July 31, 2008

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Yep, that’s what the scale read last weekend when I stepped on it. I knew that my weight had crept up over the summer and could feel tightness in the waist and my knees were starting to protest. It is high time to get back on the program.

There are several reasons for the weight gain. One is the gain associated with travel and eating junk on the road and then relatives being alarmed at my new skinniness and determined to fatten me up. After we got back, the bad habits sort of continued on as the quality of my foods declined while the quanity increased. Arwyn’s home made carrot cake actually has a decent amount of fiber in it but the cup of sugar and cup of fat kind of negate most of that. And the ice cream we put on top of it definitely didn’t help my cause.

Ah, Arwyn’s birthday! I’ll take a pit stop on the weight treadmill and get into that for a minute. I did not give her my 20 list, and opted for a sentimental card and handwrote some sentimental thoughts in my own screechy-scrawly handwriting. I also got her a $25 gift card for iTunes so she could get songs for her mp3 player. Unfortunately I had no idea Apple’s DRM would make getting the songs from her computer to her non-over-priced iPod player more difficult. I found a way to do it after much frustration. APPLE, YOU SUCK! I used to be a Mac person and didn’t have a lot against Apple until this crap. If I hadn’t found a way around it, it would have rendered the iTunes card worthless! Next time we get online music, it will be through Amazon, ThankYouVeryMuch!

We also went out to her favorite restaurant for lunch where she could get her favorite streak.

After all this (Cake, cards, gift card, defeating the evil DRM) and making it as restful of a day as possiblr for Arwyn, she was angling for some more stuff. There were a couple of CD’s she wanted, but I was trying to make sure we had enough money to get through payday. I was a bit put off by her angling for more. Yeah, I know what she really wanted was a new digital camera, but I couldn’t afford to buy one without going into more debt. We just finished a 3,000 mile 3 week vacation! That plus the car insurance was due…we did real good staying totally afloat this month. So I was not keen to buy more stuff. While she sort of seemed to understand she also seemed a bit pouty. Sorry.

Back to the weight treadmill…

A year ago, I was determined to lose a bunch of weight and I did it. But there was a bit of cheating going on in that I was smoking regularly the whole entire time. So while I was eating healthy and exercising and shedding pounds, I was also feeding my addiction. Part of my big weight was from trying to quit the year before. I was successful for quite a while (about 10 months or so) but gained on top of being already overweight until I was obese! So this time, I went down to my pre-nonsmoking weight of 220, and then kept on going. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to make another run at getting rid of the addiction. I was sick and tired of behaving like an addict, hiding my habit from my wife and kids. Arwyn knew and made it known that she didn’t like it one bit. But she didn’t nag me terribly about it, she might just make coughing noises from across the house when she heard me come in from the garage or make a production of turning on all the fans when I came in from outside after a smoke.

So, the vacation was prime time to quit smoking. I made great strides until we got to my parents’ house and then was at it for a few days, but lighter. But once we got back, I’ve been smoke free. I have this $50 gum that I chew after meals when I’m really jonesing, but otherwise it has been cold turkey. It has not been easy at all. I miss those bloody things, believe it or not. Going back would be easier than gravity. But I’m making a real go of it. And I’m going to try to keep my weight from blowing up while I’m at it. So I’m back to the step mat, and some controlled eating (although not quite as radical as before) and this time without the smokes. And without substantial support from Arwyn. It was that way with the weight loss, too, even though she has expressed some appreciation of being able to wrap her legs all the way around me when we’re in the missionary position. I quite like that, too! But it has not happened since the night we got back from vacation. It’s not all on her, as I’ve been busy and not made it easy to initiate with me. And our joint therapy appointment was cancelled this week because we couldn’t get the childcare thing arranged.

But I wouldn’t say we’re doing badly as much as we are in a holding pattern while life starts to take over. We really could use a date night away from the house and kids.

Would my 20 things list be better suited to an anniversary card? That’s coming up pretty soon.


A Heavy Issue

May 20, 2007

Perhaps I’ll engage in some lighter fare, and I do need to address a couple of long-lost topics that have gotten lost amongst the..er…heavier topics.


Actually I do want to talk about weight, specifically mine.  My mass seems to be in a linear incline since I’ve pretty much given up the smoking.  I say “pretty much” as I have had a couple of deliberate lapses lasting over a couple of 2 day road trips.  But by and large, I’ve been good.  The smokes still have a psychological pull, as I do miss them, especially during the stressful times.


But weight.  Geez.  After 10 years staying at pretty 219 lbs. or so, I’ve gone up to close to 240 over the past year.  Today I found a place where I could calculate my BMI (body mass index) and I’m at 29.9!  I’m 0.1 from going from “overweight” to “obese!”


My knees are suffering for it.  Other systems are too, I’m sure.  So I’m watching it to make sure I at least stop the incline, which I’ve done since February.  But now I really need to get it off and this will involve some exercise.


I hate exercise.


I don’t mind doing something relatively purposeful.  For instance I still use a push mower on my 2/3 acre lawn.  Okay, it is self-propelled, but with the bagger I’m still pushing and sweating buckets in the Georgia sun.  So once a week, I have that going.  I still don’t like it much but at least it makes more sense to me than walking a track or running somewhere I don’t need to go.  But my knees don’t really like this very much.  Once a week is about as much as they’ll take of that pushing over the rough terrain that isn’t even that nice of a lawn..


Swimming is not something I do well, and since there’s no pool, river or lake nearby, that’s out.


Joining a fitness club: That totally seems like a waste of money for me.  Pointless exercise, remember?  This works for some and it is a yuppie thing to do to keep in shape.  But it’s not like a real club, with dancing girls, a pole, cigarettes and mixed drinks.


Plus, the idea of driving somewhere else in order to exercise just seems odd to me.  If I lived within walking distance, it wouldn’t be a big deal.  But if more of us lived within walking distance of stuff, this probably wouldn’t be an issue at all.



Yeah, there is one sort of exercise for pleasure that I could totally be into.  But my wife would sooner see me dead than do that 3x a week for 30 minutes.  “Enjoy the heart attack, Fatman!”  I can’t even get it once a month.  Or even once a year. 



 I Finally did find something that looks like it might appeal to me.  I recently read about a guy who played video games and lost a pretty significant amount of weight.  Video games?

You can read for yourself. 


If you don’t like video games, you will totally not get it.  At least this is true for Arwyn.  I approached her with the idea and she outright scoffed.  She admitted that I had gained weight, and so has she.  But the idea of video gaming it off seemed absolutely preposterous to her.  Her idea of an intense video game is spider solitaire.  I’m more of an RTS man, like Age of Empires.  But back in the ’80’s I spent vast sums of money on various video arcade games. 


Anyway, I’m thinking of trying to step my way into shape using Stepmania, which is the open source (and free) version of Dance Dance Revolution.  I downloaded the program and a bunch of the songs and it’s actually kind of fun to play on the keyboard.  In fact I really like it as the music is real techno-ish and is heavy, heavy on beat.  Perfect for dancing and I probably burn a few extra calories grooving around while doing it with the keyboard.  It certainly is challenging and I notice that I am getting better at following the arrows, but I still struggle with anything but the easiest of selections!


Fortunately, Stepmania is fully configurable, so I can adjust and tweak it enough so it isn’t overly frustrating.  I’m using version 3.9 at the moment, and it is compatible with most operating systems even PII’s with 64 Mb RAM (there’s also a Linux version for you that are Penguin friendly).   Slowing it down for a middle-aged, overweight guy like me is a must!


My step mat has been ordered through eBay so we’ll see how things work, shortly.  I suppose I could work a fitness/weight loss theme in here somewhere, amongst my other topics.  Blogging is a good way to help with accountability.  Sometimes.  I’ve read a couple other blogs that had weight loss as somewhat of a goal or theme, but they didn’t do very well.  The blogs were quite successful, but the weight loss– eh, not so much.


I’m actually getting two mats, so I can either have one at home and one at work or I can find a similarly slow, middle aged partner to compete against/play with.  It would be nice to have a partner to play with.




Blogging Tools (GEEK Alert!)

January 13, 2007

FTN recently posted his 10 best most favorite blogging tools and then wondered what others used. Mine is a little different constellation of hardware, software and applications, so I’ll share here:

1. My Sharp Zaurus SL – 5500 PDA: This Linux powered hand held device is the real powerhouse behind my miniature blogiverse. I type on the Blackberry-like thumb keyboard and safe it to either the CF or SD flash cards. I can then use a card reader to load it into my PC.

2. MS Word – It has some nifty features and is faster than Open Office. I’m working on shedding my dependency on this proprietary monster but rely on its grammar and spell check for what little editing I do. It seems rather crazy for FTN and others to be fiddling with notepad when they have Word sitting right there.

3. Mozilla Thunderbird – Many of you have switched to Firefox and you are smart to do so. Those who have not are simply slow and foolish. However, if you still use Microsoft’s virus incubator/vector called Outlook for email, you’re still not being very bright. I’ve been using Thunderbird’s RSS feature to read most of you the same way others use bloglines. I then take your posts, and copy and paste them into Word files, put the on the CF card and then I can read them on my Zaurus.

4. Flash cards, readers and memory sticks: others have extolled the virtues of these nifty little storage media and they are essential for moving posts (mine and yours) back and forth between where they are up/down loaded and where they are read/written.

5. WordPress: This has revolutionized my entire blogging experience. It keeps stats, keeps track of search terms used, who is linking, who is pinging, who is spamming, and basically makes every bit of blog management very painless. It eliminates the need for a lot of other tools that are used by my Blogger friends. And I still get my comments through the email address of my choice.

6. Juno Email: I should probably get a Gmail but years ago I used Juno as my ISP (back when they thought all email should be free) and keep it for blogging purposes. If I ever need to switch to another dial-up, Juno will be the one as it is still relatively inexpensive and one of the few who at least makes an effort to be Linux-friendly.

7. Puppy Linux: This is an operating system that fits on a thumb drive as small as 64 Mb. I also have a few copies burned on CDs. It runs entirely in RAM which means I don’t really need a hard drive at all and I’m able to use a laptop under IT lockdown as a second computer when Arwyn is using our main machine for her pictures and stuff. When Windows craps out, I’m not going to be left high and dry nor am I going to pay $150 U.S. to upgrade to Vista. Puppy is actually very robust for such a small OS with an easy graphical interface. If you have an old P3 sitting around, slap some cheap RAM in and Puppy will turn it into brand new zippy modern machine. Oh, and you can forget about the malware that is the bane of every Windows user’s existence. For Puppy it doesn’t exist. And if some freakish thing did happen to get it, you simply restart the computer. Remember, Puppy exists in RAM! It’s a great tool for blogging and online stuff.

8. Firefox: (www.ie7.com)Sometimes a body just has to surf and this is the tool I use. I can also subscribe using its RSS feed, but Thunderbird is just easier for what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

9. Blogshares: This isn’t something I look at very often but it is often entertaining. I’m not a player, even though I have 2000 shares of my own blogs reserved just for me. And the blogger version of Reality and Redemption has historically been exceedingly valuable to those who do play. From what I understand, blogshares are valued by the incoming links compared to outgoing links. More incoming links are good, but some incoming links are worth more than others. My outgoing links have always been carefully rationed and managed which has provided very good dividends for those on my blogroll. This is also a good place to visit to find out who else is linking to your blog and who is linking who. I’ve discovered a really cool blog or two through this. However, only Blogger blogs are included in this, so WordPress users don’t get to play.

10. My desktop machine. While I do stuff on the Zaurus and occasionally on the laptop. my desktop is where it all comes together. It’s nothing fancy, just an Intel Celeron D with 512 RAM and 1.8 G processor and I’m still using dial-up and XP as the main OS. But that’s where I do most commenting from (all commenting for Blogger writers) and where I read most comments.

I had a hard time coming up with 10 items for this list! These are all tools and gadgets. Yes, it also takes time, energy, patience and a big drive to want to push material out. And somehow I’ve managed to push out sufficient material to keep 4 blogs afloat.

Nice change of pace even if it is super geeky.


Thoughts on WordPress

June 18, 2006



Okay, so anyone who is following along can see that the two R&R Blogs are similar, but are not exactly the same.  Sometimes they are, but I'm putting more original content here. 


FTN asked how I liked WordPress.  I've actually been using it for a different sort of blog since January and it has served me very well.  If you look over at my side bar, you can see just a very basic set up.  There are a few other options for organizing things, but what you're seeing is a basic default.  WordPress includes as a basic package what Blogger includes as extras.  For instance, you might notice that I have categories for various posts.  When setting up categories, WordPress has its own categories or you can make your own.  If I set up a "blogging" category, and click on the category link you can read all of my other posts about blogging.  But you can also read what others are writing about blogging.  So setting up various tags can help others search for specific entries.  Try the "chastity" category and see where it takes you!


In this way, WordPress has become quite a cozy little community with people borrowing various tags and categories.  Trackbacking is used more extensively in the WordPress universe.  If another WordPress user links to a post of mine, I'm going to know it right away as it shows up and is treated as a comment on my own blog.  WordPress comes with its own statistical suite for keeping track of traffic.  Again, you'll know if someone is linking to you as you see referring pages, referring search terms and popular posts.  It's not as extensive as the stat counter most use with Blogger but it is a nice basic feature that most will appreciate.


WordPress is a newbie's dream, offering sophisticated tools with a very easy interface.  It has a very clean' fresh and friendly look and feel to it.  For those of us who are not enamored with HTML or any other coding, it is just the thing.  Editing the blogroll, posts and categories is an intuitive snap.  The price for all this friendly convenience is not being able to add things like polls, new templates and buttons on your own.  But if you are really into advanced tweaking, you might want to join the WordPress development team in improving it.


I'm unsure of Blogger's status as an open source application due to its association with Google.  However, WordPress has no such association to muddy the waters.


The primary reason I availed myself of WordPress for R&R was because I wanted to backup my blog.  Being the noobie knob that I am, I have no idea how to back stuff up off of Blogger.  However, WordPress has this nifty importer that allowed the transfer of my entire Blogger account, including comments, over to WordPress.  And it worked very nicely.  Archiving things from here won't be so easy, as I know of no exporter utility.  WordPress suggests using RSS to back up posts and comments.  And that is one way of doing it.  In fact, for most of you on my blogroll  as well as several others I read, I do have many of your posts archived on my own machine.  If disaster strikes, check with me and I might be able to help you partially restore your content.


I highly recommend WordPress as a primary blogging address, especially for newer folks.  I also highly recommend it as a back-up option for those who so highly value their blogger posts and comments.  As for those contemplating a switch from Blogger, I recommend doing what it is that I'm doing.  Try running both side-by-side for awhile.  There are reasons to hold on to that Blogger account.


One is just the history, which for many runs over a period of years.  Not everyone is going to be keen to resetting their links, blogrolls and favorites lists.  Another reason is just the way Blogger works, and its dominance among bloggers.  One reason Ive struggled with how to handle comments is that WordPress users can not comment on Blogger blogs that won't accept anonymous comments.  Moderation is one way of working around this, but it has its own drawbacks.  WordPress has similar issues when it comes to dealing with comments, however it is easier dealing with those in large batches.  And both outfits have had to work around spamming and spammers, unfortunately.  I suspect I'll have to learn how to deal with that more as traffic increases.  However, barriers still exist as far as WordPress users interacting with Blogger users.


One more note about WordPress; if you have your own domain, you can downlaod the software and then have all of the bells, whistles and buttons that the free wordpress.com site doesn't offer.  It's still an evolving place and is getting better all the time.




Changes Changes

June 17, 2006

I feel like I am going through a series of changes around here. Some big and some not so big. First off, is the gradual migration to my WordPress account from blogger. I see reading everyone else that I'm not the only one having fits and starts with blogger. It's nothing personal, and I really have liked blogger and many aspects of it. WordPress sacrifices some of the flexibility for ease of use. But there is also some reliability issues that blogger has that WordPress has less of. I'm still using both blogs as the mood strikes me, but eventually see just doing the full migration. WordPress makes it very easy to move from Blogger, and brings over links and comments as well!


And then there is the impending migration from Windows to Linux. My machine has some serious kernel hooks robbing it of CPU power. I had to do a complete reinstall last year because of a bad motherboard and swore I wasn't going to be taken like that again. It takes hours and hours to do a complete Windows install, complete with service pack updates and then downloading even more updates. I took it to a PC repair shop and they kept the machine for over a week and cost over $150. And then to reinstall all my old stuff was additional time. What a pain! Windows will always vulnerable to attacks and security flaws. Linux and MAC OSs are also vulnerable, but are much less likely since the programming is different enough as to not make it worth a hacker's while. At least for the moment. Plus, most Linux OSs are free or near free. My Ubuntu disks are on order, so it's just a matter of time.


I'm also interviewing for a possible job change. This will involve a bit more money, but also involve more responsibility as well. It's just one more in a series of adjustments coming down the pike.


Funny thing about these changes; nothing is really pushing these other than a drive for something better. I'm not being laid off or fired. I just saw an opening and applied. My computer is lame, but not dead. I just happen to know and have tried out some different operating systems that can make most of my hardware good, again. And Blogger is a pain, but most of you all are sticking with it. I began my migration to WordPress back in March.


I'm clearly more comfortable with certain types of change than some of you. Most of you are still using the IE browser, which is THE gateway for 99% of all worms, viruses, hooks and malware in existence. Almost every problem Microsoft has ever had can be traced to their web browser and the way it is integrated with their operating system. The hooks working on my system are forever trying to work through Explorer and have crippled it beyond use, and continually drain the CPU. Arwyn and I were both unknowingly surfing bareback for about a week after our virus protection expired so that's probably when we picked up these varmints. And they are buried deep within the operating system, right next to where the virus protection hooks are. I can detect them, but I can't get rid of them without redoing the operating system.


Blogger does offer flexibility that WordPress does not at the present time. However what is offered in the basic, free version is beyond impressive. Managing posts, comments, blogroll, categories and statistics is a snap. Extras like buttons, polls and invisible trackers are not so readily available and templates are bit less flexible and variable.


WordPress, Mozilla and Linux all have one thing in common besides being free: They are Open Source, meaning that if you are into programming, you can get the source code and do with it as you wish according to your own purposes without violating copyright laws. There is no pirating or stealing open source because it's free! If I download Open Office 2.0, I do not have to call in to the Mother Ship in order to activiate it. None of the features will expire, forcing me to upgrade. Crashes are actually unexpected and rare. The cost of MS Office for a student runs about $100. Open Office is free. The XP OS can be had for around $100 if you shop around. I just ordered 5 Ubuntu copies for free. That includes shipping. You can download most Linux OSs for free.


My computer performance is decaying. So is yours. It is not a matter of IF the thing crashes, but WHEN. Will you be ready? Having a spare operating system might come in mighty handy along with the loads of productivity software these usually come bundled with. A live CD from Mepis, Ubuntu or Knoppix might actually help save data files after a system crash.


I've begun preparing for my inevitable crash:


A. Backing up all data to rremovable media and a second drive. Flash media is becoming dirt cheap and could be just the thing for moving large files, especially music folders and video files. Your ipod can be used as emergency storage as can digital cameras. I've done this using a Linux live CD, and the Linux sees the device as another hard drive-like storage device. Linux also enabled me to move a slew of files over on to regular DVD-R disks, which Windows severely balked at. Since I was using the live CD, I did not physically install Linux, I was just using it to burn files on my second drive.


B. Make an emergency disk of MS compatible applications. You probably have disks of many applications you use, but what about those you've downloaded? And then there are the activation codes that might have been emailed separately. All of the install files and codes should be backed up on an application disk. My top applications:

1. Antivirus software – I have a university version paid for through my payment of numerous fees. I have the installer on this application CD. If I decide to reinstall Windows, I have a matter of minutes of going bareback on the internet before getting zapped.

2. AdWare – need something to defend against malware.

3. Zone Alarm – More defense against invaders. Of course, switching to Linux makes none of this necessary, but this is a disk for restoring a Windows machine.

4. Firefox – I'm also including all my bookmarks which I have recently backed up.

5. Thunderbird – If you haven't tried this alternative to Outlook, you are missing out. I read most of your blogs using Thunderbird's RSS feed feature.

6. Foxit Reader – This is not open source and not affiliated with Mozilla. But it is a neat alternative to Acrobat Reader, which is a resource hog. Foxit is small, nimble and quick pdf reader. You will still need reader Acrobat to print many documents, though. So add that to your list.

7. Open Office – You may end up like I did by having Microsoft greeting a second installation of Office with suspicion, requiring a call to their corporate office to beg for permission to activate the software you paid good money for. Time consuming and humiliating. At least with this, you can still read and write office documents plus save them in the pdf format.

8. CDex CD ripping software

9. Everest Home Edition : this nifty program allows a person to identify all of the components in their computer, including chipsets, various cards and displays. This can be very important when looking for replacement parts and drivers.

10. Drivers – oh yeah. Keep all downloaded drivers in a special folder and make that a part of the back-up plan.


C. Clear space on the primary hard drive: that means erasing stuff. If you do need the services of your technician, how much of your personal stuff does this technician have to know?


Probably so much more than you wanted to know about this, but I have had blogging block, lately, in addition to the same sickly crud Cinnamon had. YUCK!