Tag: Part

The Memory of Love, Part 1

For the entire period of my association with Satyam as an employee, I had never – not even for a day – missed sticking my pen into the front pocket of my shirt. My romantic crush Preeti gifted me a pen – a silver Parker – and since then it became a much-loved, well-cared for badge of love that I had, admittedly, loved to show off.

Preeti Ranautra worked for a financial company dealing with credits, foreign exchange, accounts and sales and the lot. By virtue of her being a management graduate in Finance, her job necessarily entailed her to keep browsing loads of forex and securities files daily; deal with money coming in and going out; files of individual account holders and small and medium enterprises/businesses (SMEs) and the whole nine yards.

1998: A Personal History

My name is Arpan… Arpan Monalic and my courtship with Preeti literally began on the telephone. The romantic year of 1998 bears testimony to that fact. Preeti used to call our office to speak with Papita InTears, who was one of her mutual friends, on the direct line. On several occasions, when Papita was not in office yet, I got to informing her:

“Papita hasn’t come in yet and she’d be fashionably late again to office! But as soon as she pops in I promise that I shall entreat her to call you first thing… and by the way my name is Arpan”.

She’d at first laugh at the breathlessness with which I blurt out on the phone and say “and my name is Preeti”. And before hanging up, she’d say “thanks”.

Papita joined Satyam at TSR Towers along with me and Manpreet Jogi. I, Manpreet and Papita shared an enlarged cabin with three computers inside it – two at the front and one at the back. Most often, whenever someone called on the phone, Manpreet’s hands always rose first to get it. His quick reflexes were seen to be believed! If his ‘Hello’ is quickly boomed into the phone it only meant the conversation from the other side of the line better be clear and to the point! Everybody knew Manpreet’s hard-boiled booming yowl very well compared to my yell or Papita’s foxy howl. On occasions when he passed on the phone to me smiling his trademark cheesy smile it only implied that Preeti Ranuatra, my chui-mui (shy princess) girl, was on line for me. Manpreet, a blue-blooded sophisticate that he is, would never eavesdrop on our coochie-cooing, nope! And this way began one of the loveliest chapters being written on the storybook of my life.

Ms. InTears was also believed to be friends with the great Pommy Candel Fishsketcher (a.k.a. Pom), who worked with Preeti at her financial securities company situated on SD Road. Both Pom and Preeti were thick-as-thieves, always together, conjoined colleagues; only Papita (with her self-centered American dreams) was like a detached feather of the same flock, who, I presume, couldn’t possibly dare to handle a ‘Finance’ job and so scampered off to join a desi IT company instead. To me this very fact was no less than a God’s blessing (actually Papita’s accidental irony!) as it bequeathed in me my close companionship with Preeti. But, thankfully, that blessing stops there.

Strangely, my office colleague Papita, a tall and ghostly predator, flinched outright at the idea of Preeti and me getting romantically involved, and now this was completely unlike her chubbier and far more cheerful friend Pom who was absolutely cool about it. To me, Pom came across as a frank, candid and an amazingly fun-loving human being; I admired her. Her self-esteem was pretty impressive to get appreciative about. She had an exuberant beehive of a soul in her that basically throbbed with fun and lively humour; she’s delightfully pompous, solipsistic, socially gregarious, well-cushioned in appearance, forcefully animated, follows what her conscience says, and a little too chirpy in nature. At other times, Pom seemed like a plus-size Mother Superiorwho took it all on herself to throw in pieces of good-humoured “advice” at our way – never mind whether really required or not! Her voice had a tonal groan that carries into your ears an echoing, squirming intensity that can easily make you feel as if someone is orating away in all glory at Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds. Such was this original Delhi belle’s prodigious reputation. Undoubtedly, such select cognoscenti go on to become true friends, opposite to what Papita had been to anyone ever.

When Papita happened to know the previous day that Preeti and I are meeting up, she turned a beetroot red in her face and reprised her at once over the phone with her ill-bred caution. She chided Preeti: “Kya karr rahi hai tu… !”, only to be met with a bemused laughter. I never knew Papita being so wary of my friendship with Preeti until her clandestine phone call that ominous evening when I came in to relieve her from her shift ending at 3pm. She had made it all so rudely obvious for me to figure. It seemed that Papita had acute attitudinal malfunction that was most akin to the sly characteristics of a well-known, modern-dayLalita Pawar.

Ever since that day, I couldn’t help but think of her as a wretched human being. I distanced myself from her – just in case it pricks me to a needless confrontation with her, which I wanted to avoid by all means (because she wasn’t worth to be dealing with in the first place). Her droopy left eye-lid, which flutters ominously at you, surely is indicative of a mindset typically Machiavellian in nature. If one ruminates further on her aforementioned personality one would evidently find that she is an undisputed drama-queen of chugalkhori (sycophancy). Not having anything to do with questions of morality even when sometimes finding herself in judgmental positions is crushingly depressing of her. One finds her a crafty old slithering eel, and bitterly distasteful is her cunning appetite for indulging in unabashed sycophancy.

Why was she hell-bent on misunderstanding me on some headless account or the other? Why was it so inordinately necessary for her to be so fiercely vampish about my affair? Is it in her nature to live her life the way she lived – in accordance to her kind of social class and background she happens to represent? Is it her disheveled upbringing that kicked in? I never have got around to answering these ugly questions in my limited feel of things. At first, it was not quite apparent why she was being vainly jealous of me – she gradually was beginning to come across as a little cantankerous individual – but what I figured is that it triggered a vapid botheration in me with regard to her crude conduct. Afterwards, when I was still none the wiser as to what her “issues” were with me, I dropped it like a hot coal and drew comfort from the age-old premonition that: Time will take its own course. Foxy Papitas of the world do not bring luxury of friendly encouragement nor do they appreciate the thought of love and its reassuring finality inProvidence. They simply have villainous appetites for sycophancy – may be a genetic defect carried on from millions of years of evolution – that makes one cringe in revulsion. To think of such people as mind-numbing pain and a big turn-off definitely rings true. I got wizened a bit and conclusively realized that it’s none of my business to put it all out with this tall and snaky colleague of mine, when, on that ominous evening, she was, in her own touchy-feely way, striving hard to forbid Preeti to have anything to do with me. But that day, it could have been a day of frank pejorative outburst in full discourse for her to see had she wanted to get candid with me then and there.

In fact, only after almost a month and a half of our dilly-dallying did we meet in person. We often postponed our first meeting because we didn’t want to break the charming spell we were enjoying while talking on phone or do away with the fine sense of ignominy which was worth its while. Preeti once told me she found my voice sweet or am I trying to impress her? I had said “both” and cackled indulgently. I understand that, Pom, her fast friend, supposed to have constantly mused on behalf of Preeti as she remarked: “voice toh sweet hai, dekhne mein kaisa hoga?” I did not meet Pom until I had met Preeti. When Preeti used to call me, Pom liked to barge into our phone conversation and share a word or two. I got to know her first this way.

Those days were the happy days of my life. It made me realize that Preeti was probably the one true reason why my life was being led to a world full of delightful anticipation and happiness. Our phone calls were so frequent and engaging that we felt like keeping our ‘on-phone’ relationship agreeably prolonged. Before making up our minds to see each other in person, we gave our relationship a little more time to mature. I guess we decided to make the best for last.

I remember oh so well watching Falguni Pathak’s chartbuster love songs on MTV: “yaad piya ki ane lagi” and “maine payal hai chankayi… “ and thinking about Preeti all day and night. Humming Pankaj Sarawgi’s beautifully picturized song: “Mujhe pyaar hai tumse… “ brings back those memories again. I’ll never forget this song.

“Mujhe pyaar hai tumse..

Ke jab bhi koi..

Aahat hue toh lage…

Ke tum aaye…

Sawala salona haye chehra yeh tera…

Aankhiyon mein basa hai yeh palko ki tarah… “

My days were literally filled with the tender fragrance of my jaanu (beloved) and her sweet voice on the phone. Life was so much worth living. Consequently, our telephonic tête-à-têtes started to gain on a hue of assurance and expectation and we decided upon a date in September to meet. I grew restless and jumpy and so did she. I went home early on the day when our rendezvous was setup. In fact, after I have had my share of toiling in office, I was almost a spent-force to be game for a date with whom I had regarded as ‘someone special’. I was obviously impressed with her because my apprehensions got the better of me and I felt freshly energized to meet her. The joy of meeting a person whom you’ve never met before is something to be experienced to be believed. I had all kinds of ticklish butterflies in my stomach fluttering about. Time just flies by in such an event of delectable expectations. Small fears and trepidation in the form of what will happen if… ? what will she… ? will she… ? is it OK to… ? are enough to make you go tizzy. And likewise, one finds oneself spending copious amounts of time on one’s toiletries and dressing than otherwise would have done in other ‘normal’ circumstances. That was our first ‘blind date’ and I wanted to make it count for both of us.

This is how I made it count: I finished my harrowing scheduled shift at 3 o’clock and headed straight home to give myself someshringaar. I knew the day will come when I would meet her. I had bought an assortment of personal care products. First on my list was Denim perfume (my favourite, but they don’t make that perfume anymore) and I reckoned that it’s perfectly okay to indulge a little now that I’m going on a date – an important event of my life no less. I ensured that my new shirt (maroon checks) was ironed well and had just the right creases for the sophistication I had intended to exude! (I still have that old shirt and I wear it sometimes to office; sentimental value you see.) I had a slow dream-like shave and dappled my cheeks with Denim after-shave lotion and felt fresh and manly. When I was tip-top ready, I rode all the way to the venue humming “aye kaash ke hum hosh mein ab aane na paye… “ a delightful song from the Hindi movie Kabhie Han, Kabhie Na.

I drove at a speed of 50-55kph (nothing great about the speed, I know!), reached early, parked my bike, combed my hair and took my position! I sat on a sit-out parapet railing and looked down the road I thought she would come riding astride her bike. For over three quarters an hour I waited like a Majnu, but when Her Highness was still not turning up I decided to call her from a nearby telephone booth. She got my call after the first ring and when I said “Hello” she knew from my voice I was on the line.

“Hello… ? Arpan… ? Give me just 10 minutes na please and I’ll be there”, said she.

I said laughing: “Sure. Come soon Mademoiselle. Um waiting… see ya byee”

At last, come she did and the song I was humming “kab se kare hain tera intezar, kab ayegi meri jaane bahaar… ” froze, as if set automatically on a pause button. One nice glance at her… whoa! and I knew she was the one, my ‘special someone’ with whom I had shared almost every little detail of my life on our endless telephonic conversations is right there. By all accounts a blind date it was, with someone I already knew telephonically but never had up till now seen her face. So now I know who I was talking to all during the enchanting season of August and September months of our eager courtship. Preeti wore a pastel-hued virgin pink (her favourite colour) Salwaar and I instantly noticed that she had an exquisite stance about her which was really so attention-grabbing. She was riding a Kinetic Honda. The spike holding the right-hand side mirror was wrapped with a red perforated holy scarf (laced with shiny golden borders); apparently, it was tugged there as a remainder for her to drive safe. A nice thing to do really. She was splendid and incredibly pretty lady, just like her name. I was stunned into thinking that she looked no less than apariyon ki rani (Angel Princess!); certainly not of this mortal world. Quite evidently, Preeti has a strong closeness in appearance to an actress by name Preeti Jhangiani (her namesake), and it never goes unnoticed even at the first glimpse.

Now, people should have laughed watching me doing what I could, yeah, to the best of my knowledge, trying to put up some sort of a brave front to meet her.

I descended down the short marble-tiled steps (for a moment I thought I would trip and fall on the pavement and break my teeth! but I didn’t) and stood confidently in the parking lot in front of the Aditya coffee shop. A ready glee frolicked on my face and an almost absent will-power to meet ‘a girl’ had muddled my mind into self-consciousness. I don’t know how but I just about managed to be up and about. I didn’t know how I could muster up that kind of insouciant confidence to go on a blind date. But I did it, you know. Basically, I was happy about the fact that Preeti turned out to be what I had imagined her to be. She looked up tossing her coy tresses tending them back in place; she clutched her bag and dashed a meaningful glance at me smiling warmly and then our evening rendezvous was well set to roll.

After we got a corner table, I ordered a couple of coffees with house-special cupcakes. Our conversation took off on a free note which really surprised us at first. I mean, normally, meeting someone whom you haven’t seen or met before – except of course one might have talked endlessly with the same person over the phone day in and day out – how is one supposed to react or interact without getting self-conscious or nervous? I didn’t know, neither did she I believe. In contrast, what I did sense in Preeti’s cool appearance is her easy-going, well-honed confident persona; her subtle countenances were at once very pleasing to behold. Not only was I bowled clean but also it made me feel uncomfortably conscious of my humble self.

Thankfully though, it came as a big relief to me when she coolly began talking without much ado or gumption as she sat across me with a smile on her lips that I bet was like that of Angels I read in the books or saw in the movies. What had actually assailed me up to the brim of my soul is the fragrance of her floral beauty. She was a woman of substance. I marvelled at her art of conversation which struck me as deeply fascinating. Her conversational subjects knew no bounds. She indulged in it copiously. One naturally expects a finance graduate to somehow come round talking about “finance” not bothering to see whether the person in front of you likes it or dislikes it, but luckily she was far removed from such a mercy-killing.

Her compelling allure of beauty combined with her intricate artwork of a smile frolicking all over her lipstick-lined thin lips and her face lighting up the whole corner of the room – all this had kept me possessively enchanted throughout the course of that thoroughly dreamy evening I spent with her at the coffee shop.

Ever since our first blind date going all-good, we always met over coffee at Aditya Coffee Shop, an exclusive underground coffee shop meant for lovers or soon-to-be-lovers, and had exchanged quite a few pleasantries. Time and again she found me marveling at her eyes! Preeti’s elegant black eyes were naturally a good conversation-starter for me. I gaped in wonder at those luminous black eyes and have written copious poetry in my mind and sang romantic songs in my heart – all for her. (I dabbled in poetry in those days and my muse was right in front of me.) Let God be in heaven, she was a great looker.

The reason, apparently, why she thought of gifting me a Parker is that she sensed what better gift but a pen for a scorching pen-pusher cum first-time lover like me!

[Personal disclaimer: I, Arpan, am not one of all-seasons jholawalla brigade. Never could be one, alas! It’s a different story that these days the jholawallas turn up in smart prêt-à-porter lines and are more technologically savvier than usual pen-wielding fella like me. No, I don’t mean to say this in an unkind way, for… er… journalists/writers are far more intellectually advanced to anyone who thinks can wield his/her pen (or even hammer away on the keyboard) and write as effortlessly as the way the journalists do. Journalists are conscience keepers of the world; a superior species of life-changing opinion-makers and pre-eminent writers. I, who can only aspire to be a lowly poetaster at best, lay my pen down to that because it is so goddamn true.]

In fact, prior to our first meeting, we had been exchanging emails profusely and chatting away on the phone as if mesmerized to the point of no return! No amount of office work could make me refrain from writing her emails and likewise, no amount of office work could stop her from reading my emails. I loved writing to her every single day, before I had logged off my computer and called it a day. She would call me back the next day and talk about the things I wrote to her and her plans to meet me at the coffee place we frequented. Preeti once quipped about my writing that it is so “detailed”. I very well remember writing about the movie I liked very much; it was Dr. DoLittle. Writing about the story of the film gave me such joy that for the simple love of sharing it with Preeti I ended up writing a huge email of several bytes in length which ultimately reached her erratic office email box in two or three installments! There was another movie by name Patch Adams (one of my favourite movies) that had greatly moved me. A couple of days later when I wrote about Patch Adams she replied back saying that she saw the movie solely on account of my florid descriptions of the movie in my email! Carrying me on the wings of her appeasing compliment, I had soared high to the heavens and back!

Sweet girl; she liked to agree with everything I said or opinionated on in my emails, and I adored her – almost obsessively and self-centeredly – for everything she was and what she used to talk about while sipping coffee. Our ‘feelings’ for each other were deepening, slowly and naturally. I confess I never knew how to hold an approving girl’s hand or look in the eyes and say the three magic words. But all that changed instantly, as if by some magic! Cuddling her hands in mine for a long while – sometimes almost to the point of breaking sweat – till the closing-hours of the coffee shop, was my way of obsessing about my perfect meetings with her. Coming home every day with an ‘expression’ dancing upon my face and keeping awake till the small hours of the morning thereafter was my daily routine. I had no way of knowing if anybody used to notice (except Papita) when I danced to Preeti’s love – I was pretty curious to know. The ‘expression’ on my face said: “Oui ma… I am in love… so totally in love… yeah yeaah yeaaah!”

I, Arpan Monalic, do hereby affirm that I have totally fallen in love, so deeply, with a manchali Himachali, Preeti Ranautra.

Pompous Pom

Ms. Pommy Candel Fishsketcher joined Preeti and me at Adiyta Coffee Shop once and talked about wanting to see the film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Apparently, they had been planning to make it to Manju theatre, and one fine day they went and saw the mushy film. It was the festival month of October when the film was released and Navratri and Dussehra were not far behind. Finally, I went to see it with one of my university buddies Praveen at Manju. I liked the film so very much that it led me to think Rani as Preeti! At one point during the interval, swinging his share of plastic bag of chips and a bottle of Thums Up, he urged me not to criticize Hindi flicks like this one, especially with Rani Mukherjee in it, and I should take it easy.

Oh well, I wasn’t overly critical of the film; I simply opinionated that I liked Rani Mukherjee’s serene beauty (Praveen didn’t know that I was actually thinking of my doe-eyed girlfriend Preeti) in the song “tum pass aye yun muskuraye… “. The song “ladki badi anjani hai… ” picturized on pugly Kajol and Shah Rukh was another chartbuster song that had us hooked. Lo and behold, he warns me at once from doing so. Yeah… yeah… you got it right, his heart went aflutter on his sweet Rani and so I have no business in her whatsoever! Even as harmless as appreciating Rani was objectionable to him! Kya zamana ah gaya, bhai! (What has the world come to, oh brother?)

In fact, on account of Pom’s standard break-ins during my lovey-dovey phone calls to Preeti, she got to know that my favourite curry is Fish curry and the more jhaal jhaal (spicy spicy!) it is the better. So she sketched a big torpedo-shaped fish (with prominently drawn fish scales, pectoral fins, pelvic fins and all – probably macher raja (King of Fish), a Rohu variety! on a wonderful paper cutting shaped like a big fleshy scrumptious fish and gave it to me. (Ah! Hah! I didn’t have to cast a line or hook a worm to catch it! I told my Ma to cook it but she laughed!)

The free-hand sketch was so endearingly good to look at, as though of a lovely presentation from a friend to another friend. Preeti appreciated Pom and her delicate paper Fish sketch, profusely. I was so damn pleased with Pom’s gift sitting on my lap that it made me agape in deep certitude. That evening Preeti kept smiling her million-dollar smile even as Pom got to her evening best in the coffee shop with such jovial aplomb that as if all the Lilies and Roses and Lotuses of the natural world were dilly-dallying on her lively round face.

End of Part 1

Get Ready For the Workout of Your Life – Everything You Need to Know For the Ultimate Workout Part 2

Dynamic Vibro-Stretch

Stretching Dynamics

There are two general types of stretching: static (no motion) and dynamic (with motion). Static stretching basically consists of stretching a muscle as far as possible and then holding that position.

Passive stretching involves the use of some external force (body part, partner assistance or apparatus) to bring the joint through its range of motion (ROM). Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching is often a combination of passive stretching and isometric or static contractions.

Ballistic stretching uses momentum rather than muscular control to increase ROM, whereas dynamic stretching involves controlled movements — no bouncing or jerking.

Dynamic stretching as part of a warm-up can be useful to decrease muscle damage and improve performance. Research has shown that an active warm-up or 100 concentric contractions performed just before an eccentric exercise bout can decrease muscle damage.

Also, warm-ups involving calisthenics increase performance. A warm-up consisting of a ten-exercise bodyweight circuit (where each exercise is performed for only 20 seconds) produced a higher vertical jump compared to a warm-up with static or PNF stretching. And as you know, the vertical jump is practical and a good index of leg power.

Church states: “In designing warm-up routines for activities involving movements that require the generation of large amounts of power, such as sprinting and jumping, one should minimize the amount of stretching performed before the activity. Instead, one should rely on a warm-up consisting of easy movements that gradually move the joints to the appropriate ROM for that activity. Exercises designed to enhance flexibility, such as vigorous static or PNF stretching, should not be performed before practice or competition but rather following it so that flexibility can be enhanced without compromising performance.”

When it comes to stretching during warm-ups, you want to respect the following rules:

  1. Dynamic stretching is useful to simulate the velocity of your training (unless, of course, you plan to only perform isometrics, then by all means perform static stretching) and will help rev up the nervous system in preparation for activity. Just remember to use the pendulum method by gradually increasing speed and range with each repetition.
  2. PNF stretching is particularly useful to correct a muscle imbalance. For instance, if you plan to start with good mornings and your torso tends to pull to the left as you descend and/or your right hamstrings feel tight compared to your left, perform some PNF stretching on the right hamstrings to even things out.
  3. Only use static stretching if you have some really tight muscles that, in essence, need to be turned off. The law of facilitation is often recited when referring to these tonic muscles as they tend to rob the neural message during movement.

For instance, if you experience rounded shoulders and you plan to work your back, it may be a good idea to stretch out your chest to liberate greater ROM when rowing or pulling. Since static stretching will disrupt the optimum contraction length and temporarily weaken the fibers, it would be wise to use this form of stretching on antagonistic muscles (such as the chest) prior to working the agonists (which is the back in this case).

In general, static stretching prior to weight training is not recommended. There are certain applications for its use, but static stretching will ultimately sedate your nervous system and make you weaker: two things you don’t want before pushing some serious weight. Dynamic stretching will do the opposite: rev up the nervous system and increase strength!

Furthermore, as outlined in the Sports Performance Bulletin (Jan. 2005), additional benefits of a dynamic warm-up include saving time and freeing up more specific training hours as well as being better prepared mentally:

Training five times a week for 250 days a year, warming up and stretching traditionally for 30 minutes at a time, takes up 125 hours. That is virtually five days of continuous training time that could be put to more specific use. You’ll also be better prepared mentally. A slow warm-up with a sustained period of stretching can switch your mind away from the dynamics of the task ahead. This may be particularly detrimental before a race or competition, when you’ll want to maintain your focus and stay sharp. More subtly, your neuromuscular system may not be optimally prepared if you pursue a slower style of warm-up with lots of stretching. The more focused (dynamic) approach will heighten the ability of your muscles to contract.

Perform the following routine before every workout. It takes 10-15 seconds of contractions to raise the body temperature by 1 degree Celsius and a proper warm-up should raise body temperature by 1-2 degrees Celsius or 1.4-2.8 degrees Fahrenheit to cause sweating; therefore, 5-10 reps per movement is all you need.

When performing dynamic stretches, start slow and shallow and gradually increase speed and rage with each repetition.

Dynamic Stretching Routine

1. Prisoner Squat

2. Prisoner Split Squat

3. Toe Touches

4. Waiter’s Bow

5. Side Bends

6. Trunk Twists

7. Arms Vertical

8. Arms Vertical Alternating

9. PNF Pattern

10. Arms Horizontal

11. Arm Circles

12. Shoulder Shrugs

13. Head Tilt

14. Head Rotation

15. Wrist Flexion/Extension

16. Wrist Circles

Vibrational Training

Another excellent method to rev up the nervous system involves vibrational training. I had a chance to try the Nemes unit a few years ago. A simple 30 second circuit on this machine and I was wired afterward. Some of the benefits of vibration therapy include:

  • Increased muscle strength, particularly explosive fast-twitch muscle performance
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Reduced joint and ligament stress and reduced potential for joint and ligament injury
  • Enhanced blood circulation
  • Positive stimulation of the neurological system
  • Increased capability for burning body fat
  • Secretion of endorphin hormones, such as serotonin, as well as growth hormone and Testosterone, and neurotransmitter response
  • Pain suppression

If you’re still not convinced, check out this excerpt from Jordan et al.:

The effects of vibration on the human body have been documented for many years. Recently, the use of vibration for improving the training regimes of athletes has been investigated. Vibration has been used during strength-training movements such as elbow flexion, and vibration has also been applied to the entire body by having subjects stand on vibration platforms.

Exposure to whole-body vibration has also resulted in a significant improvement in power output in the postvibratory period and has been demonstrated to induce significant changes in the resting hormonal profiles of men.

In addition to the potential training effects of vibration, the improvement in power output that is observed in the postvibratory period may also lead to better warm-up protocols for athletes competing in sporting events that require high amounts of power output. These observations provide the possibility of new and improved methods of augmenting the training and performance of athletes through the use vibration training.

Hmm, I wonder if that would be useful for a warm-up?

Now, I know there are some reports in the literature that indicate no ergogenic effect from vibrational training pre-exercise. For every study that shows a positive, you’ll find one that shows a negative, but not in this case. The balance is tipping far toward the benefit side pre-exercise. This trend applies to static stretching as well. Take for example the most recent edition of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Vol. 22, No. 1, 2008), there were three research papers dealing with various effects of static stretching and all three were unanimous with their results.

Holt and Lambourne, 2008 – Static stretching negates the benefits from a general warm-up when performed immediately before a vertical jump test.

Winchester et al., 2008 – Performing a static stretch protocol following a dynamic warm-up will inhibit sprint performance.

Bazett-Jones et al., 2008 – Six weeks of a static hamstring stretching protocol (i.e. 4 reps x 45 secs. x 4 days/week) did not improve knee range of motion or sprint and vertical jump performances. Chronic static stretching use is questionable and has neither a positive or negative impact on athletic performance. It should be restricted to post workout/practice.

Bottom line: if you have access to a vibrational training machine, try it out. There’s sufficient evidence to indicate that it will work, but you’ll never know unless you try it for yourself. The biggest issue with these machines, though, is cost. In the past, I just could not justify thousands of dollars for such a small application. I’m happy to say that prices have come down considerably. For instance, Soloflex now offers a whole body vibration platform for only $395. This is the machine that I own, and I’ve never had any problems with it.

Ultimate Workout Tip #5

Perform a dynamic stretching routine before every workout. To increase the effectiveness, try conducting the circuit on a vibrational platform. Remember to use the pendulum method and 10 reps or less per movement is all you need.

Set Your Body

Neck Bridge

Activating the long cervical extensors can help reposition C5 and C6, two vertebrae in your neck which enervate the biceps. This will increase curling and pulling strength. In fact, it may increase biceps strength by as much as 10% according to Poliquin, so try this technique just before back and biceps exercises.

Sit on a Swiss ball. Walk forward until only the back of your head is supported on the ball. Keep the hips up and make sure to accentuate the rib cage. Now try to hold that position for up to a minute. You may not reach that duration the first time; just work up to it gradually over sessions.

To make the exercise easier, lean the back of the head against a wall. Use a rolled up towel or pillow for comfort. To make the exercise more difficult, try it on the Swiss ball but hold a plate or dumbbell on the chest to increase resistance.

Holding a plate on the chest will make the exercise more difficult. Do this only after you’ve accomplished a full 60 second hold with your bodyweight only.

It is very important that you perform the neck bridge before upper body training only – never before lower body training. Shortening the upper neck muscles can actually impair lower body flexibility; whereas, releasing tension in the suboccipital region of the head can lengthen hamstrings and increase hip range of motion.

Researchers used PNF (or active resistance) stretching to examine the effect of upper neck muscles on hip joint range of motion. Stretching the hamstrings caused 9% increase in hip extension range of motion as measured with the passive ‘straight leg raise’ (SLR) maneuver. Yet stretching the small suboccipital muscles (which connect the occiput with the upper two vertebrae) resulted in almost twice as much (13%) increase of hamstring length as measured with the same SLR test.

The explanation for this extraordinary finding has probably more to do with the neurological importance of the suboccipital muscles. These small muscles have the highest density of muscles spindles in the whole body (and apparently on the whole planet!) and have a major sensory function for antigravity organization. Via the so called ‘Tonic Neck Reflex’ (which we share with most other mammals) an extension of these muscles tends to trigger a tonus decrease of the hip joint extensors.

My suggested conclusion for body workers and movement therapists: if a client shortens the upper neck, his hamstrings will stay short no matter how much he wants to stretch or lengthen them. Whereas if he lowers the tonus of these upper neck muscles (either passively via myofascial manipulation or via active ideokinetic movement facilitation) lengthening the hamstrings and increasing hip flexion range of motion will be much easier.

This fits also with a verbal report I heard from Hubert Godard about an interesting research in Italy: runners on a treadmill would unconsciously increase their running speed when a bioelectrical device on their neck lowered the tonus of the upper neck muscles. Whereas increasing the tonus of these muscles made them slow down their speed, although they were not aware of this and perceived their speed as constant. So a stiff occiput-neck connection will tend to ‘put a break’ into the legs via shortening of the hamstrings, and a long and loose occiput-neck connection will take ‘the break out’ by lengthening the midrange of hamstring length and will make the legs swing much faster and easier. – Robert Schleip

Set The Scapula

Performing behind-the-neck pulldowns with a tube or band is a great way to counter the ever-so-popular scapular elevation that many people experience. It’s excellent for scapular depression and is great prior to upper body training to help set the scapula and save your shoulders from unnecessary wear and tear while increasing strength.

It’s pretty easy to perform. While holding on to a tube or band with your arms extended overhead, simply perform a pulldown motion behind the neck. Try to pull the elastic apart as you pull it down. Hold the bottom contraction for 5-10 seconds and perform 10-12 reps. Start at 5 second holds for 10 reps and work your way up to 10 second holds for 12 reps over successive workouts.

Set The Hips

Setting the hips prior to lower body work can definitely improve performance. Ever notice someone’s knees dipping inward during a squat? You should have; it’s quite common! According to strength and conditioning coach, Mike Robertson, exercises that strengthen and develop the gluteals are required to correct this condition. For instance, light squats with a mini-band placed around the thighs, just above the knees, is a great option as it teaches you to recruit the gluteals while squatting. Start off with just your bodyweight and focus on hinging the knees outward throughout the movement. One set of 15-20 reps before training is all you need.

Mini-band walks are another option. Simply double wrap a mini band around your ankles and start walking. Make sure your toes are turned out slightly and the core is braced throughout. Here, 15-20 strides should do the trick just make sure to stay tight and tall, and concentrate on the glutes throughout the movement.

Finally, glute bridges work quite nicely as well. Like the behind the neck pulldowns, 10-12 reps of 5-10 second holds will do.

Ultimate Workout Tip #6

To improve posture and ultimately performance, set the body with neck bridges and behind the neck tube pulldowns prior to upper body training, and use either band squats, band walks, or glute bridges before lower body training.

Play With The Nervous System

Overshoot The Load

An effective warm-up method involves utilizing postactivation (aka post- tetanic facilitation/potentiation). By gradually ramping up your low rep warm-up sets beyond your working weight, it will increase strength for your work sets. There are different ways to really tap into those high-threshold fibers such as performing eccentrics or heavy supports with loads that are greater than your working weight. Another way to play with your nervous system is to add chains to the bar, which will naturally slow down the concentric speed (although the intent must always be fast). Then remove the chains for your work sets and you’ll go through the roof!

Oversize Grips

Want to trick your body even further and lift even more weight? Do your warm-up sets with oversize grips then perform your work sets with regular handles and watch your strength soar! The TylerGrip is a great tool for this purpose.


Plyometrics can be very useful during a warm-up, but be careful. They place a tremendous amount of stress on the nervous system, and if you do too much prior to training, it will kill performance. On the other hand, if you do just the right amount, it can potentiate your strength! In general, though, plyometrics are best reserved for athletes. Various jumps, push-ups and medicine ball throws can be used, but make sure to perform no more than 5 repetitions per set.

Ultimate Workout Tip #7

Depending on your level, there are several neural tricks to improve strength and performance. Beginners can start with oversize grips for their warm-ups and then use regular handles for their work sets. Advanced trainees can take it a step further by employing plyometrics and overshooting the working load with eccentrics, heavy supports, and chains during their warm-ups.

What you do beforehand can make or break your workout. For the ultimate workout, you must start at the right time with the proper nutrients in place and some assistance from a proven, effective pre-workout supplement. Start the training session with the right amount of soft tissue work and an appropriate form of stretching. Then, set the body, activate the nervous system and go to it. Follow these steps exactly as outlined in this article, and you will experience a great workout and all the benefits that follow.


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New Millennium Exodus – Leaving Cities for Rural Life and a Humble Home in God’s Country (Part 2)


5:15 AM. For me, this is late. The guard never arrived this morning to open the Pleassanton, CA, community pool. I waited until 6:15 AM and returned home. Now, I am off schedule and being swept into several directions at once while I pick up various tasks in random order to make the adjustment to a new timetable.

We bought the land about 17 months ago. Teri initially became interested in it while we looked for a mountain home with some acreage around it for me to have a large garden. We kept passing it while in the car with the real estate agent (their office is in the plaza at the bottom of the picture). You can not see the land very well from the road because of trees and an embankment that blocks the view somewhat. What Teri liked about it was the shape and length. She wanted to see if she could put an airstrip on it. Private pilots carry the sky experience around with them while they are on the ground and frequently see terra firma as merely a launch pad to the exhilaration of flying. I base this on observations I have made. I am not a pilot although I do fly with my wife.

In our search for a home, we found nothing that fit the dream we shared. In some cases the plot of land seemed excellent. In other cases the view was wonderful. A few homes seemed close enough to what we wanted that we could remodel one into a home that would be right for us. We were not looking for a large home. The square footage on our home now is a little more than 1,400 sq. ft. Primary in our criteria was that the home not be crowded by homes near by. I crave having open, natural space around me. I lived in New Mexico above 7,000 ft. from 1986 to 1996 and loved being there. That is the kind of experience I am looking for here with my wife.

So, we temporarily lost interest in the home hunting. We flew to Sina Lunga, Italy to attend the wedding of Teri’s brother in April of 2000. Remember the beginning of the dot.com bubble bust? Much of what we intended to go toward the new home was lost in the stock tumble. But, “it’s not about the money.” So we returned to the search with a different priority, investment value.

We checked and found that the property had not been sold yet. We made a bid and went to actually walk on the land after we had put down the earnest money. Up to that point we had only driven past the land. We dropped off the check with the realtors and went through the gate to discover what we were purchasing.

It was incredible, so peaceful. We have since learned that it is one of the healthiest alpine meadow ecosystems of its kind in the area. It sits at 3,000 ft. A 250 year old oak tree by the creek had fallen several months before we started our search and the trunk stands as a testimony to the powerful presence it must have commanded over the little valley. Red tail hawks circled above us calling and looking for gophers to eat. Golden strands of meadow grass swayed in the soft breeze. Sunlight covered each inch of the valley with a twinkling glow that almost sang to your eyes about the beauty of the natural world.

It captured my heart. On the springy soil I walked as though it was actually the clouds of an apparition. If there was a camera recording our walk around the land, I doubt it would have an appropriate aperture setting to encompass the width of the grin across my face.

We were so blessed. The land was magical and we were going to own it soon. We would have our open space and be close to our friends, Linda and Mick, living in nearby Pine Mountain Lake.

3-22-02 Thank the Lord. Thank you Jesus for every breadth I take and every wonder crowding this abundant land you made for us. As Micah said, (6:8)” He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

I only have time for a short start on the reference this week to Jefferson and Winthrop. The essential point of my alignment with these great leaders in this case, although I would expand to quite a few other agreements with Thomas Jefferson in particular, is their belief that people and the community would be best served if we kept our life groups small. That, to me, recognizes the inherent problems with maintaining the quality of an individual life when the size of the community becomes gigantic. It relates to a General Systems Theory which accepts the pattern of entropy and chaos. Let’s take these two thoughts and look at them.

First, Jefferson believed that the United States would be ideally constituted by small farmers. This can be expanded up the levels of government to include local counties through the state governments controlling the primary activities of keeping everyone’s rights safeguarded during their daily interactions. The principal role of the federal government would have been to maintain order between the states at the interstate level and in the defense of the nation against foreign powers. Governor Winthrop, of the Plymouth colony, stated simply that no church ought to be larger than a congregation. In both cases the ecology of the family, the community and the land they inhabit are very close to the problems and joys that their individual lives must deal with.

Today we face a system of such incredible complexity and size that individuals are dwarfed by their role and relationship to the nation. The energy necessary to support this overarching and overreaching system takes up a majority of our days. This can be supported by a simple look at the number of days wages in a year that go to taxes. This is not what our founding fathers envisioned. It is not the vision that the original Pilgrims held for a new Jerusalem when they crossed the Atlantic. It is a perversion in support of a Satanic affinity for a great system, a great machine or the “combine” that Kesey and Chief Bromden saw quite clearly.

I’m off to the pool.

3-23-02 Saturday.

5:45 AM. Mornings are typically are overflowing cavalcade of thoughts for me. “Need a dump truck, mama, to unload my brain” (Bob Dylan). Evenings are more of a slow glide into sleep without the snap, crackle and pop of awakening to a return to consciousness that makes the morning such a glorious event.

The purpose of this book is to chronicle the holistic experience of the planning and actual undertaking of the exodus. The tactical elements of the exodus involve the building of our home in the valley that can be seen in the professional photo gallery. We have not built a home on our own before. When we initially decided to make this happen we had additional funds that have disappeared courtesy of the dot.com bubble bursting. We will accomplish the exodus despite this new financial hurdle. God has a plan for us. And, in our prayers, as we listen for His guidance, we see this move as part of the plan.

If everything works out as planned, other readers will be able to follow the journey we have taken here and have a guide book on how they may follow a similar exodus out of the confines of our hedonistic society. That is the root cause of this mission. To flee the oppressive, ubiquitous invasion of our inner beings by what has become a global corporate mentality lacking any true commitment to what God has shown us is sacred. To flee the constant and increasingly torrential erosion of morality; Morality as God told us we ought to behave in this world He gave us. To flee the incarceration in a prison of new economic classicism that has become an epidemic in America and that we have spawned around the world. To flee what has been transmogrified into a decadent descent into this modern version of Caligula’s rumpus room. To follow Moses example and leave the material grasp of Pharaoh, our modern corporate combine. To heed Jesus’ warning to get to the mountains when we see the world overwhelmed with harbingers of an evil, Satanic rule.

This morning I am driving to the land to meet a prospective architect. We need to stake out the driveway leading to our planned location for the house. In order to have the well drilled for our water, the drilling company needs to have a road that will support their rig. It weights 25,000 lbs. and would sink into the soft soil around the house plot.

We also need to review the material sent to me by PG & E for the dropping of a power line to the lot. It has to be reviewed for accuracy in terms of location and specifications of electrical power. At this point, it is necessary to have it place so that the pump for the well will have power. Eventually, we also hope to install an inverter to sell back to PG & E the wattage generated by the active solar panels we would like to use.

From the beginning the plan for the house has been centered on having our lives and our home have a minimal dependence on power and financial commitment to the phalanx of power grids, transportation grids and food production networks. We are working to have this be practical rather than extreme but the goal is optimizing independence in supporting ourselves on our land. In pursuit of that goal, the house design will emphatically reflect both active and passive solar.

Today’s trip will take me 3 hours of driving to the property. It was raining so frantically last night that it woke us up and I fear there may even be flooding somewhere along the route.

We also have made revisions to the sketches the architect proposed. It is south facing with maximum glazing ( windows ) to capture passive solar energy. The view provided by that orientation is awesome. The valley rolls down from the small knoll our house will sit on to the creek, pond and rolling meadows of the west bank.


If it’s not about the money, what is it about? God’s eternal love.

Too much of the priceless value of our temporary existence on this planet is spent on the acquisition, consumption or anticipation of material sources of supposed satisfaction. The focus of our attention is fixed upon the ever multiplying choices for gaining pleasure from “things.” We are drowning under the incessant waves of technological progress that are engorging us with images to tickle our desires. We spend the treasured currency of our true lives, that is the temporary piece of eternity that is allotted us while we are beings in this world, on the devilish pursuit of cars, awards, perceived sexual gratification and untold numbers of pleasure destinations conceived in the minds of the collective corporate marketing genius. The jewel of real value is lost. Being thankful and cognizant of the blessing God has granted us by allowing each person the moments our souls can savor in awareness of being guests in this wonderland, is forsaken.

If it’s not about the money, it is about finding a way to live that allows us to honor God’s eternal gifts to us. This exodus seeks a path to living in God’s as He has commanded us. It is about walking in and being continually aware of our presence in His eternal love no matter what our current material circumstances seem to say about the state of our current circumstances. To accomplish this walk requires that our vision be centered on what is illuminated by an eternal light not what flashes at centers of sensory reception from the TV, billboards and the raucous parade of temptations we are bombarded with today. Eternal love is very simple, from the second epistle of John, verses 2-6,

For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever.

[3] Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

[4] I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

[5] And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

[6] And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

Leaving at 7:15 yesterday morning I was able to get to the valley by 10. For significant stretches of the drive I was pelted by extremely heavy rain. Before I left the peninsula I passed into the most glorious rainbow I have ever seen. The color bands were broad and vivid. I found no pot of gold when I reached the end of the rainbow. I was carrying the pot of bliss within me.

I stopped first at the realtor’s office. I really enjoy talking with them about what is going on up in the hills there. While I was there getting a couple of copies, the architect hopeful arrived. We talked about the vacation voyages on cruise ships, as well as the trip Teri and I had taken to Chile. As typically happens the architect talked about flying planes.

My wife, Teri, is a pilot. Although Teri was not with me on this trip we still ended up taking about flying. I listened, again, as the architect retold the story of a Groveland pilot who made his last, farewell flight in command of 747 from Hawaii and lost 8 passengers and 1 flight attendant when the planes hull cracked open over the Pacific. I remembered when that story broke. He had to get the plane back on two engines. I confirmed that our direct neighbor, Paul Bunt, who lives on the left hand side of the valley, used to fly C-130’s. I often get the feeling I am surrounded by pilots who are ready at a moments notice to drop everything and fly up into the sky in their Cessna’s, Cherokee’s and Lear Jets even as their feet are planted on the ground next to me.

I managed to break the conversation away from the piloting related stories and we drove the mile up the road to do a site visit to determine the location of the driveway. One of the difficulties of building a home so far away is that it takes 6 hours by car round trip to be there. By plane the trip last only an hour or so each way. To stake out a driveway location you need to be there. So, we were fortunate that the rain let up to a soft drizzle while we agreed on where the driveway should come onto the ridge off of the county road. Then we confirmed how it should lead to the point where the well will be drilled. Following this twenty minute effort we went back down the road a mile to the local restaurant, Rosemary’s Café, for lunch and our discussion about revisions Teri and had come up after reviewing Sean’s drawings.

The architect had a BLT with cream of potato soup and I had the pastrami on rye special with Swiss cheese and coleslaw. Immediately after lunch, I disembarked on the three hour return drive to the East Bay area and our rental home in Livermore.

On the drive back home, I saw an SUV that moments earlier rolled off the pavement, down a steep 100 ft. slope and came to rest upside down in a meadow 50 yards from the side of the highway. A police officer was kneeling beside the overturned car peering into the window as an ambulance came roaring up the road to join him. So many of us are going too fast these days and far too many of us are ending up upside down, crippled inside and out.

There is no better time to take the first step in your escape plan than today. It can be depressing and surprising how long it actually takes to actualize your departure even after you have already made the decision that you must get away from the concrete jungle.