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I read a tidbit in Bicycling magazine entitled 5 Things You Should Have In Your Car obvious stuff, really.  It reminded me that I wanted to write about one of my experiments/resolutions last year. I decided (maybe this idea spawned ...

I like my Garmin Forerunner 305 but the call of a new tech gadget is strong! I’ve been eyeing the Garmin Edge 705 for a while now but the price has been an issue. Garmin recently announced the Edge 500 which looks to be more inline with what I want. I don’t often (never?) need mapping when on my bike. Kind of a nice-to-have that would probably be wasted and never used.


Here is a VERY in depth review of the Edge 500 from a guy who apparently owns almost every sports product that Garmin makes! It’s awesome to get his perspective!

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My friend John and I (yeah everyone else bailed on us and it was such a nice day for a ride. High 40s minimal rain. It does not get any better in January in Washington people!) rode 30 miles (out-back on the FootHills trail between Puyallup and South Prairie).

We started at 8AM and rode at a pretty mild pace through 10 miles... then John pulled away for the last five miles. When we finally met up at the espresso stand --- I was three minutes behind him.

We stayed entirely too long at the espresso stand after we met some awesome people. Three ladies, two of whom are trainers at LA Fitness, and one of their husbands. Three of them are cyclists and all are currently training for the Big Climb (aka the Columbia Tower stair climb). It was nice to share some fitness and nutrition talk with our new friends.

After the shivering started we hopped back on our bikes and headed back to Puyallup. We stayed together for 10 miles and once again John pulled away for the last 5 miles! That boy was on FIRE!

I was cooked. I had nothing left in the tank.  My legs were dead so I couldn’t pump a high gear, my lungs were dead so I couldn’t keep up a high cadence. I was maxed out and I just couldn't keep up! I was still seeing 16 to 18MPH over the last few miles which in all honesty I feel pretty good about with this being January.

I pulled into the parking lot at 1:56. John's time was 1:50. Yep 6 minutes... John KICKED MY ARSE! No excuses, other than he is in great shape!


Kudos! Congratulations! Seriously an inspiration brother!!!
Keep it up... I've got something to fight for now!


Here are the ride details at Garmin Connect.

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Several people have asked me for a list of the supplements that I use. Well here is that list. My definition of supplement is anything I take or use that isn’t real/whole food. I try whenever possible to eat healthy whole foods but in this busy world it is impossible to eat right 100% of the time so I supplement with a great multi vitamin, EFAs, joint health compound and protein drinks and protein bars.


Multi Vitamin/Supplement
NSI Synergy 3 Men’s Multi Vitamin – yes six per day three morning, three evening. Great vitamin mineral supplement for men. Includes many extras like; acetyl-L-carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid (articles and studies show that these two compounds when taken together can improve cellular health) and Resveratol (which apparently really hasn’t been proven to do squat in humans despite the claims that red wine is so very good for you).


Joint Health
Glucosamine and Chondroitin – joint health is pretty important. If you’re injured you can’t work out.


Essential Fatty Acids
Take EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids – Omega 3, 6, 9) – joint health, artery health. Google for hte bennefits.


Protein Drinks
General use
: 100% Gold Standard Whey I highly recommend the Cake Batter and Carmel Toffee Fudge flavors! Yummy! I use this as a between meal snacks… sometimes mixing with 1% milk, usually mixing with water.

Before bed: 100% Gold Standard Casein Protein – slow digestion for all night muscle nourishment.


Post workout meal
After Max – great blend of carbs and protein for that after workout jolt your body needs. If you want to be more exact send I can post a calculator that will give you a better “serving size” then the generic 3-scoops listed on the back of the can. Personally I use 4 scoops for my post workout meal.


Protein Bars
Argh – probably the lamest section. Nothing here that is lo-carb tastes very good. Some are okay but none are fabulous. I’m open to suggestions!! Please leave comments… remember I’m looking for lo-carb protein bars only!

Met-Rx Protein Plus

  • Mud Pie Fusion: Flavor =  6, Filling = 6, Feel = 6
  • Chocolate Choc Chunk: Flavor = 4, Filling = 6, Feel = 6
  • Choc Roasted Peanut: Flavor = 5, Filling = 6, Feel = 6

I want to try:

I also like the following although neither are low carb or really high in protein:

  • Zone Perfect bars
  • Clif Builder’s Bars (vanilla almond is my favorite)


Pre Workout

I’ve been using Ragnarok. I don’t have anything to compare it to. It seems to make my workout more intense… but nothing Earth shattering. I like the caffeine free for weight days and the caffeine version for cardio days. I might try a couple other pre/during drinks but this is the one area that, in my opinion, is least important.


Fuel for long cardio training (over 1.5 hours)

I’ve tried many drinks. I love, love, LOVE Carbo Rocket. Simple. clean, pure, not too sweet.



I love the Blender Bottle. I bought a set from - don't laugh - HSN - I read about the bottles on a body building forum and hunted for the best prices and found HSN - I think I got a set of four of the 28oz bottles for $20. I don’t use any other workout bottles now.  Of course for water and carb drink, especially when on the bike I use the Camelbak Podium Bottle. Pill organizer: I use three of these. I’m going to switch to one of these fairly soon.

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In starting this new contest I’m trying to decide how to best invest my fitness dollars. On one level this seems so simple – I know the formula very well, just eat less and exercise more! I’ve lost seventy pounds by doing this so I know it works. It is simple. Almost too simple. Problem is that  I’ve hit a plateau and actually gained back some weight. It ends here. It ends now. I will focus.

So it may very well be that  I don’t have to spend any money above and beyond the gym membership, healthy food and supplements! I do feel like I need something this time though, something to kick me in the ass (besides the contest). I want to make sure I don’t gain any more, lose focus or plateau again.

In addition this time I really want to get down to a weight that I haven’t seen since I don’t know when… maybe 25 years? I really want to get my body fat down lower than it probably ever has been. I also want to do something I’ve never done nor felt fit enough to do. Race bikes. I can’t decide if I want to race track or mountain bikes. I honestly think I’m too big (tall, upper body, etc.) to race at any level on the road – hell I hope I can prove that statement wrong but in any case I think I’d like to start on the track.

So knowing that I want to raise my game higher than I ever have, knowing that I want to push myself harder than I ever have…  I feel I may need help to achieve my goals.

Here’s what I’m thinking about investing in to help me reach my goals :

  1. Cycling coach – I’m seriously looking  at Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) and Lofgran Coaching.
  2. New commuter bicycle – nothing in my current stable (of 6 bikes) would make a great commuter bicycle. I’m looking at something like the Trek Portland. Another option would be to build out my old 1984 Trek 610 as a commuter.
  3. Spinervals DVDs – wow there are so many choices! Over 30 DVDs… Yes I could spend a small fortune on these training aids! Of course CTS offers DVDs too.  And These offerings from Saris also look pretty cool.
  4. PowerTap power meter– most dedicated cyclists swear by power meters. If I sign up for a year of CTS training I get a “great deal” on a PowerTap apparently – of course I have to call to find out what kind of “deal” I get.

Well there you have it. Boring post I know but I wanted to get some of these ideas typed and out of my head.

No idea what I’ll spend my money on, if anything but at the very least I’m sure I’ll buy some training DVDs to use while I ride my bike on my trainer – the daylight hours are too scarce to ride outside after about 5PM in Washington. I’m really tempted to pay for professional coaching – but the coach could turn into just another person that I ignore!

I hate to call what we’re doing “The Biggest Loser” because it seems whenever two or more people decide to lose weight and get healthy it becomes a Biggest Loser contest. One problem with a Biggest Loser style contest is that it favors people who are massively overweight. No one at Benchmark Plus is massively overweight and some people here are even in darned good shape! We wanted a way to involve everyone even the healthy folks. Here’s what we came up with.

The contest will run for one year. Each participant puts in $1200. At the start of the competition and each quarter each participant has their body fat percentage checked in a BodPod. The winner of the quarter is the person who has lost the highest % of body fat %. Confusing? Okay here is an example:

Beginning of contest:

  • Steve is 25% BF
  • Jeremy is 20% BF

End of First quarter:

  • Steve is 20% BF
  • Jeremy is 15% BF

Both competitors lost 5% body fat but Jeremy wins because he lost 25% of his total body fat whereas Steve only lost 20% of his total body fat.

Clear as mud now? Thought so! A winner declared for each quarter and that person wins 1/4 of the money in the pot but the contest does NOT reset every quarter so if you do amazing in the first quarter you are not punished.


Here are my stats from my test today:

Weight: 260.4
Body Fat: 25.4%


Interestingly I’ve used a Tanita scale that measures weight and body fat for almost four years now. I’ve always wondered how accurate the scale is… well I’m happy to report that this morning my scale read: 260.0 and 25.2% body fat. Not too bad. It will be interesting to see if it maintains it’s accuracy as I drop BF%.


I’m sure I’ll blog more in the coming months about health and exercise. I’m excited to start this contest now… hopefully it will keep me motivated through the winter!

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I know you will find it hard to believe that my Windows Home Server (WHS) was running out of space since it has 3 terabytes of disk space which equates to about 2.73 TB of usable disk space. One day when perusing my WHS console I saw a scary sight… I realized that I was using over 2.5 terabytes of space or 92% of the usable space on my Home Server. Time to panic! Almost no room for error here! I was not happy with myself that I let my server get to this point but I took some solace in the fact that it is very easy to expand the server with external SATA (eSATA) or external USB drives.

I talked in my previous post about hard drive space about expanding my WHS with a four bay eSATA enclosure. I decided to bite the bullet and go that route. Even though it is fairly straight forward to remove a drive from the WHS pool to add a larger drive I was afraid that with my current capacity issues that none of the drives could safely be removed (since the data on a drive need to be moved to other drives in the pool),

I purchased a SANS DIGITAL TowerRAID TR4M-B 4 Bay SATA to eSATA enclosure for $169.99 – this is a nice inexpensive eSATA port multiplier unit that seemed to get descent reviews on NewEgg.

The next decision was the size of the hard drive to put in the enclosure. With the price of 1TB drives dipping below $80 and 2TB drives still tipping the scale at about $219 -- from a pure $/TB value the 1TB drives win. I weighed the $/TB value against the value of having double the space in one drive bay leaving me with 3 bays open for future expansion and decided to go for the 2TB drive, specifically the Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EADS 2TB drive – green uses a bit less power and runs cooler something that I thought might come into importance in the future in my inexpensive 4-drive enclosure.

Install and setup was simple and very quick. Take case off enclosure, insert drive, put case lid back on, plug into power, plug eSATA cable into enclosure and the back of my WHS, open a WHS console, add the new drive to the pool. Finished. I was honestly done in 15 minutes.




The next issue I had was that WHS didn’t seem to be balancing or evenly distributing the data across my drives. So even though I had added 66% more storage space three of my older drives were still at 97% capacity. Is this bad? I don’t really know – but I do know that it feels wrong. Even after a couple weeks of nightly “balancing” the same problem was holding true. The new 2TB drive was not being utilized. I found a WHS utility called Drive Balancer that seems to address this problem (or perceived problem).







My WHS is much happier now and so am I!


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We found a great post from the Small Business Server team on how to join a Windows 7 machine to a SBS 2008 domain. From that post:

Did two three workouts yesterday neither none of which were on a bicycle. *waits for faithful readers to get up off of the floor*

The first was a Crossfit workout. Crossfit is an evil spawn of Satan workout regime. From the Crossfit wikipedia entry:

CrossFit workouts typically call for athletes to work hard and fast, often with no rest. Many CrossFit gyms use scoring and ranking systems, transforming workouts into sport. Many CrossFit athletes and trainers see themselves as part of a contrarian insurgent movement that questions conventional fitness wisdom

Our workout yesterday was:

Five rounds for time of:
15  pound barbell Overhead walking lunges, 50 feet
21 burpees

Time of 21:30 Jeremy did 4 rounds, Ryan and I did 3 rounds. It sucked. Bad. I don't think I could have done any more 'burpees' without really hurting myself. I was dizzy, my face was numb, I was getting a headache, my back hurt, I felt like I was going to puke. So we will have to work up to doing as many sets as the site suggests but wow still a killer workout in 21 minutes. I can barely move today… you all know the feeling, where you can’t shampoo your hair very well because raising your arms above your head is almost impossible.

The second was yoga. Our normal Tuesday night class. It was great, as usual, but really tough considering how bad my legs and arms were hurting. The class was packed which made it very warm in the studio no not quite hot yoga warm but I was sweating up a storm! The GREAT part is that I felt better after class than before.

I’m glad yoga helped me to stretch and loosen up because my third workout of the night was the BEST workout I can imagine!

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Steve's high-tech meal planIn my previous Getting Healthy post I mentioned that "You have to be willing to challenge the status-quo even when you skinny friends look at you like you're stupid (I have a story about this but I'll save it for a future installment)." Well I suppose this is that future installment. It’s only been like 13 months… gimme a break!

By challenging the status-quo I was specifically referring to the fact that I eat six times per day. Unless of course my girlfriend and I are away for the weekend then we typically eat one meal, usually at about 2PM, usually consisting of a huge chunk of animal flesh and lots of carbohydrates! We’re just so… AHEM busy AHEM that we forget to eat. Last trip that we took I think I lost 7 pounds in three days. I digress, I’m sorry. So I was saying that typically I eat six times per day. I have found that this keeps me a lot more satisfied and I’m a lot less likely to pig out at lunch or dinner or after dinner.

I have lost a lot of weight but I’m still a big guy (6’3”, 245). I can eat roughly 2400 calories per day and still get rid of about two pounds per week depending on my activity level. That means I can eat meals of 300, 300, 600, 300, 600, 300 every day and still lose weight. I have this on a yellow-sticky on my monitor at work.

So what is the problem? I can’t tell you how many times my skinny co-workers look at me as I eat my 3PM Zone Perfect Bar and give me this look that says, “jeez that's why he's fat... he eats all damned day long."

It would be easy to get embarrassed and stop this habit... but you know what. Screw them! I've shed a little over 70 pounds this way and I'm not going to stop! Bite my ass skinny boy! You might be skinny but I bet I can bench press your body weight PLUS your max bench press weight. Probably several times! AND I bet I can ride a bike faster than you. And for longer (time or distance) than you. Deep breath – no, I’m not bitter. So please if you are fighting this battle like I am, figure out what works and stick with it. No matter what people say. Unless they are trying to talk you out of a fad diet… then listen to them!

I won’t even talk about how much crap I’ve taken for starting Yoga!

So dear readers has peer pressure ever made you change your health or fitness routine? Is there anything in your health and fitness routine that other people laugh at? If so how do you deal with the criticism?

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I recently purchased a Blu-Ray drive for my media center PC I couldn’t resists as they are now under $100 shipped. As an self-respecting geek would do I immediately searched for the best most efficient way to play Blu-Ray discs (BDs) or BD rips on my sub $500 Home Theater PC. I read the post entitled Easy, Efficient Hi-Def Video Playback by Jeff Atwood in it he says:

  1. download the standalone MPC-HC filters.
  2. Extract and copy it into c:\windows\system32\
  3. Open a command prompt, navigate to c:\windows\system32\, and run regsvr32

Be sure you don't have any other video codecs registered, as the MPC-HC filter can handle everything. Once you register this magical codec, Windows Media Player (and thus, Windows Media Center) will use hardware accelerated high definition video playback. It's amazing. 

Oh Jeff I wish it would have been that easy for me! At this point I’ve spent WAY too many hours (40? 60? kind of defeats the “best most efficient assertion above, huh?) on this. I thought since I spent so many hours working through these issues that I should share my pain experiences. These are my experiences and of course YMMV… this is on the aforementioned sub $500 HTPC with Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit installed.

I do agree with Jeff that AnyDVD HD is a VERY cool application. Yes I buy and own legitimate copies of every Blu-Ray disc and DVD that I rip but I LOVE the convenience of looking at a menu in Vista Media Center (VMC), selecting a movie and pressing play. No misplaced cases, nothing to put away when you are done, no kid fingerprints on my discs! Simple and easy! Plus I’m a TOTAL geek and love a challenge! AnyDVD really makes ripping BDs easy:

  1. Right click the SlySoft Fox task bar icon; choose "Rip Video DVD to Harddisk"
  2. Choose a path (I rip mine directly to my Windows Home Server)
  3. Click "Copy DVD"
  4. Wait 30 – 45 minutes

So far, so good! I ripped the few Blu-Ray Discs (BDs) that I own to my Windows Home Server. The best part is that usually (and yes there are exceptions) you can reduce the rip to one single file. Find the largest file in the \BDMV\STREAM folder and that is your movie. Delete all the other files. No I don’t want the extras and don’t even get me started on useless DVD and BD menus! I HATE nothing more than waiting for some college student’s crappy video project menu-intro thing to “play” when all I want to so is watch a flippin’ movie!

My first step was to try to get my ripped BDs to play well in MPC-HC even in this magical stand-alone application it wasn’t as simple as Mr. Atwood led me to believe. I was still seeing upwards of 90% CPU utilization until I enabled the “EMC Custom” under output. That got my CPU utilization down to around 30% from 90% - 100% when playing a ripped BD. Cool. Only took me like 10 hours of experimentation to figure THAT out! Yes I KNOW, Steve, RTFM! Now to translate that into WMP and ultimately VMC.

Next, I took Jeff’s advice and uninstalled all CODEC packages I had installed on my HTPC and registered the file. I opened the .mt2s file in Media Center and… nothing. So this DID NOT work for me. I’m glad it was so simple and it worked for him! Since the BD rip is just the one file video, sound and all is does seem to make sense that JUST registering a video decoder would NOT allow the file to play. Since the mt2s file is a container with audio and video streams it must be split apart so it seems that you do NEED a splitter installed. Uninstalling all of my CODEC paks uninstalled all of my splitters. So when I tried to play the .mt2s files in Media Center I got nothing except a major case of frustration!  After a TON more research (few more hours) I finally found this Vista Codec Package... Shark007’s goal is to have one CODEC install that "just works" for every possible video and audio file out there. Lofty goal and I commend the dude. Didn’t work for my purposes though! Of course not! To get it to work for me though... I had to do a custom install:

  • Remove ffdshow
  • Remove DirectVOBSub
  • Add AC3Filter

Simple, huh? Well yeah I went through 40 or 50 configurations to figure that out! I’ll spare you EVERY detail but I guess in a way I was lucky two of my first rips were very different. The Blu-Ray spec allows for a few different video and audio encoding standards:

For video, all players are required to support MPEG-2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, and SMPTE VC-1… For audio, BD-ROM players are required to support Dolby Digital, DTS, and linear PCM.

The first .mt2s file I was using as a test subject had an AVC video stream and DTS audio and the second had a VC-1 video stream and a Dolby Digital Audio stream so when testing sometimes the DTS audio would disappear, sometimes the DD audio would disappear. Sometimes the video would not play, sometimes the audio and/or video would stutter.

So After running through many, many configurations, my BD rips play perfectly -- both AVC and VC1 at 10 - 30% processor utilization (down from 90 to 100%)!!! Also MKV files play perfectly as well. I remind you that this is on a VERY modest system. TO answer your next question, yes yes they stream FINE off of my WHS!

So, yeah, there is probably another solution... like install the 'magical' video decoder, install a splitter, install AC3 - but at this point I'm DONE. DONE I tell you! Well until I decide that I can do better! LOL!

ON A SIDE NOTE: I setup my Xbox 360 to stream from Netflix. What a cool system! I walked up to my desktop PC, added a few titles to my "Watch Now" queue and boom they showed up on my 360. Watched a couple movies this way. Flawless.

I’ve signed up for the 2009 LIVESTRONG Challenge in Seattle which will happen on June 21st 2009. Those of you not familiar with the event(s):

The LIVESTRONG Challenge is the LAF's signature fundraising event. Whether you walk, run, ride, volunteer or donate, your participation is one more powerful weapon in the fight against cancer.

If you are not familiar with the Lance Armstrong Foundation (apparently you’ve been living under a huge boulder!):

The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) unites people through programs and experiences to empower cancer survivors to live life on their own terms and to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancer. The LAF focuses on cancer prevention, access to screening and care, research and quality of life for cancer survivors. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the LAF has raised more than $250 million for the fight against cancer. Join 60 million LIVESTRONG wristband wearers and help make cancer a national priority.

The LAF helps survivors face the challenges and changes that come with cancer. The Foundation helps them understand what to expect from the cancer experience and the right questions to ask and provides support along the way.

Personally I am a supporter of the LAF and almost every dollar I give to charity every year goes to the LAF. I have many a very personal reasons for supporting this worthwhile cause. I am an avid cyclist. I have been since I was about 4 year old… okay maybe I wasn’t ‘avid’ at 4 but I have always loved riding. I was very into BMX in my early teen years but the I got serious about cycling in 1984 when I watched Alexi Grewal win the gold medal in the Olympics for the US of A. I sold all my BMX bikes and bought a Trek 610 (which I STILL have!). This was about the time Greg LeMond was an up and coming star… I am lucky enough to have met Greg two years ago at a charity bike ride in Wenatchee, WA to support the Mike Utley Foundation (another charity I support). Of course I’m also a HUGE fan of Lance Armstrong. He’s always been an inspiration to me. The cycling connection is only a VERY minor reason why I support the LAF. See BOTH of my parents are cancer survivors.

My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer over 20 years ago, when I was junior in High School. Thanks to modern medicine and my Mom’s incredible resolve (please note that I did NOT say stubbornness!) she is still with us today at 77 years of age. The LAF was not around back in 1986 but in hindsight it would have been nice to have been able to tap into their resources even if it was just for advice!

In 2003 my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Lymphoma in his maxillary sinus. Apparently a very rare location for a tumor to manifest itself… I think the doctors at the time said they’d only been able to find a hand full of cases to research. It presented itself in a particularly strange way as the cancer was pushing up through the top of the sinus cavity and causing my Dad eye trouble. It took a series of doctors to finally figure out what was causing the discomfort. Again a happy ending after chemotherapy and radiation treatments -- the cancer is in full remission and other than a few lingering effects from the treatments my Dad is alive and feisty (again I DID NOT say stubborn) at the young age of 83!

I also am an avid reader of The Fat Cyclist, Elden Nelson. I have joined Team Fatty: Fighting For Susan to tray an break shatter the LAF record for fundraising. I ask that you help me by clicking donating on my site at:




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I started to comment on my friend John’s blog and decided that my comment was too long and what John really did was “tag” me (see this blog post for a good example of tagging someone else (Meme Time: Growing Up Geek)) so here goes, my storage addiction for the world to see: