Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Funhouse

I really have nothing exciting to report. We've been toiling away with the landscaping ("weeding" sounds so much better if you call it "landscaping") and that's about it. There is not much new in the house, not much about sport, and no real changes in the garage.

I did find myself lacing up my running shoes last Friday. I'd traced out a route on from my front door, up the hill, around the block basically, for 2.38 miles. The first two minutes were pretty fun. The rest was, um, interesting. I tried to keep my heart rate down by slowing, but unlike cycling, you just can't coast. Who knew? I arrived back home in a little less than 20 minutes, felt a little shaky like I'd had a good workout, then stretched and cooled down.

It's now a week later and my knees have almost stopped hurting now, and I'm ready for run number two. At this rate, I'm planning on doing my first marathon in 2073.

So what really prompted me to make this post is some great fun I just had at work. This might not translate well outside the system admin realm, but hopefully you'll find a little humor in it. I've changed the names and generalized some terms to protect the guilty and to keep our choice of applications private.

Karen comes running into my office waving her arms in full panic mode, "What's wrong with the server? I can't connect to the server!"

Mind you, this is the server running our general ledger, property control, purchasing stuff, some financials, etc. It's pretty big, and it being down meant a hundred people or so sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

"Geez, I don't know. Hold on." I tried to log in. Sure enough, no dice. I tried to ping it. No response. "Yup, you're right. It's off the air." This was indeed odd. It's one of many servers plugged into a UPS, so power doesn't just disappear. There are very few things that could have taken it down without some trace of what happened.

"What do you mean, 'off the air'? What's wrong with it?"

"I don't know yet." I picked up the phone and dialed Operations, hoping that this problem wouldn't keep me too late on a Friday afternoon.

"Operations, Jim speaking."

"Hi Jim," I said, "Would you please do me a favor and look for any messages on the Finance server console? I think it might be down."

"Yeah," Jim replied, "Karen had me reboot it."

Well, this sure is odd. Jim's telling me Karen told him to reboot the server, and here she is in my office panicking.

"What did you say?" I wanted to make sure I'd heard right.

"Karen had me reboot it. I called her and told her I couldn't get into the Finance application, and she told me to reboot."

At this point, I just broke out laughing. Belly laughing. Right into the phone. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be laughing. Jim, I'm pretty sure she meant to reboot your PC."


The server came back up without any problems, all applications started, mirrored volumes resynched, no corruption on the database. It's pretty lucky considering it'd been brought down hard with a quick flick of the power switch.

So Karen learned to be more explicit in her directions to our Operations staff, Jim learned (hopefully) to call me to double-check before pressing power buttons on my servers, and I had the best laugh I've had in a long time.

Monday, May 07, 2007

37 Watts and a Couple Inches

Those of you who've been reading along know that this spring has brought a change for me. Usually, I'd be frantically getting in the miles, ramping up the intensity, and carefully planning my spring campaign with thoughts towards the big summer races.

Instead, I've spent time at the local gym lifting heavy objects and playing volleyball. I rediscovered my love for volleyball late last fall, and I also discovered that many years of cycling had made me strong on the bike but weak off it. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting some feeling of muscular balance back with some running, lifting, jumping, etc. all while still getting on the bike once or twice a week for some long rides to try to stay in touch. Combine my lack of racing fitness with the few kilos I've put on, and my bike rides have felt slow and heavy.

I had an interesting and encouraging surprise on a leisurely ride in beautiful but breezy conditions on Friday. I took off early from work and hit the roads with Sue and friends for a hilly 55 miles at a conversational pace. Part of the fun of a ride like this is watching carefully for town lines and then playing cat and mouse games sprinting for them.

The first town line came into sight and Sue jumped for it. She and I had rolled off the front of our little group after a red light and had quite a gap on the two behind. I sprinted up along side Sue trying to taunt/encourage her into going faster when suddenly our friend Jeff came rocketing by to take the sprint. The game was on.

Just a couple miles later, the second town line appeared on a long, flat, straight road. I slowly rolled off the front and looked back. Jeff jumped from behind to close the gap and I stood and cranked up to speed and got away for the line. Just for kicks, I checked my max wattage on the PowerTap. It read 1259. 1259?

I raced and trained all last year with the PowerTap and the maximum wattage I'd ever seen was 1222 during the Syracuse downtown street sprints. Now, out of shape, leisurely riding with friends, I'd casually jumped for a town line sprint and bested my max wattage ever recorded by 37 watts. Maybe there's something to this muscle balance thing besides just feeling good.

Related to the sprint, I've also gained a couple inches on my vertical leap. It's been over fifteen years since the last time I was able to touch a basketball rim, but it's getting tantalizingly close now and I think it'll come soon. In my younger days before cycling, I always seemed to do better at the fast twitch sports than the endurance ones, and I think I might be getting some of that back. My lightweight hill climbing days in long road races might be passing me by, but maybe there's hope for a future of some success in a few crits now and again.

See you on the road... or in the gym... or on the court...