tae bo fever


By Dan Margarita 

Tae Bo fever is sweeping the nation, although personally I seem to have missed the epidemic. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, a gentleman named Billy Blanks has come out with a workout video in which he combines the martial arts of Tae Kwan Do and Kick Boxing. 

The idea seems to be that the mental disciplines of Tae added to Kick Boxing lead to some sort of spiritual awakening, and gosh who wouldn't feel more spiritual when delivering a knee to the groin? 

This is a great idea, but why stop there? Following Mr. Blanks' lead, I have come up with several new workouts that combine elements of multiple activities. 

TAE FISH---This brings the mental discipline of Tae Kwan Do to a sport, which desperately needs it, and fishing. 

It's very easy for one's mind to wander while sitting alone in a canoe for hours on end, thus the fisherman needs all the help he can get to focus on the task at hand. Those who have low blood pressure may want to bring along a defibrillator. The advanced workout involves bringing a cooler full of beer along. Concentration can be difficult after your tenth Budweiser as you sit there wondering "where it all went wrong." 

BASKET BOX---The grace and skill of Dr. Naismith's game combined with the brutality of boxing. Many people believe that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time, but how great would he have been if he knew that every time he went in for a lay-up, he might get an uppercut to the chin? I suspect that this would've curtailed his inside game considerably, especially since Michael had a habit of sticking out his tongue every time he drove to the hoop. 

JUMPING JERKS---We've all seen Olympic weight lifters perform Herculean tasks, lifting several hundred pound bars over their heads. Let's be honest, these guys look like they couldn't run 50 feet without having a major stroke. Jumping Jerks provides them with the cardiovascular workout that they so desperately need. After having lifted a bar over one's head, a "clean and jerk" in weight lifting lingo, he begins doing the jumping portion of the jumping jacks exercise. This should be done in a wide-open area. 

THE DUNKIN' JOG---The ultimate cardiovascular workout. Simply jog to your nearest Dunkin' Donuts and order a large black coffee with extra sugar and continue your run while drinking the java. Watch that heart rate soar! 

CHESS UPS---Although chess may provide great exercise for the brain, it offers zilch for the body. Chess Ups merely involves hanging from a bar upside down, doing sit-ups, crunchers and pull-ups while waiting for your opponent to make their next move. There's no reason for nerds not to be in shape. 

REGGAECIZE---A variation of the popular "Jazzercize" program, this workout is done to the melodies of Reggae legend Bob Marley. The advanced workout involves smoking Ganga, or as it is more commonly known in America, marijuana. You may want to keep a bag of Fritos handy. Warning: this advanced workout will be ineffective for those who "don't inhale." 

There you have it folks. Time to put down the TV remote and get in shape. 

Actually, that gives me an idea for a workout.

mr. lincoln's t-mails

Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails 

By Dan Margarita 

I’ve freely acknowledged on many occasions that I watch way too much TV. Sometimes I watch C-Span, though if for no other reason than to feel less guilty about watching a rerun for the 400th time of a Leave It To Beaver episode. 

Recently on C-Span 2, the even geekier version of C-Span, author Tom Wheeler was promoting his latest book “Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails” which contains many of the telegraph messages that Lincoln sent during his presidency (Bless you, Book Notes). Mr. Wheeler makes the keen observation that telegrams, a.k.a. T-Mails, were the Internet messages of their day. Plus, unlike carrier pigeons, telegrams weren’t infested with lice. 

One of the most notable aspects of telegrams was the usage of the word “stop” to end every sentence, as the period had yet to be invented. If somebody were sending a message telling someone to stop doing something, it must’ve caused quite a bit of confusion. Fortunately for history, Lincoln was able to deliver The Gettysburg Address in person and not relay it in a telegram, which would’ve sounded a bit awkward. 

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation stop.” 

With the Civil War (or perhaps “Confederate Insurgency” by today’s phraseology) raging, Lincoln was able to keep in almost immediate touch with his field generals by telegram. While most were of great importance, it must’ve been hard not to send some more conversational telegrams. 

“dear general grant stop the wife is driving me nuts stop always wants to go to the theater stop” 

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Lincoln didn’t spend a lot of time at work, as many of us do, fooling around on the Internet, or it’s telegraph equivalent. 

Had there been some sort of Google-type search engine, it’s still unlikely that The Great Emancipator would be sitting in the White House typing in “Harriet Tubman + diet” or “John Wilkes Booth + gay.” 

Nobody seemed to use the telegraph to send advertisements or “spam” as far as I know. The Smithsonian probably doesn’t display spam telegrams that Lincoln may have received such as “your loan application has been approved stop” or “natural male enhancement for you stop.” 

Nor did the technology allow users to send silly video clips of things such as a drunk Gen. Ulysses S. Grant falling off his horse. The telegraph certainly had its own technological problems such as “crashing” as in the lines being cut by Confederate soldiers of the Apache Indians. 

Like modern computers, Morse Code was probably more easily learned by youngsters than their elders. Even in the nineteenth century, children brains were likely more malleable than adults. If so, Lincoln may have needed to call in his nine-year-old son Tad into his office to send a message to Grant to advise him on how to conduct the Civil War (Confederate Insurgency). Can you imagine George W. Bush calling in his twin daughters to help him send a message to his field commander in Iraq? 

One of the most talked and/or joked about aspects of the Internet is online pornography. Considering that the social mores of the time made viewing a woman’s ankle from beneath her skirt was scandalous, the idea of pornographic spam telegrams seems like an oxymoron…or would it? 

“XXX stop hot teen ankles stop” 

The slowness of telegraph technology at least kept one of the more annoying aspects of the Internet from bothering users---the chain email. Lincoln probably never ended a telegraph with “send this to ten more people and you’ll have good luck stop” 

At least compared to the Pony Express the telegraph would’ve been considered “high-speed.”