Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
The big change, though, is vegetables. I can now eat most vegetables, and pretty much as much as I want to. This should make me a lot less hungry overall, and drastically decrease my chances of flipping out and going on a murder spree. Lunch today was the most exciting salad I'd ever had.
The workouts are fairly tough, but I'm ramping things up. I did 40 minutes of cardio yesterday, and my goal is to get that to 45 or 50. According to my push-up bra, I burned somewhere around 850 calories in this morning's workout.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The workouts have upped in difficulty. Yesterday we put on a lot more weight than Wednesday—about 25% more on average. This put me right at my limits, and it was quite tough. On most of the machines I don't think I could have added one more plate and still finished. I also did some reverse push-ups (I don't know their actual name, but they were basically elevated push-ups facing upward instead of downward), and that was the only time I couldn't hit the goal the trainer had picked for me. After ten he could see that I definitely wasn't going to make it to twenty, so we stopped there.
The lack of energy also really got to me yesterday evening. I actually took a short nap, something I haven't done in like a year, and I went to bed early and got a pretty solid ten hours of sleep. I feel a lot better now, but I'm going to need to be better about getting adequate sleep. When I was consuming 3,000 calories (or whatever; that's a good average for someone like me), I could get by on less sleep and not be this exhausted, but at about 1,600 minus 700 in exercise, I'm going to need to be a lot more disciplined for the next few weeks if I'm going to survive this.
On the upside, it's been effective. I'm down 10 pounds since starting, and about 6 this week. Based on what the doctors have been saying, six pounds in a week is just about the absolute maximum that is healthy; ideally, I'll lose more than 1% of my weight per week, but no more than about 2%. I believe that if I go past the 2%, the fear was that I wouldn't be able to develop muscle at the same time.
Currently listening: Kerli—Hurt Me
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
My problem so far is that I'm fairly hungry all the time. Long-term that won't be as much of a problem as my calorie limits increase, but this first week is all about resetting my metabolism, and I'm supposed to have around 1,600 calories a day, which isn't much at all for a tall, fairly healthy adult male. Since I'm burning close to half that in my workouts, my energy levels are fairly low, but again, a lot of this all should change in the next week or two.
I cheated a little tonight, but not too badly. I had some beef that was marinated in a mystery sauce that was likely not diet-approved. But, I didn't eat the vegetables, noodles, or drink anything but water. So, I can celebrate the little victories while chastizing myself for the little failures. It was a calculated cheating, not a spur-of-the-moment lapse in judgement. I just got back from a first date (!), so I didn't want to be too obnoxious about the diet plan. "First date" as in first date ever, actually, in case you're keeping track. (I was never one to jump into things unprepared. I've just been planning all this time, you see...) I was pretty nervous going in, but it was fine once we got started. Okay, nervous may be a nice way to put it—I haven't been able to focus on a thing all week. I was late, too, which always leaves a nice impression: I sure thought that 70 minutes would be plenty of time to get from Redmond to Seattle around dinnertime. At least I was only 10 minutes late.
"This page intentionally left blank." I'm sure I'll have more details to talk about later. For the time being, though, I'm going to be gentlemanly and keep the specifics of my date from being archived on the internet forever, and stick to talking about my diet and exercise.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The diet is pretty unpleasant so far, but the worst part will only last a week. Basically, for this week, I'm going to be living on almost entirely protein: meat and protein shakes. I can mix it up a bit with berries in the shakes, and that's about it. No vegetables or other fruits. I'll be sure to let you know if it's making me insane.
Monday, September 22, 2008
It's not a good feeling, really. I have become used to being able to think about my dreams afterward, and I'd very much like to know what happened in those dreams. Even if it didn't make a good story to tell, at least I'd know. I am always annoyed when I don't remember details of my dreams. I feel like I'm missing something; maybe something that my subconscious mind was trying to tell me, or maybe just a reward for sleeping.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
"Claim Jumper? The last time I went to Claim Jumper I had to start a six-month weight loss program the very next day!"
Finally. Here goes nothing. (Oh man, why am I doing this again?)
On a nice note, I'm down 4 pounds from my stable starting weight, and I haven't even started yet. That's probably mostly due to ramping up my cardio over the past couple weeks. Well, that and random fluctuations. Probably mostly the latter.
Appropriate listening: Europe—The Final Countdown (I think this was the first time I'd actually heard the whole song; it's kind of awesome)
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Hooverphonic—The President of the LSD Golf Club: 8/10
Trinity Hi-Fi—Fuego: 6/10
Rob Dougan—Furious Angels: 8/10
Kerli—Love Is Dead: 9/10
A while back I picked up the new album from one of my favorite bands, Hooverphonic: The President of the LSD Golf Club. For their last few albums, they've been trying some really interesting and different styles. This one's a weird experimental pop-rock CD. The previous one came in both a light version and a dark version and was more electronic trip-hop/pop. The one before that was orchestral with vocals. The one before that was pop and told a single story of the rise and fall of a fictional international music star. I never really know what to expect from them, and this CD doesn't disappoint. Unfortunately, it's not released in the United States and won't be; I had to import it, but I've had to do that with most of their albums. To get a feel for this disc, I recommend Expedition Impossible (video), Gentle Storm (video), and Strictly Out of Phase, which are all great, though the latter is admittedly not one of my favorites.
I also picked up a CD that's been on my list for a very long time (since Pandora first launched), Fuego by Trinity Hi-Fi. Unfortunately, it's a case of the single Lost You being considerably more polished than the rest of the CD, which is mediocre or a little better. It's sort of loungey trip-hop, but most of the tracks are pretty forgettable. I'd say that the best are Lost You, Inside, and Lazy Afternoon.
I also got Rob Dougan's Furious Angels. I definitely recommend this if you like the standard action movie soundtrack orchestra-and-beats formula—think The Matrix; a couple of these tracks have been used in the Matrix films. There's more variety to the disc than just adrenaline, though; there's a nice variety to round things out. The biggest problem with the album as far as I'm concerned is that the guy has an awful, grating voice that I can't stand. But, graciously, a 2-disc version of the album is available, and the CD 2 versions are all instrumental and better; I highly recommend looking for that version. Sticking to disc 2 drastically improved my opinions of the album. Good examples here are the title track Furious Angels, Will You Follow Me?, Nothing at All, and Speed Me Towards Death.
Finally, the best CD I've bought in quite a while was one of the more surprising, the debut Love Is Dead by a singer no one has heard of, Kerli. I bought this one after hearing the absolutely entrancing single Creepshow (partly in Estonian!) on the in-game radio in Burnout Paradise, of all places. I love just about every track on here, and this is a strong contender for the best album I've bought all year. It ranges from Evanescence Power Girl Rock to bumpin' dancefloor beats to pure pop. Besides Creepshow, the opener Love Is Dead, Hurt Me, and The Creationist (which unfortunately has a bassline that sounds like my phone vibrating) are all gold.
There's actually one more song on the Burnout Paradise radio that I really love that might persuade me to buy another CD: Cities in Dust. The original version by Siouxsie and the Banshees is a somber and weird song about people dying in the Pompeii explosion. This version by Junkie XL and Lauren Rocket is a crazy party song about... people dying in the Pompeii explosion. "Oh, oh, your city lies in dust, my friend" has been replaced by "Oh, all your cities lie in dust, yeah!" Too soon.
I've picked up some older CDs that I'll go through soon, like New Radicals—Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, and Goo Goo Dolls—Dizzy Up the Girl. People and websites have been recommending Augustana's CD as well, and some new stuff by Enigma, Dido, Keane, and Kelli Ali is on its way soon. I'm looking forward to it.
What I haven't decided is if it would be better to upgrade my phone, or get a standalone camera. I'm leaning toward sacrificing image quality for the much greater convenience of having my camera be my phone. The Blackberry Curve looks fairly interesting, and is about a hundred bucks cheaper than a nice camera.
Currently listening: Kerli—Hurt Me
Friday, September 19, 2008
Once OkCupid was built, TheSpark had no real reason to exist anymore, so most of that site disappeared, leaving SparkNotes, their free online Cliff's Notes equivalent. Fast forward to today. OkCupid still exists, and it seems that it is an actual dating site now. SparkNotes still exists, but it was bought by Barnes and Noble, and it has spawned SparkLife, a sort of portal for college students. And now OkCupid has spawned Hello Quizzy, which appears to sort of just be a mirror of the OkCupid site without the focus on dating. It is a complicated history.
So, the end result is that I had a profile on a dating site that I didn't even know about until they just spontaneously started sending me potential dates a few days ago. I had basically forgotten that the site existed until then—I'd heard the name mentioned a year or so ago and simply thought, "does that site still exist?" I got bored of taking surveys pretty quickly, and stopped going there. But, I've had an account there all this time, with a pictureless profile that said something to the effect of "I'm just here to take the surveys." I think I'd have been creeped out to find that I still had an active account there if I'd actually spent any time on it and talked about myself.
A couple nights ago, I got sucked into my old college habits without even noticing, and started answering questions and surveys again. There is seemingly something very appealing to having a computer program be so endlessly interested in useless minutae of your life and opinions about pointless topics.
Maybe it doesn't matter, at least to most people. I'm a fan of structured information. I organize all of my files and emails meticulously, and like to stay on top of things. I never really search for things on my computer; I know exactly where I filed everything. So, that I have such an unorganized friends list is bothersome to me. But I realize that most people probably don't care. Facebook is really good about letting you search for peoples' names anywhere and everywhere it's appropriate. So, you never really find yourself needing to actually look through your friends list.
I'll admit that for what kinds of features Facebook offers today, further organization capabilities are not really required. It just seems that they might be in the near future, and I hope that they have some sort of plan in mind.
Monday, September 15, 2008
It doesn't matter how I got that thing up there, really. All that matters is that I change the battery as soon as possible, because that one's probably just about dead too, and I don't want to wake up at like 4:30 in the morning to hideous warning beeps. I've been through that before and do not wish to repeat that blasphemous experience. Over Christmas break during college, a friend of mine living in another state awoke to an icy room and a beeping smoke alarm on the same day at roughly the same time that the same exact thing happened to me. We'd already developed a reputation for creepy* coincidence... that was the final straw.
* Creepy (adj.)—It is not intentional that so many of my recent posts have used this word.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I'm successfully down to one Diet Coke a day, excepting a little indulgence when I go out to dinner with friends (which is itself an indulgence). I've got one more week of one a day before I go to zero. Moreso than anything else so far, that's been the toughest part about getting started with all of this. I've cranked up the workout frequency and adjusted my schedule and gotten used to not showering at home very often anymore without any troubles. But it's the Diet Coke that I miss.
I'm wearing a heart rate monitor when I exercise now, which tells me whether I should work out harder or slow down to achieve the optimal heart rate. It works similarly to the ones that are built into nicer fitness machines, except it's attached to me so it works when I'm doing other things like lifting weights too. (I have nicknamed it the "push-up bra" based on the fact that it straps onto my chest right below my manboobs—I mean, pecs) I can handle 30 minutes of cardio at the correct heart rate without much of a problem, but I have a feeling that whatever my trainer makes me do in a week is going to make my current workouts seem like a joke. I'm already about as sore as feels okay, so it will be interesting.
I burned 1,450 calories so far working out this weekend, or about .4 pounds. That was a lot of effort for .4 pounds. I should probably not think about that.
Currently listening: Trinity Hi-Fi—Lazy Afternoon
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
While we're on the subject of Women in European History, I have one other story about that class to tell. The final project in the class, which was a very large portion of our grade, was completely open-ended. We were supposed to put together something that combined everything we'd learned in an unusual and creative way. I spent a very long time trying to come up with something clever, and it didn't come to me until like a week or two before it was due. I decided to put together an owner's manual for... a wife.
One recurring theme in the class was how at the time period we were studying, women had few rights and were basically property. So, this seemed to fit. I actually wasn't sure what her sense of humor was, so I took a huge gamble on this. If I recall, my roommate thought I was nuts; my project idea was pretty offensive. But, I couldn't think of anything better, so I went for it. I wrote page after page of instructions on how to operate a newly-acquired wife, including tips on education (don't do it!), sex, proper beating techniques, and even troubleshooting, such as instructions on how to tell if she is a witch. I didn't bother with much in the way of facts or historical references; I just made it offensive, based on stuff we had been taught throughout the semester. I was sure that given how my essay tests had been obliterated by my lack of precise dates, this project was going to be a disaster, but I still hadn't been able to think of anything better, and the deadline was looming.
Finally, the day came when we were to hand in our projects—finals day. What we weren't told is that our final was to present the project; there was no test. Crap. Not only do I have to hand my professor this terribly offensive booklet about wife ownership, but now I have to present it in front of a class of budding feminists. This is not good.
We went in order of volunteering, and eventually it got to the guys and the few girls who didn't ever volunteer; I was one of the last couple to go up. I was pretty nervous. Normally I'm not too bad when I have to speak in front of people, but this was different. My project was designed to be offensive. But I did it. I went up there, and calmly presented my horrible project.
The looks on peoples' faces were not at all encouraging. I could see rage building in a few people, shock in others, and dumbfoundedness in others. No one was smiling. No one was laughing. I was getting really scared at this point. But then I skipped to one of the highlights of my manual, and while some of the class began to look horrified, Professor Levin's face filled with delight. She liked it. She actually liked that I had the balls to get up in front of the room and present my offensive project. She adored that I found passages from the King James version of the Bible and twisted them around beyond recognition to support beating women and treating them as property. She totally got the point that I was trying to make—being over-the-top to show just how ridiculous things used to be. I ended up getting a 100% on that project that I put surprisingly little effort into, and it was the only reason I was even within striking distance of the A that I got that my test scores didn't really deserve.
Here's an example of perhaps the most awful thing to ever give me a good grade in a class:
Beating instructions – arms and legs
...To beat your WIFE’s arm or leg, curl your fingers into a fist formation, and then press your fist rapidly into the arm or leg. Again, the more force you use, the more effective the beating will be. For interesting variations, try beating your wife’s arms or legs with both hands at once, at varying angles and speeds. You can also use this technique to beat your WIFE’s face, though additional caution is recommended in this area. Continue these beating procedures until the level of correction desired has been delivered. Remember, not only can beating your WIFE allow you to fully personalize it to fit your needs, but it can also be pleasurable and relieve stress.
Update: Here's my original WIFE Owner's Manual (PDF) for download. Please note that it is organized for double-sided printing, not reading, so you'll have to jump around to read it in order.
As history and gender studies classes go (I assume), it was pretty good. The instructor, Professor Levin, was very smart and really knew her stuff. She was pro-girl, but not in a militant way. (She also liked to remind us all that she was not, in fact, a lesbian, despite how many people assumed she was.) She loved her half dozen male students in the class of 80 or so. There was one flamboyantly gay guy who sat in the middle of the room surrounded by girls, and all of the rest of us sat in the back row on the right, which is generally where I sit in any class. But oh man, that was a tough class. She was a hardass, and her grader was just as much of a hardass. I tried really hard to do well at her insanely difficult tests, but if I could manage a B or a C on them I was pretty happy. I hadn't done essay tests in general, and this woman required actual dates. It wasn't enough to say that something happened in March of 1682; if you didn't know it was March 5, you lost most of the credit. I did a lot better on the quizzes and other assignments, which helped. She was also a hardass on extra credit. If I recall correctly, she offered a total of two extra credit points over the length of the class—not two percentage points, but two grade points out of a total of, say, 400. One was early in the class, and we were told about it from the start, and then the second was going to be a surprise later in the class.
The first extra credit point, which I desperately wanted given how difficult the class was, was to attend at least one out-of-class lecture at a conference she was putting on one Saturday, and bring back proof that you had attended it. I did that one. She announced on a different day that the second extra credit point was to buy a T-shirt there and wear it to class on a certain day, or wear some other T-shirt that could be related to women's history, women's rights, or European history. I really needed that extra credit point too.
I didn't want to buy a T-shirt at a women's history conference. No way, man. So, I decided to make my own. I have it here in front of me—here's what I wrote:
Front: I went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Conference on Religion and Popular Culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance October 11 and 13 and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!
Back: Elizabeth I: King... Queen... Everything in between. REAL MEN take Women in European History with Professor Levin!
(If I recall, she really liked her some Elizabeth I.) Anyway, on the T-shirt day, I think only I and mister supergay wore shirts. She walked around the classroom and looked at what everyone was wearing. When I stood up to show her mine, she screeched with laughter. She absolutely loved it. I thought it was pretty dumb, but she loved it. She proclaimed her love to the whole class, and gave me two extra credit points, for a total of three, more than anyone else. I sat down feeling like a total tool, but a tool with one point that he really needed. Even my roommate called me a tool.
I think I ended up getting an A in the class. My grades were not quite enough for one—maybe the B+ or A- range—but she upped it to an A. I've never sucked up so much in my life, but it sure paid off.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
(I occasionally drink other soft drinks; I am trying to reduce my dependence on all beverages with either sugar or artificial sweeteners.)
Honestly, though, I don't know what I'm going to drink. If the water is filtered and cold I can tolerate it, but I don't particularly enjoy drinking water. I dunno, it's boring. It's also inconvenient, since it doesn't come in chilled can form. At work they have this fairly unpleasant unsweetened sparkling water stuff that I don't really enjoy (I've heard "it tastes like farts" used to describe the flavor), but maybe I'll have to try to stomach that occasionally. I could also go for tea, but I've never been one to drink tea without an absurd amount of sweetener in it (my southern blood occasionally shows). I can't stand coffee. I'll have to figure something else out, though. I started drinking Diet Coke to rid myself of a Mountain Dew addiction. I started drinking Caffeine Free Diet Coke to rid myself of my Diet Coke addiction. My next step, I suppose, is to either trick myself into thinking that I enjoy drinking water, or get myself addicted to a lesser of a few evils.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Unfortunately, this plan has backfired. Where at first it was a resounding success it is now an obnoxious failure. A couple years ago, spammers realized that since spam is free, the "shotgun" approach works just fine—they can have great success by just picking random usernames and appending them to a domain name. So, I get thousands of spam mails a day, addressed to addresses that neither I nor anyone else in the world has ever had an account at. Just as bad, I also get thousands of non-delivery reports for spam mail I never sent using more made-up account names as the From: address.
I need to come up with a solution. Probably what I'll need to do is to come up with a few account names that I really want to keep (such as anything that contains the word "travis"), and then delete everything else that comes into my mailbox. It should be feasible to get this right. Gmail has one of the coolest solutions to this problem for "normal people" that I'm aware of—you can give people addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org, and mail sent to that address will go to myusername's inbox, tagged with the mytag tag. That way, you can do exactly what I do currently and have essentially infinite accounts, but still not get mail addressed to random account names. The drawback is that if a lot of people start using that feature, it would be extremely easy for spammers to just strip off the "+" portion of the address, basically converting a "spam-safe" address into your real one. Another drawback to both Gmail's solution and mine is that occasionally I forget exactly what variation of my address I used at any given site. Did I give Amazon.com "travis", "travisamazon", "travisaz", or something else?
Providing a way for people to easily manage all of the different email aliases they give out to people could be a "big win" for Gmail, or anyone else who implements similar features. Spam filtering will continue to improve, but making it more convenient for people to use aliases could be a lot more effective.