Fitness Specter 2

If you’d have told me that Fitness Specter was going to be my most popular column, I would have told you that was awesome.  However, I would not have guessed that.  So, why not get into the column, right?  FITNESS!

FitSpecter300Are you eating clean?  Think about your last three meals.  How many of them involved something other than homemade meals or mostly vegetables?  If you answered “none,” congratulations.  If you have a number attached to that answer, you need to eat clean.  Go on, eat clean and come back… this column isn’t going anywhere.

I will continue to hammer on this point.  Get rid of over processed foods: enriched anything, white flours and sugars, anything that has more ingredients than label actually should, or anything that is considered “mass produced.”  Get rid of high fructose corn syrup.  STOP EATING TERRIBLE FOOD.  If half your plate isn’t vegetables, preferably green vegetables, then you aren’t eating correctly.

Am I really going to talk about food in a second straight column?  No… but you’re going to see this subject a lot because that is the sole foundation of the whole fitness effort.  Eat better.

Now that I’ve established the foundation, again, it’s time to start small.  Get up and walk.  Go for a walk around the block.  Not tired?  Walk a mile.  Still not tired?  Walk five miles.  What I’m saying is you need to walk.  Do you want to run?  Great, go for a run.  Run for a while, though, don’t just run for half a block and stop there.  Just like walking, build up until you’re doing about 3 miles, if you’re going to do it.  You need build up from somewhere and you might as well start doing that now because if you are eating right, the next step is small steps.

Don’t go into a gym and try to lift 600 lbs in a bench press right out of the gate.  Get into a healthy routine and start small.  I recommend walking but I would say that you should get to running once you need to walk a long ways to get your routine out of being a routine.  The body gets lazy into a routine so you want to keep things fresh.

We will get into muscle confusion in later Fitness Specters, right now, we are establishing a foundation.

Why are you still reading?  Get off your ass and start walking, fool!  Run!  Bike!  Get active.  Get up and do something.  Okay, keep reading before you do that.

We spend so much time staring at computer screens, looking at Facebook, watching YouTube, talking to people…through messengers.  We don’t get out and DO anything anymore.  We need to get active.  We need to walk.  We need to run.  We need to lift weights.  We need to get healthy!  Get active!

If we don’t, when the aliens invade, it’ll be easy pickens’ because we’ll all be too fat and lazy to fight back.  What about zombies instead of aliens?  Does that inspire you more?

Don’t you want to be able to outrun that bear that just saw you?  Yeah… run.

Get up and MOVE!

Footie Specter 2 – Replacing World Football Already

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I actually flubbed the “World Football 1″ post by posting it rather than scheduling it.  I would have avoided having to change the name already when I came up with the spectacular name change idea.  So, let’s just go ahead and forget about that and get into the Footie Specter column already, shall we?

FootieSpecter300In the last column, I mentioned all kinds of teams that I follow around the world.  I thought I’d step back a little bit and explain my experience with the most popular sport in the world and explain where I’m coming from without getting too specific on current events.

Yes, this was scheduled.  :P

When I was in my “pre-teens,” I played soccer.  I was a player for three whole years and gave up playing when the format wildly changed in the place that I came from.  That’s a long winded way of saying that Beulah Soccer (in Beulah, ND) used to be just a self contained league on it’s own, then branched out into a larger “multi-city” competition and that led me to drift away from the sport.

I will say, though, that if I’d have known I could go pro as a soccer player, I would have kept playing!

In my first year, I was a member of the “gold team,” as there were about six or seven teams that formed of a specific age range team.  I was number 33, which becomes important in a little bit, and I have learned that I was chosen as a defensive minded player because I was a little aggressive on offense.  Later now in life, I haven’t had the fitness level to play offense, although I haven’t played in a really long time.  This first year the gold team went undefeated.  We were awesome.

The second year I played, I was again chosen for the gold team and I was number 34.  See?  Progression!  Yes, 33 was already taken.  This second year, we weren’t as good as the year before.  We were pretty good on the field but I clearly remember lots of times I was working harder than the strikers on the field.  We did not win the season, I don’t remember how badly we failed.

The final year was the first year we did some traveling.  The exposure to outside cities, and not being able to go to over half the away games, really put a damper on my love for playing.  I also didn’t see a future playing this game because as an American, I wasn’t exposed to the concept of “professional soccer,” which was really only overseas at this point.  This year I was clad in “red,” on the Beulah Red team as number 35.  I had progressed in number, again, and not being clad in gold (of which Beulah no longer had an option for, I came to learn) was a bit of a heart breaker.  The Beulah Red team lost more often than we won and I can tell you that I don’t remember how many games we played overall, but we only won three times.

In 1992, I was keen to observe the news about the formation of the “Premier League,” of which I was introduced to Manchester United.  I did a little research and discovered there WAS professional soccer!  Hold the phone… why didn’t anyone tell me about this before?  What did I immediately go out and do?  I played me some more soccer.

I was terrible.  Like, I was “I just discovered how to play the game” vs “I’ve been playing since I was 11″ terrible.  I’ve gotten a little better but I don’t play on a regular basis and at my current age, I’d have a hell of a time going pro.  That’s beside the point.  I discovered that pro soccer was no longer an option for me because I’d quit and tried to come back.  Live and learn.

I didn’t stop WATCHING, though.  I maybe saw three whole games that first 92-93 season.  I probably only caught another ten games between 93 and 97, most of which were broadcast while we were overseas (I was in the Navy).  The “drought” really hit hard when all I had was MLS to watch, which I was initially excited about and chose DC United to be my team, starting in 1993, but really only started searching out the games in the middle 2000s.  I did see a handful of DC United games but by the time I really got to enjoy them, they started to suck.

During a free preview on our satellite provider for some foreign league in 2008 or 2009, I discovered I have a love for other clubs than Manchester United.  Celtic, for instance, I started following right around there and I’ve been a supporter ever since.  I have seen every World Cup since it was in the US and every time it comes around I am there wanting to see great football.

Yes, I’m going to start saying football because I’m not “a dumb American fan.”

While I enjoy the World Cup, I much more enjoy club level competition.  I’d rather watch Manchester United, DC United (soon Portland Timbers), Celtic, or the Shamrock Rovers than Brasil, Switzerland, or Germany national teams.

I guess that might just be me but with any luck, you’ll start getting into the sport if you aren’t already watching.

There’s my background.  I hope I didn’t bore you to tears.  I’ll get a little more “normal” with Footie Specter 3, folks.

Ingress Intel 3

If you’ve noticed a pattern, I’ve stopped subtitling as much as I used to.  That makes finding something specific you’ve read a little harder to find, but it allows me to write a little more freely.  If you really hate it, let me know.  Otherwise, let’s get to this…

Ingress300There is so much going on in the world of Ingress right now, I can’t even wrap my head around all of it.  I’ve met with a Niantic employee, I’ve hacked a virus, and now I’m trying to figure out if there is a news stream or video series about Ingress I should be following a little more closely than I currently do.

That means I’m not really following anything all that closely.

As Niantic is a Google property, that means that Google Plus is really the first place to start.  With some new decisions made in life recently, I’m spending 50% more time in Google Plus than I used to, which means I’ve cut the amount of time I’m spending on Facebook.  The move has many reasons but for the purposes of this column, I’ll concentrate on one of the biggest factors in the decision: ease of following Ingress posts.

I like to see passcodes come out, I like to see updates on the latest event going on, and I like to see little tips and tricks that help making play the game a little easier.  I like to see the updates and what is coming down the pipe, too… and the best place for that is Google Plus.

Some people deride Google Plus as the social network for Google employees.  Keep on thinking that because that means those of us who realize the place is way better than Facebook can keep having the place all to ourselves.  At least Google is upfront and honest about using our information for making money, whereas Facebook is trying to hide the fact and slowly roll out what they wanted to do in the first place.

The way posts are displayed makes for better viewing, too.  I could use a little improvement on the iOS display in the app but I am overall satisfied with the experience, I think.  I say that to point out that finding the Ingress posts that much easier!  I can see three or four columns of information at once and key in on the pictures that I know relate to Ingress.

In order to play the game, you need to have a Google ID… that means you have a Google Plus profile.  That also means you have other stuff but if you have the Google Plus profile, why not check the place out?  Sure, you’re used to Facebook’s setup but were you used to MySpace when Facebook popped on the scene?  Hmmm?  Think about that for a moment.

People don’t like change, but if you want the best and most up to date information for Ingress, Google Plus is really the place to be.  Come on over and check the place out.

Ingress on it.

Life Imitates Wrestling 6 – The End?

Are you reading that right?  Is there a potential that Life Imitates Wrestling is coming to an end?  Yes… you ARE reading that right and with any luck, you’ll be able to jump in and help decide if that is something that I should actually consider or if you want this little ditty to keep on trucking.  Let’s get to the reasons, the thoughts, and the life that imitates wrestling.

lifeimitateswrestling_300How many times have you heard about a professional wrestler calling it quits?  How many times have you bumbled into a story in wrestling where the company is on it’s last leg?  How many times have you watched about the company’s sale to someone and the potential for closing?

I don’t know.  I’m not you.

When I started this column, I had a lot to say.  What I’ve started to notice, writing everything down and putting that out into the world, I don’t have as much to say as I thought.  I’ve already strayed WAY away from the format I was originally going to use because some things have just flowed better the way I’m currently writing them.  Is that a good sign?  Some might think yes but then again, everything else I had planned kind of gets shoved into the trash.

I used to watch loads of professional wrestling.  Ask my wife, she’d tell you that I watched way too much professional wrestling and because that her experience with me was at the height of the Monday Night Wars, you might understand that I was watching every minute of wrestling that was on TV.

Then things changed.

I watch every so often, missing weeks and weeks of story only to pop back in and find that things are either completely different than the last time I watched or the story has moved past what I was interested in and has gone in a completely different direction.

I honestly can’t say that I’ve seen the same person as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion more than twice in a row as I’ve been watching in my current pattern.  That should tell you how often I watch.

Knowing that now, I have a real hard time relating anything to modern day wrestling.  I can look around and see a snapshot of professional wrestling in every day life and in my coworkers, friends, and random people on the street.  Everything I can see may end up being twisted into something I’ve seen before and I would normally relate that to you in this column, twisted to protect the “innocent.”

I’m not sure I want to continue doing that… at least as often.

So, I put this out to the readers, of which I have a larger following than I thought I would.  Do I continue?  Do I release less often and continue with longer columns?  Do I post smaller bits as often as I am?  What exactly are you looking for in Life Imitates Wrestling?

Let me know at emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com, and give me your thoughts.

Think on it.

Storytelling Specter 1

I’m getting more and more out of my time, now… and since I always meet with my writing club on Mondays (at least where I currently live), I’ve decided to write myself a new little column that I’ll put out on Mondays.  Welcome to Storytelling Specter.

StorytellingSpecter300The first and most important thing for anyone who wants to write anything to do is the most simple thing you can do: actually write.  Don’t talk about writing, write.  Don’t just think about writing, write.  Don’t wonder what to write about, just write something.  Write.  Write.  Writed.

If you aren’t putting your fingers on your keyboard… if you aren’t putting a pencil to paper… if you aren’t thinking about what to write, then you aren’t actually doing anything.  Sure, you need to have a plan but it’s better to write something, anything, than to write absolutely nothing.

A piece of advice a new writer often hears is “write what you know.”  If you don’t know what else to write, sure, write what you know.  If you’re stumped or are having a bad day and you just can’t think of something to write about, look up and write what you see.  No, really, just write about the people in the room.  Write about what they are doing, write about what you think they might be thinking.  Invent a reason for them to be there and you have something to write about.  At least you’ll be writing.

Part of what I want to do on my website is write fiction.  Science fiction, literary fiction, serial fiction… all kinds of stuff.  I want to write and I want to put it out, I want to produce it, and I want to make my vision for entertainment something others can experience.  I’ll eventually want to sell my work, that will be an eventual future goal, but I will be honing my craft putting stuff out there for everyone to read.

I don’t just want you to read it, either… I want critiques.  Constructive criticism, praise, concerns, and whatever you want to give me but it has to help me improve.  “You suck” isn’t a critique, so keep the ideas moving forward.  I won’t engage anyone without having something interesting to say.

I’ll be including tips, prompts, and ideas for you to use that I know I never will… because I’d rather that someone else use an idea that I have to create something great than for me to be sitting on the idea and never see it bloom into anything worth anyone’s time.  I’ve always said that if I wanted something done the way I want it I need to do it myself.  Sometimes, I take prompts from other places.  That means that I’ll be helping others do what they want by providing a little nudge in the write direction.

Yes, pun, I know.

Sit down.  Write something.  You want to create a world.  What about that character dying to breathe?  Where do you want to go?

Write it.

A Review of Assassin’s Creed IV – Black Flag (The Movie)

ac4
As with before, these all come from YouTube and a wonderful movie maker of video game movies… I will be checking out more of them, too, I think.

This is the latest in the Assassin’s Creed series, this one felt odd without having Desmond around to help tell the other part of the story, but by now, you should be getting used to the idea that there is something else going on that will lead us to an eventual end to this story… I still miss Desmond, though.

Unlike the other installments, this one felt only loosely related to anything from before in the Assassin’s Creed series as it concentrates exclusively on Edward Kenway at real life pirates like Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and so on.  There was so much concentration on the pirate activity, in my opinion, any connection to the assassins and the Templars was more of less a sidebar of a tale.  That was a little disappointing, but the visuals were great.

Being a former Naval man, I did enjoy the ship stuff but I can easily see how tedious watching every ounce of the Naval combat would have been if the whole scene would have been shown.

I did enjoy the Edward Kenway story but I would have more so enjoyed a story about an assassin finding something from the first civilization, like in previous installments.

I give this one a four out of five, but that’s more to do with the obscure sideways connection to the rest of the series rather than the direct story tie in.  It WAS good, though.

Coming Together Now

Things are starting to come together now… yes, I think so.

I’ve introduced you all to the new site, the new domain name, the new logo… I’ve introduced you all to Life Imitates Wrestling, Ingress Intel, and now Fitness Specter.  I do my little movie reviews, well, reviews of all kinds video, and I’m looking at doing book reviews.  There is still more coming, yes, yes there is.

While I enjoy writing columns, I’ll also be adding in a little bit of fiction now and then.  In fact, I’m planning to release some serial fiction on the site and that will come around the same time I do something else I’ve been talking about: starting up my live audio show.  Well, podcast, but we can call these things anything we want when they’re live, right?

What will the audio show entail?  There will be “talk radio” style shows, there will be fully produced audio dramatizations (full readings of my work by me, but if others want to join in, I’ll gladly accept the help).  Another thing I’d like to do is have regular “bits,” segments of other shows that really just become the entire show… so, while it’ll be sporadic at first, I’m guessing these bits will turn into some fan favorites and I’ll end up doing them more often.

That’s another thing I need to mention… I want to do the show more than once a week.  I’d love to do it five days a week but I’ll start small and work my way up.  Does that sound fair?

The Greatest Show is still around, too, it just live on YouTube only now… go there to watch it.  The channel is Emerald Specter, not Lime Flavored.

How about me relaunching WAFFLE?  Yes, that’s coming.  That place holder on the left side of the screen is there not only to tease but also to remind me to get things moving.  I want to do them right, fuller, and hopefully draw others in… which is why Fitness Specter was started, so keep an eye on that.  WAFFLE may have a lot to do with Fitness Specter.

Is there more?  You bet!  I’d like to do all kinds of things and part of that is getting into good habits.  Habits like working out on a regular basis, putting out content on a regular basis, and making sure that I’m making quality strides towards what I want to do instead of just talking about what I want to do.  That’s lip service and I’m not paying that anymore.

Interested?  I hope so… because things will just keep getting better… and they’ll REALLY get better when I move!

Think on it.

Ingress Intel 2: Hacking A Virus

The world around you isn’t what you see.  If you have the proper equipment, you can see the real world.  That is the world of Ingress.

The title of this particular Intel Report is a little telling.  Tonight, I hacked my first virus… ever.  Like, I actually hacked a portal and got my very own virus.  Some of you who don’t play the game and are reading this may wonder if I’ve lost my mind, loving the idea of a virus, but those who play the game know what I’m talking about.  The particular virus was a JARVIS Shard.

I’ve been playing the game for almost a year… well, I’ve only really been putting a lot of effort into the game since it came out on iOS, but I’ve been playing via an Android tablet for almost a year.  Without my own data connection, the tablet was always tethered to my wife’s hotspot, but all in all, I was still having a decent time.  There are plenty of things that I’m happy about otherwise, and hacking a virus is one of them!  Now I’ve had a capsule AND a virus.  I’m so special.

That’s all for this edition, but I’ll let you know that I’m trying to get more regular with my columns… all of them, including the new ones.  This one is no different, because it’s also fairly new.  Hell, they’re all new, really… but this one is the one that will bring in the traffic that play the game.

Won’t you play with me?

World Football 1

This was posted… should have been scheduled.  Ooops.  It’s only 3 days early.

Sure, I let the first “World Football” just be a generic post… but now I get to make them into a column.  Why not, right?  Better graphics will eventually come, of course, but this one will do for now.

By the time you read this post, the Barclay’s Premier League “early” games will have already completed.  That means that Manchester United hosting Swansea City will have already ended with what I’m predicting to be a 3-0 result.  Manchester United is my team, yes, but I don’t think that Swansea City has what it takes to hold MU down.

For the season as a whole, I’m thinking that the top five will be Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea,   Liverpool, and Manchester City.  Is that a safe bet?  Sure… but those aren’t in the particular order I think they’ll finish.  I won’t put them in a particular order, yet, but I do want to talk a little bit about the season as a whole.

Last season was tough for Manchester United fans.  We “sucked it up” a bit on the pitch and I can’t say that I was entirely surprised by the whole scenario.  I wasn’t all that confident we’d do well without Sir Alex and I was proven right.  Part of the problem was that no matter was Moyes did, he would not be able to do enough.  NEVER follow THE guy, because you’ll never live up to expectations.

Now, Moyes was worse than I expected he’d be and I’m glad he got the boot already.  We shall see if  van Gaal can do any better.  I sort of shut down in the middle of last season and I’m just starting to wake back up so I can’t say as I know much about van Gaal, but I’ll be interested to catch whatever matches I can catch.  I won’t, however, be watching Manchester United at 6 in the morning… mainly because I’d have nowhere to watch it.

In the end, I follow many teams in many leagues… because if I’m going to be stuck somewhere and there is soccer on, at least I can root for someone.  I like Celtic, Barcelona, River Plate, Dortmund, DC United (and soon Portland Timbers)… there are more but I don’t want to list every team because I honestly don’t know if I could.  In the end, if Manchester United is playing, I’m watching them.

Here’s hoping to a winning season!

Fitness Specter 1

Welcome to the inaugural column for Fitness Specter, my very own fitness blog/column.  This is where I’ll talk to you about how to pump up, get fit, and you can come along on my journey to become the best that I can be.  That means I’m going to be passing along what I learn as I learn it… interested?  Let’s go.

The first and most important thing to know is: nutrition is king.  If you aren’t eating right, very little of what you do will get you fit.  Eating right is paramount to doing anything in the right direction of getting fit.  The best way to eat healthy is to follow NDnuTricias food blog.  Click the name to go there, she’s got a lot of great recipes and all of them are free of “crap contents” like high fructose corn syrup and over processed ingredients.

In fact, let’s use this as the first step for everything I’ll be talking about.  I’ll begin at the beginning of my very interesting journey.

My wife started walking in November of 2012.  I joined her with walking but we both started dieting, and I use that word in the “lifestyle change” sense, in March of 2013.  We started eating smaller portions, which was my major issue, removing highly processed ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, and increased our vegetable intake by a lot.  I have a personal rule, at the moment, of eating at least 50% of a vegetable at a meal.

This allowed my wife to lose 60+ pounds, with me losing 97 pounds.  Just walking and eating.  Think you can do at least that much?

Eating right has been the most important part of what I’ve done to be fit.  I eat other things, fast food and sit down restaurant places, and always choose the healthiest option.  There are times when I just want a greasy burger, or some fries, but for the most part, I’m on the straight and narrow.

I changed my lifestyle, eating and working out, because I woke up one morning and literally uttered the words “I’m tired of being fat.”  If you can wake up and decide you want to do something to change the way you’re living, this column will be a good place to start.  I’ll talk about working out in a great many columns but I needed to start out with the foundation of this whole thing: eating better.

Americans eat like shit.  That’s the most vulgar thing I’ll say in my column because it’s the honest truth.  We eat high volumes of high fructose corn syrup (it’s in everything: soda, butter, bread, ketchup, cookies, crackers, cereal, and more).  Don’t believe me?  Go to your cupboard right now and look at the ingredients of something you’ve never looked at before.  I’ll wager a guess that unless you’re already “eating clean,” at least half of your cupboard (or more than half) has high fructose corn syrup in it.  Why does bread need that crap?  No, really, why?

Start eating healthy.  Join me in fitness.