Starting Off Strong (In Theory)

Happy New Year! Hope your celebrations were safe, happy, and the headaches/stomaches that resulted have passed.

Our New Year’s Eve went well. The Pacers game was good. Well, other than spending 15 minutes to travel three blocks right before our parking garage. Not sure what the hell was going on but traffic was a nightmare. The Pacers won by 8, the girls seemed to enjoy it, and our seats were decent. We were actually in the same section I sat for the KU-Michigan State game in November, just 17 rows higher and slightly to the side. Still low enough to clearly see the game.

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New Year’s Day was our standard, put away the Christmas decorations while watching football day. Always weird to see your home after six weeks of having a tree and decorations fill the open spaces. Our house feels much bigger today.

Ah, but the highlight – to me at least – of the week has been a musical discovery. Or rediscovery, rather.

I had forgotten there is a station on iHeart Radio that plays nothing but old American Top 40s. I haven’t checked it in months, maybe over a year. I don’t listen to it often because the countdowns are random. Unlike the ones on local radio or SiriusXM, they do not correspond with the same week back in the day as the current calendar shows.

For some reason I decided to check it Monday afternoon before we left for the game. The song playing was something not immediately familiar, but likely from the late ‘70s. So I decided to listen until the end of the song to place it properly. That’s when I heard Casey say he was counting down the top 50 songs of 1979. Nice! I enjoyed the next 90 minutes or so of listening to the end of that countdown. There were some great songs in there.

Anyway, the 1979 countdown ends and they roll straight into the 1980 countdown.[1] You might see where this is going…

I listened to a little of 1980 before we left. I caught a little of 1981 later in the evening. And we listened to a big chunk of 1983 while taking the decorations down. With 1984 coming up, you might think I would huddle up for six hours and listen to the entire thing. Somehow I resisted that urge, and only listened to a couple bits here-and-there, along with a longer stretch when I went to the gym. And I listened to a long chunk of the ’85 countdown while reading before bed. As I write this I’m in the middle of the 1987 countdown, which was right when my listening preferences were beginning to separate from what was on AT40 each week.

As you will expect, I’ve really enjoyed listening to these countdowns. Lots of fun trivia. Several songs I’ve mentally flagged to write about if I hear them later this year. Plenty of notes I’ve texted several of my brothers in music about. And tons of great songs. To be fair a lot fo really shitty songs, too.

I was going a little crazy when I couldn’t matchup the songs Casey was playing with the lists I found online of the Billboard Hot 100 from each year. It took some digging, both online and into my memory as I think I’ve battled this issue before, but turns out the radio show’s top 100 was based on a December 1 – November 30 year, while the official top 100 was based on January 1 – December 31. I was going crazy especially in 1984, when Casey insisted “Say, Say, Say” was the top song while every list I’ve ever seen lists “When Doves Cry” as the #1 song of that year. Knowing the radio show cut back into 1983 made that make perfect sense, as “Say, Say, Say” was huge at the end of ’83.

I suppose, when much of the countdown was put together without the use of computers, it was a huge effort to count the songs, gather interesting tidbits about the list, and then record the show in-between the regular December shows in time for its late December release. Makes sense that they had to start several weeks early to meet that deadline.

The more you know…

Finally, I was reminded yesterday about how I’m getting older.

I consistently go to the gym 3–5 times each week. I’ve been on that schedule since the girls went back to school in August. I’m on ok shape, although I haven’t switched my routine up for awhile. I have been on a medium weight, high repetition program since mid-October.

I mixed things up yesterday, moving to a plan for men over 40 I found online. I would be using lighter weights, almost exclusively dumbbells, and focus on form. For example, rather than doing leg presses on a machine, I would do squats with dumbbells. Easy enough, I thought. Those had been part of my routine until October, when I went to pressing more weight on the machine.

I decided to throw in shoulder presses at the top of the squat, something I used to do in every strength session. It’s a great movement that hits your whole body. After the first set, my legs felt a little weird. After the second I thought all the supporting muscles in my upper legs were going to tear. On the third, my back seized up. Terrific.

This morning my back is still crazy tight, the legs are sore. All this just from doing different exercises with 15 pound dumbbells, much lighter than what I had been lifting last week.

Getting old sucks.


  1. 1980 seems to be the year that the year-end countdown went to 100 songs.  ↩