Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Month: October 2008 (page 1 of 3)

Caught on Camera at One on One

Star-Tribune-One-on-One-Article-Thumbnail.pngWhen I worked downtown I was really lucky to have this very cool independent coffee shop just a block away from the office. I made a daily trip, even in the freezing cold of January, to get a coffee from One on One. Now that I’m not downtown all the time I don’t get there as often, but it seems I did make it into the background on a recent photo shoot!

I was there a couple of weeks ago and I remember them moving some bikes around and it seemed a bit goofy. I saw a photographer and just figured they were doing some promotional shots for the website or something. Turns out it was actually for an article in the Star Tribune and I snuck into the background. See the top-left corner.


If you are in the area and like coffee, bikes or both stop by. I highly recommend the cold press coffee, this is where I was turned on to the wonders of that stuff.

By the way, the Robin Williams visit mentioned in that article was captured in person at the end of my Farewell video by my buddies Jim and Kent.

Thanks to Eric Marshall for tipping me off to this!

Stop Twitter Direct Messages

My relationship with Twitter ebbs and flows. Sometimes I find it very enjoyable, and at other times it seems like a worthless distraction. However, there is one part of Twitter that I have never liked, direct messages.

Why not like direct messages? I’m not a fan of anything that creates another queue that I have to monitor and respond to. I try to keep everything in one workflow, and that workflow is email. My annoyance isn’t limited to Twitter direct messages, but extends equally to Facebook messages and any other website specific inbox. I think Facebook could actually do their members a huge service by making their message system IMAP-capable. It would make it infinitely more useful and you could happily sit in your choice of email clients. On the other hand I would rather just not deal with Twitter direct messages.

I’d thought for a while that part of a Twitter Pro premium service could be to turn off direct message function. I decided to take matters into my own hands and rid myself of direct messages now instead. You can use this little program to do the same for you.

The first thing to do is tell Twitter to stop notifying you of a direct message. Go to your account Settings and in the Notices tab uncheck the Direct Text emails option.


Now, this 28-line Ruby program will simply respond (via direct message) to any direct messages you have received and then delete the direct message from your account, leaving no queue behind. If you don’t like the delete, you can just comment out line 24. To make life easy this uses the Twitter4R library for Ruby. You will have to edit lines 9 and 19 to your credentials and personal message.

# Get requires out of the way
gem('twitter4r', '>=0.2.0')
# Let's get a Twitter Client created
# TODO: Put your credentials in here
client = => 'USERNAME', :password => 'PASSWORD')
# Get Direct Messages
messages = client.messages(:received)
# Loop through any direct messages received
messages.each do |message|
  # Reply to the message
  # TODO: set the message text to what you want, make sure it is Twitter length compliant
  response = Twitter::Message.create(
    :recipient => message.sender,
    :client => client)
  # Delete the message
  client.message(:delete, message)
  # Put a brief pause here just to make Twitter happier
  sleep 5

There is no error checking and by default it outputs nothing. It is intended to be invoked via cron at whatever interval you would like. If you do not have the Twitter4R Gem installed just run gem install twitter4r.

King Corn

Tammy and I decided to relax a bit tonight and rent a movie. I felt like watching a documentary and a couple of clicks later we were watching King Corn.

King Corn.png

Tammy and I understand the “Circle of Corn” in America and have opted out of it in every way we can, other than enjoying some great fresh sweet corn late in the summer. We didn’t know much about this documentary though.

If you’ve read Omnivores Dilemma your very familiar with industrialized corn. The middle section of Michael Pollen‘s book is specifically on this topic. King Corn is sort of a movie version of that section of the book. Michael Pollen even shows up in the movie with a number of interview segments.

King Corn follows two guys in there mid-twenties that have roots back to Iowa (great grandfathers) but live in Boston as they relocate to Iowa and grow a single acre of Liberty Corn outside of Greene, Iowa. They go through the whole process of growing it, the economics and the eventual products made from it. It’s a good documentary and if you are unfamiliar with the dominance of corn in our food chain it would be a great starter. If you are familiar, it is an entertaining refresher. They have a segment in the movie where they visit the Earl Butz, whose farm policies altered the course of our food chain so drastically.

TED: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow

I’ve known about flow and experienced flow all of my life. I think I started to really understand it when I started programming in my early teens. I had no idea what it was called, but I definitely understood the absence of time, the stream of thought that just worked and the clarity of presence that accompanied it all.

Kathy Sierra (her blog is suspended, but she is active on Twitter) talked a lot about the power of flow, and notably how so much on our computers and the Internet is a “flow killer” (i.e., Twitter).

I was watching some recent video segments from TED and was excited to see flow on the agenda. This is a good talk about flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Csikszentmihalyi is “the man” on flow, and has a book on the topic called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. I may need to read that.

Break the Bottled Water Habit

I’ve posted before about the immense problems with bottled water. Tammy and I have been on a massive push to push all non-necessary plastic out of our lives banning bottled water was one of the first ones we did.

I was browsing the web the other day and ran across a campaign where you can sign up to Break the Bottled Water Habit.

Break the Bottler Water Habit!

Tammy and I had our first real test of this commitment when we went on the road for 6 weeks this summer. It was really tempting to get bottled water and in fact I broke down twice and did get two bottles of water during the entire trip. Tammy was pristine and drank nothing other than tap water transported in her trusty Sigg bottle.

C’mon, drop the plastic and turn on the tap!

Weight Loss Check-in for Oct 24, 2008

For those of you tracking my progress on my weight loss journey here is an update. Since my last check-in I have had a lot of great progress. At my last check-in I was at 314.6 and today I’m at 307.4, losing 7.2 pounds in those two weeks with a total loss of 14.8 pounds. Most of that weight came off in the last week with some intentionally focused high-quality food work.

I’ve continued my program without any changes and I’m feeling really good. If anything, I was a lot less hungry in the last week which isn’t surprising. I’m currently on track to hit my first goal of being sub-300 by the end of the year, and am actually a bit ahead.

Fourth Spin Class

I went to my fourth spin class tonight at LA Fitness. First off, after four sessions I still think the spin bikes are incredible. They are so much better than any others I’ve used. I’ve been really happy with the classes, especially the last two. While I’m ridiculously out of shape, I’m really impressed with how well I am doing.

In the past I’ve talked with people that have done a few marathons and then don’t run much for a couple years, and ramp up really quickly for another marathon. I think I get that more now. Even as ridiculously out of shape as I am right now, I’m finding that I can hang in the class pretty good. My guess is that I don’t have the mental barriers that others may have. I get that it hurts when you climb, and I know what that hurt is like, and I know how to manage it. The fitness level just determines how much power I can get with a certain level of suffering. Over time, I’ll get more power, but the suffering is the same. I’m also really pleased that my natural cadence is still right around 90 rpm’s. That still just feels “right”.

I was pretty proud after tonight’s spinning session. I wore my heart rate monitor for the first time and I actually reached max heart rate a couple of times (about 187). Here is the floor under my bike. :-)

Texting Car Repair

I dropped our Honda Odyssey off this morning for regular maintenance at Richfield Honda. I was pretty impressed to see this sign on the door.

That’s a nice touch. Getting a call mid-day from the service department can be little annoying and a simple text message is a great alternative. Well done and a great example of going where you customers are.

Diving in with DNG

I’ve hesitated and resisted migrating all my native Canon Raw (CRW and CR2) files to DNG. However, over the last couple of months I started to do a DNG conversion on import. Today I went all in.


I’m doing a mass conversion year-by-year. I’ll write another post on the process and how much space I saved, and a little of why I did it.

For those of you I’ve told for years to not use DNG, forget all that. :-)

Weight Loss Tool: My Diary

I’m a couple of weeks down the path to losing a bunch of weight. This will be a long road and to help along I have a few tools that I’m using to help me along. The last time when I really focused on losing weight was 2000 and I used a program called Lifeform extensively, several times every day, to track everything. Now in 2008 my iPhone is almost exclusively my tool of choice for this goal.


The first thing I wanted to figure out was a good way to log my food. I firmly believe that tracking your food intake is likely the most important thing you can do for weight loss. In the past I kept a very specific, to the gram and individual calorie, log of everything I ate. This was incredibly powerful, but in retrospect it was not the best long-term solution.

The reality is that you will not weigh your food and track everything you eat for the long term (even though I did it for nearly 2 years). It is too hard, obstructive and quickly becomes a crutch. While you cannot be clueless about the nutritional impact of your food, you can also become far too obsessed about it. For me this was a problem because leaving that gram-precise sterile environment resulted in drift and a lack of discipline.

However, writing everything down is incredibly powerful. I was once on a century ride with two guys that I later found were psychiatrists. I mentioned to them how powerful I thought food logging was and they explained that that power came from being able to “objectify” what you have written down. The simple act of logging allows you to step outside of yourself and review and coach your own behavior. I can see this, and would admit that I have at times changed behavior because I “didn’t want to write it down.”

Last time I kept grams and every detail in Lifeform and now I needed to find a new tool. I wanted something that I could use for logging and it needed to be on my iPhone. I did not want a web application because speed is everything. Databases become big issues with food logging programs, and the means of entering information were important. I did a lot of searching for food logging on the iPhone and I found a bunch of programs and frankly none of them were very good. They seemed clumsy. They were really designed for a mouse interface, not a native touch feel. I was bummed as there seemed no good solution.

My Diary

I then stumbled into some diary programs. This intrigued me since a food log could easily be a food diary. Simple, few word entries. The key features include multiple entries per date, ability to enter things with a time stamp in the past and searching. I found My Diary (iTunes) and it’s great for this need!


That screen shows lunch, snack and dinner for Saturday, October 11th. I’ve been using My Diary now for nearly a month to track my food and I’ve found it great.

Logging your food can tip you into an OCD view of eating that ultimately is not healthy. Using a diary format allows you to not be shackled down by numbers and just focus on the healthfulness of what you eat. Additionally, something I really didn’t think about is the ability to put context in your food log. When you read “Awesome turkey burger that Tammy made!” it carries context and value. A food entry saying 112g Turkey, Fried is devoid of all context and meaning. This is very helpful.

I’ve found My Diary to be fast, simple and very convenient. You can change the date and time of entries so if you miss writing it down you can catch up later. And I can’t emphasize how great it is to have this right on your iPhone. I highly recommend using My Diary for food tracking if you are looking to do that.

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