Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yea Team! Who's Playing?

I am no athlete. There are certain physical activities that I do enjoy, but at best I am a participant and not any kind a champion at any of them. The last organized team sport I played was when I was in the fourth or fifth grade when I played football to please my father. He was pleased, I was more than a little bored, and the season finished without me getting killed by kids who are twice my size. The kinds of physical activity I normally enjoy are those that have something other than the basic sport attached to them.

I enjoy golf because I enjoy the camaraderie of those I am playing with or if I'm playing with my son I'm enjoying the uninterrupted conversations we are able to have on the course. The same holds true with downhill skiing, I enjoy being out in the crisp air and hanging out with my son on the slopes much more than I do the actual slalom downhill -- -- although I'm proud to say I've never broken a bone in my years of Alpine skiing to include skiing down the Zug Spitze in Germany and I have skiied several black diamond slopes.

I am also no sports fan, other than the Olympics. As a result, I am absolutely the best person to invite to a sports party. I have no loyalties and can swap to whichever team is winning at any point in the game and root with equal spirit and fervor. I think I have watched four or five Super Bowl times in my lifetime and never watched the World Series at all. I did actually go to one each professional football game and professional baseball game somewhere in my past. Couldn't tell you who won either game. 

Why am I discussing my minimalistic sports background? I know I need to get into shape prior to the 2010 riding season. Aside from the fact that I need to be able to possibly lift the bike off of me if I have a fall, the physical activity will help me with my weight loss goal. So, given my aversion to sports how was I planning on doing it? Two physical activities that I do enjoy that are not really sports are hiking and what is now known as powerwalking. I think I enjoy the solace of both as it gets me away from things and I can actually walk without thinking too much about it, except for the occasional obstacle in front of me. Therefore, I have one of those unique opportunities to lose myself in deep thoughts. While in my deep thoughts I can do things like think about what I'm going to write my blog, solve world hunger, and decide years before it was made public that global warming was a crock.

Aside from walking, I actually enjoy working out on my Bow Flex. Again, it's something repetitive that doesn't require a lot of thought and therefore frees my mind wander. Lately, I have tried yoga to see if that might be something I like. I'm not sure why, but I can actually perform most of the poses and I like the meditative quality of it.

While I was considering things to do to get in shape and opportunity presented itself that I was unaware that I would even like. We have a Nintendo Wii, and were given a copy of Wii Fit Plus and the balance board. So, I gave it a shot. I liked it. There is a wide variety of activities that include things like yoga and calisthenics but it is presented in more of a game format and personalized to your progress and ability. So now I'm involved in things like skateboarding, kung fu, cycling, boxing, running, pretending I'm a bird trying to land, running a strange obstacle course, and many more challenges. I've actually managed to do this five days a week for the last three weeks. They say anything you do for more than 21 days is a habit, so maybe this will as well. I feel more fit, and I know I'm actually getting better at each of the activities as time goes on.

In addition to doing the Wii Fit I am also doing my Bow Flex three nights a week and as soon as the weather gets above freezing I will start walking 5 km or so three times a week as well. By the time the weather turns nice I should be in fairly decent shape and ready to jump on the bike and ride.

(Note:  Check out this clip on Football Facts from a fellow non-sports fan.)


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Masons. Live Better.

I am a Freemason and proud of it.  Whereas I feel strongly about the organization I am part of,  I am not going to use this forum to debate the benefits and mysteries of Freemasonry.  So,  if you are not inclined to be neutral about this,  just replace the Freemason reference in your mind to any other socially redeeming organization you are part of.

As a Master Mason I feel obliged to serve not only my community but also my Lodge and as such I am an officer within the Lodge.  Like many organization who have officers,  you serve a year long term and then usually move up within the organization until you top out.  On 7 January 2010,  I moved up from my last post to my present one and with it I took on some new responsibilities and duties.  As a result of that move I also accepted the responsibility of another goal for my winter months; to know and become familiar with my new role.

This will require some reading on my part as well as some memorization.  I will also need to be more familiar with the by laws and inner workings of the Lodge and how it relates to the state Grand Lodge.  To a large degree this is kind of pastoral, but necessary and will bring its own reward as my year in the office goes on.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Educashun Is Impourtent

Education has always been a large part of my life. My parents came from a time when it was the way to get ahead, either that or being born to rich parents. Since I was obviously not born to rich parents, they instilled in me the need for higher education. Like most that went from High School straight to College I was not ready for the seriousness or social adjustments necessary to be successful at that time. But I am proud to say that even though it appears on paper that it took me 10 years to get my Bachelors degree, it actually took less than 3 years of actual class time.

Once I got done with that degree, I kind of hung up my student book bag for awhile and raised a family. I was still in the academic environment from time to time and taught for three different colleges part time teaching subjects like photography, travel and computer programming. I actually enjoyed teaching but there was not enough money or stability to try to make a career out of it.

I toyed with the idea of going back for a Masters degree several times, but never had the internal desire to do the work. Then my youngest got ready to go off to college. It was time for Dad to get off his butt and finish so that he could be a good example. So, I found a college that had Masters Program that interested me on the net and dove in. Before you ask, no I am not a Phoenix.

Then two things happened: I took grad level accounting and I had what I refer to as my cardiac adventure. With my ass thoroughly kicked (even though I did make an A- in the course and survive the adventure) I put the degree aside for a year. Then I was presented an educational opportunity at work that put me back in motion.

I was given the chance to attend a government run University that had an IT Masters program at no cost to me on duty time. I would attend week long intense classes followed by writing a paper about the subject of the course. It was work but I was back in a classroom and it was lightening fast – no time to get bored. I could take 3 or so courses a year and get my degree in 3 or 4 years.

So here is where I am right now: I finished classes at both schools in December and got an A in both. I have the books and materials for my next two classes from my civilian institution and I am signed up for a class at the government school in March and another in May. Finishing these 4 courses will put me over half way at both schools. My goal in the education arena before next riding season is to do just that, and get an A in all 4.