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Home Theatre Personal Computer

Posted Sep 20 2010 5:05pm
Main image
written by Charlie


Another article on home theater personal computers?  Whatever for?

Simple…  I was tired of paying for television service.Over 8 months ago, I said goodbye to DirectTV.  They were too expensive for the few stations that I actually watched.  The problem was the shows I liked were all on premium channels that cost more or were in a special programming package. 

The good news is that I get digital television from an antenna over the air and other programming from the web.  I did (and am keeping) get the basic NetFlix package (primarily for the streaming ability). 

The initial HTPC was (and still is) a home-build.  You can read about the basic build here .  Basically, it is a Windows XP Professional OS, AMD 3800+ dual core processor with 2 gigs memory running at 2GHz.

For this build, I upped the memory another gig of ram and installed a much better video card for playback.  I installed SageTV software for the television part of it (including a digital video recorder -DVR). I also installed hard wired network cable.  I had Mozilla Firefox for the internet web browser.

I also had three tuners.  2 are USB tuners (Hauppage HVR-950Q & PCTV 800e) and I had an ATI PCI Express X1 card.


When you see a landscaping vista on the television, I would get choppy video that would disrupt the viewing comfort.  Mostly on television watching, or watching recordings.

SageTV is good software.  I am thinking that for me? It is software that is too good.  It is very programmable. I was constantly setting and re-setting the parameters that the software runs under.  Some facets would improve, some would degrade, but I could never get it right.  I honestly though it was the build.

A Mac Mini, maybe?

I have a roommate.  Tom is also my friend.  He was thinking of getting an upgraded Mac Mini to replace the one that he has now.  That would leave his old unit available to configure as an HTPC.  This computer is an Intel dual core processor running 2 gigs of memory at 2.00 GHz.  So…  Both the Mac Mini and the WinXP build were similar.

After a few days of research, and some help from some friends, I downloaded software called, “Plex” from  It is amazing software.  It will turn your mac into an excellent media server thats seeks things off of the web and off of your hard drive in a user configured way. To get television on Plex (or on the Mac without the Plex software), I did additional research.  Everything that I saw tended to suggest the use of EyeTV software.

I got the software only as I already had tuners that would work with it.  I set it up on my MacBook first and got excellent results.  I ran both Plex and EyeTV with good results.  I tried it on the Mac Mini and it worked well there, too.  Main problem? EyeTV would only use one tuner.  You can watch or you can record. That is all.  There is not trial period so you can try the software, either. 

At this point, I was blaming it on the Windows Operating System as opposed to the software on it.

Was the Decision Made?

Well… No.  A new Mac Mini would be $700 approximately.  Would we really need to spend that much to get smooth video? Rather than doing that, we decided to do more research.

Would different DVR/Television software for the Windows HTPC be an option?

Every Windows TV tuner comes with software that will allow you to use that tuner with the Windows OS.  Not necessarily slick software, but working. Still not a solution.

More research.  The only real competition for SageTV in SnapStream’s Beyond TV. I read up on it and downloaded the trial software.

The software loaded and ran with no problems.  Or almost no problems.  My zipcode is 80113. When I entered that into the Beyond TV setup program, it threw a real clinker into the works.  The program guide gave me stations that I didn’t know and would not tune in.

So, I go rid of it all and started over.  What a change when I entered a zipcode that it recognized for my area.  From there, setup was simple and effective.

Setup did take a long time.  Each tuner has to be loaded in and each channel tested.  You only have to do once for each tuner.  It does take time to do.

SO Far…

I am impressed with the user interface, the actions and the presentation of everything the Beyond TV does. I’d like to emphasize that it looks good, it does not bog the computer down, the video is smooth. It looks as good as getting the digital signal thought the TV tuner.

I’ll let you know if it survives the trial period of 21 days.


Oh, yeah…  Recreation with Charlie…

Last week, I did 5 runs for 27.37 miles @ a 10:36 pace.

For September, I ran 14 times for 71.82 miles @ a 10:43 pace.

For 2010, I’ve run 188 runs for 1023.96 miles @ a 10:34 pace.

The next competitions are “Fans of the Field” a 6.2 mile run that visits all of Denver’s major sports stadiums.  You can read about it at  . That will happen on October 10th.

The Denver Inaugural Rock and Roll half-marathon It will be held on October 17th. I am running it!







written by Charlie

Tom Charlie Seattle RnR

(Thank you, Char! This picture is courtesy of Charlene Huang-Roberts facebook page!)

I work the swing shift.  Afternoon and evening.  When I have to get up at 3:30 AM, either something catastrophic has happened or I am dedicated to something!  It was the latter.  I had to get ready to run a marathon.


Several months ago my friend, Tom, decided that he wanted to do a marathon run. Tom and I have been friends since elementary school.  I decided to run the same one with him.  He is faster than I am so I doubted that we’d run it together, but we could train and learn the process together. I’ve done this before, so we could draw from what I had learned as we progressed through the training.  We decided to use Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I marathon training schedule as our base.


I ran with another friend, too.  Her name is Penelope The Cat. Penelope is an internet phenomenon. She has been a little bit of everywhere across the world. If I was going to cross the finish line, she was going to be there with me.  You can find out more about her at


Remember that this would be my 3rd attempt at a marathon distance.  I failed to complete at Chicago in 2008 falling to the ground with debilitating lower leg cramps at the 40 kilometer mark (I’ve learned to conquer that problem since). I did complete the Las Vegas Marathon in December of 2008 bringing it in at 6:04:22.


My brother, Clint and his lovely wife Susan, were kind enough to provide his house as a base for our Seattle activities. They live North of the city. We had to get up early to catch a shuttle from a hotel just north of city center.


Everyone has their own procedure for race preparation.  The evening before I made sure that I had what I needed for the morning.  It would be an easy matter to get up, eat, dress and get out the door in an easy manner.  Clint had volunteered to shuttle us to the shuttle bus location. 


The morning was cloud covered, cool and somewhat misty. By the time we made the journey, the mist had cleared. Clint dropped us off 1 block from the shuttle bus loading zone. We got right on the bus and we were off. We were headed for the starting line of the 2010 Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.


Everyone on this school bus shuttle was a competitor. They were all nervous and contemplating what they were about to do.  We talked about what we registered for, our sport watches, & recent aches and pains. One runner said he stubbed hi big toe badly recently. It was black and blue, but the Doctor gave him clearance to run, so he was going for the half.


Then, we arrived. We were at the staging area for the start line at the Seattle RnR 2010 race! We found ourselves a city block away from an industrial park in Tukwila, Washington. We followed the other runners over.  The next hour was spent just looking.  There was water, fruit, bagels and Cytomax. There were several UPS trucks at the gear station. There were also a whole heck of a lot of porta potties. No lines when we arrived, but long, long lines as the start time approached.


We checked out the corrals at the start line.  A corral is an assigned starting position based on the finish time that you gave yourself at registration. I had Corral 27. Tom was assigned to Corral 22.  In total, there were 39 Corrals. At the back of the line was the silver car that denoted the end of the competition. It was the car that would run the course at the very end of the assigned time closing the course.


As zero time approached, we went to our corrals. Tom and I had talked about it time and time again, but we went over it again. Start out slow. When you think you are slow enough, slow it down a little bit more.  The start is a good time to conserve energy that you’ll need toward the end.  Tom’s brother, Don, had called the day before and reminded us both of that. In January, Don completed his first marathon at the Phoenix RnR! It was advice based on his own real experience.


I entered corral 27 and looked about.  There was a younger man standing close by.  I saw that he had a yellow bib.  The yellow bib was the full marathon color. He told me that this was his first marathon and that it was a “Bucket list” item. I told him that it was my second attempt at a marathon completion.


7:00 AM was approaching quickly by now.  We had the privilege of having John Bingham (waddle on, penguin) as the announcer!  I looked about again and Pat had moved on. The line grew quiet as the national anthem was sung. The countdown to the start of the race commenced and this competition was on!


To a runner this is a special period of time. I contemplated the task that I had taken on. I thought about the weeks of training that I had completed. You could hear the nervous contemplation as corral after corral was started. As my corral got closer and closer to the start line, my nervousness grew and grew. Tom’s corral 22 started their run 34 minutes after the start gun. My corral started 43 minutes after the gun.


We got our “Go” and I started to run. Before I had run far, Pat was at my side. He told me that he’d like to run with me if he could. Well, misery loves company and so do marathoners!  We ran the entire course together.  We discussed a lot about running and Pat shared his knowledge of the area with me. We made a great team.


We ran at a pace of about 12 minute miles. The first half was very scenic. We ran through industrial areas, nice neighborhoods, parks, and along the shore of Lake Washington. We contemplated the floating bridge as we approached it. Then we converged on the first split point. Full marathon runners were to run to the right, half marathoners to the left. As Pat and I moved over, the half runners cheered us on! We returned the favor. We were on the floating bridge and headed across Lake Washington soon after. 


There weren’t many hills to this point. If there were, it didn’t matter as we were still fresh. The floating bridge did have a ramp down and into the bridge, and up again at the other end. As it was an out-and-back at this point, so we had it to do again. There was a slight breeze that cooled us off under those cloudy skies.  Pat found some friends headed back across the bridge, and I saw Tom. We stopped and caught up but you don’t finish until you run, so on we went.


After the floating bridge we entered our first tunnel. It wasn’t very long and we were back out and into the light.  They had split the courses after the floating bridge. We ran on one side of the road and the halvers on the other.  We passed the 12 miles mark and then came up on the 13.1 (halfway) mark. I looked at the Halvers and told ‘em that we had completed 13.1! Then I said that it was OK, though, as we had the same distance to go!


We were in the sports area of Seattle. I remember Safeco and Qwest Fields.  Soon, the Halvers would again split and head for their finish line.  We were at one cross walk watching as some Halvers who had finished were crossing the course. I stopped one young lady asking to see her medal.  It looked great! I commended her. She saw my bib and commented on my being a marathon runner. I told her not to worry as Pat and I were on our way to a finish. We took off again.


Seattle downtown was a fun part of the run. We ran down some steeps headed toward the water front. We headed toward the Alaskan Viaduct. At the split, we marathon runners headed North as the Halvers headed for their finish line. We wished them luck and ran on the middle level of the viaduct.


 The viaduct was not too bad headed North. We were covered and cool as we headed toward the tunnel.


At this marathon, there were medical people with red shirts on bicycles. They were observant and everywhere. Tom told me that one was behind him and commented that his shoulders were too tight.  He loosened them up and felt better.  He did say that he had to turn around and comment that she was just making him nervous after a while.  She smiled and moved on.


The tunnel was interesting. Noise echoed the entire length. I took the opportunity here to take a couple of electrolyte supplements. There was a DJ spinning disks near the end that had music on way too loud.  Hurt the ears.


Pat sure enjoys his music!  At every band and chance to dance, he did.  The bands picked up on that. It was enjoyable all the way around.  This was a Rock and Roll event and there were bands all the way along the course.


We came out of the tunnel into faded sunshine. It felt good to have some warmth. This was at mile 16. The course had been slowly gaining elevation.  It would continue to gain all the way to the Aurora bridge.


We crossed the bridge and got a break from the climb.  I knew that we were on a bridge but my concentration was on our endeavor. I wanted to get the view but I also wanted to achieve the end. To conserve energy, we ran right down the middle and not the edge. So…  No view. On the other side, it was a few blocks to another turn around point. We were headed South again.


Mile 19 was just past the South end of the bridge.  We started the run and I felt cramping in my lower legs.  I reached for my coin purse with the electrolytes. It was not there! I must have dropped it in the tunnel.  Shades of Chicago! What was I going to do. Pat agreed to walk for a while (What a great guy)! As we passed the next water station, there were salt packets (the kind you get at fast food joints). We both downed one. I grabbed some extra packs. We washed it down with bot water and Cytomax. Now it was time to see if it would work.


It was after the water station that I decided to down another salt pack. Pat did one, too.  It left the nasty taste of salt in the mouth until the next water station.  BUT…  The cramps were easing up.  Soon, we were alternating running and walking.  We passed the 20 mile mark.  Pat and I were on the final 6.2!  This was a doable competition now!


Water on the North side of the Viaduct came from hose water and tasted like it.  No way around it, I suppose, but it was noticeable.


We entered the Viaduct tunnel headed South. It was about the same length as the other side but much quieter.  We exited the other side into some bold sunshine. Didn’t matter, though. We were nearing the end.  We were on the upper level of the Viaduct now.

Miles 21 and 22 passed.  Running, walking, running, walking…  Nice and level at this point.  We kept on going.


Mile 23 passed.  I thought that I was running long.  After all, the race was a 7:00 hour maximum.  I knew that Pat and I would make it, though. Up ahead, the viaduct was ending.  It appeared to be a ramp headed down. What lies ahead now?


We neared it and watched as others ahead of us were reaching another ramp leading down to the finish line.


Expecting some relief, we saw that at the bottom of the ramp the course continued (and continued and continued).  We could see the turn around, but it was a ways up there. At the bottom of the ramp was the 25 mile marker for those closer to the finish line. I wouldn’t be long now! W e ran and we walked.  It took a long time (seemingly) but we reached the 24 mile marker a little before the turn-around. There was a Med station there.  Behind that there were two “Vulture” buses. It was their job to take those who couldn’t finish to the final staging area.


Pat and I bolstered each other up and kept going.  We ran toward the 25 mile marker. The ramp after the marker was steep. We decided to walk it. At the top, we started to run again. It felt good to know that the finish was so near. We were going to finish!


Soon, we were at the final downhill ramp.  We passed the 26 mile marker on level ground.  There was a left turn and then another left turn and we could see the finish line. Pat and I looked at each other. We made it! He was kind enough to let me go ahead. I dropped my glove and got Penelope The Cat out. She went into my right hand for the finish line.


I heard my name being yelled. I turned to the right and there was Manager John and GAG Char cheering us to the finish line.  My arms went up and I smiled. I crossed the finish line! Marathon number 2 is in the bag!


Pat and I shook hands, hugged and congratulated each other. Tom was there waiting for me.  We congratulated each other on a marathon completion. Tom had come back to get a picture of both of us at the finish. What a guy!


My medal record goes on!  I waited for a young lady handing out medals to place mine over my neck. She put her hand out but I asked for my usual hug. She agreed!


We got water, granola bars and fruit. We left the finishers chute. Poor John and Char.  Here was a sweaty, large guy that just finished a marathon refusing their out stretched hands for a full body hug!


Unfortunately, Clint and Susan missed my finish again.  They met us soon after.  I don’t like to think this now but I might have to run another so they can see me finish one!


It was great weather and a great personal achievement.  I did feel a disappointment as I saw the finish clock was at 06:31…  I missed my PR I was trying for.  It wasn’t until several hours that I found out that it took me 43 minutes to pass the start line.  SO…  I DID PR! My new Personal Record was 15 minutes and 39 seconds better than my first.


As we were leaving the area to get the car, a familiar face came out of a restaurant. Pat!! He said that he was telling his family of our experiences together when he saw me!  Coincidence?  Who knows…  Pat was a great guy to run with and it made this race a great experience! Thank you so much, Pat!


Oh, yeah…  Tom…  My friend, Tom, did a great thing.  One of the Team-In-Training people was having a hard time at the 19 mile mark. Tom saw her and talked to her. He recognized that she had the spirit but could use some help. She felt exhausted and was contemplating dropping out. He offered her some of his energy gel, some encouraging words and an endurolyte or two.  He stayed with her until the end.  That made the marathon experience even better when 2 runners can assist each other to make it work.  Congratulations to both Tom and Elizabeth for your spectacular finish together!


Seattle RnR Medal

Overall, a great day for everyone involved!

written by Charlie

Memorial Day Weekend -From the top of Independence Pass!

A panorama of the mountains East of Independence Pass in Colorado (near Aspen).

Fast Spring water run off in an interesting canyon.

Beautiful scenery on the Independence Pass highway.

Notice the high water from Spring run off.

Running -

Wow! Training for a marathon consumes time and miles.  It is a healthy procedure, but it can be a trial.  In training for the Seattle Rock and Roll marathon and then running it, I will have logged 626 miles.  I don’t know about you, but I am amazed by it!

I will be running with Tom.  I’ve known Tom since elementray school. Tom is the inspiration for this marathon run.  He wanted to train for and accomplish a marathon run.  I support my friend and agreed to the training!

I will also be running with another partner!  Her name is .  This girl is a class act and a world traveller.  She is going on the marathon run with me.  You can find out more about this interesting phenomenon .  A Picture?  Sure…

PTC Trains


My runs -

So far this week, 3 runs @ 13.13 miles and a pace of 10:17.

June of 2010 – 12 runs @ 84.63 miles and a pace of 11:11.

2010 overall – 124 runs @ 124 miles and a pace of 10:24.

As of today, I have 20 training miles to go and 10 days to the event!

Saturday is my last ‘long run.’ It will be 8 miles. I really never thought that I would say this, but 8 miles is a breeze or a walk in the park!  I’ll have to get out early as it is supposed to get hot in Denver, but it should not take long and I am looking forward to it!

Seattle -

I have a brother.  Clint and Susan live in Bothell, just North of Seattle.  They are providing our home base for the weekend.  Tom and I will fly out on Thursday, June 24th and returning on Tuesday, June 29th.

Thursday, will be a travel day.  We will also meet some people and get to the Expo for the event.  It is a rest day on our schedule. 

Friday will be mostly a vacation day.  We will do a short run in the morning. Then, we hope to do some driving to see some local sights and some car touring.  Dinner at Maggianos, then back to prepare for a marathon run and get as much rest as possible.

Saturday is our race day.  We hope to catch a shuttle to the start line by 5:30 AM at the Westin Hotel north of Seattle City Center. Clint retired from the navy and has access to parking at place the rest of us might not have. Of course, I will blog about the race with a race report soon after!

Sunday is a recovery day.  But are we planning recovery activities? Nah!  We’ll be tourists again!  We’ll start with a breakfast at the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Duck Tour , then wandering about seeing the market, the piers, and other things in the area.  I hope we’ll be up to it!

Monday is another exciting day!  We will be catching the Victoria Clipper at 8:30 AM and heading for Canada!  We will be meeting John and Charlene and Firefighter Cindy and Mother Superior!  We’ll all meet up in Victoria, BC after the clipper ride.  We’ll come back via the 5:30 PM clipper.  It should be a wild and exciting time.

Tuesday will come all too soon and we will head for home!  We’ll have a short flight to Phoenix then a long wait for the flight back to Denver.

It should be a great weekend and we are really looking forward to it.

I really want to thank Clint and Susan for their willingness to put up with us for the long weekend!

Humor –

You know you’re a runner when…


written by Charlie

You know, getting up at 4:00 AM is never fun, especially if you work the swing shift. That time came awfully early. I actually woke up before the alarm (a misnomer as I did not set the alarm).


The Expo -


But, I’m getting ahead of the game.  Like most larger venues, you have to pick up the race packet early. I’m not sure why that is, but I have my suspicions that it assists in raising anticipation and suspense in the runner. It may save the event’s coordinators by not having additional staff, it may assist by providing more focus toward the run, it may be for any reason. I have my suspicions, though.


So we (my good friend Tom and I) headed down to Denver’s City Park and the beautiful pavilion building that the Expo was being held at on Saturday morning. We were both going to run the half-marathon.  The sun was out, it was warm, but the sky was partly cloudy.

Expo View


The packet pickup booths were outside and clearly marked. You gave your name to a technician at the greeter’s booth, and received a small print out with your event and number. Using that, you went to the appropriate booth and got your packet. Inside the packet, was a Cardboard timing chip for the shoe, some coupons, and the bib number. My bib number was 5108.


The names on the half-marathon bib numbers all seemed to be incorrect. I had the name, “Roger,” on mine. No explanation was given except that a mistake had been made. 



Having completed the first part of the maze, we went to the BEER booth to show our ID and get a bracelet (to be worn on the right wrist for the next 24 hours – It saves you from having to carry your ID to the beer garden after the finish). We went from there to see what was offered in the Expo merchandise.


We weaved through all kinds of merchant’s booths. Great prices and discounts were offered.  There were all kinds of booths.  I got a pair of cheap running socks for the Boulder Running Company, and I stole a pair of Mizuno Nirvana 6 shoes from Runner’s Roost.  They offer a 60 day return policy on shoes they sell.  These were returned shoes.  I examined them closely after I tried them on.  At $50 for the pair, I gladly bought them.  I’ll add them to my runs after the first of June, and they will probably be the shoes that I’ll run the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon in on June 26th. Tom got a pair of Nike Lunar Elite+ for the same price.


We got our shirts at the shirt booth. Nice shirts this year. Performance shirt, white with a great design on them. As we left the Expo, the timing chip was tested. Both passed and we were on our way out. We  smoothed with some other runners and petted some dogs outside.  Then it was time to head out for the rest of our Saturday.


I performed the usual evening before ritual of preparation.  Shoes (with the chip on it), socks, shorts, shirt (with the bib number mounted), headband, sunglasses, phone charging, water belt (sans water), iPod, coin purse with Hammer Endurolytes, and charged the Garmin 205 Sports Watch. I felt to be prepared.  There is comfort in my pre-race ritual.


The Race -


4:00 AM did come early.  One cup of coffee. I immediately ate a bowl of oatmeal. Dressed, and double-checked that I was ready then out the door by 5:00 AM.  There was a race today!


The plan was to go to Colorado Boulevard then North to City Park. The streets weren’t supposed to be closed until 5:30 AM.  By the time we got to Colorado and Colfax, Colorado had been closed.  We had to do some uncertain turns and twists, but we did get there!


It was announced that there were 750 full marathon runners and 7,000 or more of us running the half. Quite the turnout this year.


There was parking available still, and we got as close as we could in the East side parking at the Denver Zoo. A short walk and we were at the start line in plenty of time.  The full marathon runners were in the chute and in their corrals.  We watched as the timer counted down and then the marathoners were off!


In another 45 minutes, we would be starting our 13.1 mile run.


It was a cool morning with a slight breeze.  I tend to take a cheap throw to keep warm with.  I wore it until the start of the race, then threw it over the fence as a throw-away.  I knew that it could be used by someone.  These throw away items are collected and given to charity.


The chute for the starting line was short. It just could not fit all of the runners.  When the starting countdown was done and we were off, there were runners everywhere.  Not only from the chute but from the waiting/spectator area to the South.


I had visited the porta-potty before the race but the moment we had the start, I had to visit one again. Why does that happen?  The first available were about 2 miles into the race. I joined a fair-sized line and it took about 12 minutes to get to one.  When you have no choice, though, what do you do?


The race started with a run through City Park (literally). We ran from the park and down City Park Esplanade to Colfax, then East on Colfax.  We ran into the rising sun as we progressed down East Colfax toward the Fitzsimmon’s Medical Center.  Water stations were every 2 miles or so.  Gatorade and water were offiered. Mile markers were marked by huge stickers on the street with sandwich boards on the sidewalks. At strategic points there was a “Gun Time” clock.


There was a slight elevation on the run to the 7 mile.  Total ascent/descent was 150 feet.  Slight for the first couple of noticeable rises, but I really felt the rise from the 5 mile mark to the 7 mile mark. From there we turned the corner to run through the Fitzsimmon’s Medical Center to 17th Street and the return run to City Park.  As I turned onto 17th, I noticed a younger man running my pace. I stayed behind him, but used him as my pacer.


It was easier running 17th Street.  The sun was at my back and it was a run through a neighborhood.  Time seemed to fly as the run progressed.  The miles ticked on by. Around mile 8, I finally caught up to and ran beside my pacer.  I told him that I had been using him as my pacer, so we might as well run together.  He was surprised that he was someone’s pacer, but agreed to run in together.


It made for a nice run for the last few miles.  We talked, and introduced ourselves. Ron was running this race for the 3rd time. His wife was supposed to run it with him but did not feel she had trained enough. He had anticipated a 12 minute pace, but he was doing much better.  We got into a rhythm at a better pace than either of us anticipated.  So, it was a good match for a finish.


All too soon, we crossed Colorado Boulevard again and we entered the park. The end of the race was at hand now.  We maintained the pace until the finish line was in sight.  I kicked it up a touch to cross the line.  On the way, I was passed by two runners and I passed two.


I slowed down after crossing the timing mats, waited just a moment for Ron, then shook his hand and thanked him for the finish!


I moved on as Ron went for that finisher kiss and hug from his wife over the fence.


I grabbed a cold bottle of water.  I saw the medal handlers and headed for mine.  I asked the young lady that placed my medal over my head if I could have a hug. She said sure, and my tradition of a hug continued!



I walked the gauntlet from the finish line through the pavilion.  On the way and inside, it was the pickup of the Goody bag, energy drinks, sport beans, teas, and then your choice of a pulled pork BBQ sandwich or a chicken taco.   Tom finished long before me, so I met him outside. 


Before I got into the pavilion, I got a text message from Kristen.  I was hoping to meet her as we both run and tweet.  We’ve been exchanging tweets for 2 years or so.  After I had my sandwich, Tom and I headed over to the Beer Garden.  We met Kristen and drank some beer.  Fun times!


I love the half-marathon distance.  It is my favorite race to run.  If you get a chance, try it out.  It improves your health and opens doors to other people engaged in the same like of running that others have. Plus, the bib and the medal make for an additional pleasure that you can hold and appreciate.


It was a great race and a wonderful was to spend an athletic Sunday morning!


The Humor -


“Remember, the second most important thing to choosing the right shoe, is choosing the left one.”
– A high school coach to his runners

written by Charlie

Just a quick update…



In 2010, I have run 100 runs as of today!  My run today was 8.08 miles. I have run 552 miles so far this year.  I am putting on the miles training for the Seattle Rock and Roll marathon on June 26.  I will be running the full marathon with my friend, Tom.  Tom wanted to try a full marathon and I decided to run along as support for a curious friend!

Some weekends are a trial, some are not.  I ran a 5K last weekend with a friend.  Jeff had been training for the 5K for a while.  It was a great morning and a fun community race.  Jeff did great! He ran a wonderful race and faster than he thought he would.  He even placed 2nd in his age group!  Congratulations, Jeff!

Now, I ran the 5K, then I ran from the event to my house, then finished my scheduled 18 miles on the ol’ treadmill! Now that is an event!

What does it all mean?  Basically, that I will be so happy when the marathon run has been completed!  AND…  That there will be an update next week!


Home Theatre PC News…

Lenovo wifi keyboard mouse

This is the new wireless keyboard/mouse combination that I am using with the HTPC system.  It saves a lot of space in the livingroom.  It replaced a full size wireless keyboard and mouse.  This thing is amazingly small and very usable!  It is offered by Lenova.

If you didn’t know, we do not have a TV service at the house anymore.  We do use Netflix at the base rate of $9 per month. We also use off-the-air television broadcasts (HD) through Sage TV software.  A lot of our watching is video on demand from internet sources.

I am very satisfied with what we are receiving and using.  PLUS, the savings are huge!



Are you training for an event?  Ever feel like this guy?

A customer in a bakery was observed carefully examining all the rich-looking pastries displayed on trays in the glass cases. When a clerk approached him and asked, “What would you like?” he answered, “I’d like that chocolate-covered, cream-filled doughnut, that jelly-filled doughnut and that cheese Danish.”
Then with a sigh he added, “But I’ll take an oat-bran muffin.”

written by Charlie

Just got home from Moab, Utah.  It is an annual thing with an internet group.  These guys are some of the very best people I know or have met!

We had a lot of fun.


I drove “The Mighty YJ” to Moab with my friend, Tom.  The first day was Friday, April 16.  It was devoted to the 6 1/2 hour drive, getting some food, checking in to the cabin (Morris Last Resort – Try ‘em!) and then meeting the rest of the group for dinner!  Everyone knew Molly (the Aussie) and knew that she died soon after last Year’s Get Together.  Everyone met Sami, the new trail dog!


We had a great meal at Fiesta Mexicana on Main street.  We agreed to meet at 8:30 AM Saturday morning to run the “Cliffhanger” trail.


Tom and I are training for the Seattle Marathon on June 26th.  Marathon training requires some running.  So, Tom, Sami, and I headed out for a 4+ something run from the cabin and then back.

Showers, then off to the “City Market” in town for the meet up.

Most of us were there on time.  Some of the Colorado Contingent were running late and wanted to meet us at the trail head. 

Cliffhanger is a great, but technical trail.  Take the Kane Creek Road (by the McDonald’s) out to the trail head (Cliffhanger is associated with the Amasa Back trail system).

Cliffhanger is tough!  It starts out with some technical steps, then simmers out some, but there are a lot of technical areas out there that take time and make this a challenging trail.

Somehow, I became the “Spotter” for this run.  A Spotter is the individual that guides a driver over an obstacle.  I don’t feel really comfortable doing it, but I am told that I am good at it, so I did it.

TMYJ Cliffhanger

This is the Mighty YJ on the steps at the entry to Cliffhanger.

Here are a few members of the group!

Andy CHH C CFR A CFTerry Cliffhanger

Cliffhanger is a 9 1/2 mile out and back trail.  Along the way are some great scenic views. There are areas where the trail is just a bit wider than the jeeps are. 

CH ott 1CH ott 2

2/3 of the way in, you find this obstacle.  Easy to negotiate, but the driver can’t see a thing except blue sky out of the windshield.  When she or he can, the news ain’t good.  Keep your rig all the way over to the passenger side, take it slow, and you’ll be OK.

Just between you and me, I ran ahead of the group to photograph this for the group (but mostly for me).  I actually slipped on one of the rocks to the driver side, then fell off it to the cliff side.  I did stop my slide, but there were Mountain Bikers that were ready to step in and catch me before I went over.

TMYJ CliffGroup Cliff

At the furthest point out, we took a break for lunch.  You find yourself out on the edge of a cliff that makes for great conversation and lots of getting nervous at people going near the edge!

End View

This one of my favorite running trails.  I had the togs on and after lunch as everyone else was packing up for the return trip, I took off for a run down the trail. I had a bottle of water and the iPod Touch and had a great time!

This trail is popular with everyone and all of us tend to keep an eye on each other.  I was well on my way when two of the mountain biking people stopped me concerned.  “Where’d you start from?” “Did you stash water somewhere?”  “Will you be OK?”

I explained that I was actually with a Jeep group and they were close behind me.  They accepted that and I moved on after thanking them.  I thought that there concern was nice.

By the way, I passed another contingent of jeeps, a contingent of PowerWagons, and another group of two Jeeps.

At the bottom, again at the steps at the entrance, I waited a few minutes then headed back up to meet the group again 1 mile back up.  Phew!  Tiring but fun!  It is good to be able to do that kind of running!

Stay tuned for more!   

PUNishment -

From the BearCrawling Nation!

The latest PUNishment!



written by Charlie

The Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon is officially sold out.

That’s OK, though, as I am in!  Tom, my best friend, is also registered for the full marathon!  I also hope to meet my friend, Lizzie Lee!

Are you going to run the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon?  Let me know!  Let’s have a Tweet UP!  I am @cewtwo on Twitter!  My Facebook page is at


I have worked on my speed since January.  I don’t train well outside, but I do train well on the treadmill.

In March, I ran 26 runs for a distance of 121.9 miles at a pace of 9:05.

In February, I ran 20 runs for distance of 106.5 miles at a pace of 9:44.

In January, I ran 21 times for a distance of 105.4 miles at a pace of 11:49.

The overall for 2010 is 67 runs for a distance 333.8 miles at an average pace of 10:09.

So, there is measurable improvement for me!


Why The Title?

I want to get my treadmill time down to a regular 9 minute mile.  I am almost there or very close to it.  My figuring is, based on very little research, is that time will translate to a 10:00 minute mile outside.

My best 5K time in a race is 27:15.  Since January, I have run a 27:10 5K and today I ran a 26:58 5K (Both were in March).  As a barometer to my training, I think that is a great thing for me.

But then…  Who knows?  Do let me know what you think!





written by Charlie



Last week, I ran 6 runs.  That was a distance of 28.11 miles at a pace of 9:08.


For the month of March, I ran 18 miles.  That was for a distance of 83.3 miles at a pace of 9:06.


For 2010, I’ve run 59 miles. That was for a distance of 295.2 miles and a pace of 10:18.


That brings me into my discussion this time around.



My Training -


I have been working on my pace time.  Lately, although I have been running, I have been running casually.  I ran the Vegas Rock and Roll Half Marathon on December 6th – I finished in 2:36:12 making my pace 11:39. I ran the PF Chang’s Phoenix Rock and Roll Half Marathon in 2:38:12 making my pace for that event 12:05. When I ran my Marathon in Las Vegas in 2008, I ran it in 6:04:22 making my pace for that race 13:54.


In past races, I have done better – My first 5K was run at 27:15 or an 8:46 pace.  My best half marathon time is 2:20:41 with a pace of 10:45.


I have gained weight back I am now at 230 or so.  Yes.  I am working at that actively. Two months ago, I weighed 241 at the Doctor’s office.


What does that mean? I know that I can run a half-marathon (or a Pikermi as it is becoming known – Google Pikermi) in under 11 minutes per mile.  That has been my project for a future marathon. 


I have been training on the treadmill.  I was not inspired to run outside, but I tend to train very well on the treadmill.  I have been pushing the pace and the elevation since I got the treadmill repaired.  This is a graph from Buckeye Outdoors –

Pace Graph 03222010

Can you tell when the treadmill was finally repaired?  Yes, I have been working on it.


The plan?  I am hoping to head outside soon as the weather is finally becoming spring-like. Last Saturday?  8 inches of new snow.  Nope!  Not yet!





I have a few scheduled for the rest of the year.  They are:


South Suburban Parks and Recreation Highline Canal Fun Run 5K on May 8th.


Kaiser-Permanente Colfax Marathon on May 16th.


Seattle Rock n Roll Full Marathon on June 26th.


Will I see you at any of them?

written by Charlie

Running -

As you know, I am in training for another marathon. I feel to be in good shape and I am feeling healthy.

I’ve just started the training.  I am in week 4 that just happens to be a bi- week.  So far my training has had me run 88.92 miles.  I will be doing most of my training on the treadmill (as I prefer it).  I am attempting to get my pace on the treadmill to just under a 9:00 minute pace.  I figure that should get me a marathon pace of around an 11:00 pace.

Marathon of Choice?  Seattle Rock and Roll on June 26th!

Why one of the Rock and Roll?  Bling!


Around my neck are 3 medals.  One is for the Vegas RnR half, run in December of 2009. One is for the PF Chang’s Half, run in January of 2010.  The third is a customer appreciation medal for running the both of the half-marathons.  Called the “Desert Double Down” it is a nice thing to get for just running.

Next race?  Probably the Colfax Marathon (Half) in Denver!


Life, Entertainment, and What I did About it! -

Television entertainment can cost a lot of money.  I was a DirectTV customer for over a decade.  I liked and appreciated their service for a long time, but recently I haven’t liked them.  They are expensive, but are willing to drop the price if you call and complain.  The latest price hike was 9%. That would have placed my monthly bill at about $80.  I called to complain and was offered $200 off for 2010. It would have required a new commitment.  I didn’t want that so I cancelled their service.

I had to think about it first.  I looked at what I actually watched on their service.  I used their HD service. I watched mostly local TV channels. I did watch a lot of BBC America, some ScyFy channel, some History, and some Discovery channels. I had their program guide and DVR service and used it.  That was it.

About a year (or so) ago, I shared a build on a HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer).  If I was going to get a program guide, HD and a DVR/PVR, I’d have to look at it again.

The HTPC was in an entertainment center type of case.  It blended in well with the other components of the entertainment center.  But to do an up grade, I would need to find additional or replacement cards in a low profile assembly.

I started out with just adding an additional gigabyte of system memory. I added 1GB of DDR2–667.  That brought the system up to 2 GB. I’d have liked more, but it is an HTPC system without the demands of a gaming system.  I also added an outside UHF TV antenna for digital TV broadcasts off of the air.

The basic build was a micro ATX motherboard (MSI K9VGM-V) with an AMD Athlon 3800+ Dual-core CPU in an Antec Minuet case.  The graphics card was a Nvidia 9400GT. I couldn’t use the old tuner card as it is not a low profile.  So, I added a Hauppage USB 950Q tuner card, and an ATI TV Wonder PCIe (1x) card. Those would bring in HD off of the HD TV antenna.

I used the SageTV software that I already had.  That provided a DVR/PVR and a program guide. It also provided a media server for music and household videos, and access to some online media sharing websites (YouTube, Google Videos and the like).  It also provided new HD content from other online providers.

I had Mozilla Firefox on board to provide yet more services, such as, and the like.  I would use the household 7mbps DSL service to access the Internet with.

I assembled the revised system.  It worked!  I could record TV shows and even translate them into portable player modes, so it could be taken with.  It looked and ran like a provided service. I thought I had everything I needed.

Practical use proved otherwise, though.  The video/graphics card could not keep up with the signal.  I needed a new video/graphic card.

More research was necessary.  I wanted to make this change with the least amount of hassle possible.  HD video is not as demanding as gaming, but it would need more than I was giving it.

Most SD (Standard Definition) video is easily viewed using a 256MB card.  Win Media HD (High Definition) requires 512MB card. Those are the 2 basic standards that had to be met.  I also wanted to use an HDMI connection with 7.1 surround sound audio pass through.  Further research showed that the ATI graphic system chips are being used in Samsung TV systems.  I had an AMD CPU, an ATI tuner, and a Samsung LCD TV.  It made sense to go with an ATI graphic card. So, off to the store!

I explained what I wanted to a sales representative in the “peripheral” section.  I bought an HIS HD 4350 PCIe 16x DDR2 512MB graphic card with everything I wanted except the amount of GPU memory that I wanted

I got it home, put it in the machine, and turned the HTPC on!  Amazing, colorful HD video ensued!  I had a system that does exactly what I want it to!

A definite plus is that I rebuilt the HTPC with the updates at less than I would pay in a normal month for the satellite system that I dropped.  All input was free and working great at this point.

The splurge!  I have to admit that I did get the Netflix streaming video service at the lowest rate it was offered at.  I don’t necessarily want the DVD sent by mail, but the option is there.  The streaming service is amazing on the revised HTPC!

The only trouble is…  There is often times that there is just nothing on TV to watch!  (But that was always true!)

 How About Some “OK GO” Fun Now?


written by Charlie

Marathon Training Schedule Color 01312010

Working toward the Seattle Rock and Roll full marathon!  June 26, 2010.

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