Wake Up & Smell The Bacon: The Unboxing

So after diligently waiting the full 8 weeks for the delivery of Oscar Mayer’s bacon-scented alarm device, it has finally arrived.  Upon opening the package, there is a generic congratulation note from Oscar Mayer’s bacon cut and design chief (whatever that means) reminding me to download their app before using the device.  Also included is a quick start guide and a nondescript black box that houses the actual device.

Distinctively lacking in any bacon-ness

Inside the black box is the dongle that produces the smell of bacon, along with a USB charging cable (didn’t expect that), and a bacon scent dropper to refill the device when it runs out.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was furiously trying to win this thing and didn’t give much thought as to how it would work, but I guess this makes the most sense.  Surprisingly the device needs to be charged before use but given that the only point of contact it has with the phone is via the headphone jack, it needs to get juiced up somehow.

Now we're baconing
Now we’re baconing

I’ll be testing just how bacon-y this modern marvel is and posting my thoughts this coming week.  I foresee myself stocking up on bacon the next time I go grocery shopping…


Taping Tuesday: Calf Pain

The calf muscle consists of three separate muscles and leads into the Achilles tendon.  The three muscles are the gastrocnemius, plantaris, and soleus.  This muscle group’s main function is plantar flexion of the foot, or the act of planting and pushing off with the foot during walking and running.  Majority of calf strains occur in the gastrocnemius part of the muscle and usually happens when jumping or suddenly changing directions.

KT Tape’s approach involves two regular strips of tape that start at the Achilles tendon and run outward both laterally and medially.  Rocktape focuses one regular strip of tape down the center of the muscle with a shorter tape that is positioned perpendicular to the first across the largest part of the muscle.  Both are effective in stabilizing and supporting the calf muscle.

Drones: The Next Step in Dog Walking?

A fellow blogger pointed me in the direction of this quite fascinating video involving a man and his dog.  And his drone.  Well, more specifically, a man’s drone and his dog.  Drones have recently exploded onto the consumer scene and are now equipped with high resolution cameras and fancy GPS tracking software.  So it makes perfect sense for people to start finding more practical uses with these expensive and high tech gadgets.

Enter dog walking.  The video below depicts an idyllic future where we are free from the burden of having to actually physically walk and interact with our pets.  Because that is just so burdensome.  I can’t imagine how a drone would be able to control a large dog that decides to chase one thing or another.  Or what about how to avoid obstacles like oncoming cars or children?  Have we gotten to a point in society where even the act of walking our pets, who oftentimes are considered a family member, is to be relegated to an autonomous unit?

As mentioned by my fellow blogger who made me aware of this video (Poseidon’s Scribe – a great resource for writers in general), he’d much rather see drone pooper scoopers.  Much more practical and useful.  Still, an interesting video, but somehow I doubt it’ll catch on.

Taping Tuesday: Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a band of ligament that connects the heel to the toes.  Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of this structure and is the most common cause of heel pain or pain in the bottom of the foot.  Athletes such as runners and basketball players frequently suffer from this condition but it can occur for a number of structural reasons.  People who have high arches, flat feet, or excessive pronation (inward roll of the foot) can all develop plantar fasciitis.

Symptoms include sharp stabbing pain that is worse when trying to  stand or walk.  Frequently, the pain is worse in the morning with the first few steps.  A common home remedy for plantar fasciitis is rolling a frozen plastic bottle of water under the arch of the foot to help decrease the inflammation with ice and stretch the ligament with the rolling motion.  Stretching of the toes, calf, and foot (by pulling up on a towel that is wrapped under the foot) are all helpful exercises to mitigate this condition.  Taping has shown to be beneficial for plantar fasciitis.

Taping Tuesday: IT Band Syndrome

The IT band is a thick strip of fascia that originates on the outside of the hip and travels down the lateral aspect of the leg before attaching just below the knee.  It plays a role in hip extension, abduction, and external rotation as well as stabilization of the knee.

IT band syndrome refers to pain in the area caused by an injury due to repetitive use of the lower extremity in activities such as running, cycling, or weight lifting.  Inflammation is the most common culprit and can be a result of improper form, muscular imbalances, and structural anomalies in the feet and legs.

Kinesiotaping is a conservative means to help deal with IT band syndrome and can aid in reducing recovery time, allowing the athlete to resume their activities with less discomfort and more stability.  KT Tape elects for a star pattern technique that focuses on the origin of the band while Rocktape uses a singular thick strip of tape to run along the IT band.

Taping Tuesday: SI Joint

The sacroiliac (SI) joint is the connection between the sacrum and the left and right ilium (hip bones).  It is easily palpated in the lower back and right under the skin of the aptly named “back dimples”.

Dysfunction in the SI joint can result in localized low back and sacral pain as well as discomfort into the legs.  Causes include degenerative arthritis, direct trauma, leg length discrepancy, altered gait due to pain in the leg, and increased ligament laxity during pregnancy.

Taping is an effective means to help the SI joints regain normal function and stability.  KT Tape shows a method using a normal strip and two shorter ones while Rocktape uses a star pattern to achieve the same goal.

NASA’s New Z-2 Suit Is… Tron?

NASA held a public vote on the design of their new prototype Z-2 spacesuit and the results are in!  With an overwhelming 63% of the votes, the winner is… this.

Named “technology”, this suit beat out two other designs (“biomimicry” and “trends in society”) to become the latest in space wear that NASA will perform tests on.  It is slated to be complete in November of this year and more information on the many “firsts” achieved while making it can be found here.

Personally, I dislike the look of all three choices.  Maybe my perception of cool and functional spacesuits is skewed by years of sci-fi movies and cartoons, but these designs just don’t get my heart racing for space travel.  The winning suit looks like a cross between a TRON costume that was left on the cutting room floor and a Volus from the Mass Effect series.  Glow-in-the-dark TRON-blue on a short, stubby suit with no neck.  Not exactly screaming human superiority when we finally meet up with extraterrestrial life.

It is just a prototype so it most likely will never see actual field use.  But I hope whatever final design NASA ends up with for future manned-flights don’t make us look like hunchbacks from planet Earth.

P90X3: Final Thoughts on Classic

So my initial journey through P90X3 has come to a conclusion.  The past three months or so have flown by and I’m glad I somewhat stuck with the plan.  Like most of the Beachbody routines I’ve tried (P90X and Insanity), my will to push play wavered towards the end of the program.  But unlike the others, I can see myself going back to P90X3 soon to try some of the other schedules such as “Mass” to see what gains it can provide.

My main complaint about P90X3 is the lack of a dedicated ab routine in the base product.  If you splurged for the Deluxe or Ultimate kits, they came with three additional workouts and one of which is X3 Ab Ripper.  Even though most of the routines involve engaging the core, it wasn’t the same as devoting a 15 minute segment to just working this area.  Towards the end, I resorted to replacing Dynamix with Ab Ripper X from P90X which helped alleviate this complaint.  Not getting the more expensive versions also meant I missed out on Complex Upper, which is described as “A 30-minute workout featuring explosive training for absolute upper-body strength and power”, which is right up my alley for my fitness goals.  So that was a bummer.

Besides that minor complaint, my overall experience with P90X3 has been quite positive.  First, the main hook of the program promising 30 minute workouts was the primary reason for trying it out.  Most of the general population probably has the same mindset as me when it comes to working out in that 45 minutes to an hour just isn’t feasible on a daily basis.  On days where I didn’t quite have the willpower to push play, the fact that it was only going to be 30 minutes got me over that hump.  Everything is relative and if I can waste 30 minutes watching a dumb TV show, then I certainly have time to get up and move.

Another big plus is that I achieved gradual measurable results as I progressed through the program.  Strength, flexibility, and my weight all went up, the last of which was my primary goal.  I didn’t follow the included nutrition plan but I made a conscious effort to intake more calories since I was expending more energy.  As has been well documented, my flexibility wasn’t winning me any awards so being able to finally touch my toes when I bend down has been a huge win.  As for strength, I’m now back to where I was when I completed P90X, but in half the time!  I still have a ways to go in all three of these departments so this is just the beginning of my journey.

The positives for this program far outweigh the minor quibbles I have and I wholeheartedly recommend P90X3 to fitness novices and veterans alike.  Tony Horton does a good job of keeping you engaged in the workouts while also pushing you like never before in only 30 minutes a day.  I hope to start a new round and follow the “Mass” schedule soon so look for recaps of that journey in the near future.  Until then, decide, commit, succeed!