Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, Starbucks breaks out the Christmas songs, and I break out the Agalloch. Not that I don't listen to Agalloch at other times of the year. But something about Agalloch always makes me feel like I'm walking through the woods in the snow, and since I don't get to walk through actual snowy woods much these days...
Try it out: Start this song. Close your eyes. Breathe in the cold air, lightly scented with pine. Feel the snow crunch under your feet.
Maybe it's just me?
The International World Weightlifting Championships have been going on all this past week in Houston, and many of the sessions have been streaming on espn.com, so I've gotten to be a total sports nut this week. I think I've now watched more Olympic weightlifting in the past week than I had previously in my entire life.
There have been some pretty dramatic moments in the competition, but I don't think anything will beat what happened in the women's under-75kg weight class competition yesterday. Just to give a little bit of context for those not familiar with weightlifting: Each lifter has to perform two lifts - the snatch (lifting the bar from the ground to overhead in essentially a single movement) and the clean and jerk (lifting the bar from the ground to the shoulders, and then overhead). They get three attempts at each lift, and the highest weight they manage on each lift is added together to form their total score.
In the video, you'll see North Korea's Rim Jong Sim perform two successful lifts in the snatch. Her third lift goes wrong, and she lands pretty hard on her left knee and has to be helped off the platform. At that point, I thought she was probably out of the competition. But she comes back for the clean and jerk, successfully lifts 150kg, and then falls over. And then manages to limp back onto the platform a few minutes later to lift 155kg. And then falls over. And then has an unsuccessful try at 157kg. She ended up with silver medals in the snatch, the clean and jerk, and the overall total. And if there were a gold medal in sheer guts, she'd have that.
By the end there, I was in agreement with the ESPN commentators, who were asking, "Is it possible for a doctor to stop this, the way they can stop a fight in boxing?" (Apparently not.) The news articles I've read make it sound like it was Rim's decision to keep lifting, and not her coaches', but, wow, it was both inspiring and painful to watch. I really hope she recovers quickly, because, damn, she's earned herself another shot at the Olympics next year.
(This video doesn't show the medal ceremony, in which Rim was helped to the podium by the gold and bronze medal winners and then had someone standing behind her the entire time holding her upright. I don't think the IWF deals with injured medalists very often - I'd have brought the poor woman a chair.)
My contribution to this year's Thanksgiving dinner this year will be a) my now-traditional chocolate mousse and b) some kind of vegetable side dish that is not squash (because someone else has squash covered). My initial inclination is to do green beans, because I like them, but I have half a mind to do try something new that I haven't made before. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving side dish that is:
a) based on a vegetable that is not squash.
b) can be made ahead or at the very least can be prepped ahead and just needs to finish cooking on site?
Bonus points if you've successfully fed it to children and/or picky eaters.
Since the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, I have been gripped with the vague feeling that I ought to Do Something. The question is, "What?" There is a school of thought that seems to think that it is very important that we should go out and Fight Terrorism. I am bothered by the extent to which this seems to translate into "bomb civilians" and also I am not the sort of person you would send to fight anything. The last thing I fought was a house fly - we went three rounds and then negotiated a settlement whereby I waved it out the front door and it left me in peace. This does not seem applicable to the current geopolitical situation.
And then I thought about changing my Facebook picture, but really what the situation seems to call for is an icon of Marianne in an Eagles of Death Metal t-shirt, and I don't have the Photoshop skills for that.
And there is a strain of thought that says that We Must Not Let the Terrorists win by continuing to be unafraid as we go around living in cities, and drinking in bars, and going to rock concerts. I can do this with great gusto, but it's hard to feel virtuous about it since it's exactly what I was doing before the Paris attacks. And as much as it entertains me to imagine little terrorist cells exchanging urgent communiques along the lines of, "Wendy is going to see Behemoth again! Will nothing stop this woman!" I cannot really imagine that they are that bothered.
But then I was looking at the news about all these state governors saying that they don't want their state to accept Syrian refugees. And I'm glad that California is not among them. I want California to accept Syrian refugees. I want California to *welcome* Syrian refugees.
So, I made a donation to the Northern California chapter of the International Rescue Committee
. The IRC helps refugees all over the world, but the Northern California chapter is helping refugees find housing, education, health care right here in my own community. I can't really think of a better way to Not Let the Terrorists Win than to help the people that they've driven out of their homes makes new homes here.
(If you want to see if IRC has a chapter in your city, go to their website
, click on "Where We Work", and select your location.)
I have just been introduced to the delightfulness that is Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women, and I've gotta share with y'all.
First up is a song that we all need sometimes: "Bitch With a Bad Attitude"
Second is a song that is the best reclaiming of the term "Thunder Thighs" since this
: "There's Lightning in These Thunder Thighs"
I tried something a bit different today for my pushup training. I got the idea from an old episode of The FitCast
that had a Q&A with Jim Wendler, author of the very popular "5/3/1" training program. He had a question from a listener who could do about 7 chinups in a row, but was having trouble increasing his reps beyond that. Wendler's advice was to pick a number of reps well below his max, like, say 2, and do a set of chinups after each set of all the other exercises he did in his workout. The idea is that you a) end up doing more total reps than you would if you did a more conventional 3-5 sets to failure and b) you never hit the point where your form breaks down.
So, I tried this today. Went to the gym, warmed up, did a set of 2 pushups with my hands elevated on a weight bench, then did a set of some other exercise. Repeated until done. I ended up doing 17 sets of 2, which does add up to quite a few more reps than I'd do with my previous routine.
Also, I finished my workout with the most amazing upper arm pump. I nearly took triceps selfies for y'all.
The trainers at my gym today all decided to dress up in 80s workout gear: old school running shorts, knee socks, terry-cloth headbands and wristbands in neon colors, and leg warmers. And a sound system pumping out "Eye of the Tiger" every 20 minutes. My trainer went all out and dressed as Richard Simmons, complete with curly wig.
I'm not sure if trying not to bust a gut laughing counts as "ab work" or not.
Today's pushup work, hands elevated on weight bench:
1 set of 5 (First time I've ever done 5 in a row!)
1 set of 4
1 set of 3
1 set of 2
Did you know that Finland has a dinosaur-themed heavy metal band aimed at children? Of course, they do, because Finland. Is it possible that Finland is the most awesome place to be a child ever? It must be in the running.
The band is called Heavisaurus, and they're actually pretty good.
Joseph T. Berlant has just posted the following on the World Fantasy 2015 Convention Facebook page
On reflection, and with guidance, we have realized that our sincere attempt to do the right thing in this regard was inadequate. We focused too much on complying with the legal advice of Saratoga authorities and not enough on making certain that our members feel confident in their safety at the Convention. Since last year’s WFC policy was considered satisfactory and is considered to be comprehensive we are adopting it as an addition to the policy developed with the legal advice of the Saratoga authorities. The World Fantasy Board is reviewing the language for comprehensiveness. The corrected policy will be posted here and on our website as soon as that review is completed. We apologize for the misstep and are doing our utmost to make WFC 2015 both an enjoyable event and a safe environment.
I am really pleased to see the concom taking the criticism to heart and trying to put things right. I'm still curious to see what the consolidated policy will look like, but I'm really glad that they didn't decide to just tough it out and hang on to their existing policy.