Orange is my favorite color

I frequently describe my life as “trying to fit 10 gallons into a 5-gallon hat”. It’s a self-imposed problem due to my love of so many different interests (and perhaps a penchant for “being busy” that I’m trying to break). I recently added a newborn baby girl to the mix which means the structure and routine I relied on has been tossed out the window and I find myself needing new techniques to excel.

Caffeine

Introduce our good friend caffeine. It’s always good for a pick me up, especially when I’m feeling slow in the morning. I’m not a coffee drinker but traveling in India and Southeast Asia got me hooked on a good cup of tea. Chai is my preference, but not the sugary kind you would get out of a box at Starbucks. I have a milk frother at home that makes a nice latte-esque cup from black tea leaves and spices. Side note: if you want a no-sugar-added chai at a Starbucks, ask for a “Chai Tea Misto”. It’s chai tea bags with steamed milk priced like a tea so about half the cost of a chai latte. Half the Starbucks don’t know how to make it though, so be clear it’s not a latte.

As a Northern Californian going through a drought, I have separately been working to minimize my showers. My shower takes about 2 minutes to get hot water so we let it run into a 5-gallon bucket. Once it gets warm, I would jump in, get wet, turn the water off. Wash my hair, my body and then turn the water back on to rinse before getting out. As someone who loves long, hot showers, this is both soul-crushing and terribly efficient. Combined with better managing our sprinklers and more water-efficient washer/dryer, we cut our overall water usage by 35%.

Let’s weave these threads together. Busy life. Little sleep. Newborn baby. Water restrictions. How can I optimize my physical feeling each day?

Cold Showers

There’s a lot of research and/or hype about cold showers in the fitness world. They are claimed to help with fat loss and promote muscular recovery among other things. I am not a researcher and have no opinion on those. What I can tell you is that cold showers can wake up even the most sleep deprived new parent and kick start your day. Best part? The effect lasts for hours!

If you search for “cold shower challenge”, you’ll find lots of suggested protocols. I started with a regular hot shower and progressively added cold water finishes. Just for a few seconds. Then a few more seconds. Then a few more and so on until I worked up to half my shower under cold water. Here’s how I’m doing it now:

  1. Run a hot shower (into the bucket to save water which we use to water plants)
  2. Get in right as the water gets hot, scrub my face vigorously, quickly get wet (under 60 seconds)
  3. Turn water off, wash my hair and body
  4. Turn water back on to hot and begin to rinse
  5. Immediately move water to cold, as cold as you can without the shower turning off
  6. Try to remain calm as your body goes from 130F water to 60F water, finish rinsing off (another 60 seconds). Embrace the feeling.
  7. Exit the shower WIDE AWAKE

My mind is buzzing as I dry off and I walk into my home office with not so much a thought about needing a cup of chai.

My home is generally pretty cold so I used to stay in the shower for long periods of time to warm up my cold extremities. Now when I turn the cold water rinse off, the air temperature feels warm and I’m in no rush to dry off or put on clothes. If you’ve ever gone wakeboarding in a cold lake, it’s like how falling back into the water can feel great after the wind chill factor of being towed behind a boat at 20mph.

I still enjoy a good cup of chai because it’s delicious but I have found that using caffeine as a crutch has all but disappeared. And in a weird way, I now enjoy the feeling of shock as the cold water hits my head and the adrenaline starts running.

You can easily start with a 5-second cold finish. Move that to 10. Then 20. How about a minute? Try it out and tell me what happens below!

My apps use a variety of frameworks which offer a lot of rapid development and agility but they also come at the cost of slower startup times. For a Coldspring-based app with a large service layer, you could easily run into timeouts when initially loading the application. Here’s a simple function to temporarily extend the processing timeout during initialization using CFTHREAD and the Admin API:

<cffunction name="extendRequestTimeoutDuringInit" output="false" access="public" returntype="any">

  <cfthread action="run" name="delayRequestTimeoutDuringInit">
    <cfset thread.adminapi = createObject("component", "cfide.adminapi.administrator") />
    <cfset thread.adminapi.login('mysecretpassword') />
    <cfset thread.runtime = createObject("component", "cfide.adminapi.runtime") />
    <cfset thread.timeout = thread.runtime.getRuntimeProperty("TimeoutRequestTimeLimit") />
    <cflog file="application" text="Extending RequestTimeout to #2*thread.timeout# seconds" />
    <cfset thread.runtime.setRuntimeProperty("TimeoutRequestTimeLimit", 2*thread.timeout) />
    <cfset sleep(2 * thread.timeout * 1000) />
    <cfset thread.runtime.setRuntimeProperty("TimeoutRequestTimeLimit", thread.timeout) />
    <cflog file="application" text="Restored RequestTimeout to #thread.timeout# seconds" />
  </cfthread>

</cffunction>

I call this in Server.cfc when my instance starts up but you could also call it from any reinit routine in OnRequestStart or OnApplicationStart. Previously when we pushed code, the first user request would kick off the initialization process while other requests queued. Many of those first requests would exceed our page timeout setting of 60 seconds. Running the above function uses a background thread to double the timeout and later reset it once the application has initialized so users no longer see timeout/error screens.

Fitness and motorsport are two important parts of my life and a significant portion of my training is to improve my capability on a race weekend. I’ve read books, spent a weekend at the Porsche Human Performance center at Silverstone and built a gym in my garage. But one of the challenges for auto racing is that there are not many sport-specific exercises that can prepare you for the experience of actually driving. What do we need to deal with in the car?

  • High temperatures (made worse by wearing the equivalent of an oven mitt and helmet for safety)
  • Endurance stamina (30 minutes – 3 hours at a time)
  • High G-loads
  • Noxious fumes such as carbon monoxide
  • Sustained loud noise upwards of 100db
  • Awareness and “butt sensitivity” key to extracting maximum performance from car

Very few sports require the sustained concentration and focus (with life and wallet-threatening consequences) as motorsport but we can’t just do a hundred deadlifts, swim a mile or practice some yoga and call it good. All of those things would help but none of them alone will really prepare us to deal with the above. There are motorsport-specific trainers out there, Jim Leo’s PitFit in Indy probably amongst the best in the States, but most of us don’t live in Indy so what can we do?

Build Something!

Auto racing steering wheel exercise for motorsport fitness

I’m a small guy – 5′8″ and 140# – so strength is something I have to work at. Hours behind the wheel in a 25-hour endurance race with big sticky slicks could tire me out if I’m not in shape so I wanted a tool for my home gym. I have a one-car garage so it had to be modular and not take up a lot of space. I sketched a design that could attach to my Rogue Fitness half-rack and called my friend Tony Colicchio at TC Design Motorsports to make it a reality.

With a spare Mazda Miata steering column, a $25 “race wheel” from Ebay and a J-Cup from Rogue Fitness, Tony (who is also a big fitness junkie) built the perfect arm and shoulder exercise tool for replicating the experience behind the wheel. I can load it up with weight and do sets of turning the wheel left 90 degrees, holding for a count of 5, then turning right 90 degrees and repeating. When I’m done, it just hangs on the wall. You could achieve similar effects with just a plate weight but I find that this more closely taxes my arms and shoulders as when I’m racing. It also replicates the hand position required.

Auto racing steering wheel exercise for fitness

The old race seat is something I use with iRacing (another training tool) and is definitely overkill but there’s no question it puts me in precisely the right position. I frequently race a Mazda and have received a lot of support from Mazda Motorsports so the steering column is a subtle nod of thanks.

Check out another of my DIY projects: Racecar cool shirt system.

I’ve written a handful of times on observing and tuning the JVM using tools such as Jstat. I recently upgraded our servers to Java 8 and found that my Jstat script could no longer find the process no matter what I tried.

It turns out there is a bug from JDK 1.7 u75 onwards that is present at least through JDK 1.8 u60 which prevents Jstat, when run as root, from introspecting JREs running as other users.

To solve, simply run jstat as the user who owns the JRE process. You can pass the username to sudo when running jstat like:

sudo -u nobody jstat -gcutil -t <pid> 1s 30

And you’ll be treated to your output again. In my case, I have two server instances running so I like to see their output side by side at the console. Here’s my script for doing that using /usr/bin/paste and some console redirection trickery:

The username can be figured out from the process but this was a quick fix for the above bug.