Monday, October 20, 2008

Ice by any other name

For a good three to four years, I managed to hit the gym on average about three times per week. That stopped last summer when I decided to put everything I had into finishing my PhD. I also gave up eating food that I either couldn't pour milk on, couldn't put on bread, or didn't contain caffeine. I did get into the gym fairly regularly during the month of July, but dropped it again in early August because of the defence, vacation, and moving.

Somehow, despite my sloth and substandard eating habits, I managed not to appear less healthy. I entertained the thought that my efforts of the preceding years were permanent, though I knew this wouldn't be the case. So I had every intention of picking it up again in September, but instead I picked up a bug that immobilized me on a bad day and would certainly have interfered with a workout of any kind on a good day.

Once classes had started, it became rare that I would actually have enough time to go over to the gym and get myself signed up. Even when I did, I thought that time would be better spend on research that I was getting behind on. One morning, I decided to stop by the gym to sign up on my way to the office. But, while my old student card was a suitable stand-in for a staff card at the library, it seems that the gym has higher standards. Something without a picture on it for identification purposes is preferred, I suppose. I went to the office in the math department to get things sorted out, but they didn't have any of the appropriate forms left. Come back later. I never did.

In retrospect, I'm not sure I could have managed a consistent enough exercise regimen. I probably could have made it there now and then, once a week maybe. But that's not enough to make a difference (I don't think), and other things certainly would have suffered. The costs would have outweighed the benefits.

The month of May should have been a good enough time to try starting again, except for the fact that I wrecked my toe so badly after moving again at the end of April that walking slowly was a challenge in and of itself[1]. Real exercise would have been impossible. For the rest of the summer, I was never in Kingston long enough, it seemed, to get into a good routine.

It took some time to settle into a work routine at RMC. I was ready to do some exercise. I asked around about membership fees. Things are different at the RMC gym (actually, CFB Kingston gym). Queen's gym offers laundry service [2]. You can walk in and get gym clothes in the size that you need, exercise, and hand back the clothes when you're done. It's not free, but not outrageous either, and it's very handy. I probably wouldn't have kept up with the exercise as long as I did if they didn't have that service. When I walked in to the RMC gym a few weeks ago to ask about prices, I also asked about laundry service, if they had anything like Queen's laundry service. No, they don't. Then I had the excuse that I didn't have anything to work out in.

Earlier tonight, I decided to take care of that excuse. I was surprised at how much you have to pay for clothes that you are buying to sweat in. I shouldn't have been, since the store I went to specialized not in sporting equipment in general, but specifically in running equipment [2]. I didn't feel like driving across the city to the nearest store that sells clothes of sufficiently low quality to make me happy. I scanned my brain for other stores nearby that might sell what I was looking for. I couldn't think of anything. I've been putting it off until the next day for long enough now, and I wasn't going to give myself another excuse. So I sucked it up, and bought the cheapest product they had that was appropriate to my needs, even though the quality is greater than what I need.

[At this point, you're probably thinking that this is supposed to be something along the lines of a motivational story. Keep reading.]

One thing that was always lacking at my workouts at Queen's was a water bottle. I could usually make it through the twenty minutes I'd spend doing one exercise without rehydrating. When I was done, I would walk over to the water fountain, drink up, and go exercise some more. It worked okay. It would have been better, though, if I had water with me the whole time. So, even though I was making every effort not to spend money on shorts, I ended up spending the difference between cheap and expensive shorts on a water bottle.

The brand name of the water bottle is Subzero. Which is a great name for the bottle, because you are NOT (all-caps theirs) supposed to put it in the freezer, where you actually find the temperatures that the bottle is named after. The bottle does not have any insulating properties either. Thus you cannot bring the contents of the bottle to subzero temperatures, nor can you maintain a subzero temperatures of anything you put in it. Of course, I did not buy it with the intention of doing either of those. I just want to keep the water from falling on the floor before I can drink it. Furthermore, the name of a product isn't required by law to be able to do what its name might suggest. If you saw a product with that name, though, wouldn't you think that it would be able to do at least one of these things?

Curiously, though the bottle is made entirely of stainless steel (the caps are plastic, but not fixed to the bottle), you are NOT (all-caps also theirs) to use it for hot beverages. Thus, if the name Subzero had been taken, names involving high temperatures would also have been appropriate.

I'm probably going to return it. Not because of the misleading name (though I never bought a Nalgene in part because the name reminds me of algae. I thought it was something you were supposed to use with your fish tank) but because when I looked around to find out why I can't put hot water in it, I found very little of use. There are many places selling them. Those sites just copied the information off of the tag. I found the distributors' site, which looks like it was designed by the kid who flunked his high school web-design project, contains no information about the product, and no link to the company that makes them. I don't ask for much in a water bottle, but I would like to buy one from a company that exists.

[Okay. So what was this post supposed to be? I'm not sure anymore. Not this long. That's one thing it was supposed to be.]

[1] I think the toe problem could have fixed itself sooner had the ER doctor I waited 3-4 hours to see spent more than 10 seconds looking at it, and realized that in order for it to heal, I needed to do more than keep my feet clean and change my socks. Oh well. Five and a half months later, and I'm still not dead. So I guess I can't complain too much.

[2] Actually, they offered "locker service". You paid for a locker or a basket. The laundry service was included. I opted for the basket, because it was cheaper, though it was entirely useless to me. They were too small to fit my shoes in, but I couldn't justify paying that extra few dollars a month, which seemed to matter more then than it does now, just so that I didn't have to carry my shoes around.

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