Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Weight

Around the end of August, beginning of September I started cutting my calories. I did a little research on how to calculate what I needed and decided since this is the only "diet" that I hadn't really tried I would give it a shot. In my research I found that a rough estimate is to take your goal weight and multiply it by 13. So I want to weigh 155 but overshot and said 150. So I took 150 x 13 and got 1950. That's how many calories I could eat each day.

It was really hard at first because you get so hungry throughout the day. After the first two weeks it was a breeze though. My hunger subsided in-between meals and I got on a pretty regular schedule. How I began was cutting out unnecessary calories. I already drank diet soda so that wasn't something I could change. Things like big snacks in-between meals got the axe though. I also cut out big sides to the main parts of my meals. I am now on a pretty regular "diet" of a small breakfast, a decent lunch, and a big dinner. I put diet in quotations because I really just consider this how I eat now, not a temporary way of cutting weight. And that's really how it has to be in order for this to work.

My breakfast usually consists of Eggo Cinnamon Toast waffles. I have 2 each day with nothing on them. Trust me, they're that good. Lunch I have a sandwich with little or no side. If you have been following my Facebook posts you know that I frequent Subway. That's not because of the advertising of losing weight from Jared, but more that it provides low calorie food and is also my favorite fast food restaurant to begin with. Dinner is most of the time at home. Jenna and I have found recipes online that are not only delicious, but low in calories. As long as you keep breakfast and lunch low though, you can have a hearty dinner and not feel bad about it.

Watching every single calorie is very important the first two or three weeks. It lets you know how many calories you have left for the day and gives you a feel for what is acceptable food to eat. Trust me, we've found some food that is just jaw-dropping in calories that we used to eat all the time. It's not to say that you can never have high calorie foods or go out to eat any more. You just cut calories in certain meals if you know you want to have a bunch during a certain one.

The two tools we use most to help us are iGoogle which has a free app called "Food and Calorie Finder" and "Lose It" for the iPod Touch and iPhone. Food and Calorie Finder let's you search pretty much any ingredient or restaurant for calorie information. It's a bit quirky but it gets the job done. My suggestion is when you're searching for stuff, leave out the apostrophes. They screw up the results and make them unclickable. Lose It is basically the same thing, but more convenient when you're out and about.

Jenna started probably 3 weeks after I did and is up to 17 pounds lost. I started back in early September-ish and just hit 30 pounds lost. It's an amazing feeling to have old clothes fit you and have people notice that you're losing weight by asking you.

The Arcade Project

There's a lot of technical mumbo jumbo in this blog so a short and simple story to go with the pictures is that I'm building my own MAME arcade. Click here to skip the story and see the pics.

Back in July I started researching the world of building my own arcade. It’s very fascinating what people have done and can do to say the least. There were so many paths and options I could take. It took me about two weeks just to get a feel of what all needed to go into it and where to get everything.

First I had to decide whether I wanted to use an emptied out original cabinet, build one from scratch, or fork out the money for pre-cut pieces. The emptied out cabinet offers true form and is pretty cheap, but could lack quality due to wear and tear. Building one from scratch gives self satisfaction of doing the job and let’s imaginations run wild, but could lack in quality depending on carpentry skills and requires quite a bit of garage space. Pre-cut arcade frames look fantastic and professional, but cost quite a bit.

Next was the decision on what type of monitor to use. There’s the original arcade monitors that will obviously give a true feeling of an arcade, but can be pricey and are also known for electrical shock even when unplugged. In some cases I read where people died from this capacitor electrocution. I could put in a television that would give me an arcade feel and is cheap, but it can be difficult to find the right size monitor that has s-video and power return (more on power return later). The other option is a computer monitor which works well since there is a PC running it anyways so it obviously hooks up, but it can cause sound delays that really take away from the arcade feeling.

I also had to decide on a control panel where all the joysticks and buttons reside. With any choice of cabinet, I could choose from a number of control panel options. I could buy one flat out which again looks professional, but is definitely costly. I could build one which requires a lot of know-how on running wires and would have to convert to USB eventually. I could also buy an original arcade control panel. This would give me original feel, but limits you to one style as far as where the buttons are and I would still have to convert to USB.

So my decisions were an emptied out original cabinet, a TV for the monitor, and a purchased custom control panel. The cabinet I bought off of Craigslist was in really nice condition and was super cheap. I haven't purchased the TV monitor or custom control panel yet because my money has been pretty much frozen since we started house shopping. The TV monitor is the safer route and let's me go up to a large screen without ridiculous weight like a computer monitor. It will need power return which means when I power the arcade on, the TV will turn on and go to the correct input that it was last on without me having to touch anything. LCD's would have been nice but I did a test with one and the choppy sound lag was unbearable. The control panel is going to be the most expensive part, but it will allow me to put the buttons in the places I want and in the colors that I want.

I bought a PC off of Ebay to run the arcade. The motherboard was DOA and so I got a refund for it, but got to keep the tower. I used the refund to buy a new mobo and a faster processor for it, so it worked out. I also bought a wired Xbox 360 controller to add to the one I already had to provide controls to the games until I can buy the control panel. I also picked up a smart power-strip from Target that allows me to shut everything off by shutting down the PC. This is done through it's master/slave power sockets. The only other purchase thus far is a nice wireless keyboard and mouse from Logitech off of NewEgg that provided quick access and easy hiding when I needed it.

As far as graphics for the cabinet, I have picked out Mortal Kombat II vinyls for the sides and control panel, and a plexi-glass marquee for the top. Mortal Kombat II was and still is my favorite arcade of all times. I play it constantly already on the setup I have now.

Currently it is an unfinished project, but after we move into the house this things gonna be perfect. I will blog about the finished project and provide more links on where everything came from and the prices of each component. Here are the pictures of the arcade currently.

The House

Jenna and I are buying a house in Apollo Beach. It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom with an office, and it has a screened in back patio. It was an investment house, so not only are we getting it cheap but the entire interior is being completely redone. They are putting wood floor throughout, tile in the bathrooms, new carpeting, new paint which we picked out, new outside accent paint, granite counter-tops, new refrigerator, and bathroom light fixtures and mirrors. We're really excited about everything and can't wait to move in after our closing date of December 20th. It'll be a nice Christmas present to ourselves. Shortly after moving in we plan on doing some renovations of our own that include knocking down a wall or two but that's another blog.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I have quite a bit to blog about but want to get my thoughts together before posting. Stay tuned.