Happy Halloween

I’ll keep this short and sweet. Have a safe and happy Halloween. Dress to the nines, hand out candy, worship the Dark Lord of the Night, whatever floats your goat. Go out and have a little fun and don’t worry about what people think of you.

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Happy Halloween and Don’t Hate Me

Our Kenpo instructor opened class on Thursday with an odd statement. A cup of butter has over 1600 calories in it. My immediate thought was I’d better stop drinking a couple cups of melted butter in the morning, but it went further than that and ultimately digressed into a discussion of how many burpees it would take to work off one small piece of Halloween candy.

For those unfamiliar with the dreaded burpee, this is what it looks like. It’s a squat jump, a mountain climber, and a push up all rolled into one thing.

They’re just as uncomfortable as they look like, but they’re a damned good workout that I largely eschew because reasons.

We didn’t get a final count in class, so I took it upon myself to do a bit of research and what I found may shock you. First up, a single piece of candy, like one of those small Snickers bars you give out on Halloween, has about 100 calories. That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up quickly.

Now, there’s no exact measurement of how many calories a single burpee burns because it’s somewhat dependent on weight and athletic prowess. Studies have show that a 125 person doing 30 minutes of vigorous calisthenic similar to burpees exercise can burn about 240 calories. The larger the person, the more calories burned in the same time frame with 185 pound person burning off upwards of 355 calories in the same time frame. I’ll go with the larger number and assume a single burpee takes a few seconds to complete. That means 20 burpees in a minute and 600 in a 30 minute stretch. That means a small person would need to do about 12 minutes of burpees to burn off 100 calories and a larger person would need to do around 8 minutes. So, to burn off a 1.25 small Snickers bars, you’re looking at between 160 and 240 burpees. Per tiny candy bar.

Of course, there are other exercises out there that are a bit easier on the body.

  • Weightlifting: 112
  • Walking: 186
  • Yoga/Stretching: 149
  • Stair Stepper: 223
  • Swimming: 223
  • Cycling: 260
  • Rock Climbing: 298
  • Rowing: 316
  • Elliptical: 335
  • Running (6 mph): 372

These numbers came from here, by the way. If you can’t trust the LiveStrong group, who can you trust?

So, why bring all this up? No real reason. Enjoy Halloween, enjoy the candy, dress up and scare kids. It’s once a year and it’s supposed to be fun. You can always do more burpees tomorrow. Or ride a little further, or hit a little harder.

And now, because it’s almost Halloween and I’m current writing a book about a woman who gets killed in the first few pages, enjoy a ghost.

Information Density

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I had an epiphany the other night.

My son and I were early for Kenpo class and took a bit of time to practice a few things on the empty secondary deck. He hasn’t gotten into any fights, but as he gets older he’s seen people doing some specious things at school like getting rougher with each other. While he doesn’t want to get involved with that kind of thing – he gets plenty of time punching me in class – he wanted to know if there were any techniques we could come up with in case someone decided to put the moves on him.

School in his day is very different from school in my day. Back in my day (a phrase I never thought I’d use unironically), shoving matches turned into fist fights and usually both parties walked away with no serious problems from the school. At the very worst, you’d get an afternoon’s detention unless someone got seriously injured, which they almost never did. While I’m not condoning the behavior, it was kids establishing their own place in the world and we all had our own set of rules about how to do that.

In my son’s school, both parties in the fight – whether they started it or not – are subject to detention or expulsion. It’s that beautiful zero tolerance policy that schools have adopted that frees them from things like critical thinking or assessing the incident. As a result, even throwing a mock punch can get a kid in serious trouble. For better or worse, that’s the way it is now. So, my son was curious to know if I could come up with anything where he could defend himself without fighting should the need arise.

My first thought was, if someone throws a punch at you, clobber him. After several years of Kenpo training (he’s almost a Black Belt), my kiddo should be able to knock the snot out of anyone who decides to push his buttons. Unfortunately, as my son pointed out, fighting is a serious no-no on school grounds. Fighting in general is usually frowned up and even in the real world, both parties can wind up facing serious consequences.

This left us with things like motion and soft blocking. Basically, getting out of the way and hoping that’s enough. So, guess what we practiced? Moving. My old teacher had a philosophy he liked to call “guarding the area that’s not being attacked”. While our version of Kenpo doesn’t explicitly call that out, the information is there if you dig deep enough.

That’s where my epiphany came in. I’ve never been a big fan of kata. For the unitiated, kata are those pre-programmed movements you see martial artists do. Block, move, kick, punch, and so on, all against imaginary opponents. They can go from simple to complex, a handful of movements to a few dozen movement. In some schools, the entire martial system is taught through kata. The idea being, if you know the kata and understand the kata, you know and understand the system.

Understanding is the rub. It’s easy to learn some movements and regurgitate them as an almost dancelike routine. Understanding the individual components – and why they’re being done – is the tricky part. As I said earlier, I’ve never really liked kata, but when my son and I were working out, I realized everything we were doing was in some kata somewhere and I had just glanced over it. So, I guess you could say the teaching mechanism worked to a point. Like any other kind of teaching, martial arts are dependent on the student to explore and attempt to understand the material in their own way.

So, how do I feel about kata now? Well, I still don’t care for them, but I’m looking at them in a new light. There’s a lot of information packed into those movements, but it requires examination to pull it out. And then it requires more examination to come to grips with it. Each one to three minute kata has a density of information you simple can’t get through basics or techniques. Show, don’t tell as the writing world calls it.

At the very least, doing kata correctly is a hell of a good workout and, apparently, even if I’m not fully paying attention, some of the information is leaking into my head.

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

For those of you unfamiliar Joe Arpaio or “America’s Toughest Sheriff” as he liked to be called, he was the sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. He made quite the name for himself back in the day by treating prisoners like animals and flaunting his power. Among Arpaio’s many bad decisions was setting up a tent camp in Maricopa County to house prisoners, feeding them nothing more than bologna sandwiches, and making them all wear pink jumpsuits because reasons.

The rationale behind the tent camp was “if tents are good enough for soldiers on deployment, they’re good enough for prisoners”. I’m pretty sure the bologna sandwiches and pink jumpsuits were just for the lolz, though.

Those are Sheriff Arpaio’s more forgivable sins, though. Even though the area around his famous tent camp could hit well into the 106 degrees Farenheit – I’ve seen Phoenix hit 118 – it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Although, Joe himself did brag that the temperature inside one the tents could hit 145F in the summers and the fans may or may not have been working. What was among the worst things in the world was his abuse of power, misuse of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper clearance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, constant racial profiling, and election law violations. He reintroduced chain gangs, intimidated political opponents, and had guards that stood by and watched as a woman chained to a bed went into a diabetic coma and died.

In other words, he was (and still is) a pathetic racist shit bag with a mean streak and a strong lust for power. Toward the end of his tenure as iron-booted madman of Arizona, the DOJ took a good hard look into Arpaio’s dealings and found him guilty. At 80-something, Sheriff Joe was about to get a firsthand look at the Justice System he’d helped put in place.

Fortunately for Joe, Donald Trump pardoned him before he could get his own taste of justice.

Now, that’s all the bad news. Arpaio’s still an asshole, still free, and Trump still pardoned him. It’s all water under the bridge and there’s not much we can do about it now. But there is a light side to this story. Arpaio is no longer Sheriff of Maricopa County, he’s the Sheriff of his couch where he spends his free time yelling at Mexicans on his TV. The new Sheriff of Maricopa County, Paul Penzone, takes a different view of justice. Whereas Joe’s version of justice was punishing people a lot over every little offense, Penzone seems more interested in justice as a rehabilitation process.

The new Sheriff of Maricopa County is turning the old (and recently shut down) tent city into a facility for drug rehab with new sleeping spaces and classrooms. Penzone has an eye on the future; he’d rather see people leave the jail in better shape to cope with the world than when they went in.

Read about it here:

http://deadstate.org/the-sheriff-who-replaced-joe-arpaio-is-turning-his-tent-city-jail-into-an-opioid-treatment-center/

We Are The World Blogfest is a loosely organized group of like-minded bloggers all trying to shine a little light in the world. This month’s hosts are:
Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese, Guilie Castillo and Belinda Witzenhausen
So be sure to go check them out.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

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And now, your moment of Zen

Neat!

guestpost

It’s not often I get the opportunity to a guest post on someone else’s blog, but I had the opportunity to write a guest post on why dialogue is important in a story and some ways to improve it. It’s actually a pretty fun piece and not only does it showcase my buddy’s theory about picking up women in bars with only a fake accent and an Armenian Air Force uniform, but it goes into rambling depths about what you can do with your characters and their propensity for talking.

Check it out on Rebecca Cahill’s blog and then stick around to check out the rest of her blog.

Firestorm

On the evening of October 8, 2017, I was enjoying pizza and beer with friends in Santa Rosa, California. We’d had a reasonably fun day of empanadas, beer, Pokemon shopping, a couple dips in the pool, and ended it up with the promise of beach day on October 9.

At about 4am on October 9, we got a phone call. The town was on fire and our buddy had been ordered to evacuate. Let me tell you something, I’ve seen plenty of photos and videos of encroaching wild fires and there’s nothing quite like seeing that tell-tale glow in real life and knowing what was on the other side of it.

We never got the order to skedaddle, but left when ash started falling from the sky. It was the first time I’d ever been smack dab in a natural disaster and wasn’t entirely certain what to do. Some people were panicking, others calmly going about their business. We were in a unique position; we didn’t have any skin in the game. At the very worst, we’d be ordered to evacuate Santa Rosa, drive to San Francisco and spend the night in the airport before flying home (we wound up getting a hotel in San Fran). Other people, our friends included, had serious skin in the game.

Our friends, through various machinations, have two house a few houses apart from each other. One gets rented out and they live in the other. While that sounds cool and all, bear in mind he was ordered to evacuate because his entire neighborhood was about turn to ash and blow away in the breeze. So far, his places have been fine, but talk about losing it all in one feel swoop.

Fire’s some scary stuff. I saw some before and after images of a few places that got hit by flames. One day we were driving past that joint, the next it was a smoldering pile of blackened wood and twisted metal. I met a man walking his dog who told me he’d be told to evacuate, but had seen the fire crest the hill and tear-ass down into some of the local mansions. In minutes they went from five-million-dollar homes to nothing. It happened that fast. Apparently the fire went from 0 to 20,000 acres in four hours. The fire chief admitted that not only was the fire 0% contained as of Monday afternoon, they had no idea how they were going to contain it.

High winds – upward of 60mph/96kph – and low humidity conspired to create firestorm that ravaged a large portion of northern California, including Santa Rosa. Last I heard, the fire had spread to 70,000+ acres.

So, if you’ve been reading about the northern California fires and they seem distant and unreal, let me assure you they are quite real and there is nothing like meeting people in San Fran who tell you they still haven’t heard from some of their friends up north.

While we were driving south out of Santa Rosa, we were joking about being refugees. Of course, we were never in any danger, so calling ourselves refugees was facetious at best. But driving through the ash and sirens and choking smoke gave me a bit better understanding of what real refugees actually do have to go through. Not much of one, mind you, because we knew our home wasn’t going to be torched unless the fire got extremely out of control and scorched the entire Southwest, we also didn’t have anyone shooting at us, and knew we had a plan that would work to keep us going.

That’s not necessarily the case with a whole lot of people who are going to go home to smoking rubble.

As I said, I’ve seen plenty of pictures and videos of fires and nothing really captures the event as it exists in real life. This image, though (It’s from the SF Chronicle, if y’all want it removed, please just tell me), captures the very human side of fire tragedy perfectly.

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Good luck to everyone who’s going to be picking through the mess up there in the next few weeks.