Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Freezing-Thawing Humber River

Outside of leaves turning, I haven't lived close enough to nature to see much of the change that comes with seasons. We often walk past the Humber River, which the weather managed to turn into chaos toward the end of February. I had never seen anything like it.

Three weeks later, it started to look more like a river.

These images left me thinking about how much timing matters. If you had to get from one end of the river to another, forcing your way through the conditions in the first picture would take hours of exhausting labor. If you waited for the conditions of the second picture, you could flow through the river effortlessly in minutes.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I bought a FitBit three months ago. If you haven't heard of it, it's a lot like a pedometer with some important improvements:
  1. It tracks the quality of your sleep
  2. It pulls together your activity on a timeline
  3. It lets you cheer and taunt friends
    I haven't been doing all that well with my goal of 10,000 steps so far. In fact, I had only hit it once through yesterday. I'm chalking that up to some combination of little daylight, harsh weather, and having an office job. Some would chalk it up to the device being little more than a gimmick.

    Tonight I checked my progress, saw that I was close, and headed out into the slushy, cold streets one more time for a 15 minute walk. Just enough time to hit my goal. If that doesn't mean this is working, I'm not sure what does.

    Sunday, January 12, 2014

    A Good Commute

    I seem to have an endless supply of energy for shows about fixer uppers, moving to Hawaii, and deciding to love it or list it. Every now and then, particularly when the weather is why-did-I-ever-leave-San-Francisco bad, we load up Zillow and begin peering at houses around various cities. One lesson I've learned over and over again is that one person's bad commute is another person's normal commute.

    For example, this is from the well-designed site about the nearby Round Rock:

    The commute can be AWFUL. See if you can avoid driving to and from Austin on I-35 every day.

    I dug a little deeper, which was easy with the estimated commute times map. The commute to Round Rock during rush hour is estimated between 45 and 75 minutes. If you're a suburbanite, this is clearly an awful commute. Here's some anecdotal data:

    • My dad's commute was about 15 minutes (six miles)
    • My mom's commute is about 15 minutes (six miles; different place)
    • My girlfriend's dad's commute is about five minutes (two miles)

    My story has been far different. Since heading to Chicago in late 2008, I have rarely seen a 15-minute commute to work.

    • Chicago #1: 40 minutes L train (six miles)
    • Chicago #2: 40 minutes express bus; 60 minutes regular bus (five miles)
    • Little Rock: 20 minutes car (eight miles)
    • San Francisco: 50 minutes muni; 25 minutes bicycle (four miles)
    • Toronto: 50 minutes TTC; 35 minutes car (seven miles)

    From these experiences, my idea of the perfect commute is 20 minutes by bicycle.

    What's a good commute? What's an awful commute?