Monday, November 29, 2010


I am now 25 years old... yeesh.

What has happened in the last few days? Well, I had work Wednesday but I left just before lunch because I was tired of being there. Instead of staying, I took a half-day vacation to precede our holiday break. It turned out to be a good choice, as the extra half day felt like a whole day and made my break feel much longer.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and I drove to my cousin's new house in San Antonio to spend time with the family. His new house is nice, and I had a good time there. We ate a lot of food, and cake in celebration of my birthday. Football did not go well, however, as the Cowboys and Longhorns both lost stupid games.

Friday was my birthday, and it was pretty eventful. We jammed for a couple hours earlier in the afternoon, and then people started coming over for our "friends" version of Thanksgiving (since we were all busy with family on Thursday). We played some touch football outside for maybe 30 minutes worth, but I still had a good hour in me. I really like playing football. Unfortunately, other people didn't share my enthusiasm, so we went back inside. The food was all delicious, with people bringing various things, and the remainder of the night was filled with games, chatting, and drinking.

On Saturday, Taylor came back so we spent most of the day hanging out. We watched Social Network and caught up on our various TV shows. It was a nice, relaxing day.

I was in the mood to be out and about Sunday, so we went to Fry's, Academy, and the mall. I didn't end up getting anything from Fry's, but I found some "cheap" 30lb adjustable dumbbells at Academy, so I bought two ($50 each). $100 might sound expensive for two dumbbells, but it's actually a decent deal. They're adjustable, so that means that with a slider I can adjust each dumbbell from 5-30lbs in 2.5 lb increments. That means I don't take up a bunch of space with many different dumbbells. Furthermore, if you were to buy individual dumbbells, they cost on average about $1/lb. That means if I wanted to buy a pair of 15's, 20's, 25's, and 30's, that would cost 15+15+20+20+25+25+30+30 = 180 dollars. So I'm saving money and space! They are far from great quality, but they're good enough quality to get the job done. Similar dumbbells are on sale on Amazon for $150-300!

This dumbbell purchase is obviously for P90X. I don't remember if I mentioned before, but the dumbbells and weights I pulled from Travis's storage unit aren't going to get the job done. They're adjustable, but in the manual sense. You have to unscrew the clamps on each side, pull the plates, put new plates on, then screw the clamps back on — for both. Adding 1 minute in between many 30 second routines in P90X is aggravating and slows you down considerably.

At any rate, P90X is still ongoing and I haven't given up yet. I am on day 10 today, and so far I have no desire to quit. It's hard, but not too hard. It's challenging, but not too challenging. Dare I say I'm already seeing some improvement? I've started week 2, and my results have increased from week 1. That's not all that surprising, however. When you first start something like this, I expect that you would see gains pretty easily at first, but the trick is to keep improving without plateauing. We'll see where I am on day 91 when I do my fit test again!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

almost there...

One more day of work and then I'm on Thanksgiving break! It's only 4 days, although I'm hoping it'll feel longer. Today is going to be a slow day at work, so I'm starting my day off with this blog entry...

Not much else has been going on, unfortunately. The past weekend I spent mostly with Taylor because she left Monday to go home for the week.

Justin, Andy, and I are working on a cover of "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys, and we're going to record a video of us playing it. I'm going to post it up here on my blog to share. Hopefully we'll have that done by the end of next weekend. Justin's on guitar, Andy's on bass (and our sound tech, and our audio engineer), and I'm going to attempt to rock the drums and vocals at the same time. You're in for a treat (sarcasm).

Otherwise, I've been continuing on with P90X. I've finished day 3 and 4.

Day 3 was Shoulders/Arms, and Ab Ripper. There were 12 shoulder/arm exercises, which you repeat in groups of 3 (1-2-3, 1-2-3, 4-5-6, 4-5-6, etc). I need to get actual dumbbells for these. I have Travis's weights, which are the weight plates that you can slide on and off the dumbbell to adjust the weight you need. However, when moving quickly with P90X, it becomes really hard to slide them on and off in a timely manner. Instead I had to find a weight that worked more or less for every exercise, and just kept the dumbbells at that.

Day 4 was Yoga X. Man, that was different. I had never done any yoga before, and the P90X version was pretty intense for a yoga workout (at least I'd assume). The first 45 minutes you're doing a lot of twisting  and lunge positions (burns your legs a lot), then you do about 20-25 mins of balancing positions, another 20-25 mins of floor work, then end with 15-20 mins of stretching positions and ab work. All in all, it's about 90 minutes long, but I had to skip the last 8 mins and go straight to the cool down because I was getting really hungry and fatigued.

Here are some of the crazier positions I attempted (some semi-successfully, some not so much):

Twisting Half Moon

Right-angle pose + grab

Crane (balancing position)

You're holding this position for 30 seconds... yeah right

Overall, I actually enjoyed it. It was challenging and I can tell that it will help my balance and flexibility. It's pretty repetitive in the beginning but they're also kind of hard so it's good to get a few chances at things.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

p90x day 2

Plyometrics? Piece of cake!

Okay, not really, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm too tired to go into details though, but it was a lot of jumping and squatting exercises, which burn. At the same time, your heart rate is high most of the time, too, so you're working up a good sweat.

The whole thing was about 58 mins including 5 mins of warmup and 5 mins of cooldown. I did pretty much all of the exercises, but I skipped the ones that involved doing 180 degree jumps because they were making me dizzy. I opted instead to take 30 second breaks or continued to run in place during those 4-ish exercises. There were also a few "bonus" exercises at the end which I skipped, but I think I'll have the stamina to do those next time. Excluding the bonus exercises, there are 20 exercises that you repeat in sets of 4. For instance, you would do exercise 1-4, then repeat 1-4, then continue doing 5-8, repeat those, etc.


88 days to go...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

p90x fitness test + day 1

Even the fitness test was rough! Although, the fact I had a huge bowl of pasta only 30 mins prior probably didn't help. I'm really stupid sometimes.

Before day 1, here are my results:

Resting heart rate: 72
Pull-ups: 5
Vertical leap: 23"
Push-ups: 35
Toe Touch: -2.5" (I'm 2.5" away from touching my toes)
Wall Squat: 1' 27"
Bicep curls: 14
Ab test: 36 in-outs

Heart rate test (1.5 mins of jumping jacks, then 30 seconds of jumping jacks as fast as you can):
Immediately after: 142
1 min after: 126
2 mins after: 112
3 mins after: 106
4 mins after: 106

And Day 1 begins... Chest and Back.

Chest and back is structured as 12 exercises that you repeat in two rounds, over about 50 minutes excluding warm-ups. I got through the first round, and I was noticeably having to push myself through the second round. I got through almost all of it, having to bail on the last 3 exercises because I was physically fatigued and thought if I pushed myself any harder I might risk throwing up. Whoopee!

It was rough, but I did better than I thought I would. 21 out of 24 exercises on the first day! I used a stool to assist my pull-ups, which allowed me to do more and push myself better (the stool was essentially spotting me). I need to increase the weight on the dumbbells though, but I have to run by Travis's storage unit to pick up more of the plates.

My weakness is cardio - once my heart rate gets up I don't feel very good. On strength training days, such as today, you do a 15 min "Ab Ribber X" workout as well. I had to take quite a few breathers and it was truly ripping up my abs, but I didn't feel as gross as I did for chest and back. Maybe because my endorphins kicked in, or maybe because my heart rate wasn't up as high. Who knows. Despite it being ridiculous, I enjoyed the ab exercises.

Day 2, tomorrow, will be Plyometrics, and I heard this is one of the hardest, most vomit-inducing ones because it's a lot of high-impact movements. The key though is to push yourself hard, but not too hard. I expect that at some point through these 90 days, I will be very close to puking. I don't think it's a bad thing necessarily, although I prefer not to do it. It just shows that I'm truly pushing myself hard and I'll hopefully see the rewards by the end.

I don't foresee updating you guys every day for all 90 days, but I'll probably write up everytime I do a specific routine for the first time. I'll also periodically update you on how things are going, and if I'm continuing onward or giving up.

89 days to go!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TSA and you

For those of you who check out my links to the left, you may have noticed a trend lately - the TSA. I am not a fan of the direction the TSA has taken since its inception in 2001. In fact, that's an interesting tidbit for those who have forgotten. The TSA has been around for less than 10 years. It was created as a division of Homeland Security after 9/11. What about before then? Private security companies were contracted for each airport, and I think that's how it needs to be once again.

First, let's take a look at what TSA has become: an overreaching, privacy-invading security theater for airports. Now, that's of course just my opinion, but I have yet to be convinced otherwise. I think every additional security step they have introduced has been simply reactionary, and they have little imagination and foresight to prevent future attacks. In fact, its creation was reactionary. We had the tragic 9/11 attacks, so we created the TSA because we thought it would help. We had the shoe bomber, so we started taking off our shoes. We had some liquid scare, so now we can't have more than 3oz of any liquid. Now we have this underwear bomber guy, so they escalated their roll-outs of the full-body scanners. At one point, however, have they actually prevented a major incident? None that I can recall, although I could be mistaken. All of those potential attacks went completely by the TSA. Imagine that.

Before 2001, I am fairly certain that we were targets of terrorists. In fact, to my recollection there have been extremists out there who have hated us since the mid-1900's when we screwed up that whole Israel-Palestine thing. Yet, we still somehow got by. Since 9/11, we (the U.S. Government) have been infused with fear, and that fear has driven us to points that I deem unacceptable.

The sad truth is that if a terrorist wants to wreak havoc, they will find a way to do it. Not to instill fear in anyone, but we could all be sitting at our jobs and a suicide bomber could just come in and blow us all up. There are some harsh realities out there, and one of them is that we could die at any moment. But it doesn't even have to be from a terrorist attack. It could be from a car accident, natural causes, or anything really. Think about the New York subways for a moment. There are thousands of people who ride the subways every day, and yet we don't have crazy security restrictions involved there. Metro buses? Trains? Ferries? What makes an airport and an airplane any different?

Now I'm not saying we shouldn't have any security, nor should we just abolish the screening process altogether. However, I just don't think TSA helps and it's been pretty evident so far. Now they are starting to cross lines. Not only are they inefficient and ineffectual, but they continue to impose stricter security on us simply to appear as if they are actually doing something. At some point, we as a people have to push back. "Pushing back" is one of the foundations of this country (think the American Revolution), lest we forget. At what point do you draw the line for a "security theater"?

So what is the TSA doing these days? Full-body scans and invasive pat-downs. Those are your two options in most airports if you don't get the trusty metal detector. You have two choices for the body scan: x-ray and radio-wave/millimeter-wave. The former has some people questioning the legitimacy of their safety claims. These type of x-ray full-body scanners are still in their infancies as far as I'm concerned, and we really have no way of knowing long-term effects and potential cancer risks. The radio-wave or millimeter-wave scanners are apparently safer, according to the previously linked article. Is it actually dangerous? Hell if I know, but to me, it's not worth the risk. It might be worth the risk if I thought that we as a society actually valued the full body scanner. When we get radiation at a hospital via x-rays or treatment, we are doing it because the benefits outweigh the risks. I want to see if my bone is broken. I don't get shit from being scanned at the airport.

If you've read this far into my blog, then you have the patience to read this very interesting piece on how they handle security at the Israel airport. They profile people, have behavioral specialists everywhere, and only scan belongings as a backup. They don't look for weapons, they look for people. It's a method that actually makes sense, but I admit that at this point, setting up a system like that in the U.S. would be very costly. Then again, I wonder how much money we're draining into this piece of shit we call the TSA.

Also, did you guys know that airports can opt-out of the TSA and go back to privatized companies now? They only had to use the TSA for 2 years after its formation, apparently. A representative has already started contacting airports to let them know about this clause in the original bill.

Here are a few more views on the TSA:
-Full Frontal Nudity Doesn’t Make Us Safer: Abolish the TSA
-Has Airport Security Gone Too Far?
-TSA screenings: Government stupidity at work

I'm not one to really take up causes, but I think we're at a crucial point in our society. I know some people simply don't care and will do whatever, but that doesn't make what they're doing right. Apathy does not breed anything good. The TSA has no qualms to continue to violate our privacies for the sake of "security" and eventually it'll be on us to tell them we've had enough. They have no concept otherwise. In fact, they seem to have no problem harassing 3-year-olds.

I'm curious if you guys have an opinion on this. Am I just going overboard here? In the mean time, you can count on me to opt-out of the scanners. Yes, I'll have to deal with getting violated with a pair of hands, but at least I know for certain that there won't be any adverse side-effects.

Monday, November 15, 2010

seattle recap, and...*gasp*... p90x?

Hey everyone, back from Seattle!

First, I'd like to thank Justin, Andy, and Marisa for chiming in for my last blog post regarding finances. I appreciate you taking the time! That's the beauty of finances — there really isn't any "right" or "wrong" way for anyone, and everyone's mileage is sure to vary.

Well, I'm back from Seattle and I suppose I owe you some recap. Most of it was site-seeing so I probably won't go into too much detail, but rather give you a nice overview. Pictures will be posted on Facebook later, mostly because I'm too lazy to upload them right now.

We arrived Thursday night and Travis dropped us off at our hotel. That was about all Thursday entailed. Friday morning we got ready and and walked around downtown some, including the Space Needle. When I say we walked, I mean it. For the majority of our stay in Seattle, we walked everywhere. It was a lot of walking, and it might have been more than we walked in New York, solely because we didn't use any mass transportation.

At any rate, we walked down to the court house to meet up with Travis for lunch, and we ate at a nice seafood joint (this will be repeating theme). After lunch, we went to the top of the Columbia Tower, which has a really great view, being the tallest building in Seattle. Next we went back to Travis's court house where he gave us a grand tour, and we met Judge Richard C. Tallman, a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. Needless to say, I was very humbled shaking the hand of a man who, in my opinion, is very important.

We left Travis to wrap up his day at the court house, and went on to Pike's Market. It's a very cool market with tons of fish and other shops. To compare it to something in Austin (albeit with some futility), it would be a combination of the South Congress shops/booths, and the Whole Foods fruits/veggies/butcher sections. Their produce selection was what I was hoping to see when I went to the Austin Farmer's Market downtown, but frankly the selection was rather underwhelming, especially compared to Pike's Market. As any first timer should, we went to the first Starbuck's location and got some coffee and souvenirs.

Later, we met up with Travis again for dinner, and ate more seafood. Taylor and I were incredibly exhausted and could not stay out very late, due in combination to the time change, endless walking, and an early morning.

Saturday morning we went on the Underground Tour, which was pretty cool, funny, and entertaining. Our guide was hilarious. Apparently, when Seattle was first constructed, they did a very poor job because they didn't take account the hills and the impact they would make. They decided they needed to relevel the ground to even it all out, but they couldn't just shut down the businesses for years while they did this. Instead, the businesses continued, and the streets and land around them were slowly raised. This resulted in the first floors and sidewalks of businesses becoming underground basements and walkways, while the rest of the land around them became the new "first floor." Very strange.

Next we hit up the ferry to Bainbridge, mostly for the ferry ride and the views. Once we got back to Seattle from our round trip, we went to a Texas bar and watched our pathetic football game. After that shit-tastic "competition" we hit up yet another seafood place, and I had a delicious, thick-cut salmon fillet. Another early night due to exhaustion (early being 10 PST).

Today was mostly a travel day, but we did have time to hit up the EMP/SFM, which is a music/sci-fi museum. It was pretty cool, and they had a Battlestar Galactica exhibit setup right now which was also cool to see. Before Travis dropped us off at the airport, we had lunch at some Thai/Pho place. It was good.

That about wraps up my trip, and despite this entry being long enough already, I have another topic to share.

This will be the first of hopefully some future P90X blog updates. Well, for starters, if you don't know what P90X is, check out this link. In a nutshell, it's an intense 90 day workout that combines cardio, strength training, plyometrics, and yoga. There is only 1 optional day an entire week, so I will be working out for about an hour almost every day for that time period. Yes, this sounds terrible, doesn't it?

Why the hell do I want to do P90X? I don't even really know. Nah, just kidding, I do know. More than anything, I want to challenge myself and my willpower to see if I can take on something like this. It takes a heavy commitment to work out almost everyday for an hour for 90 or so days. I want to challenge myself to see if I can meet that commitment if I really put my mind to it. And, if I do manage to last, I will be very proud of myself. Hell, to be honest, I'll be proud if I even make it half way, but half way is still quitting and I won't have achieved my goal. All or nothing!

Where did this come from? Well, recently I was talking to Andy about his friend Matt, who has been bulking up for body building competitions or what not (I don't remember the specifics). I remember saying something like, "Man, he must have some will power/commitment, there is no way I could do that." Saying that displeased me. I want to be able to commit to something like this if I really wanted. I don't expect to bulk up from P90X, however, and it's not designed for that (just increased physical fitness). But Matt's accomplishment(s) has spurred me to do something of my own.

So now I'm challenging myself and letting everyone know. That way, if I decide I want to quit, I won't be the only one who knows I've quit — so will all of you. And I don't want to let you guys down, right? I've ordered a couple more things I need to begin (pull-up bar, exercise mat), and those should arrive Wednesday. Sometime in the next week I will begin day 1, and I will periodically keep you guys updated. I'm also going to blog about it just so I have a personal record of my progress, too. If you don't care about the P90X updates, feel free to skip them.

Wish me luck guys, I think I'm going to need it.

edit: I encourage all of you to leave me a comment with your guess on how many days I will last. 1? 5? 30? All 90? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Last Friday was my two year anniversary with Taylor, and we went to Uchi to celebrate. It was delicious as expected.

The rest of the weekend was filled with hanging out and sports. The hanging out part was good. The sports part was very, very bad. Both the Longhorns and the Cowboys embarrassed themselves for the umpteenth weekend in a row. Sigh...

[this portion was written Monday night]
I have three presentations tomorrow which will wrap up most of my duties for this charity campaign. I'm less nervous than I was about the leadership presentation, but there will be many more people at these presentations. I'm going to prep for the presentation tonight and tomorrow morning, and we'll just see how it goes. I have a presentation at 9:30, 10:30, and 5:00. What sucks is that usually when you make a presentation, you're relieved and done. In my case, I have to make it again two more times. I'm sure it'll be much easier each subsequent time, though.

[this portion was written Wednesday]
Well I'm done with the presentations and they all went well - except for attendance. Not sure what happened this year, but I only talked to about 60 people total across the three meetings. Oh well, it's still an accomplishment, just not as big as I was hoping.

I need some financial advice from my readers. I am almost done with my car payments, and I have two options for what to do with the extra money: put it toward my student loans, or my savings. The typical financial advice that you would receive is to put it toward your loans because of the interest rates. My savings account has an APY of 3%, whereas my student loans have an average rate of about 4.5%. However, I'm hoping to have a solid enough chunk of money saved up in the next one to two years such that I can make a down payment for a house and afford all the necessities involved. I would like to put the extra money all toward my savings, in order to boost that account. Of course, the smart compromise would be to split it up - maybe half and half? All I know is that if I put it all toward my loans, my savings account won't be able to grow as much and I won't be as financially ready in the future for a commitment such as a house.

I wish I knew some financial experts.

Tomorrow I leave for Seattle with the always-beautiful Taylor Yowell. We're going there in part to celebrate our anniversary, but also to visit a good friend who left us for Seattle a couple months ago — Travis, of course. Should be a fun weekend, and relaxing if nothing else. I need the break.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two years!

It's our two year anniversary today. We're going to Uchi tonight. It's gonna be a good day.

The love is strong

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Today was a fun day for me. As part of my community fund coordinating duties, I had to give a presentation to our leadership today, or at least to those who had time and weren't out on travel.

I was a bit nervous about it this morning, but after a few dry runs I was good to go. The nervousness subsided and I gave a pretty good presentation, and I even got some praise afterwards.

I don't normally like to brag about my accomplishments, but I am particularly proud of this one. It's also an important part of growing as an individual, and trying to take on things outside of your comfort zone.

My duties are not quite over, though. I have two more presentations to give next week (duplicate presentations to different groups of people). These presentations will be for the general masses at work, and while they'll be larger scale in terms of audience size, I think it will be an easier presentation overall.

Once I'm done with that (next Tuesday), I only have another day of work and then I leave for Seattle with Taylor for the weekend!