Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bats, birds, and bellies

I had two health-related epiphanies inside of two weeks.

The first derived from a trip my daughter and I took outside of America.  We went to a location where people still tend to get around by (gasp!) foot.  A proverbial pedestrian environment.  After twelve days of largely walking, I was darned near dead.  My knees were swollen and I had to spend some time each day with my legs elevated. 

And here's the unsettling thing:  this happened despite the fact that I'm physically fit.  I'm not the slightest bit overweight.  I go to the gym several times a week.  I have visible muscles.  I do elliptical training, I swim, and I do yoga.  And (as my neighbors will confirm) I do plenty of heavy yardwork. 

But I don't walk very much as a lifestyle component, and so I'm no longer used to it.  (I do walk our dog, but usually not miles at a stretch.) 

The second epiphany came an eighteen-hour window of time late last week, a period in which I'd encountered two different associates, each of whom had recently lost forty pounds.  One of them was one of my daughter's extracurricular teachers, and upon seeing him, I almost said, "Who the hell are you?!" because he appeared so transformed (for the much, much better). 

How did they lose forty pounds apiece, and without really stressing themselves in the process?  By lifting their forks to their mouths less frequently (and with healthier stuff on those forks when they did lift them), and by exercising, including walking.  One guy is a fan of the Clean Living Diet, which I hadn't heard of previously, but it basically appears to be a fancy way of saying "healthy eating".  I also have a girlfriend who reports that she's in the process of losing weight.  She's a fan of the 10,000 Steps program.

So following these epiphanies, I resolved to do more walking. 

The area surrounding Centerpointe is well-suited for walking.  Not only is it accessible with a fair number of sidewalks, it's also highly entertaining, as I found out last night.  Check this out:

OK, so it's my worst cell phone close-up pic yet (you can cut me some slack because it was almost dark when I took it).  But can you guess what it is??  Hint: it's a bird, and there are little pointy bits on top of his head, which you can just make out in this pic despite the grainy-ness.   
It was one of these:

A Great Horned Owl.
Photo from Wikipedia.
He was sitting in one of the towers in the electrical lines (aka the Interurban easement) on the other side of our retention ponds.

It was really quite dark by this time, but I lightened up this photo so that his silhouette would be more visible.
Last night for the first time, I walked south along that easment.  I can't believe I've lived here for two years and never got around to doing that before.  I routinely walk north to the Post Office and to divert into the nearby Pecan Forest subdivision, which has massive trees full of squirrels that our dog loves to watch.  But until last night, I'd never walked south. 

I noticed something else on this walk last night, too.

Bats.  Lots and lots of bats, all feasting on the insects that congregate at the retention ponds.
Yes, another crummy pic, but I tried my best to get some digital evidence just for you, my loyal readers (all three of you).  That nondescript blur with the circle around it is a bat on the wing.
This is a delightful development because of the potential it has to moderate our mosquito population.  I wonder where they are congregating?  I got used to seeing bats when I lived in Austin...

Bats boiling out from under the Congress Street bridge in Austin.
Screengrab courtesy of videocityguide
...and I also enjoyed seeing them en masse around Memorial Park.  There's a thriving and closely-monitored colony under the Waugh bridge.  (See also this link).

This is really, really cool!!
You can read the whole story here.
Screengrab courtesy of KTRK.
Immediately I wondered - where are these Centerpointe bats coming from?  Do they have a local roost, or are they part of the Waugh colony?  Obviously if they can make it from Waugh to IAH, they could make it to League City if they wanted to!

Anyway, I'll post more about walking options and associated adventures later.  This is enough for one rambling blog post. 

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