Burn Baby Biceps Burn

Started spinning. No not in circles to get dizzy, as much fun as that sounds, but the stationary bike kind. A relatively new place called Revolution Spin opened not far from my house. For years a part of my brain told me that I should do this during the long winter between biking seasons. Didn’t do that but I did start this summer.

Began with straight forward Level l spin class. Kicked my butt!! Breathing heavy from minute 1 through minute 40. After a few times I wanted more pain. Fortunately they have hour-long spin and stretch and core and spin and strength classes. Two days after the spina and core, my stomach muscles wailed in pain. I thought no class could be worse. Then I did spin and strength.

Both classes are taught by Tyrone, an ex-Marine who does an excellent job of motivating through a combination of encouragement and embarrassment. He drives the 40 minute spin extra hard since we are not getting a full hour of that. I wait until long after class for my breath to catch up. But then on to the 20 minutes of free weights. Not high numbers of pounds but very high numbers of reps. Until you feel the burn and then your burn burns.

Admittedly,  weights are a small part of my already minimal workout routine. I can go weeks, even months without touching weights. That meant that the gap between this intense workout and my readiness for it was off the charts. And yet I pushed as hard as I could.

Later that day I felt a bit sore but that’s good right? Let’s call that Day Zero. Day One my biceps screamed with pain. They throbbed the whole day. I could barely lift a fork. Day Two was actually worse. The pain level held while my arms were stuck at a 45 degree angle.  Any attempt to straighten them out caused waves of sharp and intense pain through my arms.

This lasted all through Day 5. Yes 5.  I am not the most fun, upbeat guy to start with. When in pain, serious pain, I make Attila the Hun seem like a sweetheart.  5 friggin’ days. Slowly I finally regained use of my arms. 

Yes I will probably take this class again. I will take the time to prepare by touching weights in advance…and have a morphine drip on call.

Minor Characters

You know how sometimes in a play or movie there are these characters with minor roles that greatly enhance the show?

On a recent business trip to NY I encountered three people who struck me in an odd way.  I was overcome with this sense that in the movie of my life, or more appropriately the movie that is my life, in a two-day period I happened upon three people who would have made the final credits though towards the bottom of the list.  More than  extras but less than leading or supporting roles.  They all had small speaking parts in scenes that helped the audience, if there had been one, understand me as a person and added more than mere plot.  Let me present them in order of appearance.

The first is “Elevator Man”. As the scene opens I am in my hotel room dressing for dinner with clients at a nice restaurants. Though I am a blue jeans and T Shirt kind of guy I need to be in a suit for this event.  As I wait for the elevator i lament that I need to be dressed in more than business casual attire.  As the elevator door opens I smile and shake my head. The only other passenger is a guy in his 50s (I am guessing) medium height, thinning dark hair, with the air of an executive but the clothes a casual m. He was in a V neck sweatshirt with a deep V and no shirt underneath, a running jacket and blue jeans  (OK the jeans were designer and probably cost more than several pairs of my Levis). I had to say something. “That is how I wish I was dressed.” He glanced over at me and said, “I was dressed like you all day. You must still be on the job. ”  “Yeah. Business dinner.” As the elevator reached the lobby we exchanged, have a good nights and he headed to the door. I met my client in the lobby. The screen goes dark.

Next meet, Young Italian Lawyer.   In order to get into the place we wanted to have dinner that night we needed clout. Clout came in the form of the law firm that hosted my client’s meeting those two days. Three of us walked out of our hotel and headed to the law offices in order to meet Joseph, the young lawyer who was low enough on the totem pole that he got assigned to walk the clients to the restaurant , flash the firm’s special membership card and then leave. We joked that this would be the easiest chargeable hour he had in a long time.

To our pleasant surprise “Joe”, not Joseph, was personable and interesting. He shared stories of how his firm was representing NBA players in the lockout and that in his prior job he had assisted in negotiating the contract of some famous NY Jets player. He was tall, slender, good-looking and dressed like a fashionable young lawyer. He was not the least bit down at having this menial late night task. We had a modestly long walk together and he both entertained and listened.  We offered to at least share a drink if not dinner but he politely excused himself.  His job was done and he would not intrude.  The restaurant was fun, the food good and the wine excellent. Yet Joe was the hit of the night.

On the plane ride home the odds rolled in my favor. Not only did i get on an earlier flight but so did my client and by the longest of odds we found ourselves seated next to each other on the plane. At this point I need to mention that she is one of my favorite clients. Both good at what she does and fun to be with. We were in the window and center seats which left the aisle seat to be filled. Let me introduce Aisle Guy.

This client and I regularly joke back and forth. Aisle guy jumped right in as if we had known him for years. If this had been a serious private conversation that might have been annoying and a bit rude. I suspect Aisle Guy only took the initiative because the conversation was light and barbs were being tossed right and left.  By the end of the flight we knew that he was in sales, the company he worked for, what part of NY he lived in and lots about his twin girls. Pictures were shared.

Over the years i have interacted with hundreds if not thousands of these minor characters. I am not sure why these three brought this theme to my mind. All I can say is that they made the movie better.

9 Is Not 15

Alternative Title, “Don’t Sit Across From A Mirror In The Locker Room”.

From the beginning. Fifty-one days ago I set a goal to lose 15 pounds in 50 days by 55. Saturday was 50 days and the completion of my 55th year on the planet. At the time the goal seemed challenging but reasonable…and necessary. The time passed but too many of the pounds stayed.

Yes, losing 9 pounds is “better than nothing” however, I have always thought this was a poor standard and something people say because they think it will make you feel better even though it never makes them feel better when they hear it from someone else. I do feel and look better with 9 less pounds but I am not where I want to be. So what went wrong?

Well, everything and nothing. The nothing. I said from the start that I intended to lose weight in a way that I could maintain. I did not want to take anything or do anything that once I stopped the weight would return. That I have done. The good news. I dramatically cut my processed sugar intake. Using fruit as a substitute I gave up candy, cake, etc. for 5 weeks. I weakened in the last two weeks but I can come back from that. Prior to that I would have something with lots of sugar most days. Candy bars and  muffins topped the list. I also cut down my caffeinated coffee intake from 5 to 3 cups a week. I expected these two changes plus some added exercise  to be worth close to 15 pounds over 50 days. No such luck.

The everything. I cannot stop eating. The quality has generally been better (more fruits and veggies, lower fat) but if I have one portion then I have three. Not sure what drives that behavior. Rationally I say every day, before every eating opportunity, that I will exercise self-control. But in the heat of the moment something evil takes over my brain. It isn’t even like the cartoons with the devil on one shoulder and an angel on another — there is no angel.

I know people with amazing self-control. They are goal oriented. They do what they say they will do. Apparently that is not me. Darn

So I am working toward my next goal. By Mitch’s birthday, exactly one month after mine, I will drop the six pounds I wanted off in the first place. The sad thing is that to get to where I was just 5 years ago I have several pounds after that. Baby steps. (Remember the movie “What About Bob” with Bill Murray. Hilarious. But I digress.)

Onward and downward. Off with the waist. Getting rid of my Fat Wish (some people have a death wish, mine is a little different.)

…Well you get the point. Check in around July 18. Maybe I’ll do pictures. Maybe.

I’M Sick Of It

In my day, the olden days, sometimes people just got sick. Now everything is a syndrome or disorder with a strange name and probably some acronym. I am sick of these. Of course for every syndrome there is a pill — typically with side effects that would keep me from ever using the cure.

Today I read about a new one that tops all that came before it.  POIS. I am sure you must have heard of it. No? It stands for post-orgasmic illness syndrome (I told you that they are all syndromes).

What are the symptoms of PIOS you ask? As described in an article in the Chicago Tribune, POIS is when men are allergic to their own semen, developing a mysterious flu-like illness after they have an ejaculation. Seriously? I do not intend to make light of the poor schmucks who suffer from this debilitating illness. Symptoms include feverishness, runny nose, extreme fatigue and burning eyes, which can last for up to a week.

No, I come to make fun of the researchers in the Netherlands who found these men and chose to study them only to come up with some asinine name like post-orgasmic illness syndrome.

Is there any illness left to discover and name. I get it with astronomers naming planets and stars…but illnesses.

I long for the good old days when you could just be sick.

The Dick Van Dyke Show And Me

In an interview, Dick Van Dyke proclaimed that of all of the movies and TV work he is known for, his days making the Dick Van Dyke Show were the most fun.

That the cast was having fun certainly came through. I have wonderful memories of that show. How could you not laugh hysterically with Dick, Laura, Sally, Buddy , Mel, Alan Brady and the rest of the cast. It integrated physical comedy, low brow one liners, a bit of high comedy and the occasional song and dance number delivered by characters you could relate to.

It only lasted 5 season because that comic genius Carl Reiner was concerned that the show could get stale. How different from today’s “squeeze every last moment’ (read dollar) from a TV show.

So, how does this wonderful TV history involve me? I had a good year at work this year. I worked myself to near-death but it paid of in a decent bonus. I wanted to reward myself with a treat. The BIG treat will be a digital SLR if I ever figure out what to buy. In the meantime I went looking for something small. I decided that I wanted, no needed, The DVD Show complete series. I had looked at this from time to time over the years. It lists for about $250. I would not spend that much.

The day after Christmas was the first day I had time to internet shop. Sure enough it was on sale at Amazon for $115. Still a little high but this was by definition a treat. I dropped it in my virtual shopping cart along with some other items. I did not push the buy button because I was still figuring out what camera to add. Anyways, if it was on sale the day after Christmas it would be on sale for the week. Right? Wrong! Two days later it was up to $165 and another day later to $183 where it sits today. Too rich for my blood.

I brooded for days. I kept checking the price, sometimes more than once a day. No change. I did not have the heart to search for another treat. I had chosen this.

Pricing in retail makes little sense to me. The same item can be worth very different amounts in a heart beat. Why is that? Why would the retailer not give you the lower price the next day if you asked. I could not find a way on the Amazon website to even ask.

Then serendipity intervened. After 10 days of checking the prices on the complete series package, I noticed that Amazon cut the price in half of the individual seasons. Add it up. I could now get all five seasons individually for a total of $96 or the complete set for $183. I ordered the five seasons as fast as I could click.

They arrived a couple of days ago. The big decision now is whether to start with the very first episode or the pilot which was named “Head of the Family” and starred Carl Reiner. 25 disks to go. I am thinking about having a DVD marathon party. 24/7. Anyone interested?

Now this is a treat.

ps. As I went went to YouTube to find the opening to add I find that you can find view episodes for free there. What a world.

Cold Day To Ride

The day began cold. At the time I hopped on my bike to go meet Ed it was 33 degrees (F).  I am certain that I have never ridden in colder weather. Why was I doing this now?

Actually the why part is easy. That was the day Ed was available, I like riding with Ed and Ed did one of those “are you a man” things to me. How could I resist?

It was really freakin’ cold. Other than the fahrenheit it was a beautiful autumn day. Sunny sky and hardly any wind. Except that the act of riding creates wind. It felt cold.

I reminded myself that there was a time when I would run in temps as low as 20 F as long as the wind was not too strong and it was not snowing at the time. Then I remembered that I was 25 years younger in those days.

Ok. How to dress. Leave as little uncovered skin as possible. Since the legs would be moving focus on keeping warm from the waist up.

Five layers from waist to neck. Light “wicking” long sleeve shirt as a base. Covered by a heavier base layer, a biking shirt (not much for heat but in honor of the event), a hooded sweatshirt (don’t use the hood but this helps provide next coverage, and a windbreaker. Running tights and bike shorts. Left the nylon windbreaking pants at home. Turned out to be the right call but only barely. Heavy pair of bike socks, full finger bike gloves, head covering that looks like a large yarmulke but also covers my ears under the helmet.

 Not sure at the start if this is enough but it was time to go. I bike 9 miles to where I meet Ed and I did not want him standing around in the cold. Initially I am chilled but it is manageable. By the 45 minutes it takes to meet Ed most of me is tolerably comfortable. The index fingers in both hands are truly cold. Can’t seem to warm them up. I wish I had mittens instead of gloves.

11 miles later we are in Lake Forest at our turning around point. Normally I do not like to take long breaks during rides but I insist on heading to Starbucks. By now my entire right hand feels like an ice-cube. It hurts.

A round of hot tea for all — all being Ed and me. There are other bikers in the place. Lake Forest is a wealthy north suburb of Chicago surrounded by other wealthy suburbs. I could not afford a house in that town. Maybe 1/3 of a house. The point being that while Ed and I have a hodgepodge of clothes on, these other bikers have hi-tech winter riding gear. From the fancy jackets to outsized riding shoes, (probably with electric, computer controlled warming devices inside — just a guess) they look ready for any weather.

As we warm up I suppress the urge to scream as my right hand thaws. The pain is intense. But the warm of the room and the tea does its magic. I am ready for the 20 miles back home. As a pleasant surprise, the temp has risen by several  degrees and the cold is not a problem for the remainder of the ride. The fact that I am out of shape and my leg muscles ache is another story for another post.

Of course, as I pen this post the next day, it has been a beautiful day with a high of sixty. Much better riding weather. But not as good of a story.

Beware of Flaming Turkeys

Thanksgiving for me has always been a day of too much food and too much family (we spend time with both sets of parents and siblings).  Uncomfortable yes (too much food) but never dangerous.

I guess I was wrong!

The Chicago Tribune reported that there were more cooking fires on Thanksgiving than any other day.  The increase has come as more people have decided to deep fry their turkeys without learning some of the basic rules. So before you ruin your holiday by burning down the house, there are some tips from the Chicago Tribune. This is my fav:

•Oil and water don’t mix. When ice comes into contact with hot oil, the water vaporizes, causing steam bubbles to pop and spray hot oil. So don’t fry a frozen turkey or use ice or water to cool oil or extinguish an oil fire. Use an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fires and call 911.

One would hope that before using a fryer that the fryee would check out basics such as don’t throw in the turkey while frozen.  I also like the note to call 911 as your house burns to the ground. I first put this in the category of stupid instructions that you get with every instruction manual that assumes people have no intelligence or common sense. Then I thought about the mid-term elections and given the audience…

I hear turkey frying is most popular amongst tea partiers and conservative Republicans. That is not from the Trib. just a rumor I heard.