Monthly Archives: May 2011

Unintended lessons from the gym

Fate would have it that I be gifted with a 3 month free membership to our local gym via class action settlement (gotta love em lawsuits. Am I right, or am I right?). So, of course, I put it off. For almost an entire year. At this point I’ve forgotten all about my free card and simply go on with my sedentary lifestyle in mildly guilty ease.

Until about a month ago when I rediscover said card, hidden away in the confines of my closet next to my physics book.

Oh. Haha. I wonder how that got in such a hidden and obscure place…

Well now, it would be such a waste for me to stumble upon this gift twice and still not use it, so I stroll on over to the gym, slap the card on the counter like some VIP and say “Membership me!” I am confident. I am ready. I am in control, and I am Gym Member Extraordinaire!

Thirty minutes later I’m suckered into signing up for the basic personal trainer package. So much for being in control.

After a few sessions though, I find myself enjoying the training. Not only do I feel great afterwards (until the soreness kicks in. God have mercy on my weak pathetic body), but the set schedule gets me in the groove for motion/energy/etc. It’s actually pretty friggin nice. Besides the hurting part. Yeah, we can just keep ignoring that.

Other than the basics of gym etiquette and health/fitness (ie: don’t hang on the machines, don’t try to sprint on the treadmill when you’re clearly not able to walk a mile, etc) I’ve learned a few things during my brief month. A few are as follows:

1. There are 150 lbs. dumbells in existence.

2. There is a man at my gym that can use said dumbells.

3. His biceps are larger than my thighs twice over (and my thighs are no light matter).

4. Personal trainers can must be excellent liars:
“Just a few more, come on.”
“I can’t, it’s too much, I’m gonne diiieeee”
“You got this, you can do it!”
“Oh, yeah, ok, yeah I can do it. I can do it!”
<wake up next day unable to roll out of bed> I couldn’t do it… *cries*

5. Driving requires the use of abs. You only notice when you have absolutely no more power in your core left even for breathing.

6. The older people get, the less embarrassed they are of walking around completely naked in the locker room; as proud, jiggling sacks of maturity.

If only...

7. Even personal trainers eat bags of cheetos with no shame.

8. Army brats who grow up be army brat managers are pretty awesome. Especially if they understand the amazing combination of steak and rice (screw you, potato!)

9. No one actually looks at you in the gym or cares how out of breath you are. They’re too busy being FIT. If their attention is wandering, they’re probably just as much of a pansy as you are. Feel free to judge.

10. It is absolutely possible to be tired to the point of being unable to lift your car keys. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to a moment of panic setting in as I sit on that locker room bench my first day.

All right, time go lie down before today’s session kills me twice over.


Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Sometimes music is the only feeling you have

There is an odd grey area between numbness and feeling that can only be described as limbo. Jumping out of the metaphorical airplane one becomes momentarily trapped in the gusting winds and floats above the world, between the calm, safe serenity of the airplane and the hard, cold reality of the ground below you. You can go to either, depending on if you’re being pulled up by a bungee chord or pulled down by gravity.

Music pulls. For someone who generally resides in this limbo, the power of music is even more pronounced when it comes upon the urge to flaunt its might.

Especially when it’s awesome old school gothic rock.

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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Why my mother is badass

Glorious Mother’s Day. An otherwise calm day broken by the clamoring of children trying to make breakfast in bed without any proven recipes and fathers/husbands trying to do chores to appease their wives for just one, simple day of relaxation (which usually ends up being cleaned up the next day by said women but… it’s the thought that counts, guys).

Unfortunately for my mother her birthday falls neatly around Mother’s Day every year, so our lazy family ends up combining both days into one happy little festival. None of us like spending money much (and if we did she would probably scold us for wasting so much dough) so usually a homemade meal or dessert is accompanied by a birthday present or two. This year I decided on buying the fine lady a bottle of perfume she asked for (with a cosmetic gift bag! Double the gifts!) and making dinner. My mother is a very specific woman, so when I asked her for her preference she said “Pasta. Oil based sauce. Seafood.”

Gotta love a woman who knows what she wants, right?

So here I go Googling away looking for pasta recipes and eventually I find a nice scallop-zucchini-tomato-basil-garlic-olive oil… thing. Grocery shopping? Check. Try not to ruin pasta? Double check. Whip out a bottle of wine I had gotten earlier from a friend? TRIPLE CHECK!

I know this may all sounds like a typical Mother’s Day ritual, and it is. Until you realize that after finishing her meal (which she liked, pat on the back for me!) my mother trots out to the backyard in the cool evening, finishes the (entire) bottle of wine, leans back in the patio chair and breathes, “Ah. So relaxing.” I feel a nice moment there where I realize that I have succeeded in making this a relatively good Mother’s Day/birthday.

After which she immediately stands up, pulls out a pair of jumbo garden shears out of nowhere, and starts attacking our plum tree with religious fervor.

Alternate dimension Caucasian mom.

Sure, we had planned on cutting down that tree for some time now. And it’s not like garden shears can do that much damage. Plus the weather is all nice and perfect for gardening, right? Standing outside and watching her go to work and destroying the tree with happy, wine-induced bubbly enthusiasm, I can’t help but think:

Yup. That’s my mom. Badass to the bone.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone.


Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Uncategorized


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The value of x

While merrily browsing my way through reddit, I stumbled upon this image:

At first I thought very little of it other than “oh, interesting”, shared the link with some friends, and moved on to “funny” and “pics”. But it nagged me. Without even knowing why I had already gone back to the image and stared at it for a little longer. All right, I’ve seen pictures of war. Of devastated cities, mass graves and even freshly burned corpses. During a particularly dark period of my personal IB art experience I collected hundreds of photos of the aftermaths of war and violence. So why, after looking through countless pictures of actual human remains and destroyed lives am I so stuck on some random artist’s rendition of a classic child’s toy?

It took a few good minutes for me to realize the reason.

First: background information. You already know I’m a moderate video gamer. I’m also an economist. Not professionally, mind you, but give me basically any situation and I’ll analyze the keynes out of it. Cost-benefit analysis, rational consumers, supply curves, utility functions – for me, all of these ideas become super imposed over reality and every remotely important decision. Even more so with war. Sure, the human in me thinks “oh woe is the loss of life and destruction of the beauty of the world” and what not. I believe these things, and honestly the darkness of war isn’t lost on me.

But what I think and feel and breathe is “How is this country optimizing its resources? What is the limit of loss before the operation becomes irrational? What combination of aggression and defense can be combined to maximize gain?” The list goes on, the thoughts continue, and I break down the concept of war into tiny pieces until it fits nicely into a neat little game theory square.

Place this alongside my video games, and international relations essentially becomes an RPG with decision branches leading out towards war or peace. I gather resources in order to have bargaining power. I upgrade weapons to protect valuable assets. I attack bandits weaker than me on the road to get their goods with no repercussions. I gift and befriend specific allies to gain their skill sets.

This is what dragged me back to the above image. This mentality that war is nothing but a game, that we, our leaders, and our civilians are merely children with a bucket of plastic soldiers playing in the sandbox, leaving them in the dirt when we’re called home for dinner. That I personally devalue the lives of the people who not only abruptly die in battle, but who die slowly at home after the war is long over. But this alone isn’t ground breaking or all that new. There has never been any argument that war doesn’t cost lives, doesn’t depend on the sacrifice of (relative) few for the many. It would be one thing to completely ignore them. However, it’s so much different when you realize that in the regression models of war, not only are they taken into consideration, they are considered simply x. We are telling them: We’ve taken your lives, and it is only worth 3(b+y), or p^2.

While constantly looking at the big picture and the large scope of the battlefield, we fail to look at the broken toy soldiers littering the sandbox. We’ll raise memorials for them, give them minutes of silence and shiny medals, but the sand crusted, bent and broken plastic pieces are ultimately thrown back into the bucket all in a big clump to be used another day, or thrown out, or forgotten.

I still believe some wars have purpose. I still hold to the idea that our very world was, and continues to be, shaped both negatively and positively by wars; that some sacrifices are worthwhile and some difficult decisions must be made. It’s just that now, when I mentally draw out the equations of battle, x will be a much higher value.

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Posted by on May 5, 2011 in Uncategorized


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