2013 Word of the Year: Open

Posted by on Jan 12, 2013 in Blog, Geek, Life Experiments | No Comments

My word/manifesto/goal/guiding principle of 2012 was: “Create”

That still applies, but I thought it would be a good exercise to choose a new word for 2013. And that word is: “Open”.

This applies to my work: instead of hosting my side projects on private repositories, I will keep them public, whenever possible. (Doesn’t apply to work for my company or clients, of course!)

To kick that off, I’ve pushed a few repos:

First immediate benefit of working on a public repository: can’t take shortcuts like hard-coding API keys in my code (had to strip some of those out/change & invalidate API keys from some of the above repositories).

What about personally? What does it mean to be open?

  • It means less hesitation when talking about myself.
  • It means giving my honest thoughts & opinions whenever possible.
  • It means being more outgoing.
  • It means being more vulnerable to what other people think; it means worrying less about what other people think.
  • It means posting more of my writing publicly.
  • It means updating my blog more often.

I’m not really sure that this is a good idea, but I’m going to give it a shot.

How I Started Running Regularly (A Failed Experiement)

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Blog, Life Experiments | No Comments

I’ve always had a desire to be someone that loves running, and runs regularly. I love the idea that you can do it anywhere, without much more equipment than a pair of shoes (and even those are not technically needed). Unfortunately, it’s much easier to dream about being a runner than actually doing it. I’ve tried to start runningĀ regularly a few times in the past, but usually quit after the first or second day. So at the beginning of April (2012), Ā I resolved to try again.

I used a program called “Couch to 5K”, which is a running program geared towards inexperienced runners (aka couch potatoes), with the goal of working up towards being able to run 5km. It is an interval training program, which means there are periods of running, followed by periods of walking, and repeat. The running intervals start out small (you only run for 30 seconds at a time during the first week), and gently increase each week until you are running the entire time.


I printed off a “VisualC25K” chart, and posted it on my bathroom door, so I would see it often. I got a free app for my iPhone that times your runs according to the C25K program, and has a voice that tells you when to run, and when to walk. I already had running shoes & workout clothes, so there wasn’t anything I needed to buy.


I followed the program as prescribed, and ran 3 times/week. Some days it was hard to get started, but once I left my house and started running, I usually enjoyed it. After a week or two, I started to look forward to my runs. Even when I was running, and the app told me to stop, sometimes I wanted to just keep going (this is why the program is good–if I did keep running I’d probably run out of energy too quickly).

The Last Day: Week 4, Day 2

That was the last day I ran. I ran 3 times/week (minus one sick day) for the entire month of April, which is more successful than my attempts in the past. In the end, I had to quit because I was getting knee pain. I’m not sure why, whether it’s my shoes, too much running on pavement, or something else, but I couldn’t run anymore. I tried to “run through” the pain a couple times, but realized that it’s probably a bad idea. (It would actually be fine most of the time when running, but only after would start hurting.)

I will ask my doctor about this, but I might just have to concede that running is not for me. Perhaps at some point in the future I will try again, but for now I will stick to biking, and might take up swimming for extra exercise. I feel like I gave it a fair shot, didn’t give up too quickly, and that’s that.

Quantified Self – What I Track: Health & Fitness, Calories Consumed Version

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in Blog, Life Experiments | No Comments

I attended a quantified self meetup last week, and was inspired to post about what I track, and also some analysis of the numbers. This is the first instalment.

I’ve been tracking daily calories consumed for about a year, off and on.

There are a ton of apps that you can use to track your food intake. I use MyFitnessPal (mostly the app, but they also have a website), because I like their extensive database of foods. They allow users to add foods, so almost every major brand/restaurant food item is already in their database. This makes it easy to track your meals without entering in all the nutrition info yourself.

I try to log most days, though sometimes I get sick of it. By now, I am able to get a good idea about how much I’m eating without looking everything up, so the need to track isn’t as strong. Also, I’ll admit, some days I know I’m going to eat too much or crappy food and then I won’t track that day, because what’s the use? (Then sometimes I know I want to eat things I shouldn’t, but force myself to track it anyway, so I am at least aware of how much I am consuming.)

Why track? My main goal in tracking every calorie is to keep under a certain daily goal. I’m not really tracking to analyze the data over time or anything–it’s to teach me how to modify my food intake to stay under my goal. The eventual ideal is that I moderate my food take by myself, without tracking.

How? Most of the times, I track as I go, and size my meals appropriate to how much I’ve already had that day. Then other times, I use it as a planning tool, and enter in my meals the day before, so I can be sure it all adds up, and there’s balance between the meals. The latter is usually when I’m making all my own food–it’s a bit hard to plan like that when eating out.

McDonalds is great for calorie counters! Because they are so consistent, and post calorie counts for every item, it’s easy to control how many calories you eat. In most non-fast food restaurants, you don’t know how many calories are in the food, and it’s likely more than it appears. They make food taste better by adding more butter! This is why making your own food is better in every way, since you can control exactly what goes into it.

Get a food weigh scale if you want to count calories. It makes tracking so much easier; I use mine all the time! It basically replaces measuring cups, too.

I don’t see myself doing this forever. The main goal is to gain awareness of how much I’m eating. Once I’ve learned to do that on my own, I will drop the tracking.

Quantified Self – Things I Track

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Blog, Life Experiments | No Comments

Things I track:

  • Calories Consumed (Daily)
  • Weight (Daily)
  • Money Spent (Daily)
  • Bike trips (GPS tracking for all rides)
  • Time spent in apps/sites (RescueTime & Time Sink)
  • Music Listened to (last.fm)
  • Computer Activity Level (MacBreakz–active, no logs)
  • Meditation (Equanamity)
  • Books (GoodReads)
  • Locations (Foursquare)
  • Health Month (various)
  • Fitness/workouts (Fitocracy)
  • Steps taken (Fitbit)