An American Problem

A poem, more or less.

I read
Seventeen children
Were shot dead

I shook my head and swiped to the next blood red news. Fourteen injured and I didn’t blink. I didn’t think any more of it. That’s how inured I am. It was type on pages. Then I saw their faces and the shell of apathy cracked and the patina faded. These kids are dead. These children died. And I’m a grown man so when I cried it was on the inside and I took deep breaths until — my eyes cleared and the lump in my throat subsided. Choke down the shame that our society decided that this is the price of freedom.

Is the price
Of freedom
Are they free now?

LGN 134: My Seventh Fitness Anniversary

Inside: Let’s do the math; Accidental Fasting; It’s been real

Wow. Seven years.

My family is good a barometer for where I am, weight wise. I have wonderful, well meaning relatives who greet me with:

“You’re putting on a little weight there, mister.”

Rest In Peace, Kenneth

Twenty nine years old.

So young.

Respect and love, cousin.

Technically, first cousin once removed, which (I had to look it up) qualifies as nephew. But nephew doesn’t seem quite right.

I guess…

Apparently, there had been a storm brewing for a long time. There’s only so much a person can take and only so much a person can do.

I understand. I don’t even know what to say. When it comes to mental health, we need to be okay getting help the same as if we needed surgery or stitches or broke a bone. But what do we do when that doesn’t work? When the bone is set but never fully mends? Life isn’t kind sometimes. Life isn’t fair. We struggle with things we didn’t ask for, earn, or deserve.

Keep trying. Fight the good fight. Love and be loved. Be kind to ourselves. Be patient with ourselves. And live as an action. With intent.

And then?

Travel well, Kenneth. Travel on.

LGN 133: Slopes & Strokes

Inside: Snowboarding! Return of the Mack; Swim IV; the Cooper Test

You don’t understand.

I am stoked to be able to snowboard. I’ve been thinking for years that I was going to have to sell all of my snowboard gear.

Not my baby!

Back in early 2015 I did the REI Learn to Ski or Snowboard class at Liberty Resort. Then I kept going back. Went with some friends once or twice. M showed me the ropes and ended up taking me on a black diamond run. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to be. I wasn’t. D and Z spent some quality time with me on a weekday night on the green runs. Many thanks. I bought the rest-of-the-season deal, I bought a snowboard and accessories, and my family gave me $$ for my birthday so I could buy a season pass for the following season. (Guess who cheaped out and didn’t buy the season pass insurance.)

2017 Year in Review

Inside: I attached too many photos so it’ll take a while to load. Rookie mistake.

The word of the year is “limerence”.

Let’s start here. I had a list of things I wanted to do/accomplish in 2017. Let’s take a look at that.

2016 Year in Review

  • Learn to swim
  • Learn to shoot (right handed and left eye dominant is awkward)
  • Photo exhibit at Artomatic
  • Play live music
  • Write a book (or finish a book since I’ve started stories)
  • Continue to recuperate the knees
  • PRs in the gym
  • Snowshoe
  • Do the health thing
  • Road trip, travel
  • And more…

Personally, I predict intense restlessness. I’m kind of overwhelmed and overstimulated and overbored at the same time. I know I’m not the only one.

I need to get better at doing the things I mean to do. I need to make more music, one way or another. I need to work on my hat art.

I want to take more photos of people. I want to experiment with color palettes, shapes and sensuality. Visually stunning in ways other than raw sex appeal.

A few years ago I quipped about making my mark, finding my niche, maybe even actually making money by being a butt photographer. Haha. Very funny.

Now everybody’s a butt photographer! Go figure.


I did do a lot of things I wanted to and things I didn’t expect at all. There was some good stuff in there. It’s easy to forget what happened. It’s times like this that I’m glad I have a photography addiction.


The #metoo news articles have died down a bit. Is it fading from the national consciousness?

I’ve never agreed with the idea that sexual assault and harrassment is all about power and not sex.

LGN 132: Moving on to Swimming IV

Water dance
Water dance
Water dance
Hey!! Get – in – the – water!! Unh!!!


November 23, 2017

Kicking uses up all of my oxygen.

Something has me worried. I don’t know if it’s real or science or just in my head.

Class 10 of 10. I had a bad swim class. It was a workout class.

  • Warm up with 150 yards of freestyle.
  • 25×4 kickboard fast.
  • 100 yards freestyle, counting strokes, aiming for one less stroke each length.
  • 100 yards of something else.
  • 150 yards freestyle cool down.

I didn’t get far. I couldn’t swim a length without stopping 3/4 of the way, at best. And I can’t count while I swim, apparently.

It may have had something to do with the benadryl-like pill I took the night before. That definitely has affects on focus and energy levels. My lungs feel different on antihistamines — slow.

But it’s the legs. Using MyZone in the gym, you can see your heart rate on the monitors. My heart rate hangs out in the greens and blues. As soon as my legs get involved it’s up into the yellows, even with relatively light loads. Any sustained effort, high reps, and I’m quickly in the red.

As soon as I start kicking my heart rate goes up, oxygen being demanded faster than I can breathe? Seriously, ten strokes and I’m wiped. Too tired to breathe rhythmically. Let me tell you from experience, the last thing you want to do is try to take a breath prematurely.

If that’s what’s going on, I have no idea what to do about it. And it’s kind of important. YouTube videos say that kicking provides a minimal contribution to propulsion. For pro swimmers their kicks provide 10 – 12% of their locomotion. For regular folks, it may be more like 3 – 5%. So some swimming techniques only use their kicks for balance. But our instructors encourage us to use relaxed but energetic kicks.

Freestyle breathing left.png

December 6, 2017

Shoulder glitch.

Swimming can be hard on the shoulders. Our instructors have mentioned it but I didn’t feel it until tried to swim fast. There are forces involved.

I’ve got a glitch in my shoulder. Rotator cuff, I’ve been told. I tweaked it on a cave rappelling tour (they didn’t mention that we had to climb back up the muddy, slick rock we rapelled down — tricksy guides) a few years ago and whatever I did to it, it’s not the kind of thing that’s going to heal without medical intervention. It’s not nearly bad enough to need it, though.

I don’t know when/how to breathe during backstroke. That’s partially because I’m constantly splashing water in my face, and when I try to focus on more controlled, better-aligned arms, my kicks get all spastic. I’ve noticed that when I rotate to the side my kick falters. All those kick drills are defenestrated. Getting there, though.

When I can relax, it comes easy. Easier. Soft style not hard style.

December 15, 2017

Perspective is important after a rough time in the water.

I don’t know about this. It’s just not happening. It’s — okay, I need to keep things in perspective.


  • I know how to swim.
  • I can float. (I floated on my back for, like, three minutes in class the other day. Had to scull a little bit at the hips but I impressed myself.)
  • I could fall in the middle of the deep end of a pool and have a very good chance of surviving and even enjoying myself. (A year ago that would have been a death sentence. That’s not hyperbole. I mean funeral, pall bearers, in the ground at Cedar Hill Cemetery dead. From a few feet of contained, calm, clear water. Ridiculous.)
  • I’m worrying about how far I can swim, which means I’m not worrying about if I can swim.
  • I love being in the water.


  • I don’t swim well.
  • I’ve taken many classes this year: Swimming I, Swimming II, Swimming III (x4). Excellent instruction, excellent progress, but I can’t make it across the damn pool (25 yards) consistently.
  • I can’t swim without maxing out my heart rate.
  • I can’t breathe; I’m not replenishing oxygen or maybe I’m not expelling enough C02. My backstroke isn’t great and it wears me out, too, even though you can breathe any time you want, in theory.
  • Breast stroke is … let’s not talk about that yet.

All those classes adds up to about 60 classes. That’s a lot of classes, but in terms of acquiring life skills it’s “only” 60 hours, to put things into perspective. That’s like one and a half work weeks and, to be honest, I haven’t practiced on my own at all since swimming II. I still do the semi-private land-based training at UA two to three times a week also, but nothing makes you better at swimming except swimming.

I just … I can’t imagine being able to swim 200 yards (8 lengths) or whatever the PADI Open Water Certification requires. Float or tread water for 10 minutes?? I’m still working on treading water for 15 seconds (granted, I haven’t practiced at all but that’s because I’m intimidated by going to the deep end of the pool alone and navigating my way around all the serious swimmers).

It’s like if someone told me that I had to bench press 750 lbs. or acquire/save/earn half a billion dollars in order to [insert life goal here]. I suppose it’s in the realm of possibility but it doesn’t seem realistic. At all.

Okay. Bite size chunks. New goal. One lap of freestyle. 50 yds. Down and back. Backstroke goal. One length. 25 yds.

December 18, 2017

I got approval for Swimming IV.

We did the “test” for swim III. I treaded water for 15 seconds in 14 feet. Did freestyle for a 25 yd. length in 7 feet. Twice. And backstroke in 7 feet for 25 yards (with two rests floating on my back along the way but I’m still counting it). I’ve finally found my breathing rhythm for backstroke, which amounts to “exhale while I’m splashing water in my face and inhale during the non-self-waterboarding phase of the arm strokes.”

In other words, the instructor will recommend that I move on to swimming IV. Progress! It’s all deep end, which is intimidating because of how tired I get. Oh well. So long and thanks for all the fish.

December 20, 2017

Video is brutally honest. Aesthetics are functional.

The New Year will bring a new level of class. I asked the instructor to take some video at the end. I really wish I had done that a long time ago. It’s ugly and kind of embarrassing. I do not look good in the water but — eff it. Beauty is functional. Ugly form equals inefficient and energy-draining technique, or lack thereof. I clearly see what I’m struggling with. Clearly I can’t think of two things at once.

Backstroke. There’s a lot of time between my strokes. That explains a lot. I was thinking about breathing rhythm and the instructor’s advice on a cleaner, less water splashy stroke. Didn’t even realize I was pausing. A smoother, continuous stroke and I wouldn’t have to try to power myself through.

Freestyle. Again, I was thinking about breathing, namely breathing to my left. So something else inevitably had to suffer. Look at how short my left arm stroke is. It’s coming out of the water around my rib cage as opposed to down by my pocket. That happens when I try to go fast. That explains a few things.

Kicking. My kick spazzes out during the rotation, mainly because I’m consciously thinking about breathing. And it’s not a tight kick, but that may partially be just a “my body” thing.

I’m not reaching nearly as much as I think I am. And so on. Blah blah blah.

Why doesn’t every class involve video and review? I know I can definitely improve my stroke efficiency when I think about it. I can usually fix things on the spot when I’m aware of them. At least that’s the way it worked when I used to do martial arts.

Pretty cool, though. If you want to get better at something you need a coach, and every now and then you need to be able to see what your coach sees.

LGN 131: Swimming 3 Still – The Struggle is Real

And pork and beans.

Learning to swim is … involved. It ain’t easy. It’s one of those skills — like learning a language — that’s best to pick up when you’re a childrens. It’s doable, but damn.

Over the Summer I went to White Oak Canyon with friends and their kids. I waded out into the water next to the falls, taking photos. The kids got in and were swimming in the deep part like it was the most natural thing. I wanted so badly to be able to do that. I suppose I could have tried but — naw, son. Wasn’t quite ready to attempt to swim in the wild in a frigid not-a-pool.

November 6, 2017 – Reasons & Excuses

OMYR: We Have Different Stories

Old Man Young rants about: Protests (Trigger warning); Alienation; This is long but I was determined to finish an entry.

I’m not going to judge anyone because of what they don’t say online. None of us can keep up with and process all the bulls— that we’re hosed down with every day. Commenting on and discussing every crappy thing would be a stressful full time job with unpaid overtime.


We have different stories.

It’s troubling and disappointing that we don’t see each other. We don’t listen to each other. That’s what I find stressful about the way we interact with each other.

LGN 130: Swimming 3 – Everybody Poops

Well, that was an unceremonious end to Swimming III.