31 December 2017


Yes, it's that time of the year to make a bunch of promises that we won't be able to keep.  For shits and giggles, here are my 2018 Resolutions:

  • Make more money somehow as my son will start college in September.  Ask for a raise at work, find another better-paying job, sell a kidney...  I don't know, there must be a legal way to get it done.
  • Keep on running regularly, ideally everyday.  Recently I started to practice run-in-any-clothes.  As long as I have a pair of comfortable shoes on, I can run.  I do keep a pair of shoes in the car, so technically as long as I don't end up working long hours into the evening, or have something at home I need to rush home to take care of, I should be able to run everyday after work.
  • Better leverage my unique skill of "writing" while running.  Maybe there is some ad agency out there looking for such talent.  I should try to market myself better, who knows.  Think Humana, Runner's World magazine...
  • Less lurking on social media.  There is only so much usefulness, if any, to be extracted through looking at the "news" on social media.  This includes "planning" in CityStrides.  It is no use planning so much on where to run to hit the most number of nodes.  Just do it when you are physically in the area.
  • De-clutter a lot more.  With my recent experiments with Amiga emulation, I couldn't find the $70 disc containing KaraFonts I needed.  I was lucky that the fonts were available on Aminet, but with other things I wouldn't be so lucky.  It's been a few years now that many kinds of plastic are accepted for recycling in New York City, I should take advantage of that and recycle stuff without feeling guilt.


30 December 2017


At work I have no choice but work with Windows computers but at home I mostly compute with my MacBook Pro.  At one time years ago I actually got things done on an Amiga computer, or on various Amiga computers as I did go through a few of them over the few years.  It was fun and useful for a while but at the time when most people would easily get on the Internet to surf the web, with everything needed included on 3.5" floppy disks or CDs, all free, the Amiga platform would require so much more additional work.  You would have to buy the dialer, some TCP/IP stack, the web browser, the email client, argh, too much work.  I went Windows for a while, with its clunky Windows 95 and all, then went Mac, with a Wall Street Powerbook.

One thing I miss greatly, and not able to reproduce on Windows or Mac platform, animated text like the ones shown below.  They are made with the use of animfonts (animated fonts).  Based on a blog post of mine back in 2005 (http://www.qaptainqwerty.com/2005/11/amiga-forever.html ) I created some animated GIF (animgif or GIF for short), possibly on a Packard-Bell PC running Windows 95, via the Amiga Forever emulator software.  When I went over to the Mac platform, no more Amiga Forever.  Cloanto developed Amiga Forever only for the huge Windows market.  Sure Amiga Forever is based on the publicly available UAE (Ubiquitous Amiga Emulator) software but I don't have the time or willingness to muck around with Unix codes and such to make these things work on the Mac.  Every few months or years I would Google "Mac UAE" and probably tried to make MaxUAE work but failed.  Most recently I tried FS-UAE and that effort too got nowhere.  Luckily, while looking for ROM files on an Amiga Forever 2010 disc, to feed to FS-UAE, I came across E-UAE, some Amiga emulation software for the Mac, again based on UAE.  After a few hours of tweaking and configuring, I finally have the ability to generate animated text again.  Only twelve years since 2005!  Maybe someday I'll share my experience jumping through hoops to make E-UAE to run on my Mac.  In the mean time, enjoy the messages below.

29 December 2017


With Relive, I can playback my runs in all their glory.  With a premium account, you can keep all the videos in your account and do other things with them.  For me, I just share them to Facebook and Instagram, and occasionally here on Blogger.  Still, ain't technology great?  Click on the individual video to play it, there is an option to play at full-screen too.

Amy rules




28 December 2017


In 2017, I actually won a contest with my run-art/gwriting/StravaArt, did some special requests from fans, and saw my work went to the dogs, in a good way, and, last but not least, created a menorah.

Just donut {swoosh}

Some time in August I found out from my track club's Facebook group that there was a donut-themed contest.  Draw anything donut-inspired for a chance to win a dozen donuts and entries into the Montclair Bread Company 5K Doughnut Run.  I actually came up with two designs, one of a donut being dunked into a cup plus the "Just donut {swoosh}" above.  Supposedly competition was light but I won that's all that matters.

Amy rules

In November, I asked for suggestions of what to write during future runs and one of the response was "Amy rules".  What's interesting with this particular task was that on that day I went for an NYRR OpenRun at Cunningham Park.  I planned to get there ahead of time to gwrite "Amy rules" before OpenRun started.  However, I made the mistake of trusting my memory, instead of Google Maps, and ended up getting lost briefly. Not totally lost, mind you, I still know my Queens geography, just enough to lose time and not able to finish the gwriting prior to OpenRun.  I used Strava app to do the writing so I simply paused it when I was done with "Amy".  Went to do OpenRun with Runkeeper app, then returned to where I was and un-paused Strava and proceeded to finish the whole two-word sentence.  Oh yes, it was no coincidence that I made "Amy rules" in the borough of Queens.


Another suggestion came from the owner of a dog named Bergamot Grey, or Bergie for short.  Other dog names that I made in 2017 were Bandit and Beemer.  Just by coincidence that they all start with the letter B.  Yes, I am a dog person, but I do have a not-too-strict rule that dog names shouldn't be names normally reserved for people, such as Michael or Peter.

This Menorah Was Really Good

With the holiday season approaching, a Jewish friend asked if I could draw a dreidel.  Or a menorah.  Sure, I can.  New York City has many rectangular city blocks and a menorah with squarish branches could be drawn in many places.  But what if we want one that has nice, round branches?  As I reviewed the map for NYC, my first choice was the Mill Basin peninsula in Brooklyn.  However, unless I can walk on water (Jesus Christ!) or if Moses can part the water for me, there was no place draw the handle of the menorah.  A better choice was the crescent-shaped streets of Rego Park, Queens.  A few people were interested and we ended up having a small convoy of cars to make the trip from Prospect Park to Rego Park.  Shown above is my test run, during which I mistakenly lit the candles in the wrong spot.  I should know better that a few things in the Judaica world go from right to left, not unlike Chinese.  For the group run, we did it right to left but the flames didn't show that well.

27 December 2017


The first title I thought for this blog was “This Week In Gwriting”, which is a nod to Leo Laporte’s podcast "This Week In Tech". I didn’t get around to writing the blog post and the year 2017 is almost over, so without much further ado, let us review some of the Gwritings, or StravaArts, I made this soon-to-be-over year.


My most recent oeuvre, made just this Christmas Day.  It was not the first time I made a Linda route.  Back in August while vacationing in the exotic island of Aruba, one hot steamy morning I ran Linda but the non-grid streets threw me off.  It took a while before I found the chance to redo it, on the streets of un-exotic Brooklyn, New York.  While I can easily cut through a city block to make the middle section of the letter "a", I try to avoid relying on the trick.  While planning the run, I picked Flatlands Avenue as the street that will naturally provide the needed line.

Grab A Bite With Jimmy

"Grab A Bite With Jimmy" is another run-art that makes good use of the existing environment, i.e. no Dark Magic via the use of GPS app's pause function.  Well, to a certain extent.  Jimmy is this friend of mine who seems to have a very healthy appetite.  The quasi-roundabout near Zucker-Hillside Hospital provided the perfect round-ish food that Jimmy seems to eat a lot of.  However, to achieve the bite mark I did have to use Dark Magic.  While I have no plan of drawing offensive pictures any time soon, this was my early foray into drawing, not just writing.

Make Some Noises With Adam

I followed the success of "Grab A Bite With Jimmy" by making "Make Some Noises With Adam".  Adam won two awards earlier in the year from the track club.  Instead of wooden plaques or paper certificates, the prizes were cowbells.  Very useful for a cheerleader like Adam!  To get the trapezoidal shape of the cowbell I did have to resort to my special trick to make the slanting lines.

Resist With Lisa, Sort Of

Back in February, I made "resist" and dedicated to Lisa LMK and others who, duh, resist the current administration.  In November I wanted to make the both the fist and the word "Lisa" but I ran out of time.  Yes, these things take time.  Sorry, Lisa LMK!  I still have the area where "Lisa" would be, I'll return to the area some day to do it.  "Lisa" and fist will appear together in CityStrides, that web site that gives me so much joy and aggregation aggravation.

There are more but there are a few more days left of the old year.  I might make another post just yet!

14 October 2017


I love it when two of my areas of interest intermix.  The title of this blog post refers to the phrase SIT ON A POTATO PAN, OTIS.  I don't know anyone named Otis or why he was told to sit on the pan.  It's just that the phrase is a palindrome – it spells the same from left to right and from right to left.  You'll have to ignore the comma and move the spaces around, of course.  I first learned about palindromes in a computer class for the BASIC language.  Recently I found a new love in CityStrides.com.

CityStrides.com let runners and walkers overlay a map of places they visited.  It seems like an impossible task – literally travel along all the streets in your town or places you visited.  In my case, that would be primarily New York City.  For some reason, out of the five boroughs, Brooklyn and Manhattan are also considered their own individual city.

Work and family constrains do not allow me to cover as much of my hometown Brooklyn as I want to so for now I try to maximize my coverage of NYC instead, as I regularly get sent to Staten Island and also travel through the Bronx.  The way CityStrides calculate percent completed has nothing to do with a street's length.  For example, let's say a city has a Main Street that goes for miles and miles.  Then there are also many streets that only stretch for a few hundred feet.  If someone were to focus primarily on completing Main Street while someone else covers all the shorter streets, guess who will have a better completion rate?  Yup, not the Main Street guy because by the end of the day, he may have just one out of the total streets completed.  Fair enough, really.

In trying to take advantage of this seemingly erroneous percent complete (which really is not erroneous), I try to cover all the short streets whenever possible.  Streets that are identified as Place or Lane are usually very short, one- or two-block long.  Then I came across Otis Avenue in the Bronx, in the Schuylerville area.  Imagine my surprise after walking along it and not finding it considered completed per CityStrides.  I searched for it in CityStrides and lo and behold there actually are three different Otis Avenues in New York City.  One in the Bronx, another in Queens, not far from Flushing Meadows Park, and yet a third one in Staten Island, just north of Miller Field.  The three locations are shown as series of green hexagons in the picture below.  Personally I think it is a mistake to consider the three Otis Avenues as three parts of one thing.  They just happen to share the name Otis and then also happen to be avenues.  New York City was not composed of the five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens.  So at some point before the merger, streets were named independently and Otis Avenue happen to appear three times in the three different boroughs.  Just my semi-educated guess, of course.  CityStrides gets its data from OpenStreetMap, so if anything is to change it would have to come from OpenStreetMap.  Maybe I'll study OpenStreetMap and somehow I.D. the three Otis Avenues with suffix to make them unique to the borough and not considered part of "one street".  Highly unlikely I'll mess around with OpenStreetMap, as it seems to be a lot more involved than editing a page in Wikipedia.

Lucky for me, I happened to start participating in NYRR Open Run at Flushing Meadow Park.  I usually get there early and have time to walk around.  Otis Avenue of Queens was knocked out during my first run at FMP.  Next came Otis Avenue in Staten Island, where my son attends high school and I also work there regularly.  Easy for me, but I am sure the typical runner who have a job with a fixed office will find it hard to complete these erroneously longer streets.  Take that, Otis Avenue, go sit on a pot for all I care!

08 October 2017


I love my "job" with the Prospect Park Track Club.  The Club has a program whereby members are encouraged to run with local races, i.e. those that are based in Brooklyn.  The program, Run Brooklyn, dictates that participants should run in six Brooklyn races that are professionally-timed then get a chance to win money prizes at the Club's annual award dinner.  "Brooklyn races" means the run course must start and end in Brooklyn, such that events like the Tunnel To Tower, which starts on the Brooklyn side of the Battery Park Tunnel but ends in the old World Trade Center site, does not count.  The "professionally-timed" condition eliminates fun runs like the Color Run series, whereby participants' time isn't recorded.

By way of suggestions, announcement of the Run Brooklyn program would list a handful of Brooklyn races, just the names.  I volunteered to maintain a spreadsheet containing the race names, dates, URL for registration purposes, and additional tidbits like whether the race coincides with a popular event.  After a few years of maintaining the spreadsheet, I also maintain a calendar that is embedded into the PPTC.org site.  The info in the spreadsheet and the calendar is mostly the same but the calendar has the advantage of also listing NYRR races, the big gorilla in the market, so that when events happen on the same day, participants can make an informed decision which race to register for.

I made such an informed decision today when I forwent the NYRR Staten Island Half and ran in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration 10K.  Staten Island used to be a mysterious place that I drive through along I278 from the Verrazano Bridge to the Goethal Bridge, or some other bridge, but after spending a large amount time working there, along with running in a few races there as well, the novelty is not there any more for me.  I like to run in different locations and this year the Bed-Stuy 10K fits the bill.

The Bed-Stuy 10K had its staging area in Restoration Plaza, which is near the corner of Fulton Street and New York Avenue.  All under one big white tent on the Plaza were a stage, DJ stand, registration table, refreshment tables, and some vendor tables.  Refreshment included coffee, bananas, half-cut bagels, small apples, and orange juices, which I believe was all donated from the nearby Super Foodtown supermarket.  In a nearby building, runners were treated to indoor plumbing for their sanitary needs, as well as a bag check area.  Maybe I was not too aware of my surrounding but I found out about the bag check purely by accident.  I think there should be more signs to point out the restroom and bag-check service.

The first event this year was the Kiddie Run.  Some five little kids, two as young as four years of age, ran a few yards to the Finish Line on Herkimer Street behind the Restoration Plaza.  Next we had a workout session led by an instructor on the floor of the big tent and three leaders on the stage.  It was a good workout, plenty enough to loosen all your muscles for the upcoming race.

There was no music along the race course but if there was "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by The Byrds should be played.  Look at the course map!  I was afraid that I would run the wrong way because there were so many turns.  At the start, I asked a few runners near me if they were familiar with the course but they either were running the untimed 5K or not know the course.  Luckily the corners were well-staffed, either by event personnel or by NYPD.  A safety cone with the proper directional arrow also helped in case you missed the instruction from the staff.  Something else I could use along the course was more water.  There was a station at Mile 2 and again at Mile 4, but by the time slowpoke me got to Mile 4 there was no more cups.  I think there was some water left in the water cooler, yes, the sort used in your typical cubicle office, but I didn't want to stop completely to drink from the faucet.  Luckily, it was rainy for most of the race and I cooled down enough to not need water that much.  I don't know the history of the race course so it might be that way all these years, with the many turns, so maybe not much can be done about it.  During the last two miles, I so looked forward to seeing the finish arch from a distance to get me going stronger.  It never came as the arch was just down the road after the final turn.

For every run turn turn turn / There is a reason turn turn turn
Bed-Stuy 10K, now in its 36th year, was well-organized despite all its turns.  A few weeks back I ran an inaugural race that had some teething pain.  From the elitefeats mailing list I discovered the inaugural Imagine Academy For Autism 5K in Marine Park, the actual park, not just the neighborhood.  The race course was just the outer loop of the park, which I ran many times already with NYRR Open Run, so the novelty attraction wasn't there for me.  Open Run covers 3 loops, for a total of about 2.5 miles, the Imagine 5K went for a little over 3.5 to reach about 5K.

The race was supposed to start at 10 AM but there was a speech or two and the race didn't really until 10:30.  It was a hot day so the extra half-hour made a little difference.  Although the course was just a few loops of the park, there was no water station anywhere.  After I did my 3.5 loops, the finish line was totally blocked by finishers.  People were just milling about in front of the finish mat, chatting, taking photos, snacking etc.  Perhaps because it was the first time for these people to participate in a race but the situation could be helped by having the refreshment table a few yards AFTER the finish line, not mere feet in front of it.  Lastly, there was no trash container anywhere to collect all the wrappers, fruit peels, etc.  Responsible runners had to go a few yards away to squeeze the trash into already-packed receptacles.  Hopefully next year these issues won't be present.

29 July 2017


It is Public Service Announcement time!

As Samuel L. Jackson might have asked in a TV commercial, "What is in your wallet, MOFO?"  Some day the majority of people will do everything with their smartphones and may not carry a wallet any more.  For now, most of us still do and sadly, sometimes the wallet get lost or stolen.

I read a tip a long time ago that said we all should regularly lay out the various cards we carry in our wallet and photocopy them for record-keeping.  I know, photocopy, I said it's an old tip, didn't I?  These days everything is photographed by the smartphone, like I just did below.  Of course yours won't have the white rectangle when you do it.  Yes, I have many more items in my wallet, but the four shown are enough to illustrate the point.  Yes, I like reward accounts.

The idea is to have all the important info from the cards in your wallet in a convenient location.  You would have the cards laid out, snap a photo, then flip them over and snap the other side.  Ten cards per layout may be the optimal number.  Should the unfortunate thing happens (your wallet is lost!), you would go back to these photos and call your credit card companies etc to cancel the accounts or update them on your situation.  Sure you can be more diligent and create a spreadsheet, or something better, to track your wallet, but I am sure snapping photos works best for most people.

It is probably best to print out the photos you took and keep the prints in some safe location at home.  If your wallet is stolen, the smartphone may be stolen along with it.  To be extra safe, delete the photos from the smartphone, or whatever camera you used to snap them, no chance the info is gleaned should someone play around with your phone.

May your wallet be with you for a long time!

23 July 2017


Captain America appears a few times, in the form of a pep talk video, in the movie Spiderman: Homecoming.  One of the topic he talked about is Patience.  Sometimes you need lots of it.

I have an intense interest in seeing my map updated in CityStrides. But I need a lot of patience.  It is nice that syncing happens transparently but there is a big backlog that resulted during the transition period.  I'm now at 13% completed for Brooklyn but I only noticed it today.  While I don't run in Brooklyn as much as I like to, I do try to target not-yet-ran streets and that strategy seems to pay off.  I just have to be patient and wait for syncing to happen with Strava, which seems pretty quick, but with Runkeeper the activities usually show up 24 hours afterward.  I usually use Strava for runs then keep track of walks in Runkeeper.  I don't want to inundate my Strava feed with the short walks that I do during lunch or at places of business that I visit.  Once the activities show up, you have to be patient and wait for the Streets Completed and Streets Progressed to be calculated.  A little more time then the city completion rates will be calculated.  In this case, Patience has its rewards.

There is a forum where questions get answered by James Chevalier himself.  I visit it from times to times to see what's going on.  If someone already asked a question that I have then I'll just wait for it to be answered instead of throwing out more of the same questions.

One interesting tidbit I recently learned is that city percent completion has little to do with street length.  Personally I like to run long, like from one end of town to the other, as far as possible without being late for work or other important aspects of life.  One long line by one long line I would have a grid created.  While the map then looks nice, if those streets I ran are long and I don't have them 90% completed, then they don't contribute to the percent completed.  On the other hand, if I find the many short streets and complete them, my percent completed will shoot up sharply.  It feels like cheating but that's how it's done.

Given enough time, those big zeroes for Streets Completed and Streets Progressed will be resolved to some non-zero numbers.  Unless I ran in some big parking lot just because I like to have lines all over the super-block.

New on the 13% map is "Adam" and his cowbell in Sunset Park, the inaugural Coney Island Creek 5K, which took place inside Kaiser Park, which I already ran many times, but thanks to a short pre-race warm-up and a post-race walk, a few more streets turned purple.

18 July 2017


I'm pretty good at spelling out letters and words during my runs, as seen in "Crystal" and "Heather" below, some recent samples.

Naturally, my friends asked if I ever drew actual pictures, not just letters and numbers.  While I did a few, the majority of my run arts have been limited to just letters and numbers.  With my special block-cutting technique, technically anything can be drawn, given enough time and proper planning.  And so I did, recently, advance to the next phase of my run art, with "Jimmy" and "Adam". 

With the "Jimmy" piece, there is this roundabout traffic circle in Glen Oaks, Queens that I have yet covered on my CityStrides map. I have this friend Jimmy who is well-known for his strong appetite. The roundabout made a perfect food item, whether a bagel or a donut.  The fun got better as I tried to include a bite mark in the food item.  Of course, I had to use my virtual trespassing technique to make the bite mark.

Adam is another friend in the run community.  A great runner himself, he loves to cheer fellow runners with his cowbells.  Not just the small cowbells somewhat cube-ish type, but the real, rectangular ones.  Every year, Prospect Park Track Club has a dinner party at which members receive awards as voted by the club.    In past years, the awards came in the form of a plaque or similar form.  In 2016, someone came up with the excellent idea of awarding cowbells!  So useful!  Adam won in two categories and now often carry them to the cheer zone, thus in my run art there's a cowbell after his name.  To achieve the angular shape of the cowbell, I again resorted to cutting through city blocks.

15 July 2017


I like pleasant surprises.

My friend Josh was instrumental in helping to bring back the Brooklyn Triple Crown series of footraces.  The series ran for many years but after Hurricane Sandy hit New York the series went away.  I already knew about the Staten Island Triple Crown and even ran two out of the three races.  The same people, Complete Race Solutions and the Staten Island Athletic Club, organize both series.

For some reason I thought the Coney Island Creek 5K (CIC5K) was going to take place on a Sunday.  It's summertime and the family wants to have things to do on Sundays so it appeared I wouldn't be able to participate.  What I love about the CIC5K is it was really close to home.  It is basically within Kaiser Park near Mark Twain Middle School.  I used to run there regularly.  I cannot stand races that require me to travel more than an hour, wait around perhaps another hour, then do the race in 30 minutes or more, then another trek to get home.  With the CIC5K, I would be able to just walk over, 20 minutes maybe, 30 minutes top.

Eventually I realized that the race would be on a Saturday.  Sure I could register but I was going to take advantage of the special discount on Independence Day.  I should have registered during the day because in the evening the family watched the fireworks display on the beach of Coney Island and the exodus from the area was horrible.  I don't know for sure what caused the traffic jam, maybe just too many cars leaving the area at the same, from the fireworks and from the soccer game at MCU Park.  Or maybe it was because of some FDNY truck blocking one of the lane.  Whatever it was, I got home really late and missed the discount deadline.  I was bummed.  But then Thursday night I happened to pass by the packet pickup site, VitaminShoppe at Caesar's Bay.  I figured it's a local race that I want to support so I finally registered that evening.

I did walk to the race site, in 31 minutes according to Strava.  I met friend Sheldon for a warmup run on the nearby streets.  At the NYRR Queens 10K a few weeks ago, I also had a warmup run and I felt better during and after the actual race.  I thought from now on I should always have a warmup run.  Besides, I need to cross off a few streets in the area, for CityStrides.com of course.  I am sure I ran the nearby streets before, somehow the lines don't show in CityStrides.  As more friends show up, I learn that Jimmy is in my age group and I joked that my hope for first-place age group is dashed, I would have to settle for second-place.  With the typical NYRR and NYCRuns races, the number of participants is so large that the chance of a slowpoke like me winning anything is infinitesimally small.  The chance is greater with the smaller races and there are many such races in the City.  I recently turned 50 years old too so there is hope there too.  One popular joke is that if you live long enough, eventually as long as you finish a race you'll win because you'll be the only person in the Age Group.  There weren't that many people at the CIC5K but I didn't know who else were in my Age Group, other than Jimmy.  I would just have to do my best and hope for the best.

There was no start mat.  When the time came, the race director walked the group over to the starting line and, after a few speeches, gave us the signal to go.  I was only a tad behind the starting line, probably at the fifth row, with about five or six people per row.  I jokingly asked "Where is Corral L?"  There was no need for a corral, just a small group of people.  During the warmup run, my left knee felt a bit weird.  The pain seemed to travel down below the calf but it went away afterward.  I did more stretching during the wait for the race to start.  Whatever it was I held back a bit in the beginning.  It was a bit scary to see all the runners in front of me taking off.  I just kept my regular pace.  There was no need to dodge slow runners because there were not that many people and the course was wide enough.  One by one I passed the kids then the women who went into walking mode.  I know, nothing to write home about, but in the running world, lots of time the little kids are pretty fast and so are the women.  Just as I started to pass the front of Mark Twain M.S., some guys started to pass me.  I thought they were such fast runners that they already started to lap me, even though I didn't even hit the first mile yet.  I found out later that they were late-comers, speedy ones, who thought the race was scheduled for 9 A.M.  It was 8:30 A.M. but got delayed a bit.  I kept moving and again passed two more women.  There was a third woman but I couldn't catch up to her in the first mile.  By the second mile, she had to take walking break and it was my chance to pass her but before I did that she resumed running.  A short while later, by the sandy portion of the course, she walked again and this time I actually passed her.  My lead was short-lived as she resumed running shortly after I passed her and she regained the lead.  Unfortunately for her not long after passing me she had to walk again.  I once again passed her and kept going.  I should have studied the course better and only knew vaguely that it was two times around the park, that the third time I hit the entrance to the track I should enter it for about a loop of the track.  I wasn't sure by the time I finished the second loop of the park and had to ask the race director to confirm.  I was so glad it was over.  Hot and humid weather does not work well for me.  I perform better in cold weather.

Award ceremony took place by registration table.  First we had the overall winners then came the Age Group awards.  Many of my teammates from the Prospect Park Track Club won Age Group awards, many in first-place.  For my Age Group, 50-59, when the third-place winner was announced and it wasn't me, my hope was dashed.  Oh well, run faster or find another small race, I thought.  But it turned out I was the second-place winner, with Jimmy in first-place, just as I joked before the race.  Pleasant surprise indeed!

Last month I ran the Harbor Fitness 5K in Bayridge.  There were many raffle prizes given out but I didn't win anything.  In the days leading up to the CIC5K, Josh had many announcements on Facebook about so-and-so sponsors had come on-board and will offer raffle prizes.  In addition to the Chipotle BOGO coupon and $2 (?) Coney Island Brewing Co. that every runner would get, that is.  There were indeed many prizes, ranging from baseball caps to socks then $15 Grimaldi coupon and $25 Brooklyn Running Co. gift card.  There were other very high-valued prizes too that I cannot recall at the moment.  Knowing my luck, I didn't expect much but when the winner for the last $25 BRC gift card was picked, the person wasn't present and my number was picked!  Woohoo!  Second-place Age Group AND a $25 gift card, the day sure started on a good note!

08 May 2017


The Great Saunter, organized by Shorewalkers, is a 32-mile walk (mostly) on the shores of Manhattan Island.  The schedule set forth by Shorewalkers has the walk start at 7:30 AM from Fraunces Tavern near the southern tip of the island.  Walkers would go along the Hudson River up to the northern tip then return to the south (mostly) along the East River.  Most should finish back at the Tavern by 7 PM the same day.

I don't know what I was thinking but I figured that if I can finish a marathon, distance = 26.2 miles, in 5.5 hours, another 6 miles maybe requires one more hour, so I should be able to finish the Saunter in 7 hours, 8 top.  The only trouble is I won't be running, more like a leisurely walk.  Yes, in the beginning I wished to catch up to the front of the group so I walked a bit faster than others, but then I also stopped to remove outer layers or to take photos of the surrounding.  That was part of the reasons for the walk, to enjoy the scenery.  Five hours or so I only finished half the walk, somewhere past the George Washington Bridge.  It was kinda like getting off the last exit of the Long Island Expressway, it was the end of the highway but there is actually lots more road to drive on.  Lately work has me in the southern end of Staten Island and to me it looks countryside.  Houses far apart, no sidewalks in some places.  Except in the Inwood area it felt like walking in a forest.  The big bridges here and there reminded me I wasn't outside of civilization, then there were also the baseball fields as well as buildings in the Bronx just across the water.

Henry Hudson Bridge, it goes on and on.
Before we exit Inwood Hill Park, there was a rest area where Shorewalkers staff provided snacks and drinks.  Some experience walkers brought along sandwiches and such.  I figured we would not be far from civilization and could always stop by a deli to get a sandwich or something to munch.  I was lucky the rest area had a green market just across the street from it.  I was tempted to have a big lunch but with about 16 more miles to go I had just half a sandwich.  And a nice cold apple cider, plus a chocolate chip cookie.

After the break, the route got a little more challenging.  So far, it was a matter of having the water of the Hudson River to our left to stay on course.  After Inwood Hill Park, we were back in the urban jungle with buildings and traffic in all directions.  Unlike those long stretch of shores with few people around, where you can easily spot the walkers far ahead of you, usually with the white Shorewalkers caps, on the crowded city street it wasn't so easy.  The organizer prepared a nice map for us but I figured I could find my way to the East River, or to be exact the Harlem River.  I got toward the correct general direction but to be safe I asked a trio of fellow walkers waiting to cross the street.  It was a fortunate move because even though I was able to walk alone the whole time by then I was getting tired and could use some chit-chat to make the trek more bearable.  The trio turned out to be husband-and-wife team P. and T., the other person being a seasoned Shorewalker, C.  We stayed together for the rest of the walk, down Harlem River Drive, briefly onto the streets of Harlem, passed over part of the Percy Sutton 5K, then finally along 111th Street to get to the East River waterfront.  My favorite part of the walk was in Inwood because I never visited the area before.  Even though I haven't been to the waterfront of the Upper East Side in a while, it was familiar territory so it was a bit boring.  Still nice and there were surprises, like Gracie Mansion, which I thought was some huge complex with fences and guards, far away from the common folks, but it seemed more approachable than I would, and smaller too, but it may be just from one view.

Among the four of us we share stories about travel, food, walking, CityStrides.com, NYC sights, etc.  It helped to pass the time and slowly we whittle down the miles.  We had to take restroom breaks here and there and our pace got slower and slower but we soldiered on.  It didn't help that the sky became overcast and cooler.  At last we saw the Williamsburg Bridge from far away.  The home stretch!  First Williamsburg, then the Manhattan Bridge, and then not that far away, the Brooklyn Bridge.  Unbelievable, all that walking for a paper certificate and bragging right!  But it was a lot of fun, much to see in the city no matter how long you live here.

Just as we arrived back at the Tavern to collect our certificates, it started to rain, not heavily, just enough to get the paper certificates wet if we stayed outside.  Inside the Tavern it was crowded but we managed to find a table, where they only serve drinks.  If I had known ahead I would make some friends, I would make reservations.  We had a celebratory drink, took a group photo or two, then parted ways, with contact info exchanged.  Just as I stepped back outside, the wind was really strong and I shook uncontrollably!  Maybe my body finally reached its limit?  Luckily the shaking went away as I kept walking.  I even recovered enough to find a Chipotle to have dinner.  The subway ride home wasn't so bad, the waiting didn't seem that long.

Oh the agony of the feet!  Unlike a marathon where muscles in different parts of the body ache, for me with the Great Saunter, it's mostly with the feet.  The smalls of the back hurt a little too.  Lucky for me, by Sunday evening, some 24 hours later, I was able to walk normally, mostly.  I actually walked over 3 miles to complete a few more Brooklyn streets for CityStrides.  The Great Saunter got my Manhattan coverage jumped from 10% to 12%, I should focus some more energy on Brooklyn.

Would I do it again?  Probably not, only because I don't like to do things years after years.  Maybe in x years when the East Side becomes more continuous I will re-consider it.  Shore walkers have many other walks throughout the year, some over short distance like 5 miles but others as long as 10 miles, excellent chances to cover more streets for CityStrides.  Should the average, able-bodied New Yorker do it?  Definitely!  It is a great way to see the City, to visit parts of the City you may never visit!  Just be prepared for it, be physically active some time before the big day.

07 May 2017


A walk on the perimeter of Manhattan Island, 32 miles in more than 12 hours, that was yesterday's The Great Saunter 2017, organized by the good folks at Shorewalkers.  I saw some mention of the event before, on Facebook, but more recently I read that some runners had to drop out of it.  Decent runners, people who finished marathon distance (26.2 miles), people who are faster than me - couldn't finish the walk.  For some it was a nasty blister.  I was curious and decided to finally give it a try.

The day before it rained heavily for most of the day.  On the day of the walk, it was beautiful weather.  Not too hot, but not that cool either.  I was not too worried about the preparation, didn't even pin my bib the night before, like on the eve of a big foot race.  The D train didn't go to Manhattan from my station so I buffered in some extra time for traveling.  It worked out well.  I got to Fraunces Tavern with plenty time to spare.  There was already two lines from the front door, one for registered users and the other for those who wish to register that day.  I didn't recall breakfast being served and asked someone and the answer was no.  Not that surprising, it was only $25 to become a member of Shorewalkers and join the walk, I shouldn't expect more for the day.  There was a Dunkin Donuts nearby, with no seating, but the plaza across the street from the Tavern had plenty of waist-height horizontal surface to be used as table.

After breakfast I felt the need to flush some stuff out of the system and decided to go inside the Tavern.  People were getting inside for buy baseball caps too.  I was tempted but I already have too many caps and resisted the urge even to go inside the Tavern, but nature call and it had to be answered.  By the time I came out it was already time to move - 7:30 AM or thereabout.  People already streamed out what I think of as the backdoor of the Tavern, the one that lead into Water Street.  Off we went, in ones or twos, maybe even three, abreast, filing across the street, past the Staten Island Ferry Station, up Hudson River to the tip of Manhattan Island.

The part of the walk that I looked forward to the most was Inwood Park since I never went that far north on Manhattan Island, but I found other pleasant sights along the way, too.  Battery Park City looked not that different, but Hudson River Park had some parts that I didn't recognized, like the raised wooden walkway below.

Hudson River Park boardwalk.
I did take it easy, stopped here and then to take photos.  I just wished I took action sooner or later.  One building I missed was the "Jenga Building" not far from Borough Manhattan Community College.  Instead of just one rectangular tall building, some of the floors seem to be jutting out of the building, Jenga-style.  I thought I could get a better view of it after turning into the pedestrian path along the West Side Highway, but by then I was too close to BMCC and it was somewhat foggy too.  Lesson learned:  If you like something you see, take photos.  I no longer have limited space or battery life on my phone so there was no excuse.

One year after an NYRR Coogan's 5K I tried to walk down to Hudson River Park but made the mistake thinking that Riverside Park would easily connect to it.  After all, there is the Henry Hudson Parkway between Riverside and the water, so one must cross the highway at some point.  Maybe I didn't have enough sleep that day, but I gave up around 86th Street or thereabout.  With the Great Saunter, I finally walked up along the entire west side of Manhattan.  The best part was the Little Red Lighthouse.

Little Red Lighthouse
I have heard much about the Little Red Lighthouse but the one time I tried to find it while I was in the area, without any software or map program, I failed.  On the Great Saunter, it was not out of the way too, just a few steps off the course.  I took a little break here to check-in on Facebook as well as sip a little water.  It was a cool day, I didn't need much water.

For a while then we were walking way below the Hudson Parkway.  It was time to climb up to its level, at which point Strava said I reached the 16-mile mark so it was time to stop the program just to be safe.  One reason I do the Great Saunter was to improve my Manhattan map on CityStrides.com.  I already had 10% of Manhattan covered, a long walk around the perimeter should increase that number somewhat.  I would hate to lose the phone or run out of battery power before saving the effort.  So at the midway point, I stopped the app and re-started anew.  First 16 miles, second half 16 miles, whatever happened during the second half, I know at least the first half will be safe.  Speaking of half, I better write the other half of this blog post tomorrow, it is time for me to go to sleep.

29 March 2017


That's right, this coming weekend, April 1 and 2, will be the big 150-year celebration of Prospect Park!  Besides the little, artsy run I will help lead on Sunday, the Prospect Park Alliance has many events planned.  For more info, visit https://www.prospectpark.org/150 .  Many events are free, some have suggested donations, while others offer discounts for members of Prospect Park Alliance.  I wish I can join the History Run hosted by NYRR on Saturday the 1st.  It will be a fun run with many stops at monuments and historical sites throughout the park.  I love running and also love history, what a great combo!  Alas, I already registered to run as a pacer for the Hot Chocolate 15K in Philadelphia.  Don't worry, the 15K won't affect the 3-mile run next day.  I ran the Queens Marathon this past Sunday and today I'm well enough to take the stairs at work on a few occasions.  I even plan to do a little morning run in Staten Island tomorrow.

Speaking of the Prospect Park 150 run, if you are coming, do you feel comfortable enough with the course?  About fifty people signed up via the Google doc so I'll print 25 or so copies of the map.  For your convenience, here is the "course" again.  See you Sunday!

28 March 2017


I ran the second annual QDR (Queens Distance Runners) Queens Marathon two days ago.  As usual, that evening I had difficulty lifting the legs and going down stairs was painful.  But here I am, two days later, I can go about 99% normal.  I cannot recall if I "recovered" this quick the last time I ran a marathon.  Maybe my body improved somehow, but I find that hard to believe because I no longer run everyday like I used to.  The only logical conclusion is I didn't push myself hard enough.

The day started early, like 5 A.M.  Packet pickup started at 6:30 A.M. and I was there at that time.  Parking that early in the day was plentiful, mostly under the Van Wyck Expressway.  The shirt-pickup tent just got started, I wanted a Men XL shirt but they didn't have my size so I went back to the car and took a nap, thinking they would sort things out eventually.  They didn't, which is fine by me, I have too many shirts already, I just needed a layer to ward off the cold so I settled for a Women L.  I should have learned the Hollywood Sequel Way, i.e. if something works well just repeat the process.  Having disposable clothes at the NYRR NYC Half exactly a week earlier kept me warm during the long wait in the corral.  I made the mistake thinking Sunday would be just as warm as Saturday and came in shorts and a few thin layers of tech fabrics.  It was cold!  I lucked out and didn't have to deal with rain but IT WAS COLD!

The line for the porta-potty was long as usual.  Luckily, the race took place in a public park, the Flushing Meadows Park, and the public restroom by the subway station was already open, thanks go to some guy who informed the people waiting at the end of the long queue.  I ran there with some other guy and more showed up after us.  Inside the restroom it was so warm I thought about just staying there.

The great thing about races organized/produced by NYCRuns is runners don't have to wait a long time in the corral.  Yes, just one corral.  I simply waited in the back and it wasn't long before the whole thing started.  Here comes four loops of Flushing Meadows Park with many turns!

The race started near the pool, to the east of the Unisphere.  A few turns here and there and runners found themselves heading for the big lake.  A full loop of the lake, with a few spots with rainwater from the previous night blocking the road.  Back to the main part of the park and we made a left to enter the area near Terrace on the Park and Queens Zoo.  One more time back to park center, this time we made more turns here and there and sorta went around the Unisphere then passed by the ramp to the 7 train station.  More turns again and runners pass the back and side of the Aquatic Center, sorta parallel to the Van Wyck Expressway, then turn toward the Pool of Industry, make 300 (?) degrees around the Pool then back to the start.  Loop 1 done!  Of course you can see the course better on the NYCRuns, supposedly the Flushing Meadows Half-Marathon course is the same as this marathon.

With insufficient preparations I had anxiety about the race.  Sure I ran marathons before but I had more preparations then.  I am lucky enough to not have any permanent injuries, so far, and I prefer not to have any after this ill-prepared marathon.  At least for the first loop, what kept me going was the image below.  I came up with a new joke involving the age-old, "Is the glass half-empty or is it half-full?"  For the first time, I ran half-marathon and full-marathon one weekend after the other.  So I came up with the idea of putting both medals in a drinking glass and pose the question, "Is the glass half-marathon or is it full-marathon?"  My jokes are great.  The best.  Period.  (No, just kidding, I'm not that vain.)  Sure I could just use some marathon medal from a few years ago and the joke would still be good, but it's not Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday right?  It's Sunday!  So on I went for the first loop to earn a new, shiny marathon medal.

For the second loop, I decided to use the public restroom near the turn to Pool of Industry.  I think it's Mile 25 but now I don't know for sure now that the event is not listed on the web any more.  There were other restrooms along the way but I think this one was the closest to the course.  For the NYC Half I held out until the very end but it's unavoidable with a marathon.  Some runners aim to P.R. all the markers along a marathon route, me I just run to finish.  No need to hold it until after the second loop, as the restroom may not be that conveniently located along the race course.  As expected, I didn't P.R. with my half-marathon time, it was 2:35+ when I finally finished Loop #2.

Loops #3 and #4 somehow just passed by.  I am sure many runners do this - identify someone running at a pace near you and try to beat them.  For us back-of-the-pack runners, of course we won't win any top prizes but it's a way to keep going.  I found a few and managed to pass them and also stayed ahead, only to lose my "lead" after the restroom breaks.  Or the walk after each loop to wolf down a pack of Gu.  A friend mentioned some weeks back I may get seriously injured if I'm not careful, so I was careful and took one more walk break after Mile 23.  My "lead" totally evaporated then, as all my competitions sailed past me.  In the end, I managed to surpass a few of those people, after Mile 24.  My finish time of 5:42 or so was a personal worst, not counting the 6+ I spent for the NYC Marathons back in 1994 and 1995, without time chip I think the wait on the Verrazano Bridge was not excluded.  I wish I had my Garmin GPS to confirm the time and distance, as Strava app on my phone said I ran 28 miles.  Sure there were a few big puddles that required going to the side and there were so many turns they may add up, but I am not sure if all that extra distance would really make that big of a difference.

I love inaugural races, new things, but I'm also a non-repeating customer.  I actually registered for last year's Queens Marathon but had couldn't run it because high school spring break overlapped it.  I went on a sea cruise instead.  I'm glad I finally made the run, even with the dismal finish time.  Still, I rarely repeat the same marathon, and the many turns just ensure that I won't repeat the Queens Marathon.  Next year, I plan to run the Suffolk County Marathon, which should be its 4th year, I think, or the Rockapulco Marathon, x loops on the Rockaway Boardwalk.  I cannot afford to fly all over to run marathons so I plan to cover all the local ones instead.  Of course, hopefully I'll run those marathon with more preparation.

20 March 2017


Wishful thinking, it is part of human nature, right?  There I was last night, laying awake wishing I will pull off a miracle and finish the half-marathon in 2:13, which was my best time for a half, back in 2012.  But I no longer run everyday any more.  Back in 2012, fresh off from a job that dragged on for 12 mostly painful years, well, there were some good ones, but near the end it was exhausting, I had much time to prepare for the half-marathon in Staten Island.  Yes, I ran my best 5K back in August last year, by having a good friend pace me and I also used better breathing techniques.  But it was a 5K, or 3.1 miles long, versus a half-marathon, glorious 13.1 miles.  The cheering crowd in Times Square and elsewhere supposedly can give runners a good boost, but it won't make up that much to cover lack of training.  Yet I dreamt a little.  Then I decided I would just be socially unfriendly and not spend time on queue for porta-potty.

It was my first time running the NYRR NYC Half-Marathon.  The high cost, $120+ I think, was a main factor for me to avoid it.  There are so many other races to spend my hard-earned money on.  Sure you don't get to run through Times Square but is that alone worthwhile the big fee?  But last year I was supposed to be a guide for an Achilles runner who decided at the last minute to run with some friend of his, so I ended up at the cheer zone for my track club instead.  It was nice to be out there, seeing all the energy.  I volunteered at a water station for the NYC Half some years ago, but being at the cheer zone was different.  I decided then that I would actually run it.  It helped that I did all five races for the five boroughs of NYC to gain automatic entry into the NYC Half.  I know, the NYC Half is so highly sought after you don't just register for them.  You either earn a guaranteed entry or try your luck with lottery, or some other means.

There was a big snowstorm on the Tuesday before the Sunday race.  Then the weather report said there would be more storm or lousy weather on the weekend.  Ay yay yay, just my luck, another messy run like the Staten Island Half 2016.  Luckily, it turned out there was no precipitation whatsoever.  Just so very cold!  I try to make the races as simple as possible so I went without bag check.  First time ever I had a disposable layer on, both the top and the bottom parts of the body.  I hate the idea of throwing away clothes that are still wearable but I have too many pieces of clothes anyway.  Besides, NYRR does a good job of collecting the throwaway clothes for Good Will.  I placed my pieces neatly on a rail, near other people's stuff, I am sure they will find a new good home.  I just had the scary feeling that I left something valuables in those clothes, but I made sure there was nothing.

I was in Wave 3, Corral D.  At NYRR races, a slowpoke like me is usually in Corral K, but because the NYC Half had three different Waves, it appeared like I moved up several Corrals but I know better.  It was nice to bump into track club members: Jackie, who was a volunteer team leader; and Murray, who was assigned to the same Corral and Wave with me.  Murray planned to run at a certain pace but we started out together and he periodically said we were too fast than his planned pace.  Around Harlem Hill I went ahead with my pace, which was not that much faster, but I wanted to at least beat my 2:30 from last year's Brooklyn Half.  I ran a few more Half-Marys since Brooklyn but I was sort of a pacer so my finish time was 2:45 or 3:00.  I ran slower going uphill then tried to make higher leaps as I came down the hills.  I walked twice to wolf down the Gu's that I brought with me, and maybe again shortly afterward to grab water or Gatorade to wash the stuff down.  I think I stopped one more time at Mile 12 to get another drink, last one for the long stretch home.

I did stick to my plan of not stopping for anything other than walk breaks.  I acknowledged when called but did not stop for photos.  That's the extent of my being unsocial.  It was good to see Jackie again around the 72nd Street Transverse in Central Park as she tried to get out of Central Park to get to the finish line.  I loved how Joe at 42nd Street cupped his hand to better holler at me.  I don't run with headphone and keeps my eyes open so I usually catch everything.  Actually, I probably saw Joe with his cupped hands before I heard him.  Also on 42nd Street I spotted Linda from the back and asked for confirmation while she was re-fueling, nom nom nom.  I knew Joyce would be at Mile 9's fluid station, with the Back On My Feet group.  She perched high on something so it was easy to spot her and we exchanged greetings so it was good.  Another wishful thinking, I thought there might be a chance my club's cheer zone would still be around when I got there.  But it was a cold day and for us Wave 3 people that would mean the cheerleaders have to be there for like three hours.  I had a PPTC hoodie on so occasionally other people would call the club name and I would respond with a fist pump or such.  All the words of encouragement really made a difference, even if it didn't make me finish faster, it sure kept me going.

Strava app messed up and didn't record the tunnel portion of the race.  Instead, it said I went quickly uptown to Chambers Street then zoomed back at the tunnel exit.  It also went bonker in Times Square.  Altogether, per Strava app, I ran over 22 miles at 6 or so minutes per mile.  Of course I didn't.  It still said I did 2:30, but since I stopped Strava after a few steps past the finish line, it turned out I made sub-2:30, or 2:29:43 to be exact.  Sigh, such is the life of a slow runner, had to forgo toilet visits, sacrifice most social interaction, i.e. no stopping for photos, just to squeak by some goal.  Some fast runners would have stomach cramps, wait on long lines for the toilets, then still P.R. by 15 minutes.  But with this sports, it's usually just the runners against their younger self so I'm good.

16 March 2017


At 9 A.M. Sunday April 2, I will help lead a run with the Prospect Park Track Club to celebrate The Park's 150-year anniversary.  The route will spell out... drum rolls... "150"!  I already posted what the route looks like but while it is obvious to me how it should be run, it may not be so to others.  Follows is the step-by-step instruction, as shown in the accompany picture:

  1. Start near the corner of 10th Street and Seventh Avenue, on the side of the street closer to 11th Street.  Note that we won't start at the corner but rather slightly away from the corner, toward the park.
  2. Start the watch/app (which from now on I'll just call "watch"), walk across the street then pause the watch.
  3. Run around the corner to 9th Street and Seventh Avenue then un-pause the watch.  Wait a little bit for the straight line from 10th Street to be drawn.
  4. Run toward the park then turn right toward 10th Street and make a U-turn to head toward 8th Street.
  5. Follow arrow directions, be sure to make the kick-up at the lower left of the "5".  I want to make sure "150" does not look like "ISO", so these little extra lines here and there are actually very important.
  6. At the corner of 7th Street and Eighth Avenue, the back corner of New York Methodist Hospital, pause watch again.
  7. Run around the block to the corner of 6th Street and Seventh Avenue and un-pause the watch.  You should be at the entrance to Barnes & Noble Bookstore.  Again, linger at the corner a few seconds to make sure the straight line from 7th Street and Eighth Avenue is drawn before continuing on.
  8. The rest is straightforward, IMHO.  Run toward 1st Street and Seventh Avenue then loop back toward 2nd Street, run counter-clockwise as shown to make the zero.
  9. Stop when you get back to 1st and Seventh.  The run is less than 3 miles, if you want to have more mileage, but without messing up the "0", draw the "0" again but this time at Carroll Street and Prospect Park West instead of turning into Carroll, continue on toward Grand Army Plaza. Of course, if you already stopped your watch when you first got back to 1st and Seventh you can run anywhere without marring your work of art.
Hope you find the instruction useful.  Sign up for the run at 

14 March 2017


Prospect Park in Brooklyn opened to the public in 1867.  It is turning 150 years old this year.  The Prospect Park Alliance is hosting many events starting Saturday April 1.  On April 2, my running club, the Prospect Park Track Club, will host a run in cooperation with the Alliance.  I designed a route that spells out "150".  Faster runners will lead the group from the front while slowpokes like me will lead from the back.  The run starts at 9 A.M. and will be slightly less than 3 miles.

PPTC runs normally start from Grand Army Plaza but this run is different and will meet at 10th Street and Seventh Avenue, which is the top of the "1" in "150".  Actually, it will be slightly away from that corner, toward the park.  Usually when runners spell words and numbers they make very blocky and straight characters.  I go through great length to make sure the characters are curvy, that corners are rounded and not at ninety degrees.  It is easy to mistakenly spell "ISO" instead of "150" so I want to avoid that.  More details will be provided on how that's done.

Register at https://goo.gl/UknXdS

For more information about anniversary events hosted by the Prospect Park Alliance, visit


28 January 2017


We love our iPhones and use them for everything.  We take them everywhere and take photographs of everything, whether they move or not.  Some of us even record movies with our phones.  Unfortunately, shit happens and sometimes the beloved phone is lost and there goes everything with it.

I've tried a few different methods to backup my iPhone and was unhappy with them.  In no particular order, they were Apple iTunes, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Mophie Space Pack.

Apple iTunes costs nothing to use, mostly.  Some people may have only a smartphone as their only communication device, but most people also own a computer.  They would then need to download iTunes, hook the iPhone to the computer and everything just gets backed up to the computer.  Technically speaking I can go back to this method now, since these days I have regular access to my MacBook Pro.  Until a few months ago, my son hogged the computer most of the time and I didn't use it that much.  Logging onto the computer, connect the cable, wait for the backup to occur, etc seems like too much hassle.

Google Drive worked fine for a while but before I know it, 5 GB was almost gone.  The trouble with Google Drive is it holds not just photos you uploaded but also your Gmail stuff etc from other apps in the Google universe.  Sure I can buy more space but I hate the whole idea of renting if I can help it.  Again, I probably should re-visit Google Drive, that is, get the app and set it to sync my phone's content automatically and regularly when WiFi signal is found.  I recently ran some tool on Google Drive to convert photos to other format and free up a ton of space.

I have no space issue with Microsoft OneDrive.  15 GB is plenty for my photos and the few videos I occasionally take.  However, I cannot recommend OneDrive because new users only get 5 GB.  I almost missed the opt-in to retain the 15 GB.  5 GB nowadays is not too much.

Lastly, a big disappointment, is Mophie Space Pack.  A rugged phone case, 32 GB of space to store, and a batter pack, what is there not to love?  The case works great as long as you don't drop the phone face down, which ultimately happened to me.  The battery pack, perhaps like all batteries, dies slowly over time.  To get to the 32 GB of space, you have to go through a free app provided by Mophie.  It wouldn't be so bad if it actually works.  For me, it rarely did.  In the end, perhaps through some Apple updates, whatever I managed to put into the 32 GB somehow just disappeared.  By then I was too tired of the Mophie to bother troubleshooting it.

Finally, I think I have the solution in the Hootoo Flash Drive with Extended Lightning Connector, aka PlugMate.  The particular model I have is the HT-IM003, with 64 GB of space and made of aluminum alloy.  Like the Mophie Space Pack, to get to that big, empty space you need an app, in this case, iPlugmate.  Unlike the Mophie app, iPlugmate actually works, all the time!  Plug it in, iPlugmate asks for permission, and if you already configured the app to automatically backup photos and videos, that's what it will do.  You can also backup the address book.  It would be nice if settings for other apps can also be backed up, but just photos and videos is fine for me for now.  I manually backed up all my music files just now.

For peace of mind, this is all you need to do with the PlugMate.

Select the Setting symbol in the upper right (the gear).

Select Backup

Touch the toggle by Auto Backup to make it green.

That's all there is.  Now at least once a day, connect the Hootoo Plugmate to the iPhone and you'll be rewarded with a message so many photos were backed up.  You would be told if any files failed during backup, it hasn't happened to me yet, but your mileage may vary.