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Falcons Midseason Report

Falcons Throwbacks

There’s no hiding my love for the Atlanta Falcons. With a team that sits at the top of its division and currently ranks 3rd in ESPN’s Power Rankings (yes, they are meaningless), I have no reason but to smile. However, the season is long from over and a night before the third biggest game of the season (New Orleans, Tampa, and now Baltimore), I thought it might be nice to give my thoughts on the season thus far.

When the started season with a loss to the 3rd QB led Steelers, I was left shocked and wondering how the remainder of the season was going to turn out. I mean, if you can’t beat an NFL team who is playing their backup to a backup QB then what’s the point of moving on. But, myself and the team gathered our collective selves together and moved forward game by game. Now on the steps of Week 10 of the schedule, the Falcons stand at 6-2.

The Falcons defense has played well. The offense has played well. The special teams have played well. They just really haven’t played well collectively on the same day. Each facet to the game has showed up when needed in order to take up any slack that the former might have left out in the open for another team to take hold of. Many analysts and football lovers will say my team is boring. That they are only good. Not great. I’d actually have to agree with them, but that’s the actual plus instead of the negative. We are boring to watch if you are not a real Falcons fan (except for the New Orleans game which was the greatest game of the year), but its our style that works and it is a style that is very familiar to many Steelers fans. We run the ball, then we throw. Not the other way around. Our offense is built on Turner first, and White / Gonzalez / Jenkins / Ryan second.

With that football philosophy, I feel that we can beat any other team in the league. My best example of this is the New Orleans game where those Dirty Birds crafted a 20 play drive that took 10:39 off the clock. That’s 10 minutes of play that Drew Brees was unable to step onto the field to bring his team back. If you can keep the opponent’s offense off the field, then 9 times out of 10 you’ll win the game. The Falcons lead the league in drives of five minutes or longer. Currently they sit at a Time of Possession per game of 33:05. If a game is 60 minutes, well you do the math.

So what am I saying here? I’m saying the Falcons are better than most might give them credit for but they are not great. They do have the talent, drive, and coaching to go the distance though. Yes, I mean THE DISTANCE. The Superbowl for those not following along at home. The first real step in that direction is locking up the remainder of the season in order to score home field advantage. I don’t want it because of my season tickets (yes, I live in SF and still have season tickets). I want it because Matt Ryan is 17-1 in the Georgia Dome when starting. That’s a REAL home field advantage. If you still think I’m full of it in my expectations, see what John Clayton, respected NFL journalist / analyst thinks.

Now that I have the attention of all Dirty Bird hopefuls, I want to look at you, Mr. Bandwagon Jumper. I’m ok if you hop on now and I’m even going to help you not seem so much like a bandwagon jumper. Here’s your quick guide to looking like you’ve always belonged with the Falcons.

  • When asked about last years’s season, don’t state it was failure. The Falcons finished the season at 9-6 and missed the playoffs. Why is this not a failure? Because they broke the 42 year curse of never having back to back winning seasons. Think about that for a second. In 42 years, nothing. Even with a year of going to the Superbowl and another going to the NFC Championship game, no back to back winning seasons. Therefore, I say to you it was a success for the entire organization to bring what this franchise has been lacking, consistency.
  • Roddy White was perfect up until late in the Tampa Bay game in terms of catches thrown his way. He had not dropped a single pass all season. This was the same WR that only a few years back I stated was overpaid with his new contract and would not be the person I want the ball thrown to when the game is on the line. Well now that’s a different story now isn’t it.
  • Name Dropper – Brent Grimes. Brent Grimes would be the number one cornerback in the league if he was at least 3-4 inches taller. He’s listed at 5’10 but he is not 5’10. Led the team last year with 6 INTS and this (greatest play I’ve ever seen). He’s a little guy from a little college with little expectations of him.
  • Name Dropper – Coy Wire. Coy Wire? Well he’s a veteran LB that you only see in certain packages. Mainly goal line stands and special teams. He’s a ball hawk. If he’s on the field, he’ll find the ball and soon the ball will find itself in his hands. New Orleans game last year, onside kick recovery. Chicago Bears last year (or year before) late game strip.
  • Name Dropper – Kroy Bierman. Kroy Bierman, defensive end. Only other thing is that he is athletic and well who doesn’t love yelling out BIERMAN (pronounced BEERMAN).
  • Name Dropper – Ovie Mughelli. This man is pure beast. I’m always high on a fullback and Ovie is no exception. If opposing defenses lose sight of him, well then that just means that Michael Turner is going to go on a nice little 70 yard stroll along the open field.
  • Final and best stat of all is that under Mike Smith, I am undefeated in games attended. That’s 10+ home games and one road game.

Now that the positives are out of the way, I’ll end with the only negative that I have. The team has an “official”, “unofficial” song this season. Atlanta’s own Sevendust recorded “Falcons On Top”.

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My 1st Half Marathon

Here’s the post run report.

Official Time: 2:07:19
Official Pace: 9:44
Official Place in Ages 25-29: 83/123
Official Overall Place: 900/1800

Now that the official numbers are out of the way, let’s look at my “real” numbers based on the RunKeeper app I used during the race. I consider these as real since I did have a GPS and timer attached to me throughout the race.

Final Time

Based on either set of numbers, I’m proud of my final time and pace. My ultimate goal was to have a pace of under 10 minutes a mile so mission accomplished. Of course if it wasn’t for the instigator himself, Will, then I would not have posted such a great pace of 9:26. You see, I used him as a motivator by keeping him in my sights for the first 2.5 miles and keeping a consistent pace. Prior to the run, I was barely able to run consistently for anything over 2 miles. Day of the race, I was able to run for close to 4.5 miles without needing a small break to walk. Its possible I could have continued with my best pace ever if I had chosen to stay with Will but I was arrogant and passed him which in turn gave him full capability to pass me around the 6-7 mile makers and never look back.

The course itself was brilliantly designed, except for one minor flaw. The minor flaw were the final 3 hills that made one hate life and want to punch out the run supporters that were stationed at the hills. Granted, now that I look back on the course, there probably was not much they could do to avoid these hills. The rest of the course “began in the heart of downtown, snaked through campus, navigated Five Points by way of Milledge Avenue, hit Cobbham Historic District, down Prince into Normaltown, ran north and then swung around back to downtown with a finish line in front of the fabulous 40 Watt Club.” My favorite part of the course was probably the final .10 mile stretch as it was on a downgrade and really pushed you to finish strong.

Athens GA Half Marathon - Map of Course
Figure 1: Map of Half Marathon Course (Click for better map)

As this was my first half marathon or even actual race, I have to say that I really enjoyed it. People were spread throughout the course to cheer on people they knew and of course people they didn’t as well. I had my music to motivate me and push me but those random people did so much to make me continue on as well. I’d even fine myself running to them if only to take a small break after passing them. The signs along the course also helped in the motivational department with my favorite sign easily being “Run like you stole something.”

Overall, I’m proud of myself for running and completing the race and I actually look forward to possibly making this an annual event in the coming years. Next event for me is up in the air. I enjoyed this one enough to actually look to find another race that I can attempt. There is a San Francisco Half Marathon on November 7th but I’ll probably hold off on any race in the bay area prior to Thanksgiving. Maybe I’ll just shoot for a 10K next. We shall see.

Here are a few final charts that cover my times and distances during the Half Marathon. I’m also throwing in a group photo of our running crew.

Runner's Pace
Figure 2: Pace vs. Elevation vs. Speed

Mile Breakdown
Figure 3: Pace Breakdown

Mile Breakdown
Photo 1: (Left to Right) Cory, Ginny, Will, Me.

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Pump It Up

The half marathon is on Sunday and I wanted one final post before the “big event”.  For the event, I’ll be filling my mp3 player with the following Workout playlist to drive me towards the finish line:

  1. “Let Go” by Frou Frou
  2. “We Made It” by Linkin Park featuring Busta Rhymes
  3. “My Hero” by Foo Fighters
  4. “Ladies and Gentlemen” by Saliva
  5. “Pioneers” by Bloc Party
  6. “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphy’s
  7. “Around the World / Bigger Stronger Faster” by Daft Punk
  8. “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
  9. “Party Hard” by Andrew W. K.
  10. “One Step Closer” by Linkin Park
  11. “Starseed” by Our Lady Peace
  12. “Memphis & 53rd” by Minus The Bear
  13. “It’s Tricky” by Run D.M.C.
  14. “Amazing” by Kanye West
  15. “This is War” by 30 Seconds To Mars
  16. “Okay I believe you but my Tommy Gun Don’t” by Brand New
  17. “Invitation to Understanding” by MxPx
  18. “Make You Smile” by +44
  19. “Power” by Kanye West
  20. “Ring Capacity” by Kirby Krackle
  21. “Guerrilla Radio” by Rage Against The Machine
  22. “Crush” by Jimmy Eat World
  23. “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
  24. “Light & Day” by The Polyphonic Spree
  25. “Everlong” by Foo Fighters
  26. “Magic” by B.O.B.
  27. “Running On Empty” by Jackson Browne
  28. “Hallelujah” by Paramore
  29. “Angles of the Silences” by Stretch Arm Strong
  30. “In Your Honor” by Foo Fighters
  31. “Somewhere I Belong” by Linkin Park
  32. “Handlebars” by Flobots
  33. “Runaway” by Cartel
  34. “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid” by The Offspring
  35. “Paper Planes” by M.I.A.
  36. “Family System” by Chevelle
  37. “Airplanes, Part II” by B.O.B.
  38. “In the Air Tonight” by Nonpoint
  39. “Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major” by Yo-Yo Ma ***
  40. “My Hero” by Paramore ***
  41. “Ohio Is For Lovers” by Vitamin String Quartet ***
  42. “Cute Without The E – Cut From The Team” by Vitamin String Quartet ***
  43. “Welcome to the Black Parade” by Vitamin String Quartet ***

*** Denotes song used for warm-up and stretching

Wow, now that I’ve typed out that list I really realize how all over the place it really is.  Here’s hoping I can run faster (maybe correct term is finish faster) so that I won’t need to use all of these songs or even replay a few of them.

And in an effort to really state how far a Half Marathon is here are a few numbers for your brain to crunch on that are less than a half marathon

  • Round trip from my youthful home to my high school
  • Round trip from my current SF home to the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Distance across the city of San Francisco (approx 7 miles)
  • Distance from my old Sandy Springs Apartment to the Midtown MARTA station (9.6 miles)
Posted under Music, Sports | Tagged as , ,

Athens Half Marathon Prequel

With the approaching Athens Half Marathon that my “good friend” Will talked me into doing with some other friends I thought this would make for a perfect post. Maybe not truly perfect but the pictures of me during the event clutching onto my last breadth and life should be entertaining enough. But before we get there you have to know the prequel or you won’t care about the characters….if you even will after.

So the story is…well Will thought old roommates should run the half marathon at the end of October and…well that’s it. I’m not sure why I agreed or even how I ever did but I’m in it and in it to win finish it. With two months before the big event, I knew I had to start training immediately. I’ve run maybe 3.11 miles (5k) previously in high school when I was on the cross country team (soccer purposes only) but that’s the furthest distance I’ve ever completed without walking it all and I’m not in high school any more.

I began running around where I worked at the end of the day in order to get into shape and kill time for traffic to die down. Well after only a few days into training, I knew something was up. My legs were in some much pain that there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t sitting at home with ice packs on my knees. Didn’t take me long to realize it was an issue in my shoes. What can I say? I’m cheap and I just thought I could get through this with the crappy shoes that I had. I was, of course, wrong and broke down buying some legitimate shoes thanks to a running store in San Francisco. With reasonable prices and a great staff to help me pick the perfect shoe for my style of running, I settled on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10. Talk about running on air, these shoes made me pull a 180 on running. Instead of a chore, it became something I looked forward to at the end of the day.

I had the shoes, the drive, and being a geek, I now needed the data. That’s right. I love all things tech and with my Android smartphone (HTC Eris) I had apps that could help me track my performance and training. I settled on RunKeeper only because of other friends using it as well and helping to cheer me along in the process. It tracks my time, distance, pace, elevation, and pretty much any other statistic I would want. I’m debating paying for the pro capabilities only to gain more data. We shall see.
Anyway, here’s the data from my latest run of 10 miles. I’m two weeks away and I had two primary goals: Complete 10 mile run prior to the Half Marathon and run under 10 minutes a mile. I’ve completed one of the two but I’m dangerously close to that second.

Figure 1: Pace during the 10 Mile Run

Yes, I know the first thing out of most runners mouth when looking at that graph. I am not a consistent pace kind of guy. Its hard for me to slow my pace and keep it across the length of my runs. If I have the power and I want to run it now. Sure this makes me look like an EKG but my overall pace goal is on target. Here’s another breakdown.

Figure 2: Further Breakdown of Pace during the 10 Mile Run

First, don’t let the last number fool you. The 11th mile was only .10 miles in length so I hope it was averaging at 4. On record to date, my best mile run came earlier this week during a 3 mile run where I clocked in at 6:43 on my first mile. Yes that was with a -128 ft elevation but I’d say that is still fast.
Now with the half only two weeks away my training is winding down. I feel well prepared and I’ve even experienced the runner’s high (it’s amazing). The only real variables I’m worried about now are the climate and the course. Training in SF is not the same as Athens but it will be late October so hopefully there will be less humidity. I’ve experienced several days here of running in 100 degree weather but humidity is its own beast. The course only worries me because I’m not as well prepared on hills. Sure, I live in SF and could have found the hills but my training ground is in Pleasanton and I didn’t have any.

Anyway, to conclude, I’ve enjoyed this process more than I ever thought I would. I look forward to running days and feel terrible when I miss out on a chance to run. It is my new stress reliever and it works wonders. For those thinking of preparing for a half marathon after not really running prior, here’s one final chart of a breakdown of how much I was doing on my way to the event.

Figure 3: Weekly Break Down of Distance

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15 albums, 15 minutes

Update: As requested I’ve included my reasoning for each album. I hope this quells my many one commenter.

Thanks to a friend and his facebook note, I’m going to see if I can join in on the musical fun. Here are the rules as I understand them:

Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you’ve heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag your friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste the rules in a new note, cast your 15 picks, and tag people in the note.

Let’s see there’s:

  1. Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites. I can honestly state that this was the first CD I ever purchased with my own money. Hearing “A Long December” on the radio only a few times and I knew I wanted this album. I only had a brief knowledge of Counting Crows before this point (just the singles and hits). The saddest part is probably that I went years (yes, years) without ever really listening to the first half of the album. I stuck to the last 4 or 5 songs. Years later when I finally gave the rest of the album a chance, I was blown away with just how great it was from start to finish. This album has includes one of my top five favorite Counting Crows songs, “Monkey”.
  2. Our Lady Peace – Spiritual Machines. I had been an OLP fan before this album thanks to buying Clumsy from a friend and purchasing the subsequent albums from the band, but this album was different. First, this was my first introduction to what a concept album is as the band was heavily influenced by Ray Kurzeweil’s book, The Age of Spiritual Machines. I’ve even toyed with the idea of reading this book to see why it influenced Raine and the guys so much. I also had to purchase this album outside of the normal ways. On the day of the album’s release, I realized that I had made a mistake. The date I was so pumped to see arrive was actually the Canadian release date and I would have to wait 5+ months for the US release. That was unacceptable so I emailed a friend I had made via an internet wrestling federation and had him send me the album.
  3. Ben Folds Five – The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner. “Brick”, to this day, is one of the saddest songs to me but it isn’t on this album now is it? Ben’s lyrics, inclusion of the piano, and again alternative (for weaklings) pulled me into his previous albums but hearing “Army” on the radio solidified it for me. I bought the album the day of a Church trip and proceeded to listen to the album as the van drove across the state of Georgia to our final destination. Not sure how many times myself and another replayed “Army” that day but it was enough to make the song stale for most others. This album also has an answering message from Ben’s father that I use often as my alarm clock as I feel it speaks to me personally. I mean, come on. We share the same first name and I am that conceited.
  4. Bigbang – Poetic Terrorism. While studying abroad in Norway, my roommate introduced me to Norway’s own Bigbang. Iwas hooked with “Girl In Oslo” but Poetic Terrorism came out while I was in the country. Several great songs off this album but everyone of them takes me back to my time abroad. Even better was that the band was on tour with this album and stopped in my town. I was front row in a club that held maybe 200 people and it was wonderful. Even though I’m not in Norway anymore, I’ve contacted old friends to help me continue enjoying this band. I was even able to introduce this band to my brother who has enjoyed them just as much.
  5. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm. Bloc Party is similar to some other artists on this list as sounds that were outside of my typical taste. The exact person or music system taht suggested this album is unknown to me but Silent Alarm was perfect on first listening. “Pioneers” is my staple go-to song if I need to find my determination. I’d say more but those who have heard the album would say this is enough.
  6. Foo Fighters – Color and the Shape. Dave Grohl is one of my favorite frontmen and the Foo Fighters are my way of being able to tell people in the 90’s that I was/am alternative. Yeah, we all know that wasn’t/isn’t true but it was my belief. With my fascination for heroes, it should come as no shock that I chose this album due to “My Hero” which can pump me up no matter the mood. I guess this album also helps hurts thanks to my first speeding ticket coming at the hands of one “Everlong”.
  7. Boyz 2 Men – II. In the 90’s if it wasn’t alternative, it was the cool soundings of Boys 2 Men. On various family road trips I would have to borrow CDs from my brother or sister because my collection was non-existent or as horrible as it possibly could be. The II album is one I would always go after first if someone else wasn’t already listening to it. This album was also my first concentrated effort to learn the lyrics and harmonies for who knows what purposes because it certainly didn’t make me more of a ladies man.
  8. Chicago – The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997. I was introduced to Chicago via my brother. He’ll tell you that this album is for the love sappy fools who like Chicago but it had all of the hits that I enjoyed after only one listening. This was a way for my brother and I connect in terms of musical taste as well as for me to enjoy a band that could incorporate an instrument (trombone) I was just learning to play at the time of my first few listenings. Later I found out that Chicago made many great albums with less love-sappiness but I still come back to this one.
  9. DC Talk – Jesus Freak. Jesus Freak was my first introduction into contemporary Christian music. I borrowed the album from a friend (see Our Lady Peace above) for only a week before luck fell on my side and was able to join a group headed to see DC Talk at the Omni in Atlanta. This would be my first concert and was amazing. This album is easily the best contemporary Christian album I’ve heard.
  10. Girl Talk – Feed The Animals. Ever want to see just how far your musical taste extends? Pick up this album and you will have your answer. Girl Talk is a DJ who mixes together anything and everything that is possible and even some that is not. I believe one journalist called Girl Talk a lawsuit waiting to happen. Whenever I listen to this album my brain switches between enjoying the fusion of the music to trying to determine exactly what songs are being mixed into each song. I mean, did you ever think it would be possible to mix Dexys Midnight Runners / Aerosmith / Ying Yang Twins or Chicago / Quad City DJs / Elvis Costello?
  11. Brand New – Deja Entendu. Brand New had the first major national release with Deja Entendu. The first release, “Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows”, was interesting on the radio but nothing I would go and shout about at the rooftops. However, each radio station that played it really pushed the fact that the album was really amazing. Well, I bought the album and hated it on my first listening. I hated it to the point that I couldn’t believe I wasted money on it. Not one to lose on such a simple investment, I gave the album another listen and another and another. Soon I saw just why the album was amazing. I also saw why I didn’t like it previously because it was so different from any of the bands I enjoyed or the albums I had heard before.
  12. Jimmy Eat World – Clarity. During my college days I was attempting to beef up my music collection to make it more respectable. Thanks to one great website I was introduced to many new bands based on my current interests. Since the albums on this site were at a cost of pennies a megabyte I bought up anything and everything that sounded interesting. Clarity is one album that fell into my lap during this buying bonanza. Each time I put on this album I lose all sense of time. I could easily listen to this album on repeat while driving across the entire United States and never grow tired of it. I’ve since continued to buy each album by Jimmy Eat World but nothing ever seems to be as complete and appealing as this album.
  13. Mat Kearney – Nothing Left To Lose. This is my album where I claim I discovered something great that my friends had not heard of prior. That statement could be argued but I’ll still go with it. Kearney’s lyrics combined with his “poetic rap” sound on songs pull me in every time. This album for some reason made me believe that a full great album could be made again. Often I find albums that aren’t only 40-70% good. This album found me wanting more and more of the same as every song was great.
  14. Les Miserables – Les Miserables (1987 Original Broadway Cast). This is where some people might be scratching their heads but I can’t hide my love for this recording of the songs from the musical. In High School drama class, we watched the movie version as well as the standing, musical only version of the play. The songs were catchy and allowed me to easily follow along with the story without feeling like I’m watching a musical. If I’m down, I’ll belt out a couple of lines from “One Day More”. If you stop at a stoplight and hear some showtunes blaring out of speakers, it means you are probably beside me. “Do you hear the people sing/Singing the songs of angry men/…”
  15. Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind. The self-titled album is one of the few albums I can say I purchased for myself in the 90’s that turned out to be an amazing keeper (I don’t think those reading this will really understand how bad my music collection was during my middle/high school years). In the same view as Recovering The Satellites, I never really completed this album during previous listenings. I would get to song about 6 or 7 and stop. Several years later in college, I was sent a video of Stephen Jenkins singing “Motorcycle Driveby”. This became a must listen for me for TEB. However, it took me a few more weeks to realize I already owned the song in my collection based on this album. Don’t you love that?

Music Album Collage
Click to for enlarged view

Ok, now having looked over that list I’d have to say that I’m….well…everywhere and no where.

Posted under Music | Tagged as , ,

Memory Walk 2010 – Year Four

In 13 days (September 11th, 2010), I will be participating in the Alzheimer Associations’s Memory Walk in San Francisco, California. This will be my fourth Memory Walk, but first in San Francisco. I originally started participating in the yearly Memory Walk as a way to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease and one of the worst in my eyes. It certainly affects the one infected in negative ways, but it also impacts all of the loved ones around them. My grandmother was diagnosed with this disease while I was in my late middle school, early high school years. Since I was unable to drive during that time, I would go to my mother’s school after the day ended at mine. From there we often would drive to the nursing home where she was later placed in order to check on her. These visits didn’t have the effect on me then that they have on me now. Maybe I was too young to really let it all sink in, but after her death it hit me the hardest. I soon realized that the woman who I had seen in the last years of her life was no where near the woman that I had known for the first many of mine.

Grandmother and Me
She’d probably kill me for posting this picture, but I love it.

Sure during those bad times, my family tried to find a way to laugh and we did, but that was only as a way to get through those times, such as when my mother had to retell the death of her father to someone who was expected to remember it. Alzheimer’s is a disease that many fail to understand until they have someone close to them be affected by it. The memory is one of the most powerful things that we have. To have it all disappear almost makes you think that life may not be worth it. In everything that you do and with every memory you make, you assure yourself that you will remember this for years to come. What if you don’t? What if you forget those very special memories that make you you?

This is the real reason I do the Memory Walk. This is why raising money and awareness is so important to me. My biggest fear is that I will end up like my grandmother and many others. That I will forget all of my friends, family and loved ones. That I will essentially let all of these important people down and not be able to look them in the eyes later in life and remember who they are or anything about the times that we had shared. This is not how I want my life or anyone else’s to end.

Now I’d love to end this post saying that’s it but I can’t. With a fund raising event such as the Memory Walk, I must advertise it. I must tell as many people as possible that I have a goal that I want to reach and I have 13 days to meet it. However, I want to state something even more than that. If you have the time, find a Memory Walk near you. If you have the funds, donate to the cause. It doesn’t have to be the Memory Walk, mine, or anyone else’s. Just find a way to donate or spread the word to others who may be interested in the cause. If you want to learn more or share how you have been impacted by Alzheimer’s leave a comment or send me a note. I’ve finally found that talking about it has helped me more than those years I kept to myself.

For those interested in donating towards my participation in the Walk, please use my personal Memory Walk page. Thanks to the generous support of many, I’ve already been able to increase my intended goal from $1,000 to $2,000. Hopefully I will hit this secondary target before the Saturday of the event.

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Apologies to Twitter


Recently I wrote a post about the state of social media in my eyes and somewhat on the potential of many of the most popular outlets that exist for presenting many of the most mundane and daily activities.  Within this post I didn’t paint a picture of love or anything stronger than basic like for Twitter.

Well since that time, I have actually signed up for an account on twitter and my thoughts have changed.  But why have they changed?  Simply put it is because of the following:

  • Let Twitter be my Facebook status update – I don’t like logging into Facebook because I’m lazy and often I just want to post a quick update without getting sucked in to seeing the latest updates from random people.  I’d rather see updates from specific people instead of my entire Facebook social graph.
  • I can follow those interest me – As I stated above, I want to have the control of who will provide updates to me.  It can almost be compared to having a speed dial for life updates.
  • Shortened Blog Posts – I have many ideas running through my head but never enough time to write them down for a complete blog post.  Hell, I have about 10 ideas in draft for my site but haven’t sat down to finish them.  Forcing me to stay under 140 characters makes things fast and easy.
  • Connection to many regardless of status – I can connect to friends in the same way that I “connect” to celebrities.  My celebs range from Leo Laporte to Conan O’Brien to Brent Grimes.  By following them, I can stay informed on those that interest me without requiring them to approve my access.
  • Access is granted where otherwise its blocked – I recently began following the Atlanta Falcons and I’m certainly glad that I did.  I receive the latest updates regarding the team (injuries, stats, trivia, etc.) but I also stay informed during games.  Now that I’m on the west coast, I can’t always enjoy watching my team play, but the twitter account gives me fast in-game updates that are greatly appreciated.
  • Information from strangers – While recently attempting to troubleshoot a computer issue I was facing, I decided to reach out to complete strangers via twitter.  If my updates are already entirely public, what’s it matter if I reach out to someone I don’t even know?  Therefore, I performed a real time google search on my topic and replied to another user who was just installing the same application.  Within a few hours (time difference I’m assuming), I received a reply.  Didn’t solve my issue but provided me added information.

Having myself enjoy twitter might still be weird for some, but I’m enjoying it.  Feel free to follow me if I don’t bore you too much with my lame tweets.

Posted under Internet | Tagged as

Who’s Your PollDaddy…

…or at least I think how I was able to vote multiple times for a Polldaddy, erm, poll.

Quick backstory, a friend of mine was recently in a contest that required a community to vote on the best. Most votes wins the contest. Therefore, of course we wanted to vote as many times as possible but the contest was using Polldaddy which allowed only a single vote per day. That’s no fun and I assumed there had to be some other way.

My first step was to see how votes were being blocked. I cleared the cache and cookies.  Well that didn’t work as that would have been just too easy for anyone to do.  Therefore, I began to assume it was IP based as that’s probably the best way to ensure a single vote for users, but it also prevents say a house of roommates for voting.  It’s a single vote per household and not the more accurate single vote per person per day.

I setup to research the tools that I would need and came up with the following:

  • polipo – Polipo is a small web proxy to funnel my requests through.  This was my first time using it.
  • iMacro for Firefox – This is an easy tool for scripting tasks within a browser.  I’ve used in the past to vote daily in contests where I’m too lazy to navigate to the site myself.
  • Firefox – If I’m using iMacro for Firefox, then I have to use Firefox.
  • Torbutton for Firefox – This is another Firefox extension that I had not used before.  It allows a browser to use Tor for online anonymity.
  • wmctrl – This is a command line tool for interacting with X Window Manager.  You’ll see how this is used in my bash script below.
  • Bash – I am using linux and not the best programmer so I just used what was available to me.  Please no jokes about my terrible scripts.  Everyone’s learning here.

Now that I have the tools, I need to write two scripts.  The first script is the iMacro which is really easy to do.  The second script is the one to integrate the various components.

Upon installing iMacro, open the command window for it within Firefox.  It should open by default after installation.  You will find a record button.  Once pressed, anything you do in the browser will be recorded for playback or “automated browsing.”  Here’s my script for polldaddy:

URL GOTO=http://polldaddy.com/poll/[INSERT POLL ID NUMBER HERE]

Now that the simple script is out of the way, its on to the more “difficult” one because my real scripting skills are beginner at best. But armed with the internet, one can do almost anything.  I needed the bash script to do the following:

  1. Start Polipo
  2. Start Firefox
  3. Initiate the iMacro script I wrote above
  4. Close Firefox correctly instead of just killing the process
  5. Kill the Polipo task

Well, here’s what I did with comments to state what each line is doing:


echo "#####################################";
echo "###     VoteOnPolldaddy Script   ###";
echo "##   created by Benjamin Trice   ###";
echo "###         July 06, 2010        ###";
echo "####################################";

#echo "Clear cahce for polipo";
#gnome-terminal -e "polipo -x";
#echo "Sleep for 2 seconds";
#sleep 2;
echo "Start Polipo";
gnome-terminal -e polipo;
echo "Sleep for 10 seconds";
sleep 10;
echo "Start Firefox";
gnome-terminal -e "firefox http://www.google.com";
echo "Sleep for 5 seconds"
sleep 5;
echo "Start Firefox with iMacro"
gnome-terminal -e "firefox http://run.imacros.net/?m=[INSERT IMACRO NAME].iim";
echo "Sleep for 75 seconds"
sleep 75;
echo "Close Firefox correctly"
wmctrl -c firefox;
sleep 5;
wmctrl -c firefox;
sleep 5;
pkill -f polipo;
echo "END SCRIPT";

Here’s a few extra notes about setup.

  • Not sure if it helps or not, but go into Firefox and set the preferences to clear the cookies and cache when Firefox is closed.  This option is why I had to use wmctrl to properly shutdown Firefox.  Killing the process, in my limited testing, seemed to not clear the cache and cookies properly.
  • Setting up Polipo with Tor and Firefox is simple.  The Tor Project even has a great guide for that.
  • Setup a cronjob or other automated task launcher to run the bash script every 10 minutes or so.  I ended up using kalarm (yes, in Ubuntu) as my cronjob didn’t seem to run and I was getting aggravated at this point and went the lazy GUI route.  I did have some issues with the script not starting properly, but I attributed that to kAlarm and not the script itself.

Now before any potential readers who care about this subject start attacking me, I know this solution isn’t perfect nor does it vote an infinite number of times.  It seemed to be limited by the IP addresses that Tor masked me as and as Polldaddy learns what anonymous IPs exist they will begin to block them.  My original goal was to figure out how to vote an infinite number of times in a day.  That goal failed but I was able to at least get the 5+ votes in a day that Polldaddy was blocking for myself and roommates.

Anyone have a better solution?

Posted under Internet, Linux | Tagged as , ,

Update on Me

I have a laundry list of posts I want to make but I’m being lazy at the moment (shocker there) so something quick and simple of an overall update might just work out better….mainly for me anyway.

New Face
Ok, that header isn’t exactly accurate but it works. After trying to order more contacts, I had to make an appointment in an effort to update a prescription that was well over 2 years old. Well, in the appointment I heard the usual speech about my eyes and the blood vessels within them. For those that don’t know, if you wear your contacts too much, your eye will create more blood vessels in an effort to bring more oxygen to the eye. That’s great unless it keeps getting worse. Long story short, you could end up needing a cornea transplant.

Since I didn’t want to have that, I decided to just update my glasses and stick to just them for a few months in an effort to reduce those pesky blood vessels. And of course in San Francisco, you just can’t buy normal eye glasses. They have to be a fashion statement. Well, here’s my fashion statement of “I’ve got to see.”

My New Glasses

Pencak Silat
Thanks to my roommate, I’m trying out a new form of martial arts. New in the sense that I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve only ever worked out via weights, sports, or simply not working out at all. Pencak Silat is an Indonesian form of martial arts that, according to my knowledge thus far, is centered around the use of weapons. Hey, anything sounds awesome if I will be taught how to wield the coolest weapon of them all. I have many years (and years and years) before anything like this.

I’m not into this for the true self defense or fighting aspect. I just wanted to try something new that would also offer me a great way to workout.

With the World Cup coming to a close (and on such a terrible finale), a friend of mine and I have decided to adopt an MLS team in an effort to follow the American soccer federation. After a brutal decision making process of about 5 minutes (probably much less), we settled on the newly formed Philadelphia Union. I’d love to state that we chose them because of great players or supreme talent, but I can’t. It was more of “Hey, they are a new team” from David and “Those uniforms are awesome” from me.

Besides, who can resist the tagline of JUNGITE aut PERITE or for those non-Latin speaking readers (and myself), JOIN or DIE.

Athens Half Marathon
Speaking of “JOIN or DIE”, I’ve decided to join up with my old roommates in our old town of Athens, GA to run the Half Marathon. I have never ran a full marathon or a half marathon or probably not even a quarter marathon. But you have to start somewhere and I guess this is where I’m starting or at least I’ll be starting here. I only have a few minutes to train so hopefully I train well enough that I don’t embarrass myself too much. At least the workout regime has helped me find a new tool in mapmyrun.com and even comes with a cool Android app.

Posted under Other | Tagged as , , ,

2 domains, 1 host

Yeah, I ripped the title of this post from the infamous viral video (probably NSFW, wiki link) but it was funny and worked well here.

For those who have been following me somewhat, I recently joined into a venture of sorts with friends in order to post our many movie reviews collectively under a single banner known as The Amateur Critics Guild.  It was a simple idea and tons of fun to actually build the branding, especially the About page, which still cracks me up when I look at it.

Anyway, back to the original purpose in this post.  We needed a domain for the site and finally settled on theacguild.net because we liked the name and it was available.  Mostly it was available.  We only wanted to pay for the domain and not the hosting since my current site, this one, was probably only using about 30% of its full capacity.  We knew we could just forward the domain and be done with it.

I setup wordpress for The ACG within a new directory on my site and set the forwarding rule through my provider (1and1).  The site was up and running, but one glaring issue continued to bother me as the URL of the site would always be something like “heroinc.org/theacguild/<some post naming structure>”.  This may have been a cheaper route than purchasing more hosting space but I knew that I had not had this issue earlier when I had the domain apenguinandme.com.  After a few bad attempts, here’s how to have it work so you can have 2 domains and 1 host (recursion anyone?).

Setup The Second Domain

  1. Buy the second domain.
  2. Within the domain, setup a forwarding rule.  1and1 allowed me 2 options for forwarding the domain:  1)  Provide a url, 2) Provide a home directory for the domain.
  3. Choose the option to “provide a home directory for the domain”.  Option 1 would just forward the url and you would always have “domain1.com/domain2directory” for your website.  Option 2 allows for “domain2.com” and “domain1.com” without anyone needing to know the difference.

1and1 Screenshot

I assume that the option of forwarding to a particular directory will only work if the domains are purchased from the same hosting company where the site is hosted. I could be wrong on that, but I doubt it.

Now that the forwarding is setup, you are good to go.  However, what if you were like me and setup the wordpress site improperly the first time?  Well, good thing I did this first for you.  Here’s how you correct your wordpress installation.

Bad WordPress Installation Fix
Perform these steps during offhours for your site so that you don’t cause problems if issues come up.

  1. Backup the database associated with wordpress installation.  I’m always a fan of backing up so that you can revert back to the original if things go wrong.
  2. Backup the wordpress directory where wordpress is installed.  Like I said, I’m a fan of backups.
  3. Within the admin page of your wordpress installation, navigate to the Settings / General page.
  4. Change the “WordPress address (URL)”.  For example, before mine was “http://heroinc.org/theacguild”.  After I updated it, it said “http://theacguild.net”.
  5. Change the “Site address (URL)”.  Same example as before.  Mine was “http://heroinc.org/theacguild”.  After I updated it, it said “http://theacguild.net”.
  6. Save the changes.  The site might act up for a second but don’t worry about it.
  7. NEXT STEPS ARE DANGEROUS WHICH IS WHY WE TOOK BACKUPS.  If you skipped steps 1 and 2, do them NOW.  I’ll wait….
  8. Navigate to the database for your wordpress installation.  With my site, I use phpMyAdmin.
  9. Use the search function to query the database tables for the old domain name.  The returned tables from the search all need to be updated to remove the old references so that all of your site links work.

  10. Using a sql query, you can do a quick replace throughout the database table. The following sql query will do the replace for you and it should be repeated for each table that was returned by the query. Just remember that the query will replace all instances and that may not be what you always need so use caution. I know that I had a post or two on the new site where I linked to my actual real site and I had to manually make those changes so not to override what my post was meant to use.
  11. Within your wordpress installation directory, search for “olddomain.com”. I believe it was within 4 of my files (404.php, header.php, sidebar.php, and style.css).
  12. Within each returned file from the search, do a find and replace to change “olddomain.com” to “newdomain.com”.
  13. Finally, in the words of the great wordpress instructions, go do something nice for yourself as you are now finished in updating your site to properly use the new domain.

Here’s hoping this will help other people who made a stupid mistake like I did.

Posted under Internet | Tagged as , , ,