The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Healthy, happy dog once again

Cassie and I just got back from her vet, with a good 2 km walk in each direction and treats at both ends. The semi-annual wellness check was only $88, and pronounced Cassie in perfect health. Even her weight (25 kg) is exactly what it should be, so I can start adding a little kibble to her meals if we walk a lot.

Of course, the heartworm pills were $230 and the fecal test was $107, so not everything about the checkup was great. Le sigh.

Also, it's warm today: 27°C for both walks, which is more like June 14th than May 13th (normal high: 20.9°C). I even had the air on last night. But I can see a cold front approaching from the west, with an expected temperature crash around 6pm and temperatures barely above 10°C (March 24th!) tomorrow. I'm glad we got our walks in already—looks like the first thunderstorm could hit before 3pm.

And check back tomorrow and Wednesday for two more Brews & Choos reviews from this past weekend, including a brand-new brewery that just opened 2 km from my front door.

Average is good sometimes

I did not win theEuchre tournament yesterday, nor did I exactly lose. I did screw up once, losing 3 points unnecessarily, but my overall score of 52 was slightly above average. The 3rd, 2nd, and winning totals were 61, 62, and 75, so overall the bell curve had very high kurtosis.

Today, Cassie and I took a 10½-kilometer walk in an hour and 47 minutes, about 3x faster than a specific portly beagle but not the fastest she's ever walked. We had a lovely late-May morning and early afternoon that is gradually becoming mid-April again:

Not exactly a pneumonia front, is it? Plus it feels quite nice right now, and will continue down to some really good sleeping weather (around 12°C).

I've got a lot going on the next three weeks, including four performances, plus another performance mid-May. The posting slow-down might continue for a bit.

Heading home soon

American Airlines says my flight home has a 45-minute delay at the moment (though of course that could get worse). So I just spent 35 minutes walking in a big circle around the southwest corner of downtown San Diego. I don't think I'd ever live here, but I do enjoy the weather.

Meanwhile, as if I don't have too many things on my to-be-read shelf already, the New York Times book editor has released a list of the 22 funniest novels since Catch-22. Maybe someday I'll get to a few of them?

Anyway, I should be home with Cassie in about 11 hours. If she understood English and had any concept of "future," she'd be excited too.

How many steps do you need?

I've spent the morning getting a demo ready so that I don't have to be on the call at 3:30 am PDT. And now, I'm heading off to do a hike with a few of my co-workers. While I'm hiking, I'll be building up to my daily goal of 10,000 steps, which I make about 97% of the time.

But maybe I don't need that many? National Geographic takes a look:

Getting in 9,000 to 10,000 daily steps cuts risk of death by more than a third and reduced cardiovascular disease risk by at least 20 percent, but even smaller increases showed benefits, researchers found in a study of more than 72,000 people.

“Any activity is good activity. We found the more steps you did per day, the lower your risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease was,” says Matthew Ahmadi, an epidemiologist at the University of Sydney in Australia and one of the study’s authors. “The 10,000 mark is a great target to hit, but even if you aren’t able to hit that, still doing any amount of activity to increase your daily steps can go a long way to improving your health and lowering your risk of disease.”

In fact, highly sedentary people in the study began experiencing a heart benefit starting as low as 4,300 steps per day, when their risk of heart disease fell by 10 percent. Doubling that step count to 9,700 steps a day doubled the benefit.

Let's see how I do today.

Mentally exhausting day, high body battery?

My Garmin watch thinks I've had a relaxing day, with an average stress level of 21 (out of 100). My four-week average is 32, so this counts as a low-stress day in the Garmin universe.

At least, today was nothing like 13 March 2020, when the world ended. Hard to believe that was four years ago. So when I go to the polls on November 5th, and I ask myself, "Am I better off than 4 years ago?", I have a pretty easy answer.

I spent most of today either in meetings or having an interesting (i.e., not boring) production deployment, so I'm going to take the next 45 minutes or so to read everything I haven't had time to read yet:

All righty then. I'll wrap up here in a few minutes and head home, where I plan to pat Cassie a lot and read a book.

Walk around the neighborhood

Finally recovered from jet lag, our hero takes a 6-kilometer walk along the Isar and through Glockenbachviertel:

As the sun set, it found a gap in the clouds which I hope means tomorrow it'll come out for a while. You can see a little bit of it here on the Paulaner Brewery:

(I didn't stop in; any Brews & Choos stops on this trip will come tomorrow, in Nuremburg.)

The Theresien-Gymnasium:

And back at Marienplatz just as twilight became night:

Now, off to find a beer.

Statistics: 2023

Last year continued the trend of getting back to normal after 2020, and with one nice exception came a lot closer to long-term bog standard normal than 2022.

  • I posted 500 times on The Daily Parker, 13 more than in 2022 and only 6 below the long-term median. January, May, and August had the most posts (45) and February, as usual, the least (37). The mean of 41.67 was actually slightly higher than the long-term mean (41.23), with a standard deviation of 2.54, which may be the lowest (i.e., most consistent posting schedule) since I started the blog in 1998.
  • Flights went up slightly, to 12 segments and 20,541 flight miles (up from 10 and 16,138), the most of either since 2018:
  • I visited 5 countries (the UK, Czechia, Austria, Slovakia, and Germany) and 5 US states (California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana, and Michigan). Total time traveling: 156 hours (up from 107).
  • Cassie had more fun last year than 2022 as my team went from 2 to 3 days in-office (meaning more time at day camp). She got 372 hours of walks (up from 369) and at least that many hours of couch time.
  • Total steps for 2023: 4,619,407 steps and 3,948 km (average: 12,655 per day), up from 4.54m steps and 3,693 km in 2022. I hit my step goal 341 times (327 in 2022), which wasn't bad at all. I also did my longest walk ever on September 1st, 44.45 km.
  • Driving? I did several trips to Michigan in the summer, but still only drove 5,009 km (down from 5,925) on 87 L of gasoline (down from 144), averaging 1.7 L/100 km (136 MPG). That's the best fuel economy I've ever gotten with any car for a full year. I last filled up July 30th, and could conceivably go through January on what I've got left in the tank, but it's always best to keep your tank full in super-cold weather.
  • Total time at work: 1,905 hours at my real job (up from 1,894) and 73 hours on consulting and side projects, including 640 hours in the office (up from 580), but not including the 91 hours I spent commuting (down from 103). How did I add 60 hours in the office while cutting 12 hours off my commute, I hear you ask? Simple: I live closer to the Metra than I used to, and the 6-10 minutes a day adds up.
  • The Apollo Chorus consumed 247 hours in 2023, with 166 hours rehearsing and performing (cf. 220 hours just on the music in 2022). We had fewer performances and an easier fall season, which made a huge difference.
  • As for media consumption, I'll leave that to its own post tomorrow.

In all, not a bad year. I hope the trends continue for 2024, though I do expect a few more blog posts this autumn...

Erev Christmas Eve evening roundup

As I wait for my rice to cook and my adobo to finish cooking, I'm plunging through an unusually large number of very small changes to a codebase recommended by one of my tools. And while waiting for the CI to run just now, I lined these up for tomorrow morning:

Finally, the CBC has an extended 3-episode miniseries version of the movie BlackBerry available online. I may have to watch that this week.

Not all of California is pretty

I just got back from a 35-minute walk around downtown San Jose, Calif., including a 1-km stretch of the Guadalupe River trail. My Garmin track gives you hints about how it went, particularly the 300 meters or so along the river under multiple overpasses including the California 87 freeway. And in fairness, it's sunny and 13°C, which doesn't suck for the first day of winter.

That said, this is the place where I joined the trail:

And this is the 87 underpass:

Not shown above, the homeless man launching large rocks onto the bike path, who only stopped when he finally made eye contact with me, which I didn't break until a support column broke it for me. And let me tell you, that eye contact had behind it every single one of my 30+ years of living in New York City and Chicago.

I mean, there are worse places to be homeless than in the Bay Area. But my 30-minute walk through multiple homeless encampments and god-awful car-centric urban infrastructure brought clarity to arguments I've read about California's housing and property-tax policies. For the most progressive state in the union, California has the worst land use. The Bay Area has a huge homeless population only in small part due to the weather. I walked past a 3-bedroom, 163 m² house 25 minutes from downtown San Jose last night, for sale at $1.8 million. A comparable house in my neighborhood would cost about $900k, and it's a 15-minute train ride to the Loop in one of the most walkable places in the world. (The $1.8-million house is just not walkable.)

One more thing. My Clipper Card has $3.05 on it, down from $20 yesterday because it took two trains to get from SFO Airport to San Jose (still much better than renting a car!). But I thought ahead, and set to auto-reload when it goes below $10. Did you know that it takes at least 24 hours to reload a Clipper Card? So I must ask the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, what the hell is the point of the auto-reload feature if it allows the Clipper Card to bottom out, forcing you to reload at a kiosk while waiting for the f****g auto-reload?

The MTC claims "[i]f you set up Auto-Reload for cash value, when your balance falls below $10, Clipper will automatically reload you card when you pay your next fare," but will it happen today? I guess I'll find out when I go to lunch later.

Unrelated: My Garmin watch said I got eight hours of "poor, non-restorative" sleep last night, and "you may feel more tired or irritable today." Nah, I'm fine.