Posts Tagged With: Experiment

Vagrant Story Episode 3: Drinking, Painting, and Money. Can the Lawyer be trusted?

When Bryan awoke the following morning he had a slight hangover. Nothin’ he ain’t dealt with before, he was a sailor, so he knows how to drink. Making a quick breakfast of oatmeal and Earl Gray tea, Bryan thought back to a thought he had last night amidst the inebriated pool game. Get a tattoo, Bryan mused to himself. I think it’s time to get my Compass.

Bryan had long wanted to get a compass tattoo on his left forearm Continue reading

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Categories: Blogging, Business, Camping, Character Development, philosophy, Self-improvement, Spirituality, Taoism, Travel, Vagabonding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vagrant Story Episode 2: Preachers, Guns, and the Venomous Great Escape from Hell?

Leaving the Citgo station our favorite Nomad resumes walking on the southbound road. He decides that he really just wants to walk for a while. The weight of his rucksack starts digging into his hips, pressing thin, hard metal carabineers into his soft, squishy skin. Bryan knows that this is happening because he refuses to adjust his bags. You see, Einstein thought it might be a brilliant idea to wear a belt under a belt attached to a belt. Huh? Continue reading

Categories: Blogging, Camping, Character Development, Health, Leadership, philosophy, Self-improvement, Society, Spirituality, Travel, Vagabonding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vagrant Story Episode 1: Wanna play with a Mountain Lion?

In the words of Cowboy Beebop…

“I think it’s time to blow this scene.

Get everybody and the stuff together…

OK. 3. 2. 1. Let’s Jam.”

Ladies and Germs… it begins. (And is written in the narrative third person for fun.)

After being dropped off at a truck stop in Mortons Gap KY, Continue reading

Categories: Blogging, Camping, Character Development, Equipment, Fear, Gear, Leadership, Paleo, philosophy, Primal, Self-improvement, Spirituality, Travel, Vagabonding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hammock Camping

Ladies and Germs, I am knee deep in preparations for a vagabonding journey to Ft. Lauderdale and beyond. The goal (if it can be said that I have one) is to hitch a ride on a sailboat to who knows where, and learn how to sail. I will start from Providence KY, taking a bus to Montegomery Alabama and from there, I’ll wing it (like I do.)

As a preface to the journey ahead, I’d like to take the time to talk about my newly Continue reading

Categories: Building, Camping, Character Development, cycling, Equipment, Fitness, Gear, Health, Primal, Self-improvement, Travel, Vagabonding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts about Technocracy

Let me be clear from the start: I am NOT anti-science or anti-intellectual. As you may well surmise, I think alot, I read alot, and I spend a great deal of time trying to ‘get to the bottom of things.’ I applaud science for many of the wonderful modern day technologies such as ovens, cars, computers which I love so much for there ability to bring me information that would else be very far out of reach and other such inventions without which life would be a hell of a lot harder.

But I also point my finger at science for such ‘abominations’ as nuclear weapons and waste, advancements in weaponry, Bioweapons, Chemical warfare, as well as processed foods, refined grains devoid of any nutritional value, the excess sugars pumped into dull and drab foods to make them sweet. And though this is not the place to go into it, I’ve got a thing against furniture that you wouldn’t believe. These are all scientific advances; their triggers and causes may have been economic, that could be true, but science is what brought them about.

My point is that some science, some technological advancement is good, but only if that tech is used in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration (A philosophy) which we as a human race have not, as yet been able to establish.  And if science was a bit more ‘philosophical,’ that is to say, if scientific baseball had on its team a few players who asked, “Should we?” Instead of always asking, “How can we?” then technology might evolve in a more hospitable spirit (ideology, mentality whatever literary symbol soothes your nerves.)
Technology would change, improve, and evolve at a much slower pace, that’s true (thank goodness), but its evolution would be conscious, focused, purposeful instead of what we have today which is, “Hey, let’s invent all this shit and wait to see its unintended consequences…. OHHHH! Nuclear technology… man that really came back to bite us in the ass hasn’t it?” Instead of waiting for yet another ‘miracle drug’ to be recalled from the market cause, ‘Hey its design was faulty after all… who knew?’ (that guy knew, and he tried to tell them) we could have a little ‘wisdom and compassion’ with our science.

(A side note, those three words feel weird together for me as though they don’t usually go together. Anyone else have that feeling?)

Philosophy is important. Its more important than anything else we’ve got going for us as humans (I would say that wouldn’t I), though the modern day academic attitude has all, but destroyed the art and science of philosophy. Hell, with what passes as philosophy these days, Universities might as well shut down there philosophy departments and move them all into Law or Mathematics.

All science, ALL OF IT comes from philosophy, the First Science, way back in the day (which was a Wednesday), before man had microscope and beaker; back when a rational man (gasp they existed back in those HEATHEN times) had naught but one tool at his disposal with which to explore his external (or so called external) world: His Mind.

And every technological tool invented since that is for acquiring information serves man as an ‘extension’ of one of his senses; it does not replace it. The microscope ‘amplifies’ his sight, it does not supersede it, mathematics ‘assists’ his logical mind to new heights. Mathematics IS logical philosophy. I think the philosophy that most people (and much of the empirical sciences) seem to disdain is the realm of metaphysics, and I won’t even go into the cognitive judo that explains that the rejection of metaphysics is itself a metaphysic. 🙂

All the problems that we have are philosophical. The proposed solution for our worldy ills, ‘Technocracy,’ is itself a philosophy. It is the ‘idea’ that experts should be running the show. That only those with skill should make decisions regarding areas of life (which are apparently all technical though they know fuck all about any spiritual crisis of which man has many) with which they have experience. This is the set up for what is in philosophy called dualistic thinking and consequently, dualistic living, since human society is philosophy in action. We’ve been doing it for almost all of recorded human history and its how we got ourselves in this mess to begin with.

Right now, one of our most basic and self-destructive form of dualistic thinking is deeply embedded in our monetary system: Those that are Wealthy as opposed from those that are Not Wealthy. Those that are wealthy have all the power and make decisions (are the causers) and those that are not wealthy are the followers (the eventers, the ones who more strongly and directly experience the results of ‘their’ decisions and causes).

In this hypothetical ‘Technocracy’ the stage is set for a similar dualism: Those that have Skill and those that do Not have Skill (I wonder what will happen to ‘useless’ and ‘non-practical’ skills like music, poetry, art, drama) . Those that have skill will make all the rules and decisions, while those that have no skills (or don’t have enough skill to have a voice) will just have to trust they ‘they’ know what they’re doing. This set up is a disaster, because its what we’re doing right now (only not so thoroughly and completely as full blown Technocracy would have us do), and it ain’t working.

We’re already outsourcing our decisions to ‘experts.’ When someone gets a tummy ache, the first place they go is the doctor (who charges you an arm and a leg) instead of looking at diet and nutrition, amount and quality of sleep… etc. When your toilet leaks; call a plumber. No, no, no, don’t investigate it first to see if you might be able to fix it on your own (which is notoriously easy to do), call in ‘the experts,’ cause they know what should be done. Car trouble? Screw figuring it out for myself, I’ll call a mechanic.

We’re already doing something a lot like that on a daily basis, such that no one even cooks anymore, they all figure that cooking’s too hard and it’s better to pick up fast food, or get something microwaveable from the store.

I admit I was initially excited about The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement and Technocracy, but upon delving deeper, I think these ideas stem from the same philosophies of perpetual frustration from which we already operate. In fact, at first glance I can see glaring and quite frightening similarities (from the point of view of one who studies ideas and where they come from) to Christian thought inlayed in the design of Technocracy.

I’m not sure how deeply you’ve thought about Christianity, but I’ve gone pretty far down the rabbit hole and the first and most important realization in rationally thinking about Christianity (as it is generally understood), is to understand how, in that mental construct one relates to Ultimate Reality. It’s an important question and in Christian baseball, man relates to Ultimate Reality as a subject to a King; and the King is the maker and shaper of the world; he’s a Cosmic Technician. In Christianity, God is an Autocratic Technocrat. That is to say, that God makes the world according to his own ideals and according to some kind of natural law; some kind of ‘higher order’ that he imposes upon a dumb and stupid world which He makes. And all his creations (subjects) are compelled by threat of punishment to comply with His law, which they may or not understand, but if they have concerns there is the Clergy and they know what should be done.

Now, I see the same gleam in the eye of Technocracy. Those who have Skill are going to be the movers and shakers of society. We hope that they’re unbiased in their ‘scientific’ (and not at all emotional) findings and therefore in the guidance in which they provide, but let’s be honest, humans are (after all) human. Who’s to say that the technological ‘experts’ calling the shots don’t have ulterior motives they’d like to push?

Even if you take money out of the equation and install a Resource Based Economy, getting rid of money, does not get rid of human desire or the whole host of problems that come with it, such as ambition, fuss over ones reputation, the attainment of and the desire to attain rewards and commendations… etc (Ha, ha, ha! Technological entendre… Install! As though society was a mere mechanistic ‘thing’ in which one could just swap certain parts, sigh, why does no one get that Life is organic and doesn’t work like machinery?)

Furthermore, who gets to decide which experts get to make which decisions? What ‘expert’ chooses other experts to inform society? And if the experts are informing society, then who is it that informs the informers? If these experts are to be the guardians of civilization, then who guards the guards?

Also, meditate on this: What about non-joiners? What if you have a selection of the population who decided that they don’t very much like the idea of Technocracy and that they’d like to do things their way and live in their backwater ancient ways and would really just like to be left alone? If it’s a small percentage I imagine Technocracy would be fine with it and could still function.

But supposing that the opposition is much larger say China, or a combination of Far Eastern cultures; what then? From what I understand RBE is an ‘all or nothing thing,’ the whole world has got to be on board or it won’t work. After all, resources must be allocated for the benefit of ALL people or else you get another dualism: those that have the benefit of RBE and those who do not. And those who do not have; have always wanted the treasure of those who have; thus we see the beginning of war.

Now, I should make it clear that my role, my Act in this Grand Drama we call Life, as a philosopher is just to put out ideas and get people thinking. I am not a Technocrat, nor am I a technician, nor am I really a huge fan of the empirical sciences as they exist today (mostly because they are based on the 19th century philosophies of Freud, Newton, Darwin… men who I would gladly strangle were they alive today, for convincing us that the Universe is dead, dumb and driven by blind brute force.)

I just want people to think about Technocracy before they cream their pants over it. If you think about it and it sounds like a worthwhile idea to you, then I wish you well in your endeavors; I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what they should or should not do. I have my opinions of course, and when I write, I write with a voice of authority, but in the end I am never to be taken seriously; I’m not nearly that stuffy and full of myself. I also realize that my thoughts are taken sometimes to the extreme. I do that on purpose, I want to take my thoughts are far as seems to me reasonably ‘possible,’ though not necessarily probable. Again, the point is just to generate other thoughts and to stimulate contemplation.

So in closing, I am curious to know your thoughts? Those of you who really go to bat for Technocracy; let’s hear from you. I myself am curious as to how it would all work. I’m open to the idea that maybe its not as I imagine it to be.

Categories: Ancient Classics, Building, Character Development, Economics, Government, Leadership, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society, Spirituality, Technocracy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My views on Astrology

Astrology: One of many advanced ideas from ancient times.

I find astrology to be an interesting idea. Many have refuted the idea and benefits of astrology because their daily horoscope in the Sunday paper was wrong, or because they have very ‘logical’ mind sets and think it’s bogus that the arbitrary positions of the planets can have any bearing on one’s personality.

With these people I most heartily agree. Your Sunday horoscope means nothing. I can’t stand the idea of Prophecy to begin with and it irritates me to no end that everything that Astrology contains has been watered down to a few sentences about your day based on your sun sign.

The idea that the planets themselves influence one’s personality is also stupid. But, if we look at this idea from a different point of view we find that perhaps the relationship between planets and personality is different that we imagine. You see most people have that idea in mind; the idea that the planets themselves create or fashion the personality, they think this is stupid so they write it off. But, what if the planets don’t ‘do’ anything? What if they are merely ‘indicators?’

Most people reject the idea that external planets ‘create’ an internal personality, in very much the same way that most people reject the idea of an external ‘Creator God’ having anything to do with the shaping of the physical Universe and internal psyche. People don’t really believe in God, not like they used to. After the bombshell that Newton, Freud, and Darwin dropped on us in the 19th century, people have begun to hope that there’s a god; to really, truly, and sincerely wish that there was one, and feel they should believe, but they don’t.

I shall have much more to say about that in other essays. But the astrological point is this: play with the idea long enough and you get the notion that the planets indicatethings in an individual rather than do anything to them.

In THIS post I write about my view of the Universe and human consciousness.

Now, if you understand that, if you feel this fact, then the idea of astrology makes perfect sense. It really seems very forward thinking of our ancestors of many different cultures to come up with some system of Consciousness interpretation. Back to oceanic examples. A wave is the ocean and it’s all the same energy, it is all the same water. So it may be said that the state of the wave is reflected in the state of the ocean; that is to say that if one could devise some way of interpreting or analyzing the state of the ocean, and then you could have a way of analyzing and interpreting the state of any individual wave.

That’s what astrology is. It is a method devised a really long time ago and by many different people, to interpret the state of our particular pool of Universal Consciousness, namely our Solar System. The ancient cultures had some kind of idea that the state of an individual could be reflected in the state of the visible ‘heavenly’ Universe and thus certain interpretations could then be made about the state of the individual; the ‘wave.’

Whether they put it into words or not, the ancient cultures openly thought that ‘who you are’ goes well beyond the confines of your skin, to such degree that the position of visible ‘heavenly’ bodies at the exact moment of your birth; in the exact location in which you were born, could be read to give insight as to the state and personality of the individual. It’s really quite an advanced concept when one thinks about it. Assuming a method like astrology can reliably make certain claims about one’s personality based on planetary ‘indications,’ one could almost take it as a verification of a living, intelligent, self-aware Universe.

Here is a segment of my Natal Horoscope that I pulled off café-astrology. I agree that it is important to take any computer generated Natal with a good dose of salt, however I never the less find this interpretation staggeringly accurate as to my personality.

[Begin Natal Horoscope]

Sun in Aries

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, and Aries natives are the first to start–and the first to finish–whatever they set out to do. Aries is an active, energetic sign. People with Sun in Aries are direct, straightforward, and uncomplicated. They expect the same from others, and are baffled when they don’t always get it.

The body comes first with Aries. Sun in Aries people are natural athletes. At the very least, their natural inclination is to use their bodies to get things done. They’re not given to long, drawn-out emotional moments; nor are they big on planning ahead. Instead, they live their lives simply. What is happening right now is most important to Aries. Impatience is a definite vice, and innovation is a huge strength. Aries loves to start anything new, and they have trouble sitting still. They are pioneers in whatever they do, and there is a very basic quality of bravery in these people that is unmistakable! Aries generally knows what they want, and they know the quickest route to getting it. They take shortcuts if they must, but generally everything is aboveboard. Underhanded just isn’t their style. Some Aries people are bold, but even the quieter ones are brave and even plucky in their own way. Independence is their birthright. Nothing gets them going more than a fresh slate, the promise of a new day, and a brand new start.

Sun in IX (House)

You have a deep need to understand the world around you. You have high ideals and you have your eye on what’s on the horizon. You are looking ahead, and at times can seem quite restless. You are proud of your knowledge and of your morals. Be sure to avoid self-righteousness in your enthusiasm to share your knowledge. When used correctly, you are a tolerant, adventurous, and curious person, and you want to see the best in people and in life.

65 Trine Sun – Uranus

It is natural for you to question tradition. You are, above all things, an individualist. You naturally rebel against that which is established. It doesn’t mean that you consistently break all the rules, but you definitely do question some of the rules, especially those that simply don’t make much sense. You possess much self-integrity.

You easily embrace new ways of doing things, you stick up for the underdog, and you express yourself in unique and inspiring ways. You value honesty and truth, and you avoid putting on airs. You believe in the equality of people, and easily relate to people from all walks of life. You possess an unmistakable enthusiasm about life, and generally your life is interesting because you invite unusual or adventurous experiences into your life. You are generally appreciated by others because you are open-minded, fair, and not judgmental.

Moon in IX (House)

Highly imaginative. Prolonged studies, is intuitive. Professionally successful abroad, or in import-export or as a diplomat. Contact with foreigners. Long journeys. Ability to learn foreign languages.

You are a philosophical sort, interested and curious about the world, other people, and perhaps different cultures. You can be extremely restless and discontented if you don’t have a definite goal in mind.

31 Trine Moon – Ascendant

He has a good influence on the family, which loves and helps the person. He likes travelling, movement, change. He likes contact and is open to other people.

Mercury in IX

His thirst for knowledge is never satisfied. He is full of mental activity. He undertakes exhaustive studies, always studying for pleasure. Likes journeys to faraway places, and can go to live abroad.

You are eternally curious and hunger for knowledge. You enjoy studying and learning, and do it not because you have to, but because you want to. You enjoy exchanging ideas and personal philosophies with others. You can be especially buoyant, enthusiastic, and even inspiring in your communications. While you may not pay enough attention to details, you are skilled at finding a quick solution to problems. You readily see the bigger picture and enjoy sharing your opinions and ideas. You get off on how information affects people’s lives, and you take great pleasure in learning that something you have shared or taught has inspired others to take action, experience something new, or make changes in their lives. Some of you might be too quick to offer advice, however, that might be lacking in thoroughness and practicality, or that you yourself don’t follow.

[End Natal Horoscope]

Personally, I find this to be incredibly accurate as far as indicating (not determining) my personality. Given that I travel a lot and am the philosophical sort… as you might have guessed… I’d say these are fairly accurate statements.

I have used astrology to help shed light on certain areas of my life during times of personal confusion. I have used my Natal Horoscope to identify facets of my personality that are strong and merit continued dedication and focus. Astrology has been an invaluable tool in helping me to decide what was worth investing effort into and what was just an idle fancy. For instance, I tend to be a Jack of all Trades, and I’m usually good at anything I really set my mind to do, from teaching English, to miltary service, to studying philosophy, to the healing arts, to installing a new toilet tank this morning. Because I adapt so quickly and learn so fast I have a really hard time choosing ‘what to do’ (as though I could only choose one thing.)

I believe this difficulty has been brought about by my experience with our education system which pressures children (and consequently the adults they will become) to ‘specialize’ that is to pick one thing they are good at and do more or less only that. For most kids this was an easy pick, it was fairly obvious what they were good at and what they were total failures at, so given the slightest bit of psychological validation from an important figure in their lives, they ran full speed towards whatever made important figure happy.

I was not like this. I was always good at many things, I still am; and I always rejected the thoughts and opinions of others about me; choosing instead to trust myself as my own moral compass. This produced a lot of confusion in me as I waivered constantly between this and that; never able to pick just one skill to invest in or one track to follow. You will often see me refer to myself as a ‘Joker;’ a societal ‘Wild Card’ and most people have always found my natural flip flop ability to be very disconcerting.

Astrology helped clear my head a bit by allowing me to contrast my chart with the charts of friends and family members and gave me what I call ‘Astro Eyes.’ I learned to see just how different my personality ‘blueprint’ was from most of the people that I read and I began to slowly understand that I wasn’t ‘wired’ like most of my friends and family and that this was a very good thing.

My self-esteem didn’t hinge upon the praise and blame of others and this allowed me the freedom to do things my own wrong way, make my own mistakes and learn from them. I began to read about astrology and take the knowledge and use it in ‘cold reading’ people. It’s most important use was to show me that the reason I am good at so many things is because everything revolves around ideas and that’s my astrological area of expertise: ideas. Basically, I ‘get it.’ I start doing things and I begin to intuitively understand the pattern of what I’m doing. Before I know it, I understand what I’m doing and without the mystery it becomes boring and I lose interest.

Astrology has also helped me identify areas of challenge, areas of my life that if I would willingly take the time to develop would assist me in evolving as a conscious being. For me, my greatest challenge is in self-control and self-discipline. I tend to be a very ‘on the go’ kind of guy and my challenge is to be stable enough to accomplish something. I generally give way to my impulses and a lesson that would serve me well is a lesson in self-discipline.

It seems odd that the Navy wasn’t my bag as one would think that the military would be great for self-discipline, but it can’t be a discipline that is forced on me. The Navy was much too…’ do this or else.’ If you back me into a corner I fight (Aries), but if I back myself into a corner, fully knowing and understanding why I am submitting myself to this rule, tradition, practice, or structure , then the healing and growth can begin; because it will be a discipline that I have chosen for myself.

In this way I can hold myself accountable and discipline myself to engage in certain beneficial practices like my nightly meditation, my conscious awareness of bodily nutrition and body posture. But the most important aspect about self-discipline is being able to treat myself fairly. I know myself, I know what encourages me, what motivates me, what repels me, what discourages me. I’m only human and sometimes I can’t always live up to my own expectations or hold myself to higher standards all the time. Being my own mentor, I can handle myself tactfully taking care not to discourage myself in the future.

Sometimes I act out of spite. I may know that an authority is right, but if the world won’t live or die in the decision, I may make the logically wrong decision just to show that I can exert my free will and to feel victorious in the sense that even if I’m wrong or fail, at least I wasn’t controlled. I freely admit that this makes me very easy to manipulate if you can manage to trick me with well played reverse psychology, though I can usually see that shit coming a mile away.

This long ass diatribe of myself; all this self-knowledge has come about as a result of my astrological studies. I did not know these things about me when I was in the Navy and much of my childish attitude and standoffish nature could have been understood and then worked through had I this knowledge. I wasn’t a very self-aware individual then, but my foray into astrology changed all that and now I know why I feel ‘right’ when I hitchhike and cycle across the country, why foreign languages interest me, and why I can read Plato’s Republic like a bedtime story.

For those who are curious about astrology and would like a place to get a pretty detailed free natal chart, I direct you here. Mind you, it is a computer generated chart, so take some things with a grain of salt, but its a great starting point. I found mine through this site to be amazing ‘accurate,’ if such a word can be used, and I hope it will be of benefit to you. If you’d like to get into my head, HERE is my Natal Chart.

Categories: Astrology, Character Development, Emotion, Health, Leadership, philosophy, Self-improvement, Society, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking for feedback.

First I’d like to start by thanking everyone who reads my articles. I really appreciate it. This is my first web page where I can rant and rave and post updates about my nutritional, philosophical, and sometimes political ideas.

I am curious though. Those of you who read, how do you like the site? Is it easy to access earlier articles? Do you find it easy to post comments and navigate the site?

Do you have any thoughts about how I can improve the site?

I Appreciate your thoughts.

Categories: Blogging, Building, Character Development, Friendship, online, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1/25/12 Lift Heavy Things 3: LEVEL UP!

This is actually my third session of Lift Heavy Things (LHT). The first was my self assessment, the second happening about 3 days from then, and now we have this one. Here’s how it went:

Max Effort

Knee Push Ups- Goal 50- 1st Set 50- 2nd Set: 50

Full Squat- Goal 50- 1st Set 50- 2nd Set 50 LV UP

Jack Knife Press- Goal 20- 1st Set 20- 2nd Set 21

Forearm/Knee Plank- Goal 90 sec- 1st Set 90 sec- 2nd Set 90 sec LV UP

1 Leg Assisted Pull Ups- Goal 15- 1st Set 15- 2nd Set 15

Notes: I’m ready to step it up on my squats and my Planks, I think I’m accomplishing them too easy and in good form. So I’m Leveling Up. Yes, thats right. As though this were an Final Fantasy game, I’m Leveling Up.

I do have some thoughts about my results though… I’m noticing that my lower body is vastly stronger than my upper body. My squats are going to LV 5!!! and my Planks are moving up to LV 3 after only 10 days. Even when I look in a mirror I notice that my thighs are huge in comparison to the rest of me. And its not fat. My extremities don’t seem to have that much fat; its all pretty much centered around my ass, my abdomen, and my upper torso.

My upper body results leave something to be desired. I made the goals set, but Knee Push Ups are seriously kicking my ass (though not as much so it IS an improvement.) And I get the feeling that I am using too much ‘leg’ with my chair assisted pull ups.

I do love how the workout is truly a TOTAL body workout. One exercise I used to do for my lower back was hyperextension with a kettle bell. I think the planks pretty much take care of that now, in addition to all my other core muscles: abs, obliques, hip flexors. I even notice that proping myself up on my forearm works my upper back.

Full squats REALLY get the heart rate going. I remember back when I was going to the gym and eating a shit ton of carbs before my 20 minute morning cardio and then I would hit the free weights; and NEVER out of all those gym workouts with weights have I had my HR increase so fast and so powerfully than with these prisoner squats.

I love the Jack Knife Press. Its difficult, but I just like the movement; the muscles it works. I’m doing pretty good on them, I reached the goal today without too much of a ‘stop’ between reps, but I think I should continue until I can blast the full 20.

Categories: Character Development, Fitness, Health, Leadership, Medicine, Nutrition, Paleo, philosophy, Primal, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Primal Week 1: Wanna go Sprinting Barefoot after a Steak?

As I sit here picking bits of Medium Rare tender beef steak out of my teeth, I am reminded of why I love being a human: I get the rare opportunity to eat the meats of lesser boned aminamals… and be conscious of my enjoyment of it.

Vegetables are great, I fuckin love’em; I’m eating a HUGE salad with this meal. But eating a garlic pepper seasoned, slightly bloody, organic, grass-fed steak is like… a kickboxing match in your mouth. Ah… yes.

This post is about my month-long experiment of Going Primal. So let’s first spell out the rules.

For the next 4 weeks, or 28 days, I will be following ‘The Primal Blueprint.’

This means I will be eating according to their guide as well as ‘exercising’ according to their standards using their methods. Very basically this means following the 10 Primal Laws.

The 10 Primal Laws.

1: Eats lots of animals, plants, and insects.

2: Move around a lot at a slow pace.

3: Lift Heavy Things.

4: Run really fast every once in a while.

5: Get lots of sleep.

6: Play.

7: Get some Sunlight every day.

8: Avoid Trauma (Self Destructive behavior.)

9: Avoid Poisonous things (Mc. Donald’s, processed food, Grains… etc.)

10: USE YOUR MIND.

For those who want to hear all this straight from the horse’s mouth, I direct you here http://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-primal-blueprint/#axzz1jg4ZSjHP

That’s a pretty simple outline for a lifestyle, maybe too simple? I thought getting fit and eating right had to be this hard, overbearing, miserable, and long and drawn out process; now you’re telling me that PLAYING is a part of my health and fitness? So it would seem.

People take up a diet and fitness routine for its benefits to one’s health and physique, so I assume the question on everyone’s mind is “how will you eat and what exercises will you be doing?” ‘Tis a fair question. Let us dive in to the eating part. As Mark Sisson, the author of the Primal Blueprint says, “80% of your body composition is the foods you eat.” I won’t type word for word what he goes on to say about gene expression; it’s quite lengthy and you can just buy his book or visit Mark’s Daily Apple.

Primal Eating.

Basically I will be eating primally, following the first Primal Law.
1: Eats lots of animals, plants, and insects.

That’s simple enough. Like most eating patterns this means (Law 9: Avoid Poisonous Things) no processed bullshit, sodas, refined sugars yada yada yada. What’s new, at least for me, is the blatant attack on grains coming out of left field. I always thought whole wheat, multi grain, and oatmeal was good for me.

Maybe not. The cornerstone of the Primal Blueprints eating habits all revolve around your body’s insulin production and the pancreas’ insulin response to the amount and type of carbohydrate that you put into your body, as well as removing all grains from your diet. Completely. Immediately. Permanently. Why? An in-depth look at why grains are bad is another matter in itself; one that would easily double this article. Therefore, I direct you here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-grains-are-unhealthy/#axzz1kK24SP00

In short the Primal Blueprint (PB) dietary lifestyle is:

  • No Grains. This means no bread, rice, pasta, corn (yes corn is a grain not a vegetable), oatmeal (I will miss you) or cereals or granola bars.
  • No Dairy. This means no milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, but strangely allows butter (real butter.)
  • No Soy. The problems with soy revolve around the lectins found within much like grains. Also like grains, soy cannot be eaten unless it is processed.
  • No Sugar including molasses, processed foods, artificial sweeteners… etc. etc.
  • Enjoyed sparingly will be foods like honey, dark chocolate, alcohol.
  • Foods to be eaten in moderation are most fruits. Some fruits contain a surprising amount of carbs (fructose) and so eating fruit in moderation will be important.
  • I’ll be eating as much as I can of meat and non-starchy vegetables.

Now I must admit that I will from time to time, once a week, have a small amount of cheese in my salad and perhaps a tiny amount of milk, because I enjoy these things. I won’t drop everything I love cold turkey, but I will be getting Primal Eating right about 90% of the time.

Primal Fitness

Primal Fitness consists of 3 main aspects:

Sprinting

Move Slowly/ Play/ Rest

Lift Heavy Things/ Workout of the Week

Sprinting; run really fast every once in a while.

It’s pretty simple. One day a week, go run your guts out (It’s what I did today.). Sprint with as much effort as you possibly can. And it’s more about effort and raising the heart rate than about speed, though in time your speed will improve, but improved speed is not the goal; rather a byproduct.

Move Slowly.

My long diatribe against Chronic Cardio could easily add another 5 pages to this article, but suffice it to say that our ancestors did not wake up in the morning and ‘go for a run.’ That’s stupid, ‘go for a run.’ They ran only when they absolutely had to and when they did they ran really, really fast. See Sprinting above. For the most part, our ancestors were nomadic and traveled constantly. They did not stop in one area, build a house and a deli and make cities. It was not until the Sumerians set up shop that we had cities. When they were nomadically travelling, they moved slowly. They took their sweet ass time barring any danger at their backs.

So the modern-day equivalent to move slowly, is to go for long walks and hikes; 3-5 hours a week of just moving slowly. Exert enough effort to elevate the heart rate a bit, but keep it to a vigorous hike at most. If you can’t carry on a conversation during your jaunt, you’re going too fast.

Playing/ Resting

Playing is an important part of life; it’s what hard work is for. The human brain and body decided a long time ago that it would only exert itself in order to obtain ‘goodies.’ No ‘goodies’ no work. In our modern times, man works against his fundamentally playful and curious nature, by working for nothing; that is working without gaining any satisfaction. Paying bills and working a job and purchasing items and such may be necessary to sustain Life, but they are not what Life is for. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not wasted in slave labor to pay the electric bill. To quote Henry David Thoreau, “Man spends the best part of his life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty, during the least valuable part of it.” All work and no play make Man a dull boy; and add an outrageous amount of stress to his life.

In Primal times it is thought that Grok didn’t have the chronic stress that we do today. Sure, he had some stressful things to think about, possibly getting eaten, maybe going hungry for a day or two, competition among other paleolithic humans, and the stress that comes from the intense physical exertion (and fear) of climbing up an unstable structure to get said food.

But once these moments had passed, the stress was done. Stress was an in the moment thing for Grok; he didn’t carry the stress with him all day/ week/ year. Almost getting eaten by a tiger was hell, but assuming he escaped death, one thing he certainly did not do was go back to his cave, crack open a mind altering depressant (beer) and bitch to his wife about how unfair the system was; shouting that tigers are just fuckin running around eating people and that somebody should do something about it.

After the stressful moment was over, Grok went back to eating his current meal, moving slowly over the Earth, wrestling with his young children, bonking his female mate, playing competitive rock throwing, log lifting games with his male hunting buddies. For all the danger there was, Grok seemed to be having great fun when his life wasn’t in mortal danger.

The life of Grok had a lot of ups and down to be sure and the swings were intense, but the one thing that we can be sure of is that Grok had fullness of experience. Grok’s life may have been short (because he probably got eaten or succumbed to deadly diseases neither of which are really valid survival issues anymore) but it was full and intense in a way that we have forgotten and Grok didn’t let the stress of daily dangers and struggles ruin the moment for him.

So in our day of chronic ‘take your work home with you’ stress, Play is important if only to relieve all that stress since stress is a risk factor for nearly every major disease and illness. Play also makes your life worth living; it makes life fun which as far as I can tell is the only purpose for Life. Life isn’t going anywhere, that is, it’s not ‘doing’ anything. The things that happen in Life don’t seem to be coherently moving in any particular way; towards any particular goal. So, play from what I gather is the point, the purpose of Life. Be happy while you’re alive. Happiness and fun are really the only things that actually matter.

Lift Heavy Things

Twice a week you should Lift Heavy Things. In Primal Fitness, this amounts to progressive bodyweight training or if you’re fit enough, tackling one of the Work Outs of Week. The bodyweight exercises are simple and ‘designed’ to mimic the 5 essential compound movements of our primal ancestors. All exercises work a wide range of muscle groups and performing all 5 exercises is truly a full body workout. The 5 essential movements are Push Ups, Pull Ups, Overhead Press, Squats, and Abdominal Planks. All of them are bodyweight exercises; none require a gym membership or expensive equipment. The most you might need is a pull-up bar, but a little creativity can overcome the lack of one.

The bodyweight exercises in Primal Fitness are incredibly malleable and infinitely scalable; they can be as easy or as difficult as you want by adding weight to your body to make it harder or simply changing your body’s position. If straight push-ups are too hard make them a little easier by inclining your body up a hill; to make them more difficult turn your body the other way and face down the hill allowing gravity to aid you in a tougher workout.

There are 9 variations of each of the 5 movements. I won’t write here about all the variations of the 5 movements (45 different movements in total), but they’re all structured the same way with LV 4 being the basic movement itself, the 3 LVs preceding building up to the essential movement, and the 5 LVs that follow serving to increase the difficulty.

But where should one start in this sliding scale of exercise difficulty? That was my question when I started this week and the answer to that riddle lies in the self-assessment. To find out which bodyweight exercises you should start with, Primal Blueprint Fitness (PBF) suggests undergoing a self-assessment to ascertain your current level of fitness.

The assessment places you by scoring your ability to perform a certain number of reps of five different exercises. These are the exercises performed and the scale to grade yourself. I did the Primal Blueprint self-assessment and I’ve got to say, I thought I was stronger than this. My scores were horrendous:

22 Push Ups

5 Pull Ups (How can one do 5 pull ups but only 22 push-ups?)

61+ Full Squats (Thanks to my back packing tendencies I’m ok here.)

6 Dive Bombers

60 Sec Forearm/ Feet Plank (Really expected more outta me here.)

I really thought that having bicycled across the country I would be at least a little more fit than this, but I guess not. Just goes to show you that things that seem difficult may not be so hard and may not make you so tough because you did them.

Based on my self-assessment scores I’m starting with:

LV 2 Knee Push Ups

LV 2 One Leg chair assisted pull ups

LV 4 Full Squats

LV 2 Jack Knife Press

LV 2 Forearm knee planks

In all honesty, I’m not very comfortable starting with such ‘unmanly’ training exercises like knee push-ups and knee planks or assisted pull ups. My ego tells me that since I scored pretty close to LV 3 on the push-ups that maybe I should ‘challenge’ myself by starting with incline push-ups which would seem a little more ‘manly.’ But, I’m trying to respect the process of progression that Mark Sisson has come up with and I’m giving the Primal Blueprint methodology a fair and honest opportunity to demonstrate itself. So, for now, I’m going to train with my body and not my ego.

Each workout session, sessions that should only happen twice a week unless I feel up to adding in an extra bout, will consist of two cycles performing one set of X number of reps of a particular exercise. I had wanted to include a sample of what my workouts looked like, but apparently I’m too stupid to create a table that formats correctly. -.-;

Progression

Progression in bodyweight training is based upon the successful completion of X number of reps of your chosen bodyweight exercise variation in BOTH cycles. And you should honestly evaluate yourself based on form and how difficult it was to achieve the target reps. For instance based on the scores of my training above; I can progress to the next LV in everything. However comma, it was really hard. I’m serious, I didn’t expect girly knee push-ups to kick my ass, but having to do 50 of them straight was quite difficult. I have to be honest in my evaluation and I should stay with this for a while. In time I will progress, but that time is not now.

Thoughts so Far.

I suppose I’ll end this long (but worth it) article with a photo update. This is what I look like after about 10 days Primal:

Is it much of an improvement? I’m sure 7 days is not enough time to make that call, nor do I think the photograph does my ‘improvements’ justice. In just a short amount of time, I feel better. I definitely feel improvements, even if they are not aesthetically obvious, I have lost weight and by that I mean flabby padding around my mid-section.

I’m not weighing myself so I’m not sure the number of how much weight I’ve already lost, but this morning I walked naked in front of my bathroom mirror and noticed that I have muscle; muscle I never noticed before. I suppose it was always there, but had been covered by some layer of fat that is slowly being eroded (not that I had much fat to begin with compared to some that are vastly overweight when they start.) When I tense my abdominal muscles, I can feel under my skin the ‘notches’ of six-pack abs. It’s like I know they’re there, and I have to keep going so as to undergo a fitness ‘gestation’ period. And as time has gone by, I have begun to notice slight improvements in my physique; improvements that a camera does not catch.

In following articles I will give details about my eating habits and workouts, as well as post photo updates to watch the progression. I appreciate all who read. Is there anybody reading this that is ‘Primal?’ Has anybody tried it and what was your experience?

Categories: Character Development, Fitness, Health, Leadership, Nutrition, philosophy, Primal, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prelude to my Primal Experiment. I was so strong before, what happened?

Ladies and Germs, for those that don’t know back in September of 2011 I went on a really long bike ride. I rode from Yakima WA to San Diego CA. It took about 55 days and I rode over 1700 miles living on $8-$11 a day. During the trip I became fascinated by a diet called the Paleolithic Diet. Far from being a fad diet, Paleo was about a lifestyle and  required many changes to bring ones life more closely aligned with how we’ve evolved over 2 million years. I won’t go into the details of Paleo living, literature abounds on the net. Google it yourself.

However I am here to tell you that for the duration of my trip I adopted the Paleo Diet and doing no ‘exercise,’ that is without setting aside a specific time to ‘train’ or ‘workout’ I lost 40 lbs in about 2 months. Many would say that my biking 30-50 miles a day on average helped. I’m sure it did, I’m sure the moving and the exertion of effort was a great factor into my weight loss and strength gain.

But I don’t believe thats all there was to it. I met many cyclists on the road who were no where near as fit as I had become. They had been cycling for years, they were around my age, and they’d been ‘exerting themselves’ for waaayy longer than I had, yet they had a mere fraction of the strength I’d only recently developed. What was the difference between us?

The one thing I noticed was our diets. Both the items we ate, the nutrient contents, and the money spent. They spent way more money, ate way more food, but stayed about the same. When I told them of the complete transformation that I was undergoing they wondered how it was possible that I would make such progress in such a short amount of time.

Consider these photos:

This is what I looked like before my trip in July of 2011. I didn't actually decide to take the plunge and go on my trip till September of that year.

And this photo:

This is me in a hotel in Garbersville CA, just 26 days into my cycling trip.

No pictures were taken unfortunately, but I looked even better by the time I got to San Diego and I was stronger, so much stronger than when I started.

What did I do? How did this progress happen in such a relatively short period of time? The only thing I’ve come up with is that I adopted a Primal Lifestyle. Part of it was a choice and part of it was just the necessities of cycling across the country with no money. I didn’t eat dairy products. No milk, cheese, yogurt. Where would I have put these things? I wasn’t packing a refridgerator on my bike; they would have spoiled. And they were expensive. Some travellers I saw would buy a half gallon of milk everytime they wanted a bowl of cereal. I don’t have that kind of cash nor a desire to drink that much milk in one sitting.  So travelling and financial necessity demanded that I give them up.

I learned how to listen to my body. Early on in my trip, grains just werent cuttin it for me. I love oatmeal, but it just wasn’t filling. Nor was pasta or rice. After a half hour of biking I would be ravenously hungry. From time to time I carried meat with me. I usually bought it in small quantities and only on rare occasions as it was, comparatively, expensive. I started to notice that on the mornings that I ate beef or chicken, I stayed full till my next planned snack/ lunch in 2.5-3 hours.

Grains stopped working for me, so I gave them up. I decided that meat wouldn’t be that expensive if I stopped buying grains. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy both grains and meat, but I figured that the money I’m not spending on grains I could reinvest into meat.

I of course ate ALOT of fruits and vegetables. Some I ate less frequently because of their cost (blueberries, blackberries, avacadoes) but when I added up what I was saving from not buying grains I found that I had money left over, even after buying meat. So I was able to gradually work these more expensive, but very healthy foods into my diet.

At some point, I realized that the fat in the meat was what kept me full and gave me energy for long bike rides. I worried about my carb intake. I figured that carbs were very important since I was cycling across the country and all. So I researched my foods on the internet to see how many carbs I was eating without bread and rice and oatmeal. I found I was still eating about 150- 170 g of carbs a day. My fruit and vegetables were full of them!!

I began to research low carb diets on the internet to see if eating such a low amount of carbs was healthy for me. This is when I came across the Paleolithic Diet. You can read about the diet on your own time, but during my cycling trip my body had basically been telling me to eat almost exactly the way The Caveman diet described.

Once I include eggs (yes I found a way to carry them on my bike) nuts, and a bottle of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) I was set, my food costs did jump to a outrageous $8 a day on their own, but even if you add the average $5 a night it cost me to camp in the Hiker/ Biker sections of State Parks, I was living an incredibly nutrition, healthy, active, and most importantly FUN lifestyle on $13 bucks a day!!!

This is why I think the ruling powers in our society hate vagabonders and generally disdain adventurous travel. Its so friggen cheap!! And Good for you!! You can’t make money off the vagabonder. He eats low cost nutritious food so theres no money to get out of him for overpriced, unhealthy, processed foods. He’s active all day, so his immune system is powerful and he almost never gets sick and even when he does, water and proper rest usually sees him back on his feet in a day or two, so pending any catastrophic genetic health disorders, theres no money to be made off him in pharmacutical drugs or medical tests or hospital bills.

He’s content to live simply, and doesn’t go to excess, but doesn’t neglect what is fundamentally important to him: his health and quality of life. And he understand that the quality of his health, is the quality of his life. He’s also smart enough to know, that it doesn’t take much to be healthy.

Now, I told you that to tell you this. I am currently in Providence KY. I have been here with my parents for a little over a month. Recently, I’ve been on their diet; I eat what they eat. They eat: Bread, Rice, Fried Meats, Pasta, things that are supposed to be good for you. I also go for runs and jogs. I’m not exactly biking 30-50 miles a day, but I’ve still been kinda of active; I run 3 miles a session for about 2-3 sessions a week; 6-9 miles a week. I’ve also occasionally had a few sessions of push ups and crunches. Not a lot of activity, but not sedentary either. I’ve been eating what they eat for about a month. This is what I look like now:

January 15 what I look like after eating my parents high carb diet for 1 month

So what happened? Heres what has changed: I’m not NEARLY as active as I was during my trip. I’m eating grains again, which I wasn’t doing. Because grains are basically ’empty’ carbs I’m essentially eating sugars (thats what carbs are) that have no nutritional value, or we could say that I am eating carbs that have ‘some’ nutritional value, but no nutrient that I couldn’t get from better fruit and vegetable based sources.

I think that I can reproduce the fast and dramatic results from my cycling trip. The Primal Blueprint sounds about like what I was doing on my trip. Low carb, high fat, moderate protein, lots of low impact exercises, with sessions of short high intensity physical exertion. Yes, cycling across the country, when taken day by day, mile by mile, is a fairly low impact activity. The cycling wasn’t difficult except when I had to grind up the hills and the switchbacks. Other than that, it was fairly low intensity; I just kept plugging along.

The constant activity, combined with with what was essentially a Primal Diet, resulted in pounds melting off me and improved physical strength. The only major difference between what I was doing and a Paleo/ Primal lifestyle was the type of exercise I did. Cycling is defnitely cardio and Primal frowns on Chronic Cardio and instead focuses more on strength training and building lean muscle mass to burn calories.

So I am planning an experiment. I will follow a Primal lifestyle for 1 whole month and see if I notice a significant difference either in my physique or in ‘the way I feel.’ I will post regular updates here and possibly videos on my Youtube account. Details of the experiment to follow in another post.

Have fun watching me ‘Go Primal.’

Categories: Character Development, Fitness, Health, Leadership, Medicine, Nutrition, philosophy, Primal, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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