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So, I've started this new diet; I've opted to try to lose weight and overall be healthier on the Keto Diet. On this diet, my caloric intake comes mostly from Fats and Proteins (it is, by definition, a "high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate" diet), which means that I've effectively cut all sugar out of my diet. That doesn't mean I can't have sweet things, it just means that the sweetness can't come from sugar. Sucralose, Stevia, and Erythritol are all good alternatives to sugar, and to be honest my mood has noticeably improved over the 6 days so far that I've been doing Keto.

"Lose weight by eating more fats?" you might ask. Yes, that is effectively the gist. Normally people (in North America, at least) get the majority of their calories from processed and natural sugars. Your body priorities this as a source of calories because, well, it's easier than metabolizing fats. The intent, or 'theme', of the Keto diet is to starve your body of the Carbohydrates that it may be used to metabolizing, so much so that it looks at the fat content in your diet and says "OK, well I guess I'll take what I can get" and starts to break down fats for calories. When your body gets used to metabolizing fats and used to having a lack of carbohydrates, you will find it easier to wean down your calorie intake. This is because as you gradually ingest less fats your body looks at it's fat stores and says "hey, I can use that!", and so weight loss is achieved.

Effectively you're forcing your body into a starvation mode; NOT from lack of food or nutrients but through acclimatizing the body to burning fat for fuel and then burning the fuel that has been stored. It's kind of a biological hack, though many people switch to Keto diets on a permanent basis. I've even read that permanently switching to Keto has helped Type 2 Diabetics avoid having to medicate for insulin deficiency (which effectively "cures" Type 2 Diabetes). As a self-titled tinkerer and hacker, I think this is all very exciting and fascinating. I'm still learning a lot about the science behind it all and ways to keep true to the diet, so many of the terms in this post may, in fact, be incorrect. I apologize for any misinformation that this post may cause.

I've heard, both from online accounts and from fiends that have done the Keto diet, that fundamentally changing your metabolism like this causes your body to become satiated more easily (from the months of calorie intake from rich fats and proteins). So once you've made the transition it becomes easier to stay on target.


Now with all this being said, the transition is by no means an easy one and you have to keep exhaustive track of your nutrient intake throughout the day. The challenge becomes to both find the "macros" that your body requires, and then to adhere t them as closely as possible.

These "macros" are calorie intake from carbohydrates, from fats, and from proteins. Too much carbohyrate and you're out of ketosis, burning carbs and storing fats (gaining weight). Too many proteins and your body uses those for fuel and stores fats (gaining weight). Too little protein and you're losing muscle mass (getting weaker). Too many fats and your body burns what it needs to and stores the rest for later consumption (gaining weight).

The last one of these is harder to do, especially once you get to metabolizing fats, because you get satiated from fats to the point where you just don't feel like eating more. Protein intake, especially, is a fine line that's hard to keep track of. Your required protein intake depends on your lean body mass and your level of activity throughout the day.

This is my current diet challenge, with a target of losing ~45 lbs. Wish me luck!

I've always got one or two personal projects on the go. I used to write a lot more than I have been these days, but lately I've been planning a gaming tournament in a PC game that I play online a lot. I've had one of these tournaments before that was less popular than I anticipated, and I decided to give it one more shot. I've so far been extremely pleased with the interest from the community and it seems that this event will be busier than the last. I just hope that I can get through all of the contestants in time, you see I've dedicated 2 8-hour days to this but I'll be the only referee so matches will be one-after-the-other for those full 8 hours. It will be hectic, but I'll enjoy the rush of it all.

Beyond this I still pick up my Chapman Stick for a half-hour here and there (when I find the time and motivation to do so). I'm trying not to spend any money that I don't need to because I'm trying to save as much as I can for a few things that I want to do sooner rather than later. Engagement rings are expensive and I'm not making a large sum of money every paycheck. I do dedicate about an hour every week to looking for adequate compensation, to speed the attainment of these goals along. I never wanted to live my life according to how much money I made, but the simple fact is that things, namely the one's that I need and want, cost money. I can't wait five years to do any of this, too; I've never been all that patient.

And so, with the consistent march of time that my life seems bound to, I march forward as well. Ferris Beuller was only half right: life does move pretty fast, but if you stop to look around you'll be sure to miss it. No, the trick is to move at least as fast, or faster, than it does. If you can't keep ahead of it then it will surely fly by and leave you wondering what it was that just passed.

Well I'll start by saying that I'm sorry, both to myself and whoever reads this, that I haven't been keeping up with posting. Work has kept me swamped with programming goals lately. Requirements have changed (constantly) as well the the defined database structure (which is by far the largest task that I still have in front of me). The company still only has a vague idea of what they want in terms of deliverables and their behaviour, so I find myself inventing a lot of it as I go along. Some of the time I produce something that isn't what they want, and then I need to go back and re-write it all. To be fair though, I was warned that this would be the case in my interview for the position. I'm just letting the world know of the nature of my absence :-)

In other news I'm working at becoming a pillar of the community for an online game that I play. Player managed, hosted, and run events are essentially non-existent and I'm trying to change that by hosting such events. It is hard, as the game is played worldwide and I only live in one time zone, so attendance isn't always as good as it could be. Being a community manager (as a job) for something like this would actually be pretty cool, I think. Carving out a player-managed community from the game is fun, and challenging. I'm learning how to publicize events and organizations, which is challenging in an online gaming context.

The Winter conditions here in Calgary have raged on, and are only now beginning to subside. Most day's it is pretty manageable, but on the days when it's not I find myself trapped at home. Being trapped at home isn't all that bad as long as the internet connection stays consistent (which it has). It gives me more time to continue my quest for better compensation for my work as well, which feels like fishing from a dry lakebed. I send out applications and try to get in touch with companies, but my lack of success brings serious doubts about my worthiness in the working world. Self doubt leads to more self doubt, and this Ouroboros of self doubt eventually leads to depression (which, in case you were wondering, is NOT a good time). The feeling comes and goes like a tide though, it always has, and I'll come out on the other side of it soon enough.

In summary, I AM still alive and well. I'm sorry that I haven't made the time to keep this blog updated but there really isn't anything exciting going on in my life right now. Watching an episode of Seinfeld would keep you more entertained than this blog. Life marches on, but at variable speeds so I'm not sure when the next installment of this blog will be. Until it does happen, however, I bid you adieu for now.

The new job has been going great. I'm learning a ton of new things (both programming languages and technologies) a lot of which are on the cutting edge of new. The Cypher database language and it's application in the neo4j database structure is the highlight of all of this (as I have always loved database systems and working with them. neo4j is cool because of its flexibility (which is both a convenience and a headache, as data structures in our graph database are used for multiple contexts, which makes parsing them more... interesting.

It's a challenge that I love and it keeps me engaged throughout the day. I anticipate that t will for a while though, as the requirements and use-cases of this software are constantly in flux. The most complicated component I helped write in this software is being extended to include new data points and the corresponding data structure is being expended to include entirely new contexts. It's the good, the bad, and the ugly of working on an Agile project, where expected outputs change on a semi-daily basis. The completed product is something we have a rough idea of what it looks like, and are constantly getting new feedback and suggestions from the industry whom we intend on selling this to.

Building a changeling is fun, though. I'm always working with new stuff, and as such I'm learning new and interesting ways to use React.js and Node.js and all of the middleware we have employed between the two. I feel like a Forest Gump-eque chocolatier; I'm making a box of chocolates and I never know what I'm going to get.

That's all that's new from me. Life marches on, and I'm still here. I'll try to post more soon (time allowing).

I've recently been accepted on as a Junior Developer at a new startup company! I've gathered that I'll be programming in JavaScript and Cypher mainly, with maybe some Python thrown in there, as well as implementing UX and UI redesign plans. This all looks to be challenging and interesting work, and I'll have the chance to dive deeper into these programming languages to master their usage. The company is called PIR-a, and I'll be programming towards an application to be used for environmental surveys for the decommissioning of oil well sites throughout the province. At PIR-a our goal is to streamline this decomission process in order to more quickly make better use of the land in question. I'm finishing up my employment at the University of Calgary this week and next. I have had a wonderful experience working at the University and I'm sad to leave, but I am glad to be parting on good terms with everyone here and into a position where I can grow as a programmer.

In other news, my attentions have been diverted from side projects and sample code to focus on learning the machinery and application of JavaScript and Cypher. Most of my free time has been taken by this goal to better prepare for my new position. I want to be able to start going through the code base with some knowledge of what I'm looking at, and I'll be able to contribute more fully to the project with this language skill under my belt.

I have, however, seen the new Blade Runner film and I absolutely loved it. It wasn't the action-based superhero movie with explosions that we have all enjoyed over the past few years, but it was still very rich in the content that it delivered. It encompassed everything that I love about the Science Fiction novels that I read, and beautifully rendered a grim future that is all but unimaginable. The story is very centered in reality, and some of the issues portrayed in the film are not all that dissimilar from issues that we know and are growing today. The world and the mood of the original Blade Runner film was maintained quite well in this film, which is refreshing to see in a sequel made so long after its original. Not all movies achieve this sort of consistency (Blues Brothers 2000, for example). Blade Runner (the original) was based on a novel by Philip K. Dick (who happens to be my favorite author) and was the only film based on his work that he was alive to contribute to. I think that Dick would have approved of this sequel for it's mood matching that of the original work.

Apart from that I've started playing with ideas in my head about how to expand on a story that I'm currently writing. I'm just brainstorming at this stage; I wrote the story initially as part of a Fiction Writing class I took in my undergraduate degree and it was quite short, as small assignment stories tend to be. I'm looking to build a larger world for the story and I can then enrich the story and characters with that world as a framework. When I find the time though...