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 www.alternativeairwaves.com 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 http://www.alternativeairwaves.com/fridayplaylist.

- 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.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Clash of Clans

I got started playing Clash of Clans over the summer, mostly as a way to prevent boredom.  I was terrible at the beginning - and I'd say I'm probably just Pretty OK at it now.  But I log in to play (even if it's just to check in on my base) at least once a day; I'd say without a doubt that this is the most I've ever played a video game - and I'm including countless hours trying to beat Star Wars on the original Game Boy (oh man, that is an impossible game!  I never made it past the Death Star).

For a little bit though I was growing a bit bored with the game.  The only thing keeping me coming back to it was that I needed to upgrade troops/buildings/etc and participate in Clan Wars.  I could see myself slipping away from the game eventually.

But Supercell, the company that makes the game, released a pretty major update about a month ago.  I won't go into full detail, but the biggest change was to add a daily 5-star bonus system.  The gist of it is that once a day you can collect bonus loot that gets added to a protected treasury.

Most mobile games have a daily check-in bonus to keep you invested in the game, but I think this is the best implementation of it that I've ever seen.  In most other games, you simply log in once a day and collect a bonus.  In Clash of Clans, you can earn 5 stars every 24 hours (and the 24 hour clock starts once you collect your first star - so if you time it right, you could start earning stars again immediately after your 5th star).

The genius part about this system is that it gets people attacking other clans outside of war more often by creating a bigger incentive.  Where before I might have attacked once or twice a day, I will attack 3-4 times in order to collect bonus stars.  The update also balanced the game a little more, so while you get raided more often - you don't lose nearly as much loot in comparison because you can gain so much more.

All that said - everything they put into this update has breathed some new life into the game for me, and is keeping me interested in it.  The update also showed some thought and care put into the game, and wasn't just a lazy code addition.  A job well done!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

X-Men Days of Future Past re-watch + Other observations

Last weekend I had a second viewing of X-Men: Days of Future Past.  I first saw it in theatres, and enjoyed it.  Apparently not everyone did?

Anyway, my only problem with the film was the opening exposition from Patrick Stewart / Professor X.  It felt very clunky and put in solely for the movie watching audience - doesn't it seem funny that none of the other mutants were already aware of Mystique's actions to fast forward the Sentinel program?  Other than that, it was a fast-paced film that works really well.  For pacing, it felt a lot faster than First Class - which I think is actually the better film of the two, so far.

Other observations

X-Files: No, not the new season.  Space ran a marathon of classic X-Files episodes the weekend leading up to the new season; I didn't watch the entire marathon, but chose a few to record based solely on the episode descriptions.  I picked some good ones so far!
- Squeeze I spent the bulk of this episode assuming it was actually the second episode featuring Victor Tooms, and was confused why neither Mulder nor Scully realized who they were dealing with.  Good episode, but the characters were a little wooden
- Ice I really liked this episode.  It was both creepy and suspenseful, and had a good sense of mystery around it.
- The Erlenmeyer Flask Really well done episode, and you can tell the writing team, director, and actors are all on their game at this point.  I had seen the pilot episode months before for the first time and appreciated the nice little bookend of the season 1 pilot and finale with the Cigarette Smoking Man in the Pentagon warehouse.
Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose The most recent episode, I just watched this one last night.  This episode was most representative of the bulk of the X-Files episodes I have seen - more monster of the week, scale tipping a little bit to the comedic side.  I really liked this one as well.

Weight loss

I've been trying an 8/16 fast - eat for 8 hours, fast for 16.  It's been going alright; there are times I feel very hungry, but I've been able to work through it.  Usually with water.  I'm into my second week of it now and I'd say I'm not feeling as hungry as I was when I first started it.  When I do eat, I feel full.  So far, it seems to be helping!