A last post to wrap up a shitty shitty year.


This is a day late and a dollar short, but what gives?

To look back at the last January’s post for New Year’s resolutions, here’s what’s what:

  • -Find a new job.- That finally happened. I’ve moved out of the non-profit sector, which is really nice, and I’m finally earning an ‘adult’ salary. It was time and it’s taken a lot of stress out of our lives.
  • Spend more time with friends. Meh, kinda sorta. I’ve made an effort but life is really running by…
  • Travel more. Didn’t happen for a couple of reasons, not the least because of major surgery.

So, I’d say I managed to make, say 60% of what I wanted to do this last year, which is not so bad. And a new job is a biggie but really also the only good thing that happened this year. The other big event was my spinal surgery. It’s also the reason I didn’t really post much this year. The recovery went well. Actually, it went really well, very little pain and no need for medication. But it also took a lot longer than I expected, not because it took longer, but because I wasn’t really totally aware how big a deal this was. I was horizontal for 6-8 weeks and initially walked with a cane. And had to wear that terrible collar for the whole time. All of this is done now, and the bones are growing together nicely. The result of this is too though that my BJJ journey has ended this year. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but the risk doesn’t equal the rewards at this point and it’s time to say goodbye. And one word of advice — if your arm tingles, get that shit checked out. That is a neurological symptom and should be taken seriously, regardless what the online forums suggest. 😉

After that was taken care of a standard blood test showed some odd results and to make a long story short, turns out that I have Hemochromatosis. Not a huge deal, especially if it gets diagnosed this early, but it means one more chore — regular bloodletting. Yep, that’s the only way to control it.

I also got diagnosed with a wheat intolerance, because guess what, it’s not normal to have non-normal poo all the time. That means my diet has probably gotten better, but also that I can’t really drink beer anymore and, because of the hemochromatosis, I should not really consume any alcohol anyway.

This really rounds out 2016 and so far it seems also from what I heard from friends that this year sucked pretty much for everyone all around, on a personal level and I don’t have to mention the other shit that’s been going down in this country.

Anyway, onwards. Here’s to hoping that 2017 will be better. I’m recovered enough that I can get back into weightlifting, which I’m planning to start this year.

I’m also thinking about getting a new tattoo, but that really depends on whether the guy who has already done both of my arms happens to visit the PNW and is in driving distance of the Emerald City. So here are my ‘resolutions’

  • Start weightlifting and reach whatever goal my coach and I set for myself. Right now I’m really more interested in doing something but nothing. I worry about PRs later.
  • Travel at least one fucking bit! That must be possible, I’m an adult! And travel for work doesn’t count.
  • Spend more time with friends. That’s always a good resolution to have and it takes work and needs reminding.

Any good books I read this year? While recovering I devoured the Marla Mason series and am not also caught up on the Expanse series — both highly recommended. I’ve never watched the TV adaptation for the Expanse and, quite frankly, it looked like crap so I just skipped it entirely. I’ve been terrible with tracking my books on Goodreads this year, so I’m trying remember…bear with me as I enter my memory palace…I did read quite a bit of the Witcher books parallel to playing the Witcher 3, both of which was very fun. Oh, and I read The Cartel, Don Winslow’s follow-up to The Power of the Dog, both of which are terrible and amazing and terrifying and highly recommended.

A friend of mine talked me into getting Destiny and I dug it but have also now reached a very grindy endgame that I don’t really enjoy. I do jump into The Division from time to time, not because it’s a great game (it has a lot of flaws, actually) but I’m a sucker for the apocalypse and it’s oh so pretty.

So that’s that, fuck off 2016 and here’s to a hopefully better 2017. And I’m @beakperson on Twitter, so follow me there, you nerds.


Relaxing into the New Year


So what about that late resolution from March 2015 about decluttering and getting rid of books? Well, it went so-so. We are still in the process of getting rid of things and while our possessions are shrinking it doesn’t really feel like it. Mostly because a lot of the things we are getting rid of are already in our hidden stashes, so the stashes might get emptier, but it’s not really visible. Oh well. At least I know it’s gone.

How did we do with the other ones from the actual beginning of the year? You be the judge. Resolutions for the new year? Not that much different, short and sweet:

  • Find a new job.

  • Spend more time with friends.

  • Travel more.

That’s pretty much it. We did better doing these things this year, but it really needs a conscious effort and planning to do these things and it’s so easy to not do it and then months go by that you haven’t seen a friend that lives in the same town!

This was the first year at my new gym and I’m not regretting one second that I switched. The training is great, I got my blue belt, people are very nice, it could not be better. Unfortunately this was also a year of injuries, including aggravating the slipped-disc situation in my neck and one incident where I thought “Holy shit, I think I just broke my collar-bone!” (I didn’t). But it’s all worth it, which is a little bit crazy. And I think I might be having a bit of a hard time accepting that I’m in my late thirties and not late twenties and that I have to start to be more aware of things when I’m rolling and to tap when I’m in a position or situation where I can get injured again (stacking comes to mind) and not only to submissions. Lame, but that’s going to be my project for 2016.

We did end up buying a condo this year, which was an insane process but now we are property owners and don’t have to worry about cleaning the gutters, haha.

This has been a terrible year for blogging and I know it’s been terribly quiet. I can’t force this stuff and I know the motivation to blog comes and goes in phases for me and that’s okay. I’m much more wordy on Twitter, in case you crave more regular updates and want to check if I’m still alive. Again and again, I wish more people I know would be on Twitter, which I still prefer over Facebook. Oh well, a grumpy German can dream.

This year I tool the Goodreads challenge of reading, what 20 books this year and ended up reading 46. More or less, because I also counted the ones I started and stopped reading because I didn’t like them, but those were really just a handful. There where some great books and some terrible ones, but I really enjoyed, in no particular order:

  • The Rifters Trilogy by Peter Watts

  • The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow — holy shit, what a ride. I’m currently reading the sequel, The Cartel. If you are interested in decade-spanning narco thrillers, this is amazing.

  • Dreamsongs I & II and Tuf Voyaging, all by G.R.R. Martin and they are all great fun and so good you don’t want them to end.

  • I’m going to throw Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy in here, as well, simply because the first book is amazing and while the second and the third grow progressively weaker, in my opinion, it’s a great, visceral ride.

Not a lot of movies this year that stood out and no, I haven’t watched the new Star Wars yet. Neither Mad Max. I’m dependent on when these movies come out on Netflix or any other streaming service and frankly, I don’t really enjoy seeing movies in the movie theater anymore. I did watch some great shows this year though, and again, in no particular order, Hannibal, Narcos, and True Detective all blew my mind.

I’ve doodled around with some video games — as far as my computer is actually able to run them — and enjoyed playing Guild Wars way more than I thought. I also have a fledgling party in Wasteland 2, where I thought I’d go ahead, make a character based on me, and try to actually role-play myself. I’ll let you know how that goes. And despite exciting new and ‘fun’ developments in Dwarf Fortress I didn’t have any patience for it this year…

So, to avoid having this post sit here for another three weeks, off we go, happy 2016!

Okay, maybe there is a resolution for the year, of sorts…

…decluttering! We have too much stuff and it’s stressing me out, but it’s so fucking hard to get rid of things! And I did manage to shlep a surprising amount across the pond when I moved to the US and it’s only gotten more. And I’ve come across a series of posts on Root Simple about decluttering and I guess I’ll start in earnest.

It’s hard. Books especially. It’s not only that I have some sort of connection to the particular books, but also because I remember how difficult it was to get them or they were expensive. I’ll probably not get rid of books that are out of print now, like the edition of Apocalypse Culture that I own, but there is a lot of other crap that I might as well get rid of. On Root Simple one guideline they used to sort books out was;

The book was released to the universe if:

I had read it and absorbed the information
* The library has a copy
* It does not give me joy
* I don’t think I’ll ever read it
* My interests have changed
* I read part but don’t think I’ll read the rest
* I kept the book if:

It’s a volume I refer to for reference on a regular basis
* It gives me joy
* It’s especially beautiful as an object (only one or two books actually ended up in this category–I’m not a book collector)
* I really intend to read it
* I want to re-read it

This seems like a pretty straightforward way of doing it and I’ve had some success. It did need several sweeps of the bookshelf over several weeks, but I have gotten rid of a bunch of books, even though some are still in the eternal limbo of ‘maybe’. However, it’s a good start, and ebooks (did I ever mention that I love my kindle?) are a great way to reduce book clutter, as well, especially because the library offers a lot of books in e-book formats, as well. So now I’m also becoming a lot more picky about what books to actually get in physical form and the stuff that is suggested on Wink Books is the way to go!

It’s already waaay into the new year!


…and I haven’t written anything here! No weekend posts, no photos, nada! What’s going on! Not too much, really, I’ve just not really been in the mood lately and there doesn’t seem much to report. We both took time off over the holidays, actually, we have been terrible about taking vacation last year, so we took it all in a bunch at the end of the year.

Which was nice.

Christmas was okay, as well. Drama-free this time, just the way I like it. The only weird thing is that this winter here was unusually mild. It’s not like the Pacific Northwest gets harsh winters, at least West of the Cascades, but trees had budding leaves a couple of days before Christmas and the sun was shining. That ain’t right.

New Year’s Resolutions…well, I did do some of the ones I had last January, but not all of them…so what do we have for this year;

  • Be more conscious about taking day or weekend trips and actually plan them and actually do them. Both me and the wife are not great about the planning part of this, so this is kind of a biggie. Well, kinda sorta. Still something we need to work on.
  • Do more stuff with friends. We’re both social but, again, we’re also bad with planning stuff and keeping in touch with folks. So that’s something I want to work on. Again, kinda sorta. I’ve made more of an effort but with everyone working, everyone doing things, this is a lot more difficult than it was when I was a teenager.
  • Figure out what I actually want, career-wise. I have a job, but it’s definitely not a career and I don’t want to sound harsh, but it is somewhat a dead-end job in the sense that there is nowhere to go within the company. This is a tough one, because I have a lot of anxiety about this issue that I somehow need to untangle. Maybe try a career coach or something… Oh, the endless question. I’m still not sure, but by the end of the year I’ve started to seriously look for a new job, possible in sales, bless my heart…
  • Keep recording the It’s Unclear Podcast. It’s been not very regularly, which supposedly is what you have to do in order to grow an audience but I guess doing it at all is better than nothing. Our schedule have been wonky and it’s hard to find a date and time that works and sometimes you have a date and time that works but both of us a tired, etc. — be that as it may, expect more episodes in 2015. You can download the episodes on iTunes and stick them in your head! Ha, that didn’t go so well. It’s going to be a plan for the new year, as well, and fear not, this is not dead, just very difficult to organize. Kudos to all the folks who manage to put up a show every week and have done so for years.

I’m actually not a huge fan of resolutions, I guess I’d rather think of them as To-Do lists. Some of it is stuff I’m already doing and want to be more consistent with. Or I know I should be doing them and am not, for whatever reason, and might just have to let them go and move on. For example, I’ll never be a master whittler, because I just do not enjoy it. I maybe enjoy the idea of it, but the actual whittling — nah.

The major change this year is probably that I have changed gyms and now attend a pure BJJ academy — no more cross-training for me. If anyone of you ever had to change academies you know that this can be awkward. And it was. There were some awkward email exchanges and I admit that I’ve so far avoided conversations with some people. However, this is the best decision for me and my development and it makes a huge difference to roll with all belt levels and not just with one group of white belts. I’m not saying that the group of white belts does not progress, however, I’ve (and a friend of mine who also switched to the same school) noticed that there are some glaring holes in my game — in addition to the ones that are there anyway — that stem directly from rolling with folks who don’t know how to exploit them. I was blown away by the differences between rolling with the different levels in one evening, from white to brown. The white belts I can handle and, sometimes, at this point also dominate, depending on how far they are and if they weigh 200 lbs. or are closer to my weight. The other ones are smashing me (no news here) in oh so many different ways. I think last week a brown belt used the ‘shoulder of justice’ so enthusiastically that I thought my eye would pop out. Good times.

The switch also means that I’m going from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours of class in the evening, which is great. I have to figure out some of the scheduling, but I want to try and continue to go 3x per week, which seems to be the sweet spot for me. If I do more my body says no-no-no, if I do less I get antsy.

I will miss the guys at my old school and will probably drop in from time to time, but I think this was the right decision and I’m not feeling bad about it. Plus, it’s nice to finally have actual grappling mats and not roll on super-hard tatami-ish mats. My shoulder immediately noticed the difference and let’s face it — I’m not getting any younger and my old and brittle body likes to be pampered.

If you’ve been involved in any martial arts and had or wanted to switch academies, what was it like? Was it awkward and horrible or easy-peasy-we’re-friends-forever?

Some more Resolutions for this year

I think I need to add some resolutions for this year:

  • get stronger
  • work on cardio/conditioning
  • work on grips

During the last three weeks my gas tank was so empty that I just could not go on anymore and it was a humbling and frustrating experience. It’s probably a mix of not being smart about using my energy and burning it doing unnecessary things, like pushing where I don’t need to push, pulling where holding would do, etc. and, well, not enough cardio.

I also want to work on my grip strength, because I’ve noticed that open guard and especially spider guard is burning through my grips really fast and I’m left with what feels like five sausages at the end of my hands instead of fingers.

So I started doing Tabata Circuits, some bodyweight and grip training, and hope this will pay off over the next year. This is not the first time I’m trying to work out at home and so far I haven’t had a lot of success with it. However, the difference this time is that it is actually purpose-driven, so maybe that will make a difference.

We’ll see.