P90X2TotalBodyCurls are so boring, right? You grab the heaviest weights you can manage, you keep your elbow in one position, hold your body steady, power that weight to your shoulder, and then lower it deliberately. What a terrible workout. Fortunately, Tony Horton has figured out a clever remedy for those boring biceps workouts. You simply stand on one leg and lean forward until your torso and lifted leg are both parallel to the ground. Then do the curl. 

This is called "Warrior 3 Curl," and it's the sixth move on the P90X2 Total Body DVD. With this video you get to modify many of your favorite moves. Tired of doing Push-Up Side Arm Balance? Why not do those push-ups with your hands on top of medicine balls?

Warrior3Yes, you get some amount of a strength workout with this video, but it's more of a balance workout than anything else. At the end of the Triceps Kickback on Stability Ball, I felt more work in my abductors and obliques than in my arms. It's hard work though, and the name of the workout is quite accurate.

 

SnowRunToday I enjoyed my first barefoot run of 2012. I also enjoyed my last barefoot run of the 2011/12 winter. I didn't mind the big chunks of ice-melt salt on the trail. In fact, I didn't even feel it. As you might have guessed, I didn't feel much of anything in my feet after the first minute. 

Walking to the car, the temperature felt pleasant. Today got to about 38° -- warm enough to melt most of the snow on the hillside next to the trail. Unfortunately, all that runoff from the melting snow left the pavement extremely wet. Splashing through that runoff made the dry parts of the trail feel like paradise. Right after a quarter mile of puddles I got to my turn-around point and had to splash back through. Ugh.

I had fun though. It's good to get out. Depending on how much snow we get in the next few weeks, I might even consider getting shoes!

One note about the picture on the left -- I took that pic after my run. If you look closely, you'll see the toes on my left foot are curled under. It took about an hour before I could straighten them out. I can't wait for summer.

FoamRollerI can be a real ass about stretching. I'm self-aware enough to recognize that. I've worked really hard the last few years to get flexible, and I believe that I started with some natural advantage in this area. I've always been reasonably limber for a guy. But here's part of the reason I'm an ass – one time in yoga class I was really working a pigeon pose. I had everything cranking and it felt like my hip was in a vice. My face twisted and sneered. My breath hissed between my clenched teeth.

That's when the instructor (Brett Russman, I mentioned him earlier) knelt down next to me and said – "The stretch is in your hip. Relax your face and slow your breathing, D-Nozz." I added the D-Nozz, he never said that part. It's short for douche nozzle.

Anyway, what's my point? Oh yeah, my point is that I enjoy stretching, but I can be a real ass about it. I tend to roll my eyes when people hiss, and sneer, and bitch. That's P90X2 Day 3 in a nutshell – lots of stretching and growing. It's fun if you enjoy that kind of thing. Bonne Chance!

RubberTireLast week your mom told me about a movie -- "Rubber." This movie has it all:

Psychokinesis

Sentient Auto Parts

Trashy Motels with Swimming Pools

Mock Contempt of the Proxy Audience

Shotguns

Dyn-O-mite!

A Sentient Tricycle

Fourth Wall Annihilation

It was written and directed by Quentin Depieux, whom you may remember from absolutely nothing. The description sucked me right in. SPOILER ALERT! Don't read the next line if you want to be surprised when you sit down with your big bowl of popcorn.

RubberHead"A sentient tire rolls through the desert, using the power of its mind to make small animals -- and human heads explode."

Did you read the spoiler? You might as well; there's no chance in hell that you're going to watch this movie. I did though, and I enjoyed it. It's refreshing to see a movie where the director wants you to love him while he's telling you that he hates you. Not you, actually, he might not hate you. He only hates the dumb audience, the too young audience, the too intellectual audience, the greedy audience, and the demanding audience. Assuming that you don't fall into one of those categories, perhaps he doesn't hate you.

I watched it on Showtime, but I see that it's now on Netflix (watch instantly or disk) as well. Check it out if you like. You won't. Say hi to your mom for me.

 

It turns out that passing out is easy; Plyocide is hard. Tom said it's just because Plyocide is new – we'll get used to it – but I'm not so sure. Sure, the original Plyometrics seemed really difficult when I started, and now it seems pretty straightforward, but this workout made me gasp and gulp for air.

P90X2PlyocideThe warmup is a big chunk of time. Like the Core on day 1, you begin with stretches and self-massage with the foam roller. He once again implores you to pause and do the stretches for real. They certainly don't give you much time with any one body part. So, even though you've spent ten minutes, it didn't feel like I'd really done justice to the foam roller technique.

When the workout starts, you know it right away. I struggled in the first set of moves. Everything is new – you won't see any of the exercises from the first version of Plyometrics. These moves make you react fast and stay on your toes. My peak heartrate topped out at 183 BPM, which is a little higher than I'd like. In fact, according to many popular estimations, it's higher than the theoretical maximum number of times my heart should beat in a given minute. You get plenty of water breaks (four, I think), but they're short, and there are many times where the back-to-back exercises left me light-headed. 

At the end, I'd burned over 800 calories. I just checked back through my diary, and that makes it the most number of calories I've burned in an hour in the past year. Hopefully, by the end of P90X2 I'll be as comfortable with Plyocide as I am with the original Plyometrics.

 

Today we began P90X2. It's the sequel to the popular P90X exercise regime. In the first version, Phase 1 starts with a strength day. In the sequel, Phase 1 is all about core strengthening, so the first day is just Core.

apple-coreWarmup – instead of just static and ballistic stretches, you do this whole thing with a stability ball and roller. You don't spend enough time to really do these stretches. A person could spend an entire hour on this section just to really work some issues out. It's self-inflicted Rolfing, and it's painful, but you're not going to get it done in 6 minutes.

The workout starts slow, but hard. You're always balancing, always stretching. These moves are not about isolation, they're about integration. In the first P90X, each move would target one or two muscles and you'd work it hard. In this program, you're always on one leg, or propped up on a stability ball, or gripping a medicine ball. It's an hour's worth of just trying to stay upright. Even when you think you've got the hang of a move, you look up at the screen and realize that you're only doing it half right.

By the end I'd burned 650 calories and I could hardly catch my breath. I don't feel like I really thoroughly worked any one muscle, but I suspect that I'll be sore in some interesting new places two days from now.

Recently, your mom told me about fish. Specifically, the fish on the carpet under this coffee table. What happens is this – you interleave different phases of fish swimming and then you have a slatted coffee table so you only see one "frame" of the animation at a time. Then, when you walk around, the fish appear to swim. It's just a really well-planned optical illusion.

spockmoire

What I like so much about this is that it could have been made at any time. I don't know when this technique was first invented, but there's nothing terribly complex about it. They could have made awesome animated carpets back in ancient Egypt.

spockconsoleThe oldest example of this animation that I can remember was from Star Trek. Spock had an awesome display where the pattern constantly shifted with black and white waves coming out from the center of a circle. This is another example of a moiré animation. There must have been an ancient example.

My favorite inventions by Leonardo Da Vinci were his clockwork lions. He made three of them for French royalty. They did things like rear up and then open, to display lillies. The most complex one could walk, swing its head and tail, and bare its fangs. These were all built in the early 1500's. I can hardly imagine the time and creativity required to build such a thing. 

In the late 80's, I got an early graphing calculator. I spent hours and hours and hours programming that thing to make a game on it. My first game was artillery. You'd take turns with your partner trying to figure out the angle and power to shoot a cannon over a mountain and hit the other person's base. Compared to all the computers we had lying around, writing this game for a calculator was like trying to dig a canal with a teaspoon, but it was a fun diversion. I wonder if Da Vinci could have pulled it off?

 

Self publishing is a giant signal to agents, critics, publishing companies, and readers that your work is no good. Once you've printed your book through a Vanity Press, everyone knows that your writing couldn't stand up to the scrutiny and high standards employed by the industry.

VivCover2This seems to be changing with the growth of electronic publishing and the ease with which any author can make their work available. But while making it easier has allowed many legitimate authors to choose that route, it has also allowed lots of valueless work out into the marketplace. There are no enforced standards for spelling, grammar, pace, formatting, and cover aesthetics if anyone with access to a computer can publish whatever their fingers can puke into a keyboard.

So, here's my plan: I'm going to "publish" several more novels to Amazon while I continue to pursue the old-school, traditional publishing routes. My goal is to present the potential reader with lots of options at a very low price, and hope to lure them into an impulse buy. Then, assuming my novels are entertaining enough, they'll be inclined to buy one or more other books from me. Of course, I'll be limited to people who'll read eBooks, but there are more and more of those every second. Hopefully this holiday season will bring a lot more Kindles to people. 

Stay tuned – I'll probably publish Debunking the Lies of the Prophets by March of 2012. Happy vanity!

 

 

the vivisectionist-thumbBack in April 2008, I decided I wanted to try writing a novel. I had a story in my head that I called "Empty Hotel." It only took me a few months to grind out a first draft, but it took years to turn it into something that I thought I could publish. I learned a ton during that process, and I've learned even more since. 

Do me a favor? Take a look at that first novel. It's now called "The Vivisectionist," and you can buy it on Amazon for Kindle. Just click here and be sure to rate & review it when you're done. Thanks!

SeattleRoom1You know how when you check into your hotel room, it's never as big/roomy/deluxe as the picture?

"It said 'Mini-Kitchen,'" one exclaims. "Since when does 'Mini-Kitchen' equal a one-cup coffee maker on the room's only table?"

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice enough room. It's just not nearly as super-extra-cool as the website purports. One nice thing: it's right down the street from the University of Washington, which means you have plenty of opportunity to watch gloomy Seattle college students trudging up the street under the load of enormous backpacks. Good times.

SeattleRoom2Well, regardless of whether you like the size & fanciness of your room, one thing you probably don't expect is that the managemet has corralled a herd of angry buffalo directly above your room. I'm pretty sure that's what the occupants of room 113 thought today. 

I checked into room 213, and I did what anyone would:

  1. I carefully unpacked my clothes.
  2. I took inventory of what was ready-to-wear, and what needed ironing after the trip.
  3. I read about the local amenities.
  4. I moved some furniture around.
  5. I did sixty minutes of Plyometrics (which is high-intensity jump training).

Turns out that the floors are not quite as thick and soundproof as I thought. With each jump, the floor squeaked and squealed. With each landing, I could hear the echoing thud in the room below me. You're supposed to try to land as softly as possible, so it's good that I was aware of the noise & trying to be quiet. But once I started really sweating (another great thing to do in your hotel room), I started to care less and less about the people below.

SeattleRoom3At first, I was distracted by the mirror directly behind me, but it turned out to be fun. I noticed some parts of the workout where my form was really lazy and sloppy. Perhaps I'll put mirrors up all over my house.

Oh, and I should mention, some people (Celeste) have been asking why I came out to Seattle this weekend.

 

Subcategories

Reclusion - the state of being separated from society, but this word carries the connotation that the separation is a chosen way of life. 

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