Friday, July 5, 2019

Books Read, Midway Through 2019 Edition

I realize I totally fell off the logging-the-books-I've-read train, both on this blog and in general. I failed to keep track of about half my reading for 2018, which is a shame, as I've found it to be a useful habit. 

I need reading glasses. So far Zooey doesn't.

For 2019, I'm back to being consistent in logging the books I read. In 2017 and 2018, I found myself reading less, partially due to my job and other real-life interruptions. I was also getting more tired when reading, and I didn't know why. A few months ago I had my answer: A routine physical revealed that I needed reading glasses! Now I get less tired when reading, no doubt because I'm not having to work so hard. The funny thing is my vision issues developed so gradually I barely noticed them.

Without further ado, here is my Books Read list for the midway point of 2019. A quick glance will show that fantasy and philosophy have been the dominant themes so far this year. That is by no means unusual for me.


  • Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings
  • The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
  • Enchanter’s End Game by David Eddings
  • Fool Me Twice by Matthew Hughes
  • Fools Errant by Matthew Hughes
  • Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz
  • Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings
  • Night of Madness by Lawrence Watt-Evans
  • The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz
  • Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
  • Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
  • The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
  • Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
  • Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce


  • Ancient Magic: A Practitioner's Guide to the Supernatural in Greece and Rome by Philip Matyszak
  • The Tao of WU by RZA
  • Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life by Edith Hall
  • A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe by Todd May
  • Staying Alive: How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters by Safe Havens International Inc
  • Fight Like a Physicist: The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts by Jason Thalken

Friday, June 14, 2019

Back to Swings!

There are so many functional, fun exercises you can do with kettlebells that it can be easy to forget the wonderfulness of the classic two-handed swing. Lately, I've been concentrating on doing lots of swings, specifically 300 per workout, nearly every day.

Can you see why swings are so effective?
I start my workout with five minutes of meditation, followed by some joint mobility work and the Eischens yoga beginner's sequence. Then it's on to swings. I use a 24 kg kettlebell, and alternate between sets of 15 and 35 swings. (Hat tip to Dan John for the rep scheme.) Rest periods between sets us about 30 seconds to a minute. Once I hit 300 swings, I'm done, though I sometimes do a few sets of slow pull-ups if I'm up to it.

Why 300 swings? It seems like a nice, golden mean sort of number. I've done 200 swings in a workout many times before, and wanted something more difficult. On the other hand, going the 500 swings route popularized in various 10,000 swing challenges strikes me as a bit too exhausting, especially since I want to have enough energy to to other activities such as swimming, running, and martial arts. 

I've been doing the 300 swings workout pretty much every day this week before heading to work and I feel great. My entire posterior chain feels activated. I'll probably continue doing this for a few weeks and see how it pans out.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Educational Beatdowns

I just stumbled onto a great article by Greg Ellifritz on the Active Response Training website about a very common but often misunderstand form of violence, "the educational beatdown." As he notes in the article: 
"If you don’t interact with cultures who embrace violence as a problem solving technique you assume that everyone is like you.  You assume that if you offend someone (accidentally or otherwise), there will not be any physical consequences. It’s only surprising because you don’t understand that some groups have different 'rules' than your group has." 

I cannot stress how important this concept is. I frequently come across nice, educated, middle-class people who only associate with other nice, educated, middle-class people in nice, middle-class neighborhoods. They sometimes think they can act rudely and get away with it because, in general, they can. But if they venture out of their nice, middle-class comfort zone, they will find that the penalties for improper behavior can be more serious. 

To quote Rory Miller: 
"There are places in the United States where if you do something rude and improper you will get disapproving looks and people will whisper about you. They might snub you in the coffee room or not invite you to go bowling. And there are places in the U. S. where doing something that society considers rude will get you beaten without a second thought."
Do you think that’s wrong? Barbaric? Uncivilized? Maybe you’re right. But you know what? Being “right” probably won’t make you feel better as you are being beaten up for failing to realize that different people follow different rules than you do.

As the article concludes: "Be smart.  Don’t act like an asshole.  Don’t be condescending or insulting to people who live in an environment where violence is the consequence when you screw up. Understanding these 'rules' will keep you out of a lot of trouble."

Sound advice.