Sunday: 20.August.2006

Feeling Sad, Blue, Depressed: Not Sure Why

Had a nasty case of the blues yesterday (persistent). The worst part is, I'm not sure why.

It's not like I don't have plenty of good reasons to feel sad, yet nothing had changed between yesterday and the day before, when I felt fine.

When I saw the movie World Trade Center, for example, a few nights ago, I felt sad during the sad parts, which is normal, cuz I knew *why* I felt that way.

But yesterday, I didn't know why .. which makes me feel .. uh, out of control .. weird, and of course, curious. Certainly not reassuring.

Maybe it was simply a delayed reaction to some previous life-disappointment .. or maybe the sadness I felt while watching the movie somehow tapped into an inner sadness lingering somewhere below the surface.

••• today's entry continued here •••

Actually, during the movie, I remember getting in touch with (during the sad parts) a reservoir of sadness, I'd been unaware of. (Denial is a wonderful thing.) But after the (sad) movie, I didn't feel sad. (Felt numb.)

Sadness is a relatively new phenomenon for me, so I don't have much experience dealing with it .. especially when I don't know *why* I'm feeling that way (which suks).

I don't feel angry. Even yesterday, I found myself laughing at some things people said, so it's not like I've lost my sense of humor.

I remember feeling like a good cry might help, but I'm not very good at crying. Back when my folks were dying, I found I could only cry in the car, while driving (only place I felt safe enough).

There have been girlfriends I could cry with, but those are rare, cuz I need a high degree of (emotional) trust, which I lose pretty easily, especially during the relationship's rockier times, which seem inevitable.

Friends claim that the ability to feel (regardless of what it is you're feeling) is a good thing (healthy) .. and that a lack of emotion can be dysfunctional. Started feeling better after a hot shower last night.

Noticed that the blues come most frequently on Friday eve's and Saturdays, which coincide with bringing the bug back to his mom. Or maybe it has something to do with being tired from caring for him during the previous days. (We do lots of fun stuff.)

Maybe fatigue makes my feelings more prominent, less controllable. Again, I don't know. This is merely speculation .. which is the worst part.

My strategy is to just go with the flow. There was a time in my life when I felt uncomfortable when life felt out of control. Lately however, I've learned to accept that out-of-control feeling and roll with it. Sometimes it takes me to cool places I never would've experienced had I had more control.

My blues are not unbearable. I'm certainly not suicidal. Melancholy might be a better word. I don't fight it, but rather flow with it (walk a little slower, hard to smile, head hangs, try to understand why I'm feeling that way).

I picked up an iron supplement last month that *has* been helping. Feel better today. So maybe I processed some yucky emotional krap from the past. Friends have been telling me to be good to myself.

My buddy, the Dog (who has much emotional insight) says, "If you don't go to your feelings, they come & get you."

He also says, Sad people (not me), tend to run away from their sadness, which chases them thru the sad streets they live on. But happy people (like me) tend to ignore their sadness, which swims below them, feeding on life's misfortunes, until it grows big enough to pull them under. He says, if it ever gets overwhelming, I need to get help.

He thinks, for me, it's a case of "accumulative sadness". I think that's true. The Dog is in his car right now, driving up to Toronto (from New Jersey). He always makes me laugh.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search, pre-configured for the query: sadness depression causes treatment

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 20August2006

Thursday: 17.August.2006

World Trade Center (Rad Movie review) An Oliver Stone film

Saw World Trade Center this eve .. (at the Big Newport in Newport Beach). Well made. Very sad (was a sad day for our country). The lady sitting a few seats down cried the whole second half of the movie.

First thing I noticed was how seriously Nicholas Cage took his role in this movie. It was obvious he intended to honor the victims of that day.

I decided to see the movie, primarily cuz Oliver Stone directed it. [Did you know Stone volunteered for infantry duty (combat) in Viet Nam? ... which is pretty much asking to be killed (~suicidal?).

That should give you some insight into Stone's psyche. Heard he was distraught over his parents separating (divorce). He was born in New York City.]

••• today's entry continued here •••

If you think about it, who really wants to relive 9-11? Nobody. It took big cojones even to attempt to make this movie.

Most movies tend to sensationalize. In this movie however, no sensation was necessary. Rather, just the opposite...

I feel Stone dimmed the lights on sensation, and focused his cinematic spotlight on the lives of ordinary (unsensational) people .. to reveal how much havoc that day wrecked in their lives.

You also get a good feel of New York culture from the movie. If you've been there, you will quickly recognize the bravado and humor.

Oliver Stone is good at translating complicated emotions into film (not easy). The score was particularly impressive. I mean, the sound design takes this movie to another level.

Surprising that Oliver Stone, who is traditionally the controversial conspiracy theorist, with movies such as JFK, where he did everything but come right out and say LBJ had JFK murdered, avoided that approach in this movie ...

... especially when many such theories abound. He centainly isn't afraid of controversy, yet no controversy is presented here, which left some scratching their heads.

Good reviews. Trailers. I feel kinda weird after seeing it. A little numb. It's not like you're going to walk next door, to the next theater, and see another flick after this one. After this one, you've had enough for the night.

Almost cried. Probably should've. If you need a good cry, here's your movie.

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 17August2006

Tuesday: 15.August.2006

A letter from the Rad in-box, from Johannesburg, South Africa

Received lots of mail regarding yesterday's entry, about the aborted over-night with the bug (Rad Jr.) .. such as this one, which comes from Johannesburg, South Africa, along with interesting insights into that fascinating country:

Hi Rad,

Just read your latest post about taking the bug back to his mom. You did an amazing thing. That took guts. But it's honest. I'm so impressed - no, moved -- by your post that I can't think what else to say. It's profoundly honest.

I can only imagine how hard it must be for you, but the strength and honesty with which you post to the public is amazing.

I'm South African born-n-bred. Lived most of my life in Johannesburg. My parents (English / Irish) are South Africans, too, as were their parents.

••• today's entry continued here •••

South Africa is home, so it doesn't feel all that exotic. I've travelled to New York and Rhode Island once, and so I can see how it might look different.

Johannesburg (and the other big towns) are semi-first-world cities: they come across as urban areas missing a few ingredients.

Jo'burg (or as we call it, "Jozi") has an informal public transport system, backed by trains and bus routes. Like many previously-advantaged white people, I drive a car in the increasingly bad city traffic.

All these cities are still dealing with the legacies of Apartheid, where one of the key policies was to squash the vast majority black population into small areas of (usually bad) land.

This applied in the cities, too, where "townships" were created to have cheap labour for mining and industry just far enough away from the suburbs. A system of passes was developed to ensure that black people didn't stray far from their designated areas.

As a resullt, Johannesburg has zones of great poverty (and density), often now juxtaposed right next to areas of great wealth, as the city has grown dramatically in the 12 years since the official end of Apartheid (although it was really over by 1990, which makes it 16 years).

Many of the (white) people I grew up with don't, but I love my country - with all its' flaws. In this increasingly mad world, we seem to have managed to avoid descending into civil war.

I attribute this to the statesmen, both black and white, who managed to ride the dying Apartheid beast, but I also attribute this to the will of the people.

I suppose my email is representative of South Africa in that it's hard to do much without seeing the political and historical overtones. It's a beautiful land, with deserts, plains and jungles.

I mentioned a road-trip around the country that I'm planning, and can't wait to get a proper look at many places I've never been to.

I work in film and television, as an up-and-coming do-everything, I suppose. I'm an editor, writer, and recently, director. I've also recently bought a Macbook, which I'm thoroughly enjoying as my first laptop.

Bad as it sounds, the option/fallback of installing Windows was a deciding factor. The film and television industries are at the forefront of negotiating a 'new' South Africa and - patriot that I am - it's an interesting place to be.


Stephen A.
Johannesburg, South Africa

For more along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: Johannesburg South Africa

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 15August2006

Monday: 14.August.2006

The Bug's First Overnight Stay Aborted (Heartbreak)

The little guy (Rad Jr.) was in Michigan, visiting his grandparents last week. (He's been there more times than me.) But he's back now.

I spent the day with him yesterday. Great day. He was real happy, lots of smiles & laughs. Tons of energy. Tireless. Playful. Ate like a horse.

His mom suggested I keep him overnight. (Say what?!) That hasn't happened since the break-up, more than a year ago (he's 19 months). So I was stoked.

He went to sleep fine, but woke around midnite, crying for "Momma".

••• today's entry continued •••

I tried (repeatedly) to cover him back up, so he'd fall back asleep, but he kept kicking off the covers and crying, "Noooooo!" "Want some water?" I asked. "Noooooo!" "Cheerios?" (He loves Cheerios.) "Nooooooo!" You get the picture.

You never heard the word Momma uttered more desperately. You'd a-thunk I was beating him with a hose.

Thought he might just be disoriented, but after 15 minutes of heart-wrenching pleas, I called his mom & told her I was bringing him back. He has never spent an entire night away from her yet.

Never heard him cry like that, either. I mean, if he falls down hard, he'll say, "Owie." So he's not a complainer.

Soon as I picked him up and said, "Okay, let's go see momma," he stopped crying, and even fell asleep in the car on the way there (10 mins).

Naturally, I was disappointed (heart-broke), but can't bear to see him in such distress. Was really looking forward to waking with him .. for the first time since the old days.

One of the saddest things is I never get to see him when when he goes down for the night, or when he first opens his eyes in the morning.

The good thing is that he obviously knows what he wants, and is able to express that.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 14August2006

Sunday: 13.August.2006

Legs Sore from Running Sprints (Cardio Exercise)

Regarding Friday's entry, about running sprints, to crank up the metabolism, in order to burn fat .. it's clear that running eight 1-minute sprints (in 16 minutes) is too much to begin with. (Way too much.)

I felt great while running (on the beach at Crystal Cove, sunset), but my legs were sore last few days. Real sore. Was hobbling around most of the weekend. Still sore today, not as badly, tho.

The muscles that connect the backs of your knees to your feet, including the calves & related tendons .. uh, I torqued those pretty good.

••• today's entry continued •••

Not sure what the answer is, but I think it would be better to start with, say, six (or eight) 30-second sprints, each followed by 1-minute of rest, and add 1 or 2 each week.

I enjoy how the body feels after a good, hard work-out. I call it 'pleasantly sore'. But if *pain* is the consequence, it's not likely you'll repeat the process .. no matter how good it feels while your bolting down the beach like a wild stallion (and that *does* feel good).

After reading a few more links from the search query for terms: lose fat cardio exercise sprint, it's clear that there's much conflicting information on the topic, yet everybody agrees that sprints are a great way to crank up your metabolism & burn fat.

When I was in my 20's, I used to run sprints up a (short, steep) hill, wearing ankle & wrist weights. Talk about an altered state of consciousness... Wheee!

The moral of the story (it's painfully clear) .. if you're over 40, you ain't the hot-rod you were in your 20's (jack).

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 13August2006

Friday: 11.August.2006

Losing Fat by Cardio Exercise (Sprinting)

If you were here a few days ago, you know how I asked a personal trainer at the club to measure my body-fat, which yielded a surprising 24% .. a number that made me cringe.

To be honest, when I first heard 24 percent, I thought: No way, Josι. So today I found a different trainer and asked him to repeat the measurements.

His results, nearly identical: 23%. So, either the two of them are in cahoots, conspiring against me, or .. I'm a bona fide porker. (They must be conspiring.) And this guy wasn't trying to sell me anything, either, like the last trainer.

••• today's entry continued •••

If you figure I weigh ~190 pounds, then 23% percent body-fat would translate into roughly 44 pounds total adipose tissue (sounds better than the word fat).

I figure (perhaps erroneously) I should be able to shed 5 pounds of that (~10%) fairly easily.

That would yield a new total body-fat figure of 39 pounds, which would calculate to ~20%, a number I could live with. I mean, 15% was the number I was expecting to hear, but that seems pretty low now.

They say the way to lose fat is: burn more calories than you consume. The goes-out needs to be more than the comes in . And the weight will come off.

The word calorie, by the way, is defined as a unit of *energy*.

They emphasize that you can't spot-reduce. In other words, you can't get rid of your gut by doing a million sit-ups. Doesn't work that way.

And to burn calories faster, you need to crank up your metabolism, cuz that's the thing that really burns the majority of your daily caloric intake, anyway.

And your metabolism is cranked up best by cardio exercise (which gets your heart-rate cranking .. cardio = heart) .. since the body is really just a big chemical factory. (Yes, some factories are bigger than others.)

HERE is a cardio program someone claimed produced good results. (Here's another.) If you've ever run wind-sprints, the concept seems similar. One minute bursts, followed by a minute of easy-going. I'll give it a try. Heck, it's only 16 minutes a day.

I've always liked that dizzy feeling you get when you run real hard, in short bursts. [You know, like when the cops are chasing you. =) ] See HERE for more info on how sprinting keeps your metabolism cranking for days.

Running is the king of exercise. Now where'd I put my running shoes? Or maybe I'll just head up to Crystal and run barefoot on the beach there (sunset would be nice).

This article (3rd paragraph) says:

GO FAST, LOSE FAT. Research shows that performing intervals--interspersing high-intensity sprints with lower-intensity recovery periods--is up to three times more effective at reducing fat stores than steady-state aerobic exercise.

Another quote from the same article:

The longer you sprint, the less oxygen that's available to your working muscles. That forces your body to use more carbohydrates for energy, decreasing the amount of fat you bum.

To keep muscle oxygen levels high, limit your sprint time to a maximum of 15 seconds and exercise at an easy pace for at least 1 1/2 times longer than the duration of your sprints.

For instance, sprint at your full effort for 10 seconds, then slow down to a pace that's about 40% of your full effort for 25 seconds before sprinting again.

THIS article says weight-training is the best way to lose fat (Fact #3):

Cardio is a useful tool as well and it is great for your overall health, but it does not have the fat-burning potential of a good weight training program and diet.

Why heavy whole-body weight training? Because heavy weight training literally destroys your muscle tissue during the exercise which your body is then forced to repair. This repair process has incredible fat-burning potential!

For more along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: lose fat cardio exercise sprint

Posted by Rad at Friday: 11August2006

Thursday: 10.August.2006

Site Traffic Climbing

Site traffic typically peaks every year around the holidays (December, January, when folks have more free time), then falls & consolidates before the next up-surge begins .. to new highs. This has been the pattern year in, year out.

Traffic was never a major concern, but rather a fun metric to watch grow. Now that it affect$ revenue however, I've become more traffic-conscious, and admit to thinking of ways it can be maximized (new for me).

Seems the next up-surge has begun. Yesterday logged the largest revenue numbers since the holidays, and today's numbers appear headed past those of yesterday.

Update: yeah, we are well past yesterday's numbers. And more hours remain for the day.

••• today's entry continued •••

Another traffic-factor is that the most recent product released by Symantec which contains a copy of Norton Ghost (hard drive back-up software) is called Norton Save & Restore. (It contains & uses Norton Ghost but the new title doesn't reference Ghost .. like all other versions have.)

Since I added a blurb in the Ghost guide to address the relationship between Ghost & Norton Save & Restore, traffic to the Ghost guide has been climbing steadily, as has its click-thru-rate.

Another consideration along these lines - since I "blended" the ads, as recommended by experts in this area - is that at least one person (Harvey) has mentioned clicking on an ad, thinking it was really a link I had put there myself (& personally recommended).

This generates mixed feelings. On one hand, more clicks *do* generate more revenue (which is good). On the other, tho, since I have no control over *which* ads get displayed (only over their shape & color-scheme) ...

... am I being deceptive? .. since I made the ads look so much like the rest of my site (i.e. "blended"). I figured this type of confusion was bound to happen, which is why I originally began by sporting ads with a slightly different shade (like these).

I mean, integrity counts for something, right? I have always tried hard to shoot straight with readers (which is easier to do sans the corrupting influences of capitalism). Or maybe I'm making much ado about nothing...

The experts who I've been working with, regarding ways to maximize site revenue, insist I did things right, saying: "The strategy you're following of first developing great content, then monetizing the traffic this content generates is absolutely the best way to go."

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 10August2006

Wednesday: 09.August.2006

Hot Fun in the Summertime & Haunted Sheets

When I first moved to California (from New York), I thought it would be summery year round (with palm trees swaying endlessly in the warm ocean breeze).

But summers here last only a few months, like most places. Then it gets cold again. Certainly nothing like in the cold you get in New York, but not beach weather (like it is now). The water gets chilly.

Last few weeks have been gorgeous: ideal summer weather (after that dreadful heat wave finally passed). Picture perfect days ensued. Which is why it's important to take advantage of the nice weather while it's here.

••• today's entry continued •••

Spent the day at the beach with Miss Julie yesterday. There's something therapeutic about warming in the sun, then cooling off in the ocean, repeatedly. It's relaxing.

Julie is in Catalina (island) today, with mom & the boys. Tonight I'm staying at her place (here now), where I'll watch her new kitty: miss leru (luh-rue).

Gonna sleep in her bed. Kinda weird, now that we are just 'friends'. The sheets seem haunted with memories. The last time I stayed at her place overnight to watch her kitty, I had wild, vivid dreams and felt disoriented the next day. Funny how the body remembers .. sometimes better than the mind.

Noticed there's a full moon tonight. It's huge. Need my sunglasses. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping when there's a full moon.

In other news, received a note today from the Dog, saying, "Still in Tulsa. Very religious place. Nice people. Many Wal-Marts."

He's gonna try to stop here for a few days before heading back East. Interesting that PBS is featuring a Springsteen special right now. The Dog loves the Boss. They're both Jersey boys .. born & raised.

My tires were slashed and I almost crashed but the Lord had mercy.
My machine she's a dud, I'm stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.

Nite-nite. Time for bed. Gonna climb between those sheets. Hope her scent isn't lingering there. Might make it difficult to doze off, since that was what originally aroused my attention.

Couldn't help but notice the sexy, lacy thingies (lingerie) hanging on the hook on the bathroom door.

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 09August2006

Monday: 07.August.2006

Bodyfat measured at 24% with skin-fold calipers

While working out this morning, I asked one of the trainers to measure my body-fat percentage.

The guy used a pair of calibers to take measurements of skin-fold thicknesses at four points: bicep, tricep, shoulder-blade, and hip bone.

I was expecting him to report ~15%, but when he said my body-fat was 24% .. well, I found that hard to swallow. Appears I had unrealistic expectations.

I mean, 24% is almost considered unhealthy. Now, I admit to having a gut (takes a big hammer to drive a big nail), but 24% still seems high.

••• today's entry continues here •••

Basically, men, it seems, need a minimum of 5% body-fat, which is consider essential. Athletes typically have 6-12% body-fat; and percentages between 13 & 17% are considered fit.

18-25% is deemed "acceptable," and over that, well, you're pretty much considered a porker (unhealthy, obese). So, this guy was telling me I was living on the outskirts of Porkersville.

If you weigh 200 pounds, and have 25% body-fat, you're carrying around 50 lbs of fat. Fifty pounds.. that's a lot of fat.

Next time I'll ask one of the other trainers to measure me. Maybe this guy reported artificially high results in the hope of $coring a training gig with me. (He asked if I needed a trainer.)

Soon however, I got curious and started asking other people, who looked particularly lean/fit, if they knew their body-fat percentage. Surprisingly, most did. None however, reported anything near 24%.

I didn't ask any girls cuz the question sounded too much like a pick-up line. "Hey, babe,... " But I was genuinely curious.

Since muscle burns more calories than fat, it's often a case of the fat get fatter .. (just like the rich get richer & the poor get poorer, cuz money makes more money, and debt makes more debt).

Hundreds of years ago (oddly enough), fat was considered beautiful, cuz it signified wealth. Now it just signifies .. uh, fat.

Some good work-out program links (if you're interested) are here and here. This is interesting.

I went to high school with Rick Valente, from the Body Shaping TV program. He dated my cousin Diane for a while (who lived upstairs), but we were never close friends. He was a year behind me, but we had the same gym class (which included weight-training).

Even back then, as junior in high school, he was extremely muscular. I mean, nobody was even close to him. So genetics must've played a part. His triceps were particularly impressive. Unbelievable, actually.

But he was also quite knowledgable. I remember upperclassmen asking him for advice about their work-out routines ("You're over-training," he told one guy, who wanted to be a marine, and was working out two hours a day (every day), "You need to give your muscles a chance to rest, so they can grow.").

Rickie was cool, but he had an older brother who was pretty crazy (wild). I forget his name. He was much smaller, tho. Chaz! His name was Chaz. Chaz Valente. (Had to dust off a few brain cells.) Wonder what ever became of Chaz.

Rick's BodyShaping show is actually pretty good. I like how he has an older women (Mary Jean) as one of his work-out partners (to demonstrate proper technique). They're not all hotties, with flawless bods. And they visit great locations, too, such as various tropical islands. Fun show. He always knew how to have fun.

For more along thee lines, here's a Google search pre-configure for the query: body fat calipers measure loss calorie muscle weight diet

Calipers for sale HERE and HERE. More about body fat HERE.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 07August2006

Tuesday: 01.August.2006

Updated the Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio

Updated the Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio today. It was a mess (full of obsolete info). Infested with a bad case of link-rot-itus.

I still have some (minor) tweaks I'd like to make, but for now, it's quite useable, and (most importantly) reflects the latest recommended encoder settings [-V 2 --vbr-new, as of November 2005] for use with the currently recommended version of LAME:> v3.97 beta2.

Also broke up one of the longer pages into 3 smaller ones, which comprise the following:

• Exact Audio Copy (EAC) CD ripper (digital audio extractor)
• Alternative digital audio extractors (rippers) and back-up (copying) software
• Radified Guide to the LAME MP3 encoder (codec)

The info on those 3 pages used to be crammed into a single page (yeah, lotsa scrolling). The guide now consists of 10 pages.

••• today's entry continues here •••

And the page where I discuss lossless audio compression can easily be broken into two pages: one dealing with the use of lossless codecs, and another where I compare and contrast lossy with lossless codecs, addressing the advantages & disadvantages of each.

To be honest, I probably never woulda wrote this guide had I known (ahead of time) how much work it was gonna be to keep current. It has required far more effort than any other guide.

I originally wrote the Guide to Ripping & Encoding CD audio back in April of 2001 .. back when Napster made it seem like your computer contained every song ever recorded. Yeah, the *old* Napster .. you remember (.. momentary pine as we take a nostalgic trip down memory lane.) .. back in the days when file-sharing was considered a good thing.

It was a little techie-David vs big corporate-Goliath. And everybody was rooting for the little guy .. praying he wouldn't get mashed like bug. Napster seemed too good to be true (.. and unfortunately was).

Wasn't very much technical information about ripping & encoding CD audio back then. Everything was 128-kbps, mostly with a Xing encoder (via AudioCatalyst), which was fast & easy-to-use, but produced the world's worst MP3s, in terms of audio fidelity .. 'til the people could stand it no more.

Things changed quickly back then .. but have slowed (thankfully) in recent years. Fun to see how things have developed over the years.

One thing has remained constant, tho: a combination of Exact Audio Copy (EAC) and the LAME MP3 encoder is still the best way to get the best-sounding MP3s. LAME is so good, in fact, so well developed, that big companies like Sony are ripping off parts of its source code.

Anyway, since the guide is already written, I should probably take the time, periodically, to keep it current.

I knew the guide needed updating, cuz I had a type-o in the old revision, where I discussed encoder settings for v3.90.3 (as specified in the άberStandard) - I omitted the 'e', by writing xtreme instead of extreme - and I'd get mail from folks telling me so.

When that mail stopped coming, I new the community had moved on to an updated codec, which meant it was time to update the guide. Took six months for me to get around to it.

Biggest disappointment was to hear that MPC was dead. There was a fast, lossy codec that produced *excellent* quality audio files (*.mpc). But you can't play MPC on an iPod.

For more info along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: rip encode cd audio music mp3 digital extract

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 01August2006