Sunday, April 29, 2007

On and Off

My internet service, that is. Technician shows up at 8:30am, reports that the signal is "clear on arrival" and leaves. Of course once he leaves the modem dies again. I call the company back. They say they will try to get him back. I say fine, just call me and I can be back home in 15 minutes. They call me, and I get back to find a note on the door that he returned and I wasn't home. I call them back, and get a completely useless woman on the phone who tells me that she can't get him back. I finally get a supervisor who is more customer-service oriented, and while he can't get the guy to come back either, he is much more responsive and, unlike the dingbat woman, does not interrupt me while I'm talking.

So now the connection is up again, although it could come down again at any time, and the next available appointment that coincides with a time that I am not at work is on Wednesday. *sigh*

I am tired because I went to bed at 3:00am but made myself get up at 6:20am to get my sleep pattern back on track. Then I fell asleep in my chair around 4:00pm; it was a miracle my laptop stayed on my lap.

I did get some food prep done today, so there are containers of 5x1 omelet components ready to go in my fridge. I'm trying to put everything in place to have a perfect May.

The Utter Stupidity of Sleeping In

There are few things I despise more than sleeping in on a Saturday morning. It throws off my sleep pattern and it makes me feel like half the day is gone. So of course I then fritter away the rest of the day, and the entire day is gone. This morning I finally bestirred myself at 10:23am, and the rest of the day was totally useless. I hate walking into services after prayers have started, so if I wake up late on a Saturday I won't go to services either. I read a fiction book, drank coffee, and generally did nothing. After nightfall I finally discovered some hidden reserve of productivity, went out and bought a desk chair, paid a few bills and did a little grocery shopping. Thank goodness for grocery stores that stay open late. Of course because of the ridiculous time I got up, I am now blogging rather than sleeping.

I finally went back to work on Friday. It turns out that one of the days I had missed was a day where donuts were easily accessible throughout the school. Donuts are around on rosh chodesh and on a Thursday of a week when one of the students is celebrating their bar or bat mitzvah. I'm perfectly ok with this, even though I don't eat the donuts, because I think that's exactly what junk food should be - a special occasion treat for people other than me. :-) For the record, as they don't do it in my classroom, it's none of my business how often people eat donuts and how many they choose to eat. I can't stand people who stick their noses into other people's food choices.

I went on a field trip with my colleagues and students to see the DSS exhibit. I hadn't planned on going, because I had seen the scrolls in Israel at the Shrine of the Book, and am planning to see them again when I go this summer, but I'm very glad I got the chance to go. It turned out to be a superb exhibit: beautifully designed, clearly explained and logically arranged. Seeing the scroll fragments and knowing that I can read 2000 year old text gives me a nice happy feeling, and seeing some of my students realize that they could read them is a huge thrill.

On the way back from the exhibit the school bus lost power steering and we were stuck in the city waiting for a new school bus. Fortunately both my students and my colleagues are cheerful, non-whiny folks. (Yes, there are exceptions, but not enough to matter.) I can't think of any other group with whom I'd be ok getting stuck on a broken down bus. Thank goodness Shabbat comes in late these days. Stupidly, I had a very inadequate lunch before we left - an apple and some edamame - so by the time we got back to school I was very hungry and had a super nasty headache. Notes to self, always carry extra food, always bring a book, and when you have access to a washroom, use it.

I went grocery shopping after school. The local Hy-V3e had Fuji apples for $0.97/lb. What I saved on the apples I blew on mushrooms and organic veggie broth. Also picked up a vegan miso & tofu cup of soup to satisfy the peculiar miso soup craving I've been having lately. Yes, I could buy miso paste and make soup, but from previous experience I know that I'd only use two tablespoons of the stuff and then it will occupy space in my fridge and turn into a biological weapon. I've never finished a miso paste jar in my life.

Now that I'm not home and don't have a critical need for them to work, my modem and internet connection have come back to life and have been working just fine for the past 30 hours. I called the cable company to cancel the technician visit, but the nice young person at the other end of the line suggested that I keep it. He said that my rate of something or other, which should be at 95%-100%, is sitting at 50%, so it should really be checked out.

Enough rambling. I'm going to try that sleeping thing again.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Still Sick at Home

Home again today, still weak, mood no better. My internet connection is wobbly due to a bad cable modem. It keeps the connection for 5-7 minutes then dies. Then I have to let it rest for a while before unplugging everything, reconnecting everything, and rebooting my laptop, and then if I'm lucky I get another 5-7 minutes of connectivity. Technician coming Sunday to look at things.

Go watch the cool USA weightlifting ad (originally found in this post at IronMaven which I got to via Stumptuous blog.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sick at Home

Sick at home today. Low grade fever, neither strength nor desire to do anything except lie on my back and count the bumps on my ceiling. I read a little, then gave up and just rested. I do not like being sick. I miss my work and my students.

I have all these freshly laundered and folded workout clothes, a fridge with lots of spinach and tuna, and seven varieties of tea, and none of them is doing me any good at the moment. Bah.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Blah and Bedding

I started feeling under the weather on Sunday around 11:00am. I had been feeling very productive because I had already done and folded two loads of laundry at that point, but things went downhill from there. At the moment I am very tired but unable to sleep, which is why I am blogging at this hour of the morning. :-) Throat is a bit sore, that slight soreness that could be nothing or the beginning of a full blown something. Bah. No gym Sunday or yesterday, even though I hear deadlifts calling my name.

My trusty airbed has sprung a leak. I fill it with air in the evening and by morning I find myself sleeping on a wrinkled floor mat. I'm going to try and patch it if I can figure out where the leak is, but in any case the airbed is retiring to guest bed status and I've decided to get a futon. I've always wanted one, but never had one during my college days. I recently visited a store that has nice ones with American made frames and mattresses. The last time I was there the store owner suggested that if one plans to use the futon for sleeping (as opposed to using it as a couch, a barricade or a deadlift platform, I suppose), one should lie on it for at least 30 minutes in the store to be sure that it's the right one.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Day II and Day III

Weighed in this morning. No change. Focus for this week will be hydration: water and green tea. I need to drink more and not let myself forget about H20 for hours at a time.

Good Day II: Back session on Friday. Gravitron, two lat pull down variations, bent over db rows. Yesterday was also a good session; Day III: Quads. Lying cable rows, upright db rows, squats and step ups. Only two guys in the gym when I arrived. The kid who was doing pullups a few weeks back, and a tall skinny TurkeyGuy (every gym has one, no?) who came by while I was doing my lying cable rows and stole the little 5lb incremental weight. No "are you using this?" or "are you done with this?", the dingbat just grabbed it and went back to his machine. And what was so urgent that he needed to swipe the weight? Seated machine chest presses.

While I'm on this snarky tangent, I'll add that the guy didn't go near a free bar the entire time he was there, and finished off with machine bicep curls. On the plus side, nothing like a little annoyance to put extra energy in my squats. I hope I didn't have a smirk on my face while squatting, but I do have an expressive face and little talent for deception. :-)

I had the good sense to toss a bar into the gym bag so that I wouldn't arrive home ravenous post workout and eat the furniture. It was the Chocolate Peanut Kashi GoL3an Crunchy, which is really too sweet for my taste. I should make my own protein bars. There are recipes here and here that seem straightforward.

Good thread at the Muscle Sorority on T-Nation on the weights that figure women lift. I'm not a figure person, but the more data floating out there to encourage women to revise their lifting goals upwards, the better.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

UFC 70 Musings (and Spoilers!)

Just (and I do mean just) returned from the local sports bar where I went to see UFC70. Since it was not a per-pay-view, the bar was near empty of fight fans. People who own a tv, unlike me, could watch it at home. I had a table of four to myself. The problem was that the volume was down on the various tv screens, so for the first couple of fights there was no audio to be heard. I couldn't hear intros, interviews, commentary, nothing.

The first fight was a lightweight fight. Terry Etim vs Matt Grice. After the lovely lightweight fight at UFC69 I was expecting good things, and I was not disappointed. MG, out of Oklahoma, walks down to the cage looking serious and shaking hands along the way. He has three tatoos, an intricate black and red one on his left upper arm, a cross on his back and some kanji (?) characters along his right triceps. TE is out of Liverpool, so I am assuming that the crowd (which I can't hear) is behind him. He's wearing short white and red floppy trunks which remind me of muay thai trunks. Their stats are very close. Etim at 6'1" is 3" taller and has a 2" reach advantage. He's also four years younger than MG. I'm cheering for MG because he's older, the crowd is against him, and he's got nice cheekbones. If you've been reading my musings for awhile you'd realize that logic doesn't enter into my fan decisions.:-) Since the card is taking place in England, the fighters' weights are shown in stones.

TE strikes first, and MG grabs the leg and takes him down. They form a pretzel of sorts, and MG is very active and on top for awhile 1:33. But towards the end of the first round TE manages to reverse and puts MG is a headlock of sorts. TE wins it. After coming to, MG looks incredibly disappointed and TE looks incredibly relieved.

It's very frustrating with the audio off. The ads are annoying as well. Not owning a tv, I've managed to remain ignorant of such wonders as nutri/syst3m aiming ads at men. I understand it's a huge untapped market for them, but really, blech!

The next fight is Michael Bisping vs Elvis Sinosic. I expect MB to win because I read on the UFC site that he's going to have his son in the audience for the first time, and I somehow doubt he's going to lose in front of his boy. I also read that his dad and brothers are all in the military, so I guess I should cut him some slack for those annoying camo trunks, but I dislike it when non-military people wear camouflage. I'm cheering for ES because he's older, 36 to MB's 28. The rest of their stats are very close. ES comes down first, smiling and shaking hands as he goes. He seems surprised, as if the welcome is better than he expected. He turns to his cheering section before entering the octagon, and once he enters he walks around punching each of the pads. He's wearing blue trunks. MB comes down looking very focused and very intense. He doesn't stop for the crowd, and he takes off his brown sweatshirt really fast, as if he can't wait for this to start. Once in the octagon he runs around and jumps. find the idea revolting.

It's a good first round. For the last part of it MB is on top, striking steadily. ES is bloodied but unbowed, as the poem goes. Due to the non-audio, as we go to commercial I'm not sure if the 1st round ended or if the ref stopped the fight. Second round begins and ES comes back to life with a takedown. He does some work on MB's arm, but MB reverses nicely. Now that MB has ES where he had him in the first round, he attacks much more aggressively. The ref stops the fight early in the 2nd round. ES is getting medical help, but he gets on his feet for the end of fight announcement. There's a hug and a handshake, and then MB picks up a cute kid (his son, I assume) for the post fight interview.

The next fight is Andrei Arlovski and Fabricio Werdum. FW is wearing a red gi over a red shirt. According to the notes on the screen he's "not afraid to strike". Oy vey, who wrote this line? And were they cringing at the paucity of strikes during this fight? I note that the cutman (?) has a cool wristband cotton swab holder. FW has two flags, Brazil and a red & yellow one I'm not sure of. Anyone know?

AA comes down next. I like him because he reminds me of guys from my old gym. He's wearing a black hat and a black shirt completely covered with sponsor names. He's smiling as he walks down. His black trunks are just as crowded with logos as the shirt. His ankles are covered with black tape. Very slow fight. They're feeling each other out, hesitant to get close. They connect at 4:17 remaining, get to the fence and back to the center. At 2:30 remaining FW is on the ground on his back, making little come-hither gestures to AA. Not working. Ref gets them to stand up and we're back at the center. For the last 15 seconds of this fight nothing happens. I look around the bar, see a woman in a halter top and ask myself how come she's not freezing.

Finally, at the beginning of the second round, the bar management puts the audio on. Yay. Now we get to hear the frustrated British crowd booing this fight. FW attempts a takedown, no go. He sprawls on his back, AA doesn't follow, so FW gets up again. At 3:12 remaining there's kick by FW and more of nothing. There's a tiny flurry at the end of the 2nd round. The USMC commercial between rounds is more exciting than this fight. Third round and the crowd is whistling. The fight ends with a unanimous decision for AA. He apologizes to the crowd for the fight and they are slightly mollified. (Hey, when was the last time you heard a boxer do that?)

We get the Liddell-Rampage promo again and this time I can hear it. There's a promo for this movie, and then Randy Couture comes out to do some pre-fight commentary for the Mirko Cro Cop - Gabriel Gonzaga fight. In one of the interview clips with CC, he says something to the effect of "Everybody has a plan until they get hit". Remember that, boys and girls.

GG comes down in a white baseball cap and a black shirt. He looks super serious and super focused. He slaps hands but is only looking straight at the octagon. His arms are massive. He's wearing black and white trunks which seem a little long to me. CC arrives to the sounds of Duran Duran's The Wild Boys and I have a flashback to my junior high days. He's wearing a black shirt, and he's looking down at the floor as he walks. Stats are interesting. CC is five years older, 18lbs lighter and has a 1" reach advantage. It's amusing to hear the announcer give the weight in stones. There's respectful glove touch.

The 1st round starts well. CC is aggressive. GG is unfazed. GG grabs one of CC's kicks and takes him down. GG keeps CC down, and follows through with several strikes and elbows. He pushes CC's arm away and hit his head. At 1:02 remaining GG is still on top, but then the ref gets them both to stand up (I think - I stopped scribbling at this point). And then, with 10 seconds remaining in the round, the most gorgeous high kick comes out of nowhere, and GG drops CC cold. I think I yelled out at this point. Certainly other people in the bar did.

It was beautiful on so many different levels. One, because GG was the underdog, and so many people were looking beyond him and expecting CC-RC to be a done deal. Two, because it was a high kick, which are supposed to be CC's forte, not GG's; GG is known for his BJJ and his submissions. Three, because even after he dropped CC with that kick, he immediately followed through and started striking, and ref Herb Dean had to do a diving save/tackle to get him off CC.

I wish I could speak Portuguese so I would know what GG is saying in the post fight interview. The translator says "I worked very hard". No kidding. :-) It definitely showed. Wow, just wow.

There's a respectful exchange between GG and Couture, and I am now looking forward to their title fight. The interviewer tries to talk to CC, but you can tell he's still a bit out of it. Can't blame him. I'm shocked that he's even back on his feet.

And that's it. Go to the UFC's site for official results and commentary which I'm sure they'll have up shortly. It's after midnight here and I need to get to sleep, so I'm not going to proofread this right now. Apologies for any spelling and grammar errors.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Seafood Rant

On another blog I saw a call to boycott Canuck seafood because of the seal hunt. Since I'm Canadian, I find this call disingenuous. Here is a link to the myths and realities of sealing, as well as a link to an aboriginal perspective on the matter. And those cutesy pics of furry white seal pups? Well, "The hunting of harp seal pups (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks) is illegal – and has been since 1987." But why ruin a good boycott with facts? I wonder how many of those calling for the boycott have Chinese seafood in their freezer and think nothing of it.

Just added "buy Canuck seafood" to my Sunday to-do list...

Two Things

1. A big thank you to everyone who gave me collard greens advice. I'm going to give them another chance.

2. I'm looking for a room in Jerusalem for July 2007. If you know someone in Jerusalem who's going away for the summer and wants to sublet their room, please send them my way, particularly if they live in Rehavia, Talbieh, City Center or Emek.

Red Bandanna Guy

Went into the gym yesterday to do a Day I: Chest session. I left work promptly at day's end, went home, changed into jeans, grabbed the gym bag and headed to the gym. I arrived earlier than I usually do, and the floor was busy with post-work exercisers. The cardio hamsters (there are gym rats and there are cardio hamsters) were doing their treadmill/ stairmaster/ recumbent bike thing, and several machines were in use. To my surprise, there was a bench and a loaded bar in the power rack. I looked around to see if there were any obvious candidates for ownership of said bar, and spotted a young man on the leg press machine. He was wearing red shorts, a gray top and a red bandanna, and was detached from the world courtesy of his mp3 player. When he came back to the rack I asked him if he had many sets left. It turned out this was his last set, so I only had to wait two minutes before I had the rack to myself.

I did flat bps and pushups, super-setted with ab work. Red bandanna guy, meanwhile, was doing a curl-free killer circuit, distinguishing himself from all the other gym goers. He was completely focused on his workout, which was really nice to see. At some point before I started the single arm pec deck work, he vanished. (I wasn't watching him the whole time - I had work to do.) I go over to the pec deck which is right by the window, and whom do I see across the street from the gym? Red bandanna guy. Taking off on a brisk post workout run. Uphill.

In the Cressey article I linked yesterday, he talks about the importance of a good training environment and lifting partners. My environment is ok, but even having one person around like RBG pushes me to a different level. I wish there were more like him in this gym.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back to Deads

If you aren't getting stronger, you need to reevaluate your program. If you aren't trying to get stronger, you need to get your head examined. -- Cressey in T-Nation
And if you only have a limited amount of time today, go and read his article. My stuff can wait.

I got to the gym half an hour later than planned because one of my students left a backpack in my room halfway through the day. At the end of the day the backpack was still there. I figured student had forgotten where they left the backpack, so I spent 20 minutes wandering around looking for them. Finally found one of student's friends and matter was resolved with a cell phone call. Turns out student hadn't planned to take the backpack home and was wholly unconcerned about its whereabouts. Harrumph. :-)

Went home, got my gym bag and headed to the gym. I was planning on biceps and deads, but the first set of bicep curls brought a familiar and unwelcome twinge in the right shoulder. Twinge then prompted a secondary twinge in the right elbow and wrist. I said the heck with the bicep work, which I do not like in any case, and went straight to the deads.

6 x 65lbs
6 x 105lbs
10 x 120lbs/54.5Kg
10 x 120lbs/54.5Kg
10 x 115lbs/52.3Kg
12 x 65lbs
I had planned the work sets at 135lbs, and chickened out because I was worried about the shoulder twinge. Next time. Form was good, lifts were smooth.

After the deads I did hamstring curls and then reverse hypers with a swiss ball on a bench. Everything felt good. Let's see if I can walk tomorrow. :-)

Post gym I went to the library. A few dvds I'd placed on hold had arrived. A couple of weeks back I'd picked up a dvd of the British series Mids0mer Murd3rs and enjoyed it very much, so now I'm slowly going through the series.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Precept Something but Example More

So there I was on Friday morning, doing some last minute sorting and stapling before my P3 class. I was feeling annoyed at myself, basically wishing I could rewind the last 7 months and replay them again with better nutrition and more training. One of my students walked into my room and told me that he has to do a newspaper article about fitness, due Monday, and can he interview me about it? I wasn't expecting that. I had been interviewed for the last issue of the school paper about my classroom food policy of fruit/veggies/H20 only and I figured it would be awhile before I made another appearance.

My mood changed instantly. That's one of the things I love about this profession; it forces you to set aside your self-centered petty annoyances and focus on the students. In Dumas' 20 Years After, Athos explains to D'Artagnan the impact that caring for Raoul has had on him: "I have corrected the vices that I had; I have assumed the virtues that I had not. Precept something, but example more." That's exactly how I feel about teaching: precept something but example more.

He asked me if I had any role models, or if there was one person that inspired me, and I said no. I'm inspired by different people for different aspects of my training. But I did say that the vids of the women at CF inspire me, and showed him the Totals video from their April 12 post. I was also going to show him the Annie vid from their February 27 post, but he had to go to his next class.

There was a question about resources, and I mentioned Stumptuous, JB and CF. I wanted to add T-Nation, but parents and administrators read the paper, and TN is a bit indelicate for that audience.

Good workouts both today and yesterday. Yesterday was Back day: negative pull ups (they're baack!), and two variations of lat pulldowns. Today was Quads And Other Stuff: lying cable rows, upright db rows, squats and step ups. I'm using a cardio step with six risers for the step ups, and they're harder than I expected. Everything supersetted with ab work or a cardio minute. I did bicycles between sets of squats and I thought I would just lie there on the floor till someone scraped me off it in the morning... ow! To make things even more interesting, I forgot my pw food and was ravenous by the time I got home. I'm planning rowing intervals for tomorrow and deads for Tuesday. Something to look forward to.

BTW, is there any way to make collard greens palatable and healthy at the same time?


Solved the scale + crooked floors problem by taking the scale to the storage locker that comes with the apartment and doing the weigh-in there, with clothes on, as the locker is not a private area. Still, clothes or no clothes, this is what stared back at me at 0630 this morning:

2007-04-15: 67.7 Kg / 149 lbs (+5.3 Kg /+11.5 lbs)

Oh hell no. In case you were wondering what a month of pre, during, and post-Pesach stress eating coupled with sloth and denial will do to you, now you know. I'm puzzled as to how can I add 11.5lbs and not need to buy new clothes. Obviously I need to buy tighter things. :-) This backsliding stops now because I am not, repeat not, walking into my old gym in Jerusalem at this weight. Weekly weigh-ins from now until I leave for the vacation in July. Where's that water bottle?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ready for a Hanging

When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully. -- Samuel Johnson

I have somewhat more time than a fortnight; 12 weeks until I head back to Israel in July, but that was good enough to get me out of work at 4:15pm. I went home, had some tuna, prepped food for tomorrow and headed to the gym. Did a Day I: Chest session, then took my wraps and gloves and did a little work on the (un)heavy bag. I miss the old bag, which is sitting in a corner of the gym looking lonely and dejected. The old bag is red, which reminded me of that old Ik3a lamp commercial.

I finished off with static stretching and looking around at my fellow exercisers. A nice crowd this afternoon. A young woman and her trainer who were working very hard, an obese older gentleman who gets props for coming in, a younger guy who did not do curls, and a slim lady in her mid-40s (wild guess) with remarkable delts and triceps.

When I went back into the changeroom, tricep lady asked me what the boxing was good for. I told her it removed stress, improved hand-eye coordination, and, when I do it at the end of my workouts, proves to me that I still have a lot of energy left. Oh, she says, but is it good for toning?


Well, I said carefully, I've never seen an un-toned boxer. This answer seemed to satisfy her and we talked a bit about choosing gloves and wraps. (Look, I was tired and this was the best response I could manage to this entirely ridiculous question. People have no business using the T word within five feet of me.)

Speaking of focusing the mind, my cardio minutes carrying a 25 lb db on one shoulder went great. Inspired by that article I linked to yesterday as well as by the urgent need to do some post-holiday damage control, I was completely into every minute. I will step on a scale this weekend - promise. Even though I haven't had to buy new clothes, they're tighter. That 137 did not survive the pre, during, and post Pesach stress eating, and integrity demands an update.

Dinner was 4 hb egg whites, 180g of nuked frozen veggies, a granny smith apple and a glass of skim milk. I'm not calculating macros tonight, just wanted to get some clean food into me and get to bed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Cost of Holidays

Not the financial and opportunity costs; I'm fine with spending the $250 flying to and from Canada and using up five days of my spring break. I mean the emotional and health cost. There's just too much baggage that I associate with holidays, created by twenty odd years of being the fattest person at the table. It's also amazing to me that I still carry this baggage with me like some Jewish version of Marley's ghost. I've been back in Kansas since last Thursday night and my sleep pattern is still messed up, my nutrition sloppy, my exercise underwhelming and my skin showing the effects of all the above. I am not doing this holiday jaunt again.

Back to work tomorrow, thank God. Back to order and routine and standards and having a huge lunch box full of healthy stuff. I just came back from the supermarket with spinach, both fresh and frozen, cottage cheese, green peppers, bananas and fresh pineapple. I went back to the frozen spinach because I plan to attempt the JB spinach souffle. I was going to do it tonight and then remembered that I don't own a casserole dish.

I finally have internet access at home. It's about time, and it means no more heading out to free wi-fi food establishments.

The Concept II materials (technique dvd and training guide) arrived today. I'm looking forward to watching it and implementing rowing as my regular interval cardio activity.

Good reading:

New Cosgrove article in T-Nation about fat loss hierarchy. The discussion thread is here.

Lidd3ll's regimen in SI.

An article about staying honest at Stumptuous.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

UFC 69 Musings

Maybe I should find a new place to watch UFC. The first time I went, they seated me at a table with a nice young couple. The second time, they seated me beside an annoying guy who morphed into an annoying drunk guy. And last night, they stuck me behind a pillar. The pillar turned out to be unexpectedly useful. I moved my chair so it was right beside the pillar. I was reasonably comfortable the rest of the evening, even if I had to twist around 270 degrees every time I wanted to drink. I got to the bar about ten minutes before the show started, and barely had time to find my seat, order something and get my book and pen out before it got under way. It begins with an amusing promo shot that features leather body armor and a sword. Probably meant as an allusion to 300, but succeeds only in reminding me of Z3na: Warrior Princess.

It occurs to me that if I had chosen Texas over Kansas a year ago I could have gone to see this one live. Or maybe not, considering the ticket prices. The first fight shown is Alan Belcher vs. Kendall Grove (for a second there I'm thinking Walnut Grove. I've got 70s tv on my mind today.) There's a clip with Belcher; he is wearing a plaid shirt and a black and white kerchief on his head... aiee, my eyes. I can't hear what he's saying because the four guys at the table behind me are talking rather loudly.

Entrances: AB looks happy and relaxed. The info on the screen says that he's a striker with ko power and conditioning. He's got one tattoo on his left deltoid. I'm grateful for the restraint. Grove enters wearing a white punishment athlete sweatshirt and a lecterish red face mask. Meant to look intimidating, but reminds me of the transformers. He takes off the shirt to reveal oodles of tattoos. The screen says he's got a height advantage, and something about strikes and submissions. He also looks relaxed, but not as happy as AB. He gets a lot more cheers than AB did. John McCarthy is the ref for this one.

KG strikes first and AB answers with a takedown. AB does the knee to side and KG does elbow to head. They get to their feet and lock up again. A kick by KG sends AB reeling back but there's no follow through. There's a mini shot at the corner of the screen with Tito Ortiz yelling out advice. At least he's wearing a suit. There's a foot stomp by KG. At 24 seconds to go in the first round the ref breaks them apart. At 3:48 to go in the second round it looks like AB is bleeding. There's a flurry by KG, and he ends up winning it by a lovely choke. He does a digging demo I can do without, but I can't quibble with the win or the fight. AB recovers sufficiently to congratulate KG at the end of the fight.

The next fight is Mike Swick vs. Yushin Okami. The ref is Mario Yamasaki. YO enters unaccompanied. The ever helpful screen says that he is strong, knows ground & pound, and has experience. 20-3 record, apparently. MS comes in looking focused but not relaxed. Looks like sideburns are back in style. The commentators say he's the hometown boy. He shakes hands with people in the crown as he enters. The crowd definitely likes him. I miss his record because several people come into the room during this fight and my view of the screen is blocked. I appreciate the lack of tattoos on both of these fighters.

MS starts off with several kicks but they don't seem particularly convincing. YO grabs him and pushes him back across the octagon to the wall. He holds MS down and pounds. YO is in control and MS looks perturbed. In the second round MS kicks and YO grabs and pushes. MS has a "not again" look on his face. He seems to be panting. At one point YO has hold of MS's ankles, and the guy at the table behind me suggests a figure four. There's a flurry by MS, but YO pushes him against the fence again. There's a minute to go in the 2nd round. They're on the ground with MS on top. At 20 seconds or so to go MS wakes up and remembers that he really ought to do something if he wants to win this. Between rounds his trainers are putting ice on his chest and back.

3rd round. YO is panting. There's a flurry by MS but it lacks oomph. YO take down again. At two minutes left it seems to be all YO, but with 20 seconds to go MS comes to life. At the end of the fight both fighters are pacing around the ring, both looking seriously unhappy. It's an unsurprising unanimous decision for YO. The interviewer brings in a Japanese translator so they can get YO's post fight comments. The translator doesn't understand YO with the mouthpiece in his mouth...

We get a promo for UFC 70, then a look at GSP and Serra. Looks like GSP is doing a shoulder and arm warmup, loosening up. Back to the fights... not yet. First we have an announcement by Dana White: a teaser about the "superbowl of MMA" and then a lengthier announcement about the signing of Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira. If you're wondering what a minotaur is, go here. AN has a nice smile, and I hate to sound petty, but why is he not wearing a suit?

The next fight is the lightweights. Roger Huerta vs Leonard Garcia. Tattoos: RH has a stylized something or other on one arm that looks pretty good. LG has a tiger on one shoulder and an assortment of other things that don't look quite so good. LG enters, runs around the octagon and kneels at the center. RH enters with earphones on. He looks calm and touches hands with the crowd as he walks. The screen says that he "likes to go to war". Who writes this stuff? RH crosses himself before entering. He is wearing the short, close-fitting trunks (think Arlovski) rather than floppy trunks, so I like him already. The measurements are very close. An inch difference in height and reach, a half pound difference in weight. The experience edge goes to RH, who has a record of 18-1-1 in contrast to LG's 13-1. It says that RH is fighting out of Minnesota. There's MMA in Minnesota?

The commentators mention that RH's last fight ended in 19 seconds. RH has G against the fence. LG takes RH down, driving his face/head into the mat. RH gets out of it. I'm guessing he's done his share of neck training. This fight has everything. Ground fighting, standup striking. At the end of the first round LG looks happy, although it might just be a perpetual smirk. His coach tells him "you need to calm down". But just as the coach's instructions to LG get interesting, they cut away to look at GSP and Serra getting their hands taped. Hello? On what planet is hand-taping more interesting than in-fight instructions?

Second round starts. LG looks tired. with two minutes to go they're on the ground with RH on top. Another takedown at 40 seconds or so to go in the round. I'm enjoying this fight so much I forget to write things down. At the end of the round RH gives LG a pat on the back. It's nice to see some sportsmanship to offset the morons who are coming up later. The cutman is working LG between rounds. 3rd round. At 4:10 to go, they're on the ground with LG on top. RH reverses. There's a flurry of activity with a minute to go. At 20 seconds to go RH is still hitting and LG is still alive. The crowd in the bar is applauding.

At the end of this fight RH and LG are kneeling in the center of the octagon across from each other, hands on each other's shoulders, heads touching, talking intently to each other. Then they walk around the octagon together. Beautiful. This level of class is why I watch this sport. LG's right eye is swollen near-shut. It's a decision for RH. He thanks God, his trainers, his mom, says "I love Texas", and spends the rest of the time praising his opponent. When the commentator is done RH asks to add something. He talks about his last fight, says "it was a legit knee" and "I belong here". You can see that criticism of his previous fight and 19 second win was bothering him, and going through all three rounds here is a vindication for him. I hope to see both of these guys again.

In retrospect, this was the most satisfying fight of the night. Almost made me forget the subsequent fight. Koscheck and Sanchez. The commentators say that when it comes to these two, "the word is hate". No, the word is "idiot". Everytime they show the clip of the shoving at the weigh-in I get annoyed. I'm somewhat more favorably inclined towards Koscheck because he wasn't the one shoving, and he had the sense to not shove back. I really hope the shoving wasn't pre-planned. If I wanted to see this nonsense I'd watch pro wrestling.

JK enters first, looking focused but not happy. What's with the pouting? He's wearing a camo t-shirt under a gray sweatshirt. Once in the octagon he listens to the ref's instructions and nods. He looks very serious. DS is preceded by a mariachi band: the "Mariachi Imperial de America". Oy. (I do not like overdone entrances, and this one brings up a five year old boxing memory - Hameed-Barrera, April 7, 2001. Hameed had an over-the-top entrance and ended up getting his butt kicked by Barerra. One of my favorite boxing matches ever.) DS enters running and skipping. JK is bouncing lightly and waiting. John McCarthy is the ref for this fight.

The first round is all wary striking and circling. JK is not keeping his head down. He's got one hand out, keeping distance between himself and DS. Neither fighter is endearing themselves to the crowd with all this inaction. With two minutes to go DS is bobbing and weaving and the crowd is booking. At 20 seconds or so to go, JK does a takedown. He pushes forward, picks DS up and lands. DS gets up. The round ends and the ref separates them. The second round is more of the same - nothing happening. Same thing in the third round. I take the opportunity to look around the bar. More activity in here than on the screen. There's a woman with an interesting t-shirt. It says "What do you call a person with no fear?" and the answer below "an ambulance".

It's a decision for JK. DS looks like a man who's been had and just realized it. What a dull, stupid fight. I don't want to see either of these two anytime soon. Maybe Mr. White can sit them down and make them watch the lightweight fight about fifty times. They might learn something about class. JK puts on a red cap at an angle. He re-enacts the shoving and tells the interviewer: "love me or hate me I don't care, he's 19 and ooooone" referring to DS's no longer perfect record.

Finally we get to the GSP-Serra fight. I hope it is good enough to make me forget the preceding stupidity. Serra comes in first. I like his entrance music. He looks good in that cap, brings out his cheekbones. Someone get this man a Men's Fitn3ss cover (they got one for Chuck Liddell, didn't they?) He looks relaxed and happy and I start worrying. He greets the crowd as he passes. He listens to the ref instructions looking serious and focused. GSP comes in next and I like his entrance music also. He's wearing a gi over shorts and a t-shirt. He crosses himself and bows in. This is a tough one for me. I like GSP because he's Canadian and because he has a reputation of being a very classy person. But Serra is older and shorter, and at a 6" reach disadvantage, so I want to cheer for him too. Sigh. I decide to cheer for GSP because the entire bar seems to be pro-Serra.

Serra is pacing and GSP is skipping. There's an extended glove touch/handshake and bow. As I often do in main events, I get too focused on the screen. I didn't get to write anything down before this one ended. The people in the bar were screaming when Serra moved in. It looked to me like GSP was still in a recoverable position until he tripped for the second time. And then it was over. GSP is on the ground. He recovers enough to be classy about the defeat. "Tonight I got beat by a better fighter than... myself", he says, pausing between the "than" and the "myself" - looking for the correct English equivalent. I love watching him; I hope there's a rematch. Serra is gracious also, saying that GSP is "the future of the sport". They're showing Hughes at ringside looking very happy with the Serra win. Well, it was a short fight, but I'm not disappointed.

The left-over time means that we get to see one of the earlier fights. It's a sore sport with me that not all the fights are televised. Would it kill them to show all the preliminary fights at the end of the card? Those who aren't interested could go home after the main event, and those that like the sport could stay and watch the whole thing. It's Luke Cummo vs Josh Haynes. Haynes has a blue mohawk and sideburns, and a tattoo on his side that might as well say "aim body shots here". I like this fight, except that people leaving the bar keep walking past me so I keep missing bits of it. LC won this one, and even though JH's UFC record is now three losses, I would like to see him fight again.

And that's it. You can see the official results and read coverage on the UFC's site. A decent card overall, a wonderful lightweight fight, and while the main event was short, that's the sport. Not every fight can go twenty-five minutes like RC-MS did at 68. Next report on April 21 if I can figure out where to watch UFC 70. I don't have a tv and I forgot to ask if the bar will be showing it even though it isn't a PPV.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


That's the sound of me landing back in Kansas this afternoon.

Nutrition-wise and activity-wise, not a good trip for me. No exercise, and every time I got stressed or annoyed I dealt with it by putting more matzah in my mouth. Carbs don't get any starchier than that... I don't usually think about weight, but I definitely came back heavier than when I left; I can feel the difference in the way I move. Thank goodness I had the forethought to make it a four day rather than a two week trip; I would have had to buy new clothes otherwise.


On the other hand, I had an unexpected and fascinating conversation with my 80 year old step-great-aunt (not sure about the exact label, but she's a very cool lady) about a strength coach.

I also had an amusing conversation with one of my relatives who was telling me about his new house:
He: we have a hot tub, a sauna, several decks, a gym...
Me: what's in this gym?
He: a nautilus machine, an elliptical...
Me: sweetie, if it doesn't have a squat rack, it's not a gym.
He: what's a squat rack?

I couldn't resist, but was all in good fun, and I do plan to take him and his lovely spouse up on their generous invitation and visit them in their new house this year.

Back to the gym, to vegetables, and to egg white omelets tomorrow.