Hack Man’s Finals

The video is long, but it’s the culmination of 6 months of work:

Yes, it’s been 6 months since I began the Homie Hole Series Project: To use footbag to recover from chronic left ankle injury and general left-side neuromuscular problems. Here’s a graph of the last 6 months of recovery work:

Homie Hole Series Graph

After making this kind of progress over the winter and into spring, I though it would be fitting to share a “Finals” test with the rest of Mizzou students. I arbitrarily made up a scoring system for the format I’ve used to motivate myself and keep track of recovery progress:

Hack Man’s Finals consist of 4 test sections, worth a total of 400 points. Tests and scoring shall be as follows:

*** 2 hour time limit to complete all sections ***

Section 1: Complete a rally of 1,000 consecutive kicks, FIRST TRY. Official competition rules. One attempt only, finals must start with this test. 5 points is scored for each 100 kicks, plus 50 points for successful completion of rally. 5 point bonus for completing rally in under 9 minutes, 10 point bonus for sub 8:30 time.

Section 2: Longest string of 3-add or higher tricks. Unlimited attempts within total time limit. Each consecutive trick above 20 scores 5 points. 110 point total limit (i.e. 42 tricks would max score, allowance for 10 bonus points).

Section 3: Longest string of 2-add or higher tricks. Unlimited attempts within total time limit. Each consecutive trick above 25 scores 4 points, 110 point total limit (i.e. 53 tricks would max score, allowance for 10 bonus points).

Section 4: Consecutive alternating toe kicks. Limit 3 attempts. 1/2 point for each kick below 100, one point for each kick above 100. 110 point limit (rally of 160 maxes score, allowance for 10 bonus points).

NOTE: This is a very stringent test, even for the Hack Man. I have aced each section of this test at least twice in previous sessions, but have never aced all four sections in a single session. Over the last 10 sessions, I have averaged a score of about 335, barely a B+.


Then, I went and put myself to the test. I did well! I Both Aced and Bonused 3 of 4 sections, with an 8:23 1,000 first rally, an Ace+Bonus rally of 42 3-adders, and a new Personal Best of 56 2-adders. But, I kinda blew the toes, only getting 110 on that section, scoring just 60 points. Still, an overall test score of 390/400. A solid A!

However, now that the test is over, I need to move on. I believe I’ve pushed the “contact count” concept as far as it’s reasonable to. It’s time to turn my attention to variety. My current 3-add game is Butterfly, Osis, Refraction, Paradox Mirage, Whirl, and Drifter, and drifter is only halfway there. I’d like to get back to doing blenders, torques, and more, and add those ducks & dives & a few other things too.

Problem is, I’m not sure how to get there, except to keep going at it.

Now that summer is here, I find myself falling back into my old kicking habits: Fewer sessions, for longer periods of time. I can tell it hurts my ankle more to do it like this. I can tell it hurts my knees more to do it like this. I can tell the more frequent shorter sessions are better for me from a physical therapy standpoint.

But I go outside, in public, when it’s good weather. When I’m out in public, I just can’t quit! I go until I wear myself out. Public sessions mean significant setup and strike time, too; I want to maximize kicking to prep/strike time. Then there’s the clothing issue; in weather like this, even a 30 minute session completely saturates a set of clothes.

Lots of reasons it’s a PITA to kick more shorter sessions in the summer. But, I think I’m going to have to find a way. I think it’s what I need to optimize my my health. It’s just… I love to go out and kick in public!

Oh well, thanks for tuning in!



Spring is Finally Here!

One of the surest signs that Spring is finally here: Hack Man Blooms on Speakers Circle!

Also since the last blog post:

…and, after just a couple more sessions in the Homie Hole, a great First Saturday of Spring Break Session:

I’m calling this my “apparent recovery” – from what, I’m not exactly sure. But for the last 3 years now, I’ve been going through one or another musculoskeletal problems. My knees. My shoulder. One broken ankle. The other just going wonky, finally getting twisted. My whole left side feeling like I’ve got some kind neuropathic degeneration.

But check this, I’M FIGHTING BACK.

Since last post, I’ve blown past the range of what I thought was a plateau. It seems impossible I could keep up the rate of change I’ve accomplished so far, I’ve got to level out somewhere.

But for now, the apparent recovery continues. My left ankle still hurts, still has problems, but the whole left side of my body seems almost back to normal. Joints on that side don’t constantly pop anymore, only a little bit more than the other side, sometimes.

A while back when I first started the Homie Hole series, I said I felt like my proprioception had mostly been destroyed, and I felt like I was having to re-learn freestyle moves all over again. That appears to be exactly what’s happening. Recovery and Regrowth.

I stopped seeing the doctors. I stopped going to the chiropractor. I gave up on the medical industrial complex. I decided to try what has always been my personal medicine. I’ve made one change: Started playing more footbag, way more times a week, for usually shorter amounts of time. Here’s where I’m at:

  • 34 hours for 2015 so far, nearly 150 annual pace
  • 46/47 on 20×2 every session
  • 46/47 on 15×3 every session
  • 31/40 1,000 first rally attempts
  • 24/40 100+ alternating toe rallies

I’m pleased with the results so far.

Thanks for tuning in!



Keeping the Heat On in Winter

Current Homie Hole Series ScoreboardOne look at the Homie Hole scoreboard, tells you I have been. Total 28 sessions, four of them lucky enough to be outdoors on Speakers Circle. I’ve kicked 18 hours so far, exactly twice my “goal” pace. I’ve hit my 20-15 goal all but one session so far. I’ve been getting 100+ toes most sessions lately. I’ve had some recent trouble with my 1,000 kick 1st rally attempts, but bagged the last two, still kicking 18 out of 24 for the year on that.

I’ve been keeping meticulous track of my best 2-add and 3-add rallies since I started kicking in my basement, aka the Homie Hole. I’ve now got 53 sessions logged over the last 3 months. Since I usually kick 5 times a week, the 10-period moving average in the graph below represents about a 2-week moving average.

Homie Hole Series Graph

After a steady climb as I got used to things and started regaining my footbag composure, and my ankle has been getting better, it looks like I’ve leveled out over the last couple of weeks. I feel that way too, at least until I can get more outdoor time and work on more variety.

Also up until a couple weeks ago, there was little correlation between 2-add and 3-add the up-vs-down from session to session. I would have expected them to move together often, figuring I’d do better or worse on both metrics if I was kicking better or worse during a session. But, I was batting about 50%, a game of chance, until about the 1st of February. Since then, 8 in a row have moved in tandem, skewing the ratio closer to 2:3, about what I would have expected.

One final word about my ankle, it does seem to be getting better. Very little pain at all, even just walking, the last 4-5 days now. It feels the best it’s felt since early last summer I think. This is the most excruciatingly slow recovery I’ve ever been through. But, for the first time in months, I feel some hope it might really get better and stay better for a while.

OK back to shivering for now, it’s cold and snowing tonight!

Thanks for tuning in!

Year-End Review: Achievements and Goals

I turned my bicycle ODO past 5,555.5 Km on Sunday. I even haz da pictures!

Saturday, I achieved 75 hrs total for the year with a footbag session in the Homie Hole. Here’s how the scoreboard looked after that:

..Plus 30 more minutes Sunday 12/28: 24×2, 23×3, 77 toes, 345 1st rally. Sitting at 75.5 hours Footbag for the year. I had to fight for this one but I got it! Here’s the 2x & 3x graph so far:

So, how DID I do on my goals for 2014? Here’s the tally: 

  1. 75 Hours FootbagI did it! Just barely, had to put in some serious time in the Homie Hole to do it, but… I did it.
  2. 4,200 Km on the bikeBoy did I blow through that! I’ll end the year with 5,600+ Km, more than 25% more than my goal. A new bike and a desire to ride have done wonders for my cycling. I also wanted to do a century ride tho, and failed that. I twisted my ankle, couldn’t really train, and only got a metric century.
  3. Try to bring Reflectingyou.com onlineFAIL AGAIN. I’m working on it, but not very hard. I feel like I’m scared shitless that it might actually take off (and consume all my time), or just fail, and consume some of my money.
  4. Get a new jobI did that, but… I remain very frustrated with a number of issues where I work. So, while I technically filled this objective, the result has left me very unfulfilled.

Now, for my 2015 goals. Same old, same old… 

  1. Be nicer, kinder, and more engaging with black people. After Ferguson, Kaijeme Powell, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, etc., I can’t look away anymore. And, I’m just as guilty as anyone seeing blacks as… less. Less human, less deserving of a smile and a hello. It doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve gotta start somewhere, and I’m going to try to be kinder to black people.
  2. 72 hours footbag. I’d think I’m crazy to set this goal with as many problems as I’ve had with my ankles, knees, back, etc. But, I’ve got the Homie Hole and the ability to put in 2 hours a week for the first couple months of the year. That will be a better start than I’ve had in several years.
  3. 5,000 Km on the bike. Yeah I’m bumping this one WAY up. I did great this year, and want to ride as much or more next year. Planning another century, or metric century if I can’t do the real 100 miles, again for 2015.
  4. Bring Reflectingyou.com online. No further comments here at this time. Wish me luck.
  5. Get another new job, this time a completely new job, not just the same pig with some lipstick smeared on it.  It gets harder every year. Age discrimination is already steering me towards Wal-Mart Greeter land. I swear I’ve poured as much of my time and energy into my job and career, as I have footbag or bicycling. But while I’ve succeeded more than I ever could have imagined with footbag and bicycling, my career has always been a miserable POS failure.
  6. Complete my blog analysis project. Scoring all my videos is slow and demeaning; watching and detailing, down to every contact, just exactly how shitty and limited my footbag game really is. I keep not doing the scoring. Gotta get it done tho. Despite the fact that I already know exactly where all the project data is going, I’m hoping some good might come of it. Maybe the data will prove to healthcare providers (who don’t believe me when I tell them I’m in pain and can’t perform) that there is indeed a loss of performance.

That’s it. 2014 is done, 2015 is just around the corner. Best wishes everyone, I hope 2015 is a prosperous year for us all.

Thanks for tuning in,


The Sunday Before Finals Week

Warm day on the Weekend? Hack Man on Speakers Circle!

I got to use my new MIZ and ZOU black & gold Abshire footbags. ZOU got best 3+ string with 17, but Threepeat, my red/blue bag, stole the show with the nearly 2-minute rally above. I kicked for a total of 1:45, and felt good at the end.

Catching up on the Scoreboard:

  •    9th – 30 min – (no vid) – 16×2, 16×3, 75 toes
  • 10th – 30 min – (no vid) – 23×2, 17×3, 113 toes
  • 11th – 30 min – (no vid) – 17×2, 13×3, 181 toes
  • 12th – 30 min – (no vid) – 15×2, 14×3, 91 toes, 352 1st rally
  • 14th – 1:45 – Preparing for Finals (above)

That’s 3:45 added to the previous 68:15, and…


I can tell the near-nightly 30 minute sessions have boosted my strength a bit. I can feel it riding my bike. I felt it kicking on Speakers Circle. My ankle continues to improve; sometimes it and my foot feel almost downright normal. My back still feels a bit tweaky but no slippage or major pain during the latest session on the circle. But now, of course, my other ankle seems to have start hurting a bit.

I’m how many years old again? Between biking, hiking, and footbag, I’ve put well over 100 Million duty cycles on each hip, knee, ankle, and foot. That’s a lot. Sometimes I feel like I’m just wearing out. Wish I could just install new parts.

Not sure when I’ll get outdoors again.  But, I’m already looking forward to the day the Hack Man can make his Springtime Bloom on Speakers Circle again!

Thanks for tuning in,


New Richard Abshire Footbags

I got them weeks ago. I left them in the package, savoring the thought of what was inside. Tonight, I bust ’em open, and take a taste!

The scoreboard now looks like this:

  • 3rd – 30 min – (no vid) – 15×2, 13×3, 87 toes, plus 16 consec. osis & 404 first rally
  • 4th – 30 min – (no vid) – 14×2, 11×3, awful toes rally attempts
  • 6th – 30 min – (no vid) – 23×2, 16×3, 101 toes
  • 7th – 30 min – New Abshire Footbags – 17×2, 16×3, 88 toes, 1,000+ first rally

2 more hours, for a new total of 68:15 for year, only 6:45 more to go. That’s 14 more 30 minute sessions, with 24 more days to do it. I think I can.

Good news is, my ankle in particular seems to be doing much better. My back seems to be improving since slipping at Speakers Circle too. Unfortunately, my knees seem to be getting worse again.

But I’m still kicking.

Thanks for tuning in!


One Warm Day, Many Cold Nights

Here’s what happened on the warm day:

It’s SO nice to get a warm weekend day when I can go kick on Speakers Circle. It’s been so cold! I’ve been struggling dreadfully in the Homie Hole, so I was keyed up to get some Speakers Circle Mojo going.

But, it wasn’t quite to be. I feel like I brought the Homie Hole struggle out to the circle instead. I only got 12 guiltless, only had one really good rally, and kinda tweaked my back near the end.

And now, my back is just really tweaky.

But, I still got to play footbag for an hour and a half, outside, most of it with my shirt off!

I really am kinda worried I’m teaching myself horrible kicking habits by playing in my basement, feeling cramped, dealing with musculoskeletal problems. I might try to re-arrange my basement and move my kicking spot. The only thing that keeps me from throwing in the towel, is the knowledge that not playing is almost infinitely worse. (although I did take 2 days in a row off after my last blog post)

So here’s the score:

Another 3 hours new + 63:15 previous = 66:15 total.

I only need 8:45 more; 18 more 30-minute sessions, and I’ve got 29 more days to go. I’m catching back up quickly, dropped from needing almost 3 out of 4 days last blog post, to needing just less than 2 out of 3 days now.

It’s still more footbag more consistently than I’ve played in many, many years. It seems to be helping my ankle but hurting my back. And, it’s very frustrating to feel so off and play so poorly, so consistently. This is my longest “down” streak in many years, too.

I can’t forget: NOT kicking is even worse. Way worse.

So, I kick.

Thanks for tuning in!


Gospel of Hacky Sack on Mizzou Traditions Plaza

Witnessing the Gospel of Hacky Sack on Mizzou’s new Traditions Plaza, for the first time EVAR!!1!

I like it! I was worried the bricks might feel uneven, but… nah. It’s protected from the wind. The stage is huge, lots of room up there, and the whole bottom level is nice too. I had fun with the video, and had a great time kicking there!

In other news, I’ve been going hard in the Homie Hole. 5 straight days kicking to start; almost certainly my longest daily streak since attending the 1999 World Footbag Championships in Chicago. Here’s the scoreboard:

  • 16th – (prev. post) – Resurrection of the Homie Hole, 118 toes
  • 17th – 30min – Homie Hole 02, (nothing special)
  • 18th – 30min – (no vid) 13×2-add, 13x 3-add, 99 toes
  • 19th – 30min – Hacky Sclerosis, 8×2-add, 8×3-add, no toes
  • 20th – 30min – (no vid) 15×2, 15×3, 104 toes
  • 22nd – 1:20 – Gospel of Hacky Sack on Traditions Plaza (above)
  • 24th – 30min – (no vid) 13×2-add, 12×3-add, 67 toes
  • 25th – 30min – (no vid) 13×2-add, 13×3-add, 116 toes

4:20 total new + 58:55 prev. = 63:15! Only 11:45 to go, 24 more days in the hole, out of 34 more days left in the year. Kicking for 30 minutes 3 out of 4 days wins.

Plus, there might be another outdoor chance this weekend. Wish me luck!

One more note about the “Hacky Sclerosis” thing: Yes the Hactionary is real. So is the condition. I have found myself with a very bad case of this on the left side, in conjunction with my recovering ankle. I tend to ball up my fist and wrist in conjunction with doing inside kicks and stalls, especially cross-body stalls with that ankle. I’m having to work really hard to relax my left hand and wrist while I’m kicking.

Thanks for tuning in!


The Resurrection of the Homie Hole

Yes, the Homie Hole Lives!

What more needs said? Another 30 minutes in the hopper for the year, 58:55 total, would have to average 22 minutes per day for the rest of the year to hit my goal. At 30 minutes per session, I’ve got to kick at least 33 more days (of 45 possible).

I actually think I can do that.

Thanks for tuning in!


The String of Sunday Speaker Circle Sermons

Weather forecast says this may be the last good chance to kick outdoors this year, not going to pass it up:

Since last blog post, there’s also been:

11/2 – 1:35 – Weekend Ankle Struggle Rally and Ain’t Scared of Stairs

11/9 – 2:00 – See Above, and another video, Brother Lance and I

Making a total of 3:35 added to previous 54:50 for a total of 58:25. I would need to kick at least 18 minutes every day the rest of the year to meet my annual footbag goal of 75 hours. Can I do it? The Homie Hole will be put to the test!

In other news, I have finally started data logging the last 6 years of footbag video I’ve posted to YouTube. This has been a long-term goal of mine, to document my footbag performance over time as I age. Data from Sept. 2008 to July 2009 looks like this so far:

Footbag Data

I don’t seem to be as good as I remember myself being back then, looking at the data. But the data is solid, it tells the truth even if it’s less glamorous than I’d like. I should eventually be able to develop plots over time with all this data, move pattern and sidedness analysis, and more.

A final note: the ankle: still better, still not good, still struggling, but I’m not giving up.