Unless your name is Elton John, we all pretty much have our own personal reasons why we love the internet. For proof, try to find someone who has a set of bookmarks even remotely similar to your own. They are the digital equivalent of snowflakes. But one myth that needs to be shot down is the “internet is for lazy people” canard. The internet certainly does not make you any lazier than you were in the first place. It’s always easier to apportion blame on something that can’t argue back. In fact, the internet can inspire you to be less lazy, while saving you a lot of time, money and hassle too.
Unable to sit still for too long, I probably suffer from a physical equivalent of ADD. I gotta move. And as much as I love my house, it’s really there to eat, sleep, put the kids to bed and watch the occasional movie or baseball game. (Which, by the way, I consider active activities. Thanks Netflix, Blockbuster and DirecTV.) After all, life is a collection of experiences and if you like to get out and take charge of those experiences, the internet is your friend. Your big, wise, all-knowing friend.
Living in California, and specifically in Los Angeles, we are blessed with near perfect weather year round and great beaches. Several, in fact. We also have mountains and hills. In between, there is Hollywood. If you like the occasional return to nature to get some fresh air (OK, fresh-ish) and a workout, the hills of and around Los Angeles—when they’re not actually on fire—are pretty amazing not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also because the degrees of difficulty for hiking and biking covers the entire spectrum. With the help of the internet, we are well served with sites that combine user feedback and photos, with geographical information and facts that are easily at your fingertips. For this I’ve used trails.com to access maps and helpful user reviews. There is a fee, but if you hike a lot, it’s a bargain over buying several books to access just one or two trail maps each.
Then, once you’ve done your hike, bike ride, day at the beach, etc., just upload the photos and build a personal web page for posterity and send the link to friends and relatives to show them what you’ve been up to. A few months ago, my brother and a friend hiked the highest point in the city of Los Angeles, Mt. Lukens (5,076′). We got the trail maps, found out how long it would take us and how much water would be required by accessing various hiking sites. Then, of course, the web page documenting the epic hike had to follow.
For the beaches, and my family’s passion for boogie boarding, or bodyboarding at Zuma Beach, we can access web cams that provide real-time views of when the marine layer breaks. Once it starts to clear up, we leave our house and arrive in time for a few hours of fun in the sun. By removing any guess work it means we can be more efficient with our time and not sit around waiting for it to warm up. For further specifics, you can also check surf reports, beach temperature, etc.
Tennis is another obsession, something I simply can’t play enough. Luckily, most municipalities have plenty of free tennis courts around town, usually open till 10:00 p.m. While there has been the odd time where we have to wait for a court to clear, it’s never that long and we always get our games finished. For the tennis minded—even though I don’t access them much—there are numerous instructional sites, such as this one , that give you free basic advice on how to improve your game. I’m still waiting to have my first real lesson, but I will occasionally read up on some aspects of the game to try and figure out what I’m doing wrong. These sites are a big help. Now if only there was a tennis site that monitored all the courts and showed you which ones were empty!
There are too many sports and too little spare time to even begin to do everything I would like, but with the internet, it sure has made life a lot easier. If I was playing golf more, I know there is an abundance of news, commerce and instructional sites to help out. And when I get back into skiing, I also know that up-to-the-minute reports on the local slopes are easy to access. In the old days, you had out of date newspaper information, or you had to call a hotline for ski reports. Now, you can get a widget for it. (Don’t even get me started on the jet ski, a device so wonderful I would marry it if it were legal.)
Owing to the title of the piece, I have to throw in bowling and ping pong as other favorite activities to round out the number. Trivia: For ping pong, how many points is a game these days? 21? Nope. Not if you play by the rules. (It’s 11 points.) I found this out by accessing the official rules or course! Oh, and no more sneaky serves where you hide the ball. Strictly verboten!
Remember: If you are active, use the internet wisely. It is your know-it-all, smart-arse friend, not your lazy cousin.