April 29, 2009

Wide Open

I worked a shift down at the yoga studio yesterday, and the after effects of the Enlightenment Intensive hit me foursquare. Pretty much every human being I came into contact with (old friends, strangers, in person, via phone) got this full, intense, attention. Several commented on my energy. My young friend Kate got it with both barrels (a hug, an "I love you", and various intense dialogs)

And pretty much every person who crossed my path took me away from my work tasks - so the rather mundane (but necessary) sign-in sheets and email marketing composition fell to the back burner.

Love the feeling, but not so easy to get back to life with all this sparkling brightness going on.....

Work Cranky

FINALLY finished up a big, painful report for work, last night around 11 pm. This boat anchor has been around my neck since before the enlightenment intensive (was trying to get it out before I left, and failed). I do these semi automated reports for one of my clients. Reports based on an old technology piece of test equipment (~5MB data file) take about an hour, those with a newer generation device (~500MB file size) take longer - the large file size in particular turns my desktop into a sluggard. I bill 2 hours for the latter (what the market will bear) even though the reports take a little longer. I have been hoping to improve efficiency (through purchasing a faster computer, and developing more task automation) but the volume (1-2 sites per month vs. 30-40 for the old technology) has not warranted so much attention.

I bill a fixed rate per report - some take a little less time, some a little more. It averages out. However, this particular report was extremely painful - a longer than usual monitoring period (3 weeks vs. 1 or 2), and the test equipment was hooked up at a troublesome location. Load side of a circuit breaker (where power was switched off daily, resulting in 20 captured "power outages" that were not really outages) and where the voltage probes were subject to mechanical vibration (my guess) so there were 100's of transient events, overvoltages, etc. that I needed to look at, assess, and decide if I needed to discard, discount, or report.

The report grew from typically 20 pages to over 50, and I had well over 8 hours of time in (possibly as many as 12). I can justify billing perhaps 4, twice the standard rate, because of the complications. Not going to press the issue - this is my best customer, I bill 30-40 hours a month, and it's generally pretty low maintenance work. Maybe 2-3 of these pull your hair out sort of sites per year.

Anyway, glad to be done with it. After I finished it up, I set about sorting through the incoming queue of reports (another 10 hours or so, none marked URGENT, so I can add another 5-6 hours to the April invoice without much trouble). I also have some fairly large and time consuming projects piled up for other clients that I would love to complete before Friday. Not sure how successful that all will be.....

April 28, 2009

It's All About Me....(not really)

But I'm eating up a column inch or so of my allotment of fame....

More People Learning To Become Yoga Instructors
By VALERIE FINHOLM | Special to The Courant / April 29, 2009
Jude Russell, an electrical engineer from Hartford, recently completed her training at West Hartford Yoga. Russell , 48, who now teaches yoga part-time at the West Hartford studio, says she decided to become a teacher after many years of practicing yoga. She describes herself on her website as a "yoga addict."

"It has to do with doing something because your heart and your spirit directs you rather than because you're making money," Russell says.

Circle in the Square Drummers - May 5th

Starts on May 5th, 2009 and occurs every month on the first Tuesday of the month until October 1st, 2009. 7:00 PM

Location: Blue Back Square, Memorial Drive, West Hartford, CT

Contact: (860)523-8943

The Blue Back Square Drummers return! This year, it's an open drum circle for all ages and abilities to come and play and dance along with us! Please bring your own drum for this one- we will only be providing a few extras. This is a free event in the square between Barnes & Noble and the library.

Jude notes: Spreading the news. My friends Craig and Virginia are in the middle of this. You should be, too!

Enlightenment Intensive V - The Afterglow

Somehow, posting about an intensive experience on the internet (or Facebook, where this post started) seems to be the epitome of irony. Or maybe its just the "everything seems funny" aspect of post-intensive experience. I was laughing out loud in Barb's core-ab class tonight (had to actively shut down the urge to giggle at every other thing she said) and I limited my urges to give her a hug and otherwise engage her delightful anotherness to before and after class. Another is entirely too interesting to focus on something as mundane as a physical practice...

On the technical side, a smallish intensive. 8 participants (6 newcomers, 2 veterans) plus two silent monitors who often sat in dyad. Staff described it afterwards as relatively quiet (not a lot of fireworks) but these things are always powerful regardless of the pyrotechnics. The facility was great - isolated, good vegetarian food (not exactly whole food / macro, but nourishing and comforting)

I'm still processing my experience (little "e") - I worked on "What is Another?" which seems to be a really difficult question. No Direct Experience for me, but a lot of clearing, and a couple of total melt-downs. I tend to go for catharsis in these things; a box (or two) of tissue has my name on it. The yearning, or desire, for direct experience seemed to trigger these drop-offs into the pit of sadness, smallness, inadequacy. In both cases, staff came and held space, helped me communicate my pain, and gently led me back to the space and the process.

Personally, I'm struggling with technique, especially on "another" - working on the Who or What of myself seems a little less convoluted, and my brain seems to treat the whole experience as a puzzle to be solved, trying to attain a direct experience via a constructed process based on past intensives and interacting with others through the enlightenment experience.

As usual, I got down as Sunday evening drew close (I tend to get pretty upset about not having a DI, and often start creating stories of how I am unsuited for this sort of work, how I am incapable of a DI, how this is my Last Intensive Ever (tm), etc.

Was speaking to Barb last night about my relative lack of physical struggle with the intensive process (headache, fatigue, back pain, etc.) and wondering what that was about. It's not like a live a particularly clean life outside of Intensive space so I would expect to be doing a fair amount of detoxing like others. I suspect I am just getting good at managing the process (knowing what to expect, knowing my needs and limitations, and taking care of myself). And perhaps I am just physiologically a little better suited to dealing with toxins (Shankara says I ought to tak to Nykki about that, she has some theories)

As I closed with Barb I noted that "I really need to take a look at Intensives - I'm getting a little too comfortable at these things (the discomfort and pressure is somewhat integral to the process) and have to figure out some way to take it to a new level" Right about that time, Shankara popped in to the studio and after taking about this intensive, suggested I consider staffing (silent monitoring) a future intensive. As usual, I barely need to open my mouth with a request and the universe places what I need at my feet.

While You Were Out

Coming back from a four day immersion into the self and others - sans media, clocks, phones, the internet, etc. - is that upon returning, one can see the breakneck pack of life, and appreciate the roots of stress, of mindlessness, of a frenetic spinning up of the brain that can challenge any spiritual practice or attempt at mental health.

As I was leaving on Thursday, the local water crisis (Copepods and Rotifers) was just getting started. In four short days I missed a Springsteen concert (yes, I had tickets, and apparently, it was awesome), the start of a potential pandemic (completely off the grid on Thursday), a 9/11-ish airplane scare in NYC (my PTSD suffering friends are freaking), Bea Arthur passed away. And I'm not even talking about sports stuff (which mostly falls balow my radar regardless of how connected I am)

None of which, really and truly, impacts my life all that much; even the water suppy stuff - local to me. One of my friends from the intensive noted, well water is full of those little critters, and we drank it all our lives). A quick net search produces a study where copepods were introduced into drinking water to control the virus causing Denque Fever.

A good lesson that our obsession to the "news" - to the media, to all the buzz and hub-bub, is so much a product of our monkey minds just trying to keep busy and justify their existence, and so often, disposable.

April 27, 2009

The Woodpecker

This woodpecker
Ra-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat
Laughingly calls, "Join me!"
I struggle to see it

Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye
I catch a glimpse,
Black and white and speckled feathers
Crested with wisdom and fire
Mischievously darting amond the still-bare trees
A flash of color and light and motion
and gone

I've seen a woodpecker
Dull and dead, stuffed and posed in a quiet room
I've read of its life, its habits
Its food, its home, its passions

But I seek this bird in the wild, free,
Flashing, vital, amazing

And so I go walking in the woods now and then
Just in case.

Jude / April 2009
Dedicated to my fellow seekers and staff at the Vibrance Enlightenment Intensive
Held April 2009, Gove Hill Retreat Center, Thetford, VT


A quick poem I composed as part of our Monday morning re-integration

More from Hartford Party Starters Union

Got a nice note from Hartford Party Starter General regarding my February blog posting, with this clarification:
Thanks for blogging about us a couple months back! Just want to clarify a couple points. We're staunchly anti-Whalers nostalgia, which explains the dead Puckie graphic on the flyer. We agree, they're gone and people need to confront that reality and move on to a new, brighter, and cooler future. Again, that was the message we hoped to convey having the whale harpooned.


Which I kind of get (dead Whale as satire). Although there are some mixed messages going on (the "F*ck Bob Kraft" buttons make me think there are still some unresolved issues)

Since I blogged in February, they've set up a blog Central Connecticut Foam Parties and are presently in a pissing content with Colin McEnroe (I suspect they would win and actual pissing content, being beer drinkers and all, Colin generally drinks vino.)

I'm still looking for that old tape of Roadrunner....

It Was the Best of Times, and the Worst of Times

Back from the Enlightenment Intensive (my fifth) and it was a mixture of good (the actual Intensive) and bad (some car issues)

First the bad. En route, my GPS sent me up some unpaved back roads (not a good idea in Vermont, weeks after mud season) and along the way, I bottom out hard on a rock in the road. No immediate damage evident (no warning lights, drove fine), but a mile or so up to road, as I pulled into the retreat house drive, I started spilling transmission fluid. Made it into the parking area, and as I unpacked my luggage, a pool of red fluid seeped between my feet. Uh-oh.

So the car is at a garage in White River Juntion, VT awaiting an insurance appraisal, estimate, and repair. Assuming it can be repaired, I will need to get up there at some point to pick up the car - probably Amtrak (more fun) or Greyhound (better schedule).

On the plus side:

* I just let it go. Non-attachment and all that. I got to the intensive, I was expected to let go of my outside life (cell phone, computer, etc.) and I did, without much worry. I noted the flatbedcoming up the drive (caught a glimpse of it during a dyad) and the car being gone, I went out to clean out purses and electronics, but otherwise - transparent to me.

* The Intensive staff (Curt and Michael, especially) did a totally awesome job of taking care of things - calling insurance, arranging for a tow (actually a flatbed) to get the car, etc. I did nothing but a very brief phone interchange (to confirm it was really me) and agree to let them take care of things.

* A chance to chat and get to know Curt (primary staff, and a local intensive regular) better. He gave me some completely awesome insights into my own intensive process and perhaps a new spin on some of my prior intensive experiences.

The Intensive itself was pretty wonderful. Mixed of course, and bittersweet at the end, but a lot of opening and clearing and a few pretty major core dumps. I am (according to those who know os such things) "wide open".

Tired now and trying to limite my computer time for a few days. Will report more anon.....

April 23, 2009

Open Studio - West Hartford Yoga - April 25

West Hartford Yoga (WHY) is holding an Open Studio event on Saturday, April 25th, 2009 from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.

Free yoga classes will be offered during the day:

Class / Teacher / Time
WHY Power I Barbara 12:15 - 1:15 pm
Intro to Yoga Shankara 1:30 - 2:30 pm
Hot Yoga Nykki 2:45 - 3:45 pm
Gentle Yoga Carissa 4:00 - 5:00 pm
WHY Kids Rebecca 5:15 - 6:00 pm

In addition, free chair massage will be available from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

Drop in anytime to see the studio, meet WHY staff and students, and learn about yoga. Enjoy Open Studio discounts on class cards and studio merchandise, raffles, refreshments, and special surprises all day. If you have been curious about yoga, this is a perfect opportunity to visit the studio, talk to teachers, and try something new!

West Hartford Yoga offers over 50 weekly classes, including gentle, hot, power, kids, teens, restorative, and prenatal yoga. Visit our website for more information including special $5 classes, free weekly meditation, and a continually updated listing of workshops, trainings, and national teachers. For West Hartford Yoga information, call 860-953-YOGA (9642) or visit www.westhartfordyoga.com

April 21, 2009

Enlightenment Intensive V

I'm headed out on Thursday for my fifth Enlightenment Intensive. Five, you say? One imagines that, having achieved enlightenment, one might, you know, not need to go back for more.

Alas, the nature of the beast. Our puny little human minds can only hold on to bliss for a brief period; conversely, have tasted such bliss, we desire it all the more. So I am off.

Kind of excited about this one. My previous EI weekends - 11/06, 4/07, 12/07, and 12/08 were all kind of different. (I like to go back and reread my blog posts immediately post-EI, help to bring me back to the work and to the experience / wisdom) But I do think the most recent two were side trips, of a sort. In the 12/07 one, I got wrapped up in a lot of junk, and the 12/08 one was, to some extent, an uwrapping even as I did the EI work. So I feel like maybe I am going to pick up here where the 4/07 one left off. Working with the same Intensive master too - Maggie Fox. So I will be off the grid from about mid-day Thursday through Monday morning.

I dreamed about the Intensive last night - a phone call right before bed from a friend who is driving up with me perhaps triggered this. I dreamed I had forgotten all my "props" (blanket, shawl, meditation cushion). I dreamed that, the night before the intensive, my roommates at the retreat house were drinking (lots of empty wine bottles in the bedroom). I dreamed that, as we prepared to turn over our keys, phones, etc. at the start of the intensive, that I could not find my coat / keys, and so could not go get my spare blanket out of the trunk.

Am I not ready (or fear I am not) for this intensive? Am I overpreparing, or too reliant / attached to my intensive armor? Interesting.

April 20, 2009

Vocabulary Mangling from Unexpected Places

***** Snark On *****

There is a WNPR spot running of late, an ad for a story about the local library as a source of books and DVDs, an alternative to bookstores and video rental places in these tough economic times.

Whoever is quoted in the spot suggests that a library card is the key to "....an exponential number of books and DVDs"

Really? Because if you take out books each week, and took 1 book on Week 1, I have to imagine one would need a wheelbarrow to cart off the 128 books you'd be taking out 8 weeks later.

A large number of books and DVDs - sure. Unlimited even. But exponential? Not really....

***** Snark Off *****

I've just heard this spot a bunch of times lately and each time it bugs me.

April 19, 2009

Third Shift at McDonald's

First off, this posting violates the prime directive of this blog, established back in December 2005. So be it. Rules are intended to be bent, or broken. I will try not to make a habit of it.

Second, I confess to no particular skill at writing, story-telling, or humor. The fact is, that any story wherein the protaganist is speaking of hirself in one gender, from the perspective of living in a different gender, is going to be pretty rich territory in the categories of pathos, humor, irony, sympathy, etc. Like shooting fish in a barrel, to be honest. It's somewhat critical to the story to know that at the time, I was living as a fairly geeky young male.

So here, (more or less as told, with some additional colorations and vibrant details) is my story:

*******************************************************************

When I was in high school, I worked at McDonald's. I started out cleaning the lot & lobby (where I toiled for over a year, I was a slow learner or perhaps just patient when it came to getting shit jobs dumped on me). It was the lowest caste of fast-food employment. Over time, I worked my way into the kitchen, to the front register, eventually to crew manager (sort of half way between underpaid hourly workers and underpaid management). But the summer between high school and college, I worked the overnight shift, cleaning the restaurant after close and getting it ready for the next day. (This was back in the 70's, before fast food joints stayed open all night)

It was a two person shift - a maintenance person who cleaned the lobby, seating areas, bathrooms, and the exterior (an 8 hour job that one could finish up in 4 if one cut corners), and a close-open person who cleaned the kitchen area and got ready for the breakfast shift (my job). My co-worker that summer was a guy named Paul McNally, who was a few years older, and a business major. Paul often smoked a bit of weed in the evening before his shift, and would insist I go get my guitar, which often lived in my car, I being a wanna-be rock and roller, and also imagining opportunities to connect with young women by dint of my sensitive musical side. Paul's favorite song was that Kink's classic - Lola. He'd stonedly slur my last name "Roussel, play that L-O-L-A lola song....." Of course, being a wanna-be woman (on top of wanna be musician), Lola was dangerous ground. (Exactly what did he know, or had he guessed, about me?) But I played it.

Paul's foible was marijuana. Mine was sneaking out of the restaurant at 3:00 am, driving to a nearby goodwill trailer that always had bags of clothes piled outside, and going shopping for women's clothes. I'd grab a bag or two, and later that morning, after my shift ended, go through the clothes looking for something that fit and was worth keeping. Then I would either take the remainder back to the Goodwill trailer, or dump them somewhere. I am, for the record, not proud of this - but at that time I was too freaked out at the notion of actually going shopping for myself. The whole scared young transperson in the pre-internet, pre-daytime talk show era, when information came mostly from the library card-catalog or encyclopedia yearbook updates, led me to some less than admirable behaviors over the years.

One summer morning, after my shift, I drove my car (a 1973 periwinkle blue AMC Hornet hatchback, recently inherited from my father) over to a quiet industrial park to go through my stash. And for whatever reason, that day I decided to dump the remainder in the woods. As I finished that task, up rolls a Framingham MA police cruiser. I was bagged.

The officer approached, wondering what I was doing. I made up some story about my mom giving me a bag of clothes to take to goodwill but deciding to dump it in the woods. He told me to recollect the clothes while he called my house for confirmation.

Fortunately, this was the late 70's, before voice mail, call waiting, etc. My sister (bless her social vivaciousness) was on the phone, and so the officer could not get through. So.....we waited, me in my car, looking nervously in the rear view window at the officer trying to get through to my mom.

Finally, I decided to fess up, to be honest. I stepped out of my car, and walked back to the cruiser, and as the officer cracked the window, I croaked "I need to tell you the truth". So I told him. I was a cross-dresser, I had grabbed the clothes from the goodwill box, but I was disgusted with myself so I was dumping them (ok, maybe a little lie, now that I recall it further). I suspect there were some tears involved (this being the first time in my young life I had actually admitted this to another person). He sent me back to my car.

A few minutes later, he called me back. He had a friend (perhaps he himself?) who faced "that same struggle". Get some help, you can overcome this. Take the clothes back to the goodwill box, never do this again. Understand? I most certainly did.....

I often think back to that day. How my life would have been different had the officer gotten through to my mom. Or if he had decided to arrest me. (I got arrested later that summer, for sign stealing, a story best left for another time). Or any of a dozen other permutations or outcomes.

"Wince" at Real Art Ways

I spent Saturday evening at Wince, an open mic / reading event at Real Art Ways.
Wince is an open-mic reading featuring your relics of adolescent embarrassment. Bring your teenage diaries, stories, or anything else that makes you laugh, blush, and wince. Share them during our experiment in collective humiliation.

I attempted to dig up some angsty teenage writings to read, but came up empty (things tend to be spread out in my life, and not well organized) but I felt pulled to attend, I've been too busy with taxes and work and yoga to be social, so I wandered over to RAW.

The first person I ran into was the fabulously talented / styling Anne Cubberly who also professed to not having anything to read, but had signed up anyways to tell an embarassing story. Which was all the encouragement I needed to sign up. All in all, maybe 15-20 readers / speakers, and a good sized crowd of listeners.

First off, the impact of computers and the internets on writing, creative arts, journaling, etc. was evident. The younger set had dug out long forgotten livejournal accounts to pull up their embarassing teenage years. Others had been keeping computerized journals and brought a few pages of text file printouts. Yet there were those (spread across the age spectrum) with real life actual journals - carefully scribed blank books, scribbled notebook paper, pocket calendars with entires cribbed in tiny spaces. It was a healthy mish-mash of media.

I've noted myself how useful my blogs (this one going back to 2005, as well as an earlier one that spanned 2001 - 2004) have been in checking in with my former selves. So to have had a permanent record of my middle school, high school, or college years, would have been pretty amaxing (and/or scary)

Second, amazing how many of the embarassments had to do with music, with performance. Dave M trucked out a bleached denim jacket and a CD of chestnuts from his first band. Anne C told a riotous story of a school recital debacle involving chiffon and self tanning lotion. Another recited lyrics to a song he had written about computer hackers.

And admit, that my story, entitled "Third Shift at McDonald's"was judged to be the prize winner for the evening. I'll post it in a bit. So I walked away with the coveted Hello Kitty diary (complete with rhinestones, lock, and key) - which I am to write in, and return for the winner of the next event.

All in all, a fun (and only slightly uncomfortable) evening.

April 15, 2009

Kirtan at West Hartford Yoga


It's that time again, join Shankara and Friends (including guitar and bass playing friend, yours truly) at Kirtan, at West Hartford Yoga.

Friday, April 17th, at 8:15 pm. $5 donation to the community yoga fund, and a night of bhakti yoga - chanting, music, movement, spirit.

See you there!

April 12, 2009

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Since I am way behind on taxes this year, a checklist of my items to complete today.

I'll check them off as they get accomplished.

[X] Review 2008 invoices, and enter into master spreadsheet (4/12 @ 12:26 pm)
[X] Sort through pile of 2008 bills, bank statments, credit card statments, etc. - piling, filing, binding, searching for missing months, etc. (4/12 @ 1:29 pm)
[X] Enter business checking records into spreadsheet
[X] Enter personal checking records into spreadsheet
[X] Enter credit card records into spreadsheet
[ ] Sort paper receipts and enter into spreadsheet
[X] Enter T&E reports into spreadsheet
[ ] Pull out allowable per diems for all out of town dates in 2008
[X] Reconcile 1099's with invoices and receipts
[X] Enter yoga paystubs and subbing checks
[X] Pull out vehicle mileage from expense reports, service records, and calendar

With all that done, I ought to be in a decent place to fill out tax forms. Consisting this year of:

[ ] Schedule C - Engineering
[ ] Schedule C - Yoga Teaching (new)
[ ] Schedule 1040

Pretty sure I will take the standard deduction this year, but I do have an IRA, Health Savings Account, etc.

Update: I packed it up at around 8:00 pm. All the record sorting and spreadsheeting is done except for a smallish pile of paper receipts, and looking up the IRS per diems. I signed up again for an online tax service (same one I used last year) so with any luck, I can be done tomorrow.....

Blessed

A truly holy week, yoga wise.

Monday, an evening with my friend, my mentor, my teacher Barbara - as usual a hot and strong and deep practice. So wonderful to spend an evening with her every week.

Tuesday and Thursday morning - guerilla yoga with my friend Nykki - a delicious treat to spend the morning on the mat with a dear friend, not always deep into a practice, but always deep into myself and my community.

Wednesday morning - Marcia - who challenges, who inspires, who encourages. My tweaky back cannot survive her classes every day, but when I am up for it, they are delicious and sublime. Wednesday was just such a day.

Thursday night - John - an old friend and teacher lost and found. I am only now coming to see how much of the passion and poetry of his teaching I have brought into my own. I am so happy to be able to work with him again.

Saturday morning, Nykki again. Strong and deep and funny and joyous. If some of my other practices get into my back, take me past the safest places, Nykki always reels me back in, unwinding my back and setting free my spirit. Practicing with her, my spirit sings, laughs, and becomes young.

And today, Shankara. I have on occasion described his teaching as schizophrenic - so many styles, so many influences, and you never know for sure what he will bring to the class. So too today - 7 long held postures, with some small bits of preparation and many minutes of listening to the body and moving intuitively afterwards - novel but not really a surprise. But how very delicious a practice, taking me deep into my body, and giving me a most wonderful gift of resurrection. As I lay in savasana, tears filled my eyes and I gently shook and sobbed - with awe, joy, gratitude for the chance to be alive in this body. I so often forget that most very basic, and yet most incredible, of gifts.

And some sadness too, for this precious life that I live is finite, and even as I became aware of my body and my life through the practice, I became aware of it's aging and eventual death.

A week of my practice, a chance to work with 5 most gifted teachers, friends, spirits, and guides. Most yogis would be content with just one of these to guide their practice - I have all five. I am truly and most wonderfully blessed.

Yoga. Yeah. Yoga.

IPod Touch Updating

So I've had my iPod touch a week or so. Wanted to provide a quick "how is it going?" update.

I must start out by saying that I remain truly and wonderfully in love with this thing. I am amazed by all the techno goodness packed into it, and though I have steadfastly refused to fall in love with technology (and more specifically, with Apple technology, I'm a PCer from way back), well, Steve Jobs and Company have got me hooked.

Within my tripartate world (home, work, yoga studio) I find myself within WiFi range most of the time, so I'm constantly able to quick check email, the weather, a few websites. Nice to come out of yoga, and as simply as I look at my phone for messages or call the office, to be able to scan the In Box for anything mission critical. I'm confident I will no longer haul out my laptop at airports or coffeeshops to check up on my cyberaffairs.

I've been amazed by how functional the browser is. I know it's not flash enabled (but I hate flash anyway) - but the website I maintain, loaded with various javascrit and PHP features, runs fine. And the integration of the little keyboard with forms, with log ins, is incredibly smart and useful.

Because the silly thing has a stock quote function, I find myself checking in with the market periodically. The recent economic downturn coupled with a personal burst in income has made me somewhat interested in financial doings (buy low, and all that). It's making me a capitalist. And I am sure there are a dozen other iPhone enables sites I have yet to discover.

I've started to use it for yoga, although I'm struggling with playlists (they seem to be on permanent shuffle, I'm sure there is a setting in there) so the bouncy vinyasa music impedes on the contemplative meditation music. But I suspect I'll keep burning playlists to disks - just easier.

I would love it if some of my favorite video streaming options were available. Hulu.com (for example) or Netflix. But the YouTube integration is wonderful enough.

Bottom line, great investment, I'm a believer....

Happy Oestre

April 11, 2009

Close but no cigar

"Were you interviewed for the Courant" one of the folks at the studio asked today. In fact, I was - a few weeks back for some story on people turning to alternate professions (i.e. - yoga instructor) in midlife. "It was some story about alternate spirituality" the student went on. So I came home and looked it up.

Unaffiliated Find Spiriturality Outside Organized Religion
More People Shun Traditional Faiths; Many Find Fulfillment On Their Own Terms
Story By SUSAN CAMPBELL
On Easter morning, Jude Yaeger will swing by to pick up her mother in Newington and attend a Catholic Mass. They'll go to lunch afterward, but they most likely won't talk about religion.

"She knows I'm just there for her," says Yaeger, a yoga instructor. Yaeger attends a prayer and meditation group that grew out of her and her friends' mutual search for a spiritual life. The group began meeting in each other's homes about three years ago, she says, when the friends discovered their mutual dissatisfaction with traditional worship services.

Nope, not me (I certainly would have recalled talking to Susan Campbell. Although I do have a mother that I occasionally take to Catholic mass....and I do work in Newington. And of course, I am a yoga instructor.

What is kind of freaky is that there are now three documented yoga instructors named Jude in the area. Jude Kochman is teaching over at Samadhi in Manchester. I'm at West Hartford Yoga. And now Jude Yaeger (the Google is not helpful in finding out where she teaches).

Weird - it's really not that common a name....

April 10, 2009

Things I Need to Do Today

1) Modify the departure times for ticket sales for a few days (javascript) and put tickets on sale for my website client

2) Make a dent in the queue of reports pending (7 or 8, right now) for another client

3) Start chipping away at Part II of the big spreadsheet revision

4) Implement a latest news / press page using some new software for website client, add a press release, and import the archives

5) Send out a couple of April 1 invoices.

6) Touch base with a client on a couple of large invoices that remain unpaid

7) Prep for and teach two yoga classes

Not even gonna look at my taxes today - I've decided that I'm gonna spend much of the weekend at the office, cranking them out.

April 09, 2009

Yoga Toys

I've invested in another batch of yoga toys - a dozen blocks or bricks, and ten 8' straps. I've been teaching a series in Bristol (Adult Ed) to a fairly large group (15-20), and my supply of bricks and straps does not cover the entire class. Which takes the props down a notch - from tools to use in my teaching to assists for physically tight ot limited students. I would love to say "everybody grab a block and a strap", and guide them through some ab work, some hip work, etc. - so I picked up enough to cover the class.

Not too pricey - I got them from YogaDirect.com - the small low cost blocks were $3.60 each in bulk, and the 8' straps were under $3 each.

And pretty amazing shipping - I placed the order around 6:00 pm on Tuesday the 7th, and they showed up this morning (4/9). And that was using the lowest cost shipping (Priority Mail). SO kudos to you, YogaDirect!

Now I just need to come up with some way to store and transport these.....I have one of those little plastic office cubes, but it's not big enough, kind of bulky, and falling apart. Thinking of one of those larger carts used for groceries or laundry.....

April 08, 2009

Longevity and Focus

I've been knee deep in Excel macros and VBScript for a day or so. A big spreadsheet project for a client, loaded with automation and scripting. I put this together originally back in 2004, and made some big changes in 2006 or so. Now it's time for another go around.

It's kind of interesting to be digging up the past like this. First off, I've been procrastinating on this, mainly because I'm resurrecting 3-5 year old programming skills that I honestly need to retrain myself on. Second, I've never been a particularly careful programmer (it's not my core competency, just something I am naturally pretty good at) so I have not done a good job of documentation and organization - it's kind of like a rambling estate that started off as a two room shack. And lastly, this particular project was not really intended to become a permanent tool - just something I cobbled together for my own purposes (I was assisting them in testing and evaluating the original device, back in the day) that grew into a customer tool / feature. I always envisioned a more permanent, hard coded application (not Excel based) being developed from this, but the product has hovered in an odd limbo - not successful enough to warrant a full rework, but successful enough to be maintained and continued.

It's a spreadsheet for importing, viewing and using (exporting charts and waveforms to other applications) the data from an embedded power monitor. It started off simply in 2004 - a log of sampled RMS voltages, and captured waveforms for specific voltage events. In 2006 or so, they added some features - Min / Max measurements for the voltage monitoring. And now, a more extensive product improvement - adding three channels of current monitoring (RMS measurements and waveforms), adding environmental monitoring (temperature and humidity), and adding calculated KVA (from the RMS voltage and current measurements). So the spreadsheet revision is quite extensive.

I spent a bunch of hours yesterday just going through the old code - cataloging all the macros and code to reteach myself as well as to create a reference document (for the client's use as well as my own use). I can already see at least one redundancy that I think I can streamline. It's also a bit complicated in that the spreadsheet, if left to its own devices, balloons to over 25 Meg (the data sets are very large, and Excel is a bit of a memory hog)- so there is an entire set of code dedicated to emptying the spreadsheet and deleting 1000's of rows of data upon closure, and repopulating things upon opening, to get it down to a more reasonable 5-6 Meg.

I tend to get a little fixated when I am working on a project like this - I'll sit for hours, losing track of time, creature comforts, etc. I work through meals, and late into the evening - I email myself the latest version and put in some hours at home, I show up at the office early to get a few hours in before yoga. There is a bliss in that level of single-minded concentration and focus. Now that I am so deeply into yoga and meditation, into my enlightenment experiences, I can recognize a certain preciousness in being so engaged in an activity as to lose myself .

So, if I have a glazed stare the next few days, I am writing code in my head. I'll return to the and of the living anon.

April 07, 2009

Not in Our Town

Apparently, in West Hartford, the police enforce overnight parking bans. But in Hartford, not so much.

I live in the southwest corner, mere feet from the WH town line, and the West Hartford residents, seeking to avoid a ticket for overnight parking, simply park on a nearby Hartford street, where parking enforcement is not taken quite so seriously as the next town over.

This morning, a blue Mitsubishi, "garaged" in West Hartford, but parked overnight within a few feet of a stop sign on Bristol Street on the Hartford side of the line. (an infraction on its own, and a safety issue when attempting to turn onto Hollywood, the street which sits on the town line). On garbage and street sweeping day, no less. Because, well, because they can.


Generally does not bug me too much, but it drives Zippy wild. It was an issue all winter on snow days, and now it will affect the garbage collection and street sweeping. So for the Zipster, a quality of life blog post....

April 06, 2009

Get a Blog.....

I get a bunch of email updates from various spaces I have visited - yoga studios, arts spaces, shops, restaurants. One such contact routinely sends lengthy (the last one was 850 words, 7 paragraphs) essays on various topics, right at the top of the email.

Needless to say, I rarely scroll down to see what is actually being communicated regarding the business in question. So if there were something of interest going on that I might, you know, actually visit the business and spend some money on, that sales opportunity is lost. In addition, if I were to (for example) grow weary of these updates (perhaps due to length or tone), I might simply unsubscribe rather than have them show up in my In Box each week.

This illustrates, I think, the danger of mixing marketing and editorializing. One is spending the time and money to get your business message out - so focus on that. If you really want to ponder the meaning of life, do so at the bottom of your email. Or better yet, set up a blog, and put your musings there, and then perhaps tease the blog and link to it in your email.

Awe, Respect, and Love

I spent a bunch of hours this weekend with the 2009 teacher trainees down at the yoga studio. Friday night, I practiced with them - a 2.5 hour journey into the hips that left me limp as a rag doll. Saturday night they did their first practice teaching, and I worked with them on assisting. Another long practice; they had already practiced that afternoon and then keyed up for their teaching and assisting. And finally, yesterday I was invited to assist during their noon time practice. Another long one, with an hour or so of yin yoga and then stepping up into inversion.

What an incredible honor to be invited in to witness their process, their training. After Friday's practice, I came home thinking "Did we really do that?" Three killer practices, each weekend? Of course we did. I refer back to this very blog a year ago, and I can sense my fatique, my detoxing, my sense of "Will I ever get there?" - tempered by excitement, by adventure, by hope. And looking around the room this weekend, I saw a lot of that same stuff, in process. Bodies and spirits melting, becoming annealed with Barb's particular mixture of practice, training, and love to become something harder, more durable, more lustrous.

It was so sweet to watch them teach their class - to see them move through the room and perhaps for the first time touch a student, make an adjustment, feel OK about piercing that invisible curtain of propriety and personal space that surrounds each of us. We're yoga teachers - this is what we do. Communicate. Be present. Make contact.

Sunday afternoon, to assist in their practice, to lay my hands on exhausted bodies, to witness and encourage the breath, to feel tissue softening beneath my hands - so very powerful and sacred. To share a smile with a yogi too tired to think straight, to try to pass along through my eyes and my hands "this too shall pass, you'll get through this"

It has been truly a blessing to get to know these folks - even before the training started I began to connect with individuals asking questions, feeling me out about the process they were about to submit to. And after this weekend, I am all the more blessed; I look forward to seeing these folks down at the studio, in classes, in the coming weeks, and to watch them continue this incredible process.

April 05, 2009

Hard Work

Teaching yoga that is. And assisting. I'm partway through a 4 day marathon in the studio. Friday I taught two classes, Friday night I practiced with the 2009 teacher trainees. Saturday evening, I assisted as the teacher trainees taught their first class. Sunday, I taught a class, and assisted during the teacher trainee class. And today, two more classes to teach.

Teaching and assisting like this is a lot of work. A lot of time being present - attentive to students, attentive to the sequence. A lot of body stress - moving through the room, kneeling, sitting, crouching, bending, demonstrating postures that I am not fully warmed up for. And a lot of mental stress - just being "on" for an hour or two in a way that is even more taxing than a strong practice.

I need a good hot shower (a bath would be nice too, but maybe later) and I'll be on my way. I lie awake this morning for a bit, planning my 10:45 power class. The 12:15 gentle class will come as it does, depending upon the students and the energy in the room. Already, I am pondering the wisdom of a nap this afternoon, just to recover from the long weekend. And tonight, I may grab some time on the mat with Barb myself (if she is teaching) - to bring my body and my spirit back to center, and reconnect.

My Kind of Radio Host

Dr. Joy Browne that is. According to her bio, Dr. Browne "....keeps herself inspired by dancing and practicing yoga and pilates (when she is not hot air ballooning, that is)."

Gotta love it. When I have caught her show I've always been impressed.

April 03, 2009

Yoga Marathon- Spring Edition

I'm in the middle of a string of yoga busyness.

Thursday night, yoga with an old/new teacher, an interesting exercise. He gets into deep places very subtley, and I am finding a lot of freshness and energy in my practice there that I think, will nicely season my own teaching. So far so good.

Today, I taught two classes. A power I class to a smallish group, wherein we went into the hips. I'm not a big hip teacher normally (they challenge me so much) but I took the class down - knee down lunge, pigeon, lizard, and culminating with a sweet little sequence (thanks JD) - a pigeon quad stretch, janu sirsasana, twist, knee pile, and then reverese. All about the hips! And my gentle class, filled with yoga rookies, was a little quieter and a little less strong. Not a bad thing - a rainy day and good to just simmer in the body.

Tonight, a long (2.5 hours maybe?) practice with the master, the yoga goddess Barbara who laughed as she told me tonight was all about hips (seems like every time I step into the studio with her of late we are going into the hips). An awesome practice, just wiping me out. I forget how freaking hard the teacher training practices were, and how much I miss 'em.

Tomorrow, an off day (although you know me, I may figure out some way to sneak in a quiet practice) and then the teacher training practice class at 6 - I was planning to go and practice but I've been asked to come to assist and work with the trainees. Honored, to be sure. And a little nervous - my assisting is pretty intuitive and on the fly - so to have 5 trainees tagging along, looking to learn and role model - going to be interesting.

Sunday, teaching a 9:00 am gentle class (subbing for the studio's queen of gentle, Sharon) and then coming back at noon to assist the teacher training practice. At least this time I won't be collapsing on the mat like tonight.....

Monday, I'm teaching two classes - my new Power I class at 10:45, and then subbing for Sharon again at 12:15. Working at the studio in the afternoon, and with any luck, practicing Monday night.

So if you want me, I'm on the mat.....

April 02, 2009

Thanks for Nothing

So my iPod Touch has arrived. Finally. Note to self, cough up the extra bucks for two day shipping in the future. Truthfully, I am happy and excited to have it - I've already accessed the WiFi at my office, my home, my yoga studio (there is WiFi at the yoga studio? Indeed there is....) and I'm slowly starting to insert my life into the box.... Already, I see that Apple is not infallible, my $80 Palm and it's associated software can handle "2nd sunday of every month" sorts of recurring events but the apple software can not.

That being said, if I wanted a few days of emptiness to play with my new toy, shop for apps, etc. - well, maybe in May.

* It's the beginning of the month, and I have my March invoicing to crank out.

* It's the beginning of April, and my taxes need to get done. I've got a pretty decent system worked up after 15 years or self employment, so I can crank 'em out in maybe a day and a half, but I need to sort through a few piles, enter all my expenses and receipts into a spreadsheet, and get it all done.

* My website client dropped a "we'd like to totally redesign the site" note on me two weeks ago, and it's been a roller coaster ride since then. Slowing down now but still waiting for lots of content, cleaning up loose ends, and ramping up for their opening day, May 2. And there is one bit of PHP programming that I stll need to finish, a minor pain in the butt.

* Another client has ratcheted up long overdue revisions and updates to a spreadsheet project. Just gotta get back into the vbscripting....after many months away from it. My procrastination has been multiply rooted - stuck on a particular technical aspect (I think I've figured out a solution), needing a hunk of time to devote to it, and the pain of opening up a big, convoluted programming project that I have not dug into for a while.

* I'm teaching yoga - 5 and possibly 6 classes between Friday and Monday. Plus assisting at the teacher training on Sunday. Going to the teacher practice session on Saturday. Perhaps practicing with them on Friday.

* A friend's master recital on Saturday. The Real Art Ways Odd Ball on Saturday night.

So the little iPod Touch is not going to get much of a workout the next few weeks....

April 01, 2009

What Do You Do, Anyway?

For those who might be interested, a press release from one of my clients.

FlightSafety's Hawker 900XP Simulator Receives FAA Level D Qualification

"SimPWR is a key component of our new simulators. It provides power conditioning, voltage conversion and distribution, impedance control, high-energy filtering, surge suppression, ethernet control and monitoring, and TEALwatch remote power monitoring."

I've been assisting in the design, rating, and prototype evaluation of the the power and grounding for this simulator.