Saturday, July 26, 2014

I hate living in a desert.

It been desert-hot here, high 90s here on the Peninsula, and topping 100 in San Jose and the far East Bay. It is a dry heat, although I encourage anyone who thinks that's some sort of consolation to heat their oven up and then stick their head inside. It's true that we're not Arizona or anything, and maybe you have different expectations, but "at least the asphalt isn't melting in most places" doesn't really make me feel better.

Trees all over town are starting to get unhappy, and even ours, which we're watering, look like the sun is burning the leaves on top. The cherry plum gave up pretty early on fruiting, and the pluot has been trying but is yellowing. The peaches are good, but taste a little funky, and when they go bad, they do this bizarre rot-from-the-inside thing I don't remember from last year. Maybe just as well we didn't have the raised garden beds ready for the summer.

There's been incremental work on the house, starting with the tree guys coming and taking down five dead or extremely sick trees, and pruning our very large and overgrown Australian [not actually a] pine, and then dumping a couple huge piles of wood chips for us to cover the lawn with. We're putting in a proper fence, which will add some privacy and dampen both curb noise and the noise from the extremely boisterous recovering alcoholics across the street. I've been daydreaming about proper windows, but we haven't yet identified a window person. And Anna has gotten an itch about the bathrooms, which I find more daunting than she does, having watched several friends endure months-long bathroom renovations, a single bathroom often costing as much or more as remodeling the kitchen.

(We will someday also remodel the kitchen, but that's quite a bit down the list.)

Maybe it's time to finally install that screen door that's been sitting in the garage for a year...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quantified Chris.

Last month I bought a Jawbone UP24, a bracelet that collects data on your movements. It's part of the whole Quantified Self idea, which I've steadfastly ignored, but now the hardware and software have progressed to a point where I find it acceptably simple and unobtrusive. I actually bought it just because I read it would track your sleep (apparently through a sorcerous art called actigraphy), and that's worthwhile data to have, which I am far too lazy to write down myself. Instead I press the bracelet's button when I go to bed and when I wake up, and it figures out pretty well when I've fallen asleep, and I can look at the data in the iPhone app (and apparently download it from somewhere as well).

It also acts as a pedometer, which is vaguely interesting (on a recent overnight trip I walked 8 miles in the course of the day), but mostly I'm enjoying that the UP24 app integrates with a bunch of other apps. The ones I use are Strava, to record walking/running/cycling, and MyFitnessPal to record what I eat, so I can eat less and drop some weight.

The first thing I notice is that I don't eat as many calories as I thought I did. The app says that to lose 1 pound per week, I should eat 1,720 calories a day, which to my surprise requires just a bare minimum of austerity on my part. Then the 7-mile bike ride to work is about 375 calories one way (40 minutes or less), so with that or some other cycling on my shiny new bike that Anna made me buy, I'm not feeling deprived. I'm not sure I'm actually losing weight, either, but it's hard to tell since our trip to Cape Cod messed things up. We don't own a scale that can reliably measure a 1-pound difference, so I'm really looking at a sort of tendency over time.

There's no illuminating data about my sleep, except that when I have a few bad nights in a row, I often forget, and the app will both show me and occasionally alert me that I should sleep more. (No shit, Sherlock. Sleeping more hadn't occurred to me. Not their fault, really.) I still can't stretch my sleep out, nor do I have a lot of flexibility in the hours I'll sleep. Still, I'm functional and occasionally rested, so it's hard to complain too much.

Strava is a great app for tracking rides and runs and things, but it's really aimed at competitive people, like my friends who enjoy going out and riding up and down Mount Tamalpais twice in  day. That was about 4 hours; another guy with them did it 3 times, for a ride of over 7 hours.

Strava shows you where you are on various road segments compared to everyone else, which is how I know that on various stretches, people are going twice as fast as me. I've never quite understood the hypercompetitive thing. Super-competitive people often don't seem very happy.

Anyway. Fun toys.