Goals review, I won a contest edition

As expected, January was mega busy. February is shaping up to be that, which is good and not good in various ways. In particular, I was hoping to have a weekend off at some point, but that won’t be happening for at least a couple weeks.

But a quick update on goals:

Stay sane: I’m going to give myself a clear pass on this one. I made all my deadlines in my job, and all my deadlines in my freelance work, and didn’t trash my diet or exercise to do it.

Weight of 260: Not quite; my Jan. 31 weight was 260.5. I didn’t have the data necessary to compare 7-day averages the way I like to. But while I didn’t technically meet this goal, the spirit of the goal was met: there was a clear downward trend in weight that is much more important than the specific number. I’m pleased with it.

10 Laches, or “jumping bar thingies”: Yep. I made this goal, getting up from 5 to 10 consecutive. In fact, that happened about halfway through the month, so now I’m working on doing them quicker. My current technique is to swing, jump, catch, then rebuild momentum so I can jump again. But there are people who can do it without all that momentum. Some of it’s strength, some of it’s technique, and I don’t currently have enough of either, but I was able to start working on it before I expected to.

Freestanding handstand: I still can’t do this exactly, although I think I’m closer. There have been times when I’ve kicked up and held one near the wall but not touching for a couple seconds. But I still don’t have control to do that consistently, and I’m still super-nervous to do it completely freestanding.

Writing: This one didn’t work at all; I did essentially nothing that wasn’t work-related. Already this month, though, I’ve started movement on the higher-priority project, though, so it’s certainly not dead.

Bonus goal: This wasn’t one that I planned at the beginning of the month. But then a couple days into January, my gym started a contest: row 500 meters for time.

I’ve got, in fact, a long list of fitness goals that go way beyond my monthly focuses, and one of those has been to do a 500 meter row in 1:30. The last time I timed one, back in March, I was at 1:32.6. I had three goes at it as part of this contest.

The first time I fell off the rower. I was over-exuberant in the start, and pushed off super-powerfully, and my butt got some air, and the seat didn’t move, and then gravity took over. It was a beautiful and glorious thing, although I didn’t finish the row.

The second time immediately followed the fall, and resulted in a time of 1:30.2. Which, spoiler alert, was enough to win the contest. But that 0.2 (or, as I described it, “that fucking .2”) bothered me. So the next week, I tried again, and:

Rowing machine display

Yep, 1:30 flat.

(And yes, that 1:39 was my ending pace. I was actually fairly steady through about 400 meters and then crashed. I was also shaking for about an hour after I did this.)

So that was cool, although it bears remembering: Rowing time is but one indicator of fitness, and in my case, a particularly skewed one—my weight gives me a major advantage against smaller people.

While I’m here, and since I might not be again for a while, let’s knock out some goals for February:

Weight: I’ve got my 7-day averages being calculated, so I’ll say dropping 8 pounds from the 262.142 figure would be great.

Freestanding handstand: Continue working in hopes of making it happen.

5 pull-ups: Pull-ups are my gym’s contest this month, and I am quite certain that I won’t be winning this one. (There’s already a 28 on the board, and my best is 4, maybe 5 if I sort-of cheat.) My goal is 5 consecutive real ones, although I suspect if the weight continues dropping and I continue working, I should do a bit better than that.

Monkey bars: I’ve been working on doing monkey bars backwards with some success, so this month I’m hoping to get to where I can do my gym’s full rig backwards.

L-pose: This is a tricky one that is a staple of a couple of classes at my gym. As I’m using the term, it’s actually an upside-down L: hands on the ground, feet at the wall, body making a right angle. Our standard hold is ten seconds, which I can’t do, but I’m working on it and that will be my goal for the month.

Writing: Same as last month, with a strong focus on starting the process of setting up interviews and researching agents for the kid’s non-fiction idea, which is higher priority. The comedy for adults realistically is going to stay on hold for this month.

Sanity: I’m gonna need this one again. I don’t have the huge freelance commitments, but my regular job is continuing to be super-busy, and I’ll be working at least the next two weekends. I hope to get an actual day off before long, and in fact I might get a bit early next week, but no guarantees.

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New Year, New Goals

Well, sort of. I still need to work out my grand overall big picture goals, but I’ve at least put together some priorities for this month.

Sanity: This will be a tricky one. My day job is going to be super-busy this month, with lots of deadlines in a tight batch and lots of people who I need to reach who don’t need to be reached by me. I’ve also got a couple of significant freelance projects lined up, which is great but doesn’t reduce stress. And then I’ve got my own writing projects, which are speculative but promising; they don’t have deadlines but I don’t want to lose momentum.

Weight: I’m at 268 this morning; 2016 was a bad year for that (and everything else in the universe). Goal will be 260 by the end of the month.

Laches: I finally learned the name of that thing where you jump from bar to bar. I can currently do 5 of them consecutively on the monkey bars in my gym. (I’m about as graceful as a hippo doing laches, but then again, it’s pretty remarkable to see a hippo doing laches, so I don’t think I need to feel bad about that.) Ultimately I’d like to be able to do the full 25-bar rig, but as a preliminary goal I want to work up to 10. (Even though I have a feeling that with this one it will happen all at once; my issue right now is that I can do the jump but my momentum is completely gone when I do, so it takes a lot of effort and a lot of wear on the hands to get going again.)

Handstand: I’m getting pretty comfortable with the handstand kickup that I finally got in about August of last year, so now I’m working toward a free-standing one. I’m not sure how far I am from this one; there are times when I feel like I’m close and then times when I feel like it’s hopeless. I don’t have a great sense of where my body is when I’m upside down, which helps to make it tricky.

Writing: As noted above, I’ve got a couple of speculative but promising writing projects. One, a nonfiction book for children, is especially exciting in a career sense; I think it has potential to become a series, and I’ve talked to the subject for this specific entry and she’s interested. Of course, that means that in addition to actually writing the thing I need to start looking for representation and making a plan to actually sell it. January’s going to be rough for that but I want to at least begin the transition from planning to setting up necessary interviews and doing hard research into agents and the publishing side of it.

The second, an adult humor book (as in, humor book for adults, not book of adult humor), is complex in a different way. I’ve actually done a fair amount of work on it, but there’s also a lot of that work that is no good. So I need to figure out what to keep, what to edit, what to throw out, what new stuff to write, and get a firm plan for completing it.

Man, January looks tiring.

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I’m Lucky I Don’t Have Fashion Sense

While on Facebook recently, I unwisely clicked through to a clickbaity article, albeit from a reputable source, about the “11 items that no fit guy should be without“—i.e., the clothes you absolutely positively must be wearing at the gym so you don’t look like a noubche. (That’s a combination of a knob, a noob, and a douche. It’s the worst thing a human can be without voting for Trump.)

"Stylish" T-shirt

But what makes it stylish? Is it the horizontal lines? Or the vertical lines? Maybe the black band around the inside of the neck that nobody will see? Or the retro TV test-pattern pattern?

It’s a valuable list. And not just because it tells you that you need a T-shirt, and one that’s apparently stylish. No, it’s valuable in a more literal way. $900.88—that’s the cost of these 11 items.

Of course, the editors of Esquire showed restraint. They didn’t include a technical warm-up jacket in their list of 11 items, because as they humbly declared, “Call us old fashioned, but you don’t necessarily need a technical warm-up jacket to go to the gym.” So instead they replaced it with the “great” looks of a gray hoodie. ($44.99).

Fortunately this restraint didn’t carry through to the lower body, because one of the essentials is tailored sweatpants. After all, “Tailored track pants are as important on men’s runways as they are in the weight room.” So you’d better have them!

Also, what’s the difference between tailored pants and just normal pants, and is tailoring something that normally happens to sweatpants?

Anyhow, if you have $900 to burn—well, you’re out of luck, because all this stuff costs $900 and 88 cents, so if you don’t also have the 88 cents, you’re doomed to a life of noubchebaggery. On the other hand, being a noubchebag means that you can just go to the gym and workout without having to worry too much about whether you’re wearing the right T-shirt, so maybe it’s not so bad.

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Fruit Ninja #3: The Bosc Pear

Welcome to the third in a series of posts in which I stand in judgment over miscellaneous fruits. Today, I’m judging the Bosc Pear.

What is it?

It’s a pear! It may weird you out, because where do you start?

What does it look like? It looks a lot like a child of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Not the one they loved, the one they dropped a lot. Either that or the sweet old grandmother who works in the lunchroom in a kid’s TV show.

What does it taste like? It wants to taste like an apple, but it can’t quite manage it. If a plain cake donut could taste like a fruit, it would taste like a pear.

What is its texture? It wants to feel like an apple but it can’t quite manage it. It doesn’t quite have the crunch, or the firmness. It’s more like really old mashed potatoes. And then you run into the gritty bits that feel like when a bit of beaky gristle doesn’t get ground up finely enough and makes its way into the Chicken McNugget as a chunk, which doesn’t help matters.

How does eating one make you feel? Like this:

Yes, complete with the really weird lighting.

How would an Elizabethan orphan react? “I am very fill’d with pangs of hunger. There’s few or none will entertain it, but I wanteth to consume.”

What would its motto be? Inferius signus! (Lower your standards.)

What do the experts say? “Bosc pears stand out in a crowd for many reasons. Their long, curved stem and elegant elongated neck that widens gradually to a full rounded base creates a silhouette that is unique among pears. … Many artists feature the russeted Bosc pear in their paintings, drawings, and photography because of the natural beauty it imparts.” (via USA Pears.)

“The Most Elegant Pear Around” (via Stemilt World Famous Fruit.)

How would you describe this fruit in interpretive dance? 

(See what I did there? Every move is in twos, because it’s a pear.)

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A Winter Workout Pitfall

We’re into December. Being in the Northern Hemisphere, that means winter, and more precisely, cold.

Unfortunately for me, that means snot. Basically, I’m going to have a low-level runny nose from now until about May. I won’t really be ill; it’s just a consequence of winter that I need a huge pile of tissues nearby at all times. (Well, winter and the ready availability of the internet.)

The runny nose lasts even when I go inside, which poses an unusual challenge for fitness. Workouts involve sweat, the excess of which can easily be remedied through the use of a workout towel. When combined with a runny nose, however, there is at least a horrifying ambiguity: Is what you’re wiping away truly just liquid, and therefore safe to wipe using a towel, or is it pure golden manna that must be cleaned by a more disposable option?

That does raise another question, however. What should we call the combination of nose sweat and snot that forms when, well, they come together? I feel like there should be a name for that.

And so I’ve come up with one.

Given the rather horrible political happenings of the past few weeks, I felt it would be right to take my cue for the name of this material from the example of santorum.

So, which evil politician should a mix of sweat and mucus be named after? I actually struggled with this, because the sweat-mucus blend is sort of a trivial problem. So it needs to be named after someone equally trivial. Naming it “Trump,” for example, would inappropriately diminish the evil that that individual has threatened and likely has the power to unleash.

So who is awful enough, but ultimately unimportant enough, to warrant being named after this?


New Jersey Governor and presidential fart-rag Chris Christie—the guy who recognized Donny’s danger, then endorsed him, then for his trouble was given important tasks like picking up his burgers from McDonald’s, then seemingly got back in the president-elect’s good graces, only to be then dumped again—will hereafter give his name to the curious blend of sweat and snot that results from winter workouts.

Let’s hope Christie—both the person and the snot-sweat mixture—remain trivial this winter and for the rest of time.

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Good Things in Bad Times

It’s been a rough few months for me. There’s been a lot of asshattery that I’ve had to deal with, none of which it would be wise for me to detail here. I haven’t exactly dealt with it well, or at least they’ve had some impact on the rest of my life, and particularly, my mental and physical health. Things like diet are under my control, but that control is way harder when there’s constant stress, anxiety, isolation, and artificially boosted hopes followed by crushing disappointment.

This post isn’t to whine (much) about that, though. Instead, it’s to brag about a couple good things that have happened in that time.

First, the handstand kick-up that I’ve been working for, on-and-off, for several years has happened. Here’s proof:


Why, yes, those are my Extremely Blue Pants, thanks for noticing.

That video is actually a couple months old. Since then the handstand has improved: My ratio of kicking-up-but-not-getting-all-the-way to kicking-up-and-getting-all-the-way has improved a lot, and I’m able to do it while looking at my hands rather than staring out, and I’m even starting to get some control at the top which suggests that a freestanding handstand won’t be impossible.

Second, I have now submitted my second-ever book query to a publisher. Yes, Dad’s Little Book of Rage, the piece of fiction thingy that gave the world this image:


It’s the underage bondage carnival!

is now out in the wild.

Researching the submission process took longer than I expected, and it sucked. There’s a lot of information out there, but most of it takes the form of “Here are the 18 million things you ABSOLUTELY MUST DO WITHOUT THE TINIEST ERROR OR YOU WILL BE REJECTED FOREVER, and also, even if you do them all perfectly you still won’t get published because YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”

Of course, knowing how stupid that is doesn’t exactly help me, because as proud as I am of DLBOR (as I call it), it’s got some challenges to get published. Its form is atypical: It’s illustrated but not a graphic novel, and it’s not even exactly a novel at all—more a collection of loosely connected stories. Subject-wise? Well, it’s about child abuse, but it’s a comedy. (On the surface, at least. Taken as a whole, I think it’s appropriately dark for the subject matter. And the abuse part is never treated as something funny or amusing.)

The net impact is, not every editor is going to love it, and even if they do, not every publisher is going to want to publish it, so I needed to find ones in the right niche.

Nevertheless, I’m eager to move that project into another phase so I can get going in earnest on some other ones, even if it means reading books by noted sack of crap Laura Schlessinger. See, one of the projects is, to put it modestly, the Hot Fuzz of parenting books: A parody that takes all of the absurdities in the genre’s tropes and rolls them into one incredible thing. But that requires reading a bunch of crappy parenting books, even if they have creepy smiles on the front.

The other project, if it comes off, is about turtles.


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Filed under Dad's Little Book of Rage, Goals, Training, writing

The Lowest-Earning OCR Athletes

So, yesterday ORM published an article about the top-earning athletes in OCR. Cool and all, if you’re into that. But what if you’re more into the everyday racers—the mid-packers, the ones who stay anonymous, the ones whose struggles won’t be elevated to the status of “inspirational story” easily packaged, shared and liked on Facebook?

You’re in luck! In this post, I can offer you a highly exclusive list of the lowest-earning OCR athletes. Read and be inspired. Or not. I’m not your boss.

Female speaker (Actually Dr. Brene Brown)

5. Jordan Alexandrescu: This hard-working mother of two from Cleveland learned that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome any obstacle, and became a motivational speaker to profit off of this realization. Earnings: $600. Unfortunately, she failed to put her mind to the obstacle of learning directions to her first gig, and the route was not marked to her satisfaction, so she arrived 45 minutes late. She managed to get them to pay half of the original price, but word got around, and she never got another motivational speaking gig again.

4. Urd Bruhn: This professional teenybopper from Tulsa sold a finisher medal and shirt on Ebay. Earnings: $79.99, less shipping.

3. Johnathan Albion: This quinoa farmer from Pensacola was offered a gig as a celebrity impersonator thanks to a couple of typos and a mediocre app that finds anyone’s celebrity twin. See, Mosi Murdock was having a party, and being a huge Matlock fan, he wanted an Andy Griffith impersonator. When the app decided that Jonathon Albon is Andy Griffith’s celebrity twin, Mosi tried to Google his number, made a few typos, and didn’t realize his mistake until too late. Earnings: Mosi still gave Johnathan $50 plus a slice of birthday cake for his time. (Not one with the icing rose, of course.)

2. Adella Bryan: She “won” the OCR set up in the backyard by her mom, beating out nobody, because she has no friends. Earnings: One shiny quarter.

1. Ryder Bass: This home economics teacher from Eugene, Oregon, picked up a discarded aluminum can on the course and returned it to a store for the deposit. Earnings: 5 cents (although it would have been 10 in Michigan.) Also, he was able to post about all the garbage on OCR courses and how terrible it is that nobody cares about litter to twelve different OCR Facebook groups, which earned him a total of 374 likes and 51 comments of agreement, forestalling the time when he had to gaze into the empty blackness of his own soul for a full 31 hours.

(Credits: Most names generated randomly at Behind The Name. Photo is actually Dr. Brené Brown; Photo by Dell Inc., licensed under CC BY 2.0 via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dr._Brene_Brown_at_Texas_Conference_for_Women_(cropped).jpg)

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