Thursday, June 29, 2017

Death March

Being refreshed with some good R&R but today's WOD was different.
Learned a new move today called the Death March.
Think: Walking Dead(lifts)

Miss my training partners, that's for sure. Plugging away at it though.
One WOD at a time.

Dumbbell Push Press x 8-10 reps (35#)
Rest 45 seconds
Death March x 20 steps (35#)
Rest 45 seconds
Side Plank x 45 seconds each side
Rest 45 seconds
10 Wall Ball Shots
10 Burpees

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fitness Accountability

Nice day out. Feels like Springtime! Planted re-started lettuce and celery this morning, then went to training in the garage, which I deep cleaned  on Monday--more room for training!

So that my training brethren know I'm not just sitting around binge watching Netflix all day (just in the evening), here's today's WOD (ok, so I'm a day behind--but I cleaned my garage--get it? "Cleaned"? It's a weight lifting joke . . . never-mind) . . .

Four sets of:
Romanian Deadlift x 6 reps (185#)
Rest 60 seconds
Single-Arm Dumbbell Press x 8 reps each (35#)
Rest 60 seconds
100-Meter Suitcase Carry + Waiter’s Carry (35#)
(hold a DB at side in suitcase carry, and another DB overhead in waiter’s carry)
Rest 60 seconds

12 Kettlebell Swings (35#)
9 Goblet Squats (35#)
6 Burpees

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 21: Cuke Harvest!

And boy are they happy!
See, just get the seeds in the ground and watch em' grow.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 19: Perspective

(ht: Open Culture)

"Matthew Might, a computer science professor at the University of Utah, writes: 'Every fall, I explain to a fresh batch of Ph.D. students what a Ph.D. is. It's hard to describe it in words. So, I use pictures.' In his Illustrated Guide to the PhD, Professor Might creates a visual narrative that puts the daunting degree into perspective. Anyone who has already pursued a Ph.D. will see the wisdom in it. (Or at least I did.) And young, aspiring academics would be wise to pay it heed."

Friday, June 16, 2017

Day 16: Garden Update--Harvest Time!

Got a late start to the garden this year but we are just now beginning to enjoy the fruits of our labor. It's hard work getting the soil turned at the start, but that's the hardest part--and once it's done, it's done! Get the seeds in the ground and the rest goes according to design.

Cukes are still taking their time as are the peppers. Saw tiny watermelons on the vine--about the size of a pill. Unmistakable dark and light stripes--they look so cool! Tomatoes are on the way. Celery is growing slow. Hoping to draw squirrels away from the tomatoes with the celery.

This nice little zucchini harvest means Italian Steak for Father's Day! Yay!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Day 15: A Father's Purpose: A Lesson In Vanity

(at least I think it's interesting)

Recently reading Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, I remembered that I had bound in one volume a copy of his works that include writings from Boston and London (1722-1726), Philadelphia (1726-1757), London (1757-1775), Paris (1776-1785), Philadelphia (1785-1790), Poor Richards Almanac (1733-1758) and of course, The Autobiography.

Link Source
As I thumbed through the volume I discovered a great disparity of difference between the Barnes and Noble version I was reading and The Library Of America publication I now held in my hands. With no comment from the editors or publishers, I found large and inexplicable omissions in the B & N text. I was disappointed. Performing some line-by-line and page-by-page comparisons, I noticed the language was lightly softened for the modern reader, but could not shake the disappointment of feeling deceived by the publisher making such changes without commentary.

As I continued by research I made another discovery that may shed light on the mystery. According to, one significant feature of this great American's Autobiography is that it was first published in French (1791). It was not until 1793 that the first English translation appeared, being translated from the French and not the original English manuscript. Another re translation back into French prepublished the book in 1798. One edition of three volumes was published in 1818 by William Temple Franklin, a grandson.

It could be that B & N published their copy from one of the editions (a revision) but the work contains no explanation and many of the omissions are glaring. Guess we'll never know.


One publishes or completes his work a certain way for his own reason. One is not always inclined to offer an explanation or reason for doing what one does. But in this case, the re-publication of a work should be true to the writer's form, purpose and intent unless the author gives permission to revise.

Franklin published his work for two reasons: the first is to provide a measure of instruction for his son, educate him a little on his heritage and legacy. The other reason is to satisfy his own vanity. "Hereby, too, I shall indulge the inclination so natural to old men, to be talking of themselves and their own past actions . . . I give [vanity] fair quarter where I meet with it, being persuaded that is often productive of good to the possessor and other others . . . " In other words, his vanity was not empty but serves the purpose instilling lasting virtue in his children, to learn from his mistakes as well as his successes.

A father is not always strong. A father is not always successful. A father is not a god and a child should never venerate his parents as such. At some point, one's offspring needs to see a human father. A weak man who struggled, got strong, persevered and then found success. A man must model both success and failure. If his vanity only serves the purpose of showcasing successes, then his successes die with him. But if his vanity gives him transparency that instills virtue in his children and in turn make his children successful, then he leaves a legacy. Selfish vanity deserves no respect.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Day 14: Will To Live

One of my favorite authors is the Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn (I made mention of him in yesterday's post). I was first exposed to his writing as a freshman in high-school and was so captivated by the imagery he conveyed that I read all three volumes of his Gulag Archipelago.

Solzhenitsyn is perhaps one of the most powerful writers of our age, though it seems that age is passing. Suddenly this truth becomes an illustration of the point that stands out to me today: the will to live. Solzhenitsyn was a fighter. He stood for he stood for truth and human dignity in the face of oppressive Communism. He personally demonstrated the will to live by withstanding years of imprisonment and persecution as well as surviving an assassination attempt by poisoning in 1971.

This short prose-poem by Solzhenitsyn is a near-perfect picture that captures the kind of indomitable spirit he displayed, a symbol of strength we are hard-pressed to find today.

"We were sawing firewood when we picked up an elm log and gave a cry of amazement. It was a full year since we had chopped down the trunk, dragged it along behind a tractor and sawn it up into logs, which we had then thrown on to barges and wagons, rolled into stacks and piled up on the ground - and yet this elm log had still not given up! A fresh green shoot had sprouted from it with a promise of a thick, leafy branch, or even a whole new elm tree.

We placed the log on the sawing-horse, as though on an executioner's block, but we could not bring ourselves to bite into it with our saw. How could we? That log cherished life as dearly as we did; indeed, its urge to live was even stronger than ours.”

("The Elm Log". Short Stories and Prose Poems. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1971. Bantam 1973)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day 13: A Day In The Life

The title by no means is unique to me or The Beatles, sorry to say. I'm of the persuasion that the hit 1967 song was inspired by the short book "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn published in 1962. But I could be wrong. A gripping book, by the way. A short read but deeply moving, full of deep, beautiful and tragic thoughts:

But I'm taking the long way 'round to this post. My intention is to give a kind of a snapshot of a typical week-day in my own life. It's a journal post, after all. 
  • 5:45 a.m. Wake up, fall out of bed, find coffee. Should be brewed and waiting.
  • 6:00 a.m. Shower, get dressed. Drag the comb across my head.
  • 6:15 a.m. Fix breakfast, get lunch together, keep waking up.
  • 7:15 a.m. Leave the house.
  • 8:00 a.m. Arrive at the University
  • 8:05 a.m. Start coffee (most mornings), eat breakfast and get all systems booted up.
  • 8:10 or :15 a.m. Start workday: e-mails, phone calls, so-forth and what-not
  • 8:30 a.m. Once a month, meetings until 11:00 a.m.
  • 11:00 a.m. (when school is in session) Chapel
  • 12:00 p.m. CrossFit in the Fitness Center (or lunch meeting, depending); shower
  • 1:00 p.m. Back in the office (generally, unless meeting carries through until mid-afternoon)
  • 1:15 p.m. Fix lunch and work 
  • 2:30-3:00 p.m.-ish Get out from behind the desk and walk around a bit.
  • 5:00 Close up "shop"
  • 6:30-ish Dinner, clean up, work outside a little, read, write, watch TV until
  • 10:30-ish Go to bed. 
Exciting, my life, eh? 

That's ok. I'm going on vacation in a couple weeks and all this won't matter. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Day 12: Poetry

The guys over at The Art of Manliness posted this collection of "20 Classic Poems Every Man Should Read."  I believe the primary reason poetry remains a timeless effective literary device in all cultures for the simple reason that many things are best said in through poetry; in other words, narrative cannot convey the depth of meaning mastered by poetry. Besides, poetry keeps a guy from getting calloused over and keeps him feeling.

I'm glad to recall how a few of these poems were introduced into my own life, even memorized at a very young age.

What follows are a few comments on a handful of personally significant poems from the list (above) along with a few choice lines.

Ulysses (Tennyson): life is for the living, so live it to the full. 

"I cannot rest from travel: I will drink life to the lees . . . 
Come, my friends,‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die."

If (Kipling): "if you can . . . you'll be a man"

Sailing to Byzantium (Yeats): grow old relentlessly pursuing what is beautiful and good. 

"An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium."

Invictus (Henley): Life is abundant with experience, which includes suffering.

"It matters not how strait the gate, 
how charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fave,
I am the captain of my soul."

Last, but not least, and perhaps more importantly of all in the list is

Ozymandius (Shelley): what remains when you're gone? What is your legacy? Which part of "you" abides forever? 


Garden Update

Quick garden update:

Zukes are coming in! Harvesting already!

Cukes are happy too!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Day 11: Franklin's List

80 days is a long time for a 20-year-old to be on a ship, especially in 1728. Few actually “went along for the ride” as mere passengers on a vessel. There was an expectation that each person accomplish a measure of work while on board at the very least; regardless, there remains plenty of time for a young man to think. This is what Benjamin Franklin did on his return trip to Philadelphia from London--he thought.

A common practice of Franklin’s time was for a man to construct a set of resolutions. The young Franklin came away from this return voyage with a short list of traits that ultimately became a list of virtues that he would practice until the age of 79, noting by his own admission that he often failed in his attempt though remained faithful to the spirit of the endeavor.

As an older man he confessed that despite his shortcomings he felt he was far more happier having tried. In other words, he did not achieve the moral perfection expected from the virtues, but he found himself to be a virtuous man. And that’s the point of finding virtue: becoming a whole person.

Here is the list of virtues Franklin developed:

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.

11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Franklin focused on one trait per week, creating a chart for himself by which he could record his progress. His goal was to not make any marks on his chart, no “black marks” against himself. Of course when he began, the number of marks were surprising even to him. But imagine his personal reward when making fewer marks!

What do I intend to do with this? How will I apply this to my own life?

I believe it would be a noble effort to try, but Franklin made this list for himself. He knew himself better than anyone and no two people are alike. For myself, perhaps the best starting point is to begin where Franklin began: with thought. With introspection. Self-examination. This brain is just too busy and I need to slow down and take inventory.

I heard someone say recently that "'thought' is a fancy word that means, 'to change one's mind' so it would be good to think--or die an idiot."  

A pond after a storm is murky, muddy. Over time, the silt settles, the water becomes clear and one can see the bottom. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Strawberry Moon

The first and only "mini-moon" of the year.

Saturn was the bright "star" just below The Ruler of the Night (not pictured) but Saturn proudly led the procession, glowing brightly in the West.

Beautiful night for observation and took a few great pictures.

You might say it was "stellar"!

Day 10: Better Man

I first met Benjamin Franklin in grade school and would you believe that, while his kite-flying-in-a-rainstorm got my attention, it was learning of his inventions that held my interest. I was too young to appreciate his contributions as a Statesman but that he gave us swim fins (attached to the hands, not the feet) made me take notice . Being the proud owner of bifocals (now trifocals) in more recent years keeps me mindful of what happens when a man sits down to think and in turn, makes a contribution that helps many.

On that note, permit me to be clear that Franklin did NOT invent electricity. He developed the lightening rod (among other things). This is like saying that Franklin invented the Gulf Stream--which he only mapped. Review his inventions and see how he harnessed nature. He did not invent nature.

Given the course of the series so far this month, I am revisiting Franklin's Autobiography paying careful attention to his exploration of virtue and moral perfection, noting how a big man from a little town (1706 Boston was still the Massachusetts Bay Colony) could admit his shortcomings and learn from them to be a better man.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Garden Update

Zukes and Cukes are climbing, Melons creeping along the ground.
All plants blossomed and a harvest is not long in coming.
Bell Peppers are taking their sweet time.

Enjoying cooler temps this last week with rain nearly every night.

I sprinkle crushed eggshells at the base of the plants to deter soft-bellied creepers (they don't like the sharp edges). Also, mix diamotaceous earth with water to spray on the plant to deter other bugs. The mixture sticks like glue and doesn't come off easily once it dries on the plant.

Day 8: Work

When I look back through my work experience, I am intrigued at how my work history forms a kind of “ramp” into what I do now. For the most part, I’ve always worked alone or had positions in companies that permitted me to work alone. I recall how when interviewing for my job here at the University, my supervisor (who now serves as Dean and to this day, remains my supervisor) asked, “are you able to work alone?” To which I was able to reply with a resounding “Yes!”
My work history began (I think) with doing little jobs around the office when visiting my mom or dad at their work. You know, “busy work” given to kids to keep them out of the way, mostly. Like tearing off the perforated edges from the paper that was roller fed through dot-matrix printers. Remember that “continuous feed” paper that came in large boxes? After that I sometimes traveled with my dad on day-trips. But that was all before I could legally work.

My first job in Junior High School was working for our neighborhood’s HOA. Sure, I mowed my share of lawns for hire, but I was the kid responsible to keep the roadsides clean of trash on the one-mile-and-some-change long stretch that entered our neighborhood (I just looked a Google Maps and could not recognize the place. Holy cow!). After baseball games, the ditches were horrible!

After moving to New Mexico, I went to work for my dad after school and on Saturdays at the Welding Supply store. Stocking shelves, sweeping, mopping, loading and unloading trucks. I am confident that one particular task I performed instilled in me the sense of order in which I like to keep things: I had to collect all the weekly sales invoices and put them in numerical order. Sounds mind-numbing and perhaps it was, but I like order :-)

I worked for K-mart for a short while--never understood why they made stockroom people wear a tie back in those days. It was hot and dirty. Loading and unloading, moving inventory in slacks and a tie just never clicked with me.

Worked a few years selling precious and base metals as well as semi-precious stones to Native American craftsmen then moved to Georgia where I held a part-time position in the Physical Plant at the college I attended while also working part-time in area churches as worship leader or youth pastor.

After moving to South Carolina, finding a job was tough but I finally found work through a temp agency that opened the door to longer jobs at Blue Cross, Blue Shield then remodeled a local Sears store. They eventually hired me (a man died and a position was open they needed filled) and I stayed a few years until I quit and went to work at a HAZMAT company--the worst job of my life. The hours were great and the overtime was amazing--but the work itself was out of balance. They put too much on one person at a time! Nearly worked myself to death.

Then in 2001, I filled out an application for a position here at Columbia International University and have been here ever since! While here, I’ve done other part-time work either teaching as an adjunct or in serving in local churches.

So that's my work history--more or less. 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Day 7: More On "Journaling"

I was recently reminded how a few great authors honed their writing skills by copying letter for letter, word for word, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, and sometimes entire books written by authors they admired. A handful have reproduced for themselves the classic Don Quixote, for example. Actor Johnny Depp reports how Hunter S. Thompson copied Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby more than once, so he could get in touch with what a masterpiece felt like. Thompson also reproduced Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms to find the the experience of writing like a great author.

When a teenager, I sat and copied by candlelight entire passages and Sonnets of Shakespeare onto parchment with a nib and ink for the same reason--to experience the production of something great by my own hand, learning to write like a master. The same is true also when I play Bach’s Cello Suites.
photo credit:
My writing is hardly masterful, but I love to write. For many years, I’ve kept a journal as evidenced by the piles found in cabinets and drawers around the house. My problem is that I’m never really sure what to do with them once I’ve written. I never go back and read what I’ve written. So why do it? Why write?

Joan Didion published her reasons for writing, echoing George Orwell’s theme through her short essay, “Why I Write.” Good or bad, one arranges words in order to hear what one thinks--some things sound better (or worse) “out loud.” For Didion, writing was her way to explore the pictures in her mind. But who does one write for? Does it matter? Must everything be published? Not really.

A case might be made that a diary is for personal use while a journal is intended for publication; however, in practice, the case might also be made that there is no distinguishing between the two except for the purposes determined or designed by the writer. A journal may be intensely personal, where the author wrestles “out loud” over issues, makes resolutions, works out a plan. A diary may merely be the record of days, “what” happened “when” and “where.” For some, writing can be an intensely spiritual exercise.

The beginning of this series introduced Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin’s exploration into virtue; that is, living as a holistic man. A common practice of their day was to not only make resolutions but to also keep a written record of events, some personal and others professional. David Brainerd, a New Englander close to Edwards kept a journal but his intent was to publish his writing. Edwards used his journal for personal examination. Interestingly, those who seek publication would not not have readily done so without the aid (directly or indirectly) of Franklin, who kept personal records of his own--not including his autobiography.

In conclusion, writing comes with ease the more one tries. Even if you copy to get the feel. Accept the challenge to fill a page with what’s on your mind. Should the subject changes as you write, don't stop. Just keep going and watch what happens.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Day 6: An Imperfect Goodbye In A Beautiful World

I didn’t get to say goodbye.

Actually, that’s not true. I did say goodbye.

It was one of those goodbye’s I'd rather forget.

But I can’t.

So I’m stuck with the less-than-memorable goodbye because now she’s gone for good.

She’s been gone for a couple years now and I’ll never forget her. Just wished I could have said "goodbye."

Her high school picture sits front and center on my desk, her youthful black and white Mona Lisa smile cast dreamily off-camera. She always had that far-away look in her eye, like something "over there" always had her attention.

Around the house are mementos that are unique for these are not mementos of her per se, but pictures by her. In turn do they become mementos of her. 

See, she was an artist and her large paintings on the wall or the small water colors on the table are the way she saw the world. Looking at those paintings is to see what she saw, so we look through her eyes. Those canvases and boards hold the work of her hands: the colors she mixed, the strokes and sweeps that bring the sea, the ships, the spray, the sun into the hallway. Her dabs and lines let everyone know of the day she saw the grass, the flowers, the watering can, the ceramic pot. The spray of pink and blue and yellow flowers . . . 

Every time I see a painting, it’s like being inside her head. It’s seeing what made her happy. Even when her days were dark and she was, shall we say, "gone"--the pencils, the watercolors captured what she could not see--those scenes remained in her spirit. Her happy places on paper. Each one signed on the bottom right-hand corner with her nom de plume.

When I last saw her, the occasion was not so happy. Our final hug was just that . . . final. I don't remember if I kissed her. I just remember that I was tired and she was tired and we had reached the end of ourselves.

She was going one way and we were going another and it hurt. We tried to take care of her, to make up for the lost years and weeks and days and hours. We tried--but she was somewhere else and the connection was just gone. And it hurt.

It hurt because I didn’t get to see her off when she left the world she brought me into.

All I can do is look at her paintings and find her in the way she saw the world and know that she understood what was beautiful. I feel like I’m just now understanding her more than I ever have.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Graduation, 2017. Congratulations, Son!

Day 5: Six Words

Permit me to explain: as part of my blog series this month, today’s challenge is to write the story of my life in six words. As one’s life story assumes the end of one’s life just as it assumes it’s beginning, my story is not yet over so what can I say? I can only say what is most important, obviously.
  • I have to think of everything I wanted to be and what I’m doing now.
  • I have to think of who I wanted to be and who I am now. 
  • I have to think of all the expectations I had in younger years and take into account what’s changed (location, career, family, etc.).
  • I have to think of what may or may not happen in the future.
Six words.
So much to think about and so little time.
Like life--so little time.
Life is so short.
So what can I say?

The best narrative I can find that tells the story of my life comes down to these six words:

“I’ll Be Found In The End”

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Day 4: Define Values, Nurture Virtues

Commander Mark Divine (U.S. Navy SEALs, Retired) in his book The Way Of The Seal leads the reader to consider the question, "What do I want most out of life?" The answer to that question is the starting point for the lifelong learner to discover one's values and in turn begin to nurture those values into virtues.

If one is committed to personal growth and seeks to reap a bountiful harvest as the result of that growth, then one must gain strength holistically; that is, through balancing the physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and spiritual areas of his being. Identifying one's values not only helps one answer the question, "why am I here?" but also helps a person on their journey to being whole.

Commander Divine suggests that one identify five values to move toward, and five "toxins" to move away from. This is not a new idea but a reiteration of a very ancient teaching encouraging one to "put off the old" and "put on the new." It is impossible to merely cease one habit without replacing it with another. For example:
  • Instead of lying, story-telling, fact twisting or embellishing, simply tell the truth simply;
  • If one struggles with anger, don't let matters simmer overnight;
  • Instead of using your hands to take from others, go to work for what you need and share any excess you gain by your work so somebody else is not tempted to steal;
  • Use your mouth to build others up, not tear them down; 
  • Stop being bitter, angry, holding grudges, nurturing rage, being annoying, yelling at others and instead always be humble and kind, tender, giving no place to hate, be compassionate, gentle, stay calm, be forgiving, quiet.  
  • Treat people as persons, not as objects who exist for your gratification in any sense of the word.
  • Fight for peace.
A virtuous man (or woman) will be hard after what is good not only for himself or herself but for the good of others.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Day 3: Congratulations, Young Man!

Today we graduate our youngest from High School so to you we say, "Congratulations, Young Man!" We are excited for all your accomplishments.

Our Dedication for your Graduation (read before receiving his diploma): 

"It is said that, 'Great men are like eagles, and build their nest on some lofty solitude.' William, you are well on your way to being a great man. Your inner strength is evident as you soar in every good thing you set your heart and mind to do. We give you the blessing to go even higher."

This is a milestone day in all our lives because we all did this, together. Though he's the last one to graduate from High School, he was preceded by his siblings. Young women and another younger (but older) man who are making their way through life, convinced of what they know yet still trying to figure it all out.
You are all doing the best you can--or at least you should be.

You know who you are.

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