The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

A side benefit of moving

Can you tell when I moved from a first-floor walkup apartment into a 3½–story townhouse?

I figure, Cassie has about 7 years of climbing stairs in her. We're both going to have much stronger legs (though only one of us needs them).

Where to go in cooler weather

Go hiking!

It’s not “purple mountains majesty” for hiking, Jason King knows, but Illinois, Indiana and southern Wisconsin, are not without charm — they’re free, they’re close, their trails are uncongested and they offer a solace and beauty all their own.

“I love Illinois, I’ve lived here all my life. If you like simplicity, if you like the feel of the wind blowing through the trees … there’s no place better,” King said.

One of King’s favorite solo hikes to “get the world behind me” is about 90 minutes away from Chicago near Gary, Indiana, in the little-used western part of Indiana Dunes National Park. The Paul H. Douglas center is currently closed but the namesake trail (1) winds through Miller Woods and across the Grand Calumet River. It was named after the Illinois senator who helped make the Dunes a national park. It’s a moderately challenging 3.5 miles out and back, partly through sand dunes — which make it a workout.

King identified 19 other trails near Chicago that reporter Zachary Nauth listed in the article. Maybe next weekend? Cassie would probably love all of them.

A 43% marathon?

As I feared, yesterday my body really did not want to walk a full 42.2 km marathon. In fact, around 14 km, I decided to turn around and get a beer:

I maintained a great pace, though: 8'54" per kilometer (14'24" per mile). But wow, it was exhausting:

I sense a nap in my future...

Friday's hike (and pubs)

I started Friday by having lunch with a colleague in the picture-perfect Hare & Billet in Greenwich:

After lunch I hopped a Southeast service to Otford, Kent, where I embarked on the 6.5 km hike I mentioned Saturday morning. Otford looks like something out of a Brontë novel (either sister), surrounded by farms and walking paths. And sheep:

The village also sits in what I believe is a washout valley bisecting a long moraine known as the Kentish Downs. After a 75-meter climb, I got to this vista:

About 3 km of the walk looked like that. At the end of the ridge the trail sloped into the village of Shoreham, which made by brain hurt. I think I want to retire there:

I ended my journey at The Samuel Palmer, which opened in 2019 in a building continuously operated as a pub since the 15th century. Somehow, this village of 2,000 people supports three pubs, but I only stopped in this one. I might have to try all of them next time I visit the UK.

More photos later this week. Meanwhile, I've got to figure out a tricky security configuration and rehearse Mozart for the rest of the day.

Covid recovery, graphed

I've written often enough about wearing a fitness tracker, and I've been pretty happy with my Garmin Venu. The device has a feature called "body battery" which uses heart-rate variability and other measures to estimate how much energy you have. I've actually found it a reliable measure, in that when I check in on how I feel and then compare that to my body battery score, it seems right.

For instance, I would say this chart is a pretty decent proxy of how I've felt for the past week:

My symptoms hit Thursday night, were worst on Friday (I took a rapid test when I woke up Friday), but by this afternoon almost non-existent. In fact, I feel better today than I have in a while, 

I've found the body battery metric useful in other ways, too, mainly in timing activities and socializing. That Scotch right before bed, even if it's the only drink I have all day? There's a cost. I've also learned that as much as I enjoy traveling, being in a moving vehicle is draining.

I've got a stressful week coming up, followed by a couple of very-low-stress weeks. I'm interested to see how I manage my energy levels with this metric.

Lovely day for a walk (or two)

Cassie and I walked all the way to the Horner Park Dog-Friendly Area yesterday, taking advantage of the 19°C weather and forbearance of rain clouds. We went a little out of our way on the first walk, so I could get a look at what was left of Twisted Hippo Brewing:

Yikes. Still, only one person was injured in the fire, and he's expected to recover completely.

After a 48-minute walk, Cassie ran around like a puppy at the dog park for about 20 minutes:

The return walk took another 45 minutes, after which both dog and man took a nap.

Then this happened overnight:

Well, I mean, it's Chicago in March. We got lucky to have one warm day.

How many steps must a person take?

About 7,000 a day, though it won't hurt to do 10,000:

[T]wo studies, which, together, followed more than 10,000 men and women for decades, show that the right types and amounts of physical activity reduce the risk of premature death by as much as 70 percent.

But they also suggest that there can be an upper limit to the longevity benefits of being active, and pushing beyond that ceiling is unlikely to add years to our life spans and, in extreme cases, might be detrimental.

[A]t 10,000 steps, the benefits leveled off. “There was a point of diminishing returns,” said Amanda Paluch, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who led the new study. People taking more than 10,000 steps per day, even plenty more, rarely outlived those taking at least 7,000.

Both studies pinpoint the sweet spot for activity and longevity at somewhere around 7,000 to 8,000 daily steps or about 30 to 45 minutes of exercise most days. Doing more may marginally improve your odds of a long life, Dr. O’Keefe said, but not by much, and doing far more might, at some point, be counterproductive.

I get about 13,000 per day, in part because of Cassie. Which seems fine, according to the report. Note that neither study actually found a causal link between steps and health; the effects only appear related.

Bug report: Garmin Venu - Usability - High severity

Summary: When displaying a notification over a paused activity, swiping down will delete the paused activity instead of the notification, without an Undo feature.

SeverityHigh (accidental but irrevocable data loss)

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Take a PTO day to enjoy a 7-hour outdoor exercise.
  2. Start the exercise on the Garmin Venu device.
  3. Spend 82 minutes in the exercise.
  4. Press Button A on the Venu to pause the activity. The activity will show as Paused, with a Discard (X) indication on the top of the display and a Save (check) indication on the bottom.
  5. Have a friend innocently text you about a nonessential matter. A notification shows up on the Venu display.
  6. As you have done thousands of times before, swipe down to dismiss the notification. The activity is deleted, but the notification just stays there, mocking you.
  7. Stare at the device for a moment in stunned silence.
  8. Frantically swipe up on the device to try to undo the deletion. Nothing happens because there is no Undo feature for this action.
  9. (Omitted)
  10. (Omitted again, but this time with reference to the usability engineers at Garmin who apparently forgot the rule that inadvertent data loss must never happen.)
  11. (Omitted once more, but this time with reference to said engineers' standardized test scores, parentage, and general usefulness to humanity.)
  12. Begin drafting a strongly-worded bug report to share with the above-mentioned Garmin usability engineers.
  13. Spend the next five and a half hours trying to calculate split times without knowing for sure that the first activity was 82 minutes, not 75 or 90.

Device details: Garmin Venu, SW version 6.30, API version 3.2.6

Those PRs only lasted 364 days

I once again walked from Uptown to Lake Bluff, as planned. And I broke all kinds of personal records.

Unfortunately, I discovered a usability bug in Garmin's Venu software that led to me accidentally deleting the first 9.47 km of the walk. I re-started the trace after covering another 530 meters, so the official record starts at 10.0 km:

Add 10 km and 1:27:02 to that data and you get 43.55 km in 6:30:08. My marathon time (42.2 km) was 6:16:55, a 2½-minute improvement over last year. But my marathon course time (including all rests) was 6:50:43, a 20-minute improvement. I completed my second marathon walk on the McCrory Trail in Lake Bluff:

Unlike last year, though, I had to get Cassie to and from day camp. That added about 4,000 steps to the day, leading to a blowout total step count and total distance:

Speaking of Cassie, she decided to reward me for the walk in her own, adorable way:

I should point out that I kind of hurt right now.