Monday, January 31, 2011

The Perfect Exercise?

Since reading Tim Ferriss' new book over the Christmas holiday, I have been obsessed with kettle ball swings. After doing them somewhat consistently for about six weeks, I can say that I think they are pretty much the perfect exercise. If you want to try something difficult, do three or four sets of 20-25 with just a short break in between and let me know how that works for you. As you will note, they hit every muscle group except for the chest. The key though is good form; check out the link above or any one of the many videos that are on Youtube.

My weight routine which I do 2-3 times per week consists of: 1 minute of core (I rotate between any one of five or six exercises for core), followed by 20 pushups followed by the aforementioned 20-25 kettle swings. I usually take 10-20 seconds in between each of these sets and I repeat four or five times. It takes no longer than 30 minutes in total but man does it do the trick and I am going to need all the strength I can summon -both literally and figureatively -- to run 100 miles.....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering the Challenger

I will never forget where I was when the Challenger exploded, 25 years ago today. I was watching from the TV room in our fraternity house with my boy Scooter and others. Astonishing that it was 25 years ago; it seems like yesterday. That tragedy struck me hard and it's only appropriate that we remember them today. Embedded is the speech President Reagan gave that fateful day. Regardless of how you feel about the man, it's one of the greatest speeches of the modern era. If you haven't seen this, it's worth the four minutes.

RIP, Challenger crew.

Review: 11" MacBook Air

I wrote the below post for TechDork, but figured what the hell. May as well post here too, for those of you who travel and might be interested.

I have to say that of the literally dozens of computers I have owned throughout the years, by far, the MacBook Air 11" is the best. I know I am a bit of a fanboy, but my proclivity towards Mac products aside, I just love this thing.

Why? Four simple reasons:

1. It is beyond light. I travel a ton and can't articulate how easy it is to carry. It's so light, I often times take it with me on weekends to places I wouldn't ordinarily carry a laptop.
2. I love how it doesn't require boot time. This is huge. You open it and it starts, in the spirit of an iPad. And even when in hibernation mode, it has a long lasting battery life. This is really critical for me when I'm stuck in places like airports. I turn it on and can get immediately to work.
3. Few compromises. It's light, and the SSD is a bit on the small size, but beyond that it's more than fast enough for me to do everything I require on a day-to-day basis. It is NOT a netbook. Not even close. I also notice no lag whatsoever in terms of processing speed (which was a big issue for me with the original Air). Another critical enhancement was the addition of a second USB hub.
4. I guess this point is a corollary to the one above, but despite its small size, it has a full fledged keyboard. Again, though it is small, it doesn't feel that way, except for the screen.


Really, only one that I have been able to thus far discover. As noted above, the screen is a bit small. After a full day's use, I definitely feel some eye fatigue. But this is somewhat manageable by increasing the font size.


One important caveat: I don't think the 11" would at all serve as a primary computer. It doesn't have the heft for most iTunes library (I keep zero music on it), to do video editing, etc. I wouldn't even consider it for a primary - I have a 13" MacBook Pro at home that serves this purpose. It's really constructed to be an agile, easy to carry, absolutely killer secondary travel computer, and it serves this purpose very, very well at a relatively reasonable price point.

If you are a serious business traveller, it gets an unequivocal two thumbs up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some New Music

For all of you music lovers out there, I've been listening to some good stuff lately that I recommend, including: the new Destroyers (excellent and getting better with each successive listen), Cloud Nothings (particularly if you like a lo-fi sound), the new Cut Copy (80's dance beat - excellent)and the new Decemberists (typical Decemberists; a bit pretentious, but very listenable. There are also a few excellent new mixtapes; the new jj (which is free - and just fantastic), Rick Ross and Das Racist, which is highly entertaining.

Anyway, that's what is in my iPod. Now that I've started to ramp up my running again, I'm open to any and all recommendations.

Monday, January 24, 2011

More Beer

On the heels of yesterday's post, I got another shipment today from my beer club. This months California is represented via Mendocino Brewing Company, featuring their Red Tail Ale and Blue Heron Pale Ale. The other brewery is Stegmaier Brewing Company from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, which included their signature IPA and Winter Warmer.

Full reviews in a few days. Short of a hot Summer day or special occasion, as a rule of thumb I usually don't drink at all until Thursday night.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Fine Beer

Flashback India-style brown ale from Boulder Beer Company. An excellent beer if you can find it - found it through my beer of the month club.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon

Friday, January 21, 2011


Sorry for going dark all week; this just might have been the craziest work week I've had in years. Literally back to back to back 15 hour days. But - it's all good.

Anyway, moving on to football, I'm pretty darn stoked that my Jets beat the Patriots last week. Nothing better than a team from New York beating one from Boston. Except Michigan defeating Ohio State, but that's a story for another day.

Anyway, if the Jets can get by Pittsburgh on Sunday - a big "if" - I am giving very serious consideration to going to the Super Bowl. Think that would be a once in a lifetime type of experience.

So, let's hear predictions from the peanut galley; who's going to win this weekend's games and by what score? I will mail a special prize to the winner.......

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Race of the Year

So I did my first race of 2011 today here in LA - the LA half marathon. Generally speaking I was happy with my ti e - 1:38 - on this flat and fast course, especially as I trained through it hard this week and had virtually no taper. I was running fairly steady 7:20-7:25 pace until around mile 8, when the sun came out and the wheels came off a bit. But that was to be expected. I was mostly able to keep it together and all things considered I was pretty happy. With all my ultra running I forgot how much a half can hurt.

After the race I met up with my good friend Amy (who sometimes frequents these pages) and her fantastic family. Our kids became fast friends and it was an excellent afternoon that only got better when the Jets beat the Patriots.

At least one of my teams knows how to win.

Go Jets.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Greetings From LA

We are in LA for the long weekend where the weather is - 77 degrees. Man I love this town. We ate at Nate and Al's this morning which is a superb Jewish deli. It's also my wife's favorite restaurant in the world. On the way out we saw this car - a Bughatti Veyron. There's only a handful in the country and it costs nearly two million dollars. It's the fastest street legal car in the world and gorgeous beyond description. Not sure who it belongs to but rumor has it Simon Cowell owns one. Anyway. Tomorrow am I'm doing my first race of the year, the LA Half marathon. I'll write a report post race.

Posted via email from Howard Solomon

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Coach Hoke

As some of you probably know, Michigan hired a new football coach yesterday, Brady Hoke.

He's not the pick that many were expecting - and the process in terms of getting there has been at times messy - but I cannot help feeling good about it. Based on what I have read and what former players are saying, there's something about this guy that I just like. Not to mention, I implicitly trust our new athletic director; I think he's a very smart and methodical man.

I am feeling very optimistic that Hoke is going to be able to return our program to its former glory. And generally speaking, when it comes to Michigan football I am a doom and gloom kind of guy, so my feelings on this subject are a bit out of the ordinary (for me at least).

Regardless, he's our guy and if you are a Michigan fan or alumn, it's your obligation - for now - to support the man.

So, good luck and godspeed Coach Hoke. And Go Blue!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Two More Great Beers

Had both of these beers over the weekend and enjoyed them both greatly. I'd probably give the slight nod to the Old Rasputin but it is comparing apples to oranges. They are entirely different in every respect. If you have a chance check them out - and please let me know if you have any that you would recommend.

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Howard Solomon


So, if you get Showtime on cable, you must - absolutely must - check out the new series Shameless, staring William Macy. I hadn't heard of it before it aired, but I watched it on Sunday night with The Wife and we were both blown away. It's like nothing you have ever seen before on TV - it grabs you by the throat and does not let go for the entire hour. In a nutshell: it's the story of a single, deeply alcoholic father (Macy) and his six almost equally dysfunction children (though in a very strange way, they are oddly functional). I'm not sure if will be able to sustain the pace of its debut, but boy was that was highly entertaining TV. So much so that it stole the thunder of the show that preceded it, Californication, which is arguably my favorite show on TV.

Check it out if you can. It's a little too early to tell, but it actually might be worth subscribing to Showtime.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Recommendations?

I'm on a book reading tear. Since mid-December, I have read the new Tim Ferris book (reviewed below), the third installment of the Hunger Games series (more on that in a separate post), A Visit to the Goon Squad (recommended by my brother Neil and one of the best novels I have read in a long while) and am currently reading - and am almost finished with - Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (who's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors).

Ive been reading so much partially because I, well, love to read and partially because I am really digging the new Kindle 3 that I recently bought (for rationale behind this purchasing decision, check out Anyway, I want to continue with this little roll but need some new and interesting recommendations. Am open to fiction though I find myself more partial to non-fiction these days.

Anyway, let's hear it, y'all.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


During the holiday's I tried to watch a movie a day, mostly via On Demand or Apple TV. Might seem like a lot but I am playing big time catch up; haven't really seen a movie in ages. In no particular order I watched: The Town, True Grit, The Kids are Alright, The Other Guys and .. one other that I can't remember. Oh - Get me To the Greek, which actually was my second viewing of that one. The two I liked most were True Grit (which I saw with the Little Boy; his first PG-13 movie) and The Town, which was surprisingly good. Very good in fact.

Now that I am on a quasi-roll, there's several others I want to see too including The Kings Speech, Black Swan and The Fighter.

Any suggestions as to how to prioritize and anything else out there were seeing that I am missing?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Michigan Football

The current situation with the Michigan football program is making me absolutely mental. I'm borderline obsessed. Can't imagine what this is all doing to my brother Neil.

My position on the matter? I feel bad for coach RichRod and I wish him well, but the program needs a change. That was made clear in our astonishingly poor bowl performance on Saturday. We gave the spread offense a chance - three years to be precise -- but alas, it was not meant to be. Now we know and it's time to revert back to old school, smash mouth style Michigan football.

Only problem is I am not sure if our athletic director agrees, based on today's events. I thought he would have been cleanly fired RichRod today but apparently we have to wait until tomorrow.

My hope is that Dave Brandon, our AD, is using this extra day to negotiate with the only person many of us - myself included - believe can bring Michigan back to its former glory - Stanford Coach (and Michigan alum) Jim Harbaugh, although a lot of folks are saying that Harbaugh is destined for the NFL.

So, I guess we shall see and I suspect it will all unfold by the end of the week. My fingers are certainly crossed.......

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sense and Becoming Superhuman

I've been anticipating Tim Ferriss' new book, the 4-Hour Body, for several months now. He's a regular on the silicon Valley scene, I enjoyed his previous book and the subject matter was of real interest.

Long story short, Ferriss, who has chronicled his workouts for years, shares his findings on a variety of subjects, including weight gain, wight loss, strength gain, endurance running, improving testosterone count, improving sex and much more. At nearly 500+ pages, it covers a lot of ground.

As a relatively "seasoned" endurance athlete who also is an avid reader of endurance magazines, journals, etc - and not having a large body of work within the genre to choose from - I expected to be somewhat bemused but already knowledgeable about most of the subjects covered within the book.

But - Ferriss really exceeded my expectations. I read the entire book over 72 hours and suspect that at some point in time - probably sooner than later - I'll need to go back and re-read certain chapters. Of particular interest to me was the chapters on weight and strength gain (surprise, surprise) and I have already started to incorporate kettleballs into my workouts (and can already start to feel the results). The section on diet was interesting too and I'm giving consideration to radically reduce my gluten intake - something I've been considering well before I read this book.

The one area where I remain a skeptic was his chapter on ultra endurance, where he writes about gong from 5k to 50k in 12 weeks. He writes from the perspective of Cross Fit's approach to ultra running and I am ... well. skeptical. Interestingly, the race he talks most about is last year's Quad Dipsea, in which I was a participant. I saw the Cross FIt guys who he writes about all the way through, and while they definitely did finish the course, apparently on relatively low training volume (respect, regardless) they were very much holding up the rear. Not to take anything away from them - or their approach - but I just have to think that there might be a better and more efficient way.

But, I am nit picking. Overall, I think this book is well worth the value andit comes highly recommended. It absolutely has something for everyone and its main objective - to get folks back on track to leading a healthier life - is certainly a noble one that is deserving of support.