Archive for September, 2010

Working out, exercise.

A guy named Mark Rippetoe once said, “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.” I’ve found this to be true, not just in my military experiences, but in life generally.

I’m not talking about powerlifters. I’m talking about people who could help me move all my boxes of books without hurting themselves. People who could grab the A pillar of my car when I forget to put on the brake and keep it from rolling away while I do.

Nor am I talking about marathon runners. I’m talking about people who could run up five flights of stairs and tell me the building’s on fire without losing consciousness in the middle of the critical sentence. People who could take the scout troop on a hike or a bike ride and not get left behind.

Like the man said, ‘more useful in general.’

Where are these people? I look around and it seems there are fewer everyday.

In fact, the US is finally emerging from a long awkward period where, in the collective consciousness, being ‘in shape’ meant being either a powerlifter or a marathon runner. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a powerlifter or a marathon runner. The problem was not with the disciplines themselves. The problem was that people grew up thinking that anything different or less focused was not worthwhile. The concept of simply being in the kind of shape that would allow you to do a lot of varied physical work was lost. If you didn’t want to be a boulder or a stick figure, exercising was not for you. We are the poorer for it.

There’s a new movement out there that focuses on ‘capacity for work’ when it comes to exercising. It stresses the right things, in my opinion, and can be scaled to any desired level of intensity. Alas, I fear that my generation may largely be lost to it.

Working out under this school of thought is still hard. Varied work doesn’t mean easy work. The deal with the wall is still the same: “You hit the wall and the wall moves back an inch. Repeat.” The varied routines and exercises are more interesting to work through, but you still have to fight through the suck if you want to improve.

In my opinion one of the easiest places to start is CrossFit. Read up, be smart, and regularly push past your limits. It won’t take you long and as you learn it will get easier.

I promise you’ll feel better. Your body was designed to get stronger.

The Leading Edge

So, the word just went out that the humanities department at Brigham Young University has cut funding to The Leading Edge magazine yet again. I am not surprised. The Leading Edge is a good magazine that publishes genre stories, science fiction and fantasy. The humanities department at BYU is littered with literary types who desperately want to be respected by their peers in the rest of academia but are stymied at every turn by the moral standards BYU holds them to. (I know this because I got a degree in English from that august institution)

Imagine their horror when they gaze upon The Leading Edge, churning out genre drivel (otherwise known as thoughtful and well written science fiction and fantasy stories as well as articles relevant to the field) and using up valuable budget dollars. Horror of horrors, The Leading Edge also gets submissions from all over the world and subscribers (sadly few in number) who aren’t other literary academic professionals. How dare they? Let us cut their funding, ignorant proles.

I myself had a limited experience at The Leading Edge, mostly reading slush and doing the occasional illustration. But that was because I ended up working with “Life the Universe and Everything” the scifi and fantasy symposium that gets put on in spite of itself every year at BYU. However, the basic desktop publishing and photoshop skills I started with and which landed me the last job I held, for seven years, I learned through The Leading Edge and the symposium together.

Dan Wells had a much more interesting and intensive experience there and he explains why it was valuable.  I can only concur.

Help out The Leading Edge by subscribing. I did.


I first saw this video years ago. Ran across it again today.

Living proof, a smoking gun really, that shows we could all get along just fine if we could just figure out how to do without governments.

Money is confusing.Perfect example cited at a second or third remove over on the Whatever. Read it.

It certainly is a little lame to complain about not having enough money when you’re making 250K and have to let your nanny, gardener and housecleaner go because of a tax hike. I recommend not doing that except among other similarly afflicted socialites. Here’s the world’s smallest violin.

However, ask yourself where the sympathy is for the nanny, gardener, and house cleaner.  They’re being let go as a direct result of that tax hike. The same taxes that “stick it to the man” also stick it to the everyday joe the man employs. This is true whether it’s directly as a gardener, nanny or housecleaner to said man or indirectly as the pool guy whose services are no longer required, or even the maid at the one hotel the man doesn’t go to when he shortens his vacation this year due to financial concerns.

Corporations don’t let VPs go when they get hit with a big tax hike, they lay off guys and gals like me.

To Mr. Scalzi’s point, Henderson is still doing just fine. It’s those domestic servants out looking for work now, not Henderson. But, I suppose that’s alright as long as the politicians can crow about ‘taxing the rich’ and everybody thinks that’s smart.

ThisCatIsGoingtoHurtSomebodyI’ve run across a strange plethora of internodes today referencing pets and dogs and cats as companions and friends. Not the least of these was Wil Wheaton’s post about his new dog and his old dog. As well as OK Go’s video for their song White Knuckles.

This has left me with a strong desire to ramble interminably on about my own feelings on pets. I grew up with cats, lots of cats. Dogs are OK too, though they tend to smell. Then I went and married a woman who not only doesn’t particularly like cats but is strongly allergic to them as well as anything else with fur. No cats in my house. This leaves a nostalgic emotional gap.

Once, in Afghanistan, I almost got in a knife fight with a teammate to protect a cat that had pooped in his HMMV’s seat. No blood was shed, though I soon arranged a new home for the cat on our next trip outside the FOB.

So, I still like cats even though I can’t keep any. I’ll always stop to pet one and it fills the gap a little to feel the warmth and hear the purr.

The most significant cat event in my life in the last ten years was not the knife fight either. It’s not a happy memory, so be warned.

It happened on a busy business district street in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was stopped three cars back from the light in the middle of three lanes.  All the lanes were full at least twenty cars back. Up ahead of me, at the head of the lane to my left, some truly evil people rolled down the window of their beater car to up-end a kitten out of a bag and onto the road. The kitten, probably 4 or 5 months old, landed on its feet and looked back where it had come from. The light changed. I started forward slowly so the people behind wouldn’t rear end me when I stopped to pick up the kitten.

The kitten, freaked out by the cars suddenly moving, dashed to hide under the first car in my lane, the rear tires of which caught its hips. The poor thing went down and started yowling, screaming really, and flipping its crushed and broken body around in paroxysms of pain. I was horrified. The second car missed the kitten entirely. As I rolled up on the pitiful spasming thing I realized there was only one thing I could do. Gritting my teeth I accelerated and steered my front tire over the kitten’s front end. The screaming stopped.

I continued through the intersection and caught a glimpse of the beater car disappearing down the road where it had turned left. I considered turning left illegally and following the blackhearted bastards until they stopped and I could confront them. I knew how that would turn out though, with me in jail facing an assault charge.

I continued on to work and parked. Face in my hands I worked the tears out then wiped my eyes and went inside.

I’ve been trying to forget that for 9 years. No luck, so now I immortalize it.

If you people in the beater car ever read this, you’ll know who you are. It’ll take you a while to live that one down you filthy animals. I’ll be happy to help you balance your account though.

Conan could have been a Ranger.So, as I mentioned earlier on this blog, I got a chance to go to Ranger School in late August of 2010. Ranger School is a 60 day school. Add two weeks to the front for National Guard guys like me to go through the mandatory Pre-Ranger training and you get two and a half months. Notice please that it is early September and, since I am writing this, I am clearly not in Ranger School.

I failed out. I do not feel bad about this. How and why make for a story that I won’t be telling in this post but which culminates in my burning desire to go back and try again.

So why this digression on Ranger School? Because of the look.

Continue reading

9/11 2010

So this is the obligatory post. I have lots of thoughts on the events of this nine year old date and their aftermath, but I’m only going to cover one set today.

Sacrifice. Quite a few people today have talked about honoring the sacrifice of those who lost their lives on this day.

What exactly is a sacrifice? says … well, it has a lot of definitions, not all of which apply, but all of which involve some deliberate effort by those performing the sacrifice. Rushing up the stairs of a burning building to save who and what you can, knowing the risk, is a sacrifice. Crashing the plane you are on rather than letting it be used for further atrocity, that’s a sacrifice. Even stepping up and attempting to impose order on the chaos of your co-workers in a crowded stairwell, giving up your place in the rush in order to stand on a bit of high ground and get things moving more smoothly, is a sacrifice. Showing up to work in one of the towers or even the pentagon was not. It was just bad luck. Calling it a sacrifice cheapens the concept and the efforts of those who did, and have been attempting to, actually do something about those events and their consequences.

So, in the interest of my peace of mind I’ve been busily assuming that all the people yammering about the sacrifice of those those who died on 9/11 are talking about those people who have lost their lives while doing something about those events. I’ll save the honor I have to give for them, thank you.

Kick Ass

Kicked ass. Best movie I’ve seen in years. Jumped right to the top of my list of all time favorites, perhaps falling one position under Equilibrium, perhaps shouldering it to one side with a bit of truculence. We shall see how it bears more watchings. Already seen it three times, loved it more each and every one.

Determined to dress up for halloween this year as Hit Girl. My wife may not let me. But maybe I can get her into a purple wig? Would that be wrong?