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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Workout Week 28: Medical Delays

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Ah, once more the annoyance of having multiple medical appointments in the same week. I mean, it’s only two appointments, one of which is fairly routine at this point, and I know there are people out there who have worse than that, but with only two days off from work in the first place and a fair bit of commuting to get to the appointments that still means less “me” time.

Thankfully the dental crown has already been paid for (back when I got the temporary three weeks prior) or I’m sure I would’ve choked on the cost again. As it is I’m choking on the credit card statement… really got to watch the non-essential spending or I’ll never build up my bank account enough to be worth switching reward systems. (Kasasa if anyone’s curious about that reward. I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere, but my bank currently has me set up with the “Tunes” account which only rewards me for making so many qualifying transactions on Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes, and it’s a finite $10-per-month reward; my goal is to switch to an interest-bearing account so that all of my monthly subscriptions e.g. Netflix will qualify, but I’d need at least $4000 in checking to make it earn more than the Tunes account. And, well…. given that my savings is the only one earning interest without making that switch, I need to keep that built up for the purpose of bill-paying before I try to drop that much into checking.)

 

Anyway, to make a long story short, due to a combination of lack of time and pure procrastination, I slacked off on doing recordable workouts again. I did, speaking of non-essential spending, manage to get my hands on the new LoZ-themed JoyCons (I discovered purely by chance, and not at all by keeping an eye out for them like I should have been doing, that the store I work at had them in stock so I bought a set on my lunch break), though since my work shifts are as late as they are and the Joy Cons needed to be charged and paired to the Switch before I could use them, I have not yet tried them with the Ring Con in conjunction with any of my Homefront-esque workouts in Zombies Run. But now I have enough controllers to play three-player games with plenty of room to choose a preferred controller style (three sets of Joy Cons, two pro controllers, and a “comfort grip”)… assuming I can convince my parents to join me in any of the few multiplayer games I own.

Disclaimer here: The link to the Joy Cons is included above for the sake of “hey I’d like a commission please” but be warned… the scalpers wasted no time buying out stock and relisting them at ungodly high prices, so you might be able to get a reasonably-priced set through my link or you might be waiting a while or buying elsewhere. I wish you the best of luck.

 

I also acquired a new Wii Remote with Motion Plus built in… though I consider this one vaguely essential as there are some games that I simply won’t be able to play without it; the dance workouts in Wii Fit, for instance, require two such Wiimotes. The not-so-essential part of this is that I chose to buy the Yoshi-themed one (from Mario for those like me who aren’t all that familiar with the characters from Nintendo’s pet series–I literally bought Mario Kart so I could play as Link on a motorcycle, not because it was a Mario game) despite the higher cost than a standard color, because I couldn’t a “standard” green one… I wanted to try to match my green-and-white Fit Meter (the other Fit Meter model is black, as is my older Motion Plus Wiimote).

 

Got a few more Zombies Run workouts in, though as predicted dilly-dallying on social media led to missing a few days and delaying the completion of any stories.

The main mission is fine as far as distractions go–as long as I don’t sit online so long that the sun is near to setting before I go out (and as long as my phone has a decent battery when I do go out), I can get my normal two walks in per week.

It’s the stuff I do when I get home from work that suffers delays… like how I easily had enough time to finish the Atlantis mission and make a single attempt at seeing how well I could manage the must-look-at-my-phone-to-collect-everything app that is The Walk while moving around in the confines of my bedroom… and instead I finished out the week with one more episode of the Atlantis mission to go.

Since I’ve only seen two missions thus far in New Adventures that include Homefront-esque missions, and Atlantis is only of the Homefront type whereas the space mission Negative Space alternates between “running” and Homefront workouts, the plan is to start the space mission instead of returning to the app’s main storyline on my next day off, do the final Atlantis episode and the next space episode on my next workdays (I must get the space episode done one of these two days, otherwise the way the workout types alternate means it’ll take me almost another week to complete), which leaves me the next day off to do the third space episode outside, the next workday to do another space episode, and then…. Well, the final two days of the week (both workdays) depend on whether I’ve stuck to the plan or delayed enough to push Atlantis out a bit further, but that will be when I should try The Walk as my after-work workout.

 

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Workout Week 27: VR Problems

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No recordable games this time around, though I did get all of the split-screen versions uploaded and in their proper order in my Fitness Games playlist.

I did notice, too late to fix it (having already deleted the raw footage from the camera in preparation to use it again), that in my rush to get all of those videos rendered last time I’d completely forgotten to switch off the auto-stabilization feature… which resulted in the camera panning in some of the videos as my motion caused it to jostle a bit. Thankfully nothing that resulted in the footage panning out of whatever area it was cropped into but I’ll need to remember to keep toggling off that setting in the rendering stage, at least until I find a setting on the camera itself to do it.

And I’m debating on whether I want to continue recording my games in a split-screen mode or if I should edit them into something that resembles the facecam option common to PC games. Mostly for consistency, although it will still be obvious when I’m pointing a camera at a screen instead of using a screen recorder; my cropping skills aren’t that good!

 

Anyhow, the delay:

On Monday I decided to switch to trying out my VR motion trackers alongside the Quest and PC VR games, only to discover belatedly that I hadn’t downloaded any VR games to my computer! And instead of doing something wild and crazy like playing one of my console games while I waited for the download I simply… didn’t. I think I spent that time reading, which still helps tackle a to-do list, just not the right list.

When Skyrim VR finally finished downloading and installing to my computer, I encountered other problems. Problems of the “game won’t load” variety. I got it to load once so I could play the tutorial, but there was no sound when transmitting to my Quest (happened the first time I used the Quest to play any of my Vive Infinity games, too), and I’d forgotten to install the 3dRudder driver needed to use that accessory to control my motion in-game.

Long story short, I spent most of the day troubleshooting instead of playing anything. Steam VR has since been reinstalled (as that seems to be the most common solution to the specific error messages I had been getting), so it’s a matter of just trying it again later.

And Thursday I helped run errands with my nephew.

 

But for non-recordable options, I have other workouts, so to speak, that I’ve been experimenting with.

Case in point, I’ve been looking at catching up on assorted streaming shows while using the exercise bike… but the problem is that the bike is in the living room which is right outside of my parents’ bedroom. Okay during the day, but problematic if I felt like watching an episode or two when I got home from work. I need something that lets me use private listening.

My first attempt was to use the TV’s screen mirroring option–run whatever app I need on my phone, mirror the screen to the TV, connect headphones to the phone and leave the TV muted. That was a no-go; as it turns out, sound only seems to work on the receiving device so with the TV muted I couldn’t hear anything no matter what the phone’s volume was at. (Why?)

Second attempt, stream from the TV (because the cable box has the apps I need on it) to the phone, etc. Only my phone doesn’t recognize the existence of the TV as something to mirror from.

Since I’m trying to avoid plugging in yet more things by using a Chromecast (and can’t guarantee I’d have any better luck with the “headphones to phone, leave TV muted” step than I did with mirroring), I finally caved and, when a Prime Day deal granted me $10 towards any eligible purchase, I bought myself a relatively cheap pair of headphones designed specifically for connecting to TVs. Since the cheap model doesn’t come with a charging stand (we’re talking a difference of about $30 for the brand I got versus over $100 for the one with the stand that I was considering), not to mention the lack of space on the entertainment center, I think I’ll eventually invest in yet another headphone hook so I can hang it up on a nearby bookcase when it’s charging or otherwise not in use.

 

The beauty of the set I bought is that it has several different connection options. So many sets I’ve found seem designed with the assumption that everyone has a headphone port in their TV and unfortunately mine does not. It does have RCA ports so I’ll just use those. Pity the transmitter doesn’t use Bluetooth, otherwise I could connect a speaker, as well… the dining room table is a fair distance from the TV so we typically turn the volume almost all the way up when we’re watching something during dinner, and a soundbar small enough to avoid blocking the screen just doesn’t put out the kind of audio we need.

 

And finally, with that connection, I can start catching up on my shows, maybe enough to eventually cancel my Netflix subscription (already cancelled Apple after I finished watching all of the exclusives I was interested in) and just stick to paying for Disney Plus and Prime TV.

(As per the disclaimer at the top, there is absolutely an ulterior motive included in that link; Prime TV is one of many various services Amazon offers a “bounty” on for Affiliate members and that bounty is currently increased until the beginning of August if anybody signs up for a trial through my link.)

In my case, “catching up” means watching the various shows of the Arrowverse and whatever else caught my fancy on Netflix, watching the Marvel TV shows and newer movies on Disney Plus, and probably buying the likes of Doctor Who (no “free” streaming that I’ve found unless I’m inclined to sign up for yet another service), watching free first seasons of things that look interesting, waiting for the second season of Upload, and watching assorted other free Amazon exclusives via Prime TV. And of course enjoying the other benefits of being a Prime member like the occasional in-game bonus for Twitch Prime, being able to buy something I need without waiting until I have so much stuff in my cart to get free shipping.

 

And… finally, the actual workouts I’ve accomplished, Zombies, Run.

Two missions, of course, for the main storyline.

Four missions to finish out Homefront and save the world from the super-horde

And since I’ve finished Homefront and had one more workday to finish out the week, I chose to move on to one of the “New Adventures” that includes Homefront-esque workouts…. Mystery At 4,000 Fathoms. This mission is five episodes long (all of them of the Homefront variety, due to “Stoker” Five’s position on board a submarine), so as long as I don’t dilly-dally on social media when I’m supposed to be exercising, I’ll be able to move on to yet another mission at the same time next week.

Also, since I’ve finished Homefront, I can relocate those images to clear out my DropBox folder like I did with the 5K training app without having to worry about consistency. I think I’ll also add a page to my site to hold the galleries for all of the run graphics… rather than cluttering up the sidebar to add a new gallery every season or story or whatever.

 

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Workout Week 26 and July Monthly Update

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The errands I had to run this time around meant I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get any “working out” done on Monday, so instead I shoved all of my gameplay into Thursday. Given that I still had chores in between gaming sessions, the result was recording the final workout at something in the neighborhood of 10 at night and rendering the videos finishing at 3 in the morning.

The further result is that, at the time of posting this blog entry, only the 360 degree versions of the videos are uploaded to YouTube. You can check out the Fitness Games playlist or subscribe to my channel if you’d like to know when the split-screen versions (and one screen-recorded version) are available.

 

And on with the updates!

First we have the inevitable before-and-after photos comparing January to now:

Literally “now” as I’d completely forgotten to take the July photos on my first day off of the month so I took them today.

Oh, and I’m now wearing a 35-waistline in my work pants; previously I couldn’t even fasten up that size (when the 36’s were already loose enough to need a belt or feel like I had to constantly pull them up), even while I was wearing 34’s in casual jeans. Probably should go back to wearing a bra for these photos for consistency’s sake–that would at least tell me if there’s any real change to my Dolly Parton lookalikes–but my spare tire doesn’t look as prominent as it used to be.

 

And of course the “meat” of this series, the actual games:

Given the articles I’ve seen disparaging games like Wii Fit for promoting eating disorders, there is something that I feel bears mentioning, something that I had included in the video description but I had not addressed in the heat of the moment, and that’s that there is far more to “weight loss” when it comes to being healthy than simply losing weight.

Not only does being fit have more requirements than that, but even your actual literal weight doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re unhealthy if you don’t have other details to help interpret that number.

We’re talking:

  • Age (if you’ve played the game before, you might have noticed that the game never gives you a fitness age lower than 20; not only that but I’m moderately sure I remember a warning at the beginning if you attempt to create a profile for someone underage. Basically, this game is not designed to accurately measure a child’s fitness)
  • Bone density
  • Muscle mass (depending on how you exercise, you can theoretically build enough muscle to offset the weight difference of any fat loss, get fitter and lose inches, and still not noticeably lose weight)
  • Fat content (and here we finally have the part that I’m trying to lose)

The Wii Fit Balance board, like any scale that does not measure more than your actual literal weight (such as FitBit’s cheaper Aria Air), can only give you a vague idea as to your BMI which does not take any of these other factors into account. The only reason I continue to rely on these scales is because, even at my theoretical fittest levels, every doctor I’ve spoken to says I should still be about sixty pounds lighter than what I am… at least if I wish to focus on lean muscle instead of body-building; the numbers the Wii Fit gives me can still be used to approximate my progress towards that goal.

And of course there’s the fact that Wii Fit is a game, not a medical diagnosis. It’s meant to be fun, not taken seriously.

 

Next we have another rhythm game in Ring Fit Adventure, this time focusing on Arms and Legs:

I could actually hear the music well enough this time to pick up on the rhythm (TV volume is at the same level as in most of my videos). Not that that prevented me from making mistakes, of course. 😉

 

Then we have the not-a-workout that is skydiving (because brand new save) and Frisbee throwing in Wii Sports Resort:

I was reminded of a few things when making this video:

  • I only have one Wii Remote Plus–I’d thought for sure that I had two, but the white remote must be from the original Wii (not a big deal in this game but I’ll need to acquire a second one or forgo doing any dance games on Wii Fit)
  • Throwing a digital frisbee is really not much of a workout for my purposes (I reserve judgement on making any title-specific playlists outside of the fitness focus, but I anticipate several activities getting removed from my spreadsheet as I go).
  • I’d erased my custom Miis some time ago (all except the one doing the skydiving; no idea where he came from but I’ll want to create a new one for future gameplay)
  • I suck at this game. Even the pup agrees.

 

The first proper attempt at using my 360 camera while streaming VR to my PC… and also the first attempt at Beat Saber’s campaign mode:

I didn’t think I was zoomed out that far when I set this up for rendering, but I might want to zoom in closer to the screen in future videos. The camera is clipped to the edge of my desk via a GoPro clamp so I can’t just set it closer unless I’m willing to rely on a tripod that will need repositioning whenever I need to see the monitor.

 

And the final video from the night, the best themed game to be found on the Stealth Board (might be a little biased 😉 ), Motor Core:

 

 

While my recordable workouts all got shoved into a single day, I still did my Zombies Run missions all but one day out of the week.

Spoiler alert: I thought the implications of episode 4 were sad. Specifically before listening to the 5K training app.
After, though…? A Lost Child was more along the lines of “heartbreaking.”

To be honest I don’t remember why I didn’t do Homefront on Tuesday, though given my habits I probably got sidetracked by social media (instead of putting more progress into the mountain of books) again.

But I am nearing the end of the Homefront segment, which means I’m nearing the point where I need to decide whether to move straight on to The Walk to account for the “watch the screen” requirement for the game element (even as dead as traffic tends to be on my road, I’m not terribly keen on doing that while walking outside which is probably why I haven’t played Pokemon Go in a long while)… or interrupt the primary story missions to do the handful of “New Adventures” that are a mix of running and “homefront” exercises.

 

And of course, my final monthly update.

I gotta say, I like that average a lot more than the July 1 weight… but I can’t say it’s unexpected, seeing as the beginning of June was still on the tail end of losing weight while I was recovering from a cold.

 

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And in other news, I just replaced my year-old (did I really buy it that recently?) Instant Pot 8 quart Viva with an equally-sized Duo Crisp… tested it out last night with a couple of salmon fillets. Yum! My next cooking experiment will be trying a recipe that turns canned salmon into burgers though I’m pretty sure I’m making those on the stove.

(The Duo Crisp was bought from the thrift store at half the new price. I think I’d prefer the 6 quart model just because it will take up less space in the pantry, but for all the need to declutter I’m not yet desperate enough to buy a third one purely for the sake of downsizing… hindsight being 20/20 I should’ve bought a new 6 quart model in the first place and skipped the thrift store option, but maybe when Black Friday/employee Christmas bonus discount rolls around I’ll have made enough of a dent in my student loans to consider a new one worth the cost. Though I might consider it worth buying right this second if the 3 quart model had a Duo Crisp version….)

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Workout Week 25: Workouts after Tooth-Hurty

No recordable workouts this time around, I’m afraid.

On Monday there was another battle with procrastination (I lost, of course) followed by a trip to the dentist to get a temporary crown. While my hyperactive gag reflex never appreciates going to the dentist in the first place, honestly my wallet hurts way more than the tooth… and I still have another appointment in a few weeks to get the permanent crown installed.

On Tuesday, while idly browsing the web before I had to leave for work, I discovered that I could use my PC as a wi-fi hotspot, giving me a new thing to test on my next day off… only for Thursday to arrive with lots of nasty weather. Not “I’ll get wet!” nasty (I like the rain and I’m still waiting for a downpour to coincide with when I have the option to go for a walk outdoors so I can test out my trail shoes) but “thunder and lightning” nasty; all of our surge protectors have lifetime warranties, but a hard drive that’s fried is a hard drive that’s fried so everything important data-wise like computers and game systems remained unplugged most of the day.

 

I made another dent in the mountain of books, though, as I spent most of Thursday finishing one book so I could add it to the donation pile and immediately began a new one.

Speaking of reading, whenever Zombies Run Homefront has you do certain exercises like bicep curls, it suggests holding weights or tin cans while you do the exercise. I’ve occasionally used the Ring Con from Ring Fit Adventure in place of any attempt at weight lifting, but….

Here are a couple of my “tin cans”:

Not as heavy as an actual tin can, obviously, but the size makes them relatively easy to grip without my hands cramping up before the workout finishes, and I’m just too lazy to grab actual weights of any kind. I’d consider weighted gloves (gloves, not wrist wraps), but I can’t find any I like that offer sufficient wrist support–I’m honestly visualizing weights that resemble old-fashioned ladies’ gloves, here, with the sleeves that go halfway to the elbow, but I can’t find any evidence that such a glove even exists for the purpose.

I’m currently tackling my read-and-redonate pile in order of the length of the book. Word count would technically be the most accurate way to do that, but I tend to use the app more than the website when choosing my next read and the app bizarrely enough only gives page count as a sorting criteria…. Probably close enough either way, and regardless of which number I sort by, I have fewer than a dozen episodes of Homefront to go and lots more books in that mountain; even if they release more Adventures with Homefront-esque workouts I’m unlikely to need to pick out new “tin cans” for a long time to come.

 

And speaking of Zombies Run, the weather let up in plenty of time to get a walk in.

And nothing but procrastination to interfere with continuing the Homefront, which of course means I didn’t even do half of the week’s missions:

(I see they changed the format of the Homefront graphics. Finally decided there was no “pace” when the phone cannot actually detect your movement?)

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Workout Week 24: Boy are my arms TIRED!

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Otherwise known as “reasons to make sure the camera is in the correct mode before you start recording.”

My warped sense of humor decided to upload this as an attempt at my first “shorts” on YouTube

For those of you who don’t click to the actual video, what happened is Beat Saber had finally come up on my randomizer, and having determined that Cast-to-PC plus the webcam was my best option so far I recorded the game using that.

But I also set up my GoPro Fusion to see how well that would pick up the game’s audio (given the whole issue with cast-to-PC not actually including the audio for reasons I have yet to solve). Not to upload as yet another test, but mostly for my own curiosity–to delete if it doesn’t do the job well enough, and to upload as a normal “workout video” if it did.

Only… I didn’t realize until after I’d finished “recording” that the Fusion was in photo mode… so I got 400-some-odd photos in burst mode rather than the 4-minutes-and-change video I was expecting. And this is what the camera’s proprietary editor decided to do with all of those photos. I thought it was funny enough to try uploading as a YouTube short, but of course your mileage may vary, and of course I still haven’t found out how well the Fusion picks up the headset’s audio.

On the plus side, I found out that the tripod I normally use to record my console games was safe enough on the floor in front of my computer… at least while playing Beat Saber. I’ll probably still want to look for a suitable desk tripod or clip for more exploration-type games.

 

In the meantime, there are also actual exercise videos to be had this week.

Week 24 marks the start of my attempts to do four workouts per week (two per day off) so as to have one video per week per gaming system… not to mention do more exercise in general since some of these games are extremely short. Depending on how things go with other interruptions, such as an upcoming dental appointment, but in any case, we have:

The Soccer Heading game in Wii Fit U

The Four Masters rhythm game (core/legs version) from Ring Fit Adventure

The actual session with Beat Saber (captured via the screen recorder Bandicam) on the Oculus Quest

And finally another attempt at the Stealth/planking board via the Racquet Ball game

Definitely need to work on my form doing planks. Even going for a minute, it just hurts my neck more than I think it should (which is to say, at all), and while the whole “staring at my phone while planking” could be a contributing factor, I vaguely remember having the same problem doing planks on the Wii Fit.

Might see if doing wall planks/push-ups (when I’m not recording) will help build up the strength I need to do these better….

 

And on to Zombies, Run!

First we have the introduction to the app… technically the same chapter as in the 5K app, but with slightly different dialogue and (as I’m sure you’ve noticed from previous updates) a slightly different graphic. Also the main app involves collecting supplies as the 5K app never did.

I had been commenting on other posts about an issue with my phone going to sleep and effectively killing the app’s ability to update the display… and I had been looking for an easy way to keep the phone awake during an entire session–easier said than done since the most you can delay it by is 10 minutes, the only “disable sleep mode” function unless it’s plugged in and charging (developer options, at that, not even a regular setting), and charging cases in my preferred “folio” style are just not that easy to come by.

But I had since noticed during a Homefront session, entirely by accident (I thought the phone was plugged in but it wasn’t), that the phone’s tendency to kill the app doesn’t seem to affect the main app, just the 5K one. Granted, with Homefront involved there’s no GPS tracking so it could also have been that the app just wasn’t doing enough for there to be a problem. But I am now happy to report that even with GPS tracking involved, the phone going to sleep does not seem to kill the main app. So no need to buy an expensive new phone case just to keep the app running properly

And then there is my progress with Homefront:

Of course I missed a couple of days of working out.

Once was because my mother was having issues with her phone (as it turns out, the battery was shot and needed replacing), and my parents kept me looking up solutions for half an hour when I got home from work instead of getting my phone plugged in to charge right away. The result is that I didn’t get to start my me-time until it was late enough that I needed to go to bed and rest up for the next day of work… and also my phone died before it started charging, which I didn’t realize until the next morning when my parents woke me an hour after my alarm was set to go off.

The other was because the weather was nasty outside, my phone’s battery was low enough that I’d need to charge it while doing Homefront, and I didn’t relish plugging it in (lifetime warranties on surge protectors does not translate to recovered data if the device is completely fried; we unplug all important device during storms no matter what the surge protectors promise.)

 

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BookCrossing: Empty Shelves

In which I finally (mostly) cleared off two shelves’ worth of books from the get-rid-of pile.

As mentioned elsewhere, I’m going to be backdating a bunch of these posts so I can “upload” them at roughly the same time as when I released the relevant books into the wild–seeing as it didn’t occur to me to start posting about it until a few years after I started on the site–but this would be one of the first that doesn’t need that backdating.

Because the relevant release happened on my previous day off from work.

 

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been gradually reading books from my print collection, replacing them with digital copies (when possible) if I liked them enough to keep in some form and donating the print copies, and just outright donating if I didn’t like them enough to keep.

Naturally I could donate the books faster than I could read them, but when several months ago my parents went through a “spring cleaning” mode and decided to get rid of a bunch of books all at once, the get-rid-of pile increased considerably. So much so that I had to keep a set of bookshelves organized according to Bookcrossing status:

with the upper-most shelf (the open one in this photo) reserved for movies we wished to rehome, the next shelf being those that have been registered to Bookcrossing and labeled (and merely awaiting a time to donate), the next shelf being those registered but not labeled, and the final shelf being those that have not even been registered.

And despite this organization, I still kept ending up with piles of books on the floor in front of the shelf unit; short of keeping the two “registered” shelves packed full, there were simply too many books to fit on the bottom!

(Photo taken after a bunch of books had already been donated en masse.)

 

The problem is that I keep forgetting to register books as I read them, thus needing to constantly find room on the bottom shelf instead of being able to move to the next shelf up as I go. That and my preference for only labeling books ten at a time (so as to use one full sheet at a time) which of course requires space on the “labeled” shelf to move ten books up in the first place.

 

But finally, as of this past Monday, I managed to nearly clear off both the “labeled” shelf and the “unregistered” shelf.

I released the final labeled book, Soup of the Day, to a local outdoor library (the books remaining on that shelf, while also labeled, are not available for wild release; they are instead on reserve and waiting for my parents to pay a visit to the relative who has requested them).

I also made a trip to the local thrift store and donated en masse every mass market book that I have not yet registered, leaving only the oversized paperbacks and hardcovers to occupy space on the bottom shelf and clearing away the pile that had once again built up on the floor.

And after I got home and took this photo, I labeled another group of ten books. But rather than put them immediately on the appropriate shelf, I left them in a pile in the family room, as per my father’s request, so that my parents can grab a few to take on a trip with them and leave in whatever hotels they stay in along the way. Once my parents have made their selections and left for that trip, I can put the remaining labeled books on the shelf and determine if there is space enough to move up another ten books.

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