5 Random Things I Did This Past Weekend

A incredibly busy weekend – but, at least a sunny one.  Or, I suppose if you’ve been watching the news lately – a slightly smoggy but still sunny one.  I’m just happy without any rain.

1) Wherein I Discovered We Have a View of the Eiffel Tower


As part of one of the tests I was doing to validate how long battery coverage lasts on the Fenix2 for my review this week, I needed to find a way to get the unit to have a clear view of the sky.  While I’ve done  some tests indoors, the coverage is impeded, and thus, that actually impacts battery life (it has to spend more effort searching/tracking).  So I realized that we actually have a tiny little skylight in our bathroom that one can open.

We rarely open it, mostly because it’s almost always raining here.  But the last few weeks it hasn’t rained at all, so the thought to put something up there actually seemed reasonable.

While I was taking some photos of the watch sitting up there for the review (by just sticking my hand through the opening while standing on a dinner table chair), I turned the camera and took a few other random shots.  But my arm wasn’t quite long enough to see much more beyond the edge.

So I ran back downstairs and grabbed one of the GoPro poles I’d used in some action camera stuff earlier this winter, and rigged it up to a GoPro.  It looked like this:


I had the GoPro paired to my phone to align the shots and take photos using the trigger on the phone app.  That worked well.


But it wasn’t until after I downloaded the photos that I realized that I could actually see the Eiffel Tower – far off in the distance.  The distance sorta shrouded by smog.  Though, the smog would get much denser at night once the sun was down.


Back to the tower though.  See, check it out!  It’s the one on the left.


Perhaps another day I’ll rig up some higher quality camera + non-digital lens and get a better shot.  Regrettably, there isn’t any way to actually get up to the roof, nor sit up there.  As the little skylight doesn’t give much of a gap to fit through.

2) A shorter long run to the Statue of Liberty

This past week was a bit of a down week for me, typical for any training schedule.  Thus, my long run was only 90 minutes, compared to normally 2:00-2:30.  As has been the case lately, I started along the river.  And has also been the case, navigated among the masses out enjoying the day.


I hit the Eiffel Tower and decided to weave up and down the packed dirt avenues.  I typically don’t loop around the tower in the winter, since the rains often make it a muddy mess.


My garden meanderings:


From there, I swung down and checked out the fake hot air balloon.  It’s always tied to the ground, but does go up some distance.


A few minutes later, I’d see it up in the air (tethered still), providing a view of the surrounding area.  Perhaps some day I’ll go up in it.


Soon I’d be hitting the mini Statue of Liberty that overlooks a temporary split in the river (Seine).


This skinny island in the river is always a nice place to run, as usually it’s fairly quiet, and without too many crowds.


Eventually I’d finish up some 13.5-miles later, at the CupCakery to pickup a recovery drink.  A Diet Coke counts, right?


3) Played around with a new gadget

While it’s been many weeks since my DJI Phantom quadcopter came in, I simply haven’t had any time to go to the park and give it a whirl.  Today, after knocking out a bunch of other things with the Autolib, I headed out to a park further away to give the first flight a shot.

The below little spot was void of anybody else, so it made it perfect.  Plus, it wasn’t too big, nor too small.  Kinda like having the pool to yourself.

While initially one of the props didn’t spin up to speed correctly, I powered it off/on and all was good.

I’d roughly read the manual on the helicopter operation itself, but hadn’t spent any time yet with the gimbal/mount for the GoPro, so that pretty much just pointed down the entire time.


More importantly though than the downward dog camera’s viewpoint, was that the flights were all successful.  In this case, success is simply defined as having not crashed.  Gotta start small.


Actually, in reality I have a fair bit of RC aircraft experience, albeit all in fixed wing (airplanes).  I used to enjoy building them and flying them.  But haven’t in a few years now.

4) A trip to a new pool


A few weeks back a reader sent me the above pool as a great place to get in swims, but also be able to get photographs of various swimming devices.

That tends to be trickier in many of the indoor facilities in Paris.  In part because the light is so poor in many of them, and also because the water quality tends to be a bit less clear.

This pool resolved both of those issues.  It’s not quite in Paris proper, but rather about a 15-20 minute drive (via Autolib).  But that’s fine.

And best of all – it even has palm trees!


5) The rest of the time, I prepared reviews for this week


The current plan has two reviews coming up this week – the Ambit 2R, and the Fenix2.  Thus, thousands of photos were taken in preparation for those reviews (only a small handful of which actually makes it to the review).

It’s gonna be a busy spring…so gotta get things out the door!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week ahead!


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  1. Paul L

    Nice timing on those reviews – REI dividend checks go out by the end of the month :)

  2. Jean-Philippe

    Would you share the name of the pool with a Parisian ?

  3. Hubert

    Ray, a diet coke does not count!!
    Full of aspartam (no sugar), no antioxydant, no protein, … only taste!
    For the same price, a fruit would do much more.

    Looking forward to see the review of next week

    • No, you’re right. I should have added a Banana Nutella Cupcake. Solves both protein and sugar.

    • Eli

      Nutella doesn’t add much protein

    • Alice

      most so-called “diet” drinks are really bad for you, if you gotta have coke, the sugar in the classic version is much less harmful than the sweetener in the “light” product, so I couldn’t help but comment (i personally think it’s criminal the way it is misrepresented in advertising)

  4. Peter

    Although it can be a bit fiddly, your roof window looks like one we used to have that you can remove with a simple flat headed screw driver although getting it in and out was initially very fiddly until I got the hang of it. That would give you better access to the roof.

  5. Happy Runner

    Nice to see so many people outside Bertie’s CupCakery! But no blog update since last summer — maybe you could encourage the girl to post. The idea that a Canadian could just move to Paris, without knowing the language or having any retail experience or knowing anyone, and open a business that only sells cup cakes, which then turns out to be a huge success, is simply amazing. You must be so proud of her.

    • gingerneil

      +1. A few blog posts could get your fans/readers turning up too – although it looks busy enough with more publicity !
      Really looking forward to the Sunto review. I have a niggle in the back of my mind that I may sell the FR220 and make the swap if the review looks good. Garmin’s issues with current pace (varying a stupid amount – making the pace targets almost pointless) is tempting me away. Am I right in thinking though that the Sunto cant use ANT+ to extract data from the watch, like the older FRs can ? BTLE on the Garmin is a fail with my Nexus 5, and with the ANT+ ‘hack’ it would be great to be able to extract workouts from the Sunto this way.

    • Correct, the Suunto watches don’t to ANTfs transfers, so no method to transfer off the unit except USB.

    • gingerneil

      Thats a shame – looks like everyone is moving away from that method of transfer.
      Any more news on the Mio Link ? You previously said they were aiming for delivery of their units from manufacture around now. Posts on facebook etc though are suggesting it may be another few weeks until pre-order.. :(

    • I’m hearing next week for pre-orders.

    • gingerneil

      Again – thanks for being so open with your intel! :)
      Fingers crossed delivery will be soon after that. Three weeks and counting for my first marathon.

  6. Cheryl Morton

    Sounds like a pretty nice week

  7. Heikki

    Looking forward for Ambit2 firmware update.

  8. Chad


    Watch out for the French authorities. I read about a teen who was prosecuted for flying a quadrocopter in Nantes without a license (he didn’t get near any flight paths if I recall correctly). Unless you have a French license, then never mind.

    You do seem to have an awesome view of Notre Dame.

  9. Eli

    Going to learn parkor to get on the roof?

  10. Randy

    So your “down week” includes running 13.5 miles in 90 minutes?

    My half-marathon results from the weekend suddenly seem so… pedestrian.

  11. Michael

    It might make for some fun swim/stroke feedback by having someone fly the go-pro over you while you swim in that pool.

  12. Rob McMurry

    Looking forward to the full Ambit 2R review! I just bought one from Clever Training with the discount. I know I will learn so much from your post.

  13. Mikey T

    Suunto doesn’t have vibration alerts, correct? I assume the review will cover that. If so, that would kill any interest for me.

  14. Knut

    Impressed with the neat antenna cable placement over the roof! ;-)

    Shame you cant build a small wodden terrasse up there.

  15. dECEIT70

    Yup! 21km in 90’… in my (wet) dreams only! \o/