Category Archives: Martial Arts

Year in Review 2018

Each year I create a list of goals for every area of my life. Throughout the year I work on my goals, track my progress, and then commit to posting my top accomplishments. This is my 10th year!

 

Writing

Novels

The Tower (working title- 97,000 words)

  • Completed the first draft of The Tower (working title). The manuscript clocked in at 97,000 words. 
  • Began 2nd draft. 

Year of the Assassin (94,000 word crime thriller)

  • Completed 1st draft of both a 10 page and a 2 page Synopsis
  • An editor for a large independent publisher asked to see the full manuscript based on the query letter. I submitted the full manuscript.
  • Queried with samples to 3 agents. I researched and wrote targeted letters. 
  • Sent query letters to 2 independent presses.

Fantasy Novella, (20,000 words)

  • Researched and wrote targeted letters.
  • Edited 2nd draft. – Put The Tower aside to work on edits.
  • Completed 20k word manuscript and cover letter.
  • Submitted to open call at major publisher.
  • Submitted a revised version 16,000 words to major science fiction and fantasy. magazine. “There’s some good writing here. Hope you’ll consider us in the future.”
  • Submitted revised version to a major contest.

 

  • Short stories

This year I spent  extra time on short fiction.

  • Wrote or reimagined 7 short stories approximately 25,000 words in total.
  • Submitted stories  to 11 markets.

 

Reading – Notable Fiction read in 2018

  • The Big Bopper by Reb MacRath
  • The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons 
  • The War of Art  by Stephen Pressfield
  • The Terror by Dan Simmons 
  • American Assassin by Vince Flynn
  • The Moore House by Tony Trembley 
  • Headhunter by Michael Slade 
  • Legion by William Peter Blatty

 Reviews 

  • Reviewed The Big Bopper
  • Reviewed The Moore House

Martial arts

Unlike last year, I spent less time attending martial arts seminars and more time writing.

  • Attended Drowning in Kali III at the Derderian Academy of Martial Arts.

Home training included:

  • Stick, double stick, stick & knife, Filipino Boxing.
  • Western Boxing, JKD combinations, kick boxing, shadowboxing, heavy bag work. HIIT training.
  • Karate/TKD/TSD Kata/Hyung.
  • Kendo sword cuts.
  • Weight Lifting.
  • Body weight exercises.

Health

  • Ophthalmology – No change = good!
  • Optometry- Slight change but no need to change glasses. 
  • 1st Dental cleaning – gold star.
  • 2nd Dental cleaning and X-rays – gold star.
  • Signed up for temporary insurance and than insurance at Patty’s new job. 
  • Had to get new referrals for specialists.
  • I was able to reduce Pepcid AC usage. 
  • Blood work and fasting glucose. All testing normal. 
  • Annual physical – Gold star. My weight was up 3 lbs since my last physical, but the doctor didn’t seem concerned with it. It’s all muscle, I tell ya! 
  • Got a flu shot.

Family

  • Celebrated Patty’s milestone birthday at Toyo Japanese Steak House.
  • Called parents twice a week to keep in touch.
  • Visited Grand Niece and Nephew in CT for birthday.
  • Went to see a movie with my parents.
  • Went to see a movie with my dad.
  • Wished and/or celebrated family birthdays. 
  • Celebrated my birthday with a Grandma’s of New England coffee cake (my favorite!). Patty ordered and had it shipped to me.
  • Had my first Facetime chat with my Grand Niece and Nephew.
  • Kept in touch with my former college English professor through email.
  • Attended my Brother-in-Law’s mother’s funeral and attended the fellowship at Kamahlot in Templeton. 
  • Called to wish my Aunt a happy birthday.
  • Called my brother.
  • Took my mom, dad, and aunt to Texas Roadhouse for Mother’s Day.
  • Went out with my mom and dad for Pizza for father’s day.
  • Congratulated my 2nd cousin on his 7th dan in Judo (5th dan from Kodakan). 
  • Babysat for my Grand Niece and nephew.
  • Had breakfast with my parents at Foxwoods.
  • My Auntie Anna passed away this year. She will be missed.
  • Assisted Patty with her transition to a new job.
  • Celebrated Christmas at Junior’s Deli at Foxwoods with my parents. Brought my brother and sis-in-law in on the celebration through FaceTime.
  • After Christmas get together and house warming with Patty’s family at sister-in-law’s new house in CT.

Spiritual

  • Continued nightly prayers.
  • Lit candle in remembrance of my sister.
  • Had Good Friday and Easter dinner with Patty.
  • Kept Passover to the best of my ability.
  • Brought Patty to the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.

Cars

  • Patty bought a 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring fully loaded for work. -Top goal!
  • Performed general maintenance on Patty’s car.
  • Performed general maintenance on my car.
  • Upgraded to AAA Plus.

House

  • Had a chimney sweep company clean our chimney.
  • Leak test completed on our AC system.
  • New condenser coil installed.
  • Bees exterminated.
  • Cleaned and organized walk in closet.

Fun & Travel

  • Stayed at Marriot Renaissance in Providence, RI.
  • Met one of Patty’s old co-workers for lunch at Mohegan Sun at The Hash House.
  • Spent a weekend in Freeport Maine.
  • Visited the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro.
  • Attended Steely Dan & Doobie brother’s Concert at Xfinity Center.
  • Went to see James Taylor at Tanglewood with one of Patty’s Co-workers. Watched. Fireworks on July 4th in Albany NY. Stayed at Fairfield Inn & Suites for 3 nights. Got a deal by buying points.
  • Attended the Mohegan Sun Whiskey Union.

Whiskeys sampled:

  • Laphroaig 10
  • Ardbeg An Oa
  • Glendalough 7 – Irish Whiskey
  • Highland Park 12
  • Macallan Sherry Oak 12
  • Nikka Coffee Grain Whiskey
  • Ragtime Rye
  • Singleton 12
  • Suntori Toki
  • Glenfiddich 15
  • Monkey Shoulder

 

  • Sampled Bulleit Burbon – at Foxwoods.

 

  • Traveled with Patty for work to NY and utilized the time for a writing retreat.

AV/Tech

  • Upgraded Drop Box for Scrivener files.
  • Upgraded to High Sierra and Mojave.
  • Canceled PS Vue and switched to Directv Now.
  • Canceled Sprint and returned to Verizon.

Movies Watched at a Cinema

  • 15:17 to Paris – Cinemaworld in Fitchburg with parents.
  • Death Wish (2018) – Cinemaworld in Fitchburg with my dad.
  • Mission Impossible: Fallout  – Providence IMAX
  • The Nun – Providence IMAX with Patty.
  • Peppermint – North Attleboro Showcase 4k projection and recliners.
  • Halloween (2018) – Regal Cinemas Fishkill, NY. 
  • Creed II – Regal Cinemas Fishkill, NY.

That’s it for 2018. See you in 2019… Happy New Year!!!

 

 

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Year in Review 2016

Each year I create a list of goals for every area in my life. Throughout the year I work on those goals, track my progress and my challenges. Then, to keep myself honest, I commit to posting a list of some of my top accomplishments and challenges, and some of my smaller ones as well.

I challenge you to create a list of goals, keep track of them during the year, and then celebrate and post your accomplishments at year end. If you do, please let me know. I’d love to look at your list.

Writing Career

writing1

Novels

  • Major goal accomplished: I completed the final draft edits and formatting of my 90,000+ word crime novel, Year of the Demon.
  • Sent Year of the Demon to the Minotaur Books/MWA First Crime Novel competition.
  • One of my favorite authors read and gave me feedback on the YOTD manuscript.
  • Commissioned a new cover for Wolves of Vengeance from Lynne Hansen Design.

WOV-Cover-Refresh-web

  • Currently at 65,000 words of a projected 90k on my paranormal thriller, The Tower (working title). I set this book aside to complete YOTD and to take advantage of some other writing opportunities.
  • Having seen a publisher’s open call for military horror/creature novels, and having an idea for a novel length story that meets the guidelines,  I decided to bring back Captain Amanda Rann from WOV and begin a draft. The open call doesn’t have an end date, and it’s very likely that they’ll close submissions before the novel is complete. If that happens, I’ll be ready when they open again.  I’m currently 20,000 words into the manuscript. No matter what, this is a story that has to be written. Another opportunity came up, one with a very defined set of perimeters and end date, and I felt I needed to put this novel on hold for a short time while I worked on the new project. See below:
  • Another publisher has an open call for novella length fantasy stories of varying sub-genre, fantasy worlds that are inspired by cultures other than the usual stories based on ancient Western civilization. I finally came up with the perfect idea and began writing. I’m over 10k into the story, and hoping I can finish by the 12th of January when they close. This one requires so much research that the deadline may very well be impossible. Tor may extend the date depending on how many viable manuscripts they receive. Either way, I have my fingers crossed.

writing2

Short Stories

  • Wrote a horror noir short story (5K).
  • Wrote another horror noir story based on an old story, reinventing it with everything I’ve learned over the years (5K).
  • Wrote the first draft of a dark fantasy flash fiction story (1K).
  • Began an edit of a previously written story for an open call anthology but abandoned in favor of a new story.
  • Began an edit of an old story, but decided to abandon it for now. I might return to it if the right market opens up.
  • Performed a virtual reading of Sat Down Inside Her from a room at Mohegan Sun. Sat Down Inside Her
  • Sent out short fiction to 4 markets. I spent most of my time working on long fiction this year.
  • Wrote two short stories. Again, I decided to spend my time on novels this year.

Networking

  • Wrote  reviews of books I enjoyed.
  • Included in a writing round table with some fantastic authors.

Down and Dirty: The Ultimate Writer’s Round Table Joust: Part 1

Down and Dirty: The Ultimate Writer’s Round Table Joust: Part 2

Martial Arts

me

kali-jujutsu

  • Made some fun martial arts videos:

Early Morning Kali Stick Work

Shadowboxing Workout

Ukemi on Hard Ground 

kali-gardner

kali-gardner-2

taky-benefit-1

taky-benefit-2

taky-benefit-3

  • I brought my old Wave Master Training Bag into the corner of the living room and put down a puzzle mat to create a small dojo/dojang/kwoon in the living room! Don’t tell my wife! 😉
  • Attended Master Larry Tatum’s Kenpo Karate Seminar at the Derderian Academy.

tatum-kenpo

  • Worked on Kali stick work, Panantukan – Filipino Boxing, and JKD mitt drills with Patty in our home training group.
  • Practiced Kali Sinawali and single stick drills
  • Worked JKD boxing drills and all my kicks, on training bag.
  • Utilizing JKD and FMA as a conduit, I was able to integrate all previous martial arts training. This has taken me years to accomplish.
  • Focused on Naihanchi (Tekki) Sam Dan & Jindo (Gankaku Kai) forms.

Health

  • Had two ophthalmologist appointments. Glaucoma medication increased.
  • Had two dental cleanings. Began using fluoride rinse.
  • Got an eye infection. Antibiotic eye drops cleared it up.
  • Had annual physical and taken off of low oxalate diet.
  • My weight has fluctuated, but overall it is down.
  • Increased weight training.

Family

  • Called my Mom & Dad 2x each week.
  • Had lunch with my parents and took them to see 13 Hours at the cinema.
  • Had lunch at Olive Garden with the in-laws/outlaws.
  • Celebrated our grandniece’s birthday.
  • Visited my Mom & Dad at Foxwoods.
  • Visited Mom after attending a martial arts seminar in the area.
  • Celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.
  • Breakfast with outlaws at Meadowbrook Orchard.
  • Helped my uncle with a computer issue.
  • Attended an educational PowWow at the Foxwood’s Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center with my parents and danced with my Mom
  • Visited the outlaws new townhouse.
  • Brought my parents to see a movie in Worcester.
  • Contacted my brother and let him know about money the state owed him.
  • Celebrated our 24th anniversary of our 1st date.
  • Had breakfast with my Mom & Dad in Webster.
  • Kept in contact with my aunt.
  • Visited my father-in-law for lunch and fixed his wifi and set up his laptop.
  • Had Thanksgiving breakfast with my Mom & Dad
  • Donated in my sister’s name.
  • Sent my grand niece to see Doctor Strange.
  • Visited my parents for a pre-Christmas/Hanukkah breakfast and then went to the Townsend Rod & Gun Club where my Dad taught me how to load and shoot a black powder rifle.

black-powder

  • Attended my niece’s baby shower.
  • Attended Christmas gathering at the outlaws.
  • Became a Great Uncle for the 3rd time.

baby

  • Went to see Adam Carolla at Foxwoods. Ate at Junior’s Deli.

 

Car

  • Patty’s car –  Inspection, oil change, wheels rotated and balanced, brake job, airbag recall, replaced broken sun visor, replaced ignition coil (under warranty) and wires.
  • My car – B service, wipers, airbag recall, replaced battery, brake job.
  • Had an accident in my car and had car repaired.
  • Had a part fail and had to go back and have them replace the part.

 

House

  • General maintenance and cleaning.
  • Fixed TV by taking it apart and cleaning the fan.
  • Replaced bathroom rugs.
  • Changed the high/low return air registers for Summer & Winter.
  • Maintained air cleaners.
  • Cleaned out house and brought junk to dumpster provided by the association.
  • Replaced a burnt out AC capacitor in our central AC unit.
  • Created a small dojo by installing puzzle mats.
  • Took down old shades and installed curtains in the living room and dining area.
  • Removed and installed new blinds in bedroom.
  • Patty utilized a shredding day to get rid of our confidential documents at work.
  • Cleaned behind the fridge and stopped it from overheating.

Travel

  • Portland Maine – Stayed at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa. Went to Holy Donut, dinner at the Armory Lounge where they played blues music and we relaxed and had drinks. I tried Woodford Reserve Bourbon on the rocks and enjoyed it. Irish pub, Elevation Burger, hotel restaurant. We poked around the shops. Jewish Museum. Alex & Ani.
  • Mohegan Sun – I turned Patty’s three day work seminar into a writing retreat. While Patty was at the seminar I stayed in the deluxe king room and worked on a novel. We ate at Summer Shack, Michael Jordan’s 22 Sports Cafe. I tried a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon and l really enjoyed it.
  • Bronx Zoo – We visited the Congo area, saw the Gorilla exhibit, rode the monorail, and went to jungle world. We also saw sea lions yelling at each other.
  • Boston – Stayed at the Onyx Hotel  on the Penthouse level. Ate at Boston Beer Works. Had a good time.

 

That’s it for 2016. See you in 2017… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun Fan Gung Fu: Seeking the Path of JKD 2 by Sifu Kevin Seaman

ks-jkd-2

Sifu Kevin Seaman has done it again with Jun Fan Gun Fu: Seeking the path of Jeet Kune Do 2. Like the first volume, Sifu Kevin presents a cornucopia of techniques, concepts and drills, which will be useful to practitioners of all martial arts disciplines.

I purchased this book directly from the author and have an inscribed and signed copy. I’ve been fortunate to attend seminars by and with Sifu Kevin, and with some instructors teaching under him. Although I’ve been practicing martial arts nearly 30 years, I’m just beginning to walk down the JKD path. I feel Sifu Kevin’s books are incredible travel guides for anyone’s journey into the art, science, and philosophy espoused by the incomparable Bruce Lee.

Although you can’t learn from a book alone, you can use this text, along with the first volume, to increase your knowledge, and guide your journey. This book can be used as a mnemonic for those who have been initiated. If you’ve had training in JKD, Sifu Kevin’s books can be used as a memory aid (I’m sure his books are much more organized than your notebook) where you can grab a technique, principle or drill, allowing you to work what you already know, getting expert coaching from the text as you do.

For those who go to seminars or have a teacher, you’ll be able to pull out things you’d like to work on and ask about the material, or to ask them to demonstrate. You can’t hunt down information that you don’t know exists.

The book can be used as an introduction to the principles of JKD, lighting a fire within you, pushing you to seek qualified instruction. And finally, for those who study fighting systems, and other styles of martial arts, you’ll be able to pull out drills and concepts that you can work into your respective martial art’s structure, enhancing your training.

This second volume not only builds on the physical foundations of the first, with topics like advanced footwork, defensive structure, and physical development, but also expounds on the principles, psychology, and philosophy of the well-rounded fighter and martial artist.

Sifu Kevin Seaman’s Jun Fan Gun Fu: Seeking the Path of Jeet Kune Do 2 is a worthy sequel to the first volume, a compressive reference guide, and highly recommended for all fighters and martial artists. You’ll find it a welcome addition to your martial arts library, and a working reference that won’t gather dust.

Review of Solo Training 3 50 and Older

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Solo Training 3 50 And Older is chock-full of information, drills, and exercise for the aging martial artist. Don’t let the title fool you; this book is great for any aging martial artist. I’m just hitting my mid-40s and I found the information in this book very helpful. I had the opportunity to borrow this book for free using my Prime Membership, and I’m glad that I did. If you find just one idea that you can put into use in your own training, then the time it took to read the book was worth it. I found plenty, and I was reminded of some drills and concepts that I had forgotten.

Christensen covers a wide range of subjects. He spends a good deal of time on resistance training—a very important aspect of solo training for any aging martial artist. He also covers proper diet, training your core, and speed training, among other topics.

This book is subtitled Karate, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo. That’s an important distinction. Christensen wrote the book with the traditional stand-up martial artist in mind. But even if you practice non-classical or reality based self-defense styles, I think you’ll get something out of it. Kata training is also covered. I’ve always felt that kata was best practiced at home anyway, leaving the time in class for drills and sparing that requires partners.

Chapter 14 gives you a fairly thorough look at “fight enders.” Just make sure you understand use of force laws before you employ them. But as we age, we don’t have time to mess around. If you’ve mostly focused on sports with rules, this is good information to know.

At the end of the book Christensen provides tons of drills that you can implement or modify to your liking. Inevitably a few reviewers will comment that anyone with an intermediate or advanced level of training could come up with the same or similar workouts. While that might be true, I just don’t see why anyone would want to reinvent the wheel. Christensen has done all the work for you in this volume, providing a template that you can modify to your heart’s desire. Since Christensen uses these workouts himself, you know they work. And that will save you time, and the trial and error of putting together your own workouts.

If you’re a student, you know you can’t improve enough by just training during class time. If you’re an instructor, you have to put in the time before or after class for your own improvement. This is a book that will help you to improve while reducing injury. It’s a welcome edition to any martial artist’s library. I know I’ll be adding a physical copy to mine.

Beginner Filipino Double Stick Techniques taught by Guro Raffi Derderian.

Raffi Stick

Here’s my review of the DVD Beginner Filipino Double Stick Techniques taught by Guro Raffi Derderian.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending seminars with Guro Raffi. The training has always been informative and top notch. When I heard that he was coming out with a double stick DVD, I absolutely had to have it.

My wife watched the DVD with me and was so impress she decided she wanted to train with me.

For the last few weeks we’ve been systematically working through the beginning drills. We’ve found them to be clearly taught, each one building on the next, and haven’t had any problems progressing. And there’s plenty of material. You couldn’t ask for more on one DVD.

I also skipped ahead to the Heaven Six section. Watching Guro Raffi really helped me to smooth out my sinawali.

Like all Filipino stick videos, the material is sometimes presented quickly. This shouldn’t present a problem for students who are currently training in Filipino stick styles at a school or who have taken seminars.

Beginner Filipino Double Stick Techniques provides a great introduction to double stick. As an absolute beginner in the Filipino arts, with only a few seminars under by belt, assisting my wife as we go, I’m finding the drills on the DVD fun, challenging, and very doable.

Great stuff! Highly recommended! Purchase Beginner Filipino Double Stick Techniques here.

Guro Raffi Derderian is also available for seminars. Check out his rattan sticks. They’re the best.

March in Review

The momentum continues… I guess this is turning into a newsletter of my life. I hope it’s inspiring you to keep a list of your challenges and accomplishments throughout the year. I promise you that goal setting will change your life.

Writing

Short fiction

  • I signed the contract for inclusion in the 3rd annual New England Horror Writers anthology. You’ll be able to find my horror science fiction story “Sat Down Inside Her” in that collection this summer.
  • Halloween’s Child Redux–the reimagining of this horror thriller short story has been slow going, but I’m already 3,500 words in. That’s 500 words over the original word count. I’m thinking this one could end up at 6k+ by the time it’s complete. A new title will, of course, go with this new version.
  • I also worked on the reimagining of another short story (I never list short story titles until they sell. This way editors won’t have any way of knowing how long my story has been in circulation once it lands in their slush pile. I’m tricky like that). I had already completed the new version of the story, but wasn’t happy with the ending. I found a way to strengthen the conclusion, but I have no idea where this will find a home.
  • I began reading the new issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction with an eye toward submission. We’ll see if I get any ideas.

Novels

  • Year of the Demon (Conspiracy/Crime Thriller): I’m slogging through the edits on this 90,000 word novel. I need to spend more time on this polish edit, and then go onto the next phase of the process.
  • The Tower (Paranormal Haunting/Woman in Jeopardy Crime Thriller): I’m now just under 25,000 words, approximately 97 pages.
  • Proxy Mate (Dystopian SF): I ended up putting this novella on hold this month. We’ll have to see what next month brings. I still feel pretty good about this one.

Reading

  • I finished The Vanishing Magic of Snow by Reb MacRath and deemed it a MacRathian Masterpiece. You can read my review here.
  • I’m still working through the Indie Author Power Pack. I’m 68% in and just finished Let’s get Digital.
  • I read and enjoyed Richard Chizmar’s The Box. The story is available to read through free pdf. Follow the link to give it a read.
  • My copy of Submerged (signed Limited Edition) by Tom Monteleone arrived. It’s a beautiful book. I hope there’s an e-version eventually. The book is so nice I’m afraid to crack it open.

Networking

  • I continued to keep up with my writer friends on social media.
  • I bought passes to Anthocon.
  • I made reservations at the hotel for the convention weekend.
  • I continued to work on editing a novella for a writer friend. I’ve been very slow getting to the edits.

Marketing

I researched using MailChimp for a mailing list. I read that mailing lists are the most underutilized marketing tool in a writer’s tool chest. I learned that to meet federal law I need to list my address in the signature of any emails I send out. This would mean getting a P.O box or mail drop if I want to ensure my privacy. I’m going to wait at this point, but I’ll keep it on the radar.

Family

  • Called my Mom & Dad twice a week on average this month.
  • Called my Aunt and wished her a happy birthday.
  • Donated to ONE Spirit in my sister’s name.
  • We got haircuts.
  • Put a St. Paddy’s Day card as a surprise in Patty’s lunch.
  • Sent a B-Day card to one of my nephews.

Martial Arts

  • Purchased Ron Balicki‘s Filipino boxing DVD set. I was really amazed at how much information he included in this set. I had the opportunity to watch a sample of the JKD video set and was very impressed with the production, the breadth of information, and the clarity of instruction on the DVD set. I decided to begin with Filipino Boxing, but I’m sure I’ll be picking up his 8 disk JKD instructors series in the near future.
  • Luckily, because of my 27+ years of experience in martial arts, along with a pervious teacher who integrated some Filipino martial arts and Jeet Kune Do Concepts into our training (he never mentioned it, but because of my research, I can see it now), and a small amount of Kali and  Bruce Lee’s “Original” JKD training from seminars, I’ve been able to incorporate the drills and concepts into our home training.
  • We worked Filipino boxing (punching and kicking drills) 2x a week. We also began working on a joint locking flow drill. Patty has found this curriculum the most interesting of any martial arts we’ve practiced.
  • I continued to practice Kali sinawali.
  • I continued to practice the chain punching/straight blasts  I learned from Sigung Taky Kuimura and his staff.
  • A Kali Guro invited us to stop up and train on a Tuesday night. It’s been a little difficult lately to make the time commitment, but it was very nice to be invited. Hopefully we’ll be able to stop up soon.

Fitness & Health

  • I lost just about two pounds of fat this month. Notice I said fat. I didn’t say water or muscle. That’s an important distinction. I’ve lost almost an inch off my belly and a half inch off my waist.
  • I’m still working to get out of the Biphasic sleeping pattern. I tend to go to sleep too late and wake up too early, requiring that I nap before doing anything that requires cognitive function. New habits need to be established in order to permanently change my schedule.
  • I grabbed a pair of Reebok Crossfit 2.0 cross training sneakers. I’ve been wearing them during all my workouts and martial arts training. They’ve been great on my feet and very good for my knees.
  • I continue using MyFitnessPal to log my calories. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Cars

The terrible roads and potholes caused a sidewall bubble in one of Patty’s tires. Fortunately and unfortunately she only had the tires for six month. On the fortunately side, the tires were new enough that we only had to buy one new tire.

Finances

We had purchased MONEY Master the Game by Anthony Robbins in ebook and I also had a chance to sample the audio from the first chapter. I belive that’s the only chapter that AR reads. I also found a great summary of the key points that was left in an Amazon review. Here’s the key points that I put in my notes.

  1. Understand the power of compound interest and save/invest 10-20% of your income.
  2. You can’t beat the market.
  3. Fees kill your returns. Look at America’s Best 401(k) or Fees to see how your 401(k) fairs.
  4. Hire an independent fiduciary adviser.
  5. Use a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) and pay taxes now as much as possible, since they are likely to rise in the future.
  6. Forget Target Date or actively managed mutual funds. Use index funds instead.
  7. Know how much you need in order to retire (use the free app to find some rough numbers. Make sure to take inflation into account since the app doesn’t do that)
  8. Come up with a solid asset allocation: a secure bucket (bonds, CDs, cash, etc) and a growth bucket (stocks, real estate, commodities, etc). Re-balance regularly. Take the Rutgers University risk tolerance quiz to find out how much risk you can stomach.

Naturally, I keep my finances close to my vest and don’t share much online. That doesn’t mean I’m not working on this category, though.

House

  • Continued general cleaning and maintenance.
  • Wrote up a project plan for next month’s Spring cleaning.

Whisky Tasting and Mixology

  • Patty and I have never been big drinkers but we’re having fun exploring the world of liquor and wine. We purchased a double walled cocktail shaker and a jigger and I’ve been playing the part of mixologist, whipping up whiskey sours and matadors.
  • I tried a sample bottle of Glenmorangie Lasanta 12. It’s aged in sherry casks. This whisky isn’t very complex, but has a nice mouth burn and is very enjoyable on a cold night.
  • I tasted Glen Garioch 1797 founder’s Reserve. I got sucked in by advertised characteristic. They claim sweet vanilla, butterscotch, fresh green fruits, sweet buttercream, and citrus. It tastes like cough syrup and leather to me. Actually, it tastes like Talisker 10 without the peat. I can only stomach it in very small drams.
  • We visited Julio’s Liquors in Westboro. They have a great selection.

Personal Development

I revisited the Anthony Robbins Time of Your Life/RPM audio program.

Began reading The Winning Mind Set by Jim Brault and Kevin Seaman. Kevin Seaman was gracious enough to sign and inscribe a copy for me. My first impression is that it’s a very nice personal development workbook. Much of its contents are grounded in NLP and cognitive behavioral psychology. Great stuff! I think it will make a great refresher. And since both of the writers are also martial artists, I think I’ll enjoy many of their illustrative examples. I plan to work through each section and see where it takes me.

Movies

Non-Stop *** Better than I expected. Implausible ending.

Magic Moments

We came home to a small (what we believe to be a) screech owl perched on the light by our garage. The owl’s eyes were but slits in the daylight, but he still watched us as we made our way inside. Once we closed the door, he puffed his body out for warmth and went to sleep. As soon as the sun set he took flight to destinations unknown. I take the owl’s visit as a good omen of positive change to come. Here’s a photo of our unlikely visitor.Owl

That’s about it for March. See you in April…hopefully sooner.

February in Review

In an attempt to keep up the momentum with this blog, I’ve decided to give you another update. This one will list out what I worked on during the month of February. It hasn’t been bad for a short month.

Writing

Short Fiction

  • I received and approved the galley proof edits of my SF/Horror story “Sat Down Inside Her” that will appear in the 3rd annual New England Horror Writer’s anthology. Also, provided an updated bio for the book.
  • I began work on a reimagining of an unsold 3k short story formerly known as Halloween’s Child. Having learned a lot about crafting a salable story since I wrote the original version in 2011, I was hit with a bit of inspiration on how I might make it viable. I’ve already tacked on a new opening scene and smoothed out the writing. Much like my novel WOLVES OF VENGEANCE, this story combines horror with the thriller genre. And I’m definitely expanding the thriller component. The horror thriller is kinda becoming my thing.

Novels

  • Year of the Demon (Conspiracy/Crime Thriller): I continued working on the 3rd draft of this 90,000 word novel. As I really dig in and polish the work I realize how much I’ve learned since I began writing this draft. The polishing stage is always the most frustrating and the most rewarding. So much needs to be fixed and rearranged, but it’s always fulfilling when the work is near to its final form.
  • The Tower (Paranormal Haunting/Woman in Jeopardy Crime Thriller):  I’m now approximately 20,250 or 81 pages into the first draft of this novel. So far, it feels like the best thing I’ve ever written. And yes, this novel would be considered a horror or supernatural thriller.
  • Proxy Mate (Dystopian SF): I haven’t made a lot of progress on this novella. My process is to work on multiple stories at a time. If I get stuck on one I just let it sit while I work on something else. I also tend to move back and forth between stories during my writing time. I’ve found I’m more productive this way, but some stories fall by the wayside. I’m sure I’ll get back to it in the month of March. As it stands, I’m 11,250 words or 45 pages into this novella.
  • Wolves of Vengeance (Multi-Genre Supernatural Thriller): Wolves received a very nice review this month. Take a look if you have a chance: http://davoortwilbo.blogspot.com/2015/02/david-north-martinos-wolves-of-vengeance.html

Reading

  • I finished A Different Kind of Slumber by Doug Rinaldi. You can find my review here.
  • I’m still working on the Indie Writer’s Pack. I’m 50% in and reading Let’s get Digital.
  • I started The Vanishing Magic of Snow by Reb MacRath and am 30% of the way in and loving it.

Networking

  • Continued editing a novella for a writer friend.
  • Helped a writer friend with research.
  • Kept up with writer friends on social media.

Family

  • Called my Mom & Dad twice a week on average this month.
  • Called my Aunt and Uncle to thank them for a gift.
  • Burned CDs for my Mom & Aunt.
  • Visited my Mom & Dad for breakfast.
  • Celebrated my birthday (Just like Jack Benny, I’ve had another 39th birthday).
  • Gave Patty roses for Valentine’s Day.
  • Sent my nephew a copy of the Signed Limited Edition Hardcover of The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks for his birthday.

Martial arts 

Another month where I unfortunately didn’t make any seminars.

  • Five rounds of shadow boxing 2-3 times a week with Patty.
  • Practiced Kali sinawali solo and with Patty.
  • Practiced Ukemi skills.

Fitness & Health

  • Lost two pounds of fat this month. Slow and steady–I’ll take it.
  • I’ve been in a biphasic sleeping pattern. Next month I need to change my schedule to allow for more sleep time during the night.
  • Had a Field of Vision Test. The test came out perfectly.  I have no glaucoma damage.
  • Had an appointment with my glaucoma specialist. He changed my eye drops to a lower dosage of medication, and moved me over from a generic to a brand name. He gave me a discount card to reduce the cost of the medication.

Sales

  • We sold our Wii that had been sitting in the entertainment center gathering dust.

House

  • I cleaned out and organized the entertainment center.
  • I unplugged any electronics we haven’t been using to save on the electric bill.
  • General cleaning and maintenance.

Whisky Tasting

I tried Glenfiddich 12 this month. I find it has a smoother taste, less complex, more candied, more like a bourbon, and less mouth burn/heat. I like it best of all the whisky I’ve tried.

Movies Watched

Not a big month for movies. Busy, busy, busy!

  • After Earth: ** mediocre, muddled, miscast.

That’s it for February. March is already coming on full force and swinging for the rafters. More soon…