December 22, 2016: Exercise is Meditation; The Days Should Get Longer

December 22, 2016: Exercise is Meditation; The Days Should Get Longer

Androp Gerard is an animal when it comes to exercise.  His nickname is Spanish is “El Animal.”  That means “The Animal.”dec-22

Exercise summary for calendar year 2016 (almost done): a total of 270 days (73.97%) included some aerobic exercise.  A typical gym routine includes 15 minutes of weight lifting followed by 50 minutes of aerobics.  A typical bike ride takes 1 hour, 40 minutes to 2 hours, 25 minutes.  This seems similar to training for an Iron Man competition.  For the record, Androp Gerard will not be participating in any Iron Man competitions.  For one thing, he cannot swim.  More on that later.

Mental health is improved via aerobic exercise.  Reasons may vary among individuals, but for Androp Gerard the reason seems simple:  repetitive motion is like meditation.  “Mindfulness” is a different word for the same concept.

Androp Gerard asserts that aerobic exercise improves mental health.

Anything that causes the brain to pay attention to what it is doing now, rather than what it did earlier or what it will do later or what some other human did or will do serves as meditation.  Exercise makes a human breathe deeply, which also has a positive physical impact.  It seems like breathing deeply while reading, watching T.V., or playing a video game would have similar benefits.  Anyone who would rather sit cross-legged with their fingers making little “O’s” on their knees and hum is welcome to try that.  The position is uncomfortable for Androp Gerard.

The concept of mindfulness does not obviate the need to plan ahead or to contemplate social situations.  However, doing these things continuously will increase anxiety.  Mindfulness just gives the brain a rest that seems different from sleeping, somehow.

dec-22-goatFinally, a note on the days getting shorter: reduced day length has been keenly charted over the past several weeks.  Little dogs, for example, end up piddling in the dark rather than in the light during morning walks.

Per recommendations in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, Androp Gerard sacrificed an unblemished goat to god on December 21.  The back deck was a surrogate alter.  Holy water (Androp Gerard swore curses at the water in god’s name to sanctify it) was sprinkled on the spot of the sacrifice.  The days should get longer now.  God is appeased.  The goat was actually just verbally berated for 5 solid minutes.  She seemed thoroughly chastened.  That should work.  We will know by this evening.


December 1, 2016: Locker Room Talk

December 1, 2016: Locker Room Talk

Here is something that has bothered me: Trump’s talk about crotch grabbing and trying to have sex with a married woman was dismissed as “locker room talk” during the campaign.  The notion was that “all men talk like that.”

That notion is total bullshit. Rational humans know it.

Androp goes to the gym four to six days a week when he is ‘on routine’ and around town.  This has occurred for more than 15 years.  Here are examples of ‘gym talk’ and ‘locker room talk:’

Locker room talk and gym talk is small talk.  Often slightly morbid, if you are an old guy, like Androp Gerard

Me, “Good job.  You got here.”

Him, “Ya. One. More. Day.”

Many variations occur on this theme.

Or, him, pointing at me, “That is a stud right there.”

Me, “Oh ya. True fact.”

Him, talking to the person next to me, “He looks good for a 90 year old man does he not?”

Many variations occur on this theme, too.

Or, me, to a person sitting on a weight machine, “You cannot go to sleep.”

Him, “What? … –pause–… Hey, where is the server?”

Me, “What?”

Him, “I have been sitting here 20 minutes, and nobody has even asked me if I want coffee.  How do you get service around here?”

Or, him, “Add some more weight to that.”

Me, “I do not want to break the machine.”

Him, “Oh right.  Those machines are not made for men like you.”

Being too strong for the machines is a recurring theme.

Or me, “Hey, watch me get on this step machine. I want to be the oldest guy ever to use this and not die of a heart attack.”

Him, “What? Oh no way, I already have the record.”

Or him, “Well, they are going to have to operate on my — insert troublesome body part —”

Me, “Ya?  Not good.”

Him, “Yessir. I am up for a full body transplant.”

Me, “Maybe brain.  Brain transplant.”

Him, “Right.”

Injuries are a recurring theme.  Hips, knees, shoulders, and backs are discussed in approximately equal proportions.

Him, “Hey.  We have not seen you for a couple of days.”

Me, “Ya. I went to Australia for a month.”

Him, “Oh. Good deal.  Hope you had fun.  We thought you were dead.”

Whenever anyone is gone from the routine, the regulars suggest they thought the missing person might be dead.

So here is the point: nobody at the gym or in the locker room talks about grabbing crotches or having sex with married women.  That never happens.

Trump is not excused for being a vulgar misogynist because he is ‘just like all other guys.’  He is not.

Nov 22, 2016: Sports is Religion

November 22, 2016: Sports is Religion

People have written at length about the origin of religion.  Edward R. Murrow said, “Anyone who isn’t confused doesn’t really understand the situation.”  Lucky for me, I really do not understand the situation regarding religion, or I would be way more confused.

Religion must be an expression of human brain function shaped by evolution.  Some say it is not adaptive, but rather a “tag along” outgrowth of actually adaptive brain function.  This seems irrelevant: if our brains are the result of evolution, and religious expression is a result of our brains, then what does it matter if religion is a “tag along?”

In other words, if religion arises from a complex interplay of different human brain functions, and our brains are the result of evolution, then religion is likely adaptive overall.  Of course, it might not be very strongly adaptive: lots of people are not very explicitly religious if given the chance.  The reason everyone is Saudi Arabia professes to be religious is because otherwise they cut your head off.  Incidentally, that is a great way to ensure a religion spreads: cut people’s heads off who disagree.

Many brain functions might help explain religion, and I have not given this much thought.  I would cite: (1) our ability to recognize and explain patterns, (2) our ability to imagine the future, and (3) our ability and desire to be social, and to form tribes.  Religion may reduce otherwise debilitating anxiety as regards items #1 and #2.  So basically it is an expression of coping mechanisms.  I may write more about this later.

Regarding item #3, religion is like being a sports fan.  Everyone shows up and participates in rituals and professes to believe the same things and wears similar clothes (in the case of sports, the same colors).  For sports fans, the added benefits are (1) it only happens on game day, not every blasted Sunday, or every blasted Wednesday and Sunday, or every day at noon, or whatever, and (2) people do not actually have to openly profess to believe in really crazy magical shit to be a sports fan.

slide1Many people do believe that god controls the outcome of games, of course, since they believe that god controls everything.  They also pray to god they do not get hurt.  One can only assume they are praying to god that nobody gets hurt, but in football, they nonetheless attempt to hurt each other.

Now, some people reading this are saying,

“Ha!  I am neither religious nor a sports fan!”

Do not get smug and think you are asocial or antisocial.  If you were, you would likely be already dead or in prison.  I once had a conversation about the Goth people in High School.

Him, “Those Goth people are antisocial.  They don’t want to take part in society with the rest of us.”

Me, “But they are Goth people.  That makes them part of a social group, right?”

Him, scowling, “No, they’re antisocial.”

We are not antisocial

 Here is one more thought: because of the rule of law, we may have more asocial and antisocial people among us than we did in hunter-gatherer times.  For instance, there is a guy at the gym who I think: “Goddamn.  Someone is going to kill that intentionally annoying barstard.  Possibly me.”  He would have had his head bashed in before puberty or shortly after had he lived in hunter-gatherer times.  Thus, his contribution of genes to future generations would have been zero.  People are unwilling to kill him in modern society because it is illegal, and they would be thrown in jail.  I would never argue for lawlessness though.

In random mundane stuff: I have a salad for lunch with olive oil, spinach, and balsamic vinegar.  In Australia, they eat salads with nothing on them but oil, made from nothing but what they call ‘rocket,’ which is arugula.  Only a starving person would eat that.  But we did see lots of neat wildlife in Australia, like 13 Wedge-tailed Eagles in one day.  And we stayed one night where Mel Gibson stayed when they filmed the original Mad Max.  The couple we were with stayed in the very room where he slept.  Gibson is the scariest kind of Christian.


We saw 13 Wedge-tailed Eagles one day in Australia, west of Melbourne.  The ‘rocket’ (arugula) salads there cannot be recommended. 


In politics, a group of Trump alt-right supporters had a rally and actually gave the Nazi salute and said “Heil Victory!”  Trump’s primary policy adviser was a featured speaker.  This actually happened.  And Trump had a meeting with the heads of all of the network news services to try to intimidate them into falling in line.  Litigation, arrests, and murders may follow.  So nothing unexpected happened.

Next journal entry, sometime after the Thanksgiving break: Reality: Hard to Identify.