Oct 172013

Most of the time, when we wager, I wager for a meal.  I enjoy going eating with others, cause the conversations usually get interesting.  Like making more bets over who can fit a beard papa creme puff in their mouth.

9027151818_0d7e52d672_bBut one time, this past summer at lunch, a couple of guys I work with talked about doing the AIDS LifeCycle ride.  Wanted to see if I was interested.  After all, I was like them – commuting to work occasionally.  Just that their commute is 50+ miles and mine is 1.5. If I take the scenic route.

I’ve thought about doing a century often. This event would check that box off. Twice. In a week. While sleeping in a tent.

I’m not getting any younger. So I might as well do it when folks I know are doing it. I told them I was at 80% likelihood of joining them on the ride. Something interesting was happing at that lunch.

I thought I could get out of it when I saw that the Tour de Cure that Sal and I ride was happening on June 8th.  But luckily enough, the ALC ride ends on the 7th. So I can catch flight home that night and be ready to go with Sal the next day. I didn’t have any good reason not to do the ride.

Sonny went to a meeting in the city one night, registration was at a discount and I got signed up.

Folks, that probably know more than me, suggest getting a new bike. But I’m kind of used to my bike (and stubborn and cheap) and I don’t think I’d ride a road bike after this, so it seems like a waste to get a bike just for training for this ride. Perhaps I would have a different story next spring or summer. As it is, I’d rather take that money for the bike and donate it instead. Much healthier to shave 10-15 pounds off my body than off my bike instead…

If you would like to join me, I can get you a discount on the registration fee. Send me a note. It is going to be fun! (I need to keep reminding myself of that…)

If you would rather just sponsor me on this craziness, I sure would appreciate it. Use this link.

Thanks – and let’s go eat sometime!

Oct 042013

Took Sal to the CalGames robotics contest tonight. He likes that stuff. He was really excited about going and I think it is kind of boring.

It makes me feel guilty. But it is boring. Takes forever for these kids to set up their robots, which are surprisingly big and delicate at the same time. Something is always wrong with one of the robots and delays happen. And the PA system is bonkers. Which is unusual considering that they have some very seriously A/V looking dudes on their A/V team.

I was impressed that the event even happened. Tremendous effort put on by all the volunteers. Many of which didn’t look like they were the type that put much effort into many things.

Some of the robots sucked and some were pretty good. There was an all girl team, which is fitting this week with the Grace Hopper conference. Actually, there were way more girls there than I would have expected.

Still, it was pretty boring. And I dragged the kid out before it ended, using the ever present excuse of his bedtime. And he was thrilled for having seen the few matches we did see in the 90 minutes we were there (I think it was three. Four tops.)

We did see a robot, at the end, use a strategy he was talking about after the first match. Lots of downtime between matches leaves lots of time to talk strategies. So that was kind of cool – both that he came up with a strategy that was implemented and that it preformed pretty well too.

I want his enthusiasm to rub off on me and lift me out of my jaded funk. We’ll see if it does. Hopefully he doesn’t let me drag him down.

Jul 082013

Tummy was feeling a little unhappy Saturday afternoon.  Lots of napping.  My brother asked me what I had eaten at the ballpark the night before.

“Uh…1 and half Crazy Crab sandwiches, a licorice rope, a deli sandwich or two that was in the suite, some chicken wings, peanuts and popcorn of course, a carrot cake cupcake, half of a huge cookie that wasn’t so delicious, some beers here and there.  Oh and some pizza.”

He was a little surprised that I didn’t have a hotdog. They were there, just didn’t move me for some reason. And only one garlic fry.  I don’t know why I had just one fry.  I think at that point in the night, I was feeling okay. Must have just been carb conscious. My willpower must have gotten a second wind at that point!

Anyway, he just stared at me waiting for the dawn of the obvious to rise for me.  But it wasn’t clicking for me. I’m used to being able to eat like that and not feel it, while he’s a little more…delicate. Looks like I’m becoming more like him now.

Update: At work, talked to some co-workers, half of them also feeling a little funk over the weekend.  All signs point to the chicken wings…I may not be gaining on my brother as much as I had thought!

Jun 072013


A while back, one morning I was watching some goofy videos on the web, as I feel they keep me in a good mood all day.  Sal joined me.  That morning we saw a guy spank a female friend, her jump up in shock, and then him smashing a pie in her face.  Good stuff.

A bit later on, I was walking by Catherine, who was leaning over, and made eye contact with Sal.  I wound up like I was going to give her an enormous spanking, but I didn’t.  Just pretended to, her not noticing.  Then Sal asks “But where is her pie?”  And his mother is confused why he’s asking about a pie for her.

As I explained the story to a mother that didn’t look so pleased, I started to question my life choices. During some point in my life, consciously or not, I had decided that pies were to be eaten and not thrown. Now, I wasn’t quite so sure anymore.

And over the past few months, I’ve gotten more and more curious about what the pie throwing lifestyle would be like. I don’t feel like I’ve been able to find that initial video Sal and I saw, but I’ve seen a lot.  Buzzfeed has a nice page of tips too. That couple in 19 could be the couple Sal and I saw originally, but it doesn’t quite feel like it to me.  My memory of it is a different angle. But my internet memory ain’t so good no more.

With all this research I’ve done though, I feel like I might want to try it out. I’ve been so bold as to even tell Catherine that sometime this year, she’s going to get a pie in the face. It was like that moment in Taken, when he tells his daughter she’s going to get taken…except it was in person, not over the phone. And it was about a pie in the face.

She didn’t have any kind words in return, but she had a smile on her face.  She doesn’t have a poker face…I know she’s going to enjoy it.

I’ve asked others who have had similar lifestyle choices and some are curious too.  Though I’ve heard divorce threatened too.

But then, it brings up the option of pie swapping.  If your wife and my wife won’t let us throw a pie in their faces, what if we do it to each other’s wives?

Or get an external agent.  My brother, though, says he doesn’t want any part of such funny business. Still, he suggested that maybe I could Task Rabbit it.  Probably falls under the “food delivery” category.  I’m sure you can be as specific as you want to be, if the price is right.  “Pick up a pie from Safeway and deliver it to her face.”

I might also pay to get myself pied too.  To try and move suspicion away from me.

But I think part of why I am drawn to it is the feeling of the pie and face becoming one. (Side note here – my brother said he’d prefer a cake to the face instead of a pie.  I take requests.  Though he didn’t approve of me holding an ice cream cake like a bat and introducing the cake to his face that way…go figure.)

Of course, since I’ve felt my pies were to be eaten and not thrown for so long, it hasn’t been easy for me to make the change quickly. The signs are there though. Catherine still smiles when I mention it. I bet she’s smiling as she’s reading this even. And the harsh words are not so harsh anymore.

Plus Marie Callender’s just sent us a Happy Anniversary coupon for two free slices of pie.

Destiny can’t be any clearer.

May 102013

It always starts innocently enough.  Someone in my group talks about The Counter burgers.  Someone else says they haven’t been.  Someone else say they haven’t been in a while. Okay, team lunch there.  Easy enough. But where is the twist? There has to be a twist, doesn’t there?

The fun of The Counter is building your own burger. Wouldn’t it be more fun if someone else built your burger for you? Though it wouldn’t be fair if people were assigned burger partners, so it’d need to be random. That’s how Burger Roulette was born.

Everyone makes a burger. We shuffle the burger forms before giving them to the waiter. Then we also get randomly assigned numbers and when the burgers come out, they are distributed in that order.  No one cares about which burger comes out, just what number burger it is.

Initially, I called it Burger Roulette, after Russian Roulette. Thinking that people are playing with loaded guns/hamburgers. But cause we are well trained computer scientists, as the plans developed, it became more of a prisoner’s dilemma problem. That problem, from game theory, basically has two folks caught doing something bad.  They both get the same deal.  There’s enough evidence to put each of you away for 2 years. But if you turn on your partner, you’ll go free but your partner will get 4 years.  Though if you both turn on each other, you’ll both get 4 years.

Do you turn on your partner or not? Theoretically, you should turn. Because if you don’t turn, you’ll either get 2 years (partner didn’t turn on you) or 4 years (partner turned on you).  Average sentence = 3 years.  If you do turn, you’ll either get 0 years (partner didn’t turn on you) or 4 years.  Average sentence is 2 years. Clear cut call. Theoretically.

The game also has a version called the iterated prisoner’s dilemma, where you play the game with each other many times, and thus, your strategy changes. Hopefully some trust can be built over time.

But let’s get back to the more pleasant (and practical) topic of burgers. Do you make a burger you’d think was the best burger, hoping you’d get your own burger?  (Don’t turn!) Or do you think it’d be fun to create a monster of a burger, hoping you don’t get your own burger? (Kinda turning…I mean, it’s just a burger after all…)

Because we work with each other, there is somewhat of an iterated feel to it. Folks you turn on will you’ll be working with for a while still. They aren’t getting whisked away to a cell somewhere else.

We have been to Dining in the Dark together. So we have trusted that people weren’t messing with your food in the dark already. This is similar, just with burgers, and light. And maybe a shake thrown in. It made a good burger outing quite fun.

The waiter was a little flustered when we shuffled all the cards infront of him, but once he understood what was going it, it made things easier.  All burgers are medium.  Bring us every type of fries. And we really didn’t care who got which burger. How much easier can you make it on a waiter?

Everyone said they made a burger they would be willing to eat.  Though a few qualified it with “but I wouldn’t have ordered it for myself”.  Some had themes, like Thai (peanut sauce, pineapple, sprouts, carrot strings, sliced cucumbers + bacon, just cause Thai food is better with bacon right?), or fire (everything that sounded hot).

And all the burgers were enjoyed.  One (only?) person did get their own burger. And it was one of those folks that qualified it with the “i wouldn’t have ordered it for myself” lines. The most challenging aspect (besides the jalapeños – but that was more of a mental thing) was the size for some people.  I guess people typically get the 1/3 pound burger while I happily checked off the 1 pounder.  The burger I got was only 2/3rds of a pound and I was done before some of the folks were done assessing their burger…but everyone finished.

Cause if you didn’t finish, you got the pleasure of picking up the bill.

Anyway, if you ever wanna play burger roulette/dilemma, I’m down.

Especially when their special shake of the month is Churro.  That thing is fantastic!

Dec 222012

Vacation’s starting today and I’ll get around to a post I wanted to do a while back.  These screenshots I took show that I’m around two weeks late…

And though I think this will prevent a lot of stinkeye, this is also a plug for the stuff I work on.  You’ve been warned.

In iOS 6, we introduced VIPs to Mail.  It’s a way to let users mark folks they’re in contact with as VIPs and they get a little star by them in the message list to make their email easier to find when scrolling.  There’s also a folder with just your mail from VIPs.

If you get a lot of email but want to have the email from people you care about highlighted, this is a great way to sort that out.

This list of contacts is also synced across your Apple devices too – iPhones, iPads, Macs…

But what really made this feature a lifestyle changer for me was that we set it up so only VIP mail gets on your lockscreen. Why is that useful?  Well, folks have gotten in the habit of checking email to see if anything important or urgent has come up.  Sometimes there is info that trumps whatever meeting you’re in, or lunch.  And folks tend to work even when they’re not in the office.  All of that is fine.

Except that it is a tough habit to stop.  When you’re having dinner with others, it’d be great if you didn’t check your phone at all, but it’s a bit nicer if when you do it, you can do it quickly and without getting too distracted.

If you set up your VIP list right and you set it up so any VIP mail is on your lockscreen – you can just turn your phone on and if there is no mail from your VIPs, your lockscreen will have no mail items.  Done.  Now get back to dinner!

When I talk to people though, lots want it, but no one has known about it, much less, how to set it up.

Here’s how you do it.

  • Tap on a email from someone important to you.  Tap on the blue dot around their name.  You should get a contact card for them, and at the bottom, the option to add them to your VIP list.  Tap that.  (It’ll turn into an option to remove them from your VIP list if you change your mind later on…)  photo 1-1
  • Now that they are added, your messages from them will be starred.  That’s great.  Your VIP folder will include mail in your inbox from them.  Super nice.
  • The finishing touch is to go into settings and tweak our notification settings for mail to make messages from VIPs (and only VIPs) pop up on the lock screen.  Start in settings, choose “Notification Center” and then in that list of apps, find Mail.  How you have things set up right now will determine where your Mail item is.  Mine was in the “Not in Notification Center” section.photo 1
  • Tap on Mail.  You’ll get a list of your accounts and then a section at the bottom specifically for VIPs.photo 3
  • Choose the VIPs section – its settings override all the others, so we don’t need to mess around with those.  In the VIP section the top switch (not pictured) determines if you want your VIPs in Notification Center or not.  I choose not to. Next you choose what type of alert you want from VIPs.  I choose banners.  So if I get mail from a VIP while I am playing Carcassonne, a little banner will roll at the top of the screen letting me know that.  Sometimes it can be more important than the Carcassonne game.  Sometimes.  If you want your unread count to be on the Mail icon, have “Badge App Icon” on.  You can choose a sound for when new VIP mail comes if you want that.  I choose none.  If you want a preview of your mail, you can enable that.  And the most important thing comes last.  Enable “View in lock screen”. That puts the banners of your new mail in your lockscreen while you are enjoying dinner.photo 2
  • Now, your lockscreen will light up only when you get mail from VIPs in your mail life.  Perfect.photo 3-1
  • And if you want to jump directly to one of those messages, instead of sliding the slider at the bottom, slide the mail icon next to the message you want to open up.
    photo 4

Hope this helps and that you have a good holiday, with less stink eye from those that you should be paying attention to, even if you’ve heard that story they’re telling before.

Especially if it is my story…