Monday, July 06, 2009

Facebook & Twitter

For those of you who don't already know this, most of my recent online activity has been on Facebook and Twitter. I haven't been posting to my blog here that often. If you want to know what I've been up to, check me out there.

Sean on Facebook
Sean on Twitter

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Postponed to 2010

I haven’t made any progress on reading these this year. I’m going to push the goal to 2010 so I’m not fighting with an unusual reading volume already from reading 100 books this year.

June, 2009 11 Books

1. The Face of Chaos, Anthology
2. The Aliens Among Us, James White
3. Ambulance Ship, James White
4. Sector General, James White
5. Star Healer, James White
6. Code Blue – Emergency, James White
7. Tower Treasure (Hardy Boys #1), Franklin W. Dixon
8. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
9. Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris
10. Club Dead, Charlaine Harris
11. The House on the Cliff (Hardy Boys #2), Franklin W. Dixon

I made up for the short month in May with a very long month in June.

I know I read many of the Hardy Boys books when I was 10 or so but I can’t say I’m a real fan now.

James White’s Sector General stories and novels are awesome and I’m enjoying re-reading them after 15+ years.

I started the Charlaine Harris vampire books when I decided to watch HBO’s True Blood. So far, the books are better than the show.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

May, 2009 - 5 Books

1. Shadows of Sanctuary, Anthology
2. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer
3. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
4. Storm Season, Anthology
5. The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman

I spent a significant portion of this month reading a couple of computer books for work. I haven’t finished any of them yet but they put me behind this month and I have some ground to make up.

Friday, May 01, 2009

April, 2009

1. A Spell for Chameleon, Piers Anthony
2. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
3. The Way of Shadows, Brent Weeks
4. Shadow’s Edge, Brent Weeks
5. Beyond the Shadows, Brent Weeks
6. The Burning Wheel Fantasy Roleplaying System, Luke Crane and Dan Abram
7. The Burning Wheel Character Burner, Luke Crane and Dan Abram
8. The Stone Rose (Doctor Who), Jac Rayner
9. Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn, Anthology

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gwen B. Giles (Catalpa) Park.

Completely by accident, Michele and I discovered a park we had never noticed before. We got diverted away from our planned route by a marathon of all things and there, driving through a neighborhood we almost never visit, on a road we never drive, was a vision of everything Sean in a park. I vowed on the spot to visit this park. I kept my vow.

I'm on call this week. I was on the phone with customers until 11:30 PM. At 12:30 AM, I finally got to sleep. At 2:30 AM, I woke to the phone ringing, again. I took multiple calls through the morning and at 6:30 AM, I headed to work, since I knew I wouldn't get any decent sleep. On the way, driving alone for the first time in a really long time, I decided to stop by the park. I took lots of pictures. I also scraped my shins, bruised my right heel and got impressive grass and mud stains on my pants. It was great.

I don't have the ability to get my pictures off my phone right now but I did order a data cable for my phone so soon, I promise. These pictures should be worth the wait.

I'll try to catalog a few of the features that have me drooling over this park. A large wooden play structure, probably 30 feet long or more, with lots of room for climbing, ducking, etc. Numerous formations of short, wide, wooden posts stuck in the ground, some in lines, others in patterns, and still others in clusters. A couple rails at 3 inches above the ground, for balancing on. Dual monkey bars. 3 foot diameter concrete pipes for crawling through and climbing over. A play stage coach and a play viking ship and still another regular jungle gym feature. Large metal post swings, suitable for climbing on. Two sets of great stairs, one with huge parkour potential. Several small cannon emplacements. And throughout it all, large 2 foot to 4 foot boulders bordering everything, just perfect for climbing and running and jumping on. And I guarantee I've left some things out. This place just begs to be played at.

And speaking of, I managed to persuade 3 people from my office to go back at lunch today. It is frustrating that I can't do the monkey bars but I had a blast climbing all over everything, running through the boulders and just making a fool of myself. I could spent months there just playing for exercise.

Monday, April 27, 2009

AFK - Away from Blog

It has been ages since I last posted here. I've been riding the slow train down the slippery slope of laziness and gluttony. Who knows what I weigh today. I can't do a single pull up anymore. I haven't tried a frog stand in ages. I can usually do a single ring dip though and I've been swinging the pendulum slowly back towards activity. In fact, I just did 6 flights down, 20 flights up, 14 flights down of stairs. It is nice to work in a tall building.

On the leisure front, I committed to trying to read 100 books this year. I also committed to trying to read 4 classics this year. So far, it looks like I'm on pace for the 100 book year but I'm woefully behind on the classics. I've been tracking my progress on All Consuming and 43 Things. I find it takes a conscious effort to keep reading and that it forces me to read at times when I might have watched television or played games on the computer or a console. If I can keep my pace, it will be a rewarding year but I don't know if I will do it again.

On the work front, I'm on call at Voxitas again this week. I hope I can get some sleep. The last time I was on call, just as secondary, it hurt my sleep schedule enough to affect my ability to focus and think and may have caused me to get sick last week. Also, TradeHarbor is coming along. There is still hope that they will make it and I might recoup some of my lost income from last year.

A little while ago, we went on a road trip to Colorado to visit one of Michele's friends. I got to play on top of Pike's Peak. Michele didn't take the altitude very well but I loved it. I also found a new cheese, instantly my new favorite, and promptly lost the label so I don't know what it was.

I recently started Netflix again and I'm using their extensive Doctor Who library to do a thorough survey of Doctor Who from the earliest Doctor. There is a lot of material that has been lost but I'm excited to see what I can. So far, the first Doctor doesn't impress me tremendously but I'm enjoying 1960's television production values, especially as I watch the special features on the various disks.

Hopefully it won't be so long before I post here again. If your reading, drop me a line. I'd love to know if anyone gets this.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March, 2009 - 7 Books

1. Intergalactic Medicine Show, Orson Scott Card Anthology
2. Ducks: Guide to the Durulz, Bryan Steele
3. GURPS Magic, Steve Jackson
4. Mage-Guard of Hamor, L. E. Modesitt Jr.
5. Callahan’s Con, Spider Robinson
6. Maxnome Foe, John Ringo
7. The Jennifer Morgue, Charles Stross

(I finished 25 books in the first quarter (10, 8, 7) so I am on pace for 100 books this year. I seem to be slowing down though. And so far, my goal of 4 classics this year is way, way off.

February, 2009 - 8 Books

1. Thieves’ World, Anthology
2. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
3. Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card
4. Shadow of the Hegemon, Orson Scott Card
5. Shadow Puppets, Orson Scott Card
6. Shadow of the Giant, Orson Scott Card
7. Ender in Exile, Orson Scott Card
8. First Meetings, Orson Scott Card

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

January, 2009 - 10 Books

  1. Natural Ordermage, L.E. Modesitt Jr.
  2. Codespell, Kelly McCullough
  3. The Return of Count Electric, William Browning Spencer
  4. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, Vicki Myron
  5. The Hope: A Novel, James Lovegrove
  6. Dragonhaven, Robin McKinley
  7. The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor
  8. Seeing Redd, Frank Beddor
  9. Middle-Earth Quest: A Spy in Isengard
  10. Middle-Earth Quest: Treason at Helm’s Deep

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weakness Rising

Today's workout

Mix of really poor straight arm frog stands
2 x 30 second chair support
2 x 30 second bent knee hang
2 x 10 second chair L sit
30 minutes Wii free step
6 minutes Wii boxing
1 minute (ugly) bent knee frog stand

I was horrible on the frog stands. With nearly straight arms (I never did get them locked out properly), I could barely hold myself off the ground. Guilt, after sitting down to write this, made me throw in the bent knee frog stand and even that was pretty ugly with me barely able to keep weight off my feet and with several touchdowns.

I've been weighing in with the Wii every morning for a couple weeks. For some reason, I lost 2+ lbs both Monday and Tuesday. I don't know if the conditions that caused the weight loss also caused the loss in strength but I feel so weak today it is like I'm a different person. Even exercises that should seem easy seem very hard.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Let's Pretend We're Gymnasts

CrossFit St. Charles (CFSTC) is a fairly new CrossFit affiliate with space inside the Generation Gymnastics facility. This affords some unique advantages. CrossFitters, as a rule, seem to adore gymnastics. Emphasis on amazing feats of functional strength achieved through body weight exercises, extreme body control and joyful expression of the human body at its peak capability combine to inspire us to greatness. Kim Wilkes (of CFSTC) recognizes this and has fostered a positive relationship with the gym resulting in an all day gymnastics seminar a couple months ago and a 3 hour open gym yesterday.

Yesterday's session was wonderfully attended by friends of CFSTC, local do it yourself CrossFitters (Brett, myself and others) and a swarm from CrossFit Valley Park (CFVP). Allie (sp?) from Generation Gymnastics ran us through our paces, everything from tumbling runs, to rings, to parallel bars, to vaults into the pit. She seemed to take delight in torturing us and showing us our weakness and for that I thank her.

It doesn't matter what level you are at. It doesn't matter where you start. A day at the gymnastics gym is fun, exciting, and one of the best workouts you can get. With luck, Generation Gymnastics will start an adult gymnastics class soon and I'll get to do this to myself every week.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Weak All Over Again

Today's Workout
5 x 7 second straight arm frog stand on 1 minute interval
6 x 5 second ring support on 30 second interval
4 x 7 second straight arm frog stand on 30 second interval
6 x 5 second ring support on 30 second interval
1 x 30 second bent knee hang
30 seconds rest
1 x 22 second bent knee hang
20 seconds rest
1 x 10 second bent knee hang

My wrist flexibility isn't what it needs to be for straight arm frog stands. Also, my ab strength and shoulder girdle strength is low. I really want to get my leg to arm contact point above my elbows but every time I moved it up that high, I couldn't keep my arms straight. Today's stands had my thighs contacting my forearms about 2/3s of the way to the elbow from the wrist. You have to lean a lot further forward when you straighten your arms and apparently my wrists are not happy going past 90 degrees. The extra stretch was uncomfortable and contributed to the shortness of reps.

I broke up the long sets of similar exercises but decreased my rest times for everything today. 30 second intervals really help boost your heart rate while you are performing these exercises, adding to the training effects. Yesterday's bent knee hangs (2 x 30 seconds) were performed with 1 minute 30 seconds rest between sets. Today, I tried to reduce that to 30 seconds rest with detrimental effect on the 2nd set. I almost quit with just the 52 seconds because my forearms were so pumped but I couldn't let it go and threw in the worst 10 seconds of the workout by demanding the last set from myself. For 10 seconds, it was just 1 mm of slip after another. I was afraid I'd be hanging from my fingertips before it was over but I made it.

I didn't do any WiiFit last night. It is like having a live in trainer who can't talk to you unless you talk to her first. If you just ignore her, she can't scold you. At around 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM yesterday, I crashed hard. The next couple hours were very hard as I could barely keep my eyes open. I assume the crash was due to making poor nutritional choices as lunch where I consumed 2 chicken legs and a large chicken gizzards from Lee's Chicken. Regardless, I only managed to eat about 4 bites of dinner before I retired to bed where I must have passed out by 7:00 PM or 7:30 PM.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

If it is worth doing, it is worth doing now.

I don’t know when, or if, I will actually get to attend St. John’s College. It is still my dream but it seems so far off right now. Still, I keep railing against New Year’s resolutions because if something is worth doing, it is worth doing now and not waiting for the new year to start. Applying the same logic to myself, I’ve decided to start reading from the St. John’s College reading list. This year, I want to read at least the Illiad, the Odyssey, Agamemnon, and Libation Bearers.

The Journey of 1000 Miles...

...begins with just one frog stand, or something like that.

The straight arm frog stand is the 2nd stage of my progression to a front planche. Even though I can now do 60 second bent arm frog stands, I can’t do a full second of the ball planche or tuck planche which is supposed to be next. CrossFit Portland suggests the straight arm frog stand can be a helper exercise in between the bent arm frog stand and the tuck planche for people with this problem so here I go.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

This morning's workout:

1 x 60 second frog stand - completely clean
2 x 30 second bent knee hang - rough
12 x 5 second ring support

For the last 5-6 supports, I switched to a 30 second interval. This really kicked up the cardiovascular effect of the exercises but by the last set started to impede muscle recovery enough to interfere with my performance of each rep. I dropped back down from 6-7 second sets to focus on better position for each rep, shoulders shrugged and tall. Halfway through, my form started to deteriorate again but I would say 9 of 12 were of much higher quality than all but 1 or 2 reps before.

Maybe I will do some more WiiFit tonight.

Funny story, I get some pretty strange looks at the office when I talk about the things I do for exercise. Yesterday morning, my boss comes in and asks me for a link to the exercises I've been doing. Then he turns his head to show me the red welt on the side of his head. I guess his spotter was sick yesterday morning and he managed to drop a 150 lbs barbell on his head trying to do some bench presses. Suddenly, body weight exercises don't seem so crazy.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Wii Fit vs. Gymnastics Strength

On New Year's Eve, a friend introduced me to the Wii Fit. The next day, my wife and I called about 30 stores before we found one 45 minutes away in Granite City, IL. They got a shipment in the morning and by the time we were there to get one around 11:30 AM, over half were gone. The man at the store made sure to point out, they hadn't even been busy all day. I think if Nintendo ever makes enough hardware to meet demand (for anything), the oceans will pool at the tops of the mountains, leaving the sea bed bare and dry.

I've been doing the Wii Fit daily since New Year's for 30-60 minutes a day. Most of the strength exercises seem pretty good and the Yoga is nice. Having balance feedback during Yoga poses is especially cool. The cardio (hula hoops, boxing, step aerobics and running in place) is bearable though not very exciting. The balance games are fun and a good way to work on your balance control. Overall, the Wii Fit seems to be a fun way to introduce a little more activity into your life. The balance feedback alone was worth the purchase price in my opinion. I just wish there was a free balance mode where I could do what I want and see how well balanced I am and/or work on my balance.

I don't see the Wii Fit replacing my gymnastics strength exercises. For one, most of the Wii Fit strength focuses on the lower body where the gymnastics exercises focus on upper body strength. Speaking of strength....

Today's workout
30 minutes Wii Fit cardio
1 x 60 second frog stand
9 x 7 second ring support
2 x 20 second bent knee hang
2 x 10 second bent knee hang

Considering how little I wanted to do anything today, I'll take 30 minutes of sweat and increased heart rate along with a record frog stand, my first for 60 seconds. My feet did barely touch the ground twice briefly but I controlled myself with my hands and didn't put any weight on my feet so I think this counts. I'll try to keep doing 60 second frog stands this week with a goal of a perfectly clean one by Friday and then I will start working on a straight arm frog stand. Even with the 60 second stand under my belt, I still can't muster a second of front tuck planche and I hear the straight arm stand can help when that is the case.

Oh, not to be left out, on Saturday, I went horse back riding with my wife and friends for two and a half hours. This is the kind of thing that is why I want to get in shape in the first place. It is nice to have the energy to do fun things and not have to worry about being wiped out by the end.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Pseudo Huevos Rancheros

It isn't often that I feel compelled to blog about food but this morning I outdid myself with breakfast. I brought half a can of mild Rotel and half a can of El Pato to a simmer with a little fresh pepper, a pinch of salt and a slight hit of soy sauce. When those were simmering nicely, I added 3 eggs, not scrambled, to the mix to poach and grated some fresh manchego cheese over the top. I left them simmering in the sauce until they looked nicely poached then removed the eggs to a couple pieces of toast and continued to simmer the sauce until it reduced slightly. Finally, I poured the reduced sauce over everything. I enjoyed my spicy egg concoction with a glass of skim milk.

Starting with a lot of high flavor content ingredients (El Pato, Rotel, soy sauce, manchego cheese) made this simple and quick to prepare meal a stellar hit in my book. I can't remember the last time my stomach was this happy with something I prepared myself.