Dan Loves his Fitbit

Hannah and I have been over-the-top uber exercisers forever.  We began running the canal paths of Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona as twenty-somethings.  Each with a degree in physical education, we were road runners for thirty years until, in our mid-50s, our knees creaked, No mas.  Putting the uber into uber-rageous, we biked the 190-mile Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia with its 15 degree mountain inclines; we both believe that’s the most difficult physical challenge we ever attempted.  (How do you like that humble brag in the lead paragraph!)

Now into my seventies, I pickle, workout at the gym, play ping pong, and walk the trails and side roads of Maine and California.  I don’t need a Fitbit measuring my every step to know I am rocking active senior until…

Tau Fitbit

…this past January when our son Will and daughter-in-law Laurel sent Hannah and me Fitbits to the house where we were staying in California for the winter.

For those new to Fitbit-dom, Fitbits primarily register the steps one takes in a day; the default goal is 10,000 steps per day.  Fitbits calculate our weekly average as well as allow Hannah and me to compete playfully to see who gets the most steps during a work week.  In addition, Fitbits scroll vibrating messages that show me my latest text or email.

It turns out that being in temperate California in January and February was the ideal breeding ground to fall in Fitbit Love.  Away from the ice and cold of the New England winter, Hannah and I walked daily along the Pacific or through the town of Carpinteria to add to our pickleball and hiking step totals.

But what I never expected was that my Fitbit would enhance my active life in at least six ways.

Fitbit york harbor cliff walk

Cliff Walk at York Harbor

One, I just exercise more.  My Fitbit regular reminds me to get some more steps and think to walk to the Cliff Walk in York or for twenty minutes in our neighborhood.

Two, I just move more.  My Fitbit has vibrating and visual reminders to get me up and moving around when I sit at the computer or read and write on our front deck.

Three, when in the early afternoon, after picking up 6000 steps at the gym or 8000 playing pickleball, I say to Hannah I need a neighborhood walk to get to 10,000.   And so we do.

Fitbit pickleall

Four, I no longer just stand around waiting on the court when playing pickleball.  When the other players are chasing the ball, getting into position, or preparing to serve, I walk around to stay loose, and equally important, rack up valuable steps.

Five, I no longer just sit for long stretches on the sidelines waiting for my next turn to play pickleball; I walk around to stay loose and be less likely to pull a hammy or rip an Achilles.  I’m ready to play without being stiff from sitting.  (Just a thought.  Perhaps, considering their serious injuries in the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson could use Fitbits.  I’m just saying.)

Six, I just dig the satisfying feedback that quantifies my activity.  The daily numbers reinforce that I am a mover and groover.

That’s Fitbit Love!

Here’s a Fitbit screen shot from my iPhone for June 21, 2019.  Notice the 17K+ steps for the day that came from an hour and 40 minutes of pickleball this morning, mowing 3/4 of our lawn this afternoon, and evening walk in the neighborhood with Hannah.  Do take note of the sweet nap I had earlier in the afternoon.  I thought it was 30 minutes, 40 tops.

Fitbit screen shot 2

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Dan is Breaking Up with Facebook

Facebook Neil Sedaka

You gotta love Neil Sedaka’s classic “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.”  But in this case, it just doesn’t fit my divorce with Facebook after eight years.

Of late, I have been on a nine-month break from Facebook, but I just wasn’t ready to cut the cord completely.  The final straw was being reminded by David Brooks on a podcast (The Ted Interview) about the lack of meaningful connection that comes with a steady diet of social media.

Facebook no

Just because I wanted to break up, Facebook didn’t make it easy to sever ties (what they call deactivating).  It wasn’t exactly clear to me how to close my account.  My go-to response in tech uncertainty is to email our son Will for support.  But, before he responded, I thought, I bet if I googled “Closing your Facebook account,” I would find the key to unlock this door.  Ta-da!

Was the Russian hacking the reason?  No.  The ubiquitous ads?  Not really.

That I can be lazy and click on Facebook to just pass time (and by that, I mean waste time)?  Guilty as charged.

Primarily, though, I am disappointed that going on Facebook didn’t foster connections with others that I naively thought it might.  In fact, I think friendships wither when folks think posting on Facebook is enough to keep friendships going.

Facebook adios

So, I bid adieu to Facebook.  Adios, mi non-amigo.

By the way, Hannah has never had a Facebook account.  Wise beyond her years!

Dan Wonders If Being Hopeful is a Habit that Can Be Learned

Hannah and I get the New York Times most every Sunday.  For me, it was a tradition started by my parents back in the 1950s in New Jersey.  My Sunday morning begins with a cup of joe, one of Hannah’s biscuits, and the Sunday Sports section; next, before I try to decipher the Sunday Crossword with my trusty iPhone, I read the Sunday Styles section.

NYT sunday styles 2

The Sunday Styles section has the weekly Modern Love column which has folks writing about their relationships (e.g. For last Sunday (4.28.2019), the titled piece was It’s Not You, It’s Men: I re-evaluated my life after two long-term girlfriends broke up with me while coming out).

I then move on to Social Q’s by Philip Galanes who gives advice about, again, relationships.  (e.g. My good friend, who is white, is raising her young biracial daughter as a single mother.  She is a loving mom, but in my opinion, she has not given enough thought to helping her daughter form a healthy self-image as a person of color…)

I then move on to the wedding stories, and this is where I get to my point.  Cheese and rice, Dan, it’s about time!

NYT Small Victories anne lamott

Under the Vows heading, the piece is titled A Writer Finally Gets to That Happily-Ever-After Part.  It’s about Anne Lamott!  I have been a fanboy since the 1990s when she wrote the popular guide for writers, Bird by Bird.  She gives Ted Talks with humor and insight.  Click here for here for her entertaining 15-minute talk on 12 Truths.

In the review of her wedding to Neal Allen, Lois Smith Brady offers background on each one and how they met.  Married at 65, Anne says, Never give up, no matter how things look or how long they take.  Don’t quit before the miracle.

NYT Neil and Anne

Anne with Neil at their wedding

What caught my eye was this paragraph.  In some ways, they are opposites.  She [Anne] is afraid of almost everything, whereas he’s [Neil] afraid of almost nothing.  ‘It never occurs to me that anything will go wrong,’ he said.

That makes me think , could being fearful be a choice, not part of one’s DNA.  Many of us learn to be fearful at a young age and hone that “skill” over a lifetime.  But could it be that with some self-talk, or what some would call prayer, we can “reprogram” ourselves from looking for the possible pitfalls, the dangers, and the roadblocks to being hopeful.  I’m not suggesting the transition would be easy, but it seems feasible if one has the “want to” to transform from fearful to hopeful.

NYT choose hope 2

Case in point.  Hannah and I have water issues in our upstairs bathroom.  The stains on the plaster walls are disgusting.  With a  contractor coming in the weeks ahead, I am hopeful that any damage can be dealt with successfully.  I’ll not go down the path of what could go wrong.

Being hopeful, like getting to Carnegie Hall, takes practice, practice, practice.

Dan and Hannah See the Face of God on Easter

Dan, are you and Hannah home?  And if so, could I stop by and have a few minutes?

That’s unusual.  We can go weeks without dealing with our neighbor who wrote this text.  Wondering if anything is wrong, I respond, We are in Pennsylvania.  Be home manana.  Once home, we don’t hear from him and I pretty much forget about it.

Then, on Easter morning I get the exact same text.  Though Hannah and I are just heading for a mid-day walk at the Ogunquit (Maine) beach, I text back, Now is a good time.

Our neighbor is the classic good guy.  When we needed a hide-a-bed sofa removed from an upstairs room, he and his son come right over and moved it for us.  He always greets us warmly when Hannah and I walk the neighborhood.  He is a devout Christian who truly lives his faith.

Rainbow our driveway

Waiting on our driveway, we see him approach.  He says, How are you?  I mention that we are just back from seeing our grandson in New York.  He smiles, and then breaks down in tears.  Whoa!

Hannah and I both step forward and give him a group hug; he cries and doesn’t say anything.  Hannah wonders if someone died.  I wonder is he getting a divorce.  Does a child or grandchild have cancer?

Composing himself, he says, I think you know how much my faith means to me.  I try to be a good neighbor.  It’s been on my heart that I’ve wanted to say this to you.  We continue to hug and listen and wonder.   He pauses, head down, composing himself.

He looks up and continues with a smile, I think you know we come from different political perspectives.  I should say so.

Rainbow flag

So, is this about the rainbow flag we have flying on the busy road in front of our house.  Does he want us to take it down?  My mind races further thinking that that’s going to be a problem.  Our rainbow flag is a symbol of our support for our LGBT sisters and brothers, who are our friends and yes, in our family.

Composing himself again, he says, You two were there when I needed you last fall. I want you to know how much that meant to me.  While he was recovering, we brought soup and biscuits to his family; sat with him as we listened to his story of how it all happened.  While he was recuperating, we gave him bread.

We continue to hug, and then he relaxes and seems at peace.  I just wanted to let you know how much you mean to me.  We smile at each other as he says, You know, I’m there if you need me.  As he always has.

And then as soon as he came, he’s gone – walking back down our driveway.

I look to Hannah and say to her, we’ve just seen the face of God.  This is what Rev Rich Knight meant when he said, When you see acts of kindness and acts of love, (similar to what our neighbor just delivered to us), you see the face of God.

So glad we were home when God walked down our driveway this Easter morning.

Dan and Hannah Want to Introduce You to 4Ocean

4Ocean image

Hannah and I were blown away by this less than three minute video about the amazing amount of plastics in the ocean and what can be done about it.  Our daughter-in-law Laurel was moved to action to buy the bracelets when she saw the video as did my Arizona State college roommate Rich and his wife Mary.

Click on this link

https://4ocean.com/

Thank you, Mary.

4Ocean image

PS  From Time Magazine (April 1, 2019) – 88 pounds of plastic found in the belly of a dead whale that washed up in the Philippines on March 16!

 

Dan and Hannah and A Cool Yule Story

In a recent AARP magazine, I read about a giving tradition that Marlo Thomas and her husband Phil Donahue practiced with their grandchildren.  She is the outreach director for St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, one of the world’s leading pediatric cancer research centers.  She has thought about how to develop a generous heart.

The couple gave each of their grandchildren $40 and told them to give it away.  They’d take time figuring out what really mattered to them,” she recalls. “It showed that money isn’t just something you spend on yourself.  It grew their gratitude.  That’s what you’re trying to do with children: grow their spirit.”

DD rawding family

Max, Molly, Owen, and Tip

So, considering inflation, we gave our grandsons Owen (6) and Max (4) fifty dollars to give away.  We wrote a check to their mom, our daughter Molly, and knew if anything was going to happen it was because Molly and her hubby Tip would come up with something.  And did they ever!

Arriving on the Wednesday before Christmas to look after our grandsons, Hannah and I see that Max has an envelope for his library yoga teacher.  The poetic note said…

DD poem

Similar to the envelope given to the library yoga teacher

The boys gave envelopes with two $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards enclosed to Owen and Max’s teachers, the mail lady, a guy at Trader Joe’s that is always friendly and kind, both story time librarians, and the boys’ babysitter.

It’s just brilliant.  So, thank you Molly, Tip, Marlo, and Phil for planting these seeds

Tolerance or Compassion?

Karen Armstrong writes in the Unity Magazine (Jan/Feb 2019),

Compassion symbol

       Tolerant is a word we should expunge from our vocabulary.  “To tolerate” means to put up with something.  It’s the language of the victor. Compassion is better because it puts you on the same level as others.  The truth is we simply can’t live without each other.

What do you think?  Your thoughts can inform us all.  Please comment in the space below.   Dan

Dan and Hannah and Give Kids The World

GKTW map to boston

York is ten miles north of Portsmouth, NH

Up at four this Saturday morning, by five Hannah and I head south on I-95 to Boston’s Logan Airport.  Arriving without delay, we soon pass through the TSA pre-check point for our 815 flight to Atlanta.  We are traveling in the Florence and Michael Hurricane-ravaged South to see family in North Carolina, play some rocking pickleball in Georgia, and visit the hometown of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, in Alabama.

While waiting for our Delta flight, I walk the wide airport corridors to pass time and work out the stiffness in my legs.  Walking toward the Dunkin Donuts, I notice a sea of green tee shirts.  Moving smoothly, but discreetly to check out the shirts, I am blown away to see they say Give Kids The World!

GKTW volunteers

Angels from Melrose, Mass

Give Kids The World is the Florida-based wish organization that provides accommodations and free passes to the theme parks in the Orlando area for families with kids with life-threatening illnesses.

These volunteers from a Baptist Church in Melrose, Mass are off to the GKTW Village to support these families for the coming week.  They will serve breakfasts and later dish ice cream at the on-campus Perkins Restaurant.

Instead of just concentrating on the kid with the serious illness, GKTW wisely attends to the entire family.  They make brothers, sisters, mom, and dad feel like royalty, too.  Families with a kid with a life-threatening illness can fracture if the needs of and attention to the other kids in the family are ignored.

GKTW symbol

How am I such an authority on Give Kids The World?  Why in 1988, Hannah and I with our three children, Will (4), Robyn (6), and Molly (8), were gifted a trip to Orlando to be tenderly cared for by Give Kids The World since Robyn was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four.  Today she is a beautiful 37!

 

Dan and Hannah Win the Delta Lottery

In April 2017, Hannah and I agreed to be bumped from our 10A Delta flight from Atlanta to Richmond to another at 230P.  Being NASCAR weekend in Virginia’s capital, millions are heading to binge drinking, cars going aimlessly around in circles at ungodly speeds, and Southern fried sunburns; not NASCAR fans ourselves (what was your first clue?), we are heading for a Woo Girls Reunion in nearby Quinton, VA with three of Hannah’s College of Wooster classmates.  With the get-together to begin at 5P, we have plenty of time to wait out the delay and still arrive in time to pah-tay.

Delta D and H

Initially, we are offered $400 in Delta vouchers if we will wait for the 230P flight.  Seems like free money; we are all in.  When Delta can’t get the necessary seven volunteers to take the later flight, they up the ante to $800, then eventually $900 each, including us who agreed to take the $400 voucher!  The one restriction is that we must schedule our flights within the year.  Hardly a deal breaker!

Delta boston to atlanta flight

Four months later in August we fly to Atlanta from Boston for Hannah’s stem cell injections in an experimental procedure for her to regain the full use of her voice.  (By the way, the procedure was not successful.)

We find $110 round-trip flights for each of us.  If you are keeping score at home, we each still have $790 for flights in the coming year.

Returning to Atlanta for another treatment in October 2017, we fly from Boston with seats that cost twice as much at $220.  Even so, we still each have $570 to apply to future flights.

Delta boston to lax

Boston to Los Angeles and back

With plans to fly round-trip from Boston to Los Angeles for our month near Santa Barbara in February of 2018, we use our vouchers for two $349 Delta tickets.  Incredibly, after this third free flight, each of us still has $221 left for additional flights to schedule by April 2018.

Knowing we’ll be returning to California in 2019, we beat the April 2018 deadline and use our $221 vouchers for round-trip tickets from Boston to Los Angeles that pay for 70% of those $310 cross-country tickets.

So, let’s do the math; we score: (1) two free round-trip flights from Boston to Atlanta for both of us; (2) one fully paid cross country trip from Boston to Los Angeles for us two, and (3) 70% of one more cross-country trip to Los Angeles and back to Boston for each of us!

Our part of the bargain for these four free flights: waiting a mere four additional hours in Atlanta for our flight to Richmond.  As you will agree, Dan and Hannah won their version of the lottery.

 

Dan’s Lawnmower Doesn’t Work Again, But…

I have a long uneasy relationship with gas machines around the house.  I recently posted on my aversion to the evil leaf blower.  (Click here for that blog.)  We once had a behemoth snowblower for our 150′ driveway.  It proved on unwieldy so now we have Nolan who plows when we get a big storm.

But this is a story about a lawn mower that went down a dark rabbit hole until…  Well, let me explain.

Mower - itself

After two years of lawn mower neglect, this past spring I take my mower to Eldredge Repair for servicing.  Returning home and pulling on the cord, the engine sputters, and then conks out completely after thirty seconds.  Really!  I just paid a C note for the repair!  (i.e. $100)

Checking the gas tank, I find it low, but not unreasonably so.  Even so, hoping for a green lawn miracle, I drive down to the Irving Station for some gas, return home, pull the cord – La meme chose!  Nothing, as it runs weakly for 30 seconds, then conks out.

When in small engine need, I default to reaching out to my neighbors for support.

Ergo, I text Marco, a thirty-something who lives diagonally across the street.  Marco responds, Remove the gas cap and see if the engine runs better.  If it does, this signifies a plugged gas cap vent and is quite common.  If u need to borrow mine, you sure can. 

mower - cap off

Unscrewing the gas cap, I pull the cord once more, but it nonetheless sputters and dies.  Still, the interaction with Marco brightens my afternoon.

With Bob’s Jeep in the driveway across the road, I walk over, explain my situation, and ask if he has any ideas.  Suggesting that I spray the carburetor, he says I can borrow his spray if I want.  When he hands me the can, I admit that I have no idea where the carburetor is.  Before I can ask for his help, he offers to come over to take a look.

Bob sprays, I pull the cord, but it’s déjà vu all over again; the mower sputters and shuts down.

Mower - Shed and mower

Ever hopeful and obviously very naïve, thirty minutes later I give my mower one more tug.  Pulling in vain, I see Bob behind me wheeling his mower down our driveway; he says, you can use mine until you get yours fixed.  How cool is that!  I gladly accept and mow our backyard to my heart’s content.

With a non-compliant mower, the very next day I return it to Eldredge’s.  Two days later upon my return, the smiling mechanic greets me.  He says, when I heard that the mower died after 30 seconds, I knew exactly what the problem was.  I took out the biggest mouse nest I have seen all spring.  The nest was blocking the flywheel of your engine.

Why the repair guy didn’t notice the mouse house in my mower the first time is another matter.  Still, it was a good day thanks to Mickey and Minnie reconnecting me with Marco and Bob.