Monthly Archives: December 2011

Woo-hooo! Last post of 2011

Quick run-down of my last year:

1) Graduated with my M.Ed.

2) Got my LAPC

3) Applied to Counseling Psychology PhD programs.

4) Got a real job. In this economy.

5) Celebrated 4 years of being married to my beautiful/awesome/best-friend wife.

6) Got into lifting weights, now I feel great.

7) Changed my diet, now I feel great.

8) Finally started posting more on my blog

9) Gave up gaming for the better.

10) Am going into the new year with new fitness goals, new academic goals, and new life goals.

11) Completed a cliche New Year’s Eve post. Woo-hoooo!!

-ASG

Advertisements

Ode to Roku 2 XS

Recently I came into contact with a little device that resulted in simultaneous excitement and frustration- the Roku 2 XS. For those of you who don’t know,  a Roku is a tiny box that allows you to stream HD content from the internet directly into your TV. It is great if you have wi-fi but don’t have a smart TV.

First, the excitement. The Roku renewed my interest in Netflix, which my wife and I had dumped due to their price hike. Also, I just plain like gadgets. Additionally I love having access to a ton of my favorite sitcoms, movies, etc. Also, there was the excitement of finally dumping cable/satellite as we had found a way to stream to our TV’s without tying up our laptops. (I am aware that many Blu-Ray players stream content, but I never watch DVD’s, so why upgrade to a Blu-Ray player when the Roku is half the price?)

Second, the frustration. The frustration for me came it trying to cut the cord from DirecTV. I wasn’t actually able to, I had to rely on my wife for that one. She finally cancelled our subscription and, for the first time in my life, I am without cable/satellite.

Take a moment to let that sink in. First time ever. I’m not sure if that is a sad commentary on modernity or simply a sad commentary on my life. But my frustration with losing came nowhere close to my wife’s frustration of nearly gaining.

When we first got the Roku my wife and I decided that we were going to try to get over the air signals with an antenna. $130 bucks, two antennae, and 50ft of coaxial cable later my wife was holding our most recently purchased antenna, balanced at an oblique angle, on her tippy toes and leaning over our couch in an attempt to get ONE channel to come in. I had given up roughly 24 hours before and resigned myself to the inevitability of purchasing HuluPlus (since we already have Netflix). However, with Univision being the only channel we could get, even my wife had to throw in the towel.

We were hoping to get the best of both worlds. The channels we momentarily received over the air were crystal clear HD and local. With the Roku, we have access to a bunch of cool movies through Netflix and HuluPlus. However, the combo proved too powerful for the universe to allow us to have. Maybe one day we’ll move to a city where cheap-assess are rewarded. For now, we will just have to enjoy the $70 a month that DirecTV won’t be getting.

Thanks for the read,

-ASG

Give Google+ the finger?

I recently read an article on TechCrunch about Google+ censoring pics uploaded by users. I love TechCrunch, so it pains me to write this post. But only a little.

Let me first state that I think it is stupid that Google+ censored some pictures of people giving the middle finger. Of all things to try to censor, flipping a bird seems like weak sauce. But, Google+ has the right. There, I said it.

Everyday millions (maybe billions?) of people upload tons of user content to websites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and WordPress. Once that user content is uploaded, who owns it? I confess I have no training in internet-ethics (if that is even the right terminology) and I have no concrete facts about how these websites work on a legal level. But why should anyone expect that Google+ can’t touch their data? There, I said it.

I think of it like this- I go to my local university and post copied pictures of myself flipping a bird on the university owned bulletin boards. Then the university takes them down. Can I get pissed at the university because they took down my pictures off of their public boards, which they pay for, supply, and moderate? Is it even my property anymore once I place it in that public forum, especially if it is only a copy? Probably not.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not pro-censorship. However, I also believe that Google+ (or any other social networking company) has the right to create whatever web environment they want (even if that includes hypocritically allowing some porn-ish pictures, as the original author Alexa Tsotsis points out).

Minus the finger.

I think the larger problem here isn’t censorship but rather identity.

When something happens to our social network profiles it feels like something has happened to us. We tend to forget/overlook the fact that our online profiles are just that- profiles. They are not us. When Facebook changes their interface it feels like it has changed something about you. It feels like an intrusion. It feels like a personal violation. However, it is far from personal. It is only digital.

If we had the same stuff posted about ourselves on a public bulletin board (that we didn’t own) as we do on our social networks, and that stuff got removed by the owner, would we feel as angry? Maybe, but I doubt it. A bulletin board doesn’t feel like me. And if you just had the thought “I would never put the stuff I have on Facebook/Google+ on a public bulletin board” then you should probably reevaluate what you are putting out there in general.

And as far as Google+ goes, is it really that shocking that they would monitor your profile pics? I mean, these are the same guys who track your location, track your browsing habits, and auto-read your mail so you get those creepy targeted ads. When I think about how much Google knows about me my profile pic becomes the least of my data worries.

Thanks for reading.

-ASG

A DSH’s List

Things to do while holding stuff during marathon training of spouse/partner, i.e. a Designate Stuff Holder:

Cheer for other runners.

Take a banana for my wife so those freaky elite runners don’t eat ’em all first.

Contemplate the nature of reality.

Contemplate contemplation.

Stare.

Draw.

Write Blogs.

Re-write blogs.

Delete blogs.

Walk around.

Listen to math-metal and zone out only to realize your “zoned out and listening to math-metal” face is off-putting to those around you.

Reassure yourself that you’re “okay with not running because I do other stuff”.

Update your MP3 library.

Imagine an argument with someone with opposite political/religious/philosophical views.

Find an isolated spot along the route and sing out loud with your headphones on.

Realize what you should have said to that imaginary jerk you lost an imaginary argument to.

Think about all the things you’re going to do when you get home.

Plan out how you’re going to do all those things in half the time because you know you’ll take a nap anyway.

Try to avoid that weird guy with the dog.

Pet weird guy’s dog.

Wonder what the cops think about me being parked in the university parking lot at 5am.

Realize the cops don’t even see me.

Make faces when the cops pass.

Most of all, just give support when your spouse finally comes around that turn.

-ASG

Designated stuff holder

My wife runs. A lot. As I type this she is running a race in Royston, Georgia in preparation for a marathon this January. She puts in countless hours each week, making gains in her speed and her distance as she pushes her body to the limit.

I do not run. I ran as a teenager but I never really liked it so I stopped, opting instead for skateboarding (throughout my late teens/early twenties), and now weight lifting. I do light cardio, but I run nothing like what my wife does.

So as my wife pushes her body further and further, striving for the excellence, I just hold stuff.

Yup, Designated Stuff Holder.

Part joke, but part necessity, as a Designated Stuff Holder (DSH) I get to see a different side of racing.

If you are a runner (especially a long distance runner) without a DSH then you probably wish you had one. For those of you who don’t run, allow me to explain.

Running takes very little equipment, essentially clothes and shoes. However, as runners strive for more and more distance the need for more stuff accumulates. First- hydration. How much water can you carry on your person, while running, for 15 miles? Not enough.

Second- energy. Every long distance runner uses something like a goo or a Shot-Bloc, but again most running clothes are made sans pockets (or at least those pockets are small).

Third-everything else. Jackets, car keys, camera (essentially, a DSH can also become a personal photographer during the race).

Finally, a DSH is like a coach- you probably know your partner’s pace time, you probably learn about running along with your partner, you witness your partner’s strengths/weaknesses, etc. Therefore a DSH is in a great position to encourage a runner when they are down, inspire confidence in their abilities, and congratulate them in their success.

Or you can just shut up and hold stuff 🙂

-ASG

A day hike is NOT 12 miles

The workings and communication of any family occur for the most part in their own little system. It’s like a smaller version of what happens on regional scales- Northern US has its own culture and language from Southern US, and England is altogether different. And though we can all communicate, there are some things that are inherent in each that just don’t translate to outsiders. It’s kind of like a mini-tribe, and if you are an outsider to the tribe you may miss the subtle shades of communication that occur. This is precisely what happens to my wife on a regular basis, particularly in regards to my dad.

One of those things that an outsider to my family wouldn’t know is how my dad communicates. I could (and probably will) write and entire blog post on just this alone, but the most important feature of dad’s communication is his ability to minimize – scratch that- spectacular ability to minimize.

It is important to note here that, as I write this, my wife is training for a marathon. Also, you should know that my dad is addicted to exercise, especially endurance exercise. If you have ever been around two people who exercise then you’ve probably experienced that weird synergy that occurs, ultimately making each person more exercise-freaky than they would’ve been on their own. And, if you aren’t careful, you could get caught between the two and suddenly find yourself in a world of hurt.

My dad has always driven me to keep in shape, and in large part is responsible for my current dedication to the gym. However, I have been duped by his minimizing ability too many times in the past and I am acutely aware of it in all of our interactions. The stand out event was when I was about 12 years old and he asked me and my brother if we wanted to go on a mountain bike ride. I thought “Yeah, that sounds okay, even though I’d rather be skateboarding” and I went along with it. Any normal person would expect a physically challenging ride, not too long or too difficult (given that I was a beginner), and mostly fun. Well, after an entire day of riding I was basically dying on that bike. I realized then that, when it comes to exercise (especially endurance exercise), my dad minimizes. “Oh yeah, it wont’ be too hard of a ride . . . it’s sort of ‘challenging’ . . . you’ll have fun”- I began to see these phrases as code for “This is gonna be hard as hell, it’s going to nearly max out your difficulty level, and its gonna SUCK.” This played out a few more times (because I am a slow learner) in a variety of settings- helping roof a house, helping move anything, doing car repairs- but the exercise scenarios were always the worst.

Now that you have all the details, let’s get down to what went wrong.

A conversation between my wife and my dad ensued. It sounded something like this-

W-“I want to go on a day hike”

D-“That would be fun, let’s set one up for when we’re at the cabin” (My dad has a cabin in TN)

W-“Yeah, it would be good cross training for my marathon. Just don’t make it too long. Maybe 5 miles or so, for about 4 hours max, maybe less.”

D-“Sounds good, I know just the place.”

Me- (in my head)-“NOOOOOOO!!”

For you to understand my reaction, I will translate the conversation into what was really said-

W-“I want to go on a day hike”

D-“That would be a great way to torture you for a day, let’s set one up for when we’re at the cabin” (My dad has a cabin in TN)

W-“Yeah, it would be good cross training for my marathon. Just don’t make it too long. Maybe 5 miles or so, for about 4 hours max, maybe less.”

D-“I’m acknowledging what you just said but I am going to completely disregard it and plan a hike from hell, on the least traveled trail through the Cohutta wilderness, subsequently using my minimizing skills to make it sound like no biggie.”

Me- (in my head)-“NOOOOOOOO!!!”

My wife had 1) never been on a day hike and 2) had no idea what she was in for on a regular hike through the Cohutta wilderness, much less a dad-style hike.

For the next few weeks I kept trying to warn my wife, telling her about my dad’s ability to minimize, that this was going to be brutal so she should prepare mentally, etc. My role in the family had been that of the “nerdy wimp”, and my pleas had that kind of ring to them. Therefore she brushed it off mostly, but I think that my insistence got her thinking somewhat.

Then the day of the hike came. We all packed a lunch, packed our Camelbaks (which we almost didn’t pack at the advice of my dad- thank God we did), and left with step-mom in tow (also an exercise freak). The first clue that it was serious was the 20 min drive on a dirt road, up a mountain, just to get to the trail. The second clue was that people were camping at the mouth of the trail, a signal to me that they needed a rest before/after completing this thing. The third was how overgrown the trail was (the trail was never visible for more than about 20 feet in font of you).

And so we began, starting immediately on an uphill. My wife was happy, talking, and spirits high. I was trying not to talk to conserve my energy. Wise move.

Me conserving energy by not smiling.

Fast forward 2.5 hours. About 5 miles in. Now my wife and I are wondering if our quads can take any more after the nearly all uphill hike. Finally, as we wade through the briars and branches we crest over the main peak and rest/eat lunch.

Fast forward 3 hours. 11 miles in. I, exhausted, have moved into a Zen-like meditative state, simply breathing and moving my legs, allowing the pain to wash over me in waves. My wife (who is training for a marathon, mind you) is in tears. Also, that entirely uphill hike had now been an entirely downhill hike since lunch. Sounds nice, right? About as nice as shin splints, jammed toes, and now completely fatigued quads.

At a grand total of 6 hours and 12 mountainous miles we finally made it back to the car. But the torture didn’t there. My hip flexors were so sore I had to lift my legs with my arms to get up the cabin stairs. Meanwhile my wife lived the next 24 hours within arms length of NSAIDs.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. There were some spectacular views (which are currently running in the header) and we could say we “accomplished something”. I got to find out what a black bear smells like (not good, not good at all). I also experienced that feeling that only arises when you are deep in the woods, miles from any roads, and miles from any people (we only saw two all day). Plus, it was another chance to prove I am not just some “nerdy wimp”.

But I mean, c’mon . . . a day hike is NOT 12 miles.

-ASG

Post-less

When I started this blog I had every intention of dumping Facebook and moving to blogging full-time. Naive and optimistic, I know.

Fast forward several months (okay, a year) and I have made one post.

One.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. Embarrassed . . . maybe. . . Frustrated . . . meh . . . Amazed . . . that works. Amazed mostly at how distracting the world is. Notice I shift the blame to the world (that’s called an external locus of control for you non psych types). Blame it on Facebook, Twitter, blah, blah, blah, it’s true they are distracting at times.

I blame work. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate having a job especially when the economy is this bad. It isn’t what I do at work that makes blogging difficult but rather how I do it- by computer.

At the end of the day I have to do so many notes, electronic records, referrals, etc, that my eyeballs rebel against electronic screens. The thought of seeing any more electronically generated fonts makes me physically irritated.

But I have one weapon up my sleeve . . . this post.

Yes, this measly little post. It stands in blatant defiance opposite the crushing weight of procrastination and distraction that, until now, has been this blog. Success! I have overcome!

Never mind that no one reads this thing anyway . . . except for my wife who will likely comment below. (hint-hint-I need some comments!)