cat of nine tailsBe sure to check out the new blog from Librarian and Lifting genius Josh Hanagarne: Night Wieners.

It is a blog about writing. Check it out. A clip:

Here’s the “too long, didn’t read version”: Go do some writing. Then do some tomorrow as well. Do that many times. One day you’ll be done. Trust yourself.

WP_20130720_001Not entirely too recently, I purchased the move “Rush.” This is Ron Howard’s new film about F1 racing, and I have watched it several times now. It is really less of a story about the competition between two drivers, axis is an exquisite bit of car porn.

Quite early in then film, One of the characters notes that, “Men love women, but even more than that, men love cars.” Quite likely, this could be taken as a terribly sexist or even misogynistic comment, but to do so really would misunderstand the situation.

One scene, only very brief, in the early moments of the film shows the initial firing up of a series of formula 3engines, with waves of gasoline spreading across the throttle plates of the carburetors of the engines as the men get ready to race. I watch that, and am no less aroused than the scene earlier when James hunt is making it with a terribly sexy and nude nurse prior to the same race. But it’s a different thing.

And perhaps it’s stupid. I can’t really tell. I’m a guy, and frankly I’m not all that bright all the time, but I try to be just a bit perceptive about it.

I’ve heard it said that Women are sex objects, and that men are Success objects. That’s obviously an oversimplification, but not too far off. and I think a lot of the love of cars within men comes from that. The idea that you can take metal, rubber, and gasoline, and turn it into a race car is a very successful concept for anyone. Really, it shouldn’t be a male/female split, and I think it is becoming less so.

I see some men appreciating their looks, and women appreciating their success as well. And I think this is great. especially as it hits close to home.

Outside some anthropological drive for automotive and success-oriented superiority, cars have a drive. They have their own draw to many, and I have been pleased as I have seen my daughter’s draw to cars.

I learned to love cars. partially, from growing up around so many. At least I think that’s a big driver. But in any case. my list of cars falls unser the following:

  • ’71 Oldsmobile
  • ’77 Honda
  • ’75 Cadillac
  • ’75 Bug
  • ’93 Jeep
  • ’02 Subaru
  • ’04 Chrysler
  • ’05 Dodge
  • and on the side, a ’76 Triumph

This list also betrays my fetish for ’70’s cars in general. Can’t say why that is. but it is.

and while there are a lot of men who only see their cars as a mode of transport between two points, I have always had a close relationship with my cars. Each one meant something to me, positive and negative. Even something as simple as having an American car has always carried meaning. But, in general, I think keeping the relationship with a mechanical car is what always pulls at my heart.

For me, being able to deep dive into the inner workings of my current british project, with no power systems at all, has meant a lot. each system that I fix carries meaning, and gives me a personal boost, even if no one else ever learns about it. It is a small part of my success, and grants me confidence.

I have been very glad to learn of my daughter’s interest in cars. She is a beautiful girl, and probably could choose to skate by on her looks if she choose. but she is smart and curious. And I have infected her with my passion for mechanical and loud gasoline devices. and while I doubt that any specific knowledge on how one or another car works will ever be of deep value to her, I know that the lack of fear and deep inquisitive nature that starts the questioning process will pay off in spades in her life.

I also hope to saddle her with a British car, so that the opportunities for reflection never cease. But not a French car, that would just be mean.

I’m almost certain it started with a spaghetti shooting tank.WP_20130727_001

I was around 3 or 4 when I remember my dad making reel-to-reel tapes of his voice. He was sending messages to his brother, who was living in England. I, of course, had no idea what that meant. But from this start I had a life long exposure to English culture, and specifically, mechanics.

With the next mail, I got a present. It was a small, metal tank. unlike a lot of american toys, this was heavy, with working treads, and a spring loaded barrel. it was probably supposed to come with some small plastic bullets or something, but those were missing, so we broke bits of spaghetti into short bits, and they shot out of the barrel quite nicely when we flipped the little lever.

This was my first Corgi toy. Corgi made amazing toys, most famously the James Bond cars, with shooting rockets and ejector seats and such, and my uncle sent them along with his tapes. Not too much later, something much larger arrived.

A flatbed truck with two very, very small cars arrived. Bigger than my tank, but smaller than any American car that I had seen.

These were Minis.

Between the two, I found out that one had a good body, and the other had a great engine. Both were rolled into our garage, and I watched as they were torn into bits. These bits were then reassembled into one working car. Ten the thing of the working car began. I watched as this little blue car, smaller than the hood of my grandfather’s Oldsmoblie, was upgraded and tuned, in our own garage.

Racing seats and five-point seat belts were added. Front rally lights were bolted on, and the whole car got “works” tuned. This was during the 70’s gas crisis, and this tuned sports car got over 30 MPG, and was our daily driver.

Then the Lotus arrived.

The Lotus Super Seven was a british kit car, not in the American sense that you would take a cheap car, like a VW Bug, and slap a body onto it to make a kit, but in the sense that you would get an open wheel race car in several boxes, and assemble it in your garage. This one was driven by my uncle in London, and now we had it. it had frozen badly in shipment, and was torn down to the frame by my father for rebuild.

We had a tubular frame in our garage for quite a while, I remember being able to pick it up and carry it around before getting yelled at for running off with the car. Bits would get riveted and bolted on each week, and it became more and more of a car. It was mostly back together when the Aston Martin arrived.

I kew the Aston right away, as I had the Corgi James Bond toy on my shelf. This was a DB6, not a DB5 as in the movies, and was in surprisingly good shape.

This was just my start with British cars.

My entire childhood was spent around little bins of parts saved for reassembly, marked and kept, as replacements were hard to find. We watched Monty Python and The Prisoner on channel 9 at night. I recognized the Lotus 7 in the credits, naturally. I also wondered why the other kids did not. and wondered why they looked at me funny when I mentioned watching The Prisoner.

Much of this explains why, earlier this year, I had no choice but to buy a Triumph Spitfire from my friend Henry. He made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse.

When he dropped it off, I could see that he was nervous. He was afraid that I might be upset by the condition of the car. The body was dented, the passenger floor had major holes from rust, as did the battery case. No lights worked. The brakes were built from hopes and wishes.

But I knew, that for a British car, this ranked as “average”. Henry had already dropped in a new engine and rebuilt the front suspension. These were the money jobs. The rest I could do.

And so far I have. Older cars are very easy to work on compared to modern cars. The systems are simple, parts are pretty cheap, so long as it isn’t a true classic. Tearing into this car and rebuilding some worn out system doesn’t feel like work.

It feels like home.

Anyone who has the misfortune to spend much time around me knows that I have a pretty serious obsession with health.

Not just in an abstract fusion either, but I like to drill into what can practically be done to impact weight, longevity, quality of life, disease, all that crap. I’m not terribly big on so much of the “hey, heres some abstract concept on this obscure part of diet, but there’s nothing you can do about it” type research that seems popular. I like to focus on what we can do.

I just finished reading “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease” By Dr. Robert Lustig, who if you don’t know is famous for his “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” Lecture on Youtube. This is a great resource on the biochemistry and politic side of obesity and the impacts of Metabolic Disorder.

I Have also been thumbing through “Testing Treatments: Better Research for Better Healthcare ” Which has a great discussion on how clinical trials are generally mishandled, and “Death by Prescription: The Shocking Truth Behind an Overmedicated Nation” Which gives a lot of data on taking personal action in your use of prescription drugs.

Much of this is interesting by itself.

I also read training data for my health on Strongfirst, Dietary information at Mark’s Daily Apple and Whole 9 Life, And countless other sites.

I started caring about this because I hit a point in my personal life where I was tired of being fat. As a typical obsessive-compulsive nerd, I was drawn in as I dug deeper. Americans (followed by the rest of the world) live longer lives now. But the quality of those years has declined. We have had was was once the last five years of our life lived with “significant” quality impairments increased to the last “twenty” years of our lives. See the rise in those fucking scooters for the mobility impact.

Alzheimer’s and cognitive issues are on the rise. Cancer is on the rise. Fuck, the lack of fitness in Americans has impacted the military recruitment, and is becoming a National Security issue. Fuck, can we start taking this seriously yet?

I have some deep opinions on the best way to do things, but that’s no longer even the point. How about we simply stop doing the worst fucking things possible?

Eat less than 130 pounds of sugar per year.

Safe levels of sugar were once calculated back when the average was 40 pounds per person per year. now we eat 130. If you want to know why this is an issue war Dr. Lustig’s video above. Or of you think that only calories are the issue then just imagine the calories (hint: at this amount, the calories are overwhelmed but the impact on insulin and your liver)

Actually, I can stop advice right there. Just sugar alone is probably the worst of the worst of the worst. Just fixing that in anyone’s diet (stop drinking sodas and fruit juice, quit foods with added sugar, etc) would make a big impact.

Then, get off your ass and do something. Anything. (but not jogging, that shit’s useless) Do 50 pushups each day. Take the whole day, I don’t fucking care. do it. Add 20 sit-ups. get two empty gallon milk containers, fill them with water, and duck-tape them closed. carry one in each hand and walk around the block.

If all that’s too easy, go buy some Kettlebells. Show up at my house and I will personally show you how to use them. Lift more heavy shit.

Personally, I chose to do a lot more. I still eat a paleo diet, and have barbells, kettlebells, and bodyweight workouts that I mix. But not everyone needs to be as insane as me to make a difference. Just. Do. Something.
Photo 5

Goddammit. I have a deadline… and I can do deadlines.

I have set myself a new goal this year of writing up an article on my Blog by each Friday. I haven’t gotten that down yet, but I’m doing much better than last year.

When I started writing, I felt that blogs were really useless, and pretty much a huge waste of time. I was right of course, but that doesn’t stop me from writing. For the most part I have been discouraged in the past from writing partially by the really crappy writing of others. Most people are really terrible writers, or at best just mostly pointless.

But that’s not really relevant. Despite the anti-motivation that a lot of folk offer, I have seen some really fine writers out there, and more importantly, I have seen in myself the impact of writing, even when it is largely about nothing. Being forced to sit down and collect thoughts about anything is a great exercise.

I have felt the benefits of this at work, where I need to write for business, and getting some warmup on the weekends or other random points really helps the mental focus when I need it.

Also I have purchased myself a new Kindle recently as a birthday present (from me to me). I have to admit that the “ereader” and “epaper” or whatever they call it is impressive, and I can read much faster on a Kindle than in normal books. Being able to carry a stack of books around doesn’t suck either. It has been another motivation to write as well. Good reading begets good writing.

I have several deeper writing projects that I simply haven’t had time to work on, but really need to take time to flesh out deeper once I get the chance. I’m starting to think that I should just hammer something out from one of my list of ideas, if for no other purpose than to get a stake in the ground to improve on for other projects.

Perhaps a collection of blog postings…

I have a bookshelf with several of my favorite authors. When I was more more organized, the top two shelves were dedicated to two writers exclusively. Hunter Thompson and Douglas Adams.

I have spent some time in collecting everything that they have written, at least within reason, as some books and editions are redundant or impossible to find. But for the most part, I have a complete collection. And now I fear it.

When you truly enjoy a great writer, you can just burrow through their pages, absorbing the words and prose, and burst out the other side of the book with a sweaty glow, soaking in the the feelings and emotions of the writing. Great works you can read over and over, but nothing replaces the thrill of picking up the next work. And I can now look at my shelf and not only see the next work, but the last work.

I have unread books from both Hunter and Douglas. And I will read them, but not yet. I have gone over the covers several times, feeling the spines, then sliding the books back into the gaps they leave in the shelf. Pulling one open and starting at the first page is carefully planned. These are influential works to me, even when they are just scribbled rantings, because there will be no more.

I met Douglas Adams when I had just graduated high school. He came to Seattle to the University Book Store for a book signing. I was thrilled to learn this, and was there right of the bat with my copies of hitchhikers guide to sign. Once I got to the front of the line, I had no idea what to say. I had been reading his books since Elementary school, and I didn’t know what to ask.

So I asked him one of the stock questions he always got, about getting the idea for the books lying in a field. I knew the answer, but hearing it from Douglas was worth it. He was my height, well over 6 feet, looking me in the eye. And he was sincere and happy to answer even the most basic question from one of his fans. I never forgot that moment.

I only read Hunter after becoming trapped in Las Vegas after Chuck’s wedding. We flew down on stand-by tickets into Las vegas, and by accident, the wedding was during March Madness. The wedding itself was fantastic, but Vegas was a zoo. By the last day of the long weekend we were ready to leave. But with stand by tickets, there was no space. So we waited another day. Nothing.

Yulia and I were trapped in Vegas with our daughter, and the estimate was that it would be at least 3 to 5 days before a clear flight would let us out.

At that point, I had The Fear.

To escape out of our desert gulag I worked a scheme with a car rental company, three airports, and getting put on the Terrorist Watch List that had us driving from Las Vegas to Seattle via San Francisco.

I knew of the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and after that experience, bought it to relate to what just happened to us. I was immediately struck by the writing, and never looked back. I read The Curse of Lono just before our last trip to Hawaii, and have the rest of Hunter’s books on the shelf.

Both Douglas’s humor and Hunter’s brutality influence my writing today. I love peeking into what they have written, but am not sure that I want to hit the end just yet.

Perhaps, once my writing us matured, it will be what fills that gap for me. The same way their own writing filled the gap from their literary heroes.

I’m not there yet. But each time I pull another book off that shelf, just a bit remains in me afterwards, and lives in on in my eyes and fingers. And is inflicted upon you.

This is my first test of the blogging software on my new hackintosh Dell 9 Mini. So far it works pretty sweet. It has one of those 80% sized keyboards, but since I don;t touch type, that doesn’t matter too much, although a few of the keys are in the wrong place. But everything else works great.

2 gigs ram, 16 Gig SSD drive, wireless, and the screen is really bright. I have been looking for a better travel and blogging laptop than the old toshibas that I was using. I do wish that Microsoft would make Live Writer for the Mac, it is a great blogging writer, but MarsEdit is pretty dang good.

It has flickr integration now, as soon as I remember my login for flickr I should try it out. Built-in webcam works great, as do the mic and speakers. Haven’t tried the SD reader, but it is supposed to be fully supported.

Overall, pretty cool for under $200 on ebay.

One of the things that I knew would happen when we purchased a boat was that my father-in-law would get excited. He likes to fish. Loves it, in fact. So he was thrilled to hear that we would be able to fish together. Just one catch – they live in Moscow, Russia.

And he’s afraid to fly.

Well, the fish got the better of him, and they are on their way. Arriving this Saturday, in fact, and that meant I needed to finish up the spring cleaning and tuneup.

Mind you, I haven’t tuned an engine since high school, and this boat is new to me, so it was a bit of an adventure. Swapping out the plugs and points wasn’t too bad. Cap and rotor were easy, as was the condenser. Plug wires are simple, so all that is left is adjusting the timing.

Naturally, the batteries are dead. Fine. I fire up the charger and wait overnight. No dice. two days later still no dice, the batteries are finished. I am lucky that there is a sale right now, and I only need to replace ALL FOUR!

Getting the batteries is easy, but removing the old ones is insane. I’m pretty tall, and the engine room is pretty small. Figuring out how to get four batteries out, without spilling acid on myself, then getting four back in, and reconnecting everything took just four quick hours.

Once in place, the engines fired up nicely. I had painted the timing stud white, so it shone under the strobe lamp. The tuned engine was only a little off, and once dialed in, sounded fantastic.

Now I just have to convince my father in law not to bring his poles and hooks as carry-on items.

One of the things that is so great about working with the Bikini Football stuff, and TWBFL in general (especially now that they recruited me to work on the web site) is that I never have to worry about having something to do. Getting my free time swamped with work might be a bummer, but since it largely involves hanging out with hot models in tank tops and bikinis, I think I will manage.

Yesterday’s project was the TWBFL Pro Shop. Looking at the site, the store that was currently setup made little sense, So I got the OK, and started setting up a Cafepress storefront to do basic shirts and stuff. I figured it would take an hour or two.

Five hours later, after chasing down all the Photoshop files, cleaning them up into hi-res PNG format, adding a "TM" to the corner, setting up all the products, sections, and that, I was done. Gah.

Just in time to head downtown to do some photography.

Yulia was leading the group in a dance thing at the Last Supper club, so they had a practice to start, and I got some photos of them doing just that. Sasha was running music for the practice, and the girls looked really good. We finished everything by around 10:00pm, and Sasha and I headed home, while the girls headed to the club to do the "Meet and Greet".

At least I’m not bored. :)