The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

2016 in numbers

Welcome to another of my annual traditions: the stats dump.

In 2016:

  • Traveling was way, way down over previous years. I only visited one foreign country (the UK) and took only 15 flights all year. That amounted to only 42,588 km, not enough to re-qualify for Platinum status for the first time since 2008.
  • The Daily Parker had only 459 posts, down from 2015's 493, and the lowest since 2010. I was really, really busy this year. Posting suffered.
  • Parker got 211 hours of walks, up 62 from 2015. So he did not suffer as much as the blog.
  • Speaking of walks, I got 4,693,427 steps in 2016, beating 2015 by 29,266 steps—or 0.062%. That puts my 2016 daily average at 12,823.5, compared with 2015's 12,786.7. So, really, 37 steps a day. I think I can do better in 2017; we'll see. I still have yet to crack 50,000 steps in a day. Roll on spring.
  • I'm still not reading as much as I used to. I started 23 books in 2016 (up from 2015's 21) but finished 15. If you're keeping count, yes, I dropped some books I started, and still have a book from 2015 to finish. Again, I hope to do better in 2017.

So here we go. Another year. This one could kill us all. Certainly we're all going to be a lot poorer. But maybe I'll read more books, take more steps, and walk Parker more hours.

(See 2015 and 2014 for comparison.)

Rats

I spent an hour and a half this morning dealing with an engine failure light on my car. Since I just got it back from having a repair done yesterday, the warning light ("Engine malfunction! Get to a dealer!") did not make me happy.

It turned out, the repair had completed a job started on a sensor wire previously by...rodents. And apparently, I'm not alone:

NBC 5 Responds found consumers nationwide who say they’ve experienced rodent-damages wires in several carmaker brands. It’s a problem so widespread, carmaker Honda now sells a tape aimed at deterring rodents from nibbling on wires. The tape, which mechanics can wrap over existing wires, is infused with capsaicin, the ingredient in spicy peppers. Honda calls the issue “an age-old” problem, and the tape a good solution for customers who live in areas where rodents like to nest in vehicles.

My car's manufacturer doesn't use soy-based insulation like Toyota does. Instead, they use peanut oil lubricants, which are just as yummy to area vermin.

Since I discovered the damage right after the shop last touched the engine, they fixed the broken wire for free.

Backlog

I didn't spend a lot of time blogging this weekend. Once I have a chance to go through the photos I took in London, I'll post some. (Probably Thursday.)

The problem with being busy

It looks like I'm slowing down Daily Parker posts over the past year. Including this post, I've published 477 items in the past 12 calendar months, for an average of 39.75 per month or 1.3 per day. The long-term average is 40.2 per month or 1.33 per day. This means October 2016 is the first month since July 2011 in which the moving 12-month average dipped below the all-time average. Here's the chart:

I'm not sure why the count has dropped off, or why this month was especially slow, but there are some clues. This was the worst month for posting since November 2010, when I was finishing up my MBA. Other dips seem to have come around periods of being unusually busy. So, maybe I'm just busy.

We'll see what happens in the next few months. I expect the trend to stay around 40/1.33 for a while.

Lots of steps

A couple of milestones today.

First, just a couple of days before my 2-year anniversary with Fitbit, I've earned what they call the "Africa Badge:" I've walked 8,046 km since I joined, which is approximately the north-south length of Africa.

More interestingly, today is the 235th anniversary of Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown, an anniversary Alexander Hamilton may have been aware of when, 15 years later, he slyly accused Thomas Jefferson of having an affair with a slaves. The allegation was true, though few people reading Hamilton's editorial would have believed it, but it may have nudged the 1796 election to fellow Federalist John Adams.

Neither of these things has anything to do with me walking a lot in the last two years, of course.

Thanks, Google

I took the unusual step of driving to work this morning, and regret it profoundly:

The problem was that Google Maps said to turn from Lake Shore Drive onto Jackson. Unfortunately, Jackson and Balbo are closed because of Sunday's Marathon. So from the river down to Roosevelt, the Drive was a parking lot. (That bit took about 25 minutes.) With Roosevelt no help, I drove down to I-55 and then up State, and from there it was a quick half-hour to go the remaining 24 blocks to the office. Keep in mind, I've walked the equivalent of home to work in under 90 minutes.

Can my day get better?

Starting my day

I took a personal day yesterday to get my teeth cleaned (still no cavities, ever!) and to fork over a ton of cash to Parker's vet (five shots, three routine tests, heartworm pills, one biopsy, $843.49). That and other distractions made it a full personal day.

So as I start another work day with the half-day of stuff I planned to do yesterday right in front of me, I'm queuing up some articles again:

OK, my day is officially begun. To the mines!

Yesterday's walk

My goal yesterday was to walk at least as far as I did back in June, when I hoofed it from Uptown to Highland Park (28.95 km, 4:32:52, 32,595 steps). Well, yesterday I didn't, for a couple of reasons: first, I'm recovering from a cold. Second, it was 5°C warmer yesterday than June 16th. And third, I started later in the day, so I had less time to do the trip. Also I was a bit stupid: around hour 3½, I hit the wall, but didn't realize I had, until I finally stopped in a convenience store and downed a pint of Gatorade. Miraculously, I felt better in minutes. Who knew?

My totals yesterday: 24.37 km, 3:54:25, 25,570 steps on the walk and 32,354 for the day. At least that total count for the day was my second-highest daily step count. Could I have done another 7,000 steps? Maybe. But I was so hot and so done, and nothing was chasing me.

I also need to complain that technology failed me. My Fitbit Blaze lost contact with my phone four times, resulting in me having to reboot both once and to reset the Fitbit three other times. Observe:

The Fitbit lost its connection with my phone (and thus its GPS) at 7.75 km, and I didn't notice until I stopped for Gatorade. Which really, really irritates me. That's about half a kilometer and about 600 steps that didn't get counted.