Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
One trick with dieting is that weight can be a fickle metric. Clothing, hydration, meals in the stomach, use of the bathroom, muscle mass lost or gained, temperature affecting the scale and more can swing things in either direction. As such, my brother has encouraged me to track my progress is more than one way.
In the front of my little journal they actually encourage you to track things two other ways than simple numbers off the scale – body measurements and clothing sizes. This evening a little time was spent with a measuring tape and pen so I could get at least the body measurements handled.
So, as of today?
- Right upper arm – 14”
- Waist- 40.5”
- Hips – 45”
- Right thigh – 26”
In one month I’ll measure again and hopefully find the numbers to be to my liking!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Week 1 - 220.6lbs
Week 2 - 221.6lbs (+1 lb)
Week 3 - 216 lbs (-5.6 lbs)
Week 4 - 216.6 lbs (+.6 lbs)
Week 5 - 214.8 lbs (-5.8 lbs)
Week 6 - 215.6 lbs (+.8 lbs)
--missed a week
Week 7 - 216.8 lbs (+1.2 lbs)
Week 8 - 215.8 lbs (-1 lb)
Week 9 - 216 lbs (+.2 lbs)
---missed a week
Week 10 - 216.6 lbs (-.4 lbs)
Week 11 - 214.2 lbs (-1.4lbs)
So far I'm 6.4 lbs less than when I started, and losing about .5 lbs a week. Seems good and healthy. Even when I mess up I'm doing better, eating-wise, than before. Trying to get more exercise in as I remember, but its not habitual yet. I've got 4.6 lbs left until I reach my 5% weight loss goal, then its eyes forward to my 10% goal of 22 lbs lost.
I'm pleased with my results thus far, and just need to keep on at it. I've got two more sessions to go before I need to start paying for it again (got 13-weeks from at a discount from my HMO), and I'm considering doing it. What is nice, if not great, is that at my last physical a few weeks ago all my blood test things improved with my bad cholesterol now being in a healthy range. Still working on my blood sugar but that will improve with more exercise. My doctor was quite pleased!
To make things a little easier on myself I bought a little Points calculator (got it half off because it was opened) and a 3-month food journal. I like them and am finding them to be convenient. On top of that I started using a hip-sack/fanny-pack/man-bag I had gotten in Vegas to carry them around conveniently along with my cell phone.
So far, so good! Here's looking forward to future success! At this rate I could be 188.2 lbs by this time next year!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Last week I picked up a copy of Forbidden Island from my local Borders. I had first heard of it while looking for cooperative games to play with my friends on our Sunday get-together. Its for two to four players and suggested for ages 10 and up. The goal of the game is collect all the treasures on Forbidden Island and escape before the island sinks into the ocean.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tonight was my Weight Watcher’s meeting/weigh-in.
Normally, my ritual is this; I go home, get my stuff and change into a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. This week, due to the 88th annual Maui County Fair, I had to go straight to the weigh in. As such, I was wearing my work clothes. Okay, fine, no big deal. I get to the meeting, empty my pockets, take off my shoes, and get weighed, coming in at +0.2lbs compared to last week.
When I get home I immediately change, grab the pants plus my normal weigh-in shorts, and hit the kitchen. We’ve got a nice little digital scale that will even zero-out for stepped measuring.
I weigh the shorts, zero the scale, then weigh the pants to get the difference. I then take numbers, find a website that converts ounces to pounds, take that number, add it to my weight last week then compare to my week this week.
Happy happy, I actually weigh 0.175lbs less this week than last week.
But man… I think I’m a little crazier than I thought!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
We’re finally in the fourth quarter of 2010. The year has certainly flown by, but I’m not certain if its from fun or the years passing faster as I get older. In a bit less than three months I’ll be at the one year mark for a personal contract, a plan, I made. Intended as a blue-print for the year I sat down and went through four areas I wanted to see improvement. So, in order…
Get my finances in the best shape of their life.
Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University was a big help here, and my credit cards are paid off. That being said I’ve not progressed far beyond that point – by nature I am not what Dave would call gazelle intense. Quite the opposite. So, at the moment I have not pursued a second job as originally planned, and paying off my car at triple speed has taken a back seat to other things.
When I get my emergency fund back to full (recently had to pay for some car work) I will get back on to track with the more aggressive payoff plan. If nothing else I think I can say I’m doing well in this area.
Get my body in the best shape of my life.
My plan here was a three-pronged approach to my overall health. First was getting my weight down, second was improving my sleep habits, and third was exercise.
Weight was a back-and-forth item for me. Indeed, I weight a little more now than I did then, not achieving the 2.5lbs per month weight loss I was hoping for. At the same time, I certainly did not go back to my old ChangeOne ways. That being said, I have started with Weight Watchers and am seeing improvement. As importantly, I managed to get my bad cholesterol down to normal levels and my blood sugar has been improving as well compared to last year. As such, while I’ve not reached my target weight I’ve certainly started seeing benefits from dietary change.
Sleep has been a pretty good success for me. I set the goal of being in bed by 10 p.m. at night, and most nights I do reach that goal. I think its made a difference in my energy levels to be certain, but the thing to keep in mind is that it also ties in with my weight. I’ve heard of studies where sleep deprivation can contribute to keeping unwanted pounds, but if nothing else the lousier my sleep the more I crave fatty foods at breakfast. Certainly, Jack in the Box and McDonalds has seen less of me since this year.
Exercise has been more miss than hit. I have gone and purchased a lighter kettlebell for myself, as well as joined up with a friend to exercise once a week (pending sanity in our schedules). Still falling short of the 150 minutes a week prescribed by the doctor, at any rate.
Get my brain in the best shape of its life.
The majority of the things I planned to do haven’t happened. Book a month? Nope. Project a month? No. Take a class? Well, still got three months left.
Good grief, what have I been doing?
For the first time in quite some time I’ve actually been dreaming a bit. I’ve started looking and poking at different things, entertaining ideas, looking for leads and starting points. Am I ready to act on any of them? Not quite yet. Certainly things are stewing right now, and I’ve go to say I’ve thought of more things I could do in the past year than I have the past five
Additionally, the reading I have been doing recently has been more of the, for lack of a better term, soul food variety. My brother loaned me some audio CDs to listen to in the car, I’m reading John Maxwell and listening to Zig Ziglar, and have subscribed to three different weekly newsletters on success and motivation.
Am I any smarter than last year? Eh, hard to say. But I think I can truthfully say my world feels brighter and larger than it has in quite a while.
Present myself better than I ever have before.
This has actually been a surprisingly successful area for me. As planned, I donated a lot of my old clothes, got new glasses, and with the help of my friend Lorrie added a lot of new items to my wardrobe. My day to day dressing is considerably improved over last year, and when I go in to work I look more professional and age-appropriate compared to my “bought in my 20’s” clothes.
We’ll see. I’ve still got three more months before I’m staring down 2011, and that’s three more months to work on these areas. I’m already pondering what might make a worth set of goals for next year, but I still need to review more of this year as well.
What I am very happy about, though, is that even when I did not make the progress I had wanted, I was still moving forward. Certainly in the past it was easy to look at what I didn’t do and beat myself up over it, but I’d like to think that looking at things a bit more objectively is a sign of maturity! So, until then…
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Much to their credit, as well as the folks who come, its often laid back and everyone is a good sport about winning, losing, and generally just playing.
But one thing I was wondering, however, is "are there many cooperative games?" As is, the games we play are typically competitive in nature. The rules set up a system for that competition that everyone has to abide by and goes from there. There is really only one winner, be it an individual or a particular team. Now, that is good, and enjoyable, but "in the real world" there is the possibility for win/win and lose/lose situations. Outcomes where everyone can benefit or everyone loses out.
Now then, how do you replicate this?
Right now I'm planning on checking out Forbidden Island and Pandemic. Both are supposed to be cooperative games where players either win together or lose together. I think my gaming groups would like them, but more than that I'd like to see if I can learn from them. Adversary-based competition is so prevalent in gaming because I believe its likely easier to design for and because its easier for us to relate to and work with. We see it in sports, our entertainment, and cynical jokes about how business works.
But, as I've been listening and reading to various people, its clear that in order to prosper you need to be able to create win/win situations. Where you and those you partner with in business both win. You and your customers need to both win in your deals and transactions. You and your employer or employees need to be win/win in your relationship in order for it to be mutually beneficial.
Its a bit easier to find cooperative video games, but I think that there's a cost of accessibility. A lot of online role-playing games like World of Warcraft or City of Heroes are cooperative, but not everyone likes them and given each person needs their own computer, account, etc., its going to be cost prohibitive. There's an increasing number of console games with cooperative elements, but they're often shooters of some sort with violent game play. Likewise, there's a certain amount of time that needs to be invested to learn the game from a physical standpoint (controls, hand-eye coordination, etc) that detracts from their usability.
There are traditional role-playing games, but regardless of genre they're not going to appeal to everyone. Likewise, not only would someone have to take up the game master/referee's position, there's not an insignificant amount of work involved in running a game. A game master has to be the arbiter of the rules, be fair and consistent, and be a good story teller! Its not easy, plus that person doesn't actually get to play along with the other people.
Hence, I'm curious about the idea of games that are cooperative but are accessible and do not require someone to sit out in order to make the game happen.
Its been something to think about, that's for sure!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Over the years I've gotten to know and be acquaintances, if not friends with, a fair number of content creators. Artists, writers, musicians who make their living (or supplement it) through books, games, and music sales. I'm a fan of a fair number of companies that do business with selling software and services, some of which have seen ups and downs. On top of all that I've got a liking for some of my local stores and businesses.
Because of all this, its put a different twist on how I'm seeing the new versus used debate, and has me leaning more towards buying new. Not because I'm rich, mind you! To be honest, for a while I felt like it was kind of silly to buy new - you're paying more for, what? On some things, like books, DVD's and games, there's a good, compelling reason to buy used! Especially games when the store you go to provides a better return policy and 10-20% off the price of new when you buy used. Arguably, its stupid to buy new (at least with them).
When I buy a product new I'm generally buying locally. This is a wonderful thing since, well, living on an island means money generally has a harder time getting here than leaving here. I might not be getting the best price (shopping at Amazon or some other online retailer might save me, sometimes even after shipping), but at least some of the money stays here, and usually paying someone's check. I like this, especially since my own work depends on other businesses doing well. Do I order online? Yes, I do. But generally its for things I can't get here. Maui, not being Oahu, this issue can come up a little more often than I'd like.
The other trick with buying something new is I'm supporting the people that produce it. I've liked enough small, niche companies or topics over the years (SNK being a long time favorite) to sort of dispell that "all companies are greedy, evil, and greedily evil" misconception. Yes, companies are for-profit, obviously, but that doesn't mean they're swimming in cash. Likewise, if they're not making money doing something either they'll go out of business or stop doing that thing, whatever it was. I've seen companies I've liked go out of business, undergo layoffs, and even get bought out then gutted or changed to the point where they're not really the same company anymore. So, supporting products I like and the company that makes them has gotten a bit more important to me.
To make things one step deeper, I now know people who are involved in those products. I've been fortunate enough to have conversations (and play online once) with a staffer at Arena.Net, the maker of Guild Wars. One friend of mine writes and publishes role-playing games, whereas another is a writer, whose works can be found not only in her own novels but also anthologies. A good, long-time friend of mine is an illustrator, having done work for a fair number of books (and at least one video game!), plus another has done art for video games, movies, television shows and lord knows what else. I've known more than bands from my college years - folks I went to school with - going to their concerts, buying their self-published CDs and other merchandise. I've even, through a friend, got to meet a gentleman who works at Microsoft and had his hand in the 360 and the Zune (two products I own and enjoy) - even got to play a DVD trivia game with him and his family (Shout It Out or something like that). This has sort of humanized the whole process - its gotten a lot easier for me to see the people behind the products, you know? When I buy new, it benefits them.
I'm very happy its getting easier to buy things digitally now - its getting easier, cheaper and more convenient, plus with at least Borders I'll be able to buy digitally, locally, as well.
I'll be honest - sometimes I really don't want to swallow the price of buying new. Sales happen and coupons come around. Sometimes I will go ahead and buy used. But I have to say - I certainly don't feel like it is stupid to buy new. Now, I don't feel greedy or selfish for buying used - but I'm leaning a bit more the other way.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Realizing my actual wants and usage of my smartphone (indeed, my actual "I'm not in front of a computer" habits) are fairly modest, I've come to realize that any of the smartphones out there should be quite fine for my needs.
However, and this might be due to my XY chromosomes, I've been eying the newer smart phones lately.
Believe or not this is the phone I'm considering the least. Part of it is maybe some contrary-ism on my part. Perhaps an irrational attraction to "other" options. But at the same time its certainly the safest option. I know it'll do pretty much everything I want and more, but then again, the same can probably be said about all the smartphones out there. Good ecosystem (hardware, software, accessories) to boot.
Yet... I'm not overly interested in it. Go figure. I think it might be a result of me wanting to keep my professional life (which is in an OSX centric world) and my personal life (which has gotten increasingly Windows-centric) separate.
In theory this is the most ideologically compatible phone for me. Open source based? Yes. Multiple hardware vendors? Wonderful. Variety in hardware configurations so I can find the perfect one for me rather than Apple's "one size fits all?" A definite yes. Available on all carriers? An enthusiastic yes!
Yet at the same time these selling points also lead to reasons (for me) to be a bit leery. Not so much the open source nature, but the diversity leads to inconsistency. Reading reviews becomes required (and you should never trust just one review for a single product). Finding out which version of the OS the device comes with is important, but also answering the question, "will I be able to upgrade to the newest version of Android?" The phone maker might not have an update in the works for that model, or the carrier itself could decide not to release the update! Likewise, there might be goodies on one model of phone that's not on another because its phone or carrier specific.
This fragmenting is a bit frustrating for me, especially since Android 2.2 is supposed to be quite good. Allegedly Android 3 will work towards making this less of a concern, but we'll see. Right now its a lot more work with a bit more risk. Still exciting, mind you, but its a process I'm more familiar with when dealing with computers than I am with cell phones.
Microsoft/Windows Phone 7
The new Windows Phone 7... er... phones, aren't even out yet, but they've really gotten my attention. Its a little frustrating since to get one of these would violate my "don't be an early adopter, fool!" rule. Getting something when it first comes out (particularly when its first generation of something) is generally asking for trouble when it comes to technology (and yes, even with Apple products).
Yet... its not exactly a first generation product. Its Windows Mobile, torn down and redone. There's no backwards compatibility, but that's not an issue for me. From what I've been reading, that's actually been a huge plus overall. Its a do-over, and opinions have been very positive even though its lost some of Windows Mobile 6.x's features like multitasking and cut-and-paste. Its not even shipping with Flash and Silverlight (which might be a plus for me considering streaming video would devour data).
Microsoft seems to be taking a middle approach to the one-size fits all iPhone and anything goes Android. There's a required minimum specification for hardware. Hopefully the updates for WP7 will be available between all carriers and all models - if Microsoft can't push that then they'll end up with the same problems as Android but without the advantages. The core experience can't really be messed with to much, but phone makers can still add things within limits (avoiding the crapware issue that many Windows PCs have out of the box).
On top of everything, it seems like they're trying to make good use of the internet, their Xbox Live stuff, Zune music service and more. As someone who is currently trying out Microsoft's Windows Live web services (email, calendar, photo hosting, Office online, etc), has a Zune (love the software, and my old 4g player is actually quite nice), have an Xbox Live/Games for Windows Live account, and generally prefer the Windows/PC market to the Mac market for personal use (I use Macs at work and have used OSX for a 7 years or so)? The integration between everything could be very nice for me.
There's a lot of potential here, but potential doesn't mean it'll be lived up to or even successful.
HP/Palm Pre WebOS 2
Speaking of potential with a relative lack of success!
Before Android caught my interest or Windows Phone 7 found my fancy, there was the Palm Pre. I'm a former Palm OS PDA user (had a Sony Clie years ago) so I have to admit to having a soft spot for Palm. I followed the development of the Pre for a while, and was rather excited about it. Even to the point of considering leaving AT&T for Sprint. Well, not seriously considering. As a big fan of competition I preferred the idea of the Pre eventually coming to AT&T (which it has), but still, I thought about it!
Needless to say the Pre didn't make as big a splash as Palm had hoped. A friend of mine helped keep me updated with some hardware issues, and their app store (while not a huge concern of mine) was not doing as well as analysts had hope despite it being more open than Apple's. Being exclusive to Sprint (they're, what, #3? #4? of the big carriers) was a huge mistake in my opinion. Generally speaking, the things that made the Pre nice seemed to get drowned out due to bad choices on the part of Palm's management.
Well, HP now owns Palm, the Pre, WebOS (what runs on the Pre), and is hopefully going to improve things all around. WebOS 2.0 recently got unveiled, although I'm not sure when its going to hit. Presumably new models of Pre will be coming out, and hopefully the old ones can get this update. I would like to see new models of Pre with a different body style, though. The Pixi is nice enough, but the actual Pre itself? I dislike the physical keyboard as it has a bit of a lip around it that I didn't find myself thrilled with. Likewise, I think I'd rather use keyboard that slides out horizontally (candy bar-style) than one that comes out vertically.
Am I seriously considering them? Not especially. I'm not seeing enough yet, but at the same time I'm not opposed to the idea. If nothing else, I just want to cheer them on.
When will I decide?
Not sure! But its still cool to watch things go by. I'm pretty certain whatever route I go I'll have to get a data plan, though! I want to be able to access email from wherever I'm at. Likewise, being able to email photos or post them to Facebook would be a nice plus, and not something I can do currently since I don't have a data plan.
But man, its great having options. Even if, right now, I'm emotionally favoring one company that could be considered a has-been at this point (Microsoft) and an underdog with an uncertain future (Palm).
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Got it at my friendly local Borders - $150 for the unit, and it came with a $20 gift card for Borders.com. The unit itself comes with 100 public domain books - started "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" last night.
The hardware seems nice enough. Light, comfortable. I don't think its going to be award winning or anything, but I'm reasonably pleased with it. Its a bit slow compared to what I'm used to (LCDs and multi-cored gigahertz processors), but I got used to it.
The control pad on the bottom goes to the previous page (left), next page (right), up a font size (up), down a font size (down) and brings up the menu (center click). Works nicely, although I do want to press down to go to the next page sometimes.
I've discovered that you can make it crash/hang-up if you hold the power button too long. Clicking it puts it to sleep, so (somehow) I've been trained to press and hold to turn off. That hasn't worked so well for me! Having to find a paper clip to stick in the tiny, not obvious, hole for the reset switch is annoying.
The desktop software is simple and easy to use. It seems to be a gussied up web-browser. Works well, however its very basic and the payment options from it are different from Borders.com, even though you're using the same account! At Borders.com I can use Borders bucks (or whatever) I've accrued and gift cards. Attempting to pay from the application only let me do credit card payments. Its a nice start, but I'd like to see it get a bit more feature rich (for example - I've not seen a "backup books" option, but it might be possible that you can redownload stuff too).
Sadly, not all books allow you to use the Borders bucks discount. Oh well. I've bought two books so far (Relationships 101 and How Successful People Think by John Maxwell - they're business/leadership titles), and would have bought a novel or two (Guild Wars: Ghosts of Ascalon and one of the Halo novels) except I couldn't use my discount stuffs (seems that some books aren't allowed to be discounted on the insistence of the publisher).
All in all, decent. Should I have gotten the Sony eReader instead? Not sure. I'm happy either way, though. Did some reading before bed, even! Would I recommend it over a Sony eReader? Depends on the person. Someone like me would be fine with the Kobo. I know at least one road-warrior who is far better served by the Sony eReaders (and she has one) because it opens more formats and does more stuff. Can't compare to a Kindle or Nook as I've never used those before, but those should be much better. The reason I went with Borders is because later on I'll be able to buy eBooks from the store, keeping some of the money local. I like my local Borders and its staff.
I do have to admit, though... since getting this I've gotten a lot more interested in how to make ePub books, and have gone looking for information, programs, etc. I'm learning! The prospect of converting books to ePub books for people has some appeal. Right now I'm attempting to convert an open game to ePub although the first program I'm trying it with is giving me issues (of course, its a free program, so I didn't expect too much). Time to move on to a new one :p
I get that figured out and then its figuring out how to get books submitted to Borders/Kobo (Kobo powers Border's eBook store), Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iBook store. Possibly Lulu, as well.
I'm liking it so far - been reading a chapter a night of one book and started Ten Thousand last night :)
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Its been educational thus far, though. The Point tracking via the little food diary has made me a bit more conscious of what I'm eating, that's for sure. Discovering a bit more about how my hunger works has been pretty helpful, and is helping me plan accordingly.
So, today, what am I having for lunch? Jack in the Box.
A Sourdough Chicken Club, hold the mayo, plus a small fries and diet Coke. A gruesome 17 points, or half my point allowance for the day. Yes, this is the same guy who was fretting over a Snickers bar having 7 points, which is more than a lunch from Subway.
But I'll tell you what - I've still got a LOT of points left for the rest of the day, especially if I eat sensibly the rest of the day. For a snack today I've got a personal size bag of low-fat popcorn (thank you Orville Redenbacher) plus some Mrs. Dash to go on it. Will very likely have a good amount of veggies with dinner tonight, not too much rice, etc. On top of that? Its been a while since I've had a fast food meal like that, so it actually tasted better than normal. Maybe because its more of a treat this go round instead of something ordinary. Maybe because I'm not used to the saltiness or the fat. Regardless of why, it was a very good sandwich.
And, well, I've been fighting something the past few days, so its nice to have something a bit more substantial than soup, saimin and liquids, you know?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Well, I've run into going over before. There are provisions for that, and honestly, the worst thing that happens is I dust myself off and get back on the program. Slowed progress is still progress. Last night, however, is the first time I've gone under my allowance, and I did so by about 1/7th of my total.
Not a big deal, right? Nope. At least not the way I did.
If I had eaten a lot of filling, zero to low point foods that'd be one thing. But I didn't. Where I missed things was dinner. I had a very small (less than 3 oz) portion of steak, half a tomato, kim chi and salad. I left okay-ish, but was hungry about an hour later.
Gaaah... I need something. So make a smoothie with a banana and a Glucerna chocolate shake, plus a serving of peanuts, and that more or less caps me for the night. I feel okay, even though I want more, and I'm under budget (so to speak). Everything should be fine, not a big deal, I'll be asleep and breakfast comes in the morning, right?
Well, come this morning I ate oatmeal with cinnamon (a filling food) for breakfast. The day is off to a reasonable start. Unfortunately, oatmeal has never done a particularly fantastic job of sticking with me. On top of that, I'm hungrier than normal on top of that. Get to work at 8 a.m., and by 9 a.m. I've already eaten my orange. 10 a.m. I've eaten my pistachios. I eat my sandwich for lunch at 11 a.m., and now I'm pretty much done with all the food I bought. I've got one "emergency" granola bar staring at me now and I'm reasonably sure it'll be gone by noon. The snacks at the office are looking pretty good, which is moderately scary since they're not the healthiest foodstuffs out there.
All because I under ate yesterday.
So, yeah, I'm learning. I've known for a while my appetite kicks in after lunch, during the afternoon. But this is pretty important too so I don't sabotage myself - I'm hoping I don't get double-whammy'ed this afternoon! So, keep snacks for the afternoon, and make sure I go to bed with a zero point balance and a satisfied stomach...
Monday, August 9, 2010
I've been looking at Android and the upcoming Windows Phone 7's, but feel like I haven't given Blackberry a fair shake just yet. Just doing my research :)
Been looking more at the smaller phones - want something that's a reasonable size (no Droid X for me) with a good camera. I've realized that having 1 billion apps isn't important - my wants and usages are actually fairly limited. Nothing major. If my Centro has taught me anything is that I'm fine without multitasking, although it would be nice. I'm seriously NOT power-using my cell phone - that's what I have computer for!
I pretty much want:
- a phone (heh)
- to be able to check my email (two accounts - Yahoo and Live/Hotmail)
- sync my calendar between Live/Hotmail and the phone
- "clouding" for all my contacts
- a good camera (3-5 megapixels) for photos, video optional
- decent web browser
- eReader and PDF viewing
Its an interest piece of de-cluttering. In exchange for less physical clutter I'm going to have one consolidated device. I gave up on my old camera because it was so large (wonderful, but large) - 95% of the time I really only need and use a cell phone camera. Small, spontaneous photos with friends and family, hobbies and food. I'd like to be able to check my email, calendar, and light browsing because some things aren't worth firing my desktop computer for. I'm tired of having tons of dead tree books, physically, so having a library of eBooks and PDFs appeals to me (especially if they're search-able). Borders' eBook store appeals to me as they aren't tying me to a specific device - very agnostic, very nice, and I love my local Borders (yay Kris and crew!).
If I get a Windows Phone 7, I might look at re-upping my Zune subscription. $15/month for all you can eat music, plus you keep $10 worth of music in MP3 format? Hmm... I've used the Zune software for a few years now, and own a 4g Zune - I'm very happy with the platform (former iTunes/iPod user here). Plus I tend to buy my music from Amazon, which sells MP3s anyhow, so I'm not tied to anything with my actual purchases (product loyalty? What's that?).
Friday, August 6, 2010
There are a fair number of truisms and clichés about getting back up after being knocked down and learning from one’s mistakes. I won’t bore you with them, but that is what has happened.
After doing things my way - at my own pace, and generally not having much success at it – I started up with Weight Watchers. Last week was my first weigh in, and I took home a bit of information for it. Now, anyone who has tried to break, change or start habits can tell you its hard, never mind doing two or even three of them at once. As such, I came back this week and actually gained a pound.
Thanks to the little food journal I got, I could see where I was having trouble plus figure out why. Seems a bit obvious, I suppose, but I wasn’t doing it before! After thinking about it, I remembered (or more to the point, made it a point to remember) that afternoons are trouble for me when it comes to food. That’s when I want to eat, to snack, to put my face in a trough of something tasty just to keep my mouth occupied.
So, after my embarrassing setback, I prepared both a breakfast (oatmeal) and packed some snacks for today last night. Knowing that I am not a morning person and simply accepting that I am not in the mood to cook, prepare or anything of that sort in the mornings is helpful. I want to get out of bed and out the door as quickly as possible, but have no desire to get up early to cook.
The oatmeal was simply a cup Coach’s Oats in a bowl with 1/3 c. reduced-fat milk and 2/3 c. water, sprinkled with cinnamon and left overnight in the fridge. This kept the “point” cost down, and throwing it in the microwave is a pretty brain-dead easy thing to do. It stuck with me reasonably well – not great, but not bad. I could, and probably will, doctor it up a bit next time with fruit or something – both for flavor and bulk.
The snacks were likewise simple. A 1/2 c. of pistachios (the salt-and-pepper ones from Costco) and a peeled orange. The pistachios are nice, convenient, and the shells slow me down when eating them. I think I need that lest I inhale them and miss the “I’m getting satisfied” signal from my stomach. The orange, on the other hand, is too messy and too much hassle to peel at work. I actually had that very same orange at work for two days before admitting I would not eat it like that and bringing it back home. Sad, I know.
Today I did a lot better, I think. I had a little snack (about half the pistachios) before lunch, helping keep my stomach calm. A quick trip to Subway got me a turkey breast sub on wheat, veggies, pepper jack cheese and mustard instead of mayo. Top it of with diet Coke (I’m slightly addicted) and a low-fat yogurt? Not bad! The rest of my snacks were eaten bit by bit from lunch on.
Getting home I was pretty hungry, so I know I really ought to have another snack packed along with me next go around. But, behaving myself, I made a quick salad. Took an 8” tortilla, put it on top of a bowl, sprayed it with PAM and stuck it in the oven on broil. About a cup of lettuce and three small peppers got cut up, then put into the tortilla “bowl” once I pulled it out of the oven. Topped it off with some salsa and it was a nice little meal.
Am I still hungry? After about an hour and a half, yes. But at the same time, I’ve got close to 1/3 of my “points” left, and I’m not so ravenous I’ll go out and devour anything and everything. I’m not sure how I’ll finish off the evening, but its nice to know I’ve got some room to work with, you know?
Next challenge: dealing with the weekend and having so many friends who cook a ton of great food. Courage… courage!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
For those of you who don't live here: on Maui things are set up so all the different parts of Maui County can vote for who represents all the different parts of Maui County. There's a bit more of a fuss going on about it, especially since what can happened is a person running can lose in the district they're running for, but still get elected to office. A good story on it can be found here at the Maui Weekly.
There was a commentary there that's a good, quick read read. A quick excerpt from it:
The current system overwhelmingly favors incumbents over challengers. It requires that the candidates run throughout the county on three separate islands to gain a connection with the voters in far flung corners of the county. The incumbents, by virtue of their office, already have those connections.
The difficulties facing Lāna‘i or Moloka‘i challengers running countywide are extreme—their chances of winning are just about nil. So those incumbents are rarely challenged. Invulnerable politicians are not a good thing in a democracy.
And as the South Maui and Lāna‘i examples showed in the last election, the winners of those resident seats actually lost in their districts. This is not uncommon in Maui County.
Anyhow... this was emailed to Mike Victorino who represents my home of Wailuku:
I really don't like the idea of other areas voting for who represents me. The folks living in Kihei, Upcountry, Lahaina, etc., shouldn't get to vote for who gets elected in Wailuku - they don't live here, they don't know what our concerns are, and they won't have to live with the decision since its not their home.
It makes as much sense to me as Oahu residents (note: different island and county altogether) voting for Maui County's mayor, you know?
Is there anything you can do to help ensure that Wailuku doesn't lose its voice to others?
So, yeah, feeling a little bit accomplished here, although I really should’ve done it sooner.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Come the middle of August I’m going to have almost a whole week off from work. Trick is I don’t know what I necessarily want to do.
I could stay home. I’ve got a bunch of projects that I’ve been wanting to finish up. Staying home is cheap, too. Well, unless I end up having to go to Lowes or someplace like that.
I could do a quick trip to ‘Oahu or the Big Island. That’ll get expensive quick, and I’ve got no idea what I’d do there anyhow. Well, visit friends, but since friends work for a living that might not be quite so convenient.
I could cancel the vacation and not worry about it, but then I’ll have my bosses breathing down my neck to use my vacation time before the end of the year.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
This is something I’ve been going back and forth with for a while now. Tonight I went to Borders to play Cashflow with my brother and some of our friends. While over there I picked a copy of Bill Phillips’ Transformation (was curious about it since he wrote Body for Life), and looked for the new Shonen Jump.
It occurred to me later on that there might be electronic versions of those – maybe at Amazon, maybe Borders.com or some other outlet. Would they cost the same? Maybe less? I’ve been doing this with my music increasingly over the years and I like it. Because of this, I know that there’s a couple big perks for me:
- No clutter. I’ve been thinning out my stuff and not having to worry about storing physical copies of things would be great. Having everything on my computer and making my computer my library is appealing, especially for magazines and other periodicals.
- Portability. With an eReader, be it on a cell phone, tablet/pad or computer I could take them anywhere I want pretty easily without putting anything at any real risk.
- Security. I can back up my digital media fairly easily. If I lose or damage a book, well, I’m out of luck.
- Free stuff. There’s a lot of legally, legitimately free things out there.
The idea of being able to have a practical library with me like that is highly appealing. Books, magazines, whatever. Heck, I’ve even got a few RPG’s that I bought in PDF format so having them like that would be great for reference. And since I can make PDF’s through various applications I’ve got, I know I can make notes and reference materials for myself that way too.
But, there’s also a problem, too. Okay, lets say I buy something digitally. None of that money stays here locally. Given Hawai’i’s economy I think that’s important. I’m not worried about the sales tax – its just that when I buy something online the company on the mainland keeps everything. None of that money sticks around here, helping with local jobs, helping the employees I know and love at my local Borders get paid.
Now, some things this matters more than other things. I do like stuff that doesn’t get carried here, so that’s really not a big deal. I’d have to order away anyhow, and honestly some stuff would never survive in retail anyhow. But things I can get here? It does bug me a bit. Now, one could go ahead and use the old cliche, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” which is an odd cliché when you think about it (its in my hand – why can’t I eat it?), but what gets me is it doesn’t have to be that way, you know?
I’m considering writing a letter to Borders later - something for higher up on the management chain than my local store manager. I would be very inclined to get an eReader from them (maybe a Kobo) if I knew that I could still support my local Borders.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I spent the afternoon with my friends Paul and Mandy today. Paul has a bunch of starter decks for the old Star Trek Collectable Card Game and one of them was out. I was curious, took a look, and since we had time he tried to teach me how to play. In the two games we played (myself, him and this guy Ben?) we saw a The Next Generation deck, a Romulan deck, a Klingon deck and a Deep Space 9 deck.
Its kind of interesting, actually. First off, unlike Magic, you're not trying to kill off the other players - you're trying to be the first to reach x-many points. Now, you want to slow down the other players, but your goal isn't to kill them! Not as I understand things, anyhow.
You get 5 mission/destination cards. 1 is your "home," the other 4 are places to go and do things (ie, they have missions and a point value for "mission accomplished"). You get 7-points to do things with. Drawing a card is one point per card, playing a card will depend on its value. You need a ship to get places, and a minimum amount of crew to run it. Once you've got a ship, crew and (you hope) enough crew to do a mission, you go to a mission/destination and try to do the mission.
A mission will usually have a list of required skills to do whatever it is; you might need people with skills in physics, science, geology, etc. There's usually a numerical total to beat, also, like your total crew needs to exceed 36 cunning or something (all characters/crewmembers have 3 attributes on their card for this).
Where other players come into play is they can try to throw dilemmas your way - things to slow you down or stop you. Its usually "have this or face the consequences." You can "stop" members from participating in the mission, so they can't accomplish their goal, or possibly even kill members. Usually the first condition is one that if you can meet you beat the dilemma, no problem. Generally, if you fail that, so you go to the second condition that if you meet it, you get a penalty of some sort. If you fail that, then there's final thing that's the worst possible outcome.
Dilemmas that are beaten by the player doing the mission are out of the game and can't be resused. Ones that aren't beaten return to the other player.
The challenge is to pick dilemmas that will neutralize the other player's ability to do the mission BUT you don't think they can beat. You want to be selective about the ones you pick for maximum effect, certainly. But you don't want to use so many that you run out, too (ie, wasted effort/overkil).
Its kind of neat, actually. Your crew is your biggest resource, so when the other player gets to choose which one is stopped is really ACK.
I'm debating maybe seeing if I can find some starter decks myself (the game is out of print, though), and keep them for some gaming later on. Of course, this has me curious about the Babylon 5 CCG, since that one was well thought of, could have multiple winners, etc. I thought it was rather fun, and would certainly play it again, opportunity permitting.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Most people have hobbies – things that they do, enjoy, and spend time on that isn’t work. I’m a gamer, so obviously one of mine is playing games. I enjoy getting together with friends, playing board games, card games, dice games, role-playing games, video games, etc. Its fun, social, and generally keeps me out of trouble.
One of the video games I enjoy playing is City of Heroes (COH for short). Long story short, its a super hero based online game. I’ve got a regular group of folks I play with (mostly night owls due to the time zone differences between me and the rest of the USA), and have been playing for almost five years now. Create a hero or villain and off you go, making the world a better, or worse, place.
Well, there’s a group that I’m involved with in COH called the Liberty Alliance. Its a role-playing light super group (encouraged, not mandatory), and has a bunch of nice folks scattered throughout North America and Europe. We even had the privilege having one lady in the armed forces join us from the Middle East for a while. It started about three years ago, and I’ve been a member about as long. One way or another, and I don’t quite recall how anymore, I ended up running it. So, yeah, its my super-group.
While we’re hardly an active bunch – I think a lot of World of Warcraft guild would look at us and call us slackers – we get along pretty well, enjoy each other’s company and really that’s about all I can really ask for. Recently, however, I’ve been trying to figure out ways we can do more, enable more, and generally have a better presence with our gaming community. So, two of my friends and I have been pondering things, coming up with ideas, and hopefully will get to implement them sooner than later. Its been interesting to say the least!
I realize that might sound odd if you’re not a gamer (and maybe even if you are), but games that have a social aspect to them, be it cooperative or competitive, do develop communities. As someone who used to be involved with the fighting game community in Northeast Georgia and South Carolina, I’ve gotten to know some great folks in my area plus those who traveled to attend tournaments. Thanks to tournaments and enthusiast-centric websites/forums, I got to meet, even play with, folks from New York, Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, Alabama, and more besides. Right now I, and my friend Aaron, are cheering for the Hawai’i players currently at this year’s Evolution tournament (an international tournament, no less!).
Oh, yes, I got involved with that community because of the internet facilitated me finding that community.
That’s one thing I’ve loved about the internet. It makes the world a bit smaller, but in a good way. It condenses distance allowing you to meet folks and interact with them in a way you couldn’t before. All together and sharing a mutual experience or dialog. And really, that’s why I love games. There’s something to be said about shared experiences such as sports or movies – passive entertainment that moves you. But honestly? I much prefer shared activities, online and off. The give and take. Watching personalities coming out during play, or the banter on the side. Seeing how people think, react, and seeing more of them as a result. Making the world smaller by making them bigger.
I love it! :D
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I love arcade-style racing games. Pick up and play, zoom around, and generally drive like a maniac without the speeding tickets or wrapping yourself around a tree. On top of that, I like things that are either free or cheap (if free is good then cheap is usually better).
I just got done playing in the open beta for EA’s Need For Speed World. It runs well on my computer, can be played with a USB control pad (I’m using a wired Xbox 360 pad), looks good, feels good and is just plain fun. What more can you ask for?
You pick a car to start off with and go from there. You can drive around the city looking for racing events, drive around exploring or start causing trouble with the cops. When you go racing in events, you can choose to do an open multiplayer with other people, start a private race just between you and friends or go single-player against 7 computer controlled cars. Some events are a sprint from point A to point B, others are doing laps.
What’s an interesting twist, and honestly makes the game more arcade-y, is that there are powers-ups you can use; things like Nitrous for a speed boost, a shield so things bumping into you don’t slow you down so much, making the lead car a “traffic magnet,” etc. Its not as abusive as, say, Mario Kart – there are no turtle shells to look out for – but its something that can give you an edge up (or let someone get by you).
The cop chases (Pursuit mode) are fun. Hit a cop car or stir up trouble and you’ll start getting chased by the fuzz. Keep it up long enough or cause enough problems in the meantime and you’ll start escalating from local cops to city cops to state cops. I’m not sure how far up it goes, but with the state level cops you’re being pursued by fast cop cars and get to deal with roadblocks and spike strips. It can be a real rush, especially if you give them the slip!
The cash shop wasn’t available in beta, but usually those things have convenience items – things to make the game easier, or trading money for time playing (ie, you don’t have to play and play and play to earn it in-game). Nothing game-breaking, and if you’re a lousy racer then spending a ton of cash isn’t going to help you any how.
I’m not sure when the game officially launches, but I’m really looking forward to it. If you see Chikahiro, that’ll be me :)
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Over the past few months I’ve been sort of settling into things. If anything, I guess its almost like I’m settling into this phase of my life…
I’m settling into a more mature, responsible way of handling my money compared to my twenties, thank you Dave Ramsey. I’m still not there yet, but I’ve got a plan, goals and know where everything goes now.
I’m starting to settle into my age and some of the expectations that go with it for appearance. I’ve already gone through two rounds of thinning out my wardrobe of clothes I had gotten in my twenties. Stuff that was less professional, stuff that I wouldn’t wear here in Hawai’i, stuff like that. At the same time I’ve already done one round of getting new clothes that are more appropriate for work and I think better reflect where I am in life.
Following that line of thought, I’ve been going through all the stuff I’ve picked up over the years. Old books, movies, VHS tapes, junk mail that I promised I’d sort later and more. Things are getting thrown away, shredded, donated or having new homes found for them. For a guy who was born a packrat in a family of packrats, I have to say I’m a bit proud of this.
On top of that I’m actually looking at, here and there, furniture. Trying to think of a consistent look for everything instead of, “well, my friend gave me this,” “I got that on sale,” etc. Form is becoming about as important as function when I consider what I want to buy. This is a pretty big leap for me!
So, yeah… its taken about five years, but I finally feel like I’m settling in. That I’m home instead of just living somewhere. It feels good!
Friday, June 18, 2010
A couple of years ago Shonen Jump, a monthly collection of Japanese manga (comics) began publishing in the US (end of 2002). I saw it at the Bi-Lo in Royston, Georgia, and picked it up immediately. It was kind of neat to see Jump in the US with all these comics I had seen as manga or as anime such as Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho when I was a kid. Made me a bit old, to tell you the truth!
“Listen dude, I know how this fight goes. This comic ended before you even got into high school!”Needless to say, picking up the new Jump became something of a ritual for me. Buy it at the store, sit in the parking lot to read the whole thing (or at least my favorites), and go home to pass it on to my roommate. I’ve been doing that pretty much ever since. What can I say? Its cheap entertainment! It was also very cool to finally be able to read the comics instead of looking at the pictures and trying to figure out what was going on. Of course, I found new favorites like One Piece, Naruto and Hikaru No Go.
Hikaru No Go (Hikaru’s Go) isn’t your typical shonen manga (comics for early to late teens). There’s no fighting, no martial arts, no violence, outlandish characters or anything of that sort. Rather, its about a middle-school student’s entering the world of Go, an Asian boardgame over two-thousand years old. It all starts with him going to his grandfather’s house and finding an antique Go board that is haunted by a ghost named Fujiwara no Sai. The boy is named Hikaru, hence the name of the manga.
Hikaru No Go is no longer in Shonen Jump, but rather is released every few months in a paperback book. Its something that I look forward to, and when its supposed to be out I can be found at Borders asking, “do you have it yet?” Its certainly come to be a real favorite of mine; the story is interesting and time progresses fast enough you can see the characters getting older and maturing. Its set in modern day Japan, which reminds me of places and people I would like to revisit one day. The art is wonderful, and the mood is balanced between the intensity of the Go players and the emotions of them as people.
More than that, one small thing I discovered is that my father’s father used to play Go. During the evening times he and some of the older men would play; my father and auntie remember this, although they have no idea what became of his board or stones. I never met him, or if I did I was too young to remember, but its a link to someone I never knew.
The next volume, number 19, comes out in August. The series ended in Japan a few years ago, and there are 23 volumes in total.
While its better that it end rather than continuing on past the point of interest, becoming just another “by the numbers” formula-driven comic, it is a little sad. There are many interesting characters with goals, ambitions and lives that I’ve grown attached to. But, until then, I can enjoy it while i lasts.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
In the past decade or so I’ve come to feel that the government gets involved with the needs of society, not because its the best option, but because of a failure of the citizens to tend to themselves. When there’s need in a community, a community is best served by trying to meet that need. No, it won’t always be up to the full scope of the task, but the first reaction should be, “what can we do” rather than “someone ought to do something.”
I’ve just started reading Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World.My brother is letting me borrow it and so far I’m about three chapters in. Its rather interesting to read about what the super-rich are doing these days, true, but its also giving a bit of history concerning philanthropy in general.
I think its coming at a good time in my life. Back in September I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course at a local church. One of the lessons is expressly about giving. I know for myself there’s always been a desire to give; there is no shortage of need or causes to be certain. Getting my own personal finances in order is a well needed step to be able to give the way I want to in the future. Not there yet (still paying off debt), but its good to have a goal.
If anything, though, Philanthrocapitalism is helping get me excited about the idea. When I’m done with it I want to read Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth. I’m hoping I’ll find other books on the matter as I read on! I don’t know if I’ll ever be one of the rich people of the world, nevermind one of the super-rich, but I do want to do my share of things.
When I was going to ʻĪao Intermediate School a teacher by the name of Mr. Takadi introduced me to the Apple IIe, and more importantly, a word processor. I don't recall much of it; the screen was black and white (or green and white, depending on the monitor), everything was on 5.25 floppies, and the program was called Bank Street Writer.
During recess I would go into the computer lab, putting in my floppy disc and would just write. About ideas I had, thoughts, things that happened during the day. Kid stuff, naturally. Now, these were my writings, so I put a little password lock onto the file. I don't recall anything being super-personal, but it was mine after all!
With that I stopped journaling.
Throughout the years I’ve written here and there, but with this I’m returning to regular journaling of sorts. A little more open than my old journal, of course.