You blog an infinite deal of nothing

Hollywood_Amtrak_Tri-Rail

Hello, good morning, and welcome, as always, to another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  I’m riding the train today—as I have all this week and from the end of last week—because my poor vehicle is in the shop.  It’s a bit frustrating, but also weirdly nostalgic, and the extra walking I must do has forced me to realize just how little walking I’ve been doing lately.  I’ve gotten terribly out of shape.  As testament to that fact, though I can’t be certain it’s related, at the beginning of this week, I slipped while getting out of the shower—nothing severe, don’t worry; I didn’t fall down or even have to grab anything to right myself—and my back has consequently suffered a severe exacerbation of its already chronic “failed back surgery syndrome” pain.  This makes riding the train more of an adventure than it might be otherwise, to say nothing of simply going to work, but such is the way of things.  In the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts, “Like is pain…anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Speaking of pain, I was very disappointed by the reception to my blog post last week.  This is really a euphemistic way of saying I’m disappointed in the post itself, since there’s surely no one to blame but me if it didn’t do well.  For the first time in a very long while, my Thursday blog post didn’t get even one single “like”.  And I’m just not capable of “liking” my own post.

I’m honestly not sure what it was about that post that was so unappealing.  I didn’t feel that the writing was particularly bad, but maybe it was.  I had, just a few days earlier and after a four month “course”, come off Saint John’s Wort, and maybe that affected my writing style or quality.  Maybe it was just that I used a bad collection of “tags” to highlight the post.*  If there’s anyone out there who had the courage to force their way through it and has an objective (or not) assessment to give me, I’d appreciate it.

As I said, it’s a bit nostalgic for me to be riding the train again, not least because it was at the train station in Hollywood, Florida that I received the inspiration for my story Prometheus and Chiron, which I like a lot, even if no one else does.  (I have no reason to think that no one else likes it, but I similarly have no way to know if anyone does…there are no reviews on Amazon for it, though maybe there’s something on “Goodreads”, and I just didn’t look closely enough.)  It is, however, just a bit frustrating to ride the train when one’s back pain makes one feel, and move, as though one were ninety years old…and not a particularly healthy ninety, at that.

Still, I’ve done some good, or at least extensive, writing on trains and/or buses throughout the years.  Thanks to the existence of very small laptop computers (and even smartphones!), I can write on the train without subsequently having to decipher and transcribe my own atrocious handwriting afterwards**.  I’ve had to do such transcription before, with both Mark Red and with The Chasm and the Collision (neither of which was written on a train or bus, however; they were written at Florida State Prison, which is less bumpy but which has its own drawbacks), and I can assure you, as a fun thing to do to pass the time, it’s highly overrated.

Speaking of such things, the editing and rewriting of Unanimity continues as always; and it does feel like forever, sometimes. It’s still enjoyable to read as I edit, which I guess is a good thing.  I always aspire to the mental state of being someone who generally likes the story, but who is fed up with it just enough to be critical about its flaws so that I can correct them with a ruthless but well-meaning attitude.  That’s the ideal, but as Run DMC said, it’s tricky.  Anyway, it’s coming along, slowly but surely, and hopefully it will be finished sometime before I die, or before the world ends, whichever comes first***.

In other news…well, there’s not much other news, come to think of it.  Of course, I’m sure there’s “news” out there in the world; there always is, if you’re looking.  Some of it might even just possibly be relatively important, even on a long-term scale (though the majority, I’d guess, is indistinguishable from random gossip around a water cooler—and though biologists and anthropologists say that gossip served and continues to serve important social functions regarding reputation and trustworthiness, etc., I can’t help but find it appalling, embarrassing, and worthy of contempt; say of me what you will).  My own life, however, tends to be repetitive and tedious, and would make very poor viewing, even ignoring the deeply unattractive protagonist.

My imagination, however, is thankfully and sometimes joyfully fertile.  Einstein is quoted as having said that imagination is more important than knowledge.  I’m very fond of both, but I do think that without imagination it’s hard even to arrive at knowledge of any but the simplest of subjects.  How, after all, are you to construct a mental model of a concept if you can’t imagine such a model?

Well, to quote the immortal (and, perforce, imaginary) Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”  This is not quite true, of course.  I could probably go on and on ad infinitum, and I’m sure some of you feel that I already have.  But, anyway, I’ll hold off any further mental meanderings until next week, and simply wish you all the very best of all that is possible, both individually and collectively.

TTFN


*I decided to use the tags “sex”, “drugs”, and “rock ‘n’ roll” for this post to see if it makes a difference.

**Handwriting made all the worse by the bumping and jostling of a moving train or bus.  Those who know how bad my script is, in and of itself, can only imagine with dread the nightmare of such Lovecraftian output.  The horror…the horror…

***Of course, from my point of view, the two events are equivalent.

Walk Like A Caveman

There are many levels of irony about living in our modern, Western civilization.  One of the most striking, to me, is the fact that we find ourselves thinking that we have to “make time” for exercise.

Our ancestors–almost all of them–were never faced with this kind of problem, any more than are the millions of other species of animals living in the world.  Exercise is not a special task or chore for most creatures, it is part of the process of staying alive and being healthy.  Really, that’s what it should be for us as well.  We know that our bodies want to be used, they thrive with that use and become stronger and healthier, in general, the more active we are.  Yet, the progress of our civilization has, curiously, led us to alienate ourselves more and more from our natural, active natures.

Many of our modern conveniences were created to spare us from the “horrors” of physical labor.  Automobiles, escalators, elevators, tractors…these things are all, of course, truly remarkable and incredibly useful, but because we have them, we’ve gotten into the habit of relying solely upon them.  After only a little bit of time doing this, we realized that our sedentary, machine-driven lifestyles were often leading us to be terribly unhealthy.  Its not so much that our lives have been shortened…modern infection control, including vaccines, antisepsis, antibiotics and health codes have led us all to survive and even become unaware of the simple ailments that killed most of our forebears.  Our lives have instead been diminished, not in quantity but in quality.  It is wonderful to be able to drive hundreds of miles to see a distant relative at a moment’s notice.  It is NOT wonderful to have to drive to the corner store because we’re too out of shape to walk there.

In recent years we’ve learned that astronauts who spend very much time in space, without the need to fight gravity, rapidly lose bone density and muscle mass, and their hearts weaken as well.  To combat this tendency they have to use very clever means to engage their bodies and to keep those organs fit.  Yet we here on the ground, deep within Earth’s gravity well and not going through free-fall, often might as well be floating in orbit, for all the work we give our bodies.

Awareness of this issue has led to a huge industry of gyms, exercise equipment, supplements and how-to books about exercise.  We strive to fit time to go to the gym into our busy, modern schedules.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course…I’m all for the gym.  But you don’t have to have a membership at the expensive local health club, nor even any special equipment, to keep your body as healthy as you can.  All you have to do is live just a little bit more like your ancestors did.

So, if you have to go to the store, and it’s not that far away…walk there instead of driving.  Obviously this won’t work if you have to buy a great many groceries at one time…but maybe multiple trips with smaller hauls spread throughout your week would be a better idea for your health, anyway.

If your local store isn’t QUITE local enough to walk to, well, then drive there.  Then, instead of jockeying around for the very closest spot you can find, park at the far end of the parking lot, and walk to the store from there.  It may not seem like very much, but if that’s so, then it also shouldn’t be very much trouble.

When you’re going into a building and need to go somewhere other than the first floor, why not take the stairs?  Walking up stairs is terrific, low-impact aerobic exercise and it keeps your quads nice and strong!  Okay, if you live in New York City and need to get to the 50th floor, walking ALL the way might be impractical unless you’re a marathoner with a lot of time on your hands.  Yet, even so, you can take the elevator up to two or three floors shy of your destination and walk the rest of the way.  Then you can do the same thing on the way down, which will, after all, be quite a bit easier than going up.

Also, if you live in a good enough climate, at least part of the year…ride a bike to work sometimes instead of driving.  This won’t be great if you have a sixty mile commute each way (again, unless you’re a distance athlete and have a rather flexible schedule), but if your commute is more reasonable, then biking is a great alternative.  It saves you gas money (a big deal in our current economic climate), and it produces less carbon dioxide than does an internal combustion engine…though it DOES produce some, since that’s one waste product our bodies produce just as our machines do.

All these simple measures can keep your body healthier and keep you feeling stronger.  They will probably also make you a bit thinner and shapelier, which is nice.  Still, feeling and being healthy is far more important than being thin…as any famine victim would gladly tell you if they had the chance.

In closing, the key to being physically fit and active in the modern world–and to feeling more alive and vigorous and strong–doesn’t have to involve expensive gym memberships, aerobic classes, treadmills and weight machines.  All those things are great, and I have nothing but praise for those who discipline themselves to make their bodies as healthy as possible.  Yet, even for those without the money and/or the time for the more advanced techniques, sometimes just letting go of a few modern conveniences can make you a little more like your robust ancestors…without the worrisome threat of infection and dangerous predators with which they had to contend!