The 2007 Firecracker 10K

This is my first post in a long, long, time, so you’re probably expecting a long, interesting post…

But, basically, I’m just posting about my new interest in running, and specifically, about my very first 10K ever in my life.

(For your reference, the race webpage. )

It was on a cloudy, rainy (for southern California, anyway) morning that I arose from my bed at 6am to drive to Chinatown to participate in my very first 10K. I had only heard about the race on the previous Monday, stumbling upon it as I missed the Redondo Beach Super Bowl 10K that I had planned after having a ball at my first timed 5K at the OC Marathon a few weeks prior. That night I asked myself, could I do it? It might be a stretch, but I could give it a shot. And so I told myself that if I really thought I could do it, I’d better check by running tomorrow morning. So on Tuesday, I ran 5.6 miles, and it felt pretty good. I had no illusions of speed or such, and so I timed myself at 1:10, which is about a 12 minute mile pace. So I told myself: Self, you’re probably good to go, but you’re gonna take 1:15 to finish and the 2.7 miles of uphill may be challenging. So… there. I made plans to go (but didn’t register online due to the silly 3 dollar surcharge), buying myself an actual running shirt and actual running shorts at Target. I told myself that I could finally start considering myself a runner, though a beginner, and kind of out-of-shape.
Anyway, on the day of the race, it was certainly rainy, just as forecast, and though it wasn’t really cold in an absolute sense, it was cold to be in a short-sleeve shirt and shorts, with a breezy light rain ensuring adequate dampness. I shot the breeze a little with some other mildly-shivering runners, who explained that the course was pretty rough and full of bumps and cracks, and that you wanted to stay in the middle to avoid mud and sand and twisted ankles. Confirming this, the race announcer warned of potholes recently formed from the rain, and cautioned us all to stay safe and have fun.

Luckily, the rain stopped about 5 minutes before the actual start time, and I really couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The air was crisp and cool, and I was treated to beautiful views of downtown Los Angeles and Dodger stadium at the top of the Elysian Hills, about halfway through the course. I settled into a group of people at my pace after about the two mile point. By that time, everyone slower had yielded to walking and everyone faster was, well, faster than my conservative uphill pace. I met a few people… a veteran-sounding runner who briefed me on the views I should expect, a couple who would exchange some friendly trash-talking and rivalry between each other, a couple of boys who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old, a bride-to-be running with a wedding veil, with (I can only guess) her future bridesmaids, and some nice woman who kept my pace nearly the entire run (she was probably faster than me, but probably hampered by an ipod and clothing too-warm…I lost track of her in the last mile). During the last stretch, I happened upon a older woman (age 60, from the results) who sprinted with me towards the finish line.
It felt great to finish, and I seemed to have a ton of leftover energy. I think the clock read 1:04:36 when I passed the line, but the results show me at 1:04:10.

Race Results

You’ll find me in the race results with my name misspelled as “KANIEL” at a 10:21 mile pace. Honestly, I don’t know how I or the scantron could’ve messed up, but maybe that’s what I get for registering late. If you ran in this race and are looking for people to run with drop me a line (especially if you have a similar pace).
So there you have it. Ever since getting my magic running shoes (a gift, which seem to have nullified my historic knee pain from running), running’s been satisfying and fun. Maybe a marathon isn’t as out of reach as I thought (perhaps next year?).
(By the way, I continue to be inspired every time I think of the elderly lady (at least 70, probably at least 80) who jogged for at least the first two miles of the last 5K I did. The kid who wanted to run 200 miles for charity but ended up running 124 miles? I think he’s on another level.)

A random act of kindness

Last night, around 9 or 10pm, I went to the grocery store. As with other grocery store trips, I had my Palm PDA with me, ready to remind me what sorts of food and sundries I was needing at the time. Unfortunately for my wallet, I ended up with close to $60 in groceries, despite a careful effort to keep to things on sale. My shopping cart was reasonably burdened, yet not full, and it had the two-cupholders plus a handy tray to place a small purse, a stack of coupons, or various toys for a hypothetical child. I placed my PDA there, in that most convenient of places. It was a rather uneventful shopping trip, whose highlight was probably asking the friendly brown haired female bagger at the checkout if her eyes were naturally that color. I was referring to her nicely aquamarine ( a shade of blue) eyes, of course, and she replied that she got that question a lot, but no, her genes were not *that* good, and if I stopped by next month, they might be grey.

Again, a rather uneventful trip. I rolled the cart out to my car, loaded my trunk and wheeled the cart back to the store front (as any dutiful citizen would, when no cart corral was closer). Little did I know that the next day, today, I would be doing yet more cart wheeling and rolling, but with computing goods and with elevators. But, I digress.

It wasn’t until this morning when I looked at my backpack and, finding an open zipper and no PDA within, I wondered where my PDA was. I think it took about sixty seconds for my morning fatigue to be erased and converted to abject horror and acute anxiety. I searched throughout my apartment, but didn’t find it, which wasn’t surprising since I had no recollection of bringing it in from the car. I went to search the car, but returned empty handed, making sense since I had no recollection of taking it from the cart and placing it in the car. And as Sherlock Holmes would say, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In my case, the truth was unfortunately that I had left my PDA in the shopping cart at the front of the store for the next lucky customer to utilize.

Now, at this point, I was pretty pessimistic about the whole thing. My nice, shiny PDA was surely more attractive than the average find of leftover coupons normally found in used shopping carts. Sure, it had limited memory and functionality compared to those whizzy PocketPCs, but I for one found the applications more usable, despite having a mostly useless Bluetooth implementation, and a built-in 1-megapixel camera whose noisy sensor was only usably good for 640×480. Anyway, no one would’ve been the wiser (except an absent-minded me), so I honestly started thinking about what I could do about it, knowing that my PDA carried a lot of my most personal information, as all PDAs are designed to handle.

I resolved to go about my day and check the grocery store in the evening. It would’ve been better if I had remembered sooner, but quite honestly, if it’s there the next morning, it will still be there in the evening. So I went about my day, mostly with my head hung low, and if I were in an anime episode, my eyeballs would be blank white sockets and there would be a blue/black aura about me, perhaps with bobbing flames dancing mockingly around.

So, my day came and went, with some productivity here and there, taking delivery of more computing power than I really need (another story), and at the end of the day, I went back to the grocery. I went straight to the customer service area and asked the nice young woman there if anyone had turned in a PDA left in a shopping cart last night. She rooted through a particular cabinet for a moment, and then asked her manager, requesting that I wait for just a little longer. I, already accepting defeat, waited without further worry. Her manager came over and checked a “back room”, and a moment later, I had my PDA in my hand. This was a surprise, and a most pleasant of surprises. I’m sure that winning the lottery is also a pleasant surprise, but hey, dodging a bullet like this is also pretty nice indeed. My heart and my profuse gratitude go toward the kind soul(s) who turned it in to the store authorities. In fact, if you have ever turned in items that have appeared lost, and are wondering whether it was worth your trouble, I assure you, it was. The person who turned in my PDA has my lasting gratitude, and I’m sure that other item-losers (perhaps an unfortunately-worded term) are equally relieved and forever grateful to be reunited with their belongings. There’s no reason for random strangers to cover for mistakes by people like me… no reason but the goodness of the heart.

Experiences like this remind me that there really is goodness in the world. I should have faith in humanity. Good people do exist. News and media often remind us of the problems and badness of reality– hopefully, we should want to fix things rather than despair, lose hope, or find fascination in the lurid– but look here. There is good in the world, and here is an example. Maybe it will do good to celebrate goodness rather than to decry badness.

Anyway, thanks for reading this rather long, and perhaps self-indulgent blog entry. Have a nice day. 🙂

ICQ Spam sucks

ICQ seems like to be the most spam friendly of all the instant-messaging services. Still, the spamminess has never been a real problem for me. Until now.

It started earlier this month(March). I got a random message from some random person.

him/her: “hello”
me: “do i know you”
him/her: “no,are you busy now,can we just chat”
me: “I’m not really in the mood to chat with strangers right now. Sorry about that.”
him/her: “o ,I’m so sorry for that,if you are happy one day ,maybe we can chat,”

Uh… right. A quick search on ICQ for the source number revealed that the user was a 20-something female from China, but who knows. After that, I started receiving similar messages: “hello”, or “hi”, whose profiles also pointed at China. That lasted about a week, and now I get messages seemingly from Germany or Russia. The first batch had profiles with “lifelike” names, but everything’s degenerated into spam. So far, I think I’ve gotten pr0n links, Rolex watches, Nigerian spam, and random “21-year old blondes”. I imagine mortgage refinancing and viagra/cialis spam are coming soon as well.

What’s going on? I do know that I’m not alone.

Technorati Search: icq spam
Irritated ICQer #1
Irritated ICQer #2
Trillian complaint thread

I use gaim for my IM needs, and it annoys me that I these ICQ “buddy list authorizations”, which are allowed to contain arbitrary messages (like spam) come up constantly.

My main reason for posting is that I don’t really understand the sudden increase in spam. Did someone release a new ICQ spamming tool? Did ICQ roll out a new “random chat” feature? It’s rather odd that these strangers always seem to come from international non-US sources.

Here is the “Nigerian” ICQ spam I got in an authorization message:
Hello. I am Steve Casey, general manager of the international company Le-Trans, and I have a wonderful offer for you.

We render services to companies that have international trade. These services consist of the reception of payments from the clients of the various companies when the client and the company are in the different countries. We save money for the companies by eliminating the expensive bank commission for international transactions. Only the small commissions for transactions between two banks inside one country are paid.

Anyway, to whoever keeps sending me stuff, please stop. That means you, Steve Casey.

(Comments are closed since this page seems to attract lots of spam.)

Author sides with Google against her publisher

I’m all for the indexing of books in print. I want to assure the publishers that I will still buy books(if not even moreso), if/when Google Print gets its way.

But read this first. It’s about an author who wants Google Print to index her book so that more people will find her book. Unfortunately, her publisher against it, and rather decided to sue Google instead.

Book author to her publishing company: your lawsuit is not helping me or my book (

It’s interesting. Go read it (well, the article, then you can consider the book).

Please allow me to conclude with my own experience with print and digital literature. I like reading. I always have, but I admit that it sometimes falls by the wayside when I feel stressfully busy. Still, I do like to think of myself as an active reader. To make things concrete, I’m in the middle of Merton’s “No Man is an Island,” Dorfman’s “The Empire’s Old Clothes,” Wong’s “Fifth Chinese Daughter,” and Wells’ “The Invisible Man.” The last of these, I read on my PDA. Ooooh. Digital book. I didn’t pay money for a print edition. Uh-oh. But of the others, one is from the library, and I *did* pay for the others. Would I have paid money for them if they were available free? Maybe. I still buy books that I really should borrow from the library– I doubt anyone has space to store all the books one has read. I could if they were digital, but I do like reading from print rather than screen. I have no idea how digital paper would change things, but right now, I find it much more pleasant to read a book and flip pages. I only read on the PDA because it can go *everywhere* with me.

I also fully support the complete digitization of all books or media out of copyright or in the public domain. Indexing of current works seems fine, too. Instead of the hassle of tricking Google into revealing the book, it might be faster to just scan/photocopy a library’s copy. I side with Google in believing that indexing will surely help book sales. I also believe that copyright terms are already longer than they need to be. If the work has so much lasting appeal, let it one day be free to benefit the public. The author has had ample time to receive her reward, so why not?

This also reminds me of how I have this pop CD I bought when it was cool 5 years ago, and I accidentally damaged it recently, and it’s out of print, so I *can’t* get a replacement copy. Since the CD price has nothing to do with media cost, I *should* be able to get another one minimal cost. But I can’t. Hey, I have a license, what gives? Is the distribution the cost? Then I also wonder how those pirates in China can turn a profit if they pay for production and distribution while charging a dollar a piece.


It’s a mad, mad world.

It’s good to bake bread

As some of you may know, my latest cooking interest is bread. Inspired by the Food network and such anime as Yakitate Japan, my epic adventures began with my trusty copy of Joy of Cooking. I started with “White bread”.

It was exciting. Words cannot describe the abject wonder I beheld before my eyes. It was my first yeast bread, and the fluffiness and mystical yeast-powered rise felt like a magic trick that I would love repeating. I had the same feeling the first time I processed my first roll of black and white film. In hindsight, I didn’t knead the dough long enough, and was too impatient for the last rise, so the bread ended up being a little dense and the structure a little too fine. Anyway, I’ve baked several times since then.

I made the above loaf with whole wheat flour, so I could pretend to be all healthy and “artisan-like”. I used 5 cups of whole wheat and 1 cup of all-purpose, if memory serves. This bread was reasonably flavorful, but I think the heaviness of the whole-wheat flour prevented the dough from developing a higher rise, so it was somewhat dense too (though not as dense as the first loaf). I used the same recipe as “white bread”, with just the flour substitution.

The above loaf was done with a recipe taken from the very same inspiring anime. This was the “easy” recipe that” even the producers of the show” could handle. The strange thing about this recipe is that it’s baked in a rice cooker. Again, I used the whole wheat flour, and the result was crusty, but moist. Again, I was a little impatient and the final rise was a little short.

I’ve baked other loaves too… but I only *occassionally* feel the need to take pictures. You might feel that I already have too many pictures, but this is my blog, isn’t it? 😉

This is my latest bread “creation”. It’s the challah recipe in Joy of Cooking, with 50% whole wheat flour. The loaves don’t look as richly golden as I had hoped, but my oh my, the taste is good. You can see that the loaves are a little squashed and the braids aren’t as round as they should be, and I’m not really sure why. I do know that the dough was pretty sticky even after I finished kneading, but I did knead as long as I was supposed to, and it was indeed pretty elastic. The texture this time is the best I’ve ever done. It’s smooth, moist, and elastic. The crust is nice and crispy but not like the tough armor that many “artisan” breads have. It is that tough baked cladding that I never want in my bread, since it tends to hurt my gums when I bite in.

Anyway, do let me know if you have any tips. I’d like to bake alongside someone who is actually *good* at making bread, so I know where to adjust my technique.


Useless Politics Test

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve taken this online quiz already, but here it is anyway. It’s somewhat troubling that I reside near Adam Sandler on the axis, but what the hey…

You are a Social Liberal (60% permissive)

and an… Economic Conservative (60% permissive)

You are best described as a:Centrist

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

I know what you’re thinking. The pretty graphs are nice, but ultimately a waste of space, so why post them? I don’t know. Eye candy? Filler? Anyway, I think it’d be cool to plot my position on the socioeconomic axes versus time. What periods in my life constitute the greatest change? Do I shift along one axis at a time, or is it more fluid? No, this won’t motivate me to take more silly tests…

Open Heart Surgery Flash Game

Happy Friday! If you’re looking to take a break from work, try this Virtual Open Heart Surgery flash game. It walks you through a simplified procedure, being very forgiving at the “intern” level. The “surgeon” and the “specialist” levels both seem harder, with shorter time limits, and fewer hints (no dotted lines to guide incisions, etc.). On those levels, the patient might die from your mistakes, making you restart the game (not possible in real life).

(found linked from )

Clip of Steve Ballmer going wild

I’m sure many of you have seen this, but I hadn’t.

dancemonkeyboy.mpg Video of Steve Ballmer going wild

[bio of Steve Ballmer on wikipedia

Have fun. 🙂

Anyone good with Ethereal?

A couple of months ago, our organization’s network was hit by… something. I couldn’t really tell if it was a DOS attack or “just” a rapidly spreading virus. All I knew was that my DHCP requests were barely getting through, and all other traffic seemed to be being dropped. The cheap ethernet switch I had its activity lights flickering faster than I had ever seen, and for all ports (broadcast packets?).

This made me pretty disgruntled with our network ops(shouldn’t this be stopped at the WAN router), but I didn’t think whining about it would do any good. So I fired up Knoppix, since it has Ethereal built-in, and I obviously didn’t have the connectivity to download a port of it otherwise.

Mind you, I’ve never used Ethereal before, but it seemed like a good chance to play with it. So I had it gather a couple of traces off the network. FYI, 30 second traces were weighing in at around 13MB, so, do the math, and you can get a feel for how much junk was coming through my 10Mbps link. Anyway, I didn’t make a whole lot of sense of it, but if anyone wants to take a peek at one of the traces and email/post-a-comment, s/he is welcome to it.

Download Ethereal trace (.zip)

Because of spam considerations, if you wish to email me, please do through the “Contact Daniel” link on the blog’s main page. Thanks.

How to fold a dollar as a shirt

This is actually rather amusing.
[Origami for dollar bills]:

[The Shirt]: reminds me of the website I saw for [how-to-fold-a-shirt]: which was also rather fun, and useful, except that if I fold shirts my size like that, they take up more space in my drawers.

Anyway, there are other designs, like boots, bow ties, fans, gift boxes, and other objects of fancy, so you can impress people at parties. It might even be a neat way to tip your bartender or sushi chef. 🙂


(In case you’re wondering, I get a lot of random links like this from [The Morning News]: )