Sunday, December 31, 2006

UFC 66 Musings (and Spoilers)

Around 8:40pm I headed to my local sports bar to watch UFC 66. When I made my one person reservation they told me I would be sharing a table, which was fine by me. I ended up sharing a table in the back with a really nice couple named J and M. We had a good view of the big screen and we had some short between-fights conversations. I had forgotten that people smoke in bars since bars in Toronto have been smoke-free for some time. Still, cigarette smoke doesn't bother me, except when it obscurs the screen.

The card was a delight. I really like MMA: the diverse backgrounds of the fighters, the pesonalities, the courtesy and sportsmanship most of them display, which will probably dissipate as the sport goes mainstream, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. Here are some observations I jotted down while watching. Next time (UFC67 is Feb 3) I may just bring my laptop and live-blog it.

The broadcast started at 9:00pm, and the first fight got underway at 9:12 or so. [Spoilers follow!]

1. Bisping/Schafer: Schafer looked tense, Bispring looked relaxed and happy. Bisping was wearing camo trunks, which annoyed me. I don't like people who didn't actually serve in the military wearing camouflage (exception: hunters while hunting). Schafer did well in the beginning, but then Bisping took control and won with a TKO. At this point I realised that the bar was too noisy for me to hear much of the post-fight interviews and commentary.

2. Cruz/Arlovsky: I took an immediate liking to Arlovsky for three reasons: first, he reminded me of a Russian guy from the gym in Jerusalem. Second, because he was wearing the close-fitting trunks rather than the floppy trunks most fighters wear. The floppy trunks just look sloppy to me, as if someone left their surfboard at home. Third, because he actually bowed in and bowed out of the octagon, like you do when you step on and off the mat at a martial arts school. I wasn't impressed with the illegal kick to the face, but the strike that followed after the ref (Herb Dean) gave him a talking-to was lovely and seemed to come out of nowhere. That was the beginning of the end for Cruz in this fight. I was struck by the courtesy, as the fighters parted with a handshake at the end of the fight.

3. MacDonald/Leben: Leben looked tense, MacDonald looked relaxed. According to the stats he's got a 6 inch reach advatage. I start to think that the person who looks happier at the beginning of the fight is more likely to win. I was looking forward to this fight, because MacDonald was the only Canadian on this card. I'm cheering for MacDonald because he's Canadian and because he's older, 31 to Leben's 26. I was so tense during this fight. At the beginning of the fight, when they show the stats for each fighter, it said that one of Leben's strengths is "sprawl and brawl". What the heck is that, a technical term? During the first round Leben tries all sorts of things but MacDonald keeps grabbing/clinching and effectively shuts him down. At the end of the first round the camera cuts to the audience and we get a shot of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf mock wrestling. They look very sweet. Hey, I think that UFC makes a perfect date night too. :-) In round two MacDonald finishes things off with a submission that is so lovely I could write a poem about it. (Relax, I'm not going to.) More courtesy at the post fight interviews, as Leben says something to the effect of "I made a mistake: it's his fault he won, it's my fault I lost". MacDonald takes the opportunity to say hi to his kids watching at home. This is the best fight so far, and not just because the Canadian won.

In between fights we get promos of UFC 67 on Feb 3, which will feature the UFC debut of Cro Cop. At this point I clarify to my tablemates why the promos don't actually have any footage of Cro Cop. They're thinking of going to Las Vegas to see this card live.

4. Griffin/Jardine: The crowd at the bar is mostly pro-Griffin. I like Jardine. First of all, he was born in Butte, MT, and I've actually been to Butte. Second, I happen to think he's better looking: not many men can carry off the bald + goatee look, but he manages to do so. Jardine sees an opening and takes it. He strikes, and you can see the exact moment when he gets this look on his face, when realisation dawns that his strike damaged Griffin; I think it's about 29 seconds before the end of the first round. Then he goes in to finish it. The ref (John McCarthy) stops it with 19 seconds left, which is a hard way to lose, but it was the right call. Jardine's strikes are making Griffin's head bounce off the mat. At the end Griffin is devastated. I think everyone including him was expecting him to win and he probably feels he let the entire universe down. The camera cuts to him for a split second and he's sobbing. The morons at the table to the right of me start laughing/jeering, which makes me furious. None of them look like they know what training is, and I highly doubt any of them could last in the octagon with anyone for ten seconds. Idiots.

5. Alves/DeSouza: Alves is 23, DeSouza is 32, so I'm cheering for DeSouza, but the description for Alves says he can do both Muay Thai and BJJ, and I'm curious to see what the kid can do. Alves kneels and crosses himself after entering the octagon. When the fight starts they're both hesitant, testing each other. DeSouza just manages to survive the second round by clinching to stop Alves' barrage. But Alves ends it quickly at the beginning of the second round. I expect we'll hear more from Alves.

More flashes to celebrities in the audience. Since I don't own a tv I don't know most of them and don't particularly care.

6. Ortiz/Liddell: Finally. It starts around 11:10pm. I can't believe how fast the evening has gone by. I've been so engrossed in the fight I've forgotten to order food. Since the start of the broadcast UFC has been encouraging fans to go to their web site and vote as to whom they think will win this fight. at 9:15pm only 36% think Ortiz will win, at 9:46pm the % goes up to 43, and at 10:09pm it's up at 47%. Hmm. Does that mean Ortiz fans don't bother tuning in to the broadcast until later? Most of the people at the bar are pro-Liddell, but there is a small and vocal group of Ortiz supporters to my left.

Ortiz and his entourage enter in their coordinating costumes. He's got a silly kerchief on his head. (Note to fighters everywhere: only about 0.5% of you can carry off that look. Buy a toque instead. Op. cit. Jardine.) Ortiz doesn't remove his shirt for the pre-fight check. The first word that comes to my mind is primadonna; I don't care what it says on your shirt, go through the check like everyone else. Twit. Liddell enters looking relaxed and focused at the same time. No stupid kerchief, thank God. He takes off his shirt for the check without fussing.

The fight starts. The ref is Mario Yamasake, who also officiated the Bisping/Schafer fight. While Ortiz makes a couple of attempts at takedowns, Liddell stays upright. So Ortiz tries to go toe-to-toe with him. Nothing doing. At one point Liddell attempts a sweep. I was expecting him to (read the April 27 Real Fighter article on Liddell's site to see why). I stopped scribbling and just enjoyed the fight. Towards the end of the first round Ortiz is bleeding from a cut over his eye, but doesn't seem too bothered by it. I expect he's got a decent cutman in that identically dressed entourage of his. I don't have enough notes from this fight to do it justice, but there are plenty of reports online. The fight did make it to the third round, where it ended with a a Liddell victory. Ortiz made some gracious comments in the post fight interview, saying that he brought his A game and that this was almost the best that he could fight, but I'm still annoyed about the shirt antics. Liddell's post-fight interview was simple and professional: he invited people to the afterparty and noted the sponsor, a movie called 300. The movie is on my must-see list in any case. The fact that there's a Frank Miller comic book involved increases the chances that my students will see it too, which means that they'll learn about the battle of Thermopylae. It's a good thing. :-)

Once the main event was over people started to leave, but I stayed to watch the Marrero-Gonzaga fight. Lots of groundwork in this one, with the fighters spending a lot of time in the guard. It ended with submission by Gonzaga. I'm disappointed that the Singer-Okami and Wellisch-Perosh fights weren't broadcast. Couldn't UFC just tack them on to the end of the broadcast? What's the problem?

Full results are on the UFC site here. Go read and enjoy. And that's it: my first attempt at sports writing. :-) Next attempt February 3. Anyone else out there planning to watch it? Maybe we could do a blogburst.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Regrets

I'm proud to recall
that at no time at all
and with no other recourses
but my own resources,
with firm application
and determination...
I made a fool of myself!
--
The Court Jester
I'm not going into details except to say that I made a tech support call last night that should really end up on one of those "stupid tech support" calls lists that you find on the internet. I told the tech person at the end of the call that they have my permission to put this call on such a list, as long as they keep my name off.

Speaking of the Court Jester, why doesn't anyone make clean and funny comedies anymore? I watched the 40 yr old virgin DVD on my laptop yesterday and did not like it at all. I really don't appreciate unnecessary profanity and crude humour (yes, I'm a prude, so?). Why do I bother taking comedies out of the library? If they're made after 1965 they're invariably too crude for my taste. The one bright spot in this movie was the improbable musical closing number. I returned the dvd and got Walking Tall and House of Flying Daggers instead. Simple, straightforward, uncomplicated action movies.

I've decided to stop this dating thing, blind or non, until I'm finished with the Maspik Teruzim project. I know I barely started, but I can't put myself out there if I know I'm not the best me I can be. Wow, just writing that makes me feel calmer and happier. I have unfinished business on the fitness and health front. The reason I managed to drop the ~55lbs and get stronger was because I made it a priority, and I'm not going to finish the project, hit my lifting goals and drop 20-25lbs (and maybe one day lift in a competition in the 114 lbs weight class) until I make training & nutrition the top priorities again.

I'm looking forward to 2007 even though the only thing I have planned for tomorrow is grading and going to sleep early. I've felt lethargic since Thursday, but I did get things done; I bought a storage tote for my summer clothes and divided the remaining clothes into casual/workout closet and dressy closet. I moved the bookshelves, the comfy reading chair and the new standing lamp into the bedroom and reshelved all the books and magazines. This leaves the living room furniture-less. The more time goes by the less inclined I am to buy furniture for the living room. I'm looking at it as my bodyweight exercise space. There's a mat, there's skipping rope, I might make a sandbag, what else do I need?

A cold sore appeared yesterday evening, o joy ... Lousy food choices + not enough H20 + through-the-roof levels of stress will do that. What's stressing me? The fact that as usual during a break I did not do all the things I planned to do, did not go to the gym as often as I planned to, did not clean up the food till this week... and now I'm wasting time and blogging words on regret: how dumb is that? Also the fact that I have to do laundry and the laundry room in my apartment building is under repair and closed till at least Tuesday. The last cs was back in Oct 05, and I am not going to whine over one per year, as annoying as it is, when I have relatives with serious ailments going in and out of hospital. I realise scientists are busy with cancer and heart disease and such, but can some enterprising genius invent a one day single dose cure for these? It would be a cash cow, considering that by age 50, 80%-90% of the population carries the virus that causes them.

Friday, December 29, 2006

No Guests

I was supposed to have guests from Washington DC this week but they cancelled because they couldn't find an affordable flight. I'm disappointed that they didn't get to visit and I didn't get to show off Kansas City, but I told them they're welcome any time. Maybe by the time they reschedule I'll have more furniture...

UFC 66 tomorrow night; there are now three (yay!) places showing it reasonably close to me. H00ters, Buffal0 Wild Wings and the F0x and H0und. Not sure which one I will go to but I'm tending towards the latter. Speaking of MMA, back in July T-Nation began a semi-regular series called MMA Talk: here are the installments thus far, #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6. Makes for interesting reading, especially the parts about up and coming fighters.

I am actually interested in the rest of the card, not just the main event. I was reading through the event web site and discovered that one of the fighters on tomorrow night's card is a Canadian :-) (insert boisterous singing of O Canada here) named Jason MacDonald. He's fighting someone named Chris Leben, who is apparently famous for being on a TV show in 2005. Since I don't own a TV this doesn't tell me much. For the record, I don't have anything against TVs. But I know that if I got one I would spend a ridiculous amount of time in front of it. I have too much to do to throw away time like that. Besides, I am amused by the shocked expression on the faces of my students when they find out I don't own a tv. :-) My 6th and 7th graders are especially flabbergasted by the idea.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rocky Morning

Went to see the 10:05am show of Rocky Balboa this morning. I like this movies in the morning idea: the tickets are only $5, the crowd is nice, and you get out and still have the entire day to run errands and do whatever you need to do. The movie theater was great: small room, large screen and very comfortable chairs. I loved the movie, and will likely go see it again since I am a sentimental idealistic fool for sports movies in general and boxing movies in particular. And as a bonus, the training montage was a joy: there were squats, there were cleans, benches, kettlebells, chains and chalk. If you're one of these people who needs to read a review before going to see a movie, TT has good non spoiler review here.

Blind date #2 was last night. As expected, it was pleasant but unfortunately no click. I was very disappointed by the restaurant: at the end of the meal, they brought the bill and put it by the guy. Hello? What effing century are we in? Put the damn bill in the middle of the table. *sigh* I picked the restaurant, but I'm not setting foot in there again. If I wanted sexist stereotypes I'd buy a tv.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Yearning for Productivity

As I was having breakfast this morning I felt an intense yearning for productivity. I've had this happen before, usually on the last day of a vacation, when it is too late to do something about it. But there it was, a full six days before I have to go back to work. So I put on some music, washed the dishes, cleaned out the fridge including the freezer, and re-organized the kitchen cabinets. There were some pleasant surprises: I have three bags of frozen brussel sprouts. I looked through the grocery store flyers and made a list of what to buy where. $0.99 broccoli and cauliflower, yay! Also lemons at 3/$1, and organic romaine hearts at $1.99 per package. And oranges and organic apples, oh my! I already have copious amounts of beans, lentils and canned tuna, as well as spices, so I just need FF cottage cheese and eggs.

I got rid of the chocolate that my hosts from last week gave me. I couldn't find anyone to re-gift it to, and frankly, I don't see why I should fob off problematic food on some other innocent person. Since it entered my possession under duress, I don't feel guilting about tossing it. I had initially intended to offer it to my guests but they're not coming. They couldn't find a cheap flight. Besides, I think I finally got over this idea that I need to have unhealthy food in my house to serve to guests. If my guests don't like fresh fruit, green tea and tuna (and why wouldn't they? :-) ) there's always a local coffee shop where everyone can have the pastry of their choice. I don't need this stuff in my home.

Less coughing today and voice slightly stronger. I think I just need to ride this out and keep quiet as much as possible, and the voice will return to normal.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

2000 Seconds

The voice is still raspy, which makes me worry that I did some damage to it by insisting on teaching while I didn't have a voice.

Got Enter the Dragon from the library and watched it on my laptop. Anyone else think that Bolo Yeung looked better in Bloodsport (1988, aged 50) than he did in Enter the Dragon (1973, aged 35)? Gives me hope, I tell you. :-)

Spent Sunday at work and went back Monday morning to finish up the grades for my 10th, 11th and 12th graders. This leaves only 6th and 7th grade to do. The building was closed, of course, but that means no distractions, peace and quiet. Well, sort of quiet; I had the soundtrack to Kill Bill II on. As I worked I figured out some things I could do with my rubrics to streamline the process.

I was thinking the other night how my idea of non-clean eating has transformed over the years, from an entire container of Haagen-Daaz and a baguette slathered in butter at a sitting, I now call it a cheat meal when I go out for a breakfast of scrambled EggBeaters and pancakes... M@rla said something similar earlier this month: isn't that pathetic? Even my debaucheries are like regular people's healthy eating—Fish soup and vegetables.

Via this post at View from the Porch I learned of a book called The Weapon by Michael Z. Williamson. Got to the second chapter and found this quote on the subject of fitness and strength:
Do you want to know how that type of prowess is achieved? It's very simple. You have to want it. Hurt for 2000 seconds every morning, and you'll be this strong within a year or two. That's all it takes. Or is that bowl of pseudofood you're munching while you read more important to you?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Reading and Resolutions

Hurray for days finally getting longer!

Over at E-Strength Band, there's an interesting interview with Krista of Stumptuous. My favourite quote: "it’s been my experience that the scariest biggest guys in the gym are usually the nicest". I'd second that.

Friday was the last night of Chanukah, and my dinner hosts decided to give me a present of a chocolate bar and Baskin Robbins gift certificates, both of which will be re-gifted promptly. They also tried to have me take home a bottle of cola and some left-over brownies. Um, no. (Lo mit en alef, as a Yiddish-speaking former passing aquaintance used to say.) I told them that my lifting vanity prevents me from taking those. Also my new year's resolutions, which are being formed as I type.

Here's my draft List of New Year's Resolutions 2007. I'll post the final list on the 31st.
- In 2007, I will read at least one book per month related to Judaism or education. Which sounds like a tiny pathetic goal, but I mean in addition to whatever I am reading for other reasons. Plus, I want to focus on the Russian classes.
- In 2007, I will take at least six road trips and get to see some of this lovely country. First destination, Claremore OK. Second destination, the black hills of South Dakota.
- In 2007, I will stop dithering and vacillating about nutrition and move from knowing a lot about good nutrition to actually implementing it consistently.
- In 2007, I will order materials for studying towards personal trainer certification. No, I haven't figured out which one yet; I have several bookmarks on this subject that I need to peruse. Wait, no I don't, they died in the big hard drive crash a few weeks back. Oy. Ok, recommendations on certifications are welcome. I can't actually work as a trainer in the US because my work visa is only for teaching, but there's nothing wrong with getting a certification for future use and training folks for free.
- In 2007, as soon as this stupid cold goes away, I will give blood again. And, if they have the one arm procedure in this state as opposed to the two arm procedure, I will give platelets again.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cough

This cold is beginning to annoy me. To recap: one week without a voice, now at the tail end of a week with a froggy voice as well as early morning and late evening coughing, to say nothing of the phlegm. I'm not quite ready to see a doctor, because the idea of spending time and money to have someone tell me to rest and drink holds little attraction.

Yesterday was an unproductive day salvaged by the two loads of laundry I did in the afternoon. Today is going to be a productive day. I'm thrown off by my wake-up hour. When I'm not on a break, I wake up at 5:30am every day, including weekends. Now that I'm on a break, I find myself stumbling out of bed at 7:45am, and my first thought of the day is "oh no, half the day is gone" which is not a thought that gets one up and going.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Coffee, Ethics and Russian

My regular coffee place closed early today for their staff Christmas party, so I went to a new place recomended by the manicurist at the spa adjacent to the gym. Not good enough to switch to. They get points for the comfy chair and the free wifi, but the regular place has both of those and a fireplace. The latte had a bit too much foam and not enough latte. I tried a lemon bar - blech. More than three quarters of the thing is sitting uneaten on the little table besides me. Serves me right for spending good money on a pastry.

Ethics I: When I checked my mailbox in the teachers' lounge yesterday afternoon, I discovered that some of my students left me presents. I don't like the idea of teachers getting presents from students. I go to great lengths to remove bias from my grading process, including asking my students to put their names on the back of tests so that I don't know whose test I'm grading while I'm grading it, and I don't care to have even the faintest appearance of bias because some kids gave me presents and others didn't. If my students decide I did a good job they can write me a note post-graduation telling me so. Add "write a no-thank-you note" to the to-do list. (And yes, I would feel the same even if I was teaching something other than religious studies: Exodus 23:8 and Deuteronomy 16:19 notwithstanding.)

Ethics II: Got an e-mail this morning from my school in Jerusalem telling me that they're going to contact my school here in Kansas and request that the school contribute funds towards my flight this summer to attend the Summer Curriculum Workshop. Um, no, thank you. We have a professional development policy in my school, and as a new teacher I'm not eligible for any funds this year. Doesn't everyone know that queue-jumpers are a lower form of life? And even if it was my turn for funds, PD funds can't be applied to transportation costs. Sigh. I sent them an e-mail back telling them that I'm not comfortable with them doing that. They should have told me about the funds shortage before asking me if I plan to come to the workshop. Either I pay my own way or I can do without the workshop, thank you very much.

So now my summer trip to Israel is a question mark. Of course I got the aforementioned e-mail two hours after I registered for the Russian course at the local community college. I had this vision of walking back into my old gym with a basic Russian vocabulary. Even if the trip falls through I'm going to stick with the Russian courses. I downloaded the alphabet and a basic grammar description off the web. This is not a language for the fainthearted.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Planning Ahead

Remember how I missed UFC65 because my students were playing basketball that night, and by the time I got to the sports bar they weren't letting any more people in? The next fight is on Dec 30, and planning ahead, I went onto the web site to look for places showing it in my area. Turns out the only place close to me is a H00ters. Perusing their menu I see that they have some things that could be customized to approximate clean eating. I'd like a Liddell victory, btw, for two irrational reasons: one, he's the older of the two fighters, two, he's better looking. :-)

My voice is getting stronger, but so is the cough. Not sure this is an improvment.

Today was the last day of work before the winter break. Of course I will be back at work tomorrow; I intend to use the peace and quiet to do some uninterrupted grading; I have a nice pile of fresh end-of-semester exams I need to grade.

Grading will be followed by energetic filing and cleaning of desk. I am not impressed with the amount of paper on my desk. One of my goals for next semester is to utilize the school web site for content delivery as much as possible, and always have at least a week's worth of upcoming lessons on there so that my students know what's coming.

The important thing is to stay busy. I absoluely cannot slip into lazy mode during this break, no matter how much I want to put my feet up and watch Zatoichi yet again.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Laptop's Back and There's Gonna Be Work Done

My laptop's back! Yay Apple. Not only did they replace the dead hard drive, but in with lovely attention to detail, they cleaned the screen, cleaned the keyboard, replaced the screw that was missing in the bottom corner of the screen, and replaced the rubber foot that was missing from the underside of the machine so that it no longer wobbles. I appreciate all this stuff because I used to work in customer service. If I had any music to load on it I'd go buy an iPod. I stayed at the store long enough to download all the assorted security updates and system updates I needed, and then went home and re-installed my software.

Two more days of work and then "break". Which is in quotes because this "break" will include grading and lesson planning and assignment design and other things I have in mind to make sure that my second semester flows more smoothly than my first one. First on my to do list is making full use of all the online tools available to me and my students. I am going to be a much more efficient teacher this time around. I'll have one new course to teach, the rest are continuations of the ones I taught first semester.

Voice is sort-of-back; a raspy variation that sounds like it might disappear at any moment.

"Break" will also include intensive exercise. I'm going to get my gym session back on track and my nutrition back on track so that I hit the ground running when I go back to work on Jan 2.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Still Voiceless

Even a fool keeping silence is reckoned wise, he who is shutting his lips intelligent! Proverbs 17:28
The plan is to keep quiet this entire weekend, and, I hope, wake up Monday morning with my voice back. I felt worse this morning than I had all week, rather tired and queasy. Dragged myself upright and off to work, but did not have breakfast, because I did not think it would stay down. During the day I drank copious amounts off tea, and nibbled away at a grand total of two Luna bars, two bananas, one apple and one piece of dark chocolate. I felt better by the afternoon, but now all I want to do is sleep.

My colleagues were making fun of my lack of voice, saying that the basketball team lost on Tuesday because I wasn't cheering. My students are still being wonderfully cooperative. I suspect it's just not sporting to act up if I can't react. I still think that this week has been a good experience. I like talking less in class and having my students speak instead.

Got a message that my computer is back from the repair depot, so I have to return to the store to pick it up.

The lovely thing is that with the exception of today's piece of dark chocolate, nutrition has been clean. That's a bonus of being unwell, it's like a kick in the head to get the nutrition back to perfect to help one's body fight off whatever this is.

The gentleman of the blind date called me on Monday, but having no voice I couldn't pick up the phone. I asked the woman at whose home I met the amateur matchmakers trio to get a message to the one matchmaker who works with him, and let him know I'll call once I have a voice.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Voiceless

Among the things I miss about Jerusalem is how easy it was for me to have six training days in a row every week. Haven't had that since I got to North America.

I have no voice right now, which makes teaching quite challenging. I had a voice yesterday morning, and by the end of the day it went from Lauren Bacall to Kermit the Frog and this morning it was gone. How do you call in sick to work when you don't have a voice with which to call?

Seriously, this is not a good time for this to happen. Finals are around the corner and I am reviewing material with my students. Not the kind of thing I can delegate to a substitute even if I wanted to.

Blind date was ok. It is still very strange for me to go out and not be the heavier person at the table. The gentleman was nice enough. My dad says that you can't tell anything about a person from the first date, you need at least two. My aunt says you need three: the first for physical attraction, the second for intellectual attraction, and the third for emotional attraction. Of course, they might just be saying that because they have a daughter / niece who's an old maid. :-)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bench Curls Tabatas and Laptop

I'm on a bit of a roll. Went to the gym Friday afternoon, had a great Day I: Chest session. Asked the trainer on the floor if I could change the music and she said yes, so we changed the satellite radio station to 90s hits. The strange thing is the me of three years ago wouldn't have bothered asking to change the music, but would have just gone along with whatever was on, or turned her cd player higher. After the chest session I went to the heavy bag with the aim of trying a Tabata interval. I've read about them in various place, there's a good explanation here. Gave up when I realised I had lost count. The stopwatch on the wall in the studio just counts up to one minute and then zeros again, and I had no idea how many I had done. Not many, obviously, because I wasn't winded, but I had wanted to set a benchmark and see how far I could get into the four minutes.

Woke up this morning with a sort-of-sore throat, the kind that could be nothing, but could also be the start of something. I went to the gym and had about 60% of my Day II: Back session. Cut it short when I realised that I was pushing pointlessly and quickly getting to the point of feeling like a rung out dishrag. I did get through six sets of lateral crunches off a bench, which made me very happy. On the last set the gym owner walked by and said "that's a killer exercise". Positive feedback at just the right time is a great thing; has the same effect as a GnR song interrupting a Celine Di0n medley. Following the workout I had a manicure and laughed with the aesthetician about blind dates and the people who set you up on them.

My computer is now in the hands of Apple. The gentleman at the store said 17 days, but that it could come back sooner. The young man at the store said they'd have to ship it out to replace the hard drive. I had a moment of concern while his computer told him that my computer didn't exist. "You must be an apparition," the guy says to me. I like people who use words like "apparition". :-) All resolved, and I eagerly await the return of the laptop with functioning harddrive.

This Thought Had Occured to Me

Found at the Althouse blog via this post at Instapundit:
I simply do not believe that the so-called health side is really composed of people who are solicitous about everyone else's health. I can't prove it, but my intuition is that all the strength on the "health" side of this war comes not from people who really care whether other people are healthy, but from people who don't like having to see fat people.

Thursday: Donuts and deadlifts

I've mentioned that I don't allow food other than raw fruit, raw vegetables and h2o in my classroom. The response from my students has been interesting. Some are indifferent, others try to make fun of it by bringing a raw potato, and some get into it, like the person who brought an avocado to class and ate it with a spoon. :-) The reason is not, as some of them think, that I want to control what they eat. The reason is that I want my classroom to be my haven; I want there to be at least one place at work where I don't have to see other people's nutritional choices.

At school, like in any workplace, there are lots of opportunities for people to obtain and consume junk, and I don't have a problem with it, live and let live and all that. I prefer that they do it outside my room (office, cubicle, broomcloset, whatever). But yesterday the donuts came to visit. Occasionally, a school celebration means parent-supplied donuts for all. There were plenty left over, and unexpectedly, one of my colleagues walked into my classroom while class was in session with a plate heaped with donuts. I looked at colleague and said "I can't believe you are bringing that into my classroom". "It's for your students," said colleague. I decided to not get into an argument about it right then and there, told colleague to put it on the side and told my students they could have them on the way out if they wanted them. My students could see I was not impressed, and asked me if I ever eat donuts. I said that I do, but that they are not conducive to my lifting goals. That, of course, gave me a great opening to have a one minute segue into lifting and weights and how every woman can work her way to benching her bodyweight. And then we got back on track with the lesson plan.

That's not quite the end of the story. I still had to teach the entire class with a plate full of donuts by my side. At the end of the class the kids took the donuts and went on to their next class. I had been avoiding the teachers' lounge all day, knowing that there would be leftover donuts on the table in there. At the end of my day I went into the lounge to pick up some printing, and what was still on the table? Yes, two leftover donuts.

And in frustration and annoyance, displaying revolting weakness of character, I ate one, and then started on a second one before I caught myself and stopped.

I was so disgusted with myself. I went back to my classroom, looked at the compliance grid which I had hung up to the right of my desk that very morning and added the F and C stats for 1.5 donuts. And then, very deliberately, circled the T for Training Day.

I went to the gym and had a perfect deadlift session. I spoke to colleague the next day and explained why I don't want donuts in my classroom. Colleague apologized. I don't think I will be seeing donuts in my classroom again.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Twelve Hour Days

This is probably going to be my third twelve hour workday in a row. Not having a computer means I can't work at home, so I am at work till ridiculous hours. Yesterday I was sitting at my desk and had the following conversation with myself at 6:00pm.
Me: "Why am I so tired?
*pause*
*lightbulb goes on*
Me: "Because I've been here since 7:00am!"

Well. Food has been wobbly. Excellent at breakfast, good during the day except not as spaced out as I would like. Honesty demands that I note the stupid nightly donut on the way home after the 12 hour day. Water is improving. I'm still not back to the 3.5-4L a day I was drinking while in Jerusalem. Today's I'll be at 1 litre green tea and 1.5 litres H20 for the day. I'm going to try for 1+2 tomorrow. Those tuna and salmon pouches are pricy but they've been invaluable at boosting my protein intake. The depressing thing is that each 3oz pouch is only 15g of protein (salmon) or 19g of protein (tuna). I need to pack a couple of egg whites with each one.

At Sunday's baby shower I was ambushed by a matchmaking Israeli triumvirate. "Are you seeing someone?", "How old are you?", "I have a guy, can I have your number?" I gave them my number, not expecting anyone would call. Matchmaking enthusiasts often think that just because two people are Jewish and breathing it will be a good match, so I don't blame any guy for taking the number and consigning it to the dustbin. But to my surprise the guy actually called, and there's a "blind" date coming up. We had a pleasant enough phone conversation, but I forgot to ask him if he lifts. It was going to be Saturday night, but the boys' and girls' basketball teams are playing again, and I don't want to miss the game so we picked Sunday. Now I find that there's a basketball game on Sunday too, to make up for games missed during the snow days. Scheduling is not easy.

I'm bemused by the dating process. Haven't done much of it: being obese from age 15-34 and not being social to begin with. So what are the odds that at my age I'm going to meet my intended? That there is a guy out there who can put up with my assorted religious beliefs, political views and annoying habits? :-) I think one reason I'm doing it is so I can tell my parents that I'm "going out" and "have a social life".

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Grocery Shopping and a Second Chance at High School Sports

A good article about the efficiencies and inefficiencies of grocery shopping:
Contrary to popular belief, shoppers don't tend to systematically go up and down aisles. Instead, they make short treks into aisles to get what they need, and then return to the perimeter of the store. Also, shoppers prefer to move counter clockwise around a store and typically speed up their shopping as they get close to the checkout.
Last night I went to watch the girls and boys teams play basketball. It's a fun way to spend a Saturday evening, and I always learn something new about my amazing students when I watch them play sports. There's the one who is incredibly tenacious about every rebound, and the one who has the most remarkable body awareness and can regain balance from every improbable position into which he extends himself. There's the one who leads by loudly exhorting teammates and the one who leads by example. The one who plays with assurance and the one who plays with a wide-eyed wonder.

I absolutely love it. I never played sports when I was in high school; too unfit, too shy, too uncoordinated, too whatever. Changing to a teaching career means I get a second chance to enjoy high school sports. It's probably the only time in my life I'll get to see basketball (or, a few months back, soccer) from floor (field) level seats. :-) I get nervous about every missed basket or rebound, even when the teams have very large leads. For example, we're leading by 11 points and I'm thinking "they could overtake us if they scored four three pointers in a row in the next minute".

The girls play first, followed by the boys, and it annoys me that some people don't bother to show up for the girls' game. Hello? Support begins with your feet, not your wallet. Because I teach at a private school, the teams play against other teams from private or religious schools and also against teams of homeschooled kids. It means that there are kids playing who wouldn't get a chance to play at public school. It also means that sportsmanlike behaviour is the norm rather than the exception. (This was on my mind because the last time I watched pro basketball on the tv the thing that stuck with me was the whininess of the players. There's a reason I prefer to watch smaller sports - powerlifting, mma, wsm, shooting - rather than pro sports, and it comes down to the attitude of the athletes.) I've had a parent tell me that their kid is in the school because they would never get a chance to play elsewhere. Opportunities for competitive sports experience is something I never considered as a motivation for a parent to send their child to a non-public school.

I'm told that there's a faculty-students basketball game around spring break. If I started training now maybe I could make the faculty team? I haven't handled a basketball in years.

Off I go to find a present for a baby shower. The shower is from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, and when I rsvp'd I forgot that the gym is only open from noon-5pm today. I'm going to try to squish in the deadlift workout before then, although I am so sore from yesterday's squats that another day of recovery would not be a bad idea.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Full Disclosure And Three Serious Workouts

Full disclosure: If you go to the post entitled "Snow Days Are Less Useful When You Have No Laptop", you will notice that I changed the word "thermos" to a link. Why? Because the company which owns that web site e-mailed me out of the blue and offered me a product of my choice if I'd link that word to their site. So I e-mailed them back and said that I have no problem doing so, but that I would have to let my readers know that I had done so in exchange for a product. If you're curious, this is what I chose. (Sidenote to P.: Bet you thought I'd pick this. :-) ) Apparently I'm not the only one who's received this offer: see here. As a former Business Analyst who used to be part of a marketing team in two different companies (before I changed careers and went into teaching), I like the fact that they are actively doing something about their search engine rankings. As a blogger, I must say I never expected to receive such an offer, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Friday really was a snow day. That snowstorm that hit the midwest came to visit. On Thursday night the person above me on the calling tree called to advise that we would not have school today. The funny thing is, when I told people I was moving to Kansas everyone warned me about tornadoes; no one mentioned either snow or ice storms.

So, two snow days plus a weekend equal three good workouts in a row. Thursday was Day I Chest and Friday was Day II Back, and Saturday morning was Day III Quads. This is the first time I've done three serious sessions back to back since I started at the new gym. It felt good. But various parts of me are sore. Thursday and Friday the gym was quiet, just a trainer or two and their respective clients. Oh, and one guy who was good looking for about 30 seconds; then he went to the Smith machine (good looking quotient drops) and started doing quarter squats (good looking quotient vanishes).

I went to the library and got two books about teaching as well as a couple of cds. When the hard drive died my music collection went with it. Most of my cds are back in Canada, so even when I get the computer repaired I won't be able to restore the music. After the gym I went to the local hardware store and bought a wooden dowel with which to practice the power cleans. Also got windshield washer fluid. THe roads are slushy and visibility drops so quickly.

Get thee to T-Nation and read this delightful Dan John article about "secret" coaching methods. I laughed out loud when I read this part:
If I follow Alwyn's workout and you ask me "why?" I answer, "Alwyn said so." When Dick Notmeyer coached me, the answer was the same: "Coach said so."
"Said so" is genius. It completely divorces you — and I mean completely — from any responsibility for your training. Why seven sets of four? Coach said so. Why fish oil? Coach said so. It's an amazing moment of clarity: you can pawn off all your responsibility to someone else. It's genius.
Obviously this reminded me of my time in Jerusalem. The main reason that I made the gains I did is that I trusted the programs that man-in-charge created for me and I followed them to the letter. Now I have to bring that same focus to my own programs here in Kansas (which are modified slightly because there are some parts of the Jerusalem gym I can't duplicate here) and simply follow through, trusting that the gains will come.