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By Alex Horvath / The Californian
By SCOTT COX, Contributing columnist
While I was on vacation in Cayucos, my daughter and I would walk from the house to Morro Rock. We've probably done it about a zillion times, and every time we'd try to figure out how far it was. I figured that I'd get a pedometer app for my phone that would get me the real info before we did it again. I downloaded a free app, and pretty soon I figured out why it was free. It froze up twice in a 30-minute walk. Not cool. I tried another free one, only to find that it was wildly inaccurate and activated itself even when it was off, and even when I was driving. I knew something was wrong when it said I'd walked to Big Sur. I'm pretty sure I'd remember that.
So I decided, after reading all the reviews, to try the iSmoothrun app. It cost $5, but man is it worth it. It's crazy accurate; it doesn't just count your steps, it also uses GPS to trace your route. It worked flawlessly on the walk to the rock. (Katie calls it the rock walk, but I refuse). Turns out that it's 4.18 miles. It goes when you go, and stops when you stop. I use it for my daily walks around the neighborhood, and I like it more every day. It tells me exactly how far I walk (2.23 miles); it tells me how many calories I burn by walking (258); elevation, speed -- everything you want to know is right there. And it keeps records, so you can compare your route on a given day to any other day. Pretty cool. It also incorporates your phone's music player so you can walk or run while listening to whatever you want. And get this: After your walk or run, it will tell you what song was on when you hit your top speed, which is actually pretty good to know in selecting tunes that motivate you. It also gives you a full satellite-view map showing you exactly where you walked.
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I don't know how this thing works, but I know that when you're exercising, you need all the motivation you can get, and iSmoothrun gives you a lot of fun and useful data to keep you interested.
'Sons of Anarchy'
The other new thing we discovered this summer is "Sons of Anarchy," whose sixth season premiered Tuesday night on FX. Yes, we got here late -- just as we did with "Breaking Bad." But, just like that series, it's easy to catch up on back episodes nowadays, so you no longer have to sit by in frustration as a great show passes you by. And "Sons" is a great show. It's a pretty compelling bit of story-telling about a gun-running outlaw biker gang based in a small California town. It's chock-full of action, and the writing is first rate.
But adding this show to my must-watch list does bring up an interesting observation: Why is it that all these TV shows have me rooting for bad guys? Dexter is a serial killer, the Sons of Anarchy are murderous arms dealers, and on "Breaking Bad," Walter White is a major meth kingpin who has whacked a few people to protect his interests. All you have to do is flip through this paper, and you'll likely find stories about killers, gangsters and drug dealers, and if you're like me, you want them locked up or worse.
So why is it that with some good acting and a compelling storyline, we find ourselves hoping that the fictional crooks continue to get away with their misdeeds? It doesn't make sense. Week after week, we're all on the edge of our seats, hoping that they'll all be back next week to do it all again. With only a few episodes left of these shows, you have to wonder what kind of criminals we'll be rooting for next.
I remember when all my favorite TV characters were good guys through and through. Can you imagine Sheriff Andy Taylor looking the other way while a biker gang killed people and sold illegal weapons in Mayberry? How about rooting for a criminal, any criminal, to evade the wrath of Marshall Matt Dillon? And if Dexter ever crossed paths with the Cartwrights, they'd figure out what he was up to and turn him over to the law in 30 minutes or less. It's just how things used to work.
Who knows? Maybe tricking us into pulling for the bad guys is what makes these shows so good. Maybe it's a guilty pleasure thing. All I know is that I hope Dexter lives happily ever after in Argentina, and Walter White gets to live out his days in anonymity with his giant stack of money.