Saturday, April 26, 2008

Colorgenics Test - What do you think?

I usually avoid online personality tests like the plague, because I find it hard to fathom how an in-depth personality profile could possibly be generated, after a few cursory questions. But this post on Wilson's blog caught my interest for some reason (probably since he mentioned that it seemed to be uncannily accurate), and for want of anything better to do, I decided to try it out myself.

It's called the Colorgenics test, and a brief synopsis of how it works can be found on the GoldinUniverse site.
How it works:
The Colorgenics program is made up of eight standard colors - you simply select these colors in your preferred order.The number of ways in which these eight colors can be ordered is vast, and it is in the analysis of these permutations - and specifically the one personal order that you choose - that the power of the Colorgenics program becomes apparent.
Sounds a bit sketchy, right? Anyway, I went ahead and tried it out. Here are my results:

You have exaggerated demands on life but you are cautious enough to try to hide these beliefs from the outside world. You are covert enough to try to impress other people around you with your achievements and at the same time able to put on an act of pretending to be 'humble' - being the same as everyone else. It would appear, however, that whatever you are doing seems to be working out O.K.

You are in need of rest, some peace and quiet. You feel the need to be close to that someone special, that someone who can give you that special consideration and unquestioning affection that you seek. If you don't find that 'special someone' and resolve your problems very soon, you are liable to become extremely introverted and cut yourself off from society.

You feel that you should be appreciated far more than you are but no-one seems to care! You feel that you are receiving less than your share and the main problem is that there is no-one to whom you can turn to for sympathy and understanding. The inner stress that you are experiencing makes you quick to take offence but you realise that at this particular moment in time there is little that you can do to relieve the situation.

You pretend that you are a carefree individual and that nothing really bothers you - that you are so self-sufficient that whatever problems beset you they simply flow off you as water flows off a ducks back. You are experiencing considerable stress, trying to conceal yourself from the rest of the world. In actual fact - deep down, you are not at all happy. You feel lonely and you need someone with whom you can 'Let your hair down' and share your hopes, dreams and high standards. You are imposing unnecessary self restraint on yourself. You would like to demonstrate the unique quality of your character to all and sundry.

You are moody and depressed at this time but it will pass. All of your hopes and dreams seem to have gone astray and you are fearful of planning further for the future. Disappointment at the non fulfilment of your hopes and the fear that to formulate fresh goals will only lead to further setbacks have resulted in considerable anxiety and you try to escape from this by withdrawing into yourself. But that is not the answer. You have the power to succeed, believe in yourself... all is possible to him who believes.


Well, I might have to reconsider my impression of such personality tests! I'd say this is 80 per cent accurate at this point in time. In particular, the second, fourth, and fifth paragraphs really resonate with everything that's happened. Scary! If you're free, try it (it only takes about thirty seconds to perform the color arrangement test) for yourself!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Review: Rogue Rings (Rogue Fitness)

Note: I posted this on my training blog but I thought I'd also cross-post it here since the search term "CrossFit" seems to be one of the top terms linking to this blog.

Rogue Rings

So here's the review of the Rogue Rings (USD $72.00) which I ordered from Rogue Fitness some time ago. For those of you who might prefer a brief overview of the product, the rings were of very impressive quality, finely crafted, a cinch to set up, and looked to be extremely durable. Not to mention, they're highly aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Black powder-coated steel rings hanging from black straps emblazoned with the red and white Rogue Fitness logo set against a gray background do indeed make for a pretty aggressive setup. I highly recommend them to anyone who's looking to purchase their first set of rings. Click on the accompanying images to enlarge them.

Order Process/Customer Service/Shipping:
I placed my order through the Rogue Fitness website (linked above). The order process was smooth and painless, and it was easy to navigate the website. I also signed up for a customer account with Rogue Fitness since it was my first time placing an order with the company. As was typical of online orders, I made my payment using my credit card information on a secure portal.

The Rogue Rings were shipped via UPS ground service from Ohio, to my place in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I received my rings almost two weeks after I'd placed my order. I initially thought that I'd receive them earlier, as my expectations were based on how most of the equipment I've ordered online from other athletic companies have generally reached my doorstep in less than a week or so. I received an email from Rogue a couple of days after I'd placed my order, informing me that the next batch of Rogue Rings were to be shipped out altogether the following week.

If I'm not mistaken, I understand that these rings are carefully crafted and personally inspected, batch by batch, by the good people at Rogue Fitness and so I wouldn't hold the somewhat delayed processing time against them. I also received emails from Rogue Fitness regarding the status of my order as well as shipping information, which were definitely appreciated.

Texture and Grip:
The Rogue Rings are crafted out of black, heavy-gauge steel, with an aggressive texture. The powder coating allows for a secure grip on the rings, and holds chalk very well. Personally, I wound black athletic tape around the rings (but that was purely a personal preference - I have unbelievably sweaty palms and grip is a huge factor when it comes to equipment considerations), and that worked awesome too. That being said, it wouldn't have been a problem for me to use the rings straight up without the tape, just chalk.
Closeup of my taped rings

For those of you who are fortunate enough not to be afflicted by excessively sweaty paws, I believe the texture of the rings is aggressive enough for you to maintain a strong grip, even in the absence of chalk. In my opinion, the rings are not too textured to the point of being abrasive, which is good particularly if you don't want to rip the skin off your wrists when performing muscle-ups using the false grip.

Design and Specifications:
The rings are sturdily constructed, with no discernible welding seams. If I'm not mistaken, each ring is made from a single piece of metal and machined down to exact specifications, which explains the lack of seams. The circumference of the rings forms a perfect circle, and the thickness of the rings will accommodate any trainee's grip. I didn't perform exact measurements but I estimate the thickness of the rings to fall somewhere between 1" and 1.5", which makes for a comfortable, secure grip.

As mentioned earlier, the rings are constructed out of steel. This makes them somewhat heavier (2 lbs per ring), but you can rest in the secure (ha ha, pun!) knowledge that they will be able to tolerate great amounts of stress.

As perhaps the best testimony to the strength of the mounting straps that come with the rings, Bill Henninger, the owner of Rogue Fitness, actually used a Rogue Ring strap to drag one of his client's vehicles which was stuck after heavy snowfall. You can see the video here. Attaching the strap between the vehicles, he pulled his client's car about 600 m without the strap giving out. If that doesn't tell you enough about the strength and durability of the mounting straps, I don't know what will.
Closeup of the buckle and strap on the Rogue Rings

The straps (1.5 inches in width) are fashioned out of a strong, relatively stiff material that isn't too harsh on the arms either. Most people new to rings will naturally lean on the straps for support when performing exercises like dips, and these straps don't dig into your skin. Granted, a little redness is to be expected where the straps come into contact with your arms, but nothing abrasive, thanks to the smoothness of the straps. The ends of the straps are cut to a point and tapered for easy insertion into the buckles. The buckles are made out of steel and the catch on the buckle can be depressed enough to allow for easy insertion of the straps. The mouth of the buckle is knurled (presumably to allow for friction and stability once the catch is closed). I was extremely pleased with how easy it was to insert the straps into the buckle, as that was one of my fundamental considerations when it came to purchasing a pair of rings.

Numerous experiences with rings of other brands that featured flimsy, frayed straps and buckles that would hardly yield to pressure had left me with a certain aversion to mounting rings. The frustration that comes with trying unsuccessfully to mount rings at 6:00 am in the morning is hardly welcome. I remember taking up to ten minutes to mount one ring, and then needing another ten to set up the other. Hardly an efficacious use of time, considering I could probably have completed the workout in the time it had taken to set the rings up.

I had no such problem with the Rogue Rings (which even comes with an instruction sheet for the handiness-impaired) - I threw the straps over the mounting point (which can be a pullup bar, a tree branch, almost anything at all that you deem strong and stable enough to hold your weight - since if anything gives out it'll be the mounting structure, not the rings) - ran the tapered ends of the straps through the rings, ran them through the buckle, and completed the setup in around one to two minutes. There is a velcro loop attached near the buckle in the event you want to roll up the excess strap length to prevent it from getting in the way. Although I didn't make use of the velcro attachments, it definitely is a nice option to have.

Training/General Observations:
I tried out my rings by performing dips, pushups, muscle-up progressions, skin-the-cats and other gymnastic moves, and they held my weight superbly without budging. The Rogue Rings arrived in a 5x10x10 box - a compact tool, easy to transport around and bring to playgrounds or fitness corners where you can pretty much construct an entire workout around them. Throw a jump rope, a kettlebell, and a power wheel in the back of your car together with the rings, and you have unlimited workout options at your disposal.
Rings on a ring set!

The rings alone are sufficient to keep you occupied for hours as it's amazing how much they can add to your workout regimen. The added element of instability that comes from using the rings adds valuable difficulty to any workout - for instance, performing ring dips and pushups instead of regular dips and pushups enables you to fully engage your stabilizer muscles and strengthen your midline. Ring rows are also an excellent progression for those who are working towards unassisted pullups. Not to mention the plethora of gymnastic moves - front and back levers, L-sits, planches, (and the king of all - the iron cross) that you can attempt or work towards by using a set of rings.

Other Considerations:
The only conceivable drawback as to the Rogue Rings which I can think of now is that the steel rings will be very cold in winter, which might have an adverse effect on grip. Of course, you can easily solve that problem by storing your rings indoors in an insulated environment, instead of outside or in an uninsulated garage. Also, the Rogue Rings are slightly heavier than the Elite Rings and the Xtreme Rings (the other two options for rings in the market), which might have a slight effect on portability, but the durability of the Rogue Rings is uncompromised and CrossFitters typically enjoy carrying around heavy things anyway, so I don't think that'll be much of a factor. It remains to be seen if the quality of the buckle and straps remain strong over time for easy ring setup to take place.

All in all, I find the Rogue Rings at USD $72.00 to be a worthwhile investment for any CrossFitter who is serious about acquiring valuable skills that can only be honed with ring practice. As an aside, Rogue Fitness is fast establishing itself as a major player in the CrossFit equipment market, recently releasing its own line of Do-Win weightlifting shoes, coming up with a reasonably-priced Olympic bar for barbell movements, and also home to a host of package options for CrossFitters looking for good equipment deals.

In my opinion, these rings get a solid 9 out of 10.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The last thing you said before you walked out of my life...

"There's such a thing as loving too much."
I guess I just didn't know any other way to love you.

Closed off from love
I didn't need the pain
Once or twice was enough
And it was all in vain

Time starts to pass
Before you know it you're frozen

But something happened
For the very first time with you
My heart melted into the ground
Found something true
And everyone's looking round
Thinking I'm going crazy

But I don't care what they say
I'm in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don't know the truth
My heart's crippled by the vein
That I keep on closing
You cut me open and I

Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open

Trying hard not to hear
But they talk so loud
Their piercing sounds fill my ears
Try to fill me with doubt
Yet I know that the goal
Is to keep me from falling

But nothing's greater
Than the rush that comes with your embrace
And in this world of loneliness
I see your face
Yet everyone around me
Thinks that I'm going crazy, maybe, maybe

But I don't care what they say
I'm in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don't know the truth
My heart's crippled by the vein
That I keep on closing
You cut me open and I

Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open

And it's draining all of me

Oh, they find it hard to believe
I'll be wearing these scars
For everyone to see

I don't care what they say
I'm in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don't know the truth
My heart's crippled by the vein
That I keep on closing
You cut me open and I

Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love

Leona Lewis - Keep Bleeding

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

sugar how'd you get so fly?

Something deep inside tells me that I'd really like to get to know you better.

You got me lifted, shifted higher than the ceiling
And ooohh whee, it’s the ultimate feeling
You got me lifted, feelin so gifted
Sugar how’d you get so fly?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

almost done

Brought my Rogue rings to a playground at one of the elementary schools in Ann Arbor, tossed the straps over (ironically enough) a mounted ring set, and worked on some ring skills this morning. Rings are humbling! I'll post more when I have some time...

As of now, only my history final tomorrow stands between me and the end of my undergraduate career... but I still have four more chapters to study. Die.

Well, I’m not paralyzed
But I seem to be struck by you
I want to make you move
Because you’re standing still
If your body matches
What your eyes can do
You’ll probably move right through
Me on my way to you

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

不死之身 (林俊傑)

This is one of my favorite Mandarin songs - loosely translated to read "Eternal Life", by JJ Lin. It was released sometime back in 2006 and I hadn't heard it in a while, but all of a sudden I thought of it again, and found it on imeem. For the record, my wimpy diet of Mandarin songs primarily consists of Jay Chou's tunes and maybe some random ditties by other artistes like Elva Hsiao.

On another note, I offered to cook dinner for some close friends at one of their places just last Saturday. They're people I work out with and so we see a lot of one another, at 6:00 am in the morning no less (sometimes I think they've been doing a pretty credible job at pretending they're thrilled to see me each day, despite me being the harbinger of doom, ie. crazy workouts).

I don't think I'd laughed as much in a long time till that dinner on Saturday. I don't know what it was - probably the good company and the funny jokes, no doubt - but the talking at the dinner table sent me into guffaws and cracked me up till my sides hurt so bad from laughing. (Note: Laughing with a full belly is intensely uncomfortable). But it was cathartic in a sense, being able to laugh and enjoy myself with friends. It cut through the dull ache in my heart in a way that I didn't think anything else but time could possibly do.

A lot of the time I try to convince myself that I've moved on and left it all behind, but in doing so I'm really not fooling anyone but myself. Then again, I guess there really is no other option but to wait it out. It's not as though I'm sitting around feeling sorry for myself - there's a ton of stuff to be done and so many things that jostle for my attention. And I'm not looking for sympathy here. It's just the nights like that which get me thinking about you, and all of a sudden I wish you wouldn't have been as cruel as to leave me, just like that.

That's really all there is to it.


Sunlight abandoned this final second
Letting the world be enveloped by darkness
Punishing people for their pride
I'll endure the suffering of freezing cold
And the north wind's pretentious roar
I'll resist destiny

任何事物 任何一切
喔 親愛的別難過

This is an unavoidable catastrophe
No matter who you think you are
Every object, every single thing
Oh, darling, don't feel sad
As long as you hold tightly to my hand


不死之身 不死的溫柔

After the earth is destroyed
I'll still love you with a love that knows no bounds

I'll build you a new universe
Eternal life, undying tenderness


Bear the sorrow without turning back
But now, I feel as if your tears won't stop flowing
Only with love can we be remembered forever
Only with you can I find myself
Only with you can I find myself
Only with you can I find myself

Sunday, April 13, 2008

shades of gray

Hmm, interesting.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Yeah, Michigan!

Here's to another year in Ann Arbor!

"Those who stay will be champions."
- Bo Schembechler, legendary University of Michigan Football Coach from 1969-1989.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

thesis schmesis

I'd take another chance
Take a fall, take a shot for you
And I need you like a heart needs a beat
(But that's nothing new)

Looking at a year-and-a-half's worth of work in the form of a neatly-bound 132-page thesis, I can say it's been quite an experience. Especially the last week or so. On Sunday (the day before the thesis was due) I spent sixteen straight hours slogging away in the Angell Hall Computing Site, lovingly christened the Fishbowl (that's one of the biggest computing sites on campus, for the uninitiated). It was only then when I fully realized why it was nicknamed the Fishbowl - particularly true in the wee hours of the morning, because everyone pretty much has eyes that are glazed over from the lack of sleep, compounded by staring at a computer screen for hours on end. I emerged from the Fishbowl at 4:00 am finally with my four printed copies, went home, got into my car and drove to the FedEx Kinko's down on State to get the theses bound (24-hour Kinko's are the best thing ever).

I both love and loathe Microsoft Office Word 2007. It was pretty cool when I discovered that there was such a tool as an automatic content page generator, but not half as cool when the formatting kept screwing up when I tried to add my final heading for the reference list to the content sheet. I could correct it on Word itself, but whenever I tried to print or convert it to a PDF file, it'd automatically recorrect (or rewrong, given the circumstances) itself. It drove me nuts, and I finally gave up on amending it on the computer, resorting instead to a most primitive method to make the amendment. I won't elaborate on what I did, save to say that it was a most ingenious solution that involved a wad of chewed gum, a sheet on which the amendment I had wanted to include was printed, and a photocopier. Well, you couldn't tell the difference, in any case! :)

Anyway, so Sunday was only the second all-nighter I've pulled in my undergraduate college experience to date. The first was for a polsci paper almost exactly a year ago. I don't recommend it, but I think it's a staple part of many students' lives. I value my sleep too much to make this a habit!

Well, it's not over yet - my thesis defense is scheduled for next Tuesday. Exactly a week from today I'll have to stand in front of a panel and attempt to be an expert on politics in Singapore. Hopefully that goes well!