Monday, February 08, 2010

Frankton School Playground

And they didn't even get hurt!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weighted Sit-ups

So, a funny thing happened the other day while working out. Luckily, a camera just happened to be rolling.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The 3-month Mark

I gave myself a year to get where I want to be. I'm keeping my estimates conservative as I know I may burn out and need a break that might slow me down. But the good news is that after 3 months I'm on track and feel no signs of burn-out yet. The better news is that as of 2 months ago, Hiromi has joined in the quest for fitness and we are having a lot of fun working out together.

Hiromi and I have both quadrupled most of our lifts over the last 2 months. Hiromi has gone from being able to deadlift about 25 pounds to multiple reps at over 100. In squats, she went from having joint pain doing squats with no weight, to now doing multiple reps of 65 pounds, pain free. Yeah Hiromi!

You don't want pictures of us, so here's two of the kids. Kai and Kikyo both deadlifted 20 pounds last week. I'm not helping... just there as a spotter. Good for them.

We're not trying to lose weight right now, but rather we are trying to gain muscle. Though we don't exactly want to gain weight either. With Fall coming, the urge to eat seems to be upon us. But lots of spinach salad dinners and oat breakfasts are helping to keep the weight steady. I'm very happy with our fitness effort so far.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Journal of Getting in Shape #2

The journey gets more interesting. There are so many different ideas about "the right way" to work out, that it almost turns the science into an art-- or a religion. I have no intention of becoming a preacher, so I will stay away from the debatable parts. But there are things that most people agree on. Here are some that I have now experienced for myself.

Planning is a good thing. The way most people work out, is to do whatever they think of as exercise from when they were growing up. Some people think aerobics and turn to Tai bo or running. Some people remember push-ups from gym class and vow to do sets of them every day, etc. Such things have benefit, but in most cases, it is only a small fraction of the benefit one can get from a well planned use of their time. 50 push-ups per day, for example, is no where near as good for you as 50 push-ups every 3-4 days with rest in between.

Rest is very important. Muscles don't grow when you exercise. They grow when you rest after exercising. And, it takes 3 to 4 days of rest. This is why planning is so important. If you exercise your arms and shoulders on Monday, you should not exercise them again until Thursday at the soonest. Do legs or abdomen in the mean time. But it's not just the individual muscles that need rest. You also need real relaxation and plenty of sleep. It takes a lot out of your body to build muscle. If you tax your body too much on other things, it will put muscle building on hold.

Appropriately planned exercise feels good. If you loath exercise, it is probably because you have had bad experiences in the past. Usually this is related to doing too much, too quickly, or with bad form. For your first week of a new exercise program you should not work any muscle to the point of fatigue. Start very slow or you can easily find that the next day you are nearly crippled with stiffness and pain. But in as little as a week or two, you can start testing your limits on the safer exercises.

Protein suppliments are good. Building muscle occurs when the body repairs damage done to muscles during exercise. When muscle cells are pulled apart, the body builds them back stronger. And muscle is mostly made of protein. This protein is delivered via blood. And there is a window of about an hour after exercising where the body is especially active in trying to use protein from the blood to rebuild muscle. You could eat a can of tuna and a raw egg before and after your workout. Or, you could have a whey protein shake right after your workout for a similar effect.

Progress can happen very quickly. After your first week or two of a real sustained effort, you will feel noticably stronger. You will have a much easier time finishing your reps. In another week or two after that, what took you an hour to do with many breaks might start taking you 30 minutes or less. Soon, you can be essentially continually lifting through a series of several exercises with only a few seconds of rest between sets. And you will know your own strength as relates to the weights, so each different exercise will be dialed in to give the muscles involved a really good (but not overdone) workout. I have a feeling it gets better from there, but I'm not there yet. This is about week 5 for me.

To be continued.

Last Pics From Japan

Obaasan found a nice way to move bring kids out shopping.

Kikyo has her fair share of trips too,

when she wasn't hanging out in the shade of the kerosene tank.

Kouki was a walking Disneyland.

And Kikyo had no trouble with the local cuisine,

though Obaasan sometimes helped anyway.

Kai tried his hand at bowling.


Got some!

Kouki and his mom, Yukie smiled for the camera,

as did everyone else.

And then the trip was over... This is Kai playing in the sprinklers back in Oregon.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Broccoli. 100, 200.

My quest for a better spinach salad continues. But I didn't have any spinach last time I wanted to try one. So I used a pound of little broccoli tips. I suspect that anything you would normally make with spinach will succeed with broccoli too. Different, but good nonetheless.

I thought it would take longer to get here, but I've made it to 100 push-ups and 200 sit-ups. I think that's enough for what I want to do. It took me over an hour to get them done the first day that I did that many. But it's down to 30 minutes now. Sweet! I didn't expect to reach that point for another month or so.

And more good news... I didn't give away my barbells after all. I found them in my disused relequary. Well, disused closet anyway. Today is my first day for real curls. Will it hurt like hell tomorrow after the first real workout for a new set of muscles? Or, will the push-ups and sit-ups somehow help? Only one way to find out.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Journal of Getting in Shape

I was looking for a picture of myself to include in my Japan post. There were few to choose from because the camera tends to point away from the person pushing the button. But then I noticed something... I did show up in 2-3 pictures, but not as myself... I showed up as some fat guy that only vaguely resembled me. How and when did that happen?

This is not some self-absorbed "I'm not pretty anymore" post. I have none of those kinds of self-esteem problems. But I did decide it would be good to get myself into better shape. So here is a journal of that effort.

May 18, 2009: Weight: 215 pounds. It would sound better to say, weight is the same as Michael Jordan's weight when he was at the peak of his game. But unfortunately I'm not 6' 7" tall. Typical foods: hamburgers and similar sandwiches, steak, tacos, pizza, brocolli beef or sweet and sour chicken. Typical amounts: No breakfast. Sometimes no lunch. Then lots for dinner. (Ah... so that's how it happened.)

Week of May 18 - 24: Started simple exercises with a chart: Monday + Thursday: Pushups. Tuesday and Friday: Situps. Wednesday: Curls. Only did 45 pushups or 75 situps depending on the day. Have no proper weights for curls, so used a PowerMac G4 which was too heavy, so I only did 10. Started to focus on food. Switched to chicken soft tacos for a couple of lunches. Walked to safeway to buy a banana for others.

Week of May 25 - 31: Managed to increase to 75 pushups and 90 situps. Searched for my weights... Did I give them away? Can't find them anywhere. Did deep knee bends instead. The point is to exercise a different set of muscles on a 3 day cycle. This should give the muscles a chance to heal and grow between workouts. (Thanks to my friend Allen Sneidmiller from 12 years ago in Korea for that tip... It's a good one.) Also focused more on food. Looked at and bought a whey protein suppliment. It's basically a multi-vitamin with 50 grams of protein included. Why not?

May 27: Made a great wilted spinach salad. Stir-fried about 3 oz. of thin sliced steak. Cleaned and threw a big bunch of still-wet spinach in the pan and covered it. Paul Neuman's light vinagrette... Easy, healthy, and good.

May 30: Bought a book, "Men's Health Home Workout Bible", on the recommendation of my friend Jay Carter. I'll let you all know if it's worth the read once it gets here. But working out, like anything else, can be done well or poorly. It seems wise to hear what one or two experts has to say, to hopefully get the most out of the effort involved.

May 31: Dug about 2 cubic yards of hard clay dirt. Mixed it with about 3 yards of compost and other ingerdients. That was about 4 hours of fairly aerobic exercise with some lifting in the middle. Had lemonade througout, and a protein shake when I finished. More wilted spinach salad for dinner. Weight: 204 pounds. Nice to see 11 pounds lost over 2 weeks, but I know the first 2 weeks are the easiest. It gets harder from here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Editor's Note: Bah! I know the layout is a bit messed up... Maybe I'll fix it some day... Maybe not.

Start to finish, it was a 32 hour trip to Goshogawara where Obaasan lives. Obaasan is Japanese for Grandma. Kai and Kikyo travelled very well... All except about the last 6 hours. And when we finally arrived, they slept like a pile of angles.

This gave us a chance to meet Tako and Akemi. We met a lot of other friends too, but didn't manage to get pictures. It was a very photo-deficient trip.

Hiromi's brother, Hisaki, took us to the Kanagi Cherry Blossom Festival. There are no blossoms in sight because we just got out of the car.

Kai is quite a little photographer. Here is a picture he took of a neighbor's flowers.

Kikyo took a break in the sun during a morning walk. Behind her is a long wide flood plain that is used as a park for the 99.5% of the time it is not flooded.

Kai got a haircut from a professional stylist who is a friend of Hiromi's... I probably shouldn't have picked this particular "before and after" set, because Kai's hair looks better in the before. But I promise there are plenty of other pics that proove it was a good thing.

We had lunch at in Hirosaki before the Hirosaki Chreey Blossom Festival. I think Hiromi's brother, Noriyasu, took this picture.

Obaasan was very happy to finally meet Kikyo. Here they are together in a big yellow tent full of carnival games.

At public events in Japan, there are usually lots of food vendors. One popular choice something like a melon sherbet in a cone... Calling it sherbet is not exactly right. It is definitely nothing like a snow cone, and quite a bit like ice cream. But it has no milk, so Kai is not allergic to it. They simply call it "ice".

Here is Kikyo on a double slide at a park in Aomori.

Kikyo is a brave little climber, much like Kai was at her age. Here she is making her way across a pipe to get to a really big slide.

Kai, Kikyo, and I visited our friend Meg while Hiromi went in to get her driver's license renewed. Japan's asinine bureaucracy made this an all morning task. Here we are walking a very nice boardwalk through a true swamp. Lots of creatures all around.

Kikyo played in the water.

And so did Kai. (Yes, we did have a change of clothes... Lucky boy!)

There was much more... But few photos. That's life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Theories on Blogging

Have you ever noticed how a lot of blogs don’t get updated often? First, there are the 70% of blogs that get started only to be permanently abandoned within weeks once the author realizes that “blogging” is just not in their personality. Then there are the blogs, like this one, that exist for a reason… In this case, to let friends and family in far places know what is happening, and (let’s face it) to show pictures of the kids.

But the trouble is that the blogger (that’s me) is having lots of fun with his kids, and can see them whenever he wants. So it isn’t exactly a priority to find the mini-USB cable that Kikyo may have dragged off somewhere so that he can dump pictures onto the computer, and then pick out the best couple of them, and bring them into Photoshop to crop and color-adjust, etc. That just isn’t the priority… You, reader, are not the priority.

Have you ever noticed how bloggers chide each other… But, for example, when one blogger goes for 6 months without updating his blog, he never feels right chiding the other blogger until he puts a post of his own up? But it’s like a license. Even if you update your blog once a year, you have license to chide other neglectful bloggers for about a month after you update your own.

Well, I guess I now qualify. Who shall I chide?

Friday, July 04, 2008


Any plumbing job that involves less than three trips to the store for that "one little piece I forgot" is a success. And by that measure, I just made it. :-)

A few weeks ago, we bought a used 1 hp centrifugal pump from Dyke and Tina Dye, hoping to make better use of the surface water on our property for irrigation (Thanks Dyke and Tina). It was my first 240 volt wiring job. The funny thing about wiring in a 240 volt pump is how simple it is... So I was a little surprised when after hooking everything up, the power wouldn't turn back on. I spent about half an hour looking at every connection to see what the heck I did wrong. Finally, we found out that a car just happened to take out a power line down the street while I had the power off. Very funny.

This kind of thing happens enough to me that I think God is generally benevolent, but must also enjoy sit-coms. As for the pump:

We tucked it under the deck...

Hooked in the various fittings...

Built a cage to keep leaves and such off the foot valve...

And, Eureka!


We thought we would try those crazy tomato water greenhouses this year. So far, so good.

And, the blueberries are almost ready! These are the Blueray variety.

Kaiger Woods

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Kikyo: "Say what?"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Things That Have Been Happening

We gave Kikyo a bath just before her birthday. She liked it so much, we may let her have a bath every year.

Remember when there was snow... It wasn't too long ago here. (And an even less distant memory we hear, for some people we know.)

Kai went through a brief "ear-muffs" phase. We're not 100% sure he is done with this phase either.

Kikyo prefrred a fuzzy hat.

And Kai learned to fly.

And we had a visit from McKenna. I hope I spelled her name right.

Dayton came too.

As they were packing to leave, we caught Kikyo trying to pack Kai up to go with them.

Now that it is Spring, Kai is helping in the yard.

And Kikyo has become a biker chick.

She's quite a climber too... Just like Kai.

Kai is impressed when flowers are as big as he is.

Kikyo is trying new fasions.

And Kai likes to take pictures of everything, including his yummy no-cheese pizza.

Now you know the things that have been happening.