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Thursday, April 27, 2017

POV

I missed my noon-time training today due to a meetings, so I went later in the day. On the way to the gym I stopped to check on one of the guys who trains with me, to make sure he was still alive mostly. While visiting with him for a moment, another co-worker (she leads of ladies training group) stopped by and said, "how come every time I check on you guys, your'e always laying on the floor?"

"Because 'CrossFit'! That's why!"

Hey, when you put out all you got and can't stand at the end, then you deserve to lay where ya fall.


Ok, no way to arrange those pics to look like I'm not broken.

Anyway, today's dog food was "Death By Clean and Jerk." (see where the laying down aka "Deadman's Pose" in Yoga comes in?)

Setting a timer to go off every minute, using a 95# Dumbbell, did:
1 Clean and Jerk the 1st minute
2 Clean and Jerks the 2nd minute
3 Clean and Jerks the 3rd minute
4 Clean and Jerks the 4th minute and so on.
I only lasted 8 rounds.
BUT that totals 36 Clean and Jerks for a whopping 3420 pounds.

You think about a lot of things down there on the floor, like how good it feels to be alive . . .

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Next Up

Bear Bait! Hoss! Grab yer packs! The mountains are calling!

Sometime next month I hope to have climbed Sassafrass Mountain (at 3,563 feet) and Table Rock Mountain (3,425). These are two of the highest peaks in a mountains chain found along the 80 mile Foothills Trail that runs along the border of North and South Carolina.


Haven't decided yet if this is going to be a two day hike (hike a section and end on the highest peaks) or do more days and shoot for the whole 80 miles. For a "cross section" map of the elevations covering the entire trail, click here (and don't forget to scroll down as the map is in two parts). 

Doing the Black Crest Trail a couple years ago, we took two days. I lost 6 pounds and was taken to the borders of my existence climbing the highest peak in NC (at 6,683 feet). This year's trip would bring us to the highest peak in SC (3,120 shorter than Mitchell), completing a significantly longer trail.

I'll be 50 this year and every part of me is saying "why not?"

But then I also know what every part of me will be saying at the end of it all. (Note to self: buy epson salts).

And I also know that every part of me will be looking for the next climb in about a week's time after my return. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Late Nite Snack


Was up late doing a little writing when I got the munchies.
Kinda looks like Millenni-ham Falcon.
Wonder if it's flown by Ham Solo . . . ?
Better go . . . before it gets Chewy. 

I crack me up. 

Living With Adjustments

M. Scott Peck in the 1978 book that made him famous, The Road Less Traveled describes (in so many words) life as terrain, so we need a “map”. Immediately one ruffles through the mental index, checking all the metaphors used to describe life: strange; a dream; a seed; a river; a box of chocolates; a mountain railway; a highway; a journey; a beautiful ride; a cereal, and so forth.

Solomon Rabinovich (better known as Sholem Aleichem, author of “Fiddler On The Roof”, a beautifully tragic portrayal of life in it’s own way) is credited with saying that, “Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.” So what is life? Peck assumes that life is territory to be explored and in order to find our way, we need a kind of representation, a chart that reveals the arrangement of the area, or what he calls, a “route to reality.”

Peck holds that we are born without maps so we must make them and the more effort dedicated to its formation, the more one is able to appreciate reality. Map-making has changed over time, which means gone are the days when men either recorded where they’ve been or were able to chart the course that lay ahead from the high points. It’s difficult to chart a course if one cannot see where he is going. Accuracy is required for map to work properly, so maps require revision.

Peck redefines “transference,” as “that set of ways of perceiving and responding to the world which is developed in childhood and which is usually entirely appropriate to the childhood environment . . . but which is in appropriately transferred into the adult environment.”

Perhaps an illustration will help. A scene in the movie “Hook,” shows the adult Peter Pan (Peter Banning) in a moment of retreat from Captain Hook saying, “I remember you being a lot bigger” and Hook replies, “to a 10 year-old, I’m huge.” Presuppositions must constantly change until they are in line with reality and perception has much to do with that. The difficulty for us is that the world is constantly changing. Our world has been flattened by technology. A friend recently commented how he is able to stay at home and virtually scuba dive a reef half-way around the world. How are we to update our “maps” so we are able to navigate this terrain called life?


Self-discipline and truth are important to Peck, for in these one is able to alter the map and in turn, make adjustment to perceived reality. Let’s try an experiment: take out a flat world map and look it over. Notice the country size. As many times as you’ve looked at a map, you’ve may never have known how inaccurate that map is compared to reality. Greenland, for example might be appear huge on your map in contrast to Japan. But if you put them side by side as they exist in reality, Japan is almost exactly the same length as Greenland. Take a look at Russia then notice how small China appears. In actual size, China overlaps Russia. Which is bigger: Canada or Australia? Did you know that Brazil is larger than Alaska? Reality never changes. Something's wrong with the map (we stretch the poles).

The inescapable component of change is pain, discomfort. Felt a little weird to do that experiment, didn't it? It doesn’t hurt to change your mind, but there are times when a challenged presupposition can feel like a train wreck. One must be committed to truth or face great harm in the grind of reality. And there’s the rub: we don’t like pain. Pain hurts. And if change brings us pain, then we tend to avoid the hurt of that change. The result is that our perception and our interaction with reality becomes skewed. Peck would say that we are navigating the terrain of life with an inaccurate map, lying to ourselves.

Socrates, under the sentence of death said, “ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ (“the unexamined life is no life for a man”). One must be open to change, to make the necessary adjustments or he will be broken on life’s hard places.

The problem with Peck’s premise is he assumes we make the map as we go. If that’s the case, then how do we know the way? How do we make a map we are to follow? Our maps only record where we’ve been--and Peck does not simply mean learn from your mistakes. “Transference happens” if you want to put it that way. 

Peck’s book begins with the statement that life is hard. And it’s true. Life is just plain hard. The easy part's behind you. Someone said that, "fife ain’t always beautiful, but it is a beautiful ride." Decisions must be made. That’s what happens at the twists and turns, decisions. Fork in the road? Decision. You think you’re on your way, and suddenly there’s a dead end. But it’s not a dead end. It’s an obstacle to get over, or go around. The journey isn’t over. Life goes on. 

Don’t ever get tired of walking. Keep going and as you go, make adjustments. Let the truth do its work. But as you're going, note where you've been. And share the wisdom with someone. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Remembering Shakespeare

401 years ago, the greatest writer of all time died. It goes without saying how marvelously his work thrives still today. Here's a list of 10 movies that you didn't know were based (or loosely based) on his work. So like him or not, you've seen Shakespeare (more or less). Who remembers #7, at the 3:50 mark?



Number 4 is one of my favorites.

I think it's only fitting as we recognize the longevity of this incredible writer that we take a few minutes to consider what's changed over the years, particularly regarding the speech, the accents and language of Shakespeare's time.



Lastly, as thou hast tarrie'd so long,
let us relish here the high exposition
a duet, a ditty, a rolicking song
 of  "Who Doth Inhabit The Primary Position,"
(as played in the original Elizabethan):

Friday, April 21, 2017

50 Years!

It was 50 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper put the mic's away.

That's right! 50 years ago today, the Beatles wrapped up recording what is perhaps one of the greatest albums of all time by putting the finishing touches on "A Day In The Life."

I hear through the internet(s) that a 50 year anniversary re-issue of the album is planned for May 26.

That would be awesome.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Best Mash-up Of All Time, Ever

I like The Who and I like Johnny Cash (who doesn't?) but this guy likes both more than anyone I think. Just . . . amazing. 


Who'd-a-thunk? 
Well, this guy, apparently. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Peace For The Marathon Boy

Today was the Boston Marathon. Congratulations to the winner.

But do you remember Martin? He was 8 years old when he died at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 when two bombs exploded. Martin was one of three who died that day. 264 others were injured.

A marathon is a long race and it is said that the first "marathon" was run by a Greek soldier who ran to Athens with the news that Greeks had defeated the Persians at The Battle Of Marathon. It was a race to bring good news. An "evangelion," that is, "good news," of sorts.

In the video below you'll note that Martin had a message. There's a picture of Martin holding a blue sign that says, "No more hurting people. Peace." Martin believed in peace and he seemed to be vocal about it. That's about all I know about Martin, that he stood for peace.

There's a personal thought here though: I'm a father and a grandfather with thoughts and feelings that only a father can have for his children. The kinds of things that Martin's father must have had for his son. There are so many ways a father can lose a child, a son or daughter--and losing a child hurts. Especially when children make choices that are not the best. When a child chooses to make better choices, then a father's heart races. But you know what? I'll always love my sons and daughters, no matter what. Even to my own hurt. I pray peace on my kids.

One of my favorite bands recorded this beautiful piece in memory of Martin, The Marathon Boy. I hope his message of peace resonates with you as you listen.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tolkien Got It Right



And a little glimpse of what Heaven:

Friday, April 14, 2017

"On Keeping A Notebook" by Joan Didion

I'm nearly finished reading Joan Didion's collection of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. The book was discovered through another book I was reading, Jon Krakauer's Eiger Dreams. If Jon felt this book was good enough to pack along on a mountain climbing expedition, then I'm interested. Took me three tries, but I finally found my copy on Amazon. One of the best book buys I've made.

Joan selected the title of this book from William Butler Yeats' classic poem, Second Coming. The book title is shared with one of her larger essays, a record of encounters with people in the 1960's drug culture. Didion's book is divided into three distinct parts: "Life Styles In The Golden Land," a collection of articles capturing the California experience of the 1960's; "Personals," a few of essays of the first-hand nature; and "Seven Places Of The Mind", some thoughts about those parts of California that are now long gone.

One essay found in the second part made me dive for a highlighter. Her words resonate with me in, "On Keeping A Notebook." Here she thinks out loud about the reasons why one maintains a journal--causing me to re-think and even appreciate more deeply on what keeping a notebook is all about.

************

"Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. . . . 

 . . . Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss. . . .

[T]he point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking. That would be a different impulse entirely, an instinct for reality which I sometimes envy but do not possess. At no point have I ever been able successfully to keep a diary; my approach to daily life ranges from the grossly negligent to the merely absent, and on those few occasions when I have tried dutifully to record a day’s events, boredom has so overcome me that the results are mysterious at best. . . .

How it felt to me: that is getting closer to the truth about a notebook. . . See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do, which is write — on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there . . . I imagine, in other words, that the notebook is about other people. But of course it is not. I have no real business with what one stranger said to another . . . 

It is a difficult point to admit. We are brought up in the ethic that 10 others, any others, all others, are by definition more interesting than ourselves; taught to be diffident, just this side of self-effacing . . .  . our notebooks give us away, for however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable “I.” We are not talking here about the kind of notebook that is patently for public consumption . . . we are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its maker. And sometimes even the maker has difficulty with the meaning. . . .

It all comes back. Perhaps it is difficult to see the value in having one’s self back in that kind of mood, but I do see it; I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be . . .

It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about. And we are all on our own when it comes to keeping those lines open to ourselves: your notebook will never help me, nor mine you. . . ."

Read the full essay here.

I think next I'll read her essay, "Why I Write."


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Elements of Suspense



In this Open Culture post, "Lessons From The Screenplay" creator Michael Tucker explores "the nature and tensions of suspense." Click through to: How Quentin Tarantino Creates Suspense in His Favorite Scene, the Tension-Filled Opening Moments of Inglourious Basterds. (spoiler alert)


It doesn't matter if you like Tarantino or not--the truth remains that we are captivated by suspense. Spend the next 15 minutes in this "master class" to better understand the mechanism behind those spell-binding, nail-biting scenes that keep us coming back for more. 

Genius. Pure genius. 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

A Wiser Man

τούτου μὲν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐγὼ σοφώτερός εἰμι· κινδυνεύει μὲν γὰρ ἡμῶν οὐδέτερος οὐδὲν καλὸν κἀγαθὸν εἰδέναι, ἀλλ᾽ οὗτος μὲν οἴεταί τι εἰδέναι οὐκ εἰδώς, ἐγὼ δέ, ὥσπερ οὖν οὐκ οἶδα, οὐδὲ οἴομαι· ἔοικα γοῦν τούτου γε σμικρῷ τινι αὐτῷ τούτῳ σοφώτερος εἶναι, ὅτι ἃ μὴ οἶδα οὐδὲ οἴομαι εἰδέναι.

“I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.” (Plato’s, "Apology”)

My world is mostly academic. Five years of study has gained both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree and the last 17 years has been filled by my continued employment at a University. We have educated all our children at home and though this is the graduating year for our youngest from High School, this has also been my wife’s freshman year in college. Someone’s either reading or writing or surfing Netflix and YouTube for something educational (and the occasional brainless activity of just watching for entertainment). Regardless, seems there’s a boatload of knowledge around the house. As I reflect on what I’ve learned, the subjects I’ve taught, the papers I’ve written--while considering my bookshelves, notebooks, the near-to-bursting filing cabinets and the unfathomable collection of electronic resources I’ve collected, I’ve come to appreciate the Socratic paradox just a little more, “I know that I know nothing.”

A number of years ago I met a man who set about disposing through various means a room full of books. I stood looking over boxes and boxes of books wondering not how a fellow could have collected so much and wondering what it was that moved the same man to part with the same collection. Asking him about his change of heart, I recall how he looked at me with a hint of visible sadness and said, “I just don’t need them any more.” Needless to say that he blessed me with no small number of his books, but now I’ve found myself nearly in the same position. A point of saturation, as it were. I myself have let a number of books go, but not without some serious soul-searching. I’ve collected with a purpose and that is to leave a legacy (of sorts) of knowledge.

Then there’s that paradox again. What do I know? Of all my learning, teaching, what do I know? “I know that I know nothing.” I find a kind of liberation with the thought in that, while it is impossible to retain much of anything in this addled brain on a daily basis, I cannot hold everything else that makes this person “educated.” It’s fascinating to think that one has been exposed to so much information, but at the end of the day, what does one know? It’s best to say, “I know nothing.” And there’s the beauty. I am liberated to be a lifelong learner. This is where Socrates was leading with the thought--while others considered him to be wise, he considered himself to be a lifelong learner.

What got me thinking of all this was a book I’m presently reading, A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar. This is a well researched and painfully documented biography of Nobel Prize Winner John Nash. As a young man rising through the ranks of Princeton and other schools of learning, I found a connection with Nash (though certainly no genius as Nash) in that desire to “own” what is learned. Nash’s learning style was much different than the average student. He was so far ahead of everyone that he felt it a waste of time to attend lectures and instead sought the information he needed by dialogue and personal research. Professors recall being approached by Nash with outcomes already discovered by others--what makes that important is that he was guided by curiosity and found his way to conclusions on his own. There were no “shortcuts” for him--nobody told him the answers were there. He just chased his questions until he found the answers--and in many cases, found answers when others were not aware there were question.

The connection for me was my own desire to know and how I set off on unguided research projects until I found an answer that seemed satisfactory. While first pursuing music education right out of high school in my first attempt at college, I spent untold hours exploring astrophysics and various aspects of religion. Later, upon returning to school I delved deep into theology, philosophy and an comprehensive exposure to variations of worldview. My study in biology even provided an opportunity to perform an actual surgery on a cat (from anesthesia to stitches in the end--yes, she lived). Even in the breaks during my formal education I could not help but pursue a research topic or three now that I was equipped to write academically. I just had to know!

Again, I’m making no declaration that I am any genius level--I just recognized that desire to learn. The older I get, the more I realize I know so very little and, I’ll be honest, tend to forget that I’m hungry for more. Yes, like my friend from years ago have run into the danger of not needing my books anymore . . . but reading of Nash reminded me of two very important truths: that life is for the living, and that in living, one should never stop learning for in a lifestyle of always learning, one is wise.

The Biggest Challenge Yet

"After the April 9, 1942, U.S. surrender of the Bataan Peninsula on the main Philippine island of Luzon to the Japanese during World War II (1939-45), the approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops on Bataan were forced to make an arduous 65-mile march to prison camps. The marchers made the trek in intense heat and were subjected to harsh treatment by Japanese guards. Thousands perished in what became known as the Bataan Death March." (History.com)

Every year, the march is remembered in a high desert memorial event held in White Sands, New Mexico honoring our soldiers who defended our country in the Philippines during World War II. The standard courses is marathon length (26 miles) and may be completed with or without a 35 pound ruck by military personnel and civilians. This year marks the 75 year anniversary of the event and was attended by survivors of the ordeal.



Here in South Carolina, I've participated in two memorial runs honoring fallen soldiers as well as runs remembering those who lost their lives on 9/11. My fitness regimen includes "Hero WODs" which are workouts designed to remember those who gave their lives fighting for our freedoms. "Murph" is coming up this Memorial Day.

Completing a memorial Bataan Death March at White Sands would be an incredible experience and perhaps my biggest challenge yet. Climbing the highest peak on the Eastern seaboard (Mt. Mitchell, NC) was extreme in its own right, but a trek in the high desert with a mind to remember men who endured such brutality in fighting for our country--these men deserve to be remembered.

This event is on my "list."
Not sure I would call it my "bucket list"--not exactly a "wish list" either, but it's on a list. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

That's A Lot Of Burgers!

Since I've started using Endomondo as my tracker (some training sessions didn't get logged--a friend of mine says, "they never happened"--some friend, huh?) here's what I've accomplished so far:


I like the "trips around the world" and "trips to the Moon" calculator. 
I'm on my way! 

Nearly 1000 miles on foot! Imagine how far we travel without trackers! Can't get nowhere sittin' on the couch--get out there and play hard!

Monday, April 03, 2017

"If you know what you want...

... it's easy to tune out the noise." (Annie Mist Thorisdottir)



When Thor's daughter speaks, one should listen!

This is one of my CrossFit heroes. Sure she warms up with my max loads, but that's not what inspires me. That terrifies me, actually.

What inspires me is that smile at the end of a WOD. An elite athlete who performs with a disarming ferocity, she's a beast--but what makes her smile is that she gets what she wants. She finishes.

There's a laser-beam focus to finish well as she moves through the paces and it's in that focus that she's tuned out the noise. The beat of her own drum drowns out everything else. Keeping her "eye on the prize" as it were. Makes all the difference in the world in anything you do--shutting out the noise. Noise can be deafening, so know what you want and get louder than the noise!

Enjoyed a nice WOD today and had reason to smile myself. Started with 4x5 of Back Squats (95#, ending with 150#) then went into this wonderful little dance:

4 minutes as many rounds possible (AMRAP) of:
7 Clean and Jerk (95#)
70 Single Jump rope
2 minutes rest

4 minutes AMRAP of:
7 Power Clean (115#)
70 Singles
2 min. rest

4 Min AMRAP of:
7 Deadlift (205#--was supposed to be 185, but I can't count)
70 singles

Finished two full rounds of the first set, nearly finished two rounds of Power Cleans plus 40 Singles of the second and finished out 1 solid round plus 5 DL of the last.

And I was still standing at the end.

Tune out the noise and go for it--even if you have to call in a teammate to root you on--but finish! Sometimes we need a drill sergeant.

Play hard!
And Smile!




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