You Have Value

I truly believe that every person ever born, in no matter what era or location, has a purpose, worth, and value. Sadly, very few realize their worth and potential, while some choose to use their talents for evil. Some have natural talents for leadership. Ghandi used his to overthrow British rule through non-violent protest. Napoleon, Alexander, and Hitler used theirs to conquer and terrorize the world of their day.

Various philosophies and religions have teachings about the value of people. Often they relate the worth with the soul. So have lessened the value by concentrating only on “winning” the soul to their Savior or path to enlightenment. Souls that do not choose to follow this path are lost and some believe they have no value. They are incorrect. Any soul contained in the body of anyone has value. Man is not created without worth.

Other views regard this existence as merely consciousness having an experience. This view is just another part of the puzzle of reality, not the end all construct. The conscience (soul) of each person does use the body as a vehicle to experience life, learn and acquire knowledge, and leave its influence on the Universe. Whether one believes in the cycling of consciousness through multiple lives or the single passing of one life, each Person has value. They have a mix of talents and will not seen before, nor will it be seen afterward. Each Person. Each Soul. Each Life is unique and worthy of being treated with the Respect and Love shown a priceless object.

Sadly, many who do not see their own worth wish to strangle and deny worth to others. They are small people and they will use all manner of destructive means to harm the Soul of others. They will tell children they have no value. They will throw children away do to inconvenience. They will neglect those for whom they are charged to grow and nurture. Sometimes the abuse is subtle, other times the scars are visible. Whether intellectual, emotional, physical, or mental, the results of abuse are the same: the target Person feels and believes they have no Value, no Worth, no Future, no Purpose.  False.

It is the responsibility of the Individual to understand their gifts, use them to discovery their Purpose, their Why, and choose to use the Knowledge for the betterment of the Universe. Love flowing from Purpose and Worth creates the most beautiful of futures for everyone. It is only through such use, such exploration, that the Eternal Hope can be realized. As put in 1 Corinthians 13:13 – Now remain these three: Faith, Hope, and Love. The Greatest of these is Love.

It is through Love that Jesus walked upon the Earth. It is Love he showed to all who sought, rebuking only the religious who had defained the House of God and His message. He summed all of the Law in “Love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, and strength, and Love your neighbor has yourself.” This tenant requires one to first have Love for themselves in order to Love others in the same way. It requires one realizes they have Value so they may help others to find theirs. It requires Love to flow from an unquenchable source. One cannot claim to have Value at the expense of others. One’s Value flows outward in Love and Creation, not Hate and Destruction.

Every Creation has Worth, Value, and Purpose. Every Soul has a Choice. Choose wisely.

 

Adding Endurance To The Legs

Ski season is very quickly approaching and I’ve been hitting strength training for months now. It started with doing 5×5 until my knees needed more time to recover than just a day or two. I tried lowering to 3×5, but that too showed a top out too soon. I then came across 5-3-1 on the MultiYear App on my iPhone. This offered some more variety and gave my joints time to recover.

Alternating 3 to 4 weeks of 5-3-1 with 2 weeks of 5×5 has been working well. I am finally nearing Lightly Trained, though I seem to have plateaued a bit over the last few weeks. My deadlift is now over body weight on the heavy work set. My squat is getting very close to 200 pounds and I look forward to the attempt. My bench press is approaching 150 pounds. As my left shoulder is in need of some rehabilitation, I’ve added strengthening exercises for the shoulders.

The 5-3-1 workout by itself is quite short and has very few exercises. I’ve been adding a few for targeting muscles a bit more, add some more fat burning potential, or to strengthen supporting muscles. The workouts are 20-30 minutes which helps me get back to my life. As much as I like being in the gym, I really have other things to do. Ok, at least a few.

Late last week, a fellow gym goer was complaining about his current leg workout. He has a desire to improve it. He hasn’t been doing full squats long and seems to have hit a bit of a wall. Last October I blogged about Roger Lockridge’s grueling leg workout that was given in the May issue of Iron Man Magazine. I mentioned it to him and he seemed interested.

Since I use the app on my iPhone to also track my rest time, I flipped over to Safari and found the post. While I was doing my next set, I let him read the article, in particular the workout. He had one simple reaction, “Holy cow!”

I’ve been wanting to add more endurance to my training. I’ve tried a little cardio here and there, using an interval style. While it works, it is too boring. Skiing requires a mix of strength and endurance, and this workout gives both due to the volume and low rest periods.

One starts by using the leg extension and leg curl machines to warm up and stretch. No pre-exhaust here. That’s good ’cause my knees no longer care for the high weights for the leg extensions before squats. Next comes a strength via pyramiding the weight and reducing the reps through 10, 5, 3, 1. This pattern is done twice and rest between sets is 90 seconds. This is strength oriented.

The next three sections of the workout are more geared toward endurance. A superset on leg presses with two different foot positions gives a new meaning to “feeling the burn”. There is no rest between the sets in each super, though there is 1 minute of rest between supers. One does three supersets, with the reps for each set inside them being 15, 12, 10. That is, 15 reps with the feet high and then 15 with the feet low. Yeah, endurance.

The finishing sets of leg extensions, curls and then calf raises to really give the legs a push through. I look forward to having a partner for this workout. As we will most likely do different weights for these, I’m doubtful we will be watching the clock for rest. As soon as one finishes, it will be time to change the weights and let the other get the reps in. It will be brutal. I can’t wait.

 

Opening To The Universe

A few weeks ago I had a call with my good friend Peter Hobler. Since meeting him via Carbon Copy Pro, Peter has become a motivational speaker and personal development coach. I was in need of a nudge or two, and Peter knows me well enough to be helpful and blunt. The kind of advice to which I react best.

I had been in a fog for some time and needed some help. I’ve felt like something big  was just about to break through the haze, but I had no idea what it is. The fear that kept it away told me just how big it is. I write is, because it isn’t totally here yet, though parts are starting to be revealed and it is truly exciting.

Peter suggested I do a simple exercise. On one sheet of paper, write down everything I don’t want anymore. All the negative things in my life: debit, being angry, pessimism, confusion. The idea is to put everything down and not to hold anything back. Once complete, get another clean sheet of paper and write down everything I do want: financial freedom, success for my children, meaningfulness from life, satisfaction with my work. To help remove the negative items from your mind, a good idea is to burn the list. The action is quite cathartic. Release all the negative energy into Universe, not to return.

My negative list felt too short, so instead of burning what may have been a complete list, I did something different for the positive. I put into the Ether to be shown what to release. I’ve been listening to the companion CDs for the Working With the Law by Raymond Holliwell. The idea of getting from Life and the Universe what you desire requires the same energy to be put in. One Law is the Law of Attraction, one of the strongest and well known law. What one puts out, one will get in return. I want to know every source of negative energy so that I may release and stop creating it. Each day a new one arises. As I am sensitive to the response, each one opens my eyes. Each one is a new opportunity to grow and know more of who I really am.

The last few weeks have been a truly incredible time and each day brings more enlightenment. I don’t know where it is all going, nor do I know where it will end. Discovering each day where I need to grow and what I need to release is both exciting and terrifying. All of it is necessary to reach the success I desire. The success my family deserves. The success that is required for me to have the most positive impact on the World and leave my mark of Love.

Understand What, Then Build

Search around the Web these days and it is easy to find all manner of self-help-isms that tell about starting with Why or to make a dream so large that seeing it consumes and drives you or to take massive action. All of these are great advice, but all of them lack a simple, often overlooked part. Before any of that can be done, one must understand What. What is the goal? What is going to be built?

When a clear, end goal is not known, a plan that has an end cannot be designed. Therefore, something cannot be built. All too often, people will start a new endeavor with goals such as “get debt free,” “spend more time with the family,” “go on vacation.” All of these are excellent goals, but none of them define What you are building. And no, the goal “to change the world” isn’t any better.

Deciding what to build can be quite easy and small. For instance, suppose one wants to build small business. Many times these are built on dreams, not reality. First, what kind of business? For this example, let’s say it is a flower shop. How big and located where? Will it be a specialty shop or general flowers? Who will be the targeted clientele? How many employees? What skills should they possess?

Define it. One step at a time.

For the flower shop, massive action may include market research to understand where the shop should be located and how to reach the target audience. Starting with Why will generate motivation when times go slowly or tough, a message to which customers can relate, and a direction to reach them.  Understanding What to build will make the dream not only real, but give it tangibility.

Understand exactly What you want to Build, then Build.

 

Brainmuffin: The Renaissance (Polymath) Nerd

NERD
NERD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Europe had several periods of Renaissance starting in the 12th century. It is the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century with which many are familiar. During the later period, a person who had expertise in several areas of study was called a Polymath. The common term that later came to use was Renaissance Man.

Computer Nerd

Over the years my areas of study and interest has been varied. In high school, as I was too shy to ask girls out, computers became my first interest. Though we didn’t own one, I knew several people who did and my school in Maryland (Smithsburg High School) had an Apple ][, while my high school in Germany (Patch American High School) had Atari 800s. Friends had these as well as Vic 20 and Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. Through all these varied machines, I learned aspects of BASIC. I also learned a bit of PILOT and LOGO. Thousands of lines of code were written on paper and never typed in. I made my own adventure games and even a few graphics ones. Mid-way through my senior year I finally got over my nerves and asked a girl out on a date. Thus a second subject of study entered my life.

My major in college was Computer Science. One does not get much more nerd than that, do they? College  focused and channeled my analyzing skills and matured my coding practice. My interest in Math also expanded and it nearly became a minor. Learning from where various formulas that I had learned over the years derived open a new world. Math explained so much about the underpinnings of the Universe. Women remained unsolved, even after I met my wife.

My Own Beer

In the early 90s I took a job at the University of Tennessee in the Library Systems department. Though I went there to offer my skills for their various development needs, my world would soon expand into the area of homebrew beer. The first few batches were nothing to write home about, but with more practice and research, I was soon being asked questions by those who got me started. When I moved to Marion, Ohio to work for Macola Software, there too I had homebrewers who had been at it for years asking me how I did things. True, I was still using extract, but the recipes were mine and showed my talents for cooking. Over the years my expertise would expand to amateur judging and all grain. I even had Charlie Papazian answer tweets and get me started as the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner. If you want to while away some time talking about beer, I’m all ears (and mouth).

Lift Them Weights

I was first introduced to lifting iron in 7th grade gym class. I wouldn’t get another fix for a couple more years when my dad brought a used weight set home. In 1983, the move to Germany meant they went to storage and I lifted very little. I would not start lifting seriously again until the summer of 1990.

The second foray into weight lifting slowly grew into an obsession. The first catalyst was purchasing a copy of Muscle and Fitness. Though I had little variety in equipment, the magazine had ideas I could adapt and meals gave me ideas on what to eat. Eventually, I was eating a great deal more and taking the occasional weight gainer. Weider’s magazine had information on many areas and I was an adept student.

My first gym membership came in 1994. Here I had access to lots of free weights and great machines. Over the next few years I would gain 20 pounds, mostly muscle. I hovered in the mid-190s in weight for years, but I never did get to body weight on bench press, squat and dead lift. Most of the routines I was doing were of the higher, lighter weight variety.

Time passed and we moved a few times more. Gym memberships came and went, though I did buy 200 pounds of dumbbells along the way. For much of that time, I thought there not much left to learn about weight lifting. About two years ago, I again starting reading Iron Man Magazine. The writers had changed since my last subscription and many of them were in their 40s and 50s. As joints were no longer up to heavy lifting, the routines reflected a switch to higher volume with less rest. Starting what I could at home, I rebuilt muscle and drop some weight. A membership at a new gym was soon added and my journey from 200 to 217 began.

Over the course of this year, my knowledge expanded into the area of StrongLift’s 5×5. After some prodding my a co-worker, I finally gave it a try. As I was used to lighter weights, I started low. Eventually though, I would hit body weight on dead lift, with squats closed behind. As for bench, my left shoulder needs more strengthening before that will happen. 135 pounds offers a very good workout at 5 reps and 3 sets.

Nutrition has also expanded in knowledge and I’ve dropped my body fat from 28% to 20%. The struggle becomes tougher here though and the goal is 15%. I’m collecting all the knowledge I can to get lower without sacrificing the muscle I’ve gained.

And women?

I have learned much there too and what I know I cannot share. Their quirks no longer frustrate and I’ve turned it into entertainment. Motivating people is still difficult.

Long way nerd

The journey over over 30 years has taken this nerd a long way. Yeah, I’m still dorky and those who know me don’t hesitate to remind me. I can still talk your ear off, especially about computers, programming, beer, fitness, nutrition, cars, the weather, the law of cosines, the beauty in Calculus…..

 

Mutating The Recipe

Over the preceding year I’ve tried numerous protein powders. Some were good and some not so. My post workout shake has changed a bit over that same time, though the differing formulas were mostly due to the lack of ingredients.

This past week I started taking the Mutant Whey protein powder. As I like to mix to get my 2 scoops in the shake, I ordered Triple Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream from Vitacost. One scoop of each goes into the shake. While I’ve heard all manner of claims to the taste of this protein powder or that, I was surprised with the Mutant brand in that although it contains BCAAs and glutamine, it does have a good taste. It also mixes well and combines with other ingredients to form a smooth, frothy shake.

The New Recipe

It is a bit early to fully tell, but Mutant may become my new protein brand. After two days, I can already tell a difference. I’ve also purchased some unflavored creatine powder so that 5 grams may be added to the mix. Time to add everything together into something grand.

The ingredients list:

  • 2 cups of 2% milk
  • some ice cubes (usually 5-7)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 scoop of Triple Chocolate Mutant Whey
  • 1 scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream Mutant Whey
  • 1 round teaspoon of Six Star Nutrition unflavored Creatine
  • 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt with active cultures
  • 1 tablespoon of Chia/Flax mix
  • 1/8 cup almonds
  • 1/8 cup walnuts

Place everything in a blender and mix until desired consistency. Tends to mix to a bit over 1 liter in volume. Depending on how much fruit and nuts you add, the calories will be around 1,000.

 

Product Review: SuperPump 3.0 And Assault

The September Jacked-In-A-Box from Muscle and Fitness magazine contained several pre-workout products and SuperPump 3.0 by Gaspari Nutrution and Assault by MusclePharm are two of them. By due contain some amount of caffeine, so those sensitive to it need to take some note.

SuperPump 3.0

The strawberry kiwi blast flavored pre-workout packet contains 2 servings. The instructions state to first take a single serving in order to test sensitivity. As I’ve been taking pre-workouts for awhile, I figured I should be ok. Well, I wasn’t. This stuff kicked in really soon and kept me up for hours (I workout in the evenings after a day of work). The taste wasn’t too bad and it is not sweet. It almost seems to have an artificial sweetener, but I’m not sure. None seems to be listed.

Overall, SuperPump 3.0 by Gaspari Nutrition dissolves well in a shaker bottle. The taste is good and smooth. I found that it only took about 5 minutes before I good feel tingling and activation. For workouts under an hour, a single dose is more than enough. If you want to workout longer, my suggestion is to take a single dose about 30 minutes before the workout and then a second halfway. Don’t overdo it or you may be up for hours.

Assault

The sample of Assault by MusclePharm comes in a single serving soft tube. The Raspberry Lemonade flavor is a wonderful departure from the typical fruit punch flavorings. It dissolved easily enough and the flavor was quite good; an eight of ten.

Within minutes of finishing the mix, the effects could be felt. Yeah, it doesn’t take 20 or 30 minutes to show up. The tingling in my lips and face started nearly immediately. Off to the gym for a 5/3/1 leg workout. It lasted for an hour or so, then I could feel it start to slip away. For me, this was perfect. No sugar drop and no caffeine keeping me up half the night. Very good. Is definitely one I would buy.

Sunday At Cincinnati Comic Expo

Keleigh and Sam
Keleigh and Sam (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

For this year’s visit to the Cincinnati Comic Expo, it was necessary to go on Sunday. Sure, this would mean there was a good chance that not all the celebrities would be there, but those are the breaks some times.

Arriving just before 2pm, my daughter was target focused in finding the Jason David Frank booth to get his autograph and perhaps talk to him a bit. The irony is had we gone counterclockwise from the entrance, we would have found it straight away, but we went the other way instead.

The Legoland area this year was quite larger and included a very large model of the John A. Roebling bridge. Many comic artists and some professional cosplayers. Still we kept walking.

Finally in line for Jason to return at 2:30, my daughter became more nervous with each moment. Jason finally came out and wound up the crowd with a mobile phone video run by. His energy is contagious. He seems to really like meeting his fans and talking about his life, family and faith.

I was finally Keleigh’s turn to get her autograph. Jason wanted to interview her, so he pulled out his cell phone and recorded a video. He also asked her friend Sam questions, as well as me. I was too concerned about getting a photo and neglected to record him recording us. Oh well. Keleigh also posed with David in showing a punch.

Afterward, Sam wanted to find her favorite professional cosplayer LeeAnna Vamp. So, it was off to find her. Sam bought a picture, got an autograph and then posed with LeeAnna.

We then walked around for a few more hours. The girls bought several things and I took some more pictures. I even was able to capture an image of Henry Winkler signing autographs for fans, many of them quite young. I did get to flash him a Fonzi “Ayyy…” as he walked by later. He smiled.

John Rhys-Davies talked to one couple who was in line for autographs for a good 20 minutes. I’m not sure what they discussed, but he seemed completed interested in what they had to say. He quite genuinely engaged them and listened intently.

I am getting better at taking pictures at the cons. I am still a bit bashful about asking. There are some many great customs and cosplay outfits. I really appreciate everyone who wears them and the time they took to create them. If you see me, don’t be afraid to ask me to take your picture.

I was sad to have missed Jewel Staite.

Till the next con.

Working With The Glidecam XR-2000

Going over the video footage from Matsuricon 2014 shows the Glidecam XR-2000 is a very picky and difficult piece of equipment to use and keep balanced. After some practice, it is easy to get the balance to be very close, but fine tuning get more and more difficult and the balance will change without any changes being made to the camera or the Glidecam. Perhaps this is why all the professional how-to videos I find are of the HD-2000 version.

Today offered more time to practice, so I took the Nikon D7000 and the Glidecam XR-2000 to Harbin Park in Fairfield. It was sunny, but not too warm with a good breeze to keep cool. I walked up and down small hills, in and out of trees, down narrow paths and wide, in and out of the wind. Sometimes the Glidecam was being used truly freehand, sometimes using the three finger method around the gimbal, and others holding onto the area where the weights are attached.

The results??

The Glidecam XR-2000 likes to move all the time. The slightest breeze will cause it to spin. Put the lens cap on after balancing and it will tip as though a huge weight was placed in the front. No matter how well balanced the unit is, when walking the camera will wonder left or right and up or down. Stop and the camera will continue to move. Very frustrating.

What about holding the pole??

Some guides say to use a thumb on the gimbal and two fingers in front of it. The touch is to be light. This doesn’t help. Any shake introduces by the arms or hands will be seen in the video. Hold too lightly and the camera will still move about as though you are not holding at all.

What about holding the weight plate??

Again, this will introduce shake and variance to the video. There is just no getting away from it. No matter how well balanced, the Glidecam XR-2000 will not stay steady.

Several times I held the pole as I walked from one area to another of the park without filming. Once in a new area, the entire rig had to be rebalanced. Sometimes the mounting plate had to be moved. Sometimes the weights at the bottom had to be moved. The settings on the camera for focal length and focus stayed the same. Why is there any need to balance it again?

When compared to other stabilizers for DSLR cameras, the Glidecam XR-2000 is inexpensive, but it is far more difficult to use. Ugh. More practice I guess.

Product Review: Optimum Nutrition and MHP

The September Jacked-In-A-Box has arrived from Muscle and Fitness (see the unboxing video here). Each month, samples of products arrive and trying them is quite the experiment. While it is doubtful that any real results can be gleaned from only a few samples, but knowing how well products taste is a big part of using them. After all, if a product tastes quite terrible to you and yet is affective, how long will you endure? Over the last two days, I’ve tried two of the products in this month’s box.

Optimum Nutrition: Pro Complex

The sample for Pro Complex Creamy Vanilla contains 30 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 140 calories. Don’t let the 60g claim on the front fool you, there is only one serving in the packet. The protein source is a blend of whey and egg. In 6 ounces of cold (straight from the fridge) filtered water to get the full taste, it mixes easily in a shaker. It has a good mouth feel and is not too thin. The taste is ok and is very much vanilla. I was surprised that the taste was not better, after all, the Gold Standard proteins are very good. On a 1 to 10 scale, I give the taste about a 5.

MHP: Power Pak Pudding

The Fight & Lean version of MHP’s Power Pak Pudding was contained in the box. This is the lower calorie version at only 100. According to the website, the higher calorie version contains 190. The amount of protein in this one is half of the regular at 15 grams. The flavor is Delicious Dutch Chocolate. It has a good thickness and is very rich and chocolaty. There is a medium strong artificial sweetener aftertaste. I’m not really into diet products, so this one is not a win for me. I would like to try the regular version as a comparison. I’ll pass on this one though.