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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in ProTH's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, March 9th, 2014
8:59 pm
Tiki Tock
So big changes at JJSWiki. After a recent server migration at my host, it was no longer working at all, just throwing up a crazy error. This is because it was running on an ancient version of TikiWiki which was no longer behaving properly with the modernest of PHP versions and all that. One previous time I'd been forced into an upgrade for a similar reason, but this time I decided that as long as I was going to have to go through this hassle again I might as well go all the way and switch over to MediaWiki. There were two reasons I chose TikiWiki over MediaWiki back in 2006:

1. Installation took far less space. Since TikiWiki installation sizes have grown more than MediaWiki's in the intervening years, and thanks to having an upgraded hosting package, this is no longer an advantage.

2. TikiWiki offered all sorts of non-wiki doodads. Blogs, charting features, aaaand a bunch of other stuff I never really cared enough about to use anyway. In the odd case when I have something bloggy I can just toss it here where almost noone will ever read it anyway.

So without those advantages, staying attached to a lesser-used wiki platform would just make things more difficult for me. Wikipedia and Wikia are Kind Of Big Deals, so getting used to using them and then going back and having to do things differently at JJSWiki was just getting to be a bother.

It's not as easy as just saving all the content from one wiki format and bringing it to another, but I searched and found enough of a guide to make it far less difficult. I first had to upgrade to a slightly newer TikiWiki version anyway, so it was at least functional enough to use the Export Wiki Pages option, which I did. I was then able to use a script found here that would convert the pages to a format MediaWiki would accept as import. It choked a few times on certain page names, but I was able to work around that here a lot easier than trying to manually move nearly 2000 pages. Even the edit histories are still there, which is more than I was expecting.

The page formatting... is mostly decently converted. Bolds are still bolds and all that, though not everything is perfect. A few major things are definitely very broken--I made some heavy use of a few custom functions of my own. This means I'll now have to rewrite them and edit the way they're used in hundreds of pages, but that's kind of my idea of a good time. The URL format for every page isn't the same as what it used to be either, but really my only heavy linker was Google, and it's smart enough to pick up on changes quickly enough.
Monday, July 15th, 2013
10:26 am
Pacific Rift
So I really really enjoyed Pacific Rim. The main thing about the movie, giant monsters and/or robots, is not something new. There are plenty of examples going back a good 60 years, including thousands of television episodes. BUT the difference is when you make a two hour movie with a budget that probably exceeds the entire Ultraman franchise, it's able to get a level of detail and realism that I can actually buy into. It's no longer "Oh, there's a guy in an obvious suit walking around an obvious miniature set.", but "Yes, I believe this is what it could look like if monsters and robots hundreds of feet tall fought in a near-modern city." This makes me wonder, what about those audiences of ~50 years ago? Being of a different time and with different expectations, did the early giant monster movies look as impressive to them as Pacific Rim did to me? If so it becomes easier to understand how huge the genre became.

Changing of expectations brings me to the Oculus Rift, the upcoming VR headset that I'm really really looking forward to. The thing is, it seems so cool I wonder if it will cause another personal shift in expectations. Will all content made for rectangular screens start to seem a bit quaint, as 2D has started to now that we live in an age of pretty easy 3D? I know while watching Pacific Rim I was wondering how it would be to watch some of these scenes using a Rift-like device, from the perspective of someone standing on the ground or on top of a building. Seeing incredible and impossible things in a very personal way is something I'm very looking forward to.
Friday, January 4th, 2013
8:19 am
Upgrading Geordi

It had long been my plan to give Geordi a mid-life upgrade by GPU. One step that will do a lot, and is a lot simpler to plug-out and plug-in than mucking with something like a replacement CPU--that can wait some more years for a totally new machine. I'd even for a long time had a general idea of what I was going for. To make the transition as possible, go from the same family member from one generation to another. So since I had a GeForce GTS 450, I figured it would probably be something like a 650. Doing a bit of research recently, though, I see the (number)50 is relatively a bit on the lower end this time. The performance jump wouldn't be greater, but it would use a lot less power and whatnot. While it was an objective to pick something that wouldn't be hot and noisy that seemed like giving too much up, so I went with the next half-step up: the GTX 650 Ti. Compared to the GTS 450 it has about twice the processing capability and uses barely more power, and the specific model I went with has twice the RAM (2 GB, up from 1). Decent upgrade.

I thought it would be interesting to go back to the benchmarks I ran when upgrading the PC's stock card to GTS 450 over two years ago and run them now on this even newer equipment. I also tossed in one new comparison using one of the benchmarks built into Just Cause 2. One thing that makes the comparison somewhat less even is back then I was using the iZ3D driver for 3D mode, while now I'm using NVIDIA's 3D Vision.

Mitchell Geordi
w/ Radeon 5450
w/ GeForce GTS 450
w/ GeForce GTS 450
w/ GeForce GTX 650 Ti
w/ GeForce GTX 650 Ti
FF XI "High"
1877 5942 9293 5234 7226 N/A
FF XIV "Low"
(Sound only)
716 3199 1521 3799 2934
FF XIV "High"
351 1708 736 3290 1830
Just Cause 2
"The Dark Tower"
N/A N/A 35.27 fps 17.93 59.22 32.29

Final Fantasy XI is a bit of a weird one. I expected that something made for the machines of a decade ago, doesn't use modern effects, and maxes out at 1024x768 wouldn't see much gain... but it actually seems to be lower? I did run it a couple times to be sure. Also, no 3D score for this one because I guess this benchmark doesn't work with 3D Vision.

Final Fantasy XIV and Just Cause 2 were mostly what I expected--results about doubled. A few exceptions are the lowest shown cases for each. I think at the less taxing times they were hitting frame rate caps, so the average improvement appeared to be less. The highest resolution 3D one for FF XIV also saw an extra large boost--though it's weird in that it only worked out that way the second time I ran it. The first time I ran it I thought the result of 1198 seemed unusually low, so I gave it another go. I guess something in the background was distracting the computer the first time around?

Beyond these benchmarks the only real-world test I've put it through yet is Skyrim--but since it detected the new card it modified the settings to suggested defaults, so I'll have to fiddle with that again. BUT thanks to the extra RAM I'm now able to use the official high res texture pack without it chugging along like an overencumbered character.

On a practical note, this card should stay a little cooler because I made a doofus mistake in 2010. Replacing the small included card with the bulkier GTS 450, it took a lot more height-- but I didn't notice that it was designed to use two of the rows on the back of the case unlike the included card, so the vent was mostly blocked by a thin piece of metal. Though the GTX 650 Ti is smaller overall, it has outputs on both the top and bottom parts that stick out slightly. It thus couldn't fit in without me figuring out which part needed to be removed and should have been 26 months ago.

Sunday, October 7th, 2012
7:58 am
Computer nunchuk: Borderlands
Borderlands was a pain in the ass to get set up to work with computer nunchuk.

First, I just tried the game with no attempts to change things. I was glad to see it wasn't exclusive about input, and accepted gamepad and keyboard/mouse inputs together. However, when I went to customize the controls I found that while mouse/keyboard was fully customizable, this was not the case for gamepad, so there was no way I could get a proper setup going that way.

Next option was to bring in JoyToKey. However, when I'd hit a button and have it do what I wanted by way of JoyToKey, the game was also still interpreting it as a button press and doing what its own control setup said to do. So that was a no-go.

Next option was to go to the MotionInJoy program that's used to connect my PS Navigation Controller to the PC to begin with, and create a custom setup there. I wanted it to still process the analog stick as a proper analog stick for more precise movement, while the other buttons would act as keyboard presses. Thus, they could perform actions without conflicting with the game's default schemes. So I set this up and... movement doesn't work in the game. Since this more customizable MotionInJoy mode is different than its pretend-to-be-an-Xbox-360-controller mode, it seems Borderlands ignores it altogether, so no analog stick that way.

What worked in the end was to mess with the game's config files. While it probably would be possible to do all of my desired changes right in there, the unfamiliar format would be a bit of a hassle to learn just for this purpose. But I could understand enough to comment out the lines that appeared to have anything to do with the X360 controller other than the analog stick. Now the analog stick still works, the other actions can be assigned via JoyToKey, and there are no conflicts.

Though thanks to this stuff I've barely put any time into the game at all and may decide to tinker with these controls, for now here's how I have things set up:

Mouse left: Shoot
Mouse right: Zoom
Mouse middle: Melee
Mouse movement: Look

Analog stick: Strafing, forward/back motion
Analog button: Sprint
L2: Jump
D-pad up: Use
D-pad right: Reload
D-pad down: Crouch
D-pad left: Status screens
X: Action skill
O: Grenade
PS: Menu

Currently unused: Two side mouse buttons, L1
Saturday, September 29th, 2012
6:26 am
Intertwined memories
I read Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth in probably late 1996 or early 1997. How can I tell? Because a few minutes of research tells me that's when The Cardigans' single for Lovefool was a recent thing, and thanks to its heavy rotation on the school bus radio while reading, these two incredibly unrelated things are connected in my mind.

I know I've got other such mixed-up connections, though none that I've been so consciously aware of for so long. However, sometimes I think about whether it will happen. For instance, in the last few weeks I read through the entirety of the Death Note manga. A sort of modern-day supernatural cat-and-mouse battle between a man trying to change the world with his power to kill, and those trying to stop him. Aaaand probably the song I played the most during that period was a S/mileage song. What a tonal disconnect.
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
3:54 pm
Who in the world is Sayaka Suzuki? II
Well, the good news is I was finally able to find some information about musician Sayaka Suzuki.  Part of it did turn out to be a Japanese naming thing--searching for the reverse "Suzuki Sayaka" as seen on the cover art, along with "Ace Music" as company name, led me to <a href="http://www.ace-music-exp.com/artists/sayaka.html">this page</a>, which includes various information including a <a href="http://www.ace-music-exp.com/artists/sayaka/sayaka_disco.html">discography</a>.

The bad news is it seems her entire professional career was 2002-2006, and the first album I bought was actually her last.  At least the last work with Ace Music, but it's already established I've not found much else regarding her on Google.
Monday, August 27th, 2012
10:57 am
Everything's bigger in Texas, Japan
So sometimes in the past I've ended up on crazy Wikipedia walks through something like information about superhero comics and flabbergasted at all the connecting information and retcons and reboots and teamups and bla bla bla to be found. Recently I found myself similarly amazed at what I was coming across in terms of manufactured Japanese bands.

In the west if we think of some producer-built band, maybe we think of something standalone like the Spice Girls. Maybe at the biggest something like Menudo which had a few dozen members overall, but only had something like five active members at a time. But some of the Japanese megagroups put these things to shame. It's almost more like a professional sports team setup where they have related minor league teams and such. Maybe, if multiple sports teams on the same level had the same owner.

Take Hello! Project, the main group of which is Morning Musume but there are many others, some of which are sister groups with completely different names, some of which are meant as sister groups with a twist like Coconuts Musume consisting of Hawaiians, and even sub-groups made up of subsets for whatever reason. One of the most successful of these subgroups was Minimoni, made up of performers of height 150cm or less. I don't know how many people are in Hello! Project overall now, but Wikipedia has info about a special song performed by all of the then-members in late 2004 which looks to have included 46 people.

BUT even that is made to look tiny by the AKB48 empire. So named because it started with... 48 members. The idea was that by having 3 teams within the group they could reduce the workload on individuals, and have more performances in more places. HOWEVER, as it became a bigger success they did things like add a fourth team. And create sister groups based in other areas of the country (like SKE48) or even out of it (like JKT48). There are also subgroups like the one with the greatest name, Not Yet. The producer "named the group 'Not Yet' because the members' dancing and singing skills were, as he described, not very good yet." They also hold a "senbatsu election", which is basically a popularity contest among the fans. The girls that are more popular will get more focus put on them and whatnot. The most recent one, covering the entirety of all of these related groups? Includes 243 people. Holy shit.
Sunday, August 26th, 2012
3:24 am
Not-a-vector-but-probably-should've-been: GPS
My normal method of learning a route is to try to get someplace, get mixed up, circle around for a while until I figure it out, and then add that to my list of known routes.  For this reason I don't often go out of my way, and thus it adds to my homebodiness.  This is pretty stupid.

Strange as it sounds, sometimes I should think of my life MORE like a video game.  If a game has a crappy map system, don't I knock it for it?  If a game had a decent mapping/directional system that I had to purchase in-game, wouldn't I spend a whole ot of spacebucks to receive this upgrade?  So why not in real life?  I guess it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing: not needing to know how to go places, because I don't go places.

I've had a handheld GPS for a while, but I've mostly used it for novelty purposes.  A handheld device that could tell me where on the planet I am was about a close as I could get to a tricorder.  That said, I HAVE used it when getting mixed up before, by way of stopping the car and checking, say, whether that town on the horizon is the one I was trying to get to or if I crazily overshot it.

I had looked at car-based GPS systems before, but didn't really know what I was looking for, or want to spend money on an unsure thing.  However, Josh Teeters (also the only guy I'm sure isn't just reading these LJ entries from 4+ years in the future) gave a positive review to the model he ended up with, and after taking a bit of a closer look at the options above and below it, decided it seemed like as good a one to start with as any.  So I got a refurbished Garmin Nuvi 1450LMT.

I've toyed with it more than I've used it so far.  My main complaint is I wish its coordinates from an address were a BIT closer to what I wanted, but those can be adjusted.  Put in my address and it seems to pick a point a bit beyond the far corner of the property.  It didn't properly figure out the "80 East North Street" in a nearby tiny town, so just chose to end at turning onto that street.  And so on.  BUT if I really really want to be precise, I can put in precise latitude/longitude coordinates.  Using Google Maps with its satellite view, I can set "Home" not only to the right address, but even as close as possible to where I park.

So I've only used it for one short trip going and returning so far.  How did it go?  MOSTLY alright.  There's a place where I'd normally zig then zag, but its directions said to zag then zig.  Seemed like it was just different more than better, but for first test purposes I decided to humor it.  The route was fine, BUT since it took me on some of the local country roads I wasn't familiar with, I ran across one crazy bumpy patch I kinda wish I hadn't unexpectedly learned about while going 50+ miles per hour!  On the way home I went my normal route, and was happy to see it was very quick about automatically recalculating directions from the possibilities lying in that direction.
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
2:32 pm
Turning Japanese, again
So as I mentioned, I'm wasting less time on NeoGAF, but more time on things like anime. Pseudo-Japanese Katawa Shoujo put me in a real mood for real Japanese stuff, plus during that Internet connection downtime I had time to fill. So a rundown on what I've been up to since early July:

Visual Novels
Katawa Shoujo
Narcissu Side 2nd

Fullmetal Alchemist (rewatch)
Cromartie High School
Video Girl Ai
Welcome to the NHK (rewatch)
5 Centimeters per Second (film)
Kanon (2006 version)
Kanon (2002 version) (~50% through)

Video Girl Ai (reread)
Yotsuba&! (Volumes 7-8)
Fullmetal Alchemist (~20% through)
2:27 pm
Vector 4: No-o GAF
I love NeoGAF. For the last decade-ish it's been one of my chief online hangouts. So when we had our Internet issues in early July, not being able to veg out there for a week and a half was tough. When I was able to go back I saw how much I'd fallen behind on some of the big threads and thought, "Do I really want to go back to staying up on all this?" It's kind of a running gag on GAF that people there don't play games, they just post about them. Considering how much time I've spent there, there's a lot of something to that. It's also considered pretty tough to stay away. So I figured if I'd already had the forced ~10 days of cold turkey, why not try to let it go on and see what happens?

So I've been going there much less. I haven't stayed away every day, but I'm trying to be more selective about it. Not that I've necessarily replaced my GAF time with something that much more useful--mostly stuff like watching anime--but it's still kinda nice to do a bit more on the side of experiencing things than talking about experiencing things.
Monday, August 20th, 2012
11:52 am
Vector 3: Music
The other vectors so far have been health-based, but this is of a different sort: What am I not doing, that I don't want to always have not done, so why not now?

Back in the day I didn't have the desire to be part of something like organized band or choir. However, I have long enjoyed being a more active part of music. Mostly in the last ~14 years this has been through rhythm games starting with PaRappa the Rapper. Usually this is a pretty limited experience--you get to play a part, but generally aren't going to get better results than the path they planned for you. This is one reason I was such a proponent of Wii Music. It's not a win-or-lose situation, but they let you change up all sorts of things. Tempo, instrumentation, play notes when and where you see fit. It's still bound to what they had pre-set, but allows for much more personal input. Well, I decided to go beyond this and try to learn an instrument proper.

Keyboard was really the only decent choice. The only instrument I had previous experience with was recorder, but that's going back to elementary school and I don't care about it or its family that much. Guitars are one of the most popular instruments in the world, but again, not for me. Keyboards, however, are a fit. For one, I was pretty much like a fish to water when it came to typing, and there's an instrument that would seem to have the most in common. For another, it's a very computer-friendly instrument; easier to hook it up and record MIDI tracks or play using various sounds than a wind or string instrument. So I picked up this guy, on neither the high or too-low ends.

BUT this has been more difficult than I imagined. The comparison to learning typing was lacking. When I did that, I already had familiarity with many [i]related[/i] aspects, it was just getting the location of a couple dozen keys memorized. This is like... if I had to learn to type on an unmarked Cyrillic keyboard or something. I'm learning a language here. One, looking at a staff and reading the notes. Two, going from a note to where that is on the keyboard itself. Three, doing so quickly and without staring at the keys all the time. Four, I guess, would be doing a bit of speaking in this language without having to read it.

I've made the most progress with that first one. There are similar minigames to be found online, but the one I've taken to is Grand Staff Defender. Notes come along on the treble and bass clefs (and a little beyond), and you just hit A-G to identify. No need to match it up with a musical keyboard at all, so it's just the reading that's being trained. At the beginning I was using mnemonics like FACE all the time, but the more I do it the more I don't need to, which is pretty much the point.

I could now pretty decently look at a musical keyboard and tell you where, say, a C is, but not nearly quickly enough. To make things simpler I got some cheapie stickers with the letter names on them. Since I'm neither that quick at reading or playing the notes yet, what I've done for some practice is some "cheat" sheet music. Take something simple and write down the letter of the notes ahead of time. Combined with the letters on the keyboard I can at least get some recognizable results. Ocarina of Time example.
Thursday, August 16th, 2012
3:15 pm
So from the beginning of the month to yesterday, I was playing through the various routes of the Kanon visual novel. Today, I started watching the anime adaptation (2006 version), and... it is the weirdest goddamn thing.

I don't mean it is weird in that so much has changed in translation, but rather the opposite. It makes sense that VN->anime is an easier transition than, say, novel->live-action film or something, but this is the first time I've experienced both sides of such an adaptation. Much of the music is taken directly from the VN, and what isn't is probably a remix. It seems like all the voice actors from the VN returned to their roles. Many establishing shots are direct redraws of backgrounds from the VN. Most of the story and even much of the script is the same, though bringing together what were somewhat-exclusive routes in the VN into one overall story mixes things up; but being only 4 of 24 episodes in so far it's hard to say how far that will go.

It's like we're looking down on Wayne's basement, only that's not Wayne's basement. Isn't that weird?

10:39 am
Who in the world is Sayaka Suzuki?
Lately I've been listening to a lot of various versions of Rhythm Heaven songs online, and have been on a bit of a Japan kick lately anyway, so I tried checking out what sort of Japanese music Amazon had in its MP3 store. Hard to find what I was looking for by categories, but I did find this Listmania list that was quite helpful. I checked out some things that seemed alright, but when one item on the list was described as "uber-cute voice singing to Nintendo-ish music", I had to check that out.

My Story from Sayaka Suzuki. I don't know that anyone else reading this will care for it, but for me it was one of those instances of finding something I didn't know I was looking for. Listening to samples like (I'm So) Happy and Angel put a big old smile on my face. I bought the album and have listened to it a few times over the last day. I was also pleased to see that Amazon has several other albums from her with a similar sound. BUT... that's it.

I mean, I can't find jack else about her or her music. These albums were apparently all listed at the same time on Amazon, so as far as they're concerned they were all released on the same day--I don't even know which came years before others. Wikipedia, the default source for any information? No joy. Google? I found other places with similar information to what Amazon had, but beyond that I just ran into a photographer and anime character with the same name. Even trying Facebook only found other normal folk with the same name. How does someone release at least seven albums available internationally, and still fly so under the radar?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
10:42 am
Vector 2: Movement
This is nothing too strenuous. Certainly I wasn't going to try to start each day with a mile run. I'm out of shape enough that trying to do that would probably do some Bad Things. BUT I at least wanted to get a little something going to start changing that completely sedentary behavior. Mostly this was taking walks. There probably would've been more comfortable times to start this than the hottest month in the continental U.S. on record, but whaddyagonnado? It's not something I've done [i]every[/i] day, but when I do I walk about a mile. A little less on hot days when my available time was mid-day, more on my days off when I could choose times with more moderate temperatures. This may not seem like a lot, but based on what my Pokéwalker tells me, it makes a pretty big difference compared to the norm.
8:46 am
It is the 10s and there is time for Kuratas
OK, so I've become really enamored by Kuratas. If you haven't seen the videos, here they are:

KURATAS - Suidobashi heavy industry
HOW TO RIDE KURATAS - Suidobashi heavy industry

I love it for straddling the lines of awesome and ridiculous. A rideable robot that really starts to look like something out of Front Mission, down to the customizable colors. But then, I suppose if you're going to pay over a million bucks for the thing they'd better be able to give it a custom color. Do they really expect to sell many of these things, or is this just the "concept car" idea taken to an awesome promotional extreme? Whose idea was it to activate the BB firing with the pilot's smile? And an eco-friendly missile launcher that "from time to time will hit it's target"? Who decided to create a proper song for the background of the first video, something that seems like it fits in with the songs made for each pilot in F-Zero GX?

On top of that, the crazy presentation and loads of Engrish make it a greater pleasure to watch. In Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie we saw how they blew a billion dollars to make a movie, but I could see designing a Kuratas and filming these videos as another way that movie could've gone.
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
2:37 pm
Not-Quite Recipes
These are not quite full recipes, but more templates.

1. Big Soup/Stew
I make a big batch of this once a week, and can eat on it throughout the week. Easy to take to work instead of packets of instant ramen or whatever. Basically: lentils, meat, and... something else. The lentils are bagged from Wal-Mart. Took a few tries for me to really get down how to soften the lentils properly, but that done they're a LOT less time-consuming than other bean alternatives, less gassy, and I just like them. Put lentils in plenty of water, bring to a boil, then turn it really low and let them simmer for a good while. A half hour probably does good, but just take one out and test that it's still not hard. Past that, add in a poundish of cooked meat. Usually I've been doing hamburger, though this week I did go with chicken instead. Past that... something else. Usually I'll look for a canned soup that seems fairly decent in the carb department, though other times I've gone straight to vegetables. So my combinations thus far have been things like

Lentil + Hamburger + Vegetable Soup
Lentil + Hamburger + French Onion Soup + Peas/Carrots
Lentil + Kidney Beans + Hamburger + Tomato Soup + Chili Hot-Dog Topping + Tomatoes
Lentil + Chicken + Cream of Mushroom Soup + Mushrooms

How far this will stretch will depend on how much extra you've tossed in and how big a bowl you want, but it's pretty easy to get 8+ meals from this.

2. Salad Plus Plus
This is a frequent home meal. Basically, salad with some sort of meats and beans in it as a major component. For a few weeks my go-to was

Bagged Salad + Refried Beans + Sliced Chicken + Balsamic dressing (an acquired taste, definitely) + maybe broccoli/cauliflower

More recently I've started tinkering with an approach more like with the big soup/stew, and this week I prepared decent-sized batches of things I could keep in different containers and quickly mix in with the lettuce.

Chopped Chicken, Broccoli, Cauliflower + Lentil + Chopped Bacon + Sliced Almonds + bit of Miracle Whip
Hamburger + Sliced Sausage + Chopped Bacon + Can of Sloppy Joe Sauce + Lentils (heat this before adding the lettuce)

Both pretty decent.
10:11 am
Vector 1: Eating
Of course, any attempt to improve health is going to have to take this into account. I basically started up the slow carb diet from Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Body book. I'd dabbled with it before, but didn't have the motivation to continue. This time is different. Other than that it seemed like it gave people results, there were a few main things that made this diet appealing.

*Simple rules. You can try to get more in-depth on what foods are relatively better or worse, but in short: avoid sugars and carbohydrates where possible, get plenty of protein and dietary fiber from main food sources of beans/meats/vegetables.
*Not quantity restrictive. As long as following those rules, you're recommended to eat your fill. No need to go hungry trying to keep calories really low.
*Cheat day. One day a week, all restrictions are gone. This both helps physically in keeping your metabolism higher by having one crazy day; and mentally by knowing that if there's something you regularly shouldn't be eating, you just need to wait for the right time to do so without guilt.

For me the biggest adjustments have been cutting out the soda six days of the week, and not being able to use bread/pasta as a base. But I do enjoy what I'm eating now, too. The book recommends finding just a few meals you can handle and repeating them to keep things simple, at least to begin with. I've done this, though each has some variations to keep things from getting TOO boring. I'll share some of these new staples, but I'll do so in a separate post.

I did pick up a second book as a supplement: Lynette Stanley-Maddocks's The Simple Slow-Carb Cookbook. Along with providing recipes, it does allow you to get that bit more complicated if you want, with comparison tables for the attributes of different types of food. Want to see which beans fit the diet best, or which fruits go against it least? This helps.
Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
12:00 am
Mid-Life Crisis
So I've recently written about my enjoyment of Katawa Shoujo, as well as how experiencing it so quickly I feel a sense of loss when it's over. This isn't the first time it's happened to me with fiction, and I tend to get over it--but where has that gotten me so far? Barring things like being a bit of an expert in incredibly niche fields, I'm pretty much a fat loner who's turning 30 next month. So this time, I've decided to use this attachment I'm feeling as inspiration.

It's made more explicit in some story paths than others, but throughout the whole thing there's a theme one character puts as "Doing things you can't do, just because you can." The girl with no arms? Wonderful painter. Girl who lost her legs? Track star, "fastest thing on no legs". What's my excuse? I've got a fully functional body, why haven't I done more with it?

So I am looking to better myself. I don't want to overdo it, but I've got a few... vectors in motion. I'd rather talk more about them in maybe a month's time when there's the possibility of some noticeable results. Turning 30 is a bit young for what people consider a mid-life crisis. However, while I may not have a heart condition like the main character Hisao, being morbidly obese and doing nothing about it would tend to put my life expectancy below average too. So mid-life crisis it is, with making it not the mid-life one of the goals.
Saturday, June 30th, 2012
12:00 am
Kansei Shita Shoujo
So I went through the rest of the major paths in Katawa Shoujo.  Really liked it.  Unsure how much to attribute to various factors, though.  First, the individual stories themselves.  It's hard to see myself as intimately sharing myself with another, but there is a part of me that's romantic about romance and appreciates it in the right story.  Having an almost entirely physically disabled cast put another interesting twist on things.  Second, the stories together.  The time periods overlap and though things don't always play out exactly the same way, you get a much fuller sense of all the characters by the combination of their appearances in different paths.  Third, the visual novel format itself.

Before, I'd pretty much ignored the concept.  An adventure game with even those gaming aspects removed?  Sounded really hollow.  But this time instead of seeing it as "Something but less", I saw it as "Something but more", as a text story that through this format is able to present things graphically or through sound, and as I mentioned in the previous post, better able to put the reader in the first person perspective (if it wants).  It's just another storytelling format with its own sets of pros and cons; like pure text, comics, film, and others.

The thing that weirds me out most is the nudity.  It's something that seems to be largely the norm in this genre, and it's not like the characters are underage, but it just seems like a creepy "reward" for making progress in a story.  I appreciate the female form as much as the next guy, but once you've got me interested in someone as a character it increasingly feels like an intrusion.  "I shouldn't be peeking in on this."
Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
4:01 am
Loss of Nothing
So I recently played Katawa Shoujo, as it was free and I'd heard good things. It's a visual novel, so it's not very interactive or much of a game proper. Still, by being presented in game form from a first-person viewpoint, it accentuates my natural empathy and suspension of disbelief over what they'd be if I were seeing the same events as part of a TV show or something. BUT this is not necessarily a good thing.

As Katawa Shoujo is about a young man potentially finding love, it means by the end of things I felt like I'd made and lost a close connection in an incredibly short period of time. Like waking up from a dream and being depressed when you realize it was just a dream. As the "game" doesn't have a huge amount of interactivity or make the results of branching points extremely obvious, I didn't even end up with one of the girls I expected. But I totally feel like I'd be cheating on her if I went through it again to try for a different result.

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