1999 Roadtrip Journal

I was doing some computer housekeeping and stumbled across a journal I took on a family road trip in 1999, so I imported that here and you can read through what a month long family trip was like for me 10 years ago. Even though I was an angsty teenager, I only had to edit 1 sentence from the 24 days of material. It looks like I gave up towards the end of the trip and stopped writing, but you can see a pretty big list of the places we went to, and how frustrated I was with my younger brother about pretty inconsequential things.

After reading all of it, I wish I'd done a better job writing things down, and I wish that I wrote down anything on other trips! Maybe there are some pieces of paper with handwritten things somewhere hiding at my parents house... Just going back through these brief journal entries, mostly devoted to what we ate and where we went, reminded me of how cool some of the experiences I had really were. They also show how consistent I've been about some things:

  • No seafood
  • Lots of bacon
  • Riding bikes
  • Taking pictures

Read on for the links to the pages.

jQuery tinkering

If you take a look at my website portfolio and read the details, you'll see that I've been all over the place as far as technologies go. HTML, JavaScript, CSS, PHP, Drupal, Wordpress, AJAX, etc. Some things aren't mentioned on there that probably should be (Like the Faster Mustache Racetracker which used a lot of YUI, Google Maps, and KML things), and some things that I've done for various work things aren't on here, but theres been a lot of YUI over the past 6 months.

For the last year or so, I've been hearing a bit about jQuery but never really looked into it until Gallery decided that it would be the JavaScript toolkit in Gallery 3. Whatever I tried to do first with it was a complete failure, but in the relatively small amount of time I've been playing with it, I've figured out some pretty neat things and realized how truly easy it is to use jQuery instead of YUI (or even just basic JavaScript) for a lot of things.

The first example of jQuery I used on a production site it ithought's new website. Creating browser-compatible drop-down menus used to be quite a bit of work with CSS and JavaScript that relied on csshover.htc for IE support, but it's just a few lines of jQuery. Dynamically loading content used to require a lot of YUI code (see their example but it's just a little simpler with jQuery:


That's it! That one line of jquery uses AJAX to grab /status.php off the server and load it into the div with the id "status". Awesome. Several million lines of JavaScript (like I used for the original collegemedium.com which is no longer there), compressed to ~40 lines of YUI that I used on the FM Racetracker, all compressed down to 1 line of jQuery. That seemed pretty easy, so I researched around to figure out what else I could do.

My friend Kurt helped me out by doing all of the design work for www.ithought.org which launched in mid-December, so January was my turn to help him out with his new website: www.krautstache.com. Given that he's a great designer and could use a spiffy website, and seeing how easy jQuery was to use, I set out implementing his design for his site, but added in a little extra. The hover actions on the front page are basic jQuery, the contact lightbox uses UI:Dialog, the slide animation between pages uses jFlow, the portfolio lightboxes use jQuery LightBox, and little bits and pieces of jQuery hold the rest of it together. Even though some of the lightbox code is a bit over my head (which prevented me from fine tuning a few things as I would have liked), it came together pretty well and he's happy with it.

I'm already using jQuery for a project at work that previously would have been done in YUI, and it's already coming together a lot faster than I'd expected, and I've found a few more plugins that is making this project look good and function effectively: dropshadow and quickSearch. If you're building a website for anything, I highly recommend you give jQuery a look! Give it a few hours, and it will save you countless hours of time on the first project you use it on.

Snake Creek Gap Time Trial Series #1

Snake Creek TT 14 mile route

I've known for a while that some FM:Race people were signed up to do the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial Series but I didn't decide until late last night that I would race too... today! I signed up online last night, figured out carpooling, and got about 5 hours of sleep before my first mountain bike race of 2009 (and my first mountain bike race since 24 Hours of Adrenalin at Conyers in 2005 which was my first mountain bike race ever). Last year, FM:Race cleaned up most of the Under-35 17 mile category in this series with 9 out of the top 11 placings (2008 results) so Christopher, Aaron, Eric N, and Emily did the 34 mile route this year while Bob, Eric B, and I took over the 17 mile.

The forecast called for rain, but it was really more like being inside a cloud the whole time. You can see what this was like here. Official start time for the 14milers was 10am and my spot in line ended up being at about 10:20am. I was right behind Bob but passed him pretty quickly on the first climb thanks to my granny gear because he was riding the course on a single-speed. Over the next few hours, I passed a good number of people and got passed by a few people. As the minutes ticked by, things got more and more spread out and by the second half of the course, I almost never saw anyone in front of me or behind me. This was nice when I was cursing out loud while walking up steep hills after bashing my shins on crazy piles of rocks that seemed to make up the majority of some miles. My legs don't look as damaged as I think they should!

This course, part of the Pinhoti trail (Snake Creek Gap to Dug Gap), was by far the most technical mountain biking I've ever done: miles and miles of rock gardens, super sketchy descents covered in wet leaves and mud, and steep long uphills that many say are unrideable. This was definitely the most walking I've ever done mountain biking anywhere and the rocks, descents, and climbs all outdid the previous personal "most" for me: Porcupine Rim in Moab, Utah. For both the conditions (riding inside a gross muddy cloud) and the terrain, this trail is not one that I would do for fun because it's mostly painful with few rewards. On a nice sunny and clear 60F day, the view would be nice, but still might not be worth it!

My official time was 2:40:56 which is a bit longer than FM:Race was doing last year, but everyone agreed that the conditions slowed things down a lot. We'll see how I stack up against my category when they put all the results online. Even though I looked alright after finishing, according to my heart rate monitor I averaged 90% intensity on this and "only" managed to average 6.3MPH with that. Ouch! Regardless, I'm pretty happy with how I did, and it's a good way to start off a year of riding. My muscles are feeling pretty good and I think it's mostly the added difficulty that the wetness gave the technical sections (the entire course) that slowed me down. I'll miss the February stage of this series due to work travel, but should be able to do the March one and go significantly faster if it's not muddy-cloudy.

Here's what the hills were like:

And here are some more pictures.

EDIT: Results are in, I was 4th out of 12 and would have been 3rd if I shaved 1 minute off my time!

EDIT2: The pictures are starting to show up online too. Here is me in one of the many rock gardens. (Thankfully they didn't post the picture of me falling ~20ft back or so!). More details also now up at http://fastermustache.org/node/6040.

EDIT3: more me pics

Biking year in review for 2008

2008 was a pretty good year of riding for me. My commute to work/school ended in December 2007 when I finished up Georgia Tech and started working from home, so I had no need to bike anywhere anymore. In January I posted a ride log here and said I would keep doing that, but by February I was using the ride log at singletracks.com to keep track of my mileage. Due to this, my numbers are a little off since they don't include January, but are close enough for me. Here's the totals grouped by kind of riding:

  • Road: 101 rides, 2531 miles, 6 days 20 hours 31 minutes riding, 15.4 MPH average
  • Casual: 85 rides, 440 miles, 1 day 10 hours 59 minutes riding, 12.6 MPH average
  • Trainer: 39 rides, 834 miles, 1 day 13 hours 28 minutes riding, 22.3 MPH average
  • Mountain Biking: 27 rides, 308 miles, 1 day 14 hours 13 minutes riding, 8.1 MPH average
  • Track: 7 rides, 116 miles, 6 hours 14 minutes riding, 18.7 MPH average speed

All the trainer time was in the few months following my broken collarbone at the end of March, and the road riding picked up after that in May with the new road bike. Given those, 4229 miles total on 259 rides in 11 days 17 hours 26 minutes isn't bad and is a little over 3.2% of the year. Also, my average cadence on road rides has slowly moved from 76ish to 82ish, and the fastest I went on a bike this year was 46.62MPH. As for equipment, the breakdown is:

  • Redline 925: 1480.36 miles (~800 of this was on the trainer)
  • Fuji Track Pro: 171.65 miles
  • Gary Fisher Cake 4 DLX: 311.25 miles
  • Specialized Roubaix Comp Compact: 2246.95 miles

In 2008 I definitely got plenty of usage of my Redline and Specialized, and have probably gotten enough usage out of my Gary Fisher since I've had it for a few years now, but the Fuji definitely needs more track time in 2009. No complains about any of my equipment yet! The only repairs have been pretty minimal: replacing worn chain on the mountain bike, replacing worn out tires on the road bike, replacing the rear dérailleur on the mountain bike after a tree ate the old one, and the most costly one is replacing the left shifter/brake lever on the road bike after 2 falls rendered it inoperable in a very strange way. The parts for that hopefully will show up tomorrow morning.

For 2009, I'm planning on riding at least 5200 miles but should be able to do more than that. Given my usual schedule of 2 hour rides 4 days a week and 3 hour rides twice a week, 700 hours (almost 8% of the year)shouldn't be too unreasonable, and theres a possibility of hitting 10,000 miles if things go as planned! I'm not too concerned about how far I end up going, and while 10k miles would be pretty neat, I'll be happy just spending a lot more time at the track and a lot more time in the mountains. I already have replacement tires for the mountain bike as the back one is getting pretty slick, and a new cassette and chain are waiting on the road bike to hit 3000 miles. Maybe I'll post a monthly update here?

Out with 2008, in with 2009!

2008 ended with me watching Georgia Tech get completely obliterated by LSU at the Chic-Fil-A Bowl, but at least I had the new mini-camera that San gave me for Christmas to take some pictures. We made the best of it by joining the crowd in making paper airplanes and throwing them onto the field, and afterwards I met up with San at a party in Decatur to ring in the new year. Looking back over 2008, things were pretty good:

  • 35,924 visits to ckdake.com
  • 133,083 visits to fastermustache.org
  • I uploaded 2353 photos to my photo gallery
  • Saved/Invested 12% of my post-tax income
  • Doubled ithought revenue over 2007 and invested in new hardware that should keep my new hardware costs in 2009 pretty minimal
  • Finished 1 year working for SugarCRM and did a lot of really neat things. Much more neat things are planned for 2009!
  • First whole year living in the house I own.
  • Second trip to Europe
  • Thanks to work travel, got Silver Medallion at Delta, and Silver VIP at Hilton.
  • Got organized (see this for starts). Keeping up with things and what I need to do is now easy and doesn't get in the way

2008 was also my first real "year of the bicycle". I've been riding bikes for a long time including bike commuting, mountain biking, etc, but this year was a big step:

2009 is looking like it's going to be even better, and I have a list of things that I would like to see happen this year. I'd call them new years resolutions, but I'm on track to do all of these already and they're based on last year, so they are more like predictions than unrealistic goals! Heres the current list:

  • double ithought revenue again
  • save 15% of my post-tax income
  • develop a RAW workflow for DSLR and stop shooting JPG
  • eat more protein and fiber, and less saturated fat
  • keep better track of nutrition/exercise/health (got a new scale and a blood pressure monitor for Christmas)
  • Race at the velodrome and in the mountains with FM:Race
  • Go on a week long mountain biking vacation
  • Mountain bike at 10 places I've never mountain biked at before
  • Ride 1000 more miles than 2008
  • Continue getting rid of things that I don't use.
  • Finish getting furniture for my house: bed, a few small tables, new filing cabinet
  • Do a few house projects like fixing some things in the back yard, re-doing lighting in the living room, installing closet shelving

So This Is Christmas

Another year, another Christmas. Monday evening was spent at my Mom's parents with a bunch of cousins, Tuesday was dinner at my Parent's house with San, my brother, and Jenny, Wednesday was dinner out with San's mom and some of her relatives, and today San and I just took it easy, had Chinese food for dinner, and watched Day One (which is definitely worth a watch if you're into history or the whole Nuclear thing at all). I got in a long road ride yesterday to and around Stone Mountain, and today finally biked up from home to the start of the Silver Comet. Riding back from there, I stumbled across Glock USA, a neat wooden section of the PATH that I didn't know existed, and a view of downtown and midtown that I hadn't seen before.

As for the spoils of Christmas, it was a pretty low key year which is a good thing because there's just not a whole lot of things I need! Among the assortment of snacks, books, movies, and bike tools, there were a handful of surprises including 2 of a bike tool that I needed two of :). My parents gave me some furniture for the back yard a few weeks ago, and the biggest surprise was a Canon SD1100 camera from San. I've got plenty of huge camera things (specifically a 40D with all the fixins), but my mountain biking pictures from the iPhone often leave a bit to be desired (ex: here). So hopefully lots more pictures from places where the big camera is just too big! I'm also looking forward to putting CHDK on it and seeing what all it can do.

On the giving side of things, I did get some things for other people:

  • my dad got a Harmony One Remote
  • my mom got a gift certificate to go scuba diving with the whales at the Georgia Aquarium
  • San got tickets to see Cirque du Soleil's Kooza in Atlanta in January (and a handful of other things)
  • my brother and Jenny got a Wii Guitar Hero controller, some CDs, and a Mini Gorillapod

And in other news, there's a lot of exciting hardware stuff now installed for ithought.org and I'm wrapping up my first year at SugarCRM, but more on those after some more enjoying the 5-day weekend.