Saturday, 28 February 2015

Vale Leonard Nimoy

Part of growing older is watching your heroes and idols wink out of existence one after the other, and my day today began with the news that Leonard Nimoy is gone too. The character of Spock that he co-created has had an enormous impact on my life, and I am deeply saddened at the loss.

His passing brings forcefully to mind his fictional death as Spock at the finale of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan all those years ago. In today's information- and spoiler-rich world, it's hard to explain what a shock that was in 1982.

The first I even knew that there was a new Star Trek film coming was a couple of weeks from its Australian release, when the cinema pages of the Courier Mail suddenly started carrying advertisements with a daily countdown. The ads showed the film poster with a caption like "It is now 10 days till Stardate 8130.3"

When my Dad took me to see it at what was then the Valley Twin cinema, I had absolutely no idea what the movie was about or what was waiting for me at its end. (Later in the 80s, the Valley Twin was to become a porn cinema when that was still a thing. In the 90s or early 00s, it was a Cantonese cinema. Now it's The Globe).

This film told a very different Star Trek story! I was shocked at a Captain Kirk who had grown old and bitter (then reassured when a crisis brought him back to form). But that was nothing compared to the stunning realisation that there was no eleventh-hour reprieve for Spock putting himself in mortal danger to save the starship Enterprise. This was a moment for Blake's 7, not Star Trek! Right up to the funeral scene, I was still waiting for some quirk of Vulcan physiology or a miracle cure by Dr McCoy to reveal that Spock was all right after all. It didn't come. I remember my tears and my Dad's laconic reassurances that it's just a movie. He bought me the novelisation and the soundtrack cassette in the foyer and we went home.

Within a year or two, a schoolteacher would give my class an exercise to produce a short piece of reflective writing on the topic of "my friend" or perhaps "my best friend". In that rural hellhole, I didn't have anyone in my life I would have called a friend. So I wrote about Spock instead, how we had travelled together on the most incredible imaginary journeys and how his death had affected me. I was there! I was right there! I saw it happen right in front of my eyes! I was given a low grade with the comment that this should have been about a real friend. Even at that point in life, I had already learned it would have been futile to explain how I truly felt closer to an imaginary alien than to anyone in that room, so I didn't argue the point. imaginary alien whom Mr Nimoy brought to unforgettable life, and gave a young nerd in a bad place—and many many others like him all over the world—someone to believe in and look up to.

So although I never met him, I am missing him tonight.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Weight loss update 4

I've reached a new milestone today. I have now lost over 25 kg since 1 January; 25.8 kg actually, which puts me about half-way towards my goal:

And, for the first time, I'm staring down my shame and publishing the actual values here. On 1 January, I weighed 142.6 kg. Today, I weigh 116.8 kg. My target is 90 kg, at which point I'll work out what I want to do next based on how I feel about my appearance.

Weight loss has settled down to an average of 2.1 kg per week, consistent over the last 2 weeks and over the last 4 weeks. This lines up well with my rough prediction of 2.5 kg per week based on my daily intake, daily activity and my last-measured resting metabolic rate. Some of my readers will understand how happy it makes me that the experimental data is matching the prediction from the model so well.

I'm still using races against historical data to keep me focused and motivated. Every day or two I lovingly examine the graphs, turning them over in my mind. Here's me beating my previous journey down to 120 kg:

And now here's me racing against two previous campaigns to reach 110 kg:

(The different shapes of the graphs reflect weekly weighings in the past versus the daily weighings I do now.)

The 2011 data I'm racing here was part of a longer campaign and so doesn't include the rapid drop that the start of a campaign always includes. The 2012 data includes such a drop though, and beating that will be difficult in the first week of March.  

If I can maintain my current rate of loss, I will reach my 90 kg target at the end of May. Therefore, in April, I will need to firm up plans for the weight-maintenance project that will follow this weight-loss project at its successful conclusion.

For now, I am starting to think about what form of sport or physical recreation might appeal to me more than 3AM gym visits. Ideas so far include dance and renaissance fencing. If dance, then Latin (there seems to be many options in Brisbane) or flamenco interest me. I've also returned to the notion of cycling to work as an option for the cooler 6 months of the year. All this is still months away, but I'm keen to hear people's experiences with (or interest in) any of the things I've named, or other ideas I might not have yet considered.

Charts again by the Highcharts Cloud tool, which I love.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Weight loss update 3

I've reached a new milestone today. I have now lost 20 kg since 1 January:

Divisions represent 5-kg intervals.

I'll admit that I've found the last few weeks a bit discouraging and frustrating. Of course, the rate of weight loss has tapered off a bit. Knowing from experience to expect this has certainly helped cushion the disappointment though.

To help keep me motivated, I'm also tracking my progress against a past weight-loss campaign from September 2010. I've transposed my data from then onto a 2015 calendar so I can compare my efforts:

Intervals here represent 2.5 kg. The different shapes of the curves come from weekly weighings in 2010 compared to daily weighings today. The 2010 curve includes the lowest point I reached on that particular campaign. But in 2015, I plan to go far, far beyond there. When I do, I'll create a new "race" using data from a different campaign (and then try to beat it, both in absolute terms and in rate-of-loss).

Staying ahead of my past self certainly helps stay on track :)

Charts again by the Highcharts Cloud tool, which I love.