Vacation comes…

I’ve not had a proper get out of the office, get out of the town, and explore the world vacation in a ridiculously long time.

I am strongly looking forward to my out of office time at the end of the month. Been telling my external providers at work that I’ll be out of office, and my backup will be this one person, and so on and so forth.

I don’t get enough me time, and it’s part of the culture we have going on, I think. We’re expected to work until we keel over in the office, literally, and probably get written up for low performance while being wheeled out under a white sheet.

I intend to not think about that kind of stuff for a week, and that’s that. ๐Ÿ’™

Saturo Vs. Soylent, some thoughts.

As part of my weight loss journey, I had started off by picking up some Soylent at my local FredMeyer. The store had it on sale for $2 per bottle, and I had a digital coupon on top of that through Ibotta which brought it down to a super low price of less than a dollar per bottle, maximum of five bottles per discount.

I bought as many of those bottles as I could, racking up that discounted price through a refund via Ibotta until the price suddenly went up to $4 per bottle.

The Soylent was important for me, because I struggle daily with satiety. My brain doesn’t switch off the hunger signal nearly fast enough, which leads me to overeating because of poor impulse control, and thinking I’m just a little on the full side. I knew this, because I started calculating calorie loads on what I had been eating prior to the in-earnest weight loss attempt.

Calorie Count Screenshot from McDonalds.com’s nutrition calculator, showing a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a single Filet-O-Fish, and a Medium order of Fries.

This is actually an underestimated number, because the nutrition calculator at McDonald’s’ website doesn’t have the Double Filet-O-Fish as a selection. I surmise the second fish patty adds another 240 calories, because I certainly kept the second slice of cheese, and asked for extra tartar sauce.

That was what I called lunch frequently, because marginally unenlightened me kept thinking, “Oh hey, I’m getting a great deal where I can get two sandwiches for super, super cheap!” The drink, a diet Coke or Diet Dr Pepper, of course โ€” I can’t have the sugar because it rushes to my head and makes me feel pretty crappy, fairly swiftly.

It’s a thought process I haven’t needed since I made it out of that homeless shelter over a decade ago โ€” thinking that I absolutely must buy the most calorie-laden food choices in case I can’t afford a meal at a later point in the day. It’s a difficult mindset to break, and it’s helped me push on the pounds, along with not exercising enough.

The Soylent was helping me with managing hunger by tripping that satiety flag that other foods just weren’t doing. I’ve later learned that foods higher in fiber do help me with that, but I don’t see myself eating broccoli for breakfast every day just to not want to chew my arm off.

In the first few weeks, because I had replaced a daily meal with Soylent and was painfully conscious of what I was shoveling into my maw, combined with me starting my gym visits, I dropped an astounding fifteen pounds.

I’ve had a minor rebound on weight gain after that, because of a few reasons: I ran out of the cheap Soylent and started fighting with the poor impulse control for food again. Combined with getting frustrated, I was sabotaging my own weight loss by stress eating again. I had to make it one of my goals for my weight loss group to find something that was comparable to Soylent, so I can get back on that positive, downward trend.

Local searches hadn’t turned up much, and even Amazon searches weren’t the most promising at the time.

In mid-April, while sitting on my lunch break at work, I decided to check the Amazon app, because I had nothing better to do (I could’ve gone for a walk, says hindsight), and I saw a new product prominently advertised on the front page, called Saturo, presented because of my recent searches for Soylent.

“The heck is a Saturo?” I asked as I tapped on it, and started reading.

It ended up being the kind of product I was looking for โ€” a full, balanced meal replacement in a bottle that I could keep a few of in my desk at work. At $16 for eight bottles โ€” two bucks a meal, it certainly seemed promising.

As is my wont, I bought the eight pack of Chocolate so I could give it a shot, and it arrived promptly on the next day. I ended up consuming it quickly โ€” the chocolate taste isn’t unpleasant, but it leans more toward a dark chocolate flavor than a milk chocolate flavor. Combined with the mild amount of sugar (8 grams, or about two teaspoons for visually inclined folks), it helps to like less sweet things.

I’ve also tried the vanilla Saturo, and honestly, I prefer the chocolate one over the vanilla, as the vanilla flavor is too mild and unassuming, lost underneath the oat and soy overtones.

Saturo’s container is smaller than Soylent’s by three fluid ounces (or 84 mL for the metrically inclined), and has 70 fewer calories. At this time when doing the math on how much per meal is being spent, Saturo is still thoughtfully priced. Without any discounts or coupons, Saturo is 5.1ยข per fluid ounce less expensive than Soylent when purchased on Amazon. On a bottle for bottle basis (not mL for mL), Soylent costs 162% of what I’d spend for Saturo.

Top number: Soylent, Chocolate, 12 pack.
Bottom number: Saturo, Chocolate, 8 pack.

My use case also makes the 330 calorie bottles more appealing, as I get the satiety I need with fewer calories. I can save those 70 calories shaved off that bottle for other foods, like a treat, a slightly larger portion of something tasty during the day, or as a minor victory if I’m still close to my daily calorie target at the end of the day.

I also have a coupon code I am sharing with folks that want to try Saturo for 10% off. At checkout, simply enter SATUROTEN as a coupon. It is currently limited to one use per account and expires 13 June 2019.

Exercise with Fatbutt.

Bit of a personal joke, of course. I’m fat, I know it, and in the past couple of months, I’ve been tackling that issue in earnest.

In February, I joined a support group paid for by my insurance through work that’s been helping me. In March, I started going to the gym. April saw the return of better weather, so I’m trying to get five miles of cycling a day in at least a couple times a week.

I also picked up a Fitbit in February, to try to keep myself more accountable with regard to my exercise and food intake, and it actually kind of opened my eyes to what I was doing, once I started logging every little bite I took, and refusing food that I couldn’t figure out how to log. Here I was, thinking I was eating relatively okay, and finding out that even without calorie laden sodas, I was sucking in 3600+ calories in a given day, and wasn’t even walking or exercising all that much.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing when you find the truth behind the fork (or the sandwich in the box). This is what I learned on day 1, when I started logging my calories in Fitbit, and needing to know what was in what before I bought it. That day alone, I cut my caloric intake sharply.

The gym membership in March came with me wanting to earn the HSA money that work offers for completing certain goals, and I wasn’t getting there fast enough.

Knowing that getting healthier is being incentivised monetarily is, honestly, my biggest motivator. I like knowing that I can get nearly $200 toward my healthcare expenses every quarter, and being able to hit that goal is pretty nice. And yes, I did hit the first quarter goal through real effort, and have knocked off ten pounds that haven’t come back on rebound.

The support group I started in, I wasn’t interested in it at first, because I thought it was hokey, cheesy crap that was probably going to fat-shame me after two weeks. But, after being there for a few sessions, I’m happy to say I’m wrong about that thought. I still fat-shame myself from time to time, but then I think back to what I told my fitness coach at Anytime Fitness when she asked me about why I joined:

Exercise and weight loss are cheaper than healthcare here in America. I want to get back to a point where I don’t need a $700/month prescription just to stay healthy. I’m lucky right now to be still able to get around on my own two legs, but if I don’t at least try now to lose weight, I am going to die as a fat man, and I’m going to die early. I ain’t ready to go yet.

Jayel

I remember this, and I make myself go. I make myself do. I make myself be.


Losing weight by yourself is anything but easy. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. But, losing weight is not something that has to be a lonely battle, fought behind house doors with loneliness, desperation, and a knife and fork in hands.

I’m guilty of stress eating, of poor dietary choices, of being very sedentary and I guess today, I’m calling myself out on it right on my own blog that isn’t read by anyone. But it’s at least out there on the wires, where maybe someone will come by, and keep me accountable in addition to the support group. Or maybe someone will read this, and think to themselves that this was that last push they needed to get off the couch and go, do, be.

I’m Jayel, and this is my weight loss journey. As of this morning, 20 April 2019, I was at 282.8 lbs (128.28 kg), down from 295 lbs (133.8 kg) when I started this.

I’m using step goals to work on this. I started with 10 pounds as my target. As I hit the target, next target’s a little farther out at 12 pounds. I’m aiming for reasonable amounts of weight loss per week (a pound), and so far, so good, minus the upswing during birthday week at the top of the month.

To do: buy greens to dehydrate for smoothies.

Good night, Ancheer.

So, in March of 2018, I had posted that I bought an Ancheer folding electric mountain bike.

I bought it so that I could cycle more, get to places easier without requiring the use of a bus, but still potentially have the backup option of loading onto a bus should weather or health necessitate said choice.

And ride that bike I did. I would sometimes just go out for 12 mile rides with no rhyme or reason, just a strange need to be in the moment, making the pedals spin. I was able to enjoy cycling again, because I could go much further, much longer, and be in far, far less pain overall. It was exercise that I didn’t dread, and I had fun taking those Saturday trips into downtown for sushi, then going nuts along the river trails and through neighborhoods.

Turning heads when I ride was actually kind of nice. Hey!, someone would shout from a vehicle or at a crosswalk. Is that one of those electric bikes? And I’d turn and reply that it was. People loved it, because here’s a big person, cruising along on a bike that you could see they’re putting pedaling effort into, but not looking winded, and cruising along at up to 20 miles per hour.

I like to think that older folks, upon seeing this, feel more inspired to go out and spend some cash on an electric bicycle, whether they build it themselves, or pick up a pre-fabricated machine. With the number of folks I’ve passed this summer and fall, riding their own electric cycles, I think it is true. Seeing someone do it daily gets them to think, Well, sheesh. If that person can do it, then I can do it.

I noticed somewhere in late Summer, maybe early Fall, there was a crease in my frame in a spot that didn’t make sense. The frame was seemingly cheap and weak, prone to damage, even with careful riding. I didn’t replace the bike then, because other than that weird crease, it seemed I could at least probably get to the end of the year, maybe even to tax season where I could consider replacing it with a better performing e-bike, or even converting another bike.

I had even thrown money at someone to build a new battery for it recently as the existing battery started to just hold less and less of a charge.

Well, with less than two weeks left in the year, my bike decided to give up the ghost. On my short ride to work today, I heard an unusual pop, and felt the bike geometry shift.

It’s a folding bicycle… that was now in danger of folding while I’m trying to bike to work. The hinge latch had popped, unsecuring the bike’s hinge while I’m cycling up a bridge that I cross every day. The front wheel is now about an inch to the left of where it should be.

I can’t use my front brakes at this point, lest the front of the bike slow down quicker than the rear of the bike, forcing it to fold rapidly and toss me off.

I switched immediately to twist throttle mode, so I could at least limp it the rest of the way to work, with judicious application of only the rear brake and short bursts of throttle — pedaling would likely cause enough lateral motion that the broken clamp situation would have only been exacerbated.

With the last half mile covered, I did at least make it to work on time, but it tells me this bike is at its end. Safety-wise, I would not trust the bicycle for anything beyond harvesting its parts and building a new e-bike or e-scooter up from that, and even this might be questionable as I need to have a look at the various components.

In the interim, this leaves me without my daily machine to get around. I do have my previous bike, which I never did sell. This is a moment in which I’m glad I had NOT done so, because I can at least use it to get around, albeit at a much reduced rate.

Also, with having been under the weather really bad in the past couple of weeks and missing work, it’s really not in a happy place of my budget to just buy a new machine. ๐Ÿ˜

I’ll figure stuff out, though, I guess.

Settling in with the new host.

I’ve had a few weeks now to get settled in with my new host, BigFoot Servers. I picked up a reseller account, mostly because it gets me the split between self-managing (like a VPS), and having someone I can go to when stuff just isn’t working the way I think it should.

Getting set up was pretty easy, though I did need to learn about how to use WHM. Once I got that sorted out, I’ve been able to migrate both this domain (hi from the new host!) and one of my other domains over.

This weekend, I’ll likely work on the biggest one, because I’ll need to get email sorted out for that domain, and email has historically been a big mess for it. There’s no real ‘clean-up’ for it, but there’s a lot to watch for to ensure I’m not missing out on anything important.

Once it’s all settled in, then webmail for the domains and importing years of old email would be next. If that works out as expected, I’ll be that much closer to being free of Google’s grasp, as I can then ditch Gmail, like I’ve wanted to for YEARS.

Friday night, and new things.

It’s Friday evening as I sit here, accompanied by five small glasses of beer from a local brewery.

I’ve never done a beer flight before tonight, but it’s actually a pretty nice experience.

Tried five different beers, liked three of them enough to finish the sample glass; fourth one is okay, and the fifth one is truly not one I like.

Specifically: Ninkasi Brewing’s Helles Belles, Yours Truly, and Vanilla Oatis were all delicious. I didn’t care for the Pacific Rain at all, and the one in the middle is named for the neighborhood that the tasting house is in, and part of the Whiteaker Series. I am fairly certain it’s #3, Sage Wit.

I might have to make this stop more often, but I really would like a beverage buddy to do this with.

Also, alcohol sets in fairly quickly. Whoops.

Purge and Flow.

With my needing to move from my old web host to a new one, I find myself restarting my entire weblog once more.

I’m not too surprised — I sort of jumped the gun with the domain name re-point, and didn’t really export my old blog posts in a format that’s easy to import. … at first.

A little database pokery, and I’ve managed to get my old posts out of the old install, and into this one. I just need to go grab the old ePubs, attach them to the relevant entries, and find a theme that doesn’t make me want to dig my eyeballs out. ๐Ÿ™‚

The search for hosting continues…

I’m looking into a new hosting provider.

With a grateful hat tip to Surpass Hosting for putting up with me for the last decade, it’s time for me to look for new territory to hang out.
A secondary hat tip to the folks over at Scaleway is due, as well.
Both teams of folks are outstanding in their own ways, but my needs have changed.

Wherever I go, I’ll need the following:

  • A monthly bill of $10 or less.
    • ย This one’s non-negotiable. I’m wanting to consolidate my web hosting solutions into one host. I’m currently paying about $8 each month.
  • ย 50 GB of storage.
    • Gotta have storage space for my email, because I’m ready to tell Google to Go Ogle the brown eye somewhere else. It doesn’t have to all be in the same machine — hell, separation of machines would be nice, really.
  • SSH access.
    • There are just some things I find easier to do via SSH, like download and install things. Occasionally, a torrent would be seeded. It also ties into…
  • Permission to run programs like ZNC and Deluge.
    • Not every host allows users to run persistently connected applications like an IRC bouncer or torrent client. While I really only sort-of need-want this, I have a couple of places I hang out on IRC where this is the easiest solution.
  • ย Payment processor in the USA preferred.
    • Note: Preferred. It’s easier to pay someone in the USA than it is out of the country — I have to put money on a Bluebird card to pay Scaleway, because it’s a right pain in the ass to pay them otherwise thanks to most banks in the USA.

This pushes me into VPS land, but it makes things tricky.

I really like DigitalOcean as a company, but their pricing is higher than what I’m willing to pay for what I’d get.
While I can get 50 GB of storage and a monthly bill within my willingness to pay, I’d only get one vCPU if I didn’t spin up two separate machines with 25 GB of storage each. I’d still have two machines with a single core.

Linode and Vultr offers are much the same as DO, but:

I could spin the smallest Vultr instance with 1 CPU, 20 GB of storage, and half a terabyte of monthly bandwidth for $2.50.
This would be sufficient for hosting mail. A separate similar machine for my IRC bouncer would be nice, but it’s that last bit for hosting that leave me a bit shy — I’ve been putting off spinning up my own Mastodon instance, and I wouldn’t want to do it on a single core machine, which would be all that’s left in the budget if I went to Vultr.

I’ve been perusing Low End Box for suggestions.

BigFootServers seems appealing up front, though their VPS cannot run Docker.
At $49 (4 cores) or $99 (8 cores) for a year, though, the price feels like a steal.
After being screwed by CloudAtCost, though, I’m wary of a deal that seems this good — I could spin four or eight separate instances with the plan design they offer, which for the 8-core machine would let me do a single core IRC box, a dual core mail box, and the rest of the cores could go to web hosting and Mastodon. I’m just afraid that I’d get settled in, and when the year is up, the renewal cost of the plan would be three times that.

HyperExpert could also work, in theory: I could have two machines, which means Masto would have to live with the rest of the web stuff separate from email. I haven’t finished reading their ToS, though, because that’s important: I need to know that I’m not going to have trouble because I have adult furry artwork posted.

UMaxHosting also seems interesting, particularly with the yearly prices posted up, but my earlier worries are still present: How temporary is this low price that would entice me to pay for two machines, even if it gets me KVM instead of OpenVZ (which seems to cause issues with Docker)?

And that’s just the tip of the reading iceberg that’s had me stuck for a week while I try to find what I’m willing to risk.
I just want a replacement host that I’d be happy with for five or ten years, is all I’m asking for.

It just feels really difficult to pick now, and whatever decision I make affects this blog.

 

Augh.

‘Jayelatitude’, or ‘The Scraptop Rises’.

Wow, two posts, this close together! I must be on a roll.

So, a few months back, I was at our local electronics recycling shop, and saw this pile of old laptops. All of them were $15.00 each, missing hard drives, batteries, and power adapters. By old, I do mean about a decade old — late Dell Latitude D and early Dell Latitude E series machines, several HP laptops, and a few other brands mixed all in to the pile.

Since I did that stint of supporting Dell machines back in 2007-2013 (of which I’d like to tell a few stories about sometime), I figure that hey, I can pick up one of the early E-series Latitudes, as I can source parts, and probably pick up a Dell-specific Windows 7 install disc if I decided to go that route.

$15.00 lighter and several pounds heavier, I have a cherry red Latitude E6500 in my bag to work on. I’ve since bought a platter based hard drive, power adapter, and battery, so all in all, I’ve spent about $55.00 on this machine.

It took me a little to pick out an operating system I think I could tolerate, and with that, I installed MX Linux at the suggestion of a fellow Mastodonian.

Why MX? No systemd.

I’m considering picking up a low cost solid state drive – something that’s 32 GB would be perfectly fine for this machine, because it’s really only intended for when I want to go out somewhere and work on writing a little bit. I took it out one Sunday to go write at a place over breakfast, but never did complete that mission, simply because the restaurant was so packed that I didn’t want to be that jerkbag that sat at a table for 45 minutes, pecking away at a keyboard when someone wanted to sit their group of three down.

It should, thankfully, get me back overall into writing, by giving me something I could do this while out, though. I had hopes for my Chuwi Hi10 Pro to be that machine, but those fell flat with how shoddy both the keyboard and the tablet both were. It’d have been lighter in weight and easier to port around, but those advantages mean nothing when the hardware lacks reliability and easy access for repairs — issues my Latitude laptop doesn’t have.

I’ve affectionately named itย Jayelatitude, after a portmanteau of my first and middle names, and the line of laptop.

Maybe I’ll post a photo of it someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

The loss of Project Wonderful.

Hey folks.

A quick bite before I get to sleep here.

I got this email early today from Project Wonderful, an ad service that’s been running for more than a decade, detailing that they are preparing to shut down.

In the past, when I was heavier into blogging and really trying to maintain an online presence, I fell in love with their service. The way bidding on ad slots worked was a beautiful thing. It had a delicate balance allowing for smaller folks like myself to have a number of places to advertise, while allowing the bigger fish who had more disposable income to bid on some of the high end traffic.

I could run a small ad campaign one week to get a few new readers, and it would cost me little to nothing. In exchange, I also offered an ad space, to let folks have that same opportunity to get the word out about perhaps their small webcomic, or a book they’re writing, or a tiny, handcrafted items shop that sells on eBay needed a chance to get in front of more eyes — all were welcome in the eyes of Project Wonderful’s ad boxes.

I’m rather saddened, even though I no longer run an ad box on any of my domains, but I can certainly understand why. In the age of advertisement filtration systems, it is hard for folks to get those eye minutes. Some folk don’t even know how to configure exceptions, so Project Wonderful, who already had the smaller viewership, was likely seeing further dwindling of that. Add on sites with mobile themes that may not show the ads, and the increase of using cellphones and tablets for day to day tasks, and it just takes away potential revenue sources, along with new viewers to random edges and corners of the internet.

I know that whenever I installed an ad blocker, I would go check the rules to make sure that Project Wonderful was not being filtered out, because the ads didn’t make me want to beat someone with their arms — heck, I’ve discovered a few new things with their ads. I’m actually kind of certain that I discovered Buy Me a Coffee through a PW ad, now that I’m thinking about it… ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyhow, I’ve taken the time to toss up one or two last ad campaigns on Project Wonderful before they fully shut down the ad servers in July; a bit of a last hurrah of sorts. If you’re here because an ad told you it’s high time to Lick the Blue Things, welcome along. ๐Ÿ™‚