Cooling Cars

July 9th, 2018 by Potato

In today’s Globe, Andre Picard points out that technologies to help prevent/reduce deaths of small children and animals in cars already exist.

He doesn’t mention technologies to cool cars though, which I think are also important, perhaps moreso than alarms.

The first, and most important to bring up, is heat-rejecting ceramic tint. It’s inexpensive, can be applied to any car after-market — even your existing car, right now — and helps with just the general summertime comfort in addition to slowing the rate at which your car turns from comfortable to uncomfortable to deadly oven. I got mine done 8 years ago, it cost $284 at the time, and can’t recommend it highly enough — there is such a huge difference in the amount of heat coming through the side/back windows vs. the untinted front window, and the car is so much cooler than other peoples’ cars (esp. untinted rental cars that we have for a week here or there on vacation). If you’re in Toronto and need a recommendation, I had FormulaOne Pinnacle tint installed by Auto-Links in Scarborough, but there should be a tint place in pretty much every city that will install a heat-rejecting ceramic film for you (note that most tint, like the one you may have had installed at the factory or by a dealer on your new car, is a metallic or dyed film that helps a bit in the sun, but is not as good at reducing heat).

I should mention that while I love it, it’s not a panacea: the car will still get hot, just not as hot as fast. You’ll still need to not leave a living thing in the car, so you’ll need good practices/habits and maybe even an alarm or reminder to help with that. Still, the difference between having an hour and several hours before something horrible happens could make all the difference.

The second is more built-in to the car, and not an option I went for myself, but I’m surprised it hasn’t become as popular as keyless entry and backup cameras did: a solar roof to provide the power to keep the fans running when it’s hot and sunny.

Day 7

July 8th, 2018 by Potato

Day 7. The wild calories continue to call at me. Their taunts and siren songs pick up at sunset. So far I have not been tempted out to the wilderness to investigate…

It’s been a week of actually doing the stuff I’ve known all along I should have been doing, and things are going well. I’ve run a calorie deficit every day. I’ve lost over a pound in a week — an amount that took 3 months in my “let’s just fart about with trying to eat a bit more sensibly and be a bit more active.” None of this should be much of a surprise (except the surprise that I’ve actually been good for a whole week).

I’m not physically hungry at all, so far it’s a fairly achievable calorie deficit. I’m taking a bit of a cue from the intermittent fasting ideas, with late breakfasts (~10-11am) and no snacking after 10pm, which I think helps, as I’m used to the idea of missing breakfast in a crazy morning rush. Psychologically I’m craving all the things. Like, I just want to transmute my stress into nothingness via the catalysis of chocoloate, even though that is a reversible reaction, with some nasty by-products. I’ve been whining, and likely will continue until I get to the point where eating healthy is more natural, and where I don’t want to eat a box of cookies just to prove that I can complete some kind of task.

The deeper question is how did I get here, and how would I get here on purpose faster in the future? Whether it’s losing weight, starting to budget, or starting some uncomfortable project, how can you get to the point where you actually just buckle down and do it? I don’t recall a particular epiphany — hitting my never weight should have taken me right to this point, but instead it took another year and a half to actually take it seriously and use all the tools at my disposal. My dad getting sick did re-surface the idea of mortality, but then why July 1st and not June 1st?

It’s an important question, because while I expect I’ll be good next week, and hope I’ll be good the week after, and the week after that, ad nauseum, I know there will come a time where I will slack off or fail. And when that happens, how will I dust myself off and get myself back here again? How, when I’m not sure how I finally stumbled in in the first place? For that matter, I’m not even quite sure what it is that I stumbled upon: willpower? Wisdom? The incubation time for a good idea to finally take root?

Anyway, had a decent week health-wise. There have been other decent weeks, but this one felt a little more on purpose, what with the tracking and not eating all the timbits when work got busy. Not quite sure how I managed it or how to do it again.

Never Weight – Q2-18 Update

July 3rd, 2018 by Potato

The last update featured some ups and downs and a near miss. This quarter was more of the same: a few good weeks, a few weeks of kummerspeck. Lots of walking: I hit my step goal ~5 days out of 7 on average, and there were only 3 weeks in the quarter where I didn’t hit it at least 4 days. But, curling season is over and I didn’t do much other exercise (other than the brief period of teaching Blueberry to ride her bike). At one point I was down over 2 lbs from the previous weigh-in, at another I was up over 3. But the see-saw did end down on the quarter end, by just a hair over a pound.

Taking three months to lose a pound doesn’t seem right to celebrate, because that’s almost down in the noise, and way slower than my target. But I did cross down through a threshold, which is good! The directionality is correct! And it felt hard, even if the results aren’t impressive. So it means the price of the course is going to go up! The next stop on the way back up to $299 (as my weight comes down to my target) is $229.

To really challenge myself I should probably make the thresholds a moving target, but right now I’m going to take the small victory and think about insanity mode for 2019.

I know that tracking what I eat will help, and I haven’t been doing it. So I started today. Right now I’m trying the function built into the fitbit app, but might just use a small paper journal in the end. Either way, I know that how I do it will be less important than that I do it at all.

The quarter also marks the start of the 20th anniversary year of BbtP. The day the site went live way, way back then is an ill-defined day near the end of the year, lost to the sands of time, so we’ll arbitrarily align with the winter solstice. Of course, celebrations are premature. I’ve wanted to update the design, etc. (maybe enable https?), and thought this would be the natural time for an update (maybe even a complete “rebranding”) but just don’t have the time/energy for it. And given that my posting frequency is way down, with more meta/health update posts, to an outside observer all signs must be indicating that the blog is in terminal decline, so perhaps we should open up the ideas for anniversary celebrations to a long-overdue euthanasia.

The Big C

June 18th, 2018 by Potato

Yeah, I’ve been silent a while. Long story short, my dad got sick and I had to take him to the hospital. That was two and a half weeks ago. Turns out the root cause of the problem that sent him there was cancer, which is always a scary thing to hear. But it’s looking like it’s operable (or in my dad’s words, “good cancer”), and this is his third go-round with the Emperor of All Maladies, so he’s taking it in stride (or at least with a brave face). He’s got his RBCs back up and is on his feet again, so despite a rough week in the hospital and now a surgery to look forward to, things are actually getting back to normal.

Of course, I had to wait until that point before saying anything to make sure most of my relatives and my parents’ friends were able to find out from them directly, rather than reading about it on the blog.

As for me, I don’t recall eating particularly poorly, but stress eating is a thing I suck at. I was doing mostly ok on the weightloss front up until this, but unless I turn things around in the next two weeks for quarter-end weigh-in, I’m likely going to end up higher than last check-in.

Anyway, father’s day was great. Blueberry and I watched almost 3 hours of the Magic Schoolbus (or she watched while I snoozed, because I definitely didn’t go into that with a plan for 3 hours of “screen time”), she played with garbage and claimed it was “the best day ever!”, I got 4 loads of laundry done, and she gave me cupcakes. I’m not really selling it here, but I really, really like being a daddy, and it’s a good time to stop and reflect on that.

Horse-Sized Ducks

May 31st, 2018 by Potato

There’s a common internet question: would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck? I’m currently just being destroyed by a bunch of small tasks/projects. A single big grant can be a lot of work to put together, with many lost hours of sleep (and potential pounds of weight gained) in the process of getting it done. But though it’s a grind, I don’t feel so completely overwhelmed in the process. Conversely, the cluster of small tasks is draining: there’s always another little bugger ready to sneak up and poke you in the back, and there’s definitely high task-switching costs.

So put me in the horse-sized duck camp. If project A is only 10% the work of project B, 10 project As together end up being way more draining effort (for me) than project B alone.
Blueberry is watching Star Wars now, and it looks like Luke Skywalker is also a horse-sized duck guy: the point where he really starts to falter and look really scared in the fight against Vader in Empire is not in the straight-up lightsaber duel (where Vader is legendary, but admittedly not trying to kill him), but when Vader starts hitting him with Force-thrown objects coming from all sides. And then the rancor is no sweat.

Conversely, my man Obi-wan seems to prefer having a bunch of smaller problems. Battle droids pose no problem for him, and he’s fearless walking alone into the heart of the Death Star, crawling with Stormtroopers. But he has real trouble with one-on-one fights with Jango Fett and Grievous, and Count Dooku WTFpwns him. Twice.