Monday, August 29, 2016

Aerial Acrobatics $ 🎓 💪💪💪💪

Sometimes called Silk Work or Aerial Silks, this is really fun.     Take a giant 20 ft long, 2 ft wide silk scarf by the middle and tie it to a hook in the ceiling, 10 ft above your head.   Put a thick gymnastics mat - or two - underneath it, for safety.  Get some chalk on your hands and climb up the silk - using your hips and legs to push yourself up rather than your arms.   Get about 8 ft up there and wrap yourself in the silk - using a special technique.  Now let yourself fall a bit, perhaps spinning, allowing some but not all of the silk to unwind.  You come to a sudden stop, preferably someplace above the ground, caught by the silk.

This will hurt - and bruise you.  Even when you do it perfectly.    You may not have hit the floor, but you still came to a stop and all that energy went into stopping you hits your body where the silk caught you.  Because it is spread out over the silk (and over time), it isn't damaging, but it hurts.  It's also incredibly dramatic, beautiful, artistic and an adrenaline rush.   That's aerial acrobatics.

Aerial Acrobatics is the only activity that I gave four 💪 to.    It is the single most physically taxing experience I have ever tried.  It requires you to do heavy exercise for extended periods of time and if you reach your limit and relax at the wrong time, you fall eight feet and break your neck.   Even when you do it right, it bruises you.  I was honestly too old (and/or out of shape) to do this so while I enjoyed it, I decided to quit before I killed myself.

It is on the cheap side to try (they offer deals for the first lesson) and not hard to learn.  It does require flexibility.

If you are out of shape, you won't be good enough to get in serious trouble.  You can still try the basics at low altitude, but it's not easy to climb the 8 ft. If you are afraid of heights, you won't be able to do this either (but if you are slowly trying to overcome your fear, this is a good later step).

This class is almost entirely female.   Certain techniques are physically impossible for men to do safely (we have these delicate bits that stick out between our legs and that's where the silk wraps - remember the bruises happen where the silk touches you...)    There are some men that do it, but they are in the far minority.   I have seen people as old as 48 doing it professionally, but it is clearly for the young.  Most people taking this class seriously are in good shape and start before they are 30.  Teenagers are welcome. 

Clothing is important.  Bare skin means you get bloody scrapes rather than just bruises, so you need to wear tights/leotards or something similar.   No baggy clothing - the tighter the better.   Women may will need a good sports bra and men definitely need a 'dance belt' to keep those delicate bits in close and safe.  Dance belts are  ballet clothing for men.

If you are in good shape and like exercise, this is a great hobby.  If you are in OK shape and like exercise, this will get you into good shape.  If you need to lose some weight, you might try it, but the more advanced stuff will be very hard.

You can do it here:

Note, this location also teaches related arts, not just the silk stuff that I enjoyed so much.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Akido $ 🎓 💪💪

Akido is, in my opinon, the only martial art that anyone should learn.  There are at heart three kinds of martial arts - weapons, striking (kicks/punches), and wrestling.   Aikido is a mix of wrestling and weapons - in large part because striking doesn't work very well against someone using either weapons or wrestling.   Aikido concentrates on defense and relies heavily on  body mechanics.   For example they teach you to hold your opponents hands in a way that is easy for you to do - using major muscles - but is hard for them to escape - because their muscles have no leverage.  One of the more important things they teach is how to fall safely. Aikido is less than 100 years old and related to jujitsu.  At the dojo I took lessons in, weapons training was secondary to learning their grappling techniques.

It is relatively cheap compared to most martial arts.  They usually offer free or cheap intro classes, then require you to join the dojo and pay a monthly fee.    This helps ensure you to come often enough to actually learn.

It's is not extremely hard to do, but it does take a lot of practice to do it well.    Similarly, it does not require a lot of strength, but it does involve significant physical contact.

It is usually more male than female but does have women partaking.  As it doesn't require significant upper body strength, women are just as capable of becoming fantastic in it as men - don't be surprised if your teacher is female and throws you around like a rag doll.  Unlike most martial arts, it has significant older population.   They do accept teenagers, but tend not to have young children.  Because it avoids striking, it's not as violent as other martial arts.

I took classes here:

Monday, August 15, 2016

Genetic Engineering $ 🎓🎓 💪

The invention of "CRISPR" and similar technology has taken genetic engineering away from the mad scientists and given it to the backyard scientist.   No, you can't make South Park's four assed monkey, but you can do some amazing things with bacteria.  Making them smell like bananas or giving them a strong, vibrant color (for use as ink) are just a couple of the things you can do.  Not to mention learning how to do DNA comparisons, just like CSI.

The intro lectures and workshops are fairly cheap, but if you want to make your own ink be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars.    Similarly, the brain work depends a lot on how deep you want to go.  You can learn the basic tasks without too much effort, but fully understanding everything will take a lot.  But you never need muscle, even for the hard stuff.

You don't need to worry about amateurs making a disease, while it's pretty easy to identify stuff, if you to make anything interesting, you need to buy building blocks from people that  check for the nasty things.  Making the building blocks is expensive, takes time, and a lot more skill than an amateur can do.

In addition, adding code to bacteria is a lot easier than adding code to more complex life form.   You just need to insert the DNA into the cell, while with more advanced life forms, you need to get it into the cell's nucleus.

Most genetic engineering hobby associations take people of all ages - kids welcome.   Men and women are again both present in large numbers.

I took classes with Genspace:

Monday, August 8, 2016

Jet skiing $$$ 🎓 💪💪

Jet skiing is similar to Snowmobiling (Which  I will write about in a later post) You go about the same speed, on a similar machine.  Only you do it on liquid water instead of solid.

Water is softer and warmer than snow, so you don't need gloves and some don't bother with a helmet.  But I advise you to use a helmet anyway - you can still exceed 50 mph, even if water is softer than the ground.   You can be thrown off and hit your head on your own jet ski, not to mention you can collide with other vehicles.  Of course, if you are a slow poke that hates speed, and can't get the nerve to go as fast as I do, then perhaps you don't need one ;-D

Jet Skiing can also be used to pull people.  You can pull smaller kids on a float, or people water skiing (see my post in July).     This is a lot of fun for both the kid and the adult (be careful about turning too steeply.

Jet Skiing is not cheap, even renting.  It isn't hard to do and doesn't take a lot of muscle, but it does involve some.  If you fall in love with them (and have access to a lake/ocean), you can buy one for less than the cost of a motorcycle.

Jet Skiing trends male.  We like to go fast.  Laws vary by state, but usually you can do it you are 16 or older. Some areas require you to take a boating course but let you do it as young as 12.  In general, most states let a younger child ride on the back of a jet ski, even if they can't drive it.  Some larger jet skis are designed to hold 3 people. (They also sell something called a shuttle craft, which is an add-on floating boat for your jet ski.  You drive the jet ski into, lock it down, and boom, no you have a 6 person boat.)  Kids tend to like jet skis a lot, even if they can't legally pilot them.

If the water is cold, you may want a wet suit.  Foot ware (water shoes) is a good idea.  Don't forget sunscreen and sun glasses if you do not use a helmet.

Wear a life jacket - even if you can swim, you can be knocked unconscious.

My stepfather owns one, but you can rent them near NYC, or pretty much any lake/ocean side resort.    Here is one of several sites to book tours at in NYC (chosen because they posted their prices on the web - I like to reward good behavior):

Monday, August 1, 2016

Soap Making $$🎓🎓 💪

Soap is made from combining caustic lye with fat.  Lye is a very strong base (ph 13-14 range), which makes it more dangerous than most acids.    Worse the reaction creates heat.  Because making soap involves dealing with hot lye, you really need a teacher , not to mention some basic safety equipment.  In addition, lye is used for certain illegal activities, so you need a bit of help dealing with legalities.   But if you take reasonable precautions, it's not significantly more dangerous than certain cleaning supplies (do not mix ammonia and bleach), so a smart person can easily make a lot of soap.  While there is a bit of math, it's not hard to do - there are online calculators to help - and requires no muscle.
You can take online classes, but I suggest you hunt down a live one, at least for the first class.  When you take a class, they don't just teach you how to make basic soaps, they also teach you about additives.  Scents, moisturizers, exfoliants - all the stuff they put into specialty soaps.  So you can make soap that is customized for your needs. 

Classes are definitely more female than male, but there are some male students.  Seniors welcome.   You can do it with a smart, safety conscious teenager.   As it involves dangerous hot lye, I do not recommend sandals or skirts.  Try long sneakers, pants, and long sleeve shirts.   

The place I took lessons in closed down.  :(  Sorry.  Group-ons are good places to keep it at $$, rather than going for the more expensive classes $$$.  Brooklyn Creative Studio has group-ons for less than $100 per person, but I did not attend their class.