Pushup Challenge

Stupid is as stupid does.

Recently I saw THIS BLOG entry about a pushup contest. Net of it is you start with one pushup in a day, then double it every day until the contest ends. Now, being an idiot with friends who love to make stupid bets, this seemed like a perfect challenge for us to undertake during the holidays. But first a little background on the combatants.

My first challenge was to my friend D, who lives in Austin with me from where the challenge eminated. Note that 512 is the area code down here, and a power of 2, meaning one day we’d be doing 512 pushups. Figuring this was a worthy challenge, I threw down the gauntlet to D who never has met a challenge too stupid for him. Case in point: one day D helped me pick up my car from the shop. We stopped for a few beers on the way home, and next thing you know we’re playing cornhole H-O-R-S-E for punishments. So if you saw me slapping him as hard as I could in my driveway, or him throwing cornbags at me as I rode on a 5 year old’s bike wearing a girl’s bike helmet, that’s what we were doing.

Anyway, we quickly decided we needed to involve eight other friends of ours from across the nation, and set up what has to be the most entertaining GroupMe session ever created to track progress on the challenge. Like most men, the mere suggestion of a stupid bet that involves some sort of physical challenge and/or test of will is what we live for. So it was on.

My wife immediately told me how stupid I was, and how stupid the bet was. She decried the physical benefit of doing so many pushups in a day, instead suggesting a regiment that actually builds strength and conditioning (in other words, she completely missed the point). Yet after a few drinks one night, she was convinced to participate.

Note that we didn’t plan this thing all that well, or we planned it excellently. I’m still not sure which. The first ugly day, 256, was Christmas Eve, and what we thought would be the penultimate day, 512, was Christmas. As I was hosting both days, this presented a particular challenge. Note starting with 1, 2, 4, 8, etc. is a great way of building excitement about the bet. There was a lot of talk about secret strategies, spreadsheets were actually created to map out when to do the pushups on which day, and the smak started flowing. By the 16 day, I felt the need for strategy- don’t do them all in one set so as to preserve the body. In the end, none of that really mattered.

128 is a good amount of pushups to do in a day, especially if you break them into non-taxing sets of 8. We didn’t lose anyone through 256, although my wife had to do all 256 after 8 PM having skipped them all day readying for Christmas. This killed her will to go for 512, and she dropped out before trying (note she was one of the favorites in the competition because of her insane physical condition). S also dropped out after 256, as he got sick (he was also one of the favorites), leaving 6 of us to do 512 pushups on Christmas. Basically, my strategy was to do 12 every time I could, which meant as the kids opened presents, I’d be snapping off sets. Good times.

It felt pretty good to get through the 512, but there was a problem – all 6 of us made it through that day. B almost failed, but to his credit, after doing 0 all day and coming home drunk, he rattled off 512 pushups in an impressive 3-hour pushing binge that absolutely destroyed him. So we had to do 1024 Monday. One thousand pushups in a day, after doing 512 the previous. I did not sleep well Sunday night.

We lost B because he destroyed himself on Christmas, and G was out because he was driving 1000 miles with the family. So it was down to four. And there was no way any of us were going to fail.

I get up at 1 Am and break off 108 pushups. 10% clear. Only 916 to go. Woo. Back up with the kids at 6:30 and start breaking them off, and I suddenly realize that any attempt I had at a strategy and keeping my body from being sore was completely out the window. I push toward milestones. 20%, 25%, 30%, 33%, 40%… finally hitting 400+ pushups at around noon (while still spending quality time with the family). It is here that I realize I’m a broken man. My triceps are shredded, my chest is stiff and immobile. Just starting a set is awful. Sets of 10 are in order, as 10 is all I can do. Sometimes they are sets of 8. I push my way to 550 (had to surpass 512) and I’m questioning my ability to finish. I have a family dinner, and I can’t do more or go faster.

Then, Vitamin I comes to the rescue.

I wanted to do it “drug free” but that was impossible at this point. 3 Extra Strength Advil later, and suddenly I’ve got new blood. 600 becomes 750 (doing them in the parking lot a the bank waiting for the ATM). 750 becomes 900. 900 becomes 925. I’m within 100 and I’m ready to get there. Sets of 12 are back in play. I make a big push and do my final 8 right as we are about to depart for dinner.

1024 pushups in a day. Celebratory picture of me Tebowing is sent to the crowd.

Now N and W have long since finished, with not nearly as much difficulty. D has been notably silent. He’s way behind. After dinner, my wife and I stop by and help him get through his last 100. 4 of us do 1024 pushups. And the contest is unofficially over.

Technically the tiebreaker was most pushups on a failed day. We knew nobody was doing 2048, N and W had to work, so we pretty much ended the contest. D was still doing pushups in the background, in case someone else was still going to try to win. Final day tally: D 435, W 0, N 0, me 0. Which is a hilarious ending to this and why D is awesome.

My new years resolution is now to do 125 consecutive pushups. One of the pushup apps I downloaded to track my progress has a training regiment built into it that will get me there. Yes, I downloaded multiple apps to help me get through this – such is the life of an idiot nerd in the age of the smartphone.

Two days later, I’m still quite sore. You may not realize this until you do 1000 pushups in a day, but pushups are great exercise for your biceps, triceps, pecs, lats, shoulders, upper back, lower back, and abdominals. I know this because all of those muscle groups have been quite unusable for some time.


2011 Holiday Gift Guide (for people you hate)

It is time for my 5th annual Holiday Gift Guide for People You Hate™. This guide is useful for all those awkward situations where you are forced to give gifts, yet you really don’t care for the recipients. Office gift exchanges, intrusive neighbors, pain-in-the-ass relatives… society unfortunately forces us numerous times during the holidays to spend our hard earned money on gifts for jerks that you would probably rather never speak to again.

Such is life.

Anyway, onto the guide:

1) The Sweater. Clothes go in and out of style all of the time, but sweaters are timeless. This is the key to this gift. Also key to the sweater is because they never go out of style, there is the expectation that you can wear said sweater EVERY YEAR. Which creates an awesome conflict for your giftim (gift victim). Now, Christmas rolls around, and they know you’re coming over. They just got this nifty new Armani shirt  which will be perfect… oh shit, cousin Eddy is coming over and I have to wear the fucking sweater he got me. By the way, sweaters never go out of style, because they’re never in style to begin with, now that the whole central heating thing has been invented and all. Enjoy your trip back to the 1800s brah!

2) Apple products. Wait, the iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc. are at the top of everyone’s holiday gift list. How can these be gifts for people you hate? Because Apple isn’t a company, it is a cult. Giving someone an iPhone is like giving someone a rock of crack for Christmas. Soon, your computer isn’t good enough. And your music player is inadequate. And next thing you know, you’re a hipster dressing like Elvis Costello, quitting your Wall Street job to become a barrista, and you’re getting raped in a cardboard tent in an Occupy protest protesting, well, you have no fucking idea, but you have an iPhone dammit! That shit actually happens. Just say no to Apple.

3) Adult Party Game. “Hey, here’s a game of Scattegories (or some other bag of shit designed to force conversation). Why am I giving this to you? Because apparently I’m going to continue to be forced to be in your company, and you’re boring as shit. We have nothing in common. We can’t even talk about the weather. So we need some vehicle that forces conversation to murder the hellacious time we spend together. You suck”. Short of a bag of cyanide capsules for the crowd, the party game is the next best way of saying the aforementioned dialog, and ensuring the company of your giftim is as painless as possible.

4) Pajamas. Extremely cosy women’s pajamas in particular. You know how to turn Megan Fox into the love child of Rosie O’Donnell and Sasquatch (which is essentially no different than Rosie O’Donnell, btw)? Put her in cosy pajamas. The flannel type, loose fitting, the kind that just screams “I don’t give a fuck how I look, I’m going to bed.” The kind that you can’t get off a woman without the controversial type of court order that sent Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba. Yes, if you really hate a man, you give cosy pajamas to his wife. Because she’ll wear them. Every fucking night.

5) Bath products. We’ve all been washing ourselves for years. During that time, we’ve tried every product on the marketplace we care to try to accomplish said goal. Soaps, lotions, shampoos… one’s smell is very private and personal to them. So by giving them some horrifically scented bath gel, you’re basically doing a number of things to your giftim. First, you’re saying their smell is not right, which is a terrible insult. Second, you’re telling them that the smell you have selected for them is something they need to smell like, which is demeaning in its own right. Seriously, nobody wants to smell like “sandalwood”, that’s why nobody buys anything sandalwood scented from December 26th through November 15th. It smells like shit – who the hell are you to say that I need to smell like fucking sandalwood? And nobody takes a bath anymore anyway! This is a really hateful gift – use with caution.


The Hors d’Oeuvre Loaded With Christmas

I went to a Christmas party with friends this weekend. As we were supposed to bring hors d’oeuvres, n the spirit of the season, I challenged myself to cram as much Christmas into an appetizer as I could. So here’s what I did:

The base was a single venison chop, emblematic of a reindeer. I cooked whole racks to rare on my Big Green Egg so a slight smoke (reminiscent of a chimney) permeated it, and coated it with a spice mix of cinnamon, clove, ginger, garlic, fennel seed, allspice, salt, pepper, and brown sugar, which smells like Christmas. Under that was a balsamic-apple reduction (thickened with xantham gum) scented with the spice rub. On top of that I put a “snow” of rosemary-infused olive oil which I had turned into a power using tapioca maltodextrin. The rosemary scent was meant to remind of a Christmas tree.

To the side I made little “yule logs” consisting of bunches of dressed pea shoots combined with enoki mushrooms which had been roasted in truffle oil, tied together with blanched green nabi grass (to remind of ribbon and presents). I then garnished with pomegranate seeds as “ornaments” for texture and sweetness.

Sorry, I could not get a picture of the plate for the blog. Big failure on my part – I was focused on plating too much. But interesting fact I just learned googling for a picture of the Griswold house for the photo – the same exact “house” was also the Murtaugh home in Lethal Weapon. Weird…


Randy Lerner is Cleveland’s Kim Jong-Il

It occurred to me this morning that Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner is Cleveland’s version of Kim Jong-Il.

Skeptical? Well here’s a list of similarities which should change your mind:

  • Inherited his empire from his father, who worked hard to establish it.
  • Known as more of a playboy than a competent leader.
  • Mysterious man not often seen within his empire.
  • Has taken his empire and, while deluding its denizens into believing that he is a faithful and competent leader doing everything in his power to enrich their lives, has created long-lasting misery and an empire that is decades behind its peers.
  • Has made bizarre appointments based on loyalty to him vs. actual demonstrated competence.
  • Whenever people escape from inside his empire, they all talk about the complete incompetence of everyone and everything within it.
  • Yet somehow each man has a loyal base of sycophants that believe things are getting better and are on the right track.

Hopefully Kim Jong-Il’s death will allow North Korea to modernize and to elevate their putrid and inexcusable standard of living across the board. Sadly, the Cleveland Browns have no such hope as long as Lerner continues to hold the reins to their franchise.


Mike Holmgren may have lost his mind

Mike Holmgren, who’s job can best be described as being the brain Randy Lerner lacks, decided today to hold a press conference to talk about all the awful things people are saying about the shitty football team he has assembled. And it really seemed like his feelings were hurt by all the mean people talking about his bungling and incompetent organization!

So below are some of the quotes that suggest Mr. Holmgren may not be playing with a full bag of marbles. To be fair, I didn’t watch the presser. So maybe the quotes that every journalist that covers the Browns tweeted from it were all taken out of context in an effort to smear the organization. The media is cruel and coordinated like that. Even so, I just had to respond to the patently ridiculous things Holmgren said. Note these quotes are taken from twitter, and may not be exact quotes.

1) The Browns doctors and trainers did not see the hit James Harrison put on Colt McCoy, so they never suspected he had a concussion given McCoy’s statements and actions. I was at BW3s watching the game on TV, with no medical training and a semi-liberal amount of “global anestesia” applied, and I knew Colt had a concussion. I was amazed he came back into the game, and shocked that the Browns would be so callous in regard to his health, especially given the recent focus on concussions in the NFL. Granted, I had the luxury of “seeing the hit”, but I also saw something the trainers absolutely did – Colt McCoy writhing on his back, holding his head, on the field unable to get up for over a minute. Not sure what Mo, Larry, and Curly were thinking was wrong with him when he was doing that. Did he just remember he left the iron on at home before he left? Seriously, guys, he just got popped, he’s on the field, he’s holding his head. Can you really with any sort of integrity say you had no idea he had a concussion? If so, the Browns’ medical staff needs to pack up their leeches and eye of newt and get out of town before they seriously damage someone with their completely inferior medical knowledge and training. Oh, by the way, when the referee behind the medical team said “helmet to helmet hit”, did they not think that may have been a clue? Fact remains, Holmgren, despite how much you rant and rave, the Keystone Kops bungled that one badly, and put Colt’s health in serious risk. They also cost you the game, because Colt wasn’t thinking clearly enough to run the offense. You’re getting mad at the wrong folks, Mike…

2) If we’d just snap the damn ball and catch some passes, we’d be 7-6. I’ll maybe give you the bad snap cost the Browns the Rams game (even though the Rams would have had time on the clock to drive for the winning FG). Plus, the Rams are horrible, and “coulda woulda shoulda” against them is pathetic. The Cincy game bad snap cost a tie, and Cincy was getting the ball back and outplaying the Browns. And as for catching the ball… well, that’s part of the game. If the opposition just “caught some passes”, I’m pretty sure the Miami game would have been a loss, and maybe a couple of others too. Fact is, the Browns are a horrible team. They have no room for errors, so if they never ever screw up, they could be a .500 team, while still relying on the opposition to screw up continuously? That is a pathetic statement. The Browns ARE 4-9. Their record deserves to be 4-9, and they have only beaten really awful teams by close margins. The offense is terrible, and the defense is unable to stop the run. You can’t defend this shit Holmgren. Why are you mad at people for calling the steaming pile of dog poop that lays on the lawn of Cleveland Browns Stadium “shit”, when you should be mad at the dogs you hired that leave said shit all over the field?

3) It seems as though this is business as usual, which is very easy to write, and say. But I’m telling you it is not. The Browns are 4-9, and looking at the remaining schedule, they’ll be 4-12, 5-11 if they steal one with a top 10 pick in the draft. 2010? 5-11. 2009? 5-11. 2008? 4-12. 2007? In 2008-2010, there has been coaching incompetence, an inability to stop the run, consistently terrible offense, no clear answer at quarterback, and hollow promises of a mythical rebuilding “process” that the team was undertaking, despite no visual evidence that it is actually working. 2011 finds coaching incompetence, an inability to stop the run, consistently terrible offense, no clear answer at quarterback, and hollow promises of a mythical rebuilding “process” that the team was undertaking, despite no visual evidence that it is actually working. How is that not “business as usual” in any way?

4) When it does happen, don’t come to me for extra tix for a playoff game. Don’t do that. You’re either with us or you’re not. Whatever dude. Holmgren = Linus. Fans = Sally 


tebow. Tebow! TEBOW! TEEEEEE-BOOOOOOOOW!!1!1!!!!

Tim Tebow.

You have an opinion. Everybody does. Most likely your opinion is based on your religion, or lack thereof, because people like to define Tebow based on his religious fervor as somewhere amidst the triangle of a religious zealot, Christian jihadist, and a disciple of God, often sarcastically. Oh, and he plays football too, with seemingly no ability to do such in a proper and respectable manner. You either love the guy or hate the guy – there is no middle ground when it comes to Tim Tebow.

You can’t avoid him. Yesterday, I was trying to find a clinic open late on Sunday night for my five year old, who has strep (he’s okay thanks for asking). As we leave the house it is Bears 10, Tebows 0 with 6:00 left in the 4th. When I get to a clinic, it is 10-10, and twitter has exploded with hundreds of Tebow references, good, bad, and ugly. I laugh. Then when I get to the pharmacy, it is 13-10, Fightin’ Tebows. Twitter now a veritable digital mushroom cloud of Tebowness.

Only this morning do I realize that Tebow, excuse me, Denver, wins because Chicago’s Marion Barber plays like a complete bonehead in regulation and OT. Because to everyone else it was all about Tebow. He’s the story, like it or not, so that’s what people will talk about.

Anyway, I love the guy, mainly because he irritates so many people. I’m kind of a jerk like that.

So, all that said, here are some random thoughts on Tebow:

1) He’s 7-1 and led countless 4th quarter comebacks. Could he actually be a special QB? Pop quiz: name the athlete from who’s Wiki page I copied this: During the 2006 season, QUARTERBACK led the Tennessee Titans to eight wins including six straight wins… Of the wins, four of them were fourth quarter comebacks, including three straight fourth quarter comebacks. The answer is obvious: the now-proven-to-be-horrible Vince Young. Back in 2006, though, he was that year’s Tim Tebow. Everything he touched was gold, and everyone thought he was the real deal. Until 2007, when he fell completely apart. Now, he’s a journeyman backup that inflates defensive stats when he enters the game. Is Tebow VY? Well, both were flawed as quarterbacks, both did miraculous things, and the league caught up to at least one of them. Tebow fans will point out that VY has an IQ bordering on single digits and the heart of the Tin Woodman, where Tebow is clearly more composed, a solid leader, and slightly smarter (though not a genius by any stretch). My point is this: we’ve seen this movie before, sometimes guys just get lucky for a stretch (having a great defense helps), so let’s not get too excited.

2) Did Denver really draft him in the first round? Why yes, they did. As a Cleveland fan, I hate Denver. Have since I sat in a freezing Cleveland Municipal Stadium and watched a certain horse-faced pariah lead his team 98 yards on a drive to steal our Super Bowl, a pleasure which has been denied every season since. Every Cleveland fan remembers where they were when the arrogantly stupid Josh McDaniels guaranteed his career in Denver would be short and ignominious by reaching way down the draft board to make Tebow a 1st round pick. We remember this because we laughed so hard we fell off of whatever we were on, and some of us likely got seriously hurt. Here’s the thing: I fully expect Tebow to become VY2, per the above, and for this pick to be the bust that we all expected it to be. But as a Cleveland fan, it still pisses me off that this “bust” can deliver a magical and unexpected season, a likely division title, and be better than any QB Cleveland has had since Vincent Frank Testaverde (sadly true). When Cleveland drafts busts, we get the likes of Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Brady Quinn (Tebow’s backup, rich with irony there), and Timmy Couch, and many more seasons of putrid and painful losing. It’s just not fair.

3) What does Tebow think of all of this? For the most part, Tim Tebow is the anti-Charles Barkley. Barkley says many things, loudly, and most discussion on him is about the amazing things he says. By contrast, Tebow is pretty quiet, and discussions of him are more about what people perceive him to be. The American media, blogosphere, and twitterverse has made Tebow the flag-bearer for the cause of Christianity in the US, even though Tebow really doesn’t preach when he talks (all he does is mention his faith and leave it at that). Being that this iconic role has been thrust upon him, people literally make the tie between the success of the Denver Broncos and the will of God, often sarcastically but quite frequently in a very real manner. Wrap your head around this almost certain truth: because the Broncos have improbably won six straight games, there are many people that are investigating Christianity, some of which certainly have adopted it. To that end, I don’t think Tebow minds the attention and hype at all.

Anyway, those were things that were running through my head during the Tebow twitplosion last night. And why I completely look forward to another such event next Sunday.


The Brilliance of the Occupy Movement

 So up until this morning, I thought the “Occupy” protests were completely stupid, useless, and pointless. But after a conversation with a friend, I realized there is an insipid brilliance to the whole movement that I completely overlooked, and now I must compliment the organizers and participants on their forethought and genius.

Before I get into that, let’s go back in time to a dark secret that I’ve held onto for 24 years. In 1987, Gary Hart was the leading candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, until his affair with Donna Rice forced him out of the race. One bitter cold weekend in December, I got on a bus with other kids from my college to go to New Hampshire to participate in an organized protest, in order to try to urge Hart back in the race, chanting “Let the People Decide” repeatedly. Well, Hart got back in the race, and the people decided he was a piece of shit by giving him 4% of the vote.

Why did I do this? I had no fondness for Hart, nor his policies. Heck, I wasn’t even a Democrat (nor was I a Republican, btw, facts that haven’t changed since college). And certainly standing outside in 4 degree windchill wasn’t going to be a good time. But there were three things that swayed my decision: 1) I was bored and had nothing better to do that weekend, 2) there was going to be booze, and 3) it was promised that there were going to be girls there. And what red-blooded 17 year old wouldn’t make the same decision given the circumstances? As an aside, the weekend was a total disaster. I nearly froze to death and caught a nasty cold, there was no booze, and there definitely were no girls. But I did hear on the way up there for the first time the Bangles’ remake of Hazy Shade of Winter, and I shook Jesse Jackson’s hand. So that’s something, I guess.

Which brings us back to 2011 and the “Occupy” movements.  Above and beyond all else, they satisfy my three requirements for going to New Hampshire: boredom, booze, and girls. They are a social event and a fashion statement for people of an age where their angst is high, and where their responsibilities are low. This, in part, explains the popularity among the current college and recent-college generation. But it doesn’t fully explain the draw, nor does it really get to the depth of the brilliance inherent in the movement.

One of my chief objections with the Occupy protests was that they weren’t really protesting anything. In my discussion with my friend, however, I realized that there was indeed something being protested, but it is up to each individual’s interpretation as to what the protests are all about. And therein lies the genius. For some, it is about protesting capitalism itself, and suggesting a social wealth redistribution. And those can claim the masses as part of their cause. For others, though, it is a more esoteric protest about encouraging free thought, and those people too can claim the numbers to be with their cause. Heck, I could interpret it as a protest about how Saran Wrap isn’t as clingy as it used to be (which it isn’t, and that really pisses me off), as a part of a larger “corporate America is screwing us” movement, and with no disingenuity claim the thousands of protesters all want more clingy Saran Wrap. It is a protest about nothing, but like Seinfeld, there’s a lot in the nothing.

This muddling of purpose has to be intentional. The TEA parties galvanized the right around reducing government spending, and the left needed to counter. But the left is fragmented, and there is no single issue upon which the left can unify. Obama led a campaign on “Hope” and “Change”, which was similarly esoteric to the formation of the Occupy protests, and rode a wave of anti-Bush rhetoric to the White House. With the Bush boogeyman long gone, however, and the support from the left eroding as Bush’s disaster of a presidency is essentially just being continued by Obama (with a sprinkling of Obamacare for good measure), there needed to be something to reinvigorate the left and create a positive message. To this end, the Occupy movement has accomplished its goals. It has created momentum going into the political season, and most importantly lit the fire of passionate involvement in the political process from some of the most fervent leaders of the left. All on the brilliant back of the vague notions of freedom of thought and expression, and/or angst around class disparities, on the back of a generation who is searching for purpose and meaning in life.

I get it now. I still don’t support it, because I’m older, married, and less angsty now. But I understand now why people would participate, and can’t vilify them for doing such.

Oh, and to the lying piece of crap that lured me to New Hampshire on the promise of an epic party for that miserable weekend: fuck you. And fuck you, too, Gary Hart. There, I feel better.


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