Jeremy's almost but not quite entirely moribund blog

Friday, March 10, 2017

On losing weight

I'm a guy of average stature, just a fraction of an inch under 6 feet. Ten years ago, I weighed less than 160. I was one of those lucky people who could eat whatever, seldom exercise, and not gain weight. It didn't last, of course. In my mid-20's, I found myself having to buy larger pants. My weight hit 190 and settled there for several years.

In December 2006, I started a new job at Mozy, which at the time was a tiny startup with not many more than a dozen people. I was pulled into the break time activity they had set up there, Dance Dance Revolution. I was terrible at it, but it was fun, and it was exercise--we'd all go back to our desks a bit sweaty.

Not long after that, I bought a PS2 and DDR Supernova and started playing at home. It became part of my morning routine. I got pretty good at it, racking up full combos and AAs, and working my way up to Expert. I focus on beating harder songs and breaking records, so I don't even notice I'm exercising. I find things like running on treadmills to be dreadfully boring, leaving me with nothing to think about except how unpleasant it feels and how nice it will be to be done, whereas with DDR I can go until I'm drenched in sweat and still have to pry myself away when it's time to go to work.

Daily DDR + no significant change in eating habits brought my weight down from 190 to 180, where it stayed for quite awhile. Drum lessons and biking to work brought it down to 175 or so, but once I stopped these activities due to a new baby and the winter, respectively, it went right back to 180. This brings me to January 2010. I saw my weight had gone up a bit and decided it was time for a change.

With the new year, I made the following lifestyle changes:
  • Additional exercise. I still did DDR, but I added the strength training exercises you can do on a floor, such as push-ups, lunges, squats, planks, etc. Sometimes I do these with help from Wii Fit; other times I just do them on the floor, but I try to do them daily, alternating between lower-body and upper-body exercises each day. When the weather improves, I'll start biking to work again.
  • Smaller portions at meals. I try to eat more slowly and savor the taste, figuring quantity shouldn't improve the experience. Sometimes I end meals hungry, but feel full later, or if I'm persistently hungry afterward, I'll eat some fruit or vegetables.
  • Less junk food. At work, they keep the break room well-stocked with all sorts of candy, soda, chips, cookies, you name it. I used to snack freely; now I limit myself to one item such as a fun-size candy bar per day.
My goal was to be under 170 by my birthday, and I got there. 168 this morning. My wife says I look noticeably slimmer. I plan to keep going to 160 by this summer (BMI 22), and maintain that.

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I wrote that^ seven years ago. Somehow I never completed my post.

The story continues: that summer, I bought a road bike and rode thousands of miles. My weight cratered to 145. By this point, I could not maintain my new eating habits. I was not eating enough to sustain this level of physical activity. I was always hungry.

Unfortunately, I didn't scale up my intake just enough to maintain my weight. I fell off the cart entirely, and started gaining weight despite continuing to exercise. I've biked about 25,000 miles since the first half of this post, and I've eaten pretty much whatever I like, and I've had to buy larger pants a couple times. I hadn't stepped on a scale in years, until this morning--when I learned I am right back where I started. 183.

This will not do.

Because I've gotten slow on the bike. Because I hate what I see in the mirror.

I'm going to do the same things that worked in 2010. Of course, I've tried and failed countless times over the past six years, but this time I'm writing a blog post that absolutely no one other than me will ever read, so you know I'm serious. Also, I put checkpoint weigh-ins and targets on my calendar.

I might actually reduce miles cycled somewhat.  Most of my weight loss in 2010 happened before I became a cycling junkie.  I need to take some time to bring strength training exercises back. But mostly, I need to eat reasonable portions and stop snacking on junk food all the time.

I can get to my target weight of 160 by September if I start now. As I recall from last time, the first couple weeks sucked and I was miserable and hangry all the time, but I got used to it and the pounds started to melt away. Let's see if I can pull that off again.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Playing Portal 2 co-op on LAN, with one account

My wife bought me Portal 2 a few months ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed the single-player campaign. The puzzles are clever, and there are lots of 'em. The story is funny and engaging, and the voice acting is superb. The procedural music adds a lot of atmosphere. I particularly liked the historic Aperture Science Innovators levels deep underground.

After completing the single-player game, I wanted more. My wife suggested that our 7-year-old boy would enjoy playing co-op with me. I said it probably won't work unless I register another Steam account and buy another copy of the game... but I did some Google searches and found that offline LAN play is possible with a single copy. There are varying instructions given, and some work better than others, so I decided to record the best way here. Specifically, if you do it right, Atlas (the blue robot) can save progress and earn achievements. (They can't both do it, because only one can be connected to Steam at a time.)

Start with the guest machine (this machine will play P-body, the orange robot):
  1. Launch Steam in offline mode.
  2. Start Portal 2.
  3. Enable the developer console (under advanced keyboard options). This only has to be done once.
  4. Enter the developer console by pressing the back-quote (`) key, to the left of the number 1.
Now, on the host machine (this machine will play Atlas, the blue robot):
  1. Launch Steam in online mode.
  2. Start Portal 2.
  3. Enable the developer console (again, this only needs to be done the first time).
  4. Select "Play cooperative game" from the main menu.
  5. Select "Standard co-op"
  6. Wait for the "Invite friends" page to appear. It's okay if the page is empty.
  7. Enter the developer console by pressing the back-quote (`) key.
  8. Type sv_lan 1
Back on the guest machine:
  1. Type connect (IP address of host machine)
And then on the host:
  1. Type map mp_coop_start (for the calibration level, if you haven't played before), or map mp_coop_lobby_2 (for the hub)
Using these steps, I am able to play co-op with my son, and still save progress and earn achievements on my account (I play as Atlas).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Windshield wipers

A few months ago, the windshield wiper switch on my 2000 Honda Civic broke, resulting in funny behavior like the blades stopping the second you let go of the lever, even in the middle of the windshield, and when you pull the lever back to squirt the windshield, it'd keep squirting forever until you push it back.

The car was due for a safety inspection, and I figured it wouldn't pass in this condition. I picked up a new switch at the local Honda dealer and installed it this morning. The wipers worked like they should, but the windshield squirty-things didn't squirt.

Just yesterday I topped off the wiper fluid, so I knew that wasn't the problem. This pointed at the pump. Looking under the hood, I couldn't even see the pump. Only the top of the reservoir poked through the maze of frobnitzes and gormishes. Looking up from below, I couldn't see it either. I was worried I'd have to remove the front bumper, but it turned out the pump is situated just in front of the front wheel and is accessible through the wheel well once the cover is removed. I picked up a new pump at AutoZone (which was much less expensive than the switch, interestingly enough), drained the fluid into a bucket, and swapped pumps. Now I can squirt the windshield again; in fact, the new pump almost overshoots the windshield entirely. I guess it's a little more powerful.

With a working windshield wiper system, I took my car to Jiffy Lube for the inspection, and they told me my blades needed replacement... so one more trip to AutoZone.

Side note: Jiffy Lube also told me my air filter needed replacement, and they offered to do it for $15. I declined, because I knew the air filter is easy to install, so I thought I'd save a few bucks. Until I saw what the new air filter cost at AutoZone: $15. I guess next time I'll just let Jiffy Lube do it.

I also replaced the cabin air filter and windshield wiper blades on the family van. And my Civic has a door that won't open from the outside... maybe I'll make a clean sweep of it and look at that this evening.

Aren't cars fun?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Making Vista x64 print to an XP Home box

My printer, an HP Laserjet 1012, is connected via USB to my desktop computer, which runs Windows XP. The printer is shared from the desktop, and my wife regularly prints to it from her Eee PC (also running XP) and the MythTV box (running Linux, of course). No problem setting either of these up.

I was just working on a document on my shiny Dell laptop that runs Windows Vista x64 Edition, and I had a bear of a time getting it to talk to the printer. It sees the printer in the Add Printer Wizard, but when I go to install it, it claims it couldn't find a suitable driver, even if I point it directly at the Vista x64 driver I downloaded from HP's website.

I thought, maybe if I plug the printer directly into the computer, it'll let me install the driver--so I yanked the USB cable from the desktop and plugged it into the laptop. It saw the printer appear, chewed on this information for awhile, and then told me it couldn't find a driver. So I pointed it at the one I downloaded, and lo and behold, this time it worked.

So I reconnected the printer to the desktop and went back to the Add Printer wizard, figuring this time it'd realize the printer was installed and not complain about the lack of a driver. Nope. It still complained that there was no suitable driver, even though a suitable driver was already installed. Stupid Windows.

I did some Googling and found the answer: lie to Windows and say you're adding a local printer, on a local port that happens to be named \\server\printername. This way it noticed that the appropriate driver was installed, and it actually completed the installation and printed.

Stupid Windows.