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Second Full Week – I'm Pumped!

Capped off a good week of workouts, despite work travel. Managed to get into week 4 of Couch to 5K. This is a great program built around intervals: Starting easy with 60 second run followed by 90-second walk. Each day, progressing gradually to 5-min run with 2.5 min walk.
So today I graduated myself from the C25K program and joined our group run for 3 miles. I’m now using MapMyRun, which is a big data app run by one of my customers – UnderArmour. I’m contributing to the tech I help facilitate which seems rather odd, but rewarding. 😉 The cool thing is that it maps directly to MapMyFitness, which tracks calories. How refreshing to have this tech work seamlessly! I’m pleased…

On our long run, we also did intervals – 2min run to 1min walk. Met the rest of the team in Ohio CCFA, and am VERY impressed by this organization! Great people who have been impacted by IBD for between 8 and 45 years. Really reinfo rces my commitment.
I’m committing to the half-marathon which is a long 13.1Mile slog. I think I’ve got this. Some people drop back to the 10k so that’s an option but I’m optimistic about my ability to make it.
Thinking about Andrew and those who suffer from Crohn’s. It’s a long series of intervals for them too! Periods of healthy activity followed by poor health until the treatment cycles in. And if a flare pops up it throws the whole cycle into jeopardy.
It’s estimated that Crohn’s and Colitis affect 1.6 million Americans, most of whom are diagnosed before age 35. We can drive research dollars to help wipe out these horrible diseases.

Thanks again for your sponsorship! Please donate for one of three reasons:
1. To help those with Crohn’s or Colitis
2. Watch me drag my sorry self 13.1 miles in February
3. A combination of both!
I’ll keep you posted here with weekly updates. Feeling good and looking forward to another great week of training!

Originally posted at CCFA site by Eric Thorsen on Sun, Dec 04, 2016 @ 7:37 PM
Cross posted here after successful completion of the race

First full week and LONG RUN

I’m using Couch-to-5K to get ramped up and just finished my first full week. Rather than skip a day, I ran each day of the program on each day, taking one day off. It worked out pretty well and I felt challenged but capable during each workout.

The app has matured since I last used it and I love the audio cues to walk/run/etc. and really like the graphical tracking of pace, distance, and workouts over time.
Today was my long run, so I went off schedule and just ran as long as I could on the same route, walking when necessary. Total distance was 3 miles, and total time was 45 mins. Nothing to write home about, but a good baseline to measure against going forward!
Crohn’s is an expensive disease. In a 2008 study, direct medical costs were $18,022 to $18,932 per patient per year in the United States. About 53 to 67 percent of those costs were from hospitalizations.
The cause of Crohn’s is undetermined, but with enough research we can learn more. I’m looking forward to driving research forward and am anxious to reach a breakthrough in my son Andrew’s lifetime.
THANK YOU for your support! I’ll keep you posted on this weeks’ progress!

Originally posted at CCFA site by Eric Thorsen on Sat, Nov 26, 2016 @ 7:30 PM
Cross posted here after successful completion of the race

Training begins

So it begins… I missed the organization meeting last month and spoke to the organizers last week. I still have time to train for a half-marathon! I’m on day-four of “Couch to 5K” which does a nice job of pacing me through walking and running – one minute run, followed by 90 seconds of walk.

I should be past newbie stage by next week and will join the team runs on Saturday mornings, and able to ramp up my daily runs to more miles.
This is a great program since there is a coach to help ramp up to goal levels and get into shape by race-time!
I have run in the past – I used to run the Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon, so my top mileage was 9.3 miles. I think with the time I have prior to Feb, I should be able to complete the half!
Thanks for your donations and I’ll keep you updated here.

I learned about Crohns two years ago when my son was diagnosed. He is currently under treatment and doing well, thankfully. It rocked my world to see the impact these diseases have! I have decided to make a difference in the fight against Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.  On February 5, 2017 I will participate in the New Orleans 1/2 Marathon to show my commitment. Believe me, hauling this old body 13.1 miles is a big undertaking! But it will all be worth it because your donations will not only motivate me to the finish, but they will help us get closer to the cure.  Won’t you please consider a donation today?
I’m impressed by this charity. I did some research and found CCFA received 87.25% financial score, and 96% transparency score. I’m confident donating my money and my time to this cause, and you will get tax recognition as a 501(c)3 organization. Contribute now and I’ll keep you posted on my training status through weekly blog updates here on this site. I’m looking forward to crossing the finish line in February with a significant impact to Crohns and Colitis research!


Originally posted at CCFA site by Eric Thorsen on Mon, Nov 21, 2016 @ 3:46 PM
Cross posted here after successful completion of the race

Travel, Power, New Wall, and a Mystery

I’m on a business trip overseas. I planned everything, and was quite proud to be able to travel with just a carry-on suitcase. Everything fit! That includes clothes for a full stay, including what’s needed for my presentation, shoes, toiletries, you know the drill. Even some casual duds to wear as I consult my Rick Steve’s book to explore the surroundings.20160411_161533_resized

It’s mid-day, I’m between meetings and my laptop is nearly out of juice. Imagine my dismay when the power adapter I so thoughtfully included in my gear didn’t fit the plug. Just as I manage to update a few more slides in my presentation, the laptop goes dark. Good night, work.

Time to head down to the hotel lobby to see about my options. Walking to the elevator, I pass two busy workmen unwrapping new desk chairs. There are probably 20 chairs, and it’s hard to navigate my way to the elevator. Must be new chairs for the rooms. They’re nice. Leather, tan color, looks like plenty of adjustment knobs… The guys don’t even look up. The chairs are wrapped with cellophane, and it takes concentration to untangle them. The elevator arrives, fully loaded with chairs which will take some time to unload. I take the stairs. I’m a few floors up, but the lobby isn’t on the first floor. First floor is more rooms. I keep going.

Easy task. They clearly are prepared for travelers like me. For a five Euro deposit, I have an adapter for the week. The lobby is warm, cheerful, and ripe for people watching so I sit down to finish my work. The accents are awesome. I hear dialects from the UK, some from the continent, and who knows where else. A woman behind me has a musical voice. It is quite animated as she describes her latest saga. She shares details I don’t completely catch but clearly manages to hit a high C during the telling.

The lobby is being replaced. Not upgraded, literally replaced. As I am there, workers erect a floor-to-ceiling wall behind a counter with computers. At least five attendants wait behind the counter, checking in arrivals, answering questions, and providing adapters to clueless guests. Behind them is this new wall, obscuring the former check-in area. During the short time I am there, the wall is completed, artwork and a mirror are hung, and there is no sign of the original area. A large two-door entryway provides access for the workers who I’m sure will demolish the old area. The attendants are all smiles as if new walls and changing locations like this happen all the time.

Periodically I notice a load of chairs wheel through the lobby and get staged for the next elevator. It takes time to arrange the chairs so they fit. Each elevator can take about eight chairs at a time . Skills like working jigsaw puzzles are probably helpful. Periodically I also notice a guest appear from the stairwell. The guest is generally perplexed and a bit out of breath. Perhaps I looked like that, whether due to the stairs, or the missing adapter. While there are three elevators, they are all in service for the renovation. The back door is open where the chairs come from. Cold air drafts through and gradually battles the heater next to me. The room starts to get colder as I notice the light goes out. The sing-song story teller is plugging in her phone and needs to unplug the lamp. She sings a short tune of “Sorry Love, need to plug in me phone.” It’s a little darker, but not significantly. No need for light, I’m by a window.

I hear a short hum. Not a long drone, a short hum. It is a hum, no other word will work. Unique enough to catch your attention, but nothing that sounds familiar. Traffic is light, nothing passing outside could make the noise. It happens again, from behind me. The workers are busy, and the hotel-workers don’t notice it. I ignore it and get back to work.

The laptop is powering gracefully now. Originally at 6% when I plugged it in, now slowly inching its way up through double digits. Nothing breeds confidence like a steadily charging battery. Onward and upward to full capacity! There’s that hum again.

M20160411_164606_resizedy work completed, and crowds dissipating, I consider my next venue. The concert conversationalist is solo now, her phone benefiting from the lamp’s power source. She’s the hummer! With nobody to sing to, she hums. But like I said, it’s not a hum. One note, the same note, probably on average once every 20 seconds. I turn around and she is leaning comfortably in a chair, her face obscured by a crossword puzzle. As I notice, she fills out a word and hums. Mystery solved!

The chairs have stopped and I smell cigarette smoke. Must be break time out back. With the door still open, it’s cold, smells bad, and I have to get away from the crossword hummer. Unplugging my laptop, I ensure that I take the adapter, and plug the lamp back into the wall.

Back up to the room, via the stairs. As I arrive at my floor, a worker glances expectantly at me. I’m not the guy, so he looks back down at an orderly collection of chairs and a pile of cellophane. Behind me I hear somebody else coming up. Must be the guy. I walk to my room, plug in the laptop, and have a seat.

Yes, I’m sitting in a brand new chair. It’s leather, tan-color, and no sign of cellophane anywhere!



Musings on Music, and Joni Mitchell's page online

I like all music. Seriously. I’ll listen to anything. Rock, Pop, Classical, Country, Jazz. I listened to some Ska on advice from a friend a number of years ago. He was also a music fan, with a background in liberal arts. We talked about music a lot. He liked Ska so I gave it a listen. Not bad. Makes you feel like you’re in the islands!

All music has its fit. Classical is awesome for soothing support for hectic schedules. Listen to it for the calming nature, but yet respect the underlying logic. Classical follows predictable patterns, which helps when trying to figure out puzzling projects. Most of the enjoyment of music is determining the fit. Rock for parties, Pop for driving, Country at the pool. Opera when making pasta. Death Metal when you have to mow the lawn? You figure it out…

Jazz is my favorite., which I’ve linked to on this page is my go-to, because they play such great tunes. While the standard sirius/XM station RealJazz gets most attention, it’s too  heavy on classic bebop for me. While I love that genre, Jazz24 mixes it up with old standards, interesting covers, and new artists playing in the classic bebop style. I heard Robin McKelle cover Abracadabra by the Steve Miller Band – you won’t hear that on RealJazz. What inspired me to write this blog, however, was Robert Glasper covering Joni Mitchell’s Barangrill

So you know how it works. You follow a thread and it leads you to an enlightening. Much of the web is built to support this level of search. Links after links after links. Use the back button if you need to, but follow the link. I like Glasper’s stuff, wanted to hear Joni Mitchell’s recording, loved the lyrics, and wanted to read them. Click after click, gets me to the poetry of Joni Mitchell:

And you think she knows something
By the second refill
You think she’s enlightened
As she totals your bill
You say “show me the way
To Barangrill”

Joni’s web site is incredible! Full lyrics are there, with links to Guitar tabs, and standard chords. Read the song, download the chords, and play the song! Full discography as well. Where did Joni publish the tune, and who has covered it. Naturally, Glasper is listed in that link. Footnotes show musings from Joni. On Bargangrill, she introduced the song at Temple University in 1974. Full transcription by somebody in attendance and published here.

Kudos to this level of curation of the music, the history, and the story around it. I would love to see more artists celebrate their work this way. Check it out and follow the thread where it leads you. you can start here





Chuck P's advice on "thought verbs"

Periodically I return to this blog (Thought Verbs) by Chuck Palahniuk. It’s an impressive post that discusses the power of writing, where you empower the reader to come to the same conclusion.

Rather than indicate what your subject is thinking, describe the situation so that the reader feels their exact thoughts. This is a powerful way to embrace the reader, and involve them in the story. Clearly it is effective for Chuck, as evidenced by the compelling books I’ve read of his.

I’d like to spend some time with this and apply it to some thought verbs. Not as daunting to exercise this on a dialog or small scene. Less overwhelming than coming up with an entire plot, scenario, or book design. I share it with you now because of its true power and impact on writing in general.

Just discovered

So on my favorite music device in the house (Sonos) I have always enjoyed a blend of music, from classic rock to the latest pop, mixed in with some classical music while I read the papers on Sunday. But interweaving it all is my love for jazz. I like SiriusXM channel 67 “Real Jazz” but it can veer off from the classic bebop to some obscure funk from time to time.

I just found my dream channel on a music service –, which is a live stream of KPLU in the Seattle/Tacoma region. I’ve been listening all day, between conference calls for work, busy tasks like expenses, bills, and follow ups from said calls, and after work through making dinner and eating with my family.

I can’t get enough of this channel.

  • A nice blend of traditional bebop jazz, including Horace Silver, Paul Desmond, and Billie Holiday
  • Some bossa nova Jobim
  • Forward-thinking Diana Krall
  • Classic organ-izing from Joey deFrancisco

I’ve added it to my Sonos favorites, and am trying to figure out how to get a stream downloaded for offline listening on my Android phone.

It’s rare that I listen to a single source for so long, but this station’s focus on artists, themes, and the pure essence of improvisational jazz without “getting weird” has captured me as a fan!

If you are fortunate enough to live in the area and listen live, please do so. If not, please check them out online or through your favorite music dispenser. 😉


Machine Learning impact on humans

Just listened to an interesting Ted Talk by Jeremy Howard in Brussels which led me to view the Tedx talk in SF 

Things I loved:

  • Machine Learning is a fascinating field
  • In 2011, an algorithm was created that had better recognition of stop signs than humans
  • Similarities of Machine Learning to the Industrial Revolution, but not exact comparison
  • Opportunity to predict continued evolution and focus on quality of life – using the ‘good’ not fearing the ‘bad’
  • LOVED the demo of the auto recognition – and the learning ability to sort fronts from backs of cars

If the learning curve (pardon the pun) of machine learning is truly exponential when compared to the linear curve of the industrial revolution, we indeed need to address how humans and machines contribute to society.

Income tax and labor fees no longer apply. Should government fees that are used to make our lives safer and easier (public services, roads and infrastructure) be applied to machines? How will upkeep and continued positive contribution by machines be assessed and managed?

Simply with what is already released, this could be commercialized into short-term machine learning innovations that will make our lives safer and more pleasant.

It’s simple to imagine forward-facing cameras on cars. Identify stop signs and warn driver if speed is high when approaching a stop sign. The upgrade path here is obvious: red lights, crossing pedestrians, bicyclists, oncoming traffic, etc. Key issues will be what is the reaction –  the device should simply alert the driver in the short term. Later the insurance industry will begin offering financial incentive to tie reactions to automatic braking.