Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Feel...........

Given my consistently marshmallow-like figure (Hey, don’t hate me because I aspire to sweetness), sometimes I wonder if my feeling healthier lately isn’t just all in my head. I mean, 7 pounds of weight loss CAN make a difference, but how much really? (Especially considering I’m still probably 23 pounds above my ideal body weight) Still, it’s undeniable (to myself, anyway) that although I have a long way to go, I am definitely feeling better than I have in a long time. Little indicators keep popping up from time to time to remind me.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered almost by accident that I can throw front handsprings again… On the mats, and completely pain-free at that! (although I’m not claiming it’s a pretty sight) One of the students at the gym couldn’t seem to envision what she was trying to learn, so I demonstrated it onto a crash pad: Safely, carefully, and responsibly. My immediate reaction was that the crash pad was just getting in my way, so I just switched to the regular floor. The other upside was that it really helped the student to wrap her mind around the body mechanics of it.

Yesterday, I started the adult gym workout session by stretching like I always do. But this time, I spent perhaps an extra 5 minutes doing some really serious stretching like in years gone by. And wonder of wonders if it didn’t lead to a bunch of flexibility breakthroughs and some serious endorphin release. I threw a real dive roll on the ground for the first time in perhaps 15 years, and my knees didn’t explode!

Nor are they sore today, and I’m still feeling more relaxed and flexible a day later. In my office at work, I got the urge to try a handstand. Recent attempts have served to remind me that I’m old and out of shape. I can get up, but then I just spend a few seconds grunting, shuffling, and flailing around before I come back down. Well, on the very first attempt, I went up and held it like a rock for about 15 seconds! No grunting, no flailing, and no hand movement whatsoever… AND no discomfort! Go figure.

Maybe there’s hope for me yet.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

When Life Blows

Ah, November in Central California; the time of year when a good wind storm blows a bunch of leaves off of the trees and you notice for the first time that some of them are finally changing colour. That’s how fall arrives around here, with several inches of leaves everywhere, and yet most of them are still green and on the trees.

With Fall, as you may well know (unless you live in the Middle East or some other desert region), comes a plethora of fauna strewn about the yard in a most haphazard and cluttered manner. You realize that it’s vital to do a little yard work before it buries you entirely, and so off you go. The depressing thing about it all, besides the endless raking, is that you know that this is going to be an ongoing process until it’s nearly Christmas.

And so it was that I found myself venturing forth alone to beat back the elements of Mother Nature. However, this year was different, because we now own our very own leaf blower! It might be an electric model, but according to Consumer Reports, this no longer necessarily means that it’s a wimpy mama’s boy who’s never cut the umbilicus. I wouldn’t know either way because I’d never used one. But my initial conclusion was reached after about 2 minutes of use.

Conclusion (Status: initial): A leaf blower gets the job done a LOT faster than raking does.

As I progressed with the task and my experience with the device increased, I was able to reach several other interesting (if not valuable) conclusions.

C1) It’s a lot faster and more orderly to create a cushion of air under a bed of leaves and move the whole bed that way than to blast away at them from the top of the pile. Less mess + more movement = quicker success with less grit in your teeth.

C2) It is possible, without any practice whatsoever, to lift a plant out of its pot and hurl it against a wall three feet away; dirt, roots, and all. But it’s not prudent to share this information with your wife.

C3) You can play fetch with a dog without even touching the ball. Just blast the magical orb with the air, and the dog will chase it happily.

C4) A smart dog isn’t necessarily bright: Drop your ‘fetch’ ball into a violent maelstrom of leaves 2.5 feet thick, and it’s really kinda... well, gone! The leaves with the ball scent will get blown all over the place, throwing you way off the path in your quest to recover it.

C5) A medium sized dog who likes to snap at streams of water directed toward his canine-hood will do the same with a stream of leaves and be quite thrilled about it. HOWEVER, C5b) attempting the same with a very SMALL dog (aka. Itsy Bitsy Mitzy) is akin to watching an umbrella turn inside out in a wind storm. Don’t worry, she’ll land and stop rolling eventually and come back for more.

C6) With a little honing, you can peg a canine with its own doo doo at upwards of 5 paces. The canine will not necessarily appreciate the irony, but you sure will!

After completing my task, I had a huge pile of leaves about 2 feet thick and 10x30 feet in area. The yard looked much more orderly than it had before, and I really feel good about that. However, my final conclusion needed to be modified a little.

Conclusion (status: final): Experimental leaf blowing will get the job done potentially quite a bit SLOWER than raking. But…. WHO CARES?!