Monday, May 30, 2011

Swaths of Hot Fuzzy Fleece - My Kettlebell Fashion Statement

  Remember when I mentioned that yoga seminar? Well, there's going to be a kettlebell seminar too. Coming up in a few weeks. I'm very excited. I've been doing kettlebell for several months now. I've definately seen improvements in my strength, muscle definition and endurance since I started. It will be great to see how much of this I'm actually doing correctly and how much I'm not. It will be great to hear from someone who really knows what he's doing.

Actually though, I think I'm doing pretty good. I've spent a fair amount of time researching this stuff and have a pretty good idea of when I'm moving my body in a way that's dangerous to my joints and muscles - and so far so good. No major injuries and very few minor ones other than bruising during the learning phase. And some of that has been countered by knowing when to wear my arm guards.

I have three kettlebells - a 20lb, a 25lb and a 35lb. The 25lb is a different brand than the other two - some generic knock-off of a 'real' brand. I can't do anything with that one without major bruising. The shape, for whatever reason, sits just off and immediately bruises my arm. I don't even get a warning shot. If I do one clean with it without my pads, instant bruise. And it's kinda rough besides. Not so much that it tears up my hands, but it's not nice and smooth like the Cap brand which I highly recommend.

So, I have this nice, fashionable length of soft fleecy cloth that I wrap around my wrists when I use that particular bell. It works great! An inch of soft, fuzzy, fleecy padding works much better than child soccer shin guards (which I tried) and better than knee pads and socks (which I tried). So, despite looking like a complete dork, I continue to wrap myself in thick swaths of hot, fuzzy fleece.

But, back to the seminar. It should be fun. A friend of mine is even coming along to the seminar with me. She's getting into kettlebell too and wants to learn more. It should be a great time. If you want to come along, let me know! The more the merrier!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Sharp Fork, Many Fingers, A Few Toes and Some Grunting

  Hmmm. Chocolate chip cookie cups filled with ice cream. Sounds delicious doesn't it? And they looked really good too. (I should have gotten a picture. It would have made you drool.)

I pressed some chocolate chip cookie dough into some muffin tins and baked them. Unfortunately, the dough ended up filling in the cup rather than clinging nicely to the edges. Not what I wanted! So I took them out of the oven and scooped out the guts middle and put them back in the oven. It worked, but in order to get them cooked all the way through, they ended up a tad overcooked on the edges. Not burned, but a little harder and a little more brown than I had in mind. But they came out of the muffin tins beautifully and with a nicely rounded scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of hot fudge sauce they were a sight to behold!

The bad news is that eating them presented a challenge. The cookie, although delicious, was pretty hard. Cutting it involved not only a nice sharp fork, but many fingers, a few toes and some grunting. The good news is that I'll have to experiment some more to get it just right. Maybe the cookie dough needs to be thinner. Maybe I should make nice big flat cookies and while they are still soft from the oven, shape them into cups. Maybe I should should make ice cream sandwiches out of chocolate chip bars or cookies. So many possibilities! So much experimenting to do!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yoga Makes Me Tense and Ready to Spring Into Action

  I went to a yoga seminar the other day. I've always had some interest in yoga, but have never really done any (other than the few yoga exercises that come with Wii Fit, or the few I've picked up from various fitness magazines, and that hardly counts). I own at least two books on yoga and a couple of DVDs. I'd like to say they are awesome, but honestly, I haven't finished reading, or watching, any of them. For whatever reason yoga just doesn't hold my interest despite the fact that I find it interesting. I think it's too calm, too slow, too relaxation-oriented. Not that it's not difficult or challenging, it just does it in a more meditative way than I can wrap my head around right now.

Of course, a little bit of relaxation might be good. I mean, I don't sit and relax. I'm always doing something. Whether it's my job, or karate, or kettlebell, or artsy, craftsy, beading, sharpie-ing, web site design/development, cleaning, baking, roller blading, biking, playing . . . I don't have time for sitting and relaxing. On those rare occasions when I do find myself on the couch in front of the TV, it's guaranteed that I'm also reading, drawing, catching up on email, crafting or doing something otherwise engaging.

So, you would think that yoga might be a good fit. I could (sort-of) relax and work-out at the same time, right?

Well, back to this yoga seminar. It was an intro to yoga - a one-hour seminar to give you the feel of what the yoga classes will be like (which I won't be taking even if I wanted to because they are during the day when I'm at work)

The seminar was great - it really was. The instructor was good - really knowledgable and certainly fit. And the workout was awesome. It was challenging yet fun. I did pretty well I thought. At least I didn't make a fool of myself and I'm pretty fit and flexible so I didn't have a lot of difficulty. There were certainly challenges and I did have a few sore spots the following day. I can see where I could really enjoy it.

But when it came to the end of the class, and we were lying on the floor, all collapsed, relaxed and breathing deeply, and we had been for a minute or two, the instructor said, "You should be relaxed and calm," or something to that effect and I realized that all my muscles were tense, that I had missed the point somewhere. I mean, I was like a board. I was lying there, looking relaxed, but my legs and backside were tight, my arms were stiff. Not at all yoga-relaxed. I was breathing deeply, but not listening to any inner voices or listening to birds chirp and sun shine and wafting breezes. I was peering out through my half lidded eyes thinking, "WTF! Can we get up now? How long are we going to lie here? Can I get up yet? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I get up? Every muscles was tensed and ready to spring into action - ready for my next activity. Let's go roller-blading! Let's go shopping! Let's do something! Anything! I can't lie here any more! Aaaaah!

So yes, I think I may have missed a core point somewhere. Maybe more yoga would be helpful after all.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Diametrical Opposition on my iPod

So the other day I plugged myself into my iPod. Plumb's Blink. A nice album. Very soft. Gently tinkling-bells,
melodic female voice, soothing transitions, love and acceptance, children and flowers, kittens and raindrops. All that good stuff. Very nice.

But you know, I was sleepy. I needed something to keep me awake. Soomething other than coffee. Time for a switch. Five Finger Death Punch's War is the Answer was the answer. Banging drums, screaming, grating male voice, wailing, raging guitars, death, destruction, betrayal. Not so nice maybe, but good.

How's that for diametrical opposition? But I was better able to concentrate on my work. And that's what I needed.

What do you listen to when you need to wake up?


Friday, May 20, 2011

Kettlebell Swings Sometimes Make Me Giggle

OK, so you know that I've been working out with kettlebells lately, right? And I really enjoy it. I've also been doing a little bit of browsing at various websites and I found this site here where Lisa Shaffer did a 10,000 swing challenge - doing 10,000 kettlebell swings in a month. After reading that over I was somewhat inspired. But I'm not completely crazy! (Not that she is, but she has significantly more experience with this than I and also significantly more muscle than I.) So, I decided to do something similar on a smaller scale.

Over the first three weeks of my own personal challenge I managed to do about 3300 swings. I did 300-500 at a time, about 3-4 days a week. I skipped almost a week at one point and had to do 600 in a day to catch up! But I did it and I reached my goal. I did 5000 swings in a month!

Throughout the challenge I averaged 1/3 of the swings with the 35lb kettlebell and 2/3 with the 20lb bell. That remained the same throughout the month, but I did increase the size of my sets. I went from doing sets of 10 with the 35 bell up to sets of 25. And for the 20 pound bell I got up to sets of 50 and sometimes more before I stopped to gasp for breath. And I've been doing one-armed swings with the 20 lb bell because frankly, at this point, doing a 2 handed swing with the 20 lb bell makes me giggle. So I must be improving!

Next challenge is to try to do more than 3 one-arm swings with the 35lb bell (without hurting myself of course).

This is fun!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Cursing and Swearing and Having a Grand Ol' Time!

  So, I'm designing a web site. It's been a little over a year since I did one. I used to do that at my previous job - design web applications for the company using Lotus Notes and then later using Java on a JBoss server. I absolutely loved it! Granted I was developing corporate web applications, and not complete web sites, but much of it was the same - finding graphics, picking colors, designing layouts, setting up security, fighting over css issues due to browser differences, front-end coding and back-end coding, cursing and swearing and having a grand ol' time!

I started out my college career as a graphics arts major and sometimes I wish I never switched to business. I love the creativity involved with designing for the web - the messing with the layouts, the colors, the links and the relatively simple, but sometimes utterly frustrating code involved. It feels great to be doing this again after a year off. I've been working on it in my spare time (of which I have very little) over the last month. I've managed to get my PC set up with Java, Eclipse, Apache, PHP, Tomcat, Gimp and Filezilla (and get them all working). I've managed to remember most of what I used to know, learned the basics of PHP and learned a LOT more about Gimp (an awesome free graphics program for those who aren't willing to shell out mega bucks for Photoshop). Once this project wraps up I may have to create myself a website. If for no other reason than I really like messing with this stuff.

By the time this post is posted it should be live. Check it out and let me know what you think: Five Star Martial Arts.


Friday, May 6, 2011

How Stupid is This?

  So, we went to a book fair at the kids school the other day. Sweet Pea found one of those books aimed at young girls that asks all these silly questions like 'If you could be any food, what would you be?' (chocolate) and 'What's the grossest thing in your refrigerator?' (artichokes of course - shudder) and 'What's the best part of a sandwich?' (the peanut butter).

And then there was this question: 'If your name was just a single letter, what letter would it be?'

Well, I can't get that question out of my mind. There are so many good ones to choose from!

  • I is simple and straightforward. It doesn't make any assumptions or promises. It is what it is. And if you want to dress it up, put a dot on it. Simple. Straightforward. No-nonsense.
  • J is similar to I but with a little bit of flair. Still simple and straightforward, but with a little give, a little compromise.
  • K is somewhat off-kilter. It's not symmetrical. It's a non-conformist. It's forward facing and optimistic, but also grounded in reality.
  • M is symmetrical. It's stong. It's sexy. It makes a statement. It's got some swagger.
  • N is almost symmetrical but it's got a little slant. It's a little bit pessimistic. It likes to blend in.
  • O is nice. Symmetrical, simple, yet not plain. It has motion. It draws the eye. It's not afraid to be a little different, but in an understated sort of way.
  • U is an empty vessel - always craving knowledge, soaking up trivia, yearning to learn more. It's trustworthy and friendly.
  • V is similar to U but sticks to fewer topics. No trivia for V, only hard, fast facts. It's more rigid and unforgiving.
  • S is smooth. It's flexible and open-minded. But it's a little bit sly and slippery. I don't quite trust S.
  • And then there's Z. Z is just way out there. It's not symmetrical. It's got hard edges and points and it's got movement. It doesn't back down, but moves forward -always forward. It's on the move - a one-way track to what's to come. It's not afraid to be different. 

Oh, the possibilities are endless! Well, OK, not endless, there are 26 letters to choose from, but still - 26! And I didn't even consider lower case! Or the cyrillic, or the chinese or ancient greek alphabets. Delta Δ might be nice. Or pi. Π Oh my! I just can't choose!

So, if you could be any letter, what letter would YOU be?


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Cold Ankle

  So, the other day I mentioned the new exercise we did in karate that involved kneeling and grappling. Well, in the heat of the moment I skinned the top of my foot on the floor mats. Not a big deal, just a little bit of skin rubbed off. It happens. But it's one of those things that stings like crazy when it's wet. After my shower the other day it was burning and my jeans were rubbing across the top of it. I finally folded them up on that side a couple of inches. Then I promptly forgot that they were folded up. The rest of the day I kept hearing whispers. It went like this:

Man1: "Why does that woman have one pant leg folded up?"
Man2: "I don't know. Is it a gang thing?"
Man1: "It might be. Watch out for her."

Child1: "Mommy, look at that weird lady. Her pants aren't even."
Mom1: "Don't look dear. She obviously doesn't know how to dress herself."

Teen1: "Hey, look at that! That must be a new fashion."
Teen2: "Quick, fold up one pant leg. We don't want to look like fools. This time we won't miss out on the latest fashions."

I couldn't imagine who they were whispering about all day.

And I spent all day wondering why one ankle was cold.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Flying Around Like a Loaf of Bread

 So, in karate class the other day we did this exercise that involved facing a partner with both of us on our knees. Being the only adults in most classes I was paired with the hubster. Usually this is OK. But this particular exercise involved grasping each other's shoulder and trying to slam your partner (gently of course) down onto the mat without getting knocked over yourself. Well, the hubby outweighs me by about 50 pounds and has a year of Aikido that taught him plenty of grappling/throwing techniques. He had a huge advantage. And I knew that going in and was prepared to go flying off in all directions over and over. But let me tell you, that didn't make it any easier. After about 30 seconds I was annoyed. After 60 seconds I was slightly angry, after 90 seconds I was totally pissed off!

Then we got to switch partners. Me and Sweet Pea were paired together. It went like this:

Sweet Pea: Mommy, you look mad.
Me: Grrr! I hate this exercise.
Sweet Pea: Why?
Me: Daddy just threw me around like a loaf of bread. Over and over. Grrrrr!
Sweet Pea: Oh.
Sensei: Go!

And wheeeeee! Sweet Pea went flying across the mat. Like a loaf of bread. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

But really, I was gently on her. Despite my pissed-offedness, I was gentle. She's not bread afterall. She's my little sweet pea.

I hope we don't have to do that exercise often!