Tag: Weeks

Weekly Recap: Indie Video Games & Erik Larson

Weekly Recap: Indie Video Games & Erik Larson

Video Games: Unfinished Swan

Indie game Unfinished Swan is available free this month if you have a PS+ subscription. This is a wonderful, short, artistic game. There was far more detail, originality, and difficulty than I had expected. The story itself is linear but doesn’t make a ton of sense. It is set in the first person; you are a little boy following a random swan around this drawing world.

The game play changes each level and all of it is fun. I thought the entire game would be about paint splatters but they did a good job at really making each level different. Some don’t involve paint at all. But all involve light and contrast. It really is beautiful.

You can’t really die in the game. If you go where you’re not supposed to, you just come back to a near-by checkpoint. Also, saving only happens when you actually reach the end of a level. The first time I played it, I quit after reaching the first Storybook, and was disappointed to find I had to start over because it didn’t save.

This is more of an exploratory game than a puzzle, platformer, or shooter. Definitely unique style and wonderful artwork. I really recommend this one.


Books: Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Erik Larson is most known for Devil in the White City. His narrative non-fiction take on the serial killer H.H. Holmes at the Chicago World’s Fair. That book is fantastic. Larson did his research and it shows. He includes mundane yet interesting facts about the fair, Chicago, and the world at this time. At the same time, he builds tension surrounding Holmes’s behavior. It never felt dull.

Since I love history, I really was looking forward to reading his latest Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. I have read many World War II books but not as many books on the first war. I do know all about the context of the sinking of the Lusitania and what it meant for the US’s involvement. Typically I find these types of stories interesting.

At 100-pages in, I’m considering bailing on this one. Larson goes way off the scope here with extraneous mundane details. Some of it is interesting. Like, that President Wilson was extremely depressed after his wife died. So much that he walked around Manhattan hoping to be assassinated. But… that has nothing to do with the Lusitania.

Larson gives us the life stories of several passengers. None of them are interesting. There isn’t a main character so we never develop emotions for anyone. And for some it just goes on for pages. At least this is slightly more related to the Lusitania.

The weaving of random facts that have a very tiny thread linking them reminds me a lot of a Bill Bryson book. Specifically, One Summer: America, 1927. Bryson took a specific year and wrote about a whole lot of various things that happened in that time period. It is all over the place. It seems that is what Larson was trying to do here. Unfortunately, ships are pretty well-contained. Unlike a huge event like the World’s Fair, a ship is pretty routine. There is a small crew. There weren’t that many passengers. Because of this, Larson has to write a lot of filler to make this full book length. He includes lots of information about events happening around the same time as the Lusitania sinking. But those have nothing to do with the actual event. This isn’t the type of book I want to read.

Without a main character, it is really difficult to care about the fate of the ship. Especially since we all know what happens. There is zero tension. And zero emotional connection. It’s more like Larson is practicing the “spray and pray” mentality of writing a hundred thousand random facts and hoping we find at least one of them interesting.

Weekly Updates: March Madness + Half Marathon Training Modified

Weekly Updates: March Madness + Half Marathon Training Modified

Life: Half Marathon Training – Weeks 6 & 7

After receiving advice from a very helpful comment and another running friend, I’ve decided to completely modify my current training plan. I had been following Run Keeper’s sub 2:15 half marathon plan.

The plan itself is a bit advanced for what I need. So using advice from last week’s comment, and listening to my body, I wrote up an entirely new calendar for training. The new training plan consists of two runs during the week day, one of them speed work. And two runs over the weekend, one of them long. Then two days of cross training and a rest day.

For this race, my minimum goal is sub-2:20 to PR. In 2012 I ran the Brooklyn Half in 2:22:52 and the NYC Half in 2:21:13. I don’t care how much I PR by. For training purposes, I’m giving myself a goal race pace of 10:30mm. That’s an estimated finish time of 2:17:39. This current week was my first modified week and it’s been going really well. I might be able to take it up a notch. But it feels better than not being able to keep up. In the long run that wouldn’t help anything and could really cause injury.

Here’s my training workouts from the past two weeks!

Half Marathon Training – Week 6

  • 12 x 400: 5mi / 0:52:01 / 10:24mm
  • Treadmill: 3.1 / 0:33:55 / 10:56mm
  • 4 x 1: 6 / 1:04:57 / 10:49mm

Week 6 Total: 14.1 / 2:30:53 / 10:43mm

I also spent 30 minutes strength training three of the days. This is something I like about going to a gym. It is a nice change and is really helping me feel more fit.

Half Marathon Training – Week 7

  • Running: 4.01 / 0:54:38 / 0:13:37mm
  • Treadmill: 2.67 / 0:30:00 / 11:14mm
  • Elliptical: 2 / 0:30:00
  • Treadmill: 6 / 1:06:23 / 11:04mm
  • Running: 10.4 / 1:58:00 / 11:21mm

Week 7 Total: 25.08 / 4:29:01 / 11:49mm

Life: March Madness – Go Green!

Perfect Bracket Go Spartans March Madness MSU
Go Spartans!!!!!!!!!

I’m sorry if you don’t like basketball, really I am. I don’t get award shows and I know how annoying those are when they’re happening. And the NCAAM tournament isn’t just one night. But I do think it’s fun even if you don’t like basketball. Usually people who randomly guess brackets end up doing a lot better anyway.

I’ve made three brackets this year: two for groups and one for me. This year is strange with so many non-fans rooting for my team to win the national championship (MSU alum here). Even the president pick them to win! Thanks, Obama.

After two days, my brackets aren’t in terrible shape. My picks were all over the place but I am winning in one of the groups with 260 points. Thank you NDSU.

Really I love all the stories. Like the Olympics, I love hearing the struggles schools and athletes faced to get there. The records the underdogs break when they win. And the look of determination on all their faces. Remember folks, these are college kids. Little babies! The oldest on a team might be a 22 year old fifth-year senior. Little babies running around with a basketball doing amazing things.

Fun fact: North Dakota State University is the first team from the entire state of North Dakota to win a game in the NCAAM tournament.

Book: Have You Found Her?

Have You Found Her? A memoir by Janice Erlbaum
Have You Found Her? A memoir by Janice Erlbaum

This is one of those books I was able to finish in one sitting. That doesn’t mean it was good. I spent four hours on the couch last Sunday reading this memoir and being a bed for the cats. What kept me reading this pretentious tale was the predictable-ness of the story.

Within the first fifteen pages I had predicted an ending. I basically kept reading to see if I was right. It took a while, the reveal wasn’t until the very end, but it turns out my plot prediction was correct. It’s difficult to read true stories like this and not be able to understand how the author couldn’t ‘see this one coming too’. Yes, I know, it’s different being inside something than outside looking in. It’s just frustrating at as a reader.

The writing style was fine and easy-going. Erlbaum’s thoughts and actions were so goddamn pretentious though. Unbelievable in some cases. Like she really thought she was saving the world.

Erlbaum starts the story explaining she lived in a girl’s shelter in NYC for a few months as a teenager. Now she’s a grown-up living the good life in a fancy pants apartment. She wants to give back. So she starts volunteering at that same shelter. She immediately makes favorites, bringing certain girls gifts and things, getting pretty obsessed about how helpful she is. How much of a difference she can make on these girl’s lives.

Then she meets Sam. This is not a book about her volunteering at the shelter and all the different girl’s she meets. It is not about her learning the stories of other’s. This is her story about how her intimate (platonically) relationship with one of these girls. It is about how she tries to saves someone. I guess that’s why it is a memoir. It is all about her and her supposedly good intentions.

Then Erlbaum meets Sam and immediately starts taking care of this girl who is in and out of hospitals.
Sam is in constant need of attention. There is always a drama. There is always something wrong with her. Her life was extremely bad growing up. Though she can expertly play a piano (she said she learned from a drug dealer…)

It’s really one thing after another, which is enough to keep the reader interested. But only because you’re waiting for the truth to come out.

If you like memoirs, stories of mentally/physically ill teenagers, or NYC stories I recommend this. But it is easy reading and predictable. I give it 3/5.

Internet Best Of: Links

Writing
Impostor Syndrome and Writing – Fit is the New Poor

Productivity
Baby Steps in the Morning – The Asian Pear

NYC
Cheap Eats: Dollar Samosa’s – The NY Budget

Food & Health
This Infographic Shows the Phytonutrients You Need to Stay Healthy – Lifehacker

Blogging
Stick A Fork In It (Or: When Food Blogs Stopped Being Food Blogs) – The Amateur Gourmet

March Madness & Bracketology
Statistical NCAA Tournament Predictions – FiveThirtyEight

Brooklyn News
Driver charged after SUV ends up on subway car in Brooklyn – ABC News

Brooklyn History
How Brooklyn Neighborhoods Got Their Names – Mental Floss

Charity
Donate to Stephanie’s 2014 Walk for Hunger – Project Bread

Weekly Updates: Half-Marathon Training Week 5 + Quesadilla Quiche

Weekly Updates: Half-Marathon Training Week 5 + Quesadilla Quiche

Race Training Week 5 – Running for the First Time

Even though I’ve been running for practically a decade, this time around feels like I’m running for the first time. Taking last year off from running & racing was a great decision.

In the past, my mental state definitely wasn’t very positive. And especially not during running. I generally say that I hate running. Even while doing it. Even after doing it. Even when racing. Even after running for so long. I say it is horrible terrible. I say that I hate running culture, and runners, and races, and outside, and parks, and shoes, and clothes, and gadgets. Everything. I would run and think to myself how much I hate everything. That is far from relaxing.

Now I’m at a point in my life where I can be kind to myself. I don’t have to be “that type of runner.” This race can be mine. My time is mine. My run is mine. These shoes are mine. Not yours.

I feel like I’m finally discovering all those things people have said about running. It can be relaxing. It is time for myself. It’s as hard as I make it. I don’t have to be fast. Listen to my body, instead of other’s.

As expected, this has really changed how I feel during running. Instead of negativity and anger filling up my head, I’m trying to empty it. Think positive or think nothing at all. The latter is what usually happens but that’s better than nothing.

This week I did not do a long run but I did listen to my body. I did some strength training, something I’ve never focused on before, and really enjoy it. It helps me feel fit all over. From that, I was feeling sore and tired. Listening to my body, I did some shorter comfortable run instead. I’m not racing to win, here.

Sub 2:15 Half Marathon – Week 5
Treadmill: 4 mi / 0:44:08 / 11:02 pace
Running: 2 mi / 0:20:00 / 10:00 pace
Treadmill: 3.1 mi / 0:34:40 / 11:10 pace
Elliptical: 1.86 mi / 0:20:00 / 10:45 pace

Week Total: 10.96 mi / 1h 59m 48s / 10:44 pace


Food: Quiche-adilla

Quesadilla’s are a staple of my cooking rotation. They can be as simple or complicated as I make them. Cheese ones are perfect for a quick dinner. Vegetable + chicken are perfect when I want something heartier. I always have my mexican spice mix on hand which adds just the right flavor.

This week I wanted to try something new with quesadilla’s. So with the help if the Internet, I decided to make a quesadilla quiche. A quiche-adilla if you will. It turned out really tasty and I definitely recommend it.

Quesadilla Quiche Recipe

  1. Put a large tortilla in a pie plate
  2. Mix shredded chicken + cheese in a separate bowl
  3. Optional add-ins: jalapenos, spices, peppers, tomatoes
  4. Spread mix onto tortilla
  5. Whisk 2 eggs, 1C milk or water, 1C flour in a separate bowl
  6. Pour liquid mixture over meat mixture on tortilla
  7. Bake in oven at 450 for 20 minutes

Books: The Essential George Sheehan

the essential george sheehan

As I stated above, I was never a fan of running culture. So I never spent time reading books, magazines, articles, or anything else about running. It felt none of it related to how I ran. Or it perpetuated the running culture that I did not like. Either way, this is why I had never heard of George Sheehan until this year.

The Essential Sheehan is an anthology of sorts of selections from articles & books written by Dr. George Sheehan. Dr. Sheehan retired from cardiology at 44 and took up long distance running in the 70’s. He was one of the first to incorporate fitness into medical science. And looked at life and running in a different way.

It is notable that I read this book immediately following Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less because they are both quite similar. On the content that crosses over from one book to another, both author has the same opinion on it. The only difference is Babauta tells his in bullet points and Sheehan tells his in essay form. This is personal preference but I really enjoyed Sheehan’s essays. Adding context and personal stories can provide much more motivation than a simple bullet point statement.

For example, both authors say to start with one, simple goal. Don’t try to do too much at once. Don’t attempt to quit smoking and take up running in the same week. Don’t attempt to run a marathon a week into running. Sheehan provided examples that he saw from his fellow runners and even the mistakes he himself made. This really helped to hit home why doing these things were important.

Another example is both authors say to hold yourself back. Which might not make sense at first. Dr. Sheehan explains this is to prevent burn-out and injuries. He then tells stories of runners who take 3-6 months or more off after a race because of feeling staleness in running. Babauta explains burn-out as well but in terms of momentum. We start out a change with so much momentum and excitement that if we do too much at first, we will not be able to motivate ourselves when it becomes challenging. Even if you know you can 4 miles today instead of your usual 3, hold yourself back. Run 4 next week as that will give you something to look forward to.

I recommend Dr. Sheehan’s writings for everyone, runners and non-runners alike. He writes a lot of good life stories and incorporates positivity without this coming off as self-help at all. It is also interesting seeing his perspective change throughout his life. Since this is a collection of his works, he goes from being an intense racer to being a social runner. There are also some articles about his experience with cancer, which is a whole other thing altogether.


Internet Best Of: Links

Productivity
Why I Don’t Set Long Term Goals – Budget and the Beach

Personal Finance
Traditional IRA: Saving Broke Millennials Hundreds of Dollars – Broke Millenial

Brooklyn
Sunset Park is home of Brooklyn’s cheapest pizza pies – Brokelyn

Positivity
10 Things I Like About Myself: A Link-Up – Avoiding Atrophy

Blogging
Why My Business is Breaking Up With Facebook – Nuts + Bolts Media

Internet Privacy
This Infographic Shows You How to Delete Yourself from the Internet – Lifehacker

College Basketball
Onions! The Never-Made-the-NCAA Tournament Club, 2014 edition – SB Nation

Jobs & Life
A Day in the Life of a Cruise Ship Stage Manager