Monday, December 9, 2013

Numbers Update

I shouldn't be writing this after entering the numbers I just did, but I need a kick in the pants, really.

Starting weight:
275.2 lbs AVG (272.4 AM / 278.0 PM)

Last night's totals:
269.9 lbs AVG (267.4 AM / 272.4 PM)

And this morning:

According to the average yesterday, the numbers are great - I've lost 5.3 pounds.  Even if you take this mornings weigh-in less the average weigh-in, it's still pretty good.  But compare this morning to the first morning weigh-in - that's only a 2 pound drop.

All I feel about this right now is disappointment with myself; the long and short of it is that I ate too much yesterday, and that's my own fault.  I was fine all weekend until I decided to snack.  I don't even view the two beers I had Saturday night as all that bad - it's the snacks I had Sunday afternoon that did me in.  We also had a big dinner, but it wouldn't have been all that bad had I not had so much to eat earlier.

This can and will be turned around, however.  Today might be a bit of a challenge - there's a lunch buffet in the plans at Pizza Hut - but I think I can restrain myself and still get a good meal.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

30 by 30

My numbers as of 11/20/13
Do a Google search of things to do before you turn 30.  You will likely find several lists of things that you should accomplish in your life before you turn 30.  Vanessa and I have had conversations with friends recently about that specific number.  You may have guessed by now that I am turning 30 in just over 3 months (101 days, to be exact - thanks again, Google).

I've given some thought to what I'd like to accomplish in that time, but either I'm not the ambitious type or I'm just content not pushing the envelope.  Still, there is one thing that I'd like to do: lose 30lbs by the time I'm 30.  I made this goal about a week ago or so, but some of the numbers I got to the right got me thinking about it again.

While my numbers are OK - I'm high in the BMI & Body Fat %, and my blood pressure is a little high, but my cholesterol and glucose numbers are pretty good - they can be better.  I'm roughly 3 inches away from the "ideal" waist circumference for males.  Other than Body Fat % and BMI, I'm pretty close in the other numbers.

So far in my goal, I've lost 2.3 pounds.  When I calculated my goal last week, I estimated that I needed to lose roughly 2 pounds per week to meet this goal (30 pounds / 16 weeks).  So far, I'm behind that goal.  I've decided to look at a more attainable number - how many pounds do I need to lose per day?

With 101 days to go, I need to lose 27.7 pounds; that works out to 0.3 pounds per day (rounded up).  While that is 2.1 pounds over a week, in my mind it sounds a lot more do-able to drop 0.3 pounds every day.  I've learned that the best way to track weight loss is apparently to weigh yourself three times a day, and take the average number of those three.  I'm only able to weigh myself twice a day, so I'm taking the average from the morning when I wake up and just before I go to bed.

It's not a perfect system, but it's what I have.  In previous posts I've talked about what I'm doing to attain various writing goals.  Guess what?  I haven't spent 15 minutes every morning writing.  However, I am actively working toward this fitness goal.  It's something much more important to me than writing goals.  It also helps that I have a partner that is working toward similar goals, and we are motivating each other.  I can't say the same about my writing, at the moment.

Back to weight loss: so what are we doing?  We signed up for a gym membership; we're doing a 30-day plank challenge (this is pretty tough, but it's going to be worth it); we're eating right (or as well as we can without a nutritionist guiding us properly).  And what I'm doing now is keeping honest with my progress by sharing it here.

I'll check back in a month with some results - but until then, I'll get back to my "regular" writing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Creative Spirit

Lately I've been thinking a lot about writing. It's all been sparked by a comment last week on a blog post I wrote last year about a "Short Story Writing Month". Strangely (or maybe not so strangely) the writing I've thought about hasn't been fiction - it's non fiction writing.

I've made the decision a long time ago that I'm not a fiction writer, and I'm okay with that. I've also come to terms with not being "popular" or we'll known; it's not a goal for me, and it's also a direct consequence of a lousy work ethic when it comes to writing.  Unfortunately, that same lousy work ethic means that I’m terrible at keeping up with something as simple as a blog.

I admire everyone out there who writes for a living (and for a hobby, too).  The people that write every day are doing something that I keep saying, “oh, I can do that, no problem!”.  I look at them and see a complete lack of fear - the fear of running out of things to write about, running out of opinions, coming off as boring.

But I also know that these people also experience that same fear.  They just bowl over that fear and they just. do. it.  No excuses, the job gets done.  Believe me, I’ve gone through all of the excuses: no time, no motivation, no ideas.  What has that got me?  A whole lot of nothing.

No time?  What kind of excuse is that?  I have plenty of time every day.  I wake up at 5:30AM, shower, and I’m usually done breakfast before 7, sometimes earlier.  Of course I have the time to spend as little as 15 minutes stringing words together.  What’s the hold-up here?  It’s that lousy work ethic again.

I even thought that I would spend 15 minutes a day listening to music for my podcast, and I haven’t done that.  I tend to put those together the day I intend to record, and the result is sometimes a not-so-well thought-out podcast.

You know, if you’re reading through this post so far you may come up with two deductions: 1) My thoughts are often scattered and not put together too well; and 2) I am a very lazy person with a terrible work ethic.

I’d say that part of both of those statements are true.  My thoughts are often scattered, though I tend to organize them better in some cases more than others.  I can have a terrible work ethic - when it comes to self-assigned duties.  I work very hard at my job, so sometimes I feel like being lazy when it comes to personal things.  I think that’s normal for most people, though.

Anyway, at this point I just wanted to write for the sake of writing.  I feel like I need to do some daily writing, so this is a good starting point - consider this day one.  I think I would like to spend 15 minutes a day working on a weekly blog post, so we’ll see how I manage with that.  I have a few ideas on the back burner so I could bring those to the forefront.

Here’s a challenge: how many idioms or mixed metaphors could I use in one blog post?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Brief Review of A Storm of Swords

I haven't written in a long time, but George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords inspired me to at least write something short about it as a review.  No need to shield yourself from spoilers - I'm not going into specifics with this review, but you'll get more out of it if you've read the novel.

I came into this novel after enjoying the first three seasons of HBO's Game of Thrones.  I read A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, and felt generally underwhelmed with GRRM's writing.  The plot was great, but the execution involved a lot of eating.

However, there seemed to have been a switch when it came to "ASoS", as fans seem to enjoy calling it.  The same great plotting is there, but the writing is dramatically improved.  I can't identify exactly what is better about this novel, but part of it is the characterization.  The characters definitely have more identity to them than before, so that helped my enjoyment level.

There are still moments where I'm left wanting more from him, but overall there was enough here to warrant a five-star rating.  I haven't started reading the other books (I need a break!), but I'd easily call this one the best.

As far as surprises go, there was only one plot point I knew going in (thanks to season 3 of the TV series); there were three others that caught me completely off-guard, and I was appropriately impressed.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New blog idea

I've been very neglectful of this blog and my goal this year. Honestly, I feel that most of what I have to say has been said by others, and better at that.

I also feel that I would still like to write. I think a problem I have with this blog is its lack of focus; It's too vague and all over the map.

That's okay - I will still occasionally scribe something here. But I have a few other ideas floating around that I'm going to try working on.

Some of these things may or may not be ongoing projects depending on the scope of the idea. I'll find out as I go.

The first is primarily a vehicle to improve my memory skills. I have a terrible memory. So I want to write weekly about various things related to memory. I'm pretty interested in this one and have a name picked out (I'll hold on to that for a little bit).

I don't have much else beyond that but I will probably post the ideas here as I get them so I don't forget them (see what I did there).

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Red Shirts (Novel, 2012)

Project 52: 9/52

I've been thinking for a long time about how to write this review without spoiling anything (which is now impossible because by writing this sentence, I'm indicating that there is something to spoil). This is one of those books where you should go in with a blank slate. All you need to know is the main premise: the story is one told from the point of view of "red shirts", those disposable characters who died a lot in Star Trek.

So, since I can't write this without spoiling, I've marked this article as "classified" and have removed any remarks that would give anything away.

Red Shirts, a 2012 novel by John Scalzi, is predominantly a comedy sci-fi novel - so pretty much what I've come to expect from Scalzi (see Agent to the Stars). As I mentioned, it's a story about crew members who come to realize that they're disposable when compared to the main crew (sort of like Kirk/Spock/McCoy) and want to do something about it.

That's where this book [REDACTED] and Scalzi writes some [REDACTED] scenes. You won't believe [REDACTED] and [REDACTED].


I definitely recommend this book and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Five out of five.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Odd Collections

Project 52: 7/52

For some reason I had the urge the other night to collect obscure NHL player trading cards, bought cheaply at Dollarama. The idea would be to buy these packs - which presumably are leftovers, misprints, etc that the trading card company deigned not to include in the "real" packs - and sort through, collecting players who are virtually unknown to the common fan. There would be bonus cards as well for players in the wrong uniform for the current season (see: Rick Nash in a Columbus jersey - or Radek Bonk).

To be honest, I have no idea why this urge washed over me. I know when it came: I saw a package of extra hockey card inserts at Wal-Mart. Naturally my first thought was, "gee, I would love to collect hockey cards nobody wants!"

In hindsight it's completely silly. I know this. But even now I still kind of want to do it. What would I do with these cards?  I feel like I would most likely start a blog and post about these obscure players in a "where are they now" vein.

This is intriguing me even more, now. It's grown from a completely ironic idea to a legitimate idea. Obviously this means someone has already done this, no doubt. Don't expect to see anything from me too quickly.

Here's the one example that started the thought process of all of this:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sudden revelation about Ready Player One

Project 52: 8/52

I was watching Raiders of the Lost Ark this morning and came to a sudden realisation about Ernest Cline Ready Player One: it has a parallel plot.

Stay with me: in Cline's novel, the "Sixers", the ostensibly evil group trying to obtain Halliday's easter egg, at one point get information about a clue - but they only get half the information they need.

In Raiders, the Nazis mistakenly use the wrong length of staff, which gives Indiana a head start.

I don't know if that was done on purpose, or if anyone else caught that before me, but it just blew my mind.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Deep Space Nine Re-Watch: Early Observations

Project 52: 6/52

I've been re-watching Deep Space Nine with Vanessa lately - partly because I really love the show and wanted to watch it again, and partly because I really love the show and want to introduce Vanessa to its greatness.  To be honest, as much as I love the show, I'm almost positive that there are episodes I either haven't seen at all, or just haven't seen very much.

So far, we've made our way through season 1 and the first four episodes of season 2.  I am legitimately impressed at the quality of season 1; my misconception has always been "Season 1 is terrible".  While that is the case with some episodes (ugh...I'm looking at you, "Move Along Home"), the first season is very solid and only slightly relies on previous series for stories (The Duras sisters, Q).  You can really see the seeds of what would grow and develop over seven seasons.

Season 2 is drastically different in tone.  For starters, it is more action-oriented.  It kicked off with a three-parter, which is a really strange decision, but the result was a great three-hour episode.  The writing is right up there as well, with the highlight being Kira's goodbye scene in "The Circle".  The dialogue is snappy and quick-witted and is actually funny.

I'm looking forward to more of season 2, which is already laying way more groundwork for seasons to come (and yes, I know, it ends with introducing The Dominion.  After seeing the first four episodes, I have to figure they were planning this from the start of S2).

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Ready Player One (Novel, 2011)

Project 52: 5/52
"...Cline has written in Ready Player One a strong story..."

I'm a week late writing a review for Ernest Cline's debut novel, Ready Player One.  I say I'm late, because I finished reading it a week ago and am currently half way through Redshirts (John Scalzi) - but don't worry, I'll have something for that soon.  Back to the review - Ready Player One is, in a nutshell, about an immersive video game quest chock full of 80's references.  I guess I'd classify it as a Young Adult novel?  It's a strange one to classify, precisely because of the 80's pop culture references.

To be slightly more accurate with the book's synopsis, an eccentric billionaire leaves his entire fortune to the player who can successfully locate an "easter egg" within Oasis, a massively-multi-player-online video game the billionaire designed.  As the quote on the front of the book says, it's a little like Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

Obviously, the story is more complicated than that - it has to be.  What kind of stakes could be expected in a story that takes place in a video game?  "Oh no, the protagonist's avatar will die!"  Thankfully, this is where Cline excels: the story takes place in 2044, in a very plausible future where money is scarce and people are forced to live in RVs stacked one on top of another (seriously).

Think about all of the real-world problems we face today, and multiply them tenfold.  This creates a world where a contest to win billions of dollars - in a video game - becomes something certain people would most definitely kill for.  And that's how you effectively create stakes for a story set in a video game.

As for the 80's pop culture references, as prominent as they are, they manage to take a back seat to the story.  I realize how little sense that makes, considering how important those 80's references are to solving the clues that lead to the ultimate prize.  What I mean is that Cline could have easily come up with some other clues that didn't hinge on knowledge of the 1980's, and the story would stand up just fine.

And the story does hold up.  Cline has written in Ready Player One a strong story with characters who make choices that feel right for them.  In my book, that's what counts.  That a bunch of awesome 80's references were included as a gimmick?  That just makes it more awesome.

Some other random observations:
I was strongly reminded of Cory Doctorow's For the Win, which isn't surprising; the subject matter in both books revolve around online video games with real-world stakes.  However, I prefer Ready Player One.

I hope that the success of this book leads to more re-discoveries of some of the better aspects from 1980's pop culture.  I've already put War Games on my "to-watch" list - I've never seen it, so hopefully it's an enjoyable experience.

I noticed an IMDB page for Ready Player One.  While the story seems like it would translate well to the big screen (though I'm not 100% certain of that), I'm concerned about rights issues.  Specifically, I imagine in some cases it would be prohibitively expensive to license certain rights and the story might actually be compromised.  Well, I guess we'll see if anything actually comes from it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Project 52: 4/52 (Yikes, I'm way behind!)

So, Podcasts are pretty much my thing - I talk about them a lot as a result; it should be no surprise that one of my weekly writing topics is about Podcasts.  I'm sure I've mentioned them before in some capacity on this blog, but I've been thinking about podcasts in general this week.  (As a complete aside: Sarah, how the heck do you consistently write something every week?)

Why do I like podcasts so much?  I think it's primarily because the content that I can get from podcasts I can't get anywhere else.  There are some exceptions to this rule, when traditional radio stations release popular on-air shows as podcasts (such as one of my favourites, CBC's Under The Influence or KFAI's Crap From the Past).  Sometimes podcasts even cross over to the radio realm (usually through syndication). Either way, my favourite podcasts combine to provide me with the ultimate programmable, personal radio station.

The other thing that's neat about them is that they are usually amateur in nature / quality (the above examples of professional podcasts notwithstanding).  Anybody can make a podcast.  Not everybody can make a successful podcast, but it doesn't matter.  If you can find a way to record your voice, and upload a file to the web, you can create your own podcast.  Why go through the legal hassle of pirate radio when you can broadcast without regulation (okay...not completely without regulation - that's one reason why Creative Commons exists)?

Hence why I podcast.  I've always loved playing around with recording my voice, especially when I was younger.  I remember having my own tape recorder that I played with when I was growing up.  I had a lot of fun being on the air when I took Radio Broadcasting, but that line of work is not a career interest for me.  It's just a hobby - which makes podcasting the perfect avenue to keep working on that hobby.

But I've hit a wall lately; part of podcasting is creating a sense of community with your listeners.  I've been doing Alternative Airwaves for years now, and I feel like I'm sending the podcast out to nobody.  I keep wanting to change things up and try something new, but it never sticks because I don't get any reaction, or I get bored of one idea and move to another.  I'm toying with the idea of hanging it up for that podcast, but I hate the idea of quitting on something I've worked so hard on.

I haven't released a podcast in over a month now, and the last one was admittedly half-assed.  I'm at a point right now where I don't want to release another one until I feel energized about the idea and put in a solid effort and make it sound GOOD.  I hope I can do that before too long, but for right now, I'm just taking it easy and finding good music in the meantime.

That's all I can pound out on this tiny keyboard right now; I hope that in reading all of this, I've sparked some previously unheld interest in Podcasts and that you go listen to either Alternative Airwaves or Futurama Pedia (or both!).  Thus ends my brief shameless plug.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Good Night And Good Luck (Review)

Project 52: 3/52

Easily the best movie from 2005 that I own - and it turns out I own a lot of movies released in that year - this is the black-and-white movie portraying Ed Murrow's fight against Senator Joe McCarthy during the 1950's.  I say this now without watching George Clooney's other 2005 feature, Syriana, but I'm confident it will hold up.

The movie is beautifully shot - can you imagine if it was released in colour?  It would be even more visually striking.  As it is, it works even better mixed with the historical footage from actual McCarthy hearings.

What I especially like about this film is that it portrays the people actually acting like real people.  I think some might find that distracting and consider the film boring, but it adds a level of realism to a fantastic biopic.

I really don't have much more to write about it than that...but I just had to get it out there.  If you haven't seen it before, go check it out now!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

CD Reviews - 54-40 - Dear Dear (1992)

Project 52: 2/52

In the interest of writing something every week, I picked an easy subject: album reviews.  But there's a twist; I recently spent time putting my CD collection back into their cases.

You see, several years ago when I moved to Sudbury, I had to move all of my CDs into a binder so that they were more portable.  Until just a few nights ago, they stayed that way.  Now they're back in their cases, and alphabetised.  Now I can re-visit them in alphabetical order and write about them.

First up is 54-40's 1992 album, "Dear Dear".  For the life of me I can't remember why I bought this album; was it for "She-La"?  For "Nice To Luv You"?  Probably the first one.  Either way, "Dear Dear" is a fairly bland alternative rock album that hardly kept my attention the whole way through.  Sorry, 54-40 fans.

There is one track that did work for me, though.  Strangely enough, it's not one of the official singles - which is not surprising when I think about it.  What were the singles?  The two I listed above, I think.  Prime examples of the bland, inoffensive nature of the album.

The track I enjoyed was "You Don't Get Away (That Easy)".  It has a few more layers to it and is overall much more interesting than any of the other songs on the album.

In short, if I were to downsize my collection (and that is a distinct possibility), 54-40's "Dear Dear" would be the first in the Value Village box.

Up next: Aerosmith - Honkin' On Bobo (2004); The Acorn - Tin Fist (2006); Herb Alpert - Definitive Hits (2001)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Project 52

The common yearly project upon which most people embark is what's known as a "Project 365".  If you're not familiar with the concept, the basic idea is that you do something every day of the year: take a photo, read a book (yes, I've heard of people trying this), and so forth. The other variant is "52": the same idea, but replace every day with every week.

This is the project I will be undertaking for 2013; for 52 weeks, I will write at least one thing per week. I'm not concerned with the actual content of what I write (for instance, this totally counts), just that I write minimally once per week.

I will hold myself accountable by just posting everything here. If it pertains to this blog it will be an article here; otherwise you'll get a link to the content.

I realize that we're already 5 weeks into the year, which means I will need to catch up. So there should be at least 5 weeks with double posts. Theoretically.

This project is inspired by The No Format Podcast and the great Ira Glass.

[Fun fact! I'm typing this on my Android phone using the "Hacker's Keyboard".  I mistyped "per" as "oer", which was automatically corrected to o'er. What a great phone!]