Double Timing It: Walk Across Kansas and Up the Coast of California Simultaneously

VirtualWalkBig1At the beginning of April, I embarked on two (2) virtual walks.  The first is sponsored by my employer and is called “The Big 1” and described as “The Big 1 takes you on a coastal voyage from Laguna Beach in the south all the way up to San Francisco.  It is going to be a beautiful trip and your goal is to complete the route along the Pacific Coast Highway in six weeks.” Continue reading “Double Timing It: Walk Across Kansas and Up the Coast of California Simultaneously”

Places to Avoid Walking During My Lunch Break

This year for Mother’s Day my kids bought me a Fitbit Flex. I got it setup late last week and have gradually increased my walking, both at home during the evenings and at work over part of my lunch hour.

Flush creek as seen while walking at lunch on Mon 5/12/2014Monday I headed out of my building and eventually ended up along the banks of Brush Creek (sometimes referred to as Flush Creek), which flows east along the south side of the Country Club Plaza.  As you can see from the photo above, I will most likely NOT be retracing my steps on this route in the near future.

Continue reading “Places to Avoid Walking During My Lunch Break”

Pleasant Evening Stroll with Apollo and Spring Flowers

For the first time in nearly a month, Apollo and I took a pleasant evening stroll around our neighborhood.  I didn’t get much exercise, as I became easily distracted by all the beautiful blooming spring flowers and trees.  The temperature stayed in the 70s and the sky remained cloudless as the sun dipped toward the western horizon.

Flowers with Apollo
Flowers with Apollo (click for rest of album)

The forecast for the next couple of days, however, predicts more rain, so Apollo and I may not get out and about until later this week.

Terry and I also visited our local Home Depot to purchase a replacement day lilly (for the one lost to the driveway re-construction a year or so ago) and a couple of new flowers to add to the bed around the mailbox. As soon as the day lillies bloom, I’ll snap some photos and share them here.

Octal October

Leaf less finallyFor over 2,500 years in our Western civilization, October has been known as the tenth month of the year and the iconic symbol of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.  Originally, though, the Romans had only ten months in their calendar; hence the “dece” in December (for ten).  The eighth month in the old Roman calendar, October, retained its name (from the Latinocto” meaning “eight“) after January and February were inserted into the calendar around 750 B.C.  (October Wikipedia article).

October holds a special place in my heart, not only because it embodies the Fall season, but because I was born on the second day of the tenth month (frivolous sidebar: subtract two from ten you get eight).  So to with octal, although I rarely think in terms of just eight digits these days.

Way, way back, before IBM introduced it’s PC (aka Personal Computer) to the world, during the mid to late 70s, my father built several home computers using various early operating systems, including CP/M and DR DOS.  Just as I began to blossom mathematically through early exposure to algebra and geometry, I cut my intellectual eye-teeth on octal, hexadecimal, assembly language and machine code.

So it seemed fitting at the end of September, that I decided to increase my daily step goal from seven thousand to eight thousand.  Are you scratching your head yet?  Or just rolling your eyes?

I am happy to report I met my new goal of eight thousand steps eighty-four percent (84%) of the time. I had five days I did not reach my goal, one of which I would have met the goal had I not accidentally reset my pedometer a few minutes before retiring for bed.

In reviewing the data collected by my pedometer, I learned I’m walking, on average, about twenty-five (25) miles per week and getting roughly an hour’s worth of exercise time in the process.  That means, since the beginning of September, I’ve put nearly two hundred (200*) miles wear on my walking shoes!  I think it’s time for a new pair, or at least a new pair of inserts.

The latter half of November will be a challenge.  Travel and holiday guests may put a crimp on my ability to meet my daily step goal.  Only time will tell.

See you next month, same step channel, same step time.

* That’s thirty-one (31) in octal, by the way.

Hot June, Cool Moon

I backburnered my walking routine as the mercury topped triple digits the last week of June.  I just can’t submit Apollo, who is mostly black in color, to early evening walks, with the sun still beating down, making the asphalt and sidewalks very hot for his paws.  I managed to squeeze in four walks this last week of June, but only three the week before.  My best most consistent week came during the second week, where I only missed two days out of seven.  The first week became almost a complete wash, since I spent three days at an astronomy convention, one day observing a lunar eclipse and another day observing Venus transit across the Sun.

June 2012 Step Stats
Step Stats for June 2012

I didn’t take many photos this month with my cell phone while walking Apollo, probably because we walked very early or well after sunset most days, to avoid the heat and humidity as much as possible. I did capture a few flowers, sunsets, sunrises and quirky canine moments though and am sharing them below (click on the image to see the entire album):

Apollo returning home.
June Walks with Apollo (click image for rest of album)

I need to find a better way to get exercise for both of us during the summer.  My experience tells me July and August will not be any cooler than the last day of June.  I guess it’s back to doing Wii Fit Plus in the great room for the next couple of months.

A Pint Low

I donated whole blood today.  I have been unable to donate for nearly two decades, due to chronic anemia.  The last time I attempted (and failed to meet the minimum iron level) was either the immediately following the Andover tornado of April 1991 or the Oklahoma City Bombing in April 1995.  Apparently, April just isn’t a good month for me to donate blood (or to dodge tornadoes and bombs).

I solved my anemia problem last fall and have felt much less tired these past few months.  I thought it was time to try to donate again.  I really disliked not being able to donate because I’m a universal donor and I am Rh negative (somewhat rare).  When an e-mail came out at work a couple of weeks ago concerning a sponsored blood drive for the Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City, I took the plunge and scheduled an appointment.

For the last two days, I made sure I drank plenty of water, something I routinely do anyway. I got a fairly good night’s sleep last night, albeit only six hours instead of seven. Summertime late sunsets encourage me to stay up past my bedtime most weekdays.  Today, I ate a good breakfast, continued drinking water throughout the morning, and ate a light lunch immediately prior to my appointment, set for high noon on one of the hottest days of the year (thus far).

The library in the lobby of the building where I work provided the space for the blood drive.  I took myself, and my photo ID, downstairs and arrived a few minutes early, knowing I’d have paperwork to fill out and questions to answer.  I waited at the door for a few minutes, but got through the registration process fairly quickly.  My draw number was twenty-five, so I settled in to wait, reading  a book on my Nook and sipping on a bottle of water.

I barely got two pages read before my number was called.  Now I had to pass the health screening.  My blood pressure came in at 126/76, slightly elevated from my most recent readings.  I put that down to nervousness.  My pulse was 85 and my temperature at a cool 98.4 degrees.  The final test involved a finger prick to gauge my hemoglobin levels.  I held my breath as the small desktop testing apparatus analyzed my blood.  After a few seconds, a reading of 13.5 appeared on its screen.  I let out my breath and grinned.  The minimum level required is eleven.  My forearms were reviewed and approved for puncture.

Next, I was herded to a reclining bed/lounge chair and the real fun began.   A blood bag with hose and needle attached and several vials for blood testing were prepped and deployed around my left arm and side.  I was given a  ball to squeeze so the health care professional could find my veins.  She scrubbed my forearm for nearly a full minute and then stuck a rather large needle in my arm.  She instructed me to squeeze the ball for five seconds then relax for five seconds.  Apparently, in my enthusiasm to pump blood out of my veins, I squeezed the ball too hard.  She came back and told me to ease up and that I only needed to squeeze as hard as I would if I were holding hands with a toddler.  Whoops!  I would have crushed their hand had I continued as I had been.

After a  minute or two, I began to feel the affects of the blood leaving my body.  I’ve felt this before so I wasn’t worried.  But soon, I began to feel very light headed, very warm and my vision started to darken.  Apparently, my complexion also drained of color, because a health care professional came over to me and asked how I was feeling.  I said I felt a bit light headed.  So they reclined me until my head was lower than my heart, raised my knees and placed cold damp paper towels on my forehead and neck.  In just a few seconds, I felt completely normal again.  I continued gently squeezing the ball while lying down and after about ten minutes I had filled my pint bag full of blood.

Even though I was feeling completely normal again, the blood drive personnel took very good care of me and made sure I didn’t faint when I sat up or stood up.  I drank some apple juice and guiltily consumed two Oreo cookies.  I received a donation sticker and a blood drive t-shirt, as well as cast my vote in the police department v. fire department ‘Battle for the Blood’ campaign.  I also submitted an entry to win two tickets to the All-Star Game festivities.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that one.

I returned to my desk on the ninth floor and whizzed through the rest of the afternoon, hardly missing the pint of blood I left in the lobby.  I drank plenty of water, knowing the long drive home would be torture, driving west into the sun in 105 to 110 degree scorching heat.  No, I won’t be walking Apollo this evening.  I’ll be taking it easy with him on the couch, in the air conditioning, reading a book and sipping an iced tea.

Lazy? or Distracted?

I spent too much time standing around on a sidewalk, staring up at the sun, moon, Venus and stars last week, when I should have been striding along it.  Apollo only got half the walks he usually gets in a week.  I just couldn’t resist the allure of a solar eclipse, hunting for the tiniest sliver of a new moon and earthshine on a moon near Venus to be bothered with walking.  My daughter stayed with us until Wednesday, returning to North Texas after visiting us for ten days after her college graduation.

My pedometer left me accusatory notes all week long, irritating me so much that I left it at home in “time out” one day. But stats don’t lie, and I only hit my goal of seven thousand steps per day one time last week:

Apollo finally got out of the house Wednesday evening, after Terry and I returned from dropping Rachelle off at the airport.  We repeated our evening walks for the rest of the week.  Not even the threat of thunderstorms could keep us cooped up in the house.

Red lilies
Click image for rest of album.

We welcomed the rain the thunderstorm brought.  The grass desperately needed a drink.  Thanks to the setting sun, a rainbow graced the sky east of our house.

Rain brings rainbows (click image for rest of album)

I anticipate the final week of May to include more walking for both us.  Next week, I’ll be distracted on Monday and Tuesday by the moon and Venus again, but I hope to squeeze in walks with Apollo at the other end of the day from the astronomical observation points.

I hope everyone is having a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend.