For Want of a Widgey

10.06.2014

My board game playing has been lax the past few months. My gaming with Jer & Keith has dwindled to where the last time all 3 of us played was back in March. Keith and I have played a few games since, even joining some of the Dealnews gang for some game nights. Overall though, my gaming interest has waned this year.

Maybe it's cyclical? In 2005 Jerry and I started playing games again after a 10 year hiatus. That 10 year hiatus followed a 10 year run of game playing. Granted, the last few years of that run were sparse in playing. Now we're closing in on the end of another 10 year run of playing.

I know part of my problem is due to the type of game I enjoy. I'm very much an Ameritrash gamer. Games that ooze theme and lots of pretty pieces appeal to me. The drawback for these is that generally the rules are thick and take a while to learn, plus the time and effort to set up all of those pretty pieces for a game. When you want to play a quick game of something for the first time, the games I like take longer to set up and learn than to play. There have been many times where we've learned partway through that first game that the game in question just isn't for us, which leads it all to feel like a wast of time.

The games we've played lately have been quick, semi-abstract (to me) games like Splendor, Quantum, and Smash Up (which was completely over my head). All are good games and enjoyable in their own right, except for Smash Up - it's going to take me a while to get the hang of that one as there's a lot more going on that I originally thought there would be. These games play more as a classically thought board game in that you, as the player, don't immerse yourself into the game via an avatar.

Immersion into the game is more fun more me. It tends to lead toward more social interaction, which is the real reason I play board games. Ticket To Ride is a lot easier to play on a computer or iPad and let the software take care of all the bookkeeping, but it lacks the fun of taunting and goading other players as well as cursing them to their face when a route you want is taken. While I don't feel like I'm the train in Ticket to Ride, I feel more ownership of the routes I'm placing which puts me in the game. Maybe it's because pieces aren't picked up and moved, but placed and forever stay? I hadn't really thought of that before now....

The games I've most enjoyed of late have been those in which I immerse myself. Star Wars X-Wing has been the game I've been playing the most, and each time I feel like I'm in a dogfight inside a Star Wars movie. The X-Wing game has led me to find that I'm a fan boy of the publisher, Fantasy Flight Games, which I've come to think of as the President of Ameritrash as all of their games reek of theme, have lots of pretty pieces, and even better - most of them have expansions which pile on even more theme, pieces, and rules.

It's those expansions which may be burning me out on the games I enjoy. As with Car Wars in the 80's, enough content can be added on to a game as to make it encompass so much that it gets bogged down to where it's almost unplayable. But, I don't want to get behind in the rules or miss some cool new thing, so I have to keep up with the expansions. Expansions I end up not caring about or using, but my completest gene of acquisition forces me to collect.

With all of the above, I still like board games. I don't want to get rid of the closet full of games I've still yet to play. I feel a little guilty for not playing as much as I think I should, but forcing myself to play isn't really fun, and shouldn't playing games be fun?


boardgames rambling

1 year and 104 lbs later

10.01.2014

1 year ago (yesterday), 401 lb me went off to the hospital for Gastric Sleeve surgery.

Yesterday, 297 lb me thought about what's happened in the past year.

I've had a f'n awesome year.

There have been a few low points (being unemployed again would certainly count), but looking at the things that are actively under my control, I'm completely happy. There are day to day things I do that I make sure not to take for granted, little things like walking across a parking lot and not being sweaty and out of breath. To celebrate such, I went for a 6+ mile walk this morning.

My biggest question asked is still if I miss eating the things I used to. I don't. The idea of a big juicy steak and baked potato, or even a binge trip to good old Sonic for corn dogs and cheese sticks sounds good and causes my mouth to water (it's watering as I type this), but were it all sitting in front of me I wouldn't touch it. Tempted probably, but I would stay away.

My friend that I've never met, James Buchanon Puckeepsee (not his real name) has a compulsive personality. Alcohol, food, exerciser. I think he's found how to focus his compulsiveness positively (mainly exercise) but that wasn't always the case. Some 10+ years ago, I heard a recording of a talk he gave to a group at Overeaters Anonymous. He brought up a point that has always stuck with me, but only now can I really apply it. Dieting is the only activity where you reward yourself with what you're trying to avoid. As a reward for losing 10 lbs, have some cake (or something else you've restricted yourself from)!

Over the past year I've not thought of food as a reward. I've tried to make my menu fairly mundane. I'll have an occasional treat, but not for doing anything special or as a reward. Instead, I'll think back over the past month or so and see if I've not gotten carried away with eating anything I shouldn't. If I've stayed on track, I'll allow myself to falter a little. Tuesday night I had some chocolate chip cookies, no diet/fat-free/low-sugar ingredients anywhere near them. They weren't a reward, they were a treat. I ate them, now time to move on to more protein shakes and salads.

The exercise regimen that James McDonald Puckington (not his real name) focuses on is also inspirational, although I don't take it to his extremes I do make an effort to be more active than the 441 lb lump on the couch I once was. I'll try to get out and walk 3 times per week. If I don't, it's ok and I don't beat myself up about it. If I do, it's ok and I don't need to shout to the heavens and get kudos. Walking is something I do for me - it makes me feel better. Sure, I'll mention it here when I hit a milestone (should hit 500 miles total walking this month) or go particularly farther than normal (did I mention 6.38 miles this morning, much more than my normal, piddly 5 miles), but in all honesty reading about hey, I walked 5 miles again for the 3rd time this month is about as boring as it would be to type it. When out on my walks through the Athens greenway system I enjoy myself and take active notice that I couldn't do this very activity a year ago, and that makes me smile.

As for complications from my surgery and the side effects thereof, I never had any. Never threw up. No hair loss. No vitamin deficiency. No protein deficiency. I'm still drinking 3 protein shakes per day. I'm still taking vitamin supplements 5 times per day. The doctor expected me to be around 200 lbs today, so I've only lost half what he wanted. I wanted to be 240 lbs, but not necessarily today. I wanted to be healthy today.

I feel pretty healthy. I'm counting that as a win.

Next I keep doing what I'm doing and watching to see if more weight will slowly drop off. Maybe I'll hit that 240 yet. I'm in no rush though. And I don't think I'll stop in on Sonic along the way, either.


gastric sleeve

7 seasons of Californication Complete

09.28.2014

This weekend I wrapped up 7 seasons of Californication on Amazon Prime's streaming service. I never watched the show before all 7 seasons became available (for free), but it had long been on my "to watch" list as it fits in a special category which I tend to like: boobs & banter. Being a Showtime series, the boobs & banter lean toward the more mature side.

I've mentioned the show to Jerry as I was getting caught up in watching the series, describing it as spoiler-free and using my special blend of obtuse references that only I can make up on the spur of the moment.

It's a show where the guy from the X-Files is a drinking, sexed-up writer of some fame who has a teenage daughter with the chick from George Clooney's version of Solaris. Even though the show is really about the relationship between father and daughter, my favorite part is the banter between the father and the bald guy from Sex & the City who married Charlotte. There's boobs a-plenty, although some shows only have the boobs in the "previously on..." prelude.

See, a synopsis that doesn't give a damn thing away yet tells exactly what the show is about, assuming you know who was in X-Files, Solaris, and Sex & the City.

After watching 84 half-hour episodes (12 episodes per season), I can whole heartedly say I enjoyed the first 5 seasons. The last 2, meh. The final one I would have been ok skipping completely, but halfway through season 7 I decided the completest in me had to watch the whole thing.

The surprising thing I like from the show ended up being the guitar/instrumental music used in the opening and closing credits. The opening credits theme got on my nerves originally, but somewhere along the way I started to enjoy it. I think I was mentally playing Guitar Hero as the guitar riffed away. The end credits switch up the music, sometimes it's a known song (or a cover), other times it's an instrumental that sounds vaguely familiar.

This isn't a show for everybody. Honestly I can only think of 1 person I would suggest might possibly enjoy the show, and he's mentioned at the top of the post. The prevalence of boobs and thesaurus of 4-lettered euphemisms peppered throughout would offend most people I associate with. Not me though. I'm indefendable.

Does that mean what I want it to mean? I bet it doesn't. Mu$*a F&*.... I mean, drat!


movies/tv/dvd

Unity Asteroids

09.21.2014

I've been (slowly) making my way through the last 3D Buzz Unity tutorial I purchased at some point in the last 2 years. The tutorial goes through and creates a 3rd person space ship shooter where you fly through an ever expanding asteroid field. I'm about halfway through coding the 7+ hour video series, having watched the series once just to make sure I know where all of this is going.

I make little mistakes following along with the videos. I type a wrong character or forget to add a component. So far there hasn't been any problem that's popped up that's taken more than 5 minutes to track down and fix. Part of following along with the video is annoying in that the guy doing the programming has a quirky way of naming his variables. A globally accessible variable is named in UpperCase. That bothers me as normally I would make them camelCase (which he uses for local variables in functions, which I would also do). This can be a little confusing when a variable ends up with the same name as the class, such as:
        public Camera Camera;
Camera is the class, while Camera is the object variable. That just bothers me. I big part of me wants to fix it (Camera camera), but the times I've tried this in previous tutorials I've gotten lost & confused when following along. Instead, I've opted to add lots and lots of comments in my code when pausing the video to try to force myself to explain what is being taught. This makes my tutorial progress slow, almost agonizingly so, but I think I learn more from it in the long run.

Earlier today I ran into my first problem that had nothing to do with actual code. The game has reached the point where my virtual spaceship can fly through the virtual asteroid field. No collision detection is set up yet, so nothing bad happens. Asteroids pop into view based on what can be seen on the monitor - only asteroids in the field of view exist and have movement, nothing (mathematically) is happening behind you or to the sides. My problem was that my monitors would randomly turn off. The computer is on and running, but the video output dies. Once I reboot the computer everything is fine.

Unfortunately I can only guess at what is causing this. My first guess is that the math of keeping up with 400 asteroids moving in 3D space is too much for my 5 year old computer. It shouldn't be, as the 5 year old computer was built for gaming and I don't want to think that I'm making a tutorial game that can break it. There could be a secondary process running interfering with the video - I think at least once I was transferring some video files over the network.

This always happens when I start to pause the game, which thanks to the controller setup means the ship starts looping and, at least in theory, a lot of asteroid position updating is going on. I'm taking a stab at lowering the amount of asteroids that can be viewed before continuing on my merry tutorial way. Maybe it'll work. Maybe not. I'm just guessing.

Tomorrow I get to the video explaining how to blow up asteroids. I'm looking forward to that one.


game dev programming/interweb

Jogging-ish

09.14.2014

My normal walking schedule is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while trying to manage a 5 mile route each day. Not bad for someone who needed to rest when walking across a parking lot 2 years ago. This past week I faltered on Friday as I thought I would get rained out - the local radar always showed rain nearby but it always dissipated by the time it got here.

To make up for missing Friday, I went on an evening walk Saturday. I met Gina over by the school and she took her first walk with me in a couple of months (due to her plantar fasciitis messing everything up). She made it a mile before the pains started shooting, but I'm proud that she made it that far.

I stayed and walked a little farther. I've noticed that normally when I walk in the mornings, 5 miles of walking over an hour and a half feels about right. Later in the day, I don't want to walk as far but my pace seems to naturally quicken. When nobody else is within sight, I've even taken to attempting what I like to call a jog. Anyone else would call it a mildly controlled seizure where I somehow remain upright. Saturday night, since the walking track was devoid of anyone else, I decided to up my random jogging spurts.

Normally on the last mile of my walk, when I'm in my zone and nobody is looking (see above), every ¼ mile (there are posts along the trail marking this) I'll jog a little until I run out of wind. This normally takes about 30 yards, although I would swear it's really about a ¼ mile. I'll then try to catch my breath before the next ¼ mile post and start the process over again. Saturday I decided to just see how many of my jogging spurts I could get in on a 1.5 mile lap.

My lighting fast jogs register as green on the map above, save for the first one at the bottom around Athens-Limestone park. There are 6 green-shaded areas where I broke the sound barrier with my lighting fast pace. Lighting moves at a 13 minute/mile pace, FYI. Most importantly, I didn't pass out, fall down, or die from this extra exertion. Due to the tightness in my thighs I knew that walking around today would be.... fun, I'll go with fun.

The grunts each time I get up and start to move are signs of fun.

I'm just happy to be able to move and run around a little.


diet gastric sleeve

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