Feb 102013

Lisa’s mom recently shared a story with us about how she had some food allergy testing done and it was determined that she was allergic to wheat and/or gluten. She had some significant improvements to her skin since she’s stopped eating gluten and is happy with the lifestyle change. This lead Lisa into doing the same and I agreed to support her and do it as well.

I did this once before for about a month. After just 48 hours on the gluten free diet, I noticed immediate improvements with my heart’s ability to recover from strenuous exercise. At the time, my daily bike commute had a steep hill on it and I would always wear a heart rate monitor when riding. If my heart rate would exceed 160 BPM, it would drop below 150 BPM much quicker than when I was eating gluten regularly. Aside from weight-loss, that was the only noticeable change I experienced. Since I’m not a pro-athlete, I went back to eating gluten as part of my regular diet.

Things have been very different this time. After just 48 hours, I noticed swelling in my throat was going away. Swelling that I didn’t know I had…

A few years ago, I saw a doctor for the first time. After examining my throat, she said my airway passage was narrow and  asked if I had sleep apnea. I told her I did. She then asked if I had been diagnosed with it and I said I hadn’t. She asked why I thought I had it and I told her that I had been told that I snored really bad and been told that it sometimes sounded like I was choking in my sleep. She asked if I was tired during the days and I said that I wasn’t but I could easily fall asleep anywhere at any time should I want to. She told me that’s only possible because I was tired. I conceded that I must be and she referred me to a local sleep apnea center for further testing.

The results with my sleep apnea testing were mixed. A device I wore on my head during the night concluded that I had woken up 200-some times during the night, while I thought it was about 8, but for whatever reason, my sleep apnea results fell into a medium range where studies had shown that treatment was inconclusive and therefore, optional. One of the options that was proposed to me was to undergo surgery and have a few plastic stints placed in the soft tissue toward the back of the roof of my mouth. I really did not want to do this, nor was I excited at the notion of sleeping with a CPAP machine at night. Needless to say, I passed on all of the options presented to me since no one could tell me with any confidence that any of the available solutions would resolve my issues.

Fast forward to this week and for 5 days straight, the swelling in my esophagus decreased. As I’m writing this all of the swelling has gone away and my esophagus has returned to its now new normal state. I’m sleeping so much better than I ever had before and my medically diagnosed narrow airway passage was a thing of the past. When I look down my throat in the mirror, it looks cavernous compared to what it once was.

This isn’t the only change that I’ve noticed though. I’ve also noticed significantly less mucus production than before. My nose has way fewer boogers than before and I don’t feel like I have a bunch of phlegm that I need to dispose of.

I don’t have the same bike commute that I once did so I’m not able to determine if my athletic performance has improved this time but I assume it has.

As for Lisa, she’s lost a little weight but hasn’t noticed any other changes just yet. I however, have been so impressed with these changes that I’m going to remain gluten free for the remainder of the month. In March, I’ll try eating and drinking some different things to see if I’ll need to give up all gluten products or if I can just have some here and there. If I need to give it up entirely, I’m OK with that because my quality of life has improved so much for the better.

Feb 042013

During my trip to the Apple store today, I saw:

  • An employee wearing a calculator watch
  • Overheard an employee saying to a customer, “Everything else is Me now.”
  • Saw a female employee dressed JUST like Waldo from “Where’s Waldo?”
  • Another female employee with a snake bite piercing (2 rings in her lower lip).
  • A female employee with an enormous turquoise mohawk.


Jan 012013

One more thing on getting noticed that I found annoying. I specifically remembered applying for a job at a fast growing company that was new to the Portland area with the job title of Operations Analyst. I applied for the job and was excited about the opportunity because I was very interested in working for this company. Then I got the email…

The ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ email. This one was different though. I could tell that it came from someone’s work email address and not a  No-Reply style email script. I responded immediately stating that I was disappointed and asked why I wasn’t being considered. I felt like I was very highly qualified for the position and it caught me off guard to not be considered. A few moments later, she responded stating that they were looking for people with more experience. I let it go at that point but I probably should have pushed back again. You see, I have 15 years of applicable experience for that position but it seemed like she couldn’t see that by looking at my resume. I believe that that was because the job title, Operations Analyst, doesn’t appear on my resume.

IT positions are called a variety of things and the one at my previous company had a very creative name. I believe that the recruiter for this position skimmed my resume and when she didn’t see the phrase Operations Analyst listed as job experience, she moved on.

In hindsight, I wish I had gone back and forth with her. I doubt she would have responded to another email from me but I guess I felt like I needed to prove a point. If she had taken the time to read my resume, she’d have seen that I was highly qualified and a good candidate for the position. My current employer did and they hired me on under the job title of Operations Analyst…

Nov 122012

I’m employed again and I love it! More on that later… (yay!)

I’ve learned a lot of of things over the last 9 months. Here’s what I’ve discovered.

It is really hard to get noticed.

During my unemployed time, I discovered that there are many jobs in Portland that I was qualified for. On average, I applied for about 4 a week but I would only get called back about once for every 12 times I applied for work. I wasn’t applying for work that I wasn’t qualified for either. I usually met at least 90% of the requirements of the job posting that the company was looking for. I’m not interested in wasting a recruiter’s time anymore than I am in wasting mine but I wasn’t getting the callbacks that I was hoping for. Here’s what I did that helped me get hired.

The first thing I read about what the current job market was like stated that it was better to take a ‘less is more’ approach to your resume. Get it all onto one page and anything you did 10 years ago is now irrelevant.

My experience: I got more callbacks on the 2 page version of my resume than I did on the 1 page version.

There’s 2 reasons why this is true for me.

  1. The first company I worked for in my industry (IT) was Intel. My time at Intel ended about 15 years ago but I believe that listing this company’s name on my resume made me more attractive to employers and lead to more callbacks.
  2. I have historically stayed with companies for an average of 6 years. In other words, I’ve only worked at 3 companies as an adult. There are pros and cons of this work history but in my case, I needed to list as much of my work history as possible because there’s not a lot of line items.

Getting through a company’s resume firewall is very difficult.

You find a job that interests you and you begin to apply. You create an account, supply them with all your contact info, and then you upload a resume. Within a minute or two, you get an email that says something along the line of, “Thanks for your interest, we’ll call you if we feel like it, don’t call us.”

My experience: Do what they say and hope for the best but increase your chances of success by customizing your resume.

In the beginning of my search, I trusted that whomever my resume ended up in front of would know that if I listed LAN/WAN/WiFi experience on my resume that they would know that I could support network services. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Make a few different resumes with different words for the same thing and tweak them for each job you apply for. If the company lists TCP/IP as a skill that’s needed, list it on your resume and list it exactly as they did. Matching keywords appears to be the best way to beat these systems because the 24 year old that’s parsing these things isn’t the hiring manager and all they can do is guess if you’re a good fit based on what you’ve listed on your resume and how it reads.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

It was my father that said that the best way for me to get a job would be to extend my social network. Meet people, go to job fares, write letters to companies I wanted to work for, and make cold calls.

My experience: He was right.

I did a lot of this stuff, mostly in social environments and I was always quick to mention that I was between work and asked if they knew of any opportunities. The timing never quite lined up for me to attend any job fares though. I ended up meeting with 3 job recruiters in person and the first 2 were completely worthless. I left them feeling no better off than I did when I woke up that day. The third one I met with left me with a different impression. He seemed knowledgeable and not interested in wasting time. At the end of our meeting, he asked me what my experience had been like with the other recruiters. I said that there have been opportunities but nothing has been a great fit yet. He asked what I was interested in and I told him. At the end of the meeting, I told him that I got a good vibe from him and felt like he was the first recruiter that I had met with that was actually worth a damn. And as it turns out, my impression was correct.

Make the most of your time.

As an adult, I frequently feel like there’s not enough time to get everything done that I’d like to accomplish and I tried to look at my time off as a means to get things done. What did I accomplish?

  • I grouted the kitchen floor
  • Installed doors on all of the closets in the house
  • Tons of landscaping, including shoveling in two units of cedar bark chips
  • Built 2 new raised garden bed planters
  • Sold over $1000 of stuff on eBay
  • Started studying for the Comp TIA A+ certification
  • Traveled often
  • Implemented an exercise program I love
  • Made significant improvements to my golf game
  • Digitized tons of media

Staying busy is the key to sanity. If all you do is clean the house, mow the lawn, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and cook meals, you’ll eventually lose your mind. Study something, take up a hobby, volunteer your time; anything. Just stay busy or you will go crazy.

As a side note, I will do a few more posts about my job hunting experiences, including the job I found, and then I’ll take the blog in a new direction that will be mostly helpful tips on life.

Jul 242012

The 2012 Tour de France came to a close Sunday and Bradley Wiggins, the favorite to win it all, stood on the top of the podium sporting the yellow jersey. It wasn’t a surprise but it did mark the first time a British rider would win the Tour de France. Here’s the most memorable moments from the 2012 Tour de France.

Peter Sagan wins stage 1 in style.

Peter Sagan does the “Forest Gump” during stage 1 of the 2012 Tour de France

We all knew that Mark Cavendish was hands down the best sprinter in the race but we didn’t know how he’d perform without the dedicated lead out train that’s he had on his previous team. Now a member of Team Sky, their focus was squarely on putting Bradley Wiggins in the yellow jersey. Simply put, Cavendish would have to make his own fortune. Cavendish won his fair share of stages for sure, but it was Peter Sagan, racing in his first Tour de France ever, that stole the sprint finishes and won the green sprinter’s jersey. He announced himself in style on stage 1 when he crossed the line doing the “Forest Gump”.

Chris Froome had more to give.

Chris Froome paces Bradley Wiggins up a mountain.

Chris Froome proved that he had what it takes to ultimately win the Tour de France. But there was a problem. He was riding on the same team as his teammate and team captain Bradley Wiggins. On more than one occasion, Froome was shown dropping his team’s captain on his way up the high mountains. I got the impression that there was some miscommunication that lead to these moments as he would quickly slow down his pace and let his captain catch up so that he could resume pacing him up the mountain. It was easy to tell that Chris Froome was clearly the best rider of the high mountains this year despite not winning the King of the Mountains jersey. He won something better, 2nd place at the Tour de France. Chris Froome’s story will be the one to follow in the off season. Will he remain on Team Sky or will he go to another team that’s in need of a GC rider? Time will tell.

Marc Madiot screams at Thibaut Tibot on Stage 8.

French rider Thibaut Tibot would attack on Stage 8 of the Tour de France and would go on to inevitably win the stage. That’s all well and good but the memorable part of the day was when team manager Marc Madiot was shown on the TV riding in a car behind him encouraging his rider by yelling at him. This is odd because all of the riders in the race wear radios so that they can communicate with their team’s manager. Madiot was apparently so excited he would forego the radio in favor of yelling out the window. This video does not accurately capture what this was like. He yelled for about 5 minutes straight.

Thomas Voeckler wins the King of the Mountains title for France.

France loves their riders and Thomas Voeckler winning the King of the Mountains classification was a wonderful moment for France. Most riders will don some sort of special equipment to match their jersey in the event that they were to win one of the special jerseys from the race. Thomas Voeckler may have taken things a little too far though.

Thomas Voeckler embraces the polka dots to a ridiculous extreme

George Hincapie completes a record 16th Tour de France.

The real workhorse of the Tour de France

George Hincapie has been a part of 9 winning Tour de France teams and has completed 16 Tour de France races. It’s an astounding statistic when you consider how frequently people crash and end up abandoning the race. 198 racers started this year’s race and 45 people abandoned it. Nearly 1/4th of the entire field failed to complete the race yet Hincapie has completed it 16 times. For many riders, simply participating in the race is an honor. He’s finished it 16 times and won 4 stages. An incredible career.

Hincapie has recently come under some controversy for allegedly outing Lance Armstrong, former teammates and himself for having used performance enhancing drugs in their careers. Certainly not the greatest moment of his career.

Mark Cavendish passes Lance Armstrong for most stage wins in the Tour de France.

Even without the dedicated lead out train, Mark Cavendish was able to win multiple stages of this year’s Tour de France, including the coveted final stage in Paris that he’s now won for a record 4th time. He wasn’t able to lock up the green jersey but he was able to pass Lance Armstrong and move into 4th place overall for stage wins at the Tour de France. Cavendish now has 23 stage wins while Eddie Merckx holds the record with 34 wins. There’s still a lot of work to do there for Cavendish if he wants that record for himself.

It wasn’t all great though…

Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de France.

I have no issues with Bradley Wiggins winning and honestly find him quite likable. It’s just less exciting when the favorite to win the race prior to the start goes on to win it. In Wiggins’ case, he wasn’t even tested. It was easy for him and that made it less exciting to watch. The race wasn’t as exciting this year without Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador, and Thor Hushovdt.

Frank Schleck tests positive for a banned diuretic.

Andy and Frank Schleck have always had the reputation of being clean riders that are good for the sport. That all went out the window this year when it was announced that Frank Schleck had tested positive for Xipamide. Diuretics are commonly used to reduce weight which would make riding in the high mountains easier but they’re also used to flush your system of other performance enhancing drugs. After testing positive, Frank Schleck immediately abandoned the race, declared his innocence by stating if he tested positive, he was poisoned somehow, and now he has requested that his B sample be tested. There is no ban that will be imposed for this infraction but it does tarnish his reputation considerably.

Armstrong’s former teammates go on record

A number of Lance Armstrong’s former teammates confessed to having used performance enhancing drugs in the past and accused Armstrong of doing so as well. This news came out during the first week of the Tour de France this year. Every year something like this happens on cycling’s biggest stage. These accusations always come out when everyone is paying attention to the sport of cycling. This case is high profile and we’ll see what happens next.

45 riders abandoned the race

Crashes are incredibly common during this race and riders are frequently forced to abandon. I’m unaware of what the record is for most abandons but I do know that 45 abandons is more than what has happened in any edition of the race in the last 5 years.

Jul 232012

The final stage of the Tour de France is largely a ceremonial showcase for the winner of the yellow jersey, as well as each of the other jersey winners, but it’s also the final opportunity for the sprinters to capture a stage victory. Traditionally, the winner of the tour poses with his team and the other jersey winners at the front of the peloton for photo opportunities. Sometimes they celebrate by sipping some champagne on the ride as well.

In this year’s race, it is also the final opportunity to pay homage to George Hincapie, the only man to complete 16 Tour de France races. Prior to the race, Big George had announced that this would be his final race.

Hincapie rode in support of each of Lance Armstrong’s TdF wins

Normally it’s enough just to recognize someone that’s completed so many grueling races but Hincapie’s contributions go well beyond just finishing the races. Hincapie was on 9 different TdF teams that had the overall winner of the Tour de France. 7 were with Lance Armstrong, 1 with Alberto Contador, and 1 with Cadel Evans. That’s a pretty good career, even if it’s marred with controversy.

Hincapie has recently outed Armstrong as having used performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong is currently involved in a battle with an anti-doping agency that’s accusing him of cheating in all of his 7 Tour de France victories. We’ll see what happens with that in time. For now, back to the race…

Stage 20 has a small circuit that’s covered repeatedly up and down the streets of Paris near the Arc de Triomphe and the Chomps Elysees where the streets are lined heavily with hundreds of thousands of people cheering on the riders. Each lap of the route slowly gets faster until the final lap when the sprinters take over.

Mark Cavendish has never lost this stage and is considered a huge favorite to win the stage. Team Sky has locked up the 1-2 finish with Wiggins and Froome and are expected to ride in support of Cavendish in order to give him the stage win.

There is always a break away team on the final stage though. They never survive. This year, there were 11 riders on the break away stage. At one point, 3 of them survived and they had opened up a time gap of about 24 seconds at the peak. They wouldn’t survive though. The peloton, lead by teams Liquigas and Sky would crank up the speed and ultimately chase them down with about 1.6 miles to go. The sprint teams would be able to line themselves up to create lead out trains for their sprinters.

Wiggins lead out Boasson Hagen and Cavendish with .5 to go. They were in perfect position. Cav fired on the final straight away and easily took the stage. It’s the perfect ending to the perfect race that Team Sky ran.

L to R, Sagan, Wiggins, Voeckler, and Van Garderen.

Jul 212012

Time trials are typically not the most fun events to watch on TV but they are the purest form of competition available during the bike race. Each of the riders will race the same course, one at a time, and whomever does it quickest that day will be the winner.

It seems logical but it’s a different strategy than what normally happens in a bike race. You see, it doesn’t matter how quickly you race any individual stage, it just matters that you finish first. Conserving energy until the very end is one of the most popular strategies. But as I stated, that strategy will not work in a time trial. If you’re going to do well, you’ll have to sprint for about 30 miles and hope you’ve done well.

Fabian Cancellara is a master of the time trials and thrives on the more technical courses that tend to have hairpin turns.

Another day at the office for Fabian Cancellara

Unfortunately for Cancellara, today’s course is not technical and therefore doesn’t favor him as much as usual.

There’s a saying that the man wearing the yellow jersey is able to ride with the strength of a dozen men. I expect that would hold true on today’s time trial and the stage win should go to Bradley Wiggins.

Bradley Wiggins time triall bike

They start the riders based on their overall position in the race. The racer in last place will start first and the rider in first place will go last. This is an advantage to the riders in the top 10 because they’ll have received a lot of feedback from team mates about the course and they’ll know what time they have to beat in order to win the stage.

Bradley Wiggins at the start of the Time Trial

Through the intermediate check point, 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans was only in 55th place for the day. A poor performance for sure. Tejay Van Garderen set a new best time when he crossed through the intermediate check which signals that he’s potentially a future Tour de France winner. Then Chris Froome would set a new best at the check point which wouldn’t hold up for long. Wiggins would do what many expected and post the best time at the check point, by 12 seconds, an eternity by these standards.

Cadel Evans’ form was so poor on this day that Tejay Van Garderen would be able to chase him down over the 3 minute lead time and pass his team mate. It was the most literal passing of the torch you could ever see in sports. It was a new day for team BMC and that day was Tejay’s.

Wiggins was an astonishing 53 seconds faster than Froome through the 2nd check point. He’s on pace to lay waste to the field. Cadel would wind up finishing over 4 minutes behind the day’s stage winner.

Chris Froome would set the best time of the day when he crossed the finish line but that wouldn’t stand for long as Bradley Wiggins went on to win his 2nd stage of the 2012 Tour de France by a staggering 1:16.

Bradley Wiggins celebrates winning the stage!

Wiggins has dominated this tour from wire to wire. It’s nice to see him celebrate now that the pressure is officially off of him. With one stage remaining, he’ll ride into Paris tomorrow in style.

Stage 20 Preview

Stage 20 Profile

The final stage of the Tour de France is one for celebration for each of the men donning one of the coveted trophy jerseys. This stage is also the most coveted stage win by all of the sprinters as the crowds are enormous. Expect Mark Cavendish to get one more stage win as he inches closer and closer to becoming the all time stage winner at the Tour de France.

Jul 212012

Stage 18 produced one of the most exciting finishes of this year’s edition of the Tour de France.

A large break away formed early with 16 riders. Included in the bunch were Vinokourov, the rider I predicted that would win today’s stage. Vino would attack repeatedly until he was able to drop all but 2 other riders in the break away. A 3 man chase group would form and eventually ride across the gap to reform a 6 man break away. The peloton was in hot pursuit because they wanted to setup their sprinters for the finish. The pace of the last 10 miles was ridiculous with the break away fueled by Vino and the Peloton by the sprinter’s teams.

And then it rained. It felt like anything could happen at the finish. The break away could survive. Vino could get a stage win in his last Tour de France ever. The peloton could catch them. There could be a huge crash near the finish line. Anything could happen but whatever the finish was, it would be exciting.

During the final stretch, Wiggins lead out Cavendish again — something no other man that sported the yellow jersey would consider due to the risks involved. Wiggins peeled off and Cav sprinted across the gap that now contained only 2 break away riders. Vino fell off and would not get the stage win. Then Cavendish kicked into turbo mode and destroyed the field. The ease in which he accelerated was unreal. It was his stage all along and he knew it.

Here’s footage of the finish.

The finish was:

  1. Cavendish
  2. Goss
  3. Sagan

Cavendish was in a league of his own today.

Mark Cavendish annihilates the field on stage 18 of the Tour de France

Stage 19 Preview

Stage 19 Profile. 33 mile Individual Time Trial.

Expect the Time Trial specialists to be in the mix including — Bradley Wiggins, Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin, and possibly Cadel Evans.