Monday, September 29, 2014

"Grinning like a cat eating shit" Or is it "a shit-eating cat"? My struggle with basic English composition--despite my college degree

My English sucks! What's worse is I graduated with a BA in Journalism and a minor in History--two subjects that require a student to write many essays and news pieces. I don't know why I didn't get kicked out of college. Perhaps it was because I (my parents, actually) kept paying for tuition.

Early indicators of just how bad my English is was when my friend Rick, who was the Entertainment Editor of the American River College Beaver (thankfully renamed The Current some years after I left) encouraged me to write a letter to the editor about a concert review which I vehemently disagreed. When I wrote the piece I used the "word" "worthwild." Thankfully, Rick changed it to the correct "worthwhile." That wasn't a typo--I actually thought that was the word.

This post and all posts on this blog from July 1, 2014 onward have not been proofread by an outside source (i.e. an online service like which did the lion's share of editing for this blog before that date. Lame for two reason: One, this is just a stupid, self-centered blog that no one reads, and Two, well, go back to the second sentence of this post.

My English is so bad that I don't remember grammatical terminology and when I have committed such grammatical crimes, what the offense is called. Okay, that didn't make sense, right? (Part of this is because it is late, I'm waiting for a load of laundry to dry and then I'm going to bed.) 

Take, for example the title of this post; for years I used to say, "So-and-so was grinning like a cat eating shit" When Rick,again, heard me say this he laughed and said, "What? It's "grinning like a shit-eating cat." I didn't understand the difference at the time and only recently have figured out the difference. Still, my English suffers, mostly thanks to my old age: I just don't give a shit.

So, my dear mystery reader--I haven't told any of my old friends that I have resurrected this self-serving blog, so you are most likely a stranger--if you have peruse these posts and wondered what's with the horrible English, now you know. So stop grinning like a, well, you know!

Siri on the mat--sort of

Feel kind of silly pimping something that really hasn't been proven yet and is rather gimmicky, but here it is: a talking yoga mat. I wonder if it talks dirty.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Five of the Hardest Things Yoga Taught Me

This post from Yoganonymous by Kate Stone, a yoga teacher in Boston, speaks to me on many levels. No, I can't do a a Forearm Stand. In fact, the only inversion I can do at this stage in my practice is the basic Legs Up the Wall inversion. Still, the yogi writing the article lets me know that even the experts are feeling what I feel at times.

Just remember, Jocko, BREATHE!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How Wolves Change Rivers

I'm not a nature geek, but this video from is fascinating!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Back on the mat and the bike

Trying, in vain, to meditate before my Vinysana Yoga class.
Check out the boxing BOB looking at me in the background.
Now that my exercise restriction has been lifted I have returned to hatha yoga three times a week. The first two sessions felt like I hadn't been practicing in three months though it had only been about three weeks. During inversions I could actually feel pressure on my scar!

It's great to get back into the swing of things though I still do not practice as often as I would like. I have attempted mindful meditation, but my tangential brain won't allow it at this time.

I'm back on my bike, too. That return has not been as dramatic on my body as yoga has, though it it is amazing what a difference three weeks can make when it is near the Autumnal Equinox. My rides home from the club are now in total darkness and the skunks are out. Drag! 

I have forgone the bike trail on my ride home after yoga, but not on my ride in, which are just as dark. A skunk crossed the bike trail in front of me just a few days ago. I don't know if the light on my bike attracts them or just does not scare them off. One time, about a year ago, a skunk ran along side of me! It would have been funny if I wasn't so afraid of getting sprayed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The B.S. that sometimes comes with yoga

... as I was saying about the fedora

I've always loved the fedora as I stated way back in May of 2006, but was afraid wearing one would either make me look old (which I am) or like I was covering up my baldness (which I also am). Now, there's a more practical reason: ever since my skin cancer the wide-brimmed hat has become a necessity. So here I am. Call me an old fart with old fashion head gear or an old far trying to be fashion-forward. Actually, it's a cancer screen. Sexy, eh?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Beginners Guide to the Chakras | Yoga Asana Columns | Yoga Journal

A couple of different breathing exercises or Pranayamas: Kapalabhati (Skull Shining) and
Anuloma Viloma (Alternate Nostril)

A Beginners Guide to the Chakras | Yoga Asana Columns | Yoga Journal

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Astrological Bangle: My Quest for Magic Bling

I am currently reading Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. I was encouraged to read it after seeing the movie trailer to "Awake: the Life of Yogananda." While I am not completely enthralled by the book as so many millions have been since it was originally publish in 1952, I am fascinated and jealous by Yogananda's faith. Also, the book reveals many miracles that are not common during the modern age and even more during this post-modern one, so my skepticism always kicks in whenever Yogananda's master, Sri Yukteswar, performs miracles either by healing someone, prophesying that something specific will happen, or summonsing clouds on a clear-blue sky.

My faith is weak.

One thing that jumped out at me was the astrological bangle that Sri Yukteswar told him to wear. Like anything I hear that makes me wonder, "Hey, can I get one of those?" I looked up what the do-dad is and immediately wanted one. I was taken by how beautiful and elegant the item is: three metals (gold, silver, and copper) twisted together and worn usually around the wrist. The gold represents the Sun and is thought to give a positive charge; the silver element represents the Moon as gives off a negative charge. The copper is a balancing charge:

The Universe receives different types of charges each and every moment - depending to the earth´s rotation and planetary positions. According to that, there are days when particularly good charges reach the earth--these days we may call "holy days." On such days the metals gold, silver and copper will get charged.
If we twist them in a certain manner during a particular time of the year, that whole unit will get some good charges. This process is also described in an ancient book called "Sidda Nagarjuna Tantra." - Source: Wellness-Shop

This explains why these are especially made for each individual. Too, because gold and silver are precious metals, their value fluctuates. The first time I looked up how much an astrological bangle would cost I could not get a price--I could not even get an estimate. Instead, what I got was an international number and specific times to make the call. But I read on a message board that someone said his bangle cost him $1250. Another said some years ago he bought one for $350. This is crazy.

Reputable sites don't mess around with trying to sell you one on a cheap bangle. This thing should not be treated like a piece of jewelry for the vain (though I must admit it is very attractive). The bangle must be manufactured at a particular time of the year and with certain preparations to have the desired effect. So, besides the cost you might have to wait nearly a year, if you ordered yours at what the manufacturers deemed the wrong time for you.

Long before I ever heard of an astrological bangle, there was a copper bracelet that my parents handed down from my paternal grandfather--the only grandparent that I was close to. I nearly wept when my mother clipped it on my wrist one Christmas evening just as my wife and I were about to leave. I wore it until my wrist literally turned green. After that I followed a local jeweler's instructions and applied clear nail polish. That worked! I wore it night and day until I noticed it missing from my wrist. I felt sick--it survived all these years and I lost it only a few weeks after receiving it. When I finally tracked it down at my work's Lost and Found box I vowed to not wear it until I get a new clasp for it. That was nearly a year ago though I still want to wear it. Sometimes I wonder if family heirlooms are the true magical trinkets. The irony to that is while I look at the bracelet as something special and nearly-magical, my grandfather wore it because he was taken in by the quackery that copper wards off arthritis. Still, I will wear it again when I can mitigate the clasp problem--quackery or not. 

As for the astrological bangle I am emotionally looking towards the bangle the same way my grandfather bought into the copper > arthritis racket. There are intelligent ways to approach faith just as there is the prevention of arthritis, but that doesn't make me want to buy the bangle any less. This goes back to my old problem of wanting to buy myself into something that will complete me. (See My All-Too Mortal Game posted August 2, 2007 for another example of my throwing money around, hoping nirvana will occur.

I need to believe first, then go in for the magic bling.

Awake: The Life of Yogananda

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yoga Jellies

Update October 11, 2014: I broke down and bought a pair of Yoga Jellies and used them for the first time last night. They work, but considering how graceless I am at yoga the moving of these appliances during a session is a bit annoying. Still, my knees seem to like them.

Yoga is such a simple practice that you really only need a mat. Other tools you use like blankets, straps, and blocks you can improvise if you don't want to spend the coin. Still, the sporting goods industry is always looking for things that you "must have." 

Ironic considering the yoga lifestyle is all about living modestly whether it's getting by with less possessions, eating wisely, etc. On the other hand, if you suffer from Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or if you are heavy and have bony knees (guilty on the last two counts) this product might be worth the investment.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Goodbye Cancer. Hello Beautiful!

The cancer is gone. On Thursday September 4 the surgeon cut it out leaving an oval hole in my cheek. They placed a temporary bandage over the hole and showed me to an interior waiting room. There I attempted to read my yoga book, but couldn't help listening to all the war stories. 

My cheek sans the cancer and with
some Sharpie marks for additional cutting.
Four other patients there--all with skin cancer made me feel I not only was not alone, but was quite lucky. The was the one woman who lost most of an ear and was hear for a procedure on her neck. There was the woman with cling wrap on her face similar to what was on my arms some years ago. My guess is she had the same solution on her face that I had on my arms, as if being marinated. If that was true it was the prep for Photodynamic Therapy, where she would later spend time under an array of lights. It didn't work for me unfortunately. Hopefully, it worked for her.

The star of the show was a man in his sixties with his wife. Throughout my hour waiting for the doctor to check the margins of the cancer they cut out of me I listened to this poor man with a champion's spirit. He had part of his eyelid removed, one eye brow missing, skin from his arms, one of his leg, and a nine-inch strip of skin taking from his back. I really did try to read so I don't know if some of these parts removed where to graphed in the affected places. When the nurse came for him he said in a joking manner, "the doc wants another pound of flesh, eh?" Wow! If I could only have that attitude.

Pressure dressing
When I got back on the operating table (actually a chair similar to ones used by dental hygienists) they cut more flesh above and below the oval divot so the wound would not "pucker." Then they sewed me up. Before the whole procedure I agreed to a "scar study." The doctor used two different methods of sewing me up--the top half differing from the bottom. The idea was to prove a theory that a single stitch will work just as well as a double would. I asked why should I do it. His answer, "For science." Good enough for me. Besides, I'm not the most attractive man on the planet. Who cares if the scar ended up looking weird.

They finished me off with a pressure dressing that I kept on for twenty four hours. I also had to sleep elevated. The first thing I did when I left the clinic was order a House sandwich from Roxie Deli across the street. It was a challenge stuffing that huge sandwich through my pie hole with that pressure dressing partly in the way, but I managed! 

This is what I will look
like for over a week!
That dressing was finally replaced with a conventional bandage, which was far easier to manage. I need to wear this type of bandage for nine additional days, but here is the double drag, if you don't mind me borrowing an old Prince adage: no bicycling or yoga for ten days! This is maddening. I first figured I would be able to manage my weight during that time by cutting way down on my food intake, but three days into this trial and I am failing miserably.

I may just toss the idea of maintaining my weight and do a tuck and roll off the wagon. I can start over after September 15. In the meantime, stay positive!