April 30, 2007

Fax Line

Is a fax line an anachronism?

I've had two business lines for my company since I embraced self employment in 1995. Originally (working out of the house), I had a home line and added a fax line. We did a lot via fax back then - I'd regularly get 10 and 20 and 30 page faxes from clients. Back then, there was no broadband, so the fax line doubled as an internet dial-up connection - which at the time was a "dial in, download email, hang up" process. I'd occasionally get calls from clients trying to send me a fax and getting a busy signal (I was an early acquirer in terms of hanging out online).

Eventually, I got DSL. I kept the fax line, though - still lots of faxes came in, the dial-up was a nice backup for the often flaky DSL. And it was nice having a 2nd line option - with a two line phone one could conference call on the cheap.

Flash forward to 2007. I get almost nothing in the way of faxes. I could easily use the conference center's main fax line for my 1-2 faxes a month. The second phone line is nice (mostly, I make outgoing calls on the fax line if I am expecting a call on the voice line). I've had part-timers working for me and its nice to give them their own voice line. And broadband cable has been so reliable - I have not dialed into the internet in years - not even sure I have my office computer conencted to a phone line at this point.

Is the fax line obsolete? Probably. But at $25 a month, its not all that expensive - and adds a bit of footprint in terms of professionalism and reputation - compared to the home office, fax machine picks up thing.

But goodness, has the world changed in the past 12 years.....

Melting Steel

Yesterday's Freeway Melt and Collapse in Oakland certainly is amazing on a bunch of levels.

* The "steel does not melt from a simple fuel and paper fire" conspiracy theorists (related to the 9/11 attacks) must be thinking long and hard, looking at the melted bridge / road photos.

* Who needs terrorists? We're pretty good at destroying infrastructure and disrupting major transportation conduits all on our own.

April 29, 2007

To Save One Soul

I bopped over to Real Art Ways this evening to catch The Cats of Mirikitani, a film by Linda Hattendorf.

What a stunning, sad, and beautiful film. A film about a great wrong. A film about our present condition. A film about a great Mitzvah. A film about salvation.

Filmmaker Linda Hattendorf befriends homeless artist (or "great master artist", as he proclaims) Jimmy Mirikitani on the streets of New York in early 2001. After the 9/11 attacks, as the streets of their neighborhood become toxic, she brings him into her home. There is a stunning piece of film, as the 4th wall falls, and she brings herself into the documentary with a reflected shot of herself filming herself using a storefront window.

In the next year, Linda Hattendorf gains a roommate. As she slowly resurrects Jimmy from 20+ years of living on the streets, she begins to draw out his story - born in Sacramento, lived in Japan (Hiroshima) prior to WWII, returned to the US rather than serve in the Japanese navy, interned for 3.5 years at Tule Lake.

It is a film about art - Jimmy's art which has sustained his spirit all these years, Linda's art in film, drawing her into this story far more than she could have imagined, and into this man's life. It is a film about how this country sinned grievously during WWII, and, watching the gung-ho patriotism and drumbeat to war in the days following the 9/11 attacks through Jimmy's eyes, we see clearly how obviously the sins were being repeated. But above all this - it is a film about salvation. Jimmy is a homeless street artist, one bad winter storm or physical attack away from death and obscurity, when we meet him in 2001. At the film's end, he is a very different person.

I want you to see this film. I sat entranced, I sat with tears welling up in my eyes - for the beauty of the art, the shame at the crimes of my country, the love and generosity of this filmmaker for a stranger. Mostly, to witness one person can change the world. Your spirit will be opened and lightened. The world will become a slightly better place.

At Real Art Ways through May 3rd. Or, via the PBS series Independent Lens, starting May 8th. Better on the big screen to better appreciate Mr. Mirikitani's art - but see it however you can.

Southington is the new West Hartford

Is it my imagination, or is Southington the new West Hartford? MYA spent an evening at Agave Grill and Tequila Bar. The location (which has evolved from a a HoJo's to a Bickford's. and even spent some time as GoldRoc II (speaking of West Hartford) is now an upscale mexican eatery.

Down the road, in a former TGIF's, Southington sports a Wood-n-Tap Bar and Grill(now a full-fledged chain with locations in Hartford, Farmington, Rocky Hill, and Southington) - and being old, I recall when it was a newcomer supplanting the venerable Keg on Capitol Avenue.

Southington has been a bit of a suburban nightmare for many years - a good place to raise your kids (especially if one of them was adept at firing a baseball or softball towards the plate) - but Rte. 10 / Queen Street seemed more like a mall (Chili's, Outback, Ruby Tuesdays) than a place for entertainment and fun. Perhaps the kids are growing older, and between parents with some disposable income, and the former kids becoming young adults with income and taste, there is a demand for something better than national franchises.

Downtown Southington has had a makeover the past few years and has a couple of nice restaurants - it certainly had West Hartford Center potential. And there are a couple of decent coffeehouses in town (Cafe Del Mondo closer to downtown, and Jitters up on the Plainville line). Heck - I think we even have an art opening penciled in for May 4th at J. Whitney Gallery on Queen Street.

What's next? Real Art Ways II? It will be interesting to see what else sprouts along Queen Street!

My Diary

A blog reader who I cross paths with in real life now and then commented the other day that my blog is "like a diary".

Ick. It's true though, and not really what I intend or aspire to with this little bit of cyber scribbling. So I'm gonna try a little to spread my wings a bit more - writing about the world, politics, culture, the arts.

Of course, the fact that its Sunday morning and my back is still a bit shaky, and I am on the fence about yoga this morning, is still gonna sneak in here from time to time. So are hot air balloon adventures (we almost flew this morning). And other ephemera from my mundane little life.

Susu Asian Bistro - Plainville, CT

MYA and I are connoisseurs of the Asian buffet. She's a somewhat picky eater, and has spent a lot of meals in front of unpalatable and culturally unfamiliar plates of food, so a buffet (with lots of options) holds particular charms. Yesterday, in between shopping and support, we recalled a buffet on Rte. 372 in Plainville - but when we got there, it had been converted into a regular restaurant. No problem - we're game for anything, so we had lunch. Plainville now has a top-notch Asian restaurant.

Before the food - the decor. Beautiful wooden tables, comfortable and stylish leather chairs. Stylish glass and wood dividers and walls. We sat in what was, upon close inspection, a sun room, but with a stylish window treatment, and comfortable climate control, the fast food roots were barely discernible. In short, the place is as classy and well appointed as any restaurant I have been in. The ladies room was practically a separate experience - with under vanity lighting into a translucent counter top, and a bowl sink filled with translucent round pebbles.

Not simply a decorator's dream, the food was also incredible. We noshed from the lunch specials - MYA had miso soup and sesame chicken, I had wonton soup and mango chicken. Not simply a ploughman's special - the presentation was wonderful, the fried rice was delicate, fresh, and uniquely flavored (MYA thinks it was cilantro). We loved it all. They also have some affordable sushi / sashimi lunch specials. My mango chicken came packed with fresh and sweet mango, delicate chicken, and snap peas - colorful, crunchy, and yummy.

Not the cheapest place on the planet (although lunch was definitely affordable), but if you are looking for the sort of top-notch dining experience you are used to finding in West Hartford, Avon, or Simsbury - well, think Plainville. Really. I'll be back - my balloon chasing adventures take me to that part of the world quite a bit and I have nearby friends.

Susu Asian Bistro - 132 New Britain Avenue, Plainville, CT 06062 860-793-0013

April 28, 2007

Daffodil Festival

In Meriden, this weekend. Looks fun. Saturday looks busy but we might wander down on Sunday....

Weekend

Not posting much. I've been distracted.

Thursday evening trip to NYC was a success. Long drive, but not miserable in terms of traffic or delays, and the GPS worked. Met lots of people from cyberspace. Saw some old friends. No issues with car there or back. All good.

My back is still cranky, I went to restorative yoga yesterday (which pretty much involved long gentle postures with a bolster) which was good - not my usual yoga practice but my back felt better. Small dollops of separation anxiety from the hot class next door. I wanna be back there!

Work is bubbling up a bit - a trip to Atlanta is stirring, as is a couple of projects for a client who has bene kind of quiet. Been catching up with another client on some long term projects.

Yesterday, Zippy and I had a first session with a couples counselor. We've been talking about it for a while. It was hard - I walked out of there feeling pretty unloved, unlovable, and as if the relationship has little in the way of potential positives to make the work worthwhile. I know these things are not true, but emotionally, I was a wreck. So I was pretty weepy all night. Still kind of have a crying hangover to add to my tweaky back.

Today - we are taking some piles of electronic junk to the recycling event that CRRA sponsors - I have a pile of old computers at the storage space that I need to cull, and Zippy has some pieces here as well. Not everything (I always keep spares) but there are some things that have gone into storage 4-5 years ago that need to be gone.

Later, MYA and I are going shopping (spring clothes, she has a gift card) and then to a support space (have not been in ages)

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a good day to get back to some form of yoga, even if its gentle.....

April 26, 2007

Continued Tweaks

I'm off the mat for a while. The back continues to pain. Better today but not good - I took a hot shower which helped, and I am moving more and better today. But it will be a while before I am back on the mat for a strenuous class. Gentle or Restorative Yoga, here I come!

On other fronts, I am heading down to NYC this evening for a book release party for Helen Boyd's new one "She's Not the Man I Married". It's at Marion's Continental in the city - have not decided if I am gonna drive in, or take the train from Bridgeport.

April 25, 2007

Tweaky Back

All ready for yoga today, but no dice. My back is howling. Not 100% sure why (we weren't doing much in the way of backbends yesterday) but whatever. A well earned day off and a lot of work to catch up on anyways.

Also, listening to Where We Live on WNPR - I was pushed forward as a possible guest but begged off - I am not versed at all on the legislative initiatives and agenda that seems to be a focus of the show (based on conversations with the producer and the teaser I just heard)- so I suggested the contact the local activist group that is knee deep in that stuff. Be interesting to hear who they got and what get said.

April 24, 2007

Yoga Teacher Training

It's a long process - one weekend a month for 10 months. I'd be looking at June 2008 to finish up. I cannot really explain the "why" and it's not like I have a master plan, but I have come to trust my process, trust what bubbles to the surface, even a small piece at a time. And this has been bubbling up for a few weeks.

Keep breathing.....and let go of your head!

Lost and Found II

A loyal blog reader passed this along. From Kula Yoga in Avon:
We are pleased to announce that John Dorsey will be teaching a Power Yoga class on Friday evenings, 6-7:30, beginning April 27th.

I'm not much of a Friday night yogi, and Avon is a bit of a haul (especially Friday evening) so I doubt I will visit. But nice to know John is still out there.

RIP David Halberstam

Just a sad and sudden death. I was fortuante enough to hear him speak last year about this time at the National Writer's Workshop.

Zippy and I were talking yesterday about stuff - we're thinking of relocating (perhaps upstate NY) where life is a little quieter and gentler (I can work anywhere). We're gonna start sniffing around but do not envision a move in the short term (maybe 12 months). Zippy was fretting - jobs, friends, family. But hir mom and dad are in their 90's, and neither of us is a spring chicken either. Stuff happens. The world could be a very different place 12 months hence.

Mr. Halberstam's sudden and untimely death is just a reminder.....

April 23, 2007

Blog Search Ads? Blog Spam?

In a recent post regarding a lost and found piece of yoga gear, I got a comment. I get few comments, so I get to think about the ones I get a lot. This one seemed somewhat cryptic, but on the whole legitimate - clearly driven by a couple of items in my post, and clearly written by a real live person.
Good you Found your Mat are you sure you wrote in big enough letters lol I had to do the same thing

At the end of the comment, a link to some place to buy mat material. Apparently you can get a big roll of the stuff and cut your own mats, which is kind of amusing. I can envision some good sight and innuendo based gags related to long yoga mats.

I let the comment go through (it seemed cryptic but perhaps something one of my local yoga friends might have penned) and only once it was posted did I notice the advertising link.

Now I am wondering about the person who actually generated the comment. I mean - it all seems pretty straightforward. You have a site you wish to advertise / link to. You do some blog searches for related terms. You post appropriate comments with the embedded link. But I do some legitimate web advertising (with Google and Yahoo Search Word) and dammit, there is not all that much money there. I maybe spend $100 a month at the top of the season, for 100's of clicks and 10's of thousands of eyeballs.

Who has the time to do this? As I said, its not a bot, its a real person, the post references both the lost article (that could be a bot) but also the fact that I wrote my name on the article once it was reclaimed. How much could this person be making? Maybe a few cents per post? And how many posts can one do in an hour?

On the whole, working the counter at McD's might be a more lucrative career.....

Nice overview of Blog Comment Spam here.

Shopping cart book wins wacky 'title'

Apparently, Julian Montague's book "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification" was named the winner Friday of the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for oddest book title.

Faithful blog reader's will note that you read about this fine title here, first.

April 22, 2007

Lost and Found

Last night after Nia, my yoga mat was nowhere to be found (I had unrolled it, found it not needed, and folded it in the back of the room). Yogi's had come through and straightened up behind us as we worked. I checked the mat pile, and did not find it, so assumed that it had walked away with someone in the class by accident. I was feeling kind of punk - I had bought the mat at the studio (so it was not cheap) and it was a thicker material than most - good for creaky 40-something knee's and elbows. I was, on some level, thinking about where to go to replace it (I own a few mats and cloth covers, that I use in various combinations)

This morning, I realized that it might have gotten moved into the small studio. And so it was, nicely folded up on top of the pile. So I have my mat back. Tonight, I took a sharpie to all my mats - now clearly marked JUDE.

MYA and I went out shopping this evening - she was in search of some $4 asian slippers from some fashion place in New Britain (which was closed, I think permanently) so we drove around looking for places (unsuccessfully). We visited the Imperial Buffet in Plainville, where she was offered a beer, complimented on being skinny and beautiful, and asked where her Mommy (er....that would be me) was. We're regulars there, don't cha know. Hell of a big laugh.

Anyway, after that we dropped by Kohls where I treated her to some nice slipperish shoes, I got some suitably butch Mudd Adventures (somewhere between sandals and sneakers) which she sneerily offered that brown was the least offensive color). I also found some decent stretch capri's in white and olive that flesh out my summer pants wear.

Now, home safely. I have a bed full of summer clothes to try on, sort through, and switch-over the cords and forest tones of fall / winter for something lighter and brighter! Who wears these clothes?

Soaking My Feet

Pre-yoga this morning, a bucket full of hot water and Johnson's Foot Soap. The pads of my feet are still kind of tender from Nia, and this might help. Feels kind of luxurious, actually. A mini spa treatment.

After yoga today, we'll probably end up doing some more spring cleaning. Zippy wants to take some pictures for the Egmini Party Invite, then zie is doing a movie this afternoon with a friend, I am getting together with MYA, probably gonna do some shopping and hanging out.

April 21, 2007

Nia

Snuck out tonight to a freebie Nia class at WHY (Open Studio Day). Interesting - kind of like a new age / light version of Jazzercise, but barefoot, and a bit more expressive

I enjoyed it, and worked up a bit of a sweat. Fun too! Although not so kind to my feet - I feel a blister coming on.

Not sure if I will be back - its a Sat night thing and I usually end up at hot yoga Sunday morning - but its not every week. So maybe....it's nice to have an outlet for dance, and something a bit more aerobic than yoga - even the most energetic hot and power classes leave something out in terms of a cardio-vascular workout.

Spring Cleaning

Today's agenda (for the florious weather we are finally getting) has been:

* A load of alundry (drying in the sun)
* Grocery Shopping
* Cleaning Out the three seasons porch (my fair weather yoga studio) which has accumulated crap all winter
* Moving the grill off the deck
* Sweeping the deck
* Putting the chairs out and cleaning off the table
* Various and sundry organizing
* Lunch at "The Spot Eatery"
* Bike down to the post office and to WHY to get a discount class card
* Rack the dead grass out of the front lawn
* Relax!

I might try to sneak over to Nia! Barefoot Boogie this evening at the studio. Tomorrow, hot yoga in the morning, and perhaps more spring cleaning and organizing!

April 20, 2007

The Caldor Rainbow

Damned if I know how I stumbled across it, but Nicholas DiMaio's blog The Caldor Rainbow: Tracking The Retail Rainbows of Everyday Discount Stores is fascinating reading.

I've been in CT since 1983 (uhm, this would be before Mr. Demaio was born, I think) and have lived in Bristol, Southington, Danbury, Waterbury, and Hartford. So I have seen a lot of the retail establishments that he writes about when they were alive - and have seen them come and go.

Fascinating read!

Upside Down


Shankara at Hot Yoga today. Toward the end of the practice, some uncharacteristic (for Shankara) inversions. I was happily doing down dog on the wall with some leg splits (I say happily because I like being upside down and I like feeling all strong in my arms and shoulders). In a fit of my own uncharacteristic "asking for help", I called Shankara over and asked for an assist with a never before attempted headstand.

She's up! It was pretty exciting (and not all that much of a strain, considering I am still coming down from Ana Forrest and a class with Niqqi yesterday, and had just been doing down dog on the wall splits for a minute or so)

I am looking forward to more of this whole being upside down stuff!

The images are most definitely not me, but I found them on the web, at the Betsey Downing website for her Anusara Yoga Teacher Training. For lending me her pics, she gets a link!

Weird Bird

Out my work window this morning

Any idea what this is?

The black bib and the red nape of the neck ought to make this fella easy to ID - but I have never seen one before. The robins have been out and about; this one was a newbie today.

Oh! I found it! It's a Northern Flicker (a Yellow Shafted variety, and I think male)

April 19, 2007

Nykki at WHY

...her name is Nykki (and not Nicky / Nicki / Nikki / Niki). She gets points for unique name spelling (hearkening from CA and all) as well as fierce tatts. Power class with her this morning, her first class at WHY. I like her style, so far, although I'm still recovering from Tuesday night with the master (ribs, side abs, and triceps have been reminding me that they exist for the past day or so) - so it was a little harder than normal to be there.

One of her first comments to me was related to breath - I draw my breath in quickly and then let it go slowly. An interesting (and welcome) observation. The rest of the class was less flowy - more posture based. Abs were hard (as they were in Ana's workshop on Tuesday) and I am not sure what that is all about - I am usually wiped by abs but I can do 'em. I was literally getting a back of the brain / top of the spinal column headache during abs both Tuesday and today. Odd.

But all in all, I think I am gonna like working with her! Change! Exciting!

In My Ears

The Alberto Gonzales testimony / hearings are all over the local NPR affiliates - I tried to listen but got burned out pretty quickly. So I popped some disks into the CD player at work:

Snatam Kaur - Shanti
Patty Larkin - Angels Running
Namoli Brennet - Chrysanthemum

Should keep me going until Colin hits the airwaves at 3

The Spot Eatery - New Britain Ave, West Hartford

New eatery that just opened on New Britain Avenue. I stopped in for lunch, and got a good look at the menu.

Breakfast: pretty much sandwiches. We'd probably be more likely to visit if they had eggs and stuff. (sandwiches = bread = carbs)

Lunch / Dinner: The house specialty is hot dogs - any way you want 'em. I was intrigued by the Euro Dog (tomato, onion, cucumber sauce) but there were the regulars too: chili, cheese, kraut, relish, etc. Burgers and sandwiches as well, and some grinders. Soup du jour, and some limited sides. Sweet potato fries peeked my interest - the regular fried looked good, and I am not sure if I recall seeing onion rings on the menu. I ended up getting a veggie sandwich on a hard roll which was yummy.

On the plus side: the place is bright, sunny, and clean (loved the paint job inside), its a big step up from the used car parking lot / lawnmower repair business that used to be in the space, and the food is fresh and good, definitely not fast food! If you have been to Frankie's (Waterbury, Bristol, a few other places) you are getting close....

On the down side: No salads (other than macaroni / potato salad, and cole slaw), and limited breakfast options.

The Parts that Hurt

Day Two in post-Forrest recovery, and I find that I continue to feel triceps and my lower and mid ribs. I do not recall working either of those all that much in the practice, but I must have. And it kind of affirms my practice - I felt like (in the moment) that it was a good but not particularly strong practice, and that I was simply not in a good physical place to receive it. My struggles with the practice were more along the lines of energy and attitude. But now, I feel as if perhaps it was a really deep practice, and the places I was ready are OK, and these other spots (triceps and ribs) are the places that do not get enough attention in my normal practice. Gonna talk to some of my teachers about that; find out what postures and techniques might help.....

In any case, I am headed back to the mat this morning - normally a Marcia class. Not sure if Nikki (Nicki? Nicky? Niki?) the new instructor who comes directly from working with Ana Forrest will be starting yet (she is slated to do my regular Tues / Thurs power classes) but I am looking forward to working with her.

I feel a kind of malaise, work wise. I busted through a lot of stuff at the end of March / beginning of April. Then I had taxes. Now I am catching up again. I have a bunch of backlogged reports, a bunch of loose ends from various projects, and a long queue of things to do for my one largest client. Not so worried about them - they tend to get nervous when my billables get too high each month and I've been right on the trigger levels of that nervousness for a while, so I do not feel bad about pushing work back because I know if I were to get it all done this month, I'd get a phone call at the beginning of next month about the invoiced work being too high....

Just waiting for this rain and cold to break - I get the feeling that this weekend will be the official start of nice weather. Hope so, its been a cold and wet month so far. Lot of work needs to be done around the house - cleaning, organizing, yard work. This could be a good "spring cleaning" weekend.

AC will be coming by this evening, post CCH - not sure if I will get there. I have not had dinner with the Zipster all week.

April 18, 2007

Wrung Out

Wow - three hour class with Ana Forrest last night.

First, I have never been so close to the edge of panic during a class. Mostly, that was my own stuff - I had not practiced since Friday, on Sunday morning I had been too dizzy / woozy for my usual 8:30 class, and I had been out to Chicago and back for work on Monday and Tuesday. So I was not as limber, rested, and ready as I would have wished. A few times I was just kicking myself because I was dying on the mat, and what we were doing was not all that outside of my normal practice.

Ana brought with her a cadre of assistants - and I have never felt so supported and guided. We had nametags (mine ended on my mat, because my clothing was soaked through pretty quickly) and so the assistants would call out directions by name as well as come work with one directly. A lot like Shankara's classes, for me, in that he knows me and will spot my lifted shoulders or rigid neck from across the room, and is not shy to call out "Jude, let your head go"

Ana was a delight. I've heard the teachers in the studio speak of her in hushed / awed tones. She's awesome, no doubt - but not a person to be feared. I felt perfectly safe and comfortable in the class. And it was wonderful to see the line of influence - as I was conscious of postures, phrasing, or overall tone that I recognized in my own teachers - the way one says "And now....." when moving between postures, the way others do ab work. I felt a little like a geneticist, who has been studying a handful of species and finds a progenitor species - suddenly the common traits all make sense, and the individual characteristics are brought into focus for having seen the root material.

It was as if, I could have intuited Ana Forrest from the teaching styles and yoga styles of my teachers, who have worked with and been influenced by her. A good life lesson. I may never know the divine directly, but I can see the common characteristics of the divine in other beings.

I am so lucky to have been able to work with her. Not sure if I will have another opportunity - but I trust that working with her disciples at the studio is like working with her. I get it now.....and regardless of last night's three hour practice, that's worth it.

April 17, 2007

Off My Stride

I'm usually a pretty competant business traveler. One would not know that from this particular trip:

a) I left my cell phone in the car back at BDL

b) I left my camera (usually mission critical for documenting on-site stuff) at home. This despite the fact that I bought a backup a few months back. I left BOTH cameras back at the office.

c) I accidentally booked (2) rental cars at Dollar. Nonetheless, I booked the cars for 2:30 pm (my scheduled arrival was 1:30 pm, and we got in early). They were oversold when I got in, so no car waiting for me when I got there - I would have had to wait. I ended up bumping over to Alamo where I paid a bit more for the car.

d) I went out and got a prepay phone (just so I could make calls, check voice mail, call the client). I've been so cell phone dependent for so long that I have completely lost the ability to use a pay phone - no calling card, etc. I need to rectify that.

e) The Prepay phone, however, needed to be activated online or at a landline. So it did nothing for me yesterday en route to the customer site. And it did not actually get activated until this morning, at the airport, as I was eating breakfast.

f) I ended up at a Holiday Inn Express near Midway last night - $186 for a night. Sheesh.

Edit: And let's add (g) here, I put my Southwest boarding pass in my bag so safely and securely that I could not handle it when it was time to board, and so there I am digging in my bag as the gate agent is paging me ("Is Judy Russell in the gate area?") and I look up sheepishly to the young man at the gate who laughs and lets me on-board.

So, a lot of travel doofusness this trip. Hoepfully I have gotten it all out of my system. The one big plus - the new GPS was great. And the SWA return flight was pretty empty.

I'll be back in town by noon - time to hit the post office, the bank, let the dogs out, and get some work done. Tonight - three hours with Ana Forrest. EXCITED!

April 16, 2007

In My Ears

Courtesy of my 40 monthly downloads on eMusic.com, and my MP3 player....

Going Driftless - An Artist's Tribute to Greg Brown
13 Ways to Live - Red House Records compilation
Lucy Kaplansy - Every Single Day

From the Airport

En route to Chicago - Southwest into MDW. From thence on to a hospital on the west side, near ORD. Did not fly into ORD because (a) Southwest was cheaper and (b) Southwest was direct. Bonus (c) Southwest is a heck of a lot less likely to cancel or delay flights, in my experience. Looking forward to exercising my GPS on the road for the first time.

I'm taking advantage of the free WiFi here; which makes me a lot more likely to get to the airport early. Less time wasting, and all. Checking email, checking some blogs, blogging a bit - then some real work.

With any luck, I'll be back in the nutmeg state around noon tomorrow, so I can get to the Ana Forrest workshop tomorrow night. No yoga since Friday, although I brought my mat - at the very least I can get some stretching done in the hotel this evening....

April 15, 2007

Sunday Morning

Skipped yoga this morning. I woke to a bit of fuzziness and dizziness which I am not sure about. Vino from last night? Mild stomache bug? Flu? Temporary malaise. Dunno, but its best to stay off the mat when I am not all there.

Friday night Kirtan is finally settling down. It was pretty wonderful. We all noted it, and Shankara was wondering why - were we in a good space? was it the audience? and I recalled the last kirtan (less transcendent) and joked "if it's great, its because we were on, but t's flat, it their fault". A JOKE. (got a belly laugh out of Shankara) Seriously, the kirtan vibe is the output of a complex formula of our energy, the audience energy, the time of year, the weather, the world, the stars. A 100 different variables. And when it works, magic.

I did bring my bass, plugged it in, got it tuned and sound checked. And when Tom started "Blessed Am I", a chant where guitar does not really work, I picked up the bass and noodled a bit. And when Shankara followed up with "The Earth is Our Mother" (a chant I have actually not ever practiced or done with the ensemble) I knew it was meant to be and I worked out a simple bass part. So my bass (and my playing thereof) has been initiated into kirtan less than 24 hours after I received it. Next kirtan I will actually have practiced and worked out some parts. There are a few of the more traditional chants that I think could work with bass instead of guitar.

April 14, 2007

Saturday Night

In which our heroine decides to take a knee, but pulls off a quarterback sneak. (last week's rousing finale of Friday Night Lights continues to infect me)

Specifically, I had pretty much decided on Friday to blow off taxes, file an extension, and take the pressure off. But after an incredibly cathartic (and draining) Kirtan last night, I ended up sleeping in this morning. I blew off the writer's workshop, and Zippy and I spent the morning in consumer mode - we hit Target (tee-shirts and a man bag for Zip, some kitchen stuff for us), then Bed, bath, and Beyond (a breadbox, pepper mill, and some towels). Home Depot wrought some spare house keys and a humane mousetrap. And then Appletree for the usual.

After lunch today (Zippy made a stunningly good seafood salad) I headed off to the office, where, surprise, I ended up finishing off my taxes. Not too bad - I owe the Feds $560 and I owe the state $150 or thereabouts. I'll get the checks ready to go out tomorrow.

Tonight, Zippy took off with AC to Real Art Ways "Real Party" - a little too rich for my blood. I had dinner with a friend from Boston at Angello's at Rockledge - nothing special but not bad.

Waiting for AC and Zippy to get back. Tomorrow - yoga and a mentoring thing with MYA, then try to get some work done and get ready for Chicago on Monday. If the Nor'easter permits.....

April 13, 2007

Crazy Weekend

Gonna be one, coming up.

Today starts with work (a backlog after taking yesterday off for our trip to Queens). Take the rental car back en route to hot yoga this morning. Home to clean up and nosh, then off to Bristol to pick up MYA. A quick jaunt to Cables and Connectors in Newington (to pick up some velcro and instrument cables - I am fabricating a DIY pedal board). Then off to WHY to play roadie for Kirtan (setting up the sound system and instruments).

MYA and I will then fetch dinner, I will dump her off at home, and then back to the house to get ready for Kirtan. Notice there is no time for bass unwrapping or bass playing - alas, the new bass will remain unexplored. Grumble.

Saturday has three "events" none of which I will make in favor of finishing up my taxes. I got behind this year and things need to be done - so the writers workshop (which I already paid for), a community conference, and the REAL party (not that I can afford to go but a friend invited me) are all off the table in favor of adulthood. I've never had to file for an extension and I really do not want to start.

Sunday, hot yoga, and a mentoring activity with MYA. Sunday night I might spend time with the Zipster if zie has not thrown me out by then.

Next week is still somewhat fuzzy. A client has been talking about getting me over to a site in Chicago next week. I also have a "do not want to miss under any circumstances" yoga workshop with Ana Forrest on Tuesday evening. So the Chicago trip may happen Mon-Tues (getting back in time for yoga) or Wed-Thurs (but Tues-Wed is right out)

April 12, 2007

The Fall of Imus

Not gonna comment too much - a lot has been said. Just interesting.

Do I think Imus has crossed the line often and flagrantly over the years? Yeah. Whatever boundaries are out there got pushed over and over, mostly by his minions, and yeah, I think Imus was good at playing two sides of the fence - feigning offense, laughing, anger, backing away from the offense, but always winking at the background talk from bernard, sid, et al.

Do I think he is that bad? No. I think he is a complicated case - a border person who makes us deal with stuff like sexism, homophobia, racism. Other people are far more racist than Imus, but other people have learned to cover.

What I *do* find interesting is how far and fast JD Imus has fallen. I've been watching Imus' career over the years, and rememeber how he was on WNBC, how he basically helped found WFAN (all sports except for Imus in the Morning, which was perhaps the only show that was making money at first). His forays into products - Fred and the Auto Body Express....(hell, I think I have a tee shirt somewhere, I need to see if I can Ebay it)

I remember his earliest days as a kingmaker (remember then Governor Clinton coming on his show?) - the way he would talk up serious books on morning shock-jock radio, becoming a sort of "Oprah" for guys. I remember how he used to talk to Fred (who always seemed or played the buffoon) and closed with "I love you, bro" - no idea if Fred even comes on the show anymore.

So, complicated, and sad. Not sure if he will be back - he's pretty old. I think he could come back in some way - less yucks and more thoughtful talk. Dump the team that dragged you down this ugly path. You and Charles do a little two person, one hour talk show - it could work.

And I-man, one more thing. Stay sober. Nothing worth losing that. And you have a young wife and son who need you, even if your wings have melted off.....

Off to Queens

Zipster and I are headed down to the city today. Her siblings from her dad's side* are having a mini reunion, so we get to see Adam from Austin, Jenny from DC, and Jeffrey from Texas. Bonus - we are meeting at her Uncle Dave's house in Queens; which has been described as a museuum of model trains, musical instruments, gadgets. We'll see.

My bass is supposed to show up today (at the office) although I doubt I will have time with it before Kirtan. Ah well, there is always June.... I have been working on music the past week when I can so my fingers are in shape and I have all the chants in more recent parts of my brain.

MP is going to come over to feed and water the dogs today - and finish up some kitchen work - a formica piece over a side counter, maybe some trim on the exposed wall board edges.

Friday - morning yoga. Afternoon hang out with MYA, maybe a movie. And Friday evening Kirtan. Satruday - the writer's workshop. And Sunday, yoga and mentoring.

Oh, and I still am plugging away on taxes. This might be the year I file for an extension......ugh.



* Zippy has a unique family structure - her parents married, had hir, and split up. Each went on to remarry and have families. Mom had three more kids (who Zippy grew up with) and Dad had 4 more kids (who Zippy saw on summers and holidays, and feels more kinship with). And there are lots of peripheral characters - her dad's ex (we visited her recently), her dad's present GF, etc.

April 11, 2007

Who uses floppy disks?

This article with regard to former astronaut Lisa Nowak is amusing and thought-provoking.

That she likes bondage is kind of fun. However, the fact that these images were stored on a standard floppy disk is kind of retro. I actually have a floppy drive on my desktop, although not sure I have used it. And I bought the USB floppy for my Dell Laptop a few years back and have never actually plugged it in. One wonders how crappy the resolution of the images was to fit 16 of 'em on a floppy.

Then again, NASA was flying the shuttle with the CPU power of a old 8086 for a bunch of years, so perhaps having access to and using nearly obsolete technologies is part of the astronaut training.....

The Grand Tour

An Epiphone Embassy Standard IV 4-String Bass Transparent Black is headed my way.

As of today at noon, here's where it has been:
LENEXA, KS, US 04/09/2007 5:46 P.M. ORIGIN SCAN
LENEXA, KS, US 04/10/2007 1:49 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
HODGKINS, IL, US 04/10/2007 10:34 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
HODGKINS, IL, US 04/10/2007 12:24 P.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
SECAUCUS, NJ, US 04/11/2007 3:36 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
SECAUCUS, NJ, US 04/11/2007 4:46 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
WARWICK, RI, US 04/11/2007 8:15 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
WARWICK, RI, US 04/11/2007 9:38 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
SHREWSBURY, MA, US 04/11/2007 10:44 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN

To paraphrase Hugh Blumenfeld "...one way or another, the ax of a traveler is bound to travel..."

I suspect it will get here tomorrow (when we are in NYC) - so I will not have time to play with it before Kirtan. Unless I really have 25 year old memory in my fingers and hands with regard to playing this pupply (I last played a bass with regularity in college) I doubt it will be in my hands Friday night. Although, one never knows.....

April 10, 2007

Thinning the Herd

Guns at home equal higher suicide risk: study
While just 5 percent of all suicide attempts involve a gun, the person succeeds in killing himself or herself 90 percent of the time.

People use drugs to attempt suicide in 75 percent of cases, but actually die less than 3 percent of the time, the researchers said, citing other surveys.

April 09, 2007

Bodies within Bodies

Yoga tonight - I am taking a special weekly class which is, on one level, a bit fundamental, but affords me the opportunity to work with an instructor who I need to work with. So, tonight was week #1.

Tonight's wisdom - outside of the yoga (which was a bit instructional, its an all levels class with a lot of newcomers). I was aware that I was observing the instructor - watching her work. I admire her greatly, for her magic which I have partaken of, and for the community she has built. So watching her work is a second level of practice.

But, watching her, in her studio, I became aware of a being as an onion - living in the body, as well as in ones space - the studio, the business, the vocation. A lesson for me. I have so freaking far to go....here I am mucking around at the first level of the onion - and I am barely competant at that.

April 08, 2007

Craftsmanship

Spent most of yesterday as a helper (along with the Zipster) for our friend MP who installed tileboard in our kitchen. We've been talking about tileboard for eons - since we pulled the old stove - and now its completed - two wall sections behind the stove, as well as a backsplash behind the sink and counters. MP is a cabinetmaker by profession, and brings a certain attention to detail and technical proficiency to everything he does. It was wonderful to watch him work. (although we did toss in a few aesthetic suggestions which worked out well)

Yeah, actual tiles would have been nice - but we are a low budget household. (the dominant theme in our home is unfinished pine) And we were aiming for some light green tileboard we found (not available retail) - so we settled for white. Now we need to figure out paint to coordinate the white stove and tileboard, forest green speckled counters, and off white cabinets (we may try to paint the cabinets, but they are metal - so might settle for a thorough cleaning and replacing the hardware.

We are blessed to have a friend like MP - we paid him, but surely his labor was less costly than a contractor and his quality and attention to detail was significantly higher. I got to play electrician - pulling all the outlet covers, and replacing them, and dismounting and remounting the range hood.

April 07, 2007

Fathers' Daughter

A piece in today's Hartford Courant about children of same-sex couples, by the always GLBT friendly Daniela Altimari.
"Children do best with both a mother and a father," Brian Brown, the married father of five who heads the Family Institute of Connecticut, told the legislature's judiciary committee.

In written testimony submitted prior to the hearing, Brown elaborated: "Same-sex marriage severs the tie between marriage and parenthood; it gives the state stamp of approval on an institution that creates permanent motherless-ness and fatherless-ness."

"It is," he added, "an untested social experiment on our state's children."

Mr. Brown, I'd love to take you to Bristol to meet some kids I know who suffer from permanent fatherless-ness. The problem is not gay and lesbian couples who stay together. The problem is heterosexuals who do not.

If you want to save marriage - toughen up your divorce and remarriage laws. Toughen up your family courts to ensure that kids are effectively parented following divorce. Toughen up your laws regarding child support and parental responsibilities. Crack down on heterosexuals, and leave the GLBT community out of it.

Becca, the teen leading off this story, has two loving parents. That's one more than a lot of kids in this state, and two more than some.

Eostre Weekend

Not that we are celebrating. It's one of those odd holidays - unlike xmas (with its proximity to hannukah, solstice and new years, its secularized santa claus and its pagan symbolism in the form of trees, lights, holly, and yule logs. Unlike strictly secular holidays. No, Easter is a particularly christian holiday, despite the rabbits and eggs and chocolate. One can choose to celebrate the coming of spring, but May Day or Equinox are more apt times for that. So its kind of off the map for us.

Nevertheless, its a busy one. We're headed north twice this weekend - once to Springfield for a birthday party (this evening) and tomorrow to NoHo for a support space for the zipster. Yoga tomorrow morning for me, and kirtan rehearsal tomorrow evening. Today, I was hoping to sneak in Jazzercise (if only to go say hello, work out a bit, and collect my mat and weights since I am not able to get there too often of late). MP is planning to come by - we picked up some tileboard for the kitchen and are embarking on the long planned renovation:

Completed
* Stage 1 - new stove (gas)
* Stage 2 - new countertop

To Be Done
* Stage 3 - Tileboard behind stove and behind counters
* Stage 4 - Painting the walls and trim
* Stage 5 - Painting (?) the cabinets or at least new hardware
* Stage 6 - Linoleum floor (?)

I also have a project I need to finish up before Monday - brought everything home. Not sure when I will make time for it.

Yin Yoga

A workshop last night with Sarah Powers. Yin yoga. Which involves a lot of long, slow postures. In two hours, we never rose from the mat - did perhaps 10 postures, but held them for a long long time. It was interesting, my body feels open this morning. And I think I picked up a lot of wisdom (it was sort of 1/2 yoga, 1/2 lecture as she spoke of the practice throughout the practice). That mirrored what she was saying about the practice - that it was not so much about the postures or the discomfort - but rather about observing the mind dealing with the postures and discomfort. Two levels of work in the practice, and two levels of learning in the workshop.

I really enjoy these national workshops - even though I would just as soon grab a regular hot / power class, or a workshop down at WHY, the exposure to different teachings and styles is interesting. I can see where some of my teachers have picked up things from this style of teaching. And I am excited to have a class with Ana Forrest coming up later this month.....

I'm not slated for Sarah's workshop the rest of the weekend - conflicts with life, a bit too pricey, and I need my regular practice. Shankara on Sunday morning, methinks.....

April 06, 2007

Scrooge McDuck

I have become aware of a slow-growing obsession with things financial.


Late in the day I check the financial page to see how the Dow and NASDAQ did. Early in the morning I log in to my IRA to see how it fared. I am pleased (and obsessed) with stuffing my new Health Savings Account (HSA) with the full allocation ($2850) this year, to be able to use these tax-free funds for things like dental appointments and eyeglasses, and to squirrel away the extra for future decrepitude or retirement. I strive to pay off an insurance bill immediately (without using the monthly payment option, or to keep a credit card balance at zero.

Perhaps I can be forgiven this; at 46 many of my peers are planning retirement in the short term with large retirement savings. But the past 15 years have not been times of financial health - divorce, self employment, upside down in house for 10+ years, a near forclosure, a gender change, and a bankruptcy that I forestalled for about 5 years too long have all taken a serious toll. I had learned to live without a net, to be blind to the financial monsters and the abyss of looming financial ruin that were my constant companion.

So to have the luxury of health insurance, of some retirement savings, of some extra money ferreted away for the future is luxurious. Like coming home from a 4 day folk fest and enjoying a clean commode and a long hot shower.

April 05, 2007

Kirtan - Friday, April 13th - 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm

KIRTAN WITH SHANKARA & FRIENDS

Join us for an evening of devotional singing, chanting, and personal expression. Kirtan is part of an ancient form of yoga known as Bhakti, or the Yoga of Devotion. The meditative quality of the music promotes a joyousness of spirit. Shankara leads our group in chants and songs in Sanskrit and English, from ancient Vedic text to traditional American music. Kirtan is for everyone, the experience itself offers possibilities of personal discovery or simply, the joy of raising one's voice in song. Allow yourself the gift of making a joyous noise. It's all about the spirit and the feeling. Bring yours to share! Expect surprises and unannounced musical guests!

$5 suggested donation. No registration required.

at West Hartford Yoga, of course.

Back on the Mat

Two morning hot / power classes this week (Tues / Wed) and I am back. Today is a day off (taking MYA up to Boston) and then tomorrow I have an evening practice with Sarah Powers, coming to town from the west coast. It's hard to explain how good it feels to be back in my body after being sick.

Some work this morning, then off to Boston. Maybe some errands in between - a run to the bank to deposit coinage, the car wash / vacuum, and maybe Jiffy Lube.

More dreams

Dreaming about doing graphics at the CT Sun game, and wandering around the casino afterwards was pretty obvious - I was talking with a client last night about working the games this season. (Right now, I am not booked, but my client is predicting they will be looking to bring me on board after the preseason games, when they realize the in-house people are not getting it done for them).

So that part of the dream has roots. But why was I pushing a tricycle through the casino (which seemed more like a mall) afterwards, trying to get to the parking area. Perhaps I was bringing it home for that three-year old girl.......

April 04, 2007

A Three Year Old Girl

She came to me in a dream last night.

I was at my old house in Waterbury. My mom and sister were there - mom seemed to be bringing her to me. She was quite precocious - sitting on the floor and attempting to make lists of numbers in a lined notebook. I told her we would go get her some crayons and a coloring book. She liked firetrucks, and looked out the window, fascinated by the garbage truck with the big clamp that grabs the barrels and dumps it into the truck.

Practical things - I worried about her health care (was she a foster kid? was DCF involved? would she be on the Husky health care plan?) I worried about child care. I imagined her sitting at the empty desk in my office, coloring, while I worked. I wondered how caring for this child would impact my yoga practice.

My inner child, returned to me? A harbinger of a young person coming into my life? Am I to be a parent? Not sure. But I awoke with my hands clutching my heart, the way I did during the intensive, as I held a small brown bird protected in the cage of my chest and ribs. I felt filled with love.

I took my armor off during the intensive. Perhaps my inner child is feeling like the adult in her life is finally safe to approach. Funny, its been a long time since I have done inner child work - the late 80's / early 90's. She's changed quite a bit.....

A kitten was involved as well - a fierce grey stripey kitten, running around, attacking, playing. I'm allergic to cats so I worried about that, and I was worried about how the kitten and Nipsy would get along....

April 03, 2007

Just Like That......

A malaise had overtaken me. Between my post-intensive fog, a head cold, a very busy March, financial straits, work backlogs, and the weather (cool, grey, and wet) - I was feeling down, feeling drained. But all of a sudden - I am resurrected.

I awoke this morning feeling almost back to normal - a small fog from cold medicine, but no serious symptoms. A power yoga class with Marcia today broke an almost week long yoga fast and put me to rights. When I emerged, the sun was out and life felt 100% brighter and lighter. A couple of decent checks came in (one via mail, one via direct deposit) to ease the financial pressure, and I got my end of the month invoicing out this morning. A bunch of reports have been completed - I have one big trip report pending (this afternoon, with luck) and a few small reports backlogged - then a pile of new projects to dive into. I got the bulk of updates for a website put to bed - and a good start on the remainder.

I have a "no travel" rule for the next two weeks. I need to get stuff done for my one long time client by teh end of this week, and then I need to put my stupid taxes to bed. After April 16th - I'm gonna clean this freaking office.

In my internal soundtrack, I need an energizing, inspirational theme song right now....cause I am feeling pumped and ready for the battle.

Shipping News

Another visit to my favorite (not) post office (Shield Street, West Hartford) where there was, as usual, a huge and slow moving line.

Since all I really needed was to send a Priority flat rate envelope, I opted out of the line and came back to the office. Here's a little secret. Paypal (who does not have a Paypal account?) will print you out postage and labels for USPS shipping from their website.

Now, it's not really well advertised. It's more of an add-on to Ebay - your auction ends, prepare your shipment automatically. But there is a little link called MultiOrder Shipping (it's a lie - they will let you ship one thing) that is not linked into Ebay.

So, you can print out postage and ship it, pay for it using Paypal, and NOT HAVE TO STAND IN THE DAMN POST OFFICE LINE and also NOT HAVE TO PAY SOME STUPIDLY HIGH MONTHLY CHARGE TO STAMPS.COM. My only kvetch at the moment is that I have not figure out how to get it formatted for my Brother QL-500 label printer (so I do not have to tape or paste the label on manually), but the hooks are there, I'll figure it out sooner or later.

And that, my friends, is wisdom for the day from your el cheapo geekette. Use it wisely.

Ballast Trains

Must be a railfan thing. I lurk on a mailing list of a local tourist railroad volunteer organization. (I do the railroad website, and I set up the mailing list for them). It's a pretty quiet list - occasional flurries of messages, often related to monthly brush cutting parties.

But this week, they have been chatting up the fact that the railroad has purchased 15 carloads of track ballast, and has been laying this down all week. More message traffic in the past two days than I have seen in two months! People are taking time off work to watch or help or photograph this. I bet in a few days you might find some photos of this operation here. (The NERAIL New England Railroad Photo Archive) - there are 598 photos of this particular railroad posted there - many by the members of this group.

I never caught the railroad bug. But damn, when it bites, you are a goner!

Ready for doggie yoga?


AP Story, as retold by KOMO-TV in Seattle here.

Pretty sure none of our pooches would sit still for it. Maybe Melina (the blind aussie cattle dog) - one of her nicknames is Kundalini, after all, but to be honest she is old and stinky, and who wants to be that close to her on a mat? Ellsworth (aka Elo) is more than happy to be in contact with his humans but I fear a room full of dogs might be a bit too tempting. PLAYTIME!

Calliope (eka Callie) our third dog, would love the attention, but she is completely skittish in enclosed spaces and I fear a downward dog over her would set off her danger danger warning alerts and she would scamper off to a less restricted part of the room.

April 02, 2007

Sister Aimee

Watching a PBS show - American Experience: Sister Aimee. The story of Aimee Semple McPherson is one of those uniquely American stories - charismatic, show business, fundamentalist, wildly popular. And of course, a scandal to round it all out.

Really interesting. I'm web-surfing the Angelus Temple (still an LA landmark) as I write and watch.

April 01, 2007

Weekend Update

The Abigail Washburn concert last night was pretty amazing. She's incredibly talented, sweet, and has that knack of being able to grab an audience from the first quiet notes (a capella). Her sideman Ben Sollee was incredibly sweet and creatively talented - playing his cello like a bass, a violin, a guitar, and a bunch of other instruments. They played off each other perfectly.

Bonus, we ran into Susan Forbes Hansen before the show, and surprise, she ended up seated right next to us. So Zippy and she had some words - Zippy wrote a letter to WFCR in protest of Valley Folk being cancelled. Apparently, there is an organized movement to bring some community representation back to public radio / WFCR, located at justiceandpeace.net/WFCRdemocracy. It was an honor to chat with such a local folk legend - I hope she finds a venue for her considerable talent and commitment to the music soon. Makes me want to go out and buy a radio station!

Today, we headed up to MA for birthday dinner (my little sister's birthday) - and it turns out she is an occasional blog reader. So hiya, K! Happy birthday. Won't say which one......

My cold is abating, so I suspect I'll be back on the mat - probably not tomorrow (end of the month billing, catching up, and an appointment) but Tuesday - for sure!