Kyle's Fitness 2021

December 31, 2021 6:53 pm

This past year I decided I wanted to be a bit healthier than I had been. Back in the before-times I would at least walk from the parking lot and up 2 flights of stairs to my office a couple of times a day, but with the pandemic and now only being on site one day a week I was not getting even a token amount of exercise.

I had bought Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch sometime in 2020 when I found it in stock, but had only been playing it sporadically. So I engaged in a plan to try to do Ring Fit Adventure every work-day with a goal of losing about 1 pound a month over the course of the year.

I coupled this with slightly modifying my food intake. Simple things like not refilling my cereal bowl at breakfast. Having a lunch of half a sandwich (meaning, a slice of sandwich bread cut in half, not, like, a 6-inch sandwich from Subway) with yogurt, fruit, and/or cashews. And generally eating until I wasn't hungry instead of eating until full.

I still ate plenty of desserts and treats and snacks. And I'd still eat my fill on occasion when a meal was something particularly good, but these small changes were enough to reverse the slow trend of weight gain to instead be a slow, but steady trend of weight loss.

Ring Fit has you do warm up stretches, exercising (which counts time when your muscles are engaged), and then cool down stretches. My goal was to log at least 10 minutes of timed exercising each time I played which, with stretches, usually took about 30 minutes.

I used Wii Fit to track my progress by doing a weekly body test:

Orange line is my goal of 157.0 pounds, BMI 22. "Normal" is describing the whole yellow section.

My goal was about a pound a month which would put me at 22 BMI. I technically hit my goal in early October, but you can see from the graph that was a bit of an anomaly. However, my progress has been steadily moving in the desired direction (ignoring the week-to-week noise).

You can see the unfortunate jump in the penultimate body test of the year which I'm sure was a result of no exercise that week while we were in Utah and two days of sitting in the van eating junk. But I'm back on track now.

Ring Fit, oddly, doesn't provide graphs (that I can find). Otherwise I'd show a graph of my daily exercise amounts or difficulty level progression or something. Instead I only have cumulative numbers which aren't entirely limited to 2021, but I didn't do very much in 2020.

The star indicates that I've completed all the levels once (i.e., I "beat the game."). I think I started at difficulty level 12 and worked my way up to 24. I exercised almost 56 hours total. That's certainly nothing compared to avid exercisers, but it was 56 more hours of exercise than I was going to get without playing Ring Fit.

I can tell that I've actually developed some muscle mass which means that my weight loss is somewhat masked by muscle gain. There's no great transformation story here. Just slow and steady progress with a small, but consistent, level of effort.

Ring Fit is engaging enough as a video game that I haven't gotten completely bored with it after a full year. It added just enough of a layer of story (such as it is) and common video-game mechanics on top of the Wii Fit concepts to be a nice push forward for the genre of exercise video games.

I'm hoping they release some DLC or a sequel or something to renew the interest level. I'm sure I'll eventually get bored with it even though the point is the exercise and not the game as a game. I'm pretty sure it's been worth the price in terms of improving my overall health regardless.

Christmas 2021

December 30, 2021 10:53 am

After returning from our impromptu trip to Utah we poured our remaining energy into getting ready for Christmas morning.

As evening fell we drank hot chocolate, ate cheese fondue, read stories, the girls danced while Jess sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas," they opened their presents for each other, and then we ushered them off to bed.

After several hours of wrapping presents and rearranging furniture the house was ready for Christmas morning and Jess and I were ready to catch a few hours of sleep in the meantime.

Christmas morning the girls, amazingly, were not up until ~6:45. And then the party began. I set up a video call with Mom and Mollie so they could join our festivities since Mom's house was rather quiet that morning.

And the following several days have been filled with recuperating, game playing, house cleaning, book reading, and wishing that vacation would last a little longer.

A Short Trip to Utah

10:41 am

After talking to Mom on Sat. Dec. 18 I floated the idea to Jess about us packing up the van and driving to Utah to visit with Erin and Dad for a few days while Erin's kids were with their father for the first part of winter break. Our friend Sarah agreed to take care of the kitties and we engaged a crash program for packing up. The girls had already gone to bed so we got up when they did at 6am the next morning and told them of our sudden plans. They were very excited, until they realized they would miss an art class and a gymnastics class, then they were upset, but we got through it.

So we ate breakfast, got dressed, and finished piling our stuff and ourselves into the van and pulled out of the driveway at about 8:00. We got around the corner and down the street when the tire-pressure monitoring alert came on. So I stopped and measured the tire pressure and found all four tires were about 8 PSI low. So, back to the house to run the air compressor and fill them up. THEN we were pulling out of the driveway again at about 8:30.

We drove and we drove and we drove. The girls watched Christmas specials on DVD in the back. Jess and I listened to podcasts in the front. And we drove some more. I-80 across the Sierra-Nevadas was clear as it hadn't had a storm in a couple of weeks, but one was coming and we knew we'd need to take the Las Vegas route to get home later in the week.

We drove through a McDonald's in Sparks, NV to grab some lunch and eat on the go. We stopped for a fresh tank of gas in Winnemucca, NV and, ugh, more McDonald's for dinner in Wendover (in which your choices are McDonald's or Burger King). Then we drove some more and arrived at Erin's house at ~8:30pm after 11 hours of traveling.


We hadn't told anyone we were coming, so we really wanted to arrive before it got late.

So we arrived Sunday night and stayed for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

The girls got to play in some leftover snow:

And we enjoyed a sunset:

We cooked some food, played some games, and helped out with tasks around the house.

We also made a trip down to Mapleton to visit with Christopher-and-Jenny's family for a few hours:

And on Thursday we loaded back up into the van and headed home. Donner Pass on I-80 was expected to get something like 30 inches of snow that day and night so we headed south through Las Vegas. A lunch at Culver's in St. George, a whole lot of rain, dinner from Panda Express and Wetzel's Pretzels in Barstow, a lot more rain, some patches of really dense fog, and about 16 hours later we were home. Exhausted, but home. It was after midnight so already Christmas Eve.

We had learned during lunch that Dad had fallen chasing Erin's dog (which had taken off with the bag of rolls I made) and cut his head open and so they were in urgent care waiting for stitches. Which was really just the cherry on top of the super crappy several weeks of life at Erin's house.

After getting some sleep we began the whirlwind process of getting ready for Christmas with grocery shopping, house cleaning, baking, cutting a lot of things from the "to do" list, and then a whole lot of wrapping.

New Camera!

December 18, 2021 1:59 pm

I've been saving up for a few years and waiting for Pentax to release a new flagship APS-C DSLR. I wanted to see what they came out with and decide whether to upgrade to it or decide to leave the Pentax brand for something else. This year they released the K-3 mark iii, which got reviews like "The last great DSLR?" (tom's guide) and "A Great Camera Nobody Will Want" [because it's a DSLR] (fstoppers).

I like the DSLR experience and much of the reviews discussed how enjoyable the K-3 iii is to use. So after months of waffling and thinking and waiting for a discount, I bought one in order to have it before Christmas. And it's an excellent camera. A major upgrade from my K-7 and a joy to use. The auto focus is fast and accurate, the low-light capability is magical, and the shutter click sound is very satisfying.

I'm very pleased to discover that the K-3 iii can operate my 35mm lens perfectly (Pentax DA 35mm f/2.4 SMC AL). It always had focusing issues on the K-7 and I wondered if the lens was defective. I attached it to the K-3 iii, though, and it's fantastic. I'm really glad I'll get to use this lens now. With a f/2.4 aperture and short focal length it's very good for in-the-house shooting with less-than-ideal lighting. This was a big reason I bought the lens, but its performance on the K-7 was very disappointing. It had very inconsistent focus issues and calibration didn't resolve it.

But enough chatter, let's see some images.

Here's a wide-open shot using the 35mm focused right on the door handle as desired:

And a comparison shot of Phoenix using the same lens on the K-7 (top) and K-3 iii (bottom):

K-7, 35mm f/2.4, 6400 ISO. Back-focused and noisy
K-3 iii, 35mm f/2.4, 8000 ISO. Perfectly focused and no noise.

Phoenix will not stay out of the tree, despite our best efforts:

The girls' school had a "Light up the Night" event on Friday which I used as an opportunity to test out the camera in real-life conditions:

I am quite pleased with its performance. Those shots were outside at night with very little lighting, but still crisp and usable.

COVID-19: Part 65

1:34 pm
  • Rancho Las Positas Elementary School known cases on site: 16
  • Livermore cases: 6,861; overall vaccination rate: 73.5%
  • Alameda County cases: 119,277; deaths: 1,475; overall vaccination rate: 78.3%
  • U.S. cases: 50,479,000+; deaths: 800,000+; overall vaccination rate: 61.3%

*Note that the vaccination rate data has changed from "eligible" to "overall". Alameda County was no longer giving me a top-level "eligible vaccination rate" percentage (they data is broken down by age group instead), so I couldn't easily pull the same data.


Omicron is the new thing. The new variant spreading across the globe. SARS-CoV-2|Ο was first detected in South Africa on Nov 24 and became a variant of concern due to the large number of mutations affecting the spike protein (which is what the current vaccines target). It also appeared to be significantly more contagious than prior strains and was rapidly detected throughout the world.

What any of that means, epidemiologically, is still to be determined. It's only been detected for 3 weeks and is spreading widely, but we know that earlier strains had multi-week lag times from infection, to hospitalization, to death. So the world is still waiting for clear data on overall severity compared to other strains. The faster spread, however, is well established and it appears to be handily out-competing the delta strain.

According to the current Wikipedia article on the variant, data suggests the reproduction number is 2.4 times greater than delta, placing it somewhere from 10-18 which puts it on par with measles.

Jess got a booster shot on Thursday 12/2 and that afternoon the girls both got their second doses. Which was a much more difficult experience than the first one--they both went into full on feral freak-out mode. Like animals caught in a trap: eyes darting around wildly, muscles tensed, adrenaline pumping. I eventually managed to get Heather focused on math (which helps tremendously to keep her grounded). After repeated unsuccessful attempts to engage Corinne's prefrontal cortex we had to just pin her down and get it done. It was less than fun for everyone.

Jess had side effects which knocked her out for a couple of days. The girls felt lousy and had fevers on Friday and Saturday, but were fine by Sunday.

Alameda County has continued to require masks in all indoor public spaces. And California instated a statewide mask requirement for all indoor public settings until Jan 15. Of course, there will probably be no enforcement, so I don't expect it will change anything.

My work status hasn't changed. Still only required to be on site one day a week, but not uncommon to be there more frequently to complete necessary tasks. I'm off through the end of the year now via vacation and holiday time.

My favorite news quote for past few months is this blurb from NPR which reads like the intro to a medical/sci-fi thriller:

South African officials raised the alarm about the heavily mutated variant, B.1.1.529, on Nov. 24. Two days later, the WHO classified it as a variant of concern and dubbed it omicron.