Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Keiser Indoor Cycle Sucks

The Palo Alto JCC, of which I'm a member, and where I cycle indoor a couple of times a week, recently "upgraded" its stationary bicycles – switching from old Schwinn equipment to "state-of-the-art" Keiser M3i bikes. The problem is that these new bikes are horrible.

Let me count the ways the Keiser M3i sucks:
  • The bike's computer is a piece of junk
    • Power (Watts) and Energy (kCal) share the same display field, and the computer alternates between them. If you are trying to maintain a steady power output, you are left guessing every few seconds; if you just want to glance down to see your current power output, you might see the energy you spent instead.
    • Every now and then, the computer spontaneously resets, all counters are set back to zero, and you lose all your session's data. This might happen when you rapidly shift gears, or (as it happened to me today) for no reason at all. 
    • After 99 minutes and 59 seconds, the computer freezes. I occasionally take two one-hour classes back-to-back; after learning, the hard way, about this stupid design mistake, I'm now forced to reset the computer between classes.
  • The old bikes had two steady bottle holders; the M3i has only one ridiculously designed holder
    • Every class, multiple participants drop their bottles and are forced to dismount their bikes
    • There is no room to place a phone or any other device
    • When I go for two back-to-back classes, I need to dismount between classes to fetch a second bottle
  • The old bike was compatible with both Polar and Garmin heart rate monitors. Keiser is only compatible with Polar. As the owner of a Garmin monitor, I'm out of luck: doomed to see Todd's heart's rate on my bike's computer.
  • OK, this is subjective, but I find the new bikes to be less comfortable and less stable than the old ones.
On the positive side, the Keiser M3i bikes look sleek, and we can at least hope that they will wear down at a slower pace than the old creaky Schwinn bikes.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Shakshuka - an Israeli Recipe

My colleague asked me where she could get a good Israeli Shakshuka in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Oren's Hummus, with locations in Palo Alto and in Mountain View, serves a pretty decent one.

But it's quite easy to prepare a shakshuka at home.

Here's the family recipe:

  • 6 ripe beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large bell peppers
  • Tabasco, salt, pepper
  • 2 to 4 Eggs
  • Optional: garlic, basil, oregano

  • Dice the onions and peppers and fry them in a pan with olive oil.
  • Place the tomatoes in a boiling water pot for a few minutes, so you can peel their skin.
  • Peel the tomatoes, dice them and add to the pan. 

  • Add Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cover the pan, lower the heat, and stir occasionally – until the vegetables are soft and cooked.
  • Add the eggs without stirring (you want them sunny side up, or over easy) – don't cluster them: they should be distributed across the pan.
  • Cover the pan, the eggs are poached with the steam.