The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Mixed personal milestones

As of yesterday, I've hit my daily step goal 250 times in a row. My previous record streak, which ended 7 November 2019, was 207 days. I'm pretty sure I'll make it another 115 or more days, barring injury or impenetrable snowfall.

And because this current streak began on the last day I traveled outside of Illinois, that means it's also been 250 days since I last flew anywhere. The previous streak of 221 days ended when I flew to London on 31 August 2018.

So, every day I'm prevented from traveling by fears of an entirely predictable (and predicted) disease, the response to which dozens of governments predictably botched, I'm setting a new record.

So frustrating.

These PRs will stand for a while

As planned—exactly as planned, if I may pat myself on the back a bit—I took a walk yesterday. To wit: the first thing I did immediately upon turning [redacted] years old was to walk an entire marathon. And I did it in the Chicago Marathon course time of 6:30*:

* Unfortunately, my course time was 7:11, which is 41 minutes too long. My goals were distance first and pace second, course time third, because I knew (a) my pace would be around 9:00/km and (b) I knew I'd need more than 10 minutes of rest along the way. If I did the actual mass event, I would aim for 8:45/km and 20 minutes' rest along the way, so I clearly need to train a bit.

It felt great, possibly because I planned food and fluids well. Along the way I drank about 3 L of Gatorade and a liter of regular water, plus a grande iced tea from a Starbucks in Evanston; ate 4 Clif bars; and changed my socks just before the 27th kilometer. I also managed to take a few photos.

At 6.8 km, 59 minutes in, Juneway Park on the Chicago/Evanston border:

Just a bit farther up, at South Boulevard Beach in Evanston, I found this gentleman in his shady practice room:

At 14.0 km, 2:05, the Bahá'i House of Worship:

Just past 20 miles, at 32.5 km and 4:51, one of the nicest parts of the Robert McClory trail if you're on foot, and one of the scariest if you're on a bike:

The last 5 km or so looked like this, with no trees and lots of sun:

I finished the walk just a block or so shy of the Lake Bluff Brewing Company, which I reviewed way back in February. Since my goal was to end up exactly at that place, it felt pretty good to plan a route that long to 99.1% accuracy.

My total stats for the day: 56,562 steps, 47.7 km.

Today, on my official birthday, the weather is once again absolutely perfect, but given the growing blister on my right foot, I will probably not walk another 40 kilometers. That said, I may walk the Chicago Marathon virtual half-marathon in a couple of weeks, because why not?

Yay, Fall!

I woke up this morning to a beautiful early-autumn morning: 16°C, low humidity, clear skies, and a gentle breeze. Parker celebrated by eating a live cicada, which made the mistake of buzzing when he sniffed it.

My plan today? Starting as close to 9:09 am as practical, I'm going to walk up to Lake Bluff, about 42 km. Full report when I recover.

While Garmin tries to fix its Cloudflare setup...

I'm glad I took a long walk yesterday and not today, because of this:

In other news:

  • State health officials warn that suburban Cook County (the immediate suburbs surrounding Chicago) has experienced a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, and placed it and 29 other counties on warning that social restrictions could resume next week.
  • Moreover, Covid-19 leads in a massive wave of excess deaths reported by the Cook County Medical Examiner this week. Suicides, homicides, and overdoses are also at near-record levels.
  • Jonathan Russo, writing in TPM Cafe, lays out the case that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin got what he wanted with his meddling in the 2016 US elections, and stands to gain even more if the president wins (or somehow achieves) re-election.
  • The nationalist, right-wing disease has started to infect Canada as well, as their new Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole has adopted a "Canada First" platform.
  • Graceland Cemetery, which doubles as an arboretum, will be closed for the longest period in its 160-year history because of damage from the August 10th derecho.
  • Mother Jones obtained video from a 10 December 2015 deposition showing Donald Trump boasting about his lack of ethics and ignorance of the law.

Finally, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has called for an end to Daylight Saving Time—not just the twice-annual time changes associated with the practice.

Out for a walk

Today is not only a Saturday, it's also the first day all week under 32°C. So I took a little 26 km walk around the neighborhood. It felt good, and I maintained a Chicago Marathon-qualifying pace throughout. I also underestimated my water needs by half, so I've drunk about two liters since I got home.

And now, I must go to the store. Yay.

Working later than usual

I kind of got into the flow today, so things to read later just piled up:

And wait—you can make risotto in an Instant Pot? I might have to try that.

Garmin offline

Four days after I switched from Fitbit to Garmin, all of Garmin's online services have gone offline:

The problems with those services also mean that a range of features can't be used on Garmin's own devices: it is not possible to create new routes to go running or cycling, for instance, or to share those activities on services like Strava once they are completed.

The devices themselves continue to work as normal with the data they do have, however, meaning that any data collected during the outage will be safe.

Garmin wrote on its official Twitter pages that the problems were also affecting its call centres, leaving users unable to get in touch through calls or online messages.

"We are currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin Connect, and as a result, the Garmin Connect website and mobile app are down at this time," it wrote.

"This outage also affects our call centres, and we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and apologise for this inconvenience."

This is not what Garmin customers want to see:

The error message on the Garmin Connect website suggests the problem is with their Cloudflare equipment:

Update: Based on Garmin employee's social-media posts, ZDNet now reports that the company experienced a catastrophic ransomware attack, most likely a new strain of WastedLocker. Fortunately, my Venu can hold 200 hours of data. So as long as they get it back up within a week or so, I shouldn't lose anything—unless the ransomware attack already destroyed my data from this past week.

Garmin v Fitbit: Full day comparison

I wore both my old Fitbit Ionic and new Garmin Venu for about 42 hours straight. Yesterday they overlapped for the entire day. And they came in with similar, but not quite the same, numbers.

I thought that my Fitbit would record fewer steps overall, because it recorded about 450 (about 7%) fewer on my walk yesterday. For the whole day, though, the Fitbit counted 14,190 to the Garmin's 13,250—7% more. But I wore the Fitbit on my right (dominant) wrist, so it may have just had more activity in general.

In other basic measures:

  • The Fitbit recorded 13.3 km to the Garmin's 10.6 km;
  • The Fitbit estimated my resting heart rate as 64 to the Garmin's 65;
  • Fitbit counted 82 "active" minutes to the Garmin's 359 "moderate" and 369 "vigorous";
  • Fitbit estimated my calorie burn at 3,100 to Garmin's 2,862.

I have no way to know which tracker was more accurate, but I might bet a dollar on the Garmin. I think the Garmin used actual distance to the Fitbit's estimate based on my usual stride length, which doesn't account for all the difference.

The Garmin's app presentation is so far beyond Fitbit's I wonder whether Fitbit even has software developers. Here's Fitbit:

Here's Garmin's:

And that's not even all of the Garmin data.

I walked halfway home after work today, and once again, the Garmin tracked my workout better than the Fitbit has done in months.

I'm glad I switched.

Mid-morning news round-up

I'll get to the final head-to-head comparison between my Garmin Venu and Fitbit Ionic later today. Meanwhile:

And finally, because our Covid-19 numbers have started creeping up, indoor bar service will halt on Friday.

Some observations about my walk just now

Before I get to the technical bits comparing the Garmin Venu (now on my left wrist) to the Fitbit Ionic, let me just list some "learnings" today:

  • Both trackers are waterproof as advertised, as is my phone.
  • I am glad that I keep a towel by my back door.
  • I am glad that my washing machine—and, let's face it, my dryer—is by my back door.
  • There comes a point where one's clothes have absorbed so much water that it really doesn't matter how much more water they will encounter.

I have no one to blame but myself. This is the radar picture 10 minutes into the walk:

And 40 minutes in:

Result:

But enough about me. This post is really about fitness trackers.

In sum, the main difference between the Garmin and the Fitbit remains the Fitbit's total GPS failure, and the paucity of data Fitbit provides on its app compared with Garmin.

Here's the Fitbit data:

And the Garmin data:

I am pleased, however, that both trackers got almost exactly the same distance, given that the Garmin tracked distance using actual data and the Fitbit guessed based on my stride length. They don't agree on how many calories I burned, how many steps I took: the Garmin said 6,556, while the Fitbit said 6,109. So far today, my Garmin says 9,127 to Fitbit's 9,047, which adds data to my hypothesis that my Fitbit has always under-counted.

So, other than the rain, I thought this test went well.