Homemade crossover apparatus

If you can do it, this is suh-weet! We bolted two rounded garage door handles into the concrete garage floor of my studio. They needed to clear more height in order for the handles to fit undernearth easily, so we stacked washers.

....Attached bands...

And it's time to bliss out! This is my DH Reed emulating a lateral shoulder raise. Note that he is a model, just here for his pretty face, not an athlete.

There are so many exercises you can do on your crossover rig - chest press, tricep ext., bicep curls, lat rows, you name it. When you've got handles in your floor, you have arrived.

Also see my article on this at Straight to the Bar

Quickest full body lift

Since we're in the triple digits, the last thing my body wants to do is work out. So I've nailed down the quickest combination of lifts for a full body work out, to do in a few minutes on the fly. This combo will hit all muscle groups and works well as a circuit.

- Pull-ups
- Chest press
- Shoulder raise
- Squats

Works for me; adjust to your own druthers. I'm not including Olympic lifts, ideal as they are for multijoint work, because this is a quick and dirty lift, without warm-up, short on rest times, and light on load.

Pull-ups - alternate grips
Chest press - bands in a hurry
Shoulder raise - bands, definately - vary body angles for lateral and rear
Squats - Easy for me to say; I have a squat rack constantly loaded and ready to go. Any form would work, tho - dumbbells, bands, etc.

Krrish - India's first superhero?

According to Wikipedia, "Unlike recent reports, Krrish is not India's first superhero: his predecessors include Marvel's Cerebra, Indra, Karima Shapandar and Neal Shaara and DC's Maya, as well as Spider-Man: India and the heroes from Virgin Comics and Raj Comics."

That said, here's an article out today by Justin Huggler, from the New Zealand Herald, with vital details on powers, costume, etc.

India's first superhero creates huge song and dance

"India has its first homegrown superhero in the form of Krrish, Bollywood's answer to Superman - an Indian with remarkable powers who travels to Singapore, saves the world from a mad scientist, gets the girl (played by Priyanka Chopra) and regularly breaks into song and dance numbers. The opening of Krrish in cinemas at the weekend attracted extraordinary attention, with India's 24-hour news channels giving over entire evenings to preview the movie. . .

... Krrish is the first Superman-style superhero: a being gifted with extraordinary powers and a ridiculous costume.

... Krrish is more a mix of Superman and Spiderman. Like Superman he is so strong he can leap over buildings; like Spiderman he can climb them. His costume - ill-advised given the heat in India and Singapore, where the movie is set - is black leather, complete with a face-mask.

... The film is a sequel to Roshan's 2003 hit Koi Mil Gaya, India's first science-fiction movie, which gave extraordinary powers to Rohit, an ordinary Indian. Krrish is the story of Rohit's son, Krishna."

Lifting in prisons

graphic from strengthtech.com

Strengthtech.com is a unique resource. For over a decade, the people behind this equipment company - Gary Polson and his wife - have been assiduously collecting information related to weightlifting in prisons and championing the value of this form of exercise for inmates. Their site has an extensive, categorized bibliography of published information. It's fascinating.

In the late 1990s, the issue of whether weightlifting was a cash cow that should be slaughtered flared up in federal legislature and subsequently the media. It isn't getting much mainstream attention these days, but apparently it's still under contention.

Here's a little editorial info from the site.

Some states

1. Ban free weights and still allow machines.
2. Limit the size of the weights available to the inmates.
3. Limit access to upper body strength building equipment
4. Ban maintenance of existing weightlifting equipment. This is done to eventually remove all the equipment by removing each item from service when it breaks.

Several states have proposed "No Frills" prison bills which in addition to banning weightlifting they

1. Ban or limit access to amenities such as television, cable TV, cigarettes, computers, conjugal visits, X rated movies, telephones, and hot plates.
2. Ban other strength building or fighting activities such as bodybuilding, boxing, karate, judo and martial arts
3. Limit access to legal research materials
4. Limit food costs to that similar to the military
5. Force inmates to pay a utility fee for their electrical appliances
6. Ban pornographic materials
7. Ban internal and external (between prisons) sports competitions

lifting bloopers video

Finally - a hilarious montage of weightlifting misadventures! Surely some lifters were injured in the inadvertent making of this video, posted at You Tube.

[BTW, youtube.com is precisely the kind of site that will buckle under the corporate hammer if the Senate smites the First Amendment rights of We the People on the Internet; that is, if they take away Net Neutrality.]

academics want the freelance life

I encounter all kinds of reactions to my freelance writer identity, from blank incomprehension to dismissal to enthusiasm to envy. At some point in life, or all along, we freelance types teeter over the edge of related careers, toy with committing to a more conventional field, and wonder at the wisdom of our chosen path.

So it was with delight, surprize, and "Aha" today that I stumbled onto Every Academic's Secret Desire by Michael Erard, which appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education on 12-2-2002.

Erard, who holds a Ph.D. in English, left academe to pursue a career as a freelance magazine writer, a career which has treated him well. In this essay, he describes the surprising discovery he made in grad school, that instead of his profs being happy at his freelancing success, they turned green with envy, and saw him as a threat.

"All these confessions are not simply cases of greener grass, I believe. Instead it's a symptom of a delirium that's endemic to the profession, particularly in the humanities. Only now do I see it clearly. It's a version of that deep need that crops up among academics, the need to prove that what one does is relevant in the world. It's a fear that what one spends all one's time doing does not, in the end, matter, " he writes.

"In that sense, the rhetoric of the "public intellectual" and the "intellectual entrepreneur" is one way that academics try to professionalize this fear. They do not acknowledge the fear, and they do not conquer it. They merely paper it over."

The Great Diet Coke & Mentos Experiment

What happens when you combine 200 liters of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos mints? It's amazing and completely insane. This tightly-choreographed performance-art science experiment is a hysterical and spectacular mint-powered version of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, brought to you by the mad scientists at EepyBird.com. This video is quickly catapulting into cult classic status. Experiment perform by Fritz Grobe (the short one) & Stephen Voltz (the tall one).

Not only is this performance completely awesome, the music is fantastic, too. It is my pleasure to plug the New Hampshire group Audio Body. This video is their first big break. They're selling their CD for a flat $12 to anywhere in the U.S. I'm lifting to tracks 2 & 8 right now.

3 girls & their dad, powerlifting & karate

Courtesy photo of Sarah Biddle published by the Brown County Democrat

The Biddles of Bean Blossom in Bean County, Indiana are a remarkable family. The three sisters—Abigail, 17; Hannah, 15; and Sarah, 13—have followed their father Brent into powerlifting, where they have set world records for their weight and age classes. They also followed his lead into karate. Since they're homeschooled, their father training them is just another part of life.

While this is a bright story, it's not without a haze...

Teenage years - if you're going to powerlift, that's the time to do it. Young joints can usually recover. But once the body nears maturity, the cumulative microtrauma from the terrible forms used in PL - exaggerated ranges of motion, full joint flexion under load - will take their toll, and that kind of damage is irreversible. I hope these girls will access education on this.

Records are for glory, but lifting is for life.

New boxing gloves!

See all my fitness product reviews at The Mighty Fit Review

They only look purple; they're black.

I just received and worked out in my first pair of "real" boxing gloves. With some guidance from boxinggyms.com, I decided on the super bag gloves from G&S Sporting Goods, a NYC company with an impressive history, customer base, and much better prices than I could find for professional gloves anywhere else.

(The guy on the phone was a real NYer, with a thick accent. He wasn't afraid to make suggestions - helpful ones at that. Looks like they wrote out my order by hand, ran it on a hand-slide card machine, and then addressed the box (no packing material) by hand with a marker. I really like this "real people" touch. The only thing that gave me pause was when he asked, "Are these for you or someone else?" Who else would they be for? Oh - a son, a husband, a brother, of course. Whatever. But this is a minor point.

So the gloves: they look well made, thanks to our Indian manufacturers. They have heavy velcro wristwraps. No matter what marketers say, altho it's obviously easier than laces, it's still challenging to take a glove off or put it on when your other hand is in one. And I'd like to see loops on the wrists to hang the gloves up in storage.

Due to the molded shape, knuckles stay flat, which helps in hitting head-on instead of the edge of the hand in a flurry. Leather makes such a satisfying SMACK sound on the bag. Rubber foam cushioning is thick indeed and dense, not puffy, so the gloves seem only as big as need to be, which, for someone my size (glove size 7), is plenty big enough. The medium was the perfect size for a snug fit over handwraps and tape, tho the wrist has a little play in it unless I wrap up onto the forearm for bigger circumference. Thumb is attached, which is pretty standard now.

They smell good.

What struck me most was the weight. At 12 oz., the gloves didn't seem heavy when I was toying with them, but it wasn't long into the work out before they got pretty heavy, and I felt slow. It wasn't until the end of my work out that I was beginning to get into the groove with them. I think this is exciting - I'm about to make gains, so I want to remember how heavy these feel right now. My shoulders felt worked at the end, which is nice. [ETA Adaptation was fast and this heaviness quickly became just a memory, but it is worth noting in case you're switching from cheap sports store gloves like I did.]

And the best part is - my hands haven't been getting nearly as injured as they had been in the cheap $29 gloves from the sports store. Bottom line - they're definately worth it.

(around $45 - a real bargain for gloves of this quality - expect to pay $100 elsewhere)

Get a pair from G&S Sporting Goods

Identify this arum

My amazing alien plant has bloomed an astonishing pod. Thanks to astute botanical expert Darla, we now know this is some type of arum, but which one is still in question. This site gives a few possibilities. Anyone?

...and more of my out-of-this-world boys, from the weekend.

Save the Internet

Save the Internet: Click here


Life as we know it on the Internet is under siege. Educate yourself about this, act, pay attention.

"Net neutrality" is how the First Amendment applies to the Internet - allowing Web users to go where they want and do what they please online. This democratic standard is why the Internet has become a revolutionary force for economic innovation and new ideas. If the corporations win, it'll be like the radio - the independent and smaller stations basically get no airspace, so all you hear are the corporate giants' stations. My site, your site, blogs...forget it; they'll take so long to download, no one will bother.

Large cable and telephone companies are planning to do away with Net Neutrality. They´re asking Congress to pass legislation that allows them to control which Web sites get priority over everything else and which ones are left behind.

Don't be confused by the corporate pundits - they're using exactly the same arguments. The term that matters is NET NEUTRALITY. We the public have paid for the Internet's creation and operation. After more than 20 years of our investment, corporations want to claim ownership of the Internet.

The House supported quashing net neutrality. Now it goes to the Senate.

Here's an excellent report on the issue by NOW at PBS

Ultimate reface?

The latest repackaging of gladiatorial entertainment

Gladiator - A person, usually a professional combatant, a captive, or a slave, trained to entertain the public by engaging in mortal combat with another person or a wild animal in the ancient Roman arena. (Dictionary.com)

Ultimate fighting has repackaged itself into “cage fighting”, which keeps the cage but adds 31 fouls (including “timidity” and “throwing in the towel” – think of it as “the fight must go on”), a technical name (mixed martial arts, or MMA) and a new marketing face which strives to simultaneously re-invoke the pugilistic appetites of the old ultimate fighting crowd while tempting the tastes of sport spectators with priorities on safety and decorum. The scrappy streetfighting evocation has been suffused by the dignity of martial arts. The terms have been changed: ultimate fighting is now cage fighting, and the UFC is now a MMA organization.

The pitch of pitting different fighting styles -- boxer vs. karate guy, wrestler vs. jiu-jitsu, etc. -- is intellectually interesting. Is a sport a sport outside its own world? And just the mention of bona fide, formalized disciplines sends out a soothing signal.

Yet there is still enough allowed to prompt the American Medical Association to call cage fighting medically and morally wrong -- again: the AMA is calling a “sport” morally wrong. Yikes!


The industry leader (Please folks, let’s remember this is an industry.) is the Ultimate Fighting Championship – not a particular event, as the name suggests, but an organization gearing successive events toward recognizing a single champion (male). The UFC began in 1993. Initially, events were conducted by the Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG) in association with WOW Promotions, headed by Art Davie and Rorion Gracie. The UFC is currently based in Las Vegas. It is owned and operated by casino operators Frank Ferttita III and Lorenzo Ferttita under the name Zuffa, LLC.

Senator John McCain, a former Naval Academy boxer, called UF “human cockfighting'' and led a successful campaign to ban it throughout the nation. By the end of the ‘90s, UF was driven underground, into the risky arena of illicit events and onto the sovereign immunity of Indian reservations.

The UFC reinvented itself in 2001, outlining weight classes, time limits, and adding the list of 31 fouls. No longer would a man hold his opponent in lockdown and grind his fingers into an open cut, or push his thumb into his eye socket.

Currently, cage fighting is sanctioned in 20 states including UF fan stronghold California (Ahnold signed it into California law but did not attend a fight at the Arnold Classic). But the UFC doesn’t necessarily need to gain the approval of the other 30 governors; it has found its arena on cable, pay-per-view and yes, reality television. The UFC struck cable television deals with Fox Sports Net and Spike TV. Fights can now be seen in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Japan and Brazil.

Since its reinvention, the UFC has held two events in Southern California, and claims the draw was about 32,000 combined, with one third of the crowd female.

More federations have taken root and are struggling to cast their own distinctions, including Strikeforce, which not only allows women, but has marketed the most visible female champions right into the mainstream media.

Boxing vs. MMA

Some suggest that this form of fighting is attracting fans because boxing isn’t marketed as well as it used to be. (See Mark Emmons, Mercury News, June 8) But there has been no study, even unscientific, to survey whether there is any fan overlap. The activism of Senator McCain would indicate there is no given connection here, and another former boxer on the Hill, Senator Harry Reid, isn’t facing any trouble from going to see cage fighting. I am a boxing enthusiast who has always gotten a bad taste in my mouth from cage fighting, much as I try to open my mind to it. I certainly respect the athletes, and am a solid Gina Carano fan.

MMA's appeal isn't hard to figure out – it’s as old as mankind, inherent, primal, more prominent in some than others. It’s the spectacle of brutality, the rush of the fatal fight. Bloodsport. The Romans are the poster race, but it would be absurd to think of them as unique. MMA claims its roots in the first Olympics - pancration. So at first blush, it's easy to expect pugilists to jump from boxing to MMA, but it's not always the case. I don't think the decline of boxing and the rise of MMA can just be written off to the complexities of marketing appeal. I think there's something much deeper to explore.

The most immediate thing is availability. If you're young and a fighter in the U.S. today, MMA is likely the most available venue to you. If you box, you can make a lot more money and shoot for the Olympics. But if you're an MMA fighter, you're riding the populist wave.

But I'm a boxing fan, and lately, I feel like a dinosaur. I just don't get what all the kids are into these days.

Also see MMA is on CBS, and not everyone is happy

Related link
UFC on Wikipedia

Maura Shuttleworth and a soapbox on journalists

"Five feet tall and 105 pounds, Maura Shuttleworth broke the Minnesota state record in her weight class last November when she bench-pressed 180 pounds..." Shuttleworth is high-level competitor quality, on her way to Hungary right now.

Profile in the Women's Minnesota Press by Elizabeth Noll. Photo by Kris Drake.

Noll emphasizes how little and feminine Shuttleworth is, how unlike Noll's diehard preconceived notions about weightlifters she appears. That's good, on one hand, because Shuttleworth is in fact like so many other lifters, and here's yet another example of what a "real" female lifter looks like, so it helps to kill the disparaging image of Amazons that unenlightened men used to scare females out of the gym for ages, while they hogged all the fun of athletics to themselves. But on the other hand, it does a lot more damage than good, and I ascend to my soapbox over my pet peeve of journalism profiles on female Amazons.

Why must so many reporters (especially women writers) continue to keep these misconceptions alive, along with the conservative ideal of femininity, and continue to treat burly female lifters poorly? Enforce this mindset, and you discourage females from lifting. How much better off Noll would have been had she kept with the rhetoric behind her clever headline, "Don't bench me in," and confronted these misconceptions. Finally, why does it never occur to Noll and other writers who take this lazy angle that maybe, just maybe, the lifter might not like being told that she doesn't look strong and special, that there's no indication of her years of dogged dedication, sacrifice and persistence? Sigh. And like so many other writers who harp on the notion that the Amazon they're profiling looks nothing like an Amazon, Noll does so with complete righteousness and a sense of service.

This angle says more about the writer than the subject. We see Noll's ignorances and prejudices on female lifters. More shamefully, we see her work ethic: there is no evidence she conducted any research on weightlifters or ever set foot in Shuttleworth's gym. If she were even a little familiar, she would not be so taken aback by Shuttleworth's appearance.

As a journalist
, I want to see my subject in her element, not outside of it. This makes me better informed and I produce a piece that serves everyone better. From this article, the reader would likely draw the conclusion that Shuttleworth looks out of place in her own gym, in her weightlifting world; as a lifter, I just know that's not the case.

Ah, ah ah. It's a trite angle, it's tired, it's easy, it does a disservice to all, and it just doesn't work. This TV news feature on two female weightlifters is another perfect example.

By extension, journalists also perpetrate a grating fixation on female athletes' dress, jewelry, make-up, and hairstyle. If I had a nickel for every ponytail I've been forced to be aware of...

Conversely, as an enlightened person, it's not that I'd walk into Shuttleworth's gym expecting a "small" or "feminine" female (for whatever those terms are worth, and not much, BTW), it's that I wouldn't be expecting anything at all. I would be equally unsurprised and comfortable with either a 115-pound lifter coming out to meet me, or a 220-pound one. And either way, I certainly wouldn't imply to my audience or to her that she doesn't look like a lifter at all.

I'd like to assure Shuttleworth that she looks like exactly what she is, and that while she's remarkable and unique, she is not a freak in ANY way.

More Wheatie!

because you can never get enough...