windows in red sky

The sky was just so bloody red, the sight was amazing. I rushed and got my camera and used natural light, but it just didn't capture the richness of the color, so I turned up the red just a dash on these. Things were moving fast in that sunset; there wasn't any time to play with settings.

Honeystinger features Mighty Fit Review

I raved about Honeystinger energy gel on The Mighty Fit Review, and the company featured my review and a plug for the blog in their January edition of The Buzz. Kewl, eh?

treading lightly

When there's sun, light falling on things must catch me up a hundred times a day. One can see masterpiece compositions with just a gaze round the yard, or a simple walk around the neighborhood. When morning sun is falling across branches of a tree, or early twilight light falls across the corner of the stove, harsh and gentle at the same time across my grandfather's teapot, I often wonder how other people don't get caught up, too. But I don't hold any weird pride in my perceptions, as some do on such matters... Because these breathtaking displays, these unsurpassingly gorgeous sights go with the territory of earth and sun. Just as we are all fortunate for carbon-based life, and all the riches of vegetation, and water and air, etc.-- just as equally, we are fortunate for the jarring beauty of lightplay as we walk the earth.

So often, I try to photograph such images just as they are, and it just doesn't work. Like these railroad track scenes. Today is an exhilarating day - altho it's January, the sky is blue and the sun on your skin warms you so it feels like spring. It's the kind of day when you walk around without your shades on because it feels so good to have sun on your face. You can't breathe enough of this wonderful air. And these tracks caught it all - spring in the midst of winter, traveling when the rest of the world is immobilized, walking on the edge of dreamtime, the magic of tracks that will lead you into another reality. Something tugging on you, opening the doorway to ... But the photos came out a little colder, a little starker... as usual, a nice image but a creation unto itself and not the one I was trying to get. So some I stylized, casting them moody to the extreme of fantasy or impressionist. Light was hitting the lens; I just let it to see what it would do. I can't decide which I like best, or whether I should give it another try.

(When I was a young teen, there was this drawing of a fence on the beach, casting a shadow, the lines bobbing over the sand. I thought that was the most aesthetically profound thing. I really wanted it, could have and should have stolen it. I did find a similar scene in a magazine and framed that for my wall. These days, my favorite photographer is Deborah DeWit Marchant. Our eyes must be the same make.)

I've always been drawn to the aesthetics of certain structures. There must be a name for it. I like natural scenes with splintery and weathered objects, lightplay of course, geometry of lines, and objects such as

holes in trees
cave openings

...these tracks, for instance. I wonder what that is. I think there's a word for it in earthy mythologies/religions... I seem to remember some term in magic (magick?) for doorways as places where the worlds meet. Perhaps the theme here is miniscus?

Maybe the brain is wired for this concept not only through infastructure, but through ages of collective consciousness on the end-of-life 'light at the end of the tunnel.' Come to think of it, I guess life starts alongs those lines, too...

Spain clutches reins on populizing female body ideal

Yeah Madrid Health Ministry! You go!

From Spain clothiers to modify fashion sizes

The program, designed by the Health Ministry, will also prevent those companies from using window displays featuring clothes smaller than a European size 38 (10 in Britain, 8 in the United States). They will have five years to phase in the change.

"It is not reasonable for a modern and advanced society to establish stereotypes of beauty that are far removed from the social reality of a community. It is everyone's commitment that beauty and health go hand in hand," Health Minister Elena Salgado said at a signing ceremony Tuesday.

The agreement follows last year's unprecedented decision by Spain's main fashion show, Madrid's Pasarela Cibeles, to ban some models from the catwalk on grounds they were too thin, saying this looked encouraged eating disorders among young people.

The Health Ministry's program aims to end a situation in which a woman who buys a size 40 dress from one designer may not fit in a size 40 garment from another designer. The ministry said the differences sometimes lead women to feel compelled to lose weight.

Designers should be encouraged to "promote a healthy physical image that conforms with the reality of the Spanish population," the ministry said in a statement.

The agreement also stipulates that European size 46 no longer be specifically labeled as a larger size.

As part of the effort to standardize sizes, the ministry plans to measure 8,500 Spanish girls and women between the ages of 12 and 70 to determine the true shapes of Spanish women's bodies.

latest developments in superhero evolution

Dan Kois speaks up eloquently in Slate today in Men without Tights: comics that reinvent the superhero genre. He dives into the subject of superhero evolution from the springboard of the NBC series Heroes. (I tried Heroes but couldn't get through one episode. I found it grim, slow-moving and emotionally gratuitious in the vein of many popular TV shows today, and it left my propensity for the superhero genre bored and weak with hunger. But I was forged in the '70s -- 'nough said.)

"Tim Kring, the creator of Heroes, admits to enjoying comic-book storytelling without having a deep background in the genre. He's proudly declared that his series diverges from comic books by presenting character-driven stories in which superpowers merely play a supporting role. But starting in the 1980s, many comic books embedded superpowers in recognizably real people and their superheroes in the real world. The progenitor of the trend is generally considered to be Alan Moore, whose Watchmen, written in 1986, was one of the first comics to seriously consider the dilemmas caped crusaders might face. In the 1990s and 2000s, comics creators have been even freer with the superhero tradition, doing away entirely with capes and tights, or mashing up the hero genre with comedy, coming-of-age, or romance. Heroes doesn't have a monopoly on humanizing the superhero story, or wrestling with the practical and ethical quandaries of superpowers; many contemporary comics are doing the same."

image from mainframe

happy weightlifters Margaret, Cari and Chloe Kirkland

Mom competes in powerlifting, her teenage daughters enjoy Olympic lifting in school. Dad lifts more casually, offers support. It's all in the family.

"Teenagers and their parents don't have a lot in common, but we grew up going to Mom's meets. It's something that bonds us together."

Mom is Bradenton dentist and powerlifter Dr. Margaret Kirkland, who added to her glittering resume earlier this month at the American Powerlifting Federation Southern States Championships in Lake City.

Competing in the 114-pound class, the 43-year-old Kirkland set five American weight-class records.

Full story at the Bradenton Herald

Is hi-def ruining porn?

Deliciously titled thigh definition, from Slate

High-definition video is embarrassing porn stars. Problems: razor burn, cellulite, wrinkles, pimples, visible veins, fake boobs. Remedies tried so far: diets, exercise, makeup, tanning spray, grooming assistance, cosmetic surgery, softening lights, changing sex positions, and airbrushing. Actresses' complaints: 1) The men in the industry are "willing to sacrifice our vanity and imperfections to beat each other" to HD. 2) "I'm having my breasts redone because of HD." Directors' attitude: HD is cool.

cottage cheese pancakes

Terrific protein here. To minimize fat, use 1% cottage cheese and the least amount of egg whites your palate will tolerate.

Instead of typical disgusting syrup product, try preserves, honey, or actual tree syrup.

1 cup cottage cheese
6 large eggs
6 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth.

Drop batter by spoonful (about 1/4 cup) onto medium-high greased griddle or skillet, flipping once, until golden brown.

best church sign ever

snow day!

Female Athlete Triad

There's a disorder for that...
This is from an article on the teens section of Good awareness raising, guys. I like that the preamble asserts the benefits of exercise instead of just launching into the doom-and-gloom. Of course, this problem isn't limited to youngsters. I knew a climber (30's) who hadn't had a period in a decade.

What is Female Athlete Triad?

Sports and exercise are part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Girls who play sports are healthier; get better grades; are less likely to experience depression; and use alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs less frequently than girls who aren't athletes. But for some girls, not balancing the needs of their bodies and their sports can have major consequences.

Some girls who play sports or exercise intensely are at risk for a problem called female athlete triad. Female athlete triad is a combination of three conditions: disordered eating, amenorrhea (pronounced: ay-meh-nuh-ree-uh, which means loss of a girl's period for 3 or more months), and osteoporosis (pronounced: oss-tee-oh-puh-row-sis, meaning a weakening of the bones). A female athlete can have one, two, or all three parts of the triad.

Game Face: What does a female athlete look like

This multimedia art project includes a photo book (Random House Trade Paperbacks; newest reprint edition 2003), exhibit (launched in 2002 at the Smithsonian, just left de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California ) and an online segment. Looks cool.

I can't tell from the Web site who's behind this project. There is a feature on the site inviting females to submit their stories for online publication.

From the book marketing copy on the site:

Game Face documents the tremendous impact that sports has on the daily lives of millions of girls and women. On playing fields and street corners, in backyards and gyms, the people in this arresting array of pictures are unselfconsciously exploring the physical and emotional pleasures of competition and play. Each image offers an affirming and satisfying answer to the question at the heart of Game Face: What do girls and women look like, freed from traditional feminine constraints, using their bodies in joyful and empowering ways?

Photo from GameFace Web site

remaking teens: shock treatment, NY Times, new book on trauma

Here are some updates related to the troubled-teen industry - a news update on a publicly funded program administering electric shocks to teens for things like swearing; and what champion expose journalist Maia Szalavitz is up to now.

Maia Szalavitz ("Help At Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids" Riverhead, 2006 ) wrote an op-ed which appeared Sunday in the New York Times City Section regarding "aversive" tough-love therapies for kids.

New York State has been sending children to a Massachusetts program that uses electric shocks delivered to the skin as "therapy;" it has also been paying for some teens with learning disabilities and emotional problems to attend the Elan School in Maine.

Elan is best known for its humiliating and confrontational tactics, including, until recently, forcing teens to fight fresh opponents with boxing gloves in a tactic known as "the ring" until they submit to the school's demands.

An article Maia wrote on the troubled teen industry appears in Reason here:

Also, this month Maia's new book, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us about Loss, Love and Healing, will be published by Basic. She sys, "It's co-written with leading child trauma expert Bruce Perry, MD, PhD, and looks at how trauma affects the developing brain and personality and what can be done to help affected children. Dr. Perry does amazing work-- and his case histories illustrate why kind, patient and loving attention is absolutely imperative in helping troubled children and how coercive therapies do damage. "

January windows

Something Familiar travels via bookcrossing

The world's largest free book club is so cool, another charming case of anecdotal evidence of the collective consciousness. You register books then "release them into the wild" to be caught by someone else, and so on, so the books travel organically and get read. Some friends of mine are releasing Something Familiar in various parts of the country. I'm stoked because today was the first official "catch," in Newmarket, New Hampshire. (Thanks Jill!)

Besides releasing books, you can also hunt for books released in your city. The site is meticulously organized and catch-and-release info is refreshed every 20 minutes.

bungee-powered backpack

press release from biologists at the University of Pennsylvania

In this week's edition of the journal Nature, Penn researchers have announced details for a suspended-load ergonomic backpack that reduces the force of a backpacks load on the wearer by 86%, allowing wearers to run far more comfortably with heavy loads.

... the backpack was created with soldiers and emergency workers in mind and could prevent the sort of muscle and joint injuries associated with running while carrying heavy items. The Penn researchers also point out that the backpack will also benefit schoolchildren, since heavy book bags have been linked to muscle and orthopedic injury.

"For the same energetic cost, you can either carry 48 pounds in a normal backpack or 60 pounds in a suspended-load ergonomic backpack," Larry Rome, a professor in Penn's Department of Biology, said. "It is like carrying an extra 12 pounds for 'free.'"

The backpack is based on a rigid frame pack, much like the type familiar to hikers everywhere; however, rather than being rigidly attached to the frame, the sack carrying the load is suspended from the frame by bungee cords...

"The ergonomic backpack reduces the force of the load on the wearer by reducing the effect of the load as it shifts up and down," Rome said. "What is striking is that you can feel the 86% reduction in force with every step."

With a normal backpack, the peak force exerted by the load on the body during walking is twice as high as the static force, and during running its three times as large, exerting extreme forces on the joints.

The backpack shifts the timing of how force is applied as the wearer takes a step.

Essentially, the bungee cords permit the load to stay at nearly constant height from the ground while the wearer walks or runs around it, Rome said. The pack actually reduces the metabolic cost of walking from one point to another by about 40 watts, or the equivalent of carrying 12 extra pounds.

busting fitness industry hype

The new year--resolution time--rings in the busiest cash register season for the fitness industry. Whether it's a device sold over television or a club selling memberships, the industry uses some of the same tried and true marketing hype year after year. So for this holiday, I want to bust some hype the fitness industry perpetuates.

Hype: We guarantee, use our machine and you will see results in 30 days or your money back.

Fact: Yes, you will see results, with any consistent, rigorous change-up in your routine, whether it's this machine or something else. Secondly, this claim is aimed at people who generally do little to nothing now, so a dramatic change will be most assured. Thirdly, read the fine print: this guarantee is always accompanied by the addendum that you must follow the diet program included with your purchase, and a consistent caloric deficit will indeed produce a marked change in your physique, regardless of your physical activity.

Hype: Ripped model claims, "I've been using X-Flex for three months now, and I look and feel great!"

Fact: Make no mistake, this model has been laboring for a long time to achieve the physique you see in this meticulously created image, and he or she likely had the physique before getting hired to do the ad. Think about it: modeling is another cut-throat talent industry, and this model has worked hard to get into the position of even auditioning for this ad. Of course the model has been using the machine, because she needs to look natural using it. But that's not all she or he has been doing to look like that.

Here are some facts.

Milestones: If you're just starting a program, one milestone is the first month. That's significant; most people don't make it that long. Three months is the biggie. If you stick with your program for three months straight, your lifestyle will be genuinely changed, and you should be able to keep it up regularly.

Accountability: People who live as they believe they should when no one's checking are the exception rather than the rule. So be honest with yourself going in and if you expect you'll falter, set up support. People who start programs are more likely to stick with them if they have some accountability, whether it's working out with a partner or reporting to a personal trainer. At the very least, mark your work outs on your calendar to keep a visible check system in front of you.