Monthly Archives: February 2010

Tons of Disguised Spam

I don’t know what happened lately to cause this, but I am getting a lot of disguised spam. I don’t know if various poker affiliates think they being really coy and sneaky or whatever but there are a lot of people posting normal-looking comments with their poker affiliate site URLs in the web site field. I guess they’re doing this to get a link even though it’s nofollow’ed (ie, supposedly doesn’t pass PageRank to help with search engine rankings).

Let me just make it clear that unless I know you, your site and I think it’s a good site, I am not going to approve the link to a poker affiliate site. I’ll just remove it from the comment and move on. Sorry, but this isn’t the place for you to come to to get links in comments.

More Olympics and Josh “Bokardo” Porter

That win over Canada’s mens hockey team was great. It felt like a total freeroll for the USA. No one in the US really cares about hockey but everyone in Canada seems to care so much about how well their team does. But winning is winning and it’s sweet.

Overall the USA is really doing tremendously well in my opinion. Between the USA Ski Team kicking ass on both the men’s and women’s side, the speedskaters doing pretty well on the men’s side and the snowboarding (both snowboard cross and halfpipe) team, the USA is making a really good showing. Which isn’t totally expected for the winter olympics. So it’s nice to see.

I am about to head down to Costa Rica for a two week trip. It’s a work trip so it won’t be all fun but I am looking forward to seeing a bunch of people down there. It is a fun place to go back to for a bit. No trip to the beach planned for this trip to Costa Rica but that could always change when I get there. The work I have planned mainly revolves around PocketFives and the new version we’re working on. If anyone out there has any good suggestions for vBulletin plugins or mods, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll check it out. Right now we’re wrapping up a lot of the core parts of the switchover and moving into a part of the development which is more of a smaller task sort of routine. That includes dealing with things like site search and other potentially tricky tasks. But none of the tasks remaining are both significant and difficult (in my opinion) so we basically just have a bunch of medium sized tasks to work on. I’m really excited about how it’s coming together and I definitely look forward to the Costa Rica trip because I’ll be working with the P5s programmers daily.

Unfortunately the trip will cut into my CrossFit routine but I will be doing a bunch of replacement workouts at the local gym. I’ve been feeling stronger and stronger with the CrossFit stuff so I hope to keep that progression going when I’m on my own. Part of the difficulty with CrossFit thus far is that I have been eating at a caloric deficit for approximately nine months. While that caloric deficit was a great help in achieving my weight loss goals (I lost 60 lbs) it causes problems on a strength training routine. I don’t recover as quickly and I don’t feel as strong when working out. So I have been trying to ramp up the calories a bit but it hasn’t been easy. I get full a lot faster than I used to. And I’m not willing to compromise on food quality and eat total junk filled with processed food and saturated fat just so I can eat more calories. So getting on a caloric surplus with healthy food has not been easy but I am trying.

On another note, I’ve been watching a lot more live TV than I normally do because of the Olympics. A bunch of times my DVR has recorded into the NBC local news. And, for some reason, I am tapped into the Chicago NBC HD feed. I’ve caught the weather part a few times and I actually have something to say about it. It’s absurd to live in Chicago and bitch about snow. If you don’t like cold weather or snow, MOVE. The routine on the Chicago news crew is actually pretty ridiculous. Whenever the weather guy is like “bad news guys, MORE snow is on the way, brace yourselves” the rest of the news team is like “oh man that sucks, I can’t believe we have to put up with more cold weather” and they generally bitch about it for a bit and then just sigh and move on. I mean, wtf is wrong with them. That’s like people in Cayman bitching about it being hot and sunny out. It comes with the territory. For whatever reason, that news crew really tilts me. I’m glad I’m not normally watching the news.

Last bit of tilt has to do with another work thing. We’ve been reaching out to a few web form consultants to try to help with our form processing on a few of our sites. For those who aren’t technically inclined, forms are the spots where you fill in info. So when you’re buying or registering for something. The guys also help with other parts of the site but the forms are their speciality. The first guy I tried was Luke Wroblewski. He was pretty reasonable and nice. He’s apparently busy with his job and consulting for a bit but at least he responded to my request to purchase some of his time. He pointed me to a guy named Josh Porter (aka Bokardo). I’d heard of Josh before and I’d read his blog so I knew he could do a decent job for us. Lo and behold he has a services section on his website (I ran that through bitly because I want to give as little Google PageRank juice to him as possible). I email him once. No response. I email him again. No response. Both emails were short, friendly and to the point. I gave him a few days to respond to each one. I give him a call and he actually picks up. He claims to have “major email problems” which, I suppose, is possible. Although that doesn’t say much for him if he can’t figure out how to get email delivered reliably (I should also mention that his website was down for the first few days I tried to look at it so I knew he was not a technical master from the start). Keep in mind that getting email is something my grandmother has figured out. So, sure, email problems. I’m not hiring him to be a server tech so I really don’t care that much. He gives me another email address over the phone. This one is a gmail address so there’s pretty much no way that those emails aren’t getting through. Once again, I send him an email. No response. Same thing with a second email. Obviously at this point I’m fed up and not going to work with him. What tilts me is not that he doesn’t want to work with us (there are tons of form consultants out there who will happily accept the many thousands of dollars we’re willing to spend on good advice). What tilts me is the total lack of respect and follow through on the part of a web consultant.

Someone who promotes a web consulting business not responding to four emails is not how business should be done. I get a ton of random emails and PMs from people with business ideas or other requests and even if I am not interested, I always respond. I really didn’t expect the level of maturity and professionalism to drop to a level even lower than that within the poker world. I don’t know why this bothered me so much because, like I said, we’ll spend a lot of money on someone else who is more responsive and helpful. So it’s probably best the whole thing got off on the wrong foot from the get go. I just had to get this rant off my chest.

Also, if someone knows a good form consultant, leave a comment with a link to their website and I’ll check it out. We’re still trying to decide who to hire.

Olympics

I’ve been watching the Olympics a lot so far. The weekend basically consisted of me sitting on the couch barely able to move (thanks CrossFit) and watching TV. I couldn’t even spend much time on the computer because my arms were so dead and I just wanted to slump on the couch and recover. The good news is that a couple of days of sitting on your ass, eating and sleeping a lot does amazing things for recovery. I feel way better now even though there is a little bit of lingering soreness.

So I’ve watched almost every Olympic event so far. I really enjoy it. There’s something about the enormity of the moment combined with the global competition that makes it compelling for me to watch almost every medal round. Pretty much the only thing I can’t stand is the figure skating. I can’t quite figure the sport out and I don’t see the differences between most routines. But I’ve enjoyed watching stuff like short track speed skating, long track speed skating, nordic combined, cross country skiing, freestyle skiing, luge, etc.

I think, if I had to pick my favorite winter Olympic sports, it would have to be downhill skiing (yet to come obv) and both types of speed skating. I much prefer objective sports and both sports are really exciting. Short track speed skating is just awesome stuff to watch imo. Apparently the American speedskater JR Celski is a poker player although I am not sure what that means (ie, poker fan, live poker, online poker, etc). I also really like stuff like snowboard cross although that is just getting going.

In work news, the new PocketFives is coming along pretty well. Everyone working on the project seems to be doing a good job so far and we’ve made a lot of progress. We still have some tricky aspects to work on but overall everything is smooth so far. I know that, at first, people will dislike it simply because people dislike change. Anything different from what they’re used to is automatically bad. But I think the real barometer will be what people think of it 20 to 30 days after the switchover. I fully expect negative criticism for the first few days but I’m really hopeful people will like it a few weeks out.

Also, I’m heading back down to Costa Rica in about a week so that should be fun. It’ll be a really busy work trip given all of the projects we have going on right now. We’ll be right in the middle of a bunch of PocketFives work along with a bunch of other stuff.

Lastly, I just started watching Sons of Anarchy over of the weekend. Really good show so far, I’m glad I picked it up. I can recommend the first five episodes for sure.

A few days into CrossFit

I’ve gone to CrossFit Cayman the last few days. Every day is a different workout and for the most part everyone does the same thing. Sometimes it gets modified if people have an injury or can’t do a certain exercise the “hard way” (ie, like when people do push ups on their knees) but it’s mostly the same thing.

The workouts are definitely hard, there’s no doubt about that. Not hard in a heavy sense but hard in a speed and repetition sense. They want you to do things in a fast/explosive manner and rep everything out really quickly. Doing things that way can make something that is routine seem really hard. I’ve definitely gotten my ass kicked on the things that require a lot of speed over the course of a large number of reps because I’ve never trained like this before and I’m totally out of shape when it comes to doing things in this manner. But, like anything else when it comes to exercise, I know it will come around as long as I keep at it.

For an example of a workout, today we did the following:

Ab Mat sit-up
Good mornings
Knees to elbow
95 pound stiff legged deadlift

And we did 30-25-20-15-10-5 repetitions of each. So 30 situps, 30 good mornings, 30 knees to elbow, 30 stiff legged deadlifts, 25 situps, etc. On down the list until you finally do 5 stiff-legged deadlifts to wrap up the workout.

Ab Mat sit-ups are basically just a full range of motion sit up. I had to switch to crunches partway through because I couldn’t keep doing full range of motion sit ups. My core was just totally blown up.

Good mornings are done like this:

The difference is that we did it without weight and just a light bar. We were supposed to do them fast so you can’t really do that with much weight on it.

Knees to elbows have you hanging on a bar and you need to bring your knees up to your elbows. They are ridiculously hard. I couldn’t even come really all that close to touching my elbows with my knees so I settled for getting my thighs to parallel. Still really hard when you’re doing that many and you’re combining it with the other stuff.

And, lastly, stiff legged deadlifts (also called Romanian deadlifts) are done like this:

Instead of 95 lbs they had me do it with 65 lbs. Especially considering that we did deadlifting yesterday and I’m new to the whole thing, it was probably a good idea to do that. The stiff legged deadlifts were challenging at 65 lbs within the context of the workout even though they would be really easy if I was just doing a set of them at 65 lbs.

Anyway, so that’s one workout. You do it as fast as you can. My time was… not all that fast. I’ll improve though.

Super Bowl

I had a pretty laid back weekend overall. Saturday morning I tried out CrossFit and it was fun. I’m going to go back this afternoon for a real workout. I’m sure it’ll be hard but that’s what I’m going for so I’m looking forward to the challenge. The only thing I really struggled with was the timing of the dip/hop/dip stuff in the jerk (you need to know about Olympic clean and jerks to know what I’m referring to). This is an example of a random clean and jerk (obv this isn’t me):

The clean is where you lift the bar up to the front of your shoulder. It’s like a combination of a power deadlift and a quarter front squat. Then the jerk is where you dip, hop a bit (to get some upward momentem on the bar) and then dip again to allow yourself to extend the weight above your head. It’s like you’re “cheating” on a press because you’re using the momentum of the weight to make it much easier to get it overhead… not to mention dipping your body away from the bar and then doing a slight overhead squat to stand up fully. It takes more timing and technique than it looks like to get it right. I’m sure I will get it but I was struggling to time it correctly at first.

Other than CrossFit, I didn’t do too much until the Super Bowl last night. I went up to a party with some friends here in Cayman and it was a good time. There was a hot tub, a few TVs, a “gambling corner” and a bunch of food. The Gambling Corner consisted of a large piece of paper tacked onto the wall where we made all sorts of bets. Most of them were pretty low limit because most of the people there were not degen gamblers like a lot of the people who read this blog. Here’s a picture of Gambling Corner:

I made a bunch of bets. I had the over on 26 in the first half for $5 (lost). I had the over on three rushing TDs for $5 (lost). I had Hartley in a three way $5 bet for who was going to be the highest scoring player in the game and I won against Addai and Garcon (+$10). And I had the Saints +4.5 for $100 in the only action I could get going all night. The bets were actually in Cayman currency which is pegged at 1.25-1 against the dollar so I actually won $125 USD. I’ll take it. I’m on an absurd run in sports bets (theoretical flips) and actual flips (ie, credit card roulette). I’ve won like 19 of my last 20 “flips”. Really sick.

In other news, sounds like there was a pretty sick snowstorm back home in the northeast. This is one of those moments that I am glad I live in Cayman. My dad sent me this picture of his car:

Yup, I will take 80 degrees, sunny and beaches over that.

Weight lifting update

It is absolutely amazing how fast you can improve at the outset of a weightlifting program. I know that a lot of it is like latent strength that you already have that takes a little bit of time to manifest itself in other lifts but, still, it’s amazing. I am already squatting 170 for 5 reps with good form. And my bench has jumped to 170 for 5 reps. And I tried 180 but I only managed to do 3. Deadlift I’m a little less positive about because I don’t feel like my form in the concentric motion is all that great. I can keep a straight back on the way up without much of a problem and I feel like I can do way more weight on the way up but I just don’t put the weight down in a good manner. My back bends a bit and I am worried that I will get injured if I don’t fix my form. I am going to re-read that chapter of Starting Strength in detail (only skimmed it before) to try and get it fixed. I’m also going to watch some online videos from reputable sources. Until I feel comfortable with it I am sticking with really light weights to make sure I don’t injure myself. The last thing I want is a back injury.

Not too much else going on. Mouth is still kind of healing. I’m not totally happy with it but I have a followup appointment tomorrow. Depending on how that goes I will decide whether I need to see someone else. I don’t have a really good feeling about tomorrow but I want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt because he’s been so nice so far. And he does seem to be qualified he just doesn’t seem like he’s really handling this particular healing all that correctly.

Oh, and I am trying out CrossFit. It’s hard to describe exactly what it is but it’s like a loosely formed group of independent affiliates who run gyms that don’t have machines in them. Just barbells, bars, etc. No Cybex machines, treadmills, etc. And they do a lot of total body exercise stuff and the workouts seem really good and really hard. There is a local affiliate in Cayman so I am doing the intro class on Saturday. I’m pretty excited about it.