Thanks, Pandemic!

My Weight

According to my blog I've cared about my weight for the last 15 years ago, ever since I realized I was 383 pounds and wanted to be... not 383 pounds. The good news is that I've managed to keep about 120 under that for over a decade. Hurrah!

The bad news? Well, if you look at the chart above you can see that over 2020 my weight trended upward (the dotted line is the overall trend-line... which goes down. I included it because it made me feel good and this is my blog. So deal with it!). I've gained about 25 pounds or so over the last year, which is less than ideal.

As I looked into this I wanted to figure out why I might have gained this weight when I've been pretty good about maintaining my weight around 235 pounds or so for awhile. I imagine it might have everything to do with:

  • Global Pandemic Stress
  • Working from home for the last 11 months, with access to all things delicious
  • Worrying about Trump getting re-elected
  • Celebrating Biden getting elected
  • Worrying about armed insurrection

It has been a year, people!

Anyway, I've decided I need to get back on track. This is a little way to hold myself publicly accountable. I've set a goal weight of 230 pounds. I think that's do-able, especially since I'm going to give myself until 2022 to get there. Should be easily doable!


I fell with (and for?) an iPhone 12 Pro Max

The Part in the Recipe you usually skip

When I peel off my disturbingly snug winter tights after a run I usually don’t find pieces of my flesh adhered to them. Thursday night was unusual.

Perhaps I should back up a bit.

I, like many people, have been struggling with healthy habits during the pandemic. There’s a lot going on and sometimes endless treats help. Ok, endless treats ALWAYS help.

That, dear reader, is why I’ve been a member of Weight Watchers for years. And why I’ve been consistently running 4 - 5 times a week. Since I live in the middle of the city it isn’t unusual for me to come across a number of other folks while running. A pre-pandemic mild annoyance transforms into potential danger when all these heavy breathers are shedding virus (a phrase I love) all over the place.

Given my paranoia, I stopped running for a bit and we bought one of them fancy spinning bikes (not that one, this one). I spun exclusively for awhile and it led me on a journey of discovery. I discovered that I have it in me to dislike an exercise even more than I dislike running. I also discovered that Peloton instructors are very fit, very peppy, and very much unlike me.

With winter slowly spreading itself across Philadelphia I figured it would be safe to run after 7pm (post baby bedtime). I figured I wouldn’t run into (ha!) many others on the streets or the river path during the cold, dark night. Turns out I was right, and I’ve adjusted my exercise routine to include both running and spinning.

That’s how I found myself sprawled on the sidewalk in front of an empty church during a chilly early winter Philadelphia evening. Directly before being prone, and slightly moaning, I had been very close to finishing my 3 mile run. I was listening to a podcast and feeling pretty good about myself. I thought to myself, “how far have I gone?” So I took out my brand new iPhone 12 Pro Max to take a peek at Runkeeper.

What a lovely thing that phone is. I opted for “Pacific Blue, ” which I think translates from marketing speak to “kinda blue if you squint in the right light.” Things to love about the phone: Sharp, flat corners and a great camera which almost makes up for the very ugly camera bump. Oh, and the battery life is amazing.

Anyway, I glanced at the completely unshattered screen of my brand new iPhone and saw that I had about 6 minutes left in my run. I didn’t feel like fiddling with my pocket zipper, so I held the iPhone in my hand for the rest of the run.

Up ahead on the dark, cold sidewalk I saw some dude walking down the street. I performed my usual “running in a pandemic” move of swerving as far away from him as possible which lead me to hug the church fence.

What I didn’t notice was the uneven sidewalk ahead of me. I definitely noticed the scrapping sound as my iPhone, hands, and knees skid across the very pebbly sidewalk moments later.

I don’t know if you’ve had a serious fall lately, but it is a rather jarring experience. One moment you’re in complete control of what your body is doing, the next moment you’re hurtling through the air without any time to react in a meaningful way.

The dude I was trying to avoid asked me if I was alright, since he had just seen a rather large man suddenly hit the sidewalk. I glanced at my iPhone and told him I was fine. He walked on.

I stood up and stared at my iPhone. The screen at the lower right corner was pulverized and there was a spiderweb of cracks where before there was but a single sheet of pristine glass.

My running app was still running (ha!) so I couldn’t wallow for too long. I finished my run, which reassured me that I hadn’t broken either of my knees, and then headed home.

Whilst walking home I found out that it is very easy to sign up for Apple Care+ on a brand new iPhone (it covers two instances of accidental damage) which is nice.

Marisa helped assess the damage when I got home. In addition to a broken iPhone I had sacrificed most of the skin on my left knee to the sidewalk, and a good bit of my right knee skin too. My hands had a few cuts, my right elbow was banged up, and I pulled some sort of muscle on my flank. Nothing too serious, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

The iPhone Review Part

But would I recommend the iPhone 12 Pro Max?

If you like big phones I cannot lie: this is a good one. However, if you have a newish phone there’s probably only a few good reasons to update to the 12 Pro Max:

  • If you feel like your current iPhone is slow and you’re eligible for an upgrade, go for it.
  • You want the best camera on an iPhone (the camera is so very good).

Here are some sample images from the camera. Note that I’m not a pro photographer and I’ve done no editing to these pictures (which I’m sure you can tell!). My photographic subjects these days are mostly two 16 month old buys who won’t stand still and random crap in Philadelphia. Not exactly what Apple would pick to highlight the camera, I don’t think.

iPhone 12 Pro Max

It does its best with bouncing babies, but otherwise I think it is does a great job for my needs.

I should note that I had the iPhone 12 Pro Max for about a week, and during the course of that week I took a seemingly unbelievable 438 pictures. I don't know what you should do with that information, but it seems relevant.

That’s really about it, honestly. Battery life is great too, at least it has been for me.

I will say that I’m writing this on my XS Max and this phone, with its rounded sides, feels much better in my hand. The 12 Pro Max looks nicer, though if you’re a case person they’ll both look and feel the same, so what do you care?

There you have it: the iPhone 12 Pro Max (dumb name, by the way) is better than falling down and hurting yourself.


1939

1939

Our washer/dryer combo was out of commission for a couple of weeks, and so I had to make the trek 10 flights up to use the laundry room at the top of our building. This meant that I was in search of quarters on a regular basis. And I found treasure in a glass tiki head (I keep my change in a glass tiki head. Don't you?)!

A 1939 quarter! It isn't worth much since it is in very rough shape (and not from the SF mint), but it is worth more than $.25, so into the washing machine it didn't go

And in light of my last post, it makes me feel a little better about the world in general that this 81 year old coin has made it to my desk somehow.


I have a voting plan

You don’t need me to tell you that lots of people are interested in what’s going to happen after this election cycle.

Here are couple of things you do need to know about me:

  • At one time I considered myself a Republican. I was registered and everything! I was a Rockefeller Republican, socially liberal and fiscally conservative (which today means most Republicans would consider me a socialist).
  • When I realized that the Republican Party was only concerned about the budget when a Democrat was President, and only concerned about keeping the government out of certain aspects of life some people’s lives (I.e. gun owning and being a Christian) I switched to being an Independent.
  • When Donald Trump became the nominee I switched my party to Democrat so I could vote for Hilary in the Primary (and the general election).

This is all to say that I thought Donald Trump was unfit for office before he won, and the last few years have proven it to me.

I have a plan to vote because I worry about what happens if Trump wins, again.

Over the last week I have been called by 6 different voting groups to ask me if I have a plan for voting. I do, so I say yes, which seems to surprise them. Then they say, ok, well... is there one issue you’re most concerned about? To which I reply: the end of civil society and the impending death of democracy.

That either gets silence or a, “Well, that’s a good issue to be concerned about! Thanks!”

Vote! Even if you plan to vote for Trump (though I am honestly dumbfounded by how any reasonable person could vote for Trump, and not because he’s a Republic but because he is so clearly unfit for the job.


I went to a bookstore!

IMG 4253

One thing having kids has taught me (other than kids are gross) is life is much better if you just delight in the little things. Everytime we give Sammy and Declan a sippy cup with water in it they shake it and laugh and laugh. They just love seeing/feeling the water slosh about.

Yesterday I did something I haven't been able to do in months: I went into an actual bookstore and browsed for books (that I didn't need, and yet I bought 4).

It was delightful, though I didn't laugh and laugh because I figured that would have creeped everyone else out.

I look forward to going into a bookstore without a mask and without counting all the customers and comparing that to the number listed on the door as the number of people allowed in at the same time (the actual number was a little higher than the sign said it should be. Tsk, tsk).


Hey, I remember having this blog

I'm still alive, and paying for the blog's hosting. Worry not!

Everything in the world is pretty awful at the moment, but things with our little family are actually pretty good.

No one is sick. We bought the apartment next door to ours that we've been coveting for over a decade, and the boys are only driving us slowly insane.

It is a little odd that I went from thinking I would never want to work from home to doing that for the last 6 months. Now I'm not sure if I want to go back to the office (well, I did like the fact that I could read for an hour during lunch at the office, so there's that).

If anyone is reading this still, let me know how you're doing in the comments!


When Madonna is more Presidential than the President...

Good for her (and the world):

Prime ministers, a king, a prince and Madonna all chipped in to an $8 billion pot to fund a coronavirus vaccine, but President Trump skipped the chance to contribute. Officials in his administration noted that the United States is pouring billions of dollars into its own research efforts.

This article also taught me that Norway isn't part of the EU. Who knew? Probably lots of people, particularly Norwegians, but not me!


Paperclip + Mask = Happy Ears

If you're anything like me, a sensible person who cares about the health of others, you've been wearing a mask whenever you're out and about. You may have also discovered that masks with elastic loops that use your ears as a way to stay pressed against your face are slightly uncomfortable.

There's an easy fix that'll save your ears and press the mask even more tightly to your face. You just need one of these (it is a large paperclip, in case you can't see the lovely picture):

Masks

Which you then attach, like so, to one of the elastic loops:

Masks

Next, slap that mask on your face, place the elastic bands over your ears, and pull them behind your head so you can attach the other loop to the paperclip:

Masks

Adjust for your comfort and then send me a lovely email thanking for for this fantastic tip.

I'm sure there are little doodads you can buy, or 3D print, that do the same thing but you probably already have a paperclip laying around.

I know what you're thinking, "But, Scott, won't I look silly with a paperclip pressed against the back of my head?" There's a global pandemic happening. No one cares what you look like.

Now you're thinking, "Scott, why didn't you include a picture of you wearing a mask so we can see what it looks like on the back of your neck?" I took several of those pictures, dear reader. Trust me, you're better off not seeing them.


Books for me! A future for these stores?

The books I’ve bought during the Pandemic.  No, I have’t read any of them yet.

I feel a little bit like there isn’t much I can do to be helpful during this global pandemic. I’m not a healthworker, I can’t sew (trust me, you wouldn’t want to wear a mask I made. The last time I sewed anything was long, long ago in elementary school. I was in 2nd grade, I think, and preparing to recieve my First Communion. For some reason part of the preparations included spending a morning in our school’s cafeteria where we cut out lamb shapes from fabric, stuffed them, and then sewed them together. My lamb wouldn’t protect anyone from COVID-19 either), and I can’t convince stupid people that wearing a mask isn’t a huge civil liberties problem and the numbers aren’t as bad as predicted because of what we’re doing.

Something I can do, however, is support a few independent booksellers. Which I how I came to own the 20 books above! They are a mix of new and used books from a few of my favorite bookstores (or stores that I went to once and enjoyed):

  • Powell’s - This one shouldn’t be a surprise. I, like many people, love Powell’s for many reasons. Whenever I’m in Portland I stop by and spend more money than I should... and since who knows if air travel will ever happen again I spent a pretty penny using their (not so great) website.
  • Northshire Bookstore - I think we visited this store on our honeymoon... but I don’t know for sure. But they got some of my money anyway!
  • BookPeople - This is a great bookstore in Austin, which I visit and spend way too much money at whenever I’m in Austin. They also have nice t-shirts.
  • A Novel Idea on Passyunk - I haven’t actually visited this bookstore in person, despite the fact that it is in Philadelphia but I want it to continue to exist so I bought some books.

There is one glaring omission on the list above. My favorite bookstore in the world is The Strand. It is a favorite amongst many a book lover but they aren’t shipping books, so I couldn’t order any. I did order myself a gift card to help support them!

Indie Bookstore websites suck

One thing I discovered whilst trying to support independent bookstores I found out that many of them have horrible, horrible, very bad websites. It makes sense since these stores want you to come to their physical locations. They can’t compete with Amazon’s website (which really isn’t all that great either... but it is really easy to find what you’re looking for on Amazon, which is all that matters), so they just ignore their websites.

Bookshop.org is an interesting solution to this problem. It is a service that’ll sell books for indie bookstores and give a percentage to the bookstore. The store won’t make as much from the sale, but they also don’t have to ship books or keep the inventory so that seems like a win to me. And Bookshop.org is a very nicely designed website.