The Fugue Counterpoint by Hans Fugal


Calipers and Science

Just for kicks I dug up the original Jackson/Pollock paper for skinfold measurements for determining body fat percentage. Turns out there's also a 7-point equation that also takes circumference of waist and forearm into account.

Here's a snapshot of the equations for men from the paper ("Generalized equations for predicting body density of men" by A.S. Jackson and M.L. Pollock, 1978. I couldn't find the PDF for the women paper online).
Generalized body density equations

Important notes: skinfolds are in millimeters, circumferences are in meters, and log is the natural log (ln in most computer languages). I plugged my values from two weeks back into a spreadsheet and got the following results:

JP Equation Density %BF
Sum of seven skinfolds
S, S^2, age 1.0518 20.62%
S, S^2, age,C 1.0476 22.51%
log S, age 1.0506 21.15%
log S, age, C 1.0482 22.25%
Sum of three skinfolds
S, S^2, age (5) 1.0607 16.69%
S, S^2, age,C (6) 1.0549 19.24%
log S, age (7) 1.0578 17.95%
log S, age, C (8) 1.0574 18.14%

The most interesting thing here is that there's a large difference between 7 and 3 site measurements, and the 3 site range is significantly larger. Also very interesting to note is that the one-site (suprailiac) AccuMeasure chart is, for me, in line with the 7-site measurement (22.1%). Given other measurements I've taken and just general guesswork based on what I see in the mirror, I think that is a decent estimate.

It's also curious that there are two sets of equations given, one using logs and one using squares.

Moral of the story: more data is better, sometimes not-enough more data is worse than a simpler estimate, and interesting things can be learned when you go to the original source. (This is just a quick note, but the paper is very interesting and reading it will be an interesting exercise that sets proper expectations for, and understanding of, the JP7 skinfold method).


Use a balloon to estimate RV

So it's been awhile since I estimated my residual lung volume (RV), and I figured it was time to do it again.

I'm a big guy, so my lungs hold a lot of air. When you're blowing all your air into containers in the bathtub, and you're ⅔ or more exhaled, is not the best time for pausing to move your straw to another container—or worse, refilling the container. This time I decided to use a balloon.

I took a deep breath, exhaled maxmially into the balloon, then blew the rest into the container through a straw. (Wait, did he just say "the rest" after "maximally exhaled"?) I heard that. Yes, you can't exhale all of your air because the pressure in the balloon is higher than atmospheric pressure. In my case, I had another 400ml of air.

Then I emptied the air out of the balloon into the container. This is easy and leisurely once you figure out the trick, but it can seem next to impossible at first. Hint: don't try to submerge the balloon. If you grab the lip of the balloon mouth only, and avoid pinching the neck, you can control the air flow very well. There, I had measured my vital lung capacity (VC).

It worked great, and compared with the last circus event when I measured VC it was much easier.

Now I had to figure out how to get from VC to RV. The clown who wrote kind of left this step vague. I've remedied that and added a page to my spreadsheet. For the curious, my RV is up from 2.0 liters to 2.2 liters, and a total lung capacity of 8.2 liters.