The Plan

This is the plan.

I won’t be able to exercise much next week – much of my time will be spent enjoying my vacation. So I want to push the limits a little this week and then really earn my rest.

Writing Plan

Break all the rules and start the novel. Screw it.

I’ve been dreading doing it.

Going back and forth about what to write about when I totally know what I want to write about.

Telling myself that I didn’t know enough of the story to start it when really the only way to know the story is to write the story.

Convinced I lacked even a fraction of the ability of writers I know, to say nothing of the infinitesimal talent I have when compared to the writers I have read but doing nothing to motivate myself to even try.

So, I am starting at the beginning for my main character. I may not even use it in the novel. But I will get to know him and then maybe I can use it. But I started. 500 words a day. Even on vacation. But I won’t be a slave to how I do it – paper or digital.

Workout Plan

Go hard this week. Take next week off.

I didn’t go into as much detail as this with the writing, because I would bore the hell out of you with it. And frankly, I’m not sure where I am going with it – I am going to let my character take me where they want to go and I plan on throwing shit in his way and see what he does.

Exercise though? That means spreadsheets and hyperlinks. I love that shit.

Day 1 Total Weight MINUTES SPEED
Walk 0 12 4.2
Circuit 1 Total Weight REPS SETS
Weighted Push Up 45 10 4
Front Box Jump 10 10 4
Circuit 2 Total Weight REPS SETS
Dumbbell Deadlift 2×60 10 4
Sumo Deadlift High Pull 55 10 4
Circuit 3 Total Weight REPS SETS
Landmine Thruster 90 10 4
Circuit 4 Total Weight REPS SETS
Medicine Ball Toss 12 20 1
Circuit 5 Total Weight REPS SETS
Chest expander 10 10 1
Day 2 Total Weight MINUTES SPEED
Walk 0 12 4.2
Circuit 1 Total Weight REPS SETS
Pushup Lock Off 0 8 4
Circuit 2 Total Weight REPS SETS
Barbell Straight Leg Deadlift 125 8 4
Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown 90 8 4
Circuit 3 Total Weight REPS SETS
LH DB Overhead Press 25 8 4
RH DB Overhead Press 25 8 4
LH One Armed Row 25 8 4
RH One Armed Row 25 8 4
Circuit 4 Total Weight REPS SETS
Straight Arm Pulldown 90 8 4
Face Pull 90 8 4
Circuit 5 Total Weight REPS SETS
Medicine Ball Toss 12 20 1
Circuit 6 Total Weight REPS SETS
Chest expander 10 10 1

Day 3 is a day of rest. Because usually, at this point, I am in a lot of pain. The fourth day is is usually the day I put my gym bag in the trunk to force myself to get out of bed. Because if I leave it in the entranceway, I can always cheat.

Day 4 Total Weight MINUTES SETS
Walk 0 12 4.2
Circuit 1 Total Weight REPS SETS
Medicine Ball Toss 12 20 1
Circuit 2 Total Weight REPS SETS
Standing Military Press 65 8 4
Barbell Incline Press Medium Grip 85 8 4
Dumbbell Thruster 2×20 8 4
Circuit 3 Total Weight REPS SETS
Close Grip Barbell Bench Press 65 8 4
Kneeling Military Press 65 8 4
Weighted Push Up 45 8 4
Circuit 4 Total Weight REPS SETS
Chest expander 10 10 1
Day 5 Total Weight REPS SETS
Walk 0 1 10
Circuit 1 Total Weight REPS SETS
Weighted Bench Dip 10 8 4
Weighted Push Up 45 8 4
Left Arm Row 30 8 4
Right Arm Row 30 8 4
Circuit 2 Total Weight REPS SETS
Incline Hammer Curls 2×20 8 4
Incline Inner Biceps Curl 2×20 8 4
Circuit 3 Total Weight REPS SETS
Overhead Cable Curl 30 8 4
EZ_Bar Curl 55 8 4
Circuit 4 Total Weight REPS SETS
Medicine Ball Toss 12 20 1
Circuit 5 Total Weight REPS SETS
Chest expander 10 10 1

Chain Of Command

I stopped the second lieutenant and asked him a question. I still don’t remember what it was. He answered with a nod and then went into the barracks office. I resumed my laps around the parade square. I think this was Fall 1989, maybe Spring 1990.

Finished the laps and went back into the training room. That’s what being a recruit was like – physical training and classroom learning. It happened only on the weekends and every other Thursday through the month (or maybe one Thursday a month?) but at the end,  I would be a full fledged private.

But before that, I had to manage “The Chain Of Command”. And I wish I meant the excellent two part episode from Star Trek: TNG.

“Cadet Rinne,” Sergeant Moore called out. He stood, hands gripping the edges of the lectern, his back to the blackboard. He looked practically maniacal with glee. “Come to the front of the classroom.”

I thought he chose to single me out because of my excellence.

I thought wrong.

I remember one other event with Sergeant Moore. He carried around a chunk of orange cheddar from a meal pack for the better part of the day to gleefully hand it to a trainee and tell them, “Here is some cheese to go with that whine.” He had that same look on his face when he called me up.

“Do you know what the chain of command is?” He asked.

“The succession of commanding officers from a superior to a subordinate through with command is exercised,” I answered. Or other some such official answer.

“No, cadet,” he said. “THIS is the chain of command.” And he trots out a milk crate with a coiled up, rusty chain inside. The kind of chain you only see in movies, the links as thick as my thumb. “Every year, one of you breaks the chain of command and we have to remind them what it’s all about.”

I didn’t say anything, but the look on my face spoke volumes. The cheese eating grin of his got only wider. He knew I had no idea what he was talking about.

“You stopped a second lef-tenant to ask him a question today,” the sergeant intoned. In Canada, you don’t say loo-tenant, you say lef-tenant. “Instead of speaking to your section leader. You wasted that second tef-tenant’s time, cadet. And I can’t let that happen ever again.”

The chain-laden milk crate ground across the floor when he pushed it towards me, leaving a trail of rust in its wake.

“You will carry this chain around with you for the whole day. You will bring it to class, bring it with you on PT. You will take it to bed with you and return it in the morning to this class. Your fellow trainees may offer to help but you may not ask for help. If you ask for help, you will get to spend another day being reminded of the importance of the chain of command.”

And I carried that big bastard of a crate around with me for the whole day and my fellow trainees did eventually offer me to help, but not before I was nearly crying with frustration. I realized then that the main job of training was to break you down so that they could build you back up again with the bits that survived. I have not forgot the lesson I learned that day and never fail to tell this story whenever someone mentions “the chain of command”.

So today, a manager coached me about how it’s as important to manage down as it is to manage up. He said a manager must tell their people what to do and at the same time have the confidence to speak up to your boss if you don’t agree with something (in a respectful manner). The lesson was a good one, and one I do passively, not actively. I thanked him for the advice.

“It’s like being in the military,” he explained. “It’s the chain of command.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “Let me tell you about the chain of command. When I was in the Armed Forces Reserve, I stopped in the middle of a lap around the parade square to ask a second lef-tenant a question…..”

Advice

They stopped me in the hall and asked what happened. It had been a few months – in one case, a few years – since they saw me last and took note of the change.

“Roberto,” they said. “Are you okay? Where did the rest of you go?”

I would explain that I lost some weight. They always act astounded, which I always find flattering.

“What is your secret?”

“Eat less,” I said. “Exercise more.”

“Exercise?” They answered. “Oh, yes. We know what you mean by exercise.” Followed by a wink.

I caught the double entendre, but dismissed it. But it did lead me to think of a couple of my favourite workout routines. Ones I actually look forward to doing. Three back-to-back days of this and I have to take a day off.

I’ve included links to each of the exercise videos I’ve studied and continue to study as I exercise. Because in every instance, even if you scale down the weight or do it assisted (like an assisted dip), what matters most is form. When you master form, you target the right muscle area and keep the muscles under tensions, allowing them to develop. Muscles don’t know weight, they know work.

A few notes:

  • Scott Herman is my go-to YouTuber for exercise videos. Sure, there are others. But I like him.
  • “Fit Father” project is another good one.
  • Bodybuilding.com is another good site.
  • I enjoy picking up “Men’s Fitness” or “Men’s Journal” at the library from time to time (or if I can find a copy of the PDF online). I don’t study it as much as I review it and see if some of the stories jive with me and my experiences. I don’t take it to heart, but some of it is good to read, if only for motivation.
  • Some of the linked videos and instructions show variations on a given exercise. That’s on purpose. It’s because while I like this workout, you want to change things up a bit so you shock your muscles into learning something new.
  • I start every workout with either a ten minute jog at 4.2 mph (with 2 minutes of cool-down at 3.9 mph) or the metabolic workout. All in an effort to get my body warmed up and ready to exercise.
  • Where I break the exercises into ‘sets’ – that’s where I do those exercises as a ’round’ and only rest when all of the sets within the set are complete. I pace myself and make sure to breathe to keep my muscles filled with oxygen. I generally rest for about two minutes then do it all over again. But, once again, if I get tired inside of a set, I will stop for 90 seconds or until my heartrate drops to 110 bpm and then go back at it, breathing like a blast furnace.
  • Each day of exercises takes me about forty five minutes to an hour – depending on how hard I push and how much rest I take between sets.
  • Keep a log. Go to the dollar store, get a cheap notebook, buy some pens (one red, one blue, one black) and keep it in your gym bag. Make small notes every workout as the thoughts come to you and keep it to yourself. I’m betting that the notes after your workout will find you in a great mood. And then, when you find yourself losing a little motivation, review your notes so you can remind yourself why you are doing this and how good you felt afterwards.
  • I am not a trainer! This is just how I exercise. I like to share, but you know that already.
Day One Weight REPS SETS
Metabolic Workout 0 1 7
Set 1 Weight REPS SETS
Weighted Side Bend 20 14 4
Dips 0 7 4
Weighted Back Extension 20 7 4
Kneeling Preacher Curl 40 7 4
Set 2 Weight REPS SETS
Barbell Curl 20 7 4
Close Grip Bench Press 100 7 4
Skull Crusher 20 7 4
Set 3 Weight REPS SETS
Standing Barbell Calf Raise 70 7 4
Seated Calf Raise 70 7 4
Day Two Weight REPS SETS
Metabolic Workout 0 1 7
Set 1 Weight REPS SETS
Barbell Straight Leg Deadlift 90 7 4
Pushup Lock Off 0 7 4 (2 left / 2 right)
Set 2 Weight REPS SETS
Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown 90 7 4
LH DB Overhead Press 20 7 4
RH DB Overhead Press 20 7 4
Set 3 Weight REPS SETS
LH One Armed Row 40 7 4
RH One Armed Row 40 7 4
Set 4 Weight REPS SETS
Straight Arm Pulldown 45 7 4
Face Pull 45 7 4
Day Three Weight REPS SETS
Metabolic Workout 0 1 7
Set 1 Weight REPS SETS
Standing Military Press 40 5 4
Barbell Incline Press Medium Grip 40 5 4
Dumbbell Thruster 40 5 4
Set 2 Weight REPS SETS
Close Grip Barbell Bench Press 40 5 4
Kneeling Military Press 40 5 4
Weighted Push Up 25 5 4
Dumbbell Thruster 40 5 4

After three days of this, I take one day off and then right back at it on the fifth day.

 

 

 

Lie to me

I’ve been away for a while but I am back for a bit. 

The schedule of posting every day took up too much time and there are only so many hours in the day. To say that it started to be like work was a good thing – I like it when it’s work. I like the process. But when I bounced what I was actually doing against my plan, something had to give. 

Oh. I didn’t stop writing. That’s simple madness. Frankly, writing every day unlocked something inside me very powerful. So powerful, that I am reluctant to share it with the world because I want to keep it for myself for a while. 

I can describe it like this – I felt like breaking down a plate glass window when I saw a copy of short stories edited by John Metcalf on a shelf of an independent book store closed for the day. That’s because I know John Metcalf from The Humber School of Writers – he was my mentor for a couple of weeks and I will never, ever forget him. 

I saw a new Timothy Zahn novel (a new one with Thrawn and Darth Vader) and I immediately purchased an advanced digital copy so it will be delivered to my Kindle the day it is published. I don’t know Zahn, but I feel like I know him from what he did with the novels that first introduced Thrawn. I will read anything he writes. 

I lost sleep so I could finish Stephen King’s “The Outsider”. It wasn’t a great novel, but an entertaining one. After reading “On Writing” and listen to the audiobook he narrates over and over for the past twenty years, I feel like I know him. I will read anything he writes, good or bad. 

Larry Niven. Isaac Asimov. Harlan Ellison. Carl Sagan. These are writers I like because I feel like I know them and I want to hear what they have to say. 

This is because they tell me the truth, even when they are flat out lying to me. They are telling me things about themselves without dropping their names or saying a word about what they have done or who they are. Their fictions are made from the mixed up jumbled ingredients of their lives. Carl Sagan only ever wrote “Contact” as fiction, but even that is a powerful book. Even his non-fiction, when he got it completely wrong (read “Billions and Billions”) he made me sit up and listen. 

So, in writing every day, in digging deep to find things from my head to talk about, I think I’ve unlocked how to properly lie to you people and tell you everything about me.  

Management Advice

“How do you tell someone they smell so bad that no one wants to work with them?”

Dewey leaned against the host station, his chin in his hand, and looked outside to his restaurant’s empty parking lot.

“I have no idea,” Sarah answered. She paid more attention to her clipboard than Dewey, wanting to be sure her seating diagram matched the dining room in time for the dinner rush.

He turned to look at Sarah, using his hand as a pivot for his chin. “You have to know who I’m talking about.”

“That’d be Beau,” she said. “I used to be a server, you know.”

People complained they could smell him over the food he served them from the grill.

“It is awful hot in the kitchen,” Dewey offered. He resumed checking the empty parking lot.

This time she put down her clipboard. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“We cook with fire, Sarah.”

“He smells like a dumpster fire, Dewey.”

He sighed. “Yeah. He kinda does.”

She went back to work. “He’s at his prep station now.”

He turned sharply. “How do you know?”

She pinched the bridge of her nose lightly. “Just go into the kitchen, Dewey.”

The tendons of Beau’s forearm went taut as he slammed the cleaver through the side of beef just as Dewey came through the swinging double doors into the kitchen. Dewey stopped wrinkling his nose when he saw Beau smiling brightly at him. Dewey saw the big knife, took a deep breath and cursed his timing.

“You got a minute, Beau?”

“Sure! You want to meet in your office.”

“No!” Dewey said quickly. “Let’s go into the kitchen. By the grill. It’s more private there.”

“I got a problem, Beau,” Dewey said loudly. He stood with his back to the grill, under the exhaust hood that whooshed the smoke from the grill out of the kitchen. “The servers are having a hard time coming into the kitchen.”

Beau frowned. “I keep it clean, Boss. You know that. I come in early. On my own time.”

“Oh, yeah. I know that. But still. They are complaining.”

It was Beau’s turn to smile. He crossed his arms and stood on one foot, with the opposite one supporting him by the toe. “I don’t blame them. I kinda smell.”

“I’ve had the problem my whole life,” he said. “You know it’s bad when you can smell yourself.”

He went on to explain that he knew everyone knew about it but no one ever came out and said anything. So he went with it.

“I shower three times a day, Boss,” he finished. “But I stopped wearing deodourant years ago.”

“What do you think should be done?” Dewey asked. He took a step towards Beau, out from under the roar of the exhaust hood.

A few minutes later, Sarah watched Dewey walk Beau out the front door. She smacked Dewey on the back as he watched Beau go off down the street.

“You fired him for smelling? That’s cold, Dewey.”

He looked over his shoulder at her. “Frewer’s is open,” he said. Frewer’s was the drugstore down the street. “They have stronger deodourant than what Beau was used to using. I gave him some extra cash to go buy a few and see which one works best.”

“You told him?”

“Turns out the best way to tell someone they smell is just tell them they smell,” Dewey said, watching three cars pull into spaces.

“You take care of the customers,” he said, pointing to the two couples and ones family that headed towards the door. “I’ll get the kitchen going.”

 

To The Guy Who Honked At Me

I didn’t make that left turn fast enough for you so you felt obliged to ride my bumper and honk at me.

I, for one, am very happy you honked at me. If not, I would not have had anything to write about, and I’ve been in a slump for the past week.

Thanks to your honk, I’ve been able to write something and have a great start to my Monday morning. Sorry yours is not so good. It’s all a matter of how you look at it.

It’s unfortunate that you are in a rush. But honking won’t make things better.

And if you are rushed because you’ll be disciplined for chronic lateness, then maybe you better take a look at your morning schedule and change things up a little then.

If life is too busy and too complicated to be able to get to work on time, then maybe you should look for another job that fits with your hours.

If you can’t find a better job because you don’t have enough experience, then maybe you should make a plan to change that.

If you don’t know where to start with that plan, maybe speak with a professional or even a member of your church or something (and that is quite serious – pastors and priests are immensely helpful in pointing you in the right direction).

But, if instead of taking a hard look at yourself and maybe making a change for the good, parking on my bumper and laying on the horn is how you deal with all of your issues, then have at it. I’m glad to be here and help.

Then again, sometimes a honk is just a honk.

 

Confrontation

N.B. This is my first post in three days. Sorry about that. This wasn’t a stumble as much as it was an interruption due to illness – I get terrible headaches, but we can talk about that later. In the meantime, on with the show.

I gotta warn you, I am going to be using very, very coarse language. Not to gratify it, but it illustrate how shocking it all was.

I guess I shook my head in disgust one too many times.

The TV was tuned to CNN and the latest news of children separated from their parents in the US due to the immigration laws, how Trump blamed the Democrats and how the Chief Justice used the Bible to justify the actions of the state. I keep my headphone volume at maximum when I exercise and only read the screen while I rested between sets.

As I exercised, I remembered a conversation I had a few years ago when I took a TS 16949 training course in The States.

We had been on our lunch break in the little cafeteria, watching news on the big screen. The trainers had provided a nice box lunch. Somehow the topic came around to ‘the right to bear arms’ so I asked why guns were so important.

“Because,” one guy had piped up. Big guy. Ex military. Still carried his bulk with him but he was less active, so it seemed to weight heavy. “The government shouldn’t have weapons that I am not allowed to have. I protect the constitution and the people first and if I have to fight against the government, it should be my right that it’s a fair fight.”

When my workout ended, I took off my headphones, checked my pulse on my watch, and did a mindfullness check to confirm how I felt – burned out and wonderful. The long rest helped me hit the weights hard.

“You got a problem with Trump?” A guy asked. He looked older. I guessed in his late fifties or or early sixties. He must have seen me shaking my head at the TV.

“Um, well,” I said. I felt like the Terminator from the first movie. Three possible responses to choose from, in red, courier font, float in front of me:

  1. “Yeah, I got problem with Trump. What are you going to do about it?”

  2. “No, I think Donald Trump is wonderful. What colour is the sky in your world, sir?”

  3. “Sorry, but…”

As a devout Canadian, I started with, “Sorry, but….”

I explained how I have problems with anyone who’s policies are designed to deliberately inflict harm. “If you open fire using Twitter and trade wars, that’s one thing. But to put kids in by separating them from their mothers is another. I wonder what makes him think that his ends justify his means.”

“I’m a fan of Trump,” he boasted, pointing a thumb at his chest. “He’s not a stupid man.”

“I never called him stupid,” I countered. “I only questioned his decisions.”

“Listen, he wasn’t handed his money. He made it in real estate, and you know he’s got brains because he outsmarted all of them [people] in New York.”

He used a racial epithet that I’m not inclined to repeat. I will curse until I’m blue in the face, but I won’t use hateful language to describe a culture. I walked away. He followed.

“Look at all the money that Crooked Hillary took when she did all of her speaking engagements. Hundreds of millions of dollars. Trump took nothing compared to that.”

I tried to ignore him and fill up my water bottle.

“So, if it’s wasn’t for the United States, you know where we’d be right now?” He asked me, ignorant of my ignoring him. “The world owes them alot of money.”

I continued to fill up my water bottle, thinking about that former marine from years ago.

“And don’t get me started on that faggot, Trudeau,” the old guy went on. He may have had a point there, about how someone who crosses over the border into Canada is compensated better than someone who has put their life on the line for our country. But he didn’t have to use slurs to get his point across.

The gym is a public place and I didn’t feel the need to have this aired among everyone if he didn’t appear to be open to discussion. At least the marine took the time to explain things to a Canadian who didn’t know a lick about home firepower.

“I don’t disagree, I just don’t know enough to simply take your word for it.”

He continued using hateful language to describe people from other countries. I grabbed my gym bag, signalling I was getting ready to shower and change. “You’re right, if it’s true, it is terrible.”

“You’re calling me a liar?”

“I’m saying I don’t know enough to be able to see the truth.”

His turn now to shake his head in disgust. “Spoken like a true politician.”

I showered and changed and got ready to leave the gym. I saw him on the way out and wanted to wish him a good day and hope we could talk about it when I learned more. He walked away like I wasn’t even there. It’s been a few days, he doesn’t even look me in the eye anymore.

I still shake my head whenever I don’t like something on CNN, though. And I keep my headphones at full volume the whole time – right up until I lock the changeroom door behind me.