DC comics postage stamps

How cool is this? Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Flash, Plastic Man, Supergirl, Superman. Top two rows are newer artist renderings. Bottom are comic book covers. Came out in July.

Fitness & Physique magazine hits bookstores

There's a bodybuilding & fitness magazine coming to the chain bookstores that's a breath of fresh air. Fitness & Physique is the mag of the OCB. I write for it and have been following it since its first issue about three years ago. Under the editorial contol of the amazing Matt Shepley, this one is about and for real people who train and respectfully admire physique athletes. I always get something out of it, and I've read A LOT of fitness mags in my days.


On newsstands nationally starting with the Spring 2007 issue in Feb '07.

If you happen to forget to subscribe to Fitness & Physique, don't worry... we've got you covered. Swing by your local Borders or Barnes & Noble to grab your issue and check out the latest OCB, IFPA and Ms. Fitness coverage's, and pick up tips on training, dieting, nutrition and more. Fitness & Physique will also begin quarterly publishing with the Spring 2007 issue, and circulation is increasing to 50,000 copies per issue (2.5 times of what it was). Of course you could save the trips to the book store and subscribe now at www.FPmagOnline.com

female boxers want to go the distance

Prizefighter Layla McCarter is leading lobbying of boxing sanction organizations and commissions such as the Nevada State Athletic Commission in order to bring female matches into the same ring as male - lengthening rounds from two minutes to three, and increasing the length of world championship fights from 10 rounds to 12. This would mean more money for women, because the amount that fighters win depends on the length of the fight.

Now that we're past the infancy of females being allowed into the sport, why wouldn't the terms be the same? What motives could there possibly be for keeping the differences? Smaller purses? Less dramatic fights? Less chances of knock outs? Perpetuating the idea that female boxing is inferior to male?

Not much more to say here, just worth taking note of. Even for the punch-drunk, this seems like a no-brainer.

Olympic lifting progress

For the last three weekends, I have set and broken personal best records on the clean & jerk (which I refer to as World Records). There are a few things I contribute this to -

  1. Using a well-trained and responsive spotter, my DH. I hand the bar off to him when I'm done, saving my worn shoulder joints the grind of lowering and dropping the bar. This really reduced my shoulder wear and tear, and saves my energy for the actual lift. I can also trust him to save me, so I can push hard.
  2. Shortened my warm-up considerably and moved right into my max weight; once the max was maxxed and new record set, I take my time on drop-lifts (like dropsets) while concentrating on form.
  3. Thursdays I do jumping plyometrics to increase my explosion from the bottom of the lift, the crux of the lift.
  4. Started using my Walk-fit orthodic inserts in my lifting shoes. They set the body on the heel, right where you need to be.
Things are going well! Some shots from today.

August kitties

more kitties! they say. more! more! but of course...

Rise of female boxing

There is a quiet, steady rising up of females boxing around the world.

  • A team of Irish women boxers have gone public with their goal of competiting in the 2012 London Olympics.
  • In the West Cape of Africa this month, a public tournament presented female boxers as a perk of the region's new democracy.
  • In South Asia, Muslim women are thriving in the sport.
  • Related - Barbados has its first female boxing chief administrator, Joyce Bowen. Boxing has been the country's leading sport over the last five years.

American females came into the competitive scene largely in 1995, when the Golden Gloves allowed them in. While the WBC will take credit for the rise, they only reach the competitor segment, not mainstream culture.

The everyday boxer, the woman who just loves to hit that bag, may never know Christy Martin's name. For this majority, I'd look more to pop culture and popular health club culture. There have been a lot of movies with female boxing protagonists in the last few years - Shadowboxers, Girlfight, Million Dollar Baby, so many more lesser-known. Health clubs have had the Tae Bo and subsequent cardio kickboxing boon in the last eight years or so really propelling the movement.

Whatever's behind it, I wish the media would quit portraying this as females entering into a male sport, and don't give me that garbage about the history of the sport. This can be explained without the rhetoric that irks me. Instead, this pheonomena should be recognized for what it is, the unleashing of a primal exercise of love, power and violence that is part of human nature.

From Wikipedia

The World Boxing Council WBC bolstered the legitimacy of women’s boxing by recognizing fighters such as Christy “The Coalminer’s Daughter” Martin and Lucia Rijker as contenders for World Female titles in 16 weight divisions. The first WBC World Female Champion (on May 30, 2005) was super-bantamweight (limit of 122 lb. / 55.338 kg.) Mexican, Jackie Nava. With her former-champion father at ringside, Laila Ali won the super-middleweight (limit of 168 lb. / 76.204 kg.) title on June 11, 2005.

left: Reuters photo of Congestina Achieng, Kenya's top female boxer and the first African woman to hold an international title
top: BBC photo of Muslim boxer in India

Web Trailer for Something Familiar

Come one! Come all!

Watch the cool web trailer for my new book Something Familiar!
Trailer will appear here automatically in Explorer, but not Safari or Firefox.
If you don't see it, please click here to watch instead.

play out

What does all play and no work make you?

Out of the gym! It's summer! Go scare the children and especially the adults at your local park. Here are some great moves I came up with to get you kicked off.

slide climb
The coolest. All upperbody walk down - and then the kicker - up the slide. Legs, feet are dead weight.

* Tip - Don't wear leather gloves on a plastic slide. Cuz you'll slide.

Push-ups - Any unstable surface is worth attention. I totally lucked out - this playground has rubber tubing around its chains. So much better for bare skin. (I'm not always wearing my gloves)

one arm, everybody!

pull-ups galore. I demonstrated a variety of grips this day, but believe it or not, this was the least weird of faces I made.

swing! the might of the grown swinger is colossal

* Tip - Butthole Surfers' Dracula from Houston is a great swinging song if you have a headphone device.

Then there was this playground with a glider rig the next day.
This really rocks!

So have a blast, everyone. Happy summer.
Playing out - I mean working out - is supposed to be fun.

Top Amazon reviewer on Something Familiar

I am so gratified to present this review of my new book. If this piques your interest, please go ahead and take the risk of ordering it on Amazon.

Top Amazon Reviewer Rebecca Johnson
The Rebecca Review

“I knew that when I left, I would be the only one to rip off my heels and nylons and stick one foot on the seat of my pick-up…”

Kat Ricker’s vivid imagery and snapshot descriptions paint insightful pictures that glow with a luminous clarity. Your soul falls into her writing as she explores mysterious connections and magical realities.

Lost in an October rain, she keeps finding her way onto the wrong bus and meets a man who tells her a secret. In “Mattie’s Orchids” vivid imagery paints emotion. You feel as if you are viewing a painting in an art museum and Kat is telling you the story. “Mrs. Strandedisle” is a story of a woman who suddenly finds herself in a moment open to possibility.

Rarely do I find descriptions that so vividly paint images on the canvas of my mind. The personalities of the characters Kat Ricker describes makes you long to meet them. The profound ending of “Last Dance” left me in a state of nostalgia.

The humorous tale of a mermaid and magical memories of orbs takes the stories to supernatural dimensions. “Box Closed” explores the viewpoint of a postman over the years of delivering mail to one home. The creaking floorboards in “Estate Sale” embody a subtle comfort. You want to wander in the house, lost within yourself. Each selection is an inspired moment in time, layered with carefully chosen conversations. The changing voices add intrigue, while the deep sense of human connection in her work is inspirational.

“I like to slip out when the house is all quiet,” she whispers. The moon never looked so bright. Don’t tell Mother, but I made a secret wish, and tomorrow there’ll be orchids on the lawn.”

I read Something Familiar on my deck as the sun was rising on a cool summer morning. As I sipped my tea, I couldn’t help thinking about how Kat’s writing has the comfort of cinnamon, the surprise of ginger and the mystique of star anise. Her writing is not only a journey into her magical mind; her writing will inspire a new clarity in your existence. After reading her work, I started to see the world in a more poetic way, as if the world was more complete when intricately described.

If you are a writer, this is one of the top 10 books you should read in your lifetime. The writing style teaches you more than a book on writing ever could.

Something Familiar awakens a new beauty in the everyday existence and contains the essence writers seek and few ever find. Kat Ricker has captured a magical connection between souls within a world of words.

The crime of being a teenager

ISAC just published my article on the troubled-teen industry. It's an introductory overview of the issue and its history, drawing on many of the top exposes on the subject.

Go to the newsroom - up-to-date alarming news on this alarming topic - and scroll to it, or click here - The crime of being a teenager.


The next time you see a teenager walking down the street, perhaps wearing black, baggy pants, with some faddish hairstyle, know that this person could disappear overnight. There is an aggressive industry trying to find his parents. They want to tell them that their child might be in danger. If that teen is hanging out with people the parents don’t approve of; if he seems sullen or defiant, has “entitlement issues” or “mood disorders”; if he hasn’t been arrested, diagnosed with emotional problems, substance addiction, or received any form of therapy, yet he’s experimenting with drugs or alcohol, dating, lying, shoplifting, running away, having sex; or if he hasn’t done any of these things, but he just hasn’t been right since his molestation or since a loved one died… they want to tell his parents that this boy may be on the road to destruction. And they want to tell them that they can help.

This is the troubled-teen industry — residential treatment programs, wilderness therapy, boot camps and similar "tough love" programs using thought coercion to modify the behavior of juveniles. Marketers are cashing in on troubled parents, offering a solution that sounds too good to be true – pay to have someone take the child away, fix him, and return him – respectful and compliant.

In its present state, the unregulated troubled-teen industry is a dangerous breeding ground for corruption and abuse. Allegations of abuse, neglect and deaths are increasingly being brought to court. Teen Advocates USA counts 74 program-related deaths of juveniles since 1980.

This billion-dollar industry profits by persuading parents to pay for the kidnapping and captivation of juveniles. While it is difficult to obtain accurate figures for an unregulated industry, most sources estimate that 10,000 to 20,000 teenagers are in behavior modification programs this year. Programs typically charge $3,000 to $5,000 a month, with emphasis on retaining a child until the staff decides she should be released.

see also lonesouls.org
image by permission from Monty Lapica's new film Self-Medicated

the coast in summer

Seizing the weekend. I'll try to post something more useful soon.

Happiness is never stopping to think if you are.
~Palmer Sondreal

I wonder how many tourists this weekend are aware of the alarming dead zone off the coast, or the other upwelling problems, and the onset of the decline of the food chain. In the last ten years, the coast has changed so much just to my naked eye. The reality of what's actually going on under all that blue brings on a whole 'nother feeling. But for today, taking a breather.

Smalltown USA summer parade

The town shall go unnamed... and unaffected...

Summer glory

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.
~James Dent

Long locks in the locker room

Here's an article I wrote for Best Body magazine.

If you have long hair, working out can pose unique challenges. The old shampoo-and-condition routine can be harsh to your long locks and your scalp. If you have healthy, long hair, chances are you already deviate from the above shorthair routine. Typical hallmarks of long hair care include mild shampoo products, washes less frequently than every day and avoidance of any heat-inducing styling appliances.

Taking your special needs into the locker room will ensure that your investment in long hair will remain intact. If you sweat while working out but don't actually get your hair dirty, you can usually get away with not using shampoo after your work outs. Try a scalp-only wash -- bun your hair and cover the bun with a showercap. Now try either using a light conditioner (or dilute your regular heavy conditioner with water) on the hair closest to the scalp, massaging it in well as you would shampoo, and rinse well. This will take care of the sweat and leave your hair conditioned.

Another technique to try is not even using conditioner. Without getting your length wet in the shower, vigorously rub your scalp under running water with your fingers. Pay special attention to your temple areas and the nape of your neck, where the sweat glands tend to be active and also the most vulnerable areas for the hair. Then, if you wish, use conditioner on your length to detangle. Author Lorraine Massey describes this "water only" method in the Curly Girl Handbook, but there's no reason it won't work for all hair types.

Whether you are shampooing, conditioning or rinsing after your work out, you can benefit from either a vinegar rinse or a baking soda rinse to cleanse your hair of sweat and help make your scalp feel refreshed. Mix a small amount (2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of vinegar; 1 teaspoon baking soda) with warm water in a large tumbler cup, rinse it through and then out. Be sure to use either vinegar or baking soda in one rinse, and not together. Remember those paper mache volcanoes in science class? Here's a tip on vinegar: dark hairs should use apple cider vinegar, and blondes and silvers - white vinegar. They will have subtle effects on your hair color.

In general, try to stick to rinsing, and only wash every other day, or as long as you can go in between. Consider braiding or wearing your hair up on the days you don't shampoo.

Protect your hair during your workout. Wearing it up, braiding or tying it into a ponytail are all secure options for styling.

photo of me when my hair was short, by Reed

Rijker on femininity & power

"Every day I struggle with my femininity. Boxing is such a boy's club - I'm constantly on guard. It's taken a lot of work, but I finally feel that what makes me a woman is what gives me power."
-Lucia Rijker

Photo from http://seven.web-log.nl/

Training in the heat

Looking for some real instructions on how to train in the summer heat? Here's an article series I found that I like.

Dr. Nicholas Romanov at Pose Tech Corporation takes a grounded, sensible approach to training in high temperatures. Unlike the standard stuff the media regurgitates every year--tired bullet points like "keep hydrated" (oh, okay. I can do that properly for my body, goals, geography and condition with just that tip.)--Romanov puts the emphasis on the individual and addresses the goal of becoming acclimated to the heat, not setting records in spite of it. This mindset makes all the difference, and his guidance in this series of articles is detailed. He's not in a hurry to let people get back to killing themselves.

Here by permission is the opening to how to train and race in the heat. He's talking about running for racing, but the ideas can be applied to any form of training.

It seems to be a simple question, but the answer is complicated. Heat is a complex problem, which should be approached from the points of view of your mental, psychological and physiological conditions, your technique, your food and drink, your outfit, shoes, your time of training and training load, the weather conditions during the race you are preparing for. Heat could be complicated by dry or humid air. If you live in a place where heat is normal, such as Arizona, South Florida, or Texas and you are supposed to race there, it is one story. But if you live somewhere with much lower temperature and have to race in heat, then it is another story. So there are lots of questions, but few answers.

Where do we start? As you understand, this topic is not for one article, but for several, so it's just an approach to the further discussions. We need to put some benchmarks, define the field of our interest and determine the major components of the system, which we call training and racing in heat. It is not about one day training, but about a longer period of time, such as a month or more, when we have to live in such climate and train, as well. The final goal of this training is to adapt your mind and body to constant heat condition and develop your ability to produce high quality of training and racing performance.

Written by Nicholas Romanov, Ph.D© 1997-2005.