Stopped using ttrainers / 20% strength increase in one month

I’ve stopped working with trainers after 3 years of not seeing results (*). I originally bought the Powerblock dumbells for home use as they were only $250. However, due to the shape you can’t grip them to do high-weight pullovers. I returned them and bought Bowflex 552s for about $300. The dial makes them easy to adjust. I also bought a Powerblock branch bench just because it was the floor model, about $150, and they are all basically the same.

7/19/12 these were a few of my numbers:
Dumbell bench press: 40
Dumbell biceps Curl: 25
Dumbell shoulder press: 25
Pullover: 40
Side plank: 40 seconds

8/16/12 these are my numbers:
Dumbell bench press: 50
Dumbell biceps Curl: 30
Dumbell shoulder press: 30
Pullover: 45
Side plank: 60 seconds

Similar results for other exercises. Except for the pullover I got a 20% strength increase in one month by taking over my own training.

(*) With my first trainer, at one point I could do a 60 pound biceps curl 5 times. However, I was injured every month. After the last serious injury that took me out for 6 weeks I stopped using him. With the second trainer we’d do 3 warmup sets, conservative weights, and spend the whole hour on a few muscle groups, hitting each group about once a week. However, after 2 years I was no stronger than when I started. I need to workout my entire upper body every workout and to keep going up in weight. to see results.


How to buy minimalist shoes

I started Barefoot running about two years ago. I did not want to actually run barefoot due to concerns about stepping on rocks. So I bought one of the older generation Nike Free shoes. It still looks similar to what is pictured on the Nike website right now. About 4 months ago I bought Vibram FiveFingers. Lastly, 3 days ago I bought New Balance Minimus shoes.

First, my results from each shoe:

Nike Free:

Due to the thick sole, especially on the heel, your stride is not significantly different than in regular running shoes. The primary design difference I can see is that the heel cushioning is minimized. As you can see from the picture, there is still a large arch. The shoes are very tight, and are meant to be laced tightly. You do not feel the road any more than you do with regular running shoes. I could run in the shoes, but preferred not to because the lack of cushioning hurt my feet and resulted in a sprain in the instep. I stopped using them after about 3 weeks.


The bottom of the shoe is nearly flat. Because the heel is so flat, you are able to land on the balls of your feet rather than the heel and in fact prefer to due so since it is not comfortable otherwise. It’s hard to put the shoes on and you need foot powder since you cannot wear socks. I ran in the shoes about two weeks. After each running session my calves were very sore. I over trained though, and hurt my Achilles tendon which took two months to heal. The thin sole of the style I bought also means you can run only on pavement or grass. Small stones on other surfaces are extremely painful!

New Balance Minimus:

The Minimus has a fairly solid and hard sole. The heel is not as high as traditional running shoes, but is still too high for you to consistently land on the balls of your feet when running or walking. I only wore them two days and had to take them off for a period of time both days, due to the soreness of my heels. The heel was too high to land on the balls of my feet, as if I were barefoot, but too thin to cushion my steps.

When you walk barefoot or in socks, you tend to land on the balls of your feet unless you are purposely walking slowly. It is harder to notice where you land when walking but try it out and you’ll see this is the case. This uses your body’s foot arch, achilles tendon, and calves to cushion each step. When you walk with traditional running shoes, you land on the heels. Traditional running shoes force you to do so because the heel is so thick that is naturally what touches the ground first.

Unless you are used to landing on the balls of your feet, running while doing so, such as in the Vibrams, results in very sore calves. It is important to heed the warning and ramp up your run gradually so your body becomes used to doing so.

Otherwise, I do not recommend buying any minimalist shoe that has a thicker heel than the rest of the foot. The designers of any such shoe mistakenly believe barefoot running is the same as regular shoes, minus the cushioning from the sole. This is completely wrong and results in a sore heel. Barefoot running is a different style of running.

Regular running shoes are good for long distance running when you are not used to a barefoot style of running, and for bumpy surfaces. Vibrams are good for barefoot running where you want a little more protection than actually being barefoot. Minimalist shoes that have a thicker heel are useless for all purposes.


Weights as tracked by bodybuilding for 1 year and 5 months

Weight graph

Weight was 168 clothed. I’m not sure if this was with or without shoes. I’m subtracting 5 pounds for clothes and shoes for the chart

Weight was 179.5 clothed. Subtracting 5 pounds as before

8/24/10 (Approx)
2 week injury, upper back muscle tear

Pain in middle spine, skipped training

Weight was 182 – no record of clothed or not. Assuming not clothed

Major injury while doing pushups the day after deadlifts. Heard pop, numbness in right Teres minor. Shoulder blade would protrude farther than left side. Stopped training and just ran instead. Went from 183 to about 177 during this time.


Braco gazing session report

My wife attended a Braco show last week. I couldn’t find any unbiased information on what happens during these sessions so I got a ticket to attend a session as well and report on what happens.

The Braco website implies that Braco has the supernatural ability to heal though his gaze. To quote from About Braco “A NEW POSSIBILITY OF TRANSFORMATION, HEALING & AWAKENING FOR HUMANITY HAS EMERGED” and “Braco does not talk to his visitors, nor does he touch them or use any other form of nonverbal suggestion: He simply is gazing at them” According to organizers claim Braco does not make a profit from his shows.

The session was at a hotel. Braco had several gazing sessions a day spread over two days at the hotel. The cost to attend a session was $8. There were multiple tables outside the entrance to the session area selling Braco related products, including video DVD(s), jewelery, and books. My wife bought the $20 DVD and a $200 necklace. While she was doing so I loudly exclaimed “I thought Braco didn’t make any profit from these shows!?” One of his supporters overheard and moved to intercept me, but when she saw my wife buying the necklace she moved on.

The line to get into the session room for the session I attended had about 250 people in it, which I estimated inside the session room by counting the number of chairs in a row times the number of occupied rows. Some of the attendees waited in line since the start of the prior showing, that is to say they waited over an hour to sit in the chairs closest to the front row.

Braco had about a dozen supporters helping at the session. You could generally pick them out because they were wearing loose flowing clothing.

The session does not start with Braco gazing at you as I initially expected. Instead, the first ten minutes or so are spent listening to anecdotal evidence and a speaker. One woman said she had a vision of her dead mother from 20 years ago, with her now-dead dogs next to her mother. Another claimed she has a bipolar daughter who improved at about the time she attended a Braco session, although by her own admission her daughter didn’t even attend. Some people in the audience brough pictures of people they wanted healing, as supposedly the healing effect could transfer through a photograph as well.

The speaker did mention that Braco’s gaze did not work for everybody, but then qualified that you still did get vague benefits out of it, or that you may pick up a trigger that transfers to another person. She also said that like the body carries the soul, the Braco products sold outside the door carried Braco’s healing energy. She said that some people put the DVDs on wounds to help them heal. Some people in the audience were laughing when she said this, as if she were joking, although I didn’t get the impression that she was. The laughter did not sound unkind though, I think that people simply chose to believe the claims they wanted to and dismissed the rest as a joke. She also claimed that some people put the DVDs on animals to help them heal too.

The remainder of the time was spent watching a short video (5 minutes maybe) of Braco. Braco never speaks in the video. Instead, supporters make claims on his behalf. Braco is shown in the video, but framed to impart upon the viewer a mystical feeling.

The combination of the video, the speaker, and the anecdotal evidence over 20 minutes did a good job of building anticipation for when Braco did step out. The audience noticeably reacted and gasped. Braco walked upon a raised platform and stood there for about 8 minutes gazing over the audience. After that he simply walked away without comment out a back door.

The speaker invited people at that time to share their experiences of the just-completed gazing. I got up to leave early, the only one to do so, and began squeezing past people to walk out. One of Braco’s supporters side-stepped to block the exit, with an outstretched arm blocking my way. She told me to wait until the sharing session was complete. I replied “I’m leaving” and took an adjacent exit.

Before the session, the known injuries that I had are:

Scratch on my nose
Weakened Achilles tendon (running injury)
Weakened Teres Minor (weightlifting injury)
Circumcised penis

After the session, my injuries were not improved to any degree I could notice from a self-inspection. After 9 days and I still have all of those injuries to the same degree, except the scratch on my nose, which as been reduced to a small scab

My wife attended two sessions. Her injuries are
C-Section scar
Missing tooth
Scar on collarbone
After both sessions, her injuries were not improved to any degree noticeable from a self-inspection. After 9 days she still has those injuries.


Businesses do not pay taxes, people do

To those that cry to increase taxes on businesses:

A business is an idea, not a thing. Nobody has ever seen a business. You cannot touch a business or talk to one. Businesses do not make money, nor do they spend money, because ideas have no physical representation in the world other than brainwave patterns. Brainwave patterns cannot themselves do things. While one or a group of people can rent an office, put a sign on the front of the office, and call it a business, physically it’s still an office with a sign on the front.

Language directs thought, so it’s important to point this out because it’s so common today to talk about businesses as if they physically exist, while they do not.

The US Supreme Court recently established that Corporations are people which is nonsensical. Corporations are an idea held by a group of people. For example, I can get together 5 people, come up with a name for our group, call it a corporation, give the people that run the government money so they accept that, and now instead of 5 votes from 5 people I have 10 votes from the same 5 people. And those 5 people can now bribe politicians with an unlimited amount of money as long as that money is paid in the name of the idea.

Having pointed that out, when the common man advocates increases taxes on business while not taxing themselves, they are being unwittingly hypocritical and self-defeating. As I just pointed out, businesses do not exist, they are just an idea held by a common group of people. When one says “Increase taxes on businesses” they are saying “Increase taxes on this group of people that produce the goods that I ultimately buy.” But when you do that, where does that money come from? It comes from yourself! The money has to come from somewhere. Either the people that produce the goods can pay themselves less, or they can raise the price that they charge you. Since taxes are applied evenly, it’s a level playing field for the producers, so the latter is the most straightforward approach to get that extra money.


Barefoot running

I’ve read about the benefits of barefoot running for a while now. Among other things, it is better for your knees and the arch of your foot.

I didn’t want to literally run barefoot due to concerns about stepping on rocks, glass, etc. So a year ago I bought Nike Free shoes, which were among the first to target that market. After a few running sessions I had extreme pain in my knees. I read that barefoot runners run differently than normal runners, but the Nike Free shoes did not change how I ran or even feel much different than normal shoes. They had especially thick and solid soles, and a traditional shape. After literally barefoot running around the house, I found that proper barefoot running changes how you run so that you land on the balls of your feet. You cannot heel-strike, it is too painful. I concluded that my Nike Free shoes did not encourage or support barefoot form due to their design.

Yesterday, I bought Vibram Five Fingers shoes. The salesman at the store told me they are currently the most popular running shoes, and you should not use them to run on pavement, only on tracks and trails. What led me to pay $90 for them was that the soles are very thin and the heel is no thicker than the rest of the shoe, which addressed my prior complaint. This was immediately apparent at the track. I could feel the texture of the asphalt under my feet when I got out of the car; similar to actually being barefoot. Running, I did find that my posture and gait matched that of running barefoot – as with my prior experiment, I could not and did not land on my heels.

As an aside, I want to explain the difference in posture, since nobody explained this to me before and I couldn’t find any clear explanations online.

With typical running shoes, you land on your heels. The impact is absorbed partly by the shoes, partly by your knees, which you can see on this impact graph. That is why the Nike Free shoes are so bad – the sole is thick and solid, but it still has the design of typical running shoes, so you get the worst of both worlds. In order to land on your heels your center of gravity is more towards the back, with an upright posture, and you pull yourself forward with your feet.

With barefoot running, you (have to) land on your forefoot. Your center of gravity is past your toes such that you are actually falling forward. The way the salesman explained this to me was to keep your back and neck straight and aligned. Lean forward until you start to fall, without bending your upper body or neck. Just before you fall, you push off with your foot. The whole run therefore is a controlled fall forward.

I ran about 2 1/2 miles yesterday with the Vibrams. My calves absorbed the impact that previously went to my knees. The run felt easier although that could be because I have been working on my cardio anyway. However, a rock gave me a very painful lesson on just how thin the soles are, especially under the instep. Pebbles, gravel, rough asphalt are all OK. More than that and you’ll be limping.

In conlusion, I would mix it up depending on where you plan to run. It’s better to run on trails in general because it’s better for your knees. But the Vibrams are too thin for rough trails. For the treadmill, asphault, or well-maintained trails I plan to use the Vibrams. Regular running shoes for everything else.



If Homeopathic remedies are more powerful the more dilute they are, then why does tap water not cure every known disease?


Recent business practices that piss me off

1. People that insist on using old technology because of a lack of comfort with new technology (phone/mail instead of email, fed-ex rather than scan).

Real example: Phone call with a sales woman, who wanted detailed info over the phone I had already presented in email. I said I’d present it again over email, and she stopped communicating.

2. People that do not respond to an important business related email or phone message. To me, this is just as offensive as being asked a question in person and walking past, purposefully ignoring that person. This happens to me pretty frequently among all industries, although it is again more common among people who are not comfortable with computers.

Real example: Sent an email to a salesman for a moving company, after the order was placed, asking to confirm that the workers were insured. No response.

3. People that do not respond within a reasonable amount of time to new information presented in a conversation.

Real example: Loan broker, who was told twice over email and once on the phone the house was not a short sale. An hour later, wrote an email i got CCed on asking if the house was a short sale.

4. Dishonesty in sales. For example, quoting one price, only to add on mandatory handling fees. Or requiring someone to enter all their information online, only to present terms that would kill the sale after the user has already spent a lot of time in the process. This is also true of hidden charges, where the price is X, but if you do Y, which every reasonable person would do, the price is X + Z.

Real example: Price aggregation website listing lowest priced vendors. However, once you place the order, in fine print you see an additional 3% handling fee on all orders. 3% fee does not show up on aggregation website.

5. People that try to establish customer relationships at too early a stage, esp. when they get offended when you do not reciprocate. “Look, I just wanted a freaking price. Stop calling me. If your price is the best after I’m doing getting quotes, I’ll call you.”

Real example: Movers again. One salesman in particular called me about 6 times after I only reached out to him once. The 6th call was a message (I stopped answering his number) where he was really aggravated I wasn’t talking to him. Ironically, his price was the highest among all bids I got.


How to delete hidden user accounts on Vista

From the command prompt:
NET USER loginname /DELETE

I’m not why Microsoft made the boneheaded decision to not show all accounts under the user accounts page, with no other way to access it other than the command line. Wasted 15 minutes of my time to find that command.


Tax cut vs. income redistribution

Two of these scenarios are tax cuts. One is income redistribution. See if you can tell which is which.

1. The government reduces tax rates on a prior tax year. Based on these new rates, the government calculates how much less tax each taxpayer would have paid. The government send a rebate check for that amount.
2. The government reduces tax rates for the current or a future tax year. With all taxes taken into account, taxpayers overall now pay less tax.
3. The government hands out checks to most taxpayers. You don’t get a check if you paid too much taxes, and you don’t get it if you are a business. The check amounts are only loosely based on the tax you paid, and in some cases you get more than you paid in taxes.

The first scenario retroactively reduces taxes. It may not be cost-effective to calculate, but that is how you reduce taxes for a prior year, should you want to. The second reduces taxes for an upcoming year. The third taxes money from one group (taxpayers, which includes the rich and business) and distributes it unequally to another group (poor and middle class citizens). Taking money from one group and giving it to another group, even with some overlap, is by definition income redistribution.

In the future when I hear “Bush tax cuts” I will correct the speaker and point out this wasn’t a tax cut, it was income redistribution.