Sunday, December 16, 2012

Support the Blog

You're going to shop at Amazon for Christmas anyway, so use my Amazon link and I'll get to wet my beak a little...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my birthday today and this is what I'm getting myself:

I'll let you know how it works out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stacking the Supplements

I'm starting a new diet cycle.  This time around, I'm running with Tim Ferriss' slow-carb approach.  Slow-Carb is a cyclical Ketogenic diet, which cycles off one day a week.  To make the cheat day work, you really need to be doing some gym time, so I'm up in the gym 3 days a week.  On top of that, the diet works best with a recommended supplement stack consisting of:

Policosanol (23 mg once a day at bedtime)
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) (600 mg 3 times a day and 300 mg at bedtime)
Garlic Extract (300 mg 3 times a day and 200 mg at bedtime)
EGCG (green tea extract) (405 mg 3 times a day)

That stack referred to as PAGG, and the reviews say it works like a charm.  Stay tuned and we'll see.  I'm also taking a triple-strength fish oil supplement and some psyllium fiber, which is a big-time requirement if you're cutting down carbs.  I'm also taking Vitapaks from GNC.

I'm also anxiously awaiting the Alpha Brain from Onnit labs that I recently ordered.  It's supposed to sharpen you up and get you ready for a bit of the old ultraviolence.  :-)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Grand Prix Restoration Project

I have a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix that I haven't driven in about a year and a half.  I've been saving it to fix up for my son when he gets his license later this year.  Well, the time has come to start this restoration project.  Here's the list of stuff I need to accomplish:
  • Clean the engine compartment
  • Replace battery cables to support top-post battery
  • Cooling system flush and seal
  • Power steering seal
  • Air conditioning charge
  • Window motor replacement x 3
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Paint job
I'll be taking videos as I go and putting them on Youtube.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What's Up?

I just looked up and realized it's been a month since I last posted here and it's about time for an update. In the last month, I've read exactly 1 chapter from my CCNP Route Foundation Learning Guide, so I definitely need to kick it up a notch in that department. I did do a revamp of my NetLab and I feel really good about how it's coming together. We finished shutting down our Allen Data Center, so I took some of the ancillary switches from that and created a really good CCNP switching scenario, complete with Core, Distribution and Access Layers. With that layout, a user can basically perform every skill required for the CCNP SWITCH exam. I also have 11 routers and a full frame-relay mesh switch, which is more than adequate for all CCNP and CCIE lab practice scenarios.

With the data center shutdown and some other large work efforts on the job, reading for the exam hasn't exactly taken priority.  Maybe after I get into the meatier chapters, I'll be able to stick with it.  We'll see how that goes.

Also this month, I had an automotive episode where I spent a week dealing with a cooling issue.  Turns out, a worn out elbow in a $2 plastic heater hose connection can take down a supercharged 3.8L V6 engine.  Here's how it went down:
Day 1 - I got home from work and noticed that the car was a bit hot.
Day 2 - The car overheated first thing the next morning.  I limped it back to the house and worked from home that day.  That night, I replaced the thermostat and bled the system.  A test drive showed no problems.
Day 3 -The car made it about 20 minutes before overheating.  I caught a ride the rest of the way to work and then limped it home after work.  Steam appeared to be escaping from near where the lower radiator hose attached to the block.
Day 4 - I drove my wife's car to work and plotted my next step.
Day 5 - It was a rainy Saturday, so I let it sit.
Day 6 - I replaced the lower radiator hose, flushed the radiator and still had steam escaping.  I began to suspect that I had a cracked intake manifold gasket.  I decided to run some stuff through the cooling system that can fix leaks.  When you run that stuff through the system, you're supposed to have the heater turned all the way on.  When I turned it on, I noticed water going everywhere.  I was able to see water getting out all around the plastic elbow that takes water from the block to the heater core hose.  AHA!  I tore down the passenger side of the engine and got the two little elbows out.  One was majorly cracked!  After replacing that and bleeding the system, the cooling system has been working perfectly.  I still lose a little bit of water, but if I keep everything topped off weekly, I don't see any issues.

Anyway, post is getting kinda long.  See you next month!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Foundation Learning Guide for the ROUTE Exam

I'm starting my reading for the ROUTE exam this week.  After my near-miss on the SWITCH exam, I have decided to take a deeper approach to this exam.  I'm not just going to go through the certification guide, like I have in the past.  I feel that my routing knowledge really isn't as solid as it should be, so I'm going to start with Implementing Cisco IP Routing (ROUTE) Foundation Learning Guide, which is written more to help you build your understanding of topics than to simply know the answers to pass the certification test.  Albert Einstein said "Any fool can know.  The point is to understand."   I think that's been my problem on this topic.  I know the facts, but I don't think I've ever had the deep understanding that I desire.  I'm sure there's going to be some overlap between the Foundation guide and the Certification guide, but it's not like I'm under a deadline or anything.  The Foundation guide is 900 pages and the Certification guide is 700, so I have my work cut out for me.  As long as I get through a chapter every couple of days, I should be okay.  I'll be posting anything interesting I come across as I do my readings.  I'd like to take the exam before the end of March.

Also, this is typical: I bought the book at a brick and mortar bookseller, before I'd checked the online price.  Stupid!  I could have saved 30 bucks if I'd bought through this link:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

CCNP Switch Passed!

Took the test yesterday and passed. I'm not surprised that I passed. I'm more disappointed at how close I was to NOT passing. Got a 792 out of 1000 where the passing score was 790. Seriously, I think the grading software misgraded one of the simulations or something! I'm not gonna complain or anything, since I passed, but I wish there was a way to see what I missed. Did I misread the instructions on a sim or something? I demand a recount!

Anyway, it's water under the transparent switching device, so I'm moving on to the next test. CCNP ROUTE, here I come.

The next test has a whole basket of landmines to worry about, and I'm taking a very disciplined approach to my preparations. There will be pretests, study goals, mind maps, lab simulations, video preparation. It'll be different this time, I promise!

Friday, January 27, 2012

STP Isn't Just an Oil Treatment

Since my last post, I've read up through chapter 10, covering VLANS, VTP and Spanning Tree Protocol (STP).  I'm almost halfway through my review for this exam and I'm feeling pretty good about everything so far.  The remaining 8 chapters are mostly network design, services and security, which I don't think I'll have a problem with.  I'm in the groove with the reading and proper use of Yerba Mate for focus.  Confidence is HIGH!

On the work front, things are good.  Gigantic projects are winding down in the next month or two and some new, juicy initiatives are getting underway.  I'm splitting my time between implementing on the older projects and super-fun Visio design time on the new ones.  On another note, I decided to dust off my old teaching hat and start teaching networking classes here at Securus.  It's something I did back in my DST days and it really pays off over time.  Also, I started a Cisco Certification Study Group here to keep myself on track and also help some of the others get their certs together.

On the weight loss front, there's not much going on.  I've been decent on the diet, but haven't been as strict as I'd have liked.  Not drinking any calories, other than the occasional iced mocha.  Other than that, it's mostly water, with one diet soft drink in the morning and yerba tea when I'm studying.  Worked some weird hours this week, so I was having to eat what I could in some situations (lunch-hour meetings with pizza delivered, etc.).  For the most part, I've been doing good and have managed to lose 2 pounds this week.  I haven't been doing the food log, and it's starting to be apparent that I'm going to have to do that to keep myself on track.  Also, I've got to get more exercise in, so I can justify a cheat day to compliment the slow-carb diet I'm on.

I'm heading out of town for the weekend.  We're having a reunion for all the people who had Darrell Buzan for chorus at Idabel High School.  Memories!  Anyway, not likely to diet much this weekend.  I'll be sure to get diet cola with my Bacardi, but that's as far as I'm going.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SWITCH Exam Scheduled

Well, now it's official.  I always study better with an official date to hit.  Reading chapters 3 to 5 today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Delayed Start... Go! Uh.... GO!

Did I say I was starting my weight loss and CCNP study programs 2 weeks ago?  No no... I meant today, really.  Uh sure.

This time it's for real.  I have eaten well today and I also read Chapters 1 & 2 of the CCNP Switch Certification Guide.  Chapter 1 barely counts, as it's about the "Planning Tasks of the CCNP Exams" and has very little actual testable material.  Chapter 2 covers basic "Switch Operations" and was a nice little refresher.  Picked up a couple of little facts that are only useful as test answers.  Stuff like CAM entries timing out in 300 seconds and TCAM table values being 134 bits in size... completely useless in real-world application, but good to know for the cert exam.

I'm going to start teaching my Network Topics classes here at Securus.  Maybe we can train up a couple of network engineers from the NOC ranks.  Here's hoping.  I'm also going to be doing a Cisco Certification Study Group here.  Hopefully, having that to keep me accountable for my study goals will keep me on the straight and narrow.  This whole recertification process is going to be boring, so anything that will help me get through this material will be a welcome help. 

Why did I let this cert expire?  Why, oh why?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Weight Loss - Round 2 - Engage!

Okay, so the "keep the weight off through the holidays" phase is over.  I did pretty good.  Drifted up a little from 266 to around 270 (+-2 lbs water/food volume fluctuation).  Now it's time to kick things back into gear.  I'm starting today with increasing my water intake and re-starting my food log.  I'm not going to be on full-blown Atkins, like I was during my round 1 weight loss.  This time, I'll be following Tim Ferriss' Slow Carb diet, which is a little different, but close to the same thing.  I'll also be lifting three or four times a week, with some kettlebell work to increase core strength.

On a work front, I'm going to be working on my technical skills and getting re-certified.  I'm committing to 1 hour per day of reading until I get my certs back in order.

Wish me luck.