June 29, 2012

Laptop vs. Tablet

Once upon a time, I could pretty much run my life off my laptop. Sure, there were some apps that I never installed, some files and resources that stayed back at the office, and some packages that jut needed the full throttle performance of my desktop box. But I could get out of town, do email, update websites, write reports - you name it.

No more. It's June 2012. The last time I used this laptop for anything significant (according to my incoming emails) was Dec 2011. And Sept 2011 before that. So maybe 3-4 times a year. Just not enough to warrant the time to install all the apps, the cost to purchase the software, the maintenance of keeping files and stuff up to date on two boxes.

My cloud is not a great option yet (I am often slinging around 1 Gig files) although it might be workable for some things.

Probably not a bad plan to get a basic FTP program up and working on this box, and install some basic graphic package and HTML editors - so I can update websites at the very least. And perhaps commit to working off of this box once in a while so it stays updated.

But more evidence of how my work life is changing.....

Kansas City Blues

Stuck out in Kansas City.

I had an engineering gig in Windsor, a tiny (~3000 population) burg in the center of Missouri. As is my norm, I slot in 1-2 days for the work, and if things are quicker, change flights and sneak home sooner. Flying Southwest with a full fare ticket, so changing is usually not an issue. So I traveled on Wednesday afternoon, got into a hotel, ready to work Thursday morning. Worked Thursday, which was quick and without complications. And, having broken free early, I, checked out of the hotel, and to the airport intent on grabbing one of the afternoon flight.

Sadly, Southwest is booked to capacity. I got denied on two standby flights (through BWI and MDW) and so, with no hotel, no rental car, and no luggage, I ended up in a Days Inn near the airport. And no real shot of getting on something earlier than my 5:00 pm booked departure, so I am here all day.

Gonna hang out at the hotel as long as I can - shower, do some yoga in the room, do some work. Then head over to the airport and wait there. A pretty useless day.

Note to self: travel sucks these days. Your decisions to stay rooted at home, pick up local clients, yoga, etc. even if it limits income, is right on target.

June 14, 2012

Live Music:

Wandering out to a new (to me) space this evening, The Outer Space, in Hamden. Usually just a bit outside of my cruising zone, but a friend wants to go and I'm happy to co-pilot. 

A triple bill tonight: Jill Sobule, Chrissy Gardner, Daphne Lee Martin.

I do not get outside my comfort zone often, musically - tonight with a new (to me) venue and three new (to me) artists, it ought to be fun!

"I Can Be...." Barbie - Yoga Teacher

So scary and horrible in a hundred different ways. So of course I bought one (available at Target only)

Barbie has some physical limitations. Her waist is not articulated, so no twists, deep backbends or forward folds. That cuts out a lot of classic poses (Triangle, for instance)

It works, however, in Camel pose, where she has no problem avoiding dumping into her lower back.

Her ankles are also not articulated, and her feet are pointed the better to wear heels. So pretty much no standing poses without some support. Sad, cause I'd love me some Warrior I or Warrior II Barbie....

However, her feet pretty much fit the definition of "active", perfect for abdominals.

And with a little support, she's an asana rock start with King Dancer. Nice and open psoas muscle!

We've had fun posing her in the poses she can do, and noticing which ones her construction prohibits (kind of informative and instructive right there)

I suspect Barbie is going to get a punkish / lesbian makeover pretty soon. Cut her hair, change her outfit to something vaguely anarchic, and give her some sharpie tatts. She's way too perky right now.

June 11, 2012

What's For Yoga This Morning?

Thinking about my beloved All Levels class this morning; as I sit here at my desk clearing out the In Box and getting ready to practice, the thought pops into my head "what's for yoga this morning?" as if yoga were a meal, and I was thinking "what am I hungry for?" Just an amusing way of thinking of yoga - as if I were standing at the door of the fridge, feeling a little peckish but not sure what I want to eat.

Although I try to change things up for my students, so often my teaching is advised by what my body needs, related to the season, the weather, etc. - and hope that this resonates with my students. So far, it seems to work.

A Real Bookstore

Got up to MA a bit early yesterday (for a family birthday dinner in Westborough) so I came across, and visited, the Tatnuck Bookseller.

Since Ray Bradbury's recent passing, I vowed to pick up a compilation of short stories; he was (arguably) the first science fiction author I read ("S is for Space" and "The Illustrated Man" courtesy of Scholastic Books, sold though my catholic school) and perhaps the first adult author as well. And though the physical books I owned have been long lost, his stories resonate through my memory, and I have come to believe that some part of my moral compass is advised by Mr. Bradbury.

So I picked up a newish compilation, A Pleasure to Burn, short stories that prefigured Farenheit 451. I also found Louise Erdrich's Tracks on the bargain rack (I've read and enjoyed a few of her books, but not a rabid reader) as well as a book of related short stores, Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes by Tamar Yellin - a complete shot in the dark (I was looking for short story compilations for summer reading). It feels nice to have a couple of physical books I can tuck into a bag for a trip, an outing, or a lazy afternoon. I'd hit the library, but my reading is so sporadic and opportunistic - I rarely finish a book in a week or two that a borrowed book would require. 

It has been so long since I went book browsing. I do not shop much (for anything); the last few "I really want to read that" books went straight to my iPad, occasionally I will place an Amazon order. Tatnuck is a lovely independent (by all appearances) bookstore with a nice cafe, selection of gifts, summer reading racks, etc.

That being said, the floorspace devoted to books was a lot smaller than perhaps once upon a time, and the selection limited (perhaps a half dozen titles by Mr. Bradbury out of his dozens of published works) - one can see the allure of the "get anything you want" juggernaut amazon, or the instant gratification of the eBook.

June 06, 2012

Comcast Makes a Comeback

I've been on the verge of killing off my cable for a while now. Between over the air digital, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and ABC / NBC / PBS Apps, I've been sorely tempted.

But this week, Comcast picked up a few points. They've recently switched from analog to digital for their basic cable - and as a result, they sent out a notice to arrange to pick up a mini-converter box, free of charge. Took me two months to actually do that (which tells you how much I watch TV on the small set in my basement office) - but I finally did.

Well, bonus channels! The old "analog" 2nd set option (no converter box) gave me pretty much the over-the air channels - the local broadcast channels, TBS, weather, CSPAN. The new "digital" 2nd set option gives me pretty much up through Channel 100 on my cable program. And added features - the Comcast remote control actually works with my old Zenith set - I never could get the Zenith Universal remote I had purchased (after a dog ate the factory remote) to so MUTE which is kind of annoying in my office.

The extra channels are actually quite handy. I had (engineer / video geekily) run the video out of my TV into a modulator, and from thence into an A/B switch (I like me a good Rube Goldberg design), so I could get some of the cable channels down in the office - when I am working late I can geek out to MSNBC or Comedy Central. Now, all that has been rendered obsolete. I could have kept it to see On Demand or Netflix downstairs - but not gonna bother.

So Comcast lives for another day.

Of course, this very week I also received 3 "Comcast New Customer" letters in the mail. You'd think they could figure out I was already a customer - and (a) save the money for the bulk mailing, as well as (b) avoid pissing me off by telling me over and over that I am overpaying for my bundle. But no.....

June 04, 2012

Who I Am Waiting For

It's been a long while since I sat in the crowd at a kirtan. Years ago, I sat in the audience at West Hartford Yoga as Shankara and Friends played and I was deeply moved. It was not long after that I found myself at Shankara's side, playing guitar and bass, in that same ensemble, where I have been ever since. And although playing kirtan has its own rewards, there is a bit of loss there too, as one needs to maintain enough identity to keep the chords flowing, follow the leader, and play together as a group.

Yesterday, the grand-daddy of kirtan chanting in the west, Krishna Das (KD), was in town, for a special workshop at Temple Beth El, sponsored by West Hartford Yoga.  I was still on the inside a buit - got there early and worked the set up and crowd control (300+ people came, KD was running a little late, and a thunderstorm blew through just as the long line of people was being let in). But once KD started the workshop, I was on my cushion, in the crowd.

It was an atypical KD event - with a bit of chanting on either end, bookending some reflection on his path, and his guru, and a lot of questions from the audience. Diehard kirtan fans, just there for the music, may have felt cheated, but for me, it was perfect. Kirtan can be draining, and for whatever reason the middle period of reflection and speaking gave me just the right amount of percolating.

So when KD started his final chants, I found myself warming, and falling into the familiar trance of sound, chanting, moving. All very lovely, anticipated and welcomed. But there was a surprise waiting for me. For some reason, all that talk, all that Q&A, primed the pump, so to speak. So when the chant was over, and KD set up his last song, I found my heart splitting wide open, and I found myself sitting in a bubbling pot of tears, laughter, smiles, and embrace that I have found within Direct Experience. Yep, Jude got herself a little bit enlightened yesterday. Wholly unexpected, wholly delighted. So if I kind of looked through you yesterday, or had that kirtan stoned glazed over experience - well, know you know.

In the midst of it all, incredible laughter. I've been cleaning my life up. The 21 day detox cleanse that I have recently completed seemed to trigger a cleaning and organizing frenzy - I have a little notebook on my coffee table that I've made lists of little chores - clean the fridge, vacuum the stairs, etc. and I have been successful at knocking them out. My home has gone from a mess of dog fur, clutter, and mild chaos to peaceful organization. I'm so far down the list that the last few items I have crossed off - replace batteries in smoke detectors, clean out the little plastic cart housing dog supplies and treats, buy a new spice rack and put the spices out of site - were almost invisible in terms of benefit, but satisfying to complete anyway.

After my first enlightenment intensive (and direct experience) I came home to my old place in Hartford, looked around and clearly saw every single spec of dust, clutter, and grime, and thought "who lives here?" I spent hours cleaning that day, the mess grated on my newly opened eyes and mind. So in retrospect, it makes sense that after a solid week or so of inexplicable cleaning and preparation, I was getting ready for something big.

And just yesterday, before the kirtan, I was joking with my friends that I had two theories about the cleaning - that someone special was going to come into my life, or that I was going to die and did not want my friends and family to find me living in squalor. In reality, both theories were true. The "someone special" is, of course, ME! As I sat in my little bubble of bliss, as KD played, tears streaming down my face, I felt the love that all this cleaning and making beautiful has made visible. And, for those who have had the joy of a direct experience, it is, indeed, a small death, as the self collapses and the wall between who I thought I was, and the rest of humanity, the rest of life, and the rest of the universe comes down around my ankles.

The Zen saying goes "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water". Everything changes, nothing changes. I'm sitting in my basement office, the one space in this house that has escaped the cleansing wrath and remains a bit of a mess. It's on the list, trust me, and I'll get to it, I am sure. My big client is back in town and the short hiatus of engineering work is over as his work starts trickling in. I'm back in front of the room for my beloved 9:15 All Levels class this morning.

But, a wholly unexpected, delightful and delicious day yesterday. Summer of 2012, I'm here, ready to play, to love, to laugh, to feel. Come and get me :)

June 02, 2012

New Britain Gets It Right - Dog Registration

Let me start off by saying that I have lived in, and owned a dog, in several of Connecticut's larger cities - Waterbury, Hartford, and now New Britain. And invariably, registering my dogs has been a hassle. They only register the dogs during one month a year (typically June) and it often requires a trip to town hall. No notice, no reminders, and if you miss the registration windows there are either penalties or late fees. So I'd say my dog registration percentage was about 50% over the course of the last two decades, and never without a trip downtown.

But here in New Britain, they make it easy. You can go to the website to get the dog license application - when I filled this out last year I got the tag / license within a few days. Everything is very clear. And yesterday, June 1, I received a postcard reminding me to register my dog before June 30 - talk about prompt. It had the rabies expiration date (handy), little Elo's status (neutered male), as well as a form in case the dog has moved on, or changed status. Took me two minutes to write a check, enclose a SASE, and put it back in the mail. Done.

Nice to see government working efficiently and well. I do not feel bad at all about the $8 it costs to register the little guy.