No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success

Happy Halloween!

Posted by Ben on Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yes, it’s a couple days early, but other than a quick drop-by over the weekend to post my first Movember picture, I’m going to be busy prepping for, riding to, and fully enjoying a week in Charleston, South Carolina (ghost tour likely included sans candy), that officially starts Friday. Yes, I know I’ll be gone on Election Day, but I voted early, so neener-neener. What’s your excuse? Anyway, in the spirit (heh heh) of Halloween, I offer you some costume (here, here, and here) and pumpkin carving galleries.

If not for Halloween, I would’ve titled this entry “I Want My MTV.” There are some things on TV that are seasonal and/or traditional (some people get WAY too excited over The Wizard of Oz), but unless you live under the proverbial rock, you know that the American and world economies are, let’s say, troubled at the moment, yet television stands to maintain its relatively recession-proof demeanor. As that article states, Americans equate TV to electricity and water (read: a necessity). Credit crunch be damned, we will have Grey’s Anatomy! (I’m partial to Discovery Channel and have just recently started watching House with some regularity, but I’m by no means one of THOSE people who schedule around a TV show.) Instead of both saving money and getting off the couch, most Americans would rather do the complete opposite, even at the expense of their financial and physical livelihoods. Look, I’m not blaming TV for any monetary crisis, but when the fat has to get trimmed off the budget, TV is never considered. I probably don’t need to go into just how moronic this mindset is.

I lived in southwest Connecticut for a few very long, very cold months not long enough ago, and considering the higher cost of living there compared to what I was used to in Charlotte, I shelled out for broadband Internet service (I’m not much of a phone person) but opted out of cable TV. I have an okay DVD collection, and what I didn’t have could almost surely be found online in some shape or form. While I enjoy my DVDs (I only buy those that I know I’ll watch more than a couple times), they do get boring after awhile, even after buying a couple more during my time without TV, so I was therefore bored out of my mind, right? I mean, there’s only so much Internet, too, right? Well, lo and behold, I got a lot of reading and writing done. Amazing. I explored my neighborhood and others around it while running (which I was still doing frequently then despite the cold weather) and ended up finding some great little restaurants and parks tucked away from the main roads. Shocking. The money I would’ve otherwise spent on cable TV went into transit, meaning I either drove around or took the train down into the city (I lived only four blocks from a Metro-North station) and wandered around there. Unthinkable. Frankly, though the first couple weeks were odd without TV, I actually dreaded being around it again when I moved back down to Charlotte (cable was/is included in my rent). I resisted turning on the TV for awhile, but it eventually came back on, and even though I don’t watch it like I used to—and never will—it’s still a mild annoyance most of the time, and I know how to operate the “off” button. Some people have to have it on 24/7, even when reading or sleeping or whatever. I’ll never understand being able to function in that environment.

I want to give a quick mention to a buddy, Craig, who recently started up a food blog for meat-eaters. Be ready for some good eats.

Body bits: more homemade equipment ideas, fire your trainer if he puts you on a BOSU or stability ball in the gym (I’ll explain more if you want), HHS fitness guidelines might actually be useful, yay for aqua-robics and plyometrics, Keith messes up your shoulders and then fixes them (again), Tony LOVES the sled, wrist curls are stupid (and you look stupid doing them), reverse vanity sizing, strength work for the off-season, five quick tips to increase strength, some subtle yet effective core strengthening, rebounding is hazardous (in basketball as in relationships), if hypertrophy is your game (it needs to be for a LOT of people), tighten up your “trunk,” from the WTF files (here, too), prepare to be unprepared, distance running just isn’t healthy (sorry), make sure you remain active if you cut calories, more beer + less activity = weight gain (gosh, no, really?).

Edibles: slow down, there is no one optimal diet (simplicity helps), food labels moving to the front of packages (too bad no one understands them), primal pizza, the KFC challenge, tweaking food to trick your brain, diet pills understudied and overhyped (no way), green tea may combat diabetes.

Mind matters: our psychology will maintain a “free” economy, the risk of zombification, Facebook friendonomics, how to speed-read, a page from Men in Black, communal morality, tennis refs biased, chemicals for exams, fruits and veggies help chemotherapy, social network analysis shows link between steriods and Facebook.

Kiddie corner: categorizing young athletes, evolution of the school lunch, more kids getting kidney stones (hint: put down the soda!), 21-year study of children on the way, running through pregnancy (if you MUST run…).

General health: FDA falters on BPAs and medications, do your homework on your trainer and your doctor, warm hands = warm hearts, an interesting strategy against Alzheimer’s, stem cells grow new prostates, pets as prescriptions, staph infections fairly common, low-income insurance declining, women catching up with men in infidelity (yet WE’RE still pigs…), flatulence bouquet linked to blood pressure.

Geek-out:
—Transportation: Porsche’s deceptively slow EV, Rolls Royce considers an EV, Insecta concept car, how to do donuts (just don’t try it in Italy), supersonic jet car, mammoth cruise ships, TSA hassles small aircraft owners, JetBlue makes waiting at JFK bearable (maybe JFK will drop from some worst-airport lists… nah), return of the zeppelin (no, it’s not a reunion tour).
—Tech stuff: the early days of blogging, faster Gmail with canned responses, download movies in five minutes (too bad it’s Comcast), trusting an Internet radio alarm clock, the reach of machine intelligence, terrorists a-Twitter, the LHC has nothing on the EXO-200, teaching machines to parse music, how DCMA saved the Web, a decade of Big Brother, Internet companies embrace human rights guidelines , Google settles book-scan suit, a $170 keyboard, mashup maps Craig’s List sex fiends, if the MPAA and/or RIAA controlled the handbag industry, computerized counseling for astronauts, predicting natural disasters.
—Nature: human evolution animation, why societies collapse, Walden Pond’s flowers disappearing, geo-engineering tactics ranked, tapping the vortex for clean energy, nearby solar system possibly habitable, a Mercury fly-by.
—Miscellaneous: LOLcat literacy, the power of video demos, a decade of updated copyright law, a three-minute fairy tale, calculus celebrates a birthday.

Git r dun:
—Achieving a state of “flow.”
—Greetings from Indonesia.
—No cold and heat?
—Don’t be the “fat, ugly friend.”
—How to break bad habits.
—Bypassing roadblocks.
—Sometimes, it’s the little things.
—Leigh breaks out the duct tape.
—Start with your own neighborhood.

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