Year2016

How I lost 20 pounds in 21 days

Less of me.

It as the name of a Tumblr site I started years ago. Then it was abandoned just like the effort it was started to support.

I am fat. When I bought a new scale that wouldn’t error out when I stepped on it, I was around 380 pounds. I was dangerously close to 400 and that was frightening because I want to be around for many decades to come. I want to be there for my wife and to live the life we’ve worked so hard to make for ourselves.

It was time to change. I’d talked about it and made small efforts before, but it was time for a big change. That change has come in the form of BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix.

I am wary of all the competing weight loss ideologies and programs available. Many of them require massive life changes and specific eating regimens. They require math and points and other nonsense to eating right.

21 Day Fix is a simple container system. You get X number of containers for fruit, vegetables, carbs, protein and healthy fats. The containers are sized to promote better eating. The program also comes with a book and app that lists examples of each food group and quantities of those foods. This may sound like a small thing but for someone who knows little past what’s a fruit or a vegetable, it’s very useful as a starting point.

There’s also a shake mix that comes with the program that’s chock full of nutrients. It has the added benefit of being a replacement for sweets. My wife has serious sugar cravings and the shake killed her cravings altogether. It’s also been a good way to eat vegetables I wouldn’t ordinarily enjoy.

Eating is half of the story. The other half is a daily workout program. For 21 days, it’s work and sweat and suffering but with noticeable results. I just finished Day 10 and I am already noticing differences in my body.

Granted, I started around 380 pounds (I say around because the scale couldn’t quite decide if I was more 385 or 383. Maybe 386). But I started very heavy so I had almost nowhere to go but up.

In the past week I’ve noticed my belly getting smaller. My arms are stronger. This change was punctuated by my wife saying the shirt I wore to a recent family dinner looked looser and better on me than it ever had before. What more motivation do I need than the woman I love telling me I look better?

She’s completed her 21 days and has moved on to another program and saw great results too. She’s lost weight, gotten stronger and feels better about herself.

I will be honest. She was my gauge for whether this program was worth it or not. There’s so many options out there and everyone wants to sell you a slimmer you. But it’s still up to me to put in the work to make it happen. I don’t want to buy all my food from a program. I don’t want to perform algebra at every meal. I wanted something simple an effective.

Seeing her lose weight and inches was exciting and I hoped with all the weight I have to lose I would see good results quickly too. There’s nothing worse than putting in work for a long process and not seeing any changes for a long time. That killed my motivation in the past. But this has been good for me.

So where am I after 21 days? Am I all talk and no action or have I seen some changes?

Today is Day 21. I am 15 pounds lighter and 3 inches less around the waist. My wife gasped in surprised when she hugged me Christmas Day after I had worked out. She could get her arms further around me than she could before. And that’s thrilling to me that not only am I seeing the changes, but she is seeing them too. It feels good and I want to keep that feeling going. Tomorrow I embark on my next month of working out and eating right.

If you’ve been looking for something easy to do at home and make a change in your life, won’t you join me?

Silo


My grandfather used to work in a missile silo. I know he never wanted to be the one to press that button and send death hurtling towards millions of people.
This is a chilling thing to think about and one powerful ad.

I don’t want these flying through the sky.
missile

From the Titan Missile Museum where my grandfather, Marvin Kelly was stationed. His hard hat is on display there. He was giving tours when they spent their winters out there. If you’re ever out there and want to put a human face and a reality to the threat of nuclear war, take a tour of the silo out there.

Android Switcher

Recently, my wife and I switched from AT&T to Google’s Project Fi. Part of the reason for the switch is AT&T’s signal has been terrible at home and at work lately. We also got tired of paying for data we weren’t using and high prices for a plan we didn’t need.

The last straw was when I went online to downgrade our data plan which appeared it would save us about $20 per month. Only to find out it actually increased our bill.

I called customer service and couldn’t understand how that was possible and neither the customer service rep nor the retention specialist could give me a good answer to that. But they offered to give me the extra data back at no additional cost. But I didn’t want to pay $170 for two iPhones and 20GB of data every month. We’re trying to save money. And there seemed to be no way to do that.

To drop below the plan we had would have been a 5GB plan which was slightly too small for what we needed. This is before reports of their new plans coming out, which apparently neither the customer service rep nor the retention specialist were aware of, or able to talk about when I called and spoke to them.

So we decided to try Google’s Project Fi which is a plan provided by Google where you can use a combination of T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular’s networks for unlimited talk and text. Data is $10 per 1GB. You can set a data budget a pre-pay for the data but if you need more, it’s $10/1GB. And if you use less, Fi will refund you the money.

With AT&T, if you have a 5GB plan and you go over, you’re paying $15 for that 6th GB whether you use the entire GB or just a portion of it. With Fi, you pay only for what you use. So if I use 5.2GB, I pay for 5.2GB.

I haven’t used Android since the Motorola Droid. So I was curious to see how Android had come since 2010. I’ve owned a series of iPhones (4, 5 and 6+) in the intervening years. So when a fresh Nexus 5X arrived at my door, I was ready.

Here’s what I’ve noticed about Android since the switch.

Unlock PIN

When I enter a 4-digit unlock code. Why do I then have to press the check mark? Granted with a fingerprint, this is mostly a non-issue. But with the iPhone, it wanted 4 numbers and when I entered them it accepted or rejected it.

Back Button

I like the back button. But I’m never sure if it’s going to take me back a screen in the app I’m using or back to the home screen.

No mute switch

I miss the mute switch. My phone was silent when I was at work or out in public. It vibrated to alert me, it didn’t make a sound. Android is not silent.

Android is chatty

Bing. Boop. Blip. Donk. Everything makes a sound. Everything makes the same sound. I’ve taken to saying every time the alert sound goes off, “Something is happening! What could it be?” As I look at phone to see if it’s Facebook Messenger, Email, SMS, Twitter, Tumblr or some other app notifying me of something.

Facebook Messenger’s Bubbles

Who ever thought it would be a good idea to let Facebook Messenger’s little bubble show up over every single app on the phone should be fired. From a cannon. I can’t stand it. It’s enough to make me want to quit using it altogether.

Notifications

Everything’s a bubble at the top of the screen now. Apps don’t have any visual identifiers that something is waiting for you. I really miss the little red badge on iPhone apps to let me know there’s a message waiting (SMS/Facebook Messenger/email). I forget to reply to people because I don’t remember there’s a new text waiting until I open the app.

Download speed

Audiobooks and song from Spotify fly down to the device. Audiobooks especially seemed to take longer on the iPhone. Even downloading from Spotify to the phone took more time. I assume it has to do with writing to a file system versus however the iPhone handled it, but it’s been a noticeable improvement.

Emoji

I love Apple’s emoji. They were big and beautiful. I texted them to my wife all the time and I loved using them in text. Google’s make me want to cry. They’re tiny and the people look like gelatinous Simpson characters.

Android is Linux

The phone requires tinkering. The phone slows way down sometimes. Pokémon Go fails to render animations without struggling at times. The scrolling is iffy. When I press the screen, I have to wait and see if the phone is struggling to fulfill my request or if it’s just sitting there like nothing happened.

Battery Life

The battery life of my Nexus 5X rivals that of my two-and-a-half year old iPhone 4. It’s terrible and I don’t believe in turning off every optional service to make a phone last through the day. A mobile device should have enough power to make it through the day.

Charger can’t keep up

When using Waze navigation in the car with a podcast or music playing, my phone’s battery still drains when connected to a charger. This reminds me of my original Droid from Verizon.

Dispatch from the Trenches #17

A Tiny Jellyfish Relative Just Shut Down Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River is now closed because more than half a billion years ago, a jellyfish-like animal started transforming into a parasite.


FBI Apparently Made Darkweb Child Porn Site Faster During Its Hosting Of Seized Server

A better child porn site, brought to thousands of criminal suspects all over the world by your tax dollars. What a time to be alive!

The motion to dismiss points out that making it easier and faster to download child porn images runs contrary to assertions the government has made in support of prosecutions and stricter penalties for child porn viewers.


Two Photography Tribes

In the first phase of a revival, each general keeps to its in tribe. 70-year olds sell to 60-year olds and stay off that new-fangled whatever that helped kill their business. 20-somethings sell to 20-somethings on the web and off, establishing a new tribe. Eventually, the tribes meet and either work together (in the case of vintage pens this is happening right now), or repel each other (this is what I saw yesterday at this show – other shows may differ).


Comprehensive Guide To Hillary Clinton’s Email

Was Hillary Clinton’s email server ever hacked?

No. The FBI found no evidence that Clinton’s server had ever been hacked.

Has the State Department email ever been hacked?

Yes. The State Department has admitted that they have been hacked.


Dispatch from the Trenches #16

Photive HF1 Bluetooth Headphones

Feel is important to me. I wear my headphones all day — every day. When they are not on my ears, they are wrapped around my neck. My wife thinks I am anti-social. I can’t hear her.

This is how I want products to be reviewed. Real world use. Explaining why they’re good or bad for his use. I got price, if they folded, how they charged, and how they fit.

It wasn’t full of gushing hyperbole. It wasn’t proclaiming they were saviors of the world. It was a real-world experience about a product and his views of it. That’s what I miss about reviews.


Free Wi-Fi Kiosks Were to Aid New Yorkers. An Unsavory Side Has Spurred a Retreat.

Users were expected to make short stops at the kiosks. But the sites quickly attracted homeless people and other idle users who took full advantage of the unlimited access to the internet to turn the kiosks into al fresco living rooms, watching movies and playing music for hours.

I could have told you in a moment this would be the result. I used to work for the City of Richmond, VA’s help desk and we would receive calls from irritated people who could not watch porn on the public library computers. If there is access, people will use the access how they see fit.

I am surprised at least simple internet filtering wasn’t in place for the tablets on the kiosks. The media streaming could be limited by site, or by bandwidth or time usage. I’m happy to see the developers of the kiosks see this as an iterative process so they’re aware there will be challenges and are working to make the experience better for everyone.


The Falling Man

Most images of 9/11 depict destruction on a massive scale. But Richard Drew’s quiet picture of one man falling from the towers conveys the tragedy of every life lost that day.

While never officially confirmed, the man is believed to be Jonathan Briley. You can learn more about Jonathan Eric Briley.


Here’s How Obama’s Female Staffers Made Their Voices Heard

Female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.

I’ve seen men take credit for the work of their female colleagues time and time again. In some cases, the people getting the work knew where it really came from. But there have been many more times where the man was given credit for work he didn’t produce.


Saul Williams: Tiny Desk Concert

In terms of sheer intensity, Saul Williams’ Tiny Desk concert may be the most potent in our eight-year history.

Saul Williams is passionate and brings fire to his words. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him live twice in support of Nine Inch Nails and as the headliner. His intensity is infectuous and his words penetrate.

Question your authority, genocide and poverty
Treaties don’t negate the fact you’re dealing stolen property
Hacker, I’m a hacker, I’m a hacker in your hard drive
Hundred thousand dollar Tesla ripping through your hard drive

— Saul Williams, Burundi