Category Archives: Cool-tech

Amazing apps and technology for retired couples and individuals.

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An App With A Lifetime of Purpose

In the middle years of my career, right about the time I was transitioning from middle management to senior level management, it was all about simplicity. Most of the work I was doing before this transition was highly technical, hard sciences, math and engineering centered projects. There were times when my reports and presentations brought me a lot of feedback that could be summed up as, “Can’t you make this easier so that we can understand what you’re talking about.” Then one day I changed my reporting style. Instead of writing to impress the professor, as I had done in college, I instead wrote as if I was trying to impress my wife. I took my time to set the foundation, the plot, simple evidence, and outlined the results. It worked in most cases.

This cooltech article is one of those cases where the subject is hard science based. I could go deep into Albert Einstein and Issac Newton laws of spacetime, quantum physics, and gravitational warps, but let’s agree not to. Instead I’m going to just say this about their thoughts and experiments, how can I obtain the minimal rate of aging. It’s not like I want to live forever, I don’t. It’s not like I’m not ready for death, I am. The fact is that while I’m alive, I want to do my best to perfect my existence. I think that sounds kind of weird. What I mean is, as long as I’m here it’s responsible to do my best. Not that it’s an easy task, but at least I need to be mindful of the task.

Time gets warped and stuff

Time warp after

This “Time Warper” app is a very fun way to stay mindful of both the universe and my existence without having to be a brainiac like Einstein and Newton. The App does all the hard math and reports the results for me in two graphics. The first one shows me how much faster I’m aging because of my location, that is my location based on the distance from the center of gravity. More on this in the next paragraph. The second graphic shows me how much faster I’m aging based on my relative speed. 

It’s not so much what the app does that can make it fun. How I use this app is what I think makes it fun. First, I have to quickly explain what this faster and slower aging is about.

Relativity Speaking

The theory of special and general relativity made no sense to me for a very long time. The whole concept of “space and time are actually spacetime” and not two different things, etc. can blow my mind. One day I saw a video where Albert was talking about quantum, and he made it so easy for me to grasp. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, that the three dimensional world is simple to understand for most of us. We see what’s ahead of us and what’s behind, we can see what’s above and what’s below us, and we can see what’s to the left and to the right of us. Three dimensions. What relativity does is add the fourth dimension of time.

Without time there would be no present existence and there would be no dimensions at all. There would be no existence without time. Wow, I got it. So the fourth dimension is just this present moment. 

Space and time, no it isn’t

Existence itself made everything possible and it seemed so obvious to me when he said it. We just take it for granted that there is this thing called existence. He went on to explain that time is therefore evidenced by space. Without space there would be no existence and without time there could be no space. So, you see, space and time are the same thing; spacetime. Now this truly blew my mind for quite awhile. 

When he said this I experienced one of those moments where I watched my intelligence reach the edge of my capability to understand. My intellect limitation so-to-speak. When my mind reaches the intellect-limitation point I can often start to feel dizzy and uncertain. It’s almost the same kind of feeling as when you reach into your pocket for your wallet and realize it’s not there. Where did I leave it? Panic, stress, a sense of bewilderment as your mind scrambles trying to think faster than you possibly can, and, well you know, it’s a weird lost sensation.

Stay calm and move forward, quickly.

Any way, once I got back to being in control of my thoughts, probably a day or two later, I liked my new understanding of spacetime. I understood the four dimensions. So relativity then gets involved because of this gravity thing. Apparently gravity bends space around the center of gravity and as space bends it warps time. Sort of slows it down since it has further to go than it would have if it was just going in a straight line. It’s quicker to get from one place to another as the crow flys — so the saying goes.

This gravity thing adds an obstacle to the journey. And, if an objet is moving really, really, really fast. Something around the speed of light for example, then you almost exist faster then time itself. And if you get faster then time itself, time simply folds like a blanket. Ouch! Said my brain.

Simple explanation of this whole aging and spacetime theory

When I’m closer to the center of gravity I age slower than when I’m further away. So if I’m at sea level I age slower than when I’m standing at the top of Mount Fuji. And, if I’m on the space station moving at 27,600 km/h; 17,100 mph, I’m aging slower than when I’m not moving at all, like when I’m laying on the beach sunbathing. That’s what the Time Warper app is calculating and displaying the results for. The distance from the center of gravity on earth and my relative speed. 

Here’s how I have fun with Time Warper App

My wife, Kimber, and I have retired and moved to Spain. In retirement we frequent the bars and restaurants as often as possible. These establishments are well known for providing tapas. When Kimber and I visit them we order an adult beverage and the waiter or waitress brings free tapas with our drink order. Pretty sweet deal in our perspective. We will often write a review about these locations we visit. We take pictures of the location, the drinks, and the tapas and include the pictures in our written reviews that we then post on our blog. There on each post is where I include the time warper app.

When we get to the bar or restaurant, I take a screenshot of the aging graphics from the app. Then, when we are leaving the location I take a second screenshot from the app. Later when I’m writing the review I’ll calculate the rate of aging per minute at the location. The aging rate can tell me where in town, which bar or restaurant I should frequent the most often to maximize my lifespan. 

I can almost hear my friend Rocky saying. “You clearly have too much time on your hands!”

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I’m Losing It

Dear Mark and Kim,

Most of my adult life I was diligent to stay conditioned and healthy. While my ambition for conditioning was probably stronger than my efforts to remain healthy. Let me explain what I mean. I ran. I loved to run so much that I would complete two marathons a month, on average. Everyday I ran 8 to 15 miles depending on time and schedule. As I got into my forties, the ability to keep this pace up became more difficult.

My endurance and recovery weakened and by the time I was 45 my marathon days were done. I found myself running just 3 to 5 miles a day and just 3 or 4 days a week. All the while over the years of running I loved to eat cake, ice cream, bagels, and rich foods. Since I ran the calories didn’t matter. However, once the running slowed down the calories began to show up in extra weight.

By the time I was fifty, the weight gain was more accelerated. Over the next ten years, from age 50 to 60, life was a constant struggle to stay in condition and diet. At one point, I pushed myself to 90 pounds above my target weight. My blood pressure was so high that my dentist sent me to the emergency room after taking my blood pressure prior to a routine cleaning and checkup appointment. I had early signs of drop-foot and would frequently trip and fall when walking for more than 5 to 10 minutes.

Maybe it was me

I suppose you could argue that I had caused nerve damage by running too many marathons for too many years. The neuropathy that was causing the drop-foot may have been the cause but my money was on the excess weight gain. High blood pressure and poor circulation including pinched nerves are caused by the lack of self control when eating. When you hit forty years of age the metabolic rate slows way down, and after fifty years it is even slower. At this age, I swear you can gain weight just from sleeping. Don’t give up, life is that sort of challenge where you only lose when you give up and surrender. Today I am down 64 pounds and the last 26 pounds will be gone in three months. I owe it all to “Lose It.”

Totally Losing It

adding food intake in the lose it app
Lose the fat with Lose It

The freemium app is simple to use. It’s a lot more than just a calorie counter too. You can add your own recipe information or use the thousands of calorie and nutritional foods and meals included in the app. You start out with your age, gender, and weight. Then you pick a target weight and time frame. The app will calculate your total daily calories and provide you with target calories for each meal and for snacks. Each time you eat, you’ll enter the food you consumed and the calories are added to your day. There is nothing easier than calorie counting to help you lose weight. 

Calorie counting helps, but…

Tracking calories by day and week

Of course no diet or calorie counting alone can help you get the fat off. You have to exercise too. With the lose-it app you’ll find a few hundred different exercises already included in the app. Choose the exercise you’ve completed and enter how long you worked out. The app will add the workout burned calories into the daily calorie count. I love this part so much. Because, if I want to have a beer later this evening, I can calculate how much time I need to spend in my workout to afford the extra snack.

One last effort, in addition to counting the calories and daily exercise, you must include fasting into your routine. I take two days a week with no food consumption. Sunday after the last meal, at around 20:00, until Tuesday morning, at around 9:00 I consume coffee, tea, and water (no sugar) only. On Thursday I have  two pieces of toast with 4 slices of tomato at 9:00. After that, it’s coffee, tea, and water (no sugar) until 9:00 on Friday.

Compare progress from week to week

Don’t forget that mowing the grass, mopping the floors, cleaning the garage, and shoveling the snow (I haven’t seen snow in 21 years) are all exercise — calorie burners. Lose-it has these already installed and ready for you to use. All you do is choose the chore and enter the time. 

Your Recipes Too

I have a lot of my own recipes and I use another App for calculating nutritional information for recipes which I will cover another time. However, if you know your nutritional information for the meals you prepare, you can enter these all in the lose-it app. This fairly important data for tracking the daily and weekly results of your lifestyle eating. You can track the amount of fats, carbs, and proteins in your diet by the day, and week. 

The app will work to help you stay focused. All you have to do is make the first step to changing the way you live, and just never give up.

Keep on losing it,

Sarva

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Learning Spanish

When we moved to Almunecar Spain in June 2019 it was evident we would need to learn Spanish if we were ever going to be able to talk with locals.  Almunecar is a traditional spanish town where the people speak mainly Spanish. Some people who work in local shops and restaurants have limited English, but Spanish is prominent.  Well of course! We are in Spain anyhow! I do want to point out though that our local bank (Banco Sabadell) and the local cell service company we dealt with (Orange) did have people who spoke English very well.  

Duolingo categories
Duolingo App

We explored taking Spanish language lessons at a few schools in town but realized that the cost to keep up these classes was going to be somewhat significant for our budget.  So I went to the internet to see if there were any free online Spanish language classes and the first one to pop up was Duolingo (duolingo.com). I decided to sign up for the free version (with ads) and have been taking their lessons ever since.  At the date of writing this article I am now into exactly one month of taking daily Duolingo lessons. I receive daily email reminders and spend about 15 to 20 minutes each day taking their language lessons. There are various categories to go through such as Intro, Phrases, Travel, Family, Restaurant, Shopping, School and People.  The lessons take you through five levels of learning for each category. Once you complete the lessons in each of the five levels, and for all of the categories, the app moves you up another phase where the categories are more advanced and the lessons get a little harder. There are a total of 5 phases.

Both Mark and I have gotten a lot out of the lessons. I do want to point out that we did have some basic understanding of Spanish already at the time of signing up for the lessons.  Before the first lesson you will take a basic test which then configures the app for the first level.. Mark and I are now feeling more confident about having some basic knowledge of Spanish and are able to order food in restaurants now after just one month of learning the lessons on Duolingo.  We would like to take some classes with an instructor in person at some point, but for now this type of learning is working out very well for both of us.

Duolingo achievements
Achievements and Friends

What I love about this app is the style of teaching. It reminds me of the way we were taught how to read and write and speak english. You remember, don’t you? Those first grade reading guides where the story was, “See Dick run. Run Dick, run. See Dick with his dog Spot. See Dick and Spot.” Yes, this DuoLingo App is that basic and repetitive. You’ll not only be introduced to the words gradually and the grammar at a pace everyone can keep up with, but you also get to see how to use those funny little accents and spelling too.

Other features the app provides include adding friends to your watch list where you can see their progress and they can see yours. There are ‘Achievement’ awards too for things like getting through a lesson without mistakes, completing more lessons in a single day than planned, and more. And of course, there are bells, whistles, and sounds built in to keep you encouraged to keep going.

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