Jun 26, 2015

pin point

This newer farther range tracking cam footage of the last SpaceX first stage landing really puts into perspective how friggin hard this is to do. When you see the close up cam it just looks like the rocket comes in and botches the landing. But from far back you can see how they really are threading a needle. They have limited fuel and a giant multi-story building coming in at 100s of miles per hour that has to land on a dime-sized barge. They're so close really. It's just a matter of time as the last two failures were really just small malfunctions and errors.

lies lies lies

Ugh. One-quarter of cancer research studies contain faked data.

Ugh Ugh. Only 6 of 53 "landmark" cancer studies could be confirmed.

Do you really believe this is contained within cancer research?

Jun 15, 2015

shoulder day

I always feel like shoulders get blown off in workout routines. I've partially dislocated my shoulder a number of times now and if I don't work it hard it can really stiffen up. So.

  • Alternating shoulder press - Keep the weights up on your shoulders. Extend upward, one at a time
  • Upright rows - Pull hands directly up to chin, keep elbows pointed out to the side and above your hands
  • Arm circles - I hate these. Very light weight. Arms extended and make small circles. 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off, 10 seconds on, etc.
  • Forward arm extension - Lift arms directly in front of you
  • Outward arm extension - Lift arms directly to the side of you
  • Seated arm flys - Sit down. Elbows bent 90 degrees, lift outward to side
  • Extreme pike press - You're trying to do a push up but as upside down as you can. Pike/downward dog position, feet close to hands, dip head down to flow
  • Pour flys - Like outward arm extension but at the top you twists wrists so weights are pointing down
  • Y presses - Weights at shoulders, lift up and out to make a Y with your torso
  • Last 6 exercises are Alternating shoulder press and upright rows again

Jun 13, 2015

is that a big island you have there or are you just happy to see me

I went to Hawaii when I was a kid. Oahu. To be frank I kind of thought it was a bit lame. The pineapple was good. The beaches were nice. But something about it just seemed so touristy even at a young age. And that's probably because it is. Last year for our 10th anniversary we went to the Big Island on the recommendation of my best man who grew up in Hawaii. And it was a completely different experience.

The Big Island is the most underdeveloped island in Hawaii. And that suits me just fine. Cities are cities. But the outdoors has great variety. The geology of Hawaii is fascinating. As soon as I landed I wanted to know more. It has such an alien landscape. Here's a good example. You're driving along and, what the hell, you're in the middle of an old lava floor. Those grasses in the photo are some of the first vegetation that can take hold in the solid lava once it cools. Serving to break it up and allow other plants to grow some years later. Also note the black color of the lava. This tells you it's a relatively young flow. Lava contains a lot of iron and 'rusts' over time and turns an orange-brown.

We went back last week for 3 days. I think my wife and I are kind of enamored with the place. We stayed at the Hualalai. The Mauna Kea has a much better beach but this resort has its own charm too.

For one, green seat turtles are everywhere. And they're pretty cute with big big eyes.

Most of the Big Island doesn't have a sandy beach. It's the youngest, and most volcanic island, and so the shores are generally solidified lava. It has the same feel as Big Sur (another of my favorite spots).

I believe the beach at Haulalai is man-made. But it's fine. We aren't there for the beach for the most part.

Last time we hit most of the major hikes that allow you to see volcanic activity, waterfalls, and black sand beaches. We did another hike similar to last time that takes you down to a very secluded black sand beach. It involves a steep hike down (and later back up!).

Combined with the humid weather, hikes mean significant perspiration. Bring water! But most of the hikes have huge payoffs. Everything is gorgeous on the island.

The second hike we did was Kiholo Bay near the resort. It's about a mile hike through white-black sand beaches and lots of sea turtles.

At the end is a blue blue bay and a vast sea of solidified lava. Here's a typical example. I call this "brownie lava" because it looks like the top of brownies.

The real pretty spot though is the bay. Lots of turtles. Reasonably warm water. And no one else. I didn't see a single person while we were there.

We're going back again in August. It's become an addiction.

Jun 10, 2015

back day

Day 2 is back day. Whereas chest exercises use triceps a lot, back exercises use biceps. So it's smart to put them together so there is very little overlap.

Day 1
Back workout (also works biceps and to a lesser extent shoulders)

All exercises without weights completed to maximum reps. All exercises with weights completed to 10 reps and then you bump up the weight. You are allowed 2 minutes per exercise (2 min x 15 exercises = 30 minutes). The first workout sets your rep counts. Each workout after that focuses on increasing by 1 rep or 10 seconds or whatever across the entire workout. The idea being you want to spread out your gains versus killing the first few exercises and being wasted later on.
  • Pullups - Wide: Wide grip pullup
  • Pullups - Regular: Regular width grip
  • Pullups - Closed grip: If thumbs are sticking out they should just touch
  • Pullups - Reverse grip: Palms facing towards you
  • Pullups - Corn cob: Wide grip, go up, slide left then back, slide right then back, slide back then back, decline; Repeat.
  • Repeat the last 5 exercises
  • Seated back pulls: Sit in chair, chest on knees and pull back with elbows and hands close to body
  • Bent-over back lift: Legs slightly bent, lean over holding weights and then straighten back
  • Seated back flys: Sit in chair, chest on knees, lift weights out like a bird
  • Benched pulls: Lie face down on bench and pull weights directly back (like seated back pulls)
  • 1-arm lawnmowers: Get into a lunge and pull 1 weight up like starting a lawnmower

chest day

Alright. I'm already getting bored of P90 so I'm transitioning to my own workout. This workout will be 7 days a week but it's only 30 minutes a day so I'm fine with that. Each day gets a muscle group workout. I'm not sure if I've concocted this correctly yet, so I may modify as I go through this.

Day 1
Chest workout (also works triceps and to a lesser extent shoulders)

All exercises without weights completed to maximum reps. All exercises with weights completed to 10 reps and then you bump up the weight. You are allowed 2 minutes per exercise (2 min x 15 exercises = 30 minutes). The first workout sets your rep counts. Each workout after that focuses on increasing by 1 rep or 10 seconds or whatever across the entire workout. The idea being you want to spread out your gains versus killing the first few exercises and being wasted later on. If your triceps gets toasted from the first pushup exercise then you're not really going to work your chest on the 10th pushup exercise

  • Pushups - Heart to heart: Push up where your hands are together and lower down your chest so when you decline your hands hit your heart
  • Pushups - Decline: Raise your feet up with something like a chair
  • Pushups - Incline: Raise your arms up with something like a chair
  • Pushups - Regular: Pushup with arms about shoulder width apart
  • Pushups - Wide: Farther apart than regular
  • Pushups - Military: Hands by your side, elbows tucked back
  • Pushups - Pike: Bend your waist like downward dog; works upper chest and shoulders
  • Chaturanga fly: This is my own move based on the yoga move. Simply do a wide pushup and stop at the bottom and hold for as many seconds as possible
  • Chest flys: Need a bench press table for this or a backless stool
  • Pushups - Spiderman: One arm back, leg on same side bent up (knees to elbows), one arm out,  leg on same side straight; switch every 5 pushups
  • Pushups - Side to side: Start in regular pose, lift arm and same side leg out and do a pushup. Repeat on other side and switch back and do it again
  • Alternating floor press (3X): Basically a bench press from the floor
  • Svend press: Grab a weight with 2 hands, hold it at chest level, extend arms out in front of you

Jun 4, 2015

side effects?

I've been in ketosis dozens of times. There's a number of side effects of entering ketosis that last about 2-3 days.

  • Extreme lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
The first time I was in ketosis, it was like a truck hit me. I got home from work at 7pm or so and crashed, as my wife did, on the bed and woke up the next day at 7am. It completely took me out. The headaches were unbelievable and aspirin did nothing. I didn't become constipated luckily. 

Each time I've gone into ketosis things have been a little easier. But the headaches and lethargy are still there.

Until this time. I started a ketosis run on June 1 and I was sure I was in ketosis today because it had been a few days coupled with some relatively strenuous workouts. And yet no headaches or lethargy. So I checked with the pee strips that are made for diabetics. Bam. Ketosis. I'm not sure if my body has just become acclimated to getting into ketosis or what. But there were no side effects. I'm not sure I've heard of anyone entering ketosis without side effects.

Jun 1, 2015

you too

I went to a rock concert last night. This is unusual because 1) I haven't been to rock concert in like 20 years and 2) I used to go to a lot of rock concerts. When I was young in Minnesota, rock concerts were just a major part of my entertainment. I camped out in -20F to score front row Billy Idol tickets 1988 or so. I recall walking into a bar on Hennepin, removing my clothes, wrapping the bar's entire supply of toilet paper around my body, and putting back on my clothes in an effort to not freeze to death. How my parents sanctioned this kind of behavior I have no idea. And then in grad school in San Francisco I kept at it visiting much smaller venues and more obscure bands in the SoMa and Haight-Ashbury areas. And then I got a job and I can't recall seeing anyone live except for Gary Numan in Chicago in 1995 or so. I wasn't about to camp out in lines any more and the hustle and bustle of the shows was unpleasant. 

So it was a little weird going to see U2 last night. I'm not a huge fan of them. I was when I was young. All the pre-Joshua Tree stuff. And then they got big and I moved on. I did see them on the Unforgettable Fire tour but we had such nose-bleed seats that I'm not even sure it was them. This time around we had some primo seats thanks to my wife.

They played at the Forum. I don't really know what the Forum is but it used to be where the Lakers played so I think it has some meaning to the locals.

Unlike previous concerts where you jostle with the crowd to get in, my wife also scored some VIP passes from a friend so we ate and drank in some VIP thingy inside the Forum. A lot more pleasant.


It's a nice venue to see a large band. Not too big. And well laid out. And U2 was smart in that they built a catwalk that stretches from one end to another. That way everyone kind of gets to see them up 'close'. That pit of people below reminded me of my moshing days but it was a pretty civil (and old) crowd.

The band came on. When I used to like them they were kids and scrappy and... They were honed professionals now. They could sing and play their instruments before but the showmanship and presentation is what separated them. It was almost too slick for someone like me who likes scrappy bands. But it was easy to see why people like going to their shows.

They had an interesting cage above the catwalk that allowed them to either project visuals onto it or it actually had LEDs built into it. I couldn't tell. I think the latter because there were no edge-effects. Here you can see the cage with nothing projected onto it. Again as professionals it's a smart move to be near all your fans at various times to give them a personal experience in such a big place.

And here it is with something projected on it. They had artistic visuals as well as live footage of the members playing. As a guitarist (a shitty one) I kind of watched The Edge the whole time. It's funny recognizing guitars and chords and techniques. From what I can tell The Edge actually plays very easy to play stuff and uses effects like echo to boost up the sound. Whether you consider that a cheat or very smart is a personal decision. But I think it's clever how he's able to get such clever sounds with such little effort. For me The Edge's playing was really the best thing about the band. Anyway it was fun.

May 22, 2015

mason selection tasks

Peter Wason was a psychologist interested in how our minds solve problems. He developed a problem that surprisingly few people get right even though they are not conceptually hard.

Here's one. You can watch the video and click on what you think the right answer is to see if you got it right.

What is interesting about this problem is that 90% of people get it wrong. But I think that is not surprising. Our brains generally don't strive for efficiency which is what this problem is asking you to do (least number of cards turned over to verify the proposition). Flipping a card costs nothing so why waste brain power on figuring the least amount of cards to turn over?

But also interesting is that the largest reason people get this wrong is is because it deals with symbols (colors and numbers). If the same question is re-couched into something we have familiarity with, then the percentage of correct results shoot up. This was shown by another set of psychologists in 1982 when they rephrased this problem into one that involved asking if 4 people at a bar were old enough to drink (21 years old). The right answer went up to 75%. There are two competing explanations of why this contextual change, resulted in dramatically different results.

The first belief is that we have two competing analysis systems in our brain. One that is very good and analytical and one that is more intuitive. If you got the answer above wrong then your more intuitive answering system likely made that choice of answering. At least that's the belief.

This makes some sense to me. Going into this I knew, as you probably did, that this was going to be a trick question in some sense. And so my brain first tried to structure the problem as my engineering degree and training at McKinsey has taught me to do. I reread the question to be sure I understood what was being asked and then systematically went through each card to determine if it had any bearing on the answer. My answer is right. But you can see how this is a laborious process when we might be introduced to many choices like this in a day.  Studies show that the more analytical system degrades with age.

The other answer to why people get Mason's problem wrong and the drinking one right is that we are socially conditioned to quickly understand if someone is breaking the rules. I find this funny but I also think it also carries some weight as an explanation. I'm not sure if the wording of the Mason problem can be changed to make it easy (75% hit rate) but not involving something that invokes our sense of a social contract to test this theory.