Category Archives: Health/Fitness

Family Biking and Binge Watching during a Pandemic DaughterHealth/FitnessNews

I promised in a previous entry that I’d talk about what we did during The 2020 Pandemic. At least I thought I did. Regardless, I’m doing so now even if you were not forewarned!

I guess the best thing that came out of the spring of 2020 was Allison finally getting comfortable on her bike. For most of the summer she enjoyed just riding up and down our street learning how to hit the bumps and how fast she could go before her little bike would start to wobble. Of course we had to go on some bike ride adventures too – including hunting down the Easter Bunny who was riding around our neighborhood on the back of a firetruck. In the past year Allison little bike has been upgraded to a “big girl” bike but still prefers her original. 

But there are days that are cold, lazy. dark or wet. Sometimes all four. Bicycles are not appropriate. You need to kill some time during lockdown?  Forget a measly 8 seasons of Game of Thrones.  Try binge-watching 706+ episodes of The Simpsons! It took a year and a half watching an episode or two or four a day but we made it through all 32 seasons available at the time. Not all of them are available on DVD so we had to pick up a subscription to Disney+ for a few months to finish it off. 

Along the way Allison was introduced to hundreds of cultural references. Often I would stop the show and google up some explanations, maps, videos or movie clips. Off the top of my head, The World Trade Towers, the World Wars, The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, various world religions, Busch Gardens, Orson Wells, Lassie, 2001: A Space Odyssey (Daisy, daisy…), Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Star Wars, Rain Man, Planet of the Apes (Rock Me Dr. Zaius!). So many movies and songs! Watching episodes of The Simpsons directly led us to then watching Gremlins, The Nutty Professor, Mary Poppins and Kindergarten Cop. Homer’s love of the song Funkytown led to Allison rediscovering her love of the Lipps Inc’s one-hit-wonder. 

While the show does excel at low-brow humor, we did occasionally raise our brows with discussion of some of the many literary references in the show. Ayn Rand, Goodnight Moon (read by Christopher Walken no less), Harry Potter, Charlotte’s Web, Robert Frost, Kurt Vonnegut. The last was accidentally timed perfectly as I just happened to be listening to “Slaughterhouse 5” at the time it came up. Allison listened in for a while before deciding the poetic prose wasn’t her style. 

Probably the most interesting part of (re)watching the shows for me was picking out the voice actors and guest stars… or just Frank Welker’s animal noises. We enjoyed watching clips of the actors doing their various voices and impersonators doing what they do… often poorly. My voice is naturally closest to Hank Azaria’s so I can impersonate the characters that he voices… often poorly, but good enough that Allison would recognize Comic Book Guy or Professor Frink if they showed up in one of her bedtime stories. I enjoyed cross referencing guest stars with other movies/shows she might recognize them. She enjoyed when I’d be quiet and let her watch the funny cartoons. 🙂 

Two dozen seasons in Allison started to lose interest. I hadn’t seen any of the episodes after season 23 when we dropped cable TV so, while I still enjoyed the episodes, they were clearly not the classics that held up to the test of time. We both agreed that Season 29 should have been final season – and in fact I believe the writers set it up to be. It features flash backs to classic episodes and characters from the early years – all the way back to The Simpsons first appearances Tracey Ullman show. The last episode of the season shows how several of the characters meet their final end including many subtle references to the glimpses we’ve had into how the family would grow up and grow old. Bart dies wearing his Supreme Court Justice robes (Season 4 Ep 6). Marge does eventually marry Ned (Season 4 Ep  2, Season 15 Ep 10 & Season 21 Ep 5). Lisa is still pursuing Buddhist enlightenment (Season 13 Ep 6). 

Season 4
Season 29

It’s not the best episode but it felt like reminiscing back to the golden age of the series. My favorite scene featured all of the “dead” characters – including Sherry Bobbins and Bleeding Gums Murphy. No Frank Grimes though. Now that I’ve watched the next 3 seasons I can really see the change. Season 29 was the last season under Fox’s creative control, still had the original voices for characters and still featured fan favorite Apu. It would have been a fine time for the series to fade to black. I wouldn’t mourn the loss but I will treasure the memories – from my own childhood and those I’ve made with my family.

Next up… Futurama!

Pain in the Brain 2014 Health/Fitness

Just a quick note to document my cluster cycle this year. They started early – March maybe. Very slow burn-in this time with a few false starts and aura-only episodes. They went full-blown at the very end of May and lasted until the end of August. The final one was in the middle of the night. Around 3 months of this is a LONG cycle. I was able to short-circuit most of them before they got a grip on me by burning up my legs on the stairs at the office. I added push-ups and tension-hanging but couldn’t do much else without buying a membership at the “office gym”. I’ve wondered before if just letting the headaches “run their course” doesn’t shorten the cycle but I’m not willing to do that when a quick hit of adrenalin pops them like a bubble. I wouldn’t say I learned much new in this cycle. Knocking off sulfates doesn’t seem to do much in terms of preventing or shortening the cycle. Sleep cycles were definitely out of whack and stress was high this summer so those are still definitely my prime suspects. Science continues to play catch up with my own personal research. 😉

Coincidentally, the cycle lasted from around the start to near the finish of the “Get The World Moving” Global Corporate Challenge that I was participating in this summer. That worked like this: Wear a fancy pedometer that records your “steps” throughout the day then enter the steps online and succumb to Peer Pressure to increase your daily-step count. I averaged 13,700 steps a day and, according to my stats log, walked 548 miles in the 100 day challenge. I must admit I was completely bored with it by mid-point so I started playing games with the pedometer to see how I could increase my count without wasting more time walking. The end result was that I did get out more. I even started running again. 🙂

Brain Pain Twenty Twelve! Health/Fitness

Cluster Headache SimulationJust an update in a series of Brain Pains – I have officially survived the Cluster Cycle of 2012. For those who are seeing this for the first time or are otherwise unacquainted, I suffer from cluster headaches. They’re related to migraine headaches and are a part of daily life for several weeks a year. Worldwide acknowledgement and support for this rare type of migraine has expanded exponentially over the past decade. We’ve come a long way since a pair of doctors shrugged and referred me to an eye specialist back in the 90s. Duh.

Anyway, I started feeling this pending cycle in April though I had a few “ghost” headaches all the way back in January. It took a while to really come on. I actually thought the trip to Ireland might bring on a cycle as it seriously messed with my sleep patterns but only one ocular migraine resulted. At Heather’s urging, I had (nearly) eliminated nitrates/sulfates from my diet. As usual, an ocular cycle precipitated the full blown cluster routine. The cycle went full-blown at the end of June and lasted until mid July when it began to taper. I had my final headache during the last full week in July. A rather short cycle this time but friggin’ intense. With my new job I have access to the little work-out room and I used it 2-4 times a day for a quick adrenaline burst to prevent the full onset of headaches. That many headaches in a day has been rare over the years. Fortunately, that density lasted for under 2 weeks when it settled back into the one-a-day routine.

Purely conjecture on my part but the stress of a new job and very active toddler might have been enough to kick off the cycle. The fact that I only grunted through a handful of headaches without the “adrenaline intervention” of pushups, curls and presses might have caused the dense cycle. On the other hand, being very busy at work might have helped end the cycle. As long as I can drop and push out 40 ups just as the throbbing starts to prevent the full agony of a cluster headache I’m going to take that opportunity. If it makes me have another one an hour or two later? Worth it. As long as I get a few hours to recover my muscles – or have other options like stationary bikes or stair-masters – I’ll take the quick fix any time.

A day in the life… BabyBrain DrippingGeocachingHealth/FitnessNews

I don’t update this blog much anymore just because I rarely have the time/energy to really sit down and type something out. Like most of us workaday schlubs I succumbed to the quick fix that is Facebook. However I recently stopped updating my status there as I was drowning in shared images and game notifications. That seems to be 90% of what FB has become. To buck this trend I thought that I might, just for a day, pretend it was still 2009 when people were very excited by this new medium. I’ll would update my status at least once an hour with whatever was going on in my day regardless of the banality. Facebook.com is blocked at the office however so instead of dozens of updates slowly through the day, here’s what I would have typed if I really felt like wasting my company’s time. As the day progressed I jotted my updates down in a notepad right up until I went to sleep. It turned out to be a busy Monday. Enjoy my banality!

06:10   Good morning starshine. The world says hello!
06:30   Systems check. I’m not really sore from my kayaking yesterday. Except where I walked into the screen door handle with my right bicep. That’s sore as hell.
07:30   Running late for work, as usual. Snacking on some toasted sourdough bread with Country Crock ©. The breakfast of champions (or at least tardy champions).
08:00   Got to the office just on time. Now enjoying my weekly Snapple. Diet Raspberry. Made from the best stuff on earth. I have one every Monday then re-use the bottle all week refilling it from the water-cooler.
09:20   Just received a call from my wife. The damage to the car comes out to be the same as the deductable anyway so it’s a wash. Could have been much worse though and I’m just glad everyone is OK.
10:00   Cluster headache threatening. Maybe if I take a walk and stretch it will pass me by this morning?
10:10   Wow, the urinal cakes are blue instead of pink now. Changes are scary! The cakes are a lie!
10:45   The payroll system is goofy here. To compensate for employees working over night shifts the PR clerks enter the start time as 23:00 (11 PM) and the end time as 32:00 (WTH AM?) for a nine hour shift. My task is to help fix that. Giant Moth
11:45
   There’s a giant moth on the window at the office. As the bug man, I’m tasked with IDing it. It’s as big as a bat!
12:15   I went around to the outside to get a good picture. Google images comparison confirms we’re looking at an Antheraea Polyphemus or common Silk Moth. It’s named for the Greek Cyclops legend because of the eyespots. Of course, the moth has 4 “eyes” instead of 1 but who’s counting?
12:50   Caught a Squidcake Fish for the 4th Anniversary of Fish-Wrangler. Yeah, I still play this game. 🙂
14:30   Finally figured out a good way to fix the payroll programs I’ve been toying with today. Yay me.
15:20   New task: Purge some of the older employee timesheet files. We were talking about writing new programs and adding processing options but I think I’d rather type in a one-line SQL script.
16:45   Just lost the power in the office. Guess I won’t be able to work late after all! 🙂
17:45   Home! I worked my gas mileage on the current tank up to 32.5 MPG.
17:50   I thought Heather was out and about when I pulled in but I forgot her car was in the shop. I found her just finishing up a bath time for Allison. Wet baby hug!
18:10   Allison brought me her flip flops and sat down on my lap so I could put them on her. She is now running around wearing nothing but the flops and a diaper. I’m not trying to raise a Jersey Girl but I guess it’s baked in automatically.
18:30   Having “Mexican” for dinner – leftover Riceritos. Yum! I’m a simple man of simple tastes. 🙂
19:00   Another cluster headache triggered by flashing lights during a furious game of Peek-a-boo. I sequestered myself in a dark room to wait it out. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes for a minute… zzzzzzzzzz…
19:45   It occurs to me that “dollars to doughnuts” is actually in favor of the doughnuts now. Inflation FTW!
20:20   The Nugget is finally down for her “Night Sleep”. Tonight’s lap time reading list was “Hop On Pop” and the Cookie Monster “Hug Book” (Twice). The second time through Cookie Monster was a little brusque. 😉 AVGraphics wacky adventures part 5
20:45  
Heather is wearing an old concert tour shirt tonight. Elton John’s “One Night Only” Tour – October 20th and 21st 2000. Hit “LIKE” if you can spot what’s wrong with that shirt.
21:50   Solved a Geopuzzle! This one took me longer than the others in the series and I never did find the magic nose goblin in the upper right.
22:30   Time to turn in to snuggle with Smech and a copy of Pratchett’s latest. G’night moon!

So, there’s my day. This will get thousands less looks than if I had actually posted two dozen updates through the day but I submit it here it anyway. Feel free to enjoy/deride it as you see fit – just as you would have if you had seen all this spam on ol’ Facebook.  =]

Could I still play in the NFL? Brain DrippingHealth/Fitness

As I rapidly approach the statistical midpoint of my life expectancy I was curious if I could still go through a mid-life-crisis and try out for an NFL team. Realistic? Of course! Why, a player a week older than myself led the league in tackles this year!

For posterity, here’s the list of all NFL players older than me as of the end of the 2011 season:
Ray Lewis (LB, Baltimore) – by 9 days!
Phil Dawson (Kicker, Browns)
Brad Maynard (Punter, Browns)
Charlie Batch (QB, Pitt)
James Farrior (LB, Pitt)
Patrick Mannelly (Safety, Bears)
Ben Graham (Punter, Lions)
Jason Hanson (Kicker, Lions)
Donald Driver (WR, GB)
Ryan Longwell (Kicker, Minn)
Jake Delhomme (QB, Texans)
Jeff Garcia (QB, Texans)
Kerry Collins (QB, Colts)
Adam Vinatieri (Kicker, Colts)
Orlindo Mare (Kicker, Carolina)
Ronde Barber (CB, TB)
Jason Taylor (LB, Miami)
Mark Brunell (QB, Jets)
Jon Kitna (QB, Dallas)
London Fletcher (LB, Washington) – One week older!
Sav Rocca (Punter, Washington)
David Binn (Safety, Denver)
Brian Dawkins (Safety, Denver)
Casy Weigmann (Center, KC)
David Akers (Kicker, SF)
Al Harris (CB, Seattle)

The majority are kickers, punters and backup “mentor” quarterbacks. I’m sure a handful will retire each year. When the last one does I’ll probably have to admit that I’m probably going to have to give up on that dream of scoring the winning touchdown in the superbowl. But not yet!

Brain Pain 2011 Brain DrippingHealth/Fitness

Just to fully document the phenomena, I went through a cluster cycle in January into February. To those who somehow missed my previous update on these almost exactly two years ago, I suffer from Cluster Headaches. These suckers suck but only for a few months out of the year then they go away for several months. The current cycle came on slowly. I had a few minor headaches and a few ocular migraines in November and December. It went full blown the second week of January and peeked the last week of that month. I then entered one of the more stressful weeks of my professional career and – survival instincts ruling out stupid head pain – the cluster took a two week break. By the first week of March the headaches had ceased.  By documenting these cycles as they happen here I’m definitely seeing a pattern.

1) They’re brought on by Christmas Stress – or at least the disruption in sleep patterns that seem to happen here.

2) Nitrates! I’m watching my intake of the pernicious ‘trates. Alas, they’re in Hot-dogs and Bacon so I can’t help myself sometimes.

3) They tend to peter out with the worst of winter. Humidity? Low pressure? Less sun? I spent a lot of time outdoors this year despite the cold and snow.

Combining 1 & 2 and thinking back… in the beginning of November I had a business trip to Ireland and the UK. Fairly stressful is travel and the time change wompted my sleep patterns. Then there was the bacon and sausage every morning. Yum! Ouch! If sleep patterns and nitrates have anything to do with cluster headaches one might think I was trying to bring on a headache cycle! Anyway, I haven’t had one in weeks now so I figured it was time to document the cycle. See ya’ll back here in 2012!