Thursday, October 21, 2010

Week Four October 21, 2010

Boston, Mass
Boston and San Francisco have a lot in common; San Francisco has bay boat tours, Boston has harbor boat tours - San Francisco has cable car tours, Boston has Bean Town trolley tours -  San Francisco has Fisherman’s Wharf seafood restaurants, Boston has Boston Harbor seafood restaurants - San Francisco has an Italian section, North Beach, Boston has an Italian section, the North End - San Francisco has an elite section, Nob Hill, Boston has an elite section, Beacon Hill.  We visited them all. And like those Boston tourists who come to San Francisco, we did in Boston what they do in San Francisco… we stood on street corners, with  map in hand., looking like the confused tourists we were.

I brought my body to Boston but I left my heart in San Francisco.

In 1995 the Les Blank documentary about me was screened at Harvard.  Consequently the Harvard Crimson printed a very nice review of the film by Sarah Dry. Since I was in the area I thought I would drop off a DVD of the film at the Crimson office.  The DVD has the second film that Les made about me titled, "The Maestro Rides Again" and I thought perhaps someone at the Crimson may have remembered the first film and wondered what ever became of The Maestro.  Unfortunately we were there in the morning when most of the staff was still in class.  However a very nice young lady named Cici was kind enough to greet me and promised to pass it along to the art/film department.

We spent the rest of the morning walking around the campus.  It is a beautiful campus full of bright, young, healthy looking people.  It was reassuring to see America’s future in the hands of such intelligent looking people.

While we were in the neighborhood we stopped by MIT to see the Frank Gehry Stata Center building. Pretty impressive. I understand Bill Gates helped fund the building. Thanks Bill.

Old Cape Cod
“If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air
Quaint little villages here and there
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod

If you spend an evening you'll want to stay
Watching the transvestites on Cape Cod Bay
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod”

Newport, Rhode Island
The Newport Jazz Festival.  That’s it, that’s all I knew about Newport.  So naturally when we got here I thought  I would find a jazzy town full of jazz clubs with a cool, super hip populous.  Man, did I have that wrong.  First of all there is nothing special about Newport’s population that I could see, and as far as jazz clubs go I didn’t see a one.  I found a gambling casino, a Walmart and a dozen or so Dunkin' Doughnut shops easy enough, but jazz clubs?  Nothing.  

So much for the Newport Jazz town image. That left us with nothing to do but tourist up - so we took a harbor tour.  The tour boat went by some big old  fort in front of which, our tour guide told me, is where the Jazz festival is held.  But there wasn’t a trace of anything remotely jazz-like there that I could see.  Seems like a strange place to hold a jazz festival anyway, in front of a fort? Who is the headliner, Cannonball Adderley?.  

Later we found out what Newport is really known for; its “Gilded Age” mansions with their overly done, overly ornate French and Italian interiors, which were fabricated in France and Italy then shipped to the U.S.   The stuff is typical for that period with all kinds of bric-a-brac trimmings with  marble and gold leaf cherubs holding this or that lamp, mirror, table, ceiling and what have you.  Oh yes, and lion statues all around the exterior entrance way.  These pompous conspicuous consumptioners imported European culture by the boatload.  That’s because they spent more time in Paris and Rome than they did in America,  - of course after they made their tax free money off the backs of the unwashed.  No wonder America never developed a culture of its own, these moneyed elitist set a “European style” table and we have all been eating off it ever since….but I digress…. 

They have tours of five of these gilded mansions that you can take for a mere $31.00.  The Vanderbilt mansion is probably the most gilded of them all.  We took the tour and started there. It was either that or go play the slots at the casino. 

If you haven’t seen enough European influenced buildings, art, sculpture, around your town, come to Newport and you will get your fill.

…Oh by the way, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis spent much of her early years here in Newport…the house where she lived is on the boat tour.

Rhode Island School of Design

We went to the Rhode Island School of Design. I was hoping to see something interesting in the world of art and design. I should have known better. What I saw was the same old boring stuff cranked out by art students everywhere. Total crap. It is obvious to me that art students across this country are being taught that art is just adult playtime. They’re not learning anything about the seriousness of art or what is involved in being an true artist. Its too bad. These art students are throwing their lives away thinking they are producing art when in fact they are only producing garbage that will just end up being hauled off to the dump. What a waste of time and energy - spending your life making landfill - landfill art. But what can one expect when people think art can be taught.

Fall Colors
Yes, I know you want to know if I saw any fall colors and what I thought of the eastern landscape. Well, like Picasso said one time when some friends showed him the beautiful landscape on their estate and asked him what he thought; Picasso looked over at it and said, “It makes me wish I was a painter.“

..speaking of fall colors and art....
I had some time to kill while Cousin Doug was adjusting his tripod to take yet another landscape I did a little Leaf Art.

To Sum Up

The longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer said that the health of a country could be judged by the emphases it puts on maintenance. A country that maintains its buildings, its factories, its machines, its bridges and roads is a healthy country. A country that no longer sees the importance of maintenance is in decline. I found that in the east there is a marked lack of maintenance. The motels where we stayed, the roads we drove on, the bridges we crossed, the restaurants, shopping centers, the houses, almost everywhere we looked there was a lack of maintenance, a lack of maintenance that in some cases was appalling. Some of the freeway overpasses in the east are so bad it frightened me to pass under them.

The People
I found the people in the east to be courteous and friendly. Doors were held open, questions were answered politely, and a young African American even gave up his seat on the rapid transit for Alice. That impressed me. I can’t see that happening on BART.

Generally people looked groomed and reasonably well dressed, but the overweight problem is as prevalent here as it is across the country. They are obviously eating too much back here too. The restaurants are full every night with people eating and drinking.

However, when we went into several stores, and even some big chain stores, they were empty. Its kind of eerie in a way, a lot of people out and about but nobody is buying anything but food. When people perceive financial and political uncertainty looming they first get depressed then frightened, then they turn to food for comfort. That might explain why the restaurants, bakeries, and fast food joints are full while the shops and stores are not.

At many of the shops and stores I went into I sensed a certain desperation in the eyes of the sales clerks, the desperation of an orphan in an overcrowded third world adoption agency where the kids are lined up to be looked over by a rich foreign client. They are each silently thinking, please choose me, please choose me! They say nothing but it shows in their eyes. These people know that sales are down and they have a sense, regardless of the government and Wall Street spin, that they are about to be hit by a real depression with real life changing consequences.

I might be wrong, and I hope I am, but the political climate in this country has already taken a turn for the worse and if the populous doesn’t start feeling better about their future we are in for more than a few miles of bad road ahead.

The Captain Snappy Show
Captain Snappy and Dopey are hand puppets I made to put on puppet shows for my grandkids, on Skype. I brought them along hoping I could Skype a road show from Boston. In Vermont I gathered up some leaves and fashioned another puppet I called Queen LaLeafa, she was going to be Captain Snappy’s special guest. I made an elaborate backdrop with leaves and was all set to put on the show but my computer had trouble getting online. So the Captain Snappy road show had to be canceled. Too bad. I had e-mailed my daughter ahead and the kids were all waiting for the Captain Snappy show. It was a disappointment all around.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Week Three - Wednesday October 13, 2010

Folk Art Dinosaur
Before we left home Alice had come across an article in the SF Chronicle about someone who had built a large folk art dinosaur at some airport in Post Hills, Vermont.  As we were in the area we decided to check it out.  We found it on a back road sitting in a field of green grass that was actually a small private airstrip for launching balloons. It was big and most definitely something that would have fit in nicely at Burning Man.  Underneath and to the front of the thing was a poster board where several articles from various newspaper and magazine were posted under glass.  I noticed the article from the Chronicle that we had was not among them.

Then, across the grass field, near a large building I saw a man on a cell phone pacing about.  I decided to walk over and talk to the man hoping he knew the dinosaur artist with the thought that perhaps he could give the article we had to him.  As it turned out the man on the phone was the artist himself, his name was Brian Boland.  And the large building that I thought was the airplane hanger or some such thing turned out to be his studio/museum. He invited us to roam around inside the place at our leisure.

Brian, besides being an artist, is also a professional balloon pilot.  He has been piloting balloons since 1970 and is one of the most experienced pilots in the world.  He has set numerous world records, won national championships, and has flown all over the world, including flights over the Alps and Andes. He also designs and builds balloons and balloon baskets.

Some of his funky balloon basket collection is in the museum along with what I consider to be some things that qualify for art car status.  One such thing is the “Picnic Table Ride”  It is a motorized picnic table that can seat six picnickers having lunch while traveling down the road.  Brian didn’t know anything about the art car parades in Houston and Berkeley, so I gave him Harrod Blank and The Orange Show’s web site address.  I sure hope he can get connected up with the art car people because it sure seems like a good fit.

Mt Washington 
Mt Washington, never heard of it, yet it has the oldest mountain hiking trail in America and is considered to have the worst weather in the world.  It has long held the world record for the highest wing gusts on the surface of the earth at 231 mph.  The day we were there the temperature was 25 degrees with a peak wind speed of 71.5 mph.  It was cooooold!  We felt like we were on another planet.  And the drive up the mountain on a narrow road….don’t ask!

Karen’s Café
We stopped for gas just outside of Bar Harbor in Ellsworth, Maine. It was time for lunch and the only thing we saw as we pulled out of the station  was a McDonald’s, ugh.  Then Alice noticed a sign across the way at the Maine Mall that said Karen’s Café.  We decided to go there rather than McDonald’s.  

We entered the mall and found that Karen’s Café was not a freestanding restaurant, but an eatery inside a store called Mr. Paperback.   We walked in, walked to the back, looked over the menu and made our decisions.  Then as I was ordering from the young lady (Karen) behind the counter she asked where I was from. (I get that a lot, its the cowboy hat) I said, “California.”  She said, “Oh, I lived there, in a place called Morro Bay.”  Well that was a surprise. Way back here in a small town, in a small mall, in the back of a store, in a tiny eatery, I find someone from my home town. What are the chances of that happening in a lifetime.  

We exchanged stories about the San Luis Obispo area.  We talked about health, art, and a number of other things. It was a chance meeting of kindred spirits, a very rare thing under the circumstances.  ……the food was excellent by the way! 

Bar Harbor, Maine
When we got to Bar Harbor we drove up Cadillac Mountain to get a view of the islands and harbor.  Two cruise ships were in the harbor unloading tourist onto small boats that ferried them into the quaint little town of Bar Harbor.  If they haven’t spent all their money on the cruise they can distribute whatever money they have left to the various shops and eateries on shore.  And the Bar Harbor businesses are waiting to squeeze every last bit of money they can out of these cruise ship tourist.  A local told us that after the last cruise ship leaves the harbor the town folds up like a circus tent and doesn’t open up again until the ships return next tourist season. 

We were here just a couple of days before this season ended so almost every store had their entire stock on sale at 50% off to get rid of it before the town folds up.  Everything was on sale, tee shirts, moose and lobster memorabilia, all sorts of nicky nackies - you name it, it was on sale.  These stores have such an array of trinkets it makes you wonder how China manages to find time to make these things on top of all the clothes, purses, shoes, belts and other stuff  that you find in every Macy’s, Target, and Walmart,  Even the several ice cream shops were unloading their freezers of ice cream.  $1.00 a scoop! (most flavors were already sold out)

Cousin Doug and Alice went out for a lobster dinner, which this town is famous for, I passed.  The thought of eating something scalded to death before your eyes ruins my appetite.

We took a historic lighthouse boat tour and saw about everything there was to see, had a good pizza, then left town so that they could roll up the streets.

Taking it as far east as possible.  Lubec, Maine
Lubec is a small town of around twelve hundred souls up on the tip if Maine.  It’s here where one can stand on the spot that is the farthest east on the continental United States.  
There is a granite marker right on the spot at the foot of a candy striped lighthouse.  We went there, took a number of photos, looked around a bit, then went back to our motel.  

That was it, I did it; I took it as far east as I could.  

Alice and Cousin Doug went out the next morning at 5:30 am to catch the sunrise. I stayed in the room and did a little watercolor painting in the motel’s guest book.  I wanted to leave a little something because this was the best motel we have had this entire trip.  It was a newly built motel in a converted sardine packing plant.  It was as big as a condo with two bedrooms, two baths, kitchen, dining room, living room and a balcony 25 feet from the water.  It was all new, reasonably priced, and tastefully done. …its also the only motel in town.

Oreo Cows?
I thought I knew cows but we came across a herd I have never heard of.  They are called Belted Galloway.  They look like Oreo cookies or ice cream sandwiches: black at both ends and white in the middle. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Week Two - Thursday October 7, 2010

We spent Monday night in Toronto and Tuesday and Wednesday in Montreal. We also made a stop in Ottawa to tour the capital. Nice tour.

We got into Montreal late Tuesday night so we went straight to our hotel and stayed in for the night. The next morning we left the hotel to walk the old part of the city. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was for a big city. There was hardly any noise at all, it was kind of weird in a way, cars, trucks, buses, people, but very little noise. It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that we discovered the reason….there is a gigantic four level underground mall that went on for blocks and blocks. That’s where all the noise was. It is a virtual underground city. Here is where the noise and hustle and bustle can be found, it’s a very modern and very busy place.

Note: I was unable to connect my computer to the hotel’s Internet, so I am way behind on posting this blog.

Before we left Michigan we took a trip up to Midland to see the Dow House. Alden Dow was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. After studying with Wright, Dow designed and built a home and studio in Midland, something on the order of Wright’s Taliesin West studio. We took a tour* of his house and studio along with a driving tour around town where we got to see and visit a church and tour two houses he designed. I was really impressed with his home and studio, it was well done and most definitely Wright influenced.. However, that’s about all I liked, the rest of his buildings looked like poor Frank Lloyd Wright imitations.

Alden Dow spent his entire life in Midland working as an architect, where he designed over 130 homes and buildings. Unlike Wright, Alden did not need commissions to survive, his father was the founder of Dow Chemicals, a multi millionaire, so money was never a problem. He was loaded - something that must have privately irked Wright. Young men with tons of money, talented or not, can leave a rather large footprint on whatever endeavor they may set their minds upon.

However, Frank Lloyd Wright remained friends with Alden Dow and his wife all his life. (Wright was never one to let loose of people with money) And, even though he came to Midland to give seminars, he refused to ever step foot in the Dow’s home or studio. One could speculate that it had something to do with Wright’s oversized ego.

But not to worry Frank, architect Alden Dow will never reach the status of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright is a God in the world of architecture whereas Alden Dow is a mere mortal; a man with money, a pencil and a ruler - and he will always remain so.
*a note to the tour guides: enough of the “compression - release” thing already!

Toronto has a population of around two and a half million. I had no idea it was such a big city. We walked around the downtown area and went into a few high-end stores. In one, Holt Renfrew, as I was looking over a pair of designer spike heel shoes, ($1,975.00) I overheard a sales woman telling a prospective customer who was contemplating buying a new upscale purse…“…you’ll see more Hollywood stars with that bag than any of the others…” So there you go, American influence working its way deep into the bowels of the Canadian economy. Yea for America!

We went to Toronto’s large Chinatown for dinner and ate at King’s Noodle House. It was recommended to us by the parking lot cashier. It was very good. It was raining a bit but there were still lots of people out and about. Toronto is a nice city.

Marathon Update: I’ve been giving my muscles a rest for the past week and a half. I have however been taking my Whey Protein without fail. Cousin Doug had scouted out a store that sold my brand of Whey Protein before we arrived in Rochester Hills so I was able to buy four pounds the day I arrived.

The Best Western Motel in Toronto had a “Fitness Room” so I went down to have a look and maybe to do some light lifting, but there were four young guys who looked like soccer players working out on the machines. I watched for a bit then left. I could tell by the way they were exercising that they weren’t serious iron men.

As we were heading out on the freeway for Ottawa the traffic was light, but the traffic coming the other direction, into Toronto, backed up for miles and miles. I saw the same in Rochester Hills and in every other city I’ve been in. These people sit in their cars hour after hour, day after day, year after year, inching along an endless strip of concrete. It made me wonder if perhaps the day will come when these people will completely break down. They will give up. Not with a loud burst of anger, but with a whisper, “I’ve had enough, I’m done.” and they will get out of their cars and walk away. One big human shut down. Just like during the Civil War when after seeing so much killing and death all around, some men would say, “I’ve had enough, I’m done,” and they would set down their rifles and walk back home. Human beings are programmed to shut down when they reach maximum stimulus overload. It seems to me we are getting close to that on a grand scale on our freeways.

Montreal is a nice city. We toured some of its gothic cathedrals, walked all over the old town district, ate in a French restaurant, went to the Contemprary Art Museum, and saw part of its featured light show, all of which we did in a light downpour. Montreal is also a French city for all intents and purposes. Everyone speaks French, but they will switch to English if you say, “English please.”

I’m not so sure the French like Americans anymore, at least not like they did after WWII…they still like our money but I think they think Americans are more or less unsophisticated culturally challenged backwood hicks. But I make no excuse for being American. I love America and I love Americans in all their diversity. We cut through the BS and get to the point, whereas the French like to wrap every subject in fine linen and then admire and talk endlessly about the package.  They can talk for hours about the most trivial of things….I think they love their language so much that they just talk to hear themselves speak the language.

Americans use language to get from one place to another, the French use language to take a leisurely stroll through the park.

Here we are back in the states….funny though, I still feel like I’m in a foreign country; I‘ll have to reboot..

While I was trying to readjust myself we pulled into the Shelburne Museum parking lot.  It looked like we were out in the country somewhere in the middle of a golf course. It was all green grass with 25 or 30 building scattered here and there. What kind of museum is this I wondered.

We go in, buy our tickets, grab a walking tour map and walk out onto the grounds.  The first thing I saw was a large wooden round barn.  What is this place I thought to myself…there was a round barn in my home town of San Luis Obispo so I didn’t see what was so “museum worthy” about a round barn.  The next building on the tour was a long wooden barn like building built in the shape of a C.  Out front were two rows of old circus sideshow banners, The Man With Two Faces, The Alligator Woman, things like that.  I remember those things from when I was a kid and the circus would come to town.

The sign said Entrance so I went in.  What I saw was truly amazing. It was filled with  a 112 miniature hand carved  attractions from the Buffalo Bill Wild West, Barnum and Bailey, Ringling Bro, and Robinsons circuses parade stretching 552 linear feet around the C shaped building. At the other end of the building was a truly remarkable bit of circus folk art, a 4,000 piece hand carved, hand painted miniature three ring circus complete with audience in the stands! It took artist Kirk Brothers 25 years to carve and paint all these pieces, and he did it in his spare time while holding down a full time job!

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.  As we went from building to building we found more and more interesting things housed inside.  This museum had more interesting stuff in it than twenty Guggenheim museums.  The museum also included original paintings  by such well known artists as, Monet, Degas, Manet, Homer, Remington, Cassett, Wyeth, and Corot to name just a few… But I don’t have room on this blog to tell you all about it…so go to this website for all the amazing details:

Leaf Peepers and Tripod Hole’rs
Here in Vermont they have a word for those tourists types who come up here to see the fall colors, they call them; “leaf peepers.”  That’s an inside joke I guess, but it makes me feel a little uncomfortable knowing that in every store or restaurant I go into the people that work there are looking and laughing at me behind my back calling me a leaf peeper, like I don‘t have a life.  But then I guess tourists get a bad rap from the locals no matter where they go.  In San Francisco the tourists are probably called, “bridge gawkers.”

It doesn’t interfere with commerce though, money is still king and a lot of it is changing hands.  

At any rate here we are in among the leaf peepers, big time.  The Japanese, are here by the bus load, having fun as usual.  The Indians (from India) are also scattered in among us.  Some leather boys on their rented Harley’s are here, and lots of peepers from the surrounding states too.  We are all here to “peep” at the beautiful landscape from well mowed green grass…which I understand is kept up by the locals just for us.  Thank you Vermont people for providing us with such a beautiful place to peep.

Something else you see here a lot this time of year are the “tripod hole’rs” or “photo-holics.”  Almost every photo of some old barn, white church steeple, farm house, covered bridge, rolling hills with pumpkin orange, yellow, and red trees, you have ever seen of Vermont was taken from a well mapped out spot.  The exact spot where the photo was taken has been circulated throughout the world by every camera club, camera newsletter publication, and tourist photo guide that has ever been printed probably since the camera was invented.

It seems every camera person wants to take the very same photo of the photo they saw in a photo gallery, camera club meeting or on a  post card, or calendar.  They read about the exact place every photo was taken then go there to take a photo of the very same thing from the very same spot.  Cousin Doug is using Arnold J. Kaplan’s Handbook On How To Find (and photograph) The Photo-Scenics In Vermont to locate spots he wants to photograph.  He has mapped out this part of the trip well in advance.  The handbook guide takes him up small backloads, behind this or that building, or up the side of this or that hill, or off into someone’s field, etc.

One spot where the view is “picture perfect,” an enterprising farmer has even placed a small donation box for the Tripod Hole’rs to drop a few coins in for the privilege of taking yet another photo from that very spot.  I seems that wherever peepers congregate there is always an opportunity for income generation.  Cousin Doug said there was a large bunch of Japanese camera-holics gathered at this spot early the morning he was there making it hard for him to find a place to plant his tripod poles to get just the right angle for the shot he wanted.

Myself, I’m still photographing all the food I eat, which doesn’t require much planning, just a quick point and shoot.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Plant
No trip to Vermont is complete without a trip to the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream plant.  I anticipated getting as much ice cream as I could eat - paid for by a tour of the plant.  Shoot, I can do that.  A half hour of boredom for at least a gallon of ice cream, small price to pay.  .....WRONG!

It seems that those nice socially conscious hippie looking guys Ben and Jerry, who you expect to be churning ice cream in the back room, sold out and sold the plant to a big corporation.  It is now run like a well oiled business machine. Instead of getting paid with all the ice cream you can eat for taking the tour, you have to pay them $3.00 for the privilege of listening to a twenty minute PR video and a short walk through the plant with a talking guide. What a bummer.  We took the tour anyway since we came all this way but I was very disappointed…its all about money now.  They have a gift shop and of course they sell all their ice cream treats too… at ridiculously high prices.  Oh yes, they did give us a taste of their, “flavor of the day” in a small one inch by one inch paper pill dispenser cup.  It barely wet the tongue.  I should also mention that they had a “Flavor Graveyard” out near the parking lot where they had grave markers with the names of various discontinued flavors.  It seems that the bean counters found that Ben and Jerry had come up with flavors that were not cost effective so they were dumped for some more profit enhancing flavors.  Do you expect less from big business?  Ben & Jerry’s, booo!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week One - Setember 28, 2010

Up at 2 AM to catch a flight out of Oakland International Airport heading for Detroit, MI. We arrived in Detroit 12:10. (our time) Cousin Doug was waiting faithfully at the terminal to whisk us away from all the airport madness. I hate to fly anymore. Back in 1964 Alice and I flew one of the first Pan Am jet liners to Hawaii. We dressed up - me in a suit, Alice in a dress with heels and nylons. We were fed a full course meal on the plane and there were comfortable seats, wide isles, and friendly stewardesses who brought you drinks of your choice...all at no extra cost.....but these are different times so lets not linger in the past.

As we hadn’t eaten since around two that morning we thought we should get something to eat before we got to Cousin Doug’s condo in Rochester Hills. We will be staying there until we leave for Toronto, Canada on Monday, Oct. 3. Cousin Doug knew this great little Italian restaurant on the way so we dropped in for something to eat.  Now I had told Cousin Doug and Alice that I would leave my Muscle Marathon back at the Bunkhouse Gym.  I told them I wasn’t going to preach about physical training or health to anyone on this trip. …that is, unless someone broached the subject, then I was going to go all out like Jack Lalanne and put on my Maestro Muscle Marathon Traveling Road Show, complete with cards that I had made with links to my web site and blogs, - I was ready.

It just so happened as we were leaving, after a great Italian dinner, this young woman hostess asked why I had taken photos of my food. “I have been taking photos of all the food I eat for over a year now.“ I said, “its part of my Muscle Marathon training.“ “Really ,“she replied inquisitively, “what’s a muscle marathon? Bingo! Out came the web site cards, the blog link cards, and off I went on my Maestro Muscle Marathon weight training monologue.

The one thing I stressed was that I was a bodybuilder back in the 60’s but I gave it all up to be an artist. I said for the next forty years I smoked, drank, and let myself go to pot, I gained weight lost my hair, and found myself at 72 getting fat, sick and depressed because I thought my life was over. Then I started my muscle marathon and I now I’m on my way to getting my life back. She couldn’t believe I was 73 years old! She said she and her husband had been working out but gave it up, now she said she was inspired to get back to it again. I told her I was living proof that it is never too late to start again.

The only photo I had to show her was a photo of me at age 33 taken in1968, so when we got home Cousin Doug printed out the latest photo of me that I took in the Bunkhouse Gym before we left.
I put these two photos in my wallet and now I am ready to, “Take it to the East!“

About My Marathon:

Friday, October 1, 2010 - Fat Cells
Cousin Doug is in the process of remodeling his bathroom so we have spent the last few days going to granite places, tile stores, and cabinet shops. Since I have already remodeled my bathroom I more or less stayed in the background while Alice and Cousin Doug discussed the various options, colors and styles of everything he will need to complete the job.

As I am want to do I spent my time observing and pondering the human condition at the various places we stopped. For example, at Home Depot I had to move out of the way for this man coming down the isle driving one of those drivable shopping carts, he must have weighed 500 pounds.  He had on a white tee shirt and his fat body hung out over the seat and down the sides. He looked like a large water balloon with eyes.

It made me think about our country and what kind of shape its in. Everyone is frightened of terrorists attacking us again, That was the reason for the four hour delay at the airport between me getting up at 2 AM and not taking off until 6 AM. We as a country are aware of the terrorist threat and have taken steps as a nation to prevent another attack. We are all concerned to the point where we will put up with many inconveniences in order to keep ourselves safe and alive.

But while people worry about our country being attacked by terrorists they never give a thought about the fact that excessive fat cells are terrorists in the body. The fat cell terrorists attack your body 24/7 and if not rooted out they will eventually fly a plane into your heart.

Fat cells are not evil terrorists by design. You’re body uses fat cells for energy, to keep your body moving, like your car uses gas for energy to keep it moving. If you keep filling your car up with gas and you don’t go anywhere all that excess gas will spill out of the tank onto the ground. A car’s gas tank can only hold so much gas. Your body however doesn’t have a fixed size tank. If you eat a lot of starchy foods, chips, sugary snacks and things like that they don’t overflow out onto ground, they just expand your fat cells…expand - that means makes them bigger.

However, its not the end of the world. Fat cells don’t grow as in permanent, like adding a room to your house…they just expand. The more you eat and the less energy you use the more they expand and the bigger you get. The less you eat and the more energy you use the less they expand and the smaller you get. Its not rocket science. It is the way your body was designed to work. But trust me on this, you keep on eating junk food and spend your days moving only your fingers at the computer keyboard your fat cells will keep expanding under your skin until you look like a big oversize water bag who needs a motorized shopping cart to get around.

That doesn’t mean you have to hate yourself or that you are a bad person or that you don’t deserve to live. There is no need for all that negativity. It just means you are not paying attention. You have let the terrorists take over your body…. and they are out to kill you if you don’t stop them. You won’t let the terrorists take over your country so why let them take over your body?

You have to form a Body Security Police to monitor everything that goes into your mouth…just like the Homeland Security Police at the airport who monitor everyone who gets aboard an airplane. It’s a damn inconvenience but it will preserve our health and keep you alive.

The Body Police should monitor what you eat to make sure you stop overfilling your fat cell tank. What you need to do is to get to the point where you put in only as much gas as you need for the energy you expend. Its not hard when you think of the alternative ..driving a motorized shopping cart to your grave.

Sat. Oct 2, 2010 - Muscle Cells

While I was waiting for Cousin Doug and Alice to go through the stacks of granite looking for the right piece for his bathroom countertops I happened to notice this old piece of equipment that was once used to lift those heavy pieces of granite just sitting there in the weeds. It was no longer being used. The seat was broken and worn, the tires were flat, it was rusty with parts missing, it was just sitting there wasting away. (see photo below) It made me think of how muscle cells too, when not used, will also sit there and waste away.

Muscle cells are designed to be used, if they are not used they will suffer from what is called muscle atrophy. It is a decrease in the mass of the muscle; it can be a partial or a complete wasting away of muscle. The older you get the worse it gets. That’s why you see men, some even in their sixties, having a hard time walking. Most of their muscles have wasted away. You don’t notice it so much physically because most of them have increased their fat cell size to the point where they look big but it is all fat with no muscle left to speak of. They may have been strong when they were young but because of age and neglect their muscles wasted away under all those fat cells. If they had taken care of their muscle cells over the years they would still be able to function properly

Our muscles cells are designed to work. They are designed to continue working well into old age if they are properly cared for. That means they need to be properly nourished and continually used. They were not designed to sit and do nothing. If your muscles have no work to do they will just sit there and waste away like that old granite lifting machine.

Unfortunately, at home and when I travel, I see too many people who have left their fat cells expand and their muscle cells waste away. For better of for worse, Americans are no longer the Americans of the past, the Americans who built this nation with the sweat of their brow and the muscles in their arms. Today’s Americans are building a new America by sitting in a chair in front of a computer expanding their fat cells and letting their muscle cells waste away. I wonder if America will end up like that old granite lifting machine setting in the weeds of the world all rusty and useless, just wasting away.