Austin Cap10k Run

Original Post: Sunday, March 27, 2011
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I ran the Cap10k last weekend. Had a blast and will probably do it again. I did the timed run and surprised myself that I could run a 9:45 mile, considering the masses.

I totally recommend this as a first-time race. The atmosphere was lively and full of camaraderie. I was with about 2,000 rambunctious HEB employees, being corralled to the start line, when everything fell silent – hands flopped onto chests, in honor of our National Anthem. It moved me to tears – and set the tone for the rest of my day.

My husband volunteered as crowd control at the First Street Bridge, a little more than a mile from the finish line.

Visit http://www.statesman.com/cap10k/ to see the results. My bib number was 3906.

02:13:11 – Not Bad For 13.1 Miles

Original Post: Saturday, April 16, 2011
zooma

I did it! I came, I ran, and made it across the finish line, upright. My time was better at the 10k race a few weeks prior, but that was less than half the distance, AND I didn’t have an injury to contend with.

The course at the Hyatt Lost Pines, in Bastrop, is very pretty, and hilly. What I liked best was the variety of elevations (Ha-! Ha!), vegetation, and scenery. We went from being enveloped in a canopy of trees, out in the open country, passing horse ranches, through seemingly endlessly turns around the tightly cut golf course, then finally to the finish line along the Colorado River.

All the prep in the world could not have prevented it. It was the Wednesday before the race, at the track. We had just finished a couple of laps. I grabbed a drink of water, while the rest of the team started the grapevine drill. I usually do my grapevines going to the left. That morning, I went to the right since I was already facing that way. Bad idea. As the coaches reiterate over and over, don’t try anything new the week before the race. While my body was ready to head right, my brain said, head left. I went down. The knobby part at the top of the femur is where I hit. By race day, I had a bruise the size of a small orange. While it was sore most of the week, I didn’t think it would have any impact on my performance on race day. I was wrong.

By mile 6, I started to feel the pain. I dismissed it. By mile 12, the pain was almost unbearable. That’s when I called on my deceased step-son’s help, James. After all, I was running this race in his honor. “James, I need you…I need to finish…can you take some of this pain away and help me finish?” He came through for me. And the most gratifying feeling was to actually hear my name on the loud speaker as I crossed the line.

The folks who cheered us on those last two miles were a God-send.  Their support, my sheer determination, the undeniable dedication of our coaches, those who donated to the cause, all contributed to my success. It did help that I almost never missed the Monday and Wednesday practices, or the Saturday runs. Truly, though, my real hero through all of this was my husband. He stood by me every step of the way, trained me early on, encouraged me to get out there and train with the team during the week, and on the Saturday long runs. His willingness to open his heart, be vulnerable, and share his story of beloved son James, to let me run in his honor.  Love you babe!

Tamales

Original Post: December 2012

yolanda-tamales

During the holidays I prepare my grandmother’s tamales, but with my twist. I never know how many people I will have to help me, so I’ve come up with a very streamlined way to make them if you only have a few helpers.

The day before:  Slow-cook the meat in a crockpot with the vegetables (6 hours gets the best tenderness). Clean and soak your corn husks in hot water overnight in the sink.

The day ofget the meat ready: Drain and set aside the broth that you cooked the meat in; chop  just the potatoes and carrots. Pull the meat. Put Meat and veggies together and add the sauce using mole (see recipe).  Prepare your first batch of masa, using the broth, just before you start. I usually do about 3 batches of masa (but I don’t make the masa unless I’m using it that day – it does not keep well).

You’ll want to line your tabletop with plastic tablecloths to protect it. Each person should have access to plenty of fresh kitchen towels because you’ll want to keep your area dry. Oh and don’t forget the gloves.

Watch the video (click on the film image below) and see the recipe for more info. It’s a bit crude, but that’s how I prepare it (I plan to make another video next weekend, when I’m at my sister-in-law’s).

No matter if I’m doing it alone, or with friends, I always have a great time. Enjoy!

Take Pause on Veteran’s Day 2013 

Original post: Sunday, November 10, 2013
steve

I write this with deep trepidation at my ignorance in years past of what Veteran’s Day means to me. I, as do many other Americans, have War Veterans in my very own family and in my circle.

War is an ugly word. It turns my stomach to see the reports of loss-of-life. All of those families who lost loved ones to the violence of War. Too many fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters paid with their lives to protect-and-serve.

When I think about the sacrifice US Veterans have made for the greater good, it makes me proud and grateful to be American. While War is dreadful, our Veterans’ unfailing allegiance brings new meaning to live as “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all…”

I am fortunate to not have lost a family member to War.  My brother came back after multiple tours to in the Middle East, and with each one I could see a change in him. That toughness deeper but softened, that life spirit stronger, with eyes that see more, but often not what he wants to see.  My cousin came back from Afghanistan with an emotional heaviness that I cannot describe.

Remembering those who served in the Vietnam War, my deceased Uncle Tony, my deceased brother-in-law, James (whom I had never met), my stepfather, Jake, and countless cousins and friends from my husband’s side, including Roger, Gary, and Birch (who did not come home) and many others.

Remembering my Uncle Andy, now deceased, who served in the Korean War, and brother-in-law, Hank, who served in World War II, and other Veterans whom I may have overlooked.

Remember your Veterans, as these are our Gatekeepers and protectors of this, our United States of America.

Accredited Typeface

Original post date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
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I never thought that typeface would help influence the horizontal flow of reading, but it does. I just finished reading an article in The Week written earlier this year (see it here: http://tinyurl.com/typeface-influencers) and it was eye-opening.

In academia, it is critical to have your work be read and respected, after all of the research hours you spent, sleepless nights, and disgruntled significant others. Even as I write this, I am updating my website font to Georgia, for now, until I finish my font typeface research (yes, more work to be done on this article).

What about the font typeface used on highway signs? Here in Texas, the exit signs are abysmal. Most are numbered and unreadable until you are right up on them, and by then, it’s too late.

Pinterest is a hotbed for the goings-on in typeface design (see it here: http://www.pinterest.com/search/?q=typeface).

Wow, I now have a renewed respect for the talent of a Typeface Designer.

More soon.

First blog post

I started this blog as a way to be more constructive about how I use my time, and how to hone my many talents. You can expect to find posts ranging from professional, of the Agile sort, or more personal discoveries.

Alternatives for the Five-Star Rating System

Original date of this post: Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

When researching rating alternatives for a recent project, I discovered a few effective methods. One surprising discovery was in an MIT Study stating that the 5-start rating system has flaws. Travelers and diners are accustomed to using 5-star ratings to quickly determine if they should stay at a particular hotel, or eat at a particular restaurant. But consider this: how accurate is the rating if you ate there just once and loved it? I have been to restaurants where my first visits were phenomenal, but on later visits certain dishes were not to my liking. The star rating should then be qualified.

In 2010, YouTube changed their rating system to be more of an indicator of what the community thinks. Favoriting and sharing tells the community THIS is something you love, versus a Seal of Approval. YouTube simplifies the rating to show primarily how many Views, followed by, Time Watched, Subscriptions Driven, and Shares. Honing in on the  number of Views impacts the visitor’s decision-making about whether or not to watch. The visitor can select the bar graph to see more detailed statistics.  The YouTube model can be used for most any rating system by creating meaningful categories in which to track.

5star

Reputation Ratings (positive, neutral, negative) used by eBay for the seller are great, however the sellers have to encourage their buyers to post (most want to post negative only).

The World University Rankings for higher education use a composite score for performance in different categories that include Teaching, Innovation, Research, and so forth. Users can filter the scores for particular categories.

My motivation for this research was to determine alternative methods for ratings. My client had a limited budget for design changes, so I opted to create a quick prototype of an alternative design and conducted a user study to determine preference.

When researching rating alternatives for a recent project, I discovered a few effective methods. One surprising discovery was in an MIT Study stating that the 5-start rating system has flaws. Travelers and diners are accustomed to using 5-star ratings to quickly determine if they should stay at a particular hotel, or eat at a particular restaurant. But consider this: how accurate is the rating if you ate there just once and loved it? I have been to restaurants where my first visits were phenomenal, but on later visits certain dishes were not to my liking. The star rating should then be qualified.

In 2010, YouTube changed their rating system to be more of an indicator of what the community thinks. Favoriting and sharing tells the community THIS is something you love, versus a Seal of Approval. YouTube simplifies the rating to show primarily how many Views, followed by, Time Watched, Subscriptions Driven, and Shares. Honing in on the  number of Views impacts the visitor’s decision-making about whether or not to watch. The visitor can select the bar graph to see more detailed statistics.  The YouTube model can be used for most any rating system by creating meaningful categories in which to track.

Reputation Ratings (positive, neutral, negative) used by eBay for the seller are great, however the sellers have to encourage their buyers to post (most want to post negative only).

The World University Rankings for higher education use a composite score for performance in different categories that include Teaching, Innovation, Research, and so forth. Users can filter the scores for particular categories.

My motivation for this research was to determine alternative methods for ratings. My client had a limited budget for design changes, so I opted to create a quick prototype of an alternative design and conducted a user study to determine preference.