Monday, October 26, 2009

Clubber Lang's Best Line: "Pain"

This and That

I’ve got various things on my mind, but none of them suggest that they’d be meaty enough to make a full blog post from. So this morning’s post is shaping up to be more eclectic than usual.

First up, I think I’ve tracked down the source of the very unusual spike in blog traffic around October 15th. Thanks to the smart fellas over at Popehat, I discovered the web-traffic analyzer Woopra. Woopra’s not perfect (or I haven’t completely figured out how to work it, which is certainly possible as I’ve chosen not to actually read the directions), but it is free and very easy to install on any website where you have access to the HTML sourcecode. I had been using some basic Google analytics to get a count of daily traffic, but Woomba let me actually look at my web traffic BY USER, seeing in particular where they were coming from. My discovery? The vast majority were coming from CNN. In particular, they were coming from a couple of the articles I had referenced in my blog article Evolution in Action. I visited those CNN Science articles a second time and noted that at the bottom they have a “From the Blogs” section where, as of last week, old Virtual Vellum was prominently featured, with a direct link to that blog article. Apparently there’s a time-limit, as the links are now gone, but they were enough to drive almost a thousand people here over the span of about a week. Oddly, I’ve referenced CNN articles plenty of times before and never had this happen, but it appears that not every CNN article has a “From the Blogs” section at the bottom. I’m not sure how they choose which do and which don’t, but it’s certainly interesting and a bit random. It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch to watch what were, for me, outrageously high numbers of visitors and not be able to explain why they were here. Now I know, so there we are.

Which brings me to my second thought: ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! Saturday was particularly rough for me. About two weeks ago my kids started taking Karate through school. The dojo, Steve LaVallee’s, occasionally has what they call “Buddy Week.” Each kid in the school who brings a “buddy” to class with them gets a gold star to wear on their collar (and the buddy gets a pass for some free intro lessons and a uniform). Both of my older kids found a friend to come with them, so they each got stars on Thursday. My younger son didn’t have any friends who were interested and was at risk of not getting a star to match his siblings. Well I certainly couldn’t have that, so on Saturday morning I joined my kids on the mat for a half-hour workout. We stretched a bit before class started, and I re-discovered that I’m about as flexible at a one-foot piece of rebar. Oh, yeah, that’s right – I’m phenomenally out of shape.

Class started with about fifteen minutes of calisthenics – from jumping jacks to squat-leap-pushup-leap things that quite nearly killed me. It was brutal – I don’t know how these little kids do it. I think they may secretly be Marines. By the time one of the other Senseis took pity on me and dragged me off to the back of the workout area to do some self-defense moves, I was panting, sweating profusely, dizzy, queasy, and my heart was racing. I ended up sitting down for about five minutes while the Sensei and my wife hovered nervously around me, probably wondering if they should call 911. I was wondering where I ought to vomit if the need arose. Turns out I was fine and actually got a pretty good, if more sedate, workout.

I was fairly wiped out after that session and spent much of the rest of the day sitting around and occasionally napping, but my youngster got his gold star and actually thanked me for it sincerely. Which is very unusual for him – he’s just not very demonstrative. That made the whole morning worthwhile for me. But the best (or worst) was yet to come. Saturday night was the dojo’s Halloween party!

Last year, my wife came home from shopping with the kids and had an extra-special surprise for me. For some reason I still can’t explain, they felt it appropriate to buy me a gorilla costume. Yeah, you’d better go ahead and read that again. Gorilla costume. A big hairy body-suit with a rubber chest, plus a set of gloves with rubber fingers and a full-head mask that’s rubber on the front and fabric/hair on the top, sides and back. Fur and rubber and more fur – that’s my gorilla costume.

But I’m a champ (chump?) so I wear the thing. I wore it last year to my daughter’s Halloween party and to the Halloween parade at their school. And I wore it Saturday to the party at the dojo. Now, when I put on my monkey suit, I really go ape. I get into character, as it were – I hunch down, squatting a bit, and I lumber along the way an actual gorilla does, except that my arms aren’t technically long enough to use my fists when I walk. I make gorilla-like sounds, I occasionally beat my chest when I’m excited, and I do a mean Y-M-C-A. And for over two hours Saturday night, I danced, pranced, and capered about to the amusement (or derision, it’s hard to tell) of all. And since the suit is all rubber and fur, I came away drenched in sweat – the shorts and t-shirt I’d worn under the suit were literally soaked through. But wait, there's more!

I woke up this morning, rolled out of bed, and waves of pain rolled up from my legs like thunderstorms. I had spent all that time squatted and hunched over, and I paid for it on Sunday. Whoa boy did I. Every time I tried to sit, or stand, or walk, or bend over, or pretty much anything other than sit still elicited more bursts of sweet, sweet agony. It was so bad that I almost never noticed how much my shoulders and arms hurt (that was from the workout, not the party). The kids all got a good laugh out of the strangled cries of torment I made all day, but the worst came from my wife.

She’s now become alarmed at the terrible shape I’m in and has threatened to make me work out. I reminded her that a year or more ago I’d suggested what I thought was a very reasonable system of incentives and rewards (the details of which I won’t go into for modesty’s sake) that almost surely would have kept me vigorously exercising even though I really don’t want to, and she’d demurred. But now she’s making it her personal mission so maybe that’s back on the table, too. We’ll see. If only I didn’t hate moving so much.

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