Thursday, July 20, 2017

Writing and Wind-staff

Working on a short story which is turning into several short stories in the same setting.   Currently there are three scenes that could turn into stand-alone 1500 to 2000 words short stories.  We'll see how this works out; I'm writing for On The Premise's theme, "community," and what I've got so far seems out of focus.   I've got about 5000 words currently, and after culling the rough bits, it's at about 4000.

Gym:  Went to the dojo for a Windstaff Session.  I remember the form a little from a few years ago and can really use brushing up on it.   Followed by a 20-something minutes on the elliptical for 250 calories, and 10-something on the cable-row machine for 100 calories.  I can tell the difference between when I do three times a day in a five day period with a weekend rest and when I do maybe Sunday and Thursday sessions.

Monday, July 17, 2017

There Will Arise a Slayer...

I'm not sure if painting various bits of the house counts as going to the gym or not.  Mostly trim, uh, I don't know how many reps of paint-brush motions.

This (Sunday) afternoon, Cicero appeared outside with a dragonfly in his mouth (henceforth he shall be known as Cicero Dragonfly Slayer).  The dragonfly (probably at Common Whitetail, Plathemis lydia)  was buzzing to get out of feline jaws, which of course, was Very Exciting for the feline involved.  I called him a Wicked Thing and he dropped it.  This is the second dragonfly Cicero has caught in nine days.(Mark thought he'd caught a humming bird at first).  This one, alas, had a large hole in the middle of its abdomen -- I'm not sure if Cicero put the hole in there, or if a bird pecked at it or what.  

I put it, still quivering, on our phlox, thinking that while it wasn't a bug that a dragonfly might eat, that maybe a flower would seem more familiar than a table or the inside of a cat.  And then Mark and I went on to scrape and paint various parts of trim on our house.

I came back a few hours later, and the poor thing was still hanging onto the phlox flowers and being batted about by the breeze.  I unhooked it from the flowers and it latched onto my finger in what I thought was some sort of rigor mortis death-grip, but later realized was animal force.  I can't imagine how the insect was managing to respire, and it did seem rather confused.

So... I seized the opportunity to take macro-lens photographs of a semi-live dragonfly that was unable to fly away.  I did flick tiny drops of water over it in the hopes of reviving it, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to make it through the night on the branch of the camellia.  While my camera is not exactly the best device for astro-photography, it shines when it comes to photographing bugs.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Photographing the Moon

Managed more writing yesterday (Thursday) afternoon (about 600 words)  and again this (Friday) morning (about 300 words).  I actually did get up at about 4:55AM -- but I realized that I was in that funny pre-verbal pre-awake state.  So... I photographed the waning moon though the telescope (all of the photos came out fuzzy), opened the house to cool it down, and then crashed on the sofa.

I thought about the human ship and the alien ship in my current story, and a couple of scenes suggested themselves.  I was in a kind of day-dream lucid-dream state.  I'm not sure if the cats' antics were a bad thing that interrupted my dream-train-of-thought or a good thing that woke me up enough so I'd remember stuff.  It's possible that Spencer the neighbor cat (and Cicero's brother) was in the house, because Smokey (who has never done this before) was reaching out and batting me on the face.

 On the astronomy front, I cut out a cardboard tube that fits on the end of the telescope and over the lens of my camera:  this lets me butt the camera lens up against the eyepiece, with the result that I can snap photos of the moon.

 I was hoping to be able to use the telescope as a zoom-lens for photographing the eclipse... but after watching how easy it is for my camera to be confused about what to focus on during day-time shots of the moon, I'm almost certain that that is going to not work.  The process works well for photographing the moon, but so far I haven't gotten it to work for stars or planets.

The best photos happen when the sky is still fairly dark, when I put the camera in its almost-but-not-quite-full telephoto focus, and if I let the camera choose the F-stop.  When I've tried to open up the F-stop, the camera can't seem to focus on the moon (although this would let in more light).  Going full telephoto confuses the auto-focus, and I haven't had much luck getting the camera to auto-focus on the moon during the day.

Gym - went Friday night.  25 minutes for about 300 calories on the cable row machine.  Downstairs, 3x12x60lbs pec fly.  3x13x80lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x12 Roman chair curls, plus some 2x6 side curls.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mid July Update

Last week the Internet went out at our house, which made for a quiet evening of reading and compass work.  The family put in a DVD and watched an old Disney movie instead of streaming something.

I've been reading recreationally more this week:  I just finished "Tales of Earthsea," which I'd never read before, and I'm in the middle of "The Ship in the Hill."  One of the first stories in "Tales" seemed oddly prescient of the current political climate, given that it was written in 2001... but now that I think about it, it would have been written during the GW Bush administration.  "Ship," is fun, combining two parallel tales of Vikings and 1901 archeology.

The Fourth put a crimp in my gym work, and the last visit was Sunday.

Went to the gym Monday (7/10) 20 some minutes on the elliptical for 200 calories; 3X12X60lbs on the pec fly; 3X12X80lbs on the lat pull-down.  3X12 Roman Chair curls, with 2X5 side curls.  3X12X40lb barbell curls.

Went to the gym Wednesday  (7/12) 25 some minutes on the elliptical for 250 calories; 3X12X60lbs on the pec fly; 3X12X85lbs on the lat pull-down.  3X12 Roman Chair curls, with 2X5 side curls.  3X12X40lb barbell curls. 2X8X40lb reverse curles.  Assorted 12lb shoulder shrugs.

Tried to write Thursday.  Getting up and awake was a chore because Cicero wouldn't come in last night and I finally just went to bed about forty minutes later than I'd originally planned.  Wrote maybe 200-300 words of garbage.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Little Routines

On the gym front, I suppose I should re-start logging my gym routine.  I've been fairly good about going something like Monday-Friday-Sunday... Sort of.   I think actually reporting it will keep me a little more honest, so...

Thursday:  Went to the gym:  10 minutes and 150 cal on the cable rowing machine.  3x13x60lbs on the pec fly (I feel like I could go up to 70 lbs).  3x13x80lbs on the lat pull-down (a recent increase).  3x13 hanging curls on the Roman Chair (with some side pikes thrown in for fun).  3x12x40lbs bar-bell curls.  Some assorted free weights.

Writing:  The pollen count here has been really bad, so The Family has been taking two- and three-day trips to the coast.  This has been good for writing... but never quite as good as I hope it will be.

I got a rejection Wednesday night and it really bugged me more that it should have -- the market is one of the 25 hardest market to break into, and... it still bugged me because I thought the market and my writing style were a good fit (unlike another market I could name...).

I spoke with a writer friend about finishing stories and she said, A) try to trick your inner editor by putting someone else's name on the by-line, B) write more than one ending / write a bad ending and then go back and fix it, C) mwah-ha-ha! you've got some unfinished stories?  You should see the stack of 'em at my house.

I did go back to one manuscript I'd stopped working on last winter; I can see one problem is that I put too many elements into a short story, and simplifying by taking out the un-needed ghost will help.   The prose is actually not bad, or at least not hopeless.   Now I just have to polish up the ending.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Four Dimensional Thinking

The latest game I've been playing is "4-D Toys."  Take a zero-dimensional dot and extend it horizontally to make a one-dimensional line; take the line and extend it vertically to make a two-dimensional square; take the square and pull it out of a page to make a three-dimensional cube; then take the cube and extend it into a fourth dimension (at right angles to the first three), and you get a hyper-cube (or a tesseract, or a 8-cell).

4-D Toys allows you to manipulate objects, like tesseracts, which extend into four dimensions.  Where it gets confusing is that it's possible to bump objects out of the three-dimensional slice that's being displayed ... sometimes you can bump objects back into your particular three-dimensional slice with another 4-D object.  Just like a square is a 2-D cross-section of a cube, a cube can be a cross-section of a tesseract; knowing that abstractly does nothing to mitigate the trippy feeling of watching a cube contract into a wedge, fall over, and apparently disappear.   Don't get me started on hyper-spheres; I'm still not sure how those work, other than spheres can shrink or grow, sometimes in the apparent mid air.

I was dreaming about tesseracts the other night; no special meaning for them that I can think of, I think I was merely practicing moving them around.

After playing around with tesseracts and hyper-spheres, I wondered why we don't have objects that extend into the fourth dimension -- brane theory suggests that there are additional dimensions, so why don't we have hyper-keys that can fit into hyper-locks?... or maybe photons and other really small quanta are interacting with each other on some micro- hyper-dimension, and what we call forces are actually higher dimensional kinetic interactions... But no... if that were true I'd expect inter dimensional friction to unexpectedly slow things down and heat them up....

At this point, I'm feeling like it's time to re-watch Dr. Strange.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Solstice Venus

Tuesday, June 20 - Solstice.

High temperatures and high pollen counts have come to the Willamette Valley. This makes it difficult to decide if one should open the windows to air out the house or not.  It also makes it difficult to do things in the afternoon -- between the two I found myself taking a nap.  And then staying up a little later than normal.

This morning, I woke up briefly at 4 to watch the crescent moon and Venus, which were right next to each other.  Night was just beginning to surrender to twilight, so the sky was dark and the stars were still bright.  Unfortunately for viewing, so was my neighbor's front porch light.  Out back, the moon and Venus were low in the sky, and difficult to see through the trees.

Later, around 6, the moon and Venus were surprisingly higher in the sky.  I watered the plants and as the rising sunlight painted cherry tree's leaves pink, I could still see the moon and Venus shining next to each other.  Since the Summer Solstice is in twenty-eight hours, I sang "Center of the Sun" as I watered.  A half-an-hour later, the moon still guides the eye to Venus's secret peripheral flash in a brightening sky.

I haven't been writing about the gym lately, but I have been going.  Monday night:  250 cal on the elliptical; 100 cal on the cable rowing machine.   3x13x60lbs on the pec fly;  3x13x70lbs on the lat pull-down; 3x13 Roman chair hanging curls.  3x13x35lbs barbell curls, 3x13x35 reverse barbell pulls.  3x13x20 lbs triceps pulldowns.

The previous two visits, the gym's stereo had been broken; I really liked not having to hear songs like "Lay Down Sally," and "Keep on Rocking Me Baby," which are basically guys trying to pick up women for a one night stand.

I feel like I'm back to my pre-spring levels.  My arm strength feels good, and I'm liking the way my body is looking (well, OK, I'm still working on the old-thin-guy bicycle tire that starts at my back and meets at my belly).  I read up a little on chin-ups, and it appears that my next goal is to work on my grip strength so I can hang from a bar for longer than ten seconds.  And I should do a quick front- side- and reverse-plank routine at home on non-gym days.

Writing has been... slow.  I had a good session Saturday where I sort of closed my eyes and worked on a story for a while; I got 800 words (and a few typos when my hands drifted off the keyboard) and the solid beginning of a story out of that.  But it lately--and by lately I mean for the last four months--writing short stories has been like walking back and forth at the edge of a swampy morass, thinking that there's a island hill you'd like to get to, but choosing the best way to begin is not clear and making any progress is countered by wading through deepening muck and a sense that maybe the hill you thought you wanted to get to wasn't what you actually had in mind.

Hmm.  Time to see why this might be the case and make some adjustments to sleep, eating, and discipline.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Searching at Reed Reunion

Friday I went to Reed for my 30 year reunion.

I jumped into the car at more-or-less 5 AM and drove to Portland, beating most of the early morning commuters and pulling into Reed two hours later.  I think the last time I spent any time on the campus was 1992.  The parking lot had expanded, the laurel hedge that had provided caves of green between the campus and the local golf course was gone.  There was a new, modernish-looking building dominating the lot, which I later learned was a Performance Center.
The campus was opened in the early 1900's; the older brick buildings have griffins and owls and gargoyles carved above doorways and windows.  I would say the style is Gothic, or maybe some secular, American Neo-Gothic -- maybe pre-Arts-and-Crafts, with a romantic nod to Medievalism.   Originally, the plan was for long rows of brick crenelations to form square courtyards spanning the 150-some acreage of the college, but building didn't get that far.  The buildings tend to run east-west, with newer 50's and 60's glass and concrete box buildings appearing in the east, and 70's-90's buildings popping up in the west, near the parking lot I was parked in.

I straightened out my long, brightly-colored Dr. Who scarf and wandered around the Old Dorm Block and Commons area with the vague notion that I'd bump into one of my old classmates.  A tree in front of Doyle Dorm was missing the limb I used to sit on and read.  There was a large, white, empty tent in the middle of the quad between Old Dorm Block and the remodeled commons.  Another tree west of Elliot Hall that I used to sit in and read was gone altogether.   The quiet and emptiness and vaguely misplaced landscape was like being at Reed and not at the same time.

Reed sometimes is the back-drop for my dreams.  Typically, I fly around Elliot Hall, or I'm walking along the brick buildings of a dream mash-up of the Old Dorm Block (which I never lived in) and other vaguely collegiate buildings, trying to find something.  The sense of being in some kind of dreamscape was set by wandering around a mostly empty campus under partially-cloudy skies, and continued throughout the day.

Things picked up during check-in, because there were actual awake people in search of coffee (I had a thermos mug of tea).  I kept expecting to meet old classmates, but I didn't see anyone I recognized as I got breakfast.  Over the day, I continued to see folks who I mistook for classmates, but who, upon reflection, couldn't be that young, or if they did look sufficiently fifty-something, weren't.  There were a lot of older alumni -- which I should have expected, since it was a Friday morning and anyone under retirement age would be working -- so I felt like I was on some sort of Elderhostle Cruise.  My classmates either were on a field-trip, or driving in from their local homes.

I took a hike from the outdoor amphitheatre and headed east, toward the Art Building.  The Thesis Bridge had been replaced last time I visited (so I was expecting the new one), and the paths seemed farther away from The Lake than I recalled.  I passed a young woman going west with an umbrella.  The only traces of the old wide pipe you could cross the lake over were the remains of sinking wooden trestles.  I met another woman heading west; her dog seemed surprised by my scarf.   There were more wooden walkways, and the path seemed more maintained than it did in the 80's.  I followed it to the overgrown fens, where Crystal Creek runs through foliage and it's easy to pretend that Portland,  the Woodstock Neighborhood,  and even the buildings of Reed are in some distant realm.  

I continued east, and entered into a grove of trees.  Then I hit a Y in the path; this was odd, because there hadn't been a Y in the woods that I remembered.  I walked a little more east, and recognized a special tree.   Something was different; I took the other branch of the Y and came out at the Art Building (or, as we used to call it, the "'Is It Art Yet?' Building."  Working it out later, I realized the Y in the 80's had been at the edge of a meadow--but in the thirty years since I walked the path, the trees had grown over, advancing almost to the Art Building itself.  I peered into the room where we used to do calligraphy.

I went to the Library; the front is now a glassed in emergency exit, and the men's room with the Camel Cigarettes graffiti is ... a closet?  Even after visiting twenty-five years ago, I'm still weirded out by the conversion of the open-air courtyard where we once danced under a Renn Faire Full Moon into a sky-lighted periodical reading room.

I spent about a half hour doing calligraphy -- the person running the workshop hadn't heard about Deborah Gwartney, who had run calligraphy for about two years in the 80's -- and then went on a rare book collection tour.  Even though I had a brief stint as a student worker in the catalogue department, I never knew that the Reed Library had things like parchment that Pope Urbane had written on.  They also had a Renaissance song book that was monster-sized so that all the monks in a monastery could gather around it and sing.

Half against my will, I found myself in the Theses Tower, where I pulled out my thesis.  I'd forgotten the title was "'...To Get a Ten Cent Debt Off My Conscience:'  A Study in Posted Feedback."  It was about as campy as I remember.  I looked at photos of myself from thirty years ago -- I was wearing a dark jacket with a paisley lining and lots of buttons on my lapel.  I had to laugh a little because thirty years later I was wearing a dark jacket shot with purple threads, a purple satin lining, and a pink triangle pin and a silver lizard pin.

The first person I ran into that I knew was Professor Albyn Jones, my old statistics instructor, at lunch.  He's retiring soon; I remember when he first arrived at Reed and taught us all the S statistics package.  We had a nice chat, along with another alumna -- what struck me about her story was that after Reed she'd had a series of various jobs, the theme of which was, "And then I taught myself....."

After lunch, I ran into Professor Irena Swanson during her presentation of quilts (which are cool).  I was expecting the scarf to help people recognize me, but Irena said that she recognized me by my gait.  Now that I think about it, when I bumped into one of my old high school friends a few years ago, the first thing out of her mouth was, "Oh my, you still have the same mannerisms and gestures."  It's funny what stays the same.

After the talk, I went on a tour of the steam tunnel, which I'd never been in.  The graffiti was interesting, and we were encouraged to add our own.  I wrote "The cake is a lie!" on one of the pipes.

I did more traipsing around campus:  the mailroom had been moved to the opposite end of the commons building, and the bookstore had been moved.  The old spiral staircase was gone, too.  I wandered around to Elliot Hall; the old Terminal Ward was somebody's office, and my old thesis office was now an elevator shaft.  At Elliot Hall, I ran into Chris Lydgate and some other alumni.

Chris was the first person to recognize me from the scarf.  He's currently the editor of Reed Magazine.   We looked at more bits of Elliot Hall:  the shortened lecture hall on the second floor and the removed chalkboard replaced by a door (but the wooden dentals surrounding missing chalkboard's frame are still there).  I got the sense that we were reassuring each other that we remembered things the same way.  While I was speaking to Chris, I said, "The thing that this reunion has driven home to me is that the past has a physicality that we can't return to."

At dinner, other folks from my class appeared:  Suzi Abe, Stephan G, Dave Baxter, Jane Leu, and Irena gathered together.  Stephan pulled out an old photo album and someone, possibly, Suzi said, "We were just children."  And we were -- it was about then that I realized that I had been superimposing my 1980's memories of what people looked like over their current faces.  We fell into conversation with an ease that I hadn't expected, but should have given our shared time at Reed.  We wondered where folks not there were (I'd spent a lot of time with 1986 folks).  We commiserated about some of the nonexistent student counseling we got.  We had a lot of fun recalling old times.

And then it was time to go.  I had to drive back home and prepare for The Child's Birthday Party Nerf Gun Extravaganza.  I walked with my class to their evening Trivia Event, said good-bye, and did one last circuit of campus.

There was a special dinner going on the old Theatre Building, and the old black box theatre had been replaced with administrative offices.  The path following the creek below the building was gone, or at least not visible.  I took a new bridge over the lower canyon and looked for the lower meadows, but I couldn't see them.  I used to be able to walk along canyon trails from the Theatre Building to the Is-It-Art-Building, but I had a feeling that wasn't the case anymore.  The meadow where we'd feasted one Renn Faire was overgrown.   I walked through the cross-canyon dorms -- I'd lived in McKinley -- which were in various states of de- or re-construction.  The deck which had run outside my room was gone.

I crossed the new bridge spanning the middle of the canyon for one last look at Elliot Hall; its ruddy brick Neo-gothic rampart rose up in the early evening sky.  An irrational pulse of nostalgia welled up within me -- could I come back to Reed but... the only way to return to Reed would be as a student; as an employee of Reed, I'd A) have to apply and be hired by the college, B) move to Portland, and C) it wouldn't be community I'd had in the 1980's.   And it was the nerdy, wordy, crazy, autodidactic community that I wanted and have tried to re-find where ever I live.

I headed back to the parking lot.  Sounds from scattered parties and dinners under outdoor lights or from lounges joined the sounds of the evening.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Gym Report and Stuff

Went to the gym Sunday.  30 minutes and 310 calories on the elliptical.  3x13x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x13x80lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 hanging curls on the Roman Chair.  3x12x35lbs barbell curls.  3x12x35lbs reverse barbell pull-ups.  3x12x30lbs triceps pull-downs.

Lots of projects hanging in the air this week.   The Child's birthday is coming up, and I've designed a Nerf Gun target out of cardboard that sorts the bullets into trays depending on where on a target they hit.  There's several writing deadlines looming, too.  I'm also going to Reed for a day to participate in the 30 year celebration going on.  

The most recent distraction is a game I purchased called 4-D Toys.  It draws 4 dimensional objects like tesseracts onto a dimensional space and then you can manipulate them.  It's possible to knock objects out of the dimensional space you're looking at, and then they disappear.  It's also possible for one part of a tesseract that isn't in your 3D space to knock into another hidden tesseract and have that one slide into the 3D space.  It's confusing.  And fun.

It's pollen season.  I don't mind so much, although I could do without the itchy eyes.  Mark is being hit much more severely.  The last few weeks have been cooler and damper, so I'm not sure if that's prolonging the pollen or making it more severe or what.  

The last few mornings have been cloudy, but today (Tuesday) I managed to see Venus.  It's a few days after Venus's greatest elongation, but Venus is still very high in the morning sky.  The following days have been overcast, and Friday is supposed to be cold and rainy.  Which I kind of like.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Impressions of Ghosts

I had the oddest sensation of ghosts the other day.  I was in an old dormitory building that had been converted into an administrative office.  The hallway and the small doors lining it took on a constricting aspect, and although the hall was empty, it felt like I pressed through clusters of people congealed out of time.  If I wasn't at work, I would have stopped for a moment to see what other impressions came.

I did a quick Internet search, and the building in question doesn't pop up on any lists of haunted Eugene or campus sites (the closest is the cemetery near the Knight Library).

Gym:  I've gone to the gym two times since the last time I posted about the gym; a little less than I'd like.  And in fact... I'm off to the gym now.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Piano Parts


Have some photos of the mechanics of piano keys...

Our local piano teacher received a part of a piano.
I wanted to photograph it as soon as I saw it.  These are the hammers that strike the piano wires.
I think this is where the piano wires would terminate.
The mechanical parts of the keys were finely machined and balanced pieces of wood held in place by metal pins and balanced with lead weights.
The hammer-and-keys were complicated -- the idea is that the hammers bounce up and then fall back a little to allow the strings to vibrate.  

There are a lot of felt and cork pads where the bits of mechanism meet.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Reunion Ruminations

Went to the gym Monday.  Short session.  25 minutes on the elliptical for 270 cal.  3x12x60lbs on the pec-fly.  3x12x80lbs on the lat pulldown (back to my old Fall level).  3x12x35 barbell curls.  3x8x30lbs triceps curls.

My hand and feet joints have been bothering me the last few days.  I'm hoping it's caused by the rain-again-sun-again weather we've been having.  I know when it's bad when I clutch fresh tea mugs in my hand the same way David Carradine branded his forearms by pressing them against an iron hot cauldron.

The last iris bloom is in the back.  We've had roughly two weeks of them, and now they are almost gone until next May.

Went to the gym Thursday.  About 20 minutes and 180 cal on the elliptical.  10 minutes and 120 cal on the cable row machine.  3x12x60lbs on the pec-fly.  3x13x80lbs on the lat pull down.  3x12 hanging curls on the Roman Chair.  12x20lbs + 2X1230lbs on the the tricpts pull-down.  Some assorted assisted chin-ups.

I'm in a bit of a dither about my 30th Reed Reunion.

+ On one hand, it would be fun to go.

- On the other, the timing is really awkward.  It coincides with The Child's Birthday, and I'd considered going for one day before-hand... which means Birthday Prep would need to be juggled around.

+ On the first hand,  Reed was a good fit in a lot of ways for early-tween me.  

- Back on the other hand... eh, Reed-schmeed... it seems like a fund-raising event disguised as a party.

+ Back on the "go" hand, it would be fun to tour the reactor and see the campus (I haven't been in... 1992 ?).

- On the other hand, sometimes when I think about instances of lack of educational guidance I got there, I get angry -- yeah, I was hapless -- and I fell for the Big Lie of Reed about grades don't matter at Reed.   My friends used to joke that I was a Theatre Major disguised as a Physics Major disguised as a Psych Major.

+  Then again, going to Reed resulted in my career of User Services.  Not that I studied math there or anything...

Grumble.  I suppose underneath some of this is a sense that the Reunion will feed my imposter syndrome....

Saturday I got up early, wrote for about an hour, then went to the gym for a 90 minute session.  About 35 minutes and 350 cal on the elliptical (if I can believe the machine, I burnt off a Snickers bar).  5 minutes and 50 cal on the cable row machine.  3x12x60lbs on the pec-fly.  3x13x80lbs on the lat pull down.  3x12 hanging curls on the Roman Chair.  3x12x35 barbell curls.  3x8x35 reverse barbell pulls.  3x12x30lbs on the the tricpts pull-down.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Gym Time and Body Image

Went to the gym Thursday.   Did a set of regular and side-planks just before the gym.  15-20 minutes on the cable rowing machine for 200 calories.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly machine.  3x13x70lbs on the lat pull-downs.  3x13 hanging curls on the Roman Chair. 3x12x35lbs barbell curls.   I think this has been a not-so-good week for eating too much junk food, because my belly fat seems more prominent and I've gained about two pounds.

The other day at the swimming pool when I was getting dressed, I happened to look up and saw my reflection in the mirror.  I look ... kind of stout.  Not fat, but jiggly like a serving of Spam.  Or like a retired wrestler.  I think I expected to look more defined, at least in the arms, after swimming (OK, sliding down the water slide). It was a " body's alright / but not at this angle / and not in this light" moment.  

Yes; I'm focusing on abs.  Yes; I know belly fat is hard to get rid of and you can't spot target fat.  Yes; I know I probably want a 10% body fat body without having to give up various snacks which are probably keeping me at 20%.  Yes; momento mori "and we all loose our shape in the end."  

I suppose it's time to eat more vegetables or something.

Gym Saturday:  Somehow I was the first person at the gym and for about five minutes I was the only person.  20 minutes and 200 calories on the elliptical.  10 minutes on the cable rowing machine for 110 calories.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly machine.  3x12x70lbs on the lat pull-downs.  3x13 hanging curls on the Roman Chair. 3x12x35lbs barbell curls.  3x12x35 reverse barbell pulls.   

Sunday we had a nice visit with my family in Corvallis.  My dad prepared a hearty brunch for us for Mother's Day.  There was dog walking, piano playing, and computer consulting.  Afterward, we helped my sister with various craft projects for my niece's upcoming mermaid-themed birthday party.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Does it Count?

Quick Post.

No gym time since Saturday.  But I did have a power-walk for ten blocks on Sunday (I was surprised how far I got in about 10 minutes; I guess sessions on the elliptical paid off.)  Monday night I swam five or so laps in a pool (Australian Crawl and Breast Stroke), plus free swimming in a wave pool and closing down the Water Slide!

I just Googled "should I be embarrassed about playing on a water slide" and I think the answer is "No; you should be worried that you could be killed on a water slide."  Bleah.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Conquering? Architecture

While I was watching a short film about a menhir, one of the speakers, presumably an architect, said something along the lines of "architecture is about domination; as soon as you stand up a stone, it confronts you:  you must stop or go around it."   This was all said while a camera panned over rows and rows and rows of standing stones--some with glyphs carved onto them--near a shoreline.   I'm pretty sure phrases like "conquer the landscape" were in there, too.  

The words struck me as very stereotypical white-European-male, because I always thought architecture (at least non-military architecture) was a response to the questions, "how do I make a safe space for my family?" and "how do I arrange building elements into an aesthetically pleasing fashion?" and "how do present the space as a delightful puzzle of discovery?"  not, "how do I conquer you?"

The stones were raised in paleolithic times, when Alpine jade axe heads were status items.  I'd like to think that humans in this time were less isolated by civilization from the natural word, and that in part the stones were an artistic or "natural" response to the natural world.   There was some evidence that the stones were being used as maps and safe channel markers; that they were a reaction to the surrounding waters... OK, given the boat  and axe imagery, and possibly chronicles of invaders or explorers.  The documentary mentioned that wave glyphs on the stones could be indicative of a final funerary voyage.  (I've romantically imagined a passage through a Labyrinth of Waves.)  

But what if the stones were sympathetic magic to control the sea currents -- or an artistic expression of the waves executed in standing stones on the land?  Maybe the rows and rows of stones are like the rows and rows of grave markers at Arlington.  Unlike some of the shore-side dolmens ('The Merchants' Table), I don't know if there are graves under all the stones lining the shore (research!) but I could imagine a line of the dead standing between a village and the power of the sea. 

But then again, maybe the stones are a kind of phallic marker, the architectural equivalent of pissing on a tree to mark a territory.  I'm trying to think what the difference between a wolf or a bear or a cat  marking a territory and a human doing it is.  It's like pissing one's name in the snow, which I've never understood the appeal of....  Which I guess is me asking the question, "If a man pisses in the woods, is space conquered?"

I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere.