Photo of the Day, July 2, 2020

Creepy tree edition, as seen on Kelly Street. I either missed this before or it was suddenly added/made/hatched. The hooded eyes stare right through you.

Treadmill workout: Less than a week later

The one thing of note today is that I felt downright peppy in the last ten minutes, almost moving fast enough to warrant adjusting the speed of the treadmill up.

I have no real explanation for this.

The stats reflect this with a faster pace and more distance. Pleasantly, my BPM was also down, despite being faster.

Speed: 6.5 km/h
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:21/km (9:27 km/h)
Time: 30:03 (30:03)
Distance: 3.21 km (3.17 km)
Calories burned: 311 (328)
BPM: 140 (145)

Welcome to Abandoned America

By way of Pocket, I came across this story about how dollar stores in rural and poor urban communities have become replacements for Walmart and other big name stores–and magnets for crime: How Dollar Stores Became Magnets for Crime and Killing. It is, as expected, a depressing read. The photos of the various stores, often surrounded by empty lots, spoke of neighborhoods filled with decay, abandoned by most and held hostage to these kinds of stores, that occupy areas long abandoned by other retailers.

But instead of providing a needed service, they serve as hubs to crime–robberies, shootings, drug deals and more. They fail to provide security to their low-paid staff and to the surrounding neighborhood.

The story talks first about North St. Louis, noting that the city declined from a population of over 850,000 in the 1950s to just over 300,000 today, a staggering decline that has left large tracts of the city occupied by shuttered buildings or vacant lots. I was intrigued and went to Google Maps to see what it looked like.

At first as I scrolled the satellite view of the map over the city, it looked pretty typical–commercial districts, residential areas with rows of houses. I zoomed in more and spotted the first vacant lot–I had initially mistaken it for a grass field. As I continued to scroll I was stunned at how prevalent these lots were. I switched to street view to “tour” the area and found a blighted landscape filled with shuttered businesses, empty houses and bricked up buildings who function has been erased by years of neglect.

It made me realize a couple of things. America is one of the largest countries in the world geographically–only Russia, Canada, China and India are bigger. And while the U.S. is populous–around 330 million–that number is concentrated around urban hubs in a few states like California, New York and Texas. Vast tracts of the country are largely empty, usually because the land is desert or otherwise ill-suited to large populations. But then you have places like St. Louis, where people have simply fled to the suburbs or elsewhere, creating these pocket ghost towns, where there are blocks of dilapidated houses, foundations with decades’ worth of weeds pushing through cracks in the concrete, and then suddenly a neighborhood that has some new housing, a gas station, a few amenities–an oasis before you head back into the desert of abandoned structures.

The U.S. isn’t the only country that has had cities abandoned, of course, but looking at the scenes in St. Louis, this somehow feels uniquely American, that a major city could just get left behind and forgotten, left to fall apart and disintegrate.

The scenes of desolation are despairing to see in broad daylight. I can only imagine the terror of moving down the streets of these places at night, surrounded on both sides by darkened buildings whose windows are either boarded up or broken.

Here are a few images I captured from street view, with the street view date included for reference.

This is both the smallest and scariest private club I have ever seen, sitting on the corner of an otherwise vacant lot, in an area with little else nearby. From the lack of windows to the black brick and barred red door, it’s like something from a horror movie. Street view goes back to 2011 where it was painted blue as the Jefferson Mini- Mart. From appearances, the mini-mart was already abandoned at the time. In its current incarnation it is actually open as the Orange Door. It has a 4.8 rating (scale of 5) on Google Maps, proving that looks can be deceiving. (May 2017)
Street view for this large abandoned church goes back to 2007–and it was already empty then. The main differences now are the main doors have been sealed, the sidewalks are more choked with weeds, and a few more windows are busted. (July 2017)
The 3D overview of the area the church resides in. Some of the vacant lots have been empty so long they have completely returned to a natural state. A number of the other buildings seen are also abandoned.
Ernie’s Market is now closed. The building seen to the right is currently occupied, as are several others in the immediate area, creating a strange juxtaposition of life amid ruin. (March 2015)

June 2020 weight loss report: Up 2.6 pounds

As you can see from the title, I am up a not-insignificant 2.6 pounds for the month of June. But there is an asterisk on this weight gain, you just can’t see it.

On June 1, I had a sudden and unexplained weight drop, going from 177 pounds on May 31 to 175.1 on June 1, a drop of 1.9 pounds. I was only 175 pounds one other day in June and that was June 2. If you exclude these anomalous days…well, I still gained weight, but a less drastic 0.7 pounds.

Still not good.

I am making more changes for July. I swear! This time I have added pressure after my virtual doctor visit.

With that said, I remained donut-free for the month once again. Here are the stats:

June 1: 175.1 pounds
June 30: 177.7 pounds (up 2.6 pounds)

Year to date: From 171.8 to 177.7 pounds (up 5.9 pounds)

And the body fat:

June 1: 23.7% (41.5 pounds of fat)
June 30: 
23.4% (41.5 pounds of fat) (no change)

Treadmill workout: Has it been a week already?

Yes, it has been a week. But today, with the weather looking damp, I got on the treadmill for a noontime workout.

It’s another case of virtually identical results, so I’m not going to say much else here. I did start out a bit slow with the first km being 9:41 but picked up after that and kept a decent pace through to the end.

The stats:

Speed: 6.5 km/h
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:27/km (9:29 km/h)
Time: 30:03 (30:02)
Distance: 3.17 km (3.16 km)
Calories burned: 328 (329)
BPM: 145 (145)

Filing up the tank

I had a virtual appointment with my doctor today (yay, global pandemic, but on the other hand, yay not having to travel to the office) and he confirmed that a lot of people are feeling extra stress right now due to the various effects of the pandemic.

No surprise there. I am one of those people and have been experiencing a lot more stress over the last few months. My doctor advised me that to stay stress-free and healthy, that it was important to keep the following five “tanks” full or as close to full as possible:

  • Exercise (4)
  • Diet regime (5)
  • Sleep hygiene (6)
  • Social relationships (6)
  • Hobbies (3)

I have offered a number beside each tank to indicate how full they are, with 0 being empty and 10 being full to overflowing.

As you can see, there are no 10s. I’m averaging what would be the grade equivalent of a C or D. This is not optimal. It is bad.

My doctor suggested focusing on a few to start, setting goals for improving each, and making the goals at least 70% achievable. This means starting out with something I think I can reasonably complete, and if I can’t, I simply scale back until I can. Easy peasy-ish.

Since I’ve all but stopped running, I’m going to start there and try sticking to my previous goal of 30 minutes of exercise per day while also insuring that three of those days are runs outside (or on the treadmill if it’s snowing/raining molten rock).

The next I’m going to improve is the one I’m doing right now–writing! But more of a fictional variety. I also have a few drawing ideas I want to pursue and now is a good time to set modest goals to pursue them.

We’ll see how it goes. I have a lot of room for improvement, but I have challenged myself to complete seemingly impossible tasks in the past and succeeded.

Next post: Discussing the other three tanks and my success or lack thereof in keeping them full.

Photo of the Day, June 27, 2020

Burnaby Lake special edition. Nic and I went to the lake so he could take pictures of birbs and when I gave him the option to go halfway around the lake or all the way, he went…all the way. We saw plenty of birds, but I stuck to subjects that didn’t move or require a telephoto lens.

Despite the ominous-looking clouds in the shots, the weather was pleasantly mild and it stayed dry.

Shot #1, my usual from the bridge at Deer Lake Brook:

Shot #2, with bonus lily pads:

A non-invasive berry:

Shot #4 from the rowing pavilion, which I had never been to before:

Important update!

Lying, it’s not important at all.

But I am still using the new Chromium-based Edge, which surprises me. While there are some niggles, there are no showstoppers driving me back to Firefox.

On the other hand, there are a few features of Firefox I miss, but not enough to compel me to go back to it–not yet, anyway.

The funny part is that the only reason I even looked into switching is because Firefox started displaying some squirrely behavior on start-up (it also feels a bit slow to start). Had that never happened, I’d still be using it daily now.

Anyway, a random tech musing. Carry on.

Treadmill workout: Tuesday and sweating

I completely forgot to write up yesterday’s workout, so here it is a day later. It was about average, with the only standout part being that I was curiously angry while working out, raging about various things. I’m not sure why this happened, as exercise usually has the opposite result, putting me into a calming, Zen-like state. In any case, the rage neither improved my performance nor took away from it and by the end of the workout I had thankfully found my way back into that Zen-like state.

Don’t tread and rant.

The stats reveal one of the closest sets of back-to-back workouts ever. Look, twins!

Speed: 6.5 km/h
Incline: 10

Pace: 9:29/km (9:29 km/h)
Time: 30:02 (30:03)
Distance: 3.16 km (3.16 km)
Calories burned: 329 (329)
BPM: 145 (146)

Complaint-free me: Postponed

My personal and to a lesser extent professional life is in what might call a state of turmoil right now, so I have elected to postpone the restart of the 21-day Complaint Free challenge, since I expect I’d just be constantly restarting and getting increasingly frustrated instead of making even incremental progress.

But I do plan to restart the challenge, hopefully sooner than later.

In the meantime, a re-post of the most amazing cat gif ever:

Complaint-free me, Day 2: Take 2

I completely forgot to do a write-up for my second day of my second attempt to go complaint-free for 21 days. This is because it rained most of the day, I stayed inside and engaged in very little interaction with other humans, greatly reducing the possible complaint window.

This is to say Day 2, the first day of summer, was a success.