*contains offensive language

It certainly feels good to say it. “Fuck. Them.” Too bad it doesn’t fix anything. While our politicians play their grade school posturing games, the impact of the shutdown will continue to grow. Wait, fuck them…I shouldn’t compare them to our grade school children, because most of our children are smarter and certainly much better than these ignorant so called leaders. They are as bad as the grade school bullies. The minority in school, the small, but obnoxious few, but who, unfortunately, exert undeserved and unwarranted power.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Constitute

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.52.32 PMDamn you Google, you’ve done it again.  Well, it wasn’t all Google, but Google Ideas did provide the seed money for the Comparative Constitutions Project  to develop Constitute.  Frankly, it’s just awesome.  What makes it awesome?  160 constitutions.  Yes, 160 of those documents from around the world.

You can read them. You can search them. You can analyze them. You can even refer to a specific one, such as the US Constitution, when you want to challenge some crazy liberal idea that appears to have complete disregard for that constitution.  Print or download constitutions, or even pin sections of different constitutions and download those in one document for comparative purposes.

The site provides a variety of different ways for you to research constitutions, such as browsing by country, date, or topic.  For example, say you are interested in proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and want to know what that procedure would include:

Constitute Search

Or perhaps you are interested in finding where ‘God’ is referenced in the US Constitution:

Search for God in US Constitution

Hmmm…no results.  Good thing they also allow you to report errors, right?

How could this get even better?  Perhaps a Google Docs plug-in so that when you pin the sections you really like from various constitutions, those sections can then be added directly to a Google Doc to be crowd-edited by all.

Seriously, though.  160 constitutions from all over the world.  Very nice.

 

Tech Tip Tuesday: Texting Tip

I have been surprised to learn that several people didn’t know there is a keyboard shortcut on your phone that allows you to be grammatically correct with ease!  So here it is.

When you start a text on your phone, your phone is quite helpful and will capitalize the first letter for you.  As we know, when we finish a sentence, the next letter of the new sentence should begin with a capital letter as well.  Here is a quick tip to end one sentence with a period and start a new sentence with a capital letter. 

Just hit the space bar twice.

That’s it.  So if you’re typing along like so:

Hey, tomorrow is the middle of the week [space] [space] that makes it hump day!

You’ll get:

Hey, tomorrow is the middle of the week. That makes it hump day!

Some things in life are just that easy. 

First Strides and RunKeeper

Last week, we started another session of First Strides, a walking and running workshop for women.  In the workshop we meet together as a large group over 12 weeks, with each week getting progressively advanced.  We meet once per week as the group and then we ask participants to do some homework on their own, which means they have to do that weeks program on their own several more times before we meet again the following week.  The workouts are designed by combining easy and hard intervals over time, by slowly reducing the ‘easy’ interval times and increasing the ‘hard’ interval times.

We often get asked if there is a mobile phone app that will help track these workouts because it often difficult to keep track of that with a regular exercise watch.  We don’t have a particular *First Strides* app, however, here are some directions for setting up the workouts with one popular workout app called RunKeeper.  There are other app options with similar functionality, such as MapMyRun and Fitnio.  (For a review on some of these and other smartphone apps, check out this Lifehacker article.)

I use RunKeeper and absolutely love it, so that’s the app  you’ll get step-by-step directions to set up.  Once it is downloaded on your phone, just follow these easy steps to add each week’s work out to your phone.

Step 1:
Once you open the Runkeeper app, under ‘start’ you will see your activity type.  One of the options on that screen is ‘Workout’.  Click on the ‘Workout’ row.
Photo 13
Photo 14 Step 2:
Scroll down for the option to ‘Create New Workout’.
Step 3:
This is where you set up your workout by giving it a name, adding intervals, and indicating whether you want a warm up and/or a cool down.  Notice the the warm up and cool down are set to 5 minutes which is fairly standard in the workout world. Give your workout a name, such as “First Strides Week 1″ or “FS Wk 1″ if you don’t want to type out a lot.
 Photo 12
Photo 7 Step 4:
After naming your workout, click on the option to ‘Add Interval’. There are three things you can set for an interval: the interval pace, interval type, and interval size. Click on the row or the drop down for ‘Interval Pace’
Step 5:
Under ‘Interval Pace’, you can set your pace as slow, steady or fast.  In First Strides we use easy and hard.  For the easy, I like to use the steady option.  You can set your easy as either slow or steady.  Save the fast option for our hard.
Photo 7
Photo 10 Step 6:
For the ‘Interval Type’, you have two options, either time or distance.  It should be defaulted to ‘time’, but if it isn’t then go ahead and set the ‘Interval Type’ to time.The final setting is ‘Interval Size’.  Click on this option to set your time.  For the first week, our easy is 4 minutes, so you need to set both minutes and seconds by putting in 4 and 0.  Just click in each block to bring up the number pad to add your interval times.   Then click on OK under the time block. Then click on OK once more to close out the Interval settings.
Step 7:
Now we have to do the same thing to set the hard interval.  Click on the ‘Add Interval’ option again to bring up a new interval setting screen.
Photo 6
Photo 5 Step 8:
Now we need to go through the same steps as above to set the hard interval. Set your ‘Interval Pace’ to Fast. Keep your ‘Interval Type’ as Time. Set your ‘Interval Size’ to 1:00 min.
Step 9:
That defines our interval.  If you remember from our workout, we actually do that interval several times.  Each week not only the times in the intervals change, but the number of times you do that interval will change as well. To set how many times to do your interval, click on the ‘Repetitions’ option under ‘Workout Options’ after you’ve set your easy and hard intervals. For week 1, we do the interval 3 times totals, so you have to set your repetitions to one less than that, or ’2 More Times’.  That will give you the original interval and then two more repetitions.
Photo 3
Photo 4 Step 10:
Almost done!  Now we just have to tell RunKeeper to include both a warm up and a cool down. To do that, all you need to do is check the boxes next to those options. That gives you your full Week 1 workout of First Strides. Be sure to save your workout!
Step 11:
Save your workout by scrolling down until you see the ‘Save Workout’ buttons.  Click on that button to save your workout.
Photo 2
Photo 1 Step 12:
Now all you need to do is select that workout.  If it is not shown in the ‘Workout’ row, click on that row to select the workout you want to do.  If you need to create another week’s workout, just start from the top. If you’re ready to workout, click on ‘Start Activity’ and the app will then tell you when to switch from the warm up to the ‘easy (slow or steady)’ interval to the ‘hard (fast)’ interval each time and then let you know when you can cool down.Have fun working out!
Saving Workouts:
Another nice option with RunKeeper is that you can save every workout you do.  Each workout is saved by the date you did the workout and then you can go back through your workouts to see your progress. It will show your distance, duration, average time/mile, calories burned, any notes you added about your workout, a map of your workout route, splits, and charts. You can also post these to social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.
Photo 15

Hope this was helpful!  The workouts are much easier and quicker to set up than reading through these directions, so you will be able to quickly add your workouts to this app.  As mentioned, other apps have similar functionality.  I’m just too lazy to do this for the variety of different apps.  However, if you want some assistance getting yours set up, regardless of whether it is Runkeeper or another app, feel free to contact me!

30 Day Plank and/or Push-up Challenge

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 10.24.23 PM

In July, I created a 30-Day Plank and Push-up Challenge for a running group, First Strides, that I participate in.  Essentially I just made things up on a daily basis hoping it would work.  Mostly it did and it got many of us doing a variety of planks and push-ups over 30 days.   I decided to do this for two reasons:

In First Strides, we do targeted talks each week (it is a 12-week program) on various aspects of fitness, nutrition, sports attire, etc.  One of those sessions focused on core strength, so naturally, the plank was highlighted in that talk.  We go over proper technique and why it’s important and demonstrate a variety of core exercises that can be done.  During the plank demonstration, I overheard one of the participants say she will be great at doing these planks for about a week and then she will lose interest.  This got me to thinking, which can sometimes be a scary endeavor.  The First Strides program is structured to gradually build up one’s workout regimen and try to make it a habitual part of her life.  So why not do this for doing planks.  So I noted that idea and then promptly forgot about it for a few months.

Which brings me to my second reason.  For the most part I do a pretty good job of keeping in shape.  I run and walk regularly and I’ve always maintained decent core strength.  I keep my brain in very good shape, too, with reading, crossword puzzles, and other stimulating mental exercises.  But my one very neglected area has always been my arms.  Granted, I would try now and then, but like that First Strides participant I was great for a week, but then kind of (purposely) petered.  So I needed to make it a habit as well.

So, that’s how we got to this planks and push-ups challenge.  It is an effort to make these exercise a habit.  Now it’s a myth that it takes 21 days to create a habit.  Same with 28 days.  The good news is that some research indicates that 66 days may do the trick.  Below is a link to a Google Spreadsheet that outlines the full 30 day challenge.  You can print it out, save it to your own Google Docs, or down load it as a PDF or document. If you didn’t do the challenge in July you can just do the challenge as it is outline in the file (there are two separate tabs in the spreadsheet…one for planks and one for push-ups).  If you did the 30 Day Plank and Push-up Challenge with me in July, you can just do it again, as is.  Or you can also kick it up a notch.  If you did the challenge in the modified position, do it the second time around in the standard position.  If you did it in the standard position, do it again doubling what you are to do.  You can also modify the challenge by saving the file to your own Google drive as your own document and changing things as you wish!

Link to 30 Day Plank and/or Push-up Challenge: http://bit.ly/30DayPandP

Make it a habit.  Don’t stop after 30 days or 60 days.  Just keep planking and doing push-ups (and running!).  And if you ever want to mix it up more, just drop me a line and we’ll come up with another fun challenge!Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 10.39.29 PM

Plank Image courtesy of http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/superset-4b-plank
Push-up Image courtesy of http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/how-to-pushup

Do I Look Like a Baby Killer?

Tina Hertel:

Kat captures what so many of us are always thinking, but could not put into words as eloquently as she has. Excellent post worth reading, sharing, and living.

Originally posted on Fieldwork in Stilettos:

This morning I went to Planned Parenthood.  I go every three months to pick up my birth control pills and again in August just before my birthday for my annual pelvic exam.

My usual concerns when going to Planned Parenthood are:

A)     Where am I going to park?  Parking in Center City is never easy.

B)      How long is this going to take?  The folks at the Locust Street branch are always friendly and seem pretty efficient but if you don’t have an appointment, you can find yourself sitting in the lobby long enough to watch an entire Tyler Perry film.

I’m never worried about getting stopped by protestors because let’s face it: this is 2013.  This is Philadelphia.  We’re not like that here.

Plus, my visit to Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with abortion, which makes sense because 90% of the services offered by Planned Parenthood have to…

View original 1,517 more words

What I Read: “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” Review

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A few years ago I went into the Human Resources office where I worked and asked for assistance in helping me decide what I want to be when I grow up. They made me take some fancy tests with multiple choice answers and then invited me back a few days later. I was presented with a report that told me I should become a librarian. I laughed and walked out of the room (and yes, I did eventually become a librarian). The reason those tests indicated I should become a librarian is not because I like to read (I do) but because I like to figure things out, I like to solve puzzles and mysteries, I like to learn new things, I like to make technology work for me, I like to make people’s day. I also like word play, numbers, algorithms, and I like to laugh.

Yeah, that’s nice, but what does any of that have to do with Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore? Everything actually. This book has all that and more as it weaves the old (dusty old books in an eccentric bookstore) with the new (can you say Apple and Google product placement?) into a story of intrigue, mystery, and even a little romance.

The story revolves around Clay, a web designer struggling through the recession by taking the graveyard shift in Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore. The bookstore does very little business during his shift, but there are a few very regular customers, although they are not truly customers in the traditional sense. These customers seem to belong to some super secret, very mysterious book club that is trying to solve some life mystery by deciphering codes contained in books.

Clay soon realizes he cannot solve this huge mystery on his own, so he must pull in friends and his love interest and even all the computing power of Google to figure out what could be going on. The more he learns the deeper the mystery goes. Naturally, though, with Google helping out, an answer will be found soon.

Robin Sloan gives us a story that is warm and engaging and does not bog us down with techno-babble or other jargon. I totally engaged in this story on many levels, but for me, personally, it hit me at my love for both books and technology. Sloan shows us that we still very much need books even with all this wonderful technology we have today. Books and technology and the power they contain and the unlimited potential they bring out in all of us, if we let them.

View all my reviews