February 28, 2010

Oscar Nominated Live Shorts - Real Art Ways

Popped over to Real Art Ways this afternoon to catch the 2010 Oscar Nominated Short Films. All in all, a pretty dark set of films. My quick review.

Kavi was an Indian short, about a young boy who lives in effective slavery in a brick making kiln. Kind of like a sober Slum Dog Millionaire. A beautiful film even as it was dark and only partly resolved.

The New Tenants was a dark comedy, noteworthy by David Rakoff (of This American Life fame) as a neurotic, dark part of a gay couple. Also Vincent D'Onofrio. I giggled through the mayhem and violence.

The Door was about a young family displaced (and later, destroyed) by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Quite moving and sad, especially in these days where we are considering re-opening the door to domestic nuclear power.

Miracle Fish was perhaps the most cerebral or thought provoking film - a young boy from a poor family struggles with his schoolmates, until they all disappear. Exceptionally surprising and poignant.

Finally, Instead of Abracadabra introduces a nerdy young magician who struggles with family, his craft, and his love life. Funny and feelgood, even if there was a high squirm factor. Also, Swedish is an amusing language to listen to, just the flow and tempo of it.

I'm also looking to go to the Animated Shorts at Real Art Ways before next weekend, as Kerri from Real Hartford has documented. A new Wallace and Grommet short is worthwhile, regardless of the others!

February 27, 2010

Safety Seminar

A long day of sitting and learning, at the CT Lighter Than Air Society 2010 Safety Seminar. It's a full day of refresh and reboot in terms of the safety aspects of flying hot air balloons. Lots of things can go wrong - from propane related accidents to contact with high power lines, from thunderstorms and wind sheer to flying into trees.

Special guest this year was Gordon Schwontkowski, long time balloonist and author of "Hot Air Balloon Crewing Essentials". Gordon spoke on a few topics - crew safety, tie downs and tethering, crew weather - and was supplemented by other balloonists speaking about FAA Regulations, propane, accident avoidance, etc.

A long day, but worthwhile. I've been balloon crewing, on and off, for 25 years, and I have never been involved in nor witnessed a serious incident or accident. Hoping that day never comes. But it's always good to be prepared, and I walked away with a punch list of things I need to learn, some habits I need to develop, and some practices we could do better as a crew.

It was also a day of lax eating, as we ate the conference food (yummy, but not exactly weight watchers) and then a follow-up dinner at the Hawthrone Inn (where my meal included seared sea scallops, mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach, salad, and creme brulee). One day hiatus that I fear will show up on the scale on Monday.

Back to my regular life tomorrow. Yoga, methinks. Get some chores and cleaning done around here. And perhaps get my March 1 invoices out, on time for a change....

Let's Go To the Videotape

Back in September 2007, Bob Wilson came on a balloon flight, taping it for his Roadside Stories series. Today, I found the video from that segment on YouTube.

I'm in there a little bit.....

February 26, 2010

Hey Wait. It's Me!

Reading back through the blog....I realized that a milestone of sorts passed a few days back. So before I drift upstairs for a long overdue appointment with the pillow, I ought to note it.

I had a direct experience of my self the other night!

I was lying in bed - tired but unable to sleep, so I read for a while, listened to NPR a bit. I had flipped of the light and was snuggled under the blankets when BAM! I suddenly felt myself in my body in a way that was completely new, unexpected, and conversely completely ordinary.

I simultaneously burst out laughing, started to cry, and rolled around in bed hugging myself and whispering to myself "I'm Me! I'm Me!"

Knowing that part of the experience is to communicate the experience, and not really wanting to call up friends or my EI masters at that time of the morning, I posted to Facebook (as a place-holder, temporarily) and then checked in with my EI masters as I was able to.

Pretty sure this was real.....and although certainly not the same without the pressure cooker, support, and opportunity to share and explore of a Direct Experience during an intensive.

But yeah....nice. I feel less broken....

One More Thing

Self confession - I have too many hobbies and careers. I do engineering work. I code websites. I write. I play guitar in a kirtan band. I play bass in a folk-rock band. I practice yoga religiously (some might say fanatically). I teach yoga. I chase hot air balloons. Kind of a full life, no?

So of course I trucked down to Middletown this evening for the first training program that might lead me to become a radio DJ at WESU 88.1 (Wesleyan University). Sometime last year I saw a solicitation for folk DJs on one of the local folk music lists, and it just seemed right. So here I go.....

Was kind of cool being there - rooms and hallways crammed with shelves full of LPs and CDs. Funky and cool and a little rough around the edges in the way that college radio just is. I feel like I'm getting the chance to do something I might have done back in college had I been really engaged and connected to myself, had I not been full of fear and running for my life.

Tonight was pretty tame - introductions, meet the trainers, go over the history of the station, the structure of the training, some of the rules and regs. Who knows if this will stick. Of course, the last time I embarked upon a "let's see where this road takes me" kind of training I ended up a yoga teacher.

It's never too late to have a happy childhood. Or in my case, a happy adolescence.....

February 25, 2010

Peter Anthony!

A message from Linked In this morning:

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

etcetera, blah, blah, blah

- Peter Anthony


I'm so glad he's reconnected - been thinking of him lately with all my forays into the world of open mics, acoustic music, etc.

Tomboys


I've always had a thing for Tomboys. My high school and college crushes (inevitably unrequited) were for the jockettes - field hockey, tennis, track, crew, rugby. There is something about a strong and not quite so gender conforming woman that makes my heart skip a beat.

So needless to say, the Vancouver Olympics is fertile ground for renewing my mad crush skills.

Figure skating / ice dancing? Bleah. Unless the female cognate of Johnny Weir shows up - KD Lang on blades of glory, I'm not interested. And the classic winter skiing sports (downhill, etc.) are also a bit too mainstream to be of much interest.

But bobsled and luge, yeah. Curling. Snowboard and ski-cross (even Shaun White is kinda cute in a Tomboy kinda way). Speed-skating. Biathlon.

SO I have to admit that I've been watching the Olympics not just for the sport and spectacle. But kind of mildly crushing out on the athletes. Kind of an interesting insight.

February 24, 2010

WANT!

Yoga Action Figures!

16 plastic figures (8 men, 8 women) and an instructional guide. Amazing and fun.

February 09, 2010

Near Miss

Friends from Philly, en route to Boston, decided to drive up tonight and stopover in CT. They were thinking of staying here, and as a result I scurried around cleaning this afternoon: changed the sheets, straightened the bedroom and living room somewhat, vacuumed all the carpets.

Alas, my friends opted to lodge with another friend, along the coast. Probably smart considering the snowfall predictions. And it's nice to have the place a bit cleaned up....

Weight Watchers - Week #5

Alas, my WW updates have ended up for the most part on Facebook. Suffice it to say that I am still on program, still losing. As of Week #5 weigh-in on Monday, I lost 2 more pounds for 12.8 total. Not quite Biggest Loser numbers but not too bad. I had dropped exponentially over the first four weeks - roughly 6 / 3 / 1.5 / 0.5 pounds, so a decent two pounds was a welcome rebound. For that, I earned a warning from the eTools system:

Please note: You’re probably excited to be losing weight, but you’re losing faster than is recommended. Although it’s normal to lose over 2 pounds in one week, if you lose more than an average of 2 pounds per week over a four-week period, this could pose health risks, such as heart irregularities, anemia or loss of muscle mass. Please slow your weight loss; your doctor can help you do this if you’re not sure how, or ask your Leader for ideas.

Please slow your weight loss. Really? Honestly, with the good foods that I am eating, much hot / power yoga, and my starting weight, 2 pounds per week is pretty safe for me. Although I was tempted to stop by Five Guys this evening to ensure that I "slowed my weight loss". Mmmmmm...... although I ran the nutritional information into the WW calculator to find the points. Little Hamburger = 14 points, Regular Fries (which is really two servings) is 16 points. Not really. I remain somewhat shocked each time I run the numbers on a (typically fast food) "habit" from my days before I started the program. It's amazing I did not gain much more weight, a tribute to all that yoga....

I'm loving the WW eTools especially the iPhone app. Includes a points calculator, a list of restaurant menu items, and the ability to update your food or activity points on the road.

I did find a nice treat - Van's Low Fat Waffles (2 points for 2 waffles, amazing), frozen unsweetened strawberries (1 point for 1/2 cup), and some Fat Free whipped topping. A 3 or 4 point dessert that is pretty delicious and amazing.

February 05, 2010

Kitty Kraus / Matrix 158

Popped over to the Wadsworth Atheneum last night for the relaunch of the Matrix contemporary arts program. Full disclosure - the new Curator of Contemporary Art, Patricia Hickson, is an old friend (or rather, my sister's best bud in high school, she was a year behind me) and life has planted us both in Hartford. So I was there partly for the art, partly to support a friend, and partly to get out and about. The evening was a success on all counts!

Loved the installation. You can read a more refined synopsis of the artist's work here, although I'm trying to reflect my reaction without reading too much. I'll dig into others interpretations later....I was too busy schmoozing to catch the artist's talks, sadly.

My initial reaction was that Ms. Kraus is creating the same sorts of geometries and effects as Frank Lloyd Wright - except what he does with paint or metal, she is doing with light. I found myself stopping at each lightbox and noting how each cast a different pattern or effect on the space - and wondering if there were slots or cut-outs on the hidden face. I'm guessing not; that the differences were related to the orientation of the light brick; the distance from the walls, and perhaps subtle differences in the width of the exposed glass and the angled assembly of the individual panes of glass.

Eventually, I stopped at an individual brick and simply gazed into the light. Several of the figures created a 3D effect - as if I were gazing down the length of an unfinished room or hallway, looking at rafters or the supports of a suspended ceiling.

And finally, this morning, a more spiritual interpretation. Much like a quest for the divine - we are often blocked form gazing directly at the truth, but instead can only catch slivers of light, reflections, second and third hand evidence of the brilliant light that illuminates reality. This entire reality is the same sort of projection as Ms. Kraus's light installations - we can not see within the source of the light, but it leaks out of the cracks and the projections are both beautiful and draw us in to seek more.

The Matrix gallery space is an interesting space - long and tunnel-like with one entrance closed. In some ways it evokes other tunnel-like spaces filled with light (dare I mention the O'Hare International tunnel between terminals B and C?). My experience of the art was only slightly marred by a somewhat gruff Atheneum guard whose admonishments to "stick to the center of the room, do not touch anything, including the bench" felt a little stern and boomy in the space which otherwise might have conjured a cathedral-like silence. Perhaps a visit on another day, without the bustle of an opening and a First Thursday event is in order.

I'm a newcomer to the Atheneum's social circle - but it's feeling more comfortable, and I'm overdue for an afternoon of more leisurely browsing and exploration.

February 03, 2010

Two Point Waffles

One of the pitfalls of weight-watchers is the tendencey to get into a rut, food-wise. Having to figure out the points of new foods is a minor hassle; so one tends to buy or make the same meals day-in and day-out.

Right now, my breakfasts are pretty standard:

* 5 Grain cereal (3 points), raisins (2 points), and agave nectar (1 point)
* Microwaved egg (2 points), lite english muffin (1 point), lite shredded cheese (2 points)
* Cold cereal (2 or 3 points) and milk (2 points)

Today I found a new product - Van's All Natural 97% fat-free waffles - which come in at two points for two waffles. Add a little fruit, maybe some maple syrup. Yum....

Finding low point carbs / breads is kind of the holy grail of weight watchers. So I'm pretty pumped to try these....

Madame Secretary

Triggered by Colin McEnroe's Easy to grasp = True, regarding Susan Byseiwicz's problems with her prospective bid for the Attorney General position.

The whole shuffling of candidates and elected positions in Hartford leaves me with a bad taste. Regardless of whether she is qualified or not (in fact, by the legal definition, or as perceived by the electorate) - her candidacy for AG seems less like a well thought out career arc and more of a "I'm entitled to one of these jobs, the question is, which one"

Do we have a ruling class in the state? If there is one lesson to be taken from MA it's that a position or elected office for granted is no longer a sinecure.

I've always liked Ms. Byseiwicz in her role as SoS; she seems to be on top of things like reaching out to the disenfranchised, being a visible and accessible public figure in terms of elections and voting mechanics. But I've seen nothing that makes me think she has the drive or chops to be AG (other than, perhaps, having done what she can as SoS).

Maybe she has either or both of these. I hope she can communicate that to us. But right now, I'm getting a whiff of entitlement and ruling class (evidenced by Martha Coakley, whose main qualification for Senate seems to have been "I put in my time, you owe me") - and with the mood of the electorate, that does not seem like a good thing.