December
20
Posted on 20-12-2015
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

This past week was the 1st anniversary of the opening of Locale Market at Sundial St. Petersburg. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that last Tuesday was only the second time I set foot in the place. I had, of course, heard much of Locale market. Whenever I hosted a potluck in the last year, at least one of my friends was likely to bring something delicious from Locale.

At first, I thought it was just a fancy specialty grocery store, but a few weeks ago a friend hosted his daughter’s birthday party upstairs at the Farmtable kitchen. The atmosphere was friendly and communal. We broke bread together and enjoyed each other’s company with tasty small plates and bottles of wine.

dryaged

Beef heaven, aka the dry aging room at Locale Market

Last week, I was finally able to tour the Locale Market and now I feel like I understand the big picture. Locale is the perfect neighborhood market. It’s convenient to just about everything downtown and it seamlessly provides delicious meals for a host of different people.

Are you in the mood to get creative and prepare something in your own kitchen with fantastic fresh ingredients? Locale has you covered. From rare dry goods to cheeses and produce so fresh that it’s still growing right there in the store, you’ll have no problem trying new and delicious things. For me, the most impressive part of Locale Market is the meat and seafood. The beef is dry aged right there in the market. I haven’t seen so much dry aged beef since I had dinner at a steakhouse on my last trip to Las Vegas. It doesn’t stop there, though. There’s pork and poultry and fresh creative sausages made on site. 90% of the seafood comes from coastal Florida waters!

seafood

Everything but the salmon comes from Florida coastal waters.

Let’s say you’ve just had a long day at work and you want to get home and eat. Walk on over to the other side of the counter and you’ll find much of this awesome fresh food prepared for you. Worried that your meat or seafood has been sitting under a heat lamp all day? Don’t. You’ll actually pick your cut and one of the chefs will prepare it right in front of you. Pair that with one of the many prepared sides and you’re good to go.

grill

The grill is a great place to get fresh, local burgers and sandwiches on the run.

On the other hand, you may be rushing in for lunch. Locale has you covered there too. Head on over to the grill. It’s a counter service restaurant. Just place your order, the chefs will cook it up for you and you can take it to go or dine outside. The grill features the “St. Petersburger”, which is a phenomenally tasty treat constucted of dry aged beef, double smoked bacon, grilled mushrooms, caramelized onions, and gouda cheese.

drinks

The drinks are pretty good too. I recommend the sangria.

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, head upstairs to the Farmtable Kitchen. Here, you can have a seat at the bar or the farmtable and sip on some wine or craft beer while the fabulous waitstaff takes care of you. You’ll enjoy several different fresh pizzas, and a few delectable entrees. I highly recommend getting a group of friends together and passing around several of the small plates. These include steamed clams sourced from Two Docks shellfish, right across the Skyway in Bradenton, some fantastic chicken wings, and crispy pork cracklins with an unexpected kick, among many other options.

The vibe at the Farmtable kitchen is very much one of community. It’s the perfect place to break bread with friends (old and new) and simply enjoy a freshly prepared meal together. I’m proud that chefs Michael Mina and Don Pintabona decided to bring Locale Market and Farmtable Kitchen to St. Petersburg. It’s a welcome addition to our unique, vibrant and growing downtown community.

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December
22
Posted on 22-12-2014
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

Most of my readers know that in addition to being a runner, I’m trained as an oceanographer and have been working in that field since 1998. Since I don’t blog very often anymore, most of my readers probably don’t know that I left the field in October and started working as a software engineer at Accusoft. I’ve had a lot of fun working with the SaaS team developing PrizmShare, a fast and easy way to share documents of all types in the cloud. In my short tenure at Accusoft, I’ve played a large part in developing the site search feature of PrizmShare. This involves extracting the text from documents of all types and indexing it so that it can later be searched.

Some of the documents shared on PrizmShare can be quite large and contain 100MB or more of text. For so many reasons, I believe all of this text should be easily searchable (unless the owner wishes to keep it private). In the near future, we’ll likely expose all of that text to our internal search engine. While thinking through that project, I asked myself (and the team) how much we should expose to external search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

In an ideal world, the answer would be, “all of it” but exposing hundreds of megabytes of plain text on every visit to a document’s page would not provide an ideal experience to a user or a search engine bot. It could also get very costly for the company.

We can easily deal with the user experience by dynamically loading more text as the user scrolls down on the page. This is how things already work within our document viewer. The plain text is for those who use text to speech software or other technology that requires plain text rather than an image of the document.

The plain text is also what gets processed by search engine spiders, but these automated programs aren’t so good at acting like humans. They don’t trigger events (clicks, scrolling, etc) on a page like humans do. So, they can only be relied upon to read whatever text is originally delivered with the page. Where is the tipping point between providing maximum text to the search engine spiders and losing the optimal user experience?

Search engines have their own performance issues. They are keen to keep their own user experience optimal, so it makes sense that their automated spiders would probably have a limit to the amount of data they retrieve for a given page. What is this limit? That’s a little more difficult to find out. With the exception of an experiment from 2006 and some speculation, I’ve been unable to find anything about the topic. So, I decided to conduct my own experiment.

I chose three domains that I own, but I’m not currently using. Each domain received an index file that points to 5 other files. Each of these files contains the entire text of Alice in Wonderland, followed by a series of random words. The files are 250KB, 500KB, 1000KB, 2000KB and 5000KB, respectively in size. Within the series of random words, a unique set of 10 “gibberish” characters was placed every 10KB. The gibberish sequences appear no more than once in a given document and no gibberish sequence appears in more than one document.

Once the files are indexed by the major search engines, I should be able to ascertain how much of each file was indexed by performing a domain search for each gibberish sequence. I’ll post the results when I’ve got them. In the meantime, you can check out the experiment at the following three domains:

Domain 1 containing 5 files: two fifty, five hundred, one thousand, two thousand, five thousand

Domain 2

Domain 3 containing 5 files: two hundred fifty, five hundred, one thousand, two thousand, five thousand

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December
16
Posted on 16-12-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

In recent months, much ado has been made about a September Wall Street Journal article called “The Slowest Generation: Younger Athletes are Racing with Less Concern about Time“. It claims that there are fewer “super competitive” runners in their 20’s and 30’s than there were when the baby boomers were in their 20’s and 30’s. The article even suggests this is the reason that the United States hasn’t won a medal in the marathon since 2004.

median-times

Median marathon times for U.S. men and women from 1980 – 2012. Source: Running USA annual marathon report (http://www.runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=332)

 

Last I checked the official baby boomers ranged in age from 40 to 58 years old in 2004. Those silver medals were won by 29 year old Meb Keflezighi and 31 year old Deena Kastor. Meb’s silver medal was the first medal in the marathon by an American male since Frank Shorter took silver in the 1976 Montreal games. Deena’s bronze medal was only the second medal ever for an America woman. The only other was Joan Benoit’s gold medal for the first ever women’s Olympic marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The baby boomers have hardly been more successful at the marathon than the younger generation.

I think the article’s focus on median times overlooks an important point as well. There are a whole lot more people participating in endurance sports now than there have ever been in the past. Marathons were places where only elite runners dared toe the line. Back in the day, if you couldn’t run under 3 hours you didn’t bother showing up for the Boston marathon.

marathon-participation

United States marathon participation 1980-2012. The New York City marathon was excluded from the 2012 data since it was cancelled due to Super Storm Sandy. Source: Running USA Annual Marathon Report (http://www.runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=332)

 

So, yes there are slower people running races now and that has made the median times slower, but having more participants is nothing but good for the sport. More runners means more races and more equipment sold. That translates into more sponsorship dollars and bigger prizes for the elites. It also translates into a healthier general population.

I don’t buy the argument that there are less “super competitive” people in the younger generation either. The American records for all running distances keep getting lower. New American records in the marathon, half-marathon, 10,000 m and 5000 m have all been set in the last 6 years. Galen Rupp won silver in the 10,000 m in London. Shalane Flanigan got Bronze in the 10,000 m in Beijing.

At the end of the day, everyone has their own goals. There are those who run just to finish and those who run to PR. There are elite runners who run for money and to break world records. We’re all runners and we all coexist. If a race is well organized, slower runners will never get in the way of elites so why does it matter if they run slow? The race organizers have figured out how long it is profitable to close the streets for the course and they set their required paces accordingly. If there’s any difference in the younger generation it’s that they’re willing to participate in a race even if they have no chance of competing for some sort of victory. I’ll take that over people who are afraid to enter a race because they think they’re too slow. It’s better than not running at all, and that’s what was happening in the 80’s.

Different strokes for different folks, I say. None of this is really a comment on any generation. There are just more options available today and different people are enjoying different forms of recreation. Sometimes that happens to be in the same event. I can agree that if you sign up for a race that has a finisher’s medal than you need to finish the race to get the medal. That’s a rule of the game, but if you sign up for the color run you should probably run slow because the whole point there is to be covered in as much colors as possible. Who care’s if it’s not timed? It’s not a race!

Were recreational bowling leagues of the 60’s an indication of that generation’s laziness? How about beer league softball? Every culture has its favored form of recreation – its way to unwind from the rigors of everyday life. For more and more people, that is running. It is fueling a running boom and it is a good thing at any pace.

What do you think?

 

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April
12
Posted on 12-04-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

At a recent meeting of Tampa Bay area bloggers, I was introduced to Geo-caching. That night, I downloaded an app for my phone and (accompanied by Alice‘s birthday party-goers) found my first cache just over a quarter mile from my home. It occurred to me at some point that Geo-caching might be a fun exercise for the cross country or track teams.

Since the district Track & Field championships are tomorrow, I’ve given the distance runners relatively low key workouts this week. Yesterday was supposed to be an easy three mile run, but everybody thought that was pretty boring. So, we went geo-caching instead. We grabbed some stickers from the school’s advancement office and off we went. The first cache was a half mile run away. We found the camouflage painted peanut container pretty quickly and it was full of goodies. We traded some of our stickers for a few goodies from the cache, signed the log and headed off to the next cache a half mile in the other direction.

That cache was a duct tape wallet with a signed dollar inside! Score! The third cache was another 3/4 mile away. We were excited because it was described as a coffee can, so we expected a lot of goodies inside. We headed to the cache position and looked around. We found a dead dog and some other things we would have preferred not to see, but unfortunately did not find the hidden cache. We know we were close because others described seeing the dead dog near the cache so perhaps we’ll have to return and look for it again.

Our haul from an hour of Geo-caching.

By the end of practice, we had run about 3.5 miles in the process of Geo-caching. Sure, there was a lot of downtime while we searched for the caches, but it was planned as an easy day anyway. The goal was simply to get some movement in our legs without taxing ourselves too much. We accomplished that goal and everyone had fun!

On the personal running front, I’ve logged 15.5 miles so far this week so I should end up with 20-25 miles by the end of the week and that’s exactly where I want to be.

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September
13
Posted on 13-09-2011
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

I just thought I’d drop a quick note to let you all know that I’ll be hosting the #FitBlog chat tonight at 9 PM ET. #FitBlog chats happen via twitter and focus on staying healthy, blogging and blogging about staying healthy. Tonight, we’ll be discussing “Running: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. You can learn more on the FitBlog website.

If you’ve never participated in a #FitBlog chat, it can be a little overwhelming. I recommend using the handy application on the FitBlog website to monitor the general conversation. It allows you to pause and slow down updates to the conversation so things are easier to follow. In a separate window, use twitter.com’s @reply tab to monitor responses directed toward you.

I hope to see you all there. This is my first time hosting, so go easy on me!

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February
17
Posted on 17-02-2011
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

Not running it….but if you want to, the Fresh Air fund still has some spots available for runners on the Fresh Air Fund-Racers team. The Fresh Air Fund provides runners with guaranteed entry in exchange for fundraising before race day. Over the past four years as a NY Road Runners charity partner for the NYC Half-Marathon, 335 Fund-Racers have raised close to $400,000 for The Fresh Air Fund!

In addition to “fund-racers”, the Fresh Air Fund is also looking for host families this summer. Friendly Town host families are volunteers who live in the suburbs or small town communities. Host families range in size, ethnicity and background, but share the desire to open their hearts and homes to give city children an experience they will never forget. Hosts say the Fresh Air experience is as enriching for their own families, as it is for the inner-city children. There are no financial requirements for hosting a child. Volunteers may request the age-group and gender of the Fresh Air youngster they would like to host. If you’re interested, you can read stories about real Fresh Air host families and their New York City visitors are here.

THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2010, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

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November
01
Posted on 01-11-2010
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

I usually don’t comment much on professional racing because I don’t really follow it all that much.  I do follow Ryan Hall on Twitter and I was surprised to see that he’s splitting with the Mammoth Track Club and Terrance Mahon.  From his explanation, it certainly sounds like he’s going solo and it’s not exactly clear what he means by “taking his running to the next level”.  Many think he’s making a bad move by attempting to coach himself and others think he’s lost his competitive drive, hoping to only achieve some sort of spiritual euphoria in his running.

For those of you who don’t know, Ryan and his wife Sara are very religious people.  They’ve founded the Hall Steps Foundation to fund initiatives that tackle structural causes of poverty such as chronic lack of access to basic entitlements including clean water, shelter and physical security.  Ryan often tweets about God and Jesus and the foundation and it’s clear that his main priority in life is his faith and this mission.  Those of you who know me well know that I’m not at all religious.  I tend to inwardly roll my eyes when people talk about running for Jesus, but everyone has they’re motivation and I’m not going to say mine is better or worse than anyone else’s.

The important thing to note is that Ryan Hall doesn’t owe us anything.  Sure, he’s been billed as America’s best chance at an Olympic gold in the marathon, but if he doesn’t want to be competitive and he’s comfortable leaving that behind, then we should be too.  If we can’t, then shame on us for living vicariously through him and not pursuing our own dreams.  Kudos to him for making a gutsy decision.

This is all speculation, of course.  Ryan Hall may show up self trained at a mysterious spring marathon and set a new American record.  Either way, he’ll be responsible for ultimate results of his decision (good or bad) and I’m quite certain he’s perfectly happy to accept that responsibility.

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June
17
Posted on 17-06-2010
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

Sometimes there are perks to being a running blogger.  Lindsay gets Sugoi gear and Gu after all.  I’m not quite so lucky, but I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Get in the Kitchen Bit@es signed by author Jason Bailin.  While I haven’t enjoyed it quite as much any novel I’ve ever read, it is probably the best cookbook I’ve perused (at least for entertainment value) in quite some time.

Featuring iconic recipes such as “On your knees! Chicken” and “Bend Me Over Beef”, Get in the Kitchen Bit@hes is a useful companion to those who don’t really have much of a clue about cooking.  In fact, I’m thinking of sending a copy to Lindsay as a wedding present.  The recipes are rated using a simple three point system:

1)  Dumb Ass – easy

2)  The Little Chef that Could- medium

3)  Are you F%@king Kidding Me? – hard

In actuality, most of the recipes are pretty simple and laid out in an easy to follow fashion interspersed with black and white photos of the author and his friends cooking in lingerie and/or various BDSM poses.  There are also useful “words of wisdom” such as,

Adding salty flavors to fruity flavors will convert the sweetness from a typical desert type dish to a dinner-type dish.

I tried the “Curry Up!’ recipe last night and thankfully it came out quite well considering it was rated “Dumb Ass”.  If you don’t know how to cook, this is the cookbook for you.  While the photos may be intimidating, the recipes aren’t and the book actually teaches you just enough about cooking in general to branch out to more difficult recipes, or to experiment with flavors on your own.  The whole thing is certainly tongue in cheek, but it’s perfect for the bachelor/bachelorette who has been living on take out and frozen meals for the last 3 years.

It’s time to get domesticated, bit@es!

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October
06
Posted on 06-10-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

This week was a race week so the mileage was intentionally a little low.  Still, there were a few missed workouts do to some pain the my groin area and life got in the way with some car trouble on Monday so the mileage ended up even lower than planned.  Here’s how it went:

Tuesday AM: 6 miles easy treadmill + lower body strength

Tuesday PM: 4 miles easy

Wednesday AM: 4x1mile + 6x200m + 1 mile (10 miles total)

Thursday AM: 4 miles easy treadmill

Friday AM: 2.5 miles easy

Saturday: 10K Race + warmup = 7 miles

Sunday: 60 minutes (20.5 miles) stationary bike

Total: 33.5 miles

Here are a couple pictures from the race for the cure on Saturday:

group

Me, Alice, Raffi and Denise (rundmt) before the race

Mid-race photo by Denise as we passed each other

Mid-race photo by Denise as we passed each other

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July
31
Posted on 31-07-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Brian

I often talk about how flat Florida can be, but I rarely talk about how buggy it can be sometimes. Monday afternoon was one of those times. So, I’ll illustrate with a photo Friday:

bugs

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