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Your new personal trainer: a Labrador

Posted Friday by John Birmingham

I've made a couple of changes to try and get rid the weight I stacked on the last year or so. Some obvious, like doing more strength training to build up my core and support that dodgy spinal column. Some less intense, but just as effective. Like walking the dog every day.
I used to walk Sophie for an hour, at least three or four times a week, but over the years as she aged and became less able to handle anything more than a gentle trundle down to the corner and back, I lost that calorie burn without even thinking about it.
Walking Maggie every day the last two weeks, I've been given to remember just how much exercise a younger dog can provide.
I've been taking her out at about five or six in the morning, before wrangling Thomas to school. Mostly we walk down to the river and back, a forty minute round trip that includes a pretty gnarly hill climb. It routinely burns 400 calories according to my Apple Watch.
That's a helluva start to the day. If I do a gym session at lunch I can get that up to eight or nine hundred calories. And a jujitsu class will pile on hundreds more, although I can't measure that directly because I have to take the watch off. With incidental movement through the day, I've been torching somewhere between 1200-1600 kcal a day. With no bakery treats or hot chips to speak of, that's making a difference.
But I reckon it all starts with that dog walk.

2 Responses to ‘Your new personal trainer: a Labrador’

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Hence fat cats I guess

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Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted Saturday
My iPhone tells me, once I turned on the fitness tracker, that in January I walked an average of two miles a day per week, if I was lucky.

During the summer at my current lifeguard job, I averaged almost five miles a day. Granted, that was twelve miles on some days, and two on others while I recovered. Once I got the Fred the Fitbit Coach, I decided to see if I could stick with those Oceans miles.

So far, I've managed to average five miles a day. Some by walking before class, some after classes, a fair bit on the elliptical trainer at the gym, and a lot by walking Abbie the Boston Rat Terrorist.

Not sure how much luck I'm having with the body weight as yet.

Still on the Outer Marches of Oblivion.

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Champion hoaxer dies. For real this time. Seriously. We mean it

Posted Thursday by John Birmingham

I've never been one to pore over the obituary columns. I did do a column about obituaries recently, because they are an acknowledged art form and you get some pretty brilliant examples of the form every now and then.
This one, from the New York Times, is almost perfect.

Alan Abel, a professional hoaxer who for more than half a century gleefully hoodwinked the American public — not least of all by making himself the subject of an earnest news obituary in The New York Times in 1980 — apparently actually did die, on Friday, at his home in Southbury, Conn. He was 94.

The Times piece recounts the life and misadventures of renowned prankster, Alan Abel, who died recently at the age of 94. But if you read the obit closely you will see how carefully it is worded to avoid the possibility that he is bullshitting them again.

"According to records in the National Archives, Mr. Abel enlisted in the Army in 1943," the writer hedges carefully. And after the war he resumed his college education, earning a bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio State University in 1950... "university records indicate".

The italics are mine. The caution was all the Times.

Alan Abel faked his own death in 1980. Not for insurance money, not to escape the complications of life that sometimes lead people to try this on, but for the sheer fun of it. He loved making newspapers and magazines and old school media in general look like idiots. They loved revealing his hoaxes, when they weren't directly victimised by them. He pulled off dozens of scams over the years, from his very first effort running a political organisation with the sole aim of passing laws making it compulsory for animals to wear pants, to running a phantom candidate in the 1964 presidential election, Yetta Bronstein, a Jewish grandmother from the Bronx.

“Vote for Yetta and things will get betta,”

The Times recalls Abel telling the Washington Post in 2006 that “Walter Cronkite is still mad at me. He’s not mad at Hitler. He’s not mad at Castro. He’s mad at me because I fooled him with ‘A nude horse is a rude horse.’ ”

The whole thing is a joy to read, and yet a little sad too. Nowadays Abel would probably be a YouTube millionaire. But his devotion to the purity of his art, and it really was an art, found him living out his days in poverty. He didn't need to. Some of his pranks and hoaxes attracted true believers who would have been happy to give him all their money. The Times recalls him returning a cheque worth $40,000 to a supporter of the campaign put pants on animals. He did admit to staring at it for a while before sending it back.

If you are looking to divert yourself for a couple of minutes, and have a sad smile at a gentle soul, now departed, go read the whole thing. It's wonderful.

4 Responses to ‘Champion hoaxer dies. For real this time. Seriously. We mean it’

Rhino mutters...

Posted Thursday
He’s probably related to Boylan in some convoluted way.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted Friday
This was my first thought.

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Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted Friday
Hah, I had a book about this guy when I was a teenager called "Don't Get Mad, Get Even", which was full of stories about stuff like this that he'd pulled. I had no idea how much of it to believe, but this post corroborates a couple of the weirder ones so I guess I can believe most of them, which is awesome.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon asserts...

Posted Friday
Not sure if i'm getting more cynical as i get older but that seems like a guy from a completely different time. Shame there isn't more of it - my father in law wanted to hire a boat and get dressed up as an arab and sail/row into the harbour once . . . this was before 2001. But still just to stick it to the xenophobes even back then. He scoffed at the ridiculousness of his sister's pride of place photo of her and the Pope (they were actually salvation army background and not catholic) and one his brother treasured of his brother, George W jnr, John Winston H and Steve Irwin. Wanted me to photoshop one of him and Yasser Arafat of all people.

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Marvel at the Captain

Posted Wednesday into Movies by John Birmingham

This looks great.

1 Responses to ‘Marvel at the Captain’

jl would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
Agreed, this looks amazing. Shame it's so far out.

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Our new Constitution

Posted Tuesday by John Birmingham

Somebody planted this very official looking sign in Belmore Park. These are all excellent rules and would make a much better Constitution than the load of old cods we have now.

5 Responses to ‘Our new Constitution’

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted Tuesday
the pedant in me says i have to point out they spelled strategising and fraternisers with a z. Then the civil mindedness in me wants to obey No unnecessary shade throwing (unless it is a literal meaning of shade then i'm all good). I applaud their commitment to a joke though.

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted Tuesday
'Prolonged' nudity?

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted Tuesday
On this American Constitution Day, surely you Strayans have some hot, miserable, late 1700s era building you can lock a bunch of hung over, foul tempered, wool clothing clad politicians to knock about some new Constitution.

I mean, it more or less has worked for us.

More or less.

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Dave W would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
Don't get me started on paella.

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sibeen puts forth...

Posted Wednesday
They can fuck off with the excessive profanity rule.

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Burger not so lite

Posted Monday into House keeping by John Birmingham

At some point in the last year or two a couple of discs at the base of my spine began to fuse together. It happens. I wanted to keep up my jujitsu training and, even more importantly, I didn't want to stop doing exercise altogether. There were days when that felt like a real possibility. As the discs grew together, they trapped a couple of nerves between them causing some exciting side effects that felt at times as though one side of my body was on fire.
Anyway this is a long, roundabout way of fessing up that I really stacked on the weight. It was only partly down to physical incapacity. I did a lot of comfort eating after my dad passed away, too. I think I probably wrote about this at end of last year, when the ladies were about to take off for a couple of weeks overseas and I had plans to get to the gym every day.
I managed that. And I lost about 4 kilos. Huzzah for me. But the disc issue never really went away, and I had a couple of months off the mat and out of the gym with illness and more injury at the start of the year.
The weight came crashing back.
It's currently sitting at just over 94 kg. And that is down 2 kg from my peak.
I feel like I'm getting it back under control, however. It's the same old secret formula, exercise more/eat less; especially baked goods and red wine.
The big difference however is my back. I've been using sort of torture rack that I bought online to stretch it out at least four or five times every day, and that's made a big difference. I also got some massage done directly over the affected discs a short while ago and that was amazing. It gave me about two weeks without any pain at all. So I'll definitely be doing that again.
Unfortunately I got the massage on the beach up at Noosa and I can't be driving back and forth to use those guys again.

But there is a spinal massage specialist in my local neighbourhood, so I'm gonna give them a try.
One of the odd problems I've had is that the back stretcher is so effective that after a couple of days of using it I feel fine... and I forget to use it.
You can see where that's going.
So now, I've made the back-stretching sessions part of my work day. When I finish a pomordoro sesh (I'm routinely working 50 minute intervals now), I do a three minute spinal reset.
It seems to work.
I'd happily recommended this thing below for anyone with the same problem as me—fusing of the lower discs. But I don't think it's much good for problems further up the column. It's called a True Back.

11 Responses to ‘Burger not so lite’

Rob mutters...

Posted Monday
10 kilos down... 15 to go. I'm down to 107 kgs now. 2 day fasts per week. well its about 2500 kilojoules 2 out of 7 days. The rest of the week is just normal eating but you tend not to over do it as you're just not as hungry as you were carbing it up 7 days a week,

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted Monday
I suffer from gout and one of the side effects of the meds appeared to assist weight loss so I got down to 106 from 119 but now I'm back close to 115, and suffering again. I am so slack with lunch and I'm overindulging which doesn't help. I'm hoping enforced working from home for most of the week associated with an office move and refit at the end of this year will encourage me to eat better, and less, and provide time for exercise because I won't be commuting for 4 hours each day. My goal is to get into 2 figures.
On the back thing, my father suffered for years until getting some sort of electric massage pad that sits on a chair, and using it every day, and it made things a lot better.
I have a couple of bulging disks and the exercises are mainly related to improving core strength. Some of the stretches are in the opposite direction to your device as well.

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Leftarc mumbles...

Posted Tuesday
What's the point of a gold plated hovercraft if you can't park it on the beach whilst getting your massage?

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
You make a strong case.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
Must be that time of year when thoughts turn to wearing less. I'd just done a mammoth 45 days without alcohol passing my lips then broke the seal by attending oktoberfest in Redfern on the weekend. Hoo boy what a way to break a drought. Was complaining to my mates there that clothes are starting to get tight. The days off the alcohol didn't drop weight because i found myself eating more . . and exercise had stopped over that time because my usual allotment was taken up each morning stirring a broken septic tank to stop it backing up (so the girls and the wife could have showers and use a toilet). I guess it helped with upper body strength : ) Tank getting fixed tomorrow and dogs are thanking me for the extra attention again. It feels good to get back into it though.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted Tuesday
But I hate it.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday

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Brother PorkChop swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
Hows it work? I'm interested as I have a protruding disk in lower back from more than 20 years ago. Neuro at the time took an xray and said to come back in next Friday and he'd "snip it off." Frightened the shit out of me with that blase approach to my spine. Second opinion said to manage it cos after the 1st snip, the second step is fusing 2 together and then its a shitty slope to continuous pain and discomfort. I've managed it with occasional stupidity causing temporary immobilisation and considerable pain but over all its good.
Weight wise I am at 86KG, down from 92 but I cannot budge it any further. I like food too much, and red wine.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted Wednesday
I can't vouch fr how it will work for you, but it gives me a lot of relief WHEN i remember to use it regularly. Which reminds me...

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Bangar asserts...

Posted Thursday
I've got an inversion table, but the thing to be aware of is they can induce a heart attack from the weight of the lower organs pushing on the heart.

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Neuroplasticity and musical taste

Posted September 14 into Music by John Birmingham

Neuroplasticity is a ten buck word for a simple idea; the brain is designed to keep learning things.

That seems pretty fucking unremarkable. A brain that won't learn new stuff is pretty useless. But it does fly in the face of our very human habit of refusing to learn anything that conflicts with whatever ignorant codswallop we stuffed into the old wrinkly grey head-pudding first.

I'm not specifically thinking about politics here, but rather music.

There's a wealth of anecdata about people giving up on new music from their late twenties. One study of Spotify users nailed the exact age as 33. That research, written up in NME, found that, while teens’ music taste is heavily dominated by popular music, this influence drops steadily through their 20s, before their tastes ‘mature’ (read: turn to stone) in their early 30s. "For the average listener, by their mid-30s, their tastes have matured, and they are who they’re going to be.”

The study also shows that there’s a slight gender gap at play (“Women show a slow and steady decline in pop music listening from 13-49, while men drop precipitously starting from their teens until their early 30s, at which point they encounter the ‘lock-in’ effect”), also stating that becoming a parent “has an equivalent impact on your ‘music relevancy’ as aging about 4 years”.

I'm not gonna put myself out there as a counterpoint. They totally got my number. With tens of millions of songs on the Fruit Company's streaming service, I find myself defaulting again and again to stuff I've listened to before.

I do make an effort. Most weekends I'll flick through the new music playlist and save the tracks that really grab my attention, moing them to a separate playlist that I usually listen to as I drive around in the car.

It's a long list and it's got some great tracks on it now.

But I couldn't tell you the name of the songs or their artists who performed them if my fucking life depended on it.

Even more telling, if I really like a single I'll add the album to my library and give it solid flogging, just like I used to when I could only afford a couple of albums a year.

While I'm actively listening to this discovery, I'm all over it, thinking "Yeah! Look at this guy, listening to new music."

And two weeks later I've usually forgotten to play the new thing and it recedes into the fog of lost memories, only ever to be recalled by accident, usually on shuffle play.

I'm not sure what any of this means but now I think I'm gonna go play some Bachman Turner Overdrive.

5 Responses to ‘Neuroplasticity and musical taste’

Rob mutters...

Posted September 15
I'm not so locked in to the same songs and artists, but definitely the genres of music stays the same. If its heavy and fast then I'm there. If I go see a live band and I engage with them its because they play the genre I like. Like I saw a great band from Wisconsin called Conveyer, The singer, a short super polite American boy, came across like the non Henry Rollins singers from Black Flag. The music was brilliant but it was basically just very well played Hardcore punk, so I was bound to like it. I think you have to work a bit hard at finding new music, I prefer live music, which is great until you go to a Metal camping festival only to be congratulated by young people for being older and going to see Deez Nuts. We were like, 'shut up you little fat punk , we paved the way for you grow a hobo beard and sit in your tent drinking beer all day and not see the bands'

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ShaneAlpha reckons...

Posted September 15
Yeah, they've got my number. The amount of 80's songs shitting up my iPod is ridiculous and I was the Triple M demographic until the sheer bloody repetition drove me away.

A couple of years ago I was introduced to Babymetal which, thanks to the wonders of the Youtube algorithm, led me to Bandmaid and I have been a fan of both groups since then.

Luckily for me Bandmaid have a pretty active release cycle so they usually have a new single/mini-album/full album released before I wear out their last release.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted September 16
The challenge for me is how to get exposed to new music to try, though watching anime has exposed me to a few artists I wouldn't have known about who I will keep listening to now.

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jason reckons...

Posted Monday
Two points:
Music is about more than the music, it's about the time and the place you heard it and the people you were with. Very hard to recreate that feel when you just hear a song somewhere.

Kids. Mine introduce me to new music all the time. When we travel anywhere we play Spotify roulette where they play me a new song and I play them an old one (often one which is the precursor to the song they played me) and we keep swapping.

I would recommend the following: Pierce Brothers, better live but still good recorded, DMAs listen to In the Air.

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Brother PorkChop would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
Interesting read!! I don't quite fit the mould then, as I am still finding new music all the time. My son also appears to differ to the norm. His 16th birthday present last week was a turntable and 6 records - Queen, Eagles, Cat Stevens, Popular Classicals, Melanie and one other I've forgotten. He loves it and is now on the hunt for more - Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Def Leppard, Pink Floyd, Led Zep and so on. He doesn't have a single current pop/R&B/HipHop track on his playlist and its quite a big playlist. He loves classic rock and classical music and even better, the school has a rock symphony combining the 2 - he plays the bassoon.

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