October 20, 2014

Destruction of education

Technology is the problem in the classroom. The intent to be innovative, to do the new-fangled thing, and bring students onto the internet is the new wave. Homework is done on the computer with programs that don't allow flexibility of method. Essays are graded by algorithm without human intervention. The dehumanization of education is upon us. Students are required to shape-shift into the necessary mold to move on. The loss of paper and pencil, creativity, and interest is the destruction of opportunity for learning.

October 18, 2014


If you're dead on the inside with no hope of ever coming back, and have been for most of your life, suicide is courageous, because it means that you let your body follow your heart.

July 7, 2014

What's wrong with the developed world?

You and I don't even speak the same language. I've been living in Asia for the last 10 years and see the world from completely different eyes from how you see the world. If you have to tell yourself not to judge the drug addicts, you are missing something important. I understand that you've never left your own culture, but this is precisely the reason that you have no right to tell me what is right or wrong.

Yes, I play the victim and assign the local culture as the correct one, but I don't actually see it that way. Rather, I know what is right and can see what is wrong. Lack of concern for others, especially those you don't know, is a symptom of a sad culture. If you only care for your own, then the tendency is to care more for yourself than for even those close to you. This selfish way of interacting with the world may seem necessary but it only limits yourself. Imagine what can be accomplished working more than one at a time. Everyone ignores others, yet we question why the US has considerably higher suicide and homicide rates per population. It is the cold, uncaring culture of individualism.

When you are your career first, and rank people by income, the loss of humanity is not only destructive to the self, but to the whole. I miss the Philippines where people care for others because they are human and Thailand where people let others be free and make decisions without judgment even if their choices may be different.

I miss the love for others and the social freedom that the developed world has long forgotten.

July 1, 2014

How to mutilate her

I feel a deep desire to mutilate her. First, slit her throat, blood curtling groan of helplessness. The pool will form. A dark crimson reservoir of death force. I will stab her and chop away recklessly to create a corpse that is as ugly as what she puts into the world. The intensity of the misery that she spreads will be the jackal-like laughter coming from my diaphragm as I stab, twist and repeat until I am emotionally exhausted, lying in a heap. Finally at peace because her rampage of destruction in life will be no more. Next, she will haunt as many souls as she can to continue the cycle of pain that she could never learn to temper.

June 30, 2014

Culture shock

I realized that much of my issue is simply a question of culture shock... in both directions. There's an uncertainty to the diametrically opposed truths within me, one innate (Western), the other what I have determined to be good (Asian). This caused an unbalancing of identity causing crisis. There are a few major points of conflict.

(1) A humility and self-effacing quality (which is most extreme in Korea) must be buoyed by a supportive environment, a culture of people who speak to each other with respect. Thus, in a Western, every man for himself, disconnected social system, the requirement is to harden oneself and to put on a more self-assured persona/identity.

(2) The no-self, which I was so intellectually fascinated by through buddhism/taoism simply isn't preferable in a culture with a language centering around the self. A narcissistic society doesn't allow one to interact cleanly without a strong sense of self.

June 7, 2014

The Game

Life is a prison. You are stuck forever and there is no escape outside of death. The pressure to win is constant and neverending. However, winning is a farce. It is impossible to reach as a small win only makes the player hungry for more.

May 24, 2014

The Power of the Eyes

I live in a country where they don't think I speak their language. Though this may seem frustrating, it has advantages. I was walking down the street and was coming face-to-face with a lady trying to sell something to passersby. However, rather than display a product, I think she was trying to sell something much more abstract. We locked eyes.

She had the determination of a long-time salesman bloodied through many battles with prospects as she tried to wring blood from the hearts of a stone cold disinterested public. I saw her and knew that if I wanted, I could have her. I could sell her. The instant we locked eyes, I knew I held the power.

May 17, 2014

I don't play well with others

I find joy as the ultimate fundamental value, but I rarely find it in shared play. Instead, I know how to play AT someone or to bring someone else joy, but it is directional. My enjoyment is in the accomplishment of causing joy, not in witnessing it. This action of making someone else feel joy is intentional, calculated almost. This starts out in the subconscious as I create joy, but then I watch it occurring and it changes form by definition.

May 10, 2014

Are you human?

There are just two types of people in the world. There are the machines and there are the humans.

The machines attempt to overcome themselves to meet goals determined by society. They are slaves to money, power, and status. They live within the human realm, have families, eat food, drive cars, but these are necessary evils in order to meet the goals prescribed for them.

May 8, 2014

How to handle a high volume WOD

I was working late into the night and couldn't sleep, so I decided to go to Crossfit.

Last night I saw the crossfit.com daily workout was:

For time:
115-lb. deadlifts, 50 reps
50 walking lunges
115-lb. back squats, 40 reps
40 toes-to-bars
115-lb. power cleans, 30 reps
30 burpee box jumps, 24 inch
115-lb. thrusters, 20 reps
20 triple-unders

You have to look at this WOD and say, "That's just ridiculous!" It's simply a ton of volume. I actually thought that it was silly enough to show my girlfriend, even just to show the programming, no need for further comment.

Back to 7am, guess what the WOD was? Of course, it was the mainsite WOD. My last two days of workouts left me with sore abs from tabata on Monday and sore parts of my anatomy that I didn't know could be sore from an inspiring set of attempts at heavy power cleans, which left me with a PR by 15lb!

I could feel my eyes desirous of sleep and my body fighting to stay unbroken. Despite being delirious, I know that when I'm crossfitting, my body goes into another realm and these concerns disappear.

The class size was definitely larger than the space allowed, so I made sure to get a platform where I wouldn't have to fight with others for space. Having my own platform meant that no wandering barbells would interfere with my WOD. I am a solo crossfitter in a sea of others.

I was next to a better athlete and one who goes shirtless during workouts (which is an interesting marker and methodology).
The Work for all athletes is the same when comparing athletes of similar height and weight and using the same barbell loading. In this way, we can have fair and accurate measurement and assign placing (1st, 2nd, 3rd).

I know myself as an athlete. I believe deeply in a slow, steady, consistent pace for my body. I could care less what other people are doing. In a crossfit workout, our goal is to complete the given task in the shortest possible time frame. The purpose is simply to increase our power output.

With this self-knowledge, I happily watch others speed ahead from the beginning of the workout. I remain calm and relaxed never doing any movement to failure. If I were to do so, it would require much longer rest periods. I prefer to go at a pace that can be kept for a long time. 15 deadlifts, 5 seconds rest. 15 deadlifts, 5 seconds rest. 10 deadlifts, 5 seconds rest. 10 deadlifts, 5 seconds rest. 25 lunges, 3 seconds rest. 15 lunges, 3 seconds rest. It goes on and on.

I am methodical, like an assassin always aware of the movements of my target. I am patient. For this to be a clean kill, I must be logical, self-aware, disciplined. I will not allow for doubt or uncertainty. I WOD with surgical precision. This is diametrically opposed to what I see publicly displayed in some athletes. I see desperation in yelling, cursing, and emotional outbursts when a movement is not going their way.

I see this as childlike and immature. Through the 50 deadlifts, 50 walking lunges, 40 back squats, and 40 toes-to-bars, my shirtless friend has been way out in front. He goes out quickly while I remain slow and steady. He is the hare to my tortoise. He may have gotten off the bar for his toes-to-bars before I have, but taking rest before his power cleans, he sees me return to my barbell. He says, "Alan, it's you and me."

We start our power cleans at the same time despite our very different strategies for the workout. In theory, I could probably rip through the power cleans in sets of tens, but if I did so, I would be a hyperventilating mess for my 30 burpee box jumps. I would hardly be able to get up from the ground on the burpees and probably would smash my shins on the 24 inch box repeatedly (#fail).

I chose to go touch-and-go in sets of 3s. Holy cow, 10 sets, that seems like a lot! After just 3 reps, I feel my respiration rate shoot up. I take 5 seconds to breathe before ripping another 3 reps. This goes on for the 30 reps and I'm off to the 30 burpee box jumps.

I was aware of the crossfitter next to me who was on his burpee box jumps. We were going rep for rep and it was like a game. He started before me, so I was surprised as we went deep into the 30 reps when he was still working on them.

I think I did some extra ones, not on purpose, but because I was too focused on listening to the sounds, watching myself fall to the ground and bound onto the box. I thought about rest between sets and decided to take a 2 second breath every 10 reps. The purpose was psychological. It was not about rest, but more about a self-awareness, a reward for the 10 reps. Doing a WOD is not about turning off the brain, entering a cave where pain is ignored, it is a celebration of movement, it is the gift of life, a chance to appreciate what we have. My 2 seconds of standing in between sets of 10 burpee box jumps was about gratitude.

This is what Crossfit is. It is the opportunity to express ourselves through fitness. It is the inspiration that makes life beautiful.

May 3, 2014

Welcome to hell

It all seems pretty silly to me -- the constructs of behavior we squeeze ourselves into. We join together in a common bond of contraction acting one way when we are another. So little is genuine, so much forced and done to fit an expectation.

Socializing is intentional which makes it invalid. The consideration to go to spend time with others because it is somehow better is to kill the value of the relationship. If the other person weren't there, it would be someone else. This is the crux of the issue. Choosing interaction is not natural.

What would make more sense is to interact with others based on situation and location. When there is a purpose to speak, great. Do it. When there is not, don't force it. Rarely does it accomplish anything beyond fitting into molds people place on themselves based on societal pressures.

May 1, 2014

What are we saying?

Today I was at a bus station at 8am on the way to the next country over and a funny thing happened.

Where I currently live, at 8am and 6pm everywhere around the country, a national anthem is played. It is blasted from speakers in the style of the classic book, 1984. Whether walking down the street, doing aerobics in a groups of a thousand people in the park, or in the mall, everyone stops moving and stands completely still. No one speaks, no one moves, it feels like the twilight zone. Foreigners are often baffled and wonder if the world is coming to an end.

April 26, 2014

How to solve the world's problems

The U.S is in deep trouble, and the rest of the world is going to feel the pain. In this discussion about the U.S., let's disregard increasing the monetary supply artificially buoying stock markets and corporate profits. These are short term benefits. Let's talk about the long term. With a weakened economy, there has been a shift of priorities. Under 30s are woefully underemployed and over 60s are unable to retire. For good or for bad, people seem to care about the political economic direction of the U.S. Obama wants us to help out our fellow man and spread the wealth.

Europeans believe deeply in what they call the "social system." German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been convinced to keep the Euro alive despite the failed Mediterranean economies. This essentially socializing Europe where the rich countries support the poor ones. America is moving toward a socialist health care system, though the rollout has been a disgusting mess. The U.S. government must continue raising taxes to pay for programs promised by politicians if they choose not to default on the nation's debt.

I have a thought experiment: Let's kill off everyone over age 30.

Luckiest person in the world

I was born into the wrong family.

April 25, 2014

Impossible to escape

I am a clinical crazy person. I'll probably end up in a room with padded walls. Tonight, I had a night with the guys at a bar. I don't drink. I'm not sure why. Before going to the bar, I attempted to separate from the group but was told that it would be a normal bar, not the side show common to my current location. The next day, I was sorry I went.

April 19, 2014

Who in the World

Singapore - robots, clean, educated
Malaysia - triple-ethnic, progressing in business, retreating in civil rights
Thailand - land of the free, sex tourism, happiness
Laos - growing, solar, peaceful, content, partiers
Cambodia - scammy, dangerous, opportunity
Philippines - passionate, extreme wealth and poverty, musical people
Burma - uncertain future, political wild west
China - terrifying, dirty, powerful, tread carefully
Japan - the world's center of influence, emotions kept in check
Korea - emotional, communal, hierarchical
Australia - individual freedom, economic trouble ahead, racist
New Zealand - silly, playful, happy, chill
Germany - brilliant yet insufferable
Swiss - educated, rich, classy
France - socialist, pretentious
Former USSR - intense, expressive, blunt
Holland - community, beer, chocolate
Scandinavia - stable, shy, self-depreciating
Ireland - playful, happy, hard-working

April 17, 2014

Escape for good

I'm a city boy. I love people. I love to watch them walk by, to lock eyes, to connect with one another, to share a smile. Sometimes, I'll sit on the side of the road with my girlfriend and watch people for hours. Why do I love cities? Maybe it's the easy access to street food, to movement, to energy. I love the anonymity of big cities especially in Asia where I'm not expected to understand the language. I am in a bubble. It is a safe space where my thoughts can flow.

April 12, 2014

"Divergent" film brings up big questions

Divergent is a recent film that tells the story of a society that separates individuals into five factions. Organizing citizens into specific groupings allows the government to provide guidance in the attempt to create a peaceful existence. If everyone knows their role, chaos diminishes, but what happens if you don't fit into the boxes set forth by others?

April 10, 2014

Unlocking the great unknown

The West as a whole doesn't distinguish between Asians. I can comfortably say this after years of hearing Westerners' clueless ignorant statements.

In the US, we know of two Asian nations, China and Japan. China is in the American psyche because for the past 10 years, everything we own was made there. There is also a media bias to spreading fear about China as a currency manipulator, a future competitor to global dominance, and as a trickster nation not to be trusted. This is how the media in the US presents China.

April 5, 2014

What's the point of the Crossfit Open?

The Crossfit Open is an annual competition open to everyone with the goal to find the "Fittest on Earth." Participants include kids in middle school all the way up to athletes in their 70's. In the 2014 Open, over 200,000 participants signed up from every corner of the world. This is my third year taking part in the Crossfit Open. Sunday at my gym is Open workout insanity when we all come in and go head-to-head. It makes for exciting rivalries, screaming spectators, and new friendships.

March 29, 2014

What Crossfit Open 14.5 is really about

The number of Crossfit movements that make sense for the 200,000 Crossfit Open competitors were dwindling after the first four workouts. The twittersphere was speculating and thrusters and burpees were expected on the menu. What came out however was an unexpected twist:

March 21, 2014

Dave Castro was wrong about Crossfit Open 14.4

We have a classic Crossfit chipper for our 14.4 Crossfit Open workout. After the workout was announced and Josh Bridges and Scott Panchik put on a show for us, Dave Castro predicted that most people would to get to 180 and then struggle with the muscle ups. That's not going to happen in my box!

March 17, 2014

On becoming a better Crossfitter

The major limiting factor for Crossfit athletes is not muscular endurance, but instead limited access to oxygen during a WOD. I find myself hunched over hoping to be able to breathe so I can get back to the bar sooner. Imagine doing cleans or snatches at a light weight, maybe 60%. Form doesn't break down, but after a bunch of reps, all you need is air. I don't think I would pass out if I kept working, rather coordination disappears and without it, no Olympic lift is going to happen with anything but an empty bar.

This is the my main challenge with light barbell WODs. I know that my muscles are fine, but the lungs can't keep up. Mikko Salo the Finn and Crossfit Games champion in 2009 claims that his legendary engine was build with 40 minute trail runs. Mikko is an incredible runner, but he is also a fireman, rescue diver and helps his dad lift antique furniture that weigh 500-1000 lbs each. There may be more to his engine than trail runs.

Mikko Salo

March 14, 2014

Everyone is wrong about the Crossfit Open's 14.3

The third workout of the Crossfit Games Open (14.3) is gorgeous. So much so that the masses are complaining. These workouts are clearly the best. If Crossfitters are complaining about Dave Castro's programming, it means one of two things.

March 7, 2014

Why can't you speak English?

The locals where I currently live don't speak English. They have no fear of outside forces invading and taking over their freedom. They are self-sufficient with quality farmland, cheap manufacturing, and create TV, movies, and music in their own language. They have no need to borrow culture, trade goods, or prostrate themselves to a globalized world. They don't need your services and are unapologetic about not speaking English to foreigners no matter what country they come from.

February 28, 2014

Am I a liberal?

Today, I visited a corner that has two used bookstores. I walked into one, dropped off my bag under one of the tables of books and asked how much they'd buy my Grisham book for. They said no thanks, and that they already have too many.

I walked next door and asked the same question, "I'd like to sell this John Grisham book, what can you offer me?" The owner of the store looked at the book and said apologetically that he can only give me $1. I thought for a second and said, sure sounds good. I recently donated two books to the same shop because they didn't want them. Readers need used bookstores more than the owners of the stores need our books. They are in the business of selling books, not buying them.

I buy my Grisham books for $3 and sell them back for $1. When my friend found out how little I sold my book for, she was horrified. I thought to myself, "Oh my God, am I a liberal?"

February 22, 2014

How to blog

I've heard it a million times, "I can't start a blog, I don't know how." I decided to write a simple how-to for helping people start a new blog.

1) Write about what you know

There are no boundaries. There is no ideal word count. You don't need to try to find your niche. Don't write for a particular audience. All of these things will find you. If you can't find your voice, just pretend you're writing an email to a friend. If you're 70 years old, make that a letter to a friend. There's no excuse why blogging isn't for you. Blogging is self-expression in public. It is a place for exhibitionism. Sometimes, your commenters and followers may affect what you choose to publish. This is ok. Your blog will change as you do. Don't try to force yourself into your blog. Let it flow with you throughout your journey.

February 15, 2014

SE Asia City Review

I'm not a traveller. I've been around, but I prefer to live somewhere, pick up the language and become immersed in the culture. This is the American way. You meet a whole lot of Westerns who say they don't meet many Americans and that we don't travel outside of our borders. Americans are not travellers looking to party and pick up whores, we'd rather expand our cultural boundaries, fall in love, start a business, and become part of the landscape. This is how I roll as well.

Asia is my home. I lived in Korea 2005-2006, China 2007-2008 and have been to Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma, Philippines and Indonesia. A goal of mine when first coming to SE Asia was to determining a place to stay for a few years. I'd like to use this space to discuss my perspective of various cities in SE Asia. I prefer big cities to rural living, so though there are wonderful places to settle with fewer than 5 million dwellers, any smaller than that and I miss the traffic.

February 5, 2014

Eliminate nutrition dogma

Paleo is not for me. OMG, did he just say that? He can't say that. I just did, deal with it.

Crossfit HQ prescribes zone/paleo for eating. Zone was created by Dr. Barry Sears and involves weighing and measuring food to ensure that the proper quantity of macronutrients is consumed at the right time throughout the day. Paleo ignores the precision and is about getting Crossfitters to consume quality foods and to get rid of garbage.

January 25, 2014

I'm a drug addict

My addictions cause major changes that significantly affect my psychological and emotional state. I can intentionally bring on or avoid the intensity they provide.

My view of self is skewed. I look at some of my posts and the self-abuse that I lavish on myself when I'm down. Then I recognize the difference when I chat with my girlfriend online. My mind turns toward my invincibility, I am a king.

January 20, 2014

Adapt, who me!?

I've been finding myself working in a third language lately. That is, much of my day is not in the language of my current location, and not in my native language, but in a third. Yesterday, I transformed my brain to interact in Korean. The day before, I had to use Chinese and the culture that accompanies the language. I switch cultures, a necessary condition of being understood.

Culture always comes before language. In other words, without learning the culture, vocabulary and grammar doesn't get you where you need to go. No matter how many words you've studied or how complex your clauses in another language, if you are saying or doing the wrong thing for the culture, your listener will be confused. Language is meant for communication and if the culture and language aren't compatible, then you've already lost.

January 15, 2014

Just Write

Only after finishing many many years of schooling have I learned to appreciate reading and writing. From age 13-23, I hated being forced to read something, then forced to write. The problem was not the reading or the writing. Rather, it was the simple matter of having little choice in the subject matter. When the material is chosen for the student, it is no longer the student's work. When the student is given the freedom to choose, they become the engine for learning. The power is given to the individual rather than the taskmaster.

January 10, 2014

Why be alone?

I feel that I have to hide my evil from others. If people know what is really in my head or heart, they will lose interest. I have no warm happy sharing loving feeling. I only know analysis. I want to figure out and interpret. That is what I was born to do. It is completely incompatible with human interaction.

People are apparently meant to connect. They are meant to be part of one another. They are supposed to entwine into each other. Togetherness is what life is about. I don't understand and can't understand. It is not part of me. My heart is hard. I don't trust others to catch me. I am certain of judgment and disapproval.

January 5, 2014

How will you be remembered?

I was in a classroom and the teacher went around the room asking what we hope to leave behind. What will we be remembered by? What will be our legacy? We are trained and know from a young age to say we will leave behind children of our own that we will shape and mold. They will be better versions of ourselves. The wisdom that we leave them with will spread to their children. We will ensure them a happy life, and they in turn will do the same for their kids.