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Month: January 2013

Month of Letters 2013

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Remember A Month of Letters Challenge from last year?

Of course you do!

Well, February is nearly here again and that means more letters! I really enjoyed doing it last year so I thought I’d do it again this year. I wrote to a ton of you and even got some mail back. That’s awesome! Let’s all send mail (even though the USPS is on its last legs).

If you don’t remember from last year or are, for some unbelievable reason, NEW to The Black Laser, here’s a description of the challenge.

I have a simple challenge for you.

  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

All you are committing to is to mail 23 items. Why 23? There are four Sundays and one US holiday. In fact, you might send more than 23 items. You might develop a correspondence that extends beyond the month.

If you would like me to send you a letter, send your address to my personal e-mail (if you have it) or to joe@ this domain. If you’re feeling brave, stick it in the comments.

If you would like to send me a letter, great! You can send it to my home address in Brooklyn (if you have it) or to my office.

Joe Dillingham
No6
36 W 25th St Fl 15
New York, NY 10010

If you’re interested, you can see my public profile at lettermo.com here.

Awesome. Here’s to another successful month of letters.

Crossfit – Take 2, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Say “Fuck It”

In September 2011, I took a trip with my friend JJ to Spain, which you might have read about before. And, if you haven’t, there’s a handy dandy link in the previous sentence. Hyperlinked!

One night in Barcelona, JJ and I thought it would be an awesome idea (after a few bottles of retsina) to break into Parc Güell. We’d been there the day before, but it was full of tourists and hard to get a sense of what it was really like without the swarming masses of picture-takers. We also saw that the place was only protected by a 10 foot tall stone wall. No razor wire, no spikes, no nothing. So come 1am, JJ and I and our gracious host Iolanda, broke into the park. I had trouble pulling myself over the wall because of a serious lack of upper body strength, but we still managed to get in.

Over the next few days, JJ and I got to talking about fitness and he brought up Crossfit as a good, albeit intense, way to get into excellent shape. He had been training that way for a while and sang its praises. I got excited about it since I’d never really been into exercising before and it seemed like a good, directed way to get into shape. If it was left up to me to self-motivate and go to the gym to spend some time fucking around without any clear idea of what I should be doing, I would never ever work out. Case in point: I never ever worked out. But a class was something I could get into, and having someone there guiding you was even better. Plus, I wanted (and want) to get into good shape and impress this girl I was seeing. Besides, if your fitness goals are based on struggling while committing a crime, you’re probably on the right track.

Back in New York, I signed up for an intro class, nearly died doing it, signed up for the Elements course, finished that without dying, attended classes for a few weeks, but then got sad and drifted off. All the good intentions in the world weren’t going to get me out of bed in the morning to go work out. It was hard enough getting up at all; self-improvement was out the window. I spent a lot of time at the bar, though! That’s pretty cool, I guess.

Fast forward 12 months and a whole mess of life changes and I am back in the saddle. I took the Elements course again at the beginning of December to reacquaint myself with the exercises and ease into the regular (read: beginner) WODs. And I am still attending regularly. Hell, I’m even getting to the 8:30a classes on these miserable 15° January mornings which means getting up at 7:15, getting dressed in the half-light of dawn, leaving behind a nice warm body in bed, and getting on the god damned subway. Crossfit, do you understand what I sacrifice to be there on time?!

DO YOU!?

This time is different in that I feel like I am going to be successful in my goals. I think that deserves an examination. What exactly is different this time than it was a year ago when I stopped attending during the first attempt?

First, and most importantly, I feel a lot better about my life and the things going on in it. That is the biggest difference from last year. It’s a lot easier to take care of yourself, to make yourself incredibly uncomfortable for the purpose of bettering yourself, when you don’t feel like a worthless, miserable sack of shit all the time. Surprising, right? I know it is.

Second, I am allowing myself to be vain. Is it wrong that a big part of my motivation is wanting to look good when I get married? Nope. I don’t feel bad about that being a motivator for me in the slightest. I would like to do away with some fluff and add a significant amount of tone to my body before the date (which we do not yet know). Why not? I am stil trying to impress that girl. I want to do a billion pull-ups at the wedding.

Third, I’ve adopted an incredibly helpful “Fuck it, whatever,” attitude with the workouts. My gym, Crossfit NYC, posts the next day’s workout every day so you can get a sense of what to expect. While I understand that they are just trying to help people plan their training regimen, I found this information to be absolutely poisonous to my attendance. I would read what was planned for the next day and start worrying about it so much I would end up not going. “Oh no, 30 million push-ups?! I’ll die!” or “What the fuck is a ‘thruster’?” or “Burpees?! Fuck you.” It was a terrible way to approach Crossfit.

This time, I don’t even bother looking. I don’t want to know until I get there and it is too late to leave. There are enough things that get in the way of showing up (work, life, soreness) without psyching myself out about it. Now I just go when I can and think “fuck it, whatever the WOD is, I am going to do it. It might be miserable, it might be fine, but whatever it is, I am going to do it.” So much better. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, that attitude echoes a lot of what I’ve written here on The Black Laser about being a creative person. And it boils down to “shut the fuck up and do the work.”

Here’s what we’re looking at for the weather tomorrow morning when I am supposed to be getting up and going to work out.

That's in Fs, my Metric friends.

That’s in Fs, my Metric friends.

Am I worried about it? Yup! Sounds miserable.

Is it going to stop me from working out? Nope! So it’s going to be cold! Fuck it, whatever. See you guys on the other side.

Dying Fetus’ “Second Skin”

Because who doesn’t want to listen to Dying Fetus????

Crossfit – Beauty In Strength

Besides the fact that these ladies are all super cut, I think that this video has an incredibly positive message for not just women, but anyone who is trying to improve their health: work hard and focus on the things you have power over, and you will succeed.

I suppose the advice echoes the serenity prayer (without the God aspect) which every 12-stepper knows. The truth is, though, that it is good advice and a good way to look at life. And it applies to so many things. Want to write books? Want to kill a million dudes in Halo? Want to own a business? Want to deadlift twice your body weight? It doesn’t matter: work hard, control the things you can, and you will get there.

Do your ten thousand hours.

Do the work.

My brother is starting a whiskey company in Tennessee.

The arrow indicates the brother in question.

The arrow indicates the brother in question.

And the Tennessean has a profile on him and his business partner Sean’s efforts to get their company up and running.

A little clip from the article my dad forwarded to me.

Former Notre Dame quarterback Patrick Dillingham plans to join the growing legal Tennessee moonshine industry by launching the American Born Moonshine brand later this year through his Nashville-based Windy Hill Spirits.

The startup has raised $2.5 million of a planned $5 million fundraising round and has 18 investors, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

A California native, Dillingham, 29, was a walk-on quarterback for the Fighting Irish and played backup in the position during the 2002 season. He has since earned an MBA from Stanford.

Pretty sweet. I especially like that he’s decided to name it Windy Hill after a landmark in our home town. It seems like a stupid, generic name, but it holds some significance for our family on top of being a nod to where we grew up.

Patrick joins a strong group of booze producers on both our mother’s and father’s side of the family.

Best of luck, Patrick, and I want a bottle of the first batch. Well, two bottles: one to hold on to and another to drink.

Royal Thunder’s “Blue”

Atlanta’s Royal Thunder continue the trend of Sabbath-inspired modern hard rock bands fronted by a female singer. You would think that at this point I’d start to get tired of bands like this, but I’m just not. Royal Thunder’s 2012 release CVI is awesome.

Check these guys out if you’re in the mood for some stoney, down-tempo rock.

Fuck the Facts’ “Drift”

Because this shit is super awesome. Happy 2013, everybody!!