19 October 2008

October 19 game recap vs Storrs Lady Lightning

Score: 4-0 loss
Opposition: They were much faster than us and capitalized on our lackadaisical first period play. I think they scored 3 goals in the first period and 1 in the second period.
Team performance: We were clearly out-of-shape. We need to work on our conditioning. The coach told us that we need to cover the ice evenly on the forecheck so we don't get killed on odd-man rushes the other way. We had a tendency for the three forwards to either bunch up on one side or all converge on the puck. Our team did play much better in the second and third periods.

My performance: I think I played pretty well for the first game of the season. Working out over the summer really helped my conditioning and I felt strong through the first two periods. I didn't hit the wall until my last shift of the third period. I started off the game skating on the left wing with Alison playing center and Rose playing right wing. It was fun playing with Alison because her speed gave me room. I had one semi-breakaway with her where I shot on net. Alison fed me a nice pass from behind the net and I got off a nice one-timer. Unfortunately, it hit the goalie right in the chest. Somewhere in the middle of the first period, our coach decided to put Alison on another line to spark our offense. Then I played with Linda at center and Rose at right wing. Linda and I had at least two good scoring chances. During one play, the puck squirted into the offensive zone and I had a one-on-one fight with the defenseman for the puck. Somehow we both fell down and Linda ending up trying to shoot on net. Later on in the third period, Melissa looked tired, so the coach had me switch with Melissa so that she could have an extra shift to rest. I played with Moie at center and KC at right wing for the rest of the game. I remember making a nice defensive play. We were trying to break out of the zone and the puck came around the boards on my wing. The opposing defenseman tried to stop the puck. I pushed my stick blade forward like a poke check and simply charged through. I think I had a semi-breakaway and made the defenseman look really stupid. Awesome play. I have to do that more often.

I said all these good things about myself. I did notice that I had trouble handling the puck when it came into my skates. That happened at least twice and the opposing team just took the puck away from me. I'll have to work on that.

16 October 2008

Link of the day: "Goal setting for skeptics"

I really enjoyed this inspiring, short essay by Gina Trapani about why goal setting is important or in her words: "why you should risk dweebhood with written goals."

Our new hockey coach

We got a new coach this season. She has been very impressive in our first two practices and the new season feels promising.

Coach Russell played four years of Division I women's hockey, so she has a lot of experience. I really like how she runs hard, uptempo practices filled with lots of drills. It's mentally challenging and stimulating. This style reminds me of the way Coach Jensen ran the Heartland Hockey Camp practices. Russell is very open-minded and approachable. Since she played with most of the women during the summer co-ed league, she knows everyone which is handy because she knows everyone's name!

With a new coach, my teammates seem more engaged. Everyone has lots of questions and suggestions. I'm a bit worried that Coach Russell's familiarity with the players might compromise her authority. But so far, she's done a great job at balancing being fun and relaxed with being demanding.

Russell asked us to arrive at practice 30 minutes early for some chalkboard discussion. Here are my notes on the meeting:
  1. Put in your best effort at practice. Practice hard so you can do better at games. Everyone will play, no one is going to be benched. But everyone has to work hard at practice. Falling is good.
  2. Communication is key. Yell at your teammates. Examples: "I got high [slot]" or "One [man] on" Communication helps win games. Talking is great.
  3. We haven't had an opportunity to discuss our forecheck scheme. For now, we will setup a 2-1-2 forecheck, for a more aggressive, offensive posture. That means 2 forwards in. If the 2-1-2 doesn't work, we'll go with a 1-2-2 forecheck which means 1 forward in.
  4. We will learn several different ways of breaking out. For now, we will work out the basic breakout that the team had already been practicing with Rai. Typically, the defenseman breaking out will have three options: the wing on the boards, the center who will curl down low, and the defensive partner on the other side of the ice.
  5. When playing defensive hockey, develop the habit of lifting the stick with a quick hard upward slash and then taking the puck away.
  6. If you want to pokecheck, push your stick blade forward. That way the puck will go behind the opponent and break up the play. No lazy pokechecking where you swing the stick from side to side.
  7. Under the "new" USA Hockey rules, you cannot do anything that will impede your opponent's motion. If you hit your opponent's stick, keep it around the blade. When you go higher, you risk a penalty. However, you can lift the stick as much as you want. You can tap the opponent with your stick and annoy them if you want, as long as the opponent's movement is not restricted.
  8. Playing defense when an opposing player is in the crease. You can't get in the way of the player until the puck comes near you. Again, any impedement of the opponent's movement is a penalty under the new USA Hockey rules. If you want to be sneaky though, you can get behind the player and push your stick down on the player's pants to direct the person where to go. This is called the "washboard" technique.
  9. If you're a wing breaking out and positioning yourself on the boards, don't turn your back to the incoming defense. That makes you blind to the incoming defense and also restricts your possibilities of movement. Instead, stand with your body perpendicular to the boards. Then you have many options: going forward, sideways, etc.
  10. Always throw hard passes. It's better to see someone miss a hard pass than to cough up the puck because of a soft pass.
  11. We will be running uptempo (translation: hard) practices. You should be really tired (translation: exhausted) after practice. To keep the pace up, everyone should do a hard lap around the rink between every drill.

14 October 2008

Thirdly review 2008, Part 3

Yet again, I've been putting off my Thirdly review. This review will cover mid-May through end of August.

Summer is usually when I go on vacation, but I didn't do much this year. I was tired of how hectic pace of the spring and just wanted to stay home. However, I did go to Washington DC to visit my second cousin and her family. I thought it was just going to be my cousin, her husband, and the kids, but then her mom and her sister's family (including an infant and newborn) showed up. So the trip wasn't really relaxing since there were so many people around. With so many kids, the parents seemed incredibly stressed and that rubbed off on me.

I played hockey in the co-ed summer league for the fourth year-in-a-row. I don't really have much to say about it, but our team did advance to the championship game, which was nice. I also dabbled in learning Chinese during July. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep it up due to time constraints. I hope I can pick it up again sometime.

I tried to improve my work ethic by setting up routines and rituals. I started a five-day-a-week gym habit on June 17th. I think my initial lifting routines contained too many exercises, which made my workouts both inefficient and overly time-consuming. Gradually over time, I figured out which exercises to keep and which to throw out. I really liked doing the habit five days a week (on weekdays) because I couldn't skip any days. In late August, I studied Rippetoe & Kilgore's Starting Strength book and that helped me understand how to train properly. I finally knew how to do the major lifts with proper technique and that gave me the confidence to go up in weight. I doubled my squat and deadlift numbers in a month. Overall, the gym experiment was very successful. It made me feel better physically and mentally and conferred discipline. If I wake up and go to the gym before 9 am, it's probably going to be a good day.

I've also been trying to establish good habits for my bedtime and rise time. Ideally, I'd like to wakeup at 5:30 am and go to bed at 9:30 pm. I had a nice week in August where I actually accomplished my wakeup time. I haven't been able to do consistently ever since. I have found a good way to encourage me to go to bed by 9:30 pm. It works as follows. I try to finish up everything (email, logging, news) by 9 pm. I watch a 20-minute episode of Scrubs and hop into bed. This works pretty well.

I notice that I have problems with unplanned disruptions. During early August, I got hooked to following the Olympics. In late August, I received the Starting Strength book in the mail and started studying it. I thought I could learn it in one day but it took over four days. That meant my work being stalled for a week. Two weeks ago, I had to work out some issues with a friend of mine. Once I get disrupted, I takes me a long time to get back on track. I hope that when I finish establishing good sleeping and working habits, I won't have so many problems.

13 October 2008

Public communication, web 2.0, and all that

I'm not the most wired person out there, but I think I'm definitely above average. The web presents enormous opportunities to communicate with the general public and connect with people who have specific interests. This is very different from personal, one-on-one conversation, which I discussed in an earlier post. The idea of an interactive, user-defined internet is frequently called "Web 2.0."

I'll discuss some of my personal experiences with Web 2.0. (See Tim O'Reilly's article for an in-depth discussion of what Web 2.0 means.)
  • Blogging
    Well, this here is a blog! Blogging is a great way for me to practice writing and expressing myself. If you're a really popular blogger like Tim Ferriss, you can have very lively conversations with your internet audience. No one really talks to me about my blog. Not that I really expect anyone to, given that I write about random topics of personal interest and make no effort to connect with a target audience. But if you want to communicate with people via blogging, you can definitely make that happen. Even if it's on a small scale like sharing infant photos with the family.
    I really like using Blogger because of the tags, anonymity, and free storage space.
  • Facebook
    I like Facebook a lot. I will frequently double-post on Facebook and Blogger. I post on Facebook to let my friends know about a link I like. It's much less intrusive to do so via Facebook than via email. I also get faster feedback. When people log onto Facebook, they know consciously that they are having fun and blowing time. They are in the mood to respond. Facebook is viral in the sense that when people see one or two comments to a posted link, they themselves feel compelled to join in the discussion. In contrast, email is this awful catch-all for communication. My email is probably sandwiched in between a reminder about a meeting and a message from the boss. I also post on Blogger so that I can have a personal record for myself.
    The main difference between Facebook and other Web2.0 tools is the sophisticated privacy tools on Facebook. So depending on the user, Facebook is not as "open" as other platforms.
  • Flickr
    Photography is only a minor hobby of mine, so I don't spend too much time on Flickr or not as much time as some people do. I use Flickr pretty much the same way I use Blogger, to keep personal records that happen to be public. The main reason I chose Flickr is the excellent interface for tagging and viewing photos.
    Sometimes I'll get some nice, unexpected comments on my (amateur) photographs. That's the magic of tagging and geotagging on Flickr. It's so easy for people to find photographs of a specific location or specific tag. Two of my photos have been chosen for the Schmap online travel guides. I think it's because I did such a detailed job of tagging my photos. There are probably better photos out there, but mine were easy to find. I'm glad to pitch in my bit to make Web 2.0 the great resource it is. Flickr allows me to explore other people's interests and photographic creativity. Many photos, including mine, are licensed under Creative Commons so they can be re-used for non-profit purposes. I'm not too familiar with the social aspects of Flickr, but it appears there's quite a community there. You can join all sorts of groups. I was asked to submit photo to a Sharpie pen group!
  • Forums
    I'm a member of the ModSquadHockey forum and I used to hang out a lot in musical forums like Finishing the Chat and BroadwayWorld. Reading forums is a fantastic way to quickly acquire knowledge for a new hobby. I figured out how to pick my own hockey equipment and learned what theatregoers look for when they attend a play or musical. I'm still a member of the hockey forum because I really liked the atmosphere on the board (vigilant administrators are a must) and I periodically answer questions. I try to give back.
  • Wiki
    Wikis can be interactive but not on the level of blogs, Facebook, Flickr, and forums. The interaction is with the members of the wiki who write and modify the contents of the wiki. My only experience so far is submitting reference cards to the Starting Strength Wiki. I did get a nice note from the Starting Strength Wiki administrator, praising my contribution. I'm interested in doing more with wikis but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

12 October 2008

Upbeat playlist from Scrubs, Season One

  1. Good Time - Leroy
  2. A Little Respect - Erasure
  3. Dracula From Houston - Butthole Surfers
  4. Fool - Tim Cullen
  5. Camera One - Josh Joplin Group
  6. Hooch - Everything
  7. Fighting For My Love - Nil Lara
  8. Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
  9. Have It All - Jeremy Kay
  10. Fresh Feeling - Eels
If you have Rhapsody, here's a link to the playlist.

11 October 2008

Giving as good as you get

A couple times I've heard the phrase "give as good as you get." It refers to the idea that if someone insults you, you insult them back equally. Is this a staple of American culture? If so, I condemn it.

Yes, I agree, if you are 100% sure someone is a complete jerk and is doing it on purpose, then hit back hard, verbally, physically, whatever. But what happened to human decency and cutting people slack? Maybe it's because I'm Asian and Asian people have doormat culture? The idea to "give as good as you get" without any kind of reflection is incredibly rude. What happened to those Christian ideals about "turning the other cheek" and not retaliating?

This is something to keep in mind when playing competitive sports. I like what judoka Ronda Rousey said in an NBC Olympic interview titled "International competition":
People on the mat are a completely different personality from when they are off the mat. When someone is roughing me up and trying to bust my lip or whatever or doing cheap stuff on me on the mat... I won't hold it against them because they could be the coolest person to go out with on a Friday.

07 October 2008

Link of the day: Manic-depressive rollercoaster

Tim Ferriss wrote a nice post called "Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You" on his personal blog.

I especially like the plot.

Tim explains each of these different stages: 1. Uninformed optimism, 2. Informed pessimism, 3. Crisis of Meaning, 4. Crash and Burn, and 5. Informed optimism.

Tim's discussion is aimed at business owners, but the plot applies to anyone doing creative work, including academics. Try and avoid the "crash and burn" stage!

06 October 2008

Text messaging and other forms of personal communication

Recently, I tried text messaging (for real, not for goofing around). It can actually be useful, contrary to its image as a youthful American fad (I'm told that Europeans and Asians text all the time regardless of age).

I can think of several different methods of personal communication.
  • One-on-one in-person conversation
    The best way to talk to someone, but it can hard to arrange a meeting especially as people get older and busier. Also, this can be confrontational and intense, which is not desired in every situation. Examples: having dinner with a friend, taking a walk with a friend, traveling on the train with a friend.
  • In-person conversation in a group setting
    The good thing about this method is that at least you can see the person's facial expressions. The bad thing is that there are a lot of things you can't say directly when there are people around. I find it difficult to say anything serious in these situations, so I end up making jokes. Examples: hockey locker room, waiting for a meeting to start, mingling at an apartment party.
  • Phone conversation
    This is a very good substitute for one-on-one in-person conversations. Unfortunately, it can be just as hard to get a hold of someone on the phone as in-person. I find that the phone can be a little problematic if I'm speaking to someone who talks fast and doesn't like to be interrupted. I can't throw visual cues to get the person to slow down (actually this happens for me in in-person conversations as well).
  • Email
    Email is mainly great for short, non-emotional conversations or for getting things done (e.g. scheduling). You don't have to interrupt someone's schedule like you do if you talk to them in person or on the phone. In fact, if you are trying to talk to a busy, unavailable person, email is the only way to get in touch. If you are having weighty conversations and email is your only means of communication, be aware of the potential for feelings to get blown out of proportion. It's altogether too easy to project things that aren't there onto skeletal words. For this reason, fights over email are horrible. My problem is that I frequently ramble over email because I'm a better writer than speaker. The flip side is that I find it easier to express how I feel over email.
  • Text messaging
    This is a lot like email, but since people check their cell phones a lot more than email, they are more likely to pick up the message sooner. Text messaging can be very useful for check-up messages like "Did you pick up the milk?" or "Did you get my email?" If your friend is very busy and her computer is also broken (this really happened to me), text messaging is the only option. Text messaging is less intimidating and obtrusive than calling a person's cell phone. I hate to pick up voice mail sometimes, but I have no problem reading a text message. Also, it looks less rude for me to glance at my cell phone than to hold it at my ear. The downside of text messaging is that it's hard to write long messages. If you have access to a computer, you can send a text message via email.
The upshot is that when you pick a communication method, think about what you want to accomplish, think about your strengths and weaknesses as well as for the other person, and think about how long you want the conversation to be. Sometimes a 15 minute phone conversation is worth ten emails.

Next time, I'll write about public communication, including tools like Facebook, Flickr, blogging, and forums.

05 October 2008

High performance Scheme?

In college, my favorite class was the introductory programming class. It was amazing. We used Scheme and touched upon almost every programming topic under the sun, including compilers, streams, lambda calculus, and object-oriented programming. (So, it wasn't an ordinary intro class and we didn't use no ordinary textbook.)

I haven't used Scheme much these days, but a few days ago, a colleague asked me if I knew of ways to improve the performance of Scheme code. He was wondering if there was software analogous to Python calling C or Fortran code.

I found a good discussion of fast Scheme compilers at this forum. Apparently, Bigloo allows communication between C code and Scheme code. There are also some really fast Scheme compilers like Chicken, Gambit and Chez.

One thing I've wondered is how to translate loop-heavy C/Fortran code into Scheme. My programming class hardly even discussed loops. I did find a short discussion on how to write a loop in Scheme at the MIT ab-initio wiki.

I don't have any reason to look further into this right now, but these compilers could be useful someday in the future.

04 October 2008

Song of the day: "How long has this been going on?" by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin

I don't think this Gershwin tune is as well known as some others, but I love the bluesy melody. I've added it to my singing repertoire. Ella Fitzgerald does a wonderful version of this song on the album Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Gershwin Songbook.
'Neath the stars, at bazaars
Often I've had to caress men
Five or ten, dollars then, I'd collect from all those yes-men
Don't be sad, I must add, that they meant no more than chess-men

Darling, can't you see?
'Twas for charity?
Though these lips have made slips, it was never really serious
Who'd have thought, I'd be brought to a state that's so delirious?

I could cry salty tears
Where have I been all these years?
Little wow, tell me now
How long has this been goin' on?

There were chills up my spine
And some thrills I can't define
Listen sweet, I repeat
How long has this been goin' on?

Oh, I feel that I could melt
Into heaven I'm hurled
I know how Columbus felt
Finding another world

Kiss me once, then once more
What a dunce I was before
What a break, for heaven's sake
How long has this been goin' on?

Kiss me twice, once more, thrice, make it four

What a break, for heaven's sake
How long has this been goin' on?

02 October 2008

Quote of the day: Dr. Cox of "Scrubs" on being a good doctor

In the 21st episode of Season Two in Scrubs ("My Drama Queen"), Dr. Cox is forced to teach a class on doctor-patient relations. At first, he screws around, but finally he buckles down and makes a speech.
You wanna know the real skinny? If you want to be good doctors and nurses, you damn-sure better get ready to get in trouble -- a lot. Because patients are stupid, and they are really scared. And some of them need you to hold their hands, and you should. Others need you to kick their asses, and you absolutely should do that, too. But, it really all just comes down to whether or not you got the guts to say just exactly what you know in your heart of hearts you really should say.
I think the same philosophy applies to being a good parent, coach, teacher or friend. Hold their hand when necessary and kick their behind when necessary.

01 October 2008

Weightlifting routine - October 2008

I'm making some impressive gains on my major lifts -- squat, deadlift, and bench press. I've been struggling to increase my press. The problem is that there are only 35 and 45 lb bars. I can do 35, but 45 is too much. One idea I'm going to try is putting ankle weights on the 35 lb bar, so I can go up in a smaller increment.

Some notes:
  • I got rid of broomstick twists and replaced them with bicycle crunches
  • I got rid of tricep extensions since triceps are covered in dips
  • I'm going back to treadmill running as my cardio workout. I'm starting slowly to get my body used to running (15 minutes at 5.0 mph pace), so I don't get stitches all the time. I'm also trying to breathe deeply and inhale/exhale on my left foot.
  • New notation: "w" means warmup set
Monday: Upper body and cardio
Tuesday: Legs
Wednesday: Core and cardio
Thursday: Upper body and cardio
Friday: Legs

Squat 3-4w,3x5 [90 lb]
Deadlift 3-4w,3x5 [95 lb]
Hip abduction 3x8 [52 lb]
Hip adduction 3x8 [52 lb]
Rotary hip [50 lb], all four directions, both legs 2x8
Seated calf raises 3x8 [112 lb]
Leg curl 3x8 [34 lb]
Leg raise 3x8 [body weight] or crunches 3x20 [body weight]

Upper body
Bench press 3-4w,3x5 [75 lb]
Press 2w,3x5 [35 lb]
Assisted dips 3x8 [body weight - 57.5 lb]
Barbell curl 3x8 [25 lb]
Barbell wrist curls 3x8 [12 lb]
Barbell reverse wrist curls 3x8 [9 lb]

Pendlay rows 3x8 [45 lb]
Leg raises 3x8 [body weight]
Bicycle crunches 3x10 [body weight]
Back extension 3x8 [body weight + 5 lb]
Dumbbell shrug 3x8 [2 x 10 lb]

Song of the day: "Overkill" by Colin Hay

Another great song from Scrubs. "Overkill" is used as the cold open to the first episode of Season Two.
I can't get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications

Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know I'll be alright
Perhaps it's just imagination

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away

Alone between the sheets
Only brings exasperation
It's time to walk the streets
Smell the desperation

At least there's pretty lights
And though there's little variation
It nullifies the night from overkill

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away
Come back another day

I can't get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications

Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know I'll be alright
It's just overkill

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away
Ghosts appear and fade away
Ghosts appear and fade away