mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The summer of our discontent...

The Obama administration has taken a lot of drubbing from the right of late for it's claims at the beginning of this summer that this would be a "summer of recovery", since the numbers don't exactly show much in the way of recovery. But while I might disagree with their fiscal policies, I can hardly blame them for being overly optimistic about the magic of summer.

I always seem to look forward to summer, and always anticipate that it's going to be awesome and life-changing - I'm going to do all the things I want to do, go all kinds of places, succeed at things I've always failed at, and otherwise have an amazing summer. And I'm always disappointed, yet do the same thing every year, like a gambler convinced that this time that long shot horse will pay off.

There are a couple reasons I tend to look forward to summer. The first is that I hate cold weather - my thin skin gets chapped and bleeds, I hate having to put on shoes and pants and jackets and wait for the heat to come on in my truck and having to scrape ice off the windshield and shovel snow and a hundred other things.

The other big reason is that I work in higher ed, so summers are theoretically slower than the school year - most of the faculty and students are gone, so there are fewer users, and the campus is overall easier to navigate without scores of students hogging all the good parking spaces and the good seats at the cafeteria.

But work hasn't really been that much slower, because we've got a ton of projects we do during the summer, and because with people out on vacation, you are trying to pick up their slack.

This summer, I hoped to accomplish a bunch of stuff - I was hoping to take a vacation, something I don't normally do - I wanted to go to the unclaimed mail auction in Atlanta. I was also hoping to have some success in dating - last summer I actually managed to get some dates via an online dating site, and I was hoping that it was due to the magic of summer.

Alas, it looks like my dates were a fluke, and I never got an actual vacation. My mom had knee replacement surgery this summer, so I ended up in NJ at the parent's house helping them out rather than in the ATL.

That's not to say my summer was a total bust. I did make a few day trips to pick up stuff I won in online auctions, which along with some other auction and yard sale finds made for a fairly lucrative summer, financially. I went to a bunch more hamfests than I normally do. I started doing some strength training, and while I'm never going to be Mr. Universe, I think I've made a little progress.

My mom is probably going to be having her other knee replaced in November, which will require some more trips to NJ, but at least it means hopefully by next summer she'll have two decent knees and maybe I'll actually be able to take a vacation. And I should probably also make more of an effort next year to get all the stuff I've said I'm going to get done around the house done - get the shed fixed, get the grill working, get my broken front stairs replaced, and maybe even get my bathroom brought out of the late 70's.

Still don't know how to fix the whole dating thing, though...

Monday, September 06, 2010

Of half-marathons and half-hearted workouts...

So it's been a few months since I started adding some strength training to my workout routine. So how's it going?

I really don't know. Probably not as well as it should. When I started out, I would do about 20 minutes at the gym every day, and probably another 15 minutes or so at home. I've dropped the home stuff, although I'm hoping to re-add it. I've been kind of busy with taking care of the parents and with my side eBay/hamfest businesses and haven't devoted as much time as I should be to keeping in shape. I need to get back to putting in the time and effort if I actually want to make any gains. I've also found myself shaving 15 minutes or so off my cardio workouts on occasion, a habit I need to get myself out of, and I need to get back to watching what I eat.

That isn't to say that I haven't been doing some strength training, and it's probably had at least a tiny impact. I can't say that I've added enough muscle for anyone to notice, except myself if I squint real hard and use my imagination. But I can set the weight a little higher than when I started, so I've gotten at least a little better - and I've noticed when I need to carry, say, 50 pounds of kitty litter into Casa De Mad (for Nibbler the cat to poop on!) it's not quite as taxing as it used to be.

The hardest thing about trying to build muscle, as opposed to losing weight, is that it's a lot harder to set goals and measure. I guess if I was really serious, I could be one of those people who keeps a notebook of how much they lifted and how many reps they did every day, but I haven't been. I also didn't, say, measure my biceps before starting. Weight loss provides a pretty easy and fairly immediate feedback - you weigh less than you did the last time you weighed yourself, so you are succeeding. It's easy to set a goal - lose x per week, lose y total - and know pretty quickly if you are on the right track to getting there.

When it comes to strength training, I'm not even sure what I'm trying to achieve. If i just want to be a little healthier and have an easier time lifting stuff, I'm doing OK. If I actually want to look good and build a lot of muscle, I'm pretty sure I will never succeed - I just don't think I'm dedicated enough to put in the time and effort it takes to look "ripped". It doesn't help that almost all of my coworkers are very serious lifters, so pretty much every day I'm reminded how much more dedicated and less lazy they are compared to me, and how that as a result I'll probably die alone.

That is, if I don't die while "running" the Baltimore Half-Marathon next month. I had thought about doing it, in the same sort of "things I've thought about but almost certainly will never do" way I've thought about quitting my job and going to law school or of buying a used 1987 Bentley Mulsanne off of eBay. But I was killing time online while babysitting my parents last month, and visited the website - and noticed that the half-marathon was almost sold out. So I signed up. At least I'll get a t-shirt out of it. I've never done anything resembling running, and routinely get laughed at when I try. So I don't have a lot of hope. I figure I'm probably going to be walking it more than running or jogging, and I'll be happy if i manage to finish in the 5.5 hours before they start kicking people off the course. I probably should actually try to do some outdoor running, given that the closest thing I've done is my daily 90 minute Precore workouts, which take place in a climate-controlled gym full of TV's, and fall several miles short of 13.3 miles. But I figure it's one of those things I should try once, and maybe I'll actually enjoy it or not completely suck at it - but I doubt it, since I generally suck at almost everything I've tried doing.