Part list/rationale

CPU: Intel i7-3930k

I need a really beefy processor so that I can handle streaming at a high quality (1080p@48fps) while being able to play without suffering a major loss in performance. Even though Ivybridge/Haswell are out now, the raw power I get from two additional cores is more beneficial to me than increased IPC from a newer CPU that only has 4 cores.

Cooler: Thermaltake Water Extreme 3.0

The H100i is a strong contender here for a cooler, but the Thermaltake 3.0 performs pretty much equally and doesn’t come with obnoxiously loud fans.

Motherboard – ASRock X79 Extreme9

There’s no great reason to go with this board over the comparable Extreme6. This one has excellent support for overclocking, which I plan to do a lot of, and a ton of available SATA ports.

Memory – G.Skill Sniper Gaming Series 32GB (4x8GB)

32 GB of RAM is huge overkill, but the LGA2011 platform supports quad-channel memory and throwing 4GB sticks into a $2,500 system seems kind of silly. But it’s really not, I honestly just wasted money on this part completely for no reason, heh.

SSD – Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB

Amazing SSD with an amazing controller using amazing NAND.

GPU – MSI GeForce GTX 780

Single card solutions are superior for streaming than crossfire or SLI set-ups, otherwise I would probably be running crossfired 7970’s. The 780 is superior to the Titan when you consider the price point, as the Titan barely outperforms it, they are built on the same GK110 chip, and the Titan is far more expensive ($1050 vs $650). These days the 780 Ti is also a strong contender in this category as well.

Case – NZXT Switch 810

The case is huge and gives you tons of space to work with, but I’m not sure if I’m big on the appearance anymore, and I think I’m past the part in my life where I want a huge, noisy case. The fans can all be turned down/off, but I think I’d rather a smaller case with silent fans for streaming.

PSU – SeaSonic 850W

What can I say? SeaSonic makes excellent power supplies and 850 watts is more than enough power for my system. It also gives me the option to SLI 780’s down the line, should I chose to do so.

Microphone – Blue Yeti

An amazing sounding microphone for a great price.

Headphones – Sennheiser HD598’s

The sound quality is great, but my main reason for going with this set of headphones is because of how comfortable they are. These are the only headphones I can wear for 14+ hours without them bothering me.

Headphone Amplifier – Fiio E10

Cheap, great quality. I don’t necessarily recommend everyone get an external DAC, but my motherboard doesn’t have onboard sound so I need a discrete DAC.

Let’s talk about the workouts!

I get a lot of questions in regards to “why” I work out. So let’s talk about that a little bit first.

So, classic Destiny humility aside, I consider myself to be a pretty well-adjusted person. I firmly believe in the “mind over matter” stuff, and that any individual can be self confident regardless of the situation. That being said, I’ve found that achieving certain things in life, no matter how much I think it won’t affect me, ends up shifting my perspective a little bit. Maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone, or maybe it affects different people in different ways, but I know it’s definitely caused me to approach different situations with a different mindset.

I make it a habit to go back and talk to my high school band teacher whenever I get the chance to. He’s a super cool guy and I love to help him out whenever I have the chance to with any tech-related questions he might have; recently the all-state auditions have been changed so that they have to be sent in electronically (over the internet) via video recordings as opposed to all of the old cassette tapes we used to use when I was in school, so I’ve been finding ways to help him out. Talking to people that you respect and talking to people that you hate when  you make a lot of money is very, very different. I don’t know if it’s because someone you previously had to look up to for validation is now someone you can now write off while having external validation (due to financial status) from society regardless of how they feel about you. Again, this is all completely baseless conjecture, I’m just telling you how I feel.

It’s also crazy to be walking around in the supermarket wearing my shitty carpet cleaner shoes along with a t-shirt and a scraggly beard while having people shooting you glances while you move up and down the aisles. Again, self-confidence and knowing you’re a smart and good person etc…etc…is all great and what not, but knowing that you could open your mouth and silence any dissent in a moment with a “I made $x,000 this month playing video games, who the fuck are you, bro?” Conceited? Sure. Childish? Definitely. But it’s undeniable that different properties that affect your status can also have an impact on your mind when you’re interacting with other people. Why should I care what someone in a restaurant says about me or what I’m wearing? If they were to pick their phone up and tweet to their friends, how many would see it, 15? 25? 50 at the most? What if I tweeted about them? How many would see it? There are at least 30,000 people on the internet who know who I am. Again, I don’t know why it works this way, I just know that, at least for me, it does. Again, call me an asshole, call me shallow…hell, a few years ago I probably would have called myself the same names.

I’m sure by now you kind of see where this fits into the working out. So let’s talk about the working outs!

So about 2 years ago, this is exactly what I would have said if you asked me about working out: “Why would I waste my time in a gym? I’d much rather practice my saxophone, or practice my Starcraft, or read a book, or take an online class. Literally anything I do with my time is better spent than wasting it ‘getting big.’ What’s the point? I don’t need to pick up shit and move it around, this is the 21st century, bro. And why should I care what someone thinks about how I look? Those are only shallow people that I don’t want to be involved with, anyway.”

There are a couple of different ways that I look at it. I’ll appeal to the self-esteem side of things, the sexual side of things, and the intellectual side of things.

In the same way that money works, I think there’s a fundamentally different way that you carry yourself around people knowing you’re a physically powerful person. That confidence can exude itself in every single interaction. Just knowing that you can pick up a table, lift a couch, throw a person, etc…It just changes, on some level, the degree of confidence you have around people that you interact with. I can’t really explain it, but if there are people that are actually strong to talk to, I’d suggest asking them about it. For me, personally, I feel like the feelings are similar to finally carrying a firearm. Knowing you have the capability to drawing a firearm and ending someone’s life in an instant completely changes the way you view every single situation. Not necessarily for the better, not necessarily for the worse…it’s just a different feeling. Suddenly stopping to pump your gas on a poorly lit road in the middle of the night doesn’t feel like such a potentially terrifying experience, because you know that you’re at least somewhat prepared for random shit that comes your way. I really wish I could explain this better, maybe I’ll spend a great deal of time thinking about this in the future so I can put it better into words. I think those that know what I’m talking about, know, though. Maybe someone on my subreddit will write up a better articulation of what I’m trying to say.

As for feeling and looking better, that part is obvious. People with well defined muscles who possess a certain amount of strength just tend to be more attractive people. To paraphrase Rippetoe from Starting Strength, any person could add a great deal of strength to themselves and always be happier for it. Whether or not anyone wants to admit it, being stronger is fun and enjoyable. I know that from my little bit of time in the gym, breaking PR’s and moving around big weight (for me, at least) is an enjoyable experience.

The intellectual justification for lifting is pretty weak, but the more that I’ve thought about it, the more it’s grown on me. This could just be a classic case of confirmation bias, of course, but I digress. After working out for a bit, you start to realize something – your body is capable of amazing things. You might not even realize it if you’ve never taken the time to pay attention to your body. But if you’ve ever seen a professional play basketball, football, hockey, or even professional gamers playing Starcraft or Counter Strike, you’ll realize that our brains are excelling at activities that didn’t even exist tens of thousands of years ago. Evolution has gifted all of us with the ability to grow strong muscles and craft powerful bodies. As soon as you begin to see results from working out and you realize that even your tiny, weak, fragile body is capable of growing, you start to realize how amazing the entire process is. Personally, I regret not taking weight lifting more seriously when I was in high school. It’s been tremendous fun so far and I don’t see myself ever wanting to stop now that I’ve started.

Okay! So now that that’s out of the way, how’s the progress?!

Let’s talk a bit about my workout history.

Originally, I wanted to start with a program called convict conditioning, but I didn’t know much at the time about weight lifting. The program seemed fine, and I read about a ton of different body-weight routines, but now I feel like they’re a complete waste of time. Body-weight routines seem fine if you want to exercise and get into some kind of general strength, but for actual strength training I feel like barbells are infinitely superior (due to your ability to accurately and predictably progressively load the weight on, which is very difficult to do with body-weight exercises) to body-weight training programs. After that I’d decided to start going to the gym. I lived at Erin’s at the time, however, and only had access to the local apartment gym. I could have signed up for a gym in the area, but I was never sure how long I’d be there and I didn’t want to waste the money. I made okay-ish progress there. I started dumbbell bench pressing around 20 lbs per hand and slowly worked my way up to 35 lbs per hand. On the lateral pull-downs I started with 50 lbs and worked my way up to 100 lbs, and did some dumbbell squats, starting at 20 lbs per dumbbell and working my way up to 40 lbs per dumbbell.

The progress on these exercises were crazy slow. The weight I started off at was already insanely low, but the progress was torturous. While I was doing okay in regards to the lifting part, eating was (and is) by far the most difficult part of weight training for me. I’m a small person, and I’ve always been small. I used to be one of those people who thought “Oh, I have a high metabolism!” In reality, though, I’ve just been starving myself every single day without ever realizing it. To go from eating about 1 meal a day to 3 full meals a day has been a very difficult process.

After I got home, I finally signed up to a real gym and started the Starting Strength program. As of today, I’ve done 13 workouts following that program. Initially the progress was stunted because I kept injuring my adductors, which slowed down my squats and deadlift progressions, but I think that that was mainly due to an imbalance in my squatting muscles (probably due to starting off with dumbbell squats). Regardless, I backed the weight off and slowly worked my way up over and over again and I’ve finally started making progress with squats and deadlifts. I’m also doing barbell rows, bench press and the overhead press. I track all of the workouts on my phone, and seeing the progress on the exercises has been absolutely addicting.

Earlier tonight I moved my first plates (doing deadlift) and I know I’m long overdue for videos/pictures, so here’s something at least –

I originally posted in chat looking to check form (I need to sit back more before I lift), but I’m still really excited about being able to pick this much weight up off the ground. If you would have asked me a year ago if I would ever in my life pick up 100 lbs from the floor, I probably would have said I’d never be able to do it. So to lift 135 lbs off of the floor 15 times (3×5) is a huge deal for me. I’ll post form check videos as all of my exercises move up to 135 (and hopefully 225 and maybe 315). I’ve wasted a ton of time early on (between the body-weight stuff, the dumbbell stuff and the poor eating habits), but I’ve gotten the hang of the dieting part and the lifting part a lot better recently. I’m super excited about the progress I’ve made so far, and I hope to continue doing it.

I’m not sure when I’ll post my next set of pictures. To be honest, I don’t think you can tell much of a difference at the moment between now and before. At the very latest, I’ll post a set of pictures once I can bench press 135 (the weight I’m deadlifting now). Right now my 3×5 for BP is 95, and I should be able to bump that up by 5lbs every bp workout, which is 1.5 times/week (one time on week and two times the next week, repeat), so hopefully in ~2 months I’ll feel like I look good enough to post some new pictures.

Anyway, that’s all for now, I’ll keep you updated. The next video will probably be when I get back from MLG, hopefully I can squat and barbell row 135 lbs by then, depending on the gyms I have access to at Catz’s house.

Alright, I’ve been really pleased with the success of these challenges so far, so I’m going to start offering small cash prizes for my favorite submissions.

1st place – $100

2nd place – $50

Here’s the third challenge! As always, remember to post your submissions in the reddit thread linked above. The deadline I’ll set for this challenge is February 15th, 2014!

Do your best and good luck!

Just a refresher, the idea is to take the original piece and, using the basic ideas/structure from the piece, create your own original piece! You can change up the style, the chords, the tempo, the instrumentation, etc…etc…whatever you want, as long as it’s recognizable as being based on the earlier piece. For an example, look at the past two composition challenges I’ve done!


(These are listed in no particular order, I simply pulled the submissions from the reddit post)

1 – ukdaza

Really cool to see another submission from ukdaza. The mastering of this trick is significantly improved over the mastering of the previous submission as well. Even though there’s not much here in regards to rearranging the original idea, there’s still a ton of awesome improvisation going on here.

2 – Mr. Goodmorning

Tons of instruments in this arrangement, and a surprising electric guitar at the end makes this a really varied arrangement. I really enjoyed the different textures scored in, but I wish that this piece had more cohesion and direction. Maybe if it lasted a bit longer and each section was given a bit more time to build, it would have helped with the overall sound of the piece.

3 – cparsons

Cparsons actually submitted one of the two winning tracks from the last challenge, so it’s nice to see him return with another track with some more amazing guitar playing. As before, the guitar playing is super sweet and super tasteful. The transition to and from the minor/middle section is handled tastefully, though I would have liked to see a bit of a difference in texture here compared to the before and after – maybe the piano that’s introduced here could have been utilized a bit more? The accordion also sounds delicious as well!

4 – DrumurBoy

This arrangement is incredibly sweet. The slight alterations in the chordal structure really add a ton of kick to the progression. The tracking on the drums was very sick as well (the ride pattern on the symbol so groovy!), and I’m a sucker for well processed drums. The only complaint I could possibly have with this was that it was too short!

5 – Bass Race Music

The atmosphere created in the first minute or so of this lead to something quite…unexpected. I like the transition in that it’s unexpected, but I feel like it didn’t relate much to the initial section. I also wish that the piece would have had a bit more expansion on both the initial and ladder parts. Both of them sounded okay on their own, though, but I really wish the two parts felt less disjointed.

6 – Fr0z3nFL4mE

This is definitely a “safe” arrangement, insofar as nothing ventured too far from the source material, but it’s a very solid arrangement with some piano playing behind it. I enjoyed listening to this being fleshed out as much as it was, though I might have wanted to see a little bit more experimentation with the arrangement. Overall, though, a solid piece.

7 – kasperhhk

This is a pretty “loose” interpretation of the source material, but I’ll let it slide in because, well, the more the merrier! I think that there are interesting ideas here, but the arranger would greatly benefit from becoming more familiar with whatever DAW he’s using. The midi instruments sound very flat and dead, and the lack of dynamics between any of the instruments gives the entire arrangement a pretty “flat” sound, in my opinion.

8 – rising_son

I like the way that the arranger handled the different instruments here, but I wish it would have gone on longer to hear some development for the second section. The volume on this was really quiet, too, and the abrupt ending was disappointing.

9 – Alexander Kolonelos

I like that this one strays pretty far from the original, but at the same time it’s really hard for me to hear any of the original at all in this, heh. That being said, the chords used during the more spare sections towards the start sound really nice, and the piano motif introduced at 0:53 sounds really cool as well.

10 – Nuoska

This arrangement deviates from the original in an amazingly awesome way. The combination of electronic/acoustic instruments is handled really well, too! The pizzicato strings in the second half are amazing! The instrumentation that follows afterwards is also really cool. Overall, a really adventurous and well handled submission. The only complaint I’d have is the sudden ending!

11 – OutsetReset

I like the 8-bit feel to this, even if it does get a bit reptitive. Everything sounds nicely put together, surprisingly, considering how awkward it might seem to throw an acoustic guitar in here. I wish there was more variety as the verses repeat themselves, though.

12 – JayTea O _o

I like that even though the instrumentaiton is relatively simple, all of the parts seem to be really well thought out. There’s not much in regards to straying from the original, which works fine in this case because everything is handled so well within this piece. The only thing I could have possibly asked for is to have a bit more of the am->Bb section. Regardless, very nice scoring in this!

13 – Eshystie

This remains faithful to the original source pretty much entirely, but the playing is absolutely phenomenal. It’s clean, the sound is nice, the player handles dynamics excellently. I would have absolutely loved to hear a bit more exploration with this, just because the performer seems to be so talented.

14 – Tao S

This arrangement is probably one of the more interesting/out there electronic arrangements. I’m not a huge fan of the dancey “untz untz untz” arrangements, but this one seems to handle it well enough.


Winning arrangement? There were a few that I’d love to choose from, but I managed to narrow it down to one this time.


When I was going through these pieces, the key thing I started to look for were pieces that sounded like they could stand on their own as songs. This one definitely could, and the level of recording/play of the guitars + the wonderful and amazing addition of the accordion pushed this one over the edge for me. There were about 4 other pieces that all could have been here, but this one takes the cake for me.

Stay tuned for number 3 to be posted shortly, along with a slight change up of how I’ll run these.