Saturday, August 29, 2015

Problems Only Hufflepuffs Understand

Today I drove back to NerdStrong Gym with a bag of clothes for tomorrows Clothing Swap. I got there a half hour before they closed shop, coach Seely, coach Christy and coach David were there hanging clothes. It was a pretty good turn out.. lots of stuff to give away tomorrow. I hung out and chatted with the coaches until they closed the door and then helped organize and put everything away for tomorrow.

I am a Hufflepuff, though I was sorted into Gryffindor on Pottermore and own a full set of Gryffindor robes I am a Hufflepuff at heart. Anyone who knows me, knows this to be true... so when I came across this awesome buzzfeed video about being a Hufflepuff called "Problems Only Hufflepuffs Understand" I can so relate... It's pretty fantastic!!!

NerdStrong Gym - More Handstands

Today we continued our work on the fundamentals of Handstands. The past few Saturdays we did handstand drills but have yet to do full handstands. We were building up to them, learning the proper handstand. This was difficult for me as I've always been able to do handstands but I did learn alot over the past three weeks to help strengthen my handstand. Today is the closest we are going to get to doing a full handstand without actually doing one.

But first we stated with a good warm up.. lots of wrist stretches before moving on to the actual Handstand work. We started simple movements like a push up into a wall walk, then wall walk into an L before doing a full wall walk all the way up. We then moved on to inversions, started by pressing our back into the wall, then pressing back into wall while doing a low split kick and then pressing our back into the wall and doing a high split kick. Once that was mastered we moved on to a full handstand. But we had to do it from that position of having your back pressed up against the wall and then lifting yourself up into a full handstand. I was able to do it a few times.

I'm very happy with the progress of my handstands.

Afterwards we worked on some Leg Raise Progression, we had to do 2 rounds of :30 seconds of work and :30 seconds of rest. Thirty seconds doesn't sound like a lot but man when you're working your core 5 seconds is a long time.

We finished today's workout with a mini workout consisting of 3 rounds of :30 seconds of Mountain Climbers, :30 seconds on Rest, :30 seconds of Jumping Jacks and :30 seconds of Rest. This didn't look like much but man was it a killer. Trying to find a pace that would work and by the time you got on round three everything hurt and those thirty seconds felt like an hour.

Overall this was another great workout and probably the smallest Saturday 10am class that we've had in a long while.. I was happy that I was finally able to actual do a few handstands. I now have to work on free standing handstands. Thanks to coach Christy and coach David.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Game Night at NerdStrong Gym

After work I headed to NerdStrong for our monthly game night. Started with a classic card game of "Pit". Get a taste of trading on the commodities market. Shout your deal and trade your cards to try to “corner” the market. Be the first to get all the cards of one commodity and ring the bell to win the hand. You’ll feel like a real trader in the “pits” of the exchange.

I forgot how much fun this game is. Lots of yelling and trading of cards. It's simple, easy and extremely entertaining. Glad someone brought it to game night.

Next I played a few rounds of Exploding Kittens. It is a highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players draw cards until someone draws an exploding kitten, at which point they explode, they are dead, and they are out of the game -- unless that player has a defuse card, which can defuse the kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the exploding kittens.

I played this at the last game night and really enjoyed it. This time around someone had the NSFW version and those cards were hilarious. This is an instant classic.

I then played a few rounds of Cockroach Poker. Cockroach Poker is a reverse set collection game that has nothing to do with poker – except that the game is all about bluffing, but with cards that show cockroaches, rats and stink bugs instead of queens, 10s and aces. The goal of the game is to force another player to collect 4 of any one type of critter. The deck includes 64 cards, with eight copies of eight types of critters. To set up the game, shuffle the deck and deal the cards out to players. On a turn, a player takes one card from his hand, lays it face down on the table, slides it to a player of his choice, and declares a type of critter, e.g., "Stink bug". The player receiving the card either; 1 Accepts the card, says either "true" or "false", then reveals the card. If this player is wrong in her claim, she keeps the card on the table in front of her face up; if she is right, the player who gave her the card places it face up before him. Or 2 peek at the card, then passes it face down to another player, either saying the original type of critter or saying a new type. This new player again has the choice of accepting the card or passing it, unless the card has already been seen by all other players in which case the player must take the first option. The game ends when a player has no cards to pass on his turn or when a player has four cards of the same critter on the table in front of him. In either case, this player loses and everyone else wins.

This is by far one of my all time favorite card game. Everyone always has a blast playing it.

The final game was new to me called Resistance.  The Resistance pits a small group of resistance fighters against a powerful and corrupt government. The resistance has launched a series of bold and daring missions to bring the government to its knees. Unfortunately spies have infiltrated the resistance ranks, ready to sabotage the carefully crafted plans. Even a single spy can take down a resistance mission team, choose your teams carefully or forever lose your chance for freedom. The Resistance artfully balances pure deduction elements with the social elements into a game that creates the adrenaline filled moments of high stakes poker in a full interactive and social event.

This was a fun game, I got to be part of the resistance in one game and a spy in the second game. I'd play this again.

Overall it was another fun and successful Game Night.

Unbreakables: Life and Love on Disability Campus

My friend Megan posted on her Facebook timeline about this British series called Unbreakables: Life and Love on Disability Campus. I watched a teaser and it really peaked my interested so I spent an hour scouring the internet and managed to find all three episodes.

This three-part series following the students at National Star College in Gloucestershire, this series is part of BBC Three’s Defying the Label season on disability airing during the month of July.

Episode 1 - Beth in the Welsh Valleys prepares to leave home and start college. She is desperate to meet new friends and quickly falls for Ed, but Beth must come to terms with his learning disability, which is causing him to believe that he is a retired premiership footballer. Bradley is running for Student Union President, but he’ll have to usurp Nathan, who’s running for his second term… Meanwhile, roommates Xenon and Bradley banter effortlessly about which of them is more handsome, but as their time at college finishes, will leaving risk their friendship coming to an end?

Episode 2 -  We meet excitable new freshers as they embark on their first taste of freedom, including 20-year old Dan who has cerebral palsy and dreams of being a DJ. We’re also introduced to the Overton House family, a noisy, fun-loving bunch of friends who are keen to make the most of their time away from home by getting up to the usual student high-jinx of shots and truth-or-dare! The group includes Nicki, who wasn’t born with a disability but had a brain injury at 17, and an emotional trip home as Josh opens up to his mum as he remembers his teenage life.

Episode 3 - We meet the charismatic Lewis who hails from Newcastle and is followed as he embarks on a personal mission to find a Geordie accent for his communication device, with the help of his friend Rob’s voice. Meanwhile, while Morgan’s speech is sometimes unclear, he won’t let that hold him back in his search for gainful employment. For Sasha, the one thing she doesn’t want to do after college is return home to live with mum and dad, and we follow her struggle to move into suitable housing.

One of the big things I really liked about The Unbreakables is its portrayal of real disabled students learning about themselves the same way all students do when they leave home. These students are not typecast to be figures of inspiration or sympathy. The series did not dramatize or minimize disability, they showed us how living with a disability really is.

I felt they presented an honest and informative depiction of the lives of these students with complex disabilities, who just want to be treated like young adults. They are resilient, matter-of-fact, mostly cheerful, sometimes sad, often funny people, who fancy each other and wonder about the future and hope to get a job after college. I found myself laughing with the students, and feeling the tug of the heartstrings with some of their stories of bullying and hate. 

These students were very open and honest about their lives and loves, the difficulties they face everyday and having a reason to wake up in the morning. There was this one story that really got to me. Two wheelchair bound final year students Xenon and Bradley talk about how they can walk in their dreams but know that it won't last as they must wake up. Another student Morgan say when he talks he doesn't hear his speech impediment but when others hear him talk they think he's drunk or thick (stupid).  There is a girl named Nicki who was your everyday teenager but was in the horrible car accident when she was 17 that left her with brain damage. She talks about her life before and how everything can change in a blink of an eye. There is another girl Sasha who is trying to find a place to live as she is leaving collage but the "state" (or the British equivalent) keeps sending her to senior homes and all she wants is to live among her peers. So many amazing stories and through the ups and downs they remain cheerful and upbeat.  These students were truly themselves, and their concerns were real and not scripted.

There was this very sweet moment where they break the fourth wall as Xenon, the same student who dreamt of walking, lay recovering in hospital from a hip replacement, he drowsily asked if the scene would be used in the film. When the filmmaker asked if that’s what he wanted, Xenon responded ‘I’d like them to see the challenges that I’ve faced, I’d like them to see what I’ve gone through in my life. And hopefully when they see that, they’ll understand a little, they’ll understand a bit more about disabled people.'

Though this series is about the students, the school itself is pretty amazing. National Star is one of a kind, not only in the support and care its staff provides; but in the way it makes the students feel at home, and totally unselfconscious. Once they leave college, they don’t want to be considered special... they want to be considered equal. I hope this series educates the public and helps disabled people find equality.

I would highly recommend finding and watching this series (episode 3 is up on YouTube HERE). It opened my eyes to some of the challenges the disabled members of our society face everyday. You can go to National Star Collage website and read more about the series and school. You can also find out what happen to those students who were featured after the cameras stopped . Lots of great information.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Broken Bands, Tesla Watch and Jedi vs Sith

So I got home from the gym and removed my two NerdStrong wrist bands when the unthinkable happened. One of the bands broke. It was the older of the two, the one I got from their Wondercon panel. It actually hurt my heart when it happened. I wear both of those bands everyday for workout and many days everywhere else as I like to show off my NerdStrong pride. I now wish I had grabbed two of those bands when they were giving them out like I did with their San Diego bands.

Of course Coach Andrew offered to give me his only band (cause that's the kind of guy he is)... I declined, but the offer was much appreciated. I guess I'll just have to get use to having the one band from here on out.

Next I want to share with you is this really cool Tesla (Steampunk) watch. Now I'm not a watch wearing but I'd definitely wear this one... I mean it's just to cool and it's actually a decent price at $59.99.. it's a ThinkGeek exclusive. You can pre-order (Oct) it HERE.

And finally I came across these Jedi and Sith pictures describing each path and I have to say.. I'm to much of a nice guy to be a Sith but that description is pretty temping.

NerdStrong Gym - Barbell Complex

Strength day at NerdStrong Gym. It started with our typical warm up, we then moved into our Skill work. We were learning the Barbell Complex that we were doing for today's workout.

Speaking of today's workout it was a 15 minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible). 1 round consisted of 1x BarBell Deadlift, 2x Hang Cleans, 3x Push Press and then 4x Barbell Push Ups. We then rested for thirty seconds before doing it all over again.

I was doing these next to my buddy Derek and he mentioned that he was going to try and do 15 rounds in the 15 minutes, of course at the time that sounded impossible. We started the complex and was done in 30 seconds. We did the second round and again completed it in 30 seconds. I turned to Derek and said.. wow we might be able to do 15 rounds in 15 seconds. Of course as you continue you start to get tired and move slower but as long as we did one round per minute we were good. In the end Derek actually reached his goal of 15 rounds... I almost hit 15 but managed a nice 14 rounds in 15 seconds.

For a finisher we did a Hollow Hold Progression, there are five stages to this progression. First is lying on our back, feet flat on the floor and lifting our head and shoulders off the ground. Second we lift our head and shoulders off the ground while lifting our knees to a 90 degree angle to the floor. Third we lift our head and shoulders off the ground and raise our legs to a 45 degree angle to the ground. Fourth we lift our head and shoulders off the ground and then lift our feet just six inches off the ground and for the fifth and final stage we do a full hollow hold which is lifting our head and shoulders off the ground, lifting out legs six inches off the ground and then raising our hand over our head. It's alot of core work and extremely painful but there is kind of sanctification when you complete it.

And I can't remember if this workout had a surprise finisher finisher.. like a TABATA planking or Sally. I feel like most of the workouts this week had some sort of surprise.  Overall it was a nice workout. I'm not a huge fan of barbell work (other then bench presses) but I enjoyed the complex they built for today's workout.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Firefly Rings & Real Hobbit Homes

I came across this really cool Firefly Ring so I clicked on the link and found out that it's an Etsy store and these are all hand made, which would explain the high price (over $100). They not only have this cool looking Firefly Ring but quite a few other geeky sterling silver rings, necklaces, charms and cuff links. All of it is a bit prices but again it's all hand made. I could do some major damage to my bank account on this site.. luckily for me I have some restraint. If you have restraint then check out the site HERE.

The other thing I wanted to share with you guys is a cool article on Middle-earth News about various real life Hobbit Homes. Now if I had unlimited funds I'd actually build myself a Hobbit Hole built into a mountainside somewhere. That is truly my ultimate dream home. Anyways check out some of the cool homes HERE.

NerdStrong Gym - 7 Minute Row

Today's workout was titled The Odyssey and it's a continuation of our Rowing workouts. This was a full 7 minute Row without stopping. This is what we have been practicing for the past few weeks.

But before the row we did a pretty good warm up of 2 sets of 5x Wall Squats, 10x Air Squats, 10x PVC Pass Thurs & 15x PVC Good Mornings.

Next was the main workout which was a full seven minute row. We have five rowers and 10 nerds so we did them in two groups.. I was part of the first group. The first few minutes were okay and then you start to feel the burn but you push through it and strangely enough when you get to the final few minutes it's actually easier then when you started. Coach David did a great job at encouraging us to push ourselves in the last minute to get as many meters in as we could. I manged to row 1476 meters in that seven minutes. This was just shy of my goal of 1500 meters, so I was a bit disappointed in myself but that just means the next time we do this (and we will do it again) I'll do better and surpass my goal.

Once the second group was finished we got a five minute rest before doing a 21 - 15 - 9 circuit of Sit Ups, Bicycles and Push Ups. So this meant we did 21x Sit Ups, 21x Bicycles and 21x Push Ups before moving on to 15x Sit Ups, 15x Bicycles and 15x Push Ups and then finally finishing with 9x Sit Ups, 9x Bicycles and 9x Push Ups. This is none stop and exhausting.

Of course since we had a smaller class size we had some extra time so coach David surprised with "Sally". This is something they use to do when NerdStrong was NerdFit and being done out of Coach Andrews garage. What they do is play the song by Moby called "Bring Sally Up". Everytime he said Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down we did a squat.. sometimes we'd be down in the squat for a few seconds before he would say Bring Sally Up. I lost count on how many squats we did but it was alot. And though I was tired and sore it was a lot of fun and I hope we are surprised by Sally in the future. Thanks coach David for a fantastic workout.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

NerdStrong Gym - Frogger

Today's workout is titled Frogger. I guess this is a previous workout but I've never done it before so it's new to me.

It started off with a pretty hefty warm up of a 230 meter run (which is one time around the parking lot), then 2 sets of 5x Bootstrappers, 6x Perfect Stretch and 7x Sit Ups and then 3 sets of 5x Wall Squats, 10x Air Squats, 10x Jump Squats and finally 20x Walking Lunges. It's a lot of work and by the time you are done you're pretty exhausted and that was just the warm up.

For the actual workout it's 4 rounds of :30 seconds of work then :30 seconds of rest. We started with Frog Hops, then Split Jumps and finally Burpees. Thirty seconds sounds like nothing but after the hard warm up you're legs are getting tired and Frog Hops aren't the easiest things to do and neither are Split Jumps.. it's sad when you actually look forward to Burpees. I mean they were the easiest things we did during that workout and that's scary :) And as a finisher we ran for 5 minutes straight. Coach asked us to run/jog the entire time and that's exactly what I did. I took a slow and steady pace as I knew if I went to fast I'd run out of steam halfway but even at a slow and steady pace it was a tough run.

Overall Frogger is a great workout, it doesn't look like much but it can kick your butt. Thanks coach Kimi

Monday, August 24, 2015

Babies, Birthdays and Brain Teasers

Today is a special day because coach Marla and coach Andrew, the co-founders of NerdStrong Gym are having their baby. What makes it even more special is that coach Andrew is taking us along for the ride with posts & pictures on instragram, twitter and Facebook. Her labor lasted from something like 2am to about 6pm and then an hour later Baby Stryder Deutsch was born. Congrats to both of you guys.. he's beautiful and I'm not just saying that because he's a newborn.. he is actually a cutie. I can't wait to meet him in person.

So Baby Deutsch shares his birthday with someone else who is very special to me, my buddy Erik who's birthday is today as well... so I want to wish him a very Happy Birthday. I really would have liked to have flown up to Portland to celebrate with you but work is kind of crazy but I am happy that you are able to fly down in a few weeks to help celebrate my 45th birthday.. can't wait to see you... and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I love puzzles/brain teasers and my twitter friend and author of one of my favorite children book "The Bravest Knights Who Ever Lived" Daniel Errico posted this on Twitter and he and I spent the next half hour or so (via Twitter Direct Messaging) figuring them all out... it was alot of fun. Thanks Daniel for sharing this and helping me figure them all out.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Killjoys - Season One Finale

Dutch, Johnny, and D'avin have too much to do, and time is running out. Dutch needs Johnny to have his tech friend Carleen decrypt Khlyen's files so they can figure out how to combat Level 6. At the same time, Alvis has been thrown in jail and sentenced to death for an explosion at the Leith bazaar, and Dutch tells the somewhat reluctant Jaqobis boys that they need to save him.

Meanwhile, Carleen's decryption of Khlyen's files gets interrupted when Khlyen shows up and murders her. Khlyen heads to Old Town and takes the liquid back from Johnny's room, but before he can leave, he's confronted by Dav.

Dutch and Johnny, meanwhile, are on Qresh, because Delle Sayeh calls in the debt Dutch owes her, and she wants Dutch to be her bodyguard (and arm candy) while the Nine votes on whether to rescind the promise of Leith land to Westerleyns. While there, Dutch spots the genetic bomb that she and the boys encountered on Leith. Before they can do anything about it, Delle Sayeh sets off the bomb, vaporizing all her rival families, and committing a coup among the Nine.

Johnny and Dutch head back to Westerley. They're aboard Lucy when they learn that Alvis and the rebels are being blamed for the attack on the Nine, and in retaliation, the Company is sending bombers towards Old Town.

There's very little time to get everyone in Old Town to safety. Dutch and Johnny take Pree and everyone who can fit onto Lucy, while Alvis (who managed to free himself, with the help of some prayer beads … that turn out to be bullets) and Pawter lead the rebels to the underground tunnels.

The last thing we see is Dav at a Red-17 hospital. In the bed next to him, Fancy Lee is hooked up to medical devices, perhaps being biologically modified into a Level 6. When Dav makes it to the outside, he's floored by the realization that he's no longer on Westerley … or Leith … or Qresh. Welcome to the blasted-out remains of Arkyn.

Wow.. wow.. wow.. so much happened in the final episode of season one I don't even know where to start. Khlyen is such a horrible person, which makes him a good "big bad" for the series. I was shocked when he killed Carleen just like that.. and he didn't just kill her outright, he tortured her, which is worse. Alvis being arrested and put in jail was a given, but I did like the way he escaped. Dav confronting Khlyen by himself was stupid, but he held his own for a few seconds. Delle Sayeh is a another horrible person. Using Dutch like she did and then she kills one of the ruling houses with one of the more ingenious weapons, a genetic bomb that only disintegrates a certain genetic code. 

It was only a matter of time before the revolution started on Westerley but I didn't expect them to bomb the entire city and kill everyone (well with exception to those who got away). And of course we find Dav kidnapped and being held in the infamous Red 17 which was talked about through out the season.

They leave so many open and unanswered questions and at the time of watching there was no word if they were getting a second season or not. But as I'm writing this I'm happy to say they were officially picked up for a 10 episode second season... I can't wait!!!

NerdStrong Gym - Testing for Thor

It's Sunday so that means brunch after a hard NerdStrong workout, this wasn't my usual brunch crew as most of them didn't come to workout this morning. But it was nice to hang out with other Nerdstrongers outside of the gym. We walked to The Hungry Fox, it normally takes us a half hour/ an hour to get a table and then a few hours to order, get our food and eat. But we had a table with in a few minutes and food was served shortly after that.

After brunch Shannon and I headed back to the Gym as they were holding try outs for the NerdStrong Gym Intermediate/Advanced Weight Training program called Thor!! The past few weeks I have been debating on trying out. They were having a half hour seminar beforehand to talk about the program and then they would be doing the test and announcing who made the cut.

So I listened to the pros and cons of the program. Parts of it got me excited and I considered trying out, but then other parts made me question if I wanted to do it at all. The plus side is I would gain some good muscle and build upon my already large upper body frame. These classes are a set time and day, three times a week for ten weeks, which wasn't a real problem for me since I would be available during those times. And it would take extra dedication to eat better to get the full benefit of the workouts. But the negatives outweighed the good, at least for me. If you do Thor it's highly suggested that you give up all other classes (with exception to Yoga), I don't think I could do that. I enjoyed my DEX, CON, STR & Team classes each weeks. I not only enjoy the workouts but the people I workout with. The community is a huge part of the success of NerdStrong for me. There was talk of losing some of your endurance, coach David talked about having to work extra hard for a few months to gain his back after he did Thor. By the end of the seminar I knew that I didn't want to do it.. at least not this time around. But I did want to see if I qualified. They did suggest that if you were going to try out for Thor that you shouldn't have done the morning workout but it was to late for that.

It was a very intense 15 or so minute workout, the coaches were testing our mobility. They really want to make sure you are able to do the extreme workout. I think there were around 18 of us who tried out. After the test the coaches went outside and deliberate. After fifteen minutes one by one the a coach would come up to you and pull you aside and let you know if you made it or not. You kind of knew who did and who didn't as some folks were gathering their things and leaving while others just kind of hung out. It was a few minutes before coach Kimi asked to talk to me. She mentioned that I did really well with the majority of the mobility movements but there was one that I just couldn't quite get. I knew exactly which one she was talking about as I was doing the back squat I couldn't quite keep my heels on the ground. She said that I will need more hip mobility. She knew that I wasn't really interested in this go round so she said that if I work on my hip mobility, that she's pretty sure I can make it into the next batch for Thor... so will see.

It's funny because I really didn't want to do Thor (this time around) but it was still hard to hear that I didn't qualify, and that I wasn't quite good enough (but I know they were only looking out for our health and well being). I actually felt bad for those that really wanted to do it but didn't make it. Out of the 18 or so people only 6 or 7 of them actually got picked for Thor. Among them several of my "closer" NerdStrong buddies, people that I enjoy seeing every week. Now I'll only going to see them one day and in passing :( Anyways... congrats to all who made it.

NerdStrong Gym - Big Damn Heroes

Woohoo!!! Today was a Firefly themed workout.

We worked in teams of four (picked at random). It was a two minute station workout with a minute rest in between and we had to do it twice. I was part of team 1 so we started with station one.

Station one was located on the planet Lilac where we had to do 2 minutes of Dumbbell Punches. These didn't sounds to difficult but after a minute your arms start to burn and when it hit two minutes they feel like jelly. We then made a quick stop at the planet Haven and rested for a minute before flying off to station two on Jiagyin where we had to do 2 minutes of Kettlebell Hi-Pulls. I wasn't going to make the same mistakes that I made with the Dumbbell Punches and grab a heavier weight, so I opted for my trusted yellow (26 pounds) kettlebell.

Again a minute in and your arms are burning and around two minutes you just want to stop. And during our visit to Jiangyin we ran into Reavers (which meant we had to take whatever we were working with and run a 140 meters in the parking lot). When you get back you have to finish the two minutes.

We then went back to Haven for a 1 minute rest before flying to our next station located on the  planet Persephone. This was probably one of the hardest things we did, Mace Squats. Of course I had to challenge myself so I went with a lighter mace (only 10 lbs) but held it at the very end which made doing the squats very difficult.

Another stay at Haven before moving on to the planet Osiris and our fourth station, here we had to so Medball Slams, these are different then Slamballs as these balls tend to bounce back up. First time I did one it bounced back into my face, almost knocked myself out. Unfortunately the Reavers attacked us while on this planet so we had to run with out loot (Medballs) and it wasn't easy.

After our quick rest on Haven we moved on to one of my favorite planets Ariel and our fifth and final station. Here we had to do Steelclub Overhead to Banner. These look easy but they really work your triceps.

Once we were done with station five we had to go back to station one and do it all over again but not before two more Reaver attacks before we finished. Overall it was a really good workout. Alot of work but over a good period of time so I didn't feel like I was going to die afterwards. In the end we were all Big Damn Heroes!!