Setting Controls for the Heart of the Sun


Off and on for the past few years, I’ve subjected myself to the hot box of fitness that is Bikram Yoga. After a breather, I pushed myself to a class yesterday. The truly scholarly refer to it as “your practice.” I practice Bikram, much in the way an elephant “practices” tight rope walking. Sadly the resemblances don’t end there, but thankfully, that isn’t the point.

It’s all about doing the best you can. When you are as athletically gifted as I (and when I say gifted…), that is a good thing. There are no false expectations, competitions, just a gentle guiding toward better health, actual feeling good and sometimes more.

Every class is taught like it is happening to you for the first time. This makes it good and bad, as your muscles do indeed have memories, and apparently potty mouths.

Once you set yourself past the fact that it is both 105 in the room and somebody else’s heating bill, you can start to slip into the familiar, 26 poses that well, beat you up productively.  A friend worried about the heat. I don’t think much about it as, it doesn’t take long for the desert like perspiration to start setting in.  The first foreword bend sets off a series of snap, crackles and pops that rivals the freshest breakfast cereal. A series of exercises stressing balance reminds me that I don’t have any. The stretches that follow start to make my lungs hurt as this is where first few classes have thrown me a little, but I persevere, hanging in there. All hope might not be lost as I am able to even assume the tree pose with minimal resemblance to a weeble.

The second half of the class is down on the mats and one pose does have you laying on your stomach, trying to lift everything you can off the ground. Everytime an instructor says to “imagine yourself a bird,” my thoughts tend to go penguins as like them I apparently am not made to fly.

But after 90 melting minutes, I got through it and will head back for more later this week. It’s a bit torturous, and like that commercial with Charles Barkley, I’m not there for the higher consciousness, I’m there because a beer tonight would taste really good.

And it does seem to allow that.


The Politics of Dancing

A couple of years ago, my lovely son and I were walking down Elmwood Ave, headed to a late breakfast and good spots for watching a parade. In front of the church that happened to be, well, ours, three knuckleheads were walking with placards and condemning one and all to hell, since we were the only ones on the sidewalk, one with the megaphone decided I needed reminding with a little extra ire. We kept stepping ignoring the fact that this guy was so blind to his devotion and that I think I could of gotten away with flattening him, but that probably would have been a bad lesson for my son. Our crime in his eyes, wasn’t our brunch selection but eating it in front of the gay pride parade. Setting aside the fact that the parade is one of nicer, everybody is welcome events on the Elmwood Village calendar, the religious intolerance of the megaphone toting goof is probably contradictory to whoever he actually worships.

This came to mind as the 397th Republican Debate was last night and it managed to give me a headache and I didn’t see the whole thing, as once more nothing that had anything to do with effective governing got discussed. While I admire Rick Santorum for admitting that he screwed up on No Child Left Behind, there wasn’t much there there. Mitt Romney’s mormonism has been fair game. Senator Santorum‘s faith has been in some news pieces and all four republican candidates have taken to evaluating the President’s faith, especially with the recent dustup over what Catholic health providers can and can’t do.

A friend pointed out that if Santorum was spouting that stuff that has been in soundbites of late from the front of the train, you’d change cars. The trouble with never ending news cycles is that often there isn’t anything of value to say. You don’t get to be president of the people who agree with you, got to take us all, and not everybody reads from the same book. When the hullabaloo over the government mandating that everybody pass out birth control info wrankled the catholic health system, I sympathize as people should be free to worship unabashedly for themselves, but when you are looking for secular dollars for funding, shutting it is probably a prudent course. To lable this all as “A War On Religion” is a pile of hooey.

With Senator Santorum’s quest for a bible based government, it made me wonder if he has read the whole thing. I have and if it gives you comfort, I applaud that, respect that and will stand with you to protect those benefits for you, but given how it perhaps shouldn’t be taken as gospel, perhaps one particular faith shouldn’t dominate the primary season. Got to be President for all the people in all the churches, not just the ones like yours, doncha know.

Food for thought

Banner Days

A little perspective is a good thing. During their existence, the Montreal Expos occasionally bubbled to the middle of the pennant races. See a game from Olympic Stadium often made you wonder if there was anybody in the place. Before bad ownership and latent indifference chased the Expos out of existence and into Washington, they did have a number of stars. They just had the gross misfortune of sharing the town with the Montreal Canadiens, who have this pesky habit of regularly winning titles. It’s just been awhile. One of the Expos greats was Gary Carter who labored in Quebec for 11 seasons before leaving for New York in 1984.

While the Canadiens are having a year similar to the Sabres, they are managing to teach the Sabres a few things. With Carter’s passing this week, the  Canadiens aren’t showing blooper reels, they did this before today’s game with the Devils.

That’s one of Carter’s Montreal baseball card’s projected on the ice (Photo courtesy of Dave Stubb, Canadiens’ reporter). I didn’t see it but for warmups, the Canadiens players all wore number 8 jerseys with Carter’s name on the back. That is a classy tribute for somebody who hadn’t played in the city in 27 years for a franchise largely unacknowledged while it was there.  This is a verbose wakeup call to the local home town team and primary tenant of the building at One Jim Kelley Way. It seems a little odd that the same folks who thought up the welcome home to all the former Sabres at the end of last year still haven’t figured out a way to acknowledge the presence of the Buffalo Braves as Aud co-tenants all those years. When Marine Midland Arena opened, it was with a lot of pomp and reverence for everything the Aud held, except for the pro basketball team.  The fate of the free world certainly doesn’t hinge on this, but it would be a nice public relations thing to acknowledge the Buffalo Braves time here and especially native son Randy Smith. I’m sure given the economics, a city with the problems Buffalo deals with would have lost the team at some point, but they got taken from us. The Aud was the home to some playoff basketball and I think it would be a smooth move for TPegs and the gang to do something about that oversight.

I remember my son and I got to go to the 40th anniversary and it felt like a cable access show. The Sabres missed some good public relations bonanzas with Ryan Miller’s recent career mark, and the Expos show that even paying respect to the Bills’ Kent Hull wouldn’t have been out of the question.

I remember collecting some of the posters from the Saturday Buffalo Evening News, it would be a good, long overdue gesture, but fix the hockey mess first.

Pitchers and Catchers

Allow me a moment. As the Sabres continue to go from joyous potential to hockey purgatory, (do something Darcy! Do something about Darcy, Ted), the sad passing of Gary Carter made me remember fondly how much fun it was to be a Mets fan in the mid 80s. No sport has the sense of history like Major League Baseball. True, you can catch a multi-inning nap sometimes and not miss a thing, but every once in awhile…

My own affection for the Mets revived for real when they acquired Keith Hernandez in 83. I was a Tom Seaver fan a few years earlier, but this felt like something was happening. The notion that that Strawberry kid might be something. It all felt like something was afoot. I think it was Cary Carter’s first or second game as a Met in 1985 that made you think something was starting. He hit a home run in the 10th to beat the Cardinals that made my crappy black and white tv seem to burst with living color.

(from Rob Neyer at SB Nation)

It was fun. They didn’t win it all that year, but 86 was exciting fun from Opening Day. Lord knows that team (like many others) had its individual demons that were later exposed. But you couldn’t help appreciate the way Carter played, especially after years in Montreal. He was having a blast. The kid nickname was well earned because he really seemed to enjoy it all. I know he got tagged with Camera as he always was in front of one. But I can still remember the series of pitches in the middle innings of Game Six of the 86 World Series where he coaxed Sid Fernandez through a dominating series of pitches, leaving Red Sox hitters flummoxed.

Thanks, it was fun.

Hall Monitor

For the Sabres/Star game, I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop of assignments. It was nice to get the call as it had been a few weeks, but I was given a door to watch over, near restrooms in a little alcove. The door behaved itself. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was getting punished, but they were filling in the blanks.  The usual doormeister was gone so I got the call. It is mostly boring, you can’t see the game very well, so you people watch and that is a festival as you might expect but you feel a little weird as half your sightline is folks entering the bathrooms. Had an awkward reunion with a guy I never really got along with in jr. high.  That was weird and sort of set the tone for the night.  Sad that the only time I’ve heard Rick Jeanneret in proper context over the past month or so has been on a bathroom break.

I was occasionally sneaking game glances but you did have to watch out for interlopers sneaking up the stairwell. The middle level of the place is restricted during the game to the folks who pay for the privilege, but that doesn’t stop some smoothies from taking a shot at getting in. I had a guy whose invisible wife was killing him to get a handcarved roast turkey sandwich (yeah, sure), a few other ner do wells, but my favorite was the guy who tried to talk his way up to see Sabres Broadcaster Kevin Sylvester, while Mr. Sylvester was speaking….on television. Something tells me that isn’t the best time for company to drop by, especially when they don’t seem to grasp the nature of your job. That same something told me that the gentleman in front of me knew Mr. Sylvester, from watching him on television like the rest of us.

The Sabres won in a shootout, so I’m thinking all the people who left early trying to “Beat the traffic” are feeling a little foolish, but I showed that door who was boss.

Further On Up the Road

Continuing my car-ma theme from a couple of blogs ago, I did find a nice one. But if I didn’t really like and I do, I might have walked away again. I went to recent used car warehouse sale at Eastern Hills Mall, largely to just see what parked out there behind the food court. There were some vehicles parked in the mall, but I took a “what the hey” stroll to see what was out and about. Now, it should be said, that volume used car shopping is bound to be a little bleah, beige, exciting as watching paint dry, etc. And going to one of these sales is something I don’t intend to repeat.

Anyway, nestled among some overpriced SUVs, Rav4, and other oversized trucksters, I found an immaculate 2006 Toyota Corolla. It looked great, inside and out. You knew it would be worth taking a swing at, so I flagged down a Sales rep to talk more. I had him go get the key after hearing his platitudes. He returned after disappearing to an “office” the dealership set up in an empty store front. I railed at him about all the stuff I wrote about in the “carma” blog two entries ago, so why surprise him with being a jerk later, might as well let him know where I stand from the get go.

We did a couple of laps of the mall and the car and I bonded. This is where the fun stops. I tell my new best friend, Tim, that this car and I are a good match. Let’s go talk to those who need talked to

We journey into the mall “office” where more sales reps, credit people are strewn across a network of card tables and water bottles. We start the ball rolling where an hour of waiting, while furious typing breaks out buying out the rest of my existing loan, evaluating the grand am that I was driving, and the dealership deciding where they will meet me on price. Where I screwed up was telling them to give me the best you can do from the start. Forgot to check on that, but learn from me dear reader.  Tim reappears and advises me to follow down Transit Road to his actual office where we will get the papers signed, he’ll get the car inspected, detailed, and ready to go.

I get to meet the finance woman. Prior to arriving, I called my dad who was the wingman on my older sister’s recent lease from the same firm. I wanted to check when his finely honed b.s. detector went off. It was at this conversation. The finance “Expert” showed my deal. Then, the “genius” revealed all these other options available for my protection to further protect my car and my investment, since “Toyotas are complicated and foreign.” That sadly is an exact quote. This car was built in the exotic foreign land of…..Kentucky (thank you Car Fax). I managed to hide my contempt for this financial whiz kid, didn’t even ask her if when her boyfriend blows in her ear, does she remember to thank him for the refill. If she was the first person I met, this wouldn’t have happened.

With most of the staff at the mall, it seemed forever to get the paperwork done, a mere four hours after I stopped by, automotively six years and 40,000 miles younger. Not a perfect transaction, customers shouldn’t have to be on guard and reps shouldn’t be like vultures, and more importantly, the dealer’s staff shouldn’t have such contempt for clients that they barely mask their misinformation to get a deal done. Positives outweigh the negatives, but there shouldn’t be negatives.

Is that so wrong?

But it is a nice ride