Monthly Archives: January 2012

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Q1 goals monthly check-up: How am I doing?

In the spirit of accountability and historical record, it’s time for a one month check in on my goals for the quarter.  (Already!)

Here’s the state of things.

Feats of Strength (33% completewe hope)
As you know, I’ve started a pullup training regimen, but I am still in phase 1 of 4.  I’ll explain the whole process in gory detail in an upcoming post, but for now here’s a snapshot of my progress:

Working up to a chin-up.

And for review:

I wore the same outfit again as a control variable - how about some props for scientific integrity!

You can’t see this, but my muscles are working furiously behind the scenes recruiting a hodgepodge volunteer army and fortifying their reserves.  Any day now they will all charge up together in a jaw-dropping, bar-clearing blaze of glory.

Get Inspired (0% complete)
Will probably knock this out entirely during the the third month

Win Friends and Influence People (50% complete)
I haven’t hosted a party yet, but I did get 50 unique blog visitors!  (Current count: 62)

I attribute this success to coming out of the blogging closet back in december, and to furiously posting (15 times) and blog commenting (twice) during Bloguary.

Tech Ninja Level Up (10% complete)
Hmm.  Needs improvement.  I’ve been half-heartedly wrestling my mac and xcode and various iPhone app tutorials, and I’m just now breaking through and getting my computer to do things.  With this frustrating stage behind me, I anticipate ass-kickery to ensue post-haste.

In any case, I have at least started, and here’s the proof.

Sexy and irrefutable. (As far as proof goes)

The wind is changing as Bloguary comes to a close.  We are about to enter: Appuary.  Expect lots of unintelligible half-baked screenshots (lots and lots)!

Amass Weapons for Musical Arsenal (0% complete)
Appuary will also herald the beginning of my guitar tutelage.  Yes.  It will be so.

Feats of Fun (40% complete)
2 out of 5 done – not bad.  We want to spread the fun out anyway, right?

Overall: B-
Nothing is irreconcilably off-track, though I had hoped to report more progress on iphone app development and music arsenal by now.

Next Up:
February is going to be the month that v1 of the iphone-app-to-end-all-iphone-apps gets coded up, and I start taking guitar lessons.  Thank all that is merciful and gravitational that the earth revolves around the sun every 365.24xyzbla days, necessitating the occasional leap year.  Let’s make it count!

Old School

I was headed towards a blog post this evening, but I got a little distracted along the way…

Hyperbole and a Half: This is Why I’ll Never Be and Adult

I made taco salad and cleaned the kitchen counter.  Now you expect me to blog?  What am I, some sort of wizard?!

Meme of the Day

You’ve seen the original, but have you seen this Indian girl one yet?  This one resonates more with me (I wonder why) and gives me a new level of appreciation for the humor of the Sh*t Xs Say meme.  Totally PG.

“Can you put those pictures on private?”
“Like all of my cousins are at my house right now”
“Ugh, You get married.”

Youtube Classic

And just because it’s been too long since you’ve seen it…

This really picks up for me in the last half (2:58 onwards), where the evolution coincides with my own timeline.  Lawnmower, ftw!

*************

Listomania

My name is Maryann, and I’m a compulsive list maker.  When I’m excited, I make a list, when I’m bored, I make a list, and when I’m blue/happy/angry/confused/hungry/agitated, I make a list.  You better hide your notebooks, because Tornado Listmaryannia is on the loose!  Pretty much at all times.

Here’s a list I made today:

Does anyone else feel like watching
Say Anything right now? 

When I made this, I was trying to figure out all the ways a person could spend their time, and if any of these ways were/are inherently “better”.  I was indeed having an existential crisis on behalf of humanity, but no longer!  It’s just such a relief knowing I have the power to capture the complexities of the human condition so concisely and in about 5 minutes.  Right?  Right.

What, would you say, ya do here?

MORE Lists

(1) Things to notice about the above list:

  1. Most of the “THINGS TO DO WITH LIFE” are broad terms encompassing a veritable menagerie of activities.  For instance, “Raise Things” includes (but isn’t limited to) farm animals, crops, children, and barns.
  2. That grid with the T’s and W’s is a pictorial representation of a maze data structure and is completely unrelated to my list.  Matt was using this board to do some design work, and he left too much whitespace open and vulnerable for hijacking.  This is your final warning: hide your notebooks, hide your loose-leaf, hide your whiteboards, and hide your pens – I am coming for them.
  3. Those out of context items on the right are indeed another list.  Blogger, Accountant, Comic, and Nursing Home Worker are occupations that I wanted to verify were somehow represented in “THINGS TO DO WITH LIFE”.
  4. I seem to be missing a provision for leisurely fun. Or maybe I was thinking this falls under “NOTHING.”  On a scale of 1 to Full Metal Jacket, how hardcore am I?

(2) Criteria to use when evaluating a list

  1. Accuracy
  2. Relevance
  3. Completeness
  4. Conciseness
  5. Organization

(3) Things I like to do with lists

  1. Make
  2. Evaluate
  3. Check twice
  4. Complete, as in TODO lists (rare)

Till next time – Toodaloo!

50 visitors, ding!

Remember way back when I was setting goals for the new year?

Remember how I wanted to reach 50 unique blog visitors by March 31 of this year?

Well…

Wait for it…

KABLAM!

I’m shocked to have hit this number so early, because I hadn’t yet got around to “advanced” traffic building maneuvers like commenting on other people’s blogs, or creating worthy content and submitting it to BlogHer or Technorati.  And it’s still January fer-cryin-out-loud!

My joy is tempered by the suspicion, nay, the knowledge that I myself am responsible for 10 of these “unique” visits, and that 20+ of them are from blog spam deceptocons.  (I have a folder full of blog comment spam to back this up.)

How could I be 10 different people you ask?  Where do my schizo-superpowers come from?  Here is a list of browsers that I regularly use:

iPAD Safari, MacBook Safari, MacBook Opera, Dell Firefox, Dell IE, Android Browser, Netbook IE

Wait.  That’s only 7.  Wahoo!

Celebrate!

Regardless of what the numbers say, I still feel like there aren’t all these real people (other than the 3 I know about) out there reading the spazzy things I write.  This is good because I write more boldly (and do everything more boldly) under the protection of an invisibility cloak.  But it’s bad because I sometimes wonder if this is a waste of time (usually late at night when I’m choosing between blogging and anything-other-than-blogging).

Then again, I felt this way about my wedding blog too (that nobody was reading it), but when I saw people in person I got all these compliments on it.  Unfortunately I never installed analytics on that site, so we will never really know what happened. #lessonlearned

New Goals
But this post is about celebration not self-doubt, and I’m not quitting yet!  I’m considering a few options for expanded blog goals for this first quarter.  (1) 150 unique visitors, (2) 10 regular readers (quantified how?), (3) 10 unique commenters.  More eyes or better eyes?  Or a little of both?

Or, maybe I’ll just declare victory now!  Where’s my trophy?

This one’s for the fans.

YOU!  Yeah You!  Thanks for reading!

Water Cooler: Monday Edition

This is the story of my EPIC Sunday.  Told differently, it might sound like I slept in, ate some food, read a book, and watched some TV.  But taking a closer look, we might just find out that it’s a tale of love and loss, triumph and defeat, celebration and learning…

Act 1: The Kitchen

9:45 am – Wake up, then sit in bed reading Pillars of the Earth #epicreadingsession

11:00 – Get out of bed

11:30 – Decide to make waffles for the first time ever using the George Foreman waffle maker attachment.  Without consulting any experts, I decide that waffles are just pancakes but made in a waffle maker.  This turns out to be true, sort of.

First interesting discovery of the day: making pancake batter from Krusteaux pancake mix is extremely easy!  Like, easier than toast.  Matt makes pancakes all the time, even on weekdays, and I always thought he was quite the thankless superhero for going through the trouble.  But I now understand why he is so happy to make them, it literally is “just add water”.  Illusion: shattered.

As easy as it is to make the mix, I forget to Pam spray the waffle iron so I ended up with a huge sticky morass of waffle goo on every surface with no edible middle.  I manage to salvage about 2 forkfuls of waffle mush, which we split amongst ourselves.  I spend the next hour picking and scraping waffle guts out of the crevices.  It takes me so long that I probably could have saved time by using the dishwasher instead.

12:45 PMWaffles: Round 2.  Pam sprayed the heck out of the GF and got two big square waffles.  Food at last!

Now that I look it up, you are supposed to add some oil to pancake mix to transform it into waffle mix.  Specifically to avoid waffle/waffle-iron quagmire.  Oops!

There were failures and major delays, but I bested breakfast and came out on top.  The day is mine! #epicvictory

Act 2: The Living Room

1:00 - We watch the World Series of Poker on ESPN3.  The final two sitting are a 22 year old German student and a 35 year old Czech chessmaster.  They are staring each other down and having the least chatty poker-off I’ve ever seen.  It occurs to me poker is a chat-free, every man for himself, serious, age-agnostic, (mostly) skill-based game.  I think I might just love playing poker.  World Series of Poker 2020, here I come!  #epicadventuresofthefuture

(ASIDE: Apparently, online poker is felonious in Washington state.  Jail time, really?)

2:20 - Afraid that my Sunday is going stupidly, I start to freak out.  It’s pointed out to me that I’ve already done 2 epic things that I could talk about at the water cooler (1: bested my waffle maker, 2: decided to become poker champion).  I am appeased.

2:30 - Pullup practice.  Right now I’m working up to doing 4 negative chin-ups (where you start over the bar and try to go down slowly, palms facing you).  Someday when I’ve mastered that I’ll move on to negative pull-ups. #cuemontage

Act 3: The Streets

3:30 - Head to cafe with Matt to have lunch and read books.  Instead, we end up discussing our epic life plans (yes that was the actual terminology used) over a hummus and falafel plate while monitoring the 49ers/Giants game on the tiny tv over the bar.  It is extra delicious, but we have insufficient pita.

We learn some very important things on our phones:  1) Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. both played for the Mariners in the 90-91 season.   2) Eli and Peyton Manning’s dad was also an NFL quarterback.  3) There are no (male) sports where the average height is under 6’1.  Not even cricket (actually cricket turns out to be a very tall sport).  We decide this makes total sense, because who would invent a sport where bigger (and stronger and faster) isn’t better?

7:00 - Cafe closes, and the game is tied up at 17-17 with 3 minutes left in the fourth.  We walk into another nearby cafe which is standing room only to watch the remainder of the game.

By the way, I never had any interest in football until last weekend when I unexpectedly watched the end of an exciting home team victory at a sports bar.  So, despite not really knowing anything about the sport, I get to watch yesterday’s game go into overtime and learn the new post-season overtime rules.

It occurs to me that football is a primal, brutal, do-or-die sport, which is akin to a Braveheart battle scene re-imagined for the 21st century.  Despite loving sometime liking watching it, I think I might just hate playing football.

The 49ers lose 17-20, but I learn a lot and dream up many plays with names such as The Battering Ram and The Tumbler.  Oh, I’m sure nobody has thought of these before and I’m about to revolutionize the sport… #getreadyworld 

Act 4: Back Home

8:00 - Saute up an onion veggie side dish to go with some leftover pineapple black bean enchiladas.  The whole thing turns out to be the most delicious, most square-looking meal I’ve made in the past year.  #ironchef

9:15 - We decide to go out for dessert.  By which I mean, get a slice of chocolate cake at Safeway.  I also get a bottle of diet orange soda.  Rare but delicious, like elvish bread.

Act 5: Finally

I finish off my day by fixing my Mac (I’m a PC, so I’m not good with it and end up breaking it sometimes), and reading a hundred more pages of Pillars of the Earth.  That book tells an epic story of love and loss, triumph and defeat, celebration and learning.  It is also 1000 pages and reading it is a feat in and of itself.  #epic-fest.

And that’s the tale of my Sunday.

What did you do this weekend?

Fishing… for comments

As far as I know, I only have 2 regular readers – one of whom has no choice in the matter because I hover over him and ask what he thinks of my new post every few hours until he reads it.  And agrees that it’s awesome.  And then tells me specifics about how it is awesome until I’m satisfied that he’s not just appeasing me and playing Mr. Mirror-on-the-Wall to my Lord Farquaad.

But in case there are more of you who chance by this little corner of the internet, I’m offering a small incentive for you to pipe up and let the 3 of us know.

That’s right, it’s time for…

My First Blog Giveaway EVER!

Ok, not SO much a giveaway in the traditional or physical sense.  Bloggers will often do a raffle or offer a discount code to bribe encourage reader participation, but I tried to think of a prize that everyone could enjoy together (cumbaya).  Here’s the tantalizing nugget I devised…

If 10 different people comment on this post by the end of this month:

I will drop and give you 10 5.  Pushups that is.

You read me right – I’m trading pushups for comments.  My suffering could be your entertainment!  You’ve seen and (maybe) enjoyed my pullup video, so you know this will be good slightly amusing.

I realize 10 unique commenters is a lofty goal for someone with only 2 confirmed readers, but on the other hand, I don’t love pushups.  So I (and my pride) kind of win either way – perfect!  Kirk would be proud.

Actual live footage

Leave a comment?

I lurk on many sites myself and (almost) never leave comments, so I totally understand the barriers – like wanting to remain in the quiet shadows (this is the anonymous internet after all), or not having anything you want to say.

If you’re like me, I want to make this as easy as possible for you!  Want to stay anonymous?  Use an alias!  Here are 10 to pick from if you aren’t feeling creative: Blue, Ivy, Shortcake, SneakerPimp, Bennifer, Buttercup, Turkleton, Leeroy, Starbuck, Batgirl

(Yes, those ARE blatant references to the teensy Bey-Z baby – I’m not all that creative myself.)

And here are some ready-made comments you can use:

  • “+1″
  • “Drop and give me 5!”
  • “Batgirl was here”
  • “Um, how about offering a real prize?”

So that’s it!  Use an alias, leave a comment, tell your friends, and check back after January 31 for your visual feast.

What do I do, again?

  1. Hit “Comments” button if necessary to show comments
  2. Provide your alias and email address (the email won’t show up on the blog, it’s a spam blocking thing)
  3. Type a comment (i.e. “+1″)
  4. Hit “Post Comment”
  5. Hope 9 other people do the same
  6. Check back after January 31 to see if I’ve been forced to put my Herculean strength on public display!

-A note to the regulars -
J, M: If nobody else ever comments, let’s not mention this experiment ever again…

Pillars of the Earth: A Partial Book Report

Over the holidays, I pilfered this book from my parents’ home:


The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett – from Oprah’s book club!

I’m only a quarter of the way through (it’s 973 pages!), but even the exposition has made for an interesting read.  Though the story is based in 12th century Europe, the characters have the same thoughts and motivations as modern people – which shouldn’t be a surprise, but is.  Especially when they are totally oblivious to how rough their lives are, at least compared to how similarly poor/rich people live today.

It can take weeks if not months for villagers to find out about the death of a king, because that information is dispersed mostly through church gatherings.  Peasants don’t have horses, so they wander by foot from town to town looking for work and food.  They are concerned with surviving the winter, feeding their families, and little else. They get by on apples and ale, and if they’re lucky, hibernating squirrels.

Ken Follett touches on this in the book’s introduction:

The builders had no power tools, they did not understand the mathematics of structural engineering, and they were poor: the richest of princes did not live as well as say, a prisoner in a modern jail.  Yet they put up some of the most beautiful buildings that have ever existed, and they built them so well that they are still here, hundreds of years later, for us to study and marvel at.

Granting that the novel was written in 1989 and not 1189, we have to take the lifestyle depictions and characterization with a grain of salt.  Even so, it feels totally believable that characters who are called “ugly” are actually hard to look at – covered in burns and boils like Freddy Krueger.  Young people with fine clothes and good health are described as “handsome.”

It occurs to me that the vast majority of people living in the world today would be considered pretty hot back then.  After all we have antibiotics, mirrors, the agricultural revolution, and Nike.

From the TV Miniseries.
Waaay unrealistically attractive

Take me back in time, and my beauty would capture a king!  Of course my gold-digging could at best yield a man who had never used Gillette or Old Spice, and a castle sans electricity, running water, or frozen pizza.  That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!

SOPA/PIPA – What is everyone talking about?

I’m usually not “in the know” when it comes to current events, whether it’s regarding international injustices or who-did-what-with-who-this-weekend.  In general, I’m just not as up-to-date as you are on what’s going on.  I’m very left out at the water-cooler.  I skip sporting events and watch the highlights.  I would be a terrible disappointment if I were a faraway visitor to an 18th century Jane Austen household.  And TMZ would never ever hire me.  Needless to say, the smartphone is an amazing field-leveling tool for me.

Instead of keeping up with daily headlines, I research topics one at a time, in depth, all in one sitting.  What can I say, my brain is single-threaded and pretty much always absorbed in its own rich and important stuff.  I assume, right or wrong, that if a piece of news is relevant to me it will reach me somehow (thank you democracy and Web-2.0).  Once I’ve heard a buzzword enough times (Darfur, Prop8, Balloon Boy), I’ll look into it.

Basically, tell me what was trending yesterday so I can catch up.

SOPA/PIPA

This brings us to today’s research topic, which is old news for you but new news for me: the SOPA/PIPA legislations.  Here’s what I found.

The Terms:
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is the House bill, PIPA (Protect IP Act) is the Senate bill.  The impetus of these is to crack down on foreign websites shamelessly (or even shamefully) sharing American copywritten material.  The sites in question are outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

The Players:

  • Major supporters include the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and production studios like NBC Universal.
  • Major opponents include large internet properties such as Wikipedia, Google, and Facebook.  And everyone who uses one of these, it seems like.  A worldwide blackout has been organized for Wednesday, July 18th (now), in which over 7000 sites including Wikipedia will shut down for 24 hours.
  • Earlier this week, the Obama administration also announced its opposition to SOPA/PIPA via the White House blog.

The Stakes:
(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I haven’t read the actual bills.  This is based entirely on shady internet research and hearsay.)

  • While U.S. websites are technically unaffected, the onus of screening and blocking the offending foreign material falls on U.S. companies.  There are provisions to enjoin search providers to de-index offending sites and for ISPs and DNS servers to block them.  Opponents claim that this is not only onerous, but also fundamentally interferes with the basic nature of the internet.
  • If ISPs think a site is “guilty”, they can blacklist it in good faith without a court order.  Some opponents make comparisons to foreign regimes who censor the internet liberally and without process.  Slippery slope argument.
  •  One provision allows for blocking sites (US or foreign) from providing information on how to get around SOPA/PIPA blacklists.  Not only is this burdensome (think about Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger having to scrub user-generated content for this), but it also raises concerns about censorship and freedom of speech.
  • Rupert Murdoch and other players in Hollywood and TV urgently express the need to prevent a repeat of music-industry-circa-2000.  Entertainment makes up 3.5% of the GDP, employs 2.2 million people, and even if it didn’t – intellectual property should still be protected and artists should get paid.

The Editorial:
I hear you Rupert, I really do, but there has to be a better way.  Trying to police the content of the internet like this is unwieldy and unscalable, like herding more and more kittens and parakeets – together.  Frankly, even if this passes, it’s not going to work to end piracy.  There are always workarounds, new websites, new workarounds, new websites.  “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

If you want to learn more about the protest and how you can be involved, check out Google’s SOPA/PIPA page.

SO, how does the Wikipedia blackout work?

Like I said, I am not a lawyer and I haven’t read the bills actual.  But I may just be a software developer after all.  I had always assumed (that is, for the last 3 hours when I knew about it) that the wikipedia blackout would be implemented by an url redirect.  I thought the “code review” would be a couple of guys fidgeting with a config setting in an ops dungeon somewhere (sexist imagery).

Just to be sure, I refreshed my wikipedia window at 9:01 PST and noticed in the address bar that there was no redirect, and that the original page had even rendered for a few seconds. A little bit of source code snooping and firebug magic reveals that there’s a script running that adds an overlay div (mw-sopaoverlay) and adds a display:none style to all the content blocks.  So if you yourself add “display:none” to ms-sopaoverlay and then remove the display:none style from #mw-page-base, #mw-head-base, #content, #mw-head, #mw-panel, #footer – you could have this!


A beacon of light in a sea of darkness. 

Why am I on Mackenzie Rosman’s page?  Today I was also investigating the breaking news of Justin Timberlake’s engagement.  That took me to Jessica Biel, which took me to Seventh Heaven, which got me here.  I could never make it at TMZ.

If I really were a real developer I might have written a little browser addon (GiveMeMyWiki!) that would have disabled script on Wikipedia and taken care of all of this for you…

…or you can do what I do and use Wikipedia mobile for all your bar-bet-settling needs over the next 22 hours:  http://en.m.wikipedia.com

I Heart EXPEDIT

Today I thought about writing a manifesto entitled “Why I Blog”, or enthralling you with the saga of my adult cooking adventures (adventures as an adult), or finally tackling the tutorial “How to make an edible Christmas tree”.  Or maybe even attempting a sincere and worthy tribute to MLK day.

But with bloguary post-frequency already declining in its early middle age, I realized I’m gonna have to dial down on the ambition and write what I know…

************** Cue: Unambitious Topic of the Day *****************

If ever there were a specific piece of furniture that I knew by name, daydreamed about, and really wished I had, it would have to be this one:

The IKEA Expedit 4×4.  Black-brown preferred (by me), but also available in white and birch effect.

I admire this bookshelf/room-divider/all-around-all-star as much as a person can possibly admire a few slabs of particleboard that they put together themself.  Possibly even more than that.  Seriously.  Whenever I see this in a store window I do a double take, everything else fades out, and I think “Oh yes, she will be mine.”  Schwing!

The EXPEDIT’s sleek and simple design looks artsy and classy, and instantly makes a place look organized and well decorated.  Even though it’s holding all your dorm-room-looking stuff!  Insta-loft!  There’s some sort of fractal voodoo going on too, because the latent mathlete in you gets transfixed by the symmetry and all of the smaller squares you can find inside the bigger one.

Beautiful!  (Source)

We already own the 2×4 Expedit, which is kinda cool but not extra-super-pimp, and you can even see some of these principles at work in this lamer version:

Not bad, considering it’s only 2×4 and not black-brown

Let’s take a closer look… 

Definitely not bad, considering the ridiculous stuff
it has to compensate for

As awesome as it is (read: stylish and practical), the 4×4 Expedit is just $179 brand new at IKEA, and also widely available on craigslist if you live in the right town – score!  Having a wall big enough for this with no interfering lightswitches or outlets may just have to be another criteria for my dream house of the future.

Mad-Eye Maryann and the Quest for One Measly Pull Up

After reaching my buff-ness peak last summer just before my wedding, my fitness has plummeted like a rock off of a cliff (awesome simile!).  Getting or staying fit is so much easier when you have specific goals to motivate you, so for the past month I’d been trying to figure out what mine would be.

Some of the contenders:

  • Run a half-marathon in under 2 hours
  • “Run” a full marathon
  • Complete a triathlon (any size)
  • Lose the 8(!) pounds I’ve gained in the last 7 months (the marriage penalty is alive and well in many senses)

Over the past 5 years, I’ve managed to run 5 half marathons, do 2 rounds of p90x, and lose dozens of pounds, so these seemed like perfectly natural and admirable ambitions.  But somehow they felt hollow.  Like I was being distracted by the matrix of gadgets and technology and the allure of meaningless man-made distinctions. Like I was missing something fundamental and primal, a basic skill that would see me fit to survive (Darwin-style) if I ever found myself in the 76th Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games: I survived the reaping

Click photo to get the t-shirt (skreened.com)

Yeah yeah, running and swimming might also help in the arena – my imagery is not so perfect today.  But back to the point…

I realized what I needed to do next.

ONE Pull Up.

Just one.  I vaguely recall doing two! during the fourth grade physical fitness test, and then approximately zero since.  Luckily I’ve encountered a lot of inspiration and direction on the internets, and for the only time in the history of Mad-Eye web-searchitude, much of the advice actually agrees with each other.

How to Do a Pull Up when You Can’t Do One
Trusty e-how informs me that this is Difficulty: Moderately Challenging. Gee, thanks e-how.

How To Do Pull-ups and Chin-ups With Proper Technique
Stronglifts.com tells you NOT to use an assisted pull up machine – instead have resistance bands or a friend help you out until you can do it on your own.  I don’t have a gym membership anyway, so this is great news for me and my doorway pull up bar!

Can’t Do a Pull Up Yet? Here’s How to Get it Done
Nerdfitness.com!  I really really wish this were my blog.  With articles like Should You Use the Force and How to Write Your Own Epic Destiny, this is niche targeting at its best.  My marketing/StarWars geeking out aside, this article gives a step-by-step progression from free-weight back exercises, to losing extra pounds, to doing chair/friend assisted pullups, to doing negative pullups, to finally doing your first pull up.

If you are still reading, congrats!  You have earned this delectable visual treat…

The “Before”

In case you were thinking that I’m in better pull-up shape than you, I enter into evidence this footage to bust that myth right quick.  Apologies in advance for the noises (awkward)

Recorded in HD, for your split-end viewing pleasure

Because the key to an amazing “after” is an equally amazing “before”!