Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ancestors' hearts

It was Health Fair day at my place of work.  Along with a gauntlet of booths setup by various health-care providers and campus departments, they offered free fitness screenings.  This was an amusing experience, as you had to divulge your height and weight, and in return learn about your blood pressure, endurance capabilities, BMI, and body fat percentage.  The assistants were doing everything in their power to keep my weight and body fat percentage secret in the crowded room, by turns mumbling or pointing at the information.  I could have cared less.  I weigh more than J. (165 to his 160), and have an high body fat percentage compared to his (26% to 9%).  No big deal. 
I was curious to discover that I have borderline high blood pressure, though.  I'm pretty healthy--I exercise almost everyday and eat reasonably decent meals.  I could stand to lose a few pounds, but that's the situation of a lot people.  But it's slightly unnerving to discover that there's something wrong with me in spite of the fact that I'm conscientious about my health.  This is certainly a gift from both sides of my family. 
Thanks to my ancestors!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tea after the opera

I took my mother to the opera for her birthday.  We saw the Marriage of Figaro at the Lyric Opera and stayed the night in downtown Chicago.

Our hotel was quite conveniently within a block of the opera.

Our seats were in "Upper Balcony 2".  We were in the far back of that top balcony.

We climbed 6 flights of stairs.  That's what you get for cheap tickets. If you look closely, you can see my mother (waving a program) in the fifth row from the back

Most of my doubts about the opera experience were laid to rest once Figaro walked onto the sumptuously decorated stage.  I say most because there were times during the 4 hours of the performance when it was a struggle to maintain a willing suspension of disbelief (which is something I gladly embrace).  You don't see the Marriage of Figaro for the plot (which is ridiculously silly).

The singing was a thrill to listen to, even if they were singing about stupid things like whether or not Cherubino was hiding in the closet.  The contrast of such beautiful singing with the mundane English translations displayed at the top of the stage was amusing.  Such juxtapositions are right up my alley, and I add them to my treasury of amusing things.

You certainly gain a new appreciation for your lungs.

While we're on the topic of lung capacity, Mom graciously kept me company as we explored the Wicker Park neighborhood.  (J. and I also explored this neighborhood this past January).  There were some interesting shops: Renegade Handmade, Nina, Paper Doll.  It's a good place for people-watching, too.  We passed one fellow with a floppy metro-mohawk, shirtless under a tailored tuxedo jacket over a pair of billowing jodphurs constructed out of a flimsy silver fabric.  It was a cold, misty day and I was impressed at such dedication to fashion.

After this jaunt, we returned to downtown Chicago via the "L" for afternoon tea at the Russian Tea House.

We got their house special, "Highland Tay," which was quite good.

 The food was delicious, though we couldn't finish the sweets.  As you can see from the picture above, the sheer quantity of pastries is overwhelming.

It was a thoroughly excellent way to end a trip to Chicago.  Happy birthday, Mom!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Joining the titans

I've started lifting weights in earnest.

Once you get past the second workout (always the worst), it's very fulfilling. For one, you get to flex your biceps and actually see something.  For another, a slight change overcomes your body: you have a curiously distinct sense that you're stronger.  This is pretty empowering.

One set of exercises I've been doing works the pocket of muscles below your shoulder as well as your triceps.  Those muscles have started developing, and they feel like wings: a hidden mass of wings coiled beneath my shoulder blades.  It's my hidden superpower.  I could take part in Clash of the Titans.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words

Occasionally my decision to pick up a book is based solely on the cover art.

The cover art for "The Bell at Sealey Head" is redolent with story.  My curiosity was piqued, and the book did not let me down.