BJJ Practice 7/30/2012

Triangle day! Made it to the afternoon class during an extremely busy day just in the knick of time. It was a pretty advanced fundamentals class with a ton of blue belts in there, which is fun. We drilled two types of triangles, both of which I had some trouble with because my partner had huge shoulders, like myself. No matter, I figured out how to finish the choke by angling out away from the choke and it felt good once I started training with smaller guys with smaller torsos. The Triangle Choke is quite the challenge, but I really enjoy its little details.

Drills:

  • Push triangle (so many steps, but I’ll try to recount). Starting from closed mount, break opponent’s posture with your left hand by pulling on back of head, plant your left foot in their hip, trapping their right arm. With your right hand, grap opponent’s left wrist and push to check (hence the push Triangle) and pop your leg over the back of their neck and back. Keeping their right arm trapped, grab your own right shin or ankle and push off their hip, generating some space backwards, then turn angle right away from the choke and lock your right ankle underneath your left knee. If you’re trying to submit a big dude, keep angling until your legs feel right, then grab the back of their head and arch your hips for the tap.
  • Triangle from Spider Guard. A pretty complicated, advanced move, but it starts with spider guard, wich more or less includes getting some space between you and your opponent and controlling that space by digging your feet into the arms or chest of your opponent. Here you’d stick your right foot into the crook of their left elbow and hold your left foot and knee on and outside of their right arm. You kick your right foot out straight with your hip, flip your leg over their back and hook up on the back with your left leg, just like a regular triangle. Pretty slick.

Master Alvaro Barreto Drops Big Knowledge

“You must understand that Jiu Jitsu is really four things. One: it is a philosophy that can be summed up by the statement ‘give to win.’ For example, if you make strength with your arms, then you give a point of leverage for your opponent to use against you. If you stay loose, then you deprive your opponent of that so by appearing to be weak, you gain strength. Secondly, it is a system of teaching. It gives access to proper rules of human behavior, self respect, honor, discipline, courage, and so on. Third, it is a therapy. If a man is too aggressive, it will calm him. If he is too weak or passive? It will make him stronger. And finally it is a fighting system. Today in MMA people only concentrate on the last and ignore the first three. Jiu Jitsu is not an end. It is a tool for creating a better life. It is like my north.”
– Alvaro Barreto

BJJ Practice 7/27/2012

Back control like woah. Lots of the same back control tactics we’ve seen all week, although this time I made the noon class, which is probably my favorite class to go to. Coach Ian L. gets busy with the bow and arrow choke which is my favorite submission at the moment. He also taught us a modified grip to the back collar choke when you don’t have as deep a grip as you’d like.

I’m writing this post a couple days late, so I don’t recall all the drills in detail. I’ve taken yesterday and today off and I’m looking forward to getting back at it tomorrow afternoon or evening.

 

BJJ Practice 7/26/2012

I took my Wednesday off from jitz despite having nothing going on at night. My body and mind felt fatigued and I just wanted one night to kick it with nothing going on. I got to bed at a reasonable hour and woke my ass up at 6AM for Coach Ian’s class at 7AM and rocked the Caspar.

A long-time Easton BJJ student moves to England very soon and today was his last morning class so Coach had us only practice the departing student’s favorite move – the armbar. After getting really warmed up and practicing take-downs, I got to drill some handless armbars and then we did live training.

Drills: With opponent in full guard, do a crunch with your knees coming towards your chest, pulling the other person to you. Take your left foot and push off their hip and move your body to the right, simultaneously pushing your right leg under their armpit. Push the head away, pull the leg around and you’ve got an armbar. Love it!

I submitted one person this morning, although I don’t take much pride because I outweigh him by probably 100 lbs. Oh well. I got worked by everyone else for the most part, although I did maintain position okay and learned some leveraging tricks. Fun class today!

Staying Creative While Being Good At Life

I’ve written some things in the vacuum of blind optimism and hopelessness. That’s when I desire to write the most. However, how does one face life with a square realistic stance, continue to move forward and be inspired?

It’s not always one way or another, but too often, the sweet-spot evades me.

I desire obsession and blind passion sometimes.

Super Insulation and Super Innovation in Old Arlington, Mass. Home

Super Insulation and Super Innovation in Old Arlington, Mass. Home
By: James Ryan Moreau

Driving through the hills of Arlington, Massachusetts, one could get lost among the beautiful, expensive and old colonial and Victorian styled houses typical of the area. Densely packed on narrow streets, many of these giant houses date back over 100 years or more. While many have been renovated and updated to the point of being more than livable, there is always the open question of how energy efficient these classic homes can be made with modern technology. Condo-owner and engineer Alex Cheimets has set out to prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks by using super-insulation principals and some architectural creativity.

An engineer by trade, Cheimets has a long-standing knowledge of building principles and how heat and energy flow. Super-insulation seemed like a no-brainier to him when he first heard of it being applied to homes and he knew that he’d like to see how much insulation and energy savings could be applied to his primary residence in Arlington. The technology in application proved to be a bit more complex and involved than anyone had expected, but Mr. Cheimets was quite motivated, probably due in-part to a harsher than usual New England Winter.

The super-insulation project is unique in several ways, one of the most profound being the manner with which Mr. Cheimets and his condo association funded the project. Through many phone calls and creative problem solving, Mr. Cheimets was able to have sponsors fund a large percentage of his super-insulation costs through both labor and materials discounts as well as overall state and federal level energy efficiency standards assistance.

The main points of super-insulating the house were to improve the barriers between the inside and outside which let heat out and allowed cold air to be drafted in. Several inches of foam insulation were layered outside of the home on top of which a newer, wood-like synthetic siding was installed. Lighter colored shingles were put on the roof to reflect sunlight better and prevent snow-melts. There was also a modified ventilation layout in the attic near the roof which improved air circulation for air quality and health safety reasons. The attic and basement were sprayed with another type of foam insulation to keep heat in the units rather than in the bottom or top of the structure. To top off the project with an aesthetic touch and crucial aspect to any heat savings plan, brand new windows supplied by Pella were installed throughout the house, with

Much of the work was done throughout the colder months of 2008 and 2009, but the over-arching goal of figuring how well the households heat was the defining moment. Unofficial tests conclude that the house is 60%-65% tighter than before the original work was started, which is relatively impressive, but not quite as efficient as Cheimets and some of the participants had hoped for. However, considering the age of this house and many houses in the area like it, the Massachusetts Super Insulation Project has proven that it is not beyond reason or practicality to improve the energy efficiency of pre-existing structures, both residential and commercial.

For more information on Alex Cheimets, his sponsors and the day-to-day details of the Super Insulation project please visit the blog at http://superinsulating.blogspot.com.

Co-Working for the Masses

Co-Working for the Masses
What is a business idea that could spread so rapidly in this fading and transitioning economy? Co-Working! Co-working is an idea that is attractive in virtually any part of the world. The ingredients and ideas are simple. You take self-employed entrepreneurs and you take under-utilized commercial space. Bam. That’s it.

Sitting at you home office as a freelancer can be productive, but can also be lonely and stifling. The lack of human interaction really gets some people down. These people thrive off of other people’s ideas and motivation. They’re not looking to chat it up all day and be unproductive, they want to work among their peers and have the ability to collaborate if the opportunity arises.

There’s always the coffee shop that you could sit at too. Sometimes the atmosphere can be cool and the coffee is usually good (and expensive), but the crowd and vibes can change quickly. Meeting friends at a coffee shop for conversation is one thing, but bringing a client there unless they specifically ask for that type of setting? Hell no! Especially if there are little kids there.

Co-working is an outlet that is truly ideal for the independent professional who wants all of the benefits of a social setting without the drawback’s of a public space. It also provides a more-than-adequate work space with full internet connectivity and basic office supplies and amenities.

Another benefit: COST! The shared cost of renting an existing, under-utilized space is the ability to share the cost with a group of people. This leads to far lower overhead than anyone could ever manage to find in renting their own space. Plus you’re given a set, professional atmosphere to bring clients, rather than having to scramble to make sure your home is clean or grabbing a corner at the local coffee house.

The catch? Well, I suppose co-working lacks a corporate culture, a strict dress code and doesn’t encourage being punctual, but most self-employed people, in some ways, chose to become entrepreneurs to get away from all of that anyways. The next generation of entrepreneurs will not be suited unless absolutely necessary and will not be bound by a-typical office jobs due to projected responsibility or guilt.
Whether you live in a large city like Chicago or New York, an outlying suburban area or even a rural town, there is a good chance that freelancers and entrepreneurs exist and are looking for a solution to their workspace issues just like you are. You’re building community and building your business at the same time.

A Good Wind Blows Through Worcester

“A Good Wind Blows Through Worcester” ~ By James R. Moreau

“In addition to the economic benefits that wind power affords, the installation of this wind turbine is an opportunity to implement our responsibility to be a good steward of the earth.”

– Holy Name High School President, Mary E. Riordan

Driving North on Route 146 into Worcester an unusual site has residents talking about the one of the city’s newest renewable energy developments located on the property of Holy Name High School. The 242 foot tall, 600-kilowatt wind turbine is visible for miles from many parts of the city.

Currently operational, the wind turbine is expected to provide most of Holy Name’s electric power year-round, making Holy Name one of the most energy neutral schools in the world. During the winter, some electricity may be purchased off of the grid, but during the summer the school is expected to sell electricity back to the grid. Tax credits will also be sold to individuals and organizations whose contributions have helped fund the project. The massive wind turbine on a hill serves as a beacon for the Central Massachusetts region attempting to make a turn towards the new, sustainable economy that other parts of the country have already begun embracing.

The President of Holy Name High School, Mary Riordan, was faced with a problem many Americans are familiar with; the rising cost of fuel and energy. Crude oil and gasoline prices have forced many to drive less and will probably force those who use oil to heat their homes to keep a cooler house during the winter. Even electricity costs are bound to continue to rise due to the inefficient coal fired power plants producing much of the country’s energy. The financial squeeze is officially on and there is a wave of innovators in the United States as well as around the world who are thinking up ways to confront the conundrum of fueling our lives with non-renewable, dirty, carbon-based chemicals.
Natural resources and enthusiasm are good starting points for a solid renewable energy economy to take foot, but with the high initial cost of establishing and growing a business, strong public awareness and policy are necessary to fund good ideas.

Each state, including Massachusetts has a particular geographic or social asset that can be exploited with renewable energy. People associate places like California and Arizona with a lot of sun and heat, but Massachusetts is currently having a wave of solar manufacturers and installers set up shop and open themselves up to the Northeast energy market. There are also certain parts of Massachusetts, as well as most other East Coast states that have a great proximity to wind patterns that are perfect for wind turbine electricity generation, such as hilly Worcester.

The proliferation of windmills in Denmark and solar cells in California are examples of proven policy and business models that have inspired communities around the world to explore their own suitability for renewable power. Worcester’s main apparent strength lies in its location within a relatively windy and hilly geographic area. Additionally, Worcester has 11 colleges and universities within its county limits – a concentration of academic resources in the Northeast region is second only to Boston.

Mary Riordan’s vision of erecting a wind turbine would not have been as easy without the students of WPI helping to assess the project’s feasibility. Additionally, the $575,000 in grants that were secured from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative was only a fraction of the total cost. The rest of the money was donated or loaned at low interest by the local municipality, individuals or non-profits supporting Holy Name.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has made way for tax incentives to be offered to more renewable energy companies than ever before. Residential tax incentives have also been extended to homeowners who wish to use solar or wind power in whichever ways they can. These sorts of tax programs that encourage economic development in the green sectors help everybody in the long run. Businesses such as Borrego Solar, originally operating out of California have come to the east coast to set up shop and opened their first regional office in Chelmsford.

These business opportunities are also leading to exciting job training and educational opportunities. The massive shift in infrastructures and skill base will need to be met with a whole new force of “green collar” workers. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is currently working with vocational high schools and community colleges across the state to develop and support green technology and renewable energy curriculum.

A decade ago, few Worcester residents would have imagined a wind turbine being erected on one of its high schools campuses to lower energy costs in a clean and efficient way. Now with business and individual interest peaking, legislators must get to work to make way for a renewable energy economy. Marybeth Campbell, the Public Education Coordinator at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative believes there are a lot of exciting instances of renewable technology happening in Massachusetts but also stressed, “policy plays a major role in attracting renewable companies to Massachusetts.”

The Rise of Carbon Neutral Cities

The Rise of Carbon Neutral Cities
By James Moreau & Seth Itzkan

A sustainable future is not something that can only be enjoyed by certain segments of society or by certain parts of the planet. Many “green” innovations have been displayed in beautifully crafted, yet very expensive homes and buildings. The real, holistic purpose of living sustainably is so that everyone can live cleaner, healthier lives and leave the Earth less of a mess for future generations to clean up.

How does a world like this come to fruition? It certainly doesn’t happen over night. Most of the world’s big cities were developed large in scale and breadth as we know them after the industrial revolution. Over the course of time, cities and towns have grown in order to accommodate huge populations and the demands that come with them. Urban sprawl and suburbia seems to be a poor idea in hind-sight, but certain socioeconomic forces have shaped the urban, sub-urban and rural landscapes we live in today. Facing those forces with a new, sustainable mentality is what will help us to build greener, healthier living spaces.

What makes a sustainable region? Reducing the collective carbon footprint of a city or town is done in multiple ways. Changing the way a city is laid out or planned can dramatically alter the dynamic of foot traffic as well as the number of internal combustion vehicles used throughout. Changing standards and regulations towards requiring a high level of energy efficiency in all new construction projects is also a way to greatly reduce an areascarbon footprint.

With so many buildings, homes and structures already existing which were built long before efficiency standards were considered, there is the question of whether it is better to retro-fit or to build anew. While both ideas have their benefits, some governments are looking to model future cities after state of the art eco-colonies.

Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi is slated to be the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste city. Within this walled city, no cars will be allowed and all of the energy used will be in the form of electricity generated by renewable resources such as photovoltaic panels and wind turbines. The goal for Masdar City is to create as much energy as it uses. Current goal is to produce a 130 megawatts through a photovoltaic network and 20 megawatts with wind farms. In all, Masdar City will be host to about 45,000 residents with 60,500 people commuting there daily.

There are also examples of existing cities and towns that are called “transition towns.” The use of the word “transition” signifies a conscious, active and collective move towards building a more sustainable community. This approach has varying aspects to it, including raising awareness of carbonand environmental issues, connecting with local governments and having community defined goals, projects and timelines which would ultimately seek to achieve a carbon neutral city, town or region.

Transition towns are varied in size and culture, with some examples in the United States being Montpelier, Vermont, Boulder, Colorado and Portland, Maine. The Obama-Biden platform was notably pro- environment and many Americans are looking forward to an Obama Administration push towards sustainable economic development. A large part of the platform is a commitment to highly efficient Federal buildings and more stringent standards for all new construction projects. New building efficiency will be 50% more efficient and retro-fitted existing structures will aim to be 25% more efficient. These ambitious, large scale projects are going to require a well trained and motivated workforce, which will hopefully signal a new reassurance of new, green-collar jobs in the near future.

Speaking of his proposed Environmental Agenda, President Obama said, “We cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now”.  Speaking to policy specifics, he said, “It will lay down three thousandmiles of transmission lines to every corner of our country. It will save taxpayers $2 billion dollars a year by making 75% of Federal buildings more efficient and it will save American families hundred of dollars by weatherizing 2 million homes.”

A city of any size uses massive amounts of power; that this may someday soon be achieved without any carbon output is remarkable. Policies put fourth by the Obama administration promoting the greening of the built environment are a step in that direction and may provide useful incentives for The Merrimack Valley.

About the author: James Moreau writes on energy and the environment.  Please contact him at james.r.moreau@gmail.com.

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Pullout quote: “Masdar City will be carbon-neutral.  It will produce 130 megawatts through a photovoltaic network and 20 megawatts with wind farms”.

BJJ Practice 7/24/2012

Soft Clap for myself. I got up at 6:30AM and made it to the 7:00 AM morning fundamentals class with Coach Ian. It sucks getting up, but I felt great once I got there and started moving around. Been having some stomach problems the last few days so that slowed me down a little, but after the 15 minute warm-up (that Coach Ian is notorious for) I felt loose.

Drills:

  • Wrestling takedown step-ins. Something I’m not used to at all.
  • Rear naked choke.
  • Back collar choke.
  • Back armbar.

Honestly, I didn’t get to work on much technique today because we were drilling with a bit of resistance most of the time after going over the moves, but I guess that’s how I’ll get better in combination with knowing the technique like the back of my hand. I really need and want to drill more. Got to try to get to class earlier and pair up with someone for some drilling.