20 March 2013
David Taylor, for BBC News:
By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks – or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had “blood on his hands”.
Imagine the butterfly effect from 1968 to today if a) peace was declared in Vietnam in 1968 and b) Richard Nixon never became president.
19 March 2013
About a year ago, I was skinny as I’ve ever been. I’d done a few rounds of P90X and played around with Insanity, but repeating the same few workouts for weeks on end got boring, I lost interest, I skipped a few workouts, and then I skipped a few more. Repeat that cycle for a few months, and my weight cratered down to 146 from a high of around 160.
I started searching for something new, something that would keep me motivated for the long-term. I was never a guy who could just walk into a gym, pick a routine, and stay the course for longer than a few months (call it Workout ADD). I thought about getting a personal trainer for a while, but they were pretty expensive for just one or two sessions a week (and I’d still have to motivate myself for all the days in between).
I ended up finding the website for a local CrossFit gym, and after doing some digging about what Crossfit is and looking through the gym’s log of workouts, I made the call. My first day at CrossFit Tallahassee was March 13th, 2012.
It ain’t easy
My first few months were frustrating as hell. Make no mistake, CrossFit is hard. It’s barbell training, running, pullups, gymnastics movements, and each day is a different combination of some or all of them. The workouts are timed, so I was always racing against the clock. It was like I was rushing to finish a final exam that I hadn’t at all prepared for. A tough workout is just as draining emotionally as it is physically.
I had to scale down every workout to a lighter weight, and almost every day I left disappointed that I couldn’t do better. In hindsight I really shouldn’t have been comparing myself to those who had been doing it for a year or more. CrossFit is group exercise (there are about 15 other people in each class), but the only person I should’ve been paying attention to was myself.
The people are key
Over time I started to improve. I could use heavier weights, I was finishing workouts faster, and my ribs were no longer as prominent on my chest. The thing that kept me motivated was the people. There’s a stigma about globo-gyms that everyone is judging everyone else, hoping others will fail to feel better about themselves. In my experience, CrossFit has been the complete opposite. There’s friendly competition, but the satisfaction from getting a great time on a workout only comes from knowing everyone else pushed as hard as they could as well.
I saw the same trainers and classmates every day. They encouraged me. They corrected my form. They noticed when I improved. Most importantly, they would never let me quit. It’s easy to give up when faced with a daunting challenge alone. It’s damn near impossible when you have people yelling at you to push through.
That next rep
Working full-time, being in grad school, balancing friends and family, and keeping track of everything else means I’ve usually got a few things running through my head at once. (Even as I write this I’m mindful of what homework I need to do this week and things I’ll need to do at work tomorrow.) It’s insanely difficult for me to sit back, relax, and clear my mind.
During a workout, that all changes. For an hour a day everything else on my mind melts away, being replaced by one single thought: the next rep. For an hour a day I focus on the workout and the workout only. For an hour a day everything that I can’t control, everything that needs to be done, everything that claws its way into my brain disappears into the ether. At the end of a workout I find a kind of clarity, an un-jumbling of my thoughts that nothing else gives me, and from there I’m better prepared to finish my day. Erin Joy Henry had a similar experience (and probably describes it better than I can).
An adult playground
Gross, not that kind.
Workouts have become more of a grown-up obstacle course: each day I have a list of challenges, and I’m racing against the clock to finish them. It’s difficult, but I find a strange satisfaction from pushing myself as far as I can.
Since I started CrossFit I’ve gained about 25 pounds, the vast majority of which is muscle. I’m easily as fit as I’ve ever been, but for the first time in my life the nebulous concept of ‘being fit’ isn’t enough. Now that my fitness is more quantified, there’s always a new goal: squat heavier, run faster, more rounds, more reps. Working out has become a game, one that I see myself playing for a long time to come.
I’m still nowhere near the strongest person at the gym, but it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is pushing myself as hard as I can and being better tomorrow.
2013 Dave could kick the crap out of year-ago Dave. I’m pretty sure 2014 Dave will say the same thing.
31 January 2013
It seems the news stories about China trying to hack the US government and American companies are coming faster and faster.
It began with phishing attacks aimed at gaining the passwords of “senior government officials in the United States, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries, military personnel and journalists.”
Then there was a spearphishing attack on a White House Military Office system that governed nuclear commands, “including the so-called nuclear football.”
Now we find that the Chinese were hacking The New York Times for a period of four months in apparent retaliation for the Times’ investigation of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
Granted, the US government isn’t squeaky-clean on the topic of cyber-espionage- the US and Israel are widely believed to be behind Stuxnet, a virus engineered to take control of and destroy centrifuges in Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. The resulting story is still a fascinating read.
My question is this: at what point does an act of cyber-warfare become labeled an act of actual war?
29 August 2012
Really great story from the NYTimes about Bill O’Brien, Penn State’s new head football coach:
The O’Briens face daunting challenges every day that have nothing to do with scholarship restrictions, a bowl ban or reviving the sullied reputation of the Penn State football program. In a college town where perspective has become a buzz word in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, O’Brien, the Nittany Lions’ new coach, and his family have plenty of experience in keeping it.
It’s enough to make me root for Penn State.
19 July 2012
From their official Facebook page:
The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.
I can’t help but notice that nowhere in their statement do they say they’ll stop contributing money to people and groups working against marriage equality.
18 July 2012
Dan Cathy, speaking on the Ken Coleman Show:
I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.
Meanwhile, from the bible they seem to place so much stock in (emphasis mine):
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. -Leviticus 19:18
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. -Romans 3:23-24
I’ll miss eating there. Zaxby’s it is.
1 June 2012
Only three months til football season.
1 May 2012
It’s been a goal of mine for a while to move away from Tallahassee- after almost 25 years, I figure I should see what else the country has to offer. It’s odd, but one of the first things I look at in a potential new city is its public transit.
It’s not because I’ll be coming from a city with a great bus or subway system (Tallahassee isn’t exactly famous for StarMetro) but because it says something about the city itself. I’ve always wanted to live in a big city, and a robust, well-maintained metro says to me the city is large, dense, and interesting enough to justify the effort and expense of its construction and maintenance.
The quality of the system also says a lot about the city that maintains it. Last fall I spent a few days in New York City, and being the tourist I was, I almost exclusively used its subway system. The thing is, while the Subway is vital for the city to function, it was honestly pretty disgusting. Smelly, dirty, and littered with trash and vermin, it was more something to be tolerated rather than celebrated.
I’m spending the week in Washington, DC, and the contrast between the NYC Subway and the Metro in DC is night and day. The architecture, while still designed with an eye towards function, is just so much more refined. The sterile, impersonal concrete is molded into gentle curves and honeycombed with hollows that draw the eye upward.
All the stations I’ve been in have been clean, well-maintained, and (perhaps most importantly) didn’t smell like urine, human or otherwise. It’s convenient, too- from where I’m staying in the District, there are three different stations (serving five different lines) within a few blocks’ walk. Each and every station I’ve used has had a board displaying the next three trains to arrive and he many minutes before they do.
DC was a front-runner before I visited, but now I’m almost positive this is the next place I’ll live. Now it’s just a matter of time.
19 April 2012
My favorite out-of-context quote ever.
17 April 2012
Every Thursday night I gather up my things, get in my car, and head to Systems Thinking in Project Management. What’s different about this particular class is that it’s held not in the business building, or the language building, or the lab building. It’s held in the University Center at FSU, better known to pretty much everyone as Doak Campbell Stadium.
Each week as I park my car and make my way into the building my eyes slowly, instinctively, unstoppably work their way up the side of the massive brick facade, always in awe of what lies before them. I’ve always had a strange sort of attachment to the stadium– it’s by far my most photographed part of campus, and when I created the video for All-Night Yahtzee’s Kickstarter project, about a third of the shots were in and around the building.
It’s a nine-story brick oval, pockmarked with windows, gates, stained glass, clocks, and history. It’s ringed by four statues telling a story of sportsmanship and ancestry, both at Florida State and in the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It’s big. Ludicrously imposing. It takes up your entire field of view.
Common sense tells me that duh, Doak is supposed to be awe-inspiring. Despite our basketball team’s terrific season Florida State is still a football school, and having an elaborate, intimidating stadium is a statement to our opponents. It says “This is our house. Come get some.” (Not to mention Doak makes for great TV when ESPN rolls into town.)
But it’s more than that. As my eyes drift ever higher up the red bricks and windows glimmering in the sunset, I realize that my awe is more than just what the stadium means to the university– it’s what it means to me.
To me, Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium means baking in the sun during a scorching September noon game and the awkward sunburn that always follows. It means grilling steaks and downing beers before the long walk from my house to the gate. It means bundling up for a blustery night game in November. It means garnet and gold. It means Florida. Miami. Clemson.
It’s that massive concussion of sound that erupts from 82,000 people when we make a key play. It’s the crushing, suffocating silence that pounds your eardrums as we kick a last-second field goal. It’s the jubilation or sadness I share with friends I don’t know, our victories sweetened and our defeats mellowed as we all file out of the stands together.
I’ve never been told these are important, and I’ve never even given conscious thought to them before recently. These traditions have grown and been nurtured by the collective unconscious of the students, alumni, and fans, and it’s those shared, unspoken, common traditions that make me most proud to be a Seminole.
Last semester I interviewed a bunch of FSU students while doing research for a class project. When asked why they chose to attend Florida State, one of the most common responses I got was a feeling of Seminole pride. Belonging to something great and storied was enough to sway their decision. Regardless of the down years our football team has had, the unspoken bond among Seminoles has stood the test of time.
And that pride isn’t just confined to the stands of Doak Campbell, or the Tallahassee city limits, or even the state of Florida. Last fall I was in New York City the day of the Duke game, and my friends and I stumbled across a bar with a giant inflatable Seminole in front. We decided to take a look inside, and we found the place packed with Seminole memorabilia and fans! The crazy part is I recognized a few people I had randomly seen on the subway earlier that day; all of these seemingly disparate people had been brought together by our common pride.
And there it is: scale, tradition, and pride. These building blocks of our tribe bond us together, whether we make the trek to Doak every weekend or meet up with our fellow Noles all across the country. It’s why I go to Florida State, and in a way, always will.