The Weight Train

In my mind, I had some kind of vision of a cartoon-y train to use as a picture for this post, but alas, it was not meant to be.

For the past…I don’t know…30 days?  I’ve been holding steady with my weight.  I went up, but have come back down.  Currently I don’t know my status, because I don’t have a scale handy.  You see, I’m in the process of moving so things are all over the place.  One of those things is the scale.  Anyway, this is all related.  Oh, and a warning, this post is going to be more of a ramble than something I’ve actually thought and planned out.

Early on in the moving process we decided that we would pack away things like dishes, cooking utensils, give away some pots and pans, etc.  Essentially means that we are currently unable to actually cook anything at home.  As a result we are eating out a lot.  Being in a small town at the moment, our options are rather limited.  It’s a little stressful at times, too.  So since February something or other I haven’t even bothered logging anything other than my daily weight.

I’m trying to keep some rough estimates in my head for when I eat, so that I don’t over-indulge, but for the most part I’m not worrying about it.  Unfortunately this is probably going to have the side effect of setting me back even further than I’ve already done.  Still, I would rather take the trade-off of not worrying about my current food intake vs. reducing some stress around a big move.

I was doing some thinking and I want to set some different goals.   My weight used to be my primary goal, and was a measure of success.  I don’t think that’s cutting it, for me though.  There’s got to be a reason why I keep going back and forth with logging, not logging, juggling my calorie limits and “do I eat back calories or not?”, and so forth.  And I think that putting too much attention on my weight is one of the leading factors.

So my goal for the rest of the Spring and Summer is to set a new goal.  Haha.  I have to do some thinking, but I need to set a goal that is measurable and attainable.  I will still have a weight number in mind, but that’s secondary.  Some of the things I have kicking around in my head include going back down shirt / pant sizes, improving my softball game, and so on.  What I need is a solid plan instead of a loose ramble.

Work in progress.

Recent Podcasts

So my free webhost (DirectHosting) changed servers on the weekend and I neglected to make the changes to the domain name right way – which in turn meant that since Sunday some time this blog has been down.  Woops!  I hope you weren’t in dire need of an update (which there was none this week).  I was also on a whirlwind trip moving some things across the province so was a bit busy.

Anyway, I thought I’d mention some podcasts I’ve been listening to lately.  Something I haven’t done in a while.

  • 372 Pages We’ll Never Get Back – This started off as a podcast reviewing Ready Player One.  As a follow-up, the hosts (Mike J. Nelson and Conor Lastowka) decided to read Ernest Cline’s follow-up, Armada.  Unfortunately they aired their final episode covering Armada this past Friday.  I’m not sure what they’re going to do to follow up these books, if they are in fact doing anything.  Disclaimer: I enjoyed both RP1 and Armada, but I also enjoyed how Nelson and Lastowka ripped apart the books.
  • Radio Free Burrito – Wil Wheaton is back!  In episode 51 he talks about a crippling depression he faced in 2017 and how he’s gotten better.  I recommend listening to back episodes but hopefully the fact that he put out a new show is a sign indicating more new shows to come.
  • Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo – An investigative podcast from Connie Walker, and a follow-up to Missing and Murdered: Who Killed Alberta Williams?  All episodes are available to download, and it’s turning out to be an important podcast series rather than “just another true crime podcast”.
  • Incoming Game: A ReBoot ReWatch – With The Guardian Code (trailer) coming out in the US in March (and June, in Canada), ReBoot is suddenly relevant again.  Listening to this show prompted me to start my own rewatch.  The hosts are still getting their rhythm down but it’s entertaining.

Something I Will Probably Never Do Again

I was listening to a recent episode of the Raise the Bar podcast (iTunes) and one of the hosts was talking about their experience of doing stand-up comedy to open up for Don Burnstick.  Specifically he was relating how he felt it was “game time” once the spotlight shone in his eyes.  It got me thinking about one experience I had in high school – I think it would have been 15 years ago now.

I acted on stage in a one act play festival.  I honestly could not now remember what the name of the play was, but I do remember it was something about playing the father of the last fertile man on Earth (very Children of Men-ish).  Up until the point of when I decided to audition for a part, the only “acting” I had ever done would have been reading lines from a church Sunday School play, or performing speeches in elementary school.  I’d been on stage before playing music as part of a high school band – but never anything at this level.

I think I got involved because of the group of friends I surrounded myself with.  They were very much involved in the Drama department, and I think I was close to getting involved with one of the big productions in the school but backed out.  The One Act Play festival was much smaller and felt a little more approachable.

The audition process was probably the most difficult part for me.  I had to first find a monologue to deliver – something I’d never done – and then memorize it.  There were some minor lines or references in the monologue that apparently I could have had an audience member perform but I didn’t find that out until after.  I think it went alright though.  But it was hard also because I could see everyone in front of me and I knew every single one of them.  And I was being watched.  It was a bit nerve-wracking.

By contrast acting in the play was a lot easier.  Similar to the Raise the Bar host who experienced the “game on” feeling of having the spotlight shone on them, the bright lights on the stage blacked out the audience.  If I entered the stage before seeing the cafetorium (our school’s cafeteria doubled as an auditorium), I’d never know anyone was there.  But I also knew my lines, we all rehearsed everything and knew what to do.

I can definitely relate to those stage lights increasing that feeling of confidence.  I can’t remember the moments leading up to being on stage, but I’m pretty sure I was a little bit nervous.  I think I missed a line on one of the nights.  But I felt really good about the whole process.  It was a different feeling than playing in band – on those performances, everyone makes up one whole.  Acting in a play, everybody got a chance to get audience focus.

I don’t think I saw any reviews.  I have no idea how good or bad I might have been.  But it was an experience I probably will never have again.  I say “probably” because you never know – maybe one day I might find myself on a stage.  You can’t rule everything out.

But I’m glad to have had the experience, however short it was.

2018 Reading Update

About a month ago I presented my reading list for 2018.  I figure since the first two months of 2018 have come and gone, it’s time I provide an update of where I am.

Well…I’m not doing so well.  I’m 67% of the way through “From A Certain Point of View” (short story collection based on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).  I’ve been putting most of my time into listening to podcasts and catching up on movies (re-watching in some cases…thank you Star Wars BluRay set!) and TV shows.

I’ve got a big move coming up, so will likely be packing away many of the books on my 2018 list.  So my new, updated goal right now is to finish “From A Certain Point of View” and get started on “A History of the World in 12 Maps”.  I likely won’t get much further than that until the Summer.

I would like to have finished at least 4 books on my list by July.  We’ll see how it goes!  In the meantime – what are you reading that I can add to my never-ending list?

Restart

Flat restart iconEvery now and then I feel like I need to stop and take a break from constant food logging.  Usually it’s for a short period – a week, maybe a few days – and then I get back on track, and I either maintain my weight or gain 1 or two pounds.

Unfortunately I recently took an extended break from food logging.  My last full entry seems to be Friday February 9th – and even then, I’m not sure that it’s really complete.  It looks like the 8th was really the last complete day.  Since then I’ve maybe added one or two things, but for all intents & purposes, I’ve basically taken an entire month off.  And now I’m here to tell you that there are consequences:

On February 8th I weighed 262.3 pounds; as I write this (Monday March 5) my weight is 269.4 pounds.  An increase of 7.1 pounds.  I may not have done any tracking, but I know that not doing so allowed me to be irresponsible with my eating.  I worked from home a lot in that time period, and didn’t think twice about getting up and grabbing a snack.  I almost sank back into this behaviour this morning, in fact; I was about to grab some chips and poured them into a bowl without measuring the portion size.  I stopped and remembered that I should be logging everything and promptly measured out 50g.

What I realized in the process though is that when I’m not logging for an extended period of time, I’m a bit careless.  I don’t think too much about what I’m eating.  When I’m not logging for a day or two, I usually still measure things out and stick with proper portion sizes.  When left unchecked, I get lazy.

This past weekend I picked up a Samsung Gear S3 (Frontier edition, if you were that curious).  I already had the fitness aspects covered off with the FitBit Charge 2, but now I’ve added some productivity options as well.  I think the fitness features are just as robust an option as FitBit’s, just “different”.  Apparently connecting MyFitnessPal to my Gear S3 also gave me a year’s premium membership, for free.  So, I’m using this as a kicking-off point to restart my fitness journey.

I reset my goals in MyFitnessPal, to show losing 1 pound per week to start.  According to the new settings, I should lose 5 pounds by April 2nd.    As I go through this process I’m going to take notes on how the premium version of MFP works too, and probably will review that.  I have no idea if it’s something I need personally, but you never know.

Wish me luck!

Stealth update: Already down to 268.3.  I’m always amazed how quickly I can bounce back when I get back to proper logging.

Mini Podcast Review: Double Consciousness

Originally posted on Alternative Airwaves

It's been far too long since I've posted anything - will be honest, I've been devoting attention to my personal blog and have been neglecting this one; partially the reason behind that is because I'm not as comfortable writing about music (strange as that seems) as other topics.

I promised in my last podcast and a few tweets that I would review the new podcast from Toussaint Morrison called Double Consciousness.

I will be up front - this podcast is not for me.  I thought that because I love what Toussaint brings to the table musically, that adding his podcast to my subscription list would be fun.  I appreciate the content and discussion topics that he and podcast partner Joetta talk about, but I found the episodes to be a bit too long for my personal preference.

That said, this isn't a podcast I would completely abandon.  I think that they have the makings of a great show, discussing important topics (and some not-so-important topics sometimes) from their perspective.  And to clarify, they're talking about issues from a black person's perspective, which is still relevant today despite any social progression we've made around the world. 

I think one of the other reasons the podcast doesn't resonate with me fully is that I am a white male so it goes without saying that I can't fully relate to their discussions. 

However I still recommend giving it a listen and see if it's up your alley.  It's available on iTunes and most other podcast platforms.

My Current Phone Set up at Work

A word of warning: this post is very Android-heavy, and not likely very relevant if you’re using basically any other smart phone.  Turn away now if you’re in the wrong ecosystem!  (Or, keep reading if you’re interested in some of the cool things you can set up with Android to stay productive.)

I’m always trying to find a way to stay productive while still keeping on top of the personal demands on my phone.  My phone is primarily a personal device, and strictly speaking, is not necessary for my job.  However, I use it constantly to keep in touch with my wife through messaging (we use Allo; I also use text messages for just about everyone else).  Other things that come through include email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  I keep my phone on silent, but I don’t want to miss anything that might be an important notification.  So, I came up with a pretty good solution.  At least it’s good for me.

The other purpose for this set up is to help stretch my battery life a little bit.  The less that I activate my screen, the longer the battery lasts.

The Basic Setup

Phone: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Android version: 7.0 (Nougat)
Root? Nope!
Other apps in use:

You can probably accomplish this set up with any Android device – it doesn’t have to be a Samsung product, and I think you’re probably fine running Android 4.4+ (KitKat and above), but I can only “guarantee” functionality based on what I’ve got going on here.  To replicate exactly what I’ve done, you’ll definitely need Tasker.  As Tasker is a great program for automation in general, I think it’s a great app to buy anyway.

Right off the bat, I would recommend reading my article about using the FitBit Charge 2 as a Smart Watch.  At the end of the day, the functionality here can be duplicated with any smart watch or any device that accepts notifications.  Form isn’t as important here as function.  The end result is that I have certain notifications sending to my phone – specifically, text messages, Allo messages, FaceBook Messenger messages, and phone calls.  There might be a few other things I’m forgetting but those are the important ones.

Most of the time I will use my device to respond to the instant messages; however there are web-based solutions for everything here.  Allo has a web interface (it mirrors what’s on your phone and has some limitations); you can go to Facebook in a browser to access messenger; and using Join you can send & receive messages through your browser (more on Join in a bit).  Basically if I need to I can leave my device off for everything except phone calls.  Oh – but I could forward my calls to my work number if I wanted to do that.  That’s a basic service provider option that most people probably have too.

Join

Join is a fantastic app.  If you’ve ever heard of Pushbullet, Join is in a similar category – except that it’s free.  The short version of what you can do with it is send browser tabs to / from connected devices, send notifications between devices, send files between devices, copy/paste text between devices, and so on.  You can read more about it here: https://joaoapps.com/join/ 

I use it primarily now to send notifications to my work laptop while I’m at work.  I haven’t figured out entirely how I want to automate it when I work at home, but for when I’m in the office, I have Tasker activate sending notifications to my work laptop as soon as I connect to wifi.  Join is a stand-alone app developed with Tasker plugins in mind, so it works really easily with Tasker as a plugin.  If you want to learn more, leave a comment…I don’t want to get too technical.

I picked a few apps within the Join app that I want notifications from, including Inbox (my gmail app) and Twitter.  These notifications pop up in the bottom corner of my computer whether or not I have a browser window open.  Join is available as both a Chrome plugin and a Windows 10 app; the plugin is free, but you have to pay for the app.  I just use the plugin.  When you click on the notification, you have a few options – you can dismiss it from the device (and if there are any buttons on the notification on your phone, they’ll appear on desktop too) or open it in a new browser window.  The great thing is that if it’s an email notification, it’ll bring you to your inbox; similarly if it’s Twitter or Facebook it’ll bring you to those sites too.

I could go on and on – I highly recommend watching the videos on the Join website to see all the things you can do with it.  But already we have several ways of handling phone notifications without having to turn the screen on and waste precious battery life.

The primary purpose of this isn’t really to avoid using my phone, it’s mostly because as I said I keep my phone on silent.  I may not always be staring at my screen and see I have a new notification.  So, this is a really helpful way to make sure I don’t miss anything.

Tasker

I alluded to using Tasker to automate when I send notifications through Join.  I also turn my “Always On Display” off when I’m connected to work wifi.  So now my screen is entirely disabled while I’m at work.  I should point out that I use several plugins with Tasker, which I pay for through a monthly subscription.  Check out the AutoApps suite (which you can try out for free) – there are lots of cool things to do here.

To accomplish controlling the Always On Display, I use AutoTools – Secure Settings.  To use this you need to enable ADB access.  It’s not too complicated to set this up, but there are some steps involved – you should read it in a better, step-by-step format.

That’s pretty much it.  I find this setup extremely useful so far, and battery life is great.  I’ve been using “AccuBattery” lately and it recommends charging phones only to 80% (based on scientific studies) to extend the battery’s overall life.  Any battery saving tips of your own?