14 June, 2012

P90X Days 46-48

Yes, I’ve been really bad this week doing my updates.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is the last “real” week of Phase II. Saturday starts the “Recovery & Ab Focus” week. Actually, you could even include tomorrow in that since it’s “Rest or X Stretch”.

Day 46: Yoga X

Those last few minutes of the movement part still get me. Not sure if I’ll ever be able to do those well. The last few minutes of the second part is bad too. Tony calls it “Yoga Belly 7”. We don’t do Ab Ripper X on yoga days, but Yoga Belly 7 will make you feel like you did. It’s Ab Ripper, yoga style. Honestly, what gets me through it is that I know it’s the very end. And I count it out. It’s called Yoga Belly 7 because there are 7 exercises. And I will be going through it, and I’ll tell myself…”Ok, that’s two. Now three.” until the end. I do that now in Ab Ripper X as well. It’s 11 exercises, though, and you move so fast through it, that it’s easy to lose count.

Day 47: Legs & Back

This is just a brutal workout. The leg exercises are just downright painful. There’s no other way to put it. And when you’re not doing the leg stuff, it’s off to pull up world. I was telling a friend at work today, that I’ve grown to hate the pull ups with a passion. In fact, I hate them more now than I did 7 weeks ago. At least the first week, I have no baseline to go against. And when I can only do 2 or 3, or whatever, at least it’s over quickly. Now I’m getting up to a few on most of them. So I’ll look at my sheet from last week, and it’ll say “9”. Then I’ll wander over to the pull up bar, dread in my heart. I start the pull ups, and I whip out 2 or 3, maybe even 4, pretty quick. If I’m lucky I make it to 6 before I need a break. But whenever it is, I take that break, and then remember that last week I did 9. And there’s no way I’m going to do less than 9 this week. In fact, I try to always exceed last week by 1. I don’t always do it. But that’s my goal. I never do fewer than the last week. That means you really have to push yourself. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t pushed so hard in previous weeks. Then I wouldn’t have to push so hard this week to match or exceed it. That’s the thing about P90X. Most of the exercises don’t really get easier, even as you get better. You can always do more pull ups, or push ups, or use heavier weights, or get down lower in your squats, or jump higher, or farther, or reach farther in your stretches. In a lot of ways, P90X seems to actually get harder as you go through it. Isn’t that a comforting feeling? Smile

Oh, yeah, Ab Ripper X was yesterday too. Well, I don’t have to do it again for another week and a half. Yes, I’m going to miss it terribly.


Day 48: Kenpo X

More punching and kicking at air. I was tempted to not wear the heart rate monitor today. In fact, I planned on not wearing it. Early on, sometimes my heart rate was low because I just wasn’t doing an exercise right. But I pretty much know what I’m doing now, so that’s not an issue. I still worry about slacking off though, and just going through the motions. The monitor will let me know if I’m doing that. So, in the end, I put the thing on again.

Tomorrow, X Stretch, and then on to the Recovery week. If you recall from last time, I didn’t think Recovery week was all that easy. Guess we’ll see how I feel about it this time in a couple days.

Jobless Claims

Something has been bothering me for a while about the jobless claims reports, so I went back and checked the data. For once, I’m not going to opine. I’m just going to present the numbers, and let you draw your own conclusion. I report, you decide.

UPDATE 5/18/12: I found the last week that claims were not revised upwards. 6/19/11

Week Jobless Claims Headline Revision after 1 week
7/14/12 386,000 Weekly Claims Post Rebound; Jobs Market Still in Doldrums  
7/7/12 350,000 Weekly jobless claims drop sharply to lowest level in four years 352,000
6/30/12 374,000 New unemployment claims drop; key report projects stronger job growth 376,000
6/23/12 386,000 Jobless Claims in U.S. Hovered Last Week Near 2012 High 388,000
6/16/12 387,000 US jobless claims fall, but 4-wk avg at 6-month high 392,000
6/9/12 386,000 Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Rose Last Week 389,000
6/2/12 377,000 U.S. jobless claims fall by 12,000 380,000
5/26/12 383,000 Weekly unemployment claims rise modestly 389,000
5/19/12 370,000 U.S. weekly jobless claims dip slightly to 370,000 373,000
5/12/12 370,000 Jobless claims steady; Mid-Atlantic factories sag 372,000
5/5/12 367,000 Jobless claims fall marginally last week 370,000
4/28/12 365,000 Weekly Jobless Claims Ease; Productivity Drops 0.5% 368,000
4/21/12 388,000 Jobless Claims Fall 1K to 388K 392,000
4/14/12 386,000 Jobless claims –2K to 386K 389,000
4/7/12 380,000 Jobless claims unexpectedly rise 388,000
3/31/12 357,000 Jobless claims fall to lowest since 2008 367,000
3/24/12 359,000 US jobless claims fall to 4 year low in latest week 363,000
3/17/12 348,000 US jobless claims at 4 year low, lift recovery hopes 364,000
3/10/12 351,000 Jobless claims back at 4 year lows 353,000
3/3/12 362,000 US Jobless claims rise, but labor market healing 365,000
2/25/12 351,000 Jobless Claims fall by 2,000 to 351,000 354,000
2/18/12 351,000 Jobless claims hold steady at 4-year low 353,000
2/11/12 348,000 Jobs, factory data strengthen growth outlook 351,000
2/4/12 358,000 Jobless claims drop brightens labor market picture 361,000
1/28/12 367,000 Jobless claims fall, jobs market slowly healing 373,000
1/21/12 377,000 Jobless claims rise in latest week 379,000
1/14/12 352,000 US jobless claims near 4 year low 356,000
1/7/12 399,000 US jobless claims rise 402,000
12/31/11 372,000 Private hiring soars 375,000
12/24/11 381,000 -- 387,000
12/17/11 364,000   366,000
12/10/11 366,000   368,000
12/3/11 381,000   385,000
11/26/11 402,000   404,000
11/19/11 393,000   396,000
11/12/11 388,000   391,000
11/5/11 390,000   393,000
10/29/11 397,000   400,000
10/22/11 402,000   406,000
10/15/11 403,000   404,000
10/8/11 404,000   409,000
10/1/11 401,000   405,000
9/24/11 391,000   395,000
9/17/11 423,000   428,000
9/10/11 428,000   432,000
9/3/11 414,000   417,000
8/27/11 409,000   412,000
8/20/11 417,000   421,000
8/13/11 408,000   412,000
8/6/11 395,000   399,000
7/30/11 400,000   402,000
7/23/11 398,000   401,000
7/16/11 418,000   422,000
7/9/11 405,000   408,000
7/2/11 418,000   427,000
6/25/11 428,000   432,000
6/18/11 429,000   429,000


Getting too hard to find the articles this far back. But you get the point. Every single jobless claims report this year has been revised upwards the following week. And in just about every case, Reuters headline was either negated by the revision, or proven optimistic the very next week.

Here are the 4 week moving averages, as initially reported, and after revised.

Week Initially reported 4 week average After revision
7/14/12 375,500 --
7/7/12 376,500 377,000
6/30/12 385,750 386,250
6/23/12 386,750 387,250
6/16/12 386,250 387,500
6/9/12 382,000 382,750
6/2/12 377,750 378,500
5/26/12 374,500 376,000
5/19/12 370,000 370,750
5/12/12 375,000 375,500
5/5/12 379,000 379,750
4/28/12 383,500 384,250
4/21/12 383,000 384,000
4/14/12 376,000 376,750
4/7/12 368,500 370,500
3/31/12 359,250 361,750
3/24/12 360,250 361,250
3/17/12 355,000 359,000
3/10/12 355,750 356,250
3/3/12 355,000 355,750
2/25/12 354,000 354,750
2/18/12 359,000 359,750
2/11/12 365,250 366,000
2/4/12 367,750 368,500
1/28/12 376,000 377,500
1/21/12 377,500 378,000
1/14/12 379,000 380,000
1/7/12 381,750 382,500
12/31/11 373,250 374,000
12/24/11 375,000 376,000
12/17/11 380,250 380,750
12/10/11 387,750 388,250
12/3/11 393,000 394,000
11/26/11 395,500 396,000
11/19/11 394,250 395,000
11/12/11 396,750 397,500
11/5/11 400,000 400,750
10/29/11 404,000 404,750
10/22/11 405,000 406,000
10/15/11 403,000 403,250
10/8/11 408,000 409,250
10/1/11 414,000 415,000
9/24/11 417,000 418,000
9/17/11 421,000 422,250
9/10/11 419,500 420,500
9/3/11 414,750 415,500
8/27/11 410,250 411,000
8/20/11 407,500 408,500
8/13/11 402,500 403,500
8/6/11 405,000 406,000
7/30/11 407,750 408,250
7/23/11 413,750 414,500
7/16/11 421,250 422,250
7/9/11 423,250 424,000


The short? Jobless claims are lower than they were at the beginning of the year, but the rolling average has been trending the wrong way for the last several weeks. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that from the Reuters reports, would you?

UPDATE: Added new data from week of 4/14 on 4/19

UPDATE: Added new data from week of 4/21 on 4/26. Also, you may notice that my 4 week rolling averages are slightly different than the released averages. Why? Because I actually take a 4 week average of the released numbers. Imagine that. BLS seasonally adjusts the averages. Of course, the numbers themselves are seasonally adjusted, so doing a second seasonal adjustment after averaging seems like fudging the data to me, but YMMV.

UPDATE 5/3: Added new data from week of 4/28. Big drop this week. But rolling average still going up. And last week’s revised upwards. Again.

I’ve been meaning to include this for the last couple of weeks. This is from ZeroHedge, who noticed not only the upward revisions, but their size:

Times Three: That's How Much The BLS Upwardly Fudges Data During An Election Year

Indeed, the most recent revision was the fourth largest on record.  If one only read the headlines this year (at such blogs that specialize in architectural billings, deliveries by canoe, and what not), one would have the impression that Initial Claims have fallen nearly 25,000 this year.  The revised reality? Barely over 10,000.  And that’s a 10,000 improvement against a number that has been revised upward by 50,000.  So, yeah.

Stay tuned for next week’s update.

UPDATE 5/10: SSDD. At least the 4 week rolling average went down this week. That’s the only silver lining in this week’s report. Well, I suppose there’s one more. This is two weeks in a row we’ve been in the 365k-370k range, a decent improvement from 380k-390k, which is where we were the previous month.

UPDATE 5/17: Repeat of last week. Again, the 4 week average dropped a bit. But it’s still a good 15-20K higher than it was two months ago. And that’s still not good.

UPDATE 5/18: I added a lot more rows to the tables. Last week claims were not revised upwards was 6/19/11. Initial report for that week was 429,000. After revision, 429,000. You’ll notice that it still wasn’t revised downwards. Average revision in the 46 weeks since then: ~+4,000 (3,978.26).

UPDATE 5/24: Ditto on my update of 5/17.

UPDATE 5/31: 48 weeks in a row. Also, a rather large jump over the last month. The last report in April is 365,000. Last report in May is 383,000. And the 4 week rolling average ended it’s three week run of dips.

UPDATE 6/7: 49 weeks in a row. Pretty big upward revision too. Starting next week, the Department of Labor is making some disturbing changes to the way this information is disseminated. But, I’m sure it’s entirely innocent.

Update 6/14: 50 weeks in a row.

Update 6/21: 51 weeks in a row. Oh, and the DoL has decided not to change their rules on publishing their information. For the time being.

12 June, 2012

June 12, 1987

Tear down this wall!

President Ronald Reagan (R-USA) spoke these famous words while standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate at the Berlin Wall.

Much of Reagan’s senior staff was against the inclusion of this phrase in the speech:

Several senior staffers and aides advised against the phrase, saying anything that might cause further East-West tensions or potential embarrassment to Gorbachev, with whom President Reagan had built a good relationship, should be omitted. American officials in West Germany and presidential speechwriters, including Peter Robinson, thought otherwise. Robinson traveled to West Germany to inspect potential speech venues, and gained an overall sense that the majority of West Berliners opposed the wall. Despite getting little support for suggesting Reagan demand the wall's removal, Robinson kept the phrase in the speech text. On May 18, 1987, President Reagan met with his speechwriters and responded to the speech by saying, "I thought it was a good, solid draft." Chief of Staff Howard Baker objected, saying it sounded "extreme" and "unpresidential," and Deputy National Security Advisor Colin Powell agreed. Nevertheless, Reagan liked the passage, saying, "I think we'll leave it in."

Reagan understood the power of words. While many criticized him for being overly antagonistic towards the Soviet Union, he knew that to change the direction of history, he needed to make the entire world understand the clear differences between the United States and the Soviet Union. This speech was one of many attempts to do just that.

Those are the most famous words from the speech, but they weren’t given in isolation. The final paragraph builds up to it. The whole paragraph is a masterpiece of wordsmithing.

We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Twenty-nine months later, on my birthday, the gate was opened, and a few months later, the final dismantling of the Berlin Wall began.

Listen to the speech.

11 June, 2012

P90X Days 42-45: Halfway Home!

Ok, my self-imposed hiatus on Friday turned into a whole weekend spent mostly away from the computer. But, I did do the workouts and have a bit to say.

Day 42: X Stretch

As I said, I got up very early in the morning to do my stretches before starting out on my trip to Chicago. You may recall I mentioned back in week 4 how awful it was when I did Yoga X first thing in the morning. Same here. Stretching that early just doesn’t work for me. I can’t hardly stretch at all. Or maybe that’s a sign that I really need to do it then, and every day. I don’t know. I should probably do some research.

Day 43: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps

I’ve told you the last two weeks that this is a brutal workout. I also mentioned that last week I hurt my shoulders doing it. I did it again, only just the left one, and not nearly as badly. I think it’s the 10th exercise in the series, “Two Twitch Speed Push-up” that’s causing my problems. You’re supposed to do four very fast push-ups followed by three very slow ones. Then repeat that as long as you can. I think I’m pushing myself too hard on this one. Male pride. Need to watch it next time. However, that next time won’t occur for several weeks. And, of course, I forgot about Ab Ripper X. Again. You have no idea how deflating it is when you think you’re all finished, and then the music starts again.

Day 44: Plyometrics

This workout continues to be brutal. But, I continue to do better at it. In fact, if you look at things merely in terms of achieving correct form and doing the required number of reps, this may be the easiest workout. I look pretty much like the people in the video during each exercise. And I manage to do all the exercises for the full 30 or 60 seconds. Now, I’m out of breath between exercises, and bent over with my hands on my knees. So, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I just waltz through this one like I’m Joe Plyometrics. It wipes me out, and does so almost from the very first exercise. All I’m saying is that I’m able to keep up with the people in the video. This may be the only workout where that’s true from beginning to end. Even Kenpo X I struggle with. My legs are so tight that the side kicks are pretty ugly.

Day 45: Back & Biceps

I didn’t show much improvement on this one over last week. For several of the exercises, I was only able to do the exact same number of reps. I think my form was a little better throughout, though, so I’m not upset about it. I also finally found the correct weight for me for the Lawnmower exercises, which I’ve been doing since week 1. The very first week I used resistance bands. In week 2, I used 20 pound weights. This week I used 50 pound weights. To be completely honest, 45 might be the right number. I think I got a little sloppy at the end using the 50s.

Tomorrow is Day 46. This means I’ve made it half way through P90X. I’ll officially be on the downside starting tomorrow. What an amazing feeling. I’m also in the last “real” week of Phase II. Next week is another “Recovery and Ab Focus” week. After that, it’s on to the final phase, Phase III. When I start it, I’m going to up my caloric intake slightly, again. I’ve started losing weight again (not much—I’m talking ounces here, not pounds). I’m not quite at my fat percentage goal, so that doesn’t bother me too much. But, I’d prefer to be gaining weight at this point, not losing it.

Tomorrow is Yoga X. I actually enjoy this workout except for about the last 5-8 minutes of the movement phase. That sequence starting with the Warrior 3 pose and ending with the Twisting Half Moon just kills me. I have to be honest. I don’t know if I’ll ever be good at that part.