Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project Tree: Day 10

Still sick

Fudge me.  I didn't sleep well last night and I woke up with a hacking cough.  The good news is I'm able to hack up a lot of mucus which is usually the sign my cough is almost over.  I've got a sinus headache as well so I hit the pharmacy this morning and got day time cough syrup, night time cough syrup, zinc spray and cough drops.  I should be fully strapped.

I thought I was rallying yesterday afternoon, but I haven't worked all this crap out of my system yet.  Son of a gun.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Project Tree: Day 9


Damn.  I don't get sick often, but when I do, it usually lays me low.  I felt some funk coming on this weekend which turned into a froggy throat yesterday which turned into a cold overnight.  The good news is I can work from home without too much trouble or loss in efficiency, but the bad news is my throat hurts.  I just drank some TheraFlu and I can feel the medicine threatening to pull me under.  However, if I sleep all day, I'll be up all night and my goal is to rejoin society tomorrow.

I wonder if my cold is because of the recent temperature swings or because people at work have been coughing and sneezing.  I guess, when you work with a lot of people with kids, you're bound to be exposed to more funk.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend recap

This weekend wasn't really exciting.  I did all my errands and made some food for the week, but nothing of note happened.

I did make some gluten-free cookies from a recipe online, but they didn't quite turn out as imagined.

They didn't really flatten out into a normal cookie shape and they weren't as good as imagined.  A lot of gluten-free/Paleo recipes call for honey instead of sugar as if honey is somehow more natural or better for you.  Uh... they're both going to spike the heck out of your blood sugar so why not use the one that's easier to work with?

I finished a couple of books so I can finally mail them back to my cousin in DC.  I don't think he anticipated that it would take me four months to finish two books on WWII.

Project Tree: Day 7

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Project Tree: Day 6

The snow has since melted.

Fitness update

Time for my monthly fitness update.  I think I've been making good progress with my strength training, but my Super Bowl party set me back quite a bit from the diet side.  Not only did I eat a bunch of crap then, but I had a bunch of crap leftovers which took me a couple of weeks to plow through.  I think it was worth it, but now I've got to work it off if I want to get closer to my goal of being ripped.

Heh.  The local minima is the Saturday before the Super Bowl so you can see the uptick after.  The good news is that I'm still generally trending downward and that my spare tire did not inflate any.

It took me a few shots to get myself in the mirror with my new camera without the flash popping off.  Anyhow, as you can see, there is still a fair amount of chunk around the middle, but I'm getting nice definition in the shoulders and my triceps are starting to hulk out.  The moobs have pretty much gone away as well.

For comparison, here is a shot of me from a year ago:
I had ten more pounds of fat at this point (plus an awesome fu manchu).  I think there is a little less definition in the shoulders and that I look heavier overall, but perhaps that's just wishful thinking.

Anyhow, I'm still fully committed to getting into shape and wherever I end up, is where I'll be.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday ramblings

This week I started sleeping in the middle of my bed for the first time in something like ten years.  Before I would always just sleep on the left side unless I was in my old twin bed that I had growing up.  I guess that side of my current latex mattress squeaks a bit (well, the wood underneath does) and I toss and turn a lot so I decided to sleep in the middle.  It should help flatten the mattress out as well though I find myself falling into the body groove I've made.  I'm not sure why I got a king-sized bed other than it wasn't too much more than a queen-sized one and there is plenty of room in my bedroom.

I think I'm going to have some good numbers tomorrow because I've mostly avoided wheat and sugar this week.  I've kept up with my strength training and it's working.  I feel a lot leaner and I could probably do twice as many pullups now as I could four weeks ago.  Sweet.  I'll try to take a shirtless photo tomorrow to prove the progress, but it can be difficult taking a self-portrait with just one hand.

Not much else has been going on lately.  I've been busy at work and got my spotlight award today along with two patent awards.  It's always nice to get extra cash, but I had already spent the money on my new camera, a bean bag chair for my great room and some other stuff.  I left my Stressless chair in the basement/man cave because it's a lot of work to move up and it provides more seating down there.  It leaves nothing for upstairs though since my housemate took her couch with her.  There are kitchen chairs, but they're really damn uncomfortable.  I could get my own couch, but I don't feel like spending the money to crowd my house.  I'll try out the bean bag chair and see how it goes.  If I like it and I get a bonus, I can get another one.  I have no idea when they shipped it though.  I'm used to Amazon Prime gettin' me stuff in two days or less so it's hard for me to wait for other stuff.  Amazon has cut way back on the number of products which are Prime-eligible which sucks, but is understandable since they need to make money.  As a stock holder, I definitely approve of them making money.  Prime is still a good deal, but I'm sure it'll cease to be one in the next few years.  I'm not going to worry about it now.

It snowed here this morning, but it didn't last long.  It's been a strange winter, but I'm not complaining too much because I've saved money on heating and time on shoveling out the driveway.  I hope to have a bad ass 4x4 mobile before next winter so I'll just drive over whatever's in the way.  Those who know me well know I don't like to be confined so a bad ass 4x4 fits me because it allows me to go where I want.  My managers at work are slowly learning that I don't like to be micromanaged either.  Well, no one likes it, but I'm sure some can tolerate it better than me.

I wish the food cart craze would make it to the Albany area, but I feel like this place is the last to get anything.  People around here are pretty stoked that a Trader Joe's and a Costco will be here this fall.  Uh...yeah.  Fun times.

Sweet.  I just checked my Netflix queue and Game of Thrones will be released on Bluray in early March.  I moved it to the top of my queue to try to get in line for some of the early copies, but I'm sure I'll need to wait a while for it to show up.  I liked the books and heard HBO did a kick ass job with the series.  It'll be interesting to see if the characters look anything like they do in my imagination.  I thought the last book was a bit rushed even though he took something like five years to finish it, but it was still pretty good.  I think he needs to wrap up some storylines quickly though or it'll turn into the Wheel of Time which has dragged a bit.

Project Tree: Day 5


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Project Tree: Day 3

Fitness challenge update

Yesterday morning I was able to do 200 consecutive calf raises holding an 8lb medicine ball.  It wasn't one of my main challenges (pullups, pushups and squats), but it's better than nothing.

I'll do a new calf raise challenge on an anti-fatigue mat holding 10lb kettlebells in each hand.  I'm not sure how much tougher it'll be, but I'll find out tomorrow.

My progress in the other fitness challenges is going slowly.  I can now easily do four pullups, but my pushups and bodyweight dips are laggin' a bit.

Bowling update

I started off well tonight with a 151, then dropped down to a 129 and then finished up with a 120.  I could tell my hand and arm were getting tired by the last game, but I still had a nightly average of 133 which brings my seasonal average pretty darn close to 126.

I missed some easy pickups, but also got some cwappy strikes and spares so it all works out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project Tree: Day 2

My uncle recommended I get a cheap UV filter to protect the glass of the lens.  I put it on the lens for this morning's shot, but I don't see much of a difference.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Project Tree: Day 1

I decided I would practice my photography skills by taking a picture of my red bud forest pansy every day that I'm in town.

Here is the inaugural shot:
You'll also see how my Charlie Brown hemlock is doing along with the plum tree.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I was fairly productive this weekend.

I didn't really do anything social this weekend, but I was able to get a lot of errands and chores done.  I made a pot roast Saturday night that turned out well and cooked some chicken thighs in the slow cooker for tonight's dinner so I'm now fully strapped with gluten-free food for the week.

I did my workout Saturday morning which went ok except I'm not where I should be with the body weight dips.  The program assumes you're doing them with a chair or a bench, but I'm using a dip station which means I'm lifting my whole body rather than some smaller fraction.  I'll keep at it, but I'm not sure 150 is a reasonable goal.

I re-assembled my guest bed so I'm now ready for... guests.  I set my new camera to fully auto and took what seems to be a much better picture:
It's hard to tell the quality since Blogspot only takes compressed image formats.  In any case, it's actually in focus, unlike my previous attempt.  Heh.

I also watched the entire Knicks-Mavs game this afternoon so I got my first taste of Linsanity.  I usually root against NYC teams on principle, but I found myself rooting for the Knicks.  He has quickness, a good shot and excellent court vision, but he dribbles too much and has trouble driving to his left.  When he gets trapped, he puts his head down which makes it hard to pass out which explains a couple of his many turnovers.  I think his turnovers will go down as he becomes more comfortable, but he's keeping both teams in the game at this point.  It'll be interesting to see what happens when Anthony comes back since he's a Grade A ball-hog.

I sat down at my computer to plan out how to spend all the bonus, refund and award money coming away.  Of course, I already spent one patent award's worth on my new camera, but I've got another one plus a spotlight award.  As soon as my Sharebuilder 1099 comes in, I can file my taxes and then I'll get a big ol' pile of scratch.  I think I can save up the majority of it for a down payment on a bad ass Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon this fall, but we'll see.  Something unexpected may break down between now and then.  I hope to get a bonus in April, but those aren't guaranteed so I shouldn't plan on it.

I'm scaling back my vacation plans this year to save some money and to save some vacation days to go to Australia in about a year.  I was planning on a southern-central road trip around Memorial Day, but it doesn't seem to make as much sense now.  I guess I'll see if I get that bonus since it could fund a long weekend trip to NO and Austin.  I usually try to get away on the holidays so it would be a shame to spend Memorial Day here.  I wouldn't mind going somewhere warm either.

I wasn't completely gluten-free this weekend, but I had much less than during the week so I'm easing into the detoxification which is probably the best way to do it.  It might explain why I had more energy this weekend as well.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


After dinner tonight, I watched the complete first season of Portlandia.  Many of you know I was born and bred in Portland, but I haven't lived there since I graduated high school a long ass time ago.  The show was ok, but it didn't really seem like the Portland I know.  I've gone back at least twice every year and it has definitely changed, but nothing in the show seemed real.

Anyhow, I guess it's different for people who live there full time.

Testing out my new toy

I'm getting two patent awards at work so I used one to buy a DSLR camera to fulfill one of my challenge items.  On the advice of some friends and family, I bought a Canon Rebel EOS T3 and it came yesterday.  I got the battery all charged up and everything squared away so I could take my first picture this morning.  I used the full auto mode with manual focus.  As you can see below, I still have a lot to learn.

Yes, I took a picture of some dead mice - I killed them over the past few days with my RatZapper and dumped them in my yard.  Anyhow, the main problem is the image is way out of focus.  I'm not too happy with the stock lens because it feels cheap and the focus ring isn't that convenient.  I guess I should see how it works with everything in auto mode.  It also captured the file as a JPG instead of a raw image so I'll need to change that setting too.

The good news is practicing picture taking is free and there are lots of things to photograph.  Spring is on its way and birds have already started to fly around my front yard.  Also a colleague's wife has a similar camera and took photography lessons from a sort-of-local photographer for only $25/hour.  I can definitely afford that price and my colleague said his wife learned quite a bit about how to use her camera.  I'm going to wait until it warms up a bit more so I can take pictures of stuff outside, but I'm definitely going to do it.

In the meantime, I'll poke around on the internet for nicer lenses.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Too much gluten

I can tell I've had too much gluten lately because I've been sluggish, I've had trouble sleeping and I've been lazy.  I didn't do my strength workout this morning because I couldn't get my sorry ass out of bed.  I was able to hustle as usual at basketball tonight which is good because I can't do much else.  Heh.  Well, I was able to blow a couple of easy layups, but I think I had some good rebounds towards the end.  Even though I'm older than most people there, I don't get as tired as quickly.  I do get picked last every time, but it's ok since I still get to play.

I can only imagine how much better shape I'd be in if I didn't give in to temptation.  Fortunately, I've almost polished off all the leftover Super Bowl food so I should be able to get back on track starting next week.

My own experiences have also proven to me that Wheat Belly is correct and that a Paleo diet is the way to go. Fortunately, more and more people are seeing the light so there are a lot more resources and it's a lot easier to eat gluten-free.  Restaurants are now starting to indicate gluten-free dishes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bowling update

I was in a better mood tonight, but my form was just ok.  I bowled a 119, a 128 and then a 141 for a nightly average of 129.  My seasonal average is still right around 125.  I threw some good balls, but missed the head pin most of the night.

We scored three out of four points tonight so I'm not going to complain.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pissed off

Maybe it's the gluten talking, but I'm in a really foul mood this morning.  I know I chose to move out to the Albany area for my job, but it's killing me since I'm having a really tough time meeting people.  There are lots of cool women down closer to the City, but I know I can't do the long distance thing.

Unfortunately, I like my job so I need to decide if I want to be lonely with a good job.  There has to be someone around here for me so I guess I just need to get out and about more.

Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck. [I need to fire up Ministry's Stigmata for the last minute or two]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bowling update

I wasn't in a great mood when I got to bowling and my form was off for most of the night.  I started with a craptastic 112, rallied for a 151 and finished ok with a 131 for a nightly average of 131.  My season average only moved a little bit, but it did go up.

I had trouble being consistent and a lot of balls which I thought were strikes knocked down just 9.  It was definitely a strange night.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Exercise ramblings

Heh.  My strength workouts weren't tough enough so I added in a challenge for calf raises.  Actually, I wanted to have three leg exercises (squats, calf raises, glute-ham raises) to balance out the three upper body exercises (pullups, pushups and dips).

I did a complete workout this morning and I feel pretty strong.  I'm close to being addicted to the exercise high I get and I'm definitely starting to see a return of definition.  My torso is getting much leaner as well which is always appreciated.  I'm not body dysmorphic, but I don't want to embarrass myself in a swimsuit or at the beach.

I measured my body fat yesterday and clocked in at 22.7% which is either a new low or damn close to it.  I've been making very significant gains in fitness since the new year and I'm convinced I'll get down to my challenge target of 20% shortly.  I think I'd like to be around 180lbs so that means I can have up to 36 fat lbs.  I'm around 41 lbs now so just five more to go.  I don't think it's unrealistic to assume a fat loss of 1 lb/week so I should get close to my target by my 36th birthday in March.  Sweet.

I have fun playing basketball even at my current fitness and skill level, but I think I would be less frustrated if I were in better shape.  I'm now known as the "energy guy" since few people there know my real name.  It means I get to guard the other team's energy guy or sometimes I have to guard the other team's biggest dude.  It didn't work out too last Thursday because the biggest dude is really big and could push me off the block.

Being in better shape would allow me to hold my position more easily, to make faster/quicker cuts and to jump higher which helps with rebounding and defense.  I'm already one of the better rebounders despite being of average height, but it would be nice to be able to block more shots.

Keep reading this blog for periodic updates with pictures and I think you'll soon see me getting ripped.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bowling update

I was late last night because I had a company meeting to attend.  Given the way I bowled, I probably should've just gone home after work.  I started out with an acceptable 128, but then I lost my form and couldn't regain it. I bowled a pukey 95 and then a slightly-less pukey 109 for an average of 111.  Ugh.

My steps were wrong and I was missing some easy spares.