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Showing posts from January, 2014

Lessons From Today's Outdoors Success Story

The other day I was asking for reader's examples of exercise success stories. Today provided one for me to describe. It is especially worth writing about because it was a hike, and it takes some effort and finesse to make hiking fun. 

1) Homo Sapiens is a tribal animal. Hike with others. Solitude and nature sometimes get connected in preachy sentimentalisms, but this just isn't accurate. In fact, solitude sucks for us, as it does for a dog -- and for the same reason. Don't detract from the social interaction by focusing on only one person, or by going exactly at the perfect pace for you, as if other people don't matter.

2) Emphasize intensity, not duration. Intensity stimulates you to do your best; it is inherently interesting and dramatic. (And, brother, hiking could use a little drama.) Lotsa miles and hours are merely things to be endured.

3) Lean against the big disadvantages of hiking: heat and still air. Look for coolish conditions. Don't start too late in the d…

Relaxation After Exercise

Even with its deficiencies -- such as abuse by politically-motivated hacks -- we should still be grateful for Wickipedia. Without dictionaries and encyclopedias, we are at the mercy of long-winded books, which results in endless procrastination; and our curiosity dies on the vine.

For years I have fallen into deep, blissful relaxation after exercise, particularly bicycling. Conscious relaxation -- not true sleep. Let northern-European Protestant and American-Puritan culture be damned: a siesta of some type is healthy and natural after the mid-day meal! It attains perfection after a morning of aerobic exercise.

And it happened again today. Ahh, how I miss these sessions with my little poodle. I finally got around to reading up on 'Relaxation' in Wikipedia. The prose did not impress me, but there was this photograph of doggie yoga by a Maltese:

So many people think that dogs smell bad; but I'm here to tell you that a small shedless dog, which has been washed with doggie shampoo…

Can You Pass-on Your Exercise Success Story?

I don't mind admitting that other people have helped to give me good ideas, where exercise is concerned. Over the course of a lifetime, it has happened four-to-six times, and it would help me out if it happened again. Specifically, I need some help with hiking. There are people who blog about hiking, and they do a good job of it; but it doesn't seem to help me visualize the sport as interesting.

Isn't it odd how people never get around to discussing the philosophy of exercise? By 'philosophy' I mean the basic questions. What are you trying to accomplish? Why does one sport work better than another, and why does this vary with the person? What is the biggest drawback to the sport, and how do you overcome it? 

And most of all: How do you turn this kind of exercise into something that you actually want to do, instead of something that you are forcing yourself to do? This has been the secret to most of my success with exercise. I've emphasized hedonism, rather than …

A Movie Recommendation

You may freely admit to giving recommendations of various types to other people, over the course of your life, without feeling too foolish about it. But why does it hardly ever work, whether the recommendations are for movies, books, or blind dates?

That's what pops to mind after watching a movie from the local library, "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman", directed by Ang Lee, who later directed "Sense and Sensibility" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."  "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" is what put his career on the map, I suppose.

But the movie isn't too well known or popular. There are reasons. The only audio choice on the DVD is spoken-Chinese with English subtitles. There is a lot of dialogue, so you have to read the subtitles fast.

From time to time I read movie reviews on Amazon/IMDB. Usually they aren't too helpful, and because there are so many of them, I usually give up. Sigh, that's an old problem in the information biz. Some blabber-mout…

part 3, An Unidentified Sail on the Horizon

For all the times that she has done it, you'd think that I would have a photograph of my dog wriggling in the desert sand, belly-side-up, and acting happy to the point of silliness. It always pleases the human spectators.

Her behavior reminds me of how I feel from time to time when reading Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander." Ships-of-war, when not fighting their own kind, were virtually pirates with a license: they would attack rich merchant ships, and hopefully get them to surrender before doing too much damage to all those valuable goodies. Then they would bring her in to port to be sold off, with the "pirates" getting a bonus proportional to the wealth of the captured ship.

A cyclist experiences the same thing when he espies another cyclist up ahead who looks vulnerable. Of course, sometimes, the cyclist is on the receiving end of that kind of treatment. What a chase it can become, regardless of which side you are on! It is fascinating to see …

part 2, An Unidentified Sail on the Horizon

This blog doesn't just assign old-fashioned homework. In addition to the essay by William James, mentioned last time, today's assignment is to watch the Coen Brothers' movie, "Barton Fink." The role of "the life of the mind" in its memorable climax fits in well today.

Long-suffering readers know that I encourage 'living' a book rather than just reading it, in order to turn a stultifying process into a more vivifying one. You must pretend, even if only temporarily, to have some sympathy with this approach if the rest of this post is to mean anything to you.

The first time I read Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander" novels, several years ago, I was in Yuma, bicycling with the superb road-cycling club here. Back then I saw no connection between sailing the high seas in a British man-of-war, during the Napoleonic era, and the sport of cycling. This time around I have seen a co…

An Unidentified Sail on the Horizon

Today's homework is none other than an essay (about 30 pages long) that any fan of William James would include on his greatest hits album: "A Certain Blindness in Human Beings," contained in a larger book on Gutenberg.

Me and the boys were at Starbucks again, halfway through a bicycle ride. As usual the blarney spilled over the curb and flowed out to the shopping mall parking lot.

Then an older woman -- interrupting yet another shopping trip for yet another trinket, no doubt -- walked up to our table, and began to ask some questions. She appeared quizzical. Her reception was not unfriendly by our group. She seemed to think that a kaffee-klatsch of bald/grey/white heads in bicycle garb was so silly that only politeness kept her from laughing out loud. Perhaps it we presented ourselves well, her good nature would have granted us the status of licensed lunatics. I wasn't even going to try to please her. Instead, I seethed at the old …

Do New Year's Resolutions Make Sense for Geezers?

Because of the holidays and being between semesters, I haven't been assigning homework on a regular basis. I'm sure the reader will be relieved to get back in the swim of things. Very well then, today's assignment is the chapter on "Moral Perfection" in Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography.

Should we make more, or less, effort at New Year's Resolutions as we get older? A cynic might say that an oldster should have outgrown such nonsense by now. A wit might say that if such resolutions did any good, the oldster would have reached moral perfection long ago, and thus the question doesn't even come up.

I hope you were lucky enough to have known a grandfather that you looked up to as a wise old man. Mine once told me that a young man never thinks about the consequences of his actions. That's not such a brilliant or original thought, but I 'remember it as if it were yesterday,' as old men are prone to sayi…