Showing posts from June, 2012

Recent Post on LETS Blog: The Wonderful Ways of Using a Word Cloud

One of my most recent and enjoyable discoveries is word clouds.  Those not entirely familiar with them, may want to find this very interesting.  Word clouds are program-generated images that display the words within a specified text in proportion to how often each word comes up.  Ultimately, it visualizes according to size, the most common words within a text.  (Also, just to clarify, most of these programs will automatically remove prepositions and other such small structured words; some will allow you to put them back in).  Using a word cloud opens up opportunity to consider meaning and interpret the text differently than we might otherwise do.

For the rest of the article, check it out here.

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Tales of 9 Runs: Insights From a Rough Run, or Lance Realizes He Is Not a Camel

It’s midway between the last run and the next run.  My goal on Saturday was to set out and run 9 miles or somehow run farther than the 8.4 miles that I have recently conquered.  Unfortunately, it did not happen, but I learned some lessons and I’m always up for lessons that don’t entail me losing a limb or my life.  

It had been a hot few days, dipping well into the high 80s and low 90s by some accounts along with some humidity.  Not fun weather by any measure.  I knew this and figured I would work with the weather—aim to run in the morning or later evening to avoid the harsh weather.  Well, I kinda failed at that.  Saturday morning started off in the 70s and raining.  The forecast said that the by 11am, it would be sunny.  I figured if I took off then that I would avoid too much heat and get in my 9 miles.  Not an entirely bad plan.  In the morning I went about my business, doing errands, stuff around the apartment, etc.  I laid down for a little nap around 10:00am (in my defense, I di…

1 Year Later: of Fitbits and Vibrams

Just about 1 year ago, I made two purchases that have made a substantive change in my life.  The extensive implementation of the these items have resulted in substantial health and lifestyle benefits in my life.  A year later, they've proven well worth their purchase and have gotten substantive use.
The FitbitThe Fitbit.  Largely, Fitbit is a glorified pedometer.  But it's an important tool that's helped me better monitor and regulate my health.  In additon to it counting steps, it also gives me a (rough) indication of how many calories I'm burning a day based upon steps, BMI, and whatever specific exercises I log on it (such as running and cycling).  Its online site (which sells a premium membership, that's not required if you purchase the Fitbit) offers a range of diagnostic measurements and input resources.  For instance, I can log my food to get a sense of my caloric intake, add my sleeping time, and other relevant tools.

So what's useful about it?  The pedo…

100th Celebratory Post!

So this is my 100th post.  It's taken my about 2 1/3 years to get here.  Not a record-breaking pace by any means but I survived the 6 month death march that happens to many blogs.  I've also successfully transistion the purpose and name of the blog from the Hitchhiking Adjunct to By Any Other Nerd.  That obviously makes my first blog post, way back when, a bit irrelevant (I'm sure there's plenty that makes it irrelevant, but just speaking to this particular aspect).

Not all posts have been "true" posts to this particular blog.  A good deal have been blog posts I've written elsewhere (such as the NSCC LETS Blog and the Freeway Flyer) and added a snippet of the post here, then redirected the reader to the actual blog post on that site.  Overall, I've managed to keep going with this blog with a range of topics, ideas and thoughts, that people have regularly commented upon.  So I've managed to keep it looking fresh, or at least I believe so.  I feel I&…

Standing Tall: After a Week of Active Standing at Desks

So the last few weeks I kept hearing about the idea of a standing desk.  Instead of sitting at a desk (especially all day if you have one of those jobs), standing desks allow you to stand at your desk.  There's lots of reasons to do this.  For myself, as a big guy, chairs are largely uncomfortable  They never give the right amount of lumbar support that I need (essentially a brick for my lower back) and the arm rests are always too low, causing my to slouch and put more pressure on my lower back.  So a standing desk sounded more ideal.  Ultimately, I can never get comfortable and that lack of comfort is a regularly distraction (ironically, I'm sitting right now because I'm not at my desk, and it is definitely annoying).

So after hearing about it and thinking about it, it seems to make sense for me.  It was either makeshift a standing desk and enjoy the various health benefits (e.g. burn more calories) or spend more money needlessly to get a hopefully more comfortable (ablei…

My latest Best Reads of 2011-2012

So this isn't the first time, I've catalogued my most favorite reads.  I'm not going to list the exhaustive thing from last time and if that's not enough, you're always encouraged to visit my GoodReads library. However for this post, I'm going to cover significant books since that last posting.

Some interesting trends on these books.
1.  A lot less fiction.  Clearly, the career change has resulted in redirecting more nonfiction books overall, but a lot more of those are proving more thought-provoking than much of the fiction I've enjoyed.  There's also the fact that I continue to read several fiction graphic novels such as Fables, DMZ, and Walking Dead.  Added to that has been a few new (or previously unmentioned series).  Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire (who is quickly rivalling my other two favorite comic writers:  Bill Willingham of Fables, and Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead and Invincible) has proved enjoyable. Brian Michael Bendis's Powers series …

Tales from 9 Runs: Run 4

Today's run was the Xtreme Urban 5k in Salem.  It was a fun run with various obstacles placed throughout the run such as crawling under barbed wire, climbing over couches and grocery carts, cargo nets, entering the backdoor of a bus, scaling a soapy incline with a knotted rope to help you up, and a potato-sack portion (yes, potato sack racing--yeehaaaa!).  The finale was a slip and slide, which I totally kicked ass on.  If someone were in front of me, they would have been injured by my careening mass.  Luckily, no one was hurt in this race (by me).  For a sense of what it looked like, you can check out the map here.  How did I do for a time?  I'm not entirely sure.  If you look at the time listing here, I'm missing from it.  However, given when a fellow friend finished, I'm guessing that I'm #195 or "Unknown Partic. 424".  I was a known participant, but I think my race tag didn't register a finish or start.  Not sure, but 37:29 seems about the right r…

Tales from 9 Runs: Mid-Run Update, Or How Others Help Inspire Me to Kick My Ass

It's still a week away from my next run, but I had a breakthrough I wanted to share.  Yesterday, I ran 8.2 miles, which is the farthest I've ever run.  I ran it in 1 hour, 21 minutes, 30 sections, which means I was (albeit slightly) under 10 minute miles.  It's not a record by any account, but that I was able to maintain (just under) 10 minute miles and that I finished the run feeling great has been a great upturn in what had previously been feeling like a slump.

So what got me over the hump?  Well, after last week's run, I felt I needed to up the ante.  So this week, I made sure to commit myself to 3 days of running.  I also made sure that it was substantial running, so I did 4.5 on Monday, 7.2 on Wednesday, and 8.2 on Friday.  I wasn't setting out to do 8.2 earlier in the week, but throughout Friday, I kept coming back to the idea.  By lunch, I had determined that, I would accomplish the goal.

But there's lots of goals I tell myself I'll accomplish and hav…