If you were directed to this site via one of my self-published works (there are some few copies still floating around with the link), the focus of this site has since changed.

Here I still write about writing, and include story prompts and the occasional book review (disclaimer, Amazon and Smashwords affiliate links included where relevant), along with assorted random topics. I am slowly trying to shift the focus towards those reviews and away from the random topics.
The sister site, Pioneers of the Shattered Waters, now bears the focus of my own stories, up to and including Nation Novel Writing Month competition data.

More details on this change can be found on the relevant page, “Migrating Certain Posts

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Workout Week 36 and September Monthly Update

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A bit late, but I finally got my monthly update in… and not a whole lot else.

To be honest, I can’t remember why I didn’t get much done this time around. I mean, some of my workouts got skipped due to someone once again inviting himself over (and someone else inviting herself into my bedroom and yakking at me until 2 in the morning when I should’ve been reading another chapter and moving on to the next Homefront episode), but none of that was on recordable days. I don’t think it was simply procrastination or weather….


In any case, let us see if I’ve made any progress:


Mystery delays besides the point, I managed to do all of the workouts that are (currently) not designated as “random,” but never pulled up the spreadsheet to do anything more.

And that means….

I’m “older” than normal in Wii Fit (still younger than my real age, but even with my balance issues that dual balance game is normally a lot easier!)

I moved on to the next level of Ring Fit Adventure and started experimenting with the color-code power.

And I moved on to the next level in Beat Saber’s Campaign Mode. “Next level” in this case meaning everything in level 2, not just one song.

Here we have the one single system I can theoretically use and record from even if the gaming space is occupied… and use (without recording) even when weather necessitates unplugging everything. Not only that, but because I can record VR via screen capture and not just on my camera, I decided to put a little work into experimenting with editing options; while I forgot to set up the game and webcam as separate “videos” for cropping purposes, I think this would be a good reason to learn to use something considerably newer than Windows Movie Maker.


Next up, of course, is Zombies Run!

Despite knowing that a well-written character is, to use an industry term, multi-dimensional, I was absolutely floored episode 15 when Doctor Meyers of all people started geeking out about Darkness and Demons. I found that, combined with Sam’s attempts to dismiss roleplaying games as “for nerds” (he of the video game, superhero comics, and cosplay fandoms) hilarious… and then they ramped it up when Sam started geeking out about the miniatures!

I was just a titch disappointed that I didn’t get any notifications for everything they had me grab, though; one of those gamebooks or something should at least have counted as an artifact.


And the final bit of before-and-after-ing, the FitBit scale.

Somewhere along the lines I either accidentally got the wrong year in the dashboard or the FitBit website doesn’t read the same as the app does, because last month I noticed that browser-based listing for my weight for Jan 1 does not match the app’s entry.

But, being that we’re only a few months away from finishing out the year and it’s such a small difference in the grand scheme of things, I can’t say I can be bothered to find the correct entry and replace every single wrong insert (assuming the error to be on my end). Perhaps next year, assuming I continue to do this series, I’ll be able to get a correct weight in there to start things off.



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Workout Week 35.5: Difficulty in Beat Saber

Given my self-imposed challenge of progressively going up in difficulty levels (in any of my games) as I earned the highest score tiers, I figured that in Beat Saber in particular I would eventually run into a point of diminishing returns.


I’ve mentioned this elsewhere in these posts, but to reiterate:

When playing Beat Saber as a fitness game, the “point of diminishing returns” is the point at which everything goes so fast that there’s too much wrist flapping and not enough sweeping arm motions to really count as “exercise.” Obviously this point is going to be different for everyone (perhaps you’re good enough at the game that you can get those sweeping motions at higher difficulties than I can, or perhaps you define exercise for your purposes differently than I define it for mine).

The original plan was to keep track of calorie burn and see how it changes with difficulty levels, but finding that point turned out to be far easier… just see where everything’s so fast that I can’t even play it! And that point for me is Hard Mode; not only are the blocks moving too fast for my preferred full arm movement, they’re moving too fast for me to even hit them correctly. I have to turn No Fail on just to last more than five seconds… which will cut my score in half and make it way harder (if not impossible) to continue moving up in difficulty for the purpose of that self-imposed challenge.


So, while I would like to continue trying higher difficulties just to see if I can (eventually) get good enough to beat them, I’ll assume Normal is the mode to stick with for exercising purposes.

Kinda makes me wonder just how bad I’ll do later on in the campaign; I have no doubt some of those levels require higher difficulty than I’m prepared for….


Also related to difficulty levels, I recently found out something about my DLC, and also cheated a bit on my self-imposed challenge.

What I found out is that Counting Stars, even on Easy mode, seems to involve way more moving around than High Hopes and Greatest Show (all the songs I’ve bought and paid for thus far) on Normal mode. Despite this discovery, I still worked to get all three of them to the highest score tier on Normal, taking half an hour one night (and burning well over 300 calories according to both my FitBit and the VR Health app) to accomplish it… and wearing a full raccoon mask of red marks as a result. 😉

(I have to wonder, as I lose weight–inches, rather–would losing fat in my face result in the headset not being as tight and making the red marks less noticeable, or would it result in not having the cushioning I need to prevent those red marks from being worse? The memes I’ve seen keep focusing on lines on the forehead, but I’ve already had a few times where I noticed one cheek or the other looked like someone had hit me after only wearing the thing for five minutes….)

And the cheating part was when I went through each of the songs the other day and discovered that for one of them (High Hopes, if I remember right), my highest score on Easy mode did not include a Full Combo (where you manage to hit every block). So naturally I had to go back to playing it on Easy just so I could get a better score with an FC attached. 😉 Honestly, this sort of thing is why I’d prefer a scoreboard that works the way it does in the demo mode–I’m not competitive enough to care what people in my region, my friend group, or around the world have ranked, but I want to see an arcade-game-style list that shows all of the scores earned on that specific machine so I can see where I rank in my own history, instead of being limited to seeing how my own single highest score ranks against people who are clearly better at the game than me. I’d gladly change my self-imposed challenge to filling up such a scoreboard with all SS FC scores before moving on to the next difficulty if such a scoreboard existed. But I’ve started looking through the mods, and either my Google fu is lacking or nobody is claiming to have implemented a scoreboard like that… not even Scoresaber.

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Workout Week 35: Not a Monthly Update

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Well, I got some workout games in on Monday as originally planned… but spent a good chunk of Thursday (my first day off of the month, so the day I should have recorded my monthly update) driving a roughly 100 mile round trip courtesy of my parents needing to get regular maintenance done on their motorcycles.

Found a bike I really like while I was there but I’m not quite ready to take on yet another loan…. Unless I win the lottery, I figure by the time I’m willing that thing will be an old model (it’s from this year) so I can still keep an eye on new offerings as time goes on.

And by the time we all got home from that variety of “running errands,” it was time for a late lunch and rendering a very few videos before my parents decided that we should go out for dinner. (I really need to stop doing that; I like that there’s things we still enjoy doing together but I don’t like that it feels like I only have “me” time when they go off to do something without me. Not to mention the whole “saving money” part of the equation.)


I started to upload these videos en masse on Thursday night, but something else I was doing on my computer caused it to overload and crash (black screen with visible mouse, CTRL+ALT+DEL did nothing) so I had to forcibly shut it down and restart… which, of course, meant interrupting and starting anew anything that I hadn’t finished doing, like uploading every single video on this page.


In any case, my workout total was two sessions of Ring Fit Adventure (Adventure Mode and a random workout) and one very short session in Wii Fit.

This’d be, what, my first trip to world 3?

And my first use of Color Coded attacks; now I just need to pay attention to find out whether I can choose which enemy I attack for the “gaming” aspect of this fitness game or if it’s kinda random (for those attacks that don’t hit everyone, of course). Because honestly? If I can’t choose my target I’d probably go back to letting the game pick my moves, at least until there’s only one enemy left to hit.

First time I tried this one, and I already got an S+ score. Unless I miss my guess about the scoring system, that means I have to play it on Advanced mode the next time my Randomizer selects it.


This’d be one of those rare times where I not only know where I went wrong, but surprisingly (for the context) it has nothing to do with my fitness level. (Or at least, it wasn’t only or even primarily due to my fitness level.) I just kept not leaning far enough to one side or the other get my Mii onto the footprints in time to hit the ball.


In other news, I came up with yet another way to reorganize my room for the sake of getting a little more VR floorspace:

Get rid of my L-shaped (no longer an actual L due to previous reorganizing) tiered desk and shove my bed into that corner!

Granted, there are two things that desperately need to happen before such a change is even possible: finish the mountain of a to-read pile so I don’t have books all over my desk (not even the signed copies I’d been thinking of lining up once the others are gone), and replace my desktop computer with a laptop so I don’t have hardware spread out among two desks. Not only that, but my reliance on hanging things from clips on my desk means I may not readily get rid of that desk even if and when the first two criteria are met (though I might be able to attach those clips instead to the shelf unit that’s currently shoved into my closet) and unless/until I replace my platform bed with a Murphy there’s still some doubt as to whether there will be a meaningful difference in floorspace… but it’s a goal to work towards all the same.


And finally, Zombies Run!

Given the episode length, I just barely had time to complete the New Canton 10K “race” titled Etymology after we got home from dinner on Thursday (after first doing a google search–that was too quick to get any real detail–about exercising right after dinner and getting a lot of results about what exercises to do to aid in digestion but a whole lot of nothing about timing), meaning I went roughly 5K per each of my days off from work.

The races, I’ve noticed, don’t give you the “halfway done” notifications that the normal episodes do–I even checked to make sure I hadn’t turned off that setting and forgotten I’d done so–so “5K each day” is only a guess, but it’s close enough to accurate for my purposes.

In hindsight, that means I really ought to have been able to do the previous 5K in one day; I’d finished the final 5K episode from the training app in one day, after all. But my parents have some odd objection to me going out early enough to finish before sundown (an objection given in the form of when they make dinner that I’m expected to join them at) at the exact same time that they object to me being out after sundown (even when “after sundown” can be translated as “the sun is just below the treeline when I walk in the door”). And I’d just as soon not have gone out earlier yet while the summer heat still reigned.

Story-wise, I should be going back to the regular missions for a little while before I move on to the Abel 5- and 10K races… and then at some point there are two 20K races to contend with, meaning a full month’s worth of sessions just for those two episodes.


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Workout Week 34: Environmental Deterrents

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Well, I discovered a drawback to having shorter chains on my ceiling fixture.

I spent nearly two decades in this room with some fairly long chains on the fan, and as long as it was on the breeze was enough to send them swaying. Even with the fan set to low I could see them moving back and forth.

And that was fine… until I got into VR. After a few sessions in which I smacked one of the chains hard enough to send them swinging, and once sending the chains into the fan (with the wall switch not actually controlling the fan for whatever reason, so retrieving them under those circumstances was “fun”), I finally decided it was time to get shorter chains. Long enough to reach on purpose (or at least to reach the one for the fan, with the wall switch controlling the light like it should it didn’t really matter if that was out of reach), but short enough that I probably wouldn’t hit it by accident.

Except making them shorter meant that there was less surface area for the breeze to hit, and they haven’t been moving around. And in less than a month… this happened.

Size set to thumbnail in the hopes it will reduce triggers for arachnophobes. Click to see larger picture if you dare.

Between that and how the weather is affecting the local home invaders, guess I need to step up keeping everything vacuumed. And maybe replace my bedroom’s air vent with something filtered, though how much that will affect airflow from the AC and furnace is questionable at best.


In related news, I’ve been revisiting the idea of saving up for a Murphy bed. Though now it isn’t just for additional floorspace, it’s also for giving invaders fewer places to hide behind or under–I could probably just do a quick vacuum when I put the bed up before a session of VR.

Problem is, I’d really want a freestanding kind for that purpose, something that I could keep away from the wall to clean behind… and I thought I found the perfect one (part of what makes it freestanding is the desk that provides support when the bed is up, and I could use that part for a camera or laptop if I wanted to record my sessions from a different angle), until I learned that its significantly lower price tag is due to the lack of a lifting mechanism and the thing is so dang heavy that even a twin size (a size that seems ridiculously hard to find for the style) requires two people to put the bed up every time. Even living with my parents, that just won’t work for regular usage. (Still not keen on the trifold variety even if they would take up less wall space; while I am tempted just so I can have a Murphy until I can afford a better variety, I’d really prefer something that lets me use a mattress of my choosing instead of limiting myself to getting one made for that exact bed whenever it comes time to replace the thing.)


Anywho, the workouts that are the intended purpose of this series.


I’ve tried Pistol Whip a few times just to get an idea of how the game works, and while I still haven’t made a decision on whether it really is a “workout” it seems good enough to start including in the relevant YouTube series (unlike many an activity from Wii Sports Resort). Perhaps this one will work better at higher difficulty levels… and replaying levels until I complete them versus a “one and done” session like I’m doing for everything else.

As for playing Beat Saber first thing in the morning, I’m still stuck on Normal mode for the handful of songs that I’m not bothering to record–the only time I’ve hit the SS score tier lately was on the one-handed mode for High Hopes while I’m still scoring S in everything other mode.


And I’ve finished the second world of Ring Fit Adventure!

Normally I prefer to do a single level per video, but length-wise I think it worked better to do the previously-forgotten gym in the same session as the next boss fight rather than splitting them up.


Maybe, in the interest of getting more workouts in per week, I should remove the Beat Saber campaign mode from my randomizer and instead do it as the “last” workout I do each week, just like I’m trying to do Ring Fit’s Adventure mode first. That way I’d at least have a guaranteed workout I could do in my room any time of day or night instead of being limited to when my parents are awake so I don’t disturb them by playing right outside of their bedroom the way my consoles would require. (I’ll have to research Pistol Whip’s campaign mode to see if that could serve the same function.)


And finally Zombies Run and the first of the in-game “races.”

As you can see, the run graphics are exactly the same with just the stats being different. The reason for this is because I’d split up the first “race” mission into two sessions, doing the first part on Monday (starting at roughly 8:45 pm, necessitating a short session due to the impending sunset) and finishing it off on Thursday (starting just before 8, allowing a longer session). Realistically, I should have been able to do the entire episode in one go, but there was the previously mentioned issue of the impending sunset by the time the family was finished with dinner on both occasions.

Pity the sunset meant I couldn’t go later just to avoid the summer heat. But at some point even that reflective vest wouldn’t do anything to add to visibility, and while my eyes are weirdly over-sensitive to the light insofar as discomfort is concerned, there’s still a point where I simply can’t see well enough for safety… and on a stretch of road with a lot of tree cover, that point comes sooner rather than later.

From what I’m reading, the New Canton 10K should be next on the list before I return to the normal episodes for a while, and that one I am definitely going to split up into two sessions regardless of what time of day I start. I just don’t have the endurance as yet to try that distance all in one go; even if I did (thinking of the 15 thousand steps I usually get at work), doing it all at once would translate to less time in the day for other things.


I suppose at some point I should try to estimate how many calories I’m burning using Zombies Run, whether for my outdoor walks or for the bodyweight Homefront workouts.

See, I have the VR Health Institute app on my phone that pairs with a heart rate monitor (I’ve been using the Polar H10 on the grounds that it’s suppose to be compatible with this and Yur alike, though thanks to Quest firmware and my general lack of PC VR I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try a working version of Yur) to track my calorie burn, but that app is only designed with Virtual Reality in mind and I’d kind of like to have an easy way to track all of my workouts in one location… an easy way that doesn’t rely solely on my FitBit, that is, since I did bother to buy the monitor.

Just not sure how accurate VR Health is, or how accurate any other tracker is, for that matter; while I’ve yet to compare it to FitBit (that would require remembering to start a workout on both devices), and even factoring in the inclusion of my weight and heart rate in the calculations, it seems a bit weird that VR Health claims I’m burning about 30 calories for a less-than-five-minutes session in Beat Saber while Oculus’s own (not weight- or HR- related) Move app told me I burned… 3.

(Update: I was looking at the wrong number. Oculus Move has been reporting in the 20’s.)


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Workout Week 33: Plans Seldom Survive Engagement with the Enemy

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Otherwise known as, yet another new plan.

I left a somewhat long-winded post on the subject on FaceBook:

But to rephrase for those who don’t want to wade through my awkward attempt at summarizing on there, I finally decided that even though I’d prefer not to do any “working out” in the morning before I go to work (before I spend practically all day on my feet to the tune of 15-20K steps), my options for the “not licensed for YouTube” songs on Beat Saber are to upload them to YouTube anyway (and expect copyright claims), to play them when I’m not recording, or to find out I’ve wasted my money because I never play them.

While one of the nice things about using a Quest is that I can play it even in nasty weather (with the modem and computer all fully disconnected from power lines) I decided that a single song in Beat Saber first thing in the morning even on workdays was in order. Whether I do an unrecorded session on my free days, in addition to trying to get upload-worthy footage of everything else, remains to be seen.

But in any case, I decided that I would do the same progressive difficulty level for these sessions as I mean to do for the YouTube footage–start at the absolute easiest difficulty level for any given song, continue playing that level until I get the highest score tier, and only then move on to the next difficulty (at least until I determine that the speed and switching from sweeping arm motion to quick wrist movements starts giving me diminishing returns for workout purposes, which is very much a “listen to your body” situation).

Ironically, having previously been only getting A’s and B’s and I think a single S, and with very little practice at that, as soon as I made this decision I immediately got SS in both of my bought-and-paid-for songs, forcing me to change to normal difficulty the very next time I played both of them (upon which I got S in Greatest Show and A in High Hopes).

I also have a fan/”mini air conditioner” sitting on my dresser right at head level, so if I face that way when I’m working out that helps keep the sweat level down. (Doesn’t really seem cool enough to function as an air conditioner–it has a reservoir that can hold ice water and I’m wondering if I actually need to add ice to it since just adding cold water doesn’t seem to feel any different than keeping it dry–but so far it’s been good enough until I can justify the cost of a better one.)


And on the subject of recordable footage, I got in one session of Ring Fit Adventure.


Here I skipped past the “Robo Wrecker” mini-game (after investigating it a time or two before just deciding to move on through the main levels)… not because I had chosen not to do it but because I couldn’t remember if I’d done it.

I’d totally overlooked the checkmarks on the ones I’d completed in favor of looking for shading or icons that indicated that I hadn’t… indicators that were absent from that particular level, though I do not yet know if they were absent because that’s normal for Adventure Mode mini-games or the fact that I’ve done this particular mini outside of Adventure Mode was enough to tell Ring Fit that I’d “completed” that particular level in the past.


Moving on to Zombies Run

I have to say, this is probably the first time I’ve related to one of the characters in this series on such a personal level.

In one of the clips in “A Regular Meds Run,” Doctor Myers describes some of her memories of the world before the infection and how we tend to expect things long after we cease to have a reason to… and to explain this, she provides the example of her dog Buddy, and how even ten years after he died she would still come home expecting to see him.

Same, Doctor Myers, same. It’s been seven years for me but I still frequently expect to see Jessie greeting me when I come home, chasing me into the bathroom (as my parents egg her on), staying up with me as I burn the midnight oil on the computer because she doesn’t want to go to bed alone, things like that. I wonder if Doctor Myers has also caught random glimpses of Buddy….


Now that I’ve done the Patient 29 episode, everything I’m reading tells me I need to move on to the “race” missions, so I’ll have to figure out what order those play in. At least if I want to play everything in story order.

The 5K course in New Canton occurs concurrently with–or towards the end of–Patient 29 so I’ll be doing that next, and I’ve confirmed that Abel’s own 5K course takes place following the episode “Eavesdropping” (which I’m still several episodes away from), but finding where the rest fit within the context of the season is proving to be a little trickier.


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Workout Week 32: Rain, Rain, Come and Stay (but lightning go away)

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Another week, another delay. But not (completely) due to procrastination this time around.

Nope, Monday’s delay was effectively due entirely to the weather. See, a good share of the day it was simply pouring outside. Not a huge deal all on its own… I quite enjoy being out in the rain (as long as I’m not driving), or as my parents like to say it, “I don’t have the sense to come in out of the rain,” but I don’t like the feel of coming back from a half-hour walk with my socks soaking wet, so two or three years ago I’d bought waterproof trail shoes for this exact purpose. And then, for the last two or three years, every single time it was raining I was either at work (and therefore unable to just go outside and enjoy it), or my phone’s battery was super low (walking was still an option, but no Zombies Run), or it was outright storming out.

Well, Monday was a combination of the last two. We were finishing running errands when the skies opened up, so as soon as we got home at around 2-ish pm I switched to my trail shoes, grabbed my Aftershokz headphones (IP 55–could’ve sworn they were more like 67 or 68 and I may one day invest in one with the better rating–do not try this with a cheap set), and my reflective orange vest, and started my walk. I only got five percent of a mile down the road before I started hearing thunder, went “Nope! That’s a safety hazard,” and turned around to go back inside. (Remember, if you can hear thunder, you’re in striking distance! And while I also enjoy the sight and sound of a good thunderstorm, staying indoors is entirely about safety rather than “comfort” as it is for rain.)


Since nobody in my family is willing to gamble with the possibility of frying hard drives and rendering the data unrecoverable, all of our important electronics, even those plugged into surge protectors (which often carry lifetime warranties on replacing fried devices for a reason), remained unplugged from the walls until we were no longer in the strike zone. The only gaming I could do in the meantime would be the kind that requires neither internet nor gaming console nor (given the desire to record) my computer.

As a result, I spent the next several hours alternating between reading a book and messing around on my phone, leading to my battery being too low to use the phone by the time the weather had improved enough to go outside. So after plugging in my phone I managed to get in another mission in Ring Fit Adventure

albeit unexpectedly delayed by my Joy Con deciding to lose contact with the Switch mid-game. (Near as I could tell once I finally got it reconnected, it had gotten itself stuck in “sync” mode. How, when it was slotted in to the Ring Con the entire time and had been working fine until–well, you can see in the video when it disconnected–I have no idea. But here’s hoping I won’t see that problem again because the Skyward Sword joycons are not easy enough to find to gamble on needing to replace them!)


Upon finishing the mission and starting my computer to render, my dad and I had some errands to run. Between that and dinner I didn’t get out again until about 7:30 pm. At that point, the rain was alternating between giving me a shower and being light enough to force me to look for puddles to continue testing my shoes, but aside from a cold spot I randomly felt on my right big toe I’d say they’re waterproof enough… most of me was drenched by the time I finished my walk but my feet were perfectly dry.


Thursday? Thursday was mostly procrastination. I mean, there were still errands to run (seems there always are), but there were also moments I should have been able to do something. Even Zombies Run got overlooked as after dinner I’d simply forgotten about it until after I’d changed into my pajamas, and when I finally did remember that I had a mission to do I decided it was late enough that it’d probably be dark out before I finished it.


Since I still haven’t worked out a plan for The Walk that I’m happy with, I think I’ve decided to repeat the Homefront bodyweight exercises for my get-home-from-work workouts. No “materials” collected during those missions but I’d still get plenty of supplies each time, which will help whenever I get around to building up my base. (I won’t be posting run graphics of the repeats, though; since the missions are purely time-based due to the nature of the workouts, the only significant difference you’d see between the second time around and the first is if I don’t hit the “stop” button at the same time as I did before.)

At least until they release any other bodyweight exercises under the New Adventures segment. I’ve only seen two stories so far that include them but Six to Start may one day decide to add more.

Maybe this time I’ll actually retain the habit of using the Ring Con for its multitask mode… not to mention doing the workouts before I get distracted by social media.


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Workout Week 31 and August Monthly Update

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In the last two months I have successfully….

Gained back the weight I lost during that week I was sick and had no appetite. *head meets desk* But I’m still wearing the waistline 34 jeans and 35 work pants instead of the 36 in both that I wore before, so clearly that weight has migrated in some fashion; I just have to keep hoping it “migrated” in the form of building a little muscle, and keep trying to make that happen.


Since some of my other clothing is starting to get loose (some stretching from use, I’m sure, others *fingers crossed* from fat loss), and since I’m still trying to declutter and reclaim space in my bedroom, I decided it was time to revamp my wardrobe.

The first part of that plan was acquiring one of those cubed shelf units I could shove into my closet. The primary purpose of this was to clean the closet floor (my shoes, for instance, take up two cubes). It also allowed me to take down some of the clothing I don’t currently have occasion to use (think “long underwear”) and toss them into those fabric drawers made for such units, letting me clear up closet space without having to use up more dresser space.

Just as well that it served that second purpose; even after checking the dimensions online and on the box and measuring the intended area multiple times, I still underestimated just how much space that thing would take up.

Hindsight being 20/20 I should definitely have bought the 4-cube units (4 high 1 wide) instead of the 6-cube I have here. At least then they would’ve been narrow enough to fit on the sides of my closet (and give me two more “junk drawers” to work with when it comes time to swap my dresser for a smaller unit and acquire a little more floorspace for VR) and let me keep the bookshelves in the middle where they were previously… at least until I emptied off those shelves and was left only with the cubes. I had originally thought I’d lay the 6-cube unit on its side but it’s too long with the bookshelves still in there, and it’s so tall (the whole reason I chose not to go with an 8-cube variety) that I really can’t hang anything up over top of it. Of course, making room for it did give me the push to stop procrastinating and actually dig out clothes I’ll never wear so I can donate them, but getting to the remaining clothes is still difficult at best.

At some point I still plan to get the 4-cube units–if I can find them again–and find some other use for this one, but I really need to focus on clearing out those bookshelves before I buy any other organizational furniture.


Anywho, to the subject of physical self-care, starting with the obvious “before-and-afters”:

Meh, either I’ve regained fat in some unwanted areas or going back to wearing a bra for these photos is what’s giving me those odd creases in the back. Probably the second case, but continuing to lose fat in the right places should (eventually) help to smooth that out either way.

I might have mentioned it in another post, or I might not have, but I think I’ve figured out why my later photos look so washed out compared to the earliest ones (even in “later” early photos where I’m still standing against the wall opposite the window). My theory is that the light bulb is different–I don’t actually remember when I changed it last so the theory could be dead wrong on that basis, but from what I’m reading the differences in color temperature for different types of bulbs could produce this effect, and I already know I need to start using bulbs with a lower color temp to help with my migraines (or at least help reduce triggers), so I might find out for sure the next time I change my bulb.


Then we’ve got this week’s sole attempt at playing a recordable video game, in the form of this month’s body test update on Wii Fit U:

Hmm, on the subject of organization, methinks there are some things in the living room that need revisiting. And I might want to go back to having a light on my left side (or angling myself differently); the shadow over one eye looks more than a little odd from my perspective.


Oh, and on the subject of recordable workouts, I think I’ve decided that any bought-and-paid-for music on the likes of Beat Saber (or Pistol Whip, or any other similar game I eventually decide to acquire in the quest for suitable workout games) will probably be something I play solely for myself and just use the official music on YouTube. Partly so I’ve got a reason to play something fitness-related even when I procrastinate on the whole “I need to record this for YouTube” and partly for copyright reasons (not all of the bought-and-paid-for music includes the licenses necessary to upload without getting hit with a copyright claim, whereas I’m given to understand that at least in Beat Saber most of the official soundtracks will allow it).


Finally, for Zombies Run, I wound up doing the same mission twice.

The first time I did this mission on Monday, I was partway through the episode when I just heard silence over my headphones. Dead silence, no music, no audio clips, no nothing.

I kept walking for a few seconds, figuring my shuffled playlist had probably hit one of the various tracks that have a noticeably longer period of nothing-whatsoever at the beginning or end. But then it continued, so I finally pulled out my phone to check, and discovered that the app was no longer running.

So I opened the app, pulled up the mission, told it to resume, and it restarted at the beginning of whichever audio clip I’d been in (it had crashed right at the end of that clip), and finished the mission.

Then on Thursday I did the same mission again to acquire an accurate run graphic.


Edit: somehow I missed the remaining before-and-afters in the form of my weight progress:


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Workout Week 30: And a Different Sort of Self Care

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Finally, finally, finally got back into doing Ring Fit Adventure, courtesy of the yet-another-change-in-plans to do a level of Adventure Mode each week (fingers crossed) regardless of what the randomizer gives me for my other workouts.

And…. I completely forgot I’d had Back Assist on. (Well, it had been somewhere between four and five months since I’d turned it on, and I’ve yet to play Adventure Mode in all that time.) So I wound up spending a good chunk of the level trying to figure out why high knees weren’t making a difference slogging through the deep ponds and wondering if it was just me not having done “deep ponds” in the game before that was skewing my expectations.

Turned out, nope! After I got to the Victory Pose, and was temporarily baffled by the game’s requirement to press a button to perform the squat, I realized what had happened: Back Assist, which I’d turned on months ago in the hopes that it would help during sciatica flare-ups (but have since turned off due to not currently needing that help) was completely controlling my character’s running, which meant forward progress but no actual change in pace or high-stepping.

So Thursday I decided to repeat a level for the first time since I started this project, and ran through Nightcloak Pass all over again with Assist turned off.



In other news, I still haven’t decided how I’m going to handle my discovery about The Walk app, so for the time being I’ve removed it from my phone (less about saving space right now and more about not needing to force quit every time my car makes it start up and gives me a notification… so maybe some battery saving going on).

If y’all don’t want to click the link, the summary is that the app is designed to encourage you to get in so many steps per day by unlocking story clips based on how much walking you’ve done. It claims it’s designed to let you just set it and forget it, basically start one of the episodes and go about your day, which is a true claim if all you’re after is the story (which is also available for free as a podcast, albeit without the “get rewarded for walking” element) but doesn’t work so well if you’re trying to collect everything for the gaming part of the app. Since I’m after the gaming element, I can’t let the app run while I’m at work–or running errands, for that matter–and force-quitting it doesn’t stop it from advancing along whatever route I was on, which means I need to be able to use it when I have an hour or two of time to do nothing but watch my phone.


The self-care I chose instead when I got home one night was to spend time reorganizing the clutter that is the mountain of books waiting for me to read and redonate. (The remaining two nights I just spent reading.)

At some point I’d reorganized different clutter for the express purpose of removing said mountain from the piles on my dresser and top of my dorm-room style shelf unit, and line them up somewhat neatly in rows on my desk. Originally I only had the mass market and similarly small books (the ones I take to work to read in my lunch break) in anything resembling a semblance of order, as I use my lists on Goodreads to sort them by book length and read the shortest ones first (so as to donate and declutter faster), and the larger books (that won’t fit in my cooler and therefore I read at home) were all just kind of shoved on whichever surfaces I found room.

On Friday last I decided to get more of them sorted out.

In addition to the smaller books being lined up on the top between my two bookends, I sorted out the larger ones in a similar order.

  • Any “at home” book short enough to fit underneath the desk cupboard went there with the boxed set in the next photo serving as a bookend (right up until my computer equipment prevented me from adding more),
  • those too tall to fit underneath went on the top shelf with the “lunch break” options,
  • whatever was left was crammed–still in order of length–into a completely different dorm-room style shelf unit/nightstand until I ran out of room (stacked two books deep)…
  • and the rest are still in a small pile on my dresser.

Oh, and the book on top of the nightstand is the one I’m currently reading at home. It’s whatever Goodreads identified as the shortest of my at-home selections at the time. (In other news, I’ve noticed that not everything on that list is sorted properly; some of it is me selecting the wrong edition but some of it may just be GR having the wrong page count. Oh, well, close enough for my purposes.)


The short-term plan–well, short-ish considering how many books I still have to read through to make it happen–is to add the largest books, the ones too tall to fit on the main desk, to the top shelf as I read through the current selection, but to allow the pile on the main desktop to simply shrink without adding migrating anything. Basically use the top shelf to continue reducing the pile on my dresser but get the desktop to a point where the only thing sticking out from under the cupboard is that boxed set.

The longer term plan is to shrink all of the piles enough that I can start getting my signed copies off of the shelf unit I’d shoved into my closet (getting rid of said shelf unit in the process) and start lining them up on my desk….

At some point I also think I want more clamp-on headphone hangers for my Walkovr motion sensors; a shelf would technically work but I’d prefer the “hanger” style to make it easier to leave them on their respective straps whenever I need to charge them. (I nearly bought a shelf–a clamp-on designed for computer monitors–before remembering that the straps were the reason I was looking for hooks in the first place!) I keep hoping to find a single product that has a row of hooks I can use for the purpose, but barring that five more of the kind my Aftershokz are hanging from will work.


And for the last attempt at a formal workout this week, we have a few more episodes of Zombies, Run!

First is finishing the New Adventure story known as Negative Space.

And next is continuing the main storyline, putting me about two episodes further than I’ve ever been in previous years.

No other screenshots and graphics to post, I’m afraid, what with there being no more homefront/bodyweight exercises (for now) for me to tackle after after work and the issues I’m still trying to solve regarding The Walk.


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Workout Week 29.5: Having Trouble Walking The Walk (app “review”)

And by “The Walk,” I of course mean the story-based fitness app by Zombies, Run creator Six to Start.


The Walk, as I understand it from the various blog posts, was created in large part to encourage people to get out and get walking. And unlike Zombies, Run, which (mostly) allows you to set how long you want a mission to be based on how long you’re running/walking or how far you’ve gone, The Walk so far appears to be pretty strictly time-based in that you have to walk for so many minutes to complete each episode… though it still needs to be able to detect that you’re moving, so no “leaving the phone on the charger while I exercise” for me.

Granted, the reason the app was created doesn’t really apply to me; I work one of those retail jobs where I’m on my feet and constantly moving around all day, so aside from occasionally procrastinating on a free day I more than manage the common suggestion of 10,000 steps per day. So I’m not into the app for the purpose of exercise; I’m into it for the story–which I can also obtain for free on various podcast apps (except possibly the audio clips that rely on scanning landscape features, more on that later)–and the gameplay element–which I cannot.


The gameplay element is where I’m running into trouble, and is the topic of this review/rant.

I started out sticking with the bodyweight workouts (Homefront, 4,000 Fathoms, and Negative Space) from the main Zombies Run app at night, after I got home from work and before I started getting ready for bed, and reserving any “running” missions for my days off from work so I can just… go outside and walk. Once I had finished those missions (barring the addition of more of the same type) I decided to switch to using The Walk for my after-work workout, meaning I’d basically just be pacing back and forth in my bedroom and periodically checking the screen to scan those landscape features whenever they’re in range. Doable, in theory; when I started out, taking the longer route when I had the option do so would take nearly an hour to complete, but I typically stay up late enough after getting home that there was no reason besides procrastination that I couldn’t spend that time exercising.

But the missions start getting longer. Some of the missions take an hour, an hour and a half, two hours even, and that’s when you choose the short path. The next plan, therefore, was to split these up among multiple nights and repeat them as I deem necessary.


Only… that’s where I started seeing problems.

On Tuesday I started that plan, doing only half an hour (give or take) of episode 3 taking the long path and then closed the app, planning to finish the episode (roughly another half hour) on Wednesday night and then repeat it on short mode on my day off on Thursday to earn the “finish within 24 hours” and “finish with less than 3 hours inactivity” achievements.


But on Wednesday, before I even made it to my first break at work I’d gotten a notification saying that I’d completed the episode.


Okay, since my car likes to auto-open whatever audio file I’d been using most recently (still trying to find out how to disable that option), maybe it registered that the app was technically running when I was at work even though I’d closed it the night before and had never opened it again myself.

So Wednesday night I decided to try to test a new theory: do part of an episode, close the app that night, and see (without involving anything bluetooth that might try to auto-start the app) if it decides to run when I don’t want it to.

I reset my progress and began Wednesday with the first episode again, ending my session with “28 minutes to go” (long route)

In theory I should’ve been able to go all day Thursday with the app stuck at that same time.

But after doing a session of Ring Fit Adventure (with my phone in my pocket for the purpose of this test), I discovered that the app had, in fact, progressed along the route.

Clearly some part of this app was running in the background when I didn’t want it to. (One of my biggest gripes about how phone systems work. Way too many apps that are designed to run in the background when they have no business doing so, and closing the app doesn’t actually “close” the app like you’d expect it to on a computer.)

So the next step in my experiment was to simply force-stop the app so that it would, in theory, no longer be running in the background. (If the previous plan had worked, I’d still be doing this whenever I have to drive anywhere due to the car’s tendency to auto-start apps. According to the settings of some of the apps that do this, it’s supposedly a bluetooth thing, but I’ve never seen it happen when I turn on my headphones so there’s clearly some connection to the car’s bluetooth function that I’m missing.)

And then I set out to run some errands, dropping off more donations to the local thrift store, buying ingredients so I can try some recipes I found for air-fryer hand pies, and force-stopping the app every single time it started when the car did.

And despite that care, I still got a notification telling me I’d completed the mission.


At this point, it looks like the only way I’m going to be able to get the gameplay elements out of this one is if I actually watch my phone while I’m going for a walk outdoors, but since my two days off per week are my Zombies Run time I’d have to set the app to not auto-play clips when they’re unlocked and just listen to them when I get back. Unfortunately that doesn’t disable the “ringing phone” and similar audio-based landscape features from playing; on Wednesday I’d made sure to wait until I found that particular item so I could test it before shutting down for the night, and it started playing as soon as I “scanned” the item.

I suppose I could also see if shaking the phone while I’m on the exercise bike will make it think I’m walking, seeing as simply using the bike doesn’t jostle it enough for the app to detect my motion. That would at least give me the benefit of letting me watch the screen when I’m not already trying to watch the road. But we’re still talking some fairly long episodes as I move further along in the story, which means I may still need to split up episodes and use the app multiple times per day.

Or maybe I could do part of a mission one night after work and finish it the next morning if and only if I start it the night before a day off from work… which means only doing it twice a week instead of every day that I’m not doing Zombies Run.


I gotta tell you, though… I’m halfway tempted to just download the podcast and listen to the story that way, remove the app, and spend my few hours between getting home from work and going to bed just reading. And maybe doing a few reps of sit-ups if I feel the need to exercise. At least until they decide they should add more bodyweight exercises to Zombies, Run.

It just seems like my work schedule and the way the app works makes the gameplay element more complicated than it needs to be.

The only reason I’m only “halfway” tempted is because I somehow doubt that the hidden story from those “ringing phone” landscape features is included in the podcast.


Anybody else use The Walk run into these problems? Has anybody found a solution that works for them?

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Workout Week 29: These Delays are Getting Ridiculous

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Yet another new plan.

Instead of randomizing everything, I think I may want to do Ring Fit Adventure’s Adventure mode as my first workout every week (for the purpose of making sure I get another level in–though since these levels tend to last longer than most other workouts that also means making sure I get a workout of a decent length in even if/when my tendency towards procrastination results in doing nothing else)… which means I’ll need to take it off of my randomizer spreadsheet.

I’d still leave other RFA options on the randomizer, Rhythm Mode, mini-games, whatever else happens to exist, and I’d still try to get back into the habit (or start the habit, however the case may be) of the “one workout from every system every week” random element (which means doing those mini-games etc in addition to doing a level of Adventure Mode), this would be the only specifically chosen workout.

Of course, for that change to mean anything, I’ll need to stop procrastinating so I’ll have workouts to record….


On the flip side, I tested something with RFA during the week. Now that I finally have enough Joy Cons for every family member to pick a set to use and never need to share, I wanted to find out more about Ring Fit’s Multitask Mode. Specifically, that 500-point-per-day limit.

Either I’ve been using the wrong search terms or that limit doesn’t have a whole lot of detail available online. Is the limit per user account? Per set of Joy Cons? Per copy of the game? If I do my 500 points in a day, will that prevent anyone else from getting multitask points the same day?

The first and most obvious answer is that it will prevent anyone from getting points at the same time as me… no need to test that, you need the actual Ring Con to earn points so short of ordering a knock-off for the purpose the only way for multiple people to earn Multitask points is to pass the Ring around.

Next step was to see if I could get more points on a second set of Joy Cons after earning the full 500 on the first set. Turns out the Ring itself “knows” how many points I’ve earned–once I earn that 500, it refuses to let me earn any more no matter what Joy Cons I insert, until I’ve gotten onto the game to redeem those 500 points. (Also, I could earn those points on one set of Joy Cons, pop in a new set, immediately start up the game, and redeem them; which Joy Con is attached to the Ring makes no difference.) Which means if my parents choose to give the game a try one of us would need to redeem our points before passing around the Ring… but since the Ring retains that information, there is no need to swap out Joy Cons for the purpose unless the particular user wants to.

And finally, since I can get more points than the 500 limit provided I’ve redeemed them before continuing, the next test was to see if I can actually redeem more than that on a single profile. (Not that I planned to do this on the regular–can’t really consider it “cheating” since I still have to do the same exercise to get the points, but since the idea was to see if this would affect my parents’ ability to play it’d be better if I share those points). And that would be a “no.”

The game flags any profile that has earned 500 points in the span of the day as unable to add more, and I don’t have the paid subscription that gives me access to the various online features like the ability to gift them to a distant friend, so the test required me to add them to one of my parents’ profiles… which required convincing my dad to play through a level to create that profile, walking him through it when it looked like he couldn’t figure out what to do (your typical “I’m too old to understand computers even though the instructions are staring me in the face” spiel, despite having the same computer degree as me and having recently retired from a job that required regular computer use and therefore having more such experience than me who grew up on computers) until the game had progressed enough for me to add those points.


Now here’s hoping I can convince my parents to do more than “try” the game. The only thing they play on the Wii U is Wii Fit, so while I do have some motorcycle-themed games they might like (Mario Kart, which I bought solely because I can play as Link on a motorcycle, and Trials Rising) I kinda thought they might be interested in Ring Fit if I can persuade them to play anything at all.


On a vaguely-related note, Beat Saber has a new DLC pack out, so at some point I’ll need to check out those songs to see if there’s anything my sensory-disordered brain likes enough to pay for…. (I recognize more than few, which has been rare given my limited taste in music, but that never means much from a purchasing perspective.)


I did, miraculously, manage to get in missions through Zombies Run and The Walk every day this week, finishing out the Atlantis mission, nearly finishing Negative Space (one running episode to go!) and finding out how well The Walk works as a “exercise right before bed” alternative to all of the Homefront-esque (more formally known as “bodyweight exercise”) missions that I have now completed.

As alluded to in the previous post, I rather expected getting distracted by social media when I got home from work to be the biggest risk of delaying completion of the Negative Space storyline, but it turns out that one of the running missions carried that risk–on Thursday we went for a motorcycle ride and out to dinner during the time when I would normally have done my daily walk, and by the time we got home it was about half an hour away from sunset. Now, I have a reflective vest to make myself more visible for safety reasons, originally bought during the winter when the weather itself would impair that visibility, but I prefer not to go out for walks when the sun is down regardless; while I had time to do another mission, it was a close thing.

Also, I don’t like Negative Space. I still have one episode to go in which it has a chance to redeem itself, but the way episode four ended (I could deal with the first three without outright “not liking” the story) makes that highly unlikely. To avoid further spoilers, I’ll just say you have to play the story (after having gotten invested in Zombies Run itself) to see why…. though the descriptions of each episode kind of give away part of my reason. And I rather suspect there are a few other New Adventures that I might not like for the same reason.

The Walk is… iffy. The original plan, given the slim possibility that that plan would work, was to do an episode every night when I got home from work the way I’d been doing the Homefront workouts, but even starting off I found problems.

For starters, unlike the running missions in Zombies Run (which you can track via distance, step count, or time-based), the literal storyline of The Walk is purely time-based… but it still needs to detect that you are moving. First problem this represents is that I couldn’t simply leave my phone plugged in and charging while I was going through the story; I had to have it on me the entire time.

Second problem is the gameplay element, all of those landmarks to scan as I pass them, provided if I’m within range; if I pass by too far without tapping a relevant spot it disappears and I’ve lost my chance to collect it until I repeat that episode. Which means I need to be able to watch the screen.

For the first episode I dealt with that second problem by alternating between keeping the phone in my pocket and pulling it out to check the screen, mostly relying on the audio clips to judge if I’ve gone far enough to need to look (and occasionally pulling it out between clips when I knew a lot of time would pass between them).

For the second episode I decided to see if it would work on the exercise bike, fitting the phone into the included tablet mount for the purpose so I could watch the screen, knowing full well that the FAQs page says it would be less accurate this way than simply walking. Well, that bike must be too sturdy because I spent several minutes riding and the icon on the screen never budged to show I was moving. So back to pacing in my room it was.

Third problem is the sheer length of the missions. All of the Homefront missions lasted roughly half an hour which, as long as I didn’t get distracted by social media, was a decent amount of time for working out before bed when I don’t get home until nearly midnight (and don’t have to leave again until afternoon). But you can see from those screenshots that it took me nearly an hour to complete each of these two episodes; that’s doing the longer routes for these two, but some of the later episodes last an hour or more for the short routes.

Since this app has different “achievements” pertaining to completing the missions in a given timeframe (one for finishing without more than three hours of inactivity and another for finishing within 24 hours) I kinda thought I might be able to split up the longer missions… do half an hour one night, another half hour the next, and so on until an episode is done (doing the longer routes first so as to collect everything I can the first time around), and then simply do the short version of that same mission sometime while going about my day to get those achievements. But having not tested that yet, I’m not entirely sure that will work. See, when I went to start the second episode it told me a mission was already in progress (even though I’ve completed the first episode and should not have had anything “in progress”); this would seem to imply that splitting it up the way I want is actually an option. But when I tried to exit an in-progress mission, I would get a warning that I would lose my progress, which would clearly imply that splitting up the episodes that way is not an option.

Fourth problem? Unlike Zombies Run, The Walk has no music option. You can play music on another app, but there is no “pause the music when dialogue is playing” feature. If, like me, you prefer to have the audio clips auto-play when you unlock them (something I’m doing the first time I play each episode, but won’t do the second go-around if the previously mentioned plan works as planned because I’ll likely be listening to Zombies Run for part of it) you’ll want to make sure the volume is set so you can hear the story over your music. And if you don’t have music playing in the background… prepare for a lot of silence between audio clips.

Oh, but there is one thing I got wrong in an older post (took a bit of work tracking down which post), something that isn’t the problem I expected it to be: you can choose which route you want at any point before actually reaching the fork in the road, and the app will continue moving along whatever choice you’ve made. It won’t just sit at that fork waiting for you to make that choice, so battery life depending, I could (in theory) start a mission once I clock in for the day at work and expect most of even the longer missions to be done by the time I go to my first break.



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