No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success


Posted by Ben on Friday, December 12, 2008

Ya know, leave it to Oprah and Mother Nature to try to ruin what was to be an important blog post. Good grief, I’ll get to them in a minute, but first:

Yep, I finally got a bicycle, thanks to the folks at Performance Bike. I’d visited a couple other shops around town, but I felt better about the service and support here, not to mention no one could touch them on price. Being a once-again n00b to cycling (it’s been ten years), I don’t know if PB is considered to be the Wal-Mart of the cycling world, but it was a good experience. Plus, I totally fell for their continued business ploy (read: “club” membership for discounts and store credit), so that place has been added to my “stuff” list (which I need to further update—when in doubt, ask).

I went with a mountain bike frame since (a) it seems more versatile than a road bike frame, (b) I have and plan to ride some simple trails around the area, and (c) the roads in Charlotte, at least were I’ll be going, aren’t road-bike friendly. The bicycle seems to fit my body well (short inseam, long torso), and HOLY CRAP is it light! Granted, the last bicycle I had was an all-steel frame, a decade behind in technology, and (I think) bought off-the-rack from a general big-box store. I’ve only had it out around the block a couple times getting the handlebar, controls, and seat adjusted, but it should be fun. At the very least, it’ll be a different training mode to throw in the mix, but by and large, it will carry me between home, work, and gym (maybe occasionally to/from the grocery store if I’m feeling REALLY ambitious). Right now, it still has its stock knobby tires, but I also bought a set of smoother-centerline tires to put on as the miles (hopefully) pile up, mostly on pavement. My only real concern is not getting too used to the hand controls since they’re slightly different on the Harley. That’d kinda suck to be out on a ride and grab the clutch thinking it was the front brake…


I’m taking a page out of Michelle’s blog and extending a big middle finger to Charlotte-area drivers. One of my many roles at work is as an on-air traffic reporter. Note the key word there: reporter. I just tell it like it is. I don’t cause it. I can’t fix it. I can’t tell you when it will be fixed. I target my coverage to the roads that carry the highest traffic volumes and work my way down. I have about thirty seconds per report. I’m sorry that your usual road to work is slow or stopped. Yes, I know I didn’t mention it in my last three reports, but as you may or may not know by now, it’s raining like a sonuvabitch, so it’d be slow everywhere even without the three dozen collisions on our board at any given time during this kind of weather, and your road barely cracks the top twenty or so for rush-hour volume. Yes, there are other ways to get around, and I’m sorry you’re too stupid/ignorant/lazy to figure out what they are. I’m sorry you just passed the last exit for six miles and have come to a complete stop, but as I DID mention in my last three reports, that road has been shutdown for a half-hour or more, so you had plenty of time to find a way around it. What was that? You didn’t hear that report? Oh, you don’t listen to our radio station? Then why do you call our station’s traffic center anytime you want OnStar-like directions or road conditions or just want to complain that YOUR day is ruined or that YOU are going to miss your meeting or that YOU won’t make YOUR flight? Can I do anything about it? No. Do you ever call to offer information we can use to help OTHER people out? No. Do I care about your problems? No.

I swear, how I didn’t get fired yesterday, I have no idea (could still happen, though) :) I really f—ing hate people.


Holy hell, I take a couple days off from staying up on the news, and Oprah breaks loose! Well, at least her waistband has, which comes as no surprise to people with any shred of current nutritional knowledge. Mark’s take points you to her personal trainer’s website, which is a train wreck in and of itself (look at the sample meals). Dr. Eades goes further in detailing the lifelong dietary habits Oprah has likely developed, which mirror those of thousands upon thousands of Americans. Is it just me, or does it sound like there’s been some enabling going on here? What about just plain ignorance? Hey, it’s not just her. In fact, I’d say it’s become/-ing the norm in this country. Man, I’d hate to be her next “trainer,” though I imagine a lot of people would sign on just for the money and let their reputations go into the toilet when they fail.

Oprah has worked hard after coming from humble beginnings to be a media and entertainment juggernaut, but that’s where her advice and expertise ends. Taking fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle advice from her is just as effective taking it from, say, the Chicago Tribune (remember this?).

—John Berardi has launched a new blog over at Precision Nutrition.
—Eric finally reports his Thanksgiving Day morning.
—My buddy Chris has a CD out. You should buy it.
—My buddy Johnny has a book out. You should buy it.
—Leigh Peele is getting ready to re-launch her website.
—Don’t forget to register for the JP Fitness Summit coming up in May.
—FYI, I don’t do Christmas, at all, so if you’re expecting a Yuletide-centric post at some point, it ain’t happening—well, unless it’s more mockery of the overindulgences of the season and the egregious “advice” peddled out in response :)

Body bits: yes you can train several days in a row, a fun strength-endurance programming tweak, clean-style deadlift technique (and a grip for good measure), clubbells are safer than ab rollers, fixing the scapular push-up, don’t confuse “Health at Every Size” with “fat is fab,” thinking about movement patterns and more, the Feldenkrais Method (think proprioceptive rehab), go play some ultimate frisbee, therapeutic movement goes mainstream, a conditioning lesson from a birthing book, why your friends want you fat.

Edibles: Lyle begins a series on protein (I’ll leave it to you to keep up with it on his blog), DIY cream cheese, continuing food diary adventures (here, here, here, and here—if you like this stuff, just go subscribe to his blog :P), hidden sodium bombs, the “mood diet,” big shrimp (ha!) in South Carolina, Stephen King does diet (from Mark), genetics are still no excuse for food choices, the high price of cheap eats, eat with your hands, primal finger foods.

Mind matters: happiness is contagious, exercise linked to emotional resilience, when health becomes an obsession, conversation with common sense, your brain simply can’t handle driving and talking on the phone, in defense of legalizing brain-enhancing drugs, Pavlov’s neurons discovered.

Kiddie corner: young gymnasts face more injuries, long-ago stress affects births, in defense of teasing, news flash: poverty adversely affects children’s brains, a kids’ toy I whole-heartedly endorse (like LEGO, Robotix, etc), teens continue tanning (for whatever reason), serious cooking for kids, nut allergy nuts, developing a champion mindset, child-like bluntness.

Fiscal fitness: tips on finding a great trainer (and what NOT to do), with the job goes the insurance, emergency rooms on the brink.

General health: Tom Daschle to be HHS secretary, Brian says Big Pharma sucks, foregoing flu shots, edible electronic health monitors, HIV-resistant immune systems studied for possible vaccine, higher intelligence means better sperm, new findings in the link between cancer and exercise, obsession with youthfulness, injectable bone helps fractures, easy on the suck, future Darwin Award candidate, affordable third-world health screening, microscalpel lasers, scans finding more but know less, battlefield acupuncture, black box for bowel cleansers.

—Transportation: some thoughts on the next transportation secretary and first “car czar,” future cars = hypermiling video games, 2009 Airstream, British steam car, Fusion hybrid may save Ford, GM talks about reinventing the car, aloha to EVs, Japan to become EV testing ground, Detroit’s bumbling EV history, get your own Aerocar, Sanyo’s electric bicycle, Airbus snoops Boeing, a too-quiet airplane.
—Tech stuff: the mother of all demos (and forty years of the dangers of mice), sell your unwanted MP3s, your computer is probably screwed, an eye-socket camera (ick), prototypes from the past, football in 3-D, the Orb, neural imaging to monitor pilot fatigue, VZW uncripples GPS (a nice anniversary gift), meteorology drones, Hubble awaits its final upgrade (while still finding extrasolar CO2), Swan Nebula in chaos.
—Nature: Secretary of Energy candidate rumored, oil consumption to drop for the first time in twenty-five years, support for meteors creating life, a future for saltwater agriculture, twelve living fossils, the story of stuff, local water management policies considered (finally), ten animal videos, fire ants are ecological karma, extrasolar water vapor detected.
—Miscellaneous: an anniversary for arts and sciences (and trig), a day for radio, warning against science without morality, Proposition 8: The Musical, fingerprinting bullets, opera house = skate park, Disneyland claims another victim, music video created with 45,000 photos, science enlivens TV fiction, playing mountain music, Canada’s take on the apocalypse, Science Commons in two minutes, dogs have a sense of fairness, t-shirts = free Internet, every flight on earth in seventy-two seconds.

Git r dun:
—In case it hasn’t been said before, age is just a number.
—The effects of time outside the gym.
—Cass will beat you if you don’t get up and do something.
—I want to look like


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