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.
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Sunday, October 4. 2015
Except to say "Hello." Both of these guys are excellent and entertaining presenters. Only police officer I would talk to is Andy Taylor.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, October 3. 2015
Pope Francis claimed that firearms and firearm makers cannot be Christian. A curious statement as he is surrounded by heavily-armed guards whenever he leaves his house. The Vatican is equally protected.
The same thing applies to Obama's pontificating about firearms. He is surrounded by firearms every day, and will be provided with armed guards for free for the rest of his life. I guess it's supposed to be different for us little people but not for me. I carry. If you worked in today's Hartford, CT, you might too.
Friday, October 2. 2015
The American lobbying and advertising Whole Grains Council has had huge success in selling their health scam. Just like Whole Foods. Food piety has two arms: the ignorant, and their commercial predators.
Enjoyment applies to OJ too. It's basically sugar with no other food value. Years ago, the Florida Citrus cabal convinced Americans that they should have it for breakfast. Tasty, but no different from a Coke. Scurvy is not a problem.
My point with my nutrition myth posts is that you should eat whatever you enjoy. If you have a weight problem or a health problem, that's another matter. Just don't pretend, for example, that an OJ is any "healthier" than a Pepsi, or brown bread is "healthier" than white bread. That is just marketing to the low-info shopper and gullibles like Michelle Obama.
We all love happy myths, do we not? The fantasy that we can control fate.
Two or three of our readers are interested in my "boot camp" activities and progress because it is informative about how trainers approach middle-age fitness these days. It's not much different from how they deal with young athletes.
Fridays are my day for general fitness and muscle endurance. Here's what he had me do this morning:
- 3 minutes of elliptical warm-up (and wake-up), then
- 1 minute elbow plank
(Repeat the circuit of italicized sets 5 times with only 15-25 seconds between)
- cool down (?) with a couple of minutes on stair machine
That's a tough hour or so for me even without the usual squats with light military presses. I keep trying to remind myself that my breaking point is not what I think it is. I think I'll be able to do my end-of-week general fitness hour without his babysitting soon - but without the heavy bench work.
Tomorrow, he encourages me to begin to add stair machine (I call it stairway to heaven because you can die on that thing) to my cardio day routine to intensify it. It's intense already, but I do what I'm told.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:11 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, October 1. 2015
Tuesday, September 29. 2015
From Mead's A Night at the Opera:
Broadway musicals are opera. Often, "light opera" but still opera. Light opera and opera buffa have longer histories than grand opera. Indeed, Verdi was the pop music of his time. Shakespeare's plays were the hit tv shows of his time too.
Nothing can be more pop, or more delightful, than this. The spartan production highlights the music:
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:58 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, September 28. 2015
20 minutes of this will do you good if it doesn't kill you.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:15 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Yesterday we popped into NYC, the greatest and most entertaining city in the world, to see a series of street theater events that were staged up on the High Line.
One part of what was cool about that was that, in NY, so many things are happening all the time that it's hard to tell the staged from the real. Not to mention that the city is an excellent stage set in itself and everybody on the thronging streets is interesting to look at. Bit part players on a giant stage.
Glad we parked in the burbs and took a train in. Took an Uber to Gansevoort. This week, we had the Pope, Obama, Putin, the tyrant of China and the whole UN General Assembly yesterday and again today. Thus, blocked streets, barricades, and cops making huge overtime everywhere. Not to mention the tourists. September is a big tourism month in NY, and rightly so.
I notice that nobody uses cameras anymore. Even the Japanese tourists, remarkably, just use their iPhones these days instead of their fancy Nikons. Fine cameras seem to be obsolete and nobody buys them anymore. Even the little Lumix I like to use seems kinda dorky, but I don't care.
The terminus of the High Line in the old meat-packing district, Gansevoort Street. I remember when this was a grim industrial neighborhood. Now the crowds and the new construction are astonishing:
More pics below the fold -
Continue reading "All the world's a stage"
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 06:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, September 27. 2015
Ralph Waldo Emerson, an important American figure who I find almost impossible to read, took a train out west partly to visit John Muir.
Emerson was Muir's hero. However, the elderly Emerson, the author of Nature, had no interest in going into the woods with Muir. I think nature was an idea for Emerson, not experienced outside of a park or a farm. For Muir, of course, wilderness was religion.
Pic: Muir with Teddy Roosevelt in Yosemite, 1906.
These TEDs are interesting even if, like me, you liked math once you got the hang of it: Talks for people who hated math in high school
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:50 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
The US Army introduced fitness tests in 1943. They have relaxed their standards since.
When I began high school, every entering boy had to take the test while the coaches recorded. They were looking for athletic potential. If you didn't pass, you had to do a semester of remedial fitness before you could even do a (required) intramural sport - or even a JV sport. The remedial fitness was a bitch. 2 1/2 hours each afternoon. Ex-USMC math teacher was the coach. He made overweight kids go on diets and run extra unless they needed a JV fullback. Good stuff if you could handle a little humiliation. Runs, sprints, lifting, squats, football sleds, sit-up marathons, pushup marathons, etc. I flunked on the pull-ups. They also had a swim speed test which I handled easily but I didn't want the swim team. I still stink at pull-ups.
I doubt that a public school could make such demands on kids. Funny, as I reflect on it: We had riflery and shotgun teams too, but they were extracurriculars, did not count as sports. Still do, I am sure. Heck, even girls' summer camps have them today. A Bird Dog daughter was an NRA-certified riflery and archery coach/counselor at a girls' camp.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:28 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, September 25. 2015
By request -
The program I have taken on is quite different from the ones that have been discussed here. I understand that strength-building resistance work is important even if you do not want to model underwear, because strength is needed to maximize your general fitness exercises and recreational activities.
I am a young guy luckily without any need to build muscles at this point. I am doing general fitness and cardio to feel good, to have energy, to prepare for skiing season, and so as not to look like a soft slob before I hit 35 or 40. Every gal and guy I know works out in some form. White-collar people have to keep moving or we will decay.
The only sport I play these days is basketball on Sunday night. We have a good group and we invade the pub afterwards in our sweats. I'd like to assemble squash or racketball group for Saturdays but I haven't arranged it yet. My self-directed general fitness program combines plyometrics with calisthenics on 3 days a week, and cardio 3 days a week. I rarely miss a day because when I am out of town I can do it too. I do these early, on the way to work. No resistance exercises per se at this point.
My pure cardio is 30-40 minutes of running sprint intervals on the treadmill. I would prefer running my intervals outdoors but I have genes for bad knees and the treadmill is joint-friendly. Sometimes I do intervals on the elliptical, bike, or Stairmaster instead, for variety. I finish it up with calf lifts and calf stretches, and throw in a plank if I have time.
For my plyo/calisthenic days (plyo and calisthenics have some overlap) I do an hour, more or less. I use "plyo" to refer to exercises requiring quick bursts of high energy, like box jumps, burpees, mountain-climbers, medicine ball throws and smashes; and the term "calisthenics" for any other high-rep body-weight exercises (or with light weights) like planks, Bird Dogs, kettle-ball walks, step-ups, jumping jacks, ropes, pushups, pullups, jump rope, lunges, squats, jumping squats, etc. This combines general fitness with cardio as there is no time to rest in my schedule. Heart rate never normalizes but you do need to catch your breath.
Then shower and shave in the gym, suit up, and get to the office by 7. Great way to start a day. I got professional help designing this workout with the goals of endurance, muscle-toning, agility, vigor, and general full-body fitness. Not for fat loss or muscle building. On Sunday morning, I go to church instead. Redeemer: a good Christian workout with a wonderful community of friends and new friends.
- A large assortment of Plyometric Exercises
For the first two weeks, I felt exhausted every day. After a month of it, I am feeling good, sleep better, have more appetite (I am a small-eater as in coffee for breakfast and a half-sandwich for lunch), and I think I have more energy. It's good for my head too. Use it or lose it.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:39 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, September 24. 2015
I am seeing that the NJ and Bulldog are getting on board. Good American fitness and strength in mind, morals, body, and spirit is what we're about (we hope). Mens sana in corpore sano.
Can I confess how freaking hard it is becoming? My trainer keeps ramping up his demands as I enter my 6th month of intense, six-day/wk fitness training program. It's up there with the hardest work I have ever encountered, mentally and physically. Boot Camp. It is hard, and it hurts. It stretches one's capacity for discipline and effort, same or more than studying Physical Chemistry.
In the process, I discover things about myself. For one thing, I learn that when I think I am beat, I can still do a little more if I get my head around it to fully engage my will. In some ways, I am weaker in will than I like to think. Will, self-control, and self-discipline are the keys to so many achievements and accomplishments in life. It is part of what is termed "executive functioning." Overall life effectiveness in pursuing goals.
Another thing I have found interesting is that, just as in a job, or in therapy, or in a church group, AA, a military platoon, or on a sports team, it is relationship which brings out the most we can do and pushes us forward. On my own, I could never have accomplished what I have done thus far had I read read instructions in a book. I am amazed by how this middle-aged bod can adapt to physical demands despite the inevitable aches and pains and injuries of intense exercises. This body is harder than it has ever been, no soft spots and no fat except for some (genetic?) but shrinking love handles.
Crossfit (which I think is good but I don't do) gets that with their group fitness programs. The team cheers each other on, from the old or fat or heart-impaired to the young and strong. It's not so much competitive as it is relational (not that there is anything wrong with the competitive part because that is fun too). They do compete in weight loss, if they need that.
It's a love-hate adventure for me. There is an end point where it will be more about "maintain" instead of "progress." Not there yet, especially in the full-body endurance department. A few more months, I suspect. Can't do enough reps benching my weight either. I am more interested, though, in intense endurance than in plain muscle and my natural build is ectomorph with a meso tendency. Average. I want to do 30 minutes on the stair machine set on a fair speed, for example, or 50 medicine ball smashes without collapsing. My planks are getting longer though, to the point that my whole body quivers and shivers for 80 seconds. That's when my guy says "25 more seconds - c'mon, lock those elbows." So I do it and then fall on the floor.
In the end, it is for life functionality and fun, not for the gym. A little vanity is the dessert. Yes, my abs are shaping up but it's just for sex appeal...
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:55 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
My apologies but I forget where I found this toon.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:06 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, September 23. 2015
Monday, September 21. 2015
...of the Midsummer we saw on Saturday.
As Mrs. BD says, skilled theater reviewers can often write evocatively. A gift which I lack. This one nailed the spirit of the production I posted about: Review: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Tailored for Multitaskers.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 19:46 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
From Alva Noe's How Art Reveals the Limits of Neuroscience:
I am no skeptic about basic neuroscience. I am skeptical about its overeach, its hubris. Aesthetics can never be understood at a neuronal level of organization any more than a living cell can be understood at an atomic level.
Sunday, September 20. 2015
When you do a high-risk adventure, you are supposed to be willing to die doing it. Isn't that the point? Expecting others to rescue you at public expense and risk to themselves is wrong.
This Russki hunk of Polar Bear food got rescued. He'll try it again, though: Two days on ice with three polar bears
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:22 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
An actual museum is in the planning stages, for Washington DC.
Took the kids to see the Pearl's new production of The Bedlam Company's Midsummer's Night yesterday. It got a great preview review from the NYT. Officially opens today but we get preview tix (the smart NYT review not online yet).
One cool aspect of this production of the bawdy love, sex, and fantasy farce is that 5 actors play all of the roles - with no costumes. Thus the dreamlike confusion is created. No props, no set, so your imagination fills in the details like a dream.
The sober-minded (but rarely sober) Samuel Pepys saw the play in the early 1600s and thought it ridiculous. It is, sort-of, but it has had a long shelf life thus far for some reason.
The play within a play within a dream is so intentionally dumb that it's funny. Sheesh, the guy's plays were meant to be plain entertainment and not to be taken seriously. He just wanted to get rich by appealing to all levels of society and education from the Queen to the stable groom and he had a good enough grammar school education to do that. Once he got rich and maybe had his fill of girlfriends, he quit.
We had the usual fine post-matinee supper at what has become our favorite place in that neighborhood, The West Bank Cafe. The kids told us how much they enjoyed having seen - and met the author - of the clever musical Hamilton on Broadway. Since they are discerning and discriminating theater-goers, I'll listen to them. (That daughter is an ambitious playwright and script-writer. Actress too.)
I informed them that Hamilton's farmhouse still stands in far-uptown Manhattan. He used to ride his horse up the dirt road (an old Indian trail) Broadway to his farm on weekends.
Daughter informed me that she rides her new bike 30 miles/day to her various NYC activities and jobs, and is growing strong legs. I advised wearing a reflector vest because my kids are precious to me. Hamilton did not need one.
Mrs. BD overschedules me with social events and outings, but I man up and try to deal with it like a good, cheerful spouse: Happy wife, happy life.
My pic is the Pearl on the far west end of 42nd St. High-rise expensive housing is booming in that area and streets are full of happy-looking people of every size, shape, color, socioeconomic type, and ethnicity. What a city!
The late lamented Marianne Matthews - ex-NewYorker living in Houston - used to love my NYC posts. These days (except for Bulldog) I mostly get grouchy comments. I promise that if you spent a few days banging around the City with us you would change your tune.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 03:52 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, September 17. 2015
I had lunch with an interesting and delightful fellow the other day. David Leff. He was giving a talk about his last book, The Last Undiscovered Place:
Mrs. BD loved the book.
His bio is here. He may not tinker with metal in the traditional Connecticut manner, but this guy is a serious historian of New England. Also, a lawyer, a published poet, professional art photographer, volunteer fireman, professional conservationist, Boy Scout counselor, chicken-raiser, and fly-fisherman. And more. He has a new book coming out this fall.
I greatly admire and enjoy people who invest themselves so fully and productively in life and in their communities.
Here's his website. "I ask not for the great, the remote, the romantic; . . . I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Re that Emerson, I embrace all of the above, not just the common. Emerson was posing there, I think. Anyway, Leff loves Emerson. I have tried Emerson many times, but he always eludes me.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:22 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, September 15. 2015
I have repeatedly insisted that a "healthy human diet" cannot be defined. As omnivores, humans can survive and thrive on many sorts of diets. Each culture has its own food biases, myths, preferences.
It is an imaginary First-world problem to obsess about food as if food were medicine, magical, or potential toxins in our civilization of revolutionary food abundance, quality, variety, safety, and flavor.
(We have discussed weight loss and physical fitness ad nauseum here, so this is not about those special nutritional areas.)
Old wive's tales, obsolete studies, superstitions, misrepresented press reports, etc. These are my own views via the literature. Do your own research if you want. This applies to otherwise relatively normal people without serious ailments:
- Coffee is bad for you. Wrong.
- You should drink X glasses of water per day. Nonsense. If you are peeing, you are hydrated.
- Beer and coffee are dehydrating. False. They are just enhanced water.
- Red meat is bad for you. Nonsense. Where did that myth come from? The Federal Chicken Board?
- Organic foods are "better for you." Zero evidence for that, but there is evidence that organic foods have fewer nutrients. Not that it matters; it is de minimus.
- You need roughage to prevent colon cancer. That is disproven. It will give you larger BMs if that is what you enjoy.
- Fruit and fruit juice is good for you. Nope, they are just flavored sugar, what I term warm popsicles. Tasty though. Fruit is just a dessert as the Italians understand, not real food. Worried about scurvy, are you? Fruits are not really healthy foods, but are good sources of sugar if you are sugar-deprived.
- Eggs are bad for you. Wrong. They are an excellent food, actually one of the few "perfect" foods (ie balances of fat, protein, and carb). A "perfect food" means you can thrive on it, alone, for a long time.
- Carbs and starches are bad. Nope. They are great foods as long as you are not dealing with a weight problem. With the egg, potato is the other "perfect" food item. Well, milk too.
- Eating fat makes you fat. Wrong. Excess carbs make people fat. Carbs, plus general gluttony.
- Three meals per day. Why? It's just a habit. For youth and manual laborers, certainly - plus snacks.
- Vegetarian diets are healthier. Utter cultish nonsense. Active humans and growing kids need plenty of good protein for normal growth and muscle maintenance and repair, which is difficult for vegetarians to obtain without extra effort and expense. Low-protein cultures generally have littler people with less strength.
- Gluten? Don't get me started.
- Salt is bad. No, it is essential for health. If you have dangerous blood pressure, take a pill.
- Vegetables and greens are "healthy." Not especially. They are just cheap, sometimes tasty, tummy-fillers. If you hate all veggies and greens (even steamed spinach with garlic), take a multivitamin once or twice a week and forget about it. Otherwise, enjoy them.
- Low cholesterol diets? There is no meaningful relation between dietary cholesterol and heart disease unless you have severe familial hypercholesterolemia in which case you take a pill and hope for the best.
- Alcohol is unhealthy. Nope, good for body, soul, and cheerful companionship if not abused.
- White vs. Brown breads, rice, and sugars? The brown thing is pure foolishness, except for flavor preferences. If you need brown rice for the microscopic protein in it, you need Food Stamps desperately. Get an EBT card and buy yourself a Big Mac.
- Fish oils are healthy. A health-food scam, same as "organic." Fatty fishes are delicious, though: shad, tuna, swordfish, trout and salmon, bluefish. Even a baked mackerel with garlic and rosemary.
- "Free range" is better. If it's a cultural, moral, or flavor thing for you, go for it if you can spare the cash. I'd like to see a blind tasting. I do hate to see animals raised in meat factories, but all animal husbandry is meat factories. Nursery schools and day care are caged meat factories too, but we don't eat the product.
Where am I in error?
And just think, Great Courses doesn't even have a football team, an endowment, a diversity coordinator, a Title lX administrator, a sustainability Czar, an admissions office, or a water feature. Any by issuing no diplomas they can make sure that you are there only to learn.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:44 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, September 13. 2015
- Took a drive yesterday to Long Island City (part of Queens, NYC).
Went there to see a one-act play festival at The Secret Theater. Golly, LIC is changing. High-rises everywhere under construction. We had supper at a superb tiny French bistro, LIC Market. Everybody who works there is French. You can park on the street in LIC, no problem. As a daughter says, a gritty mix of industrial, residential, and business: Real NYC.
We meandered through Astoria while en route. Got a little lost. I have never been to Astoria. It is one of the most pleasant, middle-class, and remarkably multi-cultural places I have seen. Of all things, a large Maltese population too- over 20,000. Who'da thunk it? But if you think about it, there is little to do in Malta.
It's not too far from where the big game - Jokevitch vs. Federer - is today. I can't miss that.
- Out-of-towners like us are always more familiar with Manhattan, with its totalitarian arithmetical road grid. Here is something wonderful, probably worth a trip from anywhere: Picasso, Completely Himself in 3 Dimensions. It's on my to-do list. We never miss major Picasso shows, because his craft and imagination blows my mind.
- Something else fun: Immersive (aka Interactive) theater in NYC. I have heard reports about how much fun it is. A friend had his daughter's Sweet 16th party for 25 gals at one of the scavenger hunt "plays," and a couple of people told me about the MacBeth one.
- At my point in life, a visit to NYC is always good for a dose of hyper-stimulation and amazement in the works of man but I am always happy to return to my quiet more pastoral home where the loudest noise is a cricket. If I won the Powerball, though, I think I'd buy a brownstone (with working fireplaces) in the West Village in a flash. I need both. Prosperous people in NYC belong to elite clubs as private retreats, and have dachas in the country too. I could handle that.
My lovely daughters live as if they owned NYC despite living on a shoestring. Fearless, undaunted, resourceful and adventurous, they just take daily bites of that apple as so many young people need to, and shoot for the stars. No bourgeois instincts, it seems - like their Mom. All the same, they do love to come home sometimes for love, free food, and to hit some tennis balls like the prepster kids they are.
Saturday, September 12. 2015
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