Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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Thanksgiving: A Reminder of What I Don’t Want To Be

Thanksgiving is my annual reminder of what I don’t want.

Perhaps I ought to give a warning. Blogs and other publications traditionally offer warm-and-fuzzy, aren’t-I-blessed, isn’t-family-great posts around holidays. This isn’t one of those. Back to the story:

I returned from Thanksgiving, as always, far more stressed than ever. A lot of this is nobody’s fault. In addition to the fundamental unpleasantness of traveling long distances, big crowds in confined spaces are a personal nightmare of mine. While I like most of the 22 people who descended on my brother’s parents-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving, that doesn’t change the fact that there are 22 people in one house. There are limits to the amount of time you can spend in the bathroom. I’ve tested.

The crowd really wasn’t the big deal—it just helped fray the nerves I needed to deal with the real issue. You see, my immediate family is marked by, well, some really fucked-up power issues, often combined with a desire to pretend that demonstrations of power are actually acts of kindness and self-sacrifice. Being talked over, being told what I really mean and what I really think and what I really want, being given “advice” whose central component is how defective I am, having my plans changed on a whim, and receiving good old-fashioned temper tantrums… well, I don’t particularly want to relive them right now.

This holiday was relatively well-behaved, but after a lifetime, every little bit grates.

I have to admit, I don’t have good coping mechanisms. Stress-eating is a big problem (which is actively encouraged by certain parties). I breathe deeply, which does nothing, and I focus on playing with the nephews, which helps but can be exhausting.

In the past couple years I’ve also allowed myself to blow up (in words only) when someone deserves it. That scares me, to be honest. I don’t want to scream as randomly and regularly as I was screamed at growing up, which is why it took me 37 years to do it at all. (I made a vow to myself as a young child not to.) But it helps, and I’ve never shouted without provocation, and I usually don’t scream even with provocation, so I feel ok.

Despite that, after holidays with the family, I arrive home frazzled, bloated, and sick.

But this year, there is a very slight upside, because I realize that the experience is a reminder of what I don’t want. I don’t want to be a constant shouter or shoutee. I don’t want a life where solitude is impossible. As much as I love my nephews, I don’t want kids of my own. I don’t want food to be the crutch (and weapon) it has always been. And above all, I don’t want the powerlessness, worthlessness, and respectlessness I always feel with certain family members.

Can any good come of this reminder? That’s a trickier question. Being frazzled, bloated, and sick are self-sustaining conditions. The weekend helped to remind me of some of what I do want, but it comes with the reminder of my weaknesses and vulnerabilities too. And all the inspirational memes in the world don’t take those weights off my throat.

I feel like I should make a dick joke to wash away some of the bleakness. But that’s beneath me. Instead, I’ll just eat a banana, dipped in yogurt, and await the morrow.

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Planksgiving!

My gym is having a charming little contest around the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s called Planksgiving, and as you might suspect, it involves planks.

Wood plank graphic

Haha! See what I did there? This extraordinarily bad joke provided by Extraordinarily Bad Jokes, Inc. When you want your humor to fail, call Extraordinarily Bad Jokes, Inc.!

 

The point of said contest is to take a photograph of yourself doing a creative plank, or a creative photo of yourself doing a plank, or some combination of the two.

This is not my entry, because I don’t want to force the managers of my gym to have to decide between free speech and not spreading vulgarity in a business setting. But fortunately, I don’t need to worry about spreading vulgarity in a blog setting, so I’ll share it with you:

The human centiplank

The HUMAN CENTIPLANK! (First Sequence)

Enjoy that image. (And if you’re not horrified by the image, be bothered by the mediocre-to-poor Photoshopping, only it shouldn’t really be called Photoshopping since I used Gimp.)

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Ahhh! Halloween!

Yes, it’s the most frightening day of the year, apart from when you go to the dentist or meet someone who has replaced the vowels in their names with Ys and expanded it into extra syllables (and yes, I’m speaking from experience there).

I like my Halloween costumes to reflect true terror. So this year, I went as:

costume-1

costume-2

 

A YouTube comment section.

Hey, it might not be good, but at least I clearly didn’t have any help making it. (Although misspelling so many words made my fingers burn.)

And I even managed to work out in it!

Sure, the costume made it tough to bike, and the kettlebell swings (120 of them) were tricky too, but it was worthwhile.

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Flapper Boy

Today I got my best flappers.

I’m using “flappers” in the climbing sense—where skin peels off the hands due to friction—even though I was brachiating rather than swinging.

I won’t include photos, in part because the loose skin’s already off and in part because they would be a bit gross. Instead, I’ll give you this photo of me dancing the Charleston in a dress made of fringe.

My face on a Flapper Girl body

Far, far, far less disturbing than the picture of my hands would be. If you want the costume, BTW, it’s available at http://www.chasing-fireflies.com/cff/42344

So, what’s the story? Well, it really starts yesterday, when I went to a Meetup. (Specifically, the Go Infinite Tribe Meetup.)

Meetups, as the name suggests, are meet-ups of people, organized via the website, to do… well, something. I’ve done a couple before, and both were decidedly mediocre experiences. (Both were writing-related, so there was a pretty solid base level of pretension going on; one even featured someone uttering “Time travel is really hard to write,” only unironically.)

This one was a workout meetup, and much more fun. It was outdoors and in a playground, and it focused on (challenging) movements rather than hauling weights. Several of the people there were training with the goal of doing Ninja Warrior, so the movements were approaching those, although they scaled down well. I won’t write much more, since I’m not sure it’s my place to do so yet, apart from the fact that I enjoyed it a lot and will be going back, and to explain that there was one section where everyone got 30 seconds to do something—basically show off. Or in my case, do something and everyone politely pretends to be impressed. (That’s self-effacing humor; it was a perfectly supportive environment, even though I’m not anywhere near the level of most of the other people there.)

Anyhow, my “thing” was to do the monkey bars, jumping rather than swinging between bars. It went fairly well—the rungs were closer together than the ones at my gym, so it was easier. Everyone seemed pleased, and I didn’t replicate anything anyone else did, so all was well.

That laid the base for today, when in class at my regular gym we did… more monkey bars. Not exclusively, but about half the workout was a self-paced circuit that included one stop at the monkey bars. I got through the circuit 3 times, swinging down the bars twice (either normal or hitting every other bar) and then trying to jump bars the third time and not getting very far.

Then, since I had about 40 seconds left after finishing the third circuit, and the monkey bars were open, I went back to them one more time for a sense of redemption or because it seemed more fun than air squats, which would have been the next stop. So I made a lot of effort to go every other bar, and this time made it a bit more than halfway before my hands gave out…

But when I came off, I looked down at my hands, and they looked like partially peeled oranges. Two jagged flaps of skin were sticking up in the middle of my left hand, with a third on my right.

Okay, it’s not all that impressive—maybe a total of two inches, so it’s hardly gymnast-level skin loss. But it’s the most I’ve had, so I’ll consider it both a milestone and a life experience.

It didn’t hurt at all, at least when it happened. But I figured it was worth being safe, so I washed my hands, and that stung. Then I got some bandages at the gym, but before they let me put them on, they gave me an alcohol wipe to sterilize, and that stung like a mother. And now I can feel the skin regrowing, and that’s stinging too, though not as bad as the alcohol.

I guess the lesson is, monkey bars and alcohol don’t mix.

(Also, I’m a bit frightened of tomorrow… that’s a class that usually includes a bunch of monkey bar work. We’ll see how that works.)

 

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Fruit Ninja #1: Golden Kiwi

For the first post in my fruit-rating series, I’ve decided on the golden kiwi.

What is it? Well, it’s a kiwi. Or possibly a potato. Seriously:

golden kiwi

The inside is even potatoeyer.

Inside of a golden kiwi.

Perhaps we should call it a kotato. Or a peewee.

What does it taste like? Pretty nice, actually. I was expecting it to be the same as a regular kiwi—that sort of needlessly tart mush that oozes through you like air through a whoopie cushion. Instead, it was gently tart, and fairly sweet. And the texture was weirdly cooked-potatolike: soft but with enough body that it would hold your bite marks. The skin was also a lot like a potato skin, in both texture and flavor, which is odd but not horrifying.

How should I use it? Eat it raw, add to oatmeal, throw at a clown who is more menacing than funny, gently braise with honey and ginger and mash with parsnips. If the need is desperate, it could satisfactorily substitute for the second wise man in a Nativity display.

What should I be careful of? Zespri is the international spy organization that controls all kiwi production, marketing and sales with an iron fist, so if you cross them, expect repercussions. Even they, however, acknowledge that some people have kiwi allergies. If you find yourself threatened, claim you have one and they’ll probably let you be. There’s a 14-day kiwifruit challenge out there that, if completed, will indoctrinate you into a cult thoroughly legitimate religion and make you spend all your money and your time purchasing, consuming, and writing odes to kiwis. Whether you should eat the skin or not is the subject of immense controversy, so if you’re not entirely certain which way your friends or family go, eat your kiwi in the privacy of your own bedroom, and make sure you clean up any juice squirtings.

What are some fascinating facts, whether true or not? The golden kiwi was invented in the late 1940s in New Zealand when a desperate shepherd attempted to save his marriage by carefully controlling pollination of a kiwi tree so it is only ever touched by a yellow insect. His wife loved the color, and they managed to stay together for another three years, until the fundamental incompatibilities led her to realize that she could leave and become Audrey Hepburn. Kiwis are also known as Chinese gooseberries, which is a fun word, even though it sounds better in British than American.

How would you rate it? On a scale of one to ten, I give the golden kiwi the news that iPhones will no longer have wired earbuds.

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Photos: DRX-Games

I’m later with these than I’d intended (major freelance gig distraction) but as is my habit I’d like to share photos from the DRX-Games. They had some official photography going on, and one of the nice things about the relatively small event is that there are a lot of photos of everyone.

As has been documented, I prefer to share the bad ones. Plus, I have this condition called ugliness that causes the light that bounces off my body to twist into a grotesque form as it approaches an observer or a camera. So these shouldn’t be considered a reflection on the photographer; I’m just not a fair subject.

Let’s start with what I call the constipated hippo pose:

Me on the DRX-Games Cargo net

Nearly as elegant is the immediate precursor to this shot, where I’m roughly impersonating that “Hang in there” cat, although less convincingly.

DRX Dash cargo net

Seriously, that cat’s dead now.

The tire flip was one of my better events, but I have to take issue with my form. Shouldn’t I be squatting a lot more thoroughly? Although that’s not quite fair, because if I were squatting well I’d be all, “Here’s me in the ‘slightly dim ostrich who doesn’t realize his egg is actually a big rock pose’ so maybe I should be easier on myself.”

Me in the DRX-Games Tire Flip

I like this one because of what’s probably an optical illusion. How did the spear get all the way up there when my hand is all the way down there? Probably the shot is after my follow-through and the spear is from someone behind me, but I prefer to simply call myself a wizard.

Spear Throw at the DRX-Games

This was actually a race. Doesn’t it show? The intensity on my face, the determination in my gait? I mean, I’ve nearly caught up to that inanimate tire!

Tire drag at the DRX-Games

From the same event: How does this face happen? It’s like I’m trying to smile but I’ve never seen a smile, only a description of a smile from someone else who also has never seen one.

DRX-Games Tire Drag

This one’s an ego boost, since I’m quite literally the only person in the world. So the problems in the face are okay because there’s no one with a better face to compare them to.

Farmer Walk at DRX-Games

This one you can smell the grunting. This wasn’t even the heaviest of the Atlas Balls, so I’m pretty sure I’m grandstanding a bit.

Atlas Carry from the DRX-Games

There are a bunch more (as I said, their photography game was on point and there are way more albums than that on their FB page), but the ones where I don’t look mental… well, why bother?

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