Friday, October 23, 2009

Almost 3 weeks in

OK, so I've kept it up.

I have been run training on Tues, Thurs, Fri and Sunday. The plan is to weight train on Mon Wed Fri, with Saturday completely off. That means double sessions on Friday, and single sessions 5 days a week, with a total of 7 workouts of some sort each week.

Week 1 was 4 20 minute walks.

Week 2 was 4 20 minute run-walks. I worked the stopwatch on these, and gradually increased the running interval and decreased the walking interval.

Week 3 is 4 20 minute runs. I have completed 3.

I decided to do more of a traditional "powerbuilding" split with Mon devoted to back and bi's (focus on pullups), Wed devoted to leg/whole body movements (read: squat and deadlift) and Friday for bench, military press and tris. This week I only got in the Monday session. I'm just not used to this volume of work yet, as in the past, I worked 3 MAYBE 4 times a week. I'll just have to feel this out as I adapt to the new program.

Tuesday was chilly, and I wore a cotton t-shirt, wind pants, and a pair of all but new Asics Gel Kayano 15's, with a pair of "smartwool" type socks my Mother got for me last holiday season. The run was tough, as I psychologically had no idea what 20 minutes of running felt like.

Wednesday I got a pair of shoes that I bid for on ebay and forgot about because I lowballed it. Turns out I won the auction, so I have a pair of Nike Bowerman Series Zoom Structure 12+'s as well. In addition, I went out and got a couple Nike+ technical shirts, and a pair of Nike running shorts (that were long enough that I didn't feel like a Rockette). Why Nike? No reason. I just wanted a brand-name quality garment, and they were on sale. I also got a pair of headphones designed for athletic activity, and a nike armband. Lastly, I picked up some Asics sweat-wicking running socks.

Thursday was a bit warmish, so I got to wear all my new gear all by itself. First off, I will say that the technical top and bottom DO make a difference. They don't make you run faster, obviously, but not having a wet/damp t-shirt clinging to you as you run makes the comfort level MUCH higher. The new headphones were a success too, as the regular iPod headphones have to be readjusted every 2 minutes when running, as they simply fall out of your head. The armband fit me with exactly 1" to spare, which meant that only half of the velcro could attach, but it held none-the-less... my arms are just too hyyyyyuuuuuuuge I guess.

So: Structure 12+ vs: Kayano 15: The Kayanos are WAY more comfortable... its like running on two fluffy pillows of happy. On the other hand, pillows of happy aren't the most reactive running surface. The Structures are much more reactive, and you don't have as much of a "cushy" feeling when striking the ground. In addition, the Nikes feel noticeably lighter. Six of one, half dozen of the other. I'm rotating them anyway. I haven't decided if I want to give a shot to that nike+iPod system yet, but I'm considering it.

Thursday's run felt fast and easy. Surprisingly so.

Today, I had my third 20 minute run, and for whatever reason, it was hard. Maybe it was the 2 days back to back... maybe it was the fact it was a bit colder (I threw a fleece over my shirt). Who knows? Anyway, tomorrow is off, and then another 20 minute run on Sunday.

Thats all folks!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Marathon Training Day 1

Since I never really figured out a direction for this blog, I will turn it into my marathon blog/training log.

I decided not too long ago that running a marathon is on my "bucket list". I feel that it is one of those endeavors that if one calls themselves an athlete, they should be able to do. Also, I will be raising funds for a charity while I do it. I am currently thinking that it will be a anti-sexual violence org, or maybe something to do with human trafficking. I will have to look up some different organizations. If someone knows of a good one, let me know.

So I did a bunch of research, and then went to Fleet Foot, where they did a stride and fit analysis on me, and I bought a pair of Asics Gel Kayano-15's. Everyone that reviewed them, loved them. They are supposed to be good for a bigger guy like me. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Anyway, today was day 1 of my program. It starts very simply, and eases into the mileage. When you take into account that I considered 8 reps in the gym to be "endurance work" for the past 3 years or so, this is a good thing. Today was a 20 minute walk. It went well. I'm surprised that my legs are a little tired. Guess I really have been concentrating on explosive work.

Thats all. Feel free to comment.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reclaiming the Debate: How Progressive Language Needs to Change

For too long, the conservative movement has defined the terms of the debate over every issue. They have done this not through the use of overwhelming logic, or science, or even conservative philosophy. Conservative America has set the rules of political discourse by setting the emotional tone of civil discourse. The key tool they have used has been the use of emotionally charged language.

A very obvious example of this is on the issue of reproductive rights. The conservatives in the early 1980's were just learning the tricks of language, but they were already showing potential. They decided that those who were opposed to legal abortions were to be labeled "pro-life". Think about it: who wants to be anti-life? Who wants to be pro-death? The conservatives framed the debate with emotionally charged language. Of course today, this would be mild. Were this debate to be taking place today, the conservative turn of phrase might be "pro-baby" or even "anti-infanticide". The words "baby" and "infanticide" bring up stronger emotions for us than "life" or "choice".

We see this kind of language being used today in the debate over health care. Conservatives use phrases like "socialized medicine" and "government takeover", and "death panels". The fact that these phrases are factually inaccurate MEANS NOTHING. The progressive response to this sort of rhetoric has been to calmly and coolly explain the facts and figures involved without the use of emotionally charged rhetoric. These tactics fail utterly. Why? Because no matter how much you reassure me of the rationality of your system, who wants a "government takeover"? Who wants to agree with a "dangerous radical" or a "unabashed Stalinist"? In fact, the progressive can be perceived as cold and uncaring by responding to an emotional plea in a stoic manner. The key to progressives retaking the debate is to re-inject emotion into progressive language.

When a progressive speaker is asked why he is "turning the country into Russia" and "destroying the constitution" with his "government takeover", there is no need to explain why this is not the case. We must appeal to emotion with emotion, rhetoric with rhetoric.

We are pursuing a policy of healing those Americans who do not have the means to heal themselves. There are greedy elitists who would have you believe that caring for your fellow American is un-patriotic. You have been lied to. Why? So that these men can continue to take advantage of their fellow Americans for personal gain. Our founding fathers swore to each other "their lives their fortunes, and their sacred honor". Today, greedy powerful men would have you believe that to have any love or empathy for Americans is somehow wrong. This is also a carefully constructed lie. Benjamin Franklin is famous for saying that "if we don't hang together, we will surely hang separately". I believe Americans understand this, and want to hang together, and to be a shining example for the rest of the world, to guarantee freedom for ALL Americans, regardless of their economic status. The freedom from illness is a RIGHT not just for the rich, but for all Americans, not because we are lazy, but BECAUSE we have worked so hard, and shed our blood, sweat and tears for the priciples of this country.

This is the sort of political language that is needed today.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

One more reason to avoid processed foods...

It seems that daily, I learn something new about the horror that is today's food industry. I will not dedicate this article to the horrors of industrial livestock, exploitation of farmers through the use of non-fertile/patented GMO crops, or the absurd political influence of agribusiness. Instead, I will focus on one new abomination that I learned about today.

One way in which chemical companies create lye is to pump salts through vats of mercury, or through mercury membranes. A similar process is used to create caustic soda, and hydrochloric acid. As a result, traces of mercury remain in the final product. New plants have sprung up throughout the country to create more of these substances, as there has been an increased demand for them. Where is this extra demand coming from? Corn refiners. Apparently these chemicals are used to separate the corn starch from the kernel. I think you can see where this is leading.

In the January edition of Environmental Health (a peer reviewed academic journal), a study of samples of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) were analyzed for possible contamination with mercury. Of 20 samples tested, 9 contained detectable levels of mercury, with one sample as high as 0.570 μg mercury/g HFCS. Since the average American consumes 50 g/day of mercury, this would lead to an average daily exposure of over 25 μg of mercury per day from this source alone. The FDA has not investigated further, saying that the mercury was largely in its less easily absorbed elemental form, and not the more dangerous and more easily absorbed organic form. To date, there has been no explanation as to where that data comes from, as the FDA has not provided its own testing results, and the above article did not make this distinction. With the political power currently wielded by agribusiness corn companies and corn refiners, it is unlikely we will see any further action.

If increased obesity and risk of diabetes were not enough reason to keep you from HFCS, here is yet another reason. Mercury is a neurotoxin, and children and pregnant women especially should avoid any exposure to mercury whenever possible.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Movie Review 2 of 2: Funny People

Funny People is a dark(ish) comedy starring Seth Rogan (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and Adam Sandler (Adam Sandler movies). The plot revolves around the impending death of a remarkably Adam Sandler-like comedy movie star, who finds out he has leukemia. As he begins his downward spiral of self-destruction, he finds Seth Rogan's character, who is remarkably Seth Roganesque, and hires him to be his personal assistant/joke writer. Rogan learns from Sandler, Sandler learns from Rogan, there's girls involved, Sandler finds out he is going to live, they learn the importance of loving themselves, cue sappy upbeat music.

First of all, I love Adam Sandler. I love Little Nicky, I love that golf movie, the go back to school movie, The Waterboy, whatever. Also, I have been pretty impressed by his more dramatic roles, specifically Punch Drunk Love and Spanglish.

I feel the same way about Seth Rogan. In addition, I like the fact that he is willing to explore the relationships between men in a way that no other director/producer has. So I was PSYCHED for seeing them together.

There was nothing. It was Righteous Kill all over again. In my head I was singing "This is what its like when worlds collide!" but this was more what its like when you add vinegar to baking soda. Whatever chemistry each one has on their own must cancel out when they are together. It just fizzled in the same non-impressive way that a third grade baking soda volcano does.

There are a few bright spots though: There's a good deal of inside Jew-jokes, and references to day camps. Eric Bana turns in a very witty performance as the husband of Sandler's "one that got away". Also, as in all Seth Rogan films, there is some very funny witty banter. So overall, this movie was merely disappointing, not Click.

This one I would NOT run to the theaters for. Save it for DVD night. Look forward to that DVD night, but don't set your expectations too high.

Monday, August 3, 2009

This weekend's movies, 1 of 2: 500 Days of Summer

I am attempting to write something akin to actual movie reviews. Criticism is appreciated.

500 Days of Summer is a romantic comedy featuring Zoey Deschanel (Weeds, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) as Summer Finn and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (long-haired kid from Third Rock From the Sun) as Tom Hansen. The movie chronicles 500 days of the stormy relationship between Summer and Tom. This is not a spoiler. You are let to know (actually before the movie even really starts) in not so subtle ways that this will not be a Sleepless in Seattle-style heartwarming puppydog love story. As the movie says very clearly, while this is a story about love, it is not a love story. The basic premise is that Tom is a romantic who believes in love, soul-mates, and all that goes along with it, while Summer believes in being young, independent, and having fun. It becomes clear that Tom is changing her mind with regards to the subject of love, but you're never quite sure just how much.

Joseph Gordon Levitt is absolutely wonderful in this movie. You are elated as he bursts into song in a parody of every "I love her" musical number you've ever seen. You are crushed when he is. Levitt manages to portray surprising depth in a character which could easily become a goofy one dimensional man-confused-by-woman, ala Hugh Grant. Luckily, the movie is told mostly from his point of view.

Zoey Deschanel's character fell flat for me. She did a remarkably good job of playing the quirky, bubbly, fun times not-girlfriend, but struggled to bring the character any real depth. On day 500, a pivotal scene in the movie, she is given a lot of space to bring something to her character, but the scene falls flat. Her quirky good looks, however are perfect for the role.

For the cinema geeks out there, there are some pretty interesting aspects to this film. Time lines are fluid and hop back and forth in a way that feels intuitive. There is extensive use of blending of multiple media types, especially pencil-style sketching in order to more crisply evoke emotion. Lastly there is an absolutely wonderful montage in which a split-screen is used to depict the difference between expectations and reality.

I won't do stars or thumbs up. What I will say is that this is worth ten bucks to go see now. Not on a first date though. In fact, not on a date with anyone you haven't been with for a while.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Posto Numero Uno

So I decided to write a blog. I've always had a very vague aspiration to write a book, or a magazine article, or a primer on the linguistic development of ancient Sumatra. I think that one needs to write in order to make this happen as well.

So what will this blog be about?





-Wild projects


-Great ideas

-French left-handed artists of the 17th century

Thats about it. My plan is to post at least once a day. Subscribe. Be a pal.

No seriously.

Don't be a jerk.