I finally finished painting another crop of miniatures. I think I started these back in ~August, but then didn't find a alignment of time and motivation to finish them until last weekend. AA battery for scale, the troll's leg is dark because it's in a shadow.
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:
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.
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):
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.
My birthday this year was also the penultimate day of school for the girls and a remote-learning day. I worked from my closet for the morning while the girls got their schoolwork done and took the afternoon off. After lunch we went for a short walk at Sycamore Grove mainly as an excuse to get out of the house. The weather was probably the coolest I've had for a birthday in over a decade with a high of about 65F.
Our Sycamore Grove "hikes" rarely make it further than the hollowed out tree about a half-mile along the trail. But it makes a good stopping point and fun pictures:
After our walk in the park it was time for the girls' art class. Jess dropped them off and I sat on the couch and read a book while the house was quiet.
Once the girls were home from art class I opened presents!
With presents opened it was time to figure out dinner. I drove out to the Cheesecake Factory to pick up food--the spicy chicken chipotle pasta is yummy.
And, of course, after dinner was cake!
Bonus picture of Heather with her eyes crossed:
After work on Friday we went to Boomers! and played miniature golf to celebrate my birthday and the end of school.
Yesterday, Saturday, we went over to some friends' house and played a board game. With vaccinations going into effect and infection rates dropping life is starting to go back to normal.
Corinne and I got 2 pandemic birthdays, but it looks like Heather and Jess will only have one. Alameda County moved to the yellow tier this week and California is still planning to lift most remaining state-imposed restrictions this week on the 15th (there will still be some restrictions on mass gatherings). Messaging has been unclear and I'm not sure if Alameda County will retain any restrictions beyond the state's or not.
I've been working on painting this figure from the "Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion" game a little at a time for several weeks now. The figure is 1.5 inches tall, so the detail work is pretty tough. This took about 13 hours worth of time. It looks somewhat less impressive in blown-up, high-detail photographs; so just zoom out and imagine it being quite small so the errors in detail are less noticeable.
Overall I'm happy with how it came out.
There are 4 characters in the game, so three more to go. This may be the most detailed one, but I painted it first because it's the character I'm playing.