Saturday, April 11, 2015


The ride from Durango to Albuquerque was beautiful in parts. I drove through some pretty impressive red rock formations.

At the Motel 6, the young guy checking me in had his arm in a sling so it was a struggle for him to do the simplest things. I found out that it was a snowboarding accident. This is the second time on this trip that I had this happened to me at Motel 6 (and only the second time ever in all the many years I’ve been staying in them, so it might be a new policy) but for guests paying with cash, they ask for a cleaning/damage deposit.

The first time it happened, I thought it was because of it being a Studio 6, and maybe people take off with or damage the pots and pans or the kitchen. But this time it was a simple, no-frills Motel 6 room. Since I had arrived after 6pm, they had already charged my credit card for that night, but I was staying two nights, so I still owed them for the second night. If I wanted to pay cash, I had to leave an additional cash deposit. I said to go ahead and run my credit card, but he told me he couldn’t; he had to swipe it. I thought it was odd because just about half an hour ago, they charged my card for the room, and I know I have a credit card on file with them. But I went out to my car and grabbed the card to pay that way and avoid the cash deposit.

Funny thing about this property asking for a deposit. Because the desk clerk’s shoulder wasn’t the only thing non-functional. Fortunately I was able to use the laundry room, but the ice machine wasn’t working. And the art work that was hanging above the beds in my room were missing, with not a lot of effort made to cover up the fact that they had obviously been hanging there for quite a long time.  On the upside, they did have a working microwave oven in the lobby, which is a big deal for me as I don’t much care for eating cold sausage.

The next day I lazed around a lot. I took River on a couple of long walks in some parks and we went to the grocer and the pet store to stock up on food for both of us.

Class was that night at Studio Sway. In the past, the management has balked at having River in the studio, and in fact, one year I almost didn’t include a stop in Albuquerque because they weren’t going to allow River to come inside. But he and I have both made great strides and progress toward him being a real, independent dog. And the last class I taught, in Durango, was with him waiting in the car. So I decided that I didn’t feel like bringing his crate. It would have required breaking it down in the room, loading it into the car, loading it into the studio and setting it up, then breaking it down after class, loading it into the car and then loading it back into the motel room and setting it up again. I opted, instead, for leaving him in the car during class. I knew that there was an open air, covered parking garage so even if the temperatures were higher than they were (low 70’s), he wouldn’t get too overheated in just an hour. 

Class went great. That group is so much fun. As my host, Erin, described it, ‘we have a lot of five-year-old energy here.’ It’s true. They love to play and make a lot of noise. It makes my job as a teacher so easy when I’m in front of a group so easily excited.

And River was fine in the car. After class, I went out to get him and brought him to the steps outside the studio where he could meet some of the students who were interested in seeing him.

That night I had a burger. I saw a sign at Bob’s Burgers saying they served Santa Fe style “Ranchero” burgers so I wanted to experience that. It was so good; loaded with spicy green chilis. Next have to have something with red and then something 'Christmas style' with both red and green.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spontaneous Double-Header in Durango

The motel in Farmington, NM was super no-frills. No microwave anywhere on the premises so I couldn’t heat up my sausages. I went instead to get a burger from Blake’s Lotaburger. I put my own fermented pickles and red peppers on it.

I woke up and drove a bit over an hour to teach a class in Durango, Colorado. It’s a cute, historic town with lots of outdoorsy type people. I had never been there and in fact had never even heard of it until a few months ago. When I heard there was a Nia community there, I contacted them and set up a class. 

I had a bit of a challenge finding the place. The address was on 3rd Street and I kept entering Third Street into my navigation but it was saying such a street didn’t exist. Finally, when I used the number instead of spelling it, I found it. 

And then when I got there, it was the longest walk from the car to the studio that I’ve ever had in all my years of teaching on the road. I took the crate and the dog in two trips, because of it. I left River in the car until I found the studio and had the crate set up, then went out and got him.

It was super fun to present Frankie Say Nia to the dozen students who were really energetic and loved the 80’s music. I learned a few more things about the routine, as well. It gets tighter every time I teach it.

After class, I took River out to the car and then made my way back to the studio to get the crate. As I was folding up the blankets, the students for the next class started to come in and we all got to talking. Turns out it was another Nia class and when the teacher found out who I was and what I was doing, she asked me if I wanted to teach her class. I decided to do it, while River waited in the car.

I didn’t teach Frankie Say Nia, though. That would’ve been weird. So I got out the Rock & Roll class I was working on in Sedona, and taught that one. They loved it! 

After class, I took River to the river front and we played for a bit. I got a few really good barks out of him in the context of our playing. It seemed to flow easily from him, even though I didn’t have any food. I forgot to bring my camera with me.

We finally hit the road for Albuquerque by about 2:30 pm. The trip had some incredibly scenic rock formations. I tried to capture some on camera, but the pictures can't do it justice. The size of the rocks are part of the beauty, and the deep, rich red color of the dirt doesn't really show up as such on these shots.

I got to the motel by about seven and ate some food. They have a microwave in the lobby, so I was able to eat out of my cooler. I had some sausages and corn chips and some of my fermented vegetables.

I think I’m going to have to throw some of them away. The flavor doesn’t seem right on a few jars. One tastes a bit like mildew and two others have that weird diaper smell I don’t like. What’s weird is that just two nights ago they were delicious. I think I may have been a bit too light on the salt in those jars. And without the refrigeration, the salt is even more important. 

So I’m going to chuck a jar of asparagus, a jar of celery and one with a mixture of carrots, broccolini, fennel and celery. I made three jars of the latter, so hopefully the other two jars aren’t also nasty. I’m not too upset, though because this frees up some jars for me to make some more. I might wait until I’m staying at someone’s house so I can use a proper kitchen. That will be in two more days. Tomorrow night I will teach in and stay the night in Albuquerque.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Arizona Adventures

In Tempe I had a room in a Studio 6  as opposed to my usual Motel 6.

The Studio includes a kitchen, which I like to have access to every week or so. I used the kitchen to boil some eggs and cook up a pork chop, but other than that, I didn’t really need it. Most of what I did was chopping and putting more vegetables in jars, which I could do in any motel room. It was nice to have the sink, but often I can make it work in the little bathroom sink. The pork chop, which was quite delicious, is something I couldn’t have done in the regular motel room with a microwave, so maybe that was worth the stay.

Tempe was hot and dry. I stayed there for two nights. In the evening of the second night I was scheduled to teach a class at a new-to-me space in Phoenix. I had never made it into Phoenix in all my past trips. Not for lack of trying, but the situation never worked out before. Finally this year, it all came together and I mad my debut at Village Athletic Club in Phoenix thanks to the gracious hosting of Casey Fernandez, who is a bit of a dog lover and talked to River a lot. She would use a high voice and say. “are you ready for Nia class? huh? are you ready for a Nia class today River? Huh? Is River ready for a Nia class? Huh, River? Are you ready for class?” which is very difficult for River. He doesn’t know how to answer, but he handled it great. He sort of looked at her and then looked away. I thought I’d be clever and ask her to ‘play bodyguard’ and make sure none of the students come up and tried to talk to River while I’m setting up his crate in the room. But her tactic for that was to monopolize him. She spoke to him the whole time I was setting up the crate. Afterward, she explained to the onlookers that she had been chosen to run defense for River. I added, ‘yes I was hoping you’d prevent other people from doing what you just did.” We all laughed.

Class was great. It was my first time teaching Frankie  Say Nia in a room with no mirrors. It’s easier to follow along with the teacher when we’re all facing in the same direction. But then I can’t see the students and I love to see them. So I need to flip around mid-class without missing a beat, and then start reversing all my cues by saying “right” when I’m going left so that it still makes sense to them. It’s tricky; and it’s fun to find the places where I can flip around without being too distracting.

Also I didn’t have a microphone, and I had the music really loud so I found  that I couldn’t use as much dynamic emotion in my voice as I like. And I ended up being sort of monotone loud.
After Nia class in Phoenix


Then next morning I got up early and drove about two and a half hours to teach a class at the Flagstaff Athletic Club. This was my third time in this facility. This is the infamous location where my precious hoodie went missing last year. (If you don’t know the story, it had a happy ending. I called the facility the next day and someone had turned it into lost and found.)

I was surprised how cold it was in the morning when I got out of the car in Flagstaff. I had acclimated to the dry, hot, low desert and now I was at 7000 feet, which made a big difference in the temperature and the feeling of my breaths. I had to pace myself a few times in class as I was feeling winded by the lack of oxygen.
River didn't quite know what to make of the cactus.

There were quite a few students that had taken class from me on prior visits and were excited to learn I was coming back and to take class from me again. I was surprised, because I never got the feeling that I was going over that well, but it just goes to show, you can never really tell how you’re being perceived.

After class, and after a long chat with my producer, Stephanie, I hit the road for Sedona. I was supposed to text my friend, Alba, whose home I was staying in, but I didn’t have cell phone or internet service in Flagstaff or anywhere along the route to Sedona. I set the navigation for the city of Sedona with no address, hoping I could contact her once I got into town. But still I got no service. So I just drove blindly through town, following my trusty sixth sense of direction and after taking some turns that were surprising to my conscious mind, I found myself in her driveway without ever knowing the address, the name of the street or what part of town she was in. I had stayed there once before; a year ago. But my physical memory is kind of uncanny that way. I drove for a while, not knowing where I was. Things didn’t necessary look familiar, but the direction just ‘felt’ right. At last I pulled into a private drive, fully expected to have to turn back but eventually I realized I was there. I had found it.

Alba made me a lovely dinner and we chatted all night until it was time for bed.

The next day another Sedona Nia teacher came over and I taught both of them all the moves to a playlist we put together out of some of my classic rock & roll Nia songs. My hope is to come back in a few months and let them teach my routine to me!

In the meantime I had left River crated in the room where I sleep, while we worked on the routine in the living room. His crate has a plastic bottom liner which I cover with a cushion and then I had some blankets over the top to make him a cozy den. Hours later, I come back and the plastic bottom was outside the crate and all of the blankets were inside and he was on top of them.

So I left him that way, if that’s how he wants it…

After we were done, I took him for a walk to the creek near Alba’s house. I fed him and we played with the tug toy a little bit. There was no one around so I let him explore the water a little bit as I sat back and watched.

When it was time to go, I had him on the leash and got him interested in the toy buy playing keep away for a while until he was really desperate to get it from me and I let him grab it. We took off briskly, and he was going over the dirt trail and over rocks and leaves and wasn’t letting go of the toy. 

Then we heard a small dog yapping and running toward us. We were almost going to clear the path of the little dog, but she emerged from behind some dry grass just as we were passing. River dropped the toy and stood and watched the dog bark furiously at us and show us her teeth. River moved in closer to sniff the dog and as he got closer, got swept up in her frenzy. He kicked up some dirt and did a little hop, like he wanted to engage with her, but she wasn’t having it. This flummoxed him and I could see him looking around for a way out of the situation. I picked up the toy and held it out for him to see, a few feet away, but in his peripheral vision. He caught sight of it and immediately bit it and took off with it, dragging me behind. We ran and ran while the bitch chased us yipping all the way. I could hear her owner calling her name, but that owner’s voice was growing softer and softer as the three of us ran down that trail. River kept a strong hold on that toy, even after the yippy dog backed off and we slowed our pace. At one point we came to a crossroad in the path and he looked up at me before making the choice. Still with the toy in his mouth, we came to the spot where he had pooped. I had scooped in into a bag and left it there to pick up on my way back out of the creek. When i picked it up, he seemed sheepish, but I put it in my pouch and played with his toy without him until he was interested enough in it to bite and carry it all the way back to the house.

When we got there, he was hesitant to go back in the house, and visibly shaken up and still a bit anxious, so I took him to the car and had him sit in the boot while I gave him a massage. He seemed to like that.

Then I had a great homemade dinner with Alba and her husband, Fitz before heading to bed.

In the morning, Alba, Wendy and I got together and jammed some choreography for an amazing song that will hopefully end up in my Community Synergy routine. After that, I showed Alba how to make preserved lemons. Then I packed up the car and took off, leaving Arizona for now. Next stop, Farmington, New Mexico.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cali to 'Zona

This first thing I had planned today was to meet with some of the local (Santa Monica) Nia teachers and do some choreography jamming. I got caught in traffic on the way there yesterday and would have been late had I not allowed an extra half hour to get there early. So today I allowed for the amount of time the drive yesterday actually took. But to my surprise the traffic was much thicker and slower and started sooner than it did yesterday, so I ended up arriving about five minutes late.

When I got there the teachers were already jamming so I just stepped in. They showed me a few of the songs they had already created and I liked one of them so we just designated that one as the Santa Monica contribution to my next routine. I showed them the choreography to a couple of my Frankie Say Nia songs and everyone was happy.

They bought me breakfast at Starbucks and I even had an espresso. (I know! Those of you keeping track might remember that I don't typically have any coffee outside of my one morning French press. But it was just one espresso and it was delicious with my egg, cheese and sausage on an English muffin.

In the course of our chatting, I discovered that one of the women used to live in Seattle. Oh, I said. I live there, too. We compared notes. We both lived in the Capitol Hill area; my favorite neighborhood. She gave me the intersection and my jaw dropped. I said, "No way! I also live on 12th and Republican!" She explained how she lived in the town homes on the corner. "But those are the townhomes I live in!!" It was getting weird, but it continues.

"When you drive in the garage, my space was the first one on the right!"  You're kidding! That's my unit! She and I were talking about the same unit! I live in the townhouse that she used to live in ten years ago! I showed her pictures and she confirmed. What a small world!

After the choreography jam and breakfast, River and I got in the car and headed southeast to Tempe.
I took the Pomona Freeway, which I almost never do. It was fun because it's a winding, treacherous road with a really high speed limit. Even though the posted limit was 65, the prevailing speed was less than 60 because of a bit of congestion. Another factor confusing the issue is multiple speed limits. On the same highway, I can go 65 MPH, any vehicle with more than two axles or towing a trailer has a 55 MPH speed limit. On a road with only two lanes, that can cause an occasional bottleneck; especially when the slower vehicles want to pass each other. But no worries. I'm just reporting the conditions, not editorializing. I had no vested interest in any sort of driving speed nor arrival time, so I was Mr. Zen in the traffic. River was pretty chill, too.

The further away we got from the Pacific Ocean the higher the temperature and the lower the humidity. It wasn't long before I could feel the mucus membranes feeling dry. At one of the rest stops we took, I accidentally left River's bowl of water sitting on top of the pile of coats in the back seat area. As I took a U-turn to get back on the highway, it sent the bowl tumbling. I only knew it happened because I heard a distinct splashing sound. I pulled off the road to investigate and learned that the water had ended up in the storage cubby at the base of the passenger door. I guess it's storage for sunglasses and maps etc, but I reached my hand in and felt a puddle of water deep enough to submerge my fingers in up to the first knuckle.

I had a thought. No puddle of water is any match for these conditions. With the windows down creating strong wind conditions with the dry, desert air, I wondered how much of the puddle would survive the trip, so I decided to leave it there and drive on. I had a feeling that the added moisture was actually increasing my comfort as my nasal passage and my throat felt less assaulted on this leg of the drive.

After about an hour and a half of driving, we took another rest break. I was wrestling with the thought that the pool of water would soak into the material of the car door, get into the sound system or something and cause damage. But when I reached my hand into the cubby, it was bone dry. Not even a hint of evidence that there was ever an entire bowl of water in there. It had completely evaporated. Closer inspection of the inside of the cubby showed me that it was seamless and made of thick plastic, so I was convinced than none of it soaked in, but that it all dissolved into the dry air.

I reserved a Studio 6 in Tempe, rather than my typical Motel 6. The Studio includes a fully stocked kitchen, so I am going to make a trip to Whole Foods and get some meat that I can cook on the stove and/or the oven. I'll also buy some fresh vegetables and put them in some of the jars that have been emptied since leaving Seattle over a week ago. While I'm here I can also do some laundry. I have all day on Thursday to do these household chores before I'm back on again, teaching Nia in Phoenix.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Southern California Fun

On Friday, the day started with a nice long walk in the sunshine with River around the parking lot and vacinity of the studio in Campbell where we were going to gather for my FreeDance Playshop.

It was a thrilling few hours as we addressed what FreeDancing is, why we do it and how we do it. It is so rewarding to see lightbulbs go off and boundaries be challenged by playing around with the wonders of FreeDance.

A couple of the students were loath to accept the notion that FreeDance could be guided. They insisted that it was only FreeDance if they could do whatever they wanted. I first assured them that they could do anything they wanted in a FreeDance and not be incorrect, but that in a Nia class, the majority of the time there is some form of guidance being given. And that is also FreeDance because the choice of movement is ultimately up to the student to make.

In my Frankie Say Nia routine, there are two instances where I will establish a movement kata and then after a while say that it's time to take the movement through the room. That, too, is a form of FreeDance, as the student chooses how and where to do the movement. As a teacher, my intention when offering guidance is to assist and stimulate the student, not to prohibit anything or to consider anything the student is doing as being wrong. 

And to top off the experience, I like to teach my all FreeDance routine. One of the participants was a long-time teacher with many older routines under her belt and she recognized many of the FreeDance songs that Carlos has crafted over the years. The first song from Mantra, the swordplay song from Bliss, the fool dance from Universal Mind, the flounce from AO, etc.

Immediately after the playshop ended, I packed River up and we drove all the way down to Santa Barbara. I stayed at my Aunt Dorothy's house, which is a house I have frequented for as long as I can remember. Every year in August for an Old Spanish Days celebration, she and my Uncle Tommy would host a big Spanish feast. My favorites were the enchiladas. I looked forward to them every year. And so of course, I had plenty of enchiladas while I was there. I had some for dinner, and then, for breakfast, I had a few more with fried eggs on top had then I had a cooler full of them when I left the next day.

Five months ago (since the last time I saw her) she retired from a long-term stressful job in a law office and from that time until now she has lost a lot of weight and feels terrific. She exercises several times a week and knows it has benefits, but also feels strongly that she lost the weight because of the reduction of stressors in her life. Namely, her job. I tend to agree with her assessment. I'd say it sounds like the M.O. of a hormone called cortisol, which she's no longer pumping herself with every day, 24 hours a day.

River can certainly feel the difference between being in a live house and in a motel room. I wanted to leave River in the car and set up a crate for him in 'my room' so I could just scoot him right into it. She seemed to think it was sad, but I explained to her that it wasn't because when I brought River into the giant house, he'll want to fill it with his nervous energy and that invites people to react to him and it becomes a vicious circle of excitement. It was a cat house, too. And the cat was nowhere to be found, but River was constantly on the lookout for the source of that ubiquitous odor.

Having the crate ready and ushering him straight into it, gives him a chance to relax and acclimate to the 'buzz' and the scent of the house before he reacts. 'He's not in trouble', I explained, 'I'm helping him relax'.

The next day, Dorothy, River and I took a long walk to a park where River and I played a few good rounds of Bite and Carry. After that, River spotted a dog waiting to cross the street at the corner and stretched down into a slow bow that collapsed into a sideways heap. Much better than his typical old response which was to go on high alert, and possibly escalate to defensive tactical action.

Next stop was San Diego.

I arrived early enough in SD that I couldn't check into my motel, so River and I went to the food co-op store to refill our water jugs and then hung out at Robb Baseball Field. We hung out in the sun for a long time, I did some of my exercises and snuck in some for him.

At one point, we ran too far astray from the soft grass and found some grass prickly enough to make us both wince and slowly step backwards and turn around and walk lightly with thorns in our feet. By the time we were done, he lied down for a while, calmly panting with big open face.


I lost track of time and ended up sitting and playing in the sun for about two hours. I ended up with a sunburn, but it was worth it. I met up with my facebook friend and Nia sister, Audrey in the mall for some like totally cool and awesome good for you food. I got a squash pizza with a generous heap of arugula and ate half of it before class and the other half as a midnight snack.

I taught Frankie Say Nia with an enthusiastic group, many of whom had gone all out eighties with hair scrunchies and bright neon! It was right in the flightpath for the nearby airport. So about four times during class, all we could hear was the jet engine. The funny thing is that afterwards, at dinner a student in class explained that they were so used to the regular jets that they don't even hear them anymore. That helps explain why my jokes about the jet noise didn't get any laughs.

After having dinner with some folks from the class we got back on the highway and headed up north to L.A. where we spent the night.

First thing in the morning, I was back in traffic on my way to teach a class in Santa Monica. So much traffic, in fact, that I was at one point wondering if  maybe I had underestimated the time it would take to get to the studio, find parking and get set up. As it turns out, I got there in plenty of time and found parking right by the door.

Frankie Say Nia was off the charts in L.A! The energy from Santa Monica did not disappoint. Much singing, much smiling, joyful moving and bright neon colors. Very creative and inspiring energy.

Tomorrow, I'm excited to be getting together with some of the LA Nia teachers and putting together my first collaborative song for the community synergy routine before I take off for our next destination; Tempe.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Double Header in Northern California

This morning I woke up at 6:00am, giving myself one hour before wanting to hit the road. In that hour, I expected myself to wake up, take a shower, get dressed, make my coffee, take a picture of it, post it to Facebook, drink it, wash the dishes, walk River and give him enough time to do his business, pack up my bags and load the car up. Miraculously, I made it. When I started the engine, it was 7:01am.

The sun was coming up in the east as I drove east to my destination. I got to learn two things about Babe this morning. One is that I don't know how to control the brightness of the instrument panel. And I have all the lights set to dim automatically in response to the sun. For some reason, the effect this morning confused the sensors and I had a face-full of morning sunlight and a super dim dashboard. Net result, I couldn't see anything. I had to guess my speed and go entirely by sound on the navigation. Whenever I had a chance,  fuss around, looking for a knob or button or dial that would bring the lights back up. To no avail. I still don't know how to override that automatic brightness control. Add that to the list of things I need to ask the dealer about when I get back to Seattle.

The other thing I learned this morning was that I don't know how to turn the headlights on. As I said, everything is set to automatic. But I went through a 'Daylight Safety Corridor" with a sign asking "Turn Headlights On for the Next 12 Miles" which I had to disobey since I couldn't figure it out. By the way, this one I did eventually figure out, when I stopped. I searched high and low and finally found the headlight dial.

I got to the studio in Nevada City and was the first one there. So I took River on another little walk and took the opportunity to eat some fruit. Class today was at Core Movement Center and there were more belted students in class than non-belted. This makes my job as the teacher SO EASY! They knew all the moves and loved to move, so I had to only make the merest suggestion and the whole room was all over it. So much fun. And the floor in the space is delightful. Soft and squishy like a wrestling mat.

I know that people in California love to talk about the highways. So I made a point of remembering the route I took from Nevada City to San Jose where my next stop was. I-80, to 680, to 880.

Along the way, I saw a sign designating a Vista Point. I love those and unless I'm crunched for time, I will usually stop and check it out. But once I got off the highway, there were no signs pointing to right or left.  I went right, hoping to find it. I passed a power plant with smoke billowing out of the spires. And I passed a trainyard and ended up on a dead end street in an industrial business complex.

click here for video

River and I played with his toy for a bit. Then we just walked around soaking up the sunshine. We ended up just hanging out there in Benicia for an hour, and never did find any Vista Point.

I didn't hit any traffic, which was a nice surprise for driving in the Bay Area. But this is interesting...
On Sunday I taught two classes and I also teach twice today. On Sunday, going from my first to second gig, I noticed that traffic going the opposite way (into Portland as I was going out) was horrendous. It was stopped for what seemed like miles. I was so glad to be going west and not east. And then again today, going from gig number one to gig number two, I saw a parking lot on the highway going the opposite direction as me. I was glad not to be leaving San Francisco and headed east because many of those people were going to be late to wherever they were headed. 

I rolled the odometer over 1000 miles just outside of Vacaville today. At the 921 miles mark, I saw an alarming message on my display. It said "Drive Train Malfunction! Full Power Will Not Be Available. Contact Service." Well, that certainly did not fill me with confidence. I didn't feel anything change in the way the car was handling or responding, and the message disappeared eventually without a trace. Later, when I was stopped, I searched through everywhere I knew I might see a warning, but came up empty. I'll be sure to mention it to the next Mini dealer I drive past.

I made it to the Motel 6 just before 3:00pm. I had on my Motel 6 t-shirt, which usually gets a few raised eyebrows and comments. I would swear they often thing I'm from corporate, and I'm checking up on customer service skills.  (which is dumb. If I was checking up on you, I'm not going to announcing it with a company brand T shirt.)  And maybe it's just a co-incidence, or maybe they just feel a kinship with me, but it feels like whenever I check in wearing this t-shirt, I get over-the-top friendly customer service.  I think if he didn't have to stay manning the desk, he might have walked me (or carried me) to my room.

I showered and ate and rested up and then headed to the studio for my second class.

Teaching two classes in a day is a challenge for me. Not physically, as I could easily teach for hours, but it's more of a mental and emotional challenge. Mentally, I sometimes get confused, thinking "didn't I just say this?" Or in the second class I might make a reference to something I had said in the first class, and it falls flat because the students in the second class have no idea what I'm referring to. And emotionally, it can be a challenge if I find myself expecting for a repeat of the first class. I can sometimes catch myself not being in the moment the second time around, but comparing the two experiences.

Fortunately today, none of that happened. Today's second class was very different than the first one. There were a lot of belts in this class, too, which I love. The room was twice as big and the attendance about half of this morning. I had a great time with both groups today and learned things about the routine each time.

As I was setting up the stereo (I couldn't figure out how to plug in my microphone) I heard the sound of my phone's camera shutter going crazy. I must've been holding the button down and was taking picture after picture. As soon as I heard the shutter sound, I immediately faced the camera and smiled. The resulting picture is quite horrific and embarrassing.  This was not one of my better moments.

After class, Terre and her husband John took us all out to dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery. I had a burger with hashbrowns, cheese, bacon and a fried egg on it, with steamed vegetables on the side. It was so good. River sat with us without incident. The worst thing that happened over dinner was when I was talking about a Nia movement, using my arms wildly, just as the waiter walked up and caught a fist bump in his groin. I don't think I hurt him too badly, though.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Heating up in Northern California

When I woke up in Medford it was a brisk 55 degrees, but by the time we crossed over into California, the temperature had shot up almost 30 degrees. In the 80's, my sweats and hoodie were definitely overkill. It was just plain old hot by 2 pm.

I'm having some issues with Babe the Blue. I love the exterior, but inside, so far, she and I are not getting along. A lot of it (I hope) has to do with my learning curve and being used to things different. I'm not really getting the hang of the integration with the iPhone. In the past, I've had zero luck with any iPhone/Mini integration. My dealer assured me they have been working on it, but I have yet to be impressed in the slightest. In order for me to play music that I have on my phone, I have to unlock my phone, enter my security PIN, navigate to iTunes, find the song and press play. All on the phone, while driving! And this, they call integration? The only thing the car is doing is serving as a speaker. I can see the playlist on my car using the Mini controls, but I can't change the playlist that's playing, press play or pause or skip to the next track. It seems the only thing I can actually do from Mini is to replay the song that's currently playing.

If I get tired of fussing with that, I can unplug my phone from the car and play the music out of my iPhone speaker. Or so you'd think!! No! For some reason when I"m in my car, I can't get the phone to play. I don't hear the keystroke clicks or any music from iTunes. When I'm back in the motel room, I can hear it fine.

Mini is also supposed to have Voice Activation.  My dealer told me that I could access the navigation system with my voice, but it doesn't seem to work for me. I push the button and I hear no beep and if I say "Help!" which the owner's manual recommended as a way to get an introduction to the system when first using it, I get no response. If the phone is plugged in, and I hold down the Voice Activation button on the steering wheel, I can get in touch with Siri through the car. But when I ask her for directions, she opens up the navigation system on my phone. Nothing shows on the car display.

There are still other issues I'm having with the car. But as I said, I'm not sure if they're real issues or just my adjustment period. And I didn't want this whole blog to be me complaining about the car, so I'll save some other observations for a different entry.

I'm really hoping that I'm just not figuring out the right way to operate these things because if this is Mini's idea of iPhone integration and Voice Activation, I'm not interested and I may even start test driving other models of car until Mini can get it together.

The driving part is fun, though. There's a SPORT mode and regular driving and a GREEN mode. In Sport, the car seems much more responsive and the suspension is tighter, so I can really take turns and accelerate quickly. It's fun for windy roads or city driving.

In GREEN mode, the response is more softened, and it shows little tips for getting better gas mileage, like when to coast or ease my foot of the gas pedal a bit. And it keeps track of how many extra miles I've squeezed out of the tank by driving Green.

As we drove into California, I saw the beauty of Mt. Shasta, with a crescent moon over it. It doesn't show up in this picture though.

The solution to the problem of River pushing Babe's buttons wasn't resolved by the placement of the driving journal. It slowed the the problem down, but eventually, he was just mashing all of the buttons with the book and still changing my display. So I had to make some bigger changes...

This new system seems to work so far. The one weird thing is that River stands up on the door handle and really sticks his head out the window when we're going slower than 35 MPH. So I had to take away window privileges by rolling it up when we're not on the highway.


The uploading and processing of these simple videos is turning out to be much more trouble than their worth. If I don't find the groove, I'm afraid I'm not going to be motivated to keep a blog of my travels. Which is a shame because I love to share all the cool stuff I'm doing and the thoughts I'm having.

Again it seems to be an issue with compatibility between iPhone, Blogger, YouTube and iPhoto. I wish there was just a simple way to shoot some video on the road. Put all the video into one place and edit them nicely into one single video of the highlights, and then pop that up on my blog. If there is a way to do this, I haven't figured it out and don't even know where to begin or what to do differently than what I'm trying, which doesn't work. Error messages stress me out. And not knowing how to do something is incredibly frustrating. It's harshing my road trip buzz. So don't be surprised if I suddenly go silent.