The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dances With Smurfs?

My voice just about went out on me yesterday, which is NOT a good thing when you are starting a phone-based coaching business. Yerch! Any secret home formulas out there?


The 101 board is so emotionally satisfying, watching people changing habits, losing weight, connecting with their hearts. The original plan was to keep it open and free for a limited time, and then to switch to a fee-based structure. I'm not so sure any more. It seems to me that there is a value in simply providing a service to the universe. Being able to watch the process of growth is quite educational. It definitely starts with taking responsibility, and telling the truth. Once those two things happen, it seems that the unconscious mind can finally exert leverage. If there is a large amount of blocked emotion, there HAS to be meditation, journaling, or a circle of friends to vent to. Given those things, and clear defined goals...movement happens. There is stress, and the universe will test you. But growth is a natural, normal state. Stasis is indicative of disease, in my opinion.


"Dexter" ended its fourth season with incredible strength. Just in case people had started relaxing, thinking of Sexy Dexy as a "good" serial killer, just kinda misunderstood, they started the season with him killing the wrong man. Oops. Then he got cocky, and didn't take care of business on John Lithgow, as the "Trinity" killer. And all season, we knew that Lithgow was far more dangerous than Dexter believed. And wow oh wow, were we ever right. I enjoy this show about as much as anything I've ever seen on TV. More than the "Sopranos", that's for sure. About as much as a good season of "24". And by the way, the new season of Jack Bauer starts in about three weeks. I'm moderately optimistic. Last season was terrific, but they may have shot their wad. We'll see.


A state opt-out public option? That would work for me. We'll see what happens to businesses moving around to avoid or take advantage. What will happen to population drift? And the ability to have experiments: does it work? Doesn't it? Would work for me. As would a buy-in for Medicare. What does NOT work for me is for-profit health care having a monopoly. Every single day I'm watching people struggle with being denied care. I've watched them suffer and perhaps even die. I've had enough. I pray that Obama is on this, playing his game behind the scenes, because if this collapses I will be seriously disillusioned. So far, things have clearly gotten further than they have, health-care wise, in about eighty years of trying. The resistance is incredibly, highly organized, and while there are many of good will among them, I consider that much of it is incredibly cynical.


I didn't leave myself off the list of "best bodies in SF" for modesty's sake. It was because, while I am quite happy with the way my body looks, I have never, ever, tried a "bodybuilding" approach to fitness. Never specifically tried to create balanced hypertrophy. Now, even if I had, I don't really have the genetics for some kind of muscle beach body. But what I wanted was a body that feels GOOD when I wake up in the morning, moves well, has high energy and health, no joint ache, and has the capacity for deep recovery. I'm delighted that Tananarive thinks I'm the bee's knees, but beyond that, I don't much care. If you want to build a "bodybuilding" body, you can lift for separate body parts, and rest 60-90 seconds rest between. The truth is that I'm trying a bit of a hybrid approach right now. I had to find Coach Sonnon's "Six Degrees of Freedom" program, which sorts exercises by their movement through the basic twists and torques. Tried the bodyweight version, and liked it: I got sore without getting stiff. Cool! I then took a look at the kettlebell and other exercises that moved through the same ranges. Tried sequencing them, and liked the result. Ah! I was onto something: for the first time in my life, I could get a hypertrophic effect without binding up.

The next step was sequencing it for fitness. I chose a Tabata sequence: twenty seconds of work, ten seconds of rest. Six exercises, one specializing in each range of motion. The last step was concentrating the entire thing on the abdominal region: each exercise had to have a special effect on the core. I figured that radiating out from my core would be the smartest thing I could do. So I've got about twelve minutes of real hell that works the whole body abs-out, and provides basic aerobic fitness as well. Liked the results. And then I started wondering if I couldn't afford to spend just a little time sculpting my body. I mean, don't I deserve, just once in my life, to see how GOOD I can get myself to look...?

So I'm doing something kinda fun. The double kettlebell Clean and Jerk is basically a whole-body exercise. I'm experimenting with five sets of 8-12 with 60 seconds of rest between sets. Takes about seven minutes. Trashes my whole body. There is a modification of this called the "Kettlebell puker" (nice name!) that basically integrates a Burpee with the C&J. It is an awful, awful exercise. Doing push-ups on the KB handles demands a serious engagement of the abdominals. I cannot think of a single muscle it doesn't work, except maybe some of the neck muscles. Everything. So what I have is several options of 15 minute combos that both work everything and don't bind my muscles a lot. My 5 Minute Miracle sessions concentrate on Prasara Yoga and Silat, just a little break to tweak my nervous system.

That's the program: health, then fitness and skill...and then, maybe just maybe, a teensy bit of ego boo. We'll see what happens.


The question of the day is: Who thinks Avatar will rock? Who thinks it's gonna be "Dances With Smurfs"?


Frank said...

What does NOT work for me is for-profit health care having a monopoly.

You are aware that many of the largest health insurers are non-profit, right?

Like, for instance, Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

Travis said...

I think that for visually oriented people (ie, myself) it will rock simply on the basis of the graphics and cinematography. Even if it is "dances w/ Smurfs"

Shady_Grady said...

Lemon tea with honey and ginger ale often works wonders with voice/throat issues.

Steve Perry said...

Southern Comfort, honey, lemon juice ...

The only thing I'm looking for in Avatar is whether or not the love story works. If it does, the rest of it is gravy. "Dances with Smurfs" is plot, and since everybody who pays attention already know this is the story and that the visuals are gonna blow your eyes out, I don't see that as a problem.

We all knew the boat was gonna sink in Titanic, too.

I'm going to see it in 2D first time, though. Looks like there will be plenty to watch that way.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota used premium payments to fund $15 million in employee bonuses, cover $35,000 for a retirement party and pay for other questionable expenses, according to a state audit released Tuesday.

More here.

Of course, "non-profit" is such a flexible phrase ....

AF1 said...

I'll be keeping my eye on you, Steve, as you age.

If the workouts you do keep you fit and energetic into your "Steve Perry years" then I want in too.

You're like my canary in a coal mine as it were.

(and I'm only kidding, Mr. Perry!)

Steven Barnes said...


Steve's just my older brother. I'll be fifty-eight next year. Biggest change is that I have to be more careful with recovery. Yoga becomes more and more important. And Tai Chi, of course, is where old martial artists go to die. I'm looking forward to aging. Should be a fascinating journey. Not that I wouldn't stop it if I could, but since I can't, might as well enjoy the ride.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

That "older brother" thing is useful. This is sort of where Barnes sits in my head -- I don't always agree with him, but he's got 10 years on me and even when you get to middle age, that next 10 years is always a sort of mystery. It's useful geting a read from honest people who've been there.

Frank said...

Dan Moran

"non-profit" is such a flexible phrase

Meanwhile, back at the house:

Representative Charles B. Rangel failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets on his financial disclosure forms for 2002 through 2006, including tens of thousands of dollars in rental income from a Harlem brownstone he sold in 2004, according to records filed this month with the clerk of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Rangel, who is facing investigations by two House subcommittees into his personal finances and fund-raising, filed amended financial disclosure forms on Aug. 12 acknowledging that he had omitted an array of assets, business transactions and sources of income. They include a Merrill Lynch Global account valued between $250,000 and $500,000; tens of thousands of dollars in municipal bonds; and $30,000 to $100,000 in rent from a multifamily brownstone building he owned on West 132nd Street....

The country, and the Government, is in the very best of hands....

Daniel Keys Moran said...

By comparison with George Bush? That's a joke, right?

Anyway, since Democrats now run the country, probably the next thing to do is shut down Medicare. To save it from liberals. Your guys can make the argument first ... except, weirdly, they seem to be casting themselves as the protectors of Medicare, in recent days. Go socialized medicine! (Er ... well, you know what I mean. Socialized medicine that conservatives can look the other way on and pretend isn't socialized medicine, because it's so damned popular ....)

Interestingly, Wellpoint is a part of "Blue Cross Blue Shield." It's for-profit, though ... how strange is that? And by for-profit, I mean their annual profits jumped from 225 million to almost 2.5 BILLION dollars in the space of 8 years.

You can see where a public option on health insurance would look pretty shaky to guy with that much money.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Insurance premiums for families more than doubled during the last decade. Stay the course! Wellpoint is ENTITLED to a 2.5 billion profit. That's the glory of capitalism! Private enterprise! Ayn Rand! Screw the American family!

Well, you know what I mean. I don't really think that the people who run insurance companies should be hung from lampposts across the country, desite the fact that their greed kills tens of thousands of Americans every year.

Or maybe I do.

Marty S said...

Dan: Insurance premiums certainly have more than doubled in the last nine years. Nine years ago when I retired aprox. $450 a month came out of my pension for medical premiums. Now the cost is aprox. $1100 dollars a month or more than half my pension. You would think I would be looking forward to saving a chunk of that by going on medicare and that as a soon to be medicare person, not all that concerned about the health care debate. But, I am concerned because right or wrong I believe that while the health care bill will improve the lot of those who currently have no health care, that in the long run it will reduce the quality of health care for the majority of citizens who do have coverage and in particular for senior citizens. Senior citizens cost about three time as much as the under 65 group on an annual per capita basis. It sense to me that therefore they will pay the highest price in care when the government has to reign in costs

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"I don't really have the genetics for some kind of muscle beach body."

Your observation speaks to issues of "body types" that Marty has raised. Given that humans vary physiologically, we should observe how exercise and diet affects us individually, and select fitness goals accordingly. For instance, I'm speculating that a "Muscle Beach Bod" may be a more realistic objective for me than a "Lean Steve". Regular exercise and a vastly improved diet have greatly improved my fitness and substantially reduced my weight, yet reaching and maintaining leanness has proved consistently challenging. By contrast, muscle growth is easy for me! Acquaintances have often remarked that I have the build of a boxer. I'm toying with taking this the heart, of working to maintain "middle weight" with a mid 30's waist size, while concentrating on bulking up instead of further shrinkage. Instead of striving for a Hunter-Gather bod, perhaps that of a Ancient Warrior is more suited to my physiology.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts on tailoring fitness to one's individual physique.

Daniel Keys Moran said...


I disagree with you, but I respect your position. I think it's short-sighted -- your children are going to pay for it -- but getting old does tend to shorten the time frames in which you plan. I can't promise you that changes won't impact you personally -- they might. And there's nothing dishonorable about your objecting to that.

Steve Perry said...

Go see Avatar. Dances with Wolves? Yeah. Doesn't matter. You have never seen anything like it on a movie screen, ever.

Tim said...

Slippery elm tea is a family favorite for throat problems. Usually throw in some mint as well. Serve with generous slug of lemon juice and honey.

It may be the lemon juice and honey that are doing the heavy lifting, here: I knew a singer that used just lemon juice and honey, with a little hot water to dissolve everything.

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