Archive for April, 2007

Tales from the Gym – Extreme Sweating

Who knew that the world of extreme sports could extend into a gym – much less a sauna? Who knew it could involve sitting as still as possible for as long as possible?

Wikipedia tells me that an extreme sport “…is any sport featuring speed, height, danger, a high level of physical exertion, highly specialized gear, or spectacular stunts.” I would have thought such activities would require tall mountains, deep oceans, steep hills, an airplane. And yet, as I witnessed, all you need to do is wear a wetsuit into a 200 degree sauna. And then sit there without moving for a really long time. You’ve got your danger (heat stroke), high level of physical exertion (dodging heat stroke), highly-specialized (if dreadfully misused) gear, and a spectacular stunt indeed. Maybe even speed – though not in the spirit with which Wiki meant it – as I’m sure that water is evacuated from the human body at a dizzying rate under such conditions.

I’m glad I was still in the sauna when the extreme-sporting woman in question quietly got up and walked out. After all, knowing whether to call such an endeavor an extreme sport or suicide depends on whether or not the practitioner walks away.

Add comment April 20th, 2007

Running a ½ Marathon – an Optimists Guide for the Impatient and Ill-Prepared IV

It was like that scene in Hidalgo – where Viggo Mortensen’s character looks back and sees a monumental Arabian desert sandstorm whirling up behind him and his horsehidalgo1.jpg. They race for shelter and barely make it to safety behind a convenient wall. A few minutes later they stagger out, spitting sand out of their mouths; Vig pouring what was once water – now encrusted sand – out of his water skin. With a slight change of principle characters and location, that was me – out for a training run the other day on Santa Monica beach. Malibu, which is generally perfectly visible, was totally obliterated by the crazy Santa Ana winds. A sane person would have gone home… but when you’re in training, you’ve got to persevere. So instead of being sane, I stuck it out and compiled a list of fun things to do while running through a sandstorm on the beach:

1. Multitask! Since the sand is already scouring away all of your exposed skin, just think about the exfoliating you won’t have to do in the shower.

2. Did you know that your eyes need exfoliating too?

3. Prolonged exposure to an aggressive sandstorm can be an excellent way to remove protein buildup from your contact lenses.

4. If you’ve never taken a moment to be grateful that your nose acts as a sophisticated filter, now is the time.

5. Been awhile since your last visit to the dentist? No problem – even if you don’t open your mouth, sand will somehow infiltrate and get caught between your teeth. Surely it’s removing tartar, and giving you a brighter, whiter smile.

6. This is a great chance to develop strategic thinking skills! While running with your eyes closed and dodging fleeing tourists, you can also contemplate whether you are more likely to be decapitated by a flying street sign on a side road or on the beach path!

7. Also a great opportunity to hear the Doppler effect in action. Note how your fellow beach-goers screams get louder and then softer as you run past them with your eyes closed?

8. When the sheets of flying dagger-like sand become unbearably painful, you can huddle down next to a public beach toilet and watch the other crazies who are walking, running, or riding bikes while doubled over with their eyes closed.

9. When else will you consider carrying your new mini iPod in your mouth for its own safety?

10. When you finally stagger home, no need to tell everyone that your all-over-body rosy hue came from taking a violent sand-bath; let them assume you’ve been sunkissed.

Add comment April 19th, 2007

Poesie Quotidienne - Characters I

Venice I – Mad Maxx crossed with the Professor from Back to the Future, playing a mermaid-muraled piano on the beach with wild energy and considerable talent.

Venice II – a young man wearing a knee length tunic, turban, and knee pads, rolling gently down the Venice Boardwalk with a beatific smile while playing a cordless electric guitar.

Beverly Hills I – a painter right out of the 19th century, complete with smock, palette and easel, set up on the side of Santa Monica Boulevard at rush hour, doing a sketch of the outside of a shopping mall.

Beverly Hills II – a bicyclist, clearly down with his Zen, riding the wrong way down a major thoroughfare at rush hour, arms crossed across his chest, eyes closed.

Beverly Hills III – random driver stopped next to me at a traffic signal, urging me to roll down my window with great urgency and enthusiasm. Turns out, he’d spotted my Montana license plates and wanted to talk about Big Sky Country.

Add comment April 19th, 2007

Tales from the Gym – Proselytized by Euphemisms

Affectionate nicknames for the Almighty, as shared by the FROBSS ladies in the sauna this evening:

“The Big Boss”

“My Senior Partner”

“Lou” (stands for “Lord of the Universe”; chosen for its gender-neutrality)

“Sai Baba” (I think this refers to Sathya Sai Baba, a guru who lives in Puttaparthi, in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, India.)

Add comment April 19th, 2007

Poesie Quotidienne – Cats and Mice

Sam and I were talking about cats the other day, wondering how to characterize their apparent delight in torturing creatures smaller than themselves. We agreed that to human sensibilities, it looks diabolic. Imagine a cat wavering between rapt attention and boredom as it bats a mouse back and forth between its paws. Chasing the mouse into various places from which it cannot escape, just to watch it run. Alternately preventing and enabling the mouse’s escape; all in the interest of an afternoon’s diversion. Occasionally nibbling slightly on the mouse to make it run differently, more interestingly.

Torture, right?

But I’m always suspicious of the inclination to project very human emotions and perceptions onto animals, in an attempt to universalize the normalcy of the human experience.

In his pithy way, Sam cut my philosophizing short when he wondered aloud… “Maybe cats want pets too?”

Add comment April 17th, 2007

Ambient Inspiration I

“Lead with your body and your heart will follow”

I like this idea, as it gently debunks the notion that the only ideas worth following are the ones that are accompanied by a warm and fuzzy feeling of happy certainty. In fact, when I think back on some of the times that intuition has worked most strongly in my life, it generally announced itself with considerably different emotions – ambivalence, dread, fear, nausea, occasionally even apathy. This is, I think, because my intuition is least mistakable when it’s urging me to do something out of my ordinary. And yet, when I followed, I rarely regretted the decision. Most (though not all) of the time, I was delighted beyond anything I could have imagined.

A similar saying that I’ve always loved: “when you pray move your feet.”

I think the two combined make for a powerful reminder indeed:

Desire doesn’t have to come from your heart to be true – sometimes it comes from the head and feels more like homework.

Whether it feels like desire or homework, articulating the desire is important, as is taking physical action.

Finally, if you lead with your body, you greatly increase your chances of feeling genuine enthusiasm and seeing results.

Add comment April 17th, 2007

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