Or perhaps a brain dump.


About 2 weeks ago now, I took a puck to the side of the helmet.  It split open my temple and rattled my brain.  No stitches, lots of blood, some medical glue, and now I have another scar.  If that was the only impact, then it would be easy.

I suffered a mild concussion with the injury.  I took the following day off, then tried work.  That didn’t go so well.  Spent 2 days in a dark room and that had a rather dramatic impact on my brain functions.  See, concussion protocol dictates that you don’t do the following: exert yourself, read a book, stare at a screen/TV.  What sucks about that, is that they are the exact things that I do to de-stress.  I play hockey 3x a week, I workout 3x a week, I play games, and I work in front of a computer. Asking me to stop eating for 3 days would be easier.

I’ve cut down on as much as I could.  Gaming has been minimized.  Work – I make efforts to get away from the screen.  I haven’t played a hockey game in 2 weeks.  Workouts I still do mind you.  The difference is that hockey gets my heart rate to about 140, while lifting weights rarely has me break 110.  My resting rate is around 50.


Related to above, taking time away from cardio work (hockey) and just plain being in recovery mode, has allowed me to make some progress in my fitness regime.  It took a month, but I finally received my weight lifting belt from Amazon, and it’s a beaut.  I don’t get dizzy lifting, and for those that do lift weights, you can relate to the “zen-ness” of it all.  The downside is that my body can only really take 90 minutes of it every other day.  Not having hockey around means that there’s more rest, and the progress between sessions has improved.

I’ve limited myself to a 225lbs squat, 25lbs chin-up and 25lbs dip.  I can physically do more, but I can’t play hockey 2-3x a week and keep pace.  The rest of the movements I can increase just fine.  Bench, row, press, and dead lift are all moving at a good pace.  I have numbers that I want to achieve before the summer and all of them are within reach – though the bench is going to be the hardest one.

In an interesting twist, my wife wants to share in the program.  I think she’s going to do great.  Plus having both parents do sessions on alternating days, means that the kids will see a daily dose of exercise from their parents.  Can’t get them started on body weight exercises soon enough!


It’s only 1 post away, but I’ve put enough thought into it over the past few months.  I’ll be picking up the PS4 tonight.  I took Murph‘s suggestion to heart, scouring local ads for used games.  That’ll work out if I want a cheap version of Killzone or some other FPS.  The particulars that I want don’t seem to be on resale that much, or at a price point that seems worthwhile for a 1 hour drive.  I’ll find something that works…

Summer’s Over

Alive and well, thank you.  As in the last couple posts, we bought a cottage on a lake/river and have spent the majority of the summer on its shores.  Canadiana.


Spent the summer with a small boat to fish, as fishing is extremely fun for me (so much so, that an MMO has to have fishing for me to be hooked).  Sadly, there were issues with the motor and my last week of vacation wasn’t all that much fun being land-bound.  So we bought a new (used) boat.  A Legend Excalibur 18, with a 115ETEC motor.  We pick it up on Friday, but here’s a pick of the current model.  It’s a good compromise for me wanting to fish, and my wife wanting to cruise/pull things.




Cottage country and exercise don’t usually go hand-in-hand.  Still, I made due with a pair of adjustable free weights (up to 50lbs each) as much as a I could.  When I was home, I continued to use the barbell and StrongLifts 5×5 program.  Squats are 240, Bench is 175, Rows are 160, Press is 130, Deadlifts are 260.  Accessories are good too, with a 25lbs chinup/dip going, 250lbs shrug and 95lbs curl.  I still have progress on a few of the movements, but not that much before having to swap programs.  Maybe another 2 months worth, as it’s about 90 minutes of work due to the rests between sets.

Also, I really like beer.  Like is probably not the correct word.  I had too much over the summer (I always do) and am a few lbs heavier now than in June.  I can get rid of that in the next couple months anyhow, and be close to ideal weight for the holidays.


The cottage doesn’t have high-speed internet, so what gaming I had was board-based, or an emulation on my tablet.  In the few spots I did have at home, I gave the Batman Arkham Knight a try.  It’s better than the previous ones, certainly, but the batmobile/tank is off-putting.  I gave up on the Division pretty quickly, as the end game is non-existent.  It’s worse than when D3 originally launched and Inferno mode required perfect stats.  At least there you could game the AH and it was a PvE game.  Division requires the same perfect stats but you need to be in a PvP zone to get them.  Surround by demi-gods with nothing to do other than ruin your farm because they already have the gear.  Too bad, because the game from 1-30 was great.

I have recently installed another game though.

WoW and Legion

I have no shame in admitting I reinstalled WoW.  You can buy time with gold, and I had more than enough gold to last a year+.  I also purchased Legion, because I have spare money to burn (not really with a cottage/boat).  Where WoD was a baby-bathwater exercise after Pandaria, Legion is taking a different approach, with multiple game paths and simplified builds.  My monk in WoD (remember, they came out in Pandaria) had 3 bars of skills – now he has 5 buttons.  My Hunter is down to 4 skills.  It makes for a clean interface.  There are interactions (procs) between skills, so yeah, you could mash 4 buttons, or learn to read the patterns and do more.  The whole easy to learn/difficult to master portion I guess.

Demon Hunters are ok.  I’ve mained a Rogue and a Monk, so  I have certain expectations.  DH don’t feel as smooth as either of them, more of the clunkyness of a DK waiting for rune procs way back when.  They feel more powerful mind you.  Time will tell.

The invasions going on now until launch are a neat way to level alts.  Heirlooms have been streamlined into a separate interface and I already had the level 90 variants.  An extra 8k gold to get them to work until level 100 (cloth ones) and send the alts to invasions.  The extra 45% is noticeable.  Clearing one invasion gives about 75% of a level (from 90 beyond), and there are 6 that spawn every 2 hours.  Each takes about 30 minutes or so to clear.  And each gives 2 loot boxes that provide level appropriate gear.  My hunter went from 90-100 in 3 days and has ilvl700 gear.  That’s the gear required to to heroic raiding.

Long story short, it’s fun enough for now and doesn’t have any monthly costs for the foreseeable future.


Back to the ARPG

I like Dark Souls, I just don’t have the fortitude to learn how to play it.  Quite simply, my days are extraordinarily draining of late.  After work (where I’m doing 5 jobs for another 2 weeks), eating, playing and putting the kids to bed, then exercise, I have very little brain juice left.  Dark Souls requires a lot from the player and I just do not have that to give right now.  Maybe in a month or so.

Hack n Slash

That said, I’ve gone back to some ARPG staples.  D3 is off the list since I played the crap out of season 4, and season 5 isn’t really a season.  Path of Exile is on the list to go back to, but I wanted to give Grim Dawn another shot.  One of those few “kickstarter-like” projects that actually released something of quality.  I picked it up before the full launch and there have been some QoL/balance tweaks since.  I like the build diversity without the complexity of PoE.  Plus the game isn’t as dark, so I can see what the heck is going on.

Tap Tap FarAway Kingdom

Version 2 was released.  I wrote some more about it.  The long tail was (getting to floor 3000) was put in the realm of achievable with the most recent patch.  Before the path, it was about a day’s worth of effort to get to 2700.  Now I can get it done in an hour.  I find the game strikes the right balance between strategy, gameplay, passive play and reward.  Plus it’s the only tapping game that doesn’t make my battery drain within an hour.


Still running Strong Lifts, though I’ve modified it slightly to include some ICF accessories.  My problem with SL is that it is too short and lacks isolation.  I fully realize that as a novice lifter, compounds are required for foundation work, but there are specific items I need to have in the program.  ICF is too long, somewhere between 60 and 120 minutes, depending on how you get your supersets integrated.  I do not have anywhere close to that amount of time – that program is for people who are dedicated and working out is their primary hobby.

So a small modification with a couple accessories is what I’m doing now.  The linear progress is a good feeling and I’ve reached the point where there’s some decent effort involved in the movements.  I had opted to take a low starting weight in order to focus on form for the first few weeks.  That had be plateau at a given weight.  Moving into the heavier stuff has caused the numbers on the scale to drop consistently.  I’m just a few shy of the target weight, so a few more weeks of cutting before maintenance begins.

It is surreal the effect of working out has on my stress levels.  All the above may be gobbledygook to some, but the net effect is that pushing and pulling heavy things unleashes a torrent of hormones that drastically improve my mood.  I have missed this tremendously.

Dark Souls

Outside of gaming, my wrist still hurts and I’m off for a referral.  Physio hasn’t done much, unfortunately, though the last round found a good taping job that relieves the pain temporarily.  Basically, any pressure against the palm with the wrist at a non-neutral angle, causes spikes of pain.  Sleeping was uncomfortable, cutting veggies too.  Exercise is an odd one, as nearly all exercises should be done in a neutral grip, if done correctly. Upright rows, and twist grips (like a clean and jerk) simply can’t be done, nor can pushups.  But I can do a squat, deadlift, press, bench, pull up, chin up, bar curls and dozens more.  I guess it’s one way to make sure my form is perfect. Oh, and there’s something to be said about linear gains in exercise.  Supremely motivating.

Inside of gaming, I’ve put the Division on hold for a bit.  I’ve tried a bit of the Dark Zone and it’s like a dumbed down version of the 1-30 content.  It feels like a meat grinder, with the only goal being to collect more numbers, to grind more meat.  I realize that’s the entire point of “end-game” content, it’s just that there’s no strategy to it.  Point and shoot and that’s it.  The hard mode missions are neat though.  It’s just that I recently played all of them, and I can do with a break.

That brings me to Dark Souls.

The Heck Man?

My experience with DS starts with the NES.  Seriously.  I played Battletoads, TMNT, Ninja Gaiden, Punch Out, Ghouls and Goblins, Contra, and Castlevania.  I have played against the RNG of gaming, and I have played within the crazyness of pathing of the AI.  I was raised in the fires of a Game Over screen.  Clearing the Ninja Gaiden remake is the only recent high bar I can compare to… and that was nearly 10 years ago.

DS follows that thought process and applies a bit of an open-game mindset.  I like the concept of respawning enemies when you save.  I like that enemies have patterns that you can learn to exploit.  I like the complexity of the stats, and the interactions between items.  The feeling of being the little guy against a mosh pit of enemies.  I like that when you die, you can get the lost souls back, and that any gear you did acquire stays with you.

My only gripe is in the controls.  It took me an hour to break the instinct of pressing X to attack.  So much so that I had to swap out what X did and put in an item I couldn’t use to avoid drinking all my potions.  Rolling to avoid damage is inconsistent, along with the collision detection.  A roll that works the first time, you may completely miss the 2nd time.  Attacking is similar, where the lock-on doesn’t always register due to movement.  Enemies hit you with an unknown hit box, making it really hard to figure out if you actually evaded correctly, or if they missed you my an imaginary pixel.  Or that you can’t interrupt an attack (at least I haven’t figure out how to on anything other than a grunt).

I tried the first boss about a dozen times.  I was trying to figure out his attack patterns, and found that rolling in was more effective then out, for most attacks anyways.  When he transforms into that purple snake thing, the camera angle is so poor that I have no idea what he’s doing unless I’m so far out of range that I can’t attack.  It just turned into “dodge in, attack 3x, dodge out, circle strafe”.  And that strategy has worked wonders on anything since then that takes more than 5 hits to kill.

I clearly still have a learning curve to get through, in particular in learning how to be more aggressive when I get the patterns down.  The controls are slower and less responsive than I’d like, so that’s a big part of it.  I think it may have more to do with unlearning 30 years of gaming.

Still, it’s a fun game.  One where you feel yourself progressing, and there’s minimal AI cheating (mimics aside, those bums).  It’s not often I play a game where I learn something brand new, and I’m quite glad this one offers it.


Duke of O has an interesting comment that bears some expansion.  How to get self-motivated.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m an outlier when it comes to motivation.  My wife thinks it’s borderline OCD, though in fairness it has more to do with anxiety & stress management.  At work, I take spontaneous decisions multiple times per day.  Each one is based on the available facts, my memory, expert advice, and finally the analysis of the long-view.  Most people can understand everything but the long-view.

Sure, a decision today has an immediate impact, but what about a few weeks from now, or a few years?  How does it impact me, the people close to me, and the people outside my circle?  How does it impact other decisions?  These are all items that go through my head and are incredibly hard to shake.  I’ll give an example, home renos.

For a long while we wanted to knock down a wall and open up the kitchen.  Sounds simple enough.  After I looked at all the details it actually turned into a whole floor reno.  I needed to re-arrange the kitchen cabinets, get a new counter, open up another wall to run pipes & electricity, move some switches, re-enforce an adjoining wall, change the flooring in the kitchen and remainder of the floor to match, which also joined into a bathroom…it was never ending.  What seemed like a simple job turned into a 6 week reno.  None of it was surprising, as I had thought it all out, but it took time.

How does this link to self-motivation?  I think long term and I think in terms of return on investment.  I worked for about 4 months on a particular work project from my basement. I spent a few weeks at the cottage too, working at odd hours to get it done.  I knew that if I crammed as much work as possible into the right time space, I could get double that in free time later in the day.  I made sure that the environment was conducive to that as well, so I eliminated any distractions.  I basically set up the perfect environment for me to succeed, removing any excuses.

Same goes for exercise.  I just don’t have time to physically travel to and from the gym.  The closest one is about 5 minutes away.  Including the driving, changing, and shower, I lose at least 30 minutes of my day.  And that’s not counting the waiting for a machine/weight to free up.  What would take me 60-90 minutes in a gym, I can get done in 45 at home.  That’s massively motivating.  The equipment I have, and the setup I have, make it extremely easy to get going, listen to music or a movie, and get the workout done.   I’ve removed all excuses from the equation, with the exception of “I’m too tired”.

And that’s the hardest one because it’s often true.  So I use various applications to keep me honest.  My wife uses social groups.  Getting a notification on the phone/tablet that it’s time to workout is motivating.  Seeing the progress between workouts is even more motivating.

Self-motivation is like a chemical reaction.  You need the right conditions and the right ingredients to get it going.  And once it starts, it’s usually quite hard to stop.

New Gear

I’d been thinking about it for a few weeks now and when that happens, it usually follows with about 20 hours of homework for options.  It doesn’t matter what it is that I have my mind on, I am thorough.  This time it was replacing my home gym equipment.

Swapping from this


It was far from useless, in fact I was using it every other day for quite a while.  It just limited my movements and isolated muscle groups.  Even though I was getting better at the exercises on the machine I felt I was losing in regular day to day activities.  Compound exercises are the way to go, and you need free-weights.  So I’m selling the above and swapping to the below.


That’s a power rack and bench I got from Treadmill Express.  Buying fitness equipment in Canada is not the easiest…holy cow.  There are at least 10x the providers in the states and usually the shipping is included.  Anyhow, I bought on Sunday, it shipped out on Monday and was at my door Tuesday.  That’s impressive.

I spent about 2 hours Wednesday putting it all together.  That was a workout in itself.  Now I need to go and get an Olympic weight bar and some plates to complete the gear swap.  That’s also something that’s not the easiest to come by, since you know, shipping 300+ lbs isn’t cheap.  Thankfully there’s a store in town I can get a set for a good enough deal.  Then I can enjoy squats, lunges, benches and lifts galore.  And unless my math is wonky, all for under $1000.  That’s about 15 months of a gym membership.  Or half a gaming PC, hah!

That should set me up for this weekend and getting really into the stronglifts 5×5 program.  I’m much to rusty to lift anything more complicated.  It’ll be sore but it’ll be fun.

Health Update – Pushing and Pulling da Heavy Tings

Aside from family, work and gaming, I also play hockey.  I find that sports are a great stress relief, whether it’s competitive or just pickup.  But 5 years on since my first daughter was born, I was feeling a little pudgy.  Apparently, beer gives you a belly.  I think they should have a warning on the label.

6 weeks ago I started getting back into an exercise routine.  Nothing too fancy, just some dumbbells, a pull-up bar (or rather a pull down bar) and a yoga mat.  I live in Canada.  Running works for about 4 months of the year and who runs in the dark?  I had previously done the original P90X routine before I had kids and that was quite an effective exercise routine.  You’ll lose weight and built some muscle for sure, but you’ll never be as big as the guys on the TV doing high intensity workouts.  Tony H is a great instructor and has a good rapport with the other folks in the video.  If you’re going to pop in a DVD every day for 3 months, you don’t want them to be annoying.

Later on, I tried the Insanity workout, which is borderline stupid if you ask me.  It is a pure cardio exercise, with a large helping of plyometrics.  It’s not possible to do the routine completely, and on schedule unless you are already fairly close to fitness.  I mean, the people on the video can’t even complete them without dropping.  Shaun T is an ok instructor but the people in the video are the type you’d want to punch in the face.  Tonya in particular.

I’ve tried the Jillian Michaels stuff my sister had passed me.  The Ripped in 30 is the better of the bunch and a decent way to start a program.  The pace is solid, but the workouts are very repetitive.  Plus, she’s all hell annoying.

So I went back looking and found the P90X3 program.  Yes, a 3rd one.  Actually, the 2nd one was the sequel with some new workouts but this one is a different beast.  It’s 90X in 30 minutes.  Imagine taking a 1 hour workout, rests and all, and then crushing it down to 30 minutes.  There’s one workout, The Challenge, where my sheet afterwards indicated I did about 200 pushups and nearly 100 pullups in 30 minutes – including warmup time.  Nutbar.  But the results are great and the relationship between Tony and the workout folks is even better than in the first set.

Exercise doesn’t mean much if you’re not eating well.  A recent article stated that obese Americans outnumber overweight.  The only way to put on weight is to eat more calories than you burn and that can be an extremely easy thing to do.  The bad news is that in North America, most foods are empty calories due to the abundance of corn and artificial filler in everything we eat.  The good news is that I have a rather severe intolerance to animal fat and artificial preservatives (specifically nitrates), better news is that my wife is intolerant to corn.  I am absolutely incapable of eating fast food and most food in a restaurant doesn’t jive.  My shopping is on the outside of a grocery store, rarely in the aisles aside from some cereal, pasta and baking goods.  So calorie management is pretty easy for me, aside from the beer.  I will say that the food portion of weight management is the hardest part.  Exercise is easy, you only do it 30-60 minutes a day.  Food is around you 24/7.  Its own long topic…

Finally, I being a tech guy, I have a few gadgets to help out.  A FitBit One to measure steps taken and sleep (which the wife has appropriated), an Amiigo for workout tracking (with so-so results so far) and a smart scale that measured weight, BMI, body fat and water ratio.   Well, that scale took a data dump.  One day I was 270, the other 190, the next I was weightless.  So we bought a FitBit Aria, which works with the FitBit app (score) and on wifi.  Well, let me tell you that this scale is something else altogether to setup.  First, it only works in an 802b network.  You know, the one that’s been out the door for 10 years?  Plus the security only works with WEP/WPA.  In a day and age of “push to connect” this is like an ancient relic.  It took me 3 hours to complete the setup, searching the bowels of the interwebs.  I had to reset nearly ever setting on the router to get it to work, and now I need to reconfigure all my other appliances to connect back.  Well, the good news is that it works at least… but for $150, I would recommend everyone stay away until it undergoes a big engineering redesign.

That really long post to say that I’m down over half my weight goal so far.  My eldest daughter is interested in fitness (always a plus) and I’m slowly pulling my wife into a more active lifestyle, given the ease of tools and quite obvious results.  Results are certainly motivating and since I’ve past the 1 month mark, I’m in more of a habit than anything else now.  And once you’re in that groove, you start looking forward to the next time.