Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm Never Having Kids. Ever

I've often said this, and at times have even wavered from this stance but I must admit that there is no finer birth control then dealing with a seven year old for a week. I do not ever want, nor will I ever want one of my own.

Some background is in order here.

Due to some family issues the Missus's parents do not feel comfortable leaving their youngest Denise with their next youngest, Kaylee, while both girls are on break. They were looking into daycare options and found them to be rater expensive, though how a family that makes over $200K annually deems something in the realm of $300 expensive is beyond me but anyway. My Missus volunteered to take Denise for the week. So she retrieved Denise, and $20, I figure for our trouble from her mother and now we have Denise for a week.

Now, I have nothing against Denise. She's loud, annoying, and attention starved but that's hardly her fault nor unique to her. I've been told most seven year old kids are loud. But it wouldn't be half as bad if she wasn't so attention starved. I know she's used to dealing with parents who are indifferent at best and an older sister who is even more attention starved and makes sure she gets all the attention she can, usually by negative and destructive means. Anyway, it's just so frustrating. Denise would have probably been a great kid accept her parents are turning her into an attention starved materialistic thing and they just don't see it, or don't care.

Just frustrating. I'm just not having kids and then I won't have to worry about it! No noise, no parenting, nada. Seems like a good deal in my mind.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So he Wants to Wrestle eh?

A good friend of mine IM'd me the other day with a few questions, the topic interestingly enough was wrestling. No, not the professional kind, the middle school sport kind and as I'm one of the few people in my group who practices any sort of martial art she thought I would be a good person to ask.

Evidently one of her sons had recently expressed an interest in joining the wrestling team. He's not terribly athletic but then again nobody in her family is. It's not that they are fat or out of shape they just don't really exercise. They are all thin, genetics god bless, and in fair physical condition but as I told her wrestling is a whole different animal. She had concerns about injury, about he sons ability to handle himself in a physical situation, concerns over his physical health, general normal concerned parent questions.

I told her that he most likely would get hurt, and it was natural. Wrestling as with Judo, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, or in fact any contact sport the chance of injury is high. Yet at the same time the risk of injury is known, and mitigated to a great deal. Rules exist in sport to mitigate the risk and a good coach, and a good team will look to train hard, practice hard and at the same time minimize risk. I also said something that made me pause. I said that the training takes care of that. By that I meant the pain, the inevitable injury, but I meant something more. Training in any physical discipline conditions your body. A football player hits day after day till one day he wakes up and realizes he's taking hits that would have floored him just a few months back. I take throws in Judo that when I started would have left me winded and on the verge of tears and now I stand up, fix my Gi, and go back to work. I'm able to do this because of the training, the conditioning.

Her son is small, lean, with little muscle mass. he is thin for his height, an advantage in wrestling and I wonder if with the proper training and conditioning and support if he could be a fantastic wrestler. Either way, good or bad I told her she should make sure he follows through, and I hope to offer whatever help I can.

It's a Ghost Town

Twas the day before Christmas and all through Engineering not a cube was stirring.... accept for mine...

I swear it's a ghost town in here! I saw a tumbleweed blow past the coffee pot earlier. This is just asinine, I have no idea how I'm supposed to get any work done today. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good Luck to the Missus!

My Missus has an interview today. It's for Petco down the road and I wish her luck. She took the Rochester City Police Exam a few months back and were still waiting on the results so this job, if she gets it, is really just a place holder for the short term but it's a good place holder. Aside from the fact that she loves working with animals Petco offers health benefits to part time employees which is a huge plus.

On top of all this she has also really gotten into working out, she needs tom pass certain physical fitness requirements for the RPD, one of which is a mile and a half run. While it doesn't seem like much running for any distance just sucks for people like the missus and myself. Were just not built for it but she has gone out, and dragged me along, day after day to run or walk or lift and just in general get into shape. I'm proud of her, even if she does insure that I end up sore and achy every night.

Were going to get into shape even if it kills us!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Martial Decisions

I've tried writing this post a few times and it never seems to come out well. This is a sentiment, a topic, that has come to me based on a few bad decisions and years of being dissatisfied and not knowing why.

I always wanted to be a martial artist. I always knew I was not an athlete. I've always been heavy, I've always been a little slow on my feet, and I've had bad joints for as long as I can remember.

I always believed that an athlete was not a martial artist, that there was somehow this divide between the two. I's seen it referred to as the Ring v. Street debate and in a large way that was the issue in my mind. I was unwilling to believe that what I was practicing, the martial art I was practicing, was less martial and more art, then I would like to believe. I refused to make the correlation between physical conditioning and hard sparring and martial applicability. I was stuck in a street mentality. I did not have to spar, did not have to compete because my art did not have rules, I refused to limit myself to what could be used in a ring and therefore my art was better, in spite of the lack of sparring and conditioning.

Then something shifted, I began to really think about what I was practicing, I began to really think about my training and most importantly I began to try and use my training and I kept coming back to one conclusion. What I was doing simply did not work. I wanted to be a fighter, and in order to be a fighter I had to stop thinking like a martial artists and start thinking like an athlete.

So the pendulum swung the other way. I enrolled first in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu then in Judo. I began to look to compete, I began to run and lift weights outside of class to improve my performance in class. I stopped thinking of myself as a martial artist and began to think of myself as an athlete.

However I have found out one interesting truth. It's a truth that should have been self evident and it was brought to light by a comment the Missus made. Her younger sister began to take Aikido, an art that I have little respect for for many reasons none of which are important at this time. She said that I "talked crap about any art I didn't practice" and this made me pause. She is partially right and it was something that I had partially realized years earlier but had not internalized. That truth is this: Not everyone is me. It seems crazy but it was really a tough pill to swallow. I look at Aikido, most Kung Fu, most Karate, most Tae Kwon Do and I see arts that are a waste. I see people training in styles that have no sparring, no conditioning and minimal applicability to a combative situation. When I first made the transition from a martial art to a combat sport I thought it was the most logical of transitions and wondered why everyone didn't have the same epiphany I had just had. Then once the Missus made her comment it clicked. Everyone isn't me. Most people don't want to sweat, want to fall, want to get hurt, want to get hit and thrown and bruised and come back for more. Most people don't wake up in the middle of the night thinking about competing. It's a sad truth, but it's the truth. So now when I hear about the Missus sister's Aikido I simply smile and remind myself that I have years to show her the error of her ways when she's just a little bit older.

Until then I'm going to keep competing and training and hoping that all the people I see streaming out of the Karate dojos never need to use what they feel they are learning.

Winter Driving 101

As a prelude to this post I'd like to say it snowed today, a lot. Now snow itself does not bother me, neither does the idea of driving in the snow. What bothers me, and what I wish to address here is the behavior of other drivers while it's snowing and what I like to call "Driver Etiquette"

First let's establish some common terms. Roadways are divided up into a number of lanes. The right most lane is referred to as the driving lane. Now if there is more then one lane in either direction lanes to the middle and left are referred to as traveling or passing lanes. Depending on the number of lanes. For the purpose of our discussion today imagine a two lane highway, one driving lane and one passing lane.

Now, when it is snowing I like to change the designation of these lanes, the driving lane becomes the "Safe traveling speed" lane in which the maximum speed is anywhere from 15 to 30 mph. The passing lane is now referred to as the "I have a death wish" lane or the "I own a Hummer with studded snow tires" lane and in this lane the speed limit is roughly five miles above the posted speed limit.

Now, on to etiquette. If you are driving in the sane speed lane stay there. If you are driving in the death wish lane, stay there. Nobody has problems, nobody dies. Accidents happen when the two lanes interact, usually at a speed greater then the sane lane and less then the death wish lane.

Also, drivers who erratically change lanes should be shot.

If the driver in front of you is going too slow for your liking feel free to pass, but do so in an intelligent manner and not when the passing lane is full of cars. If you do this you are an idiot and should be taken out back and beat senseless with a snow shovel.

Now, accidents. I've often thought this is an interesting term. I would hazard a guess that there are very few true accidents. An accident in driving would be turning down a one way street that did not have a sign, an accident is not going to fast and hitting another car in the snow. Anyone with a basic understanding of physics can avoid 99% of winter "accidents" and those in Rochester who seem to lack this basic understanding, stay off my roads!

Monday, December 8, 2008

After Action Report, or How I Will Get Better

I know it's been a little while since the club tournament but I wanted to put down my thoughts on what I did right, and what I did wrong.

My first match was against Will, I have a fair size advantage against him yet I know he's a better Judo player then me, especially on the ground. I know if I wanted to have a chance I had to stay on my feet. I promptly forgot this game plan and ended up on the ground. Instead of standing up and restarting, which would have been smart, I tried to grapple. Me, versus a collegiate wrestler, not pretty. Advice for the future.... follow the blessed game plan.

My second match was against one of my Sensei. I had an even larger weight advantage on Sensei Mike. I've thrown him in the past and have held my own on the ground. I spoke quickly with Sensei Jeff while I waited to take the mat and he told me roughly the same advice as the previous match. Don't grapple. This time I listened, I stuffed a few good throws and worked for a sweep. Several times we ended up on the ground and I was quick to stand back up and back off. I played till the two minute mark when Sensei sunk in a beautiful throw. I felt him coming in and tried to drop my hips to block the throw and simply wasn't fast enough. next thing I know I was airborne. I was told later the throw occurred in two distinct parts, the first I felt as my feet left the floor, the second was the technical throw, which resulted in me executing a perfect break fall... to bad they don't give out points for that. Advice for the future? Grip fighting is good, combos are good, I need to get faster.

I thought my performance was a huge improvement over Pittsburgh. I would have liked a victory but I guess that's going to have to wait for next time.

As I keep saying, my objective is not to be good.... it's to suck a little less each class.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Judo is Like....

Judo competition is like sex. Your first time is awkward and over far too quickly but once you've had it once you can't get enough.

My club tournament was today. I took third, out of three. I played Will fantastic ex-collegiate wrestler. I lost to him by pin. I then played Sensei Mike, a black-belt. I lost to him by throw but I can definitely say they were both fantastic matches. Sensei Mike got "Throw of the Day" for his match against me, and I got "Projectile of the Day" for my match with him. Not a bad deal.

All in all the tournament was fantastic and I'm now looking to next year and my next tournament.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I Love Barbecue

I've been nursing a rib injury for days now, it's a colossal pain but all gray clouds have a silver lining and in this case the silver lining was drowned in barbecue sauce.

I got out of Judo and decided that for dinner the Missus and I were having ribs. So we sauntered out to Dinosaur-BBQ in Rochester. While it's a sister restaurant of the Dinosaur-BBQ in Syracuse it's a completely different feel, the Rochester location feels more like a friendly family sit down joint as opposed to the hot loud crazy experience of dining with a hundred people crammed into a shoebox that is the Syracuse location.

However, the food was incredible as always and they had a live blues band that was simply incredible. Robin Rogers is the lead singer of the band and her voice is simply incredible. Sound quality was top notch, her band was even better. All in all it was an awesome night.

Black Friday

I sat on this topic for awhile mainly because I couldn't think of anything I truly wanted to say about it and like most tragedies everyone has a "fix" and if they were there, had they been in charge, or more likely, had those in charge done a, b, or c the tragedy would not have happened.


I finally decided what I had to say about the death in Long Island this past Friday and what I have to say has absolutely nothing to do with the death. That has been covered a million times over and beat to death. if you want an armchair general's take on the situation just do a Google search, they are not hard to find. yet to a man, woman, child, blogger, writer, all the opinions in the world don't do a bit of good. A man is dead, and it's not his fault, nor is it the fault of Wal-Mart for not providing adequate security it's the fault of America. Shoppers tore the doors from their hinges and rushed the store for what? Electronics gadgets? Trinkets? Stuff? Bullshit.

We teach our children from the moment of birth that stuff matters. I have friends who can't pay their bills, but they have Sirius radio. I have seen college students so far in debt they can't see the sun yet they still go shopping every weekend. Stuff does not matter. He who dies with the most toys, is still dead.

When will we as a culture realize what we are doing? Were teaching our children it's alright to trample a man to death and keep on shopping. When will we start to teach our kids that they don't need all their possessions? When will reduce apply not only to our consumption but our materialism?

I've never been poor. I've had times when money has been tight, when I've had to say no to things, make choices, and occasionally do without. But at no point have I ever been seriously poor. I'm lucky, I come from a middle class household with educated parents are the assumption that I would go to college. Yet I differ from a lot of the people around me in one simple, fundamental way. I don't want stuff. I can count of one hand the things I truly NEED. If we were to truly be that granular I could even list my bare minimum possessions, and I would be surprised if the list exceeded thirty items.

I might just do that.

Anyway, materialism is ruining our society, and the only way to stop it is to make a conscious decision to say no. Don't get up at 4am to shop, don't camp out the night before and when your kid asks for the hot new "it" toy. Tell them no, or better yet, ask them to trade one for one. They want a new toy, then have them give up an old toy, an old game. Keep things in check. helps with clutter too.

In this case a man would still be alive if a group of people had just stopped and thought for a second. No one offered a hand, nobody stopped to help him to his feet. Were all to blame for this, and if there is a God, and for Jdimytai Damour's sake there is, every shopper in that place deserves to relive his last moments, from his perspective, for all eternity.

Carnivores, Omnivores, and Veggievores

This is in response to a note a friend of mine posted on Facebook and as the comment section of Facebook is almost useless for a non-linear asynchronous debate I decided to write down a few thoughts here.

The note itself, which I won't bother reproducing here in interest of space was a sermon detailing my friends belief in a lower meat diet. Not necessarily vegetarian, but lower meat. Now the note itself I agree with 85% or so, but one of the comments made by another friend of mine really got me thinking, and in turn inspired this post. The comment is as follows:

"And yet, vegans live 4 years longer; vegetarians 6. Those who brush their teeth, another 6... Women who don't marry: 2, men who do: 3. Meat eaters -- 0."

My initial response was to do a quick Google search and based on the results of the search I realized that there are simply way too many studies, none of which agree 100%. So I decided to fall back on my own personal, anecdotal experience.

Most of the studies agree that a meat intensive diet is not the most healthy lifestyle. This was certainly not a surprise. What I find interesting is what is the definition of a meat intensive diet? I don't eat meat with breakfast, often my lunches are leftovers from the night before so if there was meat for dinner there is often meat for lunch, and dinner tends to follow the meat, carbohydrate, veggie pattern.

On top of this I take a multi-vitamin and should get back into the habit of taking fish oil and Glucosamine and Chondroitin for my joints. Fish oil, interestingly enough, comes from fish, a food that most vegetarians swear off.

However, I digress. My issue with vegetarianism is simple. As most vegetarians live the lifestyle it makes no sense. Biologically we are designed to eat a mixed diet. There is not a nutritionist in the world who would say otherwise. However, as with the studies above it's hard to come to a consensus on what a mixed diet is. I lived with a gentlemen who was a militant vegetarian. However, he had done countless hours of research and understood what he should be eating and why. His diet was very expensive, comprised in a large part of organic and whole foods, he got his protein from beans, soy, and quinoa.

He also has minimal muscle mass and bad joints, he won't take supplements, or fish oil, as they come from animals, and so suffers with chronic joint pain and has trouble exercising for any length of time. Consequently his blood pressure and resting heart rate are fairly high.

However, I know that one case cannot an argument make and most of the studies out there will say a vegetarian diet is healthier. However, a true vegan diet can carry more risks then benefits. As with any highly restrictive diet there are numerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies observed in the vegan population, especially if they do not take some sort of multivitamin supplement. However, I won't get into Vegans here as this post is already too long.

Lastly, why am I not a vegetarian. For those of you who don't care feel free to stop reading now. I like meat. I like pork, chicken, turkey, fish and beef. Yet I understand the effects of my lifestyle. I eat a diet that is low in sodium, I exercise regularly, and stay well hydrated. My resting heart rate in in the mid 50's and my blood pressure is the envy of people half my age. Could I be this healthy and be vegetarian? Probably. Could I lift weights three times a week, run, and play Judo on a low protein vegetarian diet. Probably not, or at least not without a radical overhaul of my daily eating habits. I guess the point I'm trying to make, and the point I try to make to all the Vegivores out there is that their lifestyle is not my lifestyle, and in fact is not a desirable lifestyle for the bulk of America, and certainly not a desirable diet for anyone who want's to maintain a significant muscle mass.


I would suggest two books as required reading for every Carnivore, Omnivore or Vegivore.

1) The Omnivores Dilemma.

2) In Defense of Food.

Both are simply amazing guides on the how, the why, and the what of food. How food is marketed, what foods we should eat and shouldn't eat and why we need those foods. Neither are fad diets, and both present a radically simple view of food in America and how we as human beings should be eating.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Meet Me Behind the Playground!!!

I seem to have gotten myself in a bit of trouble.

Nothing much, and certainly nothing I can't handle. It's just annoying.

Let me explain. A new brown belt showed up at my Judo club a little while back and from day one I wasn't a big fan of him. I'd say it was nothing personal but I'm trying to not lie. His demeanor simply grates on me, he's passive aggressive, and comes off as a bully. He seems to feel that his belt should earn him immediate respect, and all below him in rank should do as he says. Fine, I don't necessarily object with that sentiment but I do object to his methods. If you believe that younger belts should mop the mats at the start of class fine, yet it has to be consistent, the message has to come from all the high ranking members and you can't simply hand a kid a mop and expect he's going to know what to do with it. Most young kids have never handled a mop in their life, and forcing them into it certainly won't make them take any pride in the job they are doing and the result is simple, the mats aren't clean. I watched a kid do then entire mat area, the full length of the gymnasium, and NEVER put the mop back in the bucket. It simply doesn't do any good!

Anyway, I digress. This brown belt was running his mouth, saying that in Japan new students would be the ones cleaning the dojo everyday. Which may or may not be true, I neither know nor particularly care as we are not in Japan and I came back at him and said "If were going to emulate Japan their should be more respect and less complaints from the higher ranks." This also may or may not be true, it matters not. He went off on me and said he would get me in randori. Fine, except I had no plans to randori due to my ribs still being sore. So, the end of the class arrives and I take my leave and he has the audacity to not only give me a hard time for leaving, but he calls me names and tells me to not come back on Wednesday. I certainly feel he's out of line yet I'll return Wednesday and most likely have to deal with him then. Oh well. I figure if tossing around a yellow belt makes him feel all that much better let him, no skin off my back.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Reaffirming My Hatred of My Fellow Man

My bike was stolen over the Thanksgiving holiday.

It makes me wonder that whenever I start to like people, whenever I start to believe that all man kind is in fact not made up of cheap bastards something like this happens and reminds me why I really should hate people first and ask questions later.

Well, wherever the bike is, and whoever stole it I hope it brings you joy, and if I ever find you I will kill you. It will not be quick, it will not be pretty and I will enjoy every minute.


I prefer them Barbecued. Unless they are my own of course.

I seem to have done something to the ribs on the right side of my chest, specifically the long rib right above the floating ribs. I was in Judo class, grappling. I went to escape an arm bar by rolling over my opponent and as I did so something, my belt maybe, dug into my side and I felt a very sharp pain. After coming to my knees and escaping the arm bar I realized moving, standing, and even breathing hurt. A lot.

It's now Monday, five days later and it still hurts. I'm going to go to Judo tonight and hope that I don't re-injure myself. Oh well. My first semi-serious Judo injury. Yay!