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LIFE, SOCIETY, HOW-TO (permalink) 10.14.2011
good living.
if you haven't guessed by now, i track just about everything in my life. one of the more unusual things i keep tabs on are my favorite reads of the year. this extends beyond books into websites, magazines, office notes, commencement addresses, and even wall graffiti. this year's front-runner has been carrying a strong lead since early march. i've been thinking something would have knocked it out by now but it just hasn't happened. i think part of its success with me resides in the way it snuck up and held me tight before i even realized it had laid hands on me. i've wrecked its chance to quietly sneak up on you, but hopefully you'll still enjoy my favorite story in 2011 (thus far), the tire iron and the tamale.

SPORTS, HOW-TO, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 08.02.2010
jimmyD put the soul in my stroke
when bella was born i couldn't swim. swim officially that is. i could swim underwater and dog paddle, but no for real strokes. three years ago i set an annual goal for myself to swim a mile. that is with no-stopping, flip-turns and all. at my city pool, which is an olympic-sized pool with 50m lengths, this would mean 18 laps, or 36 lengths. for most pools, it would be 36 laps and/or 72 lengths.

after one summer with much help from marty and by studying other lap swimmers, i learned how to swim freestyle, which some people call the crawl. this was the stroke i chose because it is the style i most coveted when watching other swimmers. at the end of the first year i could swim a 50m length with a reasonable amount of effort and needing several minutes of rest afterwards and before moving to the next length. since two lengths were out of my reach, the 36 i needed were astronomically distant.

i continued working into the next summer. my stroke was improving but i was still very much struggling with the oxygen management. by this time i knew there was something tragically wrong in my technique. i kept practicing thinking that something would click, akin to learning to drive a manual transmission, and i would just figure it out. the click never came in year two. there was a bright spot however in that while on our summer vacation, the fifteen year old son of a family friend taught me how to do flip-turns while we stayed with them for a week. i didn't get the technique truly figured out and working for several weeks but he definitely gave me the tools i needed. so even though at the end of year two i seemed no closer to my goal of eighteen laps, i was invigorated by my ability to do a flip-turn (a skill that was far more daunting than the actual swimming).

this is my third year working on this goal and i 'm calling saturday, july 31, 2010 (@12:30pm) the day i learned to swim, for real, because on this day the click came. it started as every one before it had. i drove to the pool, found an open lane, set my towel and stuff down on a chair, slid into the water, glanced at the pristine blue sky, stared down the 50m lane, got my goggles situated, took several deep breaths, thought about my mechanics, and pushed off just as i had hundreds of times before. but this time was different because this time i reached the other side ... and with plenty left in my tank. no racing against my fading breath. no pulling up. no switching my stroke to an above water option mid-way. i just went and went and went and went and then i saw the painted T at the bottom of the pool and i was there. elation! i rested for a few moments and pushed off back the other way. stroke, stroke, stroke, T. more elation. and i would go on to be elated six more times that day. and eight more the next.

it seems my stroke did not have a pronounced enough body swivel in the water and in addition to being inefficient was causing me to swim 'flat' which was making it hard for me to get good breaths of air. i'm crediting getting over this three year hurdle to a confident-rich, moxy-full kid i've never met named jimmy dshea. he posted a youTube video about the freestyle and stressed the importance of swiveling your body. his emphasis put this in my head and made me more conscious of this mechanic the next time i swam, which was this last saturday.

so while i still haven't yet gotten my mile, i now possess everything i need and plan on making quick work of this next bit. for my next challenge, i'm going to try to become as charismatic as my new and revered swim mentor, jimmy dshea.

GEEK, HOW-TO, COMPUTER, QUOTES (permalink) 01.28.2010
i was kicked off AOL 32 hours after opening the account
when my boss interviews technology people, there is a question he likes to ask towards the end of an interview. if the conversation is going well and he's liking the candidate, he will ask them, "what is the most fun you've ever had with a computer?" then after a pregnant pause and gauging their initial reaction to the question, he adds, "that you can talk about in a job interview."

one of my personal hobbies is collecting thoughtful thoughts. i don't care what the focus or the nature of the thought is, only that it was born out of thoughtfulness. this interview question is one of my collection favorites.

HOW-TO, PERSONAL, LIFE (permalink) 01.14.2010
still regimented

click to enlarge

or view the side by side comparison to see what's changed in three years

click to enlarge

HOW-TO, PERSONAL, LIFE (permalink) 04.03.2007

click to enlarge

QUOTES, HOW-TO (permalink) 06.22.2005
a shiny new laptop would be inconspicuously sexy
Considerable evidence suggest that if we use an increase in our incomes, as many of us do, simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not end up any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods - such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job - then the evidence paints a very different picture. The less we spend on conspicuous consumption goods, the better we can afford to alleviate congestion; and the more time we can devote to family and friends, to exercise, sleep, travel and other restorative activities. On the best available evidence, reallocating our time and money in these and similar ways would result in healthier, longer - and happier - lives.
excerpt from How not to buy happiness by Robert H. Frank as published in the MIT Press.

HOW-TO (permalink) 06.21.2005
the man does make a point
i recently met a guy who claimed to have the perfect wallet solution. when i asked what it was he got very excited, like no one ever asked him to share before me. he leaned forward in his chair and reached behind him, fumbling with his back pocket. after a moment he brought his hand forward holding it in front of me. in his open palm was a mess of credit cards, money, scraps of paper and god knows what else jutting in all directions. there wasn't as much as a paper clip or rubber band holding the collection together.

so, where's the wallet?

that's it.

but that's not a wallet. that's a pile of shit.

yes. i know. it's brilliant isn't it?

what's so brilliant about it?

it's brilliant because you'd be a lunatic to set this down anywhere, stuff would go everywhere. you will never loose this wallet.

WEB, COMPUTER, GEEK, HOW-TO (permalink) 09.21.2004
securing your windows machine is as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... 37, 38
i read the following over on kottke. i wanted to share it with people at work but given our company's policy against allowing us to access any sites of interest, kottke's a no-go. and since my site has surprisingly eluded their 'things people might like to read' index, i thought i'd share it up on my own unnoticed web site.

for those of us relegated to use the wonderfully porous windoze environment, what follows is a list of steps to help protect you from them.

8 steps to better windows security
  1. Run Windows Update regularly.

  2. Install ZoneAlarm (Firewall)

  3. Buy and install NOD32 (Anti-Virus)

  4. Install WinPatrol (Anti-Hijack)

  5. Buy and install AdMuncher (Ad and Popup Blocker)

  6. Install and run AdAware (Anti-Spyware)

  7. Replace Internet Explorer and Outlook Express with Firefox & Thunderbird

  8. Disable Autorun.

i haven't tried this yet, but am planning to in the very near future. and i also thank the guy who took the time to put this invaluable list together. anyone who makes me work less is top notch in my world.

HOW-TO (permalink) 06.11.2003
drafting is good for the sinuses
when you see guys biking in a tight, single file row, it's called drafting. conceptually, its the same thing you see in auto racing. the basic premise goes that the person in front takes all the wind and you just float behind them exerting a fraction of the energy to achieve the same speed.

Man Who Screams Like Woman received a primer on the art of drafting from a friend because they are about to bike across the state of iowa together. it would seem that cooperative drafting has quite the rituals around it, for both safety and efficiency. for instance the guy in the front of the draft-line is not responsible for watching the road. he's busy working his ass off trying to keep a strong pace for the people behind him. the second man in line is charged with spotting any obstacles in the path where upon he alerts the front man.

additionally, when the lead man's time is done he announces this in some way so the next guy can get ready to step up and the third guy can prepare to birddog the road. the lead guy might yell 'i'm off' or something of the like and swing out of line falling to the back. the physics of the whole dynamic jettison the pack ahead of him where they will slow down a bit to let him catch up. once he's caught up he'll yell 'back on' so they can resume a hearty clip.

the first, and last, time i ever participated in a group ride which included drafting i was behind a stocky female i called sergeant bilko (in my head only). we didn't do all the fancy calling out and stuff because, well frankly, we didn't know about such etiquette. i spent most of the time staring at my front tire as it related to her back tire. it gets to be quite mesmerizing at about mile 30 and you'll find yourself zoning out. zoning out until you hear a funny noise and look up only to catch, square in the face, a gelatinous wad of chunk-laden snot shot from bilko's nose under her armpit (ala farmers blow). i heard/saw her loading up the other barrel and only just escaped the second salvo to the very great chagrin of the guy behind me.

in summary;
1. drafting is an efficient way to travel
2. there are numerous reasons to have rules
3. big girl equals big snot
4. it is totally possible to exfoliate/burn three layers of skin off your face and live to tell about it.

HOW-TO (permalink) 07.23.2001
feel stupid
I was never more certain that a word was not a word as when I read the following:

As Sanders LaMont, the ombudsman of The Sacramento Bee, and a former editor of the Modesto Bee, said: ?I think there is a legitimate argument that elected officials have a right to certain privacy.?

It's not the first time I've squinted into the pages of my dictionary with wild amazement..

HOW-TO (permalink) 06.16.2001
subsidize your college education
Tonight a friend working on his masters was complaining about the cost of books and how much more significant it seems when it is coming out of his personal budget and not his parent's checking account. Everybody then reminisced on the end of semester ritual where you would sell books back to the university and how those monies never seemed to make it back into ma and pa?s checking account. One girl sitting quietly to the side said in an almost whisper how she would buy books for classes she wasn?t even taking so she could get extra money back at the end of the semester. The room fell silent and then erupted in overwhelming acceptance and disbelief that no one else had thought of that. I love the simple variations of life and the people who invent them.

HOW-TO, FOOD (permalink) 04.27.2001
Make Red Heaven
Just in time for spring, I offer the following frosty beverage to complement these wonderfully breezy days, assuming your climate is in such a state at this time. Several of the restaurants I wandered into in the Pacific Northwest served this modest derivation to our mid-west staple. Up there in volcano country, they sexy up there lemonade by adding strawberries. A traveling mate intuited the mechanics of this concoction and passed it on. I have since served it up at several social gatherings and the frothy grog has been a raving success. So allow me to share this simple recipe so you may also spread liquid joy to any guests you may entertain in the summer months.

Ingredients: 1 container frozen lemonade concentrate, 1 square of frozen strawberries and water.

Directions: Empty contents of Lemonade, Strawberries and 1 lemonade container of water into blender. Mix well and pour into serving pitcher. Add remaining water as directed by lemonade instructions and enjoy.

HOW-TO (permalink) 09.06.2000
Clip your toenails
Spread tissue or newspapers on the ground to catch nail clippings. Sit on the ground and hold toe clippers in one hand, grasping your foot with the other. Your foot should be placed over the tissue or newspaper. Cut straight across your big toenail. Repeat for other toes. Gather the tissue or paper with clippings and throw away. Inspect ground for escapee clippings. (courtesy of e-how)

this sounds fine and all but if you do not collect your toe shards in a mason jar, how do you send them to a friend via the u.s. postal service once a year.

HOW-TO (permalink) 07.06.2000
Open a Book
Hold the book with its back on a smooth or covered table; let the front board down, then the other, holding the leaves in one hand while you open a few leaves at the back, then a few at the front, and so on, alternately opening back and front, gently pressing open the sections till you reach the center of the volume. Do this two or three times and you will obtain the best results. Open the volume violently or carelessly in any one place and you will likely break the back and cause a start in the leaves. Never force the back of the book. (From Modern Bookbinding)

Always remember to treat your books as you would like your books to treat you. They are our friends.

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