Running to not feel like crap

I wonder why other people run. To get fit? To challenge themselves? To compete?

I run to not feel like crap. See this New York Times article:

Yes, Running Can Make You High

Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.

I only started running at the beginning of last year. A few things happened, really — a friend recommended I do so to feel better about the breakup, and it sounded reasonable (I had no idea the endorphin thing wasn’t proven at the time); I realised I was, strangely enough, feeling very positive after each NS remedial training session; and, most of all, Akmal encouraged me to join him in volunteering with the Special Olympics running club, and that’s been making me run regularly ever since.

While I was busy feeling sorry for myself at the beginning of the year, I did resolve to not let the year go to waste. Thank goodness, then, for the amazing volunteers and athletes with Special Olympics. While I risk sounding like a terrible cliché, running with them really made me feel alive, and finishing the half-marathon in December with my athlete and friend Shaun truly made the entire year worthwhile. I don’t think any of the other volunteers knew why I started going (except maybe Akmal), but it still means a lot to me that they took me on — even when I was initially unable to keep up with their training — and let me have a chance to be part of what they do.

One comment from the article above:

Nothing quite compares to how I feel when I finish a run: everything becomes possible, I feel great exuberance and joy, and completely and totally energized. If that’s a “runner’s high” then I’m in, for life.

Yeah, that’s about right.

This year’s been awfully busy so far, so I’ve been running a lot less. My mood’s been suffering as a result, and even though that could also be attributed to any number of things (new responsibilities at work, living by myself, living at work), running has so far still succeeded in giving me that rare feel-good moment.

I hope the rain eases up soon. I need to go for a run.

(Aside: The Nike+ kit Hansen sent over (before it was available in Singapore) helped a lot, too. Having something track my distances every run, every week and every month (even if it was mildly inaccurate) did push me to run more. Seeing numbers stack up on the Nike+ website makes me unnecessarily happy — it’s like a RPG of some kind, and all they need to do now to complete the experience is to level us up after a certain numbers of miles. And add weapons and armour.)

Wall of (mostly) Apple

The boarding apartment I’m staying in has a curious design at the front door — a 5 x 4 grid of rack space, apparently for people with a shitload of shoes. I decided to put up a little shrine to my favourite company there.

From left: Windows Vista (oops), iPod nano, Mac OS X Leopard, iBottle, iPod dock, iPod power connector, iPod touch, iPhone, Nike+ iPod kit, iPod classic. Some boxes stolen.

Missing: PowerBook and MacBook Pro boxes (too large, rather silly to bring them over from home), Mac OS X Tiger (also at home).


Guess I won’t be needing both of these now, will I?


16 gig for USD499 + 8% taxes + $30 shipping, and a horrifically long wait for shipping by the US Postal Service (damn you for your slowness! And your catchy tunes!). Pretty reasonable price, especially with the hilariously weak USD (the dwindling value of my USD investments mean nothing compared to having an iPhone). Also surprisingly easy to unlock — one click, four minutes, bliss! See here.

Reviewers have said plenty about the phone proper, but I figure there’s no harm adding a bit to the great online blogovoid-of-crap about using an iPhone in Singapore from a heavy data user’s* point of view. Data settings for M1 were reasonably easy to find on Google — Settings, General, Network, EDGE; APN sunsurf, username 65, password user123. Pretty standard.

First slight annoyance after syncing with my Mac address book — the phone either didn’t recognise callers or SMS senders, depending on whether they had the +65 country code prefix in front. Callers were recognised if they didn’t have +65 in front; SMS senders were recognised only if they did. My Nokia used to deal with both fine. I toyed with the idea of adding both versions to my contact list, but was alerted to the presence of Installer application AppSupport, which fixed the problem. I also had to make some changes to the country list to reduce lag — there’s some pretty good documentation at iClarified.

The mobile web experience on GPRS is, needless to say, two giant bucketloads slower than on my Nokia 3G phone. However, the Nokia used to take nearly half a minute just to start up (start Opera Mini, wait 10 seconds; enter address, wait for phone to “scan available networks”, wait 5 seconds; choose the same bloody connection I always use why do you even bother asking and wait for it to connect, wait 5-10 seconds for “Connecting…” dialog; wait for data), so I’m glad to have the iPhone’s seamless experience for getting online (start Safari, wait 1 second; enter address, wait an admittedly long amount of time for data).

Having it able to check my mail every 30 minutes, regardless of Wi-Fi availability, is also nice, and the battery lasts decently long with this setup. The Nokia could do that with the Gmail Java app, but would lose half its battery life within 4 hours of being online. The iPhone does eat data like nobody’s business (1 meg a day if I leave it alone, obviously plenty more if I surf the web), but at least it’s making good use of my M1 1 gig data plan ($22).

After five days of use, I’m satisfied. How could I not be? I’m one of those raving Apple apologists, after all. Hopefully SingTel comes up with something better in September.

* Nearly 100 megs a month, or one-tenth of a ton, depending on how you read that.

Unshutting down

I’m back for a bit, because I think I actually have things to write about. For example…

A friend gave a talk to my computing students about working in the software industry (thanks Tim), and one of the points he mentioned was keeping a professional blog for all of one’s work-related writings. With what I’ve been (slowly, slowly, very slowly) figuring out in this most recent web development project, I figure it’s about time I started collating information somewhere, even if it’s just to be able to track my own “professional development” (hooray for work-speak). I’ll be cross-posting those entries to this blog, so I’ll just keep the URL to myself.

Furthermore, I do want to draw again, and I do want to launch Stupid Chicken: The Comic at some point (this decade). My printer/scanner/tea-maker doesn’t seem to work with Mac OS X Leopard, though, so I can’t quite get started. Damned HP printer… the model number is PSC something, which might explain my unnatural antagonism towards it. Also, I’ve lost track of what I was trying to explain here, but in essence, I’m going to try and bring back the webcomic here (and get around to setting up the separate site sometime).

I also met up with a former colleague who’s finally quit to pursue his dreams full-time. Plenty of food for thought from that conversation, and some things I do feel the need to write about.

Speaking of colleagues, I came across another colleague’s blog, and it’s SO. OVERWHELMINGLY. POSITIVE. I’m not sure I can even bring myself to be cynical about what he writes — from what I know of him, he really does seem to be someone who thoroughly believes in his job, his faith and his life. So, yeah, thank goodness for everyone he’s in teaching, but then, what the hell am I doing in this job?

And, hell, I’m actually still really fucking depressed from that whole mess from the end of 2006. I might even write about that, in a departure from my usual spew of vagueness. Maybe.

Fame and Fortune with Bond Counter

About half a year ago, to celebrate the halfway point of my scholarship bond, I wrote a simple Facebook application called Bond Counter.┬áThe program simply plonks a countdown on one’s profile page that describes how long more one has left in indentured servitude, probably to some Singaporean government body (and, optionally, how much money is left in that bond).

An excerpt from an article (PDF) talking about scholarship bonds from today’s edition of “My Paper”, a local daily publication:

There’s even an application on Facebook which tracks the number of days one has left to serve out.

Yes! Fame and fortune! Someone buy out my app, with all its 500 users!