Monday, March 27, 2017

Zip lining $ 🎓 💪💪

Take a long wire and attach one end higher than the other.  Put a wheel on the line, and slide down it.  That's zip lining.  You set it up in your own back yard for short distances, - like from a tree house to the ground, but to really enjoy it you get a professional to set it up with a lot of safety equipment from huge heights.  Then you can go over tree tops for large distances.  Often you have to walk up a lot of stairs or climb a mountain to get to the top.

It is on the cheap side and takes almost no skill to do - although you do need significant skill to set it up.   It does take some muscle, but if you can walk up a steep hill, you should be able to do it.  The amount and kind of equipment vary a lot.  For a backyard zip line you sometimes just hang onto the pulley.  For most of the long/high versions you have some kind of harness that you are strapped into. If you do it in the US, chances are they are going to take a lot of safety precautions.

Men and women both like to do this.  Kids enjoy it a lot. Seniors are welcome (and sometimes get a reduced rate).

I did it in South America, but you can do it almost anywhere.  There are places in New York, New, Jersey, and Massachusetts.  Sometimes they even set one up in street fairs.  Here's one in Vernon NJ:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Precious Metal Clays $$$ 🎓 💪

Precious Metal Clays (PMC) are strange, wonderful things.  In the 1990s, Masaki Morikawa found a way to mix metal dust with an artificial, burnable clay like material.  You mold and shape the PMC into the desired shape, then fire it a kiln just like normal clay.  For some smaller pieces, you can use a blow torch, rather than a kiln.   What you are left with is pure metal - if a bit less dense than the normal stuff (it has holes where the clay used to be).  But it is almost 100% silver/bronze/gold/copper/steel once fired.

I used silver because gold is very expensive.  But even silver is expensive.  It's not just the clay (which obviously costs more than regular silver).  You also need a small kiln, and I would strongly recommend classes unless you are just working with the base metals (bronze/copper/steel).  Otherwise you will waste a lot of silver/gold learning simple things.

It is very easy to work with and requires no muscle.    But if you want to make something fantastic, you may need more skill.  I was capable of making a ring and earrings.

Typically you use it to make jewelry, though you could use it to make anything out it.   You could in fact make a bronze key, fix a broken zipper pull, a can opener, etc.  It's pretty sturdy.

Like most jewelry making classes, the far majority of students are female.  The woman that taught me focused on an older crowd, though that might be different at different places.

I took classes here:

Monday, March 13, 2017

Caving $ 🎓 💪💪

I've done a lot of caving, but mostly on tours.   They have climbing tours where you climb, floating tours where you float down an underground river, as well as the far more common walking tours.

Almost all caving tours are cheap - minimal equipment and training required.  Do NOT just go into a cave without a lot of training and safety equipment.  That way lies death.  Getting lost or hurt is easy without a guide, and human presence can dramatically affect the cave - your hand print leaves oil that will affect the wildlife that lives there.  Going on a tour doesn't take much skill, but without a guide, you need a lot of knowledge.  Basically, going without a guide is for experts, and if you are getting any information about caving from me, you are not an expert.

Everyone likes to check out caves - young and old, men and women.  You obviously need a flashlight.  If you are in a river cave, you will need a life jacket and possibly a wet suit.  You definitely want water shoes of some kind.  Tours should provide this.

Walking and floating tours require you to be in reasonable good shape, but not more than that.  Climbing tours are for the more advanced people.  They take more skill and muscle.

Of the tours I have taken, I liked the floating tour the best.   It was in Mexico, near Cozumel, at the Rio Secreto:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Improv $$$ 🎓 💪

New York City is a major theater town and there are a LOT of classes for various types of acting, including improv class   It tends towards young people, but older students are welcome!  It's pretty balanced gender-wise.  You also don't need any other acting experience.

They usually start with a warm up exercise that is similar/identical to kid's games.   Then you are taught the rules of improv - things like "always say Yes and",  never reject the premise ("It was all a dream"),  mime using the device rather than being the device (pretend to hold a gun rather than shape your hand like a gun), etc.  All the while you are given a lot of time to practice and try things out.   It's good, safe, fun.

It's a bit expensive, mainly because they sell you 8 classes at once, rather than a monthly set of group classes.   But I really enjoyed it. They do offer work study, which can help with the price.

On the plus side, eight classes mean you really get to know your fellow students.  It's easy to become friends with them.  It's very social, you make friends.

It doesn't take much muscle nor does it require you to work hard.  Even if you are not a good actor you can still have a lot of fun.  You do put on actual shows - and convince your friends/loved ones to come see them (paying money for the privileged of seeing you too.)

I took classes at The People's Improv Theater:

Monday, February 27, 2017

Rock climbing $ 🎓 💪💪💪

Climbing a rock wall - real or artificial is a very athletic sport.  There are several  types - I have tried free climbing (with a safety rope), and bouldering (no safety rope, shorter heights, thicker pad to fall on).  There is also underwater climbing, solo climbing, and ice climbing, but I have not tried any of those - yet.

Most often people learn on artificial walls.   Typically they put multiple routes up a single wall, color coding them and classifying by color.

So if you go to such a wall, you have a choice.  The easiest route is ignore the colors and just climb up anything.  If you want something a little harder, look at the chart and select the 'easy' color.  Then climb using only the hand holds coded that color.   On that same wall you might pick the blue rocks, which could be the hardest route (there is no standard rule about which color means harder).

Rock Climbing is cheap, can be easy (assuming you take 'easy routes' up the wall), but takes a lot of muscle.  It's a real work out.    They offer classes, but you do not need to take them.

If going free climbing, you need someone to belay you.   If you take a class, that is a given.  If not, invite a friend as a partner and take turns.  One advantage of bouldering is that you don't need a partner to go with you., but you need to be more willing to trust your own strength, and withstand a short fall.

You need the right kind of shoes - flexible and thin  - to do this.  Many kinds of tennis shoes, but not all, work well.  A lot of places rent shoes.

 This is a fairly gender neutral sport and kids are welcome.  Not many people over 40 (heavy work out), it's a younger crowd.  But they take really young kids - 3 years old sometimes.  Kids like to climb.

I went bouldering at Steep Rock Bouldering:

and free climbing at Manhattan Plaza Health Club (a gym but you don't have to join the gym to climb):

Monday, February 20, 2017

Butter Churning $ 🎓 💪

This is not a euphemism,  It's remarkably easy to make butter.   Here are the steps:
  1. Buy a  cartoon of heavy cream.  Open it up.  We want bacteria in there.  You can optionally add a bit of yogurt or cheese cultures.
  2. Leave it on the counter for a day.  Yes, open to the air for the full day.
  3. The next day, mix it up.  You can use an electric mixer/whisk for 3-10 minutes.  Or you can put it in a mason jar and shake it for 10-20 minutes. 
  4. Strain out the liquid buttermilk, leaving the solid, sweet butter. 
  5. Rinse with cold water removing any remains of the buttermilk
  6. If desired, add any flavorings you want (salt, herbs, whatever fancy thing you like.) and refrigerate.
Anyone can do this, even the youngest of kids or the oldest of seniors.  Women are more likely to be interested.   

You don't need to go anywhere else or learn anything else to do it.  Just buy some heavy cream at the grocery store and go to your kitchen.  Or you could do some internet searches for desired flavorings.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Snowmobiling $$ 🎓 💪

Snowmobiling is riding on a motorized tread  with skis to steer.  It's similar to jet skiing, only on snow instead of water.  Obviously a bit colder, you need to dress warm.  But if you run out of gas, you can just walk back - following the trail you left to get there.

You definitely need gloves and a helmet (although some states do not require it, do it anyway).  You easily go 50, 60 mph, which is about the same speed as a jet ski, but the ground, and trees are a lot harder than water.   You don't have to go that fast, but you need the helmet and gloves anyway.   It's expensive to buy, but lots of places offer rentals/tours.

Snowmobiling is moderately priced, fairly easy to do and doesn't require a lot of muscle or stamina.  If you want to go fast, that will use some more skill and muscle, but you don't need them to try it out. The machine does most of the work.

Snowmobiling trends male, but they have women too.  Kids love it, but the age in which they can drive varies by state (Maine is 10, Wisconsin is 12, for example).  Similarly some states require licenses.  Check the laws before you do anything. 

Dress warmly, wear a helmet - even if the law doesn't require it, common sense does.

I went in Vermont, you can find places to do it near any ski resort.