Rungs in a Ladder.

March 24, 2015

I’ve never been a huge fan of Converge.  I can appreciate their musicianship and overall importance to the genre, it just happens to not be my favorite genre.

I did however, find this mini-doc on the lead singer of the group to be interesting.  An interesting dude who screams for a living and makes cool artwork.

Sometimes learning more about people who make art makes the art more interesting.

Day Hike/Level 1.

March 23, 2015

Testing out my MSR Pocket Rocket for food prep.

Testing out my MSR Pocket Rocket for food prep.

This post is a response to a reader comment asking me any advices I had on getting started with hiking, backpacking and outdoors stuff in general.

Mike,

I’d like to preface this response/post by saying that I consider myself to be just a step above an absolute beginner as far as outdoor stuff is concerned. I’d love to say that I’m “outdoors guy” but in reality, I can’t because I’m “always stuck at the gym guy.” There are a handful of people I’ve met that are both, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m an “appreciator” and a learner until I can devote more time to getting out and enjoying the outdoors along with all the various activities that being outside has to offer. Like you, my family didn’t really have an interest outside of car camping at campsites. It wasn’t until I was in college that I needed an extra 3 units to burn so my best friend and I took a class called “the outdoor experience.” In it, we did a variety of outdoorsy activities with actual formal instruction culminating in a 2 day backpacking trip with the entire class. This trip in particular sparked my interest in backpacking as an activity. It was a surreal experience to see how the simple act of being 10 miles from where we parked our car affected everyone’s personality and general feeling of preparedness and comfort. After this, I started hiking on my own and joined a rock climbing gym where I took particular interest in bouldering and slacklining. I also had to take a few classes on the care of athletic injuries which increased my general knowledge base and overall comfort level in the outdoors by myself.

That being said, my advice to you is similar to my advice if you had wanted to start playing guitar, lifting weights, drawing or most other skill sets.

ADVICE.

1) Find people with similar interests. Here is a short anecdote for you. When I was in high school, I taught myself how to play guitar. It was relatively easy. How? Well, all of my friends were learning how to play instruments as well, so I picked up all the basics well enough to where I could teach myself. The same goes for lifting weights. Want to get really good? Find a team; preferably one with a good mix of beginners and people better than you. For your purposes, going online will always be a good resource (as long as you keep in mind that people online, in forums, etc are usually never the people they portray themselves to be). Rock climbing gyms are also another great spot to meet ACTUAL people. These types of gyms are the most social, second only to (you guessed it) Crossfit gyms. The main difference between the two is instead of fitness nuts, you will be making friends with outdoor nuts and granola types. Some of the better gyms will also have organized functions outside of rock climbing.

2) Start small. I will write more about this after my third point but in my opinion, day hikes are the best place to start.

3) Treat every outdoor experience as a learning experience. Even if you go to the local park or next to the river or a simple hike around a high traffic lake, treat every experience as a learning one. Test out your knowledge and equipment on the small scale before you make the jump to buying expensive outdoor equipment.
THE DAY HIKE.

Coming back to my second point, the day hike is where I would recommend starting your experience outdoors. You can make these as easy or as difficult as you’d like. You can stay close to where you live or you can venture out 1-5 hours and be back before the day is over. This way you can learn where you’d like to spend your time outdoors. For me personally, I found that I like visiting small lakes high up in the Sierras. They provide scenic viewpoints and a set “destination” before you turn back and go home. They can also serve as “scouting trips” where if you like the location, you can bring a pack up next time and stay the night.

As far as equipment goes, here is generally what I bring. I always like to be over prepared rather than under prepared. I’ll also occasionally bring stuff along that I backpack with so I can test it out before I depend on it for an overnight or multi-night trip. Some of your equipment that you use for your day hike and overnight trip will be the same, so for the purposes of sounding cool, lets call this your “LEVEL 1 KIT.”

Lets start with attire:

1) Hiking boots/shoes: Realistically speaking, some simple running shoes with suffice for most low impact hikes. For me, I use Solomon’s line of trail running gor-tex shoes for some of my more simple hikes. Generally speaking, your footwear is less important for day hikes when your loads will be between 0-40lbs. As a personal preference, I will always default towards a tall boot (around 8 inches). Even while doing general fitness stuff in the gym, I will gravitate towards the hi-top or wrestling shoe. In my younger years, I had the propensity to roll my ankles (mostly due to my fat thighs and poor walking mechanics). You should be able to find a pair of boots for around 100 bucks (sometimes less). The midsole of your boot is less important than on long ventures with a heavy pack. Your main concern should be comfort and water tightness. Keep in mind, your backpacking boots will be different than these ones, so if your funds are tight, use running shoes you already have for your day hikes and throw down some more skrilla on your backpacking boots.

2) Long (hiking) pants: this is a personal preference but also a recommendation. I used to cruise round in cut-off jorts all day, bro. But after reading a bunch of horror stories about ticks and not having an extra pocket or two when I need it, I’ve switched to the tactical or outdoor pant. Yes, I know. It’s 100% not cool to try and look like MR. TactiCOOL. But trust me, having more capabilities on your clothing plus an added barrier between you and the potential for Lyme Disease is well worth looking like an arm chair commando. I’ve had good experience’s with the Taclite Pro from 5.11. This company also released a new line with more stretchy material for added mobility. These are reasonably priced but like I said earlier, you’ll look kind of like a nutnfancy wannabe (which I’m OK with). Another brand I’d recommend is Fjallraven. My main critique of these pants is that they are EXPENSIVE and they lack back pockets and a knife pocket. They are however, durable, waterproof (if you buy the greenland wax to go with them), mobile, and you don’t look like a mall cop while wearing them.

That’s it for attire. I’ll let you figure out the upper body stuff for yourself. Now onto your day pack. I have a specific one that I’d recommend but I’m planning on doing a stand-alone review later on. For now, assess what you want to take with you and find a pack that will hold everything.
3) Bottle of water. You’re not going to need a purification system unless you want to bring it for testing purposes. I use the Katadyn Hiker model and it has served me pretty well thus far. If you’re concerned with viruses or don’t trust your water source, you can also bring iodine tabs and/or boil your water (this would necessitate investing in a camping stove).

4) First aid kit with the addition of pre-tape, athletic tape and hand disinfectant. Buy yourself a simple first aid kit, but more importantly, get familiar with what’s inside and how to use the materials. Formal training is preferred but not necessary. Realistically, what you could be dealing with will (hopefully) be no worse than bumps, scrapes and possibly a rolled ankle. That’s what the athletic tape is all about. I received formal training on how to properly tape an ankle. It couldn’t hurt to look up a few videos on the subject. The hand disinfectant is obviously to clean your filthy meathooks. I’m assuming you’d plan ahead and drop a douce before you go out, but cleanliness before you eat is always preferred, even out in the woods.

5) Flashlight. I actually carry two. One full-size and one pocket pen light. I prefer lights from Fenix or Streamlight.

6) Small EDC folding knife and/or multitool. No need to go overboard here unless you like collecting this stuff. Realistically your folder will be used to do things like spread peanut butter and open stuff up. The most used function on your multitool will be scissors (not all have this) and bottle opener (because beers). Spyderco and Kershaw have the most variety of high quality folders from 20-40 bucks. Leatherman is still the leading name in multitools. Look into the Juice model. If you’re not into this stuff, just go with the multitool. If you ARE into this stuff, keep in mind that full tang fixed blades will always be mechanically stronger than a folder, so you won’t be doing any of the cool outdoorsy stuff that you see on youtube. But hey, I’m no bushcrafter and I’m assuming you aren’t either.

7) Bug spray.  In my experience, bugs don’t give a DAMN about your spray.  But it couldn’t hurt to bring along anyways.  Oh and I’ve found I’m not as dependent on sunscreen as my fair skinned friends but you might need it.

8) Snacks. Because snacks. Keep it simple in the beginning. And remember if you pack it in, pack it out.

9) Really loud goddamn whistle. Or a signaling mirror.  Or some other back up plan way of communication just in case you’ve had a “I’ve fallen and can’t get up moment.”  This is actually something I keep in my EDC pack all the time.  It sounds funny, but your puny human voice only carries so far.  Get a really loud goddamn whistle for just in case.  If anything, use it to wake up your bro or your significant other if they piss you off while they’re drunk and pass out on your couch.

10 (optional) Whiskey or beer. I’d recommend not bringing this stuff if you don’t normally drink. However whiskey is part of my regular diet so I like to bring a small amount for when I reach my destination and want to relax. Keep in mind 1) dehydration, 2) alcohol actually lowers your body temperature.

On top of this, bring anything else you want to pass the time, like a book or some sort of activity. A spare shirt or henley might be nice too depending on the time of year.

If you like this post, I’ll do a backpacking one in the future, though I have less experience in what systems actually work and what doesn’t.

Unplugged Session.

March 18, 2015

Hot on the heels of his new record’s release, Twin Shadow once again appeared on XMU to do an exclusive unplugged session featuring a couple of his new songs and a Cat Stevens cover.  The DJ asked him if he thought that one of the requirements for a song to be a good one would be if it sounds good without all the fancy production.  He replied that he used to believe so but that not necessarily true across the board.  Still it is a quality that he tries to reflect in his music.  If anybody knows how to bootleg recordings, it’s airing at 4pm Eastern time again tomorrow.  Send me a copy PLZ.

What is your opinion?  Does a song need to sound “good” at it’s core without the assistance of production and fancy electronics and accompaniment?

Here’s a track from the last time he did an unplugged session from 2011.  I can remember listening to this for the first time at a coffee shop I used to frequent.

There were other notable releases that happened this week.  Modest Mouse released their first record in like 8 years.  Kendrick released the follow up to his 2013 unanimously applauded debut.  I’m not as stoked on these but they will sure to be talked about for the remainder of the year (Kendrick’s new album at least).

Snapshot in Time.

March 17, 2015

This picture represents a snapshot in time; not just for me, but for the entire USAW.  Observe.

I purchased this shirt at the Collegiate Nationals in 2007 (I think).  I promptly cut it into the "nips exposed" trap-cut.

I purchased this shirt at the Collegiate Nationals in 2007. I promptly cut it into the “nips exposed” trap-cut.

A lot has changed since 2007.  I no longer expose my nips in the gym setting (if I do, it’s because I am not wearing a shirt).  Weightlifting shirts have changed as well.  First of all, they’re more stylish.  But more importantly, we no longer have to spend our time telling people what weightlifting is.  The masses are informed enough that they can now at least identify a snatch and a clean and jerk if they see one.  For years, I refused to do any upper body whatsoever (aside from bodyweight stuff) because weightlifting coaches told me that “we don’t do that” and doing curls would “mess with my pull.”  Well, as it turns out, if you have a shitty pull, it’s because you have a shitty pull.  I also spent a great amount of effort telling people what weightlifting isn’t.  Nowadays, I don’t waste the time or just avoid the subject of fitness altogether.

Here’s a litte anecdote for you.  In 2005, I found out that Sac State had a weightlifting team.  When I got there, it was just me.  I was now the president and the only long-term member.  I want you to try and imagine me sitting behind a fold up desk in the school quad trying to get people to sign up for the club.  Depressing, isn’t it?

Thanks to Crossfit (and on a larger scale, the internet) I no longer have to sell weightlifting.  Shirts are better.  The talent pool is larger.  And I can now bench press if I choose to

I rarely do.  Old habits die hard.

Follow Your Bliss.

March 10, 2015

Pre-contest.

Pre-contest.

Spotlight on Steiner.

March 9, 2015

Recent additions to the weightlifting family might not remember this one.  I’ll always be a Chiggy fan but Steiner’s road to his weightlifting gold is one that tugs at my heartstrings and will go down in history as one of the most memorable Olympic performances.

Spring is coming . . .

March 7, 2015

Good weather is already upon us my fellow Californians.  I’m competing in Napa tomorrow, but the NEXT FREE WEEKEND I HAVE (and who knows when that will be) I’m getting out into goddamn nature.

That being said, I just got in tons of new outdoor gear.  I plan on doing some video reviews on some of this stuff, but probably only things that I’ve had for a very long time and have used extensively so I’ll actually know what I’m talking about.

I’ve been a fan of Nutnfancy videos for some time.  I’m not the tactical or “tactiCOOL” type, but I DO like outdoor stuff such as backpacking and things like that.  This guy is the king of commenting on all things outdoor and his focused and knowledgable reviews has me loading up my Amazon Prime cart every time (and not buying said stuff).  Here’s his series of backpacking load out videos.  I’d like to say that he is infamous for overdoing everything when it comes to equipment.  For instance, he talks about his 8lb RAFT that he takes with him so he can go fishing on high mountain lakes.  Never gonna happen for me.  But it’s fun either way to see his systems that he had developed over the years.  I’d also recommend his backpacking adventure videos.  I’m not into guns and stuff but he has a plethora of those as well.

I’d like to preface this first with a resounding I don’t care.  I’m not going to add anything to the discussion that you have not heard before.

My people use the high bar squat because they have to train like me. They don’t have the option.  And I’ve been using the high bar squat for 10 years.  I’ve employed different kinds of squats for both myself and the team.  Usually when someone starts suffering from a bad case of patellar tendonitis, I’ll have them substitute for box squats until their symptoms get better.  I also know a few more things about the mechanics of one vs. the other and blah blah blah.  But like I said before, I’m not going to add anything to the discussion that has already polluted the internet for too long.

The ONLY part of the discussion that I actually care about is that I want people to know and understand that there is a difference between the two.  Different lift.  Different training effect.  Different uses.  Different contraindications.  

Understand the difference and use which one is most appropriate to your sport and/or life.  I’m actually glad that people made a big ol’ deal about this one because it means that a significant number of people now understand that there actually is a difference.  That’s a big step forward from 10 years ago BELIEVE ME. Actual strength training was a cold and lonely place; A place for neckbeards who were too good to train for aesthetics or in some cases actual health.

I will say that you don’t get style points for using one over the other.  If I was a functional fitness type, I’d get comfortable with both.  I’ve actually attended a contest where a max back squat was a contested event.  In this situation, the low bar would in most cases be more appropriate though practicing the high bar might translate to other things you have to do on a regular basis.

Love Comes and Goes.

March 2, 2015

As promised, I have attached a formal title to the first ever ATLO mixtape.  I was lazy and just used the title of one of the songs but it’s a title nonetheless. I actually got a pretty good response on the mix and am excited to do more.  It really helped to break up the monotony of putting myself out there with videos, pictures and blog posts.  It really does feel like a neat little way to communicate.  I need to figure out a way to record a conversation so I can have guest DJ’s on.  Here is the tracklist:

Alongthelinesof Mixtape Vol. 1: Love comes and goes.

1) Old Love/New Love (feat. D’angelo Lacy)-Twin Shadow

2) In the Nightmare Room-Merchandise

3) I heard-Young Fathers

4) Love Comes and Goes-Lee Fields and the Expressions

5) 1777-Russian Circles

6) Habits (Stay High) [Hippie Sabotage Remix]-Tove Lo

7) Paper Trail$-Joey Bada$$

8) Misery (single)-Barrett Strong

9) Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck) [feat. Zach De La Rocha]-Run the Jewels

10) Glawio-Com Truise

11) Arc of Time-Bright Eyes

12) Seasons (Waiting on You)-Future Islands

13) Stonemilker-Bjork

14) You’ve Got the Love (The XX Remix)-Florence and the Machine

15) A Change is Gonna Come-Sam Cooke

I’ve recently started working on the track list for the next mix.  It may or may not include a track from this husband/wife duo:

Simon Bisley: his Process.

February 26, 2015

One of my favorite parts about looking at a pice of art is seeing (or imagining rather) the artist’s creative process that went into making it.

Here’s a video that takes imagination out of the equation and you get to see the creative process of a true maestro of illustration.  I don’t imagine any of you would sit and watch the entire video (because I didn’t).  But I did stop at what I perceived to be the beginning and end of each of his steps.  Interesting stuff.

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