I’ve got no strings

For Christmas I asked for a pair of wireless earbuds for running. I’d been wanting a pair for years to make my running experience more enjoyable, but the technology hadn’t quite evolved enough to meet my expectations. The battery life was too short (only a few hours) and the connectivity issues that I read about were plentiful. In 2017 I made the switch from traditional in-ear running headphones to bone conduction ones instead, specifically Aftershokz Sportz Titanium. They sit in front of your ears and conduct the sound through your cheekbones so that ambient noise isn’t blocked at all. I was skeptical, but after my first wearing I was in love. They allowed me to better hear my running buddies conversations, traffic noise, or whatever, and they didn’t make my ears ache after wearing them for a long time. Marathons are tough on your ears if your earbuds aren’t comfortable! This was a hefty upgrade for me. So when I saw that Aftershockz had a new and improved wireless model, Trekz Air, I put them on my Christmas list. So far they have exceeded all of my expectations. Not only are they wireless, which removes one major annoyance from my running experience, but they are also light and incredibly comfortable. In addition, they have easily accessible volume and music control which my wired pair is lacking. I absolutely love them and I’ve worn them for all of my races in 2018. (The photo above is from the Pasadena 5K last month.) I think this is the beginning of a beautiful fitness relationship. Definitely one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received.

An unexpected day

I am now the reluctant owner of a new iPhone 7. This is not how I expected this day to go. I left work a little early on my first day back after the holidays to try and restore my ailing iPhone 6. I had an appointment at Best Buy to hopefully get the battery replaced, but it was a short visit because the Geek Squad told me they weren’t authorized to do that. Since none of the local Apple stores had any appointments available before I have to leave for Orlando I saw my chance to have a reliable cell phone on my trip slipping away. So in an act of desperation I got in my car and headed to the South Coast Plaza location to beg for help from any employee that would listen. By the time I got there even the store’s walk in queue was closed for the day because they were so busy. I was at the end of my rope. I almost started crying while talking to a manager. At this point I made a desperate decision to solve the problem by throwing money at it. Hence the iPhone 7. I hadn’t planned on making for such an extravagant purchase today, but it was the fastest and easiest way to have a fully functional cell phone before Friday. A half hour later I walked out of the Apple Store with a brand new phone that will hopefully last me for a few years. It’s not that I won’t get my money’s worth out of the iPhone 7, but it’s disappointing that I had to go to such lengths just because the new operating system didn’t play nicely with my old iPhone 6 battery. The upside is that I have the latest and greatest technology, including an upgraded camera, to play with while I’m at Disney World. Happy early birthday to me!

Adding to my unexpected day I skipped boot camp this evening. It took me 45 minutes to get home from South Coast Plaza in rush hour traffic which barely gave me enough time to get ready and make it to boot camp by 7 PM. I quickly checked my Facebook messages as soon as I walked in the door to find out that my workout buddy was wavering on going to the gym. That was excuse enough for me to suggest that we go to tomorrow’s class instead. The last thing I needed today was more stress. Suddenly I had no plans for the night and no desire to go running again after three straight days and 18 miles. I hardly knew what to do with an unplanned rest day! Luckily I had more than enough chores to keep me occupied. And even with all of the extra free time I had from skipping boot camp I’ve stay up too late writing this post. I have a feeling I’m not going to get a lot of sleep before I leave for Orlando on Friday. No more rest days until then!

Holidays are over

Today was the last day of my holiday break which means that I have to go back to work tomorrow. I’m not crazy about that prospect, but I’ve had a paid vacation since December 23rd so I can’t really complain. If I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to that’s my own fault. Today didn’t really help me feel like my time off was well spent either. Unfortunately I spent most of the day trying to figure out what’s wrong with my stupid iPhone. A couple of days ago I noticed that the battery was draining very rapidly (losing 50% in about 15 minutes) even with very light phone usage. At first I thought it was due to my new Garmin watch that was connected via Bluetooth or some of the new running apps I added recently. However, reverting those changes didn’t fix the problem. I won’t bore you with the details, but as of this afternoon I’ve tried everything in my power to resolve the issue, including completely wiping the phone and restoring the factory settings. This is particularly because I need a reliable phone for my marathon and I’m leaving for Orlando on Friday morning. I have an appointment at Best Buy tomorrow to perhaps replace the battery. From what I’ve read in Apple forums this was the only thing that seemed to help at all, even though my battery passed a diagnostic test at a local repair shop. If my poor phone is still afflicted after that I’ll have to walk in to an Apple Store on Wednesday without an appointment and hope they have a solution. Let’s just hope the “solution” isn’t simply a brand new phone. I’m not really ready for that yet, but I may not have much of a choice. Kinda like my car buying experience last spring! I’ll let you know how it goes.

There was some good news today – Florida beat Iowa in the Outback Bowl! Go Gators! It was a lot of fun to watch them win a game after the disappointing end to the regular season. Let’s hope that this portends a promising 2017 season for Florida. I guess we’ll have to wait until the fall to find out. Right now I need to go to bed so I can get up on time for work tomorrow morning. My holiday break ended with a bit of a whimper, but I still had a relaxing and fairly productive week and a half. Now it’s time to put the holidays behind me and get started on 2017. My Christmas tree won’t come down until after I get home from Orlando, though. I didn’t put it up until December 18th this year so I’m going to enjoy it for a little longer. Happy January everyone!

Technology trials

Written on my flight from Miami to Tallahassee on 11/22/16:

I love technology. How else could I have written and published a blog post while on an airplane today? I also found some potential Thanksgiving vegetable recipes and emailed them to my mom, as well as chatted with some friends on Facebook Messenger. It’s truly amazing. I’m anxiously awaiting the day when inflight wifi has enough bandwidth to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime content. That will make traveling infinitely more entertaining. Speaking of Amazon Prime, I am hoping to have a chance to watch the first episode of “The Grand Tour,” the new motoring show with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, while I’m in Tallahassee. I’ve been looking forward to it for months.

In a similar vein, Run Disney published the registration dates for all of their late 2017 through early 2018 races this morning and everyone is a bit baffled. Usually registration for these races opens around seven or eight months before the race date. And you usually have to sign up immediately since you never know how quickly a race will sell out. (It varies from within 30 minutes to never, and it’s impossible to predict.) However, it looks like the lead time for upcoming Run Disney races has increased to nine or ten months now. In fact, my friends and I have to register for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in about two weeks! So much for waiting to recoup some of my holiday spending before giving hundreds of dollars to the Disney Corporation.

Speaking of giving money to Disney (one of my favorite pastimes), the other day I got wind of an email that had supposedly been sent to all of the 2016 Avengers Half Marathon Weekend participants inviting them to pre-register for next year at a discount. This is unheard of for Run Disney! My biggest gripe is that even as an incredibly loyal participant who ran all three Avengers races in 2016 I didn’t receive this fabled email! With a desire to maintain my legacy status for the fourth year I would most definitely jump at the chance to sign up for 2017 now before the official registration begins. But for some reason I was left off that particular mailing list. I was so disappointed! Luckily one of the members of my Galloway running group was kind enough to share the link with me today so I should be able to pre-register after all. Thank goodness for understanding runner friends!

Notes as of 11/29/16:

I have now finished watching the first episode of “The Grand Tour” and it was amazing! I was only able to watch the first half of it while I was in Florida because I had to get my parent’s TV to connect to Amazon Prime first. This required ordering a Roku streaming stick which only arrived on Saturday afternoon. Also, I did successfully sign up for the 2017 Avengers Half Marathon Weekend last Tuesday so that’s one Disney race registration that I have out of the way. The Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend registration is coming up next Thursday so I’m going to have one hefty credit card bill coming in December!

Thank goodness for technology

Thank goodness for technology. I was getting caught up on this season of “Arrow” this afternoon when I accidentally deleted the most recent episode before watching it. Oops! Obviously I still have some things to learn about my DVR. Luckily cable TV providers aren’t the only game in town anymore. (Actually the first place I looked for the episode was Time Warner’s On Demand catalog, but it wasn’t there. Two strikes for cable TV.) Instead I turned to my iPad. It only took a few minutes to download the CW app and start watching last week’s episode. Not too many years ago I would have had to wait for summer reruns to see whatever I’d missed! But now with readily available episodes of just about every television show you could ever want to see streaming online, my little DVR mistake made no difference at all. I love it! I’ve been under a lot of pressure at work lately and watching TV when I get home each evening helps me unwind. Unfortunately it also keeps me from getting an optimal number of chores done around the house, but it’s a small price to pay for stress relief. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to relax and watch Sunday’s “Once Upon A Time” before going to bed!

iPhone repairs

This time last year I pre-ordered an iPhone 6 and I was so excited about it. I’d been living with a broken screen on my iPhone 5 after dropping it a few months earlier and I was pretty fed up with pieces of glass falling off all over the place. Instead of paying to fix it I just waited for the new model to be released and replaced it instead. (I’m not sure if this was smart or sad. Maybe a little of both.) And then, of course, just a few months after getting my pristine iPhone 6, I dropped it and cracked the glass. Aargh. I was so annoyed with myself. As a preventive measure I usually keep my phone in a case, but I have to take the case off when I go running so that the phone will fit in my pocket. Of course I was taking the phone out of my pocket at the end of a run when I dropped it on the sidewalk and broke it. And since the phone still worked fine I’d just been using it as-is since then. I figured I’d just wait for the iPhone 6S announcement and pre-order the new model. Easy, right? Well, the announcement happened last Wednesday. But when I logged in and discovered how much is was going to cost me to get an iPhone 6S I couldn’t believe the price. It was way too high for me to even consider. So I decided to finally make an appointment at the Apple Store to get my current phone fixed. I can’t believe I put it off for so long! It only cost me a little over $100 and an hour of my time, and now it’s like I have a brand new phone. Now to find a new case that it is slim enough that I don’t have to remove it when I go running. I found a couple of very low profile cases that I’d like to try. Hopefully one of those does the trick. I know this is a first world problem of the highest order, but I use my phone for everything so I’m much happier having one that’s back in one piece!

2015 Resolution #2

New Year’s Resolution #2: Less screen time

I know I’ve said this many times before, but I watch too much television. Besides the fact that I have amassed way too many shows that I DVR every week, I really just like having the TV on in general when I’m at home. I like the noise and the entertainment, but I am fully aware that I should cut back. So this year I decided to finally start making some progress on that front. The first thing I did was give my eyes a break at bedtime. I used to watch TV on my iPad while getting ready for bed every night and then leave the Time Warner app running as I fell asleep. Usually I just found some channel or another that was showing old sitcom reruns which acted like a white noise machine as I drifted off to dreamland. But beginning on New Year’s Day I stopped that completely. Now I listen to either podcasts (Nerdist or Fresh Air) or the radio (via the iHeartRadio app) when I’m getting ready for bed, and then turn it off when I’m ready to go to sleep. And it’s been quite nice, actually. Considerable reduction of eye strain and elimination of potentially sleep ruining blue light from my electronics! However, I do read on my iPad Mini after I get into bed, but since mid-December I’ve had a blue light filter on it. I don’t want to discourage nightly reading (especially since one of my resolutions last year was to read every night before bed), but I also want to improve the quality of my sleep. And I think the blue light filters on my iPads have been working so far. I actually bought one for my laptop as well, but it was defective so I had to ask the company to send me a replacement. There were a few small creases on the screen that made application without air bubble completely impossible (and incredibly frustrating). But that’s beside the point right now. What I wanted to report today is that I’ve started making strides to cut back on my TV viewing. Hopefully I’ll have a lot more progress to share throughout the year. I’ll keep you posted!

Ten days ’til Christmas

It’s December 15th and Christmas is in ten days. Fortunately I’ve got almost all of my Christmas shopping done, with just a couple of stocking stuffers to pick up after I get to Florida next week. (Anything I don’t have to cram into my suitcase is good.) My little Christmas tree and other decorations have been in place in my apartment for almost two weeks, and I even sent out all of my Christmas cards in early December. I’m ahead of the game for once! More than I could have possibly imagined, actually. Believe it or not, I’ve already gotten started on my resolutions for 2015. I know it’s a bit early, but I’ve put a lot of thought into some changes I want to make next year. I think I’ve made some great strides in 2014 and I want to keep moving in the right direction in 2015. I’m still compiling/clarifying/simplifying the new resolutions so I’ll save the whole list for next year, but there’s one I want to at least mention now. In a nutshell: Less screen time. I’ve always admitted that I watch too much television (I’ve got “The Simpsons” on right now) so starting in January I’m going to make a concerted effort to cut back on time spent in front of the TV. I’ll still watch my favorite shows (DVRed, as usual), but other mindless couch-potato impressions will not be tolerated! One of the ways I’m going to do this is to ban iPad TV/movie watching while getting ready for bed. I know the glow from the screen impacts the quality of my sleep so I will turn off almost all of my electronic gadgets (laptop included) at night. There was one little problem with this resolution, however. How do I reconcile reading in bed on my iPad Mini? Easy! I ordered a blue light filter for it that will let me read as much as I want, but hopefully keep the iPad from messing with my natural sleep cycles. Brilliant! The filters should be here tomorrow and I can’t wait to start using them on both of my iPads. I should probably look for a filter for my laptop as well, but one step at a time!

iPhone 6 considerations

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I like about my new iPhone 6. That’s not a question I have an easy answer to. In general, I’ve found that the iPhone 6 is pretty much exactly the same as the iPhone 5, at least as far as actual operation goes. The fingerprint recognition is pretty cool, but I don’t use it. My phone is mostly for simple stuff like Facebook, Twitter, and email, as well as using Map My Run to keep track of my half marathon training. So when people ask what I like about my iPhone 6, I usually try to come up with something other than the fact that the glass isn’t shattered and falling off, like on my old iPhone 5. Even though it works great, I guess I’m not exactly in love with the iPhone 6. In fact, there are a few minor things I’m not a fan of. Like the size. Granted, the iPhone 6 isn’t all that much bigger than it’s predecessor, but I’ve added a case (to avoid the spiderweb effect if I drop it) which exacerbates the issue. I’ve become accustomed to carrying my phone around in the back pocket of my jeans (I don’t have a purse I like anymore), but that’s not nearly as easy as it used to be with the size of the iPhone 6 plus the case. Also, it’s much more difficult to go running with a larger phone. Some of my shorts and capris have back pockets which are perfect for stashing my phone while running. No extra belt needed. But now with the iPhone 6 I can barely squeeze it into those pockets or into the storage pouch on my hydration belt (for longer runs), and that’s with the case removed! And taking the case off every other day or so is no picnic. As much as I like the case I bought (it has little rubber grips to make it easier to hold and less likely to slide off of other surfaces), I might need to invest in one that’s a little less difficult to remove for running. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sorry I got an iPhone 6, but it’s going to take a little getting used to. The good news is that I’ve discovered the beauty of running pants with side pockets. The two pairs that I’ve gotten recently have pockets on the outside of the thighs that are the perfect size for my iPhone. Also, it makes the phone much more accessible for changing the music or checking my run progress. I love those pants so much that I’ve ordered another couple of pairs so that I’ll have plenty of options for running this fall and winter. So despite my complaints, I still take my phone with me everywhere I go and use it all the time. I wouldn’t have it any other way!