So, school is out.  Third grade is pretty serious in Mississippi.  For one thing, you get actual number grades.  Also, they have a government-mandated reading test that you need to pass to go to fourth grade.  Since football season is over, this test gets extensive press coverage.  Headlines appearing in our paper (only slightly exaggerated):




They had an awards ceremony at Rex’s school.  The morning of the ceremony, at the bus stop, Rex and Karena had this conversation:

Rex: I think I might have to give a speech today.


Rex: I forgot.


Rex: Eh, Mrs. Edwards [his teacher] helped me more.

(To be fair, Karena did help him quite a bit by finding books from the library that were on his list.  I would like to add that I helped him on two math questions this semester and both times ended up shouting at him, and once, chasing him through the house.)

As far as the ceremony goes, I don’t know how to put this without sounding like a boastful parent, but Rex won every award.  There are eight third-grade classes, so like 180? kids.  He won the award for most Reading Points (that you get from reading books on the list and taking a quiz on the contents to prove it), highest score on the Reading Test (10th grade level), most Math Points (completing different math units), highest score on the Math Test (the test only went up to 6th grade level), and like six others. (Although this is Mississippi, his school is actually pretty decent by regular – non-Southern – state standards.)  Also, is a year younger cause he skipped a grade, and was only in school for one semester, making the points-based awards particularly sweet.

I think he was supposed to give a speech, but despite his extensive preparation, his teacher decided against it.  Instead, when she was giving him his awards, she did this:

Mrs. Edwards: …and the most reading points of any student in the grade.  Rex, tell them how many points you earned.

Rex: 418.8

Crowd (i’m not making this up, also the next highest kid had like 250): Oooh!


So at home, several times that day, including once on the phone with my parents, I made him “give his speech”

Me: Give your speech.

Rex: 418.8!

Me: Yay!


Me: Yes it is; I liked the first part best.


Above: Rex winning a reading trophy. He’s the short one in the shirt advertising a Swedish video game.

Below: The trophy has a grammar error.  Only in Mississippi.  I was tempted, but did not report this to the district.


I am thankful that he didn’t point out that powerlifting trophies are much bigger and decide to focus his future energy in that direction instead.

Much to Karena’s amusement and delight, the school listed Rex’s race as African-American.  The cynical side of me pointed out to her that this was great for statistical purposes – if he were breaking windows in the classroom (a kid did this) and reading at a 1st grade level, he’d no doubt be Visigoth-American like me.

In lifting news I stopped doing partial benches & benched 345 which is 5 lbs above double bodyweight; have gone back to a wider-stance low-bar type squat, though still wearing OL shoes; and am doing more reps of deadlift and incorporating rack training, the latter which will please the Swede.


34 thoughts on “418.8

  1. That is awesome! 3rd grade is a big year in elementary school. If there are any “gaps,” that’s when they show up. You should brag. 418+ points in a reading program is a lot, considering most books are worth .5.
    As for the lifts, BWx2+5# in bench is awesome too. At least you have a reasonable plan for DL. I will continue to try everything I read and switch weekly and actually be pulling less.

  2. That’s awesome that he’s doing so much reading. I have always felt that reading is a huge factor to kid’s learning, not just about the content in the book, but also imprinting proper grammar into them. To this day, I might not know the necessary rules for why grammar is the way it is; but I know when something sounds weird (I don’t know if a semicolon was necessary there, I can’t sound it out).

    • i agree about reading teaching grammar. It’s not doing great at teaching spelling like it did for me – he only got a 94, which was his lowest grade. I don’t think a semicolon was necessary; when you have a conjunction, you often don’t even need a comma. I took grammar in grad school & enjoyed it & got an A, but don’t remember that much. I mostly use semicolons because my professor said that most writers lacked the balls to use them.

  3. Coach I had a high reading score on my standardized test in kindergarten. Supposedly 12th grade level.

    I would have turned out much better if I had a 1st grade reading level and took up powerlifitng at that age.

      • I became lazy and academically uncompetitive in college.

        Continuing with a major/career that I disliked was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I never came across a major or career that I liked, so I just went with the easiest one that offered some hope of future employment.

        • You make an excellent point. And “doing what you love” is an unachievable goal for many, who should instead strive, like Fatman, or Einstein, to tolerate the patent office while focusing on their hobbies. My problem was I liked “electronics” in high school and decided to major in electrical engineering. Probably could have stuck with the general “electronics” theme and got a measure of happiness by any of the following:
          1. transferring somewhere where I could have just done tons of digital electronics
          2. switching to computer programming
          3. becoming an electrician or a technician instead
          Instead I just kept plodding along, miserable, doing the minimum to pass the math and other stupid classes, only caring about digital electronics (2xA). Then no surprise miserable at job testing power supplies and fucking around with an oscilloscope.
          Another lesson I guess – which I actually did before I joined the Army – is find out about a career before you choose it. Like actually talk to actual people who do it, at least online.
          tldr: I hear you and realize that a one-sentence platitude is not sufficient.

  4. This is great, congrats you’re a good husband/dad/hero even if your blog facetiously suggests otherwise, etc. etc.

    For my own curiosity, 6th grade vs. 3rd grade math I get, but what exactly is 10th grade reading? Isn’t everything after 1st grade just called regular reading? Do the kids down there actually drag the simple activity of sounding out words on a piece of paper into a 10-year process?

  5. Good job, Rex. Swedish computer games have obviously contributed to his success.

    Why the temporary dip in deadlifts? I can’t find a clear answer in your posts. Since you are, after all, state champ I assume you’re lying.

    • re video games: true, but he has been punished for like 2 months (can’t put together a 5 day good behavior streak; he’s on 3 days now; fingers are crossed), so he has not played. OTOH quincy oddly enjoys watching ME play, in fact will insist that I play so she can watch: She’s pretty much the perfect child.

      re DL: Well i switched back to conventional some months ago because Sumo was hurting my knee. This set me back a lot. The temporary dip that I think you mean is that I did exactly what i predicted and did speed pulls for a while and those were successful so I upped the weight until they were no longer speed, and eventually no longer anything.

      Yesterday I did:
      DL: 225×2, 295, 325, 355, 370×1
      Rack Pull: 405, 495, 505×1 (last two sets were prs at this height but were easy i only been doing this a few days)
      Snatch Grip DL: 300×1,2 (index in rings, no belt)

      • Rex: hope he keeps the streak going, then. Minecraft is addicting. Do you play online or single-player btw?

        DL: obviously you kniw what works for you and what doesn’t. That said, do you use good mornings for assistance to the conventional deadlifts? (also soz if you’ve written about this, memory is slowly deteriorating)

        • I do not do good mornings. I did do them as part of Westside training. I’m excellent at good mornings and can do about 400 – according to a former coach – the deepest he’s ever seen anyone go. They didn’t help much (neither did 99% of Westside). I did enjoy them though, maybe I’ll give them another go, but right now got enough to keep me busy for 2 hours a day.

      • Just do mid-shin rack pulls like I do. They’re harder than real deadlifts and have zero carryover to pulling from the floor. You’ll be fine.

  6. Also nice work on the double BW+ bench. I’m still hoping to achieve this, but have changed my approach, and am now focused on losing bodyweight rather than lifting more. Needless to say, it isn’t working.

      • Several things I want to comment on
        #1 Your son looks like he is on the road to success. Congrats and I hope it carries on through high school, because that could set him up for success in the future.
        #2 Do you still do the partial squats?
        #3.I am really curious as to wether Rex Identify’s(grammar error?) as black or white, especially being that your white. I personally identify as white because my mom is white and she raised me.
        #4 Is Mississippi a decoy state or do you really live there? If not then my tracking is really off. Possible scenarios exist with you move to and from South Carolina.
        #5 How did you become so good at benching? I have done volume every which way to no avail and now I justd on’t do it

        • 1. thanks man. we are working on learning computer programming this summer. specifically Python. He very much enjoys this.
          2. Yes, and they are going well as in i’m progressing at them daily but they are quite soul-crushing. believe it or not I was dreading doing them this evening at the exact minute when I received the notice of your comment in my email
          3. he is a bit confused because we don’t really talk about it that much. A year or two ago he made a birthday card where i was black. (he also drew himself as the largest member of the family, so hmm) More recently he read princess bride and the author describes Vizzini the Sicilian as swarthy and Rex asked what that was. So i said “like medium brown” and he asked if he were sicilian. At the moment he’s not really concerned about it. When only Karena is around I insist that the kids are white “because I have more powerful genes”, and she cites the Jim Crowe “paper bag test” iot put them on her team. The only bad thing is that when she’s out alone with them, she has been asked numerous times if she is their mother which btw is kind of rude implying that she’s the nanny.
          4. I’ll be discussing Thib’s Bulgarian article from T-nation soon. You’ll enjoy that.
          5. I think short arms.

          • Let me also say that I am not currentley tracking nor have I been for some time
            but I am very drunk so my words don’t come out right. I get paranoid about things that don’t matter and often see plots and tricks where, there not only are none, but even if there was it would not effect my life. I don’t just do this with your blog but several other non-essential, low involvement information sources. Anyways I look forward to mockery of T-Nation and Thibs because he is a huge turds. I hate PC for selling out and working with him.

          • Re: 5, volume doesn’t help the bench, and neither will low rep work. The only solution is to acquire a new body with T-Rex arms.

            Barring reincarnation, if you have long arms and forever poverty bench, the best solution is to do board presses. Find a board height where your upper arms are parallel to the floor when the bar touches the boards, and press away. Trying to go heavy on the full-range bench is a road to frustration and injury unless you’re built for the lift.

            Thibs and PC are like the same person. Smart guys who write well (Thibs writes a bit better, or has a better editor), who have not distinguished themselves in lifting competitively but have very impressive physiques. Both have become internet lifting gurus by intelligently and successfully piggybacking on other, more renowned lifters/coaches who, in turn, are not as good at writing motivational articles. The two of them writing a book together is probably the most logical thing in the universe right now. Will pirate 10/10.

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