The New Year at the Gym: Here We Go Again…

The new year is upon us, 2016 to be exact. As always, many folks have resolved that this is the year they will lose those unwanted pounds and get in top shape. How do I know? I’ve belonged to a gym for many years, and I see these folks every January. Today is January 1, and I saw them at the gym. Oh, they weren’t working out (after all, it’s a holiday). They were getting tours of the gym, meeting with trainers and signing contracts. Soon though, they will descend upon the gym like New Years Eve revelers.

I used to rail against the Resolvers, scoffing at their half-hearted efforts knowing that they would fall by the wayside within a few weeks. I’ve changed. I welcome them. Everyone should exercise. I am 53 and in quite good condition, especially compared to my peers. I feel good, both physically and mentally. Why should I begrudge that to others just because they get in my way for a few weeks?

Rather than resent the Resolvers, I want to help them. Understand that I am not an athletic trainer. I am not an athlete. I do, however, go the gym quite often–6 or 7 days week. If I’m on the road, I find hotels with gyms. If I can’t find one, I find a local gym that will let me workout for a small fee. I’ve been to gyms all over the country, from New York City to Hawaii. I know the rules, both written and unwritten. If you’re a Resolver, please read on. It will save us all some grief.

BE REASONABLE 

If you haven’t worked out in a while, act like it. “In a while” also means “ever.” Most people in the gym have been there before. They have workout routines that reflect their experience. You, on the other hand, need a routine that reflects your years of sloth. That may sound harsh, but it’s true.

You’ll see people who look like you want to look, with trim waists and rippling muscles. It is tempting to watch what they do and copy it. Stop. These people are working out like trim-waisted, rippling-muscled people. You need to work out like a flabby, doughy person. There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way. Your ideal may be doing 30 pound curls. You might need to do 5 pound curls. Do them.

You also must squash your ego. This is especially true for men. We want to throw around weights like they’re pie pans. We can’t, of course. Don’t worry about how much you bench press. Sure, it’s a tad deflating to realize you can only bench 50 pounds. Hey, 50 pounds is better than nothing. People aren’t watching you. The people who can really lift are concerned only with themselves. They don’t care what you lift. Note how often they look in the mirror. Trust me–they (we?) aren’t trying to catch a glimpse of you.

A good way to learn reasonableness is with a trainer. Trainers vary in skill. Some aren’t very good, but all of them know how to get a new person started on an exercise regimen. Maybe you have a friend who works out regularly. He or she can help you. Start slow. Workout warriors weren’t born that way. Neither were you.

LEARN BEFORE THE BURN

Gyms are full of equipment. A lot of it is strange looking and not easily understood. This doesn’t stop the novice from climbing aboard and fumbling about. Usually, there will be an illustration on the equipment demonstrating proper use. If that doesn’t work, ask a gym employee. Again, a trainer can help.

If you don’t use a trainer, educate yourself on how to exercise. Weightlifting, in particular, requires certain routines for maximum results. You might work different muscles on different days. Rest is important. Strength training is different than toning or even muscle building. You have to know the differences.

Several years ago, I made the acquaintance of a former NFL player who also spent some time in prison. He described what he called a “jailhouse workout.” By that, he meant lifting with no program–a few curls, a few reps on the bench, a few random leg exercises. He said prisoners don’t have enough equipment or time to do it right. Hey, if you’re jail, do what you can. Otherwise, get a plan.

If you’re grossly overweight, you really must learn first. I know–it’s not good to say that people are overweight or “fat.” Come on, we know that’s the case. Losing weight is a process, not an event. You have to attack it a pound at a time. Becoming a crunch beast won’t help much if your six pack is buried under a foot of fat. Talk to a doctor. Get a trainer. Just get to work.

ETIQUETTE

Your new gym will have an array of rules about attire, use of equipment and sundry courtesies. These are all good, but most gym etiquette is just common sense. Here are the big rules:

Clean Up: If you use free weights, re-rack them. It’s simple. Put them back where you got them. They’ll be on racks in ascending order from lowest to highest weight. An idiot can do it, but you’ll be surprised at how many idiots don’t. If you can help it, don’t be an idiot.

Seriously, Clean Up: No one wants to use equipment drenched in your sweat. There’s just no debate here. Wipe down the equipment.

Look But Within Reason: I direct this to my fellow men. Most gyms today are co-ed. Every gym has attractive women wearing attire not normally seen in public. It’s pretty cool. You can look. To some extent, it’s expected perhaps even welcome. Don’t go full-on perv. If you follow a woman around so that you can maintain a good view, it will be noticed. Much as it might surprise you, they aren’t looking back at you.

Silence Is Golden: I’ve been going to the same gym for years. I’ve gotten to know some of the regulars. We’ll occasionally talk, but it’s always brief. Regulars are there to work out, not chat. You should do the same. Most gym regulars are glad to share pointers or answer questions, but we aren’t there to socialize.

Cover It Up: By “it,” I mean everything. No one is comfortable around naked people, even in a gym locker room. There’s no need to be naked for any extended period. Don’t strike up a conversation while you’re naked. Don’t get naked and then start rooting around in your locker. There should be absolutely no bending over. Don’t get naked and stand and watch TV. It’s just weird, and people hate it. Those who parade about naked are also men who shouldn’t do so anywhere. They are usually old guys with a variety of obvious physical flaws which are wholly unappealing.

Of course, I speak only of the men’s locker. Like all men, I imagine the women’s locker room populated by super models who wear skimpy towels when they aren’t showering together. An objective look at most women in the gym reveals that they may have the same unsightly issues as the men.

Dress The Part: Even being clothed can be done wrong. Jeans, khakis, work boots and other fashion failures must be avoided. Look the part. A t-shirt and shorts will work. Sweat pants are perfect. A middle-aged man in a wrestling singlet is not welome anywhere. Bicycle shorts, short-shorts and skin-tight apparrel must all be evaluated with an eye toward aesthetics. What is athletic–even alluring–on one person is vile and revolting on another. In these politically correct times, I realize that it is frowned upon to say that any one person is more attractive than another. Some people look better than others. Get a full-length mirror and judge for yourself.

STICK WITH IT

I believe that no one stays with exercise if he or she doesn’t like it. Experiment with different routines. Maybe you prefer cardio work to weights. That’s okay. Better to do cardio alone, than nothing at all.

Nothing ends an exercise program as quickly as an injury. Injuries are different than some pain. If you haven’t worked out in years, you’re going to have some aches and pains. When you get to my age-53 at this writing–you’re going to have some aches. If you over do it–lifting too much weight, for example–you will get injured. An injury will shut you down. That’s the quickest path to quitting. Even if you get injured, there’ll be other exercises you can do. Do those.

So, there you have it. I welcome you to my world. Now, get out of the way, and let me work out. Good luck.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

Government Shutdown FAQ Page

As a public service, I shall now address the most frequently asked questions about the Government shutdown.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT?

In this case, it’s the federal government, as opposed to your state, city or county government.  I live in an area with a merged city-county government.  It is sort of like Christian Rock combining the worst of elements of two conflicting disciplines.  The federal government is described in the United States Constitution.

The federal government has three branches:  1) Executive (the President and all his minions); 2) Legislative (Congress); and 3) Judicial (Courts).  The Shutdown involves primarily the Legislative Branch.

WHAT IS CONGRESS?

Our Congress has two parts.  The Senate consists of like 50 or 100 senators or possibly more.  The House of Representatives contains God knows how many people, maybe 1,000.  They make the laws, sort of.  Mostly, they just disagree about what the laws should be.  This is because the Republicans control the House and the Democrats control the Senate.  John Boehner, a leathery-faced chain smoker from Ohio, is the Speaker of the House.  Harry Reid, a feckless milquetoast from Nevada, leads the Senate.  They do not get along with each other.  Although Reid used to be a boxer, my money is on Boehner in an actual fight.

Congress has an approval rating of less than 10%, putting it just ahead of syphilitic dementia and just behind root canals in popularity.

WHAT IS A SHUTDOWN?

It’s where the government doesn’t have enough money to operate and shuts down a bunch of stuff.  They won’t shutdown everything.  We’ll still have air traffic controllers, prison guards and, of course, Congress.

WHY DO THEY CALL IT A SHUTDOWN?

Not everyone calls it that.  Fox News calls it a “slim down,” which sounds like a really positive thing. It might be a real positive, unless you’re one of the million or so people not getting paid during it.

Others call it a slow down, as though the government could actually move any slower than it already does.

HOW DID IT GET SHUTDOWN?

The House controls spending and won’t agree to fund anything unless part of Obamacare is delayed for a year AND members of Congress are required to participate in it.  The President and, hence, the Senate refuse to agree to this, saying that the law is law.  So, both sides would rather have much of the government grind to all a halt than compromise.

WHO SHUT IT DOWN?

That’s hard to say.  There are three schools of thought:

The Right:  Folks on the right (the “Conservatives”) say that the President did it.  Why?  First, they hate the President, so he has to be blamed.  Second, the President is a Democrat, and the Conservatives are not Democrats.  They blame the President for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare.  They don’t like Obamacare and don’t want it implemented, even though it is now the law.  So, the House won’t agree to fund any of the government unless there are changes made.

The Left:  Those on the left (the “Liberals”) blame the Conservatives, more particularly the Republicans.  They don’t want to negotiate with the Republicans.  So they don’t.  They hate the Republicans.  As a result, they don’t really want to talk to them at all.  Their hate of the Republicans is probably the reason they made Obamacare a law to begin with.

Everyone Else:  The remaining Americans (the “Victims”) don’t know who the f**k to blame and don’t give a rat’s ass.

WHAT IS OBAMACARE?

I’ve written extensively about that before.  No one really knows, but it exists.

WHO IS MY CONGRESSMAN?

I have no idea.  Just pick one.  They’re all about the same.

WHY WOULD ANYONE VOTE FOR THESE PEOPLE IN CONGRESS?

You got me on that one.  No clue.

SO, IS THERE NO GOVERNMENT NOW?

It’s not really shut down completely.  Let’s say you worked in factory, and it got shut down.  There would still be security guards and some maintenance people working.  It’s kind of like that, but completely different.

Mostly, they’ve just furloughed a lot of employees.  That means they’ve told them not to come to work. Of course, they also don’t get paid. For example, of the 1500 employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only three are working.  Those three are complying statistics on how many people in the Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t working.

If you are a “non-essential” employee, you’re not working.  “Non-essential” means they don’t really need you, which begs the question of why they’re paying you to begin with.

I’M A NON-ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE.  WHY DO I HAVE TO WORK?

That’s likely because you don’t work for the government.  Private sector non-essential employees should still report to work and pretend to be busy like usual.

HOW MANY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ARE THERE?

Something like 3,000,000, and that doesn’t include the military, CIA, NSA and a bunch of others.  That’s more than Walmart, IBM and McDonalds combined.  The Department of Homeland Security has 230,000 employees itself.  That’s hell of a lot but only one for every 1300 people in the country.  They can’t really protect all of us, can they?

IS CONGRESS GETTING PAID?

What kind of idiot are you?  Of course, they’re getting paid.  The Congressional barber shop, gym and shoe shine service are closed, though.  So, they are suffering but not as much as Congressional Barbers, Shoe Shiners and Gym Attendants.  Besides, if Congress doesn’t get paid, the Washington D.C. prostitution industry will collapse.

I’M IN A TENT AT A NATIONAL PARK.  WHAT’S THE DEAL?

You have 48 hours to get the Hell out.  If you don’t, the NSA will turn bears loose on your campground.

DOES THIS AFFECT THE NFL?

Luckily, no.

CAN I GET FREE HEALTH INSURANCE?

Probably not, unless you’re really poor or a member of Congress.

ARE THE PEOPLE WHO LISTEN TO MY PHONE CALLS FURLOUGHED?

No, we’re not.

DOES ANY OF THIS AFFECT MY OBAMACARE BRAIN IMPLANT?

Yes.  For the time being, the microchip implant has been deactivated.  You’ll know when it restarts, because you’ll piss your pants a couple of times.

ARE THE DEATH PANELS STILL WORKING?

Yes, they are.  Much like jury duty, you may be called to serve at any time.

SO, I GUESS THERE ARE NO COPS? (ASKING FOR A FRIEND)

You’re wrong about that.  Most cops are state employees anyway.  Plus, I know an FBI agent, and he’s still working, although it’s questionable about whether he’s being paid.  Imagine how surly he’d be if he had to bust your ass for free.

DO I STILL GET MY MAIL?

Yes.  The Postal Service isn’t affected, because it generates income from postage.  Somehow a business that loses billions of dollars can still deliver a letter for you 3000 miles away for 46 cents.  Go figure.

I’M DRUNK AND DON’T UNDERSTAND ANY OF THIS

First, that’s not a question. Second, your drunkenness does not explain your lack of understanding.  Many teetotalers, including the few sober members of Congress, don’t understand any better than you.

WHY ARE THEY TAKING OUR GUNS?

That’s a Frequently Asked Question About The United Nations.  I can’t answer it.

WHY CAN’T A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN STOP THIS?

Mr. LaPierre, I told you to quit posting questions.

WHAT’S THE PRESIDENT DOING?

How should I know?  Golf?  Vacationing?  Fighting evil?  Doing evil?  Just the usual stuff that Presidents do, I guess.

DO YOU THINK YOU’RE THE BOSS OF ME?

Yes.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  THE FOREGOING REPRESENTS THE OPINIONS, SPECULATION AND ASSUMPTIONS OF THE AUTHOR.  ALTHOUGH I AM A LICENSED ATTORNEY, NONE OF THE ABOVE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED OR RELIED UPON AS LEGAL ADVICE.  IN FACT, MUCH OF IT IS INACCURATE AND/OR FALSE.  IF IT WERE ACTUAL LEGAL ADVICE, I WOULD SEND YOU AN EXORBITANT, YET REASONABLE, BILL FOR MY SERVICES.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress 2013

Are You Mad? The Five Signs of Lunacy

If you’re anything like me, you occasionally wonder if you are going insane or, perhaps, are already there.  “Insane” isn’t really the right word.  That’s actually more of a legal term, requiring some sort of adjudication of your condition. Few of us will ever reach the point that such measures are necessary.   Madness and lunacy are much better terms.  Regardless of whether you call it madness, lunacy, bonkers or just plain crazy, we all think about it from time to time.  (We don’t?  Hmmm.  Maybe it’s just me.  That’s not good at all.)

In any event, I have identified certain markers of madness that may benefit others.  These tell-tale signs should be used as warnings  that we are close to veering off the path of the well-balanced into the median of lunacy.

I have had experience with all of these at various points in my life.  In fact, I’ve had days where I’ve experienced them all.  Those were not particularly good days, by the way.

I must qualify all of this by disclosing that I am NOT a mental health professional.  Indeed, I have no medical or psychological training whatsoever.  I am particularly unqualified to diagnose any condition or to offer any advice regarding appropriate treatment.  So, should you actually be a lunatic, do not contact me for advice.  In fact, don’t contact me at all.  You could be dangerous, you know.

1. YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT

Have you ever thought that you are a very important person, a VIP as it were?  Now, I’m not talking about being important to your family or friends. Don’t confuse this with being important to your dog, either.  Your dog thinks you are the lead dog.  If you think you are a dog, that’s another set of issues altogether.

I’m talking about general importance.  Your opinions are important, for example.  If people disagree with you, it is an outrage.  They are fools, because you are always correct.  Those who disagree with you are Communists, racists, homophobes, anarchists, ne’er do wells, welfare queens, robber barons or many other such disagreeable sorts, depending upon your particular view of the world.  These people lack your intelligence and insight.  They don’t know as much as you know.  Not only are these people wrong, they–and the rest of us–MUST know your opinion on everything for you are important and must be heard.

Chances are that you are like most us and only want to listen to people with whom you agree.  It’s likely–almost certain, in fact–that the only people who want to listen to you are those who share the same views as you.  Everyone else doesn’t want to listen to it.  Sorry, but that’s how it goes.  If you can’t accept that, madness lurks just around the corner.

Have you ever had the urge to say “Don’t you know who I am?”  I know I have.  Sadly, I’ve even said if before–and not just to myself, either.  Perhaps, if I were–say–George Clooney that would make some sense.  But, if I were George Clooney people would actually know who I am, and I wouldn’t have to say it.  Even thinking that is bad.  Thinking it may be even worse, because you might believe people do know who you are when they really don’t.  Then, you just walk around thinking that you shouldn’t have to stand in lines or wait in traffic or pay your bills or wear pants.  Maybe, we all should say it out loud every now and then just to be reminded that they don’t know who we are and don’t care.

2. YOUR JOB IS REALLY IMPORTANT

This could be a subset of the first sign above.  Your job may actually be important.  If you’re a firefighter, cop, oncologist or teacher you certainly have an important occupation.  People depend on you.  That is a good thing.  Don’t confuse that with your job making you important.

I am a lawyer.  I think that’s an important job.  My clients depend on me to get them the results they want.  Each case I handle is extremely important to those folks.  Many people don’t think much of lawyers.  We rank slightly above crack dealers and slightly below pimps in the public’s view.  Used car dealers and insurance salesman are viewed largely the same.  Yet, we all think we’re important.  The painful truth is that a lot of people can do our jobs just as well–and even better–than we do.

Mathematician/Philosopher and all-round know-it-all Bertrand Russell once said that one of the signs of an impending nervous breakdown is the belief that your job is extremely important.  He was a lot smarter than I am, but I’m not sure that’s correct.  What I am sure of is that the belief that ME doing that job is extremely important is a bad sign.

I’m not irreplaceable.  Neither are you.  If you think you are, try this:  Go in to your place of business and quit.  I did that once.  Guess what?  They were fine without me.  Someone else started doing the stuff I had been doing, and everything continued on as usual.

I’ve worked with people who died unexpectedly.  People were really upset, some because they were human beings and others because death disrupts the workplace, what with the grieving and funerals and what have you.  Soon, though, we were trying to figure out who would get the deceased’s furniture or office.  Some of us were concerned that we might have to do more work.

So, the reality is that if you die at work, someone gets your credenza.  That’s it.

3. YOU HEAR STUFF

We all know that hearing things can be a bad sign.  Auditory hallucinations cause much trouble in the world.  Rarely do we read of “voices” saying things like “Have a good day” or “Be nice to someone.”  Usually, it’s stuff like “Eat that dog” or “Wear her skin as a vest.”  These voices–at least I’ve been told–seem real, so we do as they command.  If you’ve got that going on, for God’s sake, do something about it.

There is other stuff you can hear.  God, for example.  I’m not talking about something like a friend saying “God spoke to my heart.”  That’s a kind of metaphorical observation that means “I got this feeling.”  We’ve all had that.  I mean God actually talking and you possibly talking back.  Think of it like this:  God went silent late in the Old Testament.  Why would He start talking to you?  If it’s because you are really important, re-read my comments above.

Maybe the radio talks to you.  If you’re driving down the road screaming at Sean Hannity, that’s a problem.  He can’t hear you.  Perhaps you think 1970’s singer Dan Hill is crooning to you when you hear Sometimes When We Touch on the Oldies station.  He isn’t.  I used to think Olivia Newton-John was singing to me.  I don’t think that anymore, unless I’m watching Grease.

You may have pets.  You may love your pets more than any human.  Good for you, but they don’t talk.  Even if you talk to them in exaggerated baby talk that would embarrass any self-respecting infant, your dog or cat isn’t talking back.  If they do, just Google “Son of Sam” and stay far away from me.

Oh, don’t confuse this with seeing things.  There many benign explanations for this phenomenon–strong drink, drugs, poor lighting, etc.  Don’t worry about this unless the things you see start talking to you.

4. YOU DON’T TAKE YOUR MEDICATION

There’s nothing wrong with medication, assuming it’s prescribed and you need it.  Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, Zoloft and the like have done a world of good by altering troubling brain chemistry.  If you stop taking it, though, we have a problem.  This is especially true if you’re taking any sort of anti-psychotic medication.

When people start feeling better, they don’t want to take their medication anymore.  They are, in their dysfunctional minds, “cured.”  Here’s what you should do:  The day you stop taking your medication, note that this is the day you start down the road to full-blown lunacy.  You might even want to mark it on your calendar.

5. YOU BELIEVE IN CONSPIRACIES

We don’t need to belabor this point.  Suffice to say that if you believe in any vast conspiracy that has remained secret for many years, you are not firing on all cylinders.  Here is a just sampling of topics about which you may believe a conspiracy exists:

  • The moon landing
  • 9-11
  • Marilyn Monroe’s death
  • Elvis Presley’s death
  • Bob Denver’s death
  • The Kennedy Assassination
  • Barack Obama’s birthplace
  • The firing of the original Darren on Bewitched
  • Anything involving a “New World Order”
  • Area 51
  • Communists
  • Big Foot
  • Yeti
  • The Knicks winning the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery

This list could be 10 times longer, but we’ll stop for brevity’s sake.  There may be conspiracies peculiar to your own circumstances.  For instance, your child may do poorly in school.  You may believe that this is a result of teachers, administrators and fellow students conspiring against your child.  Consider that your child may not be very bright or could be down right lazy.  It happens.

Try this.  Go out and see if you can line up 10 people you know for or against anything.  It ain’t easy.  Imagine now that you were wanting to kill someone with their help.  Not likely.

Just repeat to yourself each day:  There are no conspiracies.  If you hear a voice repeating it back to you, well, you know.

CONCLUSION

These are the five markers of madness.  You’ll notice that I didn’t delve into actual mental illnesses such as bipolar disease, schizophrenia, depression and the like.  Again, I have no medical training.  These specific diagnoses are best left to the professionals or you can easily diagnose yourself by searching on the Internet for your particular symptoms.  Here is an educational video to help you better understand such diseases of the mind.

There is good news.  Any one of these peculiarities, standing alone, is likely no more than a sign that you are weird or–if you are wealthy–eccentric.  Two or more, sadly, point directly to crippling lunacy.  You may be fortunate and become pleasantly mad–like many town characters throughout our great land.

It’s time to stop–at least that’s what the voices are telling me.  You know how pushy they can be.

©thetrivaltroll.wordpress.com 2013