Tuesday, December 1, 2015

HliAT #11: Cat Litter/Grapes, on foot

How Long It Actually Takes To...

walk from my friends C & C's house to their local CVS on Lincoln, ~0.3 miles per Google but really less because Google doesn't know about cutting through parking lots, get cat litter at CVS, dawdle for ~1 min thinking if I need anything else, stop at Whole Foods in the same complex on the way back and picking up some grapes, also dawdling I dunno 1-2 mins to poke at samples (not POKE at them, I'm not gross; you know what I mean), walk back to C & C's: 12:53.68  

This one amazes me. That's nothing! No time at all! HliAT taketh away, but HliAT giveth, as well. Or the other way--you get it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

G#d, or Something

A few days ago I was running Temescal Canyon, a popular hike and wonderful trail run in the Pacific Palisades. It's pretty steep, and some sections are skiddy, with loose rocky scree and larger "real" rocks sticking up from the ground.

I was coming down, going fast (for me!); I was minding both my left calf--which cramped for a full week recently, when I pushed too hard on an interval run--and my left adductor, which has been inflamed and painful since June.

So: running fast, minding calf minding adductor but feeling good running CHOCK

My toe caught on one of the "real" rocks, sending all my weight forward in what I was sure was gonna be a pretty unpleasant forward slide; I caught myself first on the left leg, the problematic leg, pulled harder on that leg than I wanted or meant to but my body really did not want to skid chest and face first down this trail, which I mean: fair enough. I ran/fell/stumbled I'd say seven or eight feet (felt like twenty, of course) with my torso way out in front of my legs, my legs pumping to catch up downhill on this scattering rocky slope

and caught up to myself; pulled up, and was running again.

Jack Johnson's "Bubble Toes" was playing in my ears--if you know the song, you'll know it's upbeat acoustic pop with a "La da Da da DAH duh" refrain that's well earned; that refrain came on as I righted myself, and I sang it loud loud loud, and a couple of women coming up the trail I was hurtling down appeared around the corner and we all had a good smile at how stupid I was, hollering, as they parted and I ran between them.

I'm not someone who was raised to sync with, or has gravitated towards, any codified/organized system of religious or spiritual thought. But all of this is to say: there are some situations--healthy enough to be running; these incredible trails and mountains to run in; almost a nasty fall that turns thrilling; "bad" leg catching me and feeling just fine--that I have absolutely no response to but thank you, thank you.

thank you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

HliAT #10: The Laundry Edition

How Long It Actually Takes To...

cross my apartment, put on my shoes, walk downstairs to my building's laundry room, clean the filter in the drier on the load I just dried, fold that load of laundry, walk back to my apartment carrying it, take off my shoes, and lay it down on the bed: 09:56.25 

n.b.: this does not include the sorting and putting away of the laundry; to wit

sort that single drier load of laundry, and put them away: 04:57.91


Monday, October 12, 2015

Three Things That Happened This Week at the Beach

I've been swimming most days, which is of course amazing.

Walking down the boardwalk towards the surf, a little boy's eyes snagged on me--this happens a lot because I'm in my wetsuit, and little kids are struck by, I think, either the novelty, or the engaging assumption that I'm a surfer. They often say something; this kid didn't but did the whole zoogly eyes thing.

Then, when we were three feet past each other he said, "What's your name?" As if he might recognize me, or know it.

I told him my name.

"My name's Lucas!" He said it like that, exclamated.

"What's up, Lucas?" I said. "Here." And I stepped towards him and raised my hand for a high five.

He zipped towards me, did an odd motion, and jumped for the high five and it was good. Then Lucas said, "I've got this new method," and showed me this complicated martial arts-y thing where you kind of cock your fist up, lever it, THEN do a fist bump. Like loading up then firing the fist bump. And then the splooosh thing afterwards, hands wide. He said that, showing me: "Sploosh."

So we did that, and I said, "Thanks a lot, Lucas." And he smiled and said, "Okay," walking back from the beach as I continued out towards it.


Coming out of the water after a nice, long swim, a boy--not quite a little boy, maybe 12 or 13, long lanky California kid hair--bounded up to me. He had a rash guard on, and a boogieboard.

"Hey did you see them?"

I paused, smiling.

"You were swimming with dolphins."

I smiled more. I'd certainly seen no dolphins; I wasn't sure there had been any, or that I'd really been anywhere near them. "That's amazing," I said. "I didn't see them. I wonder if they saw they me."

"Yeah," he said, nodding. "Yeah. I wonder what would have happened."


There's been a swell with 4-, 5-foot waves even close to the Santa Monica Pier. And it's been hot. So there've been a lot of families at the beach, boogie-boarding and bodysurfing. 

As I walked down into the water yesterday, fussing with my swim cap, two little girls rode the foam of a big crash, practically all the way up to the towels. 

They were probably nine, ten; wearing those little-girl bikinis that're like two bandannas wrapped around a banana.

They held each others' hands, laughing as their boards coasted up in parallel. Their skin was differently hued.

They stood from their ride, scuffling with their boards, excited to go again. 

"You have no idea how good that was," one said to the other.

No idea. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

LA, West Side: Life is This, Right Now

This morning, I took a 6am class at a nice local yoga studio that I've mentioned before on this blog. The teacher of this class is a guy whom I like, as a teacher and a dude, the latter in large part because he strikes me as proactive and entrepreneurial about the hard work of marketing yourself as a yoga instructor in LA.

Class was done at 7, which means--this time of year-- that the sun's coming up as you get out. So, I took this picture.

nice, right?

who cares
Then, as I sometimes do, I turned the camera on myself. I like to selfie when I'm in pretty places/settings that make me happy, because it all kind of seems like a gift and who knows when the next gift will come, so I like to remember it. I'll include that shot for completeness' sake.

As I'm doing this, Ryan--the teacher--comes out. Asks if he can take a shot of me taking a selfie, and I sort of know what he's up to: Ryan sends lots of emails promoting his classes (which, again, I respect), and it sounds fun. So I say yes and he's doing all these posing suggestions as I try to recreate my selfie-moment; he sounds like he's giving a yoga class: "lift that arm a bit more," "crook the elbow."

The result is the shot below. which to me feels fun and silly and apotheotic to...I dunno, life, right now. In a waggish tongue-in-cheek way, but also true.

Anyway that's what happened, to me, around 7:10am Pacific.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fallout Shelter is Awful & Small-Minded and Also It's Really Well and Carefully Made and... What the Hell is the Deal with Games Like This, Anyway???

This is an angry, frustrated Labor Day post about a popular game, a style of game, focus, effort, work, and how we relate to technology. It's pretty self-contained. If you wish to read more: we're talking about Fallout Shelter, a new-ish mobile game that's a huge hit. The internet has a TON to say about this; as will become clear, I pretty much agree with these thoughtful, backlash-y, negative views of it.

Fallout Shelter's a resource-mining game, which means that you periodically log in on your phone to check how your Shelter (or "Vault", in the game's parlance), an underground self-sufficient community you're creating, is doing. Your shelter looks like this, after you've built it up some:

You build different kinds of rooms, to power your Shelter and Feed and Water its residents. You move them around according to randomized abilities to farm those rooms, basically. (I'm using capitals/terms per my own rubric, here, for the purposes of this post.) You put males and females together in what're basically sex-rooms to do basically that: they then make babies. You do all this building using "Caps", a resource represented on the upper-right of the screen; you can earn Caps by doing stuff in-game or, of course, shelling out some actual $$$ (like, from your meatspace realworld monies) to hasten your progress in this ridiculous f$*#ing fish tank inside of your phone.

You try to keep your Residents happy. Sex makes them happy, and they dance before having it. Being hungry/thirsty makes them sick and unhappy. This leads to humorous juxtapositions such as this, of which the internet is full. Also: costumes (which give them abilities). I'll spare you that, Reader. Google it if you like.

They are unhappy! But dancing! And about to have sex!
(this is a zoomed in view of the image above--tap tap with your fingers)
The sensitive Reader will have already divined a tension in this post; I'm taking a glib, screw-you tone about a game that (a) I've admitted I spend lots of time with, and (b) I'm clearly moved to share screenshots of. I guess I think these screenshots are worth your time, Reader? I do. Because the screenshots are great. That color palette is great. It looks lovely, even on my tiny stupid cracked phone screen. And these "humorous juxtapositions" about which I was all too-cool-for-school, one paragraph up? They are awesome. They're funny. Opening up the game and clicking the little rooms and hearing the sounds as the resources I've mined go ching ching kerCHING--this style of "game" (or, whatever: game) can be addictive, and I've got my situation under control but I won't front: I'm here, writing this, because smart and talented designers have worked successfully to make a compelling, lovely product. I am serious: I admire these designers, and not (just) in a cynical way. They made a terrific thing.

A thing that's also bad, and diminishing my life, and I strongly suspect diminishing those of others', and without which the world would be a little bit better.

A lot of this boils down to the mechanics of how you play the game--the mechanics of finger swipe-swipe; select character; give character new gun/clothes; etc. These things are at once minutiae too boring to recount, good Reader, and the crux of the issue. Because they indicate and guide what the game is about. As the cherry-picked selection of internet negativity that I linked to at the start of this post argues, Fallout Shelter is a repetitive and cyclical exercise that asks you to learn some basics but, after that, requires neither fun gamey "twitch" skills (coordination, timing), nor strategy in any meaningful sense.

What it asks of you: time, attention, thumbs.

Periodically, things go wrong in the Shelter--fires, Radroach infestations; also, you get attacked by baddies from the outside world. You can screw up, in how you handle these disruptions. I screwed up: I didn't give enough of my Residents in the top few rooms good guns/costumes, so when some things called Deathclaws attacked for the first time they housed me, as I attempted the ineffective swipe-swipes that are this game's poor answer to actual contextual gameplay to kit out the Residents facing them.

After that, my Shelter went through The Bad Times: corpses everywhere, power low, no food or drink -- inhabitants miserable and slowly dying although, I think, they can't actually DIE of food/thirst (not sure); certainly, it makes them sad and makes it really easy for anything else to kill them.

The days of which we shall not speak...
I kind of gave up--that something so capricious as "Deathclaw Attack!", and so actually manageable (I had the necessary guns/costumes, I had just optimized the Residents for performance in their rooms qua farming rather than defense so... etc. who cares.). I let the Shelter drift, miserable, for... I don't know, a day? And then I sent everyone out into the Wasteland to die. If you clicked that link, my feeling was different: not an experiment in culling. It was existential; I felt bad about leaving the Residents alone in their misery, and so sent them out, on missions for which really only the most leveled and geared of them were prepared.

I didn't feel great about this one.
So, we're at another juncture where I need to self-check. I'm sitting here writing about this, so evidently I somehow feel that it's worth reading about. And I did these things, with my time/brain, freely--there is no coherent model of external pressure in which I can punt the blame for ANY of my wasted time, here. AND, I kind of enjoyed applying my dire narrative to my Shelter: the early flourishing, the weird baby-makings, the Deathclaws, the Bad Times, and then Exodus: Absolution. People who write about games talk with admiration about narrative that's emergent from each player's gameplay, rather than a proscriptive story everyone follows (even if that story has "choices", etc.). I won't ignore the fact that Fallout Shelter is immersive and well-designed enough to have provided me with some of this, even as I played it in stolen, guilty 10-minute sessions, sitting in my car by the ocean, before doing something actually good and getting into that ocean to swim. (I think that ~55% of my time in this game has been in that specific context).

But what the f#$* did I have to show for it? And, in fact and more to the point: what the f#$* do I have to show for it? Because Reader, here's what I did. I used my last few caps to resurrect some of those Deathclawed corpses. I put them back to work. I broke down some rooms, so that I'd need less power; I got rid of the Radio s$1t, so that attacks would be less likely; I rebuilt. And there was, for a little while, pleasure in that. Cuz, I mean--you see that 04%, upper-left in the image above? That's my Shelter's happiness, as I sent its Residents out to their open-skied dooms. So there was some kind of challengepleasuresomething in getting that number back into the 90s, where it now resides (might have dipped some; I haven't checked yet today). I prepped for Deathclaws, which in no way required links like that one; it was self-evident, what I'd done wrong (I have not even read that link. I assume it's about Deathclaws, and how to prepare for them. if it isn't: apologies, Reader).

And now I'm...back where I started, I guess? But further along, and... better? Actually I can see that I've overpopulated, so I better build some rooms that produce Food and Water or else ET FUCKING CETERA.

Reader, two questions lie under this post: one big, one semi-. 

The semi-big: what's the significance, culturally morally aesthetically whatever, of these casual games and their insidious microtransactions and their--I'd say--much more insidious microtransactive demands on our attention? Here's a long article about how the whole thing is very crappy. But are definite positives: what big businesses these studios create! And at what cost, really: surely these games aren't as "bad" for us as, for instance, imagery that demeans and objectifies women that we all see every-fucking-where, right? 

So what's the big deal? 

And a ton of creativity goes into these things; I admire it--I'm not joking--every time my little soldiers in Clash of Clans (different game; similar deal) march off to the shores because I've "donated" some of them to a player with whom I'm allied. The argument that these games are "cynical" in the sense of being dashed-off, shoddy, poor worksmanship falls hard at the first hurdle. As I said at the top: talented people, working (I imagine) quite hard, making entertainment products that are profitable.

The big question... you know what? I literally don't even care enough to articulate this question to you, Reader, because I think this post has pretty much run its course and I bet you get, broadly, what the Big Question is and it's a broad question anyway so that's good enough. It's not as if I have or intend to pose an answer to even the semi-big question, above, so:yes, that's it.

I'm going to try to play less Fallout Shelter. Much less, which may mean none, because without the water (haha as it were) of my attention my Shelter will wither and fall into ruin. But: oh well. It's bullsh1t, and I should play it less/not at all, and that's on me. Maybe, if I'd realized this earlier, or been able to act on it earlier, I wouldn't have troubled you with all this. But I didn't. Why not? Dunno.

Next time.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

HliAT #9

How Long It Actually Takes To...

unlock my bike in the carport, ride it to the head of my building's driveway, walk back, drive my car just OUTSIDE my building's driveway (the reason for all this being that the gate is too low for the bike on the car), set my bike up on top of my car, and get going: 04:55.97

This belongs in the now-familiar category of "things I'd really have said take longer because they are fussy and annoying." Not so long, at all. Also, remarkably similar in time to just taking the bike out to ride out (odd).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Progress: Amazing, Incremental, Amazing

Like, two weeks ago? three? I started trying to push up from a headstand into a handstand, in yoga.

I have to put my feet against the wall for this; I'm okay in the headstand no wall, but not really in the handstand.

You've probably guessed the end of this story but I'm TELLING IT ANYWAY. IT'S FAST.

I do yoga most days. Every day at the end of class (when I'm headstandin', mostly) I tried this.

It seemed kind of impossible, at first. Like I'd push push and push and just- seriously, nothing. A slight transference of weight from the crown of my head to my pushing hands.

Then three days ago just vzzzmp: up I went, like nothing.

I wanted to give it a couple days to make sure it was not some crazy fluke. It was not; yesterday I was particularly tired, and the mat was slick with sweat, and my hands were in an awkward position: still did it.

It's really satisfying; it feels strong.

I am actively trying to make this a metaphor for other things in life, because in this case I think basically it totally is.

That's all.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Clash of Clans: a Dialogue

In which an apparently earnest-ish conversation about "gender binaries" in my ex-clan's chat for Clash of Clans, of which if you have not heard that's just fine, is derailed by various misbehaviors and "teen baby diaper lover".

Note: while the images advance in time from top image to bottom image, in a manner to which you, dear Reader, are no doubt accustomed, the chat within each image--the chat window in Clash of Clans--advances from bottom to top.

I give you:

And here's a GIF, in case you wanted to see it in motion:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

HliAT #8

How Long It Actually Takes to...

switch my monitor on its bracket from Landscape to Portrait orientation, meaning: get screwdriver, unscrew 4 screws, reposition monitor (holding it up), rescrew 4 screws, put screwdriver away04:36.00

This is definitely to file under "things I'd overestimate because they seem fussy." I'd've guessed this'd take 4 times as long as this. But it was simple.

counterpoint: installing the second monitor on the same set of brackets, later that night, took almost 2 hours not because of technical issues but because of a dumb stubborness on my part about checking the ONE THING that would've solved a problem I was having ten minutes in... that is dumb, but is how long THAT thing took, which is perhaps why I'd tend to so overestimate stuff like the subject of this HLiaT. "Something always go wrong."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

HliAT #7

How Long It Actually Takes to...

"put the surfboard back," i.e.,: reposition the car, unstrap the board from the room, throw any towels or whatever in the car, throw the strap in the car, reposition the board in the first then the second hanging loop (where it's stored, hanging, in the carpot), put the stick that I use to help with that part back, tidy the back of the hatch a bit: 03:55.60

This one's interesting; another underestimation! I'd've guessed five minutes, and--in so guessing--said to myself "that's way too little." The lesson here's simple: I really dislike futzy things with lots of little business and locking and unlocking and latching and unlatching, and possibly tend to overestimate them.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

HLiaT: #6

biking vs. driving from home to yoga

How Long it Actually Takes To...

set up the darn bike, because it's locked behind the car and you have to get it out and get the keys out of the car and maneuver this that and the other thing so the whole thing takes: 3:57.34

[recap: HLiaT #5]  bike, from the moment you are seated on your bike, all set, to the moment you've locked your bike at Maha Yoga: 08:48.99

bike, from my apartment to Maha Yoga, total (adding ~30 seconds for walk from bike rack, which is right by the studio): 13:17.33


How Long it Actually Takes To...

drive, from my carport to Maha: 4:27.65

walk from a representative parking spot to the studio (further than the bike rack): 02:17.12

drive from home to Maha: 06:44.77

All righty then. Looking at this, seems like biking is worth it unless I'm really cutting it close.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

HliAT, #5

How Long it Actually Takes To...

bike--from the moment you are seated on your bike, all set (it takes a couple minutes to get to this moment - that's for another HliAT)--to the moment you've locked your bike at Maha Yoga: 08:48.99

FIRST EVER HliAT UNDERESTIMATION. Google Maps says the ride alone should take 9 minutes. Yes!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

HliAT, #4

How Long it Actually Takes to...

go from your apartment down 1 flight of stairs quick pick something up in the car then walk out front to where your friend is waiting in her car: 8 minutes

Expected time: 2 minutes


anonymized to protect the innocent. thank you for keeping me honest.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spaceship Crash Dream. June 3, 2015.

i wake up in a space ship that is going down.

i've woken up when "the thing's about to happen", although it's unclear what that is. 

it's strange that i've been sleeping -- that i consciously was like "may as well sleep for these 3-4 hours, before the thing happens" -- because 'the thing' is a landing of some kind in which i may well die.

the spaceship chamber has a broad window towards my head. a bed in which i am laying along the right wall, with disordered covers. an area at the back that is kind of locker/do-things-here ish, with maybe a red toplight, though there is no locker.

the chamber is cold; earlier i'd rolled down the covers, hot, and now i'm cold. and i'm worried that that is because the capsule is failing or is otherwise indicative of something going wrong, of the way i will die.

it is one of those fears that you'd like to discount as essentially 0% chance of happening -- it's only a dream; it really almost certainly won't happen -- but in fact i know in this case that is wrong, that there is a reasonably good chance that i will die in this landing and there's nothing i can do and i am terrified.

there is land -- red, craggy, like NASA pictures of Mars -- racing past beneath and in front of us, looming closer (there are now more windows) and i wonder if i should have on my suit and i don't really know what the land is, and if we're supposed to be coming in that quickly, and in my brain i literally scream the words,  "what is that? WHAT IS THAT?"

later, in Santa Monica, I see an attractive woman who looks like my friend from high school, L---, biking up a hill as I sit in a hotel parking lot; i assume that it's probably not her. then I see C----, another friend from high school and L's recent husband, doing the same. i call his name, and he waits and stops, happy, and we begin walking downhill; he says something about how "he says he's here and everyone says" and i respond with something general about how nice and perfect it is in California so that's why they say that, which feels like i may have missed the point of what he was saying. 

we're walking downhill, and L has biked ahead. i don't mind at all that they didn't look me up, though i knew they were in town from social media, and they must know i live here. it's nice to see C, and maybe i'll get to say "hi" to L soon, as well, and it's pretty as we walk down a hill towards the rocky, curved coast.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Just: Healing

Quick post-fight healing-up-soft-tissue thought:

There is a funny transition when a bit of you goes from being "injured" - in this case, a bruised left thigh that I couldn't bend, etc. - to "functional-but-hurt", when you're trying to start using it again, etc.

You're almost more annoyed at/with it in the second category, even though it is obviously stronger in that category than it was in the first.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Day Before

I weighed 161 pounds this morning. I ate approximately 1,542  calories today; I know this even though it is before 1pm because it's the day before weigh-in, and the fast is on. I burned 0 calories doing exercise, having been explicitly and repeatedly told not to do anything much today by Coach. [update! happily, this is a lie! I also had a light dinner. But I did not count the calories, as by that point I was well at the stage where all that mattered was weight, the actual weight of the things going into, coming out of, my body.]

Leg: Y'know, it'll be glad for a break -- the contusion has kind of knotted into its own tight, weird thing. But I think it's better not to mess with it now, not to "massage it out" or anything. Ride it, fight with it, and then we'll put it back together. People've fought through way way worse.

Get scared of yourself.

I wrote this to a friend, today:
i actually know what you mean, about the "there's a fight at the end?" the training itself is such a thing, it starts to become like its own P90X. no, yup, there's a fight, which is scary: a dude your size and skill level hitting you hard as he can (you have pads on). but you're your size and skill-level too; that's the thing to remember. (oh. i may steal that, for the blog).  
Commence steal: It's a thing I think about. Sure: there's a guy I'll meet tomorrow, and we'll fight. And you know, for the level at which I do this, it'll be pretty real. We'll go at it. And I bet he's fit, and he's trained hard, and that there are things that he's better at than I am.

Also I'm fit. I've trained hard. There are things I'm better at.

So when I say "get scared of yourself" what I mean: imagine fighting someone taller. Or with longer arms. Or who's less tired in the 3rd round. Don't always imagine fighting someone... a better boxer, or tighter in the clinch. Imagine what might be imposing about you, own that and hold that and be that. And remember: tight. action. move. tight. action. move.

I'm totally loopsy right now. You can see the post about food and pooping, the journaling of this day, to get a real clear sense of that.

Here's a list of things that Coach and others said to me, last night and over the last few days. You'll notice that they contradict each other. I'm not including that like, "oh look, how stupid." I'm including it like, "this is what it is, and you have to reconcile for yourself what works and makes sense. It's a tough sport. Sort it out. Go fight hard."

NO you cannot F$*(ING do YOGA! don't DO ANYTHING! REST.
get a massage
don't get a massage
relax. stay calm.
kill him
you're there because you want to be
chop his legs off
listen to your corner, even if you think the advice might get you hurt, if he's saying throw right even if you can't throw that right
don't get a massage the day of the fight
get a massage
get mean. be mean. start being mean to people, now. be nice after. get mean

And everyone, always,  everyone asks how you're feeling.

I also wrote to a friend today that no, I would not get hurt, but instead the fight would be about "joy, fight, movement."

because this, apparently, is how TBI rolls
I hope all that's right. I think it will be. My first fight was just: very exhiliarating, really fun. I was disappointed to lose on decision, but I kept describing it to everyone as "one of the most fun things a person can do," and like that. My second fight was rough: outclassed and outweighed, I got battered about and got hurt. 

I think this one will be more like the first. With more action. Joy. Fight. Move.

There was another thing I wanted to say here. But... I forget. Let's face it, I'm pretty hungry, and I'm not 100% at my sharpest just right now. KnowwhatI'msaying.

Last thing. Then I'm going to move towards trying to sleep, hoping to poop, all of that. I have a tendency, and I think it isn't just me, to frame upcoming things like this in terms of destiny and innate qualities of myself. Good or bad. I will win because I'm the kind of person who... I might lose since I'm the kind of guy who... 

And I don't want to pretend, actually, that I think that is nonsense. Because there is an infinite final reckoning and knowledge; a sum of me and my choices and impacts that fully encompasses, and can therefore reasonably label, the "kind of guy who" I am. However, another way of saying what I just described is God--however you understand that word. In other words, it's not really how our own crazily limited understanding, nevermind in fact probably time itself, constantly branching between possibilities, works. What I mean is that, yes, there's a "kind of" person writing this, at this moment. There's a body, with strengths and with weaknesses. There are habits, tendencies -- there's whatever the material impact of all this training has been.

But there is also, there actually isa wide open field of unknown tomorrows. For 6 minutes, tomorrow evening. Me and this guy will throw ourselves at each other. We'll figure something out; something that emerges as true in those six minutes, for those six minutes.

I'm excited. I'm frightened. I'm excited. It isn't decided; it never is till it's done. We can't know what will be till that bell rings.

tight. action. move.

tight. action. move.

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Neighbors' Dog: Important Things

I'm writing and posting this now in the midst of all the "Cutting Weight, Healing Leg" hurly-burl because it'll just take a minute and, anyway, that's the point. I do "have" that minute.

First, for goodness' sakes please: yes straight-up (I think) this is a story in which in a small way I make a correct/human-good choice. Which I'm writing. On my blog. Think of that what you will. That's not my why, and if it bends you up you can- I dunno. Read Gawker. Whatever. (Not to rag on Gawker. They're fine.).

My neighbors C and M have a really lovely golden retriever, whose name I've always been a tiny bit iffy about: he calls her 'me, I think short for Wilme.

She's a sweet, very good-natured dog. She's a bag of bones. She's old. She's dying.

I saw him carrying her the other day, and asked brightly, "Things okay?" And he shook his head and half-smiled as I expressed sympathy, and he carried her inside.

I had lots of things telling me not to--my focus; my own anti-social nature; the fact that I'm not much of a conversant right now--but I knocked on their door on my way back from my miraculous dinner that I did not think I'd get to eat, today.

Monica's dad was over. Wilme was strewn on her dog-bed, all skin and bones, alert to attention but not really moving. They aren't sure she'll make the night, and if she does then tomorrow, etc. She's an old awesome dog, at the end of her line, and had I not knocked on that door tonight I might not have gotten to say goodbye to her, scratch her chin; might not have gotten to do my best to be warm to two neighbors who've always been very warm to me.

My point is, and man wow it is to myself, past present and future, most of all: it is good, really good, to have things that are a bit crazy that you embrace and devour you up. I like that, and will always try to have that, in various ways, in many parts of my life.

And it's good, in the midst of all that, to remember when it makes a huge difference to just take ten minutes. I'm so glad I did. For myself. Selfishly. And yes, for a good dog. She deserved that scratch. She deserves a bunch more.

Happy trails, Wilme. 

Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Day Before (Training Videos! - Study [2 of 2])

Note: a few of these are silent - that's because YouTube has scrubbed them of copyrighted songs (music plays during workouts at the gym). Don't turn your volume up, trying to hear them, or it'll blast you when a different (not copyrighted???) songs come on halfway through.

Okay, start this one with something a bit different. This drill: I can teep (push-kick) to keep my opponent away, evade (move), or clinch (pull them into that wrestling position). That's it. 

Their job is to come at me, swinging. 

Nick does his job great here, doing some conditioning (medium hard) shots on my body, but just making a point with the head-shots. This drill is exhausting, and requires a decent amount of concentration; it's technically specific and tiring. I like/hate it; I think it's very useful. Thoughts:
- left hand, james! left hand! you see how it flies up sometimes when I block? You see how it drifts away from my head? These are bad things, bad. I need to just think tight, lock it in, left hand. Tight, lock it in, left hand
- so, I need to do more head movement in boxing, yes. But I need to not do... I do this stupid little head swaggle that looks like I'm imitating how people in parts of South Asia say 'yes'. That's great as a communicative gesture, but it doesn't achieve much for me as a dodge or evasion in boxing, because my big long head is still up there on my big long neck. I'm writing about this so I don't get the idea in my head that I'm helping myself with that waggling -- it's maybe a tiny bit better than really being totally still, but actually ducking, actual movement, actually sinking my chin low and keeping it there, protected by my shoulders, is much more important.

Neck wrestling with Nick. Better/different than previous.
- I move around more, hang less, and am cinching Nick round his head, better
- I can't do that with gloves though, really! This is a challenge; trying to recreate your leverage with your hands, with gloves. But I can duplicate that spacing, balance, position. Or try to.
- Throwing more knees. That's good.
- Still not basing enough, not pulling him off balance enough.
- Man, what a burn at the end where Nick negs my fist bump.

And, last one. A defensive drill with Sal. In this drill, he is supposed to come after me boxing (volume, rather than force) and I'm not allowed to do anything but defend or evade (can't teep; not really supposed to clinch, although you'll see that I do). That's it. Get used to the onslaught.

I wish there were more Sal, in this series, but he wasn't around much during training for this fight because he has a business and a life and et cetera. He's a terrific fighter and a really generous guy. I always learn a lot from him. What I learn, watching this drill:
- my guard can still be tighter; both in my rest position and in my parries/dodges
- I take a lot of body shots. This isn't a good thing; they wear on you (and also, I think, you get points for them, although how all that works isn't totally clear to me and doesn't seem to be that rigorously defined). It'd be good if I got out of the way of those, or were better at hunkering in so my head and my body were protected from wide open shots
- I definitely rock it like a boy band here: one direction. I need to juke more, fake more, move my movement around
- several times, I overcommit on a parry and Sal punishes me for it with a light face punch. I need to watch that. Don't overcommit. it's the same thing really as the note above, about my guard, but it's worth saying twice. It's key, for me.

Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Day Before (Training Videos! - Study [1 of 2])

Stephen is taller than I am, which means his jab has good reach and can snap me.
- My left guard is too open/out to the side, and he catches me on it.
- I'm too front facing; I don't want to face sideways, like walking a rail, but I'm just too square-off to the front a lot of the time. It makes me a bigger target, obviously.
- The constant movement is good: be careful not to just jitter on your feet.
- I don't do well with the balance of countering/attacking here; I know that the point of these is to some extent that I'm not the aggressor, but I'm also sure there's a way to achieve that without being as flightily passive as I am here.

I'm sharing this on the blog for one moment: at ~1:50, you'll see me throw a left than an upper with the left, and then talk. What I'm saying basically is don't tell me, I know I know, meaning I know that that's a weak attack that leaves me open and I shouldn't do. Gotta get that in. Actually, I've gotten better with that at least. I used to throw that a lot; I think I did it because Coach does it, but he uses it differently, kind of as a badgering setup, and also is just a much better boxer than I am.

More neck wrestling with Nick. You don't need to watch more than 20 seconds of this. I barely needed to. We're pretty static. Two things I observe, about that:
- part of it is a weird thing that I think is a part of Nick's technique that he particularly deploys against me; basically grinding his skull against mine to put my skull/spine/balance out of alignment (and in pain, or my skull at least). So when we're clamped together for long times, that's happening.
- my note to myself, which is often my note in neck wrestling, is to be more active/dynamic with respect to throwing my opponent off his weight. I do it a few times here, but not much; I'm tired, in part, and happy to just clamp and try to snake my way into a better position against Nick. And I have one good, or at least reasonable, reason, which is that Nick's base is sturdier than mine, so--as happens once here--if I try to throw him off balance I may wind up getting thrown off myself. All the same, the point stands. More dynamic action in the clinch: more pulling and jerking, more knees.

Okay. My attention span is limited, and I'm hungry (although not much I can do about that!). I'm going to go... do something that day-wise rhythm-wise gives me the impression of breaking things up, eating. Then work some. Then come back to do one more set of these.

Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: What I Weigh RIGHT NOW - live update digest

Here it is, the day before and what I was doing, which was basically trying to work/do stuff while fasting and drawing down the weight. All together, entered as I felt it, unedited.

Weigh in is 5/9/15, at 11:00am

5/7/15, 8:30pm
161.6 lbs
actions taken: eat light dinner, actually (2 eggs, on the butts of a loaf of healthybread, mentioned previously); laxatives; research on calorie-DENSE foods, because starting now until 11am Saturday I want to actually get IN calories so I don't totes lose it but have minimal food in my guts

164.2 lbs
Freaky but ok. Have drunk lots of water. Ate that food. Go to bed.

5/8/15, 5am
161 lbs
Kind of perfect. Allow myself cup of liquid coffee. Desert, breakfast stuff. Maybe? Yes. Later today, I'll have to stop eating. Google "Sauna Brentwood". Am not impressed. Consider texting friend with his own sauna. Do. Eat 674 calorie breakfast, spread over 30-40 minutes, possibly too much sugar/carbs, but not bad. Going to stop eating ~3pm today. Drinking, too? Internet.

161.8 lbs
Breakfast (674 cals) + coffee - poo (medium) = this weight. Not so bad. Gonna stop doing this so often, though, cuz... all day every 90 minutes, will go nuts. Gonna work for a few hours, now.

Google "coffee diuretic" find this:
unless additional evidence becomes available indicating cumulative total water deficits in individuals with habitual intakes of significant amounts of caffeine, caffeinated beverages appear to contribute to the daily total water intake similar to that contributed by noncaffeinated beverages.
Am sad. Savor last cup of coffee.

Eat yogurt (Siggi's 2% coconut); flax seeds.
Google "fiber makes you poop" (just checking)

162.6 lbs
couple medium poos + eaten about 1500 calories today = this weight
Coming up on 24-hour mark, wondering what to do. May feel better just cutting it all off there: simpler. Not hungry right now per se, anyway. But may regret, later, not eating now.
Remind self it's not magic. If I don't eat now and I go under weight, I am then free to eat later.
This extraordinary revelation is comforting.

There is no more food. There is no more water. Stopp debating, second-guessing it. Accept it. Go.
Like a fast.
People do this for focus. On purpose, just for itself. Embrace that. Go with that.

161.8 lbs
My brain has gone a bit dopey, ineffective.
CVS: buy laxatives?
Or go to spa, sweat some out so no worries... think think think.
Shave, imagining weight of the hairs as they fall from my face.

From here on out nothing happens -- I don't eat, don't drink, and watch my weight gradually fall to make weight. Or less gradually, if I decide I need/want to sauna or something.

Have not gone to CVs or to that sauna. But. fine. Will go to CVS soon.
Sunshowers start. Which is nice. You know what else is nice? Eating food.

But have peed a couple times. This is freaking me out, on principle.

161.2 lbs
I took my little walk to CVS and imagined that... oh, well.
For those of you who've never cut weight or whatever, all this is totally fine. I mean, it's a bizarre bizarre part of this sport -- the way you stay as big as you can and then get as small as you can. And it's also weird, this swap: how you're "dieting" in a normal way in the weeks leading up to the fight, to get your weight down in a normal way, but then it flips in these last couple of days, and anything with weight (liquids!) becomes an enemy. But what I mean is it's fine; there are people who fight who'd've spent this day in and out of saunas, doing crazy unhealthy shit. I'm just fasting. I feel loopy and weird, and DEFINITELY hope that that weigh-in is promptly at 11am tomorrow so I can get some food on, but I'm fine. People fast all the time. Seriously. And the weight will shed in its way, as it does.

It'd be rad if I just took a big, big poop. Ha-hey!

160.2 lbs
Me: coach you got a minute for some quick food/weight advice? everything's fine. 7:15 PM
Victor Acosta: whats up man 7:15 PM
Me: thanks. lemme send a few texts and i'll say "done" when they are! 7:16 PM
Me: just weighed myself: 160.2 7:16 PM
Me: been nil by mouth since about 10am 7:16 PM
Me: totally not like dying, but obviously hungry; don't want to overdo it or not sleep well, etc. 7:16 PM
Me: what's your advice: protein bar or something densely caloric okay, or keep nil by mouth? 7:17 PM
Me: i can manage either. whatever you think leaves me stronger at 5pm tomorrow. DONE. 7:17 PM
Victor Acosta: caloricly dense complex carbs and high protein to keep you satiated 7:17 PM
Me: this is stupid (i know what complex carbs are) but the night before fights, what was your go-to carb thing? 7:18 PM
Victor Acosta: drink water, you'll prob end up underweight come tomorrow morning, 7:18 PM
Victor Acosta: just make sure you 'vacate' 😏 7:18 PM
Victor Acosta: oh man by this point i was always cutting water weight so i would be in a fasted state for a long time 9:19 PM
Me: i have looked to 'vacation'. as it were. earlier. 7:19 PM
Victor Acosta: Kale, beans and some lean protein 7:19 PM
Me: cool coach. that's really helpful. thanks. 7:19 PM
Victor Acosta: 👍 7:24 PM

161.2 lbs
Cuz I went and HAD DINNER. The dinner I had, and by weight (I could give zero $h1ts at this point about calories; I hope  this was that 10k-calorie chicken breast they've been working on):
0.46 lb chicken breast
0.2 lb butternut squash with caramelized onion
0.11 lb "dark leafy green quinoa" (yes, Whole Foods)
And after weighing myself (which is weird, because it works well including this:
0.15 lb Superfood Carrot Muffin (Beaming)
Separately, now, I am sipping a cup of green tea. Because. And because dehydration is the enemy. The water in this tea (meaning: this tea, pretty much) weighs over 0.5 lbs: I know, I weighed it, pouring it out. But I can't freak out about that. So I'm going to bed around 162, is my guess (we'll see). That ought to be right for the morning. Again, we shall see. But I think it could be--touch wood-- that this has all been coordinated pretty well. If so, it's thanks in large part to that assist from Coach. I definitely would've just famished that out.
It's amazing. I feel better about the whole world.

~11pm (bedtime)
161.2 lbs
superfood carrot muffin + tea - poo = this weight

5/9/15 (fight day), 2:30(ish)am
159.6 lbs

158.8 lbs

158.8 or 158.6 lbs
The scale flickers, goes back and forth. I get a "net wt. 1 lb." bag of lentils to make sure it's okay; it seems to be, the lentils add exactly a pound to my weight (not so worried about the "net" part -- the plastic bag that they're in probably weighs barely anything)
So, have light breakfast:
0.452 lbs hydration (coffee, actually, ah) + 0.2 lbs protein bar
retire the pen I've had in my kitchen for 2 weeks, marking down calories of everything on bits of paper
I weigh the protein bar on the kitchen scale 3 times to make sure
I make the coffee so hot that it burns my tongue; I feel guilty about drinking it because of caffeine not being such a diuretic, and want to maximize its poo-facilitating hotness ability

6:41am (working)
159.4 lbs
wearing the very boxer briefs I'll wear for the weigh-in (and fight)

At this point I decide: we're good. I didn't think I'd get to eat at all, today. Then:

158.8 lbs
bonus poo!
have a few sips of water

158.2 lbs
after another bonus poo
and another protein bar
eat functional protein burrito, feeling guilty but also for real
do whole thing calibrating scale again, carrying 2 lb (on kitchen scale) jug of water: yes, it increases my weight by exactly 2 lbs. the scale seems to be fine.

158.2 lbs
it alarms me that the burrito, which weighs a third of a pound, is not showing up
try again stepping differently:
158.8 lbs
good. makes more sense
with the cup of water i'll sip on the way in my hand: 159.6. i'll sip it slowly.

stopped working around 9. packed up: didn't take long, was all set.

feed cats. put on clothes.

leave for weigh-in.

Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Day Before (Training Video Silly Megamix!)

I am posting this silly thing first, now. It is a silly thing (sillier than the awesome GIFs, which are a total GIFt (yeah!)): Google mixing some videos with jaunty underscoring.

It makes it seem like a trailer for a summercamp or something.

Anyway. Enjoy. Or whatever.

If you want, later today I will post a bunch of these videos and some others with my thoughts/notes as I go through them, in the entry "Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Day Before (Training Videos! - Study).

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Freaking Back/Shoulder rrrgh

I weighed 160.6 pounds this morning. Ate food today. Did muay thai (after this).

Leg: not what I'm talking about here.

First off: I'm drunk. This is TWO days before: Thursday morning.
Second: Well, f&#k.

This is not a big crisis. But it's annoying; I'm annoyed. Last night in training, I got dumped (thrown to the ground) pretty hard, neck wrestling. I felt a shimmer go down my left side and shoulder, and indeed today my shoulder/back hurts and is pretty sore. The kind of sore where under normal circumstances you'd stay off of it, "give it a few days." I have many thoughts about this.

(1) It means I won't do yoga today, certainly. 
And I may not tomorrow. This is not that big a deal. Except that I really like doing yoga, and it's calming, and it does feel like calming things are very valuable, at this moment. So I find it sad/frustrating to miss it. Also ffs I bought an unlimited pass for this month.

(2) It better get better tootsweet tonight
Like, I better have some Wolverine-ass type of sleep and wake-up basically like "oh yeah, that. barely there." Better. I can muscle through it for the fight, it's not that bad, but I want to be healthy strong and hard, and it's my jab hand. I think it will. I don't think I'm just saying that. I think that it will.

(3) I am a mix of angry/annoyed and appreciative that it happened. 
Again, all in earnest. Annoyed at myself that I let myself get dumped. Perhaps a tiny bit annoyed at my partner, because perhaps that hard a dump wasn't necessary, two days before a fight. BUT more appreciative of him, REALLY, for this reason: he's a shorter, stronger guy than me. He went low, picked me up, dumped he hard as I tried to knee. I'm now very aware that a shorter, strong guy might do that. GUESS WHAT I REALLY MIGHT BE FIGHTING A SHORT STRONG GUY. So, again, maybe awesomer if this happens 5 days before a fight, 2 weeks before, rather than 2 days. But that reminder is actually very valuable, because in the week before fighting there is (rightly!) a sensitivity about hurting the fighter, and ruining everyone's work. And the real downside to this is if you go in the ring and are suddenly surprised at some dude trying to hit you fucking hard. So: good reminder. That dump hurt. This hurts, right now. If that short strong guy on Saturday tries this, I'll have it in mind and hopefully answer back.

And I really think that's part of why the dude who dumped me did, and operates as he does in training, so when I say that I'm grateful, and that it outweighs the displeasure, I mean it.

Also: ffs. 2 days. Can't a guy cut a break?

It'll be fine. No yoga. Heat packs. Rest.


Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Part Don't Know Things

I weighed 159.4 lbs this morning. I ate approximately 2,785 calories today, and burned 424 calories doing exercise (muay thai).


This is the deep grouchy.

Three days before fight. Just: tired, and hungry; through the thick of the training and tapering so not amping every second on that, but also not in the "coast into the fight"/"go crazy" phase, just... training, hungry, tired.

I took a bang (got dumped to the ground in the clinch) tonight, and it still smarts, and I think that's got me mad, too. That stuff makes me... grouchy. And mad.

Y'know, I promised I wouldn't go on if I didn't have much to say. Elsewhere, I'll have things to say. Peace out.

Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Making Weight

I'm sitting here hungry and I weigh 159.4 pounds so I thought I'd write a quick something that's just about the diet, weight, cutting.

I'm now at the right weight. I don't want to lose or to gain. That's annoying and hard, in itself, because we all lose and gain. I'd rather not have to not drink water, or sweat out a yoga class, day of the fight. So I monitor that.

I'm listening to Kindred, the new Passion Pit album, as I write this. It's good.

Here are some pictures to help tell this story.

What is this? You know what this is. Ignore the cat food on the right, things aren't that crazy around here. It's a bunch of protein bars of various kinds, because these are a really good tool to know exactly how many calories you're getting, get some sugar in, and also get a good dose of protein, which --as I've written previously--is really key for me to not kind of get into a really dire place.

without all that hair!
What is this? An object lesson in how crazy you can kind of get during this. I did not get my hair cut because of the fight, or rather because of weight cutting. I'd been meaning to, and wanted to. did ask them to sweep it up and let me take it home and weigh it because I was curious how much weight I was "buying" myself by getting my haircut. You can't see the decimal but you can intuit it from that front-zero; the answer is 0.11 lbs. In other words like nothing. Really disappointing: I had pretty long hair! Imagine if you could drop like a half-pound just cutting your hair! Oh well.
But I

I include this not as humor or as oh ho-ho, look how extreme. My experience with the MyFitnessPal app is that it is very useful as a database and therefore for tracking calories, but that its models for how many calories you should be eating are way too low and should be viewed with caution or ignored totally. So if it is telling you this... man. I am not at all worried about hurting my long-term health at the level and the amount I do this; I don't cut that much weight, for that long, and pete's sake I've done this a handful of times over the last couple years in an amateur way, just for fun. But it does make me feel, in the pit of my stomach, a sympathy for men and women who really fight competitively at professional or near-professional levels. Honestly, the weight and eating stuff must totally screw up some people's lives, and I hope it doesn't impact their health too negatively.

On a happier note, some food recs:
-- I have mentioned these burritos. I mention them again, because the sponsorship is taking a minute to come through or something. You, reader: you should eat these. I mean just in general. They are good.
-- I now mention this bread. It it also so good, and yeah yeah, lower calorie than most breads which is nice but I SWEAR it is also just good. I am going to continue eating it after this whole thing is done.

Here's another thing you really learn when you're counting calories and working out pretty hard: chew your food. I forget to do this all the time, in general; not like literally, but I find I've eaten half of my whatever in bolted bites, big boluses (plural? sp?) going down my throat without any savoring or enjoyment. When you're aching for every calorie, you really chew, really savor. Actually, possibly to a weird degree. Probably, it's pretty weird to watch me eat right now.

I've learned two things: have a schedule and an idea of it, but also eat when you're hungry. This is in a sense contradictory, of course, and definitely goes into that category of thought when people are like "don't push yourself" but what they really mean is "don't push yourself, so long as basically all the time you are really pushing yourself." But it's pretty commonplace to hear diet-advice-givers dismiss the idea of skipping meals as harmful, and this goes with that. If I let myself get really hungry, I'm (a) miserable for that length of time, which sucks, and (b) more likely to just not gauge right when I do eat. Versus eating when I'm hungry, and by "eating" I mean a reasonably solid meal (300 - 500 calories), not a little snack. I also basically just eat mostly before training, as I've told you guys, because a "benefit" of training until you're very tired is that you're not very hungry after that, usually. Whereas before my body is pretty acutely aware of its calorie thresholds, and it's very happy for the food I give it.

And, last thing! I'll also observe--and just observe and be done here, because why belabor this kind of thing, but hey--what you want to know during this whole process is what you weigh. You and whatver the parts of your food your body has turned into you; i.e., you're not interested in water weight or stuff that's just passing (really: because why overestimate? that's eating that you could be doing!). So, within reason--and I mean that, like I've done it once in this whole process I've been through with you guys: laxatives.

And with that: out.

Cutting Weight, Healing Leg: Part 9

I weighed 162 (wtf?? I know wtf. I ate a lot of veggies yesterday and did not poop) pounds this morning. I ate approximately 2,575 calories today, and burned approximately 861 calories doing exercise (muay thai: big day).

Leg: yes. Still knotted, and won't be perfect, and I'm not hitting with my right knee still. But: yes.


So, here we are on one of these weird euphoric highs from a day of intense training, training that does not happen at night (this makes a big difference for me, in all respects), and a beautiful California day in which everything is right.

I felt flickers today, boxing--still just boxing, boxing boxing boxing; I think Coach has done a smart thing with the leg situation, which is this boxing routine that I'll describe more in the post with those videos--of fun. Flickers where I wasn't thinking tactics or aggression or defense, but just I was having fun, moving around. I think that's partially a function of it being a somehow less brutal day than others, maybe. And certainly a function of yesterday having been an off day, just yoga. But also it's working the sport, and getting in my own dumb way better at it. I like this thing that Coach is hammering me about--move move move, action action action--and I hope I get better at it, hope I execute, hope hope hope push push push go.

Fun. It is great when it is, and kind of wonderful that it can be, in the midst of pretty intense training. But it is. It is is is.