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So much news! The move to New Mexico... didn't work out. After about three months, I lost my job. Two days after that, I hit a patch of ice in Lubbock, lost control of the Durango, and flipped it in the median. And for my troubles, I was written up by the cop for unsafe driving. So it's fair to say that November wasn't very kind to me.

The last month has been spent in search of a new job, which was found. Today I accepted a position in Tampa at The University of South Florida! I'll be heading back out to Portales, NM after Christmas to empty out the apartment and liberate all my personal effects from the Durango, which was declared a "total loss" by the insurance company. Then... I go apartment hunting in Tampa!

January 21 (my first day) seems so far away, but man do I have a lot to do before then.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me in some fashion over the last few weeks!
23rd-Jul-2013 08:57 pm - I'm moving to New Mexico
Well, the time has finally come to make my public announcement. Today I tendered my resignation at UA and will be moving to Clovis, New Mexico to begin work at a private defense company that does contract work for the Air Force. It's been a fun ride here. I calculated recently that I've now spent roughly 43% of my entire life right here in good ol' T-Town. (And 100% of it in the state of Alabama.) Of the 14 years I've lived in Tuscaloosa, I've spent 10 of them working for UA in some capacity. I think a little shake up is due!

So what exactly will I be doing? It's a little hard to explain, but my office will essentially be an AC-130W gunship (called a Stinger), which is a "heavily armed ground-attack aircraft variant" of the C-130 cargo plane. "The AC-130W is armed with one 30mm Bushmaster Cannon and can drop the AGM-176 Griffin missle." (That's from Wikipedia. Feel free to read up on it if interested.) Despite your probable first impression, be assured that this aircraft attacks the enemy with astounding precision.

Note: I will *not* be flying in the aircraft during missions. Our role is simply one of maintenance and support for some of the systems on board.

So! There you have it. I am not 100% sure on my timeline as yet, but it looks like my last day here at UA will be August 15. I'll be starting the 15ish hour drive out to Clovis shortly thereafter...
29th-Apr-2013 12:51 pm - Where in the world should I live?
But really, let's keep it confined to the good ol' U.S. of A.

Where should I move and reboot my life? Type in your suggestion!

29th-Apr-2013 10:51 am - Heyooo
I'm glad I never told y'all about my girlfriend, because I don't have one anymore!
6th-Jan-2013 02:58 pm - Homicide
One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Homicide: Life on the Street. In one episode (The Documentary), the detectives launch into a multi-person soliloquy explaining Miranda rights, the interrogation room, and confessions. I've always considered it a truly amazing scene.

Homicide the TV series was based on a book written in 1991 by David Simon called Homicide: A Year of Killing on the Streets. I've owned the book since around 1998, but finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago. In the middle of Chapter 4, Simon launches into this exact same scene, only much more drawn out. It's so impactful, I'm going to quote it here, along with the scene from the TV show.

full textCollapse )
3rd-Jan-2013 08:58 pm - The A/V Problem

The issue

My current home theater setup will not allow video from one input source to be shown along with audio from a different input source.

Why this is a problem

In certain situations, I may want to listen to audio other than what is being fed to me by the cable television channel. Example: I want to watch Alabama vs. Notre Dame on Monday night while listening to the Eli Gold broadcast on The Crimson Tide Sports Network (via FM radio).

The backstory

Before I bought this house, I had a Logitech Z-5500 speaker system. It was my "poor man's" A/V receiver - a first, experimental foray into the world of surround sound.

And it was awesome. It really was a great first device. It had some issues, but all in all it did exactly what it was supposed to do. I ended up coupling it with an optical audio switcher, which allowed me to run the audio from the cable box, PS3, and standalone DVD player through the surround sound speakers. (My roommate owned the PS3, so I still needed me old DVD player hooked up in case he peaced out or took it with him on business trips, which happened often.)

This got me in the habit of watching video with a different audio source. Football is the most obvious example. But maybe I'm switched over to the PS3 playing some game during a commercial. I can still be listening to the cable box while playing, then switch the video source back to TV when I hear it come back. Or I could be watching a hockey game whilst listening to a Blu-ray DVD performance of Dave Matthews through the PS3. This is a total first world problem if I ever heard one, but it was really neat to have all these options.

Fast forward to about two years ago. I now live in a house with built in surround sound speakers in the living room. Having mentioned that I wanted to graduate from the Logitech amp, my dad graciously gifted me a Yamaha RX-V667 "digital home theater receiver" for Christmas.

It's fantastic. I have the cable box and PS3 hooked up, and it can handle AM/FM/XM radio, has TONS of input options, and includes a "Zone 2" feature that I use to run audio out to the back porch. In fact, using this Zone 2 method, I can do exactly what I want to do in Zone 1 (my living room) -- play the radio while the TV is showing cable!

But... like I said. Can't do that in the same zone. Are you with me?

Here's what literally happens:

If I choose Input 1 (cable TV), I get both audio/video from the cable box through the HDMI port. If I choose Tuner, I get audio from the FM radio, but the TV screen shows me an FM radio slider. Like, it's just a video companion for my radio listening experience. Essentially useless.

The solution(s) / workarounds

I've thought about how to get around this off and on ever since I got the receiver. I got a little closer to solving the puzzle a year ago for last year's national championship game.

Needing to get Zone 2 set up for the back porch, I realized that the cable box has multiple outputs. I could run standard RCA two channel audio (those red/white connectors) to somewhere else on the receiver (call it Audio 1) at the same time as the HDMI feeds the audio to my TV. The cable box didn't pick and choose, it just output the audio in both places. Cool. So I just simply turn on Audio 1 in Zone 2 and voila, cable box audio on the porch. (I already mentioned I could run the receiver's built in Tuner input (FM radio) to Zone 2.)

That's great, but it doesn't solve my problem inside the house. The HDMI from the cable box carries both audio and video to the TV/speakers, and I can't separate them.

Until today!

Yamaha RX-V667 receiverToday, I finally just sat and stared at this diagram of the back of the receiver until inspiration struck. And this is what I came up with:

I decided that I didn't have to use Input 1 (HDMI) for TV. That was the mental block all along. The cable box and the receiver both support component video (red Pr / blue Pb /green Y). So just like I had audio running out of both outputs (HDMI and RCA), I can do the same with video using HDMI and component. (Not to be confused with composite, which is the yellow plug you see with RCA red/white audio cables. Component is still high definition. Composite is complete shit.)

Ok, so I run component video cables from the cable box to AV1 on the receiver (left most input on the diagram). I've finally separated audio from video, and it was right there all along.

Now all I have to do is feed the FM radio signal into the audio input... which is optical (digital). Sigh. I have this really nifty FM radio that lets you set a delay, allowing you to sync up the radio broadcast with the obscenely slower TV feed. (It's similar to this, but not exactly what I have.) So of course the problem here is that the only output on this little gadget is a 3.5mm headphone jack. Definitely not optical audio. Definitely not even digital quality.

Amazon to the rescue! I think this little adapter plug is the only extra piece of equipment I needed to purchase at all today. Cost: $4.

I run a 3.5mm "line in" cable from the radio, through this adapter plug, and into the optical slot in AV1. Bam. Video from cable box; audio from Eli Gold on a 7 second delay.

Now, in the event that doesn't work for whatever reason, I also ordered this analog to digital converter. Through this device (and using this cable) I can still run the 3.5mm radio jack to the optical audio input.

So. My bases should be covered. This should work. I get the adapter and converter on Monday... just in time to run home and plug it up for the game a couple hours later.

Roll Tide. :)

Postscript: There is probably a better solution. If you have an alternate/better one, please let me know!
13th-Jan-2012 10:35 pm - Everything is gonna be all right!
Hi, people. Long time no post. :)

Thanks to Pandora, just ran into this sweet arrangement of "No Woman No Cry" by Blues Traveler and Ziggy Marley. Had to buy it. Had to post it!


From The Atlantic:

I'm at the Salt Lake City airport, and it probably won't come as a surprise to you that at least one TSA agent here thinks that sarcasm is just part of the job. I opted out of the new scanner--having looked it up now, it appears to have been a millimeter wave model--and was escorted over to the side after two agents gathered up all of my stuff.

"Have you been through this procedure before?" the agent asked.
"Yes," I answered.
"Just have to keep coming back for more?" he asked, somewhat to my surprise.
"You don't give me a choice," I said.
"Sure we do. You have a choice," he replied. "Scanner...or pat down!"
"I would have preferred to just go through the metal detector," I said. He paused.
"That's not a choice."
"I went through the metal detector on my way to Salt Lake City," I said. No answer.

After he competed the pat down, he continued.Collapse )

So, it's clearly not the worst TSA story ever, but I think it highlights three points (which are nothing new to you):

A) the totally arbitrary nature of the scanner selection process;

B) that passengers' decisions to opt out should never be questioned as it's none of the TSA's business why I have a problem with the scanner, even though in this case I had no problem sharing why; and

C) that passengers' decisions to opt out should absolutely never be ridiculed, or even remarked upon in a manner that could be interpreted as ridicule.

Another thought that came to mind is that had I refused to answer the agent's question, depending on how obnoxious he was feeling, he could have said that I was refusing to cooperate. So either you disclose personal medical information to the government, or you're not cooperating. What a deal.

I'm too lazy to pen any of my own thoughts here anymore. Instead, I just look around for something that's pretty close and already written. Voila.

From The Superficial (hilarious site, btw):

Because World War II is still too fresh in our minds after 80-something years – I can still feel his little moustache… – Hank Williams Jr. has been fired from ESPN’s Monday Night Football after calling President Obama “Hitler” during a FOX News interview where he was simply playing to the audience. But of course, we’re going to make a big deal out of this:

“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”

While Hank initially apologized – which he shouldn’t have, but whatever, we’ll get to that – he’s now changed his tune and says he quit ESPN for treading on him, so here we go:


“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.” — Hank Williams Jr

Seriously, is anyone actually offended when someone calls something they don’t like “Hitler” in the year 2011? It’s pretty much expected at this point. Christ, I’ve referred to sandwiches as the Holocaust. But a Republican country music star called Obama “Hitler” on a right-wing propaganda station? Oh my stars! NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS ANYMORE! What ESPN should’ve done is exactly what everyone else did: Heard the news and went “Eh. What’re ya gonna do?” Instead, they’ve now created a media sensitivity-fest where Hank can wrap himself in the American flag and say, “Look what thar librul media done to me.” People say words other people don’t like. Fucking. Deal. With. It.

Now, that being said, Hank Williams and his Rabble Rousers need to back their Rascals up with the First Amendment talk because going on FOX News and criticizing the president without being jailed for it is literally the fullest exercise of Hank’s First Amendment rights possible. And this is what simple, conservative folk don’t get: Criticizing, or reacting negatively to something you just said is not a violation of your freedom of speech. Hank Williams Jr. has every right to call Obama “Hitler,” and ESPN has every right to pull his song off their property. That’s how shit works, but I’d be more than happy to explain it at gunpoint while giving a retarded person the chair. (I’m slowly learning their language.)
... Or at least a Nexus One.

Over the last couple of weeks, the power button on my Nexus One had been acting all a fool. Besides turning the phone on, it also turns off the screen and wakes the phone up. So it started getting annoying when I had to mash the button 5 or 6 times to turn the screen off.

On Sunday, my travel-to-Las Vegas day, it died for good. I should have known something was up when I was trying to turn the phone off on the plane and no amount of hitting the power button would bring up the power down menu. In a moment of stupidity, I removed the cover plate on the back of the phone and removed the battery. Immediate problem solved.

You know what happened next, of course. I wasn't able to turn the phone back on. How could I? The power button is broken. I was worried. The phone itself is in good shape, and my plan since buying this phone over a year ago was to use it until I physically couldn't anymore. But this seemed like a cheap way for it to give up the ghost.

When I finally checked into my hotel room, the first thing I did was check out the awesome view over Mandalay Bay Beach. The second thing I did was bust out the laptop and spend an hour researching if there's a way to power on a Nexus One without a power button. It seems like an impossible task without taking the phone apart, but I had faith in the Android community.

And I was right to! After a solid 30-40 minutes, I came across a trick one guy had used to power up his N1. I immediately tried it with no luck at all. At this point I was pretty bummed. But 10 minutes later I found another post where a guy had used the same trick... with a twist. I tried that one, my heart in my throat.

... Success!

So the last few days, in between conference stuff and boozing, I've become somewhat of a pro in navigating the N1 without a power button. At first thought, it doesn't seem like that big a deal. But this is what the power button controls:

  • Power on

  • Screen on / off while powered on

  • Menu to power off, reboot, sound profiles, airplane mode (with more or fewer options depending on how yours is set up)

So how does one live without the power button?

First off, powering the phone on. Take the cover plate off. Plug the (A/C or USB) charger in. While the battery is charging, remove the battery. Put it back in. Take it out. Put it in. Take it out. Put it in. Do this about 5 times and the phone will magically power on. It sounds absurd, but it works.

At this point I suppose it would be prudent to mention that I'm running CyanogenMod 7, a custom Android OS. This actually saved my ass from the beginning because I already had the it set to allow pressing the trackball to wake the phone. If you're running stock Android, you'll have to do all your MacGyvering as soon as you get the N1 powered up using the aforementioned trick. If it goes to sleep and you can't wake the phone up using the trackball, you're pretty screwed and will have to start from scratch.

Now, about accessing all the different features the power button offers... (Some of these apps require root, btw.)

First off, if you're running CM, go into the CM Input settings and turn on trackball wake! After you've done that, it's a whole lot easier to manage.

Next, you need an app like Quick Reboot in order to reboot the phone. You can also use it to power the phone off, but then of course you have to use the battery in/out trick to get it back on.

To easily manage sound profiles (silent, vibrate, normal, etc.), check out Profile widget. There's also an Airplane mode widget by the same dev.

Lastly, even on the shortest setting, if you want to turn the screen off you have to wait at least 30 seconds. This sucks for answering a text and then putting the phone back into your pocket. Pockets do crazy things with touchscreens. There's a really neat app called Screen Off and Lock. I have it set to be in the "Ongoing" area when I swipe down into the notification screen. Now I can quickly swipe down and lock the phone.

Phew. The hoops we jump through for our devices. But it works!
oh yeah!
From today's Daily Fix in The Wall Street Journal:

And if you need yet another reason to believe once again in the fun of college football, there's Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., where 61-year-old Alan Moore will suit up as the team's kicker. Moore, an avocado farmer, left college after his freshman year to fight in Vietnam and went straight into construction when he returned. But he got the itch to kick, set up goal posts in his daughter's yard and worked his way onto the Faulkner team, where he has three years of remaining eligibility. "For Moore, the real lesson is about perseverance," Frank Couch of the Birmingham News writes. "Not in pursuing football again, but in pursuing his education. That's the real message he hopes to get across."
24th-Aug-2011 08:56 am - Biggest Loser Update
big damn hero
me running!Back in April, I joined a Biggest Loser competition with some friends. Happy to report that out of 13 or 14 people, I ended up in 2nd place with 12.5% of my body weight lost. I went from 207 lbs. down to about 180 lbs. The last few weeks of the competition were especially difficult since the tornado not only destroyed my gym, but sort of rocked all of our healthy lifestyles for a while. I didn't make it the entire 10 weeks without alcohol, but I did go 7 weeks and 2 days, which I think is pretty damn good.

The biggest question was would I gain it all back after? Almost three months later, so far, so good. Even with limited workouts at the University Rec Center (average maybe twice a week), and less than strict diet, I'm actually weighing in at just under 180 lbs. I've continued to cut Coke out of my diet completely. (I drink maybe one per week or less.) I try to run with Gabs around the Quad once a week.

Which reminds me - ran my first race ever on July 4th. Just two miles in Northport. Nothing major. Somehow it was my best time ever (18:30) even though the race was at 7:30am and I was hungover and still kind of drunk. Almost threw up in the first 30 seconds, but fought it back! I think I placed right in the middle of the pack, maybe #61 out of 120 or so. At least I beat all the moms running with their babies in slings. I'm not really a fan of running in general, but small races like these are fun if for no other reason than just being measuring sticks. Might run another race in September. This time a 5K. We'll see. I like the "free" t-shirts, anyway.
9th-Aug-2011 03:50 pm - "The Most Dangerous Man"
All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both.

One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

-- H. L. Mencken

Bonus quote: "Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods."
7th-Jul-2011 08:55 am - History of Flight

Weather permitting, tomorrow will mark the beginning of the end for the space shuttle program. A crew of only four people will fly NASA's 135th and final shuttle mission.

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. On one hand, I recognize that the shuttle fleet is old. The International Space Station is now complete. It's time for a new mission.

On the other hand, you can't help but be sad. The space shuttle is one of the most iconic American images. You look at it, with that big, bold U N I T E D  S T A T E S emblazoned on the side, and you can't help but feel pride for what this country has accomplished.

It'll be years before the U.S. gets back into space. I hope that when it happens again, we can recapture some of the lost magic of the 1960s, when people weren't complacent about the audacity and danger of space travel. There's no such thing as a "routine" mission. It took the Columbia disaster for my generation to understand that.

If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, produced and narrated by Tom Hanks. Watch it. You'll be glad you did.

A quick history of the shuttle fleet:

Enterprise: first shuttle flight (1977); used only for testing gliding and landing; not built for orbital space flight

Columbia: first orbital (1981) and operational (1982) space flight; disintegrated during atmospheric re-entry (2003) - all seven crew members died

Challenger: broke apart 73 seconds after launch (1986) - all seven crew members died

Atlantis: first shuttle to launch space probe (1989): flew final shuttle mission (2011)

Discovery: launched the Hubble Space Telescope (1990); retired (2011)

Endeavor: first International Space Station mission (1998); retired (2011)
30th-May-2011 09:25 am - Last.fm, Pandora, NMA, Marc Broussard
I've been a huge fan of last.fm for a long time (and from back when it was still Audioscrobbler). I've scrobbled almost 35,000 songs to the site since 2004. It's done a great job of recommending new music to me based off the type of music I've listened to in the past.

But as of this month, the last.fm player for Android is no longer free. I shouldn't be too surprised. The site itself has been largely unimpressive since it was purchased by CBS. I can't think of any new features that have been added. It basically just sustains... with fewer and fewer listening options as the months roll by. I stuck with last.fm while everyone was raving about Pandora. How could Pandora know what I want to listen to? I've scrobbled 35,000 tracks to last.fm! They know me better!

Well last night, since I couldn't use the last.fm Android player anymore, I redownloaded Pandora and gave it a shot. Wowsa. Maybe I just got lucky, but it was great. I started off listening to "North Mississippi Allstars" radio because I was in the mood for some bluesy rock. I eventually had to force myself to stop listening so I could go to sleep.

One of the songs that popped up was "Home" by Marc Broussard. I know his name but have never really listened to him before. Will definitely look him up now. I went ahead and impulsed purchased the album "Home" is on, called "Bootleg To Benefit The Victims of Hurricane Katrina." Five songs and only $3.77 on Amazon. (And since I was on my phone, I had Amazon download the music to the new Amazon Cloud Player.)

So check it out, and here's the first track: Home. Also, happy Memorial Day! (I say this while at work... What a gyp.)

4th-May-2011 10:38 am - Tuscaloosa Tornado - 4/27/2011
I don't even know how to write this post, but I have to write it. A week ago today, one of the fiercest tornadoes to ever hit the state of Alabama landed right here in Tuscaloosa. (Click here to see weather related Google Maps.) If you own a TV and live in the U.S., you probably saw. As of now, the official death toll is 40 with 80 people still missing (down from over 700-800 originally). I saw the actual tornado myself out the back window in my house. It might have been the most terrifying (and mesmerizing) thing I've ever seen. I kept thinking to myself, "I need to get into the bathtub." But I just stood there staring at it. I watched parts of houses behind mine lose shingles, siding, and lawn furniture. As it went left to right I realized it was going down Hargrove Rd. and heading toward 15th St. But I really had no idea what was happening.

That moment of clarity would come later.

The power went out in the middle of this. After I lost sight of the tornado, I ran outside into the street and saw this:

Leon and I started walking up the street, asking people if they were all right. Trees everywhere. Roofs all torn up. We made our way toward the ZAP office on the corner of Hargrove and Arlington to see if his Jeep was still there. As we walked down 2nd Ave. E., the trees were on top of people's houses. Power poles were down.

It was an "awesome" sight - in the classical sense of the word. But I didn't have that real moment of clarity until I walked down Hargrove and got to the top of 1st Ave. That's when I first began to understand the scope of what had just happened.

I think I just kind of stood there for a minute with my mouth hanging open. You see this kind of stuff on TV in other parts of the world. You don't see it yourself in your own town.

By the time it was all over, most of Forest Lake, part of 15th St., and almost all of the Alberta City neighborhood were destroyed. The tornado was now on its way to Birmingham and Huntsville.

I've read that the most singular thing about this tornado, aside from the sheer intensity of it, was how long it stayed on the ground. (80 miles?) Here is the path it took through Tuscaloosa.

For those of you who don't know the area, my house is just below the RD part of the HARGROVE RD label in the bottom left quadrant. The University of Alabama takes up that white area on the west side of McFarland Blvd. between University Blvd. and the river. DCH Hospital is the smaller white area underneath it where University Blvd. and Bryant Dr. intersect.

As for my house itself, it's actually ok. There are pictures in the album linked below. I lost a couple of shingles, but that's all. My neighbors all lost a lot more shingles and some siding. There are trees everywhere. The gigantic one across the street from me was ripped out of the ground and splayed across the road, blocking us all in the cul de sac for about a day. My power was out for about three days and was restored Saturday around noon. (Thanks, Gulf Power and Alabama Power!) I still don't have cable or internet yet. All the cable and telephone lines are still on the ground, twisted up in trees, and across my driveway.

I am extremely lucky considering people less than a mile away from me lost everything.

My friend Ally rented an apartment in Alberta City (which was destroyed) and was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. You can see it here: Alabama Student Loses Everything in Storm.

Believe it or not, Charlie Sheen came to visit Tuscaloosa on Monday. I'll be the first to admit, I am not a fan of his. But he did a world of good while he was here, and promises to come back to host a benefit. And so far, he's the only Hollywood type I know of who has actually visited. Sheen has even started a donation web site called Torpedos Against Tornadoes. If you donate $100, you get an autographed baseball. I've heard nothing but good things about him while he was here.

Someone even brought my friend Ally to Sheen's attention and he recorded this video message to her: http://youtu.be/UovPp7q2tAg.


If you feel like you want to help us out, this is a list of charities compiled by The Tuscaloosa News. You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make an instant $10 donation. This is a free text if you're on T-Mobile, and if you follow that link, you can see before and after pictures of the T-Mobile store on 15th St.

One last thing: I've read multiple reports from multiple people that FEMA and everyone else here from the federal government are all deeply impressed by the organized nature of the local Tuscaloosa disaster response. I haven't been in any other disaster areas, but I can personally attest to the response effort here. It is absolutely amazing. More donations are pouring in than we even know what to do with - clothing, food, water, etc. (The difficulty at this point is distribution, not collection.) Even something as simple as blood donations. There have been so many people lined up to give blood and so much given already that some of the blood banks have temporarily stopped taking it for a couple of days. You even have to make an appointment at some places! I've never been prouder to be an Alabamian or a Tuscaloosan.

And when the dust settles from all of this, Mayor Walt Maddox deserves a medal. I'm serious.

Here is my album of photos uploaded to Picasa. These are only from the neighborhoods right around me. There are many other areas in Tuscaloosa that were equally devastated.

roll tide 1
It's a beautiful thing. :)

Mark Ingram on the cover of NCAA Football 12
1st-Apr-2011 11:32 pm - My Biggest Loser Program
big damn hero
A friend of mine asked me what kind of diet I had to follow for the Biggest Loser competition my friends and I are having. There's nothing I "have" to do, of course. But my reply to her was so freaking long, I decided it might be a good idea to post here and possibly help someone else who wants to lose weight but doesn't quite know where to start. I mean, it's easy to say, "Work out! Eat healthy!" But it's a little overwhelming at first.

Keep in mind, every person is different. Some people can give up things more easily than others. Example: I gave up Coke. Some people wouldn't dream of giving up Coke - or sweet tea. Inversely, cheese is not so good for you. But I refuse to give up cheese, except in the form of cheese fries, nachos, etc. I will still put cheese slices on sandwiches and whatnot. The important thing is to decide what you can and can't do, then stick with it.

This is my program:

1) Give up alcohol and Coke - I plan on reintroducing alcohol on June 1 when the competition is over (more moderately than before), but not Coke. (*crossing my fingers*) It's fine to drink one beer or glass a wine per day, but I'm just gonna go cold turkey for a while. It'll do me good in more ways than one. Coke and the like is just bad for you, though. Sweet tea is included in the ban. Water is boring, but you get used to it. I used to scoff at people who ordered water in a restaurant, but now I'm doing it. It'll save you two bucks a meal to boot.

2) Gym - I started weight lifting with a friend, but cardio is the important thing. At least 20 minutes per session every couple of days to start with, then 30 minutes per session every other day. Try to walk more throughout the day. Oftentimes at lunch, I walk all the way from Student Services down to the Strip. (That's a 10-15 minute walk each way.) I also refuse to use the elevator in the parking deck (four levels) or in the building (two floors). That should be common sense.

Planet Fitness in Tuscaloosa costs $10 a month (I can't remember if there's a startup fee) - and you can cancel it at any time. They offer free lessons on stuff, too, so it's good for beginners. Just don't go on Monday evenings or in January...

3) Diet - IMO, doing the first two mean I can cheat a little with the diet. (Consider this Phase 1. Adjusting your diet is hard. After you get used to going without some things and adding other things, move on to Phase 2 and get a little more hardcore - if you want.) I try to cut out all fast food. I still go to places I would normally visit (non-fast food places), but stay away from the obviously awful things like cheese fries, bloomin' onions, fried stuff, etc. I try to get grilled stuff or sandwiches with wheat bread and so on. Sometimes I even eat the salad that comes with it. It's no one big thing - it's the sum of all the little things, like switching from white to wheat bread.

The biggest thing after staying away from fast food and fried stuff is portion control. Almost any restaurant you visit will give you enough for two meals. Just eat half and take the rest home. It's almost important to eat slowwwwwwly. If you eat slowly, you will get full without scarfing down everything on your plate. Your brain is late to the party in this regard. You won't be aware your stomach is full for a few minutes. So eating slowly will help you not overeat.

When you portion control, it's important to eat less per sitting, but more often throughout the day. For me, I force down a bowl of cereal in the morning when I get up to get my metabolism going. Around 10am, I eat a banana. Around 11:30 or 12 I eat lunch. Around 4pm I eat a granola bar. Around 7 or 7:30 I eat dinner. If I'm still hungry after that, I eat a few peanuts. I have some organic fruit in the fridge, too. One organic grapefruit is perfect because it's smaller than a normal grapefruit. It's easy to eat with your sandwich. (Well, easy because there isn't too much of it. It's not easy to actually cut the fruit out.)

No desserts. I really don't need them. My biggest temptation in 9 days has been the gigantic cookie cake in the office kitchen. You know I love me some cookie cake. I almost had a piece, too. I was in there filling up my water cup, and first thought, "Nah... But... maybe just one small piece." Then a huge fat lady walked in. I took it as a sign from God and hightailed it outta there! I think the only dessert I've had was a peanut butter cookie from Jason's Deli on Day 1.

Your first thought will be: "I can't eat that much food in a day!" If you do your cardio as often as you should, then amazingly, you can. I have found this out! More so even when you are weight lifting. (Btw, don't start lifting weights without some sort of instruction first. You can and will hurt yourself. Positioning and posture is just as important as the weight you are lifting.)

And looooooots of water throughout the day! You should have to pee 6 times a day! (Hot green tea is good, too.) Don't drink stuff with sugar - like sweet tea, sorry! Or with lots of sodium - like Powerade and Gatorade. Even when working out, the sports drinks aren't worth the sodium. In 9 days of doing this, the only thing I've had to drink is water and hot tea... which is water. And honestly, I'm not missing the other drinks as much as I thought I would.

That's basically it. There are lots of guides out there, but I wanted to write as someone who isn't out to make a buck. The key is to pace yourself. If you throw everything you have into the first few days, you'll flame out quickly. I like the idea of a 10 week period. It gives you time to set a pattern and adapt. And this might seem obvious, but it helps to have a friend doing all of this with you. It's easy to fool yourself sometimes, but it's harder to let a friend down. "Ehhh I don't wanna go to the gym today... But dammit, I'm meeting so and so. Might as well go."

Oh, and one more thing. Don't weigh yourself everyday! It's normal to fluctuate 5 pounds either way throughout the day. And by weighing in too often, you'll just stress yourself out with the added pressure. Weigh once a week only and keep it logged.

If this works out and I'm still living the healthier lifestyle on June 1, I'll have Candice and Casey to thank the most. Candice put the competition together, and Casey is my gym buddy who tells me what to do. I just follow orders. It's easier that way!
1st-Apr-2011 09:49 am - Opening Day 2011!
It's Opening Day in baseball! (Technically it was yesterday, but only a few teams played.) I got to see two innings of the Braves victory against the Nats during a tasty sushi lunch at Bento. Derek Lowe pitched like he was still in Boston, and Jason Heyward smacked his second consecutive Opening Day home run on his first at bat. The only other player to do this in MLB history is Kaz Matsui (of all people) for the Mets in 2004 and 2005.

Baseball is infinitely more exciting for me when I have a fantasy team to manage. And this year will definitely be the toughest. I was invited to join a very competitive private league with 16 teams. (I've only played in 12 team leagues.) On top of that, we have 24 roster spots, which makes the pool of available players considerably shallow. Sixteen teams drafting 24 rounds took almost exactly three hours! And that didn't even count the first three rounds since they were used to assigned keepers.

Browsing Reddit this morning, I saw the image on the right, reminding me that it's almost time for playoff hockey! Only five regular season games left for the Red Wings, who are in their usual spot atop the Western Conference Central Division. The Predators are nipping at their heels, though, but that could be a good thing. Maybe we'll get a Wings vs. Preds rematch and I'll see a game in Nashville again!

Bama basketball lost in the NIT finals last night to Wichita St. Sad we didn't win, but I'm hugely impressed with what Anthony Grant has done in just his second season as head coach. My only fear is that he leaves us too early to coach another, more glamorous school. Fingers crossed.

As far as my life is concerned, I guess the only (moderately) interesting news is I joined a Biggest Loser competition. I'm trying to lose the biggest percentage of my body weight against 13 other people (some of whom have already dropped out?) over 10 weeks. There's a cash prize at the end, so that's my dangling carrot. Well, that and I want to get back into shape. I've become too much of a sedentary fat ass. I've dropped alcohol and Coke (by far the hardest thing), hit the gym with Casey, and altered my diet a bit. We're one week into it now, and I'm off to a decent start. Now I'm battling an apparent cold, so that is slowing me down a little with regard to the gym. But I've still managed to go maybe 5 days out of 8.

Back to work... blah.
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