Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor Book Review

I just recently finished reading Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor. The book follows the true story of a platoon that found themselves defending COP Keating in early October 2009. COP Keating came under a massive attack from the Taliban — over 300 men to the US forces of only 50. Outnumbered and outgunned, the base was being overrun.

This is one of those books that is absolutely gripping. Once you start reading, you simply cannot put the book down. At some points, I got so enraged that I just wanted to pick up a rifle and join the battle, as ridiculous as that sounds.

Absolutely worth the read.

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates Book Review

I have recently finished the exciting Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade. When you hear the fight song for the Marines and the line “…and the shores of Tripoli…” — this is what the book is referring to. And quite honestly, that is all I knew of the subject and nothing more. I bought this book thinking “Okay so we sent some marines to Tripoli at some point”. When, how, and why…No clue.

As it turns out, it is incredibly fascinating and has had far reaching effects on foreign policy.

In the early days of the United States, we had begun to establish trade routes across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, piracy from the north of Africa was common place and many American sailors were captured and held for ransom. The famous Adams / Jefferson rivalry actually extended towards the strategy on how to deal with these pirates. Adams favored a more diplomatic approach and Jefferson preferred to destroy them militarily.

How the events unfolded over a decade between America and the savages of north Africa make for a compelling story. The book outlines in great detail the mishaps, successes, strategies, politics, espionage, backstabbing, and military heroics of the conflict. The book reads like a novel — 100% recommend.

Officially in the 1000 lb club and next goal

It took about six months of lifting to get to this point, but it has happened. I now have a gym total of 1000 pounds between the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Numbers are:

370 squat

225 bench

410 deadlift

To recap how I got here — I did Stronglifts 5×5 for about three months before transitioning to Madcow 5×5 for the following three months. My finishing numbers for Madcows were 340 squat @ 5 reps, 205 bench @ 5 reps, and 365 deadlift @ 5 reps. With those numbers I thought it would be possible to hit the 1000 lb total on my 1RM for the three lifts, but it was no gimme either. I was least confident in bench.

I went up and hit a 365 squat today and thought that it was fast enough and I had enough in my tank to go for 370. In hindsight I probably could have done 375 if I went for that first and had not wasted the energy on 365. Live and learn. Bench went strong, but four plates on deadlift went really slow grinder. I screwed up my jumps on the way and did a 375 deadlift for a single instead of a 365. Took some energy out for sure.

Anyway, big milestone hit and my next goal is a 1200 lb total.

I have officially switched to Wendler 5-3-1 and will begin that tomorrow. We shall see how this new program affects my numbers.

Preparing for my 1000+ Gym Total

Current lifting personal records:

Bench 200 lbs @ 5 Reps

Squat 335 lbs @ 5 Reps

Deadlift 350 lbs @ 5 Reps

According to this 1 RM Calculator here: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other7.htm — my gym total is estimated to be 1011 lbs. That’s exciting but is it accurate? I have no clue, so I’m going to continue my workouts for the next two weeks and try to get as strong as possible. First thing back from the new year, I will take a Saturday and test my 1 RM and bench, squat, and deadlift and see if I can hit the 1000 lb club.

Madcow 5×5 Progress Report

The last post on Madcows 5×5 was October 5th. I stated that I was going to begin that program shortly. I did, and am still currently doing so. My gains have been steady. For the first month I went back 80% and worked my way up. For the past 3 weeks, I have been hitting PRs.

5′, 10″ @ 185 lbs

Squat so far has gone from 305 lbs -> 330 lbs for top set of 5.

Bench, 180 lbs to 200 lbs

Deadlift, 325 lbs to 340 lbs.

I will re-evaluate in two months to see where I’m at. At that point I will decide whether to do another cycle on Madcows or switch to Wendler’s 5-3-1. If I stick with Madcows for another cycle, I will certainly switch to Wendler after that.

I do not know my current 1 RM on any of my exercises. I may take a Saturday and do it in a few weeks from now.

Beginning Madcows 5×5 Routine

This past weekend I have completed the Stronglifts 5×5 routine. I started on June 21, 2015 and have gone very consistently every other day. Squatting 4x a week can take its toll though, and I have hit my limit on Stronglifts. Now I am transitioning to Madcow 5×5 routine.

Here are my numbers for Stronglifts 5×5.

Height: 5′ 10″ & Weight: 180 lbs

Squat: 175 lbs -> 305 lbs

Bench Press: 105 lbs -> 180 lbs

Deadlift: 160 lbs -> 325 lbs

Overhead Press: 60 lbs -> 135 lbs

Pull Ups: 80 lbs assisted > 30 lbs assisted

It is a bad idea to be squatting 305 lbs four times a week at 5×5. Switching to Madcows now, an intermediate routine will provide me with better recovery time and I will be less prone to injury. Having said that, this routine is no joke — if all goes to plan, I’ll be doing a top set of 5 reps @ 385 lbs on squat in twelve weeks. In fact, I should be in the 1000 lb club three months from now. We shall see how this works out.

Ask: The Counter Intuitive Online Formula Book Review

I just finished reading Ask: The Counter Intuitive Online Formula. Written by Ryan Levesque. The book is okay. It’s probably better for someone who has no experience with online sales, as all of this would be super new to them. I already have experience with online marketing and sales funnels so this was more of a refresher, but there are a few key takeaways I got from this book that I would like to share.

  1. Survey your existing customers if you can with this question: “What is the single biggest challenge you are facing with your [insert thing here].” — everyone knows to survey their clients, that is obvious, but this one exact question I did not know how essential it is to ask. The book goes into detail as to why it is a good question and I agree. It will help you segment your customer base appropriately.
  2. The types of emails and when to send them once they are in the email marketing campaign. This is certainly helpful.

The rest of the book however, was a lot of the author talking about himself. I get that it helps provide context and what not, but I thought it was a bit overdone here. Also there was a ton of self promotion which came off as a gimmicky. Again, I understand the author is trying to promote is business, but there should be a limit to it otherwise it becomes distracting.

That is all.

 

When Genius Failed Book Review

When Genius Failed

Written by Roger Lowenstein. The book centers around a hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management in the mid 90s. Years prior at Soloman Brothers a group formed to do specific type of bond trades called “arbitrage” — the idea is that you pick two bonds that you think whose prices are spread further apart than they should be. You anticipate that they are going to narrow up. So you purchase one bond and short the other. That’s the over-simplified premise.

Now this group went sort of rogue and after some drama unfolded, they all reunited under the new hedge fund Long Term Capital Management. They boasted professors and academics on staff that designed the most popular models in use. They depended so heavily on these models they got in real deep on tons of trades, many risky. They were so sure of it.

They were playing head games with the banks and under financiers. Shit started to unravel when a few key moves in the markets didn’t go their way. What unfolded was an unprecedented event requiring Fed intervention and all of the incredible drama that resulted.

If you liked Barbarians at the Gate, you’ll love this too. Great read.

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