Monthly Archives: July 2011
Be more aggressive in life. Eat more meat. Say no to people and things that are awful. Don’t settle for anything you don’t want.
- Jim Wendler
When we bought our first house, despite years of hating landscaping and lawn care, I had my own lawn and felt it was time to become Hank Hill and have the prettiest yard on the block.
That didn’t last long.
Mother Nature, she will always win.
The reality of living in Central Texas is it’s hot and dry. Oh sure, some people manage to have green grassy lawns down here, but they usually have lots of shade plus spend a lot of time and money to irrigate their yard. I’ve had varying amounts of shade, but never enough; I certainly don’t have enough money to budget for heavy watering.
Even if I did have the money to keep my yard flooded, I’ve always felt there was something wrong in doing so. This is the water we need for drinking and basic life needs. Texas has gone through numerous droughts, and the one we’re in now is exceptional and could go down as the worst ever. I just cannot justify watering the yard when water is a finite resource and we need it for more important things. I’d rather have water to drink, and if water is going to go onto vegetation I’d rather the farmers have it.
Alas, I live in the city… I have some semblance of a HOA to deal with… and I admit to not liking erosion nor an ugly house and neighborhood. So, some sort of “yard” is necessary.
I never thought I’d do this… but I’m going to try xeriscaping.
It’s just not aesthetically pleasing to me, because it implies a lot of desert, and I do like the look of plush green. Xeriscaping invokes images of sand, rocks, cactus… not much color, a lot of hard and sharp lines and materials. But it isn’t exclusively this way. For one, a central notion of xeriscaping is to use native plants. I never was a fan of going to Home Depot and getting whatever they sold because they are rarely native and able to handle the environment. But I also wasn’t a huge fan of the way a lot of native plants looked. That has changed and I now find great beauty in the native plants of this area — the key is exposure. So many of the yards and commercial landscapes go for what is common, what is easy to find. But if you look deeper, especially using local nurseries, you can find an amazing depth of plants that look beautiful, give year-round color and interest, attract desirable wildlife, and work in the high heat/sun and low water environment that we live in. For example, some years ago I tore out a bunch of shrubs and planted Barbados Cherry. They’ve thrived, they look gorgeous when flowering and fruiting, attract a lot of birds, provide a lot of color throughout most of the year… and I haven’t seen them anywhere else in Austin (tho I’m sure other people have them).
The key? You cannot start out picking plants you WANT. You have to pick plants that are appropriate. You have to consider size issues, sun exposure, water availability, animals (attract, repel, etc.), and so on. Austin’s Grow Green Guide is quite useful. Once you narrow down to what’s appropriate, then you can choose what you like. The Barbados Cherry were not something I would have picked if given the choice, but they fit best for the particular situation and have turned out to be wonderful.
Another useful thing? Using a good landscaper. We’re using Fertile Ground Organic Gardens. Yes, it’s run by an old friend of mine, but she’s done work for us in the past and it’s always been excellent. I’m using her not because of friendship, but because of solid work and creative design. Look at their website and you’ll see examples of their work.
The thing is… our front yard is always going to suffer. There’s a good portion that gets sun most of the day, and a fair portion that gets sun all day long. Consequently, no turf grass can survive. In drought like we tend to have most years, the grass eventually dies off and all we have is either burnt, dead grass, and then very tolerant weeds grow. It’s ugly. I hate it. And the weeds can’t even grow enough to cover for soil retention. So after debating solutions for the past few years, Wife and I decided… let’s try xeriscaping.
I’ll try to document how it goes, with pictures. Should be interesting.
Wow. This isn’t just how to lose customers, it’s how to alienate an entire segment of the population.
On the one hand, that can make some sense from a manufacturing standpoint. But on the other, it’s a massive blunder… especially when your US importer — MKS Distributing — decides to mock customer concerns.
You would think they would understand their customer base. Yes, there are gun owners that are paranoid about being tracked and do get all tin-foil-hat about things. Consider as well how such behavior plays into tracking and registration schemes and other anti-gun and gun-banning politics. There’s just so much about this that is a problem. Have we forgotten Bill Ruger?
But what really made it into a problem was the PR handling. If Chiappa wanted to use RFID to help manufacturing and inventory, that’s one thing. All they had to do was issue a simple statement:
We’re using RFID chips. Note that there is one embedded in the frame. If you wish to remove it, simple remove the grips and pry out the chip (it’s just hot-glued in there).
As simple as that. It allows Chiappa to do what they want, and for those that care, there’s a simple solution. That’s called knowing your customers and customer base.
But to so openly mock, like MKS did…. that’s just insulting.
Sorry Chiappa. I’ve been curious about your Rhino and nearly bought one a time or two (if not for other financial priorities cropping up). But now? Not going to happen. You did this to yourself.
Updated: as you could see in the comments, I started to soften my stance… thinking that this was probably just an honest mistake, a miscalculation.
No workout today. I’m taking a cue from my body and just taking today off. Let’s hit it hard on Monday.
But in the meantime I made myself a new Excel spreadsheet for tracking my progress on the Wendler 5/3/1 program. Seeing the actual numbers that I’ll be using, the actual routine that I’ll go through, I think this is going to work out alright for me. It is interesting to see that what was considered “warmup” under SS/PP ends up being “work” under W531. But, that’s all part of how the program works. I’m not expecting the program to necessarily be easier, just different.
I feel excited. Rejuvenated. And that’s a good thing.
The hackers get a lot of attention these days. These are the basketball players who make the slam dunk that makes it to the highlight reel. But basketball games are won by teams of players executing on the basics – the solid play well executed, the dribble, the layup, the pass that gets the ball to the star. In the long run we need more real programmers to make solid, dependable programs that don’t have be be rewritten from scratch when a change is needed.
My kingdom for a project where we can program, not hack.
Take a couple butternut squash. Peel. Halve. Scoop out seeds. Slice down into 2″ cubes (more or less).
Put squash chunks in a glass casserole dish. Coat in extra virgin olive oil and “Good Shit“. Not too heavy, just enough to season. You want the flavor of the squash to be primary, the seasoning just accents.
Oven to 400º. Put the squash (uncovered) into the oven. Minimum 60 minutes, but I found 90 minutes really softened it up and helped break down the squash sugars more, really sweeten things up.
Maybe a dash of salt to taste just prior to eating, but that’s up to individual taste… not to make it salty, just to wake up the flavors.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Carson’s intent was not only to rob the motel, but also to rape the clerk. “There’s no doubt that was his intent,” said Lott. “Not only was he going to rob her, but he was going to sexually assault her.”
How did she survive?
…the motel clerk… fought back and killed him….
Investigators said when her attacker slipped the knife into his pants pocket to begin tying her up with plastic ties, the woman pulled a handgun from under her shirt, turned and fired into the man’s chest at point blank range.
She fought back.
She had a gun.
The victim was about 100 pounds lighter than Carson and stood at least a foot shorter than him, investigators said.
I’ve often said that a gun is a force equalizer. Seems this same scumbag also robbed an elderly couple at another motel. See, predators like easy prey… or at least, until they fail the victim selection process, as this scumbag eventually did.
So remind me again why you wish to deny people the right to defend their lives? Tell me again why you think it’s acceptable for women and the elderly to be at the mercy of those that wish to bring them harm?
To borrow from The Eagles… take it easy.
As you can see, I really dropped my weight on the work set. I’m overworked on squats. I needed a deload.
Sad thing is, that 185 was hard. Not as hard as the 220 was on Monday, but still hard. I attribute this to mental exhaustion, on squatting. *sigh* But, it’s telling. More below.
An interesting thing tho. While doing the warmup sets I noticed that when I was in the hole my right calf started that ache. Hrm… as my thigh contacted my shin, the ache started. Hey… am I going too deep? going below parallel? I had someone watch me. Sure enough, I’m going a little too deep! That explains a lot, including why the weights were feeling even heavier the past couple weeks. I’m trying so hard to ensure I’m at least parallel that I’m overdoing it. This plays into my decision (more below), with how “more reps under the bar”, working my central nervous system (CNS), etc. is the way to go.
This felt good. Strong. I did notice I wasn’t putting my legs into it as much. As I think about it, it was the calf ache, I wasn’t putting my feet far enough back because that amplified the ache, and so I didn’t get as much leg into it. I still was using it, especially on the 3rd set I really put my whole body into it. I just wasn’t as consistent as I should have been.
This just felt good. Felt very strong here. Felt like I could have done another 3 reps (at least) with the 240, or gone up another 15-20# for another set of 5.
Forgot to jump rope at the gym, so hustled home and jumped there. Usual thing, a Tabata set (20 sec jump, 10 sec rest; 8x), just simple double hop stuff. On the last set I tried doing faster single hops but didn’t get far. I did do a better job at jumping here. My first 20 second round is always good so I’m trying to pay attention to my form during that set to help mitigate problems… like the positioning of my hands and rope/handle angle and how that affects the rope as it passes under my feet so I don’t get tangled up, keeping my head up and eyes focused on something “eye level”. That helped me do a better job and get further, but I’m still getting tangled. I’ll get there.
Feeling this strong on deadlifts and on bench press vs. how I feel on squats? My interpretation of it is overwork on my squats and my body saying “no mas”. I need a break.
I think I’m burned. I’m not sure if the intensity of the workouts is getting to me, or if it’s other things in my life getting to the workouts, or a little of both. Likely both, but I think the workouts are actually more the culprit. So, I need a break.
It was intentional to not do a full squat workout today. Just do something with a light enough load to keep the body working, but treat it like a “deload”. I picked the weights based upon Monday’s workout, but then bumped just slightly to make plate changing a no-brainer. Why complicate this?
I am also going to take this coming Friday off. Give my body a little more time to recover (especially since my time off work is ending and I’m back to work on Monday).
When I resume on Monday, yes… I’m going to switch to the Wendler 5/3/1 program. I want to be in this for the long haul, that’s a program for the long haul. I’m not a 18-25 year old, I need to stretch out recovery; this program is better for recovery. I’m looking to bump my metabolism up so I can shed the fat I gained over the past 2 months (plus more!), and I can set up the assistance work in this program to be slightly lighter weights with less rest between sets (everything isn’t geared towards heavy 5 rep sets going for maximum strength). All signs point to this being a route for me to go. I figure I have to stick with it at least for one cycle (6 weeks in my case, since I’m going to do it 3x week) before I really evaluate and consider any changes, be it tweaking the program or changing to another program.
I’m still debating on exactly what I want to do for assistance work: “triumvirate” or “boring but big”. Granted I could do my own assistance work, but I think at first it’s wise to go with an existing program and only customize once I know more of what I want. Part of me thinks I should do “triumvirate” because, if nothing else, it gets me using more equipment in the gym and folks might like me not hogging the squat rack. But then again, I think only 3-4 other guys at the gym use the rack so, I may get a better less-interrupted workout if I stay there.
One advantage to BBB would be more reps in the same motion. That is, more CNS training towards really getting movements right and down. That will really help form refine and improve. My only fear with BBB is it will be, like it says, boring. I think part of my desire to switch off the current program is I’m a little bored with doing squats 3x week… but that is likely more due to overload than boredom. I do like squatting, but I think it’s just taking a toll and I need to scale back the approach. Besides, Wendler’s book says of the triumvirate:
This is very similar to Boring But Big, but you don’t have to do the same exercise over and over again, and you don’t have to do 5 sets. Just do the 3 exercises you’ve found to be the most effective for your training.
It’s about doing what you have found to be more effective for your training. Really, I don’t know what that is yet. It may do me well to start with BBB and see how that goes, then eventually “find my Kroc Row” (to use his phrase).
Just thinking aloud… don’t mind me.
I’ve spent 8 weeks on this “Practical Programming Novice” program. A novice, constant linear progression program.
Here’s how things went:
Squat: — 105# to 230#. 230 was the most I did before I reset and found myself getting burned. Even if we take my reset weight (215), I still put over 100# on my squat.
Bench Press: — 115# to 170#. 55# increase.
Press: — 65# to 107.5#. 42.5# increase
Deadlift: — 135# to 240#. 105# increase.
Chin-ups/Pull-ups: — well, these were always “inverted rows”. But going from only being able to do low-single digit values to breaking into the double-digit range? That’s improvement. I’ll take it. Looking forward to doing full/real chin-ups and pull-ups. I’ll get there.
Those aren’t maxes: those are 3 sets of 5 reps at that weight. My actual 1RM? who knows. I haven’t tested it, and even calculations aren’t going to be accurate since 1. they’re just mathematical estimates, 2. they would require something like a 5RM, not 3 sets of 5 reps where I felt like I could still squeeze out more.
But it doesn’t matter what my actual 1RM is. The bottom line is I’m a lot stronger today than I was 8 weeks ago. I’m cool with that. The program did was it was designed to do: get you stronger. If I look at the “strength standards tables“, I’m not quite at the “novice” level, but that assumes 3-9 months of training: I’ve only had 2. I think I’m progressing just fine.
The reality is, it’s a very intense program. You need to eat a lot, you need to rest a lot, and you need to do little else in life than just lift… nothing else to really tax your system be it other physical activities or things like stress from work and life. If I was a younger man, I’m sure I could stick with this program a bit longer. But I’m not. Still, I’m quite happy with having discovered it and performed the program. I think it has set a good foundation for me to build upon in many regards: hypertrophy, strength, movements, fitness, CNS, discipline, humility, etc.. You name it, it’s really been helpful to me in some way in that area.
If I knew 20-25 years ago what I know now, I would have started lifting in a much different way. I think if anyone is going to start using weights to improve their life, some sort of “Starting Strength” type of program (be it the pure SS program or say one of the PP variants) is the way to go. You want to get strong? it works. You want to get big? it works. You want to be a bodybuilder? it’ll lay the foundation. You just want better strength for life and health, it’ll work. It’s a simple program, it works fundamentals, it lays a good foundation. There’s no bullshit, so long as you don’t overthink it. Just shut up, lift, eat, sleep.
See? The journey is really what it’s all about.
The same old thing (h/t Mike Cox)
Pinecrest is repealing its ban on guns in public parks because a new state law would subject the village to fines if the prohibition remained in place.
It’s called preemption.
“I am angry, disgusted and horrified that they put us in this position. This is a public-safety issue,” [Mayor Cindy] Lerner said in an interview. “This is not the wild, wild west.”
That’s called “pants shitting hysterics“
Lerner doesn’t think guns and parks mix. “What if someone leaves or drops their gun in a park and a child finds it?”
That happened here in Austin a couple of years ago. A gun was found in a local park. Some kids found it, told their parents, who notified police. Gee Mayor Lerner, do you think so little of the children, that they cannot act responsibly? This is why programs like Eddie Eagle were created. By the way, that gun in the park? It belonged to an Austin police officer, K-9 unit. He had taken his dog to the park, and while playing his gun somehow came out of his holster. What if a police officer leaves or drops their gun in their park and a child finds it? Well, seems in this case they stop, don’t touch, leave the area, told an adult. Hrm. Maybe the solution is police shouldn’t have guns either… or maybe we should ban police from parks… or maybe we should teach children about firearms safety and how to be responsible… no no, that’s just silly.
[Village attorney Cynthia] Everett agreed, adding: “If you can’t have it in a school, then why in parks?”
I agree. We shouldn’t be prohibiting the lawful carrying of weapons in schools, or anywhere. Good people are good people. Bad people are bad people. Bad people are not stopped by imaginary lines and boundaries. Bad people are stopped by good people willing to fight and not tolerate bad behavior. Yes, we’ve got the data to back this up.
Mayor Lerner, Ms. Everett, no… we’re not living in the wild, wild west any more. But it does seem you’re still stuck in the past.