Saturday, August 19, 2017

Rain and Other Things

We've been blessed with some good rain this past week.

Last weekend, we received slightly more than half an inch. Since then, it has rained lightly several times, but none amounting to more than a tenth or so. But on Thursday night, we had another half inch. So, in the past week, we've had probably an inch and a quarter or so. That's really good for us. We're about where we should be for the year, perhaps an inch or two behind.

An old friend from our Ozona days passed away recently, so we made the trek there last Monday evening to pay our respects. It was good to see old friends and colleagues, some that we have not seen since we left there in 1999. San Angelo is the nearest big shopping town for Ozona, so we do run into folks from there around town, especially places like Walmart and H.E.B. And lots of folks from Ozona retire to Angelo, much like we have, and we see them around town from time to time.

We were glad to see how green things were in Ozona. They have really had good rains there this summer, much more than what we have received in Angelo. That is ranch country down there, and the pastures did look good.

It was also interesting to see the many changes in Ozona. The town seems healthy. It had been a while since our last visit, so we were surprised to see 2 new hotels, a Holiday Inn Express and a Hampton Inn. Ozona is a good place for east/west travelers to stop on Interstate 10. Hotel rates are reasonable, and there a several good places to get a good meal. I'm glad to see the town is doing so well.

We boarded the fun bus to ride to the Manor for lunch on Wednesday. We always enjoy socializing with our fellow inmates, but I have to say, I enjoy the food over there less and less each time I go. It's hard to beat the price of $6.50 for a full meal (drink, entrees, veggies, bread, and dessert), but the quality really lacks.

It's been quite a while since we attended a birthday dinner at the club. It seems we are always traveling when those dates roll around each month.

Aside from that, we just continue our regular routines and look forward to our next trip.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Some Walking Stats

If you've read my blog for very long, you know that I'm an avid walker. I've always enjoyed walking. When I go for a week or so without walking, I just start feeling bad. It is always so good and invigorating to take a good walk after a period of inactivity.

We moved to our new home a little over a year ago. I took my first walk at Rio Concho West on June 25, 2016. I'd like to share some of my walking stats for the past year (June 25, 2016 to June 25, 2017).

I use a GPS tracker every time I walk or hike. Most of the data I'm about to share is from walks, and most of those are from Rio Concho West, where I live. Some of the data comes from hikes we've taken in the past year, and some of the data comes from other walks we've taken, such as out at the state park or other local walking venues. Overall, my GPS tracker works well, but on occasion, it does err. So my data, for the most part, is about 99% reliable. As a result, the data I'm sharing is actually less that what I really walked.

As a rule, I try to walk every other day. However, due to trips we may take, illness, laziness, and other circumstances, I sometimes may miss several days. From June 25, 2016, to June 25, 2017, I walked 397.9 miles on 105 days. So, that means I am actually walking only about every 3.48 days. Well, we do travel quite a bit. And that also means that I average 3.79 miles per walk.

For health purposes, I feel you must walk at a fairly brisk pace for at least 30 minutes to get any true benefit. For me, that means I have set 2 miles as my bare minimum for any walk I take. In reality, I almost always walk at least 3 miles per outing. Health benefits from regular walking include the following:
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. (The main reason for my doctor encouraging me to walk)
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles.
  • Improve your mood.
  • Improve your balance and coordination.
For a while, I was focused on speed and distance. My goal was to walk at least 4 miles at an average clip of less than 17 minutes per mile. I sustained this for a while, but found that this caused my feet to hurt. I tried different things, such as putting cushions in my shoes and using double socks. These measures helped, but the foot pain continued, causing me to miss walking at times.

Today, I am satisfied to walk shorter distances at slower speeds. As a result, I may not walk as far, but I am walking more often with fewer interrupted periods. I am averaging between 3.5 and 4 miles per walk now, and I usually average 17½ to 18 minutes per mile. This seems to be working well for me at this time.

I find that when I stop walking for a period of at least 1 week or more, it is hard for me to get myself restarted. For example, I was ill in May for a while and did not walk for 2 weeks. When I did resume my walks, they were very short, just over 2 miles. Prior to that, I had been averaging more than 4 miles per walk. I am just now getting back to the 4 mile range. Yes, as you get older, it becomes more difficult to recover from down times. But since that time, my walking has been more consistent. For example, from June 28 to July 28, I walked 13 days (that is a walk every 2.3 days as compared to the 3.48 days cited above) for a total of 44.85 miles. If I continued this for a year, my annual total would be 538.2 miles walked on 156 days. I doubt I'll accomplish that due to travel, illness, and other interruptions, but the consistency this past month has certainly been good.

For now, I just plan to keep on walking as often, as far, and as fast as I comfortably can.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Night at the Theater: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Donna and I recently enjoyed a night at our local community theater, Angelo Civic Theater, watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Some of you old timers probably watched the original 1954 film starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell in the lead roles of Adam and Millie. The movie won the Academy award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and was nominated for four other awards, including Best Picture (which was won by On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando).

This particular work is unusual in that it was a movie before appearing as a play on Broadway. Normally, works begin as plays, then become movies if they are popular enough.

The play is set in Oregon in the 1850s. Adam Pontipee ventures into the local town in search of a wife. By the end of the day, he has convinced Millie to marry him, and he takes her home to his farm/ranch in the mountains, where his 6 brothers await, unbeknownst to the new bride. She then sets about teaching the brothers manners and how to court the fairer sex in hopes that they will each get their own wife so that she will not have to care for 6 bachelors as well as her own husband.

The play is a musical, and is famous for its rousing dance numbers set to such natural events as a barn raising. It also has more parts than most plays, using a cast of over 30 actors. For these reasons, it is a challenge for a small theater to put on.

It was an enjoyable evening at the theater.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Movie Review: Dunkirk

I have trouble finding a good movie to watch these days. It seems that so much of what Hollywood is currently producing is pure fantasy. For example, here is the list of what is now playing at the theater (Cinemark) that Donna and I frequent. I've labeled each and sometimes provided a blurb from the movie:
  • The Emoji Movie (Animated)
  • Dunkirk
  • Atomic Blonde (Highly choreographed tale. "The crown jewel of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission.")
  • Girls Trip (Raunchy. "there's enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.")
  • Spider Man: Homecoming (Fantasy)
  • Despicable Me 3 (Animated)
  • War for the Planet of the Apes. (Fantasy)
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Fantasy. "A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets.")
  • Baby Driver (Action/Thriller. "After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.")
  • The Big Sick. (Romantic Comedy. "Bickering parents and a serious health scare threaten the budding relationship between a Pakistani stand-up comic (Kumail Nanjiani) and his American girlfriend (Zoe Kazan).")
  • Wonder Woman (Fantasy)
  • Wish Upon (Fantasy. "A teen girl discovers a magical box that will grant her seven wishes. As she uses her wishes for personal gain, bad things begin to happen to those around her. She discovers an evil entity lives inside the box and may be behind the gruesome deaths.")
  • 47 Meters Down (Thriller. Two thrill seeking sisters get more than they bargained for when the shark cage they are in breaks away and falls to the bottom of the sea in shark infested waters.)
  • The Angry Birds. (Animated)
That is a list of 14 movies currently playing in our theater. Of those, 3 are animated, 3 are about super heroes in highly choreographed (and unbelievable) action scenes, 3 are other types of fantasies, and 1 is simply raunchy and distasteful. That leaves only 4 movies that are anywhere near realistic and believable. Pretty slim pickings.

Now, I'll readily admit that some fantasies are worth watching. The original Star Trek TV series, I thought, put forth some very interesting plots that made you think "what if?". But today, most such fantasy shows dwell more on action than ideas.

It's rare to find a movie that is historically accurate and that portrays realistic human emotions. Dunkirk does that very well. There really is no central character in the movie; rather, the movie follows the actions of several people as allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. There are cowards as well as heroes, men in shock and men who rise to the challenge. The horrors of war are accurately depicted, and human growth is shown. It is a very sound movie that does a good job of recording this often overlooked episode in the early days of World War II, well before America's entry into that conflict.

Sadly, there simply aren't enough movies today that deal with subjects accurately and realistically. Such a movie is a rare gem, indeed.