The “MV” Steel Mace Workout

I’ve been enjoying playing with my 5 pound thrift store steel mace and learning new exercises with it. After a few weeks of this I thought it was time to start doing a workout with it. I call it the MV Workout because it is a workout presented by Aubrey Marcus where I tacked on the 360’s and Rebel Presses from Coach Vaughn. All of the movements are demonstrated between both presenters’ videos.*

MV Steel Mace Workout

Do one set of 20 reps of each of the following exercises with no rest between exercises. Then, again with no rest, do another set. With the second set switch hands or your grip and do the movements in the opposite direction where appropriate.**

  • TWO SETS OF:
    • 360’s
    • Barbarian Squats
    • Grave Diggers
    • Joust
    • Twisted Sword Draw
    • Rebel Press
  • After the final set perform 20 Chest Presses from a Horse Stance, flip the mace around to change your grip and do another 20 reps. You’re done!

If you want to make this workout easier, you can do just one set, do less repetitions or introduce rest where needed. Conversely, if you want to make it more involved, you can do more sets, more repetitions, or even do this as a Tabata, where you perform each exercise for twenty second rounds with ten seconds of rest between rounds. After eight rounds move onto the next exercise. Also, you can use a lighter or heavier implement, if you have one.

I aspire to someday be able to lift cars like Ultra Cat!

I have noticed, and Marcus points this out in his video, that for some of the exercises you can make them easier by choking up on the mace or harder by gripping lower on the handle. For example, I found the Grave Diggers very easy with my 5 pound mace but when I gripped way down on the handle I immediately felt the movement a bit more in my forearms and hands. I imagine this would be magnified if one were using a heavier mace.


* All of the movements used in this workout are contained in Aubrey Marcus’ “Ultimate Steel Mace Workout” and Coach Vaughn’s, “Beginner Steel Mace Workout.”

** I like the names for many of the exercises. I find the whole “warrior” thing neat and names like “Grave Digger” and “Rebel Press” brings on delusions of grandeur which are always welcome. Where I think perhaps it goes a bit too far is when I am reading through comments of mace videos and people start debating the merits of using the steel mace and their concomitant training for home defense and the like, though perhaps if one’s domicile were besieged by hordes of Franks or rampaging Janissaries then they might have a point. One could at least give as good as they got!

Work Outs: February 7 – 13, 2021 (Octopus Fountain)

I was going through the folders of old pictures I downloaded from my phone and found some shots of a wonderfully unique water fountain we first encountered (I think) in 2018. It is down on the Santa Cruz wharf and was created by Sean Monaghan, a local artist, in 2015. He named the work Pearl Diver. The piece was commissioned by a local restaurant.

Sun, February 7th

  • After the morning stretch, I did a Core & Spine Mobility Tabata. Each exercise was done for 8 rounds of 20 seconds with a 10 second rest between rounds.
    • Dead Bugs: When I got tired and my form went bad I rested in the up position.
    • Bell Tower Crunches: 15 lbs.
    • Side Crunches
    • Cobra Pose
    • Alternating sets of Elbow Planks and Cat-Cow Stretch
  • Finished off with a single set of 10 Hindu Push Up Stretches.
  • Morning Walk over fairly hilly trails: 4.45 miles.

Calories: 1832, Protein: 176 g.

Here is a closer view of the little octopus on the bottom right part of the fountain. Notice the dents in the silver pearl. When I took these pictures back in 2018, I thought that this was the result of vandalism or something but they appear to be part of the original work judging by the pictures I saw on the artist’s site.

Mon, February 8th

Morning Walk: 2.14 miles We also walked 3.17 miles in the afternoon for a total of 5.31 miles for the day. I finished the afternoon walk with a quick set of 30 Full Squats.

Calories: 2080, Protein: 123 g.

Tues, February 9th

In the morning, I worked with the indian clubs, getting some light exercise but my primary goal was to work on some of the new swings I’ve been learning. Then I followed the “White Belt – Self Defense 2” lesson and “White Belt – Class 1” on the Global Martial Arts University website. I ended the session with a set of 30 Hindu Squats.

Calories: 2043, Protein: 137 g.

Two people can drink at once as evidenced by the crab fountain on the bottom left of Pearl Diver.

Kudos to hubby for lending his finger so I could get an action shot of the Crab Fountain.

Wed, February 10th

Morning Walk: 2.18 miles. I did some gripper work a couple of hours later.

Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):

  • (Set 1): Left = 10 mm x 9 reps, Right = Closed x 2 reps + 4mm x 5 reps,
  • (Set 2): Left = 8 mm x 5 reps, Right = Closed x 1 rep + 4mm x 6 reps
  • (Set 3): Left = 8 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed x 1 rep + 4mm x 6 reps
  • (Set 4): Left = 8 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed x 2 reps + 4mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 5): Dynamic Training with the Sport (80 lbs.) gripper. I did 20 reps with each hand. I couldn’t close it all the way with my right hand after 18 reps and after 14 reps with my left. I ended with some finger extension work and some thumb training using the gripping egg.

Afternoon Run: 3.2 miles with lots of hills. Between the hills and the places with heavy mud on the hills it turned into a run-walk in places. My goal for the run was never to stop going forward and to only walk when needed to keep my balance and/or keep my heart rate under control while traversing the steepest parts of the hills.

I did stop once to take a picture at the terminus of a little side trail that ended in a drop off down to a creek. I see quite a few joggers off in their own world with their music going while they gaze up at the redwoods reaching into the clear, blue sky and not at what they are doing. I hope none of them ever jog right off into the air because if you aren’t looking it is an abrupt drop off and it isn’t like there is a warning sign or anything.

After the run I did White Belt Drill #1. For the calisthenic this time I did 20 incline push-ups using an old picnic table, which while crumbling did seem like it still had enough life in it to hold me up. Later on, we did a second walk for 3.48 miles. Total mileage for the day, including the run, was 8.86 miles. I stretched for 30 minutes in the evening while watching television.

Calories: 2258, Protein: 161 g.

That next step could be a doozy!

Thur, February 11th

Morning Walk: 3.31 miles. Calories: 2182 Protein: 156 g.

Fri, February 12th

Morning Walk: 4.25 miles.

  • I worked with the indian clubs as a warm-up.
  • Standing Cable Rows (Hog Bar): 80 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Cable Lat Pull Downs (Hog Bar): 70 lbs. x 7 ! reps, 60 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • (Exercise Complex): 4 ROUNDS [Fitness Bag Bicep Curls x 8 reps, FB Cleans x 8 reps, FB Suitcase Farmer’s Walk (switch hands each set) x 100 steps, KB Russian Swings x 15 reps] Rest one minute between rounds.
  • In the evening I stretched for an hour.

Calories: 2289, Protein: 157 g.

Sat, February 13th

Morning Walk: 1.76 miles.

Afternoon Workout

  • Warmed up by doing most of the stretches I do as part of my daily morning routine, and also worked with the indian clubs.
  • I did the Wyatt’s Toy workout, which is the beginner level for the full “Wyatt.”
    • My time was 13:26 minutes. I wasn’t going too hard being the first time doing this work out and all, so I think beating this time will be pretty easy.
    • I’m working toward eventually being able to do the full Wyatt so I did sets of 20 incline push ups and 50 hindu squats, which was a little more than required.
    • I have changed this workout since I did this session from being nothing but straddle steps to varied kinds of steps.

Fortunately, I have other cats, both current and from the past, who I can name workouts after. I wonder what kind of workout I should name after Roxy?

You’d never know I brushed her yesterday.
  • DB Arnold Press: 30 lbs. x 2 sets x 8 reps, 30 lbs. x 6 reps, 25 lbs. x 8 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 30 lbs. x 10, 12 reps, 35 lbs. x 8, 7 reps
  • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 45 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • DB Lateral Raises: 15 lbs. x 4 reps x 8 reps
  • (Tri Set): FOUR ROUNDS [DB Hammer Curls 20 lbs. x 10 reps, Face Pulls 12.5 lbs. x 10 reps, Half Round House Kick Exercise (switch legs each set) 10 reps] Minimum rest between rounds.
  • Finished with a quick set of 10 three-point Cossack Squats and 50 Supine Leg Windmills (each way).

Calories: 2988, Protein: 170 g. (I lost 0.2 pounds this week, so my total loss is 24.2 lbs.)


The “Wyatt” Workout

I’ve been getting a lot of Crossfit style posts in my email lately, and one thing that I like is the concept of a “Workout of the Day,” or WOD. So I thought I’d put together a few of these WOD’s featuring general conditioning that works for my current situation, fitness level, goals, etc. I also like the Crossfit convention of naming the workouts sometimes using generic names, sometimes honoring military people, first responders and the like, while others just use the date it first came out or cute names like “Bad Karma.”

So, here is my first attempt at a WOD: “Wyatt.”

Wyatt seems like the kind of guy who deserves to have a workout named after him. 🙂

Wyatt

For Time: Perform this series of exercises quickly in the order written without sacrificing form. All Steps are one count for both feet up on the step and then back on the floor. Do 50 Hamstring Curls with each leg.

  • 50 Basic Left Steps (Switch to Basic Right half way through)
  • 50 Corner to Corner Steps
  • 20 Push Ups
  • 50 Straddle Up Steps
  • 20 Push Ups
  • 40 Dead Bugs, two-count.
  • 50 Hamstring Curl Steps
  • 20 Push Ups
  • 40 Dead Bugs, two-count
  • 80 Good Morning’s
  • 50 Charleston Steps
  • 20 Push Ups
  • 40 Dead Bugs, two-count
  • 80 Good Morning’s
  • 160 Hindu Squats
I found ‘Wyatt’s Toy’ to be a pretty good workout. My, isn’t he fierce?!

Beginning Level: “Wyatt’s Toy”

For Time: Perform this series of exercises quickly in the order written without sacrificing form. All Steps are one count for both feet up on the step and then back on the floor.

  • 50 Basic Left Steps (Switch to Basic Right half way through)
  • 50 Corner to Corner Steps
  • 15 Incline Push Ups
  • 50 Straddle Up Steps
  • 15 Incline Push Ups
  • 20 Dead Bugs, two-count
  • 50 Hamstring Curl Steps
  • 15 Incline Push Ups
  • 20 Dead Bugs, two-count
  • 30 Good Morning’s
  • 50 Charleston Steps
  • 15 Incline Push Ups
  • 20 Dead Bugs, two-count
  • 30 Good Morning’s
  • 45 Hindu Squats

Equipment Required: Step Aerobic Platform or something to step up on with both feet that is about 6 inches high.

If (like me) you find the regular workout more of a goal to shoot for than something you want to do tomorrow, then you can start with “Wyatt’s Toy” and keep adding reps until you reach the ability to do the full WOD.

For me, the main barrier is I can’t do very many regular push ups with good form, hence the incline push ups. Back a few decades ago, when I had trained myself to be much better at push ups than I am now, I found that doing inclines (gradually decreasing the incline as you become better at the movement) was a far more effective transition to regular push ups than doing them from the knees. Your mileage may vary, but that is what worked for me.

Movements Used in this Workout

Basic StepCharlestons
Corner to CornerDead Bug
Diagonal StepGood Morning
Hamstring CurlsHindu Squat
Push UpsStraddle Up

“First of the Year” 2021 Painting Challenge Roundup

We started off January with a challenge to showcase the first miniature people painted for January 2021 to start the year off right, painting-wise. We have a nice round up of first fruits of the year. If you click on the gallery pictures, they will lead to larger versions. As usual, if I missed anyone, please let me know and I’ll update the post with your work.

Dave Stone of Wargames Terrain Workshop was first out of the gate just a couple of days into January with his nicely painted space marine librarian sporting the colors of his Night Hawks chapter. Dave’s in-laws gave the model to him as a Christmas gift, which is nice. Better than a tie or some paisley socks, though as I think about it paisley socks sound better and better.

Looks like the mechacherub is no pushover either.
I like the yellow cloth and the freehand black detailing is nice too.

My friend, Daniel, a local, legendary Imperial Guard commander, has been playing a lot of Infinity these days and his first model of the year, according to the official lore “is a member of the Zulu-Cobra unit, a reconnaissance unit that specializes in asymmetrical warfare as well a niche for amphibious and jungle environments.” Daniel likes him because “he’s a very handy sneaky piece that can bring some cool surprises to the table.”

He’s from the PanOceania faction.

I was curious about the radar dish so I asked Daniel about it. He says it is “a jammer” that “can easily harass everything on the board” by shutting down the enemy’s communications and such. I’m told he is a pretty good shot with with a good, old fashioned firearm too. I like his cloak too; the hexagonal pattern is nifty.

Tom Douglass, the owner of Dragon Den Games in Stockton, California, finished his Death Guard Plagueburst Crawler as his first miniature of 2021. Tom says that Death Guard is “so liberating compared to my space marines or even Necrons, just because there’s no ‘wrong answers’ and nothing has to be uniform. Painting Ultramarines, I need to be exact, be sure not to overstep or overdo anything, it’s all very clean and shiny, which is also very satisfying, but in a different way entirely.”

Tom illustrates this Nurgle Ethos with a gap that he noticed while building his crawler: “There was a gap in the back when I was building it, and while I was wondering how I was going to fill it I decided, ‘You know what? how about “it’s broken” and bubbling gook out of the gap?’ Now it’s on purpose.”

I like that about Nurgle-based stuff too. Embrace the imperfections and treat them as enhancements. 🙂

Rolling on shrieking treads from the Death Guard to the Heer, we have John, 1st Baron Varnish, from Just Needs Varnish!, and his 20mm scale resin and metal German Sd Kfz 138 Ausf Hj Grille (“Grille” means Cricket), which was also called the Bison.

Which rivets are the ones John made to fix up some battle damage suffered casting the model?

John tells us that the Cricket was “armed with a 150mm heavy infantry gun and allocated to the support gun companies of panzergrenadier (mechanized infantry) regiments.” There were various versions built; the one shown here “used the chassis of the Czech LT 38 light tank, this vehicle being built by the Germans as the Panzer 38t” and provided “short range, indirect fire support.”

I like what John did with the camouflage. He details how he achieved this look in his post, so check it out if you are curious.

Nice diorama too.

Mick at Twitchy Bristles comes in with his repainted Eldar Farseer Ry’hil. He reports that his faithful eldar commander had distinguished himself in battle and deserved an upgrade. So into the paint stripper he went and the result below is new Ry’hil, ready to distinguish himself even further for Craftworld Ulthanash Shelwé.

Mick’s Ry’hil specializes in fighting Tyranids.

Mick writes that is much happier with the repainted model, “especially the green colors and how much better the bone colors ‘pop’ on the rest of the model.” Serendipitously, he “also managed not to spill excess varnish on everything this time,” so there’s that too. A fine kettle of spirit stones that would be, spilling varnish all over a war hero!

Mark of Mark A. Morin painted quite a few Aztecs over 2020 and his first completed miniature for 2021 is a Conquistador with a banner. Mark writes that the banner “is a representation of the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary that Hernan Cortes used during the Spanish Conquest.”

Part of a four man “Conquistador Foot Command” sold by Outpost Wargame Services.

I think Mark did a nice job with his bannerman as well as the other members of his command group. Check out the others members of the group on his site. I also liked the dioramas he put together for his Aztecs and I’m glad he did the same for these guys.

Mark is pretty serious about getting his Conquistadors painted — he’s running “Mark’s Conquistador Contest,” (complete with prizes) to motivate himself to paint them. I have to confess when I first saw the contest in my email I didn’t check it out right away, since I don’t have any Conquistadors to paint, but I wish I had before the entry date closed in early January, because it turns out the contest was to guess the date Mark would complete his forces. Lesson learned for next time!

Eric, of Candore Et Labore, graces our painting challenge with his “very old Bretonnian Green Knight,” that he painted after “stripping 99% of the old paint off the miniature, repairing some really bad gaps,” and repainting the miniature with what he’s since learned over the past twenty or so years.

He is certainly a nice study in Green.

Eric doesn’t think he’ll be playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle again, so he opted for a vignette. I think he did a very good job on it. Kind of makes me think that his old knight has been granted an honorable retirement as some sort of Protector of the Lonely Wood.

Maenoferren22, of Bogenwold, also decided to paint a Green Knight, the same miniature in fact that his “good mate Eric,” had already painted. He already had stripped the paint from his knight (I’m seeing a pattern here) along with a bunch of squires and such. Maeno decided to paint up a couple of retainers to accompany his lordship, though he “cannot actually remember which was finished first.” I know what he means. I’ve batch painted a group of miniatures before without really being able to remember which one I stopped working on first.

Steve, of Dreadaxe Games, painted an Imperial Guard/Astra Militarum Sergeant for his 2nd Infanty Squad as his first miniature completed for 2021. He opted to equip this model with a laspistol and chainsword “due to the fact that I ran out of bolters!” Steve also did a head swap from the Sisters Repentia kit for that “grizzled veteran appearance.”

It looks to me from the scars that the Sarge has both seen a lot of action and is hard to kill.

Steve is “currently batch-painting the 2nd squad in 2 chunks of 5.” He’s been painting these troops in a “fairly straightforward” way and “keeping the palette to a minimum,” which he’s been having fun with. I can see that. Although not fancy, the color scheme is effective and I think what one might expect to see for a typical field uniform. After all, not all of the Imperial Guard can march into battle looking like they just stepped out of the Napoleonic Wars or wearing giant, mutant bearskins. 🙂

Matt, “a Welsh bloke living in Vermont” at pmpainting, offers us a Reaper miniatures flashback to the 1970’s, Horace “Action” Jackson. Matt wrote that he “did [his] usual job of procrastinating over what colours to paint him,” and ended up looking to Google for his inspiration, settling on the pink pants pictured below (with just a hint of ’70’s flare).

I like Matt’s choice of colors for the clothing and agree with him that Horace is very suitable for inclusion in a collection of “zombie survivor” miniatures.

Continuing with the zombie survivor theme, Azazel, of Azazel’s Bitz Box, brings us “Old Betsy,” from the 10th Anniversary Edition of Last Night on Earth. I very much like the job he did on the weathering, including some bullet holes and a nifty, cracked windshield.

Kind of reminds me of an old (albeit red) truck that was moldering in my grandparents’ field when I was a child.

Azazel reports that he’s used “Old Betsy” in a number of different games, including “the entire campaign of” Zombicide’s Night of the Living Dead, where the truck stood in for the “cardboard car chit in almost all of the scenarios.” I agree with Azazel that the truck “can also work in any modern game, other zombie games and also quite a few post-apoc ones as well.”

Joe, of JoeSavesTheDay, brings us his Raptors chapter terminator hero, Brother Feurranator, with an assault cannon. I like the green color scheme and in a way it reminds me a little of Green Army Men.

Originally, Joe went with the gray basing in the pictures below but remembered that his “Raptors are all based in a reddish Martian wasteland setting,” even though it messed up his brass ammo casings. Perhaps he’ll put them back in at some point — that’s his hope.

Dave, of The Imperfect Modeller, painted “Alain,” a 28mm cavalier produced by Reaper. I agree with Dave that there was “quite a lot going on and a fair bit of detail” with the figure. He said that he kept “base work simple,” and I think it all came together nicely.

Note the freehand cross on the small shield device.

One of the commenters in Dave’s post mentioned that he was “surprised by the black shield on the back,” figuring it would be the same color as the device on the front. I was similarly surprised and think that the black shield was a very nice choice, both in terms of the “surprise” and also because with everything going on with the miniature having a solid bit of black and red was pleasing to my eye.

David, from Scent of a Gamer, brings us a welcome touch of Nurgle with his Corrupted Alchomite Stack that as you can see has been taken over by a trio of sickly, yellow nurglings. The base is “old packing material” and David “scatttered some bits of the sprue around as bits of twisted metal and broken railings,” which I thought was a nice idea.

The green piping suggests the stack is thoroughly blessed with the gift of Sacred Rot.

Kuribo, of Kuribo’s Painting, is enjoying Fallout from Modiphius Entertainment and his first completed miniature for 2021 is this Super Mutant Master. A solid plan — paint what you enjoy and are playing. I thought Kuribo had an interesting take on doing the flesh. It looks to me like it sort of could be mutant, desert camouflage. Perhaps the Mutant Master applied it himself but more likely, I think, it is a lucky mutation that gives him a better chance of closing the distance and whacking someone with his hammer before he gets filled with lead or arrows or whatever.

Given how big this guy is compared to an average person, that is one big sledge hammer he’s brandishing.

This guy is a “leader/elite model” that “is going to hit in melee close to 90% of the time.” Sounds like if you are see him coming at your forces, you’d better try to soften him up a bit before he gets in your face if you can, unless you have someone on your side who is similarly brutal or maybe is a master of defense!

The last entry for the painting challenge is that same puissant Chaos Lord who began the last challenge I sponsored back in 2020 — Wudugast of Convert or Die. He’s been painting forces for Warcry and his first miniature for this year is this Kairic Acolyte.

These fellows are “the human followers of Tzeentch, petty sorcerors and schemers who make up the rank and file of the cult.” This miniature, as Wudugast relates, comes from the Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower board game. I mostly know Wudugast for his excellent Nurgle and generally dystopian offerings, but it is good to see him turning his attention to some of the other Chaos gods as well.

Thank you very much to everyone who participated in the painting challenge. It is a fun, varied palette of work and I enjoyed putting this post together. I am toying with the idea of doing a Macabre March painting challenge where the idea is to paint some miniature that unequivocally qualifies as being horrifying, ghastly, gruesome, etc.

I didn’t get anything finished myself painting-wise for January, though I did make good progress on Frank’s Pig Demon’s clothes and I made a start on a friend’s dragon gnome for Dave Stone’s Paint What You Got and Alex’s Femburary challenges, both of which conclude at the end of this month.

Work Outs: January 31 – February 6, 2021 (The Beach is that way!)

A few weeks ago the main road we usually take to get home was closed while repair crews were dealing with all of the fallen trees and power poles (especially the latter) from the previous period of winds and rain that moved through the Santa Cruz area. So we took a back way to get home from some grocery shopping and such, which took us along the California State Route 1 coastal road, by lots of beaches. We stopped at one, that wasn’t too busy, for about ten minutes and had a look around before continuing on our way.

A bit of California State Route 1 not far from Santa Cruz.

Sun, January 31st

  • Recumbent Bike: 65 Minutes, Level 10, 70 – 80 rpm’s. I listened to the first half of Accept – Live At Wacken 2017 and varied the speed I pedaled to how I felt and the tempo of the music. I liked it when they brought in the orchestra complete with conductor.
  • I stretched a little then did the “Half Roundhouse Kick” Taekwondo lesson from Global Martial Arts University. Finished with three quick exercises, doing each for 20 seconds with a 10 second rest between each: Elbow Plank, Leg Switching, Hindu Squats. Then I stretched for ten minutes.

Calories: 2642, Protein: 152 g.

Mon, February 1st

Morning Walk: 3.18 miles. Calories: 2193, Protein: 120 g.

I see these plants everywhere and in goodly quantities around the coastal areas near where we live. The consensus of the various locals I asked about these succulents was that they are Ice Plants. They are apparently an invasive species that might have come in with ships hundreds of years ago, but according to Wikipedia was brought in for erosion control though “it actually exacerbates and speeds up coastal erosion.”

Rebecca wrote, “Also known as ‘Dead Man’s Finger’ because it resembles a hand reaching up from the grave.” 🙂

Too bad if that is true because I think ice plants are kind of pretty, especially when they flower. Also, according to Wikipedia and my local sources, the plant is reportedly edible and has a lot of different uses. One of my local contacts said that the plant is high in Vitamin C. So if I’m ever marooned on a desert island and see this stuff then I’ll try eating it to stave off the scurvy!*

Tues, February 2nd

Morning Workout

  • Recumbent Bike: 31 Minutes, Steady State Training, Level 10, 70+ rpm’s.
  • White Belt Drill #1: Side Kick Stretch, Elbow Plank (one minute hold), Front Kick Stretch, Jab, Leg Switching, Cross Punch, Front Snap Kick, Low Block, Half Roundhouse Kick Exercise, High Block
    • Do the ten movements moving from one to the next, resting only as needed to keep good form, since I am working on skills. (Do ten repetitions each side or for a 2-count.)

Captains of Crush Gripper (T):

Mid-morning I worked on the grippers while waiting at the Toyota dealership while our car was being serviced. I warmed up using a gripping egg and then the Guide and Sport level Grippers before moving on to the Trainer gripper. I also did a little finger extension work at the end.

  • (Set 1): Right = 8mm x 7 reps, Left = 12mm x 7 reps
  • (Set 2): Right = 8mm x 9 reps, Left = 12mm x 7 reps
  • (Set 3): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 10mm x 6 reps
  • (Set 4): Right = 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 10mm x 5 reps
  • (Set 5): Right = 4mm x 3 +2 reps, Left = 8mm x 3 + 2 reps
  • (Set 6): I did a final set with the Guide gripper where I moved my arm around in circles, down to my feet, behind my head, all over the place while working the gripper. I lost count of repetitions but I think it was in the 35 – 40 range with each hand. According to John Brookfield, in his book Mastery of Hand Strength, this “dynamic training” is to build hand strength “that can be applied to your particular sport or profession (21).

Afternoon Hike: 3.42 miles. Calories: 1995, Protein: 140 g.

The Pacific Ocean rolling in toward a sandy part of the beach.

Wed, February 3rd

  • Morning Walk: 4.07 miles.
  • Afternoon Run: 3.2 miles over mostly flat terrain on both trails and pavement. After the run, I strolled back for about a mile and once I found a likely spot off the trail I did White Belt Drill #1 in the park but substituted 20 four-count jumping jacks for the planks because I didn’t fancy getting down in the mud and then probably getting the inside of my car all dirty. Afterwards, I made my way to the car and did some quick incline side star planks on the fence before calling it a day.
  • Stretched for about 35 minutes in the evening.

Calories: 1994, Protein: 146 g.

Notice all of the ice plants!

I found this to be an interesting little scene near the beach. I thought the surf board was fun with the “bite” taken out of it. A cursory search didn’t reveal too much about the board or who Anne Frances Smith was. Perhaps once one can go to museums and such again, I’ll go by the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and ask them about the board. I’ve never been so it might be good to go in any case.

Thur, February 4th

Morning Walk: 2.51 miles.

  • Afternoon Workout: Warmed up using indian clubs doing the exercises in this video and this one.
  • Standing Cable Rows (Hog Bar): 70 lbs. x 12 reps, 80 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Cable Lat Pull Downs (Hog Bar): 70 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Pilates DB Biceps Curls (alternating sets of I & II): 5 lbs. x 4 sets x 15 reps
    • My biceps felt like they could use something a bit lighter and different today than the usual curls I’ve been doing, so I dusted off a Pilates book a friend gave me for Christmas some years ago.
  • Incline Push-ups with Scapular Mobilization (3rd Stair): 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Seated DB Cleans: 12 lbs. x 2 sets x 12 reps, 15 lbs. x 2 sets x 8 reps
  • DB Shrugs: 50 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • (Exercise Complex) Shoulder Internal Rotation with Abduction (orange band) 13 reps, KB Sumo Dead Lift 35 lbs. x 15 reps, Face Pulls 15 lbs. x 12 reps, Shrimping, Z-Shrimping, Table Makers 8 reps, Snap Kick Exercise (each leg) 20 reps
  • Bridging: Worked on increasing flexibility with the eventual goal of touching my nose to the floor. I used to bridge a lot years ago with good success but got away from doing it. I’m not sure why I ever stopped.
  • I worked the “White Belt – Solo Drill 1” and “Solo Drill 2” Taekwondo lessons on the Global Martial Arts University website.
  • I finished the session by following along (as best I could — I find Yoga pretty challenging!) with “Day 1 – Ease Into It – 30 Days of Yoga” by Yoga With Adriene. If you are looking for some free, online yoga I’d suggest giving Adriene’s channel a try. I find her videos to be excellent.

Calories: 1984, Protein: 154 g.

An interesting set of (mostly) stone steps leading down to the beach. They were kind of steep but that made them more fun to scuttle down and then back up again. As usual, no general shortage of ice plants.

Live Long and Prosper!

Fri, February 5th

  • I did a morning stretch before starting the day. (I’m going to start doing this every morning, when I get up, because it felt really good and it instantly cleared away the wake up fog.) Then we walked 3.54 miles.
  • I worked with the indian clubs a bit, not for exercise but to learn some new swings.
  • Visited the chiropractor later in the day.

Calories: 1831, Protein: 158 g.

An interesting bit of rock art on the beach. I was highly tempted to add a small rock to the top of the pile but decided I didn’t want to risk bringing the stone tower crashing down so I contented myself with this picture.

Sat, February 6th

Coc Trainer Gripper (100 lbs.)

  • (Set 1): Right = Closed x 2 reps + 6mm x 5 reps, Left = 10 mm x 8 reps
  • (Set 2): Right = Closed x 2 reps + 4mm x 5 reps, Left = 10 mm x 6 reps
  • (Set 3): Right = Closed x 1 rep + 4mm x 6 reps , Left = 10 mm x 9 reps
  • (Set 4): Right = Closed x 1 rep + 4mm x 4 reps, Left = 8 mm x 6 reps
  • (Set 5): Dynamic Training with the Sport gripper. I did 20 reps with each hand. I couldn’t close it all the way with my right hand after 17 reps and after 13 reps with my left. (Not as strong in the dynamic aspect as the other day.) I ended with some finger extension work and some thumb training using the gripping egg.

I achieved a sub-goal, that I posted back in November, of wanting to be able to close the Trainer gripper to 10mm for four sets of five reps with my left hand. The eventual goal is to be able to close that gripper for five reps with either hand. My new sub-goal, again with my weaker, left hand, is closing the Trainer gripper to 4mm for four sets of five reps.

Calories: 2013, Protein: 90 g. (I lost 1 pound this week, so my total loss is 24 lbs.)

We’ll close the book (for now at least) on ice plants with this short video someone shared with me about ice plants burning during the August CZU Lightning Complex fires that hit our area in August: “Just like trying to light a watermelon on fire.”

Next week I’m going to get started on the roundup post for the “First of the Year” painting challenge. In the meantime, I’m going to try and produce something for Alex’s yearly “Fembruary” and Dave Stone’s “Paint What You Got” painting challenges.


* I think some of the locals I asked about ice plants were worried I wanted to plant some and as I understand you can buy them at some local nurseries, but I just wanted to know what it is. If I ever plant anything it is more likely to be things like squash, potatoes, cucumbers and the like.

Work Outs: January 24 – 30, 2021 (Storms Over Santa Cruz and Chickpea Tagine Meal)

I’ve made a chickpea tagine dish for dinner a couple of times in our instant pot and we quite liked it. According to Shinta Simon, who wrote the article, tagine is “a flavorful stew made with spices, veggies and occasionally, meat, with origins in North-African cuisine.” I found the recipe on the Caramel Tinted Life website and paired the tagine with basmati rice. The next time I might serve it with naan.

I made the stew this past Friday and changed a few things this time around.

I used a full 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes instead of the called for 5 ounces because I didn’t want a bunch of left over canned tomatoes. Also, my husband greatly favors those lovely, red fruits as do I. I used low sodium vegetable stock in place of the water from the canned chickpeas and I added a big dollop of Harissa paste instead of the teaspoon the recipe called for.

It was good with the changes, but it wasn’t really any better than Shinta’s original recipe. Just different.

Also, the stew wasn’t hard to prepare. Just cutting up some stuff, sautéing the ingredients in my trusty, thrift store wok and then dumping everything into the instant pot.*

Although the recipe is pitched at non-carnivores, I do think it would also be good with chicken, pork or lamb if you are so inclined.

(Photo by Shinta Simon, used with permission.)

Sun, January 24th

We went for an afternoon walk of 2.81 miles. In the evening I stretched for about 35 minutes while watching television and then did some restorative work with the foam roller, Thera Cane, and so on.

I set a new goal for myself of being able to hook the tips of my fingers together behind my back à la mode de Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) like the woman in this article is doing. I’ll work on the whole pose during my stretching sessions, but for now I’m mainly going to focus on the arms portion.

Calories: 1834, Protein: 162 g.

Mon, January 25th

Morning Run: 3.2 miles (5 km). Five kilometers is the longest distance I’m going to run for now. I will continue to improve by decreasing the amount of time it takes me to run this distance with an eye toward participating in local 5K “fun runs” again someday. In the evening I stretched for 30 minutes and then did some restorative foam rolling, etc.

We’ve been having quite a bit of stormy weather here lately in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Last week, when I was out jogging, I ran across a lot of tree limbs and other debris on the trails and the fallen tree below. I took it as a sort of minor, functional fitness challenge and went through it as quickly as I could, contorting myself in as effective (but probably comic and ungainly too) manner as I could muster at the time.

Note the sawn trunk to the middle right from where a tree had fallen some time in the past.

We had a few days off from inclement weather but apparently the trees didn’t get the memo because today, when I was out running again, I ran across this scene below. This time, keeping with my previous attempts at semi-functional fitness, I duck walked under the trees and continued on my way. I thought about bear crawling but I didn’t want to get my hands muddy. One has to draw the line somewhere.

From the cut marks it looks like someone ameliorated the situation a bit so people could still easily use the trail.

Calories: 1904, Protein: 142 g.

Tues, January 26th

  • Morning Walk: 3.10 miles.
  • I spent most of the day deep cleaning and then rearranging our living room. I kept not liking how I had arranged things and doing it all over again. Finally I was happy but by the end of the day I felt like I had gotten in a full workout indeed. No weights needed!
  • Stretched for 30 minutes in the evening.

Calories: 1981, Protein: 154 g.

Wed, January 27th

Today I worked with indian clubs using this video and this one. I’ve been interested in learning more about the clubs for a long time in a “keep forgetting about it” kind of way, but I stumbled across some light, plastic clubs at the second hand store, that were cheap, so I grabbed them.**

Don’t know how far I’ll get into training with them but I can see right off that they’d be a fun way to warm up for my workouts. Also, they introduce more circular movements into my training, which is probably a good thing. One take-away from the session is the clubs don’t have to be heavy to get a good workout with them. A good thing I don’t have delusions of following in the footsteps of the mighty Iron Sheik!

I also found an interesting “fitness mace,” for cheap that I grabbed at the same time. More on that when I get around to using it, which will be when the weather clears up and I can use it outside so I don’t take out the pipes in our basement with an errant, overhead swing. In the meantime, I can always keep it handy in the living room for home defense in case we’re invaded by hordes of Dendra-clad Mycenaeans or perhaps Landsknechts.

I stretched for 30 minutes in the evening. Calories: 1890, Protein: 139 g.

Thur, January 28th

  • Recumbent Bike: 33 Minutes, Steady State Training, Level 10, 70+ rpm’s. I listened to some of Agnes Obel’s music to make the time go by faster while I pedaled. Her music is good for stretching or doing Yoga too, I think.
  • While my legs were still warm I did some stretching with an eye toward maintaining my ability to do a side-lunge stretch with my shod plant foot flat on the floor.
  • I finished off the morning session by working the “Stances,” “High Block,” and “Switching” Taekwondo lessons on the Global Martial Arts University website.
Those cut trees are new casualties from the recent and current storms. Note the tracked vehicle marks.
  • Warmed up using indian clubs doing the exercises in this video. The little head nod thing made me chuckle.
  • Arnold Press: 30 lbs. x 2 sets x 9, 8 reps, [(30 lbs. x 6 reps + 25 lbs. x 3 reps) x 2 sets]
  • Incline Push ups with scapular mobilization (3rd stair): 4 sets x 9, 9, 8, 8 reps
    • I have noticed that doing these often makes my lats sore. I asked the chiropractor about it and he said it is a sign that I’m keeping my shoulder blades properly retracted during the movement so “it is a good thing.” Glad to clear up that mystery!
  • DB Bench Press: 30 lbs. x 4 sets x 9, 10, 10, 9 reps
  • DB Lateral Raises: (15 lbs. x 5 reps + 12 lbs. x 5 reps), 12 lbs. x 3 sets x 10, 10, 9 reps
  • DB Front Raises: 10 lbs. x 2 sets x 12, 13 reps, 12 lbs. x 2 sets x 8 reps
  • Tricep Push Downs: 50 lbs. x 12 reps, 55 lbs. x 2 sets x 8, 7 reps, 50 lbs. x 10 reps
  • DB Hammer Curls: 25 lbs. x 2 sets x 8 reps, (25 lbs. x 5 reps + 20 lbs. x 3 reps), 20 lbs. x 8 reps
  • (Exercise Complex) FOUR ROUNDS: [Indian Club Chest Flies with head turn: 12 reps, DB Bent-Over Rear Delt Row: 15 lbs. x 8 reps, DB Wrist Curls with finger roll 25 lbs. x 12 reps, Side Kick Stretch (ea. leg) 10 reps, DB Reverse Wrist Curls 8 lbs. x 12 reps, Front Kick Stretch (ea. leg) 10 reps] Allow for a short rest only at the end of each round.
  • (Super Set) One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm): 12.5 lbs. x 13 reps, 15 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps +
    • (Set #1) Shoulder Abduction with External Rotation Exercise (orange band): 12 reps
    • (Set #2) Full Squats: 20 reps
    • (Set #3) Wrist Circles with indian clubs: 20 revolutions each way
    • (Set #4) Dead Bugs (2-ct): 26 reps
  • Stretched for 35 minutes in the evening and performed some restorative work.

Calories: 1878, Protein: 152 g.

The wind storms last week really did a number on our yard, in addition to knocking out the power and internet for most of the week. At least our area didn’t see anything like three years ago when the hills came alive and a tree came to visit. Our property was littered with all manner of redwood-based (and other culprits too) fragments and flotsam, from little needles up to branches some ten or twelve feet long, that when they fell could have dented in a car roof or done an injury to some hapless walker in the wind.***

The pictures above are from the end of one of the aforementioned twelve foot branches. This one missed our car by only a couple of feet. It interests me to think that huge trees like redwoods have such tiny, delicate-looking cones. Reminds me of the old saw about acorns and oak trees.

Fri, January 29th

  • Recumbent Bike: 33 Minutes, Steady State Training, Level 10, 70+ rpm’s.
  • Did a little stretching and worked the “Front Snap Kick (Instep)” Taekwondo lesson on the Global Martial Arts University website.
  • Finished off with a few quick exercises: Dead Bugs (2-ct) x 20 reps, Hindu Squats x 20 reps, Standing One Legged Calf Raises (each leg) x 8 reps, Bend & Reach x 12 reps, Alternating One-Handed Russian KB Swings (2-ct) x 15 lbs. x 12 reps
  • Visited the chiropractor later in the day.

Calories: 2151, Protein: 140 g.

I was impressed with some of those larger redwood branches in my driveway when I was sawing them up into manageable pieces. I suspect a couple of them had been up there minding their own business for a long time indeed before finally letting go. At least the greater organism — the redwoods themselves still live on. Nothing lives forever, at least not without bringing metaphysics into it, but redwoods do have the potential to live for thousands of years and that ain’t bad.****

Interesting to look at the rings and observe the yearly growth variations of the limb.

Sat, January 30th

I followed along on “Day 1 – Invite | BREATH – A 30 Day Yoga Journey,” a video by Yoga With Adriene. I noticed that I’m weak for doing planks so following my philosophy of paying extra attention to my weaknesses rather than just focusing on my strengths, I’m going to start introducing some plank work back into my regime. I was a little surprised because I used to be good at planks, but I haven’t done them in quite awhile. Use it or lose it!

We went for a nice, afternoon walk a little later for 3.28 miles. I noticed a couple more lumberjack’s log marks that I added to my growing collection. I like the one on the right. It reminds me of something you’d see in a Euclidean proof or in the context of sacred geometry or in a Freemasonry setting.

In addition to the wind storms last week we had some more storms this week, this time with a lot more rain. There was talk of evacuating some areas near burns scars, caused by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires this past August. Fortunately that never materialized and amazingly, we didn’t even lose power or internet at our house during the second round of storms.

We did come across two good-sized tree falls blocking the trail within maybe a hundred yards of each other as you can see in the picture below. I would have hated to have been wandering around the general area when these trees let loose!

Calories: 2075, Protein: 149 g. (I lost 2 pounds this week, so my total loss is 23 lbs.)

Next week I’m going to get started on the roundup post for the “First of the Year” painting challenge. The challenge ends on January 31st, but it’ll be fine if you get me your pictures over the next few days. In the meantime, I’m going to try and produce something for Alex’s yearly “Fembruary” and Dave Stone’s “Paint What You Got” painting challenges.


* Trusty and also slightly rusty!

** I suppose if I had been on fire to learn about the clubs I could have just used a couple of empty Pellegrino bottles or a couple of appropriately-sized sticks or something else to get started with some makeshift clubs.

*** I developed a great love of walking all over town in bad weather, lost in my own thoughts, from the earliest memories of when I was allowed to wander off by myself. Snug in my yellow raincoat, immune to puddles (no matter how deep) in my rubber boots and having to share the sidewalks with hardly anyone because the only people out where those who had to be, and strange children like myself who enjoyed rescuing worms from a watery doom during their alone time and still do even to this day.

**** One of these days I’ll have to put up some pictures from a display at the park we walk in a lot of a tree that while it is said to have met its end by falling and not via human hands, managed to do pretty well for itself nonetheless.

Work Outs: January 17 – 23, 2021 (Dragons of USPS, Brugger, and Marmite Peanut Butter)

I was out doing some yard early during the week in the aftermath of a wind storm that knocked out power and the internet over much of the area for most of the week.* That’s not too unusual up here in the San Lorzeno Mountains in the winter, but what is kind of unusual was seeing the mail lady pull up and start delivering mail with a bearded dragon on her shoulder!

The afternoon temperatures were in the low 70’s so she was “giving him some air,” which I thought was nice. Apparently he’ll just sit there quietly for the entire shift while his human delivers letters, packages and the like. Cute!

The mail lady said it was fine to put her picture on the webernet. Many thanks! 🙂

Sun, January 17th

Afternoon Workout

Recumbent Bike: 48 Minutes, Internal Training, Levels 10 – 16, 70+ rpm’s. I followed this video from the Vive Health channel. Coach Kim’s running commentary is fun to listen to and she makes the time go by quickly. Unfortunately they haven’t produced many recumbent bike videos so I’ll probably have to try some other sites to make the pedaling time go by quickly.

Worked the Taekwondo white belt “Jab” lesson on the Global Martial Arts University site.

I achieved a small goal I set back in October of being able to plant my foot (in shoes) flat on the floor doing the side-lunge stretch. My next goal is to be able to do this with bare feet and also to switch back and forth ten times without having to use my hands. I think the Cossack squats helped with this goal.

Calories: 2001, Protein: 161 g.

Mon, January 18th

Rest Day. My husband had the holiday off so we had fun going for a light walk down at one of the local beaches near Santa Cruz. I’ll probably put up a few pictures of the trip in the next week or two.

Calories: 2120, Protein: 116 g.

He doesn’t mind being on the internet either. Muchas gracias, pequeño dragón!

Tues, January 19th

Morning Walk: 2 miles.

Afternoon Workout

  • Standing Cable Rows (Hog Bar): 80 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Cable Lat Pull Downs (Hog Bar): 60 lbs. x 12 reps, 70 lbs. x 2 sets x 8, 6 reps, 60 lbs. x 13! reps
  • DB Curls: 25 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps, (25 lbs. x 6 reps + 20 lbs. x 2 reps)
  • DB Shrugs: 40 lbs. x 12 reps, 45 lbs. x 12 reps, 50 lbs. x 2 sets x 12, 10 reps
    • On the last set I did each rep with a two second hold.
  • (Super Set)
    • Shoulder Internal Rotation with Abduction (orange band): 4 sets x 12 reps
    • Face Pulls: 15 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • KB Swings: 35 lbs. x 20 reps, 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Wrist Rolling (standing on 16″ box): 15 lbs. x 2 sets x 2 windings up and down
  • Twist Yo’ Wrist: (standing on 16″ box): 6 lbs. x 2 sets x 2 windings up and down
  • Seated DB Cleans: 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Dead Bugs (2-ct): 25 reps
  • Full Squats: 30 reps
  • Walk holding Fitness Rock Overhead: 4 rounds of 20 seconds each with 10 seconds rest between rounds.

Calories: 1892, Protein: 148 g.

I have owned one lonely, red 15 lb. (6.8 kg.) kettlebell for many years and like using it for swings. It has also seen a lot of honorable service as a door stop, pressing tofu, holding down warped piece of linoleum in an apartment I used to rent, and so on.

I finally decided I wanted to swing something heavier so I’ve been grabbing onto one end of some of my dumbbells and swinging them like kettlebells. This worked well at first but I’ve noticed that as I use heavier weights it is becoming harder to maintain a good grip on the end of the weight. My hands simply aren’t large enough and the hexagonal dumbbells aren’t really suited for that kind of work. So enter Phoebus here on the right, which I recently purchased.

I’ll probably eventually get more, heavier kettlebells in the future, now that I’ve taken the plunge, but those are pretty far down the list of the gym toys I want to acquire.

Wed, January 20th

Morning Walk: 2.46 miles. I did some stretching and some restorative foam rolling and such in the evening. Calories: 2086, Protein: 170 g.

Thur, January 21st

  • Morning Walk: 1.91 miles.
  • Afternoon Jog: 2.10 miles. I did a set of 100 squats and some dynamic stretching as a warm-up. After the jog I found a nice spot in a clearing under the trees and did a Tabata Workout.
  • For the Tabata, I did an exercise for 8 twenty second rounds with 10 seconds of rest between each round. After 8 rounds, I took a one minute of rest and then repeated the process for 8 rounds of the next exercise and so on.
    • Side Kick Stretch
    • Snap Kick Exercise
      • I learned this from the Global Martial Arts University lessons I’ve been taking. It is a similar motion to using a leg extension machine. The idea is to bring your knee up like you are going to perform a kick but keep the knee elevated and do a bunch of repetitions where you are throwing a lot of snap kicks, hitting your imaginary target with your instep, without allowing your the knee to drop or your foot to touch the ground.
    • Front Kick Stretch
    • Alternating Standing Side Crunches
    • Full Squats
    • Body Weight Romanian Dead Lifts
    • Walking Lunges

Calories: 1934, Protein: 161 g.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking about peanut butter pine cones, Marmite and Vegemite in a conversation with Pat, when John mentioned Marmite made their own brand of peanut butter. That reminded me of those old commercials for Reece’s peanut butter cups where two people would have an accident and one of them would say, “You got peanut butter in my chocolate!” and the other person would exclaim, “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!” Then they’d both find that the synergy of the two together was better than either separate ingredient. So I thought that it might be fun to see if Marmite peanut butter was like that too so I bought some from Amazon.

It is giant Satsuma Season here in California again. My favorite of all the oranges!

Turns it that Marmite peanut butter is pretty good stuff. I like how it doesn’t have the unhealthy stuff that one often finds in many commercial peanut butters. It also has yeast extract and is fortified with B Vitamins and such. My husband likes it on toast or in oatmeal in the morning. I enjoy the tasty edge the yeast extract gives it, but I find it doesn’t go with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as well as regular peanut butter because of this edge, so I usually find myself still reaching for the Adams. The Marmite does work really well to my taste on a peanut butter and banana sandwich so that is good. All in all, it is nice stuff.

Fri, January 22nd

Morning Walk: 1.92 miles.

Afternoon Work out | (Music: Disturbed play list.)

  • I did the Taekwondo white belt “Cross” and “High Block” lessons on the Global Martial Arts University site.
  • Arnold Press: 30 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Incline Push ups with scapular mobilization (3rd stair): 4 sets x 8 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 30 lbs. x 4 sets x 8, 8, 9, 9 reps
  • DB Lateral Raises: 15 lbs. x 8, 8, 9, 8 reps
  • DB Front Raises: 12 lbs. x 12 reps, 15 lbs. x 8 reps, [(15 lbs. x 4 reps + 12 lbs. x 4 reps) x 2 sets]
  • Tricep Push Downs: 50 lbs. x 4 sets x 10, 8, 8, 8 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm): 10 lbs. x 4 sets x 10, 10, 11, 11 reps
    • DB Prone Rear Delt Row: 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 12, 10, 10, 10
  • DB Hammer Curls: 20 lbs. x 12 reps, (25 lbs. x 6 reps + 20 lbs. x 2 reps), 20 lbs. x 2 sets x 9, 8 reps

We went to the chiropractor on Friday afternoon for some “routine maintenance.” The doctor likes to give me various stretches and exercises every time I show up “because unlike many people I’ll actually do them,” and this time he gave me one that I find I really enjoy. It feels really good for the back and it is nice for people who spend a lot of time on the computer and/or hunched with a paint brush over Frank’s pig demon. It is also good for people who do a lot of pushing exercises such as push ups or bench pressing. He said I could just as easily do it standing up as well, which I did today (Saturday) when I was standing in line at the grocery store. Give it a try, it feels really good.

I have a three ring binder full of various stretches and exercises our good doctor has given us over the years.

Sat, January 23rd

Rest Day. I did some stretching and work with my Thera Cane in the evening. Next week I hope to include some pictures from the aftermath of the wind storms in our area and I’m going to start a new project of building a weight lifting platform for our home gym.

Calories: 1997, Protein: 147 g. (I lost 2.2 pounds this week, so my total loss is 21 lbs.)


* There is more wind and rain this time on the way so there is a good chance we’ll lose power and internet access next week too!

Work Outs: January 10 – 16, 2021 (Steam Locomotive Video, Forest Elves, and Paint Cat)

We like to go hiking on the trails at Henry Cowell State Park in Felton, California, which is about 15 minutes from our house. On one of our hikes in December 2020 we happened to be in the right place at the right time and I took some video with my cell phone of one of the steam trains making its way past us. The edited video is a bit over a minute and a half and you can check it out here or by clicking the video below.

The trains are run by an outfit called Roaring Camp and Big Trees, which offers rides through the redwoods and also offers a service shuttling people from Felton to nearby Santa Cruz and back again. The train in question is a Shay locomotive called the Dixiana and was built in 1912 by the Lima Locomotive Works of Ohio. Roaring Camp got their hands on the train in 1962.

Sun, January 10th

Afternoon Workout

  • Recumbent Bike: 30 Minutes, Levels 9 – 14 for the first 15 minutes and 10 – 15 for the second half of the session. I followed this video again. The workout was interval training along with some upper body range of motion work and getting off the bike for some quick calisthenics. I did four sets of leg lifts for 12 reps each. (Coach Kim doesn’t give us much time before we jump back on the bike!)
  • Mostly static stretching for 20 minutes.
  • Walked 5.17 miles.

Calories: 2096, Protein: 135 g.

Mon, January 11th

Morning Walk: Three miles. I went back to the park a couple of hours later and jogged two miles over mostly flat terrain. Calories: 2150, Protein: 125 g.

Tues, January 12th

I did the “Taekwondo Follow Along Class – White Belt – Class #1″ from Global Martial Arts University in the afternoon. I’ve taken a little Taekwondo in the past, but figure I’ll start at the beginning again since I didn’t keep up the training.

Afternoon Walk for 3.43 miles. Calories: 1797, Protein: 137 g.

There are a lot of forest elves living in Henry Cowell Park and one sees their anonymous handiwork quite a bit on the local trails. Their talents run to more than just decorating trees at Christmas. I ran across this little scene on top of a pile of rail ties not too long after taking the train video and I thought I’d include it here since it kind of fits with the whole railroad motif thing.

Wed, January 13th

Morning Walk: 3.35 miles and an afternoon walk of 3.92 miles for a total of 7.27 miles for the day.

I warmed up for the deck of cards by doing a bunch of high energy vacuuming down in the cellar and then worked the Taekwondo white belt “Stances” lesson on the Global Martial Arts University site. The lesson taught the difference between a sparring stance and fighting stance, ending with drills.

Deck of Cards Workout

SuitNumber CardFace Card
HeartsAlternating Stationary Lunges + Front Kick Stretch (2-ct) 10 Goblet Full Squats (30 lb. DB)
ClubsDead Bugs (3-ct)10 Cossack Squats (Four Point)
DiamondsStanding Side Crunches (3-ct)30 Squats
SpadesSnap Kick Exercise (2-ct)10 Rom. Dead Lifts (15 lb. DB’s)
AcesBlack = 20 Full SquatsRed = 20 Hindu Squats
First Joker20 Bridging Exercise (2-ct)
Second Joker60 Supine Leg Windmills (ea. way)

I noticed some irritation in the top of my right quad in the upper rectus femoris area when I was about half way through the deck. I learned long ago not to try and work through an irritation because this is the body’s way of trying and get you to stop doing something before there is a full blown injury. The only exercise I noticed this with was lunges, so I substituted kneeling squats (2-ct) for the remainder of the deck.

Toward the end of the deck I managed a few three point Cossack Squats. I still have some work to do so far as getting my heels flat on the mat when I’m fully in the down position, which is one of my current goals.

Deck of Cards workout music: Mirror of Souls album by Theocracy. Calories: 2081, Protein 150 g.

Thur, January 14th

Morning Walk: 3.12 miles. Calories: 2045, Protein: 132 g.

Fri, January 15th

Morning Walk: 3.89 miles.

Afternoon Work out | Weight Lifting Music: Aggressive Metal Songs Volume 1.

  • Reviewed Taekwondo white belt “Stances” lesson and did the “Switching” lesson on the Global Martial Arts University. “Switching” highlighted some of the basic mechanics of switching the legs for kicking.
  • Arnold Press: 25 lbs. x 12 reps, 30 lbs. x 7 reps, 25 lbs. x 2 sets x 8 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 25 lbs. x 12 reps, 30 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Incline Push ups (4th stair): 4 sets x 10 reps
  • DB Lateral Raises: 12 lbs. x 13 reps, 15 lbs. x 8 reps, (15 lbs. x 6 reps + 12 lbs. x 5 reps), 12 lbs. x 12 reps
  • DB Front Raises: 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 9, 8, 9, 9 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • DB Prone Rear Delt Row: 8 lbs. x 12 reps, 10 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
    • DB Hammer Curls: 20 lbs. x 4 sets x 10, 8, 8, 7 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • Face Pulls: 12.5 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • DB Flies: 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 45 lbs. x 12 reps, 50 lbs. x 3 sets x 9, 8, 8 reps
  • (Super Set) One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm): (12.5 lbs. x 5 reps + 10 lbs. x 5 reps), 10 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps +
    • (Set #1) Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
    • (Set #2) Crunches: 30 reps
    • (Set #3) Small Shoulder Circles (each way): 70 reps
    • (Set #4) DB American Swings: 30 lbs. x 12 reps

Calories: 2057, Protein: 161 g.

Sat, January 16th

Rest Day. Went to the chiropractor for routine maintenance. I tried to get Paint Cat to come down cellar and train with me (maybe some HIIT work chasing rats around?), but she said, “Naw, I’m good right where I am,” and after I thought about it I decided to join her. So ends another week.

Roxy is nobody’s fool.

Calories: 1887, Protein: 142 g. (I lost 0.8 pounds this week, so my total loss is 18.8 lbs.)

Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2020

I wrote an article for the 2020 edition of The Gongfarmer’s Almanac, which is an annual fan produced publication celebrating Goodman Games’ roleplaying games — particularly Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics.* I also helped edit three of the articles as well. The book is available as a free PDF download, so that is nice. I loosen the old purse strings for a hardcover copy for my collection, which is handy because it was a fun read and weighing in at a hefty 792 pages I used it to press tofu a few times before getting a tofu press for Christmas.

I like the art in the book. It has an old school feel that reminds me of some of the art I saw in roleplaying products back in the 1970’s and early ’80’s. Below is the dust jacket for the book.

Dust cover photo used by permission of Shyloh Wideman.

The book is a compilation of ready to use adventures, new classes, monsters, rules, tables and so on. My article is called “Another Man’s Trash,” which features a table of 100 different small, mostly junky, cast off items one might find during an adventure. The idea is to provide the Dungeon Master with a resource to generate some unique items when his players search around instead of having to come up with something off the top of his head or just saying, “You find 16 copper pieces and a bunch of junk.” The DM can pick an item he fancies or roll percentile dice. The choices range from the mundane to the bizarre.

A few examples of items you might find are:

  • Hardwood baby rattle shapped like a pig on a stick. Has been chewed on, probably by an infant with very sharp, little teeth.
  • Firesteel ring from a tinderbox set, in a pouch of moldy tinder.
  • Top part of the shell from a medium box turtle. “Achilles won the race at last,” is scratched on the inside part.
  • A single crossbow bolt that is completely black. The hunting tip is bent as if it hit a bone or punched through heavy armor.
  • Ball of yellow wax bigger than a hobgoblin’s head. Wrapped in cheesecloth. (An earwax collection amassed over many years!)

Many of the items are junk but a few are intrinsically valuable and many of them can be put to some unexpected uses by clever players.

The talented Matt Sutton drew the interior art for my article. He is a versatile artist and I think he also has a special gift for drawing dwarves. Our one-eyed friend is apparently showing off a chunk from an earwax collection he found (number 40 on the table).

Artwork used by permission of Matt Sutton.

Note that the article includes sub-tables allowing for cursed or blessed items or even items that are both cursed and blessed! So, with the right rolls one might get an earwax collection or some other item that is blessed to make a similar copy of itself once a week but also brings the possessor to the evil notice of a powerful devil. (Maybe the earwax collection was hers?)

I hope to contribute to the 2021 Almanac when the time comes. Perhaps another table of items one can find? Maybe something different next time, such as treasures, or in the same vein as “Another Man’s Trash,” so our DM has 200 items to choose from or maybe instead themed for the post-apocalyptic Mutant Crawl Classics game?

On a final, unrelated note, I’ve been having problems getting image captions to center with the block editor, so I had just stopped using captions. I do like my captions so this has annoyed me for awhile and based on what I’ve read on other blogs I’m not the only one who has this problem. I found this little tutorial that allowed me to easily solve the problem. As you can see from this post I now have lovely, centered captions. (At least they are centered on my machine!) I hope some of you reading this find it useful.


* I had no idea what a “gong farmer” was until I became interested in Goodman Games products and noticed this almanac. All I can say is it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

Work Outs: January 3 – 9, 2021 (Christmas in the Forest and Peanut Butter Pinecones)

I took an “active rest” from December 20th through January 3rd where I didn’t lift any weights but we did do a fair amount of hiking on the local trails. We got a little bit of a surprise out on one of our usual hikes, which made me smile, when we stumbled upon the Christmas Grove a few days before Christmas. Someone had spared no effort!

I’m making a couple of changes to my training with the start of the new year. First, after a few months of working in the 12 – 15 repetition range, I’m going to decrease that to 8 – 12 reps for many exercises and increase the set intensity a bit. I also decided to up my protein intake to about 150 grams per day. Finally, I’m going to pay a bit better attention to how much rest I take between sets, now that I’m aiming a bit more at muscle hypertrophy, and keep it in the 1 – 2 minute range rather than “just going when I feel ready,” though I’m still going to do that too.

Mon, January 4th

  • Arnold Press: 20 lbs. x 15 reps, 25 lbs. x 3 sets x 10 reps
  • DB Bench Press: 20 lbs. x 15 reps, 25 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • DB Lateral Raises: 10 lbs. x 2 sets x 15 reps, 12 lbs. x 2 sets x 12 reps
  • DB Front Raises: 10 lbs. x 12 reps, 3 sets x 13 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • Face Pulls: 12.5 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • DB Flies: 10 lbs. x 15 reps, 12 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • (Super Set)
    • DB Prone Rear Delt Row: 5 lbs. x 12 reps, 6 lbs. x 12, 15, 15 reps
    • DB Hammer Curls: 20 lbs. x 12, 8, 8, 7 reps
  • Tricep Pushdowns (tricep handle): 45 lbs. x 12, 10, 8, 8 reps
  • (Super Set) One-Handed Reverse Grip Tricep Pushdowns (d-handle, ea. arm) 12.5 lbs. x 4 sets x 10 reps +
    • (Set #1) Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
    • (Set #2) Standing Side Crunches (each side): 12 reps
    • (Set #3) DB American Swings: 20 lbs. x 15 reps
    • (Set #4) Small Shoulder Circles (each way): 60 reps

Calories: 1969, Protein: 151 g.

The Christmas Grove is a place where several trails come together and in addition to regular trees is also home to many Messed Up Trees. Besides the stand of trees pictured above, the forest elves also decorated single trees dotted around the grove as well. I thought it was rather nice of the elves to include a tree with edible decorations.

I have to admit the peanut butter and popcorn pinecone was a little tempting, but I resisted with some gentle help from my husband. “You really aren’t going to eat that are you!?”* I relented ostensibly because while I love peanut butter I’m not going to eat that stuff that is loaded with hydrogenated fats and palm oil. I am a peanut butter connoisseur after all!

Anyway, between the carrots, cranberries, popcorn, persimmons and so on it was a veritable smorgasbord for the critters. I hope whoever cleaned off that pinecone enjoyed it!

Tues, January 5th

Afternoon Walk for 3.43 miles. Calories: 1984, Protein: 154 g.

Wed, January 6th

Morning Walk: 3.14 miles and an afternoon walk of 3.44 miles for a total of 6.58 miles for the day.

Deck of Cards Workout

SuitNumber CardFace Card
HeartsAlternating Stationary Lunges + Front Kick Stretch (2-ct)10 Goblet Full Squats (30 lb. DB)
ClubsDead Bugs (2-ct)10 Cossack Squats (Four Point)
DiamondsStanding Side Crunches (2-ct)30 Squats
SpadesSingle Leg Balance Jacks (2-ct)10 Rom. Dead Lifts (10 lb. DB’s)
AcesBlack = 20 Full SquatsRed = 20 Hindu Squats
First Joker10 Full + 10 Hindu + 10 Squats
Second Joker30 Hip Raises + 50 Supine Leg Windmills (ea. way)

Stretched for 30 Minutes after doing the deck of cards. Deck of Cards workout music: Ghost Ship album by Theocracy. Calories: 2021, Protein 159 g.

Thur, January 7th

Morning Walk: 3.48 miles. We went for another walk in the afternoon for 3.54 miles. Our total for the day was 7.08 miles. Calories: 1985, Protein: 159 g.

Fri, January 8th

Morning Walk: 3.51 miles, and a 3.25 mile afternoon walk for a total of 6.76 miles. Calories: 1846, Protein: 159 g.

Here is a semi-lonely little tree in another part of the grove. My friend, Daniel (of Imperial Guard fame) said, when he saw the picture on Facebook, that it made him “think of the classic Charlie Brown tree,” and I can see that. It is a little weedy, though I don’t think it has quite managed to achieve a Charlie Brown level of weediness. 🙂

The Charlie Brown tree still had its ornaments when we walked by in the afternoon today, but I did notice that some of others were returned to their natural state with nary a plastic holiday ornament to be found. I’m hoping that whoever put up the decorations finishes taking them down by the end of the month. If they linger into February I might pack out a bagful each time I go by. Hoping I won’t have to though.

Sat, January 9th

A bit of new notation today: The bang or exclamation point after a rep number means that while I completed the indicated reps, I’m not happy with my form at that weight, typically for the last rep or two.

Morning Walk: 2.22 miles.

Afternoon Work out | (Music: Disturbed play list.)

  • Standing Cable Rows (straight bar): 70 lbs. x 13 reps, 75 lbs. x 3 sets x 9, 8, 8 reps
  • DB Pull Overs on Bench: 30 lbs. x 4 sets x 10, 9, 9, 8 reps
  • Pull Downs (d-handles): 60 lbs. x 8! reps, 55 lbs. x 3 sets x 12, 11, 12 reps, 60 lbs. x 8! reps
  • DB Bicep Curls: 20 lbs. x 12 reps, (25 lbs. x 5 reps + 20 lbs. x 3 reps), (25 lbs. x 3 reps + 20 lbs. x 2 reps + 15 lbs. x 3 reps), 20 lbs. x 8 reps
  • DB Shrugs: 30 lbs. x 15 reps, 35 lbs. x 15 reps, 40 lbs. x 15 reps, 45 lbs. x 13 reps
  • Seated DB Cleans: 10 lbs. x 15 reps, 12 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Cable Crunches: 40 lbs. x 4 sets x 15 reps
  • Exercise Complex
    • Fitness Bag Pick Up and Shoulder: 8 reps
    • Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 25 reps
    • Wrist Roller (cable): 15 lbs. x 1 winding and unwinding
    • Internal and External Shoulder Rotation taking place anterior to frontal plane (orange band, both arms) x 15 reps**
    • DB American Swings: 25 lbs. x 15 reps
    • Heavy Spring Bar: 4 reps (P) + 4 reps (S)
    • Internal and External Shoulder Rotation (black tubing, both arms): 15 reps
    • Face Pulls: 15 lbs. x 15 reps
    • Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Sport):
    • (Set 1): Right = Closed x 10 reps, Left = Closed x 9 reps
    • (Set 2): Right = Closed x 9 reps, Left = Closed x 5 reps + 4 reps
    • (Set 3): Right = Closed x 8 reps, Left = Closed x 4 reps + 4 reps
    • (Set 4): Right = Closed x 7 + 1 reps, Left = Closed x 4 reps + 4 reps

Calories: 2020, Protein: 154 g. (I was the same weight as the last time I weighed myself in mid-December, so my total loss remains at 18 lbs.)


* No I wasn’t, but I did have fun seeing the look on his face when he thought I was going to try a sample. I do love peanut butter after all!

** I’m going to have to poke around and see if I can find a proper name for this exercise.