Sunday, November 15, 2015

What I Didn't Learn In High School PE & Health - Marching Is Great

For several years I've had a bone to pick with the rigidity of the physical fitness classes and health philosophies taught to me while I was in High-School. The reason for this is, I believe, many of our ideas for how to keep in shape are formed during this time, and to build a solid foundation of health and fitness it is imperative that a good solid understanding of how to exercise is learned. The key here is there are many roads to get to that one healthy goal.

At my high school it was required that we take basic health and PE as Freshmen and then continue with supplemental credits to fulfill the rest of the requirements. For PE, that requirement was often satisfied with credit with sports participation or individual study. My issue stems from the exclusion of specific activities as "active" and "beneficial" to a healthy lifestyle. Also, that we were not taught how to evaluate an activity for its healthy benefits such as working muscle groups, intensity, and cardio versus anaerobic. These are things I learned in college and only in relation to weight lifting.

Something interesting happened my senior year. Many of my classmates were scrambling for PE credit. We were very involved with music and had little time to fit in all the credits we needed because of scheduling conflicts. A few of us began a philosophical discussion in health class, because the teacher in charge of PE was our health teacher. The philosophical discussion became a tangible investigation when it came to our attention students were bowling and golfing for PE credit, and the cheerleaders and dance team were credited for their activities as well. So why weren't the marching band and color guard?

As a small group we started talking with our teacher. We told him about the abdominal breathing. We told him about the playing while marching. In length we went into how much each instrument weighs and how we lift and lower the instruments with force and hold them up high for long periods at a time. Then we went into the marching; the endless controlled marching. He wasn't buying any of it. The teacher claimed we just stood and played and walked. We offered for him to visit practice, maybe sit in on a rehearsal with a tuba around his neck. For some unknown reason he kept denying our hard work and athleticism and wouldn't let us apply for independent study. It was ridiculous.

Fast forward to today. I've marched in 4 marching bands for a total of 8 years. I took weight training in college to help fill the gap of physical education I lost in high school due to my bad luck with teachers, or whatever happened. Even with the knowledge of how to use gym equipment and how to do burpees, I still got stuck in a desk job. My hips slowly lost their strong marching muscles. Also, I went through a few years with a few life traumas.

Now, here I am recovering from some stress injuries and, low and behold, it is my hips causing the bulk of the problems. I've been going to a chiropractor for a while now and tried many different exercises to strengthen my core over the last 4 years. It wasn't until recently that I found some exercises that are helping me to strengthen the muscles that were hurt or depleated. Guess what most of that exercise is? Marching in place. Yup! There is a reason soldiers march so much. Not only is it a quick way to walk, but it strengthens your core, yours hips, bones, and all those walking and sit-muscles we should be using but don't know, plopping down is so much easier! Oh, the irony.

I'll let you in on a secret, I'm not just marching, I'm crawling too. I'm repairing my hips and shoulders (and jaw) from all the trauma I put them through during my bout of stress. And it is helping so much! So, I know it is 15 years too late, but Mr. Health Teacher, marching is GREAT exercise. I've gone down a size in pants and gained muscle back. So, don't judge it until you've tried it or at least researched it a little. Try it! :-)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Response To Roseburg: Let's Make That Change

As a child I called the beautiful town of Roseburg my home. I went to elementary school at Melrose Elementary, went to Girl Scout camp at the local shooting range and I took swimming lessons at Umpqua Community College.

My extended family hunts, but my immediate family doesn't really. We have one antique gun, and its only an antique. I'm a pacifist. And I believe there is room in this country for all of us; gun owners and pacifists alike.

What happened last week, early Oct. 2015, was tragic and I hope everyone there is healing as well as they can in a situation like this.

Now for the tough stuff... growing up for the first part of my childhood in Roseburg, was a mixed bag. I adored the seemingly never ending forests, oak savannas, constant farm stands, friendly people, fancy cars, and the ice cream. (Oh, the ice cream!) But a couple of things always made me want my family to move to the city. I wanted better health care in the form of a councilor to speak to about my shyness and nervousness and all the guns scared me. The shots could be heard everywhere. I was afraid to be at girl scout camp every year because it was normally a shooting range and I always thought that was inappropriate and irresponsible. I had heard stories from my Dad and Grandpa about people with guns accidentally or almost shooting people around the NW. My dad was almost the casualty of a hunter trying to snag a buck from the cab of his truck once!

So, basically, I understand the need for guns as a tool. We need that extra food hunting gives us and guns are great for varmint control too. But do we need so many? To me, more guns mean more accidents and stupid situations that almost hurt my Dad. And how do these guns keep ending up in public places? How many people will become recluses if gunfire out in public places can become common? I can promise you, most kids are anxious around guns. And in this day in age (we aren't in the wild west) most adults feel anxious too. Even the cowboys had rules about guns when you came into town. So let's modernize 19th century Tombstone AZ's gun laws, bring them into the 21st century. (Y'all remember Doc Holliday, Wyatt Erp right? They'd be fined for carrying in public.)

All I'm proposing is two things that should be linked; a proper gun license & registration system including testing & insurance price-barrier-to-entry to curb gun quantity and ensure responsible gun ownership (just like cars) AND more rural mental health support; like med checks, group support and qualified councilors.

It might be a slow process, but it could be a profitable one too. More jobs and new sources of income for the government which could go to schools or infrastructure improvement or police and it could be a product of positive change. Let's make that change! Sure its scary, but so is the possibility of losing your loved one to a stray bullet or a mental breakdown.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Street Photography: Construction On Skyline, and a Challenge

Street photography is difficult down in my neighborhood. It's just a nice, lazy suburb, and I don't like to bother my neighbors too much with my lens in their faces. Maybe I'm too nice or too timid, but I tend to stick to photographing nature around my home, because that is what I am comfortable with, and honestly, it's what I see when I look out the window.

Lately we've had an ongoing construction project close by. An entire street is closed to thru traffic for the Summer, and was for a good part of the Spring too. After a while, this project got me thinking more in-depth about urban photography. Street photography doesn't have to be just city dwellers on the street, living the city life, it can be snippets of still life brought about by change in the neighborhood. After all, "Art is not what you see, but what you make other's see," as the French Impressionist Edgar Degas so aptly said.

So here is my challenge to other local (and non-local) photographers. Look for art in the unexpected, and show your unique point of view through your work, whether it is a road construction project, farming or garden work, misplaced shoes, or a speed boat out on the water.... Below are some of my pieces from the construction site.

street photography 1, Salem, Oregon, Lisa Miller

street photography 2, Salem, Oregon, Lisa Miller

street photography 3, Salem, Oregon, Lisa Miller

street photography 4, Salem, Oregon, Lisa Miller

UPDATE July 4, 2015: for more street photos please visit my Flickr albums, River Front Park and Downtown Salem

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ground Breaking - A Short Salem Story

In honor of the NEW ground breaking at Riverfront Park, for the Minto-Brown Island Bridge - I give you this first hand (slightly satirical, but true) account from an 8th grader of the Riverfront Park ground breaking.

Judson Middle School Concert Band, 1994
Judson Middle School Concert Band, Director Shira Fadeley
It was Spring of 1994, and our middle school band was asked to play for the most important event many of us had played in our lives, up to that point -- the 1st Salem Riverfront Park ground breaking ceremony*. Now it seems adorable how excited we were, but at the time it was historic; monumental even.

Sitting in the low brass section of the Judson Middle School band, for such a central community ground-breaking ceremony, was very exciting for 13-year-old me. I remember everyone was trying to be on their best behavior. But, you know how it is with overly excited middle-schoolers. We needed a reminder every 30 seconds to settle down. What can I say? We didn't get out much? :-)

The highlight of everyone's conversation was the Boise Cascade donated acid ball. What was it going to be? Many had heard it would be an art project, and talked about how exciting that would be. Most of my band mates were a little concerned with the term "acid ball". I mean, acid + ball = what-unknown-horrors? Of course some of that confusion was cleared up on the carpool ride home by my Dad, but it caused quite a bit of controversy among us very P.C. '90s era kids.

At the moment of ground-breaking, it became too hard to keep the excitement in. This was happening, an historic moment. (Remember, thirteen years old.) So I did what any dorky 8th grader with too big an imagination would do. I unscrewed the bell of my trombone, and waited for the precise moment of action. When the mayor struck ground with his shovel, my trombone bell also struck earth. Yes Mom and Dad, I used my old Yamaha student model trombone as a shovel... briefly.

Judson Middle School Concert Band, Riverfront Park ground breaking ceremony, 1994
Me, center, playing with the Judson Concert Band at the ground-breaking ceremony, 1994
In my defense, I thought the whole act would be symbolic and "stuff". At least I had fun! Plus, it didn't do any damage, nor did anyone notice. It did make the trombone bell quite dusty. To whomever owns that little trombone now, you own a piece of Salem history.

*NOTES There was another dedication ceremony in 1996... Yeah, we felt a little less important after that, but still, it was very nice to be invited to play at such an important city event at such young ages. Thank you.

Friday, May 8, 2015

"A Day In The Life" Photo-A-Day Challenge: Week 4

For the month of April I worked on a specific photography technique: Subject Isolation. And what better way to do this than a "day in the life" photo-a-day challenge. And yay, I got outside more!!

Its the last week, and boy am I itching to use f5.6+. I may need a week of only shooting f8 to stop feeling so near sighted... but this was a really great exercise. I also stuck to only one lens a week at a time. I recommend exercises like this to anyone breaking in new (or new to them) lenses, so you know their strengths, weaknesses, and to get comfortable. These are also good exercises to do periodically for yourself, just like practicing scales for a musician.

If you missed the previous weeks, they can be viewed here: Week 1Week 2, Week 3

Day 22:
wildflowers, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 22, by Lisa Miller

Day 23: 
glass lamp, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 23, by Lisa Miller

Day 24:
penny royal flowers, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 24, by Lisa Miller

Day 25:
trillium flower, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 25, by Lisa Miller

Day 26:
kale salad, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 26, by Lisa Miller

Day 27:
garden coffee, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 27, by Lisa Miller

Day 28:
macro mushrooms, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 28, by Lisa Miller

Day 29:
purple iris, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 29, by Lisa Miller

 © 2015, Lisa Miller - All Rights Reserved - Thank you!

Friday, May 1, 2015

"A Day In The Life" Photo-A-Day Challenge: Week 3

For the month of April I'm continuing my work on a specific photography technique: Subject Isolation. And what better way to do this than a "day in the life" photo-a-day challenge.

If you missed the previous weeks, they can be viewed here: Week 1Week 2, Week 4

Day 15:
acrylic paints, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 15, by Lisa Miller

Day 16: 
nature painting, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 16, by Lisa Miller

Day 17:

wood burning, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 17, by Lisa Miller

Day 18:

light paint brush, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 18, by Lisa Miller

Day 19:

hummingbird food, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 19, by Lisa Miller

Day 20:

tree moss, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 20, by Lisa Miller

Day 21:

mini schnauzer izzy, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 21, by Lisa Millermini schnauzer hope, A Day in the Life, Photo-A-Day April 2015, Day 21, by Lisa Miller

 © 2015, Lisa Miller - All Rights Reserved - Thank you!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Film Reels: Lover Come Back

Film Reels - In which I catch up on my classic movies and then talk about them.

Lover Come Back -  Romance/Comedy, 1961

In the midst of the finale season of Mad Men, I feel like I normally do when a beloved TV show, book or movie ends; there is a tiny hole in my heart where the characters resided shortly. It must be a trait of the artistic person or the overly nostalgic, but I get it every time. To fill this hole in my heart, I turn to research; who was the real Don Draper? And then I remembered a movie from my childhood, Lover Come Back.

My mother adored Doris Day growing up, and she shares that love with my sister and myself.  In the movie Lover Come Back, both Rock Hudson and Doris Day play Ad men (women), much like Don Draper, Peggy Olsen, et. al. Now Mr. Hudson's character acts a bit more Roger Sterling-esque, playing the ladies more than the actual advertising, but the setting is still Madison Avenue in 1960. And boy is it familiar after all 7 seasons of Mad Men. I felt like I was watching the movie with fresh eyes.

When I first watched Lover Come back, I was probably a pre-teen, and focused on the silliness and comedic execution. Now that I'm older, wiser and have all that advertising knowledge under my belt, the movie is just that much funnier. Also, Tony Randall and Ann Davis are both treasures. Both have excellent comedic timing and a penchant for one liners and great character work. Its too bad Ann Davis didn't get more work. As for Tony Randall, I may need to revisit the Odd Couple here soon.

Lover Come Back is a slightly dated, but well done, time capsule of a movie, with great colors, slapstick, art, outright silliness, obligatory "Doris Day soft-focus," and a bit of romance. The best moment comes 3/4 the way through with their "new product." In the right hands, this could be a very interesting movie to remake. But only in the right hands... Regardless, you'll love Vip! And I hope you'll enjoy the movie as much as I always have. And maybe it will cheer you up after Mad Men ends too... (Available on iTunes, Amazon, Googleplay)