Sunday, May 31, 2009

Broadband Speeds Around the World

No wonder I want to go over to Europe for awhile.

Perhaps I can get some decent Internet speeds while I'm there.

I think the next trip needs to be to Japan and South Korea, eh?

Look how pitiful the US is on this graph. We should be ashamed.
And my Broadband connection at home is even worse that the graph. This is on a Sunday afternoon with little load on the local POP. Usually it's way under 3MB.
Here's a link to the BBC article with a supporting map.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Family Vacation to Europe

Monday afternoon we board a direct flight from SLC to Paris! Yea!

We've been planning this family vacation for quite some time now. I think Ryan's been wanting to visit Paris and London for many many years - and finally we'll be going.

We arrive in Paris Tuesday around noon - and after a nap, we'll be off doing the tourist thing for 5 1/2 days there, then on to London. We'll be in London another 6 1/2 days before flying home on Saturday June 13th.

Hopefully we'll find the time and internet connection to keep the blog updated with our activities and pictures to share.

It's going to be fun!

Any suggestions on what we should be sure to see in Paris and London?

Here's are starting list - but we'd love to have feedback and ideas on where you suggest we visit.


- Notre Dame

- The Louvre

- Champs Elysee

- Eiffel Tower

- Parks and Museums

- Fashion shopping for Alysha

- Versailles

- Bike ride along the Siene

- Dinner cruise on the river


- London Eye

- St. Paul's

- Buckingham Palace

- Tower of London

- London Bridge

- Millennial Bride

- Stonehenge

- Salisbury Cathedral

- Cambridge
- Boat ride on the Thames

- Phantom of the Opera

Friday, May 29, 2009

Not my heart... Esophagus

So... to finish up my week of medical tests - pokes, prods, and needle sticks... Yesterday I was able to get into a Cardiologist here in Utah - who, after reviewing the tests from Philly and giving me an exam thought it wasn't cardiac based, but thought it my be my esophagus. Amazingly, I was able to get in for an endoscopy today!

This afternoon, after not eating or drinking for 15 hours or so, I had an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy with biopsy - try and say that three times fast... thus everyone just calls it an EGD. This included putting a camera down my throat, looking at the esophagus, stomach and top of the intestines.
The results showed I have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. I guess there is excess acid buildup in my stomach and the lining there was inflamed, and the lining of the esophagus had small lesions.

The treatment is amazingly simple. Prilosec OTC twice a day. Just add them to my morning and afternoon meds... easy schmeezy. (plus not lying down after eating for a couple of hours) Since I don't really eat a lot of spicy foods already...
now I have a legitimate reason for not enjoying Mexican food.

Oh, and that other thing... lose weight!

So even though it isn't my heart, I'm going to continue on my 'health' thing - hey, a wake up call, is a wake up call! Who am I to ignore it?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Health Tracking Card

Here is my first pass at a small 3x5 card to carry in my pocket (next to the iPhone and my other note cards) to track how well I'm doing on my new Health Goals.What do you think?

Anything to add, take away?


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I like the Kindle!

I like reading on my Kindle2, as well as the older Kindle1 and now I even like reading on the Kindle that runs on my iPhone. (the latest version allows for landscape reading...) I can even start reading on one, and then finish the book on the other... cool!

Last week I read another of the David Liss books, Conspiracy of Paper. I like learning about a place/time via historical fiction. Mush easier to read than straight history books, and more educational than straight murder/mysteries. So now I have one more author to add to my historical fiction list.

This novel is set in Victorian England - right when coffee houses started, financial paper, insurance, and intrigue. What's not to like? It was a good read!

Next is the sequel to this novel. I look forward to reading this new book on today's flight to Dallas.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Health Improvement Goals

Since my little 'wake up call' last week, I've decided to take some action to get my self healthier!

But, after many hours of thought and contemplation, I've realized that the steps can't be too drastic, or I'll just do it for awhile, then revert to my old ways. So some of these goals might seem a bit 'lightweight' - but, trust me, they are a change in my lifestyle.

I've NEVER liked to exercise - never got that 'runners high' or felt better after a workout than before. I've always loved carbs, and didn't like fruits and vegetables. So these are goals for *me* and my lifestyle.

To quote my diabetic doctor... "Move More - Eat Less" - so here goes.

First - I need to move more. I've tried using a pedometer, and consistently walk between 5,000 and 6,000 steps on a normal day - I'd thought about bumping this up to 10,000 like some people recommend. That would be an improvement for me, but I could get that by just walking more. That doesn't get my heart into the 'zone'.

So my goal for "Move More" is to do an aerobic exercise that gets my heart rate between 120 and 130 for 30 minutes 6 days a week. - If I don't get that, I have to have at least 8,000 walking steps.

Next 'Move More' goal - work with weights for an additional 10-20 minutes each day - muscle burns more calories than fat - bulk up a bit.

Second - on to the "Eat Less" daily goals:
1 Fruit
1 Veggie (salad counts)

Only 1 French Fry per week

2 bottles of water per day

These are minimum goals - I could do more, but I'd rather reach them than shoot high and miss. Again, this needs to be something I'll do for the long haul. Every day for the rest of my life!

And finally the documentation and tracking...

I'm going to design and produce a small 3x5 card (I've been carrying them in my pocket for years) that will be a place for me to daily track these goals. Including all my diabetic blood sugar and food count tracking. (I'll post what it looks like when I get it completed)

So, there, you go.
Feel free to ask me how I'm doing... did I actually just say that?

Now, I just have to go and live the new 'plan'.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My 'Wake Up Call"

This week I was teaching a class in Philadelphia - it was supposed to be a three-day class.

But right after the lunch break on Wednesday I reached up to stretch by grabbing the door jamb of the classroom to relieve a small bit of tension in my left shoulder. Then a pain started in my chest and I went to sit down for a little bit. The pain got worse and worse. I started to sweat a little and I couldn't make the pain go away by moving into different positions.

The pain continued to move from the left side of my chest - towards the middle and then finally over to the right side... over about a thirty minute period. I went to my hotel room and laid down for 20 more minutes.

When I returned to class some of the students asked if they could take me to the hospital or call and ambulance. (I guess I was looking pretty white...) Embarrassing as it was, I figured it would be best to go to the hospital and canceled the afternoon's remaining class.

One of the students was nice enough to drive me to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in downtown Philadelphia. I checked myself into the Emergency Room and did the inter-city ER thing... waiting, moving from point to point in their system.
I was given an EKG and then a chest x-ray before moving to an exam room back in the actual ER.

Then was more waiting, and finally a nurse came and gave me an IV - but it didn't work too well for drawing blood. (and they took like 12 little test tubes of the stuff for their various tests). So I got a couple more pokes in the arms and hands to get enough blood.

The EKG and all the blood work came back negative for any sort of 'Heart Event' - but they still wanted me to stay the night and do more tests. So again a move to an 'observation' room (just 4-rooms away from where I was...) to be tested with an EKG and Blood work every six hours. But there was also the Blood Pressure, Temp, Pulse, O2 Sat tests every four hours. (they could have timed those to coincide... but no.

Then in the morning upstairs to Nuclear Medicine for a Stress Test. But they needed an IV to inject a radioactive tracer during the treadmill and the ER's IV still wasn't working. So after three more attempts, they called in the IV specialist from downstairs, and he got one in in under a minute.

On to the run on the treadmill - it's not easy to run with someone injecting into one arm, taking blood pressure in the other, and the treadmill racing and elevating all at the same time. But it did get me to definitely break a sweat - and put stress on my heart to the level it needed.

You will walk on an exercise machine while the electrical activity of your heart is measured with an electrocardiogram EKG and Blood Pressure readings are taken. This will measure your heart's reaction to your body's increased need for oxygen.

The test continues until you reach a target heart rate.
No worries - all negative results from the treadmill stress test using the EKG. Now on to the next set of tests with the radio active stuff.

Thallium stress test is a nuclear imaging method that shows how well blood flows into the heart muscle, both at rest and during activity.

While on the treadmill - at the peak you your activity, a health care provider will inject a radioactive material called technetium into your vein. This substance attaches to red blood cells and passes through the heart. Special cameras or scanners trace the substance as it moves through the heart area. In other words, the red blood cells inside the heart that carry the radioactive material form an image that the camera sees. The images may be combined with an EKG. Using computer software, the images are made to appear as if the heart is moving.

Next, you will be asked to lie down on a table under a special camera that scans the heart. A computer creates pictures of the heart by tracking how the radioactive material moves through the area.

The first pictures are taken shortly after you get off the treadmill. These images show how blood flows to the heart during exercise. This is the part most commonly referred to as the "stress test," because it is the most challenging for your heart.

After lying quietly for a few hours, you'll have more pictures of the heart taken. These images show blood flow through your heart during rest.

So, after being in the hospital for over 28 hours... here are the results.

EKG #1 - Negative

Heart Enzymes #1
- Negative
Blood Clot Check
- Negative
Blood Pressure
- Little elevated - ya wonder?
EKG #2
- Negative - 6 hours later
Heart Enzymes #2
- Negative
EKG #3
- Negative - 6 more hours later
Heart Enzymes #3
- Negative
Treadmill EKG Test
- Negative
Thallium Stress
- Negative
Thallium at Rest
- Negative

So the results showed I didn't have anything wrong with my heart or lungs, and they just chocked it up to stress, or muscle spasm, or something else that isn't cardiac related.

The students were great, packed up all the stuff in the classroom for me, one even packed up my hotel room stuff so I could just stop by at the hotel yesterday afternoon and pick it up on the way to the airport. I was able to catch my original flight back home as scheduled. Yea! (It would have been tough to find an 'extra' seat on Memorial Day weekend)

This was, however, a pretty good 'wake up call' to get me to eat better and exercise more!

More later on my 'plan' for addressing my health in a future blog.

By the way - this activity I went through on Wednesday/Thursday - I don't recommend it. ;-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

What plug goes to what country?

Ever have the trouble of remembering which of many power plugs to take depending on what country you are traveling to? Those 'multi-country' ones are so large! I'd rather just take the smaller ones that I need.

I found this
site and graphic that makes it much easier.

Book Review from last week

If you love Guy's smarts and irreverent charm, you've got to read this book. If you have never read his blog or books -- or seen him speak -- this is the place to start if you want to understand why Guy has such a huge and loyal army of fans. Guy has had a lot of different careers, including at Apple as an evangelist, a venture capitalist, the master of ceremonies at wildly popular entrepreneurship Boot Camps during the boom, and now on his blog "How to Change the World." And now you can get the best of his experience and gentle wackiness all in one place.

Can Twitter really help make you a better marketer? Maybe even a better person?

Seriously, how much is there really to say about a goofy web tool that only lets you send messages up to 140 characters at a time?

After reading Twitter Revolution, I realize a LOT!

The Twitter Revolution is a complete start to finish on what it is and how to use it. And, it gives you the tools both in the book and in what applications it mentions to truly take advantage of what twitter is and what it can do for you.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Update on Dell Mini 9 - Hackintosh

I've been quite pleased with my little Dell Mini 9 that has been loaded with Apple Macintosh OS X.

The couple of little things that bothered me, namely the smaller keyboard, and the lack of the standard Macintosh two-finger scrolling and two-finger right-click.

Well, this week I did an update to the OS X operating system to the latest 10.5.7. It totally crashed the little guy... until I went online and learned a couple of 'tricks' on how to let the software/hardware find itself all over again. Now we're fine!
In addition - and to my great surprise - I also found the latest drivers that allowed me to make the little Hackintosh's trackpad act just like a real Macintosh! I now have two-finger scrolling and two-finger right-clicks working. Yea!

No software is going to make this little keyboard get bigger all of a sudden - so I guess I'm stuck with that.

The little Hackintosh makes a great second computer. I take it on all my trips. I've pre-loaded the 64GB Solid State Drive with a bunch of TED Talks, Movies, etc. so it's a small little lightweight entertainment device for use on the plane.

In addition, it has an SD slot on loaded with even more movies on a 16GB SD card.

This has been a very fun little project!

On her trip to NYC with the High School Fashion Team, my daughter used it as in-flight entertainment, and to check her e-mail and update her facebook page during the trip. (WiFi in the hotel worked great)
Since I've got all my 'important' stuff like Calendar, Contacts, E-mail, etc. all sync'd to Mobile Me - it was a simple exercise to get the Hackintosh to also sync to Mobile Me. Now it is a nice 'backup' laptop if anything happens to the 'big brother' (my main machine - the Macbook 13" Unibody).

And for everyone reading this - Backup your data today!
a quick message brought to you by our sponsor... Your conscience)

If you'd like your own Dell Mini 9 Hackintosh, just drop me a line and I do my best to help out.

From my Twitter posts - or @keithparsons

Dell Mini9 Hackintosh *lives* once again. Just had to do a bit of 'tweaking'. Yea! - Instructions here

Hackintosh is even better than before! Now with 2-finger scrolling, and 2-finger right click! Yea! Instructions here

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Yard & Garden Update

OK, anyone who knows me, knows I don't like to work in the yard... I think it comes from having to do yard work as a teenager as punishment. But I do like having a nice yard. I hate to weed, but like to plant and 'futz' with little growing things.

So here is an update to our yard so far this year. I wanted to put in a raised bed garden, a 'Square Foot Garden' like my friend Barry Woodbridge teaches... but the tramp has to stay for when the g-kiddies are visiting.

So I went with some smaller garden in a planter style this year as a test. The entire square footage of all the vegetable garden area is about 25 sq. ft. - only about a 4' X 6' total area - but it's in these nice little boxes instead.

The beans were just planted this morning, but the rest of the plants are growing quite well, even the 'upside down' version of the tomato planter. Some of the herbs on top of the upside down planter died in the snow a couple of weeks ago, as well as the first set of tomato plants. But the new ones are doing quite well.

I'll keep you up to date on the progress of this new method.

Jill and Ryan do a great job keeping up with the rest of the yard-work - thanks!

Back Yard looking NE

A couple types of Tomatoes with cages ready to go

Four varieties of Lettuce, Garlic, Chives, Green Onions, and Walla-Walla's

Sugar Snap Peas and more Broccoli

Broccoli and a variety of green, red, and yellow peppers

Upside-Down Tomato Planter - Water in Base to keep from being too top-heavy

Top of Upside Down Tomato Planter - Trying for Herb Garden Here

Back Yard Looking West - Rory Helping...

Back Yard Looking East

Front Yard Looking NE at Mt. Timpanogos

Rory - 5-months old - Golden Retriever/Poodle Mix

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gap-Minder - World Statistics

I was watching a TED presentation this evening on my computer and experienced a new 'view' of the world's AIDS epidemic, but shown graphically - with animated data. It was very enlightening!
The FULL data set, not just AIDS, but education, life expectancy, income, births per woman, and many many others are all available. But best of all there is an easy-to-use interface that allows one to pic the variables, and then watch how things in the world have changed over the last 200 years.

This is a *fantastic* tool to learn and understand differences in countries, cultures, and how we all fit in this world. It's amazing to see how the world has changed over time.

There is something about having the freedoms, liberty, captialism, etc. that has allowed this 'winning' way. The US is NOT the best at everything - this data from world statistics shows that. We have problems and issues - that's true - but I'm pretty glad to be an American anyway.

spend some time learning - and I mean that - LEARNING from the historical data and statistics at this site. It will be good for you to think about the 'whys' of some of these.

Here's the

A couple of places to start - AIDS -vs- Income, Number of Children per Woman -vs- Income, Life Expectancy over time, just to get you started.

Enjoy - and please share your insight you learn from evaluating this information. Why does the world work like this?

Some TED Talks that might help

Best Stats You Have Ever Seen
Insights on Poverty
Truth about HIV

Pre-Flight Entertainment

On the flight down to Atlanta from Denver Sunday evening I had the opportunity for some great 'pre-flight entertainment'.

I'm normally this guy during the Airline Safety Demonstrations... But on this flight I was still awake to see the demonstration.
The male flight attendant was in the front, and the female was talking into the microphone from the back of the plane.

After a couple of seconds, I noticed the male attendant was 'lip-syncing' the words to what the female attendant was saying over the loud speakers. He was very good at it too. Not missing a word, including proper phrasing, cadence, and intonation! Not too mention, he was over-exaggerating all the movements. After a second or two, I realized he wasn't just playing around for a bit, but was going to complete the entire presentation this way.

It was hilarious!

Within a minute or so, the entire plane was watching and laughing at this guy.
When it was finished he took a bow, and mentioned how funny it looked from his point of view, all of us leaning into the aisles to get a good look at him.

The "best ever"!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thanks for helping hit Brent's Blog

Thanks to everyone who helped with my little 'joke' for my son Brent who is on a mission in Brazil. He asked his sisters to help send more people to his blog as a joke, so to finish the joke I thought to send out a couple of e-mails to friends and family to 'bump' up the count for him.

He was at
28 unique folks who had previously visited his Mission Blog...


Movie Reviews for the Week

This week I was home (all but one day in Sunnyvale) - and had a chance to watch a couple of the new 'blockbuster' movies. Here are my reviews. Star Trek
I've like all things Star Trek for many years and never thought they had a chance of making a decent movie about the series. I did not like the other movies very much. I like all the series, but the movies were sometimes lacking. This new movie was so different...a very unique perspective.

Spock stole the show!All the characters were well developed and gave us some new insight into their lives as younger explorers. Loved seeing Leonard Nimoy in his role! Spock and Ohoura - I always suspected that! Bones is just as I always suspected he would have been as a young guy! There are great new insights into the early history of this crew - but remember, this is a 'reboot' of the original series in that it is on a different parallel time-line -so who knows what new adventures await this new crew.

In fact, I think all the crew members were individually better than their old counterparts! (well, all but Kirk... who can replace the original there...)

All in all a superb effort & I hope they will make another one!

I've enjoyed all the X-men series movies. Never a reader of comic books, but liked the movies. This one was in the same genre, it seemed to work. If you like the X-men type movies this would be a good one for you to watch. I was worth the time and money to go see it. Entertaining!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quick Trip to San Jose

Yesterday morning, sleeping in my nice bed. 

  • on the road to the airport
  • wait for flight
  • flight to San Jose
  • Taxi to AirMagnet
  • Meetings with AirMagnet on new course development
  • Get a ride back to the airport
  • Barely make the flight
  • flight back to SLC
  • fight traffic home

So a 12-hour little 'jaunt' over to California and back, all in one day. What would the old 49'rs of the 1850's who took months to travel from Salt Lake Valley to the California mine fields have thought of that.

By the way, the flight back from San Jose had 'major' tailwinds. We were flying for only 58 minutes... that equates to a 620 mph average ground speed... including takeoff and landing. Probably the fastest I've ever travelled!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Alysha's Dance Concert

Last week I was teaching an AirMagnet class in Los Angeles - at the Hilton directly across the street from the LAX airport.

I normally teach on the last day of class until 3:30pm or 4:00pm - then take down and pack everything up.

But my daughter Alysha was giving their final dance concert of the year at her high school that night.

By changing a couple of things around, teaching later on the other days I was able to complete the class by 2:30pm PDT, pack up, and get to the airport by 3:00pm. I was initially ticketed on a United flight later in the evening, but had purchased a special one-way ticket home to see if I could make the Dance Concert.

Not paying attention - when I clicked the last Friday of the month on the reservations page I forgot last Friday wasn't the last Friday of the month... it was the 1st of May. So I had made a huge mistake, in that my ticket was for the 29th of May, not the 1st.

So when I go to check in, no ticket... the 'same day' ticket was going to be something like $350... ouch! But the nice lady at the ticket counter listened to my dilema, and made some changes... and I got the last seat on the 3:50pm flight to SLC.

The last seat happened to be in between two big rugby players - but after 90 sqwished minutes I was on the ground in SLC. Caught the very first shuttle bus to the parking, had no one in line for parking payment, and a smooth drive down to Orem.

I walked into the High School Auditorium right at 7:30pm - right as the concert started! - So finishing up teaching - then four hours later watching my daughter dance. What a world we live in.

When Alysha came out on stage and saw that I had actually surprised her and came to her concert she started to cry. All the travelling hassles were all worth that one moment.

And the concert was great to boot!


Saturday evening, after sending off Joe, Karrissa and their two girls back to Vegas, Jill and I took my Mom and Dad up to SLC to see the play 'Wicked'.

Jill and I had seen it before in NYC. Jill was able to procure some tickets from a Doctor friend at work.
It was an enjoyable evening - a fun play and good company.