Saturday, December 22, 2007

Insanity, Sheer Insanity
I wrapped up a first-series class at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Tara, Rowan and I loaded up the car shortly thereafter. I mainlined a gingerbread latte from Peet's at 8 as the fam percolated out by the curb and then we dropped the hammer out of Portland, heading south on the 5.

I got pulled over at about 2:30 a.m. just outside of Redding, California. The cop clipped me at 90 in a 65, though he wrote out ticket for 85, so I managed to duck the reckless charge. I'll take the rap 'cause hey, 10 minutes earlier he'd have nailed me with the cruise-control pinned just into triple digits.

It was also by far the most pleasant experience with The Man I've ever had. I rolled the window down and the guy says, "I gunned you at 90 in a 65. Can I see your license and registration?"

Five minutes later he returned. "Here's your license. Please sign here." I signed the ticket and that was it --- none of the bullshit cop banter, or third degree, or smart-guy dickwad posturing.

I used to whip a faded blue 1990 Oldsmobile 98 that had a faux wood dash, leather seats, and power doors and windows, all of which were tres luxurious. It was the first car I ever owned made after Reagan was president --- this was only 5 years ago, mind you --- and it was like driving a big, dreamy couch.

I ran it gangster, too, and left the Michigan plates on --- with up-to-date registration, mind you --- and in sunny Encinitas it was trife enough that it was a veritable cop magnet. Every cop in the city pulled me over, ran my license, and then let me go at least once.

Maybe I looked like someone living out of the car, or maybe it was because a massive American car was horrifically out of place in a city where the latest M6 BMW is standard issue. One cop spent 15 minutes asking me where I lived, where I worked, and if I had a history of drug use. That's a lot to infer from merely owning an Oldsmobile.

I finally got one too many "Do you know why I pulled you over?"s and I absolutely hatched on the cop. "Are you fucking kidding me?" I said.

The response left him a bit flat-footed: "Uh?"

"You pulled me over," I said, "Why don't you just fucking tell me why you pulled me over!"

The cop said that my headlight was out, so I told him I was getting out of the car, which I did, and then I inspected my front end. Both headlights were functioning perfectly. The cop suggested maybe the wire was loose, and then he let me go.

I was so angry and yet so nervous that I was twitching, and I had that gross worms-in-the-stomach feeling. Fucking cops.

Of course, nowadays the guy would have just tasered me for raising my voice.

So I'm thinking I might write a letter to the Redding California Highway Patrol office telling them how positive my experience with this cop had been.

We pulled up to the Sacramento airport three hours after the experience in Redding, at maybe 4:30? We boarded the plane for San Diego at 6 and stepped out into the storied cut-glass blue sky of Southern California at 7:30 a.m.

We made it to practice at the studio by 9.

Fucking crazy, I tell you, though I'm taking none of the blame for it 'cause my crazy wife planned the itinerary. God, I love her for that kind of shit.

When he saw us at the studio, Tim's face split open in one of his patented gleamers. "Well look who's here!" he said.

The ensuing hug was worth it, worth all of it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday Travel Plans
I'm sure I've lost a ton of e-mail addresses since I've switched over computers, so I'm gonna be posting our December travel plans — we'll be Encinitas December 21–28. Bros and babes: prepare to party down.

Additionally, if any fake rappers desire to engage in rhyme battles, I will be on-hand to serve up all sucker MCs, and if any cyclists are desirous of having their legs torn from their bodies, I will be on-hand to melt off the requisite appendages on my velocipede.

Friday, December 7, 2007

December is Crap Music Month
Current faves include Phil Collins' No Jacket Required and Trance Classics Volumes 1 and 2. No Jacket Required is part of my American Psycho Megamix, which includes the music that was the subject of Patrick Bateman's rather academic reviews, and includes but is not limited to Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis and the News, Madonna, Genesis and INXS.

Also, I am agreement with Bateman in that U2 is truly shitty music and Bono is in fact the devil.

Note: the above list does not include or reflect any sense of "irony."
Portland Versus Encinitas
In case you were wondering about some of the more superficial differences.

Encinitas = "Dude!" "Gnarly!" "Bro!", real estate moguls, breast enhancements, Botox, S6-class Benzos spinning on 20s.

Portland = Subaru nation, the tyranny of trees, standard-issue beards for all men, face tattoos, multiple piercings.

Unfortunately, despite an intrinsic two-hour-daily drive time, I still gotta go with Encinitas, if only because of 360 days a year of bike riding, and because one can hang out with Tim for two hours a day. Although one would undoubtedly be paying $1,850 a month to live in a two-bedroom apartment in (shudder) Village Park, and either teaching yoga at seven or eight gyms throughout North County, or commuting 30 minutes to an office park purgatory, where, if one is lucky, one can gaze longingly at the perfectly landscaped foliage outside the office window.

More Positive Things About Encinitas
The park at Moonlight Beach.
The sense of yoga community.
Muffins from Honey's.
The Community Resource Center thrift store on Second Street --- fifty-cent paperbacks, holler!
Cut-glass blue sky every day all year.
Cresting the hill westwards on Santa Fe Drive and seeing Swami's in all its palm-tree-and-Pacific glory.

More Positive Things About Portland
People are in general really, really nice here.
It rains!
If you're into cycling, this is the place to be.
One million coffee shops plus Powell's Books equals a book-lover's paradise.
You will never, ever feel poor here.
Practicing yoga in the warm flicker of candlelight at Near East.
December 7, 1980, R.I.P.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dwelling On The Anna Maya Kosha For A Second...
I just finished an interesting book on stretching called "Relax into Stretch" by Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Soviet Special Forces instructor and kettle-bell nut. Sometimes wonder why you're more flexible after taking a few days off? Let's talk about the Reminiscence Effect.

"In fact, occasional time off will help you to improve due to the reminiscence effect.

Motor-learning experts know that a skill tends to improve after a lay-off. Multiple repetitions of a drill, a rock climbing technique, a reverse punch, a split, or a deadlift, forms what Russians call the dynamic stereotype, or a ‘how-to manual’ of this movement in the athlete’s nervous system.

You learn to perform exactly as practiced — the form, the force, the range of motion, etc. Although forming a dynamic stereotype is necessary to master a sports skill, once it is formed, it is difficult to improve on. Once you have reached a plateau, continued practice only reinforces it, which is why a powerlifter has to start all over with lighter weights once he has set a new personal best.

If you lay off stretching, your brain gets a chance to forget your limit. This is the essence of the reminiscence effect. Once your old PR [personal record] has been erased, you are ready to train for a new one!

Russian author Victor Popenko advocates another plateau-busting strategy similar to a lay-off — the stepwise progression.

It is known that, in any endeavor, it takes much less effort to maintain the achieved performance level than to reach it in the first place. Say you have been practicing splits for five sets three times a week. You have made good progress but finally hit the wall. Then cut back to the minimal amount of stretching which maintains your current level, for example, two sets once every five days.

Maintenance requirements vary from person to person. I can skip up to a month and still do a split in a seminar through shear grit. Most comrades need to practice at least once every five to seven days, lest they choose to slide back. Having stabilized your flexibility for a few weeks, once again increase your training load — and exceed your old limits!"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Zombie Yoga

As all my friends know, I absolutely hate zombies. Hate 'em. So much as a conversation about Dawn of the Dead will give me three nights' worth of filling-rattling nightmares, no joke.

Unfortunately, I love yoga. So imagine my mind-melting cognitive dissonance when I learned about Zombie Yoga.

From Boing Boing: "The invite said 'Bring a Yoga Mat - Dress Like a Zombie.' When filmmaker and Boing Boing pal Jason Wishnow set out to create a trailer for Scott Kenemore's new book The Zen of Zombie: Better Living Through the Undead (yes, people make video trailers for books!) a vision came to his brrraiiiiinns. Why not gather 100 people in a Brooklyn park, dress them as zombies, and film them all doing yoga? There's no inner peace like undead inner peace.

So today on Boing Boing tv, in honor of Halloween, we've produced a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Jason's Zombie Yoga trailer (we'll share his actual trailer tomorrow!). Oh, and -- watch out for flying guts when they do 'downward decapitated dog' or 'corpse pose.'"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Totally Random!
Hot to def: vanilla ice-cream ramen, courtesy of Kikuya, a ramen shop near Tokyo's Kitasenjyu Station. Big ups Boing Boing.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

As Per Warren Ellis:
"First someone torched the big faux-Wicker Man ahead of schedule, which reportedly led to hippies wailing 'But it’s not his time!' And now, I’ve got to say, they’re not having a good time, out there in the arseweevil-riddled sands of Black Rock City:

A Burning Man participant was found dead this morning, hanging from the inside of a two-story high tent, according to Mark Pirtle, special agent in charge for the Bureau of Land Management.

The apparent suicide would be the festival’s first in its 21 year history, Pirtle said.

And did you want a reason why Black Rock City should be perhaps nuked from orbit with all hands attending?

Pirtle said the man was hanging for two hours before anyone in the large tent thought to bring him down.

'His friends thought he was doing an art piece,' Pirtle said."

Tee hee.

Tee hee-hee-hee.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Apropos of Eddie Merckxx

This guy named Ray Dobbins went and built himself a heat-rocking mega-banger of a replica of one of the Cannibal's whips from his days with the Molteni team, which went from '71 through '76. Dude even milled and drilled the same parts that Eddie used to!

The bar-tape and brake-hood color combo is FIRE!
Apropos of an EZ Board Thread
Are we merely working muscle groups when we practice the yoga? Are we just working out?

Or is the point of the yoga to manipulate our energy bodies?

Let's go with what Pattabhi Jois has always maintained, that, (imagine an Indian man shouting): "Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is Patanjali yoga!" The guy's been doing it for 60-plus years, so we ought to give some credence to that experience.

So then, what does our friend Patanali say about yoga? He cuts to the chase in the second sutra of the very first book. For those who haven't yet had it drummed into their heads: "Yogas citta vrtti nirodha." The translation that I'll use: "Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind."

Not much there about "energy bodies" or "muscle groups." Patanali then goes on to detail the various techniques one can use to still the whirpool of the mind, and again, none mention energy bodies or muscle groups. Or asana, for that matter.

Patanali goes on to lists several obstructions, or antarayah, to yoga, and the very first one he lists is vyadi, or sickness. This is the first obstruction he lists because it is the obstruction that must be dealt with immediately and before the ones that follow, for if your body is sick, it is very difficult to address the later limbs of ashtanga.

Although the practice of the ashtanga vinyasa system addresses the entirety of Patanjali's list of antarayah (i.e. styana, samsaya, pramada, etc, etc), right off the bat it will help ameliorate vyadi, and it will do this in several ways. On a mundane or merely physical level (i.e. "working muscle groups), the practice will make one stronger and more flexible. It will help establish a physical sense of well-being from which the limbs of the yoga can grow.

On a more profound level, the discipline or tapas will begin to burn clean the indriyas, or organs of perception, helping to eliminate physical sickness by making one more attentive to how one feeds and maintains the body. To deny or ignore the purely physical aspect of the yoga is to deny the profound healing and sense of well-being that a yoga asana practice can bring.

Pattabhi Jois also used to talk frequently of the pancha koshas, the five sheaths, the outermost being the annamaya kosha, or the gross body. According to this conception, contained within that are the pranamaya kosha, and within that the manomaya kosha, the vijnanamaya kosha, and ultimately, the anandamaya kosha.

The systems of poses in the ashtanga yoga directly engages the annamaya kosha with asana, but couples the asanas with the breath to engage the pranamaya kosha as a vehicle or link between the other koshas. The koshas do not exist independently of each other, and particularly with ashtanga vinyasa, we directly employ several koshas to work with the others.

Key to this idea of the sheaths is that they all effect change on the others --- except for the anandamaya kosha, which is that which is changeless. The energy body includes and is part of the physical body, and we use the physical body to engage the energy body ... and ideally we engage both the physical body and the energy body to engage other, more profound bodies.

We don't want to reduce the yoga to mere exercise, because that strands it in the gross, physical realm. But we also don't want to strand it in the subtle or energy realm, either, because that both denies the profound physical effect of the practice and leads to the trap of thinking that working with the subtle body is the chief aim of the yoga.

So is ashtanga yoga a physical system that works muscle groups, much as an aerobics or gymnastics class? The answer is yes. Is it a system that allows us to experience and manipulate "energy," however one conceives of it? The answer is also yes. Both of these these results are only side-effects of a practice, and not the aim or the purpose. The physical body and the subtle body change over time, while the yoga seeks to reunite us with that which does not change, and that which is beyond time.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Paucity of Posts

Update: Portland!
Minding a friend's shop --- Near East Yoga --- while he and his wife are out of town.

Alfred North Whitehead
"It is the duty of the future to be dangerous."

Total Video Game Script Word Count
141,000 and change.

Trips to Vancouver

Note to Customs Officials in Vancouver, B.C.
Bugger off.

Reasons for Canadian Custom Officials' Interest and Detainment
1. The other "Jason Stein" is on the Canadian "Most Wanted" list.
2. My height, weight, body-mass index, and tattoos are strikingly similar to that of many heroin addicts.

Racist Yet Eco-conscious Vancouver Cab Driver
Reducing carbon emissions and saving the planet while hating "darkies and chinks."

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Stacy: Attack of the Japanese School-girl Zombies

Wait ... what was I just talking about? Japanese schoolgirls, mysteriously dying, then returning as undead zombies? All inexplicably named "Stacy"? Oh, yeah.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Since We're on the Tantra Tip ...
They've got Mark Whitwell's Yoga of Heart at Netflix! If you have an account, cop the DVD, 'cause Whitwell is hot fire! To swipe the blurb, he "explores the deeper tantric dimensions of hatha yoga through the male surrender to the female principle." He's a lovely man, and he has a great take on Krishnamacharya's later teachings.
Quantum Tantra
I feel like Spiros at Souljerky was up on this a while ago, but I can't recall reading about Nick Herbert's deal anywhere over there. Nick Herbert, you may recall, has published the shortest proof of Bell's Theorem to date. And the reading list is quite interesting. So...

"Q: What do quantum tantriks want?

A: We want to fuck atoms ... We are living in a time when all our knowledge is being built anew. Modern physics is fully erect science; quantum tantra is science on all fours."

Friday, June 1, 2007

Where I've Been, What I've Been Doing, Part II
Cosmodemonic Video Game Company, Inc.
75,688 words written thus far, and counting ...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Where I've Been, What I've Been Doing, Part I

April the Twenty-eighth, Two-thousand and seven.