Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Strawberry Sunday

This is Strawberry season, and if you have a palate, you'd better run away from the giant soggy store strawberries and head to a nearby farm to pick your own. We elected Homestead Farm, up against stupid-pretentious-mansion-land along River road, in the hope that a wealthier farm will mean less stupid mansions around. And also because they have lots of fruits to pick all summer. We managed to pick only 10 pounds of strawberries, a feat compared to previous years..

Then, what do you do with 10 pounds of strawberries?
  1. Pies: we tried a strawberry-banana-pecan pie that's fully cooked and a classic fresh strawberry pie with a baked crust covered by a cream-cheese / heavy cream mixture covered with fresh strawberries. YUM.

  2. Berry booze! We tried a small bottle of strawberry vodka last year and had the good idea to try it before get the berries: we are making a lot more this time!!

  3. Eat the leftover strawberries with cream. Organic heavy cream, because it has so much more taste.
And don't forget: next month is cherry season...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

...we play endlessly

I have long been aware of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós, known for slow post-rock ballads full of sadness and all, as displayed in the cover of their first internationally released album.

So it came as a bit of a shock when I stumbled upon a more recent album claiming to be from the same guys, with a bunch of naked guys running around in the countryside on the cover, and titled "With the sun in our hearts we play endlessly". Far from dark introspection, that title could even be a good motto for Parkour. And the music is, well, unexpected. A mixture of the original melodic ballads of the past with loud explosions of joy and an overall happiness difficult to ignore. It's even gotten to the point that the main singer, Jónsi, released an even-more-so-happy solo album to avoid tarnishing the band's former gloom aura! So definitely worth checking, and you can sample a lot of their songs for free on their website, as these gentlemen are decidedly very nice.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fun experiment for bikers!

In my daily bicycle trips to work, I discovered a fun new game: when you're biking and stopping at a red light, notice how you usually put your right foot down to stabilize yourself. Now, here's the game:

instead of the right foot, put the left foot down every time you stop on your bike.

And be careful the first time you try it, as you're likely to... fall over! If you've never done it before, you will be surprised to see how an apparently simple mirroring of movement is difficult. And then if you try to do it repeatedly over, say, a week, you will quickly find the source of the difference: that small muscle on the outside of your left calf that is now throbbing in pain is the culprit, and clearly is not really used all that much even when you do something as varied as Parkour training.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lessons from the President's Challenge

This spring I took "the President's challenge", an initiative to push people to exercise and log their workouts. I was curious: how does my practice of Parkour fit into that idea, and how fast and far can I go?

Turns out I found a few more things than I hoped. First, logging my workouts made me realize I don't work out much at all. On a regular week, I only train about 3-5h, with a maximum of about maybe 10h. That's not much time, and so my progress was much slower than I expected because the most important factor logged was time rather than intensity of effort (a few had 'vigorous' ratings, but nowhere could you log a 'brutal' workout).

The second interesting point is that the most important single part of my exercising is biking to and from Union Station every day (almost 40% of my activity), because Parkour couldn't be logged (with reason) under a single category. Other interesting stats: children games took 10%, climbing 10%, gymnastics 15%, calisthenics 10%, and then lots of other things came in, which is a pleasing reminder that Parkour is just a lot of different activities. Interestingly, there was little running and jumping involved, though.

So, what I learned was that: 1. regular, light exercise has a more direct impact; 2. efficient training doesn't require much time, but intensity and focus.

Monday, April 26, 2010

News from the madhouse

I recently got a new job for free, meaning I'm doing the job of two persons for the price of one (the lowest price, of course) on top of teaching Parkour classes and commuting 3h a day. So while the madness slowly subsides, blogging is going to be slow in part because there is not much happening to me besides. I'll try to keep updating once a week, see how it goes.

So for this week, yet another silly and entertaining webcomic: FeyWinds, a good-old dungeon fantasy story that doesn't take itself too seriously. The updates are once a week, but there's already a good archive, so that should keep you occupied till next week!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ze Easter Bell

So apparently in the US all you got for Easter is a rabbit running around with a basket of eggs... In France, we have the Easter Bell, flying through the skies and showering the countryside with delicious Easter Eggs. I shouldn't brag, but it's a bit fancier, as demonstrated by this Scary Go Round excellent story. I have to mention that this webcomic might be my favorite webcomic of all times, which is quite a recommendation given that I've read a lot of those. The author has since then decided to move toward more traditional stories with much less zombies, robot diplomats, mystical creatures, and more young teenagers. Still good, but not quite the same. But dig in his archive, there is a lot of stories, probably enough to get you through the Easter egg hunt while everyone else is looking for that one last missing egg.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Harp rocks

I usually enjoy weird, atypical music, but Joanna Newsom definitely stretched my limits, in a very good way. Her second album, Ys, is pretty much her and the harp, singing 10 minute songs about meteorites, bear and monkey stories, and many things that appear to have no connection whatsoever. And changing tune, mixing in a full orchestral outburst for a few moments, ignoring all standards of usual songwriting is not a problem either here.. but the result is really mesmerizing, and difficult to shake off. With her new album, Have one on me, the only big change is the appearance of many instruments, contrasting with the former sparsity of the harp and voice only. And yet, the album spans 3 cds, talks about spiders and other apparently random things, changes at every turn of every 10 minute song. Oh, and there is also a few harp and voice songs, to comfort the Ys fans. And the magic happens again: even though there is not a single song you can move your head to, it's hard to stop listening... so have a try, courtesy of NPR as usual (you can hear the album or a recent concert), see how atypical you can handle and actually enjoy!!