Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sump Pumping

The soft-rock group America recorded a hit song in the 70s with the lyrics, “It never rains in Southern California but girl don’t they warn ya, it pours, man it pours.”

Our home and mortgage are not yet underwater, but parts of the homestead have been underwater during the recent BREAKING NEWS storms.

We have storm drainage issues. Merry Christmas. After a downpour our backyard looks like a duck pond for several hours. Apparently my storm drainage pipes have been feeling neglected and decided to do what our sewage pipes frequently do – refuse passage. I have Tom the Plumber on speed-dial.

Two days ago, Tom the Plumber spent three hours roto-rooting the storm drainage pipeline but could not unclog it. The only permanent solution is to replace the line at a cost substantially more than their three-hour futile effort. Since our family went into a recession long before our nation, I began rooting around for short-term, delaying tactics.

First, I thought about using the tube I bought to siphon the neighbor’s Hummer when gas reached $4.60 a gallon last year. I’ve been a sucker many times in my life, but gas is one thing, ponds are another.

Second, I reasoned that I could stop refilling our dog’s water bowl. He will slurp anything. As an enticement, maybe I could spike the pond with female dog scents. Now if I could just train him to pee over the backyard fence. If he excelled, I could hire him out. He might become a Sump Dog Millionaire*.

Since the need was more immediate, I trolled the aisles at Home Depot looking for a Sump Pump. I encountered fellow trollers. The cheapest one was $78. I hooked it up to two garden hoses (we have a long driveway and the operative storm drains are at its end) and stood by to watch the draining experience. Nothing, not even a little slurp. Expletive deleted. PJ suggested I look at the directions. I hate it when she does that. At least I had not tossed them. Yup, right there in English and several other languages it cautioned that the pump only works in at least four inches of water. Four inches! If I waited that long I could turn our house into a houseboat. Fortunately the storm drain opening was recessed more than four inches. Voila, we had some major sucking going on, and the water recessed.

Now that I have this new gizmo, no doubt this last storm was the swan song for the season. Expletive deleted.

* I apologize for abuse of the pun genre.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Domestic Engineer Guys (DEGs) and Shopping

Bad news DEGs, we have to shop more. If it helps ease the stigma, I like to say that women shop – guys buy. (Not that women do not buy. DEGs are the family CFOs - we know better.)

If you are scheduling more buying trips, you are also in more lines. I have lousy line karma. Over the years I have just learned to live with it, even while encountering enough new material for a weekly rant.

As I age, I find my patience wearing with the quick-reflex-challenged (people older than I), especially when they are ahead of me at checkouts. It never seems to occur to them to search through their purse or billfold or pants pocket to find their payment option (card, cash, or check) until the items have been checked and totaled. Only then begins the tedious task of filling in the check or sliding the club card and credit card through a gizmo that can check a card’s validity faster than you breathe. The cash-only golden oldies are the most annoying. When presented with a bill for $9.89, they will carefully count out nine dollars and then forage their coin purse, the purse’s bottom, or dig into the pants pocket for loose change. When they’ve finished counting 75 - 85 – 86 – 87 – 88 - 89 cents on the counter, they smugly smile as if they’ve just had a good poop. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good poop.

Last Tuesday I bought a few things at Target. On balance Target does a decent job of staffing checkouts. It is rare, at least during weekdays (this is DEG prime buying time – shorter lines, usually), for Target’s line to be more than two deep. Quickly surveying my options I settled on one. Wrong. I failed to notice the shopper at the register slowly pulling one-dollar bills out of the bottom of a piggy bank. I don’t suppose this lady (daughter in tow) gave any thought to pulling the cash out before she left the house. No, that would be thoughtful and courteous. (Maybe she envisioned a teachable moment for her daughter – “Look honey, money flows from pig’s butts.”) I suppose I should have been grateful she wasn’t counting pennies from Porky. I changed lines, and as I walked out, noted that she was still counting out.

Last Thursday I dropped by CVS for a prescription. I thought my timing was perfect - only one drug addict ahead of me. Wrong. Again. The lady was picking up enough prescriptions to open a small pharmacy. Either that or she is medically a mess. I’m guessing the latter. Worse yet, she had a shopping cart loaded with stuff. I stopped counting at 25 items. At least she wasn’t toting a piggy bank.

DEGs with bad line karma need to learn to nap while standing.

For balance, I have great parking space karma, meaning that I find spaces within a day’s walking distance, and remember which county I parked in.

If I had a choice I would choose better line karma. When you can’t find your car, at least you’re getting more exercise.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

First Day of Class Part II

If you read the last post, you should have noted the Thursday entry – yoga.

When it comes to yoga, I’m back in first grade, and it’s a language foreign. At least the body part terms are familiar.

There are several branches of yoga: Raja, Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, Hatha, and Yoda. Okay I made up that last one. But the Yoda’s moves in Star Wars’ movies must have been some very advanced yoga. Then there are beginning, intermediate and advanced stages. I have no idea what branch my LA Fitness branch subscribes to or what stage. Regardless, beginners walk in and crawl out.

I have now discovered another form of exercise besides marathons that our bodies are not made for – yoga.

You don’t need much to take a yoga class, other than loose-fitting clothes and a personal mat. You wouldn’t want to take a culture of fitness gym mats. It helps if you have been doing some kind of exercise other than lifting a fork to feed your face.

Yoga is becoming pretty popular in the United States, but the Vatican does not approve, declaring in 1989 that Eastern practices such as Zen and yoga can “degenerate into a cult of the body.” Clearly my body can degenerate, but become cultist? Given the looks of us lately, we could use some more time cultivating our bodies.

Some of the yoga positions are pretty simple, thankfully. My favorite is the Corpse Pose. You assume the position of a corpse, though still breathing through your nose - thankfully. The Plank Pose looks like a push-up but you have to remain pushed up 10 minutes. Maybe it just seems that way. Breathe through your nose. The Child’s Pose looks like a Muslim’s afternoon prayers, except that you have to remain prayerful for some time with your butt touching your heels. The Standing Forward Bend is bending over and placing your palms on the floor, without bending the knees. Breathe through your nose. And hell no, I couldn’t do that (the palming the floor part), though I came a lot closer by the end of class. The Cobbler’s Pose is sitting with your knees flung wide apart and the bottoms of your feet becoming very friendly. The Mountain Pose is simple, standing erect, arms to the sides.

If these were the only poses, yoga would be my new best friend.

Not so fast. There’s Plow Pose, Bridge Pose, Tree Pose, King Dancer Pose, Lotus Pose, Supine Spinal Twist, and something that looks like an upside down victory sign. For the Tree Pose you stand on one leg with hands pressed together and bring your other foot up until the sole is flat against the inner standing thigh. At least it wasn’t the outer thigh. Breathe through your nose.

For the King Dancer Pose stand again on one leg (right), bend forward at the waist and thrust your right arm straight out. With your left arm grab your left foot and pull it up past your ear. Not really, but you get the idea. Change legs, rinse, repeat. Breathe through your nose.

For the Bridge Pose, start on your Corpse Pose (good so far) and bring the knees and lower legs vertical to the floor, feet flat. Then raise your torso until your back is inverted, shoulders and head flat on the floor. I think this is called getting your back up. Breathe through your nose.

One pose reminded me of the splits cheerleaders did in high school to gain our vote for head cheerleader. I didn’t try it then, either.

There is another pose where you are prone and then you make your body simulate the legs of a rocking chair. Guys need more than a jockstrap for this position.

Fortunately we weren’t asked to do the Lotus Pose. It begins as a Cobbler’s Pose but then you entangle your legs, positioning each foot on top of the opposite thigh. You will first need surgery.

All in all, I did pretty well. I only had to ask the instructor four times to pop back in a dislocated shoulder or hip.

This is a popular class, thirty in all. I was the only male. I am so there. No, I didn’t strain my eyes staring. My eye ogling was watching the instructor out of the corners of my eyes so as not to embarrass myself and end up with my right foot behind my left ear. I think that move is in the advanced class.


Breathe through your nose.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

First Day of Class

In addition to browsing the Internet, I have been browsing a book entitled, Younger Next Year – Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond. Though the book has been out for several years, another aging-defiant friend only recently recommended it. With my next birthday at hand, I’m thinking, “great, no more birthdays.”

Could this be Benjamin Button’s bible?

One of authors’ tenets is to exercise strenuously six days a week. This gave me pause. My 2-3 workouts per week did not stop the aging process?

I perused the class offerings at my local LA Fitness and noted a daily cycling offering. Since I was already doing the recumbent bike for 40-45 minutes 2-3 days a week with above-moderate resistance, I thought cycling a step up, but doable.

I just finished my first class. I did not die, though my heart did text me several times, suggesting I sit down or slow down.

Those people are animals, and 75% are women. For the record I never stopped, and I never slipped below moderate resistance. I even stood up a few times, though not for long. There was that heart-texting thing.

I glanced at the wall clock once thinking we must be about three-quarters through. Nope – fifteen minutes. Expletive deleted.

Our butts are not compatible with bicycle seats. That’s probably why they goad you into standing up, frequently.

The petite, perky, zero-body-fat female instructor used a series of hand signs (her headset mic wasn’t working) to signal speed, resistance, sitting or climbing. I grew to dislike her intensely.

This is the first week of my new regimen. It may also be the last.
· Monday – 40-minute recumbent bike, and stretching.
· Tuesday – cycling and stretching.
· Wednesday – 40-minute recumbent bike, stretching, 1-2 miles on the treadmill, mostly uphill, and several weight machines. One-hour nap.
· Thursday - yoga. Two-hour nap.
· Friday – cycling, and stretching. Three-hour nap.
· Saturday – 45-minute recumbent bike, stretching, and 3 miles on the treadmill, mostly uphill. Four-hour nap.
· Sunday – Stay in bed.

I’m thinking that by Saturday noon my body will not be speaking to me. Well, it will, but not nicely.

Le Tour de France need not worry. I’m targeting Le Tour de Cul de Sac.

Cooking class, anyone?