Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Watt's up?

Not my hydro bill!

Remember my "Killing Watts" post from October 1st? The one where I ranted about our $414.49 hydro bill and our planned efforts to reduce it for the next billing?

That next billing was today and our bill for the last two months is $213.13.

It's kinda hard to believe that changing all of our bulbs to CF bulbs made that much of a difference, so I'd like to think that it was mainly through the efforts of my family being more vigilant about the lights and electronics that they may leave on. Whatever the reasons, they all added up and made a difference.

As I mentioned then, I will be sharing some of the savings with my kids as well.  I decided that they would share in any savings below $250. The point was to make them realize that whenever they leave a light on or the TV on, they'd be cutting into their profits. I'll round it off to an even $20 each. :)

With winter approaching, it'll be interesting to see if we can do it again for the next two months.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Shape

I'm sort of... round. :)

I've never been a big fan of working out. I don't particularly enjoy exercise unless its a byproduct of something fun. Cycling, for example, I do enjoy, although last summer I didn't do very much of that at all and I'm not sure why.

You would think that being on medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol and being about 70lbs overweight would be enough to make me wake up. You would think that years ago when my doctor compared my health situation to a house that would fall apart in 5 or 6 years, it would wake me up.

You would think.

And it did, for about 2 years. My doctor was somewhat of a hard-ass, no bullshit kind of doctor. Some hated him. I hated him, at first, but then realized that he's just telling me like it is. I didn't want to hear the speech every 3 months when I saw him, so I did something about it. I lost 45 pounds back then, down to 240lbs. Then I had to switch doctors, for reasons beyond my control.

I put most of the weight back on.

On the plus side, I did quit smoking almost 2 years ago, but the weight remained between 260 and 270lbs.

This past fall, I had the opportunity to try something very cool: Xbox Kinect.

When the official release date arrived, we picked up a few games for it, one of which was Your Shape Fitness Evolved.

Perhaps my head isn't screwed on the right way, but the thought of earning Xbox achievements in exchange for burning calories appealed to me.

Yeh, you'd think that perhaps living a longer life would be more appealing.

Anyway, for whatever reason, this "game" has woken me up.

The first day I tried it, the "beginner" workout that it created for me after my assessment kicked my ass. I actually pulled my calf muscle. I had to put my workouts on hold for a few days to let my calf heal.

When I resumed, I tried morning workouts on a weekend and found that I didn't have the same energy as I did after work, so after work ended up being my chosen workout time of day. Since then, with the exception of a few days, I've been doing my beginner workout and the odd "gym game" or "cardio boxing" session on a daily basis. I try to burn at least 100 calories each time, which works out to somewhere between a 20 to 30 minute workout. It's not much, but it's 100 calories more than I was burning before, and I'm sure it's building muscle.

It really didn't take long before the workouts didn't make me feel like I was run over by a truck. I seem to be adjusting to them quickly, and that's a major plus for me.

In that time, I also bought a digital scale. Our old one was so inconsistent. I'm not 100% sure of what I weighed at the start, but if I estimate my starting weight at around 267lbs, I have now lost 3.8lbs since. That's 3.8lbs in under a month. And, I haven't made any significant changes to my eating habits -- yet.

I've never been to a health club or anything like that, so I can't really compare them with "Your Shape", but to me it does feel like I'm at one and I have my own virtual trainer who motivates me and tells me where and when I'm not keeping up with them, all in my own living room; and without feeling uncomfortable or awkward.

Another plus is seeing and tracking my progress in the game and on the Your Shape web site. Seeing really is believing. :) As of tonight, I have burned ~1400 calories in total and completed the beginner workout sessions.

This is a great start for me. The more I do it, the more I want to do it.

I highly recommend Kinect. If workouts aren't your thing, there are more game-like games available for it that are a lot of fun to play. My daughter really likes Dance Central, and Kinect Sports is my fav and can also give you quite a workout without even realizing it.

I'll keep posting the occasional update of my progress, so if you're interested keep checking back here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another me

I've been getting emails from a dating web site for the last few weeks. The emails said that people had viewed "my" profile on their web site. It was being flagged as spam by Hotmail. That's nothing new. I deleted them, as I do to all spam.

These seemed a little different.

As I've mentioned before, there are a number of people out on the internet who, for unknown reasons, think that my email address is their email address. It happens for Hotmail and Gmail. I get job offers from HR people, business emails, and forwarded humourous emails that people send to their friends.These aren't spam or phishing scams, these are legit emails. Sometimes I reply to them -- in particular the job offers or business emails -- letting them know they have the wrong person. Sometimes they reply back with apologies.

I began to wonder if these dating web site emails might be legit. Curiosity got the best of me today, and I visited the web site. Throwing caution to the wind, I clicked Forgot Password, entered "my" email address, and clicked Submit.

Minutes later, a message arrived in my Inbox with "my" login and password.

I logged in and there it was. Someone's profile with personal information that they added to the web site.

Now what?

I could have been malicious and changed their info or what they specified as the type of person they're looking for, but as much as it annoys me that people don't take care in entering their email address for things, I couldn't do that. And what would be the point? I'd be the one getting the emails anyway. ;)

Since they had a free account, I a delete account option and killed it. Goodbye me. I hope.

Was I wrong to close their account?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Double Rainbow!

White Westinghouse TA-5723 Answering Machine

Got one of these answering machines and lost the manual?

I do.

Earlier this week I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to check my messages remotely. I don't use that feature very often, but I really wanted it on that particular day. It turned out that the remote access code may have reset to the default and I wasn't aware of this.

Not that it would have done me much good. Even if I had gotten into the remote options, I couldn't remember what numbers to press to play the messages.

I scoured the web for information and all I could find was multiple "manual" web sites wanting me to sign up to get information, or posts from people looking for the manual. I couldn't even find a picture of the answering machine anywhere.

Later that evening I came across a quick-reference card that I made years ago. If you have one of these machines, this is for you! (Or for me in the future when I'm stuck again...)

Print this out and write your access code on it if you want. I think the default code is 19 -- that's what mine was set to until I changed it.



The configuration of the machine isn't too difficult with a little trial and error. Just remember that to access the secondary function of some buttons, you need to be press and hold it for a few seconds.

Maybe one day I'll write out detailed information and post it here. In the meantime, if you need to know anything else, post a comment here and I'll do my best to help you out.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ottawa Zombie Walk 2010

Earlier this morning, a friend posted on his Facebook that today was the Ottawa Zombie Walk. It's an annual event where people all get zombified and walk to Parliament Hill in search of brains. I'm sure they leave hungry every time. ;)

Anyway, I checked out the route for this year and noticed that it went right past my sister's bridal shop on Beechwood Avenue. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to grab my camera gear and go zombie hunting.

I called her up and told her that zombies would be walking by at around 2:00-2:30, and said I would drop by to hang out and shoot some zombies.

I arrived at her store about 10 minues before 2:00pm, passing by a crowd of 30-40 zombies outside the Beechwood Cemetary en route.

A little after 2:00pm, they started their march and we stood outside her store watching the spectacle. It was great! Lots of creative zombies fumbled by. Some even posing. :)

One woman, heading the other way, commented as she passed, "What are these kids protesting now?!" My sister responded, "Nothing. They're just being zombies." The women replied, "Well they're good at that" and kept walking. :)

After the two large groups of zombies walked by, I packed up my gear and stood in my sister's shop and chatted. About 10-15 minutes later, more zombies came down the road. I got out my camera again and took some more shots. And again, 5-10 minutes later more arrived. I'm glad I stuck around because I got some pretty good shots of the stragglers.

Here are the pics, enjoy!