My Treadmill Desk: The Motivation

29 07 2012

Recently, I decided to take the plunge and build myself a treadmill desk. While I have had the idea for quite a while, I was inspired by a few colleagues  to built one for myself. I’ve only recently been able to complete my desk as my family and I have been squeezed into a small 2 bedroom apartment, and there would not be enough room for such a setup. Now that I’ve finally built my desk, I thought it would be important to explain a couple things. First, my motivation behind it,. I’ll post my desk setup in another post.

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I’ve never known a life without a significant amount of body fat protruding from some part of my body. For many years, I attributed it to a hereditary problem since the majority of my family was as large or larger than myself. My brother is an exception to that rule. (On a side note, my younger daughter also seems to be the exception).

There was a time in my life when I was fit and in shape, though still a bit overweight. This was a time where I made a conscious choice to stop watching TV all together (save for sporting events). At the time, I would keep up with many shows, as many of my friends still do, but I realized that I was living my life though the TV, and really not living a life at all. I decided that this was a true waste, and I should have my own adventures and experiences. My great escape from sedentary life was via the bicycle. I was living in Boulder, Colorado at the time, and working at IBM. I decided I should ride my bike to work. It was the beginning of summer. By July, I had lost 20 pounds, and it was really obvious I had lost weight. And I changed nothing but my resolve to exercise by changing my commute. This choice eventually changed my life and led me on a fantastic journey taking me from a tour of the Rocky mountains, to a short trip between Seattle and Portland, to 7 – 110 mile trips around my hometown, Tucson, Arizona. I was eventually fast enough to finish that last event (search for Mora) in less than 5 hours. Not bad for a fat guy. Back then, cycling, work and family was my life. It was good.

The other, more secret, reason I decided to take up cycling was that I was also a diabetic. I had been one since I was 13. I found out when I had to take a physical to join the high school football team. My journey as a diabetic was an odd one. At first, I was on insulin shots. I would have to do this to myself twice a day. I hated it, but I thought I had no choice. Over time, My dosed were reduced. Eventually I went on a pill that helped stimulate my pancreas into producing enough insulin. And, eventually I didn’t even need the pill. At this point I had finished college. I was still considered diabetic though. After several years of cycling, I had gone into a physical where my doctor basically said I was cured of diabetes. This was quite a relief. But I knew that I had to keep cycling in order for this “cure” to stick around. And I was ok with it because I loved (and still love) riding my bike.

Now, things are a tad different. My family has different demands on my time. My work is all encompassing since I decided to become self employed and try to build my own business. And, I am nearly 20 pounds heavier than my “racing weight”. I’ve come to the conclusion that the business I want to build is definitely worth the time investment, however, it can’t come as a detriment to my health. I don’t want to have a relapse as a diabetic. I want to be able to keep up with my kids as they have far too much energy. I want to stay healthy, and avoid the need for the overpriced and inefficient American healthcare system. In short, I need to work and keep my body moving at the same time. Sitting down all the time to write code is not a good way to stay in shape. And so, I decided that along the lines of making my commute work for me, and not against me by making it exercise time, the treadmill desk uses the same idea of making work time and exercise time overlap a bit more. I still want to get in some more bike time though.


Getting Back to It

28 07 2012

Wow, it’s been a few years since I blogged about my and my family’s life here.

A lot has happened in two years since my last post. Of the things of note, we’ve changed our home base from Gilbert, Arizona to Highlands Ranch, Colorado. My wife and I have wanted to move to Colorado again for several years. Basically, every summer in Arizona, the question would inevitably rise “Why do we live here in the heat again?” Well, you’ll never get something if you don’t make it happen yourself. That is basically how our move happened. I decided it was time to leave, and I found a reason to leave. That being a new job in Denver. That job was with Double Encore.

However, since I was working as a contractor for a while, I had caught the self-employment bug. That is, I started a business, and I want to see it grow into something. I started Magical Panda. Sometimes I’m not sure why. But, I’m glad I did. It’s been a tough road, and it’s not going to be easier from here. But working for myself has become something of an eye opening experience and opened doors most employment opportunities could never open. That isn’t to say this is for everyone, but I’m enjoying it, and learning much on this journey, which to me, is what life is all about anyhow.

Well, I’m going to try to post more thoughts here again as I’ve set it up to be easy to author posts again. Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from you all at some point.

Disneyland was fun

29 12 2010

My family and I have just had a crazy fun time at the original Disneyland park in California. It seems that Cocoa developers like to compare and contrast observations from their recent visits to Disney theme parks with the Apple user experience. While I had no intention of doing so when I started my trip, I think my sense of detail kicked in and picked up a few things that help me understandwhy Disneyland is indeed the happiest place on Earth.

IMG_4132.JPGGetting the details right is an extremely difficult thing to do. If one thing is out of place, the rest of the experience just feels a little less perfect than it should. Disney and Apple do this very well, and I noticed this is in a couple of places. First, there was a Pixar Character Parade in the California Adventure side of the park. The parade was perfectly staged, and went off without a hitch. However, we made our way to the very end of the parade, where the floats and performers exit into the gated backlot. This is generally the place where the performers stop dancing, and for good reason, they’ve exited the stage, and can get a chance to relax. However, there were some floats that were visible beyond the gates, since they were so tall. Any other park, the performers would have ignored the kids at this point, but these people stayed in character until they were well out of sight. A small detail, but an important one.

The characters are great opportunities for the kids to meet their favorite fictional people. While it’s obvious to see the princess type characters smiling, the ones with masks don’t have to smile. Nevertheless, I kept getting the impression that the people in the Mickey, Pluto and other fulling masked characters were also smiling under the mask. I kept thinking about the old adage that people can hear you smiling on the phone. This is another one of those details that can make a good visit to Disneyland a great one.

I’ve been to theme parks where most people were kind of grumpy, or at least not as cheery as you would expect, but this visit was different. From the first moment we decided to go to the park, we entered the Happiness Distortion Field. The shuttle drivers all were super helpful, making jokes and having a good time driving everyone.

After entering the park, I noticed that even with the huge amount of people traffic, the ride operators were also helpful, pleasant, and smiled quite a bit. Ride operators are certainly one of the more classically neglected theme park or carnival employees. Most likely because the job is very repetitive, and the requires dealing with a lot of crying kids. At Disneyland, I noticed that the ride operators changed quite often. Not sure if they were on 15 or 30 minute shifts, but the cycle was quick enough for me to see these changes on at least half the rides I went on while I was waiting in line. With the large number of park visitors on the day I was there, I could understand the idea to keep employees fresh and rested so that everyone’s visit is great.

The Happiness Distortion Field didn’t stop with the park employees, it continued on to the visitors themselves. I noticed that most people were very courteous in Disneyland. I got the feeling that we were all there for the same reason, to have a good time. Whenever a hat would fall, I witnessed, a few times, people behind the offender picking it up and continuing on. This is not normal to me.

While we were waiting in line for the Astro Blaster Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland, I heard a couple parents start to panic because they lots their child. That section of the park was so packed that their son was swooped up along with the crowd. The frantic screaming went on for a good 30 seconds. Then, someone pointed down, to indicate he was found, and like Moses parting the Red Sea, the people around him moved away to reveal a crying little boy. I got the sense that everyone was just as relieved as that boy’s parents. I’m not sure if the Happiness Distortion Field helped with this or not, but  it couldn’t have hurt.

In all, our Disney experience was a fun one. This was my daughters’ first visit, and probably won’t be our last.


16 11 2009

Every morning, like most families with school-aged kids, we rush like crazy to get everyone ready for the day. Eating breakfast, cleaning up, getting dressed, preparing lunch, gathering school stuff, and finally getting loaded in the car is quite a workload in the morning for most kids. Eliana is usually pretty good about getting up, and getting things taken care of. I’m always amazed at her maturity at her young age.

This morning, we were not nearly in as much of a hurry as normal. After a couple of years of trial and error, you’d think we had this routine down by now. Regardless, the time of the morning came to do her hair. I usually step out of the room for this because, well, it’s girlie time, and I try to let the girls do their thing. Much to my surprise, she emerged from the stairs with two cute ponytails. She asked me how she looked. I said “good” (like any normal guy, even a Dad, would). She said, “No, I look pretty”. I know it was time to get a picture of the cuteness, and here it is. Make sure to protect yourself. Her powers of cuteness are getting stronger every day…

Eliana Loses her First Tooth

21 07 2009

I was expecting a lost limb or something with the cry I heard from Eliana this morning. She came running to her mom and I in shock saying that she needed to go to the dentist. It was then I realized she probably had a loose tooth. I guess for a child that hadn’t experienced this, a loose tooth would be quite the shock. However, after closer inspection, we found no tooth, and a small gap in her mouth, and a small amount of blood. After I explained to her the virtues of the pending visit by the Tooth Fairy and that this was a normal process, she understood, and is now ready to receive her magical tooth fairy gift.

Two Tough Ladies

1 07 2009

Eliana and Annabelle have been in taekwondo class for nearly two months now. Yesterday was the first of hopefully many important days for our girls. They both received their yellow belts for Taekwondo. Their part of the promotion ceremony was small, and entertaining. It’s just so much fun to watch a 3-year-old do taekwondo kicks, punches and yells.

I look back on my own childhood, and see the missed opportunities based on my family’s circumstances. It’s great that my girls can have fun learning something that will help them in their lives both physically and mentally. I know their mom has a special place in her heart for taekwondo since it is the korean martial art.

I’m happy that I was able to make it to see them break the board as part of their promotion. I have been quite busy lately, trying to gain ground in other areas of my life, but I will always find the means and time to attend important events like this in the lives of my girls. Their mom tells me that the fact that I show up makes them want to do things better. They pay attention more, they shout louder (a good thing in taekwondo), and, in Annabelle’s case, she listens for a little longer to the instructor before getting distracted. I’m humbled that they think the world of me, and I hope one day they read this blog to know that the reverse is also true.

My First Cello

28 06 2009

Not too many people know this, but growing up, I played the cello for several years. Like nearly 10 years, starting from 5th grade all the way through high school. It was a long journey, and only added to my nerd status growing up. Playing in the orchestra was definitely not as cool as playing in the band.

The one key lesson I learned from all those years of playing cello was that natural talent only goes so far. I had a an aptitude for learning new music and techniques very quickly as a child. Armed with that knowledge, I would do what most kids in that position would do, take it easy. In my world, things were easy, so I could just float by on raw talent alone. This was my downfall later on in my musical career as those who practiced far more than I eventually became far better cello players than me. I was slow to get over  a certain plateau, and never did quite make it further.

As I look back on those days of my musical past, I am forced to realize one single fact: I never owned my own instrument. We had always used an instrument provided by the school. I never really cared as a kid, I was able to do well enough with the school cellos. My music teacher would always tell me to get one. I never did. Until today. It has been a full five (5) years since I last touched a cello, but today I found a basic starter cello that I actually own.

It seems odd that it took more than 20 years for me to own a cello. And, quite frankly, I don’t have all the time in the world to play. However, I do have two small daughters whom I can teach the basics of cello to, and who already seem quite enamored with it and the opportunity to play. From there, I can get in a couple hours a week of quality practice time. With a solid foundation, I truly hope to branch out musically in ways I was never able to as a kid.

Despite my torrid past with the cello, one thing it did give me is an understanding and appreciation of music and a desire to pursue music as a way to express myself.

Going on a Digital Vacation

3 03 2009

As we enter our final week prior to our big family trip to Hawaii, I’ve been scurrying around trying to get things in place. Flight info, travel, hotel, the usual things right? Well, as a Dad, a geek and a budding amateur photographer, I’m also struggling with the questions of what gear do I take? This isn’t going to be a camping trip where electronics aren’t allowed. But, I still want to take the fewest things possible. Here, I present my vacation suggestions.

First, take your laptop. I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro to have 500 GB of drive space. That sounds like a lot, and normally it should be enough space. But, since I’m going to basically be on a mission of gathering digital artifacts, I’m going to need all the space I can get. I’m also bringing along an external drive with 250 GB of space. This drive is a normal laptop drive housed in a nice enclosure. In all, ~650GB of space should be enough. I like to be prepared. But, what is all this space for? Well…

Second, take a digital camera. I’m taking two. Recently, I upgraded my DSLR to the Canon Rebel XSi. I’ve got a few good lenses now, and I plan to set aside some time during this trip to just take some photographs. Hopefully the kids won’t mind. I’m also taking my new Canon SD880. The photos that come out of it are terrific for the size of the camera, and I’ll have it in my pocket, ready at a moment’s notice. Perfect for those times when you just don’t want to lug around an SLR and three different lenses. But these cameras only take a few GB of pictures, you say? Sure, but I use the DSLR in RAW mode, so I’m using 12 MB per picture (it’s a 12 megapixel camera). Ok, fine, but that still seems like overkill on the space…

Until you consider the digital camcorder. While my SD880 does have a movie mode, I also plan on packing my Sanyo HD1000. This high definition camcorder is capable of recording in 1080i resolution. I have a 4 GB card for it to help my be more mindful of my recording. I may yet still find an affordable 16 GB card for it. But, if you add up a few hours (over two weeks) of video, well, you can easily eat up the 250 GB drive alone.

Now, if you’ve read down to this point and started thinking “This dude is a total geek, and is crazy for trying to do all that to his family on vacation”, well, you’re right. I don’t plan on record every single second of my trip. However, there will be days where I will be focused on the pictures, and others where I will focus on the activity in front of me. But, it sure doesn’t hurt to bring along these little items just in case because they are just so small these days.

So, check back here, our vacation site, or on our photo page to see how our vacation is going!


Croquet Anyone?

2 03 2009

I always love an excuse to have pizza at Zach’s pizza in Tucson. We’ve been regular patrons of this place for nearly 10 years as it is located very near the University of Arizona campus. A few years ago, my good friend Tom took up croquet, and has encouraged us to give it a try on more than one occasion. Recently, however, it has been a regular post Zach’s pizza staple. This particular game was made particularly interesting because the course was very dry (it makes the ball go fast) and bumpy. The real tough part of staking out (winning the game) was that the stake was in the middle of an elevated mound, like the 18th hole in a mini golf game. The drama lasted longer than most of us had wished (we finished our game near midnight), but in the end, we all had a good time. I’m looking forward to the next match, Tom.

Little Gym Rat

16 02 2009
Little Gym Rat

Little Gym Rat

Our youngest daughter loves to play, as any toddler. I try to participate in her life despite my work schedule. The local Little Gym had a fun toddler class, and I decided to record one of our visits together. Annabelle revels in the full attention she receives from one of us at a time, but she should know, it’s just as fun from our side to focus on one child at a time as well.