Thursday, April 30, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is playing a game for Lexulous (read: fake Scrabble) against the daughter of the guy who used to manage your dad's sprout-growing business in Iowa. Witness the power of Facebook!

Today's workout

Went to the gym and did the FrameWorks strength & flexibility program. I got through all the exercises in 80 minutes this time, way down from 2 hours. Afterward I did some balance exercises and skipped rope for a few minutes -- the first time since my wrestling days at John Adams Middle School. Time 2:15.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today's workout

Bike commute. That's all. Trying to get my ass to bed by 10:00.

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is the term “finding twine,” a sorely underused term -- just 262 hits on Google! -- for scoring a goal in a hockey game. I think Finding Twine will be the title of my ghostwritten autobiography, should I ever be an ex-pro hockey player.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome are finches. I was walking home from Wash Park last Saturday afternoon and stopped for several minutes to admire a pair of adorable black-and-white finches flitting from branch to branch, cheeping and cocking their heads this way and that. I watched, totally absorbed, as the smaller finch dropped to the side of the tree near a tiny knothole and disappeared inside, although I barely could have stuck my thumb in there. I briefly considered going to the pet store and buying a cage full of finches, until I remembered that it's cruel to keep birds in cages.

On a related note: do birds enjoy flying? Are they amazed that they can do it? Do they ever, while soaring above the treetops, think, "Holy shit! I'm flying!!!"

Today's and yesterday's workout

Yesterday: 1.5-hour yoga class. This was the last of the Basics classes, so the nice lady offered to let me buy 6 class coupons for the price of 5 if I paid that night. I had been debating whether or not to continue taking classes at this studio -- even if I go just once a week, it's more than $50 a month -- but the sales pitch worked and now I'm locked in for the next six weeks at least.

Today: Bike commute, then to the gym for an hour of Pilates. The thing about Pilates is that it's really easy... if you're doing it wrong. If you're doing it right, it's quite difficult, even excruciating at times. Tonight I concentrated on keeping my abs scooped and tight.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is this idea I have for a scene in a movie, where the main characters would visit some august institution -- think the U.S. Senate or the World Bank -- and all of the U.S. Senators and World Bankers would be buff guys in Speedos. This gag would achieve maximum hilarity if none of the characters mentioned it or even seemed to notice. In this movie's universe, it would be perfectly normal for an amendment to a transportation bill to be introduced by a musclebound man sporting a shaved and oiled chest and wearing a tiny bathing suit.

You might not agree that this would be comedy gold. But you have to admit that it would represent a quantum leap forward for fairness and equality in America. How often are buff guys in Speedos depicted positively in American films? They're always idiots and narcissists and douchebags who steal the hot girl from the nerdy protagonist. It's shameful that in the United States of America -- a nation that takes such pride in electing a black president, and has elected people of every race and religion, as well as atheists, gay people, and asshats -- a buff guy in a Speedo has never won election to any public office.

Today's workout

Rode my bike to the gym for a short stint on the elliptical and then a half-hour Pilates class. Then I rode home, walked to Wash Park and ran a slow 2.5 miles, then walked home. It was a beautiful sunny day and about 60 degrees, but I wore tights (which are actually long johns) the whole time to keep my knees and calves (sore from lifting yesterday) warm. My knees felt fine all day.

Hours this week: 13.75
Hours this year: 178.75
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 596, Bike 701

Saturday, April 25, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is planting trees at Utah Park in Aurora with a pretty lady. Happy Arbor Day!

Today's and yesterday's workout

Yesterday: 22-mile bike commute. That's all.

Today: Went to the gym and did the full FrameWorks strength and stretching workout. Time 2:00. That time should come down as I learn the routine better. I've also been doing some isometric exercises to strengthen my quads, which I'm hoping will stabilize my bum knee.

Friday, April 24, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is April, who declined to lay up for herself treasures upon earth -- where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal -- and bought me a tube of face scrub that has solved my disgusting mustache dandruff problem. The face scrub contains an amazing active ingredient called "sand" that exfoliates the hell out of the dead skin under my mustache. Thanks to you, April, our long national nightmare is over.

(By the way, using face scrub -- instead of Lava soap, or 40-grit sandpaper -- to wash my face, and using the word "exfoliate" unironically, does not make me The Gay. The face scrub comes in a gunmetal-gray tube with a pine tree drawing on the front, so anybody can see that it's for manly men.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today's workout

Day off. Went to a movie theater downtown to see the live This American Life show being simulcast from New York. I'm a big fan of This American Life, so it was neat to watch Ira Glass and his crew of zany-voiced spoken-word ninjas on stage, although probably not worth the $20 ticket.

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome are squirrels. They're the beauty pageant contestants of the rodent family.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today's workout

Went to the gym for cardio, core, and the FrameWorks strength and stretching workout. I only got through half of the upper body exercises because I was checking the book a lot to make sure I was doing the lifts correctly. Time 2:00.

The FrameWorks guy recommends doing a single set of 12-15 reps with the lifts done v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y -- a four-count on the lift, a brief pause, then a four-count on the descent. The idea is develop strength across the entire range of motion, and to add emphasis to the negative lift, as compared to the way most people lift weights, which overemphasizes the bottom half of the lift up to the sticking point. This makes sense, but lifting so slowly (combined with my weak upper body) means that I have to use embarrassingly light weights. I could only do 10 reps on the bench press with a naked 45-pound bar, and for the lateral raises I had to use 5-pound dumbbells. I'm used to being the runt of the weight room, but tonight I found myself muttering, "There's not one of you steakheads who can run 50 miles or skate 24 hours" even more than usual.

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome are* these phone and fax numbers I got from an accounts payable clerk today:

(419) xxx -8756 and (419) xxx-7963

Can you figure out why? I'll put the answer in the comments.

EXPLANATORY NOTE FOR CANADIAN READERS: In the American English dialect, "The Awesome" is its own plural, like "moose" and "shitmoose."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today's workout

Bike commute, then to the gym for an hour of Pilates, which was hard, because Pilates is hard -- I am constantly cursing myself for failing to scoop my abs. But it is oh so good for me.

Then I came home and polished off a dark chocolate Easter bunny -- for the antioxidants, of course; chocolate makes me want to vomit -- while watching a swimming instructional DVD. For the sake of balance and all-around fitness, I want to add swimming to my workout matrix/rubric/schema/conspiracy, but sadly, I'm a terrible swimmer: my freestyle stroke is an awful display of thrashing and gasping and craning my neck to make sure I don't run into the wall. I've looked into swimming lessons, but for adults the only option seems to be private lessons, which are too expensive.

Weighed in at 152 this morning, down 1 pound from last week.

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is that the word “anal” has become perfectly acceptable to use in polite conversation -- as long as you hide it in the phrase “anal retentive,” much like concealing your dog’s worm pill in a bit of ground beef. People who would never refer to their penis or vulva in front of casual acquaintances, or even say “I have a carbuncle on my anus,” nevertheless feel perfectly comfortable saying, “I have to have my picture frames perfectly level. I’m so anal!” Sweet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today's workout

Bike commute. Then I rode to the yoga studio for a 90-minute class. Time 3:15.

Yoga is going pretty well. Even though the poses we're doing don't look terribly difficult, for me they are quite challenging. Typically we assume some position and then go through steps of aligning and lengthening our bodies, with each pose held longer than in other yoga classes I've taken. It's hard to believe that standing straight with my hands in the air can be so taxing!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's workout

Went for a half-hour run/walk for April, as we are preparing to run legs on a marathon relay team in four weeks. My knee felt a little janky, but didn't hurt much. Later I did 15 minutes of balance exercises -- which mostly means trying to stand on one foot with my eyes closed and my hands behind my back, with my other foot raised to knee level. I can usually hold this for 30 seconds at best before pitching to the side like a drunken stork. I'm surprised at how lousy my balance is given that my primary sport is skating, which would seem to require good balance.

Hours this week: 8?
Hours this year: 165
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 596, Bike 624

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another announcement

After a great deal of thought, I have decided to postpone my world record attempt until next summer.

Primarily I made this decision because I don't believe that my body (and especially my left knee) can tolerate the strain of training for the world record this summer. A lifetime of imbalanced training has left me with an imbalanced body -- strong in many areas, but too weak and inflexible in others. I'm afraid that pushing forward with this year's training schedule as planned will break one of these weak links, either forcing me into a lengthy recovery or compromising my performance on race day, as happened last year.

With this in mind, I plan to spend the rest of this year researching injury prevention and using this knowledge to build a strong, flexible, balanced, and resilient body that can handle the hundreds of hours -- and thousands of miles of skating -- that I'll need to log to break the world record. I'm also looking forward to attending another Eddy Matzger seminar and working on my form and technique, which is the weakest part of my skating.

Additionally, I've been considering some new ideas regarding the character of the world record attempt. Originally I had intended to make an unofficial, cheap-skate, plain-jane attempt that would consist of me skating laps at Denver's Washington Park one summer weekend (you can read about my reasons for wanting to do an informal attempt here). However, with time I have realized that this is a bad idea, for a number of reasons: the city denied my request for permission to skate overnight; the typical weekend Wash Park traffic of pedestrians, cyclists, dogs, and kids on tricycles hinders me considerably; and Wash Park has hills, as well as sprinklers that soak the course at night with reeking pond water.

So I'm now looking for a closed, flat course where I can set an official Guinness World Record. I'm also considering organizing an event with multiple skaters vying for the world record over the same 24 hours, and combining all of this with a charity fundraiser. All of this will require a lot of energy and time to plan, which is why I'm starting now. I will be posting details as the picture becomes clearer.

I'm a little disappointed to be postponing an event that I've been looking forward to for more than two years, but mostly I'm happy that with the extra time I will be able to organize an exciting event, and most of all that I'll be able to give the world record my best possible effort. I wish good fortune to Philippe Coussy with his own world record attempt this fall, and I look forward to hearing about his result. Godspeed, mon ami!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An announcement

So. I haven't posted What I Hate Today for a couple of days because I've decided to stop doing it. I have a lot of important stuff to post regarding the world record attempt, and I haven't gotten around to posting it because I've been obsessed with babbling, every day, about my disdain for sauerkraut, or guys who surreptitiously flex their abs while removing their shirts in the gym locker room, or the number 8.

More importantly, I'm quitting WIHT because the negativity of dwelling on what I dislike in life -- every day -- has started to weigh on my soul. I've even been carrying around a little notebook so that when I think of something I hate, I can write it down and post it as a WIHT item later. Which reminds me of something I read a while back: apparently multiple studies in the field of positive psychology have demonstrated that people who spend time every day writing down, and thinking about, the things they are thankful for in life, tend to grow happier over time. If that's true, what would happen to the happiness of a man who spent time every day writing down, and thinking about, the things he hates?

So I'm going to spend the rest of week posting new information about the world record attempt, and then I hope to get around to some other kind of daily non-WR-related posting, maybe What I Love Today or some such. It will be interesting to see if it's harder to make funnies while writing about The Awesome.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate getting tamarind paste out of my mesh strainer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Positive Friday!

Today I love Philippe Petit, the Frenchman who in 1974 sneaked into the just-constructed World Trade Center in New York City, strung a 450-pound wire between the Twin Towers, and spent 45 minutes walking more than 1,350 feet above the ground. During that time he completed at least six crossings, taunted the policemen waiting on each tower to arrest him, sat down and stared into the void, and even reclined on the wire and conversed with a seagull. Surely it was for this man that the French coined their word panache.

Philippe’s story is told in Man on Wire, a documentary that recounts, in film noir style, the details of his outrageous caper. The movie reveals Petit to be an utterly charming man, a red-haired imp bursting with joie de vivre and total confidence in his talent. As I watched him walk across the sky, I found myself identifying with his quest for the impossible, and with his desire to create something beautiful and fantastic. I will be thinking about M. Petit often as I pursue my own quest (a pursuit, coincidentally enough, in which my rival is a red-haired Frenchman named Philippe).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate Americans who refer to soccer -- while speaking to other Americans -- as "football," a pure affectation born from a desire to appear European and sophisticated. For bonus points, some of these people pretend that because they spent a few months studying abroad in London or Madrid, they have actually forgotten that Americans call the sport "soccer."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate my retardo phone. You see, I've learned the hard way that if you rub its little phoneclit (also known as the "on” key) for a few seconds, it will get very excited and have a little phonegasm (also known as “calling 911”). I don't do this on purpose, of course, but due to the complicated physics properties of my left pants pockets,* it happens every so often by accident. I know when it happens because I get a call back from the Denver Police Department, which I do not answer.

Right now you are saying, "Hey, why don't you lock your phone's keypad?" Ha ha, I am way ahead of you! I do lock the keypad, of course, but the phonegasm function works even when the keypad is locked. Which would seem to defeat the purpose of locking the keypad. But what does a Harvard dropout like me know?

Or occasionally when I'm enjoying some frottage on the C train.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate Harvard University,* which keeps sending me alumni fundraising letters and leaving voicemails asking for money. Hey, Harvard -- you are aware that I didn't graduate, right? Don't you think it would be a good idea to keep lists of such things? But, while we're on the topic, I'll offer you a deal: I send you a few lousy bucks to add to your bloated $28.8 billion endowment, and you send me a diploma. Whaddya say?


Today's workout

Played three games of racquetball with Rain, time 1:30. Knee felt a little janky but not too bad. My left groin was a little sore after yesterday's yoga class.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Today's workout

Went to my first Iyengar yoga class, 1.5 hours. I learned that Sanskrit is hard to understand, and that I must slouch a lot because it hurts to keep my back straight. This is the first of four basic classes, so it was pretty light. I'm looking forward to more classes.

Weighed in at 154 this morning, up 3 pounds from two weeks ago. No great surprise given the combination of gluttony and sloth I've been enjoying.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate the flaking skin on my upper lip under my mustache, which would be pretty disgusting if it wasn’t rendered nearly invisible by my mustache. I didn’t have this problem before I grew facial hair -- why does having a mustache cause my skin to flake? I suppose I could use some kind of lotion or ointment, but to apply it I would have to shave my mustache, in which case my skin wouldn’t flake and the lotion or ointment would become unnecessary. Excuse me while I formulate this problem into a submission to Dermatology Koans Weekly Digest.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (March Madness Edition!)

Today I hate free throws. In other sports, penalties and fouls create exciting situations: power plays in hockey, yardage gained or lost in football, penalty kicks in soccer. In basketball, however, a foul causes the action to stop completely for a very boring ritual involving nine talented athletes standing around while one guy, unopposed, shoots a couple of leisurely baskets. This happens two dozen times or so each game, and if the game is close at the end -- that is, if one team is ahead by less than 10 points -- it will happen every other possession, causing the last two minutes of game time to drag for 35 minutes in real time. Yawn.

Today's workout

Nothing. Going to a yoga class tomorrow, though.

Hours this week: 0
Hours this year: 151.5
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 594, Bike 583

Saturday, April 4, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate lima beans. I guess. I don't think I've eaten a lima bean in 20 years, but as I remember they are quite disgusting.

Friday, April 3, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Positive Friday!

Today I love the Canadian flag. I love its elegant design: the national symbol rendered in red, on a white background, with red bars on either side. And that’s all. It’s spare without being too simple -- compare to the indistinguishable jumble of cross-on-a-background and nothing-but-stripes flags you see in Europe. The Canadian flag’s colors are basic and you can recognize it immediately. It’s a clean, square-jawed, common-sense kind of flag, which is my impression of the Canadian people themselves.

From a design standpoint (that is, nothing to do with politics or national pride) I like the Canadian flag better than the US flag. The Stars and Stripes is not a bad design, but for my taste it is a bit busy and overly freighted with symbolism -- 50 stars for the 50 states! Thirteen stripes for the 13 colonies! The red represents the blood spilled in the Revolution! Et cetera! Remember when you were a kid trying to draw the American flag, and you couldn’t get all the stripes the right width, or get all fifty stars in the blue field, let alone in the right pattern? But I bet Canadian kids can draw their flag, albeit with lopsided maple leaves.

In defense of Old Glory, I will say that it beats out the Mexican flag, which has nice colors, but I can’t stand the cluttery coat of arms in the middle.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I'm eating something fairly mild -- a Chipotle burrito, say, or a slice of spinach feta bread from Great Harvest Bread Co. -- when I bite directly onto a stray pepper seed or a speck of peppercorn, releasing a unexpected and unwelcome burst of bitter heat, causing my face to pucker like a kindergartner tasting his first lima bean.

Today's workout

Nothing really. Looked into swimming lessons.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today's workout

Browsed the fitness books again after work, and picked up a tome named FrameWork, which -- despite the obnoxious CamelCased title -- seems to be just what I need: a comprehensive program of injury prevention for athletes through improving flexibility, core strength, diet, rest and recovery, etc. I'm looking forward to cracking it open tomorrow.

Also, at the urging of my yoga-ninja sister, I registered for a series of basics classes at a nearby Iyengar yoga center, to start on Monday.

I am enjoying my down time but I do need some physical activity -- the lack of stress relief has brought the usual headaches and tinnitus, plus I keep catching myself clenching my teeth. I hope I'm not grinding them in my sleep. I also have to force myself not to hunch over the steering wheel when I drive. Stress is weird.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate this copy on a McDonald’s bag: “Every single egg we use throughout the year is individually inspected -- all 3 billion of them.”

McDonald’s, of course, wanted me to read this claim and imagine an eagle-eyed inspector in a sterile lab coat --I envision him wearing a monocle and speaking in a German accent -- exhaustively examining each egg and rejecting specimens that fail to meet McDonalds’s stringent standards. But how is anything like that possible? Even if an egg inspector can average 1 inspection per second (for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, without going insane), McDonald’s would need more than 400 inspectors to meet the demand. My guess is that McDonald’s egg inspection process consists of bored employees trying not to fall asleep while crates of eggs on conveyor belts whoosh past.

And how do you inspect an egg, anyway? The part we eat is inside the shell, right? Maybe the inspectors look for broken eggs, and then inspect the contents. “Hey, this egg is perfect! Too bad we can’t use it, because the shell is broken.”