The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Walking through the neighborhoods

I took a short walk today, from Central Street in Evanston to my house. Totals: 16.37 km, 2:25:29, 8'53" per km, 18,357 steps. It's not as far as my epic 28 km walk last June, but I'll probably do another walk that distance sometime later this year. I mean, why not a 32 km walk?

Right. Because my feet hurt.

So far today I'm just shy of 30,000 steps. So I'm not quite in the top 5—but I will be if I walk another thousand steps, which seems pretty likely:

2016 Jun 16 40,748
2016 Oct 23 36,105
2016 Sep 25 32,354
2016 Jun 8 32,315
2015 Apr 26 30,496
2016 Mar 8 29,775
So far today 29,445

And here's the meandering route I took:

DevMynd

I started a new role today as a Principal Consultant at DevMynd, a startup-y software development shop in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.

DevMynd logo

I'll have more information later this week. For now, I'm really excited to start here, especially as I'll be learning a couple of new languages. So watch this space for really bad Ruby code coming up.

The merry month of May

April seems to have gone quickly this year, but that could just be my advancing age. I'm hoping to have a little more inspiration this month to return to 40+ blog entries a month—i.e., the running average since November 2005. For the 12 months ending yesterday, my average (mean) has been 34.4 with a median of 35, just barely holding above 1.0 entries per day.

Of course, the total number of entries doesn't really matter if they're good. Deeply Trivial took part in last month's A-to-Z blogging challenge, and did a fantastic series on basic statistics that's worth reading. Her 26 entries (plus 5 bonus posts) provide almost a complete intro course in statistics. Start with X and then bounce back to A.

I'm also glad to see center-right commentator Andrew Sullivan back on the Internet, even if only once a week. His column from yesterday, "The Reactionary Temptation," is a must-read.

And, of course, Josh Marshall's frequent posts from the center-left will be vital in keeping tabs on the sub-surface wrigglings of the current administration.

May should see more activity on The Daily Parker for reasons I will get to later in the month. It's time to get writing again.

Morning articles

Things to read today:

And finally, the Chicago Tribune has an article on our concert this weekend, and composer Jeff Beal performing in it:

"I suppose it might have been DNA asserting itself," said Beal, who will be in Chicago May 5 and Evanston May 7 when the celebrated Apollo Chorus includes his "The Salvage Men" and "Poor in Spirit" as part of their 145th-season-ending spring concert, "American Masters," in Chicago and Evanston. "It's true that [my grandmother] passed on her love of improvisation, but there's also something almost eerily similar about what she did, watching a screen and creating her own musical accompaniment, and what I do in my day job."

[H]e had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. Though he took seven years to process the news before beginning to write "The Salvage Men" in 2014.

Serendipitously, that was about the time that Apollo Chorus music director Stephen Alltop, who studied with Beal at Eastman, got back in touch to praise Beal's work on" House of Cards" and suggest the possibility of doing a concert together. Which explains why Beal and his new choral works are appearing in Chicago directly after their debuts in London and Los Angeles. Beal also will perform solo trumpet over the comparatively simple text of his "Poor in Spirit," — it consists entirely of one repeated phrase from the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" — much as he often plays trumpet over the score of "House of Cards."

Tickets are available through the Apollo Chorus website. It's going to be an amazing concert.

The daily torture of hourly step goals

Fitbit has a feature that tells you if you've taken at least 250 steps per hour. You can set the start and end times—mine are 8am and 8pm—but you can't turn off the feature entirely.

This feature is driving me batty.

Most days I'm pretty vigilant. Take last week, for example. I got my 12-hour goal almost every day:

Those two hours last Thursday when I missed the goal bother me. But not as much as the 9am hour yesterday, repeated again today, during which I was engrossed in work, made a mental note at 9:45 that I needed to walk Parker, and looked up again at 10:02:

So. Frustrating.

Also notice that it keeps track of your longest time without taking any steps. Again, it's sometimes hard to get up and move because it breaks the flow of coding. All I need to do is just stand up and walk around the room every n minutes to bring the average down, and yet, it's really hard to remember to do that.

Meanwhile, I've hit my larger goal of hitting 10,000 steps per day on 28 of the last 30, and my 30-day moving average is over 15,000 right now. So I'm doing something right.

Spring is here

A combination of really nice weather, a shift in my project at work, and a loyal dog (who is now loyally pooped) has let me get some serious Fitbit steps recently:

That 7-day total is my best since I got a Fitbit in October 2014. The previous record was 129,249 set on June 16th last year—the day I walked 40,748 steps over 35.6 km.

Also on June 16th I set a 30-day total step count record of 507,849, which I'm unlikely to beat soon. As of yesterday, my current 30-day count is 435,763, so I've got a lot of steps to get to hit 508,000.

That said, today's steps might set a new 7-day record. I just need 19,300 for the day to do so. We'll see.