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.