I had to double check, ‘cause it’s hard to believe, but today is the one year anniversary of this blog. Which means we’ve been in California for a year and a half. Wow. We still have those little moving stickers on half our stuff.

So I’m still having Doubts about the yoga. I didn’t get a chance to ask the instructor what was up with the bouncing; she was surrounded by a gaggle after class and I wanted to go home. The instructor seems like a wonderful person, don’t get me wrong, but I have items of concern.

  1. Everyone talks. A lot. The first forty five minutes of the class is like a church social. The instructor spent ten minutes in a monologue about how there was a mouse in her fridge and her cat refused to chase it (all the while in the Butterfly position bouncing her knees up and down while pressing down on them.)
  2. The instructor thinks your solar plexus is three inches below your navel, which is wrong both according to Western and Eastern terminology.*
  3. The instructor apparently has four buttocks. At least, she keeps saying things like “Put your right hand under your right buttocks.”**
  4. The instructor described at length a salad a student had brought her, saying how delicious the aloe was and how aloe is so good for you, and it’s no wonder aloe tastes so good seeing as how good it is for healing and burns, ignoring the student intermittently saying “no, um, no, it was nopales...”***
  5. The instructor is also an aromatherapy person, and when we were all in corpse pose at the end of class, relaxing and meditating, she snuck up and squirted us with an incredibly strong-smelling spray. I don’t think she’ll do this to me again, as she noticed it provoked a prolonged coughing fit (she apologized afterwards). I think I’m still tasting it in the back of my throat.

So I dunno. The class fits well into my schedule, and it’s geographically very convenient. The instructor is also a very nice person, very friendly, energetic, and bendy. And it’s not like I can do all of the poses, so obviously I have a lot to learn.

It’s just that the poses are strenuous enough that I think I could hurt myself if I didn’t understand what I was doing. And I don’t, really, so I’m applying what I learned in T’ai Chi and dance for lack of any other guidance. While I like the instructor, I’m not sure I trust her the way I want to, i.e. like I did my T’ai Chi and dance instructors (hi, Jen!)

There’s another studio a bit farther away and more expensive, that seems to focus more on the physiological side of things and less on the “you are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars” side of things. Maybe this is more what I want at this stage.

* And it didn’t help that I kept thinking about locating my ass chakra. Damn your eyes, cenobyte!

** OK, this just made me giggle more than anything.

*** Aloe not only tastes incredibly vile, certain varieties are actually poisonous if taken internally. I admit to a certain sadistic hope that someone will come in next week with tears in their eyes saying “but you said it was delicious!”

Well, I’ve done one each of the yoga and dance classes, so no need for the puppy-eyes so far. I’ve never taken a yoga class before, so I have nothing with which to compare this. The instructor seems very California new-agey, and there’s a lot of other stuff available at the studio (aromatherapy, homeopathy) that I think is complete bunk, but I’m not sure how avoidable that is once one decides to take yoga. I want a martial-arts style yoga class, if that makes sense.* There was only one thing that made me go hmmm… the instructor bounces a lot on the stretches (and encourages us to also do so). Now, my experience with jockness is really, really minimal, so I could have just missed a memo, but I thought you were never supposed to bounce when you stretch?

The dance class was awesometastic! I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was doing it (it’s about the one thing that I don’t think I’m really very good at but which I like doing anyway. Most times, my ego and/or competitiveness keeps me from enjoying things if I don’t think I’m at least better than average**). Though this was the “beginner” class, I’m really glad I have experience because I think I’d have been a bit overwhelmed as a beginner. The classes are supposedly designed in a rotating drop-in-any-time way, but I think in practice they’ve become more sequential. Or maybe the instructor, knowing that I wasn’t a complete newbie, didn’t simple things up. My ribcage still aches a bit; the muscles used in chest elevations apparently aren’t used for anything else, so mine have been atrophying for over a year.

The doctor’s appointment isn’t until August (so much for private health care meaning improved service!) so I’ll have to wait until then to have my triglycerides, lipids, and aphids checked. I can predict what she’ll say, though; lose about 10 pounds, do aerobic exercise for an hour a day, eat less bad cholesterol and more fibre, fruit and vegetables. It’s medical cold reading.

And on a completely different topic, I hear the SLARPA thing went well; I am happy for everyone and a bit wistful at not being there.

* No, I know it doesn’t. Move along.

** I know what you’re going to say. Keep moving along.

(I think I'll ride this "song lyric as blog entry title" wave all the way to the beach...)

It is stinkin' stinkin' hot. Low to mid 40s (Celsius, of course). A couple of days ago, I saw a squirrel in the neighbours' yard just lying on a deck railing, belly flat to the wood and paws and tail dangling. I know how it felt.

And of course all the sogginess from the wet spring briefly turned into humidity, and now is just gone. Plants are crispy. A highway was closed a few days ago because of a grass fire; and this is in the middle of one of the most urbanized areas I've ever lived in.

I still have no air conditioning in my car.

Some interesting links:

How to Blog - I disagree with almost all of these to some degree.
Principles of the American Cargo Cult - I agree with all of these (um, I mean I believe that most Americans believe these things at a deep level, and that these misbeliefs constantly underlie bad arguments in public debate. Not that I believe in these items as such)
Superdickery - An oldie but a goodie.

Oh, and yoga is harder than it looks.

Since we moved here, my health has been declining. Happily, I've been spared allergies (amazing, considering that something or another is in bloom constantly here) but I've been gaining weight, losing what little muscle tone I had, and feeling correspondingly sluggish and blah. My work and hobbies are all sedentary, I walk a lot less, and there's a lot of good things to eat.

So just now, I took the bull by the horns with both hands, or something, and in one swell foop I have made a doctor's appointment, signed up for a yoga class, and signed up for an ATS class.*

I am mentioning this only because when I tell people I'm going to do something, I tend to take it far more seriously than when I just say to myself "yeah, I should do that sometime." So I am shamelessly using y'all as a self-motivator, and whenever I am tempted to skip a class or eat poorly, I shall picture each and every one of you looking at me with big puppy-like eyes and saying, in chorus, "but you promised!" Hope you don't mind.**

* Not the FCBD one in the link; that's up in San Francisco and while the one class I attended with Dancin' Cicada Jen was great, it's too much of a schlep to do once a week. This is the one closest to me, and it's actually really close to me by California standards.

** In some cases, for me this will probably result in a fit of the giggles, and in the case of others will probably result in screaming "You're not the boss of me!" but in the main, I think it will work.

Food isn't boring, you say? Good, 'cause this was next in the queue of discussion.

The good food: the dinner on Friday. MMmmm. Good thing it was good, 'cause I made about twice as much as I needed.

The bad food: I try and avoid McDonalds, even before I saw Supersize Me. But, hypocritically, I still eat more fast food than I should.* So I've noticed that around here, at least, the fast food seems to be designed and marketed with the Stoner-American community firmly in mind.

There's a chain called "Jack in the Box," which at least makes the fast food to order ('cause, y'know, hot grease is so much better for you) and which has a really bewildering variety on the menu, like jalapeno poppers and hamburgers topped with fried eggs. Even though it was noon, we went to try their breakfast biscuits on Sunday because that's the only thing that can tempt me into a McDonald's, and I was eager to find alternatives.

They serve any item on their menu at any time, as it turns out. Here's excerpts from the text of their tray liners:

"... for millions of years, it was simple. Breakfast happened whatever time you were lucky enough to bag a wooly mammoth. Morning, noon or night. No one said "Sorry, sir. We stop serving mammoth at 10:30 AM... Now we're so 'advanced' you can put a DVD player in your wallet, but if you want eggs and sausage in the afternoon, people treat you like a caveman. Well, millions of years after the fact, I'm putting things right. Anything on my delicious Breakfast Menu is available DAY or NITE.** So if you want a Meaty Breakfast Burrito at 2:37 in the afternoon, you got it. Think nothing hits the spot at 1:17 in the morning like two crispy tacos and a Sausage Croissant? I'm your guy. So to Mr. Ancient-probably-Swiss-uptight-breakfast-time-inventor***, I say 'How do you like us now?' I'm tossing out the outdated rules."
People who want two crispy tacos and a Sausage Croissant at 1:17 AM are not just saying no. I also enjoy the implication that eating breakfast in the afternoon will stick it to THE MAN!

And we've just taken to calling the latest offering from KFC "the stoner bowl." I mean, just look at it.

The ugly food: OK, I got nothing. I just wanted a catchy title to this post. Let's try the Google Oracle:****

Ah. This is ugly. And it knows it.

* Which always reminds me, a bit, of that kid in the aforementioned movie who said she admired that Jered guy and wanted to lose weight like him but she just couldn't afford to eat at Subway every day. I'm soooo virtuous by choosing Wendy's over McDonald's </sarcasm>

** I found this text really pretty funny, but this gratuitous spelling of "night" always gets right up my nose. Just thought I'd vent.

*** I omitted a portion of the text that talked about the Swiss and their mania for punctuality. This is not as out-of-left-field as it might seem from the excerpt. Sorry if that makes it less funny.

**** What, you've never used Google as a fortune-teller/I-ching substitute by typing a few key words in and following the first link? OK, maybe it's just me.

My life is pretty boring right now, but I don't mind boring. Boring lasts.*

I feel like I passed some sort of adulthood milestone, though; we finally have matching plates and silverware.** Despite being married for, what, seven years now, we still had hodge-podge bachelor dinnerware. So we went to Target*** and had our consumer Bar Mitzvah and today, we are a man.

We're test driving the stuff tonight with a small dinner party. Cold vegetable soup, chicken with shallots and garlic, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a chocolate strawberry tart. Have I mentioned how much I love Alton Brown, the creator of the chicken recipie? Well, he is my hero. The tart recipie is from the Silver Palate cookbook, which is way more foodie-elaborate than I normally do, but sometimes I like to fuss with a dessert. And it's strawberry season; 500g for $1.50.

My God, your collective eyes must be crossing with boredom right now. Sorry. I don't even have any interesting links.

Oh, OK, here's a pretty funny story from work. One of the senior people here is a very dignified middle-aged East Indian gentleman. I'll call him V. A while ago, he was touring a chemical plant belonging to a prospective client. The tour guide was nattering on, and V's attention started to wander. He was standing beside one of those emergency eye-wash stations, one of those waist-high things with the two angled nozzles that spray water up into your eyes if you get bad stuff in them, and he started to wonder if the two streams actually met. Being a curious sort, he pressed the activating pedal, intending to just turn it on for a second to see what happened. "I just cannot keep my hands to myself," he says, recounting this story. The streams did in fact meet, so he went to turn it off.

The trouble is, those things don't turn off; they're designed to thoroughly wash a panicking person, so they just empty their reservoir. V realized this just as he also noticed that his shoes were getting wet. Turns out these things are also designed to just empty onto the floor, since you don't want the nasty rinsed-off stuff getting into the sewers. So V had to ask the tour guide to stop the tour so that the mini-flood could be mopped up and all the incident reports filled out.

Well, I thought it was funny, anyway. And we did get the contract.

* An approximate quote from one of my favourite books ever, Good Omens: "The boredom you got in Heaven was almost as bad as the excitement you got in Hell."

** Like, not matching between categories (stainless steel plates?) but matching to each other. Duh.

*** Pronounced "Tarzhay" for that extra touch of class. It's like Zeller's.

So I fail to meet even the mediocre standard of posting weekly. Will I try to mend my slothful ways in the future? Meh.

Last weekend was a long weekend (Memorial Day; roughly equivalent to the Canadian Rememberance Day but far, far less observed. At least 'round here.) I spent it pretty much glaze-eyed in front of the TV, either rocking out or making myself ill.

A while ago, I read a Web discussion about that old standby: the effects of video games. I think it started with whether violent games make you violent, but people started giving examples of how intense sessions with other types of games affected them.* The old "Tetris-eyes" example was given where you start thinking of how things like skylines or building windows could fit into each other. Someone even talked about playing a lot of Othello/Reversi with his brother (the board game, not the electronic version), then lying on a couch with a pillow at his head and thinking, in all seriousness, that if someone put a pillow at his feet he would turn into a pillow.

I started thinking of this when I actually accelerated (slightly! And only for a moment!) towards a neighbourhood cat on our street after a day of playing Katamari Damacy. I feel shame.**

So while the debate goes on, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. It sure seems inconsistant to say, for example, that simulators are an effective method of training you to react in certain ways, but games aren't. Even outside of the virtual, pyschologists and teachers use role-playing as a therapy/educational tool because they think it has an effect. So RPGs and LARPs don't?

I guess it's like the Buddhists saying that anything done mindfully can be a meditation. Use the power for good, fellow geeks! :)

And now for some things that are completely different.

An oldie but a goodie. I guess I'm a "Town Crier"
Sort of a corollary to the above
Really cool photographs
Interesting environmental points

* Note that I didn't say "impacted them," Ferlak!

** In my defence, this is an annoying cat that kills birds, including a pair of mourning dove babies that I'd been watching, and leaves them in my backyard. Katamari just gave me a slightly different framework for my hostile feelings towards it.


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