Status Report, Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Just trying to work consciously!

Wow, it has really been tough to set aside sufficient time to actually do any writing these days. I am fully into a high activity mode, and unfortunately sitting and writing does not fit into that “high” activity bucket. Although, I do try my best. As I write this my feet are on the seat across from me as I sit in dandasana. My spine is erect, my bandhas are activated, my hamstrings and quadriceps are engaged, and Lawrence is snapping pictures of me. So even while typing there is excellent work to be done!


Lovely Sofie from Bixby’s Brooklyn Deli!


The big problem right now, however, is that writing, even when standing (which is an excellent option), is not a high-calorie, strength building exercise, and that is what I am looking for these days. Yesterday was a banner day: up at 5 am, morning practice from 6-7:30, shower, bike to Steelhead Coffee for breakfast, ride to yoga class from 9:45-10:45 at LA Fitness, another hour of workout on treadmill, machines, and weights at LA Fitness, ride to Bixby’s Brooklyn Deli to have lunch and visit with the lovely Sofie and Liz, ride home for a nap, go for a 2 mile walk on the Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) campus and recharge with some caffeine, take a Power Pilates class at Pilates X, then over to Elevation Studios where I took a 1-1/2 hour lyrical jazz class with Sari Anna Thomas.  BTW, the time crunch is only going to get tougher as I have purchased an introductory one-month unlimited Pilates classes at Pilates X, and I intend to make good use of it!


Walked by many times, and never noticed at CSULB

This morning was a bit tougher. Nothing sore or hurting, but just hard to get out of bed this morning, so I slept in until 6:30, puttered until 8:30, and then walked here to Steelhead. I have a PT appointment at Memorial Orthopaedic this afternoon, and I am going to head out from here momentarily to try to get in a walk over Signal Hill a couple of times before I have to head over there!


Elevation profile for my Signal Hill walk

It is now Thursday afternoon and I am trying to finish this up at the Fox Coffee House. I probably could have finished this at the Fox yesterday, but the entire Fox staff had retired to Six Flags Magic Mountain for their Staff Appreciation Day and I was orphaned from one of my premium writing locations. Yesterday was, however, an excellent walking day. I put on over 9 miles, walked over Signal Hill twice, and my feet felt great the entire day and night. This morning my feet felt better than they have in many, many years. My right foot, which has undergone extensive renovation over the past year and a half, is now feeling more like my “other” foot than my “bad” foot. There were a couple of major sources of pain in that ankle that I have been consciously challenging with my exercises, stretches, and walking. Those sources have now faded to mere shadows of what they were.  I am starting to be able to get up on the balls of my feet a lot more, and I can get through dance classes without any problem. The spring is coming back into my step!


Desiree and Mary at Fox Coffee House!

Also good news on the upper body front. I have been working since I retired on undoing some of the consequences of spending way too many hours hunched in front of computer screens, compounded by the fact that my main exercise during those years was bicycle riding, another activity that tends to close up the upper body. This past Saturday my dance teacher Carri Burbank Glen stopped class after I had gone across the floor to express her amazement at how open and expansive I have become. Then on Monday my body mechanic, Donna Place, who knows my body better than anyone but yours truly, was also amazed by how much my back had improved just over the preceding two weeks. Looks like my plan is succeeding!!!


Most of my fellow GWD dancers!

One more thing! On Saturday I participated in the Long Beach incarnation of the Global Water Dance at Granada Beach. The Global Water Dance was performed on the same day in (at last count) 108 different locations on six continents, and the purpose was to raise awareness about global water issues. It was my performing debut and was great fun as well, and I hope to get a blog post at some point about it.

I Am a Spotter, June 10, 2017



Me, teaching high school in my own fashion

When I first arrived in California in 1977 I immersed myself in the community that was the Original Muscle Beach (OMB). I competed in Acrobatic Gymnastics (nationals in Mixed Pairs in 1978 and Men’s Pairs in 1984), spent evenings working out in the gym, and every weekend at the OMB. That association continued, albeit with monotonically decreasing intensity, as I took on new responsibilities (teaching high school, going back to school and earning a Ph.D UCLA., teaching at USC), up until 1997.


That was when I had my wake-up moment–“Oh no! I forgot all about retirement!” At that point in time I had no assets and about $25K in credit card debt, so from that point I immersed myself in making money and creating a nest egg. For five years I actually had two full-time jobs, and for four years a more-than-full-time girlfriend; time constraints kept me from getting to the beach and I lost contact with OMB.


OMB crew in the mid-80’s

When my ex-girlfriend finally bailed on me (to my great relief and great benefit to my health) in the fall of 2010, I suddenly had a lot more time. I reconnected with the beach community and started going regularly to OMB on Sundays and to JJ’s Gym on Tuesday nights. While the cast of characters had changed almost entirely, there were still a few notable links to the past who helped speed my re-integration into the Acro community. Luckily, Ernie Thrash (the King of Muscle Beach, IMHO) was still holding court, Cisco Pimentel (deep circus roots) and David Floyd (former international competitor in Acrobatic Gymnastics) were still regulars who could vouch for me. Occasional visitors like Karen Castle, Bob Yerkes, and Tricia Peters Moon provided more links to the past.


OMB “OG” crew…

Acrobatics, you see, is based on trust, and in order to play one needs to establish and earn that trust. There are two flavors of gymnastics. The one that you are probably most familiar with is the Olympic variety, Artistic Gymnastics, and that is the ultimate individual sport: it is the competitor vs. the apparatus, and you have no one to blame for failure but yourself. My favorite branch, Acrobatic Gymnastics, is the ultimate team sport: without seamless communication and extreme trust between you and your partner(s) you will go nowhere!

Coming back to the beach after at least a 15 year absence I was no longer physically the man I used to be, so I knew I needed to be cautious with respect to the kinds of things I did. At the same time, the Acro Green is now a very exciting and bustling place. In addition to the exponential expansion of Acro Yoga monkeys (that is a technical term for Acro Yoga practitioners) that threatens to monopolize the Green, the explosion of Cirque-style entertainment popularized by Cirque du Soleil has resulted in a concomitant explosion of talented acrobats on the green.


Look out below!


One of the challenges facing newcomers (and returning old-timers) joining a community like OMB is establishing trust, and my road towards establishing that trust was by offering my services as a spotter. It is an easy role for me. I think that because of my status as the oldest of nine siblings I have an over-developed sense of safety. I am constantly coming aware of threats to safety, and in the case of OMB I find myself compelled to move in the direction of precarious situations. If I see someone putting up a shaky hand-to-hand or pyramid I will be moving to a position where I can assist if necessary, while at the same time scanning the area for equipment that might be landed on, or small children that might wind up beneath a falling body. If you look at the Facebook pictures from that era that I am tagged in you will see that in most of them it looks like I am just standing around, but I am on duty and standing at the ready.


After a few months of participating in that way my efforts paid off. One of my proudest days at OMB was when circus artiste Reyie Nal took me aside and told me “People really like having you around here. They like that you are always looking out for them. If I ever have a circus, I would hire you as the safety man.” Reyie now has a circus (Cirque La Vie), and if it wasn’t based way out in Houston I might take him up on that offer!


It’s a long way down when your bases are both 6’4″ tall


Post-bicep surgery

Spotting, by the way, is hard and dangerous work, which is why I am currently making myself scarce at OMB. Back in the summer of 2012 I was just standing there watching a very tall man toss a rather small woman for a back somersault. She was supposed to open up so he could catch her under the arms, but something went wrong and she wound up rotating backwards with head traveling towards the ground. My instincts took over as I dove in and managed to catch the back of her head and arrest the rotation. There was a cost, however, as I ruptured my right biceps in the process, but it was a price that I was happy to pay!


Between the ruptured triceps that I am still healing and the rotator cuff injury that I am rehabbing I am in no shape to be catching falling bodies, or even being around a place where my instincts might kick in, but I hope to get myself healed up and get back in the mix and hanging with my tribe again!


Just another night at JJ Gym

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Status Update, Saturday, June 3, 2017

My blog posts have tapered off quite a bit, not because there hasn’t been anything worthy of writing about but because my time has been spent elsewhere. I am now approaching the second anniversary of my retirement and it’s time to do a bit of auditing.


Dyandji and I in Iceland

Before I retired I had the idea that I wanted to blog, and talked about it, but really held off on making that a reality. I realized at that point that I was not where I wanted to be physically. I was fat, soft, and sedentary, and what I really needed to do was to get myself moving and in shape.

My theme for the first year was “65 going on 45”, and I started off running on that program. I retired on a Wednesday, on Friday saw a Facebook post by my friend Kerry (Full Tilt) Ward about needing a last-minute fill-in for an already booked trip, and on Tuesday was in Iceland starting a 10 day camper van excursion where we circumnavigated the entire island. My preference is to hang out with exceptional people, and there are few people more exceptional than Kerry Ward. He ran two 200 mile races that year, and just this past week was in Nepal trekking to Everest Base Camp. I know him well, and the pace of his adventures continually dizzies me!


One of the highlights of my Canada trip was my visit to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, and this reproduction of a statue I had seen in Regina was stunning. The statue commemorates the Holodomor holocaust where Stalin confiscated food from peasants and left them to starve.

I continued my progress with a four week, 8000 mile drive up to Vancouver, across Canada (stopping at yoga studios along the way) to Toronto, back into the US at Detroit, a family gathering northwest of Chicago, and then the drive back to Los Angeles. I was moving well and feeling fine, but made a strategic error while in transit across Canada. Feeling a bit uneasy about my drop in income I took what was supposed to be a part-time job with Claremont Graduate University.

Area Map

Red Dots far from Long Beach are my students’ placements

I was to be a Mathematics Faculty Adviser supervising five student teachers at the middle and high school level. It sounded good when I first looked at it, but the reality was a shocker. For starters, there were weekly all-day class sessions on either Saturday (with students) or Thursday (schooling us faculty members) in Claremont, which is a 50 mile drive from Long Beach. Then my five students were placed in Walnut, Upland, Colton, Hemet, and Victorville. Both Hemet and Victorville are about 100 miles from Long Beach, and I was supposed to visit each site on the order of nine times. The distances involved, combined with the vagaries of block scheduling at the schools, made it pretty much impossible to make more than two visits a day. I found myself working more than I had before I retired, and for way, way less 😦 ! I was losing ground on my goals but was able to bail out on that commitment after the first semester. Whew!!


Revolved Triangle_edited

The rest of that first year was finally spent focusing on my rehab, and by the end of June I had reached most of my physical goals. I even considered myself camera-ready and engaged the lovely Ashley Corbin-Teich to take some pictures! I was also finally ready to start my blog, which I launched on the first anniversary of my retirement!

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

Once again, I hit the ground running. I set off in early July on a cross-country excursion, posting about places I visited along the way. I put up 24 posts in July, 14 in August, and 11 in September. In late August, though, I experienced one of those injuries and insults that mike life a challenge when I rode over a skateboard on my bike and ruptured two out of three of my triceps tendons on my right arm. I had surgery to repair that in early September. My surgeon was very concerned about the stability of the repair and put me on 12 months of restricted activity with respect to that arm. For the first six months I stayed off the bicycle and stayed out of yoga classes (sad face emoji here). I had six months of no down dogs!

Bionic Arm_edited

My bionic arm. There was a span of three months before I could feed myself with my right hand.


On the one hand, my restricted activity did leave me plenty of time for blogging, and I kept up pretty good output on that front. I managed to get in a few notable excursions: there was the Vegas trip for Circus Couture, the side jaunt to the slot canyons in Utah, the drive down Baja to Cabo San Lucas with Kerry, another trip to Vegas to kidnap Amelia Earhart, and quite a few musical and artistic events. I managed to average six posts per month from September through January!

On the flip side the restricted activity, particularly the lack of bike riding, had me packing on the pounds. In early March I had gained 20 pounds and had enough of that, so I resumed bike riding and limited yoga classes. No power flows at the moment, still not up to full capacity on the yoga front, still riding in a rather wimpy gear, but at least back in the game.

CC Crew_edited

My Circus Couture crew. Notice the brace on my arm.

The good side of that is I have managed to take off about 5 of those excess pounds, but the down side is that all that walking, riding, yoga classes, dance classes, mat Pilates classes, Gyrotonic sessions, physical therapy appointments, and private workouts break my day into segments that don’t work well for writing, especially given my propensity for chatting with all of the lovely ladies that I encounter during the day. As a result, I have only managed to put out one or two posts a month since then. It is not that I have not been to any blog-worthy events, but just a matter of finding the time to give them the treatment they deserve.

Spiral Line

Spiral Lines

As of right now I still have 10-15 lbs to lose. I have made excellent progress in retraining my body to walk properly and have almost managed to eliminate the torque in my right spiral fascial line. My bad walking had twisted that line outward so that just standing in tadasana with my feet parallel required effort and some discomfort  from my hip through my ankle. Now that effort is just about gone, and there is only a shadow of discomfort left where that line passes on the inside of the ankle joint. My foot is working properly, and I am finally getting my right hip working properly when I walk! Changing my gait has been a long, tough road (trace that spiral down from the spine to the foot, and all the stops in between–all of them had to be dealt with, and sometimes they didn’t like changing), but serious progress has been made.

File Jun 04, 11 12 33 AM

Physical Therapy at Memorial Orthopaedic Surgical Group

On the down side, my lack of upper body activity, the fact that my right arm was pretty much useless for several months, and the fact that I discontinued my left-over exercises from the physical therapy that I did on my right rotator cuff, have conspired to whack out my left rotator cuff. So I am now back in PT again at Memorial Orthopaedic Surgical Group for that condition. I also need to investigate a problem with the outside of my right ankle. There is some kind of physical analog of an IED buried in there that still causes severe pain if I step wrong and keeps me from trusting that foot the way I would like to. Just another in that long line of injuries and insults that I have been dealing with.

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As of right now I am physically a bit behind where I was at this same point last year, but I can also see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once I have taken off the excess weight I will be able to move from rebuilding mode to a maintenance mode that requires time and effort, and I will then be able to get back into the blogging groove. I promise!!