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

Posted on by Side Quest Publications | Leave a comment

Workout Week 41: Other Kinds of Self Care

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

Not much recordable footage this time around, yet again due to a combination of things like weather and someone occupying my gaming space in place of an actual guest room.

 

Let’s focus on the weather as it pertains to the “other self care” element of this post.

One of the weirdly nice things of not spending time recording videos is that I can still, barring yet more procrastination, convince myself to use that time to tackle other tasks in the backlog, up to and including all of those videos still in need of editing for my motorcycle channel and my hodgepodge of a main.

One of the also-weirdly-nice things about being unable to do even that due to weather is that I have yet other tasks to occupy my time, like reading. And reading. And reading some more.

Normally I try to spend an hour or two a day reading–not so much as a “time” based goal but a “finish a chapter/x number of pages but I don’t read as fast as I used to” based goal. And, at least until I start into the really long books on my to-read pile, that means I’ve been finishing a book a week on average.

But Monday I spent enough time reading (with occasional breaks to rest my eyes) that I went from being maybe a third of the way done of a 400 page book to a little over two thirds (my page count goal would estimate that to be three days’ worth of reading). A couple of days later I finished that particular book, added it to the to-donate pile (given the size of both my physical and digital to-read pile, I’m still debating on whether I want to continue the series enough to buy it on Kindle), and once I grabbed the next book and reshuffled my remaining options I realized a very important detail:

All of my to-read books now fit on my desk! And as long as I don’t acquire books faster than I read them (goodreads giveaways, bargain bin, thrift store), I’ll be able to continue shrinking that selection as I read and redonate so that they continue taking up less space as time goes on.

Granted, that isn’t actually all of my print books in general. There are still the books I had signed in person (which I’m obviously keeping), the ones I got signed via buying straight from the author in some fashion to “help the author out” (which I’ll probably keep unless I get desperate for more space), and the signed copies I got by chance from things like Goodreads giveaways (which I’ll add to the to-read pile once the unsigned books are gone, on the grounds that there’s no emotional attachment to having them as signed copies and it’s the easiest way to find out if I’d like them enough to keep them in some form). But it is the remainder of the unsigned books, the ones that have no reason whatsoever for me to feel attached to keeping them in their current form outside of the sunk cost of “I bought it, I should read it.”

 

(On a slightly lesser note, I’ve also finished getting rid of the books already labeled to donate in the form of Bookcrossing and outdoor libraries. Now it’s time to print off another list of labels for another round of once-a-week dropoffs. I probably won’t do that with the signed copies, though; not that I expect them to be in a “collectible” condition once I’m done reading them, but I think I’d prefer to limit the damage to anyone who might want to collect them by at least not sticking adhesive labels inside of them.)

 

And once the books are finally emptied off of the desk, I can seriously consider getting rid of it and pushing my bed into that space (barring being able to justify the cost of a Murphy by that point) in order to get that little bit more floorspace for VR and simply being able to navigate my bedroom in general. (Part of the plan is to take the shelf unit that’s shoved into my closet and put it against the wall where the head of my bed currently sits; I can take the VR accessories currently attached to my desk and hang them up over there when that’s done.)

There’s just… one small problem with that plan. I was able to relocate most of my computer hardware to my main desk without space being an issue (I’d decided not to wait until I could replace it all with a laptop, though such a replacement is still planned), but that graphics amplifier is huge. I tried sticking that on the main desk, but unless I can figure out a way to get it into place without hiding it behind the monitor (which might require a tall-enough monitor stand if one exists), I simply won’t be able to keep it there without taking up about half of the desk’s available depth. And since I’ve only been using it as a glorified USB hub (figured at the time I bought it I’d buy a new graphics card somewhere down the line, but between the AGA’s requirements and scalpers making it hard to afford the right card, it’s almost easier to just buy a new computer at this point), I thought I might just replace it with one and take up less space… but first I’ve got to figure out how to revert the software to stop requiring it to be connected.

 

Now onto the gaming aspect.

On Thursday, I finally, finally got around to trying out my Cybershoes for a gaming video… only to discover that they’re not (yet) compatible with the game I’d selected, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time.

So *shrug* power off the shoes and I’d play the game normally, and I’d just count it among my multitude of general games rather than something that I could shoehorn into the fitness category. (And add “moving enough in the real world to count a VR game as fitness” to my oddly-specific list of reasons to save up for my own apartment 😉 )

Except instead of doing that I found a few occupational hazards that I feel are unique to YouTubing…

First is simply the equipment limitations. The lack of Cybershoes for one, the fact that Quest doesn’t transmit sound to PC when casting via Oculus’s own browser-based system for another, and finally where that second element forces me to depend on my webcam to pick up the game’s sound not working so well when my computer’s fan is running so loud.

Second “hazard” I noticed, which would certainly be a common problem out in the real world, and as such, for a wide variety of niches and genres on Youtube, but I expect is unique to VR when it comes to gaming videos, is that I’m short. Not really short, just a few inches below average from what I’ve read, but short enough to make certain things unexpectedly difficult since I had this session set to standing mode. (My position with regards to the webcam may make it hard to tell, but if you look closely you should be able to see me reaching way over my head to grab the lever for that fuse box. I’m mostly sure it was almost in my face the handful of times I’d sampled the game with “seated mode” turned on but I don’t remember for certain.)

And the final occupational hazard, the one that prompted me to upload this particular video, is the interruptions from people who know I’m recording something, know I’m trying to make some money at this (dare to dream), and therefore know that it’s rude to interrupt outside of an emergency until I tell them I’m done recording… but interrupt for non-emergencies anyway.

 

Oh, I also used VSDC (the same one I’d been using for split-screens) to edit this time around rather than the much-outdated Windows Movie Maker.

A bit of a learning curve (which is normal), and my own computer’s resolution means I won’t be getting 4K quality out of the deal for screengrabs, but I’m liking it enough that I’m seriously debating on buying the pro model for additional features… such as its ability to make similar edits to 360 degree videos.

 

And with Zombies Run

As per the above mention of the weather, I didn’t get out for a walk on Monday, but I did finally finish that 10K episode on Thursday.

Next in the story appears to be a pair of 20Ks. Yay.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

  • Oculus Quest (I have the original, thus the link. I’d done some research on the 2 to decide how it would most likely affect my migraines–weight plus IPD–and decided my best bet was just to stick with what I have.)
Posted in Gaming, Self Care | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout Week 39-40 and October Monthly Update

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

Even accounting for all of the delays, it feels like there is something seriously wrong with the notion that I have more weeks of workouts this late in the year than actual workouts. (Case in point, the most recent upload non-monthly-update being my *checks YouTube* 29th workout.) Well, if I start trying harder to take advantage of my recording space for VR instead of procrastinating whenever my console space is being used as a “guest bedroom,” I still have time to finish out the year with a once-a-week average…. Especially once I start trying other games, even adding the motion trackers to the mix.

 

Speaking of the guest bedroom, my parents finally decided to convert the junk room back to a bedroom and had me order a bed they can put in there for the purpose.

And then two days later told me to return it as the guest’s mom wants him back home.

It’s been almost a week and I’ve heard no word on when anyone besides me is going to act on either of those announcements.

 

 

In any case, some progress of the digital kind was still possible.

For instance, though I completely forgot to take photos until it was time to write this post, getting the before-and-after shots is always easy:

 

Gameplay-wise, the fitness test is actually the last thing that I did for this grouping, but I still added it first here for sake of whatever consistency I’ve managed to retain throughout these posts:

 

A “fitness age” of 20 doesn’t happen all that often, especially given the random nature of the tests, so when it does come up I’m a bit more pleased than normal.

 

Next on the list is Ring Fit Adventure:

and the return of the pajamas-as-workout-clothes. While I did mention the weather in the course of the video, that wasn’t the reason for the pjs (I would’ve been wearing those winter ones with the foxes if it was). No, the reason for wearing pjs was because the only two pairs of shorts I owned that fit comfortably (ish–they were getting loose and needed replacing but it’s the wrong time of year to easily find shorts) had both finally lost their buttons and hadn’t been fixed yet. I have since, as per that parenthetical note, bought two more pairs of shorts with a 34-waistline… of the same make as the 35’s as the pants I wear to work. (The old shorts are 36s but the new ones are snug enough that I’m not quite ready to downsize.)

 

And the only other game I attempted to record, moving on to level 3 of Beat Saber’s Campaign Mode!

No webcam/screen recorded version to be had this time around, I’m afraid. I finally remembered to adjust my Bandicam settings to separate the two for easier cropping, but failed to realize until the editing stage that the webcam wasn’t picking up any audio! Rather than finagle with timing so I could get the audio from these videos to add to that, I simply opted to delete the computer version of the footage as unnecessary extra footage.

 

And of course there is the non-recordable workout in the form of Zombies, Run!

For this grouping, the story order had me going through the Abel-based 5- and 10K “races.”

The Ultraviolet 5K was easy (ish) though thanks to weather, time of year, and spending too much of my afternoons on the computer when I’m supposed to be getting out and about, I ended up splitting it up over two days again.

The 10K episode, like with the New Canton 10K, was split up over (hopefully) two days due to length… been a long time since I’ve gone on Volksmarches with my parents and even if I gave myself the time I simply wouldn’t want to try walking that much all at once! However, as you can see I only have one run graphic for this episode; it was supposed to be split up over Monday and Thursday, but weather (in this case pertaining entirely to how dark it was), time to sunset, and I-like-dogs-but-don’t-trust-them-when-their-owners-let-them-run-into-the-road (these ones weren’t chasing me like some have done, but when I saw them wandering unattended in the middle of the road a little past my own driveway I just decided I wasn’t going to try to pass them) compelled me to end it early on Monday before I’d managed a full mile and I simply opted to start the episode from the beginning again on Thursday.

So I’ll need to finish out the 10K and then figure out if there are any main season episodes before I start in with the two 20Ks… which, at 5K per session, will take me a full month of free time to complete.

 

And I forgot again… the actual numbers on the scale!

 

 

And in between workout videos I really need to get back to editing that backlog of assorted other content for my other two channels… not to mention new content. Motorcycle videos, book reveals from the likes of Goodreads Giveaways, things like that.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout Week 37-38: Prepping for another 5K

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

And another delay due to going to the movies with my folks. (Hey, I said I needed to stop doing that, not that I was going to. Willpower, ya know? Though in addition to the delays, saving money would be another good reason to wait for the home releases; I don’t need to see anything early enough to go to the theater….)

But I did manage a few workouts one week, covering the range of all of my consoles (no VR) this time around… and then completely forgot to upload them until the next week when I ended up not doing any. Go figure.

 

In any case, we have the Bridge of Insight from Ring Fit Adventure’s World 3:

 

An attempt at one of the advanced Yoga moves in Wii Fit Adventure

(FYI that is not a “bedroll” behind me that I tried to kick out of the way. That is the extremely hard platform for one of the bunks–over-the-cab if I remember what my dad said correctly–in my parents’ RV, brought in for my nephew to sleep on while he’s guesting in my gaming space.)

 

And finally another go at the Stealth Planking system!

I turned off music in the app due to a copyright that I have no means to deal with (one version of my footage of the Racquetball game got flagged as using music that–to me–doesn’t even sound like what’s included in the game, but since I don’t own copyright for any part the game I can’t appeal it on that basis), which has been fine for the most part, but I feel like this particular game would’ve benefited from actually having music. Oh, well.

 

Moving on to the non-recordable stuff, I continue trying to get a FC SS score on my handful of bought-and-paid-for songs on Beat Saber while playing Normal mode at a slightly increased speed (there are four speed options: default, slower than default, slightly faster than default, and quite a bit faster).

While I have managed the highest score tier of “SS” a few times (to my shock) I have yet to complete a single level at this higher speed with any score in which I managed to hit every block–the best I’ve managed thus far was missing one. So no Full Combo as of yet, which means no going on to the “quite a bit faster” option just yet.

 

And with Zombies Run, I got all of the main missions finished right up until just before the next 5K.

Funny, I could’ve sworn there were more episodes than that between the last 10K and now. But looking at my run logs I don’t appear to have missed any, nor missed uploading any, so clearly I’m just misremembering. I just remember working out in my head that the number of episodes would let me do episode 18 on a Monday (without skipping any days) and follow up that same Thursday with the next 5K versus having to do the 5K in a different week and I have no idea where I’d come to that conclusion.

 

Speaking of skipping days, do you know what the hardest part of doing Homefront in German is? Waiting for the cue to start a particular workout and not realizing you’ve already been given it because you’re functionally (almost) illiterate in the language. My seven years of being a military brat with the bare minimum of language training is, perhaps, why I was willing to give it a try but it certainly doesn’t help much without the English version of the story to listen to. I already knew “schnell!” (“now”), I had to look up “los!” (“come on”) though it’s repeated enough to recognize as a cue, hearing Janine set the timer is obvious no matter what language you speak, and I can pick up enough key words that, combined with doing the English version of the app alongside of the German, will sometimes clue me in to what part of the story they’re telling. But I have lost count of how many times I’ve just stood there waiting for the narrator to stop jabbering and give me the instruction to start exercising, only to realize when the music started playing that I’d actually missed the workout.

What does that have to do with skipping days? Well, not a lot other than “I’m doing the German episodes of Homefront.” But to make a long story short, the language barrier is such that I decided to repeat episodes–English one day, then the German version, then back to the English version of the same episode before moving on. Which of course will make it take longer to get so far into the series than if I stuck with one language even without skipping days. So this past Sunday was supposed to be the day I finished that grouping for episode 7 (when you first visit Spectrum Mall), except I had a sharp pain in my foot that discouraged me from doing any more walking that night than I absolutely had to. I suspect my work shoes are overdue for a replacement.

 

I also tried another quick (ish) experiment with The Walk. Somewhere along the lines I’d forgotten that the app connected to my Google Fit account until I was adjusting some settings on that, so I decided to disconnect it to see if that would affect its tendency to count my steps in the background when I don’t want it to. (For those who don’t want to click the link, the short version is that even if I force-quit The Walk before going anywhere, if I start running errands or go to work or whatever and am walking around, it will continue to track my movement and add it to my progress, preventing me if I am mid-episode from collecting all of the “landscape features” for the gamified aspect of the app–I have this same problem with FitBit’s challenges–if I am not in a position to pay attention to my phone while it’s running.)

The theory was that if I disconnected it from Google Fit, I would essentially force the app to depend completely on its own step-counter instead of picking up the real-time-all-the-time tracking from Google. As it turns out, I was partially right; the game won’t even let me open it without connecting it to Google Fit (suggesting that maybe it doesn’t have a step counter of its own the way Zombies Run does), meaning to split up hours-long episodes over multiple workdays I’d have to keep connecting and disconnecting every single time I want to use it, but it does leave it wherever I left off instead of continuing or (as I’d actually feared) resetting my progress. I’d still force quit it whenever I go anywhere, at least until I find and disable the setting that causes it to open every time I start my car (but somehow not when I turn on a pair of bluetooth headphones), but this may let me use the app if a different solution is not found.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout Week 36 and September Monthly Update

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

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 in 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.

(Mid-October update: not sure how I manage to forget to add my September numbers….)

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.

 

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout Week 35: Not a Monthly Update

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

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.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout Week 34: Environmental Deterrents

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

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.)

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout Week 33: Plans Seldom Survive Engagement with the Enemy

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

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.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

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.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout Week 31 and August Monthly Update

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

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:

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

Posted in Fitness, Gaming | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment