Monday, September 23, 2013

In which my brain is hijacked by the profane.

So, yeah.. there's gonna be some bad words.. fair warning.

It is Monday afternoon. The baby was up a bit last night and I am tired. I am in a meeting and doing my damnedest to pay attention, but I'm tired and my coffee ran out two hours ago. We're talking about network allocation and servers and other boring crap. My ducks are in a row so I sort of fade a little. Suddenly a big roadside billboard pops into my mind. It says "Dickweasel." I kind of shake it from my fore-brain. Wondering emphatically what the hell is a dickweasel? Do I know of such a thing? Is that even a pretend thing? Dickweasel? Brain, what the hell?
I must have made a face because the person running the meeting stops and says "You look like you have a question."
I chose not to reply "Yeah, what's a dickweasel?"

According to urban dictionary it's actually a thing. Well, not actually.. but it's a made up thing.
I am a surprised as you are.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Life and thoughts from "Mound City."

I live in Seattle, Washington. I was born near St. Louis, Missouri, and spent most of my formative years there abouts. This past (long) weekend I took my oldest son to the "Rome of the West" specifically to go to his first Cardinals game, his first fishing trip, and generally to spend time with my family in the space where I developed.
The first thing I noticed being home was bad food. Not that Seattle doesn't have the king, the clown and the colonel, it surely does. They do a fair business. But the degree to which I was unable to get quality food was pretty shocking. Here I shop at a local supermarket  occasionally I'll go to the local co-op or Whole foods, but those places are expensive and out of my way. I can still buy grass-fed beef and Dairy, pastured pork, and of course quality produce. With the exception of canned tomatoes, and sardines I generally don't go into the aisles at all. I don't need to. The rim of the store is meat, fish, produce, and dairy.
I decided to stock up on some provisions for our stay on the afternoon of day two. I went to the store recommended by my mother that "has a big organic and natural food section." I grabbed my basket and headed down the back side of the store. Dairy. No grass-fed dairy at all in the dairy section. No butter, no milk. I found some reasonable eggs, and I would later find grass fed butter in the specialty cheese section. Then, I walked lengthwise down the end of the store looking at all the meat in shiny plastic. Zero grass-fed, nothing pastured, all grain fed feedlot beef/pork/poultry. This is not an urban grocery. This is pastoral Missouri. With a rock and knife, I could have walked out of that store, across the parking lot and down a ways and procured some grass fed beef.. the hard way, but not in the store. Which makes no sense. This is a regional purveyor. This isn't Wal-mart. They could (and should) be getting products locally to support people who will in turn be spending those dollars in their stores in turn.  
As I turned the corner towards what I expected to be the produce section, was shocked to see not fresh fruits and vegetables, but an enormous section of processed junk food. Pre-packaged pasta salads, Sandwiches, fake "bbq" boiled in sickly sweet corn syrup and ketchup sauce.  
When I was a kid this kind of thing would take up about a 5 foot section of the cooler at the end of the dairy aisle. It was only patronized by that one aunt who can't cook, but feels the need to bring something to the family gathering any way. There would be macaroni salad, potato salad and maybe a few sandwiches. No one really ever ate that stuff, and certainly not every week.
By the time I was in high school, there was a small salad bar featuring this kind of processed "food." For convenience, in lieu of the occasional fast food meal. Folks would grab some ground beef, buns, make a salad and maybe a small container of pasta salad, and that'd be dinner. Not ideal, but arguably better than the king or the clown.
Last weekend, a full 1/2 of what should have been the produce section was processed junk.  I wandered through and marveled at the bright packages. Everything was white flour, canola oil, corn syrup in some combination. I thought, "this is it. This is the reason 1/3 of the adult population of this country are obese." I was horrified.
The produce section was small probably 1/3 of the size of a comparably sized store in the northwest. This can partially be explained by the differences in cultural diversity, but I would only expect that to shrink it to 3/4.. maybe.. if I'm being generous. I bought some grapes, and some other fruit. Then I remembered. The organic section. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right place!
Cue sad trombone.

There was indeed an isle (both sides) of organic food. 1/4 of that was a freezer case consisting mostly of organic vegan T.V. dinners. a full 1/2 was organic chocolate, soda, protein powders, potions, bars and other "fitness foods." 1/8 was organic grains of all sorts. The last 1/8? Organic soap and toiletries. Zero food that one should eat.
Yeck.. well after that big bag of fail. The rest of the weekend was fantastic.
Random thoughts:

You can never have enough stuff for a kid to do while traveling. Hold back the big guns for the way home.

The Magic house is truly awesome. Hell, it was great when I was a kid and it was a fifth the size. The grizzly loved it and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

We ate a lot of good barbecue. Which made me eager to up my game, but also made me confidant that I make some damn fine smoked meat.

The grizzly, true to his name, is an excellent fisherman. At just over 3 years old he reeled in a pretty respectable small mouth bass. He wanted to touch it, but wanted no part of holding it.

Tired kids do some bizarre sh!t.

Ballpark peanuts are delicious.

The St. Louis Cardinal baseball is an experience. If you love baseball, you should go to a game at Busch.

One's first ballgame should be a big deal. Ideally experienced with one's father and grandfather.

Taking a 3 year old out to dinner after a daytime ballgame is a dicey proposition.

You can't count on the weather in Missouri.

Tired kids, they do some bizarre sh!t.

It may surprise you who can be a pretty good grandparent.

It was a great, and wonderful, and surprising and frustrating weekend that pretty much went 100% to plan. I hope that I never forget it. I hope that the grizzly never does either. I like this dad stuff, even though I fail at it every day.

Whenever you leave behind failure, that means you're doing better.
If you think everything you've done is great, you're probably dumb.
-Louis CK


Thursday, September 5, 2013

TUF 18: quick thoughts.

As if the shenanigans between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate weren't enough to suck me in to this season of TUF (after I said I'd never go back).
Roxanne Modafferi is one of my favorite MMA fighters.. Period. No qualifiers.
She is a true fighter, any one, any time, for fun!
She got into martial arts because she wanted to be a power ranger.. no joke.
She is very open with her fans, goes out of her way to connect to them.
She is just straight up good people.
She recently moved back to the states to live and train full time (FINALLY)
I hope she does really well.

Shayna Baszler is another long time favorite. Total badass with a catch wrestling background. Odds on favorite to win the show.
If they could have somehow gotten Bec Hyatt involved there'd be no hope for me.

Was kind of sorry to see Tara LaRosa not even make the house. She's a tough vet. Just didn't have it.

There are actually some talented men on this season as well. I don't know what changes the UFC made, but after the last few season's terribleness, I might actually not wince at the poor quality of the grappling on this season. Good job Zuffa!

Speaking of grappling: I question Team Tate's decision to select a guy first over all who's idea of submission defense is "hoist and slam." It's not going to work against the better guys in the house. In a season that appears to be pretty grappling heavy, I'd avoid a guy with such a glaring weakness. (So of course he'll probably win the whole thing.. as always; all predictions wrong, or your money back!)


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Catchup the third: lifting, running, judo and jiu jitsu.

I had a baby! Well, not really.. my wife had a baby. But, I helped.
Babies change things, and having two kids changes things not by a factor of two, but by an order of magnitude. Especially managing thing 1 while thing 2 is still an infant. My lovely wife was gracious enough to grant me two days per week for jiu jitsu. Tuesdays she does battle with the insidious foe that is bedtime by herself so that I can go train. Saturdays she allows me to sneak off to day class. I appreciate her efforts here, they are no small thing. Jiu Jitsu training has been going really well. I am not only becoming more able to do it at a pretty reasonable level, but I am starting to understand it more and more. My ability to decode situations and improvise has improved tremendously. It's becoming more and more fun to riff on themes and variations.

For a while I have felt like my grappling was incomplete. I have trained with some pretty exceptional judoka in my BJJ travels and have come to understand more and more that I just don't have very good judo. I have fair to middling wrestling which has its place. However, to truly be a complete and skilled grappler I need to incorporate judo into my skill set. Combine this with the fact that judo practice starts after the kid's bedtimes, and thus allows me to dad and grapple on the same days. In June I started going to Seattle Dojo twice a week to train judo. It's not fair to say that I'm terrible, but I feel like it most days. I am learning a metric ton. It is very humbling to go in and put on a white belt. To say "I don't know anything. Teach me." It is also hard to have grappling experience, to try to put something like judo in a known context without sounding like a know-it-all. I am trying very hard to be neither a sandbagger, nor a know-it-all. So far I think I am succeeding.
The cultural differences are significant, and interesting. Both Gracie Barra, and Seattle Dojo can trace their lineage directly to Mitsuyo Maeda. Both value ability and understanding, but judo is much more formal. Training harder, but far less often. I am hoping that by looking through these two divergent lenses I will get something akin to binocular vision into the original jiu jitsu.
In the gym I am lifting twice per week.
some corrective work, KB swings, Dips and chins.
work up to 405 for 5 drop down to 315 for 10
this is maintenance. I'm dropping weight, and I want to keep my strength.
Incline press/chest supported row
sets of 8-12
some sort of complex, or interval work.
warm-up (as above)
TRX single leg split squat (mobility, stability and strength work. big bang for your peso)
Clean and press:
some sets at 135
battle rope intervals.
The major points here are:
Keep my joints healthy.
Maintain my strength through the weight loss.
Don't tap too deep into my recovery.
Keep a training effect in both strength and hypertrophy.
I'm having pretty good success. There have been a couple times when minor dings from jiu jitsu or judo have forced me to do something a bit more remedial in the weight room, but sport training is primary. Weight room stuff is secondary. I have to keep that in mind.
God help me I am running once per week. Not to far, and not too slow, but running none the less. When one embraces the mantra "do more of what you are terrible at." I cannot ignore that I have. for the past 7-8 years completely ignored aerobic training. I run after Tuesday jiu jitsu after my glycogen and aerobic systems are already depleted. Have no fear gentle reader I am not going to go all khardio kween on you, but a two mile hard run once per week has made a not insignificant improvement in performance, and recovery. Not to get all grumpy cat on you but, I hate it, and I would not change my recommendations for most people, but 15-20 minutes once per week is not a bad investment.
I'd even let you go up to 30 IF:
You are not weak as veal. 
You do not have an existing orthopedic injury.
You are not a generally aerobic athlete competing in an anaerobic sport. You are not substituting aerobic training for sport specific, strength, or anaerobic training. (I didn't lift this week, or go to jiu jitsu, but I ran 12 miles!.. FAIL)
All bets are off if you're an athlete in an endurance sport. There is no hope for you, may the FSM have mercy on your soul.
So my week looks like this:
Monday: Judo
Tuesday: BJJ, run
Wednesday: weights
Thursday: Judo
Friday: off
Saturday: BJJ
Sunday: weights.
for my sanity because my job is very static stationary and sedentary, I try to get at least 5 flights of stairs, and 50 push-ups during the day. Along with spending a good part of the day not sitting. That may be 1/2 kneeling, tall kneeling, or standing. I also go for walks with the kiddos and though friday is "off" we take the kids for a long walk and I end up carrying the grizzly for at least 2-4 blocks on my shoulders.