Sunday Morning, July 31, 2016

As usual, my Sunday routine started with riding my bike to George’s 50’s Diner for breakfast. It is another of the places where I am known and welcomed. I have a usual spot at the end of the counter, and on at least one occasion I saw Helen, the waitress, actually reseat someone who had had the nerve to sit in my place when she saw me coming! The cooks are already making up my mushroom and cheese omelet before I even take my seat. There was a minor crisis, however, as my Kryptonite bike lock was refusing to unlock, but an application of WD-40 provided by the staff solved that problem, at least for now.


I am now at another of my coffee shop regular stops, DRNK Coffee House in Bixby Knolls, where I get my Sunday morning caffeine fix. It’s a big day for the DRNK family as the wedding of DRNK manager Mildred and her girlfriend Michelle will be happening later this afternoon. That is an event that has been eagerly awaited for months by DRNK staff and friends!


In a little bit I will ride back home, shower, and then it is off to the highlight of the day, class with my yoga muse, Ramona Magnolia Tamulinas at Yoga World Studio!


Resetting, Day 1, July 29, 2016

I am back and re-establishing routines. Some things will remain the same, and others will change for various reasons. Started my day at 5:00 am with the morning weigh-in, the official result being 143.2 lbs, which was a very happy state given the length of time I had not paid attention to that statistic.

Then there was the venti sized cup of French Pressed coffee, some time atop my throne, some browsing of the Internet, and then I began my morning practice at about 6. Did an abbreviated version that only lasted about 90 minutes. Left out ab work as the plan for the day included a workout with Stephanie, so it was into the shower, and then prepping for the days expeditions.


First it was off to SteelHead, where the first thing I discovered was that I had forgotten to pack any money! Ouch, system failure! Luckily my friend Manfred was there and willing to cover the cost of my meal! I was very happy to hear that his Netflix series, “Bail”, will be going into production at the end of August. Steelhead was very busy, and I managed to have several interesting conversations with former complete strangers before heading off to LA Fitness for some light weight work and therapeutic treadmill and elliptical work.

From the gym it was back home to collect my wallet, and then back on the bike to my weekly workout with my core coach, Stephanie, who put me through a combination mat Pilates and barre workout, a combination that I had been missing very much while on the road. From Stephanie’s I took the long way home along the beach and up the LA River, stopping off at the Fox Coffee House on Willow for a bite to eat. Unfortunately my favorite, the vegan pot pie, was already sold out, but they did have a very tasty salad with kale, quinoa, hummus, avocado, and other goodies that made for a good replacement. Then home for a bit of a nap and a chance to ice my aching knees! After not riding my bike for three weeks they were not happy about having to do a vigorous 25 miles on the first day back.

Next stop was Yoga World Studios where I took the 5:30 pm strong Vinyasa Flow class with the lovely Ashley Corbin-Teich. Ashley is making a conscious effort to up the difficulty level of her class, and that, combined with my already very much fatigued legs pretty much wiped me out. Her peak sequence strung together a long series of asanas targeting hamstrings, and mine were pretty much worked out about halfway through. Ashley, by the way, is also a gifted photographer and has the photo credit for the picture on my Home page.

Last stop for the day was Lazy Acres grocery store where I stocked up on veggies and also made use of their ready-to-eat food bar to get dinner out of the way. Then home, where I was in bed by about 8:30. It’s good to be back!

I’m baaack!, July 29, 2016

I am back from my pilgrimage across the country and happy to be back in the friendly confines of Steelhead Coffee. On Wednesday (7/27) I left Elko, NV at 4:45 am so I could drive the the 421 miles to Sacramento, CA for a luncheon engagement with three very lovely and talented young ladies, Martha Friedrich, Linda Angel, and Angela Ratty.

Martha, Linda, and Angela are the key players in the California School Information Services (CSIS), the organization that was originally tasked with assigning and maintaining unique student identifiers for all students enrolled in public schools in California. Given that California has upwards of 6 million students that was and continues to be a daunting task, especially given the mobility of large segments of the population.

That functionality was transferred to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS), a function of the California Department of Education (CDE) in 2009. The early implementation of  CALPADS was fraught with problems in the beginning, and was even in danger of being scrapped not long after its release. Proper functioning of the system requires the cooperation of over 1100 Local Educational Agencies (LEA’s) to transmit and maintain an ever growing body of electronic data to CALPADS.

When systems break and don’t work the people who have to do that job get very frustrated very easily, especially when their supervisors have no idea of what the magnitude of the job is and in most cases don’t provide adequate support. When things get tough, they turn to CSIS for support, and Martha, as Client Services Officer, Linda as Data Analyst, and Angela, Chief Data Architect, are beloved all across the state for their dedication to providing support for the beleaguered masses. Getting the opportunity to lunch with them was a highlight of my entire trip!


Of course I also needed to get my yoga on, so I took a class at a small studio,  It’s All Yoga, in Sacramento. I usually add a photo of the outside of the studio in my posts, but in this case the storefront is so small and undecorated that I almost just passed it by. The inside, however, while quite small, has had more attention paid to it. The class, taught by Jeanne (pronounced like “I dream of …and not your aunt Jean) Munoz was very creative, enjoyable, and provided excellent foundational work. It was designed to both improve strength and precision, and was augmented with some tenderizing using faux yoga tuneup balls created with two tennis balls and some packing tape, an innovation that I plan to copy very soon. A very unexpected surprise was a beautiful chant sung by Jeanne who has a beautiful voice.


The day would not have been complete, of course, without a visit to a coffee shop, and I got my fix at Insight Coffee Roasters. I looked at their website, and I didn’t see this Midtown location listed, so I believe it is a new location. Barista Michael was doing an excellent job of holding down the fort by himself and passed the test of making an excellent machiatto!


That’s when things got weird! Parking is a nightmare in this part of town, and I spent fifteen minutes or so driving around before I realized that there were loading  zones that expired at 6 pm. I found one and parked. By this time I was pretty disoriented (more on that below) and made the strategic error of not making a note of where my car was parked.

I am a cannabis user and have found that just the right dosage really accentuates my ability to make that mind-body connection that yoga is all about. I find that I get really stretchy given when under the influence. The key, though is the right dosage, which for me is 15-25 mg. If the dosage is too high I can still function very well on the micro level, but my ability to formulate and execute complex plans suffers greatly. When I say “complex plans” that might include something like remembering where I am going, or finding my car.

Before my yoga class I had visited a local dispensary and purchased an edible product (dark chocolate) that I was unfamiliar with and bit off more than I could chew! The chocolate bars I was used to consuming had four sections with a total dosage of 100 mg, and one section is appropriate for me. I gobbled down one of the four sections on the bar I had purchased, and it was only later that I checked the label and found that this bar had a total of 400 mg!

I had taken a dosage equal to four of my regular doses, and that, compounded by the fact that as it gets dark my eyesight suffers greatly, caused me to wander around fruitlessly for an hour or so before I decided to get a cab back to my hotel and put off my search until the morning. Even at that, with a more systematic search plan in play (as opposed to the “random guess with replacement” strategy I had used at night) in hand, it still required the assistance of Ms. Angela Ratty on her bicycle to finally locate my car. You know how sometimes it requires the eyes of someone else to locate that set of car keys that is actually in plain sight? Once again, ANGELa (note the emphasis), has come through in the clutch!



We Are Yoga, Salt Lake City, July 26, 2016

The last few days of traveling across the country from the Detroit area to Elko, NV, had left me feeling a bit out of sorts as I was having trouble finding yoga along the way. My first stop was in Cedar Rapids, IA, but I arrived too late on a Friday night to take any classes, and couldn’t find any yoga at all in North Platte, NE or Green River, UT. I also didn’t see anything in Elko, my current location, so I decided to get out extra early so I could stop in and catch a 9:30 am class at We Are Yoga in SLC.

After a harrowing trip in rush hour traffic down from Park City, a very curvy downhill toboggan ride where the speed limit of 65 mph was ignored and I was being passed on the right and the left even though I was going between 75 and 80, followed by the singularly unpleasant experience of negotiating that traffic in the city itself, I was really feeling the need for some centering! The class at We Are Yoga really did the trick!


The drop-in price is only $15, and there are two large studios in the studio that are nicely decorated and well furnished with all of the necessary props. If you look at the Teachers page on the WAY (We Are Yoga) website you will see that they have pictured 22 very accomplished teachers, an amazing assemblage of talent, making me wish that I could spend more time there to experience more of them!


Alas, all that I could fit in was the Open Level flow class taught by Rachel Posner, pictured above. The class was well attended by perhaps a dozen students, ranging in ability from seasoned yogis to relative beginners, and Rachel did a great job of differentiating instruction for the class as a whole. In terms of content, this would have been a nightmare class for me just a few months ago as the focus was on balances, but my new feet served me well and I was able to hold my own. In addition to the usual warm-up and cool-down Rachel had us do three balance sequences. The first variation sequenced Tree->Dancer->Warrior 3->Standing Splits, and the last peak sequence went  Tree->Dancer->Half-Moon-> Revolved Half-Moon (with or without maintaining the foot hold from Dancer). It was both challenging and invigorating, and if you are passing through SLC We Are Yoga would be an excellent stop.


Staci Ann’s Cafe, Green River, WY, July 24, 2016

Upon completing my peregrinations through the back streets of Green River I was getting rather hungry and trying to decide where I might find some food when I noticed an establishment on the corner of Railroad Ave and N 1st St East named Staci Ann’s Cafe. It is a rather unfortunate location as it is off the main drag and not likely to attract any drive by traffic, and I would not have even found it had I not been wandering as is my wont, but I decided to go in and give it a try.

There is a small bar and a quite sizable dining room, which, unfortunately, was rather empty on this Sunday evening. That is a real shame because I consider this place to be a real find. In addition to running a restaurant, Staci Ann, who I unfortunately didn’t get to meet, is also an accomplished baker, and the restaurant features an impressive assortment of breads, pies, and cakes, all baked on the premises, along with a very creative menu.

In my weeks on the road I have not been able to get enough fruits and produce into my system, so the Strawberry Chicken Salad caught my eye. I ordered that along with a cup of the Italian Wedding soup. Both were delicious, and the salad was really my kind of salad, loaded with grapes, mandarin orange slices, strawberry slices, and chopped walnuts along with the usual ingredients found in a chicken salad. It was topped with a home-made raspberry vinaigrette dressing that worked very well with the salad.


My waitress, the lovely Trish, was very personable and let me know that they have only been open for seven months now and would very much like to get some new customers. Given the size and layout of the room I think that they would do very well by adding some music to their menu as their seems to be a paucity of places where folks can go to hear live music in this neck of the woods. So if you are reading this, Staci Ann, please give that some consideration, and if any of you other readers find yourselves in Green River, please give Staci Ann’s a shot. It would be well worth your while.

PureFit Yoga & Pilates, Walled Lake, MI, July 21, 2016

PureFit Yoga & Pilates is a studio that is operated by Emily Kasal out of the Walled Lake United Methodist Church in Walled Lake, MI. Classes are held both in the basement of the church and, weather permitting, in two local parks in the area. I had the pleasure of taking the 5:30 pm Yoga class taught by Kelly (pictured below) in Clara Miller Park on Wednesday, and the 9:30 am Pilates class taught by Emily (pictured above) on Thursday morning.

Both instructors were outstanding, and both classes were well-attended by what appears to be a strong core of dedicated practitioners. Emily is particularly interested in spreading the gospel of the union of Yoga and Pilates to the general public. In her words, “Pilates changed my body, and Yoga changed my life”, a philosophy that I can agree with wholeheartedly. She is a strong and adept Mat Pilates teacher, and friends who have taken her Yoga classes also attest very positively to her Yoga teaching ability.

Emily is committed to making her classes accessible to the public; the low overhead afforded by the location she has chosen has allowed her to keep her classes very affordable. Drop-in classes are only 12 dollars, and a monthly unlimited pass can be had for only 45 dollars. The first class is FREE, so if you find yourself in the area, or  live in the area, be sure to take advantage of that offer. One caveat, however–you may find yourself hooked!

Emily is also very creative, and that aspect of her personality combined with her very telegenic appearance, has allowed her to spread her message of fitness to a much wider audience via the medium of television through her appearances on WDIV Channel 4 Fitness Friday spots.




North Commerce Lake, MI, July 20, 2016

I am now enjoying the hospitality of my great friend Don Tujaka, CEO of Data Image Systems, at his house on the shores of North Commerce Lake northwest of Detroit. I have known Don since our days as graduate students at Michigan State University, which I attended from 1975-1977 as a student in the Ph.D program in Mathematics. Don is pictured below with his long-time girlfriend, Sharon Dolega on the deck of his house.


Don is one of the members of a select fraternity, having earned the designation of Master of the Physical Universe (MPU), awarded by me to individuals who have demonstrated over time the ability to get things done no matter what the obstacle! Don is equally at home building a deck for his house, tearing apart and rebuilding a motorcycle engine, debugging complex electrical problems, or running a very successful business. He and Sharon are also seasoned adventure travelers who will be leaving in just over a week on their next adventure–a two week excursion in Africa, traveling through Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe on a motorcycle.


Last night Don, Sharon, and I had the pleasure of dining at the home of the president of the Lake Erie Chapter of the Antique Motorcyle Club of America, a meeting convened so the three couples attending can plan an excursion to the Isle of Man next fall for the motorcycle racing there. Above you can seen some of his collection, somewhat obscured by the cloud of smoke caused by the attempts of he and a friend to start and run his latest acquisition, a 1937 250 cc BSA that apparently needs a bit of work. Also advisable would be an exhaust fan for his garage! To the right you can see his 1945 Indian and a 1945 Harley.

The weather here in southwest Michigan has been beautiful, and on the agenda for tonight is yoga in the park, followed by a cruise on the lake in Don’s pontoon boat. Tomorrow we will be heading to Ann Arbor for the Ann Arbor Art Fair. More to come later!


The House Pub, Saint Charles, July 16, 2016

On Saturday night I traveled to St. Charles to take in a show at The House Pub. The band I was going to see is named Noah’s Arcade, and it is fronted by Noah Giblin, who is the husband of my niece Rachel Giblin, yogini and nanny extraordinaire. The House Pub is located in downtown St. Charles right next to the Fox River, and as I approached the location I saw a large crowd of what appeared to be aging rockers in their finest regalia smoking cigarettes and mingling on the sidewalks and alley adjacent to the venue. My first thought was that Noah’s Arcade must be more popular than I had anticipated, but when I walked around the corner to the front of the building I saw the reason for the crowd.



It seems that The House Pub shares space in the same building with the Arcada Theater, and the bill for the night was sure to attract the crowd that I had seen on the street.

As the show had a scheduled start time of 10 pm (rather late for the 5 am riser that I am) and I was hungry, I went across the street to the El Puente Mexican Restaurant. I ordered the Quesadilla Grande with shrimp, and it definitely lived up to its name. My first thought was that I would not be able to finish it, but I did manage to get it down.

Then it was over to the venue where I met up with Rachel and her mom, Lee. I had not seen Rachel since she was an infant, and Lee for about 20 years, so it was wonderful to see and reconnect with them. Rachel is a lovely young lady, and Lee has seemingly not aged at all.


In addition to being rather tall, with an imposing presence, Noah is also a gifted musician and songwriter. He has an excellent stage presence, a good voice, and a large repertoire of original music. Noah can really shred on the electric guitar, and Rachel has assured me that he is equally gifted with the acoustic guitar and can also display a softer side as well. The show was scheduled to go on until 1 am, but as my goal for Sunday morning was to make it to the 8 am yoga class at Akasha Yoga I excused myself after the first set, but not before picking up Noah’s Arcade’s two CD’s for future enjoyment. It was a great evening and a real treat to reconnect with Rachel and Lee and meet Noah!



Akasha Yoga, July 16, 2016

I have a number of family members who live in Crystal Lake, Illinois, and I try to make it here every summer to visit them. One of the highlights of coming here is that it provides me with the opportunity to take some classes at one of my favorite yoga studios, Akasha Yoga. Akasha is the creation of Jennifer Ewert, and her calm presence permeates the studio. Most, if not all, of the teachers at Akasha were trained by Jennifer, and trained very well indeed. Instructions are clear, practices are thorough and consistent, and a sense of well-being emanates from the steady application of Ayurvedic principles.

The studio is located on Main Street right by the train station. There are two practice rooms, a very comfortable foyer/waiting area, and plenty of props that are used liberally during the classes. I have probably taken nearly a dozen classes there over the past three years, and all have been well attended by some very serious yogis who are well-trained and dedicated to the studio.

I was just a little bit disappointed to see that my favorite Akasha teacher, Emily, was not on the schedule for July, but my disappointment dissipated immediately when I showed up for class this morning to find that Emily was subbing for Jennifer. It turns out that this was the first class Emily was teaching since going out on maternity leave two months ago and is now going back on the regular schedule, so my timing could not have worked out better! The staff at Akasha are truly a family, and that family is growing rapidly as it seems that teacher Laura is now out on maternity leave as well!

If you find yourself in the area, you will not be disappointed if you make Akasha your yoga home away from home!

Free Range Yoga, July 15, 2016

The highlight of my visit to Macomb, IL, was finding a wonderful yoga/fitness studio, Free Range Yoga, situated on the town square. This studio is the creation of Dawn Piper, and I was alerted to its existence by my former gymnastics coach, Roger Gedney. Dawn’s husband Tim is on the faculty of Western Illinois University and teaches Kinesiology. Tim also has taken over much of the support role for the community weight room that Roger created in the basement of the Salvation Army 30 years ago. Both Tim and Dawn are committed to improving the well-being of the community as a whole, and both are very knowledgeable about how to do so.


Dawn, pictured above, is not your typical yoga teacher. Most teachers stick to the catalog of standard asanas, but the rare few take a more eclectic approach bringing in exercises and activities drawn from other areas such as Pilates,  Physical Therapy, and classical exercise methodology. Dawn is one of those instructors, and I knew that I would be in for an rare experience when I was instructed to grab two dumbells, a small elastic band, a larger elastic band, and a plastic playground ball, all of which were incorporated into the class. I came away from the class invigorated and in possession of some new exercises that I found to be extremely effective at improving stability and balance and which I plan to incorporate into my own practice.

The main studio is situated in a former old-fashioned drug store, and is a very clean and beautifully appointed. One of the things I liked the best was the fact that Dawn managed to incorporate the original lunch counter into the decor of the studio.


But wait, there’s more! Dawn’s perspective is much wider than that of the usual yoga studio, and she has acquired a separate space two doors down that is used for general fitness training and is equipped with weights and machines for that purpose.

If you ever find yourself in Macomb, please be sure to visit Free Range. You will meet some very fine people and have an excellent and eclectic experience.