Strava

Strava running app was the next shiny thing to attract my attention using Amazon Underground. I was nonplussed by Adidas’ Runtastic, and deleted ASICS’ RunKeeper as being redundant to Nike+ running but without the friends. I found no friends in RunKeeper space. 

I tried UnderArmour’s MapMyRun but on install the app demanded to upgrade to a new version. Which failed. And then I could not log in. Deleted. 

Using again the Amazon “Underground” app store for Android cell phones I installed one of the last independent mainstream running apps, Strava. 


Knowing that my phone has limited capabilities, I ran a first test run with no pauses, no pictures. Nothing that might stall Strava. 

I did not see a built in music controller such as Nike+ includes. The run included running under trees and ended in rain. I turned on auto-pause and voice options prior to the run. These options were not obvious as the settings appear only once one selects to start a run. 


I was pleased with the post run data. Well laid out screens, logically located, with all of the data details. I had set voice to half mile notifications and was happy to see half mile split data. Nike+ provided only mile splits. 

The Strava voice was quicker in cadence than Nike+, without the pauses I am familiar with in Nike+. I saw no voice choices, the default is female.​


Elevation is notoriously inaccurate, but fun to see. And the continuous pace chart was noisy but informative. 
​I was impressed with the GPS track. The line was sharp and spot on. 


I was shocked to see my ninety degree turn along the Spanish Wall basketball court. I do not recall any app catching that before.


My phone has limited resources. Nike+ uses 50 Mb while Adidas train and run uses 80 Mb. Thus seeing Strava only using 32 Mb was a pleasant surprise.

Strava, like RunKeeper, successfully posted to FaceBook, but then I did use FB as my log in for both, which I did not do with Nike+.


There are premium features for a subscription, but all of the basic run data is available in the free version.


If I run identical routes, Strava will apparently track the runs as “matched” runs.

I did see a few FaceBook friends listed in my Strava friends list, but nothing like the over one hundred friends I enjoy on Nike+.

Strava is intriguing enough to keep on my LG P715 Android phone for now. Still, Nike+ is where my friends are, and that is a big plus. 

My own sense is that over the longer haul only the apps backed by major corporations will survive – Nike, Adidas, ASICS, UnderArmour. Strava too may one day be acquired, but for now its independence is attractive. 

RunKeeper

Grandpa is a kid in an app candy store at Christmas. Out here in Micronesia the Google Play store has a limited app selection. For running, my LG P715 Android rig has a choice of Nike+ running or Adidas train and run. 

​On a whim I downloaded the Amazon app store for Android phones which Amazon is marketing as “Amazon Underground.” To install one must enable installation of apps from unknown sources in the security settings of the phone. This has security implications and will make the phone vulnerable to malware if you have seven year old handling your phone. Enough said. 

Amazon Underground picked up my Amazon credentials automatically, possibly from my Kindle app. This appears to make me a “registered” user. Using Amazon Underground I was able to download Runtastic, an app not in the Google Play store for Micronesia. Runtastic, however, then wanted to download a separate music app for in-run music. Nonplussed, I found I could download RunKeeper too! Runkeeper has no built in music player, but had a click- through to the Google Player. Good enough for taking RunKeeper out for a test drive. Interesting app. 

First impression? Although minor, I have come to prefer the sequence and cadence of the Nike+ voice. Unlike Adidas train and run, RunKeeper seemed rock solid on hanging on to the GPS or interpolating losses seamlessly. Map was blank, but those sometimes load later. I will explore and see if Strata is an option too. Note RunKeeper is a two tier app, a free app with limited features and a premium pro app with all features on a subscription price basis.

​By the way, my use of the FaceBook Lite app provides me the space to download the many apps I do use on my memory limited LG. 

As I said, a kid in app candy store!

Flowers

Every year I dread the arrival of late May and early June. I have perhaps lived here a decade or two too long. May and June are the months when the island tragically loses some of the best and brightest of the youth of the nation. Although I attempt to engender learning in my statistics course, I do not pretend to know either the statistics nor the cause of the tragedies. I only know that hearts will be ripped out of the chests of parents who have lost a child. I know that survivors will live with guilt and “what ifs” for the rest of their lives. For all, there is a loss that can never be returned. A pain that time cannot and will not heal. And no words that anyone can say that comfort those who have been left behind. There may be solace for a brief moment, but then you turn around for some reason expecting him or her to be there, and suddenly you realize they are not and will never again be. There. And the gaping hole reopens. Ten years after. Twenty. Forevermore.

Seven

No, I do not know the causes. No, I do not know the solutions. In the absence of causes and solutions, doing nothing is tantamount to accepting the annual injuries and occasional losses. Might I suggest a change in habits. Give flowers. Not money. Give mwarmwars, leis, garlands, blossoms, and balloons. Giving money may lead to bringing flowers to the family later. Better to give flowers now rather than money now and flowers later. End the gifting of money to the graduates. Do not tuck that money into their hands at graduation. Hug them, flower them, balloon them, have a family get together at home. And remind them that they are not done, they have only just begun.

Elites

For me running is not about the elites. Never has been. The elites of any sport have never inspired me. That is perhaps an echo of my own youth. I was last picked in gym class. In all sports.

Except the term my high school struggled to newly implement Title IX fully coed phyical education classes. The coaches were unsure how far to go. So in gymnastics class the other male members of the class volunteered me to be the first boy to tackle the UNeven bars. I attempted some kind of flying hip catch, sailing from the upper to the lower bar. Then I fell to the mat, curled up into a ball, and saw the stars.

I was not just uncoordinated. I was a detriment to any team I was on. I did not mind, I disliked physical anything.

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Running would arrive later in my life. After the last gym class. Long after.

Organized sports and athletic movements celebrate the sports elite. Fans and spectators celebrate the athletically elite. I do not. The support, the attention, is only on the winners. When an elite of any level crashes down, for whatever reason, there is a brief moment of sympathy for the fallen athlete and then the bright spotlight of attention and support moves on.

Whether the athlete simply stops winning, is permanently injured, is caught succumbing to the pressure to dope to stay on top, or is taken out by personal circumstances, the attention moves on. If this happens early in a promising sporting life, then the soul of the young hopeful can land in a very dark and lonely place.

I was never an elite. Never will be.  I am still running. I am inspired by those who have fought their way from a couch to a 21 minute mile and on down to a 16 minute mile, and are still getting out there on the road to run. I am inspired by everyone who will never be an elite, who get no support, no attention, and who slog on. I am inspired by those who have crumpled and fallen, who can no longer even hope to be at the top of their sport, perhaps even feel disgraced or shame, but who pick themselves up and run on.

A successful runner is not one who wins, a successful runner is one who will tie their shoes again on some future day, head out the door, and run again. I am a runner is a present and future tense statement. Perhaps only old runners know that no matter how hard the fall in life, running is always there, the one touchstone.

Choices

My path is defined by the choices I make and choose not to make, the choices others make and choose not to make, and natural events. When I run there is a sense of control. Yet any sense of control is illusory.

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The reality is that momentum limits my options when others make choices. I can but react. In those split seconds there is no time to blame or complain, only time to react. And then to run on. Whether I have made a choice with positive outcomes is never immediately clear. Only in the fullness of time might I learn what will be. Perhaps the perceived limits are also illusory. Every time I drop a juggled tennis ball I am reminded of how often I err, and I have been dropping the ball more often than usual these days.

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Contemplations

As those who follow me may be aware this age year is an age year of reflection. I am the age at which my father passed away. As a runner I seem to be in better physical shape than my father was at this age. While his risk at my age was a heart attack, my larger risk this age year is the traffic I joggle in amidst on an evening run.

This evening was a particularly poignant nightfall. As is the custom I headed to the state morgue to join family in keeping watch until an off-island brother can arrive for the funeral. I had been visiting when I could over the past few evenings. I knew those who came and went, and how they were connected.

Sadness

Tonight when I arrived at the morgue the faces there confused me. They were from other connections. I gradually realized some were connected to the passing of a wonderful wife and loving mother I heard about earlier in the day. Her remains were in the morgue. There were other faces there, friends and family, that did not fit into either of the deaths I knew of.  And I saw a third coffin.

I learned that a third friend had passed away and that the remains were also there at the morgue. The third friend was someone who had come many years ago to Pohnpei and had made Pohnpei their home. A family who had hosted them in their early years on Pohnpei sent members up to note that they would handle the burial. The family even noted that Mwohnsapw Isipahu was awaiting the arrival of the deceased. I was comforted by the love shown.

In this age of social media I am more aware of the passing of the loved ones of friends. People I might not directly know, but whose passing directly impacts people I do know. There are not more people passing away, social media simply surfaces deaths more efficiently than I would normally stumble across.

When the funeral is far away I always wonder what I can to be of comfort. As do others, I offer my prayers and condolences. These are what I can do yet they seem insufficient – a friend who recently lost their father said that a memory will return to their mind unbidden and then they  fall to a million pieces all over again at the sense of loss. The living are left to comfort those whom the deceased is survived by.

While this is an age year of reflection and contemplation, and few know when they’ve seen their last sunrise, I expect to see a good many sunrises to come. Still, I will leave this suggestion, should you be around in some future decade when my passing surfaces on social media – when you are wondering what to post or perchance do, to go out and run a mile. Run a mile and lose yourself in thoughts of those you’ve known, those you’ve loved, and have lost.

Where will your running data be tomorrow?

A friend posted a screenshot of a fitness app I had not yet seen. Indulging my shiny object fascination of the moment, running and fitness apps, I had a look at the capabilities of the app. The app appears to be a good fit to what he is trying to do.

Some veteran runners like to keep running logs, track their running over the years. I ran for years without intentionally logging my runs. In 1998 Runner’s World sent a free running log, and I began to use the log to record fitness activities including running. I began to have data I wanted to retain. Data that has to be stored and conserved.

Running log June 1998
Running log June 1998

Some thirty-five years ago I had an Atari 800 computer. The simple programs I wrote had to be stored on a audio cassette tape. During that same era the 5.25 inch floppy disk provided removable storage for the Apple II computer. Within a few short years the 3.25 inch floppy disk would supersede the 5.25 inch floppy disk. This past week the last computer with a 3.25 inch floppy disk drive was retired from the division in which I work. I still have data on 3.25 inch floppy disks, but that data will never again be accessible.

Running log
Running log early days

In 1996 I created a web site in CompuServe. In 1998 the FSM lost the dial-up connectivity to CompuServe and switched on direct connectivity to the Internet. I had to recover the orphaned data from a hard drive mirroring my on line site, moving the data to GeoCities. Within three years I was again moving that data to college servers.

Running log
Running log, September 2000. ASICS Gel MC+ 98 shoes.

Over the years I have learned that with changes in technology come orphaned, abandoned, and sometimes unrecoverable data. Today data is often stored in cloud services, which is almost more vulnerable to sudden change than hardware based technology. A storage provider may suddenly decide to depart the storage market (Ubuntu One) or start charging fees for what was once free storage (Amazon Cloud Drive).

Running log notebook 2010
Running log notebook style 2010

If the data is in a proprietary format, the loss of a software package may make the data unrecoverable.

When I first acquired a GPS enabled Android smart phone in late 2014, I looked for an app that could provide time, distance, and mapping capabilities for my running. Thirty years of rescuing and moving data is always on my mind when I make a data storage choice. I always want to know how a company plans to stay in business. If there is no clear way for the company to benefit from me or my data, then that is not a secure data storage choice. And the company should be big enough to fend off being acquired and taken apart by a competitor.

Running log 17 May 2015
Google MyTracks “running log” 17 May 2015

I opted for Google MyTracks reasoning that Google might just be big enough to not fail anytime soon. Google thrives on user data, MyTracks provides more information about me (where I am and where I tend to go) that has potential marketing value.

Google MyTracks Trace
Google MyTracks Trace

MyTracks provided only basic total time, distance, speed, and mapping capability.

NIke+ running app
NIke+ running app

During the summer of 2015 I became aware of a running app option that was functional in Micronesia, an option I had not seen in 2014. Although two of the market leaders, Runtastic and Runkeeper, are not available in the Google Play app store in Micronesia, Nike+ running was available. Runtastic and Runkeeper have a two tiered business model. The lower tier appears to be a lite version for free, possibly with advertising, and a paid subscription model with more features. Nike+ running is free – all features -and apparently an outgrowth of their abandoned fitness FuelBand.

Nike+ mapping
Nike+ mapping

Nike+ running provided data on splits, personal bests, and nice touches such as tracking total kilometers per shoe. All of the data a runner might want to access. Yet what of tomorrow? Nike has a business model that may be more sustainable than a small operation supporting a dedicated running app. Nike as a company certainly has the size and resources to survive. Yet the app is peripheral to their core business and could be shed like the FuelBand product. Whither one’s running data then? Where Google MyTracks could upload KMZ files to Google Drive, Nike+ has no clear path to data export nor extraction.

A dedicated app housed in a small independent software developer is equally insecure over the long haul. A company the size of a Nike or Google could buy the app or acquire the development team to enhance their own fitness apps should they choose to do so. Data may remain trapped in a proprietary format on cloud servers, inaccessible when the app no longer exists. A veritable 3.25 inch floppy disk of the modern era: without the drive the data is effectively lost. Without the app, the data generated by the app is lost.

Paper is not a particularly secure data storage option, but keeping a log in a notebook remains a viable option. I continue to echo run information into locally available composition notebook. That is the only way I have of knowing where my running data will be tomorrow. Where is your data sleeping tonight and will it be accessible tomorrow?

Nike+ running app first light

Having seen friends using the Nike+ running app here on Pohnpei, I thought I would give Nike+ running a spin. This blog pulls together a series of observations I have made over the past couple weeks in other places.

I have been using Google MyTracks since October 2014. MyTracks is not specifically a running app, more a general purpose track and trace route tool. Nike+ reports total time, calories, average pace, NikeFuel earned, splits, and maps the route one has run if outdoors.

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I’m using Nike+ running 1.7.2 on an LG Optimus II P715 Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean rig. Note that the temperature reported in the screen above only appears after synchronization. I suspect that the temperature is the result of an online lookup on the server side, not a reading from the telephone.

The app also tracks total distance logged on each shoe, a statistic for which I have never had any information. I really do not know how many kilometers I rack up in a shoe before the shoe delaminates, and I always run a shoe until that delamination point. Way beyond loss of cushioning in the EVA foam.

Nike+ has running specific features including reporting of splits, a capability MyTracks does not have. Determining road splits in the past usually meant hauling a Garmin eTrex, a piece of paper, and a pen, to record the splits. Having them automatically available feels luxurious. I have used splits in my statistics class, data the students can use to calculate 95% confidence intervals and other metrics. This is also the first time I have known splits for joggling. When I run, I usually juggle three tennis balls. I cannot carry a GPS and juggle, so splits while joggling were completely unknown.

2015-07-27-20-02-14

The LG P715 has an accelerometer, which the Nike+ running app can use when indoors on a treadmill to estimate distance based on steps. The app apparently uses a generic step distance to calculate distance. The uncalibrated app credited me with 1.83 km (1.137 miles) for 1.00 miles displayed on the treadmill (14% long).

5.4 mph steady pace run on treadmill for one treadmill mile
5.4 mph steady pace run on treadmill for one treadmill mile

I ran the treadmill mile at 5.4 mph. Note the mile measure is based on the treadmill as seen below, not the app. The app is set in kilometers, the default for Nike+ running is in miles.

Treadmill data
Treadmill data

1830 meters by the app for 1806 steps on the treadmill suggests the app was using 1.01 meters per step, or about a meter per step. If the treadmill is correct, then my actual stride on the treadmill was 0.89 meters. This difference is also roughly 14%.

Calibration run
Calibration run

On the fourth of August I attempted a calibration run with the Nike+ running app. In retrospect I suspect I should have done this with the settings set to miles not kilometers. I used a Garmin GPS to run 1.61 km on the track. I do not now recall the app distance, but the app was short at about 1.53 some kilometers. I used edit run to enter the correct distance, but on closing that screen the app reported a different value than I typed in. Eventually I found I had to enter 2.0 km for the app to report that I had run 1.61 km, as seen in the screen shot. I suspect some sort of faulty conversion process in the edit run module of the app.

The Nike+ running app feeds data to the nikeplus web site, providing another way to pull up data and statistics.

Nike+ home page
Nike+ home page

The full site includes an animation of the most recent run route.

Route with satellite view
Route with satellite view

A satellite view option is also available on the desktop version of the web site.

Trophies and badges
Trophies and badges

One feature of a running app is typically the awarding of badges and trophies, along with tracking personal bests. The awards for NikeFuel levels are based on Nike’s proprietary NikeFuel score. Nike wanted to be able to combine all possible athletic activities into a single metric. Working with Glen Gaesser, an exercise and wellness professor at Arizona State University, Nike generated a correlation between wrist acceleration and oxygen uptake. This was then turned into a dimensionless value referred to as NikeFuel. The original work was aimed at a wrist based accelerometer, but the cell phone based apps also generate NikeFuel scores. The Nike+ Fuelband is claimed to be a valid and reliable estimate of  physical activity energy expenditure.

Whether the FuelBand is still available is unclear to this author. I suspect the $149 retail price, the same price as an Android phone that can run apps that also generate NikeFuel, was probably beyond what the market would bear for a dedicated fitness device. NikeFuel is an attempt to “gamify” fitness, find a way to generate a video game like score that one can then tout to one’s friends, but the “black box” nature of NikeFuel makes this hard to do. Runners talk in terms of distances run, times, pace, these are the “smack talk” of running. I have trouble seeing how an effectively dimensionless black box of a number will compete with existing physical metrics.

supersonic
Supersonic

Sure, I cracked off 18 NikeFuel points per minute for thirty minutes three times in one week. But what does that actually mean? Even my children laughed at me when I tried to brag about being supersonic. Without a clear link to the physical world, NikeFuel is ultimately doomed to irrelevance.

5k personal record
5k personal record

Error and uncertainty are central to statistics and physical science. One cannot measure anything twice and get the same result.

Nike+ running app on LG P715 Android phone.
Nike+ running app on LG P715 Android phone.

I ran on the road with two GPS equipped devices on the same day as the calibration run above. A Garmin eTrex Venture HC held in my hand produced 8.18 kilometers. Nike+ said 8.94 km for my cell phone mounted on the same arm. Now I suppose that my upper arm could have traveled 760 meters further than my hand, but as both are still attached to me, I doubt it. Seven runs to the airport gate and back 2009-2010 average 7.898 km using a Garmin eTrex, the dock gate is a tad farther. Out to the dock and back has averaged 8.42 km on prior runs with my phone, which is reasonable in light of the 2009-2010 data. 8.94 seems a tad long.

Garmin eTrex Venture HC
Garmin eTrex Venture HC

Middle numbers are safer choices in measurements, thus I suspect the Garmin was short and the LG P715 was long. The trace from that day suggests that there was an error in measurement.

Note two to three km is longer than six to seven
Note two to three km is longer than six to seven

As noted in the caption above, the distance from two to three kilometers is longer than from six to seven kilometers. As I was running the same route out and back, that is a significant difference and an indication of some form of error. The Deketik gate out-and-back run is somewhere out around the 8.42 kilometer average.

By default I leave my GPS on, even when running inside. On the ninth of August I set Nike+ running to indoor. The next day I switched back to outdoor. At some point in this process the app must have switched off my always on GPS, as I discovered it was off after I came in from my run on the tenth. So switching from outdoor to indoor may inactivate the GPS, but switching back to outdoor does not reactivate the GPS.

NBFS via Kaselehlie Elenieng
NBFS via Kaselehlie Elenieng

The Nike+ running app can apparently disable the GPS but not re-enable the GPS. This makes sense as the GPS adds load to the battery – unloading the battery is less protected than loading the battery. Google MyTracks used to ask permission to re-enable the GPS. Noting that I did run a calibration of the Nike+ running app, the distance is in concurrence with other distance numbers for that route. Seven runs with a Garmin unit in 2009-2010 averaged 7.923 km on that route. Google MyTracks reported 8.47  km on 03 November 2014. This fits a pattern where the LG P715 is generating longer distances that the Garmin eTrex units. Lesson learned: manually re-enable the GPS in the Nike+ running app after running inside.

Note that the Nike+ running app cannot automatically post to FaceBook for those of us in the 691 telephone area code. The issues is probably the security and verification systems in FaceBook. FaceBook cannot send an account verification code to a 691 number, and thus the Nike+ app is blocked from automatically posting (no auto-post to an unverified account). That also means a 691 runner cannot post to FaceBook while running and receive cheers in return.

Real time cheering
Real time cheering

A runner in the United States with autoposting to FaceBook activated. If liked or commented on during the run, the app cheers for the runner.

There are some other caveats for the Nike+ runner in the Federated States of Micronesia. The app appears to award badges and count weeks of activity based on the time zone of Nike headquarters in Oregon. Thus I do not get a weekly based badge until Oregon gets over into the new week. I also earn Night Owl run badges for running between midnight and 0300 hours. I do not run at those times here in GMT +11, but the time over in Oregon at GMT -8 is the small hours of the night.

Meanwhile my children will laugh at me even harder when they learn that I have exceeded supersonic.

hypersonic
hypersonic

First light is an astronomical reference to the first light to fall on a telescopic lens or mirror. The article is an early days overview of the app, first use by the author.

Post-script: NikeFuel on the Nike+ running app might not be a completely black box. There are high correlations to the distance run (r = 0.9995, n = 22) and the duration of a run ((r = 0.9907, n = 22). Pace is not well correlated (r = 0.4724, n = 22), what correlation does exist can be explained by the distance and duration.

Nikefuel correlations
Nikefuel correlations

Distance is in miles, pace in minutes per mile, and duration is in minutes. NikeFuel values are on the x-axis. NikeFuel for the running app may be based solely on distance as duration is dependent on distance for a runner at a fairly constant pace. Note that some runs were done on treadmills. All but one treadmill run was post-calibration.

Post-script, three months of use, update on trophies only

Nikeplus trophies and banners
Trophies and banners including 150K

Athleticism as the driving engine of positive health outcomes

She turns slightly as she faces the mirror, flexing her shoulder muscles, their underlying contours sharply defined on her now lean, lithe, muscular body. A hint of a smile crosses her face, she is pleased with what she sees. The work outs have been hard, but she can see the progress.

I look at her and see an athlete. The mirrors in the fitness center might have been placed there to ensure one is executing a lift with proper form, but the athletes therein know that the mirrors are there for posing. An athlete is concerned about their body, their appearance. They come to view their body as something that has to be cared for physically. The athlete learns from their performance, their sense of energy, that the type of fuel which goes into the machine matters. The athlete comes to care about nutrition. Their joy in their body form leads from working out to eating right which leads to improved health outcomes.

Marlin working out
Marlin working out

Micronesia is wracked by non-communicable diseases. Here in the FSM the 30% rate of diabetes in the adult population, the 80% to 90% of the population with body mass index over 25, is particularly devastating. Lives cut short, lives lived with horribly reduced quality of life. Kidney failure, dialysis, amputations, and death. As the Pacific Island Health Officers Association declared, this is the equivalent a natural disaster, a very real health emergency.

Yet the approach to solutions is typically health, nutrition, and maybe then fitness in that order. The largest health insurer in the nation pours money into health – treating the disease. As an insurance entity the insurer seems unable to grapple with the inevitability of the future collapse of a health insurance model that focuses on treating disease instead of preventing disease. There are too many with disease to be supported by the few who are healthy.

The insurer currently is responding to the crisis by raising rates, but eventually the rates rise to levels that the healthy are no longer will to pay. At some point the healthy members opt out, take the risk of being uninsured and paying their own way medically, and the company becomes fiscally insolvent. The health insurer disappears in sea of red ink.

Other organizations focus on nutrition and eating right. Some entities have been engaged in nutrition education for decades out here. Decades during which the national diabetes health profile has gotten worse, not better. These programs sound good, look good on paper, might even feel good, and ultimately have no substantive impact. Behaviors are not changed.

Shanalin working out
Shanalin working out

Only the athlete makes long term behavioral changes in their diet and moves on to positive health outcomes. First comes fitness, then comes dietary choice changes, and the result is health. The current approach focuses money on health, then diet, and a few crumbs are tossed to fitness and sport. Even the Compact funding is primarily in education (K-12) and health – with health being primary, secondary, and tertiary treatment-of-disease health care. Compact health sector funding might fund a hospital but never a fitness center nor a gym nor a track.

Shot on goal by Tristan
Shot on goal by Tristan

Yet only only money poured into fitness, exercise, and sport will make any long term lasting difference. Only fitness can save lives and improve the quality of life in the long haul.

What would a national plan look like that put fitness and physical exercise first? Significant, if not massive, increases in funding sport-supporting facilities, sports councils, active support for entities such as SHIP-HOOPS sports programs, and the FSM NOC. Funding at the state and national level for indoor fitness centers in each state, maintenance of existing facilities such as tracks, tennis courts, gymnasiums, and pools. An insurance program that incorporates incentives for a physically active life style. Partnerships between insurers such as MiCare, fitness centers, and facilities owners/operators. For example, the existence and continued operation of a swimming pool or publicly accessible track should be viewed as a benefit to an insurer such as MiCare; lack of maintenance of that facility should be seen as a loss.

Improved health care and health care facilities that focus on treatment will not reduce the disease burden. Increased nutrition education will not lead to changes in dietary choices that are contributing to the disease burden. Increased athleticism will lead to individuals making healthier dietary choices as they choose to value their physique. The result will be improved future health profiles.

Reading books

A quarter century ago I often kept a book around, sometimes lugging the book around and catching a page or two on a city bus or commuter train. Moving to Micronesia meant that I could not wander into a book store, rummage the shelves, and find a book of interest. Occasionally the library would acquire a book of interest to me, or more rarely I would request that a particular text be acquired, but these were rare events.

My taste in books is both eclectic and not best seller. Books on statistics, physics, and running tend to hold my interest – genres that even the largest bookstores would carry in limited selection only. By the turn of the century Amazon had come into existence and provided a potential option. The books I preferred, however, were often hardback, expensive, and shipping to these islands always carries a probability of loss. Not to mention that once here, books decay in the heat and humidity. There is no building up of a personal library in the equatorial tropics.

Back in September 2014 I upgraded from a Nokia Asha feature cell phone to an LG Android smart cell phone. A trip in October caused me to add a Kindle app and a book to read on the long flight, with little thought to use beyond the one journey.

Although the LG is a small screen relative to the size of a book or a monitor, I was pleasantly surprised at the readability. In 1999 Bill Hill wrote at length about the “magic of reading,” bringing together research on ludic reading, Optimized Serial Pattern Recognition (OSPREY), and generating the immersive flow that accompanies reading at length for pleasure. The paper delved into fonts and screen resolution.

In 1980 computer monitor resolutions were too low to support fonts, let alone sustained reading for pleasure. In 1984 the Macintosh introduced screens with resolutions that could support fonts. By the 1990s increasing monitor resolutions suggested that screens would eventually equal the resolution of print products. I recall being in conversations about whether screens could or would replace the printed book. As an over-generalization, older readers felt that screens would never generate the flow and magic of books.

The rise of social media after the turn of the century caused an ever increasing number of people to spend significant time reading via a monitor. By 2015 reading done from a screen around campus clearly dominated reading from a book.

The Kindle book on the LG was a one off experiment for the purpose of a long flight, I did not expect that I would find readability and flow on the small LG screen. Once I discovered that I could enjoy a book on my cell phone, I continued to read after I returned.

The books were not free, but each cost less than a single night of stone sakau. Reading only happens in the interstitial moments between other daily tasks, thus a single book can last me a month. That makes reading a less expensive habit than weekend sakau, a definition of affordability for me.

Books in Kindle
Kindle shelf

Reading on the cell returns the ability to spontaneously grab a page or two of reading here or there. While waiting for a meeting to start, or in a bank line, or while sitting in the car waiting for the shoppers to finish shopping. No need to lug around a book, I have a small library tethered to my hip. I carry my books even when I am running, they do not slow me down.

I was looking at the shelf today and thinking that thought that so many educators have thought before me: doesn’t this change everything? Is this not a change on the scale of the Gutenberg press making possible school text books?

I do not know where technology may take education, I only know that after a quarter century I am reading regularly again. Technology has again changed my habits and my personal quality of life, in this case enriching life on a small rock in the Pacific ocean.