Wednesday, November 7, 2012

#INSen

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Richard Mourdock (R-IN) was a bad candidate. But Senator-elect Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was also a bad candidate. He was picked by the IN Democrats to be the sacrificial lamb to Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), because he wasn't going to hold his congressional seat (congrats to Congresswoman-elect Jackie Walorski (R-IN02)), and because they couldn't find anyone else to run.

That’s the God’s honest truth.

We are conservative in IN, with down home family values. But because of that, we like to think that we're above the partisan fray in Washington. We like to think that we can elect common sense folk who can work to get things done, regardless of party. That’s why our state house changes from red to blue so often and so does our governor’s mansion. It’s why we elect people like former Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), and former Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN).

The difference between Donnelly and Mourdock was that Donnelly ran a terrific campaign right from the start and Mourdock ran an awful one right from the start. A lot of people will point to Mourdock’s comments about rape in the debate as the reason he lost. But he was in trouble long before then. Donnelly painted Mourdock as an extremist, before a lot of people in IN even knew who Mourdock was. And he continued to hammer that theme home right up until election day. It was a great strategy. It defined Mourdock as the opposite of a common sense person who would just work to get things done. Mourdock was never able to overcome that, and he was never able to turn it around on Donnelly either, who is just as much of an extremist as Mourdock (more so in my mind, but that’s just my opinion). Mourdock instead decided to attach Donnelly to President Obama (D-USA) and ObamaCare. The problem is that there are a lot of people in IN that still like Obama. And even more that still like ObamaCare. By sticking with that attack, Mourdock put a ceiling on his numbers, and never had a chance to break through it.

It’s easy for me to Wednesday morning quarterback, but Mourdock should have spent more time telling us a) what he would do for IN, b) what Donnelly would do for IN, c) that Donnelly was the extremist in the race, and d) that he wasn’t the extremist Donnelly claimed he was. I’m not sure he spent any significant time on ANY of those items. Certainly nothing he said or did to those ends sticks out in my mind. Instead it was just “Donnelly will vote in lockstep with Obama” over and over.

I know this blog has been quiet for a while. It will likely continue to remain so. What motivates me to blog is most anger and frustration, although sometimes it’s happiness. I’ve seen the writing on the wall here for months, and I’ve been resigned to the outcome. That emotion doesn’t inspire me to blog, but instead inspires me to work harder at my job and spend more time with my family. Take care of you and yours and peek in here from time to time. I’m sure I’ll continue to have things to say, just on an infrequent basis.

The Painful Truth

I could’ve written this post a week ago. I waited. But the writing was on the wall, even then.

First:

Believe the polls. It’s fine to analyze the internals of the polls and point out when they don’t make sense. It’s particularly reasonable to do this when it’s six months out from the election, and no one knows what the electorate is going to look like. But when it gets down to three, two, and one week before the election, and you’re still not believing the polls, the problem is likely your premise, not theirs. Just the other day, I saw a rather famous person in the conservative Twittersphere picking apart a Rasmussen poll. Now, Rasmussen is consistently one of the friendliest polls to the GOP, and yet this person was still saying that if X on the poll was wrong and Y was wrong, that it was good for Romney. Sorry, but if you’re doing that a few days out from the election, and with the best poll you’ve got, it smacks of desperation. RCP poll averages are generally just about right. Remember that.

Second:

Nate Silver was right. If he got Virginia right, then he may have gone 50 for 50. I don’t know. I haven’t checked. Silver’s method is basically sound. I think there are things that could be done to improve it. But it’s basically ok. You can duplicate a significant part of his work in less than an hour in Excel. Just use the RCP poll numbers, and the Monte Carlo function in Excel. If you’d done that, you would’ve gotten results very similar to Silver’s. A lot of people on the right owe Silver an engraved apology today.

Third:

It’s fine to want party purity, but you also have to nominate good candidates. Richard Mourdock (R-IN) was a bad candidate (more on this race in another post). So were others. And if you didn’t know that 6 months ago, then you weren’t paying attention. This blog told you that Mourdock was a bad candidate at least 8 months ago. More than once. Now, yes, I am just as much to blame as others here. I voted for Mourdock in the primary, knowing he was a bad candidate. I thought that former Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) would come around, and in the 2012 environment, in a red state, that even a bad candidate would win. I was wrong.

Fourth:

NRSC, you have some serious egg on your face this morning. Yes, you can only work with the candidates you have. And you’re powerless when they say something stupid. And you can’t force them to run a good campaign. But you can help out with direction, and with education on how not to say something stupid in front of the camera. You didn’t. You failed. A lot of last night’s Senate debacle falls on you. Yes, a lot falls on organizations like Freedomworks who were more interested in party purity than in winning, but you need to take your share of the blame as well.

Fifth:

If there’s a group with more egg on their faces than the NRSC, it’s the conservative punditocracy. I expect partisan spin from you. I expect optimism. But you went far past that into partisan cheerleading. You weren’t just optimistic, you were confident. Excessively so. Some of you were ebullient. With no logical reason to be so. You need to take a long hard look in the mirror and figure out why that was and why you let us down, so that it won’t happen again. Spin is ok, but if I can’t get the truth from you, even when it’s bad, then you’re no better to me than MSNBC. The conservative blogosphere seems more isolated in an echo chamber than the “inside the beltway” crowd, if that’s possible. And that’s unacceptable.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's 12:06 PM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?


12:06 PM

US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada.

September 11, 2001.
Where were you?

2,996 souls were lost on that day, including 343 of New York's Bravest and New York's Finest who gave their lives trying to save others.

Oh, where was I during all of this? In a meeting. No one bothered to interrupt the meeting to mention what was happening. After the meeting, I walked out to my car, somehow managing not to talk to a single person. I got in the car and drove home for lunch, without turning on the radio. I got home, made myself a sandwich, sat down at about 12:05 PM, turned on the TV and discovered that the world had changed while I wasn't looking. Rudy Giuliani has said it best, many times (paraphrasing). "We learned on September 11, 2001 that we were at war. The other side had known they were at war for quite some time, but we didn't know it."

There's a very poignant picture on the NY Times website from 9/11/2006, with the caption "The Hole in the City's Heart"

Where were you?


And this is how the 9/11 Memorial looks today, September 11, 2012.


On September 12, we all promised ourselves that we'd never forget the events of that day. Have you kept that promise?

The times and events listed here are a very small excerpt of what's available at the Cooperative Research History Commons. The whole thing is well worth a read, if you have the time (it's extremely long). I’ve left out quite a bit, including many of the actions at the White House, Pentagon, NORAD, etc. There were many heroic decisions and actions made that day. And some less than heroic ones. Right guesses and wrong guesses; it’s all there at the link above. There’s quite a bit about Delta Flight 1989, which I didn’t cover, although I’m still unsure if that was a good idea. Delta Flight 1989? There was nothing wrong with it, but circumstances led the people on the ground to believe that it was the fifth hijacked plane. The timeline also seems to have been taken over by some 9/11 “truthers” in the last few years, so there’s more stuff to wade through than there used to be.

Too many of us seem to have forgotten what happened that day, and what it felt like to live through it and the following days. I forget myself sometimes, but the yearly exercise of doing this brings it all rushing back. Producing this is an emotionally draining exercise to say the least.

As I indicated earlier, Russia was conducting a military exercise in the North Atlantic and shut it down. Putin called Bush and told him that he knew that the U.S. was raising their military alert status and in response, Russia’s military would stand down, in order to make sure nothing bad happened in a moment of high tension. Putin also told Bush that the world must unite against terrorism and that Russia would stand by the United States.

"Freedom and Fear are at War." - U.S. President George W. Bush
"This is a battle with only one outcome: our victory, not theirs." - UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

Where were you?


It's 11:00 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

11:00 AM

Most skyscrapers and tourist attractions in the U.S. are evacuated and closed. The list includes Walt Disney World, Seattle’s Space Needle, Independence Hall, and many others.

There are still nearly 1,000 airborne flights in U.S. airspace, and every one of them is a potential weapon.

It's 10:39 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:39 AM

The FAA shuts down all U.S. airports.

It's 10:32 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:32 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the White House to inform them that the Russian military is standing down a military exercise currently in progress. This is done both as a gesture of solidarity with the United States, and to reduce the risk of something happening due the high tension currently being experienced.

At about this time, the blast doors at NORAD’s operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado are closed. Cheyenne Mountain is designed to be able resist a nuclear attack when buttoned down.

Finally, remember the Matthew Broderick movie “War Games”? At about this time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumseld orders the U.S. Armed Forces to go to DEFCON 3. This is one step below preparation for war.

It's 10:28 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:28 AM

The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46, 102 minutes earlier.





TOM BROKAW: There has been a declaration of war by terrorists on the United States.

It's 10:06 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:06 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 crashes into an empty field just north of the Somerset County Airport, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, 124 miles or 15 minutes from Washington, D.C.

343_93crash2050081722-9364[1]

All four hijacked planes are now down. Thousands of planes are still airborne in U.S. airspace and several of them are suspected of being under the control of hijackers. All of these suspicions later turn out to be false.
Note that the exact timing of this crash is still unclear, and it could have been as early as 10:03. NORAD says 10:03. A seismic study says 10:06.

After the crash, people in Washington still believe the plane is headed towards them. Vice President Dick Cheney (R-USA) gives the order to shoot it down.

And this is why I’m glad I’m not President or Vice President. I am not saying that was the right decision or the wrong one. I am saying that I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to make it.

It's 9:59 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:59 AM

The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by United Airlines Flight 175 at 9:03 A.M., 57 minutes earlier.
TERRORIST ATTACKS

Sometime in the next hour, astronauts aboard the international space station take this picture:
NASA%20picture_2050081722-25215[1]

Video:

It's 9:58 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:58 AM

Sandy Bradshaw, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 ends her call with her husband, “Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.”

Also:
Elizabeth Wainio, another passenger on Flight 93 finishes her phone conversation with her stepmother, “They’re getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you. Good-bye.”

AND:
Todd Beamer, also aboard Flight 93 is still on the phone with GTE Customer Service rep Lisa Jefferson. He asks her to recite the Lord’s Prayer with him, and then he recites the 23rd Psalm. He tells her that some of the passengers are going to try to take control of the plane, “We’re going to do something. I know I’m not going to get out of this.”

The group he’s been talking to is apparently not the same as the group containing Tom Burnett, but both groups seem to make their move about now. Todd leaves the phone connected, and Jefferson hears screaming and commotion and Todd’s last recorded words, “Let's Roll.

This is followed by more screaming. Jefferson stays on the line until it goes dead, approximately 8 minutes from now.

Over the next few minutes, the cockpit voice recorder records the following:

PASSENGER: In the cockpit! In the cockpit!

HIJACKER: Allah o Akbar

ANOTHER HIJACKER: Should we finish?

ANOTHER HIJACKER: Not yet!

PASSENGER: Give it to me!

ANOTHER PASSENGER: I’m injured.

MORE PASSENGERS: Roll it up! Lift it up!

Some believe that this means that the passengers did regain control, but too late to save the plane.

It's 9:54 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:54 AM

Tom Burnett has called his wife Deena from United Airlines Flight 93 for the fourth and final time. He tells her that he and some of the other passengers are going to try to regain control of the aircraft: “We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the airplane. If they’re going to crash this plane into the ground, we’re going to have to do something.… We can’t wait for the authorities. I don’t know what they could do anyway. It’s up to us. I think we can do it. Don’t worry. I’ll be home for dinner. I may be late, but I’ll be home. We’re going to do something,” and hangs up.

These are the last words that Deena will ever hear from her husband.

Also:
Elizabeth Wainio, also aboard Flight 93, calls her stepmother Esther Heymann in Cantonsville, MD. She greets her stepmother with, “We’re being hijacked. I’m calling to say goodbye.”

It's 9:50 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:50 AM

Sandy Bradshaw, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 calls her husband.
She says, “Have you heard what’s going on? My flight has been hijacked. My flight has been hijacked with three guys with knives.” [Boston Globe, 11/23/2001] She tells him that some passengers are in the rear galley filling pitchers with hot water to use against the hijackers.

It's 9:48 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:48 AM



The Capitol in Washington, D.C. is evacuated for the first time in United States history.

It's 9:45 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:45 AM

Ben Sliney, FAA’s National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. Around 3,950 flights are still in the air. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve his actions. It’s Sliney’s first day on the job.

Also:
United Airlines orders all its flights to land at the nearest airport.

Also:
Tom Burnett makes a third call to his wife Deena.

DEENA: Tom, you’re okay?

TOM: No, I’m not.

DEENA: They just hit the Pentagon. They think five airplanes have been hijacked. One is still on the ground. They believe all of them are commercial planes. I haven’t heard them say which airline, but all of them have originated on the east coast.

TOM: What is the probability of them having a bomb on board? I don’t think they have one. I think they’re just telling us that for crowd control.

DEENA (a former flight attendant): A plane can survive a bomb if it’s in the right place.

TOM: [The hijackers are] talking about crashing this plane into the ground. We have to do something. I’m putting a plan together. There’s a group of us.

He tells her he will call back and hangs up. Deena is amazed at how calm he sounds.

And:
Meanwhile, Todd Beamer has still been unable to contact his family, but is still on the phone with GTE. He tells Lisa Jefferson the details of what’s going on, and she fills him on the details of what has happened outside his plane. Beamer tells Jefferson that the hijackers don’t seem to know how to fly. He tells her about his family and adds, “I just want to talk to somebody and just let someone know that this is happening.”

About this time, my sister-in-law lands in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and is stranded there, (yes, I know...not a terribly bad place to be stranded, all things considered) after all outbound flights are canceled.

It's 9:43 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:43 AM

Tom Beamer, aboard United Airlines Flight 93, manages to reach a GTE operator using one of the Airfones on board. Phone services across the U.S. are having overload issues, and GTE is no exception. He speaks to customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson (left). Miraculously, this call stays connected all the way to the end.

By now, Cleveland Center is tracking Flight 93 as it heads towards its target in Washington, D.C. They know they have a hijacking, and they know what has happened so far, but are unable to do anything other than move other nearby flights out of the way.

It's 9:39 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:39 AM

Aboard United Airlines Flight 93, passenger Lauren Grandcolas calls her husband in San Rafael, CA and leaves the following message on their answering machine.

GRANDCOLAS: Honey, are you there? Jack, pick up sweetie. Okay, well I just wanted to tell you I love you. We’re having a little problem on the plane. I’m comfortable and I’m okay… for now. Just a little problem. So I just love you. Please tell my family I love them too. Bye, honey.

It's 9:37 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:37 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Approximately 125 people on the ground are later determined killed or missing. Many key officials including Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, escape injury due to the plane hitting the wrong side of the massive building. The plane hit the wrong side of the building because of missing the Pentagon on its first pass. The joint chiefs and secretary of defense offices are above the River Entrance. The National Military Command Center is also on that side of the building. Hitting it would have essentially shut down the Defense Department.







It's 9:34 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:34 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 appears to turn away from Washington D.C., causing air traffic control to breathe a sigh of relief. The reason? The plane too high to hit its target, the Pentagon. So the pilot makes a large circle while descending rapidly to make another pass.

Also:
Tom Burnett, aboard United Airlines Flight 93, makes a second call to his wife Deena. She’s on the phone with the FBI, but switches over to Tom when he calls.

TOM: [The hijackers are] in the cockpit. The guy they knifed is dead…I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get a pulse.

DEENA: Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the east coast. They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.

TOM: [They are] talking about crashing this plane. Oh my gosh! It’s a suicide mission.

Tom then repeats what he’s been told to the person next to him.

Then…

TOM: [Have commercial airplanes been hijacked? How many? Who is doing this?] We’re turning back toward New York. We’re going back to the World Trade Center. No, wait, we’re turning back the other way. We’re going south. We’re over a rural area. It’s just fields. I’ve gotta go.

<click>

It's 9:32 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:32 AM

The New York Stock Exchange closes. It will not reopen until September 17th.

Also:
Dulles air traffic control notices a plane moving very fast (500 mph+) heading eastbound on their radar. This is American Airlines Flight 77. The plane is headed towards the prohibited airspace surrounding the White House. Over the next several minutes, this plane’s path will be tracked and various nearby facilities will be notified and will engage disaster plans. Some people are evacuated from the Pentagon.

It's 9:30 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:30 AM

Someone in the cockpit aboard United Airlines Flight 93 requests a new flight plan, with final destination Washington, D.C. It is unclear who makes this request.

It's 9:29 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:29 AM


President George W. Bush (R-USA) makes his first official statement about the unfolding events. He’s still at the school.

BUSH: Today we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.

It's 9:28 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:28 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 officially becomes the 4th hijacked plane. Cleveland flight control hears sounds of struggle and possible screaming in the cockpit, followed by people speaking in Arabic.

It's 9:27 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:27 AM.

Tom Burnett, a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93, call his wife Deena at their home in San Francisco. Despite the early hour on the west coast, Deena has already seen the television coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

She asks him if he’s ok…

TOM: No, I’m not. I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. They just knifed a guy.

DEENA: Are you in the air?

TOM: Yes, yes, just listen. Our airplane has been hijacked. It’s United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. We are in the air. The hijackers have already knifed a guy. One of them has a gun. They’re telling us there’s a bomb on board. Please call the authorities.

Then Tom tells his wife he’ll call back and hangs up. Deena does not have time to tell him about the what’s happened already, but she does write down everything he says.

This is the first of over 30 phone calls made by passengers of Flight 93.

It's 9:21 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:21 AM

The New York City Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in New York City.

It's 9:20 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:20 AM

The FAA’s Indianapolis Center finally learns that there are other hijacked aircraft, and now doubts that Flight 77 crashed. They discuss this possibility with the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia.

Also, at about this time, United Airlines Flight 23, bound to Los Angeles from JFK International in New York, cancels takeoff. It was scheduled to take off at 8:30, but left the gate late and has been sitting in line. Several Arab passengers become aggressive at this news and refuse to debark the plane. Security is called but before it arrives, the men will have vanished, leaving behind box-cutters, copies of the Koran, and al-Qaeda instruction sheets.

It is reasonable to conclude that Flight 23 was supposed to be the fifth plane to be hijacked. However, the target is unknown.

It's 9:15 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:15 AM

American Airlines grounds all its flights, ordering all airborne planes to land at the nearest available airport. By now, they have discussed the situation with United Airlines and doubt that the second plane to hit the World Trade Center was their missing Flight 77.

It's 9:10 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:10 AM

Flight 77 enters Washington D.C. airspace, yet flight control does not realize that this mystery plane is the hijacked American Airlines flight.

It’s also at about this time that an employee at an FAA flight service station reports that Flight 77 may have crashed near Ashland, Kentucky. No plane crashed anywhere near here, and this appears to be the result of confused radio chatter. Nevertheless, the end result is that the search for Flight 77 is disrupted.

Also:
Melodie Homer has been watching the events unfurl on TV. She is worried about her husband Leroy Homer, the co-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93. She calls the United Airlines Operation Center at JFK and asks that they send a message to him to find out if he’s ok.

They do. There is no response. A few minutes later they will send a second text message. Again, there will be no response.

It's 9:06 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

President George W. Bush (R-USA), while reading “My Pet Goat” with a second grade class in Booker Elementary, is told by his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card: “A second plane hit the other tower, and America’s under attack.”

He stays in the class room for the next seven minutes. Later the media will make a big deal of this, but their opinions are discounted by the people in the classroom.

It's 9:03 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:03 AM

United Airlines Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center (Tower Two). Seismic records pinpoint the time at six seconds before 9:03 a.m. (rounded to 9:03 a.m.). Millions watch it live on TV, and realize belatedly that the United States of America is under attack.










Watch this, if you can. If the embed doesn’t work, see it at YouTube.

It's 9:00 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:00 AM

Peter Hanson makes a second phone call to his father from United Airlines Flight 175.

HANSON: It’s getting bad, Dad—A stewardess was stabbed—They seem to have knives and Mace—They said they have a bomb—It’s getting very bad on the plane—Passengers are throwing up and getting sick—The plane is making jerky movements—I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane—I think we are going down—I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building—don’t worry, Dad—If it happens, it’ll be very fast—My God, my God.

It's 8:58 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:58 AM

United Airlines Flight 175 makes a power dive, descending at a rate near 10,000 feet per minute over the next few minutes, having yet another near mid-air collision with flight Midwest Airlines Flight 7.

Also:
Brian Sweeney, aboard Flight 175, calls his wife. He doesn’t reach her but leaves a message saying “We’ve been hijacked, and it doesn’t look too good.”
He then calls his mother, telling her the same, and that the hijackers are Middle Eastern. He also says that he loves her, and that the passengers are going to try “to do something about this.” Apparently the passengers are planning to storm the cockpit.

However, they run out of time before they can.

After the phone call, his mom turns on the television…

It's 8:56 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:56 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 disappears from Indianapolis Center Radar.

It's 8:55 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:55 AM

Flight 175 nearly has another mid-air collision, this time with Delta Flight 2315. The radar blips overlap. Moments later, Flight 175 again nearly hits another plane, US Airways Flight 542. Within the next two minutes, it will make its final turn towards New York City.

Also:
President George W. Bush (R-USA) arrives at Booker Elementary School. He is told by Karl Rove that a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Bush says that it is a horrible accident and speculates that the pilot may have had a heart attack.

It's 8:52 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:52 AM
Two passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 175 attempt to call relatives. One is successful. Garnet Bailey, scout for the Los Angeles Kings makes four attempts to call his wife. None get through.






Meanwhile, businessman Peter Hanson does manage to get hold of his father.
HANSON: Oh, my God! They just stabbed the airline hostess. I think the airline is being hijacked.

It's 8:51 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:51 AM

The last radio contact with American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles occurs. Sometime in the next three minutes it will become the third hijacked plane.

Flight 175 is now reported as being hijacked, and in the next few minutes Mike McCormick, head of the FAA’s New York Center will connect the dots. He sees the coverage on CNN, and knows that Flight 175 is heading in the same direction.
Probably one of the most difficult moments of my life was the 11 minutes from the point I watched that aircraft, when we first lost communications until the point that aircraft hit the World Trade Center. For those 11 minutes, I knew, we knew, what was going to happen, and that was difficult.

It's 8:50 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:50 AM

Flight 175, believed to have been hijacked sometime in the last 8 minutes, now deviates from its assigned flight plan. It turns and heads southeast towards New York City, and climbs to 33,500 feet.

It's 8:46 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:46 AM

American Airlines Flight 11 Hits the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

In two minutes, CNN will break off a commercial with live news. Carol Lin says, “This just in. You are looking at ... obviously a very disturbing live shot there—that is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” CNN then switches to Sean Murtagh, the network’s vice president of finance, who says in a live telephone interview, “I just witnessed a plane that appeared to be cruising at a slightly lower than normal altitude over New York City. And it appears to have crashed into—I don’t know which tower it is—but it hit directly in the middle of one of the World Trade Center towers. It was a jet, maybe a two-engine jet, maybe a 737 ... a large passenger commercial jet ... It was teetering back and forth, wing-tip to wing-tip, and it looks like it has crashed into—probably, twenty stories from the top of the World Trade Center—maybe the eightieth to eighty-fifth floor. There is smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.”

It's 8:44 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:44 AM

Flight attendant Amy Sweeney of Flight 11 has been on the phone with her friend and American Airlines flight services manager Michael Woodward, describing what’s been going on. She was the second of the attendants on the flight to make a call, and has been on the phone since 8:25 AM. Her phone call ends with the following exchange.

SWEENEY: Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent… we are all over the place.

WOODWARD: Look out the window. Can you see where you are? [paraphrase]

SWEENEY: I see the water. I see the buildings. I see buildings.

SWEENEY: Oh my God!

SWEENEY: We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low.

SWEENEY: Oh my God, we are way too low.

<static>
These are Sweeney’s last words.

Also:

Betty Ong is still on the phone with Nydia Gonzalez. Her call also ends at this time.

ONG: Pray for us. Pray for us.
<line goes dead>

GONZALES: I think we might have lost her.

Still nothing in the media. Four more minutes.

It's 8:42 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:42 AM

The flight crew of United Airlines Flight 175 makes their last transmission to air traffic control. At some point in the next four minutes, the hijackers get their second plane. We know little about the takeover of the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11, but the hijacking of Flight 175 was bloody and violent. Both pilots are killed.

At around this time, Flight 11 and Flight 175 nearly have a mid-air collision, 55 miles north of New York City.

Also at this time, United Airlines Flight 93 takes off from Newark International, bound for San Francisco. The flight is 41 minutes late getting off the ground.

So far, nothing has been reported in the media. In six minutes, that will change.

It's 8:38 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:38 AM

The pilot of Flight 11 stops activating the talkback button. He has been doing this since approximately 8:24, turning it off and on, allowing flight control to hear some of what’s been going on in the cockpit.
It’s reasonable to conclude that he’s now been replaced in the pilot’s seat by a hijacker.

It's 8:26 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:26 AM

Flight 11 makes a series of turns over the next few minutes, eventually ending up heading south-southeast, towards Manhattan.

It's 8:25 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:25 AM

Twelve minutes after losing contact with Flight 11, Boston flight control begins notifying the chain of command that a suspected hijacking is in progress. This includes the FAA’s New England Regional Operations Center, and the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia.

It's 8:24 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:24 AM

The pilot of Flight 11, apparently trying to signal flight control, has been intermittently turning on the talkback button in the cockpit. Boston Center hears a hijacker for the first time, talking to the passengers:
“We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you’ll be OK. We are returning to the airport.”
The transmission is unclear and there’s confusion about what flight this transmission originated from, and from whom. Boston Center gets to work trying to find out more.

It's 8:20 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:20 AM

Several things happen at or around this time. Flight 11 veers off course, now heading towards Albany, New York. It also stops transmitting its IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) beacon signal. Flight control decides at this time that the plane has likely been hijacked.

In addition, American Airlines Flight 77 takes off at this time from Washington Dulles International Airport. Like American Flight 11 and United Flight 175, it is bound for Los Angeles, and like the other two, will never arrive.

At around this time, Daniel Lewin (above), a passenger aboard Flight 11, and former Israeli Special-Ops member is killed, becoming the first 9/11 fatality.

It's 8:19 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:19 AM

Flight attendant Betty Ong, onboard Flight 11, calls Vanessa Minter of American Airlines and informs her that the plane has been hijacked. She speaks to Minter, associate Winston Sadler, & supervisor Nydia Gonzalez.

ONG: The cockpit’s not answering. Somebody’s stabbed in business class and… I think there’s mace… that we can’t breathe. I don’t know, I think we’re getting hijacked.

Later:

ONG: I think the guys are up there [in the cockpit]. They might have gone there—jammed the way up there, or something. Nobody can call the cockpit. We can’t even get inside.

This is the first of independent calls made by flight attendants reporting the hijacking, but officials doubt their validity.

It's 8:14 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:14 AM

United Airlines Flight 175, bound for Los Angeles, takes off from Boston’s Logan Airport. Scheduled for 7:58, the flight takes off 16 minutes late.

It's 8:13 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:13 AM

Pilot John Ogonowski of American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston acknowledges the instruction from Boston Center air traffic controller Pete Zalewski to turn 20 degrees to the right. Seconds later he fails to respond to a command to climb to 35,000 feet. This is the last communication from the crew of Flight 11. Within the next 10 minutes or so, the plane’s transponder is turned off, and flight control suspects a possible hijacking in progress.

It's 8:01 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:01 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 is supposed to be taking off now, however it has been delayed after leaving the gate. This delay will prove pivotal later on.

It's 7:59 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

7:59 AM

American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston’s Logan Airport, bound for Los Angeles. It’s 14 minutes later than the scheduled 7:45 departure time.

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It's 7:40 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

7:40 AM
By now most of us on the east coast are awake, and probably headed to work. Early birds like me are probably already at work. I have an 8:00 am meeting on the other side of town, though, and I’m stuck in traffic. I’m going to be a few minutes late.

American Airlines Flight 11 leaves the gate at Boston Logan Airport. A few minutes later, Mohamed Atta calls Marwan Alshehhi aboard Flight 175 using an AirFone.

(curious as to how this was done—had to require assistance from flight crews)

It's 7:15 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

7:15 AM

Between now and 7:36 the hijackers for American Airlines Flight 77 will all check in and make it through security.

It's 7:03 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

7:03 AM

Between now and 7:48, the four hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 will check in and board their plane.

It's 6:45 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

6:45 AM
Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari’s flight from Portland arrives on time to Boston Logan Airport.

ALSO:
American Airlines Flight 11 hijackers Wlaeed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami arrive at Logan in their rental car.

AND:
United Airlines Flight 93 hijacker Ziad Jarrah calls his girlfriend, Aysel Senguen, in Germany:
Senguen will later recount, “[H]e was very brief. He said he loved me three times. I asked what was up. He hung up shortly afterwards.… It was so short and rather strange him saying that repeatedly.”

It's 6:20 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

6:20 AM
Two of the United Airlines Flight 175 hijackers check in. These are likely Ahmed and Hamza Alghamdi.
The two appear unaccustomed to traveling. One tells the representative, Gail Jawahir, that he needs a ticket, though upon examining his documents she finds he already has one. Both men have problems answering standard security questions, which Jawahir has to repeat very slowly until they give the routine, reassuring answers.

It's 6:00 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

6:00 AM
A van arrives at the Colony Beach Resort, in FL, where President George W. Bush (R-USA) has spent the night. The occupants, men of Middle Eastern descent, claim that they have a poolside interview with the President. They do not have such an appointment and are turned away. Many speculate that this was an assassination attempt in conjunction with the later events of the day.

It's 5:43 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

5:43 AM
Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari check in at Portland International for their flight to Boston.
Ticket agent Michael Tuohey (left) is disturbed by their appearance.
Noting that their flight is soon due to leave, the ticket agent who checks them in, Michael Tuohey, says, “You’re cutting it close.” [PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, 3/6/2005] Tuohey thinks the pair seems unusual. He notices they both have $2,500 first-class, one-way tickets. He later comments, “You don’t see many of those.” Atta looks “like a walking corpse. He looked so angry.” In contrast, Tuohey says, Alomari can barely speak English and has “a goofy smile, I can’t believe he knew he was going to die that day.”

It's 5:33 AM September 11, 2001-Where Are You?

I still remember it like it was yesterday.

5:33 AM.

Most of us are still asleep, but not Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari. Having spent the night in Portland, ME, they need to get up early to get back to Boston on time. They check out of their hotel and drive to Portland International Jetport Airport.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

P90X DAY 90: YOGA X

It’s over.

What does Tony say?

Oh yeah…

“Take in the fact that you just did that.”

Wow. Hard to believe, but there it is. 90 days go by so fast. 91 days ago, I was nervous as hell, wondering if I could actually even make it through the first week. Well, I did. And now I’ve done 13 weeks (ok, technically I’m one day shy of 13 weeks).

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but I hate the side twists that are part of Yoga Belly 7. The rest of Yoga Belly is ok, but I hate those side twists. Ugh.

But, despite that “Ugh”, I’m smiling broadly right now. And you know why, don’t you?

Because I just completed day 90 of P90X.

Tomorrow, final fit test, and maybe some pics if they aren’t too embarrassing.

Ciao. See you then.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

P90X Day 89: Core Synergistics

“You might find that this is your favorite workout”  - Tony Horton

Well, you might find that. I didn’t.

It’s all right. I don’t hate this workout. But I don’t love it either. There are a few exercises that I can’t stand. But that’s true pretty much every day. But it’s over now. No more Boat-to-Bows or Superman-Bananas for a while.

Starting to get a real feeling of accomplishment here. I smile to myself all the time when I think about P90X anymore.

Tomorrow, DAY 90, Yoga X. And then it’s all over. Friday, I’ll do my final fit test and post the results. (And I’ll sneak in an X Stretch too, of course)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

P90X Days 83-88

Wow, the last week. You think I’d be more consistent about updates.

Sorry, been very busy.

Day 83: Kenpo X

Someday I’ll figure out why they pretend they have breaks in this one. Not this time though. As usual, a fun workout that seems very short, but isn’t. And, as usual, I don’t feel like I got as much out of it as some of the others. I guess I have it in my head that P90X should be hard, and when it’s fun, I feel like I’m taking it too easy.

Day 84: X Stretch

I’ve really started pushing myself on this one. Just about every stretch I’m trying to stretch farther than ever before. And on most them, I’m succeeding. I wonder if I’ll ever consider myself limber. At this point, I settle for feeling like I’m average. I’m getting close. I can almost touch my toes now when standing with my feet together. Haven’t been able to do that in probably 25 years.

Day 85: Yoga X

Recovery and Ab Focus week starts with Yoga again. Like X Stretch, I’m really pushing myself hard on this one now. And sweating even more than ever. In fact, after Plyometrics, this may be the workout where I sweat the most. If you’d told me that on day 1, I would’ve laughed at you.

Day 86: Core Synergistics

No matter what week you’re on, Day 2 is brutal. Now, sure, Core Syn is no Plyometrics, but it’s definitely the hardest workout in Recovery and Ab Focus week. My form is awful on several of the exercises. This is something that I really need to work on, next time I do P90X.

Day 87: Kenpo X

The last time for Kenpo! Now, I truly know that I’m closing in on the end. I’m almost tempted to do a different workout on this day the next time around. I may do another day of Plyometrics, or Cardio X, or even Core Synergistics. I’m almost tempted. I know me. I’m far too anal to start switching things around. I’ll do Kenpo and learn to like it, I guess. :)

Day 88: X Stretch

The last time for X Stretch. Or is it? P90X is called that because it’s supposedly a 90 day program. But it’s really a 13 week program. 13 weeks is 91 days, not 90. They call it P90X because that sounds a lot better than P91X, and because the parameters of the program allow them to cheat up a little. The final day of each week is “Rest or X Stretch”. And that applies to week 13, meaning day 91, too. So, by calling it P90X, they’re implying that the 91st day is just a rest day, so it doesn’t matter if you end the program one day early. But, if you’ve been paying attention, you know I’m not going to have a rest day. Friday will be an X Stretch day for me. So, does that mean that I should think of it as a 91 day program and that I still have one more X Stretch to go? Probably. Honestly, I doubt I’ll post about day 91 though. If I do a post on day 91, it’ll just be a wrap up post.

Tomorrow, the final Core Synergistics. I’m so close to the end, I can taste it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

P90X Days 81 & 82

Day 81: Yoga X

This workout just doesn’t get any easier. I’m doing better at it, but if anything that just makes it harder. I know it like the back of my hand now, though. At 59 minutes remaining is when it first gets really hard. The active options end at just under 43 minutes. Yoga Belly 7 starts at 17 minutes and change. After Yoga Belly 7, it’s all relaxation and nice easy stretches. I’ll miss this workout. A little. But still two more times to go.

Day 82: Legs & Back

Three cheers!

No more Legs & Back!

No more pull ups!

No more Ab Ripper X!

We could add one more, too. No more “Fifer Scissors”. That’s one of the Ab Ripper X exercises, and it is without doubt, my least favorite exercise in all of P90X. Just thinking about it makes me wince. But I don’t have to do it again, until…I don’t know. Until the next time I pull out these discs. :)

Tomorrow, Kenpo X. Not the last, though. I get one more of Kenpo next week. But, definitely closing in on the finish line here. And it feels like it too. Every day, I feel better and better, and more like I’ve accomplished something special here. Just a few more days and it’s all over…

Monday, July 16, 2012

P90X Day 80: Back & Biceps

Wow, day 80. That's hard to imagine. 10 days to go. Sort of. More on that in a later post.

Today was the last time for Back & Biceps. I've mentioned before--many times now--that I hate the pull ups. I think that they're the worst in this particular workout. First, the two new pull up types are just mean. But, even on the more standard varieties, it's awful.

You see, when you do Legs & Back, you're working two completely different areas of your body. You do some leg exercises, then you go do some pull ups, then back to legs, then back to pull ups. Your arms get a chance to rest.

Not so for Back & Biceps. Here you are doing curls and lifts, pushing yourself to failure on each exercise. Your arms are sore. Your shoulders are sore. You're tired. And then you have to go do some pull ups.

Torture.

The only rest for your upper body comes at the end, when you have to do...you guessed it...Ab Ripper X.

I'm actually finally getting close on Ab Ripper X. I'm now finally doing more complete sit ups than my pseudo-sit up-attempt-crunch-whatevers. That feels good. But I'm still thankful that I only have one more time of Ab Ripper X to go.

If it sounds like I'm enjoying the workouts a bit more lately, it's because I am. Perhaps it's because I'm showing some improvement in all of them. But I think it's more likely that it's because I know I'm getting close to the end.

My frustration with P90X a week or so ago, when I decided to move on to Insanity, was that I couldn't see myself doing this for another 90 days. I like the progress I'm making, and I feel better about most of the workouts, but if you told me that I had to do Ab Ripper another 30 times, I think I'd want to crawl into my bed and lock the door.

Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration. :)

But it's definitely the truth that I will be exceptionally happy Wednesday when I hear Tony say "Nice work" at the end of the final Ab Ripper X.

Tomorrow, Yoga X. Sadly, not for the last time.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

P90X Day 79: Plyometrics

Last time for Plyometrics! Woohoo!

I'm not sure I really have anything else to add. I've mentioned before that after this workout, I always feel that my clothes should just be burned, not put into the wash. Today, that was again true.

Oh, there is one thing I can say, I guess. This is definitely a workout that when you finish it, you're filled with a sense of pride, accomplishment. You know that if you make it through it without collapsing, without pausing, and with doing good form for everything, that you've truly done something special. You know that you're in at least moderately decent shape. You have to be to make it through this. It's an hour of jumping, twisting, and hopping. It starts out hard and gets harder. When you make it to the last segment, you sigh in relief, knowing that it's almost over and that this segment isn't that hard.

And then you just smile happily at the end. You know you did it. Or maybe you're smiling like that because you're dizzy from exhaustion. Could be either one, honestly.

Tomorrow, Back & Biceps. Last time for that one too.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

P90X Day 78: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps

Another milestone. Last time for this workout. I’ll be saying that several times this week. This is the last “real” week of P90X. Next week is another “Recovery and Ab Focus” week.

This is one of the workouts where you can really tell at the end if you’ve put it all on the mat or not. During the cool down, you do some stretches that start with overhead stretches, putting your hands up as high above you as possible. Today, when I did that I could barely get my hands up there. Not because I was in pain, but because my arms were just too heavy to lift up that high.

It’s funny. I increased my weights on a couple of the exercises in this workout this week. On the first one, my form went straight to hell, and I immediately knew I had to go back to the lesser weight. The others went ok, but they were definitely much harder. It’s amazing the difference 5 pounds can make sometimes. You have a weight, and it seems like it’s too light. You add 5, and suddenly it goes from too light to no longer doable.

While I’m moving on to Insanity in a couple weeks, I know that I’m going to be coming back to P90X at some point. I’ll be doing some sort of maintenance workout in October-December, and at this point I’m planning on another round of P90X starting in late December or January. I’ve already decided that I’m going to keep track of all my weights that I’m currently using. Next time, I’m going to start with the next weight down for most of the exercises. Will be interesting to see how that works.

For this first round of P90X, my goal has really been to just get through the thing, and to improve on a week-to-week basis. Next round, I really want to concentrate on form, on doing every exercise as perfectly as I can possibly do it, even if that means doing fewer reps than I’m doing now, or going to a lower weight, or whatever. Not that I slack off now, but I am constantly noticing even still that there’s room for improvement on my form. I think some of that is just a learning experience. And, in the case of a few things, such as in Yoga, or even Plyometrics, I was totally incapable of doing the exercise perfectly on day one. My body just wouldn’t do that. Now, I’m doing better, and I can. And I want to put that to the test next time around.

Anyway, tomorrow is the last time for Plyometrics. I’m so disappointed. My friend is slacking off. He says he’s skipping the last Plyos. Something about a 100 mile bike ride or something. I think he’s just wimping out on me, don’t you agree?

P90X Days 76 & 77

Day 76: Kenpo X

The only bad part of this workout is that the side kicks are a constant reminder of my flexibility issues. I can tell that I’ve gotten much better over the last 11 weeks, but I constantly wonder if I’ll ever be able to regain any kind of real flexibility at my age. All I can do is keep on plugging and see where it goes, I guess.

Day 77: X Stretch

And speaking of flexibility…

Well, I pushed a little harder on all the stretches today. After talking with my friend at work who’s also doing P90X, I got a reminder once again of just how poor my flexibility actually is. That encouraged me to try even harder during the workout. Made it much more painful, but I still felt great at the end.

Insanity has an off day each week. Pretty sure I’m going to continue to do this workout on the Insanity off day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

P90X Day 75: Legs & Back

Nothing much to say about this workout. Pull ups, lunges, and wall sits. Oh yeah, there is one thing I'd like to say.

Ow.

But I did increase my pull up count. In fact, I'm quite proud of my pull ups. I can now do 15 pull ups in each of the exercises. That's a far cry from the 2 and 3 I was doing 11 short weeks ago.

And, Ab Ripper X was actually almost enjoyable today. I did better during Ab Ripper today than ever before. I'm almost sad there's only three of these left. Almost. I don't think I'll ever miss Ab Ripper X.

Just one more time for Legs & Back. Tomorrow, Kenpo X. See you then.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

P90X Day 74: Yoga X

Of course, right after I decide to not do another round of P90X, I start really enjoying the workouts. Today, I think I enjoyed Yoga X more than ever before. I feel like I'm making some real progress on this workout. I'm reaching farther than ever on the hamstring stretches, and I've made significant progress on the movement pieces of the workout. I still look ridiculous during the Half Moon and Twisting Half Moon poses. But I think you could actually look at me and tell what pose I'm attempting.

As for the rest of the workout, it actually goes pretty well. After about the first 25 minutes, I'm in near constant pain, but it's a good pain. I'm still having problems with the first of the balance poses. This was the third time in a row, I think that I had problems.

I have a theory about it now, though. The three balance poses are Tree, Royal Dancer, and Standing Leg Extension. Tree is by far the easiest of the three, but it's also the first one. And it's immediately after the Warrior Three, Half Moon, and Twisting Half Moon segment. I think my legs are just too tired and sore right then, and I need a little break before moving on. I had no problems at all today with Royal Dancer or Standing Leg Extension, just Tree. I've been doing Tree for six months now with little to no problems. I attempted Tree again later, and had no problems with it. I just think at that point I'm too tired. So, next time I'm going to interject a little break between the moving section and the non-moving section. I think that will solve the problem nicely.

I'll find out next week, and let you know.

Tomorrow, Legs & Back. Day 75. The end is near.

Monday, July 9, 2012

P90X Day 73: Shoulders & Arms

Another milestone. Today was the last day for Shoulders & Arms. I'll miss this workout. It doesn't have any pull ups, and it works the "show" muscles. All men want to have bigger biceps. And, while I'm never going to look like a super hero, I'm thrilled to finally have some muscles on my arms that are a step above non-existent.

But the real reason I love this workout is that there are a few exercises where I do better than the trainers. That kind of thing always brings a smile to your face. I do very well at the Chair Lifts, and Side Tri-Rises. I particularly enjoy those, as it's a little bit of a show off exercise for Tony and Dreya, and I pass both of them. Tony eventually gets to 25 and then demands that everyone stop, saying that "if anyone at home does 26, I'll come to your house." Well, by that time I've finished my 30 and am waiting for them. :)

It helps to be lean. Less weight to lift when your lifting yourself. I notice this on quite a few of the lifting exercises, including even the pull ups that drive me so crazy. As much as I complain about them, I can't imagine doing them if I was 20 or 30 pounds heavier.

Fortunately, I don't have to. I get to lift my light weight up over the bar, and not have to worry about such things.

Ab Ripper X was at the end, of course. Is there anything to say about that workout that I haven't said before? Yes. Don't drink a lot of water before hand. Today I was thirsty during Shoulders & Arms. I didn't drink all that much, but I did have a little sip during nearly every break. Then I got to feel that water sloshing around during Ab Ripper. Let me tell you that didn't make the workout anymore pleasant, and I actually was a bit nauseous at the end. That's the second time I've done that. Hopefully this time I'll learn.

That's the last of the "last times" for this week. There are 10 different workouts as part of P90X Classic. 8 of them I'll still do at least once more, most of them at least twice. But, I'm definitely closing in on the end.

Tomorrow is Yoga X. My poor calves and hamstrings may start rebelling against me soon.

P90X Day 72: Plyometrics

Posting this in the morning of day 73, rather than the evening of day 72. Sue me.

Plyometrics is brutal. And it doesn’t get easier. In fact, this is one of the workouts that might actually get a little harder. I know I talk about this a lot, but the first few weeks my form was awful. It was awful because I was so pooped. I couldn’t do 30 seconds of Rock Star hops. I could do about 10-15 seconds, followed by 15-20 seconds of “pretend” Rock Star hops. Now, I’m doing the full 30 seconds. Of course, this means that I’m even more worn out than before. At least I kept my heart rate from approaching the danger zone this time. Last time I was pretty close throughout.

Still, this workout goes by pretty fast. It’s a rush when you get to the “bonus sports set”, because you suddenly realize that “hey, this is almost over”.

Today is Shoulders & Arms.

Oh, and I already did Cardio X this morning, too.

Why? Well, the wife and I are going out for dinner and a movie later. Thought it would be good to burn a few extra calories.

I’ll do another post later after Shoulders & Arms. See you then!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

P90X Day 71: Chest & Back

Day 71 is a milestone day in P90X.

It’s the last time you do Chest & Back.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve reached the last of anything. It seems like I just started this thing a couple weeks ago. Time flies.

As I’ve said earlier, there are a few of the workouts that are only done 5 times. Chest & Back is one of those. Amazingly, I did Chest & Back today for the fifth time, and I still have 5 more of Ab Ripper X left to do.

Speaking of which…

Of course, Ab Ripper X was part of today.  It’s very odd. On my cycle, I do Ab Ripper X on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday every week. And the Saturday ones are always my worst. I’ve only had two days off from doing it, but it always seems like longer. Monday will almost certainly be better, but I always have problems with the Saturday version. Someday I’ll figure out why.

But not today. Today I’m reveling in the fact that I’ve reached the last time through with this workout. The home stretch has officially begun.

Tomorrow, Plyometrics. Sadly, not the last one of those yet. :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

P90X Day 70: X Stretch

X Stretch is the most relaxing of all the workouts. In fact, the two day set of Kenpo X followed by X Stretch is the easiest two day sequence. Which is fair, because they are days 6 and 7 of the week, and days 1 and 2 make up the hardest sequence.

I like this day. I really do. It still points out to me quite clearly how poor of shape I’m in, but it doesn’t do it in nearly as humiliating a fashion as Yoga X does.

Of course, that means that tomorrow I get back to the hard stuff. Chest & Back, and good old Ab Ripper X.

And that reminds me…

I realized last week during one of the strength training days that I need a change of pace. While there are some days that I truly enjoy, they’re evenly matched by the workouts that just fill me with dread. I still loathe pull ups. Legs & Back is murder. Plyometrics and Yoga X put me through the wringer. And don’t even get me started on Ab Ripper X.

There are only 3 weeks left, and one of those is the Recovery week, so I’m not worried about not finishing. But I am concerned about my plan to turn around and do this again. Several of the workouts are starting to bore me at times, and that makes it even harder to get up for the exercises that I dislike.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m certain that I will do P90X again, but I need a break from it. I need to switch to something else. Several months back, when I was thinking about starting this, I considered doing Insanity, instead. Then I was going to do both, and do Insanity first. Then I decided to do P90X first. Then, after I’d started it, I decided to just do P90X and forget about Insanity.

Ok, so I’m a bit indecisive.

But the truth of the matter is that once I looked into them both, P90X fits my goals better than Insanity. They both are full body workouts, but P90X I describe as Strength+Cardio, while Insanity seems like it’s Cardio+Strength. We’re a fat nation, and just about every workout program emphasizes losing weight, but Insanity makes that the major part of it’s appeal. In fact, if you watch the promo video, that’s pretty much all anyone talks about.

Well, I don’t need to lose any more weight. :) I do still need more muscle mass, though. More muscle mass helps you burn more calories, and my burn rate isn’t where I’d like it yet.

In spite of all of this, I’ve decided that I’m going to move on to Insanity after I’ve finished this round of P90X. I should still get muscle growth out of it. Perhaps not quite as much as I would with another round of P90X, but, as I said, I need a change of pace. I’m going to take a week off in between, so I should start Insanity around August 4. It’s only 60 days, so I’ll finish in early October.

And maybe I’ll discover that it’s just as good for my goals as P90X. It certainly has the advantage of needing less equipment—none—so, that part will be nice. And, it will be nice to be able to give a full comparison of the two. I’m looking forward to that as well.

But that’s still several weeks into the future. Tomorrow, on to the final 3 weeks of P90X!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

P90X Day 69: Kenpo X

First, I have a public service announcement.

75 pounds.

75 pounds is how much weight I’ve lost from my all-time high. Yes, I haven’t set any speed records doing it, but I did get the weight off.

Since my freshman year in college, I’ve always had at least a little bit of a pooch stomach. Obviously, when I was 75 pounds heavier, it was more than a little bit. But, no matter where I was in my yo-yoing weight, I’ve never been able to get rid of that pooch. I’ve had it basically my entire adult life. I remember the day in college when my freshman roommate made some sort of mocking statement about it. It was the first time in my life I felt fat. I was probably all of 140 pounds at the time, but the fact that I had that pooch and that others had noticed was all it took to make me feel fat.

Today, there is no pooch. Not even a little bit of one. I’ve been fighting that thing my whole life, and I finally have beaten it. For now. If I’ve learned anything during this process of getting into better shape, it’s that it’s not a one time battle. You keep fighting it every day of your life.

But, for the first time in my life, I’m winning. And you have no idea how good that feels.

Now, on to Kenpo X.

This is the only workout where there really aren’t any breaks. Oh sure, there are three or four places where the word “BREAK” pops up on the screen, and they last a minute each. But, they aren’t breaks. In just about every single one, my heart rate is higher at the end of the break than it was at the beginning. Some break. You run in place, jump an imaginary rope, do jumping jacks, and a harder version called X-jacks. You don’t feel like you’ve taken a break at the end.

In spite of that, this is probably the workout that’s the most fun. I still feel like my heart rate never quite gets up where I’d like it. I’m constantly in the aerobic zone, but rarely in the anaerobic zone. But the time just flies by, and before I know it, the workout is over. It’s nowhere near as demanding or high-impact as Plyometrics is. I still get a good cardio workout, but I’m not just completely exhausted and drained at the the end.

Tomorrow, X Stretch, and the end of week 10. 3 more weeks to go.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

P90X Days 62-68

Wow, didn’t realize it had been so long since my last update. It’s not that I haven’t been doing them. I have. Just have been swamped with life, and haven’t had time to do an update.

So, here goes.

Day 62: Kenpo X

I think I’ve said everything that can be said about this one. I am awful at side kicks. If I do it even close to correctly, it hurts. If I want it not to hurt, I have to do it wrong. Hard choice. But at least doing it wrong still gets my heart rate up, and doesn’t hurt. I just need to get more limber in my hips and legs. Eventually I’ll be able to do them right.

Day 63: X Stretch

I really enjoy this workout. Surprisingly, it’s more relaxing for me than Yoga X, just because it’s not nearly as brutal. Still hard, but the only part that really has me even close to whimpering is Bow and the Two Legged Hamstring Stretch. Most of the rest is doable, and enjoyable.

Day 64: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps

You know, way back in the first week, I thought I’d be able to get by with just 2 or 3 different weights. For this week’s Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, I used almost all of my weights. I used 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 25 pounds. The only pre-set weight that I have set up that I didn’t use was my 50s. This workout is just brutal in that every exercise is so very different. A weight that works great for one is totally wrong for the next. I have fun on this one, but just keep track of all my weights is a workout in itself. And, of course, it’s followed by my favorite, Ab Ripper X.

Day 65: Plyometrics

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Your body is different every day. And it reacts differently. For whatever reason, I actually got my heart rate up to almost in the zone while doing the warm ups. From that point on, my heart rate was way up the entire workout. For once I was having to watch it just to make sure I didn’t go too high. And believe me, I got close. More than once. I considered pausing the DVD for a bit, just to catch my breath. But, I didn’t, and eventually I made it through. But, man, this workout was tough this week. It always is, but this week was brutal.

Day 66: Back & Biceps

This is a fun workout. I wish it was part of week 1. Although the pull up variations on it are just ridiculously hard. But the rest of the time, you’re just lifting, and lifting, and lifting. Again, like day 64, I used nearly all of my weights. I didn’t use the 5 or 8 pounders, but used everything else. I even use the 50s on the two different variations of Lawnmowers. You really know you’ve worked your arms at the end of this one. Ab Ripper X is at the end of this one again. I had an epiphany during the Ab Ripper piece, but it’s going to have to wait for my next post. Too long to put in this one.

Day 67: Yoga X

I’m finally getting noticeable improvement at the yoga. I can almost do the Half Moon and Twisting Half Moon. Almost. I tried to go lower in my Warrior poses this week. Wow, that cranked the workout up to 11. It’s hard to believe you can sweat so much from yoga, but I do every week, and this week I felt like I’d been standing out in the rain by the time it was over. I was completely soaked, head to toe.

Day 68: Legs & Back

Only a couple more times to do this one before P90X is all over. I won’t miss it. Every part of this workout is just murder. First, we have pull ups. Yippee. Y’all know how much I love those. Then we’ve got wall squats. Two of ‘em. You know, those just don’t any easier. Ever. I use weights on all the lunges. I don’t use much, but I do use a little. And even just a little bit of weight turns the lunges into major league workouts for your calves. Then, there’s the Skaters and the Speed Squats. Those don’t hurt, but I can’t keep my balance properly. I need a lot more work on this workout before I’ll be performing it at a level I would consider even close to acceptable.

Tomorrow is Kenpo X again, then X Stretch on Friday. Saturday starts week 11, which officially begins the stretch run. I’ll do more frequent updates starting Saturday. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SCOTUS Rules ObamaCare Mandate is a Tax--Here’s Why

The short version is this: the states never really took the tax argument seriously, and didn’t prepare an adequate defense.

Here’s the longer version.

The tax argument was something of a Hail Mary pass by the government. They believed that ObamaCare is constitutional because of the Welfare clause, the Commerce clause and the Necessary and Proper clause. But they threw the tax argument in as a last resort, basically saying “just in case you don’t agree with us on these three, we still have this arrow in our quiver.”

The states defense against the tax argument amounted to “Nuh uh. It’s not called a tax in the law, and they never called it a tax before. They can’t call it a tax now.”

SCOTUS’ response was “Nuh uh isn’t a valid argument. And it doesn’t matter what it’s called. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

SCOTUS envisions that the way this will work is that there will be a line on your income tax form that says something like “Provide proof of health care insurance”, and if you don’t, then the next line will be “Otherwise, pay $XXXX”.

While SCOTUS doesn’t say this directly—at least that I’ve seen so far—this is similar to the child care credit. If you provide proof of child care, you get a tax credit for it. Yes, the health care provision works in the opposite direction, in that it’s a penalty, not a credit. But it could have easily been written the other way, to match the child care scenario. Of course the reason it wasn’t is then it would be impossible to argue that it’s not a new tax, which was one of President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) original statements.

The court makes a good point here, and one that it’s really hard to argue against. And maybe the reason the states didn’t prepare a proper defense against this argument isn’t that the didn’t take it seriously, but that there isn’t one.

Still, regardless of what you think of this argument, there’s no doubt that today’s decision is a loss for defenders of personal liberty and freedom in the United States, and a victory for the socialist movement. We must now pin our hopes upon repeal. That won’t be easy, either though. The stamp of approval by SCOTUS will sap quite a bit of the political will for repeal on Capitol Hill. It’s time for the Tea Party to truly show it’s strength, or to quit and admit that the American experiment is a failure.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

P90X Day 61: Legs & Back

Yes, I know. Yesterday I said today would be Kenpo X. For some reason I was thinking today was Thursday. Tomorrow will be Kenpo.

This workout is just painful. There's no other way to describe it. I think I mentioned last time that I've come to truly hate the pull ups. Every time a pull up set comes, I look at my worksheet to see how many I did last time. These days that's usually followed by shock and anguish. "I did HOW many? I have to do that many AGAIN?" But I do. In fact, except for being completely out of breath at the end of each one, they're really worse in my mind than in reality. For reverse grip chin-ups, I can now whip out 7 or 8 without even taking a break or slowing down. I think I did 17 of them in one set today.

Despite the improvement, I'll definitely be glad when I can start a new round of P90X and set a new baseline for all my pull up numbers. Yes, I'll use my previous ones as a guide, but I may not force myself to better my current numbers the very first week. I want to focus more on form this next time around "quality over quantity". In the beginning of this round of P90X my form was awful on quite a few of the exercises. It's better now on most, but not always perfect, particularly on the last few reps. I'm going to concentrate on better form next time and maybe sacrifice a couple reps for it if necessary.

Since this was a strength training day, of course it ended with the 16 minutes of Hell known more formally as Ab Ripper X. I've complained that in some ways P90X is too short. You only do Chest & Back 5 times for example. But Ab Ripper X appears on the schedule 30 times. And, I think you do Yoga X 16 times. Yoga X contains Yoga Belly 7, which you can think of as Ab Ripper Yoga X. So, in the 90 days, you work your Abs 46 times. That doesn't include the 6 days of Core Synergistics, btw.

Anyway, the point of all of that in the last paragraph, is that you definitely do ab stuff enough to see and feel improvement. I may not have a six pack, but my belly is rock solid. And I'm doing more sit ups in a given week than I can recall doing at any time in my life. Still, I'm happy knowing that I only have to do Ab Ripper X 9 more times this cycle.

Tomorrow, Kenpo X. This time I really mean it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

P90X Day 60: Yoga X

Day 60. Two thirds of the way home.

A miracle occurred today. During the two-legged hamstring stretch (you sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you and stretch your hands forward), I touched my toes. Yes, it was brief, and there’s no way I’m even close to being able to hold my toes on that, but I did actually touch them. I probably haven’t been able to do that since I was in college.

So, even on yoga, I am making slow, steady progress forward.

Not much else to report today. For some reason I was absolutely dismal at the Tree pose. Matter of fact, it was quite possibly the worst I’ve ever done at that pose, and I’ve been doing it for six months now. Oddly, I didn’t have the same kinds of problems with the other balance poses. In fact, my Royal Dancer was probably the best one I’ve ever done. And Tree is the easiest of the three. It was very strange.

Not sure why I had so much trouble. I really pushed myself at the end of the movement segment, trying to get my Half Moon and Twisting Half Moon to look somewhat right. The Tree is the first thing after that. I may have just been tired.

Tomorrow, good old Kenpo X. And Friday is X Stretch, but I may slip in an extra Cardio X on Friday as well. I’m going out to eat with my wife, and I’d like to have a few extra calories to spare.

Polling the President—June 2012

It’s that time again. Time for my monthly look at President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) polling figures.

As always, I’ll start with the RealClearPolitics averages. Today, his approval/disapproval number stands at 48.3/47.5. Last month, he was +0.6, today he’s +0.8. That counts as statistical noise, but does include a rather bizarre +9 poll from Bloomberg. Exclude that poll, and it’s a bit of a dip from last month. We’ll see where things stand next month. This is almost exactly where he stood one year ago. But one year ago was the start of a summer swoon for the President. Two years ago the same happened. A third summer of discontent will send the campaign into a panic.

Right Track/Wrong Track contains considerably less good news for the President. Last month the spread was –24.7. Today, the numbers are 31.3/61.5, which is a –30.2 spread. We’re approaching 2:1 on people thinking we’re headed the wrong direction. Those are dismal numbers for a President seeking re-election.

Next, I move on to the Consumer Confidence Index from The Conference Board. Consumer confidence continues to fall. It dropped from 64.4 in May to 62.0 in June. Again, as I keep saying, the only good news here is that these numbers are better than the mid 40 numbers we were seeing last summer. But we’re headed in that direction again. So far there’s little reason to suspect that the July numbers will be any better than June, but they may not be much worse either. Next Friday’s BLS report may give us the biggest indicator as to where consumer confidence will be headed.

Now, on to General Election numbers. The polling average for former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) vs. President Barack Obama (D-USA) are as follows: Obama 46.8, Romney 44.2. Both numbers are higher than last month, and the spread for Obama has increased from 2.0 to 2.6. This is one area where things have gotten a bit better for Obama. And this is the most important average of the bunch. However, this includes a +13 Bloomberg poll. Excluding the Bloomberg poll yields an average spread of 1.3, down pretty markedly from last month. If Bloomberg releases another poll like this next month that is such a significant outlier, I will exclude it from my numbers. For now, though, it stays in.

In addition, the daily tracking polls are looking bad for the President. Romney has led in Rasmussen’s poll for the last 18 straight days. In Gallup, Romney has only trailed one day out of the last 12. You’d have to be an incredible optimist to think this qualifies as good news for the President.

While I personally think that in the end, things will go Romney’s way, the polling hasn’t shifted in his direction as much as I’d expected. But June definitely shows a shift in Romney’s favor. I have been pointing out for several months that the polling numbers were a mixed bag for the President. That is not true this month. The only one that’s not bad news is the General Election average. And the only reason it’s not bad news is the Bloomberg outlier.

Just last month, I said that based upon current polls, I’d give Obama a slight edge in November. That’s been true for several months. I’m officially shifting that to “toss up” as of now. July may be the turning point in the campaign. Either Romney’s momentum fades, or he capitalizes on it, and starts to look like a favorite. A July fade for either campaign will stack the odds heavily against them.

Starting next month, I’ll include some head-to-head numbers in battleground states. Right now, these are the only bright spots for Obama. But just like everywhere else, the trend is in the wrong direction. I will likely do two updates each in July and August, then go to weekly ones starting in September.

Monday, June 25, 2012

P90X Day 59: Shoulders & Arms

Another workout that I haven’t done since week 3. If you recall (and you probably don’t since I haven’t mentioned it in 6 weeks), I had trouble finding the proper weights for most of the exercises in this workout. In fact, I think after week 3 I was still searching.

Well, this week I finally found the correct weights for most of them. And, an amazing thing happened. I enjoyed this workout. First time. Sadly, I will only do it one more time before the end of P90X. Well, at least I’ll know for the next cycle.

Yoga X again tomorrow. I’m going to twist my body into a position and get stuck there permanently before this thing ends, I just know it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

P90X Day 58: Plyometrics

Jump, squat. Jump, squat. Hop. Spin. Hop. Spin. Hop. Hop. Hop.

Now repeat for the next 45 minutes.

Ok, you’ve just done Plyometrics.

No other workout wears me out as much as this one. I feel like I need two showers afterwards, and that my clothes should just be burned. But, it is fun. And it’s fun seeing yourself get better at doing the workout as time goes by.

I still have my hands on my knees after about 15 minutes, but at least now I know that I’m going to make it through the whole way. There were days early one where I’d reach the half way point and think to myself “Oh my God. There’s still 30 minutes to go???” Not any more. I just happily plug along until there’s about 10-15 minutes left, and I’m amazed that it’s almost over.

Today did show me the importance of wearing the heart rate monitor though. There was one period about halfway through where I eased up just a little bit. And after the set, I knew I had, and needed to push it harder. But was amazed that my heart rate was about 15 bpm lower than it usually is at that point. I had eased up even more than I realized. Made me push myself more the rest of the way.

Tomorrow, Shoulders & Arms. Haven’t done this one since week 3 either.

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