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keep a rep in the pocket

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Perhaps getting back to lifting weights and regaining strength will help to stabilize my mood, which is necessary this time of year. Of course one thing I’ve thought about during the time that my physical activity level became rather low with the exception of golfing on the weekends and walking 18 holes, it’s that when my shoulder started getting dramatically better, that I would want to be cautious with how I resumed any sort of training.

If you lurk around enough sort of internet forums with people who are working out, you will all too often see stories about someone who had once had a decent level of fitness, got away from that, then came back and overloaded themselves. One factor may be they were once motivated enough to get fairly fit and strong, then the motivation comes back and they want to go as hard as they were back then. Plus there are the memories of what they were capable of. Even though they are now detrained, they want to be at that prior level. So they’ll push for that, even though they may simply be incapable of it, or in danger of where they can injure themselves in the process.

So I’ve been mindful of that as I’ve begun to resume some training. One very conscious thing I am doing deals with the final set of reps in the adapted 5-3-1 protocol I’m using. In 5-3-1, the last set is the max set, you lift the greatest amount of weight, and you also try to do as many reps as you can do. Or, in my case, I do about as many reps up to the point of where I feel I have at least one more left if I were to try. Maybe even 2 reps. The point is that I’m staying away from a failed rep, a rep that in my current state could be a dangerous rep.

I suspect this also gets more important the older one is. You get older, you don’t heal and recover as fast. I’ve maybe seen that some with how much more stubborn this frozen left shoulder has been about thawing. There’s just no fucking sense right now in starting some lifting and getting myself hurt with it. So be safe, I keep thinking, be safe.

Or when I go and look at Ross Enamait’s page about the Magic 50, I just smile and think, “Not now, not yet.” Beyond the fact I still can’t do snatch with my left-hand, even if I could do that, I wouldn’t do a full Magic 50. I would probably scale it down to a Magic 20. Just 2 rounds of the swings, snatches and burpees.

Oh, I did some burpees on Tuesday as part of my warmup before squatting. 5 of them. Then during my cooldown I did 5 more. 10 burpees. Which was 10 more in a day than I had done in a long time. Maybe tonight I will do a total of 12. I do that and next time, I will be a bit stronger, a bit faster, a bit more explosive. Build by bits, that’s the idea. One small step after another.

Maybe sometime next year I will be ready for some sterner stuff, to reach into the pocket and turn it inside-out. But for now, it’s keep a rep or 2 in there.

—-

I didn’t bowl all that well last night. Never got settled, got a little frustrated with how the bowlers on the other team weren’t very prompt about getting on the lanes and bowling their frames. I dislike slow play, in golf and bowling. I like things to keep moving.

Then later that night, when I was driving home, I came very close to hitting a deer that darted across the road in front of me. Fortunately, I was going slow anyhow on a backroad, about 30 mph, and saw it soon enough that I was able to brake short of it and it continued on its way, and I continued mine.

But all of that kind of rattled me some and I didn’t go to sleep easy later on. Then I woke up at 4 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. I felt frustration about this time of year, the huge amounts of darkness and the dreadful cacophony of advertisements bleating on about how happy you should be, it’s that time of year to be happy. Bullshit. I’m not happy. I’m doing my best to continue on, I go to my job, I do my work, I go golfing and bowling, I’m working on getting strong again. I watch a movie now and then and think about it. I read some, in English, in French, in Esperanto. My life is not empty. But it is not happy.

The only conversation I have is the one inside my head. And it’s a pale shadow to what a conversation could be. But while I may long for conversation again, that doesn’t mean I long for what’s involved in developing conversation with another person or other people. I just feel so lost with it. In some ways, I feel like talking with other people is about as useful as talking to dolphins for me. Something in my brain didn’t get formed properly when I was growing up. If I step into the social world, I’m lost. If I stand outside of it, I just get to see others from the outside of it.

Daylight stops receding in about 22 or 23 days or so. Just get me to March. If I can get there, things are better just for that. More light, more warmth again. Winter is a hell of a season, a hell of darkness.

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getting it back

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The improvement in the left shoulder is helping with motivation. It’s a bit depressing to find out that I had lost a lot of deadlifting strength, but on the other hand, it is wonderful to pick up a weight that feels heavy and not feel anything weird in the shoulder joint. So I’m trying to see this as opportunity — first off I will get to enjoy the rapid strength gains that one sees when the nervous system gets to remember how to recruit muscle fibers. Second, now that I know I’ve made a fair amount of progress with hip mobility and that I’ve loosened up my hamstrings some, maybe this is an opportunity to have better form when I deadlift and that better form may eventually translate into better strength gains. Maybe not either. That’s just speculative.

Right now the plan is to try to lift 3x a week, and alternate between a workout with deadlifts and a workout with zercher squats. With 2 of those workouts, the Tuesday and Saturday ones, I will also throw in some dumbbell swings, and a few dumbbell snatches. I can’t snatch yet left-handed because my left arm won’t get vertical enough yet, but I just want those explosive swing and snatch movements to help with how fast I can fire my hips. They might also help with regaining some of the power I’ve lost in my golf swing. I really hope that if I put the work in on this, that the strength and flexibility gains will show up in better distance with how far I hit golf balls.

—-

I saw The Adjustment Bureau for the first time recently. It’s a curious movie, maybe not as good as it could have been, and I didn’t feel that Matt Damon gave all that charismatic of a performance. He seemed very flat somehow to me. But I suppose the most interesting aspect of the movie to me was the conceit in it, one which I suppose I sort of dream about although my cold and rational side realizes it is purely fantasy, is the idea of a love meant to be, one so transcendent and fundamental that it can’t be stopped, that nothing can get in the way, not even an Adjustment Bureau trying to make alterations to keep individuals from getting off-plan.

I don’t really think there is any such thing. Or fate. Or destiny. We’re just kind of accidental along with being inconsequential. But the idea of a love that fundamental, that strong, it’s a seductive dream, isn’t it? I think there aren’t that many that don’t dream of someone they can love without reservation, without fear, without worry. And have that love given back. I imagine that there haven’t been that many couples of who loved another from early on after first meeting til death parted the two of them. Life’s too complicated for us to be perfect and life is too imperfect for us to be perfect.

But the eternal love idea is deeply embedded into our myths, our fictions, our stories, tales, movies and music and so much more. It is used to sell us products. It has been written about so many times and yet we don’t get sick of it. At times we might feel rather despairing over it, maybe especially if we have a breakup from a relationship that had once seemed and felt like it might be that one amazing transcendent love, but sometimes we get suckered into watching another movie about it or reading another story.

Perhaps the lesson is that as human beings we are suckers for fiction. And that drives our thirst for stories and movies. In fiction, we can sometimes see our better selves, the ones who don’t fail, the ones who persuade a bureau officer to lend him his hat and give the ability to jump from place to place and find the woman he loves. The one he was destined to love in spite of the interference by beings with powers that approach godlike.

Of course, in real life, it ain’t God or anything creating that interference. It is our own imperfections, our weaknesses, the fictions and lies we repeat to ourselves, the dreams we think ought to be real, but will never likely be because we just aren’t that amazing or that good. I sure ain’t amazing and I sure ain’t good. I’m too tightly wrapped up into my own self and that makes lots of people uncomfortable with me and also means that I really don’t interact all that well with others.

—-

Today’s one of those dreary winter days. A light snow/rain mix is falling. I woke up around 4 AM and only semi-dozed til the alarm went off at 5:30. Then I got up and went to make coffee along with dropping a roast beef in the crockpot along with potatoes, onion, carrots and celery. So hopefully that will make for a good hot meal when I get home after work and after I do my planned workout with zercher squats, some swings, and snatches.

that thawing shoulder

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

I just found out that I can put a barbell overhead again. Well, almost. I can’t quite get my left arm back far enough that my head gets through my arms, but I did lift a 50-lb barbell up. And that’s a far sight farther then what I could do with the left arm a year ago, or even 6 months, or 3 months ago. It’s such a relief to feel the shoulder coming back that I could almost cry about it. External rotation is still the worst with the shoulder, and I remember it being like that with the right shoulder when it froze up and then thawed out years ago. Still, overall I feel very much like the shoulder is getting into the home stretch now and 4 to 6 months from now I should have back almost all of my range of motion.

Also I noticed the other morning I can get both hands on my hips. The left shoulder still lurches forward on that, but a few months ago I couldn’t do that, couldn’t get my left hand on to the hip.

In addition to the shoulder slowly coming back, I’ve also been making progress on hip mobility. I’ve been working on the various stretches and can definitely reach a bit better than before, can turn my trunk a bit more, and maybe feel a sense of freedom there which has not been there for a long while.

—-

Still haven’t matched that 80 I shot on the golf course back in October. But I’m still pleased with the progress I’m making in understanding my swing, plus I’ve gained some better insight on the effects I suffered while playing through the frozen shoulder. One aspect I understand now and have to work on keeping out of the swing is that restricted left shoulder hurt my followthrough. I had a tendency to shorten up on it to avoid discomfort in the left shoulder, and that sometimes caused me to spin my hips in a circle and when that would happen, I would pull the ball well left of the target.

But now that the internal rotation of the left shoulder is getting better, this past month I’ve had another little glitch creep into the swing which was driving me crazy some for a few rounds — I began having trouble with a shot that was blocked to the right. Way right. Terrible. I finally figured out what was happening when I asked myself, “Okay, so how does the ball go that far right?” The answer of course has to lie in the direction that the clubface is pointed towards. So if the ball was going right, the clubface had to be getting opened way right. And then I finally felt what was happening in one of my swings. I pulled the club back, tried to maintain a sensation of the back of my left hand to the target, but on the transition I would lay the club off. I lost the flat left wrist and bowed it back some along with the clubhead dropping towards the ground. I would then pull the club through on a nice inside path but with the clubface wide open the ball would balloon out to the right. Or sometimes I tried to unconsciously save it, maybe make clean contact or maybe overcorrect and hit a duck hook to the left. So the lesson was pretty obvious for me, stop laying the club off. I’ve focused on that the last couple of times out and I’m getting much better contact again.

And now with the ways I’ve improved how I think about the swing, how I select targets, I’m almost always having at least some shots which go almost exactly like I imagine, I will have a couple of shots which go firing right at flagsticks that are open to being aimed at directly. I’m gaining an increased confidence that I can aim at things on a golf course and hit the ball to them. Especially now that I’ve identified how that laying off move had set me back some.

Of course, I still don’t make perfect swings every time, but I’m getting closer to removing most of the bad ones, getting closer to where I won’t string together a series of bad shots. There will still be bad shots, but I feel more and more like I can get back on track quickly.

—-

I got a haircut last week. There’s nothing amazing or unusual about that, except for one small detail. During the haircut, while the stylist used the clippers on me, she would put her left hand on my left shoulder. That brought back a flood of memories about the few times I have had women who I would allow into my personal space like that. It was almost sad at how much I enjoyed a sort of voyeurism into my own memories about how good it would feel to be touched by someone who wanted to touch me. I’ve seen stuff that says that people who don’t get much physical touch from others can be deprived in some ways and that it can influence them in negative ways. Has that happened to me? Has it always been that way? I don’t know. How can I know?

It doesn’t really matter in the end. No one is guaranteed happiness, and maybe there are some who are disadvantaged in certain ways to find happiness only in fleeting moments or instances. I hope I’ve tried and done my best when I’ve had opportunities. But maybe I haven’t. Who knows? Is it possible for me to answer those questions? Or anyone else really? There are no hard and firm answers there, and a grave difficulty is that in a world where people can lie, they can lie to themselves just as much. You can’t escape the problem of self-deception, it’s always there, it’s always in how we look at ourselves in the mirror — it is never a true portrait.

Oh well, maybe tonight I’ll sleep okay enough, will feel warm in a cocoon of blankets and find tomorrow to be fair enough.

cocoons, chili, wine

November 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Maybe it was a month or so ago that I woke up middle of the night and found that I had kicked off my blankets and I was only under a single sheet, nearly shivering. I retrieved the blankets and felt a sense of relief as they trapped my body heat, eventually giving me a nice cocoon of warmth that I, for a while, didn’t quite fall back asleep inside of, instead I sort of drifted along in a half-awake and self-hypnotized state. Staying warm like that has become a bit more imperative this year. For unknown causes, there’s been a shift in how I perceive temperatures this year. I noticed it beginning over the summer when I began finding it uncomfortable to sleep without a shirt and bare legs too — my legs and feet would get to feeling chilled.

This change also led me to buying an additional blanket for the bed at night. We’re getting some colder nights now and when I woke up during the night Saturday into Sunday, I found that the cocoon wasn’t quite enough, that sensation of my legs and feet being cold. So I bought a blanket yesterday and it made the difference last night.

Getting older.

—-

I tried a couple of wrinkles with the chili I made yesterday. In keeping with my recent experiments using wine as a recipe ingredient, I put in a cup of petite sirah wine to see if it would pair off with the flavor of the hamburger. Other ingredients included honey, peanut butter, dark chocolate, onions, celery, a green pepper, a cubanelle pepper and pinto beans along with spices, seasoning and tomato sauce. I put it enough spices to give it a bit of zing, but I was more interested in creating a sweet kind of chili. So there was a fair amount of honey added to it.

I think it was pretty successful and you can catch a hint of the red wine in the flavors. The little bit of zing from the spices go nicely with the sweetness from the honey, dark chocolate and petite sirah.

Later, I went googling to see if there were other people making sweet chilis. Most sweet chili results were about sauces from Thailand. There isn’t so much about sweet chilis which are soups or stews.

I suppose though if this experiment taught me one thing, it’s that raisins in a chili recipe might not be so crazy as I first thought when I heard of the idea. Raisins will carry much the same flavors that a red wine would, obviously. But I still couldn’t bring myself to use raisins in a chili I would make — I’ve never liked them much as kid because of their texture.

Besides, I can be all snobbish and talk about how I can create an amazing chili with wine. You just can’t be snobbish with raisins. They’re wrinkled food for kids. Wine is for the adult palate, and even someone as unrefined as me can appreciate their nuances sometimes.