Cross-country to somewhere it isn’t snowing, that is. This is the current scene outside the spare bedroom where the treadmill lives. The greenery is looking rather white:
My exercise was delayed when I discovered the right bud of my new AirPods hadn’t charged and was dead. I did not want to work out in mono. I did a bit of fiddling, let the AirPods charge for about 10 minutes or so, which is normally enough for an hour’s use, but no go. The right one was still dead. I grumbled, failed to find my wired EarPods, grumbled some more and then connected my Moves via old-fashioned wired connection (with Apple-provided dongle) and used them. Surprisingly, they worked fairly well. I thought they would get too sweaty, but the Arctic chill seems to have helped there.
(The AirPods seem to be properly charged now, but my faith in them has been broken like a cracker in the jaws of a hungry parrot.)
I kept up the pace for 50 minutes, which is partway through “Mr. Blue Sky”, an utterly ironic song to end on today. For some reason I was feeling absurdly energetic to start and my first two kms were 8:39 and 8:51. This moderated over the last three km, but still, not sure why I was so peppy. But peppy is good.
Here are the stats, with my previous 50 minute walk in brackets. Note that the previous one was at a 6 km/h pace.
Speed: 6.5 km/h (6 km/h)
Pace: 9:04/km (9:51/km)
Time: 50:04 (50:05)
Distance: 5.52 km (5.08 km)
Calories burned: 520 (533)
BPM: 141 (144)
Today Microsoft released the new, Chromium-based version of its Edge browser. Chromium is the open standard that Google uses as the basis for Chrome, so while some think that Microsoft has essentially caved in and started using a reskinned version of Chrome, that’s not true. In fact, Microsoft will now have direct influence over the future of Chromium, helping to reduce Google’s oversized leverage.
Chromium Edge also doesn’t include all of Google’s data-collecting services, too–an important distinction.
While I have used Firefox for a hundred years and will use it for a hundred more, long after I’ve become a floating head in a jar, I am interested in seeing what an actual competitive Microsoft browser looks like. I’ve installed it on my PC and will also install it on my MacBook Pro and mini. I’m going to try sticking with it for a solid week to see how it feels vs. what I’m used to in Firefox.
Realistically, I don’t expect to keep using it, but you never know. I’ve previously used Chrome and yes, Internet Explorer, as my main browsers in the past, so I’m open to change.
Here’s a few things I already like (some of these are common features to most browsers, others are more unique):
Pinned sites on the taskbar. I find this more useful than I thought.
Being able to use Chrome extensions from the Chrome web store (MS’s store is a bit sparse)
The pretty backgrounds you can opt to get on the new tab page
The new tab page customization options
Nice-looking dark mode
Generally speedy, though these are early days. Er, hours.
UPDATE: The new tab page only lets you have a maximum of seven “top sites.” This is fantastically dumb and basically a deal breaker for me. I then spent most of the evening looking at other new tab extensions, but they all had features missing or other issues, such as:
Ugly as all get-out
Kind of skeevy (usually requiring an account)
Locking basic functionality behind a monthly subscription (lol)
Lacked customization (icon sizes, etc.)
Focusing on widgets and other things over presenting a list of sites
I did a search hoping there might be a way to have more than seven top sites on the official new tab page, but my results yielded nothing. I was using Bing, though.
We have our first real snow (not fake snow) of 2020 and it’ll be around for at least a few days, thanks to sub-freezing temperatures (it’s -6°C as I type this at midday). Rather than curse the snow, I will haiku it instead.
It's snow time again That white stuff is everywhere Stay inside till spring
Another uneven horror collection, but this is pretty much the standard, so overall I found it perfectly fine and would recommend it as a quick read if you can grab it at a lower price.
Ostensibly aimed at kids (the acknowledgements section notes that some stories have been edited for content), some of these tales are pretty dark, so Stephen Jones’ warning about these causing nightmares may be apt for younger readers.
A brief take on each of the ten stories:
Click-Clack the Rattlebag (Neil Gaiman) is a typical Gaiman story, with a droll sort of delivery, the promise of spooky shenanigans, then it abruptly ends, so it certainly fits the “short” part of “short story.” It was fine.
Homemade Monster (R. Chetwynd-Hayes) is a light, modern take on the Frankenstein monster, featuring an easily distracted mad scientist, a yearning-to-be-sophisticated helper and exploding parts. It’s fun, if slight.
The Sideways Lady (Lynda E. Rucker) features a sister and brother out ghost-hunting in an abandoned house across town said to be haunted by an entity called The Sideways Lady. On Halloween they wrap up their trick or treating then go explore the house, joining up with a few older, skeptical kids along the way. The allegedly empty house has a strange occupant–and maybe others, as well. The kids felt authentic, but the actual haunting part seemed a bit confused, as if the author went in several directions, couldn’t decide, and tried to make both work.
Here There Be Tygers (Stephen King). Taken from King’s first collection, Night Shift, this is a curiously delightful tale about a boy at school who needs to use the washroom very badly, the possible presence of tigers in said washroom and what might happen to the frumpy, rude old teacher he has to endure when all elements are combined. The light, almost absurdist tone here stands out from the bulk of King’s work.
The Chimney (Ramsey Campbell) starts out as a simple story about a boy who is frightened of Santa and of the huge fireplace in the bedroom of the very old house he lives in. It gets progressively darker, turning from a child’s tale to something downright grim. I liked it, but this is one of those that could very well give younger kids bad dreams.
School for the Unspeakable (Manly Wade Wellman). First, Manly Wade Wellman is a great author name. This story, about a boy sent to a private school, is terrifically weird and unsettling. When Bart Setwick arrives at the school–at night, of course,–it’s strangely dark and the boys he meets are just strange. Things escalate quickly from there before the (mild) twist is revealed. This reads like a classic spooky story told ’round the campfire.
Granny’s Grinning (Robert Shearman). Told in a deliberately twee style, with giant paragraphs stuffed with dialogue from multiple characters, this is the one story I didn’t finish. I just didn’t care enough about the story or characters to push past the writing style. Grandma was probably a zombie or something.
The Chemistry of Ghosts (Lisa Morton). This feels like a YA story, in which a brother and sister attempt to find the brother’s missing friend, who the brother fears has disappeared in the closed wing of a college said to be haunted by a former chemistry professor. It is not a spoiler to say this is correct and the ghostly instructor challenges the kids to a series of puzzles to get their friend back–and avoid being trapped in the wing forever with him. Light, almost breezy, with plenty of opportunity for kids to try to figure things out and brag about how smart they are.
The Man Who Drew Cats (Michael Marshall Smith). A quiet stranger moves into a small town and begins to paint and draw in the town square, sharing (some) small talk with the locals at a nearby pub in the evenings. This is one of those stories that telegraphs what will happen in huge neon letters, but knows it, and makes the journey to its inevitable destination as entertaining as possible. In this case, an abusive husband gets his comeuppance when the stranger turns his drawing skills to certain beasts. In a way, this is a great companion to “Here There Be Tygers.”
Are You Afraid of the Dark? (Charles L. Grant). Basically, a story about a very bad babysitter. It’s weird, a bit gruesome and maybe should have been the second-to-last story in the collection.
What do I do when I am not feeling well and generally void of energy? I exercise, of course!
I will admit by about the 45 minute mark I was getting a bit tired. But I felt guilty for not being on the treadmill or running over the previous three days.
I originally thought of doing a 30 minute walk, then maybe a jog after, but weighed the possibility of me finishing the walk, then declaring it good and stopping there, so I pushed on and did my first full hour walk. Once I got past the “I am going to suddenly fall asleep from exhaustion, roll off the end of the treadmill and injure myself” part, it was not that bad.
The stats, with the previous 30 minute walk in brackets. Of note, pace stayed about the same, though BPM was higher, due to doubling the length of the exercise.
Speed: 6.5 km/h
Pace: 9:16/km (9:17 km/h)
Time: 60:05 (30.06)
Distance: 6.48 km (3.24 km)
Calories burned: 613 (287)
BPM: 142 (132)
Here’s an example of something I couldn’t do before the treadmill: Start a workout at almost 10 p.m. Even in the summer it would be dark and spooky at this time. But inside the miracle of artificial light means I was A-OK to hop on the treadmill.
Here are the stats, with the previous run in brackets as comparison. As you can see, the pace was better and BPM was much lower–even lower than previous walks on the treadmill. Maybe my body feels well-rested by mid-evening.
Speed: 6.5 km/h (6 km/h)
Pace: 9:17/km (9:21 km/h)
Time: 30:06 (30.05)
Distance: 3.24 km (3.21 km)
Calories burned: 287 (313)
BPM: 132 (143)
I did a 30 minute treadmill walk today and intended to follow it, after cooling off for about ten minutes, with a 30 minute treadmill run.
The run, with the incline set to 1 to simulate the wind resistance of running outdoors, began decently enough. After about two minutes I had a sudden and urgent need to go to the bathroom. My entire midsection was rumbling ominously, so without knowing exactly what was in store, I stopped the run after 2:17. This netted me a distance of 0.35 km and 22 calories burned. But hey, I tried!
The less-jostling walk yielded the following stats (pace is a bit slow and BPM a bit high):
Speed: 6.5 km/h (6 km/h)
Pace: 9:21 km/h
Distance: 3.21 km
Calories burned: 313