Monday, February 23, 2009

Silly Mascots

Gen and I had a conversation about silly sports mascots, and I'm always amused when I remember some of the weird mascots out there. My own alma mater, University of Chicago, has a phoenix as a mascot, which isn't very related to the sports teams being the "Maroons." Nothing strikes fear into the heart of your opponents like a fierce abstract visual concept.

Then there's the Stanford tree mascot. How you get a tree to represent "cardinals" is beyond me. How someone chooses a tree as a mascot also baffles me. What sort of message is a tree mascot supposed to send to the opposing team? Fear the leafy terror! Witness the awe of our wooden movements! Only you can prevent forest fires?!?

While looking into other silly mascots, I came across some other gems. The University of Hawaii has the "Rainbows." To be fair, only of the teams is actually the "Rainbows." The others chose Rainbow Warriors or just Warriors. Still, willingly choosing to call your team the Rainbows doesn't instill confidence in the competitiveness of the team. Closer to home, Franklin and Marshall is the "Diplomats." I haven't been to any games yet, but I chuckle imagining the cheers: "Ne-go-tiate!" or "Talk it over" (clap, clap - clap, clap, clap). Then I picture signs in the crowd reading "I beg to differ", "we can compromise", or even "let's split the difference."

If you ask me, part of the fun of sports is the competition. Lame mascots don't exactly project an image of sporting competitiveness, while providing a wealth of comedic fodder for opposing teams.


I came across this image while looking for diagrams/illustrations of the back muscles. Now, I like strong, athletic women, but there does come a line that maybe shouldn't be crossed. I can't define that line precisely, but I think this is a case of "I know it when I see it." I can accept that there are women out there with bigger arms than me, but having arms twice as big as mine and more ripped than most serious gym going, weight lifting males... well, that's just (IMO) plain unnatural.

Those arms are more buff than even the bearded lady I saw in the gym while I was at school in Chicago. Again, I thought it was a little weird seeing a woman with that much facial hair and stronger than all but 2 men in the gym. But I chalked that up to it being the University of Chicago since it's not a campus known for its physically strong student population. Anyhow, kudos to the women driven enough to get this strong, even though the physique looks disturbingly wrong to me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Away for V-day

I spent my second consecutive year in NY training martial arts during Valentine's Day weekend. I suppose that would be a big no-no in a lot of relationships, since it's supposed to be such a romantic day. But Gen was a good sport about the situation.

It may sound like a rationalization on my part, but I posit that Valentine's Day is just one huge capitalistic ploy to part consumers with their money. The sheer number of jewelry, chocolate, and flower advertisements that show up as February nears is disgusting. Buying commodity material goods is being pushed as a substitute for truly thoughtful gifts and actual expressions of affection. If we need to be reminded to show affection for our loved ones on a pre-anointed day by rushing out and buying gifts, then we seriously need to re-evaluate our relationships. It's the little things we do everyday that grow a relationship, not an expensive gift purchased once a year. Save the chocolate and flowers for another occasion that has more personal significance and when there's less pre-holiday price inflation.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Meatheads on vegetarianism?

I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw this article show up on T-nation. A meat-eating body builder going mostly vegan for two months? That's unheard of. Props to John Berardi for trying to gain muscle mass on a plant based diet.

I'll say that I think it's entirely possible to be strong and vegetarian. Heck, I'm even living proof of that. There's no meat in my diet, and I can still strap on 70 lbs and bang out some weighted pull ups and dips. On the flip side, I'll never have a body builder look since I'll never consume enough protein to put on that much muscle mass. But I'm ok with that. I'd rather focus on being able to hold an iron cross than looking like Arnold.

Monday, February 2, 2009

February goals

Last months goals went pretty well. I was pretty religious about doing my I-Liq Chuan training everyday, working in a daily meditation, and spending at least 10 minutes of quality time with Gen. I actually starting getting my daily training up to the 15 minute range and my meditations are getting up to 20-30 minutes daily practice. I still have to work on not letting my mind wander so much during my meditation. Overall, I'm pleased with January.

This month, I'm going to try upping my ILC form practice. I'm going to shoot for at least 10 minutes of daily form practice on top of the minimum 5 minutes of basic exercise practice. My fitness goal for this month is to cleanly kick up into a handstand and hold a solid 10s handstand. I think I'm pretty close to that. I just need some more practice. My personal improvement goal is to read up on anatomy. I'll start with 1 page a day out of the anatomy book (or 1 joint a day). I may not memorize all the details, but I figure I may as well start familiarizing myself with the skeletal and muscular anatomy since I have such a personal interest in body mechanics.

Food kick

I seem to be on a bit of a food theme in my latest blog posts. It was bound to happen at some point since I spend so much time preparing and eating food. I'll try to use this post to get my food and eating thoughts out of my head, so I can move on to other subjects.

Weighing in
So, I unashamedly admit that I'm a bit of a lightweight for a guy. With my genetics and build I'm just not going to put on much more mass without putting on some flab. At my heaviest, I was 183lbs at some point in college. Then I managed to drop my weight to 132lbs by the time I started graduate school. I went back up to 165lbs (knee injury, no cardio, lots of lifting and eating). Now I'm back to slim 140ish pounds. Problem is that I think my peak athletic weight is closer to 145lbs. At the moment I've got the reverse problem from most people: I need to gain weight. And no, I don't plan on eating twinkies and cheesecake to up my weight. I'm still far too vain to let my body fat percentage creep up.

While I'm thinking of it, what the heck is up with the 100 calorie twinkies? Honestly, dropping the serving size to be 100 calories doesn't make the snack any healthier. You could probably save some cash and cut down on packaging by just cutting a regular twinkie in half (or thirds, whatever) and save the other portion for later (hopefully for later in the century and not later in the day). They're so artificial; it's not like that other half will go bad.

I've been baking quite a lot of bread recently. For the first time in my life I've gone through two entire bags of flour in under a month, and it actually makes sense for me to now buy bulk active yeast instead of packets of the instant yeast. I won't say that it saves me time, but it sure is a heck of a lot healthier, cheaper, and far better tasting than store bought.

So, my latest baking creations were cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread (with flax for extra fiber and omega-3 goodness) and cornbread from Alton Brown's "I'm just here for more food" book. The cornbread is a little decadent. I don't remember using that much oil in past recipes, but hey, I figured you might as well trust the Southern boy for a Southern food. That cornbread was super tasty, and was a surprisingly big hit at the Super Bowl party we went to last night. That being said, I'll probably go back to the lighter version of the recipe next time.

Eating Habits
Gen and I have pretty healthy eating habits. That's probably a big part of why I've been able to keep my body fat low. We prepare the vast majority of our own food, which is in line with my thoughts of having a connection to our food. Yet for all of my talk of avoiding processed foods, I just can't shake one item of junk food from my diet: tortilla chips. I really like the crunchy texture and salty taste. Add in some guacamole and salsa, and I may very well pig out on chips.

My diet isn't perfect, but that's ok with me. Borrowing a line from The Happiness Project blog, I "don't let perfect be the enemy of good." My diet is close enough to where I want it to be, so I don't sweat the chips too much. It's a work in progress. Even though I'll never quite reach it, I can still strive for the ideal and reap all the benefits. Though given my love of corn chips, maybe I should consider giving them up for a while; in the abstainer vs moderator spectrum, I'm not always a good moderator of chip consumption.