Tag Archives: IPhone

Also – There Was Pie

Also, there was pie. Mmmm, pie.

So it’s been a few days – and by a few days I clearly mean more than 7 – since I last wrote something here at Consumed By Wanderlust. I could probably give you a list a mile long as to why I’ve been so tardy, but the truth is rather simple – weird stuff happens.

True story.

In this case, the weird stuff has all been good. Really good in fact. So good that I often have to remind myself that yes, this in fact is my life. 

Where to begin?

When last we spoke I was in the final stages of a fundraising campaign for the Farm To Fork project. With only a few hours remaining and having raised slightly over  $14000, I won’t lie, I was a wee bit stressed. Of course, I didn’t need to be. With all of the amazing people out there we managed to surpass our goal. In total, $15116 were raised.

If you want to know more about the fundraising campaign, you can check out this  interview by Ethan Perlstein of Microryza.

The interview was conducted on the Monday following the fundraising campaign. Ethan has also written up a summary of the campaign here (including some stats – which you all know I love).

All of this, however, didn’t quite define the weird in the weird stuff that happened. The weird came a little later in the week.

First up - I was asked (a number of weeks ago) to write a blog post for RunKeeper. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been an avid user of the RunKeeper app for some time, and I credit the app with helping me become a healthier version of me. Anyway, my post went live on the RunKeeper blog on May 28th. Since then it has been read by I don’t know how many people, liked at least 130 times, and retweeted more than a few times. Crazy. If you’re up for extra reading, check it out here.

But that’s not all. Around the same time that I was asked to write a post for the RunKeeper blog, I was also asked to do another interview. To put this into proper context, I awoke one morning to find an email from the fine folks at RunKeeper. The email, which I initially assumed to be a standard update about my running stats (or possibly an update on global RunKeeper statistics), was actually to ask if I’d be willing to be interviewed by CNN.

Seriously. That CNN.

My reaction went something like this.

What the hell?

Is this a joke?

Wait, was this actually meant for me?


Of course, once I realized that this was in fact a real message intended for me, I quickly replied with a dignified HELLS YA.

Anyway, the story was officially released today. You can check it out here.

Beyond all of this, my week also included celebrations related to the pi-anniversary of my PhD. That is, my PhD officially turned ~3.14 years old earlier in the week. Naturally I celebrated with pie.

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Freaking Cool


A few months ago I stumbled on a new device for interacting with the computer. I don’t remember how I stumbled on it – perhaps via the Twitter, perhaps via Facebook, or perhaps while reading one of the nerdtastically awesome tech-related blogs I oft find myself perusing in the wee hours of the eve. More likely, however, I stumbled on it while I was doing research for the course I’m currently teaching – User Interface Design.

Whatever led me to the device doesn’t really matter. Point is, I had discovered something new and shiny and oh so freaking cool. I knew the moment I saw it, I had to have one. Not because it’s new and shiny and oh so freaking cool – at least not entirely – but because I had this gut feeling that it was going to be a game-changer in the way we work with computers, and because I immediately had a slew of ideas of what it could potentially do. So I did what any sane man would do – I pulled out my credit card and ordered it. And after that, I asked for funding for an undergraduate research assistant for the summer so that the two of us could play with this new and shiny and oh so freaking cool device, and hopefully develop some awesome tools.

Sadly, however, the device isn’t being shipped until some point later this quarter. And so I wait. Not so patiently. Because it’s oh so freaking cool and shiny and new. Have I mentioned that yet?

Of course, I still haven’t told you anything about this thing which I’m waiting not so patiently to receive. For those curious, it’s called the Leap Motion Controller. Instead of telling you what it does, it’s probably best if you just watch the video below.

Trust me, it’s oh so freaking cool.

My Superbowl

Let’s get ready to rumble!

Today I was the very definition of a giant waste of space. That’s not to say that I didn’t accomplish anything, but the list of things that I managed to complete can best be described as rather pathetic.

I blame the Americans and their nail-biting election, which clearly required me to drink several beers – first to calm my nerves1, and then to celebrate the results2. The election also kept me up into the wee hours. Being a bit of a die-hard, I elected3 to stay up to watch the speeches by the presidential candidates. Apparently the idea of going to bed and watching the speeches on YouTube this morning wasn’t an option.

This all translated to one sleepy Dan when my iPhone insisted that I get up this morning. Other than being really tired and slightly dehydrated, I think I escaped the Beast of Hangovers relatively unscathed.

Despite all of the nail-biting, last night was my Superbowl. So many exit polls, so many statistics. Numbers linked with opinions, statistical interpretations, probability of blue states, probability of red states. How could I not love it?

The night was made even better because I was able to watch from the E-bar with several friends. The conversation was always entertaining, the laughter was plentiful, and there may also have been beer and fries. All that and statistics? Pretty much the perfect night in my books4.

1 Riiiight – to calm my nerves. It had nothing to do with its tasty deliciousness.

2 GObama!

3 Double Ha!

4 And special thanks to Dr. Mark and Dr. Julie for driving my not-so-sober ass home last night.

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.

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.

Take Two Starts Now

I don’t always wear underwear, but when I do, they’re underroos.

Hey Ottawa, it’s on. That’s right folks, the Ottawa Marathon starts right now.

For those of you who might want to follow my progress, you can do so via the super-duper extra-awesome live feed via RunKeeper. If you’re following along, I’ll be the small dot that sort of looks like me. And hopefully if you’re following along, I’ll be the small dot that sort of looks like me kicking some serious marathon ass. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like, but hopefully you’ll recognize it if it’s happening.

If you’re reading this post after 7am (the official start time), my goal is to have covered at least 10.55 km by 8am, 21.10 km by 9am, 31.65 km by 10am, and finish the marathon by 11am.

Of course, given that my last marathon was 3 weeks ago, I’ll be more than happy just to finish. I really have no idea how my body is going to respond to running two marathons in a three week period – but I guess you and I are about to find out. W00t!

As with my previous marathon, I’m going to set up my iPhone to read any incoming tweets (80 characters or less). So, if you’ve got some words of encouragement, or if you want to remind me that there are zombies chasing me – a subtle yet effective way to say Move your ass Gillis – feel free to send me a message.

See you in 42.2 kilometres.

Running With My Tweeps

Okay, I know I write about running a lot, and at some point I’ll return to my other nerdier pursuits1, but I needed to write this particular post for several reasons.

Reason the first: I wanted a place to keep all of the messages that I received during the Toronto Goodlife Marathon on Sunday (posted below). For those not in the know, I set the accessibility options on my trusty iPhone so that it would read aloud any text message or tweet that I received while I was running. Then, I put this information out into the ether and let my Twitter friends do the rest2.

Reason the second: Many of the tweets that I received were absolutely hilarious. It was fantastic to have these short messages read to me while I ran. They were uplifting and just what I needed at all the right times. As such, I wanted to share them with you, dear readers, so that you might also understand my rather unique marathon experience.

Reason the third: I wanted to say thank you again to everyone who took the time to follow the race, and to send me the messages of support. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I am a lucky bastard that I get to have so many crazy-awesome people in my life. So to all of you who watched, texted, tweeted, or called, thank you for being incredible, thank you for your tweets and texts, thank you for your virtual and IRL3 high-fives. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you.

1 You know – talking about math and stats, or math and stats related things, or scotch, or pie, or pi.

2 And boy did they deliver :)

3 IRL = In Real Life.

I Did This Weekend All Wrong

What's missing from this "How to run correctly" is the need for good gloves when one is running in the winter.

I can’t help but think that I did this weekend completely wrong.

How might I come to the conclusion that I’ve done this weekend completely wrong? Well, let’s consider the evidence, presented chronologically:


Saturday was cold. Not terribly cold, or anywhere close to the coldest day of the year, but it was winter and as such, temperatures below zero were to be expected. I will say that yesterday was beautiful. It was crisp, and clear and to be honest, it seemed like the perfect day to go for a run. And up until just before reaching 11km I would have agreed with you completely.

You see, I hadn’t realized the wind chill was as bad as it was because I started my run with the wind at my back. However, when I turned around to make my 11-ish km trek back home I realized how under-dressed I was. Not so much in the leg or torso area of my body; legs, feet, torso, arms, and head were all well protected from the wind. But my hands – that’s another story all together. I was wearing my standard running gloves. While they work in reasonably cool temperatures (-2 to 10, say), they fail completely  when wind is involved. Add in the fact that I have a hell of a time on a regular day thermoregulating, I realized I was in for a world of suckbaggery as I made my way back home.

You know – home – which was about 11 km away. Eleven cold-as-hell kilometres away. Gah. Gah to the Gah.

Saturday's run - cut short because I'm clearly an idiot when it comes to dressing for the weather.

On the run home I was forced to stop numerous times. While I don’t normally care if I stop while running my longer runs, I was particularly annoyed on this occasion. This was for two reasons.

Reason the first: I had to stop because my hands were so cold. So cold, in fact, that I did anything and everything to warm them up. I’m sure I would have made quite the sight when I had to stuff my hands in my shorts to try to warm up. Word of advice – cold hands in the happy fun time pantal zone – not so happy or fun. Thankfully, no one was around when I resorted to this solution, so I was saved the embarrassment of having to explain what I was doing.

Reason the second: I was running a rather awesome pace for the first 10+ km. It wasn’t my fastest pace by far, but given stops for traffic, ice, snow, and mud, I felt it was going well.

Finally, I had to stop running at just over 17km. I was really that cold. My hands barely moved, my muscles were cold from having to stop too often, and even my iPhone wouldn’t respond to my fingers1. Thankfully, Moksha yoga was open and I sat in there for about 45 minutes trying to warm up.


Today was beautiful. In fact, it’s so beautiful, I can’t believe how cold I was yesterday. It’s as if Old Man Winter died without putting up a fight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset at his passing as I am what you might call not the biggest fan of being cold (see previous comment on thermoregulation). Now, given the early burst of spring/summer like weather, guess where I’ve spent my day? If you guessed outside frolicking you’d be wrong. If you guessed that I spent the better part of my day in the office, you’d be bang on. And I did this, all the while with the sun shining in through my office window reminding me that it was gorgeous outside and I was inside working.

Oh Epic Fail badge - I totally deserve you.

Clearly I deserve the EPIC FAIL badge for this weekend.

I mean, if I had really wanted to do this weekend right, I should have worked on Saturday during the cold weather, and gone for my run today in the sunshiny awesome weather. Live and learn Gillis, live and learn2 .

Regardless, I’m not actually upset by this. I mean, despite the cold I still had a great run yesterday, and I got to spend time with some friends (both yesterday and today). Additionally, I’ve also managed to cross off a few things on my list, including finalizing a draft paper that I’ve just sent off to my coauthor for comments and revisions.

Of course, if given the choice, I’d definitely ask for a redo on this weekend – if only to take full advantage of the beautiful weather.

1 The iPhone, as far as I understand, does not respond to heat – so I’m not quite sure why this was the case. Regardless, typing was a chore – because my screen didn’t want to respond, and because my fingers were frozen.

2 And what have I learned, beyond the fact that I have this desire to punch Old Man Winter in the face? I’ve learned that I really need to pay better attention to the weather forecasts. Also, my happy fun time pantal zone is not a significant enough source of heat after I’ve been running for 10+km. At least, not significant enough to offset the drain that my frozen hands placed on the area3.

3 I honestly never thought I’d be writing about my happy fun time pantal zone on this blog. To those with delicate constitutions, I apologize. I’ll try to avoid this topic from now on.

I See Mountains

Being greeted with a Dr. Gillis sign is the best way to arrive at an airport.

Today was another early day. However, unlike the last however-many-days-it-has-been, getting up early today was for a reason other than work. Today was the day that I rekindled my once-per-month-travelling goal1, boarded a plane, and made my way to Calgary. W00t!

The flight was rather uneventful, save for the fact that we were without an in fight entertainment system. Oh cruel Fates, why have you cursed me with this terrible luck? In reality though, this wasn’t even close to being an inconvenience. And to be honest, after several rather intense days I was too tired to care. Also, I had my iPhone and my computer with me so I just watched my own movies and listened to my own music.

In an unexpected twist, AirCanada offered us vouchers for 5% off our next flight for the inconvenience of not being able to watch movies while we flew through the air. Personally, I found this rather strange because I’ve been on flights before where I was far more inconvenienced. You know – those flights where they board you on the plane, have you sit there for hours with nothing but a paltry glass of water, provide you with zero information, then ask you to get off the plane to reschedule you at a much later hour, significantly cutting into your vacation (and as such, your margarita drinking time)2.

Regardless, the voucher was a nice gesture and given that I’m going to be travelling again very soon, 5% off is 5% off.

But while I’m talking about AirCanada, I also wondered something today. It never fails that when I’m watching a movie on their inflight entertainment system that one of the flight attendants, or the captain, or the co-pilot, or whomever jumps on the PA to announce something about something that no one on the plane seems to care about. Honestly, I’ve watched and have never noticed anyone actively listening to any of these announcements.

The result is that the announcement just cuts into whatever movie the masses have been watching to forget the fact that they are flying thousands of feet above the ground at speeds we only dream of on the land – and the result is an almost audible gah, because it was just getting to the good part of the movie. And then there is a sigh of relief when the movie restarts, only to be followed by another gah because the announcement has to be repeated in French (as we are a bilingual country).

Jessica Fletcher - where she goes, the Grim Reaper follows.

Anyway, why am I pointing this out?  Well today, on a flight with absolutely no inflight entertainment options apart from twiddling thumbs, staring at the person’s head in front of you, or (if you were as lucky as me) watching Absolutely Fabulous on my computer, there were pretty much zero announcements. That’s right, apart from the initial safety announcements, and the final get-yer-butts-back-in-yer-seats-cuz-we-be-landing, there were none. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

It makes me wonder – was this is all just a coincidence, or is there more to it than that? Are the flight attendants just making announcements because it’s some sort of inflight joke? Or was it just that I wasn’t interrupted right at that moment when Jessica Fletcher reveals the identity of the killer in the big screen version of Murder She Wrote? Ya, that’s probably the case.

Flash forward a few hours and I’ve just awoken from a wee nap. Rick picked me up at the airport and then dropped me off at his place before returning to work (sucker). Prior to him heading back to the office, we did a quick catch-up. It was honestly so awesome to see him when I got off the plane, and I’m looking forward to the next 4 days of shenaniganning with him. We start the adventure tonight with dinner at a friend’s, and then drinks at The Coup.

Vacation is awesome.

1 You may have noticed that I put that goal on hiatus after 13 months of travel. I’d like to say I had a good reason to do that, but in reality that isn’t the case. And after 1 very long month of not travelling, I have made the decision that it is something that I need to do. For my health. And other such stuff.

2 Yes, I realize that these delays are almost always related to my safety – that is why I haven’t ever complained about them. Well, that’s not true. I’ve complained – to friends – but never to AirCanada (or whomever I happen to be flying). Sometimes a guy needs to vent you know.

Captain Obvious Says: It Was Cold Outside Today

My first half marathon of the year. W00t!

Today I managed to run my first half marathon of the year. Of course, this wasn’t an official half marathon; just part of my full marathon training.

My run began by first getting myself ready for the day. That is, a steaming bowl of oatmeal (with shaved coconut, honey, and peanut butter mixed in), and a coffee. I then puttered around the house, hung out with Elliot, and considered crawling back into bed instead of going out into what I could only imagine was a deep freeze – a deep freeze that I had imagined based on the sound of the wind howling against the walls of my condo. I won’t lie – I was a bit surprised to see all of the snow on the ground when I finally looked outside. And the wind did not look inviting.

Regardless, I started getting ready. Running tights? Check. Socks. Check. Wind breaking pants? Check. Tight – oh so tight – running undershirt? Long sleeve running shirt? Long sleeve running sweater? Check, check, and check. What was I forgetting? Right – touque and gloves. And for good measure, I doubled up my gloves. Add sunglasses, plenty of lip and skin protection, my iPhone (and required RunKeeper app) and I was pretty much ready to go. I did take a moment to scarf down a few extra spoonfuls of honey, and to drink some extra water. I may also have treated myself to some dark chocolate.

I was off.

First thought: Holy eff it’s cold. I mean, really, really, really cold. Breathtaking, bone chilling, no-one-in-their-right-minds-should-be-running-in-this-weather cold.

Second thought: Suck it up princess.

After running down the street, I realized that without the wind, it was actually a beautiful bright sun-shiny day. Maybe this run won’t be so awful after all.

I made my way downtown and met up with my running partners Mel and Kyle. Once together, we started our journey. The goal – a 9km run. Completing that would get me to 14km, or 2 thirds of my intended distance. Awesome.

An after-run snuggle (and nap) with the wee Fuzzball

The run was great and the company was awesome. Despite being ridiculously cold at times, the company more than made up for any discomfort. Our pace was solid, especially considering that the sidewalks and side streets were covered in snow, the wind was rather strong, and did I mention it was freaking cold? We ran and chatted, and ran and chatted. And then we ran and chatted some more. Eventually we found ourselves back at our meeting place downtown. Kyle and I said goodbye to Mel (who had already put in a crazy spin class earlier in the day) and continued on for more running. By this point, I’d been running for about 2 hours. Not anywhere close to my official half marathon pace, but exactly what I wanted to run considering that this was my first half marathon of the year, and I really wasn’t aiming for improved time.

Kyle and I eventually parted. At that point, I had just under 4km still to run to hit the distance required of a half marathon. My body still felt good, I wasn’t tired, so I kept going. Needless to say the run was over before I knew it. I was back home, standing at my door and dreaming of a hot coffee, a tall glass of water, something to munch on, and a hot shower.

It was at that point that I realized just how cold my body was. You see, when I attempted to pull my keys out of my pocket my hands did not want to cooperate. In fact, I couldn’t even tell if I had anything between my fingers when I pulled my hand out of my pocket. I felt nothing. Not cold, not pain, not keys. Nothing.

Hmmm, this can’t be good.

I looked at my hands. There did not appear to be any frostbite (yay). I could move them (double yay). And while they were very clearly cold, they seemed to be more asleep than anything. After about 10 minutes of fumbling, I was able to open the door and escape the bitter wind.

Elliot was at the door as soon as I came in. I could tell by his expression that he thought I was insane.

I’m not sure I disagreed.

You can check out my run here if you so wish.

42 Bakers Dozens Of Avoided Goo

This evening I was reviewing my RunKeeper stats. In case you weren’t aware, RunKeeper is the iPhone app that I use to track my running progress/training. I also log any walking, hiking, or biking with the app. You probably shouldn’t find any of this surprising giving my love of all things number-y. And stat-y.

Anyway, to keep the story short I realized this evening that I’ve logged almost 6000km with the app. Crazy! In fact, I’m only about 236km shy of the 6 grand mark.

Of course this didn’t happen all at once. Most of the distance was covered between 2010 and now, despite the fact that I officially started using the app in December of 2008. I guess I wasn’t all that active in 2008 and 2009, apparently logging only 27 activities.

Half of a Starbucks donut, per day, since December 2008 is about the same as the 222 thousand Calories I've burned on RunKeeper.

In addition to the almost 6000km, I’ve also logged 222601 Calories (not including all of the yoga). That number blows my mind.

Being the nerd that I am, I wanted to know what 222 thousand Calories would translate into. Sadly (?), 222 thousand Calories is equivalent to only about 556 Starbucks donuts (each approximately 400 Calories).

Five hundred fifty-six donuts – about 42 baker’s dozens.

That’s less than half a donut per day since I’ve started using the app. For some reason it seems like it should be worth so much more.

For what it’s worth, I’m celebrating this revelation with a piece of Lindt sea salt and dark chocolate. And I don’t feel bad about it at all.

Also, I kind of want a Starbucks donut :)

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Joy-Filled Vision-Water

Don't do this to yourself, lest you take out an eye.

Holy effing crapshite – what you are about to read/see is so freaking unbelievable you might just face-five yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming.

With that in mind, I suggest that you sit down. Perhaps even sit on your hands so that you don’t actually face-five yourself. You see, I don’t want to be blamed if you accidentally take out your eye from said self-face-five. Of course, if you did take out your eye then you’d definitely want to read this post. But then you might take out your eye. Which means you’d want to read the post. Face-five. Read post. Face-five. Read post…

Gahhh! Infinite loop. I think I just hurt my brain.

I digress.

Soon Arnie won't be the only one with a robot-eyeball.

When I awoke this morning I did what I always do when I wake up in the morning – I grabbed my iPhone to check messages, Twitter, and Facebook. Then I grabbed my laptop to check the same messages, the same Twitter, and the same Facebook, because I always seem to forget two things: 1) when I wake up I am not wearing my glasses, and 2) when I wake up my eyes take a while to start working (regardless of having glasses on or not). Until then, trying to read anything from my iPhone is an effective exercise in frustration, especially when you compound the lack of glasses and morning-eyes with various retinal issues such as those that I have.

When I opened up Facebook and increased the screen font so that I could read it despite my morning-vision, I found that my friend Norah had posted a TED talk to my wall.

And not just any TED talk.

While Cyclops doesn't exactly have robot eyes, his glasses are rather kick-ass. If I could look as good as him in those glasses, I'd definitely order those robot eyes.

A TED talk about vision. Robot vision! Let me be accurate. The speaker – one Sheila Nirenberg – was presenting a prosthetic eye. Holy jumping crapshark! A freaking prosthetic eye! To view this rather amazing piece of futuristic sci-fi-happening-in-our-lifetimes, see the video below. It’s a little over 10 minutes long, but it’s so worth it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little verklempt watching it.

But I wasn’t crying; my eyes were simply leaking joy-filled vision-water.

Beyond the fact that we are seeing the future unfold before our eyes, this technology is amazing for at least three reasons.

As cool as Geordi's visor was, I'll be ordering the regular robot eyes, thank you.

First, it’s not like a typical prosthetic. Consider that most prosthetics are used in such a way that the brain sends commands or signals to them. In this case, the visual prosthetic sends signals directly to the brain. It talks to the brain people! If that isn’t super sci-fi-awesome, I don’t know what is.

Second, it’s a huge advance over the standard prosthetics that currently exist. And it’s bounds and leaps beyond the pharmaceutical solutions that currently exist (and only work for a small fraction of people).

Third, it uses mathematics to speak to the brain. Math – shot directly into my brain? SQUEEEEEEEE. Seriously folks, what can’t math do?

So, if I were to eventually need one of these things (which by all accounts I will), I’m going to be super stoked to know that I’m not just getting a bionic super-duper awesome new prosthetic eye, I’ll also be getting math equations injected directly into my brain. And that is awesome on a level I can’t even describe.

The Burning House Project

To those unaware, Thursday night was the Ontario provincial elections. While it will come as no surprise that I – a self-proclaimed nerd and lover of all things statistical – spent the night watching the poll results, and considering what might happen, it should also be known that I spent part of my time reporting said election results on the Twitter.

It was during the reporting on Twitter that I noticed a particular tweet that caught my attention. Specifically, my friend Rob, whom you will likely remember as the guy that sent me this, and these, recently tweeted the following:

The tweet intrigued me. Having known Rob for 25+ years, I’ve learned that when he does something, I should pay attention. The reasons for this are simple; Rob and I share many of the same interests, and Rob has an incredible yet completely understated ability of finding the most amazing things. And because he appreciates quality and attention to detail like no one else that I know, he takes an appropriate amount of time before declaring anything amazing or awesome. Of course, when he has discovered a gem, you can see it in his eyes and on his face. There’s a sparkle in his eye, and this little smirk that tells me that whatever he knows, whatever he has discovered, whatever he has stumbled on is absolutely worth my time. As such, I know that if he has mentioned something, it’s something that I want to know about as well.

In this particular case, his tweet led me to an art project called The Burning House. The premise is simple:

If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question. [http://theburninghouse.com/]

A very simple premise, but one that says so much about the person who responds. The website has many contributions from people all around the world. Some are humourous, some are touching. Some are altogether apocalyptic in nature (for example, the person who would grab their knives and guns – it’s a house fire people, not the end of the world). Regardless, you can see how the answers might speak volumes about the person answering.

And of course, this got me thinking: If my house were on fire and I had just enough time to grab a few items, what would they be?

So, without further ado, I present to you my Burning House collection (in list form, of course):

  • Elliot (not shown – he posed for a while as I set up the items, but then decided he had enough before I could get a picture – go figure).
  • MacBook Pro, portable hard drives (Time Machine), and reinstall disks. Also known as the first half of my life, back up to my life, and lifesaver.
  • iPhone (not shown). Also known as the other half of my life.
  • University degrees (BSc, MSc not shown).
  • Leather jacket (not shown), and sunglasses. One wants to look good at all times.
  • Passport. Hey, if my place has gone up in flames, I’m still going to want to travel.
  • Wallet, specifically Visa, bank card, and $20 cash. For funding travel (see previous bullet).
  • A collection of random offensive cards I’ve received from friends (not all shown). My friends care enough to sent the very worst.
  • Upcoming concert tickets.
  • Medals from running. These are as important to me as the really expensive piece of paper I call my PhD.
  • Artwork from Venice. This makes me smile every time I look at it.
  • Two favourite mugs. These make me very happy, especially when filled with coffee.
  • Nerd dice, and personal infographic (made by Rob).
  • PhD Prom Yearbook. So many awesome memories and sentiment that are not in digital format.
  • Camera. For capturing shenanigans.
  • Bike helmet (and bikes, not shown). As important to me as my running gear (not shown).
  • Running shoes, running shorts, and my yoga mat (not shown).
  • Artwork by Benjamin Murphy. These also make me smile every time I look at them. Partly because they are incredible, but mostly because of who painted them.
So there you have it folks; my Burning House list. I’m sure I’ve probably forgotten something, but these were the first things that came to mind, so I figured they are probably the most important. Of course, if I were in a real fire and time were very limited, I’d likely only grab items 1 through 3. In an extreme bind, it’s just me and Elliot. No sense in going up in smoke over material items. Even those that might have sentimental value.
So what would be on your list?


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.

X-Pro II
Lord Kelvin

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