Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Knee Surgery

Remember back in August when I was looking for a gym?  I said I had a nagging knee injury?  It just wouldn't go away.  It prevented me from fully flexing my knee, and would POP very loudly when forced to fully flex.  After it would pop, which would happen in just about every class I would go to, it would swell up and be very sore for about a week.  I could only show up to about one class a week because of the problems.  So...  I went to the doctor.  I thought that I might have a torn meniscus, and that was the case.

He sent me to get an MRI.  That confirmed a significant tear in my left medial meniscus.

Only one way to fix it, so under the knife I went.

When he got in there he saw that the meniscus was not just torn.  It was "shredded." What was causing the problem of me not being able to flex the knee fully was because the meniscus was bunching up under the femur, and the popping sound came from the femur riding over the bunch, and slamming down on the other side.  Instead of a meniscus repair, I underwent a meniscectomy.  The cut most of the medial meniscus out of my knee.

I ended up with good news and bad news.    The good news was that recovery would be easier, because...  well...  There wasn't anything there anymore.  The bad news was that I would DEFINITELY develop arthritis in this knee that would eventually lead to a total knee replacement later on.  Unless medical science can figure out how to regrow me a meniscus and other cartilage between now and then.

So, while recovery was easy, after the swelling went down, I regained full strength in my left leg within 3 weeks, I still needed to give it time to heal fully.  My wife and I agreed that I would not go back to the gym until January 2014, giving me three full months of recovery.
The only think I found strange about the whole procedure was that my knee "squished" right after surgery.  My wife said that it was a combination of all of the fluid that the body produces normally (swelling), and the fluid that the surgeons used to flush out my knee after surgery.  It was yucky.

So, I am ready to head back to the gym.  I have to wait just a bit for the gym to open, the black belt went to Brazil for the holidays.  It will be about two weeks before I can go back.  I am very anxious to come back to training, because I really want the surgery to have been successful.  I think that it was, as I am now able to sit cross legged (Indian style) and sit on my heels again.  I couldn't before the surgery.  But, I also know that I haven't been able to really test the knee out fully since the surgery.  I hope that I can go back to training.

The Power of The Suit

I used to be one of those guys who really didn't care how he dressed.  I would push the absolute limits of any company I worked for's dress code.  I resented being told what to wear.  Then I went to work for a large management consulting firm.  Their dress code was very specific.  I had  to wear a shirt and tie every day, including Friday.  I had to wear a suit to any meeting with a client.  It was then that I learned the power of the suit.

We at the Firm, would go to a client meeting, many times with other competing firms in attendance.  The other firms would typically be wearing the same thing as the client.  Knit Polo shirts and khaki pants.  Many times the other firm would wear matching shirts.  We would be in our suits.
We would present our ideas, they would present theirs.  Sometimes our ideas were better, sometimes their ideas were better.  Almost every time, regardless if we had the better idea or not, or if the client had a long term relationship with one of the other firms, the client sided with us.

This really interested me, especially after we won some business off of a proposal that was so obviously inferior to the other firm's proposal that I almost told the client that they were making a big mistake.  So I asked an executive that I had been working with what he thought was up.  He told me something quite profound.  He told me that no matter what ideas the other firms bring to the table, we would carry more credibility than they would simply because we LOOKED like we should be listened to.

He said that when we walk in to the room, we look like the more successful, and therefore better firm, because of the way we are dressed.  He said that the other firms look like the check out guys at Best Buy.  We look like serious business professionals.   Therefore when we presented our ideas, even if they were substandard ideas, our proposals carry more weight.

But, I objected, don't business people make decisions, with potentially millions of dollars at stake, using reason and facts and figures?
That's bullshit, he said.  People make decisions with their hearts, then use reason to back up their decision.  Getting them to make that decision in your favor means going out of your way to look like someone that they can trust, then talking to them in the way that they like.  Why do you think I had you do this proposal over Kick Ass Sales Guy?
I thought that you needed a tech guy to answer any tech questions.
Were there any tech details discussed or even mentioned that we needed you to explain?
Then why take you over Kick Ass Sales Guy? The other firms had their kick ass sales team there, why not us?
I guess I don't really know.
Because that client hates sales guys almost as much as you do.  In fact I have heard him use the term "Sales Weasel" before, just like you.  That client likes tech guys.  He likes guys that get to the point, and are all about providing a solution.  If I would have brought Kick Ass Sales Guy, or if you would have shown up not in a suit, we likely would have lost that business.
That absolutely shocked me.  Not because of his rather cynical take on human nature, but the fact that he was absolutely right.

I have taken this advice and moved it forward.
I always wear a suit on the first day of a new job.  I always wear a suit to any type of presentation.  I make sure that my suits are property tailored to fit me.  I make sure that my tie is of yellow or red, and that the knot is perfect for the occasion.   I take care to make sure that the tie has a proper and natural looking dimple, or no dimple at all.  My shirts are pressed, and of high quality.  All of this is to cultivate an image of someone you can trust.  Someone who "looks" confident.  Someone you can rely on.  This is all from the power of the suit.
And it works.

Think about it for a moment.  Picture two people exactly the same in every way.  Experience, ability, everything.  Put one in a poorly fitted wrinkled shirt and a tie that is poorly knotted.  His pants are of low quality and they are wrinkled and ill fitting.  His shoes are a cheap slip on that are badly scuffed.  He looks like he perhaps slept in the clothes.

The other one put in to a perfectly fitting, high quality suit.  His shirt is high quality and pressed.  His tie is tasteful, red and navy striped and is tied with a Windsor knot.  The dimple is centered and symmetrical with the knot.  His shoes are of good quality and shined.  He looks like a million bucks.

Both of these guys are up for a job that will pay six figures a year and potentially make the company millions in return.  Who do you hire?  The guy in the nice suit, every time.  In fact I have seen this very scenario play out when I was doing hiring for the firm.  The ones dressed correctly, always got preferential treatment.

I no longer look at my dress to the office as something that is simply required of me.  I take pains to make sure that I now dress just a little bit better than anyone in the office.  I take a little flack from the other IT guys, but when it comes time to present ideas and have decisions made, my ideas are adopted, more often than not.  It isn't because my ideas are better.  It is because my dress amplifies my confidence, and amplifies my credibility.  Therefore, my ideas speak louder than the others.

Monday, October 7, 2013


I went to Oktoberfest in Munich this year.  It was something that I have always wanted to do.  I really enjoyed it.

A little history first.
Oktoberfest started out as a celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig's wedding on October 12th in 1810. He was married to  Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.  As was the Bavarian tradition, a series of horse races were held.  After the event, the grounds were named Theresienwiese ("Theresa's meadow") after the Prince's bride.
The city of Munich decided to hold races, with an agricultural show, the next year, and Oktoberfest was born!

Now, beer has always been a HUGE part of Bavarian culture, mainly because the water in the region has always had a good deal of bacteria growing in it.  The boiling process in the brewing of beer killed the bacteria, and the hops used to spice the beer acted as a natural antibiotic, so the bacteria never had a chance to grow back.  Thus, beer was drank instead of water.  Over the years, the festival became more and more focused on beer than on horse racing or agriculture.  Today it is mostly about beer.

There is only one style of beer served at Oktoberfest.  It must conform to the Reinheitsgebot or the ancient German beer purity law.  The Reinheitsgebot states that the ingredients of beer can only be barley malt, water, hops, and yeast.  Also the beer served at Oktoberfest must only be brewed IN Munich.  This limits the beer vendors to just 6 breweries.

The beer style is the Oktoberfest beer or Märzen style. Why Märzen??  Well, before refrigeration, it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer due to the hot weather and bacterial infections. Brewing ended with the coming of spring, and began again in the fall. Most beers were brewed in March (Märzen get it??). These brews were kept in cold storage cellars over the spring and summer months, or brewed at a higher gravity, so they’d keep.
Oktoberfest celebrates the beginning of fall, and the new brewing season, so the beer that was served in the good old days was all of the left over beer that the brewers wanted to get rid of before their fresh brews were ready.
Now, because the beers that were to last throughout the summer were brewed with a little bit more hop and a little bit higher gravity, and set to ferment longer than other German beers, they tended to be full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color with a medium to high alcohol content.
The common Munich Oktoberfest beer served at Wies'n (what the locals call the Theresienwiese) contains roughly 5.0-6.0% alcohol by volume.

Who has the best beer?  That you will have to taste for your self, but, in my opinion the Augustiner-Bräu version is the best.  It also has the added touch of authenticity of being fermented in the traditional large wooden barrels.  It is not as high in alcohol as the other brews, but it is much more complex and rich in its taste.

Because the early Oktoberfests were mainly agricultural shows, the people who attended them tended to be of the farming class.  And what did these farmers of Bavaria wear?  Lederhosen!!!!
Today you can go to Oktoberfest without wearing lederhosen, but it is much more fun if you do!!
What I found was this...  the Munich locals tended to be kind of aloof of most of the visitors.  If you were wearing normal clothes, they kind of pretended you weren't there.  They really wouldn't go out of their way to let you sit at their table, but they wouldn't prevent you from sitting down either.
If you were wearing on e of the really stupid Oktoberfest hats, they treat you with outright disdain.  They actively prevented you from sitting down with them or even being in their general area.
If you were wearing a bad quality lederhosen they might give you a little nod, but mainly they rolled their eyes at you.  They would let you sit down, and might even make a little room for you.

If you show up wearing a good quality lederhosen, it is very easy to tell the difference between good and bad lederhosen, the correct shirt, and a good traditional hat, the locals treat you like one of their own.  They make room for you at their tables, they ask you who you are and where you are from.  I had one table insist on buying us beer when they learned that we were from the United States.  This was the same table that told the guy with the funny hat to pound sand.

So...  What tips do I have for Oktoberfest?

  • Buy some good quality lederhosen.  I went to Angermaier in Munich.  They sell the good stuff.  You will end up spending about 200 Euro for a full outfit, so plan for that.  You can get away with lower quality stuff, but see above for the local's reaction.  We went all out, and the reception we got from the locals was well worth it.  They went well out of their way in every tent to make sure we had a seat, beer, if we needed help with food, everything.  Those not dressed as we were did NOT get that same treatment.
  • Find a day during the week to go.  The tents hold about 10,000 people, and they fill up FAST.  If you go during the week, you might get a seat without a reservation.
    If you go on a weekend, or on the holiday, forget about getting in to a tent.  The tables will be mostly reserved, and you just won't get in. 
    • If you ARE going on a weekend, you can get a table reservation online.  Do it WELL in advance, because they go fast.  Unfortunately, you will have to stay there the whole time because, "Shuffle your feet loose your seat" rules are in FULL effect.
  • Tip your server FIRST.  Yes, yes, yes, you aren't supposed to tip in Germany.  That's if you are not competing with 3,000 or more people for a single waiter.  If you give the server an extra 10 Euro after when she comes with your first beer, you can rest assured that she will visit you often, and bring you your food and beer quickly.
  • Do a little research and know how to pronounce the food choices, AND what you want to have, before you sit down...  The servers do not speak English and they don't have time to wait while you stumble over words or try to decide what you want to eat.
  • There is only one style of beer, Märzen, and there is only one size, 1 liter.  Each beer costs about 10 Euro, so bring enough cash.  
  • The beer is STRONG.  Be careful.  Take it easy and drink slow.  If you are dressed correctly, many people will want to cheers with you, so just sip.  The beer sizes are huge, and it is very easy to drink too much.
  • I suggest that you go to the Augustiner-Bräu tent first.  They have traditional bands and traditional dancing.  Lots and lots and lots of fun.
  • If you stand up in the Hofbräu tent to chug a liter, you better be prepared to drink it very fast and not spill a drop.  If you spill even a little bit, or if you drink too slowly, the entire crowd will jeer you and throw pretzel pieces at you. 
  • End your night in the Hofbräu tent.  It seats almost 13,000 and they play Mowtown.  You can get up on the benches and sing with the crowd.  


Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Town, New Gym

My last couple of days in Oklahoma City tore me up. I had a nagging little knee injury on the left side that bothered me from time to time. That opened up in to a full on medial meniscus tear. My knee is painful and feels very unstable as it is fully flexed. It was popping and felt like it was slipping out of joint when the injury became evident.

If that wasn't enough, I also managed to break a toe bone. I have broken toes before and they have never been a big deal. BUT this one was different. Check out the image.

You see where the phalanges of the second toe meets the metatarsal? The phalanges bone forms the joint and kind of curves around the metatarsal. Mine broke off right there. It interferes with the joint and makes walking very painful, because the toe is unstable at that point. Essentially it is a massive, painful, imperfection in the ball of my foot.

So, I took some time off to heal. I hired people to do the move to Birmingham, so I didn't do a lot of lifting and moving. That wasn't too bad on my injuries.

I took about a month and a half off, and I now feel that I am reasonably healed enough to go and look at gyms. There are two real contenders in the area, Gracie Barra Birmingham, and Samuel Puccio BJJ. Both are run by BJJ black belts. Both guys are Brazilian.

Gracie Barra is about 13 or so miles away from my house in a town called Pelham. Kaliffa Oliveira is the instructor. Kaliffa is a brand new black belt, and I mean BRAND new. He got his belt last month. I don't have a problem with this. A black belt at Gracie Barra is a big deal, and they don't just hand those things out.

The school is new as well, Kaliffa has been teaching for about a year. The mats were very well taken care of, and the school was spotlessly clean. He had many changing rooms, as well as two showers. Very big pluses.
He has about 30 students, of various levels, I didn't see anyone above the purple belt rank. The guys were good and technical BUT, they were all from somewhere else. This really isn't a big surprise, because Kaliffa's school is brand new. He has a good number of white belts, which is good, they are the future of the school.

Being a Gracie Barra school, Kaliffa teaches the Gracie curriculum. If you are a direct Gracie affiliate, you are required to teach their techniques, on the days they want you to teach it. What's more, Gracie also dictates your school costs and your class structure. This is why many in the non Gracie BJJ world call their schools a "cult." The good news is that you can walk in to any Gracie school anywhere in the nation and pick up your training exactly where you left off. Also, if you sign up with one school, you are signed up with all of the others. If you are in a different city, you are able to just walk in to the Gracie school and start training.
The class structure is VERY structured. They have a fundimentals class where all you do is technique. They then have an advanced class where they do the same technique with a little variation, then a bit of live rolling.

Kaliffa also offers a 10am Muay Thai class taught by a former Lumpinee Stadium champion... At least everybody says he is. I didn't catch his name, so I can't check it out... I do know that he has excellent technique and runs a very good class.

Samuel Puccio BJJ is an independent school that has ties to the Carlson Gracie Jr. side of BJJ, as well as the Brazilian Top Team guys. Samuel got his black belt in 2007 from Rodrigo Medeiros. While he has no official connection to Rodrigo Medeiros, Samuel regards him as his instructor, and he competes at IBJJF under the Revolution BJJ team.
His school is older, and shows its age, however the mats are clean, and he has several changing rooms. The school is completely focused on BJJ but balances everything evenly between gi and no-gi workouts.
He has about 30 students, a good mix of belts, but I saw none over purple belt in rank. The guys are much younger at Samuel's school, likely due to his close proximity to the University of Alabama Birmingham campus being literally across the street. So, the guys are very aggressive being young guys.
Samuel runs class with a light warm up, then he shows a technique, then you roll. A little exercise afterwards and class ends.
All of the guys, with an exception here and there, are Samuel's guys. So the technique is uniform.

Technique wise... Both schools are about even. I would expect that Kaliffa has the better ability to learn and grow, being in the Gracie organisation, but, for now, he and Samuel are about even. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will not grow as much in Birmingham under these guys as much as I grew under Giulliano Gallupi. Giulliano was a student of basic technique. He knows the basics so fundamentally that all of his other techniques are absolutely solid. Both of the guys in Birmingham are not as technically sound.

I like Samuel's class structure better. He has his own guys, and the classes are much more comfortable compared to the Gracie class where, because everybody has trained differently, class can be a bit awkward under the surface. Kaliffa, a new black belt, is a little uncomfortable in his role, especially since the Gracie protocol requires the students to refer to him as "Professor." I hate that. I really do. One of the things that drew me to BJJ was its informality.
Samuel being old school and independent, has no such silly rules.

The Gracie school is expensive. VERY expensive. Almost $200 a month for Muay Thai and BJJ, but only doing two classes of each a week. PLUS you have to buy all of your gear from them. The standard uniform is the Storm Kimono, which is an excellent brand, but it costs over $200. MT class you have to have the Gracie rash guard and shorts, along with the gloves and pads they sell. Another cost of almost $200.
You put all of that on top of the distance from my house, and the traffic that I have to fight to get there, no interstate all surface roads, and the typical drive is between 30 and 40 minutes one way.

Samuel's school is about 5 minutes away just over the "mountain" that separates Homewood, where I live, and Birmingham proper. He runs about $100 a month for however many classes you can attend.

Other than the Muay Thai, there are no real compelling reasons to spend the extra time and gas it would cost to go to the Gracie school. Let alone their idiotically high costs. I chose to go to Samuel's school and paid for an initial trial period of 3 months.

Now we get in to the weird stuff. Kaliffa used to be Samuel's top student. About a year ago, Samuel promoted Kaliffa to brown belt, and encouraged him to open a school. Samuel's plan, of course, was for Kaliffa to become a satellite of Samuel's gym. Kaliffa went to a Gracie seminar, and realized that he had no real connection to the BJJ world. Samuel is an independent gym. Kaliffa wanted more, and found more with the structure and common name that a Gracie franchise offered. So he joined the Gracie organisation, and started the process to become one of their instructors. He attended the various classes and seminars that were required, and received his black belt instructor certification last month.
When Kaliffa opened his gym and didn't open it under Samuel's name, but under the Gracie Barra name, Samuel was upset. He got very angry with Kaliffa and called him a "Creonte." This is a very bad word in BJJ, it basically means a traitor, but has very strong and negitive undertones. So, just looking at schools in Birmingham starts the gym drama. Both guys talked bad about the other. I don't like that, but both did it as a warning to me to avoid the other guy.

In the end I just want to train. Short of walking up to some other gym and saying, "Hey do you want a BJJ class?" this is the way I will have do it. Giulliano said I am welcome at any time to come back to the gym and do privates. He even offered me his couch to sleep on. I will likely take him up on it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


I hate cleaning, but I like things to be clean, so I look for any cleaning product that will let me cheat. I fall for just about any marketing scheme on new and improved products.
Very few things do what they are advertised to do. Most, like the Hoover Hard Floor Cleaner, make more work than just cleaning old school.
Then I found the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Holy freaking crap. I thought they were making wild marketing claims with its "magic" properties. It turns out, they should have been selling it harder.

This thing cleans EVERYTHING. That is not so amazing, steel wool cleans everything too. The magic eraser cleans like freaking steel wool, but is non abrasive. My Mazda got road paint on it when an asshole government worker decided to paint the curb the car was parked next to. Nothing worked to get it off. The auto body guys said they would have to scrape down to the metal and re-paint. Out of desperation I used the Magic Eraser on it. With very little elbow grease it took the road paint off, but didn't scratch or take off the car's paint or clearcoat. It is just amazing.

I used to use harsh chemicals and the Scrubbing Bubbles with a rough sponge to clean my bathtubs and showers. It would take a while and was hard work. I hated it so much that I would wait long periods before cleaning again. Now... 10 minutes with the Magic Eraser and I am done.
We moved in to a new place. The previous tenants didn't take care of their bath tubs. No problem. Magic Eraser.

I am pretty much like the Father in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was with Windex, only my Windex is The Magic Eraser. I can't say enough good the thing is without abrasion. It scratches nothing, but cleans everything. My nice wood tables, clean, no damage to the stain or varnish. Toilets and sinks, clean, no problems with porcelain. It is just awesome.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Zimmerman Trial Thoughts

Watching the reactions and whatnot of the Zimmerman trial has brought one interesting conclusion... Normal people have no idea as to what violence is. They don't experience it, they haven't been confronted by it, and they have not a clue what it is to be on the receiving end of a beating that will only stop when the aggressor wants it to.

Violence is romanticized in movies, boxing, martial arts, and in life in general. If you are not used to violence, you really don't know what it is or what it feels like. Couple this with the fact that fighting, like sex, everyone assumes that they are good at it. They don't know what it feels like to have someone punch them in the face with bad intentions.

What's more, normal people don't know the feeling of helplessness that comes when you realize that this person can do whatever they want to you, and there is no way for you to stop it. This feeling ignites a primal fear deep within a person, it leads to panic. If the aggressor knows how to deal with a panicking opponent, and can remain in a dominant position, it leads the opponent into a very dark despair. They give up.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the big lessons beginners learn is how to control the feeling of helplessness, the panic, and the despair when nothing you try works. They are taught to overcome these feelings, and work for better position, until they realize where the aggressor's balance points are, and can attack these points intelligently. BUT, in those days, months, and years that the beginner is learning, the fear is very very real, and many people leave the gym because they can't deal with it.

George Zimmerman was mounted. He had an aggressive opponent pounding on his face, and slamming his head in to the pavement. Zimmerman could do nothing to stop the action. I have had people I have had in bad position actually believe that I was going to do them real harm. In the gym. In a controlled environment. Martin and Zimmerman were on the street. I have no doubt that Zimmerman felt in fear for his life or grave bodily injury. I guarantee he felt that way.

I know this because I have been there. Pinned underneath a strong, skilled opponent, and having no ability to escape. I have felt the despair. I remember, vividly, of my first BJJ instructor, Ed, mounted on top of me slapping my face. I reached the point where I just lie there letting it happen. I told him to get off of me. Ed, wanting to teach me a lesson, said: "Fuck you. Make me. I'm gonna slap you like my bitch until you do something. I got all night."
Ed taught me that you always must control your feelings, you always must be looking for a place to attack the balance to escape. Zimmerman did not know this. He felt that he was in his last moments of life. So he pulled his gun and fired.

Those of us who know violence know that it is not pretty. It isn't cool. You don't take punch after punch and walk away smiling. We know of the dead spots in vision that occur, the headaches, the broken bones and bruising. But worst of all we know what it feels like to be in that position where there is no hope of escape.

Zimmerman should have never been in that situation that night. He was a wannabe, with no concept of violence, a couple of MMA classes under his belt, and a gun on his hip. A 6 year old could have taken him. He should have just called in the suspicious person and let it be. He didn't.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How the Government Gets Away With Spying on Your Computer Data

With the revelation of the PRISM program this month, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out HOW the government can look at all of the computer and cloud data without a warrant. It seems a clear violation of the 4th Amendment. It turns out... The government is a bunch of sneaky bastards. They made it legal by defining data ownership in the Patriot Act.

First of all in Section 217, permits government interception of the "communications of a computer trespasser" if the owner of a "protected computer" authorized that surveillance. The law's definition of "protected computer" includes systems "used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication." What does that mean? Well, if your computer is hooked up to the internet, it can be used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication. Essentially, if you have ever used google, or even read this blog, you are engaging in interstate or foreign communication. Blogger is part of a cloud of computers based all over the world. Therefore, your computer is a "Protected Computer," and therefore has authorized surveillance. Neat, huh?

Now, they also go one further and say that the owner of the network or computer owns the data traveling through the computer or network at the moment the data is there. Sounds reasonable doesn't it? If I have a word document that sits on my computer, that data is mine. But, what if I sent that word document to SkyDrive, or email it to a buddy? Well, then that document's data is transferred over the internet network of computers and networks. No sweat right? BOOOOOOO!!! The Internet is NOT any one private company. The internet was set up by the US government, and the US government still owns something like 5 of the major DNS sites, as well as some of the networks that your data flows through. IF the owner of the network owns the data in their network, then, as your data passes through the government networks, the government owns your data. They don't need a warrant to capture their own data.

Very very very sneaky. Very smart. Very dangerous. The bulk of the "spying" program is based on the definition of data ownership in the Patriot Act. I think it is way way WAY past time that we get rid of this abomination of legislation.

Friday, May 24, 2013

When Seconds Count, the Police Are Only Minutes Away!

Read this first!!!

There are a couple different ways that you could look at this particular story. If you are relying on the police to save you... You are in for a bad time.

You could look at this story from a point of view typically held by Democrats, and say, that if the government had more money, there would be more cops, and therefore the dispatcher could send someone to help.

We could look at this story from the point of view typically held by Republicans and say that the cuts made by the county could have been made in other areas, away from police, and the dispatcher could have sent someone to help.

Unfortunately... The man was breaking in as the person was making the call, so from call to dispatch, to response that is anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes. A lot can happen in 5 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile a woman is being beaten and possibly killed.
In both cases more money for police, or funds removed from other services, would not have helped this woman.

What would have helped this woman? Evil guns. She knew which door the man was attempting to break in through. She had ample time to find a defensible position. She had ample time to set up her defensible position with reloads, and to position herself under cover and prepare to fire. When the man broke in... Blam.

Guns are not the solution to every problem. But in the case of a deranged, drugged up, drunk, or simply determined home invader, they are a big part of the solution. The number one rule in defending yourself with a gun, is to HAVE A GUN. It is tragic that this woman, sitting defenseless in her home, had to go through this attack. She didn't have to. She relied on the state to protect her. The state has no such obligation. Even Vice President's asinine Shotgun purchasing advice would have helped this woman.

Be safe... Be armed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Acoustic Joe

Joe said that he has always been afraid of playing acoustic guitar, because it is so unforgiving. Afraid or no, he nails this version of Jockey Full of Bourbon.

I bought this entire performance at the Vienna Opera House. It is awesome. I thought I would miss Joe's long solos and electric guitar mastery. He more than makes up for it with just a strong musical performance.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Calories vs Nutrition

I got in to an interesting discussion about calories at the gym. People seem to be misunderstanding what calories are, and how they work with food.

First and very foremost, a calorie is a scientific unit of ENERGY. Put in to scientific terms, one calorie is equal to 4.184 joules. This is very important to keep in mind. When you are talking about calories, you are talking about energy. More specifically we are talking about both Thermodynamic Energy. One calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise one gram of water one degree centigrade. However, in one of those unknown twists of the American weights and measures system, the calorie that you see on food packages is actually a kilocalorie, or 1000 units of the calorie described above (just like 1000 grams is equal to 1 kilogram, get it?). Because it really isn't important to the conversation at this point, we are going to use the American system ('MERICA!!) and call the kilocalorie a calorie, ok?

So, we are talking about thermodynamic energy. Let's equate this to heating water, because, well... that is exactly what calories measure.
It takes a certain amount of energy to raise the temperature of a given amount of water at a given temperature to 50 degrees C (ignore pressure for the time being, or you can just assume that everything takes place at sea level). It stands to reason that if the water is frozen, it takes more energy to raise it to 50C than if the water were at room temperature. Given that the temperature of the water is the same, and volume of water remains the same, it will always take the same amount of energy to get it to 50C. It is simply a matter of adding the energy.
If I don't put enough energy in, the water does not reach 50C. If I put too much energy in, the water rises above 50C. Pretty elementary right?

The converse relationship is true in your body. You take in a certain amount of calories. Your body uses a certain amount of calories. If you take in fewer calories than your body uses, you loose weight. You have to. The body needs the energy, and if it is not in the food you have eaten, it has to go to its stores. If you run out of energy, you die. The body doesn't want to die, therefore it will do what it has to do to get the energy.

Now how you get the calories doesn't matter, from an ENERGY standpoint. If your body uses 2000 calories a day, and you take in 1000 calories in a day, no matter what it is, it could be all in bacon fat (mmmmmmmmmm bacon fat), you will loose weight. You have to. You have a deficiency of 1000 calories.

Now... Nutrition. Nutrition is how the body uses the FOOD it takes in. Not the calories. Calories are energy units. The body will take energy from any source that is available, fat, muscle, whatever.
Let's go back to the bacon fat example. If your only source of food is bacon fat, you may be skinny, BUT you will not be healthy. The body will process that bacon fat and will do some very bad things with it. This is how you can be thin, but very unhealthy.

SO, if you just want to lose weight, eat less. You will lose weight. IF you want to be healthy, you need to watch what you eat so you can be sure that what you take in will be used by your body with only good aftereffects.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Always Have One In The Chamber...

I post a lot about how Concealed Carry can save lives. BUT... A gunfight is one of the most UNforgiving situations you can ever be in. A single tactical error, and you are dead as Dickens. This is why you can not get enough good training. Listen to those that have been in gunfights, or who gunfight for a living on how to survive a gunfight and how to make the correct tactical decisions.

Recently a CCW holder was killed during a Jewelry Store robbery. It was recorded. This is a graphic video. It shows a man being shot and killed. Don't watch it if you can't stomach it.

This man makes a couple of serious tactical errors.
  • He carries his automatic pistol without a round in the chamber. He must draw, rack a round, remove safe, acquire the target, then fire.
  • He does not make himself safe. He stands straight up, and only thinks about cover when he can't get his pistol working.
  • When his weapon malfunctions, he does not find cover and does not move. He stands right there, just as he would at the range, and attempts to clear the malfunction.
Those that have been in gunfights say that it is the most stressful situation they have ever been in. When the human body goes through the fight or flight response, fine motor movements are all but completely lost. The only way to retain fine motor skills in the most stressful of situations is by repetitive training. This guy seems to have done some good training with his draw. He draws smoothly and cleanly. What happens next is what kills him. He tries to work the slide. His motor skills are gone and he screws up the chambering. He screws up so badly that he causes a malfunction of the pistol. He never gets the gun into the fight. The reasoning behind not having a round in the chamber is a "safety" one. If you don't have a round in the chamber, you can't negligently discharge the pistol. You must first draw, rack, then fire. It is a way of being "extra" safe. In my opinion, this is a way to be extra dead. As a civilian, if you are drawing your gun, it means that you are in a situation where your life is in danger. In the video, the bad guys had their guns out and were looking for people to shoot. If you life is in imminent danger, microseconds count. Why waste them on racking the slide? To me, trigger discipline takes care of this issue. If my finger is not on the trigger, there is no danger of the gun going off. Thus, I can carry one in the chamber. Not having to rack the slide is one less thing I have to do in the most stressful situation I will ever experience. A malfunction of my pistol is the last thing I have to worry about with my first shot. I will also take this time to talk about his choice of carry pistol. He had a standard Double Action/Single Action automatic pistol. It has an external safety and an external hammer. I don't like these types of pistols as carry pieces.

Double Action/Single Action pistol.
The external safety and hammer are on the rear of the gun. After the safety is off there is a long trigger pull for the first shot as the hammer is cocked, the subsequent shots are a very short light trigger pull. I like the "tactical" style Double Action Only pistols. No external safeties, and no external hammer.

No external anything. Same trigger pull for each shot.

With the tactical pistol, there is nothing external to worry about. You just pull the trigger. Each trigger pull is the same weight, so there is consistency in your training, and in real life. Everything is the same all of the time.

For the same reason I keep a round in the chamber, I don't want to be using up time worrying about an external safety, I don't want to be thinking about adjusting aim points for a long trigger pull or cocking the gun if I want the same pull each time. I want to be worrying about aligning the sights on my target and getting safe!

Next, he stood up directly in the line of fire. Always get safe first! He had some benches that he finally took cover behind, but that should have been the first thing he did. Get safe, draw, acquire target, fire. Getting safe can mean simply getting to a position that is unexpected for the bad guys. Going to one knee is a good example of this. Your opponents are thinking about a standing target. You are immediately out of the line of fire and, while the bad guys attempt to adjust their aim points to you, you are shooting.

Finally, when his gun malfunctioned, he stood absolutely still and tried to clear the malfunction. One of the things you should be doing at the range is having someone else loading your magazines. They should be putting one or two dummy or expended rounds into the mag. This will help in a number of ways. It will diagnose flinching and other problems during the trigger pull, but it will also force you to clear the malfunction. When you clear your malfunction, you should be thinking about getting to cover. If your range allows it, when the malfunction occurs, go to one knee to clear it, or, better yet use an adjacent empty lane to quickly move in to, go to one knee and clear the malfunction. This will teach you to get safe before attempting to rack your slide. It will also put a little bit of stress on you so that you can work to control your adrenalin during your shooting.

This guy was trying to be safe. He was trying to help the others in the store. He made some mistakes and ended up paying for it with his life. If you carry a gun, you must train with it. You must not only practice shooting it, but you must also train to be tactically aware. When you walk into a store, look around you, and find the places where you can take cover. Run scenarios through your head to come up with tactical solutions. Think about how you could survive if a bad guy were to come in shooting. Then train so that your reactions are good no matter what the situtation.

Tax Freedom Day 2013

Tax Freedom Day for Oklahoma is the 6th, and Alabama the 5th. That's good!!! Tax Freedom Day is, on average, 5 days later this year than last year... That's bad!!!!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rape, Guns, and the Left

With the debate in Colorado over guns now effectively over, I now have a new understanding why the Left dislikes guns and their seemingly baffling mindset on self defense.
The simple truth is that the Left has utter and complete disdain for the individual. So deep is this contempt, that the very concept of NOT using the State for absolutely EVERY facet of life, including the defense of it, is unthinkable.

What brings this fact to the front? The way that the Left argues about perhaps the most violent and heinous crimes that can be committed, rape. At the very center of the civilized human is their sexuality. It is where they can connect with the very base of their animal side, yet in the act, express the highest of emotional evolution, love. It is allowing an other human being access into your body. It is intimate. It is the very closest two people can be.
Rape destroys the intimacy. It violates the self. It forever mars the act with violence and violation for the rest of the one who was raped's life. It is a crime that strips the very soul from the body.

So, how do you defend yourself against this act? How can you prevent it? Well... If you are on the Left you defend against rape by:

  • Telling your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.
  • Vomiting or urinating 
  • Scream
  • Use the buddy system
My very favorites are "Passive resistance is your best defense", "Be realistic about your ability to defend yourself", and "Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm."  In other words "Lie back and think of England" as the rape occurs.  Would this be the advice that you give a loved one of yours?

What I find most fascinating is that some of the biggest supporters for the disarming of the law abiding public are women's empowerment groups, like the National Organisation for Women.  How does making women defenseless empower them?  Is there nothing MORE empowering that the ability to protect one's self, property, and loved ones from harm?  No!  Says NOW.  The state should be relied upon for that.  This mindset baffles me.  I advocate for empowered women, only to have them cower behind the State?

How is this more empowering than this???

I don't understand. An empowered woman is one that is confident in herself and in her abilities to live on her own. If I have daughters, I want them to be the woman in the second picture.

Then it dawned on me. It isn't that the Left wants women cowering behind the state. It is that the want to extinguish the thought of individuality from the public mindset. Guns, and self-defense are the ultimate expression of the individual. When you own a gun, you own the ability to ultimately disagree and stand up to the state. Gathering like minded people to your cause, and you have the ability to overthrow the state.
Defending yourself against harm is the ultimate repudiation of the social contract of the state. By defending yourself, you are stating that the state does not own you. YOU own you. This statement says to all, I am a sovereign person, and I will defend my sovereignty.

This declaration of sovereignty is what the Left is so afraid of. If you decide that the defense of your person is up to you, you may start thinking that other things are up to you as well. Once that happens, their power, derived from the eroding of personal sovereignty, begins to crumble. So, for the Left, it is indeed preferable that you "lie back and think of England," and remain a surf of the state, than to take up arms, defend your person and step in to the light of freedom. Indeed, it IS morally superior to be raped. For if you defend yourself, you take away their power.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Things are about to hit the fan in Cyprus. Cyprus is a small country that is suffering from Greece's financial woes. It is a member of the EU, and the EU has laid an ultimatum at their feet. The EU will bail out Cyprus, but only if Cyprus is willing to participate in their own bailout. So, the Government of Cyprus has decided that it will seize 10% of the "rich's" cash deposits in banks.
Who is the rich? Anyone with an account that has more than about $26,000.
Of course there is some push back on this, and it looks like the number will be pushed up to 100,000 Euros, that is the maximum that is insured by the EU bank. The thought being that anything over the insured amount is fair game.

What is this doing? It caused an immediate run on all of the banks in Cyprus. So much so that the Government of Cyprus ordered all banks, and ATMs, to be shut down until Thursday 3/21/2013. What is going to happen on Thursday? Anyone with a bank account is going to be trying to pull their money out. The banks are going to close and Cyprus will have riots on their hands. The government will have caused their own banking system to collapse.

This is spooky just because it is actually happening in the Western world. What is more spooky is that Politicians here in the United States are thinking that this is a really good idea. They already tax interest income, what about taking a percentage of the account? Again, you only do it on the "rich." The problem is, that it prevents ANYONE from saving ANYTHING. You think we have a retirement problem now? Start doing this crap.

I have to admit that this has really got me spooked. I would like to say that our government would never pull a stunt like this, but with all of the talk on Capital Hill of taxing 401(k)s and ending the Roth IRA and IRA exemptions, I don't know if there is anywhere that I can keep money without forking over a huge chunk of it to the Government. I am frightened that I won't have anything to live on when I am older. It might be time to buy gold coins and bury them in the yard.

Check out the latest.

Bought a Car

Well... about a month ago, the wife was driving down a crowded road, not really paying attention, and rear ended another car. Then the car behind her rear ended her. Then the car that she hit was pushed in to the car in front of that. Smash bash and crash. The insurance company decided that our car, a 2004 Toyota Carolla was a total loss. After being a one car family for a week or so, we decided that we needed a new car. Since I was already looking, and she was the one to wreck the car, we decided it would be MY new car!! YAY!!!!

I drove a bunch of cars. My criteria was that I wanted a navigation system, all wheel drive, good gas mileage, and an automatic transmission with a fun manual option.

Pretty much I drove everything in my previous blog post, except I didn't drive the Cadillac, too expensive and no AWD, and I also drove an Infinity G37 and a Volkswagen Passat. I mainly drove the Passat, because my dad just bought one and really like it... It didn't have AWD, but it has really really great gas mileage, and was the only diesel I drove.
The navigation system was cool, but a little plain. What was really nice about it was that the navigation system put an arrow in the center console of the instrument package with information on when your next turn was and what direction you should turn. That was very handy, and it keeps the driver's eyes in the right places when using navigation.

I liked the Volvo, and it was the first car I drove. The things I didn't like about it were... all of the safety selling points. It breaks for you, it won't let you drive to fast, it is the ultimate back seat driver. What was very cool, though, was all of the extras that all of the sensors and cameras gave you. It had software to recognize speed limit signs, for instance. So, where a conventional navigation system would just show you the normal speed limit, the Volvo could show you the speed limit in a construction zone, because it could read the sign. Very cool.

The Infinity... It was a V6 and got the worst gas mileage out of all of the cars I drove. That and it didn't ride nicely. And the styling sucks. Booo. I didn't like it.

The main contenders were the BMW 335 and the Audi A4. I know I looked at an A5 in the previous post, but after looking at the A5 and the A4, you realize that they are viturally the same car, except the A4 is less expensive and has four doors. All of the features that you can get in an A5 you can get in the A4.
So... Same features, same engine, same gas milage, less expensive sticker price, less expensive insurance, AND the styling is virtually the same except for two extra doors. No brainier. A4 wins over A5.
I really really liked the Audi. The model I drove had navigation, quattro AWD, an 8 speed transmission, and the sport package with paddle shifters! At first, I liked the ride. It drives very smoothly. I didn't like what seemed to be a lack of power off of the stop. You hit the gas and the car lethargically starts to move, then kicks you in the ass as it takes off. It was kind of annoying. Then I put it in to manual "sport" mode. Now that I had control over the transmission, and this auto stick was by far the best auto stick I have ever used, it was just like I was driving my manual transmission. I could keep the car in first gear a bit longer to make use of the higher RPM and keep the power where I wanted it. Lots and lots of fun.
The navigation system was the best I have seen, but a real pain to configure. Like the VW, understandable since Audi is owned by VW, navigation information is presented in the center of the instrument panel. But unlike the VW, the center is a full color screen with better resolution. This console will show you which lane you should be in, and if the road is a left with a quick right or whatever, it will present this in the center console. Very super duper cool!!
The nav system is also integrated with Google Earth, so you can be looking at satellite images with a 3D representation of the city you are driving in. That was really nifty.

BMW has seemed to give itself over to technology. Everything, and I do mean everything, is electronic. It is kind of annoying. To take it out of gear you press a button. To park, you press a button. Buttons buttons buttons buttons.
The ride is nice but a little stiff. I wanted a smoother ride. The BMW that I drove was the "sport" option with navigation, AWD, and 8 speed transmission. No paddle shifters in this car, the auto stick manual mode was on the floor. This car also had a Heads Up Display with your speed and navigation instructions. Super super super cool.
The auto stick... SUCKED. According to the sales guy, when you shift the car puts your request in to a queue and will shift if the computer feels that it is ok to. This way, the sales guy said, you save your transmission and your gas millage. No. I don't like it. If I shift I want it to SHIFT. I want a manual feel in the transmission.

So, after some wheeling and dealing, I purchased the Audi A4. The car that I drove was in a color I didn't like, so I had to wait for one in silver to show up.

It has the MMI Navigation, the sport package, and 8 speed AWD. Lots and lots of fun.
I am getting to know the car now, and liking it more and more everyday.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Car?

I am going to buy a new car in the next 6 months or so. This car will replace our Carolla as our primary "family" car, the car we use when we are driving together, and will be my primary car.
The wife has said that I should get a "nice" car, because I am almost 40, and I should get a nice car... I'm not sure quite what that means, but I am assuming that it means that I am to stay away from the small cars.

So, I get to choose what I like, but it has to be acceptable to the wife. I don't really have a budget to work with, because I am still trying to figure out what I want. However, since I have whored myself out to the highest bidder job wise, I am able to afford pretty much anything I want. I will not, however, be stepping in to the range of idoticy. The car will need to be practical, reliable, and easy to maintain.
I basically have two "must haves," Cruse Control and air conditioning. Those are standard features on all "nice cars," so, I am trying to keep an open mind.

So, what do I like?? I am parshall to "sports sedans." They have subtle sporty features with strong engines. I would also like something that gets good gas mileage, because the primary mission of this car will primarily be short drives around the city, with the occasional long drive (>=2 hours) thrown in.
My main problem is that I don't really like much out there. I feel that styling has really fallen to the side of the road recently, and there isn't much that really floats my boat. Anyway, here are some cars that caught my eye.

Cadillac XTS

This car has 4 standard trims. I priced out the "Luxury" trim and added on the Navigation and the Moonroof options. All told it comes out to be about $51K. It doesn't do well on the gas mileage, with 17/28. Bleah. If I wanted better gas mileage I could go with the ATS, but I don't like the look as much.
There are lots of cool standard features like, parking assist, leather seats, Bose Stereo, power everything, blah blah blah.
I would really have to choke down the thought of buying a Government Motors car. I don't like the deal that was done to save the company, and I especially don't like the thought of my money going to support the majority owner, the UAW.

Volvo S60 R-Design

This guy has three trims, and I selected the T6 AWD R-Design. I added the technology package and the parking assist options bringing the car to about $50K. Gas mileage is 19/26, so not much better than the Cadillac. It has all kinds of pep though, 3.0 6 cylinder with 325 hp, means that it really can get up and go. I like that.

I really like the design and look of the car. It has a nav system built in with a Dobly sound system. It also has an "Adaptive Cruise Control" system that uses radar to automatically slow down or speed up your car according to the traffic ahead of you. So, if you set your car to run at 70mph, and you set a three second gap, as you approach the idiot in your lane that is going slower than the speed limit, and won't get over to the other lane, a VERY common occurrence in Oklahoma, the car will automatically slow down to keep your three second gap. A very cool feature. I don't know if it will apply the break, or if it just coasts to keep the gap, but I think I would like to try it out. Very cool feature!

Audi A5 Coupe

The Audi comes with three trims and two different engines. I chose the 2.0 TFSI Premium Plus: Eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with quattro all-wheel drive, and a partridge in a pear tree. This has all of the cool features, so I didn't have to add much to it. It priced out at about $49K. Gas mileage is 20/30, so we are doing better in that department. It has less under the hood than the Volvo, with only 211hp. If I wanted more juice I would have to go with the 3.0T that has 310 hp, but that would bump my costs higher, and I wouldn't get all of the cool features that I want with the "nice" car.

The Audi is all about style and class. It says that you are successful without rubbing your nose in it. It is the guy who scores the touchdown and simply hands the ball off to the referee. It is the fighter who submits his opponent and then does a formal knees on the floor bow to thank him for the opportunity to fight.
This car is exactly the kind of thing I am looking for. Rock solid engineering subtle look and feel, navigation system, premium sound system, all the bells and whistles.

BMW 335i xDrive Sedan

The 335 comes with 2 different trims and is on the pricey side. I chose the 335i xDrive Sedan. It has a 3.0 liter 6-cylinder turbo all-wheel drive, putting out 300 hp. It gets 20/30 mpg. I added Active Cruse Control, the technology package, and sport automatic transmission with shift paddles, bringing the cost to about $55K.

The Beemer is a bit flashier than the Audi, but is comparable to the Volvo in terms of performance. I like the fact that you can add and drop options almost a la cart, but it seems like going with the package approach keeps costs down as the Audi and Volvo were able to supply more car with more features for less money.
BMWs are really en vogue right now, so you see a lot of them on the road. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it means that parts and service is easy to find, but... I would simply be just another yuppie with a BMW. I don't know if I like that... I guess I want to stand out a bit more than that. Whatever... That might be simply a psychological thing, because some of the roughnecks I work out with lease BMWs, so the... niceness? exclusivity? I don't know, something about those guys, who essentially waste their money, having the same car as I, who buys very reluctantly and always within my means, sort of taints the image of the car for me... Maybe I am just looking down on them. I don't know... I'll have to think on that.

New UFC Lineal Champion

If we consider the very first UFC, held in Denver on November 12th 1993, as the true Ultimate Fighting Championship, there is a clear line of champions up until the present day.
Royce wen undefeated until May 1st 2000 when he lost to Kazushi Sakuraba in the very first Pride Grand Prix.
Sakuraba, then lost that same night to Igor Vovchanchyn, who then lost to the winner of the tournament Mark Coleman.
Mark Coleman would hang on to the lineal title for a little over a year until he faced Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on September 24th 2001.
Nog would defend the title against 6 opponents until running in to one of the greatest fighters of all time, on one of the longest winning streaks of all time. Fedor Emelianenko would defeat Nog and take his title on March 16th 2003.
Fedor would then fight 10 opponents, finishing all but Mirko Filipovic, whom he would beat by decision. Fedor seemed unstoppable, and would have the lineal title until he retired. Until one day, seven years later. On June 26th, 2010, Fabricio Werdum took the title back to Brazil when he defeated Fedor by a Triangle Armbar just 1:09 in to the first round.
Werdum would not have the title for long, his very next fight, almost a year later on June 18th, 2011, Alistair Overeem would defeat him by unanimous decision.

Overeem would then goof around with Brock Lesnar, beating him by KO, then, last night, he would fall to Antonio Silva by KO just 25 seconds in to the third round of their fight.

Silva now reigns as the lineal Champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

BUT while we are having fun with the title, let's take it a step further. Where would the title be if it could only be taken by KO or submission??

Royce > Matt Hughes KO 4:39 rnd 1
Matt Hughes > GSP Armbar 4:54 rnd 2
GSP > Matt Serra KO 3:25 rnd 1
Matt Serra > GSP KO 4:45 rnd 2

So GSP is the Lineal Champion if we only consider a stoppage as the true "defeating" of a fighter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Joint Locks... Why Do I Love Them So??

I love joint locks, especially straight arm and knee bars. I look for them constantly while I roll. I loose position going for them, I'll overlook easier sweeps and submissions going for them. Guys who have rolled with me for a long time do their best to hold their arms tight to their bodies, and are always ready to move to get their elbows away from danger.

I was working out with a couple of guys this morning and the question came up... Why do I like them so much? Why do I go after arm bars so much more than any other submission, say a choke or a shoulder lock? A good question.

Batman once said fighting styles are like fingerprints. But it goes much deeper than that. Fighting styles encompass the entirety of a person's personality, their strengths, their weaknesses, their fears, and their confidences. Because it is so deeply personal, people often are loathe to admit any fault in their fighting style. It is why some people watch two professional fighters and think they could beat up one or the other, or both.
When a person loses a fight, they are entirely defeated body and soul. It is impossible to separate yourself from the loss, because that other person didn't beat you at a game, they defeated YOU.

So, when a person trains in a martial art, the choice of the martial art is part of that deeply personal choice. As they train in that martial art, their own style comes through. Their body type and physiological configuration lends itself to some parts of the art, and not others. When I was training Taekwondo, I favored power kicks. The ax kick and the rear leg round house were my bread and butter. I used the jump spinning side kick as my go to counter. I really really really really wanted to be able to be one of those guys who could land the jump spinning hook kick inside the round house as a counter, but my body type just didn't lend itself to that kick. When I threw spinning hook kicks I needed my opponent to be moving forward in a straight line. I was virtually immobile when I threw the kick, so I needed their forward momentum to carry them in to the kick.
A style eventually developed based on my own body type and abilities.

The same is now true with my BJJ training. Interestingly enough, it is because of my previous training in Taekwondo that the armlock became my submission of choice.

When normal people start BJJ, normal people, not athletes, athletes bodies can adapt to almost any athletic event and make it their own. Their bodies are naturally flexible and strong. Normal people's bodies... are not. So when a normal person starts BJJ, moves that take "unusual" hip, knee, or hamstring flexibility are not really seen as go to moves. It takes time and training before the person's legs can do what the submission demands. With my TKD training, I was already fairly flexible in those three areas. I found that because of my flexibility, I could move to an armlock before the others of my same belt level. I could throw my leg around a guys head from much deeper angles than others of my same belt level. Because of this, the armbar became my favorite submission.

When you develop a favorite submission, or find a submission that works, you tend to use it a lot. The more you use it the better you become at it. My armbars got to be pretty good. Is that why I liked them? Simply because I could make them work? Or is it something deeper. Something in my personality that puts these submissions closer to my heart?

I have often said, that those who train Martial Arts have some sort of insecurity deep down to motivate us to train fighting over other more gentile pursuits. It leads to drama in the gym as those insecurities come to the surface, but it is also a major factor in the formation of our fighting style.

On the surface... I like the armlock because it is effective, and it is damaging. A choke, while by no means gentle, leaves no mark on the one choked. I have personally seen guys choked in to unconsciousness, only to wake up a few moments later, with their will to fight still intact. Many times they believe that they weren't really defeated.
When a joint is twisted the wrong way, the owner of that joint is out of the fight, or at least that particular limb that the joint belongs to is out of the fight. The person receiving the lock knows, just as if they had been knocked out, that they have lost the fight.

Is this my primary insecurity? Must I always prove myself, with out a doubt, to be the superior man? Is is some deep desire to prove to one and all that I am the "alpha" male? Is it some monkey thing deep in my brain? Is this why the arm and knee bars are so appealing to me? I can't honestly say. I find myself looking for specific facts to disprove someone else's way of thinking, not because I have any interest in the topic, but because I want to best the other person. One of the things I like about being a consultant is that I get to walk in to some business and be looked on as the be all end all of the subject that I was brought in to work on.
The better question to ask here is why do I do this. I either don't know, or I don't wish to go deep enough in to my own personality to say for sure. Is my love for the armlock just a deep seated inferiority complex seeking the surface?

I don't know. It is fun to try and puzzle it out. If I like armlocks because of an inferiority complex, do guys who prefer control positions have deep seated control issues? Are guys who like to stack and smash their opponents in someway feel oppressed themselves?
Perhaps I have fallen in to a new branch of Psychotherapy. Find your problems by developing your fighting style. Only takes 20 years of continuous difficult daily training. Get fit, and figure out what makes you tick!! I kind of like the sound of that...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Some very interesting things happening right now in the political scene.  I am going to try and keep my personal feelings out of the way, and just focus on the political aspects of what is going on.  My views should plain by now...  More freedom.  More personal responsibility.  More local Government.  Less Federal Government.

If things unfold as I think they will unfold, we will have been witness to one of the greatest political triumphs of all time.  I knew the President was a smart guy, but if he pulls off what I think he is trying to pull off, I will graduate him to super genius status.

There are three major issues burning right now:  Gun Control, Taxes on the Rich, and Federal Spending.  The President is for greater gun control, heavy taxes on the rich (read everybody), and higher federal spending.  He has a split congress to work with.  The Senate is split 53/45 with the majority being Democrats.  The House is split 233/200 with the majority being Republican.

The president is moving forward this week with his Executive Orders on gun control.  He does have some orders that he can make in this regard.  He can not out and out ban guns, call for confiscation, or anything like that.  He has to work inside the laws, and the agencies that were set up by congress.  The President does not have the authority to unilaterally  decree something that is not already codified in law.  Harry Truman tried to do that by nationalizing the Steel mills back during the Korean War and was smacked down by the Supreme Court (Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer).

For real gun control to happen, the President will need to have legislation pass.  It seems as if this is impossible, because the Republicans own the house.  They surely will not pass any gun control legislation, thus alienating their base.  Would they?

Here is how I think things will go down.  The President has this $250K number in his head about who he wants to tax in to the ground.  He also wants much higher rates on the Capital Gains tax.  Normally Republicans would fight such a tax hike.  BUT, what would alienate the Republican base more?  Tax hikes, or gun control?  My feeling is that the Republican base will bitch about tax hikes, but will outright rebel if strict gun control is enacted.

The President will do as much as he can with gun control via executive order, maybe a little farther, and just worry about the courts later.  He will then propose his deal...  If the Republicans raise the debt ceiling, and raise taxes on those making $300K or so, he will only propose modest gun control measures, keeping "assault weapons" legal, but getting rid of magazines that carry more than 10 rounds.

This gives the President virtually everything he has wanted.  It will allow the Republicans to say to the base that they saved the guns!  It will allow the Democrats to say they raised the taxes.  Everybody wins...  Except Liberty...

It is a master stroke, because the President can't loose here.  He can play the two big Republican hot buttons off one another.  Only the complete nutters like Rand Paul will stick to their principals and just vote NO to both measures, and there aren't enough people in congress that will stand up for Liberty not to let something like this happen.

We will see both pieces of legislation happen just as the debt ceiling is a about to cause a Government Shutdown.  I used to think that any type of Gun legislation wouldn't be able to pass the House, but having gun control pressed forward against the debt ceiling is simply a stroke of genius.