The Casual Blog

Dropping some weight and hitting some golf balls

I came back from the long weekend in St. Croix five pounds heavier than when I left.  It’s difficult to account for the sudden gain, since I was reasonably careful about not over eating and held the veggie line against temptation.  Perhaps our very pleasant seaside daiquiris, pina coladas, and pain killers had something to do with it.  In any case, I managed to shed all the extra weight this week with some vigorous early morning workouts, and as of this morning was at my fighting weight of 160.

Earlier this week the NY Times published a piece by Gretchen Reynolds on the positive effects of exercise on the brain.  http://tiny.cc/deokh  Studies with rats show the exercising rats with much superior brain functioning (“little rat geniuses”), and the apparent interaction of BMP and Noggin leading to increased production of neurons.  I can believe it.   When I first began regular exercise in my college years, I viewed it as primarily benefitting the cardiovascular system, but especially in recent times, I find that I feel duller if I can’t find time for a workout.

We’ve had a record-setting heat wave this week.  This Saturday morning, I was hoping to get an outdoor swim at Lifetime Fitness, but unfortunately the outdoor lanes were all taken when I got there at 6:40.  I made do with the indoor pool for 60 laps, then 15 minutes of yoga in the sauna, then 5 minutes in the steam room (whew!).  Then I headed over to Lake Jordan to drive my sports car on some backwoods roads.

I ended up at the end of a gravel road off US 64 at a down-on-its-luck golf range with a old barn on one side.  There was no one there when I showed up, but a guy emerged from a small adjacent house and got me a bucket of golf balls.  He couldn’t take a credit card, and couldn’t break a $20, but he agreed to let me have a $9 bucket for all the smaller bills I had ($7).  Then he drove off, and left me alone to practice.   The grass was very long, and so I was effectively working on shots from the rough.  A good thing to practice, though not so fun.  I got sweaty and tired, and was happy to get to the bottom of the bucket and see the last ball fly away.

Driving on the left

When we rented a car in St. Croix last weekend, the Hertz agent informed me that they drive on the left.  The guard at the airport exit reminded me again to drive on the left.  As did a policewoman at a drunk driver check point.  And with good reason:  it’s hard!  I’m guessing a lot of American tourists have accidents or narrowly avoid them.  The rule that one drives on the right gets deeply grooved into the brain.  The first two days, I consciously reminded myself repeatedly that left was right.  But by the third day left was starting to feel natural.  Then we came back to Raleigh, USA.  The first day I found myself hesitating — left or right?

That minor culture shock quickly receded in the face of the everyday challenges of work etc.  I did have a couple of days, though, where it seemed that every leaf on the trees I saw on my commute to work was distinct and clear.  The short Caribbean adventure transformed things just a bit.