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Fake X-files novels

I found these this past weekend on the GreenTentacles servers:

Backstory: Keith DeCandido (interview with him on Space Westerns Magazine) was having a bad day with random rumors and he mentioned how in the thread someone was complaining about his X-files novels. Of course, Keith has never written an X-files novel. I made these fake X-files novel covers to cheer him up.

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Ramblings

I have altered the Star Wars saga…

…pray that I don’t alter it any further.

With every new addition George Lucas keeps making tweaks to the Star Wars movies. From the classic “Han shot first” scene and adding Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett in Episode IV, through to his most recent tweaks in the new blu-ray release due to be released September 16th. His latest Star Wars changes were to replace the Yoda puppet with CGI in Episode I to better match the CGI Yoda in Episodes II and III. He also added CGI work to make the Ewoks blink. And then there’s this wonderful addition:

I concur: NOOOOOOO!

Please George, leave it alone. Leave it alone! Leave it alone! Leave it alone! Leave it alone! Leave it alone! Leave it alone!

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I know what I’m gonna do today

If you weren’t already aware of it, go watch Phineas & Ferb. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the intro, which sums up the show better than I can:

It’s smart, funny, witty, subversive (but not in a crass or mean-spirited way) and speaks to my inner geek. It also has great musical numbers:

Yesterday was the last day of school for my children; Today their summer vacation begins. Summer is a great time to be a kid and you shouldn’t waste any of it.

I know what I’m gonna do today.

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Ramblings

Why blog, why now?

Blogging has been around at least since 1997. The actual term “blog” wasn’t coined until 1999. In 2004 it became Merriam-Webster’s #1 Word of the Year. I even took a stab at a journal on LiveJournal, mainly to keep in touch with friends and writers who were already on it, but I lacked the desire to continually publish entries and it has since become a place for people on LiveJournal to follow my various projects (including this personal blog). After having left this blog lie fallow for a short time I’ve decided to try to post more often, on no particular set schedule. So, why did I wait so long to create a personal online journal, let alone decide to publish regularly? I have a tremendous lack of ego.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted this space to be; why I needed to create it; why I should devote time to this rather than other projects that are continuing to languish.

When I was 12 years old, I was a young man with a certain fondness for science and science fiction. I don’t think I was your typical introvert, but it was a tremendous achievement for me to get past my shyness. When I did it, I attacked the problem in my usual fashion: I overcompensated. In my first year of high-school I joined band and drama club, and by the following year I had joined choir and ran for (and was elected) student council president (being the youngest student council president that anyone could remember). I made myself very outgoing, and this continued through my college years (DJing for WLHU, acting in stage plays).

So, now I’m doing the same thing for my humility. I’m being more aggresive in putting myself out there. I don’t believe that what I think is really going to change your life. I don’t believe that you really care about my opinions, my past, or my future hopes and dreams. This isn’t about you…

It’s all about me.

I’ll be posting what I feel needs to be posted. There probably won’t be any underlying theme to what you’ll find on this blog in the near future. What you’ll be treated to here is whatever frivolous, inane thoughts that cross my mind and occasional updates about what projects I’m working on. There will be no attempt to be entertaining for you. In fact, you will very likely be bored with the minutae of my life. If you get annoyed that I’m posting too much about fitness/health/diet or that I’m mucking around too much with one particular project—don’t complain, you’ve been warned.

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Ramblings

Getting my house in order

You deserve an explanation. An explanation as to why I haven’t, among other things, answered an e-mail, called a friend, attended a convention, or updated any of the fiction markets that I operate (and/or other websites) in quite a long time… I bought a house.

This is a good thing! I haven’t died; I’m not sick; I’m not stuck in a major depression (just a little ennui). It’s just that I’ve become utterly unreliable for everything outside of my family, my day job, and the house. Overall my priorities shifted a bit and my fannish/freelance enjoyment took a back seat. Until this past weekend when I attended The Steampunk World’s Fair, I hadn’t been to a convention since Balticon 2010 (last Memorial Day). I haven’t played Dungeons & Dragons with my regular group, my childhood friends, in quite sometime. I haven’t kept up with my e-mail, often going weeks at a time avoiding it. I’ve got a long, long list of things I haven’t done or kept up with.

I have been working hard at a demanding job as a web developer at a major financial institution. I have been enjoying quality time with my family, including game nights, carnivals, birthdays, etc. I have been exercising regularly, eating right (probably not in the way that you think) and improving my health. So, personally, things have been going well for me. I almost wish I had a crushing depression so that I’d be able to excuse my utter neglect of everything else…

Thaumatrope is closed. Announcements to this effect and changes to the website will appear (when the stars are right). It is very likely to reopen in the future. Outstanding payments will be sent out. The site will remain online, and the stories will remain available. I’m planning on publishing an anthology.

Everyday Weirdness is closed. Announcements to this effect and changes to the website will appear (again, when the stars are right). It is somewhat likely to reopen in the future. Outstanding payments will be sent out. I’m planning on publishing an anthology.

Space Westerns is on hiatus. It will reopen. I still have big plans for it. The website redesign is stalled, but when it launches (soon, always soon) that will be the first sign that things are happening on that front. When it returns in full it will return with big guns.

Containment is being updated. If there are conventions in your area that you think should be on it, either add them or let the proper people know about the listing service so they can add their info.

So, I’m starting to be able to be active again. I’ll have more detailed posts about the markets soon, but if anyone has any questions, just let me know.

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Ramblings

Pardon me, I fell off the face of the Earth

I was gone. People noticed. Things happened. Decisions were made. Stuff was purchased. Now I’m returning. Apologies are given. Explanations forthcoming.

It’s not like it’s the end of the World.

20110521-120214.jpg

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Ramblings

Darrell Schweitzer on South Park?

Did Darrell Schweitzer, noted Fantasy author, Weird Tales editor, Lovecraft scholar, and Philadelphia native appear in the latest cthulhu/lovecraft themed episode of South Park?

Compare to this photo of Darrell by Kathryn Cramer:

Watch the episode “Mysterion Rises” and look for him at 16:27 and 18:52. I may be wrong, but they’re eerily similar.

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Ramblings

I’m normal!

As of yesterday I’ve trimmed the final few pounds to hit a normal BMI (at 163 pounds)—I’m a size S again. It’s a royal pain to have to go out and buy an all new wardrobe, especially since I’m still trying to lose a bit more weight, but my XL clothes need to be retired. I’m handing many of them down to my 16-year-old nephew, and conversely he’s handing some of his old clothes down to me. The strangest part is that he just handed down to me a sweatshirt that I had handed down to him last year. Weird.

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I’ve lost 30 pounds with 2 easy methods!

If anyone can change me, it’s me.

It’s true! As of yesterday I’ve lost 30 pounds in the past 20 weeks.

Before—height:5′8″; weight:196.0 lbs; waist:42″; neck:17.5″ BMI:29.9; body fat:~38%; waist-to-height ratio:60.3%;

After—height:5′8″; weight:165.4 lbs; waist:33″; neck:16″ BMI:25.2; body fat:~24%; waist-to-height ratio:48.5%;

My original goal was to lose 30 pounds in 10 weeks, which I missed, but I’m not disappointed in the end. I went from about 200 pounds to 165 pounds in 20 weeks. I’m very happy with that. This puts me within 2 pounds of a “normal” BMI, and I’m aiming to lose 20 more.

Why did I do it?

I was fat (see week 1 photo above).

There were three geek-related incidents that came together to push me into losing weight: my wife bought a Wii-Fit; I saw photos of myself at various conventions (and didn’t like how I looked—see week 1 photo above); I stumbled upon the “lose it or lose it” geek merit badge. I got serious and applied two miracle methods that helped me to drop the 30 pounds.

What were these miracle methods?

  1. Diet
  2. Exercise

Diet

The easy part: count your calories and eat fewer calories than you expend.

It’s a game of simple math: by eating 500 fewer calories a day than my current maintenance weight (the number of calories required to stay the same weight) I’d lose about 1 pound each week. If my current weight is 200 pounds and I require 2200 calories a day to maintain that weight, then by eating 500 calories less than that a day (1700) I’d lose 1 pound each week. As your weight drops, so does your maintenance weight. For my height, to maintain my target weight of 146 pounds, I would need to limit myself to eating 1934 calories per day. At 200 pounds, by only eating that many calories a day, I would eventually reach my target weight—in a little over three years.

I ate five small meals throughout the day: breakfast; elevenses; lunch; tea; and dinner. If I felt the need, I allowed myself to have a light desert (usually about 100 calories). Even though I ate as few as 600 calories on some days (usually between 800-1000), I rarely felt hungry. If I went to a party, or went on vacation, I didn’t necessarily deprive myself. When I went out to eat I’d only eat half my entree, and save the other half for another meal.

Overall I ended up eating more raw vegetables and fewer carbohydrates. The hardest things to give up were buffalo wings, general tso’s chicken, and duck pad thai. I was able to come up with a low-calorie alternative to satisfy my wing cravings (celery sticks with blue cheese dressing and Tabasco sauce). I’m still looking for a really good low-cal alternative to general tso’s chicken and duck pad thai. All the recipes that I’ve found aren’t quite right.

Exercise

The easy part: get out and exercise more.

I’d really rather not exercise; I was never what you would call athletic. I originally thought I could lose the weight through diet alone. The math just doesn’t make a compelling case for exercise. I could choose to run for an hour or I could just eat a salad instead of a burger. Besides, I’ve tried losing weight through exercise before and I’ve always ended up hurting myself and then giving up.

Through the insistence of a co-worker, I began 20-minute walks during lunch. I eventually added more vigorous exercise to my daily routine: I began running on a treadmill for 15 minutes immediately after work, since I already had a membership to the Y and it was on my way home. A daily 15 minute run was just what I needed. It wasn’t long enough to take me away from other activities, and I was never sore from it afterward.

It was when I began running that I really began to see bigger improvements. I don’t think that it was the fact that I burned more calories with exercise, but that my body toned up, and the weight appeared to melt away. As I lost weight it became easier to exercise.

Eventually I added a morning calisthenics routine (starting with about 10-15 minutes of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, jumping-jacks, etc.). Soon I had tweaked this to match the 300 challenge (and then some). As of the end of this week my current workout routine consists of:

  • 4 pull-ups
  • 28 jumping-jacks
  • 28 push-ups
  • 28 squats
  • 4 more pull-ups
  • 28 twists (with 5 pounds each arm)
  • 28 leg-lifts
  • 28 squat-thrusts
  • 28 18″ box-jumps
  • 4 more pull-ups
  • 28 toe-touches
  • 28 crunches
  • 28 lunges
  • planks (for 60 seconds, 45 seconds, and 30 seconds)
  • 4 more pull-ups

The squat-thrusts are really the hardest part of that workout. Altogether, I’ve been getting between 20-45 minutes of exercise a day.

My progress

By keeping careful track of the calories that I ate and the calories burned through exercise I was able to anticipate how much I would lose each week. By keeping a log, I was able to see my progress. Weight tends to fluctuate, not because of any actual weight gain, but because of something that you eat or drink, or the weight of your clothes may be different than what you wore when you last weighed yourself. I tried to keep the variables consistent. I wore the same clothes for each week for my official weekly weigh in and I weighed myself at the same time on the same day each week—Thursday mornings before breakfast.

Diet myths

While researching dieting and excercising (what a geeky thing to do) I came across several myths.

Disclaimer: You should consult a physician before making radical changes in diet and exercise.

You must eat at least 1200 calories a day
I could find no reason for this. It seems to be more of a rule of thumb than anything else. Doctors are known to prescribe sub-1200 calorie diets to obese patients. The supposed reasons that I found for not going under 1200 calories were: you’d be more likely to rebound the weight, you’d be less likely to get the necessary nutrition, and you’d enter starvation mode. My thought was that as long as I knew about the potential for rebound going in, then I could plan around it. My nutrition I could supplement with vitamins. As for starvation mode…
Starvation mode
A 1950 Minnesota Semi-starvation Study: ~40 young, healthy, lean men were put on a diet of less than 50% of their basal metabolic rate (BMR) caloric needs per day for 6 months. Their BMR dropped to about 50% of what it had been. They did lose some muscle, but overall they lost mostly fat until their bodies reached 5% body fat. Starvation mode doesn’t seem to be something that the average dieter needs to worry about.
Muscle weighs more than fat
It’s true, but unless you’re a world-class athlete you should just pretend that this is a myth. Muscle gain will most likely only amount to about 0.4 pounds of muscle a week while you’re dieting to lose fat. To really gain muscle mass you should eat more than your daily caloric intake, and then you’d still only end up gaining about 0.8 pounds of muscle per week (I read it on the Internet, it must be true)

Workout Routine Breakdown

Beginning weight: 196 pounds

Week 1:

Began walking and watched my serving sizes (who knew that a serving of rice was just one cup?). result: 197.3 (+1.3)—GAH! I never should’ve attended that bacon party!

Week 2

Continued walking and watching my serving sizes. result: 194.4 (-2.9)

Week 3

Walked a lot at the Steampunk World’s Fair. result: 193.3 (-1.1)

Week 4

Aggressively began a restricted calorie diet and counting calories: eating smaller meals every 2.5 hours (7:30, 10:00, 12:30, 15:00, and 17:30). result: 190.9 (-2.4)

Week 5

I started my test run in the hotel gym at Balticon. Began running 15 minutes alternating 7.5mph and 4mph. result: 187.8 (-3.1)

Week 6

Increased pace to 8mph and 4mph + did a longer run alternating 8mph and 4mph on Wednesday + began a test set of morning calisthenics + made a conscious decision to exercise before I ate. result: 186.3 (-1.5)

Week 7

Morning calisthenics: 12 sets of double negatives (just the controlled downward motion of a pull-up, performed twice) with 1 exercise (10 rep) break; Extra long runs on Sat & Sun. result: 182.8 (-3.5)

Week 8

12 sets of 1 pull-up with 1 exercise (12 rep) break; Hickory Run Camping: 18-Jun to 20-Jun; Baseball 24-Jun; Began running 9mph for 8min and 4mph for 7min; result: 182.1 (-0.7)—Yay! did my first full pull-up ever; Monkey Bread is pure evil—Delicious, delicious, evil.

Week 9

6 sets of 2 pull-ups with 2 exercise (15 rep) break; Run 9mph for 8min and 4mph for 7min + began alternating exercise days: sprints/running/calisthenics; result: 179.0 (-3.1)—Graduation party! Woo! (note: Italian party food is not calorie conscious!).

Week 10

5 sets of 3 pull-ups with 2 exercise (20 rep) break; I binged on Tuesday. At this point I had lost 20 pounds of the planned upon 30. result: 175.7 (-3.3)

Week 11

Spent an extra week at this level to work on form: 5 sets of 3 pull-ups with 2 exercise (20 rep) break; reconfigured calisthenics to better reflect 300 challenge. result: 174.8 (-0.9)

Week 12

NO EXERCISE: I was sick and I relaxed my calorie restrictions to feed my cold. result: 175.5 (+0.7)

Week 13

Virginia Beach: 24-Jul to 1-Aug; Sushi, sashimi, oysters, crab, scallops, lobster, she-crab soup… Seafood is yummy! I also left the Wii balance board in Pennsylvania, so I missed my official weekly weigh-in.

Week 14

Return from Virginia Beach: 24-Jul to 1-Aug; Began Martial Arts training 1x/week on Thursday night with White Eagle Martial Arts. result: 176.40 (+0.9)—not bad considering that I gorged myself on seafood.

Week 15

Getting back to exercise after about 3 weeks off. Double calisthenics (morning and evening), worked on form: 5 sets of 3 pull-ups with 2 exercise (20 rep) break, switch lunges for single arm clean-and-press (10-lbs); still only running halfheartedly. result: 172.4 (-4.0)

Week 16

4 sets of 4 pull-ups with 3 exercise (28 rep) break. result: 170.90 (-1.5)

Week 17

Double calisthenics 4 sets of 4 pull-ups with 3 exercise (28 rep) break; increased dumbbell to 20-pounds. result: 169.60 (-1.3)

Week 18

4 sets of 4 pull-ups with 3 exercise (28 rep) break; increased dumbbell to 25-pounds; increased run to a minimum of 15 minutes at 8mph with no more than one 2 minute walk (with the goal of being able to run 15 minutes straight); between the treadmill and sprints I’m moving about 12 miles/week. result: 167.10 (-2.5)

Week 19

Very little exercise and I binged on wings at a zombie movie marathon; increased dumbbell to 30-pounds. result: 169.9 (-0.2)

Week 20

Decided to hit the gym extra hard this week: ran nearly every day, and did calisthenics (either single or doubles) nearly every day. Double calisthenics 4 sets of 4 pull-ups with 3 exercise (28 rep) break; Hit goal of 2 mile run. result: 165.4 (-1.5)—it’s frustrating to see that I may be plateauing. If I don’t lose 3 pounds next week then I’ll officially declare it a plateau. For now I’m chalking up my lack of progress this week to a celebratory 1 pound burger and a party that I attended with my local Browncoats.

Week 21-30

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing: Beginning in week 21: I’m adding another day of Martial Arts class (Sundays); adding a day for Yoga (for balance and flexibility); replacing my sprints with swimming (3-4 times/week); adding a 90-pound barbell to my calisthenics for proper dead-lifts and floor-wipers; and will continue to increase the calisthenic reps weekly until I hit 50 reps for each exercise.

The goal: to be 146 pounds (or at the very least, lose 20 pounds of fat) putting me dead center of a “normal” BMI by mid-October; to be able to complete a 5k run; and to be able to complete the 300 challenge by November 25th, Thanksgiving Day.

Week 31-40

Maintenance! I’ll use this 10 week span to eat my required calories (no more restricted calorie dieting) and exercise to stabilize my body. The goal is to get my body attuned to this weight. I’m hoping that by focusing on maintaining this weight (and lifestyle) I’ll be able to lock it in.

Week 41-50+

Weather will be getting warmer: Rock Climbing? Parkour? Tai Chi? After all this I’d like to see where my new body takes me next.

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Ramblings

I like broccoli

I like broccoli—No, it’s true!

When I was a little child I didn’t want to eat it. Growing up, my mother never made it fresh—always from frozen and well-boiled. I didn’t like the color of the just-slightly-cooked-too-long broccoli. I wasn’t fond of the way that it flopped on the end of my fork. I was less than enamored of the bright-green-turned-just-a-little-grey-green color.

My mother told me to pretend that I was a dinosaur and that the broccoli was a little tree. For the next several years I was a dinosaur, eating broccoli trees smothered in butter—rawr. I learned that I actually like my cruciferous vegetables. There’s a little bit of sweetness in the broccoli stalk, unlike cauliflower, that contrasts nicely with the saltiness of butter. The florets break apart in a satisfying manner when I bite into them. I devoured forests.

I learned a lesson about trying new things and I don’t need to pretend that I’m a dinosaur anymore… I don’t need to.

Rawr!

Rawr!