Camouflage

I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook and Twitter this weekend saying things like “look at these heroic redneck guys who are rescuing people! But next week, media will be back to calling them Nazis and KKK.” Tell you what: if anyone in “the media” is randomly accusing guys with pickup trucks of being Klan members or of being Nazis, then they should be dragged through a metaphorical mud pit.

But I haven’t seen that happen. I have seen guys holding swastika flags accused of being Nazis. I’ve seen people dressed in KKK uniform shirts accused of being KKK members.

This isn’t difficult. No sensible observer is calling you a Nazi or accusing you of being a Klan member just because you’re a white person (if someone does that, they’re a troll, plain and simple). However, if your cousin is nice to you, but he dresses in a white hood and goes to Klan meetings on the weekend, guess what. He’s not a nice person.

“Rural white gun owner” isn’t a hypothetical or mythical group for me. I’ve hung out at shooting ranges with these guys for years, and lived among the New England variety. I’ve participated on their gun forums.

Most of these guys are upstanding citizens, many of them are military veterans, and most of them would give you the shirts off their backs if you were in need, or work half a day helping you get your car out of the ditch.

I also know a sweet-looking grandpa who interrupted a funny story about his granddaughter to point out the ‘mud puppies’ who had just walked into the restaurant where we were having breakfast (a young couple with their biracial children, if you’re not up on racist nicknames for people).

He once told me how much he wanted to move back to a farm in Virginia, where he could set up a firing range where he could shoot “darkies.”

But if you look at the larger view, some 80-year-old guy’s racism and bigotry isn’t the hugest problem. He’ll be dead in another couple of years. As hideous as his attitudes are (and as much as they’ve been on display in the news recently), I think (and hope) that they’re gradually becoming less common, less accepted.

There’s another reason that I get angry at the reactionary attitudes of my rural compatriots: They give cover for people doing even worse things. They’re used as human camouflage by industries and corrupt politicians.

The heroic veteran hauling his flatboat from Louisiana to Houston to rescue people makes great fodder for propagandists. They haul out photos of Buford or Cleat pulling people out of the flood and say “look, these guys just want jobs and to go fishing, but your regulations are killing their way of life.” Of course, Mr. Propagandist drives a Beemer and lives in a high-rise luxury apartment or in a gated community. He likely has a degree from a nice college and wouldn’t hang out with Cleat for good money (though he might hire him as a local guide on his annual luxury fishing trip). This marketing guy might work for a giant oil refinery which is fighting regulations because following those regulations would shave 0.0012% of profit off their balance sheets. Or maybe he works for a developer who can build housing estates a lot cheaper if he can do it in an area with no building codes.

Then you end up with a city like Houston, with refineries plunked down in poor neighborhoods where the residents don’t have the political clout to get the pollution stopped. A city where there’s so little permeable land left that there’s no chance for rain to soak into the ground before running into the streets.

Think about it. Most regulations aren’t enacted out of some spiteful attempt to throttle profit. Most of them come about because we’ve seen cities burn to the ground, so we come up with fire codes. We’ve seen people poisoned by water systems so poorly designed that the designers should be up on manslaughter charges. We’ve proven that cars with seat belts and airbags save lives and reduce injury. We’ve looked back at the early days of the packaged food industry and decided that “no, we don’t want contaminated ketchup on the shelves” (read up on this period if you want a really hair-raising experience; you’ll never look at food regulations the same way again).

Yeah, there are regulations that are monumentally stupid. Regulations that exist as protectionism. We should clean those up. But if an expert in urban flooding tells you that building a city in such-and-such a way will lead to massive flooding (and has strong evidence to back up her claims) yet your city fathers ignore that and build a sprawling, concrete city that ends up flooding every time you get three inches of rain; well… Please don’t haul out poor heroic Cletus and his flatboat and expect me to buy your shtick. Clete has had his head turned around so far (from listening to talk radio all day long), he’ll likely go back home and vote in people who will continue to create the conditions for more flooding, more pollution, more industrial explosions. And he’ll be convinced that he’s protecting his freedoms by voting that way.

I saw a quote yesterday that went something like “Americans are great in a crisis, but bad on the long haul.” Avoiding more situations like Flint’s water, or Norfolk, Virginia’s sinking waterfront, or Houston’s sprawl takes planning, regulations, awareness, spending, and long-term determination. It takes a concerted effort to fight political corruption and make sure that we know what’s going on, and why the regulations are important.

Private industry isn’t going to do that. They’ve proven that plenty of times over the last 200 years.

Yeah, I know the old chestnut: “the scariest phrase in the world is ’I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Funny joke. You know what? At its best, the government is us. It’s made up of citizens who want to fix things so they’re still working a century from now.

If we work really hard, find ways to mitigate the pollution, reduce greenhouse gases, stop the destruction of the oceans and the rain forests, then perhaps Clete’s great-grandkids will have clean lake water to fish in from their flatboat.

My bias against bullies

I’ve been thinking about one of my biases, and how it undoubtedly influences my view of current events.

My entire school career, from about 3rd grade until I left school, I was the designated safe target for bullies.

My experience of trying to get help was that it leads to teachers telling you that you should not to make up stories, because those boys came from good families and would never do such things. It’s of teachers punishing me if I dared to fight back, and never protecting me or punishing my tormentors.

Nine or ten straight years of being called faggot, nerd, loser. Having my homework stolen and destroyed, having food thrown at me as I got off the bus, of being beaten repeatedly, of hiding during recess, of having drinks poured over me, of being told I was entirely worthless.

I’ve had an absolutely great life since I left school. Amazing adventures, the craziest jobs (and finally finding my niche), great friends. I no longer suspect that I’m worthless, and I don’t hang around with people who don’t value me.

But I still twitch in reaction when I hear people shouting mean things; I assume they’re targeting me, I guess, at some deep level.

When I recently learned the word “gaslighting,” I understood it — and its implications — right away. I was told for years that, essentially, the bullying was my fault. Or that I was just imagining it. Or that I was just weak and should let it roll off my back. It has taken me a long time to stop believing that.

I’m not writing this to get sympathy. That whole thing ended 38 years ago. A guy I knew in the Navy talked me down from the last serious bad reaction I had. Done.

I’m writing because when I see stories of bullying, this is why I’m more primed to believe the victim’s stories and disbelieve you when you say “that was staged” or “this is just people being too sensitive.”

So there’s my bias. I freely admit to being on the side of the underdog, not the side of the bully, the big man on campus, the Good Boy from a Good Family.

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.

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”

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.

Continue reading “My warmup as of today…”

Day 15/70

I earned 684 points on fitocracy.com for:

  • Plank:
    • 302 sec (+100 pts)
    • 45 sec (+15 pts)
    • 31 sec (+10 pts)
    • #1 Maintenance plank, and also my PR for no fidgeting. #2 Wall plank; feet on wall, arms straight. #3 – holding Push-Up pose half-way-down.
  • Decline Push-Up:
    • 12 reps (+18 pts)
    • 12 reps (+18 pts)
    • 8 reps (+12 pts)
    • YAYOG W3/D1 – 3 minute intervals, Push: I did these with my feet on a 29″ stability ball
  • Ring Dip:
    • 3 reps (+20 pts)
    • 3 reps (+20 pts)
    • 2 reps (+12 pts)
    • YAYOG W3/D1 – 3 minute intervals, Push: last set to failure
  • Dips – Triceps Version:
    • 4 reps (+14 pts)
    • YAYOG W3/D1 – 3 minute intervals, Push: finishing off the dips exercise with some standard dip-station reps.
  • Standing Kettlebell Military Press:
    • 35 lb x 6 reps (+17 pts)
    • 35 lb x 6 reps (+17 pts)
    • 35 lb x 7 reps (+17 pts)
    • YAYOG W3/D1 – 3 minute intervals, Push: doing these as training for the YAYOG military press, which is still difficult for me to do, mostly due to ROM problems.
  • Body Weight Ring Push-Up:
    • 6 reps (+9 pts)
    • 6 reps (+9 pts)
    • 7 reps (+10 pts)
    • YAYOG W3/D1 – 3 minute intervals, Push: Trying out doing these on rings to increase difficulty.
  • Wall Handstand:
    • 52 sec (+18 pts)
    • Handstand training
  • Body Weight Squat:
    • 10 reps (+6 pts)
    • 35 reps (+22 pts)
    • 10 reps (+6 pts)
    • 10 reps (+6 pts)
    • 20 reps (+13 pts)
    • Killing time during the 3-minute intervals
  • Standing Calf Raises:
    • 10 reps (+2 pts)
    • 10 reps (+2 pts)
    • 1-leg calf raises, just killing time during the 3-minute intervals. Full ROM with toes on edge of stair.
  • Jump Rope:
    • 0:01:45 (+8 pts)
    • I saw someone else log jump rope and realized it had been a while
  • Seated Cable Row:
    • 210 lb x 10 reps (+60 pts)
    • point questing to level up
  • Barbell Bench Press:
    • 160 lb x 10 reps (+85 pts)
    • 140 lb x 10 reps (+74 pts)
    • 120 lb x 10 reps (+64 pts)
    • point questing to level up

Weight: 184.5

Day 14/70

I earned 1064 points on fitocracy.com for:

  • Plank:
    • 559 sec (+100 pts)
    • #plankaday New P.R., but the 10-minute mark is still safe. 559 seconds or 9:19
  • Body Weight Inverted Row (Let Me Ups):
    • 10 reps (+16 pts)
    • Let Me Ups done on the rings, legs level with the rings.
  • Ring Dip:
    • 2 reps (+12 pts)
    • 1 reps (+5 pts)
    • These are very hard..
  • Ring Pull-Up:
    • 2 reps (+10 pts)
    • 6 reps (+44 pts)
    • 6 reps (+44 pts)
    • 3.5 reps (+22 pts)
    • Went all-out on these, particularly that last set. 3-minute sets
  • Wall Handstand:
    • 20 sec (+7 pts)
    • 47 sec (+16 pts)
    • handstand training
  • Goblet Squat (kettlebell):
    • 35 lb x 3 reps (+13 pts)
    • Learning the goblet squat (I still like to think of this as the goblin squat)
  • Body Weight One-Leg Squat:
    • 2 reps (+7 pts)
    • 1 reps (+5 pts)
    • 1 reps (+5 pts)
  • Decline Push-Up:
    • 10 reps (+15 pts)
    • 8 reps (+12 pts)
    • 12 reps (+18 pts)
    • 3-minute sets – Done with feet on a large (~27″?) stab ball
  • Dips – Triceps Version:
    • 6 reps (+23 pts)
    • 6 reps (+23 pts)
    • 6 reps (+23 pts)
    • 3-minute sets
  • Standing Kettlebell Military Press:
    • 35 lb x 3 reps (+15 pts)
    • 35 lb x 3 reps (+15 pts)
    • 35 lb x 3 reps (+15 pts)
    • 3-minute sets
  • Jump Squat:
    • 12 reps (+9 pts)
    • 8 reps (+6 pts)
    • 8 reps (+6 pts)
    • toyotas with 3-second hold at bottom. 3-minute sets
  • Box Jumps:
    • 12 jumps || 29 in (+44 pts)
    • 10 jumps || 29 in (+36 pts)
    • 8 jumps || 29 in (+27 pts)
  • Farmer’s Walk:
    • 15′ 0″ || 68.5 lb (+7 pts)
    • 80′ 0″ || 68.5 lb (+26 pts)
    • 15′ 0″ || 68.5 lb (+7 pts)
    • 80′ 0″ || 68.5 lb (+26 pts)
  • Dumbbell Shrug:
    • 68.5 lb x 3 reps (+15 pts)
    • Done while putting the buckets from the Farmer’s Walk away.
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curl:
    • 35 lb x 6 reps (+12 pts)
    • 35 lb x 3 reps (+11 pts)
    • 35 lb x 3 reps (+11 pts)
    • Actually kettlebell curls. 3-minute sets
  • Walking:
    • 0:08:00 || 0.2 mi (+5 pts)
    • cool-down after the run
  • Running:
    • 0:49:22 || 4.1 mi (+351 pts)
    • what a slog. doing a run after a hard workout feels very different from doing one on a no-workout day.

Weight: 184.5

Day 12/70

I earned 558 points on fitocracy.com for:

Stretching:
0:05:00 (+2 pts)
Trying to let my lower back straighten out by doing knee-to-chest stretches before getting out of bed.

Plank:
15 sec (+5 pts)
536 sec (+100 pts)
#1 – RKC plank to warm up. #2 PR attempt.

Parallel-Grip Pull-Up:
1 reps (+3 pts)
2 reps (+9 pts)
3 reps (+16 pts)
4 reps (+23 pts)
3 reps (+16 pts)
2 reps (+9 pts)
1 reps (+3 pts)
1 reps (+3 pts)
2 reps (+9 pts)
2.5 reps (+12 pts)
2 reps (+9 pts)
1 reps (+3 pts)
YAYOG Ladders – left-over exercise from yesterday’s interrupted workout

Wall Handstand:
66 sec (+23 pts)
handstand training

Chin-Up:
1 reps (+3 pts)
2 reps (+7 pts)
3 reps (+13 pts)
4 reps (+19 pts)
5 reps (+25 pts)
3.5 reps (+16 pts)
2.5 reps (+10 pts)
1.5 reps (+5 pts)
1 reps (+3 pts)
YAYOG Ladders – left-over exercise from yesterday’s interrupted workout ( my gymnast rings should arrive today… next week’s Pull day should have some new exercises! )

Side Plank:
77 sec (+53 pts)
Normal old side plank.
Flat Straight Leg Raise:
1 reps (+5 pts)
2 reps (+5 pts)
3 reps (+5 pts)
4 reps (+5 pts)
5 reps (+5 pts)
6 reps (+5 pts)
5 reps (+5 pts)
4 reps (+5 pts)
3 reps (+5 pts)
2 reps (+5 pts)
1 reps (+5 pts)
YAYOG 1st class – W2/D4 – Core: Hello Darling: hands on chest, head raised

Superman:
3 sec (+4 pts)
6 sec (+4 pts)
9 sec (+4 pts)
12 sec (+4 pts)
15 sec (+4 pts)
18 sec (+4 pts)
15 sec (+4 pts)
12 sec (+4 pts)
9 sec (+4 pts)
6 sec (+4 pts)
3 sec (+4 pts)
YAYOG 1st class – W2/D4 – Core:

Bicycle (abs):
1 reps (+5 pts)
2 reps (+5 pts)
3 reps (+5 pts)
4 reps (+5 pts)
3 reps (+5 pts)
2 reps (+5 pts)
1 reps (+5 pts)
1 reps (+5 pts)
2 reps (+5 pts)
3 reps (+5 pts)
2 reps (+5 pts)
1 reps (+5 pts)
YAYOG 1st class – W2/D4 – Core: I did these very slowly, both to increase effectiveness (per Mark’s notes) and to try to improve my sloppy form.

Weight: 182.5