Sunday, April 13, 2014

I Am The Biggest Loser


  You may have heard the old axiom: put a frog in a pot of boiling water & it will hop out. But, if you put a frog in room-temp. water & slowly raise the temp. until it boils the frog will not hop out. I think the validity of this is actually incorrect. A frog won't let itself be boiled alive if it can help it. However, similarities exist between this and many real-life situations. One such instance is the problem many Americans have: that of weight gain.
  Becoming fat & obese doesn't happen overnight. It is a process that takes months & years and occurs because of poor lifestyle habits more than anything. But because of that I think it can be reversed. No one I think can claim that they are incapable of losing weight & becoming fit. Not even after being grossly overweight. Just look at the game show The Biggest Loser & it's ilk. Last season the US version of the show (there's like 27 versions across the world) there were 15 starting contestants who dropped tremendous amounts of weight while competing. the weight losses ranged between 20% up to 59% and 87 LBs up to 222 LBs, not bad for about 3-4 months work.
  I contemplated trying out for the latest season of The Biggest Loser. The NBC weight loss competition show was holding an audition on Saturday, April 12 at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The show is looking for individuals, families and former athletes who have at least 100 pounds to lose for its 16th season. Those interested in trying out should be 18 or older. The grand prize for the show is $250,000. Birmingham has had its share of winners and contestants on the show. Mostly recently, singer and city native Ruben Studdard (American Idol winner) appeared on the show. However, after seeing what the average male contestant weighed from start to finish I thought that I probably wouldn't be considered since I'm like 100 LBs lighter already than they were from last season. (the men averaged around the high 300s while I'm 275). So, I'll be doing my own biggest loser challenge at home.

  I started today recording my weight loss programme on April 13, 2014--hopefully a lucky day for me. I'd already been doing it a bit before today, but now I'm locked in to the regimen and focused on the goal.
  As of 4-13-14 I weighed 275 LBs. You can see from my video slideshow (to be uploaded when this is completed) how I looked when I started. Overweight and obese. Not too fargone (I actually weighed 315 a couple years ago & lost down to the weight of where I started this programme) but still far from my goal of about 200 LBs.
  I'm 49 now. Back when I was around 20 I was in prime condition. Probably weighed around 190 LBs. I ran & played tennis all the time. Running was the primary way that I originally lost weight. I went into high school at 230 LBs. Back then I wasn't into athletics or anything really other than D&D & computer games. Between my Sophomore & Junior years in school I began running around a mall across the street from my home in the mornings (mainly because my brother had started doing this & I thought he knew what he was doing so...). This continued & I ran more & more & by the time I graduated high school I'd gotten down to about 180 (my brother had also lost weight-down to around 170 or so). We were looking good & feeling good.
  I started playing tennis so much that I got good at it. Me and the friend of mine who played entered local tennis tournaments around town. Back then (in the 80s) the skill levels were A, B, & C, with A being the best. I started in C and found that I was too good so went to B. There I stayed. I played singles, which I wasn't that great at, and doubles, which I could occasionally win. This went on for years.
  In time the tournament skill formats changed & went to a point system like that of the USTA. I think it starts at 3.0 & goes 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, etc. So now you could enter under one of these categories. I played at 4.0 & found it to be about the same as B level from before. I'd do average in singles at that level & about half the time win tournaments in doubles. Sometimes I'd even play higher level, say 4.5 or 5.0 in doubles and still win matches. In singles I would rarely win above 4.0.
  At any rate this went on for about 15 years. In 1995 I was actually in a USTA league in Birmingham that won locally and went on to win the state. The next year we came in 2nd in the state. The team couldn't win past that (playing against winners from other states), but I still think this was a great accomplishment.
  After that I rarely ran anymore or played tennis. I'd be lucky to play more than once a week or in a couple tournaments a year. The only thing I can attribute this to is lack of interest. That and I remember it seemed that the quality of opponents in tennis was waning (it seemed like they tried to cheat on line calls more or on what point it was=one guy tried to cheat me out of a couple points in a tournament and he called me the cheater-unbelievable).
  Anyways, so I wasn't running or playing tennis much. I got more into computer games again. Around the year 2000 I found the game Everquest through a friend at work. It seemed like the coolest game ever made. I lost myself in the virtual world of EQ for hours on end leveling characters and finding treasures. It was great. I eventually got tired of that & moved to other games; EQ2, Perfect World, D&D Online, LOTR Online, Tanks, etc., but then found what became my go-to-game: WoW.
  World of Warcraft has been my game of games since around 2005 or so. I began playing, as alliance, when all there was was the original game-max level 60. I played it for a year or two and got a couple dwarves to around level 50 or so, then quit due to job issues I think.
  Later, when I was in a regular job again I heard that WoW had added the BC expansion=max level 70, the new territory of Outlands to explore, etc. So I rejoined the game and leveled characters on 2 accounts each to the max, horde this time, & journeyed all over this new world. But I ultimately became bored again-I guess due to lack of content. So I quit yet again.
  Jobs changed & years passed. Then I heard of another expansion-then another. (The Lich King, The Cataclysm). I had to return again. So I bought WoW again and rejoined, again. This time alliance. The world had changed-big time. The capital cities had been reshaped as well as many areas of Azeroth. Much of the way you played was different: spells has been altered, talents were different, etc. It was almost a new game. There were new races and classes in the game. And the new territory of Northrend to explore. New lands & new dungeons for higher levels. Also now you could fly in Azeroth & Northrend, something you couldn't do before. Flying had been only allowed in Outlands until now.
  Then the Pandarean expansion came out advancing levels to 90 & introducing panda race & the continent of Pandarea. You could now be a monk=who could be anything he wanted; healer, dps or tank. Kinda like the druid, though more Kung Fooy.
  And so since about 2010 I've been playing continuously leveling several characters on one account. Between my job, watching TV & playing the game (and finding at least some time to write a couple books that are available on Amazon.com) that's pretty much all I've been doing. No exercise, and eating fast food just about every day. Needless to say I've gained weight.
  No more. As of today I'm losing it. Everyday that I can I am hereby striving to take the weight off one pound at a time. I've done it before. Like I said, a couple years ago during the summer in 3 months I went from 315 down to about 275, a loss of 40 LBs. So I know I can do it. Then what I did was to walk for about 45 minutes every morning and evening and stay away from fast food & sweet drinks & desserts. It worked then, so it's gonna work now.
  My goal is 200 LBs. I'm at 275 or so now on 4-13-14. I will walk for about 45 minutes every morning and evening that I can & stay away from fast food & sweets or anything fatty. I bundle up in sweats & just kinda power-walk=walking with purpose, not strolling. Eventually I might get in good enough shape to jog, but for the time being it's walking. And I'm keeping a photo record of myself (selfies) to show how I look.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Alternate Reality Movie List

   I'm starting a list of movies specifically in which some or all of the characters somehow and by some means (be it mechanical, computerized, by dream-state, hallucination, etc.) go from their current reality of the film and into some other alternate reality.
   I'm not talking about simply fictional stories where the plot line itself is an alternate reality, although some movies in this realm may also delve into this arena, no, I'm describing something else. For instance; the movie Terminator, although the film is about an alternate reality, is not about characters being taken from their reality into some other alternate one. (The reality they already existed in was the alternate reality). The Matrix is a good example of what I'm talking about: Neo & others are plugged into the Matrix, which is the alternate reality created by the artificially intelligent machines, and when he is unplugged he realizes that the real world is something completely different.
   So here we go:
   MOVIE                        THE ALTERNATE REALITY
The Matrix           =       a computerized reality of the AI machines
Inception              =       people's dreams hijacked by an implanted idea
Labyrinth             =       the labyrinth of the Goblin King
                                      (I'll be updating this list for a while)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Batman Has Some Trouble Being Understood Lately

   Christian Bale was a great Batman. His portrayal of the caped crusader was impeccable. But many have had complaints about his voice. They say that he's hard to understand--that he's talking weird. I'd have to agree, especially the farther along the series went it seemed. At first he spoke just slightly harsh, as if he wanted to disguise his voice, but the harshness grew more pronounced. Ultimately he became almost unintelligible at times. At any rate there have been spoofs involving his troubles in this regard and one in particular was done by Monkey and Apple who have created many dozens of spoof videos that they've uploaded to Youtube. Find them here: https://www.youtube.com/user/MonkeyandApple/featured
   This one is where Batman interrogates the Joker, enjoy:
video

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2014 Bracket Contests

   It's March Madness again. The time of year when the college basketball fans go crazy for their favorite sport and root for their team to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Every year, besides watching the games, we can all try to win big bucks & other cool prizes by filling out brackets in the various contests that are available to be entered. And this year the prizes are bigger than ever, with one grand prize (if you can pick a perfect bracket in it) worth a billion dollars. Even after taxes that's still a whopper of a prize. Here is a list of many of the better contests to enter I think. I entered most of these myself. This year I decided to throw caution, and logic, to the wind and just pick randomly without regard to seedings (except for the 1st round 1 vs. 16 seeds which are never upsets). Good luck to all who enter & here's hoping I win something this year.

1 billion grand prize (unbelievable):
https://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/quickenloansbracket/

1 million grand prize:
http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/collegebasketball/tourney/join/
http://charlotteobserver.collegebasketball.upickem.net/collegebasketball/registration/login.asp
http://lowellsun.collegehoops.upickem.net/collegebasketball/registration/login.asp
http://sportsillustrated.collegehoops.upickem.net/collegebasketball/registration/login.asp
http://www.libertymadness.com/
http://athlon.bracketbreakdown.com/
http://madness.nbcsports.com/
http://2014brackets.kusports.com/collegebasketball/registration/login.asp

$100,000 grand prize:
http://www.houlihansbracket.com/

$10,000 grand prize:
http://www.isportslinks.com/bracketchallenge.shtml
http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/ncaa-tournament/brackets/games
http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/2014/en/game
http://www.cleveland.com/marchmadness/brackets/#jsx-content-provider
http://www.al.com/marchbrackets/

others:
http://bracketcontest.com    ($500)
http://www.sportsco.com/ncaa/ncaa2.htm   ($500)
http://poolhost.com/jiffytixmm/   ($1,000 gift card)

   I'm sure there are even other contests out there. But this is what I found in my limited amount of time to search. This is still a goodly amount of contests at any rate (8 with a million dollar grand prize & one with a billion! Incredible)

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins...Sorta

    I grew up watching a number of classic tv shows including Gilligan's Island. I recently heard of a funny theory about the show which basically says that the characters on the show represent the 7 Deadly Sins. With some searching I discovered that there are millions of websites that discuss this possibility. I don't know if this was the producers original intention, but if you give it a look yourself you'll see that the evidence is strong & it kinda fits. At any rate I guess it is up to everyone to judge for themselves. (I believe it, lol).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Explore With Google Maps

There are some really cool videos available for viewing at Youtube that involve exploring with Google Maps. Here is a link to them: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=explore+google+maps&sm=3
and here is one of them in particular that I found quite nice:
video

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Where is Flight 370?

We have a missing plane...again
On March 8, three days ago, Flight 370 disappeared presumably somewhere over the Gulf of Thailand with 227 passengers on board. This is the latest incident of a large passenger jet just disappearing without a trace. Others have vanished like this before to later be found to have crashed, were recovered, or have simply never been seen again. There is a long list of airplanes such as this (including possibly the most famous one piloted by Amelia Earhart that vanished almost 77 years ago).
As recently as 11 years ago a large jet airliner was reportedly stolen while at the Quatro de Feveiro Airport in Luanda, Angola, apparently by an aircraft mechanic named Ben Charles Padilla, as told to authorities by his sister Benita Padilla-Kirkland. Her family suspects the plane to have crashed somewhere in Africa or is being held against his will.
So, this is certainly not the first time an airplane has disappeared. Yet, this plane, if stolen like the one in 2003, is unique in having a great number of passengers on board at the time. The odds are, if history is any judge, the flight encountered something and/or malfunctioned in some way which caused it thereafter to crash killing everyone on board. Looking at the statistics it is hard to avoid this as a probable outcome. And even though the possibility exists that the plane and passengers are safe somewhere, the evidence doesn't seem to back that up very well.
For instance: communications and transponder signals were lost abruptly & no signals have been received from the plane since. No phone calls have been made by any of the passengers that anything was wrong (although not too strange considering there probably was no phone service over the ocean). Radar saw the plane turning west & altering its course for an unknown reason-this may or may not be true.
A search for the plane or wreckage has been underway since without finding anything as yet.
To me the abruptness of signals is likely evidence of some kind of catastrophic malfunction, possibly with the electrical systems, which doomed the plane. Perhaps the pilots managed to turn the aircraft west to try and head towards land instead of continuing out over sea. Who knows? At this point we can only speculate until either the plane or its wreckage turn up somewhere.
   A great search for the plane is ongoing, but also, in an effort to help find the plane on the website digitalglobe.com is running a "crowdsourcing campaign" to get people involved in the search by examining live satellite imagery. I attempted to join in on this myself but couldn't get the web page to load up--possibly there are too many people doing this already and the website is either crashed or overloaded. At any rate hopefully their help will be of at least some assistance in this endeavour.
Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation_accidents_and_incidents
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_MH370
http://guardianlv.com/2014/03/how-to-lose-an-airplane-in-a-technological-world/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aerial_disappearances
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N844AA
The plane, its intended route and believed change of direction: