Thursday, April 26, 2012

Return of the food blogging.

When I did the paleo 60 days I posted pictures of my dinners. Selfishly it's a good way to keep an eye on portions, and document what I'm cooking.. so here we go. The return of the dinner pics.

Meatballs in red sauce. Pastured Pork and Grass-fed beef filled out with ground mushrooms, fennel, and carrot.
Smoked short ribs and salad.

Pork steak and asparagus (with garlic and tomato)

Rotisserie chicken,  salad with avocado (no time to cook)

Seared yellowfin tuna, plantains over sauteed greens.

BBQ pork shoulder and salad

baked salmon with avocado butter, and steamed artichokes.

lamb and cauliflower in red coconut curry.
Please let me know if you like or dislike this series.
Also if you want any recipes drop a comment in the dooblie doo and I'll post it (as best I can).

Monday, April 16, 2012

A modest proposal to the IBJJF.

Over the past couple of weeks, like most BJJ folks, I have been looking at the competition footage from this years Pan Ams. The technical level has been great, but one thing stuck out to me, and I can't over look it any longer. I have seen only ONE match at the black belt level where the competitors actually attempted to take each other down. In every other contest one or both athletes attempted to pull guard. In some instances the fighters would jockey for position, basically arguing over who would take the top position. Sometimes the player who was in top position would actively flee the other player's guard in order to get a second chance to pull guard. I have a real problem with this. I understand that the guard is fundamental in differentiating our art from others, but BJJ is about being a fighter, and more often than not pulling guard is a bad idea in a fight. Similarly if the bottom position is such a wonderful thing, why award points for a sweep? Most of all, shouldn't a world champion have incentive to be able to execute against an opponent standing, and from inside the guard as well as off their back?
I humbly propose some rule changes to give the advantage to the more complete fighter:
  1. Matches will be divided up into three periods. (white belts: 2 minutes each, blue/purple: 3,2,2, brown/black: 3 minutes each)
  2. The start of the second period the referee will flip a coin and award the choice of position to the player indicated by the toss.
  3. The available choices are: neutral-both players start on the feet, defer-player defers choice to the start of the third period, bottom or top.
  4. The player in the bottom position will be on his back in the center of the mat with the opposing top player in his closed guard. The bottom player must have both hands behind his head before the match will restart. The top player will be on his knees, with his palms on the torso of the bottom player above the line of the belt, but below the point where the sleeves attach to the jacket. The heels of his hands must touch.
  5. Players moving before the referee's whistle starts the action will be given a caution for first offense, an advantage awarded for second offense, and a point for third offense and subsequent offenses. After 4 offenses the player may be disqualified at the referee's discretion.
  6. The start of the third period the positional choice goes to the player who did not choose the start of the second period.
  7. If a fighter sits to guard from the neutral position, his opponent will be awarded 1 point.
  8. Players may be awarded an advantage if the referee feels they are fleeing their opponents guard and making no attempt to pass.

There you have it. Fighters are rewarded for controlling a stand-up fight. Fighters are forced to be able to fight from the bottom AND the top. Players can still choose to sit to guard, but there is a penalty to do so. Similarly wrestlers/judokas would not be able to get the takedown, and then "ride out" the rest of the match without being able to answer the riddle of their opponent's guard. That said, I don't think these rules will ever take effect. They are too severe of a change. I know that a lot of top level players would complain, loudly.. which is too bad. I think that being a jiu-jitsu player means that you are competent on the feet, on your back, or passing. I work very hard at making sure my game is complete, and perhaps I'm being an idealist, but I want all three to continue to be relevant in sport BJJ. I fear that if things continue the way they are that stand-up and even top game will become more and more of an afterthought for sport players at least.


*I would hope that this needn't be said, but I in no way think that I am at the level of world class black belts, nor do I mean to imply that I am somehow more noble because competition has little effect on how my game has evolved. I am a solid, if unspectacular new brown belt, and an old guy at that. As a fan I want the most complete fighter to be rewarded. I want athletes to have an incentive to fight on the feet, and I want passing to evolve along with the guard game. More importantly I want BJJ as a sport to continue to value all three.

Monday, April 9, 2012


About a month ago my maternal grandmother died, and I had to go back to St. Louis for the funeral. This was not an unexpected nor untimely death. She was ill, and outlived everyone's expectations many times over.
In the Midwest the service is attended by friends and family of the family of the departed. My mother is a sociable woman, and a good number of our neighbors and friends were there to support her. Mom was upset, so I did my best to speak to everyone and say:
'Hello, good to see you. Seattle is wonderful. The Kiddo is great, and the Wife's back is healing up nicely. Thanks for coming I know my mom appreciates your support. How is your wife/kid/dog/grandchild?"
That same conversation, over and over. It was exhausting. At one point I went to the bathroom just to sit somewhere and not talk. When we got to my parent's home for the wake I just wanted to go sit somewhere quiet and read or write, but there was no time.
The wake is for family. Our family is huge. The house was buzzing. I helped put out food, chase my niece, and found a quiet..ish corner and hid. I was able to slow down the flow of people and focus on one or two people at a time. I had some good personal conversations with members of my family that I like, I trust, and who actually know me. After the wake I met my friend Chris for a burger, and some coffee and we talked in great depth about being fathers and told old stories. We talked so much that my jaw hurt.
The situation at the service was horrible. I was overwhelmed. People coming at me in waves. People inserting mid-conversation, making small talk with folks whom I knew almost nothing about. Groping for information to try and knit together some semblance of a conversation. The later situations were far less stressful. I could slow things down. I could have detailed conversations with each individual, create a context and connect. What's the difference?
I am an introvert. That does not mean I don't like people (though I jokingly hyperbolize that I don't, but that is an oversimplification.)
I like the people that I like, and there is a long process to qualify. I find small talk confusing and tiring. I never know what to say to people if we do not have an agenda, or if I don't know them well enough to understand what to talk about. That means that if I know that I'm going to be in a social situation with someone new I prepare a conversation... or at least half of it. If that person takes a rhetorical left turn and blows up my prepared conversation, or god forbid someone completely new arrives, I panic. I have to study them to find something to talk about, I have to probe to get some idea of what makes them tick. Sometimes I'll offer an anecdote to see of they will respond with something similar. I try to lead them into a conversation about themselves. Sometimes this creates awkward silences. Sometimes this leads me to blabbing on only slightly related stories until I can figure out how I can get them to talk about something that makes them tick. It's very stressful.
I am not shy. I'm not afraid of speaking, and I don't worry about disapproval. I don't understand trying to assert my views if either someone else is asserting similar views or arguments, or if I'm studying the argumentation of the person speaking. If someone is speaking I assume they have something to say, so I want to listen.
Say your piece and convince me. I want to know what you think. It takes me a while to form my opinion. I like to look at not just what someone is saying, but how they say it. Do they believe what they say? What about others in the group? What persuasive techniques are being employed? How many of them are bogus?
This has always been part of my personality. I can remember being 4 or 5 and having a relative from far off telling my parents "JB is so serious." I have been described as quiet, serious, or anti-social my whole life.
I liked reading books, I liked sitting in the room with the adults and listening until they forgot I was there. I would go out in the woods by myself and inspect critters and bugs, or just watch the creek flow by.
I'm really sensitive to people embarrassing themselves. If there is a "cringe scene" coming up in a movie, I'll go to the restroom, or pretend to do something else. It makes me ill to watch.

The week before my grandmother died I came across this ted talk:

Unlike Susan Cain I was an introvert in a family of extroverts.
I was looked at as peculiar, and I pretty much agreed.. but I internalized that. So I'm weird, so what. I'm not bothering anyone, deal with it. I don't really pass. In college I would go to parties for an hour at a time. I work in jobs that value one on on conversation, and allow me to delve deeply into complex problems.
I am happy. I spend lots of time with the people I value deeply (my wife, my son, a very few close friends) and contact my extroverted family via email and texts which gives them the contact they need to feel connected, but I am able to boil down the conversations to the important bits.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, or if it makes no sense to you at all; you need to read Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. It really changed my perception of myself, and how I interact with my friends and family. I am not strange. Reading this book has opened the world, and released a lot of pressure I was feeling to make small talk. It's still something I struggle with, but I'm focusing on asking more questions. Letting the extroverts roll. Coping less in conversation and letting things flow. I don't have to insert myself. It's liberating.
If you are an extrovert, there is chapter on interacting with introverted friends and family.
If you are a leader: teacher, coach, boss, manager, you need to read this book to set up all of your people to succeed and leverage the strengths of both personality types.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

End of an Era.

Many years ago (I don't even know how many, but it was more than 6) I was in the downtown Seattle and went into the Nike store. They had on sale a pair of black and yellow Nike free 3.0. I bought them and they have been my general training shoe since. As of last Friday they have been officially retired.
Last fall I went to several local running stores and tried all of the latest in minimal shoes (the Frees were understandably coming apart at the seams) but since I wear minimal footwear all the time my feet are very spread out and wide at the toe box. I couldn't get some of the shoes in question on at all. I was pretty concerned. When my frees finally gave out, I could have realistically been unable to replace them. Which would either mean wearing shoes that were significantly too long to make up for the width (which would have been a problem) or trying to use a "non athletic shoe" like a pair of Sanuks (which I cannot recommend enough for every day wear) for running hills and the like.. neither would have worked out very well.
Thankfully, New Balance has released their Minimus shoe in EE (extra wide). They are to my knowledge the only company to do so with their "barefoot type" shoes. So I rewarded them by buying a pair. They're great. They have an even lower profile than my frees. Still very light-weight and pretty comfortable. They will need a little breaking in, and the surface is a little slick indoors, but overall I could not be happier.