Alan Arvesen (aarvesen) wrote,
Alan Arvesen

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How to make $13,000

Put $20k into the S & P 500 index in November, 2007. Financial genius here. Good thing I won't be retiring for a few years yet.

I've been trying to make this investment stuff my hobby over the past few years (figured I would replace WoW with dough, you know). I've been somewhat successful at that. I'm starting to realize, though, that I'm in danger of becoming that guy who only talks about this stuff. Which is rather dreadful. Even among guys who I figured would be interested in this stuff (like, folks with MBAs) I start getting these kind of glazed looks and vague, off putting statements like "ah, investments must be nice, we're saving up for XXX".

In my defense, I'll plead that we're having the most exciting and disturbing financial situation in our life times.


Other things to talk about: working out! I've been sticking with my one-day-a-week run pretty well. I aimed to try a schedule of bike-gym-run-rest, so that I'd be running every four days rather than 7 days. The knees don't seem to like that, so I guess I have to load up on the other two. Though it pretty much ends up being, over any one week, 1 day of running, 1 day at the gym, and two bike rides.

I've been kind of undergoing a renaissance in the gym. I managed to blow my back out earlier in the year doing dead lifts + other crap. I decided that deads just aren't for me. Or maybe they could be, but you need to exercise some restraint, and I just can't do that.

I didn't go the gym at all for about three months. When I say "blew out my back", I don't mean my previous "oh snap, my back is sore for a few days" issues. I mean, "oh snap, I can't farking stand or sit or turn or get in and out of the car or lie down or sneeze without excruciating, crippling pain". Sneezing was, indeed, incredibly painful. The doc said that is common. Great.

The physical therapy did the trick for me, but man I was gunshy of the gym.

So I started going again regularly a few months ago. I decided that it was time, finally, at my age, to check the ego at the door and accept lighter weights when I'm doing stuff. I decided to revisit some old standbys and really focus on doing them correctly instead of just moving the weight around. I was also interested in firming up the old backish regions, which include your butt, hip flexors, and other obscure muscle groups.

I used to be very proud of my 300 lb squat, but my form has gone to hell since college. I was nervous about getting back into it due to the back thing. So I thought, hmmm, maybe I'll try some squat variations. And maybe work on some of those exercises that are good "helper" exercises for your squat. What I mean is that guys like the Westside Barbell crew, who are interested in training world record type squats (we're talking more than 1,000 lb here), are big believers in doing weird exercises that help target the smaller muscles that help your squat.

So I sucked up my embarrassment and decided to give some of these new exercises a shot. I have given the front squat a try with the great weight of... just the bar. That means getting into the damn squat rack, putting just the 45lb bar in there, cozying up to it and grabbing on, then backing out and trying to do ten solid, perfect reps with just this skinny bar in front of you. No wheels on either side. Nothing that looks like a strong back squat. No groaning and struggling under the weight of the world like Atlas.

I've never trained like this before. In the front squat, as implied by the name, the bar is in front of your neck and resting on your anterior deltoids, rather than behind your neck across your trapezius muscles like in a normal squat. With just this crappy little bar, I'm watching my knees wobble and shake all over the place as I try to focus on my balance. I'm trying to both keep my elbows high to hold the bar in place and not choke myself with the damn thing. I'm thinking about how straight my back is and how low I can get and how flexible my ankles are. I'm thinking about just moving up and down in a smooth line.

Really, it's something else.

Other humbling exercises have proven to be the walking lunge and something called a "bulgarian split squat". In the BSS, you essentially do a lunge, and the put your back leg up on a box or bench. Then you squat up and down like that. With no added weight (though remember I clock in at 260), I can get 5 - 6 reps per side before my legs have swollen tight with blood and are in extreme duress.

I've been working in an ancient standby, the good morning (which is essentially bowing) and trying to mimic some of the stuff I did in physical therapy. And, through it all, trying to keep up with the back stretches the guys taught me.

I plan on hitting the gym this afternoon (you know, in 26 minutes), so I'm thinking about this stuff now.

Last bit: we heard this song "Wolf Like Me" the other morning at Flipnotics. I've been listening to it over and over on YouTube. TV on the Radio is like David Bowie meets Jesus and Mary Chain. Each song is different, so it makes it a little harder for me to get into. But this song is great. And it's about being, you know, a werewolf.

Okay, last last bit: for the egg head book club, I've skipped ahead to reading Thucydides. May have trouble finishing it in time for the November meeting, but so far so good. In between the mind numbing recitations of whatever tribes are attacking whatever city, there's some real drama in there. Sea battlers where Phorim is cutting apart the Pelopennese, or the plague in Athens, or even the imperiousness of Pericles. Amazing stuff.

First thing out of Pericles mouth, when the Athenians are trying to decide if they should go to war or not:

I have always held to only one principle, and that principle is: no concessions to the Pelopennese.

Oh yeah, it's on.
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