Thursday, November 27, 2008

Make a Difference this Christmas

Christmas time is full of joy and love. However it is also accompanied by the Christmas crunch, the inevitable desire to buy and spend loads of cash we know we don't have. But as we all know, this Christmas will be tighter for most of us than usual. Our wallets are on a diet and so are we. How can we still spread the cheer and merriment while short on moolah?

There are numerous ways to do this. Here's a short list:

1. Make a gift. Like the saying, it is the thought that counts. Any giftee that doesn't realize this, shouldn't count as worthy of a gift. One year, low on cash, I made a candle to give to my girlfriend at the time. I'm not the do-it-yourself arts and crafty type and it was a little messy. But overall, it was fun and successful.

2. Donate to a charity. There are a plethora of reputable and worthy causes that are waiting for your valuable money. Wouldn't it be nice to know the money you spend is getting better value than a monogrammed towel set?

3. Volunteer. Nothing shows your dedication than giving your time to a group in need of volunteers. You can help out at the local... anywhere. Church, hospital, shelter, zoo, school, fire dept., anything. But be sure that the place you give your time is worthy of it. Maybe they helped you or someone you know before.

4. Use your power. This is your time as a consumer to flex your spending muscle. Don't buy from companies or entities you don't know, trust or believe in. Be a responsible consumer.

5. Save a tree. Send an e-card.

6. Gift yourself (and those around you). Grow your own food and give yourself good health for the months and years to come. You can get some organic, heirloom, or rare seeds here and start your own garden.

Just some ideas to keep the Christmas season merry on a low budget. Before you blow the money you don't have on needless gifts, try one of these ideas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hump Day

Today's WOD was a doozy.

5 Rounds for time

5 deadlifts @ 75kg
15 wall squats
5 pull-ups
20 double unders
10 pushups

time: 19:53

Again, before the WOD, I crawled around on the rock wall for about 15 min. I was dead after the workout, but felt great.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Return of the WOD

Today I bought a pair of proper rock-climbing shoes. After going hiking for the last two weeks, I have become interested in the sport. The school that I work at, Hengyee (恆毅), also has a rock wall that I can use.

I haven't posted a WOD because I was sick for about a week. But here I am back at it with the half-WOD's. Today, I made my own exercise because I was already in my schools "weight room." I use quotation marks because the room isn't much. It has three Olympic bars, a safety squat rack, a lat pull-down machine, a butterfly machine, two crunch benches and a back extension apparatus. Not much, but I only use the Olympic bars and the back extension.

WOD (I was originally going for 5 sets and 15 thrusters, but after the first round, I wimped out.)

3 rounds

5 thrusters @ ~50kg (I'm not sure how heavy the Olympic bar is)
15 sit-ups
15 push-ups
15 back extensions

time: 15:96

Prior to the WOD, I had used the rock wall previously mentioned, for about 20 min. Being my first time on a wall since my first time 8 years ago, my forearms quickly got pumped and could no longer grab.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hike at Shi Ding/Huang Di Dian (石碇/皇帝殿)

Another Sunday, another hike. This time to Shi Ding/Huang Di Dian (石碇/皇帝殿). This was a hike very similar to last weeks hike to Wu Liao Jian (五寮尖). This time, there were 6 of us. I like the fact that we are growing in number. Although it hadn't rained that day, some rocks and trail sections appeared slippery.

We pulled into the town of Shi Ding (石碇) at about 11:15AM. The town had a very similar feel to Wulai (烏來). A quaint village in the midst of lush green mountains, with a river running through it. It was bustling, people about everywhere. Hikers were out, spectators were out (there seemed to be a festival of sorts going on), and so were we. We quickly found some parking and started on our way.

First part: mounds of stairs. One after another. When you thought it was over, there were more, winding further into the thick. Stairs continued for about 20-30 min.

Once we got digging into dirt and root, it was identical to Wu Liao Jian. Almost no distinction.

It was a fun hike equal in difficulty to Wu Liao Jian. Going on the first hike last weekend got me interested in rock climbing. On this excursion, I tried to clamber up rock faces, but found that my hiking boots were too bulky and cumbersome to get a hold on the somewhat smooth surfaces. I may get a pair of climbing shoes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday Hike at Wu Liao Jian (五寮尖)

This Sunday a couple of friends and I went hiking. About an hour south of Banqiao, we stopped at a trail head. My friend said that this trail was difficult, with steep accents and ropes. Sounded fun. The weather was perfect for hiking: overcast and cool.

We started a bit after noon and quickly realized that it was steep and going to be for the entire trail. Not rock climbing (yet), by any means, but definitely mountain climbing. I had not done Crossfit exercises for the past three days, so a good workout was in order. We stepped high up steep grades gaining footholds on roots and rocks.

As we moved on, dirt paths turned into rocks, which made for great bouldering. We walked along razor edge cliffs and made death-defying tip-toe stunts. One slip probably would mean death. The deafening intensity juxtaposed the humbling and quiet scenery.

Out of the city, you realize how peaceful it is and how easy it is to feel nature. Where in the city it might take 20 min to return your sense of peace, now a couple of deep breaths was enough. This was an experience like I've never had before.

Out of breath at the top, with breathtaking views. Legs taut and burning, continuing through narrow tracks, up and down rocks, rope-assisted accents and descents, seemed to no end.

It was a test of balance and endurance, mixed with comeraderie and fun. We went up and down in about 5hrs.

This was a great way to hone and demonstrate skills gained in Crossfit exercise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Today i went swimming. As far as I know, swimming isn't explicitly part of the Crossfit exercise program, but I figure its a great workout nonetheless. So I will include it here. I did 10 laps freestyle, 10 laps breaststroke, in a 50 m. pool. Forgot my watch so I wasn't able to time it. Next time I will post the time here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hard Day

(Modified) Grace

30 cleans

time: 10:37

Quite painful. I must say that all these WOD's will be painful until I can do the full exercise as it stands. But so far, all modifications. I think it will be a while until I can do real WOD's as described by Crossfit.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Farewell Fox

I'll get to the title in a bit. Today, my WOD (workout of the day) was a modified Angie. An Angie exercise consists of 100 pull ups, push ups, squats, and sit ups. I modified it, as I know I don't want to spend 2 hours doing this, to:

50 pull ups
100 push ups
100 squats
100 sit ups

Time: 26:21

This isn't a very good time, but the goal is to improve over time.


Back to the title. My friend Warren Fox, whom I've known since college, is off to Beijing to shoot a movie. From what he told me, the movie, Gasp, is a comedy where he will be teaching Ebonics to Chinese students.

Fox, who is also a martial arts master, will be in Beijing for a month working on this project. Later in December, he will return to Taipei for a week, then shoot off again to Beijing to compete in a international martial arts competition. He has been a practitioner of Bagua, or eight trigram palm, for about 6 years, and has attained the status of master, under his master, Wu Guo Zheng(吳國正). He has traveled all over Taiwan to take part in numerous competitions, even managing to place 1st in his most recent event. He is an inspiration to all who hope to achieve their goals. Check out some of his vids on YouTube. Here is a quick vid:

The MC in the background music is also the one and only, Fox.

Way to go brotha.

Sunday Morning Post

Grab your cup of coffee, sit down and relax. Welcome to the Sunday Morning Post. In this section, you will find an array of topics to peruse as you enjoy your morning of rest. If you're wondering what to do today, why don't you try something new. Hang out at a place you wouldn't usually go, take a walk in a new part of town, talk to people you wouldn't usually talk to. On that note, here are some sites that are new to me.

Nowadays, we most all have a digital camera, but do we really know how to use it? As for myself, when it comes to taking a great picture, I go with the odds. If I take a lot of pictures, at least one will look good. This technique is made much easier and cheaper with digital cameras. No need to buy film, get them developed and then see a bunch of blurry photos you had to pay for. Check out this site for some tips.

Since today is the day of rest, you have time to do something, like baking some cookies. Here's a recipe from for No-Bake Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cookies. Try them and tell me how they turn out.

Try a new way to search using Blackle. You can search and also apparently save energy. Multitasking. Why not?

SunPower is one of the largest solar panel producers in the U.S. Take a look at this website for ways they are helping change solar power and also to reduce your energy use.

With the rising of China's sun, we realize our interdependence more than ever. Wanna tell them how you feel about lead in toys? What're you gonna say, "You make toy, bad toy." Learn Chinese at ChinesePod. Then you can tell them how you really feel. "I'll eat your toys, but not your food."

Wanna waste a little time online making friends, then playing dumb games with them? Try If you haven't heard of facebook, where have you been?

Just in case you were interested in what's goin' on in Athens, here's the Athens News. See... I knew you were wondering.

That's today's edition of the Sunday Morning Post. Go forth and live great, do well, and all that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I Jumped on the Crossfit Wagon, and Hurt my Pride.

Crossfit is definitely not new and not exactly new to me either. I had heard of it from friends who opened gyms in the state of Washington. One friend owns Urban Crossfit in Seattle, and another founded Crossfit Tacoma, in Tacoma, Washington.

But what was new, was trying it. This was almost like my Sunday morning excursion in an earlier post, A Sign. Ready with the feeling that I could take on the world, I attempted the Cindy (Crossfit has this thing with naming workouts after the people who made them). Workouts of the day, or WOD's are usually a quick body-jolting set of exercises that at the end, will have you crying, wishing you could go back to your old gym.

Cindy consists of a set of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, and 15 squats, doing as many sets as possible in 20 min. I saw Craig Cooper's (the owner of Urban Crossfit and personal friend) blog and thought, "If he can do 19 sets, I could at least do that or more." How foolish I was. I started out with a bang. Pumped out the first several sets in 45 sec. each. The next few took 1:30, then 2:00. By the end of 8 min., I had done a total of six sets, and was cached. I spent the remaining 12 min. consoling myself, wondering why I couldn't do more.

I will definitely continue to do Crossfit WOD's, as soon as my body and confidence restore themselves.

Crossfit is no joke. It is a serious way to get results fast. Try it for yourself. I guarantee you will be a different person, or your money back.

If you are in the Tacoma or Seattle area, and are interested in Crossfit, I highly recommend you check out these gyms as I personally know the instructors and they are excellent. Check out this news article of Morgan Hepfer (owner/founder of Crossfit Tacoma). (I have not been paid to say this.) (Okay, maybe a little.) (Just kidding.)

Let me end with a cartoon to get your ass out of your chair and moving:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Recycle Energy

I've been reading The Permaculture Way, by Graham Bell, as well as Gaia's Garden: A Home-scale guide to Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway. In both these books, the use and reuse of energy is shown as a cycle rather than a concept of consumption.

We usually think of energy in terms of kilowatts that come from a power plant, gasoline and mpg, and for some of us, propane tanks. The various forms of energy we know of are all derivatives of our benefactor, the sun. It shines and gives plants energy, producing food for herbivores, in turn creating food for carnivores and omnivores. The oil, coal and gasses the earth provides are all forms of the suns energy stored from millions and billions of years.

So in fact, we can look at all life as different manifestations of the suns energy. The plants, the animals that eat the plants, the animals that eat the animals, the decomposers who eat everything, are all created by the energy of the sun.

We can reuse the energy stored in our "waste." Leftover food for example, can be returned to the cycle instead of being sent to the landfill. Yes, it will eventually be consumed by some other life form, but why not let that energy be spent on something nearer to home, and that can actually provide you a benefit. Send it to your compost, mulch it, give it to other animals, give it to your neighbor with a garden who will greatly appreciate it. These are much more efficient ways to recycle the energy. If we can find ways to keep the energy in a system longer, then more benefit can come from it.