p90x Round two....NAILED IT! What about you?

Well, three months later and I can say...round two...I nailed it! That's right, I finished another round of p90x! HA! The measurements and statistics are not in yet (haven't taken them yet) but I can say that I am comfortably wearing jeans that are 8 inches less round than when I started! HA! Take that, fat! So what does this mean? It means...on to round three. Already started it, considering doing the "doubles routine" (adding a whole world of cardio to month's two and three ON TOP OF the regular work-outs).This was a rough round, though. I injured my right shoulder pretty badly the very first day of this round...but I DID NOT STOP! You don't stop, you modify (Than You Tony Horton). I persevered, and it payed off.

So, I have been actually thinking about becoming an official P90X coach, I have been getting people into this thing (this weird...fitness thing) and that might even be more satisfying that the workouts themselves. Accomplishing something great for yourself is one thing, but being able to share that with someone else, enabling someone else to partake in something that has added to your immediate quality of life SO MUCH, well..that is another thing all together.

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Free Culture and The Body of Politics - Micheal Moore's "Slacker Uprising"

26 Days to go until election day here in the US, and I thought I should admit a cynical fear. To express this fear, it is necessary to remember that in the year 2000, Al Gore was told that, even though he had more votes than the other guy, that he still lost the election. ??? When this happened I really began to wonder just what was going on in America. At the time nobody really saw any difference between the candidates, and not too much was done to correct the voter fraud and questions surrounding the election. 8 years later and there is no doubt that the entire world would be a different place if (Nobel Prize winner) Al Gore would have been in the Oval Office instead of (can barely speak a sentence-stomp out the evil-doers) George "Dubbya" Bush.

The fear is that we may see a smiler event take place in less than a month. I believe that America wants a real change from the last 8 years of insanity and failure, I believe that only one of the two candidates is capable of making that change and that the other is just a cronie of the current administration. No one in this election year can say that there is little difference between the two candidates, and no one in America can ever again say that an election doesn't really matter. I am not trying to sway opinions here on which candidate is better, but I am saying that, never again, should we be lulled into inaction and complacency. Never again should we, as a nation, allow ourselves to be swayed by misinformation, patronizing politicians, or dirty politics. We cannot afford to be fooled by dirty tricks, slander or lies. Now, I am not trying to say that any one of the current candidates is engaged in this stuff, but I am saying that we need to make sure our votes get counted. That is what this process is all about.

Thomas Jefferson said that he had great faith in the people to lead and govern themselves. To vote for their future. AS LONG AS they were INFORMED CITIZENS. We cannot direct ourselves, cannot govern ourselves, cannot make a wise decision if we are not well informed, if we are mislead by mischaracterizations, lies, slander, spin media, or any of the like. Biased media is fine, as long as it admits it is biased, but this is another issue entirely. The point here is that we need to be well informed to make intelligent choices. Another way to say this is that stupid people should not be allowed to vote. Now the problem is that we cannot take away anyone's right to vote, so the only thing left to do to make sure that no stupid people are voting is to EDUCATE AND INFORM THEM. Lead a horse to water...hope it drinks.
The question here is, how do we inform everyone, if the media required to facilitate that education is not FREE?

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PSPP - Open Source Statistics (Moving Towards an Open Educational Experience)

Anybody out there who has ever had to analyze any statistical data in any serious way or take a class on stats has been introduced to the mighty SPSS , or Statistical Package for the Social Sciences in long form. This is software which was designed for, is standardized by, and expected for your use by the scientific community at large for statistical data analysis. It is required for use at many universities at both the undergraduate (poor college kid) level and the graduate (even poorer college young adult) level, and is not cheap in any way.

There is, however, a slightly crippled down version of the software offered to students, which is quite a bit cheaper than it's "full" version counterpart, and can typically be found for about $80 or $90. This can be a serious crunch to the hungry students budget, at least it is for mine. So I looked, and I found the wonderful PSPP, a very functional free and open source alternative for SPSS. It is good to see that the good people over at the Free Software Foundation understand that scientific knowledge should be free and open, and that educational tools should be as well. (Knowledge cannot be licensed out, nor can it be owned...ever.)

I have to pay for school, and then the wildly overpriced books (that the authors make very little on, despite the high price), and then again a piece of closed source software (the actual opposite to the ideal of the sharing of knowledge) as well. The educational experience needs to be based on the basic principal that knowledge is beyond ownership, that it is the right and requirement of every individual in a functioning society to have free and open access to the accumulated wisdom of the human race, and that any restriction of that based off of social or economic standing is simply saying that the poor of wallet are not worthy of this knowledge, that only the opulent or affluent are worthy or capable of doing anything worthwhile with this knowledge (to humanities benefit) in any way. This is not the case, we know this on an intuitive level, yet we cling to forced payment for knowledge, culture, paying for and restricting the use of basic scientific tools, and the tools used to manage knowledge and information. This seems backwards to me in the most fundamental way.

So, we have the organizations like the Free Software Foundation promoting and creating free and open software, like PSPP, and the good folks over at Creative Commons fighting for, developing and promoting the use of a sane copyright culture, and the good people at FreeCulture.org - Students For For Free Culture and on and on. Please pay attention to, and support these movements, they are the flagships of sanity in an insane copyright and knowledge-restriction based culture.

Now...back to PSPP...Briefly, it works very well, handling SPSS's native .sav files, and it does all you need to do for your familiar SPSS data analysis. It can be installed in Linux (I am currently running it on my Ubuntu machines, even on the tiny EeePc), on MacOS, and on Windows (from what I gather, anyway). One limitation I have found, it doesn't seem to put out the nice graphs that the latest SPSS version does, but it spits out all of the information you need quite nicely none the less. It also requires a little bit more to get installed, so...if you are running Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, and would like a nice SPSS replacement WITH A GRAPHICAL INTERFACE, then read on. If you want command line only, just install through apt or synaptic.

EDIT: PSPP with front end has been included in the Ubuntu Software Center since 12.04, and is currently on version 0.7.9 (under Ubuntu 14.04), whereas the GNU repository is currently showing version 0.8.5 as the latest.

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I DID IT!!! what? p90x BABY!!!

Two days ago I spent an hour doing a series of relaxing, rejuvenating stretches. Over the course of the last three months I have gotten to set aside on hour per week to doing that, one of the things that keep me looking forward each week. After spending an hour to an hour and a half each of the other six days of the week grinding my way through grueling and vigorous work out programs, that stretch comes with a real sigh of relief. Not only is it a great relaxation, but it is a great moment of pride and accomplishments, since it means I have put one of the 13 weeks of the work-out cycle behind me. But the stretch I did two days ago came with even a greater sense of relief and pride, since it marked the FINAL DAY, and hence completion of a full round of the P90X workout program!!!

I DID IT!!!

Yes, I know what you're thinking..."Is he, then, now ripped?" Well...I can say I lost (at last count over a week ago) 3 inches, and about 20 pounds, have gained A LOT of muscle mass, am stronger and more flexible now than I ever have been...and it feels GREAT! I am going to do another round...another 90 days, and this time I am going to post before and after pics at the end, along with detailed measurements. To be honest, I was too ashamed of myself to take the obligatory "before" pics 3 months ago, but now I really wish I had, because I know that the change is phenomenal just from the way that I feel when I wake up every day! THANK YOU Tony Horton!

One last thing that I want to say about this. I have struggled with weight since I was in the 4th grade. Going through periods of excessive gain, to periods of profound skinniness...the unhealthy toothpick variety, and back again. Like a pendulum. But I have never been strong like this. I have never before 1) been more confident in my ability to keep the inches off 2) been more confident in my ability to become stronger, leaner, and healthier, and 3) been more confident of the fact that, while I am not in absolute, optimal fitness and shape, I am EXACTLY where I aught to be, and I am pretty damn proud of myself.

See you in 90 days.

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Ubuntu 8.04 - Hardy Heron (with Netbook remix) on the EeePC 701 4G Surf (with touch screen)

So, as promised, here are the steps I took to get Ubuntu 8.04 - hardy Heron installed on my Asus EeePc 701 4G Surf. I will include BOTH the steps I took and, when applicable, popular alternate steps available. Also, I will include the steps required to get the "Kiddshop touchscreen (from Kiddshopp on ebay) working.

This is not a definitive How-To, it is just what I did, what I found to work. I encourage anyone who finds better ways, or finds a glaring mistake in to PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!
The contents of this post are pretty long, so use the "read more" link to go to the instructions.
That said...Here we go!

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Touchscreen, Ubuntu, The EeePC, and me...

Tonight I write from a stance of (near) total victory. This post is to mark the fact that I have accomplished installing and 'properly' configuring Ubuntu 8.04, code named Hardy Heron, on my EeePC with a fully functional, self installed touchscreen. I am using the Ubuntu "Netbook Remix", and it ROCKS the Touchscreen!!

Next, to install internal bluetooth and GPS (and hopefully a nice 16G usbflash!). These potenitial future mods are the reason for the "near" in "near victory".

I plan on writing up the steps I took, and comparing them against some of the (terrible) info out there after the 4th, which is today. Please check back for more!

Yay me.

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The return and conclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender

I just read that Nick's great cartoon 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' is coming back on Monday, July 14th for the season and series conclusion! See this awesome trailer, and be amazed...



Yes...I hope that the good folks at AvatarSpirit.net got their news right!

 

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My Entire Body Is Sore

Well, here I am, on the 16th day of training on the p90x fitness program (which I mentioned here a few weeks ago), and I still have not 1) died from exhaustion or 2) simply given up! That's right kiddies, I am working on my 3rd week of this pretty INTENSE fitness program, and even though my body is stiff and pained EVERY DAY, I am plodding along (even dieting to go with it). I am proud of my once chronically unfit self.

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His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama

When I heard about the Dalai Lama's scheduled visit to Ann Arbor (where i live), and the series of lectures he was scheduled to give, I was overfilled with joy. It has been 14 years since Tenzin Gyatso last visited Ann Arbor, I was not fortunate enough to have participated in that visit, and have been wondering for years if I would have the good fortune to ever see him speak. Especially with the recent violence and heat surrounding Buddhist monks in China. Today, that wonder was put to sleep at 10:00 am when, with pro-China protesters gathered outside, the Dalai Lama gave a lecture on Buddhist thought and values, and I was there.

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The challenge undertaken

So, I thought it worthwhile to mention that I have embarked on yet another journey. In a bold maneuver designed to take my life in a totally new and fresh direction I have decided to engage myself upon the worthy path of P90X!

That's right, I have gotten myself the Beachbody P90X fitness program, and at first glance, it's no joke. There are twelve different intense workouts that get all shuffled about, keeping you working (HARD) every single day. There is an incredibly detailed nutrition plan, and it leaves NO room for mistaking. This thing looks merciless, but I feel I'm up for the challenge.

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I went to see Obama!!

A little late to blog about it, but... I went to my very very first political rally! I feel so adult now. My wife, Mary, and I went to Toledo before the primary to be a part of a crowd of 10,000 to hear Obama give a speech. It was a record-breaking crowd, and the energy was akin to some crazy rock show or sporting event. I just want to put here, that Obama is one heck of a speaker: he sais exactly what I want to hear, he puts hope back in me that I can believe in and participate (in a way that makes a difference) in America, and makes me all warm and fuzzy.

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To blog or not to blog...

It's been all quiet on my blog for quite some time, so I thought I should make a post. I should blame school for this, but the fact of the matter is that I am just not so certain as to what direction to take this blog. I know I have the whole "technical progress" thing, which is fun, but doesn't fill what I am hungry for.

I do have my family, and ultra-personal things I could publish here, which I could do for hours, but I think I rather keep some things from the public arena. I also feel like I betray privacy when I get out to blog about my family. I suppose I am feeling out what I am comfortable publishing here on that level. I also feel there is only egotism involved in blogging about myself, and believe you me, my ego is pretty big as it is.
Socio-Political? This is easy. Almost toooooo easy. Seriously, who wants another rant-blog/opinion piece collection? I have some very strong opinions and ideas there, some bordering on the anarcho-communist, and some not quite so extreme. But I want to put out GOOD ideas, not just Angry ideas, and it seems that most political blogs are either angry or bereft with tunnel-vision. That is certainly not what I want to appear as. I think I might open up some forum space for that. I know there is ONE reader interested in that sort of EXCHANGE.

And here we have it, EXCHANGE. The platform I am using for this site is based off of communal exchange, community building, not just blogging or serving up the occasional media file. Exchange. This is what Drupal is good for. And I don't mean the blase` social networking sites like facebook or myspace. While they have their place, it seems that while they benefit from and, in a very nominal way enhance social bonds, they seem to me to be not much more than predatory spaces doing little more than exploiting existing social relationships and providing space for egocentrical expression without providing a means to, or encouraging the exchange of socially relevant content.

Let me explain that: social networking sites capitalize on pre-existing relationships and affiliations to build a user base. In essence they do nothing more than attempt to take the place of the "face" of the relationship, to become the channel in which the relationship is expressed without actually providing any new content. You see, it does nothing new and nothing more than attempt to exploit people's ego and egotism. While this is fine for them, and I am sure has its place...somewhere... What I would like to see, and would love to be a part of is something entirely different. Some thing which does not simply take advantage of existing networks, but promotes the formation of NEW networks based on the EXCHANGE of socially relevant, substance based CONTENT.

Another way to view these two differing ideas is to look at them as recipies which create similar dishes. In one, you start with pre-existing social networks, and you add an avenue of egocentric expression, and you get an online community. The other you start by promoting substance based content, provide an avenue of relating the content to other pieces of content, and you get a totally new community. Drupal is a brilliant platform for this. Community building based off of content, and the exchange of relevant content. Substance, not ego.

I think that is why it has been so quiet around here this month. I am looking to build a substance based site, with a focus on community and the exchange of relevant content. So I have been really muling over the direction I want. Really trying to keep things from being "all about me", and trying to brew up a good direction that still leaves the site open-ended enough to take on new avenues of thought and expression.

I want ideas to live and grow here, not just ego.

I could now go into a piece about how I think that the contrast between substance and ego is the very thing that is spurring degradation of our culture, our politics and our lives in general...but I will not. I will, perhaps, work on that as an opinion piece, and give it its own little place to live. I will leave it at that for now.

So, it seems as if the content here, is the concept of content itself. H'm. Content based content. Stop. In the end all things degrade down into nothingness. So, in the spirit of the totally confusing nature of thing/nothingness, I now have a blog/site which is content based in its intent, but has absolutely no direction for that content. In other words, it is a site for substantial ideas, not egos...but it is about nothing in particular and is totally fine with a purely egocentric expression, just so long as the egotism comes after the substance in the content, and doesn't try to create substance in order to validate the ego into content. Well, it makes sense to me...

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I've been hit!!!

LATVIA! Yes, you know who you are!

195.2.114.31

62.85.45.65

These guys keep hitting my guestbook with all sorts of spam, so I thought I would publish their Latvian ip addresses, and the fact that they use (check this out) windows 95!! Yeah...somehow being spammed from a Win95 box is sexy...and dirty...and...I think I need a shower.
That clinches it, I am now a REAL site, being discovered and hit by some spammer in Latvia...yes, this solidifies me, this makes me real.

UPDATE: I am now using the excellent troll and captcha modules to prevent spam and ban users i don't like :) too bad those fellows from Latvia won't be able to see the news!!!

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