Friday, December 23, 2011


Well, it's been a while. I guess NaNo didn't have quite the lasting effect on my writing habits as I'd hoped.

There's a few things I've been meaning to mention recently and just never got around to doing it. Probably the biggest thing is I realized neither of us posted an update after our New York trip! To be honest, we may have never even mentioned here that we were going to New York. But that's definitely a subject that deserves its own post, so I'll have to get to that later.

Let's see, what else? I chopped my hair off. It's basically a chin-length bob, but since my hair is so thick, it's actually wider than it is long. I honestly don't feel like it's a great look for me, but low-maintenance wins over style in this case. I wish I had the guts to get a pixie cut, but I'm not quite that brave.

My weight-loss has come to a standstill. Actually, that's not true; it's reversed. Not by a ton. I've only put on about five pounds, which considering the fact that, for over two months now, I've completely stopped tracking of my food intake, and my workouts have been sporadic at best, I'm actually pretty satisfied. But I'm not satisfied with how lazy I've been. I keep telling myself that after the holidays I'll get back to it, even while this other part of me -- the part that lost over 50 lbs -- is screaming, "Why wait until then? Start tomorrow. Better yet, start today!" And I'm just not listening.

Anyway . . . tomorrow we'll be heading out of town for Christmas, and I won't be back till after New Year's. Not that I won't have a computer, so maybe I'll see about writing that New York update, among other things.

Happy holidays!

EDIT: I lied, it's not quite chin-length. Just looked in a mirror and realized it only goes just past my ears. The point is, it's as short as I dare go.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaNo & GoodReads

I finished my novel on Saturday. Yay! Final word count was 65,731, for an average of 3460 words per day. Obviously my 10K-day to start helped inflate that, but I do wonder if I could keep up that pace for an entire month. Every year I've done NaNo, I have always finished writing before Thanksgiving, condensing what is officially a 30-day goal -- and sometimes beyond -- into just 2 or 3 weeks. How many stories might I have written by now if I was this productive year-round? Seems like every November (well, the years I actually participate) I remember how much I love it . . . but then it just falls to the wayside again.

Anyway, I spent a good chunk of today doing a different kind of writing: book reviews. I do like writing at least a little something on Goodreads, to explain my star rating if nothing else, but so often I don't do it right away, and then I forget . . . which leads to days like today when I go back and write ten or more reviews at once. I'm determined that eventually they will all have reviews, but considering I still have over 100 books without them, that day is not coming any time soon.

Anyway, here is a list of my most recent reviews, for anyone who might be interested:

The Inheritance Cycle, by Christopher Paolini

The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire

The Talisman, by Stephen King & Peter Straub

Twenties Girl, by Sophie Kinsella

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNo, Day 15

So, here's a screen shot of what my word count graph looks like up to this point in the month:

As you can see, I kinda pounded it out in those first couple weeks. I jumped way ahead of schedule on Day 1 and just kept pushing ahead. Now I've slowed down considerably, though I still anticipate finishing my novel late this week, or possibly early next week. Before Thanksgiving, definitely.

Despite all the preparations I made this year, I've still run into some problems I didn't quite expect, though perhaps I should have. Even if I didn't anticipate what those problems would be, I should have known that it wouldn't just suddenly be easy. Sure, I've accounted for some of the problems I usually have when tackling a project of this size, but being successful in those areas just opens me up to a whole new set of problems.

I'm being intentionally vague, just because to get into specifics would give away certain aspects of the story. And, despite my setbacks, I am determined to actually finish and edit this one into something that I would not be embarrassed to allow people to read, a feat that I have yet to accomplish with any of my previous NaNo attempts. I don't think it will take on quite the same form that I originally envisioned, but I'm still optimistic about the final product.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNo, Day 3

Couple things, before I get into NaNo stuff.

First of all, just watched the Stargate: Atlantis episode, "The Shrine." It was pretty great. Of course, I'm biassed, considering that McKay is my favorite character, so I always love episodes that are centered on him. "Tao of Rodney" is another one of my favorites (and, actually sort of an opposite to this one). But anyway, just felt like sharing a Stargate fangirl moment. I wish that I'd gotten into this series -- well, franchise -- earlier. A couple years ago, Pat and some other friends got me into it. We've watched through all of SG-1 (including the movies), we're currently in the last season of Atlantis, and then I do want to watch Universe when we're done, even though I've heard mixed reviews on it.

Secondly, I went to the Y today for the first time in a while. I've been really slacking the last couple weeks. Actually I could probably go on for an entire blog post about that (and perhaps I will at some point) but today I finally got back to it. Eight-minute runs (3 of them), with two-minute walks in between. I'm slowly working my way up, obviously not running any marathons any time soon. But if eight minutes doesn't seem like much, keep in mind that earlier this year I couldn't even run for a solid minute before needing to take a break.

And now . . . NaNoWriMo! I managed to write 10K words on Day 1, got another 5K yesterday, and 5K today. So, three days in, and I'm 40% to the official goal. I plan to do another 5K day tomorrow (halfway!), and then I'll be slowing down a bit.

Even though it's frowned upon, I did edit a small portion already, to make it suitable for posting on my NaNo profile, at which point I decided I might as well share it here too.



Jennifer Adams is in the Witness Protection Program, but she doesn't remember why. Her only clues are intense, vivid dreams, so strong she could swear they were real. When she starts seeing these visions even when she's awake, she's forced to consider the possibility that her dreams are actually something much more significant.

Now Jennifer is the subject of scrutiny by people she doesn't trust or understand, and suddenly she must question everything she thought she knew about her past and herself. Determined to uncover the truth, she discovers a lie more shocking than she ever imagined.



Jennifer walked down the steps leading away from the building. Caught up in her thoughts, she didn't see him until they had nearly collided. When she saw the face of the person she'd almost run down, she froze.

There were small differences. The kind of minor changes you might expect from someone having aged through his twenties. Subtle lines in the face. The hair was styled differently, shorter than she remembered it. But the curve of his jaw, the angle of his nose, the light in his eyes -- it was unmistakably him.

The man from her dream.

He was staring at her just as intently as she was staring back. This wasn't a random person she just happened to run into. "Mina." His voice caught as he spoke.

"I'm sorry?" She wasn't sure that she'd heard him correctly, or that he was even speaking English.

The man didn't respond, just kept looking Jennifer in the eyes, more intently than she would have liked. Curious as she was to compare the face before her with the one she'd dreamed about the night before, she averted her eyes, suddenly very uncomfortable.

"I wasn't watching where I was going. I'm sorry," she said again. She made a move to step away, but he reached out and grabbed her arm. Jennifer quickly shifted from discomfort to panic.

"Mina, wait."

"My name isn't Mina!" She jerked away from his touch, and grasped her purse more tightly, knowing full well that whatever the man wanted from her, it wasn't her money. She took a couple steps back, and felt a momentary and slight relief that the man stayed where he was. Her unease, however, didn't subside for long. His eyes remained focused on hers, and his lips were two thin lines, pressed together in . . . frustration? Confusion? Anger?

Jennifer quickly turned and began walking away.

"Wait, please," the voice called after her. "I just want to talk to you."

"But why? I'm not who you thought I was." She didn't turn around, and quickened her pace.

"You're lying," he said, more urgently, and Jennifer felt her heart beating faster as his footsteps echoed her own. "I know you recognize me."

It was true, she did. Not from any real memory, but from her vivid dream this morning. If Dr. Talcott was right, it might be a suppressed memory from the time surrounding the incident.

And that meant he was dangerous.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Putting a Price on Nostalgia

Just a few days left till NaNoWriMo. I will NOT be staying up until midnight on the 31st so I can start writing as soon as November begins. I thought about it, considering there's really nothing I need to do on Tuesday, and I thought it might be fun, but I'm just not a night owl. So, instead I'll be going to bed as usual, and then waking up bright and early on Tuesday to get started. (Lucky for me, "bright" and early on November 1st sounds a lot earlier than it really is.)

I'm hoping to knock out 10K on that first day. As I said, I have nothing else on the schedule that day, I'll have the apartment to myself for the majority of it, and I definitely think it's doable, especially considering that I have a really clear idea of how the beginning of the novel is going to go. This will be the most I've ever written in a single day . . . assuming, of course, that I succeed, and I really see no reason why I shouldn't.

In other news, my 10-year reunion has finally been scheduled, and I will most definitely NOT be attending. I was kind of up in the air about it anyway, since I already see a good chunk of my high school friends fairly regularly (most of whom weren't even from my graduating year), and I'm FB friends with most other people I hung out with, so it's not like we've had no contact. There's only really a handful of people I'd be interested in seeing, and of course no guarantee they'd even be there. Not to mention I don't really feel like I've accomplished anything since graduating, which is maybe a stupid reason not to want to go, but I know I can't be alone in that.

Anyway, I just got notification that the date and venue are set, and the price is $50/person. So, $100 for both Pat & I to go. To something I wasn't sure I wanted to go to anyway. So . . . yeah, skipping that. There'll be other reunions, and maybe I'll feel differently in 5 or 10 or 15 years.

Or, ya know, next year, when it's time for Pat's reunion. Though that will be more his decision than mine.

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's That Time Again . . .

Time to make one random post and then disappear for another six weeks, you ask?

Fair question, but no. Time for NaNoWriMo!

I didn't participate last year. I wanted to, but I really didn't have any good ideas, or at least not any ideas that I was excited about. Actually about a week before November started, I had one pretty much handed to me, that I thought had promise, but I just couldn't get into it.

This year, on the other hand . . .

Well, first of all I actually logged onto the forums when they relaunched (every year in October, they wipe the site clean and start over again, to get ready for that year's NaNo), and it was exciting to be swept up in it from the beginning. There was a lot of extra excitement this year, because they switched over from one kind of forum host to another, so everything's even newer and shinier than normal. (It's also causing a fair amount of bugs, but mostly minor inconveniences and features that haven't been implemented yet.)

So, I started looking through a series of novel ideas I had stored away, things that never got very far into the planning stage. At first I thought I'd give last year's idea another go, but quickly decided that if I couldn't get excited about it then, I probably wouldn't get excited about it now. So I looked instead to the ideas I'd had and filed away during those nebulous periods between NaNo's, when the ideas come in small, strange glimpses, but there's no real push to do anything with them.

One idea from this list really jumped out at me, so I went with it. Got quite a bit of planning done for it (more than I've ever done for any project before), and then decided to set it aside for these next couple weeks so I don't get burned out on it before I even start writing.

So, in regards to that 6-week gap . . . I'll probably be posting a bit more frequently with updates. And I'll probably continue posting a bit more frequently even AFTER NaNo, since I'll have gotten into the "writing zone" again.

And then somewhere around January I'll probably go back to a more sporadic schedule.

Update on Pat: very busy at work, lots of overtime, not a lot of down time. So, that's why you haven't seen him around recently. I, on the other hand, have no such excuse.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Social Networking Overload

I've always had a Facebook account, pretty much since it was first introduced at my school (back when you had to be at a valid school to sign up). I also had MySpace, for a while, but since most of my friends were on FB, that was the one I primarily used, and I eventually deleted my MySpace. I think. Actually, it might still be out there, but I really haven't used it since graduating college.

Well, recently I decided to try the new Google+. It seems cool enough. As far as the social aspect, it basically does the same thing, just in different ways. I kinda like the "Sparks," which is basically just a Google news search for a particular subject. So, instead of "liking" a page on FB, you basically create a custom news feed on any subject you want.

But the thing about social networking is, the "best" site is the one all your friends are using. Because, it's not that I like G+ any better or worse than FB, but even if I thought it was by far the superior option, it wouldn't do me any good if only two of my friends are using it. So . . . I check my "Sparks" regularly, and occasionally post a status update. I guess time will tell if it ever gets more use than that.

Yesterday, I finally broke down and created a Twitter account. I didn't jump on the Twitter bandwagon years ago, mostly because I had this misconception that it didn't do you any good if you didn't have a smart phone. I guess whenever I saw people using Twitter (in real life, or on screen), they were always accessing it via their phone, so I just assumed it would be pointless for me, with my standard little 12-button flip phone.

So anyway, I finally created an account yesterday. I'm currently following 19 people/organizations. I also, surprisingly, have 12 followers, only 3 of which are people I know. When I first signed up, Twitter "recommended" a bunch of people for me to follow (even though I had NO reason to follow any of them) so maybe I ended up on people's lists and they just clicked me for the sake of clicking me. /shrug I don't quite get it.

In addition to people I've never met, I'm also being followed by a few organizations I have no interest in. Maybe they just start following everyone they can in hopes that those people will follow them back? Again, I don't get it. But if @cellulite__info and the Plastic Surgery Channel want to follow me, I guess I have no control over that.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

They're More Like Guidelines Than Actual Rules

(Posted this on my SparkPeople blog this morning, but I figured it was worth sharing here as well.)

I'm going to post a picture below, that may be a bit disturbing for some people, because it's a picture of an obese person. I know my friends will be understanding, but out there in the real world, well . . . we all know the kind of stigma associated with being obese. So, here it is . . . you've been warned . . .

Wait, what?! She's obese?!

This was a picture of me taken yesterday. I weighed in at 169.5 lbs. My Wii Fit tells me that my BMI is 30.04. A few tenths of a pound away from being, no longer obese, but merely overweight. I'm finally there! And I'm ecstatic! (I know I don't look it in the picture, but really, I am!)

But come on, seriously? I know I've made this argument before, and I'm certainly not the only person who feels this way, but . . . SERIOUSLY?! I know my body is far from perfect. There's still fat layered over all the muscles I'm slowly developing, some areas more than others. I'm definitely not at a healthy weight yet. I'm not saying I am. But is this really what obesity looks like?

Apparently so.

Again, not to downplay a serious issue, but if half of the "obese" people in the country look like this, than this obesity epidemic isn't nearly as bad as everyone's making it out to be. Let's focus on the underlying issues -- lack of nutritional awareness (or caring) and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle -- and not worry so much about the actual statistics. Because not everyone who is "healthy" is really healthy. The lifestyle that has brought us to this point doesn't JUST affect the obese -- we should ALL be trying to make healthier choices. And I wish that there was a little more focus on THAT, and a little less focus on the end result, which is different for everyone.

Sure, all these things are related, so if "the obesity epidemic" prompts more people to start making positive changes, then that's great. The issue I have is with being labeled. By a doctor, an insurance company, or just a voice in my head, that says I won't be healthy until I reach 140 lbs because that's what the BMI scale says is healthy.

Like a friend reminded me last night, that scale is more a guideline than a rule. But it's a guideline that causes a lot of people an awful lot of grief.

I just keep thinking of a Dr. Cox quote from Scrubs: statistics mean nothing to the individual. I know I'm leading a healthy lifestyle. My body hasn't quite caught up yet, but after treating it badly for the last 10-15 years, that shouldn't come as a surprise. The fact remains that I AM making healthier choices than a good chunk of the population. And yet, based on the picture above, I am having serious doubts that I can lose another 30 lbs doing what I'm doing. I'm not saying it can't be done. But, without taking extreme measures that I'm just not willing to take, I may never be "healthy." I'll just be one more overweight person in the world, at least according to the statistics.

So, I guess if there's one point I'm trying to make here, it's this . . .

Screw the statistics!

I will continue to make healthy choices and live my life. It's all any of us can do. If I make it to "healthy," then great. If not, I just hope I never have to deal with people who treat the guideline as a rule.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My wife is awesome!

The title pretty much says it all, but I'll expound on that here. Over the past 6-7 months, she's been really watching how much she eats and getting a lot more exercise. Those are the 2 categories I'm focusing on for this post.

On the exercise front, I'm probably close to being in the best shape of my life. Yes, that's right, I said "I". As a result of Charleen getting more exercise, I've been getting more exercise. People who have been around me for a while have probably heard me say, "I miss Gym Class". Well, it's true. As soon as I hit college I started to notice that I just didn't have the endurance that I had in high school, and I realized that the main thing missing was my daily exercise from P.E. As college went on and I actually had to devote time to studies (read Jr and Sr projects) things got even worse. Then I started exercise dropped down to zip.

Fast forward to 5 years later and I am now hitting the Y 3 times a week and riding my bike 1-3 times a week. I have my wife to thank for that. As most people know, having a partner to work out with can make all the difference in keeping you accountable and continuing to go. I don't know for certain, but I think in the past two months, I've skipped only 1 workout. The next scheduled day, I was right back at the Y with Charleen. So, for being my reason to go to the Y, even on days I don't really feel like it, she is awesome.

On to food! Charleen is awesome for a few reasons regarding food. First, she has been doing fantastic with watching what and how much she eats. We used to eat out quite a bit and when we didn't, we ate a lot of boxed dinners which are horrible for you. This leads me into number two which is that she is cooking most of our food. She's gotten (much to her surprise I think) to be quite the cook and has been experimenting with a lot more foods, but most of what we eat at home is now mostly made from scratch. Third, she's gotten me to start watching what I eat a bit more. I'm still at that point in my life where I'm not being told by a doctor to watch what I eat, but I'm sure in another 10 years or so, I'll be a bit more restricted on what I can and can't eat. Cholesterol/blood sugar issues run in the family so I may as well try to get a bit of a head start on eating a little healthier.

The biggest food category where I think she's awesome however; is in keeping track of what she eats. Forgive me. I'm going to ramble on just a little bit more. She's been using for months now to keep track of her daily calories. Now, Charleen's a very organized person. There's an episode of Friends where Monica spends 8 hours putting together a binder with possible jobs for Chandler and he ends up picking the first one in the binder. He apologizes for making her waste her time and her response is, "you call 8 hours alone with my label maker wasted time?". That's Charleen. She likes organizing stuff so when she was being so organized about tracking her meals, I thought little of it. Well, I'm trying to do the opposite of Charleen with my weight. I'm extremely light for my height and I could probably stand to gain about 20 lbs, though I'd honestly probably be happy with just 10. Well, I've been doing some strength training and realizing the more I look into it that I probably don't eat enough to promote weight/muscle gain. So this weekend I took the plunge and had Charleen help me start tracking my food to see just how much I'm eating and how much I should be eating. Oh My God!!! I will say here that I'm not nearly as organized as Charleen, but holy crap is that a pain in the butt! I'm still not quite done with getting all of my stuff in for Saturday and today is Monday. So, very long story short. My wife is even more awesome for putting up with meticulously tracking the food she's been eating for the last several months.

Oh and for reaching (and passing) the 40 lbs lost mark. /cheer!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nom Nom Nom

Pat and I bought a grill this weekend (with part of our B3 store credit). It's just a tiny one, like the kind you would take camping, but it's just for the two of us, and needs to fit in the apartment when we're not using it, so tiny is good for now.

Tonight we tried it out for the first time. It smelled SO good! I always love the smell of a grill -- even just the charcoal smelled good, before any food was added! -- but I think it smelled EXTRA good this time because I knew it was OUR grill, and we can now have yummy grilled stuff all summer long, any time we want. This time we cooked up some Andouille sausages. We plan to fire it up again this weekend for hot dogs.

I'm also looking forward to experimenting a bit, once we get the hang of using this little guy. A couple friends of ours brought shishkebabs to the 4th of July BBQ we went to (it was BYO meat) and they looked SOOOO good! I plan on looking into some good healthy recipes that use the grill, instead of just the standard burgers, brats, etc. (Of course, I know Pat's looking forward to that part of it!)

Feel free to share your favorite grill recipes so we have different ideas to try!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Devil Colony

A new James Rollins book! Hurrah!

Waaaaaaay back here, I gave a quick review of The Doomsday Key. Now, TWO YEARS LATER, the next book in the series has finally been released. It was supposed to come out last summer, but due to various things he had to push back the release date. Which I was fine with. I'd much rather see him take his time to produce a quality book than rush it out and have it be sloppy. But, that doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed to get a new James Rollins book last year. He is definitely my favorite author. Some of his books are better than others, but there hasn't been a single one that I didn't enjoy. As I said two years ago: Dan Brown was my introduction to the thriller genre; James Rollins was the one who got me hooked.

Anyway. I digress.

So, The Devil Colony finally came out earlier this week. I was at the bookstore when they opened at 10am, and finished it at about 8:30 that evening. I rarely buy books, and pretty much never buy one without having read it first . . . but Rollins is the exception to the rule.

It was great, as I knew it would be. Not my favorite in the series, which was slightly disappointing, though I don't know exactly what I was hoping for that would have earned it that title.

Another good thing about this one is that I think the story stands on its own pretty well, moreso than some of the more recent books in the series. Make no mistake, there are references to past events, but nothing that you need to be intimately familiar with. Of course, I personally think the whole series is worth reading (as are all of his stand-alone novels), and reading this one first could make some of the earlier ones less enjoyable. But, it's an entertaining story, if you're looking for something to read this summer.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Wow, great streak this morning . . .

Hot for Teacher
Back in Black
One Way or Another
Hit Me with Your Best Shot
Jessie's Girl
Keep on Loving You
You Shook Me All Night Long
Don't Stop Believin'

If only it would have gone to Summer of '69 after that. Or maybe some classic Bon Jovi.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mini Bookworms

So, I was out for my walk today, and there's a playground that I go by. It was pretty quiet this morning, but as I got closer I realized that it wasn't actually empty. There were two girls there (in different areas so I don't know if they were together or not) and they were both reading. It just so reminded me of something I would have done at that age, heading to the playground with a book in hand after having been instructed to get out and enjoy the fresh air, and then sitting and reading instead of playing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Apparently a good day for our blog

Totally not trying to steal Charleen's thunder because her posts today are awesome! I just happened to write a blog post today before I found out about hers.

Well, this year my goal has been to post more often...I was doing really well to start but now it's been over a month since I last posted. So, what's been happening?

First things first, the weather's been nicer. A lot nicer! Being in the midwest it's bounced back and forth a lot, but overall it's been pretty nice and we've been spending a lot more time outside with our new bikes. Yup, that's right Char and I got bikes and we're using them quite a bit. There's a trail near here that we've been riding on once or twice a week. I even rode my bike into work this morning for the first time! It's about 8 miles and took me a little over a half hour. I'm hoping to do that a lot over the summer.

Let's see, we went back to our hometown a little over a week ago and "went to" the Lilac Day Parade. We're from Lombard and it's the Lilac Villiage. Every year they have a parade that's about 3 hours long that just about everyone in town goes to...and then some. I think the estimate I heard is that usually there are about 55,000 people in attendance (pretty good for a town of about 34,000 last I knew). Anyway the reason that "went to" is in quotes a couple sentences back is because the weather on the day of the parade was absolutely lousy for parade weather. It was windy and cold and misting out all day,so we went to our friend Lynsey's place that is right on the parade route and watched through her bay window. We still saw everything, but it wasn't quite the same as being on the curb on a bright sunny day. Still fun to hang out with good friends though.

And finally, we finished watching Stargate SG-1 this past week including both of the movies that follow the series. We started watching them about 2 years ago with some friends back home. I had seen most of the first 4 seasons when they originally aired, but didn't keep up and Charleen hadn't seen any of it. We both enjoyed it a lot. Now to decide what series in our long list to watch next. I've started watching Eurika and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (yes I like anime), I'd also like to watch Warehouse 13 and Big Bang Theory. Then of course there's How I Met Your Mother, and catching back up on Castle and NCIS, but none of those are available for instant view with Netflix. So yeah, that's the short list of TV series that I'd like to watch.

Anyway, that's just a little bit of what's been going on lately. Lots of getting outside mixed in with some healthy TV watching. :D Oh, and we're planning on getting Slider in on some of the outdoor action soon. We'll see if he can get over his dislike of his harness if it means that he can actually walk around outside. Should be interesting.


Two posts in one day, oh my! I guess this is what happens when I actually leave the house -- relatively interesting things happen to me ("relatively" being the key word in that statement).

So. I've been doing some running around. Pat actually rode his bike in to work today (I'm sure he'll tell you all about that at some point), so I've been taking advantage of having the car WITHOUT having to wake up crazy early to drive him to work: yay! AND, without having to keep tabs on the clock for fear of forgetting to pick him up later: double yay!

Well the first thing I did that's worth noting is I drove out to the bike trail that we use, but instead of biking, I was running. Running is a new thing for me, and at this point I'm actually doing more walking than running, but if you're actually interested in reading about all that, I direct you to my Spark blog posts here and here.

And if you skim any of my other blog posts over the past week or so, you'll notice that I've been a little apathetic lately. Basically I feel like my results aren't showing anywhere other than the scale. Not that I'm not happy about losing the pounds. But I feel like my body shape isn't changing as rapidly as I'd like. I'm almost halfway to my goal (can you frickin' believe it?!?!) and I just don't look much different than I did when I started. But, of course, I'm my own worst critic, and I see myself every day, so who am I to judge.

Well, I bought some new capris about a week ago. The ones that I had were getting pretty loose, and I figured they would only get looser over the summer, so I decided to go ahead and buy some new ones to help bridge the gap through to autumn, when I'm hoping I'll be able to buy new jeans that are a couple sizes smaller than the ones I'm currently wearing. And, while the 16's that I tried on certainly fit, the 14's weren't too tight, so I decided to go with the 14's, knowing that I'll only be losing more weight as the summer goes on.

Fast forward to today, shortly after publishing my previous blog entry. I was wearing my new size-14 capris, and I had to go to the bathroom. (This is important to the story, I swear.) Momentarily forgetting that these were my new capris, I went to pull them down without unfastening them, as I can with my old pair. And . . . they came down.

Let me repeat. I pulled down my size-14 capris that I JUST BOUGHT A WEEK AGO without unbuttoning or unzipping them.

Maybe I was bloated when I went shopping before. Who knows. But whatever the reason, I suddenly felt sure that I could fit into a size 12. I had to go back to Kohl's to exchange something else today anyway, so I decided to exchange my capris as well. Went to the store and, sure enough, those size-12's fit. As before, they're a little tight, and I probably wouldn't buy them if I was planning on staying this size, but I'm not, so I did, and I'm wearing them right now! Me! Size 12's! Purchased in the regular-sized-people section and everything!

My current full-length jeans are still 16's, and they still fit pretty comfortably, so I can't really say I'm out of the plus-size section officially. But, I can say that I'm done shopping in the plus-size section, because I will certainly be ready for 14's or 12's (or, depending on the brand/fit/etc, maybe even 10's!) by the next time I buy jeans.

This realization put me in such a great mood that I spent about another 30 minutes wandering the non-plus-size section looking for other non-plus-size things that would fit me. I managed to restrain myself. I made an exception for the capris, but buying pretty much an entire new wardrobe is going to be expensive enough once I get there, without picking up all the in-between sizes along the way.

B3 is Awesome!

(First off, B3 is Bed Bath and Beyond, for those who may not have had a friend who worked there at one point and just got used to hearing it called that. Now, to the point.)

So about four and a half years ago, when we were in the wedding planning phase, we registered at B3. We had gotten two different sets of dishes passed down to us from two different family members -- both "everyday use" and "fancy guest" -- so we didn't really need to register for the traditional wedding china. What we did need was silverware to go with said dishes. So we registered for a fairly simple-looking flatware set, along with a fancier gold-trimmed flatware set to go with the "fancy guest" dishes . . . which, for the record, we have never used, and honestly they aren't even really my style, but at least we'll be prepared if we ever need to host a really fancy dinner someday.

Anyway, we got the simple silverware. We've been using it quite happily for years. But out of the fancy stuff (and this is one of those flatware sets so fancy that each place-setting needs to be purchased individually), we only got a 4-piece serving set. None of the actual silverware. And yes, we did go for a massive shopping trip after the wedding hoopla had died down to buy things that we hadn't received, but basically we decided that we didn't really need fancy silverware. But we still had this one serving set. That didn't match any of our other flatware. And we decided we were going to return it . . . and then somehow it never happened. And for years, every time we move, I come across this serving set, and think, "Damn, why didn't we ever return this?" And after our two-year anniversary when our registry was purged from their system, I figured it was too late. But I've always meant to go in and ask if, even though it was years past the purchase and I didn't have a receipt and didn't really have high hopes, was it possible to return it?

Well, long story short . . . four years, one month, and ten days after receiving said gift, I now have a B3 store credit for $69.54.

Remember in my last post how I mentioned there was all sorts of fancy kitchen gadgets I wished I had, but didn't want to spend money on because I didn't really need any of it . . . ?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I made a pretty good breakfast this morning. Something I'll definitely have to try again, particularly on the weekend so we can both sit down and enjoy it.

Basically I made a skillet with potato, onion, scrambled egg, and a little cheese. The potatoes were a little hard for my taste, so next time I'll have to either chop them up smaller, or let them cook for a while on their own before adding the onion. Anyway, I just cooked those up for a bit, then shoved them to the side and added my egg to the pan. Some of it ran over to where the veggies were, but I was able to contain most of it and scrambled it up. Then I mixed it all together anyway, but I just didn't know how the egg would have cooked had it been mixed with the potato and onion all together (though I may try that next time just to see how it turns out). Then I turned off the heat, added some shredded cheese to the top and let it melt before dishing it out onto my plate.

It was really good, except like I said I would have preferred the potatoes to be a little more well-done. I also think it could have used a little green pepper in with the other veggies. I'm not really big on green (or red or yellow or orange) pepper, but sometimes I get a craving for the flavor of it, and this dish could have used a little of that flavor. It's bizarre to get a craving for something I don't really like, but it's only once in a while, and with certain dishes, and in small amounts.

It's kind of funny, I really enjoy cooking, and I never thought I'd hear myself say that. I always hated cooking when I first started living on my own, but a lot of what I made was stuff like hamburger helper or mac and cheese. It's easy, sure, but it's boring as hell. I don't like standing around, doing nothing except making sure something doesn't burn or boil over. I like keeping busy in the kitchen . . . but not being frantic, which is sometimes a fine line, particularly when I'm trying to make multiple things and make sure they're all ready at the same time. But it's just funny to look at how much more comfortable with cooking I've become.

Now that I'm trying to eat healthier, I'm always looking for new recipes that will accommodate my somewhat picky tastes. And every time I try one, I'm thinking of ways I could tweak it for next time. Used to be that I would follow a recipe to the letter and that was that, and I'd freak out at phrases like "a dash of" or "season to taste" -- anything that didn't give me a set amount to follow. Now, I definitely appreciate having a recipe as a starting point, but I have no qualms changing things to suit my own tastes.

I wish that I would have gotten to this point before we got married, because it would have made registering for gifts so much easier. There are so many things around the kitchen that we registered for and have never used. Various cooking utensils, oven pans of every imaginable size and shape, a gigantic stainless steel pot with strainer/steamer accessories (okay, that one we've used . . . probably a total of twice.) I mean, they're good to have, I guess. But I'd trade them all for a food processor in a heartbeat. I don't want to buy one because I get along fine without it, but there are definitely times I wish I had one, and those times are far more common than the times I think, "I'm so glad I have six different types of baking pans."

Hmm, this is not at all how I expected this post to go after starting with, I made a pretty good breakfast.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Four Months Down

Four months down, and my weight-loss is coming along nicely. At this rate, I'll reach my goal by the end of the year, but I know that's not how these things work, and I'm not expecting that. Currently, I lose anywhere between 1 and 3 lbs a week, depending on the week. But even if I never hit one of those dreaded plateaus everyone always complains about, I know it will eventually slow down. It's fine to be losing that much when I'm 50 lbs overweight. My body's going to reject my efforts if I try to lose that much when I'm only 15 lbs overweight. So eventually I'll be losing only 1 lb a week, and then maybe even just 2-3 lbs a month, until I gradually ease into my new weight and maintain it.

Besides, my REAL goal isn't even to hit a certain number. My real goal is to be healthy, to look and feel great. I'm aiming for 140 because I need something to aim for. For me (little 5'3" me), that's the high end of "healthy" on the BMI scale. But who knows. I might get to 150 and be perfectly healthy. I might get to 140 and realize I really should lose another 15 lbs. And as I get closer I'll start paying more attention to other things that are a more accurate representation of my health than the number on the scale, to figure out where my "magic number" really is.

Anyway, thanks for all the support so far, and sorry my blog posts have been so single-minded lately.

But at least I'm not talking about World of Warcraft. Oops, I mean . . .

Kidding, honey!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Worst Manicure Ever!

Okay, so way back here, I mentioned how I'd miraculously, through no conscious effort, stopped gnawing at my nails, and maybe I should get a manicure as a reward, and for extra incentive to keep up the good habit.

Well of course it happened that, just as I was thinking I should call for an appointment, I'd notice a rough spot on one of my nails, and end up ripping the entire tip away. So then I'd be extra careful about all the others, trimming them at the first sign of trouble, while I waited for that nail to grow back to a healthy length . . . and then I'd tear off another one. It was a vicious cycle. Apparently my habits hadn't transformed as completely as I'd thought.

So anyway, this week I got all my nails so there's at least SOME bit of white at the tip (though a couple weren't quite as long as I would have liked), and with Easter and seeing family this weekend, I figured, this is the time. Called on Monday, got an appointment for this afternoon.

Oh. My. God.

The woman who did my nails should NOT be doing nails. Her hands shook really bad the whole time. It wasn't a huge deal for the massaging and lotioning and filing. A little more time-consuming than normal (particularly for the filing), but it was fine. But when it came time to actually apply the nail polish . . . I was doing my best not to cringe the whole time. Even after using polish remover and the little pointy tool they use to clean up the edges, it was really bad. I mean, the left hand pretty much looked like I'd done it myself (and the right hand pretty much looked like I'd done it myself if I was ambidextrous). I kind of wish I'd taken a picture, but within an hour of getting home I'd started picking at the uneven polish, and quickly decided to run out for some nail polish remover just to get rid of it all.

I have no idea if this shaking thing is a new development, if it's a temporary condition, or maybe they were just short-staffed today and she doesn't normally do nails. I have no idea what the circumstances were. And I really don't mean to be rude about it. But it was just really hard to believe, as I sat there watching, that I was paying for this.

And of course I did pay. A part of me really wishes that I would have put up some kind of argument, but I didn't. I paid the bill, and even left a (small) tip. I felt terrible spending my money on such an unprofessional-looking job, but I'm just not a confrontational person. And she was very nice. She just has no business being a manicurist.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gold Selling Will Never Die

I'll warn you, this is a long and roundabout train of thought that eventually led me to the title's conclusion, but it got me thinking for a while so I decided to make a blog post out of it.

When wow first came out (yes, I've been playing since shortly after release), gold wasn't hugely important. The only real gold sink I remember was an epic land mount. At that time it cost 1000 gold. Back then, that was a lot of money, but it wasn't hugely necessary. Sure it feels slow now, but you had a 160% run speed mount at 40 and that was all you really needed. There were those that had the 200% speed mounts, but they were the ones who had the time to sit and grind out farming ore or runecloth and slowly acquire the gold needed. Everything else you needed (i.e. gear) came from running instances and eventually raiding. Any good gear from professions was bound to the crafter. There was no need for massive amounts of gold for anything really.

When Burning Crusade hit, it felt like gold was falling from the least at first. The cost for the epic ground mounts was dropped to something like 100-200 gold and this was easily made just from leveling through the first 2 zones. It was pretty crazy to those of us who had been playing for years. I'm pretty sure that this was when a lot of gear from professions was made Bind on Equip so there was somewhere to spend that gold. This was also when 2 big gold sinks were introduced. The first was pretty mandatory. At level 70 you could buy the first tier of flying skill. For 1000 gold you could fly at 160% running speed...that's right, if you wanted to go somewhere that didn't require flying, you still used your ground mount because it was faster. (By the way, I'm extremely glad that they changed the first tier of flying to be the same speed as epic ground mounts) The second gold sink was Epic Flying. For 5000 gold you could fly at 280% running speed. You want to talk about speed? Not only could you fly over things that were in the way of a ground mount, but you could do it at ridiculous speed! In addition to getting around waaaaaay faster than you could before, you had access to certain cool epic mounts that you had to have the epic skill to ride. Nether drakes were the big one in this department.

So even though gold seemed to be raining down in abundance, there were a lot more things to spend it on. Flying mounts were mandatory for accessing certain zones and instances, and for those who wanted to gear up quickly, there were crafted items that you could buy that were on par with some of the gear you could get in instances. There were plenty of outlets for your sudden influx of extra income.

Enter the gold sellers. I'm sure they existed in Vanilla, but either I was just ignorant of it or they weren't nearly as widespread with their advertising as they are now. The notion of buying gold isn't without its appeal. I was one of the people who found a niche I had an advantage in and spent hours grinding out money in order to have my epic flying skill by the time the nether drakes were released. I don't even want to know how many hours I spent farming the eels in the lake next to Shatrath for primal water. My main at the time was a warlock. I had a swim speed enchant, underwater breathing, and the ability to dot up 5 or 6 targets at once without ever stopping for mana. Anyone who tried farming that area when I was there didn't stay long. Anyway, my point is that I definitely considered the idea of buying gold from someone. After all, I was spending real time to grind out the gold, why shouldn't I spend real money to save real time. Seemed a fair exchange to me. Well, I never did and the main reason was because I don't think I could really justify spending the money on something like that. It's the same reason that I've been thinking about changing my Draenei mage into a Gnome mage for about 5 months...can I really justify spending the money on it? So, I finished grinding out my gold and had my mount. I was glad I made the decision I did.

Later I found out where a lot of the gold from these gold sellers was coming from. Hacked accounts. I began hearing more and more stories of key loggers and people having their accounts hacked into and all of their stuff stolen. Some may argue that they're just data files and it's not real money, but as I pointed out earlier, it's still real time that people put into getting these things so it most definitely stealing. I'm extremely glad that I didn't take the step to buying gold before I heard all this. I wouldn't have been happy with myself if I had taken part in such a system. For me, knowing (or rather not knowing) where that gold is coming from ends any internal debate about gold buying, but it doesn't mean I don't understand the allure of the convenience.

Well, we are now in the game's 3rd expansion and the in-game economy is almost a game within itself. There are literally people who play the game simply to play the Auction House. Taking it to that extreme seems silly to me, but to each their own. Anyway, there are more gold sinks than ever in the game now. I'm not even talking about the obvious aesthetic gold sinks like the Sandstone Drake potion. I'm talking about the ones that are mandatory depending on what you want to do in game. Want to raid? Better drop a couple thousand gold on epic BoEs, high end enchants, and flasks. For example, on my server, flasks for a single night of raiding cost about 500 gold. Multiply that by how many nights a week you raid and it adds up right quick to the point where you end up spending a lot of your "play" time earning gold to play the way you want.

Recently, an upcoming change was announced that drastically lowered the vendor price of cut uncommon gems. Now while this may seem like a small thing, it's already had a drastic impact on the ore economy. There were a lot of people, myself included, that were making a good deal of money by prospecting, cutting, and vendoring gems from obsidium ore. This includes the ore farmers who knew they could get a minimum amount of gold per stack of ore. I loved it. In the last month, I found someone who had a large supply of ore and I would buy a couple hundred stacks from him at a time. I had a macro set up so that I could bring my laptop out to the other room while watching TV and hit 1 button over and over to prospect all my ore. I'd then have my jewelcrafter cut as many of 1 kind of gem as I could (while I walked away from the computer) and vendor all of them. All in all, I could make about 1200 gold while sitting around watching an episode of Stargate without having to pay attention to what I was doing at all. It was pretty nice. I could buy as much ore as I wanted to prospect this way and could spend very little time in front of the computer still making lots of gold. / was nice the 2 weeks it lasted for me.

My point about the jewelcrafting change isn't to whine or rage over the change. My point is that this last weekend I spend several hours farming ore, to level my warrior's blacksmithing, that I could have previously bought without a second thought in no time at all. With my primary source of in game income gone, it made me realize just how much gold I was spending on things like raiding and alts and that I needed to now figure out another way to make at least as much as I was spending for raiding. That unless I found another way to make money through the AH or some other quick method, I was going to have to spend time again grinding mobs or flying around gathering and take that time away from my "enjoyable" time playing a game. It made me realize that though I will never buy gold because I know that the source is less than reputable...others will. Gold selling will never die as long as there are fairly high mandatory costs for playing how you want to play. Though I will not be one of them, there will always be people willing to pay to avoid having to spend their precious play time "working" in game.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Four Years

A TJ-esque conversation post:

(as we are putting shoes on to head out for dinner)
Pat: Oh crap, I was going to shave.
Me: Go ahead . . .
(Pat walks toward the bathroom)
Me: . . . I'll just STARVE while I'm waiting!
Pat: Yup, we've been married four years . . .

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools

Even though I'm not playing WoW anymore, Blizzard usually has some pretty fun April Fool's jokes so I decided to go check out the website. I must say, Crabby is pretty funny. Reminds me of the Family Guy episode (the one where it was all a dream . . . I mean, a simulation). "I see you're trying to take over the world. Can I help?" "Go away, paperclip! Nobody likes you!"

Anyway, I just had to post the funniest WoW April Fool's joke ever (at least in my mind):

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 1: Fail (Week 13: Major Success!)

Well my first day trying to adhere to my new schedule -- and only a half-day schedule -- was without success. I slept an hour past when I was supposed to, and that pretty much shattered my momentum.

When it comes to food, I've gotten really good about, if I have a bad day or make a bad decision, not letting it completely destroy me. In the past I've been one of those people who tries to diet for a few days and then eats an entire pizza on day 3 and just falls back into old habits from there. This time around, I refuse to do that. One bad meal, day, week . . . hell, I could fall off the wagon for three months . . . but it's still no reason to give up on the rest of my life. I'm going to get this weight off, it's just a matter of how long it takes.

Anyway, I clearly have not yet learned to apply this same principle to other aspects of my life. The "all-or-nothing" mentality prevailed. Considering that my schedule only covers a small portion of the day, you'd think that I could have just moved everything down an hour. Wake up at 8:30, breakfast at 9, workout at 9:30, etc. But of course that's not what happened.

The old me would make excuses for myself. The new me . . . well, I'll still make the excuses, but I at least recognize that it's still 100% my fault (or, without the guilt trip, my CHOICE) that I got nothing done today.

Today's excuse being . . . I hit a major milestone on my weight-loss: 197 lbs! (Yes, I'm using specific numbers now.) Finally, after three months, I've made it under 200 lbs for the first time in years!

For the past two Mondays I've weighed in at 200 lbs exactly, so I knew I was close. Truth be told, I even peeked at the scale and discovered the news late last week, since last Monday's weight was due to a conscious choice not to count my calories for a 4-day span the previous week (long story for another day). So, I didn't know what that scale would say last week. I wasn't surprised that it didn't go down, and was pretty pleased that I'd at least been able to maintain . . . and after a few days back on track, I was just too curious to see if I'd finally made it to 199. Which, turns out, I had!

So technically, I already knew that I'd broken the 200-lb barrier. But it wasn't official until today. So after my weigh in I spent more time than usual online, posting the news in various places, reading responses, replying to said responses . . . all the usual stuff that gets me into trouble, turning 10 minutes at the computer into 2 hours. Between that, and already feeling off due to waking up late . . . yeah. Schedule out the window. Dirty dishes in the sink. Random crap everywhere else.

But . . . tomorrow's a new day. A more productive one, hopefully. Back when I was playing WoW, Tuesday was always my most productive day of the week since the game would usually be down for maintenance. Let's see if I can channel some of that old Tuesday energy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Behind in EVERYTHING!!!

How is it possible, when you have no solid responsibilities, to feel like you're behind in everything? Actually I think I just answered my own question. Key word: solid. No solid responsibilities. I don't have a job. I don't have a reason to get out of bed and start my day at any given time. I have things I want to accomplish personally (mainly reading and exercising) and things that I need to do to make a contribution to our home (mainly cleaning of various sorts), but again, nothing solid. Nothing with a deadline.

What happens is, I get up, waste time on the computer, get breakfast. Well, then I need something to entertain me while I'm eating. When it comes to entertainment, I'd much rather read than watch TV, but it's hard to read and eat at the same time, so instead I pull up Netflix. A sitcom is about 20 minutes long without commercials, but then I'll usually watch another episode. Or two. Or three. I don't intend to spend all morning in front of the TV, it just happens. And then I think, okay, time to get busy . . . but I just keep getting sidetracked by one thing after another. I try to clean up the living room, but the first thing I pick up reminds me of something else I wanted to do. Or I'll bring it to the room it belongs in, and then see something there that requires my attention. Oh, and should probably start thinking about lunch. I still haven't worked out good lunch ideas for myself, let me check the MFP forums for ideas. An hour and a half later, I still haven't eaten. And, oh right, the kitchen, I was supposed to do dishes. Well, let me just get lunch first. And of course I'll turn the TV back on. Only one episode this time, I swear. Now, there was just something on my mind that I was going to do, why can't I remember what it was? Maybe if I retrace my steps, I'll think of it again. Back at the computer . . .

*keys in the lock* Oh . . . it's 4:00 already?

I'm exaggerating. But only slightly. It's more the laziness than the scatterbrained issue (though there are definitely elements of both).

Leaving aside the long-distance relationship for the moment, the time in my life when I was happiest was when I was in college. I LOVED college. Loved it so much that it breaks my heart a little at the beginning of each semester when people I know are getting ready to begin their classes (and, usually, not too happy about it). Though I would certainly do my share of complaining if I were in their place, I'm sure, I would still be far happier and more satisfied if I were. For many reasons, but what I miss most right now is the structure.

So, I've decided to make myself a schedule. I've only got my mornings mapped out right now, but I really think it will help. Here's what I've got so far:

Alarm goes off at 7:30 - allowing half an hour for waking up and morning internet routine
8:00 - breakfast + ONE episode on Netflix
8:30 - short morning workout
9:00 - shower (unless I'm going to the Y later, in which case I'd skip it and shower after that)
9:30 - clean (do dishes, clean counters, minor tidying . . . I'll probably make a day-by-day list of what rooms/tasks to focus on)
10:30 - snack + free time (probably internet)
11:00 - main workout OR if it's not a workout day, read

That's all I've got so far. I figure I'll try it for a couple days and see how it goes. There are just so many things that I do that are time sinks and I don't realize it. For example, this blog entry, I think I've been working on for about half an hour now. (Sad, isn't it? This is no great masterwork, after all.) Or getting sucked into "just one more episode" on Netflix. Or reading "just one more forum thread" on MFP. But really, any time I write anything, whether it's a blog post, or a book review on GR, or a forum post on MFP . . . because I put far more thought into my words than I probably should.

With that in mind, I'm not going to come up with a good way to end this, but rather just hit "publish" and go to bed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quick WoW Update

Blusummers is my main focus for raiding. My plan is to play as Arcane while keeping a frost build as backup for specific places. The adds on Magmaw and those goblins in Throne of the Tides come to mind. I still need to get a new wand, but otherwise he's doing pretty well as far as gear is concerned. The guild has taken down the first boss in both Blackrock Depths and Bastion of Twilight as well as the PvP boss in Baradin Hold. It's been a lot of fun so far and we've got lots more raid content to go. kind of taking a bit of a back seat right now. I decided when this expansion started that I would only "focus" on 2 of my characters at a time. I've got a pretty much full server of alts, but if I tried to focus on any more than that none of them would get anywhere. This doesn't mean that I wouldn't play any of my other toons, but I just wouldn't really focus on gearing or in-depth play-style. Well, I originally intended to keep Squirrelz fairly well geared once I got Blu raid ready. Then this other guy showed up and stole my attention.

Steelblu is now my secondary focus. I really enjoy PvP as Arms and tanking in my Prot spec. This was the toon that I started with Charleen's Priest in order to level through PvP and Dungeons. Well, after the newness of the expansion wore out. Charleen pretty much got burned out on WoW. I'm pretty sure her account has even expired by now. She still plans to come back and play every now and again when the bug bites her, but it'll probably be a while. Anyway, I've been continuing along leveling through PvP and tanking in the dungeon finder and I'm having a blast. He's level 44 now and in the long term, I'm looking forward to getting to 85 to get into some arenas and rated battlegrounds with some other folks in my guild. For right now though, my sights are set on level 49 when I'll be able to charge in combat and will finally be able to say hi to those darn hunters after they disengage away from me...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Who is Blusummers?

This is a very long Warcraft post. You have been warned.

Blusummers is having a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. I don’t know if I want to spec primarily Arcane or Frost. Blu has pretty much always been a frost mage so I never thought I’d really have to worry about this decision, but Deathwing’s emergence shook up a lot more than just the landscape. Bear with me as I try to organize my thoughts.

As I said, Blu has almost always been a frost mage. Leveling, all through Burning Crusade, and for the beginning of WotLK. Once the guild I was in started peeking into raids in Wrath, I switched to arcane because there was a massive difference in DPS between frost and arcane. Frost was not raid viable at that time. It just wasn’t. I don’t remember, but I think fire may have not been doing so well either.

What I took away from that time was that overall, frost was more fun for me, but so crippled that I was hurting the group if I didn’t spec arcane. I say overall it was more fun, but there were a couple things I liked about arcane. I liked that it had more of a rotation than frost. (At the time frost’s rotation was frostbolt followed by more frostbolt, thrilling huh?) I also liked that arcane had different rotations to fit the situation. I don’t mean AoE vs single target, I mean that the highest DPS rotation was also the worst DPM meaning that if the fight was only going to last another 30 seconds, you switched to your highest damage rotation and could end up oom at the end of the fight knowing that you did what you could to use all your mana up to put out as much damage as possible. I still liked frost for the control it had for soloing and I liked it best, but arcane wasn’t so bad.

Then the cataclysm hit. Talent trees got refined and mastery was added to the game. Frost’s mastery increases damage against frozen targets. To me this smelled suspiciously like it was designed for PvP, but it does apply to deep freeze, ice lance, and frostfire bolt damage when you’re using the fingers of frost proc (notice that frostbolt, frost’s main nuke, is left out of this). So I stuck with it through 5 mans. I liked hitting bosses for big deep freeze crits (once every 30 seconds) and using deep freeze for control on multi-mob trash pulls to help reduce tank damage for a few seconds. The problem I had came once we started getting more into heroics. I was constantly last on the dps charts and when the bosses hit an enrage phase where the key was to dps them down before the healers went oom from the massive group damage they were doing. I didn’t like how dependant my spec seemed to be on procs for “reliable” dps, and I was holding groups back. There were several times that I feel that if we had had more dps, we wouldn’t have wiped. This was a very different thing from Wrath where all more dps did was make the fights shorter.

So, I decided to give Cataclysm’s version of arcane a try. I did a little research, came up with a spec I liked and went to the test dummies (before I even bothered with glyphs). My sustained dps was around 2k dps higher than it was with frost. My burn phase dps was about 4k higher.

Quick overview of how arcane works. It’s split up into 2 phases. A burn phase and a conserve phase. Due to the way arcane’s mastery works, you deal more damage (all spells) the more mana you have. It’s completely percentage based. So, if your mastery on your gear gives you up to 10% extra damage based on mana, then at 100% mana, your spells will hit 10% harder, at 90% mana, they’ll hit 9% harder. The burn phase kind of ignores mastery and goes into a simple rotation of arcane blast spam. This will go through all of your mana in about 15-30 seconds depending on your mana pool and how many times you get a free spell from clearcasting. You do this when you’ve got evocation off cooldown, or when the fight is almost over. The conserve phase is where you try to stay at 90% mana or higher by alternating a couple of arcane blasts and then a free arcane missile or an arcane barrage to get rid of the AB debuff.

Anyway, I loved the new arcane. It was a fun little mana management game that changed with your gear so no one could tell you what the ideal rotation was. You had to figure it out based on what was going on with the fight. It was all the things I enjoyed about arcane before, with a new twist. (The big damage numbers I was putting up didn’t hurt either). For heroics, this was the ideal spec. Boss fights weren’t too long and didn’t require much movement. Most bosses, I could go through a burn phase, evocate to get my mana back, and go through a burn phase again and the boss would be dead. The dps output was crazy, I was having a lot of fun with it, and I didn’t feel like a strain on the group.

Then we started raiding. First up was Magmaw in Blackwing Descent. I read up on the strategies. It seemed like it basically came down to dps the boss, deal with the adds, get back to the boss, and then there would be a burn phase where the boss would take double damage (ideal for arcane’s burn phase). This would be fun. And it was fun because I was raiding again. However, my spec didn’t seem to be doing so hot. While the burn phase numbers were nice, the real threat to the raid wasn’t the boss, it was the adds. As long as we could keep the adds under control, the boss would eventually go down. I didn’t quite get just how bad an idea it was to stand anywhere near the mobs from reading the strats. When our raid leader explained the fight, it sunk in. I wasn’t going to be able to use my spec’s aoe on the adds for 2 reasons: it would require me to be near the adds who would possibly notice the mage spamming arcane explosion in their faces, and it would require me to be away from the rest of the raid. The second reason is the real killer. Talented arcane explosion has its threat reduced by 80% so it’s possible that as long as the adds weren’t rooted, I’d be safe, but the boss does a targeted damage spell that is split with your group members nearby. If I was hit with this while I was out by my lonesome, there’s a good chance that I’d be 1-shotted. Dead mage = 0 dps. There was also the problem that we didn’t have a great way to slow and keep the adds slowed before they could get to the raid. For most of the night I kept thinking how this fight would go a lot more smoothly if I had blizzard with a slow on it.

So, we decided that we would take another crack at the boss 2 days later. In the meantime, I respected one of my dual specs to frost. I also started looking a lot more into my single target dps for frost. I discovered a few things. One was that they had made some adjustments to frost and pumped up frostbolt damage and taken down some of the frozen target damage. The other thing I discovered was just how reliant frost dps is on crits and just how low my crit was. After some serious reforging to squeeze every last bit of crit out of my gear at the cost of haste and mastery, I managed to get up to 20% crit. Add the glyph of molten armor and that spell gives me an extra 5% crit. There are 2 raid buffs that provide 5% crit each. The magic number frost needs to aim for is about 33% crit when fully buffed. I had 25% self buffed and boy did that make a difference. I could put up fairly respectable numbers and when we got to Magmaw the next night, ignoring one accidental pull from one of our hunters :), we one-shot it. Now, I’m not going to be all pompous and claim that it was all me. It wasn’t. The break had given others in the raid time to notice some things about when the tank was dying and that made a big difference. However, having a permanent slow on all the adds while doing damage to them did make a significant difference in my opinion. We weren’t killing them extremely fast, but they weren’t getting to the raid, and that made me feel like I was really making a contribution to the raid’s success despite my frost damage numbers not being quite as high as arcane.

So now we get to my dilemma. Frost and Arcane are both “viable” specs for raid damage. Arcane’s damage is higher, but frost’s is acceptable. Frost currently has better AoE especially for fights like Magmaw where I can’t be anywhere near the AoE mobs. For adds that I can get near, and need to be slowed, I still have cone of cold as an arcane mage. As we progress, I’m betting that we’ll run into more bosses with hard enrage timers where dps does matter. Those are the fact based decision makers.

As far as play what you want to play…I’m not sure. I think I’m leaning towards Arcane, but I feel reluctant. I’m not sure if I think arcane is more fun right now because I like the new mechanics and it’s more reliable instead of proc based, or if I just like seeing the big numbers and being at the top of the chart. The other issue is that I may be reluctant because I’ve always played frost. Blu has always been a frost mage and I feel weird with that not necessarily being the case anymore.

I think my decision for now is to go with arcane, but to keep a frost off-spec. I’ll reforge my gear for arcane so that when I want to do as much damage as possible I can. Unfortunately this will hurt frost (arcane’s worst secondary stat is crit, frost’s best), but hopefully the damage won’t matter too much on the fights where frost’s control is needed most.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For Wulfa!

So that my good friend Wulfa has something to read today . . .

1) Diet/exercise still going well. Up to 11 lbs lost (as of Monday).

2) Possibly related to #1 but possibly not . . . I have been UBER tired lately. I have an alarm set for 7am so that I don't sleep in too bad, and this morning I just shut it up, and rolled over back to sleep for another hour. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that I went to bed at like 10:00 last night. You'd think that 9 hours of sleep would be plenty. It always was, for me, to the point where I would sleep almost EXACTLY 9 hours, no alarm clock needed. If I went to bed at 10, I'd be up at 7. If I stayed up till midnight, I'd wake up at 9. It didn't seem to matter to my body when those 9 hours started or stopped, as long as I got them. (Of course, the later I stayed up one night, the later I slept in . . . which meant that I stayed up late that night because I wasn't tired early enough . . . and it would just snowball from there until I was sleeping 2-11am on a regular basis. Hence the alarm.) So, I don't know if my body is just more exhausted than normal because of the exercise, or not getting as much food, or both. Or if it's completely unrelated, because I've been doing this for a couple months now, and only started having issues ignoring my alarm in the last week or so.

3) I've hit a reading slump. In January I read 8 books. In February I read only 2. I don't know why I haven't felt like reading lately. I've had to return a whole bunch of books to the library without reading them. It's just been really weird for me. The last time I hit a reading slump was when we moved, I got thrown off my normal routine, and it just took a while to get back into it. This seemed to come out of nowhere.

4) I haven't been playing WoW recently either. My account actually is expiring sometime this month (don't remember exactly when, though I should find out because there's some "housekeeping" stuff I want to do before that happens). After I leveled to 85 and finished questing through all the new areas, I just sort of lost interest. And since that happened right around the same time that I started getting more active, it just seemed a waste to sit for hours in front of the computer if it wasn't something I was really invested in. The funny thing is that there really was a lot more I wanted to do before I quit again (like quest through all the OLD areas, which are now new . . . that makes sense to anyone who plays the game). I can definitely see myself coming back, just for a month at a time, because when I am into it I am really gung-ho into it . . . but it's not something I can really do casually, just a couple hours a week. And even if I could, from a financial standpoint, I just couldn't really justify continuing to spend $15 a month for something I may or may not feel like playing at any given time. So, if in a couple months I decide I want to come back, I probably will start my account up again, play like crazy for a few weeks, and then let it expire again.

5) Slider (our cat) is a total goofball. That's about all I have on that subject.

6) I've now been up for an hour and haven't eaten anything or done my morning workout, so I'd best get to that.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Good Habit Leads to Another

I was noticing the other day that I haven't been chewing my nails as much recently. If anything I would think I'd be doing that more, since I can't just go snack whenever I want. (Actually I do snack quite a bit, but it's not the mindless snacking of days past.) They still aren't long, by any means. But, all ten of my nails have a little bit of a white tip, which I don't think has happened since I got married.

Is being more conscious of what I'm eating making me more conscious of other things I usually do without thinking?

If I can keep this up for another few weeks, I might treat myself to a manicure, if I can find somewhere around here that's not too expensive.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One More Thing

Part of the reason I've been MIA for two weeks is because I started another blog over at MFP, the website I've been using to track my food and exercise. I went ahead and started this one because I felt like I could very easily start monopolizing our joint-blog here, and not only do I not want to do that, but I don't want ALL of my posts to be about weight-loss either. (I just haven't really been up to much else lately . . . I haven't even spent much time reading this month! /gasp!)

So, if you care to read, here's a link to my other blog:

I don't think you can vote or leave comments unless you're an MFP member, but you can still read it, if you're interested.

So, It's Been A While . . .

I know I've gone far longer than two weeks without posting, but given how much I had been posting recently, it just seems like it's been a long time.

Nothing new to report. My weight is slowly but steadily coming down. Even after a weekend excursion to Milwaukee, involving lots of eating out and drinking, I managed to lose another pound when I weighed in on Monday. It's encouraging to see the weight coming off, though a part of me is getting impatient to see progress somewhere other than the scale. Part of the issue is that I FEEL so much better than I did a couple months ago, and I wish that it showed on the outside. But, that will have to wait, I guess.

Just as a comparison, though, I went back to one of my earliest posts this year, and these were my three goals to improve upon:

~ 4+ glasses of water a day
~ no more sad faces in my journal (from overeating)
~ Y 3 times a week, Wii Fit on the other days

Compared to where I am now:

~ I am drinking at LEAST 8 glasses of water a day now, usually more like 10-12.
~ With the exception of this weekend, I am staying within (or very close to) my calorie goals each day. When I do go over, it's because of calorie-dense meals, not overeating. Portion control is no longer an issue.
~ I am going to the Y 3 times a week, consistently. When I'm there, I do about an hour of cardio, broken up with circuit training, and I can do up to 30 minutes without taking a break. At the beginning of the year, I was lucky if I could get to 15 minutes and not feel like falling over when I was done.

On the downside . . . I haven't put as much effort into finding a job as I should. After the Borders thing fell through, I decided I would wait till after the holidays, and then start again. I have applied a few places, but it's just hard to put energy into something as soul-sucking as job searching (keeping in mind that I'm not even looking for a job that I'd be happy doing, since that won't really exist until I can go back to school, if that ever happens) when I'm finally filling my days with something meaningful to me. A couple months ago I was bored out of my skull staying at home all day. Now I'm wondering how I'm going to keep up this momentum if suddenly 40 hours of my week are taken away from me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

She's Inspiring Too

Well since Charleen keeps threatening to knock me off the front page of our blog, I guess I'd better write a post. What can I say, I've been pretty busy lately.

Anyway, the other day Charleen mentioned that one of our friends was particularly inspiring to her. Over the course of the last 2 years or so, he's lost a lot of weight. He went from being a pretty husky guy down to the point where he can almost wear my pants. (Maybe you'll get that story some time too...) Anyway, he looks fantastic and he's kept the weight off.

I've been trying on and off for the last couple of years to get back in shape. No particular goal (and maybe that's the problem) just getting in shape. I used to be the guy all through school who could just keep going like the energizer bunny. I was never the best at any sport, but I could always keep going long after most people were worn out. I realized mid way through college that it was gym class that did a lot to keep me in shape. But anyway, I'm rambling. My point is that I wanted to get back to that point where I could go and play a sport and just keep it up for a long while.

As I said, I've been trying on and off since college to get back in shape and this time I'm using Charleen as my motivation. Seeing her setting goals for herself, counting calories, going to the Y, working out at home, and looking for more ways she can do cardio on days she's not at the Y. It's really motivating.

With being sick at the beginning of the year I've been starting slowly to get into a pattern of doing something almost daily. Last week I went to the Y on Tuesday and swam laps. I was planning on going on Thursday as well, but due to a long day to make up for a half day Wednesday (Snow-My-God 2011) as well as a tetanus shot that was really making my arm sore, I decided not to go. Charleen and I went on Saturday and I gave my legs a good workout on the treadmill, leg-press, and leg extension machine. This week I went swimming on Tuesday, did push-ups and sit-ups on Wednesday, and went swimming again yesterday. My plan is to soon get into a pattern of swimming at the Y on Tuesday and Thursday after work, doing push-ups and sit-ups on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and going to the Y on Saturday with Charleen to do some kind of cardio and leg workout. I'm thinking of giving myself Sunday off from working out, but I may start doing something like bike riding once the weather gets better.

On a side note, I was very excited walking outside for work this morning. It was 9° F out. Considering it's been about -14° F the last couple of days, this is a vast improvement. Also it's supposed to get up to above freezing tomorrow, and next week it's supposed to not even drop below freezing overnight for a couple of days. I'm really looking forward to it not being cold out anymore. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Well I've been trying to live healthier for about a month now, and been using MFP for almost two weeks to track my calories. I've done a lot of . . . well, I wouldn't call it research, per se, since none of the information is from definitive sources . . . so we'll just call it "gathering ideas" from blogs, forums, etc. As well as paying attention to things I've been doing (and haven't been doing) and trying to come up with a plan that I can stick with.

Probably the biggest thing I've realized is that if I screw up, it's no reason to give up. Monday this week was a really bad day for me. One of my downfalls has always been that I'm an emotional eater, and Monday was the first time since I started these efforts that I just said "screw it" and ate like a pig. But so what? It doesn't mean I'm a failure, just that it'll take a little longer to reach my goals. So, no giving up, no saying "I can't do this," because even if I have a bad day, that's no reason to give up on the rest of my life.

Okay, all that inspirational crap out of the way. What I really wanted to write about today were the changes that I'm wanting to make, now that I've been at this a little while and am learning what will and won't work for me. In regards to food, I've made one minor change this week. Originally I had set my MFP profile to lose 2 lbs/week. And while I stayed within my calorie limits most days, there were some days when I went over, and I always felt discouraged by that. Then I realized that, even when I go over, I'm still on track to lose weight. I just won't be losing as quickly. So, I changed my goal to 1.5 lbs/week, which gives me a higher calorie allowance that is easier to stay within. And I know that the closer I can stay to my old goal, the better off I'll be, but it's just a mindset thing. Better to exceed this goal, than not meet the other one, even if the end result is the same.

I'm still sort of playing around with HOW to actually "spend" those calories throughout the day, and I know my nutritional choices could be better. But, again I say: baby steps. Every week when we go shopping, I add a couple new things to my arsenal of healthy choices.

As far as exercise . . . this whole time I've been trying to work out where and when I can, but I haven't really gotten into a groove yet. But I think I've finally come up with a plan that I can stick with:

~ I want to start every day with at least 10 minutes "free step" on the Wii. It's easy, takes minimal effort, but it will get my heart rate and metabolism going early in the day.

~ On days I go to the Y -- Monday, Wednesday, Saturday -- I want to take more advantage of it. When I first started I was doing about 10-15 minutes on the elliptical and then some circuit training. Last week I started adding the bike to get more cardio. This week I plan to add a C25K session on treadmill. But, I have to break up all the cardio with circuit training, because last Saturday I did 20 minutes on the bike and then tried to do elliptical immediately after, and only got 5 minutes in before I had to stop. Whereas if I break it up, I can do a good 35-40 minutes of cardio in one visit. Today I'm going to see if I can push that to an hour if I break it into three sessions, with weight training in between. I'm already way better off than I was when I started, but I really want to get the most out of my time there, since I don't burn nearly as many calories when I work out at home.

~ Speaking of home, I've started the 200 situps and 200 squats programs three days a week -- Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. I was also going to do the pushups program, but I really can't do more than a couple "real" pushups, and gave my knees really bad rug burn trying to do multiple sets of the "modified" ones (Wulfa yelled at me for calling them "girly"). So, my plan is to focus on upper body the days I go to the Y. Eventually I'd like to start doing pushups, but I figure by waiting a while it will help in two ways. First, working on the machines will increase my upper body strength so I can do more. And second, it will give me a chance to lose some weight so the pushups will be that much less of a strain.

~ I'm also doing Wii Fit on my non-Y days (more than just the 10 minutes I mentioned before) but unfortunately I'm starting to get bored with it. I'm toying with the idea of getting either another game for the Wii or just some workout DVDs, but then Pat reminded me that we have a DDR game for PS2 that we haven't used . . . well, pretty much since we first got it. So I may give that a try, and see if that can at least get me over this slump until nicer weather, when more outdoor options will open up. (We'll both be getting new bikes when that happens, so NOT spending money on an indoor game would probably be good, if I can avoid it.)

So, that's my plan. We'll see how it holds up.