First Things First

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The Building Blocks of Society

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It’s early afternoon and I’m stopped in traffic en route to the Weight Room (what else is new?). I miss the days when my workout was complete by this hour, just a glowing memory of shifting a stupendous stack of scrappy steel from nowhere to no place and back again... in the gym, under the iron, over the steel, across the bench, up the stack, down the rack and out of there... see ya later. 

The rest of the days were a cool breeze ‘cuz I’d detoxified the system, enlivened the spirits, fortified the disciplines, built some muscle and power and expressed myself boldly before the still slumbering world. A wholesome process, humbling and prideful and nourishing.

I live, I lift, I ache, I am.   

Oh, well, good while it lasted, the better portion of my life. Now, it’s to the foundry when I get myself together and my energy and will are at their peak -- midday, thrice a week. I grab what I can when I should with two greedy arthritic fists. Truth is, it feels better than ever and gets the job done.

And what job is that exactly, the ever-searching and wondering among you ask. For starters, the job includes sparing the remnants of fading muscle, adding hope to the lingering heap, bamboozling deadly stress, arousing a sense of purpose, agitating pooling blood, kicking the grim reaper in his skinny butt and sharpening my math skills as the sets, reps and weights are calculated.

Oh, yeah... last but not least, putting a smile on the kisser and sunshine in the heart and a bead of hard-earned sweat on the end of the nose.
 
Phooey! I’ve been here for 10 minutes because of an elaborate construction project on the corner: cement trucks beeping as they back up, guys in hardhats scaling scaffolds, swaying stud-walls stretching skyward and a dauntless helmeted fellow sporting a chartreuse vest, a walkie-talkie and a red sign that says Stop.
 
Who, me? Ah, what the heck, why not... everyone else is... besides, the Highway Patrol is stationed at the crossing with his motor running.

The pause allows me time to study an eight-foot by eight­-foot billboard that describes and illustrates the grand project underway. When construction started six months ago, I thought it was a select and pricey marketplace. Then, as the building developed and the economy didn’t, I thought it was a much-needed emergency medical building. Today, six weeks later and after extravagant federal legislation, I suspect it’s a complex of law offices.

Wrong as usual. Get this: it’s the Santa Cruz County Community Philanthropic Center. You think I’m kidding, don’t you? No way. I can’t make this stuff up. I lack the imagination, the creativity, the comic, the cynicism, the Tom-foolery. I’m drop-dead serious.
 
They could put a gym on the land and it would be a lot more sensible. Then there’s Mom ‘n Pop’s Late Night Bingo Parlor and Striptease, or a 24-Hour Hot Dog, Donut and Beer Emporium, Patty Pilgrim’s Raccoon Hat Shop and Marijuana Boutique... anything but a county philanthropic organization.

The color illustration depicts a dynamic three-story, angle-walled, sky-lighted, tall-windowed, wrap-around-balconied artistic extravaganza with underground parking and a stunning fountain in the courtyard. What were they thinking? The structure, the edifice, the monument -- The Center -- will house offices for the County’s PTT, “Philanthropic Think Tank.” Their purpose: to direct the flow of major donations to the arts, sciences and fuzzy-wuzzy community projects.
 
Barf! The community’s broke, the city’s broke, the county’s broke, the state’s broke, the people are broke and I’m out of patience and losing my pump. The world is crashing around me and I desperately need a barbell. Who thought of this one? It wasn’t Arnold, that’s for sure. He’d have gone with the gym, a modest concrete-block structure filled with iron. I’d have helped him. We’d be done by now and blasting it like the good old days.

You want something for nothing? Later, dude! Push that iron, lift that steel.

Is this part of the Stimulus Package? Nevermind, I do not want to know. My pacemaker is already twitching.

At last, traffic’s moving and I nod at the CHP officer -- howdy -- and floor it as I slip onto the freeway. Curls sound great, presses and pulldowns mixed with nuts and chocolate chips and covered with rich and creamy bent-over rows. Let me at ’em. Sometimes it’s worth a detour to develop an appetite.

And it’s worth a distant journey to discover the way. I’ve covered a lot of road to map the direction to train as I please. Endless hours of precise and ordered routines attentively varied over the decades and under the persistent and watchful eye of the most ardent taskmaster, DD (Dilbert Dimwitty), led this compact, one-man survival team across valleys, hills and plains.

Now, I enter ye old muscle mill and do as I wish and do as I will. That doesn’t make me a wisecracker or a slouch. And it doesn’t mean I do what I do without strain, pain and thoroughness. Whatever the improvised scheme of movements might be, it’s tight and it’s right. And, yes, the weight used is light, though the force remains a fight of might.

Get the hook, men! He’s losing it.

Aging is a plight, quite a scary sight, the height of fright, especially at night under shadowy light.

Man the net... ready the padded cell...

Three workouts this week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Here’s what went down, a scant and sexy outline (children under five forbidden):

Monday

Rope tucks supersetted with incline leg raises (4x 35 reps) -- dumbbell inclines from low to steep supersetted with seated lat rows (5x 12, 10, 8 reps) -- cable crossovers supersetted with vigorous truck pushes aplenty (5x 12, 10, 8) -- one-arm side-arm lateral raises (5x 12, 10, 8) -- bar-across-knees wrist curls (4x 12 reps)

Wednesday

Hanging leg raises supersetted with hyperextensions (4x 15-20 reps) -- leg extensions and curls and Bodymaster squats (4x 12, 10, 8 reps) with plentiful and hardy truck pushes between sets -- stiff-arm dumbbell pullovers supersetted with machine dips (4x 10-12 reps)

Friday

Rope tucks supersetted with incline leg raises (4x 35 reps) -- Smith front press supersetted with widegrip pulldowns (5x 10-12 reps) -- one-arm dumbbell rows and fluffy machine dips (4x 12, 10, 8, 6 reps)

Bim, bam, boom.

Looks like bis and tris are a priority next week. Wise old men cannot do it all in one week, my son. And neither can I. But what we do, boy and girls, we do good.

God loves us, bombers... we press on... DD

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