October 31, 2004

Marine Corps Cheerathon

Madeleine and I just got home from cheering on our friends, Rachel, Jesse, and Casey, who ran the Marine Corps Marathon today.

Madeleine and I had the pleasure of tagging along with other friends and relations in a mini-marathon of our own, walking up and down escalators at five different metro stations, and walking from Rosslyn, through Georgetown, down Connecticut Avenue (around the White House), past the Washington Monument, and then down to some hair-pin turn past the U.S. Mint. Then we marched back up the hill to the Smithsonian metro stop, caught one of the rare trains back to Rosslyn and walked down to the Iwo Jima memorial for the finish. It was a lot of walking, but we were able to catch glimpses of our heroes four times along the route.

I've been to a few 5Ks and other races, but this was my first time spectating at a marathon, and it was an interesting experience. I didn't know, for example, that so many people write their names on their shirts so people can shout out personalized encouragement. That was nice. I also learned that it's possible to run 26.2 miles dressed head-to-toe in a Kermit the Frog costume. And there was also a cautionary tale for guys: Wear those little bandaids -- it ain't pretty when you don't.


October 30, 2004

12 Miles

I ran 12 miles this morning in just under two hours. It's so nice to finally taper!

It was a perfect morning for running on the Sligo Creek Trail. It was a little foggy, cool -- but not chilly, and with beautiful fall leaves all over the path.

My legs are barely hanging in there, with shin splints in my right leg and mild discomfort in my knees. I'm gonna have to do some serious stretching.

I'm training for my first marathon ever, and have been spouting The Correct Answer when people ask about what kind of time I'm shooting for: "My only goal is to finish." It's probably time to admit that I've been harboring a secret, hidden wish that I could finish in under 4:00. So, although I should have been taking it easy on this run, I foolishly pushed myself.

Oh, and the battery in my heart rate monitor transmitter started to die on this run. Mid-run, I looked down to see how hard the ol' ticker was working and saw a flashing zero-zero!


October 29, 2004

Subscribe to Gmail!

I just found out about this: You can use your feed reader to keep track of new messages in your Gmail inbox! That's cool! Here's the feed link:

Posted 7:30 PM

October 27, 2004

I will be very sad...

...when Carter (3) no longer begins conversations with, "Are you know what he said?"

...and when Madeleine (6) starts saying "movie" instead of "moovree."


October 25, 2004

Laundry and Homicide

Somebody was shot tonight at the bus stop around the corner while I was doing laundry.

Monday nights are laundry nights. Our landlord technically provides a laundry room, but it's a long walk down our steep driveway, a couple houses over, up a flight of steps, around the back, and down a flight of steps. Oh, and then you have to remember the combo lock sequence to get in. Aaannnd sometimes the machines don't work.

All this to explain why I throw our laundry in the car and take it to the 24-hour laundromat a mile away, where I can take advantage of the parallel processing power of multiple machines and get several loads done in a couple of hours.

Anyway, I don't know the details. I heard the cop cars go by. Then the rumor waves started rolling through the laundromat:

  1. Somebody was shot dead.
  2. A hispanic man was shot. Not sure if he's dead.
  3. Not sure if the man was hispanic. A hispanic woman witnessed the shooting and yelled at the gunman not to shoot.
  4. It was a woman who was shot.
  5. It was the second of two shootings, beginning with a shooting in a cemetary at Adelphi.
  6. Both victims were women. One's dead and one's at the hospital.

Being without TV, I'm looking for news online, but don't see any.

Python and the Universal Feed Parser

I'm giving myself a crash course in Python. The goal is to write a script called any2rss.py that will simply serve as an HTTP GET web service based on Mark Pilgrim's Universal Feed Parser.

Has someone already done this?

It would take just one query string parameter, url, fetch whatever is at that URL, and build a valid feed in whichever flavor of RSS or Atom I want to base my XSLT on.

Caching and redirection would be supported, of course. If-None-Match and If-Modified-Since headers in the request would simply be passed along. Redirection URLs would be converted to point to the script URL with the modified url parameter value.

The Washington Post Endorses Kerry

You may need to register to read it (there's no cost), but the Washington Post officially endorsed Kerry yesterday. The endorsement is tempered with some well-deserved criticism of Kerry. It concludes:

We do not view a vote for Mr. Kerry as a vote without risks. But the risks on the other side are well known, and the strengths Mr. Kerry brings are considerable. He pledges both to fight in Iraq and to reach out to allies; to hunt down terrorists, and to engage without arrogance the Islamic world. These are the right goals, and we think Mr. Kerry is the better bet to achieve them.

The Post also had a very interesting article on how well Bush and Kerry supporters did or didn't understand the facts regarding WMDs in Iraq, the alleged Saddam-al Qaeda link, and world opinion of the U.S.

Posted 10:05 AM

What The Bleep Were They Thinking!?

Jen and I went to see What The Bleep Do We Know!? tonight with our friends, Frank and Terrell. It was Jen's idea, and I grant her that she probably didn't know what was in store any more than I did. She said it had something to do with quantum physics, which sounded very cool to me. Unfortunately, it had almost nothing to do with quantum physics --except that they used those words a lot while talking about a whole bunch of other stuff, like emotions, psychology, spirituality, aging, and sex. It was a total bait-and-switch. The only thing about the movie that had any redeeming value is that it had Marlee Matlin in it, and I think she's great.

Warning: What follows could be considered a spoiler, so if you're still thinking that this movie is worth watching, and that the backgrounds or qualifications of the interviewees should be concealed until the end of the movie for some reason, GO NO FURTHER.

Okay, now can I just say that this one particular woman was creeping me out thoughout the entire movie. Then, as they showed the credits, I discovered why: Because she was actually Ramtha, a mystic, philosopher, master teacher and hierophantas (whatever that is), as channeled by JZ Knight!

I can't say that the movie was completely B.S., because it said things like "believe in yourself," and "think positively," and "it takes one fantasy in the mind of a man to cause an erection in his member." But I still don't understand what any of it had to do with quantum physics. It didn't even cover all the bases. There was no mention of Schrödinger's cat, quarks, gluons, particle spin, or any of that good stuff.

Lots of silliness. Marlee, what were you thinking when you took this one on?

Fitness Fun Continued

Wow! Thank you all for the kind comments! Jen really shared some popularity points with that link!

This morning, I did a 25 mile bike ride with Tom Brown and Julie Baronas of NBP Fitness. The weather was cold and rainy, and I couldn't feel my fingertips for most of the ride. Even in foul weather, the scenery was beautiful!

Much appreciation to the nice people at Rams Head Tavern in the historic Savage Mill, who let us come in and eat brunch there despite being soaking wet and having big mud streaks up the middle of our backs!


October 23, 2004

Twenty One Miles!

I just finished a twenty one-mile run on Sligo Creek Trail. This is the farthest I've run in my entire life! I'm training for the Richmond Marathon on Nov. 13th. Jen ran out to the store for a couple bags of ice for a nice ice bath.


October 22, 2004

JavaScript Search Term Highlighter

This script highlights searched words on your web page.

Since it's implemented in JavaScript that runs in the browser, you don't need to do anything special on the server. It works in static HTML files as well as dynamically generated pages.

The default set of styles looks just like the Google cached pages. An added feature is that your visitors can turn off highlighting and/or hide the legend with one click.

You can try it out here.