Blog posts about my life, rants, and other random things.

Should I Try Martial Arts?

I’m 33 years old. I’ve never done any martial arts training or even been in a fight. I mentioned in a blog post recently that I’m exercising more at home. The thing is, it’s not really working for me. I mean, I’ve not been doing it that long but I feel like I need more structure. I think the reason the gym (or home gym) isn’t working is because I’m trying to teach myself, and I’m just not inherently good at the gym. I’ve taught myself lots of things. HTML. Blogging. Twitter. Video editing. But the gym just isn’t in the cards on my own. A personal trainer could definitely help. It would be the least disruptive choice. It’s not the most exciting thing, but it would work.

Or I could do something super crazy and try to learn Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga, kick-boxing, or Karate, or something. It would be a lot. I work full-time and I’m in grad school. But, let’s say I could work it out to where I go twice a week to learn whatever martial art. That’s about as often as I should really be going to the gym, and it might be more fun. One of my professors in my graduate program takes Jiu Jitsu and she seems to really like it.

I said it MIGHT be more fun. I don’t know.

Eric Shay Howard thinking

Louisville has a lot of martial arts places.

Right. So, I’m looking up Jiu Jitsu and Krav Maga classes in Louisville and I’ve found a couple of places. One place looks super professional and nice. I sent them an annoying email inquiring about classes for adults who are complete beginners and don’t even know which end is up on the pullup bar at the gym. They haven’t responded yet. I might call them sometime tomorrow and just ask my weird questions all awkward like over the phone.

I’m fairly certain I’ll need some new wardrobe and maybe some guards for various body parts. I think also some gloves? That might also be jumping the gun. I have no idea. These MMA gloves seem popular on Amazon. Just so you know, I’m a member of the Amazon Associates Program and may earn money from qualifying purchases with the ad for the gloves below.

I looked up belt progression because I think that Jiu Jitsu and Krav Maga have belt systems to track progress, but I wasn’t sure if that was real or just something I saw in a movie or whatever. They do, but I don’t see any mention of this belt system on this one martial arts place’s website. Maybe they don’t do it there or maybe a belt color system is just a given for all martial arts classes.

What am I supposed to look for in a martial arts school?

I confess I have no idea what I should be looking for other than:

  • Does the martial arts place’s leadership have diversity or is it only ran by cis-gendered straight men? If it does only have straight men, then why?
  • How much do classes cost?
  • How big are the class sizes? Do they teach all newbies together, or do they teach all skill levels together but keep track of people’s progress individually?
  • What belts do the trainers have? How does testing for new belts work?
  • Are they associated with a national group or are they a stand-alone school?
  • How much time will this take up? Can I fit it in my schedule?
  • Are the students assholes? Are the trainers assholes? If so, why?

Also, do I refer to it as a gym? A dojo? A school? I tried to look it up but I wasn’t able to find much consistency.

Which martial art do I pick? Karate? Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Krav Maga?

I don’t want to settle on a particular art yet. However, if I had to pick one based off of what I can find available here in Louisville, I’d pick Krav Maga. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu seems cool, too, but seems more competition-based than self-defense based. Again, I am new to all of this so who knows? I’m sure it’s mostly advertising keywords anyway.

My gym hasn’t opened back up yet and so I have some extra money to see about trying out some martial arts for a little while. Maybe I’ll like it? Maybe I won’t? I don’t know. It’s not a dream of mine to be a master at it super soon or anything. I’m just looking for ways to keep things interesting. I also really want to lower my cholesterol.

I will let you know what I find out, which gym (dojo? school?) I end up trying out. If I can’t seem to find a place that I click with, I might just move on and stick with the resistance-band exercises at home until my gym downtown opens back up or the gym my apartment property is building opens.

Do you like Jiu Jitsu or Krav Maga?

Perhaps you prefer something else? Do you prefer the gym? The couch? Comment below and let me know, because I’m curious about all of it. The gym is still super new to new, and so is this martial arts idea. You can contact me via my contact page, follow me on Twitter, or like my page on Facebook.

Also, this has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been watching Cobra Kai on Netflix and it’s pretty awesome.

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Writing A Friend In Prison After 13 Years

One of my best friends in high school is in prison for doing something awful. He was on the run for 2 years and has been in prison for 7 years. I haven’t spoken to him for longer than that – maybe 10 or 12 years? Let’s just say 13 years. I have been wanting to write him a letter but I don’t really know what to say. I’m not even sure if he wants to hear from me at all. We weren’t exactly on the best terms after high school. Here’s the story on why I’m writing a friend in prison.

I had a crush on my best friend in high school.

We met freshman year. I had just moved to a new school. He let me sit with him in math class. He was nice. We talked a little every day. We loved the Resident Evil video games. Eventually we started hanging out after school and at each others’ houses playing video games. We were really good friends for a few years. About a year or so into our friendship, I was crushing on him. Eventually I told him and it was not cool. Being gay in 2001 was sort of like awful. He stopped talking to me.

Here’s the thing: up until the point that he dropped me, he was really nice and cool. He was nice to other people, at least from what I remember. He wasn’t a bully. He liked X-Men and Super Smash Bros. He liked wrestling. He had a dog. He had values. His older brother was really important to him. If I needed him he was there. He fended off other bullies for me from time-to-time.

He bought me this X-Men 2 dvd for my birthday once:

Disclosure: I’m a member of the Amazon Associate Program and earn money from qualifying purchases with the ad below.

After high school we made up and talked a few times, then he did something awful and went to prison.

I want to write my friend in prison a letter.

I want to write him a letter, but I don’t know why. Here’s the other thing: our friendship was very short compared to other friendships I’ve had. I had friends in high school after he dropped me that were my friend much longer. I’m not entirely sure why I still think about the short friendship as if it was the best thing ever I had. I don’t have any romantic feelings for him anymore. To be completely honest I’ve seen his prison photos and I’m not attracted to him at all anymore either. But, I miss having his friendship. Or, maybe I miss feeling like one day we will be good friends again. I used to feel like that before he got charged for the awful thing.

So yeah, anyway, I’ve decided to write him a letter.

What do you say to an ex-best-friend in prison?

I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. I can’t bring up the old crush because what if someone finds the letter and gives him a hard time about it? We haven’t spoken in like 13 years so I don’t even know if he’ll want to read the letter in the first place. I also don’t know anything about him anymore. I doubt he still enjoys playing Resident Evil. From what I can tell, this limits our conversation to something like:

“Hey, what’s up? Remember me? You’re in prison and that sucks. I’m not in prison and I’m in grad school. Okay ttyl.”

Yeah that’s pretty much all I’ve got. Writing a friend in prison you haven’t talked to in 13 years is hard.

I could just talk about what’s been going with me, but why would he care really? I could talk about some of the good unique and interesting times we had, but I really can’t think of anything crazy that happened. There were no super funny stories or anything. There’s just us playing Resident Evil 2 and Super Smash Bros.

I don’t know. I don’t know why I want to write him and I don’t know what I want to say. I don’t know why I’m blogging about this and I don’t know if best friends are even real anymore anyway.

Have you ever written a friend in prison?

Have you? What about an ex-friend who you sort of made up with before they went to prison, but not really and you’re not super sure about it and it’s awkward? I suppose I could ask him that in the letter. So far that’s:

“Hey, what’s up? Remember me? You’re in prison and that sucks. I’m not in prison and I’m in grad school. I remember we weren’t speaking for a long time in high school and then I remember we talked after high school and sort of made up. Did we? Are we friends again or not? Okay ttyl.”

Well, at least I’ve got somewhat of a paragraph. Writing a friend in prison who you’re not sure is a friend anymore is awkward.

Have you ever written a stranger in prison?

Don’t they have things like pen-pal services for prisoners? Aren’t there people who write prisoners because it’s nice and it helps them feel less lonely? Are those real or am I just making them up? Maybe I heard about them in a movie or something. If they are real, maybe I should start with writing strangers first?

I used this app called Slowly a few times to write people from other countries. I was kind of cool because it simulated real mail. It took days for the mail to arrive to their inbox and more days for you to get your response back. But like most things in my life I didn’t keep up with it and I haven’t used it since like May. I guess I should respond to some letters on there.

Anyway, I can’t write him like I don’t know him at all because that would be really weird. I know him, or at least used to, and we have a history.

What he was charged for doing was really awful.

I’ve said this a few times, but it is a factor in how I approach my letter. What he did (at least according to the system) was super bad. Like, really bad. I know that there are secretive groups of people in prisons who watch the mail and watch for people who write certain people. These people have people who check up on these people to try to figure out how they’re associated with them. I’ve heard of them causing trouble for some of these people. I definitely don’t want that. I also don’t want someone giving him a hard time when they find out a gay dude is writing him.

I just want to write him because I used to know him and I miss having a friend like him. Well, the cool him. He really was very nice before.

At some point after he dropped me, he joined the military and got really buff which was nice, but then he got into drugs and stuff. I didn’t know him during those times. I only knew him when he was skinny and played video games and watched X-Men. We shared Nintendo Power and Game Informer magazines. We called each other all the time to help each other get through sections in video games because you couldn’t just look up a let’s-play on YouTube back then.

Anyway, I’m not sure if I should bring up what he did or not in the letter. Probably not.

So I’m writing a friend in prison a letter but I don’t know what I’ll say.

I’m going to write him because if I don’t I’ll always feel like I should have. The letter will probably be short and awful and stupid, but I’m going to do it anyway. It might cause trouble, it might not. I hope it doesn’t. Seriously, have any of you ever written a letter to a friend in prison after a long time? How did you approach it? Why did you write them after so long? Please comment below and let me know because I’m kind of needlessly stressing about it. Am I crazy for writing a friend in prison after 13 years? I mean ex-friend or a maybe friend?

Me having my coffee this morning. When I’m done with my coffee I’ll get started on the letter.

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Update: I wrote the letter. Now I just have to figure out how to address it. I doubt he’ll actually write back, but at least I got this out of my system.

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I’m Re-Watching Stargate SG-1, Making Cheese Balls, and Getting Buff

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I said last time that I’d be blogging about what’s going on with me to try to get myself to write more. This week, my MBA program made me curious what it would take to make a profitable cheese ball catering business, I started re-watching Stargate SG-1, and I started exercising with resistance bands.

I Enjoy Making Cheese Balls For Some Reason

I’m in a marketing class in my MBA program. I’m not saying that I do want to start my own business someday, but I’m not saying I don’t. In theory, if an MBA program is going to prepare me for anything, I’d like to think it’s running my own business well. For class, I had to think about introducing new products in a global market. That was hard, so I starting thinking about launching a new product on a smaller scale, like selling homemade cheese balls outside my back door. I love making cheese balls for some reason, and I figure people might like cheese balls and not want to make them.

My cheese balls aren’t super gourmet or anything, but I like them. In my new theoretical cheese ball catering business, I make the cheese balls to order so I don’t waste inventory. In theory, I would just have to make one good cheese ball and take a good photo of it for marketing purposes. I probably wouldn’t need to make that much profit in the beginning, a buck or two here and there.

I eventually settled on a sandwich shop and two new sandwiches for my global marketing paper. Marketing class is hard, but if I ever want to sell a few cheese balls out of my apartment a few times a month, I now have the know-how. Thank you, grad school.

I might seriously consider trying to be more social. Maybe get an invite or two to some parties so I can show off my cheese ball skills. Well, future cheese ball skills. Let’s be honest, right now they’re kind of, um, okay. Maybe a few people would like them after I get a little better at making them. It’s probably more likely that I’ll just be that annoying guy who always brings a cheese ball to parties, though. That’s also fine with me.

Re-Watching Stargate SG-1

Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention that I’m on vacation from the day job this week. I’m just staying home, keeping things simple, browsing around on Hulu. Stargate SG-1 is streaming on there. I’ve been re-watching it for days.

I say re-watching, but what I really mean is watching for the first time, sort of. It’s kind of a long story. Way back in 2012 (I think), my boyfriend at the time decided that we should get this awesome DVD set of the entire Stargate SG-1 series. It was on Amazon. Here’s the boxed set that is currently sold on Amazon, and a newer version. I’m not sure which is the better deal, to be honest. You may just want to watch it on Hulu or something. Just so you know, I’m in the Amazon Associate Program and the below links are affiliate links. I may earn money from qualifying purchases.

Anyway, I’m not sure if one of these is the exact set or not, but I think it looks like it. Back in 2012 we watched the discs up to about halfway through the second season. The discs started skipping. We exchanged the product for a new one. The new discs also skipped on the second season. We gave up and got our money back. I still wonder what happens in the second half of the second season. I remember getting to the part with these cool gray alien dudes. It was super cool and I was super invested in it. It’s incredibly exciting to finally get to see what happens. I’m still re-watching the first season as a refresher, but it won’t be long until I get to where I was.

I’m Working On My Arms and Chest with Resistance Bands

This week isn’t about being completely lazy, though. I still have classes, have to walk the dog, and am going on a few bike rides. I’m also trying to work out at home more. I was waiting until my downtown gym opened back up, or my apartment place got finished with their remodel of the gym on the property. I don’t think either of those things are happening any time soon. I’ve taken matters into my own hands with my resistance bands I found in my closet.

Eric Shay Howard using resistance bands

I’m not 100% satisfied with my belly, but I’m much less pleased with my arms and chest. I don’t need my arms to be super huge or anything, but I figure I could at least fill them in a little. Maybe. I don’t really know because I don’t understand the gym. Coronavirus shut everything down a few months into my first real gym membership. I hadn’t developed a good routine or anything. My set of resistance bands I’m using now was purchased back when I started college and I don’t think they sell them anymore, but I’ve been thinking about upgrading to a more full set. I’m a member of the Amazon Associates Program. I may earn from qualifying purchases from the ad below.

I have no idea if just resistance bands alone will do much, but I suppose it’s a simple step in the right direction. Small steps. Do a few sets of 10 reps while re-watching Stargate SG-1.

So, that’s what’s been going on with me for a few days. I’m about to watch the Stargate Season 1 finale. Comment below and let me know how your last few days have been! You can follow me on Twitter or like my page on Facebook. You can also contact me using my Contact page.

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