About the time I started getting notices that I needed to update my SSL certificate was about the time I also realized that it has been almost a year since the last time I wrote an entry in my blog. I seem to dislike stopping by my blog, because I don’t really think anyone really reads this stuff anyway. I would say that the length of my entries is a big deterrent, both for the reader and for myself as the writer. I’ll try to sum up some of the highlights and keep it as brief as possible, with the usual disclaimer that this is what I always say.
As my title suggests, the biggest news I have is that I got back in shape; although, this may not technically be correct, as I was never really that “in shape” to begin with. I will just say that at the moment, I am in the best shape I’ve ever been. I had previously made a few attempts to watch my caloric intake, largely consisting of counting calories and keeping it around 1500-1800 calories. I had done this probably twice in the past, and each time it worked for a few months, but just before the 200 lb mark, I always hit a plateau, and I ended up giving up, gaining back everything I had lost over the months to follow. I had also tried to exercise a few times in the past. There was a time while living in Gainesville where Julie and I were members of a small fitness studio and also had UF gym memberships. We also have had a treadmill since we’ve been married. Although this always helped me look a little better, I’d never really lost much weight exercising.
I finally hit a breaking point early July last year. When by chanced I decided to look at the scale and saw that I was then at 230 lbs at a BMI of 29.9. Just one pound away from being considered obese. This was very unsettling to me. Had it really been that long since my brother-in-law used to call me “slim”? I was also experiencing some pretty intense chronic lower back pain at the time. It had not been that long since I built this house. We built a room specifically for fitness with equipment, and we’re surrounded by rural farm roads. So, I decided to try again, but this time, doing both exercise and calorie counting and not slacking.
At the time, attempting to run was not at all comfortable at that weight and with my back pain, so I started borrowing one of my parents’ extra bikes and going on rides around the block. Starting with 3 miles, then increasing to 6 miles, and then 10 miles and 12 miles, with my speed picking up. At the same time, I was keeping my calorie counts around 1500-1800. I lost weight pretty quickly. At some point in September, some of Julie’s friends from work were talking her into signing up for a 5K in October, and she wanted me to do it with her. At first, I was sure I could run 3 miles, as I had not really ran at all.
At first, I started running just one mile and biking afterward. Then two miles, and finally I was able to do a 5K. About this time, I wasn’t really biking much anymore, as I was focusing on running, since I would be doing races and because it burned calories more quickly. Around the time I did my first 5K race, I also finally hit the 200 lb mark, which I had not previously gotten to. We ran two more Christmas themed 5K races in December. During that month, I reached another mark by getting in the “normal” BMI range; although not with a comfortable margin. In January, I was able to run a 10K race, and this month, I was able to run a 15K race. At the end of the 15K race, I decided that I think I am capable of running another 4 miles, so I am considering running a half marathon (13.1 miles) in April. I still do monitor my calorie count, but I am not that restrictive on my numbers, at least not on purpose. I run 6.2 miles about 3-4 times a week and use the elliptical for 60 minutes on other days. Occasionally, I will run 9.3 miles on my own, but this is a pretty significant time investment, so I do not do this often. My current weight at the time of writing this blog is around 178 lbs. I’m actually not trying to lose weight anymore, but it is difficult to find the right calorie count when I’m burning anywhere between 600-1300 calories from exercising. I sometimes get too full long before I reach my desired intake. Anyway, if I lose more weight, I guess that’s fine, but I don’t want to lose much more at this point. It has been suggested that a way to maintain my weight is to lift weights on off-days from running, but I really don’t know enough about this type of workout. I also prefer the more lean muscle look I have at the moment; although I could use more core exercise. I still have a bit of a belly.
I created a Health and Athletics page, for lack of a better title for it.
So, I guess one of the biggest things socially speaking is that I had a close friend go AWOL. I’m not really going to go into it here, as I got over it like 6 months ago.
Last year, Julie had joined a bowling league team with people she worked with. We were actually bowling with my parents before this, so I continued to do this and hung out after we finished. However, the bowling alley we were going to closed down at the end of 2013, so the team is now defunct. I did buy my own shoes and a ball (nothing special, just a plastic ball). I had some good nights, but I never really did any better than about 130.
The 2013 annual “Very Odom New Year” party at Johnnie’s house sparked a new regular social gathering. We somehow managed to find ourselves attending weekly game nights at Johnnie’s new house. Some game highlights have included Arkham Horror, Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, and Battlestar Galactica (2008) (fun game although I’ve never watched the series). Johnnie always seems to know such interesting people, and I’m pretty comfortable with this group.
We’ve also had a couple fire-pit nights at my place, but for the most part, most activities have been elsewhere.
I’m still involved in Ham Radio, but I still need to do something about my antenna situation. Need all antennas higher and could use an HF vertical antenna. Also need a better solution for rig control/digital modes, as the old laptop I’m currently using puts out a lot of RFI on lower HF bands. These problems need money thrown at them, and I just haven’t made those investments right now. Nonetheless, I am still assisting in giving licensing exam, I still monitor the local 2m repeater, and I still sometimes get on HF with digital modes (mostly JT65 and PSK31).
Unfortunately, I haven’t done anything at all with Astronomy. It is such a shame because the nights are very beautiful here when the clouds aren’t out and low-light pollution areas are very close by. I think I need to surround myself around peers that are also interested in the subject. I am, however, still reading the publications from the Dark Sky Association and Planetary Society. I think my experience with the club in Gainesville left a sour taste.
Despite having access to my Marimba again since moving back to the area, I have not touched the instrument. Again, there is a money issue here, as all my remaining mallets are all from high school and are not in good shape. I would like to get back into this hobby. I believe I could get back into it, but I had more motivation while playing in a group than playing solo (and last I asked about the Pensacola Civic Band, they didn’t seem to need a mallet percussionist, and the guy didn’t even remember me). Still, I would love to get back into this some day…
I somehow managed to buy a brand new Kindle for $29 earlier this year on a super deal, and I have done a fair bit of reading e-books again. Some books I’ve read include Earth Unaware and Earth Afire (still waiting for Earth Awakens in July), I read A Christmas Carol in December (although not my first time reading it, it helped me get into the spirit). Out of curiosity, I somehow ended up reading The Book of Atrus, which turned out much better than I expected. I’m slowly reading The Book of Ti’ana, which hasn’t been as good so far. I think the third/last book in that series will be better. I also read The Hunger Games series somewhere in the mix and a few other classics in between that aren’t coming to mind at the moment. I would like to start reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series after I finish The Myst Reader series, but that looks like it would be a very significant time investment, and I don’t read all that fast while reading fiction.
I’m a bit of a retrogamer. Part of my “Valentine’s Day” was a new Android tablet. I picked up a neat little device direct from China called the JXD S7800B. Although it has some issues and a lot of China hype, it is actually a pretty cool retrogaming device, as well as a decent 7″ Android tablet, once you accept that it isn’t Samsung Galaxy Tab or Google Nexus. It looks very similar to the Wii U gamepad. They are similar in shape, they weigh about the same, but JXD is slightly smaller. I suppose this isn’t necessarily a good thing, since it has further distracted me from my other more productive hobbies. A similar direct from China Android device I got for Christmas is the Timing Power Android Mini PC RK3188. It is one of those Android TV devices, and it is in my bedroom. It has the same chipset as the tablet. I actually wrote a review of this device on Amazon, so I won’t go into anymore detail here.
There are a few other things I could go into. Namely pet related, but it is already late, and as usually, this entry is long enough.