I lied.I still won’t spoil the ending though. Compared to the lame way in which “The Sopranos” limped to its conclusion Ms. Rowling deserves full kudos for wrapping up her series with some dignity.I had also thought I’d be the first person to ever tie the ending of Harry Potter to Tony Soprano but nope, Newsweek had an article on this already. Of course the article is pretty poor.

Savoring “the last book”

No warnings here, I will not spoil the final Harry Potter book for anyone else.But boy oh boy am I enjoying this, the final book in the series. Unlike other series I have read in which I simply slogged dutifully through them all (hello Robert Jordan?) this series has simply gotten better and better with each book. I remember reading the first three Potter books when we got a box-set for L. No big deal. Sure, it was cute. But not great. But then Book 4 came out and I was hooked. What is so enjoyable about J.K. Rowling is she has clearly worked to improve her craft over the years.Unlike books 5 & 6 I am not devouring this one. I am savoring it. I am trying to limit myself to one or two chapters each day. I know there are no more coming. Sure, I am drawn to pull an all-nighter and plow through but no, resist! it will be okay and I can just let this one run on and on.And speaking of spoilers… I am so grateful that no one has spilled the beans yet as to the ending in the mainstream media. I would love to ascribe this to good sense but I suspect it derives more truthfully from not wanting to cause a riot. My wife went to the local bookstore, a modest place, on the night the book went on sale and there were easily 300 people there she said. If that was repeated across the country (the world?) this is a series phenomena and a shared meme that won’t come too many times in my lifetime.

Conway’s Law

I came across Conway’s Law on a blog post from Global Nerdy. The law says “any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it. This cracked me up for some obvious reasons.

Conway’s Law – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Update July 23rd: amazingly enough I had Conway’s Law quoted to me in a meeting today! Someone just mentioned that during a recent re-org they could have sliced-and-diced the organization all sorts of ways but since they had four managers they decided on four groups and that led to an architecture with four components. Amazing.


Chafing and sunscreen

One of the things I write about a lot in my near-book “Accidental Ironman” is chafing. As an endurance athlete sooner or later you will chafe. Accept this. Learn to combat chafing with synthetic fabrics and lubricants but know that it will happen. When it does…We were out riding one day several years ago. My friend Mike was suffering a little from his saddle. We stopped to change a flat tube and Mike asked if anyone had any butter. Butter is a keyword for Chamois Butt’r, a lovely lubricant for cycling (works well for running too by the way). Nope, no one had thought to grab a ziploc full or one of the small disposable tubes they sell at fine bike shops. So Mike grabbed some sunscreen and applied that.Now Mike is a tough guy. It would be gently snowing or sleeting and he’d ride with no gloves. But man, when that sunscreen hit chafed flesh he let out a yelp and just started dancing around in agony. While I managed a good laugh out of it (seriously, watching a buddy jumping around in prissy cycling shoes yelling “get it off” is one of nature’s rare treats) I have always remembered this and learned that it’s better just to tolerate the chafe than to apply sunscreen. Continue reading

Training tips (they never tell you about)

Accidental Ironman

At one point I wrote 20% of a book about training for an Ironman triathlon. I liked the name, Accidental Ironman and even bought a web site to host it. Of course I never really went anywhere with it. That said… over the years I have learned some things about training for an event. Sure, sure, there are tons of sites out there with this information. The difference: I am not an athlete. I am a normal guy who has managed somehow to push myself over the finish line. I will try to keep track of more of these, but here is a brain dump from the book.Training tips (they never tell you about)Over the years of training I have gained some knowledge and a tiny bit of wisdom. Like many new athletes I have read magazines and books. I have talked with running and cycling shop owners. I have talked with other athletes. There is a lot of lore out there that people forget about or are too polite to talk about. Here is a brief look at some of the things I have learned over the years.Chafing is badNo one tells you this before you start jogging. You go for a one mile run. Maybe you run two miles. But sooner or later, at some distance, you will get chafed. It happens in different places to different people. I tend towards inner thigh chafing. I have seen other people with underarm chafing.What’s a little chafing? It’s not like you’re actually bleeding, right? Sort of. Imagine walking several miles with sandpaper in your shorts. While the pain starts small after a short time you will do anything to avoid you skin touching anything.You can avoid chafing to some degree by wearing the right clothes. You can also use lubricants but they all suffer in one way or another. For instance petroleum jelly is great, it rarely rubs off and doesn’t smell. It will stain your clothes though; it can be tough to explain why your shorts always have “wet spots”.Nipples are the worstOf all forms of chafing, nipple chafing is the worst. You need to run further to get chafed nipples. It can help to wear cotton if you want to try this out. Rain or excessive sweating can bring this nightmare on.The first time this happens it’s no big deal, you can feel a little chafing on your chest. No problem. You get home, jump in the shower, and… SCREAM! And I mean scream. The water hits your chest and the pain is excruciating. Wow.The second time this happens you’re nervous. You know to dread the shower, but you’re several miles from home. Weird, why are these passersby all looking at me? What’s that? I have blood all over my shirt? Oh dear lord, I’ve managed to saw off my nipples! The pain in the shower is bad, the fact that your nipple scabs stick to your shirt is worse.Running in the rainThere are few things as mixed as running in the rain. You can count on your feet getting wet. They sell gore-tex socks, I can’t imagine they can hold up to the abuse of running. One of the first lessons in running is that synthetic socks are essential. Cotton gets wet and will cause blisters. You simply need a decent running sock.Legs are easy; they don’t tend to get cold so you can where a variety of clothing. Headgear is essential to keep the pattering drops from driving you crazy. Gloves are nice if it’s really cold.The hardest decision is what to wear on the torso. Sure, you need a shirt. But the key question, do you wear a rain jacket or not? I have yet to find any rain jacket that doesn’t get soaked one way or the other. Either it isn’t water-proof so it fails that way or it is water-proof and the sweat collects and soaks you that way. Sort of a “you-pick ’em”But running in the rain is nice too. You don’t tend to overheat. Most people like to stay home so you have the roads to yourself.Running with a dogWe have a Labrador mutt. He always wanted to run. Unfortunately Bricin has an aggression problem; anything on four legs is an enemy to be killed. When we picked him up from the shelter we figured we’d cure him, we were nice people. Nope, the stupid dog never did learn to relax. Most of the time he was a good running companion. He was always eager to go. Some mornings I’d run with him for 8 miles and then Susan would run with him for another 6.It was a challenge though. When Bricin saw any other creature he’d ferociously go after it. If you had the leash on your hand or arm, you’d dislocate it as he yanked. I finally learned to tie the leash around my waist. He could still pull me out of my path but my 200 pounds was too much for his 85.Synthetic fabric is kingSynthetic fabric is key — inevitably when you start running you will pull on some old gym shorts, maybe a t-shirt, and an old pair of shoes that you bought because they looked cool. That works okay if you’re either young enough that none of your body parts flaps around or if you simply aren’t going very far.But beyond a certain distance cotton will cause chafing. You won’t notice at first. Maybe you’ll feel the skin around your arms getting a little rubbed, but you’ll keep running. Finally you’ll feel the sweat hitting the raw abrasion and ouch, it’s too late, you’re chafed. This can also happen with thighs rubbing together. And it can hit in your crotch-related-areas. Let me tell you from loads of experience that there is nothing worse than being several miles from home and suddenly realizing that if you never rub your legs together again it will too soon. Now you need to effect a splayed-leg wobble all the way home.Perhaps the worst chafing you can experience is while running in the rain. This doesn’t seem to affect women often, but men, after having their soaking shirts move around for enough time, will effectively saw their nipples off.Like sun screen on chafed flesh, you can make nipple-bleed even worse. Often the bleeding isn’t that bad and in the fog of pain from a long run you can miss it entirely. But then you step into the shower and “oh god oh god, get that off me, oh f*ck”. You cannot turn the water off quickly enough. You learn that Vaseline is a good thing. After that you learn that Vaseline leaves two grease marks on shirts so all of the shirts you’re wearing look like you’ve been breast-feeding.Car drivers are idiots — you soon learn that all drivers are fools and when they’re not fools they are knaves. Cars are the enemy. Living in Seattle it’s better than many places as it’s a fairly pedestrian-friendly town. Nevertheless I have lost count of the number of hostile drivers I have encountered. This includes people who honk when you’re crossing the street. It includes people who get angry because you’re in the cross-walk with the signal being “Walk”. It includes the people who yell out of their windows for no apparent reason.The jerks are a minority. The vast majority of drivers are simply clueless. They never stop at stop lines, they barrel through to the corner because, well, no one should be walking on the sidewalk, right? And if the driver is turning right and therefore looking left at oncoming traffic why would you ever think to look right? Probably no runner there, or no woman pushing a baby-stroller. Nope, just barrel on through.You can of course turn a clueless idiot into a jerk by having the temerity to shout at them. Or kick their car. Or throw pebbles onto their windshields. I don’t recommend this by the way, I’ve been told numerous times that someone is going to take offense sometime. True enough. But damn, where did these people learn to drive? I’ve had cars cut me off, then flip me off when I yelled, all in front of a police officer who stood by and did nothing.They tell you to run defensively, to assume that the driver never sees you. That’s wrong. Pretend that the driver does see you and is actively trying to hit you. That tends to be true more often than not.Talking the TalkOne odd part about becoming an endurance athlete is talking with others of your ilk. Earlier in life I can’t imagine talking to someone about the state of my intestines while on a run. I couldn’t talk about what foods I ate in the morning to make sure I could survive the entire run. But suddenly, after protecting your bathroom habits your whole life