Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Self-improvement Update

What has become of my three self-improvement goals, mentioned earlier this month, that of, running, pranayama, and plant identification?

The running program hasn't really happened, although I ran a few times a quarter mile to the store, and also on the way back from the recycle dumpster, but other than that, my only cardio has been from cycling at least ten miles, two or three times a week, and walking at least a mile every day. The allergies have been killing me. I must have sneezed 50 times today, the worst allergy day ever.

The pranayama, or any yoga for that matter, also hasn't happened. Just haven't felt up to it. I'm feeling really out of balance, sneezing all the time, feeling like shit.

Oh, but I'm still doing the pushups, though it's tapered off a bit, I still remind myself to do at least two or three sets every other day of five to ten pushups. I won't be satisfied until I have the strength to do 50 or more in one set. I know it's possible. Just as I know I have the ability to run 1.5 miles in ten minutes. I'm not there yet, far from it, in fact running 1.5 miles at all without stopping, is in itself still not something I'm able to do, but that's only because I haven't been putting the time into it. Haven't been feeling up to it. I know what I can do. Know when it is a mistake to push myself, know that when I'm feeling like this, it would probably kill me.

What I have been having success with is the plant identification. I've been spending a lot of time with that, checked out a couple of southwest plant identification field guides, and bookmarked several websites devoted to the matter, learning about desert trees, shrubs, cacti, weeds, and flowers. I haven't made a whole day of it yet, but it's been something I've been focusing intensely on for over a month now, looking through my guidebooks, paying attention to the plants around me a little at a time, and today I finally, as in what the hell took me so long?, identified the tree next to my patio, the one that had been damaged on new year's day by a winter storm. I had misidentified it before, going by someone else's opinion of what it was, which turned out to be wrong.

Well, I identified it conclusively, and it is what is called a Gooding's Willow, also known as Western Black Willow, native to the Southwest, found only in some parts of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, a tiny section of Colorado, and all over Arizona. Like most, maybe all?, willow trees, the inner bark is edible, used as a pain reliever, and is the source for the discovery of the active ingredient in aspirin. It's known as a riparian tree, which means it usually grows near rivers, and is found at an elevation between 2000 and 8000 feet. Its flowers are also a major allergen, could it be why I'm sneezing all the time? Not sure, but I think it's probably a variety of causes.

For some reason I was having a hard time remembering its name of Gooding's Willow, but I've developed a mnemonic device, that of associating the tree with the actor Cuba Gooding Jr. Seems to have done the trick.

I'm thinking I'm going to photograph all the plants I identify, and even though that information is already out there, and I probably wouldn't be contributing anything new to it, for my own purposes, that of helping me retain what I learn, I think I'm going to create a blog to document my plant identification education. Taking photos of the plants, and copying most of the scientific information about it from the guidebook.

The whole point is to get out there, learn these things, and keep a record of it. I'll put a link up eventually. The blog doesn't even exist yet. Though can't see it being of much interest to the readers of this blog, but if by chance there is a huge gap between posts, where it may be weeks before an update, it gives you something, let's you know something about what I've been up to, still having some kind of online presence. Also, feel free to lurk on my goodreads profile, for checking out some of the latest books I've read. I don't write reviews there, but it still might point you in the direction of some new reading material, and maybe you'll find something you like.

As much as I hate the hot summer's here, in a way I'm also looking forward to the monsoon season, looking forward to the rain, the lightning storms, and all the lush vegetation and exotic creatures that surface that time of year. Really eager to get outside and explore, and looking forward to documenting this project.

That's all for now.

No comments: