Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The making of an action hero, Mixed results

            Preparing to confront the villain of the week is getting easier.  Eating well, not so much.  I’m not sure how Bat man does it.

            The gym is a set part of my routine.  The instructor for my boxing class and the people at the front desk know me by name.  There are a couple people who make a point of saying high.  It’s much like riding the bus—after a while you form a location specific bond if you see people often enough.  Sunday I hit upper body and cardio.  I’m finally getting full use from my left knee—so it looks like it’s back to full power again.  Squish and I have been working off joint and back issues for the last two months.  It was nice to finally feel whole.  I’ve got enough practice in that I can hit the boxing room twice a week—once on Tuesdays with class and once on Thursdays after my clubs.  It’s taken a while to get my hands and shoulders to a point where I can box regularly.  Even with one pound training gloves and heavy padded bags, the repetitive impacts take their toll. I know longer have pain in my right hand if I box more than an hour a week.   My knuckles are slightly flattened.  They align so that I can get my weight into hooks and punches.  I always thought people were talking figuratively when they said boxers got sunken knuckles.  Apparently those stories were more literal than I realized.
Yesterday I had my best bag session in recent memory.  I paced myself with short breaks throughout the class and ended up working with more overall intensity and endurance than I’ve had in a while.  I spend the class at a single heavy bag that is lowered to touch the floor in order to keep it from moving around too much.  The rest of the class moves with partners from station to station.  It’s easier for me just to stay in one place than to try and figure out where the next station is and what the next exercise will be.  Of course that means I don’t have a partner to switch off with.  I started off trying to go 100% on my own for the entire hour.  Half way through I was mostly done unable to really push myself.  By pacing my efforts I managed to actually do more.  I like the earthy simplicity of the boxing room.  It is very no-frills, just moving weights and punching things and cardio.  The atmosphere reminds me of my high school wrestling room.  The people there aren’t there for show; they’re in there to do serious work. 
            My employer is sponsoring an 8 week fitness challenge where we track our steps and exercise.  It motivated me to finally get the fit bit zip I earned last year up and running.  I’m not sold on these pedometers—especially since the new iWatch is coming out soon.  It seems to me that this dedicated technology is going to be quickly superseded by phones and other wearable tech.  Also, I’ve seen some strong arguments that their measurements are unreliable.  That being said, I figure it’s a place to start.  If the zip is unreliable at least I can get a consistent measurement to compare day to day.  I’d rather upgrade to the fit bit flex.  The flex is a bracelet that you never have to remove.  The zip is a little key-fob-like device that you carry around with you.  If you forget to put it in your pocket you lose that time.  I’m going to use the bit I already have and see how I like the tiny master before I drop cash on its replacement.  Next on my list is grabbing the aria wireless scale so that my phone can keep me honest re-weight.  It’s like having a bunch of secret agent tech monitoring your every move.  I linked my fit bit account and my work tracking group.  Now there’s no need for me to do the annoying tracking of steps and exercise—the unit does it for me. 
            Sooooooo, weight.  Yeh…so I’ve been holding steady just under 300.  This is good in that I haven’t gained weight during my injury recovery.  This is bad in that while I’m stronger, I haven’t seen any progress on weight in about 8 months—which was when I stopped gaining and just flattened out under 300.  I am seeing steady strength gains—I am benching 175 and military 105 in three sets of ten which is up from last cycle.  My endurance and speed are up.  I’m noticeably stronger on the heavy bag.  I’m down to a size 48 jeans—which was one of those long ago goals to start wearing normal sizes again.  Granted, it’s almost the biggest size rangler makes, but it’s a good start.
            The catch is that my diet hasn’t done so well.  I’m still not ordering or eating at the cafĂ© much.  We cook often.  However, I’ve gotten out of the habit of morning health shakes.  I snack more than I’d like when I’m at home.  Worst of all, the meals that were interesting back when I started training have become dull.  It’s much easier to fudge the diet when you’re not interested in the available options…or maybe it would be more accurate to say that my preferences have begun to run to the options that used to be the treats and exceptions.  The brunette recently gifted me with two spicy cookbooks which are going to serve as the fulcrum for moving the diet along in this regard.  I have new cooking gear from the pampered chef…I need new dishes to keep things spicy.
            Monday I grilled marinated steak strips, made Mexican rice, diced veggies, and assembled a dressing from light sour cream and salsa. The marinade was a head of cilantro, a couple table spoons of minced garlic, black pepper, and half a cup of sweet bourbon sauce.  I could have made this healthier by cutting out the cheese (which didn’t really do that much for the flavor anyway.)  I could have used brown or basmati rice instead of the boxed mix and just added my tomatoes and chilies.  I want to start thinking along these lines more often—not how can I eat something different that’s healthier, but how can I make the dish that I want to eat better for me?  I’ve already done that with burgers a couple times mixing lean ground beef and lean ground turkey for a burger which my father says is better than beef anyway.  I don’t want to find a better way to eat junk food.  I do want to find a healthy way to expand our menu that keeps life interesting.  Offhand that’ll mean reducing pre-packaged elements I use as much as is cost effective.  I’ll start adding these recipes to my entries going forward.  Hopefully others can add to and offer suggestions about these ideas.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Each spring the brunette and I set aside money from our return for personal projects. Consequently, tax season forces me to examine the “stuff” on my to-do list.

One of my 2015 goals is to close out projects. Some of these include finishing the man cave, upgrading certain firearms, working on our preparedness gear, finishing up my warmachine model selection, working on my EDC gear, cleaning out unwanted firearms, building a reloading set up, clearing out old games, and generally getting “stuff” down to a manageable level. So I’ve been busy.

A couple weeks ago Squish drove me out to Duffy’s where I dropped off my 10/22 takedown for smithing. Part of my return went to a Kidd custom trigger which was the final component of my modular takedown build. While I was there I sold my Colt 1903. It suffered its first strike when it started rusting after only a week in the safe. The second strike came when the rear sight fell off. The final strike came when I started consolidating calibers and platforms—mainly focusing on the 1911 for magazine fed pistols. So it’s out. I miss the little pocket hammerless in the way you miss anything once loved and now departed. Even so, it’s a relief to not have to worry about refinishing the new rear sight, getting it installed, and finishing up the upgrade process. I got word yesterday that the smithing on the .22 project is done; I just need to get out to Duffy’s to pick up the completed package.

The man cave boasts a role-top desk, new shelving, and functional lighting now. To that, I’m considering adding a full sized project table. Working with firearms and related products means I’m often handling chemicals, large pieces of metal, and lots of “parts.” I could really use a dedicated work surface to keep everything straight. The one I saw at office depot is $500ish—which is a lot of money. I’m caught between the desire to buy something strong and functional and the desire to get something economical that I can live with. It’s a more challenging choice than one might think because as the brunette constantly reminds me I need to make sure this is something I’m not going to switch out in 6 months—Plus, it isn’t like I’m going to have $500 all in one place later if the cheapo route goes South.

That’s a big factor—rarely will I have this much money in one place to complete projects for the rest of the year. That being the case, most of my energy goes toward reviewing miniatures and firearms. Those categories are my most expensive draws by an order of magnitude. Board games, RPGs, and EDC gear can all usually be had for $150 or less—which is within my monthly budget. There are some exceptions—I can always find something more to drop cash on—but those are the big two.

For miniatures, I have a couple more Khador models I’d like to grab to round out my case. Painting and assembly are up in the air sadly. Deathquaker has other personal commitments which limit her capacity. Corc has been working on my legion beasts for months with no end in sight. I don’t expect either of them to be available for additional work any time soon. Blue table is—well—blue table. They handled my original butcher battle group, so I’d love to have them round out my collection with a matching paint job. If I’m going to do that though, I really should wait till Butcher’s character jack comes out. Plus, they never make things easy. Are they worth the investment? I don’t know. Jay is working on my Farrow for the foreseeable future. I’ve already bought the next 2 waves of models for him to work on—so I’m at least six weeks ahead of the game there, probably more like 8. So with minis, I have ideas but no available production capacity unless I want to lay out a sizeable chunk of change and go the btp route—and with how little I’ve been playing lately that just doesn’t feel like a good use of my limited funds. I could buy out the rest of the Farrow models I’m planning on Jay building; but experience has taught me that you don’t want to get too far ahead on the miniature supply wagon. The minute you do, your painter leaves or the game ends or Murphy comes gunning for you.

That leaves me looking at reloading and guns. I’ve taken a crash reloading course over the last 3 months by virtue of the internet and talking to a few friends. What I’ve come up with is that while reloading metallic cartridges is technically possible it’s not practical. There are precise measurements required such as when one trims the case, checks crimp, and measures powder weight. In order to make the process worthwhile I would need to reload in bulk. That would require a lot of help—help that friends might be willing to provide, but for which the asking would take the joy out of the experience. Shotgun reloading looks viable—you don’t have to trim the hulls, loadings are set in stone, and you can measure powder with a scoop. I did the math and I can’t build 00 or 000 buck loadings in 12 gage for less than market value. I can load .410 for a decent discount—which is where I’m looking now. Reloading is a big responsibility; one that I’m not entirely sure I want to get into yet. It’s on the radar as I look to the future.

I spend all year reviewing firearms anticipating tax return season. My choices change depending on new offerings and personal experience. This year I’ve been focused on filling practical gaps in my collection. My current contenders in no particular order:

• 7.62x54r VEPR. This would give me a 10 round magazine designated marksman rifle that fires the same cartridge as my mosin nagant. I’d have a battle rifle in a large plentiful caliber that’s already in my collection.

• Benelli vinci tactical with the upgraded pistol grip stock. I have this thing about semiautomatic shotguns. I just love them. This is one of the easiest fixed magazine versions to clean due to its modular construction. Plus, Benelli rocks.

• A paired set of Ruger single action revolvers in .22lr and a convertible Blackhawk in .45acp/.45lc. This would let me practice with cheap .22 but get relevant practice on a larger caliber frame. It’s really a nice set up for practice/fun and is probably the most cost effective choice long-term.

• A 45-70 Magnum research BFR. This is just a fun purchase in an existing caliber. I do love my big bore revolvers.

My plan is to hold off making any final commitments for a couple weeks till I determine if I’m selling any other items. I’m hoping to sell Duffy’s my Mec Tec carbine upper. With that gone and the possibility that a friend will pick up my .22 bolt action, I will have room in my case, cash on hand, and the time to make the right decision. So it’s back to the drawing table for now.