Monday, September 30, 2013

Tough Mudder 2013

I did the Tough Mudder in Tahoe this past weekend. And it was awesome. I actually did a lot of preparation for it, and i wanted to keep a note of all the things that worked and all the things that would be good for the next time.

First, a quick summary of the weekend. We drove from San Francisco on Friday, and the drive was about 3.5 hours. We actually first had dinner at Dennis's house and ate a delicious spaghetti dinner to carb load, and to avoid the traffic. We left the house at 7:50, hit minor traffic through Oakland but nothing at a standstill, and grabbed more food at Chik-fil-a along the way. We got in between 11 and 11:30.

Our start time was 8 AM, and in the morning it was about 25 degrees F. We decided to do a late start time, and a quick look indicates that nobody cares if people are on their start time or not. We ended up getting to the registration around 10, and probably started at 11 after all the bag checks, bathroom breaks, and just getting the team together. By then, it was warm enough to not have a large layer over the dryfit stuff.

We finished around 4 pm, which is a surprisingly long amount of time. Probably due to having a larger group, we had longer waits for the team, and also there were significant waits at each obstacle. The course was supposedly 12 miles long, with about 12 obstacles. There were water, banana and clif bloks stations every once in a while. At the end, there is a water/clif bar/beer station, space blankets, and a rinse station.

So my preparation list todo for the weekend:

Hydrate. Before the race, before the race day. During practice runs, I got headaches, probably from being tired and dehydrated. I hydrated by drinking a good amount of water the night before, and also brought a water pack, so I was drinking a bit between the stations. My teammates who were very hydrated actually had to run into the woods for breaks a lot, and I didn't get to that point. I'm sure the cramps would have been way worse if I hadn't.

Poop. My big fear was having to hold it in for 5 miles, so I tried my hardest to get rid of everything inside me the morning of. Unfortunately that wasn't super easy, but it was done. The night after the race, we ate about 2 lbs of steak each, and a ton of potatoes and ice cream. And beer and whiskey. And I had no trouble for the next two days.

Bananas. I brought two bananas with me to the trip but left one in the cabin. I could have carried them in my pack without feeling it. I ended up eating three bananas on the run from the food stations. I could have had a lot more. There are plenty of signs at the hydration stations that say "hydrate. when you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated." I think it's the same with bananas and potassium and cramping.

Gatorade in the water pack. Actually my gatorade spilled out after the first refill of water. And the trip is so long that unless you have small individual gatorade powder packs, it's not really going to do you any good.

Things that my teammates brought that ended up really useful:

Sunscreen. My lips were chapped and a bit burnt at the end. Fortunately my face wasn't.

Ibuprofen. I took two before the race, and I'm pretty sure that kept a lot of soreness and knee pain away. I don't think taking more would hurt.

Woolen stuff. Along with dry fit tops, I think real woolen socks would have been useful. I had some thick wintery socks that took in water and held on to it. I had to wring them out several times. And it wasn't too cold later on, but I think having some sort of woolen shirt would have been good.

My gear that really worked:

Long leggings. My teammates got leg muscle cramps from the cold. Especially since swim trucks stayed wet and cold over the thighs. Having leggings helped the legs stay a bit warmer, but would also dry. It also hurt less when crawling over mud and rocks.

Patella bands for the knees. They kept my knees together. Also, acted as knee guards while crawling over mud and rocks.

Two dryfit tops. I could switch between the wet one and slightly less wet one. I'd wear the wet one on my waist to let it dry while i ran. Also, the black one absorbed sun a lot better.

Running bag. I carried gels, a water pack, dryish clothes in them. I put the tag on the bag so I could easily switch shirts. The bag also kept the contents somewhat dry, because my back would be right above the water line most of the time. But nothing inside should be not waterproof.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bottom Bracket Retool

I recently got a year membership to Bike Kitchen in San Francisco. That basically means I can work three hours a night for one or two nights a week on my bike. I also purchased digging rights, which means I can build a complete bike from their spare bike parts. All costs are already included. The folks there are pretty helpful, some more so than others, but overall, once you start to understand the layout of the tools and what you're allowed to do, and a little bit of etiquette, and also once you have an idea of what the hell you're doing, it's the same as settling down and just getting work on the bike done for hours.

After I chose a nice 52" Bridgestone bike frame from their spare project frames, I decided the first thing I could do was to fix the bottom bracket. (Actually I spent some time last week messing with getting wheels and playing with the handlebars, but nothing real got done.) The frame I chose had the crank and pedals removed already, and only the bottom bracket with the nuts were still on.

1. Remove the bottom bracket. There should either be places for a wrench, or little notches on the sides. One side should have a lock ring. Also see Sheldon Brown's website, although I found it much easier to understand after actually working on one.

2. Clean off the grease, and remove the bearings. There were 11 bearings in each of my cups but i'm not sure if that was the original number, but they fit fine. The grease came out with a lot of simple green and scrubbing, then i dried it off and sprayed some silicone lubricant over it (wd-40 would work too.)

3. One of the volunteer mechanics told me, you can never have too much grease. So I filled the cup with grease. Also grease up the threads in the bracket.

4. Thread the cup back in. One side is fixed and threads all the way in until it is flush. The other side will thread in after the axle is inserted, and can be adjustable so the bearings aren't too tight and the axle doesn't wiggle.

5. Put the axle in, and thread the other cup in. The drive side (right pedal) of the axle should be longer than the other side. 

6. The other side is adjustable. The lock ring goes over the left side (non drive side). The cup is adjusted so that the axle still turns smoothly, but doesn't have any wiggle room side to side.

7. Here is the tool used to adjust it.

8. Here is the lock ring that prevents further turning of the cup.

9. The crank took is used to tighten the nuts of the cranks. The cranks will have square holes for this setup, and some have splines instead. To remove the crank, a crank puller is needed because the crank is pushed really tightly onto the axle.

10. The final result. Cleaned bottom bracket, new grease for old bearings, and attached cranks.

Leg day

I'm on a quest to increase my vertical. After a few weeks of on and off leg work plus taekwondo training, I'm going to try to start being more methodical about it. Mainly, I want to measure my vertical every Monday. My 3 month goal is to gain 6 inches, to hit 24 inches on Aug 13. (Not sure if those are realistic numbers.)

My routine, which I've been doing once a week:

1:30 continuous, 30 seconds rest, 2 sets
Box squats with bar (20 lbs on either side, 25 lbs on either side)
Lunges with bar (20 lbs on either side, 25 lbs on either side)
Single leg deadlift with bar (10 lbs on either side, 10 lbs)
Kneeups with bar on shoulder (just the bar)

Band jump
Platform step up with dumbells (20 lb dumbells)
Single leg squat with dumbells (20 lb dumbells)

Vertical Measurements
5/13/2013 19"

Friday, September 21, 2012

pin up duckface

i get it. duckface is just a modern bastardization of classic pin up art pouts.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Hi, and welcome to my blog post about a little side project I created for the iPhone called LazyAlarm. To get technical support and see the FAQ, scroll to the bottom of this blog post or email me at The app in the iTunes store is

LazyAlarm is a simple alarm clock tool where you can basically toggle between two alarm settings: LAZY or NOT LAZY. You do have to set two alarms, but other than that there's just a large red switch that you use to tell the alarm that you have decided to be lazy and sleep in, or not.

The idea stemmed from when I used to work at a job where there was a shuttle service. Unfortunately the shuttle came every two hours because the commute was about an hour away. So the options for getting up and catching the shuttle would either be at 7:30 or 9:30. And sometimes, when I was really bad, I would miss the 10 AM shuttle and be super lazy. These things happened often enough that I wanted to be able to switch between 7:30 and 9:30 by only smashing my thumb on the phone interface, instead of actually having to go to alarm settings, turn one on and the other off, etc.

LazyAlarm v1.0 is a really simple, perhaps buggy product that I built just to see how fast I can create a simple iOS app, and see how the submission process and sales process in the Apple store works. There are a few shortcomings that I'm trying to fix in the next release. One, the alarm settings don't automatically renew each day. So the switch is only really efficient if you change your mind in the middle of the night, but each day you'll have to set it again. Two, the app doesn't allow custom alarm alarm sounds yet, or repeating alarm sounds or snooze. Three, for my own benefit, there are no analytics or feedback. That means it's hard for me to understand what my users are doing in the app and whether the interface is confusing.

FAQ/Instructions for LazyAlarm

Q: How do I set an alarm?
A: Click on the info (i) button on the bottom right. To set an alarm for either the Normal or Lazy modes, you have to change the time settings when you are under the Normal or Lazy mode by clicking on the selector. As soon as you move the time selector, the alarm will be set. Clicking done simply goes back.

Q: How do I know if I'm on the Lazy or Normal mode:
A: The big red letters that say YES or NO is the answer to the question/statement "I want to be lazy today." When it says YES, the alarm you set for Lazy will go off. When it says NO, the alarm for Normal will go off.

Q: How come it says "No alarm currently set!" or "No alarm currently set for sleeping in!"?
A: You have to set an alarm each day (after the last set alarm goes off) by clicking on the info (i) button.

Q: How do I set a snooze or repeat alarm?
A: You can't in this version...I blame Apple. But it should be in future upgrades.

Q: How do I disable my alarm if I set both alarms already?
A: When you set the Lazy mode for the alarm, there is a switch that turns it on or off. If this is set to off, then the Lazy mode becomes super lazy mode, ie No Alarm.

Q: How do I send more feedback or ask more specific questions, or send hate for this buggy app?
A: Email me at

Sunday, June 24, 2012

if you need motivation guy skydiving has an accident with the chute and lands breaking his neck. he's a parapalegic now but still making the most of life. the last seconds of the video are pretty scary, probably as close to death you'll come. so why not go and do something with your life?

Friday, May 4, 2012

good bye and thanks for all the tisch

techstars demo day was yesterday and it basically ended techstars 2012 with a bang. (btw tisch refers to dave tisch of techstars new york and though i don't really know him or see him around ts boston, his name rhymes with fish.) it ended as an overall amazing event. aside from every company being super cool, and doing great on their demo day pitches though i didn't get to see most of them, it was a great way to bring together everything i am involved with. and i guess in a way it allowed me to define myself in the techstars context and also let techstars know who i am. part of what annoyed me before was that i was getting lost. and having random people i don't know come up to me saying that i did great at the demo was very rewarding. kind of like, techstars wasn't for nothing. we did a taekwondo demo at demo day. of course, it's not really what i wanted recognition for at TS primarily. but in the end, when someone comes up to me because they recognized me from the tkd demo, they would then also ask, "so what do you work on at techstars? you're the Stix guy too right?" and like Stix, it's the initial recognition and conversation starter that can really lead to places. sure, people know me as the tkd guy from techstars (or, some people use the misnomer ninja). but maybe it's not so bad to mix a bit of work and play. i started collecting and giving out business cards. throughout the day I had none of my own, and only gave out dan's tbos cards and will's Neroh/Stix cards. But i'm finding meaning in receiving cards. it used to be that the cards i'd get were those of a lawyer, or recruiter in college, or some other meaningless exchange of information, but it seems that every card i get now is meant for me. and it's kind of cool. miro of testive found me in the locker room after the tkd demo. he said that "you looked good, and you made us all look better." that really hit a chord with me. more than anything i want to contribute to the success of all our techstars companies. so if they're looking for an ios guy, that's what i'm there for. but it seems that taekwondo, which i've done for 10 years plus and has contributed to my life and other people's lives in many ways, can also contribute in a way i didn't really plan on. so if it helps my colleagues by entertaining investors and getting them pumped up, i'm glad to have done the demo. after the big event we all went and celebrated first at estate for happy hour, then at royale for the official party, then jacob wirth for the ts only after party. needless to say the vibe was actually great at royale. it was an interesting mix of techstars people (ie familiar faces, people comfortable to be around because they're in some way techie and not stuck up), and a great party vibe. and lots of drunkenness. and today waking up was strange because my basement window was curtained off so it seemed like still the night even at noon. and it was gloomy outside, and my head wasn't feeling well so there was no reason to crawl back out into the day. but when i made it into the office again, everyone was there, moving along as usual, still pushing forward. but no huge burden looming over any of our heads. and though i was officially done with techstars, it still felt like we had things to do there. unlike the usual graduation, we'll still see each other for a while longer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

stropping a razor

I learned to strop today. actually it was much easier than i thought. the straight razor i started to use has begun to pull so i finally ponied up the $35 for a leather and canvas strop. then i was afraid that either i'd wear down the blade or wear down the canvas if i did it wrong.

turns out a little stropping does a lot. it was probably the quickest and cleanest shave i've had in a month (during which time i've probably shaved 3 times, let's be honest.) but also, it's been a while since i cut myself because the blade was so dull. this time i didn't even know i had been knicked until i started bleeding through a tiny cut...that's how sharp the knife became.

something about stropping is deeply satisfying, just like shaving with a straight razor. there's something about making a tool do what it's supposed to do, and making it better at the job.