Monday
Sep262011

It's MY Data

I'm really hung up on this personal analytics/sentiment analysis thing.

It sounds like the new Facebook timeline may provide some of this, but it's not good enough. Greplin is really interesting and seems like it is able to provide at least part of what I'm talking about, but not the actual sentiment analysis bit. Greplin is like 'you search.'

I found this paper you can read at http://mobisocial.stanford.edu/papers/informatics11.pdf and they have developed an application to run analysis on emails at http://mobisocial.stanford.edu/muse . That is a piece of the puzzel, the email piece, but that's all. I also stumbled across http://refleta.com via http://alicamorga.com/2011/07/who-cares-how-you-feel/ which looks like a more full fledged attempt at the ideas I am kicking around, but it seems really hard to find specific information about Refleta in terms of what exactly it is trying to accomplish.

What it comes down to is frustration.

I find it extremely frustrating that I've created and generated tons and tons of data, but I can't do anything with it. Between email, sms, blog posts (including LiveJournal), Facebook, Twitter, 360Voice.com, shopping history with Amazon and even with shopper cards at King Soopers, Safeway and other grocery stores (and any rewards cards, for that matter) even financial history is aggregated in a place like Mint.com or Manilla. All of this information exists, it's my information, why can't I use it.

Imagine what you could learn about yourself if you could combine all of this data. Maybe I find out I'm in a terrible mood after I play video games, or maybe every year at the same time of the year my attitude is more positive or more negative than it typically is. It's hard to speculate about all the possibilities because it's really just a matter of looking for correlation over time in personalized data.

I emailed the person who is heading up Refleta to see if it is possible to get into the alpha. I'm not sure if it's exactly what I'm hoping it is. I would love to build something to do this, but I'm an ideas guy and I don't really know anyone who is much of a programmer, so I have no idea how to actually put my ideas into practice.

It's such a good idea, though...

Sunday
Sep252011

Sentiment Analysis

I want sentiment analysis tools.

I want to be able to take my old LiveJournal and my tweets and my SMS messages (which I back up to Gmail) and anything I've ever written and look for trends, patterns, anything that might give me a better handle on my attitude and changes in my life over time.

Granted I only have data going back so far or during certain periods in my life, but it would be interesting to look at now, then check over time as I collect more and more data.

My Google searching has only been cursory, at best, but I can't seem to find anything like this that exists. Maybe I need to talk to my computer programmer friend...

Oh, and patent pending, or whatever...

Thursday
Sep222011

Simplifying Life

It's only been 2 months, but I'm cancelling my gym membership. I don't go frequently enough to justify it, everything I want to do costs extra money, and I have enough workout equipment in my living room that I don't need to go to the gym to work out. It's also about saving money, reducing expenses, which is something I seem to always be working on and am always terrible at being successful. One small step.

Slow-carbing it has been going really well. Weight was fluctuating a lot the first few weeks. I think that had more to do with being a little too flexible about the rules (like starting cheat days early and ending them late), and being absolutely disgusting with my cheat days. I've gotten things more under control, and weight loss seems to be consistent. I'm at 195 as of this morning, so that's down roughly 12lbs since the beginning of August. Saying 12lbs is probably overstating it since my weight was fluctuating a lot around then, but it feels good to say it.

On Tuesday I picked up a 60lb kettlebell and did my first training session yesterday. I need more work. I couldn't get up to 75 reps, only 50. And I did them in groups of 10-15. I'm not feeling the burn today nearly as much as I thought I would which probably means my form wasn't very good. I'm going to focus on getting form just right for a lower number of reps, then eventually build up the rep count. I really do believe that between the kettlebell, slow myotic crunch and cat vomit exercise I will be able to get into the kind of shape I want to be in. Then maybe around the beginning of next year I'll start looking into CrossFit - but only once I have an established base level of fitness.

There is only one place in the entire city that has float tanks. You may also know them as isolation tanks. Basically a 7ft tank with ~10 inches of water with 25% epsom salt at skin temperature. The salts make you extremely buoyant in the water. Once you close the lid, it's completely dark and silent. Essentially all your senses are shut off - you can't see or hear anything, and after a little while you aren't supposed to notice the water at all and you feel like you're floating in nothing. There are many benefits according to the medical community including relaxation and speeding up healing of injuries or recovery from exercise. I'm more interested in some fringe benefits. Mental clarity and agility, sharpened perception, mental organization and improving access to memories, improved problem solving, and so many other mental benefits (I prefer to call them mental benefits instead of psychological benefits, that sounds so clinical.) I tried calling yesterday to schedule an appointment - they are closed on Wednesdays! I'll try again today, hoping to schedule an appointment for Monday.

Monday
Sep122011

How I Got Here

It would probably be impossible to track everything I've read, all the information I've consumed since the beginning of the year that have helped me to go from where I was to where I am now, but I can still do a pretty solid overview between Amazon purchase history for physical books, Kindle books and audiobooks from Audible. I feel like it's important to have some sort of record to see how things evolved from one another, but also so I can direct anyone else who becomes interested in this best possible self stuff to some good reading materials. Here's a list of what I've read (or started reading) so far. The order is based on when acquired as opposed to when read - that would be difficult since often I'm reading many multiple books simultaneously. These are in order, though, so I think it provides a solid picture and impression of my progression.

  1. 4 Hour Body (1/4/11)
  2. How to Win Friends & Influence People (3/20/11)
  3. Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye (4/15/11)
  4. Ultimate Guide to Trail Running (4/18/11)
  5. Training for Climbing (4/22/11)
  6. Why We Get Fat (4/23/11)
  7. Primal Blueprint (5/4/11)
  8. Ultramarathon Man (5/8/11)
  9. Paleo Diet (5/10/11)
  10. Paleo Solution (5/10/11)
  11. Total Immersion Swimming (5/14/11)
  12. Self-Coached Climber (5/20/11)
  13. Beginning Runner's Handbook (5/21/11)
  14. Running for Mortals (5/21/11)
  15. Return to Fitness (5/21/11)
  16. Born to Run (5/23/11)
  17. Barefoot Running Book (5/31/11)
  18. Performance Nutrition for Runners (5/31/11)
  19. Racing Weight (5/31/11)
  20. Barefoot Running Step by Step (6/1/11)
  21. Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running (6/1/11)
  22. World's Fittest You (6/6/11)
  23. Buddhism for Beginners (6/18/11)
  24. Art of Happiness (6/18/11)
  25. Buddhism for Busy People (6/18/11)
  26. Buddhism for Dummies (6/18/11)
  27. Short History of Nearly Everything (7/9/11)
  28. Belly Fat Cure (7/23/11)
  29. Triathlete's Training Bible (7/27/11)
  30. The Game (8/13/11)
  31. 48 Laws of Power (8/17/11)
  32. Art of Seduction (8/17/11)
  33. 33 Strategies of War (8/17/11)
  34. Definitive Book of Body Language (8/24/11)
  35. What Every BODY Is Saying (8/24/11)
  36. Emotions Revealed (8/24/11)
  37. Body Fat Solution (8/31/11)
  38. Blink (9/10/11)
  39. Yes! (9/10/11)
  40. Social Animal (9/10/11)
  41. Outliers (9/10/11)
  42. Tipping Point (9/10/11)
  43. Get the Life You Want (9/10/11)

That essentially brings us up to date. While it may not seem like everything directly ties together, I think it makes sense that to be happy and healthy that means not just focusing on my level of fitness, but my mental and social aptitude as well. The fact that I read How to Win Friends and Influence People so early, moved to some of the inner peace stuff with Buddhism, then moved back more into social psychology and influence helps me recognize I'm working on total improvement and transformation of self, not just limited areas.

That's good.

Thursday
Sep082011

Sore

As was anticipated from my previous experiments with it, the kettlebell is a rousing success. The heaviest one they had at the gym was 35lbs, so I started by doing the two arm kettlebell swing for a total of 75 reps in 3 sets. I just went until I felt like I couldn't do anymore so the sets ended up being 35, 25, 15. After that I grabbed a 15lb kettlebell and did the one armed swing 15 reps each arm. By then I was pretty much wiped out. Not only is it good resistance training, but fantastic for cardio as well. I cooled down on the treadmill.

I kind of expected my back and shoulders to be sore, but there were a few things that surprised me. First my neck is sore. I suspect this means I demonstrated poor form, but it may just be that those muscles are weak and unexpectedly kicked into gear. Where I am most sore, and have been all day, is my quadriceps. All day today getting up for any reason has been a bit of a wake up. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I certainly thought my legs were in a bit better shape than it turns out they are.

I've signed up for a Peak into Pilates class next Tuesday. The woman at the activities counter apparently couldn't tell me what the normal class schedule would be like or how much it costs. I'm getting the impression they want to spring it on you once you've done the introductory course.

After a couple weeks of not making up my mind I finally dropped the online class I was signed up for and registered for the live in person class instead. It doesn't start until nearly the end of October, so I have a bit of time to prepare.

Membership to the climbing gym expires pretty soon. Of the 4 of us who originally signed up, I'm pretty sure only 2 of us will be renewing. The price breaks for going from month-to-month to 6 months paid in full to 12 months paid in full don't really seem that substantial, though. I'm going to have to take some time to go over the numbers in a bit more detail, but our thoughts that a 12 month membership would be worthwhile may have been somewhat foolish.

In the world of higher culture, there are a few things I've been looking at as well. First is a membership to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. For the longest time I thought this was something different than the Denver Natural History Museum. Turns out there is no such thing as the Natural History Museum and I was thinking of the DMNS all along. An individual membership is $45, a dual membership (plus a guest) is $60. There's also an option for a Young Profesional membership in 2 flavors. These memberships are $250 or $500 respectively. The higher tier just includes more passes to events and networking opportunities, though I think it may be a good idea to meet some new people and feel like I'm getting involved, plus it may be partially tax deductable. I've also been looking at a membership to the Denver Art Museum (DAM). A student membership is only $45 and admits 2. They also offer an Associate membership. The Young Associate is $1000 with the majority being tax deductable, though I'm not sure what the additional benefits would be.

Why does everything have to cost so much money...