“Add Title” (take 2)

I have broken the bonds of the narrow land
Laid open the book of dreams,
Drawn doorways in the sand, a dark traveling
With high fellowship or dread companion
From the last castle to the end of eternity;
strangers and pilgrims in a strange land,
The stars my destination.

When the world turned upside down,
From the earth's core to a starpilot's grave,
For a breath I tarried a long time until now: 
I saw the doors of his mouth open
the lamps of his eyes shine
A final rose bloom for Ecclesiastes
and no night, ever, without stars.
I will fear no evil, 
not the black god's kiss,
or the red nails' gleam;
Daemon, sidhe-devil, or devil in iron:
For the stars are ours,
and the stars

What's it like out there,
Down Skagganauk Abyss,
At the birthplace of creation,
At the crossroads of time?
In this moment of the storm,
There is time enough for love,
Soul music sung by no woman born,
The light of other days upon
A many-colored land.
The door into tomorrow opens
A house of many ways;
The eyes of the overworld 
seek patterns in chaos,
Equal rites are observed, 
And no man sayeth call him lord.
Somewhither east of Eden, 
children of the mind 
Play peter-power-armor,
awaiting childhood's end--
All mimsy are the borogoves!

Who goes there, out of the dark
To the light fantastic?
Creatures there are of light and darkness:
When true night falls on the borders of infinity
The dark side of the sun casts slithering shadows
Down the long tomorrow. 
Nightfall. After dark, 
Ancient, my enemy, 
the old gods waken. 
Alas, Babylon! The city and the stars!
Something wicked this way comes.
Beyond the black river, a man rides through,
And only I am escaped to tell thee.

Soldier, ask not, lest darkness fall,
Of unfinished tales or a dry, quiet war.
Take iron counsel of the cold equations;
Ours is the fury--a high crusade-- 
To bring in the steel with our brothers in arms,
Til the mountains of mourning crumble
And a fire is upon the deep,
Til the shards of honor are gathered
The forever war is won,
The guns of Avalon go silent,
And the long patrol come home.
Where the path of the fury takes us
Though foundation and empire crumble,
And the stars asunder wrend,
If the price of the stars 
Be the broken sword;
If the price of the stars
Be the human edge,
By God, we have paid it dear!

Sleeper, awaken! Out of the silent planet
To your scattered bodies go;
Sail beyond the sunset 
in a boat of a million years.
Bid farewell again to the homes of men
and the cool, green hills of earth.
A citizen of the galaxy,
I have space suit and I will travel
Beyond the farthest star.

Gear Review: Garmin Vivosmart 4

6290120_rdIn lieu of anything more worthwhile to talk about: I bought myself a wrist-based health tracker a couple weeks ago. It is, as the title of the post indicates, a Garmin Vivosmart 4, one of the very smallest, lightest, and cheapest in their lineup. (95$ for the black band, slightly more for the slightly nicer-looking ones.)

Small and light is actually a very good thing: it’s unobtrusive-looking and easy to forget about, even during sleep. And as far as value for the money, besides the health tracking features (heart rate, heart rate variability, activity, readiness score, sleep tracking, stress tracking, and pulse oxygen saturation), the Garmin proprietary app provides you with a lot more value and data–your data–without the subscription fee-model. The app gives you access your own stored past data (which Fitbit makes you pay for), access to free coaching, GPS courses shared by other people, and stored workouts that you can play on your phone. (Some of the smartwatches with the gigantic displays will be able to play/guide your workouts from your wrist. Nice.)

That being said, some of its features are great, some are ok, and some are just trash.

In the absence of any way to test the heart rate tracking, I’m assuming it’s good. Most wrist-based systems have figured out the basics. Apparently the Apple watch is the best overall at heart-rate tracking; I’m an Android user, however. It’s pretty cool to look back through the 7-day and 4-week timeline….and see how my resting heart rate ticked up with increased stress over certain periods.

Readiness scores: you get a 0-100 score on how charged up you are and how hard you should push it that day. I found this both unexpectedly valuable and uniquely useless, mostly because I haven’t been in situations where stopping and resting would be permissible or possible. On the other hand, starting out today with a nice round 100 was extremely motivating–both to get moving, and to knock it off when my score got to the threshold where I wouldn’t recharge fully by the next morning.

Stress tracking: If you hit a certain threshold, your watch will ask if you want to do a 3-5 minute breathing exercise to relax. It’s actually quite accurate, and occasionally useful. One prompt came when I was standing in between two irate short people who were having an intense disagreement on who legally can dispense medicine to other people’s animals. Like I said, useful….occasionally.

Pulse oxygen saturation: This is one feature that, in the time of COVID, I did want. Thing is, this device is only accurate to within 5% or so. Not hugely useful but as a last-ditch measure perhaps it can help.

Sleep tracking: It’s not great. But it’s not completely awful. (Fitbits or the Oura ring are supposed to be the best, but Fitbits have their pay-to-view setup and the Oura ring costs three times as much.)

As far as non-health/smartwatch features: you can control your phone’s music and view ((short)) texts from your wrist. This is pretty neat, I can’t lie. There’s also a Find My Phone feature on the band (and a Find My Watch on the phone app). The screen lights up when you lift your wrist and turns off when you lower it, you can select one of four watch faces and choose which widgets are in what order, etc. Battery life is unimpressive but will vary with what features are switched on. Mine is about 4 days. You have to use a proprietary charger. It’s supposed to be swimproof but I haven’t tested that. 

I have sensitive skin and did end up with a scaly spot on my left wrist after falling asleep, with the band on, way too tightly, for 13 hours. The solution to this is cleaning the watch band periodically with mild soap and an isopropyl alcohol chaser, switching wrists every week or so, and making sure it’s not cinched on too tightly. 

(It’ll also sync to your phone to tell you the temperature and tomorrow’s expected weather, which is a feature you never knew you needed until you have it.)

Anyway, I basically like it, even though it means abandoning my very nice 13$ Casio watch….

Overall: It’s worth a hundred dollars…if you plan to get a hundred dollars’ use out of it.