Thursday, June 30, 2011

The More Things Change...

The more they stay the same.
An interesting movement in the smart phone market is playing out between the Android OS phones and the iPhone. The Windows 7 phone that I thought would take much of the market share is out of the picture, because Microsoft can't figure out that it is the apps that make the phone, and for apps you need a centralized place to get them. Too little too late MS!!

Anyway, back in the good old days, Microsoft and Apple, lead by Steve Jobs, duked it out for OS supremacy on the PC. Apple insisted that you had to buy their hardware with their OS. Configuration and software development was strictly regulated. For innovations in hardware you had to wait for the latest generation of the Macintosh.
Microsoft, on the other hand, allowed their OS to be hardware agnostic. Many different hardware companies used the DOS OS. Hardware innovation moved out of the factory and directly to the consumer nearly directly. Software development and configuration was wide open.

The result of the War of the OS? Apple was nearly destroyed as a company, Microsoft actually saved the company to preserve their Office suite for Macs. Then, the iPod came out and revolutionized Apple as a company.

After the iPod gave Apple the revenue stream to thrive as a company the CEO, Steve Jobs again, went for a market that no one in a million years thought Apple would want to dive in to. Jobs wanted to combine the PC with the iPod, with the mobile phone. The result was the iPhone. It revolutionized the industry. The iPhone's touch screen interface changed all user interfaces to come. It shook up EVERYTHING. Just as an example of how far the revolution has gotten, even the complex GPS devices in aircraft avionic suites are now all touch screen based, with icons very similar to that of the iPhone.
Apple was again on the top of the heap, but they had a familiar restriction. The iPhone could not be customized and software development was restricted. You can only run the iOS on hardware that Apple provides.

The rest of the industry struggled to catch up, and an interesting thing happened. Google released their Android mobile phone OS. It was hardware agnostic. It could be configured in all sorts of different ways. Software development was wide open. BOOM!! The popularity of the phone took off as, just as in the OS wars, hardware innovations went directly to the Android consumer as hardware manufacturers vied for market share. Apple, again, was left to play catch up, implementing hardware changes on their latest phones that were already obsolete when the new version of the iPhone was in development.

As the release of the iPhone 5 looms sometime late Q3 early Q4 of 2011, speculation is that it will be delayed to upgrade hardware that the latest generations of the Android clones have already released. Apple is slipping, and will soon fall to the wayside just as they did when they lost the OS war. And it is for the very same reason.

I think this fatal flaw of Apple comes from its CEO, and spiritual leader, Steve Jobs. Steve is a control freak of epic proportions. His products must be his in all ways. Design, look, feel, configuration, and development. He can not stand the fact that someone other than him may want to change something so elementary as what tone is sounded when a text is received. iOS has been through many major and countless minor revisions, and STILL there are restrictions on this very basic function.

It was fun while it lasted Apple. I hope that some other company will be there to shake up the industry like you did, to drive the next generation of innovation. Perhaps they will be a little less control freakish and will allow the industry to feed off their innovation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gym Drama

In the world of Martial Arts words and concepts like strength, honor, and humility are thrown around as the hallmark of arts and gyms around the world. The truth is that those that seek to learn martial arts, in modern times, are looking to fill some sort of insecurity. They are looking to learn how to dominate another man. Those that find their identity in their martial art, especially the competitive arts, tend to have the athlete's lust for the cheering crowd, with a healthy dose of this insecurity that drove them not only to the martial arts, but to use their art to actually step on to the competition field and test themselves.

The training atmosphere of a competitive gym forges friendships and trust within the group. You must trust one another to let go when someone taps out. You must trust that your partner won't knock out completely out when a lesser skilled fighter trains with the more skilled fighter. A mutual respect grows, as well as a sense of loyalty. When someone in the group does something that you don't expect, a feeling of betrayal is felt. Just as if a loved one did something to deeply wound you, the sense of betrayal is intense and deep. Couple that with the inborn insecurity that pulls the martial artist to the arts, and you have a bunch of guys who act like kindergartners when something does not go their way.

Thus we have the situation at my gym... Very much he said she said at this point, but what it boils down to is that the owner of the gym will not pay for something, unrelated to work or fighting, that one of the instructors thinks they should pay for. Feelings are hurt, and the instructor has decided to leave the gym. Bad blood all around. Both the owner and the instructor are feeling the sting of deep betrayal.

What sucks is that it is the members and fighters of the gym that will suffer, as we loose a friend and a mentor. What started out as such a great place with world class instruction in the stand up and the ground arts, has become just another gym.

In an earlier post, I remarked how good it was to be learning again from the source. In Muay Thai I was learning from a world champion, as well as a guy who has trained and fought in Thailand. In BJJ I was training with a guy who is a black belt from one of the best and well respected schools in Brazil. With the Muay Thai instructor leaving, the Muay Thai instruction comes from just another MMA fighter who has trained some kicks. It is not Muay Thai. It is MMA "Stand up", or Kickboxing heavily flavored with a reluctance to clinch brought on by the fear of the take down. In other words... Nothing special, nothing unique.

Unfortunately, all of this could have been avoided, had the owner of the gym clearly stated his expectations for the instructor, or if the instructor could see the point of view of the gym owner. Instead, they both decided to put on their fighter faces and become immovable objects. One must dominate the other, and the situation has tore the special uniqueness of the gym apart.

To me, now, this is just another BJJ gym. Sure, I like the instruction. I will most likely stay there, but I am unsure if I will stay in what was the Muay Thai class. I really don't see why I should pay the extra money for a class with an instructor who has less experience that I do. The cost that I pay for the kickboxing classes is significant, and without the world champion there to train with what is the extra value that I get? I am glad I only did a three month contract. I will train with the MMA guy, and see if I want to stick with it at the end of the summer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CNN Republican Debate

Last night CNN decided who they think should win the Republican nomination, and pretty much ignored the rest. Most of the questions were shot at Mit Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Michelle Bachmann, with Herman Cain and Ron Paul virtually ignored.

A lot of what is going on is that the producers at CNN, and the rest of the media, wish to marginalize the Libertarian candidates. These candidates are seen as kooks of the fringe right, and therefore should be excluded from any of the "serious" questions. And so Romney was asked about ObamaCare, and Herman Cain was, again asked about why he would not allow a Muslim on to his Cabinet. This is, of course, an attempt to paint Herman Cain as a bigot by using a misquote taken during an earlier interview. Mr. Cain was saying that he would not allow a Muslim committed to Sheria law on his cabinet, just as he would not allow a Communist, or a Catholic who's first commitment was to the Pope on his cabinet. BUT, it is always quoted as Herman Cain would not allow a Muslim on his cabinet.

The sky is falling. We have spent, and more importantly, printed money to the point of fiscal exhaustion. The country is bankrupt, and the only way out of the mess is through self reliance. Not the collective self, the individual self. The 70 or so year experiment in American collectivism is a dismal failure, and it is high time we return to the freedom that our founding documents guarantee. Herman Cain or Ron Paul will be a good first step in leading us back to freedom. But, there were stuck in the back of the bus answering silly questions such as Deep Dish or Thin Crust. Why was he not asked about the FairTax? Why not ask about his plan to stimulate the economy? By the way, his plan to stimulate the economy is to offer a tax amnesty on funds held in overseas accounts. This is an estimated $13 to $17 TRILLION dollars. An amnesty is thought to bring about half that back to the U.S. How about a $6.5 trillion dollar injection in to the economy with the Government not having to break a sweat? That is 6 times the amount of the laughable trillion dollar Obama shovel money to government project stimulus that aided in the bankrupting of the country without adding any long term jobs. Kick in the FairTax and a good 90% of that money comes home.

These kinds of ideas are unthinkable to the liberal mind. Letting people keep their money without getting to redistribute that wealth is a concept that is akin to lining up school children and shooting them. Unthinkable. Therefore these kinds of ideas are destroyed as tax cuts for the rich, and telling people that it will "cost" the Government X about of dollars to do.

So, the more acceptable candidates are paraded out. Those that are easy to destroy (Bachmann, Gingrich) and those that will work with liberal side of the field (Romney). Those that will stand up and fight, those that can not be easily destroyed in their personal lives (Cain, Paul) are made to seem as morons, and bigots.

Way to go CNN!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Think Imma Pass OUT!!

A man and a woman recently joined my gym. They simply joined at the same time, they are not related in any way... Well... I do live in Oklahoma, so they may be related some how (hahahahahahahaha Oklahoma jokes are funny). Anyway, both are morbidly obese people. She weighing about 300lbs, he well over 400lbs. Neither had any martial arts experience before. They knew what the UFC was, but hadn't seen many, they had no idea what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was or what Muay Thai was. I asked them why come to American Top Team, and both said they wanted to try an exercise program, but didn't want to go to an "exercise" gym.
I go to the day classes, and what I have found in every gym I have ever been to, that the day classes usually have a more fit group of people that show up. Mostly because the day classes are smaller, and you get a harder more focused work out. Also, for some reason, the day class people are a tighter knit group than the night people. So the day class people tend to push each other harder, and tend to seek out the other day people that miss class to find out why.
So here are these two new people. They have no idea what they are getting themselves in to. You don't need any equipment to get an intense very difficult work out. (Do 50 squats in place and tell me that it didn't suck.)

Anyway, getting to the point... Everyone in class welcomed the new people, telling them to listen to their bodies, and that we only care that they try. At the start of the warm up we typically run around the mat. Everybody runs at their own pace. Right from the start, after maybe two laps, the woman just stops. She is red in the face and huffing and puffing like she just ran a marathon... And maybe she felt like it. Her fitness level was such that she simply could not keep even a slow pace for very long. The man was doing the same thing not much later. Instead of having them just stop, the instructor had them walk. They thought that they could do this so they started that.
As the body starts to warm up from the run, we do exercises to get the heart rate up. Pushups, burpies, squats, all sorts of stuff. Of course our two new students could not hack it. Instead of not doing anything at all, we just asked them to try. If you can't do 50 squats, can you do 5? If you can't do 25 push ups, can you do one? Can you do one from your knees? Once the two new students learned that the only failure in class was not to participate not to try, they began to attempt the exercises in one form or another. All the while the instructor telling them to listen to their bodies. If they felt any pain, they needed to stop. After the 20 minute warm up was done we have a short session where you stretch on your own. Then we move in to techniques. Clearly, these new people had not exercised 20 minutes in a very long time. The woman was grabbing her side and said, in a very loud voice:
"I think... I think... I think Imma pass out!!!"
After determining that she was not going to pass out we moved on to techniques. They were shown the basics, how to punch, and kick. For every technique that the new people did, the group did maybe 10.
After class I was sure that I would never see the new people again. For not going to an exercise gym, they sure did exercise.
The next time I went to class, there were the two new people. Sore, and stiff, but ready to go. They didn't do any better this class than they did last class, but they knew to listen to their bodies, and to try.

Over the next few weeks, I saw them at class at least twice a week. Working out, enjoying the class, and even starting to joke with the regular class members. About a month after they started, the woman announced that she had to go and buy new clothes, she had dropped nearly 50 lbs since starting the class. The man admitted that he was on his last belt hole, and that he too would soon need to buy new clothes. I remarked to them how they could now run the entire warm up with out stopping, and could do 2 one minute rounds on the Thai pads.
The man said something that hit me as very insightful, he said that the hardest thing he had to figure out was the difference between discomfort and pain. Injury is pain. Working hard in the gym is just discomfort.

This is the power of just trying. Your body hates to work harder than it is used to. It likes to stay where it is comfortable. It takes a conscious will to force the body out of its comfort zone. When out of its comfort zone... It sucks. There is definite discomfort. The body will complain like a 3 year old child that wants candy. The longer the body has been in its comfort zone, the worse the discomfort will be. Then something happens. The body will adapt to the new stress, and soon will incorporate this new stress in to its comfort zone. They you have to do the whole conscious will thing to get it out of its comfort zone again. But if you just try, you can achieve these things.

I admire these two new students. They obviously have not cared about their fitness until now. They obviously were content to stay in their body's comfort zone, until now. The hardest thing about working out, is getting your ass off of the couch. And for those two people, getting their asses off of the couch took some serious guts.
We now use the phrase "I think Imma pass out!" as kind of an inside joke in the day class. No one gets a bigger kick out of it than its originator. She sees it as a milestone to where she was, and how far she has come.

If you are not doing any exercise, or are looking to start an exercise regime, first... See your doctor. Make sure that your body is healthy enough for exercise. Then... try. Slowly run that 1/2 mile, listening to your body the whole way. Find out the difference between discomfort and pain. Keep your self in that discomfort zone, and far away from the pain zone. Pain requires time to heal. Discomfort just needs rest.