We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, July 26. 2015
Saturday, July 25. 2015
Most foods have little resemblance to their natural origins. They have been domesticated and are "unnatural." Human genius defeating a cruel nature.
A book I'd like to read: Maize for the Gods: Unearthing the 9,000-Year History of Corn
Wild maize is a grass, with the fruit/seed about an inch long. Were it not for those ancient Central American genetic engineers, we'd have neither grits nor polenta.
Photo is teosintas, ancestor of domestic maize
In direct sun, there is a greenish cast but in shade or lower light they appear black. Except for a little old rust pitting, they look almost brand new. You can now read on the underside that they were made in Bridgeport.
Besides rusting to bits, another reason why these sorts of things are so scarce is because of iron-collection drives during WW1.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 04:04 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, July 21. 2015
Reposted by popular request. If the reader is strong, fit for most physical challenges in life, and in good shape, then this is all irrelevant and should be ignored.
- Weight loss is mostly a separate subject from physical fitness training. Adipose tissue (fat, the revolting yellow lard that burdens your body and heart especially, and drives surgeons nuts by makes their scalpels greasy and slippery) is very easy to accumulate and difficult to burn off. It's like the opposite of money.
- Your energy storage consists mainly of carbs stored as sugar (glycogen - the petty cash drawer of energy) and carbs converted into sugar and then into fat if the sugar isn't burned right away (the long-term investment which is more difficult to access and burn). It's been calculated that the average Western citizen has enough stored energy to walk 600-1000 miles. A gift of evolution.
- To burn fat as fuel, you have to restrict sugar (ie, carbs). The resulting condition is known as ketosis, and can make your breath smell funny. It is thought that your body can speed up its ability to mobilize fat as an energy source, when carb-limited.
- There is a myth about good carbs and bad carbs. This really only applies to diabetics. All dietary carbs are converted to sugar, even potatoes. That's why all the talk about dietary sugar itself is nonsense. We've all seen people have a Splenda in their coffee with their whole wheat bagel. Are you kidding me? A little sugar is 10 calories and the bagel is 300 calories. Many people do not understand that all carbs become sugar during digestion. Yes, even brown rice and whole wheat bread. If you need the microscopic amount of protein in them you are in real trouble.
-To attain a target weight, you have to restrict but not totally eliminate carbs from the diet. One or two slices of bread and one apple is plenty of daily carbs for a weight loss program, along with the relatively small amount of carbs in vegetables.
- As I have posted in the past, exercise, especially intense exertion, has numerous health and life benefits but is an ineffective way to try lose fat without the primary dietary component. The reason is that the body burns carbs preferentially. It's easier for it to do. The body is set up to protect its long-term investment in case of starvation conditions and it is happy to store as much as you will offer it. It's a sponge.
- In middle age, metabolism slows for both men and women. Menopause, especially. Caloric needs drop substantially regardless of activity level. Accumulating fat becomes easier, and getting rid of it becomes more difficult. Best just not to accumulate it.
- It is true that, the minute your feeling of hunger goes away, you have probably had enough to eat. Also true that, in the prosperous Western world, feeding has become a recreation, an event, or a self-soothing therapy or a cure for boredom, and a clockwork routine, and both hunger and satiety signals are thrown to the winds. For example, many sedentary people will eat a lunch simply "because it's lunchtime."
- It is also true that intense daily exercise reduces appetite in most people. It has to be intense, though.
- The less you eat, the more your stomach shrinks and thus the quicker you are satisfied. If you pay attention to it, that is.
Now to fitness, not weight loss
- As for physical conditioning (but not for weight loss), it is true that anything beyond full-day sedentary is good. Maintaining mobility and ordinary functionality is a good thing. Use it or lose it. The more activity demands you put on yourself during the day, of any sort, the better off you will be.
- To maintain good conditioning in middle age and later age requires either day-long physical labor or a more compact, more intense, daily or every other day effort and commitment for those whose lives are basically sedentary. That is most of us in our luxurious, decadent era. (Walking around counts as sedentary as does weekend sports or yard work.) Otherwise, there will be more physical deterioration than we want.
- I agree with all who say that serious weight training is the best way to do that. I agree that intense weight training and high-intensity aerobics are the most efficient ways to improve or maintain physical conditioning at any age.
- a physically-stressful weight training program requires some protein for muscle repair and construction. It doesn't require very much, but it requires some small amounts during the day. A whole steak or fish filet is not necessary, but an egg or one slice of meat 3 or 4 times daily is plenty sufficient protein for a demanding program. Adult humans do not need much protein - except for pleasure.
- It is true that light, high-rep workouts and non-intense aerobics (meaning if you can breathe relatively comfortably) have minimal benefits, but they do make people feel good, reduce anxiety, and help with sleep. That counts for something. Better than nothing.
- Being fit will likely not extend your life, but could make it more pleasant, energetic, and functional. It will make you more attractive too.
- It has become clear to me that fitness and fatness is a class- and culture-related topic. In the US, poor people tend to be fatter and less active. I don't know why that is. For what's it is worth, Pres. Obama does a tough workout for an hour each morning with a trainer before he does anything else. So did Bush. Good examples for those of us who sit on our behinds most of the day to earn a living.
- Gluttony is a sin, deadly spiritually and literally like lust. Prosperous Romans ate until over-full, puked in the vomitorium, then went at it again. For fun. Their slaves were healthier than the patricians. Adult people do not need much food to be healthy and strong. On the other hand, fitness is a secular, esthetic, and practical virtue. I have never been able to think of my body as a temple but it sure comes in handy.
- Why are Americans overweight? Cheap food, habit, hedonism, TV, internet, prosperity, machines, minimal hard work to be done. It's no mystery.
A fairly good piece on the physiology: Fat Metabolism During Exercise: New Concepts
Monday, July 20. 2015
Caramoor in Westchester County, NY, is a year-round treat but most fun for their outdoor summer concerts. Like Tanglewood, really, but without the Great Lawn. For classical music, they get the worldwide best and it's an elegant venue. Their Beethoven Violin Concerto yesterday was dynamite. Always loved that piece, but who doesn't?
For a cool long-weekend spot for outdoor activities (and it is cooler in those mountains, but not far north of NYC) - Mohonk Mountain House. This venerable place was a favorite getaway of my Grandpa. Some of my kidlings were there this weekend, sent me this pic from a stroll (or horse) around their multi-thousand-acre property:
I have kayaked in ponds, lakes, marshes, on the Hudson River (upstream is a bitch), in the Caribbean, and out in big salt water over the years. Except on quiet ponds, it's a good workout to go a few miles, especially in wavy gravy and wind. I have never done white water but yesterday we had to deal with lots of wake from cigarette boats, ferries, etc. Fun.
Kayaks have almost entirely replaced canoes for water recreation. Even Old Town Canoe makes kayaks. It's a good thing for older folks with bad knees or lower back issues because it's all upper body - torso, shoulders, arms.
I realized yesterday when Mrs. BD and I did a couple of miles in a good sea chop that I never even watched an instructional video. Thus, a kayak post. I realize that I have been trying to strong-arm the craft instead of using my entire body to move it. Also, I was not making "the box."
My Mom loved to kayak the upper Connecticut River, the Housatonic, and the Cape Cod lakes and marshes in her 80s. A pip, as I have said before. Like me, she did not know the word "relax." The old-time Yankees never sat down except for a cocktail, and the old gal weighed the same at 80 as at 25. Energetic and a small appetite, like her kids.
Kayaking-Basic Paddling Techniques
Kayaking For Fitness
How to Kayak : How to Not Capsize your Kayak
How to Roll a Kayak
This is fun: My First Big Shark from the Kayak
Search Youtube - there are tons of videos
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:31 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, July 19. 2015
I am not sure I believe this story, but who knows? Is it permitted to say that he does not sound very manly?
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:04 | Comments (17) | Trackbacks (0)
I am still on my routine with my trainer 3 mornings per week. Am I getting stronger? There is no doubt. More tired? Certainly. Fat loss is just a bonus. Posture? Better. As I have said, during my hour with him he works me to a pulp. Am I growing older? Afraid so, but I want to be able to kick ass all the way down. Is Mrs. BD interested in my new fitness? Ask her.
My current "days off" from him now entail some of the following: a set of various types of crunches, 50-100 calf lifts, 20 pushups, 2 sets of dumbell presses, 2 sets of dumbbell rows, a set of light deadlifts, and as many squats+weights combined with lighter military presses as I can do, to the breaking point. All interspersed with max intensity 4-10 minute elliptical, rowing, and bike "rest breaks" so the whole damn thing is cardio-plus - no return to resting pulse. Maybe pound some medicine balls. Max 30-second breaks between most except heavy lifts. This is just enough to keep my body "awake" for my next ordeal with my master. That's it.
I try to pack that light workout into less than an hour, early in the morning, but some I have to do at home when I have a break. I will not do heavy barbell benches without a spotter because I am not that strong or experienced - but I can bench double from where I began. My goal is to bench my weight 10 times but I may never get there. My favorite weight exercise? Dead lifts. We call it "bending over and picking things up." I call lunges with heavy hands (kettle balls) "the Costo walk."
And you wonder why I am tired all day. Does it feel good? Yes it does. Do I enjoy lunges with heavy hands? Nope. Does he make me do them? Yup. Low carbs? Yup.
By the end of the summer, I think I'll be ready to drop down to twice/week with my boss and to follow his instructions on my own. It's a friendly small gym, cheap, zero glitz, no Lululemon etc. - and you are allowed to grunt. Roughly half men and half women, ages 25-85 and ranging from great shape to terrible shape. I am sort-of in the middle. It's about fitness and conditioning, not body-building. No anorectics there either.
On Sundays, I just do church and yard and housework or maybe something Mrs. wants to do. Kayak, sail, or go to NYC. It is all an interesting adventure. As a sedentary worker, I am at war with Father Time. Why not? I think we'll kayak and swim today, not for exercise but just for fun.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:17 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, July 16. 2015
We have plenty of spare room and love to have house guests. I have never had any complaints about them at all. Sure, you have to provide some entertainment and activity options, but that's just fun anyway. We have a list of seasonal options. My only house rule is No Noisy Sex and Don't Scare the Horses.
On the other hand, I hate being a house guest. Really hate it. It feels like prison to me. I tiptoe around early in the morning, afraid of making noise. I can't do my usual routine. I can't stumble around in my underwear. No alone time. I have to wait to be offered a cocktail. Where can I enjoy a cigar? I can't raid the fridge at midnight. Would they ever ask me back? "Make yourself at home." What? How?
If they have a guest house or guest cabin, great. Perfect for me no matter how primitive. Even an outhouse is fine. Many people do not have those.
Readers, offer me your advice to make being a house guest more comfortable. Or are you like me and prefer being a host to being a guest?
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:04 | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, July 15. 2015
A common nightmare has teeth falling out of one's mouth. I have always had pretty bad teeth. And, like all normal people, I hate going to the dentist and I hate the costs incurred. Implants are expensive. A few weeks ago, we posted about Perfect Teeth. I don't need perfect teeth, just strong functional teeth that don't look like I am from England. Lost 2 front teeth playing ice hockey when I was 15, and it's been downhill since then.
There are new technologies now that will make implants obsolete, make removable false teeth obsolete, create large, perfect bridges held in by metal bars, etc.
Yesterday we linked this: Stem-Cell Dental Implants Grow New Teeth Right In Your Mouth That sounds cool, but this is even better: Digital Dentistry - 3D printing makes digital dentistry happen. This is readily available today, and plenty cheaper than implants. The 3-D jaw MRI just takes a minute, and the 3-D printing technology then makes it all happen with a perfect fit.
Guy told me that I could bite spare ribs in half with those titanium bridges. Great party trick. I want some. As I commented to friends this weekend, when they burn me to ashes those teeth will still be chattering in the fire.
3D printing makes digital dentistry happen- See more at: http://www.stratasys.com/industries/dental#sthash.1TQxxtcq.dpuf
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:15 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, July 14. 2015
Well, it is always full of people so there's that.
Readers know that my rule for museums is to go to see a specific, limited set of things, a 1 hr and 15 min time limit, and walk in the halls to your item destination with blinders on so as not to get distracted by other interesting things. It's too easy to get overstimulated and a case of the deadly museum-brain.
Mrs. BD and I zoomed in Sunday afternoon to catch the Sargent show. No rush to see - it's there until September. (Yes, we always use the earphone thingies)
Sargent had lots of friends, and painted them. Most interesting to me was that, as soon as he became rich enough from his society portraits, he turned to what he loved most which was Impressionist landscape, sometimes with people but with no facial features at all. Died 1925.
A few of my pics of Sargent's pics below the fold -
Continue reading "John Singer Sargent"
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:00 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, July 13. 2015
We gave the lad a pair of some serious London-built Peal &Co. quality shoes for his birthday this weekend. Doubt he would ever do that for himself, which is what birthdays are for.
Our link to Men's shoe maintenance, and other shoe topics
As a thanks, he sent me this good one. Sounds like a cross between Roger Miller and Bob Dylan:
Not entirely unrelated, Shoes For Industry:
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:06 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, July 11. 2015
Fancy machines are not necessary for interesting pictures (not that an iPhone is a comprehensible or un-fancy machine to me). Real cameras seem to be becoming seen as clunky, obsolete artifacts except for nature documentation, Japanese tourists, fashion photogs, and the press corps. Often, imperfect and flawed photos are good and fun to look at. Photos from 1900 are wonderful.
In general, I try to avoid taking photos. "Why would I want to do that?" I will never look at them again.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:00 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, July 9. 2015
Wednesday, July 8. 2015
Tuesday, July 7. 2015
A generation or two ago, many or most middle-aged people acted and looked old, stodgy, and even weary. This Youtube is good, re fitness for the over-50 set. It's not an ad for Crossfit but it does show what the middle-aged can do to keep on truckin'. I think the group experience adds something extra to it all, besides lowering the cost of the training:
Sunday, July 5. 2015
Was human evolution inevitable, or do we owe our existence to a once-in-a-universe stroke of luck?
God puzzles me. I can see him creating a lion or a butterfly, but why such a mediocre thing as humans? Perhaps he was lonely, but he could have done better.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:13 | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)
I can hit the windshield of a fast-moving car with a snowball, but I can't do the math of it.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:56 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, July 3. 2015
I have never been quite clear about what "studying" littacher means. (I do know the difference between aggressive reading and passive diversionary reading.) However, there are a few "critics" - I think of them as "illuminators", who are wonderful to read on the topics of books and authors. Books about books, which are literary works in themselves. Harold Bloom is one, another is John Updike, and I can list a few more who I enjoy like Edmund Wilson, Lionel Trilling, Walter Benjamin.
I also enjoy learning from experts about how stories (or songs or pictures or poems) are structured, the hidden architecture.
In the end, people do love well-told stories and well-depicted ideas and things, regardless of the medium. When stories, for example, are very well-written and constructed, the delight in the words adds a lot to the tale (eg rosy-fingered dawn). Craft, talent, inspiration, penetrating intelligence, wide knowledge, insight into human nature, magic - the things most of us lack but admire and even envy.
I would take a class with Bloom, but what about "studying littacher" in an ordinary high school or college? This via Schneiderman's Are Literature Departments Doomed? (but not his view):
From McInnes on The Reality Disconnect:
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:33 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, July 1. 2015
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Edward Pincus let Chen off with probation—for murder—after an anthropologist testified that, in Chinese culture, the shame of a man being cuckolded justified murder…. The female head of the Asian-American Defense and Education Fund, Margaret Fung, applauded Chen’s light sentence, saying that a harsher penalty would “promote the idea that when people come to America they have to give up their own way of doing things. This is an idea we cannot support.”
Saturday, June 27. 2015
I love the Maine woods for hunting and fishing, and the crazy state of Maine in general (to visit) but my problem is that the water is too cold for comfortable swimming, unlike the Cape where it is just invigorating.
A family friend just sent me this snap of my Dad (L) and my Mom (R) with a friend on the friend's lawn on Monhegan Island, Maine. My parents had 5 kids at that point, so it was good for them to get adult-oriented breaks.
The list at that Wiki link of the artists etc. who have had summer homes on Monhegan is impressive.
Photo below is the harbor, with the Island Inn. 17 miles of hiking trails.
Wednesday, June 24. 2015
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