Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Six Proustian Strategies to Enhance the Walking Experience

Photo: The Eyes of Marcel Proust

Journal Entry: Weight = 173.6 lbs; Coinage = $1.46

Feature Entry: Six Proustian Strategies to Enhance the Walking Experience

It is nearly impossible to read novels from the 19th and early 20th century without fully understanding the important role of walking in the everyday social and working life of the citizens of the times. Marcel Proust, the precursor of the modern novelists, also left his mark on modern psychology. What follows are six Proustian strategies to enhance the walking experience.

1. Pay attention to the experiences and sensations of the walk.
2. Live in the moment, not forwever wed to a “search for lost time.”
3. Embrace a free flowing stream of consciousness.
4. Be a servant of the walk, not its master.
5. Allow the visual flow of the now to involuntarily cue memories of the past.
6. Seek walking experiences, or during the walk, reframe previous experiences that lead to an eureka moment: ”I never saw the world in the same way afterwards.”

Or, just walk!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Katrina Walk Five Years Later

Mid-City New Orleans after the levees were breeched, photo provided by Michael Riege

Journal Entry: Weight = none taken, the co-ed baby shower (a boy) given by Ms MoneyWalker and daughter MoneyWalker for daughter-in-law MoneyWalker was to mammoth in terms of rich food-- couldn’t face the transparency; Coinage = $2.05; Ground Scores = 5 including an excellent pair of heavy duty battery jumper cables.

Feature Entry: A Katrina Walk Five Years Later

Today marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Because of multiple breaches in New Orleans’s levee system, 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded. More than 1,500 people lost their lives in our city. The MoneyWalker’s residence had more than five feet of water on the ground floor. What made this flood even more costly was New Orleans’s unique topography, much of the city is below flood level. In normal times, we keep the waters pushed back with elaborate levees and electric pumps. When the levees failed and the electric infrastructure stopped working, there was no place for the water to go. So it stayed, just putrefying in our homes from September 1 until October 4, the first day we were allowed to return. Our first floor was surreal, a scene from a horror movie could not have been more sobering. It took that long for levee repairs and portable generators to pump out the water. The recall still brings tears as these words are being typed. Ms. MoneyWalker and I wheeled out more than a thousand wheel barrow loads of water logged possessions, many treasures of a lifetime. We were not able to return as residents until March more than six months later. That was the month that electricity was restored to our block.

All of the memories came back on this morning’s walk.

Katrina walks are somber.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spiritual Walking

Photo: (self)The Sicilian donkey is highly prized by some Catholic practitioners because of the "cross of Jesus" that appears down the back and across the shoulders. My neighbor paid $3,000 dollars for this champion donkey. Note: for this edition, the journal entries are at end of blog

Feature Entry: Spiritual Walking

After several years of walking for fitness and weight control and using the pleasure of finding money and other objects of value as external motivation, many friends, relatives, and blog followers report to me their walking motives and habits. Many report taking advantage of nature hiking to connect with their idea of the Supreme Creator. Similarly, several report that they meditate and pray while walking. More specifically, some seek Spiritual guidance for their problems. Some have actual conversations.

In the MoneyWalker’s bio sketch, he list “Fiddler on the Roof” as one of his three favorite movies. Most of us remember Tevye, the poor Jewish father of those beautiful daughters, the ones that kept breaking Tevye’s traditions if not his heart. Tevye walked from necessity and often used the time to talk to God, nearly always with sarcasm:
• [to God] Sometimes I wonder, when it gets too quiet up there, if you are thinking, "What kind of mischief can I play on my friend Tevye?"
• [to God] It may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. After all, with Your help, I'm starving to death. Oh, dear Lord. You made many poor people. I realize, of course, it's no shame to be poor... but it's no great honor either. So what would be so terrible... if I had a small fortune?
• [to God] I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else?
The MoneyWalker has some of Tevye’s cynicism, but he can easily tear-up to this great Christian hymn: “Today I Walked Where Jesus Walked, I Felt His Presence There.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a poem with the same line but takes it further:
Today I walked where Jesus walked, today I walked where Job had walked,
Today I walked with Nephi, Today I walked where Abraham walked,
Today I believed I was nothing in their eyes, today they walked with me.
The MoneyWalker’s thoughts about Spiritual walking were stimulated by a request to be a guest Bible Study teacher last Sunday. The topic dealt with reconciliation of fractured relationships. This blog started out to be about the reconciliation of we dieters/exercisers with our January 1 resolutions. We will do it another time. In the mean time, if you have a fractured relationship with your resolution, practice or re-initiate the big four—weigh every day, eat a healthy breakfast, exercise, and be careful with food portions and selections.

Oh, don’t be afraid to ask for a little Divine intervention.


Journal Entry August 19, 2010: Weight = 170.0 lbs; Coinage = $.31. Alas, the Jefferson Davis Car Wash Vacuum mine is running dry. Still no locks. Maybe Jason has hired a new manager who keeps the vacuums clean and neat. Back to finding coins the old fashioned way with hard scans and clever hunches.

Journal Entry: August 18, 2010: Weight = 170.2 lbs.; Coinage = $.50; Observation = 12 school buses lined in a queue—summer vacation is over.

Journal Entry: August 17, 2010: Coinage = $1.11; Weight = 169.0 lbs. Observation = Undercover police raid that appeared to be a false alarm. The MoneyWalker passed right through the thrones of police on the street.

August 16: Weight = 170.0; Coinage = $.35

August 15: Weight = 170.2; Coinage = $4.90, quarters were found everywhere including a super find in a newspaper vending machine, four in the return slot; then in the next machine over, another quarter; then four more “curb quarters.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

The MoneyWalker finds a $1 Coin: The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005

Journal Entry: 8-13-10: Weight = 172.8 lbs, $10.35 coinage including a John Q. Adams $1.00 coin. Source for the large find was a nice run of “curb quarters” on the way to Canal Blvd. Car Wash. Jason’s boys had just dumped their vacuum canisters in a way that led to easy access of the loot. Of course it was handled stealthy at 6:30 a.m.

Feature Entry: The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005

Who knew? Starting in 2007, the United States Mint issued four Presidential $1 coins which featured Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. The Coin Act (PL 109-145) has as its purpose the revitalization of classic designs for US coins. Four presidents a year are being released in the order in which the Presidents served.

Until the MoneyWalker found the coin on this morning’s walk, the new coinage program had escaped me completely. The coin is striking, but one thing is disappointing. The coins use “edge-incused inscription” which means that the year of minting, the classic “E Pluribus Unum”, and “In God We Trust,” and the mint mark are on the edge rather that the face. Without a strong glass, the inscriptions can’t be read. Too bad!

There are other components of the act such as commemorative coins of the wives of the presidents. To read more:


Remember, it is not the coins but the calories!!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Culture of Walking: Less Fat, More Lean

Journal Entry: August 10,2010: Weight = 169.4 lbs; Coinage = $2.12 including two super finds in one walk (A super find is .50 or more in one location excluding car wash vacuum stations).

Feature Entry: The Culture of Walking: Less Fat, More Lean

Recently the MoneyWalker has been obsessed with discussions about fat and weight loss. In a forthcoming blog he will delve into the weighty issues (pun intended) of animal fat, trans fat, saturated fat, non-animal fat, artificial fat, non-saturated fat, fat grams and much much more. But not now! Instead, we will ramble on about the "lean" of walking; or, if you will, the culture of walking. Much of the content was inspired by Geoff Nicholson and his book The Lost Art Of Walking.

“A walk is never equally fascinating for its whole length.” The MoneyWalker usually takes 90 minute walks. In that period long stretches are uneventful but in 90 minutes the observant walker will witness amazing things. The same is true of finding money, long stretches often occur with nothing only to be followed with finds of multiple coins. One must be a "determined walker."

“I walk hard in the streets.” “You can’t walk as well when you get older.” “I’m very smart in the street.” The MoneyWalker still “zooms” when he walks, but not as fast or as “hard” as even one year ago. The big 70 is still a year or two away, but closing fast. As the years continue to mount, he is beginning to allow experience to compensate for reaction time in order to be safe on the street.

“Insouciance is certainly part of the perfect walk.” Whether one walks for pleasure, fitness, or in pursuit of ground scores, he or she must feel safe, unconcerned,and secure. Mostly the MoneyWalker feels safe about the walking environment, but there are times and situations that brings the hair on his neck in full lert. The solution, quickly move to safety.

Is walking a religious experience? “It may be pleasurable and worth doing, it may stop you from getting depressed, but in the end it’s just a walk. Why should you want it to be more?”

“When William Wordsworth was in the throes of composition he would stride up and down the garden path outside his home in Grasmere; walking and writing had for him become synonymous. And I do believe that there’s some fundamental connection between walking and writing.” The MoneyWalker’s attention during walking is usually divided between two things—searching for coins and semi-composing his next blog. In two plus weeks New Orleans will remember the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. My family found solace from these fine Wordsworth lines:
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of Splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind. (Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations)


Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Weight Loss Plateau: A Dissection of a Failed Blog

Journal Entry: Weight = 168.6 lbs.; Coinage = $1.29.

Feature Entry: The Weight Loss Plateau: The dissection of a Failed Blog

The MoneyWalker has just pulled the plug on a failed blog. After spending several hours of research and writing (550 words), he called it quits. The topic attempted to compare a motor learning concept with a weight loss concept. In motor learning, early success when attempting to learn a novel task is often mistakenly called learning when in fact it is only the result of rearranging what has been previously learning from related or similar tasks. These latent learnings are followed by a painfully long plateau when little or no increase in performance can be plotted. The same with early weight loss success of individuals that begin a weight loss program. Initially there is great success as the lbs. seem to fall off as a result of a new more intense exercise program combined with portion control. But then even as the exercise regiment is continued and fidelity to portion control is maintained, the weight loss stops.

Two similar phenomena, but since we could not make a connection, the project was abandoned. Perhaps there is a latent component to weight loss having to do with water loss and interstitial and extrastitial liquids that comprise adipose tissue. Maybe the recently activated fat cells are easily disposed of whereas the "old hands" are resistant to being broken down just as brain cells are resistant to learning new programs if an already establish brain neuron can be retrofitted to do the trick. So in learning, if we aren't careful, we will confuse performance for learning. Similarly, when we begin a weight loss program, it might be that early in the program, we confuse weight loss with fat loss. These may be very different phenomenon.

Either way, plateaus in both tennis performance and losing weight are deal breakers. Patience with the process, a strong internal constitution, and a very effective external motivation scheme is needed to get past those pesky plateaus.

In the mean time Mr. MoneyWalker, just get over all the time spent in research trying to create a new theory of weight loss plateauing. For now, we will just settle on older ideas such as "starvation metabolism," "high metabolic efficiency," "set-point theory," "aberrant thyroid stimulation," or good old fashioned "pilot error" (the exerciser is cheating--not walking as much and not practicing portion control).

So if you hit a plateau with weight loss, keep walking, keep charting food intake, the body will eventually move off of the plateau and reward you with another stretch of happy days on the digital scales.