Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Run Right

Newton Running - Run Right

So a friend of mine showed me this video a few weeks back and it sounded pretty cool. It makes a lot of sense to me to run with shoes like you would run without shoes, since that's how your body is best able to handle the stress. A week and a half ago, Jenna and I went to the gym and ran for just a couple of minutes to warm up for lifting. I did the mid-foot/forefoot thing and didn't have any issues at all with shin splints. This is pretty incredible. Still, I'd been resting pretty much forever and we didn't run long so I didn't want to get too crazy with it. I went again this morning and did a mile in about 12 minutes with a little bit of elevation at the beginning to help me get into the right stride. Even after the whole mile, still no shin splints! So now I'm thinking I may be able to run on a semi-regular basis. I'm planning on going again in a few days and running another mile to see if this will really work for me long term.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What? Another month already?

Criminy. It's tough to keep up with this thing these days. Okay, here's what's been going on. We started another RPG with some friends. It's only once a month, but I'm GMing. I've never really run a game before so I'm a little worried about being terrible. I'll keep you posted on that as it develops. We're still doing our trivia thing every week, and that's a blast. I've been slacking off and barely making it to jiu-jitsu at all, unfortunately. So many things keep coming up, it seems. We've got our book club night tonight and our Zombie PAYDAY game tomorrow. Ugh. Everything we're doing is great and fun and all, there's just so much of it. If it weren't all so fun it would be easy to start saying no to things, but it's not. We'll figure it out, I guess.

Let's see...we've made some new friends from Zombie Squad and we're seeing them at least a few times a month now. That has been really great. We have so many similar interests and we all get along so well. It's all very cool.

Did my shotgun class a few weeks back. Learned a freakin' ton. A lot of it is sort of common sense, but a lot of it is stuff I hadn't really considered before. Definitely worth the money and the time I got to spend with my dad was awesome. We road-tripped out to Vegas and back, so we had a ton of time to just hang out and talk on the drive and all. If you're going to go to Vegas, October/November is a great time for it. The weather was so much nicer than we thought it would be. It was a little chilly during the evening, but mostly everything was great.

I've been playing a ton of Call of Duty 4, as well. I'm actually trying to make time for video games. It's nice because I can just squeeze half an hour or so of game time in various places. I'm actually getting pretty decent, though. Not amazing, mind you, but tolerable. I'm pretty consistently one of the top few people in the game. This depends greatly on the weapons I'm using and whether or not I'm working on a particular challenge. I had a few games where I ran around with RPGs trying to shoot two people at once and ended up dying a billion times. Still, I manage sort of okay. I'll have most of the challenges done pretty soon. Hopefully in time to get the sequel for Christmas or Birthday or something.

Okay, that'll do for now. Catch you all later!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween: Complete

Whew! That was a ton of fun, a ton of work and I'm really glad to be done with it. The costumes got done enough for Halloween, at least. There are a few adjustments to be made but nothing for a while.

So now we get to do some other exciting things. We get to keep looking for houses, keep looking for a job for Jenna, keep playing our established games, and keep doing our trivia. We also get to start some new games, hang out with new friends and start doing a lot more prep/self-sufficiency work. I'm really excited about it. We got to hang out with some new friends on Halloween and had a great time. We're definitely going to try to see them on a regular basis. It seems like we have so much to learn from them and we have so much fun just hanging out and talking.

So next on my plate I'm going to refinish the mask I made for my friend (see other blog), I'm going to get back to work with my bow-making stuff and I think I'm going to be running a tabletop game once a month. Pretty exciting stuff! We're also eating at home a lot more to save money, so I'm getting to cook quite a bit again. Sweet!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The little lost blog

I've been neglecting you, blog. I've moved on, in some ways. I have been spending all of my time with a new blog,. A different blog. Dare I say...a better blog? No, that isn't fair. Blogs are built for different purposes and it just so happens that I haven't had as much to say here as I have there. It's not you, it's me.

Suffice it to say, I haven't completely stopped doing anything interesting, I've just been focusing my blogging time almost exclusively on crafty things. We've spent a lot of time with friends, met new people, tried new things, cooked new foods at home and visited new restaurants. Really, we've been staying very busy indeed.

I can't say I'll be better about keeping this updated, but I'll certainly try. Here's something we've recently gotten into: Zombie Squad

The folks there are great and into a lot of the same stuff we are. Iron sharpens iron, as they say. I'm hoping being around folks who take survival and self-sufficiency seriously will help us to close the holes in our own plans and preparation.

Other than that, we're really just gearing up for Halloween. It's big holiday for us, obviously, and we're doing a fair bit of work. If you want to see what all is going on, check the other blog. I've been working to put up pictures and diagrams and all the rest.

That's it! I'll check back in sometime soon, hopefully.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trippingly on the tongue

Well not really on the tongue. Or even involving the tongue. Mostly, I'm taking a trip and wanted a clever blog title. And now this blog title has given me a good start on a blog entry. Look at that!

So we're going to CA to visit our family out there (I say our family because even though they're really Jenna's family, they're totally mine too now) for a few days. Should be super awesome times, I'm thinking. We'll get to hang out, pick some apples, play games, eat food, maybe see some friends and stuff. Wicked.

Also, I got and started playing Call of Duty 4. It's a really great game and I'm especially terrible at it. I enjoy it a lot though, so I may be inspired to play it enough to get only regularly terrible, which would be fun. I'm also playing Psychonauts (on loan from my bro-in-law) and really enjoying that as well. When do I find the time to play video games, you ask? When I should be sleeping!

I keep working on my Halloween projects and I'm trying to keep my crafting blog updated. Right now I just have an abundance of sanding to do. It's dull and dusty and generally not as much fun as the rest of the work, but it needs to be done. I did get a cool little helping hand tool that makes soldering a billion easier so now I don't fear it quite so much.

We keep doing our trivia thing and are consistently in the top 3 and get first more often than not. So that's cool.

We actually got to do our roleplaying game again. One of them, anyway. It's the first time we've played in like 2 months and we don't get to play for another month, most likely. I'd love to be more consistent with it, but we just have so much going on, it seems.

Jenna ordered a really awesome new bike so I think we're probably going to be riding bikes sometime soon. Just in time for autumn, which is my favorite time to ride bikes. Sweet!

Our new kitten is getting along very nicely in the house now. He and Levi are buddies and now nobody is lonely, so that's very nice. Smitty is getting bigger but he still only has a tiny squeak for a meow. It's super cute.

We've got an offer in on a house but haven't heard anything on it yet. We're just the backup so it isn't too likely we'll get it, but we're still definitely hoping. We just have to keep looking and offering. Sometimes it seems like that part is now the whole experience and that actually getting a house is no longer even associated with looking and offering. It's weird. I won't even know what to do once we have a house. Probably still go out and try to find one just out of habit, I guess.

I'm still loving my jiu-jitsu classes but I've been slacking on them. I've been making it like once or twice a week at best, and that's not nearly enough. I'm really hoping that all the visits and travel will be done soon (as much as I enjoy them) so I can settle into a regular schedule.

I did quite well at IDPA again this month. I'm really feeling good about it. I have improved so much since I started just a few months ago. The shooting is so different from what you normally do and being able to practice that type of shooting experience is amazing. There's really no parallel at a normal range. You simply can't do that type of training and so your training is lacking. Moving while shooting, shooting while on the clock, shooting at moving targets or targets obscured by no-shoots (civilians) or having specific areas of a bad guy you can't shoot (behind hard cover or he has a bomb strapped to him that will explode if you hit it, etc.) are all things that are impractical for a regular range. They're also the most fun and the most useful sorts of things for real-life situations.

I'm also super excited for Tim and J-Long to be here. Tim's just visiting but J-Long will be back for good and that'll be awesome. My bro-in-law is visiting too, so that's going to be a ton of fun. We've got so much happening, but it's all good stuff.

Is that it? Maybe that's it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mostly Crafty

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted here. I've been posting primarily at my other blog (Geek Kraft) because that's really the most interesting thing I've been up to. We've been busy this month with people coming into town, but mostly we're just hanging out and catching up, playing games, eating food, etc. The trips are great, but much more fun to experience than to read about, I'm sure.

So, here's what has been taking up my time: Feline medical care. Caring for Antonia was a lot of work and a lot of emotional stress. Then we had to put her down and there was a sort of respite from the stress of trying to get her healthy again. We decided to get a kitten to keep Levi company. The day we brought home the kitten (his name is Admiral Smithington, Smitty for short) Levi was really sick. We took him to the vet the next morning and found out that he had a really bad urinary tract infection. They gave us some meds to give to him and an IV bag to get fluids into his system via subcutaneous needle-poking. We did that for a few days and took him back to the regular vet. He told us to stop with the meds and just gave him a long-acting penicillin shot which worked much much better. We finished off the fluids and a week later, Levi is doing much better. he's out and about, playing with the new kitten, jumping up onto the bed and couch (so it's safe to assume there's little pain) and starting to get back to his old self. He still isn't eating or drinking as much as he should be, but he's eating a little bit and seems to be drinking a bit. If he isn't drinking more by this evening, we're going to get more fluids into him. So anyway, that has been our situation. When it rains it pours, I guess. At least Levi is recovering.

So now we have a new kitten and he is incredibly adorable. See for yourself:

He's really fitting into the family very well. He's super tiny and feisty and cuddly. He likes to alternate between playing very hard and snuggling very hard. It's super cute. We're really enjoying having him around the house, to the point where we're actually thinking about getting another kitten in a few weeks, after we're sure Levi is fully recovered. The thinking is that then these two cats will be roughly the same age, so when it finally is Levi's time to go, they'll still have each other. We'll see how that idea progresses, but we're at least considering it.

*Update* I didn't mention this before, but we're pretty sure he's a Russian blue. If not completely, at least a very large part. he has the double coat, the silvery sheen (right now, particularly around his paws) and the green eyes. His eyes aren't the perfect color they like, and he has a few white spots on his chest so he certainly wouldn't be show quality. Still, he meets almost all of the other criteria (even having maroon footpads) and looks quite a bit like most of the photos we saw of other Russian Blues. So that's cool.

I'm still going to jiu-jitsu classes, albeit far less regularly than I was. I would like to go to more, but it seems things always come up that require my attention. bah. I'm going to try to work much harder at making it to class at least 3 times a week, if not 4. I've also completely stopped doing my morning workouts. I really do need to get back to them, though. I stopped originally because we had to force-feed Antonia every morning and that always took quite a while. Recently I haven't been doing it because we've been staying up super late and it's tough to get up any earlier than I absolutely have to. Really, any reasons or excuses aren't going to do anything for my health or my stamina or anything, so they aren't worth much. I just need to buckle down and make it happen. I'll keep you guys informed.

I'm doing a lot of work in the garage recently, too. If you read my other blog you'll get the specifics, but basically I got a wild hair to try to make bows, and then got another wild hair to do some cool projects for halloween. Mostly these involve very simple little things that I could do pretty much in no time, but I'm trying to make them a bit cooler. I'm working on joinery, specifically finger joints, because i think they're awesome and they're easy to do with a jig. If I can perfect my jig and my technique, I should be able to get tons of these things done in pretty much no time, leaving me with a great-looking traditional joint and not a ton of effort. To me, that opens up a lot of cool small projects.

I've also started playing some video games again. Nothing too crazy, just grabbing a few hours here and there. I'm still working on Fallout 3 because that game is absurdly enormous, and I recently backtracked to Assassin's Creed. I want to get all the achievements for it, and that's no easy task. It's a great game and I'm wondering now about making a costume based on it. The aesthetic is very original and cool, and I'm thinking I could make an excellent representation of it with a little work. We'll see how that goes.

Aside from that, we're doing our normal gaming, trivia, hanging out, eating, visiting friends and family, playing with tiny furry babies and so on. I'm also reading a lot of non-fiction, primarily about making bows and violins (another project I'm sort of curious about).

That's it for now!

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Kitten

So, since we are now down to one cat and he is acting like the loneliest cat ever, we've decided to get a new baby kitten for him to play with. Levi is one of the most affectionate animals I've ever encountered, and he really needs a cuddle buddy. he hasn't been happy since Antonia got sick and stopped wanting to hang out with him. he's been crying a lot and following us around even more than usual. So, to help with that (and at least partially because I love cats and feel that I can never have enough of them) we're going to get a kitten.

Here's where you're all going to be shocked: We're going to the dumb friends league. I know that I have said that shelter dogs are lame and that I would never have one. That remains true. First off, I think that since darn near every cat you will ever find is classified as "Domestic Shorthair" (unless you go out of your way to find a specific breed) their breed really doesn't matter much. Whether you get them from a pet store or a Craigslist ad or anything else, they're going to be a pretty standard cat. Also, I am a firm believer in spaying and neutering pets, which the Dumb Friends League does as part of your adoption fee. They charge $115 for kittens and that fee includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations, microchipping and a first vet visit to any vet who participates in the program (and almost all of them do). You also get "new owner counseling" or some such, which is helpful if you get the pet home and find that he's got some issues. So, I think that's an incredibly good deal, financially speaking. Most Craigslist or newspaper ads want a $25-$50 rehoming fee (partly because they can make money and party because they want to be sure people aren't taking the cats and feeding them to snakes or something). Add the vet's fee for microchipping ($50, I believe) and spaying/neutering (something over $50) and the Dumb Friends League really is the only way to go. You also know that the cats are socialized and treated well. The DFL has folks who just go and play in the kitten cages. The cages are clean, bright, and full of toys and friends for the babies to play with.

Really, the whole DFL building was very impressive. You could tell it had been designed from the ground up just to make it easy for people and animals to interact. There were also a ton of people working there. I was pretty amazed. The dog enclosures were all very clean and well-maintained, and most dogs had a buddy with them (the space is easily big enough for two) so they wouldn't just be alone all the time. Everything was freshly painted, well-organized, clean, and bright. It wasn't at all like I expected an animal shelter to be. I was expecting chain link, small cages, just a few people walking around in poopy clothes, etc. Not at all. So anyway, getting a kitten from them just seems like the natural thing to do.

We're looking to get a male, probably a brown or orange tabby. His name is going to be Captain Doctor Smithington-Reece, Esquire and we will call him "Smitty" for short. We'll be taking and posting tons of pictures of him in his baby stages so we always have them even when he's a grown-up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


We had to have Antonia put down today. She's been having some pretty serious health problems and the things we'd been hoping would help her get better just weren't working. The doc said today that her lungs were full of fluid and she was having a really hard time breathing. There's no way she was going to improve from that, so we made the tough (but hopefully right) decision to just let her go. We tried everything we could to get her better, and didn't let her suffer any longer than we needed to, so I'm really hoping we did right by her. She was my first real pet (aside from various small, caged pets and family-owned animals) and I loved her very much. She always had such a unique personality, and she always loved her daddy. I'm sorry it had to end this way, but it wouldn't be fair to her to keep her alive, struggling for air while we try to force food down her throat every few hours. I have to believe she's better off now.

Anyhow, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who has already expressed condolences. I really appreciate having so many great friends and such a great family. Thanks, everyone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Something everyone needs to know about

Academic Earth

This site is the coolest thing I've seen in a very long time. It's a collection of lectures and even full courses from some of the best schools in the country. Everything from Psychology to Computer Science and Astronomy to Religion is available. It's amazing. I really can't adequately express my joy with this site. I'm going to do it up right, I think, and watch an entire course in order, and even attempt to do the projects along with the class. I'm starting with this one: CS 50 from Harvard

I think I'll continue on to math, physics, astronomy, and anything else I can think of. This is precisely how I learn best, and it's offering me a chance to see what a course is like and to gain the knowledge without needing to spend a lot of money on tuition and everything. Frankly, I have a degree already and the knowledge is what I need more than a piece of paper saying I know what I know.

Anyhow, this was worthy of me dusting off my blog and making a post. Everything else proceeds apace, really. Jiu-jitsu continues to go well, Antonia seems to be getting better, projects are progressing, I'm desperately in love with my wife, we continue to have ag reat time at trivia, visiting family and friends are keeping us thoroughly buys this whole month, etc. I may get a bit more specific if I have time, but we'll see. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ah! Where am I? How did I get here? Where have I been this whole time?

Good questions, all. Another quick rundown, methinks.

Last weekend was some wedding madness. My friend Brad got married down in Deckers, so we had that going on. The week before was his bachelor party, where I got to play some paintball and some poker. Thankfully I am better at shooting than at cards.

Antonia was doing much better and then seemed to have a relapse. She's looking stronger now, and trying to eat on her own again. We're not letting that fool us, though. Last time she did that we just et her eat and I think she just wasn't eating enough to stay healthy. So now we're letting her eat, but we're still force-feeding her three to four times a day. it's gross and unpleasant for all involved, but it's what she needs.

We went back to trivia and were joined by some new friends. A lot of new friends, actually. We ended up splitting into two teams, with Fogey Force (Adj and Charlie) showing us whippersnappers what for. They ended up taking 3rd, while we tied for 5th. This is yet another example of why we are better as a complete team than we are separately. Winning is fun, but so is seeing all our friends, especially some we haven't seen in a year or more. So overall, I'd say it was well worth it.

Let's see...what else have we done? Well, we went to our book club, which is always a good time. I've been slacking off on jiu-jitsu for the past few weeks, unfortunately. I was going to go last night but we're camping this weekend and had quite a bit left to do. I'm definitely going to head back next week and make it to all my classes. I've got my 20, so I just need my stripe and all that jazz. My last class was really fun. I got to wrestle a brown belt (the instructor) and a blue belt, and did well against both of them. I didn't win by any means, but I also didn't make a fool of myself.

Speaking of camping...we're camping! Should be fun. We've got a good group together, we've got a good site (from what I hear) and should have a very good time. We're bringing about a billion things, and I don't even really know if everything will fit in the car. We'll see, I guess. We're doing some fun stuff this trip, for sure. We're bringing archery gear to shoot arrows at things, and we're going to try some homemade lanterns and stuff that Dave and Jax put together. We're also going to try to do some of the stuff we've read about in various survival manuals, just to see how well we can make it work for real. I'll let you guys know how well it all works.

Also, I've been really keen on making bows ever since reading this: Dies the Fire So I found some cool tutorials online and am now putting my shop in some semblance of order. It's not easy, but it's much nicer to have space to work, so it'll be worth the effort. Here's the link to the site I'm using primarily. I've talked with the guy and he's a really nice dude. Anyhow, here's the link: Sam's Bowmaking Site

That's about it, I guess. I'm going to try to keep up with my blog better than I have been recently. I'm slacking off, and that ain't cool. As I get closer to making actual pieces and parts for the bow-making process, I'll be updating my other blog with pictures and stuff. I'll make note of it here when I do that, so you know.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quick Update

Hey guys, sorry I've been away for so long. A lot has been happening, and I've been really busy at work so I haven't been able to talk much about it.

First off, our cat Antonia is sick. She's got hepatic lipidosis, which means we have to force-feed her to try to get her body back to processing food. it sucks, but she's our baby and we need to do it. We're really hoping she gets better soon. Thanks to everyone for all of your support, it means a lot to us.

Secondly, we went on a trip to Glenwood Springs, CO to celebrate our first anniversary (earlier this month). We had a really great time. It was honestly one of the better trips I've been on, and I think Jenna agrees. We got to eat lots of good food, stay in a cool old hotel, walk around a lot, look in neat shops, soak in a giant hot spring pool, and ride a train. Really, it couldn't have been better. Hopefully I'll get a chance to post some pictures.

Also, we both read Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling. It's a pretty good book (the writing isn't great and the premise is a bit weak, but the story and the situation is enough to keep me interested) and it has inspired us to try to practice some archery. It has also inspire me to start making more bows and arrows. I have three bows already, one of which I made myself, and I'd like to increase significantly that number and my skill at making them. I've since made a Flemish string jig to help me make bowstrings, and made one for a fiberglass bow I already had. The whole process is very interesting and there are a lot of great sites on the internet that are very helpful.

Anything else? I'm sure there is, but I'm a bit rushed at the moment. I'll try to be a bit better about posting over the next week to keep everyone informed of how everything is going. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jeez, Thursday and no posts?

I'm such a slacker. Okay, here's what's been going on. We've been looking at houses, I've been going to jiu-jitsu, we've been doing our normal hanging out with friends and gaming stuff, etc. Pretty standard, really. We got second place at trivia this week, so that's cool. I busted out a new hat and the lucky pipe, so I'm jazzed about that. I think they'll really help us more next week.

Really, things are proceeding more or less as they always do. We're having a great time with friends and family (got to work in my sister's yard for father's day), enjoying our time together as always, making and eating tasty food, watching movies, playing games, and trying to make progress at our various new activities.

We keep trying to find houses but that's going a bit sideways. Every time we find a place we like it already has about 14 offers on it, so we can't really make any progress. We're still trying, though. We're finding plenty out there that we like, we just need to find something that we have a chance of getting. I'll keep you all posted on that.

I'm still doing my EA Active and I'm really liking it. I've been very good about doing it 4 days a week, and I think it's starting to make a difference. I can see some growth in my arms (from just a little bit of work with a resistance band, of all things) and Jenna has said she's noticing a difference, too. I think jiu-jitsu is probably helping a lot, too. I'm really loving my training. I can't adequately express it, I don't think. I've got 15 classes done now, so I'm within about 2 weeks of having my first stripe. Once I get that, I can start going to more classes more often, which will hopefully bump my physical progress to the next level. The frustrating thing is that I'm not really losing weight. After a month of working out at jiu-jitsu and doing my EA Active thing, I'd think I'd have lost something, but I seem to be holding steady or gaining. I'm really hoping that I'm just putting on muscle and the gains in that are outweighing any fat loss I've got going. I don't know, but I'm not going to worry about it too terribly much. After another month or two of being consistent, if I still don't see any serious changes, I may have to really lock down my diet or something. I don't know. We'll see, I guess.

Tuesday trivia was fun. Bonnie came out and helped us, so that was cool. We also ran by the army surplus store beforehand, so we got to get some cool new toys. My toys were all hats. I got a cool sea-captain-hat-looking thing to wear for trivia (with my beautiful pipe clenched firmly between my very manly teeth, of course), and picked up a giant bandana to boot. Both Jenna and I got boonie hats, since we don't really have anything suitable for keeping the sun off of our faces and ears and necks and all when we're working outside or something. We worked in my sister's yard on Sunday for father's day and both got a bit burned even with the sunblock. I think a hat is really just a good way to go anyhow. it'll be nice for paintball, camping, gardening, really anything outdoors where you aren't too worried about looking silly (Jenna's adorable in hers of course, but I think I might look a tad dumb.).

I think that's about it, anyway. We had our supers game on Saturday and it was extremely fun as always. Jenna and I are talking about maybe going back to the SCA for something at some point, but nothing definitive yet. A lot of it depends on what else we're willing to give up. We're so busy these days we can't add anything without taking away something else. I'm really liking the feeling of progress and accomplishment from jiu-jitsu, but I'd like to be working on actual crafty projects again, too. I really want to continue improving my woodworking skills, and get better with leather, too. I think I might see about trying to make myself another longbow, too. We'll see. So many things to do!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Work gets in the way of blogging

Alas, I've been working at work instead of blogging. What a pain.

Well, let's do a quick rundown, shall we? Saturday was my latest IDPA match. I did pretty well with my accuracy and my following of the rules, but not so well on time. Really, I'd rather be safe and accurate than fast, but ideally I'd like to be all three. I'll keep working on it. Saturday evening we went to the Olive Garden for dinner, so that was fun. I really like going on dates with my wife. Sunday, we went looking at houses (morwe on that later) and played our Rifts game. Unfortunately, Jenna wasn't feeling well and didn't stay with us the whole time, but it was still one of the best sessions we've had. My character got giant blue flame wings and flew around like a sparrow on crack. Glorious. I made chili cheese dogs and brats for dinner. Not much to say there, I guess. Everyone liked them, so I can't feel too badly. I just like to make something slightly more involved than that if I can.

Monday I went to jiu-jitsu in Denver which is always fun. Tuesday is trivia night and we came in third. We got a $10 gift certificate, which is cool, but I really like winning. We just had a rough night. All the scores were very close, but we could've done a bit better, I think. Anyhow, it was a blast, as always. Even when we don't win, it's a great time. We got to watch Chogan absolutely dominate at Ms. Pac-Man, too.

Last night, I was going to go to jiu-jitsu, but I had to fix Jenna's car. Really, we just had to drop a new battery in it, but that counts as car maintenance to my mind. We also got to go take another look at the house we liked on Sunday. It's a townhouse in Greenwood Village, right off Belleview and Dayton. If you haven't been in that area before, it's super nice. It's also very close to work, which is awesome. We really like a lot about this place, especially the location, the yard, the basement, and the fact that it's sort of a run-down unit in an otherwise extremely nice neighborhood. That's exactly what we wanted. It's ripe for updating, and the updates will most likely get us a good return on our investments. There's some work to be done, primarily upstairs. Apparently there was some water damage, so the prior owner tore everything out to re-do the master bath and then never finished the job. The plumbing is all hooked up, so we'd just need to hang some sheet rock and patch a few holes to get it up to snuff. Even so, we'd most likely move into one of the basement bedrooms at first until we got the master completely perfect, then move into there and start updating and working on things as we got the money and time to improve them. We'll see how it goes. The price is right, the location is right, and the place has good bones. With some work, we could make it a really awesome home and probably get a ton of sweat equity out of it. I'll keep you guys posted on our progress.

So that's it! Woot! All caught up on my blogging now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Some kind of robot

We're having a computer issue in our house. Jenna has been playing Rome: Total War (a great game, by the way) and had an issue with my system. I tore everything apart, swapped drives and power supplies and generally wreaked mayhem on our household tech, only to discover that maybe the game itself is causing the issue. How freakin' frustrating is that? In any case, we've ordered some new components for my machine to see if we can get it working again. There are a few other combinations and transfers we want to do between the three functional machines we have to end up with at least two fully functional and hopefully improved systems. Bah.

I got my new Katana a few days ago and I've been swinging it around. It feels extremely natural in my hand, and it absolutely begs to be taken out and swung at various things. I'll have to see if I can set up a trip to go somewhere wide open and just go to town with it. I might just wait until we go camping or to play paintball and bring the sword with some targets. We'll see.

We're still enjoying EA Active. I've gotten a few trophies for stuff and I'm continuing to work on my consistency with it. I do end each workout (even on Medium) pretty sweaty and at least a bit tired. All the lunges are certainly keeping my legs sore, too. I'm even noticing that my shoulders are feeling all the presses and raises I've been doing. Sweet! I'm hoping that the relative lack of focus on chest stuff isn't going to let my pushup results dwindle, but we'll just have to see what happens.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Success and Progress, in that order

Since I made some shrimp cocktail on Sunday, I felt confident in making a significantly larger batch for my friends yesterday. The main reason for this was because it was Dave's birthday and he's into seafood. Since I generally don't make seafood (Jenna isn't a fan, and I rarely cook just for myself) I wasn't sure what to do. I've made fish and chips before (actually I made fish, I still haven't ever attempted french fries) but that didn't sound like something he'd really enjoy. Shrimp though, that's sort of safe. If people are into seafood, they generally enjoy shrimp. Or so it seems to me, anyway. So anyway, I'll tell you how I made them in just a second. Suffice it to say, everyone was very pleased with the shrimp. Seems like a pretty instant classic, which is very cool for me. I always like trying new things and having them turn out well. I also had a good time getting to see everyone again and getting to play our Rifts game, since we're having a hard time getting it to fit in this month.

Okay, here's the shrimp recipe, blatantly stolen from Alton Brown:

Take some shrimp. Ideally, you want frozen (How many oceans are within a few miles of Denver, CO? None!) with the heads off and the shells still on. Uncooked, of course. You also need to consider size. I used 26-30 as they call it, and it made for tasty two-bite shrimp. One bite, if you wanted. This number means there are 26-30 shrimp of this size in a pound. Good shrimp are always sold by count, never by "Giganto-large" or "Jumbo-maximus" or any other weird adjective. If it doesn't have a count weight on it, try a different brand. This recipe works well for any number of shrimp apparently, from six to like three dozen, so feel free to expand or contract as needed. Now that you have your frozen shrimp, you need to thaw them. I put mine in a colander under cold water and swish them around for like 5-7 minutes. This gets them thawed but not warm, which is how you want them. Check to see if your shrimp have been de-veined. If they haven't been, you will want to take care of this. The brand I found had been de-veined already, which was awesome. Oddly enough, it didn't mention that fact anywhere on the package. You would think they'd advertise the work they did, but whatever. If you need to de-vein, get some small scissors, snip up the back with as few snips as possible, then pull out the icky. Wipe it on a paper towel or something.

You now have shrimp ready for cooking, right? No! Because to get a good shrimpy flavor out of these bad boys you need to brine them first. This gets some extra salt into the meat and also helps them retain moisture so they don't get gummy and gross. You need to make a brine, so get some hot water (I take hot water from the faucet and then pop it in the microwave for a few minutes) and dissolve some salt and sugar into it. This is the part that will change depending on how many shrimp you're making. I did about 3 tablespoons of each in a cup of hot water for the 6 shrimp and like 5-7 tablespoons of each into like 3 cups for the larger batch. Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, dump in a couple cups of ice. This way the water won't be so warm as to start cooking your shrimp before you're ready, but it will keep the salt and sugar in solution. Sweet, eh? Now get your shrimp into the brine and put it in the fridge for like 20 minutes. While this is going on, you can cover a cookie sheet in heavy duty foil and put it in the oven under the broiler. Turn on the broiler to get the cookie sheet warmed up. You can also take this time to make your own cocktail sauce if you're so inclined (ketchup, chili sauce, prepared horseradish all in a blender or food processor. I haven't made it, but it should be good.).

Now that your shrimp has had a chance to brine, take it out and pour it off into the colander. Dump it onto some paper towels and wrap it up for a few minutes to let the shrimp dry off a bit. While you're doing this, toss a stainless steel or glass bowl into your freezer to cool down. You'll use this later. Now put the shrimp into a different bowl with some olive oil (not extra virgin, as that would burn under the broiler) and some Old Bay seasoning and toss to coat. You just want a little oil on the shrimp to keep them from sticking and also to help brown the shells a bit. Now you can dump your shrimp onto your half sheet pan (covered in foil so you don't have to scrub shrimpy bits off of it later) and get them spread out into one layer. Shove 'em back under the broiler for two minutes. Pull them out, turn them all, and put them back under the broiler for one minute. Pull them out, put them in your now-frosty bowl, and toss a few times to work off some of the excess heat. This will also help keep them from overcooking. Put the bowl back in the freezer for like 5-6 minutes to let the shrimp cool off to about room temperature (or however you like to eat your shrimp cocktail shrimp) and then pull them out and serve. They should be perfectly cooked, plump, juicy and flavorful. By not boiling them you help keep all of the shrimpalicious flavor inside them, instead of in your cooking water. By cooking with the shells on, you also help protect the meat from the high heat, so your shrimp aren't overdone on the outside, and stay moist and tasty. Brilliant!

The progress portion of the blog comes in the form of EA Sports Active. I've been trying to do my workouts consistently since I got the game, but I slacked a bit this weekend. I'm thinking I'll so Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on the game, leaving Saturday for just jiu-jitsu and Sunday as a total rest day. The game is still very fun, and is working me really hard. I'm ending each session very tired, sore, and sweaty. I really didn't think I could get this good of a workout standing in my family room in front of my TV, but it's very cool. I have to say that using the balance board actually makes some of the exercises easier. There are some games you can play where you have to use it, but others are tougher without. Today I had to do a lot of squat jumps and lunge jumps and I was very nearly unable to finish the last exercise. I also switched my resistance band down one level so I could focus on better technique, and I think that helped a lot, too. The shoulder presses and raises I've been doing are definitely cool. Not the kind of weight I'm used to using, but still working hard enough to feel it. So overall, I still think this game is a viable way to get into shape. Couple the workout with the accountability for doing other activities on a daily basis and tracking your food, water, junk food, sleep, stress, etc. and you really do have a system that helps keep you on track even when you're not actively playing it. If you haven't decided to get it yet, and you're in the market for something along these lines, I am still suggesting it very highly. I'm hoping that I'll have some real results to share in a month or so, but until then we'll just have to go with what I have.

Monday, June 8, 2009

An object chaos

Friday, we went to see "The Hangover." By we, I of course mean my wife and I. I also mean a dozen or so of our friends. And by went, I mean some of us went and some of us didn't, due to various issues. And by Friday, I of course mean Friday. So, because I am inexplicably driven to overcomplicate my life, I decided that a simple trip to see a movie with a couple of friends needed to become a DINNER/MOVIE EXTRAVAGANZA!!!1!!ONE!

You can probably guess why this didn't go precisely as planned. Herding 14+ people to dinner and then a movie when the movie starts at 7:30 and dinner starts at 6:30 is pretty rough. Especially when it's opening night of a popular movie. We ended up with 4 folks who didn't get tickets ahead of time and thus couldn't attend, which was lame. Still, 10 people getting into a movie that's sold out is pretty good. Getting them to sit with each other is amazing. Devon and Rose saved seats for all of us, and they saved them like champions. What was awesome was that the movie was brilliant and terribly funny and just extremely well done all around. What was lame was that we were so rushed to get through everything to get to the movie and all that we ended up not being able to talk to a lot of the folks we had wanted to spend time with. We'll have to set aside time to do some normal, non-extravaganza hanging with the people we didn't get to see, which is also cool.

Saturday, I went to jiu-jitsu which was very cool. I met a guy who does personal training with kettlebells and who offered me a few free sessions. I think that's awesome. I'd love to learn more about kettlebells and make sure I'm using proper technique and all. It also didn't hurt that at least two people in the class again commented on how strong I am, one of them the personal trainer guy. I will say this: I am a sucker for a good compliment. I'm hoping that sooner or later I'll get good enough that people will be complimenting my technique, but I'll take what I can get. After jiu-jitsu, we did our supers game which was a blast as always. Had a long game session with some really neat reveals and good tie-ins of previously foreshadowed stuff. Adj is definitely a masterful game master.

Sunday was our first anniversary! We mostly lounged around all day, just sort of relaxing and all, with plans to go to dinner later in the evening. I finally put together my poleaxe and it's really cool. I'm very pleased with it. Look at how pleased I am.

After making myself some shrimp cocktail (just to make sure I knew how) we got a phone call. We were hoping to go to the Manor House restaurant in Ken Caryl Valley, only to find out that there is no such thing any more. Apparently it is now strictly an event center, the kitchen having been flooded out at some point and never repaired. So that was lame. It's where we went for our first dating anniversary and we were hoping for a kind of romantic symmetry. Alas. We found another place that we've been wanting to try for a while instead. It's called Brook's Steakhouse and it was very good. It's right around the corner from our house and we've seen it a bunch but had never actually gone in to try it. This seemed like a great opportunity, so we gave it a go. It's a very nice place. Wood paneling, brass railings, Sinatra on the radio and a sort of 1950s gentleman's club feel really worked for it. The food was very tasty, and the service was excellent. I'd recommend it heartily, especially right now, as they're having a very good deal on a complete meal for $35/person. The best part is that we got to dress up and be all romantic. Aren't we adorable?

And that was essentially the weekend. Loads of fun, lots of time with friends and with each other, and some darned good food mixed in there as well. Life really doesn't get much better than this, I must say.

Friday, June 5, 2009

EA Sports Active for the Wii

The other day (no, not that one, the other one) Jenna and I became interested in EA Sports Active for the Wii, after she found a review of it online and thought it looked interesting. After watching some reviews and clips and whatnot, we decided it was totally worth getting and ran to Wal-Mart to pick it up. Here's what we've found so far:

EA Sports Active is what WiiFit should've been. Let me compare and contrast these bad boys for you.

First, WiiFit involves the balance board, the Wiimote, the Nunchuk and your very own personal body. EA Active involves these things plus a resistance band and a leg holster thingy. Adding a resistance band means you add...wait for it...resistance! Anyone who's done even a minimal amount of research into health and human physiology knows that resistance-based exercises are really good for you and are totally necessary for good health. Can you get resistance by doing pushups, situps, stretches or leg lifts? Yup. Can you get better results by doing these same motions with increased resistance? Yup. Even though I'm not a fan of the band EA included with the game (I feel like I'm going to break it) you can easily exchange a heavier band or whatever if you like (which I did). Doing shoulder press with the weight of the Wiimote? Lame. Doing them with a decent resistance band makes a world of difference as far as your workout goes. The leg band thingy is pretty neat. It helps the game determine how hard you're running based on your leg movement, or how deeply you're squatting, or whether you're doing your lunges properly. It just barely fits around my Herculean man-thighs but it still works. You just have to get it strapped pretty tight and pretty high so it doesn't slide down while you're doing stuff. I like this feature because about half of my workout shorts don't have pockets, so I ended up just holding the Wiimote in my hand for WiiFit jogging. That gives a fair indication of how much my right arm is moving, but pretty much none on whether my legs are moving. With EA Active, you have the Wiimote in your hand and the Nunchuk attached to your leg, so the game requires you to be moving your upper and lower body together to get your character running on screen. It's a much better method, I think.

That's the first thing. Here's the second thing: setting up a workout in advance and just rolling through the exercises keeps your heart rate up and provides a much stronger workout. With WiiFit, you pick an exercise and then do the exercise. When it's over, you head back to the menu and find another exercise you'd like to try, then pick it and do it. With each exercise lasting no more than a minute or two, that's a lot of heading back to the menu. It kills your momentum in a big way, and it lets your heart rate drop way too much. EA Active has set workout routines based on time and intensity (20 minutes easy/med/hard, 60 min easy/med/hard, etc.) and allows you to customize your own workouts. If you have bad knees, you can kick out any exercise that involves jumping. If you want to work on upper body, you can build your own all upper body workout program, and even include short jogs at the beginning and end for warmup and cooldown. Having a workout set up in advance means less time spent fiddling around with the game before you can get going. To me, that means a few more minutes of sleep in the morning, but it also means am ore efficient workout.

Here's the third thing: WiiFit is freakin' mean to you. I'm a dude with a pretty thick skin, but if I have to hear "You're obese!" in a little electronic game voice every day, that's going to kill my desire to play that game very quickly. I'm not obese. I'm 6'3" and 250 pounds. I'm not the skinniest person in most any room, but I'm also not the person in the worst shape in most any room. I'm a guy with a large frame with a reasonable amount of muscle and some extra fat mostly in my middle region. WiiFit is based on BMI, which is the single stupidest system of health rating I've ever heard of. Anyone with even a decent amount of muscle on their frame will come up as overweight. Anyone with a large frame with muscle and maybe a bit more fat than they'd like will come up as obese. That's lame. If they could incorporate any other system of measuring your body type into the mix, it would be infinitely superior to the way it is now. Add in a wrist circumference to get a concept of frame size, or add in a body shape matching system or something, but straight BMI is terrible. EA Active is very encouraging, which is nice. I'm not going to be riding high all day because my electronic trainer said "You really nailed that lunge! Way to go!" but I'm also not going to be pissed at the game for calling me names. It's not a huge deal, but it makes a difference to me. Even if I got down to the ideal weight for my body type, with a body fat percentage somewhere around 9% and a goodly amount of muscle, WiiFit would keep telling me that I'm overweight or obese every day. That's not cool.

The last thing, and something I think is extremely important, is that WiiFit thinks that your posture and balance are the keys to your health. They don't seem to worry much about strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, or any of the other aspects of health, they just focus on balance. Since the game is designed to be used with the Wii balance Board and balance is just about the only thing it can measure, I'm sort of okay with it as a known weakness going in. But with a system designed to help increase fitness, there's only so much you can tell with balance. EA Active actually rates your caloric burn rate based on your stats and the exercise you're doing. EA Active takes a much more American view of fitness, I think is the main difference. You're not just standing in one place leaning, or working as hard as you can to stand perfectly still (there's an intense workout for you) you're actually moving, doing fun things, and working hard. When I've done the EA Active 30 minute hard course, I end up sweaty and tired, almost as sweaty and tired as I feel after an intense jiu-jitsu class. That's an extremely difficult thing to do with a game and EA Active manages well. I don't like to do a workout that feels like a waste of time. I like to work out very hard for as short a period of time as possible, to get my workout done efficiently and effectively. If I can get a solid workout with a resistance band and a video game without even having to leave my house, I'm all for it.

So anyway, those are my thoughts. EA Active may be what WiiFit should've been, but I do think WiiFit was a necessary precursor to EA Active. WiiFit is still fun, and it does have some worthwhile games and stuff. It actually has a pretty decent yoga trainer, if you're interested in that sort of thing. I just wouldn't get WiiFit expecting it to get you in shape unless you're willing to spend a lot of time and energy just trying to spend a lot of energy. EA Active is the shortest path to the same goal, and I think you'd see a much greater change after a month with EA Active than you would with WiiFit. You also wouldn't have any deep seated self esteem issues stemming from your video game calling you a fatty.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A really great idea I wish I had

My friend Jacob's Blog

In this blog, Jacob suggests something brilliant: a teaching exchange. I teach you an hour's worth of something I know and you teach me an hour's worth of something you know. Sounds really easy, right? That's because it freakin' is! it's a great way to share your knowledge and get something cool in return. The main key is knowing something worth trading, and having something you'd like to know. The other thing is to have somewhere to post up what you know and what you'd like to learn so other people can come see it. That's something I'd like to work on. I'm going to see if I can find a website or Facebook app or something that will do this, and then I'll post a link on this blog.

For now, here are the things I can teach:

Proper gun handling and cleaning
Handgun shooting
Rifle shooting (less so)
Shotgun shooting
Glass Etching
Sewing from a pattern
Creating a custom pattern and sewing it
Basic Leatherworking
Loose Wool Felting
Filemaker Pro
Deltek Costpoint
Basic Computer Construction
Basic Snowboarding
Basic Skiing
Basic Metal Working
Basic Wood Working
Basic Lindy Hop Swing Dancing
English Grammar
Cooking (very generalized, only a few recipes, no actual culinary knowledge)
Basic Self-Defense (I'll feel better about teaching this after I have some more jiu-jitsu classes under my belt, but I know enough to get someone started at least.)

Whew! I think that's everything. I may come up with more, but that's a good start at least. Here are the things I'd be interested in learning:

Any craft
Any form of fine art
Any language
Any martial art
Any sport
Any computer programming language
Any other thing you can think of

I'm sort of weird when it comes to learning. I like all of it. I should be pretty easy to please with this stuff, so if you have any ideas for things you can teach and you'd like to exchange some knowledge, please let me know!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Back on Top

Trivia last night was really fun. Charlie came out again, which was very cool. We also won first place, which makes everything awesome. The food at Moe's is really good, too. I've also noticed that there is a lot more food for the money than we had at the Celtic. The food is also super tasty, if you're into barbecue (which I am). Their ribs were excellent, with just a bit of tang and not too much spice. I think I may try the half chicken next time, since AJ and Jenna seemed to enjoy it. Their cornbread is also really good. There's some kind of pepper mixed into the batter and then I think they fry the outside or something, but it's freakin' delicious. I'm slowly getting used to the idea of not being at the Celtic anymore, but it's taking a bit. When I switch over to advanced jiu-jitsu classes (probably after July 4th, if all goes according to plan) I'm going to see if everyone's cool with switching trivia to Wednesday nights at the Rio near Park Meadows. It's closer, the food should be pretty tasty and it'll mean Jenna can come with us to the pre-quiz dinner time instead of eating after we've all finished. We'll see.

Here's the link to the official blog, if you're interested: I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!

The blog title refers to Gone With the Wind, the theme for one of the rounds. We freakin' aced it. More accurately, Jenna freakin' aced it. She was like a tiny beautiful trivia machine. I knew a few things this time, which was cool. We really had some trouble with the last round, but managed to hold on enough to win by 8 points. Sweet!

*Edit* Based on currently available results, we would have gotten first in any venue that had this quiz last night. Rock.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why can't I just pound chicken properly?!

Okay, I'm a little frustrated. I tried to make my fancy, experimental stuffed chicken parmesan last night. It was a brilliant idea, I thought, and wouldn't be too tough to carry out. How wrong I was! I got a new pounder specifically to be able to pound chicken for this particular dish. I have been thinking about it and planning it for a good long while. More or less, it's exactly the same as regular chicken parmesan, except that you pound the chicken flat, and wrap it around a stick of string cheese before rolling it in breading. Easy, right? It should've been! Instead, I was almost completely unable to flatten my chicken. I hit it a lot and with a fair amount of force, and it just wouldn't flatten past a certain point. I was hesitant to really let fly both because I live in an apartment and a horrific banging might be unpleasant for the neighbors but also because I wanted the chicken to be flat, not exploded.

Anyone have any tips on flattening chicken without making it unrecognizable?

Friday, May 29, 2009

My martial arts journey

This is a tough blog post to write, primarily because of an aberration of memory that renders me nearly incapable of holding onto anything other than the most vague impressions of my own life experiences. I don't know why this started or what I can hope to do about it, but I'll attempt to press through it and come up with some kind of vaguely cohesive storyline.

I was something of a bully in my younger years. I'm not proud of it, but that's how it was. I was a fairly large kid and not given to asking nicely or waiting patiently. Why should I wait for the toy when I can knock that kid over and take it right now? Thankfully, this didn't last terribly long. By the time I got to 1st or 2nd grade I was mostly done with it, and got into my "unpopular kid" phase. I wasn't actively picked on too much until middle school, and it got pretty bad at that point. Still, I never defended myself in any meaningful way (aside from one rather bizarre and totally ineffectual "fight" in 7th grade).

I had always been interested in fighting, as most American boys are, and used to play with guns and knives and grenades (all fake, of course) when I was younger. As I got older, I was still interested in weapons and fighting, but my mom never thought I would stick with martial arts, so I never tried it. I played a lot of other sports (poorly) but never really felt like I fit in with the people there. I was always a bit too slow, or clumsy, or nerdy, or whatever. I had a few friends, but they were all better at sports than I was, and even though we shared other interests, I wasn't ever quite cool enough to be a jock. I also wasn't satisfied being a total nerd without any prospects of popularity or dating or whatever else.

Finally, I convinced my mom that I would enjoy martial arts and that I would stick with them. We found a school that taught Hawaiian Kenpo. I really did well. It was the first physical activity where I actually showed significant promise. I really liked the style, too. We learned standard Japanese and Chinese martial arts techniques (kicks, punches, blocks, etc.) but there was also some grappling and some kickboxing involved. It wasn't nearly as in depth as you'd get from studying jiu-jitsu or muay thai specifically, but it was enough to give you at least a decent impression of the different arts. I really enjoyed the stand up fighting, but I seemed to do better at ground fighting. No idea why, I just caught on more quickly.

Fast forward several years. I have continued training pretty consistently through high school, and have even started teaching a number of classes. As I get into my senior year, I get more and more involved in theatre and debate and spend less time at the dojo. I didn't really think about it at the time, but if I had been better about going to classes, I probably could have made even quicker progress. In any case, that was when my sensei, the man who had taught me very nearly everything I knew about martial arts, moved very suddenly to the east coast. Since I hadn't been around very much, I really didn't have any warning. I show up one day and a new teacher is there. The new guy was also pretty great, but he wasn't the same and that really just killed most of my desire to keep training. Couple that with the fact that I was getting ready to go to college and I essentially just stopped going entirely. I was a third degree brown belt at the time, probably 6 months from my first degree black.

In college, I sort of tried to find another school, but I had a lot of other things on my mind. Within the first few months I had found the SCA and shortly after that I started fighting heavy and light, shooting archery, sewing, making armor, etc. I got very busy and the SCA fighting helped me with my desire to keep fighting. I did that for another few years, then sort of faded away from it as I got toward the end of my college career. After graduating, I moved back down to south Denver. I got into an apartment with a friend of mine and we just did normal geeky stuff for a while. After a bit, he and I, both experienced martial artists, and a few other friends of ours who had also studied various arts, decided to get together and start teaching each other what we knew. I had forgotten a lot, but it came back quickly. I concentrated mostly on teaching ground fighting, since I was the only one with much experience at it. it's also easier to practice grappling without punching your friend in the face than it is to practice punching your friend in the face without actually punching him in the face. Does that make sense? Anyway, we did that for a while and were all very pleased. One of the things that became immediately clear was that people who are very good at fighting on their feet can be absolutely terrible at fighting on the ground. It's uncomfortable for them, and they tend to panic and do exactly the wrong thing. They also tend to expend a lot of energy scrambling around and tire themselves out quickly. For this reason alone, I would take any unarmed, one-on-one fight to the ground as quickly as possible. A guy can completely exhaust himself fighting on the ground in a matter of moments, and if you know how to weather that storm and conserve energy, you can really take advantage of his inexperience. So, that was a lot of what we trained. How to maintain good position, a few simple submissions, a few very simple takedowns, etc. It was fun, but it didn't last for very long. We all got busy, several of us got injured, and we eventually stopped.

It was another few years before I decided to start looking for a place to train again. I wasn't really sure what I'd like to learn, but I knew I wanted something practical, where I'd have guys my own size to fight. As a big guy, you really can't learn much if you have to practice on a 14-year old kid or even an average-sized woman. You can practice your techniques and everything, but they will generally always work because your partner simply doesn't have the strength to resist. practicing with another big guy means you have to work for your progress and if you make a technique work it's because you did it properly. So, when I started looking at schools I knew I didn't want one that catered to housewives and their kids (no offense to any housewives) and I didn't want one where the intensity level was something like "Oh hey we're learning some punches today if you feel like punching maybe." I wanted a place where I could train hard and really push myself without being seen as a jerk who was just picking on people. Thankfully, the first place I went, Colorado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was perfect. As soon as I went in there, I felt the exact vibe I wanted. There's a fine line in a martial arts school between being intense about training and being a cesspool of jerks and morons. Everyone in the school was cool, though. They loved the art, they love training, but I haven't met a single person I wouldn't want to see regularly or even hang out with outside of class. They are all very cool, laid-back and fun while still being interested in serious training. I honestly couldn't have picked a better place to go.

So, in any case, this is where I've ended up. I'm truly loving my new classes and looking forward to each and every one. I'm learning a huge amount already, making friends, and hopefully not making too big of a fool of myself. I'm still a total noob, but I'm feeling like I'm picking things up quickly. The depth and breadth of the knowledge in this art is literally mind-boggling, but I've got great teachers and great guys to train with, so I think I'll make progress.

There you have it. Thanks for slogging through that whole thing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Beekeepers...take second?

That's right folks, you heard it here first. We weren't the dominant force at the new site that we'd hoped to be. Let me back up a bit. We got an e-mail yesterday stating that the quiz would no longer be held at the Celtic until further notice. Lame. The new manager there just never seemed to like the idea of the trivia and managed to get us ousted after all. So we had to scramble a bit to find another viable Tuesday night trivia place.

Thankfully, Geeks Who Drink didn't let us down. There's another place just up the road that we can go for Tuesday night trivia called Moe's Original BBQ. It's a barbecue restaurant! No, it's a bar! No, it's a concert venue! No, it's a bowling alley! No, it's ALL OF THOSE THINGS AT ONCE! It's a barbecue restaurant set up like a lunch counter, with a bar situated similarly. There's a concert venue in the back and a bowling alley on the other side of the building. How crazy is that? The cool thing is that the prize they gave (second place scored us the same amount we'd been getting for first at the Celtic) can be used to bowl or for food or whatever. Sweet! Here's the website: Moe's Original BBQ

The quizmaster is pretty cool, but he's got nothing on Travis. Thankfully, I was able to get in touch with Travis and hopefully we can get him to come to the new place with us as a shiny new member of the Beekeepers. We'll see. We've got a lot of folks who want to come out and play, and only 6 spots on the team, so we might have to split into Beekeepers Prime and Beekeepers Secundus or something. In any case, rest assured that you will be kept informed through this blog, this window unto the glorious world that is my life. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Holiday weekend? More like shmoliday shmee...ok, I'll stop.

A three day weekend just means more time for glory. If by glory you mean geeking out with your homies, that is. Friday, just to break up the pattern slightly, we had a quiet evening at home. Those are very fun, and we have all too few of them anymore.

Saturday I went to jiu-jitsu again and had a great time. I'm really enjoying it so much. I got my new gi from my instructor and since I am extra-large sized, he only had one that would fit. It happened to be a really nice one, nicer than what they generally give folks. I'm really trying not to ruin it by laundering it incorrectly or anything. I'm desperately afraid that he'll have given me this awesome gi and I'll show up with it shrunken on the left side and all pink or something. After jiu-jitsu, we had our super team game which was a blast as always. It had been three weeks since our last session and I was definitely jonesing for it.

Sunday was a friend's wedding reception, which went very well. I made Deviled Eggs using my food processor and they came out crazy creamy. I think I might have put too much mustard and Miracle Whip in there, but I'll have to see what I think about it for next time. They went like crazy when we actually got to the party, so apparently they weren't too bad. We got to hang out with Becky and Doyle too, which was fantastic. After the reception, we went and saw Star Trek again. That movie just never stops being awesome. I'm imagining this is the last time we'll see it in the theatre, but that's one we'll be buying on blu-ray as soon as possible.

Monday we went to Dave and Jax's place for games and a BBQ, which was slightly messed up because of the torrential downpour nature decided we needed. Thankfully they have a cool balcony with an overhang so it wasn't too bad to grill up some hot dogs and brats. We hung out there for like 5-6 hours and then headed out to dinner at TGI Friday's which was also very fun. I crashed out early, I'm thinking because driving in the rain was really exhausting. There was so much water on the road it took a lot of control to keep the car going where I wanted it.

In any case, it was a very full, very fun weekend. Jenna and I managed to play racquetball a few times which is always a lot of fun. I'm hoping that we can keep doing that when we don't have ballet or jiu-jitsu, or even afterward if we're feeling energetic. We got Antonia groomed today, too, which is a major victory. She looks absolutely ridiculous now, with her entire body shaved very short but her head, tail and legs all still fluffy. She seems happy though, and she's much cleaner and will be easier to take care of. She even smells actively nice for the first time in a long time.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A festival of awesome

Tuesday, as always, was a festival of awesome for the Gentlemen Beekeepers. We got to stay together this time, as there were three teams total. We still won, of course, but the really interesting part was getting to play in the back room. It's like a smoking lounge or something, and it was just much cooler and cozier than playing out in the main area of the bar. We also finished the night with a James Lipton-esque sort of interview thing. For the transcript, head to the Geeks Who Drink Blog. In case you're keeping track, this is indeed our seventh week in a row of getting first place. One week we got first and second place. That's just silly.

Last night, I went to my second jiu-jitsu class. It wasn't as physically tiring as the last class, but there was a lot of focus on technique. I can say that I'm hooked. I really want to keep going, so I plan to go tonight and sign up for something more permanent. I'm still incredibly impressed with the quality of the teachers there. They're very calm, kind and knowledgeable. I'm constantly amazed at how much there is to know about rolling around on the ground. Everything they're teaching is something that could realistically come up in a fight, and knowing multiple options from a given position lets you respond at the appropriate level based on your situation.

That's about it, really. I'll keep you guys informed if anything new comes up.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Clicking for fun and profit

I realize that I've used the term clicker training, given some theory about it and some background about it and will likely be talking your collective ear off about it for a while to come, so I should probably lay out what exactly it is, and what it isn't. Keep in mind that I am no expert. I'm just going to be explaining my understanding of clicker training based on what I've seen and read. My knowledge will hopefully keep growing as I read more and especially once I get my own puppy to work with.

Clicker training is a method of teaching your dog what you want it to do. You associate the click sound with a reinforcer (anything that the dog likes enough to work for) at the beginning, so your dog knows that the click means a treat or a pet or some play is coming. The click also marks the exact moment of your approval. If he's sitting and you click, he knows you like it when he's sitting. This is extremely helpful because reinforcement only works when you reinforce at the exact moment the animal is doing what you want. If a dog sits and you treat a few seconds later after he's already standing, he thinks you like him standing. The click tells the dog that he did something good and a treat is coming. It frees you from having to get a treat into his mouth at the exact right moment. It also lets you teach him the behavior you want before you assign a verbal cue to it. You're clicking and treating for him sitting down without ever having said "sit" to him until he already knows how to do it. This really helps keep the dog from getting confused by your verbal cues, and it prevents you from having to say them over and over again. Once is enough because he's not learning how to sit and learning what "sit" means at the same time. He's learning how to sit, and then associating the sound you make with that action. You can also use physical cues, or even train your dog to do something without a cue from you at all. I was reading one book where the author had taught her dog to close cabinet doors whenever he found them open, and to lower the toilet lid when he saw it up.

Clicker training is also a set of principles, namely that positive punishment (introducing things the dog doesn't like when he does something wrong) and negative reinforcement (taking away things the dog doesn't like when he does something right) hinder learning and slow down progress. It can be used with any animal to teach any behavior that the animal is physically and mentally capable of doing. I've seen videos of people using clicker training to do some amazing things, and all without having to hit the dog, or spray him with water or anything else. You reward him for good behavior and ignore bad behavior. Since a lot of bad behavior is merely an attempt to get attention (parents know this well), they learn that bad behavior doesn't get them what they want, but good behavior does. They stop offering bad behaviors because they learn that they don't gain anything from them.

This differs from classical or Pavlovian conditioning in that the dog is making choices. He chooses to sit when you tell him to, because he knows that he gets what he wants by giving you what you want. It's not like ringing a bell and having him drool involuntarily, it's more like ringing a bell and having him know that means you want him to turn in circles, and then doing so. The dog in clicker training is an agent. He has free will and is choosing to do something, not being turned into a robot or anything creepy.

Some of this is still something I'm working on and curious about. I think that you have to interrupt bad behavior with something good in order to stop something dangerous or destructive (some behaviors are their own reward, like barking and chewing). I'm still doing research, but it seems that you can generally teach a dog not to exhibit a certain behavior by teaching them what you would like them to be doing (being calm and quiet, peeing outside, chewing on appropriate toys)instead of only showing them what you don't want them to be doing (chewing on inappropriate things, barking, peeing in the house) and leaving what you do want a mystery.

Doggie go walkies?

As I'm certain I've mentioned here before, Jenna and I are looking to get a puppy. We've decided on an Autralian Terrier. This is what they look like:

They're pretty small, only about 15-20 pounds (the breed standard says 12-14, but they've grown much bigger than that over the years) and less than a foot to the shoulder. Every description I've found of them says they're one of the calmer, less bark-prone, easier to train terriers out there. That suits me just fine. The fact that they do obedience and agility trials also makes me think they're probably smart enough for me to train one pretty well.

Speaking of training, I've really dug into the world of dog behavior recently. I'm still only on the surface, but I'm trying to learn about several different methods of training, to see what makes sense and how the different philosophies treat similar behavior. I'm extremely interested in clicker training, first off. As soon as I saw the simply amazing things people could get their pets to do without hitting them, yelling at them or intimidating them, I was hooked. I don't like the idea of a 240 pound dude (me, and yes I need to jog or something) standing over a 20-pound dog ready to hit him for something. If he bit my wife or one of our theoretical children, I'd take him down, but short of that, he's a freakin' puppy. What does he know? He knows what I teach him, and his failures are my failures as an owner and as alpha male of my family pack. So that's a lot of why I like the clicker method. it's a subset of operant conditioning, which is differentiated from classical or Pavlovian conditioning in that the animal is making choices to perform behaviors based on reinforcement. Pavlovian conditioning creates a reflexive, involuntary response (salivating the the sound of a bell, for example) which is okay if you want your dog to drool on command, but not if you want him to close the toilet lid if he sees it open (something you can teach with clicker training, since it allows him to make decisions).

I also started looking into Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer) and his training philosophy. I've watched some of his show, and the speed with which he fixes problem dogs is astounding. People have worked with these animals for months or years, thinking they'll have to be put down, hearing vets and other trainers say the dog is beyond help, and Cesar swoops in and solves the problem in 10 minutes or so. It is incredibly impressive and makes for very good television. He also deals a lot with very aggressive dogs, which adds excitement and all that to the show. His primary philosophy is that you should be the pack leader of your house. Many people have dogs who think they are the leader and it results in lots of really bad behavior. Part of being the pack leader is having "calm/assertive" energy, and forcing your dog into "calm/submissive" energy. I don't know how the scale actually goes, but I've heard other splits like "excited/dominant" or "excited/aggressive" so there may be more to the scale than I'm aware of. Essentially, you show the dog you're the boss, he does what you say. This is different than training, which is an important distinction. Training is about giving commands or cues and having them followed. This is about the hierarchy within the home. No amount of training will succeed when the dog is the pack leader. Some dogs only misbehave in certain situations, meaning that they listen well when in the home but are extremely aggressive outside the home. This is a similar issue.

Now, for my thoughts: Every dog Cesar works with gets a choke chain, pinch collar or even improvised slip knot collar. Every single one (that I've seen so far anyway, which is like 20), whether their problem is something as simple as spinning around in circles for no reason or whether they are large, aggressive dogs. Personally, I don't like that. I know the pressure from the chain is supposed to represent the teeth of a dominant dog establishing control, and it certainly appears to work, but I just can't get into it. You can tell that he isn't torturing these dogs or choking them out or anything, but I'm still not a fan. While that isn't my favorite thing, there are some great things he does. He is very big on watching what you're rewarding, which is a big thing in clicker training as well. Your dog freaks out, gets excited or angry and you smother him with affection and praise? Guess what you just trained him to do! You're rewarding behavior you don't want, thinking you can reassure your dog with cooing and stroking like you could a person. You can't. Dogs are reassured when their pack leader is calm and strong and in control of the situation. They take emotional cues from you. This is something else Cesar does very well. he projects calm, assertive energy. Projecting energy sounds a bit too much like a hadoken for my tastes, but the principle is solid. Dogs communicate through body language, scent, etc. If you're frightened, your dog knows it. If you're calm and in control, your dog knows that, too. When your dog gets scared or excited or freaked out, the best thing you can do is to be calm and relaxed, not all excited and worried like they are.

So, if there are things I can learn from Cesar, it's that your dog senses and responds to your energy, so you need to be aware of what you're displaying to your dog. Also, like with clicker training, your dog will exhibit the behaviors that you reinforce, whether they're good or bad. I also think that being the clear pack leader is important, and I'm hoping to read some info on how to do that using only positive behavior.

Here's some more info on clicker training, as developed by Karen Pryor. In operant conditioning, there are four categories of response to behavior. You can use positive reinforcement(PR) (introduction of something reinforcing to the environment), negative reinforcement(NR) (taking away something aversive from the environment), positive punishment(PP) (introduction of something aversive to the environment) or negative punishment(NP) (removing something reinforcing from the environment). A reinforcer is something the subject likes, so it could be food, praise, attention, or even something like playing with a favorite toy, or being able to continue forward on a walk. An aversive is something the animal doesn't like, so it could be a slap, a loud noise, or a bad taste. Examples of the four responses are giving a treat or petting (PR), turning off a loud buzzing sound or releasing the pressure on a choke chain (NR), smacking or introducing a bad taste (PP) and taking away a favorite toy, or ceasing play and petting (NP). Clicker training, as defined by Pryor, uses only Positive Reinforcement and Negative Punishment. You're introducing positive things or taking away positive things. This method is used in zoos and aquariums a lot, because you can't very well smack a killer whale when he does something wrong. He'll either swim away or murder you where you stand. For a good explanation of the difference between clicker training and training using a clicker (with positive punishment and negative reinforcement still in the mix), check out this video: Clicker Training vs. Training with a Clicker

Here are some books I'm reading and videos I'm watching, so you know where I'm getting my information. Again, please note that I haven't actually put anything into practice yet, this is based purely on my research.

Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor

The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell

Kikopup on Youtube

Monday, May 18, 2009

Many things

Hello again, everyone. We had another exceptionally busy weekend, as is becoming our habit, but it was still very fun. We had a sushi/movie night on Friday that was really fun, then some jiu-jitsu and house hunting on Saturday. Sunday was our Rifts game, which involved some cleaning and some cooking. More on each of these as we progress.

Friday was awesome. We had 10 people at Samurai Sushi, which was really cool. I didn't think we'd end up with that many making it, but everything worked out. Everyone really seemed to enjoy the food, too. We ended up ordering way too much and all of us had to stuff ourselves to capacity to get it all finished. The food was still super tasty, though. Their teriyaki sauce is really good. It's very thick and sweet. It worked well on beef, chicken and salmon. This trip, I already knew which sushi I liked, though i did find a new tasty roll called the chicago roll. That was super good. other than that, I spent most of my evening trying different entrees to see what I liked best. Really, what I like is a little bit of a lot of different entrees. Tonkatsu and chicken katsu are still very good, the teriyaki meats were all delicious, but I wasn't a big fan of the yakisoba or the yakiniku. There's still plenty that I really enjoy to justify the AYCE meal. I just wish they offered the keystone roll on the AYCE, but I can survive without it. I just need like a dozen pieces of unagi and I'm good to go.

We also saw Star Trek again. Unfortunately, it was late and I was in a sort of sushi coma, so I was fading in and out of consciousness a bit toward the beginning. I went out and got some popcorn and soda (yes, even as full as I was, I managed to pack a bit more in) under the theory that I can't fall asleep while actively eating food. This kept me solid for the rest of the movie, at least. I spent this viewing paying a lot more attention to the actors themselves, watching for subtleties of performance that got lost in the action and story the first time. Everyone really did do an incredible job. This is one of the best sci-fi movies in recent memory, I think. I'd put it up there with Iron Man, even.

Saturday, I woke up early-ish and went to jiu-jitsu class to try it out and see how I liked it. It was really awesome. The guy teaching is freakin' fantastic, very skilled at both the art and at teaching. He's really nice and everything, too. I was a bit worried about getting into a room with that many guys practicing fighting and having some or all of them be jerks who just wanted to flex nuts. There was none of that at all, which is pretty incredible. The workout I got from the class was also pretty amazing. there were several times when I thought I might throw up from exhaustion and we weren't even doing anything that tough. I'm just really not used to moving my body that much, that quickly. It really does take you to a whole different level of working out, beyond what you can do running or biking or anything. it's morel ike swimming, I guess. Your whole body is working all at once. Unfortunately, the goal is that you're supposed to be using as little energy as possible, which means I'm not doing it very well. Still, it's a lot of fun and I think I'll really enjoy it a lot. I'm planning to head back as soon as I can to get some more info and try another class.

After that, we went out house hunting. We found a place we really like. It's as old as I am, but it's a good-sized house on a nice big lot and the layout has so many options for improvements and stuff. There's some work to be done to it, but nothing we can't handle. The back yard is also amazingly well set up for what we'd like to do back there anyway. The whole thing is pretty incredible. I'll post more when we get more info on how it's likely to turn out as far as getting the loan for it.

Sunday, we cleaned the house and then folks came over for our Rifts game. I think the game itself went really well this week. We're working on some issues with the players figuring out the system and all, and getting ourselves working together well. I think we're making very good progress, though.

I made a meatloaf this week. It turned out pretty well, but the texture wasn't as consistent as I'd like. I think it would also work better as two smaller loaves than one giant loaf. It would cook faster, too.

Here's how it went: 2.25 pounds of ground sirloin, with 1 pound of ground chuck. I may go half and half next time, but that may end up being too greasy. I also put in one egg, 1 cup of bread crumbs, some worcestershire sauce, about a cup of diced onions, three cloves of garlic, half a can of tomato sauce (the little 8-oz one) and a few pinches of kosher salt. I tossed in some more generalized italian seasonings, too. I mixed that all up and formed a loaf of it on some wax paper on a cookie sheet. I glazed it with some glaze I made from some ketchup, some chili sauce, the rest of the can of tomato sauce, some worcestershire sauce and some honey. The glaze was very tasty. I finally got to use my probe thermometer! Set it to 155º and let it roll in a 325º oven. It took a while, but came out cooked well.

Here are my thoughts for next time: Maybe more bread crumbs, or ground up croutons (an Alton Brown suggestion) and less onion. I think I'll also cook the onion first before putting it into the meatloaf. It didn't cook well in the mix, and it threw off the texture a bit. As much as I'd like to improve on it, one of my guests did say it was the best meatloaf she'd ever had, and that she had never liked meatloaf before. I think I've gotten that response several times now, actually. It always makes me feel like I'm doing at least pretty well.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Ah, I remember the lazy autumn days of my childhood, when the family would pile into the old station wagon and drive out to the dog fields. If you searched long and hard, you could find some truly phenomenal puppies out there, right off the puppy bush. Those days are long gone now, I fear. If you want to find a dog, you'd better be prepared to spend some time and money in your search.

The first step to picking a dog is deciding on the breed. This covers a large number of the most basic questions, such as size, shedding, energy level, trainability, etc. Once you've narrowed down a few breeds, then you have to start looking at the particulars, such as coat texture (long? short? harsh? soft?), the sound of their bark, life expectancy, how good they are with kids (many behavioral qualities can be significantly altered with training and socialization, but you're never going to trust an unsupervised Bull Mastiff with a toddler), how good they are with other pets, how tolerant they are of temperature extremes, and more. Now you should be getting down to just a few breeds. The next step is to meet some of the dogs. Visit several breeders if you can, and see their full-grown dogs of different ages. See some puppies if possible. Talk to owners. Read stuff on the internet, and check out youtube for videos of the dog in action. You can even borrow breed-specific books from the library more often than not. If you're noticing a pattern here, the pattern is preparation and forethought. Any moron loser freak can go to the puppy store and pick the cute one. In fact, that is precisely how puppy stores stay in business. But it's not the way to pick your new family member. This dog is going to be with you most likely from 10-15 years, maybe longer. They will need regular care and maintenance, they may have medical problems or behavioral problems and you need to know what you're getting into beforehand.

Incidentally, this is also my issue with getting dogs from shelters. I know everyone says it's the only humane thing to do, and if you don't do it, you're a horrible person with evil in your face and they hate you forever and ever and HOW CAN YOU KILL ALL THOSE DOGS YOU BASTARD?! I know. Here's my point: I'm bringing this dog into my home. He's going to be around me and my friends and my children for a very long time. I want to know absolutely as much as I can about him before I make that choice. I want to meet his mom and dad. I want to meet his brothers and sisters. I want to see the full range of possibilities for health and behavior issues within the breed. I want to be as sure as possible that this dog will be a joy to us and we to it from the moment it steps into the house until the moment we bury it in a shoebox in the front yard. At night. With torches. Also some chanting. For me, the worst thing in the world would be for me to take that dog out of the shelter, bring him home, and find out that he's got some major issue and we can't keep him. I don't have it in me to take the dog to the shelter, I don't think. I'm not some moron loser freak who is going to go buy a dog from a puppy store and take it to the shelter when I find out "the dern thing poops!" I'm also not a jerk who is going to mistreat a dog, really screw it up psychologically, and then dump it at the shelter for the next person to take home and realize it's now almost useless in every capacity. I also don't want to get a dog that someone else bought from a puppy mill and then took to the shelter, now having no idea whether the thing has been screened for genetic defects or even properly cared for by a vet. It's a gamble I don't care to take. If you want to get a used dog, that's your choice. For me and my family, I'm going to take every precaution I can think of to make sure we get a dog that we will love and that will love us for as long as we have it in our home. End of that discussion.

Now that you've narrowed it down to one breed, you have a choice to make. Or rather you have a choice to make a choice but you don't have to make a choice if you don't want to choose. All clear, then? Essentially, dogs are a natural product. You can't put in an order for four males, four females, half black half white and all healthy and expect consistent results. If you're dealing with a good breeder, chances are good they've got a line for this litter, and you're at the back. If they get seven males and one female, and they've got three people in line ahead of you who asked for a female, you don't get one from this litter. If you specify sex and color, you could be in for a very long wait. It isn't bad, it's just something to consider. Personally, I like the idea of a neutered male dog. They're very well-behaved, are generally easy to train, and get along well with other dogs and pets. This obviously isn't always the case, but it seems to be common. Really though, the differences between the spayed/neutered sexes isn't all that great. The guys are easier to neuter, and you can do it earlier, I'm told. Really, this is something to ask your breeder. Find out what they suggest. If they suggest anything other than spaying and neutering, find a new breeder. Most good breeders actually have a spay/neuter contract you have to sign when you get the dog. If you don't spay or neuter, they get the dog back and you get a very stern talking to. How they find out if you've done it is entirely a mystery to me, but the fact that they make a point of it is good. If everyone spayed and neutered and bought from a respectable breeder, we wouldn't have dogs in the shelters. See how that works?

Anyhow, now you've picked a breed, a breeder, a sex (maybe) and you're waiting for your puppy to be born and weaned (hee-hee!). What do you do now?

You read. Watch videos. Talk to people. What about? Training. Because there is very little in this world more annoying than an untrained dog. You come home and your dog jumps around and barks and you think it's very cute (and if your dog weighs 5 pounds, it really is very cute) but everyone else who comes to your house thinks your dog is an asshole and you're an even bigger asshole for not teaching him how to behave. If you're going to buy a dog, the dog comes with several fabulous accessories. First, a poop factory. Second, responsibility. You bought a dog, you have a responsibility to the dog to teach it how to behave. A well-trained dog is a happy dog. They want to make you happy, they want your approval and they want the mental and physical exercise that training gives them. You can use any method you like, but what I'm most intrigued by right now is called clicker training. Very interesting, very scientific. Jenna found a lady on youtube who does really well-made instructional videos about it. You can see some of the amazing things that can be taught using the method, and you can also see how much these dogs and their owner love each other. I think potentially the coolest part of it is that you see someone treating a dog like a dog, not like a tiny furry person. Understanding dog psychology is so important for proper training, and so few people do it well.

In any case, here's the main page for kikopup, the dog trainer: kikopup

I'll be doing more research on positive reinforcement/negative punishment techniques for dog training and keeping you all informed about them. Have a good one!