Random stuff not worthy of a full post:
The Garmin Forerunner
Awhile back, I mentioned that I had to send back my FitBit because the heart monitor was way off. I went with a Garmin Forerunner instead. A reader emailed this week to ask if I like the Forerunner, since I never mentioned it again.
Yes, I do like it. I’ve compared the heart-rate reading to a manual reading several times, both before and during workouts. It’s always spot-on. I also like how I can press one of the buttons a few times and see my heart rate for a moment without leaving the watch mode. So I guess it’s a case of getting what you pay for. The FitBit was cheaper, but not up to snuff.
My plan was to monitor my heart rate during aerobic sessions on the bike. I’ve been using the bike to do sprints a few mornings per week, but haven’t had much time to do those longer aerobic sessions because …
Tighter schedule – yeah, I like I needed that
For a few years, programmers at the contracting job were encourage to share a cubicle. Half the week at home, half in the office. I worked at home Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings. It was great. No commute time at all for the firs two days of the week. I’d sleep until 8:00, wake up slowly with a cup of coffee, work until 5:30 or so, then turn my attention to the book. On Wednesdays, I’d put in a few hours at home, then stop at the gym for my workout on the way to the office.
Ahhh, the good old days. They’re gone. Someone high up the totem pole decided earlier this year that programmers need to work in the office every day. Why? Yeah, we asked that too. The only explanation I heard is that a few people abused the work-at-home days — as in not really working much at home.
Now, if I were in management, I’d handle that problem by requiring the bad apples to work in the office every day and let those who didn’t abuse the system continue spending half the week at home. But I’m not in management. So now I’ve got the long commute five days per week. I’m up early every day so I can be at my desk by 9:30. I’m up earlier if I want to squeeze in a workout at the gym. No more waking up slowly with the big cup of coffee.
It’s pointless to leave downtown Nashville at 5:30 PM. That just means sitting in rush-hour traffic. So now I put in my programming time, eat a quick dinner, then stay at the office for another couple of hours to write. It’s the only way I’ll get the book done on schedule. It’s also affected my eating habits …
Chareva’s every bit as busy as I am. Chickens, dogs, the cat, the girls with their gymnastics classes and school activities … all those mommy chores add up. Meanwhile, she’s working through tutorials on InDesign so she can lay out the book. Oh, and there are all those cartoons and graphics yet to produce.
Once I had to start working downtown every weekday, I told her to forget about making me a lunch and a dinner to pack every day. She doesn’t need the extra workload. So I started taking – egads! – packaged food to the office for dinner some days.
I’m a big believer in not letting perfect become the enemy of good. There are no perfect meals-to-go in grocery stores, at least not that I can find. But I found that many of the Atkins dinners are at least good. They are (duh) low in carbs and reasonably high in protein. A lot of the other “diet” meals out there consist of pasta, a bit of protein, and a bit of fat.
When I check the ingredients for higher-protein meals from most other brands, textured soy protein always seems to be high on the list. The Atkins dinners at least use meat instead of meat substitutes. There are bits of other ingredients in there you wouldn’t use at home (what the heck is corn protein, anyway?) but overall, I think I can eat these things without trashing my body. That’s the hope, anyway.
My main complaint — with all brands — is the portion size. They actually brag on the boxes, Only 330 calories! To which I’d reply, What adult male is going to be satisfied with a 330-calorie dinner?! So I always end up eating two of them.
The dinners aren’t real-food perfect, but I found a real-food snack bar that doesn’t have soy protein, or corn protein, or any other fake-food nonsense. Well, I didn’t find it. It found me. The owner of Nutty Crunch bars (who is also personal trainer and fitness buff) sent an assortment for the family to try.
I liked them. Chareva liked them. The girls liked them. The bars are crunchy and tasty. They’re low in carbs too, despite a bit of sweet taste. Here’s the list of ingredients, which varies only slightly among the different flavors:
Coconut chips, almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, organic coconut oil, organic raw honey, egg whites, organic molasses, Celtic sea salt, Madagascar vanilla or cinnamon.
That’s it. No chemical names. There are seven carbs in a bar, but three of those are fiber. Six grams of protein as an added bonus.
I’m not in business with the guy or anything. I don’t make advertising or profit-sharing deals for any of the products I mention on the blog. So if I say I like something, it’s because I like it and think it’s worth sharing.
A quote about doctors
A reader emailed to share some quotes from a 1988 book titled What Every Engineer Should Know About Artificial Intelligence. The first quote is from a chapter on expert systems:
Rule-based expert systems are purely empirical in that the expert system knows nothing of any underlying causality. Rules encode experiential observations, such as “This disease is associated with fever,” “That disease is accompanied by certain chemicals in the urine,” or “Watch hydraulic pressure for a few hours after the pump is adjusted,” without including any information about why these rules work. Such systems are called “shallow systems” and are said to use “shallow reasoning.” Rule-based expert systems are common in medicine because doctors are not taught much about disease mechanisms.
Right. They’re taught which drugs to prescribe when the body breaks down, not how to prevent it from breaking down. The second quote is a footnote to the first:
There is so much purely diagnostic information taught in medical school that there is little time to explain the underlying mechanisms of disease. Doctors seem not to need to know much about the causes of disease to make successful diagnoses; tracking down causes is left for epidemiologists. Medical school has been described as a place where students learn correlations and ignore causation. A student may be taught to treat gall bladder cancer with a certain drug. They are not taught that the drug is a metabolic poison that damages rapidly growing cancer cells more than it harms normal cells. This explains side effects such as hair loss because hair cells grow rapidly, but there are so many rules to learn that there is no time for such deeper details. Medical training is based on memorization of shallow rules.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
I believe the rush-hour traffic has subsided. Time to make that commute home – just like on every other friggin’ weekday now.
I sure hope that book sells a million copies. Then I’ll only commute the kitchen and back.