strumzilla

​A blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Running

Get to Know Your Camera!!

Here’s a short experiment with my new XT-3 and slider. I’m trying out a variety of shots and angles to add interest. No real B-roll in this video, that’s for future projects. This is a means to practice for future music videos and silly bits. I find the only way to really learn something is to do it, make mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes for future projects.

For bored camera/video geeks only:

Camera settings are important and noise reduction is great for noobs like myself. This is a slightly improved version of the original video, now with noise reduction applied. It's a bit softer and it doesn't work on all clips, but overall I think it's a better look.

Some lessons learned:

Automatic and manual settings both have their uses, it's important to know which and when.

For ISO settings I think manual is going to be preferred most of the time, unless there was some compelling reason to have it adjust due to quickly changing light. Not sure what that would be, but it's possible I suppose.

For focus it depends. The auto focus is great if you're moving around, but if you're static it's probably better to go manual and leave it. Again this depends on what you're doing. If I'm shooting a music performance video and I want it to stay focused on my guitar, I'll probably go manual. The auto-focus is pretty good, but the occasional focus hunting can get distracting.

Lighting is always critical and I already knew that, but I'm trying to learn the situations in which I can get away with more ambient/natural light. Color temp changes gets distracting.

BL Item 7

Actually, I don't have a specific bucket list, but there are things I want to do before the inevitable return to stardust. Although saying I ran a marathon is a bit generous, I did finish my first marathon yesterday, and I ran most of the way (about 22 of the 26 miles were at faster than a walking pace). Because of the way the course is mapped out and because I took a wrong turn at the detour for the half marathoners, I ended up running about 27.5 according to my phone. Either my phone is generous, the Cowtown Marathon mappers are a bit stingy, or it's a combination of both. I know I definitely ran further than 26.2, but I'm not sure it was 27.5.

As far as my pace and finish time, my primary goal of finishing was met, although I was way too optimistic in my prediction. I ran my first (and only) sponsored half marathon (I've run that distance multiple times, just not in official events) in 1:43, so I mistakenly thought I could run under 4 hours with no problem. Maybe I should have planned for 5 hours, although I ended up missing that with a total of 5:10. Even counting my temporary detour, I don't think it added 10 minutes. My biggest time suck were the walking miles, which numbered around 4 total. There's just a point where you run out of gas, and it's a struggle to just keep moving forward. I was so close in the 19-22 mile range of quitting and calling Aeyong to come pick me up. This is the point that's often referred to as "The Wall". Somehow I just kept telling myself to make it to the next mile marker and surprisingly at around the 23 mile mark I started jogging again and got a slight burst of energy and was able to "run" most of the way in.

I think I can improve that time and I'm tentatively looking towards the Dallas Marathon in December. I know during the race yesterday I was telling myself this was the only marathon I would ever run, but 20+ hours of rest and refueling is giving me some renewed optimism that I can do better. Since I didn't set the bar too high, that goal should be attainable.

2012

Before welcoming in the new year (albeit 2 days late), I wanted to give a nod to 2011. 2011 was a good year. Not necessarily a GREAT year, but essentially good on most days, which earns an overall good rating.

The year started with us in Killeen and no immediate or even medium term plans to move or change anything that substantial in our lives. I had just started working for MEB at Ft Hood and by the end of January I knew I couldn't last long term in that position. The highlights of the year were my subsequent decision to seek new employment, and I began looking primarily in the D/FW area with the intent to relocate. Ultimately this culminated in my finding, applying, and getting hired for a Comp & Pen position with the VA at their new FW outpatient clinic.

We put our house on the market and Aeyoung was very fortuitous in finding a home to rent that was not only convenient to work, but very suitable from a layout standpoint and pet friendly. Besides the upheaval of the move and a couple of months of not collecting a regular paycheck in the summer (and the resulting red on the bank ledger), the year otherwise proceeded as normal.

On the family front, Aeyoung and I celebrated our 21st anniversary in April and just continued to happily share each other's lives with our 3 furry children. Our most recent addition continues to attempt to exert her dominance as the favorite. It's funny how smaller dogs seem to have Napoleon complexes.  I incrementally improved at playing guitar and keyboards, continued to run, and near the end of the year I began studying Korean again, although a little more in earnest this time. Hey, better late than never, you know the old saying. 

Onward to 2012. Aeyoung asked me the other day what my new year's resolutions were going to be. I usually have a significant reassessing of my physical fitness at this time of year, so she's used to me swearing off alcohol and fast food and committing myself to exercise. The good news is that I have been a consistent runner for the past two years and this really hasn't changed. The only ironic event is that I did a number on my right calf in mid december when I was out for one of my pre-marathon long runs. This resulted in my not being able to run for the last two weeks of the year, and now I almost feel as if I am starting a new year's resolution by returning to running. I managed to run 1195 miles last year which is okay.

I had 3 significant down periods due to illness and injury, but this last one has been the longest. I'm hoping I can get my weekly average up to a consistent 30 miles or so, although this means I'll have to run 15 miles on the weekend unless I add an extra weekday. My long term goal is still to run a marathon, but this is the second train up in which I've suffered a significant injury setback that essentially has derailed my plan near the end. I think I will need to reassess my general approach to running/fitness and include some muscular strength and flexibility traning to supplement my running/cardio. I also think about 10-20% weight loss may do alot to minimize the injuries. 

Along those lines I'm going to have to commit to less junk food and alcohol (this is really only a weekend phenomena), and start to really manage how I fuel my body for general health and for running. I think my plan for now will be only social drinking (in our case that means concerts), and limit the junk food to only one or two meals a week. Aeyoung will cook this kind of food more often just from a convenience standpoint, so that means I will probably have to step in a help with some of the food preparation. 

Our financial goals for 2012 are fairly simple. Keep doing what we're doing, but do it better. Get the red off the ledger book that was necessitated by the relocation (and is harder to overcome currently because we're paying rent and a mortgage at the same time). The most important objective for the year would be to sell our house in Killeen, although it's hard to gauge how reasonable a goal that is. We will pay a tax penalty of 8K if we sell before August, so right now we're not being aggressive in our pricing.

That will most likely change if we haven't sold by then. Once we can sell that house, our financial goals will be centered on our eventual home purchase in the D/FW area. That's a 2013 and beyond goal. The eventual home purchase will hopefully be our last. We're hoping to get at least a one acre homesite in a planned development that will protect us from urban sprawl in the long term and allow us to stay in that one home indefinitely. We're looking to settle in the Mansfield/Arlington/Grand Prairie area. This will get us a little closer to the middle of D/FW while keeping my work commute to a manageable timeframe. 

My other 2012 goals center on continued learning and development. I want to continue studying Korean, at least every weekday like I have been striving to do. I'll probably start trying to either read some comic books or watch the occasional television program with Aeyoung. I haven't developed my comprehension and vocabulary enough yet for those to be possible. 

In music, I'm going to commit to two initial goals. Learn at least one complete song by ear per month, and compose at least one complete song per month. To learn a complete song by ear, I'm going to start with something a little more simple and approachable like Led Zeppelin or equivalent. I know bits and pieces of many tunes, but I've been dependent on tablature for the bulk of all songs I've ever learned. I've figured out countless riffs and chunks of tunes, but I haven't forced myself to sit down and learn a complete song from start to finish. It's definitely an easier task now than it was when I first learned guitar. The software tools available make it about as easy as possible. I just need to do the work. I'll build up to harder material once I have several complete songs under my belt. 

On the compositional front, my goal is to have a completed song with all instruments, arrangement, orchestration, production, etc. completed every month. I haven't decided yet if I'll make completely new songs from scratch, although that is the way I'm leaning. I have ordered a small two octave keyboard controller to keep at my main desk to help with the songwriting. As a guitarist I find it easy enough to write riffs while I'm playing my guitar, but I think the keyboard will handle the bulk of the overall compositional duties since I can not only write/play melody and chords, but it's also my only interface for drums, bass and synths. 

 

100 miles in 4 weeks

I managed to cram 30 miles into the last 4 days. I'll try and stay on schedule for the next month so I won't fall so far behind my pace this time. I haven't calculated my marathon training plan cumulative totals for the next month, but with ever increasing long run day distances, I might meet the goal a bit earlier than 4 weeks.

Tropes...

I'm not talking about the overused TV themes kind of tropes. No, this is merely a salutation using my best commanding officer pronunciation of "Troops".  I think they send field grade officers to a special class on how to speak majestically when addressing your Tropes. Words like Godspeed and Fourscore are also highly encouraged.

Anywho,  it's been awhile.  Life has been tumultous, but overall predictable since last I posted. Back in August I was preparing for retirement and was going to start working as a contractor at a Ft Hood clinic. Since that time I declined that job and ended up taking a federal job for a new off post clinic that the Army was building in Killeen.  Now it's going on mid-November and things are probably going to come full circle. I'm currently in the process of taking a different contracting job on Ft Hood, maily because it's about a 35% pay hike. Without going into detail, I'm thinking about going back to school in a few years and short term earning potential is paramount since I won't be able to work much after starting school.

On the fitness front I have been training to run the Austin 2011 Marathon next February.  This will be my first marathon so I started training several months in advance. I just completed a half marathon last weekend, which was actually a few weeks ahead of my training schedule but it was a memorial run for the November 5th shooting victims and it seemed like a good coincidence and a worthy reason to run.  I ran in 1:44 which I was pretty happy with since my marathon goal is to break 4 hours. I had a short term goal of running 100 miles in 30 days (at the insistence of the Nike+app, actually) and I need to run 8.5 miles today to meet that goal. I have been keeping a pretty steady running schedule, but the occasional Saturday over-indulgence in sudsy beverages has caused me to skip an occasional long run which is usually scheduled for Sunday.

On the musical front not much is different. I had been in an acoustic phase for the last several months but began playing electric a few weeks back.  I'm getting gradually closer to "Endless Road" which has lived up to its name.  I started playing electric again out of natural jonesin and also looking forward to getting my Suhr Modern a la Frankenstrat here in the near future.  On the piano front, I had actually signed up for piano lessons at a little studio here in Harker Heights and took four lessons over the course of a month. The teacher was nice enough but it was very regimented and strictly by this beginner's lesson book.  It would have been good for me to learn sight reading, but I'm more interested in learning songs and don't really see that it's worth the effort to get fast at sight reading.  So, I quit taking lessons and I'm back to just playing my selection of songs. I've added "Linus & Lucy" which is challenging but alot of fun.

A bit past four months…

I'm a little late to the four month mark party, but feel compelled to mark these countdown milestones.  The last month has seen a few good developments, not the least of which is a fairly significant downturn in enemy activity in the last few days. It's been colder here for a few days and that may be the main reason. Since the last countdown milestone they have fixed the dryers in the laundry which has somewhat improved our laundry turn around time (there's no fix for the ambivalent workers employed there); and most significantly they repaired two of the treadmill belts so now I can run again.

I was a bit overly optimistic the first day and ran 5 miles in my rekindled trotting exuberance.  I paid the price of pain for several days afterwards. Luckily, my legs have been convinced that it's in everyone's best interest if they don't sit the rest of the season out and I was able to run 3 miles on Friday and feel like doing 3 or 4 today.

Another significant improvement was the arrival of my PS3 (thanks to my better half) and a modest home theater speaker system I had ordered online. We now have a high def, surround sound capable theater and video game room in the aid station. I'll upload pictures of movie night in action here in the future. We christened the new setup with the Blu Ray version of the most recent Incredible Hulk movie with Edward Norton. Watching a high def movie on a 70 inch screen with surround sound is quite sublime considering.

On the same mail truck I also received a nice desk chair for my room that has made the extended keyboard/guitar practice sessions much more forgiving to my sitting points of contact (use your imagination). With the gradual improvements it has become almost livable here. Knowing the Army, it's way past time to bring the suck to our happy home here if at all possible.  Until then, I'm going to enjoy our new standard of living.