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May 27, 2008


Garmin Forerunner 305
Garmin Forerunner 305

My wife is the best.

For my birthday, she bought me the Dick Tracy watch pictured at left. It’s a combination stopwatch, heart rate monitor and GPS unit. Albeit a little bulky, it’s only 77g, and fits fairly comfortably on your wrist.

It records where you are (< 10 m accuracy), how fast you are going (< 0.05 m/s accuracy), and your heart rate at 5 second intervals. It gives you instant feedback about the elapsed time, your current pace, etc. It will even display a crude map showing your location, and guide you back to your starting point.

And it interfaces, via USB, with your computer. Plug it in, at the end of your run, and you get a plot like this.

Garmin Training Center window
Data downloaded from the watch, displayed in Garmin’s application

You can see clearly where I stopped to refill my Camelbak with water, around the 50 minute mark1. No, I don’t know what the little spike at the 23 minute mark was about. But you can see the course a little better if you launch Google Earth

Mopac to I35 loop, viewed from Google Earth
Same data, in Google Earth

bottle of SXUL Dark Chocolate Vodka

The data can be exported as XML, though I’m not quite sure what one might do with the result.

In case endorphins were not enough, my other birthday gift was a bottle of dark chocolate vodka. The manufacturer is a local chocolatier, whose non-liquid products are justifiably sought-after. This one is a rich, syrupy liquid, which tastes pretty much like a drinkable version of their dark chocolate truffles. Except … well … that it’s 60 proof.

It’s also the only bottle of liquour that I’ve ever owned that says “Shake well before serving.” I guess I must just be buying the wrong stuff …

1 The somewhat lackadaisical pace of the run depicted above can be ascribed to two things not recorded by this watch: that I am recovering from a hip injury and that the ambient temperature was 100 ℉ during the run.

Posted by distler at May 27, 2008 10:03 AM

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Re: Gadgets

Happy birthday, Jacques!

Posted by: Dmitry on May 28, 2008 12:13 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Gadgets

Garmin has a similar specific GPS unit for biking (G305), see

Geoladders has put together an interesting database for local mountain-biking trails:

I use it all the time to scout my local MTB’ing routes. The San Gabriel Mtns category (Mt. Wilson area) shows a lot of routes near JPL. This is where R. Feynman, M. Gell-Mann, M. Delbrucke used to hike. There was a memoir of S. Coleman by S. Glashow, talking about hiking to Mt. Wilson “to get above the smog”.

Check out the SPOT, a GPS tracking/messenger system:

Useful for outdoor activity. Would have been useful for Kea for her mountain crisis.

Posted by: chimpanzee on May 29, 2008 4:56 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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