Saturday, November 22, 2014

Leave My Kitten Alone

Animals. Animals. Animals.

It beats talking about the GOP and immigration reform, no?

Sleeping Beauty. 

710 at the stove. Potential dropage. 

the Dynamic Duo

Handsome, but not always pretty. 

My favourite thing about this: you can see the outline of her ears. 

And we'll add Buddy to the list of stars. She'll make occasional appearances here. 
She's now about 7 weeks old. Here she is relaxing on 710's lap. But I just love the shot of her pads. She is loving my mom and her new place - and my mother is loving her, though she'll faux complain about how energetic the kitten is. 

Song by: the Beatles

Friday, November 21, 2014

Believe You Me

Last night was another Believe In Cleveland yoga event - they've done the Rock Hall events, a museum event and one for the opening of the Gay Games.

Clearly, I'm always happy to attend these, it seems to me that the 'Believe ' folks might want to partner with other parties to create other events. 3-4 annual events based on doing a Balancing Half Moon seem fine, but clearly leave out multiple factions of this fair city.

And, getting into one of these yoga events is becoming increasingly difficult - to the point that I'm surprised I even bother to try.

This one, which was held at the Q (Quicken Loans Arena) was filled up in - what they say was - 35 minutes. I signed in and up at the 22 minute mark and it was already filled, so not sure where they get the additional 13 minutes. I was #3 on the waiting list to get in.

Being #3 on said list, I might have gotten in as time got closer, but when they abruptly changed the date due to a conflict at the arena (really? how did the either organization not know it was spoken for?), people dropped out like flies due to their own conflicts and I was in.

I'm getting to know more people in the yoga community, but ironically, the people with which I normally practice did not sign up, or could not get in - so I thought I'd be left to do a practice without the normal folks. As it turned out four others made it, but I only practiced near two of them.

Everyone at BiC was jazzed about doing it at the Q because of LeBron's return.

Honestly, I think I am the only one in this city that does not give a flying fuck about this man.

Yes, he will help fill seats every single night. Yes, the surrounding businesses will prosper because of the increase in attendance. Yes, he might be a changed man.

But to me, he's still the asshole who fucked around in the play-offs, refusing to take shots, refusing to score and leading the team to an early exit from championship contention. And he was being pissy because (allegedly) his mom was screwing some of his team members. {awk-ward!}

And to me, he's still the asshole who waited to make his decision and announcement of leaving (in a live hour-long proverbial middle finger to Cleveland telecast session on ESPN) after the ability to do any other trades could be taken place.

He knew he was fucking Cleveland over  - and he did it on purpose. Twice.

And now all these fucking people are on their knees kissing his size 16 Nikes.

I'm just not one of them.

Still, I laid my mat down where he goes up and down the court - and for whatever I think of the man (which is little) if he brings a certain positive focus to the town, I'm for that.

2014 has brought Cleveland the Gay Games. It brought LeBron back. It secured the GOP National Convention for 2016. The football team is actually on the upper part of the win-loss section in their division! There is a vibe to the city that comes around about once every 20 years. We're on an upswing.

Because of the GOP thingy, we'll see a plethora of renovations of buildings, infrastructure, urban renewal, etc. Whatever I don't think of the GOP (same lines as Mr. James), that focus will only help Cleveland thrive - and the bottom line is that is always a good thing.

On the super plus side: at least we're not getting a papal visit.

This was an ok event. Nothing outstanding and it was limited to less than 600 folks, as that is all one could it on the basketball court.

I was super lazy and barely took any pics (including the one right above - which is someone else's), and the ones I did were before the event. Nothing during. I figured they had photographers and a drone (yes, indoors). And they live streamed the event so people could practice at home. Allegedly, the filmed event will be posted here.

And somehow I ended up in the front row. Well, not 'somehow', but on purpose. Everyone had two or so inches on either side of their mat. I was feeling boxed in farther into the court, so at least the front gave me one side of no one near me.

The downside is, it is easier for photography and video to capture your practice. I expect to see crumby photos popping up over the next week - with me in them.  (christ - they're already there.)

There was no announcement of the next event. I'll wait and see how it goes - maybe I'll sign up, maybe not.

Song by: Allison Moorer 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Garden of Eden

They paved paradise and put up a..........well........a 'modern green space surrounded by skylights that would flood the galleries with natural light and provide “sneak peeks” of the exhibitions below.'

Such is happening to the Enid A. Haupt Garden which sits behind the Smithsonian Castle.

There is a $2 billion dollar plan to renovate the area over the next few years.

You're probably thinking - 'why does he care about that?'.

The Haupt Garden is where 710 and I got married just over four years ago.

We had our choices of places to tie the knot: the Botanical Gardens (possible), outside the Supreme Court (no!) and even the remote opportunity of saying "I do" at the Naval Observatory (but Jill Biden couldn't get us clearance on such short notice) - but outside the Smithsonian seemed to be the right place.

I have denoted the actual space (w the blue circle) in which we got hitched. I am now required to keep this pic forever as a memento of our where we got married, as it seems that the EAH Garden currently resides on top of the Freer & Slacker Galleries. I've only been in those galleries once - and that was on our wedding day because I was so nervous I had to poop.

What?  TMI?

While it's not like the location is going to be blown off the map, but the physical space will be so different that where we took our vows won't actually exist. It just seems odd to me.

Our plan was to always visit where we became betrothed, but in honesty, we haven't been back to DC since we got married. I'm not sure I've ever been away from DC for this long of a time.

Still, when we get back I'm sure a number areas of the city have changed somewhat. I'm all for progress and moving forward, but I was hoping to retain a little sense of our history. Still, I will go by to see the new set-up when it is done.

Song by:  Paula Cole

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To Cut a Long Story Short

I am totally remiss in not linking my cousin's cooking blog in my blogroll on the right of this post. Bad me.

I am also fully aware I've never made anything Laura has posted. Sometimes she is more adventuresome than my tastes and she is a way way way better cook than I can ever pretend to be. I might go as far as to say her recipes sometimes intimidate me.

Either way, both items have been corrected. She's on the blogroll - and I did one of her recipes for short ribs.

Full disclosure, her short rib recipe (one of them) is from Bobby Mark Bittman in the New York Times. I'm calling it hers, because, no matter how many times I read the NYT, I somehow never ever ever see his articles, though I get his recipes from other sources.

I get that a fourth anniversary isn't much to celebrate - though it probably is the half-way point for most marriages. But as I've said, it's our fourth as a married couple, but we're about to hit the three decade mark in two months.

And it has been crappy weather, so I made a plan to make dinner and not go out. But I didn't want the normal fare I usually cook. I wanted something that sounded and tasted a little more special. In my mind, I went to short ribs.

Not that I've ever attempted short ribs, mind you.

I've seen many a cooking show make them, most recently being America's Test Kitchen. And while I like their stuff, if seemed a little bit fussy. Laura's site pointed me in another direction - two in fact. And Robert Frost notwithstanding, I am guessing I chose the one more traveled.

First stop: the West Side Market.

I thought I'd go to a better butcher for a better cut of meat. I went for 4 large short ribs as opposed to eight small ones. It's all about size least with guys. As it turns out - unbeknownst to me - I did not get what I'm assuming were great cuts. It pays to know exactly what you're looking for. I did not.

(oh, I also picked up some cupcakes too..........because I wasn't going to bake a dessert.)

Then it was home to prepare.

While heating a tablespoon of oil in the dutch oven, I chopped a large yellow onion, three cloves of garlic and one dried chipotle chili and one pasilla chili (stem and seeds removed - and there are a lot of seeds!)

Once the oil was heated, I browned the meat on all sides. I lightly floured each piece and used salt and pepper as seasoning.

I then removed the meat from the dutch oven. Turn down the heat and let it cool a little before adding the onions, peppers and garlic. 

Let the onions soften for about 15 minutes. Then add a cup of strong coffee and a cup of red wine. With the heat on high, I reduced the liquid by about half. 

....and place the meat back in the liquid. 

Put the lid on and place in a pre-heated oven at 300F for a minimum of two hours and up to four, turning the meat over every hour or so to help absorb the liquids. 

A little coarse salt and chopped parsley on top and you're good to go. 

Kind of. 

The meat looked and smelled great. I figured for as long as it cooked it would fall off the bone and with the first attempt made, that seem to be true. 

Alas, it was not meant to be. 

While it cooked for two and one half hours, the meat itself was still sinewy. The fatty connective tissues still remained and I'm not sure any more amount of cooking would have  ever rendered away. What looked like good marbling - from a novice's point of view - was just fat laden. 

It took a lot of work to extract what meat there was from the rest of the leftover. But what meat there was, tasted great. I need to befriend a butcher when I do these things. Or at least do more research. 

Next time, I might leave some of the seeds for additional heat. The chilies gave nice flavour, but I might also consider adding one additional of the chipotle and pasilla. 

Yes, the meal did not come out as planned, but it would not stop me from trying again. This was what I might call the test-run. Or a crash test-run. 

710 really thought the ambition and effort were great. He thought, as an anniversary dinner, I went all out for at least the attempt. There was no hiding that it was not a home run. Even he couldn't pull off that whopper of a lie. But he liked that I was really enjoying the craft of making the meal. 

The short ribs were not horrid, but they weren't great. I have some take aways for my next time. And hell, maybe next time I'll make the Korean ones. They seemed more up my alley, but a little more labour intensive (i.e. a lot more ingredients) than my first time out with this dish. 

....and for the record, those cupcakes were just ok. 

I should have learned long ago, that the cupcake trade is like chasing a white whale. I keep trying and they keep failing me. It's a great business model and they keep pulling me in, but by the time I've plunked down $2.50 - $3.00 for one, I find out they are only fair at best. But by the time I figure that out, they have my money and I only have regret. 

Is it sad that I like homemade Duncan Hines cupcakes more than these things? 

Song by: Spandau Ballet

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Save Me

Let's just start off by saying we went to go see Interstellar this last weekend.


...and I'm being generous. Very generous. And I'm way more generous than a number of the reviews I've read since seeing the film.

I went for it being a Christopher Nolan movie because it certainly wasn't for the ability for Matthew McConaughey or Anne Hathaway to act.....that's for sure.

Yes, they have Oscars, but you know my follow-up to that, "who doesn't?" (that remarkable actress Halle Barry has one!)

As with many a Nolan film, he has to make the story more complicated and convoluted than it has to be. That worked with Inception, but in my mind, it worked against him here.

While trying not to give too much away - the story is set in the somewhat near future after the population of Earth and their food supply has been decimated. A new home for humans must be found.

And really, who better to helm this mission than McConaughey (besides just about anyone)? Because he's the one you want to entrust to finding us a better life form. (eye roll, please!)  Colleges are almost non-existent in this timeline and people's career options are farming and farming to try to sustain some type of food source.

Of course, there is SNASA.  SNASA can always help.

Or can they??

A previous team of astronauts went into space before looking for habitual planets - a team headed by one intelligent Dr. Mann.  ......because..........wait for it............wait for it............."Mann can save us".

GROAN.  (my choice of musical artist was not coincidental.)

Because it was filmed in IMAX and not converted to, we spent the extra $$$$ ($17 per ticket!!!) to see it in that format. In theory, it was probably worth it. But I don't know if it was the theater or the sound mixing - but it was muddied. It was hard to understand some dialogue and then with the swelling score just overwhelmed a lot of the dialogue anyways.

No offense to Nolan, but he might have looked to the Big Bang Theory to help him get some of his science jargon down and his ideas across. While that TV show makes it funny and understandable, Nolan made things needlessly cumbersome.

First off - part of the premise is that maybe - the way Relativity works - when McConaughey returns from space, he and his daughter (now 10) could  / would be the same age.

Doing some calculations in my head (because at times it was more interesting than some of the crap up on the screen) that would have placed McConaughey's character at 33 years old. I'm all for testing my level of disbelief on some things, but old Matt-boy trying to pull off 33 was a s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

In that same 23 year time frame, save for a wheelchair, Michael Caine did not look any older. Space and time is a confusing thing.

On the way to meet friends for the movie, 710 tells me the movie is over 3 hours long, to which I dropped an f-bomb.

But relax, it's only 2 hours and 50 minutes.

Again, convoluted. It could have been much shorter without the necessity of seeing Hathaway's Anime eyes always on the verge of tears, and for almost no good reason.  (I pictured Mike having convulsions on the floor - and spilling his martini popcorn - of the theater at being forced to watch her, let alone paying $17 to do so.)

I must have leaned over to 710 three times and go "she has an Oscar, you know!"   Tres tongue-in-cheek. But to be fair, I do it every time I see Nat'lie Portman in Thor.

There are folks in the movie they don't put in the trailer or the poster credits. Ohhhhhh.....surprises.

But why is is that with these "big names" (I did not say "big talents") that the only 'characters' that resonated with me the most were the robots / computers? I likened them to Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy. They seemed far more interesting and three dimensional.

We picked apart the loopholes in the stories after it was through, of course. Even the writers in the Big Bang Theory wouldn't have left some of those. Actually, the characters in that should would take scenes to dissect those loopholes themselves.

Nolan couldn't be bothered just breaking the third dimension into the fourth, he went into the fifth dimension (no Marilyn McCoo or Bill Davis Jr, sorry to say). Again, had there been better explanation, or sound, maybe it would have been clearer what he was trying to do - or had done - and why.

To his credit, for a while there, Nolan had parallel sequences in space and on current Earth that seemed appropriate and somewhat thought out - and then the Earth sequence just stopped and the other continues. They eventually picked up Earth one, but it the timing and counter-story was broken by that time. It just seemed like finally a great editing job had gone bad.

I thought the storyline had promise, but lackluster talent (or at least performances, save the little girl and her grown up version played by Jessica Chastain) and crappy script choices, like a fight scene that rivaled the two girl scouts fighting in a bar in Airplane just deteriorated any credibility the movie had left.

The overall theme is saving someone else: be it the planet, mankind, a relationship or someone's life. And you get beaten over the head with Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night".

Throwing in visuals like ones used in Inception just made me wonder if Nolan just had to throw in something more visually interesting than the vastness of space. Or if he's running on fumes.

People compare Interstellar to Gravity - and it's like comparing apples to kumquats. They both had some kind of rockets and space...........annnnnnnnnnd that's it. Except that you feel that Sandra Bullock kind of earned her Academy Award nomination for her film. If anyone gets one from this flick - the system is more broken than anyone thought.

2014 Movie Count / Goal:   9 of 12

Song by: Aimee Mann

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Music Monday

Today is our fourth wedding anniversary.

Yup, four years ago we tied the knot in Washington DC.

I kept thinking I should do something special for this music post, but I'm not sure 710 and I have "a song".

We kind of do, but nothing I'm sharing with the likes of you. It was just a song of the time and that's all that needs to be said of that.

So for fun, I went back to check out top song of our wedding week. It was Key-Dollar Sign-Ha, so there is no way in fucking hell I'll be posting that. And I never even heard of the song, so there's that too.

So I just did the #10 random song on iTunes shuffle - and you're getting Duran Duran and the title track from their album Rio.

As much as "Hungry Like the Wolf" defined Duran Duran as a video band, I always like the video for "Rio" more. The song too.

Back in 1984, while working at an internship in Manhattan, a woman who was in the same office would tell the story of her 13 year old daughter, with a Duran Duran poster on her ceiling, so she could see them as she drifted off to sleep.

Before her daughter could go to sleep, the last words she would say would be, "I love you Simon".

If she had to talk for any other reason after that statement, she would have to repeat the process of proclaiming her love for Mr. LeBon.

Regarding the anniversary, I might fill you folks in on that in a day or three. Hell, it falls on a Monday and is #4. None of that seems very exciting.

And remember, it is only #4 in marriage, but closing in on #30 total.

Enjoy Simon & the boys.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cooking with Blobby

I can't always find decent post titles for the food I make. So I'm going with a generic Cooking with Blobby one. It'll have to do.

Four ingredients.

So simple, Mike could do it. ...though sometimes he struggles with just making reservations. I've heard.

(I'm just checking to see if he still can be bothered to read this blog thing.)

But I was in the mood to make pasta that wasn't spaghetti, so I went with something super simple. In theory.

Like I said - and as you see - four ingredients. Ooops. Five. I forgot to get a pic of the onion. Sorry - Mike's out. He probably can't handle five ingredients. Hello, Papa Johns?

The amounts below are for a serving of four. Adjust as necessary.

2/3lb (or 2/3 of a box) of Penne
5-6 strips of bacon
1/3 of sliced yellow onion
10oz of whole milk ricotta (room temperature)
6 chopped basil leaves

Cook bacon in skillet until it is crisp.  Remove cooked bacon onto a plate.

This is why I said the recipe is easy in theory - I took my eye off the prize to do something else and the first batch of bacon got burned past the point of anything but becoming a bag of doggie treats (for which one doggie is very very happy).

Brown the onions in the left over bacon grease. 
Mmmmm....bacon grease and onions. Perfect. 

Cook the Penne in boiling salted water. Reserve a half cup or so of pasta water for later. 
Depending on how you like your pasta, cook until done or slightly al dente. 

Put drained pasta into a serving dish. 
Add onions and ricotta and blend together. 
Use reserved pasta water as needed if ricotta needs thinned out. 

Add chopped bacon and basil. 
Season, if needed with pepper. Check on salt levels first - as you have bacon and bacon greased onions...and cheese. 

Serve....and eat.

The dish had nice flavours. Nothing overpowering. The basil gave it a nice fresh taste.

The only problem I had was with the temperature. Even though the ricotta was room temp, it cools off the pasta quickly. When eating the food was warm-ish, but not hot. I almost wanted to stick it in the microwave for 15 seconds......but didn't. 

There is probably a way to keep it hotter, but I'm not smart enough. 

Maybe Mike knows how. He thinks he's smart. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Walking Slow

The reason most of you keep with this blog..........

 Best Petey pic of the week - if I say so myself. He's a handsome dude. 

 On one of our 'round the lake walks. It's a panoply of smells. 
A "quick" walk around the lake can take at least an hour. It's worth it. 

 Soph on my knee.  Love it when she tries to get closer to me. 

 What do you mean this was a blanket to keep you warm? Aren't they all for me???

Fido was here. Spot was here. Gigi was here. Sparky was here. Gracie was here.......

What a difference a day makes. Petey isn't fond of the cold, but he does like the snow. 
And that's good because we got about 5" of it. 

Song by: Jackson Browne

Friday, November 14, 2014

Somethin' Stupid

Chalk this one up for the Darwin Awards.

Cleveland native, turned NYC "model" got fried to a crisp - and eventually died - after train-surfing on the Metro-North.

At least last time I checked, there was no word on whether drugs or alcohol were in his system, or just an inflated sense of self, where no harm could possibly come to him.

Clearly that sense of self got a harsh reality check.

Apparently, he didn't see those 12,500 volts in that swinging power arm as an arch nemesis.

Maybe he should have.

I don't know if he was an actual model, or just 'aspiring'. You can't trust what you hear from his friends or family, because obviously they're going to play it up his career and not that he was living in a seventh-floor walk-up, one-bedroom apartment with four other guys who went dumpster diving for their eats on a daily basis.

I look at him and don't see 'model'. As Pee Wee Herman said: "I've seen better heads on boils", but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I am more surprised he actually lived for a number of hours -albeit with burns over 85% of his body - and causing enough damage to make the train lose power.

I am not surprised by the comment on his FB page. Yes, I could not resist to see if he had a page (he does, or maybe did). Certainly, there were the 'I can't believe you're gone......' entries.

....and then there was this....

No Billy. No.

It can't just happen to anyone.

Maybe if you're going to the same Mensa-lite meetings as Billy Peck, it can. But for those of us who are smart enough to know things like, what the capital of Montana (that is a U.S. state, Billy) is, then you're probably impervious to getting electrocuted while riding on top of a commuter train in Connecticut (that's another U.S. state, Billy).

As 710 pointed out - it didn't happen to James Bond or Jason Bourne.

And for my lower cultural reference, it didn't happen to two of the guys from *Nsync.

Even Joey Fatone (I prefer the American pronunciation of 'fat one') survived his day on top of a train, though he couldn't dodge the dessert cart at Hometown Buffet apparently....or the speeding BMI chart coming his way.

Maybe it's just me feeling a little sting of the reporting, but this 'kid' moved to NYC two years ago, but the news outlets must point out in most articles he's is from Cleveland or Ohio - and they do it three or four times each.

Because you know, only rubes from the mid-west do stupid shit like this.

Song by: Nancy Sinatra ft Frank Sinatra

Thursday, November 13, 2014

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 57th 12 of 12

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell and picked up from, what I can tell, any number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Chad is no longer doing this, nor is successor coordinating the linking of other 12 of 12'ers anymore. Now it's just Erik (and sometimes Jim) and myself - that I know of. 

I still continue to do this, because of all my consistent post topics, I actually like this one the most.

I will fully admit to forgetting it was the 12th until the morning was almost complete, so some of the pictures are clustered together. All you really missed was trash day and breakfast. 

What you are also missing is the blog post I drafted two days ago for today, that will now air tomorrow. 

10:25. Stylin' in my 180s.  It was like 31 degrees out. I should have had a full hat on, but je did not. 

10:45.  Walking the dog and came across this construction worker's truck and better yet, his Sasquatch sticker that says "I Believe". 

11:00 Leaves in the yard. With Tuesday night's rain, we are almost done with the ones on the trees. Now we have to get the last ones off the lawn before it snows.

12:45. Is there anything more glamourous than cleaning the dryer lint trap? 

14:30. Mail is here. Well, minus the junk stuff I threw away. 

16:15. A quick walk with Petey around the lower Shaker Lake. It's been grey, cold and gloomy all day long. 

17:00.  Someone's happy to be back in the warm house . I wish you could see how fast his tail was moving. 

18:25. Yes, putting away the laundry is a lot less glamourous than cleaning the lint trap. I don't know why, but I hate this job. This and emptying the dishwasher. 

16:27.  Sophie in the master bath. 
If the radiant heated floors are on, that is where you'll find her on the colder day. But with this pic, it's really about her tongue sticking out a bit that I love. 

18:55. Guess salad will be accompanying dinner tonight (or last night, as the case may be).

20:45. the season's first sighting of Ursa major and pant form.

21:00. I would have liked not to have the electric blanket back on the bed until December, but these nights are now in the 20s makes the cotton sheets chilly. We just warm those up then turn off the blanket as we get in bed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Standing on the Edge


I sometimes find myself forgetting how bad weatherpersons can be when they need to boost ratings. The name of the game is to scare viewers.

Every storm now has a name - no matter how small the storm. It's not just for hurricanes anymore.

'Astro' is this one's name. I guess they're now going alphabetical with winter storms like they do tropical ones?

For a week we've been hearing about the 'polar vortex' (we're starting too early with this shit) coming from the Aleutian Islands and making its way past Banff to Minnesota and possibly to the Great Lakes region.

Monday and yesterday were in the mid-to-upper 60s. In November. Petey and I had some great walks.

Until 16:00 yesterday, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Yes, it has gotten overcats (no, not a typo), but it stayed warm until the 'big front' came our way.

Yeahhhhhh......that doesn't look so menacing as a 'front'.

Hell, my leg doesn't even hurt a little. But supposebly (no, not a typo) we will plummet from 67 to 40 (which is still more normal for November) and to the upper 20s as the lows at night.

That's not optimal, but fuck, it is not a fucking polar vortex either.

Which is a good thing. The new snow blower arrived and it fits in the garage (barely), but we haven't tested it.....or even put gas in the sucker. Or the case may be.

But for all the 'lake effect snow' warnings (which for those who do not know, is basically a heavier, wetter snow due to moisture from the Great Lakes, that we receive in greater abundance until Lake Erie freezes over, usually in mid January) we've been getting since before this storm actually hit the Aleutian Islands, now we might - MIGHT - get some flurries on Thursday and Friday.

If there is any accumulation, it is expected to be less than an inch.

Hardly worth me putting out the snow stakes and gassing up the new mechanical snow-throwing beast.

Just one other reason not to watch local news.

Song by: Paul Young

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I'm Not Down

Only because David was out of town did I go to a yoga workshop by myself. The plan would have always been to go with him, but timing didn't work out.

The workshop was inversions. While that technically, in yoga terms, means your head is lower than your heart, most often it means you are upside down.

I've struggled with inversions - headstands, handstands, forearm balancing.

Most of these are a form or variation of Tadasana - just upside down.

But one can lose their sense of self when upside down. I don't know exactly how I am situated and to figure that out pretty much means losing my balance and falling on my face....or head. I needed help. I needed some kind of guidance to get me to that next level of where I wanted to be. This workshop said they'd get me there.

They lied stretched the truth.

First off - I didn't manage my expectations. I had messaged the person running the workshop who said they could get me up into my headstand and I believed her unequivocally.

Second - (again with my unrealistic expectations) I assumed there would be more individualized instruction. There wasn't. There were 30 fucking people in the class......most of them better than myself.

These folks weren't interested in headstand. They'd moved past that. They mostly wanted forearm balance or handstand.

Hell - a number of them wanted to learn to do firefly....and eventually we went to that place. And by "we", I mean "them".....not me.

I was just fucked from the start.

Thirdly - Cleveland Yoga is arguably the premiere yoga studio in town. It has the most name recognition, if nothing else. The vibe there is completely different - from instructors to students. It was my first time there and I'm 99% sure I was the only non-Cleveland Yoga student in the workshop. It all just didn't bode well for me.

Now I had achieved headstand against a wall. Amy, the instructor, doesn't believe in using walls, so we set-up in the middle of the room. I get that walls can make your posture not straight and you tend to cat or cow your back or belly by using such a prop......but on the other hand, you have to start somewhere without the fear (of falling) getting in the way.

We spent the first 30 minute (of 90) handstand. Great if that was your goal - which it wasn't. Great if that was to be achievable in your current practice - which it isn't (yet).

Of course, I have done the building blocks for handstand before. Working on my jumps and core work if I am ever to get there. Admittedly, I do not do it frequently or consistently. That, I do need to work on. And it seemed a little defeatist that Amy said it took her seven years to achieve handstand.

Well what the fuck was I coming to this workshop for then? But that's on me, not her. Again, my expectations were not aligned with potential reality.

After handstand was forearm balancing. I was just as successful in this endeavour. Once again, we practiced building blocks - which I know are important, but I felt I was getting nowhere fast, but hard to tell, as there were so many students, there was no clear direction to what one was doing right or wrong or how to improve on that individual basis. It was all very general.

A half-hour later we were onto headstand. Finally.

Of course, we learn two ways. Women usually do not have as tight of hamstrings as men, so they can float their legs up. Men, in general, walk into the pose, putting knees to chest (while upside down) then eventually extending the legs upward.

I get that this is to find your center of balance.

Getting up on my head, against the wall, is no problem for me. I just didn't want to topple over onto anyone in front of me. Most studios are crowded places, sometimes only having 3" between mats in front of you or to each side. The potential of my 6'2" frame being the beginning domino is very high if I have no sense of control.  .....and that was my real goal for this workshop.

Before I even left for yoga, I did a number of headstands at home, against the wall and not. Granted, I successfully did tripod headstands when not against the wall, which, while isn't always frowned upon by the yoga instructors, it is not their preferred method. During the workshop, we were not allowed to use the tripod method.

I found myself ending up tucking into a roll as I would flip heels over head time and again.

I left this workshop like I did when I was starting yoga - like I knew nothing and was not progressing. The difference then is I didn't pay extra for that dejection. This was $30 extra. Yay me!

I'm trying to be positive about it. Yes, I expected to come away with a new skill. No, I did not expect to only come away with building blocks to achieve those skills. So hopefully as I continue to work on that, I can recall some of the talking points during this session.  ....and I didn't fracture any vertebrae...that I know of.

And on the plus plus side - Scott taught the class before mine, so we chatted for a few minutes and he was hot (literally and figuratively) and as sweaty as I've ever seen. On the super-plus side, he didn't stick around to see me make a fool of myself.

Song by: the Clash

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Music Monday

I'm still in a Damien Rice mood / mode.

I have gotten a lot of music in 2014, but most of it has been relatively uninspired. My opinion, of course. But I'm pretty down (in a good way) with this one.

"I Don't Want to Change You" is the first release and video. It's a good song, though there are better ones on his new disk (out tomorrow). My opinion, of course.

Actually, that centerpiece song is out there as a "video", but I found it doubtful most would sit through a 10 minute tune.

As it is, this video version of "I Don't Want to Change You" is shortened by about two minutes from the album version.

The video doesn't suck either. I hope it's not green-screened, as the location shot looks just beautiful, though the water looks a tad chilly.

Still, this song is a decent representation of Rice's work.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Bump N' Grind

I don't normally do restaurant reviews, because normally what would you people care? It's not like many of you are even in the area to go (or stay away) from my notices.

GrindBurger (oh no, no website, so no hyperlink. It's only 2014!) is a new place in a Cleveburgh suburb. Open three weeks. That alone should have made us stay away - as it hasn't been open enough to work out all (or any) of the kinks.

An article in the local paper said the married owners had opened multiple restaurants on the west coast before coming back home to open one here.

Read: they failed at multiple business attempts and are now living with family members while trying to get another business up and running.

Based on this experience, if they don't change / fix things and fast, they'll be living in a shelter with another failed business to their credit. Or discredit, as the case may be.

First - the "hostess". Lord, what a mess she was. No eye contact. No greeting. No personality. No nothing. She sat a table of six while we waited to even say 'table for two'. That took over five minutes. Oh - and the place was maybe half filled.

I heard her tell the two men before us that it was a 20 minute wait. Huh? For what? Again - half filled. They left in a huff.

She told us the same delay. I asked if we could sit at a table in the bar, and that was fine, but the kitchen put the 20 minute delay in - so either way, no one would take an order for 20 minutes. We should have left then.

As we waited, the table of six got up and left. That couldn't have been good.

Then I got annoyed.

Our buzzer went off. That's fine. But here's my thing about that - the hostess had to activate that event. But when we got up there then she had to look for silverware and menus. Really?  Honey, let's have a little chat about efficiency.

As she took us to our table - one of 20 available, it was dirty. As were the ones on either side of it. And no one had been sitting there upon our arrival 25 minutes earlier. But did we go to one of those other tables (which may or may not have been clean, I suppose)? No, we stood there and waited for her to get cleaning supplies and complete the task herself.

Clearly, I was duly unimpressed. Oddly, I wasn't as grumpy about it all as you might think. Being with 710 as my company has a lot to do with that.

All that aside, it comes down to the fud. French fries were not too bad. I wouldn't bother getting the onion rings again. The batter wasn't all that.

I did think the fryer baskets were cute enough.

As for the place's name, it is because they double-grind the meat. Admittedly the burger was good. The selection of toppings (garlic cheddar cheese?) were new and interesting. They cooked my burger as ordered, which shouldn't be a big thing, but I'd say 60% of the time, any given place doesn't know what 'medium well' actually is....or doesn't care. The waitress did a decent job with the service.

I'm not sure it the food and service will ever be enough to get me back in the doors. As we witnessed, it had people leaving before they had a chance to get the semi-redemption of actual eats. And they will tell two friends - and so on and so on and so on.

If that word of mouth continues - they're doomed.

Song by: R. Kelly (ok, I own no R. Kelly or this song. But I needed some kind of title)