February 26, 2013

Walking The Walk

When did we forget how to walk?

No, I mean how to walk farther than from the parking lot into the grocery store.

When was it that we forgot how to walk a moderate distance - like five miles? Many adults today can't remember the last time they walked five miles. I'll bet there are lots of high school kids who have never walked five miles in their entire lives.

For tens of thousands of years, if you wanted to go anywhere and didn't have a horse, you walked. Period. Five, ten, fifteen miles - if you had to get there, you walked. You didn't complain about it - it was something you just did, like breathing, or hauling water from the well.

Serious walkers - like armies on the march or folks making pilgrimages - walked hundreds or even thousands of miles. Well OK, some of them may have complained a bit. After all, suffering a little is what making a pilgrimage is all about.

But that all started changing a mere hundred years ago or so. And now look at the sorry state we're in.

Think about it. If you told someone you just walked two miles to the grocery to pick up a box of cornflakes, what's the first thing they would ask you?

"Why, what's wrong with your car?"

(In California, they would ask, "You mean all of your cars are in the shop at once?")

At some of our larger shopping malls, people walk out to their cars, drive to the other end of the parking lot, and re-enter the mall because it's "too far" to walk from one end of the mall to the other.

If you think about it in a detached, objective way, this is a little sick - literally. We should be asking why we're not leaving the damned car in the garage and walking a piddling little distance like two or three miles. Our bodies evolved over millions of years to carry us, under our own steam, distances much farther than that. What are we doing to those bodies by protecting them from even this small amount of exercise?

Statistics are starting to prove overwhelmingly just what we're doing to our bodies. A lot of those statistics have to do with our diet. But most discussions of the connection between diet and rampant obesity also mention the lack of even the simplest exercise in our lives. And even light exercise like walking is proving to have nearly as much benefit as more rigorous running, cycling, swimming, or trying to figure out how Windows 8 works.

But why am I ranting thus?

Well two reasons, actually.

The first is that I started walking - for fun as much as anything - about a year and a half ago when I discovered I couldn't go more than about three miles without getting tired. That scared the shitake mushrooms out of me, after being able to ride my bike all day without too much fatigue just a few years earlier.

The second is that fellow blogger, Frogma, started posting about her personal 'NONgoal' to paddle and walk a hundred miles in a month. Hmmm, I checked my logs and discovered I'd been doing about 65 miles a month for most of last year and wondered if I could do 100 in a month, too.

So, I set my own NONgoal at the beginning of this month and just passed 100 miles a few days ago - coincidentally about when Frogma also logged 100 miles.

Being a bit more anal than Frogma, I guess, I set up a spreadsheet to log my daily progress, which I can now share with you here via the wonder of Google Docs.

In theory, it wouldn't be too hard to set up one Google Doc that allowed a number of bloggers to log their progress in the same place and compare results. But that sounds a little too competitive for the water blogging community I know. Or is it?

At any rate, outing my progress like this gives me some incentive to stay on task. I'll be updating the log every time I walk throughout the year, so you can follow just how well or poorly I'm doing, if you are terminally bored.

I could go on about what I like about walking, but if you already do some regular exercise, you probably know about the peculiar addiction that develops to this sort of thing, and about how you actually feel worse if you start missing too many days.

If you don't exercise, you are probably already pissed off by these arrogant, elitist, holier-than-thou skinny little shits with the bumper stickers that say things like, "I'd rather be jogging," so I won't piss you off any more.

But, you may have noticed that I like duking it out in the comments page, so feel free to vent.

February 11, 2013

Warhol Retrospective At Tate Modern

Sorry to intrude on the territory of London blogger, Captain JP, but I had to post a few words about the upcoming Andy Warhol restrospective at London's Tate Modern museum.

The controversial 20th century American artist who launched the Pop Art movement in the 1960s is perhaps best remembered for his posterized multiple image prints of iconic figures from American culture like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Muhammad Ali, and Elizabeth Taylor.

But the highlight of the Tate exhibit will be the first public showing of a recently discovered print of American sailing icon Tillerman.

I imagine JP will have more details for us when the exhibit opens in April.

February 10, 2013

A Snowy Morning

Whose garage this is I think I know.
His mind is focused elsewhere though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
As he curses at the snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a tavern near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The coldest morning of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of snow shovel and downy flake.  

The drive is lovely, long and steep.  
The dude has promises to keep,  
And drifts to shovel before he sleeps,  
And drifts to shovel before he sleeps.