Starting a new adventure… learning Spanish

Affiliate link to the program

The Language Hacking Guide

I’ve been having fun for the last few weeks, taking lessons in basic Spanish using the duolingo.com iPhone app. I’ll try to post regular updates here as I move forward. So far, this is the most excited I’ve been about learning something new since I started learning to knit. One reason I’m excited is that I found a very interesting site and program called “Fluent in 3 months,” by a very funny guy who calls himself ‘Benny the Irish Polyglot,’ which focuses on an idea he calls language hacking. I love the very pragmatic approach he advocates; so much so that I bought his Speak from Day 1 training program. I’ll let you know how it works out for me.

Old nerd

Back in the 1970s, when I was a teen-aged nerd, being a nerd was horrible. People made fun of you, you couldn’t talk to girls, you probably had bad clothes and bad glasses.

Being a nerd when you’re in your 50s is entirely different. You’re probably being paid for many of the qualities that made you a nerd in the first place.

There’s no need to (attempt to) hide your nerd status, since everyone around you already knows you’re a nerd and accepts you for that. Besides, there’s a lot more social acceptance for nerds and you are also probably hanging around with–or are married to–other nerds.

You may also find that you just don’t care as much what people think of you!

First on-air contact with my HT

I made my first on-air contact on Sunday. I got a warm reception from some folks on the repeaters, including a chat with a gentleman in Goose Creek, SC, about 160 miles south of here. Turns out that some of the repeaters in South Carolina are networked together on the weekend.

I was surprisingly nervous putting my call out for the first time!

“Kilo kilo four lima zulu Quebec, monitoring”

CQ, CQ, CQ This is KK4LZQ calling

CQ, CQ, CQ calling CQ 2 meters. This is KK4LZQ calling. Kilo Kilo Four Lima Zulu Quebec, KK4LZQ in Indian Land calling.

…or words to that effect. I haven’t done it yet, but the first time I call CQ I’ll probably say something like that. I just got my amateur radio license from the FCC this past Thursday, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my new radio. I have a fear of sounding utterly stupid on my first contact, so I’m planning to listen for a few days before keying the mic for the first time..

The gun lobby is jerking you around (so’s the anti-gun lobby)

There have been a number of high-profile shootings this year, including the killings at the Sikh Temple, the “Batman” killings at the Colorado movie theater, and what I understand to be a shootout that started when a constable tried to serve an eviction notice.

As is often the case, media coverage (if it bleeds, it leads) is intense after one of these incidents, even when—as it appears with the “Empire State Building” shooting and the Texas A&M-neighborhood shooting—the events are not strictly of the same sort. The shooting of the constable might not have even made the national news if it hadn’t seemed on first report to fit the ‘mass shootings’ model. Don’t believe me? Did you hear about the “weekend of violence” in Chicago at the end of August? Nine dead and another 37 wounded. But… no nationwide headlines, because these are “ordinary” killings. As a side note, why are the seven folks at the Sikh temple more newsworthy than the nine in Chicago? Bear with me.

After each of the mass murders in the last decade, you can count on seeing certain things in the media…

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Weishi Shaver

This has to be one of the best bits of packaging I’ve ever seen. I bought this product when I was first trying to move away from using disposable razors. I have moved on to much better razors, but I’ve kept this package.

One of the greatest packages in history

Entirely Luster

Here are the key portions of the English text:

“Weishi Attend Entirely Luster”

Nobleness: Made of noble cuprum metal and apply advanced computer product line proceeding supercicies plating disposal.
Layont: outfit 5 pieces of stainless steel double-sided blades and a cleaning brush.

Needlessly load and unload shaver
Inimitable rotating handle.

A tiny fragment of insight this morning…

A few months ago I realized that just working out wasn’t helping me make any progress on my goal of getting lean. I’d been seeing quite a few people on fitocracy.com talking about the success they were having with Intermittent Fasting and LeanGains. I read up on these (different but related) plans and realized that I was unlikely to be willing to put up with the careful menu planning and calculations that I feel are needed or at least implied by LeanGains, so I decided to go with IF—along with a sloppy-casual nod to LeanGains, meaning I’d try to generally estimate my macros. I knew that this approach would slow down my fat loss, but I’m fine with that. I’m not in an particular hurry, and I’ve heard for years that losing weight fast tends not to be sustainable.

Anyway, before starting on IF in early March, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to stand the fasts. I have been eating huge breakfasts all of my life, often having two full breakfasts in a single morning. I was surprised and gratified to discover that I could skip breakfast with no huge hunger pains. My biggest ‘symptom’ was a sort of antsy feeling that I should stop for breakfast on the way to work. I also miss my morning eggs, so I’ve been trying to have breakfast-type foods now and then for dinner.

So, I’ve been doing 16/8 fasts most days for three months, life is good, and I can tell by looking in the mirror that I’m gradually getting leaner. Sometimes I get frustrated by not making faster progress (despite my best intentions, I’m often not very patient), and I know that part of the problem is simply that I’m still eating a lot of food. I am eating about the same size dinners, but my lunches have grown.

This weekend, more or less by accident, we ate very lightly. I had a salad for lunch on Saturday, dinner was chops and more salad. On Sunday I had leftover chops and salad for lunch, and supper was spinach salad with grilled chicken. Four meals in a row that matched my concept of “what I should be eating.” I even kept my ice cream consumption to a minimum.

Today I found myself walking around at work feeling …skinny. And I realized that I was alarmed by the sensation. As I became aware of all of this, a tiny light bulb lit up in my mind.

I equate being skinny with having cancer.

The last time I was this lean was probably back in late 1995 into early 1996, from the time I started having symptoms related to my stomach cancer through my surgery and recovery. I went from ~195 lbs in August to 155 lbs in December of ’95. Since then, I’ve been as heavy as 198 and as light as 178, but mostly have hovered around 190. Even when I weighed 178, it was ‘skinnyfat,’ meaning I wasn’t very fat, but I had no muscle.

I believe now that some (at least) of my overeating is a way for my subconscious mind to fend off being skinny!

I’ve got to work through this in my mind, because I really want to get down to about 10-12% BF!

My warmup as of today…

Several folks on Fitocracy have asked me for additional details about my warmup. I don’t claim to know anything objective about proper warmups… I have done some reading, made some choices, and this is what’s working for me right now. Like everything else in my exercise world, the warmup is a work-in-progress and will probably look different a year from now.

As I’ve mentioned many times, my primary source for exercise is the book You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises, by Mark Lauren and Joshua Clark (aka YAYOG). One of my few criticisms of this excellent book is that he does not mention any sort of warm-up period. I’ve heard that Mark is working on a second book, perhaps to be published toward the end of 2012, and I’m hoping that it will include information about warming up for the workouts.

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My ladder abacus

If you do your exercises using a variety of interval methods, you probably have heard of or use “ladders.” I believe that the method has various names, but I’m describing the technique of doing one repetition of an exercise, then two reps, then three reps, etc., resting some amount of time between each set. When you reach the point where you probably won’t be able to do another increase set, you rest and then start going “down the ladder,” so… the sets look something like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

My coin abacus

Ladder Abacus

My trouble with these is that I lose count! I want to be honest with myself and not cheat, but I also don’t want to do sets that look like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 4, 3, 3, 2, 1. I know, I know! The “gainz” are the same whether or not I keep accurate count, but I really do feel better knowing I’ve recorded my workout accurately. I can just picture myself ending up doing sets like 1, 2, 3, 6, 5, 4, 2, 1 out of wishful thinking.

At any rate, I came up with a simple system for tracking my ladder sets, and I think someone else might benefit from the idea (assuming that everyone who can’t keep track on their own hasn’t invented something better already).

My system is a simple coin counting plan. I take a few coins… a few more than I expect to use for my highest-rep set. I put them on the floor or a table next to me and within reach. During the rest periods between sets, I slide one coin from the resource pile to a counting area for each set. When I reach my highest-rep set, I slide a coin from the resource pile to a secondary counting area. The image shows the resource pile at the bottom edge of the image, the first counting area to the upper left, and the highest-rep counter in the upper right. What this tells me is that I have completed a set of six reps, but more importantly, I have five reps to do in my next set. After that set, I move one coin from the left counting area to the right, leaving four reps to do on my next set. When all coins are in the upper right, I’m done. I record a “6″ on my sheet for later transfer to my fitocracy.com tracking page.

So, there it is, a simple solution for you to try if you, like me, have a hard time remembering where you are on your ladders!