November 30, 2007

November 28, 2007

It's a Man's World

I just returned from my annual pilgrimage to the windy city for a radiology conference / trade show. They like to call it "technical exhibits" instead of a trade show - whatever.

Three days of booth duty, my clients and fellow booth staffers were all men. Every significant visitor to the booth was a man (save one, the product VP from a subsidiary of one of our customers, who stopped by not because she was a direct customer, but because she went to college with one of the people staffing the booth). Three client dinners out - all men except for one spouse who came along.

Last year Zippy dropped by the show one day, to walk around and see it all, and he commented how intimidating it was to be around all these businessmen in suits. There are women there - mostly radiography techs, applications folks, and booth support (reception, marketing, etc), but just a small percentage of the radiologists, administrators, and sales persons were women.

It's a weird thing. And I imagine some trade shows (machine tools, automobile, etc. ) are even more male-dominated.

Apparently, I'm a Harbinger of Species Catastrophe

From an advertisement for Estroblaster - a supplement.

Attention Men! Your male problems may not be related to the drop in testosterone levels, but your intake of estrogen, the main female hormone. You are being deluged with female hormones in your food, the air, and the water you drink and bathe in. It's damaging your system in ways you never even imagined. That, on top of naturally falling male hormone levels, can cause a condition called estrogen dominance.

From a postal solicitation for this product:
Not only that, but the rate of young boys turning into girls is frightening. One group that monitors this problem said:

No one compiles official statistics on transgender youths, but everyone agrees that their numbers are rising quickly.

…it took months to narrow down a powerful formula at a good price. We named it Estro-Blaster — after what it’s designed to do…blast the estrogen out of your system.


Kudos to Michael Hanscom over at eclecticism for this little gem.

Recycling Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Got any leads? They have a bit of mercury in 'em so should not be just dumped in the landfill or incinerated, and we need to recycle all sorts of stuff, just because.

The state of CT will deal with 'em during hazardous waste day but that's done for the winter and will not recur until Spring.

I've heard that Ikea might but the nearest one is in New Haven - someplace I rarely go.
For now, I'm storing them in a box.....until I find something to do with 'em.

Biting the Hand that Feeds Me

Slap this one under the health care crisis.

I spent three days walking the floor at the Radiology Society of North America meeting / conference / technical show in Chicago. And if one were looking for reasons as to why health care costs are spiraling out of control, one would not have to look much further than this week in Chicago.

Item #1: The big imaging vendors set up huge (20,000+ square foot, multiple levels) trade show booths that are really small cities, complete with theater style lighting, huge video displays, carpeting - 10's of millions of dollars, I imagine, to convince the radiologists to purchase capital equipment that itself runs into the millions. One large vendor is reported to have brought 1200 people to the show - with an average cost of $2000 per person (airfare, taxi fares, meals, hotels) - that's $2.5 million bucks right there in travel costs! What percentage of your last diagnostic procedure bought a big client dinner this week?

Item #2: The diagnostic imaging arms race. All of the big vendors were promoting new systems - CT Scanners were big this year, with devices that image 256 or even 320 slices, able to image an entire body organ (typically a heart) in one gantry rotation. But every imaging modality (ultrasound, mammography, MRI, cardio-vascular, radiography) had similar advances - digital imaging, picture archiving, data storage and compression. And I am all for technology and advances, but one wonders if we would get more bang for our health care buck by (for example) providing nutritious and low-fat meals for kids, and health education, and exercise, rather than arming ourselves to diagnose and treat the obesity and cardio-vascular diseases that result from NOT spending the money for those other things. I'm pretty sure none of use is going to live forever, but we're spending an awful lot of money treating the symptoms, and not a lot addressing the root causes of some of these health epidemics....

Like I said, I am all for technology and prolonging life; this is truly the age of miracles in terms of what we can detect, diagnose, visualize, and treat. But it gives one pause to consider how many (less privileged and less wealthy) lives could be improved on the front end, for the cost of wringing a few ore breaths out of an aging and infirm population (who happen to have the insurance and/or cash to pay for all this technology)

Fuel to Burn, Roads to Drive

I'm cranky about recycling (or apparent lack thereof) during my recent trade show visit to Chicago.

Why the heck doesn't McCormick Place set out container recycling bins (since the beverage du jour was mostly soda and bottled water)? Similarly, where are the paper recycling bins? Since the show itself generated daily, disposable publications, and many of the attendees brought morning papers, one might imagine that recycling paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic would have cut the landfill volume drastically.....

And similarly, I wonder if the newspapers dropped off outside my room, and mostly unread, got recycled? Or the Chicago arts weekly I picked up? Or the water bottles?

Maybe there is recycling going on, but it was not evident anywhere. I'm planning on firing off a letter to the McCormick Place (copy to the city and the RSNA) about it as well as to the hotel (Marriott) with a copy to the chicago hotel association and the RSNA, noting the lack of recycling and suggesting they get onboard.

My guilt for having been a party to the whole extravagant and wasteful shebang, I guess......

Re-appreciating Dar Williams

Dar is the artist du jour on my MP3 player - I'm just randomly playing the 4 or 5 of her albums I have in the MP3 player en route home from Chicago. It's sort of a gentle emotional rollercoaster - small weepy beauty moments, bouncy perky moments, laughing out loud at jokes and wry wordplay. One cannot listen to Dar and remain untouched. Even Mortal City - a darker and experimental piece for her, playing now, and beautifully touching on the paradox of being alone among the mass of fellow travelers, here at Gate C29 in ORD.

Dar has been on my radar since the start - I first connected with her at the Common Ground in Bristol, CT, opening up for a friend of mine. I fell in love with her then, pre-The Honesty Room. I bought a cassette tape then, and have bought everything since.

Iowa used to be a wistful song for me - a song of regret, of loss, of wishing to travel a path that I could not access, but I knew was there. I am on that path now, and so Iowa is a song of small joy and happiness.

So yeah, Dar. Falling in love all over.....

Chicago Redux

Last morning in the windy city, and finally some blog time....

The RSNA trade show / conference went well. Long days - we'd get over to the sprawling McCormick Place a few hours before the official opening and wander the halls to network with our customers before the real customers (radiologists, techs, practice managers) swarmed the equipment booths. Then a long day of alternating booth duty or walking the floor visiting other booths and just mixing and mingling. I saw more people I know in random encounters than I actually visited on the floor.

My client does not really market or sell directly to the end customer too much, so really our booth was somewhat slow in terms of walk-up traffic but lots of customers and potential customers dropped by to touch base, renew relationships, and discuss ongoing and future projects so it was a good week.

Not a huge week of marketing and selling for me personally - mostly, its a chance to renew acquaintances - my client has a new president so I got to meet and spend some time with him. I do a lot of work with their clients so its nice to get some face time to supplement the usual email and phone contacts. And its nice to see and spend time with these folks in general - they are good people, and since we are located on opposite ends of the country (Connecticut and San Diego) I do not get to see them all that often. That being said, a pile of my business cards and brochures disappeared during the week; and I'm walking away with a few projects and potential trips to open up 2008.

On the food front, results were mixed. I picked up a bag of groceries when I arrived, so I had some nice Stash tea to drink, bananas, and breakfast bars in the morning. One morning I met clients in the hotel for a bowl of oatmeal. Lunches were fairly wretched - trade show fare (pizza and salad two days, panini one day, all eaten on the fly). I got invited to business dinners every night - Harry Carey's on Sunday, Hugo's Frog Bar on Monday, and the Capitol Grill on Tuesday. I avoided the traditional Chicago steak until last night; pasta on Sunday and Fish on Monday. And more alcohol than I usually drink.....so I need to detox a bit the rest of the week.....

And I got to practice 3x this week; the hotel fitness club was pretty extensive with a room filled with treadmills, stair steppers, and bikes, and a weight room, plus a poolside area. I found a nice spot to throw down my mat, and despite the comings and goings of others and the 80's and 90's pumping fitness music, I got my asanas in on Saturday night, and Monday and Tuesday mornings.

Now a more leisurely morning - I'm already showered and finishing off the last of the breakfast larder; and doing some email work. Then to pack and head to the lobby to catch the airport express. I have an 11:00 a.m. direct flight back.....e nice to get back to my real life.

November 26, 2007

Not Blogging

Apologies for that. I'm in Chicago, doing booth duty at the annual RSNA show / meeting. My days so far:

1) Waking up at 4:30 a.m. (my usual East Coast time of 5:30)

2)Got some practice in this morning in the poolside fitness area which means deep breathing of hotel chlorinated air and doing asana's to cheesy 80's workout music, while medical imaging sales guys are doing loud ab crunches nearby.

3) A bus ride over to McCormick Place

4) A day full of various forms of schmoozing, networking, booth standing, booth sitting

5) A high priced and not very healthy lunch

6) More sitting, standing, walking, schmoozing.

7) A bus ride back to the hoteal

8) Email purging and net surfing and blogging to unwind

9) Client dinners at various restaurants wherein too many calories are comsumed and more alcohol than usual (two drinks, which is two more than usual)

10) Try to go to sleep and repeat 1-9 the next day.

Two days down, one to go, I head back on Wednesday. Huzzah! I'll be back with regularly scheduled blogging as soon as I can......

November 24, 2007

More Commercial Misogyny

I've blogged before about the theme of women running into things, specifically in ads for the Chevy Malibu and Ford / Microsoft Sync. Back then, I commented "It's something watch for in other ads...... I sense a media / cultural trend."

Trend confirmed. Please welcome the newest offender in the category, courtesy of Nintendo DS and the Flash Forward game / software.



Ick.....

I *am* Here

Chicago, that is. For my annual junket to the RSNA Meeting. I'm part of the technical exhibits, or rather, my oldest client is, and they invite me along for the ride. They pay my expenses; I don't bill 'em for the time, and it all works out OK.

We're in a different hotel this year (Marriott on Michigan) which honestly is not all that exciting - I was fine with wherever the heck we've stayed the last few years (Embassy Suites, I think.....) The higher priced the hotel, the fewer things they toss in free....so I'll be skipping breakfast (free last year) in favor of something quicker and cheaper (can we say Starbucks). Also, no microwave, fridge, and a pretty tiny room to be stuck in for 4 nights. Internet is $15 a day. Ick.

Checked in with my client who is at the convention center setting up the booth; he was pretty much done so I get a pass on booth set-up duties. So I need to unpack my bag and get comfy. Maybe do a bit of web surfing for a local yoga studio, or check out the fitness center here or something. Room is too damn small to down down-dog without piling furniture on he bed......

In years past I have been pretty pumped to be at the show - its sort of exciting and the hub of the universe, in my industry, this week. But....bleah. I have a stack of business cards and brochures, and it will be nice to reconnect with my clients and industry folk in person, but really, I'd just as soon have stayed home this year.....

November 22, 2007

I'm Not There

Caught the new Dylan biopic this evening at Cinema City. Whoa! What an incredible movie. The concept is stellar, the cinematography added a dimension, the performances (ESPECIALLY Cate Blanchett as Dylan doppelganger Jude Quinn) were wonderful. It was just a delightful movie - one that had me smiling throughout, chuckling at the art of it, the inside jokes I caught (I am sure there were many I missed).

The concept of the movie would have worked for just about any artist or celebrity who has grown through phases, but with Dylan it just explodes. Go see it, seriously. It's a good'n.

Now, I've never been a huge Dylan fan. I mean, I own all the greatest hits discs, and a few of his original works, I've come to know his songs through several decades of hanging out on the fringes of singer-songwriter land. But I'm too young to remember the Dylan goes electric scandal, and I came to folk music backwards - by tracking rock artists back to their influences and roots. So although I started playing acoustic guitar, it was mostly church music for the first few years, and I picked up an electric guitar in high school and a bass in college. It was not until I was closing in on 30 that I found myself standing in front of a microphone with a guitar a la Mr. Zimmerman.

But Dylan has been there, all along. How could he not - so many of his songs were mandatory as first recorded, and so many more took on new life at the hands of other artists. So even if I am not schooled in Dylan mythology, I know enough. The movie went to where I was, grabbed my hand, and sucked me in.

Now to go do some Dylan web surfing, and maybe throw some Dylan into my MP3 player for mt trip to Chicago.....

Turkey Day

Gonna be a quiet one here. Zippy and I, plus two friends (scheduled) although I will be keeping an eye out for strays at yoga this morning. Sucks to spend holidays alone.

We've got a 14 pound bird; Zippy was lobbying for turkey breasts but I could not see spending more for a breast than for an entire bird (and I distinctly recall one of our guests opting for a leg in years past) - I got ours at Stew Leonards.

Besides the bird: mashed potatoes (peeling the potatoes is my next task), stuffing (being brought), roasted brussel sprouts with bacon (need to go find a recipe), turnips (a last minute pre-chunked buy at Stew Leonard's). I've already made a batch of gravy (to be supplemented by bird drippings) as well as homemade cranberry sauce (it's ridiculously easy and can be made up ahead of time, yet my family of origin made do with canned for years). One of out guests is bringing dessert, and I have a spinach dip for appetizer.....

This morning, a bit of cleaning, peeling potatoes, prepping the bird. Power Yoga at 9:15 (Barbara's traditional holiday class, bordering on transcendent). Then cooking and cleaning, we'll be eating around 2:00.

Yum.

November 20, 2007

Come and Play, Everything's A-OK.....

Sweeping the Clouds Away by Virginia Heffernan in the NY Times magazine. Props to Fyregoddess for passing this one along; I've caught some NPR stories about it in the past few days but she linked me up.....

Sesame Street, huh? I never got the Bert & Ernie gay thing, but yanno, I'm a product of 12 years of catholic education. I had no idea that the gay even existed until I got into college; I never even knew real gay folk until well into adulthood. (Thanks to a certain bovine coworker, and an ex who dabbled in show tunes).

I was a bit old for Sesame Street, I was 8 when it launched and I am sure it did not get to rural south central PA in those pre-cable days until a few years later. But my brothers did watch it, and television was the ubiquitous background noise of our home, so it seeped into my pores. To this day I can sing many of the signature songs and jingles verbatim.

The article reminds me a bit of bike helmets. Did we lose a percentage of my generation to death or traumatic brain injury? Maybe we did. But I rode a bike all over the neighborhood, to and from school for 5 years, and though construction sites, abandoned quarries, and other dangerous places sans helmet. And somehow survived. My pants legs did not, however, getting caught in the derailler way too often.

So, is today's sanitized, less gritty, and less problematic Sesame Street better for kids? Or is there some hidden, second level negative coming out of this. I am reminded of a WSJ story from back in July, by Jeff Zaslow, Blame It on Mr. Rogers: Why Young Adults Feel So Entitled
. What's the downside of a kinder, gentler, Sesame Street?

Only time will tell.....

Balancing

Power yoga this morning, with Peg.

In the course of it all, a long balancing sequence: Extended Hand to Toe (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana) - I grabbed my toe but then opted for the knee as we opened up to the side, what felt good was the smooth transition from toe to knee, and the lack of angst about phasing back. Then Eagle (Garudasana) - twice on each side - and as Peg did it with us and I watched her get into the posture, some ideas opened up for me with regard to wrapping that foot. Then moving into Dancer (Natarajasana), again 2x per side. And finally a Tree (Vrikshasana).

And just a very comfortable, matter of fact, no stress, no strain, no worry sequence. It felt very affirming - my laid back weekend (no practice Saturday, community yoga on Sunday, and yin yoga on Monday) produces the fruit of a calmness and sure footedness in Tuesday's power class.

As we were packing up, I mentioned to Peg "I think I am finally getting you". Practicing with her has been a bit like jumping onto a moving ski lift - it's a different pace, energy, and speed than my usual practices and teachers, and I've really struggle being present. I've been stressed throughout - out of breath, on the edge of panic, hurried. Today, much calmer. Alert, challenged, curious. But there......and in sync.

Tetris

That's what my work life has been like the past few days. I am cleaning out a storage closet. Which involves sorting through things, tossing some, consolidating others, making decisions about bringing things to the office, bringing things to the house, bringing things to the dump, or perhaps trying to salvage things via ebay, freecycle, or craigslist.

Two large plastic shelves came from the storage area to the office - which required a bit of shuffling - clearing out spaces for the shelves, reorganizing boxes, assembling the shelves, filling the shelves, and moving around the boxes and things into floorspace opened up by the recently shelved items. I take some pride in the fact that I completely dissembled my computer gack: a cable modem, router, USB hub, network drive, three printers, and two computers - and it all went back together quickly and without significant hassle. I might run out to fetch a stack of velcro cable wraps to clean up the cable mini mess.

It does have a Tetris feel to it - or maybe Freecell - a limited amount of space, blocklike boxes, cases, and pieces of equipment, and a puzzle-like sequence - must clear out space A to assemble shelf B upon which to place items C, D, E, and F, clearing out space G to which items H, I, and J (heretofore sitting in Space A) now must go.

I still have (counting) 10 cardboard record boxes filled with paper that I suspect I do not need, so there will be some sorting and tossing going on. And perhaps one carload full of storage room stuff to sort through. But things are happening.....

November 18, 2007

Movement

I'm feeling motion in my life.

Workwise, I am abandoning a storage closet I've had for a few years - nothing mission critical in there but lots of odds and ends that need to be dealt with. As I sort through things, its a good excuse to clean up and reorganize the office - I have a couple of large plastic racks filled with equipment that will soon need to find a home in my already somewhat cluttered office. A good time to purge and restructure.

On the home front, leaf raking was a good impetus for other small projects. The hoses are emptied and in the basement. The garden fencing put away. My scooter got put into the backyard and readied for winter. A porchful of stuff went downstairs: chain saw, hedge trimmer, extension cords, porch screens, porch furniture. Some tubs of summer clothes went downstairs, the basement got a little bit of cleaning and reorganization. Snow shovels were brought up.

Still lots to do. There are still leaves on the trees, so raking is not finished. The porch roof is full of leaves; the gutters need to be cleaned out. The vegetable garden will get cleaned out. The basement needs much attention.

But things are happening. It feels good.

Lucky

I was raking leaves yesterday. It was a beautiful day for it - no wind, bright sun and blue sky, some leaves still on the trees but most of them on the ground - dry and crunchy. I bagged up 5 full paper sacks from the backyard, raked the driveway leaves and the front yard ones to the curb for pickup.

Raking the leaves in the driveway, I spied a quarter. Not uncommon, really - I am the type to drop coins from my pockets or purse, and my bedroom, car, and office are often fertile hunting grounds for loose change. But this was different - I raked it out of the garden by the driveway and bent to pick up a 1934 silver quarter. Back in the day, my grandfather used to collect coins, and he'd show us how to look at the edge of coins for old silver ones, which were special, more valuable. So finding a 1934 quarter - lucky.

My father was born a year before 1934. He died in 1979 - just shy of his 45th birthday. Now I, his eldest child, am 46. I'm older than my father ever was. There was a time when I thought perhaps that 45 was the limit of my life - that my genes and fate doomed me to a short life. But no, I'm 46 now. A young 46 - I stood on my hands this year, I jump up into a headstand whenever I can. This morning I ran down a balloon as it landed in a field, and I pulled it down into the field. I know I'm not young, but I feel young. A lot of life in me, a lot of life up ahead.

Death has made itself known to me a few time this past year - my doctor's family, a friend's mother, an friend of an online friend. But death has kept its distance - my family remains intact, Zippy's family as well.

Raking the leaves, picking up an armful of the leaves like skin shed by the trees, looking up into a bright blue sky pierced by skeletal branches - it's hard not to feel lucky. To be here. Breathing. Lighting a fire. Cleaning up. Wondering about it all.

November 16, 2007

Dinosaurs Suck

Well, Nigersaurus taqueti does, anyway.
While Nigersaurus' mouth is shaped like the wide intake slot of a vacuum, it has something lacking in most cleaners — hundreds of tiny, sharp teeth to grind up its food.

I confess, I have been and will remain a dinosaur geek all my life. I was a geek back in teh 60's when such stuff was less cool - before Barney, before Dinosaurs became ubiquitous on children's clothing, before Jonathon Richman, in fact.


I'm pretty sure I'll get excited about dinosaur news until I am old and grey....they are so cool!

Social Butterfly

An hour or so at the creative cocktail hour, where I enjoyed the cocktail du jour - a spur of the moment creation, dubbed a "drunken uncle martini" consisting of spiced rum, tia maria, amaretto, and cranberry juice (and garnished with a cranberry). It was pretty sweet and yummy - reminded me of a flavored brandy although less cloying. KC was there, and some other folks I know. I also fawned over Elizabeth Keithline to Mr. Wilkins, the entire Shadow Show exhbit is top notch.

Then off to Plainville for a balloon club meeting. I bought (30) 2008 calendars for my work clients (my annual holiday gift). Then off to Confettis to scout out the winter dinner location.....

I rolled back into thediveway around 10:00 p.m. - late for me.

My Family

My yoga teachers, that is. I have commented before that I have an abundance of choices in terms of yoga teachers. And they are all beloved. On Wednesday morning, I practiced with one of my teachers who I have not worked with in a while - maybe 2-3 weeks. I see her at the studio, she occasionally lays down her mat in a class I am in - and sharing our practice that way is special too. But to take a class with her felt like coming home.

This morning, another such teacher - unfurling my mat is like slipping on my flannel pajamas - familiar, safe, warm, comfortable. I would work with her 3x a week if I could. But there are so many teachers I want to work with, to learn from.

I take solace in time. There is no need to get it all in this day, this week, this month. I'm into this yoga thing for the long haul, and I will have many practices ahead of me to explore.

Abundant blessings, indeed.

November 15, 2007

Five Days on the Mat

Today, a day off.

It started on Saturday, with a Peg Power II Vinyasathon. Sunday was community yoga, which is normally a pretty mellow practice, except when Peg is leading it. Monday - Power I with Barbara. Tuesday, gentle yoga with Shankara. And Wednesday, hot yoga with Marcia. Pretty challenging week; I feel all strong and deep ache in a good way. I'm also getting pretty good at doing Sirsasana without needing the wall behind me - I try to do a headstand for a few minutes before every practice, just to get comfortable with it.

Today, a full morning of work, then up to Springfield with the Zipster. And tonight, choose one: Creative Cocktail Hour, or Balloon Club meeting. The former is probably more fun, the latter is more responsible (we're organizing the winter dinner).

Die Hard with a Big Mac

I had a terrorism / home invasion dream last night. Except, it took place at the McDonald's restaurant I used to work at (circa 1977 - 1982) in Framingham, MA.

The basic plot - working the overnight cleaning shift, a guy comes in with a cell phone, set to dial which would ostensibly set off three bombs on the roof. Not sure what he wanted (money? revenge?) in return for not setting off the bombs. There were also two other people there (a man and a woman) who may or may not have been in on the scheme. All three of them seemed familiar, perhaps they worked there.



In the course of the dream, I ended up grabbing the cell phone detonator and throwing it out into the street, where it go run over. At some point, inebriated people kept showing up because the parking lot lights had been left on; I had to figure out how to turn them off. At another point, I ended up on the roof, climbing through a ceiling hatch that I needed to get a ladder to access, looking for the bombs (which ended up being plastic gasoline cans with just a little bit of gas in them), and then the two bad guys came up there, so I ended up locking them on the roof.....

What was weird was how things were pretty close to when I worked there, but not quite. For example, the electrical panel to turn off the parking lot lights was in the same place of the store that I remember it, but instead of simple breakers, there was some complicated joystick affair that could have come out of a nuclear power plant simulation. And the hatch to the roof - there was a hatch at my McD's, but it was in a different place and there was a ladder built in to the wall to access it.....

November 13, 2007

Capitalist Frustration

So I lost my bank ATM card. I've been looking around for it for about a week, to no avail. It appears that I left it in a machine, and it got eaten as a result, and reported as LOST. I found that out today.

I went to the bank to deposit a check and get some money. Since I had no ATM card, I waited in line. And waited. And waited. Bank lines on week days seem to be pretty much full of senior citizens, who perhaps do not trust ATM's and do not mind waiting in line. But they also tend to have long transactions. So the line was long and slow.

After doing my normal banking (about 20 minutes), I end up in an office trying to get a new card.

Problem #1 - They have no record of there being a card on the account. I gave them the date and amount of my last transaction, and yes, they see that I must have had a card, but they have no record of it. That's when I found out my card had already been reported as LOST, back on 11/2. Now - good customer service would have dropped me a note, hey loser, you lost your card. Hey customer, we're sending you a new one. But no.....

It took another 30 minutes for them to figure out what I needed to do. Then I had to leave for a hair appointment, and took the form I needed with me. I stopped in another branch en route back to work and took care of things - which was still complicated - since my checking and savings accounts had different addresses and phone numbers. Lots of pieces of paper to sign, lots of database fields to update. Another 30 minutes.

I think I am all set - but whew, that was annoyingly difficult.

Hopefully the replacement card will come soon so I do not need to actually interface with bank employees for another 18 months or so.....

Voting in Hartford

Bill Curry had a great (by which I mean to say, depressing) piece about the Hartford mayoral race and voting trends, in Sunday's Hartford Courant. Some bullets:

* Spending $600,000 to garner 6,453 votes, Mayor Perez spent about $93 per vote. By comparison, Ned Lamont spent $44 per vote in his then record-breaking run for the Senate.

* More votes were cast for the winning mayoral candidate in Torrington (population 36,000, less than 1/3 of Hartford's population)

* More Hartford residents are likely to get arrested this year (~16,000) than voted (~14,000)

Stuff like this reinforces my occasional opinion that a benevolent dictatorship might be a preferred form of government to a democracy. Some people seem to have abandoned ownership and responsibility for their goveernment. And I'd almost support a law that forced a governor-appointed mayor if the percentage of the population that voted was not above some minimum.

Like I said, depressing....

November 12, 2007

Media Darling

You might catch me on tonight's news (WTNH-8 or MYTV-9) at 10:00 pm. - a news story about ballooning that was taped a few months back; I was in the basket with the talent and the photographer.

Or maybe not. We shall see.....

Edit: I avoided the camera, for the most part apparently - you can see my hair on the right side of the frame at one point, and that's me holding the mouth of the balloon open behind the flame. But my friend Robert (BB, here on the blog) got some decent camera time. And that was a fun flight....



Webcast here on WTNH.COM

RIP George Michael Evica

Courant article here

As a long time listener to the sub-92.0 part of the FM radio dial, I have heard Mr. Evica's show over the years. And while I am not a particular believer in this sort of conspiracy theory, it was always thought-provoking and entertaining.

I ran into him once - in a grocery store check-out line; he was wearing a WWUH jacket so I asked if he had a show, and indeed he did.

If the truth is out there, surely he is delighting as I write this in having the final solution: seeing the things he got right, the things he missed, and the things that were far worse than he imagined.

Saying Goodbye

My 1996 Saturn, the one with 255,700 miles on it, is positioned at the head of the driveway, nose to the street. All my junk is cleaned out, the plates are off, I removed the aftermarket stereo, the door will be left open and the keys in it. Contractors for WNPR/CPTV are coming to fetch it; I am donating it rather than simply junking it or trying to sell it.

Call me a dork, but I got a little weepy yesterday as I finished clearing it out. That car has been with me for many years and many miles. I bought it soon after I started my business - I leased it for 3 years thinking it might make sense (being self employed) and then bought it when I had put too many miles on it (in effect making payments for six years). Still, it was a good value - I got so many miles out of it and did not put all that much money into it - gas and oil, tires and brakes, one set of shocks and struts, one clutch, one radiator, maybe a few sets of plugs and wires, and some odds and ends. It never broke down or left me stranded in all those years and miles.

I'm not the sort of person to personify a vehicle - none of my cars have had names or genders, and buying a car for me is a study in impartiality. But still, I've thanked things and spaces when I said goodbye to them. My house in Waterbury - I walked from room to room, thanking the house for sheltering me, for witnessed so many years. My first office in Newington - I walked the perimeter, facing each corner. And now this car.

I suspect with this many miles, the car is headed to the junkyard, or maybe being parted out. Or maybe not. Regadless, it's surely lived a long life and driven more miles than most. It's been as far North and East as Maine, as far South and West as Pennsylvania - but really most of its miles have been driven in CT and MA. A good solid decade of motion, of movement, of action.

November 11, 2007

Savasana Enightenment

A challenging community yoga - jammed into the small studio (national workshop in the big studio) - and a vigorous vinyasa class. I suspect I will have to catch Peg subbing a gentle class to catch something different from her, because this was pretty similar to her normal power classes. Not what I anticipated.

But during Savasana, not particularly deep or long, a fleeting image. My shiny fish or flame, of which I am a part. But in the past, I perceived a relationship - the divine as a separate entity of which I am a part. Today, the thought that perhaps there is no individual divinity - perhaps the divine is simply the sum of each individual spirit.

Something to throw into the mix. As the Enlightenment Intensive looms, the seeking energy in me begins to stir. It is a time to be open, a time to be watchful for the spirit making itself known in the world and in myself.

Best Laid Plans......

What was supposed to happen: I went to community yoga, I got out, called BB and K2, change at the studio, and meet them in Plainville at Confettis around 4:30 p.m.

What really happened: I called around 4:10 p.m. BB and K2 sounded a bit disoriented, and said "meet us there in an hour". I went home, changed, hung out with Zippy and MP for a bit. Around 4:50 (20 minutes before we were supposed to meet) the cell phone rings with "where are you?" When I said "at home" I got the news - they had double booked the night and had to be someplace at 6:00 p.m.

Bottom line: I blew off Confetti's - we'll do it some other time. Grumble. S'ok; we're cooking asparagus, baked potatoes, and some hame for din-din..... and I could use a bit more down time.....

Wild Child's - Plainville, CT

I might have a new favorite place in the Farmington Valley for post-ballooning breakfast.....

Wild Child's, 33 East Street (Rte. 10), Plainville, CT is located in what used to be a Burger King on Rte. 10. It was recommended by one of our balloon passenger's this morning. It's presently open for breakfast and lunch. They've done a minimal job of making it over inside - nothing fancy - but it works. Sort fo finished picnic tables with benches in the middle, taller tables with high chairs along the windows, and a counter as well. They served huge cups of coffee.

Notable on the breakfast menu: sweet potato pancakes and sweet potato hash browns, cajun hash browns, andouille sausage, and home made biscuits. Lot's of influences in evidence: southern, cajun, tex-mex. Not your usual central CT fare - where the most exotic thing on the breakfast menu is kielbasa (not that there is anything wrong with that!) It's not the cheapest place in the valley - our breakfasts were around $7.50, but you get a lot.

This morning things were S-L-O-W (I think a few tables got up and left, sadly), but the waitress explained that one of the cooks had walked out. So they get a pass, just this once. And the waitstaff seems a little green - again, for a fairly new place on an exceptionally bad day, that can be forgiven. They were certainly friendly, just a bit harried. I need to take Zippy for breakfast and see how they are on a weekday; maybe this week while he is recovering....and based on the breakfast menu, I bet they have some interesting things for lunch as well.

They really ought to post their menu online - since it's both extensive and exceptional - and their website (very basic) does not do justice to the place....

I hope they last. I hope they get their act together in terms of being able to handle weekend traffic. (my fellow balloonists do not suffer slow service well) Because I'd love to make Wild Child's a regular post-ballooning breakfast spot!

November 10, 2007

Misplaced Name and Face

OK, you were in Peg's yoga class this morning. Slender, cropped blond hair, baseball cap, driving a minivan.

You seemed to make a lot of eye contact; and looked like you were abotu to come over and say hello but perhaps I did not give you the "I remember you" face. I am sure we've met somewhere and I should know you and greet you by name and stuff. Maybe you were even the person to say "Hi Jude" at Jenny Boylan's talk at U-Conn.

But I'm horrible with names and faces. So if you read this, drop me a line, say hello. And I am sorry. And remind me where we've met.

Weekend Looming

Saturday morning, and my weekend is refreshingly unplanned. I'm so used to having a plan, a list of commitments, a schedule with the down times squeezed out, that a weekend without a lot to do seems both luxurious and unsettling. I will try to resist the urge to fill up the next 48 hours with commitments. There is a yoga workshop this weekend that I resisted (did not seem to be that resonant with my practice, and I wanted to keep the weekend clear to nurse ZIppy if need be) and the weather remains uncooperative for ballooning.

I do have some things penciled in. Yoga this morning - I have not been to Peg's Power II class in a while and I'm looking forward to it - good to have had a day off yesterday to recharge. Lot's of vinyasa, nearly aerobic, and lot's of precision. A few weeks ago I started doing Upward Facing Dog with my knees elevated, and it was Peg kicking some ass and saying "if you are doing upward dog, knees off the mat, if your knee's are down, you do cobra, and none of this in between stuff" and a light went off in my head. So know I have three backbend postures (cobra, low cobra, and upward dog) and they are each discrete and deliberate.

Later today, MYA and I are gonna do a support space thing; we do not get there too often between her weekend work schedule and my busy life. Nice to spend some time with her that is not "mom, drive me somewhere"

Tomorrow, we might get some ballooning in, although no specific flight plans. And in the afternoon, perhaps a social visit to Confettis in Plainville for drinks and munchies. BB, K2, and I volunteered to plan the annual balloon club winter dinner in January (because the dinner has been getting a bit stale over the years). So we need to check the place out, commit, and start planning.

Oh, and leaves out there. Zippy is in no shape to rake for the rest of the season, so I will step up. He's done most of the work so far, so it's my turn.

November 09, 2007

Bill Curry: Amusingly Bitter

In a piece on this morning's All Things Considered - look for audio online tomorrow.

A piece on CT's political corruption by Mike Peska, with a significant chunk of commentary by Mr. Curry. Mr. Peska said something like (paraphrasing here) "....Mr. Curry is outspoken and, dare we say, amusingly bitter, about the problems..."

November 08, 2007

Welcome to 2003, at least

Call me a late adopter. Today I burned a CD with 11 albums worth of music in MP3 format and tried it in my new car stereo (it worked) so I can leave one disk in there and mess around with 11 albums worth of tunes. Warm archaic techno-geeky fuzzies.

For the curious, the 11 albums included (2) Steve Forbert, (3) The Kennedys, (2) David Wilcox, Catie Curtis, Lucy Kaplanky, Greg Brown, and one something else. ALl courtesy of eMusic.com.

Hero du Jour

JEAN DE SMET was elected first selectwoman in Windham Tuesday, the first Green Party candidate to win a top municipal post in state history. Courant story here.

A master electrician who refers to herself as a construction worker, de Smet said she's one of fewer than 10 women in her 500-person union.

and
De Smet is a founder and co-coordinator of the popular Third Thursday Streetfests, which brings thousands of people to downtown Willimantic from May to October.

She organizes and gives wagon tours of Willimantic's Victorian neighborhoods and has helped produce and run a number of local festivals. De Smet has served on the town's affirmative action commission, the open space and conservation commissions, the board of the local food co-op, the YMCA and the Community Land Trust of Windham Inc.

Congratulations, Windham. Congratulations, Jean de Smet. Hope it's a fruitful, fulfilling, and productive term.....

November 07, 2007

Home Again

Zippy and I are back home. He's pretty zonked but not too bad. I ran out to pick up some prescriptions.

All safe and sound.

Spam maybe...but fun nevertheless

The very act of believing creates strength of its own.
Boo :)))
I am human and let nothing human be alien to me.
We movie stars all end up by ourselves. Who knows? Maybe we want to.
In order to change, we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Blogging from Baystate

10:00 a.m. - For some reason, Baystate Medical Center has WiFi. Good on them.

I'm here with Zippy, who is here for a bit of surgery. I seem to be more upset / worried by this than Zippy; I've been through a comparable dance with the steel side of a knife, so I project my own experiences onto him. I've sort of cried myself to sleep the last few nights over it.

12:15 p.m. - Just sent the Zipster on his way to the OR - his surgery team is all women. I'm headed home to let the dogs out and stuff, then back here to meet him on the back end.....he should be coming home tonight.

2:15 p.m. - A quick two hours of errands, involving lunch, gasoline, driving back to Hartford, the post office, and watering and snacking the animals. Then back up to Baystate. At 2:15, a few minutes south of the hospital, Dr. Johnson called to let me know the surgery was complete and no problems.

2:38 p.m. - Back in the waiting area, taking advantage of comfy seats and free WiFi. I only lament missing the coffee at the Friendly's Cafe downstairs.....hoping Zippy is not too sick from the anesthesia, and wondering how long I will end up waiting around today....

4:30 p.m. - I'm in with the Zipster now. He's conscious and slightly nauseuous. Laying back with a spit bowl at the ready, and a washcloth on his forehead. It's a look, I guess. They are giving him some Lactated Ringer's Injection USP for the nausea. I'm still blogging - hospital-wide WiFi don't cha know....and Zippy is not really in the mood for chit-chat. Not sure how long it will be until they let him loose.....

Hartford Elections

Near as I can tell all the incumbants won.

Nothing to see here, move along.....

November 06, 2007

Getting Out the Vote

We got a bunch of phone calls today from campaigns - more than most because there are two of us here with different names. I've also been getting calls for Zippy at work which, in retropect, were probably also election related. (My work number started off as 2nd line in the house, so Zippy's name is probably still attached to it in some databases)

We also got a personal visit (no idea from who, we told them "we voted already" before they could make a pitch)

Nothing like a contested local election to stir up the local political machines.....

Yoga Update

Hey, what's up on the mat? You may ask, and I may tell?

I've had a good run of yoga practice - C subbed in for Friday morning and Sunday morning, don't let her gentle affect fool you, she leads a pretty strong practice. Anyone who tossed in a dolphin 5 minutes into practice has my attention. In between, 3 hours with B, getting my Hips, Pelvis, adn SHoulders worked over. After that, I felt a little like Stretch Armstrong or Reed Richards or better still, Slinky Dog. My arms and legs were slid, my middle all wiggly and loose.

Monday, I eschewed the Monday night power class for a Yin Yoga class - in many ways more challenging to me, but also restorative. And this morning, Carissa's hot class (refreshingly full due to her "free hot yoga" week) with the added bonus of a few friendly faces. I felt really happy for Carissa as I worked through the practice - she's such a good and accessible teacher and I hope this week is a good investment for her in terms of building a following.

So yeah, five solid days on the mat. That's probably it for me until Friday - tomorrow I am ferrying Zippy up north to the docs, and Thursday MYA and I have a (hopefully final) date in Manchester.....

Protest Vote

So I voted today - trial #2 with the optical scanners (I also used them in the primary). Pretty empty in Precinct 11 at Batchelder School; although a full parking lot meant I got to park down the driveway, and avoid the polling place campaigners (one older woman tried to intercept me on the way in, but I escaped)

I cast my vote for I. Charles Mathews - a protest of sort because I do think the strong-arm tactics of the present administration are problematic. I also voted anti-Perez for the council, with votes going to the Working Families, Green, Reform, and the Mozzicato for Hartford candidate. (curiously named Mozzicato). Again, no strong beliefs, just a vague dislike of consolidating executive branch power at the local level akin to the national level.

I suspect Mayor Perez will win; and that does not upset me greatly - I do think he's done a lot better for the city than previous regimes, I just think he's been ignoring the North End in favor of schools and the South End, and falling prey to creeping corruption that can only get worse in another term.

Way too efficient....

The City of Cleveland traffic authority, that is.

Apparently, in August, I was going a bit too fast (47 in a 35 zone) through an intersection (Chester Avenue eastbound @ East 71st Street) equipped with photo surveillance. Not only do they get red light violations, they also clock speed via the pavement sensors. So....I got a $100 ticket in the mail.

Since I was driving a rental car (er....a minivan, that's all they had at the airport, and isn't that embarrassing) they tagged the rental car company which sent them my name. So I still get the ticket.

On the other hand, since they automate the ticketing process, they also automate the payment process (via the web). You can even go online to see the photos.

But still....kind of sterile and cold, no? I mean, how much better to have the cop pull you over, feel the rush of adrenaline, attempt to be submissive and compliant enough to sweet talk a warning.....

I found a press release about this dated August 17, 2007 - and since I was ticketed on August 14, it must be a fairly new program.

I'm pretty blase about speeding tickets - I speed often enough and without getting bagged that when do get pulled over, I figure its just my time; karma coming due. But this Deus Ex Machina thing - I'll have to think about it. Normally, when I get pulled over by a cop, it slows me down for a while - but here, its been business as usual since August, and the incident seems distant enough to have become depersonalized (I actually went back into my files to confirm I was in Cleveland on that date; I do recall ending up with a minivan that trip) - so now what do I do?

November 05, 2007

Blogging from the New Laptop

Well, that was fast.....

So Much for Work Today

The new laptop showed up. (Yeah, Office Depot)

I was able to get two reports out this morning, and I really will try to get the rest of the backlog out today. But yeah, it's pretty much a given fact that I will be messing around with the computer, installing software and updates, getting the networking connected, etc.

Mum's the Word

Not avoiding y'all, honest. Just that without my laptop, I am restricted to sneaking time in on Zippy's computer, or coming in to work. I tend to blog in odd found minutes - when I wake early, before I retire, or when I catch a few minutes at home. And I have been busy to boot.

The replacement laptop in inbound for delivery today (with any luck) so I should be back to minimal access at some point; although it will take me a while to get everything loaded and moved and restored to the point where I can work remotely and the like. But damn, a good lesson in how much I depend on that sucka!

November 03, 2007

Horses Saved From Slaughter

In today's Hartford Courant
Goldmark's new best friend was one of 30 horses rescued this week from two Manitoba farms that supply urine from pregnant mares that is used to make Premarin, the popular drug used for estrogen-replacement therapy to treat menopausal women.

The farms sell the urine to Wyeth, the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant, which made almost $1 billion in Premarin sales in 2006. The Humane Society of the United States said most foals that result from Premarin-created pregnancies are eventually slaughtered for meat.


If you are taking supplemental estrogen (as I am) PLEASE consider a plant-based formula, such as Ethinylestradiol instead of Premarin (which derives its name from (PREgnant MARes' urINe). There is no need to bring these beautiful creatures into the world for the sole purpose of slaughter, for meat that we in the west would not even eat.

Fast Friday

Today blew by - popped into the office early to get some reports out. Then off to hot yoga (subbed....but good). Off to the DMV to get a title changed (DMV Wethersfield was empty and the staff was highly helpful). Quick stop in at the office and home, then off to WHY for my first official daytime shift.

It's been ages since I worked a job like that - a list of things to-do, phones ringing, have to be someplace tending the store for a few hours. A good day, with no major problems.

Then, back to work for a few, to clear out the email and messages. Home to cook supper. Then off to a wake.

Looks liek the weekend might be a ballooning washout (due to the remnents of Tropical Storm Noel) which is not horrible - I have a 3 hour yoga workshop on Saturday and we're headed north for family birthday stuff on Sunday.

November 01, 2007

First of the Month

I spend a good chunk of the first of the month doing invoicing - I have 5 clients who are on retainer, and each month I send an invoice and summarize the month's projects.

Kind of a pain in the neck. But it's nice to fatten up the receivables a little bit, and its a nice reminder about projects pending, long term direction, etc.

Whoops

My old Dell laptop, which has taken lots of abuse and been around for too many years, bit the dust this morning. I got the power cord caught in my shoe and pulled it off the table it was on, bedside. Cracked the display. Argh.

I'm due for an upgrade anyway (I try to upgrade my desktop and laptop in alternating years) so I went and ordered a Toshiba Satellite from Office Depot. Much like cars, laptops are pretty generic to me. I'll use what I have.

But - annoying. I'll be loading software, backing up the laptop files, and messing around with it for a few weeks.