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23rd-May-2016 03:39 pm - New Trainer
weights, deadlift
So, I had my first session with a new personal trainer today. I was pretty sure that this guy would be good for me to work with, since my previous trainer had referred me to him. I think we're going to get along great. I mean, he's clearly not used to middle-aged obese women whose goal is to lift things that weigh more than they do, but he's more than happy to train for that. And he did a nice thorough assessment during our first session, asked smart questions about my injury history, clearly keeps up with new developments in the strength and conditioning field by reading and going to conferences, and has a nice laid-back style.

One of the nice thing about going through an assessment with a new trainer is that you get a nice set of benchmarks of how far you've come. I can now hold a plank for 30 seconds easily. I may need to stop making jokes about how I have a set of old rubber bands where my abs should be.
23rd-May-2016 09:41 am - Music Monday - The Master's Bouquet
calm, metal
Every time I hear this song, I can't help but be weirded out by the presence of an (inadvertent?) Audre Lorde reference in old school epic doom metal.

They've always said,
You can't destroy the Master's house with the Master's hammer
I laugh and say,
"I will use any tool I find to tear down his manor"

teehee, haha
From a training course on discrimination law:

The law protects not only people belonging to traditional organized religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, but also those with sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs.
18th-May-2016 12:29 pm - Not dead
awkwardness, incapacitated
...nor have I abandoned livejournal. Stuff happened in mid-March and April, and things got very hectic for a while, and I didn't really want to blog about it. Things are more or less back on track, and we will be restoring normality as soon as we are certain what is normal anyway.
7th-Mar-2016 01:08 pm - 200! Also, squats!
weights, deadlift
Well, I've been sneaking up on it for weeks now, but today I finally did it. I deadlifted 200lbs. Twice. W00t! It feels good to set a goal and achieve it.

In some ways, though, I was even more exciting about the fact that we worked on back squats today. Back squats have generally been a complete train wreck for me for a variety of reasons involving poor shoulder mobility, poor core stability, excessive spinal arching, knee pain, and poor ankle mobility, among other things. Today we tried out a couple of sets of 5, maxing out at 55 lbs, and I learned the following:
* I just barely have enough shoulder mobility to hold the bar on my back in the correct position. I can get into the correct position without a problem, but my shoulders hurt by the end of the set.
* With some cueing from my trainer, I can stabilize my trunk well enough to avoid flopping forward or excessively arching my back.
* My squat depth is not great. But, a rather fascinating thing happened - I warmed up with a set of bodyweight squats, did my two sets of back squats, and then did another set of bodyweight squats. And instantly gained a couple of extra inches of depth on my bodyweight squat. It's weird - I've gotten some improvements from goblet squats, but never anything that dramatic. Must experiment more!
* I have homework, which is to stretch my calves and work on my ankle mobility.

Anyway, it's not going to be easy, and I doubt that I'm ever going to squat as well as I deadlift, but I have some hope that I might be able to learn to back squat competently. Which would be awesome.
6th-Mar-2016 04:51 pm - Kids and Cars
bannakaffalatta, short
My two nephews are participating in something called the "Pinewood Derby" as part of Cub Scouts. Basically, you build a little wooden car and roll it down a track. I did something similar when I was a kid, but it's all a bit slicker now. We started off the project down at the hardware store, where they had a guy with a bandsaw cutting out the shapes the kids had traced for their cars.

Youngest Niece wanted to ride in my car back to her house. "I like music in the car, not talking!" she declared. None of you will be surprised that I've given more than a little bit of thought to what things in my music collection are suitable for 4-year-olds. Unfortunately, I didn't remember most of those thoughts, so I threw on Katatonia's Last Fair Day Gone Night on the grounds that it's fairly melodic and doesn't have any screaming or swearing. (Well, not much screaming or swearing. I forgot that "Brave" is sung in a death growl and "Passing Bird" has a few f-bombs, but we didn't get that far into the album, so no worries.)

Youngest Niece declared "Yes! I like this song!" after the first few notes of this number, so I guess I didn't make a terrible choice:

She was of the opinion that it doesn't quite match up to the Frozen soundtrack, though.

We got to the house, and I helped Younger Nephew put his car together. What really got Younger Nephew excited were the transfer decals for decorating the car. He very patiently cut out tiny decals of flames, stripes, dragon claws, and a dragon tail for the back of the car, and I rubbed them all onto the car with a blunt pencil. Fortunately, he was entirely unbothered by any of the mistakes I made - those decals are fiddly. I got pretty good at them by the time we got to the last few.

Below I give you a photo of the two cars, which do an excellent job of expressing the personality of their creators:
4th-Mar-2016 02:15 pm - Well, I'm glad we cleared that up
teehee, haha
Regular readers may remember my slight consternation when I wrote to my senators to express my support for resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, and got back a response from Senator Feinstein that began "Thank you for contacting me to share your opposition to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States." My consternation was only slight because her response made it clear that we actually agree on the issue.

I wrote back to make it clear that we did, in fact, agree on the issue, which seemed like a pointless gesture, but it didn't take very long, and it felt somehow important to set the record straight.

Today, something like 6 weeks later, the vast machinery that grinds through Senator Feinstein's correspondence spat out a second email, which began, "Thank you for writing to express your support for resettling Syrian refugees in the United States." And went on to give some details about various good things Senator Feinstein has done in support of refugee resettlement.

I have no idea why that took 6 weeks, but it gives me some confidence that someone is paying attention to the correspondence.
4th-Mar-2016 11:47 am - The relentless narrative of what?
The Guardian has this fascinating article in which people who support Trump explain why. There is no way in hell that this constitutes a representative sample -- for a start, "Trump supporter who reads The Guardian" is a statistical outlier to begin with, but I'm sure The Guardian has cherry-picked the most entertaining submissions.

It's still an interesting showcase in "Wow, these are people who conceive of politics very differently from me."

I'm a bit flabbergasted by the people who are supporting Trump *because* they think he would be terrible for America. Maybe things really do need to get really terrible before the American people will wake up and fight for what's right. I'd rather fight for what's right now and skip the 4-8 years of suffering and being a global embarrassment. It's a thing to think about?

This bit is my favorite, though:

How on earth can we hope to defeat these people, with their complete domination of the national conversation and relentless narrative of “Progress! Tolerance! Acceptance! Feels!”?

Progress! Tolerance! Acceptance! Feels! How terrible! I'll tell you what that is, that's treating people with respect gone mad! Where will it lead?
29th-Feb-2016 09:22 am - New October Tide
calm, metal
I love me some October Tide. They released the first song from their upcoming album today.

running, shoes
I've been working my way through a modified version of the "Couch to 5K program", the major modification being that I only run once a week, so I'm progressing 3 times more slowly than you're supposed to. I've actually been quite pleased that I've still been able to make quite a bit of progress despite only running once a week. It seems like this is a lesson I keep having to learn: just because it might be "optimal" to train 3 times a week or whatever doesn't mean that you fail to make progress if you do less than that, especially if you're consistent.

However, the one drawback to running once a week is that if I have a crappy run for whatever reason, I kind of feel like I've blown it for the week. Two weeks ago, I had one of those beautiful runs that are probably the reason why I keep running even though it so frequently sucks - I felt good, I held a good pace, finished strong, felt great afterwards.

Then last week, I hit the pavement ready to do it all again, and like two minutes into my run, my left calf cramped up. Walked it out, stretched a bit, tried again. Nope, instant calf cramp. Briefly considered just running anyway, and then did the grown up thing, went for a walk, and came home and spent some quality time with the foam roller and the lacrosse ball working the knots out of my muscles.

This morning, I went out to run, and while I didn't have any cramping, it wasn't what I would call a great run. My legs were pretty tired, and while I "ran" the full length of time I was supposed to, by the last few minutes I felt like my pace was really lagging. It made me wonder if I was cheating myself out of cardiovascular benefits by running when my legs were tired and couldn't keep me going fast enough to keep my heart rate as high as possible.

The Fitbit Charge HR actually makes it possible to semi-intelligently answer this question. I compared my heart rate data from the awesome run of two weeks ago and today's crappy run.

The awesome run:
18 minutes in peak heart rate zone
14 minutes in the cardio zone
14 minutes in the "fat burn" zone
138 average bpm

The crappy run:
17 minutes in peak heart rate zone
13 minutes in the cardio zone
18 minutes in the "fat burn" zone
133 average bpm

So, there's a difference there, and it might even matter if I were training for competitive endurance running. But from a general fitness point of view, I can now confidently say, "Yay, crappy runs are awesome!"
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