June 30, 2010

Summertime

The guy who plows the small parking area of my condo planted some stakes in the ground at the edges and corners - so he could see where to plow (and where not) in the snow. These hung around all winter, around the middle of April I pulled them out and piled them up near the trash cans. They've never quite made it out to the garbage.

Today, heading out for an ice coffee, I watched as three young boys (maybe 10 - 12 years old) collected the stakes and headed off down the street. One was on a bike, one had a few gathered in his arms, and the last boy was dragging his armload behind him, no shirt and his baseball cap askew on his head. It was a quintessential summer scene, right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

No idea what they were going to do with the stakes - play weapons? building materials? just something to mess around with? Regardless, this was a treasure trove to these little guys....

Oh, to be 12 years old, on a summer's day, with nothing to do but hang out, collect wood, and walk the fine line between entertaining oneself and getting into trouble.

June 28, 2010

Territorial

The farm where I walk Elo is patrolled by red-winged blackbirds, who are apparently nesting at the moment. As we walk by a nesting are, hidden in the tall grass, the male flies up to an overlooking tree, and quacks disapprovingly. And fairly often, they swoop down behind Elo or myself, at the last minute flaring the wings to brake and squawking loudly, driving off the potential threats. Per Wikipedia:
The Red-Winged Blackbird can be very aggressive while defending its territory from other animals and birds. It will attack much larger birds, such as crows, ravens, magpies, birds of prey and herons if they enter.[12] Only on a very few documented occasions have they been known to attack humans who encroach upon their territories during mating.[13]

Even when I am on the lookout for them, one of them will scare the heck out of me on a typical walk. Never seen them strike Elo or myself, and they tend to swoop in from the rear as we depart their territory, so it seems to be more of a show than anything. However, I did see one chasing, harassing, and driving off a hawk a week or so ago.

June 25, 2010

The Bulletproof End of the Spectrum

It's a little thing, I know. And I'd hardly notice it except that I am an NPR junkie who listens pretty much non-stop.

There's a promo running right now about WNPR environmental reporting, and the interviewee in the promo is talking frogs. Not exactly a direct quote, but he says "....frogs are on the bulletproof end of the spectrum; they spend part of their lives on land and part in the water, so they are exposed to lots of toxins and are at high risk as a result."

Now, Frog Mutations are a pretty well known (if not fully explained) phenomena. Frogs are pretty sensitive to environmental issues. So I would not exactly refer to them as "bulletproof".

Call me Miss Cranky Pants, but wrong word, dude! And "boo" to WNPR for putting that particular clip in their promo so we're subjected to the improper usage repetitively....

*** End of Rant ***

June 21, 2010

Who Needs a Webmaster?

I've recently started playing with a small musical group, the Guinea Pigs. The group has had a minimal web presence, so I've been slowly setting up a website. Instead of a formal website, I decided to simply set up a free blog, using Blogger technology. Here.

Pretty please with the blogger technology (this particular blog dates back to 2005, and I have not done much updating to the format or template). But nowadays, blogger lets you set up a text boxes, additional internal pages, a host of layouts and color schemes. It's all very easy to use, flexible, and powerful.

Would encourage any of my friends looking into a small website to promote a group, a small business, etc. to consider using blogger. It's fast, it's free, and it's pretty powerful!

Coventry Regional Farmers Market

The Guinea Pigs played the Coventry Regional Farmers Market yesterday. It was a totally fun gig!

I saw local friends - Jane (one of my yoga teacher friends), and also from the studio, Dayna aka the Crafty Scientist. She had a booth set up and was selling various soaps (and handmade fabric objects especially in skulls). Her logo looks like her, only evil - she seems rather angelic in person.

Another posse of friends wandered by, surprised to see me playing. Not sure why they missed the news (I was rather annoying at spamming my Facebook friends list with the gig). And when I asked them what brought them to Coventry, they informed me that it was a lesbian meetup or womyn's gathering of sorts. (Not sure if its formal, through some organization, or its just something that has organically developed). So I was amused and delighted that by the end of the afternoon, there were small clusters of earthy women hanging out - listening, chatting, occasionally dancing or singing along.

Feedback was very good from the patrons, vendors, and staff - we do a nice mix of music. People stopped to listen, danced a little, applauded. We only were asked to "turn it down" once.

Pictures here (my flickr account, I handed my digital camera to some friends) and here (drcope's flickr account, fewer but much higher quality photos)

Again, a total blast, hope we get out there again this season!

June 16, 2010

Showcase Preview

Got the list of showcase performers; and decided to do a little pre-fest screening and listening. A bunch of them have music on eMusic so I burned through my monthly allotment (and added a 50 song booster pack) to grab the latest from the following groups:

* Pauline Pisano
* Chris O'Brien
* Rachael Sage
* Wiggins Sisters
* Anna Vogelzang
* Tripping Lily
* Shannon Wurst
* Chris Velan
* The Folkadelics
* Wiggins Sisters

Got me a lot of listening to do pre-fest! It will be nice to have some familiarity with the artists - I'd be pretty stoked if, upon check-in, the merch person says "hey, I really like your stuff!"

June 15, 2010

Falcon Ridge!

It's that time of year again. I'm knee deep in Excel again, setting up a spreadsheet for the performer merchandise for the Falcon Ridge Folk Fest.

I took on the mantle of performer merchandise crew chief back in 2006, and spent some hours assembling a magic spreadsheet that tracks merchandise sales. Each artist gets a worksheet, into which I preload all the CDs and merchandise I can find. I've pulled the performer list from the website, and have just gotten a copy of the 24 new artist showcase performers.

Once on site, we update the spreadsheet as the artists come in, and then afterwards as they check out. It's all very efficient (and technologically a bit off base, in terms of the spirit of the fest) - but it's helped the festival organizers really get a handle on merchandise sales, help us get the artists paid and on the way after the fest, and makes everyone's life easier.

Will be a little bit of a crush for me this year - I'm heading to Montana the week prior to the folk fest for a yoga retreat. So trying to get a jump on things now.

No rest for the weary!

Certifiable

Buried in the busyness of the past few weeks is a milestone of sorts. On May 21, 2010, I was awarded my certification of having completed a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, recognized by the industry group Yoga Alliance. I'm officially a yoga teacher!

The certification itself is not so critical - I've been teaching for almost 2 years, I've never actually been asked for my credentials. All that being said, I teared up a bit as I picked it up. As I noted back in 2008 as I started my training, "It's By Far the Hardest Thing I've Ever Done". In a life of getting by, nibbling at the edges of things, taking the easy path, yoga teacher training was a real stretch.

So to have that piece of paper, to have official sanction and certification - pretty amazing.

June 14, 2010

Giving Away the Store

Finding a decent (and relatively simple, and oh by the way, cheap) CMS editor for my web clients has been a bit of a bugaboo - I used to use blogger which I hacked slightly, but they discontinued FTP support.

Finally, I sat down and did some digging, and came up with http://www.cushycms.com/ - which provides for simple CMS updates.

Took me about 1/2 an hour to set it up at my client's site: www.pflaghartford.org - both the calendar page and the news page are now editable, and I hope to resurrect a front page news bar which has ceased working.

Bout time...I've been kicking this particular can down the road for a few months.

June 13, 2010

Don't It Always Seem To Go....

....that you don't know what you've got ‘til it's gone....

Or perhaps, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder". I've finally returned from a week out of town. Much travel annoyance (check my twitter feed for the blow-by-blow) culminating in a not getting home Friday night and traveling Saturday. Did not really get much in the way of sleep on Thursday or Friday, so I've been pretty much zonked all weekend. Apologies to everyone who I've been out of touch with.....

But being away make me appreciate that which I have here....the condo, my dog, my bed, my fridge full of my food, my sink full of dishes, even the mess and the clutter. Hopefully it will encourage me to be a bit more mindful and thankful about it all.

The work went well; a week of equipment testing made for long days on my feet. But I snuck in three nights of yoga at Inner Fire Yoga in Madison, as well as a side trip up to Appleton to see some old friends. So all in all, a good trip. And I am not even too far behind going into Monday.....

That being said, the week ahead is a full one. I came back home to a Guinea Pigs (in future, GP) rehearal last night, and this afternoon, a few hours in the studio with Tim Mayock, recording GP originals. We prepped 7 numbers and were able to move through them all, recording two good versions of each. While I am sure there are lots of hiccups and oops moments in there, we all seemed pretty stoked about it. Hopefully the music will make it's way into the world sooner or later - not 100% sure how we plan to use these. It was pretty sweet to be in the studio (Northfield Music, in Granby) which is a lovely space, Tim was pretty wonderful. Looking forward to going back to clean some things up and see how the songs flesh out.

The rest of the week if pretty GP intensive - rehearsal tomorrow night, a gig on Tuesday (the Billings Forge Hog & Grog fundraiser), as well as Wed (a Park and Rec thing for New Britain), and finally, next Sunday at the Coventry Farmer's Market.

June 08, 2010

Bikram - Sort Of

Having taken it mellow yesterday with a pseudo-yin / gentle hybrid, I thought I'd check out a hot class which was for all intents and purposes, Bikram. Pretty much kicked my ass....

The good: a strong hot practice, 90 minutes of bad ass yoga. A lot of familiar postures (I have a secret crush on Bikram's triangle). With my cranky shoulders, the bikram sequence is not so bad - no chaturanga, no deep shoulder opening (like ostrich, archer, bridge). The balancing work was very challenging. The mini-savasana between poses was kind of nice.

The less good: Really a struggle to keep eyes open, use the mirrors, and keep my head in the right alignment after years of a different discipline. A number of the postures were difficult for my body. And I could see getting bored with the practice quickly; part of my yoga fix is turning off the mind and listening to the teacher - Bikram is a bit too measured and engineered; I'd be looking ahead, counting asana's, etc. once I became familiar with the sequence.

I think I'd also miss a lot of the variety of my present practices. No inversions. No arm balancing. No ab work. No vinyasa. No laying own twists, no deep hip openers. And no dance of sequencing, no teacher-student dialogue, no delightful discoveries of new postures, new sequences, no challenges.

But, a good practice once in a while, certainly a great chance to detox. I probably do not want to do that practice every time I hit the mat, and the different head and neck holdings would challenge me.

I'll probably hit Inner Fire Yoga one more time this week. Three nice practices while traveling for work is not bad at all!

Madison, WI

Out of town all week, working with a client in Madison, WI. Of course, I've been here since yesterday at 1 pm and we have not done much work yet - lot of hurry up and wait (in this case for access to the system we will be testing). I've caught up on email and facebook and various message boards; might as well blog.

Staying at a fairly low cost ($60 / night) Extended Stay Deluxe property - about 1/2 the cost of the regular place I stay in and fine for me. I like the kitchen; I went out and picked up some fruit and cereal for breakfast, some yogurt and pretzels for snacks, and some water and skim milk - a lot healthier than the typical morning continental breakfast (I never sem to be able to resist the eggs or a waffle now and then). And since I am here all week, having some space (couch, lounger, desk, kitchen) is nice.

Some would say "hey, your client is picking up the tab, why do you care?" but that's not how I roll.....

While standing in line getting peeved at the rental car place (which I will not name for fear of earnest follow-up, see below), I tweeted a few times of my crankiness, specifically about the desk clerk who was a little too chatty with customers given that he was the only one there and had a line of folks waiting. So you need to bump the dude up to a pick-up, fine. Do you really need to know that he drives a truck and what kind and does he like it? Oh and do you think I did not notice you selling me (woman) hard on the coverage while you barely mentioned it to the three dudes in front of me?

So anyway, later yesterday my tweets were apparently scoped out by the director of social marketing for this particular company, who wants to follow up. Oh fine. Censorship comes not from the iron fist of big brother but the velvet touch of a caring marketing department wanting to make things right. I'll avoid brand names in the future just to not have to subject myself to "making it right"

While I am in general cranky about being away, and also cranky about being in the belly of the corporate beast (truth be told, its a good company and not at all annoying) - I do have a local yoga studio nearby that is pretty good, and might take an evening's drive up to Appleton to visit with some friends one evening this week.

June 06, 2010

Good For The Gores

In this morning's Hartford Courant, a piece by Irene Papoulis

Good For The Gores: Facing Reality Of A Romance That Ran Its Course

Loved this piece.

Still, at times, remaining married can be a result of cowardice or the reluctance to deal with the upheaval that divorce inevitably brings. People sabotage their true spirits in the name of maintaining a false, happily married facade. Or they pursue their real interests in private, sometimes risking humiliating their spouses if they're found out.


I guess I've witnessed too many folks clinging to a marriage that no longer serves either partner, where the inertia or legal entanglement or dependency of the marriage keeps couples bound in discontent. Where the specter of social or cultural disappointment and disapproval prevents the individuals from growth and fulfilling their potentials.

One of the reasons I've never been too excited about gay marriage; I think many relationships do better without the ties that bind....

Pride (Not) and Gay and Lesbian Film Fest

Stopped by the annual Pride Fest yesterday at Bushnell Park. A quick circuit around the sundry booths and vendors, a stop by the bandshell stage (a band was playing, nobody seemed to be listening), and I was out of there.

I did see a handful of old friends and stopped to chat with a few. But for the most part there was a feeling of alienation and disappointment, that this did not seem to be a place of connection, support, or community for me. It feels like, if one has been around enough, one has had a falling out or a drifting away from pretty much every organization in the park. Bleah.

About the only significant interaction was an eager young woman with a clipboard, fishing for HRC members. I felt rather old and cranky as I explained that I had been an HRC member / supporter for many years but that I was unable to support them anymore due to their policies vis a vis trans issues. Interesting that her canned spiel described HRC as "the largest gay and lesbian advocacy organization" - clearly HRC is not even pretending to be GLBT or trans advocates these days.javascript:void(0)

Later, I headed to Trinity College for the last night of the "Gay and Lesbian" Film Fest (again, no inclusiveness in terms of the name of the festival, although there is usually plenty of diversity in the films). Some interesting shorts (several fairly dark, several funny) including the amusing 25 Random Things I Did During My Big Fat Lesbian Depression which felt WAY too familiar. I joked that I was up to #17, but come on, one of the random things was getting into Kirtan, and another was yoga! Sheesh.

However, the film-maker seemed to plow through her 25 things in the course of a year; it seems to take me a decade to get through the same ground. At this point I'll find a relationship sometime around my 60th birthday.

The final short was my perennial favorite U-Haul: The Music Video, which makes me smile every single time I see it.



The feature last night was a bio-pic of the Topp Twins called Untouchable Girls. Really an amazing story about New Zealand twin sisters who are lesbians, folk musicians, and have evolved into commediennes.



A very well done film which incorporated a lot of archaival footage - Jools and Lynda as young buskers playing the streets (in 70's and 80's lesbian drag, denim and mullets, looking so delightfully dykey and at times reminding me of the young Roches in their harmonies and playfulness) and then aging into a beloved performing duo that has been engaged in NZ issues - anti-nukes, indigineous rights, and of course, gay/lesbian rights.

They are playing Northampton next week (June 12) at the Academy of Music - I'm gonna be knee deep in Guinea Pigs stuff or I'd take a trip up!

June 05, 2010

Fauna

Critters spotted at Deming-Young farm in Newington, over and above the omnipresent birds.

Rabbit: Elo is particularly interested and gives chase, the rabbits are descendants of El-ahrairah and soon lose the doltish dog. But he does so love to give chase. It's the beagle in him. We've seen them on the paths in early morning and late afternoon....feeding time no doubt.

Turtle: Think it was a painted turtle (the shell was a bit shallow for a box turtle) sunning itself in the short cut path. Elo tore up the path and sniffed a bit but did not bother it otherwise. Nice to see a turtle....it feels lucky.

Groundhog: Today, up by the barn. Elo was on a leash at the time, and did not see it, fortunately, I think he might have caught this critter given a chance. The ground-hog knew it was at risk and scampered into the underbrush. The ground hog must have some escape skills, given the number of unleashed dogs that walk at the farm.

June 04, 2010

Crockett

Among the life mementos that I have carried with me is a 45 RPM record by a Worcester MA group called "Crockett". The A side is a bit of bawdy innuendo called "Judy Grew a Wildflower" and the B side is the something called "Some Kids". Circa 1979.

Crockett (led by Walter Crockett, with his wife Valerie and I believe featuring a young whipper-snapper on guitar named Duke Levine) must have played the coffeehouse at WPI and I liked them well enough to buy the record (the sleeve of which bears a price - 49 cents - although no idea if the sleeve is original)

For some reason I thought about Crockett this evening, and hunted them down online. There is a self described primitive website and sadly, an obituary for Valerie Crockett who passed away in October 2009.

Walter Crockett is still out there, playing music. I dug up a few videos on Youtube. First, a 2008 reunion of the band Zonkaraz (which I vaguely remember playing WPI, probably some concert or another).


And more visible adding some leads to a folkie duo called "Chuck & Mud"


I ought to email Mr. Crockett and see if the 45 is of some interest to him as a bit of history that he may no longer have a copy of....

June 01, 2010

Un-Facebooking

I've decided to unlink my blog feed from my Facebook account.

I guess I feel like I'm putting myself out there a bit too much. I do not mind sharing my thoughts on a public sphere (I've been blogging since 2002) but Facebook is a little too public - writing here, and a handful of frequent readers will see it, along with those who stumble upon the blog via search engines or links, and those who consciously seek it out.

But Facebook - just too many people reading, and I've found myself filtering what I choose to write about because I am concerned about, or conscious of, the ripples that my words might cause among an increasing large circle of "friends". I've been reading Donna Farhi's "Teaching Yoga" and there is a lot in there regarding boundaries between students and teachers that is making me think a bit, and consider pulling back a bit.

Still linking to Twitter; which is (if anything) even more impersonal, but at least there, readers need to click through to get to the actual blog / post.

Apologies to those who enjoy my writing; stop by the blog once in a while and you can keep up with me.