Category Archives: Other Stuff

Happy Anniversary to Me! (Now pass the cupcakes)

Diets don’t work, except when they do. This week marks my nine year anniversary of becoming a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. In 2002, I got fed up with being too overweight to enjoy hiking or biking hills anymore. So I joined Weight Watchers, lost 35 pounds and have kept my weight within the “healthy” BMI range since. Given only 6% of Weight Watchers members meet their goal weight and achieve lifetime status, and that only about 20% are within five pounds of their goal weight five years later, I’m pleased.

Why did I succeed where others failed? First, while I was quite capable of packing on the pounds, my parents raised me to eat real food instead of junk and encouraged physical activity. When I gained weight, I was eating far more than I should have for my activity level. Second, and more importantly, I made lifestyle changes afterward that set me up for success. Like joining Team in Training and completing my first triathlon, dating a hard-core cyclist (who I’ve since married) and joining a women’s bicycle racing team.

My everyday and social lives now revolve around physical activity, which frees me from the burden of counting Points Plus all the time. Because you can’t spend the rest of your life counting calories, or eating one meal a day or never eating ordinary food with friends and family. That’s not living.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to stay lean. We Americans live in a culture that’s created the perfect storm for obesity: inexpensive, high calorie processed foods, super-sized restaurant meals (not just at fast food places either), and the virtual elimination of ordinary, everyday physical activity, like walking or bicycling to school or work.

You’ve probably heard the statistics about how 30% of Americans are obese, but do you realize that just 20 years ago less than 15% were? That’s a horrifying increase. Watch this video to see how in any given year a significant number of states increase their percentage of obese residents.

For those who are curious about how I looked at my max weight, I did find a photo from that era. Photos are rare since I didn’t like how I looked. Or how it kept me from being active outdoors like I am today.

Has maintaining a weight you’re happy with been hard for you? Do diets work for you?



Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Other Stuff


Farewell to a Visionary

The drizzle today only seemed fitting for paying my respects to a man who epitomized the spirit of Silicon Valley: be bold, be daring and follow your vision, not your critics. Or worse, your competitors.

I may have graduated with honors with a degree in Computer Science, but when it comes down to it I’m not a computer geek, or even a gadget head. I actually cried the first time I was forced to use a computer in college. What attracted me in the end to Computer Science was the elegance of expressing an algorithm through code. Good code is like good writing: clear, concise and well organized in its message. That’s good design, and that’s what Steve Jobs demanded.


Like so many others, what I appreciate about Apple products, which are all Steve’s babies, is their simplicity. Rather than offering you a hundred options, they know what you want. Rather than being clever, they let you be clever. Rather than being made in the image of the engineers that built them, they were made in the image of the non-geeks who bought them. In droves.

That’s me, the non-geek whose iPhone is her most valued material possession (don’t tell my bikes). I use my phone to connect with my husband, check in with friends on Facebook, record what I see with an amazing camera, find my way across town with Google maps and journal my life through this blog. With just my iPhone I was able to create this whole blog entry: taking photos, cropping them with PS mobile, composing copy and uploading it all with the WordPress mobile app.

Thank you, Steve. You make me clever. And judging by the little memorial your fans have created outside your Palo Alto home, I’m not the only one you touched.

Who are your heroes?

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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Other Stuff


HDR Questions from an iPhone Photog

On our way to lunch today, my co-worker Melissa told us she was thinking about buying an HDR camera, but they cost thousands of dollars. My iPhone 4, which I use for all my photos, has an HDR setting. Not knowing what it was, I tried it out a few times. I didn’t notice any difference in quality and it took forever to save the photo, so I turned HDR off and forgot about it.

Melissa explained that HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and that HDR merges multiple exposures and that it’s good when you have a wide range of light in the shot. Sounds good to me.

So I had to try it out RIGHT THEN with side-by-side comparisons. Here’s the back entrance to our lunch spot, La Bodeguita del Medio. The non-HDR version is on the left, HDR is on the right. I see now that the leaves on the hedge and the blue wall, white siding, and sky behind it are not overexposed, even though the dark entry is still properly exposed. Much better with HDR.

But notice what happens when there’s motion in the frame. In HDR, Michelle becomes a shadow of herself, with foliage overlaid on her face (click to zoom in). Cool effect, but not something I’ll use much.

Curious, I go online and check out gallery after gallery of HDR images and find lots of dramatic landscapes with clouds and severe architecture, like this one of the Golden Gate Bridge from vgm8383

Golden Gate HDR

Now, I’m no photographer. My only cameras are my iPhone 4 and my GoPro HD, the latter purchased because I couldn’t figure out how turn my iPhone into a helmet-cam. But I’m not so sure about HDR photography.

What do you think? Is HDR a great technology or is HDR to photography what Thomas Kinkade is to painting?


Posted by on August 18, 2011 in Other Stuff

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