Lets get ready to rumble!

I haven’t posted anything SCA in a long time. I used to be all about the fighting, but in recent years my focus has shifted to running “Battlefield Brewery” at SCA events. Essentially once per month throughout the camping weather months I go set up the bar and pour lots of free beer for my friends. It’s fun as hell, and I meet a lot of people I might not otherwise meet, and get to hear lots of stories and philosophies.

There are down sides as well: Essentially every event now takes 2 weekends (one weekend for brewing, then one weekend for serving), which is a pretty big chunk out of my calendar. Then in the cold months I go through withdrawal, because events move indoors and most indoor sites are not alcohol friendly (and even if they were, people who aren’t camping the night are less inclined to imbibe, with good reason!). Finally, there’s the small matter of me being too busy to do anything else. I know, I don’t have to be… I could fight during the day then open the bar after I finish fighting, but I just have an over-developed feeling of responsibility to the beer.

I’ve just come home from Crown Tournament, watching my good friend Lord Orn fight for the right to put my wife, Lady Faoiltigherna on the throne. It was a dry site, so I left the bar at home. Possibly the only event I’ve attended in the past 4 years where I did not spend the majority of my day devoted to beer. It was nice and relaxing, and I got to watch some highly skilled fighters lay into one another. Sadly, Orn did not win the day, but I was still inspired. When I started losing weight back in February, one of my stated goals was to get back into fighting. I think it may be time. I can spend my winter months in combat and my summer months at the bar, and any spare weekends (HAhahahahahahah, right…) in training.

Next step: see how much of my armor still fits me (probably none), and start making the necessary modifications. Maybe swing some sticks at the punching bag in the attic…



My weight loss journey

So, one of the bigger things going on in my life this year is that I’ve finally had enough of being fat. I mean, I still am, objectively speaking, but I had gone way beyond what the doctors call “morbidly obese”. I had become accustomed to weight in the mid-270’s for years, and suddenly I was climbing higher. I breached 300 pounds, and it made me extremely unhappy, and I fought back down to 275 and promised myself “never again”, naively thinking that I could continue being… not happy, but not-miserable at that 270-280 range.

Except whatever caused me to get over 300 in the first place was apparently not a fluke but a new “normal”, and my weight slowly crept back up again. About a year ago I started tracking my weight every week or so, and generally trying to “do better”. More steps, fewer seconds at dinnertime… the weight kept going up: one pound here, two pounds there. In February of this year, I stepped on the scale at 293, and had the awakening that I wish I’d had many years ago. The “never again” promise I made myself echoed throughout my brain. “Doing better” obviously wasn’t good enough. As I’ve often said, “better is good, but good is better”.

I’ve dieted before. I lost a lot of weight with the Atkins diet, and kept it off until a car accident left me in a lot of pain and I turned to comfort food to ease that pain. Since I’ve gotten heavily into brewing, and made beer a major part of my life, low-carb is really not an option for me anymore. I’ve also lost weight through calorie counting twice before. The first time I simply got lazy about it (counting calories is a bit of effort, and downright complicated at times), and the second time I used it to get from 300+ back down to 275 and then stopped because that was my goal. So I found that some of my new friends were also calorie counters, and found their tool of choice: MFP. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for MFP, because it makes the chore of counting calories much easier, and the social aspect of it also provides a nice moral support group.

So here we are today, 81 pounds down from that 293 mark in February. I no longer check in “every week or so”, I check that damned scale *every*single*day* (aside from when I’m camping, or on the road for work), which gives me a really good chart of my progress, and what weight loss looks like (spoiler alert: not a straight line). I’ve also put together a NSFW progress pic. The “before” side was taken about a month into the weight loss, so… I was even worse than that when I started. The “after” side was taken 2-3 weeks ago, and I’m better than that now, with at least 17 pounds left to go, assuming I don’t move the goalposts again (I already blew past my original goal of 225, now heading for 195).

I’m also about to run a 5k race in 3 weeks. I’ve never even run a mile before in my entire life, but I can do so fairly effortlessly now. On a treadmill I can run 3 miles with a little effort. Outdoors is a bit rougher, but I’ve still got that mile in the bag, and I did 2 miles on Tuesday with just a bit of walking thrown in. My natural pace is a bit faster than what I’ve been doing on the treadmill, so I wind up running too fast to maintain it for the entire distance. I’ve got 3 weeks to work on that.

Let’s go for a walk

So I bought a book today. Inside, the author referenced a short story that he wrote. I found it rather interesting, insofar as it was written in the early 50’s, but still sounds rather topical aside from some obviously dated ideas about technology (e.g. punch cards for computers). Thankfully, things haven’t deteriorated to the point he predicted in the story, but I do think that the people who go walk just to “get air and see things” are in a minority. People are often wanting to blame “kids these days” and technology for this sort of thing, but if it was a complaint back in 1951, maybe we need to hang that idea up. At any rate, it gives me an urge to go for a walk. It occurs to me that I don’t do that enough.

Mind Killers

They say fear is the mind killer, and it’s true, but at least fear is a quick and merciful killer, a skilled assassin. Boredom is a bloody butcher of the mind, slowly hacking it, piece by piece, while it remains fully conscious of what is happening. Boredom is a real bastard.

Me time

Attending the SCA event, “Vikings Come Home” this weekend. Just past Boyne, across the road from Lake Charlevoix. It’s a longer drive than I’ve made in recent history, and I wound up flying solo for the weekend. At first I was disappointed to be alone (still am, really), but it was kind of nice to just spend five hours with no company except my own thoughts and some good music. The trees are mostly still green, and just starting to turn. Saw three deer in an open field in a residential area. Should be fantastic bonfire weather if the rain holds off. Got my hammock set up with a rain fly and sleeping bag for tonight, and 41 gallons of beer to get my friends and I (and friends I haven’t met yet) through the weekend. Prost!

Enemies no more

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Or vice versa. We should never stop chasing perfection, nor should we allow perfectionism to paralyze us from producing anything at all. Keep doing “good enough”, and keep raising the bar for what is “enough”, and some day we will achieve – well, not perfection, that’s for damn sure. 🙂 But something close to it, which is the best we can realistically hope for.

Which I guess is my way of saying, “I’m blogging again.” Not that I expect very many people are still paying attention after all these years off.

Who to blame?

I’ve been using WinAmp on my Android phone as my main source of music in the car. I really enjoy it, but since I’ve taken to having my playlist be “all the music on my phone” in shuffle mode, I’ve noticed one thing. Shuffle really sucks. I understand that the heart of the problem is going to be the pseudo-random number generation, but who is to blame for the crappy implementation? The hardware vendor? The OS? The programming language? The WinAmp devs? I need to know who to write a nastygram to, and if it’s even possible to find a better app for randomizing my playlist.


P.S. WordPress still works, right? I haven’t used this thing in over a year. :-p

My thoughts on The Vibrator Incident

The internet (or at least my small corner of it) is buzzing (and tweeting, and probably plussing) today about a “personal” note left by a TSA screener who found a woman’s vibrator during a standard luggage screening and handwrote a note on the official screening slip. If you haven’t heard about it yet, I think the BoingBoing article covers it pretty well.

This brought several thoughts to my mind:

  1. “Violation of privacy”? No more so than any other baggage screenings, which have been going on for far longer than the PATRIOT ACT has been around. It’s just one of those things you implicitly consent to when you fly. If there’s something you don’t want seen, don’t fly with it.
  2. “Wildly inappropriate”? Let’s just go with “horribly unprofessional”.
  3. I really think the note was rather positive, or at least intended in a positive manner, as misguided as the impulse to leave any sort of personal note was.
  4. I think it’s shameful that in modern society we still treat sex toys, or any acknowledgement of their existence, as taboo. This should not have been note-leaving-worthy, nor should the note be generating as much shock and rage as it is.
  5. While I acknowledge the leaving of a personal note is horribly unprofessional, I also think it’s sad that we really detest personal contact. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we didn’t think it was “creepy”, but rather thought it was nice that somebody made some effort to be human and personable? TSA employees have certainly committed far worse offenses, such as theft.
  6. She’s “retiring” it because she’s uncertain if they handled it… Would she retire it if there was just the official form and not the note? If not, why not? The same level of uncertainty would be there. Perhaps they should leave additional documentation certifying that nothing has been handled without gloves on. Also, can’t the toy be sterilized? Or is this more about the emotional baggage?

Conspiracy theorists should be smarter

It’s downright shameful for a respectable (more or less) news source like BoingBoing to get a story so blatantly wrong. The name of the post is Densely-linked cluster of 147 companies control 40% of world’s total wealth, but even a casual read of the material quoted by the article shows that’s completely wrong.

If you read it through, it says that 1,318 companies control 20% of global revenue, right up front. Waitaminute… the headline said that far less control more. What gives? Oh, here it is down below. They found that 147 companies that all own pieces of each other control “40 per cent of the total wealth in the network”. Which is to say, they control 40% of the 20% that the network of 1,318, NOT 40% of global wealth.

Come on, guys. I support Occupy Wall Street too, but you’re not helping them out my misrepresenting the facts. Isn’t it just as damning to say that one small group of rich people control 147 companies that control 8% of all the wealth in the world? Well, no, that’s not as impressive I guess.

99% certain…

When I first became aware of Occupy Wall Street, I thought it was laughable. A group of people with no clear common goal, staging a protest against anything and everything. How is that going to accomplish anything? But it’s not only lasting, it’s spreading. Contrary to my initial belief, maybe disorganized unfocused unhappiness with the status quo really is the one thing 99% of us can agree on. OK, there’s far less than a 99% approval rating of the protests, but I think there’s a broad base of sympathy.

Three things that I think need saying:

1) The 1% seem to not really be paying them any mind. I wonder if they’ll keep making light of the situation until the guillotines are constructed. Ah, but the protests will probably remain peaceful and ergo really not get very much serious attention.

2) The conservative talking heads are largely (all?) dragging out the very tired and very untrue “un-
American” argument. Give it a rest, guys. Nobody with half a brain believes that protesting is un-American. The United States of America was formed the day a bunch of protestors drew up the Declaration of Independence.

3) There seem to be a significant number of folks online sitting on their asses making fun of these people. These people who, I might point out, got off their asses to go do something in an effort to make the world a better place. Think about that before you say anything further. Get-off-your-ass activism > sit-on-your-ass derision.