Thursday, December 15, 2016

Web Comic Recommendations

I am by no means a comic aficionado; I leave that stuff up to people like Patrick & Dad.  However, I do enjoy comics, every now and then.  I'm not sure yet whether I prefer the physical article or reading on a tablet - more and more lately, tablet is becoming much friendlier - but I've always liked web comics, for sure.  I've gotten out of reading them lately, which is unfortunate.

Anyway, a few months back I asked the aforementioned Patrick for some free comic recommendations and he turned me onto City of Walls, available via LINE Webtoon.  In addition to CoW, I've found a few other gems hidden in the app.  I find that the "popular" and "featured" comics on Webtoon generally do not have me in their target audience, so I've had to do some digging.

Here are my recommendations from LINE Webtoon, in no particular order:

City of Walls - 3.5/5
     I struggle with rating this one.  On the one hand, I really appreciate the art and level of detail; on the other, the writing leave me a little wanting.  Sometimes it's got bad pacing...other times it seems just right.  I like the overall story though.  I don't want to give away too much about it, so I'll just say that the protagonists are kids in a fictional Asian city.  The world building is just great as well.

Zen Pencils - 4/5
     Zen pencils is illustrated by Gavin Aung Than.  This is a series of stand-alone comics that are based on / inspired by actual quotes from real-life people.  Most of hte quotes seem to be about being creative or being true to yourself.  I do sometimes find it off-putting that lot of the advice about dropping everything and doing what you love doesn't present a realistic sense of balance...

The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn - 3.5/5
     Author/Illustrator: Tri Vuong (works out of the RAID studio in Toronto).  This one has gorgeous artwork.  The story is only okay - I like bits and pieces of it, but I mainly stick with it for the beautiful art.  The current story - "The Last Soldier of Somme" - is set in WWI and seems to be going somewhere, but pacing can make it hard to follow.  Vuong is admittedly new to writing so I'm willing to cut some slack.  Either way - the character design for Oscar Zahn is fantastic.  It looks like Vuong has had this idea floating in his head for a while now.

There are more, but I feel like I need to get caught up with reading some of them before I can properly recommend them.  Until then - enjoy those three!

Monday, December 12, 2016


I need to get some of the writings I've got in my notebooks out there - not all of them, but I've got a few things that I'm hanging on to that I think people would like to read.  This one is ratings and reviews of podcasts I've listened to over the last week.  I'm keeping tabs on what I'm listening to on a daily basis and writing things down (giving them a rating out of 5) so this kind of thing will pop up again to be sure.

I think the next thing I'll put up here will be relating to web comics.  On to the podcasts for now.  I'll try to group episodes under the same podcast title where I can to reduce the size of the list.  Notes in italics are notes I've added after writing it in my notebook.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

275 vs 0

I've been using MyFitnessPal since - I'm honestly not sure.  I remember using it when I had a BlackBerry.  Conservative estimates say at least 5-6 years.  I'm currently sitting at a log-in streak of 275 days, which consists of a mix of full food diaries and some not-so-full diaries.  For the last month they've been full diaries for a semi-accurate weekly calorie count.

I was recently tuned onto CRON-O-Meter - by accident.  The desktop / web version is free to use, but in the Play Store it's about $3 Canadian.  I had some Google Play credit - so I figured I'd give it a try.
I'm currently on Day 0 with CRON-O-Meter.  I'm giving it a rather large handicap - it's hard to overcome a 275-day streak, let alone 5-6 years of use for MFP.  Mentally I steeled myself for a different user interface than what I'm accustomed to.  I didn't want the app to lose points because of some aesthetic issue.

MyFitnessPal(MFP) Main Screen

MFP Food Diary

MFP Progress Screen

CRON-O-Meter (COM) Main Screen

COM Trends screen

COM Nutrition Reports

Luckily, I think they're about equal in terms of UI.  If I had to dock points it would be for the splash screen that loads for COM, but that's minor.  The trade-off is loading the app and waiting while it syncs with the server, etc.  I could always press the 'home' button and leave it open.

There are a few other areas I could cover, but to finish the preliminary review, the most important aspect is the food database.  On the surface, it looks like MFP is still king here.  Looks like COM has a lot in its database, but is nowhere near as complete.  However, it's quite simple to add food, and you have complete control over food data when entering.  The interface looks quite a bit like the familiar nutrition labels (at least on the web version).  I haven't tried scanning any barcodes yet, but that's next.

I'm giving Cronometer a two-week trial, a week to train the app, and then another week to put it to full use.  I'll be using both apps so I should have a good base for comparison.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What's Going On?

My last post on this blog was back in May, but that wasn't a substantive post; it was a link to somewhere else.  My last "real" post here was actually April 1st.  Thought I'd provide some sort of update on how things are going.

The last thing I wrote about was a 'life reset' check-in; technically speaking, I should have provided another update back in June.  Well...I've kind of given up writing publicly about that.  I got the idea to write about it from Wil Wheaton, but I'm hardly a celebrity and don't really think it's that interesting to read about me.  Plus in thinking about it...I'm not sure why I even read Wil's updates.  It's great that he's doing well.  But they're not providing me with reasons why I follow his blog (which is, to exclude a few things, I like his writing, and enjoy his updates on his creative stuff).

That isn't to say that I've given up on the ideas behind why I was writing these posts.  Just works in progress, and you can chalk it all up to "self improvement".  Everybody does it, you don't need to read about it.

What else I'm doing:
- Reading, sort of.  You can see my Goodreads profile to catch up with what I've read recently.  I've reached my 2016 reading goal (8 books) but still finishing a few things.  I've had some trouble carving out time to read; partly because my normal reading time, lunch, is occupied by taking a walk.  Perhaps I could combine the two.  The most recent book I read was Fade In: The Writing of Star Trek Insurrection.  I really enjoyed it, and recommend tracking it down.  Watch Star Trek: Insurrection after.

- I recently re-watched Mockingjay parts 1 & 2 back-to-back with Vanessa.  When we first saw Part 2, I didn't like it as much as Part 1.  It's pretty clearly an inferior film, but when watched together with Part 1, it seems to work better the second time around.  Thinking that maybe the film would have worked better as one film, rather than split into two parts.  Make a few cuts here and there...and there we are.

- Writing - I'm working on writing more.  This post is a bad example, but for instance, I'm working on a piece about what I would fix about Star Trek Nemesis.  It's a pretty long piece so far, and not finished yet.  But as it's not time sensitive, I don't feel bad taking my time.  I probably won't get it finished until the end of September.

I've also been writing weekly posts on called Friday Playlist.  It started out on a whim, and except for last Friday, I've been doing it weekly.  I've had a lot of fun putting these together.  The most recent playlist was the longest one I've written.  Check it out!  I eventually will set up a pretty URL.  Probably

- Podcasting - until August I was doing a great job posting monthly episodes.  I have a playlist ready to go (songs picked out, at least) I just need to hit 'record'.  Just didn't set aside any time for this in August, so I missed a month.  No big deal.  Only 3 more episodes before I hit #100!

That's pretty much it.  Honestly, the impetus of this post was to talk about what I was writing.  Turned into a bit more.  Til next time!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sometimes, I write about the Blue Jays too

I had this idea for a post about the Blue Jays, and my first instinct was to write it here - but this isn't the right spot for it.  Instead I remembered that my brother and I sort of run a Blue Jays blog.  By 'sort of' I mean we hardly ever write anything.  But it exists, so here we are.

You can read it here:

Friday, April 1, 2016

Life Reset/Reboot Check-In

Full disclosure: I'm writing this a full 2 weeks early.  I'm starting it in one of my Moleskine notebooks, and transferring to Blogger via a neat new tablet Bluetooth keyboard.  That detail is unimportant, but super neat to me.

Since the curling season is coming to an end, I thought it would be a good idea to score myself a number out of 4 in each applicable category.

Get Healthy - 2.3/4 (57.5% average score)

> Drink Less Beer - 3/4 (75%)

I've been fairly successful limiting my post-curling beer consumption to one night a week, with some exceptions.  I'm not drinking as much beer outside the weekend, either.  However, I've allowed a few too many exceptions, so I get a 3/4 on this one. 

> Better Sleep - 2/4 (50%) 

To be honest, I might be rounding this category up, a little bit based on a FitBit sleep report I just read.  As of the time of this writing, I've averaged 6 hours of sleep per night, per week, since Feb 1st.  But apparently this week I've increased my sleep time by 14 minutes.

> Be Mindful of Coffee Consumption - 2/4 (50%)

Okay for the most part - but just today I bought a large coffee.  Could be doing better.
I think I've done better than my average score shows.  In 10 weeks, I lost 3.6 pounds.  Since Jan 25, I lost almost 9 pounds.  My average score is 2.3, but I think my true score is 3.

Get Organized - 2.5/4 (62.5%)

I'm basing this on my Habit bull entry for updating my notebook daily.  Since I get a "check" every day that I use my notebook, this makes it easy to track. 
This number seems accurate, because I've had to do a reset within a reset.  At times I feel organized, and others, not so much.  2.5 is fair.

Get Creative - 4/4 (100%)

I've read some more, written some more, and released two podcasts on time.  I think this is the only category I feel good giving myself 100%. 

Overall: 2.4/4 (60%)

I'm doing well, but not great.  My goal for the 6-month mark was to be down 20 pounds; I've lost ~45% of that so far.  I'll consider the weight loss a success if I can drop another 2-3 pounds over the next two months. 

I just need tore consistency with daily habits and my score should come up.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Review: X Files Season 10 (Spoilers Maybe)

I honestly don't know where to start with this review.  I guess it'd be best to open with that I enjoyed the 6 episode mini series.  Were I forced to give it an arbitrary rating, I'd probably go with a 3.25 out of 5.

I wasn't the biggest X Files fan while it was on the air, picking up only in the last season (which featured the infamous John Doggett).  I got hooked on the show in spite of itself, and enjoyed the re-run episodes that Space would show every night at 10.  Wish they'd pick that up again - the classic episode marathon they had back in January was close enough I guess.

For the most part, this season actually felt like a regular season of the X Files.  Being a mini-series, I fully expected to be watching a 6-episode story, rather than 6 stand-alone episodes.  I think this was smart - it meant that they were better able to stay close to the X Files tone.  It was pretty much a "Monster of the Week" peppered with shows that serve to drive the overarching story.

I think the very best episode of the bunch was "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster", which featured Rhys Darby as the titular Were-Monster.  I feel like this episode was written particularly to fit Darby's style.  Also funny to note that Darby played a werewolf in "What We Do In The Shadows", which is a must-see.  Werewolves, not Swear-wolves!

Unquestionably the worst episode was My Struggle II.  It didn't seem to fit with the rest of the episodes (even though it was a direct sequel to My Struggle).  Also, it featured a seemingly pointless re-appearance of Agent Reyes - that didn't really seem to serve any purpose other than to give us a familiar character to deliver plot exposition.

Here's how I'd rank the episodes:

  1. Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster
  2. Home Again
  3. My Struggle
  4. Babylon
  5. Founder's Mutation
  6. My Struggle II
I'd probably switch around Babylon and My Struggle, but Babylon takes a hit for "Agent Einstein".  Also, I just looked up Founder's Mutation and realized that the director of this one also directed "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man", an episode I watched recently and really liked.  Musings was the better episode.  

Other minor notes - both Aaron Douglas and Alessandro Juliani appeared in the season as guest stars, who both starred in Battlestar Galactica.