App Review: Endomondo–An Exercise Companion

Yup. I’ve actually taken that step: I plan on using an exercise app. SEE? I’m committed to this weight loss and health thing. I downloaded Endomondo, an exercise app for iOS devices. Probably around the same time I downloaded other iBike and MapMyRide+.


Except all I’ve done is download it and open it; I haven’t used it to its full capacity yet. I plan on doing that this weekend, when we go to Moab and hike all over the place. We spent a lot of time last night doing laundry for the things we want to pack, like sweats, shorts, t-shirts, and sweatshirts. Hey … gotta layer while we’re down there, right? Average morning temps in the 40s, average afternoon highs in the 70s. Again, layering. Yes.


Honestly, I’ve had this app for a long time. I don’t know exactly how long, but it’s been a while. I’ve never used it. I’ve opened it and looked at the user interface (UI) some, but nothing exetensive. Now that I have a solid game plan in place, I thought I’d open it up and look at it more closely.


When you first open the app, it asks if you’d like to log in or create an account. Obviously, being the exercise buff that I am, I had already created an account couch potato sloth that I am, I needed to create an account. Once I took care of that, it opened to its main page, where the first thing I noticed was the ad at the bottom of the screen. Distracting, right? To be fair, this *is* a free app. There’s an option to upgrade to Endomondo Premium, which has a bunch of extra features (namely, NO ADS), but it’s subscription-based, and it costs $3.99/month or $29.99/year. $30 is not a lot to ask for a digital personal trainer, right? Maybe I’ll explore that later, but not right now.


The app defaults to a pre-set screen that has a start button in the bottom left corner and a Duration counter in the top left. Nestled between these two prominent features are, in clockwise order, a distance tracker, heart rate in terms of beats per minute, workout type (defaults to basic), and your chosen sport (defaults to running, ha ha). Now … here’s the great part. ALL of these fields–the prominent and the sandwiched– are customizeable to whatever you’d like within the options. When I tap on Duration, I have options of displaying calories, heart rate, speed, distance, aveerage speed, and hydration. When I tap Sport (cuz, yah … I’m not running), I have close to 60 options, ranging from badminton to yoga. In anticipation of tomorrow, I’ve selected Hiking.


My favorite feature on this screen is the GPS function. In the bottom right corner, there’s a little green arrow-looking button. When I tap that, a map slides open to display my current location. As I go for a walk, or hike, or bike ride, my location is constantly updated on the map. Once the workout is done, it displays the path I took. That’s pretty nifty. I know that’s a standard feature for a lot of these kinds of apps, but come on! That’s awesome!


In the interst of fairness, the data wasn’t *entirely* accurate. According to the stats on my quick walk, I gained 33 feet in elevation, and lost no elevation. So, I went up the equivalent of 3 floors in a little over .16 miles … according to this. Not possible, since all I did was walk in a circle. At some point, there should have been a descent. Minor quibbling points, but worth mentioning all the same.


In the top right corner are three little horizontal lines. Tapping that icon takes you to a series of options. You can upgrade to premium (which I may do just to see what’s offered. Hey, I can use all the help I can get, right?), add Endomondo friends, see your workout history, add a training plan, accept challenges, see workout routes of local users, and update your settings.


In all, this looks like a complete app. I’m excited to get down to Moab and test it (and me). Is the $30/year worth it? Dunno yet … but I may soon find out. For now, though, the free version is packed with a bunch of great features.

Family Vacation Time

Well this is super awesome. I don’t know how on earth I married so well … but shucky darn and slop the chickens, I did.


I start a new job in a couple of weeks. As such, I have this surplus of vacation hours from my current employer. I plan on using some of those to leave a bit early tomorrow, drive to Moab, UT tomorrow afternoon, and then spend the next 4 days down in some of the most rugged, rocky terrain in the world. *THIS* is going to be fun. and I mean FRICKIN’ UNBELIEVABLY NICE.


This is why I upgraded my camera to a Canon 6D. The low-light capabilities on this thing compared to my old T2i are astounding, to say the least. The nights are supposed to be super clear, which means star pictures will be an option. Orion is in full view on the eastern horizon pretty late–around 1 am. Now … the question is whether I can stay up late enough to get pictures. Guess we’ll see.


One thing for sure that I want to do is get a shot of Dead Horse Point at sunrise. Not just any shot, though … I want to get a shot of Dead Horse looking dead on. The overlook is a bit north east of the bend, and it doesn’t offer a straight shot at it.




I know where I need to go to get it, and I have it marked on my GPS. That’s definitely happening.


I plan on pushing myself pretty hard this trip. I’m on the verge of being down about 40 pounds from where i was a little over 2 months ago, and I feel great. To put that in perspective, rock salt for a water softener comes in 40 pound bags. THAT’s what I’ve lost. I don’t have to lug that around with me this trip. Last time we went to moab, I was about 310. Not this time. So yah … I *want* to push myself. I don’t want to kill myself, of course, so this may be a relatively light trip, and then I’ll work on cardio and endurance.


This will be fun!


I took this last year when we went in July.



It was hot. Very, very, very hot. My Camelbak was bled dry before we even started back down. I have no idea how we survived. But we did. We will this year too. I hope. It’ll be significantly cooler–at least 25-30 degrees, if not 35 degrees. I’d like this to be the backdrop for a night shot of the Milky Way, but it might not happen this trip. That’s fine. Someday, it’s gonna happen. Maybe in April or May. That would be ideal.


I also picked up one of those awesome Olloclip lenses that will make for some fun phone pics. I’ve played a bit with it around the house, but nothing serious. I’ve seen what it can do indoors … I’m betting we can get some amazing shots outside with it.


Above all, though, I just want this vacation to be *fun*. We’ve had some pretty high stress around our house lately … we need this trip to help alleviate that stress and get us back to a balanced center.

End of an Era with a Very Odd Horizon

Sometimes, you just need to shake things up. Move on. Make wholesale changes. I’ve come to accept the fact that, sometimes, things just won’t ever be the way you’d hoped they’d be, and that’s okay. Most of us are equipped with the capacity to enable changes in our lives that will provide whatever it is that we feel we may be lacking, *or* we just find ways to cope with those changes. To that end, when these shake-ups come along, whether it’s by design or by happenstance, you’re ready to go with the flow.


Those who know me well know that my typical day-job revolves around writing manuals. This has mostly been done through defense contractors. Working in this environment for the better part of 12 years, I’ve come to understand the government mentality, processes, and procedures that go into writing military-approved procedure documents. This has been my home for 9+years of the 12 years I’ve been in the professional world. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had here. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve gained, and the things I’ve learned will carry forward with me … but it’s time to move on.


As a general rule, I don’t make wholesale changes. I tend to accept positions with companies that have a similar feel to them … hence my time with the DOD over the last 12 years. Having said that, sometimes, ya just have to shake things up and go for the big 180–the polar opposite, as it were. And so it is that I end my career with the defense sector and move into a wholly, heretofore unexplored area of professional life.


I have accepted an offer with Jamberry Nails, starting October 28. No, I will not be a consultant. They have a real need for documenting internal processes, policies, and knowledge databases. That’s where I come in.


Like I said, sometimes, the change just needs to be that different, right? Well this one’s *big*. And I couldn’t be more excited.


Some are going to ask why I’ve decided to move on. Those reasons are my own. They’re personal, and that’s that. Those who need to know, know. 🙂


And that’s that. SO excited to start this new chapter. If you read this, thank you, JW, for your trust and faith. It will be richly rewarded … 🙂

Friday Night Solitude Music Selection: Dream Theater’s Awake

So it’s Friday. My wife has abandoned me. Well, okay … only temporarily. She went out with some of her girlfriends for a much-deserved night out. Meanwhile, I get to supervise our girls’ 24-hour job marathon that they’ve earned for their continued and sustained disobedience … which then begs the question, “What makes you think they’re going to do jobs to be un-grounded if they’re not listening at all?” *SUCH* a valid question! And sorry … no answers. Oddly, one will come to her senses and work on her job list until she gets everything done so she can be un-grounded. The other one, by stark contrast, adamantly fights us tooth and nail. She will actually work harder to *not* do her jobs than she will on actually doing them. When we point out that she could have been done “X” hours ago, she just furrows her brow, tries to work out the math in her head, gives up, shrugs her shoulders, and somersaults away from us down the hall. Yes, somersaults. There is no walking for her–only acrobatic methods of moving from points A to B.


Except that now that they’re both in bed, presumably asleep, I have some time to myself. What do I choose to do with all of this free time? Re-tag my mp3s in iTunes, of course! Can’t have a CD without a release date, can I?!


Seriously. That bothers me. A lot. When I’m going through my music on my phone, I want it organized by release date. Der.


Honestly, it’s not *that* big of a deal, but it’s just one of those nit-noidy things that I can hammer out while I have some free time, so why not?


Background music of choice for the evening: Dream Theater’s Awake CD. I found an old friend who got me into them way back in 1994 (Hi, KH!!!). I haven’t seen this girl in probably 17-18 years or so. We found each other on Facebook, caught up for an hour or so, and it got me thinking back to when we first met. It was rather amazing to find a girl who liked prog metal … much less neo-prog metal like DT. We went out a couple of times, hung out together in college, and then we went our separate ways. I got married, she got married, she was living on the east coast, and now she lives down the highway from us.


After we chatted, I thought it’d be fun to pull out some of their older stuff, like Awake, Images and Words, A Change of Seasons, Falling into Infinity … and thus has been my week. Drives to and from work, drives to interviews (a long story for another day) … any time I’ve been in the car, I’d get reacquainted with those CDs. And they have a *lot* more. It’ll be good to catch up with their more recent offerings.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Anyone who can change up their time and key signatures with a certain degree of proficiency is going to merit at least a few listens from me. I like my music complex and semi-chaotic. Not like Aphex Twin chaotic, but well-organized chaos is always a good thing. I guess “chaos” is probably the wrong term to use. Let me put it this way: if your whole CD consists of simply 2/4, 3/4, or 4/4 time sigs and no key changes within a song, odds are, I won’t enjoy you much. There are notable excpetions, obviously. A lot of what Suzanne Vega writes is pretty much  the same key beginning to end of song … but then again she is an amazing lyricist. Her music is another layer of icing on an incredibly rich cake.


Guess I should get back to dating these files. 35000+, and they aren’t gonna tag themselves.

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