O2 Killer WOD

I inherited this O2 meter from my mother. It's fun to put this thing on at the end of a workout.

I inherited this O2 meter from my mother. It’s fun to put this thing on at the end of a workout.

I inherited an O2 meter from my mother.  It’s fun to put this thing on when you finish a workout.  See photo at right — It said 79%/160 bpm but by the time I got out my phone and snapped the picture, both numbers had quickly started to normalize.  You can get these things for about $50.00 at Walgreens.

If you’re into working out, oximeters are super for making sure that you keep your heart rate within safe limits, for downshifting into and maintaining optimal fat burning heart rate, etc. etc.  Lots cheaper than those fancy ones that you synch to your phone, wrist watch or other smart fitness tool.

Anyway, here’s the Cabal Fang WOD that sent my oximeter into a tizzy.

30 min. Heavy Bag Dumbbell Conditioner

Set timer for 8 x 2:00/1:00 and select two dumbbells each ≥ 10% body-weight.  Start timer.  Punch heavy bag with good form for 2:00.  When bell rings to start 1:00, pick up dumbbells and complete 13 Pump Curls.  Put down dumbbells and rest for remainder of 1:00.  Next round, kick heavy bag for 2:00 with good form and, when bell rings, pick up dumbbells and complete 13 Squats.  Repeat that 4 more times for a total of 10 rounds — that’s 65 Pump Curls, 65 Squats, and 30 mins of action.

Pot Luck: My Psychic Watch, Social Trees and WODs

Today’s post is a peculiar little potluck of nubbin ends.

Yesterday morning I got out my father’s watch and it gave me goosebumps.  Once a month or so I get out his watch and wear it when I want to look nice.  To my surprise, the watch had stopped at 5:05 AM.  This is the exact time that nurses went to check on my mother and found her to be deceased.   See photo set above.  You will see a photo of the watch and a screenshot of the bounced call where the nursing home tried to reach me a half hour later.  I don’t know what to say, so I’m moving on.

Tree Sketch '96

I sketched this tree on a lunch break back in 1996. Pentel Superball black ink on copy paper.

Also yesterday morning,  I read an article about Peter Wohlleben and his book The Hidden Life of Trees.  According the article,

“[T]rees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.”

 Amazing!  Said it before and I’ll say it again: trees are people too, treants are real, Druids had it right, and people who cut down trees because they don’t want to rake leaves should be pummeled about the head and shoulders with the handles of their axes.

Very very early yesterday morning I had a delightful workout.  Note:  Just because you don’t see a WOD post on this blog doesn’t mean I didn’t work out and/or that you can’t see what I’ve been doing.  My productivity log, which contains all my workouts, is a public Google Doc you can see here.


I use PTDICE for workout inspiration and I take a picture of my dice to help me remember what I did. Just in case I forget before I get a chance to update my log.

Yesterday’s Cabal Fang WOD:¹

  • PTDICE² w/ #20 chain.  AMSAYC in 10 mins of 8 Full Stop Push-ups and 16 Squats (I finished 8 sets) with a 20 lb chain draped around your neck. Calisthenics are the shit.³
  • All-in Heavy Bag Drill.  Place one heavy bag on floor about 2 meters or 6 feet from a second, standing or hanging heavy bag.  Set timer for 8 x 2:00/1:00.  Start timer.  AMSAYC  of 10 max power shots to standing bag, 10 shots to floor bag from mount, lock and roll to bottom position, 10 more shots. Repeat until timer beeps.  Rest 1:00.  Do that 7 more times for a 23-minute sweat extravaganza (24 minutes if you count the final 1:00 rest, but why would you, because the workout is over at the end of Round 8, now isn’t it?)


  1. Cabal Fang is the martial art I founded in 2009 (check it out!) and “WOD” stands for “workout of the day.”
  2. PTDICE are for sale here.  Go get yourself some.
  3. If you like calisthenics, you might enjoy my Calisthenics eBook, The Calisthenics Codex (download it here in any format you like).  By the way,  it’s the #2 calisthenics eBook on Barnes & Noble.

Jerry Lee’s “Last Man Standing”


The cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Last Man Standing”

My mother’s favorite recording artist was Jerry Lee Lewis.  I was raised hearing Jerry Lee on the stereo.  Lots and often.  So, although I’m not a massive fan, I’m still a fan.  I know his catalog very well, really love and can sing along with many of his songs, and respect him very much as an artist who helped define Rock’n’Roll and Country.

Mom passed away a couple of weeks ago, and in the cleaning up process I found a CD in her things — I had given it to her as a gift on her 78th birthday last year.  Mom’s health, and her move into an assisted living facility, had curtailed her ability to dance around with the music blaring, and she hadn’t been able to go out and shop or anything.  So, although the record came out in ’07, she had never heard it until I gave it to her last year — and neither had I until just the other day.


From the CD Jacket of “Last Man Standing” this is the so-called “million dollar quartet.” From left: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis, and Johnny Cash.

The title of this record comes from the fact that, of the four great members of the “million dollar quartet” (see photo at left) only Jerry Lee remains alive today.  His double album The Session is an excellent record, a true milestone.  Last Man Standing is a call back to that collaborative achievement.

Only better.

This is a collection of duets with some of the greatest Rock’n’Roll, Blues, and Country artists ever to step in front of a microphone.  Take a look at the track listing below and see if you don’t see at least a few artists that you love.

Music is very subjective of course, but in my opinion, the only dog on the record is his duet with Kid Rock (they butcher the hell out of Honky Tonk Woman).  But overall, this is an excellent record.  This is Jerry Lee’s highest selling album to date, and that’s true for a reason.

Highly recommended.

Track Num Title/Credit/Length Duet with
1 Rock and Roll (John Paul Jones, John Bonham, James Patrick Page, Robert Plant) – 2:14 Jimmy Page
2 Before the Night Is Over (Benjamin Peters) – 3:39 B. B. King
3 Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen) – 3:55 Bruce Springsteen
4 Evening Gown (Mick Jagger) – 3:57 Mick Jagger and Ron Wood
5 You Don’t Have to Go (James Matcher Reed) – 4:00 Neil Young
6 Twilight (Robbie Robertson and David Campbell) – 2:48 Robbie Robertson
7 Travelin’ Band (John Fogerty) – 2:01 John Fogerty
8 That Kind of Fool (Mack Vickery) – 4:14 Keith Richards
9 Sweet Little 16 (Chuck Berry) – 3:04 Ringo Starr
10 Just a Bummin’ Around (Pete Graves) – 2:43 Merle Haggard
11 Honky Tonk Woman (Jagger/Richards) – 2:21 Kid Rock
12 What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me) (Glenn Sutton) – 2:39 Rod Stewart
13 Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age (Cindy Walker, Bob Wills) – 1:59 George Jones
14 Couple More Years (Dennis Locorriere, Shel Silverstein) – 5:13 Willie Nelson
15 Old Glory (Paul Roberts, Shelby Darnell, Jerry Lee Lewis) – 2:05 Toby Keith
16 Trouble in Mind (Richard M. Jones) – 3:49 Eric Clapton
17 I Saw Her Standing There (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 2:21 Little Richard
18 Lost Highway (Leon Payne) – 2:59 Delaney Bramlett
19 Hadacohl Boogie (Bill Nettles) – 3:18 Buddy Guy
20 What Makes the Irish Heart Beat (Van Morrison) – 4:12 Don Henley
21 The Pilgrim Ch. 33 (Kris Kristofferson) – 3:00 Kris Kristofferson




The Hand of Benediction

Which hand do you use when blessing something — like crossing yourself, blessing a person or object, etc. — and how do you hold the fingers of said hand?  Why should anyone (especially me, since I’m not Catholic or Orthodox) even care?

Well, I have three reasons for seeking insight into this.  A) Very soon I expect to start pursuing some kind of certification for interfaith minister, so I feel I need to know this stuff.  B) I’m into Western Esotericism, I have rituals to do that include blessings and crosses, and I need to know how to hold my hand.  C) Western Esotericism involves pointing at stuff with wands and knives and stuff, and I really don’t like the symbolism.  I’d prefer to use a naked hand.

Use of the right hand seems to be pretty universal.  Finger position, must less so.

Wikipedia has an article on crossing yourself that provides some guidance, but I question the accuracy of the article.  They say that,

“In Russia, until the reforms of Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century, it was customary to make the sign of the cross with two fingers…The enforcement of the three-finger sign was one of the reasons for the schism with the Old Believers whose congregations continue to use the two-finger sign of the cross.”

And yet, if you look at Rasputin in the photo above, he looks like he’s doing some kind of modified tora guchi or Okinawan Karate tiger mouth strike.  Clearly not a two or three-fingered sign of benediction.

Most people I have seen crossing themselves use three fingers of their right hand, as if they are trying to pick up six grains of rice.   Why?  I have not a clue.  But, according to this article, the traditional hand of benediction in use by the Catholic Church today was invented because Pope Peter had nerve damage.

In the end, I don’t think it matters all that much, so I’m going with the relaxed-two-finger-point.  If anyone has reliable information on this topic, any salient input at all, even a strong opinion one way or the other, please comment below!

Sanders, Snow, Icicles, Silliness and so On

This is me holding my giant mallet. I made it for working out, not for Donkey Kong cosplay.

This is me holding my giant mallet. I made it for working out, not for Donkey King cosplay.

I never write silly posts, which is weird because in person I’m often silly (especially with the kids and grandkids).  For some reason, when I pick up a pen or sit down in front of a keyboard, I shift into academic mode.

But last week was really sad, and I feel the need to write something silly and have a smile.  So now for something completely different.

One little bit of seriousness before we get silly.  As Chas Clifton pointed out in his comments on my post, it’s the youth we need to motivate to vote, not grandma and gramps.  So this Friday I’m throwing a “register to vote” party for my daughter’s friends who are turning 18 this year.  I’m buying food and providing them with voter registration forms, envelopes, and stamps.  And Bernie Sanders literature.  If we don’t vote for him in the primary we might not be able to beat Trump.


“Ralphie, you’re lucky it didn’t cut your eye! Those icicles have been known to kill people.”

Above you will notice a picture of yours truly holding a giant mallet that I made.  The moment I finished it and picked it up I was in hysterics.  Frankly, I’m surprised I was able to work out with the thing.  I mean, it’s so frickin’ comical, right?

And check out the incredibly sharp icicle.  Are you kidding me?  This is what Ralphie’s mom was talking about in A Christmas Story !

I have a love/hate relationship with the Star Wars franchise (loved it as a younger person but it increasingly grates on my Moorcockian sensibilities) so I’m throwing in a little potshot.

Now check out this Cher-themed tweet by way of my friend Charles:

Did you know that Dean Strang (one of the attorneys defending probably-framed-convicted-murderer Stephen Averyis considered by some to be a sex symbol?  I kind of get it.  I mean, he’s very open with his feelings, seems genuine, driven, and clearly doesn’t have any issues with commitment.  Watch him in action.   Oops, for a minute there I almost got serious!

And for my fellow martial artists, always be prepared to defend yourself against fruit.

All silliness has now been concluded.  I now return this blog to its originally scheduled program already in progress.

The Ziggurat Workout

ZiggI came up with this new thing I’m calling a ziggurat, and it really seems to be improving my endurance.  What is it?

Well, if you’re following this blog at all, you know what a pyramid is in workout terms — that’s when you perform an exercise(s) in increasing reps up to a peak, then back down to the beginning.  A full pyramid to 10 of Bodybuilders is 1 of each, 2 of each, 3, 4, 5, etc. up to 10 of each, then 9, 8, 7, 6, etc. down to 1.  That would be 100 Bodybuilders (and a decent little workout!).  A half pyramid to 10 would get you to the peak without the descent, a total of 55 reps.

A ziggurat is slightly different.  In architectural terms, a ziggurat is a stepped pyramid in the ancient Mesopotamian style, like my adorable little drawing up there at the top (you like that? I did that with Paint — booyah, in yo face with my mad art skills!).  In workout terms, what I’m calling a ziggurat is a stepped pyramid for time instead of for reps.  I use :30 (30 second) increments.

Here a couple of ziggurat examples:

Heavy bag Speed Ziggurat.  Punch and/or kick heavy bag as fast as you can for :30 then rest for :30.  Then 1:00/:30, followed by 1:30/:30, 2:00/:30, and finally 2:30/:30 and back down again.  Total = 16.5 minutes.

Ground ‘n’ Pound Power Ziggurat.  Put your heavy bag on the floor, assume mount position, and punch, hammer and elbow the bag as hard as you can for :30 then rest for :30.  Then 1:00/:30, followed by 1:30/:30, 2:00/:30, and finally 2:30/:30 and back down again.  Total = 16.5 minutes.

Try one.  They make you breathe like nobody’s business!

More Spiritual Evolution


This is a painting I did a couple of years ago entitled “Homo vesica piscis” (Acrylic on canvas, 8″ x 10″)

Your Spiritual Evolution Starts Now” is one my more popular posts and also one of my personal favorites because, in one little 300-word essay, I express the seed of an incredible idea — a Unified Evolutionary Theory that encompasses both scientific and spiritual evolution.

What my theory expresses is simple.  Fish wanted food that was on land.  They splashed in the shallows, used their flippers to skip in the mud, and 65 million years later, they had legs.  Fish became amphibians which became reptiles which became mammals and now there are people.  In other words, you don’t walk around because you have legs.

You have legs because you want to walk around.  And you are not going to have wings unless and until you desire to fly.  This is immensely powerful stuff as it is.  But in this followup post I want to expand the idea somewhat.

Sure, the first fish who took it a little too far must’ve died flopping on dry land.  But there is nonetheless hope for each of us within a miraculous gestalt, a great and grand holistic process of which each of us is a part.

This great and grand process is about more than fish becoming amphibians becoming reptiles becoming mammals becoming humans.  It encompasses matter we normally consider inert and “non-living.”  Water and minerals, the so-called “primordial soup” of a billion years ago, produces monomers which become organic polymers which become amino acids which become microorganisms which become tiny creatures which become fish, and so on.   Matter has desire also.  It wants to live.

Matter wants to live not just as biological life but as cosmological life.  The dust of the universe wants to coagulate to form planets, and planets with enough mass want to become stars so they can illuminate other planets and enable.  Silicon wants to become chips, and chips want to produce artificial intelligence.

Everything in the universe wants to evolve, to become, to shine.

I’m definitely going to be reading Chardin’s “The Phenomenon of Man.” It’s next on my reading list.

Imagine my surprise to discover the work of French Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  Chardin was a student of evolution and a paleontologist who was involved in the discovery of both the Piltdown Man hoax and the game changing Peking Man.   He also had some very interesting notions about the evolution of the universe, ideas that closely mirror the cascading realizations I’ve had over the last year or two, the ones I’ve expressed above.

Not at all surprisingly, many of Chardin’s writings were suppressed by the Catholic Church and were not published until after his death.  He calls his view the “Law of Complexity-Consciousness” and refers to the ultimate destination of the universe as the “Omega Point,” an idea that one could and should compare and contrast to Kurzweil’s “Singularity”.  Even more amazing, Chardin’s model is not all at odds with the Qabalistic model I’ve discussed before.

Humanity needs to realize this stuff, and realize it quickly, or else we are all going to go extinct on this little blue ball.  All of the work that went into this evolutionary journey over the last 4.5 billion years — the work of dust becoming planets and suns, the work of mineral water soup becoming proteins which became microorganisms, tiny critters, fish, reptiles, birds, and people —  will be wasted.

So many wonderful and miraculous ancestors worked so hard to get us here, and there is so much potential left in us, in this world, in all its inhabitants animal, vegetable and mineral.

How can we permit failure in carrying forward this torch?