It's always good to learn new things. In fact, I learned a new word today. My word of the day is this:


Do you know what it means? I'll use it in a sentence: "You, sir, have an Inguinal hernia." This was, of course, not the news I'd hoped for. I went to the doctor because of the fancy new squishy lump in my lower abdomen, but I'd hoped that he would say something more like: "Congratulations! It seems you've won the fancy new squishy lump lottery! That lump entitles you to fifteen unsupervised minutes in our Squishy Lump Prize Closet®!"

InguinalHerniaAt that point, I thought I'd get to go home with an adorable jellyfish or something. Inguinal hernia wasn't even fourth on the list of things I'd hoped to get from P90X.

As you can tell, I'm blaming this all on P90X. Nevermind that 27% of men will get them1 (and I'm sure a far small percent of men do P90X); my hernia came from doing four workouts in one day: Cardio X; Plyometrics; Chest, Shoulders, and Tri; and the aptly named Ab Ripper X. It would be awesome to know if my abdomen actually ripped during Ab Ripper X. 

I'm including a medically accurate picture so you'll know what my hernia actually looks like. Don't worry, I've blurred out the dirty stuff.

It should have been obvious that I was headed for some sort of injury. For my second round of P90X I decided to do "doubles," where you add a cardio routine on all the strength days. The Thursday before my hernia, I decided to do Chest and Back, Plymetrics, Cardio, and Abs. By the end, I was a little sloppy. 

Read the next blog "Okay, Just a Little Pin Prick" to see how the surgery turned out.

As you work your way through P90X the second time, spend the extra effort to seek out these little bonus moments. A lot of people incorrectly assume that they're mistakes in the videos. They're actually tiny presents to you, for you to discover and cherish as you sweat all over them. I'll catalogue some of them here to get you started.

  1. Ab Ripper X / It's a Numbers Game... Pfeiffer Scissors are awesome. All you have to do is lie on your back, hold one leg straight up, hold the other leg an inch from the floor, and CHANGE WHEN YOU HEAR THE NUMBER ONLY. They're simple instructions that he repeats after the third repetition – "Don't change without the number." You might have a small problem when you get to seventeen, since he refuses to SAY THE NUMBER. On fourteen they had the courtesy to overdub. Tony's voice comes in and says, "Fourteen," without his lips moving. Bonus!
  2. Ab Ripper X / Magic Knees... Near the end you have a choice between Upward Dog or Cobra pose to stretch your stomach. As he describes it, you can do, "Upward Dog – knees on; Cobra – knees down." You might wonder, if Cobra is knees down, then what is the "on" in Upward Dog? The answer should be obvious. If you want to do Upward Dog, you should put your knees "on" the air just above your mat. Bonus!
  3. Legs & Back / Stretchy Shawna... During the stretches, you often get to meet Shawna-Backthe participants. In "Legs & Back," you find out that Shawna's teeth look like Chiclets because she's studying to be a dentist. That seems like an insult; shouldn't really good looking teeth look like ... teeth? What kind of terrible dentist would make your teeth look like gum? Doesn't gum promote tooth decay? Is she studying to be the one dentist out of five that doesn't recommend Trident? Anyway, you get two nice camera angles during this conversation and they switch back and forth. Shawna-FrontWhen seen from her right, Shawna's arms are behind her back. When seen a second later from her left, her arms have migrated to the front. This is NOT disingenuous editing. In fact, Shawna is so stretchy, that she actually stretches her arms enough for them to pop through from the back to the front. Bonus!
  4. Legs & Back / Trust Us... Everyone knows that math is hard. One of the great things about P90X is that you don't have to pay attention to the math on most of the exercises. Tony counts for you, so you can just sweat. When you're doing twenty reps of something hard, like "Sneaky Lunges," the last thing you want to do is to waste any mental capacity on counting. You'll be busy doing several other things: staying on the balls of your feet; trying to get the timing right when Tony stops telling you what to do; leaning forward without resting your whole rib-cage on your thigh; and "adding the arms." It may feel like a betrayal when you realize that Tony has told you repeatedly to do twenty of these lunges, and then he coaches you through twenty-two. Think of it this way: ten percent extra, FREE with the box set! Bonus!
  5. Core Synergistics / Recovery Disambiguation... The word "recovery" can mean a lot of different things. In P90X, there's one thing it certainly DOESN'T mean: rest. Recovery week in P90X is a brand new opportunity to get your butt kicked by several workouts. Two of the days in recovery week are dedicated to Core Synergistics, which means "Of (or relating to) exercising your core so hard that your entire body weeps." A lot of people misinterpret this weeping to be sweat. Those same people also misinterpret "core" to mean "the area around your trunk and pelvis." In P90X, working the core means: A) Several types of bizarre pushups; B) Weight-bearing lunges; C) Table Dip / Leg Raise; D) Low Lateral Skaters; and more; and more. The first time you do Recovery Week you'll be tempted to think that there's been some kind of mistake. Just don't plan on recovering anything except a new found appreciation for Advil. Bonus!
  6. Core Synergistics / Think Fast... Do me a favor? Say this phrase as fast as you absolutely can: "Mini-break, break's over." Did you say it in less than a second? Did you leave any audible gap between the "k" (in break) and the "b" (in break's)? If the answer is yes, please try again. If you can make "breakbreak's" sound like one word, then you've recreated what Tony says in "Lunge-Kickback-Curl-Press" at about 1:04 left. This is a three minute, nineteen second exercise. I think it's generous of Tony to give everyone a microsecond mini-break before going on to the next lunge. Bonus!
  7. Core Synergistics / How insulting... Twice during the Core Synergistics routine, Tony reminds you to keep your core muscles "taunt." During the lunge and reach he says, "Keep them slightly taunt. That is the key." We know from other videos that Tony has a problem with conjugations and verb agreement. He says things like "It's all about, what? Doing your best, and forget the rest." So, perhaps he means for your to keep your core muscles slight taunted. It's fun to ridicule your muscles while you work them, try it! Bonus!
  8. Kenpo X / Broke... If you're like me, you love the breaks in Kenpo X. There's no better way to take a break from aerobic exercise than to jog in place, jump rope, jump jacks, and then execute "X-style" jumping jacks. Those "X-style" ones are the ones where you jump completely off the ground and make your body into a big X. Very complicated if you're battling to keep your heartrate under 200 bpm. Tony does give you a break from the break though. After the second set of Kenpo X moves, he says you're going to do ten X jacks, but then after number five he says "three more." It's almost comforting to realize that they didn't correct this mistake. It would have been easy to edit in a repeat of two of them to round out the ten, but instead, they leave it at eight. For me, it strengthens the illusion that the video was done in one take. Bonus!
  9. Yoga X / Simon Didn't Say... There's a great moment before the first Runner's Pose of Yoga X. SimonDidntSayEveryone has a leg up in the air for quite a while before Tony notices. He kinda suggests that they swing their leg through to Runner's Pose, but he wasn't really clear. I love to watch them – everyone's got their downward-dog on, they've got their right leg in their air, seconds pass, then tens of seconds, Tony's yammering on about something. Meanwhile, at home, you've realized quite a while ago that you should be in Runner's Pose, so you're just watching the screen with a big smile. Even Adam (the dancer; the wildman; the guy with 0.5% bodyfat) is starting to waiver a little before Tony turns around and sees that the "kids" haven't caught on yet. If you're looking for a little extra challenge in your Yoga X, see if you can make it to the kitchen and back (for a low fat treat, perhaps) before Tony relents and lets his "peeps" swing their legs through. Bonus!
  10. Yoga X / Balance and Trickery... After thirty minutes of doing the same thing over and over, it's easy to shut off your brain and fall into the pattern. That's why after raising a leg and swinging it through a dozen times, Tony says "We're going to do something a little special," before he has you "exhale the knee to the forehead." This is during a downward dog, of course. Notice he doesn't say your knee; he says the knee. It would be absurd for you to somehow "exhale" your own knee to your forehead during downward dog. On a good day, I'm lucky if I can exhale a knee at all, let alone to my own forehead. That's not even the weirdest part about this exercise. If, at thirty minutes in, you're somehow alert enough to pay attention, you'll see that you'll do the right side three times, and the left only twice. It even sounds like there's a rough edit here, but the countdown clock moves seamlessly, so I'm sure it's not just a problem with the DVD. You can use that extra time you would have spent on the third knee to the forehead to think about what you can't afford (calorie-wise) to have for lunch. Bonus!

Well, I'm sure you've found plenty of other "bonus" moments, but those are my top ten. If yours isn't listed here, write it in below. Bonus!

First, kudos to your mom for being so aware of the latest trends. This week she should have told you about You listen to music on your computer, right? While you work? C'mon, everybody does, it's okay. Well, Abe has come up with a great way to listen socially. With ListeningRoom you create a room and then upload your own music. After you get a nice selection of trax up there, send your link to your friends. Guests are totally allowed; you don't have to go create yet another login if you don't want to. In fact, if you don't sign in, it creates a name for you.

Once you're connected (either by creating a room, or joining one in progress), you can upload mp3's from your library. If multiple people are contributing, the site alternates by playing a song from one person and then another. This is a great opportunity to sort your iTunes by "Time" so you can guarantee a lot of time for your own stuff. I like to add "A Passion Play" by Jethro Tull, which clocks in at 44:58. Rush and Yes also have some great 20 minute toe-tappers.

As your song plays away you can watch as David U. Libby frantically uploads all of his Scandinavian-emo-waif songs in the hopes that one of them will get played this hour (it won't). There are a couple of rules: you can't play more than two tracks in a row from the same album, or three in the same hour. Something like that, anyway, I wasn't really paying attention. You can figure out the rules for yourself as you play around with it. Unlike some things, it's fun on its own, but best when with others.

Anyway, your mom told me about that and I thought you should know. By the way: say hi to your mother for me.

I don't mean to be snarky and rude, but... 

Wait, that's a terrible way to start because I started with a lie. In fact, I do mean to be a little snarky and rude. This is a Blog; snarky and rude are requirements. Here's my point:

I don't care that my dog just farted.BrunoSmall

It's like you're telling me that "sometimes the moon is visible during the day," or "pleated-front khakis are an abomination." These are all things that everyone already knows. What's the point in announcing that you've smelled a dog fart? Did you expect that if you didn't say anything everyone would assume it was you? Did you think that this is practical knowledge that I might need in order to better care for my dog? Are you worried that you'll drop into analphylactic (get it?) shock, and the only way to save your life will be for me to say to the paramedic:

"By the way, this person JUST SMELLED A DOG FART."

At which point the rescuer will congratulate me – "Thank goodness you mentioned that. You probably just saved this person's life."

And I'll have to admit – "Well, they have themselves to thank. I'm so glad they announced that to the room!"

Do you have a child? If so, then at some point you had a child running around with actual poop strapped to them in a skin-tight poop harness. Should I have mentioned it when that smelled? Yes, probably, because it would be a direct call to action for you. Poop smell + child = actionable information. Dog + fart = OMG, maybe if you wait all of 20 seconds, it will dissipate and life will return to normal.

It's almost like you're accusing me of being a bad dog caregiver, or accusing the dog of being a bad dog. Truth be told, no lie, the dogs almost never fart. They mostly do it when we have guests over; probably from the extra excitement or stress of having guests over. It's really your fault. So, sincerely, thank you. Don't mention it. Really.

P90XSmoking1Tony mentions smoking twice in P90X. Both times he's doing some sort of squats. The first mention is during Plyometrics, where he says something like "Dont' get too relaxed here; don't go smoke a cigarette." His hand is slightly out of frame when he says this (see the picture on the left), but trust me, he's miming a cigarette in his hand. 

P90XSmoking2The second mention is during the Legs & Back workout when you're doing the "Groucho Walk." To complete the Groucho Walk (see the picture on the right), you hold your hand up like you're smoking a cigar.

I think that Tony equates squatting with smoking. I imagine that Tony grew up in a very strict household with very dirty toiletseats. His one form of rebellion: Bathroom Smoking. But who could stand the thought of actually resting your buttocks on that sticky, smelly seat? Tony was doomed to hover over the seat, in an extended squat with the fan running full-speed and a cigarette blazing between his fingers. Now he shares his dirty bathroom obsession with people who just want to get a good workout.

squat-toilet-warningI'm glad that Tony has this weird smoking, bathrooming, squatting fettish. It makes for a really thorough quadriceps burn. It probably wouldn't be considered a good workout in most of the world though. Think of all the people in China who squat even lower than this every time they need to go. They'd laugh at Tony for only being able to squat for sixty seconds at a time. 

Actually, we should all be squatting to go "number two." Health problems attributed to sit-down toilets include hemorrhoids, Crohn's disease, and colon cancer. I read somewhere that Jimmy Carter hasn't sat on a toilet seat since the late 70's, when his excruciating hemorrhoids required surgery. I wish I could figure out where I read that. What the hell was I doing reading about Jimmy Carter's hemorrhoids?

Here's something your mom told me about – Google Hangouts. I know, this is old news, but I figure that if she hasn't told you about it, maybe nobody has.

Here's what you do:

  1. Get someone to invite you to Google+ (which is just like facebook, but nobody you know is on there, so it's a ton less self-centered)
  2. Create a circle (there is no "naked clown pics" circle by default, so if you want one, you have to make it)
  3. Start a Hangout (it's dirtier than it sounds, but not dirty enough)

That's it, you're done. Now you can video chat with tons of people for absolutely no reason at all. Why? Why not?

It works pretty well. When someone talks their image jumps to the large screen. The audio sounds good. I hear that facebook/Skype is trying to play catchup as quickly as possible. You'd better use it now, while people still care.

You ever think about what you're eating? I try not to; it's too scary. You've got this incredibly complex machine that runs on an enormous variety of fuels, and nobody has any idea what the best one is. You've got a million choices all the time and your entire life depends on it, but nobody can tell you the perfect thing to eat.

Everyone has a theory though. Think about how much data and how much control you'd need to exert to really study the issue. Perhaps if you had a few thousand subjects and you placed each one on a different diet for sixty to ninety years, you could come up with a good, definitive answer. I can imagine the platitudes now – just don't stress about it; eat to live; everything in moderation, including moderation. But this is your life, your entire being. We should have a better understanding. The approach that makes most sense to me is to back up and think of how we evolved. Consider only what's natural, and eat that. There's a problem with that approach though – we didn't evolve to eat fruits, vegetables, and animals that were produced using chemical fertilizers and factory farming. Even our basic foodstuffs are tainted.

kalamatasI'd like to share with you a couple of my favorite foods. These are not my favorite things to eat, just my favorite foods. I like Kalamta olives, but I will not eat them anymore. I've been fooled by them too many times. The word "Pitted" on the label should be in quotes. In fact, the federal government should step in and DEMAND that they put quotes around "Pitted." I guarantee that in every single jar of "Pitted" olives that Pastene has shipped, they've included at least three Surprise!Pit!Shards®. It's like a game you play with your teeth. Olive, olive, olive, olive, olive, Surprise!Pit!Shard®. Yay! You found it – now off to the dentist with you!

girl-scoutNext, I present Edy's Slow Churned, Rich & Creamy, Limited Edition, Girl Scouts®, Samoas, Cookie, Light Ice Cream. Look closely, the "Light Ice Cream" part kinda fades into the background to the right. There's a reason for that – this tastes as much like Ice Cream as the Kalamata Pits do. I have it on good authority that it wasn't a legislative or regulatory body which stepped in and demanded that Edy's downplay any similarity to ice cream. It was the board of the company who decided that they had a moral obligation to make the claim of "Ice Cream" the smallest feature on the label. They just couldn't sleep at night otherwise.

popcornMy FAVORITE favorite is off-brand popcorn. Namely: Shur fine, Movie Theater Style popcorn with Xtra Butter. 

popcornIngredientsIf you take the time to read the ingredients, there's nothing butter-ish about this popcorn, unless you count the "Natural Flavor." When it comes to labelling, I like to think that the word "Butter" is such an absurd abstraction that nobody bothers to enforce that it have any meaning. You could probably produce salsa and drop a "with Xtra Butter!" on the label, and the FDA would turn a blind eye. What they won't let you get away with is the word "Extra." You don't need butter to claim "Butter," but you better damn well not claim your product has "Extra" anything. Use the meaningless "Xtra" unless you want to get fined into oblivion.

Take a look at this picture. What's this Home Depot shopper doing?

Let's make this multiple choice:hdcustomer

  1. She's carefully reading the instructions on the side of a box to make sure that she has the skill and tools needed to install/use the merchandise.
  2. She's comparing the features of two different brands to see which most closely meets her requirements.
  3. She's stealing two of the "interlocking double-helix side vernacular screws" because you can't buy them individually and the box she has at home was missing them.

Of course you know that the answer is 3. She'll steal those two screws and then the next customer will have to come back to steal two, until eventually someone gets fed up and just returns the incomplete merchandise. That's when logic takes over because a Home Depot employee gets involved. Unlike a stupid customer, the HD employee won't just put the incomplete box back on the shelf for the next unsuspecting purchaser. No, the HD employees are much more sophisticated. They'll carefully take inventory of the box (this is accomplished by scanning the barcode with lasers), then they'll close the box, put tape on the box, and ONLY THEN will they put the incomplete box back on the shelf for the next unsuspecting purchaser.

hdproThis is why people don't treat HD like a store. People treat the Depot like a potential store. Any of the things inside might potentially be merchandise, but one must not assume. It's common to walk through Home Depot and see someone picking through an entire shelf of potential merchandise looking for one item good enough to buy. People camp out near the bundles of 2x4's, waiting for an employee to cut the steel straps so they can pick through 1024 boards to find one that's straight. It won't be straight by the time they get it home, but the dream of a straight 2x4 is enough for some.

Walk into a Home Depot and it's like you're auditioning everything there to see if it will be purchasable. That's okay though, at the same time Home Depot is auditioning you to see if you're good enough to be a customer. They have signs on all the best parking lots designating them for "Pro Customer Parking." What are they going to do if any old schmoe parks there? Arrest them? Tow? I figure I'm a "Pro" just because I've figured out shopping there is generally a bad idea. 

Remember animated GIFs?

They used to be terrible – mostly used to show that your site was under construction.


Now they're frequently used to bring you cat-oriented lulz.slideintroastrollp1 Well, fortunately, someone came along and decided to turn this useless technology cul de sac into an artform.

Check out the animated GIFs by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg. They're featured in an article on Gawker, and they explain the process on The Atlantic

Your mom told me about this back in April, but I figured you were still too busy to check it out so I thought I'd remind you. Here are a couple that I ripped off so you wouldn't have to bother to click.



I had this friend, back in junior high, named Matt Bryant (his real name was Matt Bryant). He was (is?) a phenominal musician. He loved to go to the library and pull out the microfiches for old issues of Rolling Stone and other rock review magazines. It was cool to go back to 1969 and find out what jagoffs like John Mendelsohn thought about Led Zeppelin 1. The critics always hate the really good bands when they first come out.

Rolling Stone took a long time to make their album reviews usable online, but now they've gotten it right. Check out their archive of reviews. It's hard to search, but you can find the real gems if you look:

f70b63a716e9f1688384c66f39752a49c67af1f6John Mendelsohn's review of Led Zeppelin 1

Here's a tidbit: "In their willingness to waste their considerable talent on unworthy material the Zeppelin has produced an album which is sadly reminiscent of Truth. Like the Beck group they are also perfectly willing to make themselves a two- (or, more accurately, one-a-half) man show. It would seem that, if they're to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention."


This review came out in March of 1969, so your mom had plenty of time to tell me about it.


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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