Posted on

Improving My Kick

Just a quickie today. I am working to improve my kick. When you swim you need to have your motions flow smoothly. Kick from the hips. Make sure that you do not keep your legs completely straight (here is a good example). That means that you need to allow enough bend in your knees that you slightly break the water.

Your knees can bend but not too much. If you are kicking and your knees are coming down and forward, then you'll actually be propelling yourself backwards.

Make sure you're rolling your hips as you kick with each leg and that your legs are slightly turned inwards so that your feet aren't just slapping up and down.

Imagine you're kicking in a bucket. Obviously point your toes. This should work as a cue. You don't want to take big sweeping kicks, but rather smaller ones so don't kick any wider than the width of a bucket.

Kick faster not deeper if you want to move forward more.

Good form is the most important thing in pretty much every single sport, but much more so in swimming and running. It is easier to get it right from the start, and knowing the right drills to help with that will definitely put you at an advantage.

Swimming, unlike nearly every other sport, has no 'shock' movements.

Water workouts, by their nature, are 'replenishing'. Think of a rehabilitating runner, where do they start? With water-work. The water 'soaks up' injuries.

Posted on

Blending Reality

I think that color does as much for a movie as the story, acting, and direction. For example the vibrant use of neons in Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon. Both of these films are hypnotic. Everything about both of those movies pops off the screen.

Michael Mann's LA films have an aesthetic, both Heat and Collateral are some of my favorites. Drive replicates it to an extent too. Yet for me Miami Vice contains some of Mann’s best cinematography. It is a film that is usually overlooked.

The whole production did some amazing things on the digital side, as well as seamlessly mixing occasional 35mm footage throughout. The original series was filmed in 35mm, it was an extreme expense at the time for most series, and used similar colors. The production values helped set it above others.

The film Miami Vice drew a lot from the original series not just the aesthetics but the whole ambiance which was skillfully crafted together.

Mann is one of the greats.

Posted on

A Hymn Before Vatican II

Why Catholics Can't Sing by Thomas Day

The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste

Have you realized how bad the US hymn selection is when you attend Church?

Then I would suggest "Why Catholics Can't Sing," written by Thomas Day. He is a professional Catholic organist who lived through the Vatican II era and also taught sacred music at university.

Italian, Spanish, and Mexican parishes have long had boisterous vernacular hymns, but these "ethnic" Catholic cultures were never really mainstream. Yet, we have long been left with the standard Catholicism, which in its roots was Irish American Catholicism, which hated high church innovation and had a very weak, very new repertoire.

The Irish Americans also were proud of their silent and somber heritage, though. For this reason, high masses were avoided in favor of music-less low masses.

And even though Irish Catholics in America were suddenly in a land where they were free to sing, and sing, and loudly, what would they sing?

There was no culture of hymns from their motherland, because you can hardly sing congregational hymns while under persecution. Were they supposed to adopt Anglican hymns, now that they were in the New World? How could they, after having to bear the humiliation of walking past proud and vibrant Anglican churches singing hymns loudly while attending secret masses in barns. Instead, you got a collection of hymns that mimicked the style of music popular among Irish American urbanites- and a small repertoire at that.

In.. the '40s? '50s? A liturgical revival started, which enthusiastic lliturgists started assembling little boys choirs and scholas. They started trying to reintroduce chant and polyphony into masses.

This was cut short in the '60s by Vatican 2.

People have asked me why I don't always sing along. And I give the standard answer, the one where you just say it to move on. "I'm a bad singer." Actually I love to sing, but I just don't like the songs that we have to choose from. They sound like hack music. And some are just plain bad.

How do you tell the bad from the good? Look through your hymnal for things copyright before 1960s for examples.

When you find one notice that the hymns all end with doxologies- a verse of praise to the Trinity.

This is a feature of hymns that should be reinstated to our current use of them, because it reminds us of the purpose of our singing which can so easily be forgotten with some modern music.

Posted on

Footwear = Foot Pain

I don't know if this exists, or if it is a mythical creature. I am talking about footwear that doesn't hurt my feet. I am on my feet most of the day and when I get home my feet hurt. And though I have been actively looking for them for a long time they have remained elusive.

Rainbow sandals were a good fit for the more casual good weather shoe. Though I got a sunburn once on my right foot so bad that it swelled up and I couldn't wear shoes.

I have yet to find a shoe that I have no foot pain ever, but these are the best I have worn.

For sneakers I like to go with either Nike (casual) or New Balance (running), but their quality seems to have declined somewhat over time and I buy a new pair more often that I use to with the same amount of wear. They only last about 6-9 months before I have worn them out which is slightly faster than it used to be.

While I find Crocs nice — my mother got me hooked on them — I can't wear those in the lab. Plus the are nice to pull on, but I am not sure 8-10 hours on them would be as nice.

I've got some shoes in circulation that I have bought over the last couple of years, but they're not really any more soft or supportive than what I would like. Then I have some that remained heavy and stiff even I spent time breaking in. Ironically the shoes will last me decades since I almost never wear them. This is why my professors in college always looked dated.

Posted on

My Shoes Make My Goal Achievable

For Running and percentage breakdown use per week:

  1. New Balance Minimus, no cushion, get about 10% use
  2. New Balance Zante, medium cushion, about 15%
  3. New Balance 1080s with a large cushion 25%
  4. Altra Torins with a medium to large cushion get the rest

A variety of shoes to prevent overuse injuries.

For walking around the city I like a little more comfort, something casual:

  • Nike Free Running

I wear — or have worn other shoes — one example would be my Boracay's are a weird shoe, at least for me, which I didn't list.

They feel fine and can put up a good amount of miles, but they're just different somehow.

I only wear them when I don't want to wear the other shoes and though I have tried I have been unable to pinpoint why.

The Saucs are versatile forever shoes, the 1400 is a solid track/race shoe, and the Cloudflow is this goofy-fun tempo shoe, but the Boracays are something else. I would suggest giving them a try if you are having a hard time finding a shoe that you like.

Posted on

Hey! That’s My Bag

Have you ever been standing at the luggage carousel, watching people fight their way to the front and just start grabbing bags? I have been witness to a number of interesting scenes, including one where a guy grabbed my bag.

Now I use a band of colored tape around the handles of my luggage even my carry ons, all in the same color. Generally speaking a bright color works well.

My father suggested it and since then I mainly use pink gaff tape. The nice thing about the tape is that it doesnt usually leave that nasty adhesive goo behind if you need to remove it. And it is made from cotton which feels nice.

I buy my gaffer type from amazon.

Posted on

So Adorable

I simply adore it when little kids acting like adults. My nieces and nephews do this all of the time. It is priceless when they put their hands on their hips and try to have a serious discussion with a grown up. Or when they pretend to go to work and do whatever their childs' mind thinks adults must do at work and they have their brow all furrowed.

Adorable. Every time.

On the other hand, adults acting like kids, this is a whole bunch of disturbing. The only exception being Tom Hanks in Big.

I guess you could call it a child's sense of wonder.

They're never cynical or apathetic. Everything is interesting, even the stupid things, and it just reminds you how beautiful everything can be if you just look at it like it's new.

Posted on

The Save Yourself in Disaster Preparedness Mindset

I took a course when my parents and I took a cruise, this was a couple of years ago when I graduated from college. It was a real eye opener for me. And it was anecdotal in so far that it was a story the instructor told.

The instructor once said that the fatalities of women in catastrophic disasters at sea was much higher than men. And then he asked the class why.

A lot of the people present at the course — both men and women — were of the opinion that women were just naturally weaker swimmers than men. Those that had other ideas suggested that they either stayed inside their rooms or ran around half-crazed.

For the people that said they were more likely to be in interior cabins, the reasoning was the men were more likely to be in bars or socializing on the deck for longer than women. A crazy person doesn't listen to authority right? Sp for the group that answered with "half-crazed" they proposed that the women were less likely to listen to authorities during emergencies.

Sorry.

According to the instructor the majority of women who die during disasters were reported to be going back after their children and were caught in the worsening conditions and didn't survive.

It sounds plausible — I'd go back for my dog. I don't have any kids yet, but she is my precious baby. I can't bear the thought of her being all alone when facing death, even if I knew that I could not save her.

Of course the men didn't say, "I didn't go back for my kids because I can just make more." It was still the instructor's belief that this was the reason more women die in disasters than men. Women going to be more likely to sacrifice themselves for their children, men were more likely to flee.

Posted on

Modern Catholic

I guess you would say that I am a millennial. People in my age range seem to be moving more and more away from religion. Yet, that isn't always the case and a lot of churches are making targeted attempts to bring them "back into the church," though the church may not be their church.

Organizations like that attempt to make it modern and avoid the traditional aspects of the church. I would run from those churches. If it wasn’t for Orthodoxy I don’t think I would’ve ever been interested in Christianity.

They take away everything I want, tradition, and replace it with everything that I dislike.

I want prayer and reverence.

I want connection.

I want spirituality.

What I do not want is a concert.

The only thing I need a worship service to make me feel is reverence for God and a connection to the generations of saints that have come before me. I find that in a liturgical service and a contemporary service feels like a bad concert for a social club I'm not a part of. It's like the "contemporary" services are more to feel good about oneself rather than to actually grow in one's faith.

Getting people in the door is not the goal of a church worship service.

That's the problem with a lot of American churches.

The charismatic megachurch is a phenomenon that is only possible in the First World, where religion and leisure can significantly overlap.

We view the worship service as an evangelistic tool rather than a means for the worship of God and the edification of the saints. You might fill the church with people but what kind of Gospel are you giving them? But the moment you give them the real thing they will leave. Evangelism was the order of the saints outside the church.

In the rest of the world, people are sticking to the form of worship that the Church has kept since within living memory of the Apostles.

Posted on

A Thorn In Our Flesh: Bad Behavior in the Church

To be fair as well, bad behavior has been the Church's thorn in the flesh since the very beginning. Who can forget how often the apostles would squabble among themselves while Jesus was yet on earth! Or that one time when Paul rebuked Peter right to his face for "being reprehensible?"

Our Lord in our own spheres of influence:

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house."

People are angry at the tragic state of the Church in America, at least in my community and with those I have spoken to in other communities. This is from my personal experience so you should not take my statement at face value. And that can lead to some less than pleasant behavior and siege mentalities that I think you will find in most locations. Unchristian behavior in the Church is a scandal that reflects badly on the Church and misrepresents the God we claim to follow.

But the Church is more than its human failings, more than its foibles and flaws. There's a reason Song of Songs 1:4 is sometimes seen as an allegory for the Church after all.

This shapes non-Catholics opinion of us in such a way that you will experience unpleasant people from time to time. But if they are ignorant of Catholicism enough to hate it, they are ignorant of the rest of organized religion. When I hear them claim X is better than Y I just smile. I can't free them from their ignorance. When people don't understand something, their opinion is a dice roll of which stories they believe. The enemy of my enemy is my friend mentality is alive and well. It is naive.

But then people have hated truth and goodness since the beginning.