May 31, 2009

First Flight of the Season

As we were meeting up at 5:15 am yesterday, Intrepid Balloonist RZ noted "One year, I did not get out until Memorial Day weekend". I reminded him gently that we were one week later, and that he had set a new standard. But between the economy, the April weather (rainy / foggy weekends), and his own life, he can be forgiven. We got our first commercial flight (with passengers) in before June 1, so that's something.

A beautiful morning to fly; with winds aloft up near 30 knots, and the typical southerly flow that took us more or less down Rte. 10, from Spring Street in Southington to Richard Dr. in Cheshire. Calm winds at the surface made for a gentle touchdown in a neighborhood backyard.


Departure from Spring Street with Christopher and his mother Grace aboard.

Was kind of bummed to drive by Outdoor World Outfitters and see a STORE CLOSING sign - I've come to rely on this shop for my annual Falcon Ridge camping purchases - heavy-duty tent poles, stakes, water bottles, etc. Sorry to see it go! (although the website remains mum on the subject)


RZ joked on the radio that he planned to make the first official landing at the old Southington Drive In, soon to be an extension of Recreation Park. I've run through the drive-in giving chase before, so it will be interesting to have this additional open space available for landing!


Pack-up was aided by the local kids (and parents) who swarmed outside to watch the balloon land and deflate.


RZ landed in a backyard off Richard Drive in Cheshire, and the wonderful woman of the house (Linda, I think) made a pot of coffee and brought it out to us. In her bathrobe! BEST LANDOWNERS EVER!

My Flicker Photos for today's flight here

May 29, 2009

Training Rules

Went to see this Dee Mosbacher film this evening at the CTGLFF. An incredible story, about women athletes (and staff) at Penn State drive out of the basketball program by coach Rene Portland.

Heartbreaking, really. These women - with dreams of an NCAA championship, the Olympics, coaching, and in later years, the WNBA, but driven out by actual or perceived lesbianism. So often, they were unable to transfer to other schools (by NCAA rules or Penn State's / Portland's intransigence in terms of providing records), of by the fact that playing under Portland (and coming to terms with getting kicked off the team or stepping aside on their own) drove them to depression, towards poor performance, etc.

I was particularly moved by the story of Corinne and Chris Gulas, twin sisters who left the team under pressure from Portland. Other similarly affected players were also in the documentary.

And the last woman covered, Jen Harris who played from 2004 - 2005, is most heartbreaking - dismissed from the team in March 2005 (after Penn State lost in the first round of the tournament) - she went on to Syracuse (where she was unable to play, thanks to Penn State not forwarding on complete / accurate medical records) and from there to St. Peters. She stood up to Portland and Penn State, sued, and by all accounts, won an out of court settlement.

If you get the chance to see this film (it's on the queer film fest circuit) - do go see it.

Tweeting

@scenicroot (what else) in case you care

Dental Hygienists - Who Needs 'Em?

John Updike needed em. Dental Hygienists, that is. See "Tristan and Iseult" from the short story collecton "The Afterlife"

Terrance McCarthy is up to his usual hi-grade commentary on life (or at least, the Fox Entertainment version of it).

I had a new dental assistant the other day (she was still catching on to the dentist's lingo for particular tools and processes, so I assume she was new), getting a filling replaced. After the dentist pumped me with novacaine (he kept asking if I felt the needle, and did not seem to want to stop until I nodded that I did, in fact, feel the needle), he wandered off to let me numb up. Then she and I sat and watched MSNBC on the flat-screen TV's they put in when they moved to new offices.

Last time I was in I got X-Rays, and the hygienist routed my X-Rays to the flar-screen so I could see 'em. I think they can also put a little camera inside my mouth to show where I've been flossing (or not). I got one of those ultrasonic toothbrushes a while back, and ever since, I've had no lectures on brushing / flossing, although frankly, the inside of my mouth is not really the best subject matter for 42" of high-def viewing.

So we're sitting there, new assistant and I, watching some piece from San Fran - the recent anti Prop 8 protests. Lots of angry gay men and lesbians, with a smattering of gender transgressors. Out of nowhere she says "I hate those men who become women (long pause) because they turn out looking better than I do"

"Only the ones who start out with enough money to get the work done" was the best I could do. I've been going to this dental practice all my adult life - since 1983. Outlasted 3 dentists, 2 offices, and countless hygienists and assistants. Somewhere in the bowels of the data I am sure my records point to a certain major life change and changes to critical bits of identity. But not anywhere this new assistant could find it.....

Lost in the Land of Spreadsheet

I'm kind of quiet of late - please forgive me. I am deep in the bowels of a big spreadsheet, finishing up a long overdue revision / update for one of my clients.

This thing started innocently enough - they have a device which captures voltage disturbances and logs RMS voltages. I was asked to take a look at their data - text files that could be easily imported into Excel. For my own sanity and efficiency, I put together a simple Excel template to import the data (just to avoid having to start fresh each time). And then I just kept going until I had a full data viewer. The next thing I knew, it was up on their website for their customers to use.

It's all pretty complicated, as spreadsheets go:

* Macros driven by various buttons and checkboxes
* Multiple hidden pages, that are unhidden and rehidden as the spreadsheet processes commands and massages data
* A special function to import text files longer than the Excel maximum permitted number of rows (65,536 - in case you are curious)
* The ability to handle multiple generations of data (and be backword compatible with them all)
* Functions to zoom and scale in two axis, functions to turn individual data channels on and off, for graphing purposes.
* An Auto Close feature to purge data and repeated formulae from the spreadsheet upon close (to reduce file size) and repopulate same upon file Opening. The compacted file is about 5 Meg - without this crunching it balloons out to 25 or 30 Meg, easily.

Of course, this is not my core competency, just one of those odd bits of techno-geekery I happen to have a knack for. So I'm sure the resultant code is a bit sprawling and disorganized. Each time I go back in to make changes (every year or so) I end up relearning it, reorganizing it a little, and documenting it a bit better. But I'd probably do better the next time, just because I know a bit more about this sort of programming now and would set up some organization from the start.

I'm almost done. This particular revision involves adding current data channels, adding a KVA calculation, adding environmental channels. So lot's of added features and functions, spreding out, making room. Trying to keep a lot of channels of data organized and useful.

When I get deep into code like this, I start to think about it all the time - in the shower, on the yoga mat, in meditation, in bed, while driving. My analytical mind gets cranking and does not want to stop. It's pretty annoying, so I will be happy to have it done. Today, with any luck....

May 26, 2009

Teach a Woman to Fish

Our washing machine has been overflowing....it fills, it never stops filling. It never moves to agitate, the tub overflows. If you jump the timer ahead, it spins and empties. But....annoying.

So yesterday, I made an appointment with AAA Appliance Repair, based in Newington. I really liked the appointment script / form on their website (you can send them all your info, symptoms, model, etc. saving lots of phone time) - I made an appointment yesterday, they called up this morning to set a time (2-4 pm) and then they called again to come earlier (around 11:30 am). I highly recommend them.

I took the time to work with the technician, wherein I learned the following secrets:

A) How to get the front panel off quickly (probably 80% of the battle)
B) Which little pressure hose might become clogged. Ours did no tlook clogged but there was a gooey, clear vaseline type substance in there
C) How to clean it out and test the pressure switch

So, if this happens again, I'm pretty sure I can cover it, and I feel like I could pull the thing apart and find other problems (these things are very simple). I feel like my $95.35 paid for a repair *and* a tech lesson.

Now to start digging through the pile of laundry I need to get through....
Mobile blogging? Yes indeed.

May 25, 2009

Summer Reading

It is an act of pure, unadulterated optimism perhaps, given the teacher training reports I have to finish, the mostly unread backlog of New Yorker and Yoga Journals, and my busy schedule. However, I picked up some summer reading this evening at Barnes & Noble. Zippy needed a medical dictionary, so we buzzed down.

Watership Down / Richard Adams. One of my favorite books of all time, but when I went to find my copy (a dog eared paperback from 1975, it was a high school summer reading list book) this spring, it was missing. So I picked up another copy. "Can you run?" hissed the cat. "I think not!" Curling up with this book (and many others) was a big part of my childhood, so I'm hoping for a rainy afternoon or a lazy summer weekend of reading bliss.

Olive Kittredge / Elizabeth Strout. Must have heard the author on NPR, soon after she won the Pulitzer for this book. Sounded right up my alley - a set of short stories linked by characters and place. Somewhere along the lines of "Beans of Egypt, Maine", perhaps the Louise Erdrich books.

The Abstinence Teacher / Tom Perrotta. Another NPR find. Sounded like a good read, interesting. Hardcover on the cut-out rack.

May 23, 2009

Handsome Fellow

I wandered down to Wethersfield yesterday to find a little something for a friend's birthday. The Wooden Toy, a high end toy shop, has become one of my favorite spots. They have educational toys, puzzles, little scale model animals and dinosaurs, outdoor toys, dolls, etc. But mostly, what draws me to the store is their large selection of hand puppets, mostly created by Judy & Atis Folkmanis. I've become acquainted with this company at Falcon Ridge (someone often sets up a booth to sell them, although I never have expendable cash there) so Ive been payy to find a shop close to home. And they have so many wonderful critters (not just the ordinary, run of the mill ones) that they have become a favorite source of unusual and appropriate gifts for friends and family.

Yesterday I was looking for something vaguely fairy-ish (my friend being a fairy fan and collector) and although there were several options, I was drawn to a small doll, my friend being in the process of trying to adopt a child.

But while I was there, I browsed the puppets, and came away with this handsome fellow: a Woodpecker.

Loyal reader's will recall my post-Intensive creative piece The Woodpecker - including the lines "Black and white and speckled feathers, Crested with wisdom and fire" and so of course this little fellow jumped right out at me.

Not sure what it is about woodpeckers, I think they symbolize the divine for me right now. I'm pretty happy to have found him, although Elo the dog is curious as all get out (and probably would like a woodpecker of his own).

There is a nice story of the Sugar Maple and the Woodpecker, from the Lenape tradition, here - from the Shabakashauweyek Lenape'wàk [Laurel Ridge Lenapé People] website. Enjoy.....

May 22, 2009

Observations About Art

Four things.

Thing First, apologies to Wil K. Wilkins for being annoying and buzzedly cranky about the recent spate of fluorescent lamp based art down at Real Art Ways. The past installation by Hirokazu Fukawa and the present pieces by Corey D'Augustine both feature the ubiquitous (down at Real Art Ways, anywho) fluorescent tube. I know it's just a coincidence and that the Real Arts Ways purchase by the General Electric Corporation (kidding!) has NOTHING to do with the art.

Thing Second, in a martini induced burst of creativity, I imagined an installation - a large flat screen monitor installed on a conveniently bare wallspace by the front door, with a map of the space, and little tracking blips (color coded, matched to one's outfit, I think Steve L added that touch) so we could see where people were during the party. It made sense last night. Upon further reflection (i.e. - alcohol having left my system) what I was imaging was, of course, J.K. Rowlings Marauder's Map

I still think it would be a fun idea / project, and apparently, it's technically feasible. And alas, patented.

Thing Third, I really liked Beth Krebs installation in the small space that usually is curtained off, dark, and showing some video installation. Per the artist statement:
My installations and videos bring makeshift magic to unexpected places. The projects use low-tech processes and basic building materials to make extraordinary interruptions in ordinary spaces....

It was bright and delightful and I wish there were more things to discover - I love to see this sort of installation in public spaces - airports, offices, etc. Real Art Ways is the sort of place where the art, on occasion, just tickles the fancy, and this particular installation does that, in spades. Definitely going back to snoop around some more, I bet I missed some things.

Thing Fourth, Where We Live is broadcasting live from Real Art Ways on Tuesday evening, 5/26. Not 100% sure I can be there but I am gonna try. I was so taken (dare I say smitten?) watching Ira Glass spin his radio magic (he runs dueling CDs - audio cuts with one hand, background music with the other) during the This American Life live simulcasts in 2008 and 2009, that I am becoming a watching radio being produced junkie. But we knew that.

And as I visit the This American Life website, I find that the most recent episode is entitled No Map. Neatly wrapping around to Thing Second, above, and closing out this particular blog posting.

Note to Self

Just because a martini has Acai Berry in it does not make it yogic or prevent next morning recriminations.

Adam Lambert

Now that it's all over except the shouting, I may just go on over to iTunes and download all his songs from this past season, just to remind myself how wonderful it was to watch him, and be surprised and delighted by him, all season.

Every week was an adventure - in song choice, in song adaptation and arrangement, in his look. And his singing was always great.

I'm usually not that girl. But for Adam, I could be....

May 20, 2009

CT Gay & Lesbian Film Festival: May 22 - 30

The CT Gay and Lesbian Film Festival starts it's 22nd year this Thursday. I really enjoy the film festival when I am able to go - with a wide diversity of feature films and shorts.

Visit the website for details, but I think I'll attending the following nights:

Sunday, May 24. The documentary Ferron: Girl on a Road is showing. I've been a big fan of Ferron's for years, and although some might consider me an identity traitor (in light of a little women's music festival in Michigan), so be it. I was fortunate enough to see her live back in March 2006, at Roaring Brook Nature Center. There is also a short film that evening entitled "Saint Jude", so you got that going for you....

Tuesday, May 26.
The featured film is Trinidad - I have some personal interest. Dr. Marci Bowers (one of three protaganists of the film) is a friend and client (I have been keeping her website since 2003) and as such I am a bit player (more of an onlooker, really) in this particular drama. Reportedly, none of the three transwomen featured (Dr. Marci Bowers, Dr. Laura Ellis, and Sabrina Marcus) come off all that well in the film. So it will be interested to see the story unfold from a different perspective.

Friday, May 29. The featured film is Drool (seems like a filmed adaptation of the Dixie Chick's Goodbye Earl, to me) but what really interests me is the documentary Training Rules, by Dee Mosbacher & Fawn Yacker

Rene Portland had three training rules during her 26 years coaching basketball at Penn State—no drinking, no drugs and no lesbians. This stunning film exposes how women’s collegiate sports, caught in a web of homophobic practices, destroys the lives and dreams of many of its most talented athletes.

Anyone wanting to come along to any of these, give a shout!

I'm not particularly interested in the opening night or closing night programs, but the reception / party after these films has always been top notch and a fun community gathering.

Cafe Standards

So, President Obama has pushed for new CAFE standards for automotive efficiency.

And it makes me wonder if the big three automakers would be in quite as big a mess today, in 2009, had President Bush (or Clinton, for that matter) had stepped up the plate on this one, and driven the automakers to take the long view of the market (efficiency, down sizing) instead of pandering to the short-sighted desire for big ass cars, trucks, and SUVs.

I once upon a time commented that, regardless of how one felt about the Bush politics, the incompetency of that administration was what really irked. And similarly, one questions the backbone of the man and his party at being unable to take a hard line with Detroit, forcing the industry to take it's medicine. Had government done it's job in steering the industry towards efficiency, as opposed to simply pandering to the market and short lived desire for large cars, I suspect a lot fewer car dealerships would be closing, and a lot fewer manufacturing workers would be on the street.

May 19, 2009

Memorial Day - Yoga at WHY

Power I with Shankara - 9:00 am
Gentle with Jude (hey, that's me!) - 9:15 am

All other classes cancelled. West Hartford Yoga - more information here

May 18, 2009

What's in a Name?

One of my clients just called. They are changing the corporate name to Acme Healthcare USA, from Acme Medical Solutions USA. (Yes, Acme is a pseudonym....)

About 10 years back, all these companies changed their name from Acme Medical Systems to Acme Medical Solutions. About 20 years back, they changed their name from Acme Medical Imaging to Acme Medical Systems.

Near as I can tell, their business has not really changed all that much.

Oh well, I went through and changed the templates on all the reports I do for them. I'm sure I'll be mopping up rogue references for a month or so....

May 16, 2009

Collapse

Been a long while since I've updated much here. Been running hard and fast, and I'm in the middle of a probably overdue, and not unexpected crash. This morning I spent 75 minutes on the mat with Nykki, moving from sad to weepy to quiet sobbing and back to weepy. Not a physically hard practice, but emotionally a killer.

It's been a fairly frenetic few weeks:

* Mon 5/4: Subbed two yoga classes(gentle & core-ab) and worked at the studio. My 10:45 class cancelled, thankfully.
* Wed 5/6: Two yoga classes, my Bristol Adult Ed and subbed an Intro series.
* Thur 5/7: Dentist appointment, Thai dinner prior to This American Life film
* Fri 5/8: My two yoga classes - power and gentle
* Sat 5/9: Assisted the free Intro to Yoga class
* Sun 5/10: Subbed a gentle class
* Mon 5/11: Subbed a gentle class (my 10:45 power class got cancelled again), Power I with Barb then assisted Core-Ab
* Tues 5/12: Trip to Medway MA for work. Made it back for a Power class.
* Wed 5/13: Bodywork, and my last Adult Ed class
* Thurs 5/14: Bus trip to VT to fetch my car, Leonard Cohen in Waterbury
* Fri 5/15: Taught my two classes, and Kirtan at Vital Life Center

Of course, I've been trying to sneak in work, and life, and practice in there. But really, and truly, I've been doing too much. Time for a small collapse. Thankfully, I'm down to two yoga classes to teach this week (both on Friday) - my Monday power class is being cancelled (we did not have enough students to run the class for the past 3-4 weeks) and my Wednesday Adult Ed series is over. Core Ab does not start until June. So a respite....

I still have a pile of work to do - perhaps I will sneak that in tomorrow. I need to take some time for my own yoga practice. I need to work to get my life cleaned up a bit: bedroom, basement, kitchen table, office - all are pretty much disaster areas.

Friends called up this morning - they were goign to see Star Trek this afternoon, and did I want to go? A perfect escape - a mindless, fun movie and a pizza afterwards. A good way to start to unwind.....

Invisibility Cloak

One of the things that emerged as I went through yoga teacher training was my fantastical ability to become invisible. Not actually invisible, but I have this ability to just become very unnoticeable. Barb said something like "I'd be teaching a class, and about 1/2 way through I'd think 'Wonder where Jude has been, I have not seen her lately' and suddenly I'd realize that you were right there, in the class. You have this strange power to become invisible, to blend in, to become unnoticeable."

And yes, I do have that power. Adopted as a young kid who was bullied and picked on - becoming invisible was a survival skill. Perfected in adulthood, during my major life event, when becoming invisible meant success and survival of a different sort. Unlearning that, becoming visible, was one of the challenges (and necessary benefits) of my teacher training.

So tonight, after kirtan at Vital Life Center, I became keenly aware of having pulled that invisibility cloak back on. A room packed full of devotees, chanting. The kirtan was pretty good - missing a few of our members, I think we all stepped up a little to compensate, there was a little more room to play, and we were a little tighter (physically) and a little more adventurous (musically). It was a birthday celebration, there was cake or apple crisp afterward, and the masses of happy chanters wandered into the next room to talk, to eat, to connect.

I found myself cleaning up, for the most part alone (not unusual) and though a few friends came up to say hi, I was mostly not part of the buzz, the community, the group. I quietly packed up my things, and left without a word or goodbye to anyone.

It was an act of both dysfunction and of consciousness. I was very aware that there was a room filled with people I could immerse myself in, but I was tired, I was cranky, and being alone seemed the more familiar path. Perhaps the large number of visibly coupled people in the space got to me - I'm feeling pretty alone and unlovable, and it as hard to see others so physically and emotionally connected. Whatever the reason - I could feel the protection and isolation of that invisibility cloak as I collected my things - microphones, cables, stands, guitar, amplifier - slowly carted them out to the car, and left quietly. All it would have taken was for someone to notice me off by myself, and pull me towards community. But of course, with my invisibility cloak on, nobody could see me.....

So, a bittersweet evening. I turned my back on community, on connection, on others. But I was quite conscious of what I was doing, exploring my feelings, my actions, my reactions. It's a gorgeous day out there, but I'm feeling kind of grey and lonely. Perhaps some time on the mat, with a certain inked yoga goddess, will pull me out of my darkness.....

May 14, 2009

On the road - Greyhound edition

Free wifi at Union Station. South end, anywho. Blog post via iPod. En route to White River Junction VT to fetch my car. New transmission / $500 deductible / thank the powers that be for insurance. Although really, the total nut ($1600) does not seem all that bad.

Bus leaves at 9:15, gets in at 12:50, then pick up the car and head home I'm time for Leonard Cohen tonight in Waterbury. I have my iPod, cell, and plenty to read. Pray for me.

May 11, 2009

Coming Around Again

I have a customer. I connected with them back in 1999 or thereabouts - somebody I worked with at my last corporate gig went to work for them, and networked us together. And in the last decade, there is a pretty regular pattern to our interactions. They have some trouble sites - I work with them, straighten things out, do a little education about technical issues along the way. And then they drop off the map for a period - 12 to 24 months, typically. And then, out of the blue, I get a call, and there are a few trouble sites they want me to get involved with.

I used to worry about that - why the long time between contacts? Not 100% sure I understand myself - my best guess is that I do enough education (through my reports, my interactions on site) to let them sort things out for themselves for a while, until memory fades. Not the best way to keep customers on the hook and dependent, but that's how I am. Going back through the email archives:

6/1999 (Connecticut)
11/1999 (Pennsylvania)
12/2000 (Arizona)
3/2000 (New York)
3/2000 (Missouri)
7/2001 (Texas)
7/2003 (Ohio)
7/2004 (Tennessee)
5/2007 (Washington)

In between, a handful of proposals that did not happen (usually, the problem was resolved locally, and may not have been power related). And a handful of freebie consulting, quick emails, phone calls, looking at data, etc.

I got a call from them last week; heading up for a quick trip to a customer site in Massachusetts tomorrow. Just interesting to look back over a decade of customer relations. Also interesting how quickly I can put my hand on the history - emails, reports, proposals - even though all of my information systems are fairly informal.

May 10, 2009

Somewhere Out There

...is a person who is attuned to the subtle changes of the planet and the seasons. Who has already affected their seasonal wardrobe swap, who has opened all the windows and swept out all the cobwebs, who has vacuumed out the last of the winter sand and salt from their car. Who has gone through a spring detox, who has drained a bottle of cleaner and two rolls of paper towels on their house windows, whose gutters are not rainy detritus on their porches. A person whose garden is tilled, whose lawn is greening up, whose looking ahead to summer.

This person is not me. I'm horribly behind on spring this year. Blame it on work (busy). Blame it on yoga (busy). Blame it on my living situation (less than fully invested). I'm just not all that present in this life, circa May 2009.

It's May 10th, and I have yet to get my May 1st invoicing out. I've also neglected to send out my April 1st invoice for one client. I'm behind on 2-3 largish projects. My bedroom features a large pile of laundry, a small hill that the dogs are beginning to complain about having to climb over or around. My dressers are cluttered. My winter clothes have made it out of the dressers but not yet into plastic tubs in the basement; my sumemr clothes are still in the basement. Every other day I head down there to find something - wardrobe swap one outfit at a time.

My 2008 taxes are piled up next to my desk at work, waiting for me to pile them and file them into a box labelled 2008. My desk is covered with papers: bills, junk mail, report excerpts, scribble notes regarding phone calls. My white board bears the "to-do" list from January.

I think I am pulling out of whatever malaise has been plaguing me - I see the signs. I'm making lists - one of my methods of motivation and personal rescue from these troubled times. Usually there are a few things on the list that are biggies - and in order to put them off, I get everything else accomplished. So even if the big things do not get done, all the little things do.

My yoga teaching should be slowing down a bit - a Wed night series in Bristol ends this week, a Monday power class might be cancelled, and a week of busy subbing ends on Monday. I'm heading out for some change of scenery this week - a trip to Medway MA for work (new client), a bus trip to White River Junction VT to fetch my car, a trip to Waterbury's Palace Theater to see Leonard Cohen. I almost got my bok eout for a ride yesterday.

Now off to attack that pile of laundry.....

May 05, 2009

"So" tired of this

Is it just my noticing, or perhaps it's that I've been listening to a lot of technical / scientific folks on NPR, but I've been really sensitive to the use of the word "so" in interviews. For example:

Question: Can you describe the effects of the blankity-blank-blank on the harrumph-a-lumpha?

Answer: So, the blankety-blank-blank.....

Apparently, this is not a wholly unknown phenomena. The anatomy of a scientific staple from Seed Magazine, 4/28/08.

Overload

It's May 5th.

I have not got my May 1st invoicing done yet.
I have 15 hours of reports queued up for my biggest client, most a little overdue and several urgent.
Another client that has been dormant for months has popped back up, with 3 reports pending.
A Fed Ex box arrived this morning with material to review for some site planning / installations review and calculations.
Another load of files came down via FTP, for another client, to review and put together a proposal for a conference call on Monday
Big website updates continues, especially a method for my clients to be able to control web sales (without needing me) - which involves some new (to me) PHP programming
Another long overdue (and patiently waited for) spreadsheet update is about 1/2 way out the door, needing a solid day of work to finish it up.

Nice to be busy in These Economic Times. But sheesh.....I need a clone, a 36 hour day, an espresso machine, a personal assistant, or all of the above.

May 03, 2009

Annealing

This is a hard weekend for my kid brothers and sisters, the 2009 Class of WHY Teacher Trainees. A 4 day training weekend (new for this year) which started on Thursday with an extended WHY power II class (2.5 hours, I assisted). Friday's practice was reportedly 3 hours. Yesterday (I assisted again) was pretty strong. And of course, long days of training. Sitting with one's mind open, drinking in information, doing practice teaching and assisting and.....it's exhausting.

Many of them seemed pretty beat, although I really liked the energy (very bright and strong) in the room yesterday during practice. And last night, Part II of the Teacher Training practice class, in which some of these folks got their first chance to stand in front of a room full of yogis, and teach, as well as walk through the room and assist. It was so sweet watching some of them preparing - putting on fresh clothes, maybe some makeup and jewelry, fixing their hair. They did an awesome job, and I was really glad to be in the room to witness it. Last year, the second practice class was kind of a disappointment, in terms of turn-out (the non-teaching 1/2 of the training class had to put down mats, and do a second practice, and were none too happy about that). But this year, the room was full. These folks have a lot of support - within the studio, within their families and social circles.

I'm joining them in ludicrous overpracticing today. I've been slowly working myself back to full strength following the intensive (wherein my back of heartspace / inner shoulder blade area got completely tender, making even the simplest up dog / down dog transition painful). I've been assisting a lot (Thursday night, Saturday noon), teaching a lot (Wed night, two classes on Friday), and slowly ramping up my practice (Core-Ab with Barb on Monday, guerilla with Nykki on Tuesday and Thursday, gentle with Sharon on Wed, Power with Nykki on Thursday and Saturday, and the TT practice class last night). So I will probably be right down there with them in the land of little miss tired and worn out crankypants yoga today. That will be me moaning and sighing in back of the room, and slamming down the rolled up mat after abs....

But all this practice - this taking oneself to various physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits - has a point. When I did Sean Corne's detox flow workshop last spring - I pretty much hit my limits. Twelve hours of yoga in three days, and not really spread out or "long, slow, and deep" - this was vinyasa, with a lot of chaturanga, strong standing flow, sun salutations, etc. To this day, when I want a laugh, I pull down into ostrich and start talking about fecal matter in drinking water - usually somebody within ear shot was in that workshop and will laugh. It was pretty much yoga torture; I ended up straining my wrists during the very first practice (she had us lower down from plank about 20 times until we got it right) so I bought some wrist guards (which I've had to use occasionally, but not often, since) and I ended up doing a version of Rocky on the yoga mat - standing in the ring, taking the punches, and saying, over and over to myself "You ain't so bad" as each new impossible sequence of postures assaulted my body.

When it was over, I hated yoga. I ended up needing a week of very conscious practice - gentle, restorative, yin, and waring into power - to reclaim my body, and my yoga practice. It was a singularly unpleasant (at the time) experience.

But yanno, to this day, that weekend remains a milestone, perhaps a turning point, of my training. I'll work through a really hard practice with Barb, who will grin afterwards with pride and a little mischief and ask "How was it?" and I have to confess "You can't hurt me anymore". Sean Corne broke me, and when I healed, I became something different. Like annealed metal, I came out stronger, more flexible, tougher.

I'm hoping my TT friends are getting the same experience this weekend. I stood at the back of the room yesterday, watching them move through sun salutations. I'm seeing a lot of changes from their first weekend - confidence, strength, energy, fluidity, focus. I'm seeing individuals taking the WHY Power into their bodies, shaping it into their own style. I am sure we moved through similar changes last year, but I was not able to really watch it from within, and without really knowing it was happening or going to happen, I did not really take note. So it's been a real honor to be folded into this year's training now and then, to witness their proces, their struggles, their growth. In some ways, it's like looking back in time and watching my own training.

I'm so fond of these folks, even with the limited contacts we have had. And I will happily lay out my mat with theirs this noon, and walk with them to the edge of the volcano. As we stand beside the fire, sweating and straining and feeling as if just falling in and being consumed in the fire just might be an easier choice, I'll remember my own journey, my own limitations, wounds, and scars.

Nameste, class of 2009. You folks bring it!

Core/Ab Power Series (June 22 - Aug 10)

I'm excited to announce that I will be teaching the Core/Ab Power this summer. This 8 week series is really an "Intro to WHY Power" - where we focus on the basics of WHY Power yoga, and building a solid foundation in the core. I've been working with Barbara (who normally teaches this class) this spring - taking the class, assisting, etc. to make sure I'm prepared to take the reins over the summer. Here's the official description:

Tone your abdomen, strengthen your back, and create a strong center. Transform the body through breath, go deep into internal organs to release toxins, and bring freedom and fluidity into your body. This series targets often neglected muscle groups. A strong core will help you avoid injuries. A great compliment to your regular yoga practice. All levels.

Monday: 7:45 - 9:00 pm. June 22 - August 10 (8 week series)
$95/series- registration required

Yoga Subbing Schedule

I've been tapped to sub quite a few classes in the coming few weeks, so if you are a regular or don't get enough opportunity to practice with me, there are some good chances coming up:

Monday, May 4: $5 Gentle @ 4:30 pm (for Kristen) and Core-Ab @ 7:45 pm (for Barbara)
Wednesday, May 6: Intro to Yoga @ 7:30 pm (for Shankara)
Sunday, May 10: Gentle Yoga @ 9:00 am (for Sharon)
Monday, May 11: $5 Gentle Yoga @ 12:15 pm (for Sharon)

In addition, my regular classes continue, at least until the summer schedule changes:

WHY Power I - Monday and Friday @ 10:45 am
$5 Gentle Yoga - Friday @ 12:15 pm

May 02, 2009

Kirtan


I am, as usual, looking elsewhere when the camera shutter opens, but other than that, it's a nice picture.

In the Studio

Post Enlightenment Intensive, I've been slowly bringing my yoga practice back. The heart opening work I did at the intensive left me with an incredible tenderness in the back of my heart space, right between my shoulder blades, and as a result, my ability to move through a chaturanga flow was pretty much non-existent. A time then, for healing, humility, and gentleness. I got onto the mat on Monday night with Barb (core-ab), Tuesday with Nykki (guerilla), Wednesday with Sharon (gentle), and Thurrsday with Nykki (guerilla and then hot). I think I'm ready for my regular practice - gonna get to Nykki's Saturday morning class, and Barb's teacher training class tomorrow....

I've also been in the middle of a lot of teaching and assisting. I assisted Thursday night (a special 2.5 hour WHY Power II class for the teacher trainees and others, which was jammed) and will assist today's TT class. I taught my usual Wed night class, as well as two classes on Friday. This coming week is a teachathon as well - three classes Monday (my power class, Kristen's gentle, Barb's core-ab), two on Wed (m Adult Ed class, Shankara's Intro), and two on Friday (my power and gentle). So a lot of prep work - I don't really write out the full class, but I do like to figure out a theme, a basic flow, note some key postures I want to be sure to get, and block them out in my head.

Kenny White and Cheryl Wheeler

I've been so busy of late - between work and yoga and everything in between - that I have not taken advantage of the pretty incredible variety of acoustic music available in the local area. There is the Sounding Board, Vanilla Bean, The Space in Hamden, various Nature Centers, colleges, coffeehouses. Last night, Zippy and I ventured out to the WWUH Music for a Change series to see Cheryl Wheeler. Unexpectedly ran into some friend there (Hi Robin! Hi Arlene!)

The surprise of the evening was the incredible NYC singer-songwriter and musican Kenny White, who opened for Cheryl, as well as backed her on piano and vocals during her set. I've not come across him in my travels and listenings. Initially, he seemed to be mining the same ground that Randy Newman does - a kind of New Orleans honky tonk pianist with a fierce combination of humor, sarcasm, and razor sharp wordplay. But as his set evolved, he got deeper and more complex - I was catching glimpses of Dan Bern, of Bob Dylan, and, at last, those early Bruce Springsteen songs with Roy Bittan's piano work. I was, in a word, enchanted. Enough so that I bought his two most recent CDs (and will get the next one, because several of the songs he played that I loved have not yet been recorded / released)



It is not often that an opening act gets a standing ovation and comes back for an encore, but he did, and not just because folkies are filled with love and kindness. He brought it, he earned it.

Cheryl Wheeler was also in fine form. She opened with Quarter Moon, which set me to crying immediately. Consider myself lucky because it's not even on her website list of Songs at Recent Concerts (which is a pretty awesome feature). Zippy was totally enchanted by her (even as he struggled to make out some of her non-stop, hilarious, between song banter. Cheryl has always been one of my faves - she bounces between the funniest and lightest songs ever, and the deepest, most beautiful poems of love and life.

I've seen her at Falcon Ridge a few times (never a particularly good place to really sit and listen to a particular artist, since I am usually so busy) and perhaps once or twice else. So the concert was a rare and delightful treat. Perhaps it is my recent state of mind (yoga, enlightenment intensives, getting older) but I was smitten by Pointing at the Sun, a new song and also the title of her new CD.