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|Saturday, December 5th, 2009|
|Back from India
I got back from India last Monday (11/30). I had been out of the country for just under two weeks. I went to India to participate in a yoga retreat that was being held in Goa.
A couple years ago, I mentioned
that one of my favorite yoga instructors, Jodie Boone, had decided to leave Seattle and move to India. I was sad because I wasn't sure if I would ever see her again. Well, I found out that she was leading a yoga retreat over Thanksgiving week. I'd been thinking about going to India for awhile . . . So in the last week of October, I decided to go for it.
On the way out, I stopped over in Amsterdam for two nights. From Amsterdam, I flew first to Delhi, and then to Goa. Stopping in Amsterdam was good because it gave me time to recover from jet lag before traveling on, and it also allowed me to enjoy Amsterdam for a couple days.
Jodie and I were the only Americans on the retreat. Everyone else was from either the UK or Australia.
The retreat was so nice. Goa is in the tropics. By the time I got there, the monsoon season had ended; it didn't rain at all, and it was warm everyday.
Each day, we would wake up and meditate for a half-hour. Then we would drink chai and chat. After that we would practice yoga for an hour and forty-five minutes--and then eat breakfast. After breakfast, we were pretty much free to go shopping or go to the beach or do whatever. In the evening, we would practice yoga again for an hour and a half, and then eat dinner. Go to bed. Wake up. Repeat.
|Monday, December 22nd, 2008|
|Guys in Yoga and Ballet: the 80/20 Rule
I've been practicing yoga for about four years now. During that time, I've been doing some informal research on what percentage of the people who practice yoga are guys. Every once in a while I'll count the number of guys in class, and when I'm at a yoga workshop or a teacher training, I'll count the number of guys. It usually comes out to be about 80% women and 20% guys.
When I was in college, I use to study ballet. I remember that in ballet class there would always be three guys (including me) and all the other students were women. I never took a count in any of the ballet classes that I was in, but I'm pretty sure the guys didn't make up more than 20% of the class.
Recently, I was reading an article in Eastside City Arts magazine (December 2008) about Emerald Ballet Theater (EBT) which is a new ballet company that opened last year in Bellevue. During the 2007/2008 academic year, the ballet school associated with EBT, had one hundred students, of which eighteen were boys (18%).
|Friday, October 31st, 2008|
|Obama Is Not Out to Take Away Your Money . . . Sheesh!
This week, the team that I work on at Microsoft released XNA Game Studio 3.0, which is a really cool product. To celebrate, we went out for lunch at Matador, which was really good; and then saw Body of Lies, which was okay.
On the way back from the movie, the conversation turned to the upcoming election. I shared that my favorite magazine, The Economist, had endorsed Obama (hurray!). One of my co-workers then mentioned the following article on Salon,
The socialist Economist endorses Obama
which characterizes Obama as a socialist redistributionist.
Barack Obama . . . wants to "spread the wealth" accumulated by Economist subscribers and hand it over to people who presumably think that David Hume is a Fox anchor.
I think Salon says this because The Economist has a reputation for appealing to a wealthy demographic. According to NPR, almost two-thirds of The Economist's subscribers make over $100K/year.
The issue I have with Salon's statement though, is that, according to the Obama Tax Calculator, you can make up to $200K/year and still get a tax cut under the Obama Tax Plan. And that is assuming that you don't have a mortgage; if you have a mortgage the limit is higher.
So I think that Salon's statement about Obama handing over the wealth of Economist subscribers is a little bit disingenuous.
|Friday, September 19th, 2008|
I've been watching a documentary called Vietnam: A Soldier's Story
, that I got from Seattle Public Library
. In the documentary, they've been discussing the siege of Khe Sanh
, one of the major battles of the war. Khe Sanh
was a U.S. military base in the northern part of what was then South Vietnam. For reasons that are still not completely understood, North Vietnam appeared to be absolutely committed to taking over the base. In order to defend the base against the surrounding North Vietnamese Army (NVA), the U.S. military began massive air strikes on the NVA positions.
The air strikes were conducted by groups of six B-52 bombers
. The bombers would take off from Guam
, which is about 5,000 miles away from Khe Sanh. The trip would take about twelve hours. The bombers would then drop their bombs in one long continuous run. The documentary implies that this tactic is where the term "carpet bombing" came from. A single attack would completely destroy an area a half mile wide and two miles long.
To give a sense of how destructive these attacks were, I've created a map
that shows the Capitol Hill area of Seattle with a half-mile by two mile section marked. As you can see, such an attack would destroy all of Capitol Hill from just below Broadway to just above 15th Avenue and from north of Volunteer Park to south of Cherry.
I think that many Americans don't realize how frightening and destructive bombing really is.
|Saturday, September 13th, 2008|
|Madison Market No Longer Carries Coca-Cola Products
My favorite grocery store, Madison Market Co-op on Capitol Hill, has decided to stop selling Coca-Cola products. At first I thought, "No big deal. Most people who shop at Madison Market probably don't drink a lot of Coke anyway." But then the announcement explained that Coca-Cola also owned the following products, which would also no longer be carried by the co-op.
- Glaceau Smartwater
- Glaceau Vitaminwater
- Honest Tea
When I saw the list, I remembered that Odwalla was owned by Coke, but I was unaware of the other products.
I think this raises a couple great points.
I often hear people say that we don't need government regulation, but that people should just "vote with their pocketbooks". The issue with this point of view is that corporations have caught on to that; Coke knows that if they marketed Odwalla juice under the Coca-Cola label, a lot of people wouldn't buy it. So they don't. They are literally banking on people not knowing that Odwalla is actually Coca-Cola.
The second point is that co-ops can provide a great service by investigating these issues on behalf of their members. I don't have the time to figure out which products are actually owned by which unscrupulous corporations, but the co-op does, and I'm the beneficiary of that.
|Thursday, July 31st, 2008|
|Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008|
|Cars and Food
I want to talk a little bit about food prices and why they have been going up over the last several months. First, let's be clear that food prices are
going up. The magazine, The Economist
lists economic indicators at the back of each weekly issue. Their indicators show that food prices have increased an average of 57% over the last year.
There are actually a number of reasons why food prices are increasing. Most people cite rising transportation costs because oil is becoming more expensive. That is certainly one of the reasons, but there is more to it.
Large-scale farming in the United States is very energy intensive. So it isn't just that it costs more to transport the food, it costs more just to grow the food.
Energy prices effect food prices in another way as well. Because gasoline prices are so high, the demand for ethanol is increasing because people who have "flex-fuel" cars are able to use ethanol as a substitute for gasoline. In the United States ethanol is derived from corn. More corn is now being converted into ethanol to fuel cars, so the supply of corn available for food is less and that drives up the price of corn.
Corn is a fundamental part of the food chain in the United States. For example, cows are fed a great deal of corn. If the corn is more expensive, then raising and feeding cattle is more expensive, which drives up dairy and beef products.
Because of the demand for corn, more farmers are planting corn instead of other grains such as wheat. Therefore, the wheat supply is lower and wheat prices go up--as well as anything that is made from wheat: bread, pasta, bagels, donuts.
Basically, it comes down to this: Food is more expensive because cars are eating our food.
|Saturday, April 5th, 2008|
|Sunday, March 9th, 2008|
|Jay Walking in Seattle . . . Not a Good Idea
Last weekend, I went up to Capitol Hill to pick up my mail. (I don't receive mail where I live.
) I parked my car way down on Summit and Roy near the Top Pot
donuts, even though the place where I receive my mail is a place called Post Options on 12th and Pike. I wasn't wanting donuts (although Top Pot *does* make awesome donuts). I was actually just stopping off at Seattle Public Library, which is nearby.
Eventually, I found myself walking along 12th Avenue on my way to Post Options. I reached the corner of 12th and Pine. On the opposite corner (across Pine) was the Capitol Hill Precinct of the Seattle Police Department. The light was red, but there wasn't any traffic, so I started walking across. Then I realized that, hello, I was walking against the light in front of the police station. I turned around and stepped back up onto the corner.
An African-American women had been standing on the corner waiting for the light to change. She was wearing a long coat. I smiled at her and said, "It's not a good idea to jay walk in front the police station." She said, "Or in front of a police officer." She opened up her coat and I saw that she had a police uniform on.
She said, "I was getting ready to take you over there to the police station and give you a $68 ticket. Crossing against the light isn't worth $68." She was perfectly pleasant about it--but I don't think she was kidding.
The light turned green. She said, "You see, that wasn't so bad, was it?" We reached the other side and she patted me on the shoulder and said, "You have a good day now."
|Thursday, February 21st, 2008|
|Serbians Attack U.S. Embassy
Approximately one hour ago, the BBC reported that Serbians had attacked the U.S. Embassy. The Serbs are upset because Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, and the United States is okay with that.
|Monday, February 11th, 2008|
I've really been enjoying a new band I discovered by accident on flickr: Nico Vega
They aren't very well known; they don't even have a wikipedia article yet. :-O
But I really like their videos. The lead singer, Aja, is really alive and expressive.
|Thursday, February 7th, 2008|
I just wanted to let everyone know that Imbolc was last Saturday, February 2nd. Imbolc is the day which is halfway between the winter solstice (December 22nd) and the spring equinox (March 20th). You may have noticed that it is getting lighter in the mornings more quickly now; that is because we are on the other side of Imbolc.
|Sunday, January 27th, 2008|
|Yoga and Monopoly
Last weekend on Saturday morning, I drove up to Bellingham to teach a yoga class for my yoga buddy Melissa
, who was in San Francisco for the Yoga Journal conference. It was the first time that I'd ever been in Bellingham.* After the class, I went out for breakfast at the Old Time Cafe
, which was outstanding.
The next day, Sunday, I went to see Mike Daisey's performance of Monopoly!
. I laughed my ass off! Monopoly!
is a monologue in which Daisey talks about various manifestations of monopoly: Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Monopoly (the game), and the conflict
between Edison and Tesla about whether the electrical standard would be DC or AC. It reminded me a little of Swimming to Cambodia
by Spalding Gray
is playing through Sunday, February 3. Highly recommended, but note that Mike swears a lot, and some people are offended
* Strictly speaking, I'd been to Bellingham once before, but for reasons that I shall not disclose, I saw nothing of the city except for the inside of a house where a party was happening.
|Wednesday, January 9th, 2008|
|Tuesday, January 1st, 2008|
|New Laws Regarding Driving While Cell Phone
The other day at work, I received some email with the following information about new laws that are taking effect this year.
- Effective January 1, 2008, anyone in Washington State who is caught reading, typing, or sending a text message while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle will be subject to a $101.00 fine.
- Effective July 2008, motorists will also be prohibited from talking on their cell phone with the use of their hands. Only calls made using hands-free devices will be permitted.
|Friday, November 23rd, 2007|
|Jodie is Going to India
At this morning's yoga class, I learned that one of my favorite instructors, Jodie Boone, is moving to India
At first, she was just going on a trip to India, but then I guess she decided to go there and stay. I asked her how long she would be there. She said that she wasn't sure, but that she had acquired a ten-year visa . . .
|Wednesday, November 21st, 2007|
I feel a little disoriented. My life has been crazy busy for the last month and now, suddenly, I'm on vacation for Thanksgiving and I don't go back to work until Monday.
I'm not sure what to do with myself.
Luckily, I have plans: yoga tonight, Thanksgiving dinner with my neighbors Brian and Jermaine tomorrow, and Halo 3 with Phillip
|Monday, October 29th, 2007|
|Amanda Palmer in Seattle
Last Thursday, I went to see Amanda Palmer at a private studio in Ballard. It was so great.
My camera stopped working during my trip to Burning Man, so I wasn't able to take any pictures myself. But I found the above picture of the performance on Flickr.
What's interesting is that I first met Amanda at a yoga teacher training last February in Hawaii. At that time, I had no idea that she was the singer for the Dresden Dolls. She was just another yoga person. :-)
Here is a picture that I got of Amanda and some of the other people at the teacher training. [Full-Size Photo]
|Monday, August 27th, 2007|
|On My Way to Burning Man . . .
I'm within a half-hour of leaving Seattle for Burning Man
. The funny thing is that it is almost 2am and I originally intended to leave at 2pm
This is the first time that I'll be driving to Burning Man from Seattle. In the past, I've always flown to Reno and rented a car to drive out to the desert. The good thing about driving is that I can take more stuff, like the crazy geodesic dome tent
that I'm using this year. But the downside of driving is that, since I don't have to catch a plane, I get to leave whenever I want . . . which has somehow morphed into leaving way later than I ever would have wanted . . .
I'll be back in Seattle on the Wednesday after Labor Day.
|Monday, August 20th, 2007|
|Ryan vs Dorkman
One of my coworkers sent around a couple of videos from YouTube. The first one is a video that a couple teenagers created of themselves dueling with lightsabers. It is called Ryan versus Dorkman
This video is quite good and fun to watch. When I first saw it, I remember feeling impressed that a couple of (pretty-young) kids were able to produce such a video.
The second video is of the same two kids. It is a few years later and they decided to release a sequel to the first video. The second video is called (unsurprisingly) Ryan versus Dorkman 2 (RVD2). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-is63goeBgc
This video is really
good. I was blown away. The music alone is remarkable in that it is original, composed specifically for the video. And some of the choreography is just brilliant. If you only view one of the videos, view this second one.
If you view both the videos, you may also want to check out the "making of" video for RVD2.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYmqRn7d-2I&NR
It is also interesting to see how the two kids have grown up between the videos. It is obviously the same two people, but in the second video, they look more like adults, e.g. one of them has grown a goatee, whereas in the first one, they really come off like a couple of kids.