back for more

hello everyone. a lot has changed since the last post… for starters, I have been working in Helsinki since then. for those who don’t know Helsinki is the capital of Finland. it is a really beautiful city and very easy for an American to get around in as many people speak excellent English. And the ones that don’t know English really well, know it a fair amount. I know about 7 words of Finnish, which means I’m learning more than 1 a month.

today I just got home from Tallinn Estonia, which is a pretty awesome place. it has more different kinds of buildings than I’ve ever seen in such a small space. the old buildings are really old and the new ones are very… unusual. it is teeming (teaming?) with tourists, even though the temperature hovered around freezing. Very inexpensive by European standards (certainly easier on the budget than Helsinki, but that’s not saying much). i’ll definitely return as it is only 2 hours by boat.

about the usps

When I was leaving Chicago, I was kind of excited to live somewhere the civil servants could do their job efficiently. The democratic machine runs Chicago and while i usually vote dem (like yesterday :-), the place is kinda corrupt (by US standards anyway).

It is still a great city really, with the best of the whole midwest there. But the post office used to deliver mail to my apartment that wasn’t for me. Every week some mail would arrive for people that used to live there. But a surprisingly high percentage (about twice a month) something would arrive that was for a different address.

Trivial yes, but after dealing with the 60622 post office – where I’ve been asked to wait for people in the back while they were on break, i thought “this will be much better in Somerville”. All those great colleges, some of that should rub off, no?

Well not a lot. Monday I got a letter and two delivery slips for someone I’ve never heard of. Tuesday I went over to the post office and told them that he doesn’t live at my address and that my landlord has never heard of him. The Gentleman behind the counter takes the letter. Wednesday his letter shows up again…

leaving the Steve Jobs reality distortion field

i feel like i’m just getting sober after a long bender. i’ve been mislead, taken advantage of, and finally understand the tragedy…

so i’m giving up on the iPhone for a while and bought an htc android phone today.

mainly this is just sour grapes. but i need something that works in Europe and the iPhone cracks are a pain in the ass. i could elaborate on my painful learning experience, but suffice it to say if you want to use an unlocked iPhone, you should read the iPhone dev team’s blog. all the other sites either repost from them or they suck.

my initial impression of the htc desire is that some things are easier with android (e.g., typing special characters). but the htc sync software pegged my cpu with no end in sight… luckily over the air sync is the default (also better than iphone) so email and contacts are all set.

here’s another difference – just buying an iPhone is an ordeal. I’m currently waiting for one for a friend with a 3 week estimated delivery. the desire, I walked into a store, asked some questions, tried the phone out and bought it. walking into the apple store to buy an iPhone is worse than the on-line experience. in Boston i waited forever to talk to someone. in London, they simply do not have them. people show up to buy as many as they can.

London, day 2

it is 21:19. i’m in a hotel. and well rested.

the key to adjusting to the time zone is to not sleep on the red eye – then you have no problem going to sleep at a reasonable hour (i.e., the middle of the day to my Boston based circadian clock). do to a great case of travel-spastic nerves, this was involuntary.

what else have we learned?

well london is very expensive – 4 pounds (~$6.50) for a tube ride? i guess they do that to get everyone to buy an fare card (then the ride goes down to 1.80 pounds).

also, they have darts on the telly! interesting. thankfully the Daily Show is on at 20:30 on channel 13 (M4). why is this not followed by the Colbert Report? did that show go off the air or something?

free wifi till the Jan-15

I’m writing to you from my laptop using Google’s holiday gift of free wifi to airport bound travelers. I have a suggestion for next year – pay the airport to turn off the TV (i imagine CNN is paying the airport to show it) and the muzak (i can’t imagine who would pay for that, but it is here i assure you).

after a month on the bench

i’m traveling again. this should be good. I enjoyed being home for a while, but i crave attention and don’t do a great job of getting it on my own. especially so while my fb relationship status is “its complicated”.

i booked a late flight today to give me plenty of time to get ready, but of course in my panic i got to the gate 3 hours and 16 minutes before take off. a little excessive, eh? i forgot how empty a mid-week airport is.

so now I’m bidding farewell to my between project work and saying hello to random questions from people who often do not understand what I say :-)

misplaced advertisements

today i got a liittle reminder of the value of ad-words. a glossy folded ad in the mail – $500 _off_ a Tag Heuer timepiece!

ordinary people might know them as watches – but if you pay enough, they go all out and call them timepieces for you.

the store is in Chicago. i no longer live in Chicago. the store knows that, they sent it to the right address.

i have not owned or worn a watch in probably 6 or 7 years and only rarely in the last 15. ever since I started carrying a cell phone everywhere …

some good news

no, i’m not talking about a modern english translation of the bible. this post is about my health.

last january my doctor found that my cholesterol was borderline high and my LDL level was quite high. so she gave me a 1-year perscription of Lipitor, asked me to eat less pork and beef (she doesn’t know, but the real culprit was eggs and cheese, i probably eat beef about 1/month) and sent me away.

i told her it was probably high because it was the middle of winter and i (at the time) did all my exercise outside, which amounted to very little in the winter.

so i immediately started:

  • walking more, even in the cold Chicago snow
  • greatly reduced the number of eggs
  • reduced the amount of cheese, beef and yes even less pork (which is one of my favorite foods)
  • started going to the gym occasionally (1 or 2 times a week)
  • taking the lipitor, but not religously

two months in, i realized i had only taken about 50% of the pills. so i set an alarm and left them out on the nightstand. i heard some study found that only about 90% of patients accurately follow their doctors perscriptions – so i am in good company.

later, in the summer IIRC, i started going to the gym more often (2 -4 times a week). that is in addition to cycling, which i do when the weather is good. i never do both more than 4 or 5 times in a week.

now 10 months have gone by and the change is thus:

Jan Nov
202 134 - cholesterol (110-200)
144 069 - LDL (<130)
036 044 - HDL (norm >40, ideal >60)
127 104 - triglyceride (40-160)

much better and very different numbers. maybe i forgot about a chilli dog during my “fast” in january?

anyway, now that i can see the delta is so dramatic, i am driven to keep it up. i wonder what portion of the effect was drug related and what portion was “lifestyle”. of course i want to think that lifestyle dominates, but that is just pride. maybe someday i’ll reduce or stop the statin altogether and find out. but for the next 8 to 10 months i’m just going to keep at it and see if it continues to improve – everything looks good, but my HDL could still be higher to get to the “ideal” range.

warming the bench – halloween update

the last 2 weeks i’ve been home – some people say on the bench, as in baseball; some people say on the beach, as in vacation.

rolled off of one project, but the next one hasn’t started yet. been researching and writing some papers for work, but not hustling like usual.

it’s Halloween and kids are outside playing, which is kind of a pleasant sound at 7 or 8. i may not feel the same way at midnight when the “kids” will be drunken 20 somethings. hopefully it will be fairly chill. but it was a really warm day (in the 70s!!!) – so people can more easily stay outside.

i’ve been looking for a computer. decided to split my work and personal stuff. i may regret that choice, sometimes that can be a hassle. you are in the middle of work and realize you want to download those mp3s that just got released.

one of the nice things about my company is that my laptop is treated like it is actually mine – i can install whatever i want as long as it is licensed legally and doesn’t conflict with my day job. and the laptop is mine -when our upgrade cycle comes around we have the option to keep the machine. this makes this decision a little more difficult.

one motivation is that i want to try out windows 7. it has been getting good reviews. so i’m looking for a small notebook preferably with a SSD drive. when I look around, an ideal candidate is the mac book air. but that doesn’t run win 7 (at least not without me spending a bunch of time and $s to make it so, and even then, i’m not sure). i’ve been lusting after one of those since they 1st came out. but the tightwad in me won’t go for it. they are $1708 on amazon.

guess i’ll whet my appetite by upgrading to ubuntu 9.1 on the old 17″ laptop. that monster is the reason i want a light weight laptop. it is ok for around the house. but i want something i can bring with me – to the coffee shop or away on weekends without needing another piece of luggage…

so if anyone knows of something analogous to the mb air running win 7 with an ssd drive and camera, please comment. apple fans, this is your invitation to ridicule.

3rd weekend

just watched “Let The Right One In” – a vampire movie from Sweden. i usually can’t stand supernatural stuff in movies and i don’t really go for horror movies either (the last one i saw was the Blair Witch Project, which sucked and was very un-scarry). but this movie was great. I want a girlfriend like that, well sort of.

looks like i’m going to be on the bench Monday. usually that doesn’t last very long. given the amount of hiring we’ve been doing, I’m guessing no more than a week and a half. normally i prefer to be billable, but this comes at a good time – i can settle into my apartment and unpack; do business during the week. plus it will give me a chance to catch up on the latest versions of our product(s).