Bod Mod: Day 3

March 4th, 2010

Today’s P90X workout was shoulders and arms. I was in a lot of pain before doing the workout, and even now the flexors in my elbows are killing. If one thing is true though, it’s that working out sore muscles does nothing but make them feel better.

After looking at my food intake yesterday, I realized that I need to be eating more. This may seem strange, but it’s true. If my muscles don’t have the energy to work out, then this whole thing will be an uphill battle. On that note, this is what I ate today.

Two big bowls of Chex.
Three PB&J sandwiches (not super healthy)
A tuna sandwich (shoulda swithed out some of those PB&Js for more of these).
A protein shake with 80g of protein.

My wife made brownies for some people in our ward (church congregation) who just had a baby. I wanted to eat one, but decided that if I was going to I needed to weigh less than 200lbs. I will not say what my weight was, but I did not get to have a brownie. I attribute this to my calorie intake and the fact that I’ve been drinking a lot of water. I’m fine with it. I know that my daily, or even hourly weight does not change the fact that I’ve been eating better and working out.

I decided I should post some before-I-got-fat pictures. This is from my senior year. These show off just how thin I was, but also just how scrawny I was. Despite being so thin I did not have a six pack. The over-the-hill moment for my fitness should not have been in high school. I gotta get in the best shape of my life now.

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Three Month Weight Loss Challenge: Day 2

March 3rd, 2010

Today I did the P90X Plyometrics X workout. It’s an hour long of jumps, squats, jump squats, squat jacks, leapfrog squats, lunges, Mary Katherines, and other stuff.

My back hurts from yesterday’s workout so I took some drugs about 30 min before working out. Right after the workout I mixed up about 80g of protein in 1cup of milk. It was thick and not that great, but not horrible either. Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be my harder days to workout because I’m out of the house from 9AM to 5PM. Tuesdays I have meetings after 5 as well, so it doesn’t help. The good thing is that I never have homework due on Wednesday or Friday, so I can workout as my homework.

I don’t get money from Beachbody for saying this, but P90X really is a great workout. The big motto is “do your best, forget the rest.” Tony Horton is really good about getting you past your mental blocks to keep you motivated through the hour long workouts. They are also designed really well to warm you up (hard) for the first 20 minutes, kill you in the middle 20, and then ease up a little (still really tough) for the last 20 minutes to destroy whatever you have left. Tony is really good about telling you to just show up, just hit the play button and keep coming back every day. You don’t have to perform like a star every day, all you have to do is your best and that is good enough. How could you expect any more than that anyway?

Finally, here is what I ate today.

90 Calorie cereal bar for breakfast.
Tuna sandwich
~15 lowfat pringles
The last slice of Pumpkin Pie (it was crowding the fridge)
A pork chop with apple sauce
Protein shake

Three Month Weight Loss

March 1st, 2010

I’ve been gaining weight ever since I graduated from high school in 2005. I was 175 when I graduated, which for me at 6’4″ is pretty thin. I was skinny. I wouldn’t say I was fit because I was scrawny, but I didn’t have very much spare weight on me. Today I weigh over 200lbs. I’ve tried a few things to lose weight, and I’ve committed to P90X, Wii fit, and eating right with varying levels of commitment and success. Now that I’ve broken the 200lb mark, it’s time that I wake up and get in shape. Otherwise I’ll wake up in a few years at 250+ and wonder whatever happened to me. Losing that much weight would be a lot tougher than losing what I have now, so it’s time to bite the bullet and lose weight in time for summer. If I lose the weight then I think I’ll treat myself to some short legged, retro swim trunks.

No matter how you do it, weight loss is not easy, and it isn’t fun (for the most part).

I’ve challenged my brother, who is at ~260lbs to try and lose 50lbs in the next three months. I have 25 to lose, which is 2.08 a week, so he’ll be at 4.16lbs. It’s a tall order, but weight loss is about being motivated and staying on course. I’ve told my brother that I’ll give him $1 for every pound lost, and if he reached 50lbs in the three months I’ll give him $100. For now there is no penalty if he gains weight (I doubt he will anyway) and no prize for me if I reach my goal. Nonetheless I think being healthy is important, so I’m willing to have some fun with this.

Your job is to keep me motivated, so if I start to dog it you need to say something positive and get back in gear.

My Plan:

The first thing I’m going to do is quit eating garbage. I eat too much sugar. This will definitely be the hardest thing about this three months. No sugar based cereals, no candy, no ice cream, no pie. :/

The second part of the plan is P90X. The farthest I’ve ever made it in this program is the end of the first month. I can’t do that anymore. I’ve got to stick to it and I need you guys to help me stay motivated. A protein shake chaser will help me bulk up fast.

The third thing I’m going to do is get a new bike and ride every weekend. There are tons of trails around where I live. My wife is going to get a bike too and then we can ride together, which will be great.

Some final details will include not consuming any calories after 9PM every night and being in bed before midnight. Healthy habits like these can make a huge difference in your overall health and well being. I haven’t been doing so great lately and now is a good time to fix my sorry ways.

Day 1:

I just weighed myself on the bathroom scale. I weigh 206.2lbs. I’m 6’4″. This makes my BMI 25.097. Crap! I’m overweight! I’ve never been overweight! I need to lose it and keep it off. My goal is 180lbs. I weighed 175 in high school, but I was really skinny and had little to no muscle mass. I should be able to hit 180, which will be 25lbs lost and should be less fat and more muscle than high school.

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I just finished P90X for today. I did Chest and Back as directed by the workout guide. I’m somewhat nauseous and still need to do ab ripper x for today. I have my protein shake in hand and I’m trying to down it without triggering a vomit response. It’s amazing how much you can feel it in your muscles even after one hard workout. They’re bigger already! Haha.

Gameboy PNES.

February 27th, 2010

I am going to build three portable NES systems. I’m calling these PNESes. Yes, you pronounce it “pee-ness.” It’s funny. The first will be this one built inside a gameboy.

Here is the victim. Unless you are into indie 8-bit music, you probably don’t have a use for the original gameboy. Because of this I wanted to make it useful again. The plan is to gut the gameboy, replace the screen with a color TFT, use the original power switch, battery compartment and controls. Whatever happens otherwise doesn’t matter. Maybe I will use the charge port, maybe headphones will work, maybe the contrast knob will affect screen brightness. Maybe.

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Here is an old friend to people making portable Nintendo systems. The “Super Power Player Mega Joy III.” It comes with an amazing “76000” games. It’s “The original: New Addition,” which is nice because I need to brush up on my adding skills. If you want one for your project you will have the most luck searching for XA-76-1E. Because of legal issues they are hard to find otherwise.

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The first thing I did was open the bameboy and remove a bunch of crap. It was pretty fun, but I was careful not to break anything at this point. I knew I would need part of the board for the controls.

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Easy stuff done with it was time to move on to some other easy stuff. Here’s the 2.5″ color LCD I got from ebay for $26. Nice!img_1732_800x600

I took it apart and by surprise found that there is one wire for power, one for image signal (component RCA), then a shared ground. Nice. So simple. I printed a black square as a shroud (so you cant see the silver case when looking through the gameboy window) and hot glued the screen in place. As a side note hot glue is a staple for portable NES builds.

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I was going to start on getting the original controls to work. I needed to cut the board in half, trace the leads and figure out the matrix of the buttons, then sand off the plastic coating over the leads to be able to solder to the board. I cut the board in half. All went well. I did a test fit and found that I needed to cut a little more to avoid the LCD board. When I went to cut some more off I split the board. Grr. Here’s the result.

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I’m looking for some more gameboy systems so I can get another board with the controller stuff on it. In the mean time I’ll try to get started on the famicom to gameboy to NES adapter. Wish me luck. There will be ~240 solder points and ~120 little bits of wire to mess up.

The NES PC Finished.

February 13th, 2010

For all intensive purposes, it is done. It was almost two years ago that I was making any real progress on this. I was contacted about a show in San Francisco called Rods and Mods and was asked if I had anything I would like to display. The only big project I have is the NES PC, which seems to sit unfinished at all times. With little time before the show and little time left in break I knew I had to get to work.

The changes:

There were some things I was not satisfied with when I was working on the project before. The purpose of having an internal case was so I could work on the PC outside of the NES case if I wanted, but I had glued too many bits to the NES itself and it wasn’t working. The audio and video ports, DVD switch, and Power and Reset buttons were all removed from the case and added to the inner frame. After making the changes I was much happier.

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The NES to USB adapters had been installed inside the case, so that the controller ports could be used for NES controllers and that’s it. The good thing about it was that you could plug any NES conrtoller you wanted into it and it would work. However, in my work on the still unfinished keyboard and mouse, I decided that instead of having a wireless keyboard and mouse that I wanted it to be wired, and if it was going to be wired it should plug into the controller ports. That meant that I needed to move the controller adapters into the controllers themselves, a standard controller and an NES advantage. Now I’m waiting on a keyboard and mouse I ordered to modify those.

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Placing the USB chips inside the controllers and making the controller ports on the case USB adapers made it so I could make an NES themed keyboard and mouse. I started with this keyboard.

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From there I built around it to look like an NES advantage controller.

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I also painted this mouse to match. It had a good shape and, most importantly, a red scroll wheel so it was the best choice. Sadly I was really short on time since I needed to ship the computer out for Rods and Mods, which is happening as I type this, so no pictures were taken of that process. After the mouse and keyboard were finished I applied water slide decals and put a few coats of semi-gloss. Sorry no pics of that either.

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Glamor shots! These don’t include the mouse or keyboard because they were taken before they were finished. I will make sure to take some really nice professional looking shots when I get the computer back from Rods and Mods.

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If you want to see more you can look at my previous posts, you can go to a build log on TBCS, you can watch some youtube videos of the NES, or you can see some shots from Rods and Mods on TBCS and on cnet.com.

If you would like to contact me about this project, please email me at adventrising [at] gmail [dot] com.

My room.

December 11th, 2009

Chelsea and I moved from Las Vegas to Moscow, ID recently for me to attend school. After nine months of single bedroom upartments, we’ve upgraded to a two bedroom and I currently have a whole room dedicated to my computer and school projects. I made the monitor stand for my 28″ monitor out of a Ikea lack shelf that I ikeahacked. The keyboard fits underneath so I can use the desk for other things. The stand also raises the monitor to the ideal viewing height, which is 1/3 above eye level, 2/3 below. In the future I will probably get another drafting table like the one my computer is on and get rid of the folding table. It’s not level and drives me nuts when cutting mats on it. I want to build a couch at some point and when that happens I’ll move the dresser into a closet somewhere else in the apartment. All in all, though,  I love my room and my desk area.

Before some much needed under-desk cable management.

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And after!

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The cables, now hidden.

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Non-computing work area.

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The computer, subwoofer, and our favorite Valve gnome.

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The computer, and all five posters for Left 4 Dead framed!

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Framing Your Left 4 Dead Posters

November 5th, 2009

Decorate your office for:

Left 4 Dead Posters – $15 for four

22 x 28 inch Poster Frames – $10 each at Michaels

Crescent matboard 32 x 40″ Photo Gray – $6.79 each (you’ll need four)

Total cost – $82.16 + S&H

I use a Dexter Mat Cutter to cut my mats and I love it. After just a little practice you get superb mats at a fraction of the cost.

The posters come with simulated wear and tear. After cutting the matboard to size I decided to extend that wear onto the mats with some small sculpting chisels. The result is a completely custom look that fits the prints perfectly.

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The final result looks like this. Nice!

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Turning 23.

October 22nd, 2009

Ah, what a nice birthday. I’ve spent most of my day doing homework, but I’m okay with that because it’s been a very productive day. I feel bad for Chelsea. She worked all day and then dropped me off for my late class and then picked me up when it was over. We had a ‘get to know you’ appointment with the bishop. He asked us who we knew from our last ward. We had been in there for almost three months, but we didn’t know a single person. I think he could tell that we’ve gotten used to not feeling like we belong. We’ve moved so much since getting married that it’s hard to feel any lasting connection to anything. After our interview we went to Wingers and got dinner. And since it is my birthday, the dessert was free. Well, we had to endure ten seconds of them clapping and shouting at me, but I think that quantifies to being less than the $6 dessert. I got some really great presents too. Chelsea got me Make Magazine: the 4th Year, a Landon Pigg CD, an Ender’s Game comic, the Thabto Mugg (its handle is brass knuckles), and a Nintendo 64 to replace my broken one. My parents got me money, which is always appreciated. My older brother David preordered Left 4 Dead 2 for me. That was the most surprising gift. I’m pretty pumped for that. If I had one wish for my birthday it would have been for Chelsea and I to not be sick anymore and to have had the day off to spend with her. This weekend I am going to do something extra special for her. She deserves it.

23rd-birthday

Things to do in Vegas that don’t have to stay there.

August 9th, 2009

Chelsea and I lived in Las Vegas for three months. We don’t drink, smoke, or gamble. Vegas is a pretty filthy place because people go there to drink, smoke, and gamble. There is, however, more to Vegas than gambling and not-so-veiled prostitution. That’s why I made list of the things you can do in Vegas that don’t have to stay there for you to keep your marriage or job.

Mystere $$$/++

Mystere is Cirque Du Soleil’ s first show, but it barely shows its age. Chelsea and I went to see this show and loved it. This show is appropriate for all ages and I would definitely see it again if given the opportunity. If you are in Vegas and don’t know what to do. See this. It does cost a little bit of money. Chelsea and I got our tickets at one of the “1/2 price show ticket” booths. These booths are legit, and your tickets are usually around half off. The good shows go quick, but this one was usually available.

Phantom of the Opera $$$/+

Here’s another great show on the strip. It’s not as good as it is on Broadway, but it is definitely high quality. Sadly, this is pretty expensive as well. If you have  a choice of seeing it in Vegas, or seeing it later on Broadway, I would go with Broadway. It will be a better show and probably cost less for the tickets. Las Vegas attracts people who are willing to waste their money, so they overcharge for a lot of things. This is one of them.

Blue Man Group $$$/+++

I went with my mom to Vegas a few years ago on business. While we were there we saw Blue Man Group at the Venetian. The show is incredible. My mom says it’s one of the best times she’s ever had. I’ve seen Blue Man Group in Seattle, New York, Las Vegas, and Chicago. The show will make you laugh out loud no matter who you are. It is a complete sensory overload. The tickets were $120 a piece (third row near center), but my mom says it was worth every penny. I didn’t pay that time, but I’ve paid to see them on other occasions and would probably go again at another one of their venues. If you have one expensive thing to do in Vegas, make it Blue Man Group.

Penn and Teller $$/-

I can’t recommend this show. I love magic and I love humor. Penn and Teller have both. What Penn also has is a problem separating his personal beliefs from his professional career. Penn is an atheist, which is totally fine with me. I think people should have a right to believe whatever they want. However, Penn makes a point of sharing this belief with you throughout the show. Did I mention it’s a magic show? He uses God’s name in vain just to offend those that might believe in a God, and explains that magic is completely fake and that religion is the same way for the same reasons. He shows how a few tricks work, and then says that religion employs similar methods as used in magic to deceive people. In the end it is downright offensive. I came to see magic, good magic. I paid money to see good magic. I didn’t pay money to have another person’s beliefs shoved down my throat for an hour and a half. Penn and Teller’s show is the best. I’ve seen other shows and I can tell you how most of the tricks work. I have no clue how two of Penn and Teller’s tricks work. Sadly, I cannot recommend the show. It’s not family friendly, it’s offensive, and it’s unprofessional. Go see something else.

New York New York Roller Coaster $$/–

There’s a roller coaster outside the casino. It costs $14 per person to ride it once. At the other end of the strip at Circus Circus is the world’s largest indoor themepark. It will cost ~$35 to get an all day pass for everything there and their roller coaster is better, so skip this waste of money and go there instead.

Adventuredome at Circus Circus $$/++

5 aces of indoor theme park. It’s a little low quality (typical fair rides), but there are a few bigger attractions. The overall feel is that of being at Six Flags. Chelsea and I used our library card (has to be a Las Vegas card) to get our wristbands for $25 total. I think they are ~$25 per person normally. That said, there’s plenty to do to stay entertained for several hours. Compared to other things in Vegas, this is a good value. If you have kids, then go to Disneyland. If you insist on going to Vegas for vacation, go to Circus Circus and let them play in the Adventuredome all day.

Pinball Hall of Fame $/+++

About three miles down Tropicana Ave from the strip is the Pinball Hall of Fame. If you don’t have a car it will cost you a $20 cab ride to get there. You could also take public transit, which is pretty good in Vegas. The Pinball Hall of Fame is pretty cheap. Most games are 50 cents with some older games at a quarter. The problem  most people have with arcades is that they think it costs too much, but most people don’t realize that for the same $10 you are going to spend on a movie ticket you can play an hours worth of pinball. Few people put the investment in to get good enough at it to get your money’s worth from it. It’s really a museum of sorts, but you get to play on all the museum pieces. I’m glad that for all the garbage in Vegas, there’s gems like this. If you are in Vegas, go to the Pinball Hall of Fame. It’s the local secret you won’t regret. On top of that, there’s a cheap theater right next to it. Nice!

Fountains at the Belagio Free/+++

There’s something that happens when you watch fireworks. Your brain activity changes as you forget about the people around you and get pulled into the moment. The same is true for the Bellagio fountains. Every 15-30 minutes a show of water and light plays out on the strip. The realy amazing thing about this is that it is art. It communicates at an emotional level. Other casinos have free outdoor shows that are trashy (Treasure Island) or, at best, kitsch (The Mirage). The Bellagio manages to create a public art piece, and kinetic sculpture timed to music. There are several different shows a day. Chelsea and I tried to see at least one every time we were on the strip. Skip the pirates and the volcanoes, if you want a free show that is actually worth your money, stay for the Bellagio Fountains all day long.

Gameworks $$/++

It seems we have all but seen the death of the arcade, and it is too bad. The big issue with arcades is that people feel they can’t get their money’s worth. They figure, “I can gamble for a few hours on $40. I’ll run out of money at the arcade before then.” Gameworks uses cards with a credit system. You can pay for unlimited use for a certain amount of time, or you can pay for credits. The more credits you buy at a time, the less each credit costs. Chelsea and I love arcades. I’m not sure why. I love video games and there is something about the atmosphere of a good arcade that really appeals to me. Gameworks is on the strip, so you should be able to walk there if you are vacationing. They have many movement simulator adaptaions of popular arcade standards as well as new games that will really impress you.  If you want to keep the arcade alive, make sure to spend $10 at Gameworks.

There are other things to do in Vegas if you live there. If you live in Vegas and think you have done it all, leave a comment. I’ll tell you some of the secrets I learned while living there.

Saying goodbye to Las Vegas

July 31st, 2009

Sometimes we are sad when we reach the end of something. I went on tour with Vocal Union this past spring and I really didn’t want it to end. I love to sing and I loved the people I was with. Las Vegas is a different story. Vegas is all about things Chelsea and I don’t do; drinking, smoking, gambling, having sex with any willing participant that meets some minimum standard . . . It’s just not for us. To say goodbye, let’s just have one last look at the apartment. The AC didn’t work so good. You had to keep it on 24/7 to keep the apartment at a bearable 80 degrees. The doorknob was often to hot to touch. We opened it by turning the key. We also had a cockraoches, no matter how clean we kept the apartment. All that said, we did our best to call it home.

Our bedroom.

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With walk in closet

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The bathroom.

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The kitchen

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The living room.

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We got this couch in Vegas at a swap meet, or “the Mexican Mall” as all the Mexican guys at work called it. It cost $50. I wanted to haggle. Chelsea said the lady needed the money to buy new teeth.

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Goodbye 1476 Living Desert Drive #89. You were perfectly adequete for the rent we paid, but we will not miss you.

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