Archive for category humorous stories

Ivan And Jann Give Me Some Chuckles

I was watching a video on Fuzzy Yellow Balls by Jann Auzoux, a recognized tennis coach in the DC area who played on the Davis Cup team for Cameroon—though he lost all nine matches. Jann was saying that lots of rec(reational) players started tennis late, and that delay handicaps them from learning the game properly. My head was nodding as I related to his wise words immediately. After all, I played for two years, when I was 12-13, and then stopped for over 50 years! I really began playing regularly, when I was 66.

Then Jann admitted that he would have been a better player if HE hadn’t started so late. He was already 11, when he first began playing the game. Eleven??? Eleven??? What the hell was he talking about? All the top players, he explained, began learning tennis when they were five! Five?…Yes five. I had to laugh out loud at how off base I was in understanding his original statement. But it’s all relative…

This reminded me of another anecdote about my lengthiest conversation with Ivan Lendl, who lives nearby. His girls went to the same school as my daughter, and they were friends and had sleepovers. Well I almost never saw Ivan at school, but I was familiar with his wife, Samantha. So when I bought a new house, and it had a tennis court in disrepair, I called up his wife to ask her a question or two. Here is how it went:

Ivan: Hello

Ira: Hi, is Sam there?

Ivan: Why do you want to talk to her?

Ira: I have a question about tennis.

Ivan: I know tennis.

Ira: OK. I just bought a house with a Har-Tru tennis court, and I was wondering if that is a good kind of court?

Ivan: No. Definitely replace it. Hard court is much better.

Ira: Why is that?

Ivan: Because the tapes on a Har-Tru can stretch or expand in warm weather, and that can alter the length of the court by half an inch.

Ira: OK. Thanks for your advice.

You see how relative it all is? Aside from the $50,000 cost of a new hard court, which I wasn’t ever thinking of spending, the half inch that meant so much to Ivan—as it should—meant nothing to me. The court could have been a foot longer or shorter than regulation, and it wouldn’t have affected my game. I was just a beginner, happy to just hit a ball over the net. But a tiny deviation in length would have been terrible for a pro…especially one of the greatest in tennis history.

So pros see the tennis world quite differently than amateurs. And sometimes I think it’s pretty funny. don’t you?

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My 15 Minutes Of Fitness Fame On Reddit

Yesterday my son posted a paragraph on the reddit fitness site (200,000 followers) talking about how I did some exercise 330 days in a row as a challenge to be disciplined and to also keep a little bit more toned than doing nothing at all. Well it really caught on and was voted right to the top for most of the day. He also had some links to this irasabs site, so the traffic numbers were blown way off the charts: almost 25 times the average number of daily visitors. Even today the traffic was six times normal.

But in addition to 729 points, compared to 270 for today’s highest-valued thread, there were 140 comments. My son was proud and amused by them. I certainly was laughing at some of the responses. So here are a few to add some giggles to your day as well. And contrary to what some of the people suggested, I am not on any steroids or other drugs to bulk up…

I hope to be like you when I’m 50+.

Dang, I hope I look like you when I get to 30.

I never was into older men…. but damn you’re the exception

Ira you are an inspiration and a mad cat.

If I am 70 and look like that I will dress like an African Bushman and tell everyone to deal with it.

Your father is in better shape than a lot of men my age (22). Good for him, that’s amazing.

This is pretty awesome. So much of the aging process happens because people stop engaging in physical activity.

mein godt your dad is a beast, mine is in perma bulk mode with fat-beetus and a large amount of heart problems associated with bulking for more than 25 years.

It’s kinda sad that’s probably the best our bodies would look when they’re that age. I don’t wanna get old.

I’m sorry but someone doesn’t look like that at 71 without some help.

My first thought as well. People always assume it’s an insult even though his dedication is awesome either way. People (are) denying the likely reality that he is on gear (slang for steroids), but even if he is there’s nothing wrong with that.

At his age he could easily get prescribed testosterone from a physician too. Anti-ageing clinics everywhere.

Your dad is a very inspirational character, thanks for sharing his legend!!! (“story” seemed unworthy :p)

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Peacocks For Spiritual Tennis And Silly Walks

When describing my spiritual life to two church-going friends, I included the sounds of tennis balls I hit often from sunset to darkness at a clay court overlooking a small pond dotted with Canadian Geese honking and snuggling down with their lifetime partners. We are always joined by the cooing of mourning doves in the trees settling for their evening’s rest and the high-pitched cries of two peacocks—one a widower— calling for sorely-missed mates. How many people play tennis to the pleas of peacocks?

So imagine how startled I was to see within a week a newspaper article titled Peacocks at Sunset. It describes the “world’s most spectacular border ceremony,” between India and Pakistan at dusk each day as goose-stepping soldiers from each side lower their nation’s flags in an hour-long ballet of choreographed contempt, for there is enormous hostility between the two sides of what is viewed by the hundreds of cheering spectators as a sports contest that is some kind of venting of undisguised rage and resentment.

I have been to Kashmir and passed the truckloads of soldiers. I have seen the remnants of gardens of the Mughal Emperors who ruled there in glory and excess. I have read about the tourists beheaded there after I departed. But I am moved more profoundly by the athletic exertions of these border guards bedecked like peacocks and displaying nightly like magnificent birds. I am awed that these tall, bewhiskered soldiers who oversee a road that services only a few dozen people each day can contort themselves with pride as they carry out their roles in a dance that substitutes for battle. I am saddened that decisions by stupid diplomats (who in 1947 divided Pakistan from India) and the leaders of these warring nations resulted in the deaths of one million people and the relocation of 12 million refugees in both directions, so they could be with citizens of their own religion.

What hope is there for humanity, when you witness this ongoing distrust and understandable allegiance to religious and tribal culture? But at least the ceremony substitutes for continued conflict and killing and is enjoyable as spectacle and even sport. Here also is a humorous video by John Cleese that unintentionally ridicules the soldiers’ serious drama.

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Problems In Taking Your Own Abs Photos

Too funny. A friend is getting in shape partly by having a personal trainer visit his house twice a week. He has been to this site and complained to me that he has so much white hair on his chest that you can’t see his abs. In desperation he decided to slick down his fur with oil to make any possible cut lines visible. However he couldn’t find any baby oil or other greasy product to do the trick.

So off he went to the kitchen shelf to choose Mazzola cooking oil. Picture him smelling like a corn cob trying to take a photo in the mirror! He said no shots came out to his satisfaction, so we will have to use our imaginations. Aren’t some older folks innovative, creative and downright ridiculous??? Although what is really wrong with corn oil? Maybe it doesn’t go rancid, like olive oil…

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Ouch!! Treadmills Can Be Dangerous

This is meant to be funny by the compilers of these many treadmill accidents, and I am certainly laughing at some of them. But I am also shaking my head at the stupidity of the jerks attempting a few obviously insane moves. Aren’t you supposed to stand ON the conveyor belt first, and then start it going?

I am soooooo conservative.

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How Some Old Dudes Stay In Shape And Top The Kids

Marc Sokolik sent me this amusing video that is not only entertaining but shows impressive sports skills by a really old guy. You’d never guess he was so limber. Watch the video to the end to see how he stays in shape, so he can remain so talented. Reminds me of a capoeira master I admired in Brazil—in his 60’s or 70’s, and he could still play with the kids.

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Creative Wedding March Down The Aisle

It’s a stretch to call this surprising dance performance an athletic achievement, even though it involves handstand walking and a somersault, but it’s so creative and makes me smile every time I watch and listen to it. Enjoy the premier and then the redo five weeks later on the TODAY SHOW. With so much stress and sadness in the world, this really is a joyful and uplifting celebration of life and new beginnings. Time magazine ranked the original video at number fifteen on its list of the fifty greatest YouTube videos.

Most couples wait until the after-vows reception, before breaking out into ecstatic dancing on their wedding day. But Kevin Heinz and Jill Peterson figured, why wait to unleash their unbridled joy?

The 28-year-olds floored their wedding guests on June 20, 2009, by having their whole bridal party—including seven bridesmaids, five groomsmen and four ushers—boogie down the aisle in a choreographed dance more at home in a Broadway musical than in a somber church.

Groomsmen split into sides as Heinz did a somersault in front of the wowed crowd—and the gown-clad Peterson quickly followed, shaking her hips to Chris Brown’s “Forever,” while pumping her bridal bouquet into the air during the ceremony in St. Paul, Minn.

Of course, some things are too good to keep to yourself. And when Kevin posted the wedding dance routine on YouTube, it quickly became a viral hit—some four million people right away and as of May, 2012, almost 75 million people have shared in the couple’s novel way of showing their matrimonial joy.

Heinz and Peterson (shes keeping her maiden name) appeared live on TODAY Friday, July 24, 2009, to tell their story of how their artistic self-expression on the biggest day of their lives captured America’s imagination and made them Internet stars.

After watching the video, TODAY’s Matt Lauer told the couple,” If that was a ceremony, I don’t know how you survived the honeymoon!” He then asked the couple who came up with the idea.

“It was mine,” Jill told Lauer. “I danced growing up and was a dancer through college and loved dance as a way to express yourself and share joy. So it was something I always thought about doing.” It didn’t take her fun-loving husband Kevin long to agree to the idea, saying the decision to dance was the first thing we really decided about the wedding that he wanted to do.

They then broke the news to the parents that their wedding processional wasn’t going to take on the more reserved joy of a typical wedding. Jill admitted that her mom was maybe a little nervous, and Kevin said his parents were definitely apprehensive, but didn’t try to talk the two crazy kids out of their plan. They swore them to secrecy so other wedding guests wouldn’t know what they were up to.

Next up was a dance rehearsal for the wedding party. Anyone seeing the YouTube video might think the whole party was composed of dance professionals—the bridesmaids alone, with their waving-hands routine at the altar, are worth the price of admission. But Jill said it was actually more seat-of-the-tux than the final result would indicate.

“People were sort of making it up as they went, people just got really into it and went for it. We just gave them a general layout.”

The wedding party rehearsed the dance for just 90 minutes. While guests were clearly overjoyed at getting a floor show even before the champagne flowed at the reception, Kevin and Jill are adamant they weren’t seeking a quick kiss of fame by posting their dancing high jinks on YouTube. Like many other viral video sensations, it was originally intended for friends and family.

“I put it up because her dad had been really harassing me to get it out to some of his other family members, and it exploded,” Kevin said.

JK Wedding Party—6/20/2009

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Natsumi Hayashi Floats And Levitates For Fun

200-300 attempts to get the perfect shot sounds like a very tiring effort

Natsumi Hayashi posts photographic self-portraits on her blog, Yowayowa Camera Woman Diary. I love them, and definitely regard them as an athletic challenge and achievement. She does 200-300 jumps to get one winner that she uploads and displays in print shows.

“I must be aware of the shapes of my arms and legs and make slight adjustments in every jump,” she said.

New York Times writer, Kerri Macdonald, says, “the more complicated—in some cases, dangerous—the pose appears, the less inclined a viewer will be to anticipate a landing. Ms. Hayashi holds her head high, averting her eyes from her landing point. She releases her muscles. She points the soles of her feet to the sky.

floating down for a drink

And she readies herself for a fall, knowing that it’s important to maintain the pose in the air.”

“I cannot easily suggest my style to everyone,” said Ms. Hayashi, who, like an athlete, uses therapy to learn to control her body. (Still, she did fall—and land on her jaw—once.)

You can read the whole article here and see many more of the levitation photos. Ready to start jumping yourself???

Natsumi likes defying gravity inside the picture

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Spicing Up Your Tennis Game

Federer and Nadal play tennis in Dubai

Kate St.Hilaire sent me a link to 25 photos of sports being played in unusual places, like a basketball court on an aircraft carrier and a soccer field on a Tokyo rooftop. Here are three of the sites related to my favorite sports, even though the tennis courts are strictly humorous publicity stunts for Roger and Rafa. Amusing to me is that one of the sites is the portable squash court in New York’s Grand Central Station…I went there for a match and didn’t think it was unusual at all!

Squash in Gaza

Tennis in Qatar

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Will Wearing Greek Yogurt Give You Great Abs?

In a lazy world, great abs like these would result just by eating the yogurt marketed in the ad

Why am I laughing at myself? I eat a Greek NON-FAT yogurt every day. And this story, sent to me by Stefan Pinto (whom I have written about in the past), makes me wonder if I have just fallen for the hype! Greek yogurt sales are way up, but the product is almost double the price of other brands. I began eating it when my cholesterol count rose too high from regular yogurt. Stefan is the man in the ad, and he does have great abs. And I do think the zero-fat Greek yogurt tastes better than the others. Will I develop abs like Stefan’s if I just eat the yogurt he is wearing? Here are excerpts from the story he sent me.

Greek yogurt, overall, has had one of the fastest growth spurts the food and beverage industry has seen in recent history. In each of the last three years, sales of Greek yogurt have boomed more than 100%, while non-Greek yogurt has crept along at single-digit speeds, according to consumer data tracker Nielsen.

Sales at yogurt maker Chobani Inc. — which claims nearly half of the Greek yogurt market share in the U.S. — soared 2,812% in 2008 alone, according to a report from UBS Investment Research. Greek yogurt now hauls in more than $1 billion in revenue a year in the U.S. — about a quarter of total yogurt sales.

Yogurt of all types is the food trend of the decade, according to research firm NPD Group. Not only is it popular with young adults because it’s perceived as being healthful, it’s also a prominent ingredient in some ethnic cuisines that are increasingly gaining a foothold in the U.S.

Greek-yogurt makers have marketed themselves effectively, analysts said. Danone’s Oikos brand featured actor John Stamos in its Super Bowl ads. Voskos ran print advertisements featuring the rippling, yogurt-slathered muscles of fitness expert Stefan Pinto.

Greek yogurt isn’t known for being particularly tasty and is sometimes 90% more expensive than other yogurts, according to the UBS report.

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Youngest Racket Sport Player I’ve Heard About

Jason Doornick sent in this video of the youngest player ever in a racket sport. Just check out the first few seconds to see what it takes to be great in sport.

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A Week At The Gym

This came in from a high school classmate, Stephanie Logan Kennedy. So perfect for me with my history of not being disciplined…until recently…

If you read this without laughing out loud, there is something wrong with you. This is dedicated to everyone who ever attempted to get into a regular workout routine.

Dear Diary,

For my birthday this year, my Husband (the dear) purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me. Although I am still in great shape since being a high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try. I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Christo, who identified himself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear. My husband seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started. The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.
____________________­____________
MONDAY:
Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Christo waiting for me. He is something of a Greek god – with blond hair, dancing eyes and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!! Christo gave me a tour and showed me the machines. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which he conducted his aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring! Christo was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time he was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!!
____________________­__________
TUESDAY:
I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Christo made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air then he put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. His rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT!! It’s a whole new life for me.
____________________­___________
WEDNESDAY:
The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn’t try to steer or stop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Young Ordinary Athlete Makes Surprising Catch

Surprising moment at the Australian Open the other night during the match between Nadal and Federer.

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Nancy Upton’s Plus-Sized Photo Protest

Nancy Upton pigs out to protest contest for overweight women

Here’s a cute story. A clothing company called American Apparel starts selling large-sized clothes for plus-sized women. The company invites big women to submit pictures of themselves that will be voted on by the public. Whoever gets the most votes will be given a free trip to Los Angeles and a professional photo shoot. But AA does it in such a demeaning, obnoxious way that one large woman, actress Nancy Upton gets real annoyed. She has pictures of herself taken bathing in salad dressing, overeating sloppily, food all over her face, posing like a stuffed pig with an apple in her mouth, dressed like a gluttonous trollop etc.

She does this as a protest. BUT SHE WINS THE CONTEST. Of course AA rejects the popular vote and chooses another “winner.” Nevertheless, in a culture that worships thinness, these photos are worth showing.

Now here are some excerpts from the Village Voice article and the Daily Beast article by Nancy about this hilarious and unlikely episode.

can you see why she won the popular vote?

Nancy in salad dressing

It was kind of fun but also kind of gross. I totally threw up afterwards. In the process of eating all that different food—a lot of the stuff I really was eating, you know. I had all this ranch dressing in my mouth, Hershey’s syrup all over me. There was definitely artistic intent as well…

But this contest—I read it and two nights later I’m lying in bed, like, “Those assholes.” I finally put my finger on why I couldn’t get this “contest” out of my head: American Apparel was going to try to use one fat girl as a symbol of apology and acceptance to a demographic it had long insisted on ignoring, while simultaneously having that girl (and a thousand other girls) shill their products…

I’m lambasting:

What they probably think of fat women. It comes from American Apparel’s history of treating women like a piece of meat.

The blatant, sloppy attempt to lazily win over the hearts of women who, because of their size, already face daily struggles to defend their looks and physical behavior.

The insinuation that the only way a fat girl could win a “beauty contest” was if a company with American Apparel’s street cred deemed it hip or fashionable.

The idea that someone must be a “fan of full-sized fannies” to even recognize a redeeming quality in women size 12 or above.

The unstated yet apparent belief that fat women can’t be noticed on their own merits.

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Humorous Thoughts From An Overweight Senior

1. Now that food has replaced sex in my life, I can’t even get into my own pants.

2. I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose fitting clothing.
If I HAD any loose fitting clothing, I wouldn’t have signed up in the first place!

3. Wouldn’t you know it….Brain cells come and brain cells go, but FAT cells live forever.

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Former “Fatso” Ed Koch Writes Kid’s Book Promoting Healthy Eating

fat Eddie Koch book character

This article by former NY City Mayor Ed Koch is based on his growing up as a chubby kid called “fatso.” Ed describes his early years as painful and resigned, but lost 30 pounds to run for Mayor. Now he has co-written a children’s book about good diet and exercise. It’s all very basic, the kind of suggestions this site believes in completely, and it’s nice to hear the mayor joining in with a message sent out by Michelle Obama’s program and hundreds of well-meaning fitness and fat-loss groups promoting wellness.

I also relate to the caption of one illustration that says: “These pants must have shrunk in the wash,” young Eddie thought. It’s exactly what I said in high school, when my pants were tight. But I never made this funny statement: “I still believe, as I said when I was mayor, that a qualifying Fire Department test for men and women should be, can you carry a 210-pound mayor out of a second-story building?”

“What I hope they walk away with is that it’s possible to avoid being the subject of derision or being an outcast simply by leading a healthy life with a healthy diet. It will cause you enormous pain if you let yourself get obese,” added Mr. Koch, whose childhood photos show him as a bit stocky, if not flat-out fat by today’s standards. “You’re not going to worry about it when you’re young, but if it continues, it can shorten your life. You want to have a family, you don’t want to leave them prematurely, and while it’s very unfair, many people in deciding who they’re going to hire will make a decision which includes weight.”

Eddie Shapes Up tells the story of an overweight young boy who hates recess because he is an easy target in dodge ball, tosses the carrot sticks and apple his mother packed for lunch in favor of a classmate’s potato chips, and declares, “I know I’ll never be thin, so I might as well eat what I like and as much as I like.”

But a friend advises Eddie: “Everybody has a different kind of body. What’s important is being healthy and in good shape.”

“Another tip for kids who want to eat between meals,” Mr. Koch added. “I eat sugar snap peas kept in the fridge. I also eat a lot more fish than I did and rarely, but occasionally as a treat, have a big rib steak. Everything else in moderation.

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How To Improve Your Skiing And Snowboarding

My son has a great idea, and two years later he is much closer to realizing it: a penguin hat! But it’s not a hat for penguins. It’s a stuffed penguin on a hat for humans. Quite cute. He has a great sense of humor and works sometimes for The Onion and the Comedy Channel.

I know it’s quite a stretch to include this video and link about how to improve your winter sport experience, but I am sure you will forgive me. You can learn more about the hat and how you might buy one if you go to here .

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Unexpected Pals—Gym Rat’s Rat

A friend sent me this, and I thought you might enjoy it too.

big and small. no great dane here...

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Dying Happily From Eating British Foods

Back home at last yesterday and thrilled to be here after 11 days in England and Scotland, visiting daughter studying in London. The food was good, but terrible for me. The sights and evening entertainments were fun, but I had no time to play sports or exercise (one hour in a gym doesn’t count for me anymore…neither does 2-3 hours walking daily in the streets or up and down stairs at castles). I became very grumpy!

Today I played three hours of tennis and feel better already. Had a protein drink, ate less and healthier food, drank more water without fearing I couldn’t find a water closet (toilet)…

Here are some amusing food anecdotes that demonstrate why it is so hard to travel and eat right. I was dining in restaurants, where both countries offer big portions with much meat, fat, butter, cream and cheese. Also thrown in is a fourth meal—the afternoon “tea” with scones, clotted cream (1 oz has 15 grams of fat and 45 mg of cholesterol), sandwiches and all kinds of desserts and pastries. Scotland has the least healthy food in Europe and the highest incidence of heart attacks. Unfortunately, I like the way it all tastes. In the states, my system is to keep luscious, but unhealthy foods out of the house, so I am rarely tempted.

typical Scottish breakfast—Haggis, Orkney black pudding, organic Tamworth pig sausages, bacon and eggs.

As usual I made it a point to ask for my breakfast eggs WITHOUT yolks to minimize the cholesterol intake and blockage to my arteries. So imagine how startled I was to discover that the chef had added double cream to the egg whites to give them more flavor! Delicious. I forgot to say no cream the next time. The third time I ordered eggs, I remembered to say no yolks and NO CREAM. This time they arrived a pleasant yellow from all the butter that had been added. Hopeless. One of the meals I finally remembered to say: no yolks, just whites, no cream, no butter, just olive oil, please. Of course by that time I was in Scotland eating haggis and black pudding with the eggs. I felt like the obese man who has three desserts at one meal and then boasts that he takes his coffee without sugar to avoid calories.

What’s that? You don’t know what haggis is? One of life’s great treats that is illegal to import into America. I love it. Haggis is a dish containing sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal’s stomach for approximately three hours. Haggis was memorialized as the national dish of Scotland by Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis in 1787. Since 1971 it has been illegal to import haggis into the USA from the UK due to a ban on food containing sheep lung, which constitutes 10 to 15% of the traditional recipe. So you have to go there to eat it…or seek out a homemade version at a Scottish festival in the states.

Black pudding is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. The dish exists in various cultures from Asia to America. Pig, cattle, sheep, duck and goat blood can be used depending on different countries. I suppose what I ate was made from sheep’s blood. Sound good enough to eat? I love this dish too. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I can’t believe either of these foods is low in cholesterol.

At the airport in Edinburgh, I ordered some vegetable soup with fish in it. It came completely white from solid cream. The waiter lied and claimed there was no cream in it. His boss said at least it wasn’t double cream. Before I had to watch my cholesterol intake, I lived on cheese for much of my protein. Those were the days. I probably tried all 200 varieties at the Fairway specialty food store in my Manhattan neighborhood. On this trip I went into two different cheese stores and smelled the aromas, drooled on some of the cheeses and had lots of regrets about this real negative of aging.

At least I am still alive and chasing tennis balls and skiing without too much pain. But what a sacrifice. I drowned my remorse with white chocolates after some meals and the free fudge squares offered at the hotel’s reception desk. If it’s in front of me or in the house…I eat it. No will power when I travel and can’t avoid the food thrown at me. I know, I know: “Life is short. You won’t die from two weeks of bad diet. Stop being neurotic.” My overweight friends who tell me that are correct. But after being used to 10 hours a week of cardio from active tennis playing, I was worse than a wild animal trapped in a cage…I was like an athlete in an iron maiden.

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Practicing With Better Players Is Supposed To Improve Your Game

Ira (in blue) with three top squash players—Ryan Thompson (left), Zack Wilkinson and Gustav Detter (far right)

Here is a true, amusing story that proves practice doesn’t always make you perfect right away…at least not for me.

I went to a squash clinic this morning and hit with four players. First was a warm up on the only court with a single—it was 10-year-old Zack Wilkinson. I held my own. Then the coach of the Millbrook School in upstate New York, Greg Reiss, who had arranged the clinic, took me on for points. I did ok, won a few, returned a lot. Then I hit with my friend, Gustav Detter, one of two top squash players there for an exhibition who was 4th best in college squash his senior year at Trinity. (You can read about him below.) It’s a joy to hit with an athlete of his caliber. Just returning a shot and making a point is exquisitely satisfying.

After taking a breather, while Greg stepped onto the court with Gustav, I asked Zack if he wanted to play a game. I was finally ready for him, and watching three days of Trinity winning the nationals last weekend assured me that I could play better in competition. I had the wisdom that comes from watching the national champions and their opponents. I had new strategies. And I had just rehearsed with two superior athletes.

I lost 5-11. Blonde smiling Zack is three fourths my size, and one seventh my age, but he could place the ball too far away. Thank goodness I have no pride in these matters.

Then we watched Gustav play professional Ryan Thompson from Namibia, South Africa, who coaches at St. George’s School in Newport, RI and has ranked as high as #136 in the world. Gustav recently won the Swedish Nationals for the first time and was in really good shape. The match was sensational. Though less than 50 people were in attendance, the level of play was breathtaking. The athletes were holding nothing back. It came down to a fifth game, and Gustav was in danger of losing. Twice he faced match points, but held on and won 13-11. He told me later, when I asked, that the pressure does not bother him, because he has been in that position so often.

After everyone left, I practiced until a Millbrook School sophomore arrived. We hit for half an hour and then we played one game. I lost 7-11. A real improvement. Felipe Pantle is there as a result of the City Squash program. He is a very strong player. He is 15 years old. I have a long way to go…

Now here is some exciting background about Gustav:

A four-time All-American, Detter left Trinity with a 65-11 career record. Detter played most of the 2009 season at the number 2 position, compiling a 17-2 record and finishing the season ranked number four in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Some Benefits Of Exercise You Hadn’t Thought About

Here is another NYTimes article that promises the fountain of youth if you just drink some exercise. It’s based on research of mice that is supposedly and hopefully extrapolatory to humans.

Even before I began this site, I was certain that exercise is good for your health. Seems so obvious, even if I couldn’t make myself do regular exercise in past decades. Lots of good excuses. So now I am going to give you incredible excerpts from this article that should make even the youngest person motivated to do something active many times a week. And I am not making fun of the evidence in the article, nor its author, Gretchen Reynolds. I just can’t help finding the humor in some of these conclusions.

“…While Dr. Tarnopolsky, a lifelong athlete, noted with satisfaction that active, aged mice kept their hair, his younger graduate students were far more interested in the animals’ robust gonads. Their testicles and ovaries hadn’t shrunk, unlike those of sedentary elderly mice.

Dr. Tarnopolsky’s students were impressed. “I think they all exercise now,” he said…

By the time they reached 8 months, or their early 60s in human terms, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. Listless, they barely moved around their cages. All were dead before reaching a year of age.

Except the mice that exercised.

Half of the mice were allowed to run on a wheel for 45 minutes three times a week, beginning at 3 months. These rodent runners were required to maintain a fairly brisk pace, Dr. Tarnopolsky said: “It was about like a person running a 50- or 55-minute 10K.” (A 10K race is 6.2 miles.) The mice continued this regimen for five months.

At 8 months, when their sedentary lab mates were bald, frail and dying, the running rats remained youthful. They had full pelts of dark fur, no salt-and-pepper shadings. They also had maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume. Their gonads were normal, as were their hearts. They could balance on narrow rods, the showoffs…

Other studies, including a number from Dr. Tarnopolsky’s own lab, have also found that exercise affects the course of aging, but none has shown such a comprehensive effect. And precisely how exercise alters the aging process remains unknown…

Although there is probably a threshold amount of exercise that is necessary to affect physiological aging, Dr. Tarnopolsky said, “anything is better than nothing.” If you haven’t been active in the past, he continued, start walking five minutes a day, then begin to increase your activity level.”

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Johnny McEntee’s Tricks Throwing A Football

Here is a link to a video I couldn’t embed. So just click on it. This college kid has a skill throwing a football that is pretty amazing and at targets not in a game. Very amusing and impressive…

Johnny McEntee's football passing tricks

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The Dangers Of Posing Shirtless In Public Media

Representative Chris Lee, 46, of New York, caught in the midst of a scandal involving a shirtless photo he reportedly e-mailed to a woman, has resigned from Congress.

Congressman Chris Lee should have sent his photo to this site instead

Mr. Lee’s decision to step down came after a photo of him without a shirt appeared on Gawker along with e-mail exchanges that reportedly took place between him and a woman who had placed a personal notice in the “women seeking men” section of Craigslist.

In one of the e-mails, Mr. Lee describes himself as a lobbyist who is a “fit fun, classy guy.”

Mr. Lee also tells the woman that he is divorced, although he is “happily” married. What was he thinking? Was he thinking? How did he get elected?

When the woman asks him if he routinely sends shirtless photos of himself, Mr. Lee responds, “Sorry, it’s all I had.” Couldn’t he take a mobile photo of himself in a suit with a tie? I don’t get it…definitely destructive…some part of me feels sorry for the guy. Do you?

Maybe we should be on the lookout for more guys who post shirtless photos of themselves. Be wary…

By the way, this was a Raymond Hernandez story on the front page of the New York Times online edition!

In fact if you really want a laugh, read the comments. Here are some I selected:

Well, you gotta give it to him, he does have pretty decent abs for a guy his age…

Why did he step down? His body looks pretty good in that picture.

What’s the problem? He looks perfectly nice with his shirt off.

thats crazy, i need to read more on this. did she not want the
picture? If it was only with his shirt off. Redicullous

He should get hired by an NFL team where pictures above the waistline are perfectly fine.
— Shirtless in Seattle.

He would have gotten into a lot less trouble if he had worn a blue shirt.

Well at least he still looks good.

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Why Hunting Is A Dangerous Sport

So much for being the hunter, rather than the hunted

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Where I Got These Abs

Here is a funny article from the current New Yorker magazine by Bob Odenkirk:

You are probably wondering where I got these amazing abs. They’re so ripply and rock hard, they’re difficult to fathom. If I were a character on a reality show about me and my middle-aged acquaintances, I might be nicknamed the Conundrum, in reference to these abs of mine. See, the abs don’t match the visage. My perturbed, puffy face sets you up for a blubbery gut. But then you see these abs, stacked like bricks, clearly delineated, and you have to ask, “Does he work out for two or three hours a day, or does he just work out all day?” Or perhaps you think I purchased them from a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. My secret is simple—dynamic tension! Constant dynamic tension. Tension that is tense, and dynamic, and never-ending—the best kind of tension there is! I have analyzed each ab and where it draws its tension from so that you, too, can get the abs you’ve always dreamed of!

The ab on the upper right is taut and sinewy thanks to middle school. Specifically, the effort of trying to get my two kids placed in a topnotch middle school. Filling out forms, attending open houses, prepping for interviews, taking the entrance exams—it’s a lot of work, and I am there every step of the way, standing behind them, leaning over their shoulders, looking down (that’s what tightens the ab), swallowing hard (also good for the ab), and clenching and unclenching my fists (good for the fists). Thanks, kids—Dad loves you and Dad loves the ab you’ve given him.

The middle right ab bulges handsomely thanks to talk radio. I simply tune in to conservative talkers when I am driving, and my screaming at the host tightens this ab for an extended, uninterrupted rep. Plus, disagreeing with someone on the radio gives me that powerless, overwhelmed feeling I’ve become addicted to. It’s better than a drug, because you get the abs! Read the rest of this entry »

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