Thermodynamics & Exercise

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Dec 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/10/98
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Recently I became the proud owner of a fireplace, and believe me, there
is nothing more romantic than the radiant warmth of crackling wood.
Except, of course, if you forgot to get the chiminey de-nested.
And failed to learn how to properly stoke it. I'm sitting on the sofa
on the opposite wall, nestled with the cats, I mean, with the wife, and
I'll be goddammed if flames aren't shooting across the room, singing my
eyebrows.

And believe me, as romantic as fireplaces are, the romance leaves just
as quickly, as you gotta stoke, shovel out ashes, chop and haul wood,
the whole Paul Bunyon deal.

At any rate, after the Yonkers Fire Dept. left, I'm sitting there
watching the fire, and I observe all that heat and energy going, you
guessed it, up the chiminey (yes, chiminey is a 3-syllable word), and I
harked back to my sadistic thermodynamic professors, who screamed: And
what is the thermodynamic efficiency of this cycle?? You idiot, there
is no cycle, the efficiency is ZERO, you moron....

And indeed, unless you hook up some engine or generator that does
operate in a cycle, or at least run some hot water coils up the flue,
the efficiency is dead zero. All that energy up the chimney, in the
hope of getting lucky...

Then I realized, not only are the chances of my getting any nookie by
the light of the fire still pretty much zero, so is the efficiency of my
exercise (if I were to exercise). Exercise, as we do it here in
America, is totally without fruit, unless you count the narcissistic
fruits of le bod. Nothing, at least nothing worthwhile, is _produced_.
All those ergs of energy on the treadmill, on the cycles, rowers, weight
machines, all of it is out the window. No electricity is generated, no
energy is stored, no batteries charged, no bulbs lit, no single gigantic
weight raised in our glorious conservative (or perhaps republican) force
field, aka gravity, just waiting to fall back down, milling some grain,
or producing some electricity. Abs-olutely (get it?) nothing.

Now I'm starting to get mad, indignated, even. I watch my co-workers
(well, I would if I had a job) _wait_ for the elevator, and then rush
off to the gym to use the stair climber. Or drive a mile to the gym to
use... you guessed it.... the treadmill. Or buy the best can opener God
the Gadgeteer could ever design, and then buy the latest wrist
exerciser.

So now I'm really thinking: How could I get my RDA for exercise, for
le bod magnifique, in a _productive_, environmentally responsible,
philosophically correct manner? How can I raise the efficiency of my
exercise above abs-olute zero? I couldn't figure it out.

Then I started talking to Gramps on the street corner who would talk to
me 'bout the good old days. Of course, now, things being things, he
runs a little bodega pharmacy, but when bidniz is slow, he talks about
the good old days. And I learned that at one time, people expended
large numbers of ergs doing things like: walking to the store; shoveling
snow; raking (not blowing!!) leaves; gardening; pushing a lawn mower;
cutting/pruning trees, carrying groceries, or rowing a real boat. Or
the days when mens were mens, and Harleys had kick starters? Some
people actually do physical labor for a living! Others actually learn
an enjoyable physical skill. Or necessary skills, like sprinting from
the Poh-leese.

Having gained these momentumous incites, the _real_ question emerged:
Are the ergs spent walking in a park the _same_ ergs as those spent,
say, walking on a treadmill? Are the ergs spent climbing a flight of
stairs the SAME ergs as those spent on, uh, a stair climber? What if
they are inferior ergs??

So I went back to one of my thermodynamic profs, and popped the
question to him, as well why he saw fit to give me a goddammed "C" in
thermo I AND II. He said, You imbecile, it's questions like these why a
F is what you shoulda got, for questions like these. Of course they're
the same. A oig is a oig. And a idiot is a idiot.

(I hasten to add he was Yiddish, which is partly why I got a C. First,
he didn't like goys, second, he didn't like me, and third, I couldn't
understand him half the time. But in his defense, in NY, NY, "toilet"
is oft pronounced "terlet", but "work" is oft pronouned "woik". Go
figger. It almost makes Whadup, mouf n' teef, and orientate
forgiveable. How 'bout the bottom rum of a ladder?)

So I'm thinking a little harder now, and I think: Well, it all sort of
makes sense: those who insist on--nay, revel in--physical output with
zero efficiency tend to have other things pretty close to zero, like
consciousness. And, the lowest of the low on this scale of
consciousness are not the cro magnons flooding the free weight room with
profanity, methane, sulfur, and other noxious fumes. Or the profiling
ditz's who spend more $$ on their aerobic attire than I did on my whole
fall selection. As I embark my nature walk with my heavy hands (which
admittedly is also zero thermodynamic efficiency, but at least I have a
knock-out punch--but the wife is much too fast, and she does heavy hands
herself), I realize it's the morons running around the park with me,
hypmotyzed by their heart rate monitors. So hi-tech, so without a clew.

So, in lieu of connecting the mechanical output of one's ATP to some
energy storage device, which is a lot easier said than done, some
productive fruit of one's effort might elevate our efforts, from the
inane to the useful. I fancy the thought of a big Romanesque grain
milling turbine in the middle of Bally's, with all members in loin
cloths (hark! modern day thongs!!), pushing away. Or perhaps just yoke
them to a plow. I, however, would relish cracking the whip. Faster,
you curs.

Recently, the Book Review section of the NY Times did a spoof on
walking, and "reviewed" ten (one-zero, folks) books on... how to walk.
God help us all. And, these are 10 books currently in print!
Conceivably, if you insisted on being a well-read and rounded walker,
you could go to barnes and ignoble, or Amazon, and get ALL TEN of them
for a really complete walking library. Do you think when I walk in the
park, people (esp. those with heart rate monitors) can tell I'm a
walking illiterate? Maybe if I wiggle my tush some... uh, uh, no
pinching....
--
Hoping, with this treatise on Thermodynamics, that I will find a Cooler
place in Hell,
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Kristofer Hogg, ms rd, Who can't safely boil water, much l1ess cook!
phys...@erols.com http://www.holobarre.com
Physical Concepts & HoloBarre Fitness/Stretching Systems, NY
Facts--chaotic Synthesis--rare Nice Bodies--nice, but irrelevant
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