Wednesday, September 15, 2004


I went to the gym today for the first time in a year. I'd even suspended my membership (why pay dues for something you're not using).

But today, my wife came home and said, "You've got a date tonight. At 6pm."

I thought, "Cool, we're going out."

But no, she continued with, "You're doing x-bike with Tina at the gym."

A little less exciting than a night on the town with my wife. Instead, I was going to work-out at the gym with my brother's ex. Hmmm...

Well, lately I've been a lump of poo on a stick. I've done next to no exercise - notice how my last post about biking was .... July 17th. Wow.

I've been working far too much, and my body is rebelling. I am currently recovering from a rib that is out (first rib, right at the base of the neck). What does it mean to have a rib out? I don't really know, it's slightly out of place, and as a result, it's pressing on some nerves, causing things to be inflamed, causing pain, causing muscle tightness, which causes further pain/inflammation/tightness/etc. It's made sleeping difficult, and moving my head has been tough. I'm certain that if I had kept in shape, either through biking or yoga or whatever, this wouldn't have happened.

So, back to the story at hand, I had a date, with my brother's ex (also my dental assistant - Hi Tina!).

But that's a good thing. I've got a trip to Moab in just over a month, and a race at Hagg lake in less than a month. I've got to get my rear in gear.

So, the gym has this new, hip, exciting aerobic exercise called "x-biking". It's very similar to spinning which I used to do at my old gym. You hop up on a stationary bike, you pedal to music, sweat a lot, and generally get a good workout.

What's the verdict? After one class, I can say that I like spinning a little better. There are a couple of reasons:

  1. The spinning bikes are more like a fixed-gear track bike, you can't stop pedalling unless you stop the flywheel. I realize many people don't like this, but I think it's a good thing because it forces you to round your pedal stroke, very much like the training you'd get riding a track bike. So I miss that.

  2. The music for x-bike (we're using the canned CD's) is lame. It's a cross between techno and elevator music. It's got the driving beat, but you can barely hear it, and it's as repetitive as the music from the original Nintendo.

  3. The class is only half an hour long - need at least 45 minutes, if not 1 hour.

  4. The scripted work out is very repetitive - you only have 3 different things you do: pedal while seated, pedal while standing, don't pedal but rock the handle-bars back and forth. Lame.

  5. The bike itself doesn't fit quite as well: the handlebars are way too close to the pedals (you can adjust the seat back, but that doesn't help when you're standing). Plus, the rocking motion you can do with the handlebars is kind of dorky - you can't tighten it down very much, and I was pretty unimpressed with the "upper body" workout the web page claimed I'd get. I prefer the fixed handlebar because you can actually use it to help you press down on the pedals. The rockability of the handlebars takes away from that.

Needless to say, the club has just started the x-bike thing, and the instructor today said they'll be looking to make changes, so give feedback.

What I really want is my old spinning instructor, Chrysanthi (I think that's how you spell her name). She rocked. The classes were tough, the music was jamming, and she really got into setting the scene - you could almost imagine the ride she was leading. Plus, the spinning instructors had a bunch of different activities you did on the bike: jumps, runs, jogging (no-hands), really high-speed spinning, different hand positions, etc. That may not sound like much, but when you are stuck on a stationary bike, it's a fair amount.

I'm sure that the club will make the appropriate changes and let the x-bike instructors play with music and workout composition. They've got to be as bored and uninspired as I was with the canned lesson.

I'll be taking the class again, because, as I said, it's a good workout. And there aren't any spinning classes available.

Talk Like A Pirate

This sunday is national Talk Like A Pirate Day, now I just need to find the proper keyboard:

Pirate Keyboard - just has 'R'

Wow, I Should Have Figured

I'm surprised we haven't seen data like this report earlier. I would have figured it'd show up in the emergency room stats.

Or, perhaps it shows up in more chronic ways. Sure enough, what is one of the causes of nasty hemorrhoids? Excessive straining during bowel movements.

Those folks in Japan/Italy/India have it right, use a squat toilet and avoid the stress.

Of course, I didn't learn until I was the ripe old age of 24, on my Muir Trail trip how to properly poop in the woods (how to poop while squatting). You only pull the pants/shorts down to your knees! Nobody ever told me! I always pulled the shorts down to my ankles, and then had to somehow avoid the shorts that were spanning the space between my ankles. It's a game you don't want to lose.

For sure, proper squat and poop technique will be one of the first things I teach my kids.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

More on Sports

You can like whatever sports you want to like. You can think some sports are stupid, and be passionate about your favorites.

What I don't understand, though, is this irrational declaration by many Americans that sports like soccer are boring. This, from the same people that religiously watch baseball and Nascar. Ok, so perhaps you don't like soccer, but to say that nothing happens is just ludicrous.

Something is always happening in soccer. You may not understand it, but something is always happening. Occasionally play stops for a couple of seconds for a throw-in or free kick, but that's it. The games are 90 minutes long with a 20 minute half-time. So, perhaps 5 minutes of each game is spent with the ball not moving. That means the ball is moving about 95% of the time.

Compare this to baseball. An average professional baseball game lasts just under 176 minutes (2001 stats,). There are an average of about 285 pitches per game, with about 20 hits per game. It takes at most a second for pitch, and maybe 30 seconds (as if there were that much action) per hit. What does that compute to? A whopping 91.6% of the time in a baseball game, people are standing around, scratching themselves, spitting, chewing, and signaling. Think about it, over 90% of the time you're watching 10 or 11 guys (one at bat, one on base) standing around, doing nothing. It's like watching the characters of King of the Hill at the beginning of each show. Life is just passing you by.

What about Nascar? The races are 2-3 hours long, and sure, they're driving the entire time, but what really happens? Not too much, the drivers are generally just drafting, biding their time for someone to make a mistake, going around and around the oval track. Oh - but it's sooo exciting. Right. There are 10-15 lead changes in an exciting race. Wow, that means you'll get a lead change every 12 minutes or so. Damned exciting. At least the Indy cars sometimes race on non-oval tracks, giving you a lot more opportunity for passing and accidents.

Ok, ok, I'm picking on the obvious sports. How about football? In a typical NFL game that has 48 minutes of on-the-clock time only has 12-15 minutes of actual ball movement. That doesn't even count all the stop-time - which makes an NFL game last about 3 hours. Wow, that's ball movement about 7% of the time. During TV coverage for a game, the announcers have enough time in between each play to have complete conversations about other sports, to conduct mini-interviews with players on the field, and to do in-depth analysis of the last few plays. They have to come up with filler to keep you interested in between the plays.

So what makes football/Nascar/baseball "interesting" to people whereas soccer is "boring"? It's knowledge of the game, if you know what to look for and understand the nuances of the game, then the sport is probably interesting. Because, let's face it: Nascar, baseball, and football have almost no activity during the normal course of the game.

I view soccer in the same vein as hockey. Sure, hockey (the U.S.'s 4th sport) is a little more action packed than soccer - mostly because they're on a smaller "field". Hockey scoring is about 2X that of soccer, but it's primarily the same kind of game (minus the fights). You've got plays, lots of passing, defensive zones, etc - all the same things as soccer. But, if you didn't understand hockey, all you would see is people skating around in a bunch, slapping at a puck, and randomly slamming each other into the boards and fighting.

I don't think I'm going to convince anyone that soccer is interesting to watch. I'd just like to try to wake you up into actually thinking about what you are saying when you state, " is boring." All you are really doing is saying, "I'm ignorant. I don't know jack about ."

Don't worry, I won't hold your ignorance against you.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Oregon State Fair

Last weekend, Mary and I went to the fair. I hadn't been to the fair in 15 years or so. I'd almost forgotten what the fair was like - except that my bro and I went to the Benton county fair last year to see Carrot Top.

I guess all fairs are about the same, you've got your carnival rides, carnie games, food on a stick, food booths, animals, etc. We watched a couple of equestrian drill teams. The first one was pretty dorky - just some young kids that rode around with horses that were dressed in red white and blue. It was nothing exciting. The second one was based off of "Lord of the Rings" and had the dark riders, Gandalf, and the chasee - an elf on a white horse (yes, I know Frodo should have been chased, not an elf, Mary told me to "shush" when I pointed that out). The costumes were pretty fun. The best part was when the elf's horse layette on its side and "died". At that point, a little wizard came out on a miniature horse to heal the elf's horse. Some little faeries also came out with a little goat. They all danced around the elf's horse - which of course recovered beautifully. We promptly left after that performance as I'm sure it was the pinnacle of the horse-drill-teams.

Of course we sampled the food. My new favorite is funnel cake. I'll take funnel cake over elephant ears any day of the week. I'd never had them before, but their crispy crunch is so much more consistent than the sometimes soft or soggy elephant ears. Plus, there are a large variety of toppings for the funnel cake that are just not available for the elephant ears. And, of course, I picked up a large bag of kettle korn. Delicious.

The surprise for the night was not the discovery of funnel cake, but of a comedy act, Hypnomania. When the show first started, Mary and I thought it would be pretty dorky. But it was hilarious. He had people doing really silly things, like being a shoe thief, using "magical" glasses that let you see through people's clothes, and other silly things. The "magical" glasses were awesome, because the guy who got them immediately began looking up-and-down at the woman next to him. The next step was that they were to slap themselves when they thought a dirty thought, and that guy was constantly slapping himself.

Ok, so it doesn't sound very funny, but trust me. It was almost as good as Carrot Top, people were rolling in the aisles with laughter. I don't think it was rigged, because there's no way those people could have kept straight faces while doing the act.

The only thing that could have made the show funnier would be eating a funnel cake while watching it.

TV continued

In my earlier post about TV shows, I can't believe I forgot my main motivation for writing. The show, "Last Comic Standing", really annoys me. They've supposedly got 10 of the funniest people in America, but what do they do? They let the dork of a host blab on with jokes that would make Bob Sagget cringe. On the premier this year, the first 40 minutes didn't have a single stand-up routine. That's half the show w/out a joke by the people who the show is supposed to be about.

Obviously, if I'm watching 40 minutes of a show I don't like, I've obviously got problems of my own.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


I'm all for some good TV. Tonight I'm waiting for my favorite show, "Scrubs", to start. However, the new animated show, "Father of the Pride" is currently on. What a stupid show. In the 5 minutes I've watched it, I've seen nothing but the gags that were on the promos - which makes me wonder what they'll have left for episode 2. And, there's a ton of swearing and sexual references. The references are so stupid, so blatant, that it's actually insulting to watch. I'm embarrassed for NBC. I'm definitely not a prude, but come on, I think we've matured a little bit since Benny Hill show.

Now, Scrubs, that's a quality show. It's got great writing, good humor, good show premise, the show always ends with a good message, and pretty much everyone on the show is attractive. That's about all a show really needs. Unfortunately, most of the shows nowadays just get the last characteristic right. "Father of the Pride" fails on all accounts.

Now, taking things to the other extreme, I do have to give props to the show, "Hot or Not." It was unabashedly superficial, it simply walked people out onto the stage and they were either voted "hot" or "not." The hot ones got to stay, the others had to leave. There was the little bit of competition, and a lot of hotties. The cost for the show had to be near zero, everyone and their sister probably tried out for the show - so there was no shortage of 'talent'. What a great show. However, it wasn't quite interesting enough to keep people interested because I don't see it in the fall lineup.
Another show worthy of watching is "Fear Factor" - it's got the good premise, the host of the show is quick on his feet, there's always a winner, and, of course, most everyone on the show is attractive. Plus, like any good game show, you can imagine yourself in the contestants shoes: either being grossed out about eating cow placenta, or climbing over a wall that's flipping end-over-end.

Seinfeld was also incredible, but alas it is just in syndication. Oddly enough, I found the fact that NBC is making BUCKS off Seinfeld, reportedly over $1 billion for 9 years of syndication. At least I know it'll be around to entertain me.