Threeish Miles

So much stuff happened yesterday, and not all of it was good. But let’s try and focus on the good part, shall we?

I had to get the brakes fixed on my car, about a $900 repair. So I dropped off my car and decided to walk home – it’s something I’ve done before, after all, so why not? It sure beat sitting at the garage for the 2 1/2 hours it would take. With that thought in mind, I threw on my headphones and started walking.

I just googled the distance. It turns out that it is 2.8 miles from the garage I used to my condo. They estimate it can be walked in 58 minutes. It took me about 75, but there were a couple of delays. One was the classic “call of nature”, and we’ll leave it at that. The other was tripping and falling.

That last was fun, particularly since it happened while I was crossing a (thankfully not busy) side street, about 1/4 of the way along my route. I don’t know if I tripped, or if I lost my footing as I moved from sidewalk to road, or what. All I know was that I was suddenly and badly off-balance. I managed approximately three steps while thinking “I don’t really want to fall”, and down I went. Landed mostly on my left knee and then my elbow.

Don’t worry, I’m not badly hurt. It felt like it took forever to get organized and be able to stand up, but it couldn’t really have been more than 30 seconds. My knee ached (it turned out I scraped it enough to bleed slightly), and I limped for the next 50 yards or so until I – as they say – walked it off. For some reason, my upper left arm actually aches mire than my knee.

So, that’s my exciting cross-country walk story. It made sure I hit my walking goal, but also means I’m adjusting my exercises for a while. Squats and pushups are on hold until my knee and arm feel better, because I can put weight on my arm but see no reason to push it and risk injuring myself more.

Good times. Here’s hoping today goes better.

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App Review: iNaturalist

Pokémon Go is, apparently, a gateway drug to getting interested in nature.

During the spring, when we were walking home from kindergarten, my son picked up a leaf and asked what kind of tree it was from. I didn’t know, but I figured that (as the joke says) there was an app for that. A little searching led me to INaturalist, a “crowdsourced species identification system and an organism occurrence recording tool. You can use it to record your own observations, get help with identifications, collaborate with others to collect this kind of information for a common purpose, or access the observational data collected by iNaturalist users.”

Wordy, right? It’s a lot simpler to use, though. You just take one or more pictures and upload it (I use the iOS app for that purpose). You can fill in what it is if you already know, and there’s an image-matching algorithm that will suggest possible identifications if you don’t. Then, other users can comment on it and make suggestions as well.

Greenshield lichen. My latest catch.

What do a do with it? Mostly, if I see something cool – especially if I don’t know what it is – I’ll snap a picture and upload it. Mostly it’s been plants and fungus, but I’ve got a bagworm cocoon and a lizard and a deer as well. (For the record, I know what a deer is. And just wanted to share.). My son uses it, too. He’s the one who’s spotted more than half of the things I’ve photographed and uploaded, and he insists I use the app to find out what it is, now. Which brings me back to the Pokémon Go comparison I made earlier – it really does feel like I’m “trying to catch them all” when I go walking, now. I spend mire time looking around, trying to spot something new and interesting.

The lizard I mentioned. Sadly, still unidentified.

The iNaturalist people say that their primary goal is to “connect people with nature”. I think they may have succeeded.

The Festival of Lights

First off, I’m down another pound!

I’ll be honest here. There is a little vote ce in my head saying something along the lines of “just one pound? That’s all?” But I’m telling that voice to shut up, because I lost that pound over Thanksgiving week, and I sort of went off the calorie rails. With that in mind, one pound is really good.

But that’s not the cool thing I did the cool thing was the annual Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. Every year the entire zoo is decorated with Christmas lights, and you can go see the animals that don’t mind the cold, and ooh and aah over the lights, and generally have a grand “get in the mood for the season” time.

This year, the weather was perfect. Like, “wearing a light jacket” perfect. My wife and I, and our son and 7-year-old nephew went and spent three hours walking up and down the park. We got there an hour ad a half before sundown and stayed until an hour and a half after, and had a great time.

Did I mention that we walked, or at least stood, the vast majority of that time? Because, yeah. We did. I covered five and a half miles that Saturday, and at least four of those miles were at the Zoo. And it was a great reminder of why I’m still trying to do all of this. I won’t say my legs weren’t sore at the end, or that I wasn’t glad to sit down when we got to the car. But you know what? If the kids hadn’t started getting cold and tired and hungry, and if they’d wanted to stay longer? I could have, and I could have kept up with them.

It makes all of this worth it, really.

Turkey Coma

Maybe it was all the turkey I ate yesterday. Maybe it was just getting to sleep in, and spend the whole day at home and do nothing in particular other than cook. I don’t know. But, whatever it was, I just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm or energy to do any of my exercises this morning. My alarm went off on time and I just reset it, letting me sleep al the way until 3:45 am.

I’m going to try and get them done today anyway. But, let’s be honest here, it will be at best a struggle. And if I don’t, then Monday I’ll be back on track once more.

No, that’s all. Now, back to trying to focus on a day that is simultaneously the second Friday and Monday this week.

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

It’s Thanksgiving here in the United States, a holiday with some degree of controversy surrounding it. Me, I try to use it as a day to be grateful for the things and people in my life. And despite the sarcastic title, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. A marvelous wife and partner, full of wise and loyal cling advice (and more patience than I think I deserve some days). An amazing son who makes me proud and happy every day. A warm, comfortable condo. A good job, and reliable transpiration to get me to that job.

And today, more than anything, I’m glad I survived my double charley horses.

Yeah, you read that right. I was doing my “flat belly workout”, because I probably won’t hit my walking goal but it’s still an exercise day – and knocked out my 40 miserable jumping jacks first. As I finished, I felt that familiar tightening in my calves. Both of them. Fortunately I was still standing, so I managed to walk and lunge them off before they got bad. But as I was doing that, I felt the muscles trying to ball themselves up into tight knots of agony. Even now, I can feel the soreness where the cramp tried to get started.

But hey, at least I was awake. Last time I had one, it was my morning alarm. And that was terrible.

Or, if you’re not an American, Happy Thursday!

Swordfighting For Health

We were out…well, not really late last night. Except maybe by my “I get up at 3 am” standards. When we got home, my son still wanted to play. He didn’t have to go to school in the morning, and wanted to stay up. I hesitated at first, but… “for a little while,” I said. “What do you want to play?”

“Let’s swordfight!” he declared, handing me his light-up Minecraft Christmas sword (yes, that’s a thing) and then running off to get one of his lightsabers.

Well, I decided, if we’re going to do this we’re going to do this right. So I’ve got John Williams’ Duel of the Fates queues up by the time he gets back, and we go at it – with my son declaring himself Obi-Wan and me filling the role of a Christmas-theme Darth Maul. It ended with me getting my legs cut off and stabbed in the stomach repeatedly.

Somewhere in there, I also covered the last quarter-mile I needed to walk for the day. I guess we were pretty energetic.

Is there a point to this? Sure. Exercise doesn’t have to be work. In fact, if you’re having fun with it, you’ll be far mire likely to do it.

Jumping Jacks. Just… Wow, They Suck

Overall, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking with that “flat belly workout” I described recently. I missed one day last week, and I’ve done them yesterday and today. I’m still feeling it all in my legs and arms and gut – it’s not painful or aching, but there’s a definite awareness that I’ve been working this muscles. Also, not surprisingly, my belly isn’t particularly flattened yet. It’s only been a week and a half, after all.

Jumping jacks are terrible, though.

Seriously. By the time I get my 40 done, ‘m winded. I didn’t expect that part. I was prepared for my knees to hurt, or my legs. Not to be left breathing hard and contemplating the poor life decisions that brought me to that point. Which means, of course, that they’re probably good for me. But if I thought I could get away with it and still get the benefits, I’d ditch them in a heartbeat.

Ah, well. Enough whining. I’m going to keep at it, so I may as well get comfortable with them. Maybe they’ll get easier as time goes on?