June 27, 2009

Me and the Storm

Spent a long day at teh studio yesterday - taught my 10:45 WHY Power class; a 12:15 Gentle class, and then assisted the 2009 teacher training class from 1:00 - 4:00. So I got out pretty much in time for the Big Storm.

I was running errands as the storm was heading towards Hartford - over on New Park the skies were getting dark. As I hit Elmwood (Corner Pug) dark, low clouds overhead were showing signs of circular motion - probably the first signs of what might have been a mini-tornado. The rain started as I crossed South Street, and by the time I got home, the storm was in full fury.

I parked my car in the street; and listened to NPR with the engine running in case an escape was needed - the winds were whipping up the three big trees on the street (one right over our driveway) and I could just imagine a limb falling on my as I parked. Then the hail came - maybe nickel sized at it's worst - as I waited things out. Finally, I made a dash for the house.

The power went out a few times temporarily - but mostly stayed on, as did the cable.

Around 6:30, I headed out to Wood N' Tap in Farmington for "Yogis Eating Non-organic Food VI". The lights at the end of the Rte. 4 exit off I-84 were out, and there was pretty slow traffic all the way down Rte. 4 to Brickyard Road, at which point Rte. 4 was closed.

Amazingly, the Wood N' Tap had power (although we did get to watch a tree limb slowing falling onto the patio). So a nice meal was had by all (I had the Thai Salad w\ Shrimp which was a little too noodley and not green enough for my taste).
Afterwards, driving home, I realized that power was out pretty much the whole way from Wood N'Tap to my house is Hartford. Kind of eerie to drive down Rte. 4 and New Britain avenue sans power - post-apocalyptic even. Wondering if the studio had power, I drove over there to see the studio dark but the teacher trainees cars filling the lot - was kind of surprised that there was not even candlelight visible (the yoga studio has plenty of candles hanging around). Must have been an exciting evening down there.

Power seemed to come back as I passed the Spot Eatery on New Britain Ave (but only on the south side of New Britain so the neighborhood was bright. Pretty amazing news photos, and of course, a lot of Storm Updates) on the news from 5 - 6:30). THis morning dawns bright and clear......bout time!

June 23, 2009

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

I heard about this book on NPR - an interview on On Point with Tom Ashbrook. From the publisher's website:
Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the existence of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution. When our ancestors adapted to using fire, humanity began. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking their food, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew.

Sounded interesting, so I ordered it. Could not put it down - I've read it pretty quickly despite a fairly busy life and other reading obligations and opportunities.
Wrangham makes a strong case for control of fire, and cooking being the primary driver of human intelligence and evolution. Making his case via the fossil record (things like brain size, tooth characteristics, pelvis and rib cage signatures), via evidence of human culture (fire pits, tools, animal bones showing signs of being cooked / eaten), and human / animal physiology (experiments done with raw food, vegetarian diets, etc.)

An incredibly interesting theory, and presented in a very engaging manner. And an interesting tangeant from the whole food / vegetarian / raw food perspectives I normally encounter in the yoga world.

He expands his theory past the physiological to the social, making the case that cooking food drove humans to pair up into M/F households - with the woman cooking so as to provide a higher quality of food and the man providing protection (physical or through social relationships) from other men for the otherwise vulnerable larder of cooked / stored food. (other primates eat food as soon as it's available, so that there is less need to guard the family food supply)

Does not really change too much - we in the west still eat a too rich diet, filled with additives and chemicals, carrying a high carbon footprint, and we need to change. But it certainly makes me appreciate the value of cooking, the possible historic significance, and provide some basis for better understanding food and physiology.

June 22, 2009


So the people of Iran are in the streets, and the President of the United States is not shooting off his mouth, posturing, and giving the Iranian religious leadership a bogeyman to rail against and use to rally the populous behind.

The right wing may call it timid. I call it cagey, smart, thoughtful and wise.

And thankful to have a President (for the first time in a long time) who seems capable of seeing past polls, avoiding a knee jerk response, and taking the long view.

I Sense a Trend

A few weeks ago, I was taken on a hike where my hiking partner related a "heart attack on this very hike" story. She then proceeded to comment "I think this is heart attack hill" on each significant incline. Reassuring.

Yesterday, we went to Devil's Hopyard, where a woman slipped 50 feet down an embankment, on Saturday, and had to be rescued by fire fighters. My photos from the hike, here.

I sense a trend.

June 21, 2009

Stepping Up

It's Sunday morning, and I am embarking upon the first week of what could be a challenging summer.

I take on two new yoga classes this week. Monday night, I am teaching the Core/Ab class, a 10 week series, that has been heretofore taught by Barbara, the studio owner and my own teacher. Needless to say, big shoes to fill. (not that we actually wear shoes around the studio but you get the idea). I don't teach as much power yoga as I do other styles (Gentle, Hot, All Levels), and when I do teach, it's somewhat less structured and more intuitive (checking out the energy and bodies in the room, even if I have a bit of a class plan it is rarely more than a particular body area (say, shoulders or lower back), a handful of postures I want to get in or work up to, and my instincts.

A series demands some discipline. Core-Ab will focus, of course, on the core, and on abdominals - so I will be tasked with building up the students from the start through the finish through an increasingly strenuous set of core strengthening postures. I will be working with a more or less fixed group throughout the series. And I will be working within the structure of WHY Power, the studio's signature practice.

At the very least, I'm putting together lesson plans, an outline for the series, and an outline for each class - and I suspect I might spend Sunday afternoons working through some of the postures and sequencing. Prep work for yoga - definitely something I have not spent a lot of time on since my early days of teaching.

On Wednesday mornings, I take on an All Levels class that has been taught for many years by Shankara, one of the more beloved, experienced, and charismatic teachers down at the studio. He's embarking upon a grad school program that will take him out of town a few days each week, and so I got the call to what is a pretty sweet opportunity (to step into his successful class, to work with some experienced students). I've been taking this class the past month or so, and it is different on two levels.

First, this class has developed into a more spiritual space - with silence beforehand, with some yoga teaching woven into the asana practice, with music and chanting. While I have a pretty strong spiritual core that supports and guides my practice, it is mostly under the surface. The skeleton and muscles of my practice - you know they are there but not really on the surface, and talking about this, teaching, is not something that comes naturally. So, in the Jude personal growth department of "being seen" - this class is going to be a challenge.

Second, the class as it has been taught, has been less of a flowing practice, and more a practice of sequential asana - postures stacked atop each other working toward a goal or pinnacle, or strung together in a discrete but coherent chain. My teaching is a lot less structured - my sequencing less about what postures connect theoretically and more about how the postures resonate in the body, feed the spirit. At my best, students feel connected to a flowing, natural feeling practice without a lot of start/stop. So either teaching from a different place (like Shankara has been teaching this class, with his many years of knowledge) or guiding these students into a practice style that is more authentically mine - will be interesting.

And finally, well, Shankara is a beloved teacher for good reason. He's incredible wise, experienced, charismatic, and intuitive. His students love him and woe to the teacher who steps in to sub - there is a palpable disappoitment, resentment, anger even directed at the poor schlub at the front of the room who is, above eveything, NOT SHANKARA. So I've got that going for me.....

I'm really not sure which way it will go right now - being true to my own style is important and trying to be someone else is a recipe for failure, but this is not about me, it's about my students - it's their yoga class. Time will tell how well I do with this. Right now I plan to expand and revisit my yogic reading - seeking inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, Iyengar's Light on Yoga and Light on Life to start. If I can find a theme for each class, do some reading and meditation about that, and build an asana practice from there, it just might work.

It's a temporary thing, these classes. Barb will be back at the helm of the Core-Ab class in the fall, most likely. Shankara will finish grad school or his class schedule will change next semester. Nevertheless, as the summer of 2009 commences, I am feeling a mixture of yogic emotion - happiness at being called to teach, pride at having come to this point in my own teaching, awe at being permitted to step into these important classes and experienced shoes, and a little bit of fear about not being good enough.

Wish me luck!

June 20, 2009

Enlighten Up

Went to see the new documentary Enlighten Up this afternoon, at the Pleasant Street Theater in Northampton.

The plot, basically: Film-maker Kate (Churchill) recruits journalist Nick (Rosen) to undergo a 6 month yoga journey, to dive into yoga and see if it changed his life. After sampling a multitude of yoga styles in NYC (good place to start) he travels further - California, Hawaii, and finally, India - and in the process meets, works with, and interviews some of the fathers of Asana yoga coming to the west. Filmmaker Kate wants subject Nick to get enlightened. Nick sort of never gets it in the way she expects him to.

Definitely a mixed experience. I loved to see and listen to these legends of yoga - BKS Iyengar, the late Pattabhi Jois especially, but many others as well. Many of the national yoga teachers have small cameo interviews. I loved to see Nick's experience with all the various yoga styles. A documentary wrapped around yoga, pretty cool.

Yet, the film's premise was, from the start, kind of rotten. 6 months of yoga, I don't care how extensive or concentrated, is pretty much scratching the surface. As if one were visiting the Jersey shore and coming to decisions about the Atlantic Ocean from that experience.

Kate is pretty brave, at the end - willing to bring herself into the film (I am reminded of the way Linda Hattendorf broke down the 4th wall in The Cats of Mirikitani, blogged here, although Hattendorf was a little more poetic about it. Kate allows herself to look like the bad guy here, to document her pressing Nick, and finally owning her shit (Nick says, and she keeps in the film, something like "I think Kate should have done this for herself". So her filmmaking rises above her frustration with Nick, her frustration with the failed experiment. Most tellingly, she opens up with a shot of Nick on a rock climbing wall, and closes with a segment of him climbing a cliff in Colorado. All that yoga, just to find himself.

Troubled too by the hubris of we westerners - thinking we can "get" yoga in 6 months, or by jumping on an airplane for a few weeks with a master. Not the first community I chaff against those who jump on the "fast track". The phrase "pearls before swine" came into my head a few times - Kate and Nick were able to gain access to some of the most enlightened beings and it seemed kind of funny watching them wrapped up in the making of the film and the project as this incredible wisdom lay open at their feet, were they just to stop, put down the camera, and pick it up.

The final segment, with Gurusharanananda, was most beautiful, as he seems to pull Nick in to a spiritual quest, not so much fo rgod or enlightenment, but for himself. Was a delicious exchange caught on film, and I think, a turning point in both the experiment and Nick's own growth and quest.

Definitely recommend it. On some level it does seem to paint hatha yoga (asana practice, as most often embraced as yoga in the west) as self involved and a bit neurotic. Funny - the Kunda-loonies, as Nick refers to them. Sad - the "Yoga for Regular Guys" practitioner, Diamond Dallas who closes his class with "Namastitties" and sees hot babes as the incentive to get men to practice). I saw a lot of yoga classes that I would probably walk away from upset or pissed off or frustrated by. The Bikram instructor in particular seemed kind of bored and detached.

If you want to lern about yoga - find a teacher, find a class, go do it. This film is interesting, but it's not yoga.

June 19, 2009

Five Star Farmer's Market - Coming Soon

Noticed this "coming soon" sign posted at the former Sleepy's store in the Walmart plaza (Flatbush Avenue, Hartford)

I'm guessing we are looking at another asian fruit and vegetable market (think Appletree or A Dong) rather than a traditional New England farmer's market.

Online here: www.5starfarmersmarket.com/

June 16, 2009

Edward Tufte and Aldrich Museum - As Heard on Faith Middleton

More community service. I heard this mentioned today on Faith Middleton's show (WNPR) this afternoon and have had a few blog hits already. (I blogged about a Tufte workshop a few years back and also mention NPR / WNPR a lot)

Here are some links: Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art / Calendar of Events

e-Flux.com has all the info

Faith Middleton show. Here's a link to today's show, although this is not listed in the summary (was just a quick mention. Although a blog with links and events mentioned in the show might be a nice feature...

Hartford Public Library - One Big Summer Night with Wally Lamb

Call this a two-fold blog posting.

Part I: Doing My Civic Duty

Come to this event, described as a major fundraiser for the Hartford Public Library. It's Friday, June 26, 2009 from 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. It's at the Downtown Library. Wally Lamb will be there, Colin McEnroe is the Honorary Chairperson.

One Big Summer Night with Wally Lamb
Author Event and Silent Auction
Reception, auction and jazz at 6:00 p.m.
followed by a summer supper.

For information and Tickets:
Phone: 8606956348
Email: afigueroa@hplct.org

Price / Donation : $100

One Big Summer Event - The Grumpy Rant

4/17: I'm splitting this into two posts to allow the event (which is a totally good and cool thing that I plan to attend) from the pretty obvious marketing abyss that seems to have accompanied this event.

Part II: Bitching and Moaning

I spotted this event on Facebook. I'm Colin McEnroe's Facebook Friend, and he posted the event. So I clicked through to the link and found the above information. I posted the following comment to his post.
Is this one of those "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" kind of things? Because I cannot, with pretty sharp understanding of The Google, find the cost of this event listed anywhere.

I can call the number or email listed on Facebook to find out , I suppose, but based on a couple of quick web searches, this thing is just not out there on the internets....how people not on Facebook are going to get this critical contact information, I am not sure, neither phone nor email is listed on the invite PDF

And go to the HPL website (I dare you!), and try to find this "major fundraiser" (per Hartford Business Journal) listed or linked. Because I cannot find it.....

HPL, you need to get the word out if you want us to come (which I hope to).

I'm kind of involved in the marketing and advertising field - one of my clients is a pretty visible local tourist attraction, and I work with them on their website, email marketing, keyword / search marketing. If we had a big event running in 10 days, you can be sure you would be able to plug the name of the event into Google and come up with something. Not so this event. You can be sure that if you visited the HPL website, you'd find a button or message on the front page announcing this event. We'd have it on Facebook, we'd try to seed it into blogs, we'd Tweet it a little. Something. Just to get the word out.

I'm pretty sure the mere act of my posting this to my blog will make this the only searchable web reference to this event. I'll keep an eye on my blog referrals the next few days and see how many hits I get, and follow the links back to see what other hits pop up. Does this make me the honorary marketeer / webwench for this event?

I dunno, maybe this is for the cognoscenti; you need to be on the mailing list or something. Maybe it sells out every year and they really don't want or need to get the word out. But if they did want to draw in some new faces and new blood, they need to do some marketing.


Give Back Yoga Day - June 20, 2009

The Give Back Yoga Foundation is a non-profit, tax exempt, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting certified yoga teachers in offering the principles of yoga to underserved socio-economic groups who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the transformational benefits of this powerful practice, in all its aspects--from asana and stress reduction, through breath work and meditation, to general service to others.

Locally, a few events. Down at Newington Yoga Center (which I need to visit someday): Celebrate Solstice with 108 Sun Salutations / June 20 / 12:30 p.m. More info here

And up at Heartsong Yoga (also need to visit) in Eastlongmeadow, MA, 108 Sun Salutations, June 20 starting at 7:00 am (now that is something a morning person like me can appreciate) More info here.

June 14, 2009

Black Yoga Mat

I treated myself today - have been eyeballing a yoga mat down at the studio. It's a black rubber mat that appears to be identical to the pricey Manduka Mat (we had both in stock, so I really did a close comparison), but a lot less expensive.

This is pretty much what they looked like coming out of the box (no frills!) and since I unpacked 'em and priced 'em, I ought to know!

We got them down at the studio from David Swenson, and according to his website:
"This German-made Premium Black Yoga Mat has gained a worldwide reputation as the most durable and stable yoga mat available on the market today. I have come across a onetime opportunity to purchase a quantity of these mats direct from the factory at such an incredible price that I wanted to take advantage of it and pass these savings on to you."
With my teacher discount it was pretty reasonable and I like the idea of getting the good quality mat without the label for a lot less. We'll see how it works with a little sweat (maybe as soon as tomorrow night, assuming I practice with Barb) - but even if I still need a mat cloth, it's nice to have a second heavy-duty mat for when my Jade Harmony is soaked through and needs to be dried / aired out.

It was only a matter of time before I joined the Black Mat Yoga Borg.

Bonus Link: No Stress: Pricey Yoga Mats Sell Briskly in Recession (Time Magazine, May 2009)

Agora Ballroom / Stage West

An interesting article in the Hartford Courant, here: Popular '80s West Hartford Music Hall To Be Demolished

I moved to Connecticut in 1983, and I think I went to the Agora once - perhaps to see Michael Stanley Band. Or NRBQ. Or something. Hard to remember. And do not have particularly fond memories of the place.

But the story is interesting in two ways. The Topix thread for this article has actually generated some interesting comments - reminiscences really. Kind of neat to see the positive aspects of Topix; I am accustomed to seeing Topix wholly as a problem / nuisance.

And second, I had no idea where 165 Dexter Avenue in West Hartford is. So I looked it up on Google maps, and surprise, it's nearby - and I drive by it at least weekly. I've often wondered about the building (it's a pretty desolate industrial area, apparently long abandoned) - and now I know.....

Taking the Bus

Colin McEnroe, doing his column thing this morning: Joyce And The Art Of City Bus Dependence . Nice piece, and worth chewing on.

I'm not much of a bus person, I confess. I do not go places where the busses run all that often, so that when the bus might be an option, I'm clueless as to the routes, times, etc. and connections give me a headache. This despite the fact that my neighborhood is sandwiched between two bus routes - the 39 (which runs along New Britain Avenue) and the 41 (which runs down through Newington into New Britain). And looking at the Greater Hartford bus route map, I see lots of possibilities for bus trips from point A to point B in my life.

Mostly, I do not take the bus for the same reason I do not partake in healthy "slow food" that I know is good for me - I try to cram way too much into my life to afford the time to get from Point A to Point B via anything but my own personal carbon spewing vehicle. So (as on one day last week) I am teaching two yoga classes, sneaking in a few hours of work before and after, running to the grocery store, hitting the bank and the post office going to a doctor's appointment, meeting a friend for lunch, hitting the studio for my own practice, and and and and..... you get the idea. A car is the enabler that let's me cram my Type A life full, and if there is an extra 15 minutes in between stops I try to stuff a little something in there. I suspect I'd be a lot saner and happier if I were to slow down a little.

I hereby vow to find a good reason to take the city bus this summer. I thought about saying "weekly" but I'm sure that will not work (some weeks I do not leave the neighborhood) but there are potential trips downtown (the Science Center beckons) as well as out towards West Farms. Maybe it's a bit colonizing (this is vital transit for some, I am looking to have "an experience") but I need to start somewhere.

June 12, 2009

Werner John - Flutewalker Musical Arts

Just a quick aside, I ran into Werner John at the Sustainable Energy fest and picked up copies of his CD for a friend (wonderful yoga music, I suspect). I'm a big fan of licking up independent musician's works when I run across them, and glad I could buy some of his stuff.

Just seemed like a very grounded and spiritual sort of guy, with some beautiful flutes and equally beautiful music he has made using them.

Dr. Yogables Sing-Along Non-video Blog

First off, I am a complete poseur when it come's to Dr. Horrible. Late to the party, and all. But it's amazing. Must get DVD or download or something. I confess to a small crush on Neil Patrick Harris all the way back to Doogie Howser days.

But as for me, I'd turn my scientific genius towards temporary personal cloning. I could use a few lately, and today in particular. As I posited on Facebook, I'd clone up two additional selves today so that:

a) Clone #1 can teach a couple of yoga classes. And then help Shankara set up for Kirtan.

b) Clone #2 could sit at my desk all day working on the ever-growing backlog of reports and projects. Seems like I dig through a handful of report and a few more come in marked ASAP or URGENT, burying the backlog that much deeper. Three website clients have begun to drop little projects on me (none particularly taxing, but it adds up to a few hours of work). And there are two largish new projects, one trip report and adding a website feature that I am completely dropping the ball on.

c) Clone #3 could sleep in, cook some nice healthy food for herself (and the other clones) and get some much needed downtime.

Wish I could say that the weekend will be either restful or a time to catch up - even though there is not anything large planned, there is yoga to teach and assist and practice, a party I've been vaguely invited to, a support space I dreamed about last night (good clue that I ought to be there).

In other news, Happy Birthday Mom! Hope you enjoy a year of health, loving family, and joy!

I appear to be surrounded by Geminids - Barbara and Kristen down at the studio, Zippy, my mom, each celebrated a birthday this week.

June 11, 2009

Yoga Updates

Bunch of yoga stuff coming up.

This Friday evening (6/12) is Kirtan at West Hartford Yoga, with Shankara and Friends (I'm the guitar and bass playing friend). It's our last kirtan for the summer, so come on out and get your bhakti on! We start up around 8:15, and end sometime after 10.

Saturday is a Free Intro to Yoga class, from 1 - 2 pm with Shankara (I'm usually there to assist). I'll be leading the Free Intro class on Saturday, July 18th....

Sunday I'm subbing for Sharon (9:00 am Gentle) and Monday as well (12:15 Gentle) so a few more opportunities to practice with me.

And finally, the Summer 2009 schedule (starting June 21) has been posted for the studio, online here. I'm picking up a few classes:

Monday, 7:45 - 9:00 pm: Core Ab (new!)
Wednesday, 9:00 - 10:30 am: All-Levels (new!)
Friday, 10:45 - 12:00 noon: WHY Power I (continuing)
Friday, 12:15 - 1:15 pm: $5 Gentle (continuing)

June 08, 2009

SLOW - Kids at Play

Coming home from work this evening, an interesting sight. Two yellow signs in the middle of the road, with the warning SLOW - KIDS AT PLAY

Now, I am not 100% sure how I feel about this.

Neighborhood kids have been playing hoops in the street for a few years now - setting up those portable backboards that are never all that securely counterweighted, and topple over in windy weather. Slow down as I come up to them, wait for the next hoop or break in play, the kids step aside, with a small amount of "lets see how close I can come to your car with my body or the ball" that young men of all eras seem to use to prove their manhood. Have not (so far) experienced the old slapping the back fender with a hand as one drive by, and feigning an injury, but I suspect it might happen some day.

And more recently, kids using the road to play catch (proving their lack of wits, for each missed ball results in a hundred yard run as the ball rolls forever on the smooth, flat road) or football. I am reminded of Wayne's World - with the street hockey - "Game On! Game Off!"

Now, for the most part the neighbors are pretty kid friendly - retired adults or families with kids themselves who tend to drive pretty cautiously. But we do have the occasional example of Hartford's vehicular mayhem - road racers screaming up the road on 4 wheels or 2, as well as the occasional off road vehicle, piloted no doubt by an underage local.

So I'm in favor of any attempt to slow down the traffic. But plopping the signs in the middle of the road seems like it might not be legal, a diversion of the primary purpose of paved roads (transportation). You want to play on blacktop, do so at your own risk (the sporting way), or go to a playground.

A couple of weekends ago, a nearby short connector road (on the WH side of the neighborhood) was fully (and by all appearances, unofficially) closed for a party - cones and string and a sign marked ROAD CLOSED, a car blocking the road, and chairs, tables, and an umbrella plopped down in the middle of the road (for no apparent reason, the party did not seem all that large). Again, noted with some concern as to the propriety of colonizing public spaces for private use.

Something to keep an eye on as the summer progresses.....

June 07, 2009


For a weekend of not much planned, I've been pretty busy.

Friday night, a pretty strong yoga practice with Tobey, subbing for Nykki. Tobey is a little more vigorous than Nykki (Baptiste trained and all) so it was a solid class - always hard to step in for a popular teacher. She's sort of similar in her energy and style of practice as Marcia (one of the studio teachers I practice with a bunch) so I was right at home.

Saturday, I trekked over to the Sustainable Energy Fest in Coventry, RI. I planned to stay all day, but got kind of wiped out - foolishly / romantically choosing to bike from the parking area to the fest (hills involved) and so as the day wore on, I got tired and anticipating the ride back (wanting to go in daylight and while I was fresh), I packed up early.

Ran into the Folk Czarina there, as well as Bob from Falcon Ridge. Highlights included:

* Keynote with Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth - very inspiring and wonderful background on not taking up too much space / resources / etc. Need to add that book to my summer reading list.

* Laughter Yoga with Chris Belanger - Great intro to this unconventional yoga practice, I certainly enjoyed it. Not exactly something I would do daily, but lots of fun and invigorating (physically and spiritually)

* Lunch at Clover Food Truck - Delicious Chickpea Frittata and Watercress / Parsnip Salad. The picture is from their website - yesterday it was labeled "Clover 6/6" and silly me thought it was some cool name (as opposed to, say, June 6th)

* Late afternoon snack (avoiding the always tempting festival ice cream and kettle corn) was a delicious beet salad (sweet and delic!) and quinoa salad. (nourishing, with cranberries)

* A workshop with Rebekah Greenwald, Exec Director of Riverzedge Arts Prioject in Northern RI, on personal approaches to sustainability. Pretty much an intro to the concepts of sustainability, eco footprint, etc. but also with a bit of a practical side in terms of not being able to do everything, and perhaps working to get the most bang for your buck by committing to high eco footprint improvements (often around automobile use and eating locally). Fresh and interesting.

Then I browsed the vendors, listened to music, but left around 4 before things got really cranked up, musically.

After I got home, Zippy and I went shopping, and en route home, saw our friends Lisa and Arran, heading to Angellino's for a post-pride nosh. So we stopped and joined them, getting a teeny bit of pride energy.

June 05, 2009

Endless Loop

I just noticed that my blog posts get echoed to my Twitter feed (via, of all places, Twitterfeed) and then show up in the little Twitter window to the side of my blog.

Now if I can get my blog to echo my Twitter feeds, I can create a positive feedback loop - that will continue ad infinitum - Twitter updating the blog, and the blog updating Twitter. Might even be able to squeeze Facebook in there as well (blog posts also get echo'd over there). Then I will just have to make one post to set it in motion and then I can go off and do yoga and let the Internets take care of themselves.

Telecom Tweaking

My mobile bill (AT&T) has been sneaking up there (a 700 minute plan, an extra phone, and a minimal texting package) so I went to see if I could trade down to a lower plan (I routinely rollover 200-300 minutes, my rollover minutes sit at 3000, etc.) - but the only lower plan (550 minutes) cost exactly 1 cent less, and I would throw away 2000+ rollover minutes. No thanks. Unless I switch providers, or cough up for a bundled package (seriously looking to switch the house over to AT&T from Comcast) I guess I have found my level.

On the other hand, I called Boingo - I signed up for a monthly laptop plan a while back (when I was traveling more) but have not used it since January. I have, however, gotten an iPod Touch which I would love to use at Starbuck's, McD's, and sundry other mobile hotspots. So I downgraded to a mobile plan (the only time I use Boingo mostly is airports, and the iPod will be fine for that) and that will save me $2 a month. And let me surf a lot more. Like I need that.

California Owes Me One

Hey, California. You got two of my favorite peeps out there - Nykki and Cheryl - and you only sent one in return - my favorite bovine, Pat, who is on the east coast until the 16th.

So you owe me one.

Newington Bike Shop

Headed down yesterday afternoon to get a bike rack from my car - one of those metal strap it to the trunk affairs. As usual, the folks at Newington Bike Shop rose to the occasion. Not only did I get a real live person to talk to, he helped me pick out a rack suitable for my 2007 Saturn, did not try to upsell me too hard towards a pricey THULE model, and even walked out back with me to mount the rack on my car and show me how to connect it prior to me buying it.

I also got to walk through the back room where they were repairing, adjusting, and building bikes, which seemed like an awfully cool place.

And yeah, I paid a few bucks more than I would have at one of the big sports stores or online. But I'm happy to cough up a few extra bucks for this sort of customer service.

Not sure how often I will use it, but I'll likely pop over to the reservoir or linear path a few times this summer with my bike, without having to borrow one of Zippy's trucks....

Not So Proud

I guess that Saturday is CT Pride Day, and the weather looks to be nearly perfect. Down at Bushnell Park, 11 am to 5 pm.

Have not been much into Pride Day for a few years now. Not all that connected or invested in the local community; the downside of living in a liberal, accepting place is that there is less need for a queer ghetto, and as a result, the GLBT organizations and businesses are pretty thin. The Project 100 / Community Center closed doors a few years back. There are two local bars (Chez Est and Polo Club), neither of which does much for me - not much of a drinker to start with, I rarely stay up past 11, and the GLBT entertainment options do not really resonate. I'm not all that big on gay marriage (it does not seem to work all that well for the straight folks....maybe we should find a different model) which is the one political cause that seems to have traction these days. And my membership into the lesbian tribe seems conditional at best. So, in general, I'm an "on the outside, looking in" kind of queer woman. I have a few smallish circles of queerness I move through but none seems particularly connected to any sort of greater community.

Were I hanging out on Saturday, I would no doubt show up (probably on bike), walk around, say hi to some old friends, make a few circuits of the festival grounds, and wander off feeling kind of lonely and disconnected. But since I will heading out to Rhode Island for a Green / Folkie fest (musicians I enjoy, workshops and vibe I can embrace, and yoga to boot), I get to avoid the "I really feel like I ought to be part of this but somehow its nor working for me" experience.

Casting Call

Is it just me, or do the two guys arrested this week for armed robbery in Bristol at the Webster Bank seem right out of a Hollywood casting call.

"Get me two guys for the perps. White, big, kinda menacing. Got that look of cold, calculating evil in their eyes"

While I'm at it, the Central Regional Emergency Response Team seen in the linked photos seems outfitted for a trip to Afghanistan - pretty impressive uniforms and firepower. Had the Republicans remained in power and intent on escalating the wars, they might have considered calling up local law enforcement, having pretty much burned through and burned out the regular services and the national guard units....

Sidebar, when I first moved to CT back in 83, I lived in Bristol, right up the road from this bank. I used to go to that particular branch when it was a Bristol Savings Bank - it's a pretty impressive office inside, one of those old-timey banks with rich wood, high ceilings, and marble floors that give you a safe, solid feeling.

June 04, 2009

TONIGHT: Black-Eyed and Blues Fest

I have to teach until 6:00 pm but I'm hoping to sneak down later for a bit....

Aetna First Thursday - June 4, 2009
A Greater Hartford Arts Council Event

This year will be chock full of great music, brews and BBQ!

5 PM-11 PM
Bushnell Park Pavilion, Downtown Hartford, CT
Admission Absolutely Free!!!


The Bluelights (5:00-6:00 PM)
They are like “Roots Music in Overdrive.” They draw on a wide variety of traditional music to create a new style infused with the energy of the rock ‘n’ roll music of our generation.

Eran Troy Danner (6:15-7:15 PM)
This band is a stripped down, no frills, back to the basics Blues band that has won the acclaim and admiration of true Blues fans everywhere. This red hot trio performs straight forward honest Blues and has opened up for Blues legend BB King, Lucky Peterson, Eddie Turner, Eddie Kirkland, and Blues Traveler.

Alexis P. Suter (7:30-8:30 PM)
Alexis P. Suter has a big voice and knows how to use it. Whether singing about spiritual ecstasy or earthly troubles Alexis makes every song she performs her own. Suter and her top-notch band regularly open Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles, twice-monthly house parties at Helm’s home and studio in Woodstock NY. That is also where all the tracks on her latest album were recorded last year.

Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez (8:45-9:45 PM)
This beehive knows how to rock, from NBC’s SNL to many festivals around the world, Christine really touches her audience. She just keeps lighting up clubs with her hot guitar and eclectic live shows. Be prepared for a night of big time music.

Bronze Radio Return (10:00-11:00 PM)
Brandishing a soulful, bluesy and highly engaging brand of rock, this hard-working Hartford quintet has been making a lot of noise outside of the Nutmeg state, with tour dates currently on the books from upstate New York all the way down to Virginia.
The music will make you dance, sing along and feel good.

All Ages - No Coolers - No Food - No Dogs - Line-up subject to change
Factory sealed water bottles allowed.

RI Sustainable Living Festival and Clean Energy Expo

Completely last minute, but I am going! Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7, over in Coventry RI. Some really great music: Dar Williams, Vance Gilbert, Patty Larkin, Red Molly, Mark Erelli, Crooked Still, The Low Anthem, Atwater Donnely, Jay Mankita (among others). What looks to be some awesome workshops. Heck, even yoga....and other wholesome activities

It looks to be a great weekend, weatherwise. And the festival is totally cheap - $30 in advance for both days.

Bit of a haul from Hartford - and they have no parking onsite - but there is a shuttle bus from a nearby school (and I might take my bike and bike in from there). If anyone wants to tag along and carpool, let me know.

Something completely out of the blue, fun, and unexpected this weekend! Join me!

June 03, 2009

Falcon Ridge Folk Fest

I see, courtesy of Twitter, that performers are getting their "Emerging Artist Showcase" notifications. So it's getting close to time for me to get cracking on Performer Merchandise prep.

There are 46 official festival performers scheduled. Add in another 24 Emerging Artist Showcase performers, and perhap 20-30 associated performers (side musicians, friends of the festival, solo artists who are part of a group) and there are maybe 75 - 100 different entities wishing to sell merchandise at the official merchandise tent at the festival. Each will have some number of products - from 1-2 CDs (a new artist) to over a dozen. Some artists will also have books, shirts, DVDs, hats, etc.

Somebody has to track all that product - log it in as received, keep track of it during the festival, and log it out (and record the sales) at the end.

That somebody would be me :) - aided by a pretty massive spreadsheet I developed a few years back. Amazingly, they were doing this by hand prior to 2007 when I got tagged to help out. Not surprisingly, checkout took many hours, with performers incredibly cranky about having to wait to get their merchandise and money at the end of the fest.

I'm also hoping to lead morning yoga every day at the fest, up at the dance tent - so keep an eye out.....

June 02, 2009

3.4 MPH

West Hartford's Reservoir #6 this evening - I did the 3.7 mile (per the PDC website) loop at a reasonable walk in 1 hour, 5 minutes - 3.4 MPH.

Left my iPod at the office so no tunes - but a beautiful evening and a bit of wildlife to keep me company.

Always looking for walking buddies, so drop me a note if you are interested.