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The T3sk3y Defenestrator

P90X – a look back on 90 days of “Bringing It”

I hit a milestone recently that many strive for and many fewer succeed at: I completed all 90 days of P90x.

I’m sure most people that launch in to the routine have really great intentions of doing the whole thing, but in reality – it’s very difficult to dedicate 90 minutes a day to working out and even more time to eating healthy. †I’m also sort of amazed that we did it right in the middle of cold and flu season and ran the table without so much as a sniffle.

Phase III was a mix of Phases I & II. †It was an extra week longer, too – 5 weeks instead of 4 to make it a full 90 days. †Weeks 9 & 11 used the Phase I schedule and weeks 10 & 12 were on the Phase II schedule. †At the end was another “Recovery” week. †The quotes are deliberate – the Recovery week was brutal the way I did it. †The normal Recovery week is supposed to be:

Core Synergistics, Yoga, Kenpo, X-Stretch, Yoga, Core Synergistics, Rest.

I did this instead:

Core Synergistics, Yoga, Kenpo, Cardio-X, Plyometrics, Core Synergistics, Cycling 30 miles, Back & Biceps (had a random make-up).

Yeah, that’s all of the nausea-inducing chuck-fests back to back to back. †My body was wrecked after that run of workouts – but I dropped a final three pounds.

Like before, I’ve got some random thoughts on the phase and the program in general..

  • I was dumbfounded at how much stronger I was when I went back to the Phase I workouts in Week 9. †I basically doubled the reps and/or weight across the board.
  • I never thought doing 300 pushups in an hour would become sort of commonplace.
  • I did get to the point where I could knock out a half-dozen chin-ups, but I’ve still got a long way to go before being able to do multiple sets of pull-ups, chin-ups, wide grip pull-ups, etc.
  • I never really did get to a point where I dominated the Ab Ripper-X workout. †I got a lot better – but I’ve got a long way to go before I can do it straight through at full speed doing every rep.
  • X-Stretch is really a complete waste of time. †It’s all the worst parts of Yoga and it’s numbingly dull. †I did it once and successfully vowed to never repeat it. †I substituted Cardio-X to actually get some sweat going.
  • The ‘high carb’ third phase of the diet really didn’t work for me. †I’d soar and crash so bad with that many carbs that I either had to keep a constant drip of pasta going or I had to change it up. †Ultimately, I went with a 2400-calorie diet that limited fat intake.
  • I started having my recovery drink during the resistance workouts to keep my energy high and it made a huge difference. †I wish I would have figured that out earlier.
  • I finally came to peace with the Yoga workout that I struggled with in Phases I & II. †I started doing it late at night and I started playing my own trance-y music (Maserati!) instead. †That made all the difference – I didn’t get impatient since it was the end of the day and I got into the moment with music that took me someplace.
  • My Yoga mastery improved a lot – the only thing that really escaped me was the 5-minute “Warrior Three/Standing Splits/Half-Moon/Twisting Half-Moon” sequence. †I’d invariably get a severe cramp in one um, “cheek” and have to take a little break.

So.. was it worth the commitment?

Though I haven’t done the final measurements yet – I’ve lost 21 lbs since 1/4/11. †That translates into about 5 inches around my belly and two around my waist. † I didn’t really feel fat before.. but looking back, I was. †Being roughly six-and-a-half feet tall, extra weight could hide everywhere. †The difference really hit home this weekend when I purchased some 34″ waistline jeans. †I was struggling to get in to 38″ jeans at Christmas!

The biggest benefit I felt when I went for my first 30-mile ride with Balance Cycling to Wayzata and back. †I had far more power and energy in the first ride of the year than I did during my last ride of the year last fall. †Heck, I had more power than I’ve ever had on a bike – I wanted to keep going faster, and faster, and faster.

So, what’s next? †I made some big changes to myself and I don’t think I’m overstating the situation when I say that I think that I rolled the clock back five to ten years. †I want to continue to improve on that – and I’d like to drop another 10-15 pounds by the end of cycling season. †To get there, I’m going to keep up my better eating habits and I’m going to target 120 miles/week on the bike. †Then, when the weather turns foul again next fall/winter.. Heather and I will look at doing P90x again, or perhaps Insanity. †Now THAT (i.e. Insanity) looks painful..

My Recommendation: BRING IT!

 

Reflections on P90X Phase II

I cannot believe that it’s already been 28 days since the end of Phase I.† The four weeks of Phase II really flew by – which means that it’s time to take a look back at how it went.

Phase II – like Phase I – is three weeks of hard resistance+cardio work and one week of recovery.† The resistance workouts are different than the ones in Phase I but the cardio workouts (Plyo, Yoga, Kenpo) are the same.† Here’s what the weekly schedule looked like:

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps.† This workout was harder than anything in Phase I and really hurt the first couple of times.† There’s nothing like trying to do one arm push-ups after doing several dozen push-ups of other styles.† I never did have much luck with that one!† Generally, I couldn’t lift my arms after this workout.
  • Day 2: Plyometrics.† This is probably my favorite single workout in P90X.† Very hard, very exhausting – but it’s a good burn..
  • Day 3: Back and Biceps.† I’ve never looked forward to doing chin-ups as a break before, but spending 30 minutes focusing on the biceps makes them rubbery very quickly.
  • Day 4: Yoga-X.† Still not my favorite since I prefer dynamic high-impact exercise over standing in a painful position for 90 seconds at a time for 90 minutes.. but I’m absolutely getting better at it.
  • Day 5: Legs and Back.† This was very hard during Phase I – It’s getting much easier as I get stronger.† I could sit and listen to just the audio from the calf raise exercise all night long.† Go Sophia!
  • Day 6: Kenpo-X.† I find that I need to push myself pretty hard during this exercise to keep my heart rate high.† I love the workout, but it is one of the easier ones.
  • Day 7: Rest.† It’s still Rest-X in my book.

The Recovery Week (which I completed today) looks like this:

  • Day 1: Yoga-X
  • Day 2: Core Synergistics.† This is a solid full-body workout that has a little taste of everything.† Not sure which is tougher – Plyo or Core.
  • Day 3: Kenpo-X
  • Day 4: X-Stretch.† I hate X-Stretch.† Stretching for an hour isn’t really a good use of time in my book, so I substitute Cardio-X to amp it up a little..
  • Day 5: Yoga-X (again!)
  • Day 6: Core Synergistics (again)

Even though Phase II went by much faster than Phase I did – I found it took a little more intestinal fortitude to keep on track.† I did manage to keep pushing play every day, but there were some days I really wasn’t in the mood.† I think the chief problem was that the ‘shiny’ wore off somewhere around week 6 and the reality about how much time and effort it takes to keep hitting play sunk in.† There was a day (during week 5) that I had to quit Yoga-X after 45 minutes because it was making me violent with impatience.† Like I said.. I’m not good with static exercise.

The diet got better during Phase II as well.†† To recap, Phase I was very high in protein and very low in carbs.† Phase II replaced a protein slot with a carb slot making it possible to have a carb source in every meal.† This was a much easier diet to follow and is actually probably a good long-term maintenance diet.† Having said that, I didn’t really follow the P90X diet well and just stuck to small portions/1 carb per meal/low fat.† As a result, I had more energy for the workouts and more free time since I wasn’t hand-making everything.† I also continued my 2 lbs/week loss in spite of Super Bowl & Birthday parties.

Physically I was less tired due to increased carbs and acclimating to a heavy workout schedule.† I was bedeviled by some low-back strain during weeks 6 & 7 that didn’t help the workouts but ended up not hurting them either.† It just meant that I took a week off from Ab Ripper-X to let it settle down.

The results?† I’m now down 16 pounds since January 3rd.† I’ve lost 5 inches around my mid-section and everyplace is much more toned up / firmed up.† For the first time in my life, I’m starting to get a butt.† I didn’t realize that it was possible to overcome my genetics inherited from a long but proud line of buttless people.† My clothes are starting to become baggy – but I’m going to hold off until the end to stock up on some new spring/summer threads.

Phase III starts after my rest day tomorrow.† It’ll be alternating weeks of Phase I and Phase II exercises – all done at maximum effort.† The diet swings to even less protein and even more carbs & fruit to give me the energy to go full blast.† With luck, I’ll leave another eight pounds in the pain cave.

Five weeks left!

 

Reflections on P90X Phase I

This year, I went out on a limb and gave our family the best gift I could give..† a chance to dial the biological clock back a few years.† I plunked down my $139.80 at Amazon.com for a copy of the P90x Extreme Home Fitness Program, wrapped it, and put it under the tree for “The Teskey Family”.

P90x is a hardcore exercise and nutrition plan for people that are in generally good shape and want to get in even better shape.† It’s a 3-month program that changes both the workout routines and the nutrition plan every four weeks making sure that your body never settles into a routine.† It’s pretty intense – and I was not used to a 6-day/week workout.† I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t been off the couch in months.

I’ve been in various stages of decent shape in my adult life – sometimes more, sometimes less.†† Since I crossed 40, it’s been more less than more.† Even though I typically bike a couple of thousand miles each summer, I’m not very well-rounded in my fitness.† I could bike 70 miles, yet my arms would be exhausted by the end of the ride from holding my body upright.† I reasoned that dropping some weight and improving my overall strength would make me a much stronger rider.† I also knew it would be a hit with Heather.† It’s not every guy that could give his wife a workout program for Christmas and not get in trouble for it.. but my wife is a fitness nut and I knew she’d totally get into it.

As of today, I’m done with Phase I (the Fat Burner phase).† I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on my experiences thus far.

Before starting the program, a fitness test accompanied by measurements and photos was required.† I was able to meet the minimum starting requirements in all areas but the pull-ups.. and I knew this was a weak spot.† My nearly 7 foot wingspan did me no favors in this department.†† Here were my starting measurements:

  • Starting Weight: 248.2
  • Body Fat: 30.6%
  • Chest: 48in
  • Waist: 41in
  • Hips: 44in
  • Right Thigh: 25in
  • Left Thigh: 25in
  • Right Arm: 14.5in
  • Left Arm: 14.5in
  • Belly: 45in

For the sake of all that is decent on the Internets, I’ll spare you the pre-flight photos.

After that, we were off and running with the workouts.† Here was our routine for weeks 1-3:

  • Day 1: Chest & Back + Ab Ripper X.† (75 minutes) I’ll summarize this workout as: Pushups, Chinups, Pushups, Chinups, Pushups, Chinups, etc.† When completely exhausted, do 350 crunches.
  • Day 2: Plyometrics (60 minutes)† Plyo is jump training – and it’ll send your heart rate to the moon.† A very intense workout, but fast-paced and fun.
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms + Ab Ripper X (75 minutes) Curls and presses of every variety.† Besides lots of crunches, Ab Ripper X has lots of ways to do leg lifts
  • Day 4: Yoga X (90 minutes) – This breaks down into 45 minutes of Flow, 30 minutes of balance and stretching, and 15 minutes of a special hell called “Yoga Belly 7″
  • Day 5: Legs & Back + Ab Ripper X (75 minutes) – This is actually the hardest workout for me – I’m smoked at the end.† It is an hour of lunges and squats salted with chinups and the 3rd consecutive day of Ab torture
  • Day 6: Kenpo X (60 minutes) – Kenpo is kickboxing.† This is an intense cardio workout, and it’s my favorite of the week.
  • Day 7: Rest or X-Stretch – By day 7, I always chose the “X-Rest” option as I called it.

The fourth week was a recovery week made up of two rounds of Yoga, a round of stretching, a round of Kenpo, and two sessions of “Core Synergistics” – a full-body core workout.

While all of this is going on, we were following the strict Phase I nutrition plan.† Phase I is called the “Fat Shredder” because it’s a very low carb and low fat month.† My rules were basically that I couldn’t have more than 3000 calories a day and it had to be broken down to 50% Protein, 30% carbs, 20% fat.† This meant that I had to give up carbs almost completely.† It’s actually really difficult to get 1500 calories by way of protein!† Having 10-egg white breakfasts weren’t uncommon in our house.

So, what happened?† Was it worth it?

Absolutely!† The changes are both objective and subjective.† I’ve lost 9 pounds in the first four weeks, and I look much different in the mirror.† It’s surprising how much things can change in that short of time with some extremely hard work.† My gut is smaller, my face is less puffy, my shoulders are broader, and I’m getting the beginnings of a gun show.† I sleep like a stone and I haven’t needed any antacids since I started.† My posture is better, my energy level is increasing, and my flexibility has improved.† Based on the results from Phase I, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen over the next two months.

Heather’s doing great too – she started at a better place than me and she’s already starting to rock a six-pack.

Here are a few random thoughts after Phase I:

  1. It is a huge time commitment.† Between dedicating 90 minutes a day to working out and preparing a high-protein low-carb low-fat diet, it eats a big chunk of the day.
  2. I do find myself looking forward to the workout each day!
  3. I often didn’t eat enough.† It’s really hard to ingest as much protein as is required, so I’d just not eat.† This would result in some days (and mornings) where I felt positively velcroed to the bed.
  4. I’m not a big fan of cottage cheese.† Egg Beaters Whites are better than expected.† Clif Builder’s bars are the best tasting, Pure Protein bars are the worst (bad steak/iron aftertaste in a chocolate bar is no bueno)
  5. I’m pretty sure I look ridiculous doing Yoga.† Actually, I probably look ridiculous doing most of the exercises.† Some poses still aren’t in my arsenal – Warrior Three is a mess!
  6. We went all-in with the plan and we haven’t missed a day of workouts.† We also swear by the P90x Recovery Drink and Animal Pak workout multivitamins
  7. Having a partner going through it at the same time has been key – we don’t workout at the same time, but we love sharing our war stories at the end of the day and it’s very motivational.
  8. You can do it with the resistance bands – but using dumbbells is way better.† We picked up some PowerBlocks on Craigslist for $175.

Tomorrow I start Phase II.† We get to re-measure and take new photos.† It also means a whole new set of workouts and a change in diet.† A little less protein, a little more carb.† I’m pretty excited about that change!

I’ll post numbers as soon as I get ‘em..

What’s on my iPad? – Part 1

I got my 64GB 3G iPad back in May – back when you could still get a totally unlimited data plan. †I bought it primarily for my photography business, since I believe viewing portfolios should be a hands-on interactive experience rather than a presentation. †Since then, I’ve grown to love it.

One of the main reasons that I recommend it to colleagues, family, and friends is the App ecosystem that Apple has built around the iPad. †There is an endless amount of options for the iPad user to make it into a personalized device that does the things that is important to the owner. †Apple has also made buying Apps like buying candy – cheap, simple, and tasty! †Don’t like an App? †Well, only .99 down the drain. † †Yes, it’s not an open ecosystem – but with the relaxing of the developer rules over the past few weeks, Apple has rendered that argument mostly moot. †So – I’m going to avoid the “closed platform” rats nest for the purpose of this article.

What I am going to talk about are the Apps that I use and find valuable. †These aren’t going to be exhaustive reviews – just some one liner thoughts about each app. †I’m also not going to talk about the pre-installed Apple stuff unless there is something remarkable about it. †I’m also going to skip iPhone only apps unless there is no replacement on the iPad. †Today’s article is everything that isn’t a game – which I’ll cover in a different article.

The All-Stars:

  • Osfoora HD – My favorite Twitter client. †Well designed, fast, easy to navigate. †Only single account, but very powerful and fast.
  • Friendly – Facebook client. †Since there’s no native iPad Facebook app.. and the iPhone Facebook app is buggy.. this is everything that I’d want a Facebook app to be.
  • Reeder (+) – Google Reader client. †I get about 99% of the news this way VIA Google Reader. †It’s a clean design and easier than Google Reader itself to skim news. †Only drawbacks? †You can’t manage your subscriptions within the account and I keep seeing spoilers for Survivor and The Amazing Race in the Reality Blurred feed.
  • Things (+)†- Getting Things Done! †This is the best task manager out there if you are into GTD. †It’s super clean and elegant which is a big plus over Omnitask and others – and I think simplicity is one of the most important factors for an organization system. †I only wish there was a Windows client!
  • Evernote (+)†- Note Taking. †Easy to use, uber-cross platform. †Take notes in Evernote, retrieve them everywhere! †Also can do voice and picture notes and geotag them.
  • SmugMug – I use this as my ‘portfolio app’ instead of ‘Photos’ since I store my work on SmugMug.
  • Kindle (+) – Since I have a Kindle, it’s nice to be able to read my content on other platforms. †Kindle beats iBooks by a first-round KO in my e-book. †Still prefer actually reading on my Kindle, though..
  • Pandora (+) – Great free music discovery client. †Look up a favorite band and hear other music similar to it (like Genius on iTunes). †I can’t wait until iOS 4.2 for the iPad when Pandora will run in the background.
  • Google (+) – The Google voice search works so well! †I use this more on my iPhone, but it’s still very useful on the iPad

Productivity:

  • Digits (+) – No native calculator on the iPad? †Really? †This one is sweet with an adding machine tape that you can mail to yourself
  • 1Password (+) – Password Vault – Keep your passwords in one spot with 256-bit encryption. †I love this since I have literally hundreds of logins
  • Bento – Personal Database – Neat Hypercard-like personal database. †It looks really cool.. just haven’t had the need to inventory my DVDs or make a task list (use Things for that)
  • WordPress (+) – WordPress management – Nice for moderation and on-the-fly content creation, but it doesn’t support some of the plugins that I’ve added to my blogs (hello SmugWP)
  • GoodReader (+) – PDF reading and editing. †Not as compelling since iBooks does this too – but the markup and saving of documents is a nice feature
  • OmniSketch – Strange drawing apps with ‘active’ brushes. †Got it thinking it would be a good sketch app but it’s more useful for painters

Social:

  • Gowalla – Location-based Social Networking – Nicely done, but I never got into the location-based social networking game. †I’m the reigning mayor of “Don’t Care”. †It’s the same reason I never installed Foursquare.
  • Twitterrific – Twitter Client – Used this prior to Osfoora HD and Twitter for iPad. †Some love it, I don’t. †I could never figure out how to do simple things and that made it dead to me.
  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn Client – LinkedIn isn’t my favorite social network – but for those that rely on it, it’s a good client and a must-have.
  • Twitter – Twitter Client – This is the official Twitter client. †It’s nicely done if not a little unique in some areas. †I’d probably use this if I didn’t love Osfoora HD so much.

Reference/Information:

  • Wikipanion – Encyclopedia – I think the iPad is to Wikipedia as the Kindle is to eBooks. †I use this constantly as an extension to my brain. †I can’t tell you how many arguments this has resolved.
  • WebMD – Medical Reference – Enter a symptom, get a list of possible ailments. †Fortunately, I haven’t had to use this yet. †It’s a beautiful app.
  • Fandango (iPhone) – Movie Information – I’ve only been to a couple of movies in the theater in the last couple of years due to little kids. †I used this app to find showtimes and locations for all of them.
  • IMDB – Very nice (and free) movie reference app. †Installed this one to keep track of my semi-famous stuntman brother-in-law.
  • iBooks – One of the few Apple apps I’ll talk about. †I never use this for eBooks.. but it’s a pretty darn good PDF reader and I use it often for that. †It’s sometimes buggy in that it sometimes doesn’t show PDFs that I have on my device.

Cooking:

  • Betty Crocker – Love this app since it has recipes that I’ll actually cook. †The “cook mode” and ingredient list makes it easy to use in the kitchen.
  • Epicurious – Well done, but I haven’t used this a lot since I haven’t done a ton of gourmet cooking since I got the iPad. †Love that it does a shopping list!
  • Weber On The Grill – I’ve used this one several times. †I was a big fan of the “Weber Cookbook” in dead tree format.. and this adds interactivity

News:

  • Eyewitness – Like “The Big Picture” but one picture per day with photo tips. †I likes me my daily picture!
  • The Big Picture – The actual website for the Big Picture chokes the iPad browser with all the HiRes pictures. †This is a nice flip interface to their top-notch photoblog. †I use this app every time they release a new photo essay several times a week.
  • ABC News – Really cool and unique globe-style news visualizer. †I ran this once and said “Cool interface” and never used it again.
  • StumbleUpon – Social News – When I’m bored, I’ll sometimes use this to take me to a random website in the genres I’m interested in. †I’ve discovered some very cool stuff by using StumbleUpon.
  • USA Today – Nicely done but simple. †Only a couple of dozen of the top news stories scraped off of the web.
  • Pulse – Beautiful graphical RSS reader. †I prefer Reeder.. but this is a really graphical way to browse RSS content that has a lot of pictures.
  • Flipboard – I like this application a LOT. †It formats RSS into a beautiful book where you turn the page. †Nice interactive way to experience a news feed.

Remote Controls:

  • Boxee (iPhone) – I love being able to remote control Boxee in my living room right from my iPhone or iPad.
  • RokuRemote (iPhone) – My Rokus are getting a little old – but as much as I loved them, I never liked walking within a couple of feet of them to select music. †This allows me to select music anywhere in the house.
  • DISH (+) – I love being able to remote control my Dish DVR from anywhere. †Full program guides plus scheduling over 3G is really great.
  • TeamViewerHD – Remote Computer Control. †I haven’t used this yet – but it’s ready to go when I do need to remote control one of my computers!

Shopping:

  • Amazon (+) – I think I like shopping on here even better than on Amazon.com itself. †Add in One-Click and Prime, and things now just magically appear on my doorstep. †Yes, you can buy Diet Coke on Amazon.
  • eBay (+) – Like Amazon – it is easier to use in many ways than the actual website. †Browse auctions with high resolution pictures, manage your sales and your bidding all from this rich application.
  • CraigsPro Free (+) – A pretty good interface for browsing Craigslist and managing for sale posts. †I’ve used the iPhone version more since it’s simple to take a camera phone pic and post it directly to Craigslist.

Utilities:

  • Dropbox (+) – File Sharing – It is nice to drag a PDF into for browsing on the iPad. †I know this is popular, but in reality I don’t use it much.
  • SpeedtestX HD (+) – Nice way to see what kind of 3G/WiFi throughput I’m really getting.. but I don’t tend to use it much.
  • ConvertBot (iPhone) – Unit Conversion – There’s a million apps that do this, this one is nice and easy to use.
  • WiFiFoFum – WiFi Sniffer – Never know when 3G is going to not work with AT&T – so this app makes it super easy to find an open hotspot. †This saved me in Siena, Italy once when all the internet cafes were closed.

Weather:

  • WeatherProHD – For some reason, all weather apps kind of stink. †This one stinks less than most and has a nice front page display. †I wish it had a better weather map – it only shows a multi-state view.
  • The Weather Channel Max+ – Beautiful and flaky. †Nicest map of the weather apps but it does timelapse pretty slowly. †The latest release crashes somewhat less and loads faster.
  • WeatherBug – Installed it and never really used it.
  • Accuweather.com – Used this a lot until I got WeatherProHD. †Nice interface, bad maps.

Media:

  • CineXPlayer – Multi-format media player. †Installed it, never used it, probably never will since VLC is now out for the iPad.
  • ABC Player – Viewer for all the ABC content. †It’s free, and I’ve never used it.
  • Netflix – Plays Netflix Watch It Now like magic. †I don’t use this much, but that’s more because the Netflix content isn’t the most compelling.
  • VLC – Multi-format media player. †Just installed this one, I know I’ll use the daylights out of it. †The only drawback is having to use iTunes to add content.

Travel/Mapping:

  • AMS Amsterdam – Travel Guide – Haven’t used this yet, but bought it when it was free on the iTunes store. †There’s a 100% chance I’ll go back to Amsterdam and this will be useful.
  • UrbanSpoon HD – Restaurant Locator – Great interface, easy to use. †Haven’t needed to look anything up yet.
  • Negotiator (iPhone) – It’s the official Priceline iPhone app, and I’ve used this a bunch of times to find hotels on short notice. †That’s the cheapest way to do Priceline, too!
  • SunSeeker – Astronomy – As a photographer, knowing where the sun will be at what time is very useful!
  • Emerald Observatory – Astronomy – An astrological clock that maps what planets should be visible. †One of the most beautiful iPad apps!
  • Topo Maps – Mapping – Downloads free topographic maps and shows where you are on that map. †Very useful for planning photographic shoots.
  • Google Earth – Mapping – Pre-visualize a journey by tipping the iPad to fly around your location. †Nice port of the desktop app to a portable platform.

The Key: (iPad) – iPad Only, (iPhone) – iPhone Only, (+) Dual platform app

Time For More Defenestration

Has it really been 18 months?

The last post here was in February 2009. †Lots has happened since then, and frankly.. this blog hasn’t been a focus while I’ve been launching Mark Teskey Photography and Mark Teskey Architectural Photography. †Like Douglas Adams said:

I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.

It seems like one of the places where I need to be going forward is here.. I’ve lacked an outlet to talk about stuff that interests me in a longer format than the 140 characters of Twitter allows. †It’s going to be about everything from technology to bicycle racing to pinball to travel to.. well, you get the idea. †As before, if(month(date())==4 && dayofmonth(date())==15, ReaganQuotes(), NoPolitics());

Just lost most of you, didn’t I?

It’s good to be back..

The Value of Focus

This is post #400. † It’s amazing looking back that the Defenestrator made it this far. †Whether it makes it beyond post #400 remains to be seen.

I’m going to talk for a bit about the value of focus. †Since the start of the Defenestrator, the focus has been simple – whatever is interesting to me. †The only forbidden topic is politics – which isn’t interesting to me. †Major exemptions were granted for elections and tax days, but that’s it.

The problem is that it was always kind of easy to find topics since there was no focus. †The downside is that it was sort of everything to some people – and nothing to most people. †My photography friends don’t care about pinball. †My pinball friends don’t care about my travel adventures. †My family doesn’t care about either photography or pinball. †Well, they do – but not enough to go to my blog every day. †When you know nobody’s reading – it’s tough to stay motivated to post!

Back in November I decided to focus. †I launched a new blog over at T3imagery.com to be tightly focused on being a photo blog. †The idea is simple – one photo per day, every day. †This gave me the opportunity to showcase my favorite pictures and tell a little story about them. † That way, people that are interested in that topic will continue to find interesting stuff every day.

The results?¬† Three months in, I’ve found it to be really rewarding. †I’ve had a nice boost in hits due to cross promotion on Facebook and Twitter¬† And – in the thing that means the most – I’ve had more nice comments from people in three months than I got in five years of the Defenestrator. †It’s also challenging me to create content – one picture per day eats up your good stuff really fast!

So, what now for the Defenestrator? †I’m certainly going to keep the lights on. †It’s minimal effort to keep things running. †Honestly, it’ll probably continue to be a little more sporadic in that I’ll only create content when something blogworthy happens. †I just don’t have time to blog for blogging’s sake. †I’ll still probably post travelogues since that serves as a great way to capture memories for the future. †I’ll also probably continue to show off pinball things since that’s a big chunk of what I do. †I suspect though it’ll never be as rewarding as the focused effort I’ve got going at T3 Imagery.

So – if you lose your way – focus!

DDR – it isn’t just for mommy any more

Christmas night, the T3sk3y family had game night in the Chaska Pinball Shrine. †For old time’s sake, my wife and sister decided to fire up Dance Dance Revolution on the Dreamcast. †Before long, William wanted in to the act. † Hilarity ensued..

A Tale of Two Cameras

As many of you have seen on Twitter, I was the lucky recipient of a much-heralded Canon 5D Mark II for Christmas. †The reviews of this camera have been righteously positive – with a couple of cautionary tales around some early firmware problems. †Since I’ve been nothing but happy with my 40D since I got it a year ago – I wanted to do a stress test to see if the 5D lives up to the hype.

This is really unscientific. †I’m not using a tripod. †Heck, I even shot the pictures a day apart. †It’s also not fair – the 5D Mk II is about double the cost of the 40D. †But, is it 2x better?

For the test, I set both the 5D Mk II and the 40D to ISO3200. †On the 40D, I had to enable a custom function to get 3200 (shown as ‘H’ on the LCD). †In both shots, I used Canon’s superb 24-105L lens. †Here are my results:

Canon 5D Mk II @ ISO 3200

Canon 5D Mk II @ ISO 3200

Canon 40D @ ISO 3200

Canon 40D @ ISO 3200

Exif info:

5D Mk II version: Canon 24-105mm @ 105mm, ISO 3200, f/4.0, 1/80 sec

40D version: Canon 24-105mm @ 58mm, ISO3200, f/4.0, 1/125 sec

Clicking on either picture will open up the original (note: careful, they are BIG – especially the 21.1 megapixel 5D image!).

My impressions? ¬†Wow, is 3200 good on the 5D Mark II. ¬†I’d totally use that shot. †It’s clearly better than the image taken with the 40D. †The 40D image shows a lot of noise in the red portion above the Christmas balls. †The balls themselves look ‘crispy’, as does the ironwork on the 40D shot. †I gotta say though – the 40D shot looks way better than I would have guessed.

I also printed each @ 4×6 with my Canon i9900. †The shot from the 5D Mk. II is noise free and looks great – very vibrant and lifelike. †The shot from the 40D looks very noisy, even in print.

Conclusion? †At least in terms of low light performance – the 5D delivers. †I’ll be looking forward to finding out what else it can do.

T3 Imagery is up and running

I’m happy to announce another site that I’m starting – T3 Imagery (www.t3imagery.com). †Up until now, this site has been the place where I posted cool pictures. †I really wanted a site that could serve as an online portfolio of my photography so that people that are only interested in that don’t have to wade through my other nerdy adventures.

The idea is this – it’s going to take the old “A picture is worth 1000 words” adage to heart. ¬†It’s about the image, the story behind it, and way it was made. †There will probably never be more than a couple of quick sentences each day, text isn’t the point.

Here is the way it will work. †I’m going to post one picture per day posted at 8 PM. †It’s only going to be my favorite stuff – landscapes, portraits, travel shots, whatever. †It’s something that catches my eye or something I want to share with all of you. †The front page will only show one shot – but you can navigate to see the archives on the left side of the page or by the arrows on the bottom.

So – if you don’t mind – please check t3imagery.com each night after 8. †Better yet – set up a reader to get the RSS feed (available on the home page) to get the daily post delivered to you automatically. †And, if you forget how to get there – I’ve created a link on the right side of this page. †Check it out – and while you are at it, please check out some of my friend’s sites.

Whitewater Restoration – stick a fork in it

.. ‘cuz it’s done.

After 9 months and more orders from Pinball Life, Marco Specialties, Bay Area Amusements, and Pinball Resource than I care to count, I crossed the last to-do off the list of restoration tasks.

Restore White Water - playfield view

Restore White Water - playfield view

I’ve had a bunch of pesky little tasks for the past couple of weeks to resolve – like coloring the white edges of the decal with a blue paint pen. †It’s a little detail, but it really makes it look professional.

The last task was to do something I’ve never done in pinball restoration – weaken the flippers. †Everything I’ve learned has been how to make the flippers nice ‘n strong. †This machine had the wrong flipper coils when I bought the machine – but they were okay with the worn linkages. †Once I rebuilt the flippers, the flippers turned into cannons that threatened to destroy all the expensive new plastic parts. †To rectify, I went one step weaker with the coils and that did the trick.

White Water - Upper playfield view

White Water - Upper playfield view

Pictures from the entire restoration odyssey are here on my SmugMug site: Whitewater Restoration

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