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Experiences with E-texts

I haven’t completely updated my reading list, but I put aside Conan Doyle in favor of A.E. van Vogt’s The Voyage of the Space Beagle. I “checked it out” via the Greater Phoenix Digital Library. I read quite a few etexts for someone without a portable reader. A List Apart had an article on web standards for ebooks which covered many of the formatting problems that occur. Since I’m in the habit of chronicling things, I figured I’d include my impression of the etexts I’ve been reading lately.

The short stories that I’ve read online (online defined as “on a web page”) have all been HTML documents. (This is in comparison to the sort of streaming page-at-time that big publishers sometimes use for “free” ebooks.) Apex Books has had the least formatting bells and whistles, but the text was happily easy to read. Clarksworld offers slightly more formatting, using wingdings for separators, and Tor adds illustrations, but all three use the usual double space return instead of paragraph indents. I also read a short story from a Realms of Fantasy PDF. While the format of the magazine was preserved, there were artifacts of (what I’m guessing to be) non-transferred images. These didn’t interfere with the text of what I read.

Which brings me to The Voyage of the Space Beagle. It is an Adobe PDF eBook produced by Rosetta Books which is read through Adobe Digital Editions instead of Adobe Reader. The formatting is okay, though the lack of paragraph indents bothers me more in this case. Maybe it’s the font. The biggest problem are the typographical errors, such as paragraph breaks in the middle of sentences and errant punctuation. The first few chapters were pretty clean, but from about page 50+, there are more and more instances. Since I’m reading this for free through the library, I can’t complain. But if I were paying $3.99 (Kindle edition) – $8.54 (Sony eReader edition), I’d be put off by the quality. Yes, all the words to the story are there (I hope), but crummy formatting errors do a disservice to the text. Plus, no one would put up with this in a print book.

It’s interesting to note that the etexts I read that are for sale (Realms of Fantasy and the Rosetta book) were the poorer quality*. There’s an argument about how people are no longer willing to pay the real price of something. This is confused with the price that people value something at. If people do not value your product at the price that it costs to make that product plus profit, you have a problem. (That’s a basic economic principle, yes?)  Well, considering the quality of this product in this case (an electronic file of a decent novel riddled with formatting errors), I don’t value it beyond free.

*I believe I obtained the issue of Realms of Fantasy legally through a give-a-way though it is currently only available for sale.


Since Sunday I’ve been suffering from congestion, the occasionally earache, and general tiredness. My antihistamine has taken the teeth out of my itchy allergy symptoms, but I can’t decide whether the rest is allergies or a low-grade cold. My mucus says, allergies. Mucus wouldn’t lie, would it?

Played disc Monday (played fairly well) and, while I didn’t strain my back during play, I seemed to afterward. Luckily(?), we didn’t play Wednesday. A walk to the Circle K (a block away) was excruciating. Today, it’s feeling better and I will venture a walk/run up to the mall. I’m out of hazelnut coffee and something must be done.

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Mostly about diets…

Why Dreams Mean Less Than We Think – TIME

Lose weight by eating less calories! Correct, but it’s not quite *that* simple…

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Toast with brain jam.

Three days into NaNoWriMo.  I’ve done 2500+ words all three days.  This is a lot for me, but it’s a pace that will give me room for things like league finals and the Thanksgiving holiday.  If I can keep it up.  So far, writing with this sort of abandon is as fun, exhilarating, scary and stressful as I remember it being.  Eric hasn’t read yet.  I’m keeping to his outline, but my interpretation of events might differ from his concept of them.  I almost want to have him wait to read until the end.  It will be a mess of a book, filled with mistakes.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

For the month of November, my written journal has become a sketch/doodle journal.  If I ever have a spare moment, maybe I’ll scan some of my better (though still terrible) sketches.

In addition to keeping my 2500 word pace, I’ve taken in my Halloween decorations, shopped for post-Halloween goddies, and set up the VOTS Halloween gallery. I’m there, if you know what to look for. Tomorrow, I need to get bills paid in addition to 2500 words and going to disc. That’ll be interesting. I thought about doing the checkbook tonight, but my brain is toast.

After feeling pretty good for a couple weeks, my knee hurt like hell today. Many of my joints haven’t been happy today. It might be the increase in sitting and typing, or it might be the weather. We’re finally getting some cooler weather. Last Thursday we set a record high of 94.  I did go for a run today despite the knee.  It’s felt no worse since and felt good during.

In regards to the election, I am again amazed by just how much people care about politics. The problems and policies of this country are bigger than one man. That said, I’ve voted though I wasn’t happy about my choices.

What riles my passions more than politics (aside from why Beowulf should never again be made into a movie)? The continuing debate between static and dynamic stretching:
Stretching – The Truth –

Controversy remains about the extent to which dynamic warm-ups prevent injury. But studies have been increasingly clear that static stretching alone before exercise does little or nothing to help.

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The other day, I linked an article that went on vaguely about weight loss and exercise and…well, it seemed like a muddled mess to me. Normal for most science reporting. Luckily, SportsGeezer had a link to the LA Times which covered the same bit with more clarity. But I still have a problem.

Their headline is: Exercise: It’s an hour a day, people. Seriously.
But it’s not. Not all exercise is the same. They do realize this, don’t they? Not even every person is the same. They give some stats:

About a quarter of the women who managed to sustain a 10% weight loss exercised more, adhered to better eating habits and engaged more often by phone with the intervention team. For them, exercise amounted to an average of expending 1,835 calories a week, or 275 minutes per week.

(That’s about 40 minutes a day, by the way. Not an hour.)  And concluded:

“This clarifies the amount of physical activity that should be targeted for achieving and sustaining this magnitude of weight loss, but also demonstrates the difficulty of sustaining this level of physical activity,”

And I call bullshit.  I ran my own numbers. Anecdotal, yes. And I am a girl doing math, so feel free to check me.

I’ve been sustaining a 15 pound weight loss (from 135 to 120) which was about 10% of my weight. My FitDay records, which are approximations, say that over the past six months I’ve burned an average of 1890 calories a day. (I take in about 1850 calories.) I get exercise primarily from playing ultimate frisbee and running. I’ve spent 72 hours or 4320 minutes in the last six months (or 26 weeks) on these activities. My math says that I’ve spent 166.15 min/week doing these exercises. Or around 24 minutes a day. ‘Course, ultimate and running are pretty vigorous. Well, at least when most people do them. I’m pretty freakin’ slow.

This isn’t to say that getting *that* much exercise is easy. I’ve been having trouble getting that much in lately. I’m glad someone isn’t telling me that I need to double it. And that’s what bugs me about these sorts of articles. They generalize and can be pretty disheartening to someone who’s struggling to figure it all out. Sure, if you’re going to schlep on a treadmill at 4 mph, it’s going to take much longer to burn the calories you need to burn. Come out and play ultimate instead.

Edit:  I spend most of my time at my computers.  Or writing.  Or reading.  I am very still when I do these things, so I generally consider my lifestyle to be otherwise very sedentary. But I do walk places. Eric and I go for walks often. These things absolutely play into how many calories I burn, but I don’t account for them. They’re not exercise. They’re life.

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Meredith Corporation Mediaroom – News Releases:

What Women Do to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle*

 Drink more water (80%)
 Eat more fruits and vegetables (70%)
 Read nutritional labels (49%)
 Avoid foods that are high in fat (47%)
 Make a conscious effort to lower calorie intake (44%)
 Watch my sugar intake (44%)
 Exercise at least three times a week (43%)

Found this via Starling Fitness and I have to agree that it’s a shame that women are only willing to do the easy things. Too bad research has debunked the health values of drinking all that water.

Another tidbit from the research:

Top 10 Health Concerns (across all generations)

1. Diet/weight control (56%)
2. Eating well/nutrition (36%)
3. Allergies (27%)
4. Aging process (26%)
5. Mental health (25%)
6. Arthritis (24%)
7. Cancer (23%)
8. Cardiovascular/heart health (20%)
9. Diabetes (18%)
10. Menopause (18%)

Is it really such a mystery that many problems with #1 can be solved with #2? I mean, really, is the outlook so warped that these ended up as two categories in this survey? I boggle.

Wonder if a similar survey has been done for men, and whether they’re more sensible.

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Morning Reading: Not quite as brain dead today… Articles: What is a Species?:

Perhaps it is the Latin that gives species names the whiff of absolute certainty and that has misled the public into thinking the rules were simple.

If you accept that science is never certain or simple, you have a better time of it. You also realize that’s the beauty of it. But it seemingly does make science issues a bitch to handle in terms of the law. Overall, a good article.

BBC NEWS | Health | Alcohol ‘cuts risk of arthritis’:

“It’s too early to say what these findings may mean,

But the news agency will make up a headline indicating that it’s already fact.  (Pet Peeve #309)

Resveratrol found effective in small doses | Think Gene:

the researchers found that low doses of resveratrol mimic the effects of what is known as caloric restriction

Noted here for the simple fact that the ASU kid might be interested, but I’ll probably forget to tell him.

Personal Best – Real Thought for Food for Long Workouts –

“Most athletes will have at least 24 hours to recover,” Dr. Jeukendrup said. “We really are talking about a group of extremely elite sports people who train twice a day.

Or ultimate frisbee players at a tournament. Eric’s already read this one and commented on it to me, but I figured I bore a reading and a posting anyway.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall…

I got to thinking about body image the other day.  While standing in front of the mirror, of course, and contemplating my…shape.  Was I a little thicker around the middle these day?  It *looked* that way.  But perception is unreliable.  The scale told me I hadn’t gained any weight, and my clothes are fitting no differently.  Most likely, my body shape hadn’t changed any in the past few months.  Why was I suddenly so discontent with what I saw in the mirror?  And then I came to a realization: I was discontent because that’s the normal reaction for me looking in a mirror.

I was a skinny little kid, but looking at my family, you could tell what shape I’d end up with.  I remember my mom dieting occasionally when I was a kid, but it really left no impression on me beyond how gross a lunch of saltines and cottage cheese was.  I had no body image at this point.  I didn’t even bother categorizing fat and thin.

Puberty wasn’t kind to me.  Around the time my metabolism slowed with my increased hormones, I also discovered I loved to read.  I spent less time outside doing active stuff, more time inside reading, and I gained a bit of weight. What I saw in the mirror was the same as the rest of my family.  I had become fat along with the rest of them.  It was displeasing, but seemingly inevitable.

College was more of the same.  As I strove to eat a low fat diet, I kept gaining weight.  It seemed obvious: no matter how unhappy I was with how I looked, this was how I was.  I liked food, and if it came down to food or being pleased with what’s in the mirror, food would win every time.

Post-college, I started getting smart and educated about how my body works, what it needs, and how I could actually change what’s going on.  I lost weight.  Started seeing muscle definition, and the occasional knob of bone.  And I’m pretty proud of maintaining my weight for well over a year now.  For a while, the changed body I was seeing in the mirror was pleasing.  Until it lost its specialness.  It was no longer my new body, it was my normal body.  For 14 years (puberty through college), my normal body image was displeasing to me, and that had led to the perception my normal body is  the fat one I’ve always had. 

That’s a somewhat disheartening thing to realize: I could weight 90 lbs and still default to that way of thinking about myself.  There is power in the realization though.   I’m otherwise happy with my lifestyle.  Clothes fit, my body works (well enough), and I am generally happy with what I can eat.  I just have to tell my perceptions to shove off.

Speaking of, it’s time for lunch.