Archive for June, 2007

Red Sox ticket available

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

So I bought a ticket for the Red Sox vs. Rockies game tomorrow night, but then I acquired a box seat for the same game – I’m going with a bunch of cool folks and hanging out for the VIP treatment, which means the ticket I already had is available – either cheap, free, or for a beer (whatever). All you need to do is contact me before tomorrow night…and that’s it.

This is the first Red Sox game I’ve been to in person – but it is unlikely to be the last. Of course, I went out over the weekend and bought a bunch of Red Sox merchandise. I’m not quite going for the giant foam hand experience this time, but I expect to have plenty of warm beer.


Explaining “Old Ironsides”

Monday, June 11th, 2007

So I got a message (cool thing about facebook mobile is that it sends me SMSes when you poke or message me) asking whether the Constitution really was a wooden ship or made of iron, or whatever.

The progression of sailing ships roughly goes:

* Ye olde wooden ships.
* Ye olde wooden ships+re-enforced hulls.
* Ye olde wooden ships+iron cladding.
* Iron ships.
* Huge kill-them-all superships.

(the latter not being a sailing ship any more – modern ships don’t sail, they break down unstable Uranium into even more unstable by-products – and incidentally, if you follow international Uranium pricing, you’ll see it’s at three times what it was not long ago. Building reactors is getting much more expensive now there’s competition on the global market from the “new boys” who just joined the “nuclear club” and who want a piece of the action…but I digress…it’s 5am…who cares).

The Constitution was entirely made of wood, plus a copper plating on her hull below the waterline for protection from rotting over time. She was not what we call an “ironclad” – a wooden ship with additional iron plating of the kind that was added to later ships pre-building them all out of flimsy metal. The ironclads pretty much obsoleted wooden ships over night – read your US sailing history between 1812 and the Civil War for the complete rundown on how changes such as this fundamentally affected the advantage in battle between the US and itself.

USS Constitution came to be known as “Old Ironsides” because of the type of white oak that was used in her construction. It was so frigging strong that nobody could bust open her sides with conventional weapons of the era, despite many attempts by the British (and by the others with whom she engaged…and never lost). So they called her “Old Ironsides” because it was as if she was made of Iron. I had a conversation about that with the crew too, and ended up digressing into US Navel history of the Merrimack and Monitor, and getting into one of those “whoah…he knows a thing or two about US history” situations. It’s just a damned shame more people around here don’t take an interest, but I won’t get started on that.

So there you go. This has been a random history lesson. I don’t give a rats ass about British history, but you’ll find I care deeply about American history and the founding of the United States :-)


Brave New Jon – Diet update

Monday, June 11th, 2007

So I’ve been on a crazy diet for almost three months now. It’s worked well, I’ve lost ludicrous amounts of weight, forced myself to eat only healthy food all of the time, and I feel about a million times better than I did. And so, I have no intention of discontinuing it at this point – not for at least another three months at this rate. Even then, I’ve seen the light.

I’ve been “that fat guy”, “kind of average size”, “a little podgy”, and now I’m aiming for “that thin guy”, followed by “athletic and toned”. And other silly tags people may apply from time to time, as is obviously necessitated by the society in which we live. Seriously though, I’m so done with being overweight and unfit…time to move on. At this point, it’s not so much for the benefit of anyone else as for my personal goal of self improvement.

Today, I canned the peanuts. I’ve been eating way too many and it’s been holding me back – so I’ve switched to Avocados instead. Today’s diet consisted of an insane number of blueberries, oranges, bananas, a protein shake, some olives, several avocados, and not much else. Generally, I eat a lot of green salad, tomatoes, and other fruit/veg. too – so don’t go thinking I’m withering away, but I haven’t eaten any bread, pasta, rice, fish, cheese, and other such things in nearly three months. I am eating way too many blueberries this week – today, I spent $20 on blueberries…a slight sign that I might want to get a less expensive dietary fad :-)

I’ve decided to join a gym. Probably BSC (no, not the UK degree type, “Boston Sports Clubs”) because they seem fairly evil but also pretty much everywhere and seem to give me the best (albeit very limited) hours of any of the local clubs. I can see myself in the gym at 5:30am. I can see myself doing that at least once ;-) But it’d be nice if I managed to at least go down there a few times a week – not only for general exercise but for targeting upper and lower body strength, especially important for the increased level of climbing I plan to do once I have a car.

“Fat boy” is dead. He’s done. Gone. No more. I nearly fixed this in 2004, but this time, it’s being fixed once and for all.


USS Constitution

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Photo: Jon “Skipper” Masters, at the helm of the USS Constitution.

So I swung by the USS Constitution this afternoon, to indulge the historian within me by engaging in a few hours of exploration of the ship and its long, and somewhat colorful, history. I’ve studied the War of 1812 and previously read about “Old Ironsides” but there’s nothing like seeing the oldest active warship in the US Navy Fleet first-hand.

I’m trying to get into the habit of walking or cycling places around town, rather than taking cabs or riding the T (the municipal MBTA – Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority – subway in Boston) unnecessarily – really, a mile or two of walking is much better than sitting and waiting around. I did my usual walk across Mass. Ave. bridge, along the Charles Reservation Esplanade, and then took a long route around to the Harbor and its battleships. USS Constitution is permanently based at the Navy docks (by order of the US Congress, she is no longer allowed to leave the Harbor perimeter without an act of Congress…and yes, the crew aren’t too happy about that situation…I asked them), which also service other ships and provide support services to the US Military on occasion.

Constitution took my breath away. This ship has such a wonderful history – it’s almost as old as the US itself. It’s a wonderful place, and crewed by some extremely knowledgeable people – I was talking to one guy about the recent tragedy that befell the Cutty Sark after discussing the dynamics of the ship’s construction (much of what is visible today is not a reflection of the true original design of Constitution – for example, the wooden siding on the top deck, which was added in the 1850s), crew complement and procedures they use when they get underway (and under sail – they are the only Navy personnel allowed to free climb masts without safety gear) for the occasional turnabout cruises they operate within the Harbor. I plan to enter the lottery for a chance to be on one of these – though obviously the July 4th turnaround is already well and truly taken. I want to go see her nonetheless.

The only downside of visiting the ship was seeing the other “tourists” leaning on 200 year old equipment like it didn’t matter. I’m going to avoid ranting about the disrespect tourists often show for such things – after all, we live in a world filled with Disney and MTV. But It’s important to respect history (in the same way that US National Parks don’t need to have Starbucks outlets) and the crew were trying to enforce some kind of sanity on the masses. I obtained permission before taking the helm.

After visiting the Constitution, I took a walk up Bunker Hill to look at the monument and reflect. Then I went to Borders for a little more self torture before finally heading home.


Brave New Jon – Phase Two

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

So I’ve been thinking about Project Brave New Jon and where I take it from here. I’ve completely redefined myself in a short space of time, and I’m happy with some of the progess so far, but there’s more to be done. What started out as an intensive response to deal with my perceived inadequacies and personal failings has become much more over the past three months. Phase two should include the following two main activities:

* Finish the weight loss program. I’m no longer fat, but I’m not thin, athletic, and toned quite yet either. I aim to hit 150lbs and lose another size in the process. I’m nearly where I want to be, minus a bit of toning and more sessions in the (climbing) gym – though I’ve been climbing with guys from work and might try to get into the habbit of doing that more often (drove up to Boulder Morty’s from the office on Thursday night, and checked out a car one of the guys had seen on the way). And outdoor climbing too.

* Buy a car. I know what I want to get. I even know the vanity plate I want to get too. But now I need to start looking at the market, looking at prices, and making sensible decisions. Part of me wants to rush out and buy a brand new 2007 Mazda Miata in blue with retractible hard top and GT options. But the more sensible part tells me that getting a 3-4 year old model is a better idea for my very first car purchase. My credit history has finally ported over so I have a lot more sensible financing options too at this point.

I’m also looking at a variety of other persuits, including more travel, and a lot more fun. I have driven 3,000 miles since I got my US license one month ago and covered many States in the process, but now I need to ramp up the enthusiasm and go on some utterly insane roadtrips over the summer. Part of me is considering whether to buy a car in California and drive it back to Boston…


P.S. Got my Red Sox (the local, and world renowned, baseball team) tickets for Tuesday night.

JFK Presidential Library

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Photo: The JFK Presidential Library, Boston, MA.

So I visited the JFK Presidential Library this afternoon. It’s something I was originally planning to do back in April, with my (now ex) girlfriend and so had been sitting on the TODO for a while. The weather today was perfectly suited for a museum visit.

JFK has always interested and fascinated me – in fact the whole Kennedy family has been a source of inspiration for many years. I remember first visiting the memorial in Arlington National Cemetery a few years back and feeling a great sense of loss that such leaders aren’t around any more.

The Library itself is closed to the general public and one requires pre-authorization to enter that part of the museum complex – this is something I am going to look into for my personal research. The museum area is the portion that the public, in general, goes to see. It’s filled with typical kinds of exhibits, but of course, there was nothing typical about JFK. The guy wasn’t perfect, but he did introduce a great amount of positive change – both before and after he was in office. I enjoy his speeches and writings, and bought a compilation book filled with years of material that’ll keep me occupied in my more insomniac moments over the coming weeks and months.



Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Since I’ve worked at Red Hat, I’ve had chance to work on some super cool projects – everything from drivers, to infrastructure, a variety of packages, real time efforts, and a variety of embedded-related stuff (One Laptop Per Child, etc.). And there’s more to come – because I really dig this. Like really. I love working with these guys, it’s just really frigging cool. I want to exploit my time by growing, by becoming better at my job and a more valuable resource. I feel I’m part of a once in a lifetime experience.

Enthusiasm is what it’s all about – if you can’t find your job exciting on a daily basis, you can’t be as effective as you could be. No matter how much coffee you drink. There’s never a dull moment at Red Hat – and really, there’s never enough time to think about dull moments, either. It’s about doing something you can believe in.