There are at least 3 winter months where it is nearly impossible and the summer months are so hot and humid it was really unpleasant. And once you get out of shape then riding is not fun. So I dropped riding for about 10 years.

But with all the conditioning I was getting with stationary bike, plus much lower weight so maybe I wouldn’t sweat so much, I decided to take it up again. I took my decent mountain bike to the local Trek store for refurbishing and got going again. However there really aren’t any good rides here, compared to the great riding available in the West Bay. Trails are better than nothing, but they’re boring and almost always have strong headwinds.

So the only biking I’ve actually enjoyed in the MoPac Trail, an old railroad right-of-way that has been converted into a 25 mile foot and bicycle trail. At least with good weather it’s not a bad trail, but it’s also nearly an hour’s drive away, and the idea of burning up two gallons of gasoline then just to ride bugs me and so I rarely do it.

But yesterday was very unusual for Nebraska summers. Cool and dry air made it down from Canada and so overnight temp was 50 and daytime temp was low 70s with little humidity, IOW, a great day for riding. So I did haul bike in the car down to try to do most, but not all of the MoPac (50 miles on MTB on gravel would always have been a tough ride). Circumstances forced me to turn around so I only did 23 miles round trip but that’s now my longest ride since being in Nebraska, a minor accomplishment. Now a 23 mile ride is nothing for me, in my old California days. My routine Saturday and Sunday rides were around 30 miles, each day. But that was with a touring bike where I’d average about 17mph whereas yesterday I averaged more like 10mph. I could have done a bit better, both faster and longer, except I’ve had an unusual rash of flats, four in the last four rides, counting the flat yesterday. So on the ride bike I had to stop about every 10 minutes and pump up the tire. Plus when the tire got low the ride was very unstable (rear end of bike kept slipping) plus it took considerably more peddling effort. It’s too bad to have had that trouble because I felt like doing a longer ride.

Anyway I took a couple of pictures with iPod Touch (lousy camera, but easy to carry), so at least I can include these here:


This is a shady stretch of the trail near its eastern terminus near the tiny town of Wabash (I used to call this trail the ‘Wabash’, but that’s actually a better trail in Iowa). Since this is an old and flat railroad grade it is mostly in a cut and in many areas surrounded by “wild” green stuff (most of the trail is in cornfields) so it actually has a nice feel to it.



the first (eastern) part of the trail is near Weeping Water Creek and so this little creek is a tributary, with an old but now refurbished railroad bridge.

On a pleasant day for riding and few other people this trail can be a good riding experience even though it is slow (due to unpaved surface thus also requiring fat tire bike). However, in the entire 15 years I’ve lived here there has been no extension to the trail even though the right-of-way could connect all the way to Omaha. Somehow the state doesn’t care enough to build more trail (most of the funding has been donations, not taxes, but state has to get the permits and control the work whoever pays). It’s too bad it isn’t longer because a “wilderness” trail from Omaha to Lincoln would attract a lot more riders and if a town (like Elmwood) roughly in the middle had accommodations for distance hikers or bikers it could really be a nice ride/hike. But even though it is disappointing the trail hasn’t been extended at least 25 miles of it got built, better for Lincoln residents since it connects to street trails in Lincoln.

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