Archive for the ‘Words’ Category

**Disclaimer** This post deals with revelations and discoveries I had while pooping, so feel free to add “while pooping” to the end of sentences you see fit to modify.

I subscribe to Scientific American, a popular science magazine that’s been published for over 160 years  – some months I read the whole magazine and some months it doesn’t get cracked it until months or even a year later. In reality what happens is that there is a rotating collection of these magazines next to the toilet. So yes…I am distracted by science while seated on the porcelain throne.

A few days ago, I was skimming the October 2012 issue of Scientific American and found this gem on the page 80:

Great news, America! It’s a simple graphic depicting the US in pretty colors, showing the decline of the well-being of most of America. At first glance you’re like, “Ok! America is getting fatter and drunker.” Then, WHAT??!!! The article says, “And yet Americans are smoking less and exercising more”! Amazing…my poo that is.

What I didn’t see immediately is that what “they” (Scientific American or the source listed on the side of the page: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) consider “exercise“.

Look at it again a bit closer:

Did you see it? Did you see how they define exercise? “Participated in a physical activity during the past month.” How does a single physical activity equal exercise? And what is “physical activity”? Does walking from your living room to your car to take a trip to the Starbucks drive-thru count? Can taking the stairs down to the basement to put the laundry in the washer count? Going to dinner with friends? Does pooing count as “physical activity”? It should. Think about the last time you were enjoying a BM, your whole core was engaged.

Don’t get me wrong, the statistics for smoking, obesity and drinking all make sense and are clearly defined, but this “exercise” category is weak sauce.

Seriously Scientific American…


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The new year may have started over a month ago, but Mondays are the best for (re)starting things.

During my time away from the blog I covered a many thousand miles, celebrated my first American Christmas in 7 years, hiked in the Central Oregon desert, ate hundreds of tacos, drank tons of West Coast brews (Black Butte Porter), experienced the Polar Vortex, gained 5 pounds (winter blubber), made new friends, read stacks of books, had long talks with long-lost friends, found a new obsession or two, made plans, cancelled plans and mostly tried to remember to do, see, eat, touch, hear, make something beautiful every day.

May words and random experiences reign once again!!

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I run. It started innocently enough this summer with the goal of getting fit for another go at the GR 10 in the Pyrenees. Sadly, a bad case of shingles and a few other setbacks forced me to set that plan aside for another time. But the running continued. It felt good. It feels good. As a flatlander, I’d never really thought much about the purpose of a hill. Here in the city there may not be a single hill more than 10m high. Before my introduction to the world of trail running this would never have posed a problem…now it does. I want to fight gravity to get to higher ground with my heart pounding and gallons of sweat pouring down my back. With each breath I want to smell the seasons changing instead of car exhaust. I want the ground below me to change with each step.

A wise person once said, “Hills are made for running up.” And that same wise person then made me watch this video.

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fall, autumn, colors, leaves

I’m glad to be back home after an unexpectedly long sojourn in Berlin.
It was there where I saw autumn bloom, with its long shadows and misty mornings. I witnessed the death of summer and the birth of autumn.

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geeked out

Who’s got two thumbs and her first bike helmet? That’s right – this girl.

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For the last 2.5 months I have been carefully tending to my window garden (two windows and a balcony). Today, I was finally able to taste the fruits of my labor. Literally. I savored half of my first sun-ripened strawberry. (LP got the other half, of course.) And my first summer flower bloom opened!

I’m delighted.

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microsoft ad Totalement passioné

There are free daily newspapers that are handed out in the mornings at the entrances to the Métro in Paris or at any tram stop in Strasbourg. In fact, most major cities have this type of free morning paper (in France you get 24 hours and 20 minutes) – you are made to believe that there is real content (think front page of yahoo.com, your horoscope and a sudoku puzzle). Instead it’s a massive ad campaign trying to sell stuff you don’t need: a new Samsung smartphone, a memory foam bed, bright white teeth, etc. with news-y articles to keep you turning the pages.

It upsets me to see so much waste created – papers discarded 5 minutes after it being handed out, stashed between the seats of the metro, left in a stairwell to be kicked around for the rest of the day. I searched wikipedia to see how many of these papers get printed a day – and if the article is correct then there are 44 million of these papers being printed worldwide (and on average they are about 32 pages which means 1.5 BILLION pages are being printed 5 days per week ). That’s like 7 billion pages per week…a page for every person alive on planet earth!

The other day while taking the métro, the back page of one of these discarded papers caught my eye. It was an ad for Microsoft Office 365 featuring two adorable young boys (brothers? )riding in the seat back of a car. The younger boy is playing with a toy car on the head of the older boy. The older boy is engrossed  a tablet on his lap and doesn’t seem to mind. The text above their head says “Totalement passionné“, which can be literally translated as “Totally passionate”.

Passionate for what? The photo caught my eye because it looked like a sweet moment shared between these boys. However there is no moment being shared or communication exchange. As I looked more closely at the image, memories of car trips and family vacations and sharing the back seat with my younger brother came to mind. We would fight for the best seat (in the minivan) and always pack a bag with Mad Libs, a book, cassette tapes, snacks and a few toys. The car trips were sometimes contentious – 8 hours in a car is hard for any kid (adults, too). We weren’t allowed to take our Walkmans (yes, it was the 90s), but each of us was given our opportunity to listen to the music we wanted. As we got older we would make mix tapes – no matter how bad they were, we shared the experience. We would play games invented on the spot.

My initial reaction to the ad was positive , but as I reflected on what it means for those boys…I no longer felt the same way. It made me sad. Neither boy looks bored – but the only experience they are sharing is the car ride. Would they be willing to listen to the other’s music? At home do they watch movies together? What happens if one wants to watch Toy Story and the other wants Pirates? Does their dad offer one the TV and the other his laptop? Does their dad put in his headphones while he’s walking them to school? Is their mom constantly checking facebook on her iPhone while they boys are playing at the park?

It’s just something to think about.

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