Monday, January 31, 2005

Slippery Terrain

Well, I'm late, but life is like that.

I told you that I would tell you about another comic book series that I enjoyed with a artist of a different flavor. That would be "Girl Genius" by Phil Foglio.
Phil has an interesting past. A lot of people know Phil from "Phil and Dixie" from Dragon Magazine fame. What people didn't know so well about Phil was that he had a different line of work making funny pornographic comic books. Phil didn't produce the hardcore stuff like you might see in Heavy Metal or Penthouse Comix, Phil was more along the lines of high fantasy comic pornography. The first time I met Phil he was wearing a badge that said "Gentleman Pornographer" which I guess summed up his effort of hiding it. I say this because if you visit the website you might see some nudity if you look enough: http://www.studiofoglio.com/

However, that being said, his latest creation "Girl Genius" focuses on what Phil does best: Bring absolute crazy situations to his stories. They sum it up as "A Gaslamp Fantasy with Adventure, Romance and Mad Science", with a lot more of the former and latter than the middle.

This is a perfect time to get in because after getting off to a slow start, the story is really starting to get good. The toughest thing about "Girl Genius" is actually finding it, so reward yourself if you get a chance. You can always pick it up at their online store.

I guess this post turned out to be more about Phil than his comic, which is okay, because if you ever meet him and his wife, they are larger than life characters.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Sharing the wealth

Reading comic books has always been fun for me. Even today there are a few comic books that hold my attention. I don't indulge in many of the mainstream comic books but I do enjoy comic books like "Knights of the Dinner Table" that remind me of some of the silly RPG stuff I did in my youth. I even indulge myself by attending GenCon and Origins every year to get my 8 solid days of gaming in for my annual fix.
Now game conventions are weird places where things can get completely out of control, but one of my best finds in recent years has been Aaron Williams. Aaron has actually done a number of comic books including the fantasy themed "Nodwick" but my favorite creation of his is "PS238" (http://www.ps238.com/)
PS238 is a comic about a school for superhuman children (with some aliens and otherworldly beings thrown in for good measure). I enjoy it immensely because at least from a comic perspective (and probably a personal perspective from the time I have spent observing him), Aaron is a PG type guy. What I mean is that if your looking for dark, brooding story lines with lots of killing and mayhem, then this isn't going to be your series. However, if your like me and you enjoy a good laugh and the thought of sharing your hobby with you children, this is an excellent series. The story lines are engaging enough to entertain just about anyone including my wife.
The series would have been funny enough but the Aaron included a perfectly normal boy in the mix. His parents (both superheroes) just know he is destined for greatness and insist he goes to the school. Following his story of just how to survive elementary school (where the "atomic noogies you get really are atomic) I think is identifiable to all of us, where it was tough enough without playing dodgeball against kids who can throw them a supersonic speeds.
Plus I bring it up since Aaron is one of the nicest guys in the business, and although I doubt we'll ever see his name next to Stan Lee's for recognition; I think he certainly deserves whatever recognition he can get.
Next post I'll bring up another great comic that has an author with a much "different" story.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Speed vs. Work

I mentioned on an earlier post that I wanted to get up to 3.5 miles per hour. I reached that...and gave up on it. The problem is that at that speed it really became distracting. I think that it's easy when you are yourself to go a little faster to overlook how many problems it is causing, but after you settle into it for a bit you realize that your giving up a lot for speed. Since then I have scaled speed back to 3 miles per hour and been slowly increasing incline. It seems to be working well.
I picked up Fitness!Yourself but I haven't utilized it much. I'm going to start next week, I'll give you updates of how it is going.
I've actually heard from someone that they are thinking about trying to set up a system like mine. They are supposed to tell me in a few weeks how it goes. When I hear from them I'll let you know. With luck I'll have pictures.

Tomorrow I'm going to tell you about one of my favorite things, and it's even rated PG. Stop by!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

In defense of gaming

I decided today that because work is consuming an ever increasing part of my life, that I would write update at work at lunch. However, I usually use my lunch hour to read CNN and keep up with World events. I read an article and never got to the update, however, I present my alternative to the update, my e-mail to the Governor of Missouri. No, I don't live in Missouri, but he needed a good talking to anyway. :)

Dear Sir,

The attached article at:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/01/25/videogames.prisons.ap/index.html

states that "Blunt said state tax dollars -- as well as employees' time -- should not be spent determining which video games are violent." If this is true you have done a grave disservice to your constituents by not using it as a chance to address a larger issue. Violent games can easily be identified by looking at their ESRB rating which are now on all games, requiring minimal investment of anyone's time. For definitions of the rankings see: http://www.esrb.org/esrbratings_guide.asp
The fact is that there is a larger overall issue here, the issue of violent games played by inappropriate groups, which includes convicts, but more importantly includes children. There are an extremely large amount of parents which buy games that are not appropriate for the age of their children. By changing the discussion from one of banning video games to a discussion of making sure the right games are given to the right groups, your office could have made a real difference in ensuring that people, and more importantly parents, understood the importance that video games can be a normal part of anyones life and constructive to boot.
Games like Animal Crossing (Rated E) teach about making friends, money management and other social skills. The Dance, Dance Revolution series (All rated E) is an excellent series that when played on a dancepad not only allows for friendly competition but is good exercise also when the weather outside is terrible.
Instead from reading this article, I got the idea that the World now perceives that Missouri is a state that when an embarrassing problem occurs, a knee-jerk reaction that does nothing to improve the public good is the order of the day. How disappointing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Better late than never...

Sorry I'm late. I also am not coming with as much information as I wanted to, but life is full of disappointments.

Today I want to make some suggestions about platforms for your keyboard and mouse.
I use a wireless keyboard and mouse, which for a system like this is almost a given. I have a Logitech mx700 rechargeable mouse and keyboard. I like them a lot.
The platform I built was 10 inches deep and 32 inches wide. My mistake. I thought I had really thought this through but I was wrong. It doesn't take must space to use a mouse, and the keyboard fits just fine, but there isn't enough room at the "front" of the keyboard. I need some space to rest my hands when, like right now, I'm not moving on the treadmill but just typing. I should have went 12" deep. Remember you can always pull the keyboard a bit forward on a little large platform, you can't push it back on too small of one. Second of all, don't just create enough space for your keyboard and mouse, give a couple extra inches. I went 4 extra inches and I wish I had eight. This would allow me to put a piece of paper on the platform next to the keyboard. Yes, I do have a bookstand, but occasionally it would be nice to have someplace to write. Embarrassingly I'll admit that I now balance my checkbook while walking on the treadmill. I know, I'm nuts. Hopefully NEXT weekend I'll get into showing you how to actually build a platform easily.

Also, I'm up to walking 3.4 miles per hour now while playing, only .1 miles short of my goal. I plan on increasing it next weekend then working on incline. I'll keep you up to date. No one has contacted me about the Fitness!Yourself product, so I guess I'll just have to buy it after I get paid this week. Thanks a lot :)

-Power on

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Enough about me

Tonight I want concentrate on some other things other than what I have been doing.
First I want to talk about Yourself!Fitness available for Xbox and PC. I'll be honest, I didn't even know you could get it for PC, but my local EB and Gamestop seem to barely acknowledge PC games exist. Xbox however they have predominently displayed. I asked about the product today thinking that in the spirit of the blog I should look at it.

"Sold out."
"WHAT?....."
"Yeah, we figure it is all those people who made those New Year resolutions. We are sold out."
"So no used or new. What do you want to bet I can pick up a bunch of used copies at the end of February?"

I know, I'm a punk. This did give me an idea though. Obviously some gamers who want to get into shape bought it. Kind of like the people who hopefully read this blog (I'm talking other than myself here). If some of you have bought it or have friends who have bought it, send me an e-mail, I would love to hear what you have to say. Or, leave a comment, I'm very flexible about these things. Lets try to make this interactive and make me believe that other people are actually reading this.
If you have never heard of the product, follow this link http://www.yourselffitness.com/default.aspx

Final thoughts
The other night's rant was therapeutic for me but I have to bring this up. A lot of terrible things are happening in the world; the bloodshed in Iraq and Africa, the Tsunami, the mudslides and other natural disasters in the Western U.S. I consider myself pretty blessed. I feel blessed to even be able to write this blog and -possibly- have an audience. So I guess I'd like to say; keep those people in your thoughts and prayers and use the survivors as a testiment to the human will, with the right attitude, you can overcome anything.

-Power on

Monday, January 10, 2005

Noise

Today I found an article in the technology section of CNN.com that tied into this blog. Here is the link: http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/fun.games/01/09/gadget.show.fitness.ap/index.html
There are a variety of different things talked about in the article, but one annoys me. Frank Hu. Mr. Hu, er excuse me, DR. Hu states that although exercising is good, " people who were physically active but obese were almost twice as likely to die as those who were both active and lean."
Thanks for the cheering section.
Problem is that Mr. Hu, excuse me, DR. Hu didn't state that his study showed that people who weren't fit AND obese were 2.5 times more likely to die, plus I miss that his study only included women. I'll take my .5+ times to die advantage if I can get it.

Allow me to vent for a moment here. I exercise and game because I've been driven to it. Do you really think I want to walk on a treadmill and game at the same time? I love working the 12 hour days? I love the hourlong commute?
The fact is that I always feel like I'm on a treadmill anyway. The "mean" 80s got replaced be the "anything is possible dot.com" 90s and have been replaced by the "squeeze him until there isn't a drop left" 00s.
I'm just trying to get into good enough shape to live to the next decade. I hope it isn't the "armageddon" 10s.

Yes, I grumpy today and I don't know why, but I do know I want to encourage myself an everyone. Stick with it. On a treadmill or stationary bike it doesn't seem like your going anywhere, but you are.

-Power on

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Warm-up

Well sorry I'm late.
I think the Japanese managers at my company read about how Electronic Arts treats their workers and decided they had gone slack. However, I got away with only 6 hours on a Saturday so I guess I should be happy that it isn't "crunch time".

To give you some details of the setup:
Treadmill
The treadmill is a NordicTrack C2050, on sale at Sears over the holiday for around $699 with a 10 year warranty on the motor and 1 year on everything else.
Pros: Has a fan and a drinkholder on each side, a large display with a bookholder and a bar for measuring your pulse and to hold onto. The fans are nice for airflow after you have been walking awhile. The drinkholders form a nice flat area, between that and the "pulse" bar, these forms the "4 corners" to use a a base for holding your keyboard and mouse. For that matter if you get rid of the the keyboard/mouse base, the drinkholders would also hold a controller or controllers for a console game. Oh yes, and I don't do a lot of programs with it since it breaks my concentration while playing, but my wife enjoys all the different features. Overall its a nice unit even if you take the gameplaying out.
Cons: It still seems a little lightweight. I'm 260 lbs, 6'4" so I am probably an outlier on who is supposed to be using this. But as I said, this is an experiment, I didn't want to spend a fortune. You can also put the unit "up" but even in the up position the "ramp" comes out quite aways so you don't gain back a massive amount of space, I would have liked to have seen more "verticle" to the ramp when it was put up. Also, you can only use it for 99:59 minutes before you have to restart. To save paying for an extra digit, that seems kind of stupid.

Shelving
I use a rubbermaid brand shelving found at most Home Depot stores. It is fairly heavy duty, it is of the "Twin Track" variety. You will see some units where you screw in a bar at the top then just hang the other bars off that. Those make it easy to keep them level and not have to put in a lot of screws. The ones I use allow you to do that too, but they also have screw positions in the rails about every 12 inches. I didn't use the top rails, instead I screwed them directly into the studs in the walls. After all, these shelves are holding my pride and joy...my electronics (don't tell my wife and daughter I said that) I have used these to hold my extensive role playing game and magazine collection for about 4 years (yes, I'm the complete geek package, but alas I do not speak Klingon, nor Icelandic, but more on that later). They are very strong.
Pros: I bet I could sit on it and not have it come down, it's very secure, and flexible. You can move shelves up and down in about 1 1/2" increments, I'm moving the monitor up about 6" as soon as it stops snowing here.
Cons: Somewhat expensive, just to hold what I show in the picture would be about $80 in rubbermaid and probably another $20 in wood. If you don't have power screwdrivers, saws and many other tools, this isn't going to be an easy project

I'm not going to get into the keyboard and mouse base as that's a whole different project and I don't want it to be specific to my setup, I want to try to be general about the things I learned while making it AND using it. Maybe tomorrow, maybe later, I will try to get to it as soon as possible.

Cleanup: Sorry about not leaving an e-mail to send stuff to me, that's what happens at the end of a 16 hour day, near the end of a long week. This blog stuff is new to me, I'll try to do better. You can NOW find my e-mail in my profile. I'm trying to figure out how to get it right on the front page like my friend Bill Harris.
For the one person who did comment, my main character is Ironscope on Stormrage. Say hi sometime.
Also, I'm up to 3.2 miles per hour now, although I've cut back to a more realistic 100 minutes (see above for reason) per night. I haven't started keeping track of my weight yet (still finishing off holiday cookies) but I couldn't have dreamed two weeks ago of walking 3.2 miles per hour while playing for over an hour and half; now its not much of a stretch.

Lastly: The name Sporticus does indeed come from "Lazy Town", a show produced in Iceland. In the show Sporticus teaches kids about fitness and seems like a cross between a jumping bean and a reject from "Fame". This achieved my goal of choosing a name that fell between helpful and mocking.
However visiting www.lazytown.com and reading about him (his real name is Magnus Scheving), he is quite a character. If you get a chance, take a look, and if you have small children, find it on cable and watch it with them. My daughter and I are both entertained watching it.

-Power on

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Side view (better pictures coming) Posted by Hello


Close-up Posted by Hello


The overall setup Posted by Hello

Stretch

Okay, second attempt at a blog. Welcome to my official web support group. Tired of being a pasty, overweight, flabby gamer, well so am I. I hope by working together both of us can become pasty, slim, well-toned gamers :)
I decided to start this page after a friend of mine, Bill Harris, posted my antics on his blog, dubiousquality.blogspot.com. He said there was some interest in how I had set things up and people wanted to see some pictures.
Unfortunately work is !#@$ this week so it will have to be the weekend before I can give a full breakdown...but here are some pictures to get you started. This weekend I promise to give some additional information on how to build it, how it works, and even where I'm at in using it.
I figure I'll use this blog as a sounding board for you and I. When I got this idea myself I went looking on the web figuring other people had gone here before. I found nothing, so I'm posting my ideas. Got a great setup for exercising and gaming yourself? Send it to me, I'll post it.
So for tonight, behold, the evil-genius 2050 :)