thu, 29-dec-2011, 13:56

Skiing home

This year I’ve made a serious effort to improve my physical fitness. I started lifting weights in August, and worked hard to commute to work as much as I could by bicycle (6.7 miles each way) or ski (4.1 miles). I commuted on 102 days this year, which is 40% of the possible work days in the year. I also spent a lot of time out on the trails with our now 15-year old dog, Nika. In May, I set up a standing desk at work, and as I’ll demonstrate below, this is a significant improvement over spending all those hours sitting, at least for energy consumption. As a result of all this, I feel like I am in the best shape of my life, and that makes me feel good as I enter middle age.

Here’s the summary of what I did this year (details on the calculations appear below):

2011 Activities
Activity Miles Hours Speed Energy
Skiing 268.35 54.25 4.98 27,685
Bicycling 960.22 69.67 13.86 38,606
Hiking 201.06 81.56 2.53 28,750
Skating 3.49 0.75 4.65 236
Lifting   56.10   19,775
TOTAL 1,442 263.91   115,976

The other thing I did was start standing up at my desk at work. I spent 1,258 hours at my desk after I started standing. According to the Compendium of Physical Activities, standing at work consumes 2.3 metabolic equivalent units (MET). This is the ratio of work metabolic rate over resting metabolic rate, which would be 1.0 MET. Thus, standing uses an additional 1.3 MET over resting. Sitting at a desk is 1.5 MET, which means standing adds 0.8 MET.

To use these numbers, you need an estimate of your resting metabolic rate. Using the Mifflin et al. equation on this page I get 1,691 Kcal/day, or 70.5 Kcal per hour for my height, weight, and age. For those 1,258 hours standing at work I burned an additional 71 thousand calories: 1,258 • 0.8 • 70.5 = 70,951 Kcal (the “calories” reported on food labels are technically kilocalories (Kcal) in energy units). That’s a lot of energy, just by standing instead of sitting.

The energy values in the table above were also calculated using the same methods. I fiddled with the tabular values from the compendium and got the following approximations:

• Running MET = 1.653 • speed (mph)
• Skiing = ((speed - 2.5) / 2) + 7
• Bicycling = speed - 5
• Hiking = 6
• Skating = 5.5
• Lifting = 6

Despite the amount of energy consumed by standing instead of sitting at work, I think there is a real benefit to the more intense exercises listed in the table. These strengthen and build skeletal and cardiovascular muscle in ways that simply standing all day don’t.

When all the numbers are totaled, I burned an extra 512 calories (318 exercising, 194 standing) each day in 2011. That’s certainly worth a beer or two, and I look and feel better for it even drinking them!

sat, 24-dec-2011, 13:25

Lupine Pico X

This year I've made a real effort to commute to work on my bicycle or skis as much as I can. It's a 6.7 mile bicycle ride and 4.1 miles on the ski trails. A lot of this commuting is done in the dark, and until last week I'd been using a Petzl headlamp with an incandescent bulb, powered by four C-cell batteries. It's adequate when the batteries are fresh, and there aren't any cars around or moose on the trail. Unfortunately, when I really need to see where a moose has gone, or when a car is blasting its headlights in my face, I might as well not even have the light. Car headlights are so much brighter than the headlamp that the road literally disappears for as long as a minute after they've passed while my eyes readjust.

Not anymore. Last weekend I bought a 750 lumen, rechargeable LED headlamp made by Lupine. It's the Pico X model, and comes with a charger, headlamp strap, and a extension cord for the battery. As you can see in the bottom photo above, the battery pack is quite small, as is the lamp itself.

The upper photos attempt to demonstrate how much light it puts out (left side is at night with the headlamp, right side is a daytime photo). It's about 250 feet from where I'm standing to the line of trees across the street from our driveway, and they are clearly illuminated by the headlamp (although it's hard to see in the photo). Basically, everything I can see during the daylight photo is visible with the headlamp at its brightest.

The spotlight is easily bright enough to compete with a car headlight, even with its high-beams on, and according to the documentation, the battery will power the headlamp at this brightness for two hours before needing a recharge. The lamp also has two lower brightness modes, with longer battery life.

The whole package is expensive—\$360—but it really makes a huge difference in how much you can see around you. The company I work for (ABR) pays us to use alternative forms of transportation to get to work, and my efforts this year will just about pay for the headlamp. A perfect way to spend my benefit and improve my future non-motorized travels.

sat, 05-nov-2011, 15:28

Stairs in sunlight

We got another couple inches of snow last night, and while we don't yet have enough for me to ski to work, it certainly looks like winter. Winter in Fairbanks may be cold (OK, very cold), but it's also very sunny and because the angle of the sun is so low, the light is orange and gorgeous.

Nika

Squirrel on the water tank

tags: Fairbanks  winter  sun
sun, 30-oct-2011, 09:58

Dolphins in HD

Yesterday I saw that CBS was going to show the Dolphins this morning. Ho hum, another almost unwatchable low-definition sporting event on our local CBS network. But it’s the Dolphins, so I watched anyway. When the picture started to flicker at 7-2, I switched to the other location for CBS, 13-1, and like magic, it was in High Definition! I don’t know if this is just for live sporting events (like the NBC affiliate in Fairbanks), but it sure looks great.

Even stranger, the Dolphins are currently beating the Giants 14–3. If they’re not careful, they might win a game this season!

tags: Fairbanks  HD  TV
sun, 16-oct-2011, 09:41

The deck, 2011-10-15

It's been forever since I've made a blog post, mostly because I've spent the last three months building a new deck on our house. We had a deck on the south and east sides of the house, but after building the arctic entryway last summer, the part of the deck on the east side had to be removed. For this project, I added a new deck in front of the arctic entryway that connects to the part of the old deck that's on the south side of the house, and replaced all of the old deck boards on that section of the deck. This was a lot of work. I don't have the exact number but I've driven more than 2,500 screws in the last three months, and removed at least a third of that many pulling up the old decking.

I finished the stairs and stair railings on the entry section of the deck yesterday just in time; this morning we had a quarter of an inch of snow on the ground.

The top photo shows what the deck looked like yesterday, the bottom photo shows what it looked like this morning.

I bought one new tool for this project, a Ridgid cordless drill. This was because the deck screws from the old part of the deck were Phillips head and I knew I wanted to use square drive screws for the new sections. I figured I would use my corded drill to drive the new screws, and the cordless drill to remove the old ones. It turned out that the old screws were both Phillips and square drive so I only needed one drill. I used the cordless. It was fantastic. One big improvement over the corded drill, that I didn't realize is that it has a much higher RPM, which means it's much faster to drive (or remove) screws. Add to that the lighter weight and that I didn't have to drag a cord around and it's now one of my favorite tools. The only thing that managed to bog it down was drilling half-inch holes through wet pressure-treated 4x4s.

The deck, 2011-10-16

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