Thursday, February 23, 2006

Couch potato no more! Exercises for the snowboarder in me.

Wall Squat
Sit against a wall as if there was a chair underneath you. With your knees at 90 degree angles and your ankles directly under your knees, hold for a 30 to 60 second count. Ass kicking heelsides baby!
Calf Raise
Stand on a stair, facing up the staircase. With your heels over the edge of the step, slowly push up onto the tips of your toes. Lower back down and repeat. Toeside away!
Pushups help build upper body and abdominal fitness. Hands should be a little bit wider than the shoulders. Lower your body down slowly and back up, keeping your body straight.
Back and feet on the floor, knees bent, curl up as you tighten your stomach muscles then lower back down. Try keeping your muscles tight the entire time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Return to Snowboarding - Day 1

This winter, a very spring like, un-New England one at that I decided to get back into snowboarding. Not that I was into it before. My previous two attempts at hurling my self down an icy slope, my feet strapped two a metal cafeteria tray like appendage ended disastrously and I promised myself that root canals was a less painful means of punishing myself.

This time I decided to do it the right way, I bought some protective gear. Knee pads are very very useful when you caught a toeside edge - more on that later. A helmet is regulation and crashpants (pants with padding around the butt, thighs) can help. I also enrolled in a series of beginner classes.

Class 1: Beginners bootcamp - showed up to class breathlessly late got my rental gear sorted and headed out to the slopes. Two really, really important pieces of information that will help any newbie’s - your boots and you your stance on the snowboard.

Boots - the obvious factors are comfort and style, make sure they're the right fit and they look cool, I got a pair of blue, suede K2's that fit the bill. Here's the important info - make sure that they're snug at the calf, snug enough not to allow a finger between your calf and the inner lining. Lacing is important too, for your front foot lace all the way to the top lock, for your back foot leave the topmost lock free - this allows you to flex your calf muscle to allow for more flexible movement of your body with relation to your board.

Stance (i) - mostly everyone rides "regular", left foot forward, right foot at the back - I ride "goofy" which is the opposite. The way you figure out which stance is right for you is like so: you stand naturally facing forward and imagine someone pushed you forward, if you put your right foot out instinctively then that's the foot you lead with meaning you're goofy otherwise you're regular.

Stance (ii) - your feet when strapped into your board can rest in various angles. O degrees is going down the plane of the board width wise. A beginner normally starts at 14/15 degrees which is standing on your board facing forward slightly. Some others favor the duck stance which is when your feet are splayed outwards both on your front and back feet.

Once you get all that stuff sorted you're ready for your first snowboard lesson - getting strapped in and skating.

Strapping in - get on your butt (see why the crash pants are handy?) and plant your front foot in your binding. Ensure that the you start with the ankle strap and ratchet it up nice and tight. Check to see if the back of your foot is snug against the "highback". Then ratchet in your toe strap. Leave your back foot out for now.

Skating - this is an important first lesson because it helps you get on and off the chair lift. With your front foot strapped in learn to push off with your back foot and when you gain some momentum learn to plant your back foot on or close to your rear binding. You don't necessarily need to be great at this to start with, just know that it is hard to get used to and over time it will become a natural part of your snowboarding skills.

So now for the big step - the chair lift. A lot of people get nervous getting off the lift, so the getting on part is pretty much a breeze. Here's how it works. Skate over to the chair as soon as you see the first lot plant themselves on the one in front - this will give you a lot of time to make a mistake and recover if you did. Once you make it the line look backwards so that you can position yourself well on the seat when it comes to you. Sit down, lit your foot and your board up to clear any obstacles and when you get up in the air bring down the lock bars and place your foot on the rests. Time for the harrowing lift exit.

Ok. So it's not at as bad as it sounds. First rule of thumb - don't panic and know that everyone falls. The trick is to look up at the direction you want to go in rather than down. Here are the steps to follow:

Exiting the lift
1. As the lift nears the exit point scoot over and perch yourself on your right butt if you're regular, left if you're goofy. You're now perched sideways, looking over your shoulder.
2. At the ramp push off the seat with your hands whilst placing your back leg (as with skating, above) on your binding or stomp-pad. In fact you can let your back foot drop over either side of the board to act as a brake or rudder even. The most important bit to remember is that you should be looking in the direction you want to go in.

In time you'll get better at this.

Next up, heelside and toeside, finding those dratted edges and brokeback mountain (quite literally)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blink and its gone

Without coming off too much as a book reviewer I think this book has a lot going for it. In terms of making me look at myself in a very 3rd personish fashion I think nothing else could have been a better stimulant.

For those of you unfortunate enough not to know it (as I was until a few weeks ago) drop what you're doing, run out and get it - Blink, Malcol Gladwell. Trust me this one's a keeper.

So 2 or 3 things stand out for me when I think about the book in the context of my life at the present time.

- Are we all a little bit autistic?
- We are all prejudiced about certain things and have set beliefs which are difficult to change.
- And in a traingular test almost all of us will not tell the difference beween coke and pepsi

A little bit about Autism - Its apparently an affliction where one's mind is not to able to read another persons mind, to be mind blind in a way. So for example if you looked at me pointing at something in the distance you would automatically look at that thing, because you have unconciously put yourself in my mind and are doing what I'm doing but not so many an autistic person. He would stare at some part of me or something that his mind acknowledges as the most important component in that moment and he will tend to focus on that.
So, apparently all of us have levels of autistic behavior that we may exhibit on a day to day basis. An assasin tried to kill the North Korean President, he gets up a few feet away from the president pulls out his gun, he's so nervous that he shoots himself in the foot, then points the gun at the president and manages to shoot his wife in the head instead, killing her, the presidents bodyguard stands up and drills the assasin only to end up shooting a boy next to him.
How long did all that take - about 3 seconds apparently. So when time is collapsed like that and you are tasked with something as unimaginable as this - you are basically autistic, there is no time to react, to think, to even rely on any training you may have had...

Shamefully prejudiced
There are these tests that one can take, it's as simple as matching phrases as they would in your mind relate to people - here's one that I made up - if you had 'Volvo/doctor' to match up with 'hip-hop' or 'classical' which one would you choose without having to think conciuosly. When it comes to race I'm deeply confused. As someone of color I'm as racist as the next person. So can one become better at these tests and prove to be less racist over time? Not easy, there's this guy (who's white) who kept doing the tests everday - no improvement, then one day he comes into the office and finds a marked improvement, so he thinks back and realizes he was watching the olympics on TV the night before. Get it?

Will that be a coke or pepsi?
This one irks me. Most of us can maybe tell the difference between coke and pepsi if we do a 2 way (1 glass each) test. The harder one is the 3 way test where you have 2 of one and one of the other. Now you have to keep inside your memory the taste of the first one, like lock this thing away so you can retrieve it and do that comparison - I'll blog about this when I can get to that level.