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PotD 20230122


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The germ theory of disease

I’ve started going to the regular gym again, because I’m not getting any younger, and I didn’t buy a big enough house to install a home gym [1] [2].

I’m not surprised, but I am amazed at the number of people who hit the hand sanitizer after every exercise. And yet I’m the only person in the gym wearing an N95 mask. I am aware of no diseases passed through sweat. It’s disgusting, but unlikely to kill you. There is a disease out there that’s killing two 747s worth of people every day, and which can be mitigated by wearing a good mask [3] and getting a free vaccination [4].

You’d get a dirty look if you didn’t wipe your ass sweat off a bench, but nothing at all for a literally high chance of passing on a fatal or life-altering disease.

The cognitive disconnect is amazing. Don’t get me started on the number of chin masks I see at the climbing gym. Dude, no one is making you wear a mask at all! My partner and I and maybe three other people are the only ones! So why are you wearing a crappy medical mask on your chin? Why bother?

I also see this at the airport.


[1] and no one is ever going to open a gym that requires masks and proof of recent vaccination. Nor re-racking weights, wiping benches, and not violently dropping weights. Not to mention not playing loud music that all of us ignore via ANC.
[2] I didn’t buy a bigger house because (link to previous post) and there’s a gym less than a mile away that costs me $84/year to go to, so why would I spend the money? Oh yeah, global pandemic… was not on my scorecard.
[3] I remain also somewhat astounded that people are still rocking the medical mask, even the medical types. There are comfortable N95s out there!
[4] Oh yeah, Moderna is going to charge over $100 per shot for the vaccine that they were totally government funded to develop…

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PotD 20230118


PotD 20230117

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One of the things that strikes me at work is the number of folks [1] who have second homes in the mountains – Big Bear, Yosemite, Arrowhead, etc. Not too many ocean, that was always unaffordable for working joes.

In my cohort [2], the unmarried of us own small houses, and the married and divorced own a slightly bigger house. Slightly younger are buying houses in gentrifying areas, not close, but not super far. Prior to the 2008 bust, a number were trying to be slumlords or buying multiple homes for rentals/ABNB, but all those that I know have slimmed down to one.

I’m not hearing about second homes in the mountains.

In the cohort that I’m hiring, none of them can even begin to afford the houses close to work, nor even think about having a family. They’re making about 30% more starting than I made 25 years earlier [4], and home prices have more than tripled since then.

Not to mention interest rates based on non-existent inflation. Can’t have full-employment and workers regaining some leverage!

I’ll also point out that the first cohort went to college basically for free (especially in California); the second (me) had thousands of dollars of loans to pay off higher tuition, but those were forgivable in bankrupcty; the third cohort has tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans which are not dischargeable short of death.


[1] I started to type bosses, but it’s many of my older colleagues too
[2] technically the long tail of the boomers, but Douglas Coupland is the same age as me so I will die thinking and feeling like a Gen X’er. RATM/NIN is my jam, not the Beatles. The first cohort mentioned above with two homes are definitely boomers.
[3] Thanks, NIND loans! At least something good happened to me from the housing bullshit. I’ll pay for that by making house payments until I die, and having no retirement saved. But there’s a roof over my head. Until the next time I have to replace it and can’t afford the 30k it will cost.
[4] FWIW, I also made $15/hour building houses 35 years ago. I’d be surprised if the guys I see down the street are making much more than that now.

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Apple Watch Ultra update

So, after using it for about a month:

I like it as a daily wearable. It apples better than Garmin.

As a workout watch, it’s miles worse than Garmin. It only connects to two external devices, though it’s relatively easy to pair and unpair, and that only through an third-party app, not the Apple Workout app. The buttons are too easy to press by mistake, which has never happened to me during a workout with any of the three Garmin wearables I’ve had. The touchscreen of course is always getting set off accidentally.

The Garmins of course pair infinitely and reliably. I can’t remember the last time I went on a ride and it didn’t pick up all the devices from the bike I happened to be on, no unpairing and re-pairing necessary. Cadence, radar, powermeter, HRM, lights, electronic shifting, footpod – the whole zoo. Everything except the GoPros (come on, GoPro, why can’t I have radar- and D-fly activated cameras?).

I think I’ve had maybe one or two activities where it just worked for the whole activity and didn’t get fouled up by something else, or it didn’t read the powermeter even though I it’s literally the only thing paired, or even Apple just deciding that because I’m going 5 mph up a 12% grade that it should stop the third-party workout app to ask if I’m having a walking workout.

Indoors, there appears to be no way to calibrate the device, so any kind of treadmill or elliptical workout is just worthless except for elapsed time and heart rate.

To be fair, Garmin has only gotten this right recently with ‘calibrate and save’.

You can do a lot with software, but I don’t see how Apple is going to fix this with an update. The buttons and touchscreen are kinda baked-in. Maybe the functionality will get better with updates, but if my sleeve keeps fouling up a workout, how is Apple going to fix that?

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Apple Ultra watch review

Though I’m a gadget freak [1] and somewhat of an Apple fanboy, I’ve been holding off on the Apple watch. First I said I would get one when they figured out an always-on display, then when they improved the GNSS to be better than my old Forerunner 305 [2], then when they added buttons, then when battery life was more than a day.

The Ultra seems to tick those boxes, so when I saw them on sale, that was my Xmas present to myself.

Of course you can check out DC Rainmaker for the complete review (and you should). This is just my personal opinion.

First, as a GMT watch, it’s ok. Aside from the default random button-press/screen-touch always going into the ‘change the GMT time’ mode, whatever thing I press to get out, gets out without changing it [3]. It’s great to be able to see at a glance the air quality, the temperature, and sunrise/sunset, and heartrate. Of course it doesn’t actually display the HR, it just takes you to a screen where it says it’s measuring it every time you look and never gives you the current HR (win Garmin). And the AQI and temp seem to be for someplace else, as they sure aren’t for the place I’m living [4]. But it would cool if it worked. It’s sort of an indicator? I still have to either go outside or look at WeatherUnderground to see if I need a jacket or umbrella, or check with SCAQMD to see if I should skip the outdoor workout.

It gets sunrise/set correct. Though it doesn’t say which it is (nautical? astronomical?), so I wouldn’t rely on this for any alpine start/C2CIAD planning. Good enough for walking the dog, but that’s about it.

Notifications are way better than the Garmin (win Apple), which does okay, but misses about as many as it gets. In general, the AW Apples’ better than the Fenix which is not surprising. The main notification I get from the AW is that the memory is full, and I should delete some songs or pictures. I don’t sync any pictures, and going to music tells me that it’s still trying to sync the one playlist I tried to sync. General/storage tells me that I’m not out of memory, so… not sure how useful that is. Still, I can’t get the Garmin to sync any music at all, so there’s that. Win Apple, though it’s a hollow victory as I still only use iPod Shuffles. [5]

I don’t wear it sleeping. It’s not that comfy.

As a workout watch, one has to compare it to the Fenix. Has the Fenix ever stopped itself because my armwarmer brushed the face? No it has not. At least I assume that’s what causes the AW workout to stop less than halfway through with no notification. Who knows. I haven’t tried to compare HR and power meter readings for a workout, as the main Apple workout app doesn’t connect to power meters. You can buy an app that does, and it does. Sometimes. But most of the time, not, so I have to stand around like I did in 2005 going through the settings to make the AW connect to anything. Forget about connecting to ANT+, or more than two BLE devices. On any given ride, I have radar, lights, cadence, power, and HR. Apple is not connecting to any of these. Glitches aside, Garmin seems to do this pretty well. Win Garmin.

Frankly I don’t find the touch screen useful at all while I’m exercising. I’m sweaty, and I’m busy and I’m trying hard and going fast, so I need to be paying attention if I don’t want to eat it. I can find the buttons without looking, but I pretty much have to stop to work the touchscreen. I haven’t tried the AW with gloves, but they don’t work on an iPhone, so I can’t imagine trying to make things work on a cold day with big old thick cycling gloves on. Also does that mean buying another set of cycling gloves which are touchscreen capable? Because the ones I have now work fine for keeping my fingers warm. Win Garmin.

I don’t think it matters, because on a really cold day, my jacket sleeve will touch the screen and cancel the workout.

So I guess what I’m saying is that Apple has some work to do here? It’s certainly nicer to wear on a day-to-day basis than the Garmin, and handles all the Apple stuff better, but I didn’t need a watch for that. Garmin handles all the workout stuff way better, though its syncing is still kinda hit or miss. Better with the Fenix, iffy with the Edge, crappy with the 735, bulletproof with the 305 until the contacts wore out.

Someone at Apple has to be a serious cyclist or runner. I wonder how they think that the current state of affairs is okay. But then I still can’t eject a TM disk when I want to get up and go someplace, and that’s been a problem for going on 20 years now.


[1] less so than I used to be. I have a job, I deal with too much technology, and the pain of upgrading and transferring and getting operational again is real and immediate. I get about 200 emails a day; Missing a day upgrading hardware means missing sleep catching up. I’m keeping this laptop until the heat death of the universe, even if the M-series is better. It’s not better enough to make upgrading worth while.
[2] which I only stopped using because the buttons literally wore out. As in the watch still works, but the buttons have been used so much they are literally worn through. Yes, the 735/520/Fenix 6/530 that replaced it are better (for N times the price they ought to be), but I’d have never upgraded that wonder if I simply hadn’t worn it out completely.
[3] This should be harder to bork up. I can imagine this causing a minor problem if I think the GMT is set to Berlin or Australia and it’s gone to Bumfuck instead.
[4] Despite having a whole Maps department, Apple still thinks I live in a different city, even though the city limit is a couple of miles from here. This doesn’t explain the temp and AQI discrepancy, as it isn’t right for there either. I assume this is carried over from Dark Sky, as it had the same problem, as does the Ecobee. The LA basin has many microclimes, and the temp, weather, and AQI here can be wildly different just a few miles away. Just like the Bay Area, where all these techbros are from.
[5] Finally with the 2nd Gen AirPod Pro, you can adjust the volume without pulling out your phone, but I can’t imagine trying to skip tracks or adjust volume while going 30 miles an hour or standing on the pedals. And I still figure that I’m one hard bump from losing the AirPod, so I’m going to use the Shuffles until the battery finally dies. Though I may be stuck with the current playlist if my old MBP with iTunes on it dies, as the new versions of Music don’t support the Shuffle at all.

Bike mechs

Sometime in the distant past, I upgraded from the best bike I could afford when I was in college (Suntour, downtube shifters, Reynolds aluminum, etc.) to a pretty modern CF with 9 gears and brifters! [1] [2] I thought that was pretty sweet, and didn’t ever really see the point in upgrading.

Until, after probably 100k miles, the only place I could get chainrings and cassettes new was on eBay from some dude in the Ukraine for more than $300. See, that bike had the 9-speed mechs that Shimano used for about four years. You couldn’t just upgrade to 10 because the cassette was too wide, and that meant buying new wheels. Not that that’s the worst thing, but when you add up the costs, the parts start looking like more than the cost of an equivalent new bike [3] and why start upgrading an old frame when there’s 11 speed Ultegra, power meters, and disk brakes available on much more aero and forgiving frames?

So after a couple of G&Ts one night, and far too many hours spent on bike forums and eBay, trying to decide whether that Ukrainian dude was really going to send me a new set of chainrings (and after wasting money on a knock-off set that never worked properly), I surfed over to the devil’s website, and found a custom-shop endurance bike in the proper upper-mid range [4] on sale, and sank the cc underwater a bit more.

And that’s been a great bike! Fat frame, moderately adjustable road bike suspension for the increasingly worse roads around here, disk brakes, 11 speed Ultegra, built in mounts for lights and computers and such. No power meter, and no electronic shifting, but that would have been $3k more, as that bike wasn’t on sale. I’ve probably got more than 40k on this bike and it’s fine.

Then the recent events. Bikes hard to find, less travel, gyms closed — bike exercise went up. I started looking at what it would take to get a power meter and electronic shifting on the newer bike. See [3]. Then I lucked into the last upper mid range climbing bike of this years model available in the US, it seems (gathering dust in a store in Texas where people run over bikes, they don’t ride bikes). After shipping here, I had a new modern climbing bike with a power meter, and electronic shifting. Pretty sweet!

Of course, once you have a power meter and electronic shifting, you’re not going to be happy without it, so it’s either sell the other bikes or start upgrading.

Long story short, bike parts started becoming available again, new stuff came out, and the not-so-old bike now has a power meter and electronic shifting! [5] Pretty sweet!

The old bike has been gathering dust except for the occasional commute to work. It still fits me better than the other bikes, though that is probably because after 100k miles, my body is warped to fit it. Some dude did win a number of TdFs on this particular frame, basically unchanged over a number of years [6].

I could have sold it during the recent bike shortage, after getting the new bike, but frankly it’s not worth that much so hardly seemed worth the bother. Sentimental value.

But now I have a complete set of Ultegra 11 speed in a box. The bike tech tells me that the modern 11 speed are much more compact than the old 10 speed, and will fit on the old bike wheel no problem. One new freewheel, new cassette, and new brifters later (and it turns out Ultegra rim brakes are on sale for next to nothing cause nobody wants them anymore), so for less than $1k (including installation), the old bike now has new mechanics [7], better brakes, and a much cleaner cockpit than the old mess. I even got a discount on a power meter, so it’s rocking that too.

Even though in that era, they thought only bozos and groms would use anything bigger than 23mm tires [8], turns out there’s clearance for 30mm tires [9] so now it’s rocking fat[ter] tires and 70 psi instead of 100.

I still think the old bike is a better fit, I like the shaped handlebars better (even if they’re smaller diameter and a PITA to wrap), and I think it’s still faster up hills, even though all three bikes weigh basically the same. It’s clearly the slowest on descents though. The new bike is downright frightening.


[1] does anyone still say that?
[2] c. Yamaha A-970II, Beogram 3404, Klipsch Heresy 704, which I kept using much longer than the bike
[3] funny how that works. Still true today.
[4] Not the top end $10k bike, but with most of the good stuff
[5] Review of relative merits of SRAM and Shimano some time in the future
[6] or so the story goes. That was another time, history has been erased, and none shall speak of it again
[7] that parts should be available for until I’m done, though I wonder if I ought to buy some spare chainrings, a cassette, and brake pads, as it looks like mechanical shifting and rim brakes are about done.
[8] my bike coach, who’s won a WC and Olympic medal, still says he would never ride on anything bigger than 23s, not interested in any evidence otherwise
[9] now I’m wondering about those cheap Chinese CF wheels and tubeless… these KSLs aren’t going to last forever

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