Busy as a Beaver

I’m probably busy as a beaver, especially now that I’ve read a short description of how a beaver builds a dam. The article is short on references; in fact, there are none to back up the unidentified author’s remarks. In fact, I suspect the article is fact-free, the only apparent purpose to create test questions for grade-school children.

The author says that, while beavers are busy when engaged in tree felling and dam building, they are disorganized, poor at planning the activities and often mess them up—even accidentally getting killed by falling timber.

By analogy then, since I retired last year, I’ve been about as busy as a beaver. When my frame of reference was working at the hospital as a consulting psychiatrist, I was extremely busy. I put on 3 to 4 miles and about 30 floors a day chasing consults all over an 800-bed hospital with 8 floors.

Now my typical day is very different. Staying physically fit is challenging. I exercise daily, but it’s hardly as demanding as when I was working. I start off with floor yoga to warm up. I hop on the stationary bike, which is not a Peloton or anything like it. There’s nobody in the display exhorting me to crush that Peloton. The digital mileage counter display doesn’t even work.

Next, I do bodyweight squats. My ankle and knee joints crackle and pop loudly, but as long as they don’t hurt, I imagine I’m fine. Next, I do curl and press exercises with a pair of 10-pound dumbbells. Then I do planks. After 3 sets of squats, etc., I get back on the bike. Following the exercises, I sit for mindfulness meditation. That whole business takes about an hour.

As far as beaver busyness, the only time I felled any timber was last summer, when I flirted with danger using a power pole saw trying to clear dead tree limbs left over from the derecho. That actually was a poorly planned activity and was certainly dangerous. I guess I was busy as a beaver then.

Is there such as a thing as being mentally busy as a beaver? Apparently not. Sena and I play cribbage now and then. Other than that, there’s always TV. I listen to music on the Music Choice Channel on TV. I like the Easy Listening and Light Classical stations. Each musical artist featured has several short biographical notes appear while the music plays. I practice doing mental subtractions when the artist’s birthdate appears. It’s the old borrowing method of subtraction you learn in grade school—unless nobody teaches that anymore. There are usually several grammatical and usage problems (worse than mine) with the information about artists and I practice recasting sentences. Sometimes they’ll mention a musician’s nickname, such as BullyboysquatlowjoocedewdliosityBrahms. Several of the classical musicians composed symphonies before they were potty-trained.

On the practical side, I watch the Weather Channel, following which are shows like Highway Thru Hell and Heavy Rescue 401. Those guys are really busy, dragging semi-trucks out of ditches in snowstorms in British Columbia. They operate 75-ton wreckers with rotating booms and winches which regularly spit their cables at anyone nearby.

I alternate the heavy wrecker shows with the Men in Black (MIB) movies, which poke fun at the UFO and alien themes (a welcome counterpoint to Ancient Aliens which takes itself too seriously). I was sure I was watching MIB movies way too much until I found all of the fans’ contributions to websites which list the many errors in the movies. Just google “MIB goofs.” You’ll see the triumphant announcement from those who somehow know what color scheme New York City streets signs had in 1969 and point out how wrong the movie is. On the other hand, I know what kinds of pies young Agent K and Agent J had in MIB 3 (apple with a “nasty piece of cheddar” and strawberry rhubarb, respectively).

I guess all this makes me busy as a beaver.

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