Testing crossposting from Dreamwidth.

Like a lot of folks, I'm considering jumping from LJ to DW because of the change in server locations for LJ. While I personally don't mind them being in Russia, the combination of LJ being a forum for Russian dissidents, the lack of transparency concerning the move, as well as the apparent breaking of long-standing policy, I'm all for moving in solidarity with those who need to move.

I've been on LJ for a long time, over 15 years, and I've nominally been on DW for a long time, too, over 7 years. But transitioning has been hard, and not worth it. For now I'm crossposting to LJ, but my goal is to make DW my new home.

This posting is a test of the crossposting to LJ, so we will see how that goes.

Edit: First try didn't have "this was a crosspost from DW" footer; I hope I have enabled that, and I'm hoping that this edit will push it.

This entry was originally posted at http://blaisepascal.dreamwidth.org/352225.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Elder Sign, a game review

Over Christmas I received Elder Sign as a gift. Elder Sign is intended to be a simpler, faster game in the style of Arkham Horror, which I like in concept, but do not have the time nor stamina for 4-hour games with 1-hour setup. Elder Sign promised to be about half that.

Initially, upon opening the box, doubts grew. Arkham Horror has the long setup because it has lots of pieces: a bunch of different types of tokens, several decks of cards in at least two different sizes, conditional setup based on random choices (if Nyarlethotep is NOT the big-bad, separate out some of the monster tokens and don't use them), etc, etc. Elder Sign has most, but not all, of the same. There are fewer token types, but not by much, and the board was replaced by a deck of cards, but there are still a lot of tokens to be sorted, and there are still Nyarlethotep-specific monsters. It looked like setup was still going to take a long time.

Fortunately, it seemed to go fast, and we could get to the game itself. There were two major changes from Arkham Horror: The map is gone, replaced by an ever-changing set of 6 location cards. Instead of moving from building to building and along the streets of Arkham, you move from room to room in the museum, and you get to do so freely during your turn. Also, the method of resolving goals has changed. Now, you try to match patterns on dice in a similar manner as in Age of War. If you succeed, one set of things happen (mostly good); if you fail, a different set of things happen (mostly bad). These results are printed on the card, so you can decide what to do based on the possible outcomes.

The turns are greatly simplified from Arkham as well: Arkham had 6 phases per turn, many of them lengthy, from spawning and moving monsters, to players acting, to triggering mythos events, etc. Elder Sign reduces it to 3: Move your character, resolve any tasks, advance the clock. You may move you character anywhere (including the museum entrance, which allows you to spend resources on healing, items, etc). Resolving tasks was described above, and advancing the clock is simply turning the hour hand on a cardboard clock ahead 3 hours and doing some stuff at midnight. The pace of the game seemed much faster.

All in all, I liked Elder Sign. It hit a lot of the thematic notes of Arkham Horror, and delivered on its promise to be a simpler, faster, game. It also hits the sweet spot of being able to play it with a wide number of people (the game is rated at 1-8 players). I have yet to try it solo, but I might do that sometime.

Stupid computer...

This morning, I went to use my desktop machine, and it was off. I usually leave it on.
Turning it on didn't work.
Unplugging it and plugging it back in didn't work.
Power-cycling the power strip also powercycled the monitors and speakers, but the computer stayed off.

A trip to Best Buy, and a new $40 power supply later... There's a glowing LED on the motherboard that indicates it is receiving some power, but the computer refuses to turn on.

I just ordered a new $65 motherboard from New Egg, in hopes that the problem isn't a problem with the CPU or memory. So hopefully on Wednesday or so I'll be able to swap mother boards and get it working again.

If not, I guess I'm ordering a new $50 CPU. I'll probably order another 8GB of memory as well, to boost the system to 16.

I didn't want to buy a new computer for Christmas. Bummer.

Halfway there

In mid-June I weighed in at the doctors at about 315 pounds. When I visited my mom at the end of June, my step-dad gave me the "with your health issues, if you don't do something, you're gonna die" speech, and pushed low-carb, ketogenic as a diet choice. I started that on July 4th.

Today when I stepped on the scale, it read 277. Also, my fasting blood glucose was in the range of 200 mg/dl while taking 100 units of Lantus (long-acting insulin) and 45mg of Actos (diabetes drug)/day. I'm now surprised when the fasting glucose is much higher than 140, and I'm taking 60 units of Lantus and no Actos. I believe my A1c in June or July was 7.6, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it is in October. (I'm also on Metformin, but no change in that prescription)

My goal has been 250, as that's what the skydiving clubs in the area have posted as their maximum weight for their tandem jumps. That means I'm over half-way to that goal.

Vegetarian ketogenic diet is hard, since few high-protein vegetables are also low-carb -- and carbs are in almost everything. I've been trying to keep to less than 20g net-carbs/day, and I certainly don't greatly exceed that. But it means I'm eating a lot of eggs and cheese, with a decent amount of salad and Morningstar Farms products thrown in for good measure.

I've found the site Linda's Low-Carb Menus & Recipes to be very helpful. So far, I've made two casseroles from the meatless main-dish page: a mushroom spinach quiche and a chile relleno bake. The quiche is great, but the chile relleno bake is a bit too spicy for me, at least how it came out.

I went to the doctors last night...

I went to the doctors last night. That it was at night wasn't surprising, since I've found it convenient to, whenever possible, schedule my routine appointments for the last slot of the evening (8:20pm) on Tuesdays. This appointment was at 8:20pm on a Tuesday.

Of course, I had to tell my doctor about the LCKD. He was unfazed. He wondered if the Qorn products might be a good alternative to try. Overall, he liked what he saw: the legs are much better, much less swollen. The weight is down 15 pounds. My A1c is down to 7.6%, which is about the best he's ever seen it in me. My blood pressure is down to 100/50, which he's a bit concerned about, and wants me to keep an eye on it. He is considering eliminating one of my hypertension drugs because of that. He didn't seem to mind the self-monitored lowering of the Lantus that I'm doing. He wants me back in 3 months, and to keep up with the diet and exercise. The next appointment is at 8:20pm on a Tuesday (Oct 13).

I am not seeing a dose-dependent effect with the Lantus. When I took 100 IU/day 5 days ago, my morning(fasting) and evening blood sugars were around 150. When I took 80 IU/day more recently, my blood sugars were around 150. When I took 60 IU/day yesterday, my fasting blood sugar this morning was 150. Either I'm experience a peak dose effect, the Lantus isn't doing anything, or my diet is dropping my blood sugars fast enough to compensate for the decreased Lantus. I can either cut more Lantus and see if my sugars go up, or I can hold the Lantus and see if they go down.

Swimming update -- along with other health stuffs

Shortly after my first not-very-successful attempt at swimming as exercise, I got some books out of the library on swimming, and then failed to read them much while on a weeks vacation in VA. It looks like the current hot trend in better swimming is a program called "Total Immersion" (TI), which (luckily) the pool I swim at has classes in. However, from reading the first part of the book, I very much get the idea that TI is good for improving/retraining your existing swimming, but isn't designed/intended as a "so you don't want to feel like you are drowning within 10 feet of starting freestyle swimming" book/technique. The pool periodically offers a $60 "Learn To Swim" class, which I'll try to catch on the next period.

In the mean time, I'll walk in the lap pool. At its deepest, the pool is 4'6" (135 cm), and I'm comfortably taller than that. Last Tuesday I walked 1300 yards (26 laps), Thursday I had time pressures and walked 900 yards (18 laps), and Sunday I walked 45 minutes with sheherazahde, which turned out to be 1300 yards. Walking through the pool reminds me of pulling a sledge: it's a constant, gentle resistance that goes away if you stop, and it's everywhere.

In other health-news, the visit to VA included a long talk by my step-dad about the benefits of a ketogenic diet on his diabetes, and the risks to my life if I don't try it. So last Saturday (the 4th), I effectively started a Low Carb Ketogenic Diet (LCKD). I'm not calling it "paleo" (my paleolithic ancestors were opportunistic eaters who would eat just about any edible foodstuffs they could find easily, be it meats, grains, tubers, fruits, etc. What they commonly ate depended more on the local environment than on what they had "evolved" to eat), "Atkins", etc, but rather simply LCKD. My current dietary goals are (daily): less than 20g net carbs, 100-125g protein, 2100 calories. That should force me into ketosis, prevent my body from harvesting muscle for protein, and give me a 500cal/day deficit for weight-loss. Those keeping track at home can tell that means I'm getting 60%+ of my calories from fat, but that's OK with this diet. The body will burn fat as fuel, so the theory goes.

So far, it seems to be doing well. It is hard, as the world is filled with carbs (that juicy, tasty tomato? 5g of carb, a quarter of my budget). But so far, after 10 days or so my morning blood glucose is down from 200(ish) to 150(ish), and my daily Lantus is down from 100 IU to 80 IU. Today I'm trying an experiment where instead of 40IU of Lantus, I went with 28IU (read: I was lazy and didn't want to get out a new container of Lantus and inject myself a second time). I will see if that greatly changes my evening blood glucose (also around 150ish). My weight has gone from 310 to 295, but I think the 310 was an anomalous high.

Under this diet I can eat all the cheese and eggs I want, and given the prevalence of carbs, I need to eat a lot of them. I've discovered that forcing down large amounts of cheese can get hard, but pickles cut through the heaviness nicely, allowing me to eat lots of cheese in one sitting. I've rediscovered that my body will rebel against scrambled eggs if I get too many of them -- not to the point of vomiting, as happened many years ago, but enough for me to feel I shouldn't continue eating them. Luckily fried eggs don't seem to have that effect. And unripe avocados are not worth eating.

I'm also undergoing physical therapy for chronic lymphedema, which involves going twice a week to an office, putting my legs in inflatable leggings, and having my legs squeezed peristaltically to force lymph and fluid out of them. It lasts for about 30 minutes, and I can lie back, turn the lights low, put in my earbuds, and listed to podcasts (or nap) while it's going on. I've got one more treatment, and they will then measure me, record my improvement, and fit me for compression socks so that treatment will continue.


As you may recall, recently I've had left leg issues which eventually ended in a diagnosis of cellulitis, a fluid pocket in my calf muscle (most likely a hematoma), chronic lymphedema and vascular insufficiency, and medial osteoarthritis in the knee. Because of the recurring cellulitis, the orthopedist said that knee replacement, or any surgical treatment for the knee, carried too high a risk of infection which could lead to amputation.

So it looks like I won't be picking up the Couch-to-5K mantle again. In fact, since then I've been driving to work instead of walking in order to avoid aggravating the arthritic knee.

This leaves a hole in my exercise regimen, and I've seen my weight creep up as well.

Thinking about what aerobic exercise equipment are available at the local gyms, I get: treadmills, cycles, elliptical machines, lap pools, and stair climbers. Only one of those doesn't put pressure on the knee joints. So swimming it is.

Searching google for "couch to 5k swimming" I found everyone recommending a Zero to 1 mile swimming workout. So I thought that sounded good.

The first workout is 700 yards, 4x100, 4x50, 4x25, with rests between each 100, 50, and 25 in the set. Yesterday, I did 2.75x25.

It's not good, but it's a start.

I also realized that while I won't drown (as long as I can stand on the pool bottom, or are within 25 yards of shore), I don't really know how to swim properly anymore (if ever). I'm not sure how to fix that without throwing a lot of money at the problem. My gym has multiweek classes for $140 or so that don't fit my immediate schedule, and that's the best option I've found.

Walking and compensating.

I've noticed recently that when I walk, I get into a weird, slow, uncomfortable gait. I would normally write that off as compensating for the knee that is giving me trouble, but walking normally isn't that painful to me.

Besides, the gait was weird, like I was deliberately landing on the ball of my right foot, or trying to come down flat, rather than on the heel. So my right foot and leg were held stiff, giving me a rocking-back-and-forth gait, rather than the standard inverted-pendulum movement of normal walking. When I consciously tried to walk normally, it worked fine.

I had some discomfort in my right heel. Perhaps I'm trying to compensate for that pain, not the knee.