Autumn Slacking

Blog slacking, but no time for any other kind of slacking. Work and real life have been super busy.

Just got back from the Learning 2008 conference in Orlando. I love these learning technology conferences, and always come back with a million new ideas. This year, I am dying to design a really solid needs assessment instrument (enthralling notion, yes?). LOL! I know, it’s geeky. I attended a session on current thinking in qualitative research design and it’s got me all hyped up.

One deeeeeelightful surprise in Orlando was practice. Yes, plain old hotel room practice. It was marvelous. It was incredibly physically pleasant (very unusual after air travel), and even more surprisingly, it was effortlessly mindful and cheery. Quite honestly, 99.8% of my hotel practices have been studies in just-doing-it. But this time, they were actually exceptionally pleasing.

No idea why. But I’ll take it.

***

Practicing meant getting up at 4:30 AM in Florida, which is (and I was careful not to think about it too much) 1:30 AM Phoenix time. Ouch.

On the day I flew home, I got up at 1:30 AM (AZ time) practiced, attended the last day of conference, made my way to the airport, and got myself home. The Cop picked me up at the airport, which was lovely. Particularly since he was in uniform (I love the uniform!). Not in his squad car, though, even though I requested it (also requested he have the lights and siren going, but he nixed that). Anyhow, by the time I walked into the house, it was 8:30 PM. In other words, I’d been awake for 19 hours. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not good at staying up past my bed time. I can stay awake for 17 hours, but push me a minute past that, and I am very unhappy.

All I wanted was to fall into bed.

But then I opened the door to the house, thinking about poor Tyler, who was being transitioned to a new food and suffering a bit, according to The Cop, in terms of… um, loose outputs.

Oh my God. The stink when I opened the door to the house!

I knew whatever had happened was bad. Thank goodness Ty was confined to his crate. I walked into the bedroom, to be greated by a poo-covered (and I mean covered), excitedly wiggling puppy.

There was no option but to open the door of the crate.

Of course, he jumped all over me.

Hmmmm, I wondered for a moment. Is there any way I can just ignore all of this ’til tomorrow and just go to sleep? Uh, no.

So it was poo dog bath time, followed by more projectile pooping (in the back yard, thank goodness), and a night of disturbed sleep as the little fellow rolled around in his crate and made occasional requests to go outside again.

***

Yesterday at work, I tried to keep up with what was going on, catch up on things that’d fallen behind while I was away, and refine some of my notes from conference. All while feeling like a zombie.

Today will be more work madness.

At least Tyler is feeling better. Poor guy.

Bring on the weekend!

Things Tyler is allergic to

Blood panel results from the vet indicate Ty is allergic to:

  • poultry
  • corn
  • peanuts
  • oats
  • green peas
  • carrots
  • Apparently there are more things, but those are the ones she listed when she called and talked to The Cop. She’s sending the full report via mail.

    What was Tyler eating when he was having problems? A diet based on chicken, lots of peanut butter for treats, and lots of carrots.

    Oops.

    The good news is that he is off all of those things now, and is a happier, less itchy dog.

    ***

    For the past two shala practices, I’ve pretty much just practiced with Muscle Man. This morning, we stood in the empty room and discussed Mysore attendance. I am really curious if there are regularly practicing Ashtangis in the Phoenix metro area. From the looks of Mysore these days, there are less than 6 of us. And when you count people who practice 5-6 days a week, I’m figuring maybe 3?

    Is that really possible?

    Prop 2

    I’m not in California, but for those of you who are: Proposition 2, an initiative that will appear on California’s November 2008 ballot, requires that cows, pigs, chickens, and other farm animals “be allowed, for the majority of the day, to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around.”

    It seems like the least we can do for them.

    Learn more.

    Disappointment, evolution, nemesis

    Got to the shala this morning at 7, only to find a locked door.

    Hmmmm.

    Indication that the Mysore program will be phased out (again)? I’m hoping it’s just that Muscle Man couldn’t make it, and they had to cancel since there are no other Mysore teachers…

    ***

    Is the web evolving us?

    Ah ha! Just as I figured!

    To see how the Internet might be rewiring us, Small and colleagues monitored the brains of 24 adults as they performed a simulated Web search, and again as they read a page of text. During the Web search, those who reported using the Internet regularly in their everyday lives showed twice as much signaling in brain regions responsible for decision-making and complex reasoning, compared with those who had limited Internet exposure. The findings, to be published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, suggest that Internet use enhances the brain’s capacity to be stimulated, and that Internet reading activates more brain regions than printed words. The research adds to previous studies that have shown that the tech-savvy among us possess greater working memory (meaning they can store and retrieve more bits of information in the short term), are more adept at perceptual learning (that is, adjusting their perception of the world in response to changing information), and have better motor skills.

    ***

    I love the mesquite tree in the back yard. Since it was planted, several months ago, it has flourished beautifully under The Cop’s care.

    Well, it flourished beautifully until Tyler started gnawing at its trunk. And then he ripped off a nice strip of bark, denuding the poor tree right to its core.

    So The Cop put chicken wire around the trunk.

    Cut to this morning, when Tyler returned from the back yard with a dirty snout.

    When I went out to investigate, I discovered he’d dug a hole next to the chicken wire and managed to unearth some of the tree’s roots.

    I wonder if these two knew each other in a past life. There appears to be some unfinished business. 😉

    ***

    A picture of a quieter moment with Maxine and Ty.

    Midweek research report

    Mysore at the shala. Nice.

    Decided to go ahead with the samakonasana/hanumanasana addition to standing, since my hip flexors have been achey.

    Weird things going on in the lower back and hip flexors. Weird as in “persistent Ashtanga practice,” not weird as in injured. Must just persevere.

    Most interesting part of the practice turned out to be assisted dropbacks. Suddenly, I felt a very three-dimensional opening of the hip joints/flexors. Most visceral.

    And realized, in a flash, that I’ve been thinking of backbending as bending two-dimensionally — as if I had a string extending straight up from each knee and attaching to the bottom of my rib cage, and that all it would take was stretching that straight line into a perfect, single-plane arch.

    But DUH! The hip joints are ball and socket. There is revolution in the movement. A slight external rotation in the dropping back, and a slight internal rotation on the return.

    It was quite a dramatic thing, to feel that sensation. I love how it made me have instantaneous three-dimensional visions of my own anatomy.

    The aftermath, though, was less delightful. I suddenly felt unbelievably nauseated. It was very intense and lasted through most of the closing sequence.

    Emotion, much?

    Practice report & converting the masses

    Went to the shala this morning. You know, for some punishment. LOL! Not really. (Um, okay, kind of.)

    On Saturday, I brought a friend (let’s call her “The Amazing Extravert”) from work to led class with Muscle Man. I had a suspicion she might have Ashtanga karma. She’s been trying out different kinds of yoga (I went to an Anusara class with her), but given her personality (driven, nerdy, a tad hyperactive in the mind) I figured her for an Ashtangi.

    The Amazing Extravert (“amazing” because she manages to be an extravert and to not annoy me — in fact, she is delightful and quite endearing) was game for the whole class. Sure, she laughed and rolled her eyes at me a few times. But all in all, she seemed to have a really good time.

    All of this was helped along, of course, by the fact that The British Director was there, and The Big Guy. And Muscle Man was teaching. So there was a little group of Ashtanga regulars, and they were really friendly and good-humored.

    I brought Freeman’s primary DVD in to work this morning for her. She feels like she’d like to know more and perhaps even come to Mysore practice. I am amused and impressed by AE’s fearlessness! I also feel like a drug pusher or cult promoter.

    ***

    Mysore this morning. Nice and warm in the shala. Just three other people there. Muscle Man helped out with some nice assists in the usual places: UHP, for one. How can UHP be so incredibly solid at home, when I’m alone in the yoga room, and so shockingly shaky when there’s a teacher around?

    My left side stinks because of a torn arch from running. Yeah, yeah, it was years ago and I should ditch the excuse…

    Also got the usual supta kurmasana adjustment. I suppose I should be more worked about getting my feet crossed behind my head, but quite honestly, I figure that if I get to eka and dwi pada sirsasana one day, those’ll finally solve for getting supta kurmasana all set up on my own. Until then, I don’t mind having a teacher cross my feet behind my head. I don’t even mind just skipping it and keeping my feet on the floor. I guess I am lacking in ambition for supta k.

    I went through to baddha konasana, then switched over to intermediate and went to ustrasana. Needed to be on a con call early, so had to cobble together a hybrid practice.

    Asked Muscle Man if he thought it wise for me to keep including baddha konasana, what with the piriformis problem. He figures it’s okay, provided the injury seems to be improving (which it does, though slowly). I knocked off baddha k for a few weeks, but don’t want to ditch it entirely forever… I had to laugh when we were talking about it. I told him that baddha konasana was SO hard for me, and that when I finally could reliably put my head on the floor *ping!* — there goes the piriformis.

    “Just go easy,” he said.

    “Hard to do,” I pointed out. “All I want is to put my head on the floor.”

    Even as I said it, I had to laugh. Rough life, I have. Tragic.

    Not.

    Piri despair haiku

    Holy piriformis, Batman!

    Seriously, my piriformis was angry today. Or maybe it’s the gluteus medius? I don’t really know. I’ve been too busy to try to look things up and figure it out.

    Work has been insane since last Friday. We are rolling out a new program and there are all kinds of customer satisfaction things to think about, and then there was a programming glitch — well, not a programming glitch, really, so much as a human logic glitch. The programmers did their job just fine. The people who were trying to figure out the logic of some of our initiatives (including me) came up short on the “figure out every possible permutation” challenge.

    So starting Friday morning, and continuing on until close of business Tuesday, I was locked in a room, thinking and re-thinking three strings of logic that couldn’t, in the end, be reconciled.

    But it was fun, you know, getting the headaches.

    While all my other work, already on absurdly tight deadlines, backed up.

    ***

    I practiced valiantly each morning, though. When work is that crazy, morning practice is all about getting it done and moving on. Which is fine. In those instances, the practice is a surface upon which “real life” is anchored. During those times, practice and life aren’t integrated. Which isn’t — I suppose — optimal, but so be it.

    I have a slip of paper here that I found in the yoga room this morning. On it, a note-to-self: Sometimes practice is all about the processing and transformation of despair.

    Interestingly, we use the practice to *generate* despair, too. I mean, in the end, I imagine practice can be a despair processor for life-in-general. The funny thing, though, is that we generate all kinds of angst around the very practice itself, and then use that to refine the processor. Kinda funny.

    ***

    When you are both alive and dead,
    Thoroughly dead to yourself,
    How superb
    The smallest pleasure.

    Bunan 1602-76

    ***

    I just went out on the patio, realizing Tyler was being too quiet. Managed to sneak up on him: he was lying there with a little pile of dirt between his paws, which he’d taken from a planter and was happily eating. Nothing better than lying in the sun, eating some dirt. He looked up guiltily when he realized I was there. He is so freaking cute.

    Now he’s here on the couch, trying to get hold of one of his favorite things: a hair tie. In this case, the hair tie I’m wearing.

    ***

    Tyler is now on an elimination diet to try to pinpoint what, exactly, he is allergic to. The Cop brought him to his favorite vet in the world, which involves close to a two hour drive time (each way!). She is running blood tests, and in the meantime, an elimination diet.

    And to top it off, Tyler is eating a vegetarian elimination diet. Brown rice, pinto beans, tofu, some green veggies, apples, carrots. That’s it.

    The difference in his health is astonishing. His skin is no longer all pink and angry; he doesn’t scratch relentlessly; he sleeps better. He is so much happier.

    Last night, I gave him some flax oil, and he had an allergy attack. I looked at the kibble we were feeding him. Yup. Flax. We’ll see what else the blood tests tell us when they come back.

    The beauty part of this diet is that I am making huge pots of rice and beans. We keep all of the dog food on the middle shelf of the refrigerator. Maxine has always had a raw food diet: ground meat and bones, chopped veggies, raw eggs. Now there’s a tupperware of beans and one of rice and a container of tofu.

    The Cop was kind of horrified the other morning as I made my lunch before work. “Are you eating the dog’s food?” he asked, as I pulled tubs off the middle shelf.

    “Yeah! It’s great!” I replied. Very handy.

    ***

    And now Tyler is fast asleep beside me, lying on his back with a length of climbing rope clenched in his teeth.