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Archive for April, 2008

Pretty good physical training last few days.

Sunday, went to the Y and did the 15-8-4 progression De Vany recommends, focusing on side press with dumb bells, and then going to legs. Did the progression for deadlifts, but my forearms were pretty smoked, so I went a little heavier on the leg press sled (the full stack). Then the leg curl and extension machines.

Monday was nice. Slid on down after work to work out with Walt and Nancy at the gym in their apartment complex. Got some good sweat going. Mostly dumb bell and body weight stuff. Then over to the OG (Olive Garden 🙂 ) where we shared some appetizers (including calamari–woo hoo!). I ended up with a chicken cesear salad I couldn’t even finish.

Tonight, I hit it pretty hard with the Seal Training “Ultimate Aerobic Workout”. I’ve had the whole set for years, but it’s the aerobic workout one that I remember best. Funny thing is, in the video (and I’m waiting for the DVD to finally come out, if it ever does) Scott says that this is the training of the future. Sure enough, he’s being proved right. The workout is relatively simple, but what it amounts to is a Tabata-type protocol that mixes highly intense bodyweight exercises with somewhat lighter recovery periods. And now, you see that principle being used all over the place.

Good stuff. Was able to even work a couple units of kettlebell work in there at the end of each bodyweight cycle.

After that, I went in search of some shorts, ‘coz my Ex Officio Amphibian shorts are finally starting to shred. I found some at Sports Authority, then made my way over to the Carrabbas. Felt like having a soup and salad like last night’s fare.

Ordered the calamari appetizer, the small salad, and cup o’ soup (sausage and lentil, I think). I didn’t even get through all of the calamari before I was calling for a box to take the stuff home. The waiter guy brought the salad, and I just had it boxed up. He didn’t even order the soup.

It was a pretty big order of calamari, but I just wonder if working out blunted my hunger somewhat. I figured I’d be pretty hungry by the time food rolled around. I had lunch, but not much after that, and I didn’t eat dinner ’til like, close to 2100. Plus, I didn’t have much last evening, either.

Whatever. If that’s all I can handle, I’ll just go with it, and if I need more, I’ll eat. And there you have it. I do loves me some squid…

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A group of us went here today. Fun was had, grapes were stomped, hooliganism occurred, bottles were broken, sangria was spilled. There may be photos to prove it…

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Getting a Complex

Yes!

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I’ve been enjoying the Ayn Rand book, Atlas Shrugged. Yeah, finally getting around to reading it. At least I’m pretty sure I didn’t read it before. I read a lot as a kid, and this may be one of those books we had to do in school, that I might have forgotten. Though frankly, I don’t think I really forgot the books I did have to read, even if I have forgotten the content of them.

Lots of good stuff here, although I do have some problems with her weird saintly-by-way-of-selfishness, nobility-because-of-purity-of-purpose picture of industrialists. Lots of stuff to admire in many of them, but they are a bit of a caricature (or romanticization) the same way Burroughs and others wrote of the Noble Savage ideal (Tarzan, et al).

Real industrialists and real industries are/were not always so noble. Witness the rape of my home state, West Virginia. The unfortunate legacy of that is really powerful unions, rampant corruption (union, corporate, and government–and their unholy alliances), and a heavy welfare state attitude. Which is why WV almost always overwhelmingly votes Democrat. And to paraphrase Sam Kinison, while I certainly don’t approve of it, I do understand it.

Her “everyone who is not super highly obsessed by building monster businesses is a loser” portrayals are little tiresome, too. Though some of the best stuff in the book, and I mean it is wonderful, is the circular logic (or better–“illogic”) of her villains or antagonists.

Here’s a scene I just have to share–as a cabal of fellows are together engineering the slide of the country into socialism, the economic situation keeps getting worse and worse. The “government” keeps gutting the business class, basically punishing productive people for being productive through outrageous laws, regulations, harassment, taxation, etc. Yet none of them seemed to have figured out that it’s their seemingly altruistic (but at base, actually selfish) motives and resultant policies that are driving the country to hell in a handbasket, and fast (at least so far it’s not been revealed that any of the antagonists actually know that they’re doing it. Maybe there’s an evil mastermind at the center of it all. I haven’t gotten there, yet). Herewith:

Well, if you want to talk practice,” said Fred Kinnan, “then let me tell you we can’t worry about businessmen at a time like this. What we’ve got to think about is jobs. More jobs for the people. In my unions, every man who’s working is feeding five who aren’t, not counting his own pack of starving relatives. If you want my advice–oh, I know you won’t go for it, but it’s just a thought–issue a directive making it compulsory to add, say, one-third more men to every payroll in the country.

I about busted a gut when I read that one. And there’s tons of beautiful examples like that sprinkled liberally (though I hesitate to use the word 😉 ) throughout. Well, sprinkled is also too light of a word–“pounded in like railroad spikes with a sledgehammer” is more like it–as if she were trying to make a point… 🙂

Thanks to Nicki for asking me to read it–it’s one of those I’d been meaning to, but never got around to. Though it’s in some ways pretty depressing, with the slide of the world into a really dark place (so far); there is plenty of humor, and some glorious triumph as well.

There’s lots of the same thing in the C.S. Lewis book, That Hideous Strength, in case anyone was curious. Lots of the same looming ominousness, and the heroes fighting a battle against forces that are subtle, sneaky, and hide behind all manner of good-seeming intentions (the bad guys are organized into an organization called “N.I.C.E.,” a masterstroke).

He makes a great statement at one point, about the ominous intents of the antagonists, if I may paraphrase from memory: “Our main advantage is that they hate each other as much, if not more than they hate us.” That sentence would serve as well for the villains of Atlas.

Oh, and anothah thing. Starting on the bottom of page 380 (of my Signet 50th Anniversary Edition) is the best rant I’ve read or heard in a long time, and it goes on for five pages of small type. Awesome. Literally.

And it’s probably the most uplifting rant that I would ever actually name a “rant.”

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Bike Today

Not that I’m in love with my bike or anything… but I did just have to take a pre-ride photo for today. Why–I dunno, just did (okay–maybe I am in love with my bike, just a little bit 🙂 ).

Pre-ride shot of my bike, Sunday, 13 Apr 2008.

Oh, and no, it’s not orange (although I like orange/bronze on vehicles). That’s just the funny light of the morning doing weird things in my camera phone. Enjoy.

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Found a video again on YouTube of the Blackwater 100 Race from Davis, WV. I’ve looked a few times, but only a couple come up. This one is from 1988, I believe. (Love that 1980’s videography and graphics… 🙂 )

As kids we went there as a family, in more of the heydays of the motorcycle racing. I think it was in the late ’70s or early ’80s when we finally made it there. I think after a while it became more of an ATV race, and I think they moved it somewhere else finally, due to environmental concerns.

Our cousins were living there at the time, and we hung out with them, then watched the race. It was a hundred miles long, and they did either 20 or 25 mile laps, depending on the year.

The Davis area is beautiful, and has all sorts terrain to ride the race through. Rocks, mountains, powerline cuts, creeks, streams & rivers, and most infamously, the bogs.

In the video at right, you’ll see two of the river crossings, the one at the beginning of the race, and the Route 93 crossing. Spectators were strung all along the course, but those were the most popular places to hang out because they were relatively easy to get to and close to Davis.

And there were several stretches, I’m sure where it was quite lonely for the rider, places where no spectator could or would get to. One was considered an excellent rider to have even made one full lap, let alone the full race.

Ahh, good times. I love that fact that the “spectators” at the river crossings were widely known and appreciated (mostly) for actually helping the riders make it through. In fact, it’s the only race I know where the spectators are actually expected to lend a hand at one of the most treacherous parts of the course. I think that is wonderful and really brings a feeling of participation to the sport. The riders were professionals and amateurs alike, and so were many of the spectators, so everybody kind of knew where everybody else was coming from.

As a family experience, both in general, and for ours, it was a great time, and still well appreciated by me.

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SP-03

Some explanation–since I’ve been getting views on the SP-03 videos over in the video “widget.” In September 2003, I and many of the members of our Reserve unit packed up and went to Oahu, Hawaii to participate in a training exercise for the 25th ID (Infantry Division).

They are stationed on Oahu, and were to be deploying to Afghanistan six months or so later. So they wanted to train up. As with most units in the United States military, they are already well trained in military operations–how to shoot stuff, how to blow up things, how to organize and supply and conduct themselves in battle.

However, in the world today, there’s much more going on than the proper way to clean your rifle and keep the sights on the enemy.

This training was all about conducting they type of warfare we’re all familiar with nowadays from the news–fighting a minority of bad guys while not hurting (at worst) and helping (at best) the good guys.

So for this kind of wargaming, there are now places to train troops before sending them to a destination. The most sophisticated use ultra-accurate mock-ups of villages and terrain, and well-trained personnel that know the culture and hopefully speak the language to teach the troops what to look for and how to most effectively interact with the local populations.

In the case of the 25th, the training was not quite as fancy or total as some of the current simulation villages. It was conducted on the island, and we Reservists provided the warm bodies to be the local population.

We were given personas to play out. Mind you, we were not Army, nor were we Civil Affairs types. But we did the best we could, acting out either hostile, neutral, or friendly local characterizations. So, apologies to anyone of those intended cultures, we tried–and for most of us neither knowing the language or the culture in depth, we did a fairly effective job of providing push-back to the troops.

I’m very proud of what we did. We helped the troops fail. Yes–fail. By failing at several spots in the training, they were able to look at what they did wrong and rectify it. I like to think that we therefore saved lives by doing so–both our troops and locals as well. After a particularly bad incident, the commanding General stopped the exercise and called a reset–just like a video game.

The troops learned that: it’s BAD to blow up the mosque of a village that you want to be friendly toward you and your cause; it’s BAD to kill all the villagers to save the village… etc.

One of our unit, Frank (and not remembering his last name right now–sorry Frank!) brought a Sony videocam, and filmed several days worth of action, mostly at his village, the MOUT that was named Kardez in the exercise.

I think he did a great job with a hand-held, non-commercial video camera, and I hope you’ll forgive some of the darkness of the night attack. The little camera was doing the best it could!

Others of us were stationed up in the Kahuku Mountains at a village called “Piersonville,” and still others were at a displaced persons camp, also in the Kahukus, a little ways from us.

The slide show was put together from digital photos from many members of our unit. I believe it was Jason Stahl that put the slide show and the movie together. For what he had–some random imagery, music off the ‘net, and a laptop, I think he did a great job! Jason is an old buddy of mine I was stationed in Iceland with. He was enlisted as a maintenance guy there. Then he show up in our unit as an officer. Gosh–there’s no telling with some people… 🙂

He showed the slideshow and movie at the end-of-training awards banquet, which was really cool and quite moving.

Standard disclaimer #1: As far as I know, there is no copyright on this stuff, and copies were given to anyone in the unit who asked for them. But if you see this footage anywhere else, just know who actually created it, and neither claim false credit for its creation, nor accept false claims of credit.

Standard disclaimer #2: Yeah, Hawaii. Beautiful. But if you’ve ever been there, then you might know how rugged the mountain terrain is, and how hot, wet, and nasty it can get up there (as you might notice from some of the footage in the movie and slideshow). And this was no pleasure cruise. Mind you, many of the Reservists brought family, because most nights we got to go back to the hotel. No family members were hurt in the making of this flim… 🙂 And I’m sure they had a good time while we were all sweating our tails off with those Afghan hats on and fighting off mosquitos and centipedes.

That’s not to say that we didn’t have time off about half-way through when they reset the training. So I did get to go down and hit the beach one day, and again the day we were done. And I did get time when the day was done to go to a few places to check out the island. I have to say, I really like the island! Though having lived on a tropical island for a couple of years beforehand, I understand how people say they can get “island fever,” and need to finally go somewhere else.

All in all, I’d say that it was worth it, both on a professional, and personal level. I feel that I both got a lot, and gave a lot, and that’s a win-win that I can live the rest of my life with proudly.

*SP-03 — From our unit’s perspective, the trip was called SP-03 for “Special Project 2003.” If I remember correctly (and I could be wrong) the exercise was called “Night Viper” by the 25th ID.

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