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Today I exercised!

Years ago, I would awaken at 4am and be at the gym by 5am. I would hit the dry sauna then stretch then run some laps, lift some weights, play racket ball, swim a few laps, and finish with some time in the steam room and a shower. It was a great way to start the day. I would finish each day meditating on the day’s events and the day to come and have 20 minutes of stretching. I never felt strong and more mentally fit in my life.

Now, my days start off with bemoaning the lights that automatically turn on at 5:30am and if the dogs and cats are on my legs using them as an excuse to stay under the warm covers another 30 minutes (let’s call that meditation). Then, maybe, I walk to the bus stop with the 9 year old but usually I negotiate with him to drive. I stand at my desk all, most of the day. I do sit occasionally and in meetings. The aerobics come in the evening during the half a dozen or so trips I take up the stairs on errands for the wife or to investigate a bump in the night.

But today that changed! While getting the children’s morning routines started, I dropped to the floor for a set of 8 push ups. This confused Westley, the cat, who decided every time I went down to the floor, that he should head butt me. After 8 situps, I rolled over for 8 crunches to which the cat decided was acceptable but only if he rubbed his face against my cheek. When I turned over for another set of 8 pushups, the headbutting returned. Same with the crunches, more face rubbing and purring. Last, third, set of pushups included 8 more head butts; And the last set of crunches ended with face rubbing and purring. I suspect 20 minutes of stretching would produce a very confused cat. I slipped on some spandex just to make my buttocks sexy for the neighbors then ran around the block. Since I’m typing this, you know I didn’t die…but I gave it my all! Let’s do this again in another 15 years.

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Arrow to the Knee!

I’ve earned my knee socks. That’s right, I’ve been Scoutborged. With Noah working up the ranks in Boy Scouts and Evan having begun scouts as a Tiger scout, I find myself a leader in both Cubscouts and Boy Scouts and Cathy has earned her Scout Widow badge. In June, I will be going on an adventure with Noah to hike in the Canyons of Utah for 9 days (with no cell phone or Internet!) This past weekend, Amy, Evan and I toured and slept overnight in The Lost Sea Caverns. The Weekend before that, Evan and I hiked for miles around Camp Buck Toms, slept over night, and came home with ticks. The weekend prior to that I slipped while doing yard work and torqued my knee. And today, three weeks later, my knee is still tender, hurts to touch, and I cannot put much weight on it.

So, I just paid $25 to have my doctor tell me I’m out of shape. End of story. So to celebrate, I decided to go to Cookout and have a cheese burger with onions, french fries, and hush puppies..MMMMMMmmm. While waiting for my food, I look around the joint and every morose soul there is 2 to 3 times my overweight size. They don’t speak or smile. Slow Jesus rock emanates loudly from the store speakers. For a moment, I consider leaving the five dollars and change worth of heart disease on the counter to escape quickly. In weakness, I grab the food and Cheer Wine float, return to work, and joined a gym.

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Waist Fluctuations

Since I’ve become hyperaware of my blood pressure and have the strong desire to live, I’ve begun eating healthier. I once thought I’d go by John Derek’s words of "live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse" (n.b. written by Willard Motely in 1947 for the book "Knock on Any Door", turned into a screen play in 1949 and spoken by John Derek playing the character of Romano, and often incorrectly attributed to James Dean.) However, since I lived past 35 and have a wonderful family, I’m quite motivated to extend my years as long as possible so I’ve begun eating more organic foods, reduced my red meat intake dramatically, and have begun leaning toward more vegetarian meals. I also am taking smaller portions and I stop eating when I’m full rather than when the plate is empty. The result is that of the 5 notches on my belt (roughly an inch apart), I’ve moved from the 3rd to the 4th. Last week I was actually on the 5th. This week the 4th is a little too loose and the 5th is too tight. Now what would happen if I actually started exercising?

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Now where’s my unicycle?

Years ago I had a unicycle. Years ago I was a mountain biker. As I approach 40. I lament that I may never do these things again. Perhaps I need to rethink that.(that was an awkward forced sentence because I don’t really feel that way) {Dear Reader, Fill in something here that connects the thought that I used to do these things and he still does as my Muse escapes me. Then skip all these words and just watch the video.} At 53 years old, Unigeezer is both unicycling and mountain biking like someone in their 20s!

Check out UniGeezer.

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Feeling Old

Feeling old is when taking three steps across the kitchen to the coffee maker causes you to wince. For the past couple of days, I have had excruciating pain in my lower back. The pain is concentrated in my lower left back just above my buttocks but I also feel it in my left shoulder blade. I thought it was related to sleeping on that horrid air mattress at Frozen Head since I could not find my RidgeRest. I thought my back would improve but it seems to be worsening. I don’t exercise. I don’t stretch. All I do is sit all day long typing. The dogs and Evan make it difficult to stretch but I think that I must return to 20 minutes in the evening and 20 minutes in the morning. I never felt better than I did when I was stretching in the morning and evening.

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Are family stickers on cars dangerous?

For an eon, I have wanted to put the decals representing our family on the van. This past Mother’s Day I made a greater effort to find them and came across several people admonishing the stickers as careless parenting and dangerous to our children. I felt compelled to comment:

The DC Internet Caucus panel on kids and predation has determined that the media has misrepresented the way that children are preyed upon. Although we want to protect our children, being realistic about threats is important because overprotecting them can be just as harmful. Just think, if you teach your children to jump from every shadow, they may grow up to believe that stickers on a car might actually make your child more vulnerable to a child predator.

Yesterday, Evie, a child abuse awareness volunteer added commentary stating that those of us thinking people were being overly paranoid or overly protective were wearing rose colored glasses and not living in the real world. I felt compelled to comment further:

Evie, I’m a realist but while you think we are viewing the word through rose colored glasses, I think you are jaded because you work with the problem.

When I worked as a quality assurance engineer my job was to find problems and when I left the office I continued finding problems. I found billboards with misspellings. Newspapers with poor grammar. Stuff in my life that was assembled wrong. And so forth. But the truth of the matter was that although these were “problems” for the common person, and on the grand scheme of things, they were inconsequential.

I think the quality of our life, and the ability for our children to grow up confident rather than afraid, out weights over the top paranoid reactions to events that have a low likelihood of ever happening to most people.

I am a scout leader and have been trained on child safety and protecting our children. I am a father of five. I want no harm to come to my children or anyone else’s. But like the woman who allowed her 9 year old to travel the subway alone, I want my children to live life to its fullest. I want them street smart but trusting because I believe by breeding trust we help make the problems go away. Don’t treat symptoms; treat problems. Ask the adults around you and I think you will find most of us lived as a child safely being away from home all day long and not abiding by any of the safety recommendations of this day and we all turned out okay. Using reasonable safety measures and common sense makes our children very safe today.

Yes, abductions are easy. So is drowning but that didn’t stop me from taking my children to the ocean and letting them have the time of their lives this summer.

I feel bad for the children Evie has had to help. They should have never been in such a predicament. Isn’t it true that most child abductions are by friends or family? or someone otherwise close to the victim? If so, the stickers really don’t make a difference do they? According to, 75% of abductions are by friends or family with most abductions being by a parent in a custody dispute.

Evie, you do not live in the real world. You live in a microcosm and broadcast it upon the real world. No insult intended.

How children lost the right to roam in four generations is written on a UK website but certainly reflects similarly to how our children in the United States are treated. As a parent, the thought of my children roaming to areas where I cannot locate them is terrifying but that thought is hypocritical. As a child, I was told to be home at a certain time. I might go out and be in the woods for 6 hours. As long as I got home before 5pm, I didn’t get in trouble. And I would play without a watch. I knew the time based upon where the sun hit the tree tops. My mother had no way to contact me other than a loud shout. Today we have cell phones and FRS radios and GPS trackers. With such technology, why do we keep our children closer than ever? Shouldn’t we allow them the opportunity to explore and grow? Instead we keep them close to home. Doesn’t that encourage more indoor play? Or sedentary computer gaming? Perhaps keeping our children on a short leash and teaching them that no one can be trusted is not good for their health, mental stability, or overall development. Kids need the adventure of ‘risky’ play.

See also:How Far Did You Roam As A Child?

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Freeclimbing 3000 feet

I love rock climbing. Gym climbing and real rock are two entirely different experiences. Dan, Jan, and Jill took me under their wings and gave me good lessons. I met Lou Whittaker when he was in his early to mid-seventies and I have an autographed copy of his book. Lou Whittaker is the twin brother of the first American to ever summit Mount Everest (1963), Jim Whittaker. In his 70s Lou Whittaker had a firm handshake and stronger voice than some people I know in their early 30s. He was more alive than some people will ever be. He died on Mount Rainer and that is how he would have wanted it. (I thought I read that he died on Rainer a couple of years ago but I can find no obituary or any information to substantiate that therefore I am going to assume he is still alive.)

Lou’s philosophy is simple: "When it comes to dying," he says, "I want to know what it is like to have really lived." [Source]

Dean Potter has a video out demonstrating a solo, freeclimb The Nose of El Capitan at 3000 feet. I think Lou Whittaker would disagree with this type of climbing.

"…Remember, there are old climbers and bold climbers, but no old, bold climbers…" [Source]

Dan Osman (seen in the video below) was a speed climber and controlled freefaller who died November 23, 1998 when a last minute change to plans caused undue stress on his rigging which broke and sent him plummetting to the ground below. Read more here.

There is also an 11 minute video tribute to Dan Osman [Update: Video removed due to copyright claim by Eric Perlman Productions. You’d think YouTube or "we don’t understand marketing" productions would at least provide a link to where the video could be viewed or purchased.]. Speed climbing and Parkour share a lot of similarities. I can certainly relate to the thrill!

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A new hobby? Parkour

Me thinks I have to try Parkour aka PK.

Parkour (often abbreviated PK) is a physical discipline of French origin in which participants attempt to pass obstacles in the fastest and most direct manner possible, using skills such as jumping, vaulting and climbing, or the more specific parkour moves. The obstacles can be anything in one’s environment, so parkour is often practiced in urban areas because of many suitable public structures, such as buildings, rails, and walls. [Source]

See also: A much longer description of Parkour. Wikipedia also has a detailed explanation.

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Who needs Prozac! Tag! You’re it.

I’ve been feeling increasingly depressed. Work stress and my general situation have just beaten me down. I have managed to keep the dizzy spells back but often it is just by luck that I’m not swirling away.

Yesterday I got off my bum and ran. It wasn’t a terribly lengthy run but it was on hills and made me wheeze like the air had suddenly shut off. Then last night I took a break and had Sarah join me for The Knoxville Juggler’s Club meeting. We had a blast and I exercised hard.

Today I feel great! The work is still there. Today’s schedule is nuts (that link won’t show it because we use 9 calendars to coordinate our family). I may have a career altering decision to make at lunch. And the wolves are still at door. But I truly feel less down!

Schools have blunted our creative education with the elimination of arts and language skills.

“We can no longer afford the arts,” yet recent studies have confirmed that public schools cannot afford to eliminate arts education because of the important contributions it makes in the cognitive development of the whole child. [Source]

Were it not for the exceptional PTA at Rocky Hill, our elementary school would not be teaching foreign language at all. Now schools are looking ot reduce physical activity, like banning tag, on the premise that these activities are not safe. They are making a huge mistake.

The principal said children playing tag suffered both physical and emotional injuries.

Exercise works to prevent depression! (without side affects)

…another treatment for depression – exercise therapy – that can be as effective as antidepressants and counselling. Several scientific studies have shown that a regular programme of exercise can help people recover from depression – lifting their mood, reducing anxiety and improving self-esteem and concentration. They have also found that taking regular exercise can help protect people against becoming depressed in the first place. [Source]

A study of male graduates at Harvard found that the relative risk of depression over a 25-year period was 27 per cent lower for men who played three hours or more of sport a week. [Source]

I think Franklin Elementary School Principal Pat Samarge has it wrong. Tag, even with its "abuses" develops our children physically and mentally. Without exercise, Samarge is contributing directly to physical problems and, as the studies have shown, Samarge is also contributing directly to the emotional abuse of depression! Of course, not playing tag doesn’t mean these children will become depressed nor does it imply that these children are being denied opportunities to exercise. It simply means that Samarge has taken away an opportunity, opened a door to potential lethargy, and eliminated a possible depression preventative.

Yummy! I had pondered creating a site to review teachers from the parent and student point of view. I am happy that it has already been done!

Side note, In case you missed "Schools Abolish Recess in favor of Sensitivity Training", click this to see the picture! "I’m OK! You’re OK! a horrible bigot."