One Step up and Two Steps Back

Somewhere along the line I slipped off track.

I’m caught movin’ one step up and two steps back.

  • Bruce Springsteen

I saw my primary care physician for the last time last week.  She got married and will be moving to Philadelphia.  So, on my next visit to the Health Group, I’ll meet my new physician.  Since this was the last time I would see Amy, we had a nice long talk, and after a while she asked me, “How’s your hip feeling?”

I told her that it was getting a little bit better every day, and I used that reference as a cue to give her a going away present, a copy of my children’s book, A Little Bit Better.  I figured that now that she’s married, it might not be too long before she’s looking for children’s books.  Then, I got back to my hip.  I mentioned that when I walk or bounce around on my wooden floors, I don’t feel any pain.  It only hurts when I’m walking on cement.

“My dad has the same problem,” she said.  “He uses a trampoline when he exercises to cushion the impact.”

That’s a great idea, I thought, and as soon as I got home, I went online to see what was available that didn’t look too dangerous.  I found a mini trampoline that comes with a safety handle bar.  I bought it.  It was pretty easy to put it together, but I didn’t have the tool to really tighten some of the screws, so I just hand tightened them.  Hopefully, I’ll find the wrench I need, before “The Little Tramp” gives me material for another story, one with a moral about a stitch in time saving nine.

My first workout wasn’t exactly the picture of grace, but before too long I was getting the hang of it.  I kept going until I was sweating pretty hard.  I stepped off and congratulated myself.  One small step for man, a giant leap for trampolining.  Actually, there weren’t any giant leaps.  I don’t think there was ever a moment when I was actually airborne.  It was more like just shifting my weight back and forth from left foot to right foot, but, trust me, there was sweating involved.  So it counts as a workout.

My cardiologist wants me to exercise for 21 minutes every day, and he only counts the minutes when I’m sweating.  Just walking doesn’t count as exercise.  He wants me to give him 21 minutes of sweating every day. Twenty-one minutes is not much time.  Anyone can easily find 21 minutes of free time in their schedule every day, unless they have a job, hobbies, a TV, and a computer.  Those items can suck up every waking hour if you’re not careful, and I’m not always very careful.

I retired from my day job in January of 2009, so I should have plenty of time now.  The problem is I have hobbies that take up a lot of time.  I love computers, writing, and horse racing, but they all require me to plop my behind in a comfortable chair for hours on end.

To help encourage me to get off my ass, I bought the trampoline – that’s one step up – but now it was time to take a step back, and look at where all my spare time was going.  It was soon obvious that racing was taking up way too much of my free time.  Since I left my day job, it has become a full-time job.  It’s time to let it go.

I’ve been a big fan of Harness Horse racing since Off Track Betting opened in New York in 1971.  There was an old gelding racing on the Roosevelt-Yonkers circuit named Earl The Pearl.  I put $2 on his nose whenever he raced.  Occasionally, he won.  So, I stuck around.  Then I learned how to handicap races, and I was really hooked.  Handicapping can be the most fun part, especially when the horse you picked wins, and for a brief moment, you feel like a genius.  I even developed a computer program that was an even better handicapper than I was.  It took around 40 years, but I finally succeeded.  Of course, it hasn’t earned me any money, but it did make me much better at creating Excel spreadsheets.  So, I’m calling it a win, and now I’m ready to retire from racing, almost.

I just have one more hill to climb, first.  For the past three years I entered into the annual Grand Circuit Handicapping Contest run by HANA (Handicappers Association of North America).  In the past, I finished 2nd, 3rd, and 5th.  Since, this will be my last year of computer handicapping, I’d like to go out a winner.  Unfortunately, I got off to a slow start this year and I’m currently in 15th place, but fortunately there is a long way to go.  It’s not over until December.

Standings as of Monday, May 25, 2015 – Leg 9
Total Points Points Earned Overall Position
Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week
1st Michael Carter 331.70 45.60 377.30 1st
2nd Ann Stepien 91.00 192.60 283.60 8th
3rd Bryan Owen 173.30 94.70 268.00 2nd
4th Josi Verlingieri 87.60 179.80 267.40 9th
5th Gordon Waterstone 162.30 94.20 256.50 3rd
6th Ray Garnett 69.70 182.70 252.40 15th
7th Derick Giwner 111.20 137.90 249.10 5th
8th Bob Zanakis 50.80 175.30 226.10 17th
9th Sally Hinckley 129.80 53.60 183.40 4th
10th Brandon Valvo 100.10 66.20 166.30 6th
11th Mark Dezii 76.00 84.40 160.40 13th
12th Jay Hochstetler 85.20 68.00 153.20 11th
13th Dennis O’Hara 80.30 69.80 150.10 12th
14th Garnet Barnsdale 98.00 38.80 136.80 7th
15th Earl Paulson 86.30 50.00 136.30 10th
16th Rusty Nash 71.10 58.20 129.30 14th
17th Mark McKelvie 52.80 33.20 86.00 16th
18th Mark Deutsch 50.50 34.30 84.80 18th
19th Ray Cotolo 48.20 33.10 81.30 19th

So, I’m hoping to make my last year of handicapping horses my best, but first, it’s time for me to take a step back from the computer and another step up.  The doctor’s 21-minute clock is running, and The Little Tramp is calling.


Peace & Love, and all of the above,


2 thoughts on “One Step up and Two Steps Back

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