Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy (Rainy) Halloween/Buy Vegan Protein

Throughout this California 2014 Drought, every day has been scary because the people I see on a regular basis are concerned for our environment and the Central California Coast agricultural communities. Along with this scare comes certainty that at least we can enjoy everything outdoors...because we won't be getting rained on. It's been like this since January. And now, October 31st, the night that most of us celebrate's pouring.

If the Santa Cruz Halloween Night Parade/Street Party doesn't go down, my hope is that you all get a little cuddle-time with the hottest zombie on the block and eat some Trader Joe's Vegan Pumpkin Rolls :)

Pacific Ave. Downtown Santa Cruz Halloween Party
VEGAN PROTEIN! Nothing sounds sweeter than hearing the words vegan and protein come out of somebody's mouth in the same sentence. When those beautiful words are spoken, I know we're speaking the same language!

Getting into fitness after several years of already being vegan and an animal rights activist, my web searches were less about CRUSHING THE FUR TRADE and more about CRUSHING WEIGHTS IN THE GYM. Guess which one turned out to be more depressing to search? CRUSHING WEIGHTS IN THE GYM! Why? Because all these meatheads offer a "my way or the highway" attitude toward nutrition. 

Out of nowhere comes advice from a vegetarian that I hardly knew, to check out That was a kick in the pants "No WAY" kinda moment. There is a website called Vegan Protein? This I have got to see. 

So I saw it. Loved it. Supported it. 10 years or so have gone by, yadda yadda yadda, and now you can order from their site by clicking on my face :)

Click dem sexy mufuggas to buy dat tanktop!

It's a great website and great company. Supporting them is supporting independent business, and spending against animal cruelty. Any vegan or vegetarian that hasn't seen VeganProteins yet is definitely in for a treat. Buy all of your supplements and nutrition information from them and hit the ground running in the plant-built muscle game!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Firing Teachers for Low Test Scores

Teachers should be fired for low standardized test scores by their students. If Student X gets a low test score at the end of one year, that means that the teacher failed to teach that student that one year, and the teacher should be fired for their failure to teach that student that one year. The problem with this reasoning is that students do not all of the sudden come to 7th grade let's say, with a blank slate. After their 2.5 month summer break (where in impoverished demographics proves to be seriously detrimental and take kids back quite a few notches academically because they are not exercising their intellect in the majority of cases, sadly), they are building on the progress they made in 6th grade. So, what about the teacher that year being held accountable? Ok, so it's both teachers that should be fired (both 6th and 7th grade) for Student X's low standardized test score at the end of 7th grade. Because it was only those two teachers that failed to educate that student.

Take into consideration the summer before 6th grade though. Another 2.5 months where some communities, sadly, don't offer much in the name of extra-curricular activities. Kids will "be kids" and play ball. They can develop people skills and teamwork skills, which is fantastic, but their algebra skills and long division skills aren't exercised when they divide their soccer teams up into 4 and 4 (mental math). It is those academic skills that are being assessed at the end of the school year, not their soccer teamwork.

Then let's go back to 5th grade. But also not forget 4th. We must ask, "When did this student fall behind?" Not only that, but, "Why?" Do you realize the mortality rate in the United States? My hope is that the general public understands that the 2,515,458 people that die yearly do include some younger people. Younger people that are parents of school-aged children. Younger people that are brothers and sisters and caretakers and mentors to these children. May these deaths in immediate family have created a trauma that could have affected a student's learning one year? Yes.

Maybe Student Y had a sibling die when in 3rd grade. Does every student have a sibling die when they are in the 3rd grade? Obviously not. But you must remember hearing about fellow student's suffering deaths in their families sometime during the course of your time spent in school. This event was traumatic! I'm sure Student Y took a few days off school (at least) and wasn't quite the same for a while afterwards. They may have missed the first lesson on division. It is hard to catch up because class sizes are large! My classroom has 35 desks for students and 1 for me, the teacher. All of these desks are full. It is far into the school year before I develop the rapport with students and learn much about their personal lives. In middle school, teachers have 5 classes of 35. How many backgrounds can you find out about from 51 minutes per day seeing 175 kids. Kids that are brand new to you come August on the first day of school.

Sometimes you don't know that this student missed that first lesson on division. That the missing link goes back to 3rd grade. That he still misses his little sister. That he doesn't speak up when he's lost because he's embarrassed for being behind for so long. Is it possible that they've been behind other kids in their class for 4 straight years now?  Step into any classroom, do a simple survey (if you can find the time) and find out yourself. Do this on your extra time that your $41,500 yearly salary doesn't cover.

Oh, but we get summers off!

Fire teachers based on standardized test scores!!! Wooohooo vote republican and anti-union! Here's a dose of reality for you.  \/\/\/   Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Straight Edge Day 2014

Straight Edge Day 2014
Is it a silly "holiday?" Yeah, duh. Though after 15 years, there is a sense of pride knowing I've maintained my path of resistance against our drug culture and stayed completely sober. Some people play in bands, some get into extreme sports- straight edge can be a fast track into all kinds of successes. People certainly aren't saying, "Went straight edge and it was all downhill from there!" But not everyone is "straight edging" their way into a livelihood. Myself for instance, it was just my healthy habit/outlook. It wasn't the reason I got into my career or ever something that could pay the bills. Not drinking or using drugs or smoking has kept life manageable and enjoyable amid a world of angry and depressed people looking for a way to zone out, yes. Let's celebrate that. But no bands ever wanted me to be their frontman (I don't blame them) nor did any clothing company ever ask me for a straight edge quote for their new run of Drug Free t-shirts.

Lifelong sobriety and abstinence (from drugs) is the only life I have ever known. This is a good life, for the record. A great life. All my mornings wide awake and exercising have gotten me a great physique that I've used to my advantage with the fitness contests.
Hangovers aren't exactly conducive to a winning attitude and the spirit needed to participate in insane workouts and achieve amazing results. Do you need to be straight edge to be fit? Obviously not. It certainly hasn't been a hindrance though. For me, it has also allowed me into the most exclusive events of my life. Wait, exclusive like VIP yacht cruises n' shit? Nah bro. Exclusive like hardcore shows at the Westcott Community Center or Lost Horizon, where: No, you don't have to have a ton of money to get in the door. No, you don't need a reserved seat in the VIP booth. But Yes, you do need to have listened to the band Path of Resistance and heard their lyrics.

"I refuse to bow to icons of addiction, I refuse to serve that lie. 
A lifetime spent in opposition, And that's the way I'll die."

You need to know that that flier you picked up and saw that Path of Resistance was reuniting for a show meant that you would see your straight edge brothers and sisters there. All of these comrades who really understood what this opposition meant, and wanted to be there next to you while you sang these lyrics with the band on stage. You need to know that Path of Resistance always closes their sets with Who Dares Wins and that these are some of final lyrics to the 1996 album that made it OK to be straight edge. The album that made Syracuse, New York the cornerstone of the straight edge movement. 

Exclusive is the definition of knowing you had to be at that show. Of knowing the other people who would be at that show. Of listening and believing in lyrics that probably 0.0001% of the entire human race can honestly get behind. Then once there in your black straight edge hoodie and X'd up hands, knowing you are home. Knowing the girl next to you is someone who also gets it...and is worth pursuing for the next decade, because you're both straight edge, and won't crumble under pressure. Straight edge found me that someone.
Who Dares Wins. 

Someone I wouldn't have found if I wasn't Straight Edge

You can catch me in my black hat, jumping on shoulders to sing along at 2:45. Path of Resistance "Who Dares Wins"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Update/A New Focus/50 Years Ago

It has been almost two years since I made a blog post directly to this Blog. From 2012 to 2014, the website Herbivore Athletics was where I kept my fitness and dietary business/personal information and all of my blog posts. Now that it is the fall of 2014, Herbivore Athletics no longer exists and I am back to a simple blogspot. It will be for my own thought-collection process, but also to share with you. Read if you want to!

There is no need to lie and say this is the most important information you will ever read, but you can find some unique ideas and be your own judge of whether or not your friend/acquaintance, Billy Prusinowski is making sound decisions as his life moves forward. 

Two weeks back, a 30th bday somehow found its way into my life. Friends dined, favorite musical acts were seen, parties were had; it was a festive occasion. Is this opening a new chapter? They say 30 is the new 20, but I would like to have my own opinion on the matter. I think things are changing...

Listen to this song. It's so raw and classic. But don't forget to finish reading this post!

Bob Dylan performed The Times They Are A Changin' in 1964. I respect that man, and he continues to play music 50 years later. We all know 1964 was wildly different than today, but 2014 is our time and while that's the case, I'm going to maintain the CAN DO mentality day-in, day-out. 

Back to this 30th birthday of mine. This past year has been graced with many encounters and many friendships; I had to have some kind of gathering where they could all come together and enjoy a night of festiveness. The struggle is where do I hold such a gathering? My friends are back in New York! My other friends are in the SF Bay Area. My closest friends are here in Santa Cruz. WTF should I do? I'll just have three parties and book a trip back to the east coast :)

First: Souley Vegan Dinner for with my SF Bay Area Friends

2nd: Gaslight Anthem and Against Me! in Oakland with Allison, Jay, and Amy

3rd: Epic, classy and unforgettable party in Santa Cruz with all my closest pals

4th: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival with Allison, Deanna, and Mike in SF

And for the Syracusans still in my life, my east coast trip is booked for the weekend of November 14-16. Let's all meet up in reverie and enjoy a vegan meal or two at Strong Hearts Cafe! My dad is being inducted into the Camillus Hall of Fame for running his karate dojo there for the past 40 years. Long Live Kenpo-Jutsu Karate.

Syracuse Kenpo Karate 1974
Bill Prusinowski Sr. and Ken Baker

This trip will be a much needed rest from the stresses of everyday life. Who's not stressed? Of course we all are, so there is no need to emphasize all of the little aspects of your own personal situations for all of us to hear. Hey, we hear ya! Turn your stressors into things that get you somewhere. Maybe try to monetize your stress, and only be complicit in stressful situations if you know you're going to make money from them.
  • My Vega job (traveling to different Whole Foods Markets to sample vegan protein shakes)
  • My Fitness Instructor job (teaching cardio kickboxing 3 days a week at different gyms)
  • My Union School Rep job (being available to support teachers at my school with grievances)
  • My 7th Grade Teaching Career (language arts and social studies EVERY DAY at good ol' Cesar Chavez Middle School in sunny Santa Cruz County)
There is a bullet-pointed list of my stressors. Today is full of personal organization for me, so these are being listed here on my blog and also in my Google Calendar. If you haven't messed with that shit yet, try it out. Organize your life! Connect phone to computer to Gmail, oh man it's so rad. 

For years, it hurt my ears when people described themselves as their job title. After so much indoctrination from my Crimethinc reading in college and after, anything related to "work" totally urked me. It wasn't doing work that seemed so awful, it was how it so defined people. I always wanted to think of myself as so much more than a ___(jobtitle)____. It was so refreshing to hear someone say, "I'm Steph, nice to meet you. What do I do? I'm a big hiker...originally from New York. I follow politics and am an indie movie connoisseur." Though, usually someone will be saying "Kevin. Architect 20 years."

I am many other things than my profession. My days are filled with enjoyment and enrichment that is not done solely to earn a wage. What is awesome about those four jobs of mine is that I LOVE THEM ALL. Being a teacher allows me to work with other people. These people aren't grumpy old fucks. They are kids! Full of life and enthusiasm. Just like me. My career is to help these kids become life-long learners and prepare them for fruitful futures. If anyone out there is considering a new livelihood, teaching kids is the way to go. 

Sadly enough, teaching does not pay the bills. Five years ago I made the move to California. Land of sunshine and amazing outlooks, unfortunately coupled with exorbitant prices for housing, gasoline, food and most other consumer goods. I don't have a flamboyant standard of living, but many of the things I do now enjoy (in my 4th decade on this earth) cost a decent chunk-of-change. Lucky for me, I chose to continue with my fitness endeavors that I was committed to previous to grad school, and those continue to line my pockets (lol, with a few bucks at least) on top of my meager teacher's salary. Those fitness endeavors keep me an Herbivore Athlete and help me reach quite significant masses through my thrice-weekly cardio kickboxing instruction. Check out the size of this class!

Wednesdays at Lifestyle Fitness

Thursdays at Toadal Fitness

This one is a throwback from our old studio at the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center
Continuing with the theme of Herbivore Athletics, this past year I got a job working for my all-time favorite supplement company, Vega. It was March when Allison and I road-tripped to LA for the Vega Unleashed rooftop party and I met the necessary people to get the ball rolling in NorCal as a demo rep.It has been fun doing this on my weekends! Whoever said weekends were for rest? If it was the bible, I'll gladly disagree and instead travel to Whole Foods Markets all over the Bay Area and get paid to sling smoothies!

Last but not least, I have become what I always wanted to become when I signed my teacher's contract. A union leader. If you're not down with unions, I hope your pay is cut, retirement revoked and made to work weekends for free! Unions are pro-worker, pro-teacher and pro-student. Join our struggle against the figureheads they pinch their pennies and try to squeeze us workers (especially public service employees) in between!

I will leave this entry with a few other pictures from the last three months or so. 2014 has been a tumultuous year, so fixating on the positives is important for that continued CAN DO mentality.
To all you gunslingers- Happy Halloween. Thanks for reading. 

West Coast Fam (Bert, Jerome, Michael, Olivia) takes
a private plane to Santa Barbara for a sunny September weekend

Retired from Saturday morning classes at Toadal Fitness

Fifty  years ago our parents couldn't have even imagined us.
Family sticks together. Me and my cousin Erika in SF.