Army Run 2011 – My First 5K

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This spring, I started running.  I started with the Couch to 5K program, which I’d begun but never finished in the Fall.  It was pretty obvious that I hadn’t really run for any duration since my grade 9 mandatory gym class 10 years ago.

After a long and busy summer of working at it, I began to really enjoy the challenge and my results from running.  By the end of June I had completed the program and was working up my speed and distances.  A friend mentioned the Army Run happening in September, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put my running skills to the test.

Throughout August and September, though, my schedule got busy and the weather got colder.  I wasn’t running nearly as often, and when I did, I found I was having serious difficulty pushing myself to run more than 3.5km at a time.  I was worried, and thought I might not be able to complete my goal as race day approached.

But bright and early on Sunday morning, I headed to downtown to partake in my first ever 5K run. It was a beautiful morning, and I joined over 16,000 energetic and excited people ready to run the 5K or half-marathon.

My goal was to just finish the race, but I’d also set a goal for myself to finish the run in under 35 minutes. My personal best on my own runs was about 36 minutes, and I’d heard I would probably knock a bit off of that with all the energy and excitement of the actual race.

After the Howitzer fired, I waited and waited until my section finally made it up to the starting line – I didn’t realize it’d be nearly five minutes between the starting gun fire and when I actually was able to start running… how anticlimactic!

It was a great day to appreciate the scenic route around Parliament Hill and along the Rideau Canal, although I was usually too distracted trying to navigate through the droves of people to enjoy it!

As I approached the finish line and heard all the cheering, it gave me that final boost of energy I needed just as a side-stitch was setting in – and past the finish line I went. I received my awesome dog-tag from a member of the Canadian Army and wore it proudly the rest of the day.

Oh, and about beating my 36 minute record?

Chip time: 32:13.

One thing I unexpectedly discovered was that getting to meet, learn about and support the members of Canada’s Army was almost as rewarding as the run itself.

Thank you to everyone who offered me support and advice to prepare for this run.

Can’t wait until next year!

Scott Fletcher on Developology

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Do you know about Developology? It’s the podcast I host with Sebastiaan van Dijk about software development! We’ve only done a few episodes so far, but this one was particularly special so I wanted to make a note of it. This week, we had our first interview episode – Scott Fletcher joined us to talk about his career path and his insights as a arts-major-turned-developer-turned-CEO.

I realized shortly before we started that while I’ve started to become more and more comfortable recording podcasts over the last few months, this was the first time I was in the interviewer seat, which made me a bit nervous.  It’s one thing to have a co-host who you can talk back and forth about, but having to direct questions and follow a line as it comes is a different skill completely!  Luckily, Scott is a wonderful and understanding interviewee, with insightful responses and he even turned the tables a few times asking questions of us in return.

I recommend you have a listen if for no reason more than to hear the smooth sounds of Mr. Fletcher’s voice as he predicts the future and asks why there are so many programming languages.

You can listen directly to the MP3, or find us on iTunes if you’d like to hear me clumsily try to turn every design pattern into a car metaphor!

Seven Languages in Seven Weeks

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I first heard about this book around the time it was being published last fall.  A review had popped up in my RSS reader and the title of the book immediately stood out to me:  Seven Languages in Seven Weeks by Bruce Tate.  It was as if I had just been offered a challenge – one that seemed perfect for someone like me who, while having some experience, is still fresh out of University where we instead study Two Languages in Four Years.

Of course, we touched on a few other languages in some courses… but when you’re still new and haven’t really gotten your hands dirty, it’s hard to distinguish one language from another.  Why is it important for me to learn C? What would motivate me to use Java instead of C++? (Other than it being the required language of some particular course…) Four years, and I didn’t really learn the answers to these questions.  I really didn’t even know I should be asking them.

And so, I’ve finally accepted Mr. Tate’s challenge, because that is exactly what he has set out to teach.  This book is not meant to make you an expert or convert you to be an enthusiast of any of these languages.  It’s designed to familiarize you with the concepts, motivations, pros and cons of these very different languages and paradigms.

Of the seven languages (Ruby, Io, Prolog, Scala, Erlang, Clojure and Haskell) the only one I’ve had some exposure to is Prolog, and it’s been a few years.  I’m looking forward especially to seeing more on Scala, which I’ve heard plenty of hype for (or against), but have learned little about the language itself.

I’m hoping to write some feedback after each week as I progress through the book, I’m sure it will be quite an adventure and learning experience!

Math class makeover

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I’ve always loved math. Along with physics, it’s been one of the academic subjects that’s kept me interested for as many years as I’ve been able to grasp the concepts. However, while it did cross my mind, I didn’t minor in either subject…. I didn’t even really take any electives. Most likely, it’s because of exactly what Dan Meyer has mentioned in this TED Talk: math is not taught in a way to make it valuable or interesting to students.

As much as I find the subjects intriguing, I’ve always known that what they teach in classes isn’t what interested me. Anyone can take a formula, shove numbers into it and type it into a calculator. But what people really need to learn is how to ask why and how the formula was developed. Even better, as Meyer demonstrates, is to let students develop and test the formulas themselves.

Check it out!

What’s better than hot chocolate?

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What’s better than hot chocolate?  Hot chocolate with stuff in it! Hot chocolate is probably my favourite drink.  There’s nothing like a rich, creamy mug of hot chocolate to warm you up in the winter, or, um, keep you warm in the cool of the air conditioned summer!  Some how, I ended up in a Twitter discussion about the wonders of putting-things-in-hot-chocolate this morning, and I got some tasty ideas.  There’s no need to keep deliciousness a secret, so I decided I’d share my newly updated list of things-to-put-in-hot-chocolate!

  1. Marshmallows. This is a classic, although I haven’t done it in years.  Something about how the marshmallows get warm and a bit soggy with chocolate-y goodness… Mmm!  Extra points if they’re mini-marshmallows!
  2. Cookies. We’ve all had cookies & milk.  But have you tried cookies & hot chocolate?  It’s delicious.  Dunk some crunchy chocolate chip cookies into your hot chocolate and you’ll be rewarded with warm, soft, double chocolate cookies in return.
  3. Coffee. Or is putting hot chocolate in my coffee?  Hmm.  Well anyway, it’s delicious.  At my most frequented Tim Horton’s, I just ask them for a “half-and-half”, and they know what it means.  Gives you that kick of caffeine with the sweet goodness of chocolate without the extra cost of a cafe mocha!
  4. Ice cream. I’ve yet to try this one, but how could it be bad?  Just a scoop of your favourite flavour – I’m thinking some butterscotch swirl or even a good French Vanilla.
  5. Bailey’s Irish Cream. Probably the best known of the alcoholic additions, and for a good reason.  Extra creamy goodness makes this a tasty dessert!  Don’t be afraid to try the different flavours too – mint chocolate, anyone?
  6. Butterscotch Schnapps. This was a pleasant discovery due to having a leftover bottle of the stuff from expirmenting with Harry Potter butter beer recipes.
  7. Raspberry vodka. I’ve always been a bit iffy of the fruit+chocolate combo, but something about this is very appealing to me…  (Maybe it’s the vodka?) Either way, I’ve got a new one to try, thanks to the Twitterati!

And there you have it – my collection of hot chocolate modifications.  I’m sure there’s an endless list of others, and I am making it my personal mission to discover as many as I can!