Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tits Forward

My gym is having a charity drive, but instead of donating money, we donate meters rowed on the rowing machine. The rowing machine company pays 2 cents for every 1000 meters our club rows.  At first, rowing looked easy.  Push with your legs, pull with your arms, take off your sweater because it gets caught in the machinery under the sliding seat.

I was building up a sweat and my arms were tired in less than 5 minutes.  The woman next to me said, “Tits forward.”  


“Don’t lean back, and don’t hunch forward. Keep your tits pointing forward.”

I’d been doing about 30 strokes per minute and not getting very many meters for it.  In 10 minutes, I was lucky to have rowed 1000 meters.  2 cents for 10 minutes is not good wages, even if it’s going into somebody else’s pocket.

The woman next to me demonstrated. Push with your legs until they are straight. Pull with your arms until the bar is at your belly. Release slowly with your arms until they are straight. Relax your legs until they are comfortably bent.  Repeat. It’s a four-part motion.  And there’s no need to go 30 strokes per minutes. 

The meters keep accumulating while you slowly return to the starting position. They keep accumulating if you take a short break. It’s like coasting in the water. 20 strokes per minute is plenty to easily row 1000 meters in about 6 minutes.  Still lousy wages, but at least I’m not tired and it feels like a pleasant workout. 

The rowing machine company will be donating about $40,000 as a result of folks rowing at gyms all over the country.  Today I rowed 2000 meters.  4 cents for charity. And my body is getting more coordinated.

Monday, January 23, 2012

At the Liberal Potluck

One of the first shows I remember watching on television as a teenager (my family was late to get technology) was one about a woman who infiltrated the Communist Party. This woman discovered that some of her neighbors were Communists. She reported them to the FBI and the FBI asked her to join so she could spy on them.
I’ve since read that at least half of the registered members of the Communist Party in the USA were FBI spies.
In the movie, this woman joined the Communists, went to their meetings and participated in their activities.
They sat around drinking tea and addressing envelopes. They didn’t even get to hear speeches about what was so exciting about Communism that they should put up with these boring meetings.
At the end of the movie, there was a court trial and this bored woman named her neighbors who had drunk tea and addressed envelopes is if those activities were crimes.
When I joined the Democratic Party a few years later (you couldn’t vote until age 21 in those days) I told the folks at campaign headquarters that I wanted to participate in any activities that would help elect Democrats. So, I was invited to meetings where I drank tea and addressed envelopes. I got so bored, I addressed some envelopes in Cyrillic alphabet.
And when the election came around – here is real proof of my ancient origins – I went door to door in the ghetto offering to babysit children while their mothers went to vote.
They took me up on it. Free babysitting. I have no idea if they really voted. Some of the moms were gone a very long time and came back with groceries.
Last night I was invited to the neighborhood liberal potluck. I baked an extra loaf of whole wheat bread, special for the occasion, thinking that the group would be of mixed ages and young people these days don’t know how to make bread.
There were no young people at the meeting. And we didn’t address envelopes. We didn’t even get tea. Instead we were told about where to obtain forms to register voters and instructed on how to obtain signatures to get President Barack Hussein Obama on the ballot in Pennsylvania. This is kind of tricky. We’ll need to obtain voter registration sheets so people can make sure they sign the petition the same way they signed their voter registration forms. Most people forget if they used a middle initial or spelled out their middle names, but if you don’t sign the petition exactly the way you signed your voter registration, your signature will be disqualified. You also have to sign neatly or the whole page of 50 signatures can be disqualified. I don’t know what they do for folks who have had strokes and whose handwriting has changed.
The most interesting thing I learned at the meeting was that the woman from Obama for America had been to the White House and had her picture taken with the President. This was the highlight of her life. Her great grandmother had been born into slavery and now, she was in the White House with the President and his wife.
There were no talks about how exciting is to be a Democrat, or a liberal.
Soon I’ll be going door to door collecting signatures. Most of my neighbors will be happy to sign. Most voters in Philadelphia are Democrats. I won’t be offering to babysit.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bicycle Conversations at the Grocery Store

The cart corral at my local grocery is convenient to the parking lot, but out-of-the-way if you park a bicycle beside the store. Wearing my helmet, sunglasses with rear-view mirrors, and carrying my pannier (bike bags) I spied a cart near the door, and walked briskly towards it.
An employee came out the door and started pushing it toward the corral.
“May I have that cart?”
“Sure. If you’ll tell me where you got those glasses with mirrors.”
I took off my glasses, and showed him how the mirrors were friction fit to the earpieces. You can put them on any glasses. The company only makes the left side mirror, but you can put one on the right if you put it on upside down and sideways.

I got through the store without many more questions. But when I tried to buy lake perch in the fish department, I learned that the store only gets them for about 6 weeks a year – in the spring. So why did I want them? Lake perch is a comfort food for me. My grandfather used to take me out in his boat on what we called Lake Grampie in Chetek Wisconsin. He’d catch a fish, come right home, clean and cook it. Sometimes my grandmother cooked it. Either way, fresh lake perch means time with my grandparents, morning glories on the laundry line, when the sun comes up, watching the neighborhood porcupine, boating on a freshwater lake, all is right with the world. I couldn’t even get a frozen perch. So, I bought some tuna, that the man behind the counter assured me was fresh caught.
At checkout, the saleswoman asked if my pannier were waterproof.
“That’s why I bought them. That and the fact that they have no zippers to break.” She’d been doing research on the web and come to the same conclusion I had that waterproof pannier are worth the extra cost. We discussed the merits of different sized bags. She wanted one that her laptop could fit inside. She concluded that the one I bought would do the job she needed. I told her if she needs something bigger, to check the Jandd brand. They’re available with waterproof covers, or completely waterproof models. They hold a grocery bag full of stuff, but they cost about twice the price of the one I bought.
I got the Axiom Monsoon model.

Then she asked if I wanted to donate my bag refund.
“No,” I said. “I just bought these pannier. I want them to pay for themselves. They’ll last me about 20 years, and a nickel each time I use them will just about break even.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Biorhythms and Interval Training

I was feeling good about my interval training on the elliptical machine.  I’d been doing 4 intervals of speed-up in 12 minutes and feeling energized when I got off the machine. 

Then, a week ago, I did 3 intervals and I felt tired.  My thoughts went into loops. Am I catching a cold? Am I getting weak? Is something seriously bad going on with my health?  After all, a few days before, I’d gotten a slipped disc in yoga.  Maybe my body was in a slump.  Waaaah!  

I’ve worked too hard, too long, in far too many ways, to let that happen.  But it was happening anyway.  I felt tired.  Me. After only three 30-second speed-ups.

Then I remembered something from the 70s.  Biorhythms.  Everybody has a cycle of bad days and good days.  Here’s a website with a free calculator:

Sure enough – I was at the bottom of my physical cycle.

Okay. I could expect my body to be stronger in a few days.  

And PostureDoc, a channel I subscribe to on YouTube, uploaded a video about interval training:

He made the point that I shouldn’t do a 2nd interval until my heart rate has returned to my normal range.   That isn’t necessarily 2 minutes, like I’d been doing.  The elliptical machines at my gym has a 50 second delay before displaying the heart rate.  So, during the speed up, my heart rate may look like it’s staying at about 116 bpm.  Then a minute later, it will jump up to 148 or higher.  So, it may take 3 minutes to get back to my normal range.  And even then, I may still have an oxygen debt.  

I noticed that after each subsequent interval, it takes a bit longer to return to my normal heart rate.  But if I wait for it, I can do 4 intervals even at the bottom of my biorhythm cycle.  It may take longer that 12 minutes, but what’s a few minutes when the goal is a lifetime of an active body?   

Friday, January 6, 2012

Good Deeds?

When possible, I like to connect people I think could help each other. Often it works out. I recommended Young PT to a computer client who damaged her rotator cuff. I share recipes and baking samples with neighbors. 

And I thought it would be helpful when one of my computer clients had outgrown her computer, to suggest she donate it to another client who runs a non-profit and could use another computer.
Used computers aren’t worth much on the resale market, so freedom from the hassle of selling the old machine plus a tax write-off can be a good deal. 

First the non-profit client had health problems and had to put off picking up the old computer. Then she decided she wanted some program that can be downloaded from the web installed before picked it up.  I donated that. Eventually, the transfer took place.

My client contacted me.  The non-profit hadn’t sent her a donor letter to use for her tax write-off.

I contacted the non-profit.  The non-profit woman was having problems with the used computer and thought it wasn’t worth much.  She said she would write the donor letter for a $50 value machine.   I sent her links to the tax revenue websites showing that it is not up to her to place a value on the donated item. She only needs to write a letter thanking the donor for a computer. 

This turned into a heated argument in which I wound up telling her that if she did not write the donor letter without an estimated value for the computer, I would never suggest anybody donate anything to her again.

She agreed to write the letter.  

Months went by.  No letter.  

She said she writes all the letters for the year in January.  Weird, but okay – the letter will arrive before tax time.

The first week of January, my client contacted me.  Where was her donor letter?

This time I sent an email to both of them, reminding the non-profit woman that she had promised to send the letter and because of the promise I expect her to do it.  

A few days later, the non-profit woman emailed me back that she had written the letter.