Keep it Clean… it will last longer!

Last night at Taekwondo two women (a student and a parent) asked me the same question: ‘Is that a new dobok?’ The dobok is of course the uniform we wear, and until you are a Senior Instructor in our system it is white with our logo on the back. Additionally I have two flag patches on mine – the left arm bears the Israeli flag, the right arm the Canadian flag.

Mitch Fighting PositionI have two ‘active’ doboks… and when I say active, I mean currently in use. I have two others – the one that was issued to me as a White Belt beginner, and the one I bought to replace that one – but they never get worn. It is Interesting to note (because of the questions) that the last time I bought a new one I was preparing to test for my First Dan Black Belt… in 2010.

Although there was a time when this was not true, I currently wear both doboks evenly. I usually teach almost every night, and I really do sweat a lot (you try doing any physical activity for three hours at my weight). Because of this, I tend to do laundry every second night, and make sure that my doboks are both cleaned. Of course, this does expose me to the risk should my washing machine (or drier) catches fire that I lose them both… but that is a reasonably low risk that I am willing to take.

Once the doboks are clean I hang them up properly on a wooden clothes hanger, and they go into the closet. In the morning before I go to work I pick one out (at random on Laundry Day +1) and hang it in my car where it stays until it is time for Taekwondo.

…and then when I put it on, I go to work, and I sweat. I do jumping jacks, I jog, I do sit-ups and push-ups. I lead the stretching (or I follow along), I punch, kick, spar, and do my poomsaes (patterns). Some evenings I do weapons, and if you don’t think those are strenuous, try this: have someone pull a handgun on you, don’t get shot, disarm and incapacitate them. Then do it 100 more times, and then teach a group of Black Belts how to do it. Trust me, it’s a lot of work J

At the end of the evening I am sweatier and my dobok is dirtier than anyone else in the club. It is not so because I try harder and am more active than they are, that is just not true. Yes, I am usually there longer than anyone except the Master… but the reason my dobok is dirtier is because I am fatter than everyone else, and because of that when I am active I sweat more. I literally have to peel my dobok off some days. Despite the fact that when I get home it is going into the wash, I do not throw it in a ball in my bag; I hang it back up on the hanger and then when I get to my car I hang it as I would a tuxedo.

I do not consider the dobok to be sacred or especially irreplaceable; I consider my belt to be so, which is why it never goes into checked luggage, and never gets washed. The belt was awarded to me by my GrandMaster in a very sacred ceremony. My dobok? I paid for it and it was handed to me.

However the dobok does not have to be sacred for us to treat it with respect. The respect shows that I care for it properly. It also means that five years after I bought it, my dobok is still in nearly pristine shape. It does not get thrown on the floor, it does not get eaten in. I do not wear it to and from the dojang. I treat it the same way I treat my good suits (although I do NOT dry-clean it, and never have). But if you treat it right, it will last a very long time.

Now, with that being said, I am really looking forward to needing a new dobok soon… I have worn the largest size possible since I started, and hopefully with my weight loss progress that will soon no longer be the case!

Milestones

This morning I stepped onto the scale and got an unexpected surprise… I was, for the first time (since I started losing weight last August) under a certain multiple of ten (I am still not telling you what I weigh, so you can try to guess but you will be wrong).  It was a very nice feeling, but I also knew it was likely to be a short-lived euphoria, as tomorrow morning I will likely be above that number again.

Don’t get me wrong… I am not planning on binging today – that is not what I do. ‘Hey I am under a certain weight so I can inhale a large bucket of Buffalo wings! :) …’ That is not the way I do it.  Yes I do binge, but not based on things like that.  I just know that weight loss – especially when you weigh yourself every morning – is not going to be a consistent linear drop.  As you can see, even when there is a downward trend, there are days when it goes up… when it does so two days in a row it sucks but over the course of the week if you are down then you are doing something right.

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I have decided that at each ten pound milestone I am going to introduce something new into my regimen. This morning I introduced morning exercises (something we should all do). I am sure you know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic (strength) exercises, and if you don’t then you will have to wait for a future article for me to explain the differences.  I decided that every morning I would be doing a few minutes of anaerobic exercises – I have a set of dumbbells which I will use, but I will also do push-ups and sit-ups. 

A few years ago (around the time when I bought the nearly pristine and unused dumbbells) I bought a yoga mat.  No, I am not going to be doing any yoga… I bought it to do stretches at home.  When I moved out of the house I took these, in the hope that I would start using them.

By the way please remember, if it sounds like I just discovered the need to exercise, that I teach Taekwondo five days per week, and yes I do work out, I just don’t do it in the morning.  I am also not going to be changing that I work out in the evenings – that is when Taekwondo is.  However I said that at the milestones I will be introducing something new, not changing something.  So in addition to the TKD, I will do my dumbbell curls, push-ups, and sit-ups in the morning as well.

I also do not know if I will be adding something drastic every time… I will be trying to work up my levels.  At this weight I am doing a minimum of ten push-ups, twenty sit-ups, and three sets of dumbbell curls.  At the next milestone I might double the push-ups… who knows.  I might even add a morning jog, if I can figure out the timing.  We’ll see. 

In the meantime this morning is a bit of a high… partly because of the new low, and partly because exercise just feels good – even if we have to force ourselves to start.

Hyper-V 2008 R2: Still good enough?

I manage a vSphere environment at work, and it is a real change from the last few years when I spent all of my time talking about Hyper-V.  I want to be clear – it is not better or worse, it is just… different.  We have a number of virtualization hosts, plus a physical domain controller, and one physical server running Windows Server 2008 R2 (Enterprise), which has an app running that precludes us from changing that.  The app hardly uses any memory, so a lot of that was wasted.

While my physical server does not have a lot of RAM (8GB) it has a ridiculous amount of internal storage… I mean terabytes and terabytes of it.  I asked my boss about it, and he said it was there for something that they no longer use the server for… but it’s there… wasted as well… for now.

A few weeks ago I proposed a project that would require use of that space, and it was tentatively approved.  The problem is that the existing application and the proposed application are not supposed to co-exist on the same server.  I would have to come up with a way to segregate them.  No problem… I would install the Hyper-V role onto the physical server, and then create a new virtual machine for my purposes.

Once I explained to my boss that no extra licensing was required – because the physical server is licensed for Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition, we could build as many as four virtual machines on the same license on that host – he got excited, and asked the usual ‘what else can we do?’ questions.

‘Can we cluster the virtual machine?’

No.  I mean, we could, but it would require having a second Hyper-V host which we do not have.  There is nothing we can do about that without incurring extra costs… and the purpose of the exercise is to do it for zero dollars.

‘Can we use Storage Spaces?’

No.  Storage Spaces is a great technology – one that I really loved talking about when I was working with Microsoft.  However it is a feature that was only introduced in Windows Server 2012, and we are only on Server 2008 R2.

‘Can we create the VM using 64TB .vhdx drives?’

No.  Again, .VHDX files were only introduced in Windows Server 2012.  We are limited to 2TB .VHD files… which is more than enough for our actual needs anyways.

‘How about UEFI Boot on the VM’

Nope.  Generation 2 hardware was introduced in Windows Server 2012 R2, so we are stuck with Generation 1 hardware.

So after he struck out on all of these questions, he asked me the question I was expecting… ‘Then why bother?’

I became a fan of Hyper-V as soon as it was released in Windows Server 2008.  Yes, the original.  I was not under any delusions that it was as good as or better than ESX, but it was free and it didn’t require anything to install… and if you knew Windows then you didn’t need to learn much more to manage it.

Of course it got much better in Windows Server 2008 R2, and even better in the SP1 release… and then in Windows Server 2012 it broke through, and was (in my opinion) as good as or better than vSphere… in some ways it was almost as good, in some ways it was better, and in the balance it came out even. Of course Server 2012 R2 made even better improvements, but when I spent three years with Microsoft Canada – first as a Virtual Partner Technology Advisor and then as a Virtual Evangelist – criss-crossing the country (and the US and the globe) evangelizing Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 I was confident when I said that at last Microsoft Virtualization was on a par with VMware.

I would never have said that about Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2. Sorry Microsoft, it was good… but vSphere was better.

However in this case we are not comparing Microsoft versus VMware… we are not deciding which platform to implement, because VMware is not an option. We are not even comparing the features of vOld versus vNew… because vNew is still not an option.

All we are deciding is this: Does the version of Hyper-V that is available to us for this project good enough for what our needs are for the project? Let’s review:

  • We need to create a virtual machine with 4GB of RAM. YES.
  • We need that VM to support up to 4TB of storage. YES. (We cannot do it on a single volume, but that is not a requirement)
  • We need the VM to be able to join a domain with FFL and DFL of Windows Server 2008 R2. YES.
  • We need the virtual machine to be backed up on a nightly basis using the tools available to us. YES

That’s it… we have no other requirements. All of our project needs are met by Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2. Yes, Microsoft would love for us to pay to upgrade the host operating system, but they got their money for this server when we bought the license in 2011, and unless they are willing to give us a free upgrade (there is no Software Assurance on the existing license) and pay to upgrade the existing application to work on Server 2012R2 then there is nothing that we can do for them… and frankly if we were in the position where we were going to have to redeploy the whole server, it would be on VMware anyways, because that is what our virtualization environment runs on.

I spent two years evangelizing the benefits of a hybrid virtualization environment, and how well it can be managed with System Center 2012 R2… and that is what we are going to have. I have purchased the System Center licenses and am thrilled that I will be able to manage both my vSphere and my Hyper-V from one console… and for those of you who were paying attention that is what I spent the last three years recommending.

I can hold my head up high because I am running my environment exactly how I recommended all of you run yours… so many of my audience complained (when I was with Microsoft) that my solutions were not real-world because the real world was not exclusively Microsoft. That was never what I was recommending… I was recommending that the world does not need to be entirely VMware either… the two can coexist very well… with a little bit of knowledge and understanding!

It is a Loooong Journey…

Crane Pose The scale this morning was kind to me… down 1.7lbs over yesterday.  However looking at my 30 day graph I am only down 8lbs this month… respectable, but not where I want it to be (10lbs per month).

Last week I was sitting with the Educator at the Weight Management Clinic and she looked through my food diary, and nitpicked a few of my choices.  She was right of course… there are certain things I just shouldn’t be eating.  However when she asked me why I ate those foods I had a good answer for her.

Had she asked me three months ago it would have been the depression of unemployment and living in the same house with my estranged wife.  Now that I am working, living on my own (in a great place I might add!) and no longer as down about life as I was, the answer has nothing to do with moods and depressions.  I have not been an emotional eater, I simply know that if I deprive myself of so many of the foods that I love (and which I know are bad for my weight loss progress) I will do very well for a while… and then I will crash and gain back a lot of that weight because I will start back with my old habits of ‘Oh food how I have missed thee so!’

When you have as much weight to lose as I do it is a marathon (and a super-marathon at that), and not a sprint.  A good sprinter can run a mile in under 4 minutes.  Then why is it that a good marathoner cannot finish the 26.2 miles in under 1h44 minutes?  The answer is simple… you have to pace yourself, otherwise you will cramp up and not finish the race.

 Gilad & DadI have a long race ahead of me… there is no doubt in my mind.  But if I don’t pace myself I know (as I have in the past) I shall fail.  I don’t remember where I first heard the expression ‘failure is not an option’ but this is how I feel about my weight loss this time.  I am 42 years old, and at my weight (and with my family history) I should be thanking G-d that I do not have diabetes, and a host of other weight-related ailments.  I have gotten this far while being relatively healthy, but I know that if I don’t lose all of the extra weight I am carrying around I will not make it to 50 with the same luck.

And so yes, from time to time I will have the evil ice cream… and this week-end I was invited to my favourite Brazilian Steakhouse in Niagara Falls and did NOT weight my portions nor register them in MyFitnessPal… I ate and enjoyed, and knew that the scale Sunday morning would be less than kind.  If you don’t indulge in moderation, you will eventually engorge in its absence.

On a side note, I had a friend in from out of town for the week-end.  She is a professional photographer from Halifax, and took some great pictures of my and my younger son.  I look at them and smile – I am still grossly overweight… but even I can see a difference from three months ago.

Dropbox: The saga continues

Dropbox was not hacked.  At least, that is according to them.  And in truth it wasn’t… at least, not in the strict definition of the word hacked.  With that being said, it was compromised.  It could in fact be that another service was hacked, but the hackers then cross-referenced those passwords to Dropbox and found hundreds (if not thousands) of them worked.

The bottom line is you have to change your passwords – all of them – often.  I don’t have a recommendation of how often, but more often than twice a year for sure.  Also here’s a good rule: if you join a site and they e-mail your password to you, assume that the password you used is not secure.  If you enter a password on a site they should be able to send you a link to reset it, but they should not actually know what it is.

For more information, see the following article from my archives: http://garvis.ca/2012/11/21/pass-the-word/

The journey continues…

IMG_0216 Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight – I don’t mean ten or twenty pounds, but a significant amount of weight – will know that there is a certain point when you start to feel the weight loss, not only because you see the numbers on the scale, but in other facets of life.  I was not at my heaviest ever when this photograph was taken, but in terms of when I decided (again) to start getting serious about losing it, this is more or less what I looked like.

Today I am not quite twenty pounds lighter than I was in this picture, but it is close.  It is also important to understand that after this photograph was taken I gained another (nearly) fifteen pounds.  So from the time I started to get serious (in terms of the past year I was at my heaviest the week of May 29th) I am slightly more than 25lbs down.  Not bad, but it really is just a drop in the bucket.

A drop it might be, but it is significant nonetheless.  Let me outline some of the ways I am noticing the weight loss:

  1. I am able to teach Taekwondo… when you take a class, it is easy to fall behind, slack off, take a break or whatever.  When you are in front of the class, and you want your students to give 100%, then you have to give that 100% too.  You cannot bend over winded and hope nobody notices.  Of course, you can also tell the class to do something… and watch over them as they do it.  I am still guilty of that… but a lot less than I was when I started back in July…
  2. Among the things I do at Taekwondo that I had not been able to do for a long time are: push-ups (if you think that is silly, imagine doing push-ups with an extra 120lbs on your back… that is what it is like when you are obese), sit-ups (aside from them just being hard, your stomach actually gets in the way), jumping jacks, and even strenuous stretching.
  3. I am wearing pants that are a size smaller than I was wearing in May; in fact, I wore the same suit from the picture last week, and what had been pretty tight is now LOOSE.  Thankfully there are good belts :)
  4. Speaking of belts, I have two of them that I bought from a booth in Pike’s Place Market in Seattle; I love the belts, but I am now wearing them on the last hole.  Rather than punching more holes, I am going to take them with me to Seattle next month and ask the guy to shorten them from the other side.
  5. Back to Taekwondo, I wear the largest size dubok (Taekwondo uniform) that is commercially available – I have since I started.  at my worst the slits up my sides were more than two inches apart… they are now much closer to half an inch.  Additionally my belt (which I do not think has stretched) has a lot more hanging when I tie it properly… that is huge for me, since both my name and my Grandmaster’s name are on each end of the belt, and they are now legible without people having to assume the first letter or two.
  6. When I walk I can go much longer before breaking a sweat, and it is just easier to walk.
  7. Getting up from a sitting position – and especially getting out of the driver’s seat of my car – are much easier than they were.

Of course, here’s the thing… all of these gradual improvements do not change the fact that I am still 100lbs overweight.  I am what the doctors refer to as Class 3 Obese.  My BMI is 42.6, and I have a ton of weight to lost still.  Well okay not quite a ton, but slightly over 100lbs.

There are two ways that I can look at myself right now… and depending on the day (heck, depending on the minute) I see myself both ways:  I have 100lbs left to lose before my BMI falls out of the Obesity category… that is a very long way to go.  However in three months I have dropped my BMI from 46.1 to where it is now, and I am making positive strides every week.

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Oh by the way, that is something else I have realized: If I weigh myself every week I will always be down.  It doesn’t work that way if I weigh myself every day.  As you can see from the graph it occasionally goes up – this morning I was 1.5lbs heavier than I was yesterday morning.  However I am still 2lbs down from what I weighed a week ago… 9.8lbs lighter than I was a month ago, and 21.5lbs down from where I was three months ago.  Is that going to discourage me from weighing myself every morning?  Hell no.  I am not the sensitive type that will get discouraged from a day-over-day increase, rather it will remind me to stay the course, and maybe eat one less piece of whatever that day.  I have learned not to take the day-to-day comparisons to heart.

I feel better than I did six months ago, that is for sure.  I don’t know how much better I feel about myself, but that will come with time.  Believe me, the weight issues are not the hardest part on my psyche.

I promised my Master and I promised myself that if by June of next year I am able to lose 75lbs then I will test for my 3rd Dan Black Belt.  I am on track for that goal… I am four months into it (1/3 the way to June) and I am 1/3rd of the way to that goal.  I did have some setbacks in that time, and frankly I expect to have more setbacks going forward.  However if I can test at the weight that he and I decided on I will still be far from my ultimate goal… but I will be satisfied with my progress.

Until then?  Well, I guess I have to take it one day at a time.