Hello Atlanta

English: Atlanta Metro (MARTA), station Peacht...

English: Atlanta Metro (MARTA), station Peachtree Center in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been to Atlanta, Georgia many times. Well, I’ve been through Atlanta, Georgia many times. Whether it was family vacations to driving destinations further south or transferring from one plane to another at the airport, Atlanta has not been a place I’ve stopped. Until now.

This year, the AAA/CAA Marketing/IT conference is here. Right in downtown at the Peachtree Center. Getting here is quite simple. From the airport, I skipped the expensive options for travel and went with a trip on MARTA. Despite getting turned around 2 times trying to get to the hotel, it was 25 minutes from the time I boarded the train till I was at the front desk. I thank you to all those who helped me on my way. The cost? $2.50 plus $1 for the card. I bought a two trip card, so the total was $6.

Nice. $10 in and $4 in dollar coins. I didn’t know they still made these things. Will have to save them for my return home to Cincinnati.

I had planned on hitting a Geocache or two, or a few Munzee scans, before the conference workshops started today, but leaving from Cincinnati was delayed and I arrived an hour later than scheduled. So is my experience with coming to Atlanta. I’ve never had a flight arrive or leave on time. Ever.

I first came through the Atlanta airport in 1986 when I was going back to the states from Stuttgart, Germany. I had lived there for three years and my father was still active duty Army. He was up for retirement in early 1987 and elected to stay in Germany for a few months. This left me as an unaccompanied 18 year old traveling on Army orders ( had them in my pocket). Customs was a little confused by me, but they managed.

It was August when I came through Atlanta and the layover was to be three hours. I found the USO and left my bags with them. The next few hours were spent wondering around the airport, eating and trying to remember what it was like to live in the States. I did approach an outside door and the blast of heat kept me inside.

The flight to Knoxville? It was delayed an hour. Typical and things really aren’t better. Atlanta is a busy airport. Many, many flights. Will this time around be different? Probably not, but it will be the homeward leg, so it doesn’t matter. There is no connection to make that might be missed. Friday will be time to relax and take in Atlanta one more time, before heading home.

 

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Journey Into Lightroom

English: Adobe Lightroom Icon Deutsch: Adobe L...

English: Adobe Lightroom Icon Deutsch: Adobe Lightroom Icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the month of March, Adobe is running a good discount on Photoshop and Lightroom Creative Cloud. Normally quite cost prohibitive for the non-professional, the cost of $10 a month was too much to pass up. My daughter wants Photoshop for her artwork and I’ve been wondering how Lightroom can change my photography. As WOW is becoming quite boring for me, it was an easy switch.

Once purchased, downloaded and installed, the search for tutorials started. On YouTube, I came across Anthony Morganti and his Quickstart training tutorials. After going through part 1, it was time to import some pictures to do some postwork. I went through some old photos and came across some from our vacation in Utah. When we visited Antelope Island on Salt Lake, it was overcast and rainy.  The rocks had more color and beauty than the lack of light allowed. How well could Lightroom open up these pictures?

Shooting in RAW mode on the Nikon D7000 has several advantages. RAW saves far more data about the image than JPEG and Lightroom takes full advantage of it. Once imported, it was time to see the adjustments Anthony suggests in his first video.

The first changes Anthony suggests is in the Basic area, setting Highlights to +100 and Shadows -100. The first will flatten the picture and the second will open it up. After performing this on several photos, I am not sure it is always necessary. It does seem a good place to start. It will be interesting to play with these settings as I learn.

Finishing the Basic section is adjusting the Whites and Blacks by holding the Option key down while moving the slider. Anthony’s suggestion is to just allow the Whites in and deepen the Blacks quite a bit. It will depend on the photo, of course. This is also to the taste of the photographer and what is wanted with the post-processing. Here too is another place to learn. Clarity, vibrance, and saturation are adjusted to preference.

Lens correction is another section visited. On some photos, it makes little difference, but on wide angle shots it helps to straighten them out. As the Nikon D7000 will save lens information in the EXIF data, Lightroom will compare against its database and adjust as required. The photos loaded so far used a Nikkor lens. I do have some using my Tamron and it be interesting to see what changes are required for it.

Sharpening and Luminance under Noise Reduction are the next standard place to use a standard setting: 70 and 40, respectively. Adjusting the various colors and details is all according to the needs of the photograph and what the photographer is trying to do. I have learned that push the various colors dials too much can give the picture an other-worldly look. This is good to know, though, as there are times when such results will be wanted.

Here are a few pictures I’ve placed in my Flickr photostream:

Salt Lake Rocks - V 2 - 2012

Salt Lake Rocks – V 2 – 2012 (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

Salt Lake Rocks - #2

Salt Lake Rocks – #2 (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

 

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Tell Me Again About My Metabolism

Fitness

Fitness (Photo credit: JAMES LORD productions)

Growing up, I was the skinny kid. Though I liked to play sports, I was usually the last picked in school games and I hated “shirts v. skins”. Being 6’5″ and 150 pounds soaking wet, I was very self-conscious of my body as a teenager.

After high school, I did gain a little bit of weight over the years. In 1990, as I approached 22, I started to start lighting and learned what I could. I didn’t have much money for supplements, so I ate quite a bit. The first 20 pounds to 190 were easy. After that, I got stronger, but had plateaued in my weight. No worries. For the next several years, I lifted regularly and did ski patrol during the winter. Then we had kids.

I took too many years off and when I finally got back to working out on a regular basis, I was over 200 with a 36 inch waist. I wasn’t in the best of shape and looked forward to gaining some more proper weight. That was about two years ago.

The first year back, I used the 200 pounds of dumbbells I had at home, pulling each heavier set out of the garage when I reached their need. It was humbling to start at 5 pounds, but that is life. During this first year, I noticed I was still gaining in the waist, so I started cutting back on sandwiches and at more salad. It made a small, but noticeable difference.

A year ago I upped the game.

Now all sandwiches are out. Gluten was giving too much weight gain in the gut. I also really started to cut my sugar, fructose in particular. The more research I did on sugar, the more I realized what a poison it is for the human body. Artificial sweetners are not much better. Best to get rid of it. I also cut back on beer, chocolate, pasta, tea. I greatly increased the amount of water I drank in a day to at least 3 liters. More lean protein, brown rice, red potatoes (sometimes sweet as well), more fiber, good fats, nuts.

My workouts also changed. I had been doing many of the workouts Steve Holman gives in his articles in Iron Man Magazine, but now I did them more split. I also started to look at the suggestions and articles of others. I was spending too much time in the gym. I upped the intensity and aimed to finish in an hour, warm up and stretching included. Now sets were 20-30 reps, done in 1 second positive/2 seconds negative caidance. I did hyper-extensions and crunches before every workout.

Then came November and the planking challenge.

The first few days were easy, but once it got to more than a minute, it became tough. I mean very tough. My abs shacked. My shoulders shacked. I had to pause, then go again. The results, however, spoke for itself. My abs started to get tighter. It helped my squats. It helped my dead-lift.

A year later and the result is I went from average 209 pounds to 215, but my waist is now an inch smaller. I went from a 35-36 inch waist to 34-35. Yes, a year to lose an inch. Me. Mister High Metabolism and eat anything. Because, I can’t eat anything I want. My cheat days consists of a single doughnut. No more going crazy over the weekend. The crap food I used to eat now makes me ill. I’ve not gone fully Paleo, but I am headed that way. Eat like the government tells you and you will gain weight. That is a given. Eat like you should and the results will be their own encouragement.

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Surviving Friday Night

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Friday night session of the 2014 Cincinnati Beer Fest is over. The plan was to be busy brewing a batch of beer and chatting with the visitors. The latter happened many times. We chatted about the Cincinnati Malt Infusers, grains, hops, what it was like to be in a club, all the usual. The former didn’t happened.

Why not?

Well, snow happened. Traffic became bad and several people were late getting to the convention center. Items were forgotten. The logistics of the location of the booth was very difficult and too crowded. No tubs for ice bath. Lack of a stand to hold the electric brew kettle. Oh my.

Many of the logistics problems are solved and should be better for the Saturday session. I did discuss the recipe with several homebrewers, including Brian Jackson who wants to make an all grain version of it. Excellent. So back the ingredients came. Yeast goes in the fridge with the hops. Try again tomorrow.

This was the first beer fest I’ve ever attended without my camera. Even the first time I went to the Jungle Jim’s beer fest around Father’s Day as a participant, I  had my camera with me to take my own pictures. Last year I took mine to the Cincinnati Beer Fest and only took a few quick ones here and there. This year, it was very odd, but in the end, I liked it. Was able to chat with some beer enthusiasts, gave out some CMI cards and told people where we meet, and made sure some homebrewers interested in AHA took a copy of Zymurgy. It was a welcome change.

The drive home in the two inches of snow was a bit fun. The roads were not clear, but passable. Most of the way home I was trying to remember when I heard Craig Johnson recount the first Columbus Winter Beer Fest story of the after party. For the life of me I cannot remember when or where the telling happened, but I know it did. It had to be at least two years ago and it was warm. That’s all I got. It was a good time, both the fest after party and the place where it was told. Perhaps I’ll remember after sleep.

Not sure if the crowd was hampered due to the snow or not. The turnout seemed good and the participants were well behaved. Coat check was in the hallway outside of the large convention rooms. That seemed to go much better and those fetching their coats were not in the way of those trying to leave. Seems to be a much better way of handling the coats. After all, it is cold outside. A very good improvement.

As always Craig and staff, excellent beer fest. Your hard work shows.

Time to rest and get at it again tomorrow. And what happens if the demonstration has to get scrapped again? No worries, the beer will get made soon. After all, no one has tasted the recipe, not even its creator.

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Demonstration Red Rye Ale – 2014

English: Malted Barley, more specifically a &q...

English: Malted Barley, more specifically a “Crystal Malt”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year, I volunteered for the Cincy Beer Fest, not really knowing what I was going to do. I knew I would no longer be doing photographs, but I figured I could help out with beer, setup, etc. I showed up on Friday night and helped out quite a bit: set out several tables full of tasting cups, checked ids at the door, gave out beer at the Kentucky Ale booth and even snapped off a few photos.

I didn’t like it.

Afterward, I realized how much I had come to like taking pictures at the fest. Being able to walk anywhere and interacting with the people was a great draw for me. Not doing that drained me and I didn’t like it. What now?

Until a few weeks ago, I figured I would not attend. Then I was asked to do a brewing demonstration for the Cincinnati Malt Infusers, the homebrew club I joined last year. Not fully knowing what it would entail, I said yes.

The last several days have been quite hectic coming up with all the equipment required. The convention center requires the use of electrical elements to heat the water and running a 220 volt line is too expensive. Fortunately, a member of CMI has a system we can use. Nice.

Recipe time. To draw people to the table, a high aroma beer was chosen. Starting with a pale ale, a few ounces of black patent malt were added to give the beer a reddish color. Ok, a red ale. What about rye malt? Yes, aroma and spiciness. Cool. A red rye ale. As there isn’t enough time to do a full mash, this is a specialty grain steep with extracts. It is a demonstration recipe too. That makes the name Demonstration Red Rye Ale – 2014. Let’s get to the details.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs light dry extract
  • 3.33 lbs can of amber liquid extract
  • 2 ounces Ahtanum hop pellets (5.20% alpha)
  • 1 ounce Mt. Hood hop pellets (6.10% alpha)
  • 1 lbs Crystal Malt (10L)
  • 1 lbs Rye Malt
  • 4 ounces Black Patent malt
  • 1 package American Ale II yeast (Wyeast #1272)
  • 1 teaspoon Irish Moss

Procedures

  • Crack the grains and place into a grain bag large enough to hold them. Remember they will expand when wet.
  • Heat 2.5 gallons of water to 150 degrees. Place the grains in the water and steep for 20 minutes. After time, remove grain bag, allow to drain and discard.
  • Fill kettle to 6 gallons of water and turn heat to full.
  • Once wort starts to boil, place the Mt. Hood hops in. Total boil time is 60 minutes.
  • When 20 minutes to go in the boil, place 1 ounce of Ahtanum into kettle.
  • At 15 minutes to go, place 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss into kettle.
  • After 60 minutes of boil, turn heat off and allow wort to settle. Place the remaining ounce of hops into kettle.
  • Cool wort to 70 degrees and take specific gravity reading. It should be around 1.044. Rack to fermentor, aerate for 10 minutes and pitch years. Cover and place airlock. Ferment for 2 weeks and bottle or keg, as desired.

It is recommended that the boil hops are placed in a bag. Try and enjoy. See you there.

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Claiming My Name

English: "Golden girl" – Horses (unk...

English: “Golden girl” – Horses (unknown breed, Isabelle or Palomino coloured): Mare with a foal, somewhere in Surrey, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Formerly, I have written about Search Engine Optimization and how I was able to get the results from Google for a former classmate of mine, Edwina Marquand, to have my blog at the top of the list. That’s great if anyone should come looking for Edwina or want to know more about her love of horses, but what about my name? What happens when one enters Bryon Lape into Google?

For years, doing a personal search brought back the oddest of results. Often, Google would search for each term separately and the list contained links to everything but me. As the algorithm developed, old USENET postings came up first. Even as I started blogging, it took quite some time before Bryon Lape was me. What does it take to claim yourself?

Knowing how the various search engines optimize indexing plays a key role in getting Search Engine Optimization to work. At one time, deep linking was the way to go. The images. Video. Crosslinks. Deep crosslinks. Links with better titles and meta-data. On and on it went. The more recent algorithms started to look at text as a human reader. The days of producing what looks to a human like random text so the keywords, in this case Bryon Lape, turned up a pertain percentage of the time are quickly coming to an end. Marketers still find ways around it, but content, real, human readable content, is truly King.

So, what about Edwina Marquand? Well, she’s still out there somewhere. I’ve not spoken to her since near the end of the 7th grade at Hayfield Intermediate School (June 1981). I imagine she’s been married for 20 years or more, has several children and probably doesn’t full remember Bryon Lape from 6th and 7th grade. No matter. I will hold a memory in my mind and heart till I cannot and remember her stories of horses.

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The Whole World Is Watching, Make It Count

English: Picture of Sharon Den Adel (singer of...

English: Picture of Sharon Den Adel (singer of Within Temptation) taken in Arras (France) as Within Temptation was opening for Metallica Français : Photos de Sharon Den Adel (chanteuse du groupe Within Temptation) prise en France à Arras lors du festival Rock en France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Late one night while clicking through videos on YouTube looking for something interesting, I came across a Dutch band named Within Temptation. Fronted by a beautiful woman with a powerful voice, I had to listen to more. Their sound changed with different albums and I really liked when they went a bit harder The Unforgiving. Sharon’s voice became stronger and the band had a more polished sound. It was easy to put a tune on and let the beat drive.

As much as I liked the songs Faster, Sinéad and Shot in the Dark, it wasn’t until the Hydra videos started to be released that one captured me. Recently the video for Whole World is Watching was released. This one captured my mind and heart. This one spoke to me. What a great message this song has.

You live your life. You go day by day like nothing can go wrong.
The scars are made, they’re changing the game. You learn to play it hard.

And I know you wish for more, and I know you try.
And now you realize, you know the time is right.

The whole world is watching when you rise.
The whole world is beating for you right now.
Your whole life is flashing ‘fore your eyes.
It’s all in this moment that changes all.

What are you waiting for?
What are you fighting for?
‘Cause time’s always slipping away.
The whole world is watching.
The whole world is watching you when you rise.

Whole World Is Watching reminds that it is not enough to know yourself. You want more. You hesitate. Time is lost. Change does not happen unless you take action. Hardship and setbacks are opportunities to pause, reflect, re-energize and start again.

Your sacrifice comes through your mind, but nothing is wasted. You made it now.
You rise again, breaking out. Each step you’ve taken, you’ve paid the price.

The whole world is watching.

The whole world is watching.
Yeah, the whole world is watching you when you rise.

What are you waiting for?
What are you fighting for?
‘Cause time’s always slipping away.
The whole world is watching.
Yeah, the whole world is watching you when you rise.

So, it is your turn. The world is watching what will you do with your chance? What will you make of the skills and talents you possess? Time does not wait. Time marches forward.

Vote Your Favorite

Having one version of the song is not enough. Sharon den Adel sang Whole World Is Watching with Piotr Rogucki and Dave Pirner. Both of these men offer depth and harmony to Sharon’s voice. The videos are more or less the same with Piotr green screened in over Dave. Here they are. Watch and vote your favorite.

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Hunter Labrada’s Leg Workout Is A Quad Killer

English: an exercise of thigh

English: an exercise of thigh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The January 2014 issue of Iron Man Magazine arrived sometime ago. Reading the articles is always a delight to learn more about workout ideas, fitness and nutrition. Quite often I skip through the interviews as I find them tiring and boring. The interview with Lee and Hunter Labrada was different. I had to read it.

Looking at the pictures, one can easily see that Lee is big, but his son Hunter is huge. A former football player, Hunter has decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and go into bodybuilding. Hunter is definitely benefiting from good genetics, excellent techniques and superior nutrition, especially from his father’s line of products.

The chemistry and comradary between father and son was quite warm to see during the course of the interview. Most interesting to me was the workout splits. When it came to legs, calves and quads were worked together. Calves are worked on a second day with hamstrings. Hmmm, interesting. Time to take a closer look.

My latest round with the leg workout had come to a close and it was time to move on. I had to try the quad and calf routine used by Hunter. Unlike other workouts that start with quads and work their way to calves, this one starts at the bottom and works its way up. For me, this meant the quads had done some work before getting to squats and leg press. Very interesting. The workout is as follows:

  • Standing Calf Raises 6×20-30
  • Seated Calf Raises 6×20-30
  • Donkey Calf Raises 3×20
  • Leg Extensions 5×20
  • Hack squats or barebell squats 4×10-12
  • Leg Presses 4×12-15
  • Leg extensions (light) 3xmax
  • Alternate hack squats and barebell squats week to week

As my gym does not have a seated calf raise machine nor is there anyone willing to help me do donkey calf raises (ok, no women that will sit on me), I do the seated raises using the leg press machine. This is perhaps where my quads are getting more work before their time. No matter. My calves are responding nicely.

I’ve done this workout twice, both with barebell squats and not hacks. This thing is a quad killer and they hurt for two days. This is awesome. Later this week will be the other side with the calf and hamstring workout. As this is ski season, I do need to blend these in with Ski Patrol shifts.

Rock on!

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Start From Here

Sun from Purple People Bridge

Sun from Purple People Bridge (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

Every person has a muse. For some, it is the love of their life. For others, it is aspiring to greater heights. The muse takes many forms and always alters the consciousness of the receiver.

I once heard an interview with Graham Hancock where he admitted using various drugs when he was writing his books. During a trip to the South American rainforest, he used ayawaska and had a different revelation. Not only was an idea for a new novel given to him, he was told he had to do it sober. Yes, quite an interesting turn of events.

I’m not Graham. And I’m not totally sober.

In the past, great emotion put me into a state of poetic verse. In those days it was usually the love, or love lost, of a woman. Somewhere there is a notebook full of poems dedicated to a true love. I’m sure most of it is bad teenage poetry, maybe someday I’ll find it. Maybe I should toss it. Who knows.

Tonight while listening to an interview with Olivia Stefanino being conducted by Lilou Mace, I heard something fantastic. Sure, the subject of the interview was about being your own guru and much of it dealt with believing in yourself and understanding you have within you what you require to be great, but one thing in particular stuck with me in my altered state inspired by Rogue’s Dad’s Little Helper: start from here.

Each of us is in a place we want to move from. Each of us feels there is far more to life than what we are currently experiencing. Some tend to dwell too much in how we got here and why and who is to blame. Forget it. Learn from the past, but do not live there. Start from here. Start from where you are right now and more toward what you really want. For some, it will require setting and meeting goals. For all, it requires aligning your actions for what your really, really want. Stop living the dream of someone else. Find your own and live it fully.

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Blasting The Arms

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 17, 2008) Store K...

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 17, 2008) Store Keeper 2nd Class Rafael Alexander, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, lifts weights using the bicep curl machine in the weight room of the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70). Lake Erie is operating off the coast of Hawaii in preparation for a ship’s Board of Inspection and Survey. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Hight (Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my current round of workouts has my triceps getting hit on two different cycles: on chest day and on arm day. When these days fall one after the other without more than 24 hours of rest, the triceps fail fast and the biceps get bored. Today was such a day.

The chest routine performed yesterday has the following exercises for the triceps at as the last two:

  • Pushdowns 3×10, 8, 6
  • Weighted Dips 3×6-8

Doesn’t seem like much, but coming after flat bench presses, inclined presses, pec-deck, standing military press, upright barbell rows and barbell shrugs, it doesn’t take much to finish off the triceps.

And now, here’s arm day.

The exercises for arm day are meant to compliment the rest of the week. They are here to finish off and stimulate more directly the triceps and biceps. Sometimes the forearms are coaxed to come out and play. Some sets are done in a 1 second positive, 3 second negative cadence. Others are in a more conventional 1 second, 1.5-2 second. After warmup and stretching, the routine is this.

  • Triceps
    • Bar pushdowns 3×30, 20, 15
    • One-arm dumbbell extensions 3×30, 20, 15
    • Rope pushdowns 3×30, 20, 15
  • Biceps
    • Dumbbell Hammer Curl 2×10, 12
    • Rope Hammer Curl 3×30, 20, 15
    • Dumbbell Curl 1×15-20
    • Preacher Curl 1×8-10, 8, 8

There you go. That looks good, doesn’t it? The triceps, being tired from yesterday, didn’t take much to reach lactic acid buildup and fail. Ok, bicep time. Warm up. Stretch. Go. The rope hammer curls were hard. Had to pause a few seconds to get to 30 and 20 reps. Perhaps the 45 pounds is too much. Keep pushing.

Preacher curls are odd for me. With my long arms and short muscle bellies, I have a great deal of bone with no support. The weights are way out there on the lever and the bar plus a total of 30 pounds is more than enough. I squeezed out each rep required. Cool. Done.

But wait. My biceps are not burning. They are not cramped like my tris. They are also not getting hit directly on other days, so they need a burn out set. What to add? What to use as a speed set to really work the biceps and finish them off for the day?

Ah, the bicep curl machine. Yes! I sat down and did two sets of 15 reps, 1.5 seconds for each rep at 40 pounds, keeping form good. Just because a set is done at speed doesn’t mean the form is allowed to be sloppy.

The result? Holy cow, yes! This exercise has been added as the last one for the arms. Can’t wait for next time.

 

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