The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

September 23, 2010

Not Exactly a Walk in the Park

Filed under: Random Stuff, Technology — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 8:30 pm

Like a lot of people who I know, I do have to admit that I could probably use to lose a few pounds.  It’s not that I’m necessarily out of shape or anything like that, but working in a profession that involves a whole lot of sitting down at a computer all day, I probably don’t get as much exercise as I should all the time.  For the most part, the exercise that I do get comes from taking walks around the neighborhood.  When you start getting around by walking, Downtown Bellevue gets to be bigger than you might think.  Even what would seem to be a relatively short walk from my apartment to Bellevue Square and back is good for at least a mile and a half round trip, and adding a stroll through the mall or a lap around the trail in the middle of Downtown Park is usually good for adding at least another half mile or so.  Even so, I don’t always have time to go out walking, and with the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder I expect I’ll have to turn to other sources for daily exercise.  The exercise room in the building is one option, and a 15-minute session on an elliptical trainer can be good way to burn off 250-300 calories pretty quickly (which doesn’t do much good if there’s Little Debbie snack cakes in the house, but that’s another post for another time) but the main problem with that is that it’s mind-numbingly boring.  Of course, with this place being a reasonably fancy apartment complex, the exercise machines we have here are the fancy ones with all the bells and whistles including the built-in TV screens, but thanks to Comcast’s elimination of most of the analog cable channels there’s pretty much only local channels to watch anyway, which by the time I generally get around to exercising means I usually end up with either late night talk shows or infomercials.  So far I’ve just been switching over to the stat display and trying not to pay too much attention, but there’s no getting around the fact that without some sort of distraction exercising gets just a tad boring.

In theory I should be able to rectify this situation with one of the various gadgets I have sitting around, and I’ve been messing around with this, and finding that this doesn’t work quite as well as I’d like it to.  Sure the iPad has a nice big screen that would be ideal for the purpose (and the elliptical trainer even has a nice little spot for it) but there’s the pesky matter of getting stuff onto it that I haven’t quite figured out.  As you might recall if you’ve been reading this Blog for a while, earlier this year I somehow managed to turn a combination of warranty voiding, shotgun debugging, a fair bit of failing to acknowledge the elephant in the proverbial room (in this case, a failing power supply) and a completely unnecessary electrical shock or two into an upgraded Tivo with space for over 140 hours of HD programming.  If I had some method of getting the stuff off the Tivo I’d have plenty of content (read:  All sorts of crud I probably won’t ever watch but my Tivo insists on recording the stuff anyway,) but all the downloading and converting stuff is just a pain to deal with. 

As someone who probably has way too many gadgets for his own good though, I do have other solutions to the problem… Sort of.   It seems that fancy new Android phone I picked up a few months ago is supposed to be able to download stuff off YouTube pretty well, and with the 4G turned on it actually does do a pretty good job pulling random cat videos out of thin air should the need for such things arise.  The only problem with that is that with the 10-minute restriction on place on most YouTube clips, finding something to watch without having to spend half the workout time tinkering with things is a bit of a pain, to be perfectly honest.  In the end, the whole thing is barely worth the hassle, which leaves pretty much one thing:  Staring at the timer, thinking you’ve only got eight and a half more minutes of this (plus two minutes cooldown) left before you’re done with this. 

I know it’s kind of cliché to say that there’s got to be a better way of doing this, but, well…  There’s got to be a better way of doing this.  Maybe.  At least I’ve bot a pretty good idea now of how living rooms get cluttered up with disused exercise machines.

December 29, 2007

Tiny Bubbles in Huge Quantities

Filed under: shopping — Tags: , , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:50 pm

(Note:  This article is crossposted from

While some stores are busy with their huge after-Christmas blowout sales, other stores have swiftly removed all traces of the now lapsed holiday from the store. At the local Costco, the shelves full of holiday decorations (mostly the stuff you’d probably need a bigger yard to accomodate) had disappeared without a trace from the warehouse. Aside from some leftover toys piled up on shelves in the back, there wasn’t any sign that a major holiday which results in massive consumer spending just happened. This is somewhat understandable, given the fact that the stuff has been hanging around since September and they were probably getting sick of it.  In the place of the Christmas stuff, preparations have been made to catch the next opportunity to sell big ticket items to the well-intentioned:

Just in time for New Years Resolutions, a variety of exercise machines are on offer.  Throughout my childhood, a fair number of these devices took up relatively brief residence in the household. I can recall several stationary bikes, a couple of treadmills, and even a full-sized home gym (which forced the relocation of our well-stocked den/computer room to the dining room of all places) showing up at various times. At first, they would see at least somewhat regular use, but over time, they would eventually end up buried up under piles of unfolded clean laundry or other detritus, amd would eventually find their way out to the garage until they could be foisted off on an unwitting relative. No matter how many times it happens, the cycle seems ro repeat itself eventually. (Incidentally, if anyone happens to need a home gym, I could probably find you one really cheap, as long as you’re willing to haul it off…)

Elsewhere in the warehouse, other preparations for the New Year were being made, including a sizeable display of various champagnes and other sparkling wines (you can’t call it “Champagne” unless it comes from that particular region of France, according to EU regulations.) For years, these wineries have taken great pains to build up a reputation of prestige and exclusivity for their products. Then something like this comes along and wrecks the whole thing:

I’m sure that you wouldn’t have to go back too many years to find a time when practically EVERYONE would have been appalled by that particular scene for one reason or another. You can put away the guillotine though, because the Dom Pérignon brand of Champagne was not introduced until 1936, more than 200 years after the actual Dom Pérignon’s death in 1715. Nonetheless, one might be tempted to say that the Dom himself would be rolling in his grave, but his Wikipedia entry seems to suggest that his role in the development of sparkling wines is often exaggarated. In fact, back in those days the refermentation of wine that resulted in carbonation was considered to be a defect to be avoided, mostly due to its tendency to cause the bottles to explode, sometimes setting off chain reactions and presenting considerable risk to those who worked in the wine cellars.

Of course, even at wholesale prices, Dom Pérignon is still horrendously expensive for most of us at nearly $120 a bottle. Perhaps if you’re looking for something a bit more Bourgeoisie friendly, how about Kirkland Signature champagne? As strange as that may sound, According to their website the stuff is real Methode Champenoise produced champagne from France, compliant with all the EU Protected Designation of Origin regulations. In other words, the stuff ain’t Two-buck Chuck (or Three-Buck Chuck, depending on the taxation wherever you happen to live.) On the other hand, it’s still $20 a bottle, so I don’t think we’re going to be seeing the stuff in the local 7-Eleven anytime soon either.

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