37 minutes and 24 seconds

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Today was unseasonably warm in Philadelphia, so I thought to myself, “I should go run outside instead of on that dumb old treadmill I’ve been running on for weeks and weeks!”

The last time I ran outside it was Christmas Eve, I was in Texas, and I wasn’t feeling the run at all. I ran 3,3 miles in 40 minutes and 48 seconds.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for my run today - actually, I expected it to slow and horrible. It wasn’t! Well, it was as horrible as running always is, but I ran my best 4 mile time (outside) ever and I mananged to run 4 sub-10 minute miles in a row.

Hurrah for me! 


1 Year, and 94.5 pounds, Later

Scott vs. Scott

A year ago I, somewhat on a whim, I signed up for Weight Watchers. I figured I'd give it a year and see what happened.

Now, I should say that I didn't think much would happen but I knew I needed to lose some weight and figured, "why not?"

See, I'd lost 100 pounds and gained 80 pounds back (though I managed to keep 20 pounds off, so that should count for something).

I dropped all that weight by not eating carbs and working out. That worked well, but it wasn't sustainable and so I turned to Weight Watchers.

Weightchart

A year later and I've lost 94.5 pounds so far, and the craziest thing is that it wasn't really that hard. Sure, I can't eat whatever I want (and guess what? I generally want to eat lots of stuff I shouldn't eat in quantities that aren't advisable) and I go to the gym more often then I would like, i.e. more than 0 times a week, but overall it hasn't been that big of a change.

My biggest take-way from this last year is that I have no idea how to eat like a normal person. Most people manage to make sensible food choices every day with actively following a set of rules enforced by an app. I just can't do that, however, I'm really good at sticking to clear rules about food (which was way the whole "no carbs" thing was my first choice).

The fact that I can eat whatever I want, as long as I have the points to spend, makes me accountable with my eating. Intellectually, I know that having a doughnut from time to time isn't a big deal... but for me that "time to time" shifts from once a month to once a week to once a day in an astonishing short time.

Weight Watchers also appeals to a strange quirk of mine: I really like to know what I'm going to eat several meals ahead of time. Now I can leverage this oddness to plan out my eating for a couple of days and know what kinds of snacks I can have.


What's next?

When I signed up for Weight Watchers, as I said above, I wasn't expecting much but I did secretly hope that I would lose 100 pounds by my birthday. At the moment I am far closer to this goal than I thought was possible, but I'm certain I won't hit that soft goal (I've lost about 1.9 pounds a week on average), but 100 pounds is my goal, which I'm sure I'll hit sometime by the end of February.

After that... perhaps another 20 pounds? Sure, why not!


I bought a new computer!

About This Mac


I didn't really need a new computer, but that's never stopped me before!

When the new iMac Pro started shipping it made me think about when I bought my current computer. Turns out I bought it on Nov. 30th, 2012 (Gmail remembers all!).

5 years seemed like a good run for my iMac, so I bought a new iMac (not the Pro because I'm not a madman).

I really like it. The only difference I experience is that is much faster. It looks exactly like my old iMac, and all my stuff works with it so I'm a happy camper.

Though, really, that 5 year old iMac was just fine. But this is just finer.


TV Theme Songs

I wasn't able to join in the fun on the Incomparable's TV Theme Song draft podcast (mostly because I forgot to RSVP for it), so I thought I'd share mine here, because why not!

Here we go:

1. Golden Girls

When you say TV theme song, this is the song that pops into my head. I also enjoy a song that can be read dramatically, so bonus points for that.


2. Mr. Belvedere

Streaks on the china? Never met them before!

I watched way too much Mr. Belvedere and I really like the theme song.

3. 30 Rock

No lyrics, because they are for losers. This theme song is bouncy and fun... plus Marisa had a little dance she would do when it played on the TV. So cute!

Lightning Round. Action 6 News

I am not a native Philadelphian, but 6 ABC News has the best news theme song ever. When I found out it even had words I was floored. And tempted to move closer to your world.


How do you read so much?

I get asked that question, from time to time (especially at the end of the year when I share that I've read x number of books, 78 in 2017).

And interestingly, I notice that at the start of every year I see a bunch of posts/articles claiming to have the secret to how you can read more.

Here's the real secret: there is no secret to reading more.

That's it!

You just have to make time for it. You know that time you spend doing something other than reading for pleasure? If you spent that time reading instead, you'd read more.


I miss writing

As readers of this blog may have noticed, I didn't blog a whole lot last year (or the year before). And as the even smaller number of people who track my tech book writing have noticed... I haven't written a book in a very long time!

Don't get me wrong, I still write a lot but the vast majority of my writing is for ye olde day job. I seem to have fallen out of the habit of writing for pleasure.

EvergreeniconI was reminded of this fact by two related things. I decided to switch RSS readers from NetNewsWire (which I've been using forever) to Evergreen (which the original developer of NNW is working on). I did this for a couple of reasons:

  • I get the sense that NNW isn't really the top priority for the company who currently owns it.
  • The only reason to use NNW is for syncing across devices, and that just doesn't work well (nor does the NNW iOS app, which is a shame).
  • While Evergreen is very early in its development, I know Brent is going to keep on making it better and better... and his vision of what an RSS reader should be pretty much matches my own.

Moving my feeds into Evergreen gave me the opportunity to go through and do some feed pruning. I was clicking along happily until I came to my "Philadelphia" folder.

I discovered that most of the blogs in that folder have long been abandoned and I re-read this blog post Marisa wrote awhile ago bemoaning the lack of personal blogging in general.

Therefore, I'm really going to try and write stuff here (and maybe in other places, though I really doubt anyone is interested in paying me to write anything at this point).

I think the first thing I'll write is a post about why I abandoned my Apple Watch and embraced the Fitbit life. I'm sure everyone is dying to know!



My 2017 by the numbers

Yesterday I got it into my head to create a list of numbers representing my 2017. The list of numbers is fairly random, but it was fun to compile.

Here we go:

  • 5,016,653 steps taken as tracked by two Fibit devices (the One and the Ionic)
  • 2,503.4 miles walked/ran
  • 4,482 floors of stairs climbs
  • 1,452,961 calories expended
  • 215 work outs as tracked by my Apple Watch and then the Ionic
  • 91 pounds lost (thanks, Weight Watchers!)
  • 77 books read
  • 32 books by women
  • 28,781 pages all told
  • 6 pieces of Stickley furniture (none at full retail, and 5 ridiculously cheap!)
  • 59 podcasts hosted (spread out over Random Trek, Total Party Kill, and Vulcan Hello)

New Year's Eve

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4591/38541392345_6656b4fbe8_z.jpg

Lots of people love New Year's Eve, and more power to them! I, however, do not count myself amongst their number.

I don't drink. I don't like being in large groups of people. And drunk people aren't my favorite either.

If you were to try to design a holiday that held no interest to me you'd end up with New Year's Eve.

That being said, there is one thing that I always to try to on New Year's Eve: eat some pigs in a blanket.

Why? Well, when I was growing up (and well into college), I would generally stay home on New Year's Eve and hang out with my mom. She'd always buy one of those variety packs of frozen hors d'oeuvre and we'd eat them as we watched Dick Clark ring in the New Year not so far away in Times Square.

That's why I ate 4 pigs in a blanket (pictured above) and thought of my mom.

Happy New Year!


My favorite reads of 2017

There's still a few days until Christmas, so what better time to recommend a few books that I think we well worth your time (or the time of your loved ones).

If you aren't tickled by anything on my list you should check out Jason and Dan's. Their taste is pretty ok. I guess.

Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter

I do so enjoy a good science fiction story, and Noumenon has lots of stuff that I enjoy:
  • A story told across many, many years
  • Clones (who doesn't love clones?)
  • A generation ship
  • A strange construct in the stars that people want to investigate because... it exists

My favorite aspect of this book is probably a spoiler, so I won't share but... but it is pretty darned good.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

A murder mystery involving people who work/hang around a bookstore? Of course I'm going to read it. In fact, I've read a few books that meet the same general description and Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is one of the best.

Now, I will say that it suffers from the same problem that many mystery/thrillers do: all the pieces fit together a little too well. It isn't all that believable, but there is a reason this book is filed in fiction. You'll like it!

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

I know what you're thinking, "Another book set in WWI featuring psychics talking to dead soldiers!" but this one is good!

I will admit that I recall little of the story but Robinette Kowal is a great writer and I think this book has wider appeal than her other series (which is basically Jane Austin with magic... and of which I'm a big fan!).

Ninefox Gambit & Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

The first two books in, what I assume, is a trilogy. The final book will be published in 2018, so now is the time to read the first two. And I have to tell you, you'll have no idea of what is happening for a good part of the first book... because I sure as heck didn't. But I loved it. So much. The second book is far more straightforward of a story, but it'll really make no sense if you don't read the first one.

Read them both and you'll thank me later.


Star Trek: Ships of the Line 2018 Calendar

A new calendar!

One thing that Marisa knows will also be a Christmas present hit with me is the Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar. Every year, up until this year, Marisa has purchased this calendar for me and I loved it!

Last year was no exception! I unwrapped the calendar, knowing was it was, and tucked it next to the couch so I could bring it to work with me when my "Special Winter vacation" was over.

And that's where it sat until yesterday when I noticed it sitting there unloved, unused, and neglected. I pulled out it and showed it to Marisa. She said, "yeah, that's why you're not getting that calendar this year."

Or am I? Well, I bought it for myself (only 7 bucks!) but I did learn my lesson: I had it shipped to work where it is already gracing my cubicle wall:

Ready for 2018


Welcome, MarsEdit 4

MarseditI'm certain the vast majority of posts I've written here have been composedMarsEdit, and now there is a new version!

I happily paid to upgrade... now if only MarsEdit could somehow get me to write more!

Here are some posts I have been thinking about writing, instead of writing:

  • An update on my weight loss
  • The backlog of book reviews
  • Fibit Ionic review
  • Kindle Oasis review (usually I chat about this on my friend Jason's podcast, but that didn't happen this year... so maybe I'll write about it?)
  • Best books of the year read by me (I always feel like I shouldn't do this one until 2018, but then I think perhaps someone would want to buy the books I recommend. Then I remember that no one is reading this blog so it doesn't really matter what I do!)

And that's just off the top of my head! So why haven't I been writing? I dunno. Reading is so much easier, I guess!

Anyway, hurrah for MarsEdit 4.0. I dig the snazzy new icon


Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh

F8BD0F23-C36A-4904-887C-F822A56E2F7DSeth, the man behind the Hugos There Podcast, emailed me awhile ago to invite me onto his podcast. While I appear on a number of podcasts (and have one of my own!) I am rarely asked to appear on other people’s podcast (I can only assume because most people don’t want to talk to me, which I understand). Seth said, pick a Hugo award winning novel and we’ll chat about it.

Sounds like fun to me! I’ve read a number of the Hugo winners but I didn’t want to re-read something, so I decided to pick “Cyteen” by C.J. Cherryh. A book I knew nothing about, but an author who I had been meaning to read but had, as of yet, not gotten around to.

After I shot an email to Seth with my choice I realized two things: this book is very long (680 pages) and it isn‘t available in ebook (plus it appears to be out of print).

I ordered a used copy and then found out that while 680 pages isn’t generally that many pages… these pages are very big.

I felt bad for making Seth read this giant tome, but really isn’t it his fault for inviting me onto his podcast? Also, I suddenly realize why people don’t invite me onto their podcasts.

The book itself was good, though I‘m not sure I’d recommend anyone read it. It is chock full of big ideas, and the writing is good. But the first 100 pages or so were a bit of a chore to get through.

It did trick me into thinking that the story would be one thing and then completly change tacts not once but twice, and I liked that.

Overall, I’m glad I read it and you can hear me chat with Seth about it if you like.

Who should read it: Someone who is trying to read all the Hugo winners, C.J.Cherryh completists, 80‘s scifi fans.

Would I read it again: Once was enough, though I am going to read more Cherryh.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions

C835C473-90CB-4CAE-B4C8-037EEE584FE0I’ve been slacking on my book reviews, but I haven’t been slacking on my reading!

Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions is the 3rd in the Kopp Sisters series which follows the exploits of the first woman to be a deputy sheriff (Constance Kopp).

The first book was great! This one was… less great though an interesting book to read right after “Lean In” since the plot involves young woman going to jail just for having the nerve to leave their parent’s home and pursue a career.

The Kopp sisters are fun characters, but this book didn’t do much for me. It is well written, but lacks a compelling plot.

Who should read it: Just read the first one.

Would I read it again: Nope!

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


House Hunters: Us edition

The House Hunt Continues:

We tried to buy a house in West Philadelphia this week. After nearly three years of looking and we finally found a dwelling that we both liked enough to offer vast sums of borrowed money for. But it didn’t work out. Another offer was accepted and the reason given was the terms.

Finding a house is a difficult process, even more so when one person involved doesn't really want a house.

I've lived in apartments my entire life with one exception: 2 years in an off campus house during college.

I'm familiar with apartment living. I like apartment living. I like not being responsible for the vast number of things that could go wrong with an apartment.

And, like many people, I fear the unknown. Homeownership is a big unknown for me, but over the course the last 3 years we've looked at many houses (in fact, the very first house we looked at was the only one we both liked.... until the house we saw last week) and I've come to accept that there are some upsides to homeownership.

Here's to us finding the right place!


Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

IMG_6709

TNG has impacted my life in many ways.

On my desk at work sits the mug above, waiting to be filled with the hot beverage of my choice. Usually that means hot chocolate, however, whenever I get it in my head to try to like tea I turn to... earl grey!

Thanks, Capt. Picard.

I should note, that the tea bag in this mug isn't earl grey, it is Pure Leaf Vanilla Black tea. I got it as part of a book box thing I'm a member of, and it is pretty tasty.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

The future of sitting in a chair

The above video documents something that you've probably never noticed, and yet when it is pointed out you can't unsee it.

This, my friends, is known amongst those in the know as the "Riker Maneuvuer."

Word on the Internet is that Jonathan Frakes hurt his back moving furniture so it was more comfortable for him to sit like that. I don't know if that's true, but I could watch that video for hours.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

Favorite TNG Bit Player

Motthebarber

Mot the Barber! He's everyone favorite Bolian and the best barber in StarFleet (according to Riker).

I have no idea why the Enterprise has a barbershop which employs several barbers, but I'm glad it does.

Not only does Mot suggest that Work should use conditioner, Picard poses as him to thwart some terrorists who want to steal the Enterprise.

Plus he's bald and he makes a living cutting hair.

Though it is unclear to me if Mot gets paid. The Federation is a money free society, so no one has to work. I guess Mot just really likes cutting hair?

Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

Favorite TNG Movie

Quick, name all three TNG movies!

Trick question, there were four. Sadly, most of them weren't very good but First Contact is probably my second favorite Star Trek movie period (Wrath of Khan is number one, and may be my favorite movie in general).

I do have a strong memory of going to see Star Trek: Generations in the movie theater. I was in college, and excited to see the TNG crew on the big screen. The movie opens with, what soon becomes clear, a champagne bottle slowly rotating end over end as the credits roll. The bottle smashes into the Enterprise-B and that's when you see your first Star Trek character: Capt. Kirk.

WTF? This was supposed to be a TNG movie! Though I will grant them that it was fun to see Picard and Kirk together most of the stuff that happens in the Nexus is boring, and (spoilers) Kirk's second death is a bit anti-climatic.

First Contact's main titles aren't very impressive either:

However, the first scene is just a Borg punch to the eye (and the surprise in the mirror gets me every time):

This scene with Picard and Lily (Alfre Woodard) shows why this movie is so darned good:

Of course the big moments in that scene are great (Picard smashing the window, Lily telling him he wouldn't he the first man to enjoy killing, THE LINE MUST BE DRAWN HERE!) but my favorite part is Picard's reaction to being called Capt. Ahab. Perfect.

This movie really is really about Picard (and Data, though mostly Picard) but each of the characters get a moment in the spotlight. Plus good old Reg Barkley makes a cameo. I mean really, how can you not like that?

Now, calling First Contact the best TNG movie is damning it with faint praise I will admit. And if that were the extent to which I enjoyed the film I wouldn't recommend anyone watch it. However, this movie is legitimately good and makes one wonder what happened with the two that came after it (the less said about them the better I think).

Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

TNG Season 7 Favorite Episode

"All Good Things..." is the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation and one of my favorite episodes of the series (and without a doubt my favorite season 7 episode).

The fear was real. The fear that the final episode of TNG ever would suck. Luckily, it was a pitch perfect way to end the series, and launch the movie franchise. And that final scene with Picard joining the rest of the bridge crew at the poker table? I couldn't think of a better way to end the show if you paid me.

I've been thinking a lot about what makes Star Trek feel like "Star Trek" to me. I keep being reminded of something Marisa said to me as we were deciding if we should watch something new or continue our watching of Deep Space Nine. She said, "Is it weird that I think of watching Star Trek as spending time with my friends?" The friends, of course, being the characters in the show.

And that's what "real" Star Trek is to me. Those interactions between characters on the show that make them human. Whether it is talking about archeology to one another, or gathering around a table to play friend game of poker.

I've included the original promos for both halves of "All Good Things..." but you should also watch this trailer for the Bluray which features the remastered version:

CBS did a great job with the HD remastering of TNG (in fact, if you're watching TNG on most streaming services you'll get the HD version).

To really get a sense of the improvement check out this (probably too long) video that compares the SD vs the HD version:

Ok, now a few of my other favorite episodes of Season 7:

  • Parallels: Worf almost eats some cake!
  • Lower Decks: What if there was an episode of TNG that didn't focus on characters you knew? That's this episode!
Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

TNG Season 6 Favorite Episode

There! Are! Four! Lights!

This is a bit of a cheat, but my favorite episode in season 6 has got to be Chain of Command (Part 1 and Part 2, though I think Part 2 might edge it out if I had to pick one. Good thing I am making the rules for this series!).

Picard and Dr. Crusher (for some reason) are sent off on a secret mission. Whilst Picard is away a new captain appears on the ship and shakes things up (and makes Troi put on a regular uniform to boot).

The mission goes poorly and bad things happen to Picard. Plus there are Cardassians (which might be the best new enemy race TNG created).

Other good episodes include:

  • Relics - Scotty and a Dyson Sphere? I'm in.
  • Timescape - Romulans!
  • Tapestry - Another interesting Picard episode, and a very good Q one too.
Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

TNG Season 5 Favorite Episode

Season 5 is another season chockfull of great TNG episodes. In fact, it has what many consider to the best episode of TNG ever: Darmok.

I really like Darmok, but it isn't even my favorite episode of season 5. That honor goes to The Inner Light.

Man, what an episode and what a concept. An alien probe causes Picard to live an entire lifetime in the matter of hours just so he can understand their long dead civilization. That's some pretty heady stuff.

And it is one of the rare episodes that echoes throughout the rest of the series. Picard learns to play a flute in this "lifetime" he lives and that shows up in subsequent episodes as a sort of short hand for the impact of the experience on him as a character.

Another favorite episode is Cause and Effect which features a very Star Trek twist.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

TNG Season 4 Favorite episode

Remember Me has a lot going for it as a Star Trek episode. This is one of the rare Dr. Crusher centric episodes, and I enjoy that. It also involves a lot of technobabble (warp bubbles and what have you), a mysterious alien (The Traveler) and something that I really enjoy: uncanniness.

Over the course of the episode the Enterprise, a place familiar to everyone who is watching the show, is slowly transformed into an unfamiliar landscape. People are disappearing, and no one but Dr. Crusher seems to care.

And it is the episode with this quote, "If there's nothing wrong with me maybe there's something wrong with the Universe."

Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

TNG Season 3 Favorite episode

Season 3 is when TNG really gets cooking. Given the large number of good episodes this season you'd think I would have trouble picking my favorite, but the choice is clear: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1."

How could it not be? Picard is assimilated into the Borg? WHAT?! And even better, the writers didn't think they were coming back for the 4th season, so they set up this crazy cliffhanger and didn't have a clue how to resolve it. They figured, "let the suckers who replace us figure it out!"

Joke was on them, since they had to figure it out

Some of my other favs include:

Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.

TNG Season 2 Favorite Episode

Man, season 1 of TNG is not so good. Season 2 is an improvement. In fact, I actually had to pick my favorite from a handful of episodes.

But without a doubt The Measure of a Man has got to be my favorite season 2 episode, and I honestly think it is a good episode of Star Trek in general.

There's conflict between crewmembers, something that just didn't happen in season 1. Sure, it is a setup but Riker has to do his best to prove that his friend is just a piece of equipment. Not only that, but that Starfleet can just rip apart Data and study him in any way that they want.


Star Trek: The Next Generation is 30 years old. Scott is celebrating by writing a TNG related blog post every day for the entire month of October.

Find the rest of the posts in this series here.