workout space in the den

Using Home Workouts to Fight That “COVID Zombie” State!

I finished my first home workout in 10 months yesterday. I know that seems like forever, but COVID! I also had foot surgery that took me out of “circulation” for over five months. Plus we moved, and other “reasons.”

I turned 60 this year, and I am very aware of just how fast the body declines when inactive – I could feel myself sliding further into the “couch-potato/COVID zombie” zone as the months passed.

Yesterday I finally strapped on (new) runners and hooked up with my personal trainer, Omar, for a first-go-round at trying to get back at the fitness thing. Luckily my trainer uses virtual training, so I set up my Canon DSLR as a webcam hooked to my laptop, pumped the Zoom video to the big-screen, and plugged in a pair of sport earbuds.

I’ve got a pretty simple but effective exercise space set up in our den, with a cheap folding bike, a portable bench, adjustable weights, and a suspension strap that hooks over the bathroom door. My foot surgery makes lunges (and anything else where I have to bend my toes forward) nearly impossible, so we had to adjust things a little bit.

After a quick couple of miles on the bike to warm up, we got at it.

First, up (after figuring out the whole toe-bending limits thing) was three sets of goblet-squats, side-ways lunges, and airplane balances, interspersed with half-mile bike “cool-downs.” I got to use one of the adjustable weights for the goblets, making them pretty much a thigh-burner. After the first airplane set, my PT added a 10-pound weight to the offset leg to make it more interesting (read: almost impossible).

The second set used the suspension strap for body-weight rowing, then swapping for resistance bands on the suspension system to do some chest presses and kneeling pull-downs, wrapping up with a plank. I managed all that pretty well, even pulling off three 30-second planks (I could only do 20 when I first started workouts last year).

All this in about 40 minutes – which left me entirely spent. I had to stare at the stairs for a while before gaining the courage to attempt to climb them. It turns out I had forgotten how to breathe, especially during the lower-body work. I was pretty good during the final set but had to sit and gasp for a bit halfway through the first. Thankfully Omar was “All good – take your time!”

I was smart enough that I had eaten two hours prior, so lots of energy, but my body was “What the hell was that, Dave!!” Even after we ran out of time after two run-throughs of the final set I managed to finish the final triplet on my own. 

It’s now Friday morning, the day after, and my muscles are complaining mightily. But at the same time, it feels fantastic! I feel like I have more energy already (probably endorphins or something) and am looking forward to the next workout. Now I am regretting putting it off for so long. The longer I delayed, the more guilty I felt, and the less motivated I was to get back to it. The fact that I still had seven paid sessions with my PT was the final push to get me back to it.

Procrastination may be a profound (un)motivator, but wasting money proved to be a more powerful force! I couldn’t NOT use those sessions up!

Our bodies are a gift, and it is far too easy to take them for granted. Here’s to staying out of that “COVID Zombie” state for a while!

The Rock

 

This is a guest post, graciously allowed by its author, Paige Woodbury. Her willingness to share her relationship with her inner self is inspiring. To see it on her personal blog, I have included the link here.

A pinch from the inside,
a small pull at the thread,
that sense comes creeping in.
No control, not even of flesh,
twisted into knots and stuck standing stiff, heavy, unsure.
Pulling at my hair, begging for the ground –

the rock.

I wonder.

My mind has taken me this far, how far can it go?
Can I carry this rock with me up a steep hill?
Every hill?
Do I push, do I pull?
How far can the body and mind stretch and bend?
If I change,
what will come of this life of trails that I’ve carved?
My familiarity, nostalgia, dug deep into the forest floor of my mind.
mossy, musty, heavy-hearted,

dirt.

How do I make way for light?
To tap into the abyss and knock out darkness,
when it is weighed ten times more.
With darkness do you cradle it, comfort it,
assume the role of mother?
Do you belittle it?
Break it down and bully it?

A torturous goal it is, to create like this.
To challenge and question.
I’m sure one day I’ll hear the voice,
chiming in “you’re alright, keep going”.
And I’ll be partners with my darkness, carrying it alongside me,
I’ll create, and live, despite it.

I’m sure.
One day I’ll find the beauty in my darkness,

the rock.
                                        

– P. W.

surface go table on desk

Getting the Most From Your Surface Go

You’ve just picked up the latest ultra-portable from Microsoft – what next?

The Surface Go is a fantastic piece of gear. I’ve had mine for just over 4 months, and there are a few things any new Go owner should do to get the most out of this versatile tablet.

surface go showing apps
Take the Surface Go pretty much anywhere

S-Mode or Home Mode

The Surface Go comes with Windows 10 in S mode enabled by default. If you want to stick to Microsoft Store apps only, you can safely leave the tablet in this default mode. If, like me, you want to install apps (i.e Firefox or Chrome) that are not available in the store, you can switch to a standard Windows 10 Home installation. There is a great how-to over at Windows Central that can walk you through the simple steps.

Expand the Memory

I picked up the top-level Surface Go with a whopping 128 gigabyte SSD. Pretty sparse compared to my other gear – so the first thing I did was take advantage of the MicroSD slot behind the kickstand. You can use any MicroSD, but the larger and faster you use, the better the experience. I opted for a Sandisk Ultra 200GB card, which are available under $100 on Amazon. Once installed, it appears as a second drive. I opted to install Steam to that location, so all my game files are removed from my fixed disk. I also chose to save downloads to that location, which saves a bunch of memory.

rear view of surface go tablet
The MicroSD slot is located behind the kickstand

Experiment with Positions

I hold my Surface Go in various positions, depending on what I’m doing. Content consumption and social media scrolling are easiest while holding the tablet vertically, with the kickstand folded out just enough to form a gap that I can “wedge” my hand into. The ability to pivot the tablet to either hand makes this configuration great for sitting in bed reading the latest “Expanse” novel or catching up on Instagram stories.

holding a surface go in one hand
The Surface Go is great for one-handed use

The kickstand is amazing. It allows me to use the tablet on my lap, on an arm of the couch, or propped up on a pillow. When you combine it with the type-cover, it provides a stable platform for content creation and correspondence.

The keyboard cover is great, but it also packs an “auto-off” feature that allows you to fold it around the back of the tablet. When folded all the way back, keyboard input is disabled, and tablet-mode is enabled (if you have turned on auto-switching in the action center). The keys will not react to touch when the cover is in this position. While it takes a bit to get used to the feeling of the keys under your fingers, this quick-flip feature saves having to detach the keyboard to switch to tablet mode.

surface go in landscape mode
Wrap the keyboard cover around the back for an instant tablet experience

Check out Alternative Touch Keyboards

If you need to do a large amount of typing, or if you are used to a more “traditional” experience when typing, you should check out the alternatives to the stock Surface Go on-screen keyboard layout. You can choose between the standard on-screen keyboard, a “compact” version, handwriting panels, or a fully functional on-screen keyboard just like a normal physical keyboard.

surface go on-screen keyboard
Choose between several different on-screen keyboards

Load Up Some Apps

There are some great games and apps that work very well on the Surface Go.

You should immediately check out OneNote, the do-everything note-taking and journaling application that comes standard with the Surface Go. It supports clipping, pen input, and synchronization with the mobile versions of the application, so your notes are always with you.

Check out great apps in the Microsoft Store

Drawing and sketching on the small tablet can be a lot of fun. If you have purchased the optional pen (a must-have in my opinion) check out Autodesk Sketchbook and the Sketchable app to exercise your creativity.

For gaming, there are several great games available that work very well on the Surface Go. Minecraft plays well, as do Steam titles like “Slay the Spire”, “Celeste”, and many more.

Join Windows Insider

One of the most interesting (or foolhardy) things yo can do is join the Windows Insider program. You can opt for Fast or Slow updates, with fast being for the brave and slow for the more conservative among us. You’ll get access to new functionality and features before anyone else, but there are caveats in terms of exposure to more instability. If you want to help shape the next Windows release, this might be worth investigating. I had very few issues with the Windows Insider program fast ring when I added the Surface Go.

Enjoy!

I took my Surface Go with me on a three-week vacation, and did not miss my Surface Book 2 daily driver at all. It may not be as fast or as powerful as a standard laptop, but for content consumption, light gaming, and on-the-go productivity, it is a winner.

If you have any tips for getting the most out of your Surface Go, please share!

The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time

I read an article last week that charted changes in Canadian life expectancy since 1921. If I had been born in that year, the odds are good that I would already be dead. The average life expectancy of a person born in 1921 was 57, a milestone I reached last year.

canadian life expectancy

By the time I was born, in 1960, life expectancy had grown to 70 years, and now, a child born in Canada can expect to live to be in their mid-eighties. What a fantastic gift that is. Continue reading “The Gift of Time”

Two people on a bench

Being Aware: Compatibility’s Key

I believe my spouse is so much better at understanding and describing how relationships work than I. The fact that I am aware of that may be the key to our compatibility over 25 years.

Last night we were talking about relationships, as one of our daughters enters a new one after several years of single life. I wondered out loud what makes people compatible, despite being entirely different personalities. I used our relationship as an example.

My partner, as is their gift, got straight to the “meat” of it.

“We know what little things drive each other crazy, and we avoid doing those things around each other. We care about, and are aware of, who we each are and what makes us happy.”

What an excellent example of what can make being together either stress-free or intolerable. The simple act of being aware of each other can make all the difference. Continue reading “Being Aware: Compatibility’s Key”

galaxy tab s3 and surface pro

Surface Pro from Galaxy S3 – A Migration Story

I admit it – I am a tech junkie. This addiction, a point of lots of ribbing by my partner,  holds true for all forms of technology: phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and all types of accessories for them. My latest acquisition of a Surface Pro led to a journey of migration from Android to Windows, with (mostly) success!

A Tale of Tablets

One of my passions has been tablet technology. I’ve owned the following tablets, among others (in no particular order):

  • Blackberry Playbook
  • Nexus 7
  • Surface Pro (first one)
  • Nvidia Shield Tablet
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S1
  • Asus Transformer
  • Asus Vivotab
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 2017

You’ll notice many of these are stylus-included devices. I have sausage-sized fingers and have found I get a better degree of control when using a stylus. No slam on Apple, but I owned the first generation iPod Touch back in ’08 and was not overly impressed with the OS or ecosystem. They are also a combination of various operating systems. Except for the short-lived Playbook, I’ve used Windows and Android-based tablets with abandon!

The most recent transition has been from the beautiful Samsung S3 to the latest Surface Pro from MS. I picked up the S3 after playing with it and the S-Pen for a bit. I was not disappointed in it at all but always missed the ability to work on writing and photo editing using my laptop. I was still walking around with two devices. Not ideal! Continue reading “Surface Pro from Galaxy S3 – A Migration Story”