The color purple and other femmy things

cusion

via Daily Prompt: Purple

Recently, I received a cushion from one of my female yoga teachers. A purple cushion. Let it be known, with my red, pink, salmon, and other bright-colored oxford shirtsleeves, I am pretty secure in my sexuality. Still, the color of this cushion is emblematic of American yogic culture–overwhelmingly feminine. But hey, aside from it being a little small for my wide ride it suits me fine. Besides, I’m using it in a class that is almost completely comprised of women.

And that’s the thing about yoga and the male–and especially the older male: in American, he is a minority. When I started this thing a couple of years ago the male to female ratio didn’t matter to me: I was in it purely for my health–like taking a pill. Then one fateful Sunday afternoon the usual teacher didn’t make it and the sub introduced me to what yoga could be for me. Yoga changed for me right there. Since that time it has been an awkward, sometimes frustrating, but rewarding journey.

Mind you I don’t have a problem with two of my four teachers being female. In fact, one of them has on more than one occasion said that yoga magazines and online sites do a great disservice to the male yoga practitioner. Unless you like all the feminine hygiene ads, female models, postures that emphasize benefits to the female body, and articles titled “Any man who wanted to be with me wouldn’t be conflicted” and “Five Ways to Make a Man Feel Really Loved,” the male yoga reader has to wade through a lot of tall grass to get to the practices and other pieces that apply to him.

So, I sit on my purple cushion every Tuesday afternoon, surrounded by women. Sometimes I envision what would American yoga be like if it appealed to men like Crossfit does, or–Hey, wait a minute. Would if us guys all wore kelts!

 

The Daily Post and writer’s block

Writers Block

Is it the words The Daily Post is generating or am I having a case of writer’s block?  Just when I relaunched this blog I find myself without much to say. True, I usually wax on about myself like I was the most interesting person in the blogosphere but, my new leaf of writing about ANYTHING but myself has failed. (See what I mean!)

When I was an aspiring, but not an inspired writer my friend and muse, Wolfgang, used to tell me, “Read a word a day and write a word a day.” Wolfgang obviously was lower the bar for me. Years later I would go through the journals I wrote in from the 1980s and realize they were filled with daily entries like “Word” and “I can’t think of anything to write.” (At least I kept up with the daily entries.)

When I can actually read my cryptic scrawl, many of the longer entries are embarrassingly dull. These days I think of that “… write a word a day” charge from my muse every time I find myself staring at the Daily Post word. This seemed like a great idea back in February when I stumbled upon ToadMama‘s Brave Bold Blogger Challenge. I finished the challenge only to find out my registration was either lost or rejected–I was submitting entries that were outside the challenge. Nevermind that. It was a good exercise. So this Daily Post business seemed like a continuation of this idea.

I am impressed with many of the writers at WordPress. My skills are not up to the level of the writers I follow and that’s okay. It’s not a competition. What I envy is how frequently many of these writers post work.

Anyway, I rebooted this blogging stuff to express myself–just like I did way back when I was posting on Blogger. Hopefully, future posts from this blogger will be more interesting.

As for today’s word: I have absolutely nothing to say about “Symbiosis.”

Me and minimalism: then and now

via Daily Prompt: Minimal

Minimal Music
In 1983 I was introduced through a record review by Robert Christgau’s in The Village Voice to the music of Philip Glass. It was at this time–the height of my very short but frenzied record-collectinglassg phase of my life. My first album of by Glass was The Photographer followed quickly by the challenging opera Einstein on the Beach, and later the brilliant soundtrack to the equally brilliant film Koyaanisqatsi. These recordings were the first classical works I ever had though at the time I really didn’t consider them classical.

Glass is a minimalist or a composer of minimal music. I was fascinated with minimal music. When I purged my record collection of all popular records the Glass albums remained and I added other minimalist works by other composers like Terry Riley , Henryk Gorecki, and Steve Reich.

Minimal music was simple and very complex at the same time. It was best described to me once as watching a flower bloom. The process is slow, but beautiful and the beginning of the piece is very different from the end or, in some cases a work will start simple, slowly build in complexity, and then begin to breakdown until it is simple once more. One of the best examples of minimal music is Steve Reich’s “Drumming.” Watching it being performed gives the listener a good idea how the process works. I’m not a big fan of the piece, but I like how the viewer can literally see the music build and break down.

I don’t collect music anymore. All my rock, folk, soul, and everything else that falls under popular music are gone. The only songs and albums that remain are whatever is on my iTunes account and the classical and jazz recordings that I never listen to anymore. Now I listen to podcasts. I used to have nearly 500 LP’s now I have about 100 CD’s that are buried under about an inch of dust. You could say I now have a minimalist record collection of a different sort.

Minimal Living
In 2014 I read the book Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus known as The Minimalists. This particular type of minimalism has to do with stripping one’s life down to the essentials. These two guys also made an interesting film called simply, of course, Minimalism. I am also interested in reading Enough by Adam Hamilton and More of Less by Joshua Becker, but I don’t really know what else can be said about thibox package delivery cardboard carton stacks subject.

This minimal living thing is not new–the Spartans had this stuff down, so much so that the term “Spartan” or living “Spartanesque” means a simple live. Interesting, considering how these guys were perhaps the biggest bad asses in human history. Just ask Xerxes.

Minimal living is harder to achieve when you are married, but that is also a cop-out for me. I find myself buying shit I really don’t need, but just seems cool. Still, it’s incremental. On January 30th of this year our current train-wreck of a U.S. President signed an executive order requiring that for every one new regulation, two must be revoked. While this executive order will most likely result in disasters, the principle, when applied to daily living, is pretty wise.

I use this idea when it comes to clothing. Generally, I don’t buy clothes unless I absolutely have to, but when I do or I get Christmas and birthday gifts of clothes I pull twice as much stuff from my closet and give it to a clothes closet. Electronic gadgets are a little tougher.

Perhaps the hardest things to shed until recently are books. Now, that my wife is (independently of any prodding by me) on board with book thinning we are beginning to incrementally empty our shelves except for reference book and anything we haven’t read. Like my music, I thought I would never do this. It is liberating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labeling

via Daily Prompt: Label

Label

I’m a Democratic Socialist
I’m a scooterist
I’m a Christian

My two sons–especially my oldest–doesn’t like labels. Wise men. Labels come with assumptions; labels, over-simplify what they are describing. And if a label is placed on a human being that is really problematic considering how complex we are with our own individual contradictions.

I have always liked labeling myself. It gives me an identity and considering how sometimes I am crippled with a lack of self-confidence, a label can give me the boost that I would otherwise lack. A label can make me a part of something bigger than myself.

The contradiction is I don’t really play well with others that would bare my label. I go to local DSA chapter meetings from time to time and feel like I do not belong. I’ve attempted to join scooter clubs and have either been politely denied or end up the wallflower of the rally and ultimately bail out of the group before being sponsored. My faith is a little different from my church’s and my wife’s.

Perhaps Loner is the best label that describes me, but that’s not one I particularly like just one I am most comfortable with.

Staying out of the path of the tornado

via Daily Prompt: Luck

“Luck: a force that brings good fortune or adversity.” – Merriam-Webster

“May The Force be with you.” – various Jedi knights

I like the idea of luck being a force–like it has power and that it even can move. Like Andy Dufresne says in Shawshank Redemption: “Bad luck, I guess. It floats around. It’s got to land on somebody. It was my turn, that’s all. I was in the path of the tornado. I just didn’t expect the storm would last as long as it has.”

While I could bitch about how things have never come easy to me I’ll spare my readers the laundry list of gripes and just let them know that it took me four (or was it five?) times to pass my driver’s test, multiple times to pass the written motorcycle test, and decades later, when I wanted to ride a scooter around and needed a new Class M, I failed the final riding exam crashing twice, cracking my ribs.

With that said I can’t say how many times on my bicycle and my scooter I have had close calls, but had the good luck to be a little to the right or left of a pot hole I didn’t see, or ten seconds ahead or behind a car the didn’t see me. And that’s just talking about my good luck while commuting. I think it is fair to say that with all the little things I have to complain about The Force is definitely with me.

 

The latest (but not last) face lift

Bad day

Notice my blog changed, again. I’ve been working in an IT environment for about twenty years and have had blogs for nearly half that time and I am still an idiot when it comes to most things computer. I’ve also been a Christian for some years and have began to embrace some yogic philosophies as well and I still look at other people’s blogs and wish mine looked like theirs. Anyway, enjoy the latest face lift, but don’t get use to it.

Victoria, Cindi, and my ongoing quest for the next uber barber

Classic Barber PoleOkay, why does a balding guy get so worked up about having a great barber? It’s a valid question. I used to go to a hair stylist. You know the kind with the sinks and the line of hair products. I paid good money for someone to wash and cut my hair. The price kept going up (inflation) while the job kept getting easier (less hair to manage).

At one point I just said the hell with paying way too much for way too little work and I started looking for a barber. I had done this before. There were the few times I got my haircut by student barbers at a now-defunct barber college down the street from where I work. That was a bit of a zoo and the last straw came when the black student barber who practiced on my hair gave me a fade.

I tried the sensible thing for a balding man and tried the local Supercuts (or was it a Great Clips?), but the barber (I guess they fancy themselves as stylists), ran over my wart. It didn’t matter if I walked into the shop with my finger pressing on it like I was going to say, “Okay, all the TRESemme in the bag or the fat guy gets it.” No, somehow, she managed to run over it with her electric clippers.  How can something so small as an ugly wart bleed like that? I’m surprised the manager didn’t call the EMTs.

The second and last time at the barber-in-a-box joint I got a razor burn. She didn’t appear to notice. Anyway, I wasn’t keen on these kinds of places in that I try not to give corporations my money though it is an uphill battle. It was a fluke that I found Victoria.

There was a barber across the street from where I work. He worked in an old-timey barber shirt–white with the tunic-style collar and his name on it, Jose. Jose was a nice guy and his shop had a lot of historic Sacramento baseball images like the Solons and Joe Marty drawings and photographs–nice touches. It was when I came back for another trim that things changed forever for me.

Jose had a customer so I took the empty seat next to him. The barber’s name was Victoria. She was a large, sweet lady with fair skin and ginger hair and she did a good job. Then, when all the barber and stylists would have ended it she started on my shoulders.

I was initially shocked. I nervously looked over at Jose, but he was starting on a new customer and might have been a little pissed that I hadn’t called him for an appointment. I looked in the large mirror in front of me thinking she might be winking at me, but no she was in deep concentration. It was at this time I realized I had hit the jackpot. Victoria was giving me a serious massage–kind of like the kind I got from my wife back when we were younger.

From my shoulders, she worked her way to the base of my neck, then up my neck to my scalp. The scalp massage was incredible. She finished with a kiss on the top of my head. I dismounted the chair a new and very spoiled man. She got a big tip. I returned to Victoria a few times and got the same treatment and she got the same tip.

Then one day I walked in and Victoria was gone. In her place, some kid wearing all black, with jet black-dyed hair looking like a very young Robert Smith from The Cure was behind what used to be Victoria’s chair. With obvious disappointment in my voice, I asked, “Where’s Victoria?” The kid (I’ll call him Robert) said, “She is now a licensed massage therapist.” Jose looked vindicated. “Yeah, I guess you can’t have Victoria cut your hair or whatever you call that peach fuzz, you Judas,” he looked like he was thinking behind his smile. As it turned out Robert had a band–surprise! Besides the skill with the clippers, a good barber is a very good listener. As for Robert, I didn’t get a word in edgewise–as if I wanted to. I did learn; however, that he just “laid down some tracks” with his band recently and “had some gigs lined up blah, blah, blah.” Jesus, get me out of here!

Obviously, I had to move on, but I was now spoiled–haircuts were more than just cutting hair I could get a massage, too! I began my quest for Victoria’s replacement at Hot Rod’s. A place a fellow worker told me about. He spoke of deep head massages and shaves–shaves! Why didn’t I think of that! I could use a good shave now and then. However, when I went there and even dropped my friend’s name I received a respectable haircut, but the experience was nothing spectacular–no scalp massage, and the guy told me he had an appointment so no hot-towel shave. I tried other shops, but I got nothing, but what most people would expect from a barber. Perhaps the “Victoria Experience” was once in a lifetime deal.

One day I was walking to a cup of coffee through Cathedral Square when a young woman gave me her mother’s business card. “She cuts hair the old fashioned way. She uses a straight edge, hot towels, shoulder massages, and”–“Wait, you had me at “shoulder massages” “Uh-yeaaah,” she replied, re-thinking her sales pitch in the wake of visualizing her mother rubbing this old man’s shoulders. We played tug of war with her mom’s card and I won!

It took about a year for it to happen, but her mother, Cindi, got her own barbershop and I was one of her first customers. I might have been a little too excited about getting a shave and a haircut because when I showed up Cindi’s boyfriend was there facing me the whole time. It turned out Bobby was cool and I think I spent more time over the next couple of years talking with him than with Cindi. I never got up the nerve to ask if Bobby had a job–he was at Cindi’s shop so often.

This is where the story is supposed to end: with me spoiled once again and becoming friends with my barber, too. Providence would step in, though, and in early 2016 Cindi had to move to Iowa. I believed her mother lives there and she might have had to move back there to take care of her.

Once again, I’m looking for a new barber. I’ve had a few since Cindi. All of them have been good. The last one–Rico–is a boxer and a trainer of boxers. He could be a long-term one for me. I want to know if he does shoulder massages, but when I look up at the famous poster of Cassius Clay standing over the KO’d Sonny Liston I think again.

I am aware that here in Sacramento there are barber shops that offer a lot of what I’m looking for, but each one of these shops itemize the tasks so that getting a hot towel shave, haircut, and (if listed) a scalp/shoulder massage is like eating out dim sum–oh it’s great experience, but when the bill comes you’d wished you’d settled for Panda Express.

So what’s the point of this post? Does my reader give a shit? Well, you’ve come this far with me. Unlike my wife and my sons who just want their damn hair cut, I want something more from an otherwise dull, but essential task–especially now that there is so little left to work with. Also, I like being pampered. It’s the same reason why I get a pedicure once a month. I like being waited on and I’ll pay the extra scratch if someone will do a good job at it. And if the barber and I can talk about music, politics, faith, or even boxing–something I know precious little about–it makes the experience sweeter.

Guns and boba straw-worthy milkshakes

cookies4

I visited Cookie’s Drive-In over the weekend. It’s a hamburger stand here in Sacramento known for its milkshakes and its unconventional hamburgers (e.g. ostrich and buffalo). The burger and fries I had were fine—up to Cookie’s high standards. They reminded me of what has become an urban legend here—that Bill Clinton visited this drive-in in the 1990s. Ordered his food, then came up short on cash. I don’t know if it’s true. I tried and failed to verify the story when I first came here years ago. Now, I just like the story and don’t want anyone to ruin the story for me.

cookies2
A serious straw for a serious shake!

I thought about doing another Burger Scoot review and then–taking a luscious drag from my Coffee Toffee milkshake–thought why not just enjoy the shake, Jocko! These are the kind of shakes that require boba straws: the big ones that can suck up chunks—like the boba in Thai iced tea. BAM! I just sucked up a big chunk of toffee.Sucking up this milkshake reminds me of firearms and how the two incongruous things are inexorably attached to one another in my mind.

Recently, I was invited by my childhood friend, who I haven’t seen for years, to go discharge some firearms and drink milkshakes. I wanted to see my old friend that I haven’t spoken to face to face since the late 1970’s and catch over a milkshake. The gun part I wasn’t that crazy about, but that was the thing he really wanted to do. Mike is an interesting guy though we couldn’t be more different: He is a follower of Alex Jones; I am a Democratic Socialist. He thinks Donald Trump is a “great man” who will most likely be assassinated because we don’t deserve such a great man to lead our country”; I think Trump is a proto-fascist, but also believe that the Democratic Party is loaded with Neo-liberals that refuse to address the problems of working-class people. In a nutshell: I’m with Bernie. He loves guns and (I think) does not believe in gun control; I think guns and their users should be controlled the way drivers and their vehicles are.

Mike is an interesting guy though we couldn’t be more different: He is a follower of Alex Jones; I am a Democratic Socialist. He thinks Donald Trump is a “great man” who will most likely be assassinated because “we don’t deserve such a great man to lead our country”; I think Trump is a proto-fascist, but also believe that the Democratic Party is loaded with Neo-liberals that refuse to address the problems of working-class people. In a nutshell: he’s with Trump, I’m with Bernie. He loves guns and (I think) does not believe in gun control; I think guns and their users should be controlled the way drivers and their vehicles are.

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Should say under Gun Club “No milkshakes served.”

When the day came, he picked me up and we drove to the gun range. The first thing I noticed walking inside the gun range building was there were no areas where I imagined we would have our milkshakes—just racks and racks of guns, ammo, sites, holsters, binoculars, and other things needed to start a war. The next thing I noted is that all of the employees wore sidearms. WTF! Mike brought in with him the long black case and placed it on one of the glass counters in front of an attractive young female wearing a sidearm. (Sexy!) Mike opened the case and in it were three pistols and a rifle, like he was Jason Bourne. Mike paid for both of us and I was instructed to watch a gun safety video on account I was not a member or that I didn’t have a license—I forgot. I watched the video, then we proceeded to the range. Still no milkshakes in sight.

Just a side note for those who think I’m just a socialist pussy: I have fired weapons before. Back in the mid-1970s, I fired a few rounds from a .38 caliber revolver into a felled tree when my dad, brother and I were camping with a family friend. At around the same time, for two seasons my father, brother and I hunted pheasant with Remington 12 gauge, pump-action shotguns. Besides shooting at pheasants we shot at clay pigeons. Finally, during this macho phase, I went duck hunting with a friend. Both my pheasant hunting days and the nightmare of that single duck hunting outing are fleshed out in another blog.

In the range area, we were given earmuffs. (Actually, I had to look up the name of the sound-suppressing doohickies. I was shocked something related to shuutin’ guuns would have such a powder puff name!) Mike stopped at a station along the range and opened the case. He pointed out each firearm to me: a .22 caliber rifle, a .22 caliber pistol, a 9 mm pistol, and a .45 caliber pistol.

We started with the rifle, moved to the .22 pistol, then to the 9 mm, and finally to the .45. The rifle and the 22 pistol were easy to use. So was the 9 mm. My aim was poor, but at least I hit the targets—most of the time. I don’t quite understand what is the point in firing a .45: it’s load, it has a horrendous recoil, and, ultimately, my shots were way off.

Two things bugged me while Mike was discharging his .45: why would someone create a firearm like that and why were the targets shaped like a human? The two answers are eerily harmonious. The .45 was designed to put a man down. So are the other caliber guns, but the .45 will keep the man down. The targets are shaped like a human so the operators of the firearms can aim for the head or heart center—putting your target down–for good. Fun times at the gun range!

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Mike seems to like head shots. 

Finally, we are done and in the McDonald’s drive-thru line and all I can think of is milkshakes. Mike keeps telling me he would love to do this again. (I found out later he has asked others if they would come along. I guess he hasn’t had any takers.) Mike stops with the gun date offer and goes on about The U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment. It’s at this time I notice his left thumb is actually a big toe. “Jesus,” I jump back like it’s contagious. He tells me how he lost it. It’s not uncommon for carpenters to lose digits in their line of work. I keep thinking that he shot it off, but that’s just me. I get my milkshake and begin nursing on it while Mike goes on about how great Alex Jones is. I want to tell him how nuts the Info Wars host is (noticed I didn’t link his site.).

The milkshake could be better—it could be a Coffee Toffee from Cookie’s, but it’s a mother’s teet to me among the guns and flying thumbs, and talk of “people being disappeared” and “Trump is great.” Mike’s alright, just a little too “foil hat” for my taste. Mmm, taste. I just received another toffee chunk blast. I won’t be going back to the gun range anytime soon, but Cookie’s, now that’s a different matter.

By the way, Cookie’s Drive-in is located at 5640 H St, Sacramento, near California State University, Sacramento. The phone number is 916.457.8353. I couldn’t tell you where the gun range is.

Train in Vain

I burned most of this workweek in all-day training classes, learning a computer program I will virtually never use. But hey, it’s software licensing! It rivals accounting as the least exciting subject on the planet. Truth be told, I’m impressed with the three people in my cubicle farm that do the work.

I’m surrounded by software management analysts and from the chatter flying over my cubicle walls the subject sounds like a very complicated and labor-intensive job, and—like accounting—mercilessly tedious. I would never want to do it which begs the question why my boss insists that all of us must attend these classes. I’ve already forgotten how to do most of the tasks the program is designed to perform and it has only been one day since the third and final class.

I kept awake those days with espressos, cappuccinos, and ridiculously frequent exits where I would walk briskly through the hallways stealing from the reception area mini-size Hersey’s Mr. Goodbars, Krackels, and Special Dark Chocolate bars (and there’s nothing “special” about the latter) each time I blasted past the desk on my way to the lobby and back in the training class, a half-dozen sets of eyes trained on me wondering why I have to piss so often.

The day after the final day of training my boss announces that we all had to take the training because he wants us all cross trained. Is it too late for a change in vocation? In the last months of his life, my father asked me if I was happy in my career. I should have told him I was, but I was honest. I told him with little gusto it’s not a bad job. Maybe this is the time to start the job I always wanted. Too bad I have no frickin’ idea what that is.

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Double espressos to stay awake. Playing with my phone when I get bored, and–Oh shit, the trainer spotted me!