Wednesday, March 26, 2008

'morning bike ride'...or, 'why going to the gym is an exercise in A.D.D.'

I'm developing the habit of going to the gym several times a week,
in the early morning, to ride the stationary bike.
(I say 'developing,' because a 'habit', by one definition, only becomes a habit
after fifteen consecutive repetitions...)

The recumbent bike allows me to read in relative comfort while pedaling away.
Twelve miles, and the morning paper and a good chunk
of whatever book I'm working on get read.
I put the bike on 'random hill mode' to vary the intensity.
Yes, I do appreciate the ironical absurdity of driving in the car
to then go sit still indoors in a big-box-building while 'biking.'
But morning traffic and darkness make a pre-work bike ride less than practical...
and how else am I going to get to read the paper AND exercise all before 6:30 a.m?

The gym has many TVs of course.
From where I sit, I can see nine screens turned to nine different channels.
So I can glance up from the paper to learn that Barack Obama is related to Brad Pitt.
(This is "news?")
Then I see that there is actually a "Miss Bimbo" website aimed at 12- and 13-year-old girls.
Today's high in Tucson will be in the mid-80's.
The bike next to me suddenly is occupied...and after a couple of minutes,
the person asks me--"how long do you have to pedal before this thing starts?"
I reply--"um, you actually have to push the 'start' button."
There's a pile of celebrity gossip magazines next to my bike.
Which I shun.
Of course.
(After I've scanned the 'headlines'.)
I find the TVs both fascinating and annoying. I fancy myself in 'anthropologist-mode.'
Oh, and now CNN says that Hillary Clinton is a distant cousin of Celine Dion.
(mental flashback to "Titanic" and SNL skits...)
And up, there comes the sun over the Rincon mountains out the window to my left...
Letters to the editor decry the coming development of one of the few remaining areas in Tucson where the water table still allows year-round springs to flow.
(When the first Anglo settlers arrived in southern Arizona,
they only had to dig 50 feet to hit groundwater.
Today, you have to go down over 350 feet to have a productive well.)
My right shoelace has come undone. Drat.
Walter Mead Russell is an engaging, if somewhat biased, historian, when it comes to explaining the 'whys and hows' behind the rise of the Anglo-American world power in his book "God and Gold."
I'm glad we live close to a branch of the library--I love how they just deliver my 'wish list' to the local branch, and I pick it up for free, after I've typed in titles on their website-search-page.
But nothing beats the serendipitous finds of aisle-browsing.
Like the Nicaraguan-vase I saw at Bookman's yesterday afternoon.
I think the next book I pick for my bike-read will have to be a novel; 't's been a while since I read some good fiction. I'm getting pickier?


Not just some stream-of-conscious-gibberish, although the blog is often a forum for that...but I'm saying that my gym-experience is hardly mind-clearing.

Some people exercise to hit 'the zone,' where they focus on breathing and rhythm, and de-stress from thinking about stressful things. I rather enjoy, though, the haphazard mental volleying that occurs when I go to the gym.

Perhaps I'm a bit A.D.D? When I younger, I was able to keep more focused...perhaps going to a high-school that had a seven-period day, with the option of half-period electives, gave me enough variety to keep my attention. But I can focus...when I want's just that I enjoy darting about as well. I can sit at the piano, occasionally, and play for long chunks of time...but while I'm in the shower, I'll often feel the impulse to look up a word in the dictionary...(What IS that word in Spanish for 'click and drag'? And in Korean?)...That's what bathrobes are for, no?

Yes, self-diagnosis can often be the worst kind. Misleading. Narcissistic navel-gazing maybe. Omphalocentric. Inaccurate.

So much in today's society is teaching us to have short-attention spans. Commercial breaks for everything. Talk-show hosts asking a panel of 'experts' to give us 'in thirty seconds or less' a definition to a complex issue. Political soundbites. Txt msgs on the small screens of cell-phones. The three-minute pop-song. (What? I have to listen to a symphony that lasts for over half-an-hour?! really, I'm 'just jk-ing.' Ay.)

At times I wonder if perhaps I have too much empathy for my distractible students? Channel the mental volleying, have fun playing with it, but keep it in the game, I guess...(I'm horrible at tennis, by the way.)

But on the recumbent bike, I can burn calories...
and when I go early in the morning, I feel energetic the rest of the day...

Sunrise keeps getting earlier and earlier. Like it does every spring.

(Please don't analyze this posting.)

Spring break just ended here in Tucson...
The Monday after Easter is a day-off from local schools, too, since many many families travel back to Mexico for the holiday to be with family.
So, I went hiking in the mountains on the western edge of the city on Monday--lots of spring wildflowers.
Photos coming soon...

Then I drove out to Kitt Peak and its forest of white domes and telescopes at 7000 feet above the desert.

In parting, for today, then,
a random cartoon, e-mailed to me...
well, not overly random, I guess--the cacti are 'local:'

Always take extra water with you into the desert.
In mid-summer, the ground can heat up to literally 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

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