Random Fall Thoughts: Boots, Hot Tubs, and Fitness

In the past, I kept my blog strictly ‘business’ – that is, I only posted about technology related things. But I quickly found myself wanting to post about plenty of other things (in addition to technology) so I figured that there was no reason to limit the subject matter of the blog. The result is random posts like this one.

I’m trying to do better about “Well this item (sweater, boots, comforter, etc) isn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it’s on clearance so I will buy it” type of purchases. I’m trying to buy higher-quality items but fewer of them. Let’s see how long this lasts!

The first step is shoes. I’m done buying cheap plastic shoes that just fall apart and make my feet sweat. Unless there is good reason not to, I am now specifically seeking out leather shoes. In the spirit of fall, I purchased 2 awesome pairs of boots. First up:  The FRYE Women’s Phillip Studded Harness Tall Boot in Cognac. 
Frye Boots
I can’t really explain why, but these boots are just so me. They’re perfect. When I saw them available in my size on an Amazon Warehouse Deal, I had to have them.

I also purchased a staple: a pair of black riding boots, the Ariat Plymouths. I got these on 6pm.com and was very happy with both the price I paid and the quick delivery. The Fryes do seem to be slightly higher quality than the Ariats but they were also twice the price, so it’s what I expected.

Ariat Plymouth

To protect my “investments”, I bought some saddle soap and some mink oil. I’m going to try to keep both pairs in good shape  so they last me for many years to come.

In other fall happenings, I’ve closed the ‘cool pool’ and have turned it back into a hot tub for the winter. Yes, I made my hot tub into a pool for the summer. I looked it up online before I did it and apparently I’m not the only one who had this idea. The “pool” was great, except that this summer was extremely rainy and cold for the most part, so it didn’t get much use. Back to a hot tub it is!

Also, Tim and I shut down our pond for the fall. This involves yanking out all the plants, cutting off all the vegetation, and sinking the roots to the bottom of the pond. The pond looks rather naked now, and I think the koi are confused. Then again, they’re koi, so don’t they always look confused? We also have to put a big net over the pond so that the leaves from the maple tree don’t blow into it. If there were to be lots of leaves in the water and the pond would freeze over, the gasses from the decaying leaves would be trapped under the ice and would kill the fish. “Today you learned….”, right?

I think I need some fitness goals so I can keep up my exercise motivation through the colder months ahead. I am considering running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon with my friend, but I’m still not 100% sure. I did a 10k in June and after I was done with that, I swore that 6.2 miles was long enough for me and I felt no need to ever go any further. My opinion hasn’t really changed, but maybe signing up for it would be a good motivator for me to continue running. Meh. We’ll see.

I also want to be able to do a chin up by Spring. I’ve never ever been able to do a chin up. I blame it on being so tall. But Tim can do one, and he’s 6’5”, so there’s that. I still can’t do one, but I’m a lot closer than I ever have been. I guess I either need to lose more weight, gain more strength, or both. Since I’m no longer actively trying to lose weight, I’ll have to depend on the ‘gain strength’ part to meet this goal.

Well that’s all I have for now. Happy Fall!

Oracle Virtual Box – Finding Bridged Adapters

I recently set up Oracle Virtual Box for the first time. Prior to this, I was using Microsoft Virtual PC. I had some trouble getting virtual box to “see” my network adapters, and after a Google search, I tried a bunch of different things to fix it. So for anyone having the problem of seeing nothing in the “name” drop-down when you choose “Bridged Adapter” under the Networking option of Virtual Box, here’s what fixed it for me. I’ve pasted a screenshot of the problem below.

To Fix:

1. Uninstall Virtual Box

2.  Open the Registry Editor

3. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network\MaxNumFilters​   (If you can’t find this key in this location (I couldn’t) search for MaxNumFilters.)

4. Change this value to something greater than what it currently is. I changed mine to 14.

5. Re-boot your host PC

6. Re-Install Virtual Box



I have smart friends.

I have smart friends. And they’re not only smart, but, in some cases, they are entrepreneurial, too! My friends Andy and Shannon left their full time jobs behind (Andy was my boss, the Director of Software Engineering) to pursue their own business. Together, they have created Giftbug, an online gift registry without limits. Get to know Andy and Shannon here. They’ve worked so hard on Giftbug and I really admire their determination in seeing their dream to fruition. What they’ve created is certainly very impressive!



I’ve created registries before, but they’ve always been retailer-specific. One for Amazon, one for Macy’s, etc. Giftbug provides a centralized location for all of your heart’s desires!  Another thing I like about GiftBug is that you can add generic items to your registry, such as “Coffee Beans” or “Charitable Donation to an Organization.” No doubt about it, it’s been pretty fun to think about all the stuff I want. Check out my Giftbug registry here.

No doubt about it, Shannon, Andy, and the product they’ve built is inspiring. So go check out GiftBug and see the vision of two entrepreneurs come to life!

Makin’ it Easy

Every now and then, I come across something that just makes sense. One of those “why doesn’t every company do it that way?” type of moments. I renewed one of my domain names at Namecheap the other day. During the checkout process, the order confirmation page was displayed. About halfway down the screen was the following:

Namecheap Checkout

So easy, even I did it.

Hmmm. I did like the checkout process, it took me about 30 seconds to renew my domain. Plus, I just like Namecheap in general. They are a no-BS kind of registrar and I don’t have any complaints about them. I decided to both tweet and share their link on Google+ (I don’t have Facebook). Why? Because Namecheap made it so easy. If I had to seek out and enroll in their affiliate program to share an affiliate link, would I have done so? No. But since it’s basically already done for me, what have I got to lose?  Also, the fact that it generates an affiliate link means that there is possibly something in it for me, too (although I doubt anyone clicked it!). So, the ease of the process plus the possible incentive was enough for me to spread the word about Namecheap. More companies should make it this easy!

Lifting Straps: Essential for Beginning Weightlifters

I started weightlifting around the beginning of this year. I lift heavy, and love my new found strength. It’s also nice to be able to step back from running a bit and add in weightlifting workouts for a little bit of variety.

One of the heaviest lifts in my current routine is a dead lift. I kept struggling with dead lifts – it wasn’t the amount of weight that was the problem, it was my lack of grip strength to hold onto the bar with that much weight on it. At first, I didn’t realize that my grip strength was the problem. I just thought that the bar was rubbing too much on my hands and it was painful. I tore 3 pairs of lifting gloves before my husband suggested that lack of grip strength was probably my issue and swiftly ordered these lifting straps.

I want to shout it from the rooftops just how awesome these have been. If I would have known how these $5 straps would improve my comfort and ability while lifting I would have purchased them before I started! Just put your hand through the circle part of the straps and wrap the remaining strap around the bar. It’s kind of difficult to get the hang of the first few times, but after that, it only takes a couple additional seconds. I like that the particular straps I purchased (linked to above) aren’t too thick – any thicker and the bar would be too wide for my hands. The straps make the lift easier on your grip, transferring some of the force needed to grip the bar to your wrists.

I put together a quick collage below to try to show how to use the straps. First, you put your hand into the strap so that the union point of the strap is at the inside of your wrist. To me, it seems like you put them on the opposite way of how your brain thinks you should put them on. At least that’s the case with me! Then, tighten up the strap so it is snug against your wrist. Wrap the excess strap around the bar (I tried to show this in the second-to-last picture, but it was tough). At this point your hand should be inseparable from the bar without unwrapping the strap. Slide your hands (and the straps) to a comfortable spot on the bar if needed. And now, get lifting!

I’m still working on my grip strength so I don’t have to use straps forever. But for this weight lifting beginner, they were essential in getting my feet off the ground with heavier lifts.


How to use Lifting Straps

How to use Lifting Straps

Tis the season for….

Yard Work!

We’ve been hard at work in our yard…specifically, our side yard. Since we’ve owned the house, the side yard has been somewhat of an eye sore. I’m sure at one point that it was beautiful – it has a winding stone path, bamboo, butterfly bushes, and mature trees. However the weeds were out of control and the maintenance (combined with the other 3 sides of our yard) was a bit too much for us. We decided to get rid of most of the beautiful shrubbery and, instead, plant some low maintenance grass. So far, we have knocked down all of the weeds and shrubbery and put down black landscape fabric. Check out the progress picture below. We plan to plant grass in the fall and hopefully we can enjoy our new, low(er) maintenance yard next summer!


Railroad Lullabies

I had no idea that the house I bought was just up the street from a rail yard. The trees hid it so well! Lesson learned for future house purchases: drive to house from ALL directions, not just one, to see what is nearby.

That first night in the new house (nearly 3 years ago now), I was sleeping on my mattress on the floor since I didn’t have bedroom furniture yet. It was December and obviously all of the windows were shut. Exhausted, I laid down only to hear the ear-piercing screeches of…trains. And lots of them. This is a rail YARD, not just a railroad track. This is where the train cars get put together (makes a huge BAM! sound), slow to a screeching (literally) halt, and get filled with coal. It’s so loud that, at times, you can’t hear conversation.

How was I EVER going to sleep?! I am such a light sleeper – even the TV on a low volume keeps me awake when I am trying to sleep. However, as humans do, you get used to things.

I’m still a light sleeper. But that rail yard noise? The thunderous claps, the ear piercing squeals, the numerous, drawn out wails of the horn? It puts me right to sleep. Even with the windows open. Especially with the windows open. And on the nights when the rail yard isn’t busy, the silence is deafening.

The rail yard sings me to sleep.



It’s been awhile since I’ve heard the word orthogonal.