I wish libraries would take a page from the old DVD-based Netflix, and make it possible to put hold requests on a queue.

I’d really like to be able to tell the library that I only want one 3 (or 6, or 9) books at a time, and have it pull those books in roughly the order I have them in my queue, skipping over books that aren’t available. (Of course leaving them on the queue until they are.)

I say “roughly,” because if a book is part of a series, I want to read them in order. So, if the next book isn’t available, don’t just go on to the following book. Instead, skip ahead in my queue to the next non-series book that’s available.

When I find a bunch of interesting books, and put holds on them all at the library, they tend to all show up all at once. Then I have a big stack of books at home, most of which I’m not reading. That seems like a waste. Plus, then I have to return them all at once, often before I’ve finished with the last ones.

Obviously I could handle this by making a list of books I’m interested in, and then putting them on hold 3 (or 6, or 9) at a time. But that’s not only more work for me (which could easily be handled by the library’s computer), but there’s also no way to account for some of the books being already checked out.

Libraries should just handle this for me.

I have been surprised (and a little amused) by how difficult the first exercise in the Born to Run training guide is. It’s really just a combination of two exercises that I do all the time already, so I figured it would be pretty easy. But no.

Basically, it’s just single-leg standing with the heel raised. There are three versions with minor differences in what you do with the non-standing leg, to challenge your standing leg in different ways.

I have done single-leg standing for years as part of my tai chi practice. I also do calf-raises nearly every day, including some single-leg calf-raises. And yet. Put them together and things get dramatically harder.

With the single-leg standing exercises I do as part of my tai chi practice, I have my heel down—which makes standing on that foot much, much easier.

With the single-leg calf-raises, I’m only balancing on the standing leg for a few seconds, which turns out to also make a difference.

Standing on one foot with the heel off the ground, and then staying that way for tens of seconds, turns out to be much harder than I’d expected. But it’s harder in ways that I can already tell will mean practicing those exercises will quickly produce improvement not just in those exercises, but also in my running, and in my general foot strength and foot health.

In particular, I keep trying to jab the tip of my left index toe into the ground, when I should be using the pad of the toe. (Probably a left-over from decades of sometimes wearing too-small shoes. My index toes are longer than my big toes, which is not something that shoe salesmen in the 1960s thought about. Also my left foot seems to be a fraction of an inch longer than my right foot, so shoes that fit my right foot perfectly slightly constrained my left index toe.)

My Oura ring prepared an annual summary of the data it has gathered. One interesting bit shows the dramatic change in my activity since getting Ashley

This shows my activity levels across the day, averaging the whole year together:

A graph of my low, moderate, and hard activity levels for all of 2022, showing a distinct peak of hard activity in late morning through 1:00 PM.

The white area shows when I was engaging in “hard” activity—basically running, high-intensity interval training, and (if I was really going at it) lifting weights. I did quite a bit of those things for most of the year, and the Oura ring is interested to observe that it was largely between about 10:00 AM and noon.

That graph averages the whole year together. This graph shows the same thing, but just for the month of November (we got Ashley on November 2nd):

A graph of my low, moderate, and hard activity levels in November, showing a few moderate peaks, and very little high activity.

I had only a modest amount of hard activity, mostly early in the morning and then again at mid-day. (I assume those are bits where Ashley wanted to run and I tried to keep up with her, something that I quit doing after tripping, falling, and splitting the skin across my knee.) Basically, I replaced nearly all my hard activity with lots and lots more medium activity.

Just as an aside: My 4:00 PM cocktail hour really shows up on these graphs, with modest spikes in activity that I think have gotten larger now that I get the dog out for pre- and post- cocktail hour walks.

One other tidbit that changed with the dog has been my “restorative time,” periods of low activity where the heart rate falls quite a bit. You can see the difference between the first ten months of the year and the last two here:

I used to get at least some most days, but since I got the dog my restorative time has really dropped off. I think that’s partially just because my periods of low activity are shorter (because pretty soon I have to take the dog out again), and maybe also because, since I have less hard activity, I don’t feel the same impulse to really slow down when I get a chance to do so.