Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Walking isn't high impact, but it certainly works

Got a minute?

I've been thinking lately about the old joke about the guy whose doctor told him to run two miles a day. A week later, he called the doctor and told him he had followed the advice.

"What's the problem?" the doctor asked.

"Well, I'm 14 miles from home."

Walking down Honolulu Avenue
That's not my problem. I don't run, and unlike former President Calvin Coolidge, who made history by saying he would not run in 1928, I don't plan ever to run again.

I do walk, though, and I spend 2-3 hours almost every day wearing out a pair of Nikes. Since I returned home from Texas 45 days ago, there has been only one day that I didn't walk.

Since I walk an average of at least 5 miles a day, I think that means I have probably walked about 220 miles.

That's more than halfway to Sacramento if I was heading north and nearly to the state line if I were heading east. South would take me into Mexico, and if I had headed west, I would have been swimming for the last 185 miles or so.

It's not the highest impact exercise, but it is working. I've lost 26 pounds since returning home, which makes my total weight loss 93 pounds in a little more than four months.

I highly recommend it.

Thanks for the minute.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Technology isn't always the answer to our prayers

Got a minute?

This doesn't happen to me often, but I'm feeling a little bit like a Luddite.

This spring, when I was in Texas, my Blackberry Storm went bad for the second time in a year. This time it wasn't under warranty, so I had to work some elaborate switch and I found myself with a similar type of phone known as an Android.

I know, I know. It's the hot new phone this year, but as much as I liked my Blackberry, I never could warm to the Android. For one thing, any time I put it in my pocket, it would open Websites or even worse, dial phone numbers.

It would lock itself and I couldn't answer calls.

When I disconnected from calls I made, it constantly called the people back.

I hated it.

Yes, it had been nice to watch video of baseball highlights and constantly be checking scores, but it wasn't worth the aggravation.

So I went into Verizon and told them to take it back and give me the most boring flip phone they could find. It's a lot like the phone I had five years ago.

I love it, even if it does have a camera.

Thanks for the  minute.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's challenging yourself that helps you stay young

Got a minute?

One of the things that makes an awful lot of people very unhappy in the long run is that they stop learning. They stop challenging themselves to acquire new skills, to amass knowledge about new subjects.

My new surfboard
I'm planning to challenge myself in two ways. I have written previously on my other blog, One Voice, about the fact that I'm learning to surf at age 60. The first used board I picked up was too small as 6 1/2 feet, so I ditched it and acquired another previously owned one that's 8 feet long and significantly heavier.

I'm running out of time now that I'm down to my last few months living in California, but I've vowed that I will be able to stand up and ride at least one wave before we move to Georgia.

The other challenge is going to be gardening. I'm doing a lot of reading and planning with the goal of devoting half of our new backyard to growing fruits and vegtables.

I may be growing older, but I'm never going to be an old man.

Thanks for the minute.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sometimes dignity is all you can hang onto

Got a minute?

I don't know sometimes if I'm extremely lucky or extremely unlucky.

Back in the day.
I loved the nearly 30 years I spent as a journalist, and I miss the fact that I'm not working -- or making any money -- anymore. But every time my friend Mick tells me about some of the angst he has to undergo from his bosses at two community colleges, I find myself feeling very blessed that I no longer have to follow anyone's orders.

It's really a shame that so many people these days feel the need to remind their employees how much power they hold over them. In my penultimate confrontation with my last boss, the unfortunate Steve Lambert couldn't stop shouting at me that he was my boss.

In the end, though, once I realized he had decided to fire me, he had lost all his power. I was able to walk out of the office with my dignity intact.

Sometimes that's all you can take with you when you leave.

Thanks for the minute.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Exercise is such a crucial part of life

Got a minute?

There are very few things you can do for yourself that are more beneficial than finding a way to work some physical exercise into your daily routine.

Lost Maples State Park, Texas
I'm not talking about "workouts," although there's certainly a lot to be said for lifting weights, working on machines or running on a treadmill.

Sometimes it's as simple as going for a walk, especially if you put in enough time to get some decent distance.

I picked up the hiking habit during 11 weeks in Texas this spring and summer, and I had the chance to hike in some truly lovely state parks in the Hill Country west of San Antonio.

Since returning home, though, most of my hiking has been done on the sidewalks of Montrose, Glendale and Pasadena, but I have been completely faithful about it. I have been home 39 days and I have walked every single one of those days, usually five or six miles.

Yes, it has helped me lose weight, but far more important, I feel great and I am in touch with the physical side of myself. I've not only claimed final victory in a five-year battle with sleep apnea, my wife tells me I'm not snoring at all when I sleep.

Walk daily.

You'll never regret it.

Thanks for the minute.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Television is a complete waste of time

Got a minute?

Is there anything that's a bigger waste of your time than watching television?

Whether it's the mindless swill that makes up so much of network programming or what passes for news on the networks and the cable channels, I don't think I can name one positive thing about watching a lot of television.

To be fair, I watch quite a few movies on DVDs, and there are at least a few series that I will watch at my own pace by picking up a season on DVD.

But I have reached a point in my life when I absolutely refuse to sit through any advertising -- so much of it is ridiculously inane -- and I haven't watched any "television news" for nearly 20 years, except in the case of certain events.

I watched on Sept. 11, 2001.

I watched -- a little -- on election night in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

But I've learned too much about the subtle ways in which television changes people, including the actual passivity it introduces into your brain. I am thrilled -- yes, thrilled -- that both of my children plan to raise their children with severely limited amounts of television.

If I know one thing, I know those kids will grow up smart.

Thanks for the minute.

Monday, August 23, 2010

You can do things that matter to others

Got a minute?

Most of us know there are a lot of things wrong with the world, but most of us are so overwhelmed by the scope of those problems that we think we couldn't possibly do anything that would matter.

Wrong. There are all sorts of things you can do.

Try something for the next few days. Try smiling at everyone you encounter, try wishing people "Good morning" or "Have a great day" instead of just passing them by. You will literally be amazed at how many people smile back at you and respond to your kindness, and you will be surprised at how good it makes you feel.

When I was in Texas, I was shopping at a Best Buy store on the outskirts of San Antonio. The cashier was a young guy who was practically crying when I came up to check out. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me it was his first day and his previous customer had been in a terrible mood. He had berated the young cashier for being slow and had told him he was incompetent.

I said he shouldn't worry, that what had happened was more about the customer than it was about him. When my transaction was completed, I told him he had done a great job and that I hoped he had a great day. As I left the store, he was smiling.

I made a difference to that one.

Thanks for the minute.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It starts with one starfish, or one minute

A big job starts with a single action.
Got a minute?

I want to tell you a story.

Two men were walking on the beach, a beach littered with thousands of starfish that had been stranded when the tide went out.

They were dying.

One of the men bemoaned what nature had done, while the other reached down, picked up a starfish and carried it to the water.

"There are thousands," his friend said. "You can't possibly make a difference."

The man picked up another starfish and carried it to the water.

"I made a difference to that one," he said, smiling.

We get overwhelmed by the size of our problems, by the size of all the terrible things that seem to be happening in the world. Millions of folks out of work, millions of mortgages underwater, billions of folks either starving or close to it.

What can we do about it?

We'll be talking about that in future posts, but for now, remember the old Chinese saying.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

And healing the world can start with a single starfish.

Thanks for the minute.