Peloton App and Getting Metrics

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I have been riding a Diamondback 1260sc for the duration of the pandemic using the Peloton App as my guide. The things that you miss when you don’t have a Peloton bike are an extra $26 per month in fees, and engagement with the metrics that “put you on the leaderboard.” The only way you get metrics in the app, at all, is if you connect a heart rate monitor (like the Wahoo Tickr), use an iPhone app to bridge your Apple Watch to an iPad (you can also use your iPhone natively), and add a cadence monitor, like the Wahoo Cadence. The Wahoo Cadence syncs fairly seemlessly as these things go.

So you get heart rate and cadence while you’re riding, but that’s it. No watts, no “output” – though if you’re lucky to have a console on your bike, like with mine, you can see some of that information.

I was growing hungry for finding out what my statistics would look like if I were riding on the Peloton. Thankfully, Peloton does give you a way to download the csv file, which you can export into a spreadsheet of your choice, like Excel, Numbers, or Google Sheets. I chose Sheets for mine, and was able to see all the blank spots that I could potentially fill.

My big peeve was that, though Peloton had registered in the app what my cadence from the Wahoo Cadence was, it did not put that information in the spreadsheet – so I had to manually enter it. That left the fields I was most interested in: Average Watts and Total Output. There were three bits I could take from the console on my bike, Date, distance and calories – these are kilocalories, and actually the amount of energy generated during the workout. These can be converted into joules (1 kcal is 4184 joules), with that divided by time (in seconds), you get the average watts for your workout.

For total output, this is measured in kilojoules. I do a kcal to kj conversion, which is 1 kcal to 4.184 kj. This is how I figure out where I may land on the leaderboard, and can retroactively compare myself to my friends. I popped this into my spreadsheet and now I can easily track my progress, even as a lowly app rider.

Wow, I keep trying to make this larger and it’s still super small. Lol. It’s my metrics spreadsheet.

Shout out to Brygs.com for these helpful blog posts on Watts to KJ Conversion and helping me understanding what the Peloton screen looks like for bike owners. Also, Google and DuckDuckGo have convenient conversion calculators built into search, just search something like 1 kj in kcal, and you will get your answer. Pretty handy.

Ask: What is this in service to?

I don’t tend to this blog these days. Mostly because, like I reasoned when I logged off of Facebook, there were often people who I wanted to see my posts that were specific people in my life. Why post more broadly, when there were really just a handful I wanted to connect with? Especially with an algorithm bent on distress and disharmony, instead of human connection.

“What is this in service to?” is a question I ask myself these days. I’m pretty busy, and I think I’m doing some pretty cool things, actually. I want to share them with the people I know and love, and maybe make new friends, but modern social media, and self-hosted blogging does not achieve this.

Instead of diving in to what has kept me busy, a bit of a segue: I logged in to find that apparently one of my posts from 4 years ago has brought more visitors to my site! Far out, actually. It’s not the best written post, and was just a rant about white supremacists spreading a picture of a “white aurora” with a side helping of toxic religion, which was just misattributed art work from 2010.

Recently, I was contacted by Doug Stanglin from USA Today who was doing a fact check on the Hem of His Garment aurora, which had been making another round through social media. I had a brief email exchange, and didn’t particularly need any attribution of my own (nor did he take from anything I wrote, so that’s fine), so I wasn’t mentioned in his article.

That being said, not sure why my site is getting traffic, but hey folks! If you’re curious, I just used Google Image Search and kept on narrowing for time until I arrived at the earliest known version of it, which was in 2010. Open source intelligence is a fun hobby, and this was definitely one of the more fun searches I’ve done.

Now, back to the whole reason I logged in – I’ve been proud of the new things I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been engaging with people in the local beer community that are underrepresented. I’ve been making yogurt every other week. I’ve filled my chest freezer with homemade chicken stock made from frozen scraps, and vegetable stock. This week I made my own seitan using the vegetable stock. I also made almond milk from some over stock of raw almonds. I’ve made cashew cream, and used it to thicken up some butternut squash soup. I’m still making cold brew coffee regularly, as the weather is not deterring me from my caffeine needs. Right now, I’ve got ingredients simmering to make a gallon of chai mix.

I’m hoping that in the next week I’ll get some of the things I need to start making little gifts for the holiday season. I’ll be buying some thoughtful things from local folks here and there, but I want to do something a little more cozy.

And then there’s the couple projects I have percolating should my current contract job end, and I have some free time on my hands.

That said, before you go posting something, I recommend asking yourself, what is this in service to? I hope you’ll remember that so many companies are making money off of your content, and if it doesn’t serve to better you or others, who does it serve?

Also, reach out to your friends directly. Passively hoping they see your post, and like or respond, isn’t good enough for you or them. Connect. I highly recommend it.

Music and Drifting

I’m in day five of being logged out of Twitter and Facebook. Social media has been a kind of anchor in my life, long before the idea of “social media” really existed. I’ve now been involved in social circles maintained on the Internet more than half of my life, and to be honest, sometimes it feels like time lost. There’s grief attached to it, at the time lost due to inattention to other things that were more fulfilling (like art), and then anger at the industrial psychology that has so adeptly manipulated so may of us to doomscroll through our insomnia.

Outside of the rage machine, I try to focus on my work, both paying and house, but now my attention and anxiety drifts to other places. Lately I’ve soothed some of that with music, though some of it ended up taking me down bittersweet memory roads.

This weekend’s playlist, so far:

Metallica – Metallica (The Black Album)

Metallica – Ride the Lightning

Evanescence – Fallen

Aphex Twin – Windowlicker EP

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

TR/ST – The Destroyer, Vol 1 and Vol 2

Wolfsheim – Casting Shadows

Chicago – Chicago II

Just Tell Me That You Want Me – A Tribute to Fleetwoood Mac

Turnmills to Fearless

I write a lot of things in my head when I’m just going about my day. I have for a long time, and sometimes a few jots end up on social media, but not much these days.

This week I returned to Mirabou State’s 2018 album Kingdoms in Colour. It’s all listenable, but track 3, Turnmills, hooks me every single time. It scratches an itch between Thom Yorke and Aphex Twin with maybe a louder pop sensibility. It is great on a car stereo or on my HomePod, but where the song really shines is on my noise-canceling headphones where I can hear the nuance of the samples layered with re-interpretation.

One of the things I love about electronic music is there’s so many beautiful synthetic sounds that are like head scritches for the soul.

I’ve queued the track Iris by TR/ST, from their upcoming album The Destroyer, Vol 2 to play next while I write this. It is much darker electronic, tapping into my memories of music that was much too loud vibrating my entire body in a smoke-filled, alcohol soaked club. Where Mirabou State is like a soothing balm, TR/ST is like Icy Hot. It’s not romantic, but maybe that’s where I am right now — where having contrary sensations simultaneously, being pulled apart by choice, feels like freedom. Stompy rhythm, unintelligible, sounds coming close and then somewhat submerged, bright overlays of retro synth. My hairs stand on end, and my heart feels lifted. It’s halfway to an ecstatic experience.

It’s easier to talk about music than much else.

Next track, Omnis Mundi Creatura by Helium Vola – a stompy dark track which was a favorite to fling my arms and dance furiously when I was a regular at Nocturna at Smart Bar/Metro in Chicago back around 2002 or so.

I was a assumed as a goth before I considered myself one. The title is a little flippant, even, because I’ve come to realize it is really only shorthand for understanding a larger subculture/philosophy if you have a sense of the music that surrounds it. I was reminded of this by a therapist leading the cancer caregiver support group I was in this past week. The fundamental misunderstanding that struck me was the assumption of pessimism, which is not entirely untrue except i the sense that I would call it more realism and a compulsive unwillingness to deny the truth of our inevitable decline and decay.

I’m trying to (note: next song, Dark Angel by VNV Nation) hold the truth of our human fragility in the same space that I hold the hope and curiosity that makes life worth living despite that. I don’t seek to deny the truth. We’re very good at propelling ourselves through our lives denying our fragility, and maybe that’s the way it should be, so we’re not anticipating the 20 story crane falling across the roadway we’re driving on an otherwise average day.

And that’s what I’m trying to capture, except my 20 story crane has not fallen yet.

Writing more of this would be too much. Too much of that soft-underbelly us dark souls are hiding behind our dark eyeliner and spiked jewelry. And my 30 minutes of writing is up.

Ending song: Fearless by VNV Nation

“I am not alone, I am not afraid, I am not unhappy
Such a stupid ritual to have to say to myself everyday
I’m not alone but I found my answer and set myself free, I’m not unhappy”

Set to Drain

I was one of the Six Troublemakers.

My senior year of high school was my second year of marching band color guard. If you’re unfamiliar, they’re the people in the marching band swinging around flags and other implements and running across the field all crazy-like. My first year I had nearly quit, but my instructor quickly turned from adversary to mentor, inspiring a fierce loyalty. My senior year, I was the only senior given too rookies to mentor, and both of them were difficult in their own way. I couldn’t tell you to this day if this was done to me out of a sign of respect or trying to get to me. Frankly, my paranoia from years of being bullied was pretty high.

There was a rumor going around that someone complained about or instructor being “too harsh.” Then there was the rumor that who our instructor wanted to be captain was overruled by the band director, who wanted the donor family’s kids to have dibs. Then our instructor was fired, our captains* showed up with “Captain” on both of their sweatshirts and six of us conspired to protest. We were defiant. We got together at one of the members’ houses and worked to sew our “ranks” onto our sweatshirts to wear at the next competition.

I was Sergeant.

It wasn’t about perceived rank, but more just pointing out what we thought was an unearned absurdity. Our stunt earned us being called out of class into the bandroom, where we were lectured (because we “threatened” the Captains), and the director looked at me and told me that the instructor I was defending didn’t like me and wanted me out in the first place. My response was that she told me that, and since that time we had become friends.

It’s true, me and some of the others actually hung out at her apartment.

Today was an incredibly rough day for me. As our guests were getting ready to leave for the evening, I had gone down to the basement to check on laundry to realize I had inadvertently drained the washer onto the floor of the room, where there is of course no actual drain. About an inch of water had collected in a pool, soaking a few boxes. One of our guests helped get stuff out of the way, and I wished them goodnight, and then set out for cleanup.

I used a squeegee from Daiso, a bucket, some towels, a mop, and a Muchkin branded flexible pitcher used to pour water over a baby’s head in a bath. After about 35 minutes of work, I had gotten the mess down to a single wet layer on the concrete. I thought about the story – likely apocryphal – of my Appalachian grandmother in the middle of winter, her husband away seeking work, chopping wood for the wood stove in the dead of night, to keep the family warm.

I figured I wanted to get an axe tattooed on me ASAP. Even ask for it as a gift, because I don’t have that kind of free money right now, too be honest.

I told Jon and he said that he didn’t want me to aspire to that – to the struggle. I said I aspired to the fortitude she had. I look at what the women in my family have done and survived, and my survival is thanks to their survival and sacrifice.

I know it has come at a cost.

Failure is not an option.

I know the pressure of late is starting to get to me. The flooding of the basement is evidence of that. My fatigue is making me sloppy. My attempts to offload some of the tasks I need handled have been unsuccessful, leaving me to feel like I’m fighting alone, even if it’s evidently not the case.

The thing is, for me, there is no question that I need to sleep, but that when I get up, there are things I must do. They aren’t just things that would be nice, they are set in stone. They are essential. They are uncompromising. They have to be done, and to be done right, most of the time, I want to be the one doing them. Whether I’m sick, or sad, or injured, the list of things that must be done does not go away, and my need to do them (or make sure they get done), does not go away. It is a mandate. What is good, what is right, what is just.

And my knees buckle. My basement floods.

I push myself to exhaustion because I want to wake up to see that the day is fresh and there’s nothing left undone. I push myself to exhaustion, because in my life I’ve never really trusted anyone else to do what I do. It is how I survived, even if I never wanted the job I’m so damn good at when I’m not falling apart.

I know how to survive, but I’m not sure if it’s a way to live.