Slow Reader #6: Gone, Chapters 20-32

Finally got this one out. I thought it was going to be a long one, but it’s around the 10 minute mark. Pretty happy with that! Expect two more episodes.

After a lengthy delay, a 12-chapter update for Gone, chapters 20-32. Things are really heating up, and if this were a movie we’d be pretty close to the third act by now. There are going to be two more episodes for Gone, before moving on to the next book. Enjoy!

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/stephen_g

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2474979-stephen-gower

Blog: https://www.noformatblog.ca

No Podcast Today

Photo copyright Robert Lamb.
Source: https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5364653

I’m travelling back home on the train while I write this; I’m sorry to disappoint anyone who was waiting for it (hey…there are at least 60 listens! That’s not nothing.), but I don’t have a podcast to release today. Normally by my schedule it would be out early Thursday morning.

I finished my notes of the chapters I read – actually, I decided to stop short of a few chapters, because it was just getting really long in the tooth. I’ve lamented before that my episodes are so short, but I’ve gotten used to the idea of little 8-10 minute chunks. I can’t say for sure how long it will take me to record this upcoming episode, but it really felt long. So I added one more episode to cover “Gone” to my list of episodes, which is fine by me.

I’m not entirely sure if the format I’m using is going to stick. I’m still only 5 or 6 episodes in, so I feel a bit of freedom when it comes to finding my footing for a format to use. I think that is pretty normal for most podcasts. However, most podcasts also don’t have a single host.

I really wanted to avoid missing a week (let alone 2 in a row now) while starting out fresh. However, just due to timing, that’s the way it worked out. But I have a plan written out (slightly modified now that I’ve decided to add an extra episode for Gone), so I will probably take some time off work shortly to get a few episodes ahead.

So I hope I haven’t lost all of the listeners I accumulated so far, and that you’re eager to hear what’s in store for the kids in Gone. I made a conscious choice not to get something released last night; I could have done the work from my hotel room last night, but I chose to relax instead. I don’t regret that decision.

Spreadsheets and Weight Loss

This is going to be really out of date by the time I actually post this, but I really couldn’t wait. My weight loss has stalled of late, and the biggest reason is my lack of discipline in logging. Not surprised there. I’ve been trying and trying to re-focus and get going on this week after week, but I keep dropping the ball.

Weight Loss Spreadsheet
Weight Loss Spreadsheet – The Basics

So today (editor’s note – April 25th), I drew up a new spreadsheet. It’s basic, so I’m hoping that will help me keep motivated to fill it out – and properly, at that. This means that I need to have mostly accurate data from MyFitnessPal to get any use from the numbers.

I hope to see some great numbers at the end of the month.

What I hope to get out of this exercise is to see if my logging is accurate. My goal is to lose 1.5 pounds / week, which means I need to have a calorie deficit of 750 per day (based on 500 calories per day = 1 pound of fat). If I’m logging correctly – and my smart watch is giving me accurate results – I should see it accurately reflected in the final totals at the bottom.

The reason I’m tracking MyFitnessPal (“MFP”) totals vs regular totals is because the numbers for MFP are slightly different than when I use a TDEE calculator. The difference is only 100 calories or so, but this is becoming my “control” month to see whether or not I should stick closer to my TDEE or if MFP is close enough. When I get to the end of May I’ll have a look at the results and make some decisions.

Other notes about the spreadsheet – I need to make sure to re-adjust the BMR & TDEE numbers every 10 pounds. I don’t anticipate that happening this month, as long as I stick to 1.5 pounds per week. As I intend to keep this spreadsheet going, however, it’s a good reminder to keep in the back of my head.

The waiting game starts.

Slow Reader Episode 5 – Gone – Chapters 13-19

I changed things up a little bit. I discovered that taking detailed notes every time I read a chapter is not my optimal reading method, so I went back to how I normally read books and took notes AFTER. I like the result this week.


I doubled my reading output and read 6 chapters over 2 weeks. Covering off chapters 13 through 19 in this episode, things have escalated very quickly in Perdido Beach.

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/stephen_g

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2474979-stephen-gower

Thoughts on Luminary

No one has really asked me about my thoughts on Luminary, but as I have a lot of opinions about podcasts, I thought it worth sharing some observations about the latest podcast platform.

If you haven’t heard of Luminary, it’s a new podcast platform. Most of the same podcasts available on any other platform are there for free, but if you pay $8/month you get access to exclusive content available only on Luminary. It’s not too different from Stitcher, although there are some slight differences in the platforms that I won’t get into right now.

It just launched this week, though it made a splash a few months back when it purported to be “the Netflix of podcasts”. It’s received a lot of backlash, most notably for its ad campaign (“podcasts don’t need ads!”), and for taking some popular shows away from the realm of free downloads.

The backlash is simple: people don’t think that you should pay for podcasts – at least not in this form. I agree with that notion. The other part of the response to Luminary is that it is pulling podcasts that were previously freely available to their platform, and will only be available to Luminary subscribers.

I don’t begrudge the podcast producers at all for taking the money from Luminary. It can be expensive to produce a podcast, and having guaranteed funding (for however long that is) gives you the freedom to create better content.

I mentioned that their platform seemed to follow Stitcher’s model, with some differences. Namely, Stitcher requires you to submit your podcast to their database. They have a premium tier ($4.99 monthly, or $2.92 / month for their “premium annual” plan) as well, which gives you access to exclusive shows; but I believe these premium shows also become publicly available after a short period of time. For example, Wolverine: The Long Night was a Stitcher exclusive for several months before becoming available to everyone else in the Fall of 2018.

I personally prefer this model of offering premium content. I also like the way Spotify handles it – everything is available on their platform (music and podcasts alike) – but you get ads if you don’t subscribe to the premium level.

With all of that said, I admit I’ve changed my stance on Luminary since I first heard about it. I think that they need to make some changes to their platform, though; they are not a revolutionary solution to a problem or making podcasts more convenient, so they need to drop their “Netflix of podcasts” attitude. I think they should also follow Stitcher’s premium window model – make the shows freely available after 4-6 months. Heck – make it a year if you want to try to be competitive.

A lot of people have the opinion that Luminary is going to fail. I don’t think it will fall flat on its face, but I do think they will suffer a little. Hopefully for them (and the shows they are paying for), they decide to make adjustments rather than be prideful and end before they even get started.

Further reading:

The Slow Reader – Episode 4 Gone, Chapters 10-12

Returning to Gone (Michael Grant) this week with chapters 10-12. There’s a lot of new information learned in these 3 chapters. Also, this is really a slow-read. Also in this episode: re-reading Dune alongside the Dune Subreddit.

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/stephen_g

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2474979-stephen-gower

Blog: https://www.noformatblog.ca

Listen on Google Play Music 

2019 1st Quarter Check-In

It’s been a while now since I’ve had a meaningful health update on my blog – lately it’s been a lot of stuff of a promotional nature (podcasts, mainly). I haven’t really written anything of “substance” in a bit. This won’t change that, but at least will change up the routine a little.

Physical Health

I can’t remember right now when my most recent weight update was, but luckily all of the digital entries I have at my disposal are helpful in this regard. I closed out 2018 at 274.0. Today (as I write this, “today” is a Tuesday) I weigh 271.8, with Happy Scale telling me my moving average is 271.4. So let’s call it 271. Down 3 pounds in 3 months; not terrible but not where I’d like to be either.

I’ve been up and down when it comes to properly logging food in MyFitnessPal. Some days I lack the discipline to stick with it (I get lazy, or I am purposefully ignoring the fact that I know I’m over-budget). What has been happening lately is that I am solid with logging for a few days, and then fall off the wagon.

I haven’t figured out a solution to this yet – the best solution is that I just log consistently, every day. However this doesn’t work for me mentally. Something I need to brainstorm.

Mental Wellbeing

This is one category I’m happy with. It’s not perfect, but I’m definitely doing better than the physical side of things.

Reading – I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve finished 2 books in the first 3 months of the year, and am making good progress on 2 others at the same time (“Dune”, and “Gone”). I’ve rolled my reading into a new podcast too, and while that’s not taking off very fast, I’m having a good time with it.

Writing – Yeah, haven’t done a ton with writing. I was going to work on a fiction project as my “project” for 2019, but instead of moved to creating a new podcast. I have some stretch writing goals for my blogs, and this I guess is part of it.

Other parts of mental health – Recently my workplace’s health team shared an article about fostering mindfulness – I gave it a quick skim but I saved it for later. I think I’m going to go back to it. Not something I usually think about but sometimes it feels like something I need.

Overall, I’d say I’m doing pretty well. I feel like I had some more things to say but I had to take a break from writing and came back to this the next day, so that’s that. I will try to get some more things written in the near future. I have a couple of gadget reviews that will be fairly easy to write.

The Slow Reader – Episode 3

Here we go again – two weeks later. I didn’t implement any of the changes I wanted to from the last one, but I took some notes as I was listening back to this before releasing. I haven’t actually done much reading on the book covered here since I recorded this episode, but I’ve got some plans to make the next episode better. Hope you like it!

This episode starts off my coverage of Gone by Michael Grant. I read chapters 1-9 (17% of the book). Pick up your copy of Gone from the Library or at Amazon.