Category Archives: Apps

Lonely Treadmill

Runkeeper

This may sound weird but I feel like I haven’t been running in ages.

Seriously.

I was getting a massage tonight, and while my hamstrings were being put through the paces I actually wondered aloud Holy hell, why are my hamstrings so sensitive tonight?

My massage therapist put on his Are you kidding me? face and I realized how dumb my wonderings were. After all, he has been treating me throughout the Goofy training process so he was fully aware of the demands it made on the body, and exactly what I was doing this past weekend. Strangely, it apparently slipped my mind.

I may jump on the treadmill tomorrow as I do feel like I’ve neglected it over the past 11 days or so. Granted, I should probably wait until I get some new shoes. My current runners have seen enough miles and enough races that I can safely say they are ready for decommission. In fact, since December 1 I’ve logged over 330 km in my current runners. Crazy!

Anyway, I’ll leave the decision to run until tomorrow morning. I may run. I may not. It’ll be a surprise. Perhaps sitting on my butt is exactly what the doctor ordered. Of course, I won’t be siting on my butt for long – there’s training to do for my next race. Which race is that? I’m not sure yet. But I do know there’s always another race.

Night all y’all.


 

A Universal Law

Oh gawd – NSERC? Still? Really? Why won’t this thing end?

Given that I’m neck-deep in NSERC grant writing, today’s post is going to be short and sweet. And by that, I mean it’s going to be presented in list form – because lists are short and sweet, and who doesn’t like a list?

So without further ado, here is the first of two short and sweet lists:

  1. I was stoked to learn that one of my students will be officially defending her Masters thesis on the 29th of October. For more details, check out the my other post here.
  2. I was also stoked to learn that one of my other students has successfully made the transition from Masters student to PhD student. She is a biological rock star, and I have no doubt that she’s going to be kick-ass awesome as a PhD student and as a soon-to-be Doctor.
  3. My class presented paper prototypes of the website they are developing this semester to our client. The project has been dubbed Farm to Fork and once it’s done is going to be super amazingly awesome. I was thrilled at how organized and professional they were, and everyone that came to view the demonstration remarked how organized and professional they were as well – so although I was probably biased, my observations were backed up by external support.

I also identified several other rules today while chatting with people about various things, science related and not so science related:

  1. Grant writing plus chocolate is way better than grant writing, and
  2. Booze helps research.

In other news, rule number 1 was generalized to Anything plus chocolate is way better than anything without chocolate. After careful consideration, this was upgraded to a law of the universe; on the same level as the laws of conservation of energy, momentum, and angular momentum.

In other other news, I grow weary of writing grant applications, and I think my brain may be broken. This post might actually be evidence in support of that fact.


Average Zzzzzzzzzzs

Sleep Cycle – get this app. Your sleepy time centre will thank you.

Several days ago I upgraded my iPhone to the new iOS.

Verdict: so far, so good.

Since migrating to the new iOS, my phone has been going mad with updates to the various apps that I had installed prior to the whole upgrade business. In most cases, the updates have been rather basic and boring. None seemed to include any major change to the functionality, at least not from a user standpoint. I have no idea what may have changed in the background of the app, and as a user I really don’t care so long as the program still works.

The other night, however, I noticed that one of the programs had some major revisions. The program with all of the changes is known as Sleep Cycle, and I’ve written about its use several times before (such as here, here, and here).

Why do I care about this update?

Good question!

Since Sleep Cycle is a program that I’ve been using religiously for the past 688 days, a change to its interface or database could be significant from my point of view. I decided to investigate further.

While many changes have been made, I have to say that all of them are welcome. The changes include a better user interface, the addition of extra statistics and plots, the ability to track activities prior to bed, the ability to track one’s mood on waking up, and the ability to listen to ambient white noise as you drift off to sleep. In a nutshell, each of these things were on my list of this app would be so much better if it only included…

So what does the new and improved Sleep Cycle do for me? Well, it still tells me that after 688 days of recorded sleep I have slept an average of 5 hours 33 minutes per night. It also tells me that last night my sleep quality was a low 47%. I may have also only been in bed for 4 hours and 2 minutes. Beyond that, the app informs me that

  • my average sleep quality is, at least in the past year, less than 60% (EEP),
  • coffee consumption and exercise seem to improve my sleep quality (although the data used to calculate this relationship are limited – for now),
  • eating late, having a stressful day, and drinking tea seem to lower my sleep quality (although as mentioned in the previous bullet, the data used here are limited – for now),
  • my best sleeps occur on the weekend, while my worst sleeps occur on Tuesday,
  • Saturdays and Sundays are the days when I spend the greatest amount of my day in bed; Tuesdays are the days when I spend the least amount of my day in bed, and
  • I tend to go to bed well after midnight.

I’m pretty excited about some of the new features – especially those related to the correlation of activities with my mood when I wake up and the quality of my sleep. I’ll obviously keep you posted on what I learn.

Anyway, with all of this talk about sleeping I think I’m going to head to bed.

Night all y’alls.


Thanks Guelphonography!

The Barn: my entry to the guelPhonography contest

You may remember about a month and a half ago – more specifically July 25, 2012 – I posted about a little photo competition in Guelph known as guelPhonography (for full details about the contest, click here).

In the event that you have no idea what I’m talking about, the contest was put together to celebrate the City of Guelph, and the amazingly creative people who live here. All you had to do to enter was snap a picture of Guelph with your mobile phone and submit it to the contest organizers.

Well guess what?

Apparently I can count myself as one of those amazingly creative people because the photo I submitted – called The Barn – was one of the 30 selected for the upcoming guelPhonography exhibit1, 2. I won’t lie, I didn’t think my photo stood a chance because of the amazing entries that I saw. To say that I’m flattered and stoked is an understatement.

Children of the Corn: an awesome day with my nieces, brothers, and sister-in-law.

What makes this even better is that the photo came from a day when I was exploring a friend’s barn with my nieces Haley3, Sydney, and Makenzie, my younger brother Aidan, my older brother Bernie4, and my sister-in-law Becky. You see, not long before this day of enjoying some quality family time together Bernie was in a massive car accident, and before that his youngest Haley was battling the flesh-eating disease. And yet here we were on a beautiful summer day exploring the field and the barn, clucking with the chickens, picking berries, and sampling the corn, all without a care in the world. It’s funny how life works.

I can’t wait for the exhibit to open. It’ll be great to see all of the photos together, celebrating Guelph, celebrating the people who live here, and celebrating life in general.

Thanks for picking my photo guelPhonography. I can’t wait for opening night.


1 The exhibit runs September 28th until November 19th at the Guelph Civic Museum.

2 For a full list of those selected, click here.

3 Whom you may remember from such epic posts as Bite My Ass Flesh-Eating Disease (But Not Really).

4 Whom you may remember from such epic posts as How My Brother Got His Boo Boo, and What I Learned Today.


A New Theme

 

This comic has nothing to do with this post, I just like it.

You may have noticed something different about the blog tonight.

No?

Well, no worries.

In the event that you hadn’t noticed, I’ve opted to change my blog theme from one called Freshy to one called Ocean Mist. If you frequent my academic blog (danielgillis.wordpress.com) you’ll notice that I’ve adopted the same theme that I use over there for this blog.

Apparently I like Ocean Mist. And consistency.

What possessed me to change the theme?

To be perfectly honest, I liked how the Ocean Mist theme worked a little more. It has a few more options, such as allowing me to randomize my cover photo (that photo you see at the top of the page). And if you know me, you’ll know that I like randomization. Because I’m a statistician. Get it? Ha! Stats humour. I kill me. It also has what I consider to be better control over the menu structure. Yes I realize how nerdy that sounds, but I do love all things nerdy.

Anyway, I haven’t sold myself on the change yet. First and foremost, I want to know what you think of the change. Maybe leave a comment if you think it’s good, bad, indifferent, or ugly. And in case you have forgotten what the old blog looked like, I’ve painstakingly uploaded the before and after photos for your perusal.

Change is good, no?


The old blog theme – called Freshy
The new theme – called Ocean Mist

 

Productive Unproductivity – That’s A Thing, Right?

You know you want to read this just to find out what Mary did.

Today felt like a rather unproductive day.

Note: that’s not a complaint.

Some days just aren’t meant to be productive. At least, not productive in the sense that we all measure our time against. For me that means that I didn’t finish writing any papers today. In fact, I barely wrote anything. I did very little that could be called serious mathematics or statistics. I didn’t write a single line of code. I had far fewer meetings than I normally would have.

So what the hell did I do all day?

Good question.

I started my day answering only the most important of my emails – which numbered in the few instead of the many – and then moved on to other things. Things that included organizing my office, organizing my notes and papers, and researching programs for tracking time across multiple projects (thank you Dr. Beth for your insight and recommendation).

I also spent a good chunk of my day reading one of the two textbooks required for the course I’m teaching in the fall. Since I’ve never taught the course before, I’m trying to get things über organized well in advance. But let me be clear – I was only reading.

When I arrived home, I felt slightly guilty. Today was payday and all I could think was that I was paid even though I did nothing that I could label as productive. That is – I couldn’t justify my pay cheque with today’s sad excuse for work.

Fortunately, I came to my senses.

Not all of my work is going to be productive in the traditional sense.

Not all of my work is going to generate a paper, or a report, or guidance for a grad student, or a grant, or any other of the standard metrics that are associated with productive faculty members.

In short – not all of my work is going to generate academic results. At least, not immediately.

Anyway, I guess the point of this rant is that I have to accept that some days, well, some days are just meant for non-academic pursuits (like cleaning my desk), but these are necessary to clear my mind and set up an appropriate space for serious mathematical and statistical study.

Or, if you prefer, it prevents cockroaches from moving into my office.

I’m good with either explanation.


Mmmmm, So Many Marshmallow Dream Bars

Only 889 Calories to go. I’ve got this.

At some point in the next 48 hours I’m going to hit a new milestone on RunKeeper, and to be perfectly honest, it’s blowing my mind.

What exactly are you yammering on about? you wonder to yourself.

Well, dear readers, within the next 48 hours – assuming I walk or bike to work tomorrow, and assuming I go for a run tomorrow night – I should cross the threshold of three hundred thousand Calories tracked using RunKeeper.

I repeat. Three. Hundred. Thousand.

I started using this app in December of 2008 (sporadically), and if you had told me then that I’d track so many Calories1 I’d have thought you insane.

Since installing it on my iPhone, RunKeeper has become a staple in my exercise program. I log all of my walks, hikes, bikes, and runs with it. Even the seemingly trivial jaunt to the grocery store is logged, because every step, stride, and pedal count when it comes to health2.

As of today, I’ve logged a total of 886 activities which have burned a collective 299111 Calories. Since Starbucks no longer offers my old staple treat – the Old Fashioned Glazed donut – I will instead convert this Caloric total into the equivalent of my new staple treat – the Starbucks Marshmallow Dream Bar. Each and every Dream Bar – also known as a Rice Krispie Square to most of the world – has 210 Calories. That means I’ve burned off enough Calories to eat approximately 1424 Dream Bars. And that, dear friends, is a butt-load of marshmallowy gooey goodness.

So far this year I’ve burned 83821 Calories by walking, hiking, running, or biking for approximately 216 hours and covering a distance of 1625.9 kilometres.

All I can say is Yowzers!

Pretty graphs are pretty.

How does this compare to previous years?

Excellent question. According to RunKeeper (which automatically plots some pretty sweet graphs),

  • 2011 saw me log 120605 Calories, 371 hours, and 2868.5 kilometres, while
  • 2010 saw me log 85450 Calories, 262 hours, and 2546.2 kilometres.

Based on these numbers I think it’s pretty obvious that 2012 is going to be an epic Calorie burning year. Beyond the numbers, it amazes me how much more active I am than last year or in 20104.

Anyway, for those who haven’t done the calculation, I have only 889 Calories to go before I cross the three hundred thousand Calorie threshold. And what’s 889 Calories? It’s a bike to and from school, and about an hour on the treadmill.

I’ve so got this.

And you know what – I think I’m going to celebrate with a Dream Bar. Maybe two. Because it’s all about balance.


1 Especially since each individual exercise event seems to burn off so few.

2 The only thing I don’t record are my yoga sessions3.

3 I have a spreadsheet for tracking those, naturally.

4 Of course I realize that last year I was sidetracked by my hernia surgery, so last year was still pretty awesome, all things hernia related considered.


Apologies To Mario And Luigi

Best. Sudoku. Time. Ever.

People often ask me if I play video games. Today for example it came up in conversation with my brother, and my friend Susan. Amazingly, I somehow must lack the video game gene because I just don’t have any desire to play them (at least, not the modern, 3-D, graphically rich, story driven games that exist today). Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy them from time to time, but not on a regular basis.

For me, video games hit their pinnacle with Super Mario Brothers. That, or I hit the ceiling of my video gaming skill set. Whatever. Some of us are meant to get their thrills by staring at equations, and some of us are meant to get their thrills by engaging in epic battles with gorgons and other such beasts. Clearly I’m the former.

But this isn’t to say that I don’t like electronic games. Of course I do. But my list of go-to games is more on the nerdtastic side. Sudoku for example. Or KenKen. My iPhone may also have the Scrabble, Scramble, and Sporcle apps. Scrabble is exactly what you think it is. Scramble is essentially a matrix of letters and the goal is to form as many words as possible before time runs out. Sporcle is a portable version of the online set of quizzes that I talked about in a previous post.

Anyway, why is this important? Well, it’s not in the grand scheme of things. But the other day I was playing Sudoku on my iPhone and I managed to finish the game in record time (as indicated in the picture). I couldn’t be more pleased with myself.

Could finishing a logic puzzle in \pi-time be any more perfect? I think not.


Instagram

So some of you might have noticed a new addition to Consumed By Wanderlust. Did you miss it? It’s over there, to the right; it’s called Snappy Shots.

Cuz they’re snap shots I took with my iPhone, and they’re snappy. Ha. I kill me. No? I’m on my own here? Fine, I’m okay with that.

Anyway, it all started not so long ago when I downloaded an app that someone told me about, or I read about, or maybe it just magically appeared on my iPhone. I forget. But I can’t be expected to remember all of my comings and goings, can I? Back to the point at hand; I had at some point downloaded an app, and that app is called Instagram.

So what’s so special about Instagram, other than the fact that I downloaded it? I mean, really, it’s just another app that allows one to take photos with their iPhone. Big freaking deal. The difference here is that it’s rather simple (for those simple-minded shutter bugs like myself), it has instant funky visual effects (who doesn’t like instant funky visual effects), and one can automatically upload their snapshots to a live stream of photos (think Twitter, but consisting of pictures instead of 140 characters).

Instagram also comes with the option of adding a note to each photo, commenting on someone else’s photos, liking a photo, or instantly sending the photo to any number of other sites (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, etc.). I’ve got mine set up to send the photos to a Flickr account, which are then automatically streamed to my Snappy Shots section over there to the right. Cool!

Oh, and did I mention it’s a free app? Because it is. And everyone loves free, right? 

Anyway, let’s talk about those instant funky visual effects that I mentioned above. There are fifteen major effects, each of which are illustrated below (because it’s far easier to SHOW you what the program does, than describing it). So I present to you dear readers, a picture of me during my climb of Mt. Yamnuska, which is just outside of Calgary. I hiked this with Rick and some other friends last September. I can’t believe it was a year ago already. Crazy times. Back to the point of this post – the picture is presented first in ‘normal’ view, and then with each of the 15 filters.

Moral of the story – you should download this app. Because it’s free, it’s fun, and all the cool kids are doing it. Okay, the latter point might not be true. I’m not really up on what the cool kids are doing. Shocking, I know.

Happy photo taking, all y’all.


Normal
X-Pro II
Lomo-Fi
Earlybird
Sutro
Toaster
Brannan
Inkwell
Walden
Hefe
Apollo
Poprocket
Nashville
Gotham
1977
Lord Kelvin

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The Word Of The Day Is Geeklet

This labour day weekend, while all the frosh were moving in, and likely most everyone else was avoiding campus, enjoying patios, relaxing, or whatever, I was sitting in my office plugging away at several different projects. Cuz I’m cool. Clearly.

Don’t fret though. This post isn’t a cry for sympathy. I opted to work this weekend because I wanted to clear up some of my to do list. Having spent the prior 4 weeks in recovery mode, some things had piled up and I really needed to get on top of them. Plus, I needed to cross a few things off my list so that I could devote most of the next 2 weeks to grant writing. Yup – grant writing is about as fun as it sounds. But given that I’m asking several groups for large sums of money, I figure I need to put forth a coherent and well structured argument as to why said groups should give little-ole me said large sums of money.

Anyway, three of the to do items that I was attempting to tackle this weekend were rather computationally intensive. That is, they required a substantial number of hours coding and recoding, error checking, and re-checking, and a substantial amount of time to run. I left my laptop running over night only to find out that it didn’t have the brain power to finish the work I had tasked it to do. My office computer, being the memory roid-monkey of my computers was enlisted, and thankfully completed the task without too much trouble. Of course, having analyzed several large data sets, and creating several hundred summary tables, I didn’t want to lose this information (or have to rerun the analysis). So the three tasks in question also demanded data backup.

What does all this mean? It means that there were several hours where I was sitting in my office waiting. Watching patiently as my computer churned through calculations, generated summaries, and copied them to various locations for backup purposes. Exhilarating! Not so much.

What did you do to entertain yourself? you ask.

Well, I spent part of my time cleaning, part of my time organizing books and course notes, part of my time drinking too much coffee (but it was oh-so-good), and part of my time getting my geek on with a little program called GeekTool. GeekTool is a Mac program that one can use to tweak their desktop. Specifically, one is able to add dynamic text and visuals to their desktop background such as the time, date, etc., or other nerdy things like the CPU usage, memory availability, and such like.

I chose to begin my desktop customization using a very simple background that I obtained from SimpleDesktops.com (a source of some very awesome yet very simple desktop images). Specifically – this desktop:

Polaroids - available at simpledesktops.com

I then created the necessary geeklets (the little shell/photo tweaks that spruce up the desktop) to update the desktop to look like this:

My shiny new desktop (left monitor)
My shiny new desktop (right monitor)

I’ve attached some of the geeklets here (in zip format) for those that might want to copy this design for their own.

If you like what you see, check out some of the other amazing desktops that other people have made using GeekTool. A Google search will give you a huge selection of pretty slick designs, many that are downloadable. I think my next task will be to reproduce and then improve on this particular design:

This set up was found while I was viewing this website: http://desktopspotting.com/25/awesome-geektool-mac-os-x-desktop/

Do The Math…

What’s wrong with this picture, folks?

Some of you might be thinking – it’s a math clock, that’s what’s wrong with this picture? And while you might be correct, there is something more that is wrong with this picture. Something that really frustrates me.

Have you guessed what it is?

Clearly the equations are meant to replace the numbers. That’s clever right? Normally, I’d agree. I mean, something this nerdy screams Dan. But in this case, I’m torn. I appreciate the idea (and I have seen other math clocks that do a far superior job than this), but in this case, the idea just isn’t enough.

Anyway, let’s do the math starting from 1 o’clock. Obviously 102,413-102,412=1. That works. And \sqrt{4}=2. In the 3 o’clock position we can simplify our fraction to 3. Solving for x in the 4 o’clock position gives x=4. And the equation in both the 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions are fine. At 7 o’clock we need to solve 52-x^{2}+x=10. The solution is x=-6 or x=7. Only one of those answers is correct (assuming time is positive). Moving on, the 8 o’clock position is fine. But then, just when we think that mathematical logic has returned, we hit 9 o’clock. Apparently this is when our clock should be labeled as the time when math dies.

By this point, I’m sure everyone is aware that \pi is an irrational and transcendental number. The irrationality means that it cannot be represented as a ratio of integers. Which means that \pi-0.14 is not exactly 3. So 3 times something that isn’t quite 3 is also not going to be 9. What the hell people who designed this clock? Did you not seek the advice of some hard-core math nerd?

Anyway, the 10, 11 and 12 o’clock positions are fine. But still – how can a clock that asks you to test your math skills be wrong? Where’s the editing? Where’s the mathematical rigor?

Unless perchance, the clock was designed to truly test one’s math skills – that is, to see who might notice the problem with 9 o’clock. In that case, bravo clock makers. You’ve done your job.

Does This Mean I’m Undead?

My nerdery has been well established by this point in time. As such, I’m not even going to explain why I have the following app, because it should be fairly obvious; I like numbers, I like data, ’nuff said.

Anyway, the app in question – none other than Heart Fitness. What does Heart Fitness do? It actually turns your iPhone 4 into a heart rate monitor. Seriously. It uses some fancy pants technology (also known as the camera light) to analyze the changing colour of your finger as blood pumps through it. And it’s amazingly accurate.

The basic application is free, however you can also pay 99 cents to have the optional ‘history’ component added on. The history module stores previous measures so that one can check their progress. Clearly, I bought the history module. I mean, it makes charts and stuff. How could I not buy it?

The purpose of the app is to promote healthy living. That is, one’s resting heart rate is measured and then compared against some standard values. In particular, the program suggests that resting heart rates between 61 and 65 are good, 65 to 81 are average, over 81 are poor. One receives a rating of excellent if their resting beats per minute are between 54 and 61. Anything below 54 is considered athlete.

Generally the idea is to measure your resting heart rate after a full nights rest; that is, first thing in the morning. I don’t always remember to do that, so my history has been all over the place. My highest reading was 79 beats per minute, but this was in May at 7:08 pm – which just so happened to be the same day that I had run 32+ kilometers. Regardless, up until recently I always expected my reading to be somewhere in the good range. That is, until I tested it first thing Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning, I woke up to Elliot pawing at the window because of some bird or squirrel or who-knows-what that caught his attention. As I rolled over to turn off my alarm, I decided I’d check my heart rate. When the program finished doing its thing, I looked at the result. I had to blink a couple of times because I really didn’t think what I saw was correct. Plus, I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I corrected that and looked again.

I tested it again, because clearly this had to be a mistake. The second reading was even more shocking.

What the what? I then decided to use the old-time-y method of stopwatch and finger to neck. This time I measured 48 beats per minute. Three measurements put me in the athlete category. Sweet freaking awesome.

Anyway, I’m fascinated by these readings, so I’m going to try to continue to test them first thing when I get up. I have a hard time believing that my resting heart rate is in the athlete zone. So much so, that I continue to test my heart rate. Even now, as I sit here to type out this post, my resting heart rate according to the app is 53 beats per minute. And that is after a run, and a coffee, and it’s post 11pm. Weirdness.

Ultimately, it leaves me wondering – how low does my heart rate have to go before I’m considered a Zombie?

Presenters Presenting Prezi Presentations Presently

In 4 days I will be heading to the airport to catch my flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia1. From there, I will be driving with my brother to Wolfville for the Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada, where I will be presenting (Monday morning) some of the research associated with my PhD dissertation. Specifically, I will be chatting about Multivariate Poisson Spatial Mixture models. w00t!

But fear not dear readers, it’s not nearly as boring as it sounds. Well, it might be, but I’m doing everything I can to spice it up and bring some life to what most would consider a dry topic. Clearly as a Statistician I am not one of those people who find statistics dry. I am, however, someone who is easily distracted and bored during presentations. That is to say, I think a lot of presentations are painful, to say the least. In fact, whenever someone

  • starts their presentation by reading their slides, I’m already thinking about something else.
  • presents slides that are all text and equations, I have to force myself to stay awake – and this from someone who loves equations.
  • presents to only a small subset of the audience; that is, the speaker presents something so specialized that everyone else is left in the dust – well, I’m usually one of those left in the dust.
  • presents their work without any sense of passion or fun, I wonder to myself if you aren’t interested in what you are doing, why the hell would I care? 

Maybe I’m a bit too harsh, but I have to think that if this is your life’s work, your bread and butter, your passion, shouldn’t you be trying to at least sell it a little bit to the audience?

Anyway, I’ve spent many hours at conferences thinking about these things (because clearly I wasn’t paying attention to the presentations). Don’t get me wrong – by no means do I think I’m a good presenter. But I do strive to be. I take my presentations seriously and I try to do what I can to spice them up and make them interesting. And I will go back to old presentations to learn from past mistakes. In fact, I was reviewing some slides from a class I taught a few years back and was appalled at how cluttered they were. But just like anything, presenting is a process – something that someone has to practice and practice and then practice some more. While I’m sure there are some people who can wing a presentation, good presenters are not typically born. It is a skill that must be developed. And I’ve learned through the years that if the presenter can tell a story that engages the audience, they have effectively won the battle. So that is what I strive to do – tell a story that justifies and explains the research that I am presenting.

Fortunately, when I was developing my presentation for my PhD defence, I was introduced to an online presentation building program called Prezi. It is an easy to use program that allows you to create a story line, instead of resorting to the standard slide after slide after slide structure. It also automatically creates some rather interesting zooming transitions that brings the story to life. It’s not a static slide but a story board. Something that draws the audience in.

I was also fortunate to have seen several excellent Ted Talks online. The common thread in all of the good presentations was the act of story telling. That is, the presenter did not rely on overly verbose slides. They instead had very simple key points or, better still, key words, around which a story was told. This forced the audience to engage with the presenter, instead of getting lost in text. It also guaranteed that the presenter had to know what they were talking about, because they couldn’t stop to read it.

Ultimately, I hope the lessons I have learned from experience and from others will elevate my SSC talk on Monday to at least the point of not being a snore-fest. I’ll let you know how it goes :)


1

Don't be fooled - behind that cute exterior, he's plotting your demise.

Dear potential thieves; while I am away be aware that my house will be guarded by Elliot the attack cat. Do not be thrown off by his cuteness. Under that soft fuzz ball exterior is the heart of a killer. And if for some reason you get by Elliot, Almost Dr. Sean will be there to take you out. Consider yourselves warned.

RunKeeper Update

On February 2 I posted about RunKeeper.  Since then, just over 90 days have passed (approximately 1/4 of a year).  Given that, I felt obliged to update you on my progress, or lack thereof.

You may recall that I had set several goals for this year as described in the epic blog entry entitled Four Fifths The Man I Used To Be Means My Awesome Is 25% More Concentrated (okay, maybe not so epic, but it was a blog entry).  Specifically, my goals were to walk 1,800 km, bike 2,000 km, run 500 km, and spend 20,000 minutes practicing yoga over the course of the year.  Put another way, that means that I need to log 4.93 km of walking, 5.48 km of biking, 1.37 km of running, and 54.79 minutes of yoga each and every day.

Clearly I must be insane.  Looking at this now, I’m not really sure how feasible those numbers are.  It usually takes me about 50 minutes to walk about 5 km.  Biking 5 km takes about 15 minutes.  Running 1.5 km takes about 8 minutes.  Add that all up and include the yoga, and we are talking over 2 hours of activity every day.   Hmmm.   I may have to reconsider these values.  Or perhaps I’ll say screw it and try to reach my goals regardless.  Ya, that sounds more like it.  W00t!

Anyway, back in the old-time-y days of February 2, 2011, I had managed to hit 315 activities (running, walking, hiking, biking), had covered almost 3,000 km, and burned over 100,000 Calories.

Results as of February 1, 2011

In the 90 odd days that have passed, I have added

  • 91 activities (not including yoga),
  • approximately 650 km, and
  • about 35,176 Calories.
Results as of May 4, 2011

Now of course, the information that I have stored in RunKeeper is cumulative.  Unfortunately this means that obtaining statistics for a particular time period are not possible (at least, not that I am aware).  Thankfully, as a full-fledged nerd I record a spreadsheet of all my activities so that I can figure out other statistics and make pretty graphs.  Ya, I really am that much of a nerd.  Anyway, based on the crunching of numbers within my spreadsheet-o-activity I know that between January 1, 2011 and February 1, 2011 I logged 176 km walking, 0 km biking, 15 km running, and 955 minutes practicing yoga.  The spreadsheet also tells me that between January 1, 2011 and May 4th, 2011 I have walked approximately 602 km, biked 0 km, ran 237 km, and spent about 5345 minutes practicing yoga.

But how does this measure up?  That is, given the fact that about 34% of the year has passed, one might wonder if I am on track to reach my ever so lofty goals?  With a little number crunching, here are the results:

  • Walking – based on my current pace, I expect to hit ~1770 km (off my goal by 30 km?  I can fix that.)
  • Biking – clearly the weather hasn’t been biking friendly of late.  As soon as it is, I am going to have to do a lot of work to hit 2000 km.  Assuming that I can bike every day in the summer, and assuming the summer is only 90 days, that means I need to bike 22.22 km per day (or about an hour).  Crikey.
  • Running – based on my current pace, I expect to hit ~697 km (exceeding my goal by almost 200 km – AWESOME).
  • Yoga – based on my current pace, I expect to hit 15,721 minutes (off my goal by slightly more than 71 hours).  Of course, I have a few things planned in the summer that should help bring this up a notch.  Hopefully the goal is still attainable.
So there you have it.  Overall, I’m not doing nearly as bad as I thought I might be doing.  Walking and running are both on track.  Yoga is off a bit, but probably nothing I can’t fix.  And biking, well biking will have to wait until the weather gets better and my bike is tuned up.
W00t!

The Sloth Is Dead And Other Bric-A-Brac

So yesterday I posted about my incredible bout of laziness this weekend, coupled with my slacking in all things yoga, massage, and Calorie counting.  I also indicated that turning into a sloth was not good because I have been getting increasingly unbendy, and because I have somehow lost more weight; something I’ve been desperately trying to avoid.

Today I made a triumphant return to form.  That is, I managed to get on the treadmill, go to yoga, and at least chat with my massage therapist (given that I went to yoga with him, this was way easier than expected).  I also recorded my food intake, and my exercise using LoseIt.  Clearly I deserve an A+ for effort today!  w00t!

So how did I do?

  • Walked 5.88 km (~50 minutes).
  • Ran 5.79 km (30 minutes).  This represents an average speed of 11.58 km per hour.  The first 1.61 km were slow (10 minutes), followed by a faster 4.18 km in 20 minutes (or an average speed of 12.54 km per hour).  And while this wasn’t the initial distance I had intended (hello 26 km), given that I didn’t get home until 6:30ish I am happy that I managed a run at all.
  • 105 minutes spent doing Yin reduced heat yoga.

This translates to

  • Total Calories burned ~ 710.
  • Total Calories consumed ~ 2126.
  • Net Calories ~ 1416.
A summary of my Caloric intake today. Mmm, Calories.

Which means that I am still 837 Calories under my budget of 2253 Calories per day (as indicated by this screen capture of the LoseIt website)1.  And this, dear reader, is why I need to track my Calories.  I’m full.  Terribly full.  And yet I’m way off on my daily intake.  Is it any wonder why I’ve lost more weight? Gah!

Sadly, the variability of my food intake is pretty high.  For example, my Typical Breakfast normally involves a bran bar, and a bowl of oatmeal soup2.  Today it was just oatmeal soup.  Minus a bran bar means minus ~130 Calories.  Further, I question whether my dinner was actually 506 Calories.  It might have been.  I’m just not confident that it was.

Despite the variability, I still like recording the information.  At a glance I can at least get a general sense of the directionality of my intake.  Today was definitely an under day.  Something I clearly need to work on.

Now given this, just imagine how bad my Caloric deficit must be when I run for longer than 30 minutes.  My half marathon usually consumes about 1700 Calories.  Do that a few times a week and I might be looking at a serious Caloric deficit.  And this isn’t even considering longer than half marathon training runs, nor does it consider other exercise.  Obviously I must feed my neurotic desire to record more and more data about myself.  Otherwise I’m going to have a serious problem with the marathon training and run.

I may actually have to start eating buckets of lard.  Ew.

To further repent for my sloth-like behaviour over the weekend, I have also been inspired by my friend Carolyn, who posted about RunForJapan.  Check out her post here.  I’ve decided that one of my runs will also be dedicated to the cause.  I’ll keep you posted on which one – but my guess will be either Friday or Saturday’s long run.  w00t!

Alright, with that I leave you with a haiku, in honour of World Poetry Day (which was March 21, for those not in the know).  Clearly I love haiku.  If you want to read more – specifically haiku related to zombies, check out the comments for my post Follow Up III: Dissertation Haiku.  My friend Jorge of BarkingSpace.com and I have been having an epic haiku battle.  AWESOME!


 

My net calories:

food in minus exercise.

I can’t eat enough.



1 This budget is set so that I maintain a weight of 145 lbs.

2 I call it oatmeal soup because my oatmeal is very thin. To the point of being hot water with floating oats in it. The regular thickened oatmeal is too hard on my stupid stomach right now. The soup typically contains 1/4 cup of oatmeal, 1.5 cups of water or more (basically I fill the bowl with water), 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter (no salt or sugar added), 1 tbsp of honey, and 2 tbsp of home-made trail mix (which consists of almonds, pecans, raisins, dates, cashews, figs, and unsweetened shredded coconut). I might also add some raspberries if I have them on hand.  A recipe for deliciousness.